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As part of my blogging journey, I’ve been keeping tabs on every move that I make to grow my blogging business. By tracking my income and growth strategies, I can gauge my success and help guide other bloggers (like you!) through the complicated process of starting a new blog.
Yes, there are multiple blogging courses that you can pay for online, but my blogging journey tips provide free and practical advice – no strings attached!
Today, I want to share with you how I achieved 31,000 pageviews, 26,000 blog sessions, $400-$600 worth of monthly blog income, and multiple hosted family vacations all within my first year of blogging.
By sharing the following blogging tips and hard-earned lessons learned, my hope is to inspire your blogging journey into one of both happiness and success in the first year!
My Blogging Journey
I am the founder and primary writer for top U.S. family travel blog, Travel With A Plan. Prior to starting Travel With A Plan, I had no previous writing or blogging experience.
In other words, I was a self-taught, beginner blogger.
Likewise, I didn’t prep my blog for months before launching, nor did I have any previous social media followers or a pre-existing email list.
Having no prior experience before starting a blog makes a huge difference in your initial success. It is very slow going when you’re starting from scratch, as you may already know.
Those with previous blogging experience, an established social media following, and knowledge on website design and development, have a significant advantage in that they can focus solely on creating blog content.
For most of us that are new to blogging, we’re doing all of this at the same time. And YEP, it’s a lot of hard work!
As you read to understand my blogging journey in the hopes to fine-tune yours, it is important to remember the following:
- I had no previous experience blogging prior to starting my blog.
- I have a full-time job outside of blogging and blog in my free time only.
- Blogging is not just a hobby for me; I am blogging for income and am working to make a business out of it.
- My earnings and rank continually change with time – and yours will too!
My Blogging Journey: 9 Lessons I Learned In the First Year
I started out as most bloggers do. I had a specific niche topic that I am passionate about but had very limited knowledge of how to create and manage a blog.
The following are 9 lessons that I have found to be absolutely essential in my blogging journey to success.
Your personal blogging journey will be enhanced by reviewing the following talking points, analyzing my social media and pageview growth, and discovering a realistic first year-blogging income.
1. Brainstorm before diving in.
Think long and hard when choosing your blogging niche and potential content before you dive into blogging.
Quite frankly, if you don’t truly love the topic that you’re choosing to base your blog around, you will eventually lose momentum in producing interesting content.
In other words, for a blog to flourish you need to have a strong passion for what you choose to write about. Week after week. Day after day.
Likewise, if you’re planning on blogging for the long run, you need to ask yourself, “Can I write about my niche for ten straight years?”
By brainstorming your potential content before diving in, you will best be able to formulate a plan, build an audience, and more quickly be able to earn an income from blogging.
2. Identify blogging as a ‘business vs. hobby’.
An essential component of your blogging journey is to determine your blog’s long term purpose.
Though it can be a difficult decision to make when you are first starting out, identifying if your blog is a business or hobby is one of the most important things to do when starting a new blog.
If you ever hope to earn some extra income from your blog, it’s best to establish this right at the get-go.
By thinking of your blog as a business from the start, you will ensure that your blog and its posts are structured, marketed, and branded appropriately. All of these are key elements of blogging success in the first year and beyond.
My blogging journey is shaped by the business and entrepreneurial mindset that I have chosen to commit to right from the start.
The following lessons that I have learned all pertain to the ultimate goal of monetizing my blog.
3. Learn and understand blogging terminology.
It is absolutely essential to learn and understand blogging terminology if you’d like success, growth, and monetization to be part of your blogging journey.
Though it is impossible to comprehend the full meaning of each and every blogging term before you’ve had experience with them, I recommend starting here.
This helpful article titled, Blogging Terminology 101, starts with the basics and works up to defining terms related to making money from blogging, brand sponsorship, and eventually hiring a team.
Once you’ve learned to ‘speak the language’ you can successfully interact with other (more successful) bloggers on social media and present yourself as a true professional.
4. Don’t give in to comparison.
Not only in your blogging journey but life in general, I have always believed that comparison kills contentment.
What I mean by this is that if you are constantly comparing yourself to other bloggers, you will never be able to appreciate what you yourself can bring to the table.
