Surviving Blogging – Learning How To Be A Blogger

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As I type the title to this post, Surviving Blogging – Learning How To Be A Blogger; I can’t help but laugh a bit.  I feel clueless yet as if I have survived something big.   Is this my first step in becoming the crazy cat woman with purple hair?

When your kids leave the house, you have to start wondering about these things.  After all, they are the ones that have kept you on the straight and narrow and prevented you from making a fool of yourself for the past few years.

I hope that Rob and I can survive this transition in life and not embarrass ourselves too much!

Okay, enough rambling, now on to the lookback and look-forward for Empty Nestin’.

>> Read More about Becoming a Blogger <<



October 2018 – Yep…it is still terrifying!

A heading like that is pretty spot on and a bit appropriate considering the season.  As we navigate through the online blogging world, we are picking up so much information.  At times it feels completely overwhelming.

Do this and do not do that.  We step forward and then feel the slide back; at times, it is more like a jolt backward.

We hear “content, content, content” chanting in the back of our minds with every blog post we publish.  All the great bloggers out there say “content” is the key!

That makes sense!  We want to add value to our lives and the lives of our readers.  We want to publish excellent articles with great content.

A lesson of blogging…

The alarming part of the word “content” is the number of successful blogging influencers out there that inform you that the top ranking Google searches all consist of a minimum of 1,500 words.

This direction is then followed up by top marketers like Gary Vaynerchuk and Neil Patel, who say that you need to invest 20% of your time on content and 80% of your time on marketing.

I’ve got the 1,500-word-count down; that’s easy!  It is a measurable factor. It is the 80% of marketing that is throwing me off of whatever game I may have!

Let me tell you…when you and you and your husband both work a minimum of 40 hours a week, and you are trying to create a valuable blog, and you have no experience, the learning curve is pretty steep.  Are we up for it?  Hell yeah!

Okay…if that sounded like whining, my sincerest apologies!  I am just laying it all out there so that you know that creating a blog is not a “ta-da it’s done” endevor…it is work!  It is fun, tiring and a great learning experience that requires really digging in, rolling your sleeves up and learning oh so much about yourself!

October’s adventures in blogging…First season, second episode

So as if 2018 was not exciting enough for us, we fearlessly ventured into the world of blogging.  This year Rob and I have experienced the life-changing experience of our son moving out, I met my biological parents for the first time, we paid off $50,000 worth of debt, and we quit smoking.  It has been one hell of a year!

After surviving month two of blogging, I can tell you that the process still feels clumsy, but it has been an excellent way for us to reflect and grow further.

Research & Education

To help us with this blogging thing, we read tons of articles, watched hours and hours worth of YouTube videos, enrolled in blogging courses, and reviewed metrics about our site that we do not understand.

We are doing this all in hopes of getting better, learning more, and improving this craft of blogging that we are trying so hard to figure out.

During October, Rob and I purchased two classes to help us on our blogging journey.  In the upcoming months, we will post full reviews of each course.  For now, here is just a brief overview of the courses we took, why we enrolled in them, and what we have gained so far.



Making Sense of Affiliate Marketing

Course:  Making Sense of Affiliate Marketing
Instructor:  Michelle Schroeder-Gardner
Cost of Course:  $197

Overview

Michelle shares tips and tricks that she has used to make her financial blog Making Sense of Cents extremely profitable.

Why did we enroll in the course?

Michelle’s blog was one of the catalysts that helped Rob, and I get energized over the idea of blogging.  With our mission of paying off our debt, I became obsessed with money management ideas, tips, and tricks.

You see, I enjoy listening to YouTube.  Yep, listening to YouTube.  It is a method of communication that fascinates me as it is a platform that has given people a voice and truly changed lives.

For months I would listen to Dave Ramsey’s show every morning while I was getting ready for work.  It was his debt-free screams that kept us focused and let us know that paying our debt off was possible.

Following the debt pay off,  I continued to listen to financial topics on YouTube.  Then one morning, I found Jeff Rose.  He is a financial planner that runs a successful blog and posts highly informative YouTube videos.

It was one of Jeff Rose’s videos that caught my attention:  She Makes $100,000 Per Month Blogging at 28 Years Old




Yep!  It was a double take!  So with jaw dropped, I watched Jeff’s interview with this 28-year-old blogger that made more money then I could ever imagine earning from my 40 hours a week job.

It was a mind-blowing moment that I had to share with Rob!

It was her inspiring story that ignited an idea, a dream, in Rob and me.  With her story being such a pivotal point in our blogging story, we knew that we would enroll in her course if we were able to find the courage to start the blogging journey.

