“Should I start a blog” is something I hear a looooot.
I knew I wanted to start a blog because I had a ton of student loan debt, and I wanted to help people learn about money.
Now, I talk with people all the time about starting a blog. They share their biggest fears with me, and that’s how I came up with this list.
This is a list I created from all the things people share with me about their concerns with respect to starting a blog.
1. What To Blog About
Here’s my advice for knowing what to blog about:
- If there’s something you’re really passionate about, go with that.
- If you’re unsure about what to start a blog about, then consider two things:
- What you like doing, and
- What there’s a market for
Your blog needs to be something that people want to read, so look at what’s already out there. Is there some blog that you love to read that you think you’d also like to write?
Don’t start a blog about your life unless you are a spectacularly unique or famous person – no one cares.
People read blogs because they want to know what they can learn and apply to their lives. People are always thinking “What’s in it for me?” (WIFM), so your job as a blog is to:
- Find who you want to help (your target market), and
- Ask them what they need help with
Blogging is about providing value and helping people. The more value you produce to the world, the more you’ll be paid. So, choose something you want to help people with.
2. What To Name Your Blog
I hear people get stuck on what to name their blog a lot.
What I say to them is that so long as your blog name isn’t obscene, it really don’t matter as much as you think.
Give yourself a deadline to make a decision about a name (not more than one week), and make the choice and don’t look back.
Here are a couple ideas for what to name your blog:
- Your personal name (like I do)
- A name that suggests what the blog is about (e.g.: my blog used to be called Financegirl, which was obviously about money for women)
If you go with your first and last name, keep in mind you won’t be able to sell it down the road (or it will be very difficult to sell, if you do). This isn’t something you’re probably thinking about now, but keep it in mind. If you’re all in and know you won’t sell, then your name is a good way to go.
If you’re still stuck, here are a couple tips that can help:
- Research other similar blogs in your niche and see what their blog names are
- Come up with a list of 10 blog blog names and ask for feedback
The name of your blog isn’t determinative of your blog’s success, so don’t stress out about it too much. Certainly don’t spend more than two weeks deciding!
3. Your End-Goal For Starting A Blog
I actually don’t hear this concern enough. But it should be one!
People tend to think about whether to start a blog from the perspective that it’s all about them, instead of what their end-goal is, which I think is a mistake.
Here are three very different end-goals for starting a blog:
- To make money (run a profitable business)
- To become an influencer (popularity is more important than profitability)
- To share your life story (diary blog)
The strategies you need to take to achieve each of these end-goals for each are completely different.
For example, I have always wanted to make money blogging. But for the first two years of my blog, most of what I did centered around popularity. I focused a lot on social media and trying to become an influencer. No wonder I didn’t make much money!
My point is that if you can be incredibility focused about your end-goal from the beginning, your likelihood of success is much greater and it’ll happen much faster.
Oh, and here’s something I really like to remember if your goal is to make money blogging:
- Value > profitability > popularity
The more value you provide, the more money you’ll make. And if your goal is profitability, then focus on that — not popularity.
This little nugget is super important to remember if your goal is to make money blogging. If it’s not your goal, then you can switch those words around (maybe popularity is most important).
4. The Fear Of Starting
I hear about the fear of starting from almost everyone considering starting a blog.
The good news is this is totally normal.
Your brain naturally goes into a place of fear-based thinking any time you consider doing something out of your normal routine. This is just the way the brain works. It was super helpful for getting humanity to survive to this point. It’s also super helpful if someone is about to mug you or break into your house. But it’s not helpful when you’re considering pursuing something new that pushes you outside your comfort zone.
When you experience fear around starting a blog, you don’t have to listen to it. You can do it whatever it is you want to do even with fear there. I like to say “oh, hello fear. I see you, and I hear you. But you’re not useful here.”
The more you practice acknowledging your fear and acting in spite of it, the easier this gets over time.
So, if you feel fearful about starting a blog, that is normal. And you should do it anyways.
5. The Time Commitment
The time commitment for starting a blog is something you need to consider. It ain’t no joke!
The more committed you are to your blog, the more likely it will be a success. For example, if you work on your blog 2 hours per day and 6 hours on the weekend days, I think you could have a wildly profitable and successful blog 1 year from now.
On the other hand, if you’re only working on it for 2 hours on a Sunday afternoon and that’s it, your blog probably will just be a hobby.
Think about what your end goal is for your blog and acknowledge that the bigger the goal, the bigger the time commitment.
I blog and work full time (and maintain my relationships!) but it takes incredible intentionality with my time (here are my top productivity tips for reference). I get up at 4:30am or 5am and blog before work, and I spend many weekend days at a coffee shop blogging for hours at a time. It takes that level of commitment to do it all.
