Passive Income to Retire started the Beginning Blogger Challenge. Here’s the original challenge. Why did he start this challenge and why are so many people jumping in with the abandon of the Italian captain leaving the sinking Costa Concordia? ‘Cause it’s fun! Stuff like this brings great ideas together and I’ve already learned a lot from other bloggers’ advice. But first, my answers to the questions of the Challenge:
- How long have you been blogging? Since June 2011
- Why did you start blogging? To get the f*** out of debt!
- How long did it take you to earn $100 (if you have already earned $100) Seven months!
- What is (at least) one thing you wish someone had told you before you started blogging? Every time you reach a new milestone in blogging whether it is pageviews, mentions or anything else, you just set the bar higher for yourself since there is always room to grow. Blogs are a HUGE part of the online and technology industry and you will be surprised at what can happen as you continue to blog.
Blogging History X: Like That Movie with Edward Norton Except Not at All Similar
(See that little bit of ridiculous I injected in that title? The snarkiness of blogging has become an expected part of a blog’s repertoire. Except some people do it much better and with way more ingenuity than I ever could, which is what makes some blogs SO addictive). Blogging is a mode of communication. It’s just one more way for people to express themselves and I think this is all weird and new and exciting…and so do 15 million other bloggers. My perspective on blogging changed after I read Say Everything: How Blogging Began, What It’s Becoming, and Why It Matters. If you love getting the backstory, want to sound like you know what you’re talking about or call yourself a blogging expert, you need to read this book. I met some of the big names in blogging and tech that I never knew of and learned things every person who loves the internet and technology should know: like The Cluetrain Manifesto, the beauty of bOING bOING, the thoroughness of TalkingPointsMemo’s Josh Marshall, the dangers of thinking you can say whatever you want about others without consequences a la Heather Armstrong in her blog, dooce (the original mommyblogger), Michael Arrington and TechCrunch, and so many other blogging pioneers (including Matt Drudge, Gawker Media and too many others to list). Some of the same ideas, frustrations and roadblocks you experience in blogging are the same concepts all the big bloggers went through, with the exception of the ones who launched as businesses, like Gawker. They wonder whether they exist in an echo chamber, they get competitive about traffic and rankings and every now and again, they proclaim a blogging bubble.
But do it anyway. Write your blog anyway. You might make it big or you might toil away on posts written for ten true fans. I’ve got a few tips for you below. I know you already know the fancy stuff and you’re all hopped up on the Adsense and SEO and Problogger and Smart Passive Income like a college kid abusing Adderall, so I want to go beyond that. These are a few ideas I’ve been keeping in mind from the start.
Get ready to work hard for a year without any guaranteed results
I’m glad that I started out reading some great blogs (ABDPBT, GeniusTypes, 20s Money) who all basically repeated the idea that if I was reading and I wanted to blog, I could definitely do it. But I was not to expect any results (traffic, income, tons of comments) until I had been blogging consistently for at least a year. I really took that idea to heart and just committed to writing about the stuff I had been wanting to figure out and worrying about the other stuff second. My blog is now almost 10 months old, and I have definitely seen results. I’m glad that my first few months of blogging was really just for my friends and family. Even they didn’t read all of my first posts. I needed to get into the habit of writing. Are there bloggers who make more money off their site in a shorter time? Uh, definitely. But that’s OK. I’m not worried about that. I want the site to have readers and thoughtful commenters (check) who continue to come back (check, hopefully!). I don’t want to lose them with a ton of regurgitated posts on different financial products. Products are important and can be a huge part of your financial strategy. But this blog will always be about ideas. What makes us tick? What makes us spend? Is there a way out of poverty for the lowest income Americans? Why was I so irresponsible for so long? I just think about what I Google to stumble across new blogs. Someone wants to see a great quote from Breaking Bad and discuss those uncomfortable topics like where we think we’re going in life? My blog is the one, people. But if you want really good, nitty-gritty financial advice? Check the Big Boys for that.
Your first year of blogging will be about figuring your blog out
We all want to differentiate ourselves but I sometimes have to laugh at how similar some of the first posts of different blogs look (my own included). When blogging is brand new, it’s so fun and so unknown. You jump in with enthusiasm and hope you will figure it out as you go along. I love to dissect ideas, phrases or other little aspects of life that have lots of room to be explored in depth. And that’s what so exciting about blogs: the ability to bring a true amateur’s passion to a subject in the best sense of the word: bring the love you have about your chosen topic and share it with the world! Get into the details. Explore the little things. Question the conventions on whatever you’re writing about. If you’re questioning convention, you can bet other people are too.
Make sure your posts have a point
I think I am guilty of this A LOT. I’m almost afraid to go back and read them, because I fear they read like me musing in the most narcissist of tones on “important” and “worthy” ideas. I’ll never stop being an idealist but as a blogger I’m trying to ramble less and get to the point on my posts. So write what you want to write, give us your ideas and stories, but make sure you give us something to go home with.
Don’t be a hater!
In case you didn’t know, I’m a reformed hater. I used to love to find fault in other people’s attitudes and actions without ever considering the value of my own actions. It’s easy to be funny when you are being ultra-critical and spiteful, isn’t it? Except for the person on the receiving end, of course. Unless you are a political blog (in which case you and your readers probably live for long, drawn-out debates on minutiae), just take it easy on the combative comments or posts. I know it’s easy to make fun of someone’s looks, inane ideas and whatever else. But that’s called a cheap shot, and the bigger man/woman doesn’t resort to that. It doesn’t have to be all unicorns and puppies (although that sounds nice!) on every comment you leave or post you craft, but remember that other bloggers have feelings and no one will ever agree with you 100% on every topic (that’s a straight-up life lesson, son. It took me a long time to learn that). Just take the differences of opinion for what they are and move on to the next thing.
I hope you have fun making a blog and finding your audience. I love learning new tricks and tools. I love sharing random ideas on Twitter and getting responses. I feel very, very lucky to know so many cool bloggers and readers. I’m just at the very start of my journey but I hope to be around for a while (at least as long as it takes to be debt free) and even after that. I hope I get to see your blog soon!