10 Tips For New Bloggers. What Are Some Things I Should Consider When Starting A Blog?

I‘ve been blogging 5 days a week for about 6 years now, and in that time I think I’ve learned quite a bit about what it takes to run a successful blog. It’s been quite a roller coaster ride.

I’ve been through ups as I watched my site take off after the 2008 economic crash, and I’ve been through downs when my site took a big search traffic hit after Google’s Panda update in 2011 and beyond.

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I want to be a blogger

I think there are a lot of misconceptions about blogging. I think some people have a romantic notion that they’ll start writing a blog, 1 post a week, and magically a month later they’ll be making enough money to quit their day job.  Then there are the people who scoff at the notion that you could ever make money with a blog at all, and think that blogging is a waste of time.  I think you’ll find me somewhere in the middle.

Today i wanted to write a few things that I’ve learned about blogging, and what new bloggers should consider when they’re starting up their own blogs.  Hopefully I’ll dispel a few misconceptions in the process.

Things To Consider When Thinking About Starting A Blog

So what are some things that I think people should keep in mind when starting up a blog?

  • Running a successful blog is a lot of work:  I think some people have a notion in their head that running a successful blog isn’t a lot of work, that it just means writing a post here and there, publishing it and sitting back as the money flows in.  It’s a lot more than that though.  To have a successful blog you need to be a decent writer, you have to engage in social media, know how to do some basic SEO research, network with other bloggers, do some marketing and PR work, and so much more.  My blog is a second job for me, and I can’t even begin to think how many hours I’ve spent on it and other online projects.  Starting a blog? Be prepared to put in some long hours.
  • Bloggers aren’t just writers: If you have a blog you’re usually going to have to wear a lot of different hats. You’re a writer, a designer, a coder and an SEO consultant.  You’re going to have to figure out the basics of self hosting a blog and using WordPress (or other platform).  You’ll need to figure out how to promote and get links for your content.  And when you’ve done all that you’ll need to put your advertising hat on and work out some advertising deals in order to make money.  Being a blogger means you’ll truly be a jack of all trades.
  • Keeping traffic consistent and growing requires a strategy:  If you want to be continually growing your site’s traffic you’ll need to have a strategy for growth.  You’ll want to have a plan for writing regularly on your site, promoting your content, networking with other bloggers, and finding ways to get links back to your site via guest posting and other methods.   If you think you can just write and the site will grow, you’re probably going to be mistaken.
  • Your site won’t have thousands of page views right away:  Sometimes people think that they can just start a blog and instantly rocket up the blog rankings and get thousands of readers. While that does happen from time to time, most sites have to slowly build a following and a nice archive of articles before they receive thousands of page views.  Don’t get impatient or discouraged if it doesn’t happen right away. It took me months before I had that first 1000+ page view day.
  • If you want to make money with your blog, it will take time:  Some people expect to be making money from their blog right away. The problem is that in order to start making money from your blog, you’ll need to have built up some decent traffic.  A lot of ways that people make money with a blog require traffic – like CPM ads, pay per click advertising and affiliate advertising.  As your traffic grows, so will the income.  You might be tempted to give in to the low hanging fruit like paid text links (I know I did way back when), but in the long run those things can hurt your site in search engine rankings, so I would do your best to avoid them.
  • If you don’t make much money after a few months, it might be your content:  I’ve heard newer (and not so new) bloggers complain about how they’re not able to monetize their content.  They talk about how they never get an Adsense payout, or how they’re not getting enough traffic to make anything with CPM or affiliate ads.  Then when you look at their content it’s not very hard to see why they’re not making any money.  The topics they’re writing aren’t conducive to making money.  The topics they write are very self and inward focused.   They write about how they overspent on eating out or about how they are struggling with a budget.  You’ll do a lot better monetizing, however, if you focus your writing on other people and helping them to solve their problems.  Think about what topics people search for, what companies might want to buy ads on, and that may monetize well.  When creating content keep the focus outward on companies and people, and not on yourself.  You’ll do a lot better.  Want some hints at what types of topics monetize well? Check out the bigger sites in your niche and see what things they write about, and ask for advice from more successful bloggers.
  • It pays to diversify your traffic sources:  Far too often bloggers will rely on one traffic source or another for their site.  I’ve done this at times relying far too much on Google traffic.  So when I got hit with a penalty after the Panda update, my traffic suffered.  While you will probably never be able to get completely away from Google since they’re the big dog in the search world and refer a ton of traffic, you can at least diversify by creating other traffic sources.  Use social media. Create an email list.  Comment on other big sites in your niche.   Guest post.  Find as many creative traffic sources as you can think of.
  • It pays to diversify your income sources:  Sometimes bloggers can get stuck in a trap of relying too much on one income source or another.  The problem is that far too often you’ll see that income source dry up if something happens, and then you’re stuck with no income at all. For example, I’ve seen bloggers rely solely on Adsense income.  I’ve read countless stories of people who had their Adsense accounts closed with no warning or recourse.  If that happens you better hope you have other sources of income coming in.  Diversify by creating income from an email list, from affiliate ads and posts, CPM ads, writing an ebook and more.  Here’s a post where I talk about some of my top income sources.
  • If you can stick with it past 6-12 months, you may have a chance!: The burnout rate for bloggers is extremely high.  I started blogging in January 2008, and only a handful of the personal finance blogs that were around back then are still live on the Internet.  People get tired of writing every day and get burned out after not seeing enough of a return.  My guess is that most bloggers quit or stop updating their sites in the first 6-12 months.  The thing is, if they had just stuck with it past the 6-12 month mark, they probably could have seen their income grow and created a viable money producing asset.
  • You can’t treat it like a hobby and expect it to make income like a business: If you want your blog to be a true money maker, you’ll need to treat it like a business.  You’ll need to keep track of blog income and expenses, build business relationships and find ways to make it profitable.  If you don’t care about making money, that’s fine – you can get away with not posting regularly, engaging with your users, or building traffic.  Just don’t expect it to make quit your day job money, it’s probably going to remain a hobby.
  • Creating great content on a regular basis isn’t easy:  If you want to have a site that shows growth and is consistently showing up in the search engines you’ll need to publish regular content on your site. Thing is, it can be tough to come up with ideas for new topics every day.  You’ll need to come up with creative ways to diversify your content by coming up with post series, quick posts and long pillar posts, as well as doing video content or podcasts.  Try brainstorming or mind mapping content ideas on a regular basis to keep things fresh, and don’t forget to do some keyword and competition research to see what topics are conducive to creating income for your site.

