My Tips for New Bloggers

I can’t tell you how often someone emails me and says, “I know nothing about computers and I’m so overwhelmed!”

I also can’t tell you how often someone emails me and says, “I knew nothing about computers X months ago, but now I have my own blog!”

Regardless of where you’re at in the process, I just have a few things I’d like to remind you of:

You’re awesome

I mean that. Diving in to this blogging thing is no small feat. Be proud of yourself for becoming more technologically astute. I mean, how many other people do you know in real life who are starting blogs? See? You’re ahead.

There is a huge learning curve

We’ve all experienced it. It’s not just you, I promise. Take it slow. This is a marathon, not a sprint. I know it’s exciting at first, but when you start to feel a bit stumped, take a break and come back later. Otherwise, you’ll drive yourself nutso.

It’s not linear

Blogging is not like a recipe where you add this ingredient then this ingredient, mix it all together and out pops the cake in the picture, every time, for everyone who mixes those ingredients in that way. The setting up of the website is pretty straightforward but once you’ve got that part done, you could go in all kinds of directions and be successful (whatever that means to you) or not so successful.

There will be a lot of “It depends…” answers

When I was just starting, I wanted “do this and that will result” type of answers to my questions. I never got that. Everyone seemed vague, or they answered with “It depends.” It made me crazy, but this is just how it is. Let me illustrate…

Imagine you’re talking to someone who has never been to your home country and they say to you, “Hi, I’m moving to [your home country]. How should I live there?” Hard question, isn’t it?

If someone asked me that question, I’d say, “Well, what do you mean? Do you mean living day to day in America, or living in America in general? Do you mean living in Maine or in Florida or in Hawaii? Do you mean living and working? Or living and going to school?”

I could go in a whole lot of directions. It’s the same with blogging. Many of your questions will depend on your situation.

Don’t wait to be told what to do

Get the basics and then just go. If you’ve got a blog started, you’re well on your way. A lot of us are most comfortable getting the syllabus at the beginning of the course, reading the chapter titles at the beginning of the book or getting the review sheet before we take the test. We like to know what to expect. We like to know how to prepare. We like to know what’s expected of us. Blogging is different. Be willing to chart your own course.

Embrace the flip side of being overwhelmed

Sometimes being overwhelmed makes new bloggers latch onto another blogger and the way that other blogger does things. But if you’re a new blogger, embrace your newness, your fresh eyes and your don’t-quite-know-how-this-is-supposed-to-go perspective! It might just be that you’ve got an idea that nobody has thought of or tried…or were too afraid to pursue because it wasn’t the “right way” to blog.

Wing it

Sounds cheesy (and vague) but I promise you, if you’re willing to step out into unknown territory and just try something, you’re going to make a lot more progress a lot faster. Who cares if you don’t know what you’re doing or you’re not technically savvy? Neither was I. Sure, you’ll make mistakes along the way, but most of them will be fixable.

Build up your post

I recommend you write at least 10 posts before you launch your blog. Not only will it give you a little posting cushion, but if you can write 10-20 posts and feel like you’re just barely scratching the surface of your topic, it’s a good indication you’ll be able to sustain the writing pace long term.

Also, it’s good to have some solid content available when visitors find you. It’s difficult to convince others to visit you again if they tried it once and only found a few getting started posts.

Choose to focus on your blog and one or two social media platforms and do them well

Don’t dip your toes into everything just because everyone else is doing it and says you should too. Do a few things well to start. Add more as you have the time and understanding.

Pick up tips as you need them and as you go

You do not need to have a general idea of everything blog-related before you start. There will be tips everywhere. Some tips you’ll use, some you won’t. If you’ve only got time for Facebook and Twitter, disregard the ones about Pinterest. No single tip is going to make or break your blog.

Know your target audience

Who is your ideal reader? Figure out where they hang out and go there.

Make sure you are really clear about your goal(s)

What’s your blog for? Why are you blogging? For fun? For money? Post those goals in written form somewhere near where you blog. When you sit down to work, ask yourself if what you’re doing is helping you get closer to that goal.

