January 27, 2011, 6:00 am

What I Wish I Knew About Blogging Two Years Ago

by: MD    Category: Make Money Online
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Are You New to Blogging?

Are you new to the world of blogging? Are you fascinated about the whole idea of working online? Are you confused about getting started?

Mike has started writing more about his online business here on The Financial Blogger. The reason for this is simple. You guys demanded it. I figured I can try and do my best to cover the topic as well. This is why I wanted to take a moment to reflect on my last few years of blogging here today.

Please check out the following posts first:

The Ultimate Beginner’s Guide to Starting a Blog
Why Your New Blog Won’t Make Any Money

Once you’ve checked out the posts above, you can get started with the rest of the article. I wanted to share what I wish I knew about working online/blogging 2 years ago. This should help out anyone that is new to the world of blogging.

You need a clear direction.

A niche is not enough. You need a clear direction for your blog. To be honest I’m not even sure that I’ve found a clear direction for my blog just yet. I’m pretty jealous of those of you that have. The point is that you need to have a clear vision for your blog in regards to the type of posts that you publish and the future direction that you plan on heading towards. You really don’t want to confuse your readers, and yourself.

I’ve noticed this shift recently here on the blog as Mike starts to write more about his online business. Finding your clear direction is not easy. When you do find it, you will know and your readers will become more engaged.

Others are willing to help you out.

Blogging is not a zero-sum game. Your peers don’t want you to fail or to get rid of you. When I first found out about personal finance blogs I was hesitant about emailing these bloggers. I knew that I wanted to get into the world of blogging about personal finance. I just didn’t know how to start and who to email for help. What if they don’t respond? What if they don’t like me? Why would they talk to me?— these were all thoughts that ran through my mind.

After a few months into blogging I was literally shocked by the amount of help available to me. Some bloggers were willing to get on the phone with me, others replied with long and detailed responses through email, and some even answered questions for an interview series that I ran. You really can’t do it alone. Embrace the help that is available around you.

These are a few of the blogging interviews I conducted:

Erica of Erica.Biz
Mike from this site.
Lazy Man and Money.

Writing consistently can be challenging.

When you first start blogging it feels like you can write about this topic forever. You have to stop yourself and force yoruself to go to sleep some nights at first. Many months in you’ll realize that writing consistently can get really difficult when real life gets in the way. Break-ups, family problems, crappy climate, emotions, stress at work, and boredom can all catch up with you real fast. You either won’t feeling motivated to write at all or you won’t be able to find the time.

What can you do about this? Leverage your productive times to produce extra posts. This way you’ll have a backlog of pieces ready to go when you’re not ready.

Writing quality content consistently can be even more challenging.

Okay so you can maybe get into the habit of writing consistent posts. However, is the quality there? I’m sure that I can put up something on a daily basis. It won’t be good and I know that you guys will tell me. You’ll either leave a negative comment or just not return. Both are a horrible feeling.

What’s the cure for this? Don’t post crap. You’re better off with an idle blog for a few extra days as opposed to inundating your readers with crap.

You need to be patient.

I’m inherently an impatient guy in every area of my life. Blogging was no different at first. I wanted to make a fortune and to have lots of readers. Sadly this didn’t happen. I can write about patience until I’m blue in the face but you have to figure it out on your own.

Burnout happens to the best of us.

You’ll eventually get burned out and feel like giving up. Relax and step away for a bit. Don’t quit just take some time off. You’ll come back re-energized and ready to go!

Readers– what do you wish you knew about blogging/online work before you got started? I don’t want the typical responses. I want to hear something new!

(photo creditr: gaobo)

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Comments

We’ve only been blogging for a short while but the things that come to mind:

1) Starting a daily series quickly after launching a blog. We have to produce quality content each and every day and this can be daunting. In addition, we have 2 longer articles and our unique weekend reading to produce. It is a lot of work and takes a lot of creativity, ideas and time.

2) Proper SEO knowledge. I thought that because I am very adept at getting good Google search results that SEO would be easy. I was wrong. There is much more to it than throwing a bunch of single keywords out there and even more to it if you are making any sort of attempt to gain traffic that will produce some monetization for your site.

3) It is hard to see the success some have. Some bloggers, not much older than us (say 4 months?) are regularly included in round ups from the “big guys” getting sweet back links and massive exposure. Other blogs seem to make money extremely quickly and yet other blogs amass large followings seemingly overnight. When these things don’t occur to you. it can be disappointing as you have witnesses success by others. Everyone wants to succeed. The lesson here is we should have tempered our expectations.
(that being said, we’re very happy we have over 50 RSS subscribers and over 150 twitter followers and should get over 2000 unique visitors in our 2nd full month!)

by: The Financial Blogger | January 27th, 2011 (9:22 am)

@SPF,

You know what? I sometimes feel the same while I look at bigger bloggers than me. I really wonder how I took 4 years to grow my blog to this size while others do it in less than 12 months.

