Lifestyle

4 Things I Wish I Knew Before I Started My Blog, and 5 Things I’m Glad I Did

This post may contain affiliate links and we may earn compensation when you click on the links at no additional cost to you.

The beginning of the year is always a time of reflection for me. I look back and see where I can make positive changes for us personally and professionally and then I create a plan to implement those changes. I always get excited when I see opportunities to be and do better, so this is a really fun activity. 

This year as I was doing this, I started thinking way back to the beginning of my blog. There were definitely things that I wish I had done differently. The good news is that although it would have been great to do these right from the beginning, because I didn't, I can now share these tips with you so that you can immediately benefit.

Here is what I wish I had known:

 

To start my blog on the right platform from the beginning.

When I started blogging I already had a Yahoo list that I would use to send out a blog post in an email. Then my readers would respond back. It was great for creating that sense of community but inconvenient for everyone to have to get a reply all email, especially with the number of members and emails that were being sent. It was insane to keep up!

Pretty soon I moved to a website builder to host my blog. That was good at first because it was so basic. I just typed in words and it showed on a website. The problem was that I couldn't do anything other than that and my readers had a very hard time commenting. I moved very quickly to a free Blogger account. I liked this one much better until I saw that Blogger had randomly deleted fellow bloggers accounts and created limitations for what you could post and how you could monetize.

Finally, I decided to move my blog to a self-hosted WordPress blog. This was like a night and day difference! I bought a book called WordPress for Dummies and spent some time learning everything I could about WordPress and everything I could do with it. Since I now completely owned my site, I no longer had to worry about what I wanted to post, how I wanted to monetize and about my site being suddenly deleted.  These days there are so many themes for WordPress that the sky is the limit and WordPress is even easier to use. I also lost readers and momentum every single time I moved my blog. If I could go back in time, I would have immediately gone straight to a self-hosted WordPress blog.

Click here to learn how to start your own blog.

To invest in my email list and never get lazy about it.

I can't even remember every time I started an email list and then abandoned it and then started a new one. I think I've also tried all of the different services that are available. The first time I did an automatic email that went to my readers who signed up and then I even abandoned that. I switched to just an RSS feed, but I lost all the contacts at some point. I started back up again and hired someone to send out and create my email newsletter, but I never advertised or created any sort of bonus for readers to join my list.  It was not only hard to find for them to sign up, but there was no incentive for them to do so. I was a mess when it came to email lists. I share this often in our Facebook group that one of my biggest regrets was not creating and nurturing an email list from the beginning. After all the algorithm changes on social media and readers not seeing everything you post there, having a way to deliver my content directly to them is a must. I was building my traffic sources on platforms I didn't own and control, and that is a big mistake.

If I could go back in time, I would have started my email list on the first day that I started my blog and created a plan around getting my readers to sign up and get my content.

Click here to learn how to start your own email list.

To not be a perfectionist.

Over the years I have had so many ideas for my blog and 90% of them I was too scared, worried, or let my perfectionist personality get in the way of implementing them. A lot of these ideas could have catapulted my blog to even greater levels even sooner. I know a lot of us deal with worrying about what others will think or aren't 100% sure if we love our blog name and we let this fear stop us from moving forward. There will always be naysayers, even people we love and respect won't support us always and that is okay. We need to follow our own path.

When I chose to change my blog name from Full Price? Never! to It's a Lovely Life! I wasn't 100% sold on the name. I wasn't sure if I really even liked it, but I gave myself an hour to make the decision and when I couldn't think of anything better I went with it. I am SOOOO glad I did and I absolutely LOVE the name now.

Looking back, I wish I had just gone for it on all of my ideas. I wish I had given myself an hour to choose my blog name at the start and not wasted so much time that I could have used building up my blog and starting my dream job!

To be as early of an adopter as possible.

I was late to the party with Instagram and didn't get that initial jump in a following as others did that started right away. I now join every new network and am much more willing to be open to new ideas.

Looking back, I wish I had just joined new networks and then made a plan for each one to build my following there with the time I had available instead of just thinking I didn't have time to add more social channels to my plan. Even if you don't use or have interest in a platform, I highly recommend you join and learn as you can about it and create a plan to use it to your advantage.

I'm glad I knew:

To think of it as a business from the start.

It's okay to start your blog as a passion project but always remember the potential and take actions that a business owner would make. This means keeping track of expenses, creating plans for the growth of your blog, and planning for the future of your blog.

To invest my time and money to grow my blog business.

When I started my blog we didn't have the opportunities we have now as far as making money goes, but I knew in my heart that the opportunities would be coming and that I had to be ready for them. Starting a blog is not for those looking for a get rich quick scheme. It takes time, a solid plan and determination to have a solid blogging business. But anyone can do it. There are very few businesses that you can start for such a small investment and you really only need a way to connect to the internet and a phone with a camera as your business equipment.

I always recognized that the time I put into my blogging business would equal the return I get. I never forget this and always remember how far I have come. The thing is, over the years I have put in more time than most people spend on two full-time jobs, but it never felt like I was working. I have loved every moment because I am creating my own future, doing something I love that lets me not only make an amazing income, but I get to be there for my friends and family.

