Trying something new for the first time can elicit a whole range of emotions. Whether you're nervous about the outcome or excited for the new challenge (or both!), there's always that element of the unknown.
And I'll bet anyone who starts blogging for the first time can relate. Will people read my posts? Will it be worth the return on investment? Will I be able to handle the workload? All fair questions, my friends.
But as the saying goes, you never know until you try. Just ask the Cat in the Hat.
Luckily, you're not the first person to start blogging. So I thought I'd share some of the things I wish I knew when I first started blogging for HubSpot five years ago. Hopefully it will help extinguish some of the anxiousness you're feeling about "the unknown."
What I Wish I Knew Before I Started Blogging
1) Success Doesn't Happen Overnight
I'm gonna give it to you straight: Blogging is a long-term investment. Success isn't going to happen overnight, and blogging isn't going to give you quick wins. It takes time to get indexed in search engines, get discovered by the audience you're trying to attract, climb the rankings, and build up a dedicated following of readers. According to our Marketing Benchmarks From 7,000 Businesses report, the average company will see a 45% growth in traffic when increasing total blog articles from 11-20 to 21-50 articles. In other words, the more content you create, the better your blogging results -- and building up to that amount of content takes time.
But remember: Most good things don't come easy. And that's okay! Because even though blogging is a long-term investment ...
2) ... The Content You Create Now Will Continue to Work for You Over Time
That's one of the greatest things about blogging. Sure, something like paid search will give you much quicker returns, but those quick wins come at a cost (literally). And if you want to keep getting those quick wins, you'll have to keep paying for it.
With blogging, on the other hand, the content you create today will continue to generate results long after you first hit "publish." Case in point: 73% of HubSpot's blog post visits in February 2014 were to posts published prior to February. In fact, 33% of HubSpot's blog post visits in February 2014 were to posts published prior to 2013!
So if our blogging team decided to go on vacation for a month, we'd still generate 73% of the traffic we generated the month before. Pretty amazing, huh? And when you consider the fact that all those posts are optimized with calls-to-action for lead generation, the long-term ROI of blogging becomes even more evident.
3) There's Always Something to Blog About
"But what if I run out of things to blog about?" Believe me: You won't. There will never be a shortage of things to blog about in your industry. Your industry is always changing, there's always news to cover, and with any given topic you choose, there's always a new angle, a broader or deeper scope, or a different format to try. It's not always easy, and sometimes writer's block hits you hard, but I guarantee you, there will always be something to write about. And hey, if you ever need help, that's exactly why we created the free Blog Topic Idea Generator!
4) There's More to a Successful Blog Than the Content
There's no question that quality content is critical to the success of a business blog, but at the same time, it can't thrive on quality content alone. Content strategy, design, optimization, lead generation, production, promotion -- these are all critical components of an effective blog. In fact, they can add up to a full-time job in and of itself. Trust me -- it's mine! But I never even thought about these components of a blog when I first started blogging for HubSpot. For a beginner blogger, this can be both a blessing and a curse: A blessing because putting emphasis on these components can set your blog apart, help it grow, and make it successful. A curse because, like I said, they can be a full-time job in and of itself. And as a result ...
5) ... Writing & Editing Aren't the Only Skills a Blogger Needs
To build an effective business blog, you not only need writing and editing skills; you also need various inbound marketing skills. You need a knack for analyzing data to understand what's working and what's not on your blog. You need design resources to build your blog's template and some basic design skills of your own to create calls-to-action for lead generation. You need email marketing skills to manage your blog's subscriber emails. You need social media marketing skills to promote your content. And you need optimization skills to spot opportunities for growth. Think about it this way: Your blog isn't just a promotional tool for your business. The content you publish on it is a product of its own that needs promotion, too!
6) Commenters Can Be Really Mean
It's sad but it's true, and unfortunately, trolls are just a reality of the web. The best advice I can give you is to develop a thick skin and take comfort in the fact that even the best bloggers have haters. Don't let it discourage you. The sunny side is, you'll also find that there are some really valuable, supportive, and positive commenters out there. And if you're ever unsure whether to delete or keep a comment, this is the blog post for you.
7) Writing for a Company Publication Can Be Really, Really Hard
I'm not going to act like business blogging is easy, because there are many ways in which it's not. When you're writing for a company publication and you have a number of different stakeholders to please, there are simply certain things you either can't write about or must tread lightly on. These are things that might be fair game if you were writing for a media publication but are off-limits to company writers. It doesn't mean business bloggers should write scared -- it just means they have to be aware of the limitations and take the proper precautions.
8) But in Other Ways, It's Easier Than You Think
Is blogging a challenge? Yes. Can you do it? Yes. Like HubSpot Staff Writer Ginny Soskey told me the other day, "I thought blogging was this exclusive club I could never join. But once you start publishing a few pieces, it gets easier." The idea of starting a blog -- or even just starting to contribute to one -- can be daunting for sure, but with practice, it gets easier. Topics will come to you more easily, your writing will get stronger, you'll create content more quickly, and the results will follow.
"You can also write more than you think you can," says HubSpot Lead Editor Corey Eridon. Writing not just one post but multiple posts may seem unattainable to you, but you'd be surprised what you're capable of. And you don't have to go it alone, either. Recruiting contributors in and outside your company can be a great way to feed your blog as well as feature different perspectives and fresh ideas.
Have you been blogging for a while? What else did you wish you knew when you started that you know now?