Thinking of starting a blog this year? You might be passionate about blogging, but have no idea where to start. You may be unsure of what blogging platform and tools to use.
You want to skip making the most common blunders that bloggers make. Worst of all, you are biting your nails on whether you will attract enough readers or if you will have enough traffic for monetization.
But guess what? You have come to the right place. In this article you will get blogging advice and suggestions from 28 industry leading blogging experts and influencers.
I have compiled these responses to serve as a go-to guide for newbie bloggers, and who better to learn from than those who have successfully run their blogs.
So let’s find how you can get ahead of the curve in starting and running your blog.
I conducted the survey by asking industry blogging experts and influencers 3 important questions: What blogging platform and tools do you recommend? What blogging mistakes should beginners avoid? Should newbies focus on monetizing their blogs and, if so, what approach should they take?
Before we dive into what our participants have to say, here are the survey highlights.
Preferred Blogging Platform
WordPress was the most recommended blogging platform according to 22 out of 26 participants. The CMS was noted for its professionalism and user-friendliness, which are especially important for new websites. Some experts suggested LinkedIn, Instagram, and CoSchedule, and cited blogging goals as the reason for using different platforms.
Recommended Influencer Tools
Experts suggested a wide range of influencer tools, but mainly recommended using Yoast SEO, W3 Total Cache, XML Sitemaps, and plugins for image optimization and social media. Other tools included Broken Link Checker, LeadPages for lead generation, and ConvertKit for email marketing. Some also urged the importance of using a professional theme for WordPress.
List of Mistakes to Avoid
There were many mistakes that experts urged to avoid. Some of these include: thinking it is a quick-rich method, not being consistent, lacking original content, copying others, not selecting a niche, giving up too early, and focusing on monetization instead of audience building.
To Monetize or not to Monetize
Most bloggers were not in favor of monetizing a blog. They explained that it required creating quality content and building an audience first which can get neglected. Some also pointed out to refrain from it but know which monetization to go for from the onset. Others, however, were ardent supporters of monetization, especially if bloggers were looking to earn in the future and to increase their blog’s domain authority.
Responses In Detail
The responses of leading blogging experts and influencers reflects their successful experiences in creating and managing a blog, as well as avoiding the many pitfalls most bloggers often face.
The following are a compilation of detailed responses from professional bloggers.
Name and intro: Gloria from Nomadicchica
Blogging mistakes to avoid: “Not being honest and original, and doing things only because of the money”
Monetization tip: “It is always, but it will probably take several years before you see a penny. If your goal is to make money there are other several easier ways and business that will pay back faster and easier”.
Name and intro: Chris Makara, owner of Chrismakara
Recommended platform and tools: “I definitely recommend WordPress with these plugins: Imagify, Yoast SEO, UpdraftPlus, Backup/Restore, Wordfence Security, YoRocket”.
Blogging mistakes to avoid: “I think the biggest mistake is being afraid to publish. Instead, you need to be more frequent at the beginning with publishing content so that you can not only populate your site with content, but also so that you can become a better writer”.
Monetization tip: “When you are first starting, I don’t think you need to be monetizing from day 1. Instead, you should be looking at building out your content library, generating traffic, etc. However, you should be planning (or know) how you would ultimately like to monetize your site”.
Name and intro: Steve Horn, owner of Desmog Blog
Recommended platform and tools: “Drupal”
Blogging mistakes to avoid: “Writing about things they don’t care about. Have a passion for the topic and blog/write ahead!”
Monetization tip: “I’ve always worked for non-profits, so I’m not in position to answer that”.
Name and intro: Michael Pozdnev from I Wanna Be a Blogger
Recommended platform and tools: “WordPress”.
Blogging mistakes to avoid: “Do not create too many new articles. It is better to create one, but very detailed and useful”.
Monetization tip: “I would not rush to monetize the blog in the first year. First, you need to understand how you can better serve your readers. Understand your own strengths and weaknesses. And only then, after you learned to help your subscribers, start making money”.
Name and intro: John Adams, owner of Dadbloguk
Recommended platform and toolset: WordPress
Blogging mistakes to avoid: “Hahaha! Where to start? Do not think blogging is a way to make a quick buck. Present yourself well, but do not present yourself falsely online. Do not underestimate how much time you will have to spend building your social media presence. Do not, whatever you do, buy followers on social media. it may be a quick way to get a following, but it will be poor quality and blogging is increasingly about engagement”.
