Last update September 3, 2018.
“A year from now you may wish you had started today.”
About 10 years ago a thought popped up in my head.
I wanted to start a blog (affiliate link) to share my own thoughts about the habits I had started to change and about personal development.
So I went online and quickly set one up just for fun and hoped I would get maybe a couple hundreds of readers over time.
Things went a bit better than that. Two of my early articles on social skills quickly took off on social media sites that were popular at the time like Digg and Delicious and tens of thousands of readers poured in during just a few days.
So I thought that I should probably take this a bit more seriously. I started to read a lot more than I had already done. I set up a weekly posting schedule and I started to work more the technical side and on how to get good results on social media and in search engines.
Today this website has about 1 million monthly readers and for the past few years I have been able to do this full-time.
Now, since my start back in 2006 I have made many mistakes. Had setbacks. Made some big progress.
So in this article I’d like to share the answer to one of the most common questions I get in my inbox:
How do I create a successful blog or website?
Here are 41 of the best tips that I have learned during the past 10+ years about just that.
Note: Some of the recommend services – more specifically Bluehost, DIY Themes and Genesis – in this article are linked to via affiliate links which means I’ll earn a commission if you purchase that particular tool or product. If you do, I thank you for supporting me and this website.
1. Find a good name and domain name.
Your domain name is what you type into the address bar to go to a website. In my case it’s for example: www.positivityblog.com
But how do you find a good domain name and name for your website?
Well, here’s how I did it:
- I figured out a topic for my blog. In my case it was positivity and personal development.
- I brainstormed names. After finding the topic I took maybe 30 minutes with a pad and paper and brainstormed possible names.
- I discarded a handful of names. Some because they felt too generic and boring to me. Others because they didn’t describe what the website was about that accurately.
In the end my choice narrowed down to the one I found to be simple to remember and that captured the spirit and topics of what I wanted to write about.
2. Get web hosting.
After you have found your own name or best candidate you need to go and register it online. You can do that at a web host where you’ll also get hosting space so you can store the blog posts, files, images, videos etc. that all together is your website.
One of the most popular (it’s used by over 2 million websites) and most often recommended web hosts – by for example WordPress, Problogger.com and Pat Flynn of Smart Passive Income – is Bluehost.
And Bluehost has been kind enough to give all Positivity Blog/Newsletter readers a limited time offer.
3. Find a good look for your website.
After you have registered your domain name, setup your hosting account and created your website by using the one-click install of WordPress it’s time to find a look for it.
You do that by choosing a theme. There many free ones to choose from in your WordPress control panel.
There are also premium themes that tend to be more professional and include more useful functions.
I’ve used the premium theme called Thesis since 2009 and am very happy about how it has:
- Helped me to create the clean and quick loading look of my website.
- Made it easy to publish articles with great and easy-to-read typography.
A really good premium theme alternative to Thesis is the Genesis Framework. It’s very popular and is used by many top blogs.
4. Start creating the content you are passionate about and share it with the world.
Now, after you have set up the basic technical stuff it is time to ask yourself: what do people want from a website?
If you ask me the answer is simply value.
From a website like mine they want the best and most practical personal development advice that can help them to improve their lives.
From a humor website they might want the funniest videos or comic strips. From a history website they probably want history told in an engrossing and entertaining way.
So value can come in many forms based on what niche your website is in.
The key to creating a lot of value no matter what your website is about is to write, podcast or record videos around one of your passions or biggest interests in life.
By doing so you’ll automatically do a better job and you’ll keep creating better and better content over time. And you won’t get tired or bored and quit so easily before your website takes off.
5. Find powerful topics to write about.
No matter if you write, podcast or create videos you want to do it around topics that are important not only to you but to other people too.
But how do you create content that is more likely to help a lot of people and take off on social media for example?
Two things that have worked for me are:
- What do readers and the people you met in real life ask you about? Answer common questions you get from the people you met online and in real life in your content. If a few people have asked you about the same thing then there are likely a whole lot more in your readership that would like to know the answer.
- Share your solutions to the biggest problems or challenges you have faced. People are often quite similar. So if you can share what has helped you to overcome one of your biggest problems or challenges in life then there is a pretty big chance that it will resonate with a whole lot of other people too.
