Today, my blog makes around $25,000 to $35,000 per month (with peaks as high as $55,000/mo and dips as low as $15,000/mo depending upon seasonality and Built to Blog course launches). But that didn’t happen overnight. In fact, there are a lot of things I wish I knew before starting a blog—lessons that would’ve saved me time, money and a whole lot of stress.
From the day I learned how to start a blog, it’s taken me 10 years to grow my blog to this point, where I now reach 250,000 – 500,000 monthly readers. Like most bloggers, I made my share of mistakes along the way. Sometimes these blogging lessons slowed me down—but I didn’t let any setbacks stop me for long.
Blogging can have a steep learning curve, and there are quite a few things I wish I’d known before starting a blog.
Coming fully to grips with these blogging lessons in my early months of blogging (or better yet—before starting a blog) would have saved me a good deal of time and energy, along with giving me a more realistic idea of what to expect in my first year of blogging.
Whether you’re planning to start your own blog or you’re already a well-established blogger, I hope these actionable lessons can soak in before starting a blog and that they’ll help you grow a profitable blog for yourself, even faster than I did.
23 Things I Wish I Knew Before Starting a Blog that Earns $30,000/mo
- It Takes Time to Make Money Blogging (and Build a Small Business)
- You’ll Make Mistakes with a New Blog and That’s Okay (in Fact, it’s Vital)
- Quality is Much More Important than Quantity with a New Blog
- Building Habits is Essential (Especially When Your Time is Limited)
- Blogging Definitely isn’t Dead (and the Best Time to Start is Today)
- WordPress is Almost Always the Best Option
- Bluehost and Dreamhost Are the Best Web Hosting Providers for Beginners
- There’s a WordPress Plugin for Anything You Want to Do With Your Blog
- You Need to Take Care of Maintenance Tasks Regularly
- Internal Linking Helps SEO and Readers
- Images and Formatting Make a Huge Difference to Your Blog Posts
- It’s Easier to Write Quality Blog Posts by Using a Great Template
- All Blog Posts Should End with a Call-to-Action
- The Headline is More Important than Any Other Part of Your Blog Post
- Keyword Research is Crucial for SEO (and Getting Traffic)
- Link Building from Other Websites is Vital
- Guest Blogging Boosts SEO, Generates Traffic and Builds a Personal Brand
- You Should Build an Email List From Day One (as Soon as Possible)
- Social Media is an Effective Traffic Source (When Used Well)
- Making Money from a New Blog Takes Time (6-12 Months Minimum)
- Brand Sponsorships are the Easiest Way to Start Making Money with a Blog
- Digital Products (Courses and eBooks) are Great Ways to Monetize Your Blog
- Affiliate Programs will Grow Your Blog Income (with Sustainable Traffic Sources)
Disclosure: Please note that some of the links below are affiliate links and at no additional cost to you, I’ll earn a commission. Know that I only recommend products and services I’ve personally used and stand behind. When you use one of my affiliate links, the company compensates me, which helps me run this blog and keep my in-depth content (like this free step-by-step guide to everything you should learn before starting a blog) free of charge for readers like you.
Ready to Start Your Blog?
Check out my ultimate guide: How to Start a Blog (on the Side) Today.
Now without further delay, here are all of the top things to learn before starting a blog—whether you’re a brand new blogger or experienced online business owner.
Fundamental Things I Wish I Knew Before Starting a Blog (and the Mindset a New Blog Requires)
There are a few basic, fundamental things I really wish I’d known from day one before starting a blog… especially when it comes to mindset and setting realistic expectations around getting blog traffic and learning how to make money blogging.
1. It Takes Time to Make Money Blogging (and Build a Small Business)
One of the biggest misconceptions about blogging is that it’s a great way to make money fast, or to “get rich quick”. In fact, it takes a good deal of time to make money blogging.
Now, I’m sure you’re sensible enough to know that you’re not going to launch your blog on a Monday and be at “quit-your-day-job” levels of blog income by Friday afternoon.
When I started blogging, I knew I wasn’t going to get rich overnight. But I’ll admit that I was hoping it’d happen in a matter of months… not years.
How much money can bloggers make?
On average, full-time bloggers make around $45,000—with most bloggers earning somewhere between $38,440 to $51,906. The amount of money bloggers make can vary widely, though. Factoring in part-time bloggers, most bloggers earn very little (less than $1,000 per year), especially in the first year of blogging. As your traffic grows, you’ll have more opportunities to make money blogging and begin earning much more from it. Today, I make anywhere from $25,000 to $60,000 per month from my blog—which makes for a nice cushion of extra savings for me (a very meaningful amount of money).
