Day One Advice: 78 successful bloggers reveal what advice they wish they knewOne of the great joys of starting and building a blog is the speed at which you’ll be learning and growing. You’ll learn so much in those first few months that your head will be spinning.
If you’re in that phase of your business, cherish it. It’s fun but it can be a lot to process at once. It’s like turning on the lights after you’ve been watching a movie.
Which is why I’ve asked many bloggers one simple question: “Knowing what you know now, what would you tell your younger blogging self on day one?”
My hope is that their message, borne out of their experiences, can help provide some guidance for you. This collection of bloggers run the gamut, from those who are in their first or second year of blogging to full-time bloggers running blogs and businesses generating six-figure incomes to “retired” bloggers who have sold one or more of their sites. (if you add up the value of the sites in this post, it’s easily in the tens of millions of dollars)
I have to warn you, this post is massive. It’s as big as the number in the title implies.
But it’s gold.
Have a seat, grab a big cup of coffee/tea/beer/scotch/water because you’re in for a ride.
Can’t Miss Advice
J.D. Roth, More Than Money: Don’t make it a job. Sure, your blog can be a money-making business but never let it feel like work. It’ll take the joy out of it. You’re not obligated to keep a schedule. Don’t feel guilty if you don’t post every Monday morning – or if you don’t post for several days straight. It’s better to produce quality content that makes you (and your readers) happy than it is to churn stuff out because of some arbitrary expectations. Let the blog be a joyful escape and not a dreary chore.
Pat Flynn, Smart Passive Income: First, I would tell myself how important starting an email list is. I waited too long to get one going, and missed out on a lot of opportunity to reach out to my audience, build more momentum for my site and it affected my bottom line as well. When I came out with a new product for one of my online businesses, there was no pool of people to tap into, including customers from a previous product I had sold as well. Huge mistake.
Secondly, I would tell myself that I don’t have to do everything on my own. In the beginning, I had superman syndrome where I thought I could do, or figure out how to do everything on my own. Maybe some people might call this “being a guy”, but I eventually learned the power of outsourcing work – work that I didn’t know how to do, work that I didn’t enjoy doing, and even work that i know how to do AND enjoy but know I shouldn’t be focusing on so I can spend more time focusing on the bigger ticket items in my business.
If you want to hear more from Pat on this topic, Caleb Wojcik interviewed Pat at Fincon13 about his biggest mistakes. Caleb’s Cubicle Renegade podcast has lots of great stuff. (Pat has a high-informational-value podcast too called the Smart Passive Income Podcast)
Stephanie Halligan, Empowered Dollar: The one thing I would have told myself when I first started blogging is to write from my gut. My blog The Empowered Dollar was originally dedicated to helping moms teach their kids about money… and I’m a 26-year-old with no kids. At the time, I thought it was a profitable niche. But I absolutely hated writing blog posts because it didn’t come naturally and it wasn’t anything that I wanted to write. When I finally changed directions and started writing what came naturally, everything changed. I love everything that I write now, and I’ve gotten more readers because of it, too.
Ashley Jacobs, Wise Bread: Learn to let loose and have fun with blogging. I took everything too seriously when I first started (probably because working on a blog was my first job out of college and I wanted to be a valuable employee), but now I know success in blogging comes from having fun, cultivating relationships with others, and maybe getting on stage to rap from time to time.
On Getting Started
Luke Landes, LukeLandes.com: I guess if I could tell me something the day I started Consumerism Commentary… Let’s see. Keep writing; you’ll get better at it. Don’t be afraid to put yourself out there and meet other people who share the same interests, brought closer together through the wonder of the internet. And take some risks once in a while, trust (but verify) more of your instincts.
Toni Anderson, The Happy Housewife: Install analytics on day one and don’t look at it for three months. Work on creating great content before you reach out to collaborators and advertisers. Write about something you love or at least can stand talking about for eight hours a day, five days a week.
FMF, Free Money Finance: I would tell myself on day one that I needed to get a good amount of content written and in the system before I launched my site. I would shoot for at least two weeks of good stuff, then set it to post at various times over the next couple of weeks. While that was happening, I would then write some more as well as attend to the marketing and administrative tasks associated with a site.
