Starting a blog can be overwhelming, especially when you’re going it alone. At that point, you don’t know what you don’t know, so learning relevant strategy, technique, and tech, can feel like looking for a needle in a haystack.
You want to start a blog that more than just your mom reads. You want it to be user friendly. And of course you want to drive traffic to your site quickly and early on. You want to be able to monetize it so you can create a passive income. And you want to use it to sell your goods or services.
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SHOP MY FAVORITE BLOGGING ESSENTIALS
There are so many reasons for having a blog. But the biggest advantage? You actually own and control your blog and website and can use it to develop the know/like/trust factor with your audience and potential clients or customers. This is a main reason we see LARGE companies like The Home Depot and Redfin turning to blogging – it increases their ROI and their leads. WIN!
So what are some big things you should know BEFORE starting a blog? Keep reading because I’m sharing the 8 things I wish I would have known before getting started!
Have at least 10 posts written BEFORE you launch.
At least 5 should be published, but honestly the more the better. But you also want a few posts sitting in drafts so you don’t celebrate your blog launch only to realize you have to sit down and immediately write more content.
Similarly, you do not want to launch your blog with only ONE post that’s live. That’s a really easy way to excite your first visitors about your new site and have them never come back. Because who wants to land somewhere that has one measly post? Not me!
Did I also 100% do this when launching my blog? Yes I did! I had ONE post about DIY shiplap, and that’s it. I had no drafts ready to go. And as exciting as launching was, I was immediately overwhelmed again, which is not fun.
So hold off on that launch date just a bit so you can get yourself set up for several weeks post launch. You’ll have 4 or 5 posts waiting in your drafts that you can push out on your content schedule, whatever that may be. Which leads me to my next point….
Create a consistent content schedule.
There is no exact science to this. Later on you can take cues from your audience, but since you won’t have an audience built up yet, push out content only as often as you can manage to start. But do it CONSISTENTLY.
Don’t just sporadically post when you feel like it. Decide up front if you have the bandwidth to produce one post a month, two posts a month, or a post every week. Whatever you decide, stick too it.
Not sure what you can manage yet? No worries! Err on the side of posting LESS. Audiences are always open to getting slightly more content than they are to you posting a ton at first and then massively scaling back to just one post a month.
That said, one post a month is the absolute minimum I would recommend. Because really… if you aren’t posting at least that often, is starting a blog really right for you?
You NEED to have the following: About Me, Privacy/Disclosures, Terms & Conditions, Relevant Disclaimers, Cookies Notice, SSL Certificate.
These are all non-negotiables. Your About Me Page is the MOST visited page on your website. Make it count! You also need to ensure you CYA (cover your ass!) on the legal side with your Privacy/Disclosure page, Terms & Conditions of Use of your site, and any relevant disclaimers.
Here’s a great example of a disclaimer: I am not your lawyer and none of the above should be construed as legal advice. You should always do your OWN research and consult a qualified attorney if you choose when it comes to legally protecting your website and your business!
(See how easy that was!)
You also need a cookies notice, which can easily be installed via a plugin (just search “cookies notice”). Many are even GDPR and CCPA compliant (fancy acronyms for privacy/information laws in Europe and California, who of course have their own special rules!)
Also be sure that as SOON as you set up your site, you enable your SSL certificate. These means your website is secure, and your users can be sure it’s a safe site to browse. Your host should have instructions on how to get your SSL set up, and you can easily tell if it is because your site will read “https://” instead of just “http://”
Speaking of a host…
Make sure you are investing in a self-hosted wordpress.org blog, rather than platforms like squarespace.
Why? The short answer is – you have a LOT more control as a designer and a consumer by going this route. If a more nitty gritty analysis is something you’re interested in, let me know in the comments below and I’ll add a deep dive into the two platforms to my upcoming content list!
As for your host – there are SO many options out there. Do your own research. This article has a good analysis of some pros and cons of various hosts. I personally use SiteGround, and they have overall been so great! The customer service has been stellar, and I honestly can’t recommend them enough. But, as you can see in that article, SiteGround didn’t even make the list. So spend some time and read about different options, and if you are trying to add things like woocommerce or some kind of small shop situation to your site, be sure to look into what host might be best for that kind of service, etc.
And then – make a CALL. Don’t overanalyze, just make sure you are well informed. You can always switch hosts at a later date!
Niching down is IMPORTANT when starting a blog.
You can read more about why and how I recommend niching down HERE. But bottom line – Google LOVES niche sites. It regards you as an expert in your field much more quickly than say, a general “lifestyle” blog.
