When your passion for producing mesmerizing content that your future audience will simply devour by reading it without blinking has reached its peak, you know it’s time to warm up those fingers, light up your keyboard and start typing!
Blogging has become one of the best methods of gaining online recognition, spreading words of inspiration, and getting a hefty income from the comfort of your home. And who will be the connector for channeling your thoughts and delivering them to your readers? Well, WordPress of course!
But choosing the right CMS is a few steps ahead of your starting point. Your road towards glory starts with the most bitter-sweet process of every blogger’s life, and that’s content producing. Dozens of sleepless nights and gallons of coffee drank brought you to completion of your first milestone with the starting content locked and loaded. Readability is satisfied, keywords are researched, content is exceptional.
You proceed to pick your domain name. But that’s just a formality since I know that your online label has been buried in your head from the first day that you’ve decided to embark on this adventure. And the snowball just keeps rolling – you ignite your design team (or accept that task yourself) and start cherry-picking every other piece into your jigsaw puzzle that will result in insight that every potential visitor just won’t be able to click away from. Plugins are slowly but surely piling up. You’ve done your research, and you know what’s up. You mean serious business, mistakes are just not affordable! Gradually, you’ve met your goals, and it’s time to hit it big!
Now, back to reality
But let’s take a few steps back to investigate some other factors that reality served in front of us. The ugly truth is that over 90% of blogs eventually fail. That stat is not really something that you wanted to hear, but being prepared for every conceivable outcome is a must, and if you want to break through, you must be aware that there’s more to it than just sugar and rainbows. The elephant in the room must be revealed – why do so many bloggers fail in their intent to reach glory? The most common reason is *drumrolls* they didn’t listen!
You may have your own ideas, your own path, and your own style, but encountering difficulties is inevitable if you are not following the steps of people that have been on the scene for years and that know which mistakes are you most likely to make.
Everyone was a beginner at some point, but the biggest value that anyone can possess is to learn from others and prevent mistakes from happening in the first place. Experienced pros that are blogging for years, bestseller pieces, experts that know the ins and outs of WordPress and blogging, ideas that were converted into huge businesses…those are only a few aspects that your new companions can brag about.
Do you think that if you had their tips could be of great value to your work? Well, quickly grab a pen and your notepad (or create a new Word document) and start noting because experts are about to speak! Most common errors, most useful advice, most efficient tips for speeding up your progress…everything neatly wrapped to ensure your success and reverse those odds into a 90% chance of hitting your goals.
Here are the best pieces of advice for beginners that are just starting out with their blog:
If I could go back and start my blog from scratch, there are four things that I wish I’d known:
Drop all revenue + traffic expectations at the door – I don’t want this to sound all ‘doom and gloom’ because I’m a firm believer that anyone can start a blog and make it successful with the right approach. However, it’s not easy and it takes a lot of time and dedication. If you were expecting to create a wildly profitable blog within 6 months and with very little effort – you need to curb your expectations. You’ve got to be in this for the long-haul to make your blog successful.
Find the right balance between quantity and quality – While quality is extremely important, quantity is equally important. Especially when it comes to SEO traffic.
Long-tail SEO traffic should be your focus initially – Some websites get 30,000+ monthly visitors with less than 100 referring domains. Whereas others get less than 500 visitors with 10,000 referring domains. Why? The former is winning the game with high content output and a strong focus on long-tail keywords.
Use the ‘reverse outreach’ technique – Most spam outreach can be deleted regardless but every so often you’ll get outreach emails from legit sites. You can turn their request into an opportunity to get yourself (and your blog) featured on other platforms. You just have to open your mind to potential opportunities. Opportunities are everywhere. And as the saying goes, “if you don’t ask, you don’t get.”
Every blog has value – Even a blog that makes no money has value. I’ve seen far too many people shut down blogs and let their domains expire when they could have easily sold the blog for $5K-10K – instead of quitting with nothing to show for it.
Hi. I’m Lorraine Reguly. I’m an author, an editor, a certified English teacher, and an entrepreneur. I am also a freelance writer and blogger. I have been blogging since 2013.
I learned how to be a better blogger by reading, studying, and implementing what I learned.
Before I started blogging, I wish someone would have told me that:
- Blogging is time-consuming!