When it comes down to it when you’re running a money making blog, you’re actually running a small business. You’re doing things like keeping track of your blog income and expenses, you’re paying freelancers for work they’ve done for you, you’re doing marketing and PR work for your site, you’re the IT guy keeping the website up and running and you’re a graphic design expert making your site look great. Oh, and sometimes you write.

Long story short running a blog is a lot of work.  But if you do it right all that work can lead to a great second income, or even a full time income if you desire.

So good luck as you start your new blog.  Stay patient, work hard and you’ll be an overnight success in only a couple of years!

Have your own tips for newer bloggers or things you think they should realize as they get started?

Check Out My Ebook And .MP3 On How To Start A Money Making Blog

Last Edited: 14th March 2014

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  1. says

    Wow, this post is spot on Peter.

    I started blogging a few years ago with good intentions and over time I got lazy and let the content suffer. I made a lot of other mistakes too like not putting in the time, not networking enough, and taking shortcuts for the easy money. That blog is suffering mightily from those mistakes.

    I’m slowly trying to rebuild it but I also decided to start fresh with a new blog and correct all the mistakes I made the first time around. I’m sure I’ll make plenty of new ones, but I’m definitely thinking more long-term this time around.

    • says

      It definitely needs to be undertaken with a long term view if you want to have a successful blog, and you need to be willing to put in the hard work. I’ve had other sites where I took shortcuts, and they didn’t do as well. Lesson learned.

  2. says

    It’s always good to read grounded articles like this by an experienced blogger. Thanks for the inspiration to stick with it!

  3. says

    i just want to chronicle my journey and if that helps someone else along the way, great. there are so many blogs out there, i just don’t know how you come out on top. It is certainly a lot of work for me just to maintain my little circle of friends, i can’t imagine how i would handle advertising and all the other stuff right now.
    thanks for letting us know the nitty gritty and not letting us get disillusioned by the very successful.

  4. says

    Great advice here, Peter. I think the best lesson I’ve learned is the 12 month time period. If you aren’t willing to commit to doing this for at least a year with no return, then you probably shouldn’t jump in unless you are doing it for the pure joy of writing.

    I’m a writer first, blogger second, which makes it tough to be patient with the tedious tasks that come with blogging. It is best to think of it as a small business and to enjoy learning all the new skills you will acquire.

    • says

      Thanks John. You really do learn a lot of new skills as a blogger, and you had better have the patience to stick it out for the long haul cause it doesn’t happen overnight.

  5. says

    I’m just past the 6 month mark and starting to see traffic increases with a trickle of money coming in. The text link emails are coming in weekly too, I’m not sure how they are still in business after the recent updates.

  6. says

    Great post and thanks for all the tips! If there’s one thing I’ve learned in a short time, it’s also that there isn’t a precise formula, you need to find something that works for you and you can enjoy.

  7. says

    Great advice Peter! Man, if only I could have seen this almost 5 years ago.

    People tend to hear about the big blogger stories in the news and think they will somehow magically get to be a top site as well. Truth is it takes a LOT of work and determinations to make something of a site. Like anything though, if you put in the right work you will get rewarded.

    • says

      Thanks Khaleef, I think that’s the key. Tempering your expectations about quick earnings, while still realizing that a lot of hard work can help to create a viable side income in time.