What have we gained so far?

This course is pretty high level, which is what we need at this stage of the game.  Michelle teaches what affiliate marketing is; she shares her non-sleazy marketing strategies, informs you where you can find affiliate programs, and provides tips and tricks to keep you out of trouble while you are blogging.

The course is solid!

The Genius Bloggers Toolkit

Course:  The Genius Bloggers Toolkit
Cost of Course:  $97

Overview

The Genius Blogger Toolkit is a promotional sale from Ultimate Bundles.  This toolkit includes a ton of classes from a ton of bloggers.  It was advertised as $5,867.88 in resources for $97.

Why did we enroll in the class?

Facebook.  As one of my goals for October, I started facing my fear of social media.  In the process, I joined a bunch of  Facebook Groups.  That process of being social was filled with some good and some bad.  More on that later.

A blogger named Cate Rosales hosts one of the groups I joined.  Cate’s group is called “Becoming a Blogger.”  For Rob and me, that seemed pretty appropriate!

Cate’s is extremely involved with her Facebook group.  She has quick, heartfelt responses that are full of inspiration and put the members of the group at ease.  During October, Cate let the group know about the bundle.

The advertised bundle included extended free trials for two products Rob and I had already decided we would purchase.  We received three months of the Pinterest scheduler Tailwind and a two months free trial of the email marketing software Convertkit.  With both of these extended free trials being included in the course, we felt like it could be a good investment.

What have we gained so far?

We have started our free two month trial of the email marketing software Convertkit, downloaded a few documents that address some of the legal concerns associated with blogging, and watched a few videos about marketing on Pinterest.

Since this is a bundle pack, there are so many learning tools that we have not had a chance to review.  On a good note, we will have access to this bundle of courses for one year, so we are not too worried about being able to maximize this possible investment.



Total Investment to Date

When looking for a side hustle, one of the concerns is always the cost associated with startup.  Starting a blog is no different.  The costs to date that are associated with starting our blog are outlined below.  So far, our most significant expense is education at $294.00.

INVESTMENT TOTAL SINCE 8/29/18
Advertising $0.00
Education $294.00
Hosting $178.20
Graphics & Design $188.35
Total $660.55

Hosting – Total Investment $178.20 for 36 Months of Service

A hosting provider is the most important decision about our blog that we have made to date.  We selected Blue Host as our service provider.  So far, their response to my newbie questions has exceeded any expectations.

Graphics and Design – Total Investment $188.35

Theme – Total Investment of $39.95 for 18 months of service

Our theme is the tool we use to manage all of the esthetics of Empty Nestin’.  It is the controls for our color scheme and fonts; it determines our margins and the color of our hyperlinks.  It is what makes Empty Nestin’ pretty.

Canva Graphic Design Software – Total Investment of $119.40 for 12 Months of service

Canva is the online graphics software that we use to create all of our images.  Although Canva has a great free option, we opted to upgrade to the paid version so we could set our color palette and have access to their picture library.



Tasty Pins Plugin – Total Investment $29.00

The Tasty Pins plugin is a tool designed to communicate with Pinterest when a visitor pins an image from our site.  The Tasty Pins plugin allows us to add additional options for pinning on the back end and ensures that a description of our pin publishes to Pinterest when visitors share our post.

In the blogging world, it appears that Pinterest is the key to getting our message out.  It is a primary factor in driving traffic to our blog.  By using Tasty Pins, our images on our site become images that Pinterest can find because it has keyword descriptions associated with it.

I cannot remember where I learned about this cool tool – – – but so far, so good!

Post Writing

We slowed this one down a bit.  Although we are still in the process of finding our voice, we are gradually exposing ourselves to the technical world of blogging.  The technical world of  SEO (Search Engine Optimization).

There are so many “SEO Experts” out there that it seems like learning the skill of SEO would be simple, yet simple is the farthest from the truth.

SEO consists of a ton of testing and modeling to see how search engines view sites and rank those sites.  There is an art to getting your page listed on the first page following a Google search.

SEO has a big learning curve, and our goal is to start implementing some of the tips and tricks out there in hopes of helping people find our site when they do a Google search.



October 2018 Posted Articles

Social Media

We knew social media would be a challenge for us.  What we have learned is that social media for businesses is a dysfunctional love-hate relationship.  When you are first starting, there is so much information coming at you.

Do this…don’t do THAT!

It is pretty hard to navigate through.  For Rob and I, we focused on two forms of social media this month; Facebook and Pinterest.  It was an interesting ride and made a few mistakes on both platforms.