I also get “jealous” when I see other blogs being mentioned or outlined in the media… but I learned something along the way; it just happens!

If you keep writing good contents, tweet and comment on the big guys blog, submit your articles to carnivals, offer guest post (to the same big guys), you will get their attention sooner or later!

@MD & TFB
I think that one thing that has helped our blog is that we write consistently every weekday. I know traditional advice says that you don’t have to do that and you will burn out if you try. But we had two writers right from the start, so it’s not overly time consuming for us.

Honestly, when I’m a regular reader of a particular blog, I’m disappointed when there isn’t a new article each day. Writing every day doesn’t mean you have to sacrifice quality for quantity. It probably helps you hone your craft and become a better writer.

The other thing is about building relationships with your peers. Like you said, the other bloggers are willing to help. Rather than trying to comment on as many blogs as possible (the spray and pray approach), focus on building quality relationships with a smaller group of bloggers.

@SPF
You are doing amazingly well for only being around for 2 months. I had 1800 unique visitors and 56 subscribers in my 2nd month and that included 800 visits in one day from being linked to by an MSN Money article (that traffic quickly went away!).

As we approach the six month mark I can tell you that it gets much better, especially the search traffic. It just takes a bit of time. You already have a great concept, just keep at it.

[…] Financial Blogger presents What I Wish I Knew About Blogging Two Years Ago posted at The Financial […]

Writing every day doesn’t mean you have to sacrifice quality for quantity.

Oh yes, you do. Unless you have a lot of time.

I probably average 3.0 hours per post, including research. There is no way in hell I could put out 4 posts per week (instead of 1) and still spend the same time per post.

I know how to write posts in 30-60 minutes, and while they might be quite readable – they will not have any kind of research behind them and in my opinion, will probably not add much value for the reader.

@Mike
But in the beginning you DID churn out 4 posts per week, right? Having two writers from the start sure helps though. I don’t know, some really successful blogs I’ve seen post every week day for the first few years and then tone it down to write really high level stuff once or twice a week.

How many BIG blogs have posted only 1-2 times per week from the beginning?

@MSB – Echo has the luxury of writing w/ Boomer and they do put out good material daily, but I agree with you. To get the proper research, calculation etc that we like to do takes up a lot of my time, and then our custom weekend reading takes hours usually as well (it isn’t cookie cutter to say the least).

We have been doing this 365 Sustainable Living Tips since Jan 1 and the content isn’t in depth at all but we do find churning these out more difficult than we envisioned.

@Echo – You’re right. I did do 4 posts/wk + roundup in the beginning. I knew it couldn’t last however.

I really think that a new blog is better off just posting less and doing guest posts for promotion. When I was doing abcsofinvesting.net – I only posted twice a week. I had the RSS up to 1000 in about 7 months by doing a lot of guest posts.

@SPF – I would slow down the tips. I know you are trying to do one every day, but it’s a bit much.

Don’t forget – readers don’t necessarily want to read too much of the same thing.

Bottom line is that you have to do whatever fits your lifestyle/energy level and measure the results.

Hey MSB – how do we slow down when we declared we would be embarking on this challenge for the year? Post once per week with 7 tips in each post? Not trying to challenge your opinion, but i’d love some suggestions on how to proceed given our declaration and 33 tips in … I’ve read other blogs where this sort of thing has been done that had some popularity but i’m not sure how/where we go from here.

We have gotten some interesting comments, including from readers we never knew we had – which is a positive thing. We almost doubled our readership in January, but whether the tips are the cause or not I can not say. Over 2000 unique visitors in Jan as well (month 2 blogging).

Anyhow, write here, or drop me an email on this? I do value your opinion!

SPF

by: The Financial Blogger | February 2nd, 2011 (8:49 am)

@MSB,

I think it depends on which kind of content you are writing. Since you are doing a lot of reviews, you need to do proper research first. If not, 30minutes is not enough to write quality content. While my blog is smaller than yours, I don’t feel that I was hurt too much by the amount of post I am writing (mind you, I used to write 5 days + 1 roundup and now I am down to 3 post + 1 by MD!).

My other blogs tend to have 2 posts per week… much easier to manage this way!

cheers,

Mike.

@FB – Absolutely – there is no one right way. My blog is not the most successful one around, so it’s not like I am the final authority on anything. 🙂

My point is that sometimes bloggers feel they have to do what the crowd does or what the top bloggers do (or have done). If everyone else does N posts per week, they need to do N posts per week.

In reality – it doesn’t work like that. Different topics, different bloggers, different time constraints should mean that every blogger has to figure out what works for them.

One of the biggest Canadian PF blogs probably posts the least out of any active blog – squawkfox.com. She’s been around 2 years – go look at her RSS number.

by: The Financial Blogger | February 2nd, 2011 (7:21 pm)

@MSB,

I agree with you. However, I don’t know if you can call squawfox a PF blog anymore… looks like there is a lot of chicken cooking lately 😉