**Edit: Hello, friends! Looking back on this post a year later, I realized now that I really mis-titled it. Really it should be titled “Why My Website Sucked in 2016.” Blogging isn’t my business, it’s a marketing tool that I use for my business and to promote my website. So while all of the things I was doing wrong are totally true, I think the title is slightly misleading. So when you’re going through this post, keep in mind that these are changes I implemented to improve my website/business as a whole. Happy reading!
Ah, the thought of quitting your day job and making money blogging about things that you love – this dream is enough to get any entrepreneur thinking…am I right?
My thoughts exactly.
I started my blog back in April 2016, and I was chomping at the bit to write content and get it launched. The day my blog went live, it received over 600 views – Hell YES! I thought, this is going to be great. Yeah, about that, no.
How many blog posts have we read about people who made billions of dollars (exaggeration, but you get the point) using things like affiliate links or Google Ads? Effortless, passive income. That’s what I’m talking about! I, too, jumped on the affiliate links/Google Ads pain train. I found products that I actually use and like, wrote awesome blog posts and seamlessly integrated the affiliate links. Then I signed up for Google Ads, designed an ad space that fit my site, and sat back waiting for the fireworks. My first income report total, you ask? A WHOPPING $4.91. That should be enough to live off of, right? Maybe my landlord will accept a hug as rent payment instead of, you know, actual money.
*Some of the suggestions on this page may contain affiliate links, which means I may receive a small commission (at no extra cost to you) if you make a purchase. I only promote things that I use (and LOVE)!*
I love how really successful bloggers share elaborate, impressive income reports along with this uplifting message – “…but don’t compare yourself to me…everyone starts somewhere…” I’ll say it – We’re all comparing ourselves to you. Why would you NOT compare yourself to a person who is extremely successful at the exact thing that you’re trying to be extremely successful at?! We ALL look over the fence from time to time. And there’s nothing wrong with that! So if you just started blogging and are struggling to make a decent income, don’t be ashamed of the fact that you’re dying to see how other people are doing. But maybe do yourself a favor and don’t compare your site to the biggest players in the game, just yet. Start by comparing yourself to someone who sucked at one point and isn’t ashamed to say it…like, for instance, your friend Ed.
Instead of crying about the fact that my newfound blog income couldn’t even buy me a Happy Meal (okay, maybe I cried for a few minutes [days]) I decided to take a long, hard look at what the hell I was doing wrong. And now I’m going to share my findings with you in hopes that you won’t waste any time turning your blog into exactly what you want it to be by making the same mistakes that I did.
The piece of the puzzle that I failed to place was that unless my content and site were both on point, my traffic was not going to be amazing. And if my traffic wasn’t amazing, I wasn’t going to get anywhere from Google Ads and affiliate links. In the beginning, my blog traffic was EXTREMELY inconsistent. One day would be great, the next I would have zero views – not exaggerating…literally ZERO views! That meant that not even my own mother consistently gave a shit about what I was posting…and THAT, my friends, is depressing. So I dug in…
Making Money Blogging: What the Hell was I doing wrong?!
There are actually probably a lot more things that I was doing wrong…but these are the heavy hitters.
1. My blog had little to no direction. I was blogging about random things that I like doing. Which is fine, if you’re blogging as a hobby. But if you’re trying to make money blogging, you need to have a focus, and stick to it.
- DEFINE YOUR NICHE. Who is your blog going to be helpful to?
- DECIDE ON YOUR TOPIC(S): What does this person want to read about? How will it help him or her?
I was blogging about food, DIY projects, products I liked, random things that I thought were funny and a little bit of business related content every now and then. Basically, it was a hot mess. And as a result, my traffic, email list and income were also a hot mess.
I had a really hard time narrowing down my niche, because all of those things are things that I enjoy doing and writing about. But I’ve found new ways to incorporate some of those things into my current posts and lessons, so all isn’t lost!
