Time flies doesn’t it?
I feel that especially this year since I started this blog about 6 months ago on March 30. And some journey this has been.
I’ve had several people ask me if I have had a blog or online business before.
I never had one.
I’ve also never viewed myself as the entrepreneurial type having come from a family background where getting a job was the normal thing to do. Entrepreneurs were always ‘other people’.
I have marketing experience and have managed social media at my corporate job but blogging was this whole different thing. There are 3 main reasons that me start this blog:
- A health scare forced me to stay home and I couldn’t get back to working after my intended maternity break (it ended up being a blessing in disguise)
- I was writing freelance in the parenting and mom niche but was dying to explore writing for the business niche to fuel my creativity
- I love online marketing. It has always been a subject I’ve been interested in since university (though I realize now how outdated some of the marketing concerts taught in university are)
I’ve debated having a traffic and income report from the start but I wanted to build up some numbers to be able to do a decent analysis.
I’ve broken this post into the following areas. Skip ahead to what draws you first.
- Email list
- Positioning & consistency
- What I could I have done to grow faster
- Key Takeaways
- Goals for the next quarter
My email list is something I focused on from Day 1. And by email list, I don’t refer only to growing my subscriber base which is the definition most people have.
There’s more to an email list than just growing your numbers.
My first opt-on freebie was a major fail though. I wish I had a screen shot to show you how miserable the conversion was. My list stagnated at about 50 subscribers for quite a while before picking up.
I experimented with different opt-ins, content upgrades and landing page copy. I also tried different list building strategies such as email courses, various content upgrade styles, reports, subscribe pages as well as emails during these 6 months. I recently dabbled a bit in Facebook ads and promoted pins as well.
It took me some time to figure out a process, especially with my opt-in freebies of what worked and what didn’t which I detail in my eBook Opt-in Blueprint
Why I deleted almost 200 subscribers
I hit 1000 subscribers several weeks back but deleted close to 200 of them.
I don’t believe in having a huge list as a trophy symbol.
The closer I got to a 1000 subscribers, the harder I looked at my numbers.
I try to keep a minimum 50% open rate. I am also diligent about deleting subscribers whose emails have been bouncing repeatedly. You’ll be surprised at how many this adds up to.
It’s more than an email service provider. It also has several list building functions like landing pages and the ability to easily offer content upgrades, click-trigger pop-ups and exit intent pop-ups.
I pay $29 for 1000 subscribers. The next tier is $49 for 3000 subscribers. I don’t want to pay for the next tier before being absolutely confident that the 1000 subscribers I have truly want to be on my list.
I’ve also run email re-engagement campaigns to prune and clean my list. This is the latest screenshot from my Convertkit dashboard after cleaning my list.
I receive emails from my subscribers every single day and I reply to every single one unless it’s a weird email asking me to link to their site or publish their posts under my name (yes, I get weird emails like that).
This, below is a snapshot of some of the emails I received after launching my recent e-course opt-in. Subscriber engagement is my biggest motivation.
I put a lot into my emails and posts and they form the bread and butter of my blog business. Hearing that it has helped someone makes my day.
Here are my stats for the latest month.
August was my slowest month probably due to summer and I also had several family commitments which meant a lot less time promoting my blog and posts.
These are my latest traffic sources.
One of my biggest regrets is not getting on Pinterest sooner.
I started my Pinterest account towards the end of May and didn’t get serious about it till July. It quickly shot to become my biggest source of traffic.
Pinterest is still a maze to me and I am trying to figure this out. I started using Boardbooster in August and grew my follower numbers by almost 300 in a matter of a month.
I’m not even scratching the surface when it comes to using Boardbooster and am excited to learn more in the coming months.
One thing I’ve noticed about Pinterest traffic is that it’s not as sticky as Facebook. If you notice my session duration from above, it averages at about 1:16.
Compare this to May, when Facebook was one of my top sources of traffic. The session duration was 3:41. That’s a huge difference.
I grew a lot of my early audience from guest posting. Guest posting has been great for visibility, authority and subscribers as well.
I have written 16 guest posts since I launched my blog. Not all of them have been hits with regards to getting subscribers.
Many have been misses. But regardless of the outcome of the post, the relationship you build with the host of the site is something that you can’t quantify. There are lots of intangible gains in blogging which go unnoticed. And relationship is one of them.
That single post is your opportunity to show up. Be thankful and be present for comments and tweets when your post goes live. The host may forget the shares and traffic they received from your post, but they will always remember how you made them feel.There are lots of intangible gains in blogging which go unnoticed. Relationship is one of it. Click To Tweet
And it’s hard to tell which post will work. There are sites where I have expected the post to be successful but the post ended up receiving very little engagement and subscribers for the work put in to that piece.
The reverse has happened as well.
But what I’ve noticed is the quality of the audience that I’ve received from smaller niche sites. They are so much more supportive and engaged with your content. So, if you ever consider guest posting as a strategy to grow your audience don’t consider only the big sites.