Erin Chase, $5 Dinners: When I started blogging, I wished I’d known the importance of having a plan. I achieved success early on with the “fly by the seat of my pants” method, but I often wonder what would have been if I had actually written out a plan. I blog about what I love and I love helping people, but passion will only take you so far.
Having a business plan, a content marketing plan, a plan for SEO, a plan for your work schedule (I’m a WAHM of 4 boys), a revenue and monetization plan, a business development plan, and a plan for whatever else you need to plan. Providing this kind of structure to your blog and your business will help you achieve faster growth, while avoiding burnout. It will help you stay focused and stay on target for achieving all the goals you have set out for your business and your blog.
Lisa Woodruff, Organize365: There is always more to learn and your site will never be perfect. Just GET STARTED and share your story one post at a time.
Andrea Green, The Greenbacks Gal: You will be stupid in the beginning. You will make mistakes. You will wonder why you didn’t know about long tail keywords. And when you do learn about long tail keywords, you will question why you ever thought you were smart enough to do this stupid thing called blog. But course corrections are all part of the game. No amount of effort you put forth is ever bad. Someone will comment on that post you wrote because it mattered to you, and it mattered to them, and no SEO was leveraged to bring that about, and you will realize you are doing a better job than you think.
Pinyo Bhulipongsanon, Moolanomy: Research the niche and contact existing bloggers to get a feel for what it takes to be successful.
However, don’t be discouraged by anyone who advises you not to do it. Focus on the advice that helps you get started and be successful. In any case, blogging takes a lot of work and you must have both passion and commitment to be successful.
Teresa Mears, Living on the Cheap: Make a plan. Before you go off starting a blog, decide what you want your blog to accomplish: make money? Promote another business? Provide an outlet for self-expression? Position you as an expert? Knowing what you want your blog to accomplish is key to deciding how you want to do it.
Jeffrey Strain, Saving Advice: Spend however long it takes to accumulate a minimum of 1 month’s worth of posts before actually making your blog live to everyone. Even with the best intentions, life happens and there will be times when you won’t have the time to write posts. Always aim to be at least a month ahead on posts as this will make your blogging life far less stressful.
On Your Voice and Authenticity
J. Money, Budgets Are Sexy: My #1 favorite blogging tip in the entire world is as lame as it is true: BE YOURSELF. A very simple thing to smile and nod to, but one bloggers tend to forget 30 mins later. People come to your blog to see YOU. And learn from YOU. And to stalk YOUR habits and YOUR life – not the blogger next door (okay, well hopefully not much of the latter, but you get the point ;)). Yes, it’s still okay to copy what others are doing or adapt their design or style or setup/etc – we all do that – but when it comes to the *voice* of your blog and your opinions, stick to the inner you. Whatever that looks like. A blog without an opinion is called a “website.” Which we also need a lot of in this world, but you’re here to learn about how to blog, not how to build a site about money. And the main essence of a blog is the person sitting behind it typing – you. So embrace who you are and run with it!
Phil Taylor, PTMoney.com: I’d tell myself that if I’m not an authority on a subject, I don’t have to pretend to be. I can simply share my perspective/experience, “borrow” authority from expert sources, and leave enough room for readers to insert their opinions. You don’t have to have it all figured out when first starting out. But you do need to approach your subject with honesty and humility.
Jennifer Smialek, The Happy Homeowner: 1) Be the most authentic “you” you can be. 2) Don’t get caught up in the “best” ways to do it because there are a thousand ways to do the hundreds of things that go into building your blog and brand–figure out what works for you and stay consistent with your efforts.
Kylie Ofiu, KylieOfiu.com: Be authentic, blog what I am passionate about and interested in. Realize life changes and what you start out doing might not fit with your life later but it’s ok to change. And other bloggers are not your competition! They are your friends and peers. Talk to them, join groups, forums, comment, guest post etc. Get involved. Remember everyone is just a person and even the bloggers you idolize are normal people, who if you get to know are usually pretty down to earth and lots of fun.
Tracie Fobes, Penny Pinchin’ Mom: Don’t compare yourself to others and don’t try to do exactly what they do. You started your site for a reason and need to do what you feel in your heart.
