Are you wondering how to make this year your best one yet? Have you got lots of plans and hopes for your blog this year but are a little afraid of putting them into action in case they don’t work out?
Oooh, I know exactly how you feel. I know because I felt the same the year before last. I had so many ideas and plans and knew just what I wanted to achieve, but do you know what happened in the end? I failed.
Yep, I pretty much failed at everything that I had set out to do. My plans came to nought. I made nowhere near my financial target. I didn’t get anywhere near the number of subscribers I thought I would get. I got nowhere near the number of visits to my blog that I thought I would get. I made so few sales that year that I might as well have not bothered even trying.
I was embarrassed, I felt miserable and disillusioned, but to be honest, I was mostly annoyed with myself. Here’s why…
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After I stopped crying into my Christmas cocoa, I took a long hard look at what I had actually done that year. What I found actually shocked me so much, that the very next day I made plans for the following year. Guess what happened by the end of that year? I succeeded!
I got those thousands of readers to my blog posts. I built a list of subscribers who regularly read my posts. I didn’t quite hit my financial target that year but I wasn’t far off it.
So, what did I find when I looked at my year that made all the difference to the next year?
The first thing I noticed is that I had gone along all year with no real strategy. I kind of knew what I wanted to achieve, but I had no idea how I was going to achieve it. Feel familiar?
When I looked at how I had promoted my blog that year I could see that it had been inconsistent, erratic and had had no real purpose. I had promoted my blog without knowing exactly what each post was trying to achieve.
I also looked at where I had promoted my blog. This too provided some stark revelations. I hadn’t been monitoring my results and so the return on my investment (in terms of time spent promoting) was surprising.
For example, I found that all the time I spent promoting my blog on Facebook had pretty much been a complete waste of time. Once I did look at my analytics, I found that I was getting very few click throughs to my blog and when people did click the bounce rate was huge. Not good!
I found similar results for other social media sites too. I had been spending a lot of time and effort in posting on them but getting nothing of value back in return. In fact, some of these platforms were actually hurting my blog as the bounce rate and time on site were both adversely affected by visitors from these platforms.
Once I realised this, I was able to find a strategy that did give me a return on my investment and this made all the difference in the world to my blog. I finally had visitors that not only read my post, but would go and read another one and explore my site and subscribe to my blog too. Some of them even went on to become customers (and in some cases, even friends).
So, the very first thing you need to do to make this year your best one yet is to find a strategy that works for you and gives you a great return on your investment (whether that investment is money or time).
If you would like to know more about the strategy I found, click here to read all about it.
The next shocker was my posts were rubbish. Well, maybe not rubbish exactly, but they weren’t that good either.
They had no structure. I didn’t know what I was trying to achieve with each post. Did I want the reader to subscribe? Did I want them to click on an affiliate link? Did I want them to buy one of my products or services?
Because there was no planning behind them, they were vague and didn’t contain a call to action. Because I wasn’t convinced of what I wanted to achieve from them, I achieved nothing.
No one clicked, no one subscribed and no one purchased anything. No real surprise now that I think about it logically.
Not only did my posts lack purpose but they also lacked the necessary format to ensure Google found them and indexed them. I had no on page SEO (we’ll cover that shortly) and I had no way of guiding my reader to other posts or pages on my site to help with bounce rate and time on site metrics.
After looking for, finding and reading a few great blogs, I decided to learn how to write a great blog post for my own blog. Surely this would be the key to getting those much coveted readers.
I thought that knowing what to write about and then writing a coherent piece of content was all it took to get noticed online and thus bring visitors to my blog by the boatload. Boy was I wrong!
It turns out you need to know how to write a headline that will get clicked. How to find keywords that will help people find you on search engines, where to put those keywords in your post and how to use appropriate images to help with your Google ranking.
I also needed to learn about on page SEO. This is where you research keywords that your audience are searching for online and build them into your title and text. It also means using your tags appropriately to help Google to determine what your blog is about and therefore rank it.
It took months for me to learn all this. But I am now much better at writing blog posts, so much so in fact that I have been contracted by my local Chamber of Commerce to help teach their clients how to write great blog posts too. I now get paid to teach others to write great blog posts, how cool is that?
So the next thing you need to do is make sure that your blog posts are great. Make sure they speak to a specific audience about a specific thing, and make sure they include a call to action (something you want them to do after reading the post).
I actually wrote a blog post that will teach you in half an hour what it took me all those months to learn. You can read it right here.
Another thing I realised as I read through my blog and compared it to those other great ones I had found was that mine lacked focus. I wasn’t sure where I was going with it or what it’s purpose truly was.
I fixed this. I decided that there must be lots of other people in the same boat as me. People who wanted to start blogging but had no idea how to get going, or how to improve their blog once they had started.
I had now spent almost a year collecting information, taking courses, reading ebooks and other blogs and so had amassed a huge amount of useful and valuable information. I felt almost compelled to share this information with others so that their blogging journey could be a little less “bumpy”.
