When I started my blog in 2017, I had no idea what I was doing. The only thing I knew was that I hated my job and wanted to do something that made me happy. So I started ellduclos.blog. At the time I had no idea what to expect but it quickly became my passion. I didn’t expect to fall in love with blogging the way I have. Since starting my blog in April 2017, it has now become my full time job. I have learned so many valuable lessons along the way but there are many things I wish I knew before starting my blog. That’s why I put together this post.
It’s important to know that I am not saying you need to have all of this done before you launch your blog. It’s okay to start your blog and learn along the way. This is just from my personal experience and things that I wish I knew before I started my blog.
Disclaimer: affiliate links are used, you can read my disclosure policy here.
What I wish I knew before starting my blog
1. Time management is key
When it comes to blogging, especially working from home as a blogger, it’s so easy for me to get distracted. It takes a lot of self discipline to make blogging work. I have to make sure to schedule time for my blog. I also like to set timers to keep me on task. Keeping myself accountable has made a huge difference when it comes reaching important deadlines and goals. Before I started my blog I wish I knew that having a schedule to follow would make it easier to accomplish my blogging goals.
I also have my blogging schedule here if you’re interested in reading it.
2. Don’t give up on strategies too soon
This is a big lesson I learned! There have been times when I gave up on strategies too soon. I think it’s safe to say a lot of us wished our strategies could bring over night success but that’s just not possible. If you are trying out a marketing strategy, give it time to work!
I notice when people learn Pinterest marketing and start implementing the strategies, they get discouraged when their blog traffic isn’t exploding within the first month. It takes time to grow your blog traffic! Give it time, be consistent with your strategy, and be proud of any bit of growth you see!
3. Pinterest will bring you traffic the quickest
Before starting my blog I wish I knew that Pinterest was the quickest way to grow blog traffic. I’ve tried a lot of content marketing strategies and the one strategy that brought me the quickest results was Pinterest marketing! With my first blog, I grew to 50,000 monthly blog views in 4 months of practicing Pinterest marketing strategies.
Now my lifestyle blog receives over 120,000 monthly blog views
and millions of Pinterest views
My second blog ( the one you are reading) grew to over 70,000 monthly blog views from Pinterest in 4 months.
If you know how to market your blog on Pinterest you can grow your blog traffic quicker than SEO and email marketing (from my experience). I’m not saying “don’t focus on SEO” because you still should! I am just saying, Pinterest marketing shows results quicker. If you don’t know how to use Pinterest marketing to grow your blog, then check out my affordable Pinterest with Ell course. I teach you all of the strategies I use to grow my blog traffic with Pinterest.
4. Practice good SEO from the start
This is something I definitely wish I knew before I started my blog! Going back to update old blog posts for SEO is a pain. I wish I had used good SEO strategies from the start. Don’t get me wrong, I am not an SEO expert but here are some basic SEO tips that I try to practice.
Before I started my blog I was clueless when it came to SEO. Not going to lie, I am still pretty clueless BUT there are basics that I learned. One being, to make sure your permalink structure is set up in favor of SEO from the start. When you first create your blog on Siteground, permalink is automatically set up to display the post publish date. This isn’t always great for SEO. Making sure your permalink structure is set up without the date and only includes your “slug” with keywords is best for SEO.
You can make sure your permalink structure is set up right by going to,
wordpress dashboard > site settings > permalinks.
WARNING *** If you make any changes to your permalinks after posts have been published, you may get broken links! If you change your permalink settings, make sure you use a redirection plug in to redirect old blog post urls to the new blog post urls.
When you start writing a new blog post figure out a few keywords and a long tail keyword you want your blog post to rank for. Use those keywords throughout your blog post. These keywords should also appear in your meta description, (which you can edit with the YOAST plug-in), Your headings (especially H2), permalink, blog title, and alt txt in images.
Use YOAST as a guideline
I love using YOAST as an SEO guideline. It recommends what you need to fix in your post in order for your post to rank higher in google searches. If you get a “green light” then your blog post is optimized well for the keyword you chose for it to rank for. YOAST is JUST a guideline and doesn’t guarantee amazing SEO, but it does help! It also allows you to edit your meta description. Your meta description is what shows when you search on google. It’s your post title along with a description of what the post is about. You can install YOAST by searching for it under plug-ins!
Having backlinks helps grow your domain authority, which then helps you rank higher in searches. A backlink is essentially when another website includes a link to your website on their site or blog post. Having backlinks on websites that have higher domain authorities is key. The more backlinks you have on trustworthy sites, the more trustworthy your site becomes in the eyes of google. This makes google want to rank your content higher in searches. You can check domain authority using this site.
If you are wondering how to build back links, a great way is to reach out to other bloggers in a similar niche and offer to guest post for them. This is when you write a blog post for someone else’s blog and they link back to your site. This gives you credit for your post while also giving you a backlink.
