15 Things I Wish I Knew When I Started Blogging

Daniel Scocco

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?

Browse all articles on the Blogging Basics category or check the recommended articles for you below:

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

  • Aaron Geiger

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

    I’m glad to see this posted. I see some places with 50 mini icons in a tray, ready for you to spread their post around on Google, Digg, Twitter, etc. I understand the need to trumpet the horn, but in concurrence with your other bullet on “quality” writing, I would have to prefer to go with quality over everything else. If you have something worthwhile, I’d like to hope people will spread the news. But I do have to believe somewhat in the mantra of “if you want to win the lottery, you have to buy a ticket.”

    Thanks for taking the time to post this.

  • Katherine Swarts

    I commend you wholeheartedly for including the quality-vs.-quantity point. The “freelance writing jobs” sites are suffering a pandemic of “blog writer wanted for 10 posts a week at $15/post” ads, and every serious writer I know hates them for giving plausibility to the insane idea that good content should be quick and easy to produce.

  • Jill

    I just started blogging last month and feel I am doing pretty well with content and appearance, but I wish I had known how much technical information and support (which I don’t have) was involved. Now I have great ideas to do some things on the site visually and don’t have the technical knowledge to make it happen.

  • Jia Jun

    I did checking my stats everyday. XD
    Indeed when I look back, it really a waste of time, compare with how much time I can make my blog better and promote to more people.
    Thanks for the post, Learn something out of it. 😀

  • Beverly Kingsley

    Daniel,
    Thank you for the tips! I found this just in time. I’m hoping to start a blog within the month and would love to know my mistakes BEFORE I make them! You don’t often have the opportunity to it in that order!

  • Karo@blogging for beginners

    Hello,

    Thanks for giving us especially beginners the opportunity to learn from your mistakes. All the points you made are quite great but I took note of point 4, 13, 14, and 15.

    I agree that the power of social media to drive traffic and build credibility has been over blown. I am not into them myself even though I have accounts here and there. I advice that we focus our time on greating great content and impressing the search engines.

    Like you said having one or two accounts where you are sure your target readers hang out is cool as long as we use it well and not start spamming people.

    For me though, I would prefer to hang out in a niche forum where you I am sure that the people there are really interested in my niche. That way I can provide great value and direct targeted visitors to my site.

    Social medias are what they are – for social networking. Most people there are not even interested in your niche, so even when they visit your blog or website they don’t take the time to read through your content, talk more click on an ad. No matter the following you have, I think social media traffic is unprofitable.

    Well said it takes persistence. I am so glad you added that point. Many so called probloggers have mislead beginners to think that they can start a blog and make money from it in one month which is very very far from the truth.

    And I must add that if you want to blog for profit, then invest some time and money to plan it as a business. No one goes into a business blindfolded. Same applies to blogging. Know what you’re getting into and have a plan before starting.

    Get a good research tool in other to obtain acurate data of the number of searches your topic gets monthly, who your competitors are, what they’re doing, how you can compete. Then decide what monetization models you want apply on your blog. After which do a research to make sure that your topic is profitable with monetizations models you would want to apply on your blog. If it’s not, then consider another topic. In fact, do a research on 3 topics you are good at, all at once. Then at the end settle for the one that is most profitable judging by your knonwledge of the subject, the competition and it profitability in terms of the number of ways it can be monetized.

    And learning the techincal part saves you much time and makes things happen faster. Right now I am several weeks behind my target of launching a product because of some technicalities. Learning a good amount of HTML/CSS is very neccssary.

    And to answer the question on what I wished I knew when I started blogging, I wish I entered it as a business as I explained above. I started blogging not knowing what a keyword is. So I was wasting time publishing great content everyday with no one reading it. I had to take a break to read and learn how it really works. Then bought a great keyword research tool and started all over again, this time I started it the way an e-business should be built.

  • Karen Franklin

    Thanks for these great tips! I’ve been blogging for fun for six months. Now I’d like to see if I can earn some money as well. I’ll keep your list of things to avoid in mind.

  • Jayant

    Yeah, very true. 🙂
    Shared Hosting sucks!!

    Making profile on every Social Media is a hell waste of time. And thanks for these tips. I am 12 and a (very) new blogger and will surely will keep in mind. 😉

  • Kate F. Eaton

    Thank you so much for a clear cut list of mistakes to avoid. Will consider each and do some tweaking to save myself time and money. Well-written, helpful – definitely quality content!

  • Hannah

    Good reading. I have found personalising your posts if the context is right helps readers feel involved, using you and your helps people feel you are talking to them and their business.

    I think one point you didn’t mention and have done really well in this post is it is short and concise. I have some useful hints to take away with me that have not be clouded by ready lots of text that didn’t need to be there.

    Being able to subscribe to blogs is one of the best resources for bloggers, I don’t have time to visit every site even though I enjoy the content, but getting little emails through once a week reminds me to take 5 minutes out and see what is going on in the world!

