I was ecstatic with the results from my first month blogging! We all know it takes time, patience and a whole lot of hard work to create enough online traffic to take home a profit. But I thought over 3000 views was not bad at all for my first month of blogging! Add to that an offer of paid travel writing, several collaborations, a new blog award and a few really popular bloggers featuring my work on their own blogs! It really has done so much better than I could ever hope for in such a short time! Therefore I thought I’d share with new bloggers how I went about achieving this in the hope it might benefit others!
I started my blog in mid August 2017 after a discussion with a few friends in the pub. I loved my job as a GP but I also craved working in a more creative field. I toyed with exploring photography as a career but I realised it sucked the joy out of photography for me when I was working to deadlines! As a child I LOVED creative writing, as an adult I loved to travel, explore and document my adventures with photography. I’ve also kept a few low-key travel blogs to keep my family updated of my whereabouts which had done surprisingly well despite no proper social media promotion! So I decided why not?! I started this blog and have not looked back since. I absolutely love it and if it takes off properly I’d love to split my career 50:50, health care and travel writing!
Now I’ll be honest with you. Your blog is not going to get thousands of followers without a whole lot of HARD WORK! I regularly stay up until the early hours working non stop on my blog often sacrificing both sleep and my social life! I’m also working full-time and preparing for a long trip to South America so to say my life is busy is a complete understatement! But it’s worth it as I’ve found something I love and that satisfies my creative side. It’s also necessary to keep up the hard work. I saw a massive plummet in my views when I took a few days off for a friend’s wedding then again when I was on holiday. It then took several days of hard work to get my views back to normal! There are a few tools I’ve now found to help prevent such a huge plummet but it’s still imperative that you keep producing regular good quality posts and keep a strong regular social media presence!
So here is what I’ve done to get OVER 3000 views in JUST ONE MONTH!
I started with siteground as my host provider. They have been so helpful. I was literally ringing them almost every evening when I first started with all my technical questions – I’m a complete technophobe or at least I was when I started out 5 weeks ago! The best things is that they reply instantly and are available around the clock! I’d still be googling ‘what is domain’ without them! And even better, plans start from just $3.95 by using the link below. Get a 70% discount for siteground with this link then download wordpress.org. It has been fairly simple to use even for a technophobe like me! If in doubt there are loads of tutorials to help talk you through the basics of setting up a blog!
My blog goals for the future : Learn how to add HTML code
Once you have the basics set up, you’ll want to choose a theme for your website. This is what your website will look like and choosing the right one will help you create a great first impression, especially if your website has a beautiful colour scheme and easy menu navigation with lots of pictures! There are lots of free themes to use all of which can be customised to some extent but I chose a paid parallax theme called sixteen by inkhive. It has technology which allows the top page to roll faster than the background creating a lovely sliding appearance. I also have a slide show of my best photos, clear menus, plenty of widgets for space to advertise social media platforms etc and I can highlight my latest and best posts along with my regular feature Interview with a Local. It cost me about $45 but I think it is worth it – it looks so much more professional than the free theme I was using and I have been able to customise it to make it look exactly how I want it too!
My Blog Goals : I want to play about with my colour scheme a little to make text clearer to read without altering my branding too much. I also want to expand my menus and make it clearer to navigate!
The next thing you need to do is start making GREAT content. Post for your reader not yourself. What that means is asking yourself what your reader wants or needs. In my case that is practical travel information, travel inspiration and tips how to travel more easily and take better travel photos. It’s okay to write the occasional self-indulgent post (I’m about to write about my dance holiday as dancing is my other passion) but remember that 95% of your blog posts need to be written with your readers needs in mind. Keep your indulgent posts to a minimum but don’t ignore them entirely. After all it is still YOUR blog.
Blog goals : I plan to get into a more regular routine of posting on specific days so readers know when to log back in. Realistically this will probably after I return from South america as my posts will be wi-fi dependent whilst I’m away!
The next thing you need to think about is SEO – Search Engine Optimization. This is how visible your blog is on search engines. The more visible, the more traffic you will get! You can download a plug-in to help with this – I use Yoast although I’m still getting my head around using it effectively! There are also lots of simple techniques to use starting with your post titles. They should contain as many key words that your readers might search for. For example “Best budget and planning tips to help you save and travel the world” has more key worlds than “Money saving for travel” In addition to using key words in the title, try adding tags to your post using up more key worlds such as “saving money.” You might also want to label your photos with key words so that they are more likely to be ranked in google images! Another way to super charge your SEO is to provide links to and from other blogs. This is best done by writing guest blog posts and having other bloggers contribute to your own website. This can often be arranged through facebook travel blogging groups and has the added benefit of bringing traffic from an established blog in your own niche, over to your own blog! With any luck they will like it and start to follow you too! In addition to links between blogs, you can also add internal links between your own blog posts. The more links the more reliable google sees you as! And it also can keep readers on your website for longer. For example “If you liked this post, perhaps you would enjoy reading… (insert link)”
My blog goals – I plan to update my photo descriptions and learn how to use yoast better and monitor my SEO ranking. There are also more collaborations in the pipeline!
