Have you been thinking of starting a blog but have held off because you don’t know where to begin? Or, are you a newbie blogger who wants to make sure you are doing things correctly? If you answered “yes” to either of these questions, this post is for you. If you could care less about blogging, please check out the archives where you will find articles on simple living, home organization, living in a small house and more. I will return to my regular blog topics in my next post. In this post, I will be focusing on a few common mistakes made by newbie bloggers (myself included), as well as some things I’ve done to increase traffic on my site, which has allowed me to generate income after a few short months of blogging.
This post contains affiliate links. See disclosure for more information.
I started this blog three months ago because I wanted to spread the “simple living” message. I have a passion for helping people eliminate their personal clutter so they can pursue smaller, slower, simpler lives.
Honestly, though, I never would have started this blog if I was unable to (one day) earn an income from it. For me, it was either start a blog or get a “real” job. I, of course, chose the former!
I have learned so much about blogging in just three short months. My vocabulary has improved since I’ve added terms like, above the fold, ALT tag, CAPTCHA, spam (not the canned kind), permalink, ping, and SEO. My brain is growing a little more each day.
When I first started blogging, I (foolishly) thought the majority of my efforts would be focused on writing. Boy, was I wrong! While writing is, of course, a big part of blogging, so is graphic design, marketing, networking, and even (gasp) HTML
Naturally, I have made my fair share of mistakes as a newbie blogger. However, I’ve also done a few things right. For example, after blogging for 90 days, my page views are sufficient enough to generate a (small) profit. While I am not ready to post any income reports, I would like to share with you a handful of things I’ve learned about blogging.
Blogging Do’s and Don’ts
Do be self-hosted. When you start a blog, you have the option to be self-hosted or free-hosted. Examples of free blogging platforms are Blogger, WordPress, Weebly, and Wix. The upside is that these platforms are free to use. Unfortunately, there are also a few downsides to choosing a free-hosted website. For example, free host services literally own your website. From being included in your site’s URL, to limiting creativity, monetization, and bandwidth, you do not have complete control over your own website. In fact, these companies could close down at any time and take every single one of your posts with them.
Therefore, I strongly suggest a self-hosted (paid) blog from the start. I know, I know, your goal is to make money, not spend it. Fortunately, there are many affordable options when it comes to a self-hosted website. I use Bluehost and can attest to their reliability, awesome customer service, and ease-of-use. They have plans starting at $3.95 per month. Bluehost offers 24/7 customer support, a free domain, and a money-back guarantee! Save up to 34% on ALL Bluehost Shared Hosting Packages! Join today!
Another option for paid website hosting is www.GoDaddy.com. I purchased my domain name through GoDaddy and then transferred it over to Bluehost because I purchased Bluehost before I realized GoDaddy offered web-hosting. An example of what not to do. This turned out to be a big pain, but because I am pleased with Bluehost, I plan to stick with them.
It’s interesting to note that WordPress not only offers free site hosting, but they are also one of the best blogging platforms around. As such, you can choose to be self-hosted through Bluehost, and still use WordPress to design your blog.
Content is King
Do write engaging content. I can’t tell you how many times I have clicked away from a website simply because the author fails to captivate me. It is so important to focus on writing content your readers will appreciate. If you manage to drive traffic to your blog but you fall short of delivering relevant, engaging, informative articles, your readers will not return.
Take the time to do your research before writing a post. Add some depth to your articles. When people take the time to click on an article, they are looking for new and interesting ideas. Chances are, they already have some basic knowledge of the topic you are writing about. Consequently, in order to grow a loyal readership, you will need to offer them more than just the basics. Offer your readers something to ponder, your unique viewpoint, and actionable steps they can take.
Grammar is Queen
good well. If you want to be taken seriously as a blogger, for goodness sake, use proper grammar! I am not saying you have to be a literary scholar in order to be a successful blogger. If grammar is not your strong suit, you can “fake it” by using Grammarly. Before I began using Grammarly to proofread my posts, I was under the assumption I knew a lot about the English language. I’m ashamed to say I was making some very common errors in my writing. In fact, since installing Grammarly (which is free, by the way), I’ve gone back and rewritten some of my earlier (mistake-filled) posts.