  8. says

    Great read Peter. You have taught me so much about blogging and walked me through a lot in the beginning. I appreciate all you did for me and continue to learn from you with articles like these!

    • says

      Josh, your site has taken off and has become more popular than I ever could have dreamed. You guys do a great job, and your strong point is that your content is so strong – and your topics are written so well for other people – it’s not inward focused – but focused on helping other people. You did things the right way!

  9. says

    Thanks for the tips above! I sometimes forget how long it took me to realize any decent amount of traffic when I wrote often for Suite101, and I get in the habit of writing one post, then hitting refresh on my Analytics account over and over like it’s going to magically say 10,000 views today on a handful of articles. LOL I need to get my act together again and start posting consistently with an eye toward optimization. Thanks for the reminder, Peter! :)

    • says

      It does get easy to get too focused on the analytics associated with your site. I remember doing the same thing – refreshing my sitemeter and adsense stats multiple times a day every day when I first started out, i was obsessed with getting the numbers. Later on I just became more focused on creating and sharing great content and things started to happen a bit faster for me. :)

      • says

        Glad to know I’m not the only one! I remember 100 articles being a real turning point for me, so that’s my current goal – get WhatMommyDoes to 100 posts and then see what’s happening at that point.

        • says

          100 is a good number to shoot for. When I first started posting I was putting out 2-3 so-so posts a day, short little nuggets and links/etc. I quickly burned out on that and decided to write 1 quality article per day, and have stuck with that ever since. I’m now up to 1353 published articles and counting. :)

          • says

            W.O.W. 1353 articles is amazing! Do you publish on the weekends, too? I have a newborn at home (in addition to a 4.5 and a 2 year old) so even one short post per day is pushing it for me. But I can probably do two longer ones twice a week. You actually just helped me decide an internal debate I was having about post length. So thanks! :)

  10. Tim says

    Peter, thanks for this helpful post. I read your blog daily and always enjoy it. I want to blog REALLY bad but when I get to the point of beginning, I let my fear get the better of me! The toughest thing has to be getting started. That truly requires making a big decision in terms of time, effort and resources in order to keep a blog going and make it different than all the others already out there. This is such great information for for where I am right now. Thanks as always!

    • says

      My pleasure Tim. My advice? Just go for it. Worst case scenario you end up starting a blog and it fizzles out. I’ve had plenty of those as well. Sometimes you have to start a blog or two to get a taste for what it’s going to take to make one successful. Just start writing, add value and write content that people will find useful. Best of luck!

  11. says

    By the time I started my financial blog I had already been writing online — mostly more personal-focused topics — for a decade or so and turning the new blog into a business hadn’t even crossed my mind. Sometimes these things happen serendipitously… if you happen to be in the right place at the right time.

    • says

      It’s funny how things happen that way sometimes. Couldn’t have happened to a nicer guy Flexo!

      I think I started my blog with the idea that I wanted it to make money some day, but I never thought it would be more than enough to maybe be some side income or tech gadget money for me to use to buy digital photography gear or something. It turned into something much bigger than that, and I only started treating it as more of a business after I realized how much could be made.

  12. says

    Yep. Great post some comments. Like you, my site took (and still has) a big hit from panda and penguin. But, as you said balancing perseverance with creativity is key. I am on the fence as to whether to continue, so it is always good to read posts like this to keep me going.

    • says

      Andy, sorry to hear that you’re still suffering the effects of Panda/Penguin. I feel your pain my friend. I’m still working my way back from Panda, and haven’t quite reached my previous traffic levels, but I’m getting there by engaging a lot in social media, adding a ton more videos, and getting more legitimate backlinks. It’s a tough road, but I’m sure you and I can both come back as we’ve got the good content.. Good luck!

  13. says

    Fantastic list – this should be sent out to every single new blogger in the PF sphere who believes they are going to make millions when they start. When asked I always tell people don’t worry about the money or stats for 6 months b/c if you don’t love it you are going to quit so why start lol

  14. Zach @ Milk and Honey Money says

    Im currently working on a new blog (my previous project went down with the google updates) and I know content is very important. I’m finding out it’s tough to write quality content quickly. Any tips for someone starting out blogging with a full time job?

    • says

      I wish I had a shortcut to quality content for you, but unfortunately great content just takes time. Only thing I’ve found that can cut down the time for me is outlining my articles before I write them. I come up with topic first, and then write the titles and subtitles/sections for the article, and then fill in the blanks. When I do that it seems to take less time, but in reality blogging can be a time consuming second job. I know for me my blog is basically my hobby and my second job, taking up much of my free time. Because of that it’s pretty important to enjoy blogging, otherwise you’ll probably burn out pretty quick. Good luck!

      • says

        You had me fooled. I was sure this was your full-time job!

        Good advice on keeping it fun. I’ve heard the burn out rate is very high for bloggers. It’s always a shame coming across a blog that has great information and finding the last article was written years ago.

        Thanks for the reply!

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