Over the past few years, I’ve made between $250,000 and $500,000 per year as a blogger (part-time), which I feel is a lot of money and makes a major impact on my quality of life. My blogging income can vary quite a bit depending upon how well certain posts are doing as far as driving traffic and affiliate income, the number of students joining my paid blogging courses, how many freelance clients I accept, and several other variables. Starting a blog (and continually investing in it over the years) is one of the best decisions I’ve ever made.
How long does it take to start making money blogging?
My full guide: how long does it take to make money blogging? breaks this one down in detail. But in short, you can make money from blogging in as little as 1 month, but don’t expect huge numbers right away unless you already have an online audience you’re monetizing with. Getting to a more significant level of income (or having multiple passive income streams) can mean a lot of time to make money blogging at scale. 6 to 12 months is a realistic time frame if you’re able to allocate a meaningful amount of time to growing your blog, but don’t expect to make a lot of money from your blog until you’ve built up a solid amount of traffic (in the 10,000+ monthly reader range), however long that takes you.
While most bloggers won’t typically make six-figures from their blogs each year, there are plenty of bloggers earning much, much more than me—some well into the several hundreds of thousands of dollars each month. Moreover, I’m living proof that it’s possible to start blogging scratch and begin making money from a blog within as little as a few months. Building a profitable blog is all about creating smart habits, deliberately building your readership and finding win-win ways to monetize with them.
All of this is to say that building a successful blog takes time. Not just the time you invest day by day – but also the time needed for your blog to rank well in Google, to build up steady traffic, and to gain a reputation in your niche.
For instance, Ahrefs found that blog posts ranking #1 in Google are likely to be three or more years old.
That doesn’t mean that you need to wait three years or more to see any results, of course. But it does mean that your search engine optimization efforts are likely to pay off more and more over time.
If you want to make money fast, then I’m sorry to say that blogging isn’t a good fit for you.
However, if you want to build a sustainable, growing business that could keep making money for years or decades to come – then blogging could well be the answer you’re looking for.
2. You’ll Make Mistakes with a New Blog and That’s Okay (in Fact, it’s Vital)
As I mentioned earlier, I made a lot of mistakes in my early years working on ryrob.com. And I know I’ll make many more in the future, too.
You’ll make mistakes with your blog, too. It’s completely okay to get things wrong when you’re starting a blog. Sometimes, your mistakes will be obvious quite quickly and you can correct them easily – for instance, perhaps you forgot to add an About Me page to your blog when you first set it up.
Other mistakes might only become clear over time. This often happens when it comes to your blogging strategy. You might not know your target audience, for example, and it may take months before you realize why you need to have a clear target audience in mind whenever you create content.
Some new bloggers get so worried about making mistakes that they keep reading blogging advice and taking blogging courses – and they never start their blog at all.
I’m not suggesting that you shouldn’t read good advice (after all, that’s why you’re here on RyRob ;-)) … but don’t let a fear of mistakes hold you back from taking action.
Making mistakes is a vital part of blogging. It’s only by trying things out, and sometimes getting things wrong, that you can learn and go forward with your blog.
3. Quality is Much More Important than Quantity with a New Blog
When you first start your blog, you might be anxious to fill it up with posts as quickly as possible. You may think that you’ll see the best results by writing lots of content—publishing something new every day.
With lots of other channels for content, too, like social media and guest posting, it’s easy to get obsessed with producing as much as possible.
Over the years, though, I’ve learned that quality is much more important than quantity in the blogging world.
One really helpful, thoughtful, in-depth piece of content is always going to bring you more traffic than ten rushed pieces that you dashed off to meet a self-imposed quota. That one great piece will get shared, linked to, and will be a prime candidate for ranking at or near the top of Google’s search results.
4. Building Habits is Essential (Especially When Your Time is Limited)
When I started blogging, I had a regular full-time job. And I’ve actually just recently returned to having a regular full-time (remote job)—with Close where I used to work many years ago, which I’m super excited about.
Luckily, I’m in a great position to keep my blog going strong—because I’ve built powerful habits during my early days of blogging.
Almost all bloggers, especially newer bloggers, have very limited time for blogging. You’re highly unlikely to be blogging all day, every day. And that means you need to get into good habits: you can’t simply wait for time to appear, because your life almost certainly doesn’t work like that.
As I explained in my top blogging tip about building smart habits, “If you don’t physically block off at least a few hours to work on your blog each week—whether it’s in the mornings before your day job or during the evenings after putting your kids to bed—you won’t make progress quickly enough to stay engaged over the long-term.”
To help you get started, take a look at your weekly schedule. Look for consistent blocks of time you can spend on your blog. Some popular ones for many bloggers are:
- First thing in the morning: Set your alarm 30 minutes earlier, and use that time to work on your blog. Get everything you need ready the night before so you can jump in straight away.
