We all want that inside scoop on what it’s really like!
I mean, when I was a lot more naïve about blogging a few months ago I LOVED reading posts like ‘what I wish I knew starting out.’
I was a sucker for those types of pins (still am sometimes) because most gave insight on what blogging is really like vs. what it’s often painted to be.
So I thought I’d whip up a post CANDIDLY sharing everything I’ve learned and come to understand from four months of serious blogging and a lot more months of serious researching.
To give some context, Teal Notes has been ‘live’ since December but I haven’t been serious about it til mid-May.
Brace yourself. I can already feel this is going to be a looong post.
Here we go!
There Is NO Fast Road + A Million Different Paths
I can’t tell you how many different blog posts I read saying that there was THE way to do something and it was THEIR way.
Can you see how this lead to mind-numbing confusion when everyone is saying something different?
Who are you supposed to listen to for clear direction anyway??
My best answer to that I can give you is- No one has YOUR answer to success.
I mean sure, seasoned bloggers can and will give you very useful tips to use on your blog journey (including me, ehem), but they don’t have a super EXACT blueprint on how it will go for you.
I think at best they can offer you a framework.
And with a framework, it’s up to you to fill in the little cracks that will ultimately bring your blog to life as you learn and make mistakes and make your own educated blogging decisions (that might not turn out in the end but that’s how you’ll learn!).
And this beautifully leads me to my next point (I wasn’t even planning it like that! Ha).
You Have To TEST Things Out
To be able to get ahead with your blog and not just be stuck in one place for half the year you really NEED to be actively experimenting.
- With your traffic
- Your content
- And your audience
You have to. you have to. you have to.
There is no other way to learn which strategy can work best for you.
You just can’t get lazy about it.
This is especially true with your Pinterest strategy, because there are so many blind spots around how the Pinterest algorithm actually works.
And I say this from experience.
At first, I was following all the advice I could get from other bloggers 5 steps ahead of me. And while I was seeing some results, it only took me so far.
What I wasn’t doing?
Experimenting and tracking my own results!
For example, I can give you a ten-step process to getting Pinterest traffic, you can follow that to a T but even then it’ll only take you so far if you don’t experiment further!
You have to be curious about your blog strategy, to see what is working and what isn’t.
Writing down important markers helps too. Like when you started pinning a certain pin to see how long it takes to get traction. Things like that.
Something else that slowed down my blog growth was…
This Here Was Probably My Biggestestest Mistake
At the risk of sounding like an overused cliché bag, sadly, I didn’t invest in my blogging education from the beginning.
I’ll be extra honest and admit, I thought I knew it all ( I mean wouldn’t you, after reading TONS of blog posts?) and that it was gonna be a breeze (it absolutely ISN’T) so I didn’t seriously consider getting paid courses from the very beginning.
THIS IS MY BIGGEST REGRET EVER.
Especially because at the time I HAD the extra money to invest in valuable education but decided against it to ‘save’ money…while I was still spending on other unnecessary things (face palm).
I guarantee you my blog would have been profitable from the start if I’d invested in blogging and affiliate marketing courses.
Instead, I’ve taken the difficult road and have been through countless knock-the-breath-out-of-your-blogging-mojo mistakes.
So. let me put it this way, please don’t think that you’ve learned it all because you’ve read the advice from 50 different bloggers.
If I could start over, boy, I’d sure take the time to get educated.
Not investing in your blogging education is like showing up at a hospital after reading a Wikipedia post on heart surgery and wanting to sign up to start giving surgeries…it just doesn’t make sense.
Right now, the most recent purchase I’ve made for my blog (and which I’m really glad I did!!) was Pinteresting Strategies.
I kept coming across it I bought it because it was affordable and it seemed to be able to deliver on its promise (It sure has! Check out my traffic report here).
Hands down, I SO plan on investing in more blogging education in the future without even batting an eye.