Monetization tip: “For newbies, not really. You need time to build a digital footprint and while it is tempting to run before you can walk, you do need to learn the industry. Despite the image blogging has, it is not a way to make a quick buck”.
Name and intro: Michael Turtle from Time Travel Turtle
Recommended platform and toolset: WordPress, Yoast SEO, and any social media scheduler.
Blogging mistakes to avoid: “The biggest mistake is trying to do everything and trying to be too general or too large right from the start. Be really specific with the content you’re producing and why you’re producing it. Make each small thing as good as possible and the bigger success will come naturally”.
Monetization tip: “I don’t think actually monetising a blog at first is a good idea because that can sometimes stand in the way of building a good audience – and that should be the most important thing. However, I think knowing how you will monetise from the beginning is really important to make sure you’re heading in the right direction and not wasting your time”.
Name and intro: Lisa Hamilton from See Want Shop
Recommended platform and toolset: WordPress
Blogging mistakes to avoid: “Trying to emulate others”.
Monetization tip: “No not for beginners. Start with genuine, organic content”.
Name and intro: Paul Minors, owner of PaulMinors
Recommended platform and toolset: WordPress, Buffer, and Ulysses.
Blogging mistakes to avoid: “Giving up. It takes time and effort to build a blog. This is not a get rich quick strategy. It’s going to take hard work and a lot of effort. Don’t make the mistake of thinking you can post a few articles and you’ll magically find success”.
Monetization tip: “No. In the beginning, focus on producing quality, consistent content”.
Name and intro: Theo J. Ellis, owner of JustBeReal
Recommended platform and toolset: “WordPress is all you need if you’re starting a blog. As far as tools, I wouldn’t worry about that in the early stages.At most, all you need is an SEO tool, a professional theme (with useful features built-in), and any plugins related to what it is you’re trying to accomplish with your blog/website”
Blogging mistakes to avoid: “Firstly, trying to be like other bloggers.
Secondly, expecting overnight success. If you’re too impatient, quit NOW.
Thirdly, listening to “best practices”. If it’s a “best” practice, that means everyone else is doing it. And that makes “you” no different.
Fourthly, believing you have “nothing” to offer because you’re “new”. Don’t undervalue yourself. You know things others don’t, and that’s a fact. Take advantage of that, because there are people who will value it. Despite you not being an “expert” yet.
Fifthly, “not” writing from your experiences. Like point number 4, your experiences have value. Share them, it enhances your message.
Lastly, following other bloggers. “Study” other bloggers, don’t follow them. If you get too carried away with “following” what everyone else is doing, you’ll end up becoming them. Or you’ll lose focus on your own message. Similar to point number 1”.
Monetization tip: “My advice is don’t bother monetizing if you have “no idea” what you’re doing. If you’ve ran an online shop for example, and you know how to “Monetize” it without diluting your message, brand, etc, then go ahead. Problem is though – if you have no idea what you’re doing (like most in the beginning), you’ll just be another blogger plastering bullshit ads all over your website. Which may dilute the value of your blogs message in the early stages when nobody knows or respects you”.
Name and intro: Lisa Sicard of Inspire To Thrive
Recommended platform and toolset: “If you plan to grow and do it professionally, then WordPress. If not, Wix is great and super easy to set up”
Blogging mistakes to avoid: “They should avoid to try to do it all alone. They should let others contribute to their blog, engage with others on the blog and on social networks. They should not be afraid to promote their content and quickly start a list for email marketing”.
Monetization tip: “No, I think they should produce content first, engage and then later monetize the blog”.
Name and intro: Reza Merchant, The Food Blogger
Recommended platform and toolset: “Technically, it depends upon your niche of the blog. However, in most cases, Instagram is a good platform to begin with. If they wish to grow further, then can then opt for a website. WordPress is comprehensively humble and works like a charm. Tutorials must be watched before diving into it though”.
Blogging mistakes to avoid: “Consistency is the key when it comes to blogging. Even if you are unable to reach out to a large number of crowd, do not get disheartened and continue producing content. In the beginning, do not expect monetary benefits, just focus on producing content for your blog with consistency and things will work out for you”.
Monetization tip: “No it is not. Simply because when newbies focus on making money, they tend to provide lesser effort on quality content. Where as if they focus mainly and solely on creating valuable content, they can monetize their blogs in various ways among which branding offers impressive compensations”.
Name and intro: Amy from AmyFillinger
Recommended platform and toolset: “I recommend being self hosted through Siteground with WordPress.org. I also think even newbie bloggers should sign up for an email service, I like Mailerlite”.
