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If you’re thinking to start a blog and you’re researching the business of blogging before jumping in, then I applaud you! Reading this post will drastically cut your learning curve down and help you start blogging on a strong foundation.
Liz and I made a lot of blogging mistakes and there was a lot of trial and error to learn this information. I’m excited for you to dive into this information about things to know before starting a blog because I know it will really help you!
1. Be Willing To Spend Money
“Scared money don’t make money.” Billy Napier
I need to tread lightly here with this suggestion. There’s a fine line between spending the money you need to spend vs wild spending that burdens you.
You’ll need to spend money to start and run a self hosted WordPress blog. The biggest expenses are going to be your hosting, domain, graphics, WordPress theme, WordPress plugins, email marketing, and courses.
I recommend that new bloggers use Bluehost because it’s very affordable. Readers of That Blogging Couple can get started with Bluehost for only $2.65/month.
When you find out that you love blogging, you’re making money, and starting to get lots of traffic, you can upgrade to a premium hosting provider like BigScoots. Until then, it doesn’t make sense to pay lots of money for web hosting.
When you sign up with Bluehost, they’ll give you a free domain for the first year. You’ll have to pay for the domain renewal after the first year.
In addition to your blog name, I strongly recommend that you purchase domain privacy and protection. I didn’t purchase this for one of my domains once and I was bombarded with spam. Without this, your domain registration information, like name, address, email address, and phone number, is made public.
There are free and paid WordPress themes. Without question, the paid themes are far superior to the free ones. Free themes are very limited in terms of features and provide no technical support.
Paid themes, on the other hand, are awesome! They come with technical support, a variety of features, regular updates, and quite frankly make your site look so much nicer.
I’ve written about several free and paid themes that I recommend. Check that post out here.
“Give me six hours to chop down a tree, and I will spend the first four sharpening the axe.” Abraham Lincoln
With blogging, you’re embarking on a journey. There’s lots to learn and I want you to take it one step at a time. Liz and I regularly buy courses to learn new things about marketing our blogs. It’s made a huge difference on our earnings.
Because most of our traffic comes from Google and Pinterest, I encourage you to purchase courses that teach these subjects so you can get the most out those platforms.
A great Pinterest course to take is Pinteresting Strategies from Carly Campbell. I will review the course in more detail in the future. It contains tips and advice you won’t hear anywhere else. We’ve seen results quicker and within a few months.
An excellent SEO course to take is SEO Jumpstart from Eb Gargano. It’s jam packed with little nuggets. I learned a lot and I’m sure you will too. You’ll learn what the search engines are looking for, how to do keyword research, how to properly set up the Yoast plugin, and more!
Plugins add functionality to your site and I use several free and paid plugins. The paid ones that I recommend are WP Rocket and Imagify. These two plugins will improve your website’s site speed, which is something Google is looking for.
If you’re thinking of making a purchase and not sure if you should purchase it or not, feel free to comment below, contact me, or post in our community Facebook group.
Oh Canva Pro, where would I be without you? A big part of blogging is graphics. You’ll want to include graphics in your content to make them easier to read for your users. As a Canva Pro member you have access to so many stock images.
Every time I publish a new blog post, Liz creates a pin image for the post. These pin images are created with Canva Pro. I suggest trying out the free version of Canva and see if you like it before upgrading to Canva Pro.
There are lots of email marketing providers out there to choose from. I’ve tried Mailchimp, AWeber, ConvertKit, and Mailerlite. Mailerlite is by far my favorite.
I find that it is very affordable, has excellent customer service, and is easy to use. It’s free for your first 1,000 subscribers. Once you have more than 1,000 subscribers, you’ll only pay $10/month. Sign up for Mailerlite here.
2. Realistic Expectations
In all the years I’ve been blogging, I’ve noticed that there are lots of people that want to start a blog because they think they’re going to get rich quick. This is not to say that there isn’t money in blogging because that’s not true.
