It’s a daydream many people share. Quitting their 9-5. Living independently – maybe even as digital nomads. Working on their own terms, traveling the world while they’re at it. Or just having a voice in the vast expanse of the internet, sharing their opinions with the world.
Becoming a blogger.
For most, this daydream remains just that: a fantasy, never acted on. Filed away for when the grind of daily life becomes suffocating.
The reason for that is not a lack of ideas. Most people who are thinking about starting their own blogs have plenty of them, topics that they are passionate about, and even the will to put in the work.
What stops them is fear.
To put it in Hamlet’s words, most people would rather bear the ills they have than fly to others that they know not of. And running a blog is not something that you’d typically know a lot about. It’s not something that is taught in schools, or that many acquaintances pursue as a career.
As amazing as it may sound in theory, starting your own blog is essentially like starting a business, with all the odds of success and failure stocked accordingly.
Basically, starting a blog can be bloody scary.
If you want to learn how to overcome this fear, to summon a Patronus to drive away that Dementor, this post is for you. Below, you’ll find six pieces of advice, based partly on my own (nerve-wrecking) experience, partly on that of fellow bloggers. Like most good advice, they’re pretty straight-forward, but far easier to follow once you’ve seen them written down. Expecto patronum!
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1 – Learn from others’ experiences
You’re not alone in this boat. Most new bloggers are plagued by doubts and anxiety about the content they create, or unsure how to go about promoting themselves. That’s true even of many bloggers who went on to become incredibly successful.
And thatis comforting in its own right. They have done it. You can, too.
But more than that, many of those bloggers have written about their shaky beginnings and initial mistakes.
You get to profit from their experiences.
2 – You don’t have to be an expert
Claiming a topic for your own can be scary. To blog about something means you need to be an expert on it, right? And potential bloggers are scared that they’re not – a feeling aptly called imposter syndrome.
Of course it’s great to have a subject that you know tons about – either through education or experience – as the basis of your blog.
But mostly it’s enough to be passionate about a topic and ready to learn a lot.
For most bloggers, their topic isn’t set in stone from the outset, but rather a stage on a journey. Many have switched topics as their interests evolved, others started from scratch and learned on the fly.
If they can do it, so can you.
Once you decide you want to get serious about blogging, there are loads of blogging and freelancing groups around Facebook. Many of them are easy to join and offer valuable information and, more importantly, personal contact with the people behind the blogs.
3 – Be clear about your goals
JK Rowling was right in one thing: All it often takes to chase away your deepest and darkest fears is a powerful happy thought.
There’ll be days when you’ll be exhausted, uninspired and utterly overwhelmed. And you’ll still have to grind out content. On those days, you’ll crawl back into bed and throw in the towel pretty quick… unless you have a powerful why to keep you going.
Why do you want to start a blog?
What do you expect from it?
Some people start a blog because they want to share their opinions or their art with the world. Some because they want to promote themselves and their work in the job market.
Most people start a blog because they want to make money out of it. As basic as that.
And that is totally valid.
Your reasons and goals don’t have to be profound. You do have to be honest with yourself.
Whether it’s the idea of inspiring other people, finding your dream job, or living an independent life as a digital nomad while making passive income from your blog, keep the image in your head. You’ll need it as a source of inspiration soon enough.
4 – Research the hell out of, well, everything
Fear often arises purely because the thing you’re scared of is unknown.
To battle that fear, get to know the business of blogging.
Reading about the experience of another blogger and their initial doubts will soothe that fear. Reading about what they did righteven more so.
Most bloggers are pretty open about how they worked their way up and the strategies they used. There’s more than one way to becoming a successful blogger. And you should read about all of them before deciding on which one to follow.
When you’re scared, it’s often easier to take the first option you come across that sort of works for you, rather than to do a broad survey of available possibilities. You found this amazing blogger who’s shared their secret to success? Great! You’ll do just the same.
Still, whether it’s hosting providers, website builders, SEO strategies, legal matters, ways to monetize your blog, or digital marketing choices – it always pays off to compare and contrast before you choose what’s right for you.
Everyone has different personal strengths and weaknesses.
