Ask the Experts: What do you wish you had known…
It’s time again to Ask the Experts
Welcome to the 2nd installment of Ask the Experts (Experts, Experts, Experts…) And yes, this is exactly how it should be read, like you’re yelling into the Grand Canyon.
As a reminder to you, my Lovelies, this series is dedicated to newbie (and not-so-newbie) bloggers where questions are answered by some of the best veteran bloggers working today.
Please note the following disclaimer:
The information obtained from the following bloggers are their own opinions and do not necessarily reflect those of Not a Lazy Susan. Any editing made to the blogger’s contribution was due to spelling and/or grammatical errors. (Just so you know.)
What do you wish you knew about blogging that you didn’t find out about until later?Share this tweet and learn what experienced bloggers wanted to know when starting out. Click To Tweet
I remember when I first started. I was bright-eyed and completely optimistic, but also a little naive and definitely over my head. There are so many things that I wish I had known prior to blogging: time management, setting up an editorial calendar, what are the best plug-ins to use. And I’m still learning. So now that I’ve done this thing called blogging for over a year now, I wanted to get opinions from other bloggers. This was a hugely popular topic and I have 11 bloggers who want to share…
Pierre from Anything Under Our Stars
First up is Star and Pierre from Anything Under Our Stars, a travel blog. This couple is living the laptop lifestyle for real! Can you imagine, traveling for your blog, snapping photos, taking in the sights? Sounds like a beautiful dream – one that I wouldn’t want to wake up from anytime soon.
Here is Pierre’s story about how the blog started and what he wished he had known early on:
My girlfriend and I decided to start a travel blog last April 2017 since we’ve been traveling a lot the past 4 years. This idea came from a number of YouTube videos that we watched which showed how easy it was making money off from blogging. But little did we know, there was more to that. Since I do most of the techy stuff, here are my top 3 things I should’ve known … about blogging.
1)Blogging is not as easy as 1-2-3.
I wish … YouTubers would’ve told me about this before that blogging is more complicated than it seems. SWEAR! I thought that getting the website up and running was the hardest part. But it was just the tip of the iceberg. It’s more than just the “write and publish” part. Every article should be SEO’d and promoted to get your blog noticed. These two [are the] bread and butter of blogging [and they are] what I’m working on to get better. If only I have gone to school for blogging … this would’ve been easier.
2)Investment in time
I have a couple of days off from work in a month but it seems that each day I spent on working on the blog is not enough. Each and every single detail about blogging is foreign to me. So, most of the day is reading and watching “how to” [videos] about blogging which consumes the rest of my day as a newbie.
3)Blogging is like joining a mafia.
Yeah, that’s right! M.A.F.I.A. In order for you to succeed in this world of blogging, you need to belong to a group; e.g. blogging support groups or blogging collaboration groups. They are a must to succeed. These groups will definitely launch your career from A to Z. So if you’re new to blogging and you want to make it on your own, forget about that! You need those connections to be successful.
Monika from Animallama
Next up is Monika with her awesome blog about her love for animals as well as pet care tips, advice and product recommendations. I love her post about attracting cardinals. I love seeing cardinals flying around and I’m lucky that in Pennsylvania, I often get to see them out and about. I’m definitely going to be trying her tips. Such a thorough post!
Monika’s take on what she wished she knew about blogging came to her after she started her 2nd blog:
When I first started blogging 3 years ago, (on my first blog that I have since “abandoned”) I wanted to be as private as possible and I didn’t like sharing too much of my personal stuff. My blog posts were mostly generic, and even though they included useful facts and info, they were boring to read. At that time, I just started writing and I had no idea what kind of content people [would] like.
After a year of blogging, I realized that in order to attract dedicated readers, [I would] have to include [my] personality and … stories [on my] blog. That is what I am learning to do on my 2nd blog Animallama.
People will return to your blog to read your posts because they can relate to you and feel as if they are reading a letter from a dear friend they love and trust. And this is only possible if you let your character and your personality show in your content, be it your interesting personal opinions, awkward humor or tiny stories from your personal life that relate to your content.