Tony Ouyang, Survive The Valley: If you’re like me – a bit of a perfectionist – you’ll likely run into the same problem I ran into when I started Survive The Valley (and actually dogs me to this day). My problem is I write at a snail’s pace, about 1 post every 2 weeks, because I want every one of my posts to be substantive, insightful, more than 1000 words, and paired with an original picture or drawing… all of which leaves me in the dust of the web-o-sphere.
My advice to myself on Day One (and even to this day)? Don’t be a perfectionist. Set that kitchen timer for 30-40-60 minutes and bang out a post – good or bad – instead of spending hours over a Sat. and Sun. splitting hairs on word choice and paragraph structure. Over time the practice you’ll get from writing lots of articles will inevitably make you better and efficient. Trust that. I still need to.
On Avoiding Burn Out
Jana Lynch, Jana Says: There’s so much I wish I knew when I started and many if the other answers covered it. But one thing I’d add is to find a balance. When you start blogging, you want to do all the things and be everywhere and it can take over your life. If you can find a balance between blogging and living your life, you’ll set yourself up not only for success but for longevity. Too much too soon can lead to burn out.
I think it’s important for people to realize that their blog is only part of who they are and that neglecting their lives does a disservice in every way.
Agatha Kulesza, Hey Agatha: Blog consistently on a schedule that you enjoy. Because if you’re hating your blog then what’s the point?
When I first started blogging I did it everyday and got burned out because that was not realistic given the other things I had going on in my business. So I got burnt to a crisp, started resenting my blog, and then did not blog at all for 8 months…which killed my readership. So now I blog less often, but stay on a consistent schedule that works for me. It has made my life, my blog, and my experience with my readers a lot more meaningful and FUN!
Lauren Greutman, I Am That Lady: Don’t compare your site to others, or else you will burn yourself out. Stop trying to be as big as you think everyone else is- just be you.
Matt Jabs, DIY Natural: I wish someone would have helped me realize the importance of consistency and a slow, steady pace. Rather than trying to write often, it’s better to write consistently, and less often. Having a publication schedule that doesn’t overwhelm lets your audience know what they can expect while helping the writer avoid burn-out and “writers block.”
Todd R. Tresidder, Financial Mentor: It’s a marathon – not a sprint.
Linsey Knerl, Knerl Family Media: Pace yourself. It’s easy to go full throttle at the beginning of creating a blog. You spend what equates to a full-time job (even if you still have a full-time job) creating, tweaking, and promoting your baby blog, but it can be too much. Resist the temptation to have every widget, ad network, and article in place right away. Create a plan for a slow build, adding new features one at a time, as time allows it. You’ll find you’ll actually waste fewer hours in the long run because you’ll get more efficient as you learn!
On Purpose and Motivation
Andrea Deckard, Savings Lifestyle: When I first started blogging, the one thing that I believed was this: if my blog helped just one purpose then it was enough. Once you stop feeling that way and it’s all about business, it’s time to reevaluate your purpose. The long days without a “thank you” won’t matter when you believe in what you do and know you are making a difference.
Karyn Fleeting, Miss Thrifty: You know the saying “Happiness is a journey, not a destination”? The same applies to blogging. Not long after I launched Miss Thrifty in 2008, with approximately one subscriber (my gran) and one inbound link, Darren Rowse from the super-popular ProBlogger.net site kindly offered to link to me. I said no! I was embarrassed about the rough design I had launched with (I’m no designer) and didn’t want to be shouted from the rooftops until I was happy with how the blog looked. Haha – what a plonker! You can probably guess the rest: I missed out on that great opportunity and didn’t actually sort my site design out for another year. Still annoyed with myself about that one, actually…
Jackie Beck, Money Crush: Don’t compare yourself to others right off the bat — at least not without asking yourself (and others) what specific improvements you could make.
Then actually make some of those, but realize that success doesn’t happen overnight.
Bridgett Raffenberg, 365 Cincinnati: Choose to blog on a topic for which you have passion. Blogging takes a LOT of work and dedication. If you don’t put your heart into it, it shows.
Brandon Turner, Bigger Pockets: RUN AWAY! — Just kidding.
I’d want to know that making money is not the best thing about blogging, so don’t worry so much about it. The therapy and organization-of-thoughts is far more important than the money from blogging, in my own life anyways!