So many bloggers boast of massive monthly income without sharing their blogging experience, connections in the industry, or disclosing the actual, tangible ways in that they achieved such success.
If you’re wondering the real secret to making money from blogging, it comes down to one simple word.
Without blog traffic (blog readers), you will not make money on ads nor will affiliates and brands want to work with you.
After all, no traffic means no one is reading your stuff.
For this reason, the last five lessons that are of utmost importance in achieving blogging success within the first year have to do with growing your blog’s traffic.
I will highlight the actions in each category that have helped me achieve 31,000 pageviews, 26,000 blog sessions, $400-$600 worth of monthly blog income, and multiple hosted family vacations all within my first year of blogging.
5. Build a social media following.
Like it or not, you must build a social media following in order to find success as a blogger and be recognized by brands throughout your blogging journey.
For the sake of growing your business, it is not only necessary to share your perspective in a blog post, but to build your audience and encourage discussion on your topics in order to foster reader engagement, show authority, and grow your traffic.
In addition, brands and destinations will always imply about your social media following numbers when determining if they want to sponsor/host you or not.
Simply stated, the more readers and followers you have, the more exposure a brand will get in working with you and in having their name mentioned in your content.
When choosing what social media platforms to focus on, your task is to identify your target reader and then identify the social networks that your reader prefers.
If you are limited on time and resources, focus on a couple of social networks or even just one social network.
Throughout my journey as a travel blogger, I have focused the majority of my efforts on Pinterest and Facebook. These two platforms allow me to provide direct links to my content and bring me the most return for my effort.
Here is a realistic example of what you can expect from the organic, natural growth of my Travel With A Plan Pinterest business account over the course of 1 year.
Additional planning tip: From a blogging perspective, the social media sites that send the most traffic to blogs are:
The results vary depending on your target reader.
For instance, if your target reader is more visual it might make more sense to focus exclusively on Facebook, Pinterest, and Instagram. If your blog post is more geared around professional readers and business you might have more potential traffic from LinkedIn.
- Focus only on as many social media platforms that you can realistically keep up with. For me, this is Pinterest, Facebook, Twitter, and sometimes Instagram.
- Keep your social media feeds fresh by referring to recommended social media content ideas.
- Have both a personal and business Facebook Page. Post to each account a minimum of 5 times per week to stay relevant with your friends and followers. As the old saying goes, “Out of sight. Out of mind.”
- Whatever I post to Facebook each day, I also post to Twitter.
- Maintain a healthy Pinterest business profile. Adhere to the recommended pinning strategies that vary from year-to-year. I base all of my Pinterest marketing practices on the recommendations from social media guru Louise Meyer.
- Invite and follow new friends daily, interact with your follower’s social media feeds, and include social share buttons on your website. These actions will grow your social media platforms and bring traffic to your blog.
6. Invest in a keyword research tool.
If you haven’t gathered by now, the main focus of my blogging journey within the first year has been growth.
When I say the word ‘growth’ I am referring to producing consistently good content, attracting blog traffic, earning income, and appealing to brands.
The only way to achieve all of these things is through the organic blog traffic that results from doing keyword research.
By definition, keyword research involves identifying popular words and phrases that people are entering into search engines.
Keyword research tools (available both in both paid and free varieties) take it one step further by helping your determine how popular each keyword is and how difficult it is to be recognized or rank for them on search engine results pages (SERPs).
Consider your blog post as a needle in a haystack unless you are choosing to write about a keyword that has both search volume and room for your article to rank on either page 1 or 2 of a Google Search.
Your article will simply not be found or subsequently read otherwise.
Here is an example: Mary wants to take her family to Disney World but doesn’t know how much it will cost. She types, “Disney cost calculator” into the Google search bar and scans over the first few articles that are generated by the Google search.
Because I have done my keyword research and have effectively integrated that keyword into my article using proven SEO strategies (up next!), my article from Travel With A Plan is the first one that she sees in the Google search results.
She decides to click on the link and it brings her to my article titled, “Disney Cost Calculator & Our Total Price“.
This is true, organic blog traffic.
- Brainstorm a topic that you are interested in writing about.
