Here are a few lessons I have learned from writing 200 blog posts over the past year that might be helpful for aspiring bloggers.
A few words of caution…
1. If you start a blog for any reason other than absolutely loving the topic you’re blogging about, you’ll burn out within a year. If you start blogging because you think it’s a great way to earn some extra income, think again. Earning money takes serious time and dedication (see #3 below). If you blog because you want page views and media attention, you’ll most likely be disappointed (see #2 below). The only way to create a blog that you’ll feel motivated to spend hours on with very little recognition is if you’re incredibly passionate about the topic you’re writing about. If you can derive intrinsic satisfaction from blogging, you can sustain a blog for many years without burning out.
2. Your blog will be a ghost town for the first three months. Just get over it. When you first start out, it’s incredibly hard to gain any traction, reel in dedicated readers, and build any type of audience. It takes time to gain the trust and respect needed to keep people coming back to your site. For the first three months, ignore your page views, number of comments, social media following, and every other metric. Just produce content. Focus on becoming a better writer, honing your craft, finding your voice, and making your site layout user-friendly. This is the bread and butter of blogging.
3. Making money from blogging takes far more time and effort than you think. To anyone out there looking to start earning side-income from a blog, I say go for it. But recognize that it will take at least a year (and often much longer for most) until you start seeing any type of meaningful income from blogging.
In my first year of blogging I earned a grand total of $37.50. I spent roughly 50 hours per month working on the blog, which equates to 600 hours of total effort in my first year. This means I earned about 6 cents an hour from blogging during my first year. Only in the past few months have I started earning hundreds of dollars each month from this site, which drives home the point: blogging is a horrible source of extra income if you need money fast. If you do want to earn money from blogging, make sure you have a multi-year time horizon.
4. Most bloggers earning a full-time living from their blog have been producing content for at least three years. This is something I didn’t understand until I actually started my own blog. The amount of traffic required to even generate a few bucks from advertising is considerably higher than I thought. Sure, it’s possible to make a few hundred bucks from blogging (like I currently do) each month, but to generate enough income to walk away from your day job to blog full-time takes years.
If I haven’t scared you off, here’s some helpful tactics and habits…
5. Blogging is easiest when you do it at the same time each day. I recently wrote about how I do all my writing / data visualizations / content producing in the morning before I head to work. Before I set up this daily routine, I would work on the blog at random times each day, often in an unfocused manner. This wasn’t efficient. I found that by working on my blog in the morning I could take advantage of all the fresh energy, ideas, and focus I had when I woke up. This helped me produce quality content far more often and grow my audience at a much faster pace.
As a side note, it helps that I’m a morning person. I know that I do my best work as soon as I wake up. But this doesn’t mean you have to force yourself to become a morning person. Maybe you do your best work mid-day or late in the evening. What’s important is that you’re able to identify when you do your best work and make it a priority to keep that time clear for blogging.
6. Don’t obsess over page views. Compulsively monitoring page views is a wonderful way to become depressed about blogging. Sure it’s fun to see a spike in traffic, but the subsequent drop in views is deflating. Seeing very few page views for weeks and weeks at a time can be discouraging enough to make you quit altogether. It almost made me quit. Instead, focus purely on your content. How can you make your articles more interesting, more concise, more intellectually stimulating for the reader? As the quality of your work improves, your page views will naturally increase over time.
The Real Joys of Blogging…
7. Receiving an email from a reader stating that your blog has positively impacted them in some way produces an unbelievable amount of joy. A personal email from a reader puts a bigger smile on my face than any amount of page views ever could. This is what blogging is all about: writing content that impacts the way people are thinking, behaving, and living their lives. Blogging is about making connections with readers. Once you receive that first “thank you for what you do” email, you’re hooked.
8. Blogging is a fantastic way to expand your social circle. The number of bloggers and readers I have been able to meet, interact with, and form friendships with over the past year has been mind-blowing. In particular, the personal finance community is packed with wonderful people, most of whom are just trying to share their thoughts and ideas on how to live a better life. Even if you never earn a dime from blogging, being able to connect with like-minded people who are equally passionate about your blog topic is an incredible feeling.
- The Ad Revenue Grid - August 6, 2021
- Attract Money by Creating Value for a Specific Audience - July 13, 2021
- The 5-Hour Workday - March 26, 2021
Full Disclosure: Nothing on this site should ever be considered to be advice, research or an invitation to buy or sell any securities, please see my Terms & Conditions page for a full disclaimer.
19 Replies to “200 Blog Posts Later: Some Tips I Have for Aspiring Bloggers”
This was exactly what I needed to read this morning. It’s only been two months since I started my blog, and I’ve already felt the pressure of comparing my blog stats to other new bloggers. I’m finding it particularly hard to stay true to my voice when I see other bloggers use more “successful” ways of generating traffic. Your blog is one of the few blogs I read consistently every day. Mostly because you have no-nonsense content and I feel that we have similar perspectives and enjoy some of the same authors (Ryan Holiday). Looking forward to continue reading your content 🙂
Thanks so much for all the kind words, Jen, I really appreciate that 🙂 It’s nice to know there’s another young person out there who is also an avid reader of Ryan Holiday! I particularly love his content on stoicism.
