You’ve probably done what we’ve all done before. You Googled “how to start a blog”, clicked on the first link, and thought you’d be good to go after 10 minutes of setup.
I’ll be honest with you. I’m not sure how people can write a guide like that and think it’s enough. Blogging takes way more than 15 minutes on a random Saturday. Starting a successful blog is a full time commitment.
So I’m not going to tell you that you can be up and running in 10-15 minutes. I’m not going to tell you that you’ll be making good money in a month or even a year. I’m also not going to tell you that you’ll make it past your first 6 months.
What I will tell you is that running a blog is difficult, especially if you do want to turn your blog into your personal business (which is you want to make money off of it, you absolutely do need to treat it as a business). It is NOT just some easy thing to do, especially if you’ve never created a website before.
Blogging tips for new bloggers
Common blogging misconceptions and what to do about them
I want to go over some common blogging misconceptions and what to do about them. There are some things people seem to think are pretty easy just because they see others doing it seemingly effortlessly. The struggle is real and people aren’t kidding when they call it a hustle.
I hate to call these “ugly truths” but that’s really what they are. A lot of people have some massively unrealistic expectations.
I hope I’m not sounding too negative with this, but it has to be said. Don’t worry, though, I’ll give you a some actual advice along with these to help you to overcome the odds!
Traffic doesn’t magically appear just because you wrote things
You won’t write your first post and thousands of visitors will show up. You could write 10, 20, or even 50 posts and this still won’t happen.
Even if your SEO (search engine optimization) is on point, you still won’t get much search traffic because Google hasn’t learned enough about your site to trust it yet. People don’t know your website exists, so they won’t be linking to it either, a crucial factor to search rankings. Your 50 articles definitely won’t be ranking highly against other websites.
You have to promote yourself to get traffic, especially when you’re new. Build relationships so you can build your audience through other bloggers (like guest posting or sharing posts on social media/Pinterest).
Facebook, Pinterest, and SEO research are all a part of my traffic strategy. I suggest learning how to use these to build both short-term and long-term traffic coming into your site. Blogger Facebook groups and Bloggers Traffic Community are good places to add your posts to get some support from fellow bloggers.
And one last tip, don’t wait to start promoting your posts. Start your promotion efforts as soon as you hit “publish.” If you have a new blog and you want to wait until you have 3-5 posts up for people to look at, that’s fine, but make sure these posts are kind of related, because people are going to want to see more of what got them there in the first place, not just any random thing.
But really, you can start promoting yourself as soon as you publish your first post. It might take some time to really find your promotional groove anyway, so better to get started ASAP.
You probably won’t get 1,000+ views in your first month
Or the second. Or even the third.
All those posts you see about how people got 10,000 views in their first month? These aren’t typical results. These people usually know what they’re doing and they want to share their tips with you. That’s fine and all, but now its set up this unrealistic expectation for new bloggers who might struggle to get even 100 views in one month.
If you worry too much about traffic, you’re most likely going to be feeling pretty down a lot. This is especially true if this is your first blog and you have no experience whatsoever.
Remember not to compare where you are with anyone else, especially if you’re working at this alone with no outside help. Buying courses or coaching or whatever will put you at an advantage because you get to learn a bunch of tips and tricks in one place from someone who has been there for, but that’s not necessarily possible for every new blogger.
So keep your goals attainable and focus on the positives. Have you learned something new? Did you finally get your Facebook page up and running? Did you find the perfect support group? Did you meet your (attainable) posting goal this month?
You don’t have to post every day
You don’t even have to post every week. Instead, focus on promoting yourself every day, or at least as much as possible.
As mentioned before, it doesn’t really matter how many posts you have, if you keep making more without promoting them, they’re still going to go unread. You can post and post and post and still not see results if you’re not promoting those posts. If you’re so busy writing new posts every day, you won’t have time to promote them.
Your post doesn’t expire after 1 day. This isn’t Twitter where you’ve got about 5 minutes and then its gone unless it goes viral. You have time to let yourself breathe.
Trying to commit to a schedule that’s just not feasible for you if going to burn you out real fast and you’ll probably quit blogging altogether eventually.
So instead of trying to make a post 3 times a week, try posting once every two weeks. Establish your creation and promotion workflow first, then try to move it up to posting once a week, maybe even more if you’re comfortable with that.
But really, you don’t need to post a million times a week. Most of the content you create should be evergreen, meaning it’s relevant no matter when someone stumbles upon it. Yes, you can totally update your evergreen posts if needed, but mostly they should work at any time.
Other content may be seasonal. This kind of content can still be useful year after year as the season comes back around though.
Your blog posts aren’t going to go away, and most of the time its the old posts that are going to just get more popular with age. Keep promoting them and don’t think if a post isn’t valuable just because it’s not new.
You really do need that email list, especially when you’re just starting out
You’re going to be kicking yourself if you don’t at least have 1 signup form on your blog. There’s a lot to email marketing, but your email subscribers will be a huge part of building returning traffic.
People who sign up for your emails want to hear more from you, so you when you upload a new post, your email list is going to be full of people who are waiting to see what you’ve posted.
Start your email list now and start sending out those emails even if there’s just 1 person subscribed.
To build your list, look into creating an email sequence or download that you can use as incentive for joining it. With the right offer, you can get lots of subscriptions.
If you’re unsure of what you can give out, try allowing people to download your posts as a PDF. I use Post Gopher, a plugin that automatically creates a PDF when someone requests it.
