15 Things I Wish I Knew When I Started Blogging

Daniel

start bloggingI built my first blog back in 2005, and today a large part of my online income is generated from my blogs. Over these years I made many mistakes and figured some things out. Below you’ll find 15 of them.

1. The domain name matters

When I started blogging I didn’t pay much attention to the domains of my blogs. As a result I ended up with some long and boring domains (e.g., FutureTechWeb.com, which was my first tech blog). This is a big mistake because the domain is one of the few factors you won’t be able to change.

The rule of thumb I use these days is to look for domains with two words, branding potential and a .com extension. If I wanted to start a soccer blog, for instance, I would consider domains such as SoccerHub.com, SuperSoccer.com and so on. Most of the times I am also willing to spend some money on the domain (e.g., $200-$500), because finding available ones that fit the above requirements is tough.

2. Quality is more important than quantity

As you can guess by the name of this blog, I have always been a big fan of quantity when it comes to content creation. Over the years, however, my opinion has changed a bit.

I still believe that you need to update your blog regularly if you want it to be come popular, but quality should be your first priority. If you only have two hours to spend writing content every week, for example, I would recommend you to spend all the time writing a single, high quality post, instead of writing four small posts to be published on different days.

3. It is about the readers, and not about yourself

If you are blogging as a hobby, then writing about whatever you feel like is fine. If you are trying to build a popular blog and to eventually make money with it, however, you need to be more conscious about the type of content you’ll publish.

More specifically you need to understand that your content should be appealing and interesting to your readers above all, and not to yourself. It’s about them, and not about you.

4. Social media can be a waste of time, too

Social media certainly became a buzz word over the past years, and people seem to think that they need to have a presence and be active on every single social media site out there. I joined the bandwagon for a while, but then realized I was just wasting my time.

I am not saying social media is useless, but that you need to have the right approach to it, else you’ll just waste your time. For instance, instead of joining every single social network out there join one or two at most, where you think your target readers/customers hang out, and where you think you’ll be able to add value and build real relationships.

5. The Pareto principle applies to anything, blogging included

I have a degree in Economics, so I learned about the Pareto principle years ago. It basically states that for many events and things in life, 80% of the effects come from 20% of the causes. For example, 80% of the land in the world is owned by 20% of the people, and 80% of the revenues on most companies come from 20% of the customers.

After some years I realized that the Pareto principle also applies to blogging. This means that 80% of your results (e.g., traffic or revenue gains) will come from 20% of your blogging activities. What are these activities? Writing quality content and promoting that content. If you focus on these, the rest will come naturally.

6. You need a community around your blog

Apart from writing quality content and promoting that content, there is one more activity that is very important for your blog, and that is community building. It’s important because without a community your blog will not be a blog, but rather a website with some articles.

Your community will enrich your content (through comments and email feedback), keep you motivated, help to promote your blog by spreading the word and so on.

Practically speaking this means that you should engage your readers with your content (e.g., by using polls, surveys, asking questions and so on), and that you should interact with them as often as possible (e.g., via comments, email, Twitter and so on).

7. Having an email list is essential

When I started, around 5 years ago, I didn’t know what email marketing was. After two years or so I started joining the email list of other marketers, but until then I had not considered building my own.

It was a big mistake.

A responsive email list is one of the most valuable assets you can have. And mind you that you won’t be using it to spam people, but rather to deliver quality content that will solidify your relationship with your subscribers.

8. Giving away free stuff works like a charm

Over the years I have tried many types of promotions, from interviews to viral videos and linkbaits. One technique always seemed to work, though, and it was giving away free stuff.

I have given away WordPress themes, ebooks, plugins, and more recently my entire Internet marketing training program, and the results I got always exceeded my expectations. If I knew this back in the day I would have used it more often.

9. You need to think about the business model

If you want to make money with your blog, you need to start thinking about your business model right away. That is, you need to have an idea or a plan regarding how you’ll produce value, and how you are going to get paid for that.

Having this clear in your mind will help you craft your content, target the right readers, design your blog around your goals and so on.

10. Selling ads is not the best business model

When people start blogging they believe that the best, if not the only way to make money with it is by selling ads. This is not true.

Selling ads might be the easiest way to make money with a blog, but it’s definitely not the most profitable one.

On most niches selling your own product will be the most profitable model you can have, followed by selling other people’s products (i.e., affiliate marketing), so make sure to consider these at least.

11. Shared hosting sucks

When I started my first blogs I obviously went with a shared hosting plan, and since I couldn’t compare it with anything else I thought it was a decent option.

A couple of years later I moved to a dedicated server, and only then I realized how bad shared hosting plans are. The slow loading speeds, the downtimes, the security holes created by other users on your server….