To not be afraid of change and to be willing to change along with the blog space and economy.

I have a confession. I used to hate change. I was the kid at the end of the school year who was excited about summer break and to play with my friends all summer long, but who was also sick to her stomach because my normal routine was going to change for the summer. The last day of school I was always a shade of pale green. 

Thankfully around the end of high-school, I had a lot of changes and began to see them as opportunities instead. That doesn't mean I don't have to remind myself often that change is good, but I feel the excitement around changes more than I am nervous about them.

With any business, you need to be flexible and quick to adapt to changes. When the economy was low I rebranded from No Excuse Budget to Full Price? Never! because I saw that my readers wanted amazing products and experiences, but didn't want to pay full price. When the economy started to rebound, It's a Lovely Life! was a better fit for my audience, so I rebranded again. Being able and willing to adapt has been a big part of my blogging success.

To never stop learning. 

I consider myself an expert in blogging. I don't throw that title around casually either, but I have earned a place in the expert field from the years and years of actively doing it. I, however, have always taken a backseat from proclaiming this out loud because I also consider myself a blogging student because I know that to succeed in life you have to never stop learning. The only difference between me and other students is that my lessons are first hand. I actively try to evolve and learn from my established blog so that I can share these lessons with others. I also always keep my mind, eyes, and ears open to what is happening in the blogging and online business world and the economy as a whole.

I have purchased unknown numbers of courses over the years, listened to thousands of hours of podcasts, watched years of videos, attended countless conferences and been hired and invited to speak at numbers of events. I plan to never stop learning.

To never give up.

Rome wasn't built in a day and neither was my blogging business. I can't tell you how many people have told me I was wasting my time over the years. When I first started my blogging business I used my own money that I had put away from clipping coupons to pay for my hosting and other business needs. I actually found couponing thrilling and although we had money we could have used to start my blog, I wanted to be able to say that I was investing in me and that if something means enough to you, you will find a way to do it.

You guys, I did it! I didn't give up. I hustled and dreamed and I did it. If you are thinking of starting your own blog, today is the day. Find a way. If you have a blog and you are looking for direction, look no further than yourself. It is in each and every one of us.

Now go out there and do it!

Heather
the authorHeather
Heather Delaney Reese is a Lifestyle and Family Travel Writer currently on the road with her family 150 days a year, sharing exceptional family memory making moments and life's everyday fun times. She is a big proponent of encouraging others to join her journey and become a professional blogger so that they too can make money at home and spend more time with their families.

48 Comments

  • Sooooo encouraging! What strikes the loudest chord with me is your comments about getting past your fears, worries, hesitations…all the small baggage that slowed you down when you let it take up your blogging and learning time. I’m still struggling hard with the worries and fears, and conquer a few more every day. Thank you and your family for all that you share with us.

    • Hi Tami,

      I like the way you called it “small baggage”. That is so true, small baggage that takes up way to much space in our minds. Push through it all and focus on the goal!

  • Love this Heather! I’m starting my blog over, after taking your first course, I’ve had several detours, but I’m starting again! Thank you for sharing all of your knowledge. I’m so glad to have found you both!

  • Hi Heather!
    Thank you so mich for sharing these ideas. I really needed this article today. I have only just launched my blog and posted one article because of the perfectionist attitude. I have so many lists of ideas but it’s so hard to put then down and really feel confident enough in my writing to go ahead and post them. Ugh! I am still researching email lists and need to have a plan ASAP so I can build a following. Any suggestions for newbies looking for free or cheap email options?

  • Great post Heather! I’ve been following It’s a Lovely Life for a little while now and I love your story and posts.

    I especially liked the – not being a perfectionist piece because I find that being a huge sticking point when it comes to my blog/instagram etc.

    Never give up is a big one too because I know that crosses my mind and I’m sure many other peoples minds as they go through this blogging/social media journey.

    Keep up the great work!

    Darren & Lindsay Hart
    Instagram @everydayharts

    • Thanks, Darren! Perfectionism has its place in the world, but not in blogging per se. I can look back at a few times when I actually let the thought of quitting cross my mind for just a couple seconds, but luckily I just had a gut feeling it would all work out, even if I didn’t know how or have all the answers. Don’t give up!

  • Thanks for transparency in sharing the pros and cons of starting your blog business. I understand why you’ve been successful. Your experience inspires others to dare to do it too.

  • Hi Heather! Thank you for sharing. I’ve signed up for your courses but I’m wondering your thoughts about: I have my domain, platform, etc and I’m about to start fresh. I have some ideas for content but I don’t have a following of course since I haven’t even started. Some of my content is really good stuff, tried and true oral stories I’m just putting to paper but without a following no one wi see. Should I start with the “okay” stuff or the really good stuff first?

    • Hi Kerry,

      I would start with the really good stuff and then work on turning the okay stuff into really good stuff too! You always want to focus on producing the best content for your readers as you possibly can!

