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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!