I published the first post on Guiding Tech on Jan 1, 2010. Nice date to start something, isn’t it. That also makes sure that I would never forget its birthday.
So, one might ask why the hell did I start a tech blog when the niche is already overcrowded. Well, first, I know more about tech blogging than about blogging on any other topic. And second, a crowded niche means there’s already a huge market you can tap on. You just need to produce quality stuff and market it the right way.
The end of September marked the completion of 9 months for the blog. I have to say that these 9 months, both for the blog and myself, have been a huge learning experience. There have been both good and bad times, points of immense excitement as well as complete helplessness, frequent surprises and myriad frustrations.
I thought I’ll share some of the lessons I’ve learnt along the way, here on this site. If you are planning on starting a blog, it might help to know what you are up against.
1. It’s Bloody Hard Work!
I knew blogging was hard work. I’ve been doing it since 2008. But starting a blog in 2010 and ensuring that it survives and thrives is harder. And it’s only going to get tougher from here on.
Now, if you’ve got cash in hand and can buy a blog or two, or have the resources to hire great writers and marketers, that’s a different story. But if you are planning to bootstrap a blog like I did and want to make money out of it, well, just know that it’s pretty rough out there.
The funny thing is, in just 2 years since I started working online fulltime, things have changed drastically. Building links have become harder, going viral on a social site is harder, writing unique content is harder….overall, it has become a tougher nut to crack.
2. Relationships Matter
Yes, this hasn’t changed. And this won’t change till humans exist. If I tell you that most of the success Guiding Tech has had so far was, in some way or the other, due to my network of friends in the blogging and social media industry, that won’t be an exaggeration.
I think you should start building relationships even before you start a blog. The best ways to get started is by making insightful comments on the blogs of people you admire, offering them help with something and doing it without expecting anything in return, getting them on Gtalk or Skype and initiating constructive discussions…many ways to do it really.
3. Getting Featured on Popular Sites Works
Whether it’s Mashable, Lifehacker or Problogger, if they talk about an article on your site, it’s good. It exposes your site to new people and helps to build authority in the eyes of Google. In fact, I’d go on to say that getting featured on high authority sites is much better than a short-lived exposure on Digg’s or Reddit’s front page.
You should try and seize every opportunity of having your article linked by a top blog. That could involve sending them tips, getting involved with their community and getting your presence felt, requesting those site owners for a guest posting opportunity and any other such networking/relationship building methods.
4. Digg is Dead
You might have heard this before but let me say that again: Digg is dead! Yes, I urge all the aspiring bloggers to not waste time and energy to get on the Digg front page. Gone are the days when a Digg front page brought tons of traffic and backlinks….not any more.
I won’t ask you to ignore Digg completely but don’t focus on it. Instead, focus on other marketing methods and building relationships.
5. It’ll Take More Time Than You Think
Everything will take more time than you think. Whether it’s writing a post, getting a certain number of visitors, getting a new design up and running…everything!Things just don’t fall into place within our expected timeframe.
Hence, if you’ve set certain goals for the site, I’d suggest that you revisit them and increase the timeframe for them.
6. Admin Issues Can Suck Life Out Of You
You know who’s the most efficient blogger? Someone who can write well, and also possesses considerably good designing and programming skills. If you don’t belong to this category of people, be ready to get frustrated frequently when you run into a design issue, a server issue or any other coding related problem.
The way out is to learn design and coding basics, or get help from trusted friends who can design or code. Don’t spend days trying to get that navbar aligned properly, when you know that you don’t know what you are doing.
7. Creating Action Based Goals is Better
Finally, I’ve learnt that creating action based goals like you’ll write one post each day, or you’ll tweet two links every hour, is much better than stat based goals like 100,000 monthly pageviews by August or 200 subscribers by next month end.
While you should keep an eye on various blog stats and analyze their growth or decline, lets admit it – you don’t have a lot of control over them. They are governed by factors like Google, a Digg front page, a tweet by a top twitter user etc.
What you do have control on is the work you can produce. Hence, when you set targets, it’s better to focus on what you can do and set goals accordingly.