I recently celebrated my 6 month “blogiversary”, and I’ve been reflecting on how much I’ve learned and how far I’ve come. Today I thought I’d share the top 15 things I wish I knew before I started blogging. Every week I learn something new, it really is amazing how much is involved in managing a successful blog. I remember reading a few articles like this when I was first launching My Momtastic Life, so I hope you all find this helpful!
1. The quality of your pictures is extremely important.
Okay, I suppose I technically knew about the importance of including good quality pictures in your posts, but I didn’t make it a top priority. This was a huge mistake! Since I’ve upgraded to a nice camera, my posts have taken off in a way that was never possible before. You don’t need to be a professional photographer, but you should strive to be one. Keep taking pictures and playing around with editing until you find a style you like. Simply having a professional camera will do wonders for your posts. If your phone has a decent camera, that will work just fine, but most successful bloggers invest in a nice camera at some point. Stock photos will always work too.
2. Staying organized and planning posts is key to being successful, but it’s ok to stray from your schedule sometimes.
I’m crazy about scheduling and planning things in advance. If I had the time, I would plan out every aspect of my life. It makes me feel good to have everything neatly written out, and the accomplishment I feel when I check things off of lists remains unmatched. It can be a great quality, but it can also cause problems. When something pops up that throws my schedule off track, it can send me into a frenzy. I get overwhelmed and my OCD tendencies come shining through. Recently I’ve realized how important it is to just let those feelings go.
If you miss a day of posting, your followers are not going to hate you. They might not even notice! Unless you’re a big time blogger who’s been posting on the same day every week for years, chances are no one is going to know the difference. Set goals and create a schedule that you stick to 95 percent of the time, but don’t be afraid to push certain posts off, or let creativity take over and write something that wasn’t even on your calendar! (Those tend to be my best posts!)
3. If you’re not active on Instagram, you’re missing out.
Instagram is full of moms, bloggers, businesses, and brands. There is a whole world of opportunity within the app, and if you aren’t active on that platform, you should be! The hashtag system makes it easy to find and connect with people that fall under your target audience, and to meet fellow bloggers. Businesses and brands will contact you to promote products just through Instagram alone based on your follower count, content, and engagement. I created an Instagram account for my blog pretty soon after starting my blog, but I didn’t know what all it had to offer and I wasn’t sure it was even necessary.
4. Connecting with other bloggers is necessary.
I knew this was important when I first launched My Momtastic Life, but I was unsure of how to put myself out there and make it happen. It’s easier than you think and more important than you know! If you’re a stay-at-home-mom like me, reaching out and creating friendships with other women with the same hobby can keep loneliness at bay, and it can lead to some awesome collaborations!
If you’re not sure how to meet other bloggers, I suggest joining Facebook groups and interacting with people on Instagram and Twitter. My personal tip: Shoot for creating bonds with people who are around your level of skill. You can read more about networking and building relationships with other bloggers on my post, “18 Ways To Drive Traffic To Your Blog“.
5. You NEED to be on Pinterest. Period.
I regret all the months I went without utilizing every blogger’s best friend: Pinterest. I constantly hear people say that they need to get around to using it, and I went months without even attempting to promote my posts on there.
Why? When it’s the number one place people go when they’re searching for topics that mom bloggers love to write about, why are so many of us holding off?
Most people are used to using Pinterest as a personal tool to save recipes, DIY ideas, articles, etc. When you think about being on the other side of that – meaning, you’re providing the content that you know people are searching for – it’s extremely nerve-wracking. Writing blog posts is easier because you’re writing for your website, in your element. When you’re on Pinterest, you know the quality of the pins you see everyone sharing, and you know what people are searching for. You have to match that level if you want your pins to grab people’s attention enough to be reshared, unless you’re in a share for share group or you have awesome friends that will repin your posts. And even then, your pin may gain a couple of repins before fizzling out. In order to have a pin go viral, it has to be top notch. Great pictures, captivating title, description, etc.
If you’re looking for a group board to join, you can join me and my favorite blogger friends here.
