I made my first dollar cent with Adsense! I guess $0.01 is something!
Ok, I know, $0.01 is nothing.
One cent doesn't even pay for my domain!
But it is a start, my target is to make $150 a month by the end of <year>. I just need to multiply my audience by 15.000! (it felt a little discouraging writing that).
Anyways, here is some background for the ones like me that are starting in this blog business. I hope some of my experiences will be relatable and helpful:
1) Why blogging: My life is quite stable, I am in the middle thirties, married with a permanent job. Since I was a teenager, I wanted to have a website, and I have decided now is the time to do it.
2) Blogging about what: I read somewhere that it is good to blog about something you like and know about it. Personal finance is what works for me, so there it is, a personal finance blog, simple enough!
3) Blogging to whom: Here the things get a bit trickier. I could talk about money to nearly anyone… so who should I blog to? The truth is that I am still working on this part. My firth wish was to blog to people with money that wants to get even more money (my case), but my guess is that these people don't really read blogs about finances (I didn't read them until now). So I turned to something more specific: 20-35 yrs old Americans struggling with finances while becoming adults. Debt, student loads, risk-taking, setting up financial goals, all the good stuff. I still want to refine this a bit, but it got me started.
4) How to blog: For simplicity, I have decided to stick with Google for the technical stuff. I know it is not the cheaper choice, but it was practical. I got a Google domain and deployed WordPress in Google Cloud. After some posts, I got the domain approved in Adsense. Tracking has been done with Google tags and analytics.
5) Social Media: I am definitely not a social media person. This part has been a big adventure full of fiascos.
– Twitter: From the readings I did, Twiter seemed like an excellent option to start reaching out to my audience. I created the account around October with the usual following everyone tactic – but now I stopped with that. I currently have 1280 followers, and I am following a bit less than that. Since I stopped following people, the audience's acquisition to the blog felt, but I think that is natural. My current tactic is to post 4 times a day, which takes me approx. 3 hs a week to set up every weekend. For the past week, I have had an average daily net inflow of 5-10 followers a day.
– Pinterest: This has been a total fiasco. I read a LOT about all the strategies to drive traffic from this beast! And I failed… miserably… but that does not mean I am not still trying. I will crack the code at some point! My account got locked twice, and I fear that might have contributed to my fiasco. I have tried posting 5 times a day, 10 times a day, 30 times a day. At the start I focused on bringing value, then I tried to be smart, then I lost hope and started spamming. Nothing worked. Different designs, titles, hashtags, group boards, etc. I suspect my mistake has been not doing it consistently for more than a month, I guess that has been the problem. My tries were always concentrated over some small periods. But how can I run Twitter and focus on quality content if half of my time goes into creating fluffy pins? Not worth it.
– Facebook: It's hard to maintain all these social media platforms and still write excellent content and have a life! That's why my Facebook page is abandoned. No time to dedicate to it, and I think my audience is more on Twitter than here.
– YouTube: I really want to get better in this video thing. I have created two already, they are not great, I am still getting the hang of it. Tried adobe spark to do a text-based video, it ended up looking like a bad business commercial, not good. For the second video, I used some text to speech to read a session of one of my posts over a stack video. I liked that one better, but it is still far from exceptional. My focus with YouTube is to bring value to the post itself, not to build a legion of followers or to drive traffic from it.
6) SEO: Here is my priority, here is where I want to focus as this is the long term audience source that should keep my blog running in the future. Unfortunately, it's not been too great either – definitely better than Pinterest, though. Despite my lack of domain authority, my last two posts are on the first page of Google for their targeted long-tail keywords. That has been my great celebrating achievement so far. Shame that they are low volume keywords, so zero traffic from it yet. The idea is to achieve the same for my next 50 posts in the next 6 months or so! Let's see how that goes!
7) Analytics: Someone said they check Google analytics once a week! I admire these people. I usually have it open while I work, and I get delighted when I see someone popping up! "Look, someone from India!"
Truth is that there are not many people coming in yet. But then I get the chance to create some bond with my audience! (sad laugh). When I was still on twitter following frenzy, I would get about 1000 page views and month, now I am down to about 600. User counts range from 3 to 30, monthly from the US and India.
8) Money: My running cost is about 35 a month, which is probably high. The good thing is that the first year is free, so I have another 10 months to make my $0.01 become $40.00. Realistically speaking, I don't think I will be able to do affiliate marketing or to sell content in the first two years. My current plan is to build enough great content to have the basic costs covered by add revenue.
Once I manage to pay for my running costs, the plan is to reinvest the extra cash into some SEO big-thing like SEMrush, Moz, or Ahrefs . I am not sure which one yet. I feel they will enable me to scale things a bit further.
I would love to hear your suggestions on where to reinvest my revenue.
9) Backlinks: Outreach has been a great exercise on how to deal with rejection! My outreach attempts by e-mail have been a total fiasco. From the 10 or so e-mails I sent, I got 3 negative answers and zero positive ones! But in Reddit I manage to found two awesome bloggers and that was great. There has been one established blogger that liked my content, and now we are working on some synergies (fancy!). And I will soon publish a guest post from an author that also liked my content. All in all, I am considering my Public Relations (PR) over the past month or so as a success.
10) Media: Considering my engineering background, artworks, videos, and pretty things have not been my best area to date. So far, I've been using Canva, Lightworks, and Blender with good results. They have helped me to keep things minimally visually friendly.
11) Plan forward: My main long term objective is to drive organic traffic via Search Engine Optimization (SEO). To do that, I must be able to generate a good volume of great content. Therefore the plan forward is to keep a higher focus on content generation.
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