6. Go the extra mile.
Write a longer blog post than most people may do. Or do a more in-depth podcast.
My most popular articles are mostly the ones I have poured a lot of time into and that are quite long. These articles also tend to do the best on Google because they are simply some of the most in-depth sources on the topic you can find online.
So do the work most people won’t do. I could for example have written just 10 quick tips for this article but decided to go much further than that.
Doing my best and going the extra mile that many simply won’t has – not every time but quite often – brought me many, many readers over the years.
7. Spread the word about your website.
OK, so you got your website up. You got some valuable content published. Some readers may start to trickle in.
But how do you spread the word about your website to really start building your audience?
Well, I got lucky with a couple of social media mentions early on (although the articles that got mentioned were very useful and I did go the extra mile with them).
But what can you do to spread the word if that doesn’t happen early on?
One of the best way I have found to get readers that very likely to enjoy your content and stick with you for quite a while is to guest post on other blogs in your niche.
How do you do it?
- Make contact. Do some googling and simply contact other people in your niche that say that they are looking for guest posts.
- Write something that fits the website owner’s wishes. And you think is a good match for his or her audience.
- Make it easy for the person you are guest posting for. Don’t forget to edit and proof-read and perhaps even format the post before you send it to the website. Make it as easy as it can be for the website owner to just cut and paste the article and hit publish. I used to publish guest posts on The Positivity Blog maybe 6 years ago and I loved it when people did that. I did not love it when people sent me lazy drafts and hoped I would do the cleanup.
- Go the extra mile here too. Write a long and in-depth article if possible, don’t just do the minimum amount of work required. You’ll make the person you are guest posting for happy. And the post will likely rank better in search engines and get more social media mentions.
- Make it easy to become a regular reader. When readers want to check out your site after reading the guest post then make it easy for them to become a regular reader. You can do that by setting up an email newsletter…
8. Start a newsletter.
People sometimes ask me what I would differently if I started all over again today. Well, one of the things I would do and the biggest mistake I made in the first few years was to not start an email list sooner than I did.
You see from 2006 to the start of 2010 only used blogging for my business.
Then in February of 2010 I finally took the advice many had given me and added an email list to my website.
And I am very glad I did.
Here are the huge benefits I have experienced in the past years from having an email list:
- Engagement shot up. I usually get more comments, feedback and personal and inspiring stories from my readers when I send an email newsletter compared to any blog post I put up on my website.
- Blog readers and shares increased. A simple thing you can do is to let your newsletter readers know when you have a new blog post published. And to simply ask them to share it if they like it. I have found this to have a big and positive effect.
- Sales shot up. When I send out an email about a new product or a special offer I usually get double the sales or more compared to when I put up a blog post with the exact same content. And most of my weekly sales of my own products nowadays – probably 70% or more – come from the emails I send out.
- I’m less affected by outside influences. Your popularity in Google search results and in social media will likely go up and down. They certainly have for me during these years. And that can have a big impact on your income and your overall success online no matter what your goal is.
But an email list is yours. It is not something another company can reduce or take away from you. The email list is a form of security for you and your small business in an online world where things can quickly change.
So how do you start an email list?
I recommend letting another company manage your email list. It will cost a bit if you get a lot of subscribers. But it is worth it because then you get someone who really knows what they are doing and the time and work you have to invest will be minimal.
I used to use aweber.com but have recently switched to Convertkit.com. I’m very happy about the switch so far and will share more about why I made it and the upsides I’ve found later on this year.
9. Add content upgrades to your most popular posts to get more email subscribers.
So you’ve created an email list for your website. Now, how do you get people to join your newsletter?
I recommend a sign up form in the sidebar of the website and on your Start Here page.
I also used to suggest adding an email signup lightbox. That’s the small notice you may have seen pop up or fade in on my website and many others where you get a quick invitation to join an email list.
I don’t suggest that anymore though.
Because nowadays Google penalizes websites that use it. If you have one then I suggest removing it to not risk slipping down quite a bit in Google’s search results.
But what can you use instead? I’ve tried plenty of things. And what’s worked best by far in 2018 is what’s called content upgrades.
