Starting a blog can be exciting and there is so much possibility to what it can do for your life. There are things I wish I knew before I started blogging that would have made this journey a lot simpler and would have saved me so much time.
Post may contain affiliate links.
You do not have to be tech savvy to be a blogger, I certainly am not. You can even start a blog for only $3.95 a month.
One of the ways I learned how to really make income from my blog was by taking the Elite Blog Academy course. I can’t recommend it enough. They will be open again for registration in February 2017 for EBA 3.0 so you can start saving up if you are interested in the course.
Ruth Soukup, the creator of EBA, actually has some free training videos that she is offering from EBA 2.0. You can sign up for that free training to get some great tips.
A lot of the things I have learned have been from my own trial and error, experimentation, and learning from other bloggers. Which leads me to my first tip:
Don’t Look at Other Bloggers as Competition
One of the worst things I did when I first started out was to compare myself to other bloggers. I would get discouraged when I would see someone with more page views and making a lot more money than I was. I didn’t stop to consider that they had been blogging a lot longer.
I love learning from other bloggers and many of them are more than willing to help other bloggers out. Bloggers that have been doing this for a while know what works and what doesn’t. They have even started blogs or written books about this so that they can help other bloggers learn from their mistakes.
Working from home can be very isolating at times and that is why I joined some really good blogging Facebook groups and go to conferences so that I can connect and network with others that are in the same situation that I am in.
It’s so much fun to talk shop and have someone really understand the struggles that bloggers have. Don’t look at them as competition but as colleagues.
Set Up your Own Domain from the Start
I know that when a lot of people start out blogging, they opt for a free site like Blogger or wordpress.com. If you are wanting to make money from your blog, I highly recommend setting up your own domain (url) and paying for a really good hosting company.
It really is worth the cost, I personally use SiteGround for my hosting services and I can’t say enough good things about them. The customer service is incredible! I switched from a very well known hosting company last year and it was the best choice I made.
My site is never down and if I have a problem, I can do a live chat with SiteGround and the longest I have had to wait was 30 seconds, compared to 30 minutes with the other hosting guys! Plus, when I broke my site they were able to get it back up and running in 5 minutes. That is incredible when you are panicking that you have lost your blog forever!!
You can purchase both your domain and hosting services with them. I use the $14.95/month plan (the highest) but they have plans that start at only $3.95/month that is perfect for those just starting out! They even offer a 30 day free trial so you can see how great they are for yourself.
Having your own domain and hosting makes you look more professional and brands will want to work with you more. Save yourself the headache of moving your site over from a free blog and just start out with a self hosted one. I did this and I have never regretted it.
Use Social Media Schedulers
I cannot stress enough how important social media is for bloggers. It is where most of your traffic will come from. You could spend all day on social media but then when would you write your blog posts?
If you are just starting out, I recommend focusing on two social media channels to begin with. Once you get the hang of those, you can start adding more. You don’t want to get burned out too quickly.
I use three different social media schedulers to help me have more time in my day while also being able to get my blog posts seen on social media.
For Pinterest, I use Boardbooster. It is AMAZING! It is only a penny per pin and I think you still get the first 500 pins free. I started out with the $5/month plan but I am now up to the $15/month plan and it is worth every single cent! My traffic has doubled since I started using it and I recommend it to any blogger.
For Twitter, I use Hootsuite. I can schedule all of my tweets for the entire week in an hour or less. They have a free option and a Pro option. You can get a free 30 day trial of the Pro option and it includes things like: analytics, performance reports, and managing Facebook, LinkedIn, and Google+ pages.
For Facebook, I use PostPlanner. It is only $7/month and saves me so much time! It pulls all of the popular articles, images, and memes from Facebook into one place so that you can pick things that will interest your followers. I don’t have to spend hours looking around on Facebook for things to post, it is all right there for me.
You can then use PostPlanner to schedule your Facebook and Twitter posts. I was thinking about hiring a VA to handle my Facebook page but this is a lot cheaper and it only takes me an hour to set it up for the entire week.
Use Amazing Images
If you want to get people’s attention and get them to click over to your site, you have to have amazing images. This is especially true for Pinterest.
I would spend hours searching for great images to use in my blog posts on the free photography sites because I didn’t think I could afford to purchase a membership to a photo site.
I then heard about StockUnlimited. This changed my world! They have thousands of stock photos, clip art, icons, etc. I was able to score an amazing deal when they were having a sale and I am so glad I did.
Some sites will charge you $10 or more per photo! Considering I post 4 times a week, I did not have that in my budget! StockUnlimited has 3 membership options: $9/month, $69/year, or $89 for lifetime membership! With each plan you can download as many photos as you want and they add new ones each day.
I have the lifetime membership and you can’t beat that price, I have looked around for better deals and this was the best.
Take at least One New Course a Year
I am not a tech savvy person and I didn’t go to college for blogging, I have my degree in Biology. Blogging was something that I fell into and I haven’t looked back. I love learning about blogging and new ways I can use it to make more income.
I suggest that every blogger take one blogging course a year. Yes, they can be expensive but read the reviews and ask other bloggers if they have taken them and if they thought it was worth it.
There are several that I have taken and I highly recommend. They really turned my blog around and I made back my money again and again. My favorite ones were:
- Elite Blog Academy (my first blog course purchase)
- Making Sense of Affiliate Marketing
- BC Stack (this was a bundle that had about 50 books and courses for only $27! It is only available once a year, I will update when it is available again).
