39 secrets learned from a 5-year blogging career
I started my blogging career around 5 years ago.
Once I started working for myself I found a sense of freedom and independence that I would never give up for anything.
Now I write, run my own blog, create content for clients, and help with site optimization and search optimization.
Like many, I began my self-employment journey doing many different things. It can take time to hit your stride, find the areas that you excel in, and get paid for them.
1. Start a career in blogging
Like the Nike logo says. Just do it!
The reality is that you are never prepared enough to begin your blogging career, and there is never a ‘right’ time to start working for yourself.
The prospect of going it alone can be scary, and for many, the fear is just too much and they never make the leap to a blogging career of their own.
I am not suggesting that you immediately go out and quit your day job, but you can plan a series of steps that get you to your goal.
It is important to follow those steps and set a timeline. Too much delay or overthinking is a killer so set your course and follow it.
2. Everyone has a plan until….
…they get punched in the face! – So said Mike Tyson.
There is a lot of truth in that statement. No matter how much planning you do or how much you try and minimize negative events, something will always creep up in the early days of your new blogging career that you didn’t expect.
You cannot plan for every eventuality, so simply be aware that from time to time, even despite your best efforts things will go awry. You have to be prepared to roll with the punches, then get up and keep moving.
3. Get some money behind you before starting a blogging career
From a realistic standpoint, you are probably not going to make money overnight from your new blogging career.
So use your day job to improve your situation. Get some money in the bank and try and have your bills covered for as many months as you can.
If you can get your outgoings paid for 6 months in advance that’s a good number to aim for.
If, like me, you are not a saver, then overpay the utilities and mortgage so you are several months in credit before you have to worry about them again.
4. Reduce overheads to support your blogging career
Minimize your debt load, pay off credit cards if you can.
The goal here is to remove any monthly payments possible from your outgoings so that when you start your blogging career you can survive financially if you are making less than your salary.
I managed to lose my car payment and some credit card bills and I was very grateful that my salary enabled me to do that.
I am sure my employer didn’t realize that I was using my executive paycheck simply to create an exit strategy, but hey, we all have plans.
5. Promote, promote, promote
Get the word out. Set up a website, find freelance work, ask for reviews, run a couple of (cheap) ads, and establish yourself in the community.
No-one can use your services if they don’t know you provide them. So it’s your job to get your name out far and wide and don’t be shy about doing it.
The first step in blogging is not writing them but reading themJeff Jarvis
Use friends and family to spread the work, ex-colleagues can be a blessing - secretly many of them love that you made the transition to working for yourself so they are happy to help.
6. Use Google my Business for local work
Even if your work is internationally based like mine, it doesn’t hurt one bit to get clients from your own neighborhood.
Google My Business is an excellent FREE tool to advertise your business.
People nearby that are looking for your services will be presented with your information if you are on Google My Business and you may be able to build a local presence.
To find quality writing and content creation jobs go to www.gigleads.uk
7. A lead is a lead
Not all leads end up in paying work. That’s a fact of life. However, many leads don’t always convert right away. Your conversation with a paying client may not earn you any business right now.
But handle them correctly and they could come back to you in 6 months’ time.
Many leads and potential business fall by the wayside because people simply don’t follow up. So don’t assume that someone isn’t going to use you, they may not TODAY, but they might in the future.
8. Not all business is good business
Converting leads is one thing, but you need to make sure that any work or projects that you undertake makes sense for you. Not all business is good business.
Unfortunately, we have all fallen into the trap of taking on any task required because of the fact it is a paying gig.
Many times these gigs ending up being a complete headache or more trouble than they are worth. So assess before you commit and make sure that you will get paid fairly for the effort you will be putting in.
Here’s a tip: professional people understand that you need to pay for quality.
9. Try different things during your blogging career
One of the nice things about working for yourself is that there are literally no limitations when it comes to choosing the type of work you will perform.
This is a real opportunity for you to spread your wings and experiment.
