411 Some Things You Should Know Before You Start a Blog

You’re passionate about some subject and are considering starting a blog. Here’s some things you should know first:

What your blog is about will eventually change to one degree or another. I have noticed many bloggers redefine themselves, some more than others. My blog was initially a way to share a factoring puzzle I invented, but most of the people who visit my blog are not looking for puzzles; they want to find the factors of a particular number. After all, my blog name implies that factors can be found here. To satisfy these viewers, I now give the factoring information for the number 411:

  • 411 is a composite number.
  • Prime factorization: 411 = 3 x 137
  • The exponents in the prime factorization are 1 and 1. Adding one to each and multiplying we get (1 + 1)(1 + 1) = 2 x 2 = 4. Therefore 411 has exactly 4 factors.
  • Factors of 411: 1, 3, 137, 411
  • Factor pairs: 411 = 1 x 411 or 3 x 137
  • 411 has no square factors that allow its square root to be simplified. √411 ≈ 20.2731

When I first noticed that people were visiting my blog because they wanted to know the factors of a number, I resisted changing, but later I gave in. I even edited all my previous blog posts to include factored numbers. Eventually I added the square roots of numbers and indicated if those square roots could be simplified. Still I keep my original intent and publish the puzzles I create.

Coming up with imaginative titles for EVERY blog post can be tedious or even impossible. Many people judge whether or not a post is worth reading by the title. Sometimes a great title pops into my head, but most of the time I’ve got nothing. I started giving my puzzle posts boring titles like “Level 3”  and actually had several posts with that same name. When my stats page told me that someone liked or visited a post called Level 2, I wasn’t sure which post that was. When I started factoring numbers, it solved my problem of giving each post a distinctive title even if it was still a boring name. Now I often use unimaginative titles like “406 and Level 4”.

Blogging uses up more time than you imagine it will. I once read a very long, hilariously funny, grammatically perfect post that the author claimed he wrote during his lunch time. I find that claim very hard to believe because it certainly doesn’t work that way for me. I can spend 15-30 minutes reading or writing blogs, but the clock at my house indicates that I actually spent two hours or more. No matter what clock I use, it’s the same story.

If you write a blog, you will connect with a community of people who read your blog and you read theirs. All that reading takes time. Commenting on someone else’s blog or answering a comment on your own blog also takes time. It may seem like you’re only spending a few minutes at a time, but it really is much longer than that. Family members may complain about other things not getting done or quality time not being spent even if they are trying to be supportive. You will find blogs you want to read even though its writer doesn’t feel the same way about your blog. You will learn so much reading other people’s blogs, and you may want to read more books about a particular subject or even write about it yourself. You will find yourself wishing there were more hours in the day, or that you could actually make some money blogging and cut back on your hours at your regular job.

Most bloggers don’t make money blogging. If you want to make money on WordPress, you have to have enough views, you have to purchase your own domain name, and you have to sign up for WordAds. After some consideration, I took this step in August 2014. I registered my domain name for $18 a year and signed up for WordAds. I also pay another $8 each year to keep my contact information private.

How many views do you have to have to make money on WordPress? Update: Since writing this post, WordPress allows ALL of its bloggers to sign up for Wordads. Now every blog with a registered domain name is a potential money maker, even if it turns out to be just a little bit of money each month. The amount of money that you’ll make will depend on how many views you have and where those views come from. 

Was it worth it to register your own domain name? Yes, the number of views I’ve received after registering is much, much greater than it was before I registered. It is much easier to tell friends and acquaintances to look for Findthefactors.com than it was to tell them that name with wordpress added to it. Even though it cost more money than I might have made back, it helps me reach more viewers, and that helps me meet my original objective. The only drawback is that if don’t renew my registration every year Findthefactors.com could become what they call a parking lot. I would have no control over what people would see if they went to the site. If you read the fine print when you register your domain, this stipulation is made quite clear. Somebody else could put whatever they want on the unregistered site, including adult content. I intend to continue registering Findthefactor.com for the rest of my life. Hopefully my children and grandchildren will also after I’m gone.

If you’re still thinking of starting a blog, do it because you love a particular subject. Do it because it pleases you. There will be days when absolutely nobody else looks at your blog. You will gain some followers, but some of those followers will get discouraged with their statistics and quit blogging and quit reading your blog. You will also get some followers who follow you for the sole purpose of trying to get you to follow them back. Once you follow them, they never look at your blog again. If you blog, you have to do it for yourself, and if anyone else enjoys it, that is a bonus.

I chose WordPress because it allows me to put excel documents on my blog. (Blogspot didn’t.) Unfortunately people who view my blog on their smart phones can’t see those documents. I hope there are a few teachers out there who at least occasionally look at my blog on their home or school computers and print out the puzzles for their classes. That would make my decision to add those documents definitely worth it.

Fellow bloggers, what other things do you think new bloggers should know?