Blogging is more of a marathon than a sprint. This is one of the most important things to know before starting a blog. A more true statement would be that with blogging you could get rich slowly. The reason I share this is because I want to help you understand that it will take time to reach your goals as a blogger.
3. Pick The Right Platform From The Get-Go
I’ve used the WordPress.com, WordPress.org, and Blogger platforms. For one of our blogs, we started with Blogger and then moved to WordPress.org.
Migrating the site wasn’t very fun. Unless you’re made of money and you want to pay your host to move the site for you, you’ll probably migrate the site yourself.
I believe that WordPress.org is the best blogging platform. It’s the go to platform for the majority of bloggers.
4. Pick A Niche
Other than this blog, Liz and I have a fashion blog and a lifestyle blog. The fashion blog is far more successful than the lifestyle blog.
We started the fashion blog before the lifestyle one and thought that with all of our knowledge it would be more successful and grow faster.
This hasn’t been the case and it taught us about how important it is to build niche sites instead of broad general sites that cover a multitude of topics.
I’ve covered this topic in depth on this post and I really recommend you read it before you build your own blog because it’s another of the most important things to know before starting a blog. Picking a niche will give your blog a great foundation that you can build on.
5. Build An Email List
As you start blogging, you’ll inevitably hear that “the money is in the list.” This quote is referring to an email list of subscribers.
An email list is something you truly own that’s not subject to constant algorithm changes. You’ll use your email list to update your subscribers about new blog posts and sell them courses if you end up creating those.
Keep this in mind when you build your blog. You’ll want to make sure that your blog has several opt-in boxes where people enter in their name and email address.
I always have one below every post, in the right sidebar, and have one set to pop up when my site determines that a reader is about to leave the site. This kind of pop up is called an exit intent pop up. It’s basically my last chance to add someone to my list before I don’t see them again.
6. Learn Search Engine Optimization (SEO)
I blogged for several years before I ever learned any SEO. Looking back, I wish I would have started learning it from the beginning or had someone tell me about it.
SEO refers to all the little things you do that make your website and blog posts discoverable by both search engines and everyone that uses them for information.
It can be a tremendous source of traffic to your blog. This traffic is free, converts well, and gives you the highest ad earnings. You’d be making a mistake to miss out on this.
I’ve written a very in depth beginner’s guide to SEO that I highly suggest reading. You can find it here. If you find any of the SEO concepts to be confusing and need some help, reach out to me. I’m happy to help! This is one of the best things to know before starting a blog
7. Use Pinterest
Pinterest is our largest source of traffic and I’m willing to bet it will be yours as well. There’s a lot of bad Pinterest marketing tips out there. I’d like to save you from making the same mistakes we made when we first started.
Take Carly’s course that I recommended above and start your account out right from the very beginning. In her course, you’ll learn how to do keyword research for Pinterest, how often to pin, what to pin, and a whole lot more!
8. Monetize Your Blog
Gurus are recommending all kinds of weird stuff when it comes to monetizing your blog. Ultimately, you should do what feels best to you.
I personally monetize all of our blogs from the very beginning. Our blogs are monetized with affiliate links and ads. As a beginner, you’ll want to join the Ezoic ad network. Learn more about the Ezoic ad network here.
One of the easiest affiliate programs to use is the Amazon Associates program. I would start with that one. Once you’re comfortable with it, you can add more programs like Reward Style.
9. Don’t Get Distracted
On your quest to get more traffic and make more money with your blog, you’re probably going to suffer from shiny object syndrome. If you know about it, you can be aware of it and recognize distractions when they come up.
The biggest problem with shiny object syndrome is that it consumes your time and gets in the way of you doing the things that actually move the needle for your business.
These things are called income producing activities and this is what you want to spend all your time doing. They include writing new blog posts and marketing those posts.
I believe everything that I’ve listed in this post will give you the right roadmap to follow. If you have any questions about this post and things to know before starting a blog, feel free to comment below. I’d love to hear from you!
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