For those of you that read my post about my first week starting a niche blog, I’m back with another update. As of now, this blog is three months old. I registered the domain on November 15, 2016.
I have no idea what I’m doing. I’ve never created a successful blog. When I think about it, the longest I’ve ever committed to writing was no more than a few weeks.
These posts are about how I started a blog. If you’re thinking about starting a blog, you’ll probably learn something. If you’ve never thought about starting a blog, you’ll find out what it takes to start a blog from the ground up.
Finally, for the successful bloggers out there, you can laugh at me when you remember making the same mistakes. You might think back to the past and find a little bit of yourself in me.
I’ve never created a successful niche blog, but I’m trying anyway.
Like I mentioned before, I’ve been writing for almost four months now. I’ve successfully stayed consistent enough to write at least two posts every week from November until now. I’m not sure if I’m creating top quality content every time, but I can feel my writing skills getting better.
In the new year, I reduced my writing to two posts per week. When I first started, I was pushing myself to hit three per week. However, I’ve been writing much longer posts now and three per week was a huge burden.
Writing is getting easier every day and I’m still trying to learn how to get better. The words flow more freely now and I don’t worry about making mistakes as much as I did before.
You can learn from me. I do a lot of things wrong, but sometimes I do some things right.
In case you missed my last post, here’s what you’ll find as I write about each week since starting my blog.
- How I waste money buying things I don’t need
- Things I did to waste a bunch of time
- Stuff I did that I call successful
- Articles I read along the way to help me out
- My opinion on some of the things you shouldn’t do
I’ve been keeping a diary of what I do every week so I can write posts like this one. It’s tedious, but worth it. I keep track of every mundane detail. From what I was thinking about at the time to the exact plugins I installed, you’ll find it in these posts.
Week 2: This guy who knows nothing about blogging is working on a niche blog
1. Published three blog posts
As I write these posts, I’m constantly referring back to my diary. This post is about my second week of starting this personal finance blog. My memory isn’t that great, so I’m able to refer back to the diary entries I’ve kept each week.
If you’ve written anything in the past, you might stumble upon it years later. My guess is you’ll look at what you wrote and say, “Did I actually think this was good?” I know I do. I write software for a living and constantly see old code I’ve written in the past. It’s never quite as good as I thought when I look at it years later.
Well, that’s how I feel reading my diary from three months ago. I was proud I published three blog posts. I even wrote, “One of the blog posts was in-depth at almost 2000 words and multiple custom made images.” Oooh, fancy. Multiple custom made images. I’m pretty awesome, right?
2. Started to build a lead magnet
This is something I wish I wouldn’t have wasted time on. If I had to start the blog over again, I wouldn’t waste time building a lead magnet.
I’m in total agreement that the best blogs and websites use lead magnets. However, these are usually established blogs and have the traffic where a lead magnet is worthwhile. If you’re only getting 1 or 2 visitors per day in the beginning, you’ll be waiting quite a long time before your first conversion.
Even if your lead magnet converts at 10%, your mailing list will only increase by 10 people per 100 visitors. I don’t think that’s worth my time.
However, it’s not all bad. As my traffic grows, I’ll be able to use what I learned about lead magnets and use the strategy when the time is right.
Rather than working on a lead magnet, I would have used the time to write more and build more quality content. I want SEO to be a vital piece of my long term strategy and more content would play into that.
3. Used Canva and pixabay
In my second week of blogging, I was starting to learn more about images. I familiarized myself with Canva and scoured pixabay for satisfactory images. My plan is to avoid spending money on premium images until my blog starts to grow.
One tool I found useful was Sprout Social’s Social Media Image Resizer. If you haven’t tried it out, it’s a great tool to size your images for Facebook and Twitter. When you post an image on social media, you want the image to look nice and adhere to their size guidelines.
Since then, I’ve learned about Unsplash – another great site to get royalty free images. Although the images are free, I’ve been trying to give credit.
List of Places to Find Royalty Free Images
4. Started posting to social media every day (without Buffer)
At first, I didn’t post any of my content to any social media. Since I only had 5 or 6 posts by this point, my blog was rather bare. There was nothing there and I didn’t feel driving traffic to an empty blog was worthwhile.
However, in the second week, I did start to experiment and slowly announce the blog to the world.
When you’re starting a blog, don’t worry about promoting early on. Instead, you want to focus on getting into a groove. You should strive to stay consistent in your writing. Once you build a decent library of content, you’ll be ready for social media.
If you have a good eye, you’ll notice other bloggers in your niche promoting years old content on a regular basis. That’s a good thing. It means you can do the same once you reach that point.
Also, in the end, remember that social media should only be a small part of your long term strategy. Ideally, you’ll begin to rank in Google over time and you’ll have a few different channels for traffic.
5. Installed Boxilla, a premium WordPress plugin to collect email addresses
Since I had built a lead magnet at this point, I needed a quick solution to offer it to my few visitors. I didn’t want to spend time building anything extremely custom or spending a lot of money.
