What I’ve learnt so far on my blogging journey
Are you thinking of starting a blog? Great, you’re in the right place.
In this article, I talk about 18 tips for new bloggers, things that I found out the hard way and wish someone had told me at the start of my blogging journey.
There is so much information online about starting a new blog but what no one told me about were the unexpected things you learn along the way, which now looking back seem blindingly obvious.
If you’re new to the blogging world, welcome. This article is perfect for you and will hopefully give you an insight into what to expect in the first year of blogging.
As long as you’re looking into how to be a blogger, there will be something in this list to help you take those first steps in blogging. It doesn’t matter if you want to be a hobby blogger or a pro blogger, or the topic you want to write about.
So, let’s check out some of the stuff you should know as a newbie blogger.
Disclosure: Some of the links below might be affiliate links, meaning, at no extra cost to you , if you click one of them, I may receive a small commission (for which I am deeply grateful) but it helps me create more awsome stuff like this post.
18 THINGS NO ONE TOLD ME BEFORE STARTING A BLOG
1) There is a fair amount of technical jargon and geek stuff to get your head around.
I’m quite happy to admit I’m an absolute technophobe. Before I started blogging, if you asked me what a ‘cookie’ was, I would probably have given you a blank stare and just replied ‘I don’t know, but I know I love white chocolate ones’.
Things like SEO (Search Engine Optimisation), DA (Domain Authority) and a ton of other technical jargon will all impact your blog in some shape or form. To make it even harder, most of it comes in the form of an acronym. Even though I’ve been blogging for a while now, I’m still finding new terminology, I’ve only just touched the mere tip of these whopping icebergs.
2) You probably WILL have to invest a little bit of money into your blog
So, yes, there are free web building sites out there, but if you starting your blogging journey with the intention one day to monetise your site, then it’s better to start straight away with a wordpress.org site. Basically, this will give you more control over your blog in the long run.
As you get more involved, you’ll probably want to invest in various themes, widgets, courses, a designer or developer, but these aren’t essential at first.
Two invaluable tools which were worth the investment since I started blogging are KeySearch which takes out a lot of the hard work of SEO research as it tells you which keywords are best to target your blog posts on (hint; if you want to try and rank on page 1 search in Google, then you will NEED Keysearch).
Tailwind for Pinterest is the other worthwhile tool for a newbie blogger. It can take up to 6 months for a new blogger to rank (if at all!) basically, SEO is a waiting game. However, Pinterest is pretty much instant. It’s much easier get traffic as a new blogger using this method. Tailwind helps to drive traffic to my site before my SEO efforts kick in. If you don’t want to spend hours manually Pinning, then Tailwind saves you hours of work as it automates all your pinning efforts.
3) It takes A LOT longer than I initially thought it would take to do ANYTHING!
We’re talking glacial speed here, by that I mean if you plan for a task to take 10minutes, you can bet that it will take more than double, triple or quadruple that time.
I’ve lost count of the hours I’ve pumped into my blog. Especially if you are self-teaching yourself everything from scratch. It can be frustrating and time-consuming but also incredibly rewarding when you actually get it right.
4) Your photography skills will improve – tenfold!
My photography style has changed, big time, and for the better. Looking back at any picture I took when I first started travelling back in 2013 just makes me cringe. What the heck was I thinking?
Thankfully you don’t need an expensive camera to start taking great photos, most likely your phone does a pretty good job, even better there are some great little compact cameras out there. I’m actually obsessed with the Panasonic Lumix range, I’ve had a few of them over the years. Currently, I’m using a Panasonic Tz80. Go check out the spec, and you’ll see why I’m in love with it.
I’m also a massive fan of photo editing software; Lightroom and Photoshop, that come as part of the Adobe Creative Cloud Photography plan. if that’s too tricky then Canva is a great alternative for making anything graphic based.
Since taking the plunge into travel blogging my photography style has changed so much. It’s daunting knowing where to start, but there are some great eBooks and eCourses as well as templates and presets out there.
5) Don't expect to make big bucks early on, if at all
It’s always the pipe dream to be able to make enough money from your blog to live off. Trust me, that’s my goal and sometimes it seems unobtainable. If making money quickly if your sole goal for starting a blog, you’re in the wrong career. The blogging journey isn’t a get-rich-quick scheme.
That said, blogging can be lucrative if you put in the effort. First and foremost, you need to be passionate about what you are blogging about, as you will be putting in hours of unpaid work.
There are people out there who claim to make big money right away. It might well have been possible for the fortunate few, even so, like anything quick-fix, it’s not sustainable.
Like with everything in life, consistent hard work and dedication do pay off.
