Are you curious about blog life? We help you decide if you should start a blog. We share what we wish we had known before we hit the ground running.
The purpose of this article is to help you:
- Decide if blogging is the right fit for you
- Prepare for the realities of blogging
- Give you our best tips and resources to help you start a blog
So, you’re trying to decide whether or not to start a blog. Jodie and I were living “the great blog debate” for over two years. We gathered data. Repeatedly, we asked people, “Should I start a blog?” One week we were definitely not going to start a blog. The next week we were back to going to start a blog. We ping ponged back and forth like this so many times our heads were dizzy. We were warned that it was a huge time sucker, that many people abandoned their efforts with not much to show for themselves. However, more and more we yearned to have something of our own, a place where we could share more of ourselves, more of our hearts, homes and lives. In the end you know what we decided because here we are.
To Blog or Not to Blog…That is the Question!
We heard this recently at a blogging conference:
The first year you feed your blog.
The second year your blog feeds itself.
The third year your blog feeds you.
Should I Start a Blog? What to Know Before You Begin
Don’t expect to be making money out of the gate. In fact, prepare to invest some money. You are starting your own business. You are not just becoming a writer, photographer, creator of whatever you are blogging about, but you are also going into business. There are so many hats to wear as a blogger. In addition to the ones I just mentioned you will also oversee marketing, sales, technology, and more. Creating a blog is much more entrepreneurial than we originally imagined.
Let’s get into the biggest shocker Jodie and I had, which is the technology side.
Start a Blog: Working with Technology
Jodie and I really had no idea how much tech support we would require. We knew we needed help to set ourselves up, but the reality is we need on-going tech support. It is expensive, but essential. The fact is most of us creatives don’t have the knowledge or training it takes to create and manage “the underbelly” of a blog, otherwise known as coding.
We were advised to hire a professional to build our blog, advice we followed. No regrets here. We know of people who try to create a blog on their own because of financial reasons. It often ends up taking a lot longer than anticipated. And time is money. Also, once you realize how important the correct set up is to your success, many wish they had invested up front.
How Much Does it Cost to Create a Custom Blog?
Take your time researching who to hire, and make sure you get a good fit at a fair price. The only way to do this is to research and ask people you trust. We paid roughly $1500 for the creation of our blog and our logo. Keep in mind this was 2016.
Blogging is very time-consuming. We quickly learned that delegating certain aspects, in our case, the tech side, was more survival than extravagance.
Start a Blog: On-Going Tech Support
The second thing most people require is on-going tech support. A blog needs regular maintenance, like a car. It needs a scheduled engine check every so often if nothing else. Most likely, as you evolve you will want to evolve your blog. This is natural and important. You will want to add things, change things, reorganize as your voice and niche become clearer. It is a rare blog that doesn’t evolve. You will need help with all these changes or jeopardize crashing your site. Yikes!
It took us five months before we found tech support. Finding reliable tech support is key. The sooner you find someone the better.
How Much Does Tech Support Cost?
Pricing for tech support runs anywhere from $30 – $150/hr. across the industry. You can see how this adds up and therefore how important this person will be to you and your business.
Start a Blog: Creating High-Quality Content
No doubt you have given your content plenty of thought. Before we began Jodie and I had no idea what to expect. We didn’t know how long a post would take to write. We wondered if we had enough material and if we might struggle to constantly create new blog topics. This turns out to be no problem at all for us.
The real key is to know your audience and focus on what they really want to read. You can create posts all day long, but if they aren’t engaging, people won’t come. You can try different topics but pay attention to which ones do well. In other words, listen to your readers.
How much and how often you post is up to you. One key way to make money is to be hired as a brand ambassador and to write sponsored posts. To be attractive to brands for these important jobs they look for an active blog, which has been defined as a one to three posts a week.
In order to start making money you are going to need to focus on how to get found. Ranking for SEO, which is Google ranking, you will rank higher if you are active and updating your blog often. If you want to start a blog know that you will have to become a student of SEO in order to create powerful content that Google likes too.
The Power of Social Media
You can start a blog, but if you don’t drive traffic to your site success will be a very long, slow road. In order to be successful blogging is a numbers game. Successful blogs have tens & hundreds of thousands of subscribers. You aren’t even on the map until you have 100,000 page views each month. Where are these people going to come from and how are they going to find you? Social media is one way to drive traffic.
So when you start a blog you soon realize that you also need to learn and maintain active accounts across most social media channels, the more the better.
This list is incomplete, but it includes the most important ones for now. Before beginning our blog Jodie and I really didn’t know this. We had Instagram covered, and we hoped that would be plenty. We had thus far successfully avoided Pinterest, Facebook, and Twitter, and we were happy with that choice. But then you start pouring your heart and soul into your blog that no one sees, and you soon change your mind. It is overwhelming, a lot to learn, and a lot of time. Are you still excited? Just kidding.
Be Prepared to Invest
Be willing to invest money when necessary. Be willing to invest a lot of time because there’s a lot to do and there’s a lot to learn.
Luckily, there are many ways you can learn:
- be an online sleuth and find expert advice for free
- attend blogging conventions
- take online classes
- hire a coach for specific skills, i.e. learning Instagram or Pinterest
- join private Facebook groups to learn from mentors
The sooner you begin to invest in your blog the sooner you will find success. There is so much to learn when you enter the world of blogging. You can’t possibly take every online course or attend every blogging convention but pick and choose and always be learning.
Should I Start a Blog?
Yes, it’s challenging. Yes, it takes time, but we also think it’s the most fun we’ve ever had! Jodie and I are as committed as ever. We love blogging. We love it more than we could have imagined. Because you can only imagine so much. But we wish we had understood a few of these things before we began. We wish we had been better prepared for the realities of time commitment and the tech challenges.
And if you are like us and are passionate about what you are doing, then these challenges will serve to grow your skills and your entrepreneurial spirit. The phrase, “Nothing worth having comes easily” springs to mind. Blogging, and all that comes with it, is an exciting challenge. It’s an on-going puzzle we are excited to figure out. And just like anything else, the joy is in the journey!
Next Steps to Start a Blog
If you are ready for the next step you might want to check out this resource we found very helpful, created by an amazing woman we met and have worked with named Monica. Her blog is called, The 6 Figure Blog, and it too is a wealth of information.
We welcome your comments and questions. We absolutely love hearing from you. Simply comment below, and we will always happily reply with a personal note.
Next you’ll want to know how to make money, right? Of course. You’re starting a business. Read our next in this series, 8 Ways to Make Money Blogging.
Best wishes and happy blogging!
The Design Twins, Julie & Jodie