10 Things New Bloggers Needn’t Concern Themselves With
Blogging is not a quick win. You’re highly unlikely to be making good money in less than a year, so it’s best to assume it’ll take a year (and that’s just to get the traffic, not the actual cash in the bank).
And if you’re an overnight success, that’s just the icing on the cake.
Despite knowing it’ll take a while, human nature dictates that we must try to hack our way to success, using social media, Pinterest, schedulers, lead magnets, yada yada yada.
I’m picked a bit of a bizarre one to start with but for good reason — so many people are confused by what tags are and how to use them.
Most potential bloggers have basic knowledge of social media, affiliate marketing, and all that other good stuff, but they’re suddenly thrust into a world where the word ‘tags’ crops up more than you’d think possible.
Let me just put your mind at ease: you don’t need to worry about tags.
On WordPress, you can use tags in the same way we use them here on Medium — as a way to search for content. They’re basically hashtags.
We don't use them on blogs any more. Search software has advanced in such a way that it isn’t necessary for most websites.
Just as you thought I’d cleared that up, there’s another set of tags you need to know about and these are more important.
They’re the H1, H2 (etc, all the way to H6) and they’re nothing to do with search (on your end anyway), they’re for formatting.
Many bloggers are OBSESSED with making sure all 6 tags are used, but trust me, you’ll probably only ever need to use Hs 1–3.
H1 is your title. You should only ever have one.
H2 are your subheadings.
H3 can break your subheadings into smaller subheadings.
If you need more subheadings past that, just bold them.
And before you think I’m weird for even including this, blogging subreddits can debate the use of H tags for HOURS, but I really don’t think Google cares.
It’s great to practise to use long-tail keywords in your H2 tags, but they’re really just there to give your reader a great user experience.
2. Social Media
If you love social media and have a large following, then go ahead and keep sharing your stuff.
But if, like a lot of us, you’re starting from 0 you absolutely don’t need to waste all your energy building it up.
That energy is better spent churning out articles on your blog.
I’m not saying that social media isn’t a great way to get traffic — it can be. But if you wait until you have organic traffic, then you can build up your social media channels more quickly.
Social media changes all the time, and it’s a full-time job (literally) posting to all the relevant channels. Once you get into a groove, they go and change the algorithm again.
Even with all the free schedulers that are available, it can suck up hours from your workweek — largely unnecessarily.
Concentrate on getting organic traffic first, and then build your social media after. Since a lot of readers go and find bloggers on Instagram after reading an article they like, you can build your following more organically (and probably authentically) this way.
If you’ve read any of my other articles here on Medium, you’ll know my feelings on Pinterest. Treat it like a social media platform and wait until you have organic traffic first (though I do set a pin as my featured image because if Pinterest actually comes through its promise of being a search engine, I’ll be ready to go).
I know that’s it’s hard to check your stats and see a big fat zero, but just…get used to it.
I started two other blogs in April and one of them is still sitting pretty at 0 pageviews a day (I get maybe 15 a month) because it’s an incredibly competitive topic. It has the potential to be lucrative though, so I’m just getting the domain age with 40 or so posts on, and concentrate on the other one. I’ve stopped checking it.
That one is at about the 3,000 pageviews per month stage, and it’s pretty exciting. It’s has made me £0 so far, but it’s growing steadily.
If you have high quality, USEFUL content then traffic will come.
Don’t set goals in terms of traffic, because you can’t control it. Your goals should all be measured by how much work you put into your blog, so ‘100 articles by Christmas’ rather than ‘1000 daily pageviews by Christmas’.
4. Taking good photographs
Google, as far as I’m aware, doesn’t really care how beautiful and well-lit your pictures are. All it cares about is that they’re helpful to your user — whether that’s to illustrate a point or just break up the text a bit.
Google can tell if you’ve used stock photos or your own though, so a quick, crappy snap on your phone (it takes seconds to airdrop it to your laptop) may be a more Google-friendly option.
I use a mixture of stock and my own images because I’m a truly terrible photographer. I do want to learn eventually, but I prioritised learning how to use Canva over becoming a master photographer. Perhaps in the new year.
