Today’s the one-year anniversary of starting my personal finance blog Money Done Right.
And boy, what a trip it’s been.
Within 6 months of launching Money Done Right, I was able to grow it a $10,000-per-month business while working a full-time job.
Once it was clear to me that my blog was a viable business, I put in my notice to my employer, and I quit my job shortly thereafter.
Within 12 months of launching my blog (and 3 months as a full-time blogger), I was netting over $30,000 per month.
My five-year goal is to net over $100,000 a month.
But it was not all sunshine and roses the whole time.
Not by a long shot.
Here are 23 things that I wish I knew when I started blogging.
Now that I run in blogging circles, I can’t tell you how many people I meet who hem and haw about starting their blog.
They take my free 9-day blogging course and send me email after email asking the same things over and over:
- Should I start my blog now?
- Can I really make money blogging?
- Will you help me learn how to blog?
Yes, yes, yes.
If these people weren’t such babies, I would shake them like a Polaroid picture!
Don’t let that be you.
Check out my foolproof step-by-step guide to launching your blog in less than 10 minutes, and start your blog already!
2. It’s going to be hard at first.
Now, just because you start a blog doesn’t mean that you’re going to make money from it right away.
No business in the freaking world works like that.
Like a farmer, you have to prepare the soil, plant the seed, water the fields, harvest the crop, and then you will make money.
It’s a process.
And so it is with blogging.
3. WordPress is the best blogging platform.
Guys, gals, and everyone else.
Let me say this once and for all.
Start your blog on WordPress.
Yes, I know that Wix and Squarespace have put out some pretty cute marketing campaigns recently.
And they’re great platforms and all, but Wix and Squarespace are built for product- or service-based businesses, not blogs.
But don’t worry; when it comes to WordPress, I got you covered.
4. You really should invest in a good theme.
Folks, my first blog failed.
It completely bombed.
Because it looked like crap.
Because I went cheap on the theme.
Don’t be like that.
Your blog is your business; invest in it.
5. Pinterest is amazing.
Pinterest is an incredible platform.
In my blog’s first 3 months, I got 20,935 visitors from Pinterest alone!
And I had absolutely no background in Pinterest before.
I thought Pinterest was the domain of wedding cakes and decorating ideas, not something that would turn my blog into a money machine.
Boy, was I wrong.
So be sure to at least test out Pinterest for what it can do for your blog.
You may be surprised at what Pinterest can do for you!
6. But you shouldn’t neglect Google.
Now, however, Money Done Right gets most of its traffic from Google.
Google is a long game, however.
You can’t really force it; you just have to put out good content, optimize your posts for Google, and then rinse and repeat.
That being said, I have heard very successful bloggers that I know and respect say that you can’t optimize for both Pinterest and Google at the same time.
This is simply not true.
See, with Pinterest, how you do is determined primarily by your pins’ appearances and your pinning strategy.
But with Google, it’s all about your content as well as off-page strategies such as backlinking.
They are two totally different ballparks, and it is possible for you to hit a grand slam in both!
7. Your permalink structure should be yourblog.com/blog-post-title.
Here’s a WordPress freebie (more where that came from in my full-blown Blogging Done Right course).
You don’t want your blog post URLs to look like this: bloggingdoneright.com/2018-07-15/category/start-a-blog/things-to-know-when-starting-a-blog
You want it to look like this: bloggingdoneright.com/things-to-know-when-starting-a-blog
And doing this is easy.
In WordPress, go to Dashboard > Settings > Permalinks, and select the radio button for “Post Name”.
You like that?
Well, there’s more where it came from in the Blogging Done Right course.
8. Keep your readers first; your blog isn’t about you.
I think another reason that my first blog failed was that it was first and foremost about me and then about my readers.
When I pictured Millennial Money Club, I pictured myself as the star of the show, not my readers.
But with Money Done Right, that focus shifted.
Instead of starting each blog post asking myself, “What can I tell my readers about me?” I now ask, “What can I tell my readers that will be useful to them?”
Obviously, sometimes my personal experience helps to this end, but telling my readers about “me, me, me” isn’t my goal anymore.
9. It’s not that hard to create an email address for your blog.
When I started my first blog, I was [email protected]
Now I’m [email protected]
Much more professional.
And guess what?
I can show you exactly how to do this too in my mammoth Blogging Done Right course.
10. Check to make sure your blog’s name isn’t trademarked.
I speak from experience on this one.
As if there weren’t enough things wrong with my original blog Millennial Money Club, I also made the mistake of not checking http://tmsearch.uspto.gov/ to make sure that no other blogger was already using my name.
See, if I had taken this all-important step, I would’ve realized that another blogger had trademarked “Millennial Money” with respect to blogs.
