When I first started, I did not bother looking at tips for new bloggers. I did not do much research other than looking up how to start a blog. I simply started a blog and started writing blog posts. While I chose to set up a professional blog, it was mostly a hobby. Just last month, it became my full-time job. Since December, my blog views have increased by over 1000% percent as I learned and grew my knowledge and my site.
Some things you will figure out as you go. Do not feel pressure to know it all before you start blogging. To help you on your blogging journey, here are 24 blogging tips that I wish I knew before I started my blog 24 months ago.
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#1: Just Do It – Start Your Blog Today
I actually bought my domain a month or two before I posted my first blog post in July of 2017. However, I talked about starting a blog for two years before that. If I could go back in time, I would start my blog two years earlier. Instead of thinking about it, talking about it, and putting it off, I would just do it.
The hardest part for me was coming up with a name. I kept a list on my phone of ideas, but I struggled to find one I liked that was also available on social media. Even when I picked my name to combine my love of running and travel, I still hesitated because what if? What if I hated it later? What if I wanted to change it? Instead of dwelling, I should have just started. Even if it isn’t easy, you can always change it later.
Think about what holds you back from starting a blog? Is it the name? Are you unsure how to start? Do you worry about keeping up with it? Let me give you some advice just do it. Here is a link to one of many resources from Helene Sula that takes you through the steps of starting a (profitable) blog in 2019.
#2: Don’t Worry About What Others Think
I’m preaching to the choir on this one. As someone who often thinks too much about what others think of me and what I do, I try not to let that hold me back with my blog. For a while, I was too nervous to share much about my blog with family and friends. If they brought it up, then I told them about it. Otherwise, I kept it more to myself, maybe sharing a new blog post here or there.
I’ve learned now that my friends and family are my biggest supporters when it comes to my blog. They are often the ones who read and share my blog posts on social media first. They give me ideas for posts to write based on what they want to know.
Do not be afraid to share your new adventures with friends and family. Some may not support you or may not publicly support you, and that is okay too. It can’t hurt to put yourself out there and ask for their support in your new adventure though. I am not good at self-promoting, but I have become better at it over the last few years. Start working on it right away if it is a struggle for you.
I also worried when I made the decision to take a break from teaching next year to blog full time. There are so many misconceptions about blogging, that I worried about what people would think of me leaving a full-time reliable job to go after a dream. My husband convinced me that it did not matter I could not let what others thought stop me from chasing a dream and going for it. Worrying about what others thought was not worth the regret of always wondering what could have been.
#3: The Value of the Blogging Community
When I first started, I did everything on my own. I didn’t know any other bloggers, and I didn’t have a clue what I was doing. I learned a lot of stuff the hard way or through Google. However, through Instagram, I started getting to know some other bloggers. I also joined a couple of blogging Facebook groups recently. Both of these things mean I have help and support in my journey.
You do not have to do this alone. There are so many others who have been through what you are going through. You can turn to them for help. You can also learn a lot just by silently observing in Facebook groups. Make sure to choose groups where people know what they are talking about like Digital Nomad Wannabe’s Making Money from Blogging group and Make Traffic Happen.
#4: Ask for Help & Never Stop Learning
When you are starting out (and even still after two years), you will have LOTS of questions. Find a few bloggers you admire and start building a relationship with them. Do not simply start asking questions all of the time though. If you want free advice, you need to build a relationship first. If you are asking to use their time and knowledge to give you free feedback and advice, it helps to have spent time engaging with their content on social media or their blog first.
Within the Facebook groups, you have more people to ask anytime. You can search past posts to see if your question has already been answered or post a new question. Every time I have asked a question, someone has helped me out. At first, I worried that my questions would be stupid questions, but everyone is helpful and kind in answering.
Before I post a question, I typically try to Google it. I spend more time on Google and looking for blogging answers than I ever thought possible. While I have learned a lot, I definitely do not know it all. Keep learning and keep growing.
Plus, things change fast in the blogging and technology world. Google updates, Pinterest and social media algorithms, new tools, new rules on what you have to disclose things are always changing, so it is important to try to keep up. It may seem overwhelming at first, but just take it one thing at a time.
