10 important things you should know if you’re going to start a blog, succeed and make money in 2020
In more than 2 years of blogging and growing my business, I’ve learned a lot. I wanted to share these blogging lessons with you, and hope that they can be helpful – after all, we all want a successful and money making blog, right?
These blogging tips and lessons have been integral to my success and continued growth. More importantly, I’ve seen how these lessons have been applicable to other bloggers in a variety of niches.
These aren’t the technical things you need to know (although of course you do) – but the deeper stuff that you’ve got to have in your gut to make this blog and business of yours a success.
This post contains affiliate links which means if you click and buy that I may make a commission, at no cost to you. Please see my disclosure policy for details.
1. There’s so much to learn, and it never stops
I remember being inspired to start a blog, and I thought “I’m a pretty good writer and I’ve got opinions… I can do this ;-)”.
I researched a little and found quite a few “How to start a blog in 15 minutes” type of posts, and I dove in.
When I first started, I just didn’t think blogging would be that hard. I imagined that if I just wrote something pretty decent, it would be enough. But there’s a whole other side to blogging that’s more technical.
By now, you’ve probably realized that writing a blog post isn’t at all like writing something in a word or google document. WordPress is a whole other beast!
Plus, all the other things to learn! “Blogging” just doesn’t stop when you hit PUBLISH.
Sometimes it feels overwhelming, but that’s ok. One step at a time still equals a mile.
Lesson: We can do hard things. I heard this on the Amy Porterfield podcast months ago and it really resonated with me. Difficult doesn’t mean impossible, and you can do it!
2. Develop a thick skin, while being vulnerable
When you blog, you’ve got to put yourself out there. There’s no doubt about it – from hitting publish every time you create a new blog post, to sharing your work on social media, to showing up in video and photos – you make yourself vulnerable.
So it might seem strange to also hear that it’s imperative to have a thick skin. I 100% believe it’s one of the MOST important characteristics you must develop.
The reality is that it can feel awkward to share, and some people are going to disapprove. We worry about strangers, but you may have some family or friends that aren’t supportive. They may even talk behind your back or make fun of you.
Unfortunately this seems to be par for the course, at least sometimes.
Ruth Soukup, blog biz extraordinaire and best selling author of Do it Scared (love this book!) and more, has described this experience with her friends early on. It really helped me to know that if it happened to her and she is where she is, I can handle it too.
Lesson: You’re not doing this for them. Your success depends on you continuing to do this and putting yourself out there. So believe in your message and keep on keepin’ on ;-).
3. You’ve got to have faith
You’re doing all of these things early on, and in the beginning, there will be so much work and nothing tangible to show for it. Having faith and believing in this blog of yours is really important.
Creating your web site, learning Pinterest and trying to drive traffic, then SEO and working diligently for what you know will only pay off in several months to a year (or more) – there will be some tough days.
It’s hard, and you don’t have a crystal ball.
I know how cheesy this sounds.
You need to have faith that all these people who’ve come before you and that you’re learning from through courses, books, blog posts, and podcasts are right. That you can do this and that the results will come.
Recently I heard Hal Elrod talk about The Miracle Equation (find book here on Amazon) being a combination of unwavering faith and extraordinary effort. There is much more to it, but wow, Aha moment for sure!
Lesson: Drink the Kool-aid. Believe in yourself. Follow a “mentor” or two and know when you put in the work, you’re bound to succeed.
4. Taking massive (and imperfect) action is really important
All the faith in the world won’t be enough. Action is required. You can learn from podcasts or courses, but without the “doing part”, you’ll go nowhere fast.
Brooke Castillo talks about the concept of taking massive action in her podcast (check it out for amazing doses of inspiration).
Then there’s the extra point I totally subscribe to, which goes further.
Take Massive Imperfect Action.
The most important thing I did in my first few months of blogging was to write and publish blog posts. I look back at some of my early work and I didn’t know about keyword research, optimizing my images or which headers to use.
Those early blog posts weren’t my best, by any mean! I did quite a few things “wrong” until I learned a better way. But imagine if I waited until I was better?
I can say the same thing about learning and implementing other important things – like learning Pinterest. Early stuff sucked, but that’s ok.
There’s a Chinese proverb that says “knowledge doesn’t cook rice”.
The reality is we just can’t get better without leaping in and learning as we go.
Lesson: Passive learning stays in your head, but until you put knowledge into action, you just won’t see results.
5. It’s not all about me
So, I don’t think I’m all that.
But I did think… people wanted to know about where I went, what I think, what I like.
Me, me, me, me, me.
Nope, I’ve come to learn they really don’t.
My most popular blog posts have actually been things I’ve written that have been helpful to my reader.
It’s not to say that I don’t inject my personality and my even own experiences, within the article. But the posts that have resonated with readers the most, have been ones where they got what they needed from it.
Lesson: Remember why you are doing this and what unique message you have to share with the world. Then write it for them, and not you.
6. Don’t buy EVERY blogging course
There are so many people trying to sell you courses and ebooks and some of it may seem like the magic pill. It never is.
Be wary of this and don’t jump into buying every new course that pops up.
