When I first started blogging, I was afraid. Each day, I check on my blog and there is a little bit of fear. Do you feel it too?
Questions nagged in my mind:
- I don’t know how to program.
- It sounds too technical.
- I’m not a great writer.
- What do I write about?
- I don’t have a lot of time.
- What if no one reads my blog?
- What if the search engines don’t index my blog?
- How do I get more traffic?
- What’s SEO?
- What if I get sandboxed?
- What if my site crashes? (see items 1 and 2)
- My stats are dipping
- What if I don’t make any money?
These questions could easily weigh down any blogger and they could have held me back. However, despite these fears, I’ve continued on and this blog is still plugging away, nearing the 2 year mark.
Some of these questions I’ve been able to address. Some of these questions I still ask myself every day, but I find a way to keep going. I educate myself. I tell myself it’s a learning experience. And I have fun with trying new things. And I’ve learned to allay some of my fears
If you ask yourself any of these questions, perhaps my experience can help you get started in a new blogging adventure.
You’re not a Tech Person
Neither am I! Believe me. Everything I do on this blog is self taught. There’s a ton of resources online and right on this blog that will teach you how to get started.
Fortunately, blogging doesn’t actually require much tech know how. If you know how to do email or use a basic word processor like Microsoft Word, you can blog.
It really is that easy. If you are just starting out, you can start a free account with blogger. It’s as simple as signing up for a gmail account.
As you get more comfortable, I suggest graduating to self hosting and using wordpress. Once you are familiar with the blogger platform, you’ll pick up wordpress quickly. Self hosting may sound daunting, but it’s not that hard. If you need help, you can follow my simple guide to setting up a wordpress blog on hostgator.
I Don’t Know What to Write About
I felt the same way when I was first starting out. I gravitated towards making money online as that was an obvious interest of mine. However, I later realized that I’m much more interested in the broader topic of technology and personal finance. I love gadgets and gizmos and I’m fascinated with how technology is providing new ways to make and save money. So, I shifted the focus of this blog a bit and expanded the topic.
The lesson here is twofold. First off, write about your passions. If you have a hobby that you love or a subject that you find fascinating, then write about those things. You’ll find that each day a new idea for a blog post will come to you because you are already thinking about that topic.
The second lesson is don’t be afraid to change, alter or expand the topic of your blog. Sometimes, you start off writing about one thing and you realize that it’s just the tip of the iceberg about a larger topic. Or you find that you love writing about stuff that sounds a little off topic. That’s ok!
Ultimately, your blog is about you and your thoughts. As a human being you are multi-faceted. It’s ok if your blog is the same.
In my experience, altering the topic of this blog hasn’t harmed the blog. People still come and visit. It still gets steady traffic. In some cases, I had a slight dip in numbers on some topics, but they went back up as I gained a new audience. In the end, it all works out.
I’m Not a Good Writer
I don’t think anyone starts out as a good writer. Sometimes I go back to my earlier posts and I cringe at the bad writing. Sometimes I look at the posts I do that are too SEO’d and I’m dissapointed in myself. But every day I learn.
That’s what blogging is all about anyways. It will be an evolution in your writing skills.
If it’s one thing the blogosphere understands, it’s that people have varying levels of writing skills. There are bloggers who write in English when it’s not even their native language. There are young bloggers who are still learning to write. There are aspiring writers who blog to improve their skills.
I’ve seen all levels of writing skills on the blogosphere. I have yet to see any blogger criticized for their writing skills.
I Don’t Have the Time
The beauty of blogging is that it’s flexible. You can blog as often as you want. If you want to read about a time crunch, you should check out my post about how I manage my blogging time.
You can hold a full time job, run a family, maintain your hobbies and still find time to blog. Trust me, it’s doable. And if it ever feels overwhelming, just take a day or two away from your blog. Your audience will understand.
I Don’t Know Anything About this Search Engine Stuff
Guess what? Neither did I when I first started.
The reality is that SEO mostly boils down to focused writing and then backlinking. It doesn’t have to be hard.
Concentrate on good writing habits that you learned in high school. Pick a topic. Then write a thesis sentence in your first paragraph. Write several paragraphs supporting your thesis and then write a concluding paragraph. These are the simple rules of writing that I picked up in high school.
