Guess what; I’m part of another blogging roundup. This time, I got to be one of 37 people who was asked what our biggest blogging mistakes were. Check that out because there’s some pretty big names on that list; that I got to be a part of it is pretty cool.
Actually, my little contribution led me to looking at some of the things other people had written on that post. It got me thinking more about what I would have done differently if I were starting a new blog today and had someone like those folks, or myself, to give some guidance on the process that would help me to get off to a good start.
Today y’all are lucky because you not only have that link to go to but you have me writing this particular post; you can thank me after you’ve looked at it… and I hope I don’t scare anyone off. Here are 5 things I’d do differently, or at least recommend to anyone thinking about starting a new blog.
1. Write 10 articles
It seems I mentioned this on my post giving 55 tips on blogging but not with much context to it. There’s more than one reason to do this.
First, most people forget that they hated writing in high school and college. If they couldn’t write 500 word papers then, why should they think it’s easy to do now? That’s why they should sit down and try to write 10 articles on their topic.
It might take a week; it might take 3 months. It’s a great learning curve to see if you have what it takes to not only write articles, but you can evaluate yourself to see if you want to continue writing.
Second, this is a great way to have ready made content when you’re ready to launch your blog. You end up having one article you can post immediately and 9 articles you can schedule over time. This gives you more time to write more articles or you can wait until those articles are live before writing some more.
2. Find your writing voice
When I started my first blog I’d already been writing two newsletters for 2 years. When I went back to work on my 2nd book on leadership, which is a compilation of newsletters and blog posts I’d written up to the end of 2008, I realized how rough it was to read those early articles. I was all over the place, trying to stuff as much stuff into an article as I could without any direction.
At some point I seemed to have found my writing voice. If you read my posts over the last 7 or 8 years you’ll see that my style has been pretty consistent. That helps your visitors get used to how you write and what your words will sound like in their ears. Everyone might not like it but if you’re authentic you’ll reach the people you want to reach.
3. Set something up for email subscribers
I hate popups with a passion; everyone knows that by now. I’ve never signed up for any type of autoresponder. In retrospect I probably should have thought about it, which I’m still thinking about now, because there’s more than one way to get it done.
I still use Feedburner for my RSS feed, and I always thought that would be enough. Yet, when I launched my last book, it wouldn’t have hurt to have a real mailing list to send notice to the readers of my business blog.
4. Copyright protection
If you look at the bottom of this article you’ll notice a copyright notification. That helps to protect me from content thieves, which unfortunately can be fairly comprehensive from time to time. There was a time period when a lot of my content was being scraped.
I made it hard on myself to find it, and though I found them all, one was hard to get rid of because it was located on some offshore island whose ISP I couldn’t reach. That’s when I decided to start using the plugin called Digiprove, also known as Coyright Proof. It makes it easier to prove that you own the content, because in the day you had to fill out all this paperwork to get your stuff removed and then they took time to verify it before they’d do something about it. Check that site out; it might be valuable long term.
5. Figuring out how to use more of my own images
For some reason it helps to have at least one image in a blog post, no matter how short or long that post is. Turns out we’re all pretty visual people. The hard part is trying to find images that fit every topic, or a topic you happen to be writing on at the time.
For instance, blogging; what do you put up for blogging? There are some images I’m able to get from Compfight, which searches for Creative Commons images you can use via Flickr, that work nicely. But sometimes you just can’t find the right image for everything.
I have at least a few thousand images of things I’ve taken on my own. True, many of them might not fit a specific topic, and “experts” say that one should try to fit images to whatever you’re writing about. But as I read tons of blogs and news stories and I see images that skim the edges of a topic at best (let’s face it, when all else fails a lot of these websites with articles just throw up pictures of beautiful women) I’m thinking that there might be a place for more of my own shots.