You can also try to participate in round up blog posts! I try to have collab threads in my Boss Girl Bloggers community weekly so that bloggers can reach out and work together on guest posts and round ups.
You also have to make sure you are interlinking your content. If you have related blog posts, linking to a similar post naturally throughout your new post is interlinking your content. I did it many times already in this post if you need an example! It’s important to do this and it can also help with your bounce rate. (how quick someone leaves your site)
5. Have a solid foundation
It’s so important to have a solid blog foundation, without it everything crumbles! So what do I mean by this? First make sure you start on a self hosted WordPress blog. I previously started on WordPress .com without realizing that it was very limiting and that I didn’t have complete ownership over my site. Then I learned about self hosting and transferred my site to Siteground and there was a huge shift in my blog. I was able to better my seo, monetize however I’d like, have complete ownership over my site, faster site speed, access to plug ins and so much more! Do yourself a favor and choose self hosting.
It might be difficult to learn the platform but once you do, it’s worth it. Squarespace and wix are easy to use but not the best for customization and SEO purposes. You also don’t own your site which means you could lose it if they decide to close up shop.
You also want a solid theme and your 4 core pages. Having a theme that’s easy to navigate, not cluttered, and comes off more branded and professional is a huge game changer! I’ve had my fair share of crappy themes. If I had to recommend a theme it would be hello you designs. Genesis themes are trickier but they are game changers once you set them up! You can also pay extra to have the team at hello you set it up for you. Or check out creative market for some awesome options.
When it comes to pages I always talk about the core 4! These are the 4 pages I consider to be crucial to your site.
1. Your About Me
This is where you would talk about who you are, what your site is about, and what the purpose of your blog is! Get personal, get real!
2. Contact Page
It’s so important to have a contact page! This is where brands will go if they want to contact you for potential sponsorships etc. OR if a reader wants to reach out, it makes it easy for them to email you.
4. Disclosure Policy
If you need help getting your blog set up and ready to go then read my step by step guide on starting a blog!
6. It’s okay to use stock photos and it’s a game changer
I know a lot of people seem to think stock photos are bad and you shouldn’t use them. I agree and disagree! In my opinion it depends on the purpose of the stock photo and the quality of the stock photo. Before I started my blog I wish I knew about these stock photo membership sites! I use 3 stock photo memberships that have been game changing. They each provide STUNNING, feminine photos and they update their libraries all the time.
On my lifestyle blog I use 95% of my own photos but on Boss Girl Bloggers I love using feminine stock photos. It helps keep my blog branded and let’s face it, I am not an amazing photographer. If I have a sponsored post that requires photography then I ALWAYS use my own photos but for my business and marketing blog I don’t see any issues with using stock photos.
There are 3 stock photo membership sites I swear by:
- Pixi Stock: I love Pixi Stock, she has stunning images and SO many to choose from. She also provides with her annual membership, Canva templates that you can customize for Pinterest pins and e-courses as well as Instagram presets.
- Ivory Mix: This was the first membership I ever purchased for stock photos and she never disappoints! Not to mention she has helpful blog tips too.
- Styled Stock Society: One of my absolute favorites with tons of different, beautiful stock photos as well as customizable Canva templates for blog graphics and gift guides.
and if you don’t want to join a membership, I also like creative market to find stock photos.
Using stock photos helps to brand my website and it also helps to create pin graphics which is a huge part of my content marketing strategy. Some people hate stock photos, I get it, but these sites have stunning feminine libraries.
7. Views go up and down
This is something every blogger should know before starting their blog! It’s just the truth! I used to be someone who would watch blog views every day and panic when they would drop. The truth is, that’s normal! Some days will be slower than others for many different reasons.
I notice my traffic is slower on a holiday because people are busy. I also notice the weekends tend to be slower assuming that people are out with family and friends doing activities. Around the holidays my traffic picks up because people are using Pinterest more often.
The fact of the matter is, views go up and they go down! Don’t stress it!!! It’s not the end of the world. If you do see a major dip, then look into it. Check your google analytics and see if you did anything different to cause the dip.
8. Pay attention to google analytics
I wish I knew how helpful google analytics is. It shows me so many different stats about my audience. From what they are most interested in, to their age, and even where they are from! But it can also show me when my audience seems to be most active, what blog posts are most popular, and more. Figure out what your audience likes and continue to create content they are drawn to.
9. It’s possible to make money
There’s a lot of negativity out there about making money blogging and I just want to shed some light. I’m not saying that making money blogging is easy because it’s not, but can you do it? Yes. I started my blog April 2017 and in 2020 it is now my full time job. It took me 6 months to have my first ever $1,500 month from affiliate marketing and it took me 1 year to make more money blogging than I did at my full time job.