Take Note of This: something interesting I’ve noticed is that with bloggers that are profitable almost from the start, they’ll show you their income reports and they’ll then list all of their blogging education that helped them get there.
ALL the early profitable bloggers I’ve come across have invested in some sort of education.
Blogs Out There Usually Fall Into Two Categories
This is something that I kept trying to conceptualize in my head for the longest time after coming across blog after blog and their monetization strategies.
Now I feel like I can explain it to myself a little better. So I include it to hopefully clear some things up for you too.
Here are my two cents on this.
So— In my head, blogs fall into two categories: The Means To An End Brand Strategy Blogs and The End Itself Content Strategy Blogs (lifestyle blogs aka mine, fall into content strategy blogs).
The Means To An End Strategy Blog
Some people blog as a way to bring attention to whatever they are selling that isn’t directly their blog, and they use their blog content to do that. Maybe that is to bring attention to their podcast, their freelance services, or their online summits.
That’s to say, their blog is the means to an end. And they heavily focus on brand building
EOS On Fire
The End Itself Content Strategy Blogs
Some people blog and their blog itself IS the business.
They monetize it with affiliates (sometimes products too), find and write about the most popular topics, and grow their blog and income by writing useful content and monetizing it.
Usually, lifestyle blogs end up in this category. They act as kind of mini publisher type blogs.
The Write Life
The Penny Hoarder
The Krazy Coupon Lady
Why does this distinction matter? Because it will dictate what kind of blog you want to have, how long it’ll take you to monetize, and the content you create as part of your blog strategy.
If it’s more of a publisher type lifestyle blog, then your strategy will be different and will focus on producing useful monetizable content.
If it’s more of a highly branded blog that is the means to the end then your content strategy will also be different and will be more geared toward building a super loyal niche audience.
It can get a little confusing because sometimes different blogs can blur the line and act as both, or they evolve from one to another after seeing certain results.
This distinction was important for me because it cleared up my blog strategy.
I keep trying to publish content that wasn’t really aligned with my blogging goals.
Teal Notes used to be a marketing blog, but now it’s a lifestyle blog (and I’m so much more happy with it this way because I’m clearer on my content strategy).
Hopefully, this makes sense to you and clears things up too?
Visual Branding Isn’t Do or Die
I wholeheartedly believe this with blogging.
You don’t need to have the most put together and greatest visual branding in the world to see your blog succeed.
True, your blog might not get the award for best lookin’ blog on the block, but it can still function and do well without super duper looks.
With all the content I read in the beginning, I was led to believe that what my blog looked like was SO important.
And it is, but only to a certain point.
Really, it’s what your blog delivers, if it gives value through its content, and the connection you’re able to create with your audience.
Especially your email list. Ya gotta nurture that email list! Still learning to do that, gah!
Don’t Try to Be An Inventor!
Don’t get me wrong, I LOVE finding new ways to do things but—
For example, many people will wrack their brains for the next best blog post they’ll publish to their blog audience…when the answer is right in front of them (this was me for the longest time).
Frameworks exist for a reason.
For instance, this is why there are TONS of ‘how to’ posts out there.
Everyone wants to and needs to learn how to do something on a daily basis. Even more so with blogging, it’s a huge learning curve for most of us.
And this is why ‘how to’ posts never go out of style.
Revamping Is ‘A O.K’
I’ve gone through so many blog changes its CRAZY. This is partly due to not being clear on what I wanted to blog about (despite doing my homework and researching and brainstorming).
But, the big lesson here is: take the plunge even if you feel like you’re not quite ready (another TRUE cliché, Yippee!)
At first I wanted to blog about blogging and creating content, then I realized I had a chicken and the egg problem here. How was I gonna blog about blogging when I don’t even have results to show for??
So, I decided to revamp it into a lifestyle blog instead, and blog about things that I did know about (and had more fun creating content for!).
And that’s where I am now. No revamps anytime soon. I’m pretty sure I’ve found my rhythm for the most part.
