Over the last 6.5 years, I’ve built blogs in 5 different industries…
…From gossip, to fashion and makeup, to self-help, to the DIYthemes blog, and to Social Triggers.
And throughout the process of building those blogs, I’ve learned these important lessons.
#1 Make Sure Your Domain Name Is Easy to Remember
A few years back, I launched a blog that wrote articles about various self-help style topics.
Originally I launched it as a test. At that point, I only ran blogs about newsy stuff, whereas that blog was about teaching. So I wanted to know if I could do it.
The answer was yes. And I was able to kickstart the growth of that blog quickly by leveraging many of the same techniques I used to grow a news style websites.
The problem was this: the domain was HORRIBLE. It sounded like a major insurance company, and people almost NEVER remembered it.
Every time I’d tell a friend my domain, they’d either mispronounce my domain, misspell it, or just have no idea how to find my website without googling my name.
If you’re struggling with your domain name, there’s a simple cure. THere’s a book called POP! by Sam Horn, and it’s all about coming up with great names (not domain names, but brand names).
#2 Don’t Waste Your Time On Tasks That Don’t Pull In Readers and Revenue
Back when I started blogging, the idea of a “theme framework” didn’t exist.
So, when I wanted to change my font, or the color of my font, or add a sidebar, or anything like that, I’d have to struggle with CSS and PHP.
And before you knew it, instead of writing articles and promoting articles—the two most important things you can do as someone with a blog—I wasted an entire night messing with code.
Here’s what’s funny:
Nine times out of ten, the stuff I spent time tweaking was a big waste of time. It was my way of procrastinating from doing the work that I should have been doing.
What’s the cure? Get Thesis, and let Thesis do all of the heavy lifting for you.
#3 You Don’t Need To Update Your Blog Daily
No joke… that was a HUGE realization for me.
Back in 2007, I ran a gossip site, and I had to update that site several times each day.
I figured, the more content I’d create, the more search engine rankings I’d earn, and the more rankings I’d earn, the more traffic I’d get.
And that worked… back then.
But was the content great? Did the content really deserve to rank in search engines?
And worse, after doing it for about 2 years, I got so burnt out that I walked away from a wildly profitable blog to take a job at a Fortune 100 company.
But then I started experimenting with how often I updated blogs. I realized that you could pull in a ton of traffic by focusing on highly unique and long-form content.
Not only did people like long form content, search engines did too.
That was a revelation because back then people thought that blog posts had to be short, but it turned out that it didn’t. Longer blog posts actually performed extremely well.
What’s the cure? Focus on creating your best content always. And then spend time promoting that content.
#4 Live and Die By Your Email List
By now you know I’m a zealot for email marketing. Ever wonder why?
I’ll tell you why…
I made a huge mistake. When I was running my entertainment site, I received millions of hits in a month.
And instead of trying to convert those people into loyal subscribers… that would continue to read my site forever… I converted them into ad clicks and ad impressions.
I sacrificed user experience to make money in the short term.
And yea, I made a ton of money. But as that site began to lose search engine rankings, traffic dropped.
And as traffic dropped, I started realizing that unique hits meant nothing.
What really matters is how many people want to read every single piece of content you write.
What’s the best way to stay in touch with people who want to read your content?
The email account. People check their email, almost daily. People also rarely change their email.
And unless email dies (which will never happen), once you get an email, you get to keep it forever… or until that person unsubscribes.
In the end though, you’re in much more control with an email list and that’s why I focus on that first and foremost.
What’s the cure? Build your email list. Starting right now. Use a Feature Box, and high converting optin forms.
Now I Pass It To You…
What have you learned from blogging?
Any tough lessons?
Share it in the comments.
About the Author: Derek Halpern runs marketing at DIYthemes, and founder of Social Triggers. To get more tips on list building, sign up to his list here. He's also giving away an awesome bonus for RHH B School. Read the Marie Forleo B-School Reviews.
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