There’s lots of advice out there for blogging beginners, from how frequently to post, what types of content to create, how to monetize your blog early, how to drive more traffic to your blog, and even what blogging platforms to use for the best customization options.
In fact, there are so many blogging trends, tips, and best practices to follow that it’s easy to get overwhelmed if you’re first starting your blog. Should you focus more on creating quality content, producing more posts, promoting your blog on social media, or something else? You only have so much time on your hands, so deciding where to focus your efforts is one of the biggest challenges you’ll face when first starting your blog.
To help you cut through the noise, we reached out to a panel of seasoned bloggers and asked them to answer this question:
“What’s advice do you wish you’d been given when you were first starting your blog?”
Meet Our Panel of Blogging Experts:
Read on to learn what our experts had to say about the advice they wish they’d been given when first starting their blogs.
Alistair Dodds is the Marketing Director and Co-Founder of London based Digital Marketing Agency EIC Marketing.
“My advice would be to take the time to do thorough competitor analysis and keyword research on your topic and to discover all the FAQs users regularly post on the subject. That way, you can plan your content calendar accordingly to ensure, even from launch, that you are addressing the key questions people are seeking answers for and to start to accumulate a strong long-tail keyword showing.
The reason I say this is because so many people give up so early and easily when they don’t see traffic and engagement with their posts. It can be extremely disheartening especially when so much writing time is invested. So plan in advance how to build a full bank of content on a theme topic and take the time to make it more engaging than the existing content in the market, be it through accompanying graphics, voiceover audio, or video.”
Brady Cargle is the Chief Marketing Officer of PeerBoard.com.
“Expect it to take longer than you think. No matter what you’re doing, the feedback loop for blogging is measured in months or even years. You can’t expect to do something today and see a result in the next few days or weeks. It just doesn’t work that way.
Expect it to be harder than you think. In part due to the long feedback loop, blogging is hard. Most people live their lives as consumers, and making the switch to being a producer of content is tough for them. There is a learning curve. Expect to grind through the suck for a while.
Become a master at keyword research. The topics you’re writing about determine your success. I would tell myself to spend a long time getting familiar with keyword research (figuring out what people are searching for online). Spend more time than you think necessary watching YouTube videos, learning different methods, and compiling the habits of successful people here. If you get this right, everything else becomes easier, the feedback loop grows shorter, and you will get more traffic with less struggle.”
John Bedford is the founder of Viva Flavor, a site dedicated to helping amateur cooks explore the world of food and drink.
“Research before writing, and set realistic goals. My biggest piece of advice is to set a pre-researched but realistic editorial calendar. Personally I work on project hubs of 50 articles at a time. I know exactly what’s on the stack, the project I’ll be working on next, and I don’t waste any time scratching around for article ideas after the research phase is over.
The second part of the equation involves being realistic. It is extremely easy to believe you can complete X amount of work in Y number of days, because that is what you would like to achieve. Base your goals on the real-world experience of running your blog, and don’t be afraid to revise your targets based on that experience. If you can realistically complete five articles a week, set that as your goal. If you push higher, you’ll find yourself demotivated to the point of under-performing.”
Faizan Fahim is content marketer at ServerGuy. He has created many blogs and run them for 5+ years. At ServerGuy, he keeps tabs on the content across the brand assets.
“The advice I would give my younger version is to not use copyrighted images at all. Yes, there are all sorts of tools that can remove a watermark from the copyrighted image, but that does not mean you should use it.
Take your own photos, create your images, or customize free images to make them somewhat unique. Stealing images from Google or other blogs seem easy for now, but you’ll have to replace all those images on your blog one day – a time-consuming and disheartening, yet essential task.
So you should be careful to:
- Avoid copying images
- Avoid using copyrighted images
- Make your own images
- Use your own images, as ugly as they look”
Alan MacLachlan owns and runs Improves.co, Personal Coaching from Champions.
“The biggest mistake a lot of bloggers make is using images straight from stock photography sites or photos they took themselves and uploading them directly to their blog. Please don’t, because it will cost you high rankings. Google loves fast loading sites. By using the original image, you are slowing up your site a lot. To fix it, simply search Google for ‘free image optimization.’ There are lots of tools available. Upload your images, let the software work its magic, and then download the small, compressed images. You shouldn’t notice any difference in quality, but your site will load faster, which will help you rank better.”
Patrick has worked in the children’s fashion and toy industry since 2018 at Kids-world. Previously, he worked at an online communication agency with some of the top companies in Denmark as clients. His one true work love is being head of press and communications at Kids-world.com. Kids-world is an online fashion reseller devoted to giving customers the best experience when shopping online.