Although it’s anyone’s guess who would’ve won if push came to shove, it’s simply a good idea to be original and unique with your blog name.
11. Don’t try to re-invent the wheel; reverse engineer what works.
Blogging’s pretty simple, actually.
Create valuable content that helps people, put this content in front of people, and promote quality products and services in your content to make you money.
Many people (including myself) have gone down this road before.
And you know the best part?
You can basically see exactly what they’re doing!
It’s all right there on the Internet!
Blogging is all about reverse engineering success.
In fact, Im such a big fan of reverse engineering that this is exactly what I do in my Blogging Done Right course: I basically show you screenshots of what my blog looks like behind the scenes!
12. Your email list is super important.
Pretty much every blogger will tell you that they wished they had started their email list earlier in their blogging journey, and I’m no exception.
And I’ll tell you why.
Consider for a moment that my blog’s primary traffic sources are Google and Pinterest.
What if one of these platforms (or, God forbid, both) decide they don’t like my blog anymore and don’t put it in front of as many viewers?
Worse, what if these platforms completely blacklist me such that my blog has no traction whatsoever on them?
Answer: my blog will die unless I have been cultivating my own audience over email.
See, your blog’s email list is pretty much its only asset.
And it’s one that can generate for you tens if not hundreds of thousands of dollars over the years if you know what you’re doing.
13. Don’t niche down too much.
Every day I get emails from people thinking about starting a blog with their “ingenuous” blog idea.
Usually it’s something off the wall like “a nutrition blog for vegan college track and field runners.”
Please don’t do this.
You want at least 10,00,000 in your blog’s target audience.
Go ahead and write a few blog posts about the nutrition needs of vegan college track and field runners, but maybe think a little broader when it comes to your blog’s niche as a whole.
14. Remember that most people will likely be reading your blog on their phone.
After you publish a blog post, be sure to check and see what it looks like on your phone.
This is easy to forget since we typically create content on a laptop or desktop computer.
However, Internet activity is skewing more and more every year toward mobile devices, and you have to make sure that your content looks good on mobile as well as desktop.
15. Skip the fluff.
Focus more on quality than length.
It’s better to have 1,000 interesting, attention-grabbing words than 1,000 interesting, attention grabbing words + 1,000 fluffy, meaningless words that you just wrote so you can say you wrote a 2,000-word article.
Remember, your goal is to build trust with your audience, and the way to do this is to give them quality content.
16. Spend an extra few minutes on your headlines.
Like it or not, a blog post’s headline is the most important factor in determining whether or not someone’s going to read that blog post.
So make sure you don’t rush through hashing out your headline.
Don’t be afraid to use “power words” like “best” or “incredible” or “amazing”.
17. Keep your sentences and paragraphs short.
Nobody wants to read a wall of text, and this is especially true on mobile.
So while this isn’t what you were taught in English class, err on the side of shortness.
You want to be seen as an authority in your niche.
But if your blog posts are riddled with grammatical and spelling errors, many people will not view you as highly as they should.
So be sure that your blog posts are tip-top before pressing “Publish”!
19. Compress images before uploading.
Page speed is of utmost importance to guaranteeing your readers have a positive experience on your blog.
And nothing kills page speed faster than huge images on your blog posts.
So before you upload images to your blog, be sure to compress them with a free online image compressor.
You can Google “free image compressor” to find websites where you can do this for free.
20. Content first, money second.
I know it’s easy to only see dollar signs when starting a business, and blogging is no exception.
You have to focus first and foremost on the fundamental thing of your business.
For a pizza parlor, this is making the best pizza in town.
For a barber, this is making people look the best they can.
And for a blogger, this means writing the most valuable, interesting content on your given topic on the Internet.
Only when you have done this can you expect to make top dollar.
Don’t put cart before horse.
21. Write listicles.
Listicles are simply “list articles”.
Get it? It’s a portmanteau.
Anyway, people love listicles.
Here are some examples from Money Done Right that have done really well:
- 7 Side Hustle Ideas to Earn $500+ a Month from Home
- 17 Money-Making Apps that Pay You
- 100+ Ways to Make Extra Money
22. Data is your friend.
You need to analyze what’s working on your blog, or you won’t know how to improve.
The easiest way to get a lot of data regarding your blog for free is by using Google Analytics.
By installing Google Analytics on your blog, you get access to a dizzying array of data, including:
- How many people visited your blog posts each day
- What city they live in
- How they accessed your site
- What pages they visited on your site
- What link they clicked on to leave your page
- And a heck of a lot more
We go over how to install Google Analytics on your blog in our Blogging Done Right course.
23. Shoot for the moon.
Dream big, blogger.
Don’t underestimate yourself.
Never in a million years did I think that I would be making over $20,000 a month doing what I love.
But here I am.
And maybe you’re next.