- Blogging is about more than just writing and publishing blog posts online. It’s about finding appropriate images to use in them, citing relevant articles and adding links, promoting your content online, obtaining traffic to your site, engaging with your community of fans and followers, connecting with influencers, learning about SEO (search engine optimization), creating and using visuals such as infographics and videos in your blog posts, and so much more!
- There are many technical aspects to blogging, such as optimizing your site for the best user experience, compressing images in your blog posts, learning about HTML code (including how to create page jumps), deciding which plugins to use, figuring out how to improve your website speed, and using the proper way to format your blog posts using H tags.
- People will steal your content and try to pass it off as their own. (True story: I had someone steal A TON of my content and pretend to be me. When I discovered what that person did, I took steps to get Google to take their site down. I succeeded, too, and the site was removed. I had taken screenshots along the way and documented my whole process. I shared everything in a blog post called What DO You Do When Someone STEALS Your CONTENT?)
- Blogging is a great way to earn money and is merely a means to an end, with the end being making money. (When I first began blogging, I started out thinking that it was a good way to make a name for myself as an author but then I discovered that I could earn money by becoming a freelance writer. After doing that for a while, I realized that there was more money to be made as an editor. Because I prefer editing to writing, I decided to focus on that aspect and so I have been working as a freelance editor for several years now… and love it!)
- Blogging statistics are not everything. Sure, it’s great to get traffic to your site and to rank high on Google, but you must remember to enjoy the journey!
- Blogging will open doors of opportunities for you. (Read my guest post called How Blogging Can Lead You to 6 Money-making Opportunities.)
- Blogging will tire you out and will eventually take a back-seat in your life, as you become busy with your new ways of earning money!
With all of that said, I must tell you that each blogger’s journey is different, and whatever your journey happens to entail, be happy with it. Our individual experiences are what make us unique, and being unique is a great way to be!
I also must say that it’s great to learn from other people, especially successful bloggers who have “made it” online. Their wisdom and experiences will help you with your own blogging journey.
Start like an expert. You don’t want people to think that you are starting a blog. It’s a new blog – the blogger is a Noob!
Start your blog like a pro. Your blog should look like it’s been established and you know what you are doing. No point looking like a random experimental blog started by someone new who is exploring the blogosphere and trying to understand how all of it works
Here are a few checkpoints to make sure that your blog looks established on the first day.
- Make sure your blog has sufficient posts on the first day. This can be a difficult task if you haven’t prepared enough. Start writing content, at least 30+ posts and save them as drafts – ready to be published right away in your WordPress dashboard. On your launch day, you need to have 15 to 20 live posts and keep the rest scheduled with approximately three posts a day.
- Choose a professional WordPress theme – I’m assuming your blogging platform is WordPress like everyone else. If you choose any other blogging system, (you will regret if you do so) make sure to choose a good theme. If you have a budget, hire a WordPress theme designer, and get a custom theme ready.
- Make a pinned post at the top – Write a very personal post and pin it at the top. Mention top bloggers, active and influential social media persons, etc. quote people (like me) who will check mentions and get back to your posts and write a comment and share your post on the social media. This is the best way to connect with bloggers in your niche and immediately, you won’t be a starter anymore.
- Be active on Social Media – it does take time for a new blog to become active and popular. Your activity on social media counts a lot. A social site like Twitter is a very active platform and most active bloggers check mentions regularly. Make a list of 100 active bloggers that you want to reach out and start tweeting their blog posts with their twitter handles and they will start to notice.
Always remember that you are new but not a noob. You are the new expert with lots of fresh ideas and energy. Start pushing your way upwards constantly and be very persistent in your approach.
There are a few pieces of advice that I wish someone had told me when I started my blog.
First, imagine a target audience and create content around their questions/ problems. There’s nothing wrong with writing what you want to write about or feel passionate about. In fact, I would encourage that. However, you have to figure out a way to connect those topics with problems/questions that your target audience has. The difference is subtle, but critical. For example, if you are writing about your baking passion, it’s great to write about what you’ve baked…but you need to frame those posts around solving problems/questions that your audience has about baking.