#5: Setting a Blogging Schedule (& Breaking It)
My first blog post went live on July 19, 2017. My second one went live just nine days later. A third and fourth one were up within a week. Then I went back to teaching. A fifth blog post went up over two months later. It was another four months and into 2018 before the sixth post went up. By the end of 2017, I only had five blog posts up on my website.
The next year did not go much better. I felt good when it only took a month to get another blog post up after letting four months pass between blog posts. That was short lived as it was another four months and already July again before I posted again. I did better the last half of the year with a blog post up each month from July to December and two in October. Still, in all of 2018, I only posted nine blog posts.
In comparison, this year, I already have 18 new blog posts up. I made it a goal in January to post at least once a month with a real goal of posting bi-weekly. I saw results from posting monthly at the end of 2018 starting to kick in by the beginning of 2019. This encouraged me to keep going.
With working full time, I had to find a schedule that worked for me. I saw so many posts saying that you need to put up a new blog post weekly. Depending on the niche, sometimes that is easier to do. Because my blog posts tend to be longer, more detailed, and photo heavy, they take a while to write and be ready to post. I knew this was unrealistic and would only lead to me feeling like I could not keep up.
My reasoning for bi-weekly posting while I was working full-time was because my husband worked every other weekend. I figured that when he worked, I could write and post a new blog post. The weekends he was off, I did not want to be focused on trying to get a new blog post done. Sometimes it worked. Sometimes life happened.
Since the school year ended and I now blog full-time, I changed my schedule in June. Now I do try to have at least one new blog post up a week. Some weeks I post two or three new posts (only one of them is usually an intensive travel post). Some weeks I don’t get a post done.
Try to set a general schedule so that you are posting regularly. Google likes to see regular activity on your blog. Going four months between blog posts was not ideal. However, sometimes life happens. Sometimes you are traveling and do not want to miss out just to write a blog post. Sometimes you have friends or family in town or birthday parties or weddings to attend. That is okay. Your blog will still be there when you are ready to write again. Having a goal is good, but do not let that goal make you miserable.
#6: Making a Blog Work With a Busy Life
The question I heard regularly when teaching full time, doing Instagram regularly, and still maintaining my blog was, “How do you find the time to keep up with all of that?” The short answer: I felt like I wasn’t keeping up. I always felt behind. There was always so much still to do.
If you are working full-time and want to blog for fun, just enjoy it. Do not put pressure on yourself. If you want it to be a full-time job one day, prepare for some long days and nights to make it happen though.
The best thing I did was carve out little bits of time. On the weekends my husband worked, I would sit and work for six to eight hours each day while he was at work. On the days I worked, I still tried to find an hour here or there. Sometimes I would edit photos in Lightroom Mobile or catch up on Instagram comments in line at the store. Other times I would sit down and write a blog post draft, but not do any photos or other parts of the blog post.
While I am the type of person who likes to start and finish something all in one sitting, I had to learn to take time where I could find it. If my husband had to work late, I tried to check something off of my to do list. If I had a free hour before we had plans, I tried to get something done. Sometimes this meant waking up early (the worst for me!) or staying up late to get some work done.
The biggest thing that has helped me is having my husband’s support. He wants to see me succeed, and he supports me as much as he can. He reads over blog posts for me (so does my mom thanks, Mom!), takes pictures with/for me, and encourages me to go for it. Because of his support and because we both agreed on goals for this business, I can be honest with him when I need some time to get something done. I also make sure to set aside time when he is off so that we can have quality time together. The best part about making this full-time is having more time with him on his days off now. I am still working on making sure to take time for myself too some days, but that is a work in progress.
#7: Blogging Priorities – There is Never Enough Time
I thought for sure that when school ended, I would have SO much time on my hands to get everything done. That is not the case. There will always be more to do than you have time to do. That is why setting priorities for what you want to get done is important. This looks different for each person.
