My colleagues and friends often ask me whether they should be starting a blog. They ask me because I have a blog, and not trying to brag or anything but, a pretty successful blog. So they ask me. They want to know if it is profitable to start a blog, or if it is fun to start a blog… maybe it’s a bit of both.
Actually, starting a blog can be the best of decisions and the worst of decisions. That’s because if you set wrong expectations with a blog, you’ll definitely fail. But, if done right, blogging can be a life changing, life defining experience.
So today, I’ll share my experience as a designer/developer turned blogger and I’ll describe whether you should be starting a blog now or not.
I’m assuming that if you want to blog about design and development topics since you are a designer or developer. So I am writing this article keeping professional designers and design students in mind.
So let’s begin.
Let me start with a bad news first. According a study, 92 percent of bloggers only make less than $100 per month through their blogs. And mind you, your income is a thing where “less is NOT more”.
The Money Factor
Thankfully, I realized I knew this thing when I started Designzzz.com and I wasn’t looking for money at that time. I was an art enthusiast and a student of web development. I used to surf the internet for inspiration and tutorials. Then I used to share whatever I found on social media. With time, I realized that I should make a blog and share the content over there. I didn’t start a blog to earn money. I started because I had something to share with you guys. I wanted to share good quality content.
I started this blog back in August 2009. I shared the highest quality content, made lots of friends, bagged lots of praise, made lots of posts, didn’t earn a dime. My first paycheck of USD 100/- didn’t arrive until mid 2010. And if you think that was pretty late, I tell that was pretty quick. These days, people don’t start earning this early (yes, 1 year is quite early).
So, no money? Never?
There is money. There is good money and dependable money. I left my job thanks to this blog. I got married, have an adorable son now. This blog is earning me a dependable livelihood. But, the point is that when you start blogging, you should realize that you must not start a blog purely for the sake of earning. Only those bloggers make anything who start a blog out of passion.
“The only way to do great work is to love what you do” -Steve Jobs
So here’s the conclusion of the talk so far.
If you think you want to share your experiences, knowledge, findings to everyone, and you are not looking to start earning from day one, then you should start a blog. You must start a blog.
Why I Must Start a Blog?
A blog will help you in many, many ways.
- Credibility: the day you start writing, you elevate yourself from all other designers who don’t have a blog. With a blog, you’re an experienced guy. You know more than others because you have a blog. You have something to say.
- Popularity: this is an indirect way of getting business. When you have a blog, it is obvious that you will make readers. They are basically your friends, the more friends you have, the more recommendations you have. The more recommendations you have, the more business you’ll have.
- Gaining knowledge: when you have a blog, you’ll automatically stay up-to-date with the latest trends and happenings of the industry. Your own skills will stay polished.
- Long term business: after a while your blog will start to repay. So, a blog is a long term investment. It takes time but it does pay you back.
So my suggestion is that you should start a blog. If I could be of any help, I will be. Feel free to write to me via email or connect with me via social media.
Getting back to the topic, now I should describe the common mistakes people make when they start a blog.
Common Mistakes of Starting a Blog
I have already defined the biggest of mistakes, which is trying to start earning immediately. People start placing lots of ads, start publishing paid content and make all kinds of mistakes that really hurt the readers.
What you bloggers actually need to do is write for the readers. Not the search engines, not the advertisers, not anyone or anything else but the readers.
When you write a post, think like a reader. What would be the questions in your mind, answer them right away.
Behave like the reader. If you were a reader stumbled upon this post, what would your reaction be. Mind you, readers are absolutely merciless.
Here’s a list of some of common mistakes I see newbie bloggers make frequently.
1. Not selecting a niche
Your niche can be defined geographically, demographically or it can be defined on the basis of interest. Whatever it might be, it has to be very well defined. These days, just a niche is not enough. Make it a micro-niche.
Niche Example: broad category can be sports. It’s niche can be football. A further narrowed niche can be European football. But a micro-niche can be Manchester United Football Club.
Just like that, in designing, a niche can be web design, but a micro niche can be “a blog about UX” or “a blog about increasing conversion rates”.
2. Not setting post frequency
This is something where I got lucky. When I started this blog, I decided to publish four or five posts per week. This turned out to be ideal frequency for me because I had 3-4 hours of free time daily. You should also set your frequency properly. Never ever over do it, but the more posts you can publish the better.
3. Not being a perfectionist
When you start any kind of business or blog on the internet, you are in competition with the whole world. Make sure the quality of your content is absolutely topnotch. Because if the quality of the content is compromised, the reader will think that you actually have nothing to say, yet you’re blogging. Reader’s don’t like this. Readers create demotivational posters like the following for such bloggers.
Basics of Starting a Successful Blog
Oh boy, I just realized that article has gotten quite lengthy, so let me just jot down the tips for a creating successful blog in 2015 and conclude.
A Good Quality Theme
A theme or template must be chosen with great care. It is better to use a premium one that is lightning fast and absolutely neat and clean.
Here are some themes that you might be interested in. Here are a couple of themes for WordPress.
And if you are using Google’s Blogger, which is commonly known as blogspot, you use the following themes.
One thing about blogging is that it is demoralizing in the beginning. You feel as if no one is visiting your blog, no one is commenting. You feel like you are talking to a wall. It’s discouraging as hell. But that’s how you start.
After much effort, you’ll be able to catch attention of a few. But once that happens, the audience will only multiply.
Be a Storyteller
When you dive into the world of blogging, you must take online courses and read books about storytelling. You must learn the art and science of communication. I cannot emphasize enough of how important this factor is.
It doesn’t matter how good is your English (or whatever language your blog is in), or how funny or informative you are. It’s all useless if you can’t communicate your information to the reader. To communicate, you learn this craft. Communication is a whole art and a whole science in itself. You must get to know at least the basics of it.
The idea is that if you want to create a blog, that’s great. But you must want to… you must never create a blog if you are taking it as a business endeavor. Money comes late.
- Select your micro-niche. Select the one you love. Then start writing content on it. Set a post publishing frequency and be consistent.
- Think like a reader. Write for the reader, not the search engine.
- Get a good theme/template, keep your website fast, simple and clean.
- Learn the art of communication and storytelling.
That’s it. If you are thinking of starting a blog and would like any sort of help from me, feel free to connect. I love to help out Designzzz readers.