When I think about the fact that I’ve been blogging for five years, it reminds me how much my thought process has changed towards blogging. I started as a hobby blogger, as most bloggers do and didn’t see the potential of running a blog for anything other than the joy of writing. There are a number of things I wish I knew before starting a blog, but that’s the joy of hindsight.
Over the 5 years, I’ve had 2 failed blogs that in hindsight, make sense as to why they failed, I was doing everything completely wrong. I decided in 2021 to create The Bloggers Incentive and in the recent months of this blog being live, it’s already more successful than my other two failed attempts.
I am extremely glad those two blogs failed as I have learned so much from the process and found my real passion.
In this post, I have listed 7 things I wish I knew before starting a blog.
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Choose a niche
The first ever blog that I released to the world was called ByAliciaJ, and it has no direction whatsoever.
Before you search for it, I have taken the site down to save myself the embarrassment.
I would write about a number of things such as lifestyle, hair-care, recipes and more. When the reality was that I wasn’t interested in any of it. I just wanted something to write about. I also wrote about personal pieces, for example, if I went to the beach… I would write about it. Exciting stuff I know.
Advice: When you start your blogging journey, choose a profitable niche that you can write about that you are honestly interested in. Blogging is a commitment and it makes it a lot easier if you enjoy what you’re writing out.
Related: How to choose a profitable niche.
Use keyword research for all your posts
When I started my third blog, I had finally found a niche that I enjoyed writing about. This is when Confessions of an Anxious Gal was born. This is when I found out about keyword research. Meaning I had created 2 previous blogs and never used keyword research.
I had taken part in a free webinar for SEO by Mike Pearson and I had never heard of SEO or keyword research before but thought it was time to up my blogging game.
When I say my jaw dropped is an understatement. How had I not heard of this?
Advice: Start using keyword research the moment you create a blog. There are a number of free tools out there such as Google and Moz that make it easy to research keywords and the difficulty for ranking on Google.
Audit your blog from the beginning
When it comes to your site health, this plays a vital part in SEO. If you’re looking to build your bounce rate, you need to make your blog easy to use and quick. I even made this mistake with Confessions of an Anxious Gal and didn’t have a blog audit done until 6 months into my site going live.
I was shocked by the list of things that was wrong with my blog when I thought my site was running correctly.
I knew when I started The Bloggers Incentive that I wanted to audit my blog at least once a month but decided to teach myself how to do it. My site’s health is in very good condition because of this.
Advice: Even if you’re a new blogger, have your site audited. If you don’t have the time to do the audit yourself and the resources, you can pay someone to do it for you. We offer blog audits at The Bloggers Incentive to help bloggers improve their SEO, site speed and branding. We currently have 2 packages available, check them out here.
Related: A full blog audit.
You can start making money from the beginning
With my previous blogs, I never made any real money because I believed that I had to have at least 20,000 views per month to start making an income from my blog. In my five years of blogging, I have made more from The Bloggers Incentive than I ever have with my past blogs.
Although my site is relatively new, I have implemented all the correct strategies and I am able to make an income from my blog, from the beginning.
Advice: Don’t wait for a year to pass before you look into monetizing your blog. There are multiple avenues you can explore when you create a blog. Start applying for affiliate programs and insert links throughout your posts. Also, offer client services and build relationships within your niche.
Create an email opt-in from the beginning
I never understood email marketing or its benefits. Why would I need an email list when I was promoting my blog on social media?
As algorithms changed in 2020, my blog started to drop views like flies, but I wasn’t doing anything different. I then realised I didn’t have an email list to fall back on.
An email list is free to create at the beginning but I still didn’t create one.
I then created a killer email opt-in for The Bloggers Incentive and I now gain email subscribers daily. I now have access to my subscribers no matter the algorithm changes.
Advice: Create an email list from the beginning. There are a number of free platforms out there for the first 1000 subscribers such as:
- Mailerlite (This is the platform that I use)
- Convert Kit
Related: Ways to grow your email list.
Invest in your blog and yourself
When I started blogging, I was using the free version of Wix, I think it was free or it was very cheap, and it was good at the time as I had no experience with WordPress but as you can guess my blog didn’t go anywhere.
I didn’t need it to go anywhere, it wasn’t an expense to me.
When I started The Bloggers Incentive, I knew I wanted to monetize the blog and to fuel the fire, I invested in myself. I used a self-hosting platform, I used a paid theme and purchased different courses to educate myself.
Advice: Invest in yourself and your blog. Although free options are great, you need to believe that you are going to make a return from your blog. If you are not going to spend any money until you make money, you’re going to be waiting a while.
I’m not saying you have to spend £500 on a course, but start out small. E-Books are a great start and are more affordable than courses.
Related: How to start a blog from scratch.
Work on SEO
When I created my first two blogs, I never knew what SEO was. I didn’t realise it was possible to rank on Google. I thought that was just for big sites like Facebook and Pinterest. By the time I found out what SEO was, my sites were of no interest to me. I didn’t have that passion to fix them.
To give you an example, I ran my Confessions of an Anxious Gal full-time for 6 months, I was putting in a lot of work, but just the wrong work, my DA remained at 1 even after those 6 months. I was putting in the work but why wasn’t my site moving?
I then learned how to use SEO correctly.
The Bloggers Incentive has been live for less than 2 months old and is now a DA of 4. It’s about working smarter, not harder.
Advice: Start working on your DA score from the beginning as it will pay off. Working on your SEO will help you rank on Google quicker and allow your site passive traffic, which is the dream for bloggers. Putting in that effort from the beginning is going to make the rest of the journey a whole lot easier.
Related: What is a DA score for blogging?
Things I wish I knew before starting a blog
Although I’ve been in the blogging game for 5 years, I’m still learning as it is constantly changing. Although it can be overwhelming when you’re creating a blog with the amount of information you have to learn about, the sooner you learn about the above 7 things, the easier it will be to have your site in a healthy condition.
If you have a failed blog, do not let this dishearten you. It’s all about learning from what went wrong. It’s important that you don’t make the same mistake.
Was it the niche selection?
Was it the platform you used to create your blog?
Be specific and learn from your mistakes as you can only get better.
What are some things you wish you knew before starting a blog?
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