  • HomeList

    In my opinion, a long domain name is okay as long as it is memorable. The tricky part is recognizing whether it’s actually a good name or not when you go to register the domain. In my experience, when trying to come up with a domain name, I’ll spend hours in front of the computer trying to come up with a name that isn’t taken. And since they almost always are, the instant I come up with a name that isn’t taken, I always think “this one sounds catchy!”, but in reality my mind has become so blurred from trying to come up with an original domain name that is still available.

  • Sheila @ Avaguide

    I wish I had some stuff to for a giveaway too 🙂 It is true quality is better than quantity because what is the use of a very long article that just goes around and at the end does not teach us anything.

  • Joe MmacMillan

    Excellent article. I agree that the most important thing we must do is to nail down the domain name first. Unfortunately, many learn this after we are up and running, especially those who set up a website. I did and after more than 300 pages I slowly came to realize it but now there is no turning back.

    Joe

  • Alan @ Work From Home

    I like #3 and #6. It’s important that you write for your readers and always keep them first. If you do this, #6 will come naturally as people will notice and want to stick around and become a long-time reader.

    I’m still on shared hosting like many other people, but when the time comes, I’ll definitely be making the switch to a dedicated server.

  • Lisa

    Daniel:

    You hit the nail on the head with these tips. I am still on shared hosting, but I am grinding away and I know success will come. It’s so easy to get frustrated and when you first start out, you buy into all the “hype.” You see the make money overnight model and dive in without properly researching the information. So as you mentioned, heaving realistic expectations is crucial to online success.

  • BlogTipss

    Totaly agree. And point 7. Email list is one of most important things in every internet business.

  • Nona Richardson

    Excellent post Daniel. I am developing my third blog now; one for which I have a passion but would also like some income to come from it. I will use all of these tips. It’s pretty profound that you would share all your “trade secrets” rather than selling them, and not feeling that helping others to succeed more quickly than you did would hamper your business. I guess that is a part of your point about giving away free stuff. That alone makes me want to subscribe to your blog.

  • Michael (MKR)

    #11 isn’t necessarily true. Bad load times and insecurity come from a bad host, not shared hosting. As long as your server isn’t oversold, and as long as they take standard security precautions, shared hosting is fine until you make some income.

    I’ve received temporary floods of traffic with no impact on performance, and my host uses the apache modules you’d expect any competent host to use.

  • Santel

    I can see know I am making a lot of mistakes, but that’s OK, I am improving and I still love blogging even now I didn’t earn so much from my blog.

    Thank for the post, I am on my way to promote product, starting from affiliate with web hosing. Hope I can make a sale someday soon.

  • Tava Tea Scam

    Wow, great tips! Thank you for this great info, it was very helpful.

    • Web Marketing Tips

      simply apply them on your blog and you will see the impact of this.

  • Tara

    This is advice that I greatly needed. Thank you for taking time to put this list together. I have no doubt it will help guide me in the right direction.

    • Web Marketing Tips

      yes we all need these kind of information even if we cross the first stage of blogging.

      We are really thankful to daniel for this,

  • Tornado

    I always view my stats 😀

    Please visit my blog…
    I’m looking for someone (with a blog) for link exchange.
    Post a comment on my blog if you’re interested.

  • demsy

    I’m a beginners.Thank you Daniel for share. It’s very informative n very useful

  • Conor Neill

    Agree with your 15! And agree with Joshu, Ramona and Ivan… I learnt the hard way… but I am innately stubborn and it will always have to happen a little like that 😉

    • Web Marketing Tips

      this is very flexible business world and i think stubborn in this business is not a good and positive thing.

  • Harneet Singh

    Good Post.It will help the newbie to enhance their thinking about blogging.

    • Web Marketing Tips

      yes and with they will be able to get the success soon as well.

  • Web Marketing Tips

    well checking status daily is the normal mistake of all new comer.

    Not only you. After certain period this will be on weekly basis.

  • Usman

    Domain name and Content Quality are really crucial factors determining the fate of the blog.

    • Web Marketing Tips

      above this i would suggest research fro, the very first day.

      This will apply on your domain and in other things as well.

  • Dinesh @ DailyBlogMoney

    After long time, very long post from you.

    Domain name,
    Looking for cheap hosting,
    Not researching,
    Checking earnings stats daily,
    and most of the things you covered….

    in my list.

    • Web Marketing Tips

      not researching is the biggest mistake and all bloggers repeat this mistake.

  • Cory Smith

    Thank you for the tips for a newbie blogger like myself.

    • Web Marketing Tips

      yes simply apply them and you can save great amount of time and labour.

      With this you will be able to reach your goal soon as well.

  • Mike @ Blog Success Resource

    Daniel,

    I am relatively new in to this (2-3 months) so I know I am making a huge mistakes already starting with domain names. I got crazy and bought bunch of domains without keyword search at $14.99 each and now I have to make use of them, is there any other way?

    Gosh I have a long way to go. But they say learning by trial and error is best way to learn. *sigh*

    • Web Marketing Tips

      would love to know what kind of domain these are, what keywords they have. If you are confuse than simply add contents and add adsense.

      Start building links on them.

      Just start this way and i am sure in the way you will be able to learn a lot.

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