Blogging is a rewarding experience. It can even lead to financial gains and/or the ability to work for yourself from home (see how I built my own blog side hustle, here.) However, there is a fine art to blogging, so I put together a post on blogging tips for beginners, compiling only the information I have found the most useful in my nearly 8+ years as a blogger. (oh man, that made me feel old just now.)
Many beginner bloggers step into the space because they think it’s an easy way to make money and not work a “real job.” This is false. Anyone can blog, but it does take commitment and hard work.
Creating content every day is a grind. Tweaking your website is a grind. It takes months, really more like years, for a blog to reach its full potential. So, while there is no real way to quickly ascend the ranks of blogging, avoiding these pitfalls will help take your blog from the beginner to the intermediate level.
17 Blogging Tips for Beginners
Blogging Tip #1 – Become self-hosted/buy Hosting
If you're a beginner blogger, you might be tempted to get a free wordpress site or some other type of free blog platform.
And yes, you can get a WordPress blog for free and even set up the domain name so it looks like you're “self-hosted” (That's an industry term), but you won't be able to run ads.
You'll also look like an amateur to big-name sponsors, and will have less creative control over what the site looks like.
Blogging Tip #2 – Do Install WordPress
Pardon my french, but don't even f*ck with a blogging platform if it isn't WordPress. WordPress is the industry standard for content management. It's easy to use, gets better with every update, incredibly user-friendly and compatible with most everything. If you want a full rave about why WordPress is the bomb-diggity then click here.
Here's how to install WordPress with Hostgator – In 5 Steps
- When you completed your purchase, you should have received an email from HostGator with your cPanel username and password.
- cPanel is the portal you’ll use to manage your web hosting.
- The cPanel link is unique to you, so be sure to bookmark it for future reference.
Step #1 – Log into cPanel
Step #2 – Click on the Quick Install icon. See it? Click on it.
Step #3 – Select the domain you'd like to install WordPress to
Step #4 – Fill Out the Form
- For Admin Email, enter an email address where you want the admin password emailed to. Make sure this is a working email address!
- For Blog Title, enter the name of the website. This is what will appear in the header as the name of your site. (Don't worry, if you still don't have a name you can do this later)
- For Admin Username, enter your preferred login.
- Enter your first name & last name.
Step #5 – Hit the “Install” WordPress Button
Blogging Tip #3 – Blog about something you really care about
It's easier to talk about something you're passionate about than talking about yourself, right? If we frame everything we blog about through the lens of what we're passionate about, why we're passionate about it, and how our knowledge in the area can help others, the conversation becomes less about “me, me, me” and instead more about “this, this, this.”
There's something called the “art of authentic helpfulness” and it is critical to growing a following today. Especially as crowded as blogging is in 2019.
So, if you're thinking about starting a blog, but don't know what you'd write about…examine your own passions.
- Are you blogging about something that really sets your gut on fire?
- Do you wake up every day wanting to blog/write about your chosen subject?
- Most importantly, do you want to share that knowledge and that story so you can help people whether it's to educate, entertain, or empathize?
How do I find an idea for a blog?
“I want to write a blog, but I don't know what I'd write about.”
Honestly, I hear this all the time. More often than not, it isn't that people don't have a blog idea tucked away in their back pocket – it's that they have too many ideas and interests or they don't feel as passionately about their idea as they should.
Really, anyone can find a great idea for a blog by following these steps:
- First, examine your interests – What are you most interested in blogging about?
- Then, evaluate your expertise – What are you good at that you can write about? Your expertise will lend credibility to your topic.
- Finally, look at your origin story. What has happened in your life that makes you want to share your story? This is how you'll craft a brilliant “why” for your blog idea to share with future readers.
Most people do have a germ of a blog idea. But, you'll need to find where your passions and expertise intersect in order to give the idea some legs.
Blogging Tip #4 – Don't copy
Copying other people's work and ideas is not only lazy, but it's also dishonorable.
- Don't EVER copy someone else's work, ever.
- Don't ever copy a paragraph out of someone's blog post.
- If you like an idea or want to quote an article or blog post – either cite it or link back to it. You learned about citation in elementary school.
Blogging Tip #5 – Get comfortable with self-promotion
Being a blogger seems like a great thing if you're introverted. You can sit behind a computer all day, by yourself, and not have to talk to anyone or even get dressed if you don't feel like it.
It feels solitary and quiet, but if you're creative you can still feel like you're scratching that “artistic” itch. The thing is, a lot of blogging, is well, marketing. And in order to get a blog out there, you have to market it.
But no one's going to read your blog unless you begin telling them about it.
No one's blog just explodes these days. So if you want to blog, you have to become comfortable telling people you have one. It can't be your secret child from an illicit affair in Cancun three years ago that you only visit on its birthday. You have to nurture that sh*t.
