I’ve been blogging for close to nine months now, and it’s been a wild and beautiful ride! I’ve learned a ton of tips, tricks, and just general advice that I wish I knew before I started a blog. If I had to go back and do it all over again, this is what I would keep in mind!
Disclosure: Some links below are affiliate links. This means if you make a purchase via my link, I may receive a commission at no extra cost to you. This helps support my blog, and I’m so appreciative! More details here.
What I Wish I Knew Before Starting a Blog
#1. SEO is important, and you should start learning it ASAP.
SEO stands for “search engine optimization” and basically determines how many pages deep into Google your blog shows up when a person searches for a topic you’ve written about. And I’m not going to lie to you, I’m not the greatest at SEO. I don’t feel like I’m awful, but I’m by no means a pro.
But… imagine how good I would be now if I had started eight months ago, when I first launched my blog?
#2. Tailwind can be a game-changer.
Tailwind is a scheduling platform that allows you to automate your Pinterest pins. Their most basic plan costs about 15 USD every month. I was ALWAYS skeptical about Tailwind, but I knew people were getting pretty amazing blog traffic from Pinterest thanks to pin schedulers.
But after spending money on website hosting AND a domain name AND a blog theme AND a PO Box AND Canva Pro, I was like… do I really want to spend money on this?
And I probably would’ve waited even longer to start it if I hadn’t gotten a free trial as part of a free add-on to a course I bought. It’s nice to just be able to schedule pins to Pinterest and let everything work in the background.
I never had a ton of luck with Pinterest until I started using Tailwind. Right now, I typically get anywhere between 100-200 views a day just from Pinterest… I know, it’s not a lot compared to a lot of the bigger bloggers but that’s with minimal strategy involved, and I’m just getting back into blogging consistently again after some traveling. If you’re interested, you can use this link to get your first 100 pins for free!
Related: Must-Have Resources to Start a Blog
#3. Some bloggers will say anything to make money off you.
So I know I just went on and on about how good Tailwind is… but you should be wary about what you purchase. There are some things that you do need to spend money on, but do your research and make sure it’s right for you and your blog!
Some people will make anything seem lucrative just so they can make money off of you. I don’t want to hate on anyone for trying to survive, but don’t buy something just because a huge blogger says you won’t be successful without it.
#4. But other bloggers are some of the kindest individuals ever who just want to help!
While there are some sketchy/dishonest people around, that’s true everywhere… real life included. The vast majority of the blogging community is SO SUPPORTIVE. I kind of expected most people to be catty and competitive, especially before I started, but that isn’t the vibe at all!
Facebook groups are a great way to connect with other bloggers and receive valuable feedback. There are some accounts that focus specifically on Instagram engagement as well.
Some of my favorite blogging facebook groups are
#5. You may want to wait on signing up for Amazon Associates.
Pretty much anyone can sign up for Amazon Associates, but you have to make three “qualifying” sales within 6 months or you’re terminated from the program. I mean… yeah you can turn around and sign up again… but… I still wish I had waited until I had more of a following.
I made an entire $1.43 off Amazon (that I never saw because you need $10 minimum to get a payout). Plus, all the work I put into making gift guides simply was not worth a measly $1.43.
But I do still want to make money from Amazon, so I’m going to wait until my Instagram account is big enough to be accepted into their Amazon Influencer program, so that I can have the actual storefront in addition to the affiliate links.
#6. Blogging is a lot of trial and error.
Even if you’ve been with me since the beginning, you probably don’t know that I first started blogging under a different name. I quickly changed it less into one month into my blogging journey, and deleted the only post I had written under that name.
I also used to brand myself as a mental health blogger, before realizing that I don’t actually know enough about mental health to be helpful to any audience. Now, I say that I talk about anxiety because that IS a topic I could probably talk about all day.
I also put off starting a blog at first because I didn’t have my niche narrowed down. I felt like I wouldn’t be successful if I didn’t know what my niche was. I still kind of don’t know my specific niche, but it took me actually trying on different labels to decide if I liked them or not. Now that I’ve been blogging for close to nine months, I have a lot better of an idea of who I am as a blogger. It’s a lot easier for me to decide what topics I want to discuss, what I want to post on social media, etc. since I’ve actually been doing it!
Related: My First Month Blogging Recap
#7. Blogging isn’t only about you.
