11 Things No One Tells You About Starting A Blog That You Need To Know
If you’re thinking about starting a blog you are definitely making the right choice! However, it’s not as simple as setting up a website with a platform and having loads of traffic swamp to your site. You might read quite a few blog posts about starting a blog and all the simple steps to starting your own (even we have an easy 8 step guide to starting a blog which you can find here) but don’t be fooled, a lot more goes into it!
One of the biggest reasons people start blogs and particularly travel blogs is so that they can just quit their job and travel the world, the reality is that a very small percentage of bloggers are able to do that. Is it possible? 100% it is, with a lot of dedicated, hard work, and great content.
There are a few things we wish we knew before starting a blog that would have made the process maybe a bit easier. These are things that took us a while to learn (especially number 8) but once we sort of figured it out things got a lot easier. Overall it just depends on how dedicated you are and how much research you are willing to do to truly make your blog a success and achieve your goals.
Don’t go into starting a blog thinking that you want to get rich, starting a blog like that automatically puts you at a disadvantage. Why? Because you’re completely taking the passion out of it and your audience can see that you aren’t in it for the content and stories.
For us our blog is not our full-time job, we both work full-time jobs in our hometown of Calgary, Canada. Would we love for our blog to eventually become our full- time work? Of course, but our blog started as a passion project and continues to be just that. We love being able to connect with our readers and help people plan and have the best trips of their lives, it’s a truly rewarding experience!
But we don’t want you to think that starting a blog is all glitz and glamour, it’s not. Which is exactly why we are writing this post.
Starting a blog is essentially building your own business from the bottom up. We love those articles that are like ‘I made $5,000 a month in my first month of blogging!’ Because honestly, that isn’t going to happen to a good 99% of blogs, it’s very rare. Will you make an income on your blog? You totally can, but it takes time.
So with all of that being said here are the 11 things we wish we knew and think you should know about starting a blog.
1) If You Build It They Will Not Come
The moment you create a URL and go through all the physical steps of starting a blog doesn’t mean traffic is instantly going to flow through and explode. In fact it’s quite the opposite, it takes a lot of time and effort to gain a solid audience and hold on to them. SEO plays a huge role (which we will get to a bit later in this post) and in order to rank with Google for an audience to find your content, it takes time.
Did you know that Telsa Motors was not invented by Elon Musk? He was an investor and simply marketed the idea/product in the companies early days. Which effectively turned Telsa into what we know it as today. The technology was already there but no one was interested because it wasn’t pitched properly and put in front of a wide audience.
Blogs work in a similar way. The idea of blog writing isn’t new, in fact, it is practically as old as the internet. Which means when starting a blog you are just one of many different sites a visitor can reach to find the information they are looking for. So you need to pitch yourself to them by having engaging content, great titles, and great marketing techniques.
There is no steadfast rule as to how to market your blog to a wider audience. However, things like posting on social media and having an active account, sharing on Facebook and getting friends and family to reshare, solidifying a Pinterest technique (we love using tailwind for this), writing new content while updating old content, the list goes on and on!
The key to all of these marketing techniques is to start consistent and see which channels are working best for you and sticking with those and not waste time on ones that aren’t performing. If you do these things from the moment you start blog writing you’ll create an active community with huge growth potential. We also highly recommend joining Facebook blogging groups and being active in the blogging community as a whole.
The blogging community has lots of advice and tips for making success attainable. They also typically have specific days of the week that you can partake in share threads which will help spread your content even more.
WARNING: When you are active in the community you are going to see a lot of people boasting about how well their blogs are doing. But do NOT compare your blog and its success to theirs. They are two completely different blogs, often with completely different markets or target audiences.
If you compare yourself to them you’ll end up just getting upset if you’re behind them in any way. You may feel like a failure at points, but you aren’t, so just keep going and remember to think positive and be happy for their success, your own will come! Like we mentioned 99% of blogs won’t explode overnight.
2) Social Media Isn’t That Easy
Social media isn’t as simple as posting a couple photos, posts or mediocre tweets every day. People go on these platforms to engage with others, see new content, get new ideas and overall just be inspired and challenged. With that being said these audiences need constant entertainment and engagement along with new content, captions, articles and so on.
Creating a consistent approach to social media is key. You need to be posting in a timely, organized and appealing manner that is of the utmost quality. Because as we said before, there are tons of other bloggers out there who are constantly putting out content and if you want to compete in that world you need to keep up.
Now, why is this something we wish we knew before starting a blog? Well because we thought it would be fairly simple to grow a social media following, but in reality, it isn’t as quick and simple as most people think it is. Being an influencer is not only a lot of pressure in a lot of ways but you need to have a ton of content ready to go and be posted at a moment notice.
Let’s take Instagram for example, you should be posting on Instagram at least 1-3 times a day (spread out throughout the day, don’t spam your audience) which means you need at least 7-21 different photos to post every single week. That’s not a small amount of content, especially if you are still working a full-time job and starting a blog as a hobby with hopes of it growing.
Now you might think, that’s not that many photos. Well, they can’t just be simple everyday pictures, your audience wants quality over quantity, no one would rather look at three mediocre photos than one really crazy good one. So now you have to consider what you are posting and what you want to say about it in your caption.