Find bloggers further along than you who appear to have the same goal(s) and watch them

Note what they do. Note what they do repeatedly. Figure out how they’re doing it. Consider why they’re doing it. Sometimes that might mean you have to reverse engineer something, sometimes you might have to google it, sometimes you might just ask straight out. Be curious and observant. Take off your casual observer hat and put on your detective hat.

Connect with others

A long time ago when blogs were rare, just having one made you stand out. Not so today. There are millions of blogs. Things have changed. Now, in order to stand out, you have to join with others and get involved in the community.

Be flexible

Blogging changes constantly. It is a completely different beast today than it was when I started back in 2004. Blogs have a shelf life so if you want yours to be extended, you must always be learning and changing.

Routinely look ahead to what might be next. Maintain a running list of ways to expand. Think of new things you could offer your readers. Keep your eyes and ears open for things your target audience is looking for but can’t find. Follow the pioneers and the movers & shakers in your niche; even if you don’t actively participate in the conversation, know what they’re talking about. Stay informed.

Google is your (best) friend

I’m bummed I can’t help all of you who email me with questions. But honestly? A lot of the time, I just google an answer for you anyway. That’s my little secret. :) Do it enough an you’ll eventually become a googling ninja and then you can figure out just about anything. (And here’s what I do when I get errors and warnings.)

Keep going

Settle in for the long haul. Building a successful blog is a hard road. You’re not going to see results overnight. Weeks will go by and you’ll hear only crickets. You’ll wonder if it’s worth it. Comments and followers will be few and far between (if there at all). You won’t make a penny for months. Believe me, it’s normal. So normal. Nine out of ten bloggers have been there. I certainly have. Just keep going.

As a new blogger, you’ve got (at least) one advantage

Now don’t take this the wrong way.  I know we all want to be a lot further down the road than we are.  But you are where you are, so embrace it. Don’t get caught up in having everything “just so” or making sure everything is “just right.” One of the greatest things about starting a blog is that you can make all kinds of mistakes and it doesn’t matter because no one is reading it yet anyway. Sure, you could focus on the fact that you don’t have a lot of followers at the beginning. Or you could focus on the fact that you have a lot of freedom.

If you could go back and give your new blogging self some advice, what would it be?

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Comments

  1. says

    Amy! I have just started out blogging and this was nice to read. After reading other comments about how they would go back and change how they organized or tagged their posts I am wondering what the best way to do this is. Right now I am just using the archives that list my posts as I write them. What is your advice?

  2. says

    Amy…I am so thankful that I found you on Pinterest. Here it is a year after you posted this and it is still so helpful to others. Thank you for this post and for your blog. I am your newest follower. I had gotten discouraged and was thinking of giving up on my blog, but now have changed my mind. Thank You!!!

  3. says

    Great article amy…. I m a pro blogger not getting so much traffic on my blog. Its very demoralising factor for me.., your article helped me a lot.., it gave me the new energy to start it all over again…, thanks for the great share… :)

  4. says

    Hello Amy,
    How do I get a picture to show up with my post on the initial page view, as well as, when I click on continue reading. For example, I posted a picture last night. But when a person goes to my website, they do not see the picture. They only see the words of the post, and then there is a continue reading link to click, and then they can see the picture and the entire post, and the comment box(if they click continue reading). Your website also has a lot of entries that require us to continue reading if we choose, but I like the way that you at least offer a picture with your initial page. How is this done?

    • Amy says

      Sounds like you need to enable “show thumbnail with excerpt” or something similar (wording depends on your theme). Hope that helps!

  5. says

    hi emi….
    i am a new blogger and want to increase my traffic….but i am not getting good traffic..
    but your tips are amazing and specially the last one…
    ”dont care about anything because no one is reading it”….wow,its really true and has sense
    awesome post

  6. says

    This post was really encouraging. I’m currently in month five of blogging and I’m learning things everyday. I have a huge list of “to learn” and “to-do’s” but I’m trying to take it slow and avoid burn-out. Thanks for the great tips and advice.

