This post was originally written shortly after launching my blog, MysteryMoneyMan.com. If you’re considering starting a blog, there’s a lot of great advice available all over the web from very experienced, successful bloggers. It’s the same advice that helped me get my site up and running. Hopefully this article will provide you with some additional inspiration as well as a few basic tips from the early days of my blog. Enjoy!
September 4th, 2016 marks 15 days since I launched the Mystery Money Man blog.
It’s the blink of an eye in the life cycle of many long standing blogs. Yet it’s been enough time for me to realize that I made the right call a few short months ago. That’s when I decided to combine my passions of writing, personal finance and creative design, and dive head first into the blogosphere.
Arriving at that decision was a longer process, the result of a number of things simmering below the surface for at least a year. I don’t recall the exact moment in which the idea for starting a blog popped into my mind. Once it did, however, it seemed as though it was the perfect fit. Of course, there was the small obstacle of having ZERO knowledge of blogging or web design. 🙂
I’ll save the more detailed back story for another article down the road!
I have a 9-5 (and then some) career which involves leading a team of financial professionals. It’s a job I love. But in that, I’m somewhat tethered. At heart I’m a creative person. I write and record music for example, and front an alternative rock band. In part, it’s that desire to create that drew me to blogging.
That being said, I realize that the creative outlet on its own won’t sustain me, it’s simply too much work.
Fortunately, I’m also passionate about helping people navigate the pitfalls of consumerism, and hope to inspire others along their journey to greater financial freedom. ie. simplifying their lifestyle, getting out of and avoiding debt, saving far more money, and reaping the rewards of those choices!
I mention this in order to provide some context, so that you know a little bit more about me and my background.
Formalities aside, the past couple of months have been quite a ride for my family and me. It’s been an amazing yet VERY busy summer!
In late June, we headed on a two week road trip to visit my family. I had purposely waited until then before starting work on my blog. Although I had no idea just how much time I would be investing, I realized that getting things off the ground would require the large blocks of time that my vacation would allow.
In fact, looking back, I’m not sure that I could have built and launched the site without having that time. An experienced blogger may have had little trouble, but everything was completely new to me, and required a steep learning curve.
I will quickly mention that my site runs on WordPress (.org) platform, is hosted by BlueHost and the blog was built using XTheme by Themeco. I’ve become a huge fan of all of these platforms, and will detail them more in a future article.
By the way, if you are looking for an in depth how-to guide on starting a WordPress blog with BlueHost, there are plenty of tutorials out there. The best one I’ve seen was written by Bobby, over at millennialmoneyman.com. I highly recommend checking it out!
Without further ado, here are a few things I’ve learned a mere 15 days after launching the Mystery Money Man blog.
1. Starting a blog is a lot of work.
Don’t let this discourage you, but it’s important to go in with your eyes wide open. If you don’t have experience with web design, the learning curve can be steep. There’s good news though! If I can do it, just about anyone can! Prior to the date my site launched, I worked at it every day for two full months, sometimes for several hours at a time; planning, designing, building, and troubleshooting. It helped that I’ve thoroughly enjoyed the process, and looking back I realize how much I’ve learned.
2. Your number # 1 focus should always be on quality content!
You read this all the time, and for good reason. If you don’t create quality content, no amount of social media promotion, or monetization of your site is going to keep people around. I have quickly seen that there are a lot of important tasks required in running an active blog, but none should ever trump quality content. Think about the blogs you consider to be the best, it’s a strength that they all share!
3. There are no original ideas.
Don’t take this as a negative thought, rather something to take solace in. When I started planning my blog I had this crazy idea that I would attract readers because of my amazingly, fresh ideas. Yeah right! I quickly realized that there really is no concept that anyone can come up with that hasn’t been thought of before. No blogger, no matter how successful, has some exclusive knowledge that’s only available to him or her, for sharing with the rest of the world.
The way that bloggers find success is in how they present and package their ideas, their information. The best one’s have found ways to stand out from the crowd. One way is how they engage people. Which brings me to my next point.
4. Follow the Golden Rule.
Do you like receiving spammy twitter messages or emails from other bloggers? Would you be motivated to comment on someone else’s article if you knew that they would never reply? Not a chance. Take the time to make respond personally when people make contact with you. Also, be sure to support other bloggers in their efforts, by reading and commenting on their posts. You’ll reap the benefits. Even when I’d just begun, the most fulfilling thing about my blogging experience was dialoguing with other bloggers, as well as my readers.
5. Engage with your audience on social media daily.
Make a commitment to respond to every comment and email you receive. Established bloggers with tens of thousands of readers may not be able to do this, but until you reach that point, you should make it happen! It helps to be on social media constantly, but if you’re not, I would make a point to check in at least once a day to correspond with people and reply to any messages or comments!
6. Build your social media presence one platform at a time.
When I first started my blog, I planned to crush it on Pinterest, Facebook and Twitter all at the same time, but I found it way too much work. For me, Twitter was the best way to get started. I’m very familiar with it, and it’s easy to connect with large numbers of people very quickly. Once I established a strong foundation, I shifted my focus to the other platforms. It remains a work in progress. There’s enormous potential within social media to drive traffic to your blog, but be patient, and don’t stretch yourself to thin.
7. You may have 10 readers, you need to write like you have 10,000!
You know what they say, confidence is key! Your readers need to know that you believe in your message. If you don’t, it will come through in your writing, loud and clear. At the beginning, I would advise not spending too much time reading other blogs. There are some great writers out there. But if you are still finding your voice, or your niche, you may be easily discouraged or swayed by reading other writer’s content, before you have a firm grasp of your own. This is something I noticed happening to myself in the first few days, and I realized it was hurting my own focus and confidence. Not to worry though, keep at it and it won’t take long before you find your way!
8. Always be writing.
I read this advice from a post on ProBlogger.net, and I instantly recognized its relevance. The idea being that the longer you break between writing, the more difficult it is to regain your creative flow. It’s amazing how quickly I was able to notice this happening with myself. I had written a number of posts prior to launching my site, and had committed to writing at least 2 posts per week once it went live. The first week, I took a complete break from writing between posts, in order to focus on other blog related activities. It was very difficult to get back into the swing of things. I’ve quickly made the adjustment to writing something every day and it’s really helped to keep the creative juices flowing. So write something, even if it’s just random thoughts that you can develop later on!
So there you have it, some thoughts from the past 15 days, in reality the past couple of months. It’s certainly not an exhaustive list, but I hope you find it helpful!