Believe it or not, blogging was the last thing I wanted to do. It honestly didn’t appeal to me.
But then I learned that so many bloggers blog as a way to earn an income and I was intrigued since I’m a writer and how hard can it be? The question remained, should I start a blog? And that one question nagged me incessantly.
I finally took the plunge and started a blog in 2017. And let me tell you, it has definitely been one heck of a roller coaster ride! There has been plenty of sweat and tears but there has also been joy and gratitude and a feeling of making a difference.
If you are reading this, then you probably already know about all the bloggers who make a living from home and you are probably hoping to become one of them. I know I was.
But if you’re wondering if you should start a blog of your own, you probably want someone to tell it to you straight. You have come to the right place.
(I sometimes include affiliate links, which means I might make a small commission off any purchases you make, at no additional cost to you. You can read my full disclosure here.)
First, there are a couple of things you should ask yourself …
What kind of blog do you want?
There are basically two categories of bloggers out there: bloggers who blog just to blog and those who blog as a business. It’s important that you decide which one you want to be.
If you are just wanting to share your life or knowledge with friends and family and have no desire to monetize, then your blogging journey will be relatively basic. There are numerous blogging platforms for you to choose from (Blogger, Wix, WordPress.com) that will host your site for free.
However, if you have every intention of earning money and wish to present yourself as a professional blogger, you need to have a self-hosted site. This allows you the most control over your site and the tools to monetize your work. WordPress.org is what most bloggers use.
Once you sign up with wordpress.org, you will need to purchase a domain name (which is 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, which is super important, especially when you are first starting out. I know, because I use them all. the. time!
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.
But there are other companies out there that successful bloggers use and I want you to have all your options, so here are a few more you can look into on your own: Bluehost, Host Gater, and Big Scoots, to name a couple.
Know what you are getting into.
When I first started reading all the blog posts out there boasting great things about being a blogger, I was awestruck and had incredibly high hopes of following suit. I thought for sure I could be right up there with the best of them within months.
Um, no. Not even close.
There are bloggers out there who will tell you you don’t have to be computer savvy to be a blogger. They will tell you it takes 30 mins to start a blog. They’ll even say you can earn a full-time income in less than six months.
Those people are crazy. Don’t listen to them. That’s not reality.
Yes, you don’t have to know code to run a website and yes, you can have tech support help you do a lot of the back-end things, but you DO have to learn a lot of things on your own, too.
WordPress has a learning curve for most users. But the good news is, it is so widely used that help is available in the form of FB groups, YouTube videos, and tutorials on their site. I did not take advantage of these right away and that was a lot of time wasted for me.
As far as starting a blog in minutes, it took me three weeks and nearly 60 hours of work before I felt my blog was decent enough to make public. Most bloggers take weeks.
And when it comes to making money, I’ve heard it said that blogging is not a sprint, it’s a marathon. And they’re so right. Most blogs take up to two years before they have enough traction to make substantial money.
I’m going to be 100% real with you right now. If I had known then just how hard it would be for me to start a blog and make it successful, I probably would not have done it.
I think too many aspiring bloggers get mesmerized by the income reports of fellow bloggers that we don’t see what it takes to actually get there. And I think too many successful bloggers forget about the birthing pains once the money starts rolling in.
(If you want to follow a successful blogger who is great at being transparent, follow Carly from mommyonpurpose.com. She’s amazing and one of the few bloggers I take advice from without question.)
I am not trying to dissuade anyone from blogging but when you ask yourself if you should start a blog, I want you to make your decision based on facts. Because knowing the facts and your reasons for blogging will keep you going when things get tough.
I am glad I stuck with it over the years and plowed through the tough slumps. It wasn’t easy, but worth it in the long run.
Here are some tips I wish I knew before I started my blog:
1. Learn from those who are where you want to be.
When I first started out, I read everything I could get my hands on. I absorbed blogging posts like a sponge. Because this was a new world for me and everyone spoke Greek. I needed translators desperately!
The more I read of different people saying the same stuff, it eventually started making sense and I started to get a grasp on this blogging thing. Or so I thought.
Turns out, I was grabbing at straws and trying all the things and only some of it was working while the rest was just hanging out in my head, taking up space. For the longest time I was wishing I had a successful blogger in my pocket who could walk me through everything I needed to do.
The structure and direction I had been lacking finally came to me when I enrolled in the Elite Blogging Academy. This is one of the best blogging courses you can ever get your hands on but they only open their doors once a year.
Taking the course was life-changing. No exaggeration. For the first time since starting my blog, my drive had returned and I was actually excited about blogging again and this time, I was seeing results!
Another course that dramatically changed the way I blogged was Stupid Simple SEO. This course opened my eyes to how to get my blog found and liked by Google, how to write posts that actually reached readers and how to set up my blog and posts so that I could earn money in more effective ways.
Both courses were game changers for me. If you are serious about blogging, these two courses are hands-down the way to go.
They are an investment, trust me, I KNOW, but the best investment I could have ever made!
All that to say, one of the things I realized was, trying to learn from everyone at once was only making me spin my wheels. So I unsubscribed from all but a couple bloggers who I connected well with and only learned from them.
Narrowing down my teachers allowed me to focus and helped me to implement the right things at the right time so that they were effective.
2. Watch tutorials.
Blogging has a lot of technical aspects and unless you have the money to hire this part out, you are going to need to know the basics, at the very least.
Thankfully, there are plenty of people out there who love the technical stuff and are willing to impart their wisdom. You can find them on YouTube, Pinterest and on Google.
I’m telling you right now, if you hit a brick wall, don’t try to figure it out on your own. It will leave you in tears and waste precious time and make you feel like quitting every time. Watch a tutorial. There is nothing wrong with getting help.
And when you get things to finally work, it’s a great feeling, especially if you didn’t waste a ton of time in the process.
3. Learn everything you can about the different aspects of your blog.
Even if you haven’t hit a brick wall, it’s a good idea to learn the different aspects of your blog. You never know when it will come in handy.
I wanted my blog to do something specific so I googled it, learned how to implement code, and now I use it every time I create a new post. I wouldn’t have had this shortcut at my disposal had I not checked into it in the first place.
The more I learn, the more I understand the bones of my business and that makes me a better blogger.
4. Spend money on some courses.
You already read how two premiere courses changed my blogging life but there have been other courses that I have taken that have been helpful to me in setting up a blog, writing posts, etc.
But there’s only one I want to introduce to you if you are on the fence about blogging.
Starting out, the most useful course I bought was only $20: How I Made $40,000 my First Year of Blogging.
Best $20 I ever spent! Chelsea Lords is one of those rare bloggers who did well quickly and she brings the blogging world down to the bottom-shelf with step-by-step lessons.
Even though she is a food blogger, her techniques can be used by any niche.
If you are even remotely considering blogging, buy her course. It will walk you through what you need to know and that way you can make an informed decision.
I could spend all day talking tips, but there is no need to overwhelm you. If you want to know if you should start a blog, these are the things I recommend you consider first. Buy the course, do some research and make your decision based on solid facts.
And I’m here if you have any questions.
About the author
Kimberly McGraw is the founder of Life Worth the Living, a blog focused on helping mothers live their best life. Her desire is to help moms find purpose in who they are as a person, not just as a mom. Life Worth the Living has been featured in Making Sense of Cents, Outwit Trade and Believe and Create.