Get featured somewhere? Sing it from the rooftops! Hit a big milestone? Tell people about it. I built a following in my early days by telling friends and family about the blog and letting them spread the word. Don't discount how far this early “organic” promotion can go toward building a readership.
Because you need a readership if you ever want to “go pro” or start monetizing.
Blogging Tip #6 – Display social proof
Blogging allows you to create a thorough content calendar filled with topics that are both of interest to you and your target audience but also gives you room to stretch, show off, and provide room for thought.
Blogging on a topic can also help you become a more credible expert in your area. I'm not a certified financial professional, but I am considered a “money expert” because I've written about the topic consistently for over seven years now.
And I built my credibility as an expert by letting people know where I've been featured. Literally, you see “as seen on” slapped over every bloggers website. This serves a purpose. It says, “hey I'm credible enough to be featured in this other really reputable place.”
It lets you know I'm not joe-x blogger off the street. Social proof demonstrates “I'm someone you should listen to/read/follow/share.”
Blogging Tip #7 – Grow an email list
Email lists are important. And it's easier to start building one sooner rather than later. And email list can help drive traffic to posts you want to promote, build engagement and community, and (eventually) help you to monetize your website by building a product and selling it to that audience.
- The best way to grow your list is to build an opt-in freebie to get others to join your email list.
- Then from there, you can start marketing your writing, affiliates, products and services to subscribers.
- After all, you already know they like you and your stuff, right? They chose to get the freebie!
Just remember with this strategy that the blog (and any opt-in freebies etc.) have to be really good appetizers – think hearty wings vs. a bowl of edamame.
You want people to read your blog/fill out your worksheets and almost feel guilty they got all of your awesome knowledge and creative assets for free.
Blogging Tip #8 – Don't be afraid to experiment
Blogging is about growth: growth in readership, growing your social following. This is why it's so important to keep experimenting: with your content, reader acquisition methods, or even the look and feel with your site so you can figure out what works and what doesn't and keep growing.
And the best (perhaps my favorite part) of starting a blog is that it is completely yours. No one can tell you what you can and can't do.
So you have my permission: get dirty and throw alllllll the spaghetti at the walls.
In order to test interest, perhaps you start writing a monthly blog about debt payoff or financial best practices. If your audience is reading it/commenting/loving it – that could be enough validation to move forward with expanding this new idea.
This is obviously a very simple example. In my own life/story – I tested free worksheets on my audience, and then used their feedback to build out my first digital products, and from there my first course.
Blogging tip #9 – Be authentic
When someone you know “in real life” mentions something you wrote on the blog, even in casual passing, it feels like someone read your diary and is discussing it with you, live in real time.
Then you remember that you wrote it and pressed publish for everyone to see.
This just comes part and parcel with being brave enough to share your story online.
Just trust me, the benefits far outweigh the negatives. What I mean when I say that is there will be far more people who love and resonate with your story than those who take offense.
On the crazy days when some troll emails you or writes something nasty, the next day someone will email you and make you feel special and like you're doing important, life-changing work because sharing your story made them feel not so crazy/alone/financially irresponsible/ etc.
Blogging tip #10 -Leverage your experiences
For example, back in 2014, I wanted to get a heap of media exposure for my blog because I felt like that was what was “missing” from my website. I pitched a ton of press opportunities on HARO (I also cover this in my “Pitching for Press Exposure Workbook” which I offer in BBA), but I wasn't getting anything.
It wasn't until I started talking about my experience as a “millennial homeowner” and that I'd been engaged and the home purchase had kinda ruined everything that I began to get attention…and lots of it.
It was uncomfortable, laying my scars and mistakes out there for all to see, but doing so tripled my blog traffic and helped me reach an audience of other potential homeowners who wanted to know how to be educated, informed consumers when making the biggest, scariest purchase of their lifetime.
So if you want to share a story and attract a ton of readers, you have to really lean on the bit of that story that's maybe a little messy.
Your experiences are what make you unique. Don't cheapen them by hiding it all away.
Blogging tip #11 – Schedule regular time to blog
Just like you schedule the gym, date night, doctors' appointments and all of the other things that absolutely must get done, when building a blogging business, it's important to schedule time with yourself to work on your project.
Mine used to be from 6-10 on Sunday evening and this was my time to write blog posts, answer emails, schedule social media and get ahead on my blog tasks for the week.
Having this set “blogging date” will enable you to enjoy weeknights (typically blog-free), and stay on top of a growing list of to-dos for your project.
Tip #12 – Consistency is key
Even if you absolutely can’t carve out the time for a four-hour blogging date with yourself each week, the trick is to figure out something you can commit to and commit to doing it consistently. Even if it’s just a half-hour on Thursday morning.
I’m in the middle of a weight loss challenge of sorts, challenging myself to take better care of myself and lose the stubborn 20 lbs I’ve gained since college. I've never been able to do it before because I'm known to get easily frustrated and give up. Lately, I've been reminding myself constantly that nothing happens overnight.