When I started my blogging journey, I thought I had to be an expert in what I’m writing about and that my credibility [would] be lost if I write about the mistakes I [made]. But actually, our mistakes are a valuable learning lesson for our readers and those mistakes only show that we are imperfect just like everyone else and that we learned something from our mistakes, so our readers can … too.
People want to see your journey, the good and the bad sides of it, and in the world full of marketing fluff, people will respect your honesty and authenticity.
Joelle Byrne from The Yorkshire Pudding
The Yorkshire Pudding is a blog about women taking time, that is not only deserved but necessary, for themselves and is brought to us by Joelle. When I read Joelle’s “About Me” page, I knew that I was going to like her based on this one sentence alone, “My roles also include author, wife, homeowner, friend, taxi service, chief-mopper-upper and mother of dragons….oh no sorry, red-haired children and border collies!” I mean if you are going to call dibs on a character, Daenerys Targaryen is pretty high up there. Incidentally, I call dibs on Hermione Granger!
Joelle’s insight on what she wished she had learned is all about the business of running a blog:
I wish I’d know more about running a blog as a business; to ensure you’re focusing on your reader and not yourself. I’d have planned content intentionally from day one. It’s one of the biggest mistakes I see newbies making, and it’s a simple fix to be more focused and business-minded from the outset. Sure, you’re awesome, but all your audience wants to know is what’s in it for them.
Knowing your audience’s purpose requires adjusting your perspective. The bloggers who want to create a business from their passion should seek to understand the concept of becoming a brand right from the get-go.
Why? Because your platform is pre-prepped for the hordes of adoring fans that will surely come! Your writing is already filling a need, and instead of frantically reacting after they’ve arrived, you can ensure your editorial calendar is proactive and strategic. You can ensure that you provide amazing, free value while signposting paid offers that help your readers.
Having to spend time going back through blog posts creating links, adjusting content and generally re-jigging your hard work is counterproductive and soul-destroying! It delays progress massively when it comes to making the dollars you deserve.
Tanya Mulqueen from Yummy Lil’ Things
Tanya’s blog, Yummy Lil’ Things, is all about loving and appreciating the good things in life. I love her philosophy, “Yummy food…yummy drinks…and other little things that can help me have a yummy life.” From mouth-watering recipes to reviews on subscription food boxes, Tanya covers it all.
Pinterest, or as I like to think of it – the internet’s magazine, and how this platform can drive traffic is Tanya’s recommendation for getting started in the world of blogging:
When I started Yummy Lil’ Things, I knew from the beginning that Pinterest was going to be a huge part of my marketing strategy. Food and lifestyle blogging is so visual and Pinterest is all about the photos. The perfect match for bloggers. After almost a year of blogging, it has become my main source of traffic.
It wasn’t until recently that I started adding my long Pinterest pins to the end of my posts. That way, when people pin my post from the social sharing buttons – it pulls up the pretty long pin instead of images that aren’t “Pinterest friendly”. I feel like I may have missed out on some re-pins because I didn’t have the long pins as an image option.
I also wish I knew about Social Warfare – it’s been a game changer since I’ve started using it. It allows you to create descriptions not only for your Pinterest pins but other social media platforms too. You have more control over ALL of your social media descriptions, which is so much better for your brand. It’s a premium plugin, but definitely worth it!
Christiana from Christiana Acha
A near-death experience is what brought Christiana into the world of blogging. Her story is remarkable and available to read on her blog. I warn you though, get the tissues ready.
Here is the one thing that Christiana wishes that she knew about blogging when she was getting started:
Get a niche, yes please!!! One of the biggest regrets I have in blogging is the fact that when I started out I really had no idea what I was doing. I had no idea that I needed to have a niche. Sometimes it feels like I wasted all that time writing a bunch of irrelevant stuff.
I still cringe at the thought of all the things I wrote about when I started out as a new blogger. There is no topic under the sun I didn’t write on. … Before you begin your career in blogging, find your niche. Make sure it’s something you have much knowledge about and are passionate about too. … Having a niche gives you direction and makes it easy for you to find your readers; [the] people who are interested in the same things as you.