“My best advice is to choose the right niche, keep backups, and stay consistent even though no one reads your blog for the first couple of months. I didn’t choose the right niche at first. I spent a year publishing posts to a site that continued to be a ghost town before I started to get my head around a specific niche and stayed with it. I started reviewing toys for kids – one post each week, and after five months my personal blog had 20,000 monthly readers. As of today, I’ve sold that blog and got recruited to write about toys and kids fashion for one of the bigger Danish companies.
1. Choosing the right niche and staying with it is by far the most important thing to do before starting a blog. You will have to dig deep and question if you really want to spend countless hours writing about this niche. I’ve read so many blogs that start off with great content within a specific niche, then suddenly start writing about other things not related to their niche. For the returning readers, there is a high risk that the new posts don’t correlate with what brings them value, leading them to abandon your blog and remove you from their list of favorite blogs. In terms of search engine optimization, jumping from niche to niche also is a bad tactic as search engines tend to favor specialists rather than generalists.
2. Keeping a backup isn’t something that bloggers spend much time thinking about before it’s too late. Therefore, find a way to backup all your files and posts in case your blog somehow gets hacked.
3. Staying consistent is crucial in your pursuit of success. Just have a look at the most popular influencers – they have to post with the same frequency all year long; otherwise, people will be moving on. If you’re planning to attract readers from social media platforms or YouTube, the ‘rules’ also apply to you. If you are targeting the search engine results pages, just be aware that they also look at how frequently you post.”
Bart Turczynski is the Editor In Chief at ResumeLab.
“If you’re starting your first blog, you need to ensure your content game is on point. To do so, consider investing in a robust content marketing tool such as Ahrefs.
One of the core Ahrefs’ features we love using here at ResumeLab is ‘Keywords Explorer.’ What’s great about it is that it helps generate keyword ideas across 170 countries, so you know how to create exceptional content. On top of that, this feature makes it easy to understand the search intent, uncover the readers’ questions a piece needs to answer, and make it hit page one of the SERPs.
Lastly, Keywords Explorer also helps unearth the link data of our competitors so that we can tweak our SEO strategy in real-time.”
Allan Borch is the founder of Dotcom Dollar. He started his own online business and quit his job in 2015 to travel the world. This was achieved through e-commerce sales and affiliate SEO. He started Dotcom Dollar to help aspiring entrepreneurs create a successful online business while avoiding crucial mistakes along the way.
“I wish I was told to invest earlier on a self-hosted website. When I started blogging, I used to utilize free blogging platforms thinking that it would save me money. However, I later realized that while I was able to run my blog for free, there were a lot of downsides to using free platforms. One was that I was unable to advertise my business, which translated to the slow growth of my blog and audience.
Bottom line: If I had known it earlier, I would have invested earlier in self-hosting and would have not wasted my time growing my blog in a very ineffective manner.”
Brian Robben is the CEO of the international digital marketing agency Robben Media.
“When I first started out blogging, I spent 100% of my time on content and 0% on promotion. If I could do it over, I wish I spent 80% of my time on promotion and 20% on the content. Now, the quality of the writing is super important. But, with no marketing and distribution, then only a tiny fraction of people are ever going to read it. It’s far better to put in the work or spend the money to drive audience growth. Then you can engage with your audience to understand what content they value the most, publish that, and then they’ll distribute your blog to other audiences by sharing. Content production and distribution are insanely important. Don’t get stuck in the rut of only doing one.”
Marina Vaamonde is the Founder and Commercial Real Estate Investor at PropertyCashin.
“My top tip for those starting their blog is to plan their social media strategies as early as conceptualizing your blog. People are consuming more information online, especially on social media. So, brands need to have an established online presence if they want to succeed in the current setup of entrepreneurship.
With the intense consumption of online content, businesses need to use this to their advantage to market their services efficiently. Otherwise, they are wasting a massive opportunity to establish an online presence and build an online community.”
Ron Evan Del Rosario
Ron Evan Del Rosario is a Digital Marketing Specialist at Thrive Internet Marketing Agency.
“Maybe you think that since you already have many followers, you’ll never lose them. My best tip for first-time bloggers is do not sales pitch. That is the quickest way you’ll lose your audience. Here are my five pieces of advice: Be straight and get to the point, avoid fake business etiquette, blog like you’re talking to a friend in the pub, be short and punchy, and just keep it simple and easily comprehensible.”
Petra Odak is a Chief Marketing Officer at Better Proposals, a simple yet incredibly powerful proposal software tool that helps you send high-converting, web-based business proposals in minutes. She’s a solution-oriented marketing enthusiast with more than 5 years of experience in various fields of marketing and project management.