Think about YouTube. A lot of fulltime YouTubers have great, high-quality videography. We probably wouldn’t watch if they didn’t. But if we’re looking for more informational content (rather than for entertainment) we care less about the production quality — we just want the content. The same rules apply to websites.
Besides, there’s nothing to stop you going back and replacing all the crappy images once you have some money to invest in a photography course.
5. Investing in your blog
Bar paying for a domain name and web hosting, I don’t think new bloggers need to invest any money into their sites. My website is making a full-time income (albeit a smallish one) and I haven’t bought anything other than those two things.
I think it’s difficult to tell what you need to invest in until you have traffic. A user may give you a great idea for a paid product you could sell, or you may want to further your education in some area (like a paid photography course). Perhaps affiliate income is doing better than you expected and you need a paid affiliate plugin.
You can’t just throw money at software and plugins and hope it’ll speed up your success. Wait until you know what will either help you make money or save you time.
6. Getting backlinks
I’m 100% NOT saying that backlinks aren’t helpful — they can be. But they’re also a common spammy tactic and Google is pretty picky about them.
I just think that there are better things you could be doing with your time. If you write good content, people will naturally link to it in time.
7. Creating a community
Don’t worry if you don’t get any blog comments or people into your Facebook group or whatever. Like social media, the community aspect of blogging tends to build after you start getting organic traffic, and it’s higher quality/less spammy.
Join Facebook groups and subreddits in your niche, by all means. They can be a great source of ideas for articles and (if you’re allowed) to ask questions and collate responses into stats you can use (which in turn could attract backlinks).
You should consider how you’re going to monetise right from the start.
In order to get started on my multi-website empire (SOON), I decided that my first website needed to be monetised through passive means (ads and affiliates). That way, I could concentrate on building up my other sites without having to spend too much time on upkeep.
You may want to sell a product or service — so you won’t need as much traffic to make a living. It’ll not only affect your content strategy, but it’ll also mean you won’t need to worry about things like user location (unlike that someone that relies on ads, who needs to target US traffic).
So consider monetisation from day one, but don’t implement it. Why? Well, it’s disappointing making no money, plus some affiliate programmes chuck you out if you haven’t made X amount of money in a certain timeframe, and it’ll be a ballache having to go through and update all your links with a new ID (if you’re allowed to reapply).
9. Web Design
Your website needs to be clean, clear, and quick. In the beginning, nothing else really matters. Pick a theme, make yourself a text logo in Canva, and move on to creating content.
You need a lot of white space. Format your text properly and add in pictures to break up the text. No flashing banners, and keep your sidebar free of clutter.
Make sure your font is about 18px, and that your theme is optimised for mobile.
Site speed is more difficult to control, but I do have a few tips (all free apart from the hosting):
- Go with a non-EIG host. I use Siteground, and whilst their hosting does go up after a year, it’s super fast compared to similarly-priced hosts, even at the renewal price. This will have the biggest effect on Siteground
- Choose a fast theme, like Generatepress
- Use a caching plugin, like WP Supercache
- Use optimising plugins that can get optimise images and delete old drafts etc. I use Siteground’s SG Optimizer and Autoptimise
- Avoid heavy plugins. I got rid of Jetpack and MonsterInsights. Comment plugins are also notoriously slow, so use native WordPress comments.
- Ads will ALWAYS slow your site, due to the way they work. My site speed is pretty crap in tests because I run ads. But because I use Mediavine, the ads loading doesn’t impact how quickly the content loads, so it’s not annoying to the reader (the speed — the ads probably are!). So think twice before adding AdSense to get that sweet £2.00 a month.
10. Lead magnets
Yes, you should build an email list. Yes, a lead magnet is a great way to do this BUT it’s a hell of a time suck, plus there’s no point wasting your time on creating a lead magnet when you only have a handful of visitors a day.
By all means, brainstorm a few ideas, but don’t waste time on them until you have traffic.
I still don’t have a lead magnet for my email list. I still get signups. And it means I don’t have to enable double opt-ins (a lot of people give fake email addresses so site owners force them to confirm an email address) because there’s no incentive to opt-in (unless you actually WANT to hear about how my plants are doing).
So, that’s what you don’t need to do. What should you be doing?
Keyword research and writing articles. Keep up to date with trends in your niche. Rinse and repeat. Aaaaaaaand…that’s it.