Once I had my focus it was really easy to create the posts for my blog. I knew that each of my posts was going to either inform, inspire, educate or entertain my reader. I was going to show them something of use or I was going to teach them how to do something or I was going to inspire them to take action.
It was this focus that gave my blog the clarity it needed and it was then that things started to happen for me. I found an effective way of reaching my audience and encouraging them to become subscribers. I could then follow up with these subscribers and build a relationship with them. Once I had a relationship with them it was much easier to sell my products and services to them.
I started getting subscribers. I started getting people staying on my site longer, reading more information, acquiring new skills and learning new strategies. My bounce rate dropped considerably and the time on site went up from a few seconds to 10’s of minutes.
Finally, my blog was becoming successful. But I still had a way to go…
For me to be able to sit and blog all day, I needed a way to monetise the blog so that I was earning money from my efforts. I had tried this previously if you remember, and failed miserably. I was a little scared of trying it again in case I had similar results.
But, thankfully, I now had a plan. I knew what I wanted to achieve with my blog. I knew who I was going to be helping and I knew what problems and pain points my audience had.
I knew about affiliate marketing, which is just about the easiest way on the planet of making a passive income. I had tried it before, without much luck, but hadn’t realised that I was doing it all wrong.
If you don’t know what affiliate marketing is, it is simply where you promote and sell products or services for other people (or organisations) and then you get paid a commission for each sale you make.
I knew I must be missing something because other people were making thousands of dollars a month from affiliate marketing. I decided to learn all I could about the subject before trying my hand at it again.
After searching around, I eventually found Michelle who has an amazing course called Making Sense of Affiliate Marketing.
She taught me how to choose appropriate affiliate products, how to promote them online, how to make sure Google doesn’t fall out with you and blacklist your site (eek!) and how to make sure you are operating your blog in a legal and ethical way.
If you would like to learn more about affiliate marketing and how you can sell things on your blog without having to have products or services of your own, just click here.
Something I learned a little more about while taking the above course was optimising my blog for search engines.
Search engine optimisation is a way to ensure Google and the other search engines can find your blog posts. Imagine millions of blogs and trillions of blog posts on the internet. How does Google decide to show a searcher your blog post as a result instead of one of the other millions of blog posts?
This is mostly done by a very complicated algorithm. But in very simplistic terms, you need to help the search engines to find your blog by giving them clues about what it contains.
For example, my blog, as you now know, helps other people to start blogging. Particularly those who are older or who are worried by technology. I make things simple and use simple terms and step by step instructions.
To help Google know that this is what I do, I use certain keywords throughout my blog. These keywords can be words or phrases and would include:
By using keywords related to what my blog is about both within my posts and throughout my blog website, I am giving clues to the search engines that will help them to determine whether my blog post is a good match for a search.
I know, SEO is a bit complicated and I don’t want to get into it too much here as it is a subject all on its own. I have, no surprise to you I’m sure, created a simple step by step guide to help you with SEO so that you get your site optimised simply and quickly. You can download it for free here.
So, that’s the next thing you need to do if you are to make this year your best one yet, optimise your site for search engines.
I think the most surprising thing of all for me was the realisation that I didn’t know what I didn’t know. After taking Michelle’s affiliate marketing course I realised that what I “thought” as right, was in fact wrong for the most part.
I “thought” I was writing great blog posts, but they were really bad. I “thought” I knew about affiliate marketing but I was missing some vital steps and tricks. I “thought” I was promoting my site in the right places but in actual fact those places were wrong and they were harming my blog more than helping it.
I realised I needed some help from someone who had actually achieved what I was trying to achieve. I started looking around for mentors.
After working with some great bloggers for the next 6 months I found that not only was my blog becoming more successful but other areas of my life were improving too. Why was this?
I found that the skills I was developing as a blogger and business person were the same skills that I could use in my day to day life. I learned how to plan, prioritise, set amazing goals, manage my time better, use language more effectively to persuade and encourage and lots more too.
Since applying these blogging skills to other areas of my life my business has blossomed, (I help small businesses to promote themselves online), I have lost weight, my confidence has grown in leaps and bounds and I am a much more effective communicator now than I ever was before.
The truth is that last year was my best year yet and this year is going to be even more amazing.
I am excited by all the things I have learned and all the simple tricks of the trade that make building a successful blog much easier. I wanted to give something back to this phenomenal blogging community that have helped me so much over the last year or so.
I wanted to help other “new or older” bloggers to get blogging too. I wanted to share some of the tricks and strategies that I have learned along away with them so that they can become successful much more quickly.
To that end, I have created a totally free email course called Blogging Basics for Beginners. It is a step by step, day by day course that talks you through everything we have covered in this post. From choosing your audience and finding your focus, to writing a great blog post, getting it optimised for search engines and making money from it.
It is a 7 day comprehensive course that you can work through at your own pace and in your own time. By the end of it, you will have put everything in place that you need to do to make this year your best one yet.
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