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What do You Know Now About Blogging that You Wish You Knew When You Started?

Hindsight is a wonderful thing isn’t it?

While I’m the kind of guy that spends more time looking forward than dwelling on the past – I’m a firm believer that from time to time it can be a worthwhile exercise to look back on our experiences and let them help shape our future.

So today’s reader question asks you to do just that:

What do You Know Now About Blogging that You Wish You Knew When You Started?

Perhaps it’s some method of finding traffic, perhaps it’s about your writing style, it could be more about how you interact with readers, maybe it could even be something to do with a blogging tool that you’ve discovered or it could even be that you wish you’d never started.

I guess another way to ask the question would be – name one thing you’d do differently if you could start over?

Looking forward to your answers either in comments below or as a post on your own blog (if you do post it – just leave the link below so we can check it out).

About Darren Rowse

Darren Rowse is the founder and editor of ProBlogger Blog Tips and Digital Photography School. Learn more about him here and connect with him on Twitter, Facebook, Google+ and LinkedIn.

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Comments

  1. Vincent Ma says:

    I fortunate, in that I was pointed in the right direction when I wanted to start my blog. However, I still made the same mistakes as everyone else. I started on Blogger and after a month migrated to my own domain with WP.

    The one thing I really, really wished I knew when I started was how important it was to carefully setup the permalink structure. I started with the default and realized I should have used something like category, postname. Saved by Dean’s Permalink Migration Plugin.

    All the best,
    Vince

  2. I wish I’d known more about wordpress (and I still don’t know).

    Other than that… I dunno… somebody take a look and tell me what I’ll regret later?

  3. Rose says:

    About the thing that I only really regret is that I didn’t start adding Adsense sooner. Even now though everything is a learning process (like the replies have already said).

    I really don’t think that I really regret anything about my blogs – except the Adsense thing – because no matter how long I have had my blogs I’m still learning.

  4. James Lim says:

    I wished that I had known about blogging much earlier so I could start much earlier than I had now.

    Apart from this, I wished that I knew about how to market my blog more effectively right from the start so I wouldn’t have wasted my first few weeks….

  5. Bret. says:

    I wished I had just focused more on producing content on a regular predictable basis. I’ve gone through a week here and there where I just didn’t have time to post. If I had a reserve of posts to draw from I could have filled those low stops with something ready to do. I feel that the dry spells had a negative impact on my slowly growing readership. I would highly recommend to all new bloggers to create a stock pile of posts ready to fill the dry spells and to just focus on establishing a good routine for creating content. Once you have that, go ahead and start to focus on other aspects of your blog.

  6. Michelle says:

    @ 60 in 3. Don’t feel bad about the name of your blog. I have no idea what it means, but it sounded cool enough for me to click on your name the last time I visited this site.

    Me, I wish I had hired someone to do the graphics and tweaking of my blog’s code *before* I went live. It looks awful.

  7. Rebecca says:

    I wish I had been a blog reader before become a blogger, but all things considered I’m not discontent.

  8. I wish I hadn’t moved my old blog and reestablished a new blog at the old domain. I lost my PR5 rank doing that. Ouch!

  9. Jason says:

    Ad positioning. I went from placing my ads in yellow zones in the beginning, outside the content, then finally I found a code for positioning ads within the content. If only I had known the importance of ad placement in the beginning I would have made a lot more money!

  10. Jennifer says:

    I’m still new but I’m sure I’ll have regrets soon. I learned a lot from everyone’s posts. Just wondering why wordpress is so much better than blogger? Anyone? (I’m using blogger and obviously am not aware of what I am missing.)

  11. Randy Hill says:

    I’ve been blogging for awhile and I still don’t see the attraction of working with WordPress. I have one of my blogs in WordPress and the others in Blogspot. WordPress is infinitely more difficult to use in my opinion. I know the advantages of having my own personal URL using WP, but I truly hate the app! Is that so wrong? I’m sure someday soon I will eat all of my words in this post. ;P

  12. Randy Hill says:

    Jason – would you mind sharing how to position ads with content? Does that create any ill will with readers, or do they even care?