Don’t stress over page views. When it comes to page views, try not to stress over them too much in the beginning. It’s very likely your page views will be dismal the first couple of months or so. Instead, use this time to focus on adding fabulous content and making sure your site is visually appealing.
Do work to increase page views by harnessing the power of Pinterest.
The bad news is it could take awhile before you start to see traffic driven by search engines. The good news is you don’t just have to sit around and wait. Over the years, Pinterest has evolved from a fun tool for image boards to a serious search engine. More and more people are using Pinterest in place of Google when searching for something to read.
The first thing you need to do in order to boost your page views through Pinterest is to create eye-catching pins. I size my images to 1000 X 1500, but I plan to experiment with longer pins in the future. Advertise your post by adding a compelling description in the alt text area of your image. Also, be sure to include large text including the title of your post along with your logo or website name. I use Pexels for royalty-free images and PicMonkey to edit them.
The next step to take when using Pinterest to increase your page views is to join as many group boards as humanly possible. Pinterest group boards are simply boards pertaining to a specific topic which multiple people pin to. You can identify group boards by the circle located in the left-hand corner of the board. It will contain photos of some of the people who post to the group. The best way I have discovered to find group boards is to stalk the leaders of your niche, find out which group boards they contribute to, and follow the directions given to request an invite to the board.
Expect to send out multiple (hundreds) of requests if you’d like to be invited to join multiple group boards. As a newbie blogger, many of the larger group board leaders may not accept you. It’s perfectly okay to start with smaller boards and work your way up.
By joining Pinterest group boards, you will immediately expand the reach of your blog. If used correctly, it’s basically a free advertising platform for your website.
Once you’ve joined as many group boards as you are able to, you will need to starting pinning your content to them. Unfortunately, pinning to multiple group boards every day can end up costing you hours of valuable time which you could be using to create great content. Thankfully, there is a wonderful program that does all of the hard work for you, and they offer a free 30-day trial! I can’t say enough about using Boardbooster to automate multiple pins per day. Since I began using Boardbooster, my Pinterest followers have increased by over 1,300% and my page views have increased by over 900%!
Don’t wait to monetize your site. There are two schools of thought on monetization. One says you should include ads in your blog from the beginning. The other states that you should wait until you have at least 10,000 page views. I began my partnership with affiliates as soon as my blog went live. Here are the two main reasons I chose to monetize my site from day one.
- To get my readers accustomed to the overall feel of my blog. I include banner ads as well as affiliate links in practically every post I write. If I began my blog without ads and affiliates and then suddenly switched to including them, my readers would surely notice. Some might even be offended. Therefore, by incorporating ads and affiliates from the beginning, I am providing transparency to the kind folks who read my blog.
- If a post goes viral, I want to be ready. Even with my modest page views, In the three months since I began blogging, I have already earned a little cash through ads and affiliate links. If (and hopefully when) one of my posts goes viral, I want to be sure the foundation is already in place to allow increased profits. I certainly don’t want to miss out on potential revenue. Do you?
In case you are interested, here are a few of the ads/affiliates I use:
*Update 3/27/2017: I have recently purchased three courses which have drastically improved my blog’s traffic and earnings. The first is “How I Went from 17k to 350k+ Monthly Page Views in 9 Months” by Lena Gott of What Mommy Does. This is a comprehensive 86+ page ebook that covers everything from finding your focus, choosing keywords, improving results on social media, and more. Get your ebook here. Two other courses which I have had wonderful results from (both from Busy Budgeter) are Rosemarie’s “Pinterest Strategy Guide” as well as her “Core Affiliate Strategy Guide”. I love Rosemarie’s no-nonsense step-by-step teaching method. Her guides are short and easy to follow.
Since implementing the advice found in these resources, my page views have passed 100K per month and my income has increased as well. I highly recommend these products whether you are a newbie blogger or a more seasoned blogger who is looking for ways to increase traffic/income on your blog.
If you are a wannabe or newbie blogger, I encourage you to improve your blog by utilizing these simple tips. I have learned so much more than I could ever share in a single post, so be on the lookout for part two! If you’d like to know the number of my page views as well as the year-to-date (humble) income I have earned from three short months of blogging, please sign up for my newsletter, and I will let you know!
This post is long, so you may want to pin for later!