2. I was only blogging when I had time to. Like I said before, if you’re blogging as a hobby, post whenever the hell you want to. But just like a business has business hours that are consistent, you need to post consistently so that readers know when they can expect new content. Duh, Eden! Duh!
3. My site layout sucked. When you’re first setting up your site and you get to pick a theme, it is a real-life kid in a candy store situation. There were SO many themes and they were all fabulous. Naturally, I chose one that was pretty, and didn’t pay much attention to the functionality and how I would be using it. The result? My site was hard to navigate, and my bounce rate was off the charts.
**This is when I recommend comparing yourself to others** Check out some sites that you regularly visit. What is their site layout like? Is it easy to navigate? Or does it remind you of the mall on Black Friday? Get an idea of what works, and think about that when designing your site!
Generally speaking, themes aren’t cheap. So do your research and really think about what you’re looking for in a theme before purchasing one.
Personally, I can’t say enough about Bluechic themes for WordPress. I wanted a theme that was feminine, but professional (which is exactly what I typed into Google) and I have been SO incredibly happy with the theme I purchased from them. I don’t consider myself to be a particularly tech-savvy person, but I’ve been able to easily navigate this theme using their amazing setup tutorials!
To view all of Bluechic’s awesome lady boss themes, visit their site here! They have tons of options that fit any type of business or blog…so make sure you have some time to set aside to looking through them all, it’s addicting! 🙂
4. I avoided coaching/courses. I saved the biggest screw up for last. I am a DIYer to the core, and I’m the queen of “I’ll do it myself.” So naturally when I started my blog, I was hell bent on figuring it all out myself and I DEFINITELY wasn’t going to spend any money for somebody to teach me the ropes. THIS WAS STUPID. I can’t stress this enough.
One of my favorite bloggers/entrepreneurs, Melyssa Griffin, put it in extremely simple, DUH-worthy terms…it was something along the lines of “If you wanted to learn to a fly a plane, you would want an experienced pilot to teach you how…not some random person on the street…right?”
Ab-so-flipping-lutely. If you want to make money blogging, why not take advice from somebody that already makes money blogging?! I have since signed up for a course that Melyssa was offering and I cannot even express the value I have found in it! So much, in fact, that I’ve decided to create my very own course about business development and marketing for entrepreneurs! If you wish to receive updates about the course as well as other helpful freebies, you can sign up right down there!
Making Money Blogging – What I was Doing Wrong: Let’s Recap, shall we?
Who doesn’t love a good summary? I survived college by clinging to Cliff Notes – I get it. I’m here to hook you up.
- PICK A NICHE and STOP WRITING ABOUT ANYTHING & EVERYTHING!
- Be consistent with your blogging and when you post new content. Whether it’s once a week or once a month, put a schedule in place and stick to it!
- Thoroughly research site layouts before purchasing a theme. Do some creeping on your favorite blogs, see what works and more importantly, what doesn’t.
- INVEST IN TRAINING! Like I mentioned before, I most recently enrolled in Melyssa Griffin’s Blog to Biz Hive course and I can’t say enough about it! If you’re interested in learning more about Blog to Biz Hive, feel free to ask me OR get it straight from the source, here! If you’re interested in learning more about the course that I’m creating, sign up for updates in the form below! Another resource that I highly recommend is Ruth Soukup’s book How to Blog for Profit: Without Selling Your Soul. While I have come to LOVE ecourses, there is just something about a hard copy book that I just can’t get over! This book starts with the basics of blogging and explores different avenues of income. If you’re looking to monetize your blog, this is an awesome tool to have. Get yourself a copy here!
Alright, friends. I hope that sharing my blogging fails will help you to make smart decisions for your blog and fasttrack your growth! These simple things will help your site and content to rock. Which in turn will increase your traffic, and will ultimately grow your blog regardless of the method you’re using to monetize. Take action! Make some simple changes and get on the right path to making money blogging!