Being a blogger is not easy but these tips will help make the process smoother.
When I want to understand something, I prefer learning from someone who has some mileage behind their words. On the other hand, I love to pick the brains of people who have traveled the road just before me while the landscape is still fresh in their minds.
Now here I am, a few miles ahead, tossing out directions over my shoulder in hopes those just starting out can travel the road in a more direct manner than I did.
With that in mind, there is something to be said from trial and error. I think I have a better understanding of the blogging world because I “trial and error”ed it to death in some areas. Ha!
But if you prefer to get the down-low instead of figuring everything out as you go, I think I can help.
What kind of blog do you want?
This is an important question you must answer before you go any further. Do you plan to use your blog solely for reaching out to family and friends or do you intend to monetize it?
If you prefer not to spend the time earning money while you blog, that is totally fine. You can find numerous blogging platforms (Blogger, Blogspot, WordPress.com) that are perfect for what you want and will host your site for free.
However, if you have every intention of earning money and wish to present yourself as a professional blogger, self-hosting with wordpress.org is the way to go. This allows you the most control over your site with all the support you need to be successful. WordPress is what most bloggers use.
If you do go with wordpress.org, you will need to purchase a domain name (your personal address on the internet) and rent space from a hosting company. This can be done inexpensively; most hosting companies charge less than $4 a month. (Keep in mind, some will have you sign up for the yearly amount instead of a month by month basis.)
There are many hosting companies to choose from, but the one I use (and LOVE using) is Siteground. Siteground has amazing customer service! I know, because I use them all. the. time! I never have to wait longer than 30 secs for someone to assist me and every time I have needed help they have gone above and beyond.
What is really nice, when I signed on with them, I asked tech support to set up my WordPress account for me and within a few mins I was set up and ready to start without doing any setup work. That was so nice!
If you have a free blog and wish to monetize it, switching over to a self-hosted account is easy with Siteground. They will do most of the work for you. I don’t know too many companies that do this.
Know what you are getting into.
Before you start spending any money, though, I recommend you take the time to research blogs and what it takes to start one. There’s so much more to it than one might think.
Let me be the first to say, most everything I read starting out, boasts about the ease of starting a blog. They say you don’t need any computer knowledge and that you will be writing your posts within no time! I think they are all crazy. That, or I am just slow at this blogging thing. The only reason I did not give up, in the beginning, is because my reasons for starting a blog were important to me and I am not a quitter.
Now that I am past the “starting a blog” stage and into the meats and potatoes of running one, I can finally take that deep breath and know it’s going to be ok! But it took almost three weeks of sleepless nights, staring at a computer screen and shedding some frustrated tears for me to get to this point. I’m not trying to scare you, I only want to be real with my readers.
I think too many of us aspiring bloggers get mesmerized by the income reports of fellow bloggers that we don’t see what it takes to actually get where they are. And I think too many successful bloggers forget about the birthing pains once the money starts rolling in.
With that said, I am convinced blogging is the right thing for me and I am very excited to be doing it! I’m even more excited that the hard stage of setting up my website is behind me. Now on to other hard stuff. haha!
So, from one interested person to another, let me tell you, KNOW that this is really what you want to do. Again, I am not trying to dissuade you but wish to encourage you to go into this with eyes wide open. It is what will keep you going when things get tough. Because they will. Hopefully, these tips will help guide you through the rough waters and onto smooth seas and sunny skies.
1. Read everything you can get your hands on.
I mean this. When you first start out, everything will be Greek to you. The more you read of different people saying the same stuff, it will eventually start making sense and you will feel like you are starting to get a grasp on this blogging thing. Also, what works for one blogger might not work as well for you. So find a blogger who speaks your language and learn all you can from them.
Pinterest is excellent for aspiring bloggers; you can find most anything you need to know.
2. Watch tutorials.
I either study a subject until I am an expert or I become prideful and think I can figure it out on my own. The tutorials are there for a reason. Utilize them! If I had only followed my advice I would have saved myself hours trying to figure out what I could have learned in a five-minute video.
You are not going to understand at first, how to create your blog (unless you are a computer programmer) so why not learn? The tutorials are there for you, watch them all if you can. There’s no such thing as too much knowledge but you can definitely have too little.
3. Learn everything you can about the different aspects of your blog.
I admit, I still do not understand some elements of my blog, but I’m getting there because I know it’s important to know my stuff. I even learned a short-cut for my posts that involved adding coding to my blog’s main skeleton. Everything was great until I tried to tweak something I just wasn’t happy with and crashed my entire website.
I knew that was a risk whenever you mess with the coding so I was able to keep a cool head and with some guidance, was able to fix it. In the process, I also learned some basic coding. It was a scary moment trying to fix my site but, looking back, I’m glad I did or I might never have learned how to do the things I can do now. Trial and error. (I don’t recommend messing with your site’s coding unless you have someone walk you through it and have it backed up somewhere.)
4. Spend money on some courses.
I had hardly any money to invest in the beginning, so the last thing I wanted to do was spend anything. But after I learned all I could from piecing together Pinterest posts, I knew I needed some courses that would explain things in more detail. It was money well-spent.
The most useful course I bought was only $20: How I Made $40,000 my First Year of Blogging. This was an invaluable purchase! Chelsea Lords brings the blogging world down to the bottom-shelf with step-by-step lessons. She is a food blogger who teaches the techniques she uses on her own blog, chelseasmessyapron.com, and helps you implement them into your own. Her pictures alone are worth the time spent in her course! 🙂
Another course I bought was Making Sense of Affiliate Marketing. Using affiliates is one way bloggers make money and it’s one Michelle has mastered. In fact, she earns a six-figure income exclusively from affiliates. If you are serious about making money, this is a must-have! The plus side, after you finish the course, she offers you a way to earn money promoting her course using affiliates. It’s a win-win!
5. Spend time learning from the pros.
These are the pioneers who have learned what works and what doesn’t. They can save you time and money with their own experiences. I recommend taking their courses if they have any. Another way to learn from them is to follow their blogs and sign-up for their newsletters.
At one point I was getting several emails a day from multiple bloggers wanting to teach me what they know. I soaked it all up! And so should you. They are invaluable to the success of your blog.
These emails are especially important when you are first starting out. They go step by step over the details of picking out your domain name, learning what niche works best for you and introducing you to their Facebook groups, another wealth of helpful information. Sign-up for as many newsletters as you can!
These are just a few tips I felt were most important for me as a beginning blogger. I hope they direct you on the right path to reaching your own blogging dreams. If you have any other questions, I will answer them to the best of my ability. (Just remember, I’m still learning.) 🙂