I’ve been blogging for 20 years (?!?!) now, both leisurely and professionally, and blogging has changed so much since! In this post, I talk about some of the things you should know before you start blogging.
I started blogging ahead of my peers. I launched my first blog during the “Dear Diary” era, which set the course for what would now be an 18-year old blogging journey. I was 15-years old then, in case you’re curious. Seriously guys, if my first blog was my daughter, she would be a full-grown adult by now.
I got used to blogging that way, documenting personal stories and talking about anything that interests me. I blogged for the consumption of close family and friends, and for the most part, published content that didn’t really provide useful information to the viewing public other than tell them what I do, what I like, and how I feel.
Oh yes, I blogged about my feelings a lot, my heart at the tip of my fingers, because that’s how bloggers roll back in the day! *wink*
Little did I know that blogging will be an in-demand career and a multi-billion dollar industry.
Over the past decade, we’ve seen many people blaze their own trails and change the world through their blogs. And now, if you’re passionate and strategic, you can too.
The good thing about launching a blog today is that, in many ways, you don’t have to reinvent the wheel. You can study the trends, learn what works for other bloggers and what doesn’t, and run with it!
To add to this wealth of information, here are some of the things I learned in my own blogging journey. I hope you pick up a thing or two!
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Ready? Here we go.
1. Having a focused niche is key to expedite your blog’s growth.
Let’s qualify this statement first. I’m talking about new blogs, with a single author, and WITHOUT an existing following.
Broad niche blogs have a chance in this age of digital content if:
- You already have authority and a following. Say, you’re Meghan Markle and everyone already knows who you are and will be interested to read about anything you say or wear or eat or do.
- You’re launching a multi-authored blog with several subject matter experts on board, meaning, you’re not creating content and managing the blog on your own.
- You just want to blog for fun, without any intentions of monetizing it.
If you’re a new blogger without an existing following and you’re entering the blogging scene with the intention of making it your full-time career, you’d have better chances if you start with a focused niche.
Once you get traction and become a go-to resource for your chosen niche then you can expand.
This is very important for solopreneurs and newbie bloggers who don’t have a lot of resources and help. Having a focused niche not only attracts your target market, but it also makes your content process more efficient and intentional.
2. Having an online presence AND an offline life is important.
If you’re an introvert and an online geek like me, being behind the computer screen is your comfort zone. You like the fact that you don’t have to interact with people beyond your comments section, email inbox, and social media.
In my early years of blogging, I hid behind pen names and found pleasure in being online all the time. But this is not anymore the way to establish a blog that matters in this age and time.
If you want to intentionally expand your blog’s reach and create a bigger impact, you want to build real relationships outside of the internet. You might want to consider networking and collaborating with other bloggers both online and offline.
Being part of a community and joining workshops and events are great ways to meet people and expand your reach, and this is true for both bloggers and creative business owners.
But more importantly, you need to live out what you blog.
Benjamin Franklin said it best, “Either write something worth reading, or do something worth writing.”Either write something worth reading, or do something worth writing. ~Benjamin Franklin Click To Tweet
Yep, we’re talking about an ancient-old principle here, something that remains true to this day. Thanks, Mr. Franklin!
3. Writing is not the only skill you need when blogging.
So you love to write, I get it. But to establish a profitable blog, you have to be open about learning a new creative skill or two.
When I started blogging, I just wanted a channel where I can write my heart out. Later on, I learned that there are skills I needed to develop intentionally to be a better and more effective blogger:
- Photography. While using stock photos is a good enough alternative, nothing beats taking your own photos for your blog, especially for lifestyle blogs and personal blogs. Learning to take better photos is something that definitely comes handy with blogging.
- Social skills. You can’t expect search engines to magically bring in people to your blog, especially if you just started blogging. Not to mention, with the number of blog posts being published and the number of new blogs being launched every day, it’s most likely that readers won’t find your blog organically. You have to go out there, find where your target readers are and initiate conversations.
- Design skills, optional. You don’t need to learn CSS, HTML or Website Development–these are stuff you can outsource. However, you need to at least gain some design skills to make your blog visually appealing. Designing graphics like Pinterest covers, Instagram quotes, worksheets, and e-books, or learning basic typography are skills you’d want to have to keep your blog looking like a pro.