I love learning and most courses are a lot cheaper then a college class. You have to stay up to date if you work in an industry like blogging that is constantly evolving.
Start Your Email List ASAP
I have never heard any blogger say, ” I wish I waited to start my email list.” I just started mine last year and I have been blogging for 3 years! I still kick myself that I didn’t start sooner.
With social media constantly changing, your email list is the only thing you have control over. You know that your emails will be sent out to all your subscribers, not just some like on social media.
You can use your email list to have deeper trust and relationships with your readers and you can use it to grow your blog and your income.
I personally use the free plan on Mailchimp until I get my list over 2,000. I have been hearing a lot of great things about ConvertKit from some of my blogging friends. Once I reach 2,000 subscribers, I think I will start using them. They seem to be really user friendly and people rave about their customer service.
Focus on Affiliate Marketing
This is another area I wish I put more focus into when I started out. I was focused more on getting sponsored posts and working with brands, which is great, but it is a one time only payment.
I have been focusing more on affiliate marketing and I am seeing a big bump in my income. I actually just took a course, Making Sense of Affiliate Marketing, and I learned so much.
It is a course by Michelle Schroeder-Gardner and she is making $50,000 per MONTH just from affiliate income on her blog, Making Sense of Cents. I took the course a couple of weeks ago and I have already made $200 in affiliate income when I was making about $30.
That was just in two weeks! I haven’t even implemented everything that I have learned yet. Don’t be like me and wait to get started on affiliate marketing, you will be losing out on so much earning potential. Not to mention you will have to go back through all of your old posts to see how you can monetize them.
Take the affiliate course and save yourself the time and do it right the first time. I’ve already made my money back that I spent on the course.
Some of the top affiliate networks to go ahead and sign up with are:
Invest in a Mobile Friendly Theme
If you want to stay in Google’s good graces, make sure your blog theme is mobile friendly. Most people will visit your blog from their phones and tablets now. I purchased the Genesis Framework and used one of the themes from StudioPress. Most of the ones you can buy from StudioPress are mobile friendly.
If you can’t afford to have your theme custom made, which can cost hundreds if not thousands of dollars, then you will want to buy the Genesis Framework. It is a one time purchase of $59.95 and then you can purchase any of the thousands of themes that go along with it. Most of the free themes that you find online are not mobile friendly so this is an investment you will want to make.
I have the Lifestyle Pro theme and I think it was around $30 when I bought it. You can customize any of the StudioPress themes to make it your own. You can change the colors, fonts, headers, etc. to really make it your own.
Tip: Download the Google Web Inspector tool for your browser. This allows you to easily make changes to your theme. There are so many tutorials on YouTube showing how to use it so I won’t get into that here, but it is free and was easy for a non-tech person like me to use.
Don’t Use Giveaways to Gain Followers
This was something I learned the hard way. If you are going to run a giveaway, and your site isn’t strictly about giveaways, don’t ask people to follow you on social media to gain an entry.
What happens is you get people who only follow you on social media so they can get an entry into your giveaway, not because they care about what you have to say. This goes for asking them to sign up for your email list as well.
You may get 500 new followers from that giveaway but most of them will unfollow or unsubscribe after the giveaway is over. This can be depressing seeing your numbers drop like that.
Not to mention certain platforms, like Facebook, only show your posts to a certain number of people that follow you. Make sure they actually want to hear what you have to say, otherwise they may as well not even be there.
Always Keep Learning
This goes hand in hand with taking courses but there are less expensive ways you can keep learning about blogging. I recommend joining some blogging Facebook groups and just reading the questions that people post everyday. You will be amazed at things you may never have even thought of just by doing this one little thing.
I also love reading eBooks that other bloggers have written sharing their tips and tricks. Some of my personal favorites are:
- Blogging on the Side by Becky Mansfield and Paula Rollo (love them!)
- How I Went From 17K to 350K+ Monthly Page Views in 9 Months by Lena Gott
- How to Blog for Profit: Without Selling your Soul by Ruth Soukup
Another thing I like to do is to watch videos that help me become more confident on the technical side of things as well as learning how to use social media more effectively. I have been watching all of the amazing videos that are available on SkillShare.
SkillShare offers everything from photography tips, Instagram hacks, how to use Canva, blog marketing, CSS coding, and so much more. They have some videos that are free but you can get your first month of unlimited videos for free!
Don’t Let Others Bring You Down
When your blog starts to grow, it will bring out the trolls. The people who leave mean and rude comments on your blog posts or social media sites just because they want to . I never really understand why people do this but it just comes with the territory.
You have to learn to ignore them and just realize that you are doing what is right for you. If someone doesn’t like it, they don’t have to read it. Don’t let them bring you down for trying to do something that they may be afraid to do. If a comment is mean and nasty, just delete it or mark it as spam and forget about it.
Starting a blog has had a huge impact on my life. I am able to stay at home with my daughter and spend as much time with her as I can. It isn’t easy working from home but it is so worth the late nights and early mornings.
I am able to do something that I love while supporting my family. I believe everyone should be doing what makes them happy it just takes some sacrifices and a lot of hard work to get there.
I hope that by writing this post it will help those of you that are just starting out. Learn from my mistakes and what I wish I had known before I started blogging.