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My Nine Biggest Lessons from Nine Years of Blogging

[Updated from my original post 7 Biggest Lessons from 7 Years from December 2014] 

Guess what?

A couple of days from now will actually be my ninth Blog-aversery (I think Blog years are like dog years though, because it feels more like forever). And considering the longest I have ever really stuck at something before was three months of piano lessons when I was eight (I can still play Chopsticks and The Simpson’s theme pretty well by the way), that’s a pretty massive milestone for me.

Also considering that when I first started my “Blog” ( which actually wasn’t even a Blog, it was an email newsletter) back in 2007, I thought it would be just a little side-project that might take up an hour or so and hopefully make me a few extra hundred dollars a month. And now it’s grown into a full-time-plus-some job (which I adore) that pays way better than my “real job”  ever could, with five seven staff members, and office off Chapel Street in Melbourne.

 

Well let’s just say, it has way surpassed even what I dreamt could happen with it. And I dream big!

 

But of course it hasn’t all been runway shows and free lipsticks (although it’s been a lot of those too… particularly the lipsticks!). It has also been a LOT of hard work, a lot of stuffing things up (and then stuffing them up some more), a lot of feeling like you’re just running on the spot and not getting anywhere, and a whole huge pile of self-doubt. And yep, there have been some tears as well.

And also of course with the highs and the low, comes an awful lot of lesson-learning.

So on my almost nine-year Blog-a-versery I just wanted to share my nine biggest hard-learned lessons with you now (because… well… they might help you out as well!).

 

1 – It’s a marathon, not a sprint

One things that still surprises me about blogging is that nothing takes as long as you think it will. Some things happen much, much quicker than expected, but most happen much slower (a LOT slower). And you have to be prepared to just keep going, step-by-step, because if you want to build up a successful anything, it is going to take some time (and a whole lot of persistence!)

You also need to make sure you get your basics down right, so to keep with the running analogy you need good shoes (or a good blog theme/host), you need to train (you need to post, share and interact regularly), and you need a good coach and cheer squad (more on that later).

 

biggest lessons2 – The New Rule Of Thirds

This applies to anything that you rely on really on your blog, but it was a lesson that it took me a little too long to figure out. It is just crazy to rely on getting either all (or most) of your traffic or all your income from only one (or even two) sources. Because most of those can change or disappear pretty much overnight.

I mean look at Facebook? I know lots of people that built up huge following on Facebook (and they spent a lot of time and money doing it), and they used to get so much traffic from it, and then within the space of six-months their Facebook traffic dropped by about 90% (not kidding) and now it’s like they are right back at the start.

The same goes for only relying on one type of income. If you rely solely on Sponsored posts or banners, it’s a pretty stressful way to make a living (for example the price of banners is now less than a 10th of what it used to be, again because of Facebook… damn you Zuckerberg!). Advertising is not a reliable income source at all. And there are so many other ways to earn money blogging that you do have more control over (we cover all of this in the Bloggers MBA by the way), but most people don’t start looking at those until they’ve been blogging for years.

 

3- Get help… as early as you can

When I started out blogging, there really weren’t that many people doing it really well yet (or at all). It was still an industry finding it’s feet, and so I had to learn a lot of things by trial and error. And while there is nothing wrong with that, if I could have skipped over some of those mistakes (especially the ones that meant I wasted a whole bunch of time or money) then I definitely would.

And that is why I created Secret Bloggers’ Business because I wanted to help people stop wasting their precious time, and just get straight down to doing the stuff that needed to be done to get them where they needed to go.  And I’ve seen the amazing difference it can make even in a few short months with some of the awesome results my SBBers have been getting (I’m like a super proud Mama bear right now!).

So Yep, don’t waste time slogging it out on your own, particularly when so many people are willing to help you.

 

4 – It’s all about community

One of my favourite things about being a Blogger is the awesome people I have gotten to meet. I have made some amazing friends through the blogosphere, and the Facebook group for the SBB Community is now one of my favourite places on the Internet to hang out.

Also one of the best ways to build a loyal readership is to nurture a community on your own site, and off it. Through commenting, sharing and interacting with your readers and with other bloggers as much as you can.

 

 

5 – Make your own rules

One of the biggest ah-ha moments I had in my life was when my business coach (yep, I am still learning and getting help too!), said to me ” You need to build a business that works around your life, and not a life that works around your business”.

Hello, light-bulb moment!

And the same goes for blogging.

You need to build a blog that helps you have the life that you want, and not just do what you think you are supposed to be doing.

So if you only want to, or only have time to, blog once a week. Do it (just do it really well!). And if you hate Instagram and don’t won’t to be on their, then don’t do it (social media only works when you really enjoy it anyway).