Something I found helpful was to literally turn off the “Stats” section on WordPress, that way I couldn’t even see my blog traffic. When you’re just getting started it can be really depressing to compare your blog stats to other bloggers. I used to do the same thing actually, but once I stopped monitoring my traffic I was able to focus more on the blog posts themselves and producing better content. With all that said, I have been keeping an eye on your blog over the past month or so and I really enjoy your voice in your posts. Being a lawyer and living in Toronto inevitably means you have a unique perspectives on money that not many people have (what it’s like being a lawyer, the housing prices in toronto, paying off law school debt, etc.). I’m looking forward to reading more of your future posts as well 🙂
Congrats on hitting 200 and thank you for the tips! We are 5 months in and they ring true so far… 🙂
Thanks so much, Mrs. Adventure Rich! You’re doing great for only blogging for 5 months, I pop my head into your blog quite frequently actually – keep up the great content 🙂
Nice one, Zach! And congrats on 200 posts. I’ve only got about 50 in a little over 6 months. At first I never paid attention to page views either, but once some traffic was coming, it got hard to stop checking every hour. I’ve gotten pretty good at avoiding it lately.
I’m glad to hear others have had similar thoughts. Sometimes I’ve questioned what I’m doing, but then you get that “thank you” note and it all goes away. As long as I get those notes I’ll keep going!
Also, speaking of social circles I’m still angry you did not offer to meet up for coffee when I went to your hometown. Don’t think I didn’t notice 😉
I think all bloggers are unsure of themselves during the first 6 months or so. It’s easy to think “Am I doing enough, is my blog good enough, do people even care what I’m saying”, etc. but your blog is one of the few in which I actually read every post you publish, so keep ’em coming!
And I saw on Twitter that you were coming to Cincy, but I didn’t know when!! You should have shot me an email when you were in town…come visit Cincy again soon and we’ll get coffee for sure 🙂
Dude, you are a machine! I was looking through your archive and its crazy how many posts you’ve gotten out there – and none of them are throwaway posts either.
It’s definitely a slow climb for blogging, so definitely not a side hustle for if you need money now. It’s really more like building a business – you’re going to be working for nothing for a while. Really, the hardest part is to just to keep doing it. If you can make it three years, that seems like the point that the opportunities seem to roll in.
Haha thanks, Kevin! I find that the more often I post, the easier it becomes to think of post ideas. And with more posts comes more traffic and more interactions with readers, more exposure, etc. It’s like a snowball rolling downhill that just grows larger over time. I do think 2.5 – 3 years is the sweet spot for potentially earning a full-time living from blogging. It seems like that’s how long it takes to build a reliable audience and real online presence.
Keep up the great work on your blog as well, man – I’m sure we’ll have more opportunities to collaborate in the future!
Another excellent post, Zach! And congrats on reaching 200 posts. I recently crossed over 200 posts too, but I think you’ve done it in far less time. I’ve been following your blog for a while now and I am not surprised at all by your recent success based on consistency and quality of your posts. Thanks for sharing what you’ve learned! I’m looking forward to watching the income you earn from blogging increase. Have a great week! 🙂
Thanks, Graham! And congrats to you as well on the 200 posts, that’s a major milestone. I appreciate all the kind words and I’ll keep sharing every detail of my journey as I continue on this net worth / blogging path 🙂
Great read. Congrats on the200 post milestone!
Thanks so much, Passive Canadian Income! I appreciate the kind words 🙂
Thanks, Zach. It is good to hear that everyone in the personal finance blogging world has had to do the whole journey before they reach some success. I am determined to never stop as it is my goal to become successful online.
I’ve been blogging since January and just keep plugging away at it. It hasn’t been a financial success, but in the last 30 days I have twice been featured on Rockstar Finance! I’ve also brought in $52.86 in affiliate income too. So things have hit a nice point that I am focused on carrying on. 😀
Earning affiliate income and being featured on Rockstar Finance are two notable achievements for sure. Keep chugging along and things will only continue to ramp up over time for you. I have found that blogging is a slow but enjoyable journey.
Thanks for the feedback and be sure to stay in touch 🙂
It’s an extraordinary piece of work for all online audiences. We need to try our best to share our lives. To tell you the truth, it’s not easy to update blogs regularly.
Thanks for the kind words, Tyler!
Thanks for being completely honest and not sugar coating it for the beginners. I’ve been blogging for about 6 months now and wrote about 177 articles. It’s one heck of a ride, but it’s actually fun because you’re learning and sharing what you’ve learned with people who wants to achieve the same goal(s) as you.
Couldn’t agree more, Eric. Often the best part of blogging is being able to connect with like-minded people who have similar interests and goals as yourself 🙂