For me, I focus on writing new posts, learning SEO and Pinterest, and engaging on Instagram. I would like to go back and rewrite some old posts to apply my new knowledge I gained since then, but that is not my top priority right now. Sometimes I give Twitter, Flipboard, or Facebook (my page and my group pages) more attention, but sometimes I don’t have time. If I had more time, I would do so much more. However, I am in the process of starting some new projects, and I have to focus on things that make my blog profitable and bring in traffic if I want to sustain this as a full-time job.
Find what you love with your blog and focus more on that. Do not feel like you have to do it all. If you are just starting out, focus on learning SEO and Pinterest. Add a social network if you really like one. Try to write posts when you can. Do not feel like you have to conquer it all from day one though.
#8: It Will Take Time to Grow Your Blog
Blogging is not often an overnight success story. Many of the extremely successful bloggers have been at it for years. I don’t mean post every once in a while years like I did. I mean post regularly and work hard at it all the time years.
When I started, I had no idea how blog posts made it to the top of Google results. I kind of assumed that if you wrote a good, detailed post, Google would show it to people. It turns out there is so much more to it than that. In fact, new blog posts rarely make it to the top of Google. It typically takes months to start seeing consistent results from Google. While I had one blog post shoot to the top of Google results in less than a month, that is not the norm. I do start seeing some clicks within a few weeks usually, but building traffic through Google takes time.
The same is true of making money from your blog. When it is still small, you are not likely to see much income from it. As it grows, you are more likely to have people buy from your links or to be able to make money from ad networks. This is when building a community helps. Establish a community that trusts you and looks to you for advice. These are the people who will keep you and your blog going in those early months and years. Your community is likely to be the first ones to use your affiliate links and to share your posts with their own friends, family, and networks.
Do not go into it expecting to make a full-time income right away. In fact, expect to lose money at first (more on that later). However, keep working at it and you can get there.
#9: It Takes More Work Than You May Realize, But Don’t Give Up
Along this same thread, there is so much more that goes into blogging than I ever realized when I started. This is not to scare you away. In fact, if you love it, you will find that it is completely worth the trouble. Plus, it gets easier as you go and as you learn what works and what doesn’t.
I started out as a new blogger thinking you just had to write, throw in some pictures, and post. It turns out that pretty much no one will see it that way. You need to make sure your post is optimized for Google, add alt text and appropriate titles to pictures, research keywords that work, create pins, and promote, promote, promote!
Do not start a blog just because you hate your job. Do not start a blog and expect to get rich quick from it. Make sure it is something you love and something you are passionate about because it will take time, money, and effort to make it successful. If it is, here are the more practical tips for new bloggers to build your blog.
#10: Building Links to Your Blog
At first, I did not care about building links. Why did I need those? Why would I write for other blogs what I could post on my own blog instead? Then I started doing a couple of guest posts for female travel blogs to try to bring in more traffic (spoiler alert: it doesn’t bring much traffic!). If writing for others doesn’t bring you much traffic, why should you do it?
The short answer is domain authority. You can use Moz.com to look at your domain authority for free, and there are other sites that also measure similar metrics by different names. The idea behind these numbers is that it shows how likely your page is to rank for different keywords. The stronger your backlink profile, the more likely Google is to see you as an authoritative source. If trustworthy sites link back to you, Google sees you and your posts as more trustworthy. However, keep in mind that this is only one part of what Google uses to determine which posts will rank for keywords.
Relationships Build Links
So how do you get those links? There are three main ways I have improved my backlink profile. One is just by building relationships. As you get to know people, they will naturally link to you. For example, Helene Sula linked to my Iceland post because of my advice about how to see the Blue Lagoon for free. She also linked to me in a post about Instagram engagement and another about lessons she has learned from blogging. I did not ask for any of these links, but these links resulted from building a friendship with her over the last year and a half.
Similarly, building friendships also meant gaining some links from posts listing favorite bloggers or Instagram accounts. Because I have built a friendship with Nicola of All About Rosalilla, she included me in her list of 10 Instagram accounts to follow. Charlie of Charlie’s Wanderings also recently included me in a list of the most inspiring female travel blogs. Building relationships is a natural way to build links.