A content upgrade is a bonus that’s very specific. For example, I got a popular post about self-esteem. And the content upgrade for that specific post is simply a checklist in downloadable PDF format where the reader can get all the tips from that post neatly summarized in a document that they can keep on their smart phone for whenever they need it.
Or print it out and put it up on their bathroom wall for instance.
If someone signs up for my newsletter via that self-esteem post then they get instant access to the downloadable checklist.
Here’s how I went a about creating and using my content upgrades (I’ve got about 15 so far):
- Step 1: Find your most popular posts. Check out your Google Analytics to see what posts have drawn the most traffic from Google search – or you favorite traffic source – in the past month or so. Maybe you have one such post. Or three. Or ten of them.
- Step 2: Go to the post that gives you the most visitors. Open up a Microsoft Word-document or something similar and copy and paste the whole post into your document and then strip it down to a quick summary, a neat checklist or a simple cheatsheet. Spruce it up with some nice colors and/or images and then save your content upgrade in PDF format.
- Step 3: Set up email signup fields in your post. So that readers can sign up for your email list and get the content upgrade you just created. I use Convertkit to deliver the content upgrade to a new email subscriber. Another popular solution for doing that is Leadpages.com.
So what are my results from using content upgrades? Well, my old offer at the end of each blog post where a new email subscriber would get a few free guides in PDF format converted and still converts on the posts where I use it at about 0,2%.
The content upgrades on the other hand usually converts at between 1-2% (a couple of them perform a bit worse than that and a few do even better).
So the content upgrades convert to new email subscriber 5-10 times better compared to the old offer.
The content upgrades take a bit of time to create – most often about 20-30 minutes – but I find them to be well worth that effort.
10. Keep experimenting with your newsletter sign up forms.
When I first added email sign up forms for my newsletter I just quickly put something together and slapped them up in the sidebar, just below the end of a blog post and on my Start Here page for example.
What I didn’t realize then is that you got to keep working with the forms.
Just changing a color in these forms, adding or removing a few words or a sentence can affect how many sign up for your email list. And it could be a big difference. Anywhere between 1-200%.
So take a few minutes each week and run some kind of experiment with a sign up form. Fine-tune them all over a few months and you’ll most likely get a whole lot more subscribers compared to if you do what I did in the beginning and just let those forms sit there week in and week out without any adjustments.
11. Engage by using social media.
Setting up profiles for your website on the biggest social media websites like Twitter, Facebook, Instagram, LinkedIn etc. and sharing your content there and engaging with your readers can also bring in many new visitors to your website.
If you don’t have much time to spare each week choose just one social media website to focus on. You may get bigger returns from doing that than trying to cover all the big social sites and getting stressed out and spending too much time on this instead of creating new content.
Use the buttons you get by installing Easy Social Share Buttons (see tip #11) to make it easy for your audience to share your content with friends and followers on social media or via email.
12. Set up a Start Here page.
When people arrive at your blog via the homepage or an article that they found via Google or Facebook for example they are just thrown in there. They may be confused about where to go next.
So make it easy and help them focus on your best content and what to do next.
One good way to do that is by setting up a Start Here page (I use this instead of an about page, since I think it makes it easier for the new reader to find a starting point).
Here’s what’s on my Start Here page:
- A quick summary of what this website is about.
- A quick summary of who I am.
- A list of some of my best and most popular articles.
- An introduction my premium courses.
- A few sign up forms for my email newsletter sprinkled throughout the page.
13. Add a free bonus for anyone that signs up for your email list.
If you sign up for my newsletter you get 3 free short, concise and downloadable guides. It may take a bit of time to put one or more of these together but they can make a big, big difference for how many new emails subscribers you get each month.
That’s at least been my experience.
And I think that adding a more general bonus like mine or ones that more specifically tied to a post or one of the topics you write about will only become more and more important to stand out and get people to take action to join a newsletter in today’s world where everyone is bombarded with messages via email, social media etc. every day.
14. Add the best plugins to quickly build an even better website.
When you use WordPress then you can customize the functions and look of your website even more to make it a better experience both for you and for your audience.
You do that by adding small programs called plugins to your website. Most of them are free.
Here are my 5 most valuable plugins that I use on my website (the first three can easily be found in the plugin area of your WordPress control panel):
- Akismet – the more popular your website becomes the more spam comments your articles or posts will receive. This one keeps the spammers filtered away.