This is one reason I’ve been putting up more of my own images on my posts this year. I figure putting a picture of myself, either alone or with someone else, works well since I’m the writer. If I had the talent I could caption many of the images I have to make them fit; that’s something some of you could learn. There are few images from the early years of this blog or my business blog, and I think I could make those articles more appealing with an image or two.
There you go; 5 things I wish I’d started doing when I started my blog, that I’d do if starting a new blog. What do you think?
28 thoughts on “5 Things I’d Do Differently If I Was Starting Blogging Today”
Really worthy points you have shared on blogging.
The newbies should follow these guidelines to enhance their blog.
The content quality and email list generation are most important as you mentioned.
True, though I still haven’t set up an email list or autoresponder… one of these years I’ll get to it.
Hey Mitch, I believe I introduced you to Digiprove way back in 2010. How good was I? lol
I like the five things you’ve chosen. I think images are very important and luckily I’ve gotten my hands on some software that allows me to easily create my own.
When I first started blogging my first posts were pretty pathetic. If I was going to do anything differently it would be too make sure that all my posts were of the highest quality.
Great post mate, as usual 😉
Thanks Pete. I hate to be “that guy” but I remember thinking that as long as I threw up something I was doing good stuff, and of course that turned out to be bad long term. Back then it seemed we got away with it sometimes, but who knew what things would grow into?
This one comes under the heading of ‘coulda, woulda, shoulda.’
I could probably add a few of my own, including ‘start blog commenting from day 1.’
Of the points made by you, I especially like the first two.
It takes real discipline to get into the habit of writing so writing ten articles is a good idea.
Find Your Writing Voice. This one is even harder. At least it was for me. I could never figure out who I was supposed to be and what persona I was meant to project. In the end, I decided to go for authenticity. I talked in my voice and if they didn’t like it, too bad. Fortunately, some of them liked it and became customers.
Thanks Mitch – it’s helpful
Thanks Kim. That voice thing was intriguing because I’d been writing for decades before that, but different types of stuff, and it never occurred to me to try writing more like I talk. I was a lot better with this blog because I’d made most of my mistakes with my first blog. But commenting… that one I was an early proponent of, though I can’t say that I always knew about writing better comments than I did. We all learn right? 🙂
Great post,all five of those things you would have changed,are very important. Great list for me to know what I should do Now. But I am going to take heed from you and copyright all my post with that digiprove. And I’m like you as far as I don’t really like those pop-ups ,but I hear almost everyday “the money is in the list” I ‘ve got two opt in email forms already but i’m going to get an auto responder because I do see the value . Well take care Mitch thanks for sharing.
Glad to help Darrell, and I’m not going to tell you not to use the popups… I’ll just say I wish you wouldn’t. lol Man, I hate those things so much, especially when I first gets to a blog & it’s the first thing I see. If I’ve never read anything that person has written, I’m not going to start at that moment. There are other ways of doing it. My buddy Pete used to have something that popped up when people got close to the end of the article; that was tolerable.
Congrats that you are one of the experts!
This is an interesting post every new bloggers like me would love to read.
I’m also kind of pop up hater but many people say that it’s good to build a email list.
I have a welcome mat in my blog that shows up only one time for the first time visitor.
Adding own images is really a good learning.
Thanks Uma. You know, there’s another side to what the “experts” say about popups. Yes, it does get a lot of people signing up for their email lists. It also reduces traffic because of people like me who can’t stand them, which long term reduces engagement as well. In my opinion, it’s the difference between deciding to be an influencer and going for the money grab; it might not seem fair, but most people who end up going that popup route admit that they’re in it for the money. Nothing wrong with trying to make money, but I won’t do anything I hate to anyone else.
Thanks for sharing your insights, Mitch. I’ve never gone as far as to find ways to protect my copyright, though I’ve chased after content thieves in the past. Might look into Digiprove some time. I have a few blogging regrets of my own. In fact, I actually started a series a couple of years ago on blogging mistakes that I never finished. Another one of those things in my always growing To Do list. 🙂
Thanks for visiting Shai; as you know, I’m a long time big fan. 🙂 Ah, those horrible long term goal lists; I have a few of them also and I decide not to go looking for them because I might depress myself. As for those content thieves… hate those people to pieces!