So, my humble advice to you is, if you don’t have a clear blog direction from the beginning, don’t be afraid to revamp until you’re satisfied.
In other words: Don’t be afraid to jump out of the plane and build the parachute on your way down!
Like one of my blogging friends told me, short-term doesn’t matter. You have to look ahead, to what could be.
Here is What to Watch Out For In Blogging Income Reports
The amount of misleading blog income reports out there is REAL.
Man, where do I start? I fell for the trap, and as a result thought that making a profit with a blog was an easy thing to do.
So, really quick, this is what to watch out for: Many bloggers will report income ‘earned’ and not paid.
Now, what does this mean?
Look at it like this. In a month’s time, a bunch of people will walk into a store and buy stuff, especially if there are special offers you just can’t refuse, right?
But then, at the end of that month, when the store needs to check its balances and how much they’ve actually made (as in that money is in their bank account) the numbers will be much different than initially thought once it’s all said and done.
They might have reported earnings in the10,000’s but really, after customer returns, their earnings really ended up being $6,700.
This is the same with blogging, especially with affiliate links.
Bloggers can report the income made as it comes in, but not necessarily the amount that actually ends up in their bank account, which can be a much different number.
What happens then? You’ve got inflated income reports selling, I hate to say it but, unrealistic dreams.
Watch out for that next time you read an income report. I know they can be addicting. Don’t just let yourself be misled by mere numbers.
Be smart about it.☺
Keep in mind, I could literally claim I’ve made $13,000 blogging last month and you could just take my word for it. This was just such an eye-opener for me and took me a while to figure out, so—
Rewarding Experiences and Content
But, have I mentioned how REWARDING blogging can be??
It’s awesome to be able to help others on the same journey as you with the same hopes and dreams!
To be able to build something from scratch and put it out there to thousands of people that find it useful and interesting? Priceless.
I recently joined a Slack channel with other like-minded bloggers and it’s been such a game changer.
You make awesome friends with people that are nowhere near you physically but that have your same interests. Never underestimate the power of community (even if it’s online!).
Strategy Over the Perfect theme/font/logo ANY DAY
Agh! I can’t stress this enough! Make sure you pay attention to strategy instead of trying to spend hours finding the perfect name or logo!
I’m telling you strategy is what you need to pay attention to.
Strategy with content and your pinning strategy and your social media strategy, NOT should I have four brand colors or two (I made the mistake of spending waaaaayyyy too much time getting hung up on things like that that really didn’t matter).
Should You Pick the Perfect Blog OR Blogging Friends?
Blogging friends. Forever and always.
Blogging friends help you network, create connections, and together you build an awesome safety net where you can exchange ideas.
If a blogging genie happens to cross your path one day and ask you that magic question, always go with the blogging posse.
Blogging Is Invasive
I started obsessing over Teal Notes because I wanted to make it work. The results? Not as many friends as before.
On a very personal note, starting a blog business can be a very big time suck and you’ll often be faced with making choices other people might not like so much e.g. do I go out for dinner just because or do I hunker down and invest four hours into writing more blog content?
The choice is yours to make, but the consequences of those choices aren’t.
And if you keep choosing your blog (remember, it’s a business you’re building) over other things you used to do, well, things are bound to change over time.
This is true for habits too! You’ll start getting up earlier or going to sleep later working away on your laptop, or reading an e-book.
It just comes with the territory, and unfortunately many people will not understand that, well yeah, you ARE trying to build a business and yeah, you ARE making different decisions to create something for yourself even if they don’t understand your goals.
There You Have It. I’ve Poured My Blogging Heart Out To You
I’m gonna keep the conclusion short since this is a long post.
I really seriously hope you got some value out of me pouring my heart out and detailing my biggest mistakes.
I hope I was able to clear some things up for you.
Thanks for sticking with me and reading til the end. Remember, stay motivated!
Oh, and sign up to the email list to get more candid insight like this or if you have any questions you want personally answered!