At the end of this month, I will celebrate a small milestone… Actually, it’s kind of a big milestone in the blogging world. At the end of June, I will have officially been blogging for six months.
I’ve learned a lot in that short amount of time. But first, let me explain why this six month milestone is a big deal. As of 2016, there were more than 160 MILLION blogs on the web. However, the vast majority of those haven’t been updated in the last 120 days. Why? Because most blogs fail. In fact, according to a New York Times article, about 95% of blogs fail. That means of the 160 million bloggers out there, 152 million of them eventually throw in the towel. That leaves only 8 million blogs that remain active.While 8 million is still a really big number, I’m happy to be in the club of active bloggers. Especially considering most blogs fail within the first 90 days. Yep, according to a recent study, most newbie bloggers give up in the first three months. I’ve almost doubled that amount of time! Thus, why I am calling this 6 month anniversary a major milestone!
Making it this far hasn’t been easy though. I’ve learned a lot in this first six months, and I’m still learning a lot with every passing month.
If you build it, they will NOT come.
Your blog is not a field of dreams. Just because you build it, readers will not come. Everyone who starts a blog at some point thinks that their insight, opinions and personal stories are so valuable, funny or clever that people will most certainly want to read them. Most of those people naively thought they could just slap some words onto a little corner of the internet and hundreds, if not thousands, of people would suddenly stumble upon their blog through a Google search.
If this was actually the case, there would not be 152 million failed, inactive blogs crowding the internet right now.
Building an audience takes WORK.
Many bloggers spend more time promoting their blog than they do actually blogging. In order to gain readers and increase your stats, you have to do more than just write a couple of blog posts each week. You have to promote your blog on social media and other online platforms. Social media is king when it comes to blogging.
Over the last six months, I have shamelessly promoted my blog on my Facebook page to the point many of my friends are probably annoyed by now. My Twitter account is now exclusively dedicated to my blog as is my Pinterest account. I’ve also created an Instagram account specifically for this blog, and a Bloglovin’ account. In order to build a following that translates to hits on my blog, I have to maintain each of these social media accounts daily. As if all of that isn’t enough, I’ve considered creating a Facebook page specifically for my blog, but haven’t because, well, quite frankly all of this is already a lot of work. But I’m sure I’ll cave in and create one soon. My husband tells me I need to, especially now that Facebook Live is becoming more popular.
Community is key in the blogosphere.
Besides posting and maintaining social media accounts and blogging, I spent time daily reading and interacting with other blogs. Why? Because community is so important when it comes to blogging. Before joining the blogosphere, I had no idea how important it would be to build relationships with other bloggers, but it is a must if you want your blog to succeed. Relationships are important in life. Relationships are important in business. And relationships are important in blogging. Over the last six months, I have formed “friendships” with other bloggers online that I have never actually met in person. They’ve been supportive and encouraging every step of the way, and I find that reading their blogs has made me a better blogger. Beyond building a support system, when you read and engage with other bloggers and comment on their posts, you are not only helping out a fellow blogger who will appreciate your readership, you are helping your blog out, as well. Each time you comment on a blog, it creates a backlink, which is basically a link back to your website. Backlinks help establish your blog and ultimately bring up your Alexa ranking.
Alexa? Who is she? I don’t even know her, why should I care how she ranks me? Alexa is basically a company that ranks websites worldwide based on the number of estimated views. A good Alexa ranking can ultimately help you monetize your blog through sponsorships, advertising or partnerships with businesses in your niche. The company ranks somewhere around the top 30 million websites worldwide. Obviously Google is ranked number one… My website sits around the 5 million mark (as of June 2016.) Not as good as I would like it to be, but it’s getting better every day. I had never heard of Alexa until a couple of months ago, but since April I have actively worked on improving my stats and rank because ultimately, I would like to monetize my blog someday. Which brings me to my next point.
Blogging is not an easy way to make money.
It will take awhile before your blog makes even a few bucks. Sure, we have all heard those success stories of people who made a couple thousand dollars their first month, and were making a six figure income by the end of their first year. But that is the exception, not the rule. One survey conducted a couple of years ago found that only 13% of blogs make more than $1,000 a month. The other 87% are barely scraping by with nearly 40% making between zero and $10 a month. Not necessarily what I would consider a livable income. This is part of the reason so many bloggers probably quit. It’s a lot of work without a steady return on investment. Luckily, I didn’t start blogging to make money, so the fact that my blog isn’t paying for me to travel the world yet doesn’t discourage me. But now that I’ve invested half a year of my life creating this little journal of our family’s travels (and a few other random thoughts) I think it is possible that I can eventually monetize my blog in some form or fashion. What that will look like, I’m not sure. I haven’t really tried yet. That might be something I strive for in the next six months. But for now, I’m still working on readership, ranking, and providing quality content.
Consistency, consistency, consistency
I could get into a bunch of technical stuff about search engine optimization and keywords, but I am not that technical of a person, so I’ll keep it brief and easy to understand. Google and other search engines will like you more if you post consistently and if your posts have a consistent theme. You can’t post once the first week, skip a week, post three times the next week, skip two more weeks then post five times the following week and expect Google to take you seriously. Also, your blog needs to have a consistent theme before search engines rank you high among your niche. If you are inconsistent it can hurt your rank. For example, if your blog focuses on travel and you decide to randomly post your grandma’s recipe for homemade chicken noodle soup, it’s confusing and inconsistent. Pull that little stunt too many times and search engines won’t let you sit with them at lunch… no matter how good your grandma’s soup is.
You have to be passionate about your blog’s subject.
For all of the reasons listed above, you have to be passionate about your subject or you will burnout and quit blogging all together – just like the 152 million bloggers who are inactive on the web. Blogging can be very discouraging. You might pour your heart and soul into a blog entry that hardly anybody reads. You might start to feel embarrassed or uneasy about constantly self-promoting your blog on social media. Or you might think about the ungodly number of hours you’ve spent working on something that has yet to make a single cent, and it’s easy to see why people quit. But if you are passionate about the subject matter of your blog, as I am about family travel, then those discouraging moments will only be small setbacks, and you will have the drive to continue blogging. So here’s to another 6 months… to new goals, new friendships with other bloggers, new readers (hopefully) and a lot more of my ramblings about my daughter’s adventures around the globe!