Carrie Arthurs-Loper, Coupon Closet: Don’t forget why you started in the first place. We paid cash for our adoption because of coupons and that is why I started blogging. If I could come up with this crazy amount of money then everyone can too. I would also tell myself to hire out for all the stuff that you don’t know how to do. I made a alot of mistakes with the technical stuff because I did it myself.
Elle Martinez, Couple Money: Don’t ever name your site Green Panda Treehouse, lol! (Editor’s Note: That was her first site, before Couple Money)
Seriously though, one thing I learned the hard way is to have a ‘mission or purpose’ before starting a blog. With GPT, as you could probably tell by the name, is that I just started writing about anything and everything but had no real goals and I felt like that was a huge hurdle with writing.
With Couple Money, I had a starting point which was motivating for me as I had a fairly clear idea of what I wanted the site to be about. Naturally topics branched out, but at least I had a foundation. It made it easier for me and for readers.
Robert Farrington, The College Investor: Identify where your audience is and what they want, then figure out how to get out in front of them.
It took me about three years to really nail down what essentially was my unique value proposition and then find that audience.
Glen Craig, Free From Broke: Don’t be afraid to be yourself and tell your story. Build your community and then protect it.
Mike Piper, Oblivious Investor: Don’t be afraid to turn off comments, once it feels like the right thing to do. I found that most comments on my sites were (1) “Great job”-type comments from other bloggers. Just personal preference, but those drive me crazy, and I deleted every one of them. (2) Questions. They’re great but I’d rather get them via email and answer the question as a future article instead of in the comments where very few readers would see the reply. (3) Political crap.
I eventually realized that I didn’t enjoy spending time dealing with comments, and I was doubtful that they served any significant business purpose. But I worried (for roughly two years) that turning off comments would make people angry.
Earlier this year, I turned them off. I wish I had done it sooner. The questions still come in via email. I don’t have to spend time moderating. And the handful of people (maybe 10-15ish) who used to write informative/insightful comments still share their thoughts via email, which is great.
Editor’s Note: If this sounds crazy to you, it’s not. Zen Habits is a very popular blog that doesn’t have comments. Popular Science turned off comments in September. (New Yorker discusses). It’s not that crazy.
On Writing Great Content
Greg Go, Wisebread: Be reader-centric. Think like the reader when you write and edit. Most new bloggers are too writer-centric when they start. They are too focused on their own motivations for writing the post, versus why the reader should read it.
Why would a reader spend 5 minutes on your post about emergency funds? It’s gotta have something compelling that sucks in the reader.
Sure, it was exciting for you to build out your perfect emergency fund plan; but in order to get readers to come and read, your post needs to have a funny story, or tidbits about easy ways to save in your town (to pull in local readers), or some other kind of hook that is interesting to the reader.
Bethy Hardeman, Credit Karma: The biggest tip I could’ve given my younger blogging self is one of my favorite (well-said by Truman Capote): “I believe more in the scissors than I do in the pencil.” In other words, 90 percent of writing is editing. In my early days of blogging, I was most obsessed with getting a post right and perfect the first time, rather than just getting something down on paper (or Word doc). Now I’m much more inclined to sit and type away on a topic before discovering the compelling angle in what I’m writing. This has been a fun lesson to learn: Sometimes the most interesting bit of writing can come out of the unexpected.
Paula Pant, Afford Anything: Write with personality. Aim first to entertain, and only second to educate.
Jeff Rose, Good Financial Cents: Don’t forget to tell a story. Writing a post with informational content can help people, sure. But adding a personal story to that same post will engage your readers and build a longer lasting connection.
Will Chen, Wise Bread: Blog like everyone in America is subscribed to your blog. Because in a way, they are. You may only have three readers, but if one of them submit your post to Pinterest or Reddit, you may end up with a zillion pageviews the next morning. You have an amazing opportunity to influence public discourse. Always respect your writing. Always give your best effort.
Peter Anderson, Bible Money Matters: If I could talk to myself when I first started blogging I think I’d tell myself “Make sure that you’re writing content that’s actually useful to people. Don’t just publish a bunch of material for it’s own sake”. When I first started blogging I was churning out 3-4 posts per day some days. Back then I thought that was how you got noticed. The problem was that the content really wasn’t very useful. I was publishing link roundups, links to other people’s content and short little 100 word posts. Most of that content from back then gets no traffic now because it’s seen as low value content by Google, and a lot of it has been deleted or removed from my site. Make sure you’re writing useful content and it will better stand the test of time.