6) Everything you have a question for can be found online
I’ve lost count of how many YouTube videos, forums, Q&A threads, Facebook chats, I’ve used to find out how to do stuff.
WordPress also has some pretty comprehensive forums with a super active community to answer everything. There’s also the site WPBeginner, with their comprehensive guides. Frankly, if it’s not on this website site then it’s probably not worth knowing about.
7) Search out Facebook groups and use them
I love a good meme or video of cats doing silly things, Facebook is ace at this. However, delve a little deeper and with a little bit of research, you’ll find a whole tribe of like-minded individuals from all over the globe on there.
For the new blogger (or at any stage in your blogging journey) Facebook group pages are a gold mine of information, a little group of like-minded people just like you. Facebook groups have been invaluable for finding answers to problems, getting handy hints and advice, inspiration and encouragement when it all goes tits up.
Try it, go do a search on Facebook now to see how many amazing groups there are.
8) Find your niche
So my blog is about travel, that’s a given. But ‘Travel’ it’s a massive genre, so on my blog, I’ve honed it down to what excites me the most when I’m away travelling, which is wildlife, temples and adrenalin sport. These three areas fit nicely together to a much smaller niche which is ‘Adventure Travel’.
Other niches could be luxury, family, cruises, beaches, fashion, foodie, city breaks, country-specific, hiking, camping, road-tripping – there are so many possibilities.
The same goes for any genre of blogging. So if you are starting a blog on Food/ Fitness/ DIY /*insert another genre here*, try to focus on something more specific.
9) Social media can be likened to spinning plates
Before I delved into the deep dark world of blogging, I didn’t even have a Twitter or Instagram account and the only thing I used Facebook for was to share silly cat memes.
Each social media platform has its own set of guidelines as to how to optimise it for getting you the most number of click-throughs to your site. Keeping on top of them all can be a real balancing act. In the early stages of your Blogging journey it’s difficult to balance them all. So just choose one or maybe two to focus on at the start.
10) Domain Authority (DA) takes a long time to build
‘Domain Authority (DA) is a search engine ranking score developed by Moz that predicts how well a website will rank on search engine result pages’, (add a link to Moz site)
When you hit ‘launch’, every blog is given a DA of 1. There is a whole range of factors which make this number grow (100 is the maximum DA a website can get).
You’ll find some people get really hung up on their DA score, whereas a better indication of how successful your blog is, is the number of visitors and views.
Just remember that your DA doesn’t define you or your blog, just use it as an indicator. There are lots of things outside of your control, including the dreaded algorithm updates, that will affect it.
As long as you keep posting out good quality content, using key word research and pushing your blog out on social media platforms, your blog will continue to grow along with your DA.
11) Traffic doesn’t just magically appear
..and it’s SOOOO frustrating. Especially afer you’ve used Keysearch to find a great keyword then slaved over a great article, put in a ton of stunning photos, optimsied the article it to give it the best SEO chance and hit publish. Except for your friends and family, the numbers still aren’t rolling in. Why is no one else finding it?
Consistent traffic to your blog through search engines takes a long time to build. SEO (Search Engine Optimisation) is a long-term game plan. Each post should be optimised for search engines, but it takes time to rank. You can use Pinterest (or a Pinterest scheduler) to give your new blog a much needed injection of traffic, but consistent high traffic is a long term goal, not overnight!
To build traffic in the early days you need to be doing a decent mixture of self-promoting, sharing on social media, networking, link swapping and even being in the right place at the right time.
12) The blogging world does have some VERY artificial people
Don’t get me wrong, there are a ton of amazingly awesome bloggers out there too and thankfully these outnumber the fakes. Just be aware that the blogging world, just like any other profession, has its fair share of knobbers in it; people who are only in it for personal gain.
Some will be nice upfront, will act as if they have your best intentions at heart, want you to support their product/social media/campaign and yet after being used as a stepping stone don’t do the same in return. Others will come across as friendly until they realise you are actually of no use to them. And others simply claim to be people they just aren’t.
You’ll learn to suss these ‘types’ out fairly early on. Ignore them and move on to the hundreds of awesomely supportive people who will be supportivev of you, wherever you are in your blogging journey.
13) Book onto a blogger event to really inspire you
One way of meeting said other awesome bloggers is to attend a blogger event. There are tons of incredibly inspirational people out there who are genuinely have your back and really do want you to achieve.
I’ve attended a few blogger events and after each one, I’m left buzzing with ideas and have a newfound motivation to implement them all as well as a ton of people I’ve connected with.