- Fast Secure Contact Form – I use this on my contact page so people can email me but at the same time it prevents automatic spam emails from being sent to my inbox (you can in my experience get a lot of that if you don’t have a filter like this).
- W3 Total Cache – Absolutely essential. This is a plugin that will make your website load faster and put less stress on your hosting account. It’s very important to have it to prevent your website from crashing when one of your articles or other content goes viral on social media or is mentioned on a popular website and many thousands of visitors may pour in quickly.
- Easy Social Share Buttons – This one is the best social media plugin I have found. You use it for adding the buttons you see on just about every website so your readers can share your content on social media like Facebook, Twitter and LinkedIn. A premium plugin but it only costs $14. Well worth it since it loads faster and looks better than the previous free ones I used to use.
- Ninja Popups – The best $20 I’ve spent on my website in 2015. This one lets you create a popup windows that show up in front of your content and can help you readers to sign up for your newsletter, share your website on Facebook and many other things. It helps me to add about 30% more new email subscribers a day to my Positivity Newsletter. To not annoy people, be sure that his window is only shown once for each of your readers.
Keep the number of plugins you use down. The more you have the slower your website will load for your visitors.
And if a website is too sluggish then Google will not like it. And many new readers will just impatiently click the back button in their browser and go somewhere else online.
15. Don’t forget to do regular backups of your content and website.
It only takes a few minutes and will be invaluable the day when something serious happens (and it most likely will sooner or later as websites crash, computers die and so on).
There are many simple and free plugins for WordPress that can help you with this, simply do a search for “backup” in the plugins area of your WordPress admin.
I recommend choosing one that many are already using, this usually ensures regular updates and less risk of incompatibility with WordPress updates later down the line and less risk of the plugin getting hacked (and as an extension of that your website maybe getting hacked too).
I also think it’s a good idea to save your backup not only on your computer but to keep a copy or two on USB-sticks.
16. Focus on smart phones first.
Back when I started this blog almost everyone visited it from a computer. Fast-forward 10+ years to now and about 70% of people access my website via a mobile phone.
The world has changed drastically in that way in the past decade. And it is important to be aware from that. Because even if you work on your website via a laptop most of your readers will view it via a smart phone.
So when you do updates to the look of the blog then check so it first and foremost looks good on a smart phone. But also on any other devices like laptops and tablets.
The easiest way – and recommended by Google and many others – to make your WordPress website look good on any device is to choose to use a responsive theme for the look and design of the website. This means that look of your website will automatically adapt based on what device a visitor uses and give him or her the best experience.
So when you look for a theme for your blog or website make sure it is responsive (if it is then that’s always mentioned in the description of theme).
17. Think about security before you get hacked.
I didn’t and I got hacked several years ago because I used an old version of a plugin + an old version of WordPress. And it was a few very stressful days before I got it sorted out.
I would recommend not making my mistake. It will make your life a lot easier.
Here are 3 steps you can use to make your WordPress website more secure:
- A better password + username. Do a bit of googling to find out how you can use a safer username and password for WordPress (and other logins you may have in your life).
- Security plugins. You can find many free and highly rated plugins in your WordPress plugin panel that will help you to beef up the security.
- Always keep your WordPress installation updated to the latest version. You only have to press a button and it just takes a few minutes. By doing so you avoid someone sneaking in through a security hole in an older version of the software.
18. Speed is becoming more and more important.
Nowadays speed is more important than ever. People surf the web via smartphones and other devices in record numbers and if you want to get them to read your website then you want to it to load quickly. Otherwise those potential readers will likely hit the back button and move on to someone else’s website.
How fast your website loads is even an important factor in how high your website will place in Google search results.
So it is critical to think about how you can get that speed of your website up.
Let me share a few tips that have helped me to get started with that:
- Step 1: Go to Tools at Pingdom and put in your website address to see how many seconds it takes to load the website at this moment.
- Step 2: Look at what is not that important and you can remove from the sidebar of your website. It could be badges from various sites, ads that bring in very little revenue or extra images that do not fill much of a function to your readers.
- Step 3: Install the W3 Total Cache plugin as mentioned above. It will help you quite a bit with the speed of your website.
