There’s something about closing your eyes and jumping into a new project that really gets your adrenaline pumping. 3 months ago I did just that by starting a blog.
In that time, my blog has gone through some transformations. I’ve had trials and tribulations, dealing with learning how to tweak my code, fixing bugs, and most importantly how to run a blog.
Are you on the edge of making that same decision? On the edge of that cliff and wondering how others do it?
Here are some lessons that I’ve learned as a beginning blogger:
1. You never know unless you try
Reading other blogs and watching others from the sidelines will only take you so far. You’ll never know how it really feels until you leap in and try it out yourself. If you are curious, you can start out and practice on a free platform such as blogger and go from there.
2. Free is good, but invest a little in your blog and you’ll go much further
The first incarnation of my blog was on blogger. It was easy to use and gave me some practice in figuring out how to write and what style works for me. It also gave me a sense of wanting more.
You’ll find that the free platform is limited in the plugins and templates that are available for your use. Secondly, you’ll want to develop a more personal feel to your blog which comes from having your own domain.
For a small investment, in my case as little as $42 for a year of service, including my domain name, with iPage, you can break away from the limitations of those free platforms.
With that small investment, you’ll feel like a caged bird that’s been set free to fly.
3. Go with WordPress
When I went to hosting my own domain, I was unfamiliar with wordpress. I first started out with a WYSIWYG (What You See is What You Get) html editor which was basically drag and drop. In all honesty, it was very simple to to use. However, it lacked essential components such as search engine optimization and plugins other than inserting html code.
WordPress is the most popular platform in the world. That means more support and more plugins to help you along the way.
4. Be Patient
No matter how much you optimize and advertise, it takes time and effort to get the word out about your blog. I’ve read quite a bit about blogs not really getting noticed in Google for the first 2-3 months. I’ve also read about how many people give up on their blogs within that time, just at the precipice of becoming successful.
This blog has just recently passed that 3 month mark. Not only that, but I’m in a niche that is saturated with competition. Until recently, my primary source of traffic has been from direct referrals and various social networking sites. These last few weeks, I’ve started to see some consistent traffic from Google. Had I not been patient enough to keep working on my blog, I would have given up before ever being noticed by the search engines.
5. Connect with your Social Network
In the beginning, you will not have a lot of search engine traffic. However, you can still get your blog noticed through social networking. Social networking sites like Facebook and Twitter are now mainstream ways of communicating your blog’s message. You need to take advantage of the medium and use these tools to popularize your blog.
6. The Quality of Your Content is more Important than Quantity
I’ve read posts that talk about the need to publish a post at least once a day or more. Frankly, I don’t think this is necessary as long as you write informative, useful content, you can space out your publishing frequency. There are many successful blogs out there that only publish once a week or less. The difference is that each posts contains a lot of information that is usable.
7. It’s Easier to Publish Quality than Quantity
I don’t know how people can keep up publishing 2-3 posts a day. Even if it’s poor quality material that’s just thrown together, it takes time and some thought to create the post, edit and publish. I can imagine that would take at least a couple of hours a day.
I find that I can take a topic, and think it over for several days. Then when I sit down to write, I can take an hour or two to write a very detailed post that covers my topic in depth. The words flow easily because I’ve taken the time to think it out and it all has a common theme.
Overall, I find it more productive to write one in depth article every few days than writing several shallow articles every day.
8. Pictures say a Thousand Words
A good screenshot demonstrating an idea that you are writing about can really demonstrate your points. In the same vein, a good info graphic can do the same. I haven’t really done info graphics with my posts, but I’ve seen them done to great effect on other blogs.
9. There are Alternatives to Adsense
Google Adsense is a very popular method of generating some income, but sometimes it can be difficult to get a new blog approved for Adsense with their stricter advertising policy. In addition, one should also diversify with affiliate programs as well as alternative advertising programs. Chitika is a very good option to use in addition to or as an alternative to Google Adsense.
10. Above all else, Have Fun!
This is really the most important lesson. I wouldn’t continue with this blog if I was not enjoying it. Sometimes, I’m just not in the mood to write, or I need a break. Don’t try to force it at those times. It is work running a blog, but there are ways to keep it from feeling like a job. Part of the advantage is that you are your own boss. So, write on your schedule.
At the same time, when I do write, I can be creative. There’s no one looking over your shoulder to tell you how to draft your articles, so don’t limit yourself to writing the same types of posts as everyone else. Let your voice loose. Your audience will appreciate your uniqueness and you will enjoy your blog so much more.