  7. says

    Thank you Amy! I have just started following your posts, and your step-by-step guide to starting a blog. I like the advice about mistakes and starting out. I have decided to follow as much as I can before going live since there is such a steep learning curve. I also really appreciate the way you stimulate conversation in your comments. It is so helpful to us newbies to have the advice of so many on one blog. Thank you!!

  8. says

    I just started a new blog at the beginning of the month and, like so many others, am feeling way overwhelmed! Thank you for all of the wonderful information you provide on your blog and for the encouragement. I’m determined to hang in there and learn as much as I can to make my blog successful!

  9. says

    Amy, I learned about your site from a Bloggers meeting yesterday: wow! Thank you so much for the helpful material – and for attracting such a helpful, sharing group of ‘followers’. My experience has been both with a business blog and a personal one: after reading the above comments I will be having another look at WordPress. Please keep up the good work – very encouraging!

  10. says

    I have been blogging publically for about a month now, but I had a month’s worth of posts before I went “live”. Amy, if it weren’t for your posts and Google, I wouldn’t have been able to create my blog. It was definitely a learning curve. The whole blogging thing is starting to feel a little easier. Now, I just need to post consistently and patiently wait for some readers other than my mother and sister. :) Thanks for the help!

  11. says

    Hello Amy,
    Which section of your blog shows us how to credit other sites (like when you mention the name of a site-you are able to click it also). Is that considered crediting? Can you freely write that you used something like a recipe for example, from another place in order to give credit, or must you write that person first to get permission? I guess I am just interested in making these names, and places, clickable from my blog. I want to do the right thing. Can you advise? So many different people have some of the same ideas.

    Thanks

    • Amy says

      Always credit your sources by linking to them. Never copy and paste their content (unless it’s just a tiny snippet as a quote). If you use a recipe, credit the site where you got it and then rewrite the recipe directions in your own words. Recipe directions are copyrighted material although the list of ingredients is not. To link to someone else, you can use the link icon (looks like a chain link). Click on the link icon and then it’ll provide a space to paste in the URL. Always link to the specific post (as opposed to the home page). You can also create a link to another blog in your HTML tab with this code: Text you want linked called anchor text

      I hope that helps!

  12. says

    Thank you so much for sharing your words with us. I am a very new blogger as you know only 2 months if that. I blog about candles/tarts/body products. So for me it’s hard because how much can you write about 1 item? lol.. I do my best & I know as time goes on I will only get better. I will learn to word things better, add more better photo’s plus find out more what people like.
    I really enjoy your blog.

    I took you step on blogging 10 post drafts & that helps me out alot during my busy weeks. I pick what I want to post & no worries all week about having to blog. If you take 1 day to post 10 drafts each week it saves you alot of time & stress.

    Thanks a bunch..

  13. says

    I wish I had most posts in reserve before I started. I was so excited, I just wanted to start right away. With all the research I do, sometimes it’s hard to get a post out on my weekly schedule.

  14. says

    Hi Amy,
    Exactly how many topics can a person cover per blog? I have a blog, but I have no constant traffic, so I was wondering about adding a few new subjects. But I don’t want to stray to far away from the ‘diabetic’ focus. Should I start a new blog? I want to talk about food, fashion, home kind of stuff. What do you advise? Please and thank you. I have no fans.

    Love your blog.

    • Amy says

      Hmmm…well, I think it depends on how much you’re delving into other topics. If it’s just here and there, I’d just do it, but if it’s going to be a lot of new topics, I’d start something new (particularly because your domain has “diabetic” in it). Just my thought. :)

  15. says

    your last comment made me laugh…. yes it is nice to know no one is reading anyway…. still is terribly embarrassing and makes me cringe a little :)

  16. says

    I LOVE that last one Amy! Sometimes I wish I could go back to when I was brand new. When I messed up, only I knew about it!

    Now I get to hear I messed up by a whole community of folks. LOL (seriously I’m grateful, but wow…if one more person says “your link doesn’t work…” Ha!)