Second, plan on investing a lot of time into your blog. It’s easy to imagine success. It’s hard to imagine the months and years of creating content, solving problems, and tireless promotion that it takes to get anywhere. Resetting expectations upfront can prevent a lot of frustration and discouragement when you know that you’re in this project for the long-haul.
Third, don’t worry about monetization early on. If you have a large enough audience, the money will come. But spending too much time at the start looking at money issues, testing, partnerships, etc will just distract you from building an audience and consistent traffic.
When I first started my blog for my SEO agency back in 2010, things were pretty different — so it’s hard to go back in time. After all, in the last decade, there has been such a massive evolution in digital marketing tools that have changed the blogging game.
One thing I do wish I adopted earlier into the mix, however, is building up my email list through signups. I focused my blog on SEO news and providing valuable education, but I never really appreciated the full value of balancing that while also integrating a natural push for email signups.
This is now something we’re working hard on every day! I’ve seen the evolution of how content like educational pillar posts and extra downloadable assets and resources can build a blog’s credibility, organic engagement, and lead generation through email signups.
SEO is constantly changing and evolving, and strategies change yearly — if not monthly. To be honest, that’s another big piece of advice I’d give myself or anyone else starting a blog. Search trends change, algorithms change, and being on top of these changes and pivoting quickly is not only about skill. It’s also about willingness.
Looking back, I’d tell myself what I’d tell anyone else today. Good SEO optimized blog content, like most things in life, is a balance. It’s a balancing act of going back and refreshing blog content to create up to date quality content that both leads and Google will love and be able to take away from.
There are many things that I learned over the years since I built my website. I wished that someone would have told me to pay for a quality hosting for my site. I didn’t know if I will earn any money from my blog so I bought the cheapest hosting that I could find. Not a good idea. I changed it twice since then.
I wished that someone would have thought me the value of saying no, in a polite way, of course. When my domain authority increased, I started receiving many outreach emails asking me to link to different websites and I would just do it. I didn’t know how to evaluate a website well, and when someone would email me to ask for a link, I felt I was connecting with important people, even when they were not. After some time I removed all those worthless links.
Another thing that I would have liked to know is to not install plugins that I don’t use. All salespeople will promote their products as the best. It doesn’t mean they really are so good. Even if they are, you must wonder if you actually need it. You shouldn’t install a bunch of plugins that you don’t use because they will slow your site.
It’s always hard to give generic advice as each and every blog is different. But, I think a key piece of advice that relates to all blogs, no matter the subject, is to just practice writing a little each day. 200 words, 2000 words, whatever works for you. But flex that writing muscle daily and you will continue to improve and that will add value to everything you put on your blog.
Another useful bit of advice is to really figure out the structure and purpose of your posts before you write them. I often find myself going off on a wild tangent when I start writing about one thing. So, by really mapping out the purpose of your post and outlining a basic skeleton, then you can ensure you stay on point. I also like the rough first draft approach as well where you just really crank something out quickly and then edit, edit, edit. With this approach, you often throw away 80% of the first draft but by doing this you create something that is far more highly tuned.
Combine daily writing with a structured approach to putting your blogs together and your readers will thank you for it!
There are many things I wish I knew before starting a blog, but perhaps the most important advice would be insights about how to research and understand your audience’s needs. In general, this is a monumentally important factor from which the process begins. Knowing the topics and the questions that my target readers are interested in allows you to build an inherent trust in your content and brand. This research goes above and beyond traditional “keyword research” or basic “guide creation”. It leads to a short and long-term roadmap for a content calendar and creates a stronger content strategy overall.
Read lots of other blogs, especially in your niche, to work out how they became successful. Then, if you can, try and emulate them in your own style. It is important to develop your own style, and not completely copy others. Your readers will appreciate this much more.
Having read these blogs, properly without skim reading so you totally understand what’s been written, then write suitable comments. These need to be of a reasonable length, add value or offer advice, show appreciation, and continue the conversation. The reason? You need to get noticed, attract an audience, submit acceptable connections through publishing your comments, and increase your own blog’s Domain Authority.
Do research into your readership. Find out what interests them, which writing style they prefer, which subjects they can relate to or have an affinity with, and what they most like to read. Always consider them first when you write, not yourself. Your readers are the life-blood of your blog, so you need to give them what they want.