Here are two of my recent guest posts. The first one I wrote for DYOB did very well:
Positioning and consistency
My content marketing was all over the place when I first started.
When I decided that email marketing will be one of my main area of focus, things started to pick up for me in terms of list growth as well as shares.
I didn’t quite know that my positioning was working for me till some blogging friends started to comment and tag me in posts as the person with email list advice. I also started focusing all my guest posts on email lists.
I do believe that hyper niches are where blogging is shifting to. There are people who are known for certain things like video, Pinterest, sales funnels, social media or productivity.
You may not know what this is for you from the start but it’s good to identify what posts are getting you traction, comments and shares. This is what your audience resonates with the most.
I also wanted to be consistent with the quality of my content.
When someone clicks on a link to my site, I want them to know the type of content they can expect. I’d rather have that consistency than infringe on quality by posting several times a week. To date, I’m happy with the comments and how well my content is received.
I’ve connected with so many of my readers personally and that to me is the beauty in blogging.
I did not make any income directly from this blog till the last month. I didn’t expect to because making money was not one of my goals in the early months.
Building an audience and my list was my primary focus. On hindsight, I could have focused on affiliate income by having some affiliate posts.
Product (Email lists simplified and Opt-in blueprint)
Convertkit – $23.40
Paid speaking opportunity – $250
Income reported is after all commissions and fees have been deducted
My freelance income pays for the expenses incurred through this blog.
These are my recurring monthly charges and I try to keep these to a minimum. I prefer paying for tools that are a one-time fee.
Convertkit – $29
I have paid in full, yearly subscriptions to:
- Siteground (I switched from Bluehost to site ground about 2 months back)
- Tailwind ($119 yearly payment)
- Relay that
I invested in tools such as the Blue Yeti microphone, Camtasia, Logitech and afew others early on and I mention these in my resources section. These tools will more than pay for themselves in the coming months because they are a one-time investment.
I also invested in some blogging eBooks and courses early on and these have shaped the way I write and the way I approach blogging.
What I could have done to grow faster
- Starting Pinterest earlier
- Posting once a week (I’m currently on a fortnightly posting schedule)
- Starting my own Facebook group
- Being intentional about making money
All of these were at the back of my mind these entire 6 months.
Can you be aware of what will make you grow faster and not do it?
It’s all about balance and choices.
I am at GMT +8 which is almost a 12 hour different from the US. I also have a young child and a small freelance writing business. I plan every blogging decision with these constraints in mind.
I believe that after you set a solid foundation, the more you put in to blogging, the more you gain. But it’s easy to get hyper focused on blogging and growing your business and neglecting your family and health.
That’s something I didn’t want.
#1 Set a solid list building foundation
Once you have systems in place, you can grow your list on auto. I was away on vacation from September 5 – 19, with very little time to spend on promo days. But my list still grew.
For those of you wondering where to start with a new blog, here’s what I suggest:
- Sign up with email service provider (I recommend Convertkit and invested in it from Day 1 when I was earning $0 from this blog)
- Create an opt-in freebie
- Create a landing page for your opt-in freebie (Convertkit has landing pages. But another alternative is thrive landing pages which is $67 for a one time fee
- Write some simple emails in a welcome email series
- Promote your freebie on 1-2 social media platforms where your audience hangs out
This to me should be every launcher’s first few steps.
#2 It takes time
Growing your list takes time. If you look at the screenshot above, you can see that I’ve been consistently adding subscribers on a daily basis.
But it wasn’t always like this.
It took me a few months to reach this stage. There have been days, several even, where I added zilch to my list. So don’t be disheartened by the early months.
#3 Do what’s right for you
There are lots of people who will tell you to do something a certain way.
Have a look at this diagram. It shows 3 different pathways you can take to make money from your blog. The end goal is blog income but the strategy in each pathway is different. I have outlined just 3 here.
Choose a strategy that’s right for your life and business goals. Because if it isn’t, it’s going to make you feel miserable.
Failures and successes
I pretty much view everything as one huge experiment.
It’s easy to get discouraged when it looks like everyone else is progressing so much faster than you are. I’ve had these days as well.
Your blog is your baby and I get that.
But a healthy distance will help you evaluate your setbacks and wins objectively.
Goals for the next quarter
Content – I hope to post once every week compared to my current schedule of once every two weeks.
An overwhelming majority of my audience would like posts on growing their email list. I’ve been plotting content for a series as well as mulling over an idea for an ebook that shows step by step how to do this from scratch.
Social media – I want to work on looping my tweets via IFTTT. This has been on my to-do list for the longest time.
I also want to get on Instagram and it looks like a fun platform to be on.
It’s going to be a busy few months with the holidays around the corner and I’m excited to press on.
Share your thoughts
Let me know your thoughts on this first report and your first 6 months blogging. Did I miss anything?
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