Starting a blog is like becoming a parent. It’s an exciting time full of opportunity, potential and aspiration. As a new blogger you’ll be highly motivated and full of energy, and this is important because as a new parent will tell you, this fuels you through the early stages of your newborn blog’s life. But as any new parent knows, motivation can ebb when your blog needs a nappy change at 3am and feeding not long after. What follows then is a brain dump of ideas and blogging advice for beginners, who will no doubt encounter the things I have throughout my years of raising blogs.
General Blogging Advice for Beginner Bloggers
My intention is to help you beyond the early “glow” phase of you blog’s arrival and to prepare you for some of the developmental challenges you’ll face beyond it’s birth. Hopefully this will help you overcome some of the initial difficulties in raising your newborn blog.
I’ve tried to organize the advice below according to when each tip is most appropriate in most bloggers’ journey. This is difficult to do since some of the advice does not fall neatly into a logical chronological sequence. Some of it is also general and requires continual reference. Finally, it’s not an exhaustive list of tips, so I’ll add further specific advice for beginner bloggers as and when I think of more.
1. Prepare Yourself for a Long-Haul Journey
Starting a blog is like undertaking an extremely long-distance journey. It’ll take you time to reach your destination… that’s just how it is. Like the fastest form of travel, there is a limit to how quickly you’ll get where you want to go… and the laws of online physics prevent us from going any faster.
Blogging is a process of researching, writing, publishing and promoting over a long period of time and you can’t force it. Some people get lucky, stumble into a wormhole and magically reach their destination faster than normal. But this is extremely rare.
There are ways to force growth beyond what is possible using the rules of online physics, but they’re considered black hat marketing strategies and Google issues penalties for their use. My advice is to make sure you’re squeaky clean and don’t mess with physics!
2. Do Your Homework
Since we’ve established it’ll take you some time, make sure you’ve researched your blogging niche thoroughly before you jump in. If your blog is purely a passion project, this won’t perhaps be as important for you as someone wanting to start a blog and make money from it.
For blogging beginners planning to monetize their blog, my advice to you is properly research your niche to understand:
- How competitive it is.
- How hard you’ll have to work to gain traction.
- What money making opportunities it truly presents.
- How best to promote yourself.
If you don’t do your homework, you’ll struggle when you hit unexpected challenges. Find out as much as you can about your niche and you’ll be prepared for challenges you’ve anticipated.
You can find detailed advice about niches in this excellent post by James Pierce at FromClickToSale.
3. Be Clear About What You Want
I’m talking about objectives here. What do you ultimately hope to achieve through blogging?
- Make money.
- Promote yourself.
- Have fun with a creative outlet.
We all need a strong reason to take on something as challenging as blogging. Without something to aim for, it becomes difficult to maintain focus when the chips are down and motivation is required to overcome obstacles.
Try to identify what your real motivations are and visualize them. Write them down so you’re clear and when you encounter darker moments in the blogging lifecycle, you’ll find it easier to get through them.
4. Have a Plan
I know it’s a cliche but it’s true… if you fail to plan, you plan to fail.
Planning, even if it’s basic, is going to help you reach your destination. Without a plan you’ll find it difficult to hit milestones (you might not even create them) and objectives (you MUST have some).
Your plan is the route map to your objective.
5. Make a Commitment
Perhaps one of the best pieces of advice I can offer to beginner bloggers is to commit to your blog. Setting objectives and having plans are vital… but you’ll need to commit to them.
If you’ve researched your niche properly, have objectives and plans and understand how long it’ll likely take you to get to your destination you’ll have to commit to at least the time you believe it will take. More likely is you’ll have to commit beyond this!
A lack of commitment is something that will slow you down for sure. Have a plan and commit to it as much as you possibly can.
6. Be Realistic
This advice covers a multitude of sins!
You have to be:
- Realistic in terms of your expectations.
- Authentic in everything you do.
If you expect more than what’s realistic, you’ll set yourself up for disappointment. When you’re disappointed with your progress, you’ll get despondent and lose motivation and focus. You have to be realistic in your expectations and you have to set your targets accordingly.
Don’t build a plan that’s impossible to achieve. Research your niche, understand what’ll be required of you and be realistic in what you can achieve with the available time you have.
It’s also vital to be realistic in who you are. Have you heard the expression “Be yourself. Everyone else is already taken”? Unless you have incredible writing skills, it’s difficult to sound convincing being someone else.
Don’t try to be someone you’re not, because readers will smell it a mile off!
7. Put in a Shift
This is a boring one I’m afraid. You’ll have to work… and work hard too. Probably the worst piece of advice anyone ever gave, but sadly it’s true.
This particular advice really feeds into the long-haul mentality and commitment necessities, and when combined it’s a volatile cocktail! Committing to hard work over the duration is as hard as granite. It takes grit and determination, even for highly-motivated bloggers.
With commitment and determination you can turn your blog into a monster… but only if you put in a shift!
