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Let me just be straight with you for a minute. When I started my blog I had no idea what the hell I was doing. I had no one to ask questions to and I had no clue how to sort of the VAST library of information there was available to me on the internet. It was so overwhelming!!! Everywhere was SEO this and network that, and social media this and engagement that. It’s like I walked into a bar fight! How do get more followers? How do I make money? How do I grow my blog? What am I supposed to do and what the hell is SEO!?
I DESPERATELY googled everything from how to optimize seo to how to grow Instagram followers. I was so confused by what I didn’t know and so lost in a sea of information! Despite my research, I still felt like all my decisions were like football coin tosses. It either ended in a ‘dangit!’ or a ‘oh yay, that actually worked out!”
The past couple of months of blogging has been full of trial and error but I have learned much and my blog has grown SO MUCH! One day I hope to go down in the history books as the most not bad blog in history!!! So, without further ado, here are the things I wish someone told me before I became a blogger.
In the Beginning, Who You Know Matters More Than What You Know
There’s a pervasive assumption out there and it’s the assumption that if you just write good content, then the views will just come naturally. That’s personally what I thought for a while. If I poured my heart into my content, that people would just show up and that’s true if you already have a big follower base, which I didn’t have so that was out.
You can write beautifully inspired pieces, but if no one is reading them then no one is reading them. You have to get exposure and engagement on your blog to really make an impact. To do this you must network with others. And that’s the keyword of the night, ladies and gentlemen. When I heard that word, shivers ran down my spine and I gulped hard. Networking,…. (ominous music grows) involves…… (ominous music intensifies) people!!!! (a lady screeches in the background) If I could go back, I would tell myself to relax because it isn’t as bad as it sounds! Here are some of the ways I networked:
- Post collaborations
- Guest posts
- Created an Instagram DM Engagement Group
- Joined a Pinterest Group Board
- Joined several Facebook blogging groups and made personal connections
- Contacted bigger bloggers in my niche
It Takes a Lot of Work
Aside from my raging video game addiction, there is nothing that keeps me up in the wee hours of the night, until I started blogging. I spent HOURS doing research, watching videos, taking online courses and trying to make connections. HOURS!!!! And that doesn’t include all the time I spent actually PRODUCING CONTENT. Dude, just let me tell you. It’s a job. If you are serious about making a blog, you cannot just coast on rainbow road and hope money and views come rolling in. You have to put your back into it!
If I could go back, I would tell myself to clear my afternoon….. for the next 3 months. Here’s what takes the most time:
- Setting up your blog
- Learning SEO optimization
- Learning how to set up your social media correctly
- Learning how to grow followers on Pinterest
- Learning how to grow followers on Instagram
- Learning how to grow followers on your blog itself
- Figuring out how your interests line up with what people want to read
- Learning how to encourage engagement
- So basically everything!
It Takes at Least Six Months
Blogging is NOT an instant success. It’s not even a few weeks success! It’s not even a one month success (most of the time), it takes at least five or six months of grind before you can make money or accomplish anything substantial. Does that mean you shouldn’t do it? NOPE! It means, that you just have to change your expectations.
You will make mistakes and not everything will work
Just because someone told you in a video or article that something worked for them doesn’t mean it will work for you! There are a lot of people claiming that you can make X amount of money in X amount of days or you can grow X amount of followers in X amount of days and in my experience they are not the most reliable sources. They do have valuable information to generally grow followers but you should not expect miracles. You will make some mistakes and see little to no return for your hard work and that’s okay! Learning is part of the process and thus so is making mistakes!
Organize Your Information
This is something I regret the most. While I was absorbing all that information about SEO, how to gain followers and what not I FORGOT TO WRITE THE INFORMATION DOWN!!! So I just wizzed around the web from article to article reading and just praying to Odin that I would remember all of it (face palm). I did remember a lot, but I would have been in a better place if I didn’t have to keep re-researching everything I forgot about! Do yourself a favor, get a binder, use One Note or Evernote to write down and organize the information you learn.
A Lot of People Give Up
A lot! There are billions of people on the internet and millions of them try to start a blog. A great majority of those bloggers quit and have bought real estate on the internet just to end up abandoning it. That’s the simple truth of the matter, what separates the big influencers from everyone else is the fact that they didn’t give up. “Surely, not that many people give up!” says the confused reader. Surely, they do (and don’t call me Shirley). The VAST majority of people do. So, if you’re serious about blogging. Put on your elbow grease and get ready to stick it out. I don’t want to dissuade you from starting a blog, on the contrary, I encourage you to start a blog and stay with it!
You’re not always going to have fun
It’s VITAL that you choose something you love writing about, because you’re going to be pouring all your free time, brain power and writing into it! However, even though you chose a topic your passionate about, you will not always enjoy blogging about it. There are so many technical details that it can make you dislike even the thing you love most. There are lots of things you’ll have to deal with that you won’t wanna do, but you’ll have to if you want to be a successful blogger. What should keep you going is your dedication to getting your helpful content out into the world.
SEO Is ALWAYS Talked About
If you don’t know what that is right now, that means you haven’t started a blog yet. Once you start doing more research about it, you’ll see it EVERYWHERE. You’ll roll your eyes every time you see it and maybe even think about skipping it in the article in favor of something else. DON’T. SEO is FREE READERS AND FOLLOWERS. You should ABSOLUTELY take advantage of Google’s SEO because it doesn’t cost you anything but a little bit of time. Plan your keywords using the Google Keyword Planner and through them in your posts as naturally as you can. You’ll thank yourself later.
Plan Your Posts
One thing I didn’t realize I should do was plan my posts ahead of time. I just wrote stuff on the spot most of the time based on what I felt like writing. In the end, that causes a great deal of problems because there are prime times you should be posting and if you’re rushing to get posts out or struggling to find post ideas, it may be because you didn’t plan your posts. Make it easy on yourself and plan your posts!
If Possible, Build Up a Social Media Base Before Blogging
Before starting this blog I built up a Tumblr blog first and gained a sizable following. I gained my reader’s trust and then created a blog. That was a smart decision because I just directed all my viewers to my blog and now I receive hundreds of views a day from Tumblr! You, on the other hand, do not have to use Tumblr. You can build up a base on Twitter, Instagram, Pinterest or Facebook then create a blog to direct them to and watch the views roll in! I recommend you use Pinterest though. You can get a great deal of views and engagement from there!
One thing I did that I kind of regret is using the paid (and expensive) WordPress.com. I paid for the Premium Plan thinking it would give me enough, but there are so many limitations to it and you pay for every little thing! It’s like all the DLCs in Sims 4! I HIGHLY recommend using a self-hosting blog using WordPress.org and Bluehost! No one tells you this, but if you self-host your website using Bluehost, you have A LOT fewer limitations. You can use plugins without paying extra, you can monetize with Google without paying extra and even set up Analytics. When you’re ready, head over to Bluehost to purchase a domain and install WordPress.org in one click! It is one the BEST web hosting platforms and is SUPER cheap (only 3 bucks a month to own a piece of the internet!!!). People RAVE about Bluehost! I wish I knew about it sooner, because I would have hopped on the bandwagon a looooooong time ago! Instead, I payed about 100 extra dollars through WordPress.com. Ugh! Don’t make the same mistakes I made.
I really hope these tips helped you!! What burning (or regular) questions do you have about starting a blog or growing a blog?