How time flies; but, as it’s commonly said, when you are doing what you truly love, you barely notice the time!
It was difficult for me to come to terms with the fact that it’s been 4 years since I first installed my first #blog. Yes, 4 good and eventful years!
Over this period I’ve setup different blogs, tried my hands in different aspects of making money #blogging and of course have learned a whole lot of things.
Before I became a #blogger I was an affiliate marketer doing mainly article (bum) #marketing. Looking back, I discovered that there is so much I’ve learned as a blogger than when I was an affiliate marketer.
In this post I want to share with you some of the #lessons I’ve learned over these 4 years and also offer a few tips which I hope will be of help to you this 2013!
So, without wasting much of your time (this post is well over 1500 words!), let’s begin.
#1. Stop Looking For The Next Big Thing
Now, I have to put this at the top of the list because I know that now that the year is still fresh, many #bloggers would be asking, “What is the next thing I should do?”
However, if you are asking that question only because you are seeking for the next tactic or strategy you want to try out in your present business, then my advice is, please DON’T!
Instead of looking for the next thing, take a second look at what you are already doing and do more of what worked for you in 2012. Concentrate your effort on that strategy (ies) until you make good sense of it. The more you do it the more success you will achieve.
2. Build Your Own Strategy
This is a build up from 1 above.
You must understand that it is not a must that because it worked for blogger A then it will work for you. During the 12 Days of Christmas Inspiration series I asked the question, “Why are you here?”
It is important you answer this question.
Why are you into blogging?
What is your vision and mission?
It’s only when you know the WHY that you can design a roadmap (plan) that answers the HOW TO. And you need your own strategy to do this. Something peculiar to you. Built on your experiences, skills and knowledge but firmly rooted on the basics of business success.
To understand what I’m talking about, go out there and read those internet marketing sales letters. Do you notice how the person tells a story of how they struggled for years without any success until they surprisingly hit on that super duper strategy that no one else has ever used?
Do you now see that what he wants to sell to you is really his strategy? Now, for sure you can make money with that but it is his strategy all the same! And, remember, you are not the only one buying in to that strategy. But doing so means creating hundreds, if not thousands, of competitors for yourself from day one!
But building your own strategy will save you from that.
3. Diversify – Throw Your Net Really Wide!
I must say that within these 4 years the blogosphere has changed tremendously. Like I have mentioned, I was into article marketing before venturing into blogging. My switch over was partly because of the changes introduced then by some of the article directories like ezinearticles.com and partly because of the success stories of probloggers like Yaro Sarak, John Chow, etc.
The earnings reported then by these probloggers were really enticing. But a careful look around the blogosphere right now will convince you that posting such income figures from just one blog is a herculean task.
Today sponsored posts and blog advertising are not what they used to be. Google has tightened the noose on link buying; blog readers have become more educated and can sense a sponsored review from a mile away and they have become so banner blind that your affiliate banners are nothing but space eaters!
And so, if you are still dreaming of making enough money from that one blog to travel the world like Yaro Sarak did some time ago, then you’re right on track because you’re DREAMING!
Year 2013 should be your year of diversification. Use your skills as a blogger to start another business. Throw your net wide this year 2013!
When I was into internet marketing, my popular saying was, “Do not compete; Create!” Now, as a blogger I have changed that to, “Do not compete; Collaborate!”
As a blogger you should go beyond being creative and collaborate with other bloggers in your niche. Never allow the thought of competition cross your mind. Find ways to join forces with other bloggers if you truly want to move up the success ladder as a blogger.
I think this is the concept of online tribes, groups and communities as we are seeing today on the #social media sites. Go out there and find a community or tribe that will support you in your endeavors.
5. Beware On Whose Land Your Storefront Is Built!
Running an online business demands your buying a domain name and a webhosting service. This is just like you renting a piece of land to build your store front – your blog/site!
Now, I have discovered that your webhost is as important as your business itself. Don’t just go out there and pick any webhosting company.
Within these 4years of blogging, I’ve changed webhosts 6 times. Yes, you read that right – six (6) good times! Now, it will interest you to know that of these 6 times, it was only once that I voluntarily changed webhosts.
Now beyond that, you must beware of webhosts that promises unlimited this, unlimited that. Don’t be taken in with the promises of unlimited space and bandwidth. Experience has thought me to know that the real thing is memory usage. Unfortunately, none of the webhosting companies ever show that on their salespages and even when you ask, they will never tell you!
