Yesterday, my blog officially hit 500 RSS subscribers! It has been almost 7 months since I started blogging. I have learned a lot of new things over the past few months, months which have changed my life. Before I share with you what I have learned, I want to thank my readers and rant (just a little bit).
Thank You To Everyone!
First of all, thank you to everyone who has been a subscriber to my blog.
To those of my readers who are new bloggers: You probably know, blogging is not easy at first, but if you stick with it and work to become successful at it, it has the potential to change your life.
Yes, I said change your life. I am not joking when I say blogging has changed my life. The knowledge that I have gained, the connections that have been forged, and the ventures that have emerged have all been a direct result of consistent blogging over the past 7 months. Life is better than ever and a huge portion of that is due directly to my blog and my readers.
Make Money Online?
Those three words above have become synonymous with the fairytale of blogging for riches. Everyone wants to know how much money they can make from blogging. Unless you have been blogging for several years (like John Chow, Darren Rowse), the answer is “not much.” I propose another question – instead of “How much money can you make from blogging?,” ask yourself, “How many long-term, loyal, and diverse relationships can you establish through blogging?” The answer: A lot. Blogging has incredible potential to unite like-minded individuals. That is the true power of blogging.
In other words, I would rather sacrifice short-term profits in exchange for long-term trust, credibility, and authority from my readers (and possibly, from future clients and business partners).
I started my blog about the same time I quit my job at the Apple Store. I am not a professional blogger and I didn’t quit my job to become one, but blogging is definitely something that has taken up a lot of my time since I quit. Through blogging, I have increased my business, expanded my contacts, and learned new skills that will serve me for the rest of my life. Because of the positive effects it has had on my life, it is something that I won’t be giving up on any time soon.
Even if I became a millionaire tomorrow, I would still blog! There are just too many personal and professional benefits – plain and simple!
Here are a few things I have learned after seven months and 500 RSS subscribers…
- Becoming self-employed was the best decision I ever made.
Quitting my day job at Apple was risky, but damn worth it! In all honestly, the experience of becoming self-employed over the past several months leaves me feeling like I have been unplugged from The Matrix. Here are five steps I took towards self-employment. Hint: the sooner you start planning, the sooner you can quit.
- Appreciate your readers.
If you are a new blogger, show your readers appreciation as soon as possible and on a regular basis. This will build loyalty early on, which is something that is harder to do if you are a new blogger.
- Getting on Digg is completely overrated.
Crashing your server, non-targeted traffic, and rude commentators. Not my cup of coffee. There are much better ways to generate targeted, high quality and sticky traffic.
- Writing reviews of other bloggers serves as a great platform to develop relationships.
I wrote a review for Stuart from EarnersBlog.com back in February. The review was for a contest he was holding. To make a long story short, I won the contest, and since then, Stuart and I have become good buddies. He inspired me to get into some of my best moneymaking schemes.
- Networking with other bloggers ASAP is KEY to success.
In my first week of blogging, I met David Wilkinson from TechZi and Vinay and Anthony from MadWhips. All of those guys have become good friends over the past seven months. We have already collaborated on a project and we are planning several more for the future.
- Engage and measure the feedback from your readers.
Using a poll is a great way to encourage reader participation and at the same time, use it to collect feedback and improve your blog.
- Share your passions.
If you have other passions or hobbies, write about how others can learn to do what you do. I wrote a long, two-part post on my web development process from start to finish.
- Embrace the fundamentals of SEO.
If you are looking to become a successful blogger, you must learn at least the basics of SEO.
- There are many benefits to becoming a business. You should incorporate as soon as possible.
- Holding a blog contest is a great way to increase traffic.
I gave away $50 in May for a contest celebrating my 1000th comment. The contest produced a solid boost in traffic.
- Define the focus and purpose of your blog ASAP. Stick to 2-3 topics maximum. If you don’t define the focus of your blog, readers may not know what they are in for. In May, I slightly changed the focus of my blog and saw my readership increase dramatically.
- If you can do something for three months, you can do it as long as you want.
Once you hit the 3-month mark in blogging, it’s kind of smooth sailing. Unfortunately, 99% of blogs started don’t last beyond 3 months.
