When I first started blogging years ago, I had no idea what I was getting myself into. I had no plan and no idea how crazy the world of blogging can be. I just simply wanted to blog and have people read what I had to say.
So I dove right in and started. I mimicked what other people were doing. I switched blogs every few weeks as I changed gears. I learned as I went along.
Looking back, if I had knew then what I knew now, my blog would be light years ahead of where it currently is.
If you’re looking to start a blog, have recently started, or have been in the game for awhile now, I’m going to share with you 12 things I wish I knew when I started blogging. These are things that I learned first hand from my years of blogging. Hopefully you can learn from my mistakes and start off on the right foot so you can build yourself a successful foundation moving forward.
1. Done is Better Than Perfect
As a self-identified perfectionist, I would often wait on publishing blog posts because they weren’t what I would consider perfect. I constantly tweaked my blog’s theme because I felt like it wasn’t up to par. I was either overworking myself in an effort to make things perfect, or I would neglect things all together because I felt like if I couldn’t get it perfect, I shouldn’t be posting.
Well, let me tell you, there is no room for perfection in blogging (or life for that matter). That blog post isn’t set in stone. It can be updated later. Your blog design will never feel good enough, but if it’s easily navigable and easy on the eyes, it’s probably good enough.
Now that doesn’t mean just get something done for the heck of it. Put in effort, but know that good is good enough.
Fun fact: some of my least favorite blog posts, the ones that I felt were lacking, are some of my best in terms of pageviews and engagement. So don’t be so hard on yourself. Publish that blog post. Launch that ebook. Because it’s not going to anyone any good if it’s not done.
2. High Quality Content is Key
When I first started blogging, my posts were ridiculously short. I would briefly skim over a topic and that was it. I wasn’t providing people with much help.
Once I started publishing more meaty posts, my pageviews increased. People shared my posts more and engagement went up. It’s amazing what some high quality content can do.
Keep in mind high quality content doesn’t necessarily mean the post has to be 2000 words, although if you’re writing a 2000 word post, odds are it’s going to packed full of information (unless you’re rambling on and on about nothing).
The goal is to publish content that is immensely helpful. What is your audience looking for? What are they struggling with? How can you help them? Keep that in mind for every post you publish and you’re bound to create something of value.
3. Posting Daily Isn’t Necessary
In my early blogging days I published posts daily. I was under the impression that the more often I posted, the more pageviews I would get. And while that may be true, it really didn’t make much of an impact on my blog’s growth.
When I blogged daily, the posts were shorter and of a lesser quality. Sure my pageviews increased, but I wasn’t really helping anyone. By limiting my posting to 1-2 times a week, I am able to create better content, which in turn makes a bigger impact.
The element from daily posting that we really should be focusing on is consistency. Posting daily is really just a schedule that your readers get used to. If you switch that to posting every Monday or on the 1st of the month, you’re still creating consistency. People know exactly when to check back.
4. It Takes Time
You know that saying “Rome wasn’t built in a day?” Well it applies to blogging as well. I see so many beginner bloggers asking what they can do to get more eyes on their blog. The thing is, there is no quick fix. Your blog isn’t magically going to become popular over night. You have to work for it. It takes time.
When you’re just starting out, you’re a relative unknown. Let people know you’re there. Help them out. Be friendly. Post quality content. As more people become aware of your presence, you’ll see you blog grow. And that only comes with time.
5. Don’t Use Pageviews to Measure Success
When you’re thinking about the success of your blog, what metric do you use? For most people, it’s probably pageviews. And totally get why. It’s an easy way to see how well your blog is doing.
But it’s important to keep in mind that pageviews aren’t the be all, end all for blogging success. After all, if you’re getting 1 million pageviews a month, but people are clicking off your site within 2 seconds, do you really have a large audience?
No, you don’t.
What’s more important than pageviews is engagement. Are people commenting and sharing? Are they reaching out to tell you how much your posts have helped them? This is so much more valuable than pageviews.
Think about it. People who are engaged with your blog are more likely to keep coming back. They’re also more likely to buy from you. So really, they’re your ideal audience. Those people that visit and click off immediately are a just a meaningless number.
6. Don’t Cheap Out. But Don’t Splurge Either.
I’ve found that many beginner bloggers make it their mission to start a blog and not spend a dime. I get it, I was once that person. But if you’re looking to take your blog seriously, it’s in your best interest to invest in your blog.
