If I Had My Time Over Again As a Blogger

feeling unworthy

8 Things I Would Do Differently As a Blogger

Knowing what I know now, I would do things a little differently.

I started my first ugly blog in 2008.  I didn’t have a clue what I was doing or why I was doing it.  But, at least, it acted as a platform to help me convert more leads into sales.  So for me, it was simply a conversion tool.

I would send people to my blog to improve my posture with them.  More posture, means more respect.  It was something I instinctively knew was a smart thing to do.

I knew nothing about SEO, backlinks, and keywords (search engine stuff).

That said, my first blog made me money, no doubt about it.

Yet millions of bloggers the world over fail to make any money from their blog.  In fact, I wrote about this topic recently in a post called The Shocking Truth About Most Bloggers.

Anyway despite my lack of early knowledge and professionalism, I made sales and money from my various blogs over the years.  Please note that I didn’t make ANY money directly from my first blog.  Nor did my blog generate any traffic.  I made money because my blog boosted my credibility, no other reason.  That said, if I had my time over again I would do things a little differently. 

Read on and take note of my mistakes and vow to learn from them.

1. It’s Not About SEO

When I started my second blog something had changed.  I had read a lot about SEO (Search Engine Optimisation) and decided to put all my efforts into using it to get traffic flowing.  I had bought some courses on the topic and became convinced this was the way to go.  Here was the drill:

  1. Keyword Research
  2. Create content around the keywords
  3. Optimise each blog post for the search engines
  4. Pay someone to do some backlinking

Did it work?  To a degree, yes.  I did get some of my content ranked on the search engines.  But then a few years later Google started imposing penalties on people who were gaming the system which meant their rankings dropped.  I was one of them.

Here’s another thing – being overly focused on keywords can easily cramp your creativity. Despite what some people say, it does constrict writers from giving full vent to their ideas. At least, that was my experience.

Does that mean I don’t do SEO anymore? No.  Some articles I write have the search engines in mind, whilst other don’t.  Frankly, it’s more important to cater to the needs and interests of your audience than use every trick in the SEO book to get your content ranked on the search engines.

So if I had my time over again with that second blog I would be more focused on my audience and create content that hits the spot for them every time.  If that happened to coincide with a benefit from an SEO point of view, all to the good.

2. Audience Clarity

What is the profile of your ideal customer?  Are you crystal clear on it?  When I first got started, I was targeting business opportunity seekers.  I was quite clear about the needs and wants of my audience.

But as I dove into new markets (e.g., marketing courses etc to affiliate marketers) it became less apparent.  I think this lack of clarity slowed my progress and wasted resources on campaigns that didn’t exactly hit the spot with the people I was targeting.

So the takeout for you is to be crystal clear about the needs, pain points, and aspirations of your target market.

3. Improved Messaging

Last year I made a concerted effort to improve my messaging.  Previously I had been a bit shoddy, a bit slapdash.  Sure I had fans who liked my content, but I wanted to cast the net wider so figured one way to do that was to improve the quality of my writing and my video content.

Not only that.  I also became more focused on the needs, wants and concerns of the various audiences I now target.  Your aim should be to score a bullseye every time you create some content.  Am I at that place yet?  No.  But when I look at the content I created five years ago and compare it to now, there is a marked difference.  So, follow my lead!

4. Immediate Networking

Looking back, I see a big weakness.  I wasn’t engaging people online in any way.  Shame on me.

Online networking is similar to offline – we must reach out to people who are at our level and above, and then cultivate them.

The idea is to make friends with other marketers in your niche and perhaps even some complementary niches.

Why is networking so important? Four reasons:

  1. Antidote to Loneliness.  Let’s face it, working from home can be a lonely, soul destroying experience.  People are social creatures and need to interact with others to maintain motivation and mental stability.
  2. An Aid to Engagement.   If you check some of the posts on this new blog you will see some good engagement happening.  The key point is that most of the comments made have come from other bloggers, that I previously reached out to.  Bare in mind that this blog is only a few months old – proof positive that networking works!
  3. Can Open Doors For You.   As you build relationships with others some opportunities will present themselves.  For instance, you could score some guest posts on other people’s blogs.  What a great way to gain access to their audience – for free.
  4. Affiliate Partner Opportunities.   If you develop your own product you’ll want to get the sales flowing quickly.  Rather than waste money on ads why not tap into their network?  Other bloggers may well be delighted to promote it to their audience.

