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Are you a new blogger or are you thinking of starting a blog to make money?
Here’s a little truth bomb for ya: blogging is hard.
I confess: starting a blog hasn’t always been as much fun as I thought it would be.
I’d been studying blogging for over a year and I really thought I was ready to do it for real. So I finally pulled the trigger and bought a domain name and hosting.
Turns out, it’s A LOT harder than I thought.
I mean, I thought I knew everything there was to know.
They made it look so easy. I was pretty confident that I’d be able to start a blog and build an audience fairly quickly.
Needless to say, I waayyy overestimated my abilities.
After three months of blogging, I’d made a little progress but nowhere near what I expected.
And then I just got super-frustrated and quit.
I didn’t look at my blog for about six months. But I thought about it a lot.
So I decided to give it another try.
And I thought it might help you to share some of the things I’ve learned as a new blogger so you don’t end up getting frustrated and bailing out like I did.
7 Rules Every New Blogger Needs to Know
1. Blogging takes time
I said this before but blogging is really hard work.
There’s such a steep learning curve, or at least there has been for me.
I knew how to set up the basic framework for a WordPress blog and write blog posts. But I was (and sometimes still am) totally lost when it comes to the techie side of blogging.
Not to mention actually promoting your blog and getting traffic.
Can you say overwhelming?
As a new blogger, one of the most important things I’ve learned is this:
If you want the results that the big-time bloggers are getting, you’ve got to put in the time and effort those bloggers did when they were starting out.
Right now, that’s my biggest struggle.
So the takeaway for you if you’re a new blogger?
Set realistic expectations early about how much time you can spend on it.
If it’s only an hour a day, then so be it. But commit to showing up for that hour every day and making the most of it.
It may take you longer to get results but being consistent can eventually pay off.
2. You need a strategy
Blogging without a plan is like taking a newborn on a road trip and leaving your diaper bag at home. If you’re not prepared, you’re going to end up with a big pile of crap on your hands.
I started out as a new blogger with no real strategy, other than setting up posts and messing around on Pinterest. And boy, what a huge mistake that turned out to be.
If you’re not sure how to focus as a beginning blogger, my best tip is to focus on two things and two things only to start — content and promotion.
There’s a fairly simple formula to follow:
- Brainstorm post ideas that speak to your target audience.
- Outline, write, format and publish those posts.
- Get your posts in front of the people you want to read them.
Looks easy, right? Eh…not exactly.
You have to give serious thought to what your target audience’s biggest pain points are and write content that solves their problems.
And it has to be engaging and provide clear takeaways, so they’re dying to come back and read the next thing you post.
But first, you have to get them to your blog, which means having a plan for promoting your content and driving traffic.
People aren’t just going to show up out of thin air. Attracting your core audience starts with doing things like:
- Making connections with other bloggers
- Establishing your presence on social media and building up a following
- Being active in Facebook groups
- Making Pinterest your bestie for life or longer
It all comes down to strategy and if you don’t have a clear outline for getting from A to B, you’re going to end up totally lost. (Like I was.)
3. Learning without doing is pointless
The great thing about being a beginning blogger is that there’s so much information readily available to guide you every step of the way.
Want to master SEO?
There’s a course for that.
Need to grow your list?
There’s a course for that, too.
Plus tons of cheat sheets, checklists, workbooks, e-books, webinars, YouTube videos and blog posts about any and everything blog-related.
The bad thing about being a new blogger and having so many resources and tools is that it’s easy to get caught up in learning about blogging, without ever putting anything you learn into action.
And you have to do that if you want to make it past the beginning blogger stage.
But it’s hard, I know.
You think — I’ll just take one more course or sign up for one more masterclass and I’ll be ready to go. Only you never launch your blog or work on promoting it because you’re bogged down in learning.
I love learning about new things but at some point, you have to make the leap from learning to doing.
And just so you don’t put any more pressure on yourself than you already are, let me give you some advice: forget about it being perfect.
Do it ugly, do it scared, do it even when you feel like you don’t know what you’re doing.
Do it super slow, one step at a time.
But do something.
And if you’re looking for a great all in one resource for new blogging tools, check out the Blogger’s Glitterati Hub from Sasha at Everyday She’s Sparkling. It’s a goldmine of resources for the new blogger who’s struggling to get started!