You can put it less time that I do, but just know that the amount of time you put in will directly correlate to the results you get.
6. The Financial Investment
The financial investment for starting a blog is something you should consider.
Do not start a blog for free. You can technically do this, but it won’t last. You will end up moving your blog to a paid platform if you stick with blogging, and moving it is a big pain (and way more expensive).
There are platforms that allow you to start a blog for free, but you’ll have something in the name of your blog that suggests it’s a free blog, which means people won’t read it or take it seriously. It’s like if my blog was “nataliebacon.wordpress.com” – what? No. Just no.
Not only that, but you won’t own your blog. The free platform where you have it will own it. Not great.
Instead, the go-to platform (that I’m completely bias toward) is starting a WordPress, self-hosted blog (you can read my how to start a WordPress tutorial here).
There will also be blog services that you can use for free instead of paying for, and many of them will have very limited options when it comes to functionality.
For example, it took me two years to get 2,000 email subscribers because I was using Mailchimp (free). Now, I have 25K because I pay use ConvertKit (paid). Had I started with ConvertKit, my email list would be so much bigger, and I would’ve made money a lot faster. (Here’s my review on 4 email services for bloggers.)
All this is to say that there are certain start up costs that go into creating a blog. When I started blogging, I would freelance write and babysit to bring in money quickly to pay for blog expenses. It was 100% worth it.
Here are a few examples of blog costs…
Creating and launching your blog:
- Buying your domain name (see my how to start a blog tutorial for more on this)
- Paying for annual blog hosting (again, see my how to start a blog tutorial)
- Website design (Divi Theme is super popular right now)
- Tech help with your blog (I use iMark Interactive)
You can reference my How To Start A Blog post for specific steps on how to get started creating a blog.
Growing your blog:
- Email marketing software (ConvertKit is the company I love for this)
- Landing pages (Lead Pages is what I use and love)
- Social media icons (I use Social Warfare)
- Driving traffic to your blog (Pinterest course or Facebook eBook to learn how)
You can read this post about How To Turn Your Blog Into A Successful Business for growing tips for your blog.
Monetizing your blog:
- Learning how to monetize (e.g.: taking affiliate marketing or six figure blogger courses)
- Accounting software (I used to use Wave Apps and now I use QuickBooks)
- Credit card payment processor (I use Stripe)
- Sales page and product company (I use Clickfunnels)
Here’s a blog post that walks you through how to make money blogging for reference.
Your blog expenses will vary, but you could spend around $1,000 the first year, I’d estimate.
If your goal is to make money blogging, it’s worth it to invest in the beginning because you’ll build your blog faster and avoid making mistakes (e.g.: using free software that’s never updated so you lose functionality and things start breaking).
Along the way, you’ll get used to spending money on your blog (and it gets easier once income is coming in!). The more you invest in your blog, the more you’ll get out of it.
When I started blogging, I didn’t want to pay for the expenses so I would babysit and freelance write (here’s a good story about how 3 freelancers make $10k+ per month writing). This extra money allowed me to invest in my blog until it was profitable and I could quit. I did this for almost the entire first year.
7. The Vulnerability Of Being Online
For your blog to be good (and worth reading) you have to be authentic. People will only become followers if they trust you. People will only trust you if you’re open and honest with them.
This can be pretty scary at first.
That’s the bad news. The good news is that every time you’re vulnerable and open with your audience, it gets a little bit easier.
People ask me about blogging anonymously, sometimes. I don’t recommend it because eventually, you (as the anonymous blogger) end up breaking your anonymity and it’s a bit of a challenge to do. That said, if it’s between not starting a blog and starting one anonymously, then I say go for it and be anonymous until you’re comfortable.
The more open and authentic you can be from the beginning, the better. And, again, it get easier over time. You start to not care as much about other people’s opinions. (If you haven’t heard “the man in the arena” speech by Theodore Roosevelt – go find it right now!)
8. Getting People To Read Your Blog
It’s one thing to learn how to create a blog and get it up and running (without crashing!).
It’s another thing to get people actually reading your blog.
I’ll never forget my aunt said to me once that she had a friend who had a blog that no one read. My aunt thought this meant the blog was bad if no one was reading it. I laughed. I knew that couldn’t be further from the truth.
People don’t find blogs. Bloggers push their blogs in front of people.
Enter: digital marketing.
You have to learn how to drive traffic to your blog.
This is the secret to getting people to read your blog. They’re not going to find it otherwise.
Of course your content needs to be good, but that’s just a given. You can have great content that no one ever reads because you haven’t marketed it.