- During your lunch breaks at your day job: It might help to get away from your desk: could you head out to a local coffee shop to grab a bite to eat while you work on your blog?
- In the evenings: If you find it hard to stay focused after a long day, try setting tiny micro-goals for your blogging: not “write a blog post” but “outline a post”, for instance.
- On the weekends: Some bloggers have busy full-time jobs during Monday to Friday and then block out a half-day on a Saturday or Sunday to work on their blogs.
Try to find a time that you can consistently use for blogging, week after week, so that it becomes a habit.
5. Blogging Definitely isn’t Dead (and the Best Time to Start is Today)
The idea that “blogging is dead” or that “no one reads blogs any more” comes up from time to time. You might think this is something new – but in fact, the idea that blogging is over or dead has cropped up every year for more than a decade now. (Just take a look at these examples from 2011 and 2013!)
Blogging absolutely isn’t dead. Over the years, blogs have evolved to take advantage of new technologies and faster internet connections – with many bloggers branching out into YouTube videos, starting a podcast, social media influencing, and more.
But blogging is still going strong, with blog posts standing a great chance of ranking top of Google whenever people are looking for information.
I started my blog in its current form back in 2014. And maybe I’d have got started even sooner if it wasn’t for worrying that blogging was already dead and on its way out.
Now that I’m running a six-figure blog, it’s clear that blogging definitely isn’t dead.
Perhaps you’ve heard the popular Chinese proverb about planting a tree: “The best time to plant a tree was 20 years ago. The second best time is today.”
The same thing applies to starting a blog. You can’t go back and start your blog 5 or 10 years ago – and there’s no point wishing you could. What you can do is get started today.
The sooner you begin, the sooner you’ll reach your blogging goals.
Ready to Start Your Blog?
Check out my ultimate guide: How to Start a Blog (on the Side) Today.
Things I Wish I Knew Before Starting a Blog (About Blogging Platforms and Web Hosting Plans)
One of the biggest hurdles for many new bloggers is choosing the right blogging platform and web hosting company. Here’s what I now know that I wish I’d known upfront.
6. WordPress is Almost Always the Best Option
Are you struggling to decide which blogging platform is best for you? Let me make it simple: if you want to make money blogging, go with WordPress.
It gets a little tricky here as there are two types of WordPress: WordPress.com and WordPress.org.
WordPress.com is the commercial wing of WordPress. It’s a self-hosted blogging solution that gives you basic WordPress software – but it’s not so flexible as WordPress.org, and you won’t have full control over your website.
That’s why I recommend using WordPress.org. It’s a tiny bit more involved to get set up (but it’s still only a 10 minute process!) and investing those few extra minutes gives you far more flexibility in the long-run.
7. Bluehost and Dreamhost Are the Best Web Hosting Providers for Beginners
The WordPress.org software itself is free – but to create a functioning website, you’ll need a domain name and web hosting plan.
A domain name is the URL (often called the address) of your website. Mine is ryrob.com. If possible, you want to choose a domain name that ends in .com as that looks familiar and professional for your readers.
Your web hosting plan is the storage space for your site on the internet. Your web host makes your site available to readers 24/7, every day of the year, all around the world.
Choosing a web host can be tricky, though. Web hosting costs can vary a lot, and you might not be sure what’s a good deal and what’s an expensive rip-off. It’s also important to make sure your web host has an easy way to install WordPress on your website.
While there are lots of great web hosts out there, the two very best web hosts for beginners are Bluehost and Dreamhost.
You really can’t go wrong with either of these. Both will give you a completely free domain name (so long as you sign up for at least 12 months with your web hosting provider), too.
When it comes to choosing Bluehost vs Dreamhost, I’d recommend Bluehost for total beginners who aren’t very confident, as the tech support is superb and Dreamhost for anyone on a very tight budget, as it’s a little cheaper and also offers month by month payments.
As an aside, I know many new bloggers don’t have a budget to spend at all, and that’s ok! Check out my list of the best free blog sites you can use to spin up a free blog of your own (and worry about upgrading some of the functionality later on once you’ve found an audience).
8. There’s a WordPress Plugin for Anything You Want to Do With Your Blog
WordPress plugins are optional add-ons for WordPress. You can add as many plugins as you want to your website. Many plugins are free, though some operate on a “freemium” model where you need to pay to get access to their more advanced features.
Do you want to add a contact form to your website? There’s a WordPress plugin for that – WPForms.
How about strengthening your site’s security so you don’t get hacked? There’s a WordPress plugin for that, too – Sucuri.
Looking to improve your search engine optimization (SEO)? You’ve guessed it: there’s a WordPress Plugin, Yoast SEO, that will take care of a lot of SEO tasks for you.
In fact, for all of these tasks, you’re not limited to just the plugins above: there are multiple other options too.