We decided that social media could count toward this unknown value of marketing that we are supposed to be achieving.

Facebook

With the lack of Facebook experience, I went out there and joined a few groups.  Groups that are following the Dave Ramsey plan as I love the conversation and the celebrations taking place.  It helps to keep us focused on our debt-free life.

Then I joined groups for and about blogging.  Although most were just educational, there are also groups that help you drive traffic to your site.

You post a link to a post that you want people to check out, they visit your site, maybe share your post, and voila, your Google Analytics charts start looking good.  You’ve got traffic!

Facebook lesson

I know, dumb newbie move.  In my excitement of having visitors, it took a seasoned blogger to provide me with a reality check.  Tracie Richmond Fobes of Penny Pinchin’ Mom is very active on the educational Facebook groups that I joined.

Tracie is always posting uplifting words of advice.  Although this advice was not directed at me, I took heed to her warning.

In one of her posts, she pointed out how some Facebook groups, the kind that I was participating in, could create traffic that could potentially hurt our site.

Say what!?!  Yep, my “marketing” was not helping us out.

You see, there are some Facebook groups out there which practice tactics that increase traffic to sites.  These Facebook groups share their links with one another, and then everyone in the group visits the links.  Viola…your traffic to your site traffic looks marvelous!

I thought it seemed too good to be true.  Dang, it!  Back to the drawing board.  We will figure this marketing thing out one of these days.  😊

For now, I am just grateful that there are people like Tracie out there who save me from me.




Pinterest

All I can say is…Pinterest is FUN!  It is a wonderful community filled with all things beautiful.  Although Pinterest can m is viewed as a social media platform; bloggers view Pinterest as a search engine.  It is a bloggers search engine that the blogger can submit their posts, and so can their readers.

With that being said, it is full of dangers for the new blogger as well.  That is where the educational Facebook groups saved me from myself yet again with an article telling us the strategies to avoid on Pinterest.

If only there were a recipe out there:  Do this, then do this, and if you do this, you will have a billion visitors.

Goal Setting

Followup from last month

1. Pageviews

We set the goal of 10,000 pageviews by six months.  My brief experience with “marketing” did exaggerate our traffic for a short period of time.

You can see a large upswing on October 6th.  That was my first experiment with Facebook groups that boost traffic.  I quit about a week later.  The unexpected happened when I quit.  Our users continued to grow.

After month two, we have hit a total of 1,874 pageviews.  At this point, we have not learned of any other metrics to measure progress, so we will figure 18.7% of our initial goal a success.

The growth between September and October was significant.  In October 2018, we experienced 1,499 compared to 375 pageviews in September.



2. Social Media

We are showing little to no progress on Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram platforms, but we have seen significant moves with Pinterest.  Our goal was 300 followers in 6 months.  We are now up to 575 followers.  With changes of this nature, I honestly cannot find any value in tracking Social Media numbers until we can get a better understanding of how the numbers impact our site.

Just for future reference and as a benchmark for our journey, below is an image of our Pinterest analytics as of 10/31/18.

3. New Posts

In September, we established a publishing schedule that we were able to follow.  To continue our goal of consistency and continued education, we will continue to publish an article every Monday and Thursday.

4. Releases and Launches

Printable and Email Marketing

In September, I set the goal of releasing our first Free Printable Budget.  This goal was successfully met on October 21st.  The element that I love about goal setting is that the completion of one goal often leads to the achievement of another goal.

We not only released our first free printable, but we also launched the email marketing system Converkit.  We had planned on waiting on Convertkit until we reached 1,000 monthly pageviews, yet our purchase of The Genius Blogger Toolkit included a two-month free trial.

So far, we have been able to gain 22 Empty Nestin’ subscribers as a result.

Trackable Budget Spreadsheet

The Excel spreadsheet is in testing right now.  Looking back and looking forward, the release of the spreadsheet will be set for release the beginning of 2019.  I am also excited about a Snowball Debt Calculating Excel spreadsheet that I am working on, and I am hoping to have it ready to launch by the end of the first quarter of 2019.




To Do For November

For November, we are committed to meet the following items for us to achieve our goal of location independence by January 1, 2021.

  1. Ensure that every post has two graphics for Pinterest
  2. Monetize previous posts
  3. Continue to post every Monday and Thursday
  4. Establish an email marketing strategy that communicates our blog posts automatically
  5. Research and apply strategies that will help Empty Nestin’ achieve 100 email subscribers by the end of the year

Thank you so much for joining Rob and me on our journey. 

How was your October?  What are you looking forward to for November?

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