Jenny from Rabbit Ideas
Rabbit Ideas is a blog that provides literacy ideas for toddlers, on a budget. Jenny’s insight from product reviews to incorporating learning with playtime is truly enlightening. She has some terrific ideas that I’m going to explore with my little one.
Jenny from the
block blog also dives into the importance of knowing your niche. But she also explains that broadening one’s scope is just as important:
When I first started blogging I dived deep into online research. Time and again blogging experts emphasized the importance of finding a ‘niche’. I agree that this is useful in terms of locating and interacting with people who would be interested in your content. However, I think I took it to an extreme and so found myself deliberately not blogging about topics which were current, interesting and broadly relevant because they fell just outside my very specific niche area. This ran the risk of making my blog repetitive, as I scrambled around to re-hash ideas which I felt I had already covered in previous content.
If you look at my blog today, you will find it falls under a clear subject area of Early Years education. However, I have also included posts about using social media within that context, as well as product reviews of activities which my readers are interested in, both at home and in an education setting. I’ve learned that whilst a niche is a good thing, it is also good to broaden your scope and look outside of your bubble; there is often great inspiration waiting there, too!
Marie from Blog on the Side
Next up is Marie and her website, Blog on the Side, where she endeavors to help others in the blog-o-sphere. I love her style and all the great content she offers – it’s a must see!
Marie’s contribution to what she wished she knew about blogging is something that has affected me as well – time management:
The number one blogging lesson I’ve learned is that it’s far too easy to get distracted with ‘busy’ work. It’s so easy to fall into the trap of prioritizing tasks that seem important, but really don’t drive you any closer to your goals.
I’ve been so guilty of this… Spending hours tweaking my Pinterest board covers… Falling down the rabbit hole of mindless Facebook Group scrolling… And jumping from eBook to eBook learning about tons of different digital marketing strategies (and never actually implementing any of it!)
The times that I have seen the most progress is when I have forced myself to prioritize and implement the things that actually matter. Like building my email list (and taking the time to actually email them!)
The best way to avoid the ‘busy’ work trap? Every time I sit down to blog I check my goals for that month and make sure my task list is helping me get there. This is especially important when I have only a few hours a week to blog.
Kristie McCollum from The Official ceoMom
Kristie of The Official ceoMom is up next. As an online business consultant and social media strategist, Kristie helps women build not only a blog but a brand. She also has done something that I want to explore, podcasting!
Here are Kristie’s insights about what to know about blogging when getting started:
When I started blogging years ago, it was more so as a hobby. My very first blog was a homeschool blog where I shared weekly tips and curriculum ideas. I was ignorant of things like email marketing, branding, or reach when it came to blogging. It wasn’t until I started blogging for business that I started searching for strategies and tools to grow my audience.
After blogging for three years, I started podcasting as a way to expand my audience and grow my brand. Hosting a podcast transformed my blogging business. If there was anything I wish I knew when I started blogging, it would be to have started my podcast sooner.
Creating a community around your blog focus is key. Launching my podcast was transformative for my blog and community. My target audience is full of busy moms, most with two or more children at home. Many of us barely have time to read a blog post or watch a video. But we can listen to a podcast while driving our children to school, cleaning our homes, or while doing work. Podcasting is a great way to expand your reach, build your community, and also make an income.
Scarlett from Scarlett Ballantyne and By Scarlett Ballantyne
Scarlett’s blog is all about the side hustle. I can relate! And not only does she talk the talk, she walks the walk as a writer and photographer. Her stock photos are gorgeous!
Scarlett’s advice when starting out deals with marketing and the different ways to monetize:
When I started blogging in 2010, blogs were simply the best way to share your work in an online journal format. As a working makeup artist, I shared photos and other bits about my life and simply pressed publish and waited.
Later on, I started sharing my blog posts on Facebook with links but overall, I simply had no marketing strategy. Other bloggers I knew had an extreme routine of commenting on 30 other blogs every day! Similarly, today when you publish a blog, you need to push it out to social channels and then strategically use social media to comment and connect with others. Blogs that are generating hundreds of thousands of views are putting a lot of time into promotion. Writing a blog is one thing, but promoting it is another. Overnight success can occur for some, but for most bloggers, it takes time, effort and strategy to become known. I wish that I followed a strategy from day one – even though I’ve had variations of my blog for a long time, I’m still fairly small compared to some others. Today I use Pinterest as my main promotional tool to drive traffic to my blog.
