Over a year and a half into this wonderful blogging journey, I can’t help but stop and think about all of the struggles I went through to get my blog into the place it is today.
I still think of myself as a relatively new blogger, but I know I’m light years from where I was this time last year, and know that I have many more steps to make my blog grow even more.
Here are 11 things I wish someone would have told me before I started my blog. These are things I know without a doubt today, but if you would have asked me a year ago, I probably would have looked at you dumbfounded.
Keep in mind some of the links in today’s post contain affiliate links. If you click on one of them and decide to make a purchase, I’ll end up with a small commission that helps keep this blog up and running.
1. Bloggers who claim you can build your website in a day are lying.
Anyone who says you can build a successful website in one day is probably just trying to get every last dime out of you possible. Please know that while you can set up a website (domain and hosting) in a matter of a few minutes, setting up a profitable and organized blog will take you weeks, if not months. Don’t rush this! I can’t tell you the number of WordPress themes I went through before I found one that fit my needs.
These so-called “professional bloggers” say you don’t have to worry about your design in the beginning, and if you have the right content, traffic will come. I completely disagree with this approach! Start everything off right from the very beginning. Your blog should be considered the face of your business. Be dedicated to putting your best face forward. If that means it’ll take 2 months, make it the best 2 months ever!.
2. You don’t need to pay thousands for someone else to build your site
You can build a website all by yourself. That’s what I did. Unless you are a major corporation, building a website is easy! You might start to think that you don’t have a chance to compete with others who do fork out the dough for a professional website, but think again. Take the time it takes to research all of your options, and determine the best hosting service and blogging platform to suit your needs.
If you don’t already have a web host, I highly recommend SiteGround. I’ve been using them for the past several months, and have been 110% satisfied.
3. Be willing to put a little money into your blog.
I can’t tell you how many times I see someone’s blog address that is obviously a free account. If you want to be taken serious as a blogger, please don’t settle for a free blogging platform. Yes, WordPress has a lot to offer, but you need to pay the small amount of extra cash to go self-hosted.
I currently self-host my blog and my domain name with SiteGround. When you go self-hosted, you don’t get a shitty url such as www.goaskyourdaddy.wordpress.com. You get www.goaskyourdaddy.com. Your domain should say everything about you as a person and as a blogger. Having a free account discredits you almost immediately!
I also put some money into the promotion of my blog. Tailwind has been a great addition to my tools, and it only cost me $114 per year. The return I’m getting from my investment is increased traffic from Pinterest, and a more controlled way to manage my pins.
4. You won’t see raving results overnight
Many bloggers get the impression that once they hit publish, thousands of visitors are just going to come flocking to read the latest and greatest post. Not so. After you hit the publish button, the work only begins from this point. You HAVE to be willing to put in the extra effort that it takes to promote you blog and your content.
If you aren’t a full-time blogger, like me, you have to find the time to share and promote your posts on a regular basis. You cannot expect thousands of hits to come after you hit publish. I’m not saying it can’t happen, but chances are very slim you are going to go viral on your first post unless you put enough effort into promoting it.
5. Be careful with guest post requests
No sooner had I launched my blog when the guest post requests started rolling in. I usually get 5 to 10 requests from other bloggers claiming they follow my site and then “pitched” me their ideas for guest posts they think my audience would love.
I don’t accept guest posts any longer because these types of posts are usually unrelated to my blogging niche and are promotional in nature. I also don’t like the idea of someone else’s voice on my blog. Maintaining the right tone and content is very important to me in keeping my readers engaged.
If you do decide to accept guest posts, I recommend creating a firm set of guidelines and adhere to them. Make sure the submitter has more intentions than promoting his or her own blog.
6. You don’t have to post every day
When I first started blogging, I felt like I had to post every day for readers to become engaged. Posting too much can actually cause more harm than good. I aim for 2 posts per week, which keeps me more than busy enough promoting the posts and participating in Facebook groups.
There are days that I don’t feel like posting, and that’s OK. Posting when you are ready with a good idea only adds value to your content. Posting just to post leads to garbage. Your readers can definitely tell when you are just throwing content on the page without any real effort.
7. Don’t overload your site with ads
It can be tempting to monetize your blog right off the bat, and there’s nothing wrong with that at all. But, you need to develop a solid monetization plan ahead of time and stick with it. Overloading your site with banner ads slows down your site, makes it less user friendly, and turns potential subscribers away.
When I researched all the ways I could monetize my blog, I decided to focus 100% of my efforts on affiliate marketing. I don’t like the look of a ton of banner ads on my site. With affiliate marketing, you can incorporate links right into the content you are writing.
8. Your blog’s design is important
The theme and layout of your blog is crucial in driving readers where you want them to go when they land on your site. It took me dozens of themes and hours rearranging widgets to get it right.
Don’t make your readers have to search for content. Make it easy and obvious. Your blog’s sidebar should not be filled up with ads and useless social media widgets. Leave it relatively clean so that you have room for your email subscribe form, an about you section, categories, archives, and social media links.
I find it useless to put social media widgets on a sidebar. Not only do they take up space, but your readers can click on your social media icons to see the same information. I prefer to use the space for more important information.
9. You need Pinterest and Tailwind
It’s only been about 3 months, but my blog traffic has started to increase tremendously because of my Pinterest activity. I couldn’t have possibly pinned 80 pins per day manually without the help of Tailwind. Check out my earlier post on how my blog traffic has increased because of Tailwind.
When you put together a pinning plan, make sure that your images are optimized for Pinterest. Vertical pins that are longer do much well because they take up more space and are more visible.
My personal Tailwind schedule is 80 pins per day across 24 different group boards (and growing). If you are looking for group boards in your niche, Pingroupie.com is a great place to start.
10. You need to know how to write well
Nobody wants to read poor writing. I wish I had known to take more time to organize my thoughts and posts when I first started blogging. Now, I use an outline on every single blog post, and I take several days to review it and make it as perfect as possible.
Writing well means writing longer posts. Give up on the 300-500 word blurbs and write more in-depth content. I aim for 1,000-2,000 words in every post.
Do your research properly and write content with a purpose. One mistake I made in the beginning was just writing to write and not having any audience in mind.
11. Don’t ignore SEO
I had no clue what SEO (Search Engine Optimization) was when I first started blogging, and frankly I don’t think I had a reason to care. SEO is basically ensuring that your blog posts will show up through search engines by keywords readers are entering into sites such as Google.
Organic searches can easily become the number one driver of traffic to your blog if you are properly setting your posts up for SEO. Find a balance between using the correct keywords and writing posts your readers will find valuable.
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