10 things you NEED to know before you start a blog

Thinking of becoming a blogger?

I’m so glad I started a blog. I’ve learnt new skills, made new friends and earned money doing something I love.

However, there are some things I know now I’ve been blogging for over a year that I wish I had known before starting a blog.

This post is a list of things you should know before starting a blog. This also includes what 14 bloggers would tell themselves before they starting a blog, so you can learn from the best and get good advice before you even start!

So here it is- 10 things you need to know before starting a blog.

(If you need help starting your own blog, check out my ultimate how to start a blog guide for beginners to have your own blog up and running in less than an hour!)

Want to start a blog? Click to read 10 tips you need before you start a blog, or re-pin for inspo later.

WHAT YOU NEED TO KNOW BEFORE STARTING A BLOG

1. BLOGGING TAKES UP MORE TIME THAN YOU EXPECT 

This is not to scare you away from blogging, but before starting a blog you need to have a realistic mindset.

Lisa of A Country Girl’s Life would tell herself:

“What I did not initially realize is blogging is a 40+ hour a week job if you’re doing it right. It’s something nobody talks about. If your not working on your blog you need to be learning new things to make it even better.”

And Debbie from The Flooring Girl says:

“I would tell myself to be patient and that everything, and I mean everything, will take at least 2 to 3 times longer than you think it will. It will take longer to earn money than you think it will, or to write blog posts or for you to master SEO or pinterest or whatever. Don’t underestimate this, and plan ahead from both a time and income/savings perspective.”

I think most bloggers make the mistake of underestimating how long blogging tasks take. I’m constantly thinking “oh, writing this post will only take about an hour!”. Then once I’ve finished it it’s taken double, maybe triple the time I expected.

You should know before starting a blog that you need to set more time aside for blogging than you think you will. It’s always better to think something to take forever and then completing it quicker than you predicted than the other way round!

2. IF YOU WANT IT TO BE A BUSINESS, YOU NEED A BUSINESS STRATEGY

Lots of people start a blog because they want to make money, and this is understandable. Blogging can be a very profitable business!

However, if you want to make money you should know before starting a blog that there’s a difference between blogging as a business and blogging as a hobby. And if you want to make your blog a successful business, you need a business plan or strategy.

Yuwanda blogs at Inkwell Editorial. Before starting her blog, if she could she’d tell herself this:

“I’d have a business plan for my blog. I think a lot of bloggers start without a defined plan for how they’re going to monetise. It doesn’t have to be “Harvardesque”, but should answer basic questions like who your target audience is, the type of content you’re going to create, how often, in what format (e.g, podcast, webinar, etc), and how you’re going to grow your mailing list. By starting out knowing how you’re going to monetise, you’ll reach goals much faster than just trying to figure it out as you go along.”

Jeff from Dollar Sprout would tell himself a similar thing:

“I wish I would have focused more on defining my path to earning revenue and taking the steps to get there, rather than approach blogging with a ‘more is better’ mindset. When I was just starting out, I incorrectly assumed that simply writing more content, posting more often on social, etc, was the key to success. In reality, the thing holding us back wasn’t volume, it was our own skills and strategy.”

I definitely agree with the above statements, and as Yuwanda says, it doesn’t have to be fancy! But having some sort of plan and strategy before starting a blog will ensure you stay on track.

3. INVEST IN YOUR BUSINESS WHERE YOU CAN

You absolutely do not need to spend loads of money to make money when it comes to blogging. However, investing in your business where you can will result in your blog becoming more successful more quickly.

Tiffany from Damn Good Mom explains this perfectly:

“I’d tell myself to invest in a quality course as soon as affordable. Free content is good but organised lessons from people who are trustworthy and successful are extremely valuable and saves you time.”

She adds:

 “Also, have patience because while some people make thousands in a few months, it usually takes much more time and consistent effort. Those six-figure blogger income reports are great inspiration but they started at zero too. Enjoy the journey.”

Karen from Marketing Words has similar advice when it comes to investing:

“I’d tell the former me, “Don’t be afraid to invest in yourself and your business.” I tried to do everything myself for years because it would save money. For example, having a new page, opt-in form, funnel set up for my blog might have cost $100. Back then, I would have spent hours trying to figure out all the bits and pieces, and still not gotten it right. If I paid a pro the $100, that would have left me several hours to work on making money. The results of my efforts (depending on what I was doing) would likely bring in 5x or even 10x that amount. When you do the math, it’s a no-brainer to outsource.”

I’m a do-it-yourself kinda gal because I love saving money, but I agree that investing in experts will provide you with knowledge or services you couldn’t get by yourself!

4. BE CAREFUL WHERE YOU INVEST YOUR MONEY

Carrying on from the point above, whilst it’s important to invest in a business to make it grow, it’s even more important to invest it where it matters most. Don’t go buying every online course or e-book promising to help you make money blogging tomorrow, because the reality is only you can make your blog make money tomorrow.

Holly from Club Thrifty cautions new bloggers:

“I wish I had known that 50% of the experts sharing information about blogging are just trying to sell me something. There are excellent courses out there for sure, but you really do have to weed through it all to figure out what is fake and what is real.”

I speak from experience when I say that I have a bit of a blog course addiction, but many of them weren’t what they had promised. That’s why I only promote courses I love and work hard to make sure my content is beneficial to you!

5. WRITE SEO OPTIMISED POSTS BEFORE YOU LAUNCH

Having posts written before starting a blog is essential. I made the mistake of not having any, and felt I was constantly playing catch up trying to write posts since. Plus, if someone visits your blog and you only have one post, there’s nothing else for them to read!