Blogging mistakes to avoid: “New bloggers should avoid using a free platform like WordPress.com or Blogger. It will be hard to grow and monetize later. New bloggers should also be careful not to promote offers that they don’t believe in”.
Monetization tip: “Monetizing is fine, as long as it’s done properly. Adding affiliate links (from Amazon, etc) naturally into an article is fine. Promoting anything and everything under the sun will make readers run away, they will know it isn’t genuine! I also think that ads are fine for newbies, if they aren’t overdone.”
Name and intro: Rakesh Kumar, founder of Binary Note
Recommended platform and toolset: “Well, if you are an absolute beginner, then i would suggest to go with Blogger and try everything it provides. The platform is totally free, and you could expand beyond your imagination.
On the other hand, you can go with the free version of WordPress ie. WordPress.org. Although there are lots of WordPress developers and sites that will help you to achieve your goals, there is a learning curve and few things that must be well thought out before moving onto the Free version of WordPress.
Firstly, there is hosting. This is the number one culprit of slow loading websites. Most of the time newbies prefer money over speed, but here speed matters more than money, and, in this case, they should never ever compromise. Hostgator is one such hosting provider that has minimum ping in India.
Secondly, plugins need to be understood. How many plugins should they install and what is the basic functionality of that plugin behind the scene? Most of the time, newbies install a plugin based on the outer look of that plugin, but they should also understand how the plugin is loading all their contents on the website and how much http and database calls that particular plugin is making. A few plugins that I always use on my WordPress blogs are – Yoast SEO, W3 Total Cache, and comment reply notification.
The next important feature that newbies should understand very clearly is Theme selection. This is the single item that can change the way people perceive their blog; if they are not able to finalize their theme, then they must take help from their seniors”.
Blogging mistakes to avoid: “Subject selection is the one and only mistake that i would recommend new bloggers should avoid”.
Monetization tip: “Monetizing a blog is not a bad idea even for a newbie, but they must understand how to monetize their website so that their wanna be readers should not refrain from their blog. Too much ads on a newly launched blog/website normally compel readers to avoid that.Text link based monetization methods should be avoided and review-based articles should be their primary method”.
Name and intro: Neal Schaffer from NealSchaffer and owner of Maximize Social Business
Recommended platform and toolset: “WordPress is the no-brainer here, and I would also recommend LeadPages for landing page creation, OptinMonster for additional splash pages and widgets, ConvertKit for email marketing, and WordPress plugins such as Ad Inserter, CloudFlare, CoSchedule, Dave’s WordPress Live Search, and Fanciest Author Box to name a few!”
Blogging mistakes to avoid: “Focus on the quality of your content and building a community, not copying the content of everyone else and focusing on quantity!”
Monetization tip: “I believe that monetizing a blog is NOT a good idea for newbies. Blog monetization is not as easy as it sounds and it requires time to build a community that will generate website traffic as well as building trust with Google for SEO. The best approach is to think of monetization in terms of selling your own products and services one day, and building a community and list to help you get there. Of course, you can leverage ads and affiliate marketing along the way, but by having a vision of building a community around your own brand it will help you focus on things that will help make you and your content more successful”.
Name and intro: Bill Acholla, blogger at BillAcholla
Recommended platform and toolset: “Wordpress.org, Yoast SEO, Sucuri, wp-rocket.me, W3 Total Cache, Akismet, Google XML Sitemaps”
Blogging mistakes to avoid: “Firstly, they should avoid targeting keywords, but instead they should focus on relevant topics that will inspire their readers. Secondly, they should not wait for Google to send them traffic because know one knows how the Google algorithm decides your rankings. Finally, they should not write regularly. From my own experience, writing two epic articles per month is great. This will create more room for you to promote your epic content effectively”.
Monetization tip: “No”.
Name and intro: Anil Agarwal from Bloggers Passion
Recommended platform and toolset: “Wordpress as Platform. Plugins: SEO Plugin (Yoast), Social Sharing plugin, Image optimization plugin, Caching plugin (W3 Total Cache), Related Post plugin, Security & Backup plugin, and Comment moderation plugin (Akismet)”.
Blogging mistakes to avoid: “They should not start their blogs on free hosting or sub-domains (Avoid using free blogs that are created on Blogger.com or WordPress). They should do proper research before start writing about. Don’t post short contents, try to publish detailed contents on your blog”.