- Step 4: Stop displaying how many likes you have. If you have like buttons on your posts from for example Facebook or LinkedIn that display how many likes/upvotes you have from each social media network then that can drag the load times down. I chose to stop displaying how many likes my posts got from each network and only kept the buttons. It made a big difference. You can also choose keep the number of likes but display buttons from fewer social sites, maybe just 2-3.
- Step 5: Now go back to Tools at Pingdom and do another speed test. How much faster is your website now?
19. Know how to not run out of things to write about.
One of the most common questions I get when I met new people in real life and I tell them about what I do is this one:
“Don’t you run out of things to write about?”
Many aspiring bloggers have emailed me about this over the years and shared their worries and difficulties with this.
I have sometimes had trouble to come up with topics and content for new posts over the past 8 years but it has frankly not been a big issue overall.
Let me share some of the best tips that have helped to make the creation of new content into a relatively easy and fun process.
- Always keep a capture device close by. Ideas can come to you at any time and if you don’t write them down then they can easily be forgotten and lost. So write down every idea for a blog post that you get and then evaluate if it’s a good and useable one later on. I use a memo app on my smart-phone for this when I am out and about. And my computer when I’m at home.
- Find inspiration from books, movies and conversations. You can get many ideas for new posts by just keeping your mind open in your everyday life.
- Keep reading and listening and pick up inspiration. Stay up to date and deepen your knowledge about your niche. Read books and blogs about it. Listen to podcasts and watch videos. When you have new ideas flowing into your mind each week and month you’ll come with new stuff yourself. Or combine what you have learned. Or you can share your experience with what you learned from someone else.
- If you have already written a lot about a topic, zoom in on a smaller subtopic. I have written about happiness many times. But I have also taken out pieces from such posts about being grateful or overcoming perfectionism and expanded those subtopics into full and deep posts.
- Write several posts about a certain topic. If you have written about the best fishing lures once then don’t be afraid to revisit the topic later on. People need reminders to get inspired and to take action. And you’ll learn more about the topic along the way and may have a slightly different view now that you can share. Plus, you’ll get new readers that haven’t read what you wrote a year ago.
20. Reminder: You don’t have to publish a new post each week.
Plenty of people have over the years said that you have to publish at least once a week to be competitive and to grow your audience. I didn’t say that but I did post a new article on my website nearly each week for years.
But some time ago I asked myself: could I spend more time on 1-2 posts, publish less often and still get new readers?
So I tried it. I scaled back to publishing only 2-3 times a month for several months (instead of my usual 4-5 times).
What happened? Well, the audience did not only grow. It grew faster.
Because I was going the extra mile more often and I was writing better and more in-depth articles. And so I got more new readers via Google search and had more hits that went viral on social media.
21. Write headlines that attract readers.
This can make a huge, huge difference for how many will actually read your content or listen to your podcasts.
If you don’t have a good or a great title then few people will have a look. No matter how good the content may be. So I suggest to do a bit of research on this topic. By doing so you’ll give all that effort you put into your content the best chance it can get.
A few of the best templates of sorts for attractive headlines that I have used over the years are:
- How to X: 7 Simple/Effective/Powerful Steps (or Tips)
- 7/10/21 Smart Ways to X.
- The Quick and Simple Guide to X.
- Famous Person’s Top 10 Tips for X.
22. Use images to create more attractive posts.
I like to start most of my articles with an appealing photo.
I think it sets an intriguing, positive or exciting tone for people before they even start reading the article.
It also helps an article to pop and to stick out if it’s shared on for example Facebook, Pinterest or other social sites. And that will help you to get more people to click and to read or listen to what you’ve created.
I like using Unsplash for many of my images. Flickr is good too, just remember to check the license for the image so it can be used for the purpose that you want it for (like for example in a commercial context).
23. Format for easy readability.
A big mass of text for a post can make a potential reader just sigh and turn around before they have read your first few paragraphs.
So break your text up instead.
Use bulletpoints. Images. Subtitles.
And lots of white space (more than you would use in a book or printed document since it is harder to read on a screen without getting tired compared to a book page).
Make your post easy to take in to both help your reader and yourself.
