An Ultimate Guide to Blogging
People ask me ALL THE TIME about blogging. There is a lot of “noise” on the web about blogging and so I thought it may be a good idea to share my experience- I’d like to present a more realistic (and less idealized) perspective than the vast sea of bullshit that you can mostly see out there.
Now, this isn’t to dissuade anybody from starting a blog- despite all the work and the challenges! I certainly don’t regret starting one. However I am pretty sure I must be a masochist of the highest order who loves having my emotions tossed around so I can justify my crippling neurotic tendencies.
To be perfectly honest the things that I have gained from blogging were not necessarily the same things I started blogging to acheive…if that makes sense.
Now pull up a chair or bookmark this shit for later. This is going to be a pretty comprehensive look at starting a bog and what blogging is really like, so get comfortable!
This post contains affiliate links. For more information about affiliate links, please click here. Your support of this site and what we do here is greatly appreciated. You rock!
A Note About Just Starting
Before I started a blog I actually thought about it and researched everything I could for about a year. Yep, I said a year! Sounds crazy but I wanted to learn everything I could so that when I started I would be prepared for everything.
Did that work for me?
Nope- not at all! In fact there would be no way that anything could have ever prepared me for the sheer amount of shit that I had to learn. And I am not done learning either. Everyday my to-do list grows, and I find another skill that I will need to master in order to “level up” in the blogging world.
So my advice to anyone thinking of starting is to just start. You will be failing left, right and center no matter what you do. But we like failure right? It’s the best way to learn.
Why Start a Blog?
This is the very first thing you have got to do- figure out your *why*.
Figuring out your why might be the most important thing you have to do when you start blogging. Why? Because when you get in those moments where you just want to quit and give up because you feel like you are screaming into an empty room- your why will be what keeps you going and provides motivation in lean times.
Something to consider- not all “why’s” are created equal. Case in point-
A Good Why:
“I want to help/empower/educate/entertain/motivate people”
A Shitty Why:
“I want to make money”
Now, don’t get me wrong, there is nothing at all wrong with wanting to make money. We all do! But the reality of making money with a blog is not consistent with what’s presented in posts like “How I made a kajillion dollars blogging!”. That’s a bullshit sandwich even if it is true.
Unless you are selling a product or kicking ass at affiliate marketing, there is a good chance you might not make any money at all from blogging, except for perhaps a few cents from ads. Even then, most companies have a threshold before you ever see a cent, for example $100. At that rate, making pennies a day, you might not see any money in your sweaty little palm for a long ass time. This can be crazy demotivating, so if making money is your only why, it wont be enough to keep you going when times are tough.
So first things first- figure out your why. Figure out what you are passionate about and think of that shit often so you don’t get discouraged and give up.
I want to help make healthy shit/functional adulting seem accessible to the Average Jane. I want to make people laugh about the struggles that we all face trying to be regular-ass drama-free humans. I want to be a writer that can be both entertaining and moving, perhaps not always at the same time but hey, get you a girl that can do both.
What do you Need to Start Blogging?
When I first started blogging, I wanted to spend as little money as possible for obvious reasons.
I started with Blogger (which was free), but quickly moved to self hosted WordPress (within a matter of weeks). It became clear that I actually enjoyed blogging, was passionate about it, and if I ever wanted to have a chance at monetizing and having a bit more freedom to customize the site to look and operate how I wanted it to, I would need to invest in a self hosted set up.
For web hosting, I chose to go with Siteground. I was immediately happy with my decision when I first migrated my site and all of a sudden it was lost.
Like, gone. Have you ever heard of DNS Propogation? Neither did I!
Now I’m not gonna claim that the folks at Siteground gave me a cup of hot tea and a blanket and held me until I calmed down, but they came pretty close. Best of all they did it without making me feel like a total asshole or technologically incompetent, so I will always recommend them.
Additionally, they did all the work moving my site over, and they also gave me clear, concise directions to set up my email account, change my site to https, and walked me through my rebranding process.
