Carolynn | Jul 5, 2018 | 0
25 Things I Wish I Knew Before Starting A Blog
I have been blogging for 4 years and writing on E-Tech Africa for two years of that.
I’ll be honest, before I started this journey, I didn’t have a plan.
Blogging just seemed like a really cool passion project, so I went for it.
Starting out, it felt like such as whirlwind of making mistakes, rinse, and repeat.
Since then E-Tech Africa has offered me a chance to supplement my income as well as meet some great people online and offline.
My blog has also given me the chance to hone my writing skills as well as acquire online marketing skills I didn’t otherwise have.
That said there are still quite a few things I’m still learning.
In this article I’m going to share with you what I have picked up along the way.
Hopefully, you can learn from my journey and start off on the right foot or change course.
1. Your Blog Name Is Everything
Probably goes without saying but I cannot emphasize enough how important your blog name is.
Your blog name is your brand, both online and offline.
If I had known then what I know now I would have picked a better name from the start
The process of coming up with “E-Tech Africa” wasn’t glamorous either.
I simply wrote out a bunch of names on my notebook and picked one. In fact here’s the actual piece of paper.
There is no proven formula that you can use to help you create a name for your blog.
I guess all it takes is a little bit of luck and creativity.
2. Social Media Plays a Big Part in the Success or Failure of Your Blog
As a blogger, all you have to do is write and they will come, right?
Well, that’s not how it works exactly.
This is too passive, even the best writers in the world promote their content on an ongoing basis. This is the only way people will discover you.
For bloggers, the best way for them to promote their content is through social media.
It’s important to start growing your social media audience from day one.
They will be your raving fans. Think of them as your “online tribe”.
The best approach is to focus on one social media platform at a time.
In my case, it was Twitter. I now have over 40,000 followers on Twitter accounting for over 90% of my social traffic.
If you study some of the most successful bloggers in Kenya, and the world, they all use the same approach.
It’s rare for bloggers to have dominance on all social media channels at once.
Of course, as your popularity grows you’ll start to see a trickling effect.
3. Blogging Is Addictive
That’s right, you’re gonna be hooked.
For bloggers, curating content is a creative outlet, there’s a feeling of accomplishment that comes along with doing it.
So if you’ve been writing for as long as I have, it’s hard to stop. Knowing this I block out an hour every day simply for writing.
Having an audience who consistently read and comment also motivates me to keep going.
I love every minute of it, it’s addictive but enjoyable too.
4. Blogging Will Inevitably Change Your Life.
I believe all experiences good and bad will have an impact on your life.
In my case, blogging changed my life by giving me options.
An example is it exposed me to the world of digital marketing.
Prior to me starting “E-Tech Africa” digital marketing was a foreign concept to me. Even the term “S.E.O” scared the living daylights out of me.
Now I’m using the digital marketing skills I’ve learned to promote my blog to help other online business owners grow their own brands online.
Also, the long periods of intense concentration that blogging requires have helped improve my productivity.
If you had told me my blog would have had this kind of impact on my life back in 2015, I probably wouldn’t have believed you.
5. The Best Bloggers In The World Are Also Digital Marketing Ninjas.
Unless you plan on hiring, most bloggers have digital marketing skills.
Other than coming up with creative content, your online marketing skills will set you apart from your competition.
From design, branding, copywriting, growth hacking, social media marketing, influencer outreach, back linking, search engine optimization list goes on.
These are just some of the digital marketing skills you’ll be required to master in order to successfully promote and position your blog online.
6. Blogging Is A Career
Looking back now, I wish I had known this before I started my blog.
If I did then I would have approached it differently, by looking at it as a job.
Instead, I wrote simply because I had something to say and I loved writing.
If you’re thinking of blogging professionally, take is seriously from the start.
And just like your regular 8 am to 5 pm job it should pay.
Right from day one think about what revenue model you would like to implement for your blog.
Creating a successful blog that generates income can take months even years.
So it’s important to ensure you’re spending your time and money on strategies that will enhance the likelihood of making money
7. The More You Write the Busier You Get
There are no off days as a blogger.
Every morning I wake up with to-do-lists as long as my arm.
In fact, as soon as I’m done writing and posting this article I’m going in to design 50 image quotes for my Instagram pages.