“One thing I wish someone told me is that not every piece of content has to rank for a certain keyword. Sometimes, it’s okay to write a thought leadership piece or just to express your opinion. We are all in the rush to get more traffic and rank for more keywords, but sometimes taking a break is okay. People love reading content that reflects your identity as the company (or the owner), and this is a good way to stand out in a crowd of faceless blogs out there.”
Parker Russell is the Owner and CEO of Black Ink Coffee.
“I would tell any aspiring blogger to take risks and follow your passions. If there is a subject you want to write about, don’t let anyone stop you or tell you that you can’t accomplish that dream. People can be discouraging, and maybe it’s coming from a good place; they don’t want to see you fail. You should only listen to yourself, follow your gut feeling, and write what it is you want to write.
You are not alone in your opinion, and if you feel that there isn’t a lot already available on the internet on your subject, it’s likely not because it isn’t popular but rather that this subject lacks the voices needed to write about it. Take the risk and follow your passion!”
Carmine Mastropierro is the Founder of Mastro Commerce, a marketing agency that’s worked with Dan Lok, Neil Patel, and GoDaddy.
“The one piece of advice I wish I was given when I started my agency’s blog is to focus on highly contextual and long-tail topics. It’s easy to blog about subjects that aren’t 100% relevant to your buyer persona’s goals, questions, and pain points. This results in low quality traffic that doesn’t convert even if you are ranking #1 for the target keywords.
For example, if you are an email SaaS company, focus on email open rates, subject lines, the best email software, etc. Don’t blog heavily about social media, HR, or other topics that aren’t related to what you offer. I made this mistake early on but eventually pivoted to topics related to copywriting and content writing since those are primarily the services I deliver. This change drastically increased the amount of marketing qualified leads and inquiries we received on a weekly basis.”
Mark Armstrong is an illustrator and digital marketing expert. He specializes in humor, editorial, branding, social media, and content marketing.
“One bit of advice bloggers hear over and over is: Write for your target audience. You have a product or service. Some people will need it, others won’t. So write for the ones that do.
It’s good advice. Excellent advice. But I had that advice. The advice I wish I’d had is this: It’s not easy to write for your target audience. That’s because we all have egos. We think it’s all about us. You will be tempted – sorely tempted – to write for yourself. For your friends. For people who already know you. You will be tempted to write about things that you, personally, find interesting or amusing – things of no possible interest to potential customers.
I did exactly that for a long time. I attracted fans, but very few customers, and I was genuinely puzzled about it. I see my mistake now, but here’s the thing: I’ve been blogging for 10 years, and the temptation to write for your own pleasure and amusement never goes away. You have to fight it every time you sit down to write a post.”
Karthik Subramanian is the Senior Content Manager at Picmaker. He started his career as an equity research analyst 15 years ago and has moved to different content marketing roles. He has an undying hunger for understanding the Japanese culture and helping people make career decisions.
“There are quite a few things I wish someone had told me when I started my first blog:
Writing style – I wish someone had told me this before I hammered out my first official blog. My first blog was more than 5k words. Nearly 50% of my sentences were more than 18 words long. It was no surprise that nobody read it much. How I wish someone had told me about writing blogs for about 2k-3k words, and breaking it up into ‘easily scannable’ sentences. Blogging is not filling up reams of paper; it is about writing useful things for human beings to read and take action.
Edit, edit, edit – The key is to write well, but the bigger key is to edit what you write. I never bothered to edit my writing. Alas! Only after a few blogs went live did I realize how shallow my writing was and how many errors had crept in. I am not saying we should write error-free. Instead, write today and edit tomorrow. That way, you’d have let the whole thing sink in overnight and come back with a fresh perspective tomorrow morning to flush out all errors and perhaps even give it a new direction.
Learn how Google works – We all write so that Google understands our blog. Now, before you start writing, you should understand what keywords you’re aiming for, how to identify what people also searched for in Google, and how Google understands H1, H2, H3, paragraphs, etc. Please do not aim for the first spot; it never works that way. Write useful things that people love reading, and you will realize that you are slowly climbing the rankings ladder.
Alt text – This is so, so important. Google has so many dimensions to it – search, images, videos (YouTube). These are different ways users query Google and figure what they want to learn. And, blogging is a powerful way to educate people. So, every image on a blog must have alt text in it for Google to understand what you are trying to communicate through your blog. Also, as strange as it may sound, Google does not understand spaces between two words. So, always use a – or hyphen in between words to connect them to nudge Google in the right direction.