I know we all must start on shared hosting, but as soon as your blog start making some money (e.g., $300 per month or so), consider investing half of that into a dedicated server.

12. Checking your stats daily is pointless

When you build your first website or blog you start checking your stats at least daily (some people go further and check them hourly….). Every new visitor is a joy, and a sign that you are doing something right.

The problem with this is that you are wasting time. Every minute you spending checking your stats is one fewer minute you have to work on actually get more visitors. On top of that daily fluctuations might give you the wrong idea of what is going on.

My advice would be to check your stats monthly.

13. It takes persistence

Everything happens really fast on the Internet, and when you start building your first websites you figure that they will sky rocket (both in terms of traffic and revenues) within a couple of months.

The reality is quite the opposite. While it’s possible, very few websites become popular or profitable before one or two years. If you want to play the game, therefore, come with the right expectations, else you’ll get frustrated and quit too soon.

14. Choosing the right niche is important

Choosing the right niche is critical if you want your blog to become popular and profitable. Sure, you should follow your passion (as you probably heard around…), but you should also make sure your niche is big enough to generate the kind of revenues you are aiming for.

Also remember that some niches will always be more profitable than others, regardless of their sizes. That is because people inside those niches actually buy stuff, so money circulates more freely.

15. Learning the technical part helps a lot

The Internet technology has advanced so much that today anyone can build a blog or website in 5 minutes, with no technical knowledge whatsoever. As long as you know how to read, you are good to go.

This is certainly a positive thing, as it democratizes the access to information and to publishing.

If you want to make a living online, however, it would be a good idea to spend some time learning the technical part. Start with HTML/CSS, and if you have time try learning JavaScript, PHP and MySQL.

Over to the Readers

What about you? What do you wish you knew when you started blogging?

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100 Responses to “15 Things I Wish I Knew When I Started Blogging”

  • Kunal @ TechHogger

    This is such a beautiful and quality post. The points you have written have all have importance. It’s been few months that I have started blogging and I have been struggling and with my struggle I have been learning a lot, as I have learned few thing from this post.
    Wonderfully written.
    “5 stars!!”

  • Stacy

    These are some great tips that I think we all can relate to. This post came at a good time for me, too, because I am currently working on some niche blogs to go along with my personal site. Thanks for the great tips!

  • Bamboo Forest – Tick Tock Timer

    Excellent article.

    I really don’t have anything to add.

    But I’d say in addition to selling your own product and making money through affiliates, you can also make money through your own service too. And that can be a very consistent revenue model.

    • Web Marketing Tips

      selling own products are one of the best way to get passive income..

      Just reach at that level and start capitalising it.

  • Christian Guico

    For a not so old blogger like me, these are some great points to consider as well as lots of new bloggers out there.

    Although I agree with OneBlogTips about the idea of collecting the e-mail list on the early days of your blog, it all depends on your goal as a blogger, if you had the resources on your hand (i.e. cash), building a list was a good plan as I have read from most of the successful blogs its the most profitable way to make money online.

    By the way thanks a lot for this great article, although it reminds me of my mistakes, it doesn’t matter if you learn a lot from it. ๐Ÿ˜€

  • OneBlogTips

    i totally agree with you
    but collect email list at starting is not a good idea

    autoresponder cost 19 USD per month, hosting cost 5 USD per month, that total 24 USD per month to spend with no profit at all as the blog just started.

    i think someone should start collect email list when the blog start to give income at least 50 USD per month.

    • Web Marketing Tips

      i am not agree with you.

      These email collections will give more and more income later on. So from day 1 i would also suggest you to go for it.

  • Terez

    I wish I knew what my niche was going to be. I started out blogging about my kid, with the purpose of showing potential clients my writing skills.

    Guess what? Potential clients don’t want to read how your toddler danced to her own original song. Potential clients not only want to read grammatically correct pieces, but information that can be of benefit to them. That’s where I’ve taken my blog.

  • Dean, freelance copywriter

    Daniel – Thank you for your helpful tips. I’m a bit puzzled though by your remarks about checking stats. I always check Google Analytics the day after adding a new post, just to see how it’s performed against previous posts. Are you saying that doing so is a waste of time?

  • Brett

    on #15, is there a good resource for a non-techie to start picking up bits and pieces re: html and css? Or is it just ‘go to the library or bookstore and get something’? Thanks.

  • Linda Anderson

    I wished I knew how to get people to my Blog Page. I have done “tags”, “keywords” etc. I have been told to do an “RSS” feed, so I am hunting for that information to add!

  • Roberto Alamos

    very good points but on #12 I’d say check your stats weekly. It’ll free you from having to be each day checking them so you have time for more important things, but a weekly review will help you to identify patterns and react accordingly much more faster than you’d if your reviews were monthly.

