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While I was browsing Pinterest one day I noticed a pin about starting a blog. I read that article, then another, then another… well, you get the picture! The more I read, the more I realized that blogging was something that I’d like to do. I’d had a couple of personal blogs before and I’d always enjoyed writing and sharing things I was interested in with friends and family. So why not share with a larger audience and help more people (and maybe make a little extra money too!)? I did a lot of research before starting a blog, but nothing prepared me for the reality!
In December 2016 I signed up with BlueHost and registered my domain name. I followed the steps in so many of the “How to Start Blogging” posts and thought I was on my way…
Well, not quite! There was so much I was unprepared for and such an overload of information that I quickly felt overwhelmed.
7 Things I Wish I Knew Before Starting a Blog
So if you are planning to start a blog, I’d like to spare you some of the confusion! Here are 7 things I wish I had known before starting a blog!
1. Keep It Simple
Starting a blog is actually pretty easy. You don’t need a massive amount of money (in fact you can get a domain name and hosting for as little as $3.95 a month with BlueHost!) and it’s fun!
I got caught up in the whole whirlwind of it all and spent far too much money on unimportant things! Fancy themes, logos and advanced e-courses can wait!
Honestly, start off with the basics and build it up from there. I love using BlueHost! It costs very little to get your site set up and ready to go. They make it so easy!
Now, I’m not saying you shouldn’t spend money on your blog. But a lot of us when we start a blog, don’t have a lot of spare money and need to be careful about how we spend our meager budget. Save money where you can, so you can spend it where you need to!
(If you’re having trouble getting the funds together to start your blog, why not try a No-Spend Challenge, to save up enough money to get started?)
2. It’s a Lot of Work!
I’d read so many articles about starting a blog and not many of them talked about the sheer amount of work that you will
need want to put in! I could work on my blog 12 hours a day, 7 days a week and I’d still think of more things I’d want to do!
So the most important thing to get used to early on is PRIORITIZING!
Before starting a blog you read and hear so much information that you think you need to be doing all of it at once. Write content, work on your theme, optimize SEO, grow your social media following, get email subscribers, create opt-ins, get more Pinterest followers… the list goes on and on! Quite frankly, it’s completely overwhelming when you start out.
You can’t do it all, and you shouldn’t even try to at first. Rather than trying to do everything at once (and probably not very well!), it’s better to focus on one or 2 areas at a time. What you focus on depends on your blogging goal, but really you can’t do much until you’ve written some awesome content!
Which brings me on to my third point…
3. Have at Least 10+ Posts Ready Before You Launch
This is my number 1, numero uno regret! I did read this advice before I started my website, but I thought it sounded a little extreme. Why on earth would I need so many posts already written? Surely I can just write them as I’m going along? I was anxious to get started, I wanted to start seeing traffic to my site.
WRONG!!!!!!! (Ugh, I hate to admit when I’m wrong, so this is REALLY hard for me!)
Once you “launch” your website (we’ll get to that later!) you will want to start promoting it. The trouble is… if you don’t have any posts written, you have nothing to promote! Very few people will want to stick around on a blog that only has 2 or 3 articles!
It takes time to write a good post, especially when you are first starting out. You want to make sure you are doing your best work and not rushing to write just about ANYTHING you can think of, just so you can fill up your site (A post about dog diarrhea anyone?!)! Pick your niche and stick to it!
So please, please, please learn from my mistake and write at least 10 posts BEFORE starting a blog and promoting it.
4. No-one Else Cares About Your Launch!
OK, I know this one sounds REALLY mean, but it’s true! Well, OK maybe I few people will care – your mom, your great Aunt Mary or your best friend might be excited for you. But to the rest of the world you are just another blogger with another site.
Don’t expect to hit the “Publish” button and suddenly hundreds of people start flocking to your site. Unfortunately it’s not that easy. But… that’s not to say that you can’t get a lot of visitors in a short space of time. It just takes work, effort and a little know how!
5. Other Bloggers Are Your Allies, Not Your Enemies!
When I first started I was very wary of talking to other bloggers. I viewed them as competition and I didn’t want to risk sharing my ‘secrets’ with them (what ‘secrets’? I was a brand new blogger!). After joining a few Facebook groups I soon realized that other bloggers actually wanted to HELP me, not steal my ideas!
In fact, that is one of the parts of blogging that I enjoy the most. Meeting new people and finding ways to help each other.
I wish I had started connecting with other bloggers (especially ones in my niche) sooner. It makes me wonder how much further along my blogging journey I might be.
With that in mind… please feel free to reach out to me with any questions you might have. I’ll do my best to answer them, and if I can’t I know plenty of knowledgeable people that can help.
6. Pinterest is King!
OK, so I did know this before I started. I had read enough articles about starting a blog, that I knew I needed to maximize my exposure on Pinterest. Almost all bloggers say the same thing – the majority of their website traffic comes from Pinterest.
However, creating a Pinterest account and pinning your articles to it, isn’t enough. No-one will see your pin, no matter how pretty and well designed, unless you have a lot of followers. There are a few different ways to build up your following, but the best place to start is to pin good quality content often. Pinterest rates regular users higher, so the more you pin, the more exposure you will receive. Tailwind is a great tool for this.
One way to make life easier is to use a scheduling tool, such as Tailwind. Tailwind is a super easy way to spend less than 15 minutes a week to schedule a week’s (or more!) worth of pins.
And remember the “80/20 Rule“. 20% of your pins should be your content and 80% other people’s content (that is relevant to your niche).
7. Monetize Your Blog
When I first started I didn’t put enough thought and effort into monetizing my blog. It was a total pain to go back through my posts and figure out how I could add affiliate links to them.
Note: Very basically affiliate links are special links that your readers can click on that will take them to a retailer or service provider – like this one for Blue Host. If your reader purchases something you get a small commission from the sale.
There are literally hundreds of affiliate programs available. It can be difficult to find them, so I like to use a couple of Affiliate Program services that connect me with the companies and make it super easy for me to track my income and find new companies. My favorite two are:
- ShareASale.com – Free to join and they have loads of great companies listed with them. Such as Wayfair, Gymboree or Grammerly.
- Awin.com – There is a $5 j”set-up” fee that you get credited back when you make a sale. They have companies like Etsy, Fiverr and DISH.
What are you waiting for?
So there you have it! If I had know these things before I started my blog, then I think I would be much further along my blogging journey by now.
I adore having a blog. It’s fun, a creative outlet, I get to help people… and make money! What’s not to love?!
So if you’ve been thinking about starting a blog, for fun or for money, then what are you waiting for? Grab the bull by the horns and DO IT!
Reading another article, or spending another week researching, isn’t going to make it any easier to get started. There is no time like the present! Get yourself over to BlueHost and take the plunge! You won’t regret it!
If you’ve already got a blog, what is something you wish you’d know before you started? Let me know in the comments.