You may find that there is an area that you can specialize in, or that you love to do. Knowing this gives you additional skills that you can turn into an income-generating business. So try anything that appeals to you.
10. Know your worth
I just mentioned how professional people understand that they need to pay for quality. So keep that in mind when you are setting your prices. Consider the time that tasks will take and set your fees accordingly.
If you feel more comfortable in the beginning you can always estimate what you would like to get paid on an hourly rate then base your prices around that.
For example, you may decide that you want to make $50 per hour. Someone wants you to provide work that will take you around 3 hours, meaning you will charge $150 for the completed job.
11. Ask for what you want
Once you have a few paying clients you might be surprised at how willing they are to work with you. This falls into the realm of ‘you don’t ask, you don’t get’ but once you have an established relationship extra requests are often met with approval.
You may have started at a specified rate with a client for a task, but over time that task has become increasingly complex or had extras added to it. Present it to your clients and explain the additions and how that impacts the time you need to spend.
Many clients will be happy to pay more and are often surprised that the work has grown incrementally without them being aware.
12. Provide value to clients
It is competitive out there so you need to be providing work that is done to a professional standard, to the best of your ability, and delivered on time.
When you first start your blogging career much of your business may be gained from referrals or word of mouth.
To gain more business you need to keep the conversation positive and the best way to do that is by providing value for your clients.
If you blog consistently it shows your dedication, passions and creativityLauren Conrad
A little ‘extra value’ doesn’t go amiss either. You should always charge fairly for your work, but for long term clients I throw in a little extra here and there. It shows them that they are important, and it’s a nice bonus that created goodwill.
13. Know your USP for your blogging career
This may sound a bit advanced if you are a solo operator, but it is good to know what your USP is. This is your Unique Selling Proposition, sometimes called a UVP — Unique Value Proposition.
This is the thing that you do, better, faster, and with more efficiency than anyone else. It is the reason that your clients should pick YOU over the competition.
It doesn’t have to be anything huge, but it should be something that sets you apart. If much of your career is writing or blogging then you may be able to list quality publications that you have provided for educational organizations or similar.
Or perhaps because of your work experience you can offer a unique technical angle that no-one else can provide. Whatever it is, identify, and use it.
14. You are never ready for a career in blogging
Even with all the preparation in the world, both financial and mental, you are never 100% ready to make the leap into working for yourself.
Because no matter how much you prepare it is uncharted territory.
Regardless of how much you have done behind the scenes or how much promotion you have done, the reality is that you are still giving up the security of a monthly salary and it takes a while to get through the transition.
My advice is, to acknowledge that it’s a change, and understand that many times it will be unfamiliar and scary. With work and dedication, these feelings just become part of the routine and they will abate.
15. You are never qualified for a career in blogging
If you have decided to become a full-time blogger then you may from time to time get plagued by a few nagging doubts and insecurities. This is normal.
You might find yourself wondering, am I really qualified to blog about (Insert Subject)? Or, there are loads of people out there that know more than me.
That may be true but unless those people are running their own blog that makes YOU the expert. What you don’t know you can learn.
I wouldn’t recommend that you blog about something that you know absolutely nothing about, but as long as you have a good basis you’ll be fine.
Blogging as a career is a learning journey and you will find that you amass a lot of knowledge along the way just by doing it. So try and keep the self-doubts to a minimum.
To find quality writing and content creation jobs go to www.gigleads.uk
16. You won’t get the backlash you expect
When I began my blogging career I was plagued a bit by the kind of self-doubts just mentioned. I would become extremely nervous to press the ‘publish’ button in case I was deluged with comments from people saying I didn’t know what I was talking about.
It never happened. It takes time to build a blog audience and your first few comments or criticism may be few and far between.
So if you are worried about your expertise, don’t be. If your writing isn’t advanced enough for a reader they will usually move on and seek information elsewhere. The readers that your work resonates with will be the ones that stick around.
Tip: if you are worried, WordPress allows you to moderate comments and review them before they are posted to your site
17. Target your key products
Even though starting a blog of your own and making money from it can by definition land you in a niche, there are usually products around that niche you can capitalize on.
