From the outside looking in, running a blog seems like a piece of cake. Loads of people want to get started blogging, mainly because they think it looks easy. All you have to do is set up a website and write about something that appeals to you, right?
On a very basic level, sure. However, there’s a lot that goes on behind the scenes that people don’t understand or appreciate. In fact, there are many things nobody ever tells you about running a blog. It’s only when you start running one that you discover all of these hidden things!
Well, I’m well aware that blogging is a fantastic hobby for anyone to have. Starting a blog can be a brilliant way of building self-confidence, networking, and earning a living. Nevertheless, I think everyone should know what to expect when starting a blog. So, here are the things no one ever tells you.
It costs money to run a blog
People assume that running a blog is 100% free, but it isn’t. Sure, initially, you might be able to set up your blog without paying a penny. In fact, a lot of website building or blogging platforms will advertise themselves as free platforms. Realistically, you can’t run a successful blog or get lots of readers if you don’t spend a bit of money.
Yes, setting up a blog can be free, but you will run into paywalls here and there. For example, a lot of free platforms have restrictions on the designs you choose and what features are enabled on your blog. To unlock new designs – or to get some pretty basic features – you will need to pay for them.
Then, you have one of the biggest issues; hosting. A blog needs to be hosted on a server, and this costs money. Again, you can find some free servers, but they come with disadvantages. They’re usually unreliable, meaning the server can crash and prevent people from viewing your blog. Instead, you need to find cheap hosting for your site, ensuring it stays up and running at all times. Still, this provides you with a monthly ongoing cost that you have to account for.
And all of this is before we get into the topic of advertising. You need to get readers for your blog if you want it to do well. One of the only ways to get out there is through advertising, which means you might have to pay money for something. Whether this means online adverts themselves or paying for SEO services to improve your search engine position; you might spend a lot of money on advertising.
You will get hate comments
One of the downsides of the internet is that it gives everyone and anyone a platform to do and say as they please. Theoretically, anyone can find your blog and comment on your posts. Enabling comments is a good idea as you can get feedback and open a discussion on the topics you write about.
Unfortunately, you also get negative comments. Some of them aren’t constructive in the slightest, they’re just hateful. For whatever reason, some people enjoy going online and trolling others. Expect to endure hate comments from time to time, and a lot of them are from bots. We’ll talk about bots a bit more later on, but it’s quite easy to identify them as you get the same users commenting similar messages across numerous posts.
Nobody prepares you for this when you start a blog – you assume that you won’t get any negative comments at all. Despite the fact your blog is small, it can still attract the attention of trolls. If anything, it might attract more attention as trolls see you as an easy target. The only advice is to delete hateful comments and block the users if you can. Don’t let the messages get to you as they’re clearly from someone who has nothing better to do with their life than troll people online.
You will get hit with spam comments and bots
Yes, we’ll talk a bit about bots and spam comments here. When you create your blog, you’ll be surprised at how many random comments you get from bot accounts. They’re easy to identify as they tend to post links and have very bot-like names, usually involving loads of numbers.
You see, what happens is that companies create bots that spam links to websites, in a bid to generate more backlinks. The theory behind this is that Google likes websites with backlinks as it means loads of other sites are directing traffic to that website. Therefore, they get a boost up the search rankings. However, spamming links have been proven not to work anymore and actually penalizes the sites doing it. Nevertheless, spammers still exist, so you have to be ready for these comments – a swift delete will do the job nicely.
Similarly, you get spam comments from bot accounts that are created by hackers. Primarily, they post links, hoping that people will click on them. These links then include some sort of virus or malware that gets on your computer and can steal information from you. It’s one of the oldest tricks in the book, and a good way to avoid falling for it is to never click links. Again, it will be painfully obvious when someone is spamming a dodgy link, so delete it as soon as you see it.
This is why it’s a good idea to have notifications on for when people comment on your blog posts. As a result, you can instantly see the comment and delete it if it’s harmful. Remember, it’s not just you that could be caught out by accidentally clicking a dodgy link, all your readers could fall for it too!
You need to write content with SEO in mind
Most people start blogs because they want to write. However, you also want people to read what you’re writing as there’s a beauty that comes with sharing your work with others. The problem is that the internet is such a huge place it’s almost impossible for a new blog to be seen. Mostly, you will gain an audience by sharing your blog posts across social media and getting help from your friends.
However, if you really want to gain an audience and take your blog somewhat seriously, you need to start writing with SEO in mind.
What is SEO?
It’s been mentioned a couple of times already, but for those who don’t know, SEO is search engine optimization. This refers to how well your website is set up for search engines. In simple terms, good SEO means your site is easy for search engines to find and sort. Therefore, the search engine can rank you for certain searches and place you higher up the pecking order. The higher up the rankings you go, the more chance there is that users will see your blog and click on it. If you’re lingering down in the spots beyond the first page, you’ll never be found.
So, you have to set up your blog with SEO in mind, and here’s a helpful video to teach you how to do this:
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It can be hard to understand at first, but the more you get into writing your blog, the more you learn how to format your content to appeal to search engines. This helps you get more traffic, leading to a regular audience for your posts.
Not everyone will agree with you
I think one of the hardest truths of running a blog is that people will have different opinions to you. When you start a blog and write your first post, you do so forgetting that there are plenty of people out there that might have their own views on what you’ve written. Case in point, plenty of you reading this might disagree with some of the points or feel like a few have been missed out.
The strange thing is, you don’t think about this when starting your blog. No one ever tells you, so you write with the confidence of someone who is always right. Then, you encounter your first comments from people who have different opinions, and it can be quite hard to fathom.
These aren’t the same as hate comments, they’re more constructive than that. You should learn to embrace criticism or different thoughts on things, engaging with the commenters to have a conversation. I guess you just assume that the only people that read your blog will be people that agree with you. This isn’t always the case, but don’t get offended if other readers think differently.
In all honesty, there’s still a lot that you aren’t told about running a blog seriously. Hopefully, the points above give you a good starting point for what to expect if you start your own blogging website. I guess the underlying theme is that blogging is hard work; much harder than people think. If you assume it’ll be a walk in the park, think again!