The reality is the more content you produce on your website the more you’ll get noticed.
This means more comments to engage, increased contact on social media, more emails to respond to, more guest post pitches, more invitations to events it just never stops.
If you follow a posting schedule, it gets even tougher to consistently produce content on a regular basis while managing all these moving parts.
Having a personal time management system not only keeps you motivated but also productive.
Otherwise, you’ll run the risk of feeling overwhelmed.
8. Focus Quality Not Quantity
[pullquote]I’ve learned the no one cares about how many blog posts you’ve written in the past, all they care about is the one they’re currently reading. [/pullquote]
Focus on the quality of your content rather than the quantity.
Quality content leads to an increase in page views, engagement and ultimately shares.
An example of quality content would be a 5000-word article explaining all you need to know about Facebook Ads.
These types of blog posts are packed with loads of valuable information which your readers will find helpful.
To be regarded as a thought leader within your niche, then you’ll need to focus on the quality of your content.
As a start, I would recommend writing a minimum of 2000 words for every blog post you publish.
9. There is no Formula
Just like in business, there is no formula to success when it comes to blogging.
It’s all about hard work, persistence and 100% commitment.
A lot of work goes into your blog in the beginning and it often takes time before you can see any tangible results.
That why it’s important to practice patience and not give up.
Part of being successful also means clearly defining what metric you’ll use to define your blog’s success.
For most people success is the number of page views they receive on their website.
For others, success is defined by their profit/loss statement at the end of the month.
Keep in mind, what worked for another person might not necessarily work of you.
10. Your Blog Is The Unedited Version Of Yourself.
Your blog represents your individual personality and style.
In my own experience, I express my unique view of the world in through this blog.
I’ll give an example.
I didn’t study journalism, media or communications, so when I get invited to cover and write about events (which I often do) I often turn them all down.
Explaining why I don’t publish any press releases, cover recent events or break news stories.
It’s therefore important for me to maintain my individuality throughout my blogging journey.
I always say don’t try and be someone you’re not, your readers will see right through it.
Ultimately by being yourself, you’ll gain the trust and respect of your audience.
11. Do Your Best Work From Day one
This is one I admit not doing well in the beginning.
If you’ve had some past experience with blogging it’s easier to hit the ground running with a new blog.
However, for the majority of new bloggers, it’s often a steep learning curve.
The fastest way to learn how to be the best is by studying other bloggers.
This way you can discover what mistakes you’re making and attempt to modify them.
12. Avoid Comparison
Avoid comparing your blog to similar ones within your niche.
I know it’s tough to blog, but even the best blogs in the world started with no audience.
Remember it’s not a sprint; it’s a marathon, so take your time.
It’s advisable to build your audiences from the ground up.
13. Build Your List From Day One
Email marketing has been proven to be the most effective and efficient way of monetizing blogs.
As the saying goes “The money is in your list”
Successful blogs start building their email lists from day one.
It doesn’t just stop there; you’ll also need to continuously engage with your audience by sending them regular emails.
Come up with creative ways of capturing emails through your blog.
An example would be to offer a lead magnet such as an eBook in exchange for your reader’s email address.
14. It’s Okay to Take a Break to Get Inspired
Bloggers often get overwhelmed with constantly creating and promoting content.
That is why it’s important to takes breaks even if it means disappointing your readers.
You’ll notice I recently took time off blogging and this is actually the first article I’ve written in over a month.
Breaks will help you reenergize and stay inspired.
15. Perfection Is Frankly Overrated
[pullquote]There is no degree or diploma for blogging, that means the only way to learn how to blog, is by continuously doing it. [/pullquote]
Looking back now, my first few articles were terrible, yet I still got people to read them! 🙂
As a self- identified perfectionist, I’ll tell you, there is no room for perfection when it comes to blogging (or life for that matter).
Don’t overwork yourself to make things better, your blog posts are not set in stone.
As long as your content is able to effectively and clearly communicate your message, the rest are details that can be fixed along the way.
Lastly, the only way to get better at blogging is through, practice, practice, practice
16. Blogging Takes Time
Success in blogging is just like success in life, it takes time.
The highest earning blogs in the world are more than five years old.