Guest Posts and Collab Posts
The other two ways are somewhat similar guest posting and collaboration posts. In both of these, you are writing content to be posted on someone else’s website. For a guest post, you write the entire post and sometimes provide the photos as well. In return, you get a link or two (or a few) back to your website or even specific blog posts. For a collab post, you only write one part of the post to be combined with responses from other bloggers.
The benefit of a guest post is that you get more of the “link juice”, meaning because you are the main blog with links in that post, it benefits you more for your domain authority. However, you are writing a full blog post you could post on your own blog for someone else. If that post competes with blog posts on your own site and they are a bigger blog, you also risk your article for them outranking your own blog posts.
The benefit of a collab post is they are quick to write. Often, they are 200 300 words and maybe one picture. You still get a link, but because there are so many other links as well, it does not give you as much “link juice.”
At first I only did guest posts and only a few. Then Amanda of FlyStayLuxe asked me to contribute to a collab post she was working on for her site. I went for it and found that it was much easier and much less time consuming. Since then, I tend to focus more on collab posts.
If you only have time to focus on your blog, do that. If you have some time and want to give it a try, here are some things to consider first:
Do you want that content for your own blog? If you write it and publish it elsewhere, you cannot use the same post on your own site. If you want to use something similar but rewrite it, that is okay, but you will still compete with yourself for that keyword if you target the same one.
Is the link going to be valuable for the time you give? I try to mostly write for sites with a similar audience and with a higher domain authority. I do this in hopes that more people will click through to my site and that it will help improve my domain authority.
Is that site the right fit for you and your content? Do not just write for anyone who asks. I look for collab posts where I can link to a specific blog post or a blog post that is already ranking in Google. Sometimes that is the push it needs to move higher in Google rankings. I would rather build posts to specific blog posts instead of just my homepage.
For guest posts, unless otherwise specified, I try to link to one or more specific blog posts within the post itself. I did not do this at first, but I learned later on to do this. I also did not put any kind of author biography in my first blog posts. It is something I wish I had done. While they may choose to remove it, it gives me a chance at the end of the post to introduce myself. After seeing them on other guest posts on the sites I wrote for, I realized that was a beginner blogging mistake I made.
#11: Social Media for Bloggers
Social media for bloggers is a totally different thing from social media for an average user. You are constantly promoting yourself and your blog while also trying to build relationships, provide value, and not alienate followers with your constant self-promotion. That being said, once again, you can’t do it all.
Social media platforms are powerful, but only if you use them and use them well. I am terrible at using Twitter. I never got into it. Then I decided to make one for my blog (you can still follow it here). However, I don’t post regularly and never really loved Twitter. I only did it to promote my blog.
Instagram is different for me. I love the visual aspect of Instagram as a photographer. I can spend hours on Instagram without even realizing it. For me, it makes sense to focus more on Instagram than Twitter. That does not mean it is the “right” way for you to do it though.
Think about the social platforms you enjoyed before blogging. Think about the ones you enjoy now. Do not force it if you love it, use it. If you don’t, that’s okay too. You won’t have time to focus on all of the platforms, so pick one or two that you love and enjoy and put your focus into growing those platforms and using them to drive traffic to your blog (read here about a little trick I use to drive thousands of extra clicks to my blog from Instagram).
#12: The True Value of Instagram in Blogging
You do not need Instagram to be a successful blogger. Let me repeat this: You DO NOT need Instagram to be a successful blogger. I started my Instagram page for my blog before I even had the blog up and running (I actually converted my personal page over). I thought that I would get a ton of traffic if I just built my Instagram up. After all, I took pretty pictures, so why wouldn’t people follow me? It turned out to be so much more work than I realized (and my pictures if you scroll back weren’t so pretty as I thought).
Because I love Instagram, it is the route I chose to go. However, I thought I needed Instagram to be a successful blogger. It turns out that Google and Pinterest both drive more traffic to my blog than Instagram. However, I do receive daily clicks from Instagram and those readers tend to be my dedicated community instead of someone just clicking through to read a quick post and leave. For my top tips on growing your Instagram authentically, click here.
