Review after 1 year of solid blogging. Is it worth starting a blog now?
Hi all, I haven't posted much in this subreddit but today I thought I'd provide a review on how my first year of blogging went.
After I hit the 10-month mark, I started searching for reports from other bloggers to see how I'm performing.
There were loads of monthly earning reports, but few on 10-month mark or 1-year mark. Most were not realistic with 'how I made XXXXX amount within 3 months of blogging'.
Ok, I know some bloggers have made it big with blogging within a short period of time but it's not the norm.
So I'd like to share my experience here and what you can expect to achieve within a year of blogging.
Still, I did it full time so your results may vary. You can definitely do a lot better than I did, but don't despair if you don't or didn't. Blogging is a long-term game and so far, I'm loving it.
Is it worth starting a blog now? For me personally, yes. I love writing, sharing and helping others.
Can you still make money blogging? I really think so although I didn't make much last year.
I'll share the details and stats below and then provide some tips based on what I experienced.
• Niche: Personal development • Launched: 1 Jan <year> • Total post in <year>: 152 posts • Dec <year> pageview: 11,058 • Subscribers: 400++ (could be more but I deleted those who have not been opening my mails to reduce MailChimp subscription cost) • Amount earned in <year>: $112.59 (of the three monetization methods, Adsense yielded the most for me last year)
In this one year, I made tonnes of mistakes. I'm sure I still am, but I've learned a lot and continue to improve every day.
I would say my blog really took off after the 6-month mark. I made some serious changes to my blog in July after pumping a lot of content. And it's kinda paying off now.
Here, I'd like to share what I've learned. Some are universally true in my opinion, but some don't apply to everyone. Feel free to use your own discretion in what to accept or implement.
👉 Blogging is seriously a long-term game. Most of us can't live off of it within a year of starting. There are exceptions of course, but not the rule. Be patient, though, traffic WILL pick up with time and you will see money trickling in if you put the work in.
👉 Focus on Search Engine Optimization (SEO) right from your first post if you want to monetize your blog at some point. I did this, but not in the right way. I learned from other bloggers eventually and took an SEO course. I'm better now, but I still need to improve.
👉 A good post that will be shared by many cannot be slapped together within an hour or less. There's research, pin creation if you're on Pinterest and loads of back-end optimization to be done, which takes time.
👉 Know how you're going to get your traffic. Facebook and Twitter doesn't do it for me. Only Google and Pinterest (SEO)
👉 This one, I regret the most. Have a very, very good freebie or e-mail optin for subscribers right from the beginning. Like, within one month of starting your blog. I had the worst optin in the world and less than 50 people signed up in the first 6 months. Quizzes do well, printables do well and so do short free courses. I have all 3 and now I'm enjoying a good subscriber rate.
👉 You will be afraid to monetize your blog. But don't be. I wasted time and still am. I can't bring myself to promote my product like other bloggers for some reason. This year I hope I can pick up some courage to do this.
👉 The more you work to improve your blog, the more tear-inducing technical problems you'll encounter. It's a good sign, it's progress. But don't be scared. Ask people questions in forums, talk to the helpdesk people and ALWAYS have a plan B. Don't give up.
👉 Some paid courses don't deliver and the creators are not above making false promises when you contact them directly. Beware, but don't avoid courses altogether. We all need to learn and grow somehow.
👉 You will struggle to find time to implement all your blogging strategies. I did, even though I focused on blogging full-time. There's just so much to do and in the beginning you don't know what works yet so you have to try a lot of different things. I still haven't implemented a few things I outlined last June!
👉 Be prepared to try a lot of things. No two bloggers have the same strategy or outcome. What works for others may not work for you. You have to discover what works for you. Don't give up thinking nothing works.
👉 Focus on content the first few months. I divided my year to quarters. First quarter, I focused on content. Second quarter, monetization. Third quarter, aesthetics such as layout, changing theme, improving optin, increasing site speed etc. (I encountered the most technical challenges at this phase to the point I broke down. But I did not give up). Fourth quarter, product creation.
👉 Know your niche. I wasn't clear on mine for the first 6 months. But I luckily hadn't veered off too far. Now I'm clear. It's easier to create suitable optins and products to sell when you know who you're serving.
👉 Don't spend $$$ until you have to. Use the free options and get better at what you do. Having said that, you'll have to spend some if you really want to monetize. I didn't spend on anything other than hosting and Tailwind in the beginning. Everything else, I used the free version first. Now, I spend on quite a few things.
👉 I won't be renewing my Tailwind subscription this year. I can pin manually and still get traffic. And save money.
👉 Have a schedule for publishing articles, emailing subscribers, writing content, researching, social mediaing and reaching out to other bloggers. Nothing gets done without this and you won't take blogging seriously without it. Seriously.