  13. I started my blog 15 days ago. Before I “jumped in” I had done a lot of blog reading and research. And I had previously started a blog that went nowhere because I didn’t have enough content since I wasn’t as involved with the topic offline as I planned to be. Then I did extensive planning for another blog (which I still may do because I think it’s a great concept), but I just haven’t felt ready and I’ve followed that instinct. In the meantime, I got involved in a new hobby that I developed a real passion for and decided to transform my defunct blog into a new one in that topic area. What has surprised me the most is how easily the content has flowed and how absorbing it is to work on the site. I can’t say I regret that path I have taken, because it has taught me what I needed to learn, but I wish I knew:
    1) If you are passionate about your topic you won’t have to “construct” content, you just have to “shape” it.
    2) It’s really fun.
    3) It can take up a lot of time, but if you’re passionate about your topic it’s time spent in an area that you care about and that gives you life.
    4) It’s a great way to be part of a community in a topic area you love.
    5) There is ALWAYS more to learn that you eventually will look back on and say “I wish I knew (or did) that earlier!”

  14. Realizing I’ve been blogging since *at least* 2002, find myself regularly wishing I had consciously predicted blogging’s future the way I’ve recognized other trends before they were.. Health plays a prominent role so I just don’t kick myself as hard as I might otherwise.. ;)

    Cyber hugs..

  15. Hi Darren. Here’s a blog post I prepared in response:

    http://blogging101workshop.blogspot.com/2007/06/what-do-i-know-now-about-blogging-that.html

    Thank you for this!

  16. Jason says:

    Randy

    “Jason – would you mind sharing how to position ads with content? Does that create any ill will with readers, or do they even care?”

    I wrote a little about it here. http://payperclickinternetadvertising.net/node/15

    See ya,

    Jason

  17. Jason says:

    “Does that create any ill will with readers”

    You see Darren doing it at the top right of his content.

  18. Jason says:

    “I’ve been blogging for awhile and I still don’t see the attraction of working with WordPress. I have one of my blogs in WordPress and the others in Blogspot. WordPress is infinitely more difficult to use in my opinion. I know the advantages of having my own personal URL using WP, but I truly hate the app! Is that so wrong? I’m sure someday soon I will eat all of my words in this post. ;P”

    For some reason I can’t stand WordPress. I use Drupal.

  19. Margie says:

    Just because someone else has written about it does not mean you should not write about it too, because your post may offer information or insights that the reader has not encountered before. There are several hundred Battlestar Galactica blogs and when I started this job I was extremely concerned about duplicative content, which meant when big news came out I missed some opportunities to offer comments/posts on major developments … a definite error.

    Also, I wish I would have known that creating a blog post can be like an appellate brief, sometimes you just have to wade in. Start with an idea or a link and research and let it grow as you find more info, edit out earlier stuff, etc. Just wading in is more productive than staring at your blank screen in fear! And when you get done, after a bunch of “drafts” you usually have something decent.

    Then, save your post for later or post to the future and reread what you wrote after you walk away from the computer for a few minutes. It is good for catching stray words or odd coding that will embarrass you later.

  20. junger says:

    “If you build it, they will come” does not apply to any type of Web sites or communities.

  21. Sue says:

    For those wondering why blogspot is so wrong, it’s not very configurable. And unless you know a little coding, that bar across the top is a distraction. Finding a good theme is next to impossible, and I at least, would like my theme to match the content. I have one personal blogspot blog, but the others I have started are using wordpress.
    The other thing I would do differently is not put a blog on wordpress.com. There is really no configuration with it unless you pay, and if you’re going to pay, you’d be better off having your own domain, your own site.
    I still have one on there, but I now have four other blogs, all on my own personal domains. None of them make any money, or even get much traffic yet, but they are very focused (like one for haunted lighthouses as a companion to my hauntedlights.com site).
    And wordpress is very easy to work with, and very customizable. I love it. I’m still learning all its features, but you can’t go wrong with it.

  22. zool says:

    whoa too many comments…
    how I got this many visitor…
    I’ll got 2 blogs but only one in English .. Coz I’m not good in this language .. But still learning …

  23. Terra says:

    I wish that I’d skipped over the whole free blogger to wp.com sites and just gone straight to my own domain. I’m just started the planning for a launch of my own domain, based on part on my personal blog and the one that I write professionally for – I’m finding so many bumps along the road and feeling semi-anxious about the launch already and it’s still quite a ways in the future!

  24. Rhys says:

    I’d

    - Move to my own domain sooner.
    - Move to wordpress sooner.
    - Monetize sooner.
    - Do better to keep hold of readers.
    - Try not to be so sparodic with my postings.

  25. Joanna Young says:

    What do I wish I’d known… still finding out!