Before you even get to your caption you have to edit these photos, so now you are editing between 7-21 photos a week and sometimes editing a photo can take 30 minutes or more, that’s anywhere from 3.5-10.5 hours a week on just your Instagram feed. Now add in Pinterest (recommended 30 pins/re-pins a day), Twitter (1-5 tweets a day), Facebook (2-3 posts a day) and all of a sudden it’s nearly 20 hours a week. Now, keep in mind that 20 hours isn’t including the time spent writing and re-writing blog posts.
That’s a lot of time.
That doesn’t even touch on the fact that you should also continue to engage with your audience on those platforms too, so replying to their comments, liking and following other accounts, commenting on other peoples content, etc.
Pinterest is a different beast all of its own because it can take a lot of time to find pins and re-pin them at different times of the day (again don’t want to spam anyone’s feed). If you have to post at different times of the day it can be a real challenge. That’s where Tailwind comes into play, Tailwind is a major tool that we use that has significantly helped us grow our audience since starting a blog and it makes pinning so much easier.
Tailwind gives you the ability to schedule as many pins as you want and will upload them to your Pinterest board at specific times during the day so that you can set and forget! It’s honestly an incredible tool that everyone should use when starting a blog because it’s a huge traffic driver and time saver. You can sign-up for Tailwind here, it’s around $10 a month and worth every penny!
3) SEO Is Super Important From The Start
When we decided to start a blog we honestly didn’t know a damn thing about SEO. All we knew is when we Googled something, shit came up. Sadly your articles aren’t just going to show up on the first page of Google just because you posted something. The articles that appear on the first page have a significant amount of traffic and impeccable SEO. What is SEO? Search Engine Optimization. This article explains it really well.
Why is this important?
It tells Google what is on that page so when users look for that item Google can say, ‘Oh look this page has what you want!’ Without that optimization, Google won’t know and doesn’t care what is on your page.
You could be thinking, ya that’s obvious. But do you know how to properly implement successful keywords that people actually search for? We sure didn’t. And let us tell you, going back to 40 some odd posts and updating SEO is less than enjoyable.
Regardless, it’s a good idea to go back every once and a while and update that SEO to make it relevant again.
Your posts need to be indexed properly, are people more likely to search for, ‘tips for living in a campervan‘ or ‘living in a van.’ Is having that ‘camper’ in there actually significant or could it potentially hurt how many people locate your articles? The answer is, it very well could and that could change. A great resource for knowing if your keywords are good is Google Trends. You can type in what you are planning on using for keywords and compare it to another phrase. This gives you an idea of whether or not people will actually find your writing.
Another great resource to check for what people are searching when typing in a particular keyword is AnswerThePublic.com. You simply type in your keyword and they tell you what people have typed into Google. This will make it easier to create your headlines.
Now, don’t forget those keywords need to be placed within your text too, just in your title is not enough. You want them multiple times throughout the piece. It gives Google a solid idea of what your page is about and will help to rank it higher in the search engines. Traffic helps you rank too (right back to that marketing). The more traffic a page gets the more likely Google will place it higher in the engine. Google thinks this page must be relevant because it’s getting lots of traffic.
If you implement SEO from the moment you start a blog your older articles are more likely to gain traction while you continue creating new content.
4) Writer's Block Is Real
Have you ever tried to write a 2000 word essay in school and get to about 1,000 words and all of a sudden you’re like, ‘shit, now what do I write about.’ Well, sometimes blogs are like that. Articles of ours like ‘how to strengthen your relationship while traveling‘ and ‘5 ways traveling can change your life‘ were difficult for us to write and took more time than some of our other articles. Sometimes the words spew out and sometimes they don’t.
It’s not always easy coming up with articles that people are going to relate to and that read well. Especially when you first start a blog, because you don’t really know your audience fully yet. Ideas also seem to come into your head at the most random times. If you don’t stop and write that idea down somewhere to remind yourself…you will lose it.
There have been countless times were laying in bed we are thinking of the most epic article ever but don’t write it down.
Then in the morning, we forget the entire idea.
Carrying a small notepad or having a section on your phone for times you get eureka moments is a good idea. If you get stuck writing an article don’t be afraid to create a draft and just leave it sitting there for a while.
If you feel pressured to sit down and write an entire article in one go you are more than likely going to struggle with it. Have a few articles on the go that you can go back to. It will also help you from panicking when you need to post an article twice a week but have no ideas. Those backburner ideas are a good thing!
It’s also not a bad idea to write your posts in a word document and save that. Just so you don’t lose anything you’ve written in case your website crashes for some reason.
5) You Don't Need To Master Code & HTML
That being said, you should at least know a small amount of information about code before you start a blog. Yes, even if you use WordPress. If something breaks on your site you need to know WHY it broke and how to fix it or at least where to find it. You may also want to know some basics as far as customizing text like bold and italics, new paragraphs and so on. If something breaks though you’re going to have to go through some code and figure out what the hell happened. Are we saying you need to be a developer to run a website? No.
Hell, we aren’t web developers!