5. Better At List Building

I should have been more focused on list building right from the get go.  No doubt about it.  But not only that I should have learnt more about opt-in bribes and squeeze pages, to encourage more people to opt into my list.

Further, I should have been better at cultivating people once they joined my fledgling list.

6. Get My Head Right

A saying I sometimes make is this: ‘we are facing an eternal battle between the forces of good and evil in our minds’.  And it’s true.  Even though I made money quickly I could have done so much better if I had maintained a relentlessly positive demeanor, particularly after I experienced setbacks.

If you take anything from this post, please make sure it is this point.  It’s critical that you get your thinking right from day 1

7. Focus Like A Laser Beam

Although I don’t get easily swayed by the entreaties of the latest get rich quick sales pitch, I admit a few of them have seduced me over the years.  If I were more focused, I would have had more success, faster.

This is where goals and purpose become so important.  The stronger they are the less likely it will be that you get blown off course by distractions and the froth and bubble of the get rich quick instant gratification brigade.

8. Be More Persistent

If I had another chance at this game, I would want to have more sticktoitiveness.  This may come as a surprise to those who know me.  They see me as being a persistent son of a gun.  In fact, when I first started out in the sales game (working for a life insurance company) I was given the moniker, Mr Persistent, by my manager.

Although I am naturally persistent, I am not always consistent.  Or to put it another way – after setbacks I would tend to go into my shell for a week or two thereby losing precious time and momentum, only to have to crank things up again from a low level.

So yes I am extremely persistent but along the way, there were too many ups and downs for my liking.  I suggest you keep an eye on your emotions in the early stages.  Fear and lack of belief can cause you to experience wild emotional swings which of course is not conducive to doing business.

Stay the course!

Your Turn – Time to Comment!

What was your biggest takeout from this post?

If you had your time over again, what would you do differently?

Make a comment below!

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30 thoughts on “If I Had My Time Over Again As a Blogger

  1. Hey Kim,

    Ahhh..the good old days of Google. You could just build links and rank your way to the top, pretty much. In the Netherlands, with little to no competition – this used to be the case.

    Links are still important nowadays, but Google has become so much smarter. Honestly, I’m glad too because it has forced us all to step up our game.

    SEO is still something to keep in mind, but it’s not worth it to obsess over it like you said.

    Hitting that bullseye every time you publish a piece of content is hard. Especially when you are a freelance writer writing for multiple audiences. But we get better through practice, it’s amazing when you look back at your earlier stuff, right?

    You have definitely found your way in networking now Kim, no doubt about it. Creating those important relationships is vital to a thriving business. But like you said, it also makes online business more FUN because of the interaction!

    List building is something I still work on as well, as well as nurturing those email relationships. I believe email marketing will remain one of the most reliable marketing channels out there.

    Holding that momentum ain’t easy, I think most of us are heaving those problems. Every entrepreneur has it’s up and downs and inner battles. It’s not only growing a business but also a process of getting to know yourself and growing as a person. There’s no boss telling you to do what to do.

    I appreciate the honesty. Awesome post and I think many bloggers will relate to this!

    Have a great week ahead,

    Jasper

  2. I think I made my first blog around the same time and I made three other bloggers since then but I’m only active on one of them, the rest are dead. I’m making the most progress with my current website. I think it’s because I’m focusing more on networking and quality content. I still have a lot to do and my website is still in the early stages but I have clear idea of what needs to be done. Thanks for sharing!

  3. Hey Kim,

    Boy can I relate to a lot of what you’re saying here. I think the mistakes we made though were a huge learning experience for us although today there is SO much more valuable information that could have saved us a LOT of unnecessary work.

