Blogging Lessons from My First 6 Months
Hey everyone! Just Another Dollar has come a long way since January 17, 2017. I wanted to check in and share a few of the lessons we’ve learned in our first six months of blogging. It’s also a great time to share how our goals and vision for the future have changed.
Alyssa and I started blogging as a sort of diary, to help keep us accountable. We started 2017 with a vow to stop accumulating debt and start acting like responsible adults. After six months, we’ve lightened our debt-load by over $25,000! I’ll share that victory in more detail in an upcoming post, but I’ll just let that total sink in for now.
Blogging Lessons From my First Six Months
I started working on this website as a hobby more than anything. We hoped to get out of debt and inspire a few people who were working to do the same. I never set a goal to have a certain number of readers or make money from blogging. We wrote about our past and shared our budget and some plans for the future, but never really published anything of substance. I was having fun keeping track of our monthly financial goals and enjoyed interacting with other members of the personal finance community on my Twitter account.
After a couple months of minimal activity, the lack of direction became apparent. Our viewership was low and showed no signs of increasing, and I was forced to step back from blogging during March and April while my day job took over my life. My job as a CPA is what pays half the bills and allows us to pay off our debt. After working my way through a grueling tax season, I was burned out and needed a break. Blogging was far from the top of my priority list, but it was always on my mind.
As with most good things in my life, the shift in my mindset started with Alyssa. I have the tendency to research everything to try and become an expert before I take the first steps. She, on the other hand, likes to get her hands dirty and figure things out as she goes. She encouraged me to become more active and started contributing more in May and June. We’re learning a lot about blogging, and the blog is finally starting to take off. June will be the first month our website pays for itself, and we’re excited to see what the future might bring.
Along with her post contributions, Alyssa brought Pinterest experience to the table. Let me tell you, if you’re not using Pinterest yet, you NEED to start! I’d read posts from several other bloggers saying Pinterest is a great traffic driver, but didn’t know where to start. Alyssa has been using the app for years, and has a much better understanding of what people are looking for. We’ve connected with a few great Pinners and group boards in our first month and it has become our top traffic source (3x higher than Twitter!) Our overall page views and new readers for June increased by 5x May’s numbers. We know it’s nothing crazy if you compare it to most other blogs, but to us it’s a milestone! 🙂
Now that we’ve managed to shift our focus from strictly journaling to actually providing valuable content, we’ve really started to enjoy blogging. And with more new readers every day seeing our content, we definitely see more potential as we look to the future. We want to continue to network within the community and grow our traffic.
1. Consistency is Key
We notice a huge drop-off in traffic and comments if we’re not posting content regularly. We’ve switched to a schedule of two posts per week for now and would eventually like to move to three.
2. Social Media Matters
You should be promoting your content in as many places as you can in order to bring people to your site. I used to think Twitter was the most valuable, but after seeing what Pinterest can do, we’re expanding our reach. We’ve started Facebook and Instagram accounts and plan to build them out over the next few months.
3. Share Links Wherever Possible
Along the lines of Social Media, we receive a ton of traffic from links scattered around the internet. Share your posts and URL links wherever you can; in addition to improving your SEO for Google and other search engines, it will bring in new readers! Tip: Share a specific post URL rather than your home page whenever you comment on other blogs, as this will boost the number of sites linking to your posts, which affects search engine rankings. Also, make sure your blog is appearing on the Rockstar Finance Directory; it’s a great resource to find other bloggers in your niche!
4. Write Helpful Posts
This may seem obvious, but it wasn’t obvious to me at first. If you want people to read your article, make it interesting and helpful. Explain the problem you’re trying to solve, solve it, and provide evidence and entertainment along the way. Our posts on How to Build a Twitter Following, Choosing Your Side Hustle and Make $1,500 to Declutter were by far the most popular posts we shared in June, and we’ve got some more great content coming for July!
5. Have Fun!
If you’re not enjoying blogging, take a step back and evaluate. Remember your “why” and perhaps you will come back with more motivation, as I did. Your enjoyment will come out in your posts, and your readers will likely be able to tell when you’re writing about something you’re passionate about.
If you’ve read this far, please share in the comments your top lesson from when you started blogging. We want to learn as much as we can and will appreciate anything you’re willing to share!