So you have decided to start a blog and want to know what are the prerequisites, right? This page will clear some of those doubts. Before you read on, ask yourself a question
Why are you starting a blog? What is the final objective? What do you want to get out of it?
Do you want to
- Earn money from your blog, convert it into business and make a living online by writing content?
- Want to establish yourself as an expert on a niche and use that expertise to drive your business or other objectives?
- Want to have an online presence?
- Just write about the things you love and care about
Depending on what your objectives is, the answer to the above question will vary. However, here are a few things you should know if you are starting a blog for the purpose of making money online
1. It takes time to make money online from blogs
Making money from a blog takes time and it depends how much hard work you put in, what skills you have, how you market your blog and thousands of other things. Don’t expect that you will start earning from day one, it won’t happen. If that happens, it is possible you have had some prior experience and you are not a beginner.
It could take anywhere between 1-3 years before you make any money out of your blog. Don’t expect to earn in a few months, you will be disappointed.
2. It takes lot of hard work, self-learning and hustling
Making money from your blog is not like a day job where you crack an interview, go to an office and after 30 days, you start earning a pay-cheque. It takes lot of hard work to build upon a skill set, learn stuff, hustle until you get it right. Improving your writing skills itself might take a year or two, learning SEO and getting the concepts right will take a couple of years, understanding codes, programming, tweaking your server will take some time and there are lot of other things which will take some hustling before you get it right.
In short, it won’t be smooth. It will be full of roadblocks. Don’t expect it to be a smooth journey.
3. Nobody will tell you the secret sauce
Look, here is the truth. Brutal truth.
Nobody will tell you the secret sauce which made their blog successful. Yes, people will show you the way but they won’t tell you the exact process how they did it for their sites. I am writing this blog to be as helpful to you but you won’t know my exact journey anyway. It is because no two journeys are the same, everyone’s journey is unique.
So is yours.
You will have to discover the secret sauce yourself and compound it overtime. There are lots of resources online but at the end of the day, you will have to discover what works for you. This is something nobody can help you with – you will have to explore it in your own way and it will take a good amount of experimentation.
4. You will fail many times
You will start with great enthusiasm but overtime, that enthusiasm will fade. You will feel like quitting.
95% of bloggers quit within the first year of starting their blogs. The reason – they lose motivation, reason and the fuel for carrying on. The rest 5% carry on for a while and out of these lot of people quit their journeys due to various reasons. Only 1% people are able to carry it forward.
To carry this forward, you will fail many many times. You will fall and get up, fall again, get up again, fall and get up. This cycle will continue till the time you don’t stop getting up. The day you stop getting up from failure, you lose since the entire journey is full of potholes and you will keep falling all the time in some way or the other.
5. You will have to learn technical things
If you already knows technical things, that’s great. But if you don’t know, you will have to eventually learn these things to completely customize your blog and take control of it.
Here are a few things you will need to learn in order to master the technical side of your blogs
- HTML, CSS
- cPanel, Server Maintainence, Database maintenance
- How to design your blog, make logos, use different tools of the trade.
- SEO (search engine optimization)
Sure you can always hire people and get the job done but it would be easier if you learn these things yourself. Eventually, you will have to since you cannot rely on a third party for customization of your website and will need to tweak things according to your wish and fancy. So yea, if you don’t know these things, you will have to learn it.
6. You will have to experiment all the time
Blogging is mostly an experimentation business. There is no recipe which anyone can apply and be successful. Everybody has to experiment all the time. What works today will not work tomorrow. Today you might have lots of traffic but tomorrow, all that traffic will be gone.
It happens all the time.
I had a site which used to generate $2000 a month and it was a good source of income for me until one day, it got hit by an algorithmic update and lost 80% of the traffic. Eventually, the revenue tanked and now it makes around $200 a month. I don’t update it anymore since the site has little ways to survive. I failed to experiment on that site and find an alternative way when the conventional way collapsed.
This will happen with you as well. Your plan A, plan B, plan C and plan D might not work at all and you will have to experiment your way to find the plan that works. It happens with every single blogger whose objective is to make money online from their blogs. Ask them, you will know.
7. You will have to master writing, copywriting and communication skills
When you are starting out, you might not be that great in writing and communicating a thought. But as you walk the path, you will need to improve your writing and communication skills to the point that you are able to keep readers on your site. Your readers should derive real value from your content and unless that happens, they will simply close the browser window and go somewhere else to find that value.
Now since you are in the business of content, your writing skills have to be at par. If your writing is broken, people can hardly understand what you are talking about, don’t expect a breakthrough. You will fail in retaining readers and the traffic will decline.
When the blog gains some authority and traffic, the challenge grows many folds. Now you have to ensure that your readers get good content everyday and that your blog is the “Go to resource” for a specific subject. If it is not, they will abandon and find your competitor.
8. Monetization will suffer, no matter how you monetize it
You can monetize your blog through different channels – you can try contextual ads like Google Adsense, you can try affiliate marketing, you can sell products and services, you can do a lot of things.
But regardless of whatever you do, monetization will suffer because that is the nature of business. No business in this world runs smoothly and no monetization channel is without bumps. If you have decent traffic in your website, it will be affected when a new algorithm is introduced and your revenue may decline. You will have to figure out alternative ways to float, this is what every professional blogger does.
Don’t expect that once you have set it up and work hard, revenues will continue to climb and won’t dip ever. It will dip and will dip to significant levels. Then you will need an alternative way to get around that situation, which you will learn from experience and hustling.
9. Your readers do not care about your content
I might sound rude but this is what I have realized in my 10 years of writing blogs.
