Blogging has changed a lot since I first started. I’ve watched it evolve from a hobby to a potential business. I blogged before Pinterest and even before Twitter. There’s been a lot to learn along the way, and as more and more people decide to try their hand (or keyboard) at blogging, I thought it could be helpful to share a few things I wish I knew from the start.
1. Grab your social media accounts – stat!
Once you decide on your blog name, you want to grab every social media account you can with your brand name. Facebook, Pinterest, Twitter, YouTube, etc – you want them all to be branded with your name. Not only will you be using these accounts, but it will also help brand your blog and maintain consistency across all networks.
2. Install stat tracking.
Numbers are a “basic” gauge of traffic and interest and they are commonly requested when working with a PR firm. At a minimum, install Google Analytics. I also recommend installing at least one other stat tracking platform, such as StatCounter or Get Clicky.
3. At the same time, it’s not all about numbers.
Very early on I found myself getting caught up in the numbers game. How much traffic, how many followers, how many tweets, etc. While this is commonly requested information, several PR companies state that it isn’t ALL about the numbers. They’re also interested in engagement and interaction on your blog. Which means if you have 100 very active readers, they may value that more than 1000 inactive readers. If you’re spending more time looking at stats than writing unique content, you’re doing it wrong.
4. Invest in your site. (Or at a minimum, purchase your own domain name.)
Blogger is a great way to start off your blog for free, but I found it to be rather limiting both in terms of advertising and layout flexibility. Typically, websites that have their own domain name (meaning no .blogspot.com or no .wordpress.com) are favored, although there are always exceptions to that rule.
Usually, you’ll hear bloggers want to transfer from Blogger to WordPress. There’s a reason you never hear someone want to transfer from WordPress to Blogger. Having a WordPress based site requires you have a hosting plan and your own domain name. The WordPress platform itself is free. You can read more about why you should have a domain name and hosting on the Creative Patience blog.
Start on a platform that can grow as your blog grows to save the time (and potentially expense) it would require to switch.
5. Free is OK, but paid is better.
While I was starting out, I understandably posted things for free. I wish I had known to start charging and negotiating much sooner than I did. It’s never too early to determine your posting policy as well as to figure out what is worth your time and what isn’t. I wrote a lengthy post on paid vs. free blog content posts that discusses this topic further.
Along the same lines, getting products to review and test is fun. Very fun. But if we’re being honest, you can’t pay the bills with free product while the work that you’re putting in towards writing that review will be significant – testing, photographing, and reviewing.
Other Blogger Tips:
6. You can find help!
When I first started I felt completely alone. It wasn’t until I stumbled upon a FB group of other bloggers did I realize there was an entire “underground railroad” of bloggers all over the country willing to assist me in my journey. That helped me learn more and really get going down my blogging path. – Staci, 7 on a Shoestring
7. Be Yourself.
At first I felt like I was trying to write a specific way that just didn’t work with me. It wasn’t until letting myself write just as I would speak naturally that I saw people respond to me. Being yourself brings you together with your readers and other bloggers. – Ashleigh, Living Off Love and Coffee
8. There are a lot of components that go into blogging.
It’s so much more than writing content, reviews and conducting giveaways. There was so much to learn and still is – maybe I’m glad I didn’t actually know because I may never have embarked on this journey. Even though it can be a lot of work, I love blogging! – Rita, Mom with a dot com
9. Quality vs. Quantity.
Building my numbers organically is more important than just getting numbers. I spent a lot of time participating in hops where the only comments was I’ll follow you if you follow me and it meant that people weren’t really reading my content, just adding themselves to my numbers. Now my followers join because they want to, not because I’ll do something for them. – Heather, Acting Balanced
If you’re considering starting a blog, I hope that some of these tips will help you get started on the right foot. One of the best things about blogging is that we are a large community – a large community of very helpful people. If you have a question, odds are someone has asked it before and you can probably get an answer. I encourage you to reach out to other bloggers if you need help or have a question; at the same time, please be respectful of their time and their business.
Is there something you wish you’d known before you started blogging?