Distribution – There are billions of blogs on the planet. It is pretty much a saturated ecosystem. So, the only way for someone to discover your blog is by distributing it to the right audience. So, for example, if you are a B2C blogger, then after finishing a blog, try and answer specific Quora questions around the same topic with excerpts from your blog and a URL pointing users back to your blog. This way, your blog has a wider reach. Don’t forget tactics like email distribution, infographics, or making a video out of it. In a nutshell, it is about 20% writing and 80% distributing.
Say the most important thing upfront – When you are blogging, you must understand that your readers don’t have time. So, put the most important takeaway from the blog right upfront. This saves time for your readers who are about to skim your blog for answers. The more you make them look for answers, the more they grow impatient, and the bounce rate goes up.
Understand how Google Analytics works – Google Analytics is not rocket science. It is just simple data that helps you understand how people discover your blog, which countries are they originating from, how much time they spent on your website, etc. A simple 60-minute crash course on Google Analytics is enough to help you figure out good insights on how you can improve your blog.”
Wesley Burger is the Marketing Director at CloudTask, a managed workforce provider for growing companies looking for B2B sales and customer support solutions.
“When you are beginning a blog, internal ties are extremely relevant. These are the connections from a page on your website to another page on your website. (A connection from a page on your website to a page on someone else’s website is an external link.)
Internal linking is key for SEO, but it also helps your followers move through your site. It’s a perfect opportunity to have old material viewed by fresh readers. Plus, some internal ties from that website to your other sites can help improve the rankings of those pages.”
Lorie Anderson is the founder of MomInformed.com. She holds a Master’s of Science in Education, Learning, Design, and Technology from Purdue University, and she lives in Washington State with her husband and three kids.
Yes, you could spend two hours waiting on the customer support line. And then you could wait two hours for a support agent to log in and fix the problem. But if you learn at least some basic coding skills, it’ll be a lot easier for you to run your business.”
Kaelum Ross is the founder of What in Tech. With years of experience in the IT world and many more of being a big geek, Kaelum has built his blog to share his enthusiasm on the magical subject of technology and put things into plain English for his readers.
“If I could have gotten one piece of advice when starting my blog, it would have been focus relentlessly on the gaps in your niche. Too often when starting a blog, it’s tempting to just write about whatever most interests you on the subject. While I’m not advocating against passionate writing, if your goal is to grow, your content plan needs to be focused on what people are searching for on Google/social channels where there are either no relevant answers or low-quality posts that you could compete with.
By not taking a step back and looking at where there is high demand/low supply, you join the many bloggers who failed to build any traction despite having a host of well-written articles (on oversaturated topics).
Taking this advice one step further, if you find a subject gap in your niche (not just single post ideas), you can be greatly rewarded both from Google and social channels for building authority in an area. Say, for example, you’re in the pet niche and you see multiple gaps for different types of rabbit food; if you create content to fill all of those gaps, you increase your chances of recognition and high search rankings tremendously by becoming a rabbit food authority. Focusing on what your audience needs (and not what they already have) is easily the most surefire way to build a successful blog from nothing in 2021.”
Jennifer Kalita has been a marketing communications executive, strategist, author, speaker, and columnist for the better part of three decades in the Washington, DC area.
“New bloggers should bear four key principles in mind when trying to connect with readers:
- Be brief, but not too brief. Remember that a blog is a different vehicle than a lengthy article. Many writers, in their noble quest to deliver substantive content, ask the reader to spend too much time with them. Google tracks how long people spend on your page, so if they see a scary length and bounce, you may find yourself ranking lower in future Google results. 500-2,000 words is a good benchmark.
- Be headline-conscious. While writing about what drives you and your area of expertise is important, so too are SEO considerations and headlines that solve your readers’ problems. Consider what keywords your ideal readers are searching for and incorporate them, and strive for headlines that connote a quick path to resolution, such as “The One Vegetable That Will Jump-Start Your Metabolism” or “Considering Divorce? 5 Questions to Ask Yourself Before You Walk.”
- Be action-oriented. Your perspective is important and sets the stage for connection with your reader, but avoid lengthy, numerous paragraphs about your general thoughts that people have to sift through to get to the solution that you promised to deliver in your headline.
- Create scannable content. People don’t read so much as they scan, so be sure to incorporate bullets, sub-headlines, and other elements to connect with the scanner/scroller.”
Gerald Lombardo is the Co-Founder of The Word Counter, a dynamic online tool used for counting words, characters, sentences, paragraphs, and pages in real-time, along with spelling and grammar checking.