It’s your blog, so it’s your rules!

 

6 – You have to invest in it

You know the old saying, “You only get out, what you put in?”

Well I personally think who ever wrote that must have had a blog. Because man is it true.

I see so many bloggers out there who refuse to pay $30 for a theme they love (they’d rather have a free one they don’t love), or $5 for a good spam-blocking plugin (they’d rather spend hours each week deleting the spam themselves, hey, your time is free right?). And these are the ones who seem to stay stuck on level one.

And yes I know everyone has different budgets, but I promise you, every time I personally stepped up and invested some money in either myself (I am all about the courses and coaches… and the good ones are not cheap), or the blog (good theme, better hosting, great staff members), I always made that money back ten-fold.

If you want your blog to be your job one day, then you have to treat it like a business. And businesses cost money to grow. It’s as simple as that.

Yes, there are some things I wasted my money on (more details of that in my Blog 2 Profit Workshop), but up-levelling the tech side of the blog, getting help, and up-skilling myself where never one of them.

 

7 – Never stop learning

OK, so nine-years in and I am STILL figuring things out (Podcasting is my next frontier to conquer, watch this space for updates!). But I think that is what has kept me interested in my “little side project”  for all this time.

And you can bet that I will be getting some help from the pros, and learning from the best as I go  (I don’t want to take another nine-years to figure this next bit out, that’s crazy talk!).

 

8 – Sometimes making the decision is worse than the doing!

Over the last two years I’ve had to put my big-girl business pants on more than a few times.

I’ve had to fire some people.

I’ve had to close down one of my blogs.

I’ve had to leave my marriage (it wasn’t a business decision, but the decision definitely effected my business!).

I’ve had to re-structure, re-launch and reassess pretty much everything.

And I’ve kept myself up at nights worrying about all of it.

I’ve tossed and turned, bored my friends and family stupid, and given myself my first grey hairs over deciding what to do.

And you know what?

At the end of the day. Actually making the decision was the hardest part. Once the decision was made (and the tricky conversations had), everything that came after that was just so much easier than just making the damn decisions ever was.

So moral to this story is peeps, if you are driving yourself nuts with a decision about your business (yourself and your loved ones), you have three choices.

Choice one – Just pick one already!! Doesn’t’ matter which, you’ll make the best of it either way, trust me!

Choice two – Leave it for a set period of time. If you can. Give yourself a “worry deadline” and whichever seems best at that deadline is the way you go.

Choice three – Flip a coin. I shit you not. This is actually a brilliant decision making tool. Because if you flip the coin and you are either relieved or upset by it’s result… that gives you a pretty good indicator of what you really want to do, doesn’t it?

 

9 – No blog is an island!

So this might come as a shock to some of you, but I currently have a team of um… let me count… seven people who help me out on SBB… plus myself.

And I STILL struggle to get my damn fortnightly blog posts done on time.

I am not kidding. 

It doesn’t seem to matter what stage your blog is at, there is always more stuff you could be doing.

But the trick of it is, that to get to that next stage is pretty darn hard if you are trying to do it all totally solo.

So whether this means enrolling a family member to help you upload your posts or take your photos, or getting a Virtual Assistant (VA) for 3-4 hours a week to help with the more fiddly repetitive things (this would cost you about $20-25 a week btw).

Or even joining a blogger support network or group where you can share ideas, get support and encouragement, cross-promote each other etc..

Basically the more hands the better, and the sooner the better.

Just imagine if you could outsource even four hours a week of the “less important” stuff on your blog to someone else, and could then spend those four hours doing things like creating products, building advertiser relationships, improving you content, guest posting… basically anything that will help to grow your blog.

Imagine how much faster you could grow???

 

So there you have it, seven nine years of ah-has and oh-nos. Personally I can’t wait to see what the next nine-years bring.

 

What have been some of the biggest lessons you’ve learnt from your blogging? I’d love to hear, share them below!

 

COMMENTs:

  1. Madeleine | The Daily Mark

    November 25th, 2014 at 8:09 am

    Love your tips (as always!) x
    Madeleine, The Daily Mark

  2. Kate McKibbin

    November 27th, 2014 at 7:25 am

    thanks lovely x

  3. Elyse - Notes on Bliss

    November 25th, 2014 at 8:19 am

    Such an inspiring list Kate, love it when you share your 7 years of wisdom with us 🙂 xxx

  4. Robyn A

    November 25th, 2014 at 8:33 am

    Kate I am so excited to be enrolled in the blogger bootcamp. I feel like I have learnt SO much already. It’s definitely a fantastic investment in my eyes! Thank you! Robyn x

    http://stylevsbeauty.com

  5. Kate McKibbin

    November 27th, 2014 at 7:25 am

    Thank you so much Robyn, so glad to have you on board 🙂 x

  6. Aimee

    November 25th, 2014 at 9:07 am

    Truly inspiring! Thank you for sharing your insight!