    I also started out in the earlier days actually writing more articles then blog posts. We stuffed the heck out of those keywords because that’s what we were taught to do. Like you though, later on Google slapped us all so it was back to the drawing board to figure out what to do next. Seemed like every time I turned around there was something new on the horizon.

    The biggest lesson for me though, and I fought it for the longest time if you can imagine that, is making those connections. I did it for pure enjoyment but I was being taught to do it for business reasons. I hate being used myself so that’s how I was looking at things when in reality, we all need each other. So just approach it as meeting someone new, perhaps learning a few things from them and forming a great relationship. What will come into play will and what won’t won’t.

    I think a lot of people are being taught to make those connections for their benefit too but I wish they would just think about how it is offline and then do the same online. You just have a much wider reach that’s all!

    Great share Kim, thank you so much and I really enjoyed reading this one. Fabulous lessons for us all.

    Enjoy the rest of your week, I’m off to share your post.

    ~Adrienne

    1. Hi Adrienne

      You hit the nail on the head, ‘you did it for enjoyment’ and lo and behold a real business was born.

      I still can’t get over how many years I wasted following so-called gurus who had convinced me that somehow the internet was different and the normal laws of business don’t apply.

      Bunkum!

      It still comes back to people and connections. That will NEVER change

      Thanks so much Adrienne for showing people like me, and thousands of others, the right way to build online

      Kim
      Kim Willis recently posted…If I Had My Time Over Again As a BloggerMy Profile

  4. Hey Kim, how’s it going mate, you know this post really hit home.

    I couldn’t agree more with your first point. I made almost the same mistake with my first blog in 2010. I focused too much on SEO, backlinking and all the rest of it, and boom, Panda and Penguin put me down on my knees permanently. I started all over again in 2013 with Magnet4Blogging and with less interest in SEO and more focus on building my own tribe that Google couldn’t touch.

    As a result of not focusing on SEO and writing for my audience, my rankings actually got better and traffic from search engines increased. I think as far as SEO goes, too many people are obsessed with the nit gritty stuff. Hey I know it’s important for business, but networking, interacting and making real connections online, and creating positive leads “that way” can work just as well right?

    Wonderful post mate, have a great rest of the week buddy – Fabrizio.

    1. Hi Fabrizio

      Great to see you here!

      And thanks for sharing your story. Many of us have a tale of woe when it comes to being slapped by the big G.

      In a way, I think it’s a good thing it happened because it forced us to re-engineer the way we do business online. Now, we’re doing exactly what Google wanted us to do all along – improve the user experience.

      Can’t be bad!

      Thanks again Fabz

      Kim
      Kim Willis recently posted…If I Had My Time Over Again As a BloggerMy Profile

  5. Hey Kim,

    This post sounded like me for a number of years LOL

    I think the biggest thing I should’ve focused more on is list building. I did focused on it for about 3 months, then turned my attention towards just getting traffic period, although I knew better to focus on targeted traffic.

    I also became an SEO nut. I still use SEO, but not to the extent of how I was trying to implement it in the past. Some of my posts were incoherent and wasn’t that valuable. Yes, you lose your tail trying to implement a bunch of keywords that make your post seem convoluted.

    Last year I found out the important of messaging. It helps to make your blog posts coherent and for your audience to understand where you’re coming from. You want to attract certain people to your blog and you always want to create and stem from the message so that everything else makes sense!

    This was a great reminder of what to do and how far I came! Thanks for sharing Kim! Have a great rest of the week!

    1. Hi Sherman!

      Yeah, there’s lot of us in the same boat. We followed the seo gurus and ended up losing our shirt so to speak. And now we’re doing what we should have been doing all along – improving the user experience.

      You are dead right about the messaging. Once we got the SEO shackles off our back we started to focus 100% on the user experience, something we could never do when we were obsessed about keywords.

      As you say, SEO still plays a role, but it’s much diminished compared to a few years ago.

