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When I first started blogging, I thought to myself "if she can do it then so can I" with every blog that I read. And then one day I decided to do just that. Now keep in mind at the time, I didn't like writing much, I was a pretty private person and I hate asking for the sale or doing anything that seems overly self-promotional. Oh, how a few years will change you.
Now, writing is my saving grace, I am beyond an open book and I promote the heck out of me, my products and services and anything I believe in. I'm still an introvert at heart but I definitely have extroverted qualities that allow me to exist in the blogging world.
With all that said, I wish someone had lowered my expectations about what it meant to be a blogger because it is so much more than writing a few posts each week. Here is what I wish I had known from the start.
Blogging Is Anything But FreeYes, technically you can set up your blog for free. You can even write some posts for free. But if you want to do anything other than blog for a hobby, blogging is anything but free.
I know you're thinking you will wait until you make money before spending money. Am I right? Well trust me when I say you'll become tired of the free themes and templates and want to get a premium one or better yet, have one designed for you. You will also want the shiny new plugins that everyone else has on their blog because you need it to keep up to make it.
Now that your blog is looking all nice, you're going to want to get that catchy blog name registered and hosted. You also notice your photgraphs are a little lackluster, so you start looking at new cameras and tripods. Once you start looking, you might as well forget about it and just buy. Save yourself some time if not money. Then you realize you don't really like your new theme afterall, and the cycle begins.
Unfortunately, when you aren't making money, you think these kinds of things will make a difference. You think they will help grow your audience. They won't. Trust me.
You May Write It But They Probably Won't ComeYou will have to do a lot more than write witty, engaging and useful content to get yourself noticed in a world with millions of blogs. The hardest part about blogging is to keep up the quality even when no one is reading. Just so you know, there is a chance no one, other than your mother, will be reading for months.
You can't wait for them to come to you. You need to go out and find them. Comment on other blogs, sell yourself on social media and advertise if you have a budget. In fact, you will spend more time promoting your blog then writing for your blog - if you want people to read it that is.
While you spend all this time promoting your blog, do not let the quality of your content fall by the wayside. When they actually start to come, you better welcome them with the most creative, brilliant content you can muster up. Just because they came once, doesn't mean they'll come again.
You Can't Avoid The Technical Stuff Forever
First of all embrace Google. If you want to do something and you can't figure it out within three minutes, then google it. I am guilty of spending way too much time trying to solve a problem when the answer is right at my fingertips. Secondly, understand what your blog can do. Go through your setting and play a bit by turning things on and off to see how it effects your blog. It will give you a lot more flexibility and may help you be OK with that free template for a while longer.
Two other areas that are important to become comfortable with is HTML and Plugins. HTML is the backbone of your blog. Adding content to your sidebar, changing colors in a CSS file and making tweaks here and there will all happen in HTML. I am not saying you have to go out and take a course but don't be afraid to get into some basic code. The good news is Google is there to help you along the way.
When it comes to plugins, again Google is your friend. Do you want your blog to do something? More than likely there is a plugin for that.I don't know any successful blog that exists without a slew of plugins. While most are free, some might cost you. You not only need to know how they work, you will need to understand the troubleshooting process when they don't.
You Will Not Make Money Quickly. If Ever.If you need to make money to pay your rent this month, you better find another way to do it. Building your community, developing your following and monetizing your blog all takes time. Lots and lots of time. If you want to create a career out of blogging, then you need to realize there is a whole lot more to it than just - blogging.
To make money, you can't put up a post 5 days a week and hope for the best. It is not something that will grow and pay you well if you only dedicate your children's nap time to it. Like any paycheck worth having you will need to work for it. It will be time consuming, especially in the beginning. Be prepared.
More than likely it will not be the blogging that pays you. Instead, it will be a product you create, a book you write or an affiliate you partner with that will bring in the cash. It is really, really important to understand where the money is going to come from prior to establishing your niche. In the end, if you want this to be your life's work you have to understand where the money will come from.
You Will Need to Fight to Hold Onto Your Sense of Self
They key to success in the blogging world is to be different. Not unlike the business world, being great is wonderful but being different is best. Start off on the right foot by figuring out how you can make yourself stand out in a crowded world. What will be your thing?
Take the ideas you love from other blogs and make them your own. Create it from your sense of self and stay true to who you are. It is so easy to get lost in other people's visions that you will soon find yourself losing your sense of self. Fight hard to keep the essence of you. It will make being in this for the long run that much easier.
Be Prepared to Grow Your HeartThe one thing I was not prepared for was the amount of friends I would make with this little venture. I have virtually met people from all over the world, in all age groups and backgrounds and they have enriched my life.
I have conversations daily with people that feel like family, yet we've never met. We share experiences, give advice, mortivate each other to do better and laugh and cry together. They get me and what I do. They don't roll their eyes like my husband or ask when I will be getting a job like my mom. They are there to support and encourage me and it is wonderful.
I never expected to care about "strangers" as much as I do but I could never get through the day to day without them.
And FinallyThis is not written with the intention of talking you out of blogging. Just the opposite. I have known many "bloggers" that start with big dreams and get overwhelmed or frustrated in the first few months. They quit because it wasn't quite what they expected. If this is something you are meant to do, then what I say here will not thwart you. My hope is it will help prepare you.
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