One of my students specializes in gingerbread. Yup – talk about a KILLER niched down site! Or maybe you specialize in embroidery techniques? Or something else entirely. But as for Google SEO (that’s search engine optimization), the more niched down you are, the more Google will regard you in high esteem!
Utilize Pinterest and start keyword research early
Did I mention SEO? Yea… it’s IMPORTANT. You can use the Yoast plugin to help optimize your blog posts for Google using SEO, but you should also be doing keyword research early on in your blogging journey.
What does that mean? Well, think about what you type into google when you search for something. That’s your keyword (a keyword can be a string of words together too). Use free keyword research tools to start, like Spyfu, to research things like search volume and competitiveness of a certain keyword. The higher the search volume, the more likely that keyword will be competitive and harder to rank for. BUT, if you can create content that is more up to date, more relevant, or higher quality than some of your competitors using that keyword, you might be able to outrank them in the long run.
Keyword research should also be used to inform your FUTURE blog posts. Write about with you know and love, yes, but remember you are primarily writing for your audience AND for Google, so you can ultimately get more eyeballs on your amazing content! Your blog is about your AUDIENCE, not you. If you remember that, you’ll see more visitors to your site!
All this said, keep in mind that SEO takes 12-18 months to optimize – a WHILE. So do not expect to start ranking on the first or second page of Google immediately. SEO is the long game, so start on it early!
And while you’re waiting for SEO to optimize? Post on Pinterest! Pinterest is a SEARCH ENGINE, not a social media platform. When starting a blog, Pinterest is a HUGE driver of traffic. So pin images from your blog to relevant boards on Pinterest. Also be sure to create “fresh” pins (I create them in Canva with some text overlay so people know what they’re looking at) as well and upload those to Pinterest with links back to your blog!
People connect with PEOPLE – so be yourself.
The easiest thing to do when starting a blog is to start copying everyone else. Especially when you feel like you’re in the darkin the world of blogging, it’s really easy to just emulate someone you see as “successful.”
Don’t do it! Listen… is your blog going to be perfect right out of the gate? Probably NOT. But people connect with PEOPLE. Not necessarily with perfect grammar, spelling, or photography. Long term, yes… those things are important, too. But let your personality shine through your site and your writing. Because again, people connect with PEOPLE. Determine who it is you are writing for (your ideal audience avatar), and then speak to them through your words, using you life lessons and experiences to your advantage.
A blog is not a cover letter or a professional resume for some big corporate job. More than likely, its your way of meeting people where they are at, connecting with them, inspiring them, and maybe, just maybe, turning them into customers or clients!
So don’t emulate others, be you. Because that is the BEST way to connect with potential clients. Your potential clients are SMART, and they will see through your BS if you are just trying to copy someone else – so don’t do it!
SHOP MY FAVORITE BLOGGING ESSENTIALS!
Google University is only so helpful – mentors are INVALUABLE.
Remember when we talked about searing for that needle in a haystack as a new blogger. You don’t know what you don’t know, and there is so much conflicting information on Google that it all becomes very overwhelming. Sometimes to the point that it is crippling and you give up.
That was me. Starting a blog was overwhelming and frustrating for me, to say the least… My blog sat on the internet, unpublished, for 8 months, because I felt so crippled by information overload. I was new in the creator world and I didn’t really know of anyone to turn to for help. At that point, I didn’t even know there were courses available to learn about blogging.
And, as you know, after that 8 months when I finally did launch, I had one measly post up… BAD LOOK.
All this to say, I don’t want you to give up! Mentors are invaluable! Whether its for blogging or for some other area of your business, seek out people who have come before you to help make your journey a bit easier.
I know I wish I would have had some help! Which is why I created my blogging course for aspiring bloggers who don’t know where to start, and current bloggers who just aren’t seeing success with their blogs as is.
We talk tech strategy, content strategy, growth strategy, monetization strategy…. everything you need to start a money making blog!
If this sounds like your next step, I’d love for you to join us inside my premier blogging course, OWN Your Influence!
Not ready to join the full course? No worries (I love the natural skeptics… it means you really WANT this to work!) I have a FREE workshop designed just for you, where we talk about growing and scaling your online business with blogging WITHOUT working harder or longer hours!
Click here to reserve your seat for the workshop now! It’s a goodie! (And if you can’t make your selected time for whatever reason – no problem! A replay will get sent straight to your email!)
Whether I see you in the course of the workshop or out there in the blogosphere, I hope these 8 lessons I learned myself when starting a blog were helpful for you too, friend!
No get out there and start writing!
P.S. Starting a blog of your own! Let me know in the comments below – I’d love to check it out!