Monetization tip: “I think newbies should first focus on building traffic to their blogs. Once they start seeing some traffic coming to their blogs from Google search, they should start looking for ways to earn money. Google Adsense used to the simple and easy to way to start seeing some earning coming off your blog traffic. Please check this post https://bloggerspassion.com/google-adsense-alternatives-best-12-money-making-alternatives-to-google-adsense/ to find more ways to earn revenue from a blog in 2018”.
Name and intro: Justice Michell from JusticeMichell
Recommended platform and toolset: “SquareSpace; CoSchedule; IFTTT”
Blogging mistakes to avoid: “Prepare ALL content for SEO. Always use image tags, links, and reference your post to others content to show you did your research. Make the content fun to write; if the blog takes off, you better like what you’re doing or it will be just another unfulfilling exercise and it will show in your writing. ASK YOUR READERSHIP what they want. Don’t make presumptions. #1 rule — don’t be a douchebag”
Monetization tip: “I would approach this process with a slow progression. I think it’s best that new blogger FILL the blog with (at a minimum) of 50 solid posts; their own content that has useful actionable directives for a readership, not simply redirects or reposts of someone else’s work”.
Name and intro: Nate Shivar, owner of Shivar Web
Recommended platform and toolset: “WordPress + Yoast SEO + Well-Coded Theme Framework”.
Blogging mistakes to avoid: “Writing about whatever the new blogger cares about. Write about what other people care about – that the new blogger knows something about”.
Monetization tip: “Not at first. If you go right for monetization, then you’ll box yourself in before you’ve developed a real audience. Focus on developing an audience and the monetization will come – probably in a form that you least expect”.
Name and intro: Cent Muruganandam from yourescapefrom9to5.com and socialmediamarketo.com
Recommended platform and toolset: “WordPress, a simple and clean theme, Yoast SEO and W3 Total Cache”.
Blogging mistakes to avoid: “Be patient, new bloggers take around 1 year before they learn the best way to monetize their blogs. After the first 10 – 12 months things get easier but it is important to keep motivated and never give up. Learn as much as you can and keep experimenting. Good luck!”
Monetization tip: “Yes, get your Domain Authority High by Link Building and you will get advertising and sponsored post offers. You can also try Google Adsense which is good for beginners”.
Name and intro: Lorraine Reguly, owner of Wording Wel
Recommended platform and toolset: “WordPress is definitely the way to go. You can then use helpful plugins like XML Sitemaps, Yoast SEO, Broken Link Checker, and so much more!”
Blogging mistakes to avoid: “To answer this question, I’d like to direct new bloggers to the article: 5 Things New Bloggers Need to Know
Monetization tip: “Yes. Affiliate marketing, AdSense, and selling your own products and/or services is THE way to go. Always. 🙂 ”.
Name and intro: Jamie Spencer from Make a Website Hub
Recommended platform and toolset: “WordPress, Yoast SEO, a fast reliable web host, Easyazon if you want to promote Amazon affiliate links, and a good quality SEO tool set such as SEMRush or Ahrefs”.
Blogging mistakes to avoid: “Avoid over monetising your blog and creating a cluttered user experience with lots of different adverts and offers. From day one, capture emails to build a list that you can market your content and offers to”.
Monetization tip: “If you plan on using your blog to make money then definitely start monetising it from the start. I prefer affiliate marketing as it’s an easy way to earn money by recommending products you use and love.”
Name and intro: Chris Dyson of Site Beginner
Recommended platform and toolset: “I prefer WordPress for starting a new website or blog. I also recommend utilising a plugin for making sure your on page SEO is set up well such as Yoast. A good caching plugin and a security plugin are also handy unless you opt for a specialist WP hosting company”.
Blogging mistakes to avoid: “The biggest mistake I made was not building a list from the start, I probably missed out on thousands of potential leads. So I would say you need to build an email list from day one, also avoid falling for any schemes that promise fast traffic from Google, it’s better to take a slow and steady approach to building up your blog audience and trust”.
Monetization tip: “I think all newbies should monetise their blogs it’s a great way to learn about building an online business. I prefer affiliate marketing and have managed to create lots of blogs over the years which have made a passive income. The best profit margins are in creating your own informational products and the worst I’ve found are using banner ads such as Adsense all over a website”.
Name and intro: Tanyi Melvis Bechemnyo from Blog Tools Corner urged:
Recommended platform and toolset: “Self-Hosted WordPress. There are so many relevant plugins to use but I will recommend Yoast Seo and sumome for social sharing as starting tools”.
Blogging mistakes to avoid: “Blog commenting and building backlinks on blogs not related to their niche”.