This could be in the form of short courses to promote to your audience, or maybe your site can benefit from selling affiliate products. Your product can even be something like an ebook of your own that you want to sell.
Determine what your key offerings are and then work on selling them to bolster your income.
18. Friends and family are not your clients
Even though friends and family can undoubtedly be useful when it comes to getting the word out, don’t confuse this with them being paying clients.
There is a strong belief that friends, family, and business don’t mix, with good reason. Because you know someone on a personal level expectations can be higher — or lower, especially when it comes to sending them the bill.
The lines can become easily blurred leading to awkward meetings the next time you are all at Sunday dinner, so these situations are best avoided.
19. Always be professional in your blogging career
When you write for a living and are creating a large amount of content for your blog site, it can be easy to express personal views.
Many bloggers make a business of this in itself by sharing their views with the world, and some gain an active following because of it.
Don’t say anything online that you wouldn’t want plastered on a billboard with your face on itErin Bury
For me, because I want to leverage my blog into other products and services I prefer to keep writing on a professional footing.
Gaining a reputation as an outspoken activist can be powerful, but tread carefully, will it serve your business purposes?
20. Limit your social media use
This sounds counterintuitive to everything we are told. General opinion seems to dictate that we share all content as much and as often as possible on any social media platform available.
Yes! (and no!)
When you start to work on your own blog it is amazing just how time-consuming it can be. There is the content creation, the SEO and meta descriptions, the editing, images that need to be sourced, and many other tasks that have to be managed.
Social media is an excellent tool for sharing your work and building an audience. I recommend starting with ONE platform that suits your needs and targets your audience.
It is all too easy to become distracted and fragmented if you are managing 3 or 5 accounts. So pick one, focus on building your audience, and expand from there.
My personal choice was Twitter, and in just a couple of months of really staying focused and engaging with people, I was easily up to 1000 followers.
21. Repurpose your content, over and over again
Speaking of sharing on social media, did you realize that your blog content is a goldmine for sharing different forms of information?
I wrote a whole blog about how and where to repurpose your blog articles, but suffice it to say that they are dozens of places where you can reshare photos, quotes, and other items from your blog.
This form of content marketing is a great way to share your blogs with different audiences across varied types of platforms.
Think, podcasts, vlogs, Slideshare to name but a few.
22. Help others and be a mentor
Once you are established then reach out to help other bloggers. This is to pay forward some of your good fortunes and it also establishes you as a mentor in your field.
Help enough people and you may be able to monetize that by offering some form of consultancy services.
At the very least it’s another way to promote your services and expand your audience.
23. Have a career and blogging goals in mind
To blog professionally takes dedication, so it is useful to set some goals. The sooner you can start doing this the more likely you are to remain on track and maximize your productivity.
I learned this the hard way. When I started out I would sit at the laptop and think ‘I’ll write a blog about (insert subject) today.’ While it is not necessarily bad to operate this way it lacks a certain structure.
Having a list of topics, a content calendar, and a social media calendar helps you to remain focused and makes tasks organized.
24. Write on a schedule
Similarly, a content schedule will help to keep you writing and posting on some sort of timetable
If you have managed to build a list of followers and usually post on a Wednesday, those followers will expect to see a post every Wednesday. It may even be a subconscious expectation, but people are creatures of habit.
Writing on a schedule will also help you to be productive and it forces you to focus on writing on specific days or times.
25. Use your experiences in your blogging career
While I wouldn’t go sharing your bank account details online, there is nothing wrong with sharing your experiences or things that you have learned.
Writing about your trials and successes, or things that you have learned humanizes you and helps you make a personal connection with your audience.
26. Connect with people
About those personal connections. It is great to make acquaintances and network with your followers or other bloggers in your niche.
This can lead to opportunities for interviews, features, and guest posting invitations and exchanges. It’s a fantastic way to expand on a growing community.
