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7 Things You Absolutely Shouldn't Do When Starting Your Blog
*This post may contain affiliate links. You can read my affiliate disclosure here.
When I first started blogging as a side hustle to bring in extra income, I read a ton of posts on all the things you should do to run a blog successfully.
I ended up with a MASSIVE list of to-dos, and I really wasn't certain if any of them were actually necessary or not.
I was simply taking advice from everyone and their mom on the internet and to be honest, it was pretty overwhelming.
I think blogging can be an awesome side hustle or full-time business, especially for moms and working women who are over the corporate lifestyle.
I was 16 weeks pregnant with my first baby when I started this blog. I just knew that I wanted to stay home with my baby after he was born, and I also wanted a creative outlet that belonged to just to me.
I've learned a thing or two about blogging successfully over the years, so today I wanted to share a number of things not to do as you start your blogging journey.
1. Don't Throw Away Your Receipts
Please, please don't throw away receipts that are from business expenses.
Those things are as good as cash!
When you start a business, business expenses can be deducted from your tax bill.
The only catch is that you have to have receipts to prove it.
On top of that, there are so many things that count as business expenses!
Office supplies, blogging courses, software subscriptions, hosting, and pretty much anything else you buy for your business can be deducted.
If you want a full list of blogging deductions you can take for your blogging side hustle, check out my 20 Tax Write Offs Every Blogger Should Know post.
I have a special envelope I keep in my closet that is just for receipts for business-related purchases. When I go to file my taxes, everything I need will be in one place and I'll save so much money on the tax bill!
2. Don't Use A Free Blogging Platform
Wix, Weebly, Blogger, Blogspot… These are all a free blogging platforms.
Now don't get me wrong. If your sole reason for blogging is simply to have a fun hobby to do in your spare time, and you have NO desire to ever make money from your blog, then a free blogging platform is a great option.
But frankly, I write for entrepreneurs and side hustlers on this blog and that's what many of you are!
So I'm here to tell you... Don't go with the free blogging platforms! You need to self host.
I'm glad you asked.
First, free blogging platforms own any content you upload to them.
Crazy, right? Your content no longer belongs to you. If they decide that your content doesn't fit within their guidelines anymore, or any other policy changes are made, they can delete everything you have without warning.
The second problem with free blogging platforms is a matter of bandwidth.
They simply don't give you very much! By the time you upload more than a handful of posts with images, you're going to start quickly running out of bandwidth.
The last major problem with free blogging platforms is they simply don't have the integration capabilities that you will need to make money with your blog.
It will be nearly impossible to run payment processors, use plugins for various business functions, offer products for sale, etc when it comes to running your blogging biz.
On top of that, they also don't integrate with email marketing systems, which as a blogger is CRITICAL to your ability to sell anything, ever. (Sorry to be so dramatic, but it's true.)
So what do I do instead?
You self host your blog.
Don't worry! This isn't as complicated as it sounds.
Self-hosting simply means that you purchase independent hosting from a hosting company like Siteground for just a couple dollars per month and run your WordPress site from that.
3. Don't Take Pictures You Find on Pinterest
Here's a question I get a lot.
Can I take photos I find on Pinterest or Google, and use them on my blog or to create pins for my site?
The answer is… no way, Jose.
Taking photos you find online is considered copyright infringement and can definitely get your blog in hot water.
So where do I find photos to use?
You're in luck! There are a number of ways, both free and paid, to get beautiful images for your blog, Pinterest, and Instagram accounts.
These photos are royalty-free and you can use them for any non commercial purpose. This means you can put them on your blog posts, post them to Instagram, make Pinterest pins out of them, use them on your freebie documents, etc.
Obviously, you can't resell them or use them to create paid products.
Is there a downside to using free photos?
Free photos are a great way to go when you were first starting out.
However, there has been evidence that Pinterest and Google simply don't rank free images as high in their algorithms as stock images.
Because with millions and millions of people using the same free stock images over and over again, they just aren't considered “high quality” imagery.
Because much fewer people purchase and use the same paid stock photos, these can be a much better way to go as your business becomes more established.
The best way to go, if possible, is to take your own blog images. Of course, for most people this simply won't be worth the time or energy to do.
So where do I find paid stock photography?
Many people choose to go with bigger stock sites such as BigStockPhoto and iStockphoto. To be honest, I don't recommend them as they tend to be quite expensive. (Many of their images cost more than $10 per image!)
Instead, I recommend looking for bloggers who offer their own stock photography for sale. There are quite a few who do this, including me!
