I was asked at a recent Dot Com Pho to name the two biggest blogging mistakes I made when I first started. While I’ve made a ton of mistakes, I feel that the following two really stood out. Hopefully, you will avoid them when you start your blogging journey.
1 – Not Starting A Mailing List From Day One
Without a doubt, my biggest blogging mistake when I started was not getting up a mailing list from the get go. This mistake has cost me hundred of thousands in lost income. When I started the blog, it was meant to be a personal blog to ramble about stuff that I was interested in it. I never intended the blog to make any money. Because of that, I didn’t applied my usual online money making methods on it. The number 1 method for making money online is:
YOU MUST HAVE A MAILING LIST.
I didn’t start the list until over a year into the blog’s life. Had I started from day one, the blog mailing list would twice the size it is today and blog income would be pushing $100,000 per month.
If I were to give one piece of money making advice to new bloggers, it would be start your mailing list from day 1. Don’t wait until your blog “makes some money” before doing it. While many people think/want everything on the Internet to be free, the truth of the matter is you have to be willing to spend time and money on any worth while venture.
My list is the reason the blog makes the income that it does. The ads you see on this blog accounts for only a third of its income. The rest comes from its backend email system. When done right, an email list will never cost you money. I have never failed to not cover the cost of my list hosting. The income the list generate more than pays for the cost of running it.
My recommended email list service is Aweber. I’ve been using them for years and they are by far the best in the business. Aweber works seamlessly with with most blog themes and its web interface allows you to access it from any computer, anywhere in the world.
Aweber offers a $1 trial account for all new customers. The account is just like a normal Aweber account and includes unlimited email campaigns, newsletter, broadcasts and follow ups. It’s a great way to test drive Aweber to see what it can do for you. Your satisfaction is guaranteed. If you find that email marketing is not for you, contact Aweber within 30 days and they’ll give you the $1 back.
2- Using My Own Name As The Domain Name
As I’ve stated before, I never intended to turn this blog into a commercial operation. It was just suppose to be a place for me to talk about whatever was on my mind. Most of the early readers were friends and family members. The blog was a great way for them to keep up with what’s happening in my life.
Because of a case study to see if money could be made by blogging, the blog went all commercial. In doing so, it attracted a ton and new readers but my family members hardly read it anymore. Were I to do it over again, I would have kept John Chow dot Com as my personal blog and did the case study with a brand new blog using another domain name.
Branding Is Easier With a Commercial Name
When it comes to branding, it is generally easier to brand a commercial name than your own name. I had an advantage in that I was already known in the technology circles so it was just a matter of extending my brand into blogging. However, for the average blogger, branding your own name is extremely hard. You’ll have a much easier time branding a trade name than your own name.
You Have To Do Most of The Work
When your blog bears your name, you have to write most of the posts. Sure, you can bring in a guest blogger every now and then but for the most part, your readers will expect 90+ percent of the blog posts to be written by you. Contrast this with the dozen or so bloggers that write for Blogging Tips. Most people didn’t know that Blogging Tips was bought by Zac Johnson until many mouths after the fact and even then, it was because Zac finally revealed he bought it.
It’s Next To Impossible To Sell
How much is John Chow dot Com worth if there’s no John Chow? According to the business Opportunities Weblog, my blog is worth over $3 million but realistically, no one will pay that much for it unless I agreed to stay on (even then I doubt they’ll pay that much). However, if I’m going to sell, I want to cash out and leave, not stay on and work!
In the end, I can never sell this blog because this blog bears my name and I want to maintain control of my name. If you’re blogging for money, then I recommend you do it with a trade name instead of your own name. You should definitely register your own name as a domain name but keep it for personal use.