So, obviously your blog is going to include your life. And I don’t believe in writing about stuff you aren’t passionate about, because it’s going to just come across as stale and boring. Your audience will be able to tell if you’re just shilling out content because you think it’ll do well versus content that’s actually meaningful to you.
Other people are also reading your blog, and you need to be aware that what you say IS having an impact! You never know who is going to stumble on your blog. In my opinion, you should never push out content that doesn’t truly reflect who you are as a blogger!
#8. Setting goals is important.
I used to feel cringey and awkward by setting goals for myself. But my blog is a business, and all businesses set goals! Most of my blogging goals right now are related to my follower counts, because I don’t make a consistent income yet. But I also have goals that I can control, such as “write a new blog post twice a week” and “post on Instagram five times a week.”
I like to have goals that aren’t all related to my follower counts, because those fluctuate and are at the mercy of the dreaded algorithm. But I don’t want to sit here and pretend that follower counts don’t matter… they matter very much if you’re interested in working with brands (which I am). Not to mention, more people seeing your content on their feed isn’t a bad thing.
#9. Blogging for money is okay.
I have always been very up front about this from the beginning that my ultimate goal is to become a full-time blogger/writer. Ever since I was a small child, I’ve wanted to be a writer. But I also like money, and growing up I never felt that writing would be a sustainable career.
It also felt taboo to want to write for money, even if I was pursuing a career as an author. There’s a stigma that if you’re profiting financially off your writing, you don’t love what you’re doing. That “tortured artist” persona doesn’t really work if you’re getting paid.
But it’s absolutely okay to want to get paid doing something you love. I hate the 9-5 lifestyle… commuting every day to a corporate office isn’t for me, and it’s never been for me. I want to be able to be self-employed and work from home as a blogger; it’s my ultimate goal in life and I am not ashamed.
If you want to do the same thing, for whatever reason… to become a digital nomad and travel the world, to stay home with your kids, to make money if you can’t work due to illness/disability… it’s absolutely valid. And don’t let anyone tell you otherwise.
#10. You don’t need to spend an arm and a leg to make your blog look pretty.
While it’s important to have a seamless design so users can easily see what’s happening on your site, you do NOT have to spend a ton of money to get a pretty theme. You can always use a free theme with WordPress if you’re on a budget at first.
Creative Market is a great place for blog themes, stock images, fonts, templates, graphics etc. that you can use on your blog. You will also get six freebies every Monday if you sign up for an account.
Etsy also is a great place to find WordPress themes. Since most people on Etsy are small businesses running their own shop, you can usually get pretty good customer service and have certain theme elements tailored to your liking.
Bella Creative Studio is my favorite place right now to get themes, just because their themes are gorgeous AND their customer service is amazing. I’ve been able to get a couple of small cosmetic things tweaked on my blog simply by reaching out to customer service. That is where my current theme is from.
Please note that all of those sites require you to be self-hosted with WordPress to use them on your blog.
Also, you need to make sure whatever theme you choose works well on mobile. 80% of my blog’s traffic comes from mobile devices, and chances are your numbers are going to be similar. You also run the risk of being penalized by Google if your site doesn’t work well on mobile browsers.
#11. There’s a wrong way to start an email list.
The best way to have a successful email list has been heavily debated in the blogging world, especially recently. Most people will tell you that you need to have a pop-up on your site with a free opt-in (called a lead magnet) to entice people into signing up.
But I know from my experience, when I’m browsing a site I do not want a pop up to interrupt what I’m reading. And if you have a pop up on your site that ONLY shows up when I’m exiting the page, you can forget about me signing up.
Also, a growing number of people will only subscribe long enough to get the freebie and the unsubscribe from you! I can’t say that I really blame them… I mean, I’ve signed up to an email list to get a freebie and then would get multiple marketing emails from that person in the same week… and sometimes I got as many as 3 per day. Not exactly something I want to deal with.
However, email marketing is something that I want to work on. Every single one of my blog posts has an email signup form, and there’s also one on the sidebar. I have an email newsletter that I put out every week that reminds people about new blog posts in case they want to read what I have to say.
I definitely want to figure out how to make my newsletter more interesting, but I don’t want anyone to feel pressured into signing up.
#12. See what works for others, and put your own spin on it.
I’m NOT saying to copy your favorite bloggers and steal their content (that’s illegal!) but I am saying that you need to have role models in the blogging world. Your favorite bloggers got to where they are today by doing something right. Figure out what that something is, and make it work for your brand and your business.
What do you wish you had known before you started a blog?
Until next time,
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