What 15 Bloggers Wish They Knew Before Starting A Blog
When I first started my blog, I had no idea what I was getting myself into or where it would go. Sound familiar? I feel like most of our blogging journeys likely started the exact same way.
Even with the weeks I spent researching what I then considered “all there was to know” about blogging, in actuality, I didn’t know the half of it. But hey – hindsight is 20/20, right? I often look back wondering how in the world I kept myself afloat during those first few months of launching my blog. Somehow though, I learned as I went, made things up along the way, and figured it out. I mean, really, I’m still figuring it out, as I’m sure many of us are.
There is so much to know about this vast network we’re all a part of. While we all have our different methods of reaching our goals and our diverse views of what a successful career in the blogging industry looks like, there’s something to learn from each of us.
I’m so excited to be sharing some advice from other members of the blogging community about what they wish they knew before starting a blog. If you’re a new blogger, my hope is that you’ll use these pieces of advice as a starting point after reading. Even for those of you who have been at this for some time, hopefully they will help you to gain some new perspectives!
Also see: What 15 Bloggers Wish They Knew Before Starting a Blog (Part 2) and
6 Reasons Why No One is Reading Your Blog
The 3 things I wish I knew before starting a blog
SEE 2 MORE THINGS I WISH I KNEW IN THIS POST!
I wish I knew to have set aside savings for my first year of expenses
Blogging is an investment, no matter which way you look at it. I spent roughly $3,000 throughout my first year blogging, which didn't include all of my new clothing purchases (side note: blogging increased my shopping addition ten-fold). Some of my expenses included the following: Monthly subscriptions to hosting + Adobe Lightroom, social media marketing materials such as a Tailwind + email marketing templates, photography materials + photographers, blogger giveaways and filing an LLC to name a few.
Launching a business requires capital, and if you plan to monetize your blog down the road, it's smart to have some money put aside as you get your feet wet.
I wish I had spent the time to hone in on my niche and develop a content strategy
I launched my blog and the excitement kicked in. I wanted to do everything. One day I was a travel blogger and the next, a beauty blogger. A week after that I was a style blogger and the next thing I knew, I wanted to be all of the above. I had all of these seemingly great ideas for series' on my blog and wanted to implement all of them...at once.
What I didn't realize was that by taking a dip in just about every niche that exists, I was creating more work for myself. My audience didn't have a clear vision of my brand because I didn't have a clear vision of my brand. Instead of taking the time to develop a content strategy, I was making it up as I went, and I was all over the place.
Find your niche and define your brand before you start. Trust me on this one!
I wish I would have known that social media would simultaneously become my best friend and my worst enemy
Let me preface this one by saying that I treat my blog as a business, and I am aware that there are plenty of bloggers out there to elect to blog on the side as a creative outlet, with no intentions of utilizing their platform to earn an income - and that's okay.
Social media, Instagram in particular, has allowed my business to successfully grow. It has allowed me to connect with some wonderful bloggers who have become my closest friends, and it as afforded me some incredible opportunities to work with some of my favorite brands. That's my response on the good days.
Social media has also kept me glued to my phone 24/7. It has burnt me out on numerous occasions, and it has given me it's worst when I take that few-day, much needed break. It's made me feel like I'm moving in the complete opposite direction that I should be at this stage of the game and it has made me want to just throw in the towel. That's my response on the bad days.
Put a social media strategy in place that you can handle, and one that will contribute to your growth. Know that it won't be easy learning to juggle multiple social media platforms, but with the right plan in place, you can make it work. Lastly, take the time to learn what works for your audience on each individual platform.
Advice from other bloggers
(Thank you to all of the bloggers who offered their advice! I have condensed responses in an effort to provide the most relevant and diversified information.)
Create - Don't Compare: My biggest advice for those starting a new blog is to avoid comparing yourself to others. There is no perfect formula for being a blogger and looking to others will only hinder you. When I first started blogging I subconsciously attempted to emulate what other "successful" bloggers were doing and guess what? It didn't work for me. They say that comparison is the thief of all joy, but I believe it's the thief of creativity as well. So, put on your blinders if you need to, but be yourself, stay true to your mission, and don't let others staunch your creativity!
- Anna Cobbs, Fleurdille
I wish I had known to pay for a mentor in the beginning! After working one-on-one with someone knowledgeable in the industry, I was able make huge progress with my social media and business. If I had known to work with a mentor in the beginning, I could have saved myself a lot of headaches and time!
- Lauren Hock, Lauryncakes
I feel like I was aware of the time investment blogging is. I wish I had known that it is also a financial investment. The moment I shifted my mindset and looked at blogging as a business is the moment it started to change for me. Any startup business takes upfront investment and that's how you have to treat blogging.