Now that doesn’t mean you need to splurge and buy everything every big time blogger is using. On the contrary, you should wait and make sure any purchases you make are going to be worth it.
However, there are some things I 100% believe every blogger should invest in. Top of that list? A domain name. If you don’t invest in anything else, at least purchase a domain name. For $10-$15 it’s an inexpensive way to give your blog a boost.
7. Start List Building Early
We all know how important the email list is. Honestly, I was skeptical at first. I fought it for awhile, then I finally gave in and created one. But I didn’t put in any effort into building it for awhile and I didn’t even email my subscribers until months later. Not good.
Even if an email list seems unnecessary, I say just start one anyway and send out one email a month to keep your list active. That’s it.
If down the line you want to start taking email marketing more seriously, you’ll already have a list in place. And even if you don’t, you now have a direct line of communication open with your audience, which is never a bad thing.
8. Have a Defined Niche
When I first started getting serious about blogging, my blog was all over the place. A typical week of posts looked like this: recipe, style collage, design tips, weekend recap, link roundup. Is there any theme there? I mean, yes there is a slight theme. It’s called Allyssa and it included everything I was interested in.
But in terms of other people, there was no visible niche. Someone who might have stopped by my blog for a recipe would have been lost and confused with my design tips. And someone who was into design and liked my collages had no interest in my Instagram wrap ups.
If you want to take blogging seriously, you need a niche. Now that niche doesn’t need to be super specific, but there should definitely be a general theme. People like knowing what they can expect. If they’re interested in your niche, they might jut stick around. But bombarding them with things from left field isn’t going to make them want to stay.
My favorite way to stay on-niche is to pick 4-6 categories that are related. For example: blogging, business, social media, marketing. See how there would be some overlap and how someone interested in blogging might also be interested in those other 3 categories?
A bad example is: recipes, blogging, biking, homeschooling. What are the odds that someone would be interested in those 4 very different topics? Quite slim.
By choosing a few related categories and making sure every post fits within one, you can ensure that every post you publish is niche specific.
9. Your Ideas Are Not Unique
How many times have you written a blog post only to find a similar post already out there? If it hasn’t happened to you, consider yourself lucky.
The thing is, ideas are not unique. Odds are that awesome post idea you just thought up has already been written about. And that doesn’t mean you copied anyone. With millions of blog posts out there, there is bound to be some overlap.
So while you might not come up with a 100% unique idea, the thing that makes your posts unique is YOU. What do you have to say about a certain topic? Can you explain something differently? Ultimately how you execute the idea will set your post apart from others.
In fact, this post on things I wish I knew when I started blogging has been done a ton. Go ahead and do a Google search. Tons.
So why am I posting it? Because as a blogger who has been at it for years, I’ve learned a bunch and I want to share that knowledge with you. I’m sure some people have learned the same lessons as I have, but their takeaways may have been different. So I’m sharing with the hope that I can help you in some way.
10. There Are Tons of Ways to Monetize Your Blog
Back when I started blogging, people were mainly monetizing their blogs via ads and sponsored posts. That was your goal when you started, to be big enough to make money that way. But after switching niches, I quickly learned that that wasn’t the only way to make money with a blog.
You can sell products. You can sell services. You can guest post. The sky is the limit. The right way to monetize a blog for one person, isn’t going to be the right way for another. Use a combination that works for you.
11. Backups are Important
You put a lot of effort into your blog. But what happens if it disappears? You’re not going to be happy, I can tell you that. All that hard work you put into your archive of blog posts, your tweaked design, plugin customizations, gone.
If you are going to put in that much effort, make sure you have a backup system in place, preferably one that’s automatic. You’ll thank yourself later when your site gets hacked or goes missing.
12. Forge Your Own Path
We’re wired to follow in the footsteps of successful people. You want to be a success, they’re already where you want to be, so you do what they’re doing in the hopes that someday you’ll be in their place. While that’s a great way to learn and it’ll most likely put you on a path to some success, don’t get hung up on copying the techniques of others.
You need to think about your goals first. How can you accomplish them? If something another blogger is doing will help you get there, then great. But if you’re using an expensive tool because everyone else is, but you’re not seeing any results or it’s not relevant, then what’s the point?
Do you. You and your blog are both unique. And there isn’t just one path to success.