One of my favourite events is WTM (World Travel Market). It’s a massive multiple-day exhibition-style event and an absolute eye-opener into the Travel Industry. It’s not specifically aimed at bloggers; however, a lot of content creators do attend. Two things this even is great for; inspiration and networking.
14) You will never be 100% happy with your site
I’m a Virgo through and through, an absolute perfectionist, well, that’s my excuse anyway. It’s totally normal and just part of the blogging journey process to never be 100% happy.
There will ALWAYS be something you want to improve, tweak, add or alter on your blog. And quite rightly so, this is your passion, your metaphorical baby. So it’s natural to want it to be perfect.
I’ve seen so many typos and mistakes (like links not working, or pages that don’t load) even from the pro bloggers, so cut yourself some slack. Rome wasn’t built in a day.
15) You will spend a lot of time procrastinating and to-do lists will be your favourite thing.
I’m a serial list writer and champion procrastinator – like honestly, list writing is one of my favourite things to do. I have little to-do lists everywhere. I even have a list of lists to tackle. Basically, when you start blogging journey, you’ll have a constant string of things that need attention. You’ll feel like your work is never done..
I’ve spent so much time pondering and thinking how to do stuff when in reality I just need to suck it up, knuckle down and get shit done. I try to catch myself procrastinating and set myself mini-goals and time constraints as well as prioritising what’s actually worthwhile doing or not. If you find yourself not being wonderfully productive, why not check out these great eBooks and eCourses like the Ultimate Productivity Bundle which contains 12 eBooks, 31 eCourses, 29 workbooks & printables and 2 membership site!
This collection of books full of tips and ideas to make sure you’re using your valuable time wisely. and is a must if you find you never have enough hours in the day to combat that never-ending to-do list. Take a look at the courses in the bundle and what you’ll learn by clicking on the image below, it’s an absolute steal!
16) Don’t compare your blogging journey to anyone else’s
This is one that I constantly have to keep telling myself. It’s human nature to compare, but my blogging journey isn’t the same as anyone else’s. So why would I be at the same stage as them?
It’s good to be aware of what other people are doing and how they do it. It’s also good to look at what tactics work well for them as well as what things they do don’t so well. Repeat after me, ‘I’m in competition with no one but myself’.
17) Don’t underestimate the little blog wins
Blogging is hard work and incredibly competitive so don’t underestimate and brush off even the tiniest bit of success. Make a fuss, or even just a little happy dance over the smallest of blog wins.
Not all ‘wins’ have to be in the form of money. I get super excited when I get a lovely and genuine comment from an absolute stranger who’s stumbled on and read my post or if a Pin goes viral.
Hint: I’d absolutley love it if you commented below 😉
18) There IS enough room for everyone
Like I said in the previous point, blogging is incredibly competitive. I don’t even feel like a small fish in a big pond, it’s more like a tiny plankton in a very big ocean.
It does feel like all the big guns are getting all the best gigs and that seeing that type of success for myself is light-years away. However, everyone starts somewhere and there are loads of opportunities to get your foot in the door.
I’ve had some great success working with smaller companies in my home town, which is a great way of getting your foot in the door. In turn, this will allow you to build a relationship between you and the company. If all you’re after is freebies, then you’re blogging for the wrong reasons and setting yourself up to fail. It’s a two-way thing, think of it as a partnership more than anything else.
My favourite tools and blogging resources I can’t live without
I’ve just bombarded you with a ton of information in this article, no doubt your feeling brain overload right now. So to summarise, here is a list of my favourite tools and blogging resources that I’ve used from the start of my blogging journey and still using now.
- My website is built on WordPress with Siteground as a host. The great thing about using WordPress with Siteground is that they do all the tecnical stuff such as installing WordPress for you along with a ton of other stuff to make your blogging journey as simple as possible.
- My domain name registration was through NameCheap.
- I’m obsessed with the Adobe photo suite to up my photography game, Photoshop and Lightroom are two of my faves and can both can be bought at a discounted rate when you go for their Photography Plan (you can buy them individually if you want to). They also offer a free trail. If the Adove suite is too complicated, then I highly reccomend Canva.
- For SEO optimisation, I swear by KeySearch – check out their free trial and see how it revolutioises your key word game, let me know what you think
- Because I’m lazy I use a Pinterest scheduler called Tailwind to drive traffic to my blogsite before Google plays catch up with my SEO efforts.
So, where is your blogging journey taking you?
Pin it for later
If you enjoyed this article, or know someone that will, then please like and share. Or if you’re planning on starting a blog, then why not pin it for future reference.
Is there anything you want to know about blogging? Great! Feel free to drop me a message in the comment section below and I’ll try to answer it.
I’d also love to hear from you if you’ve got anything you’d like to share about your blogging journey.