15 Things I Wish I Had Known Before I Started Blogging
I know how it is.
You get the idea of starting a blog and it all seems so easy.
Get a domain, get a web host, install WordPress and you’re almost there, right?
Then all of a sudden, it gets much more complicated.
I’ve been there and learned some harsh lessons along the way and made my share of mistakes.
And that isn’t a bad thing.
Below are some of the blogging lessons that I’ve learned along my journey, and how you can benefit from them:
You need to get serious
I’ve always been a fairly serious person, well, at times.
But in the beginning, I didn’t take things seriously enough (at least not where my blog was concerned).
I was too preoccupied with other things and I had a rather lackadaisical view to the blog I had at the time.
Then everything changed.
I pushed myself to really think about what I wanted, then put together a 5 year plan and wrote it down on scrap of paper.
It included everything I wanted for my life, both professionally and personally.
That scrap of paper ended up shaping my destiny and still does today.
You need to be passionate
In the past I launched various blogs and they failed.
I wasn’t passionate.
Sure, it started out all well and good but as time went on, things started to fall apart.
That’s why it’s so important to choose a niche that you have real passion for.
Passion is the driving force behind everything that I do.
And it’s why I actually spend more time helping people (for free) than I do blogging.
I love what I do, and when you do good things, good things can happen to you.
You need a (well thought out) plan
I have a confession to make.
When I launched Blogging Wizard in 2012, I rushed the launch.
The content was ropey and my plan was flaky.
If I could launch my blog all over again, I would put together a better plan.
Launch with better content and take a bit more time over it.
Although, it’s very easy to go the other way and obsess over every little detail, so much that it paralyzes you.
There needs to be a balance.
Expect to put some money into your blog
When I started out, I knew there was going to be some costs involved.
- Domain registration
- Web hosting
- Mailing list provider
- A decent WordPress theme
As time has gone on my costs have gone through the roof, and, for a while I was spending more than I was making.
That being said, I have made some great purchases that have made my life so much easier.
Sure, I’m spending more money but that money is an investment in the future of my blog and my business.
And plenty of the tools that I have bought help me be way more productive.
I fight a daily battle against time, so that works for me.
Start making money from the start
Making money has never really been a primary goal for me.
I do OK, but, I have never really pushed it to the extent that I needed to.
There are two key ways which allow bloggers to make the big bucks:
- High ticket services (e.g. consulting)
- High ticket products (e.g. in depth training courses)
There’s a good reason why I haven’t done either, yet.
The difficulty wasn’t having the ideas (I’ve got them in spades, probably 10 years’ worth of products), it’s just, having the time.
Back in December 2012 when I launched Blogging Wizard, I was working 7 days a week.
I left for work in the morning.
And when I came back home in the evening, I often found myself working.
My focus was split between too many different projects (and the fact that I was running a marketing agency at the time).
Growing a business (rapidly), developing processes, managing clients and managing staff taught me a lot.
And despite coming dangerously close to burning myself out during that time, I wouldn’t change that experience for anything.
There’s also the fact that I don’t want to rush my first product, and above all else I want it to be genuinely helpful.
My first product is in the works though, stay tuned.
Build your list before you launch your blog
Jon Morrow built his blog to over 13,000 subscribers, and that was before he had even written a single post!
The strategy involved putting together a ‘bribe’, which he offered on his blogs home page when people sign up.
Then actively contributing to authority blogs and driving traffic to that landing page.
I was in such a rush to launch my blog that I just went live and it was a while before I put together a ‘bribe’ for my subscribers.
If I could do this again, what would I do?
- Put together an exclusive piece of content that my target audience would love
- Setup a landing page using LeadPages (aff)
- Start writing for authority blogs and mention my landing page (usually in my author bio)
Don’t neglect your list
One of my biggest regrets is waiting so long to put together something exclusive for my subscribers.
I’ve found that some of the best content that I have read isn’t published on a blog.
It’s exclusive, ‘behind the scenes’ type stuff that you get when you opt-in.
So, I missed a lot of opportunities to grow my list.
And I know some people do view this in a different light but you have to do a lot to get someone to hand over their email address now.
That’s why I am always thinking of new things I can do for my subscribers – I’m grateful to my subscribers for trusting me with their email address.
And I want to repay that trust.
This is why I recently built my new VIP Resource Center.
Whenever someone subscribes to my list now, they not only get a single ‘bribe’ that I’ve mentioned somewhere, they get everything.
Writing more isn’t always the answer
I used to think that writing more content was the answer.
But, it’s not.
Sure, I get more traffic (on average) when I publish more content but it also means that at some level, the quality can suffer.
And it takes time away that I would usually spend promoting content (that’s important).
Your audience can only consume so much, but, it also depends on how lengthy your content is.
This usually means posting less when you are publishing more detailed content and posting more often you write less detailed content.
It is a balancing act.
