5 years ago, I was a newbie to the world of blogging. As a result, I made plenty of mistakes that came hard down on my blog’s growth and my revenue too.
With time and with the help of many experts, my blogging skills got better. I became sharper as a wordsmith, efficient with the technical stuff of publishing a blog and even making a living out of it.
Fortunately for me, there was enough time to learn from my mistakes. That may not be so for everyone. And, hence this blog.
In today’s blog, I am going to write elaborately on some things that I wish I knew before starting my blog. I wish someone told me about these things that would have accelerated my blog’s traffic growth and swelled my bottom line too.
If you are someone who is sitting on the fence with the idea of launching your own blog, this is for you. You can learn from my mistakes so that you don’t commit them. As the old adage goes, “We rise by lifting others.”
A self-hosted domain is a MUST!
Most bloggers treat blogging as a side hustle. A part-time endeavor that will bring them riches similar to a full-time job. It was with the same motive that I started off too. So, to keep my costs down, I decided to go with a free blogging website that gave the bare essentials to bring a blog alive.
What a mistake it had been! The blog went live and the traffic started gaining momentum too. But, there was no way I could monetize it. The free blogging website gave me no outlet through which I could turn my blog into a revenue channel.
It was then I understood the need to have a self-hosted domain. Turned out the self-hosted domain was not only a professional way of becoming a blogger but also had several blockbuster ways of blog monetization.
I was able to earn quickly using ads, sponsored posts, affiliate links and several other forms of monetization.
The point is, you need a self-hosted domain right from the beginning. Free blogging websites will not support your blog monetization plans. And, it would help in creating your own brand if you have a personalized blog name.
You can get your own domain name several hosting service providers like HostGator, Bluehost, iPage, WordPress.org, etc. I personally WordPress.org since it is user-friendly, has plenty of themes that you can customize your blog with and gives total control over your blog.
Here is a quick list of the domain name registration companies and their pricing.
|Hosting Company||Pricing for Top-Level Domain for 1st year|
|NameCheap||.com – $10.69
.org – $12.48
|GoDaddy||.com – $11.99
.org – $7.99*/ $19.99
|Enom||.com – $13.95
.org – $14.75
|1and1.com||.com – $0.99*/ $14.99
.org – $0.99/ $19.99
|Domain.com||.com – $9.99
.org – $14.99
|DreamHost||.com – $11.95
.org – $13.95
|Name.com||.com – $12.99
.org – $10.99
|iPage||.com – $8.99
.org – $16.99
|A2 Hosting||.com – $14.95
.org – $14.95
|Bluehost||.com – $11.99
.org – $8.99
Make social media your extended arm
If you have are a blogger with an introvert’s mindset, this is going to be a bit scary. Nevertheless, you can ignore social media either. It is the loudspeaker you get free of cost to shout out your blogs to the whole world.
Don’t fall into the dogma that social media marketing is for businesses. If you want to share something with the world, social media is the way.
After all, Facebook has 1.45 billion daily active users on average for March 2018. Twitter has 336 million monthly active users. Other social platforms like Instagram, Pinterest, Snapchat also have average daily users counting in millions.
Here is a statistic from Statistia that ranks most famous social network sites worldwide as of April 2018, ranked by number of active users (in millions).
Being on social media is not an option, but a must-have for your brand. So as soon as your blog is launched, go and create a Fan page on all the big four social media platforms – Facebook, Twitter, Pinterest and Instagram.
So, make social media your extended arm. Follow the ground rule of blogging, create less, promote more.
Don’t pay for fancy tools right away
Taking blogging as a serious endeavor is exciting. You feel like the boss of your own tiny empire that is growing at its own pace. Don’t let that overwhelming feeling to make you commit expensive mistakes.
The moment you start searching about blogging and topics related to it, several ads of tools and services will start heading your way. They will promise to make your blog into a traffic magnet, skyrocket your social media followership, get email marketing done with the a single click and much more.
The truth is, you need some essential tools to make your chores as a blogger easier. But, not too many, especially the ones with a pricey tag attached to them. The idea is to make your blog a revenue center and not a cost center. So, it is wise to adapt a minimalist budget attitude.
That said, here are some essential tools you will need as a professional blogger:
- Writing tools – Google Suite, Grammarly, Evernote
- Social Media Scheduling Tools – Buffer, Hootsuite, Sprout Social
- Newsletter / Email Services – Mailchimp, Feedburner, ConverKit
- Image editing – Canva, Snappa, PicMonkey
Most of these tools come with a trial or basic version which serves the purpose very well. Once your blog grows in traffic and demands a slightly higher quality of service, you can pay and upgrade. Until then, use the trial versions to find the best fit for you.