  • I never realized how much perfectionism can lead to paralyzing fear, until I started building my blog! I’ve been working on it, very slowly, but steadily! Your course is helping me tons!

  • Hi Heather! Great post. Perfectionism is something I finally learned to let go of. That and the fear of making mistakes. Your course is amazing and I’ve learned so much. I launched my blog last night. It still needs formatting and other tweaks. You and Pete have inspired me to finally go for a dream I’ve had for years. Thank you!

    • Hi Cyndi! Thank you so much for sharing this. It really makes both Pete and I very happy to hear. I love how you are following your dreams and that you are not letting anything stop you from reaching them!

  • This was so inspiring. Thank you! I to am using the couponing way to earn the money to start. It is my own money and I can do what I want with it. My blog is just on FB. And I have an Instagram account, which I am not sure what to so with. I am reading this posts and will get involved as soon as I have the money. Thank you again!

  • I took your course the second time you offered it. I let life and distractions throw me off course. After reading this, I am inspired to try it again.

    Thank you Heather!!

    • Hi Krista!

      I’m so glad to hear you are jumping back in. It is totally okay to take a break as needed, but I’m so happy you are ready to get back to blogging!

  • HI Heather!
    Thank you for all your support. Pete & your family are truly inspiring to read and watch grow. You guys have pulled me through many obstacles with your videos. I’m making dinner and watching your videos in the background and my kids are groaning “not again mom!” It takes bravery to get up and do something that you don’t really understand. There are so many little things that keep dragging you down and making you feel like you just can’t take one more step, spend one more dime or read one more “For Dummies” e-book but then I get an email or some kind of communication from you and I feel like I can and I WILL take another step. Thank you guys so much !!!

    • Hi Lisa! Oh my, I love how the kids said that. Ha! So funny… but also cool because they will look back and see how you put in the work and it paid off. I’m so happy that our email was delivered to you at just the right time! Keep going- you’ve got this!

  • Thank you for your encouraging words. I have been writing content for two years but too afraid to put it on a blog. 💝Kim Adkins

  • Hi Heather,
    I just came across you & love this article. This has come at a time where I have been toying with the idea of blogging but am not sure what I want to blog about our even how to go about it.
    Thank you for your insight into blogging, this has been so helpful.

  • Thank you so much for this blog post. I really needed to read the perfectionist section. I struggle daily with not writing because I am so worried about it being not good enough. I have a list of blog posts to write when the self doubt hit. May I ask how long you have been blogging?

    • Hi Kate! I totally get that. It has taken me some time to get past it. For now, just write. Don’t over think it. When those creative juices start flowing, start typing!

  • This is a wonderful list of advice! I’ve been keeping up with my few social media accounts, but you’ve challenged and inspired me to stretch out into other platforms as well. Pinterest has been on my list for a few years… Here I go! Thank you!

  • Heather,
    I started a blog about 5 years ago. I think I posted 4 times, and it was a MAJOR failure. I didn’t have a plan; essentially it was an online journal. Soon after starting, I got logged out and couldn’t remember my password. Which is probably a good thing. Fast forward to now… I’m not convinced that I want to blog. But not because I wouldn’t have fun and love it. It’s all of that little stuff. Worrying that I won’t have time for. Fearing that I won’t be interesting enough. Wondering if I need to narrow my niche more. Anyways, thanks for your lessons and encouragement! Taking it to heart and giving it a whirl!
    Thanks!

    • Hi Ryan,

      Thanks for sharing. I think it is really common to get hung up on the little things. This time create a plan and chip away at everything you need to do. Don’t over think it 😉

  • Heather,
    You say to have a plan. I lost my job about 4 months ago and would simply love to replace my income. I need a job I can do remotely. I’m not very business-oriented, so would my hope to replace my income be considered “a plan”?? Or do I need something more concrete?

    • Hi Sarah,

      Good question! You have the start and the ending… a plan is what goes in-between. It will detail how you are going to get to your “end” of replacing your income. You need to write out what steps you are going to take to replace your income and then start checking them off!

  • Hi Heather!

    Thank you for sharing your insights. I have been kicking around the idea of starting a blog to accompany my current job I am able to do from home. I keep second guessing myself and worry that it will be just like everyone else. How do you get past that?

    • Hi Della,

      I think the best advice is to just keep pushing through any worries, especially this one. There is nobody else that is just like you. Even if you wrote the same exact things as someone else, they would be unique and different because they would be coming from you and your life experiences. Plus there is always room at the top!

  • Heather,

    My mother told me of you and your blog just today. I’m so glad I stumbled on this post! Blogging can get lonely and challenging but this is just wanted I needed to read today. Thank you so much for your encouragement and honesty.

  • Heather, I am so pleased I found you guys! I am just starting out, and I cannot WAIT to keep going. I have been a SAHM for 3 years and have been feeling a bit lost, but in just a week of blogging I am feeling energized and with purpose outside of my role as Mom. I’m also stoked because my family and I live in San Diego, so I feel even more like I could follow in your footsteps! Thank you, thank you!

    -Christina Furnival, “Real Life Mama”

Leave a Reply