Get some quality posts up so your visitors have something to read. Focus on a good subject and divide it into suitable categories. Write with a category in mind, as if you’re adding to a chapter.
Be consistent within your blog: writing style, content production, subject matter, blog design, engagement delivery. You need to make your readers familiar and comfortable with you and your blog, so they will be more likely to return and become loyal advocates.
The one piece of advice I wish someone gave me (which I eventually learned) when I was starting my blog is that patience and consistency are the key requirements for creating a successful blog. Time, money, and effort are equally important to improve awareness about your blog. There is no instant formula for brand visibility or to get organic traffic and a higher ranking on the search results. You need to build from the ground up; starting with creating a user-friendly, responsive website, sharing quality content that is helpful, and building a list of active subscribers.
Apart from that, focusing on on-page SEO elements is important. By on-page SEO elements I mean; writing a descriptive meta description, working on headlines, adding alt tag to images, including LSI keywords, optimizing website speed, etc. This is important from both the user and search engine perspective and helps drive targeted traffic.
Generating quality content, which is the driving force of all online marketing campaigns, is extremely difficult without research and a well-thought-out plan. So one needs to focus on that too. Also, there is no one way to online success; what works for you, may not work for another. So you need to go the trial and error route before you find strategies that help improve the visibility of your blog.
When I first began taking my blog seriously about six years ago, I spent so much time obsessing over making every article absolutely perfect *before* I hit publish, which led me to posting very infrequently—once per month if I was lucky. The advice I wish I would’ve listened to in the early days is to instead be comfortable publishing an article that’s *good enough* for now (with the knowledge that you’ll come back to update it, add to it, finish editing in the coming weeks and months).
This is a mindset that took me years to adopt, but the massive benefit I experience by publishing quickly and updating later is that it often takes months to start ranking content high for competitive organic search terms… so there won’t be a ton of readers right away anyway. Plus, once a new article is live, that buys me a lot more time to start ramping up the promotional activities like guest blogging, building social momentum, and activating influencers to spread the word about my content while it starts to climb the organic search rankings.
The most important thing that I wish someone told me when I was starting my blog would be that I should focus only on one thing. One single niche and one site. In internet marketing and blogging, getting distracted is very easy as the entry barrier is low. The shiny object syndrome is very high. You should focus on one till it meets success.
Hindsight is a fuzzy lens. When I started blogging, I thought I understood what I had to do. I studied up on it, I prepared myself, and I thought I knew all the basics. But looking back, I know there are things I could have done better, or just differently.
The best advice I wish some had given me is the same advice I now give to my students: start building an email list even before you launch your blog.
That’s the thing. I knew I had to build an email list, but I didn’t know that you could do so even if your blog wasn’t public yet. But now I know better. Thing is, if you have a lead magnet that is valuable to your audience, then you can build and grow an email list with just a landing page and your lead magnet. No blog necessary! Had I known that I could do this, I would have had a better blog launch with a bigger audience, and I probably would have started making money from my blog way sooner.
This was a lesson learned the hard way, but I’m glad to be able to share this with my students now and help them have a better and bigger blog launch.
When I started my blog, I saw it as a publishing outlet and a marketing tool, but I didn’t see the greater business opportunity hidden within a blog. Looking back, I wish someone had told me that a blog isn’t just a top-of-the-funnel strategy. It does more than build an audience. It does more than showcase your expertise and thought leadership. It can be monetized, and should be as soon as possible.
I saw my blog as free advertising, and it worked as that. But I wish someone had told me that a small investment of paid distribution, along with the free distribution channels I was already using, would exponentially increase my reach and exposure.
I also bought into the idea that your blog is owned real estate, and as a result, it should come first. While your blog is vital to a well-rounded marketing plan, it shouldn’t always come first. I wish someone had told me to focus more on guest posting opportunities — the bigger and higher regarded, the better.
Blogging can be one of the most exciting professions for a creative mind like yours, and with the income you can potentially achieve, it’s definitely worth giving it a shot. Its base does lie in creativity, passion, and dedication, but there are quite a few traps out there that will quickly snap your motivation and progress if you’re not careful enough.
Go through these pieces of advice carefully and implement them in your work, but only under one condition – if you are truly ready to reach digital success.
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