Ann Smith, Ann’s Entitled Life: Write because you love to write, even if you are only writing for an audience of one. Don’t worry about followers, money or fame. Content really is king. Write it, and they will come (with a little SEO help from our friends at Google).
Doug Nordman, The Military Guide:
- Start the blog, THEN write the book. (I did it backwards.)
- Write stuff that people want to read, and stop worrying about the SEO.
- Have a plan for dealing with the money. It won’t come right away, but when it comes it’ll grow quickly. Is this a great Internet or what?!?
Joan Otto, Man vs. Debt: Stick to writing the kinds of things you love to write. Epic content is awesome… but if you get stuck in the “I can’t write about this topic unless I take 6 months and write The Ultimate Guide to XYZ,” you’ll not write anything and make yourself miserable. Think of it as a built-in focus group; if you write (or create video, or make lists, or whatever) about something and it’s well-received, then you have ideas for how to expand it and turn it into even more killer stuff later.
Kay Bell, Don’t Mess With Taxes: Know your message and work on the best way to get that out to your readers.
Michelle Schroeder, Making Sense of Cents: High quality posts are more important than posting frequently. Write for others and yourself!
Tamar Weinberg, TamarWeinberg.com: Give yourself an adequate list of topics and establish an editorial calendar that you update often as early as you can. This helps you avoid writer’s block, and also motivates you to keep going. At first, the crowds won’t follow you, and the comments will be sparse, but keep on going, network with other bloggers (with comments, engaging in person/online), and work hard at being consistent in voice and in the subject matter. The rest will come.
Kevin Mercadante, OutOfYourRut.com: Focus more on content. I got too caught up in trying to learn the technology of blogging early on. That’s not a bad thing in itself, but technology doesn’t bring visitors to your site. Content does. I’d also suggest going a bit lighter on social media participation. It seemed important at the time, but some of those media no longer exist. The time might have been better spent doing more guest posting and commenting on other sites. Live and learn!
Thursday Bram, ThursdayBram.com: Write every day. That doesn’t mean publish every day, but if you build a habit of writing regularly every other aspect of blogging gets easier, because you’re more comfortable with expressing yourself. Having more content on hand also gives you more options in terms of guest posting, publishing ebooks and other parts of running your blog.
Steve Chou, My Wife Quit Her Job: Make sure you tell a story with the posts on your site. Facts and figures are forgotten almost immediately after they are read. But a good story will make you memorable.
On Business and Monetization
Ryan Guina, The Military Wallet: Great question. I didn’t know what I was getting into when I started blogging, so any advice would have been helpful. But the best advice would have been to seriously invest in myself and the business.
My blog and business would have grown much more quickly had I invested more time in learning the technical aspects (a little PHP, CSS, or database knowledge), or if I would have been willing to invest the money to outsource these tasks earlier than I did. But that has been a great learning experience, as I am much more willing to invest in myself and my business now.
Taylor Flanery, Home Storage Solutions 101: Be willing to invest money into your site. I wanted to do everything on a budget, and there is something to be said for that because going into debt is not ideal, but don’t be afraid to spend money to make money either. It has taken me a long time to learn that.
Melanie Nelson, Blogging Basics 101: I’d tell myself to monetize immediately. I started blogging to share information; it never occurred to me to make money from it. If I could tell myself something on day one it would be to definitely share what you can for free, but don’t sell yourself short. Look at ads, ebooks and other products you can create, affiliate links, ambassadorships with companies, etc. Don’t close those doors because you’re not confident or don’t know how to do it. You can figure it out. And for goodness’ sake, start following through already.
Neal Frankle, Wealth Pilgrim: I received lots of great advice when I first started blogging. Fortunately, the personal finance blogging space is full of wonderful people who are only too happy to help.
The major hole in my education was with respect to the business end of it. It’s likely that people told me, but I probably didn’t really hear it. I needed to understand that there are basically three main ways to make money; Adsense or other advertising sales, affiliate sales and selling my own product. What I didn’t understand was that each of these revenue paths become more and less important as the site and audience expands.
I wasted a ton of time creating a wonderful product when I only had about 50 visitors a day and fewer than 100 subscribers. My blog has a far larger audience yet but I’m still far from the point where I think it makes sense to create my own product.