The community aspect of Instagram is far more valuable than the clicks themselves. Even if you don’t have 10,000 followers, you can still drive traffic to your blog. It is the relationships that really make Instagram worth it for me. I love building relationships with my community. It also gives me a chance to see what they want to know more about and to be able to provide those answers on my blog. In addition, my Instagram community is more likely to trust me when I suggest products that I use. They know me and trust me to give them good advice because of the rapport we have built.
#13: Pinterest Matters!
I tried for so long to ignore Pinterest. I never used it personally and did not understand the draw to it. After reading post after post about using Pinterest to drive traffic to your blog, I went for it about eight or nine months ago. I signed up for a Pinterest account and started pinning.
As always in blogging, there is more to Pinterest than I realized. However, it does drive traffic. It takes time to see the results, and I did not have regular clicks to my blog for several months. It did not help that I had no idea what I was making quite a few common Pinterest mistakes (see if you are making any of the same mistakes keeping you from going viral here). Now I have board covers, a board just for my blog posts that stays at the top of my page, add keywords to my pin titles and descriptions, and take part in group boards.
I also have pinnable images on every single post. When I started using Pinterest, I had to go back and create pins for all of my old posts. I only created one or maybe two for some of them. Now, I create at least 5 10 pins for each blog post using the free version of Canva. I try to create a variety and still play with different formats and wording to see what performs best. I do not always include them all in the post itself, but I will pin them over the next few weeks and months and then start looping some of them through every so often.
One thing I only recently started doing with Pinterest is regularly pinning manually. The majority of my pinning is through Tailwind. I do try to spend 5 10 minutes each morning, afternoon and evening pinning within Pinterest itself. This also helps show Pinterest that I am a real and active user.
Whatever you do, don’t ignore Pinterest. It doesn’t take me much time at all to schedule my pins (see below) and pin a little manually each day, but I daily see the results of these efforts.
By the way, if you are enjoying this post and want to save it for reference, here is a pin for you to pin it! You can also check out more of my best Pinterest tips here.
#14: Scheduling and Promoting Your Posts
Anytime you post a new blog post, promote it right away! For me, that means a Facebook post on my blog page, a personal Facebook post most of the time, an Instagram story, a link in my Instagram Links page for my link in my biography, a post on Instagram, a tweet, flipping it to Flipboard and lots of pins.
The best thing I did to grow my Pinterest account though is to use Tailwind. Promoting a new post can be a headache if you try to remember which pins you have posted to which boards. Tailwind make that all easier. You can pin them all in a row or pin them using intervals to spread out when that pin is pinned to each board.
Tailwind lets me schedule my pins and pins them for me at the optimal times. I also use Tailwind Tribes where I can share a pin and have others in my niche share it to their audience as well. I also draw from Tailwind Tribes to find pins to fill in my pinning schedule with articles I think my followers would enjoy or that I want to read myself. For a free trial of Tailwind, click here.
#15: SEO Matters…
Search Engine Optimization helps your blog posts rank on Google and other search engines. I did try to research this when I first started blogging, but it was overwhelming. Since I did not know what it was talking about most of the time, I gave up and decided to just focus on writing well-written posts. Eventually I gave it another try. Over time, I continue to learn more about what makes a post search engine optimized. I learn from reading blog posts and from my Facebook groups and questions that are asked there (find more of what I’ve learned about SEO here).
The biggest thing I have learned is the importance of keywords, keyword research (more later), and keyword placement. Once you know the keyword you are targeting, make sure it goes in your title, slug (link), the snippet (what appears in search results), beginning of your post (first 100 words or first paragraph typically), and H1 header. Put your main keyword and any secondary keywords in your headings, your body paragraphs, your alt text on images (this helps those who use assisted reading options but it also helps with ranking on Google images), and formatted text if you use it.
#16: …But So Does Good Writing
As important as SEO is to your blog, so is good writing. If you are keyword stuffing or writing unnaturally just to get keywords to fit into your post, people will not read it. Good writing draws people in and makes them stick it out through your long blog posts. Using headings and images to split up the writing and transitions to make it flow together helps too, especially with longer posts like I tend to write.