Now you are getting some traffic to your website, set up an email list! This can be for emailing a link to each new blog as it’s posted or for sending monthly newsletters with handy tips, discounts and of course a few links to your blog! Put opt in boxes in prominent positions on your blog and consider having a pop up opt in. Mine pops up after 20 seconds by which point the reader is already intrigued and wants to continue reading. I use mailchimp for this. You can also offer freebies to help persuade others to sign up. You need to show them how they can benefit from following you. For example I created a travel planning to do list and I’m working on a free beginners photography e-course – watch this space!
As well as having an email opt in visible in your widgets (side boxes for information) you should also have social media icons in several places. Mine are at the top of my blog, in the side bar, at the bottom of my home page and there are ‘post to social media’ icons at the end of every post. Try to include at least 1 vertical image in the post which can be used for people to pin to their own Pinterest boards. Even better, have visual icons with examples from the page you are referring to. For example my ‘join me on Pinterest’ icon shows several of my latest pins.
My blog goals – Go back through old blogs and add a pinnable image to each.
Now you have people following you on social media, make sure your pages are up to scratch!
Pinterest – there are hundreds of thousands of boards in every niche on pinterest, you need to stand out and look professional. You can do this by creating a board cover photo which is descriptive and fits with your brand. I use the same 2 colours for all my text and cover images and alternate them to make my page look more striking! See it here! Each board cover also contains a photo to sum up what I will be pinning about! Once your boards are looking great, add a good description remembering those keywords! Make quality pins with a recognisable style ( I use 3-4 pin templates and the same colour scheme and develop them for free using www.canva.com.) Now that your board and pins are looking great, you need to get them noticed! Join as many group boards as possible preferably ones with lots of followers! You will find instructions for joining in the group descriptions. You will need to follow both the group and the board owner (always the first on the list.) Make sure you re-pin others work as well as pinning your own! You will need to pin frequently to avoid your work being right at the bottom of the list and not visible to those quickly scanning the group! I deal with this by using tailwind which is absolutely amazing! You can choose what to pin on mass which really speeds up the process. You can then pin to multiple boards at the same time and schedule these for times in the future. An hour on pinterest will allow me to schedule pins for the next month at a rate of 100 pins per day! That way I have a constant presence on pinterest even if I’m sunning myself by a pool drinking mojitos! This has had a mind-blowing result – my pins now get seen 42093 times a month compared to just 97 times when I 1st started! Start your FREE trial here (no payment details required.) Another advantage of using tailwind is tailwind tribes. These are groups where everyone supports each other by repining each others work to their own boards!
My blog goals : Add more group boards and go through my boards to declutter unpopular pins!
I probably get most of my traffic from Facebook (thanks mum!) But seriously, facebook is a seriously good tool even without your mother sharing your page diligently! Firstly set up a page with an eye-catching cover photo and don’t forget to write a good description and add all your Facebook friends. Then start posting regularly with blog posts, blog wins or even what to expect in the upcoming week to build anticipation! The best time to post to reach the most people is in the afternoons (yes when people are supposed to still be working!!) I also find weekend mornings are a good time to post. Encourage your friends and family to like, share and comment on your posts which will boost your post up the ratings and make it more visible to your followers for longer! I also share to my own facebook pages periodically especially if I have a really good post I want to promote. But I try not to post too many otherwise risk annoying your friends and family who just aren’t interested in your niche! Another way to promote your blog on facebook is to join blogging groups in your niche. Often they will run ‘like for like’ or ‘follow for follow’ threads though these can be super time-consuming! I prefer the threads for gaining comments on your blog posts (usually you add 5 comments and post 1 link) and also the blog Q+A forums – useful for getting feedback on your website!
My blog goals : Once my website is a little more established I’d like to try out Facebook advertising!
It took me a while to get my head around Twitter. Initially it took ages to get any followers at all but I now have 1722 with more each day! I post several times a day usually links to my blogs with plenty of relevant hashtags. I also try to engage with my followers by liking and commenting on their posts. I also re-pin if it’s something relevant and useful for my readers. I get some readers from hashtags on my posts however I also try to follow other travel bloggers and they often follow back. It also means I get to see their relevant content.
Blog goals : I plan to look into a scheduling program for twitter such as hootsuite
I found instagram was the easiest to build a following just by following other travel bloggers and their followers, however I don’t get a huge amount of traffic from it despite havinfg 2400 followers! That said it’s quick and easy to use so is still worth doing! I also use a lot of hashtags – you can use up to 30 per post. This helps readers find your pictures! It can be time-consuming adding hashtags so I keep a list of travel blog hashtags which I then copy and paste and add a few more specific hashtags such as location.
Blog goals : I plan to start using tailwind for instagram to help me schedule my instagram posts in advance!
In addition to social media, I also use good old-fashioned business cards! I got 250 for £15 via vistaprint! It’s handy when you are telling someone about your blog to be able to give them something to remember your conversation by!
So whilst I’ve had an absolutely fab first month with my blog, I have bigger and better plans for it and will be working super hard to achieve them! Watch this space!
Have you started your blog yet? How is it going? Is there anything you are struggling with? Whilst I’m a blogging newbie myself, I feel like I’ve learnt heaps and am happy to share any of that knowledge with you! Just comment below if you have any comments or questions!