Last week I talked about how I made my first $25,000 blogging. In total, I’ve now made close to $40,000 blogging in my first 2 years and make roughly $3,100 /month, which feels pretty awesome.
However, I feel like I could have gotten to this point so much faster if I had skipped some steps. I only started making substantial income in May 2018, which was almost a year and half after I originally launched my blog.
In retrospect, it’s much easier to see which aspects of blogging are worth investing your time into and which are completely useless. So, if you’re looking to boost your earnings and perhaps become a full-time blogger like me, read on to find out what my top 7 mistakes were as a newbie blogger.
But first, if you don’t already have a blog, you can get started with my super simple guide that teaches you how to create a blog in 15 minutes or less!
Start A Successful Blog Today
If you are interested in starting a successful blog yourself, I’ve made a super simple FREE tutorial on how to start a profitable fashion/lifestyle blog.
Alternatively, you can also start a blog by enrolling in my free 5 Day Blog Launch Challenge – this eCourse will take you through all the steps that you need to build a successful blog in just 5 days!
I also offer a free Blog In A Box Service – if you buy your hosting through my partner link, I will set up your blog completely free of charge and you will also get a premium WordPress theme worth up to $249 thrown in!
Ready to get started? Read more here!
1. Profits > Popularity (Stop Focusing On Instagram!)
As some of you may know, I got my start to blogging on Instagram. Looking back, Instagram blogging is such as thinned down version of blogging that it’s almost funny how I used to refer myself as a blogger back then. The only thing that I was doing was creating content and doing hashtag research. That’s it.
What originally got me to Instagram was this article, which claimed that Instagrammers with over 100k followers can earn an annual salary of £100,000+.
Now that I’m more familiar with the industry, I know that’s not the norm. While there definitely are people making six figures from Instagram, it’s rarely about the numbers. It has more to do with your image and your connections, not even the engagement anymore.
Although I had 50,000+ followers on Instagram, I was barely making $600 / month from it. And what’s more, I was completely dependent on sponsorships, so I had no negotiating power when a sponsor did approach me.
I now make $3,1000 / mo on average with my blog, and sponsored content brings in roughly 20-25% of my income.
I got to where I am today because I stopped focusing on followers. I started building my blog the right way and creating a strategy that would actually bring in passive income. In 2017, my blog had a total of 37,266 in the entire year. Now, I get around 80,000-90,000 pageviews per month.
And because I focused on creating shoppable content, my income grew to what it is now.
2. Create Posts That People ACTUALLY Want To Read
This is the number one mistake that I see new bloggers doing. I was guilty of it myself too in my first year of blogging. No wonder that no one read my blog!
When writing blog posts, you can’t just write about whatever you want and hope that people come to your blog. You can’t treat your blog like a diary if you want to make money with it!
One super important lesson that I learned is that blogs don’t make money, businesses do. So, you need to treat your blog like a business.
You need to make sure that there is demand for your articles before you sit down and start writing them.
The number one way to do this is by doing keyword research. You can do keyword research through both Google Adwords as well as Pinterest. There’s a nifty free plugin called Keywords Everywhere, which shows you the exact monthly search volume for every keyword that you type into Google.
It’s my favorite way of validating blog post ideas, but Pinterest comes pretty close too! Kat Sullivan has a great video on Youtube which explains all about Pinterest keyword research, so if you’re interested in learning more, check it out here.
3. You Need To Have A Monetization Strategy. And A Vision.
This relates back to my first two points. When I first started blogging, my focus was on growing my followers so that I could make more money through sponsorships on Instagram. While this strategy does provide a full-time income for some bloggers, more often than not they earn way less than they let on.
Furthermore, the reason that I started blogging was because I wanted to work for myself and be my own boss.
Doing sponsorships is not the same as working for yourself. Every single sponsorship that you get is a client of yours. And clients have needs. I can’t even remember how many times I needed to re-shoot a campaign or change something about my post in order to make the brand happy.
What’s worse is that if you rely on sponsorships, you’re not in control of your finances.
I used to just sit around and wait for offers to come through my email. And during times that I had no campaigns to do, I didn’t know what else I should be doing. So I ended up wasting a lot of time.
Needless to say at this point I had no monetisation strategy for my blog, or any strategy for that matter. My only “strategy” was waiting for new sponsorships and pitching myself to brands.
Since then I’ve started to work with my end goal in mind.
My ultimate goal now is to make six figures blogging. It’s much easier to come up with an actionable plan if you know what you want to achieve.
I’m a big fan of Natalie Bacon‘s work and one thing that she preaches is writing down your goal and then brainstorming another 100 ideas that will help you to achieve whatever it is that you want to achieve.
So in my case, I wrote down small actionable steps like “create an e-book”, “create a freebie for the e-book”, “write a blog post about XYZ that will bring in affiliate revenue”, etc.
Notice how all of these are directly tied to making money. I don’t waste time writing about posts that don’t in some way bring me revenue. Simply getting pageviews is not enough, unless you plan to get a substantial amount of pageviews every month. Like 200,000+ pageviews / month.
After applying this strategy, I barely have enough time to do all the things that I want to do and I never run out ideas for my blog posts. I’ve created a content calendar for myself and I now have a strict publishing schedule, so that my audience knows when to expect blog posts from me.