Sarah from I Heart Frugal also thinks you should have posts ready before starting a blog:

“I would tell my former blogger self to have at least ten posts ready before setting up my blog. I started with zero and quickly realized this is a mistake. There are so many things to learn when you first start blogging and having those post ready would have given me time and less stress. Plus, if you publish five to start with you will have more content for your readers if someone does happen to stumble upon your blog in those starting days.”

You should also really focus on making sure these post are search engine optimised. I and many other bloggers only start learning about SEO once we’ve started blogging and have published a few posts. If you want to get traffic easily from Google, make sure to learn SEO from the start!

Sara from Gathering Dreams wishes she had focused on SEO before blogging too:

“I wish I read a bit more about SEO at the beginning of my journey. Before launching my blog I wrote 20 posts but none of them were optimized for Google. I am getting great traffic from Pinterest but I am at the mercy of algorithm changes. Learn how to diversify your traffic and invest time creating amazing content that will rank well in Google from day 1!”

Learn from our mistakes and have a few SEO optimised posts before you hit that launch button!

6. REMEMBER YOUR AUDIENCE

This separates a blog that’s a hobby from a blog that’s a business. When you blog for fun, you write what you want to write about. And whilst you should always write about what you love, when you blog for business it’s essential to write for an audience. In particular, you need to think about problems your audience needs solved if you want people to read your posts.

This is what Tanya from Flow Benjamins would tell herself before starting her blog:

“Make sure to solve someone else’s problem. Find your audience’s pain points (debt, extra income, weight loss) and solve it with your posts and affiliates. You will see results from that much faster than a blog you’re writing for your own enjoyment. I refer to the life changing events which led to my starting a blog in my first post and in my about section but every other post is solving a problem for my readers and subscribers.”

Think about it- people are only searching for things because they need answers. So make sure your posts provide the answers they’re after!

7. GETTING TRAFFIC TAKES TIME AND WORK

I thought as soon as I shared a blog post people would just read my blog. It’s a mistake lots of new bloggers make, and why it’s on my list of things you need to know before you start a blog.

Getting traffic to your blog takes work! Even with optimising your blog posts to rank on Google, getting blog traffic takes time and effort.

Rhoda blogs at Rhoda Design Studio, and wishes she knew this:

“I would tell myself that it isn’t a “build it and they will come” endeavour. Generating traffic takes time. I switched topics a few times because I thought I wasn’t “qualified” enough to talk about the subject and that no one was reading it because it sucked. No one was even visiting my site to read it because they didn’t even know it was there! Learn how to get the word out there about your blog.”

Lesson learnt; do not wait for people to find your blog. You have to give it to them. And it ain’t easy!

8. DIVERSIFY, DIVERSIFY, DIVERSIFY

You might think to be a successful blogger you need to focus on something and stick to it. The reality is actually the opposite.

Before you start a blog you should know being diverse and trying new things will make your blog grow and be more successful than if you just stuck to one thing.

Tracie from Tracie Forbes learnt this the hard way:

“I would tell myself not to put all of my eggs in one basket. That means you need to diversify. I say this when it comes to both traffic and income. For instance, I focused heavily on affiliate marketing with one partner and that was all I did. They decided it was too much revenue for them to pay out and slashed my income by 75%, virtually overnight.
This is also true with social media. When you rely on someone else to show your content to others and get you traffic, you set yourself up for failure. All too often new bloggers want to do only one type of income stream or use just one social media platform. You are setting yourself up for failure in doing so.”

This is a mistake I’ve made myself; I currently only have a Pinterest account for my blog. What if Pinterest suddenly decides to close up?! Even writing this has scared me, because I get nearly all my traffic from Pinterest. (Time to make a Facebook page I think!).

9. STAY PATIENT AND MOTIVATED

Blogging is hard. Harder than I thought it was going to be, and it took a one failed blog and one re-brand of this blog before I started to get consistent blog traffic or make any money.

In the beginning you’re going to be putting in work without the promise of getting anything out if it. Which is why it’s so important to stay motivated.

This is what Jason who blogs at The Butler Journal would tell himself:

“Nobody is reading your blog in the beginning. You have to keep at it though. If you’re providing value with your content, you will get readers.”

Find whatever motivates you and use it to stay focused when blogging gets tough.

10. START YOUR BLOG TODAY!

Now you have an idea of what blogging is really about. The last thing you should know before starting a blog is you need to start it now!

There’s no time like the present, and a common regret of bloggers (including myself) is not starting sooner.

Melody from Happy Mindshift is all the motivation you need to start your blog today:

“My tip about starting a blog is to just start it. Go live and start writing and posting content now! You will never be an expert but if you keep learning, you will increase your skills and you will improve. Things are continuously changing and we try to keep up but if you wait until things are perfect, you will never start. Just begin and tweak things as you go. Work on making forward progress.”

I wish someone had said this to me before starting my blog. I’m such a perfectionist, I spent days designing my logo for my first blog, and now that blog doesn’t even exist! So much time wasted.

I’m getting better at not doubting myself and just going for it, and you should try too. As Melody said, if you want until things are perfect to start your blog… Well you’ll never one.

Thinking of starting a blog? Click to read what you need to know before you start blogging, or re-pin for inspo later.

So now that you have a realistic idea of blogging and what you need to know before starting a blog, what are you waiting for? Check out my ultimate how to start a blog guide and start your blog today!

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