I thought it would be fun to post some of the things I wish I knew when I started blogging. Every now and then I come across something and think, “THAT sure would have been nice to know at the beginning”.
If you know someone who recently started, or who is thinking about starting a blog, please share this post with them!
Here’s what I wish I knew back then:
1. It’s hard.
Blogging is definitely fun, but there are times when it is difficult. Those first few months when it seems like you are writing for no one, or trying to juggle multiple advertisers, or dealing with mean readers. These things all happen and are things that you have to deal with. Just remember why you started blogging, keep your goals in mind and work through the tough times.
2. People will follow YOU
The more of yourself you put into your blog, the more people will follow it. There are thousands of blogs out there in cyberspace, but there is only one YOU. If you’re trying to find a niche or be different, just be yourself. That’s all the difference people will need!
3. People are nice.
You will be surprised at the amount of nice comments and praise you get when you write something from the heart, or something helpful. Bloggers are generally very nice, understanding and friendly people. Don’t be afraid to reach out to that “bigger” blogger for advice or help on something. The worst they will do is not respond, but many times they will. Most bloggers don’t forget that they were once new in this space as well.
4. People are mean.
You will also be surprised how there are people who just say mean things behind a computer screen just to say them. You will eventually come across a “troll” whose mission appears to be making your life difficult. Just ignore them. There’s a saying out there in Nerdland that goes “don’t feed the trolls” which basically sums it up.
5. Don’t ignore new social networks.
I am guilty of thinking Pinterest wouldn’t catch on or Instagram doesn’t matter. Those two things couldn’t be further from the truth. As much as I like to reject change, in the online world, it is important that you don’t fall behind due to stubbornness.
6. Customer service means everything when it comes to hosting.
There are a lot of reasons why you would choose one hosting company over another. At the top of your list should be customer service. One of the best hosts out there as far as customer service goes is BlueHost. The last thing you want when you are having issues with your site is for there to be no one available to help you. Look for a host that truly has 24/7 customer support and do your research to make sure it has a great reputation.
7. SEO Matters
If I knew about SEO from day 1, I would be a millionaire. I am confident in that. Taking action to make sure your blog is seen by Google searchers is one of the most important things you can do. With daily searches in the billions, the traffic numbers are almost endless when it comes to Google. Make sure you’re trying to get a piece of that pie from day 1. See basic SEO tips here.
8. You can make money in a lot of different ways.
There are almost countless ways that you can make money on your blog. Affiliate marketing, affiliate sales, AdSense, sponsored posts, private ad space and more. Always keep your eyes open as to how others are making money on their blogs and see if you can work something similar into your own. To see a few ways on making money from your blog, join my email list below and get a copy of my eBook How to Make Earn an Income from Your Blog.
Collecting email lists from day 1 is very important. Even if you don’t have a regular newsletter that goes out, you can use your email list to make important announcements. Got a new Link-Up that you want to promote? Releasing an eBook? Send teasers and release dates out to your email list. The great thing about an email list is that you can take it with you. If you re-brand your blog or start a new one, you can keep your email list in tact! Pat Flynn just released a new podcast with some awesome email list building tips from him and another expert in the field.
10. Facebook Fan Pages are Becoming Useless
As Facebook moves closer and closer to requiring payment for showing any of your posts to fans of your page, I am reminded that there are so many other better social networks out there for bloggers. Spend time building your Twitter, Pinterest or Bloglovin following first. You should still have a Facebook page for your blog, but gone are the days where Facebook is king. Consider creating a Facebook group revolving around your brand. Groups have more of a forum type of feel and members are generally way more involved than fans of pages.
11. You can’t please everyone.
If you write a blog centered around offering advice or helping others (ie. a food blog, coupon blog or DIY blog) you will get a lot of requests. There will come a time when you will get too many requests. Recognize that and don’t get caught up trying to please everyone and their individual requests. Write what you want and at a pace that you can handle. If this means ignoring requests or choosing based on popularity, then so be it.
12. Disclosure is important.
You must be open and honest about whether or not content on your blog is sponsored in any way. This means if you received a free cell phone to write about how awesome Verizon is, you have to disclose the fact that you were compensated. You can choose to specify that you received the phone over cash, but you must reveal that you were compensated in some fashion. Many sponsors will require you (and rightfully so) to include disclosures in their posts.
13. Photos are not public property.
Just because you found a photo in a Google image search or Pinterest does not mean it is up for grabs for anyone to use. Photos with an attribution licence via Creative Commons can generally be used if credit is given to the owner of the photo. See over 42 million photos with this license here: http://www.flickr.com/creativecommons/. Be prepared to be asked to take down photos that you are using without crediting others. Bloggers have been sued for using photos that they did not have rights to, so be careful.
14. People will poach your ideas.
They say imitation is the best form of flattery and this is no different in the online world. People will “borrow” your ideas, photos, artwork or whatever. My advice here is to choose your battles. Obviously you want to address issues where people are blatantly ripping you off, but leave unnecessary squabbles alone. One area where you might want to take preemptive action is with your domain name. It is a good idea to purchase common misspellings or variations of your domain name. People make a business of buying the misspellings and either running ads on them, redirecting them to a competing site or even trying to inflate the price and selling to the owner of the correctly spelled domain. To avoid this, grab some cheap domain names from GoDaddy and just let them sit there. It’ll be worth the $5/year.
15. It’s addicting!
This is especially true when money starts coming in. I remember the first day that I made $1.00 on AdSense. My mind was blown. I have just made money from home, on the internet! Watching follower and reader counts go up is equally as addicting. That being said, you need to set time boundaries for yourself so you’re not spending 24/7 working on your blog. Even if your blog is your main source of income, it is important to spend time away from the computer.
16. Customizing a website is hard work.
Nobody tells you how difficult it is to just move an image an inch to the right, or to put a little advertisement in between posts, but it can be a real pain. Little things that you think are easy turn out to be huge undertakings, or you simply wind up letting them go or paying a techie person. You will constantly be learning as you go with your own blog, or you’ll constantly be paying as you go. I choose to learn (and DIY) most of the time.
17. Outsourcing is easy.
With services like oDesk and Fiverr, outsourcing has never been easier. Whether you need someone to research a topic for you or create a header for you, there’s someone out there willing to do it. And probably willing to do it for cheaper than you might think.
18. You have to be very organized.
Between blog posts, sponsors, advertisers and readers, there’s a lot to balance. Being organized is essential so you’re not missing deadlines and letting things fall through the cracks. Make friends with a good planner very early on. Print my weekly blog planner right here for free!
19. The learning never stops.
This is appropriate for the last point since this list could basically go on forever. As a blogger, you will never stop learning new things. Once you think you know it all, something major will change with one of the social networks or with Google and you’re back to the classroom again. Keep an open mind and be receptive to knowledge.
That’s all for now!
What are some things you wish you had known when you started blogging?
What are some things you still wish you knew more about?