      Thanks again, Sherman

      Kim

      .
      Kim Willis recently posted…If I Had My Time Over Again As a BloggerMy Profile

  6. Hi Kim!
    I created my first blog about a year after yours. It actually did quite well despite the fact that I had no clue what I doing. I enjoyed organic search traffic until one day, a Google algorithm ended all that.
    Lesson learned! I still do obsess a bit over SEO but also focus on alternative traffic sources. I realize how important that is.
    I am glad you brought up list building. I also did not do that right away and that was a huge mistake!
    Thanks again. I am sure that we can all relate to everything you mentioned.
    Lisa

    1. Hi Lisa

      Great to see you here

      Actually, this blog only got started last August. The story related to my older blog which I’ve had for 5 years+.

      All of us are one a journey. We learn, we grow. Part of learning is making mistakes, readjusting, then improving from there. People say I’ve done well, but that’s probably because I’ve made more mistakes than most people!

      Happy to hear you’re now into list building. Next step after that is to get the messaging right with our subscribers. It never ends!

      Kim
      Kim Willis recently posted…If I Had My Time Over Again As a BloggerMy Profile

  7. Wow Kim,

    This is one post everyone can relate to. We all have been guilty of one thing or another. But here you point out a long list that will bring to light what many of us need to do or to improve on.

    For me, I struggle with consistency. I’m more creative and it is a struggle to be consistent. So I have to self-discipline myself. I constantly have to write daily and weekly tasks down and then check them off. Each day I reward myself. It can be ice cream, a night off watching TV, or anything else. I find that this is the only way I can keep myself consistent. The times I don’t do this…I find myself floundering and end up with an extra load of work the next week.

    Great post!

    -Donna

    1. Hi Donna

      I can relate!

      It is SO hard to be consistent. I had such a problem with it that last year that I created a Daily Activity Roster. On the roster, I’ve got listed all of the ‘must-do’ activities I need to complete each day. It certainly helps, notwithstanding the fact that some days other events conspire to overwhelm me. Best laid plans sometimes go astray!

      Good idea to reward yourself with a treat. I must try that one!

      Thanks, Donna and good to see that you’re feeling better now

      Kim
      Kim Willis recently posted…If I Had My Time Over Again As a BloggerMy Profile

  8. Hi Kim,
    Not having a vast experience and background in blogging did not stop me from recognising some big mistakes I have made.

    Initially I ASSUMED I knew who my target audience was as a brand new blogger and to be honest with you I tried to sell everyone who came anywhere near my blog.

    That’s what I was trained to do…never miss an opportunity! When I think back now I dont like the blogger I was and apart from some quick front end affiliate sales my success was fairly limited as you can just imagine.

    Did I know my target audience?

    Hardly. I build my lists and my blog presence using solo ads and surprise surprise more than 50% of my blog visitors came from Russia and spoke no English.

    Since starting again with a new blog about 6 months ago my focus (and enjoyment) has been to really know who my target audience is and what are their pain points.

    Apart from providing as much honesty snd value as I can my focus has been on networking.

    Wish I had started this a long time ago as it gas not only provided me with invaluable education but has opened the doors to opportunities I could only dream about before.

    So networking and the associated messaging have revolutionised my entire blogging strategy.

    Superb post Kim and thanks as always for sharing your expertise as well as your experiences. Always learning from you my man.

    Best wishes from a remote Thai village blogger.

    Peter

    1. Hi Peter

      What an excellent comment you’ve left here – so thoughtful.

      Funny you talk about solo ad traffic from Russia I just got back from Sihanoukville, in the southern part of Cambodia. That place is full of Russians. I can’t stand them, but that is another story for another day.

      You are right – the value comes from networking. Inexcusably I ignored that reality for eight long years as an online marketer. I fell for the BS story that the internet was different – all I had to do was push a button here, click a button there and presto!, magic would happen. Did I make money doing business this way? Yes, plenty of money.

      But here’s what I found – none of it was sustainable. The money flows regularly stopped because Magic Potion Number 9 (great title for a song!) stopped working. Then I had to scramble around for another miracle potion; always looking for the quick fix.