However, I did find Boxzilla, a premium WordPress plugin, to fill my needs. Boxzilla allowed me to configure a simple popup with a Mailchimp form embedded inside it. With Boxzilla, you can control when the popup is shown, styling, and how long to wait to show the popup again between visits.
The plugin served me well at the time. I didn’t have a single conversion with it, but it gave me confidence I was doing something right (or at least that’s what I thought at the time).
I’ve since moved on to ThriveLeads which I absolutely love. The options Thrive provides are seemingly endless and I haven’t had a single issue with them so far. If you’re a blogger, ThriveLeads is similar to ConvertKit or Leadpages.
WordPress Plugins to Collect Email Addresses
6. Set up Mailchimp list with lead magnet
To go along with Boxzilla, I needed to setup a Mailchimp list to deliver my lead magnet when people signed up. You can use Mailchimp’s signup forms to create an opt-in flow to deliver your lead magnet.
It’s better if I show you.
7. Uploaded sitemap to Google Search Console
If you learn anything from this post, learn this. Setup Google Search Console as soon as you can.
Google Search Console is your main connection to SEO. With the console, you can see how many pages are indexed in Google and where you’ve been ranking on a daily basis. If Google sees a problem with your website, they will tell you in the console.
If you use Yoast, setting up a sitemap in the search console is dead simple. Simply copy and paste your Sitemap URL into the right place in Google Search Console and you’re good to go.
Google will know everything it needs to know about your website. Better yet, your latest posts will always be picked up by Google and your pages will theoretically be indexed faster.
Read This Tutorial: How to Add Your Website to Google Search Console
8. Set goals for my blog
Setting goals is the first step in turning the invisible into the visible. – Tony Robbins
What do you want to do with your blog? If you’ve already started, you’ve probably thought about this already. Now, it’s time to write your goals down and reflect on them as you continue your blogging journey.
Here are some of the goals I started tracking in my second week:
- 100 users in 7 days
- 1,000 users in 30 days
- 1,000 users in 7 days
- 5 backlinks
- 500 pageviews in 7 days
- Write 3 posts per week for 30 days
- 10 Facebook likes
I didn’t give myself a deadline for these goals. I simply marked a goal as completed when I realized it.
Your goals may look much different. If you want to make a living from your blog, you may have more aggressive goals than me. If you’re starting a blog to make side income, your goals might be similar.
If you’re at least a little serious with your blog, treat it as a business. Set goals and try to achieve them. Know that it’s ok to update your goals as time passes, but keep your goals handy and use them to make decisions. If you’re using your time on something that isn’t helping you achieve those goals, maybe you shouldn’t be wasting time on that.
9. Commented on one other blog in my niche
I was a reader of other personal finance blogs in the past, but I was only a lurker. I never commented. In my second week of blogging, I started to become a little more active.
If you read what others say about blogging, you’ll start seeing people saying you should comment on other blogs. Now that I’ve followed the advice, I think it’s a great idea to comment on other blogs in your niche.
Although commenting on other blogs is great advice, don’t go overboard.
Don’t use this approach as a growth tactic. Don’t write a comment on every single new blog post in your niche. If you do it for too long, it’s easy for others to notice you’re basically spamming.
You don’t need to have an opinion on every blog post that hits the web. You won’t always have a great response. However, if you can add any kind of value, write a comment and thank the author.
In your early days of blogging, you don’t have enough content to warrant high traffic anyway. Don’t go searching for traffic when you only have a few posts. Instead of commenting on other blogs, focus on your own content. Stay in tune with what’s being written on other sites, but keep your focus.
If you find yourself commenting on too many blogs, remember that you can always send an email to the author instead. Many bloggers, myself included, like to receive emails – it feels more personal.
10. Setup feedly to follow related blogs
In an effort to feel more connected to all the content out there, I setup feedly in my second week of blogging. For the blogs I already knew, I could stay up to date. For the blogs I didn’t, I wanted to get to know them more.
Feedly can get noisy, so be careful. You don’t need to check it everyday. Much like commenting, you don’t have to read every single blog post ever written. However, if you see one that piques your interest, check it out.
Remember, focus on you. Focus on your own content for awhile. It’s ok to be selfish. Get in a routine. As your blog grows, you’ll always have more time to connect with other bloggers. You can’t grow without valuable content on your own blog.
11. Reading material
- How To Write Headlines That Drive Traffic, Shares, And Search Results
- 5 Things to Think About Before You Start a Blog
- Brand New Blog. No Traffic. Here’s What to Do.
12. WordPress plugins I installed in my second week of blogging
Although I look back on my second week of blogging and laugh at myself, I still know the second week was valuable experience. It was another week that I stayed consistent and focused on starting a blog in my niche.
I’m a firm believer all of our experiences shape us over our lifetimes. This second week is no exception. I learned a lot, but wasted time on things that didn’t matter. We live and we learn.
If you’re just getting started, I promise you’ll do the same. Months will pass and you’ll look back and realize what you could have done better. Reflect on those moments but don’t dwell on them. Move forward.
I’m going on my fourth month of blogging now. I like to think I’ve improved just a little bit every day. That’s all it takes. Small improvements every day for months and years will yield great success.