My Bitterly Honest Guide to Starting a Blog in 2019
I’m going to put it straight, first and foremost. I’m not an expert with 20 years experience and 5 successful websites, so this guide to starting a blog may not resonate with you (but hey, I tried). But I am someone has been writing SEO articles elsewhere for almost 2 years now and have started this website from scratch (which I have been learning from every single day for the past couple of months). So here’s an honest guide to starting a blog, from a newbie blogger, on things that I think soon-to-be bloggers need to know.
The weird thing is I started this TO blog and not to write about blogging, but I never realised just how much you learn every day from it and that there is so much to learn, talk (or rant) about. So, here’s my guide to starting a blog:
1. You’ll Underestimate Your Dedication (Or Even Overestimate It at Times)
When I first decided to blog properly, I was totally dedicated, but I know what I’m like, and so I was stewing over whether to buy a 1 year or a 3-year hosting plan. I thought, jeez, if I start my blog in October-November time (2018), it won’t be up until the end of 2021! So, on that note, I bought 1 year of hosting. But right now this is one of my biggest regrets, because would I REALLY put in all this work for 1 year? Whether I was bored of it or not, I wouldn’t have just given up straight away, as there’s too much to waste.
If you pay for hosting for the first time you can get some incredible deals. You can then pay this price for 3 years. Of course, it can go the other way where you overestimate how dedicated you’ll be and you buy the 3 years and get bored after 1. Also, your blog could grow so much that your cheap hosting may not be good enough, so it’s swings and roundabouts.
In my case, I’m going to lose a lot of money and effort and I should have just got a 3-year hosting plan.
2. You’ll Witness the Saturated Market of Dishonest People Trying to Make Quick Money
This really shocked me, but it is just common sense. If there is a platform to get what you want, some people will rinse it for what it’s worth. Having now been exposed to thousands of bloggers and hundreds of different groups, you can see with fresh new eyes, something that you probably wouldn’t notice if you weren’t blogging yourself. And I’m not even talking about ‘blogging groups’ by the way, just your normal, regular, bog-standard FAQ groups about people’s interests.
This is why bloggers have a bad reputation to some people. Also, people may think you have some kind of hidden agenda when really, you’re generally just trying to help.
The biggest offenders are Facebook groups. We all share our stuff to Facebook groups, sure. I mean if it’s relevant, helpful and you aren’t trying to flog them something they don’t need, then that is ethical blogging. But on sooo many different groups have I seen generalised groups having admins with secret sites they keep dropping into conversations to sell their stuff or to gain thousands of views, all to unsuspecting members.
Frankly, I’m unimpressed if you’ve gained “100,000” views this month via spam and clickbait. Viewers won’t stay and you’re not credible. Just don’t be a d**k – it won’t work in the long term, trust me.
But that’s how you become successful, right? Since when was business fair, I can hear you say…
Hey, maybe I am naive but successful and ethical bloggers DO exist and if that’s the long way around, then so be it in my opinion. Some people are purely driven by money and don’t care about the community it’s meant to serve and that’s disheartening.
3. You’ll Learn to Sell Yourself ( Not like That 😉 )
You’re going to need a strong personality (or a voice). This is something really important to add to a guide to starting a blog.
YOU are the product and people need to be able to buy into you (I’m still learning). There are so many bloggers out there and I mean so many, that you really need to stand out. You need to find your niche and not even that, you need to find a niche within a niche. Then, not only that, but you need to write in a way that’s compelling and different from most other people. That’s bloody difficult to do.
The thing is, you don’t have to be a complete expert to start a blog. So many of us try every day to be recognised. I’m still learning what my true niche is. I also now know that I want to write honestly about everything. I don’t want to gloss things over and make out that everything is easy. Your experience is unique to yourself and it’s just learning to express it.
4. You’ll Come Across Blogger Jealously (And You’ll Feel It Too)
I’m only a mere 11 weeks in and I’ve already been on the tail end of this. Again, I was naive in thinking that we were all old enough and professional enough not to act like this, but nope. On more than one occasion by different people. I’ve already been plagiarised, had other blatant original ideas stolen from me, I’ve been blocked to eradicate competition (when there wasn’t even any in the first place, which is the point!) and I’m only so early into this. I would hate to think what it’s like when I actually do have a real presence in the blogging world.
That’s not to say I haven’t been jealous of other people, of course I have. This is totally natural too. It’s what you do with it that counts. Don’t be petty (or frankly butthurt that someone thought of that idea before you), but see it as a goal. If you’re jealous, that’s a good thing, it means they’re doing something right.
The whole jealousy thing works both ways and frankly just pull your big girl pants up and get over it. Seriously. (I’m learning this myself BTW).
5. You’ll Come Across the Joys (Or Not) of Some Blogging Groups
*Note: If you’ve seen this article on a blogging group, I’m not talking about you or you wouldn’t be able to see it, just saying. 😉
Before blogging, I didn’t even realise that blogging groups even existed (I’m mainly talking about Facebook here). But they definitely exist and some of them have rule after rule after rule.
“Click on ALL links in this thread, stay on for 3 minutes, comment, like it, share it, scream about it down the road then go to bed and have a dream about it and do this for the next 134 comments…”
Of course, some blogging groups are excellent, after all, that’s how it all works. Sharing, clicking and actually being interested in what people have to say. But for most, do they really? We’re all like robots happy we got hundreds of views, but actually, it’s just 100 people who may have clicked it because else they’d get kicked out of a thread-clicking group. So, for the most part, I stopped using the extreme rule groups within a week or two, because I didn’t have time and the viewers aren’t accurate. I still have to reciprocate some shares but I’ve been busy and now I feel guilty as hell. I mainly just share to groups to kick-start the algorithm nowadays.
You’ll notice some bloggers use blog sharing groups purely for their own gain. “Don’t you dare mention your blogs! – Yup, no self-promotion guys and girls, but I’m going to promote my blog every single day because that doesn’t count.” (I’m not including actually proper help groups btw, those bloggers are so helpful and they deserve their recognition). But otherwise: yawn. Don’t waste your time. Find the good groups, find the blogs you’re interested in and run with it.
6. You’ll Learn That SEO Is Awesome (But Weirdly Many People Don’t Bother)
I swear by the power of SEO. So, I was shocked to see that many people don’t really write SEO articles for some reason. I write SEO articles pretty much every day for work and have reached the first page of Google for the site many times and the best part? You don’t even have to be popular to do it for your own blog! If you find that gap in the market, find that perfect keyword, produce that lengthy article, then you’re set and Google will rank you. I’ve already ranked for some longtail keywords and I’ve noticed my traffic go up week on week from Google (and other) searches. The only issue is you sometimes have to wait between 3-6 months to even see it rank properly.
However, it’s great because it does the work for me and I don’t have to share it again and again. I basically have no social media presence (which I really need to work on but I’m always so busy). However, my traffic is still rising purely from search engines. So, if you’re stuck for a new tactic, please look up some SEO strategies, because they really work!
So, here’s my guide to starting a blog. Lengthy rant over guys, I apologise. 😉 What have you found when starting a blog? Drop it in the comments!
Looking for another guide to starting a blog? Check my article on why people keep secret blogs or check the suggested articles below! Stay tuned, there will be another guide to starting a blog soon.