6. Just dive in.
I’ve talked to several bloggers who put off writing posts because they feel like they need a cohesive theme. You do, but very rarely will you have it down as soon as you start! Your writing, photography and graphic style will all change and evolve as you work. You can’t get better unless you just go for it and start writing and taking pictures! Your niche will narrow itself down as you discover what you enjoy posting about. I wish I would have just kept chugging away instead of spending so much time second guessing myself.
7. If you want to be successful, you need to put a crazy amount of time and effort into blogging.
I thought I could spend a couple of hours making a post and be done with it. Nope! I’m not sure how many hours I spend blogging every week, but it’s more than a full-time job. Any free moment I have, instead of watching TV, I work on the blog. I had no idea what I was getting myself into when I first started, so if you’re thinking about starting one, just be warned that it will take up a lot of your free time. It’s easy to underestimate the amount of time each post will take.
8. Never stop researching.
There’s always something to learn about blogging and social media marketing. Just when you think you have the hang of things, you’ll learn something new. Never stop researching!
9. You need to spend money to make money.
You’ve probably heard this phrase before, and it’s true. I thought I could start a blog for free and money would start rolling in eventually. Unfortunately, that’s just not the case. You can’t have Amazon Affiliate links on a free WordPress blog. People won’t take you as seriously unless you have your own domain name, and you’ll need to invest in a premium theme, trust me. My traffic and subscriber count has tripled since I applied a premium theme from Rhonda Jai.
10. Learn to say no to opportunities that just don’t fit.
I know how it feels when you first start receiving messages from bloggers about collaborations, or brands reaching out to you for sponsored post opportunities, but there will come a time that you’ll have to turn some of them down. It’s nice when you can make some money by posting to promote a product, but you don’t want to promote something that you don’t believe in! It’s not the right thing to do, and your readers will be able to tell. Same thing with collaborations. You don’t want to work with someone when their content isn’t on the same level as yours, no matter how much you like them.
11. Building up your email list is important.
I didn’t spend enough time building up my email list in the beginning, which was a mistake. There’s so much you can do for your subscribers, and it’s a great way to get people back to your site. If you don’t have a subscription sign-up form on your blog, you need to get on it!
12. Your ideas are not new, but that should never stop you from posting.
Yes, there are a million other blogs that are similar to yours. Any post idea you have probably already exists out there. Should that discourage you or stop you from posting? Heck no! Your ideas may not be original, but every post will still be unique because it was written by you. Just go for it. There are thousands, maybe millions of mom blogs out there, which made me feel discouraged at first. But there’s something out there for everybody. There are people out there who are going to like your color scheme, your writing style, your posts. It won’t matter to your readers if there are other articles about the same topic. They’ll want to read your article!
13. You have to have a specific disclaimer on your sidebar or footer of your blog in order to receive a commission from the Amazon Affiliates Program.
I don’t know how I missed this for so long, but I did! Amazon can legally withhold your commission from you when you don’t have this disclaimer displayed on your blog. Thanks to my friend, Corinne from Happiness in Homemaking for bringing this to my attention! You can find it on my sidebar.
14. Start your blog through the web host you really want.
I always wanted to blog using WordPress, but I was intimidated by the interface. So I decided to start up with Wix, which was great for the time being. Wix is probably the easiest platform to navigate because of their drag and drop feature, but I quickly realized how limited their options are. As I learned more about blogging, I wanted to try new things that weren’t available on Wix. If you’re intimidated by WordPress, just give it a little time and you’ll get used to it. It’s not as confusing as you think. Switching from one web host to another is a PAIN. It took me about a month of being on the phone with Hostgator every day before I was able to relaunch my site. So trust me when I say that you should just go ahead and dive in with the web host you ultimately want to use.
15. Old content will continue working for you.
This is one of the greatest things about blogging. I didn’t see it that way when I first started though! If I made a post and it didn’t take off within the first week, I would feel discouraged. Now I’m making money from posts I wrote months ago. Don’t feel bad at all if it takes time for people to click on your affiliate links, it’s bound to happen eventually.
If you’re a blogger, comment below with something you wish you would have known before you started blogging.