“One important consideration for starting a successful blog from scratch is to make sure your intended content is searchable. As much as you want to carve out a niche in the blog industry to stand out, you must consider the likelihood that the average user will search for content that will include your blog in the search results. Essentially, you must find the value for your content.
High publishing frequency for a new blog is also very important. The more results that are populated about your blog, the more traffic you will get because users will see your site as an authority. It typically takes a new blog about three to six months to gain initial traction and about six to nine months to gain significant traction.”
Jake Irving is the Owner of Willamette Life Insurance.
“I wish someone had told me to create visually pleasing content. Make sure your blog is visually pleasing and that you use the appropriate headings and other built in features to help create a dynamic looking page.
This makes it easier for both your audience and Google to read. The human aspect takes top priority. Break up text by using several small paragraphs rather than large walls of text. Use the bold text to highlight important points throughout the blog.
This is all in an effort to help the reader digest the content while also leading search engines down the right path. Search engines are looking for visually pleasing and informative content to bring up in their results.
For those writing an informational blog, this can be done by breaking your blog up into multiple ideas with the user intent in mind. What does your audience care about and want to hear about most?”
Kevin Miller is the Co-Founder and CEO of GR0. He is a growth marketer with an extensive background in SEO, paid acquisition, and email marketing. Kevin studied at Georgetown University, worked at Google for several years, is a Forbes contributor, and has been a head of growth and marketing at several top tier startups in Silicon Valley.
“The value of long form content has been an important innovation we’ve had to learn for our blog. We have had to learn that churning out bite-sized forms of blog content has proven to be less effective than lengthy and robust bodies of work. The average blog length of top-ranking websites is about 2,000 words. Realizing the power of long form content has helped us get a leg up on our competitors.”
Bryan Philips is the Head of In Motion Marketing.
“What I would have liked for someone to tell me when I started blogging is to spend at least 30% of my time on outreach. Included in outreach is SEO, creating a social media strategy, and just reaching out to similar influencers in a niche and either collaborating or asking them to link to or share content. This is so important. You could have the greatest content in the world, but if your audience can’t find it, then it might as well not be written. If your content has a purpose beyond just having an online journal, then outreach is imperative.”
Jake Meador is the director of content strategy at Mobile Text Alerts. He lives in Lincoln, NE with his family.
“I think there are two main things that new bloggers need to know about blogging these days, and their supervisors need to know these things, too, so that they can hold their team to realistic standards.
First, only about 6% of newly published pages on the internet will show up in the top ten search results of any keyword on Google within the first year of their publication. What this means is that if you go into blogging expecting immediate results, you’re going to be disappointed. Building a blog that attracts a lot of organic traffic takes an enormous amount of time and requires patience. If your team is not patient or even if your team just needs a fast marketing win, then blogging is probably not the channel to use. But if you’re looking for long-term gains in terms of brand perception, search reach, and so on, then you should be blogging.
Second, do not think about your blogging as being only for organic search visitors. Your blog is not just about helping top-of-the-funnel people who come to your site via organic search. Blogs also help people deeper into the sales process by serving as collateral your sales team can use as well as helpful resources to anyone browsing your site. Additionally, a good blog can actually help with customer retention by helping grow the perception of your brand in the mind of customers. Providing blog content that is helpful to customers gives them a better experience working with your company, as well.
So, it’s important to recognize the non-SEO benefits of blogging even as you do consider how to create a blog that performs well on search engines.”
Sirarpi is the CMO at PMG360. She enjoys writing content about social media and marketing in general. Her passion is to help readers by providing unique information. She is also socially active in real life, and her hobbies include dancing Latin dances, going to the gym, and doing nothing on Saturdays.
“About 3 years ago, I decided to have my own blog, and I wish I were given this advice: the domain hosting service is important. You have to understand the plan you’re about to buy and the features it will give you.
When I started my blog, one of my final goals was to monetize the blog by having Google Ads on the blog. It turned out that the WordPress.com plan I purchased didn’t provide plugin options. I had to upgrade to a Business plan, which I didn’t need at that moment. It also was expensive, and I wasn’t sure I could make enough profit to cover the expenses.
My blog provided lots of value to readers, but the inability to install plugins was a huge drawback for me. Not only Google Ads but lots of other plugins weren’t available to me. Had I known about this, I would have checked out other platforms where I could customize everything the way I wanted.”
Everyone says you should spend a good portion of your time promoting your blog, and that’s true. But what if you could get your readers to help you promote your blog, effortlessly? Install our social media share buttons to make it easy for your readers to share your best content with their social media connections with just a single click. Not only are they simple to install, but they’re totally free to use!