👉 You better love your niche and you better love writing. Because after a few months, you will begin to get tired especially when you don't see traffic meeting your expectation. And then you'll run out of topics to write about. And then you'll wonder what's the point. This is when most bloggers quit. But you shouldn't. You will push on if you love writing and your niche. You'll have lots to say and you'll look at a topic from several angles to write about.
I'm sure there's more but it's getting late here and this post is already too long.
In summary, I love blogging and see myself doing it for the foreseeable future. I still have a lot to implement and I still have a lot to say to my audience. So for now, I'm having fun.
Feel free to share your experiences, especially your first year of blogging. I think it'll be very helpful to others starting a blog or thinking about starting one.
If you have any questions, just ask. I'll do my best to answer and clarify.
Happy New Year!
Any SEO course suggestions?
Most of my SEO 'learning' I did through reading other bloggers' free posts. Especially Neil Patel and Problogger's. If you're not a total newbie and somewhere in the middle, you can try Lena Gotts Adventures in Search Engine Optimization (SEO). She only opens twice a year I think. I definitely learned something new in her course. My advice in taking courses is, be honest and evaluate your blog realistically before setting expectations for what you want to achieve through the course. It's just my opinion, of course :)
Thank you for your help!
It really is a long game. I've only been doing it for a couple months and I'm already frustrated. I've earned a whopping $0.02 from Adsense so far, lol. Thankfully my niche (comic book reviews) is something I really like doing. Having only done 16 posts though makes me feel like I really need to up my game. I need to look into using Pinterest. Do you have any noobie Pinterest strategies you'd be willing to share?
Haha! There were many days I made $0.02 from Adsense but trust me, if you keep at it, the numbers will go up. To be honest, I'm not really good with Pinterest but I'll share what I know. First, look at your niche and list all the possible boards you can come up with for that particular niche. Create all of them and use keywords in your descriptions. The more relevant boards you have, the more you can pin the same pin to different boards. I have at least 5 pins per post and I always use keywords in all my pin descriptions, titles. I don't use hashtags though, it's just never been a habit of mine. And oh, don't forget to use data-pin-description. Google if you don't know what that is. People say group boards don't work anymore, but they do for me. So do join relevant group boards to get initial traction. Keep a consistent pinning strategy, meaning, don't skip entire days. Pin less if you don't have time, but pin at least a few every day. I know a lot of bloggers recommend Tailwind, mostly to make affiliate sales, but my honest opinion is, you don't need it. At least, not at the beginning…
Thank you! I'm literally in the middle of pinning all of my posts right now. So far I have a Marvel Comics Reviews board and a DC Comics Reviews board. Just created a Batman Comics Reviews board and am now trying to figure out how to repin from mobile browser. Is repinning the same as just posting the same web page in a new board? I didn't even know Pinterest had communities. Totally gonna check that out!
Edit: Turns out re-pinning is only possible via desktop. At least now I know.
The thing with Tailwind that makes it so effective is Tailwind tribes. OP, have you actually tried Pinterest without Tailwind yet?
It's really hard. I hardly got any Pinterest traffic until I started using Tailwind, then it boosted right up. The tribes system is key, and you'll lose that if you don't renew.
Yup, in fact, it took me 3 months to give Tailwind a try after I subscribed to it. By then I had gotten used to manual pinning. Every time I used Tailwind, my traffic took a dip. So I just pin manually now. As for the tribes, yes I use them, but again, I don't see it bringing in much traffic to my site. Of course, it's just my personal experience :)
interesting. Night & day in my case. Perhaps the value of Tailwind is down to niche
I understand this can be a little tricky but I honestly didn't spend much time on it. I just looked at about 10 other, more established blogs and adapted their legal pages to mine. I didn't copy word for word, I tweaked a little, added what was missing and customised.
Good post, especially for any new bloggers reading it. I'm 3 years in now, and your traffic after 1 year is almost at my level after 3 years, so you're doing well in that regard. However, your income is much lower from a similar amount of traffic, so you can probably do a lot more on the monetisation front (really depends on niche though).
To everyone reading who's new, or thinking about starting a blog, I just want to say my experience is pretty much the same as OP's and I basically agree with most of their points. Especially, don't neglect your email list – make your email list & Search Engine Optimization (SEO) a focus from the start. I didn't start my list for ages, which was a mistake. My SEO is decent and Google's my main traffic source, but it takes quite a long time for Google to rank your content so yeah defo a long game.
Also, I absolutely second that Facebook & Twitter suck for traffic. Twitter can be good for getting to know other bloggers in your niche but doesn't drive much traffic, while Facebook is only good for groups. Running a FB page for your blog is a waste of time unless you're willing to pay FB to promote it. You want FB traffic, you pay them for it. Instagram can be good for brand building I suppose, but also doesn't drive much traffic. I can't stand FB & IG.