- Cassie Rea, CassieRea.com
I wish I knew the importance of organizing and planning ahead when I started blogging. There is so much that goes on behind the scenes in creating one blog post, that organizing and planning your content makes the process much easier and produces better content.
- Rach DiMare, RD’s Obsessions
I wish I had known about the importance of having a defined niche! When I started my blog 5 years ago I covered everything from DIY projects and home décor to fashion and recipes. About a year ago I narrowed my focus down to affordable fashion and baking cute desserts, which resonated well with my followers.
Also, Invest in a high-quality camera. Photography is everything when you are trying to build a brand-blog. Teach yourself how to use a DSLR camera and how to edit your images to give your blog a professional look. Or work with a professional photographer if you have the budget!
- Jamie Kamber, Treats and Trends
Don't be afraid to ask. (For partnerships, guest posts, etc.) I always thought I had to reach a certain amount of "followers" or have a certain aesthetic before brands or other bloggers would work with me, and that's just not true. Once I started reaching out to bloggers and brands, I started to build a community of people I enjoyed working with, who fit my personal brand really well. You'll get a lot of "no's", but for every 5-10 "no's" you might get a "yes", which could lead to something great!
- Hannah Hagler, Hello Hannah
My advice, which sometimes even I have trouble following, would be not to focus so much on numbers. It’s seriously so frustrating when you post an amazingly composed photo with the perfect lighting and angle and filter with an outfit that you absolutely LOVE, only to find that your audience didn’t respond as great as you’d hoped. It’s also SO easy to compare yourself with other bloggers who have the same amount of followers as you who are getting way more engagement. Don’t lose yourself in the numbers game. Work on putting out the best possible content and staying true to your personal style and aesthetic!
- Vanessa Elle, VanessaMeow
Starting my blog was definitely a scary thing and there were so many things I wish I knew beforehand. I think one of the biggest things for me was that I wish I knew the impact of having a blogger community to lean on. It is so encouraging and makes things way more enjoyable when I have people to bounce ideas off of, share content with and be creative with! In the beginning I was so scared of people judging me, thinking I was not a "good enough" blogger but now I have made SO many great friends and connections that I wish I had had sooner!
- Taylor Jacobs, Gracefully Taylored
I sincerely wish I knew more about business, web design, and the more technical side that exists behind blogging. As I continue to learn to run my blog as a business, I'm often reminded of all those times back in college where my parents suggested I take a few accounting and business classes. At the time, I politely declined but now wish I would have! The hardest courses in college that you avoid could end up being a huge asset to you in the future so for all those college gals, I strongly encourage taking as many business, accounting, and web design classes as you can if you are interested in starting a personal brand or blog.
- Taylor Love, Love Inside & Out
Running a blog is not like writing in an online diary - while you are totally writing for yourself, you have to keep your audience in mind. Be engaging, intriguing, and as honest as you feel comfortable with. Create a purpose for posting and never lose yourself in the crazy world of blogging.
- Caitlin Houston, Confessions of a Northern Belle
Before I started blogging, I wish I would've known how many times I would be rejected. You pitch to brands with your media kit and they say that they don't have a budget, aren't interested, or never respond. I've learned to be thankful for the brands that say yes and work to build a relationship with them.
- Steph Weber
I wish I stood firm in my rates when I first started blogging. Even with a small loyal following, the quality of work is ultimately worth more than the numbers (which can easily be manipulated.) Aim to be different, hone your skills, and refuse to put out sub par work. There is monetary value in that, much more than you think.
- Lauren Nakagawa, Shoes & Sashimi
I feel like I knew about the time it would take to plan and shoot looks, as well as the monetary investment. What I didn't know thought was the time investment it would require to find new brands and pitch yourself. I always just thought that as I got bigger as a blogger, more brands would come to me for partnerships. I do get emails from brands here and there, but the majority of the collaborations I've received have been a result of me pitching myself or a blog post idea to a brand. I don't mind that it's part of the job, but this was totally unexpected for me and a part of the blog I didn't know I'd need to do.
- Camille Carter, Charmed by Camille
I never thought I would play the comparison game - I started blogging years ago before Instagram was even a main channel for bloggers. It's hard to not compare yourself to others and think "why didn't I get that brand campaign" or "why can't I write as well as she does," but at the end of the day you have to be yourself and know that you CAN'T be compared. You're an individual!
- Alyssa Loring, Feathers and Stripes
To end with perhaps one of my favorite pieces of advice from one of my favorite girls,
Be truly yourself. If you stick to that, you will be happy in everything you do with your blog. You'll also grow faster and make more personal connections with brands and other bloggers if your style and aesthetic is true in everything to do.
- Lindsey Stackhouse, Lindseystackhouse.com