The second thing I learned is there is not one simple way to make money blogging. There are lots of different ways – offering your own services, developing courses, adding sidebar advertising, or affiliate links. Truth be told, it is not a straight path, and I have tried things that worked for a while, and then abandoned them and tried others. Out of the few different businesses I have had, blogging as a business is truly the hardest to monetize. If you are starting a blog as a side hustle, I strongly recommend taking a course or learning about affiliate income from the start. I have had a few side gigs, such as makeup artistry, direct sales, ghost-writing and contributing to other websites, that has helped me to earn income with my blog.
Nadalie Bardo from It’s All You Boo
Nadalie’s blog is one of inspiration, ways to make things happen and be successful at it too. She is a cheerleader in the best sense of the word.
Here’s what Nadalie had to say about working smarter, not harder:
I wish someone had told me about time blocking and batching tasks. A year+ into blogging now, it has been the one thing that has helped me get more done in less time. As a one-woman show, I’m blogging, coaching and also my own VA. If you have no idea what I’m talking about, basically you take your list of blogging tasks you need to do monthly and you designate blocks of time for each task. For example, you can write and schedule all your blog posts for the entire month in a block of time, say over a weekend. Then, you create and schedule all your social media posts for the entire month at one time. This way you’re able to focus and get more done. Time blocking and task batching is the cure for failing at multitasking.
Mick Meaney from Profit Copilot
Last, but certainly not least, is Mick Meaney who offers ways for bloggers to do everything from list building, SEO, affiliate marketing and more. He even has a YouTube channel which is super informative. Mick is the real deal and an authority on ways to better your blog.
Not only did Mick provide his insight, he even included a diagram to illustrate his point:
The one thing I wish I knew when I first started back in 2004 was how to properly monetize a blog, so I could take the leap from hobby to pro blogger.
It took a few years to figure it out, but I realized I was already doing the hardest part; creating content.
I just had to structure it and package it in the right way, so my visitors could see the true value of my work.
As soon as I created content that was structured as an online course, making the leap from hobby to pro was a natural progression.
If you want to monetize your blog, here’s the same framework so you can create your own online courses.
On one side we have the main problem your visitors have, and on the other side, we have the solution.
You need to take them from one side to the other, quicker than they could on their own.
So just write down all the milestones that your visitors need to take to arrive at the solution. Now drill down into each milestone and list all the steps they need to take, so they can complete every milestone.
This is the correct way to structure the content of your online course to ensure your students get the best possible experience from you.
If you have been blogging for just a little while or are wanting to give it a try, I hope that this post has helped in some way. I have always been the type to try it and learn along the way. Blogging can be fun as long as you have practical expectations and a passion to share your knowledge. An exercise that helped me immensely was creating a vision board. It put me into the mindset of starting my business and inspired me to put myself out there. The blog-o-sphere can be a scary place but it can also be a supportive community. Surround yourself with other bloggers and you’ll find that many are willing to help. Click on this link for a list of free resources that I have put together when it comes to blogging and beyond.
In compiling the information from all of these bloggers, I know I learned a lot. I want to thank all of my contributors for their valuable contributions to this post.
- Pierre from Anything Under Our Stars
- Monika from Animallama
- Joelle Byrne from The Yorkshire Pudding
- Tanya Mulqueen from Yummy Lil’ Things
- Christiana from Christiana Acha
- Jenny from Rabbit Ideas
- Marie from Blog on the Side
- Kristie McCollum from The Official ceoMom
- Scarlett from Scarlett Ballantyne and By Scarlett Ballantyne
- Nadalie Bardo from It’s All You Boo
- Mick Meaney from Profit Copilot
If you have any ideas for a future post or have a burning blogging question for the Ask the Experts series, please send me an email at firstname.lastname@example.org or feel free to comment below.
Until next post, Lovelies…