    Probably not to agonise over blog writing. It’s best just to keep turning them out, even if that means some are lower quality (in your mind) than others. The pieces I think are gems are not necessarily the ones readers like, link to or comment on. There’s no point fretting over it. Your readers are always right… or at least there’s always something to learn from their reactions.

    By the way I’d find it useful to hear your views Darren on the question of links opening in a new window (comments 28 and 30 here). I was tutored to set them up to open in a new window so I didn’t lose visitors, but I see other people think it’s ‘spammy’. Discussion of pros and cons would be useful. (Apologies if it’s already on this site somewhere – I’ve not looked yet)

    Joanna

  26. Brandon J says:

    I still wish that I didn’t concentrate on the money part of it. I have less than one hundred readers and I can tell my site isn’t very “sticky”. Most of my deicions are financially based and I wish I could just write content without worried about how much money I’m making.

    The same thing as the other 70 some odd posts above me basically.

    Brandon J
    Money for Military

  27. Zen Zoomie says:

    I wish that I had started earlier instead of just thinking about it. It took a swift kick in the pants to get me to finally stop thinking & start doing, but I finally have.

  28. chris says:

    These are all great comments. My buddy got me into WP before I got too far along, and my website is hosted. So, I think I’m on the right track. Any feedback is appreciated.

    http://www.40hourstogo.com

  29. Rob Schaumer says:

    I wish I had never taken a break. I was feeling drained and took a two week break. That was in December of 06. Six months later I am just getting back into my blog. My traffic dissapeared my momentum was lost. I guess in a way I get to start from the beggining again.

    1.BE passionate.
    2.BE real.
    3.BE consistent.

    DON’T do it just for money.
    DON’T be a sellout.
    DON’T stop blogging.

  30. pearl says:

    I started blogging recently and am learning a lot from this blog from each post. My biggest regret is that I didn’t keep up with all the free blogs I started years ago. Had I kept up with them and stuck with blogging even when there was no traffic, I would have been in much better shape today, knowledge wise!

  31. Dana says:

    I’m not blogging professionally, or anything, but I do wish I had a better idea of what I was doing when I started. I didn’t really know what a blog was and mostly just started it to see what it was all about.

    My purpose has changed a couple of times, and my url is not something anyone could remember if they tried. Probably not the best for maintaining a readership. But I have known some of my readers since the very beginning…a little over two years now!

  32. Danielle says:

    1. Read blogs. I wrote my first month’s worth of posts without reading another blog. Once I started reading blogs, I learned about the importance of layout and text formatting from my own reading experiences.
    2. Less is more. Concise and clear writing captures a larger audience. Too much flashiness in blog design take any from the content. Catergory tags should be kept to the minimum keeping the “feel” of a blog more focused especially true for personal blogs.
    3. Memes increase your audience. The weekly memes such as Wordless Wednesday, Thursday Thirteen and Manic Monday can be consciously utilized for your own niche and bring a wider range of readers to your blog. I have gained a fair amount of “regular” readers through utilizing memes.
    4. Audience Interaction. This should be the first guide toward good blog writing. Asking questions on a theme encourages your blog to evolve into a community.

  33. Steve says:

    Modelling. True excellence in any area requires an ongoing effort to model others who are already the best at what they do. I started modelling a little late, but nonetheless it’s a very powerful tool.

    Model your way to success….

    Stephen Martile
    http://www.stephenmartile.com
    Personal Development with NLP

  34. Dean says:

    Get started.
    Get yourself a wordpress blog (hosted if you are unsure on tech matters however self hosting is not that hard) and start a personal blog.

    You will learn by getting wet, you will make “mistakes” we all do, but you learn by doing.

    The blogosphere is quite forgiving but each day you delay you fall further behind.

    There are plenty of great resources to get you started, so read a couple and start. Feel your way around then up the ante.

    Identify your niche, register an appropriate domain, self host wordpress, pin your ears back and go.

  35. I wish I knew that WordPress what lightyears better than Movable Type.

  36. Trula says:

    I’ve always had my own domain name, but I wish I had started using a blogging program from the start. From 02-05 I hand coded my blog, every single entry on it’s own old-school html page. Ultra duh!

    I also wish I focused my initial blog with a theme instead of writing about everything all on one blog. I have since set up different blogs for the topics I write about and link them to my books and/or zines.

    Time is the biggest factor for me now in making my blogs profitable but I am confident it’s going to happen!