So, instead of making weight loss the ultimate goal, I set a goal of doing sixteen workouts a month (or roughly four per week.) It didn’t matter if some weeks I was better or worse than others.
The point was to create a pattern of consistency. It works the same with blogging.
Tip #13 – Do three small things each day
Blogging is no different from playing an instrument, exercising, or quitting a bad habit. To be successful, the beginner blogger has to do it every, single day. As the beginner blogs, people will start viewing the beginner’s blog habitually. Not posting content daily disrupts the pattern, leaving the habit loop open and the viewer disenfranchised. If this happens too often the viewer will drop the beginner’s blog from their list of sites they check daily.
My favorite trick is to have beginner bloggers write down three things they did for their blog business each day. If you think in terms of just three things, the overwhelm stays at bay quite a bit.
Ideally, you'd be doing this daily. But even if you're not, the next time you sit down for your blogging date (whether it's an hour or half hour..) ask yourself, what are the top three things you need to accomplish?
Tip #14 – Do engage with other bloggers
The internet, unlike TV, is a two-way medium. Viewers can interact and respond to media, and blogging at its core is a social endeavor. It’s insincere for a beginner blogger to not view and comment on other blogs. Other blogs are the best way for people to see a beginner’s blog.
Tip #15 – Learn SEO
Yes, SEO is important, but it’s more impactful for the beginner blogger to spend their time crafting quality content and interacting with people directly.
A large component of the SEO algorithm is being an authority on the subject, and until the beginner blogger has enough content to be considered an authority, it can be hard to rank.
Instead, focus on 1:1 interactions that lead to personal connections which lead to those personal connections to link, comment, and share the work on your blog.
Blogging tip #16 – Write for mobile/scanability
This is something I've had to work on each year as the standard for blogging and content changes. Now, a lot of people conduct online searches and read blogs from their mobile phones. (At night by the TV, am I right?). So instead of long term-paper paragraphs, write like you'd write your thoughts.
Separate out new thoughts/sentences/ideas into separate lines.
Think about people on their phones – how would the like to read?
Blogging tip #17 – Promote more than once
If your content is evergreen – meaning it stays fresh over a long period of time (hint: all personal finance content is fairly evergreen unless you're writing about legislation changes!)
With that said, it's important to promote content more than once. I'll admit out of all the tips on this list this is the one I should take to heart the most. I'm very bad about promoting something the week it goes live and then not promoting again until much later.
There are tools that can help you automate your content so you're posting it continually – even every 30, 60, and 90 days out. (My favorite tool for this is CoSchedule, although it is $20/month after the free trial. And that's not an #afflink, I just really like the product.)
Final Blogging tip #18 – Keep at it!
But I'll be honest: barring extenuating circumstances, if you’re not making time to blog, it’s probably because it isn’t important enough to you.
When I was a private blog coach, I got very good at telling in the first session who would be blogging four years from now, and who would give up in the first six months. After all, I can give you the tools for success, but you’re the one who has to pick up the shovel and start digging (so to speak.)
The difference between the dabblers and those who are actually able to build blogs, businesses, and income?
I’ve spoken about tenacity before, but it also has to come from a deep-rooted passion. Even if you don’t have a topic you’re necessarily passionate about yet, you have to be passionate about something – sharing your story, building a business, quitting your job, spending more time with family.
Identifying the “why” is critical, because, without it, we're just floating.
We make time for the things we want to make time for, and we’re the only ones who can control how we spend the 1440 minutes we get in a day.
Blogging Tips for Beginners: Answers to Common FAQs
How do I start a blog and make money?
Monetization comes only after you can post content consistently and build up a following. For those who are hyper-motivated, you can monetize within 6 months to a year. It took me about two years to start earning good money with a blog.
How much money can you make from a blog?
I'm now consistently at the $10k per month mark. Most bloggers make anywhere from $500 – $5k. There are a handful of bloggers making hundreds of thousands each month.
Really, it varies and also depends on how hard you want to work and how much you want to learn about blogging to optimize for income.
Is blogging still relevant in 2018?
The internet world is crowded now, but that shouldn't deter you from starting. It simply means that bloggers today have to be more strategic. Today in order to get your voice heard above the noise, you have to pick out the parts of your story that make you unique and leverage that to stand out and get noticed.
Conclusion or the TL:DR
I've gone on long enough now, but the gist of it is that if you want to blog to share a story and reach the masses you have to do three things:
- Zero in on your passions.
- Work to overcome any shyness that having a blog/being a blogger may cause.
- Leverage the unique angles of your story to garner internet exposure.
- BE CONSISTENT
Remember: The best bloggers are the ones who are master storytellers. Only through storytelling and finding your voice will you separate your baby blog from the pack.