Today is the first post in a series about improving blog traffic, and how I plan to take this place to the next level.
I started blogging in 2010 on a whim. Troy had gotten laid off on April Fool’s Day of that year, and things got stressful very quickly. I immediately shifted in to money-saving mode, and started sharing tips and tricks with an online group of friends. I realized after a few weeks that it was probably becoming annoying. So I figured starting a blog to share that info would be a way to get the thoughts out of my head, and maybe along the way I could help a few people.
I wrote and shared for months and months, and occasionally I would get like 100 page views in a day. It was a cool feeling, and I loved being able to give other people options on how to save money. Traffic slowly grew, I added some Google ads, and I kept having fun. Things evolved, and I started to have bigger thoughts about what might be. After so many years of working hard and struggling, Troy finally got a fire fighting job in 2014. Then my parents moved in, and with Bennett on the way, we made the decision that I would stay home after he was born. The idea was I would also use that time to grow my blog and make it more of a legit endeavor.
Sitting where I am now, I look back at that version of myself and think I have a lot to teach her (me?). I went in to this full-time blogger gig with the assumption that simply having more time to write would mean my blog would grow instantly. It didn’t. I didn’t have a plan and I floundered. I think I was so overwhelmed in those last few months of work, that I just couldn’t focus on my next steps. Anyone remember Bennett being born only 15 hours after I finished up the deadline for an 18 month project? with my old company It was an intense time.
Since I quit work, my Facebook audience has grown, and that’s about it. Truth be told, my monthly/yearly pageviews have actually dropped since I started writing full-time. There may be many different reasons this happened, but without knowing for sure, my best option is to move forward. And have a freaking plan this time.
Knowing that I’m big on transparency, and that you all will hold my feet to the fire, I’m laying it all out on the table. I have learned so much from other bloggers sharing their own paths, so I am hoping to pay it forward a bit and let everyone watch me flounder and hopefully succeed. This is my first post in what I anticipate to be a series on improving this space, moving from hobby to business, and working towards what I envision in my head and heart. As I lit a fire under my own ass last week, I got myself too amped up and immediately felt overwhelmed. I realized that trying to do too much at once was insanity. So I sat down and came up with some concrete steps to calm the crazy in my head. My plan has 12 steps to make the transition on the road to improving blog traffic more manageable. There is so much to learn, and so much to take in. I simply can’t manage to do anything well if I’m trying to do everything. How do you eat an elephant? One bite at a time.
- Make a plan. Done. Check that off the to do list. Score one for instant gratification.
- Write a mission statement. Done. I’ll talk it about it when I write about SEO.
- Be honest and stay true to myself and my core values (family/friends, faith, food, fun, and fart jokes. And Nutella). More pageviews are not worth losing my integrity.
- Do a deep dive on one new topic every month. I plan to keep learning about all the other topics throughout the various months, but not expect myself to master them at once. And to be clear, I likely won’t master any of these, but knowing more about them than I do now will be huge.
- June: SEO (zzzzzzzzz)
- July: Learn more about Facebook and how to grow that audience.
- August: Learn more about Pinterest and how to grow that audience.
- September: Photography. I’m going to dive in to Photoshop (hold me), and really try to not make my photos look like a hot bag of garbage. I’m aiming for a lukewarm bin of recycling by fall.
- October: Learn more about Instagram and how to grow that audience.
- November: Video
- December: Tech. This one scares me. So much.
- Network more. This is a hard one for me. As an extrovert, I could talk to a brick wall and have a great time. But something about professional networking makes me feel so awkward. As a baby step towards meeting this goal, I put myself on the waiting list for Food Blogger Pro. Their podcast is what got me amped up and inspired to take charge and move forward. I plan to attend a conference next spring in Los Angeles, and am looking for more opportunities as my limited budget allows.
- Monetize with integrity. There are so many options on how to make money online, but there are only some that I feel comfortable associating myself with day in and day out.
- Make obtainable and measurable goals. And then try to exceed them.
- 10,000 Facebook followers by October. It’s my birthday gift to myself.
- 20,000 Pinterest followers by November. It will be a time of giving thanks for hard work.
- 1,000 Instagram followers by December. A happy Festivus for all.
- 100,000 pageviews a month by January (current average is about 45k). That goal allows me to work with a company that I hear amazing things about. I want in.
- Reach out to one company or industry person per week. This kind of goes with networking, but it is more about looking to connect with brands or people who I respect and admire.
- Update at least one old blog post per week. I started doing this last week. It is exceptionally frustrating, but also gratifying. It takes me about two hours per post to refine, update, and optimize. My photography is still very rough, but better than it used to be. Each post I update either needs new photos, or I have to find the original digital files somewhere in the ether of Shutterfly, and use my limited editing skills to try to improve them.
- Produce quality content. Don’t just hit publish to get something out there. But don’t be afraid to write about things that aren’t popular, or pinnable. Write from my heart every day.
- Be inspired. Be inspiring. Make sure it remains fun.
- Be grateful. And I am.For all of you and all the opportunities I have been given because you people like to read about my weirdness. You make it interesting and worth all the hard work. And I learn 10 times more from you than I will ever teach others.
Three to four times a week, Bennett and I go on a nice long walk. It’s now down to a science, and I know I can get about 7,000 steps in during each jaunt. I listen to my favorite podcasts, and I am able to clear my head and just walk. I live in a very hilly town, so flat space is rare. At the top of this one hill, the road flattens out a bit for a quarter of a mile or so. That is where I pause to drink some water, check my phone, etc. The other end of that flat surface is a hill that I dread every day. It doesn’t look like much. At first glance it seems pretty easy, but that hill goes on forever. It starts off on a slight incline, and then just keeps going up, up, up for probably a half mile.
I’ve learned with that hill, the only way up it is one step at a time. No matter how slow I go, I keep walking up, because once I stop, it seems even harder to get going again.
I make excuses to try to delay my climb back up, but in my heart I know one foot in front of the other and hard work is the only real solution. There is no easy way up; it’s a climb each and every time. About halfway up, I often look back and realize how much progress I have been able to make. I’m not at the top, but I’m sure not back where I started.
There is always sweating, and maybe some cursing under my breath as I approach the crest of the hill. But the view from the top is an expansive view of Puget Sound, and Mount Rainier. It’s a challenge, but the rewards are so much greater than any excuse I can think of for not doing it.
Excuse me. I have an elephant to start eating.