I’m hoping that this’ll be a bit different from the usual ‘I didn’t build my email list soon enough’ bullshit.
I’ve been doing this a long time, and whilst blogging is absolutely a long game type of deal, it really didn’t need to be as long as I made it.
I concentrated on all the wrong things, annoyingly because other bloggers told me to.
They didn’t tell me how setting up email providers and landing pages and pop-ups would make me cry because I have no technical expertise in such things, and no money to pay someone else to do it for me.
Anyway, let’s crack on.
1 — I waited too long to start
You need to start as soon as you have an idea.
Write down 100 ideas for blog posts.
Get yourself a domain name and hosting if you have the money.
Fire up wordpress.com if you don’t.
Start now. Maybe finish reading this first so you don’t accidentally spend £1000 on a course that’ll promise to make you a blogging magnate in three months.
2 — I had an ad-hoc approach to keywords
I write about topics that I thought people would be searching for, which was fine. Unfortunately, a thousand other people had written about them first.
For example, on my vegan blog, I wrote about how to get protein, tips for going vegan etc, and surely that was fine?
People were searching for those topics.
But my teeny blog wouldn't show up until about page 5 of Google — giants of both the health and fitness industries obviously dominated here.
I needed to niche down further.
Ten tips for intermittent fasting as a vegan.
High protein and iron vegan meal prep in one hour.
Vegan breakfasts for weight loss
You get the idea.
There were also the posts I write that literally no one on earth gave a shit about, such as my vegan journey.
That’s an idea for a YouTuber that already has a few thousand subscribers, not a crappy new blog in some dark corner of the internet.
I thought keyword research was something I needed to invest money in. Something that could wait until my blog started making money.
Just spend an hour (or, you know, a day) on Google or Quora and see what questions people are asking in your niche and make a list of the ones that aren’t adequately answered.
(I say ‘just’ like it’s easy. It’s not. And it can take hours before you find a keyword you can rank for. But it’s free, and yields results.)
Keyword tools are not 100% accurate. How can they be? Google won’t share their stats. It’s just an educated guess.
3 — I was impatient
I didn’t want to wait for Google. So I invested time and money in Pinterest growth strategies.
I spent hours looking for guest post opportunities that were a waste of time.
I commented on every blog I could find.
You’re probably sick of me telling you that you’ll just have to wait, but you will. Those couple of hundred views you can hack your way to are unlikely to real engaged readers.
We all want to be that one genius that defies the status quo and goes viral overnight with ten posts.
And you might be. But you need to be prepared not to be.
You know, just in case.
4 — I tried to do too much too soon
There seems to be so much to do in your first few months of creating a blog.
- Start a mailing list
- Create an opt-in and landing page to get people to sign up. You know, just something easy like a 20,000-word ebook, an e-course or an innovative, never seen before digital download 🙄
- Learn Canva and make 3 pins for every post. And a description optimie for Pinterest SEO, which is apparently different from Google SEO
- Create a Facebook group. Get 1000 members in a week.
- And maybe a YouTube channel? That’s super easy and takes seconds
- Either spend hours a day on Pinterest or drop £100 on Tailwind that requires hours of strategy research, all for Pinterest to ban you for accidental dodgy behaviour
- Buy a course or two
- Create a course or two
Just concentrate on getting content on your blog.
If you’re in a position to work full time on your blog, then absolutely do whatever you can. But if you’re working full time and then trying to do everything on your blog at once, this will lead you to burn out.
Unless you’re superhuman.
Because not one of them can guarantee you results. Promise.
5 — I thought spending money would yield results
You have to spend money to make money, right?
It’s true, for the most part, and I absolutely recommend that you reinvest money back into your business.
The trouble with bloggers is that they’re never done with recommending courses or ebooks or software that you just don’t need early in the game.
Affiliate programmes have skewed their advice.
I bought a Pinterest course, and whilst I think it was good, it wasn’t necessary, and it didn’t give me results because as much as it tries to keep up with the Pinterest algorithm, it just can’t. Pinterest prefers manual pinners and likes new content. End of.
6 — I looked for signs of progress in the wrong places
It’s great (common) advice that you shouldn’t look at your stats more than once a month.
