We have been blogging for nearly 2 years now. Blogging is a lot of hard work, with a lot of trial and error. We decided to write this post because we see so many new bloggers that get frustrated, the same way we did when we started out. We hope this will help you to overcome some of those frustrations.
Figure out what topic or topics you want to write about
When we first started out, we decided that we would write about what was important in our life, and that was minimalism. It was great! However, after a few months we ended up running out of topics to write on that hadn’t been written about by several other bloggers. Lesson learned. Fast forward 1 year and we have changed our writing to include diet, health and fitness and are starting a new travel series. We still do the odd post on minimalism as it is very much part of our life.
The takeaway from this is that unless you are going to start a blog on one of the bigger genre’s like travel, health and fitness, cooking, crafts and DYI etc. then you should not limit yourself to one subject.
Have Multiple Posts Prepared Before You Launch
Another issue we had and have heard several other times from other bloggers, is that when we started our blog we only had one post done. For us it wasn’t too bad because we already had a huge following (you can see more about this later in the section What We Did Right!)
By starting out with only 1 or 2 posts, it doesn’t give you much time to put your blog out there to the public, while making sure you have enough pins made up for Pinterest, Instagram and so forth, while still having time to write that new post you have to get done.
If I was starting over I would release about a half dozen posts before I let people know that they were even up on our site. That way I could backlink posts so that people would stay on your site longer. I say this because I see so many people out there advertising " How To's" and are quoting stats like 22,000 unique visitors and 33,000 page views in a month. Well i'm sorry but if people are clicking off of your post after one and a half pages then you are not keeping them interested. We average over 4 pages per view, that means a lot, especially if you are trying to get ad revenue.
Don’t try to Master all social media at once
The biggest fallback we had when we first published our blog, was to try and share our work across all the social media platforms we could find. All that ended up happening was that we were putting time, we really didn’t have, into posting into places that weren’t getting any views. We scaled it back to 2 platforms, Facebook and Pinterest (these might be different for you) and really started getting results. As of today, about 50% of our views come from Facebook and 40% from Pinterest, with the other 10% coming from Instagram, twitter, mix and google.
Basically, learn to master a couple, then, if you have time, add in other platforms.
Pay for your Site!
I only say this if you plan to monetize your blog. If you are just wanting to write a blog on a subject that you like for fun, then by all means use a free site. Just know that you will be missing some of the options that only come from paid sites, such as the ability to advertise on your site and make a small commission from each sale.
When we started, we looked into free sites, but heard a lot of negative things (constrictions) about them… We researched paid sites and found that 2 of the highest rated were Wix and Weebly. We chose Weebly and are very happy with them. It is easy to use and anytime we have had any issues we just call or email them and they have the issue solved in no time! Their customer service is superb.
If you would like to check out Weebly, we have put a link below. They have plenty of free add-ons and like we said, the customer service is great, and to us that means a lot!
Start getting your advertisers in place
If after you start blogging and you decide that you want to monetize your blog, our best advice would be to do your research ahead of time. We waited about 3 months and wish we hadn’t. Some affiliate programs want you to have a certain amount of monthly views in order to even sign up. There are some, like Amazon, who will accept you right away (we honestly haven’t had much luck with Amazon, we didn’t reach their threshold of 3 sales and we were released. We have since resigned with them and have 1 sale) We know Amazon is good, it just doesn’t fit our blog very well. There are lots of other blogs out there that do very well with Amazon and make lots of money.
Our next affiliate program was ShareASale. This one has done quite well for us. We have received 6 payments from them to date. They have lots of different vendors to choose from that can align with what you are blogging about. We have put a link to ShareASale below. Check them out if you don’t already use them.
Our biggest failure to date has been not getting Google AdSense sooner. After about 4 months we had gotten our page views up to about 500 a day, then it happened at about 6 months, blogger burn out! We just didn’t feel like writing, and had other commitments that kind of took over. We got “out of the groove” and didn’t post for nearly a year. If we would have had Google Ad Sense before that, we still would have made a bit of income from our blog since we still had lots of page views from our older posts.
We did get Google AdSense when we started back, and now, just 2 months in we are making about $20/week. Yes, we know that isn’t much but it will pay for our website, Tailwind, and help pay for a short vacation. It’s really just like having some free spending money, just for posting a few ads in your blog.
Here’s a link to ShareASale.
We wish that we would have had the opportunity to guest post on another blog. It brings great exposure to your work. We have guest posts on our blog. During the first 6 months of blogging we had 4 guests post. We did all the promotion work for the post, getting viewers to interact with the guest posters pages, then ensured that their information (website, Facebook, Instagram etc.) was in the blog post. A couple of them were able to obtain quite a few new followers from those posts on our blog.
Currently we are accepting guests posts in our Health and Diet series, as well as in our Travel series, which is going to cover each province, state and territory in North America as well as other countries throughout the world. If you are interested in more information on being a Guest writer for us, please contact us at firstname.lastname@example.org
Set up a Pinterest Account Properly
For those of you who are planning on using Pinterest as one of your platforms for getting views on your site, then ensure that you set the account up properly.
Sure, we get about 40% of our views from Pinterest, but I can only imagine what our numbers would be like if we had it set up properly from the start.