    • Daniel Scocco

      I prefer monthly. Weekly fluctuations can be too high (i.e., influenced by a popular post you wrote), while monthly ones are smaller.

      • Web Marketing Tips

        simply take into consideration everything.

        Daily to weekly and from monthly to yearly as well.

  • Margaret Adams

    Thank you for a really excellent post.

    I’m struggling with the technical side, but making progress. I’ve learned how to do tags – h2 etc, and am learning more. I’ve recently learned how to get diagrams up onto my website – gifs – after discovering the control print screen command.

    If you decide to write some more about basic html at least one reader would find it interesting.

    • Web Marketing Tips

      for html i would recommend to for w3 and you will be able to learn in deep.

      But i must say that you are going very nice.

    • cmdweb

      Margaret, I struggle with the technical side as well, especially around mailing lists and how to go about getting one together using my pages. In terms of HTML, I found htmldog very useful.

  • Destination Infinity

    Nice post Daniel. The point about writing one long and killer post instead of several shorter ones to keep up the frequency was one thing I learnt the hard way! But on some topics, shorter ones seem to be going better with readers… balancing both is currently getting a bit tough, but I am learning.

    Destination Infinity

  • Jesse Friedman

    Great post but I disagree with number 4. I started a facebook fan page on the same day as my blog just a few months ago. The fan page has nearly 100 fans already and most of the communication between myself and the users are through that fan page.

    • Daniel Scocco

      Well it turns out you are doing exactly what I suggest in #4, which is to choose a few social media channels and explore them fully.

  • David Doolin

    This is the basic recipe for success, which for most people takes 2-5 years to achieve.

  • Selurus

    really useful tips for beginner and even intermediate bloggers who put in a lot of effort but don’t seem to be getting results.
    I myself have been making mistakes mentioned above and will start to work on practicing the right habits.

    • Web Marketing Tips

      well some os these are not mistakes … These are simply curiosity and nothing else. You repeat this every time whenever you will get new gadgets or things or assignments.

  • Vivek Krishnan

    Awesome post Daniel, it was extremely insightful. I think the part about checking stats monthly is pretty revolutionary. But it can do the trick by improving efficiency!

    • Web Marketing Tips

      but we can not control ourselves by checking it again and agin.

  • Nick

    Thanks for these tips, I like them.

    But, I’m only doing a personal blog, what do you have to say about that?

    I tried doing a blog that is just focused on one thing and it was really boring to me, because i’m interested in so many different things and I love speaking my mind on my blog.

    Sure I probably wont make any money doing it, but I guess you never know. Right now I been having a hard time blogging, Just because I’m not that great of a writer and I’m trying to be.

    But I enjoy writing things thats on my mind and writing about anything whether it’s technology, current events, videos, or even my photography.

    But I’m totally going to use some of these tips to help me out, I think they can help me anyways. I been getting close to 200 visits a day, so I must be doing something right.

    Thanks Daniel!

    • Daniel Scocco

      If you are writing a personal blog as a hobby, then most of these rules won’t apply, and the main goal there should be you having fun in my opinion.

      • Web Marketing Tips

        though these tips are not directly effecting you but this will be good if you will apply them.

        Who knows may be in future your blog will be of top quality.

  • Devesh

    Great Post Daniel. I think Mailing List is something that i wish i knew when i started blogging.

    Anyways, Thanks for sharing this awesome post man.

    • Web Marketing Tips

      mailing list is the most important assets for blogger like us.

      That’s why go for it from the very first day.

  • Kristen Robinson

    I think many people fail to realize that quality over quantity aspect. They’re so caught up in posting regularly to be consistent, that some of the posts are just posts to post something to the blog.

    A lot of great tips…definitely identify with the e-mail list! Oh, if I only knew that when I first started!

    • Web Marketing Tips

      they fail on quality when they have nothing to say and even than they write.

      Believe me this is the end of quality.

  • Melanie Kissell

    Your post nails it and I’m certain lots of readers (if not most) will resonate with your lessons learned about blogging.

    Yesterday I spoke at a telesummit on the subject of “digital body language” for business blogging success. So I would like to add paying attention to the overall look and feel of your blog as a critical factor.

    Don’t send out body language signs or signals to your target audience that you are, for example, wearing a party hat, sitting poolside in revealing swimwear, or sloughing around the house in your bathrobe.

