After two months of launching my site, I doubled my traffic. When I first launched, I had 6 bogs and a very basic website. Over the past couple of months, I have learned a lot about blogging and marketing.
I've been following along with Neil Patel of QuickSprout and his personal challenge of growing a brand new blog to $100k per month within 12 months. Not that I have the same ambitious goals of making this much per month, but it is a way for me to learn what to do and what not to do online.
There are of course major differences in someone brand new to blogging and someone experienced like Neil. He knows how to grow a blog fast. Here are some comparisons on our progress.
My two month progress:
I've posted a total of 18 blogs and am writing them myself. I also created a freebie download pdf to get new creative business owners started.
I've redesigned my site layout twice to streamline it.
My site will consist of blogs for now, but also want to provide training courses, services, and maybe a small product like an ebook in the future. I designed my site to be adaptable for what's to come.
I also made the switch from WordPress to SquareSpace. I found WordPress backend to be simple enough to use, but I was still spending too much time messing around trying to get things right. I was using Total Theme by Theme Forest that has an awesome front end editor. If you're going to use WordPress, I definitely recommend Total. WordPress overall just wasn't for me. I tried the two week trial period with SquareSpace and love it! So simple and clean. I'm using the Montauk template.
I've been writing my own blogs. I'm trying to get my style down, which takes time. I've written super long blogs, and sometimes a bit shorter ones. Some are filled with photos, some have more stats. As I do research, I have been signing up for affiliate links to products that I'm using. I also have an ongoing list of experts that I have come across and will be writing about in the near future for you to refer to.
My social media followers have gone from zero to 550+ on Twitter and 260+ on Facebook. My Pinterest average monthly viewers have gone from 0 to over 12,000.
I used a $50 credit for Facebook advertisements to get off the ground. I've joined quite a few small business pages since that's what I'm supporting. The like-for-like pages are hopefully a good resource for me since they are filled with small business owners so I hope to get some value out of them.
I'm working a full time job, caring for a family, and the time I have for my business is very limited. I hope to change that in the near future.
I've spent a total of $687 so far. This includes my domain, hosting, photos, setting up an LLC (you do not have to do this right away), and some other odds and ends. I was paying for a DepositPhoto account ($69/mo for a max of 5 downloads per day). But this is expensive. I already have Adobe Illustrator and Photoshop, so I've started to design my own thumbnail images for each blog. They are simple and I might incorporate a small photo from time to time, but this will help with overall expenses. I also want this to be a way that I continue to streamline the appearance of my site. The photos I was selecting did not have one cohesive feel to them and they ended up looking very random. To have my brand stand out more, I need to have a consistent look.
2 Month Analytics:
By the end of April, I had around 300 sessions.
By the end of May, I doubled this to just under 600 sessions. This might not seem like a lot compared to some, but it's a start and if this trend continues, then I'll be doing alright. My total page views is just over 2,400.
Neil's two month progress:
He's posted about 22 blogs and was originally writing them himself. After about a month, he decided to have a nutritional expert, Mike Kamo, write them instead. Mike is under Neil's guidance to learn how to blog and update social media.
His site's layout is streamlined and easy to navigate. He went through some changes such as replacing his name and photo with Mike Kamo. Other than that, the site hasn't really changed since he formatted the installed theme.
He spent a few cents per like (total was just over $100) from Facebook ads in English speaking countries outside of the USA. The purpose of this was to increase the number of likes to a level where he could participate in a "shout-out-for-shout-out" campaign as he describes it. He posts in this fashion for only a few hours at a time. He now has over 100,000 followers.
From reading his blog, it seems Neil is a full time entrepreneur with a small team behind him. He also knows how to outsource well and gave an example of this when he made a deal for a photographer to fix up photos by providing the photographer with a used camera.
He's spent just over $2,600 so far.
Go here to see his 2 month summary. He has received over 33,000 visitors in two months. Wow.
So what now?
The point of following Neil is to learn how to grow. His approach with Facebook might be worth trying. It seems we both have about the same number of blogs (18 vs 22) which isn't bad from my point of view being a one-woman-band. We've spent about the same on the development of our sites. The differences come down to experience on how to blog and how to reach people. We both started at 0 and it's amazing to see the differences in what an expert can do in two months.
To keep people engaged, I plan to continue to write content that is applicable and helpful to creative small business owners just starting out or in need of guidance if already established. Neil brought up a good point that Mike is writing "me-too" content and not so much content that will go more viral. I want to make that change as well.
Posting to social media regularly with my own content is something I need to improve on. I too often post more of what I find that other people write rather than self-promoting my own content.
I need to determine a profit stream, otherwise this is just a hobby. I have several ideas of what I want to do and will share those as soon as I figure out a bit more of a solid plan.