4 Blogging Lessons Learned The Hard Way

One night, after a hard day of working long past 5 only to come home to a ever-growing stack of bills, I got an idea. I’m going to work hard now, start a profitable blog, and do away with the 9-5 grind.

It’s now been a little over four years since I sat down and decided to pen my own destiny, with hopes of complete financial freedom. Unlike many other bloggers, however, I worked hard without having to quit my day job, and have set up a pretty decent stream of passive income in the process.

Now don’t get me wrong, I’ve still got a long ways to go, and am by no means proclaiming to be a full-on expert in online marketing. BUT those past four years have taught me a lot of lessons, both good and bad, which I would like to share with you today.

Setting up a blog is hard work

When I first got into the world of blogging and online marketing, I was a cocky kid that thought he knew it all. I thought setting up a blog would be incredibly easy and the money would start flowing in from day one. Boy was I wrong.

I had to sit on ten different sites for over a year before I saw a single one become profitable. Ironically enough, the only one that generated me any money I later sold for $1,000 to somebody on Flippa. The rest of the 9 sites failed miserably, taking with me anything I had hoped to earn.

What I took away: 

photodune-7294120-hard-working-xsAfter failing 9 times, I learned that blogging is hard work. It wasn’t super easy, and there is no way to all of a sudden start making money without putting in late nights, racking your brain for innovative ideas, and infusing large amounts of capital to stay afloat. Blogging is an art form, not a job, and if you don’t break your back working incredibly hard, you won’t succeed.

Second, sure, it was hard to monetize the thing, but it was also hard to set up. Back when I first started, I couldn’t find a blog that simply laid out a step-by-step guide to what needs to happen to get the site live. Four years later and tons of networking opportunities behind me, I now realized there really was a comprehensive guide like that the entire time. Websitesetup.org breaks down each step to creating a blog individually, but also leaves nothing out. This site rivals WPBeginner, in my opinion simply because there’s so much information available.

I also learned to never get cocky. If you do, you’re in for a rude awakening. All it takes is one bad link, one pissed off competitor, or one wrong move in the eyes of an affiliate manager to bring you down.

The harder you work, the farther you’ll get. But the cockier you get, the harder you’ll fall. 

Content is STILL king

Over the past few years, you’ve probably had the phrase “content is king’ hammered into your head time and time again. Many people shake that phrase off and keep doing what they think works. But the people pushing content to the forefront of their priorities are absolutely right.

What I took away:

photodune-5563434-content-layout-xsShort, dull, thin content is out, and long, rich content is in. There’s on doubt about it.

Think about it: people search for things expecting to find answers to their questions. If they find thin content that is only produced with the goal of making the author money, that doesn’t provide two-way value.

However, if they come across a 2,000 plus word page packed with tons of information, guides, and resources, they’ll likely stay on the page longer, share it with their friends, and take your site as much more credible, in ADDITION to walking away with the answer they were looking for.

Provide value to readers by answering their questions through comprehensive, thought-out posts and you’ll see much better SEO results than you would if you just threw together a page. 

Diversify Diversify Diversify

Going with the cocky theme from above, I woke up one day to have my monthly earnings greatly reduced. After a few minutes of digging, I realized why. One of the biggest affiliates on my site shut down, the company went under. The day that happened, my earnings were cut in half and I made much less than I was used to.

That really hit hard for me, because it completely crushed my dreams of quitting my full time job and blogging full time. I had experienced success only to have my cockiness get thrown back in my face and bring me back to reality. It absolutely crushed me, but it was a rookie mistake that I needed to learn.

What I took away: 

photodune-8467194-business-xsThe incredibly valuable lesson I learned that day is that diversifying income sources is almost as valuable as the time it takes to build your site. You aren’t going to put your blood, sweat, and tears into building your site to have it be worthless because one income stream dries up.

Just as countless financial advisers preach time and time again, diversifying income streams mitigates risk and protects your net worth. Just like investors protect their investments, affiliate marketers need to do the same. I cannot stress this enough, and I assure you I’ve learned the hard way and will never make the same mistake again.

Diversifying income sources helps cushion the blow in case something goes wrong, but also helps maintain earnings for your hard work. 

You’re never experienced enough to stop learning

The last big takeaway I’ve learned in my experience running online businesses is that you’re never too experienced to stop learning. I have so much admiration and respect for guys like Brian Dean and Neil Patel, both for what they know, and also for how they’re always on a quest to learn more.

I’ve worked with a countless amount of bloggers who think they’ve made it and don’t need to learn any more. But here’s the harsh reality: arrogance breeds competence, and competence results in a big big fall. I’ve been at the top of the rankings only to get hit with an algorithm penalty, or been surpassed by a competitor that implemented some type of cutting-edge method I had never heard of.

What I took away:

Brain opening concept.Creative brain abstract vector logo designIt doesn’t matter how much you know, or how good at your job you think you are, there is always something to learn. In education, reality, money, power, anything really, there’s always another level. And if you become arrogant and complacent, the competition will eat you alive.

ALWAYS be on the quest to learn more from others who have done things before. Even if you’re forging a new and innovative path for the first time, you can still learn from your successes and mistakes. 

Wrapping up

Hopefully the blogging mistakes I’ve made in the past help you to stay on track and be the best blogger you can be. I know I still have a lot to learn, but those are just a few things I try to drill into every new blogger, simply because making even one of them can spell disaster.

Now over to you.

What lessons have you learned from your experience? What did you do right? What did you do wrong? We’d love to hear in the comments below!

Editorial Staff
mark@markcambridge.com
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