If you struggle with writing, have a friend or family member read over your posts to edit them and to give you ideas for what to fix. Look online at good writing strategies. Practice and pay attention to which posts do well and try to emulate that on future posts.
Inject a little of your personality into the post instead of feeling like you have to keep it rigid. Your voice and your experiences set you apart from other bloggers. Don’t be afraid to let that shine through. People can get the facts from any travel site. They come to your blog to get personal opinions and experiences and to see what a place is really like from someone who has been there.
I have always loved writing. My major was English Language Arts Education. I taught English Language Arts for 9 years and love teaching writing. I can sit down and knock out a 5,000+ word blog post in a couple of hours. If writing doesn’t come naturally to you, play up your other strengths. Your personality is one of those. Maybe your photography skills or graphic design skills or video editing skills can be used to strengthen your blog post if writing is not your strength.
#17: Do Keyword Research
Keyword research is more important than I originally thought too. Keyword research not only gives me an idea of what keywords to target, it also helps me see which ones I am more or less likely to rank for on my blog. There are a number of paid and free tools out there, but the one I went with after seeing so many recommend it is Keysearch, one of my top blogging tools every blogger needs.
I use the Keysearch Starter plan and pay for it annually to save a little money on it. It tells me based on my blogs stats what difficulty rating to aim for with keywords I use. Then I go over to the keyword research tool and start looking at keywords. I type in the ones I am considering and it shows the top sites ranking for that keyword. It also shows suggested keywords as well as a list of similar keywords to consider. In addition to the difficulty, it shows the search volume for that keyword. You don’t want to write an entire post on an easy keyword only to have no one ever search for it!
The good thing about keywords is that your blog post will naturally rank for many keywords. Long and detailed blog posts are able to answer lots of questions, so Google can show it to lots of people for a variety of search terms. Keyword research helps you decide which terms to make your main terms you go after and your secondary terms to also target. As your blog grows, you can start targeting and ranking for harder and harder keywords.
#18: The Importance of Alt Text & Pin Descriptions
Alt text is used by screen readers to describe an image to the visually impaired. It also helps Google determine what the picture contains. If you do not put a pin description for the pin, it is also what Pinterest pulls as your pin description.
I used to leave the alt text blank. Now I fill in the alt text for every since image. I am going back and fixing this now, but this would have saved time if I knew from the beginning.
Google and other search engines also use alt text to determine what is in the image for image search results. By including alt text that is appropriate to the image, you give your image a chance to show in image searches to bring you more traffic.
When I first started using alt text, I incorrectly used it for my pin descriptions. However, you want your blog to be accessible, and people who are using a screen reader don’t want to hear your Pinterest description.
There are better ways to add the pin description to make your site an overall better user experience for anyone using screen readers. One way to do it is to code it into the image HTML by using data-pin-description=”Pin description here”. I used this at first.
You can also use several plugins to add a pin description. The one I currently use for social sharing and pin descriptions is called Social Pug (now Grow by Mediavine you don’t have to be on Mediavine to use it). It lets me put in a pin description for each image as well as turn off pinning on images that I don’t want to go on Pinterest.
However, if you use Elementor as a page builder, Social Pug/Grow is not currently compatible. Friends who use Elementor use Tasty Pins instead of Social Pug. Both are paid plugins but worth the time it saves me coding it in.
#19: Don’t Worry Too Much About the Numbers
This is especially true at the beginning. Don’t compare your numbers to others either. Each niche and each blog will be different. Some already have a large social media audience they can pull from. Others have worked in social media and blogging before, so they may grow faster.
It isn’t all about the numbers, but still take time to enjoy the milestones. I remember my excitement when my blog hit 1,000 views and then when it hit 100 views in a day. It is fun to look at your growth and hit new milestones, but don’t obsess over the numbers.
It takes time to see the impact of most things you do for your blog. Google may not send you reliable traffic for a blog post for months. Pins on Pinterest may take off right away, a few weeks or months down the road, or not at all. Some blog posts may get lots of clicks from social media and others may not get much right away. Just keep working, and the results will come. If you check immediately after posting and feel disappointed that it didn’t immediately go viral, just know that a viral post is not the norm.