Roger Ma, Life Laid Out: Research forms of making money earlier. It’s not as difficult as you may think and a lot of bloggers actually disclose the ways they make money, how much they make, and from what programs. I wish I had done this earlier than waiting more than 1.5 years after starting my blog. I don’t necessarily blog for the money, but it makes things more interesting.
Larry Ludwig, Investor Junkie: Most blogs suck! Make sure you if you are creating a business, treat it as such. Otherwise it’s a hobby. Most bloggers start a blog for themselves, by that I mean it’s self-serving: get out of debt, cooking, their children, etc. A business isn’t to serve yourself, but others.
Eric Rosenberg, Narrowbridge Finance: If I could go back in time to the day I started my first blog, I would tell myself to think for the long term and treat the blog like a business. Had I known what I know today, I would have likely picked a different name for my finance blog and taken a different approach to quality and design. Thankfully, I’ve learned a lot over the last five years I’ve had the site, and it has improved by leaps and bounds.
On Email Newsletters
Crystal Stemberger, Budgeting in the Fun Stuff: I would have downloaded the Yoast SEO plugin from Day 1. I just downloaded it last week and it is better than the All-In-One SEO plugin just like everybody said at the FinCon bootcamp. I would have also started my email subscription list from the very beginning instead of waiting nearly 2 years.
Michael, Financial Ramblings: I’d focus much more effort on building an e-mail subscriber list from the day one. While search engine traffic is nice, it can dry up overnight. Beyond reducing this dependency, e-mail provides you with an alternate method for getting in touch with our readers. If you instead depend on something like RSS to build a following, your much more limited in that you can really only reach them via blog posts.
Bob Lotich, Christian PF: I wish I would have known how important it is to start building an email list right away. It has always been important, but in the new Google environment, it is more important than ever to an email list that you can depend on for a steady stream of traffic. Every day we have people coming to our sites and then leaving, it is a smart thing to try to get as many of them on our email lists as possible.
Caleb Wojcik, CalebWojcik.com: Start an email list ASAP and offer something insanely valuable to people to convince them to sign up. Then treat that list like a close friend you keep in touch with every week. That is the best way to build raving fans.
On Search Engine Optimization
Peter Renton, Lend Academy: Not to obsess over SEO. Get the basics down but focus more energy into creating compelling and unique content. When you are getting started great content is the most important piece in my opinion.
Viet Do, Dealzon: Turn on permalinks and don’t use dates in your URLs. Or at least make your life easier by deciding if you want dates in your URL or not early on (you really shouldn’t). The worst thing you can do is to use dates and then decide later on you don’t want to, because then you have to deal with the major hassle of converting ALL of them later.
Miranda Marquit, Planting Money Seeds: Don’t view other bloggers as rivals. When I first started, I thought it was me against everyone else. I learned, though, that other bloggers are friendly and willing to help if you reach out. Don’t be afraid to reach out to others and network.
Mike Collins, Wealthy Turtle: When I first started blogging, I totally underestimated the social and networking aspect. I thought pumping out informative and helpful articles was the key to success, but since then I’ve learned that marketing and promotion are much more important than I realized. Networking with other bloggers and getting your name out there are also key factors that many new bloggers underestimate.
Kathleen O’Malley, Frugal Portland: Find a community ASAP!
And understand that the people you find are actually people, not just friendly robots.
Lynette Rice, Cleverly Simple: I wish I had known all the awesome people out there when I started. For the first two years I was doing it on my own and didn’t know that a whole community was out there. Friends that I’ve now made in this process have become invaluable on the tough days. Having that encouragement to keep going – and knowing that others are doing the same balancing act – really helps keep me going.
Lance Cothern, Money Life and More: I wished I had networked more in the beginning and gotten to know fellow bloggers at the same stage and ahead of me. I finally talked to a blogger via phone/skype about a year after I started and I found out that was a great way to get some motivation!
On The Technology
Kelly Snyder, Kansas City Mamas: By your own domain. Use WordPress. Continue your education (photography, code, etc.).
Find a tribe – they will understand you when no one else does and help promote your content.
Connie Hughes, Smockity Frocks: Buy your own domain, start out on WordPress, and write about what you are expert at. Develop and nurture the relationships among other bloggers in your niche.