I found that these rules applied just the same in blogging. Your topic will have your keywords. These keywords will naturally end up in your thesis sentence and flow through your post naturally as your write. Don’t try to force it. Just write naturally. Your main goal should be to write for human beings, not machines.
Backlinking is just the process of creating links on other websites back to your blog. This can be as simple as visiting other blogs and leaving constructive comments. There are a lot of methods, but you can keep it simple in the beginning and learn as you go.
If you do these couple of things, over time the search engines will pick up your blog.
There is a lot of push online to rise quickly in the search engines. People like to brag about how fast they got to the first page of Google. Mostly, this is a money making ploy to try and get you to buy an SEO product. It’s also a way to make themselves sound like gurus.
The reality is that it will take several months to perhaps the first year to really gain an authoritative rank.
Don’t make ranking in the search engines your first and only priority. You’ll only burn yourself out trying to get to the first page of Google in a week. Plus, you’ll feel crushed if Google ever de-indexes your site for aggressive SEO.
Just enjoy taking the time to write great content and visit other awesome blogs online. Leave constructive comments and don’t burn yourself out over the search engine stuff.
What if My Stats Aren’t Going Up (or Go Down)
I find that some months my stats go up steadily and other months it flatlines or even goes down. In the beginning, I was a stat hound. I checked my stats all the time and I stressed over these fluctuations.
I’ve learned over time that these are just normal fluctuations. Your stats will rise and fall and rise again. If you focus too much on stats, you’ll stress yourself out.
On top of the normal fluctuations, search engines are tweaking their algorithms all the time. Even if your blog doesn’t take a direct hit from these tweaks, I’ll bet some of the websites that link to your blog lost traffic. This all trickles down to you. I had that experience with the latest Google update. My blog was fine. No PR hit, no warning notice about bad links. However, my traffic still dipped because I was getting less traffic from referrals.
But after a month or so, my traffic is creeping back up. That’s the way it goes. If you stay consistent and just keep writing, your blog recovers from those natural dips.
I’ve also found that checking stats too often wasn’t productive. I was much happier checking my stats just a couple times a week, rather than several times a day. I got more of a big picture view and I could see the larger pattern of my traffic growth. It’s even better if you see your stats over the course of several months or a year.
The important thing is that if you stay consistent with your writing and posting regularly, your stats will take care of themselves. Don’t put too much value on them over your writing.
What if I Don’t Make Any Money?
Well, lets face it. Many people blog because they’ve heard that it’s a way to make money online. It’s true, you can make money blogging. I’m earning some extra income through this blog. But it doesn’t come fast or easy.
I’ll tell you now, don’t expect to make money your first 3-6 months. Then between 3 months and your first year, expect that your income may be just a few dollars a month. After that time, you may find your niche and start earning, but don’t expect a lot of money early.
Does that make you want to quit?
Anyone still reading?
If you are still reading, then I’ll also tell you that once you start making money, it can be fairly passive. A good affiliate can bring you a few hundred to a thousand dollars with a single post. Not only that, it’s cheap to run a blog. Virtually all your income can be profit. (Though for tax purposes you may want to find a few expenses.)
In the beginning, my only goal each month was to earn enough to pay for my hosting. Hosting through hostgator was $8.95 a month. I would get one gig for a sponsored post or review for $10-20 and it would cover my expenses for a month or two. My first few months I either earned nothing or somewhere between 10-20 dollars a month.
It wasn’t until after my blog was a good 8 months old that I stumbled on a couple of good converting affiliates and I started getting some steady advertising bookings that I began to earn a couple hundred each month. But it took some time and effort to get there.
My biggest emphasis is don’t make income your first priority. If you build up your blog following and take your time to improve your writing and learn your niche, the income will come with time.
My second point is that blogging is really cheap. You can get good quality shared hosting for less than $10 a month. That’s the price of a single meal. So you really aren’t losing that much if you aren’t earning right away. Think of it as an investment.
Finally, think of some of your other hobbies. Frankly, I’ve spent much more on many hobbies that don’t earn me a single dime. But they are fun. I enjoy them and I don’t mind spending some fun money on them.
Enjoy your blog. Have fun with your writing and sharing. Money isn’t the only thing.
Have You Conquered Your Fears Yet?
Someone once told me that a brave man feels fear and finds a way to conquer that fear. However, you can’t be brave without feeling that fear first. It’s the fear that leads to bravery. Only a fool feels no fear.
So, have you conquered your fears yet?