Blogging as a career is like work, but without coworkers thwarting you at every turnScott Adams
However, this is still your business so don’t get pulled into collaborations or other things that don’t work for you, or reflect you in a negative light. Keep it professional and positive.
27. Write great headlines
I can’t emphasize this enough. Your headline is the first thing people see, and with the stunning amount of content available online titles need to be compelling.
Long gone are the days of ‘How to write a blog’ there are probably a thousand posts online with that title.
Articles need to be attention-grabbing, engaging and, on occasion, hint at the promise of something. Instead of ‘How to write a blog’ your title needs to be something like ’17 career blogging secrets that you need to know now!’
Use a headline analyzer like Sharethrough to help your construct titles. This tool will grade your title allocating it scores for engagement and other items.
You can play around with the wording until you have a title that works well.
28. Don’t get discouraged
After a while of churning out blog content only to find that you are getting just one or 2 readers, it is easy to get disheartened. This is the point where many bloggers give up.
It is easy to throw in the towel at this stage, but it is actually the point where you learn to take your blogging career to another level. This is where you start to critically assess things like.
- Where am I ranking?
- What keywords am I ranking for?
- Am I targeting the right keywords?
- What is the competition doing?
- What do I need to change in my SEO?
You already have a decent amount of content, so this is where you can learn how to improve SEO or analyze keywords to get your posts to rank higher.
It is all part of the learning curve, and there is a lot to learn at this stage.
Master it and you will outlast and surpass many other bloggers that are trying to gain a foothold.
29. Use Google Analytics and Search Console
You can’t manage what you cant monitor so as soon as you can get your site connected to Google Analytics and Search Console. It doesn’t matter if you have no idea how to use them, just set it up.
After you have connected your site take a bit of time to click around the dashboard on both platforms. While much of it can look confusing, it doesn’t take a genius to work out what some of the options are for.
Real-time — visitors on your site right now
Audience- number of users per day
Acquisition- where users came from
Behavior- pages that were visited
These statistics are self-explanatory and while you may not be an Analytics expert at first, you don’t need to be.
This will be enough to allow you to see how many people are visiting your site, what content they are viewing, and where they are coming from. Organic search, social media channels, etc.
It will also help you to monitor traffic as you make changes to ascertain how those changes are impacting your site.
30. Join Facebook groups
Facebook groups are pretty cool. They are awesome because they allow you to learn, connect, and promote all at the same time.
This is a great way to meet people that are interested in your blog niche, you can reach out to assist others, or learn a ton of information yourself.
Many groups allow periodic self-promotion where you can post links to your website, posts, or even your own Facebook group. It’s a win-win.
To find quality writing and content creation jobs go to www.gigleads.uk
31. Invest in yourself for your blogging career
While you are busy creating content and connecting with your audience it is easy to forget to focus on yourself.
I like to allocate a specific amount of time per week where I read an comment on other people’s blogs, take a short course, or learn something to improve myself.
By its nature, technology is ever-changing and ever-evolving. There is always a new innovation or a different way to do things and I like to keep up. It is time well spent.
32. You don’t have to be perfect
There is a lot of conversation online about content being king and any work that you produce should be of good quality.
That is absolutely true, but it doesn’t have to be perfect.
You should always make sure that your work is readable, spellchecked, and grammatically correct. There are tools that can help with this.
Grammarly and Hemingway Editor are really great, free resources that can help with your writing.
Don’t focus on having a great blog. Focus on producing a blog that’s great for your readers.Brian Clark
When you post a piece it should be fact-checked and accurate, but don’t get caught up spending hours striving for absolute perfection. No-one is perfect and neither are you.
Publish and move on.
33. Focus on user experience
Take some time between writing your blogs to focus on your reader’s or users’ experience. Sometimes we can get so entrenched in our work that we can’t see it from the outside.
If you can, try and navigate your website as if you were a brand new visitor. Does it make sense? Does it flow? Can you locate what you need easily?
