Don’t get me wrong, it was exciting — but it was also a little bit terrifying. I wanted to learn everything there was to know about creating a successful blog, but I didn’t want to be the idiot who asked a stupid question.
For a long time, it went on like that–the more I learned, the more overwhelmed I felt. It seemed like everyone had their own idea of what it took to be successful in the blogging world, and I dealt with a lot of contradictory information. It was super overwhelming, and I didn’t really know which way was up.
What I wanted was someone to tell me what the important stuff was. Because to me, EVERYTHING seemed important, and I had no idea where to start.
Have you been there — or maybe you’re there right now? You’re just trying to get yourself started and get the ball rolling, but you’re on information overload and have zero idea where to begin.
In fact, that’s one of the biggest reasons I eventually started Elite Blog Academy, because it seemed everyone had the same question: “I feel like there’s a million different directions I can go right now. Can you please tell me exactly what I need to do to be successful? What’s important — and what can I skip?” (EBA is currently closed for new enrollment, but you can join our waiting list HERE.)
And today, I’m here to answer that question.
3 Things That Will Fumble Your Focus
Before we get into exactly what you should focus on, let’s take a look at three things that will completely fumble your focus and you should feel free to ignore:
Blogging Facebook Groups
When you first start blogging, of course, you’re going to look for a place where you can connect with other bloggers. So you join a few groups to see what you can learn.
But then you start reading. And it seems like every single person in every group has a different idea of what it takes to be successful. You keep reading, and by the tenth post your head is spinning and you feel like you can’t see straight.
Who do you listen to? Everyone seems so convinced their answer is the RIGHT answer. How do you figure out who knows what they’re talking about… and who just might be a little bit of a know-it-all?
My rule of thumb is to look at their results. Is the person giving you advice actually getting the results that you want to see? If so, their opinion probably has merit. If not, then cover your ears and run far, far away.
While blogging communities and Facebook groups can sometimes be valuable, they are also some of the biggest distractions when you’re getting started that will leave you more confused by the minute. Save yourself some major time and frustration, and use them very sparingly.And never, ever ever confuse interacting in a Facebook group for doing actual work!
Learning Vs. Doing
Another big focus killer is what I refer to as the “learning vs. doing conundrum”.
When you’re new to the blogging world, there’s so much information out there: there’s always a new article to read, a new podcast to listen to, a new course to take. But if you’re not careful, the more you learn, the less you’ll feel you know. The more articles you read, podcasts you listen to, and courses you take, the more you realize there’s an endless amount of information out there, and it would take a lifetime to learn it all.
The experts call this “analysis paralysis”. You’re so overloaded with information that you can’t make a decision. You’re learning a ton, but you’re not doing anything.
This learning-instead-of-doing will stall your progress at the beginning. It’s much better to learn slowly and implement as you go. You’re better off implementing what you learn in one article than reading ten articles and learning a ton of information, without taking any action.
Moral of the story: learning is important, but doing is even more important.
Feeling Like You Have to Be Everywhere
There’s also a feeling when you first start out that you have to be everywhere, all the time. You need to comment on every post, tweet to everyone and their mom and scroll through your Facebook news feed every 10 minutes.
Whew, is it exhausting! Social media created this environment where we feel like we always need to be connected, every minute of every day.
But while it’s definitely important to establish a presence on social media, getting too caught up in the social media-sphere will just distract you from the important things that are going to make an impact on your success.
What to Focus on When You Start
So what exactly are the important things?
1. Find Your Voice and Create Content
The first — and most important — thing you want to focus on when you’re starting out is finding your voice and creating amazing content. Think of your voice and content as the foundation of your blog. Just like a house, a skyscraper, or anything else, without a solid foundation, your blog will crumble.
It doesn’t matter if you’re on 10 different social media channels or you’ve read a library’s worth of articles on how to start a successful blog. Because here’s the thing: if you don’t have clarity on who you are, what you want to say, and how you want to say it, no one will want to read it.
2. Know Your Audience — And How to Talk to Them
Once you’ve got your voice down and you’re starting to create awesome content, it’s time to focus on getting to know your audience as well as you know your sister, your mom, or your best friend.
You have to know and understand your avatar backwards, forwards, sideways, and upside down. Some things you need to know about your audience include:
- Who are you talking to?
- What are their hopes and dreams?
- What are their goals?
- What inspires them?
- What do they struggle with?
- What are their fears? What keeps them up at night?
Now, if you don’t know the answers to all those questions on day one, don’t worry! Just like in any other intimate relationship, getting to know your audience is a process. Sometimes you just have to start writing, learn about your audience along your way, and keep refining your avatar as you learn.
So you’ll write an article, get some feedback, and say, “Oh! I just learned something new about my avatar!” You can add it in as you go.
This definitely takes a bit of finesse, but as you develop a stronger voice and start creating content that’s in alignment with your voice and passions, you’ll get to know your audience on a deeper level.
Again, this is a process that will take some time, so don’t be discouraged! In Elite Blog Academy, we talk about fleshing out your avatar and creating amazing content that will connect with that avatar.
I tell people not to move past that part of the course until they’ve built a reserve of at least 15 solid blog posts. Because without amazing content, you don’t really have a blog. It’s like what I said about content being the foundation of your blog; you can’t start building the rest of your house until you’ve laid the foundation.
Really, those are THE most important things to focus on when you first start out. So what are the not-so-important things that can wait until later?
What You Can Skip When You First Start Out
When you’re starting out and totally focused on finding your voice, writing amazing content, and getting to know your audience, feel free to give yourself permission to put off:
When you first start out, don’t worry about how to make money. Not yet, anyway. Focus on finding your voice and refining your message, and worry about the money later.
It sounds counter-intuitive, but trust me — you’ll end up making more if you put back money and focus on the content.
2. Social Media
You also don’t need to worry about having a big presence on a million social media sites. This is an area that sucks many people in, so be careful! Trying to build a following on Instagram, Facebook, Twitter, Pinterest, and all the other sites isn’t a great use of time if you haven’t taken care of the content side of things.
Worry about social media later; it’ll be much easier when you have established a depth of content on your blog.
3. Product Creation
Creating a product takes a lot of time and effort — and when you’re just starting out, it’s important to put that time and effort towards creating amazing content.
4. Site Design
Obviously, you need to have a website for your blog. It’s kind of part of the deal. But don’t worry about getting the site design perfect! I see so many people that spend hours every day tweaking their design, adding colors, and changing fonts. But what they’re actually doing is avoiding writing actual content.
Get your website up and running, then start writing amazing content. You can worry about getting the design right later.
5. Your 5-Year Plan
This is a big one: please, please, please don’t stress about having a detailed 5-year plan for your blog when you first start out. It’s okay if you’re not sure where your blog is headed or what kind of business model you want to be running 5 years down the road. You’ll have plenty of time to plan down the road. For now, it’s totally okay to have no idea!
6. Facebook Advertising
You also don’t need to worry about Facebook advertising or anything overly promotional. If you’re not focused on creating content, there’s really nothing to promote yet!
Now, if you’ve been feeling like you need to get all these things done — and get them all done like, today — I am officially giving you permission NOT to. Seriously, skip them. You’ll have plenty of time to take care of them later. For now, all you have do is the important things: finding your voice, creating amazing content, refining your message, and getting to know your audience.
Now that you know what matters most when you’re starting out — and what doesn’t matter at all — are you ready to start writing? Leave a comment below and let me know how you plan to get started today!
P.S. Need a little help getting your blog up and running? Check out our easy tutorial for how to set up your self-hosted WordPress blog.