7 Insights I Wish I Knew Before I Started Blogging

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Blogging Insights I Wish I Knew Before I StartedOn April 6th, I will be able to cross off an important bucket list item: write and publish a book.  You can read more about it here. I figure now is a great time to look back and evaluate how Pushing Social arrived at this point.

You might not know that Pushing Social is my 3rd try at turning a blog into a business.  My first two attempts were anonymous failures from a visitor or popularity point of view.  But they set the foundation for Pushing Social.   Looking back, I wish I had learned what I’m about to share earlier…but like my Mom says – “Everything happens how and exactly when it needs to.”

7 Blogging Insights…

Insight #1: Losers Love Opinions: Winners Love Action
I built Pushing Social by observing and testing out ideas gleaned from other successful blogs.  From my research, I noticed that many people with mediocre blogs were the loudest and most fervent opinion-leaders.

However, the most successful bloggers quietly went about their business turning theory into tests and transforming tests into effective systems.  They rarely got involved in the mind numbing arguments that plague the space (ie. posting frequency, posting length, quality vs. quantity, how much to promote,etc.).  They just acted.

I believe successful bloggers (and anyone else for that matter) take this action first approach because they believe in understand the next insight –

Insight #2: Time is The Enemy
Time is clever.  It deceives you into thinking that you are in control and that you literally have all the time in the world.  You don’t.  Every moment is precious.  In business, wasting time means abdicating your market to competitors.  Time also saps momentum, cripples focus, and dulls your spirit.

I figured that I had 6 months to decide if Pushing Social was worth my time.  I did everything possible to speed up my learning.  I paid for expert advice.  I set a schedule around clear-cut goals. I asked people to hold me accountable.  You must do the same.

Insight #3: You Need More than “Great” Content
Everything worth doing operates on two levels: The public level and the insiders level.  The public view is filled with obvious exhortations, best practices, and vocal proponents.  In the blogging space, the public dogma is dominated by “write great content.”

But the insider’s know that great content only goes so far.  I wish I knew this when I started.  I spent weeks agonizing over epic posts that didn’t get seen.  Thankfully, I learned that Content is King, Promotion is Queen.  They must work together.

Insight #4: Traffic Means Nothing Unless…

In July of 2010 I received a surge of traffic when Brian Clark at Copyblogger mentioned Pushing Social.  I watched in astonishment as my twitter retweet count zoomed from 2 to 100 in 2 hours.  The next day, however, traffic returned  to pre-Copyblogger levels.

I realized that traffic doesn’t mean anything unless you can convert strangers into subscribers and repeat visitors.  From that point, my maxim is “Traffic Means Nothing Unless It Converts”  Look at your blog, how are you enticing new visitors to join your list of subscribers?

Insight #5: Send More Email

At first that comments were the best way to create relationships with my readers.  But, I quickly found out that only a fraction of people will actually comment, which meant that  relying on them to build familiarity and rapport is a non-starter.  It’s nice to get comments ( I love them!) but you need to use another tactic to build ongoing relationships with readers.

Email, the lowly much maligned underdog, is still the best online relationship builder.  I didn’t appreciate that until I started to send more email to my readers.  I discovered that the more, authentic, one-on-one email communications I sent, the more mentions, sales, and comments I received.  Now I email my subscribers every chance I get.  Of course, I make sure they aren’t bombarded with 10 messages a day, but most subscribers get at 1-2 emails from me a week.  Pushing Social fans receive up to 5 emails a week.

How can you use email to build a relationship with your loyal readers?

Insight #6: Your Blog is Just the First Step

For most, a successful blog isn’t their end goal.  They want a successful business, a book contract, more donors, etc.  So, it makes sense to start with your end goal and work backwards.  What needs to happen to achieve your goal?  From this perspective, your blog is just the first of many steps.

If your blog is struggling you may need refocus on your business goals and work backward from there.

  • What is your product?
  • What does your customers need to know to consider you?
  • What is the best way to tell your benefit story?
  • Where should that story live?
  • How often should you tell it?
  • How will you get your readers to act?

Remember your blog is a platform for these communications – nothing more.

Insight#7: Relationships are Critical to Your Blog’s Success

I’m a proud introvert.  It’s uncomfortable and emotionally draining to interact “in real life” with people.

Funny thing is that I love listening to people’s stories.  I love telling stories and hanging out but for some reason I have to push myself to do it.  My tendency to keep to myself was a severe handicap when I started Pushing Social.  I thought I could do it on my own.  But I quickly learned that forming relationships with peers and mentors would guarantee success and  along the way, I actually learned how to enjoy my interactions.  Now I try to form as many win/win relationships I can.