If you don’t believe the words I’m saying then take a look at my income report. It’s possible but you have to be willing to learn, implement, and believe you can. I go over 6 ways I make money blogging in this in-depth post if that’s the route you are wanting to take.
10. Not everyone will support you
The biggest thing I learned that I wish I knew before starting my blog is that not everyone will support you and that includes friends and family. When I first started my blog, so many people questioned what I was doing. They thought I was crazy and even joked about my blog. I didn’t let it stop me though, but instead used it as energy to push myself that much harder to make it work out.
It’s okay if not everyone supports you because not everyone understands what it really entails. If it’s your passion then who cares what they think. Right?!
I always say your blog will attract an audience that is meant to find you. If they don’t support your blog then they aren’t your target audience anyway.
11. Make use of social media
Establishing a presence across all of my social media has been huge for me! I make sure to have all the basic social media accounts and try to use the same exact username as my blog url to make it easier for people to search for me on social media.
I love having a blog because social media isn’t forever guaranteed but I do make sure to use all the free tools that are provided to me in order to help grow my blogs’ reach even more. Social media allows me to connect with my audience on a more personal level, PLUS it allows me to make connections with those who may not know my blog exists yet.
If you want to learn how to grow your social media then check this post out. I grew my social media accounts to thousands and so can you!
12. It’s okay to have set backs
If I had someone tell me this before I started my blog, I wouldn’t have felt the pressure to be perfect. The biggest thing I notice in the blogging community is that bloggers are so quick to give up on their blog the minute something doesn’t go the way they expected it to go.
We go into blogging with expectations and if it doesn’t play out the way we expected it to, we think that it’s a sign saying we failed. This leads to giving up on something that had the potential to be amazing! Learn from your setbacks and think of them as redirections. It’s redirecting you to something better! Learn and keep going.
13. Patience is key
This goes along with setbacks and OH MY GOODNESS you need to have some damn patience! They don’t always warn you about how long it actually can take to see that traffic increase, to see that income roll in, to really feel like you are getting somewhere with your blog. There are tons of bloggers out there who put out this false perception that gaining an audience and making money blogging is an instant thing. This is not the case! Is it the case for some? Certainly, but just because someone else grows right away doesn’t mean that you will. There are tons of variables that have an effect on how quickly you grow as a blogger. BE FREAKING PATIENT.
Not to mention sometimes strategies take months to work out. If you start implementing a strategy and then give up because it’s not bringing you instant success, you could potentially be giving up on a strategy that could have worked for you in the long run.
Explosive traffic and sales doesn’t happen over night and it definitely doesn’t happen without hard work. You have to be patient with yourself and your strategies
14. Be YOU
It’s so easy to follow a blogger that you admire and consider to be “successful”, you want to be just like them. Before you know it you are doing everything they are doing because it’s working for them. But here’s the thing, being YOU is what’s going to make you stand out. People want to follow you because of YOU.
I live by “your vibe attracts your tribe”, people who are meant to find you will find you. They will be attracted to YOUR style of writing, YOUR creative ideas, and YOUR personal story. Don’t imitate because you think it’s the fast track. Don’t copy! You can get into a lot of trouble if you do. Bloggers work hard to stand out and pave their own way, we all need to do the same.
15. Don’t aim for perfect
The biggest thing I wish I knew before I started my blog is that perfection doesn’t exist. So many bloggers want to wait until everything is perfect before they start sharing their content. Here’s the thing, nothing is ever perfect! Tweaks will always need to be made, if you wait for perfect you’ll never launch. Just do it!!!
I learned that the learning NEVER stops! Algorithms are constantly changing and even the most seasoned bloggers are still learning something new. Have a growth mindset.
16. Content marketing is key
If you go into blogging without a solid content marketing strategy you will find yourself very disappointed when the traffic doesn’t come your way. Don’t just expect to get blog traffic when you upload a blog post, sadly it doesn’t work that way.
You need to market that blog post to generate the traffic. The best way to do this is by sharing your blog post to social media and by using Pinterest strategies to organically grow your blog traffic on Pinterest. If you have the funds you can pay for ads to get the traffic quicker, otherwise definitely invest your time in learning how to use Pinterest to grow your blog.
There are times when I don’t publish a new post for over a week but still get thousands of blog views a day to my blog thanks to Pinterest. If you have no idea how to use Pinterest to grow your blog traffic then you need to invest in this course!
17. Investing in your blog is worth it
When I first started my blog I had the mindset of “I’m not going to invest in my blog until my blog is making money.” This is not the best approach. It’s a negative mindset approach. The moment I started investing in my blog was the moment I saw a shift. I have a podcast episode on this topic that shares negative mindsets that bloggers need to change.
If you think about it, once you invest your money into something you are wanting to work that much harder! If you have no money invested into your blog then that drive to make it work might not be as big. Does this make sense?