- Determine a phrase that you can commonly use throughout your article to portray its main idea and be designated as the keyword(s).
- Enter this keyword phrase into a keyword research tool of choice and determine if anyone ever searches for that keyword (Search Volume), and whether or not there are too many other bloggers more established than you already writing about this topic (Difficulty Score).
- If there is a search volume of at least 20, a low difficulty score (green light), and at least one or two blogs on Page 1 of the SERP analysis that have a lower Domain Authority than you – go for it!
- If not, choose a different keyword, as you will likely not rank on either Page 1 or 2 of a Google search.
I did not use a keyword research tool until my 3rd month of blogging as that is when I had the means to purchase the paid tool, Keysearch.
The following graph represents how my blog traffic (page views) skyrocketed once I started doing keyword research in month 3 and beyond.
7. Commit to proven SEO strategies.
One of the most important things you can do to enhance your blogging journey to one of success is to understand and implement both on-page and off-page SEO.
SEO stands for Search Engine Optimization. It is the practice of increasing the quantity of traffic to your website through organic search engine results.
While you can increase traffic to your blog in a number of ways, you cannot overlook the value of organic traffic and in showing up organically on the first page of a search engine result.
In order to do so, once you’ve identified your target keywords, focus on-page SEO literally every time you write an article.
Once an article is published, move on to building its rank through off-page SEO.
Additional tips: Other SEO strategies that I use include only writing articles that are a minimum of 1,500 words long, publishing one high-quality blog article each and every week and including a minimum of 3 external and 3 internal backlinks within each article.
8. Study your analytics.
Keyword research and content writing for SEO is a huge investment of time.
In order to know if your investment is paying off and to determine if you are accomplishing your goals, you must learn how to study your blog analytics.
Studying your analytics shows how much traffic you are getting to your blog, who your audience is, and which posts are the most popular.
Likewise, you can determine what keywords you are and are not raking for as well as where on your website people are most likely to click.
By learning how to study your blog analytics, you can tweak your blogging strategies to get the traffic you want.
- Learn how to use Google Analytics. Study your blog analytics on Google Analytics once per month throughout your blogging journey.
- Learn how to use Google Search Console. Study your blog analytics on Google Search Console once per month throughout your blogging journey.
- Keep a spreadsheet of your monthly blog analytics to monitor your growth and look for areas of improvement.
9. Set your expectations low and your goals high.
I cannot say this enough…blogging is hard work.
Not only is blogging incredibly time-consuming, but there is very little monetary return that results from your efforts during the initial months of starting a blog.
In other words, success is hard to come by and definitely does not happen overnight.
If you align your expectations with these mantras, however, and commit to working hard on your blog for one full year, you will start to see a light at the end of the tunnel and find ways to stay motivated as a blogger.
Set your goals high by remembering the key lessons related to:
- Identifying your blog as a business and keeping a business mentality
- Continuing to learn and understand blogging terminology
- Never compare yourself to anyone else
- Committing yourself to social media and other forms of reader engagement
- Investing time in keyword research and SEO strategies
- And studying your blog analytics and adapting accordingly
Because of the hard work and lessons learned, at the end of year one I was celebrating:
- 31,000 monthly page views
- 26,000 monthly blog sessions
- $400-$600 worth of monthly blog income (a combination of income from Ezoic ad revenue, paid writing, and Amazon affiliate links)
- Hosted family vacations having been sponsored by Choose Chicago and Visit Tampa Bay
- Multiple paid experiences and attractions with CityPass, Mall of America, Visit Orlando, Visit Austin, Choose Chicago, and Lowes Royal Pacific
- Free product from Chester Luggage, Simplily Co., and Traveling Holmes
What have been some of your most exciting blogging successes?Jen
If you liked reading about My Blogging Journey, click here to access the other articles in this series:
- Why in the World Did I Start A Family Travel Blog?
- Diary of A New Blogger: Lessons Learned After 1 Month Blogging
- How to Make Money Blogging: Lessons Learned After 3 Months Blogging
- 8 Month Blog Income Report
- Blogging Terminology: Blog Terms You Need to Know to Grow & Make Money from your Blog
- 9 Ways to Reignite Your Blogging Motivation