Monetization tip: “Yes it’s a good idea to start monetizing from the start because it sets you up for success. The best approach is to build out a complete sales Funnel and use email marketing to promote it.”
Name and intro: Jitendra Vaswani from Bloggers Ideas
Recommended platform and toolset: “I use lot of online tools and services for my business. I would like to break down these tools into categories.
SEO & social media tools: Ahrefs, Semrush, Buffer.com, Majestic SEO, Moz.com Pro, Kwfinder. For Team Management Tools, I use Trello and Slack. I am using lot of plugins on my blog and I would mention some of my fav plugins: SEO Yoast, Akismet, EasyAzon, EasyAzon Tables, EWWW Image Optimizer, Growmap Anti Spambot Plugin, iThemes Security, Jetpack by WordPress.com, ManageWP – Worker, Themify Builder, Varnish HTTP Purge, WP Shortcode by MyThemeShop, W3 Total Cache, and VaultPress”.
Blogging mistakes to avoid: “When I started blogging, I made mistakes in choosing the wrong hosting provider, and it cost me a lot of money, and eventually my blogs used to go down because of poor hosting services. So invest in yourself first and buy good hosting. Also never ever go for cracked wordpress themes & plugins, it will hamper you a lot in long run. I have used cracked themes & software and it has hampered my business. So buy original products in barter groups, as this will help save money and avoid causing any negative impact on your business”.
Monetization tip: “In the beginning I think newbies should focus on creating quality content and then after having some great content on blog, they can monetize through lot of ways. It all depends on their skill-sets; they can run different money making methods: Affiliate Marketing Through Cj.com and Shareasale.com, Sponsored Content, PR Marketing, Consultation Services, Digital Marketing Services to premium clients only”.
Name and intro: Jessica Autumn, founder of JessicaAutumn
Recommended platform and toolset: “Wordpress, Commentluv, Mailmunch. Pretty Links, Social Warfare, WP super cache, and Yoast SEO”
Blogging mistakes to avoid: “Trying to master every social platform at once. Start with one, master it, then move on to the next”.
Monetization tip: “Yes, but adding ads to a new blog with little traffic is a waste of time since the money is not worth it. Monetizing through affiliate marketing and selling their own products are the best ways when first starting out”.
Name and intro: Sam Hurley from Optim Eyez
Recommended platform and toolset: “WordPress + a robust security plugin (i.e. Wordfence) and as much of the site (as possible) custom developed! Plugins can really slow a site down and create unnecessary vulnerabilities…Spending money in the beginning, often pays off later!”
Blogging mistakes to avoid: “Don’t over-monetize, don’t spam, don’t ask anybody for anything, without first offering them tons of value”
Monetization tip: “Only if it’s not forced. User / Customer Experience should ALWAYS be priority #1. I still see far too many blogs overloaded with ads and pop ups and it just completely ruins the content. The best way to monetize is to first produce awesome material without any cash grabs. After the blog has built some traction over time, THEN introduce some potential revenue / income streams. Also, learn from the best. Research the competition who rank at the top of Google for high-traffic search queries and see how they do it!”
Name and intro: Raelyn Tan offers blogging and business tips on RaelynTan
Recommended platform and toolset: “I would recommend Siteground, Convertkit and Leadpages. These are my favorite tools to use as of now”.
Blogging mistakes to avoid: “Giving up”
Monetization tip: “Of course! The best approach is to solve a pressing problem for your target audience through your own product or services. Advertising and sponsored posts only bring you a small amount of money unless you have huge amounts of traffic, so building your own products help a lot. I recommend digital products as you do not have to spend additional time sourcing for the product once you have created it”.
Name and intro: Nick Ross from Filtered Media
Recommended platform and toolset: “Wordpress with Yoast. For social… LinkedIn (at the moment) and Instagram”.
Blogging mistakes to avoid: “Thinking that they can just sell ads and also that people will read what they post. To be fair, most publishers don’t understand the latter”.
Monetization tip: “Monetising from scratch will be very difficult. Need to build an audience first. You need to become regarded as an influencer and go to as many press events as possible. But so much of that depends on the size and quality of your following. So standing out is important”.
Name and intro: Jacob Whitmore, blogger at Blogging Titan and Whito Media
Recommended platform and toolset: “Bloom by Elegant Themes”
Blogging mistakes to avoid: “Not to worry if your launch is a failure”.
Monetization tip: “No, newbies should not start a blog with the goal to make money, if so they will quite early as they wont see a lot of money in the first few months of blogging”.