I invested over $6,000 into my blog in 2019 and made over $50,000. I share all of my blog investments that I made in this post!
18. Positive mindsets make a difference
Before I started my blog I wish I knew how to practice positive mindsets. I started my blog because I was in a dark, negative headspace and felt like I was trapped in a vicious cycle that I couldn’t escape. Being a full time waitress and a college dropout, I didn’t have high hopes for my future. Once I started my blog I was finally able to come out of that rut and change my life around. It’s like my life did a 360 and so did my mindset.
Some negative mindsets you need to cut out as a blogger:
- I don’t know how to do this so I give up: Almost every blogger goes into blogging without really knowing what the heck they are doing. I started from a blank slate and had no idea how to make it work! But just because I couldn’t make it work doesn’t mean I gave up. Instead I pushed myself to learn. I didn’t stop until I did create a successful money making blog. You can do the same!
- I’ll never make money so why bother: That’s a pretty negative mindset to have. You won’t make money if you say you won’t but I bet if you learn and apply yourself to actually making your blog successful, it will be.
Again, I talk about more mindsets in this podcast episode that you might enjoy!
19. Don’t compare your blog
I think it’s safe to say we are all guilty of comparing our blog at one point or another. It’s really hard not to. The one thing I was guilty of when I first started my blog was comparing my new blog to seasoned bloggers. I thought to myself, WOW look at this blogger making all this money, working with all these brands, why can’t I?
The thing is, they have been doing it for years and meanwhile here I am with my fresh, new baby blog! It takes time. We all start from a blank slate and pave our own way. Some bloggers might have more time to dedicate to their blog and less priorities. For example, I don’t have kids so it’s probably easier for me to make time for my blog than someone who is a mom and works a second job. Be easy on yourself and stop comparing!
20. Network when you can
I wish I knew how important it is to network! Take advantage of any networking opportunities whether it be attending a blog conference, going to a blogger meet up or even joining blogging communities on facebook! Talking with other bloggers can not only help you to not feel so alone, but it also can bring opportunities your way.
If you are looking for a blogging community to join, I have my own called Boss Girl Bloggers that I grew to over 36,000 incredible women! Would love to have you there.
21. Have a mailing list set up with a freebie
Before I started my blog I wish I knew how important it is to have an email list builder set up. On top of that I also wish I knew that offering a freebie would grow my subscribers quicker. The email list builder I now use is called Mailerlite. They make it super easy to set up! I actually have a guide in this post. They are free to use for up to 1,000 subscribers.
The reason I suggest offering a freebie is because it makes your reader want to sign up to your email list because they are getting something in return. For example, my freebie is an Instagram growth course! Think about your niche and offer something of value for free to your subscribers that is related to your niche. This will help you grow your email list quicker than just inviting your readers to subscribe to your newsletter.
22. Don’t waste time with google ads
When I first started my blog I was so excited to start making money with my blog that I signed up for google ads. This was just a poor decision on my part. Ads on your blog are very hit or miss and sometimes they can drive your reader crazy.
It’s okay to want to make money for the work and time you put into your blog BUT with google ads you really don’t get paid much. The pay was very little and you didn’t get paid until you hit the $100 threshold. I got to that point once with google ads. It was a waste and made my site look cluttered.
If you want to use ads on your site I suggest waiting until you can qualify for Mediavine. I use Mediavine and prefer them over google ads. Their payout is higher which makes it worth it. They also allow you to control how many ads you want on your blog posts. In order to qualify you need to have 25k sessions (not pageviews) in the last 30 days.
23. Quality over quantity
I learned that quality is way more important than quantity when it comes to every aspect of blogging. I’d rather have an engaged following that’s smaller than a large audience that isn’t engaged. I’d rather put out quality blog posts once a week than 4-5 blog posts each week that provide little to no value. Keep quality over quantity the focus point of your blog.
24. Start with passion and then figure it out
When I first started blogging everyone told me I had to niche down and figure out that ONE topic I wanted to blog about. The problem is, I love talking about a lot of different things! I decided to go against the grain and blog about what I was passionate about.
Eventually, I realized what my audience was more drawn to and niched down a little. It’s okay to talk about what YOU are passionate about. In fact, if you aren’t passionate about what you are blogging about, you won’t feel as motivated to get a blog post published. As your audience grows you will realize what your audience is more attracted to. Just start with passion and figure it out as you go.
25. You never know it all, don’t stop learning
Like I said before, the learning never stops! If you want to grow as a blogger then you need to have a growth mindset. Don’t ever assume that you know it all. Continue to learn so that you can keep growing. There’s always more to learn! It’s also important to not let the learning overwhelm you. It can be very easy to overwhelm yourself by trying to learn too much at once. Just take it day by day and learn a little at a time. I promise it will all come together.
I hope you found this post helpful and encouraging! Would love to hear from you in the comments.
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