24. Get to know your readers even better by using a simple survey.
After you have been at it for a while and you have a small audience then one simple thing you can do to be ever more helpful and to increase your audience – and income – from your website is to use a simple survey.
You see, when I created my first e-book in 2010 then I just put together some material I thought could be good. The e-book did go on to sell well but that was mostly just luck. It could have bombed and I could have spent months on something with little income to show for it.
I highly recommend to not take such risks with your energy, time, motivation or income.
Nowadays I usually do an online survey from time to time for my readers.
I set it up at SurveyMonkey in 15 minutes or so. Then I put up a blog post and send an email about it where I ask my readers to just take two minutes to fill it in so that I can help them in an even better way.
I limit the surveys to just two questions so as many as possible will actually answer the questions.
The two questions I used in my most recent survey were:
- What is the # 1 topic, problem or challenge would you like me to write an article/newsletter about? For this question I just leave an open text field where people can write whatever they want.
- I am thinking about creating a new product. How interested would you be in these practical, step-by-step products? Here I list a number of e-courses I am interested in creating and let people tell me how interested they would be in these courses on a scale from 1-5.
My most recent survey helped me to write some of the most popular posts on my blog. It helped me to find out what courses I should focus on creating next.
Plus, it helped me to understand that even though I was quite interested in creating one course my audience’s interest in that course was very small.
So get to know your audience better. Not only by reading the emails and comments you get.
Put in a few minutes to create a simple survey and you’ll get great ideas for what content you should focus on creating.
25. Add a frequently asked questions section to your contact page.
When you have been at it for a few months then you may notice that the same questions are emailed to you over and over by your readers.
To decrease the amount of email you have to process from your readers – especially the ones you are just going to say no to most of the time anyway – simply write out and give an answer to each of the most common questions you get.
For me that’s for example if I publish guest posts, if I sell ads on my website and if I swap links.
I don’t do any of those things and this simple FAQ section on my contact page saves me quite a bit of time each year that I can use for writing and creating stuff instead.
26. Don’t be afraid to spend a bit to grow (don’t make the same mistake I did).
For the first few years of blogging I didn’t want to spend any money except if it was absolutely necessary.
I would recommend not making that mistake. Yes, hiring expensive developers or consultants for several thousands of dollars might not be what you need.
But always trying to go for the free or inexpensive option instead of investing a bit of money into better hosting, premium plugins and programs can really hold you back.
Not all of my investments into my website has paid off. But most have and in a very good way. In a way that has caused me to many times say to myself: “Wow, I should have spent that money years ago”.
Do your research to find the best services and products in your price range. And don’t be afraid to spend a bit of money to speed up the growth of your website.
27. Start planning further ahead.
I found that I got more traffic to my website and I did a better and smarter job when I started to not just plan for the coming weeks but for 3 months at a time and when I also added a rough 1 year plan.
Having to scramble for new content for your website is not a good long term plan if you want to truly add value to people’s lives and grow your audience.
But if you create a realistic plan for how much time you’ll have for creating for your website in the next 3 months and you fill that plan with what you think are good or great ideas for new posts or podcasts then you will start creating some true hits with readers or listeners (even if not all of those ideas will resonate as much with your audience as they may do with you).
If you have started to create a product of your own start adding time to work on that too to your 3-month schedule (and see how later parts of it can fit in into your rough 1 year plan).
And be prepared to revise both your 3 month and 1 year plan several time because, in my experience, you’ll discover things along the way that will either force you or inspire you to make new decisions.
28. Be patient and find a realistic road map.
Success rarely comes quite as quickly as we may like. No matter in what area of life.
And no matter what you do or dream about people will always have opinions and ideas. And that’s fine and just life.
But the important thing here is to be careful about who you listen to and whose advice you may take action on.
Learn from people who have actually done what you want to do. By doing so you can build a realistic roadmap and time table towards your own success.
A few blogs that have grown a lot, that are very successful and I have learned a lot from in recent years and that keep me up to date are for example Smart Passive Income by Pat Flynn and Quicksprout by Neil Patel.
29. Set one or two concrete and measurable goals.
Just writing or podcasting week after week without any goals or dreams about where you want to go can leave you feeling stuck or unmotivated after a while.
So what concrete and measurable goal do you want to set for your website?