You can also create PDFs manually and create a form and email automation to send out a link to the download. I like using Beacon for this because it allows me to import my posts and do some design work, too, but you can also use services like PrintFriendly & PDF to create your PDF download.
Again, this is something you have to manage your expectations with. Don’t get down because “no one wants your opt-in gift.”
Recognize that it’s not working and research what people would really need. Using Facebook groups is a great place to start researching. You may even get some interested people just from talking about what you’re going to create.
On the other hand, maybe it IS what people need, but you just don’t have a lot of traffic to start pulling in lots of subscribers yet. That’s okay! Just keep moving forward and promoting yourself as much as possible.
Ads aren’t as lucrative as you think for new blogs
Making money from ads isn’t as easy as AdSense on your blog and then bam! suddenly you’re making thousands of dollars in ad revenue. Those days are long gone unless you have a really high traffic site that’s targeting high paying keywords (and those aren’t always the most fun topics). And even then, AdSense isn’t your best bet to make the most money from ads.
However, some money is better than no money. If you’re short on cash, earnings from ad dollars can get you started with a little bit of income to reinvest in other blogging tools and services that will help you make more money.
You might choose to start off with ads on your site immediately. I recommend doing this especially if you plan for ads to be a part of your overall strategy. You can always remove them later if you decide they’re not for you.
If you do want to use ads for your blog, try for networks like Fomo, Media.net, Mediavine, and AdThrive, in that order. Mediavine and AdThrive has minimum traffic requirements you need to meet before you can even apply. Fomo and Media.net are much more beginner friendly.
Affiliate marketing isn’t just “easy money”
Well, technically, it kind of is easy money but not in the way that you think. Posting links to affiliate products isn’t going to magically start bringing cash. You need to provide value and get people to trust your recommendations.
Trust is what makes affiliate sales. And people aren’t going to trust you until they know you. How do people get to know you? Through your blog, your email list, and other content you create.
There are lots of ways to promote affiliate products, but my favorite way to build trust and likability is through tutorials. Share a story of how you were struggling with x problem until you found out about x product.
Sharing your tips and helping others find the information they need is a simple and easy way to make people think “wow, this person knows what they’re doing, I think I want to try this too.”
You’re not writing for yourself
A successful blog isn’t about the blog writer. It’s about the needs and wants of the readers.
It’s not too complicated to take something that you know, apply your personal experience, and turn that into a lesson for others who find themselves in the same situation. You still get to tell your story, but you’re also sharing a solution.
All that sounds really serious but your solution could just be 4 ways to feel better in the morning, or something. I know I really struggled with figuring out what would me useful to people. Who would have thought people actually want to know about all the nerdy things I work with on a daily basis?
Your friends and family might be less than supportive of your “little project”
Anything you do that’s outside of the norm will have people who think what you do is either really easy, lazy, or a total waste of time. Most people don’t realize just how much work goes into starting your own blog. They don’t realize it’s basically starting a business on your own.
Hopefully, you have supportive friends and family but if you don’t, don’t take it to heart. Look at it as a challenge instead. Use shock and surprise you feel as fuel to succeed far beyond even your own expectations.
Succeeding at something people thought was a “waste of time” is always at least a little bit hilarious, especially when all of a sudden they want to get in on the action, too.
You’re going to have days when you feel like everything you’re doing is pointless
This is probably one of the worse things you’ll experience as a blogger, especially as a new one. If you’re of the mind that you need to keep churning out new content all the time (“if I can just get to 50 blog posts, I’ll get so much traffic!”) you’re especially going to feel this.
Honestly, writing 50 posts isn’t a bad idea, but quantity of posts is not the answer. It will get you used to writing. I used to hate trying to write posts for my blogs, but now I love it. I struggled so hard to make it to even 300 words on one post. Now I just wrote one that’s over 7,000. I write all the time even if no one ever sees it.
How did I manage that? All that time I spent trying to create a lifestyle blog made me realize that I wasn’t where I really needed to be. I’m an art person. I’m a tech person. I’m an entrepreneur.
From that failed lifestyle blog I realized that these are the things I should really be writing about. My time spent with that blog wasn’t pointless, it was self-discovery.
So never feel like you’re wasting time just because no one is reading your blog yet. Maybe you’re still finding your way. Maybe you’re just not spending enough time on marketing your new content and re-marketing your old content. Maybe you’re just new and that’s okay. You’re learning!
It’s okay to take breaks
So many bloggers are so afraid that if they take a break they’ll lose all their traffic and will have to build it all back up again when they return. The truth is, there are a lot of instances where the exact opposite happens. Some people have the best months of their blogging career while they weren’t even paying attention.
Taking a break isn’t going to ruin your blog. You’ll be well rested and ready to get back to work when you’re ready to come back, too! So you can do an even better job than before.
With so many automation tools available now, you can take time off whenever you need and people might not even realize you’re gone. Email automation, social media schedulers, and even sales funnels can run without you needing to be around. Let them do the work for you while you get some much needed R&R or chill time with your family.
What to do next
So now that you know all this… what do you do next?
Well, first start your blog if you haven’t already. I have a great guide that goes beyond the “install WordPress here” and help you plan a lasting strategy.
Next, revisit your goals and make sure they make sense for where you are in your blogging journey. Don’t push for 10k views next month if you just barely got 2k.
Sure, you can and should try to it, but that shouldn’t be your set in stone goal that you want to meet. Try something more reachable, like 2.5k or 3k. You’ll feel so much better when you start making your goals, no matter how small they are.
How have you been doing with your blog?
How is blogging different than what you thought when you first got started?
Let us know in the comments!