  7. Maxabella

    November 25th, 2014 at 9:30 am

    You’re an inspiration, Kate. x

  8. Kate McKibbin

    November 27th, 2014 at 7:25 am

    Aw shucks x

  9. Tahlia Meredith

    November 25th, 2014 at 12:33 pm

    Yep yep yep!! My blog’s still a baby but I found myself nodding the whole way through this – top tips!

  10. Samantha B

    November 25th, 2014 at 3:21 pm

    Thanks Kate, as always insightful and actionable tips! Love it!

  11. Namrata

    November 25th, 2014 at 6:37 pm

    That was a great post Kate. Absolutely loved it.

  12. Vicki W

    November 25th, 2014 at 8:13 pm

    Love your tips Kate. As always thank you for being so generous with sharing what you have learnt.
    Vicki http://www.styleonv.com

  13. lifestyletalks.wordpress.com

    November 25th, 2014 at 11:33 pm

    Thank you so much for the tips!

  14. Michelle R

    November 25th, 2014 at 11:38 pm

    Awesome! Thank you Kate! I think these are all really straight-forward insights that are helpful for everyone’s unique blogging situation. It’s especially nice to read the investment one. Sometimes I fear that I shouldn’t be putting $$$ into my blog for fear of failure but I think investing in anything (especially myself) is a risk worth taking. Even if it doesn’t work out, showing up for myself totally counts for something!

  15. Kate McKibbin

    November 27th, 2014 at 7:26 am

    Exactly! If you don’t take yourself seriously, who else will xx

  16. Rebecca

    November 26th, 2014 at 1:31 am

    #3, Oh #3! I have been trying to get help in setting up my blog for 3 months with limited sucess! I have hired one person, gotten reluctant help from another, Googled-looking for help, asked a Facebook blogging group I belong to…..Nothing! I am so frustrated! I fear my wonderful ideas will never get off the ground. As much as I would like to go to Blogging conferences, at this point, it wouldn’t do any good, since my site isn’t even ready. Thanks for letting me vent.

  17. Kate McKibbin

    November 27th, 2014 at 7:27 am

    I feel your pain, I have had a few unreliable developers in my time! Have you tried either Swish Designs, Little Hero Hosting or Envato Marketplace? x

  18. Liane

    November 26th, 2014 at 10:21 am

    Great list Kate. I love reading your mistakes hope I can avoid them all!
    My biggest lesson was that you learn along the way. You don’t have to know everthing before you start. Just start.
    So happy to have joined SBB Bootcamp it has helped my blog results jump up over 600%! xx

  19. Kate McKibbin

    November 27th, 2014 at 7:28 am

    Thats is amazing Liane, and so fab to meet you in person yesterday x

  20. Aisha

    November 29th, 2014 at 12:54 pm

    These are so helpful. Thank you so much for taking time out of your life to do this or us ♥♥

  21. Simone J

    December 14th, 2014 at 12:46 pm

    I’ve just got to say, I love hanging out here. Great info, inspiration and support. Love your blog! Thanks a million.
    Simone littlenickelbird.com

  22. Kate McKibbin

    December 15th, 2014 at 3:22 pm

    My pleasure, thanks for coming and saying hi!

  23. Krystle Barrington

    March 17th, 2015 at 2:05 pm

    This is awesome. Glad I stumbled upon your blog!

  24. Lindsey Lutz

    April 6th, 2015 at 9:40 am

    Hi Kate! I am obsessed with your site already! Thanks for the fabulous tips, inspiration, and coaching. xoxo-Lindz
    http://lifelutzurious.com

  25. Kate McKibbin

    April 6th, 2015 at 10:32 am

    My pleasure 🙂 x And thanks!

  26. Lena

    May 6th, 2015 at 5:18 pm

    One of the things I’ve learned is that you don’t need to follow the crowd. Just because everyone is buying this, or doing that, doesn’t mean you need to. Making your own way in blogging means that you carve out your own niche and audience!

  27. Kate McKibbin

    May 7th, 2015 at 7:04 pm

    So true! That’s the whole point of being a blogger, so you can do your own thing, why play by someone elses rules 🙂 x

  28. Charlotte

    May 18th, 2015 at 6:50 am

    Hi Kate!
    Just stumbled across your site after wanting to get back into the blogging world…I sadly gave up my much-loved blog 12 months ago as it didnt feel ‘worth’ it, & man do I miss it!
    First thing’s first for me though…is there a particular blog-hosting site you’d recommend? I’d previously used WordPress however am keen to hear if in your opinion there’s a more suitable one for peeps who want to turn the blog world upside down? 🙂
    Thanks so much!