But it has helped us quite a bit along the way to at least have a base of knowledge about what code is and what it means. Code Conquest is a great starting point for learning code and why you should know a little about it. One of the main benefits of using WordPress and hosting through SiteGround is if you need help there are loads of forums and help desk associates who can lead in the right direction.
However, if you get help from them and they explain to you how to fix something by adding code into a snippet of your website you should probably know what the hell they’re talking about.
All else fails…Google it.
6) Don't Compare Yourself To Others
Yes, there have been tears shed on this website and some of the shit that happens within it. Not from Andrew…just from me mainly. It is not for the faint of heart running a blog! But at the end of the day if it is still your passion and your dream it’s all worth it…regardless of the endless amounts of frustration you may end up going through.
We love our little blog, whether it is extremely successful or is only enjoyed by a few people throughout its lifetime. Why? Because our blog is a reflection of us and our experiences through our lives. There’s no reason in crying over that.
We do not (even to this day) know the full inner workings of a website. So when it came time for us to switch to a new website host…it got a bit messy. We recently switched from one popular platform to Siteground. Siteground made it fairly easy…but there was only so much they could do. Our site ended up fully crashing and was down for a full 24 hours at one point during the transition. Why? Because there was information stuck on the one host and we didn’t know how to retrieve it. Some of the changes we had made were reverted back to incredibly old back-ups and we lost a lot of great articles. Luckily, we were able to recover them. But we seriously just got lucky and it took a lot of work and a few tears (from Venessa of course).
So from the get go…PICK A GOOD HOST. Start a blog on the right foot. Like we said, we self-host with Siteground. It’s not super expensive and we always recommend starting your blog off by self-hosting. You can check out our guide on how to start a blog here or go right to Siteground by going here.
8) Don't Check Analytics Daily
It’s a very hard habit to break, so just don’t start it. We understand that when you start a blog you’re going to want to check if your views are increasing day by day. But don’t. Because some days you’ll be like WOW and some you might be like…WTF I’M DOING EVERYTHING RIGHT. Just relax, check it once a week if even that. You’re way more likely to fully see your growth by checking longer time spans. Which is going to make you feel a hell of a lot better about your page views and growth.
9) Talk In Your Own Voice
Finding your own voice is INCREDIBLY important. You’ll want to find it right away when you start a blog because it’s one of the main reasons your readers are going to stay. They want to hear what YOU have to say how you would actually say it. I (Venessa) write the majority of our articles because I love writing. It was a bit hard for me at first to find a voice that felt like mine. Until I just start typing the way I talk. One of the greatest compliments I have received regarding this blog was when a friend from University told me she enjoyed reading what I wrote because she could actually hear me saying it. That was HUGE. Because it told me that she connected with it on a more personal level instead of reading some boring novel.
Find your voice! Believe in it! Write in it!
10) The Blogging Community Is The Best
When you start a blog and continue to nourish and love it…it can be stressful. You might get anxious at times trying to impress your readers while gaining more. Fear of letting those people down can be overwhelming. But…find solace in your blogging community!
They are so charming and welcoming and will support your ups and downs. We are part of quite a few Facebook groups for bloggers who have been there no matter how ridiculous the questions are. They constantly support us and really are some of the best people. It’s also really exciting to see their growth (without comparing it to yours of course). Find a community that you love and get to know the people within it!
Here is a couple we love:
Female Travel Bloggers: https://www.facebook.com/groups/femaletravelbloggers/
Blogging 101: https://www.facebook.com/groups/blog101group/
Blogger Insights: https://www.facebook.com/groups/bloggerinsightcommunity/
Boost Your Blog: https://www.facebook.com/groups/963272083763338/
11) Be Consistent & Stay Committed
Starting a blog is just the first step in the blogging process, you have to stay consistent with posting on your various channels and continue staying committed to your blog if you want it to grow. It isn't a one and done type of thing, it takes a lot of hard work, dedication, and revision. If you make a blog with the idea that you can post once a month and our traffic will soar to 10,000 views a day, sadly you are wrong.
But don't get discouraged if you put in the time and effort and it slowly grows instead of skyrockets, because it will grow we promise you. It just takes time.
But if you don't go into starting a blog knowing that it is going to be a long-term commitment then your blog will most likely fail. That's also why it is so important to pick a topic you are truly passionate about, whether that's travel, finance, lifestyle, or fashion. Find something you know you will never get bored of and stick with it.
It's also important to stay consistent with your themes, writing style and voice, new article posts, and all your social media channels. Consistency is going to not only tell your audience you are committed to them it's going to tell Google you are committed too, which ultimately helps you rise in the search rankings. Google loves new and updated content that is relevant.
Starting a blog is just the beginning of a long journey to an unknown destination. But don't let all of these unknowns deter you from making a blog and getting your voice into the world. There is plenty of space in the world where your voice, opinion, and creative content belongs.
These are only a few of the things we wish we knew before starting a blog, but a lot of the things we have learned come with time, patience and practice. You're going to learn a lot when you make your own blog and all of these learnings will help you in various aspects of your life.
If you've gone through this and are ready to make your own blog, you can follow our guide here which will take you through 8 steps of starting a blog with SiteGround.