So here’s the deal. This blogging thing, it isn’t easy and most of the time, for the majority of us, it’s not all that glamorous. It truly is a labor of love. Don’t get me wrong, it is fun; there are some awesome perks, cool swag, and some money to be made if that’s your goal, but it takes work and a lot of it.
Now that I’ve been at this for a little while now, I’ve learned some things so thought I’d share some of that insider info. with those of you who are just starting out or thinking about jumping into the blogging arena.
1. For the love of God, don’t pick a URL with a hyphen in it (Ex: Horseshoes-N-HandGrenades.com)…hind sight is 20/20. I love my site, and I have no plans to change my URL now that it’s established, but if I ever start another site, it will not include a hyphen in the URL. Why does this matter you ask? It looks cute and it’s kind of eye catching you say? True, but try spelling it out to someone when they ask, maybe in person, maybe over the phone — you can’t just say oh yeah I blog at “horseshoes and hand grenades dot com”…because that would be a lie…you blog at “horseshoes all one word hyphen letter”N” hyphen handgrenades all one word dot com” –yeah…didn’t think that one through. It’s easier just to mail them a business care or email your links later.
2. Do not think of other bloggers as your competition. The world wide web is a big place and there’s room for all of us and your success is not dependent on the failure of another blogger – it’s dependent on the effort you put into your site and how much you believe in yourself. In fact, if you view your peers as competition, you’re basically burning bridges without even realizing it and trust me, you want these ladies and gentlemen on your side. They are experienced, creative, and most of the time quite helpful and a plethora of information which is exactly what a beginning blogger needs.
3. Similar to #2, Heather Wilson from http://lifeofatravelingnavywife.com has some great advice with “do not compare yourself to others. You will see blogs with horrible layouts and grammar – and they get hundreds of thousands of views a month. Focus on YOU. Don’t compromise yourself for sponsored posts and just do it. Don’t spend too much time doubting yourself. Go for it. I was terrified to hit publish on a post and it went viral! You never know what will happen, so go for it!! ”
4. Just because you find a photo in Google images, doesn’t mean it’s okay to use as your own. Just don’t do it. Your own photos are always best, but if you don’t have your own or can’t take your own, there are tons of $1 stock photo sites out there where you can legitimately purchase photos to use. Just pulling a random image off the internet is asking for trouble so unless you know how and where to research the rights attached to a specific photo, just don’t do it. Using photos from other blogs without giving proper credit is also a big no-no…even if you plan on giving credit and linking back to the original blog, it’s always best to just ask permission first. Most of us are really nice and love getting links back to our sites so it’s not usually a big deal but when we see our stuff out there basically being stolen with no permissive use or proper credit given, we tend to gang up and go gangsta on the thief…not a good day so just don’t put yourself in that position.
5. Self-Hosted on Your Own Domain from Day 1 – seriously, I know that some people love the free platforms like blogger and wordpress.com to start because well….free. I get it, and that’s fine if you’re 100% certain that you never want to monetize your blog. If you think you do, ever, then buy your domain and start self-hosted from the beginning. There are several host out there like A Small Orange, that can get you started on a very minimal budget. If you monetize, this will more than pay off in the long run and save you a lot of headache later on when you inevitably end up transferring to self-hosted.
6. What is Your Blog About? – Erin Sluka from www.healthyparenting.com advises that it’s wise to “decide your niche before you start writing and make sure your homepage/header image clearly tells readers what your blog is about”. It’s important for people to know what they’re going to read about when they go to your page, especially in the beginning. If they can’t tell what the site is about in the first 5-10 seconds, they’re not going to stick around and they’re not going to come back again.
7. Elle Burton says “Really think about your blog name. When we started out it was fun and never occurred to me that I’d be going to conferences introducing myself with my blog name. I do have to say it’s different and memorable but slightly embarrassing –http://bluemonkeybutt.com.”
8. Possibly the most important, yet the most difficult to remember, as Erica Schwarz from http://ericasrecipes.com says “be patient. Building a blog following takes time.” This is so true and one of the most difficult things for me to keep sight of especially in the beginning. You want to be just like the big kids but the big kids, didn’t start out where they are now so when you feel defeated and frustrated, and you will, just take some time, remember why you started blogging and what you wanted to accomplish – take a look at how far you’ve come and revise your plan to get where you want to go. With patience and hard work it will all fall into place.
9. Don’t try to do more than you can. There are only so many hours in a day so set a schedule that’s attainable instead of setting yourself up for failure from the beginning. When I first started I thought I was going to be a rock star from day one, and while I am pretty awesome, I thought I was going to post every single day seven days a week no problem. Wrong!! I have a full time job outside the home, kids, a husband, and animals so trying to meet the ridiculous goal I set for myself resulted in me getting burned out and feeling defeated before I even got started. I decides three times a week was what I could do and nobody thinks I don’t work as hard as someone who posts 5 or 10 times a week because that’s what works for me and my blog. You find what works for yours.
10. Have fun!! Yes it’s work, but blogging is not like other types of work. Maybe it generates an income and maybe it is your business, but the cool part about YOUR blog is that YOU make it what you want it to be. YOU make it about something that you’re passionate about and YOU write what YOU feel. There aren’t a lot of other jobs our there where that’s true so since you’re calling the shots, make sure you’re having fun doing it so you never wake up dreading to go to work.
Are you thinking about starting a blog or relatively new? What has been the hardest part for you? If you’re a veteran blogger, what advice would you give someone just starting out? Let me know in the comments below and thanks for reading!
This post contains affiliate links. All opinions are 100% my own.