      But real business doesn’t work like that. Finally, the penny started to drop about three years ago. But my full Damascus conversion didn’t transpire till last year when I begun to embrace the networking concept fulsomely. It’s a progression – step by step we go.

      And so great to be working with someone like yourself. You are a class act, quality all the way

      Thanks mate!

      Kim
      Kim Willis recently posted…If I Had My Time Over Again As a BloggerMy Profile

  9. Hi,
    Thanks so much for sharing your experience with blogging Kim. At the back of my mind I’ve been thinking I really need to wrap my head around SEO and all those web-type enginey words but it’s like a big black hole to me and I just stay away from it! Now it sounds as if I can probably get away with keeping my head in the sand and not feel like I’m missing out that much.
    I have always LOVED lists and have finally got to the point where I can set myself acceptable goals and tick them off instead of writing down 55 things, getting overwhelmed and doing none of them.
    And I’m only just starting to realize that the real key is engaging with your audience. I used to think – but why would anyone want to listen to me? I can’t talk about internet marketing, people can’t learn anything from me. But if I communicate from my heart, about what’s important to me and the little wins I’ve experienced on my journey and continue to work on my personal growth and mindset, I do have something worthwhile to say.
    So, by muddling my way through and making it up as I go along and making it fun and being authentic – I’m accidentally doing it right!
    So thanks for your insight and for demystifying the intricacies of blogging for us.

  10. Hi Kim,

    You said something that jumped right out to me: “I made money because my blog boosted my credibility, no other reason.”

    In my opinion, that is the strong driving point of a blog. When we are clear, relevant, compelling and meaningful our blogs ought to first and foremost establish us as being competent and credible.

    People buy because of our competency which is established by creating content for one person, with one need/problem/desire and offering one solution.

    That’s the whole point of gaining clarity so that we relate to them on their level. I’m always looking to hear that “OMG, how did you know…” statement in a blog comment, email or on a call.

    20% of our visitors or more should be communicating that to us in some way.

    I don’t believe it matters what industry or business you are in. If you communicate with detail, specificity and clarity then it’s going to happen. It happens all the time to me!

    Right now I would say if I were to go back twenty months ago when I first started I would have been more intentional about list building myself. I definitely had some naive views on it that as I’ve learned and matured in this area of my business I’m seeing serious growth now.

    But, the past is only relevant to show us what needs to change today so that we can have a better tomorrow.

    I hope you have an awesome week Kim!!!

    ~ Don Purdum

    1. Hi Don

      Yes, you are right. Being totally clear on the needs, wants, and pain points of people in our niche is vital. Then we can more effectively match the message with our audience.

      Demonstrating competence is part of the story, but so is voice, tone, empathy, specificity, and relevance.

      I also agree with your point on industries. It doesn’t matter what industry it is. People are motivated by the same emotional and psychological triggers from one industry to another.

      Thanks for dropping by, Don

      Kim
      Kim Willis recently posted…If I Had My Time Over Again As a BloggerMy Profile

  11. Hey Kim! Apologies for just now getting over to here, busy week!

    I love these kinds of posts because we get to see real things you’ve gone through and learn from them so we don’t end up making the same types of mistakes ourselves. I make it a habit to really take these seriously because many people don’t pay enough attention to them until they become a victim themselves.

    The SEO and networking points really connected with me because how I’ve handled Help Start My Site is radically different than what I was used to previously. On my first successful blog before Help Start My Site, a good 95% of my traffic came from search engines. Power over my blog and its success was almost completely in Google’s hands.

    When I entered into this far more competitive market though, search engine traffic was difficult to get and I had to take things in my own hands. I prefer that anyway, but the necessity really forced me to get good at building traffic from sources in my power to control. Networking is definitely one of my favorites, and the opportunities it has brought me are unlike anything else.

    You’re right that this blog is proof that it works – I wouldn’t be here writing this comment right now if you wouldn’t have reached out and connected with me. I’m so glad you did!