How about you?  How are you actively investing in your network of mentors, partners, collaborators, critics, and cheerleaders?

What Have You Learned On Your Blogging Journey

Use the comments to share one insight you wish you knew before starting your blog.  Help the rest of us learn from your experience.

About Stan

Stan Smith is the Managing Director of Pushing Social a content marketing consultancy for aggressive, results-focused organizations.

21 thoughts on “7 Insights I Wish I Knew Before I Started Blogging

  1. Pingback: 7 Insights I Wish I Knew Before I Started Blogging | NPNBlog

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  3. Angela, BecomingAWriterBlog.com

    Promotion seems to be the most challenging part of blogging. I have learned to make connections with those interested in my blog’s topic, which is writing. I have connected with many successful and aspiring authors on Facebook, and I am excited when a Twitter follower favorites and retweets one of my blog posts.

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  5. ozio media

    A successful blog is a concert of all of the factors that you mentioned. The content needs to be of a consistent standard; blog posts need to be regular enough to keep your audience engaged and forming relationships with your readers is the foundation of enduring success. As true as all of this is, the real quality that bloggers need to bring to their websites is their genuine enthusiasm for writing their blog, sharing their message and interacting with the visitors. For a blog to be successful the blogger’s heart has to be in it and when it is all of the rest of it will fall into place.

  6. Stanford Post author

    I mean that losers use opinions as the basis for strategy. Winners understand that strategy should be based on and refined by systematic testing.

    I re-read point #1 to make sure that I haven’t stated” that monetary qualifications are the only thing to consider what success is.” I didn’t. Your qualification for success is up to you. Whatever that qualification is, you are better served by systematic analysis than subjective judgements.

  7. Mitch Mitchell

    I’m intrigued by your opinion on #1, that losers love opinions. Right off the bat that makes me a loser, as it does a lot of very successful bloggers if monetary qualifications are the only thing to consider what success is. I don’t know where I’d go from there.

  8. Joe Wickman

    Thank you for this post!
    I’ve learned a great deal about persistence and self-led learning in year 1 of blogging. I am developing my craft of communicating my message. But I am also learning how to develop the delivery methods as well.

    I’ve just discovered yet another great resource in your blog. Thank you.

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  10. Don Stanley

    Fantastic post! Every time I read your blog, I feel smarter and more effective Stan. I’m dead serious about this. You provide such great, actionable, honest insights and advice.

    Thanks so much for giving me the kick-in-the-pants I need to quit making excuses and create results.

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  13. Stanford Post author

    Excellent point Brent. Your point about being “too busy” sounds familiar unfortunately. Now, almost everything I do is “by the numbers.”

  14. Brent Peterson

    Great summary Stanford. I like your insights. I’m on my third blog too and you are spot on. I’ve made my share of mistakes! One point I will add is how critical it is to constantly measure (eg what works, what doesn’t work) and to keep adjusting. I had the metrics before but I was “too busy” to look at them and take corrective action. Big mistake.

  15. Tara Rodden Robinson :: The Productivity Maven

    Hi Stan,

    Oh yes! This is all so true! Especially #4. It’s so, so tempting to think that there’s going to a lucky break that will catapult you to fame and fortune. And that’s not the case.

    What I wished I’d known before I started my blog is that it’s open-ended. You have to work at it day after day after day. If you’re going to keep it, it’s an “endless” commitment. A while back, I got terribly burned out but I’ve found ways to make it sustainable. And your posts have provided tons of valuable guidance and inspiration. I credit you with bringing me back “online.” Thanks!

    With gratitude,

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  17. Stanford Post author

    I agree with you Michael. The one distinction that I believe is important is “Pick Your Perfection”. Steve Jobs’ needed to be a perfectionist to get the iPhone right. He picked the right things or battles. The same goes here. I am a perfectionist when it comes to topic selection and editorial calendars – not so much with grammar ;). Ugh.

  18. Michael Corley

    Hi Stanford,

    I feel a little convicted by all 7 truths, especially #2.

    But the lesson that’s resonating with Me more than ever is …

    “Dont be a Perfectionist”

    The reason I suffered so much from #2 on your list is because I always wanted my blog theme to be as polished and useful in appearance as others.

    I guess this condition may also fall into “paralysis from analysis”.

    But after seeing my condition diagnosed here, it’s time to get on the path to recovery.

    Damned the torpedos, full steam ahead!

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