Your way out?
Ask for recommendations. If you look around you will discover that many bloggers recommend Hostgator . Another used by most top bloggers in the market right now is OutstandingSETUP – a wordpress dedicated webhost. Get the opinion of a friend and you will never regret down the road.
6. Build A List; And Do It Now!
When I started blogging there was the general belief that a blog should make do with RSS subscriptions. In fact, then many bloggers regarded email marketing as a dead strategy. Today we can agree that rather than die, email marketing is becoming the next big thing.
Take a look at your favorite blogs right now and you will discover that every one of them have a newsletter signup form beside the RSS subscription. And so? If you have not started a list, now is the time. If your aim is to build a business with your blog, then building a list is something you must do right away.
7. Be A Helper And Not A Seller
Over the past 4 years I have witnessed a whole lot of changes online. Online social media have become more popular with many more entrants. #SEO has seen a major evolution with Google at the wheels!
These changes are not without any effect on blogging. To make an impact right now as a blogger you need more than just good content. You need valuable content; content that is helpful and that gives the readers just what they want. Providing such valuable content demands knowing your target audience, their needs, pains and pressing questions.
You have really been good in keeping up with your publishing schedule doling out content every day. Now make that content truly valuable. Instead of quantity, because you want to keep up with a schedule, turn your blog into a platform that is truly helpful by providing nothing but valuable content.
Recommended: Content Marketing: 2013, the Year of the Helpers!
8. Ignore SEO Optimization To Your Own Peril
Allowed, many bloggers would disagree with this. But I still maintain that SEO is not dead! Don’t be deceived, Google’s various updates in 2012 were not aimed at discouraging you from optimizing your content. Google has actually made it easier for all of us to produce content that would rank high on the search engines. As a blogger you should take advantage of the Panda, Penguin and other updates introduced in 2012.
It will interest you to know that a recent marketing research by ExactTarget put SEO and email marketing among the top marketing strategies for 2013. The industry leaders know better!
9. Outsource Where Necessary
When you are just starting out you may want to work on every aspect of your blogging business yourself. However, as your blogging activities increases, outsourcing should be your best option. This is more important if you want to diversify as I mentioned earlier.
The good thing is that there are different freelancing services out there. You can post a projects for any service you desire and leverage your time and resources and your blogging business will be a thing of joy.
10. Sell Your Skills
This is another big lesson I have learned over these 4 years. Like many bloggers, I started blogging with the mind of making money through selling ads and promoting affiliate products. But as you do know, that market is not what it used to be a few years ago. If you want to make money blogging through selling ads and promoting affiliate products, then you have the big players to contend with!
A better way to make your dream a reality is using your blog as a platform to promote yourself and sell your skills. Whatever that skill is, present your expertise on your blog. Use it as a platform and then promote yourself to the big time companies who are looking for such services. Here’s an example of a site promoting my SEO content writing service.
11. Hone Your Managerial Skills
Head over to LinkedIn and take a look at some of the profiles of many bloggers. Did you notice that many bloggers have titles such as: CEO, COO, Founder/ President, etc on their profiles? This only shows that many bloggers regard themselves as business entrepreneurs. But it goes beyond appending some title to your name. If you must be a successful business manager then you need the skills and knowledge required to run a business.
As the chief executive in charge of all operations you cannot rely simply on some title. You must be ready to show proof. If you don’t have the necessary business training in these areas nothing stops you from learning it. If possible go for a part time course to improve your managerial skills. You need it for the sake of your business growth.
12. Invest In Your Business – Get The Right Tools
Can you imagine a craftsman or woman who doesn’t have the tools of his trade? You too cannot hope for real success if you are not ready to invest in getting the right tools for your blogging business. Research the market to understand what tools others in your target market are using and budget part of your earnings to be reinvested in these tools.
Run your blog as a business and not as a hobby.
13. Look Back In Order To Move Forward!
There is the saying that if you are running a race and you are constantly looking behind you, you cannot make any progress. That is indeed true. But as a blogger aiming to make money online, taking time to reflect on your operations will give you the opportunity to make good decisions and take strategic steps that will move you forward with much ease. These times of reflection should be decided by you. It could be weekly, monthly, quarterly or even yearly.
Your turn: The above are some of the lessons I’ve learned over 4 years as a blogger. How long have you been blogging? What lessons have you learned? Please share with us in your comment below.