  17. says

    thank you for the encouraging words! still very new at this, and needed the reminder that it’s a marathon, not a sprint. And, with few to no readers, one has lots of freedom to practice 😉

  18. says

    I am in month 7 right now and I still get overwhelmed. The first thing I did right was follow Amy’s tutorials in setting up a blog. I also approached it as a business from day 1. When I look at other blogs in my niche and I see their huge numbers on fb, I get very discouraged. I see the tricks for building “faux traffic” (as my silicon valley sister calls it) and I see a lot of “noise” out there. I have to remind myself to find MY voice and not worry about the other blogs in my niche (which is very crowded).

    When I find myself searching and reaching to post “noise”, I am reminded of something a writer said…(I *think* it was Seth Goins but not sure…) He basically said when you are trying to get readers, traffic, etc. and frustration sets in…”don’t get louder…get better”. To me that means take a quiet seat in the back, forget about analytics for a few days and find my voice again.

  19. says

    I’ve been blogging for 4 months. I’m on blogger because it seems much simpler. I’m not sure what the advantages of WordPress are. Truthfully, I wish I’d spent a little more time choosing my blog’s name. I liked it at the time, but I think it isn’t clear enough.

  20. Lori Seaborg says

    I started when it was just called “updating a website;” so there wasn’t any pressure on a newbie. I think that’s something people need to get…..it’s just updating a website, it’s not a race, and it’s your very own space. Make it your own.

    I’m always a bit confused the comments that we must know computers to know blogging. I sure don’t know anything about computers but how to click on the Internet icon, go to my blog site, write in a box, and click publish!

  21. says

    Take the time to go through each one of the settings for your blog, like: For each article in a feed, show Full text or Summary. Typically those that subscribe to a feed, or reader, would prefer Full Text.

    Find out what works for you for a while until you nail a schedule down.

    Don’t beat yourself up if you missed a post. All bloggers have hiccups. Technology and schedules can be finicky and I think most internet users can relate.

  22. says

    Thanks for this post! I’ve been blogging for almost 7 months now but I still have a loooong way to go! I just encouraged my friend who’s interested in starting a blog to check out your site so she can learn from you too. :)

  23. says

    Oh man – this was a real encouragement! I’m FOUR months in, so it’s nice to know that I’m past the discouraging 1-3 month mark! :) haha! The absolute best thing that I DID do was read ProBlogger by Darren Rowse – I even was able to borrow it from the online library in ebook form so I didn’t have to buy it! It taught me SOOOOO much and I was able to miss some of the common “big” errors because I had been prewarned! An ounce of prevention….

    What would I do differently? I agree with the previous commenter who said to start with a mission statement – I knew vaguely who I wanted to reach, but until I really defined that I was kind of bouncing around!

    It’s been a blast so far – LOT of work (and frustration at times) but really rewarding! I’m going to Blissdom this month and about to start trying to advertise – wish me luck!

  24. says

    I needed this encouragement! And I’m glad I’m not alone! I used to think I was pretty computer savvy until I started my blog! It makes my brain hurt… I have very unrealistic expectations I realized. I think it comes from the fact that I’ve been reading blogs for so many years and know what I want my blog to look like and be but I’m like a 5 year old sitting down to a piano for the first time and wanting to play Fur Elise and being frustrated that I can’t… Wow, run on sentence and babbling. I’m awesome. Anyway, thanks for all your work in explaining bloggy stuff so people like me can understand it! And for all your encouragement and cheerleading us newbies on!
    For better or worse, I would not have started my blog if it weren’t for you! (Maybe you don’t want that responsibility;)) Oh well, too bad, it’s all your fault that my words are broadcast through the interwebs!
    Blessings!

  25. says

    If I were giving my past self advice I’d say – get a high concept – a clear concept of who you are and what you blog is about. Build from there. Instead it’s a big mess. A big fun mess.