For lots more recommended plugins, check out my list of the best WordPress plugins.
9. You Need to Take Care of Maintenance Tasks Regularly
One of the very few drawbacks of using a self-hosted WordPress blog instead of hosted blogging platforms like Weebly or Wix is that you do need to take care of some maintenance tasks for your blog.
Keeping your WordPress blog in good shape doesn’t take long, but it is something that you should set aside a few minutes for every week.
I recommend that, at least once a week, you:
Run a backup of your blog’s database (You can automate this using a plugin such as UpdraftPlus.) Hopefully, you won’t ever need your backups – but if you ever do, you’ll be very glad you have them and that you can restore your blog content rather than lose all your hard work.
Update any plugins and themes that need updating. You can check for these under Dashboard → Updates in your WordPress admin area. You’ll see an orange number alongside “Update” if there are any to install, as shown below:
Update the core WordPress software itself. Ideally, you want to do this as soon as an update comes out. Some web hosts will automatically update WordPress for you. If you do need to update, you’ll see a prominent link in your WordPress admin area, as shown above for WordPress 6.0.1.
Some new bloggers worry about running updates in case something breaks. I know I used to be afraid of this. What I quickly learned is that, so long as you run updates regularly, it’s very unlikely that anything will go wrong. Problems are much more likely to arise if you let months go by between updates.
Ready to Start Your Blog?
Check out my ultimate guide: How to Start a Blog (on the Side) Today.
Things I Wish I Knew Before Starting a Blog (About Writing Blog Posts)
A huge part of blogging is, of course, writing blog posts. Most bloggers find that it takes them a little while to settle into their writing voice and style. That’s fine – just keep writing! If you’re struggling to get started, try these blog post ideas that are designed to bring in traffic.
10. Internal Linking Helps SEO (Search Engine Optimization) and Readers
Something I didn’t fully realize when I started blogging is that internal links are really useful and you want to include at least a couple in every single blog post.
The term “internal links” might sound a bit technical, but it’s really very simple. An internal link is a link from one page of your website to another page on your website.
If you glance up a couple of paragraphs, you’ll see an internal link to my article on blog post ideas.
I included that link for two reasons:
- Firstly, because I wanted to help you find useful information on my site – and I want to help you create a successful blog!
- Secondly, because adding links in my blog posts helps to improve my blog’s search engine optimization. Each individual internal link might only have a tiny effect – but the more I link to past posts, the better they’re likely to rank in Google.
Whenever you finish writing a blog post, look back through it before you hit “Publish” and make sure you’ve included at least two links to other posts or pages on your blog—though this won’t yet be applicable when you just write your first blog post (because you won’t have any other posts to add internal links to).
11. Images and Formatting Make a Huge Difference to Your Blog Posts
Like a lot of bloggers, when I started writing posts, I was very focused on the actual writing part. And that makes sense: after all, blog posts are mostly made up of words.
However, I eventually discovered that my posts seemed to get much more attention when they looked good as well. I started spending time choosing great images to fit with my posts. I also used other formatting features, like:
- Shorter paragraphs to create more whitespace.
- Bold text to help key phrases or sentences stand out.
- More subheadings to break up posts into short sections – and to add more visual interest. (Subheadings can also help with SEO.)
- “Tables of contents” on long posts, with links readers can use to jump to the different sections of the post.
- Pull-quotes that stand out and help my posts look polished. You’ll often see pull-quotes used in magazine articles.
Like it or not, we all judge on appearances. And if your post looks boring, readers will assume it is boring. Don’t publish a whole bunch of long, unformatted paragraphs: instead, make your post look as inviting as possible.
12. It’s Easier to Write Quality Blog Posts by Using a Great Template
Read any successful blog and there’s a good chance that the blog posts they write are often produced using a template – or one of several templates. This might not be obvious before starting a blog of your own, but when you look closely, you’ll spot common elements coming up again and again.
You don’t want to spend ages struggling to know which blog topics to write about next, and you don’t want to find yourself having to edit your posts drastically to get them into shape.
Instead, use a template when you write. A simple blog post template keeps you on track, helping you to craft an introduction, main body of your post (usually split into sections), and a conclusion with a compelling call to action.
To make it easy for you, I’ve created this set of blog post templates. They’re free to download and you can use the same template structures again and again.
13. All Blog Posts Should End with a Call-to-Action
I mentioned the “call-to-action” above, and if you haven’t come across that phrase before (or the many other blogging terms here), you might have wondered what it meant.
A call to action is when you prompt your reader to do something. That might be something big, like “buy my new product” – but it can also be something much smaller.
The end of your blog post is a great place for a call to action, as it’s a point where the reader naturally pauses and decides what to do next. Will they open up Facebook? Reply to an email? Turn on Netflix? Or are they going to stick around on your blog?