To get web hosting from Siteground, click here
The Costs of Blogging
When you look at the fact that web hosting can be pretty cheap, it might seem like blogging is an activity with low costs. However this is not always true. You will likely need a P.O. Box (which are pretty pricey here in Canada) so you can have a newsletter, you might need money for a premium theme that you can customize to “flow” like you want it to, and you will probably want to invest in some courses or premium versions of plugins etc.
These costs can add up fast. So the number one thing I have found is to try and invest in things by order of importance. This can look different for different people depending on your niche, and what you would like to achieve from your business.
For me it was Hosting->Theme->P.O. Box->Courses.
And as far as courses go I have only ever bought 1 ebook and it was about Pinterest. After almost 3 years of blogging I haven’t really gained much traction at all with Pinterest so I’m not quite sure what I’m doing wrong, but Pinterest isn’t always the magic bullet like it’s advertised by these “6 figure bloggers”.
The thing is, a lot of bloggers are making money by selling how to blog to other bloggers (that’s a mouthful!). The real big bucks seem to be in selling your own course or ebook etc. And there’s always people like me that suck at blogging who want to learn how to make a successful go of it… it’s really quite circular!
I never found anyone who was honest about how hard it is and that you can do *all the right things* and still not make any money. Because that kind of truth just doesn’t sell courses or affiliate links 😉
The Ugly Truth About Blogging
The Internet and blogging itself is crazy saturated. The worst part about blogging is that you can spend hours lovingly crafting posts, creating the graphics, making your freebies and promoting on social media and you may end up with something like 10 pageviews. WHAT THE ACTUAL FUCK.
Yep. Its true!
This is not for the faint of heart. Which was part of what attracted me to it in the first place. I am at a place in my life where I wanted to push my boundaries and get way the hell out of my comfort zone. If you have issues with confidence and taking things personally, be aware that blogging can have very little return when it comes to validation- and that is not always a bad thing!
This is what I meant when I said that the gains that I have gotten from blogging weren’t what I expected or intended. I have gained more in the realm of personal development by doing this than I ever could have expected.
So the ugly truth about blogging is this- you can work your ass off and still feel like you are getting nowhere and that can be very demoralizing. This again, illustrates the importance of your “why”. When you feel like giving up remember
- Your why
- That it takes time
- Your people are out there, you just need to keep working for them to find you!
This is why if you like a blog, the most helpful thing you can do to support it is to share their content, follow them on their channels, interact and sign up for their email list and provide feedback!
Behind every website is a person who is striving to provide value, so if they are then let them know! And if they are not, that’s important feedback for them as well.
The Unexpected Bright Side
I know it probably seems like this is a crazy Debbie downer of a post, but the truth is I actually love blogging! I actually miss out on relaxing and Netflix binging after the kids go to bed because I spend every spare moment on my blog. This is my business, and I am passionate about sharing it with the world!
By far the best thing you can do for your blog, and your sanity, is to make blogger friends and connections.
Blogging can be lonely, and lots of people wont understand the ups and downs that come along with it. So making friends with other entrepreneurs and bloggers can be a saving grace in an otherwise difficult environment. Lots of other bloggers will be in the same boat as you, and I think it is recognized that you really have more power in collaboration than you do in competition. I have personally been blown away by the kindness and support from people that I have met in the online space.
If you want to get real ballsy, reach out to already established bloggers for advice. I have gotten some really encouraging advice from bloggers that are killing it and it meant the world to me. And I don’t mean spam them with your links and ask for shares because that is tacky and gross. What I am saying is to try to connect with them and pick their delicious brains.
Although some will not respond (and that’s ok) some do, and might give you great leads on which things to focus on (for example SEO) or groups to apply to.
The Skills you Gain
When you are operating a website you have to wear a LOT of hats and so you end up learning a lot about things you may not have expected to. For example, SEO, using WordPress, making graphics, running a social media channel, interpreting trends and analytics, etc. I know much more than I ever dreamed of when it comes to these things, yet I still have a TON to learn. I love to learn and to grow, so I consider this to be such a huge benefit of starting a website. You will never ever run out of things to research!
Some Final Thoughts…
So as you can see, blogging is not the easiest thing in the world to do, but it is pretty awesome regardless. Have you ever thought of blogging? If so what is your why? Tell me about it in the comments!