The readers do not care about your content or your website. They care about the solution of their problem. The readers are not loyal to you, they are loyal to the person who provides the best way that solves their problem. The moment they find a better resource than your site, they will leave you and this is how it works in every business.
Say you have a grocery store where you have 10 customers who are loyal and come to you since decades. If a new store opens near you which gives 20% discount, these customers will forget that loyalty and queue up in front of that store to take the discount.
There is no such thing as reader’s loyalty and they will abandon you for their benefit.
10. You will have more enemies than friends
As your blog rises in revenue and reputation, you will start having more enemies than friends. People will try to hurt your reputation on the web, they will write bad things about you, you will receive hate emails and comments, people will spam your Facebook page, hackers will attack your website and worse things will happen. This is the hazard of running an online business and you will have to bear it.
Every blogger bears these hazards and as your blog keeps going forward, these hazards are bound to come. You will need to overcome this on your own.
The good side is that you will make online friends as well.
11. People will troll you on the internet
When you are blogging, you will make mistakes.
There will be times when you will post wrong information, you may misinterpret something and write about it and people will point fingers towards you. It is quite natural and it happens with every creative.
The moment this happens, there will be trolls who won’t miss this opportunity to troll you. They will tweet you, ping on Facebook, write on your Facebook page and do whatsoever things to gain attention and troll you – you will have to deal with it in your own way.
12. Most people won’t understand what you are trying to do
This is something which I and many bloggers I know have experienced with their blogging journey.
Most people in your society will not understand what you do to make a living. And that’s fine, not everybody has to know what you are upto. They will ask you –
“What do you do to make a living?”
— I write blogs and have different websites which makes me money.
This answer is not acceptable to everyone and they will not understand what you are upto. And this is where a conflict of interest will arise, especially with people who are into full time day jobs or traditional people who have never taken risk in their lives and have always stayed in the safe zone.
They won’t understand you and what you are trying to do and that’s perfectly fine, so long you understand that it is natural for people not to understand an unconventional way of making money.
13. There will be times when you will be extremely lonely and depressed.
This is another dark side of blogging and running an internet business on your own – loneliness and depression.
When you work a full-time day job, you will most likely have an office, have colleagues and have a fixed schedule everyday which will keep you connected with the “Real world”. However, when you are a full-time blogger, you necessarily do not need an office and may not have colleagues. In that case, you will be a loner and sometimes you will have to fight depression.
I recommend working out from a co-working space or a shared office where you go everybody to write your posts, tweak your website and do not work out of your bedroom. This will keep a healthy schedule and you will be in touch with different people, make friends so you won’t be lonely.
Blogging is a lonely profession and it is upto the blogger to find like minded people with whom he can mix in “real world” to fight loneliness, boredom and depression.
14. Your competitors will outrun you and there is little you can do
In any business, there will come a time when competitors will outrun you. What you have built for years will be challenged by newer players entering the market. This is quite natural and this will happen with your blog as well.
You will see that the specific line of business which you used to dominate once, you are not able to dominate anymore since the audience has now flocked to another player.
There is little you can do here but try to improve your offering. Remember, the day you started your own business, that day you did the same thing to someone else – challenge someone else’s business with your offering. The same thing is applicable for you as well.
15. You will want to go back to a day job
This happened with me and it changed me for good. It taught me lots of lessons which I will share in a separate post.
When you are dependent on your blogs for a living, there might come a time when you lose most of the traffic due to ranking and algorithmic changes. It happened the last time when Google introduced Panda, Penguin and subsequent updates which completely changed the landscape of bloggers across the globe.
Sites which used to rank higher in search results lost lot of their rankings while sites which were not ranking started ranking higher. This re-jig can have a sever impact on your site’s revenue since if you are not ranked in the first page of search engines, you will not get much traffic and if you do not get traffic, there will be no revenue.
At that point in time, you will start to question the stability and sustainability of this business. You will think – Let me go back to a day job and do blogging on the side. A day job pays me a salary while an internet business is very unstable.
It may happen to you, it happens with lots of bloggers. And many blogger friends I know, have quit their jobs again to start blogging full time.
So the take away here is that you might want to go back to a day job, if blogging does not work out as you had expected.
16. You will realize that “Being your own boss” was a misconception.
When people start blogging, they think that they are their own boss. They can decide their own schedule, what to work on, when to work and everything else.
Trust me, this is a myth.
Trust me, there is no such thing as “Self Employed”
Who is a Boss? What is the definition of a Boss?
Someone who tells me what to do and in return gives me a pay-cheque. So the real Boss is consumer, the people who read your content and use your website on a daily basis.
So if you think you are your own boss, you are wrong. Your website visitors are your boss and they will decide the future of your website and business. So you are not really your own boss, you are answerable to your readers and if you fail to produce good content and keep the readers engaged, they will go away, find a different resource and you will be in trouble.
17. You will have to re-invent the business every few years and maybe even consider selling it
Starting an online business is hard. Maintaining it and retaining it is even harder.
With time, newer challenges will emerge. You will have to re-invent the business model every once in a while and ensure unit economics of the business is correct and your business floats despite turbulences. Something which works for one blogger will not and may not work for another blogger. What works today will not work tomorrow. Nothing is set in stone.
You will always need to tweak the screws and adjust your business. A time may come when you will realize that investing time and energy into one digital property is no longer worth it and then you will need to find an exit by selling it to a seller. This happens all the time and its not abnormal to sell a website where you have put in years of hard work and sweat.
This is not meant to discourage you to start a blog for making money online. What I am telling you is the brutal truth behind starting a blog to make money online. It is important to know ground realities first before jumping into something, so if you are starting out thinking blogging as a viable career option, do give it a second thought.
Let us know your thoughts in the comments section below.