Justin Bouchard, My University Money: Don’t install and uninstall multiple themes/plugins.
Briana Myricks, My Own Shero: Find a friend who knows the technical stuff. Sometimes a quick FB message can solve problems better than waiting on the phone for hosting issues.
Erin Lowry, Broke Millenial: I wish I had a better understanding of SEO and basic coding when I first started. I’m not always so great with technology, so the experience of moving from an at “wordpress.com” blog to my own domain was incredibly frustrating. I may, or may not, have thrown a temper tantrum that would rival any toddler while trying to “just make it all work!” But looking back, I would tell myself it would all be worth the frustrations and plenty of experienced bloggers are out there willing to help. Just take to Twitter!
Tonya, Budget and the Beach: It’s always hard to know whether or not blogging will just a hobby, or something you want to make money on as well. If someone told me it was possible to make money off my blog, I wouldn’t have believed them, but it’s true. So my advice to serious bloggers is to go self-hosted from Day 1. It’s very challenging to move a blog over to self-hosted once you have populated your blog. In fact, I ended up paying someone to do it, which was well worth it not to have to deal with the headache. It’s not that much money to have a self-hosted blog, and is necessary if you want to do some serious advertising. I think about all the money I missed out on all those months and regret not doing it sooner.
Lindsay Ostrom, Pinch of Yum: My advice would be to start on WordPress right away. We started on Tumblr and ended up doing a lot of work later on moving all of my old posts over to the new site. I would also advise newbies to have fun with it and enjoy the process of developing a blog! Everyone starts a blog for a different reason, but if you can start one simply for the joy of sharing your passions, I think that’s the best place to start.
On A Little of Everything
Stephanie Collins, Poorer Than You: (Editor’s Note: She actually wrote herself a letter — and it’s great) You are obsessed with making money, and making as much of it as fast as you can. Obviously, I understand why – you just dropped out of college, you can’t find a Real Life job, and everyone around you is skeptical of this “making money blogging” scheme you’re trying. But you’re trying too hard to make money and make it quickly, and it’s going to backfire on you.
Let me calm your fears by telling you now: yes, the blog will make money. So you can relax and focus on what’s actually important right now: writing lots and lots of posts. Take your obsessive energy and focus it all on writing. (Someday, you’ll refer to this as “generating content reserves.”) Write, write, and write some more. You’ve got nothing but time to write, what with that “no school, no job” thing happening. But don’t post it all at once – pace your posts out; let them simmer. Establish a leisurely posting schedule that gives breathing room between your blog entries.
Oh, and tag your posts now. Someday, you’ll finally see the value (for both you and your readers) in having keyword tags on your posts, but you won’t want to go back into all your archives and tag your old posts. So, just do it from the beginning, okay?
Jason Leake, Pro Blog School: I think more about the technical and business side of blogging, so here are some tips from my perspective. I actually just spent an hour consulting a relative yesterday on starting a blog for her business, so this is all top of mind!
- Make sure your topic is something you are passionate about, otherwise there’s no way you will stick with it for the long haul. This has to be something you would enjoy doing for free.
- Just get started. Everything doesn’t have to be perfect. You will learn through action.
- Use WordPress.org (self host).
- Set up your social media accounts and email sign-up forms early so you can capture visitors, BUT don’t focus on promotion yet.
- Now get to work on content. Don’t overdo it and burn yourself out, but make sure you blog regularly (at least once a week…2-3 times a week is ideal once you get in the groove).
- Identify a web developer that will do work for you in small increments (like 15 minutes). You’ll want to try to figure a lot of basic stuff out for yourself, but it’s critical to have an expert you can rely on to answer questions or fix stuff you can’t figure out.
My Advice to Myself
Work really really hard and focus on the process, not necessarily the results. The process should be producing good content and getting the word out about it, through marketing, social media, emails, word of mouth, whatever.
Test everything that you do to find out what’s working and what’s not working. Be willing to fail, but most importantly, be willing to try every single crazy thing you can think of to see what will work. And don’t be afraid of success and of putting yourself out there.
Do you know someone who is just starting out a blog and needs some advice? Have they asked you but you don’t know where to start? Send them this post. Or copy something out of this and send it to them – just let them know.