For new bloggers, there are many things you can (and should) do to drive traffic to your blog intentionally. This shouldn’t be a reason for not starting a blog. But once your blog is up and running, you do need to focus on getting people to read it and growing it.
I suggest starting with learning how to drive traffic from search engines, starting with Pinterest (because it’s easiest), then moving to YouTube and Google. Notice that these platforms are search engines (not social media). I took Pinterest Traffic Avalanche (an online blogging course) and learned how to drive traffic to my blog through Pinterest. I get most of my traffic from Pinterest, and I highly recommend the course.
Social media is great but it’s more about connecting than it is about traffic.
Without getting in the weeds too much for this post, just know that you’ll need to get on board with marketing (and sales, too for that matter) if you ever want people to ready you blog.
9. How To Make Money From Your Blog
Most people I talk to want to start a blog and make money from it but are concerned they won’t be able to.
Starting a profitable blog is totally possible. I did it. And you can, too.
But, there’s a problem…
There are SO many fancy, sexy, amazing things that will present themselves to you in your blogging journey that distract you from actually making money from it.
If you get one thing from this post, it should be this:
- Value > profitability > popularity
Soooo many new bloggers obsess over becoming popular online, when their goal is profitability.
You can be very popular online and make little to no money at all.
Yes, you can have both. But you can’t focus on both at the same time to start with. So, if your goal is profitability, make sure you take action in line with that goal.
This means focusing on monetization strategies and not popularity strategies. For example, learn how to make money with affiliate marketing and digital products, while saying no to interviews. It’s hard to do because interviews and opportunities to write for other blogs and speak may come up — but often they’re unpaid. These things are great if you’re already making money and want to promote and grow your audience. But they have little, if anything, to do with monetizing.
From a practical perspective, here are the resources I have used and highly suggest for learning how to monetize a blog:
- Make Money Blogging For Beginners (ads and basic affiliate marketing)
- Making Sense Of Affiliate Marketing (affiliate marketing only)
- Six Figure Blogger (digital product creation, email marketing, and affiliate marketing)
I’ve used these courses and they each gave me insight into creating a specific monetization strategy for my blog. Without them, I would be lost.
10. The Uncertainty Of Not Knowing Whether It’ll Be A Success
People share with me that they’re afraid to start a blog (#4 above), but I also hear them say they want to know ahead of time if it will be a success so they know how much to put into it.
This thinking is completely backwards.
If nothing else, remember this: you get back what you put into your blog.
You have to commit to it 100% for it to be a success. And if you do, then you’ll find a way.
You are going to have blog failures. That doesn’t mean your blog will be a failure. It just means there will be challenges – like anything else. This is part of business – eerrr life!
There is no way to know what will happen, so get in the right mindset. Treat your blog like a priority. Commit to it. Believe in your heart of hearts that it will be a success.
The more you act like your blog is going to be a success, the more you’ll take action and get results that make it a success.
You can’t get the results first. You have to believe first. Then, you’ll get the results.
A Final Note!
Everything is figure-out-able.
So, I say go for it.
The worst case scenario isn’t that you waste money, time, or that your blog fails.
The worst case scenario is that you don’t go for it and stay exactly where you are right now.
I had no idea that starting a blog would change my life.
I was able to leave a career I hated and take a 50% pay cut but continue to pay down my student loan debt because of my blog income.
Not only that, but I learned about business, made new friends, and continue to grow as a person in ways I never expected or could’ve predicted.
I make over
$4k $5k per month online while working full time. If I let fear get in the way of that, I would’ve been never become this version of myself.
Go for it. It’s worth it.
P.s. – here are my favorite free blogging resources:
- Blogging Quick Start Guide – this is my blogging eBook
- 5 Day Blogging Bootcamp – this is my 5 day blogging course
- How I Made $45K Blogging In 1 Year While Working Full Time Free eBook – this is a look into how I made $45k blogging in 1 year while working full time
- 2018 Blogging Trends eBook – this is an amazing eBook I devoured in about 10 minutes about today’s top blogging trends
- 7 Surefire Ways To Boost Your Blog Income Overnight – this download has really applicable tips for taking your blog income up a notch asap
- 120 Awesome Blog Post Ideas – this gives you soooo many blog post ideas
- The New Blogger’s Guide To Guest Posting – this is a download that shows you how to get started guest posting on other blogs
- Blog Structure Blueprint – this is a template that gives you a visual for how to organize your blog (I used this when I started)
- 10 Steps To Take When A Post Goes Viral – this is a download that gives you specific tips for what to do when a blog post goes viral