We have been running The SocialMs Blog and the business behind it for three years now. Even though we had another business before The SocialMs, blogging and building a business based on blogging is a new adventure for us.
Here are the main blogging lessons we learned from the past three years and all the ups and downs that came with it (yes, there are always some downs that you have to go through, no matter how successful you are. Don’t let anyone tell you that all business or blogging success is all shiny without any setbacks or booby traps).
1. Sometimes You Need A Break
For the past three years, we have aimed at a minimum of three blog articles per week. And even though I still love writing, there are times when I simply feel empty – as if I already wrote all the words I had in me. And the only cure for that special form of writer’s block is to take a break from writing.
Fortunately, we are two people writing here at The SocialMs and we get a lot of guest post requests so that most of the time I can simply fill the gap when I don’t want to write an article and still present you with an awesome blog post.
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There may be other signs that you need a break. There may be days when you don’t want to answer emails, where you don’t want to think strategy.
Don’t deny yourself the breaks you need – as long as they don’t turn into forever and as long as you fulfill any commitment you took.
Take a deep breath and some time off can help you start with fresh ideas and fresh enthusiasm – your audience and clients will thank you for it.
2. It Takes A Lot Of Patience
Reading all those success stories about the big-time bloggers, you may get the impression that every successful blogger saw huge success after a couple of weeks.
That is not how it usually goes. Blogging takes time – not only time that you have to spend on growing your blog but also time that you have to give it to grow and prosper.
Almost any form of distribution and blog promotion needs some time to build an audience and get into growth mode. Whether it be guest posting, social media, or SEO – you cannot expect to start one day and see big-time results the next.
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While some bloggers may be lucky – or simply have the experience – to be able to push growth within weeks, especially when you are new to the game and need some trial and error to figure things our, you should not get frustrated if your blog grows slowly.
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3. You Have To Work For Success
There is nothing worse you can do than sit back and wait for things magically to fall into place. That is not going to happen.
Unfortunately, I still see advice floating around like: Simply write awesome content and that is all it takes to get into growth mode. That is not going to happen. If you are not prepared to promote your blog then you are probably going to blog for yourself, your best friend and your mum for the rest of your life.
The secret to blogging success is to hustle.
That does not mean that you should blindly run in one direction without questions. If what you are doing for blog promotion is not working out, step back, think again and come up with a new idea for hustling.
4. Blogging Is Not So Much About Writing
I have heard it over and over: I would love to start a blog, but I am not much of a writer.
But in fact, I think the much more realistic statement would be: I would love to start a blog but I am not much of a marketer.
You can learn writing (you can also learn marketing) – no blogger has been born a professional writer. The best way to become better at writing is to write (a lot) and read a lot.
And you can find forms of content that don’t require you to be a perfect writer and still will provide you with great content for your blog.
Some bloggers write because they want to conquer some life situation. This form of a blog is more of a diary. That is ok. But in most cases, this form of a blog is not the best blog for building a business.
A blogger who blogs for business needs to think about the audience. You need to write for this audience. And sometimes that will mean that you have to write about topics, that YOU don’t find overly interesting – but your audience does.
If you fail to think about your audience, your (potential) audience is most likely going to fail you.
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6. You need to experiment a lot
There is not ONE blog success formula. There are thousands of blog success formulas. And some of them will work for you and some of them will utterly fail you. You cannot simply follow the process some guru tells you and then everything will work out as it did for the guru.
Your situation is unique: It is you that is running your blog and you are not some other already successful person, you are just that YOU. And that is good!
But that also means that some seemingly straightforward success formulas will probably not work out for you. And then you have to work on it, experiment and figure out what you have to do differently in order to make it work for you.
Statistics, analytics, and numbers will be your best friends. Because they tell you in black and white what works and what does not work at all.
Be open to new ideas, test everything, ask questions and find numbers and analytics to give you the answer and change something. Test again.
7. You need to believe in yourself
Don’t get intimidated by all those successful bloggers. They started out just like you: With an idea, a blog – and determination to make it.
If you just expect a miracle and think you can buy it with a couple of bucks, or get someone else to do the work, maybe you should not go for it.
Blogging is hard. Blogging comes with a lot of frustration. But blogging can also be awesome, rewarding. You will find new friends. Blogging can open a totally new world for you.
(And to make it easier to keep believing in yourself through all the hard times, you should join some groups of like-minded people. It will make things a lot easier)
8. Don’t Trust Every Piece Of Advice
There is endless advice out there. All for free. And some of it is awesome and totally fit to help you succeed. But not every piece of advice out there is right for you – and some of it is outdated, wrong, or simply not the advice you need right now.
Don’t follow blindly. Just because it is shiny, looks good and features some awesome numbers it does not have to be true, repeatable, or good for you.
Advice is exactly that: advice. You need to decide which advice you want to follow. You should question all advice that you get – and you have to be willing to flush advice down the drain.
In my life as an entrepreneur, I got a ton of advice, and some of it was great – but some of it was more of a joke or could even hurt our business.
9. You need to focus on your niche
Every niche is different. And every niche is important.
Once you decided on your niche you should focus on that niche. You are building an audience in that niche and your actions should reflect that.
While an only loosely related blog post once in a while may still be of interest to your audience, hopping from one topic to the next and not concentrating on your niche will not help you grow your audience, blog, and business.
Focus on your niche – it will make your blogging life a lot easier.
10. Your audience always comes first
If you are blogging for an audience and want to turn your blog into a business, your audience always comes first. You have to figure out what your audience wants from you, what they like and to what they respond. That is what you need to provide on your blog.
And sometimes that means you have to trade some of the fun in doing and writing exactly about what YOU want for catering for your audience.
If you want to grow a business, your audience is what counts.
Final Blogging Lessons
Blogging can be fun. A Blogging life can be an awesome self-determined life. But it is not all fun and leisure.
The path to blogging success can be rocky and hard. It takes a lot of energy and endurance – and you will have to fight doubts and setbacks.
But once you build your success on a solid process and build a loyal audience, once your blog starts to prosper and grow, you can enjoy the success and the rewards for a long time to come.
And everything you learned on your path to success can serve to help you start your next venture.
We wish you a happy blogging year!