Invest in good stock photo plans
Your website needs a banner image. Your blog needs a stellar feature image. Slideshows, ebook covers, snippets, infographics – almost every form of graphic you will place in your blog will need imagery.
And, good HQ imagery, mind it. Don’t even think of downloading images from Google search results and using them in your blog. It will kill your credibility. Also, such images have a very poor image quality too.
All that leads us to the need to invest in good stock photo plans.
Here is how you will benefit from investing in good stock photo plans.
- It saves time. You will find great images with a simple search
- There is a vast collection on all imaginable topics
- Each image comes with a license that allows you to reproduce or manipulate them the way you like it. Google-picked images don’t have that
- You get the right size for each purpose straight-away
- Some websites also allow you to request for images which are not currently available
Here are some websites where you can get great stock photos with minimal effort:
- Big Stock – Starting 150 images per month @ $79 per month
- Getty Images – Starting 10 Small images and web videos @ Rs. 6,000 per download
- Shutter stock – Starting 10 images per month @ 2.90 per image
- Twenty20 – 20 photos per month for $99
Pick up basic photo editing skills
Every blog that you publish needs a feature image. Think of it as the teaser which viewers see before getting to know about a movie release. Your blog’s feature image can make them click on it and ignore it right away.
Also, you will have to punctuate your blog with images, graphs, screenshots and so on to make it look meaty with information.
All this calls for you to develop your basic photo editing skills. You can’t keep pestering a friend to help you design stuff or spend money hiring a freelance designer. And, hey! Photo editing is easy.
There are tons of online tools which can help you become a designer on your own. They help create stunning graphics even if you can’t draw a straight line properly in real life.
Take for instance, Canva – the graphic-design tool website which offers tons of pre-designed templates. Canva offers a wide variety of templates for blog, social media, documents, ebook covers, marketing materials, events, ads and much more.
If you have a team of bloggers with whom you want to collaborate for the design, Canva even allows you to do that. It has separate plans for individuals, teams and businesses.
Create bit-sized videos
This is the age of video marketing. There are more videos autoplaying on your Facebook newsfeeds than textual and imagery content put together. Users want to watch more than they read or see.
Videos create a wonderful opportunity for you to gain maximum attention of your target audience than any other form of content. They are best to use in social sharing from where traffic can be redirected to your long-form blogs. You can use them like movie teasers that create an anticipation and curiosity in the minds of viewers.
The good news is that you don’t have to take a studio on rent or buy video making equipment and software to create videos.
Plan to repurpose your blogs
As a blogger, my days were spent churning out content, publishing them and sharing it on social media. The cycle ended there. It took me quite some time to know that repurposing the already published blogs will bring several benefits.
Some benefits that I gained from repurposing my blogs include:
- Improvement in SEO ranking
- Getting new unique readers
- More backlinks from third-party websites
- A diverse content library that made my blog look rich
Your data has a lifetime of more than a year. If you have optimized it for SEO-friendliness the right way, it will even stay an evergreen post bringing in traffic all round the year.
That said, there is a pertinent need to repurpose your blogs into other forms of content. Blogs are written in long-form text.
Some of my best blogs got a revival in traffic and readership when I repurposed them into infographics, slideshows and videos.
But, how do you go about repurposing your blogs?
- Find blogs that have got the best response or maximum traffic
- Turn them into guides, ebooks or white papers
- Convert the key points of the blog into a script for a webinar or a video
- Turn How-to blogs into video tutorials
- Use list-based article headers to create infographics
- Pin visual content like blog banner and infographics in Pinterest
- Rephrase the content into short blurbs and share it in Medium, LinkedIn Pulse, Facebook Notes, and similar user-generated content websites
- Write a Quora answer related to your topic and insert a link to your original blog
Remember, publishing a blog is just the beginning. It gets all the visibility and traffic through continuous promotion, social sharing and repurposing.
Starting a blog was a new beginning for me. That beginning was riddled with too many mistakes. I learnt from most of my mistakes. Some of those mistakes helped me rethink my blogging strategy. The lessons I learnt can be useful for someone who is new to blogging. They will save you the time and effort of committing them first hand.
And, don’t forget to publish consistently. By consistency I mean the quality of the blog and the frequency in which you publish it. Sacrifice either of it and your blog may not take off as you expect it to.
If you happen to have any doubts on blogging or how to get started, feel free to get in touch.