  26. says

    I am entering into month 2 of blogging, and I agree with being “wowed” with all I have learned so far, and most of it by googling, and experimenting (saving data first). I also agree with all the comments about checking stats too much! I am horrible! checking 6 to 8 times a day! I also am finding it hard to decide what areas to focus on, one day I find myself looking into affiliates, the next I am trying to figure out how to make my header more professionally and then the next I am playing around on my side bar, then I stop and think….wait a minute perhaps I need to be doing…..

  27. says

    TOTALLY agree about using Google to find out how to do stuff. It’s a huge help.

    Amy, thank you again for what you’re doing here. It’s so helpful. Hugs.

  28. says

    Well, I’ve been blogging for a long time, but I’m really considering myself more of a newbie. The first 3 years I only blogged for myself, my mom, my best friend, and just a handful of other bloggers. My pageviews hovered around 500/month. The summer of last year, I decided to take it to the next level mostly for fun and to just see what would happen. I went self-hosted on wordpress (thanks to your wonderful tutorials), got a DSLR and started taking better pictures, shared more diverse content, etc. With some effort and luck I got a link from a really popular blog and started to gain some readers. Then life happened and I completely stopped blogging for 3 months. Isn’t that the number one thing they say not to do? I was really mad at myself for that, but it taught me a few things. For one, I know that to make a go of it, I really have to work hard, take it seriously, and be committed for the long haul. I recommitted just 5 weeks ago, terribly worried that I had lost some loyal readers. Turns out many of the loyal ones were still there! And this past month I’ve more traffic than ever before. So my advice would be work hard (if you want to – nothing wrong with having a blog just for fun), commit, keep trying, and don’t worry if you make a few mistakes.

  29. says

    1. Write a bunch of posts before you, “Launch,” or at least before you’ve told everyone you’ve launched. There isn’t a lot to do when you visit a blog with one post!
    2. Definitely read a little bit about SEO. I used to give all my posts pun titles-because who doesn’t love a pun? Terrible for searches, though! Event at the Aquarium is Much better than Fishing for Fun!
    3. A little knowledge can be dangerous…before you make a big change, make sure you know what you’re doing, and you’ve saved the old version of whatever.
    4. I do wish I’d spent more time on picking out a theme, logo, etc…After more than a year, my branding is still a hot mess, but I have so many things going on that it’s hard to make it a priority.
    I’d say I started to see significant growth after about 7 months, and it started getting easier after a year because I had a lot of content and resources that I was able to repurpose.
    5. Realize you are probably not going to go viral or be an overnight success. Plug away and think marathon. Also, refreshing the stats page does not actually improve your stats. Believe me-I’ve tried. :)

    • says

      LOL – I hear you on refreshing the stats page! Glad to know I’m not the only one who has done that. Before I figured out how to check my Google Analytics in real time, I nearly died of suspense waiting until the next day to see how many visits I got! I also really agree with point #1.

  30. says

    My best tip: Join a masterminds group as soon as possible! It was the best piece of advice I ever received from you Amy and I’m so glad I listened! I was struggling before I joined the Shy Masterminds, but their kindness and encouragement continues to propel me forward, much faster than I ever would have been capable of on my own. It’s so nice not to be alone! I can’t thank you enough Amy!

  31. says

    My blog is…3 days old! This was great! And thanks for all the tips and answering my questions. I feel so computer illiterate, but I’m learning!

    • Amy says

      Maybe your blog is 3 days old, but I bet you’ve learned a LOT more than you realize in that amount of time (and leading up to it). Way to go!!

  32. says

    Very timely, Amy. A friend just sent me her first ever blog post to read. I will forward her this post immediately!!! I especially love tip number 4….

  33. says

    Amy, I concur – 1-3 months in, is a tough place to be! I’m there now, and have so many things to do to the site, and learn about maintaining the site…not to mention, write! :) It’s overwhelming somtimes, but I really enjoy it.
    A big “thank you” to you, without your site, I don’t think my site would exsist!

  34. says

    Gosh, one thing I would’ve done differently would have been to start wordpress instead of blogger. I’m really regretting it now because I can totally see all the massive benefits of having wordpress over blogger but I don’t know how to move my entire blog without losing followers or content (any suggestions would be greatly appreciated).