It can be hard when you really want see some success, and let’s face it, you’re being targeted for a very appealing offer (right?).
Be choosy. Pick the courses that get genuinely good reviews. However, go the extra mile and take some time to follow the person selling the course, to see that they walk the walk.
Finding a course, teacher, or coach that aligns with what you need is important.
Lesson: Don’t be so jaded (or cocky) that you don’t invest in yourself and your blog. Learning through a course, an ebook, or working with a coach can help you to propel your growth.
7. Celebrate everybody else’s success
I’m in a few Facebook groups with other bloggers and I love to see others post about their successes. I’m always happy and excited for them, even though most of the time I don’t even know them.
You see, each time someone posted about how they got into Mediavine (or another big accomplishment), I saw that as a possibility for me. Their success meant I can also succeed.
I try to follow this same principle in life. Let’s root for each other and know there’s more than enough good stuff to go around!
On her podcast and blog, Jenna Kutcher talks about having an Abundance Mindset.
It’s true – kind of like how we all know there’s more than enough love in a Mom’s heart to love all her children. Success, like love, is infinite.
Lesson: Cheer everyone on! It’s good Karma.
8. Don’t spend too much time figuring out your WHY
Some will disagree, but I don’t think you need a big, lofty why.
Change the world? Meh…
Now, maybe it’s my personality and I’m very practical and a BIG WHY kind of seemed a bit unrealistic to me.
I just couldn’t wrap my head around that one, and I know for me, it would be paralyzing if I had to commit to grandiose plans and dreams.
Everyone is different, but some people do better with smaller or incremental goals.
I may revisit the BIG WHY at some point, but I think for beginner bloggers, smaller and seemingly more attainable goals can be more productive.
Personally, I wanted to earn a good side income with this blog. I did that and more.
You may want to replace an income so you can stay home with your kids. Others may want to make enough money to travel for six months at a time.
If you have a bigger WHY in mind, but aren’t making the progress you’d hoped, keep it, but break it up into smaller goals until you get there.
It doesn’t mean that we can’t change and adapt our plans and goals as we progress. As we grow, our goals and dreams can grow too.
Lesson: Make sure your goal is important enough to you so that you really work at it. However, not so big that you don’t really think you can attain it.
9. Build online friendships with other bloggers outside your niche
You can learn a lot from bloggers in your niche, so definitely network with your “peers”. However, I’ve found that going outside my own niche of travel blogging world has been so beneficial.
Bloggers in different niches do things differently. You’ll pick up on different tactics and strategies and ideas that you can use.
I’ve found that bloggers in different niches chat about different things in their Facebook groups, and their perspective is different on certain issues. It’s very helpful to get out of mindset bubble that we unwittingly put ourselves in.
But I said friendships. Yes, get into messenger chats and if you connect, start small informal mastermind groups.
I have 2 main ones, one in travel blogging with some great bloggers I’ve met through a travel blogging course I took, and another with a few bloggers from various niches.
Every week or two we connect and it’s extremely helpful to bounce ideas off one another and help each other along the way. Plus, no one “gets it” like others in this online space.
Lesson: Don’t try to do this all on your own. You’ll go faster and achieve more if you support and collaborate with others.
10. Try not to go down too many rabbit holes
I say that with a grain of salt, as there are things I tried that didn’t work out or even where I wasted time, but had I not tried, I may not have accomplished other things.
However, I have learned that trying to go in too many directions at once, is a recipe for getting very little accomplished.
Now, I keep a notebook for great ideas, and I write them down. Usually that’s where they stay for a while until they fit the plan. Occasionally, I feel a bit compelled to act, and then I do. Those gut reactions have often had a positive effect, so don’t discount them.
However, limit the things that are unproductive. I’m still learning this.
I’ve started to implement the concept of the 12 Week Year, which is where you focus intently and do the actions required for a set goal. If something else comes up during this time, you know that it will be taken care of after this 12 week period is done.
Lesson: Know your goals and stick to your plan 90% of the time. Use social media as a tool, and don’t waste too much time scrolling (easier said than done I know).
Resources: Books that inspire
Here are some books that are great for bloggers and anyone with an online business.
Tip: Did you know that you can often get your first audio book free through Amazon? Just verify if the book you like has this offered (Amazon links below)
Bonus you’ll love! Brene Brown’s message is gold and each of us need to hold it close.
You MUST watch this – because when you feel down or like you can’t go on, remember to be proud of the fact that you’re showing up!
Recap: 10 Powerful lessons learned in building a successful blog
The truth is, no one else cares about your blog, online business and your goals more than you.
Immerse yourself with learning and go all in! If you don’t have a lot of time, listen to podcasts or get audio books. I love a good dose of blog and business inspiration as I drive or cook dinner.
Don’t wait for others to be supportive. Put yourself out there to learn what you need to, ask questions and don’t stop even when it’s hard.
If you do these things, to quote Dr. Seuss, “And will you succeed? Yes! You will, indeed! (98 and 3/4 % guaranteed).”
Do you have a blog? What lessons have you learned that we can learn from? Let’s share our nuggets of wisdom, and cheer each other on!