  37. K says:

    I guest blogged daily for 2 years,
    yes, you read that right,
    daily for 2 years,
    before getting my own domain.

    Loved the online buddy
    I was guest blogging for
    but still, it feels nice to have my own place.

  38. Patsy says:

    I have learned so much from other bloggers. I am fairly new to blogging (3 months) but I must admit I have the blog fever!

    Several things that come to mind that I wish I had known when I started…
    1. I wish I knew how important commenting on blogs is. I visited tons of blogs in my learning process and I just recently started commenting.
    2. I could have benefited more if I knew how to use AdSense effectively.
    3. Most of all I wish I had done more research on technorati and tags.

    Thanks for a great blog!

  39. Squib says:

    I began with too many blogs, each of which represented a component of what I enjoyed writing about. After awhile, I discovered that I was writing primarily about two things all of the time, poker and politics, so I merged my blog into a single entity and found my niche.

    I wish that I had realized this much earlier, it would have saved me a lot of time.

    Also, it is important to know your reasons for blogging. If it is commercial, then traffic is very important, otherwise it’s nice to be read but it’s not necessary to be read by the thousands to have a successful blog.

  40. Just a month into blogging and focussed more on cheap ppc for getting visitors as I underestimated networking, and did not focus on getting link back and other automated features provided by wordpress. I am now focusing on these aspects and hope to do better.

    Chandra Mohan

  41. Ankur says:

    Well I wish i had considered ad placement an important task in Adsense….just by making a slight change in my ad location …i have seen my revenues growing 6 times.

  42. Alvin says:

    I’m quite new to blog. I always regret for what I do not know when I started. If I knew it earlier, I would be saving much of time.

    First of all, I wish I knew how important is a domain for a blog. I cry for it… If I knew it earlier, I would be in a better domain now instead of SUBdomain.

    Moreover, I also wish I knew how powerful is email-subscription. Email subscription could bring me back lots of old readers.

  43. Sreejith says:

    I wish I knew Problogger when I started blogging. I find real utility with Darren’s advices.

    I wish I knew what Social Media is, when I started blogging.

  44. tanya says:

    I wish I knew that it takes so much time. It’s different when youre in school – you have that time, but with a full time job and two blogs at which I “should” post daily – I’m tired all the time.

    I also don’t use WordPress – I use Movable Type and I have no regrets about that. I don’t mind all the WordPress love, but I’m just throwing something else out there that’s pretty good too. I think MT is more customizeable if you dont want to rely on a free theme (in my experience), but I am jealous of all those cool WP plugins.

  45. sara says:

    I wish I had known about WordPress when I started my website. I was posting all my content as separate pages, and any time I wanted to change the design of my site I’d have to go fix each page individually. Now WordPress makes it a lot easier.

    I also wish I’d looked into all the different hosting sites out there instead of just going with the first one I saw. Now as my website’s growing, I have to keep watching my bandwidth and other stats. I don’t want to switch hosts because my site will be down for a few days and who knows how loyal my visitors are.

  46. Hey Darren: Posted a little answer and explanation here: http://www.onlinecashflow.org/2020-hindsight/ – Take a look!

  47. I wish I’d started out using WordPress.

  48. There are about 5-10 very successful blogs that use blogger and other free blogs like for example (seth godin, postsecret, etc).

    They are not on wordpress and still have tons of readers and subscribers.

    I think that content is what makes the blog not the platform.

    So to answer the question: I wish I would have started blogging in 2001 instead of 2006.

    -ah

  49. I wish I had known that your choice of niche will affect your contextual ad revenue by a factor of 100! And that certain niches can therefore never, ever be profitable with Adsense!

    That critical fact gets too little attention in the advice of certain pro bloggers (I won’t name names ;) ).

  50. Like you, I tend to believe hindsight is always 20/20, so looking back is often a waste of time. However, with that said I would have started with my own website in the beginning. I used AOL, and I know, I hear the laugh-coughs, but I have a huge group of Irish friends there and needed something simple to use. I was very ill at the time and the simplicity of AOL allowed me to focus on writing. The writing helped me get well, and I gained experience with writing on a regular basis. Once I was sure of my content I began to think of branding. I purchased my website name, migrated the blog over to the new site and never looked back. I wrote for two years on AOL and did once wonder where my branded site would be today if I had started with it in the first place … but then again … would I be well?
    Catherine