Some great calls-to-action I wish I’d learned before starting a blog include:
- Leave a comment. Inviting readers to comment on your post can encourage them to offer their thoughts and engage more deeply. It can also be the first step toward building a relationship with an individual reader.
- Read a related post. This is a simple and easy call to action – and one that requires very little effort on the reader’s part. It’s an excellent way to encourage the reader to stay on your blog for longer (increasing the chance that they’ll become a long-term fan).
- Join my email newsletter. This type of call to action works best if you’re offering some kind of incentive for signing up, like a free ebook. If your incentive is related to the topic of your post, that’s even better.
- Buy my product. If your product (or service) is related to your post, then make sure you take the opportunity to point readers to it. Remember, even if you’ve been promoting a product on social media, through your email newsletter, and in dedicated blog posts, you’ll still get traffic to your post from first-time readers who’ve never heard of you and what you offer before. Plus, regular readers may need a reminder to buy.
14. The Headline is More Important than Any Other Part of Your Blog Post
When you’ve spent hours writing a blog post, it’s easy to forget about the headline. You might have a working title that you were using as you wrote – and it’s tempting to think that will do fine for the headline or title of your post.
Something that I didn’t know when I started blogging, and something a lot of bloggers don’t figure out for months or even years, is that your headline is more important than any other part of your post.
Don’t believe me?
On average, 8 out of 10 people only read your blog headline. And if you think about it, that makes a lot of sense. Your blog post’s headline might appear on its own, without any accompanying text, on social media.
In search engines, the headline and a short description are all that people have to go on before deciding whether or not to read your post.
Your headline isn’t just vital for getting readers to click on your post. A poor headline might never get seen in the first place – because search engines put a lot of weight on the headline when deciding where to rank your post for a specific search term.
This means your headline has to do a lot of heavy lifting. It should:
- Use the primary keyword that you want your post to rank for.
- Clearly explain what your blog post is about, so readers know what they’re getting.
- Include compelling features like power words and numbers to encourage people to click through and read your post.
For lots more help crafting great headlines or titles, here are my best tips on writing great blog titles.
Need Catchy Blog Title Ideas?
Try my free AI-Powered Blog Title Generator Tool to get dozens of SEO-friendly headline ideas to make your blog posts stand out today.
Things I Wish I Knew Before Starting a Blog (About Driving Traffic to a Blog)
Before you can start making money from a blog, you need a sustainable flow of incoming traffic. If you haven’t come across the term “traffic” before, it refers to the number of visitors to your site. The more traffic you get, the more money your blog can make.
15. Keyword Research is Crucial for SEO (and Getting Traffic)
Search engine optimization (often abbreviated to SEO) can seem quite confusing to new bloggers. You might well have picked up a few SEO tips and tricks without necessarily getting to grips with the fundamentals.
Use My Free Keyword Research Tool
Try my free AI-Powered Keyword Tool to get dozens of research-backed ideas for keywords & topics to write about on your blog today.
The first thing to know about SEO is that it’s all about keywords. After all, anyone could probably rank #1 on Google if they chose to optimize for a particular obscure phrase that no one’s actually searching for.
That’s not going to help your blog get traffic, of course. Instead, you want to rank for the things that your target audience are likely to be typing into Google.
These search terms are called keywords. They can be a single word, but in most cases, they’re going to be a short phrase.
For instance, here on RyRob, readers often find my blog using keywords like:
- Start a blog
- Best free blogging sites
- How to name a blog
I have posts that rank in the first few spots on Google for those keywords:
- How to Start a Blog (and Make Money)
- 11 Best Free Blogging Sites (to Build a Blog for Free)
- How to Name a Blog (45+ Blog Name Ideas & Examples
As you can see, the titles of those posts use the exact keywords that people are likely to be searching for. This helps Google to match my posts to those search queries – and it also lets readers know that my content will be a good fit for what they need.
Keyword research isn’t difficult and you don’t need any expensive tools. You can find out all about it in my guide on how to do keyword research.
16. Link Building from Other Websites is Vital
When I started blogging, I didn’t quite appreciate just how important backlinks are. A backlink is a link back to your blog from another website. These links are hugely helpful for boosting your Google rankings—because like it or not, authority is established by attracting links from other (more) authoritative websites.
Why? Well, Google views each (quality) link to your site as a vote for it. If lots of people link to your site, that usually means you’ve got high-quality information: they want to share it with their readers, after all.
This is the foundation of Google’s E-A-T ethos, which forms the basis of how their algorithm attempts to rank the best content at the top of organic search results:
- E: Copy
- Authoritativeness: Copy
- Trustworthiness: Copy
You won’t have any backlinks at all when you first launch your blog. It’s important to start building these by getting to know other bloggers and by publishing the type of content that people will naturally want to link to.