#20: Use Google Analytics and Google Search Console Though
While you should not focus on the numbers, you do want to use Google Analytics and Google Search Console. Both help you track your blog traffic but in different ways. Both provide incredibly useful data to help you grow your blog too.
Google Analytics helps you see your traffic and gives you a ton of information about your traffic. You can see who is on your site right now, how they got to your site, where they are located in the world, and what they are looking at (not going to lie I spend way too much time on this page!). In addition, you can look at trends by setting a time period and checking where the traffic came from, who your audience is (age, location, type of device, etc.), how long people spend on your site, what they do once they are on your site, and so much more.
Google Search Console shows you your Google traffic. You can see how many clicks each page gets as well as which search terms brought them to your site. In addition to the actual clicks, you can see how many times it was shown in search results and where it ranks. All of this helps you see how your keyword strategies are working. You can also use this to give you an idea of how to go back and strengthen an old blog post by adding some new keywords to target.
Both Google Analytics and Google Search Console will walk you through the steps to set them up on your blog by adding a piece of code. They both also provide resources for using the tools, although there are a ton of additional resources out there if you want more information. Google Analytics and Google Search Console are tools you need to help grow your blog.
#21: Start an E-Mail List Right Away
Again, I put this off for way too long. I originally just used the free one built in to WordPress where people could subscribe to blog updates. In over a year, I had 11 subscribers. No, I didn’t type that wrong. Only 11 subscribers. Two of those were my in-laws.
After doing some research and reading different suggestions, I opted for ConvertKit for my email service. ConvertKit lets me create a variety of forms for email signups, create a sequence of emails to send out to new subscribers (perfect for email courses or freebies), and send out broadcasts to different groups of subscribers. You can set it all up in advance, and then ConvertKit does the rest. For broadcasts, you can schedule them in advance or send them immediately. Even without doing anything, I gain new subscribers on a daily basis from having my forms out there in different places for people to sign up.
To get more email signups, the best thing to do is to create a “freebie”. This can be anything. You can use a downloadable map of a destination, a checklist, bonus tips, or a free preset. Giving away a free preset has really helped grow my email list.
For an example of a form, you can sign up below for more blogging tips sent your way in the future!
#22: Invest in Your Growth & Track Your Expenses
Blogging is not cheap if you set up a professional blog from the start. Between paying for your domain and hosting, buying a blog theme (optional), paying for an email service and keyword research tool, photography equipment, Photoshop/Lightroom subscriptions, etc., your blog will cost you more than it makes you for a while. Don’t be afraid to invest though! Some of these tools are needed to help your blog grow.
If you want this to be a full-time job, you want a professional looking blog. You want to have an email list to reach out to when you have new posts or new products. You want to be able to research the keywords to target on your blog post. While you can pay for stock images, if you want to use your own images, you will need photography equipment and editing tools.
In addition, you may end up buying some e-books or blogging courses (see my favorites here). Before buying, make sure to do your research. Know what questions to ask and what to look for before you spend your hard earned money on any one of the numerous courses and e-books everyone is putting out these days. If you find one you think is worth it, take it. You can learn a lot from these sources and built relationships through many courses.
As you start spending for your blog (and earning), make sure to track every cent. You can write off some of your business expenses and need to track your earnings as well. I made the mistake of not doing this until we went to the CPA. When she told us we could write off the expenses, I sat for an entire weekend going through credit card and bank statements to pull all of the expenses. Now I track it all in a spreadsheet so that it is ready to go when tax season rolls around.
#23: Monetize Your Blog Early, But How Early?
Since you are going to be spending money to start your blog, you will want to start making money as soon as possible. The two most common ways to monetize your blog are through ad networks and affiliate links. It is always a good idea to diversify your income though.
Many ad networks require a certain number of views or sessions per month before you can qualify. Google Ads does not. You can sign up right away (set up an email for your blog first associated with your domain), but there are some things to consider before signing up. Some people say not to use Google Ads and to instead wait until you can quality for one of the better paying ad networks. Google Ads can clutter your blog, but you can also limit how often and where they show up.
