As you start to dive into the blogging waters you realize that it is way deeper than you ever thought imaginable. I know because I almost drowned in them! It is easy to feel overwhelmed in a sea of information with no direction. I have been where you are and still am! Not knowing what the next step is going to be, what I should be looking for and what I needed to be successful.
I feel like every article I read is from a blogger who has made it big in a matter of six months or someone selling a class I didn’t and still don’t have the money for. So here is my story of what to really expect in your first year of blogging. The good, the bad and the ugly of it. There are affiliate links in this post, which means if you end up purchasing through one of them I get a few pennies to put towards this website or diapers.
I started my blog a year before our daughter was born. We loved to travel so I decided to start a blog to document them. I knew absolutely nothing of blogging and saw a whole 10 visitors a month, likely from my mother. I abandoned it because believe it or not during my pregnancy the mere thought of traveling made me nauseous!
When our daughter was born I didn’t want to give up traveling because we had a baby, instead, we embraced it. Hence, Consistently Curious was transformed from nothing into the family travel blog it is today. Not only did blogging help me out of a terrible postpartum depression, but it also gave me another purpose outside of being a mother. A mission to help and encourage my followers to go out and make extraordinary memories with their loved ones. It gave me a voice that I thought I had lost after leaving the workforce to stay home. Blogging isn’t for everyone and it takes up a good amount of time, but having a unique voice is priceless in my mind.
Where Do I Even Start
Web Hosting Provider
After deciding upon a name you will need to pick your web hosting provider. My advice is to do a little research here. You will want to ensure your host has fast loading speeds, can handle the amount of traffic you expect, good customer service and that you have your own domain name. (Meaning that your website is “www.consistentlycurious.com” and not “www.consistentlycurious.blogspot.com”.) Having your own domain name shows brands and followers that you are serious about your blog.
My site is currently hosted through Siteground. They have taken excellent care of me to date and their customer service has not let me down. I am in no means tech-savvy so good customer service is a must. Another popular hosting provider is BlueHost, which has been known to have more affordable rates. There are tons of web providers out there and most of them will even transfer your site for you from another provider when you sign up!
Get Security On Your Site
Take a look at your website does it say http or https? If there is no “s” that means your site is not secure. Your web provider should be able to assist you in setting up security for your site. Cloudflare is a widely used security and performance service that Siteground offers it at no charge for a standard package. All I had to do is contact customer service and they had me set up and secure in minutes. This little tidbit was something I didn’t even think about till a few months ago!
There are a variety of different ways to design your website. I opted to go with WordPress because I fell in love with their themes. I am not a designer so this was ideal. My current WordPress theme is Ashe Pro. I opted to go for the pro for one simple reason, the Ashe theme was adorable and wanted all the features. I wouldn’t think twice of spending $30 bucks on random crap from Target so why wouldn’t I spend it on my hobby?
Get Familiar with Google
Did you know there is a googleverse that is dedicated to web designers and website owners? Oh yes, my friend and you need to get familiar with them really fast. You will want to link your site to google once you publish it. Check out this article on how to go about that. Google Analytics numbers are the gold standard in the blogging industry. WordPress numbers are not as accurate, even though they look so much better! Also, link your site to the Google Search Console. There is A LOT that I do not know in this realm of blogging, but I am slowly learning. This is where Youtube videos are life because I don’t understand the techy language. I do have a few things worth mentioning as a trudge through this unknown territory.
Test out your site speed for free with Google’s PageSpeed Insights. No one likes a slow site, especially when you want to rank high in search engines. It will also aid in keeping your bounce rate low. Yes, bounce rate is a whole different beast to tackle. I am currently learning how to increase my site speed, any tips are welcome in the comment section!
Download Useful Plugins
What About Social Media?!
DON’T BECOME OBSESSED WITH NUMBERS. That is easier said than done and I have fallen victim to the number obsession. Remember you are just starting out and will not have 30,000 followers overnight. That takes time, even years to build a big engaged audience. Catch that word, engaged. Don’t be tempted to buy followers, because it will likely lower your engagement rating. Numbers are not everything, but numbers do matter. Money is to be made once your Instagram hits over 10K and you acquire the prized swipe up feature or your Facebook following hits over 1,000 followers. There are particular numbers that certain brands are looking for, however, you can get paid sponsorships, hosted trips and more with a smaller, engaged audience. Don’t expect them to come knocking at your inbox though. You will have to develop a good pitch and work on building relationships.
The majority of my blog traffic comes from Pinterest. Each post you publish should have a beautiful pin that you are sharing immediately with your audience. To ensure you are pinning at the right time and to take a little bit off your workload, I recommend signing up for Tailwind. It took me a few months before I finally bit the bullet because I was spending to much time manually going in and pinning throughout the day. Time with my family was more valuable to me. Tailwind will automatically schedule and publish your pins. It was a no brainer and the best investment I made in my blog to date. Here is a $15 credit if you decide to sign up for Tailwind!
How Can I Start Making Money
Isn’t that the question we all want to know. I am going to be very frank and upfront, but making money blogging is hard. It takes lots of work, time and dedication to get a blog off the ground and successful. I spend hours a night creating content, editing images, writing pitches, updating my site and more.
Remember that as a viewer you only see the finished product. Not the hours of research that went into writing the post, finding keywords or promoting your finished post. Spoiler Alert, creating the content is easy compared to the work that goes into getting your post noticed. I only blog part-time and have only recently started to see a tiny bit of revenue. I could be doing something completely wrong, but given the amount of time I have to put into my blog I am happy and blessed to even make $1.00! Here are a few ways you can start making money on your blog from day one.
There are tons of different affiliate programs out there that give you a percentage or commission when someone buys that item off your website. Amazon Affiliate Program is probably the most common. I have yet to make $25 off of Amazon Affiliates, but my niche is not selling items. For Travel Bloggers look into TripShock! Other popular affiliate programs are Share-A-Sale or CJ Affiliates.
Once you start building your brand and followers you can start applying to join Influencer Networks. Social Native, Social Fabric, Acorn, and Activate or just a few of the hundreds of networks available.
Once you are at a point where you have an engaged audience and can offer something of value to a brand start pitching. You don’t have to have a massive following to get paid sponsorships or hosted travel. You do need to ensure that when you pitch to a brand you think of what you can offer them in exchange for your rates or requests.
Don’t expect a full paid hosted trip to the beach with only 200 followers and a 10 page views a month. However, as you grow don’t be afraid to pitch. What’s the worse they can say? No! And that’s ok! I think of it as a win just to get a response, because now you have started a relationship. Remember they are people as well and have to think of what is best for their business. Now with that being said, don’t be afraid to ask what they are looking for, what type of budget do they have, etc. Want a free draft of a pitch letter I use to my destinations? Click Here!
The Most Important Blogging Tip
Don’t Stop. Keep writing, keep posting, keep learning. Even when you feel no one is reading your posts or liking your updates, keep going. Because eventually, it will happen. Eventually, someone will notice.
Don’t fall so deep in the rabbit hole that you forget the outside world. It is easy to become infatuated with blogging and before you know every free second of your day is spent trying to move forward. It becomes an obsession. One that can put a strain on your family and friends. I know because I was there. Don’t cancel plans with your friends to write an article, don’t stay up all hours of the night doing research and put your phone down when spending quality time with loved ones. Your blog will always be there. That’s the best part of blogging, you are your own boss.
My blog focus is family travel, however, I wrote this piece for all the curious minds out there wanting to dip their toes in the world of blogging. Be sure to check out a visit to our first hosted location here.
Don’t Forget to Sign Up For My Free Pitch Letter!
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