8. Choose the Right Tools
There’s no getting around this I’m afraid, but you can’t do everything on your own. You’ll need to use the tools to help automate work and provide feedback on how your efforts are paying off.
For social media, there’s no way to keep your feeds topped up without tools to help you schedule. In order to understand your rankings in search engines, you’ll need accurate tools to check SEO. If you’re a WordPress blogger, you’ll need plugins to power up.
All successful bloggers rely on tools to help them… and beginners need to follow suit.
9. Don’t Compare Yourself to Others… But Learn From Them
Comparing yourself to others is a quick-fire way to demotivation. We all tend to be a little hard on ourselves and judging the quality of your efforts and results with those of others is not sustainable.
Everyone’s blogging journey takes a slightly different route… and the route one blogger takes might not be a good one for you. However, you can study the journey of other bloggers and try to learn from them.
Successful bloggers who’ve gone before you, have done much you can learn from. Engage with them and try to understand how they did what they’ve done… but disassociate the YOU and try not to draw negative comparisons with what you’re doing.
10. You Can’t Do Everything at Once… So Don’t Try
When you start out as a beginner blogger, it’s tempting to try to run as quickly as you can in all directions. Of course this is understandable since you’re loaded with enthusiasm. However, you can run out of steam very quickly when you don’t have focus.
Don’t try to do everything all at once. Break up your objectives into manageable chunks and don’t start too many things all at once. It’s far better to have success in a couple of areas rather than mediocre results in a whole bunch.
When you start out, you need to focus on providing value in everything you do. If you spread yourself too thin, how will that ever be possible? If you try to do too much you’ll feel overwhelmed and perhaps suffer blogger burnout… yes it’s a real thing!
11. Don’t Sweat the Small Stuff
It’s tempting to continually make big changes for small things if you don’t think of the big picture. If you’re serious about blogging, you’re going to be working at it for a long time… so don’t sweat the small stuff.
If you’re font’s not quite right, don’t spend hours looking for a new one when there’s content that needs writing. You don’t like your blog theme? That’s fine you can change your mind and get a new one… but does it need to be done today?
With aesthetics there will always be things that niggle you but try to remember that what your blog looks like today, will be very different from what it looks like in a year from now.
As a beginner blogger don’t worry about the small things that will hold you back. Make a note of them, for sure, but don’t let them get in the way of building up your content and promoting it.
12. Write and Publish as Much as You Can
Content is your oxygen. Without it your blog will never breathe. Write and publish as much as you possibly can, but keep in mind that quality content is an absolute priority.
You should be aiming to produce at least 2 detailed posts per week, more if you possibly can. Search engines love fresh content and like to see blogs that post regularly.
More importantly, the more you write the better you’ll get. The more you practise writing, the faster you’ll be able to publish.
13. Don’t Quit
Perhaps the best blogging advice for beginners I can possibly give is don’t quit! I appreciate this is a completely facile statement, but I promise you it’s valid.
Things won’t always go the way you would like them too. You might not progress as quickly as you were hoping and at times you’ll feel what you’re doing is worthless. This is normal and most of us have this experience.
Blogs fail every day and the number one reason why is because people quit them before they’ve had a proper chance to blossom. Partly they quit because they didn’t fully appreciate how hard it would be, which relates to doing your homework. Sometimes it’s because they didn’t have a plan and a strong reason for blogging.
Whatever the reason, I guarantee that if you blog for any length of time, you’ll feel like quitting.
So here’s a summary of my blogging advice for beginners in a quick list:
- Prepare yourself for a long-haul journey.
- Do your homework.
- Be clear about what you want.
- Have a plan.
- Make a commitment.
- Be realistic.
- Put in a shift.
- Choose the right tools.
- Don’t compare yourself to others… but learn from them.
- You can’t do everything all at once… so don’t try.
- Don’t sweat the small stuff.
- Write and publish as often as you can.
- Don’t quit.
Blogging in any niche is a tough game. It requires a whole bunch of skills and some mental toughness to dig in because you’ll have to commit for many months before you see any fruit.
If you follow these steps there are of course no guarantees you’ll make a good fist of it… the hard work of doing it all is down to you. However, you’ll pave the way for a smoother blogging journey, and that’s a big part of the battle.
That’s it for now… good luck to you!
What would be your best pieces of blogging advice for beginners. Please share your thoughts in a comment below.
James Pierce says
Hi Paul, this is an incredibly valuable list for any beginner blogger. And honestly, even as a veteran blogger it’s a great reminder of some very important aspects of blogging. Even on a bigger blog, things like having solid plans, making a commitment, putting in the shift… They still apply to all of us, maybe just on a bigger playing field. And thank you so much for mentioning my article about blogging niches, I appreciate this very much! Cheers, James
Thanks James. I agree… these requirements are ALWAYS relevant to any blogger at any stage but I guess beginner bloggers might not be so aware of what they’ll have to face. Your article IS excellent and a great examination of niches. I’m always delighted to share great content from other bloggers!