Initially, a lot of hard work and sacrifice goes into your blog. Patience and consistency are ultimately what separates the winners from the losers.
Take time to also create quality content that is helpful.
As more and more people get to discover you, they’ll start to trust you.
This is trust is what will drive the revenue for your online business.
17. Start Simple, Get Fancy Later
Avoid overspending on your blog, especially in the initial stages.
You don’t need a fancy website to make money.
All you need to hit the ground running is to invest in a high-quality premium theme and a reliable hosting plan.
Overspending can put a strain on your finances and may not necessarily get you the results you need.
Also, avoid the temptation of buying traffic in the beginning. Allow your audiences to grow organically.
18. Define Your Niche
You cannot be a master at everything, that’s why you need a niche.
If you create content that is too broad, you run the risk of confusing your readers.
People like knowing what to expect.
Pick four to six key categories that are related to your blog and clearly communicate it clearly it to everyone visiting your website.
Personally, I’ve done this by clearly writing niche under my website title.
I picked four main categories. They are; Social Media | S.E.O | Website Development | WordPress | Online Marketing.
Defining your niche allows you to focus your concentration on a few topics enabling you to create higher quality content.
19. Your Ideas Are Not Unique
Hate being the bearer of bad news but there’s nothing unique about your blog.
Whatever you’re thinking of writing has probably already been written.
That doesn’t mean that people don’t need the information you’re providing them because they do.
[pullquote]What will make your blog post unique is YOU! [/pullquote]
That’s why the right people to start blogging are those that have a passion for telling a story.
But the reality is your readers can get information from somewhere else not necessarily from your blog.
20. Backups are Important
There are no guarantees when it comes to technology.
It’s important to backup all your files so that in case of an interruption or failure you can recover to full operation in the quickest time possible.
I personally store backups of all my blog posts in multiple locations both online and offline.
You never know when a disaster will occur, its better being safe than sorry.
21. Think of Your Goal First
This is probably the biggest regret I have when it comes to blogging.
I realize now how BIG a blog can get and I wish I took it more seriously in the beginning.
It’s important to think about what you want to accomplish before you even start.
Having a goal in mind will keep you focused.
Start by writing down a list of short-term and long-term goals for your blog.
Next, find a system to help keep you accountable and on track, and before you know it, you’ll be WINNING!
22. S.E.O…. What’s that?!
One million blog posts are published every single day.
So how do you rise above the “noise”?
That’s where search engine optimization shortened S.E.O comes in.
To be successful in blogging you need to familiarize yourself with white hat S.E.O strategies.
While I’m not an expert in S.E.O, I know enough about the topic to optimize my content and website to the best of my knowledge.
In order for your content to rank well on search engines, you’ll need to implement both On-page and off-page S.E.O strategies.
I recommend you can start by reading this free valuable S.E.O resource guide here.
Ultimately your S.E.O knowledge will give you a head start against your competition.
23. You Need To Block Out Time To Write
Writing is part of every blogger’s life.
Successful bloggers, block out a specific time every day for writing.
Personally, I dedicate an hour every day from 5:30 am to 6:30 am just for writing.
I find mornings to be the perfect time for me when my mind is fresh and there are no distractions.
I’ve also disciplined myself not to go beyond an hour of writing regardless.
24. Bloggers Are Avid Readers
To be successful in blogging you need to develop the habit of reading anything and everything.
When I started blogging I discovered the more I read the better my writing became.
So I just kept going until reading become a part of me, just like writing now is.
It’s a simple equation: The More You Read = The More You Write.
25. Inspiration For Your Content Is Everywhere.
I recently wrote an article whose title you’re probably familiar with Enthralling Social Media and Content Marketing Lessons from Game of Thrones.
It doesn’t take a genius to figure out that I got inspiration for the article while watching Game of Thrones
Bloggers are often required to think out of the box. That may mean occasionally letting your mind wander.
Creativity also requires you to be introspective and self-aware. And I love it! 🙂
Rome wasn’t built in a day and same goes for a successful blog.
A lot of hard work and patience is required on your part especially in those first few months.
Be a student and learn as much as you can on blogging and make adjustments along the way.
Like I mentioned earlier, there’s no formula, just stay consistent and don’t give up.