The Ugly Side of Blogging: What You Need to Know Before You Start a Blog
If you’re like most people, at one time or another you’ve considered starting a blog. Maybe you love the idea of your very own creative outlet on the internet where you can post and write about whatever you want. Maybe there is something special happening in your life– a new child, an extended trip, or some other type of major event.
A blog can be a great place to document your experience and share it with your family, friends, and even the whole world. Or maybe you have a knowledge of or strong passion for a particular topic or interest. A blog is a great way to share what you know with the world.
Notice that I didn’t mention anything about money. From my experience, those who start a blog and choose a topic or niche for the sole purpose of making money usually fail.
It doesn’t take very long to realize that getting a blog up and running, posting consistently, and building a readership takes a lot of time and hard work. There are millions upon millions of blogs in the world, so what will make your blog stand out in the crowd? Before you get started, consider some of these realities:
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4 Blogging Realities to Consider
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1. Blogging takes more time than you think.
When you read a post on your favorite blog with a compelling story and beautiful pictures, please understand that the post didn’t come together in an hour or two. We’re talking three, four, five+ hours for most posts. You have to think of a topic, write the first draft, edit, format in WordPress, take great pictures, schedule the post, promote on social media, and a whole range of other tiny but time-consuming tasks. Even just a single a post is a tremendous time commitment.
2. Blogging costs money.
Sure, there are ways to get started for free with WordPress.com or Blogger, but you’re very limited with those platforms. You need a self-hosted WordPress blog with corresponding hosting fees — starting at under $5/month. As you grow, you’ll spend more.
Eventually, you’ll want an email marketing provider, maybe a new camera, a social media scheduling service, etc… The money can add up. I certainly don’t recommend investing in all the things I mentioned immediately, but understand that eventually blogging will become an expensive hobby if you aren’t earning some income from your efforts.
3. Blogging makes you vulnerable.
Some people just don’t feel comfortable having their face on a website and putting their lives out there on the internet. There’s nothing wrong with that. Most “anonymous” blogs fail. Why? People connect with other people, not some mystery author. That’s why corporate blogs don’t do well; the reader can’t see the person behind the blog.
When you’re vulnerable and put your life on the internet, you leave yourself open to criticism and personal attacks. This is rare, but there are some people who seem to take pleasure in hiding behind a username on the internet, sending hurtful emails, and leaving hurtful comments. If you’re a blogger, this will happen to you at some point. Prepare yourself now.
4. Blogging can make you feel disconnected from the real world.
There’s an interesting phenomenon that plays out over and over… someone starts a blog, works hard to build an audience, things go well and the blog grows, and then people in the blogger’s “real” life just don’t quite understand the blogging thing. There’s a disconnect.
It’s hard to explain to friends and family why you are pouring so much time and effort into a blog. They look at it as a nice side project but don’t understand the obsession. Abby and I certainly had some awkward conversations with friends when we told them we were both now working on the blog full time from home. Some thought we were throwing away our careers and making a huge mistake. I don’t blame the people who don’t quite understand, but it’s a reality many bloggers have to face.
So you still want to start a blog? Here are your two unfair advantages that will help you succeed:
I hope I haven’t scared you away from starting a blog. I feel so fortunate that Abby decided to start blogging when she did. It has radically changed our family, our schedule, our flexibility, and our finances for the better. But, before you make that final leap and get started, realize that as a new blogger you have two major unfair advantages that will help you stand out in a crowd of noise.
Your passion for a particular topic is your unfair advantage when starting a blog. It will keep you going when you don’t see the initial growth you want. Your passion will keep you going when you’re tired and want to go to bed instead of finishing that post. Your passion is what will shine through in your writing and help your readers know, like, and trust you.
Don’t miss out on this unfair advantage by [choosing a blog topic] you don’t care about. Just because your “keyword research” or potential income opportunities look promising in a certain niche or topic, if you’re not passionate about the subject, you’ll eventually give up. It’s just too much work to write about and create content around a topic that doesn’t truly interest you.
2. Work ethic
Notice I didn’t say skill.
Sometimes Abby laughs when she looks back at [her first] dozen or so posts. After hundreds and hundreds of posts and three years of blogging her writing is now more engaging, her photography is better, and her headlines are more attention grabbing. None of this happened overnight. She slowly got better and better by continuing to write new blog posts. Her work ethic carried her through. Her “skill” was built over time and was the result of her work ethic.
The number one thing that sets successful bloggers apart from non-successful bloggers is work ethic. It really is as simple as that. How hard are you willing to work? How much time are willing to spend when it seems like nothing is working? How you answer those questions will largely determine the success of your blog.
Most people start a blog and give up after a month or two. The successful bloggers just refuse to give up and keep working day after day, month after month, year after year. If that’s your attitude, success is inevitable.
It’s not for me (or) How can I get started?
Maybe after reading this post you’ve decided that blogging isn’t right for you. There’s nothing wrong with that!
But if you’re more fired up now than before you read this article, how do you get started? Set a launch date. Put this on the calendar. Give yourself a week or two at a minimum to get everything up and running and write three or four posts prior to launch. See this post for a detailed walkthrough of everything you need to do to get your blog up and running as quickly as possible.
Once you’re all set up, get ready to work like crazy and connect with other bloggers! A consistent posting schedule of 1-3x/week is hugely important in the early days of your blog.
Make a commitment to show up and do the work every day. Don’t get frustrated in the early days with site design or post quality. Improve slowly over time. With blogging, the only way you can learn is by doing. It will be tough and seem pretty overwhelming at the beginning, but as we have experienced, if you stick with it and work harder than you have at anything else in your life, amazing things can happen.
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This post contains affiliate links. For more information, see my disclosures here.
Blogging really does take so much more time and effort than one thinks when first starting out! I really do agree that you have to love your blog and blogging as just a fun hobby before you can ever imagine making money off of it! The money (if it comes at all) is just an extra boost. The real payoff is doing something you love and having a great place for a creative outlet.
Totally agree, Jessica! SO much work but so worth it! 🙂
This post was so helpful and encouraging for my blogging journey. Thank you!
So glad to hear it, Jada! Best of luck with your site!
I feel so psyched up for this now more than ever. Thanks Donnie for sharing this.
I so agree with all of your points, but I am so glad I started blogging too!
Me too! Has been totally worth it! 🙂 Hope you’re having a great week!
I love this!
I would love to have a blog of the thing I am post passionate about; cleaning haha!
I have ADHD so cleaning is a big task that I struggled with growing up.
Now that I’m an adult I had to learn how to clean properly and what motivates me, and I must say I found a hidden Gem!
Cleaning has become my calm and I want to teach others how enjoyable, gratifying and satisfying cleaning can truly be! But also to never be hard on yourself when you dont!
There’s so much I could write about how much I love it, products, etc. 😆
This was the inspiration I was looking for! I’m excited to find like-minded people to connect with who enjoy it as much as I do!
So glad it was helpful for you, Drea! Love to hear that! Wishing you all the best on your blogging journey! <3
Hi Abby! I could look through your blog all day long! So full of great information:-) I have been researching and contemplating starting a blog for over a year now and still have not taken the leap! Your guides and lists have been very helpful! Hope to be a fellow blogger soon!
So glad they were helpful for you, Stephanie! Love to hear that. Wishing you all the best on your blogging journey!