Got a lot of solid advice here. It definitely took time for me to find my writing voice and I still work on improving it.
Image wise you might want to explore unsplash or Pixabay as sources to get some great photos that are free for use on the blog.
Jack, you do well with your voice; trust me on that one. 🙂
I do use Unsplash from time to time, along with a few other sites I’ve learned about along the way. Early on though I never even thought about images, and I have had an encounter with one of those photo companies about violating copyright without knowing I was doing it, which will throw a brief scare into you that’s for sure. Never any worries on that front if you use your own images. lol
Great tips you have shared that will benefit others. I find that when we share what we would have done with others, they can resonate and therefore not repeat the same things we did.
When it comes to writing, I like the way you put that. Being prepared with articles before one publishes a blog, is a great way to know if they are up to that challenge. Advice I wish I had done when I started too.
Most importantly, set something up for email subscribers. It took me two years to figure that one out lol. I’m in the same camp as you ….I hate pop ups and never would even read them. Just look for the X to get it away….or even better…leave the darn blog post if is too annoying. I know well how you won’t go near those darn things.
Sometimes I do think “If I knew then what I know now” but the journey we take is a good one only if we learn by it.
I should probably talk to you to see what you’ve done regarding email subscribers, although I’m once again back in the camp asking myself why I should do it; flip flop! lol Truthfully, I think there are some things I’d do and others I wouldn’t do based on the lessons I’ve learned over all these years; maybe that’s another post that I need to write. 🙂
These are all things I wish I would have known about when I’d first started blogging. However, I will say that by the time I did start my (previous) blog, at least I had found my writing voice.
I can only say it was because I’d practiced by writing articles for websites like Ezine and Hubpages first.
But even though I had become comfortable once I’d set up a blog, it still took years to clean up my style a bit. Maturity takes time and a lot of practice.
When I compare my earlier writing to my current work, I can see the difference. But you’ve gotta start somewhere.
Absolutely Dana. That’s why I had to rewrite a lot of the content before I could finish my last book. What a mess; I’m surprised I had any subscribers to my newsletter at all! 🙂
Worthy information for the Bloggers or let me put it this way – for Genuine Bloggers like me who consider this article highly informative. Writing Voice is a mandate and it comes only through learning,discussions and regular practice.
Thanks for sharing a wonderful piece of information.
I do what I can. I hope you find your writing voice to be sufficient.
A highly informative article.
Am sure that information on this article will help the beginners.
The details that you shared on startup blogging will guide them in a good manner.
thank you and have a great day.
Great article. Impressively described whole blogging technique for new bloggers in just 5 steps. I personally not like to use my own pictures to any of my blog. And never thought of making any post copy write.
Thanks for the beautiful explanation.
No problem. I can understand not wanting to use pictures of your family and yourself but if you took scenic pictures those would be fine.
Yes that sounds fine to me…but the pictures should suit your blog posts too. Thanks a lot.
Says who? lol True, with many things an image should suit your blog post. There are two problems with that though. One, if you write on the topic of blogging, just what kind of images are supposed to match up with that? Not every niche has images that fit the topic, so sometimes you get to go with something that’s nice. Two, have you ever noticed that the big time websites with articles on all sorts of stuff mainly put up either scenic pictures or pictures of attractive women that have nothing to do with the topic? This proves that if you can’t match the topic something nice will do.
Yes. Agreed. Something is better than nothing. I will think from your point henceforth. And will try to add appropriate images to all my blog posts.
Can we do copyright for my logo and images in my blog?
What most people who are photographers do is add a watermark to their images. I do a totally different route & copyright all my blog posts. If someone takes my entire post, they’ll take the pictures and I’ll get them on a copyright violation.
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