I check mine multiple times a day. It’s just the kind of person that I am. I hate secrets and I’m very nosey. Imagine if I went viral and didn’t know?
If you’re like me (and I refuse to believe that people out there can go a whole DAY without checking their stats, never mind a month), don’t worry.
You can check your stats as often as you like, just don’t get discouraged by low numbers.
Don’t measure the success of your blog by your stats.
Oh, and don’t measure your success by how long you’ve spent on your blog because you can easily spend a whole day tweaking colours on your blog and feeling accomplished when realistically you haven’t really done anything constructive.
Measure your success by how much content you’ve added to your blog. Make it a goal to add three pieces of content a week (or whatever you can manage) to your site.
Anything else (research, email lists, whatever) comes after you’ve written your articles.
I say this as someone that used to have a ‘productive’ day sitting on the sofa watching blogging videos on YouTube. That’s just procrastinating and needs to be done on your own time.
I’m not saying it’s not necessary or useful, just that it’s not the priority.
7 — I copied what other people did
We’re not talking about plagiarism here, I just copied their process. I bought the ebook, created the pins, filled up the scheduler and waited.
And then cried when all I heard was crickets.
Which didn’t work, because you need to forge your own path. If you don’t enjoy writing and want to make money quickly then blogging isn’t for you.
All the income reports that apparently tell you EXACTLY how I made £1000 in 90 days remain a mystery to me.
Seriously, how are they doing it? I assume they have a lot more money to chuck at it than I do. They can afford VAs, web designers, freelance writers, and £30 a month on ConvertKit. No ta.
8 — I believed everything more seasoned bloggers told me
That I needed a premium theme. That I could skyrocket my traffic with Pinterest. That I needed an email list.
IT’S ALL BOLLOCKS, DESIGNED TO GENERATE AFFILIATE INCOME
We believe them because in one sentence they’re telling us not to promote anything we don’t believe in, and in the next, they’re recommending us something that will change our life.
I’m not saying that they don’t believe in the products they’re promoting, or that the products are crap. I’m just saying that the products aren’t necessary to new bloggers that aren’t yet established.
If you’re making money from something, it’s difficult to be impartial.
Jesus Christ I wish I’d learned that sooner.
I could have saved so much time trying to work out why I wasn’t getting the traffic I was promised.
I wasn’t getting traffic because I hadn’t earned it. I didn’t have enough content and hadn’t learned how to implement SEO properly.
Which leads me to number 9:
9 — I overthought SEO
If you’re new to blogging, you don’t need a course on SEO. I’m going to tell everything a beginner needs to know about SEO right now:
- Get a caching plugin, resize your pictures in Canva, and have as few plugins as possible to make your site load as quickly as possible quickly. If you can’t afford a premium theme, look for a free one that prioritises speed. I like Kale. It’s basic as hell, but it’s pretty fast.
- Don’t have ads when you’re starting out. It puts Google off, which isn’t worth it when you don’t have the traffic to make any money off ads anyway. Do you really need that 31p a month?
- Format your posts properly: a lot of white space, and subheadings that people are searching for. For example, in my blog post on philodendron care, I have subheadings like ‘how much light does a philodendron need?’.
- Link to more authoritative sites than yours, that may be of interest to your reader. Be helpful. You don’t really want them all to click away, so don’t make a big deal about highlighting your link, but you want the people that are interested to be able to find what they’re looking for.
That’s really it. There’s loads of technical SEO stuff out there, but don’t bog yourself down with it. in order to impress Google, you simply need to provide the user with the information they’re looking for. And forget about building backlinks. That’s so 2017.
10 — You should be enjoying yourself
Otherwise, why bother?
If you’re not, and you feel like you’re not making any of the other mistakes, then maybe consider either quitting or changing your niche. Leave your first blog up though, if it has a decent amount of content. It may just need time to get going.
You can absolutely have multiple niches (I have a post on this here), and be an expert in all of them.
I hope you found this helpful. At least, more helpful than all the other posts that berate you for not starting your email list sooner.
All that crap can wait for at least 6 months. Maybe longer.