- At some point or another, every blogger feels the pressures of trying to blog consistently.
Blogging consistently can be very difficult at times, especially while we have other things going on in our lives. Sometimes, we may feel like we are running out of ideas for topics to write about. I wrote about several reasons we don’t blog consistently and it helped me better understand what it takes to continually produce original and interesting content.
- Pay as much attention to the visual design of your blog as the content. By paying attention to the layout of our blogs, we are effectively changing how our blogs subconsciously communicate to our readers. Here are five ways to make your posts more readable…
- Don’t try to monetize your blog right away. Monetize your blog when you achieve a PageRank 4 or average 500 pageviews per day. The question then becomes, what are the best ways to monetize a blog? My favorite and only way to monetize a blog is through private advertising, such as text links and banners. Private ads are non-obtrusive, blend in nicely with the site, and eliminates the worries of click-fraud. Once you have achieved a PR4, here is how to sell your blog’s advertising…
- Make sure that when you monetize your blog, you do it with a thoughtfully conceived plan.
There is a fine line between monetizing your blog and annoying readers with large Adsense blocks. Adsense is overrated for most blogs and does not earn enough money for new bloggers to justify putting it on their blogs. Is a few dollars a day worth scaring off XX number of readers? If you are truly serious about blogging and earning money online long-term, then you must establish a seriously large readership before you ever think about making a dime off of them. That reasoning right there inspired me to say goodbye to CPC advertising.
- Know which of your blog posts were the most popular ones.
Sometimes you can use this information and release a follow-up post that is just as popular, if not more, than the original post. I released a follow-up to my “5 Tips To Make Your Posts More Readable” post and it received a boat load of traffic!
- Get rid of your blog’s stock header image ASAP.
As I mentioned earlier, taking critical design elements of your blog into careful consideration can play a tremendous role when it comes to increasing repeat visitors. Your header image is one of the first elements people notice when visiting your blog. What does your header image say about you? Doesn’t it make sense to trash the stock photo and develop a unique visual representation of your brand?
- Blogging is not a fad.
There are a hugely beneficial networking opportunities available to anyone who is willing to put themselves out there through blogging. Unfortunately, most people’s conception of a blog is completely wrong. Even when I first started blogging, I had no idea about its powers and uses. I attempted to dissect my new understanding of what a blog is through this article – Define: Blog.
- Learn which types of posts produce the most response.
After you have been blogging for a few months, it becomes clear what kinds of posts generate traffic and which don’t. Once a relatively consistent readership is in place, it is interesting to see how much traffic, comments, and linkbacks particular posts receive.
- Read as many books as possible.
I have never been a big book reader, but several books I have read lately have changed my perspective on business and marketing. Reading lots of books and ebooks is key when trying to become successful online. One book is “The New Rules of Marketing and PR” by David Meerman Scott. I wrote a post recently about establishing authority that referenced his book and he ended up commenting on my blog! How cools is that?
- Stand out from the crowd.
Video podcasting is a great way to differentiate yourself in the blogosphere. Be a “purple cow,” as Seth Godin says. Josh and I recently tried our first video podcast, and even though it didn’t come out perfect, it was a risk worth taking as it got a lot of good feedback and new traffic to our blogs.
- Be patient when trying to grow your blog.
It took me 3 months to grow my RSS subscribers to 100, but only 1 month to hit 200, 2 weeks to hit 300, 3 weeks to hit 400, and 4 weeks to hit 500. It is always fun to write a post in which you analyze statistics and provide explanation. Those kind of posts usually result in great linkbait.
This is the longest post I have ever written. Trying to summarize seven months of knowledge is more difficult that it would seem. I would classify my first 5-6 months of blogging as an ENORMOUS learning curve. Learning curves are a vital part of everyone’s growth. In the first six months of your blog, I encourage you to imagine your brain is a sponge and it is soaking up as much knowledge as possible.
Since I quit my day job at Apple, I have learned so much about business, blogging and marketing, I feel like I could easily write a book. Hey, maybe I will.
Thanks again, everyone! Here’s to the next 500!