Do you want to, for example…
- Have 10000 email subscribers a year from now?
- Be featured on one of the biggest websites out there or national media?
- Earn $1000 a month from this side-business within 6 months?
- Write and get a book published in 12 months?
Pick one or possibly two goals. Write it/them on a note and put that note where you can’t avoid seeing it every day (like for instance on your laptop).
30. Almost all people will be nice. So don’t let the fear of criticism hold you back.
When I started to write online I was often nervous or fearful about what people would think about my website or my latest post.
Now, first off, if a fear of being criticized is holding you back from starting your own blog then I can tell you that in my close to 9 years of blogging 97% or so of the comments and emails I have gotten have been positive and supportive.
If anything, starting a blog has added a ton of more support and kindness from people all around the world to my life that I did not have before.
So in my experience, there is little to fear. And much to gain.
But still, there will be criticism from time to time. And even nasty attacking emails popping up in your inbox.
What to do then? 3 tips that help me are:
Really listen to the criticism.
First, ask yourself: is there something here that I do not want to hear but that could help me to improve?
And if you like, ask the one critiquing a follow-up question or two.
There is not always something to learn but it is smart to at least keep your mind open so you do not miss opportunities.
And if a whole bunch of people share the same piece of criticism then always take time to really think things over.
Realize: Not all criticism you get is really about you.
It is easy to fall into the trap of thinking that as soon as anyone criticizes you then you are to blame and need to adjust how you do things.
But the truth is that a quite a few people are hurting. They might be angry about something. Perhaps they have had a bad day or year.
Or they have a job or marriage they hate.
So they lash out to release pent up negative emotions.
And you may just be in the wrong place at the wrong time to get a really angry or upset email or blog comment.
Don’t feed the trolls.
Some people will come in and just try to troll you or attack your via comments or email. It is not that common but it happens.
You don’t have to engage this person or play along. Just delete such a comment or email and move on to something else.
31. Write like you are writing to a friend.
This is a simple but very useful tip for setting right the tone, using the right language and to not get performance anxiety when the amount of regular readers start to add up.
Don’t look at a new post or newsletter as something going out to many people. Look at it and write it like it was going to just one friend of yours (I have sometimes also used the perspective of writing to my younger self).
32. Proofread your post out loud.
If you do then it becomes so much easier to see if a sentence needs some restructuring or to catch a missing word or letter in your text before you publish.
I highly recommend doing this one to get a better flow in your text and to reduce the number of mistakes.
33. Rework something you know deep down is good but didn’t work the first time.
You know you have blog post that’s really good. You have put a lot of thought and plenty of hard work into it. And then, after many hours, you hit publish.
But it doesn’t take off like you had dreamed of. You don’t get the positive reactions you imagined.
When that happened to me a few years ago I’d just let such a post go. I’d forget about it and it would be lost somewhere in the archives of my website.
Nowadays when this happens I come back to it a bit later on instead (maybe 3-12 months later).
I go through it again. Polish it. Try it with a better and snappier headline. Add some new things I may may have learned or simply forgot to mention previously.
Then I give it another try with my audience by simply republishing it. And this simple process has worked wonders for some of my posts that at first may have seemed like duds.
34. Check statistics, social media and inboxes late in your day or hour of work.
No matter if you do this full-time or just an hour a week I would recommend to focus on creating first during the time you have available each week.
And to wait with checking social media, your inboxes etc. to the end of your work hour or work day. Do what matters the most for the growth of your website first to actually get that important work done and to not get lost in procrastination on Facebook or Instagram.
35. Don’t clutter the website.
Know what is most important and what you want your readers to focus on. Don’t confuse them with too many options or a messy layout. Eliminate what is not essential.
For me the most important things are:
- Email subscribers.
- My premium courses.
- Social sharing.
36. Take a look at what other people out there are doing on their websites.
I have found that one of the best ways to improve my website is to pay attention to what other people out there are doing. Find a few bloggers or other websites that seem to really have things figured out or that you admire.
Then simply check in with their websites periodically.
And when you’re there ask yourself questions like:
- How is this website set up from a design and function standpoint?
- Where have they put the email sign up fields?
- Where are their social media buttons/section?
- What do they prioritize on the website?
- How do they make money from this website or business? A service? A product? Both?