4. You have to run your own race
One of the biggest obstacles to watch out for as a new blogger is worrying about what every other blogger on the block is doing.
You’re feeling pretty good about your progress then you notice that another blogger who launched two weeks ago already has 1,000 followers on Instagram. Meanwhile, you’ve got 30.
Or you read a blog post about a blogger who grew their page views to a gazillion views in a month, while you’re struggling to crack 100.
Then there are the bloggers who post those insane income reports.
These reports are meant to be inspiring and most of the time, they are. But on days when my page views are measured in the single digits, the last thing I want to read about is how some other blogger is making $50,000 or $100,000 a month.
Comparisons are everywhere in the blogging world and you have to make a conscious decision to avoid them. Otherwise, you end up feeling like everything you do isn’t good enough and you’ll want to quit.
That doesn’t mean that you have to stop reading income reports or following your favorite bloggers.
It just means that you need to keep your eyes on your own paper and focus on doing you, instead of using someone else’s success as a measuring stick for your progress.
5. You’ll get some things wrong
Perfectionism can be just as dangerous to your blogging success as comparisons.
Because trying to make it everything you do as a beginning blogger absolutely perfect is a HUGE waste of time.
Listen up: you’re guaranteed to make mistakes as a new blogger.
Some mistakes might be small, like publishing a post with a typo or two.
Others might be big, like setting up an automation to deliver your opt-in freebie to your email list…and forgetting to attach the file to the freebie. (That might have happened to me. More than once.)
Mistakes are great, though, because every time you make one as a beginning blogger you learn something. The more you learn from mistakes, the more you grow as a blogger.
Getting things wrong can also help you find your way.
You might start off in one direction and think that’s going to be your path but find out that no one wants to read about what you’re writing about, or that lead magnet you spent hours and hours on gets zero clicks from would-be subscribers.
In the beginning, blogging is trial and error.
Some of what you do will stick and other stuff won’t. And that’s okay.
Experiment. Try new things. If something’s not working for you, ditch it. If something is working, then fine-tune it.
And if you make a mistake, learn what you can from it and move on.
6. No one will love what you do as much as you
You could have the greatest blog in the world, with millions of followers and hundreds of subscribers and be recognized as THE influencer in your niche, but you know what?
There’s always going to be someone who thinks you suck.
And in the beginning stages of blogging, you might be churning out what you think is the best stuff ever and getting unhelpful (or even hurtful) comments.
Or worse, your blog is greeted with nothing but silence.
It’s hard feeling like you’re creating something that’s awesome and no one appreciates it or notices it.
When you get hung up on who’s not loving your blog, remember what YOU love about it.
Remind yourself why you started a blog, what you want to achieve and who you want to help. And focus on finding your people and ignoring the naysayers.
That doesn’t mean you should tune out criticism completely, though. Constructive criticism can be helpful when you’re a new blogger (or even an established one.)
I had several more experienced bloggers take a look at my blog and point out things that I had missed when I was getting started.
It may not be totally comfortable for you, but don’t be afraid to ask other bloggers for feedback.
And if you’re offered good advice, take it.
7. Blogging isn’t for everyone
The most important thing I’ve learned as a new blogger is that you have to treat blogging like a business, even if making money from it isn’t on your radar.
Building a blog as a business is all about time, effort and planning. You have to be prepared to not get the results you were expecting and bounce back ready to try something else.
And here’s the hardest truth of all: some beginning bloggers won’t make it.
It’s not because their blog niche is all wrong or their content sucks. It’s because they’re not approaching it like a business from the jump.
Here’s what building a business is really like, from my own experience:
- It involves working a lot of hours and sometimes feeling like you’re getting nowhere.
- You’re constantly in hustle mode; even in your sleep, you’re dreaming about the next step you can take in your business.
- The self-doubt factor is always there nagging at you, telling you to just give it up already.
- It can take months (or even years) for the real money to start rolling in.
Once you get past all that hard stuff and get established, running a business feels like a cake walk compared to the early days.
It’s like having a baby; you forget the nine months of awfulness because you’re all caught up in that new baby glow.
Bottom line? If you want to gain real traction as a new blogger, you have to be all in; you can’t do it halfway.
Ready to start your blogging adventure?
If you read through all that and you’re still fired up about blogging, then high five! I’d love you to check out my step by step guide to starting a blog–it’s an ultimate guide for the non-techie type!