A great option here is to interview bloggers or even publish a roundup with answers from lots of different bloggers, like my piece 40 Top Bloggers Share Best Blogging Advice (to Grow Quickly) This Year.
Hopefully, the bloggers you’re quoting will link to your piece. Even if they don’t link to it, they may well share it on social media, and that can lead to other, smaller blogs linking to you from their sites.
17. Guest Blogging Boosts SEO, Generates Traffic and Builds a Personal Brand
Guest blogging is when you write a blog post for another blog, website or online publication. It’s a fantastic shortcut to lots of different blogging benefits—and I wish I’d taken full advantage of it in the early weeks and months of starting my blog.
All bloggers should utilize guest blogging as soon you have the time to begin reaching out to other bloggers and pitch some blog post ideas. Guest blogging is a great way to achieve these three hugely important goals:
- Boost your SEO (Search Engine Optimization: When you write a guest post, you get a “bio” where you can link back to your blog. Assuming that you’re writing for large, reputable blogs, this means a very valuable backlink for you. In many cases, you can also add relevant links within your blog post to content on your own site – another great way to build backlinks.
- Generates traffic: The blogs you write for have regular readers – and at least some of those readers will be curious about who you are and what else you’ve written. They may click on the link in your bio to visit your blog. The best thing about this traffic is that, although it might only be a small percentage of your total traffic, it’s likely to convert well into email subscribers and even customers. That’s because the people coming to your blog from a guest post (a) are already interested in the topics you write about and (b) have read and enjoyed a piece of your content already.
- Builds Your Personal Brand: Although this benefit of SEO might not be immediately obvious, you’ll see its power over time, as more and more readers say things like, “I see your posts everywhere!” By writing for a range of different large blogs in your blogging niche, you’ll connect with the same people in several different places – and the more posts they see from you, the more they’ll come to know, like, and trust you.
When done right, guest blogging will build lasting relationships with other influencers in your niche—and will open doors to further writing opportunities. My guest blog posts are responsible for helping me land contributor columns on publications like Forbes, Entrepreneur, Business Insider, Fast Company and more.
18. You Should Build an Email List From Day One (as Soon as Possible)
You’ve probably already come across blogging advice to build your email list right away. There’s a reason this advice gets repeated by so many bloggers: they regret not building their lists much sooner—and that’s advice I wish I knew before starting a blog, too.
When you’re setting your blog up, launching an email list alongside it can seem like a lot of extra work. And it’s not the end of the world if you decide to get your blog running before having an email list for readers to sign up to.
However, you do want to begin building your email list as soon as you can. If you’re blogging without an email list, challenge yourself to create one before you write your next post.
It doesn’t take long to set up an email list – there are lots of tools out there that make it easy. Check out my review of ConvertKit vs AWeber vs Mailchimp, where I compare three different options for creating your mailing list.
You don’t need to send out anything special to your mailing list, at least not right away. Even if you’re just collecting email addresses and sending out your blog posts, or a weekly digest of your posts, that’s fine. The important thing is that you’re capturing email addresses and keeping in touch so that your subscribers don’t forget who you are.
19. Social Media is an Effective Traffic Source (When Used Well)
New bloggers tend to go one of two ways on social media.
Some embrace social media so enthusiastically that it gets in the way of their blogging. They’re constantly tweeting, creating funny TikTok dances, tweaking images for Instagram, and curating their beautiful Pinterest boards.
There’s nothing wrong with enjoying hanging out on social media, of course – but if all your social media activity means you’re rarely getting round to writing a blog post, then it’s a problem.
Other bloggers go to the opposite extreme. They can’t see the point of social media – it seems clear that anything they post will be lost in all the noise – so they don’t use it at all.
Social media can be a really effective way to get traffic to your blog. However, it’s important to be consistent and find a balance—two things I wish I’d known before starting a blog.
It’s better to focus on one or two social media platforms than spread yourself thin across lots of different places. Choose the blogging platforms that members of your target audience are most likely to use, and aim to post once or twice a day.
Ready to Start Your Blog?
Check out my ultimate guide: How to Start a Blog (on the Side) Today.
Things I Wish I Knew Before Starting a Blog (About Making Money from a New Blog)
Lots of people – me included! – go into blogging with the hope of making money. And I definitely achieved my dream: RyRob.com now makes over six figures every year.
But it took me a while to get to this point. Some of it would have happened faster if I’d known how best to make money blogging. However, I’d have been more optimistic and patient in the early days if I’d understood the reality of how long it takes to make money from a blog.
