Last month marked my fifth year of blogging and in those five years I have learned a lot. There are many things that I wish I would have known before I started blogging but luckily my mistakes and lack of knowledge can be your golden nugget of wisdom!
1. Niche. First decide on what you want to blog about, your niche. Do you want to share coupons/deals, recipes, review products, complain about your family (yes there are blogs that are full of that), be a little of everything?
2. Free or Paid? Do you want to go the free route (Google Blogger or WordPress.com) or do you want to be self-hosted, like WordPress.org? I started off with Google Blogger but with WordPress.org you can just customize so much more, your not tied to Google servers and their downtime and honestly many companies don’t want to work with you if you are on a free service like Google Blogger or WordPress.org It is a good starting point though as going the paid route will cost you around $30 a month and if your not sure how long you will be blogging then it may not be a good investment. I do make more money though now that I am self-hosted using WordPress.org and I can cover my fees of hosting. (By the way by self-hosting I mean that you pay a company like GoDaddy, Hostgator, or someone else to host your website and its content.)
3. Do you have time? Do you work outside the home? Is this going to be full-time for you? Think about how much time you can dedicate to your blog as it is seriously like another child (or pet) and requires lots of attention and love if you want it to grow. You don’t want to post here or there as you’ll never retain readers that way. Think about when and how much time you can dedicate to blogging each week (or day.)
4. Pick a Name! Okay so this goes along with picking your niche, but I cannot stress the importance of a good blog name! I started out as “Mama’s Money Savers” and I hated that I was classified as a coupon blogger (no offense) when I wasn’t. I missed out on opportunities because companies assumed my readers were all looking for cheap or free products. It is also a pain to change your name later on once you are established, believe me I went through it and it sucked.
5. Buy the URL and any associated URL’s. Got your name ready? You should also have a backup name (or a few) decided on as sometimes you’ll come up with a really great name for a website only to find the URL is taken. So grab the URL as soon as you pick your name and grab up any misspellings or other URLS like .net, .org, .info and so forth.
6. Social Media Links. Register your blog name everywhere online at all the social media sites such as Pinterest, Twitter, Facebook, YouTube, and so forth. Those are the big ones and again it sucks when you have a great blog name but can’t get any associated social media links, it gets confusing. Notice my Twitter is @mamasmoney and not @momandmore, yeah maybe someday the name will be free.
7. Design. There are free themes out there with blog designs or you can easily find someone to do your design. Just ask other bloggers whose designs you like or do a Google search for free theme designs. I honestly have had tons of free themes and paid theme changes throughout my five years of blogging. I change my mind a lot and like to change things up. By paying a designer though you can guarantee that your design will be completely personalized and not on other blogs. My first theme I used I remember seeing it on multiple blogs. Make your blog stand out as that is what your readers will see first.
8. Sign up for Google Webmasters Tool. Yes Google is basically God online, as much as it sucks they do control a lot and your blog fate needs Google’s help. I didn’t know about Google Webmasters until a few years ago and I wish I had started it right away. Once your in the Webmasters Tool area, Go to Crawl and then Fetch as Google – Submit to Index. Now in the beginning you won’t really have any posts really to Index but you want to be on Googles radar and Webmaster Tools is a great spot to check once a week or so to see if you have any errors. Basically if your site and posts are indexed then they are included in Google’s searches. So for example,when people search for a particular topic they find your site because of the keywords you used in your posts. You obviously want to be ranked higher in the search ratings so you get new traffic!
9. Write! Start writing! I write whenever and wherever I can! A few minutes can turn into part of a blog post and as a busy mom of three I’ll take any time writing that I can! Make sure you save your Drafts whether through whatever your blogging on (such as WordPress) or even Google Docs which I use too.Google Docs is nice because you can access it on any computer.
10. Visit other blogs and comment. By commenting on other blogs, you will hopefully start getting hits back to your blog from those readers. For example, I visit blog “A” and that blog owner sees my blog URL and hopefully they come to my blog to check it out. That is how I got followers and even now that is how I gain new blogs to follow by visiting the blogs of those that comment on my site now! Same goes for getting followers on your Twitter, Facebook, Pinterest and so forth – just start following people and hope those people follow you back!
What are tips you wish you knew before you started blogging?