Sassy Styled Stock is one of the most affordable sources of quality stock photography out there (if I do say so myself!)
You can also search Pinterest for other stock photography packages created by blockers for other bloggers.
4. Don't Write About Too Many Different Things
You've probably heard over and over that it's important to “niche down” your blog so as to draw in highly targeted readers.
Here's the thing.
I think that asking bloggers to only write about one topic on their blog is just a little too crazy. Let's face it, we are humans. We have a number of different interests, and most of us would quickly become bored to tears blogging about one topic forever.
My solution comes with two parts.
First, I recommend blogging about no more than three topics.
Writing about two or three topics tends to keep your blog lively and interesting, while still staying focused enough that people want to stick around.
Because here is the problem.
If you write about travel and food and pets AND pilates, the vast majority of people who come to your site simply aren't going to be interested in all of those things.
And when only 20% of the blog posts you write are of interest to them, they're going to move on to greener pastures. So my first piece of advice is to keep your blog between one and three topics.
My second piece of advice is to make sure that all of your blog topics cater to the same audience.
To do this, you need to know who your audience is.
For example, maybe you write about vegetarianism, yoga, and meditation. This is a really good combination because you are essentially targeting the same person with all of these topics.
People who do yoga tend to also meditate and are likely to be vegetarian. These topics work together.
Here's an example of topics that do NOT have a similar audience- Fishing, fashion, and finance.
These three topics have completely different audiences. People who love fishing tend to be men between the ages of 40 and 70.
Fashion lovers tend to be women between the ages of 20 and 40. And finance? That can apply to almost anyone depending on what sector you choose to talk about.
So this is an example of a poor choice when it comes to choosing blog topics.
5. Don't Post Less Than Once Per Week
If I had a dollar for every time someone asked me how often they should post… Haha.
I get it. I've heard everything from uber-successful bloggers who post once per month, to articles making the case for blogging at least five times per week. Both of them I consider to be a bit insane!
I recommend posting at least once per week. Whether this is on your blog, your YouTube channel, your podcast, whatever. Once per week should be doable for almost everybody and is often enough to keep you top-of-mind without overwhelming your readers.
Now if you can post two or three times per week, that's awesome! And you will likely see more growth that way then posting only once per week.
But the big thing I want you to take away here is that you should always START by posting once per week.
Once you've got at least a month's worth of blog posts scheduled and you feel like you can do more, only then should you increase your output to twice per week and so on.
My Secret Weapon for Creating Incredible Blog Posts
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6. Don't Forget That Action Brings Clarity
I wish I could go back in time and tell myself this over and over.
It's so tempting when we feel like we should have everything planned out to a tee to spend inordinate amounts of time researching and outlining and planning.
But the reality is that as you learn more about blogging so, your plan is going to change. So spending a ton of time researching and thinking really isn't going to help you.
Clarity comes from action.
This definitely sucks for our inner procrastinator, I know.
But if you're struggling to figure out what's next or how all of this is going to pan out in the end, just remember that the best thing you can possibly do is take action on the next step.
You are going to continue learning and growing with your blog over time, and you'll see more and more success the more action you take.
7. Don't Wait to Set Up An Email Marketing System
Have I hammered this one to death yet? Haha. But seriously.
Do not wait to start collecting email addresses.
Yes, it will be slow at first. You probably won't see too many subscribers coming in in the beginning. But that's okay!
The most important thing is that you start collecting email addresses now and email them regularly to start building the relationship.
This is definitely an investment in your future that will pay back big time.
When you do finally have something to sell or in an affiliate offer to make, having an email list of people who feel connected to you and love your work is going to make such a big difference.
My step-by-step guide to creating a profitable blog has an entire section on setting up your email list and creating an object free be to start getting subscribers. Check it out!
Let's recap! When you're starting a new blog...
- make sure you self host your blog through a hosting company like Siteground,
- keep your receipts somewhere safe,
- use photos that you have the right to use,
- stay on topic with your posts,
- make sure you post at least once per week,
- remember that ACTION brings clarity, not thinking and researching
- set up your email marketing system NOW, even if you have nothing to sell
I really hope this post was helpful for you! If you're looking for the next best step for your blogging side hustle, I highly recommend grabbing my Profitable Blogging Blueprint below. This thing is comprehensive and will show you exactly how to build your blog, step by step. (And it's free, so yeah, don't miss it!)
How to (Finally!) Start Making Money From Your Blog
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