    And you’re totally right about using google (in fact I was just thinking about googling “how to move a blog,” lol). I’m a google fanatic! When I don’t know something I just goolge it. Another one of my FAVORITE resources is youtube. I like it better than google most times because I’m a visual learner and everything is shown to me on video. Perfect!

    Thanks so much for all you do!

    • says

      I totally agree with you on WordPress as well. I wish I had started there. They seem so much more sophisticated than Blogger. I have read about converting over to it, but like you I’m a bit scared that I’ll lose people in the transition.

    • says

      I switched from Blogger to WordPress about 6 months in, and know of other, “bigger” blogs that have made the switch as well. No one really lost followers. In my case, my traffic dropped for about a week (probably b/c I wasn’t posting/interacting as much and focusing on the switch), but then increased at a greater rate than before.
      Good luck!

    • says

      I switched from Blogger to WordPress a little over a year and a half ago and I am so, so glad I did. It has made a huge difference for my blog. I did lose some subscribers at first, but my blog has grown way faster since then than I ever think it would have on Blogger. I followed Amy’s step-by-step for setting up a WordPress blog and then googled how to switch it over and did it myself. It was a little daunting, but I was so proud of myself that I figured it out myself! I do know there are some people who will help you make the switch for a reasonable fee if you feel like that would be better than trying to do it all yourself. Good luck!

  35. says

    I just celebrated the one month anniversary of my blog. (The crowd goes wild!)

    I think the hardest thing is comparing myself to someone else. I know I’ve chosen a small niche, but it’s still hard to see someone with over 4000 fb followers and not feel like I’ll never get there.

    • Amy says

      This happened to me not too long ago. There was another page in my niche that had 1000+ more followers than I had even though we started about the same time. I was bummed, but determined. I have great respect for them and figured if they could do it, I could too. So, I set a personal goal to catch up. It helped to have something concrete to work toward. It took a while, but I eventually did catch up. I think setting realistic goals like that can be very motivating. And of course it takes patience (of which I seem to have less than I’d like). Slow and steady is the name of the game! :) Congrats on your blog!

  36. says

    Thank you for the tips, I am a new blogger myself and did not realize how much time it took to maintain a blog. I am having fun but just realizing all of the hard work you have to put into it. It becomes harder when you work full time I think

  37. says

    I really liked your last point. It’s hard not to get consumed with trying to figure out how to get more people to visit. My blog is only a month old, and I find myself checking my stats way too often, and getting disappointed because I don’t have many page views yet.

    I’m going to try to take your advice and change my perspective, because you’re right I’d rather only have a few people notice the mistakes I make during the beginning stages of my blog.

    Thanks Again!

  38. says

    Start with a framework – mission statement and know where you want to go. I had a basic framework, but now I am adjusting. Of course, it is more work re-writing than writing the first time.

    BTW, thanks for all the great tips. Largely due to your fantastic tips, tricks, and tutorials, Using Time Wisely is celebrating its first blogiversary today! Hip Hip Hooray!

    Thanks, Amy, and keep the tips coming.

  39. says

    If I were to start my blog today I would use better tag words. I didn’t understand totally how that worked This way I would have a clean index or table of contents. Instead I used many different words. And as a result it’s more difficult to find a post. Simple words like chicken, beef, vegetables, dessert would have been best. Now little by little I’m having to go back and make these changes which has become a laborious task.

  40. says

    Amy,
    Thank you SO much! This is EXACTLY what I needed to hear this morning… this week… this month.

    I started my blog about a month ago, deliberately told no one about it because I wanted time to figure things out, and recently have been feeling bogged down and confused. It is so helpful to realize that yes, there is a normal learning curve to this stuff and the normal people I talk things through with (i.e. family and friends) have no relevant experience… and that’s ok.

    • Amy says

      I think sometime during the 1-3 month mark is when it feels particularly difficult. You’ve gotten over the initial “this is so much fun!” phase and then the realization that there’s so much to learn hits you. You sound totally normal to me! Hang in there! :)