    – James McAllister

  12. Hi Kim,

    I strongly believe that the mistakes EVERY newbie makes online are classical and interlope nicely…like you, I started my first blog circa 2010 and messed up in every way imaginable! Looking back at the sheer volumes of mistakes I commited, I wonder why the blog did not simply give up on it’s own after 24 hours!

    Fast forward today…yours truly is a professional blogger who knows basically all there is to know in the awesome world of blogging, gaining trust and building authority!

    Looking back, is there something I would have done right that I messed up?

    Certainly…

    I would have hired a coach who knew what he/she was doing. Why waste precious years messing up when someone can put you through in a month?

    Do make the day great!

    Always,
    Akaahan Terungwa

    1. Hi Akaahan

      Thanks for your positive comment. And great to see that despite your early struggles things are going well for you now. I agree with your point about a coach. I had one when i got started online in 2006. Her input made a critical difference and enabled me to quit my day job just 55 days after I started online.

      I look forward to checking out your blog real soon

      Kim
      Kim Willis recently posted…If I Had My Time Over Again As a BloggerMy Profile

  13. Hi Kim,

    My biggest mistake was not building a list from the outset – I thought I could do it myself with a spreadsheet – WHAT a mistake. I also resisted starting up a blog for a long time – I got someone to do me a static website instead.

    I have several lonely junked blogs behind me – I don’t think I would have wanted anyone to see some of them. But that was how the gurus were teaching me, finally it dawned on me that if I didn’t want to read my own blogs, who else would? LOL

    Then I bumped into the concept of engagement and networking, as you describe, and things are on the “up”.

    No more shiny objects for me! Focus and target is the way forward. I WILL stop getting distracted (except by my offline business, of course).

    Loads of mistakes, but I guess I’m one of these stubborn people who have to learn by their mistakes, and persistent enough that I’m still here to tell the tale.

    Enjoy the rest of your week, Joy

    1. Hi Joy,

      Great to see that you’ve left the world of shiny objects behind, just like me. It’s a freeing thing when you know exactly what needs to be done, and how to do it. And I think that’s one of the reasons why we chase the shiny objects – lack of belief and clarity. When that happens our resolve weakens and as a consequence we become susceptible to the lure of get rich quick schemes and push button easy programs. There’s a lot of predators in the online jungle; clarity of purpose is the best way to bulletproof ourselves from their seductive messages.

      Thanks for dropping by, Joy

      Kim
      Kim Willis recently posted…If I Had My Time Over Again As a BloggerMy Profile

  14. Hey there Kim, Great post! I believe that even though we own our blogs and it’s ourselves we’re branding but it’s really for the people. We blog to get our message out, build relationships with people that can relate to our message and consistently provide value.

    My biggest blogging blunder was just not being consistent especially when I was still starting out. I let the excuses and lack of motivation get to me. My biggest mistake was caused because my blog was growing and I wasn’t so I got left behind.

    Today, I dedicate a lot of time working on myself. I’ve become a student and I consistently share what I learn on my blog.

    I enjoyed reading your post. Lots of great information. Thanks for sharing. Keep it up!

    1. Thanks for sharing Pete

      Lack of consistency is a big issue for many bloggers and marketers. They try one strategy then give up on it a month later, then try something else. Sometimes it’s due to their desire for instant gratification, or it may be because they get bored or distracted easily. I know – because I have been inconsistent myself at times. It;s good to see you recognised the problem, and did something about it

      Onwards and upwards!

      Thanks Pete

      Kim
      Kim Willis recently posted…If I Had My Time Over Again As a BloggerMy Profile

  15. Thanks for sharing another extremely awesome post Kim!

    You have made and shared so many extremely practical points.

    And one thing I can definitely say for sure, just like you, initially when I started blogging
    consistently, I can easily see the growth over time.

    You start in one direction, then after getting some much needed feedback and a little
    more experience under your belt, yo realize you need to go more in a specific direction etc.

    I can definitely relate to all eight excellent points, but by far, my two biggest takeaways
    are, #’s 2,4 & 7!

    Thanks for sharing an excellent and extremely practical post!

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