Pinterest & Google are also my key sources of visitors. I disagree with OP about Tailwind though. For me, signing up to Tailwind was the point where my Pinterest traffic took off. Until then, I got nowhere at all with Pinterest either.
And final note, be ready for blogger burnout. It hit me recently, my productivity plummeted and I'm now rethinking whether I can make this a sustainable full time living. It's been 3 years of very hard work, and the income still isn't anywhere near enough to justify the full time commitment. For now it's going to have to be a hobby which makes a side income. I need to increase my traffic probably 5x to generate a genuinely good income, and that will take a long time.
Hey, I'm sorry about the burnout. I'm no one to say, but I hope you won't give up on trying to make it a full time thing. It will take time, no doubt, but I think it'd be worth it when it finally happens?
2. Do you talk about Search Engine Optimization (SEO), not promotion in general? I thought all I can do about SEO is just installing SEO plugin, and that's all.
5. Again, I don't think email subscription is important because, well, who reads email nowadays from time to time? I wanted to email a blogger who assures he checks his email frequently, still no response.
2. Well, there's a lot you can do to optimize your posts and images. Read up on it. 5. Email marketing still works.
Thanks for all your helpful tips; certainly helps. I am just starting out and already desperate to earn money, as I am low income and struggling to survive. I have the time to devote a lot of effort in this project. I have 3 distinct topics I want to blog about, so was considering purchasing separate domains for each. Is this a mistake? I am passionate about all 3. So far, I have purchased one domain and paid for a web hosting service.
Hi, I'm no expert, but I'd focus on one blog first and get it off the ground. If you've never blogged before, you'll have a lot to learn. And then, once you're familiar with blogging and have established a routine or schedule, maybe you can start the next blog. You might be able to get it to take off faster with everything you've learned from the first blog. Just my thoughts. But whatever you choose to do, just remember that blogging is a long-term game. You won't be able to make money right away if you're desperate for cash. Having said that, I wish you all the best.
This is great! So helpful. What was the typical frequency of blogging and length of each blog post?
In the first quarter, I posted almost every day with 20-22 posts a month. Now I post every third day which adds up to 10-11 posts a month. Most of my posts are 3000 words or more. The rest are about 2500-2800.
I checked out your site, I really like what I see. I read a piece of advice that stuck with me, which I think you have done very well: be bold in your message so that the enthusiastic people immediately identify with you while the rest go away as soon as possible. I hope that sounds like a compliment because I mean it to be.
Your latest article about 20 items to buy from Amazon is a great way to get affiliate conversions, I think that is your future. If you remember to link at least one product to each blog post I think you'll have something good over time.
One suggestion – test your site with ad blockers. You want to make sure your content shows up, even if the ads won't. On your latest article about 20 items to buy, none of the product images show up for me because [Ghostery blocks them](https://i.imgur.com/LrqAFhy.png. I run both AdBlock and Ghostery. While AdBlock didn't block anything, Ghostery blocked these:
👉 Amazon Associates
👉 Push Engage
👉 Google Analytics
👉 WordPress Stats
👉 Facebook Social Graph
That's fine, to be expected. But you definitely want to make sure your content still shows up. Try uploading the product images to WordPress directly rather than linking to 3rd party images. That will help later too, if the image URL were ever to change.
Hey, thank you so much for taking time to check out my site and writing back. I really appreciate it. I guess it shows how poor my skills are in tech stuff. Lol. I didn't have any ad blocker or even use one until my laptop was stolen last November. My sales rep installed it in my new laptop. But I see what you mean now. I had no idea before this. I'll upload the pix to WordPress from now on. Thanks for the tip 🙏🏽
To be honest, my affiliate sales is pretty bad. I don't know what I'm doing wrong, really. Maybe the above is one of the reasons. And I keep forgetting to promote at least one product on each post as you say. Really going to work on this this year.
Once again, I appreciate your suggestions and compliment. Cheers! :)
About affiliate sales… Either visitors are not clicking the links, or they aren't purchasing anything right away. If you're not tracking link clicks out of your site, you might consider doing that. That will tell you if people are even clicking on the links in the first place.
I'd be curious to know how readers are engaging with your articles, too. Are they scrolling all the way through? You can use heat map tracking to find out. I think Google Analytics (GA) has that stuff built in now.
Oh, from what I can see, visitors are clicking. They're just not buying anything within 24 hrs. Ooof! Heat map. This is pretty advanced stuff. But if it's available on Google Analytics (GA) for free, I'd really like to explore it later this year. The only thing I take comfort in at this point is that my bounce rate has gone down from the initial days (high 90s to low 80s). Still not where I want it to be, but I feel positive I can get there (mid 60s) :)