In the beginning, we just set up our account and would pin to random boards, joined lots of groups that supposedly repin your pins etc. Then about a month ago we decided that I should clean up our account. We had about 150 different boards (80 of which were group ones). Got rid of some of our miscellaneous boards and began giving the better one’s relevant headings. Since we have changed our board tittles we have been getting between 10-20 new followers per day. Try to make relevant boards like Recipes, Travel, Fashion, Health, Fitness, and two that I have found that get a lot of followers, Hiking and Smoothies. Maybe try to find a person on Pinterest that has 10,000 plus followers and see what types of boards they have and copy some of their headings.
Then we got Tailwind, what a game changer! I had already used Tailwind before (through a 1 month free trial) and found it was good, but when I took the plunge and bought the yearly membership (about $105) I saw the real advantage to it. It allows you to schedule pins to certain times, so you don’t have to manually pin and look like a spammer. You can join 10 Tailwind tribes which has dramatically increased the number of repins that we get, and best of all it gives you statistics on almost everything to do with your account.
The most useful stats I found were Board Insights. It tells you how many followers, how many repins, a virality score (repins/pins) and an engagement score (Repins/pins/followers)
The two that you should be interested in are the virality and engagement scores. The higher they are the better. By using these scores, we were able to get rid of 60 group boards because the scores were so low (example: 80,000 pins and only 10,000 repins, why am I wasting my time posting here when only 1 of 8 pins are ever repined), they were just a waste of time that we could be using elsewhere to gain more followers.
Pinterest is huge for a blogger, and there is way too much to cover in this post. We will do another post just on Pinterest and Tailwind in the near future.
If you would like to get a free 30-day trial of Tailwind then just click on the Tailwind banner below. We think you will find it is worth it!
The Things We Did Right
There were actually a few things we did do right when we started.
A Facebook Page:
About a month before we started the blog, we made a Facebook page. Over the course of a month we posted lots of great material and quotes, then paid to promote them. We spent about $240 promoting and ended up with nearly 10,000 Facebook followers and 1500 of those became friends. Yes, I know that’s a lot of money for a page, but it gave us people who were interested in the topic that we were writing about. It gave us a lot of initial views that we would have otherwise had a hard time getting. I spoke with other minimalism bloggers who were just starting out and they were happy when they got 100 views in a month! We were getting that per day from day one! Plus, the real bonus is that we have made so many friends and acquaintances on there that have really enriched our lives.
Not Trying to Do Too Much Social Media
Yes, this was one of the things we did wrong in the start, but luckily, we were able to figure it out early. We should have just stuck to Facebook and Pinterest and things would have been much smoother. With the addition of Tailwind, we are now going to start doing more on Instagram and google + since we now have our whole week set up for Pinterest in less than an hour a week. We actually got some date night back!
Just pick 2 to start with. If you are a rock star on Instagram for instance, then use it and pick one other. Take time to learn the others and implement them when you have a good routine down and have the time.
We’ve learned everything ourselves
For most bloggers, including ourselves, we have a hard time trying to navigate the whole world of blogging. Everywhere you turn you will see courses that will help you improve your blog, your Facebook, Pinterest…you get the idea. We know we will likely get some flak for this, but we’re ok with that!, we are tough Canadians (it's already snowed 3 times here and it's only September 22) You DON’T need to spend huge amounts of money to get information. If that’s what you chose to do, then that’s totally your choice and it may or may not work for you. It is not a one size fits all kind of world. Go online, google it, look on Pinterest, join a Facebook group for bloggers, “Blogging for new Bloggers” is a good one but there are also many others. Buy a cheap book or eBook, some eBooks are even free. If all else fails, just ask another blogger. We have helped at least 20 people get started or figure out certain aspects of blogging, at a cost of $0.00, after all we are a community, in our opinion.
If there is something that you are stuck on, or have some information that could possibly make our or someone else’s blogging experience better, then feel free to comment or send us an email at email@example.com
Here's an additional tip. #11 Start a mailing list. When we restarted our blog to include heath and fitness, we added a new email list to the site. Within 6 weeks we have gotten over 500 subscribers to our list, even if you only get 10 people in the first month then that's 10 people that want to read what you are writing. It is just free advertising for your blog or if you are thinking of starting an online store then new customers for your products.
In conclusion, it doesn’t take a lot of money to start a blog and make money at it. We have spent just over $600 in the last 2 years (web site, domain names – have bought 3 of them, FaceBook promotion, and tailwind), and have made about 3x that (We can’t help but wonder what we would have made if we hadn’t taken a year off). And if we keep making $$ like we have over the last month, then the sky is the limit! What it does take as a lot of time, sometimes a few cuss words (sorry) especially when things don’t go exactly the way you thought they would. It’s not a “get rich quick”, it’s slow and steady and a few extra dollars in our pockets. If we wanted to “get Rich Quick” we would have developed a course and sold it instead of just giving sound, solid advice based on our own Blogging Journey!
We hope that you were able to take at least a couple of things from this post and will be able to implement them. Good Luck in your writing, try to enjoy the process, if you love what you are doing then you have a much greater chance of succeeding. We hope everyone is successful in their blogging endeavour.
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Mark & Shelly
You can check out some of our previous posts, just click on the pictures below. Or if you'd like to see any of our posts from the last year then you can click on this link. https://www.levelsofminimalism.com/feacb410d7bf0b3a2a89a362c4ca1aadf7a21165
Join us for our journeys into minimalism, health and diet as well as our travel series.
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