Your audience is unique, you may have someone you view as a competitor, but, they may not have the exact same audience as you.
Test to find what works.
If in doubt, ask your audience.
Putting a survey together using a tool like Polldaddy is easy (and free).
But, always consider how much time you have available.
You can only do so much
Have you ever done this?
Taken on so much that, you can’t possibly do anymore?
I’m guilty of this and it’s been a hard lesson to learn.
In fact, I’m still working on it.
But, I’m getting there and you will too.
Rome wasn’t built in a day and neither is a successful blog
There are people in your niche that sit at the top.
Why are they there?
They have worked for it; countless late nights, published countless blog posts and a solid plan of how they are going to get to the top.
Becoming an overnight sensation can happen, but don’t rely on it – it’s a rare occurrence.
But, don’t let that deter you.
When you put in the time, dedication, passion and raw effort – you can make it.
There are shortcuts that you can take and writing for authoritative blogs in your niche is a great route to the top.
Perfection can paralyze but it doesn’t have to
Have you ever wanted to create something so perfect that you end up tripping over yourself, trying to get it finished?
The fact that I am actually a perfectionist is probably why.
In time, I’ve learned to stop perfectionism from having a negative impact on my life.
It’s a challenge, but in time it can be done.
We can do anything that we put our minds to.
Master your own productivity (and 7 tips to help you)
I still manage to lose focus, if only occasionally.
But, I am far more productive now than I was even just a year ago.
Above all else, there are some pieces of advice that have stuck with me and had a huge impact on my productivity.
Here are some that have worked for me:
- Value your time – your time isn’t just precious, it’s valuable. Put a monetary value on your time and you might find that how productive you are changes overnight.
- You need time to think – you need time to plan and think things through, even if it’s just 30 minutes each day, it will help to keep you focused.
- Prioritise your tasks – ask yourself if what you are doing is really the most important thing you need to do.
- Cut out negative influences – these are just a distraction and negatively affect your mind-set.
- Eliminate all distractions – If you find yourself getting distracted by something, for example if you find that you’re constantly being disturbed by phone calls, sometimes you may just need to turn your phone off. This might just be something you can’t do if you have people that need your attention to resolve issues, use your best judgement.
- Eat a frog a day – if there’s something you have been avoiding, get it over and done with early on in the day.
- Use tools to manage your tasks more effectively – Asana and Trello can work very well.
One of the most effective is something that I learned from Timo Kiander:
Timo also has a great post full of time saving tips for bloggers, you can find it here.
Sometimes you need to get help and it’s easier than you think
I’m a DIY sort of guy.
Not that I’m actually good with DIY (I’m not) but I like to do things for myself and be completely self-sufficient.
I like a challenge.
Sometimes, that just isn’t possible.
There are times when you need to get someone else involved in what you’re doing.
It may just be getting help with the content writing or editing side of things, possibly inviting guest contributors to write for your blog.
Or, you may want help with the technical side of things or help creating a logo.
We can’t do everything, at least not to the standard that we may want (that’s not for the lack of trying).
This does mean paying people to help us out.
It can save time, stress and we may even be happier with the end result.
The reality is that we do have to consider our budget – if the money isn’t there, it’s not there.
There are plenty of freelance websites where you can find someone to help you.
Be careful and vet anyone you work with – if you know anyone personally who offers similar services, ask them.
It’s important to find people that you trust, to help you.
The work doesn’t stop when you hit publish and you will be glad it didn’t
I know how it feels.
To spend hours, days, even weeks on a piece of content, and, finally you hit publish.
But, nobody ever reads it.
The great piece of content just gathers dust in a corner, never to see the light of day.
It’s not a nice feeling.
That’s why you need to go beyond just publishing your content.
You need to put the time and effort into promoting your content the right way.
It can definitely be time consuming, but, it’s well worth it in the end.
Here’s something else for you.
There are a few things to take into account:
- Who is your target audience? How can you align your content with their needs?
- Which blog posts are already working well for you?
- Which blog posts are working well for other bloggers in your niche?
- What are people searching Google for?
- What are people sharing on social media?
- Are there influencers in my niche that could help me take this post further?
- Can my headlines be improved?
The learning never stops and never should
Learning is important.
It helps us grow and develop into what we want to become.
I’m happy to say that I learn something every day and I always set some time aside to read a new blog post or a book (well, part of one).
It helps me to keep ideas flowing, and, I get a real buzz from figuring something out – I love that about blogging.
Things change fast, especially when it comes to topic areas such as SEO, before you know it what works, doesn’t work.
And there’s always new tools coming on to the market, new tactics being discovered – we can always do something better.
So keep up with your daily dose of brain food and witness the results for yourself.
You’ll be glad that you did.
Over to you
Making a mistake isn’t the end of the world.
But, even if we continue to make mistakes (we’re all human right?), we’re one mistake closer to reaching our goals.
It’s the learning experience that counts.
What about you?
What lessons have you learned?