Whether you’re dipping your toe into the blogging world or diving in head first it can be a steep learning curve. Here’s my advice for all of you lovelies that have decided to take the plunge.
Don’t focus on the money
I know, it sucks. Who wouldn’t want to quit their day job and become a full time blogger? But despite the numerous books and blogs out there telling you you can start a blog today and turn it into a money making machine in a month, the chances of that actually happening are pretty slim.
The truth is for most bloggers it’s a lot of time and hard work and effort before they start seeing any income from their blogs.
While you don’t want to be totally focused on the money aspect of blogging, it’s not something you want to totally ignore either. Identify the ways that your blog could potentially make money whether that’s through ads, affiliates, selling products or whatever other avenues your blog could utilise, and tailor your blog accordingly.
At the end of the day if you really want to earn money from your blog you need to be focusing on the readers. Without readers your blog won’t make a penny.
Focus on the stats
With all the talk of keywords and stats and analytics data and click throughs it can be confusing to know exactly where you should be focusing and how you read all this data to get an understanding of your readers and what they like. To keep it nice and simple in the beginning there’s two handy pieces of information to look at.
First in Google Webmaster Tools check out the Search Analytics screen. This will tell you exactly which search results your posts are coming up for, and which ones are getting clicked on.
Here’s the results from my Webmaster tools for this blog when I first started out. You can see that my top click throughs were to do with the youtube algorithm. With this information I know that writing more posts about youtube is probably a good idea. I can tell that my target audience for these posts are probably people with youtube channels rather than casual youtube viewers so I can build an idea of what kind of content would be useful for them.
Now when you look over in Google Analytics you want to look for anything related to that term.
From this second bit of data the main bit that you’re interested in is the bounce rate. How many people are clicking on that search result, reading the post then leaving the site? From my data the bounce rate is 88.24% meaning that I probably need to create more posts around that subject to keep my readers on the site longer consuming more content.
Now, just because youtube related results seem to be the most popular that doesn’t mean you should neglect the rest of the data and focus solely on that one result. You can see from the search console that posts about SEO are also showing up but no ones clicking on them so those need some attention. Why is no one clicking on them? Can those posts be improved or rewritten or can more content around that subject be written that might be more enticing for searchers.
Obviously you should customise this for your blogs niche and use your own analytic data to work out what your audience are enjoying the most so you can create more of it, and what isn’t working so well so that you can try and work out what you can do to improve.
Don’t forget other search engines
For most people google is the be all and end all of search engines, however that’s not true for everyone. There are people out there that use bing, yandex, aol search and whatever other search engines are lurking around. It’s a wasted opportunity to not be submitting your sitemap to other search engines that could help bring in a readership for your blog.
Even if 99% of your readers are coming from google, getting an extra 1% from somewhere else is still nothing to be sneezed at.
Scheduling your posts
For some blogs hitting publish as soon as a post is written is going to work perfectly fine. But for most bloggers you’ll want to hold off on hitting publish and instead schedule your posts to go live throughout the week. You want to give each post you’ve written time to sit front and centre on your blog where people will see it and that won’t happen if you publish multiple posts in a row.
A lot of bloggers will have writing sessions on certain days of the week where they put together multiple posts then schedule them to go live over the course of the next few days.
While you want to building up the content on your blog, you don’t want to overwhelm it all in a short space of time. In truth, in the first few weeks of your blogs life when no ones really looking you have the opportunity to publish as much content as your heart desires - and it may be worth doing that seeing as blogs with only a couple of posts don’t tend to get many subscribers or readers. As soon as you start getting returning readers though you need to think more carefully about your posting schedule and giving each post a decent amount of time in the top spot of your blog.
Media kits are something that most bloggers don’t start thinking about until later on in their blogs life. Don’t be that blogger! A media kit is basically something that you send out to companies that want to work with you and the main thing they are interested in are numbers. How many views does your blog get per month, how many subscribers are on your email list and how many followers you have on social media platforms.
Obviously your focus here is those numbers that the companies are interested in. You don’t want to find yourself putting together a media kit later on down the line with great numbers except for that one platform that you’ve neglected. It all matters.
Setting up a way for readers to subscribe to your blog from the beginning is invaluable. It’s one of the things that a lot of seasoned bloggers will tell you they wished they’d done from the start. It may seem silly to do if you’re only getting a handful of visitors to your blog a day but nevertheless it doesn’t take long to set up and it’s better to be building that list as soon as possible rather than waiting around to do it.
Aside from your media kit numbers, having readers subscribed to your blog gives you a direct line to them. They might miss you promoting your content on social media, but they probably won’t miss a newsletter in their inbox from you.
Building up your following on social media is not only going to help when it comes to putting together your media kit, it’s also going to help you get those readers in the beginning when search engines aren’t indexing your site.
While you have little to no control over the search engines, you do have some control over social media and how involved you are in the community. It’s well worth investing some time into your social media presence from the start and building up your own little community of readers and friends.
Work on the things you neglect
Every new blogger tends to have things they’ll neglect because they don’t quite understand it, for me in the beginning it was twitter. When you identify what you’re neglecting work on learning about that thing and improving it. You could be missing out on some great opportunities by just ignoring a certain aspect of blogging.
Like I mentioned in the media kit section, it would suck to have great numbers for all but one platform. It could really affect companies decisions to work with you, and how much they’d be willing to pay.
Getting involved in the community
Unless your blog is about some very specific niche that no one has ever written about then chances are there are other bloggers out there producing similar content. Get involved with the community, try and build connections with these other bloggers. Bloggers tend to be an incredibly friendly bunch and you already know you have something in common with bloggers blogging about the same niche.
Hunt out there blogs and leave meaningful comments, get involved in chats on social media, start becoming a recognisable face in the industry.
Branding is tough in the beginning. Most blogs tend to go through a few redesigns before they finally settle on the look and feel they really want. But the sooner you can nail your branding the better.
When you post on social media you want those posts to be instantly recognisable as coming from your blog.
For your profile picture you’ll want something that really stands out and catches peoples attention, and ideally you want to change it as little as possible. In the beginning a lot of people will recognise you from your profile picture so if you keep changing it it’s like starting at square one every time.
The boring pages
See what everyone else is doing
Getting into blogging can feel a bit like flying blind, but you don’t need to. If you’re curious about newsletters and what exactly you could be including in yours go and sign up for newsletters from similar blogs and see what they’re doing. If you’re not sure what you should be writing about on twitter, no problem, go and find other people in your blog niche and see what they’re up to.
Remember that people have already gone down this path before and worked out what does and doesn’t work. In some cases the easiest place to start is to follow peoples leads and see where it takes you. I’m by no means saying you should go out and just copy other people, but it doesn’t hurt to take a peek behind the curtain and see what you can learn from those that have been doing it for a while.
Ok guys, I think that’s about it! I hope this was helpful and if any of you have any other tips for newbies on what kind of stuff they should focus on let me know in the comments.