  29. Kate McKibbin

    May 18th, 2015 at 4:09 pm

    Hey hun, Welcome back! 🙂 I use and still love WordPress.org, and hosting wise I recommend WPengine. Hope that helps, and glad to see you are getting back on the blogging horse (and turning things upside down, hells yeah to that!) x

  30. Felicity

    July 5th, 2015 at 6:24 pm

    Great tips! I think investing in yourself is super important not just in the blogging world, but in life in general 🙂

  31. Kate McKibbin

    July 6th, 2015 at 7:18 pm

    Absolutely, we are our own best asset also x

  32. Jemma

    January 1st, 2016 at 12:40 am

    I’m just starting out and I’m a little intimidated. This article made me feel so much better. Now I’m excited to get started!! Thank you for being an inspiration!!!

  33. Kate McKibbin

    January 5th, 2016 at 11:26 am

    Everyone starts at pretty much the same spot lovely, so glad my story is helpful x

  34. Charlene

    January 28th, 2016 at 3:49 am

    Thank you so much for sharing your insights! I’m on the waitlist for your next Bloggers MBA and I can’t wait to get started!
    Charlene The Frugal Fashionista

  35. L Monet

    January 30th, 2016 at 2:12 am

    Awesome info! Thanks for sharing!

  36. Shan Yi

    February 16th, 2016 at 12:03 pm

    Just stumbled upon on your blog and I’m loving it! Can’t wait for your course to be open again!

  37. Kate McKibbin

    February 17th, 2016 at 12:19 pm

    Yay, are you on the waitlist? Make sure you are so you get notified as soon as it does 🙂

  38. Tan S

    February 17th, 2016 at 12:27 pm

    I just joined The Bloggers MBA yesterday but haven’t got approved to join the FB group. 🙂

  39. Kate

    December 8th, 2016 at 8:39 pm

    Thanks for sharing such great and inspiring tips!

    Kate | http://www.petiteadventures.org/

  40. Jeff Stephens

    December 9th, 2016 at 12:49 am

    Hi Kate!

    Love this. Congrats on the blog-aversary too! That’s amazing.

    My favorite is number 5. Bloggers get so wrapped up in their keyboard that they miss life happening around them. I try to always tell those I help that family comes first. If you have to stay up until the wee hours of the night to feed your blog, that’s your choice and passion. But, be there for your family first…always! In fact, engage with your family during the process. Especially the kids. They will give you an unfiltered fresh look at things that sometimes will be mindblowing…or make you cry. haha.

    Good stuff as usual!

    – Jeff

  41. Kate McKibbin

    December 12th, 2016 at 3:40 pm

    It’s crazy how many people don’t know this, or how long it takes for us all to figure it out x

  42. Chelsea R

    December 10th, 2016 at 3:28 am

    Kate you always have the best content! Love this post! Very eye-opening and inspiring! 🙂 Thanks for all the hard work you do!

  43. Kate McKibbin

    December 12th, 2016 at 3:40 pm

    Yay, glad you found it useful x

  44. Christine

    December 21st, 2016 at 1:22 am

    Nice list! I finally invested in a theme as well this year, hopefully that will pay off in the long run but in the mean time I am so much happier with it than I was with my previous one.

  45. Maggie SBB

    March 10th, 2017 at 1:17 pm

    A theme you love and that works for your content is so key Christine! Glad you found the post useful! x

  46. Rohit Malhotra

    February 15th, 2017 at 7:57 pm

    Loved the tips, 9 years is a long time. The biggest lesson one can learn is to be consistent like you.

    Rohit I Lifeselfmastery

  47. Maggie SBB

    March 10th, 2017 at 1:15 pm

    Consistency is so key Rohit you’re definitely on the right track there 🙂 Awesome that you found the post helpful! x

  48. Tanya

    May 15th, 2017 at 9:22 am

    Wow! I am so very grateful to have found you!
    I’ve been plodding along with my wee blog for a year now & I’ve been really lost with it. I haven’t been consistent & I’ve often wandered off on tangents.
    Trying to establish my brand, what am I doing? What is this blog all about? Why am I even doing this at all? Where could this possibly take me in life? It’s all been eating away at me since I started
    I’m looking forward to your coaching to finally see what this wee blog of mine will be when it grows up ❤️

  49. Kate McKibbin

    May 25th, 2017 at 7:15 pm

    It takes everyone a bit of time to get into the flow, just keep at it Tanya (and I am so glad you found SBB too!) x

49

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