- What affiliate products do they recommend?
And so on.
Don’t steal anything from anyone. But get inspired and get good ideas for how you can, for instance, spread your content even better across the world, connect even more deeply with your readers and improve the income from your website.
37. Don’t sit for long periods in front of your computer.
Spending too long periods in front of the computer and in a sitting position can, in my experience, negatively affect both the quality of the work I do and my health.
I find it a lot better to cycle fully focused work and then rest. Working in 20-40 min bursts and then taking a break and getting away from the computer – to take a short walk, do some stretching or having a snack while standing – helps me to keep my focus sharp longer both during my work day and towards the end of the work week.
And cycling between working in front of the computer in a sitting and a standing position is also something that helps me to avoid smaller pains in hips and my neck for instance (and probably plenty more than that in the long run since we nowadays know that sitting too much isn’t that healthy).
I find that changing the position of my body in this way also helps me to focus for longer periods and to be more creative too.
I’ve been using one of IKEA’s desks that you can raise and lower for about a year now and it has been working very well for me (the desk is called BEKANT).
38. Be real.
Share both your mistakes and your successes.
Don’t just try to paint a rosy and perfect picture of yourself.
I write a lot about my failures, bad habits I used to have and how things do not always go perfectly.
And I think it’s a strength if you can find that balance and be more human and real. Because people will trust and listen to you more.
That’s at least what I do when someone shares her ups and downs and what she has learned.
39. Be you.
This one ties into the previous tip. Don’t just share your successes and setbacks.
Share who you are by:
- Having a nice photo of yourself on your website (I have one on my contact page, start here page in the sidebar of all posts).
- Writing about your life and your interests on the Start Here page.
- Sometimes mentioning your hobbies, what you are up to at the moment, an odd quirk of yours or something that displays who you deep down are in what you write or record.
Seeing you smiling or doing whatever you do on your photo together with a quick biography and sometimes a detail or two from your life in your newsletter creates more of a human connection.
40. Affiliate promotions can be a good way to start/diversify your income.
A popular and in my opinion good strategy to get started with earning some income from your website is to promote someone else’s product of service via an affiliate program. What this means is simply that when a sale of this product is made via a link on your website then you get a provision.
It’s a helpful thing when you are new and may not have a product or service of your own to sell yet. And still very useful even when you have a whole bunch of courses like I do to diversify your income streams.
My most commonly used strategy when it comes to affiliate promotions has been to promote them with a fair and honest review to my email list.
But if you do that, then only pick really good services or products that you have a lot of faith in yourself. Otherwise you’ll quickly undermine the trust your readers have for you. And it’s simply a bad idea for many reasons to promote a bad product or service for a quick buck when there are so many good ones out there in all kinds of niches.
41. Create an income from your first e-product.
This article is mostly about how to start and create a successful blog or website. But I wanted to end it by sharing a little bit about how I make a full-time living from my website.
Over the years I have tried many ways to find an income from this website. Ads worked OK but not much more than that. Promoting the best books from Amazon related to what I write did not work so well. Other affiliate programs have worked better.
Here are a few quick tips to help you to get started with that:
- Start with what you are passionate about. It will be hard to keep going for weeks or months until you are done with your e-book or e-course if you aren’t excited about the topic yourself.
- Do a survey. After you have figured out maybe 3 topics or ideas for a product it’s time to see what you readers want and need. Use the questions from tip #16 to figure that out.
- Break the project down into small pieces. After you have found the topic your audience is most interested in it’s time to get started with your product. It may feel huge and daunting if you are just used to writing blog posts.
So I highly recommend to write a plan for what you need to do to get it done and then break that plan down into small steps. Take just one small step at a time – like writing a couple of pages of a draft for chapter – to keep moving steadily forward and to not get stuck in procrastination.
There’s a lot of content in this guide. Maybe you feel a bit overwhelmed.
To not procrastinate and tell yourself that you’ll get started someday make a small start today:
- Come up with a good topic and name for your blog or website.
- Take 5-10 minutes and make good use of the special deal from Bluehost. Click here to sign up and get a 63% discount on your web hosting + a free domain name
Then just take it step by small step. Bookmark this page and go through each tip and apply them one by one to your own website.