There’s a reason people always say “hindsight is 20/20.” It’s much easier, when you have more experience, to look back and see what you could have done differently or better. Blogging is no different. Every seasoned blogger, now that they have more experience and education, has a laundry list of things they wish they would have known and done differently when they started blogging.
Here’s our list of 12 things new bloggers need to understand and learn about getting started blogging and building a successful blog:
1. It Doesn’t Have To Be Perfect
When you first start blogging, your blog posts aren’t going to be amazing. In fact, they might even stink. You’re not going to be doing your best work when you’re brand new to blogging and that’s okay because it’s the same for everyone who starts blogging. The more you blog, the better your blog posts will become because over time you’ll discover your voice, find your groove, and get more comfortable sharing your thoughts, stories, and experiences.
Likewise, once you’ve been blogging for a while, it’s easy to fall into perfection paralysis, thinking every blog post needs to be a creation of epic proportion, but that’s just not true. Don’t let your need for perfection stop you from hitting publish.
2. You Don’t Have To Be A Writer
If you want to start a blog, but you don’t think you’re a writer, do it anyway! Few bloggers ever begin as writers. They begin because they are passionate about a topic and want to share their thoughts and ideas with others. You already write emails, notes, reports, lists, and maybe even journal entries. If you can do that, you can blog.
Also, don’t let a dislike for writing hold you back from blogging! You don’t have to be a writer to publish blog posts and create good blog content. Instead, you can publish video posts and audio posts and use a transcription company like Rev.com to transcribe your words for better SEO.
3. Start Building Your Marketing List Now
Don’t wait to begin building your email list for marketing list and don’t rely completely on social media to build your following either. The money—your future money—is in your email list and it’s critical that you own it completely.
If you’re waiting to begin building your list until the perfect lead magnet is ready, your new headshots are done, or you buy webinar software, stop! Stick a basic email opt-in on your blog with a call to action to subscribe with to your newsletter and just get started. Trust us, you’re never going to look back and think, “Wow, I’m glad I didn’t start building my list any earlier!”
4. Marketing Is Just As (Or More) Important As Publishing
While it is important to focus your time and effort on creating new blog content and publishing quality content regularly, you can’t just focus on content creation. Just because you publish a blog post doesn’t mean anyone will see it or come to your website. That’s why marketing your blog and driving traffic to your blog is just as important as publishing new posts.
5. Search Engine Optimization Matters
Every single piece of content published on your blog needs to be optimized for search engines and people, and luckily they both want the same thing. Don’t forget to add a unique, descriptive, keyword-rich HTML title and meta description to every blog post and page on your website. Links, images, and content also provide additional opportunities for optimization and every little bit helps.
6. Always Include A Call To Action
Be sure to include a call to action in every blog post, even if it is a simple invitation to subscribe to your blog and get all new posts delivered right to their inbox. Get your readers used to see calls to action in your posts so when you have something to sell later, the calls to action feel normal, natural, and on-brand.
7. You’re Going To Need To Spend Some Money
While there are lots of ways to start a blog for free, it’s best to understand that at some point you’re going to need to spend money. Whether it’s purchasing a premium theme, hiring a professional designer or developer, buying a premium plugin, or investing in quality hosting, if you want to take your blog to the next level by making money with your blog, you’re going to need to invest in quality tools and resources.
8. You Need To Like What You’re Blogging About
Please don’t start a blog just to make money or because you think the topic is a moneymaker. When you start a blog on a topic you’re not passionate about, you’re going to find that consistently creating new content and dedicating the time needed to grow the blog isn’t enjoyable. Over time, you’ll find that you dedicate less and less time to it until eventually the blog gets abandoned.
Instead, make sure you’re interested in and passionate about the topic you’ll be blogging about. When you enjoy what you’re writing about, you’re more likely to write and publish more often, your marketing will be better and more consistent, and you’ll see better results.
9. You’re Not Going To Please Everyone
You’re not blogging for everyone and that’s okay. Your blog isn’t going to be read, shared, or liked by everyone, because your voice, your perspective, your writing style, and your topic isn’t going to be for everyone.
Focus on those who resonate with your message and support you. Those people are your tribe and those people are why you’re going to keep blogging.
Also, when someone you know doesn’t follow, subscribe, or like your blog, don’t let it hurt your feelings. There are many reasons they may not subscribe to or follow your blog and it doesn’t mean they don’t love, support, or care about you.
10. Setup Google Analytics Right Away
From the first moment you set up your blog, before you even publish the first blog post, make sure you have Google Analytics installed so you can begin collecting data about how your blog is performing. Google Analytics lets you see where your traffic is coming from, what pages and posts on your site are the most popular, where your readers are located, and more. Analytics won’t be of much help at first, but over time it will give you amazingly powerful insights into how your website is being used and how you can improve it.
11. Choose The Right Blog Platform
There are numerous Content Management Systems (CMS) platforms available to start a new blog. At Liquid Web, we’re partial to WordPress. From the design to the content and the functionality, WordPress allows you to control every aspect of your website or blog. WordPress plugins allow you to add almost any feature you can dream up.
12. Never Compromise On Hosting
The only feeling worse than waking up to the “white screen of death” (receiving a message that your website is down) or finding out your website has been hacked is also realizing that your site hasn’t been backed up in months and you’ve lost all of the content you worked so hard to created. Make sure your hosting provider is performing daily backups offsite.