    Excellent post!
    Melanie

  • Matt Gio

    There are a lot of pitfalls that I’m doing here. This is a great post!
    I am guilty of the following:

    1. Checking my stats
    2. trying to make money from ads
    3. writing smaller posts so that I have something everyday
    4. using a shared hosting plan
    5. not giving away free stuff (i do give away a small ebook for my email subscribers, but I don’t feel it’s enough)
    6. I don’t have my own products

    Wow, just writing all that down makes me feel like a failure. Time to step up my game. I also think my niche is weak, but I’m trying to change that.

    • Daniel Scocco

      I still make some of these mistakes myself from time to time, so no big deal.

      • Web Marketing Tips

        you realise your weakness soon you will be able to overcome them as well.

        Best of luck.

  • Teasastips

    I really practice quality over quantity and believe that if you do what you love then the money will follow. But, I won’t lie, it is hard to keep churning out quality articles and get very little traffic. However, I keep going because, like the wannabe actress in that New York diner, “one day I’m going to be a star!!” Great post, I was just having some fun with that last statement.

    • Web Marketing Tips

      let me clear you one thing. If you will add quality post than this will work for long run and even all new bie generation can utilise that and you will keep earning as well.

  • Scott Neumyer @ Mad At Debt

    Great tips! And ones that I plan to take heed of as I just recently launched my newest site. Trying to do it RIGHT this time. ๐Ÿ™‚

    • Web Marketing Tips

      yes these tips are really useful for every new comer.

      Just implement them so that you can save your useful time.

  • Jason

    The funny thing about a list like this is that it is continually changing. …or should I say, evolving. In the past 7 years, every new blog I create I learn something new about the beginning stages.

    I can completely commiserate with #11, I’m going though the pitfalls of shared hosting as we speak and slowly moving over to a VPS.

    • Daniel Scocco

      Yes I agree the list is always evolving. For instance, wasting time on social media was not a problem 3-4 years ago.

      • Web Marketing Tips

        but this social media is still working and many people is still capitalising it.

  • Ivan Walsh

    Hi Dan,

    I can relate to those points. I run eleven blogs and have made all the mistakes there is so make.

    So, if I could go back to the future, I would:

    1. Learn to touch type รขโ‚ฌโ€œ if you make money blogging knowing how to speed type is critical
    2. Focus on building pillar content first and then the spokes
    3. Use one Social Media channel and really nail it. You can’t be everywhere.
    4. Build your own products. Ads is a poor revenue model esp in a recession.
    5. Automate where possible butรขโ‚ฌยฆ keep the human touch.
    6. Be humble. Ever now and then blast out an email and ask what are you doing right and where can you improve. and..
    7. Ignore the trolls!

    Ivan

    • Daniel Scocco

      Some good extra points you got there.

      • Web Marketing Tips

        i like the combination of human and automatic software.

        Cettainly helpful if you know how to give the perfect combination.

  • Joshu Thomas

    Dan,

    This is one of your BEST post ever. I too share many of the points that you have mentioned and would have loved to correct it or atleast done it earlier.

    1. Not having a mailing list from start.
    2. wasting time checking stats every hour ๐Ÿ˜‰
    3. Try selling ads

    Also the key is quality and not quantity.
    cheers and thanks
    josh

    • Web Marketing Tips

      generally these kind of mistakes are for new bie.

      But its nice to see that we have blogger like daniel who can show the right path so that new bie can save good amount of time and energy as well.

      Would love to read more post on this topic.

  • 10 Reasons Why Your Blog is Not Doing Well

    Great article Daniel. Very practical and informative.

    Thanks a lot

    • Web Marketing Tips

      Yes in these 15 points Daniel disclose his all experience.

  • Ramona

    I wished I knew CONSISTENCY is the key. I’ve posted disorganized and it shows. Having a good posting schedule and sticking to it have really made the difference.

    • Web Marketing Tips

      Yes within few weeks you will be able to see the impact of this.

      Believe me this one is the most important factor.

  • Jane@Find All Answers

    The thing about checking stats is very true. Even though every one knows that it is pointless, one cannot resist the joy of seeing ONE additional visitor, especially when starting out a new blog. I think everyone has passed through this syndrome and later laugh at themselves when they become established and mature bloggers.

    • Daniel Scocco

      Indeed ๐Ÿ™‚ .

      • Web Marketing Tips

        very true … we behave like a child at that moment …

        Even when we got new laptop or new gadget than we always behave like that.

  • BlogTechOnline

    Thank you Daniel for sharing tips for beginners like me.

    • Web Marketing Tips

      Yeah if you are begginer than these tips can save at least one year of yours.

    • d3so

      I wish I had persistence when I first took a stab at blogging.
      I was on and off going back and forth. Not a good plan. That’s halted my success for years.

      • Web Marketing Tips

        but i think these days you are quite serious and I am sure you will get success.

        Best of luck my friend.

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