If you have a couple of friends that can cast a critical eye over your site, then even better. Use their insights to improve the user experience or UX.
The reason for this is simple, if your site isn’t user friendly then no-one will stay on it, no matter how great your content might be.
34. Research keywords before writing
Like most bloggers, I began creating content for my site then tried to fit in a bunch of natural-sounding keywords that I wanted it to rank for.
Let me share a little secret. Do your keyword research BEFORE you write. This is such a simple concept but it is amazing how many bloggers still don’t do it.
Use a tool like Ubersuggest and research topics that you want to write about. Check phrases and keywords around that topic to find keywords that have good search volume and low competition.
Then design your article around those keywords to have a far better chance of ranking in search results.
35. Write first, edit later
How do you write like that? People ask me.
Easy, I just write. Sometime’s I can write a couple of long-form articles a day. Other times I write paragraphs or points that I want to include in a future article. But I just write.
Like most things in life, the more you do it the better you get. I have found now that I am several years in I can just sit at the laptop and create an article in not much time at all.
It was not so in the early day. In the beginning, creating a decent article was a laborious, time-consuming task. But practice makes perfect.
Write enough and I promise you that articles will flow better, sentences will construct easier, and your vocabulary and synonyms will expand.
A wise person once said, write first, edit later. I find that works well for me. Even if what you are writing doesn’t make much sense you can go back and edit it as much as you like later on.
Writing this way helps to keep the creative juices flowing, if you try to edit along the way it causes a stop, start process that doesn’t help with either productivity or creativity. Best to do one job at a time.
36. Keep a list of your ideas
All cell phones have a notepad, so use it.
I am always jotting down notes or ideas that I want to blog about or ideas for a new blog from an original angle.
Keeping a list of ideas is really helpful when it comes time to write. having your thought set down means that you can organize your ideas and not waste time thinking about what to write.
There is nothing worse than sitting at the laptop and having your mind go blank because you can’t think of something to blog about. A list helps you to avoid this scenario.
37. Make time for yourself in between blogging
As most successful bloggers know, managing their blog takes time, a lot of time.
In fact, the tasks associated with running your blog expand to fit the number of hours you’re prepared to put into it.
Re-read that and let it sink in for a minute.
Yeah. Managing is blog is an infinite proposition. It never ends. There are always more posts to write, more SEO to be done, more social media calendars to create, more outreach and backlink building, more, more, more.
Don’t be put off by this, much of the work can be enjoyable and for many, managing their blog is a labor of love.
Just don’t get so caught up in it that you neglect to carve out some time for yourself and your nearest and dearest to have fun.
It is important to take breaks as to not get jaded. Don’t worry, the task list will still be there when you return!
38. Blogging career success is earned
Eventually, all that hard work should pay off. If you are paying attention, creating good content, reaching your audience, and working hard at SEO you will start to gain traffic.
I think I am about 5 for 500 when it comes to successful ideas vs flopsJerry Schoemaker
It is a great feeling as you see the numbers start to increase and your blog gains momentum. Many bloggers are continuously improving and tweaking their blog to drive consistent traffic.
So when you look at other blogs in your niche and wish you had the same amount of traffic try and take time to imagine how many hours the blog owner dedicated to building their blog.
Success is earned, not given.
39. A career in blogging takes time
All good things come to those who wait. Although managing a blog is not ‘waiting’ exactly, far from it. But you should be prepared for your blog’s growth to take some time.
Unless you get really lucky and write a super high ranking post right off the bat, growing your blog will be a marathon rather than a sprint.
The journey is a lot of fun, but it’s not fast. However, persistence, dedication, and education will bring you real results over time so try and be patient.
While this list may seem long, remember that it is the result of many, many hours of blogging, website building, and SEO. If you are thinking of starting your own blog I say, go for it, 100%!
I hope you can learn from some of my experiences and use them to cut down your learning curve. Blogging for a career is not a recipe for overnight success, but for continued learning and experience, you can’t beat it.
To find quality writing and content creation jobs go to www.gigleads.uk