20. Making Money from a New Blog Takes Time (6-12 Months Minimum)
When you start your blog, you might imagine the money starting to roll in after a few weeks. Maybe you picture yourself quitting your day job after a few short months.
The truth is, making money from a blog takes time. Think 6–12 months minimum. Before that point, your blog is likely to be running at a loss.
As we’ve already seen, it takes time to build traffic to your blog. It takes time to rank well in search engines.
It also takes time to build a reputation in your niche – so that people will want to buy from you.
Most types of monetization also take some time to put into place. We’re going to look at some of the best ones in a moment, but keep in mind that you’re unlikely to have any of them up and running overnight.
If you need to bring in steady money within the next month or two, blogging isn’t the best option for you. Instead, I’d recommend looking for a work from home job or freelance work.
21. Brand Sponsorships are the Easiest Way to Start Making Money with a Blog
There’s no one “right” way to monetize your blog – and most bloggers end up trying a few different things, ultimately settling on a blend of different methods that works for them and their audience.
However, there is one monetization channel that I recommend for beginners: brand sponsorship.
When a brand sponsors your blog, they pay to have their product or service mentioned in a blog post. That might involve you writing the post and reviewing what they offer – or it could mean that they’ll write the content for you and you’ll simply publish it.
This is a great way to monetize early on as you’ll get a fixed fee for each sponsored post. Just one or two sponsored posts could easily cover your blogging costs for the year.
For lots more about blog sponsorship, listen to the interview I did with Preston Lee for my podcast The Side Hustle Project.
22. Digital Products (Courses and eBooks) are Great Ways to Monetize Your Blog
Many bloggers say they wish they’d created their first digital product sooner. It’s easy to put off making a product – perhaps you think that you don’t know enough to write a whole course or eBook, or you think your audience is so small that it’s not worth creating a product yet.
Online courses and premium eBooks are a fantastic way to monetize your expertise. You don’t need years of experience in your niche to do this: you just need to know more than your readers.
In fact, often the best resources are created by bloggers who still remember what it was like to be new to a topic. Most of your readers will be beginners, and your course or eBook could help lead them through all the questions they have as they get started or take their next steps.
Creating your own eBook or course also offers something of great value to your readers. While sponsored posts can be useful income for you, they’re not always of huge benefit to the people reading. Your courses or eBooks can make a real difference – and could even change someone’s life.
23. Affiliate Programs will Grow Your Blog Income (with Sustainable Traffic Sources)
My largest source of blog income (and one of my favorite forms of monetization) is affiliate marketing.
As an affiliate, I’m a blogger (or influencer) that promotes other people’s or brand’s products and services. In return for referring customers and recommending a useful product to my audience, I’ll get a cut of any sales I help generate.
Sales are tracked using a special link, usually called an “affiliate link”. To get this link, you’ll need to sign up for the right affiliate programs in your niche that have a high likelihood of providing value to your future readership.
The great thing about affiliate marketing is that you can support the brands you love while also making some money. I’d always recommend that you promote products and services that you have first-hand experience of: you don’t want to recommend something simply because it offers a high affiliate payout, in case it’s low-quality or even a scam.
Your readers don’t pay anything extra – in fact, sometimes affiliate programs even give you the opportunity to offer your readers a discount on a product or service.
The one drawback to affiliate partnerships is that you do need steady traffic in order to get good results. While you can certainly get your affiliate links in place from day one, you’ll probably find that it takes a few months to build your traffic up to the point where you’re making any significant amount as an affiliate.
Bonus: 5 Examples of Other Successful Bloggers Making Money from Their Blogs
In case you think making money from a blog is some rare stroke of luck, I’ve brought together just a few examples of the many, many bloggers making great money from their sites.
- Michelle Schroeder (Making Sense of Cents): Can a blog earn over $100,000/month? Absolutely: Michelle’s blog Making Sense of Cents consistently earns well over that, through affiliate partnerships, online courses, and more. To get there, Michelle spent 20–40 hours each week working on her blog even when it was just a hobby. As her blog grew into a full side hustle and she was then able to quit her day job, Michelle spent anything from 40–100 hours per week working on it.
- Jon Morrow (Smart Blogger): Jon Morrow is the blogger behind the hugely successful blog, Smart Blogger, where he sells courses that have helped him turn his blog into a multi-million dollar business. He recommends that, as your blog grows, you “invest in a real team”, employing people who are committed over the long haul.
- Preston Lee (Millo.co): I mentioned earlier that I’d interviewed Preston about sponsored posts for my podcast. He’s actually been a guest on my podcast several times – and we co-hosted a show together in the past. Preston makes multiple six-figures each year and told me that his best advice for other bloggers who want to do the same is to “focus on treating your blog like a business.”