4. Pinterest & Tailwind Rock For Traffic
Note: These figures are based on my own results. Have a look at the typical results across all Tailwind members here!
When I first started blogging, I blindly believed the phrase “Build it and they’ll come”. Yeah right, as if people were just magically going to show up on my blog without me doing any marketing.
Throughout 2017 I used Instagram and Facebook groups as my main marketing channels and even though they can be decent sources for some, usually they’re not the best. Like I mentioned, in 2017 I only got 37,266 pageviews in the entire year. Now, I get more than double that every month.
The issue with social media is that the posts that you publish only live for a couple of days, if not hours. After that, you need to re-post them to gain any more traffic.
The right sources of traffic to focus are Pinterest and Google.
But here’s the thing.
Google traffic is really slow. If you’re a new blogger, you can’t just whack out some content and expect it to rank on Google. After all, your running against millions of other websites.
Pinterest on the other hand works well for both new bloggers and established bloggers. Pinterest and Tailwind Tribes in particular are the reason why I now get 80,000-90,000 pageviews per month on my blog.
If you’re a new blogger, stop focusing on Facebook and Instagram. Start focusing on Pinterest!
If you’re feeling a little lost with Pinterest, I’ve created an awesome jam-packed resource that teaches you exactly how to get the results that you want and deserve with Pinterest. It focuses heavily on Tailwind Tribes which is what drives 50% of my traffic, but I also share all of my other Pinterest secrets that helped me to get to where I am.
Also, if you haven’t tried Tailwind or Tailwind Tribes yet, you can get a free 30 day plan here. Tailwind is a Pinterest scheduling tool which allows you to automate your Pinterest marketing in just a few hours per month. It let’s you focus your energy back on creating new content, instead of marketing it.
Needless to say, Tailwind is my favorite blogging tool ever.
5. I Can’t Work From Home
I know that a lot of bloggers want to start blogging so that they can stay at home with their families. I tried working from home/cafes for the first 1,5 of my blogging career, but ultimately it was making me miserable.
Not only did I not have a routine, I also felt like a sloth. I wasn’t meeting new people, so I didn’t feel like there was any point in me getting dressed up and looking nice. Slowly, I was starting to become depressed and isolated. This also had a major impact on my productivity.
I’ve now hired an office in the City of London (London’s version of Wall Street) and I couldn’t be happier with my choice. Pretty much everyone who I’m friends with work nearby, so it’s easy for me to go out for lunch and socialize during a work day.
Our office also offers free yoga, free breakfast, free events, free coffee and free booze among other things – It’s pretty great. I know that not everyone can afford an office straight away, but if you’re the type of person who seriously struggles to get anything done at home, I highly recommend this.
6. You Need To Build An Email List From Day 1
If you follow any successful blogger, you’ll know that the phrase that gets thrown around a lot is “The money is in the list”, the list referring to an email list.
I ignored this advice for so long because I didn’t have a product to sell, I was overwhelmed by learning a new platform and because I didn’t want to pay for an email provider.
Now that I’ve had an email list for roughly a month and a half, I can already see the value in it. So far, even though my email list only has 100 people on it, it’s already paid for itself – how awesome is that!
I use ConvertKit which is fantastic for bloggers because it has so many automation sequences which makes managing your list super easy. You can also create lots of different sequences for different products, freebies, or even the blog categories that you have.
I was a little bit skeptical about signing up for a paid provider, but I’m so glad that I did. I’ve tried MailChimp before, but it doesn’t compare to ConvertKit because of the superior automation features that you get. I also knew that in the long run, I wanted to use ConvertKit, so I thought it would be better to get used to the platform early on.
Like I mentioned, even with a list size of merely 100 people, I’ve already generated $86 directly from my list in little over a month, which more than cover the $29.95 per month price!
If you want to try out ConvertKit, they offer a free 14 day trial with no commitment. I’m sure you’ll love it as much as I do!
7. Done Is Better Than Perfect
Oh my, this is a big one. I used to be such a perfectionist about everything that I put out. And to some extent, I still pride myself with that.
But here’s the thing.
It’s better to put out B- work than not put out anything. And the more willing you are to put out B- work, the more content you’ll put out, period.
It can take one person an entire year to set up a blog, create a course, or do anything for that matter.
But at the end of the day, they’ve only created that one piece of content.
The thing with blogging is that not everything that you do is going to be a success. The Pareto principle is true when it comes to blogging too: about 20% of your actions result in 80% of your success and income. So, when you publish blog posts, e-books or courses, there’s never a guarantee of them working out in your favor.
Some of them will fail, and that’s okay. It’s to be expected.
That’s why you need to put out as much content as possible, see what works and then go back and make them better.
Before You Go
These are some of the blogging lessons that I learned in my 2 years of blogging, but they certainly aren’t the only ones. One other major thing that I want to point out is that you need to keep learning and developing your skills as a blogger.
I listen to blogging and business podcasts every day and religiously take blogging courses when I need to dive deeper into certain subjects. If you want to see what my top recommended free and paid blogging tools and resources are, head over to my recommendations page.
Also, remember that blogging is a trial and error industry. You’re going to fail, and that’s okay. Just make sure to keep going, learn from your mistakes, and fail quicker, if possible.
Also, if you haven’t started a blog yet, sign up for my FREE 5-Day blog launch challenge where I teach you how to start, grow, and monetize a profitable blog!
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