Everyone has different financial and social situations.
A mom with two kids to take care of won’t be able to follow the digital nomad template of “save up, fly to Bali where it’s cheap and start your blogging business there” of getting into the blogging life. Someone struggling with shyness might not want to monetize their blog by creating a series of online course videos.
Starting your own blog is a unique opportunity to play to your strengths and take your personal situation into account.
Also: The more you read, the more you’ll see that most bloggers agree on some basic points that you need to keep in mind when starting your blog. Those are the only essential ones.
It may take you a few weeks to do your research, to compare all the options, to look into the reports by seasoned bloggers. But in the end, research always pays off. It helps you avoid mistakes that would set you back and wasting months or even years on something that doesn’t work for you.
5 – Make a plan, set realistic goals – and stick to them
Once you’ve set down everything you need to do to start your blog, it can seem overwhelming. There are a thousand things to do and think of. There’s no way you can get it all done. Right?
At this point it helps to get explicit.
No, you don’t need to start spouting curses (though that is certainly part of the process at one point or another).
You need to set an explicit timeframe, and achievable goals. And then follow the plan you have outlined (and that’s the harder part).
First, you need to know how much time you can dedicate to blogging. And between work, family and other social commitments, most people don’t have much of it to spare. So, you’ll usually need to cut back on something else. Netflix marathons on the couch? Will have to go for a while. Going out with friends on weekend nights? Probably too.
Many people find that the only way to realistically start a serious blogand maintain a semblance of a social life at the same time is to start getting up earlier. Others are most productive in the dead of the night. You need to know when you can have productive time in your day and save that time for blogging.
And that’s already the first point where you really need to keep hold of your motivation, of your why.
Once you’ve slotted blogging time into your day, the next step is to set realistic goals.
It’s important to keep things manageable at first. Otherwise you’ll set yourself up for disappointment.
Many people who are thinking about taking up blogging are bursting with inspiration and creativity and can think about a hundred topics that they could blog about.
Multitasking is often praised as a virtue, but when it comes to blogging, focusing on one thing at a time is often difficult enough. Choose the topic that you either find most interesting, or, if your goal is to make money from your blog, that your research has shown to be most profitable.
And stick to that.
With regular blogging times reserved and your goals set, you next have to figure out a schedule that helps you reach those goals.
Again, the key is to keep it realistic and to split chunks of work up into manageable pieces. Finding a hosting provider or thinking of a domain name, making a list of your first ten blog post ideas, or figuring out the design of your main page – achieving
6 – Manage your expectations
Blogging success takes time. That means that your fears of failure most likely won’t be assuaged quickly.
No matter what some ads will tell you, this isn’t a get-rich-quick kind of gig.
The hard part is that you need to invest a lot of time and energy to create content that adds value for your readers before your blog can gain momentum. That means building a content basis before you launch your blog. And sticking to a regular posting schedule, especially during the first few months until you gather an audience.
If your expectations are to have a four-figure monthly passive income from blogging within half a year, you’re likely going to be disappointed.
And disappointment can lead people to abandoning their goals.
In this aspect, as in so many others, it’s always a good idea to look at the experiences of others to gain an idea of the time it took them to become successful.
These days, it takes about 3-6 months for new sites to gain some traction in search engines, even if you consistently produce high-quality content and work on SEO. After that, it depends on how much value you offer your audience and how much effort you put into monetizing your blog.
Conclusion – Just go for it!
There is not much more you can do to battle your blogging fears.
Building on the experiences of others and knowing you are not alone in your doubts is encouraging. Others have done it – so can you.
Doing your research, making a realistic plan and sticking to it gives you the knowledge and the drive you need to succeed.
The most important thing, however, is to start doing. Research, planning, and scheming is all good and well. But there is such a thing as too much preparation, and it is never possible to learn everything you need – or think you need – to know in advance.
But once you’ve taken the first steps, and your blog domain is set up, the layout decided and the first few blogposts drafted, it gets so much easier.
Knowing that you’re working towards your goals, not just waiting and hoping and dreaming, acts as a Patronus in its own right.