- Digital marketing. The concept of digital marketing can be overwhelming, to be honest. It took me years to get the hang of SEO and understand how social media algorithm works, and even more years to understand the importance of Paid Advertising, Email Marketing, and Marketing Automation. To top it off, Digital Marketing is constantly evolving! But here’s the thing.. as you learn how to create and promote content, you naturally learn digital marketing too. And while outsourcing and hiring specialists are wise alternatives, understanding digital marketing makes you a better blogger and content creator.
- Organizational and time management skills. A consistent content creation process requires discipline and organization. There are a lot of things that go into creating a single piece of blog content, and once you’re done with that, you have to do the whole process over and over again. If you don’t stay organized and put in the necessary time for every step in your content creation process, well, expect your blog will gradually die over time.
4. Blogging is not for everyone.
Everywhere you go, you read articles about how to make money blogging, or how easy it is to start or launch a blog, or how anyone can do it. But the truth is, blogging doesn’t really work for everyone.
For one, if you can’t confidently articulate your thoughts in writing, I’m not sure how you can wing it with a blog. This is pretty obvious, you guys, but no one seems to be stating the obvious anymore these days.
I mean, someone literally asked me if she could blog even when she doesn’t really like writing, and I scratched my head in confusion. Unless this person plans to hire ghostwriters to do the heavy lifting for him/her, I don’t see how it’s going to work out.
In the same way, just because you’re a great writer doesn’t mean you can easily launch and maintain a successful blog too.
Maintaining a blog requires a combination of skills (as I mentioned above), a clear strategy, and a whole lot of work and patience. At some point, you will start to think about how to monetize your blog too because blogging for fun (like the olden days) is not so fun anymore.
Think about these things when you start blogging. But don’t let the lack of skills or the lack of knowledge stop you if you’re serious about making it work. You learn most of these things along the way, and it’s really up to you to make blogging work for yourself.
5. A self-hosted blog with your unique domain name is non-negotiable if you want to establish a blog that will last (and will make money).
A lot of people would like to test the waters first by publishing on free blog platforms like WordPress or Tumblr or Blogspot. I did this myself, hopping from one free blog platform to another in my younger years. I realized, however, that these are not the kind of platforms that will set you up for a blogging career.
NOT investing in your own domain name and web hosting from the get-go says a couple of things about you.
- You don’t want to make the investment because you’re unsure about blogging.
- You just want to blog for fun and you don’t see it as something you will do for the long haul.
- You don’t have any intention of turning your blog into something that will generate income.
- You don’t care about your creative property enough to publish it on a platform that you own.
Remember when your Friendster or Multiply blog disappeared just like that? Yep.
Once you published your content on platforms you can’t control, you’re practically giving them the right to do whatever they want to do with your content like put ads on them, or make them disappear.
IMHO, $63.35 for the first year blogging (the most basic cost of a domain name and a web host with Siteground) is a small price to pay if you want to establish a blog that will last. If I knew this from the beginning, then I wouldn’t have spent all those years squatting on someone else’s property. 🙂
You see, when there’s a price to pay, the tendency is for you to work hard until you see some ROI. On the other hand, if you don’t invest money in your blog, it’s easy to set it aside when the going gets tough.
6. Blogging success doesn’t happen overnight.
Blogging, as with any endeavor, takes a lot of hard work. The fact that some people leave their current 9-5 jobs to blog full-time is a testament to how much work it takes to put out great content on a consistent level!
In all these years blogging (professionally and leisurely), I had to work long hours to learn the craft, find opportunities, network with people, embrace the process, and continuously strive to improve and be better at what I do.
That being said, if you plan to blog for the long haul, and if you want your blog to reach a wide audience and make an impact, you have to be ready (and excited!) to put in the hours and do the work.
7. It doesn’t matter whether you’re an old-timer or a newbie, blogging success happens to those who consistently do the work.
Some of us have been blogging for over a decade now but there are hundreds of new bloggers out there who are around for a considerably less number of years but already killing it with this thing.
Some have become published authors, others make 7-digit income businesses from their blogs, and some make considerably less money from their blogs but are living a life free from the 9-5.
In that note, there are also bloggers who were amazing 10 years ago but didn’t carry on the momentum. Some of them don’t exist anymore, some ended their blogging run after they’ve moved on to other things or shifted careers, others stopped blogging after they’ve completed what they’ve set to do.
So much has changed in the digital landscape and only a few bloggers are able to cope with that change (these first-generation bloggers are some of my fave!). This only tells us that if you want to stay the course and make blogging your career, you have to be willing to adapt to the change, keep learning, and stay consistent.