In a previous post, I shared on how you can start a blog using WordPress, and as someone who has been blogging for over 3 years, I wanted to share with you a bit more about grit and hard-won lessons of running a successful blog.
When I started blogging, I didn't take a class or any training on blogging OR on how to start an online business. I created a website to offer shamanic healing services and started writing blog posts almost as a side-hustle to my growing business as a healer.
Soon enough, though, blogging began to take center stage and now, this blog, and all the ways in which my business has expanded through it, has become my full-time job.
The lessons I share here are just some of many (probably hundreds) of lessons I've learned, and I share them with the disclaimer that this is a spiritual and intuitive blog. BUT, the lessons can apply to all blogs!
6 Lessons in Starting a Blog
1. Monetize from Day One
Blogging is hard work. The amount of work really cannot be captured or accurately conveyed before you start. A blogger could never sleep again and still not get everything done. And, when you're growing your blog, you'll want to blog often to increase your visibility and keep people engaged and coming back.
One of the biggest things I regret is judging monetization as being bad or meaning you weren't helping for the sake of helping. I took a self-righteous, purist approach and declared that I wasn't monetizing because it "wasn't about the money." So, what ended up happening was that I was slaving away for free - with nothing coming in. I was working for less than pennies per hour, over 80 hours a week. I burned out more than once, started to resent my readers, and vowed to quit blogging forever.
Then, I had a change of heart and quickly took to learning about how to monetize a blog and implementing those techniques. I created eProducts, joined affiliate programs, and added ads to my blog. THOSE steps I took to monetize are what allow my blog and website to support my family of four.
MONETIZE, MONETIZE, MONETIZE. There's nothing wrong with earning money for the work you do - that's what a job is. And blogging IS a job.
2. Be Careful of Free and Low Prices
Once you do monetize through services, products, or whatever else, be careful about giving too much for free or setting your prices too low. I did this too because I wanted to make things affordable to everyone. But, what happened instead, was that I was still slaving away and barely making ends meet. It was better than earning nothing, but I was struggling. When you work yourself to the bone to give and give and give on your blog, website, or wherever else, and you're still not making ends meet, you can get resentful and want to quit. Don't do this to yourself!!
It can be hard to charge more. Most people, you included, are inclined to want to please others over themselves. Charging nothing or offering our gifts for low prices are just another way to please others and choose their well being over your own.
Use discretion in how much you give for free and carefully evaluate your prices and how they serve you FIRST, before considering how the prices serve others.
3. Get Serious About Pinterest
Take this seriously! Pinterest is not something to ignore and do later when you have more time. Using Pinterest to my advantage has exploded my blog traffic and as a result, most people who find this website, at this time, find it on Pinterest. There's a large chance you even found this article on Pinterest! Pinterest is my #1 source of traffic, more than 12x that of other social media. I talk more about how I used Pinterest to grow my blog in my video class on monetization, found here.
4. And Maybe Leave Facebook Behind
As one of Facebook's earliest adopters, this hurts my heart to even type. I've been using facebook for around 10 years and started using it back when Facebook was limited only to students at major Universities in the US.
But. . . people are leaving Facebook. Fewer and fewer people in my main demographic (college educated women, aged 24-55) are using Facebook to connect with people or businesses, and it's becoming less of a platform that people enjoy using, and more of one that people feel like they have to use to stay in touch with family.
Think of your own behavior when you're considering what social media to use. Where do you enjoy being present and spending your time? Is it Facebook, Instagram, Twitter, Pinterest or somewhere else? Build your tribe where you enjoy spending time and connecting with others. It doesn't have to be Facebook and there's no law to having a presence there. For me, I enjoy spending my time on Instagram and I wish I started with Instagram years ago.
5. Go with a Self-Hosted WordPress Site
I'm going to be honest with you. I use Squarespace, but wish I started my blog on Wordpress. When I started a website, I didn't know it would be a blog and I went with SS for it being easy to learn and a well-established platform. Now that it's a blog, I wish my site was a WordPress site. There's just so much MORE functionality and customization available with WordPress that Squarespace lacks, and WordPress is the platform of choice for bloggers. With WordPress as the standard, any software you might want to use or company you might want to work with will likely be compatible with and knowledgeable on WordPress.
On WordPress, it's easier to control ads for monetization, easier to customize your branding, there's more CONTROL over how your site looks and operates, and there are hundreds of plugins that make integration and things like online shopping carts easier to add on to your site if and when you decide to expand. It's harder to learn, but smarter in the long run. Visit this article on how to set up a WordPress site for blogging.
6. Try Not to Get Too Stressed on Niche or Focus
Your blog is not set in stone. The name, what you write about, who you define yourself as - are all things that can change! Try not to get too caught up your blog's niche and focus that you don't start one at all. Just start writing and it'll evolve as you evolve. This isn't my first blog, and what I write about now isn't the same as what I wrote about when I started.
In the beginning, I stressed a lot about my message and what I thought I "should" be writing based on who my audience was and what my audience wanted. Now, I write what I enjoy writing about and trust that my message will find those who are meant to hear it.
Blogging is a business, and above all, the only real things you need to be good at it are:
- a desire to share your knowledge with others
- some technical skills for the back end work
- a willingness to learn
When I'm asked about how I've turned my business into what it is today, the answer blogging (and Pinterest)!
And, if you're an intuitive blogger and you haven't already, you can join my Pinterest group board for a little more visibility. Find it here.
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Last Updated: November 23, 2016