I did not do this, and I do not regret it. I signed up after a couple of months because I thought it was my ticket to a profitable blog. The first year and a half, I made a whopping $9 with about 100 500 views a month. Once my blog grew, I hit $10 in January to double my earnings at that point. Now I make quite a bit more, but it still isn’t much. It is better than nothing. They only pay out once you make $100, so it may take a while before you get paid out.
Affiliate links are also common. You can find affiliate links for most products, but that doesn’t mean you should just start stuffing them into your blog posts. I’ve visited blogs that were covered in Amazon affiliate products that did not relate at all to the post. While they may use those products, it can turn you off to the site if they have affiliate products everywhere along with ads.
For affiliate programs, sign up for products you use and believe in but can also naturally work into your posts. For example, I am an affiliate for the presets I use, the blogging services I use (like Convertkit and Keysearch) and for a couple of hotel programs (Agoda and Booking.com). Each of these are services or products I use and love. You do not want to break trust by promoting products that you don’t believe in or that don’t fit with your blog just to make a few bucks. (I do plan to sign up with Amazon in the near future, but I won’t be covering my blog posts in Amazon products!)
With affiliates, don’t expect much at first. Build trust with your community and show that you know what you are talking about with the products and how they work for you. As people trust you, they will use your links to purchase. As your community grows, so will your sales. You may not make much at first, but it does not take much work to put them into a blog post. Then that blog post becomes passive income as it earns you money in the future.
Many successful bloggers don’t just make money from their blog with affiliate links or ad networks. You can also create digital or real products to sell or sell services. As you continue blogging, you learn quite a few skills others are willing to pay you for and can offer things like social media marketing, SEO audits, Pinterest management, ghost writing/copy writing, etc. You can use these skills to earn additional income that still allows you to work for yourself full-time.
You can also create and market your own products. Many bloggers create a course that focuses on an area of expertise or write an e-book to teach others a skill they have mastered. Make sure you can provide actual value for the cost though to have repeat customers and good marketing through word of mouth. If photography is your strength, you can sell presets or prints as well as marketing yourself as a photographer to provide photos to brands or selling your photos to stock image sites.
#24: Be Able to Say No, Especially to Sponsored Posts
As your blog grows, you start getting emails asking for sponsored posts on your blog. Only you can decide what to put on your blog, but keep in mind that many of these are just trying to get a link to a product and some go against Google’s policies. Know early what you want for your blog and for your readers.
One of the first offers I got was for $80 (later increased to $90) for a post about travel insurance that the company would write for me. They wanted do-follow links to several products and pages. I turned it down. All I had to do was post it. However, Google does not allow paid do-follow links. I also do not want posts I did not write on my blog (just a personal choice). Since we don’t use travel insurance (it is included with our credit card), it was not a good fit all the way around.
When working on collaborations with brands, some contracts include a blog post. Make sure that these collaborations fit your blog and your audience. Make sure it is something you can actually write about. Before agreeing, make sure you are free to truly give an honest review. Not every collaboration will go well, and you want to be free to talk about that in your post.
Knowing what you want for your blog and if you want to be the only writer on your blog at the start helps when the offers come in later. It can be tempting when there is money on the table, especially at the start when your blog is not profitable. Don’t sell yourself short just for the money though if it isn’t something you are comfortable with or a product you can support.
Bonus Tip: Have Fun!
The best thing you can do is have fun! While there are some guidelines, there are no hard and fast rules. Pursue your passions and create something you love. That is what makes it worth it when there aren’t any (or many) readers and you aren’t making any (or much) money.
You will learn a lot as you go, so don’t worry about knowing it all right at the start. Take it one day and one thing at a time and enjoy the journey.
What have you learned from starting your own blog or what holds you back from starting one?
For more blogging tips, check out 8 ways to grow your blog quickly, 9 tools I used to grow my blog by over 4000% in less than a year and how to drive more traffic to your blog from Instagram. You can also see if any of these reasons you are not going viral on Pinterest apply to you.
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