- Nathan Barry (ConvertKit): Nathan built a successful blog up to six-figures in blog income by selling digital products, including eBooks and online courses. He then leveraged this success to found ConvertKit, a hugely popular and successful email marketing tool. Nathan recommends pushing through your fear and getting outside of your comfort zone when it comes to making money blogging.
- Grace and Silas Moser (Chasing Foxes): Making well over $20,000 during their peak months, Grace and Silas Moser’s top recommendation for new bloggers is to pre-publish some content on your blog before you launch it. That way, you’re ready to start promoting your site as soon as it’s up and running. Grace and Silas monetized much faster than many bloggers are able to, making enough to travel full-time after just 4 months.
Are There Things You Wish You Knew Before Starting a Blog?
We’ve covered a lot of blogging advice in this step-by-step guide of everything to learn before starting a blog. Please don’t feel you need to take every single point on board before starting a blog of your own, though! Remember our conversation about setting reasonable expectations? 😊
Even if you just pick up one or two key blogging lessons here today, that’s still valuable learning that will help cut down the time it takes to learn how to make money blogging.
I’d strongly recommend you bookmark this guide, though. That way, you can keep coming back as you progress with your blog, picking up one or two new ideas each week. You’ll soon have a head start on other bloggers, simply by learning from these things I wish I knew before starting a blog.
To get your blog started, just follow these six simple steps. It’ll take you about 10-15 minutes … and then your blog will be online and ready for you to start filling with content.
Ready to Start Your Blog?
Check out my ultimate guide: How to Start a Blog (on the Side) Today.
26 replies to “23 Things I Wish I Knew Before Starting a Blog that Earns $30,000/mo”
Thanks Ryan for sharing your wisdom. It takes time for sure to monetize a blog. Building a blog also helps you practice patience 😉 For me, the hardest part is backlinks. I am still writing all my content myself so having to guest post on other site is a lot. Anyway just sharing a thought.
Haha I agree… learning to practice patience has been one of the side benefits of blogging this long, for me too 😂
Keep up the great work, it’s ok if it takes time. One idea to consider with guest posting is if you can find some relationships with other bloggers in your space where you can collaborate to add links for each other in your guest posts (multiply your efforts, get more results for the writing time you do have).
Always your posts are helpful.
You’re so welcome, Somayeh!
Thank you so much for sharing this piece. I’ve always been afraid and lazy about starting and monetizing my personal blog. But I’ve gotten the confident I needed from this post. I’m gonna save this one for reference.
Glad to hear that, Peters! Good luck with your blog 🙏
Very fantastic information Ryan Sir…thank you so Much for this information.
I have just started new blog and this article is going to help me alot.
Love 💖 from India
Keep educating us… Thanks a lot again.
That’s great to hear, DK! I’m wishing you the best of luck with your new blog ☺️
Thank you so much Ryan for the rich content. All this insight will surely help many beginners and wannabe like me to pave the way for the blogging journey.
You’re so welcome, Gary! Thanks for taking the time to drop me a comment ☺️
Ahhh, the early blogs days, I’m honestly missing them
Sometimes I do too 😊
Building myself an IT blog. A lot of good stuff here I wish I knew 6 Months ago. Thank you, sir.
You’re very welcome, my friend ❤️
It takes time to make money. That’s so true. Sometimes, for a year, you got nothing because of money is the motivation.
When you see no money coming in, that is the end of the blog. Disappear in millions of blogs on the internet.
Thanks Ryan for the reminder. It’s true.
Absolutely! You’re welcome, Zaini & thanks for sharing 🙏
This is a valuable guide. You’ve really put in a lot of work to explain these points.
Personally, I’ve found consistency and patience to be difficult to execute. When you write posts for months and the blog seems to be stuck on a spot, frustration can set in.
I’ve bookmarked this page, and I’ll refer to it again. Great job with the post!
Thanks so much for the kind words, Samuel! And I agree with you. Frustration is a natural part of blogging (any business, really). But sitting with it, allowing that emotion to be ok has been a great activity for me to later come back and have more energy with my blog after taking some necessary breaks here and there. It’s easy to forget sometimes that we aren’t productivity robots 😉
Hello “Ryan, I read your article about “23 Things I Wish I Knew Before Starting a Blog,” which is impressive. I can’t say how much I love to read it, your information is 100% original, and I appreciate your work.
Thanks for the kind words, Manish!
Thank you for sharing very informative
You’re welcome 🙂
Making money with blogging is only possible when you have enough traffic coming in daily on your blog.
Thanks a lot for the insights you’ve given me on this content. I hope most new bloggers will be able to use it for their own benefit.
You’re welcome! 🙂
This is an incredible wealth of knowledge on starting up a blog. Thank you for being so intentional and insightful. These lessons learned will help to shorten our learning curve!
You’re welcome, Vinay!