Following our series about how to make money blogging, we have reviewed how to start a website, choosing a name, domain and hosting, how to make money depending on the hours you are willing to put in (you can also check my July income for both sites). My failed attempts at making money online I failed at making money online, then succeeded, with freelancing and starting my own website. Now let’s talk about a big blogging mistake.
Happy Friday! Today I would like to talk to you about one of my biggest blogging mistakes: blogging in the dark. When I started my first website, Reach Financial Independence a year ago, I spent the first couple of months blogging daily… for no one.
I was hoping my awesome voice would get noted, but making no effort to bring people over! After blogging for a year, I have to admit that some of those first posts were not my finest as a writer. English is not my mother tongue, and writing consistently five times a week for the past year has helped me improve immensely (or so I hope!) in the writing department. In addition to that, I had been reading personal finance blogs for over five years, but am now reading even more blogs, with a new focus on syntax, ways to structure a post, an idea, and trying to learn from bloggers I admire.
Nevertheless, those posts had the energy of a super motivated beginner, they were fresh and lively, and it was a bit depressing to see no one seemed to notice them. How can you do things differently with your brand new website?
Commenting is one of the most important initial networking you can do with another blogger. Not only will you get noticed by the owner of the site, but your name will be there in the comments for other readers to see and check you out if you said something interesting. Many blogs have the Commentluv plugin enabled, that will link to your latest post below your comment. A catchy title, and chances are readers will click to see what your blog is about.
Leaving a comment like “great post” is not a good idea though. Prove you did read the post. Ask a question. Agree, disagree, make a point, and make it well. Make people want to know you.
Unless you comment on major sites, and your comment goes unnoticed among hundreds of others, the site owner will likely check you out as well. Not everyone will, but some will. Commenting is a time consuming activity, but one of the easiest ways to drive traffic to your site. Don’t expect hundreds of reader for this one comment you left a month ago. Engage daily on as many sites as possible, build a relationship, remember facts, don’t ask a single blogger how his kids are doing, go back to the about page if you are unsure.
It may look like you are helping the other blogger build his site, not yours, but trust me, eventually, you will get some traffic out of it, and one day, you will be visited by bloggers wanting to get noticed too!
I don’t know how many bloggers I “know”. With some, I email weekly, some I read and comment on their sites almost daily, some occasionally, and some I just know are out there because I see their names on sites I visit often, and I see them around. You can be sure I have checked them out, read a bit of their stuff too, and commented a few times on their site, we just didn’t hit it off. But I noticed them and they did me, thanks to commenting. You will never please everyone, but at least you will get a presence.
Where to start? On the blog that made you decide to start blogging, the one you like best and have something to say about, the one who commented on a blog you like, etc.
Guest posting is another great way to get exposure for your blog, by publishing a post on a similar or more popular blog. Before you ask a blogger to publish your stuff, you will need to get acquainted with that blogger. So go back to step one and start commenting and interacting with them on their blog.
Bloggers get flocked with guest posting requests from strangers every single day, and most of them will get ignored unless you can prove you are a genuine blogger with a non commercial website. Once you get to know the blogger, check out their guest posting guidelines, they should be on their homepage, or email them to ask if they accept guest posts and what are their conditions. Some will accept any topic, others not. They will have a maximum number of links back to your site you can add to the post, a length specification, etc. Do not add your affiliate links or links that are not natural to the post and may lead to think you got compensated to place.
Make sure you follow the posting rules or ask any questions if you are unsure. Good guest posting etiquette also requires that on the day your guest post is published, you visit the site to reply to comments, and promote as much as possible on your own site and social platforms.
Check my post on rich snippets if you want to learn how to get authorship for your guest post and have your picture show in search engine results as the author of the post.
This strategy is pretty straightforward as well, and like commenting, it is by helping others that you will help yourself. If you link back to an interesting post, the blogger will get a pingback warning him you did, and may check your site to see what you said about his post, or simply say thank you for the mention. They can visit your about page (so make sure you make it look attractive!) or some of your other posts too. A few bloggers have an eye for an eye linking policy, and will link back to one of your posts the next week, or add at the bottom of the post you linked to that you featured it on your site. Do not start linking in hopes to get links back, we are just looking for exposure at the moment, although this can help as part of a link building strategy.
You can either link to a related post on one of your general posts, if another blogger has talked about it recently, or if you completely disagree with his views, you may choose to write a post as an answer to him and link back to the original post. You can also hold a weekly roundup with a number of your favorite reads of the week. Again, most small and middle sized bloggers will check out your site, but do not expect CNN to come over and say thank you.
You can opt for a list of links, or add a couple of sentences about what the post is about and why you liked it.
Participate in carnivals
Blogging carnivals are like weekly roundups, a selection of good reads in your niche, except that they are not picked by the blogger, you can submit your posts for review, and if they fit the theme, they will be published.
On my other site, Reach Financial Independence, I host a weekly Carnival of Financial Independence, with posts related to that topic. You can submit your post every week and I will feature it on Saturday. You can find carnivals from your niche on Blog Carnival HQ, Blogger Carnivals, etc.
Engage and promote on social media
To get your blog noticed, having a social presence is very important. Create a Twitter account, a FB page, a Google Plus profile or a Pinterest account, and start adding related blogs to your circles. Say hi to other bloggers, promote their posts you liked from them, ask them questions, talk about life and anything else, creating a dialogue with your readership and other bloggers. They will notice you and come over to visit your blog.
Things come and go fast on social media, and most of your Twitter posting may go unnoticed at first. But a post can go viral just as quickly, so make sure you promote all your content to your followers as well. Make a mix of your posts and other interesting reads so your readership considers you as a serious source of information, not just someone who wants his content promoted.
Join a network
There are lots of blogging networks out there for every niche, mommy blogs, personal finance blogs, you name it. Again, it is by helping others that you will help yourself. Within the network, members will be committed to help each other out. With a question about blogging or an agreement to tweet and comment on each other’s content as much as possible. Try to give at least as much as you take from those networks. If you know about blog design, give advice on that, you will receive advice on SEO or links back from grateful people you helped. Can’t find a network related to your niche? If you think other bloggers could benefit from being part of one, you may try to create your own.
All those activities are time consuming, on top of writing and promoting your own content. But they are vital to the growth of your blog. Otherwise, you may wonder for months how come no one is visiting your site.
Both my sites Reach Financial Independence and Make Money Your Way were launched in early July (2012 and 2013) and so I will document MMYW’s progress compared to RFI last year, so you can see that doing all of the above got me much further in a month than I did in 3 months with RFI. Just as an example it took me 4 months to break 200K on Alexa with RFI. After 6 weeks, MMYW stands at 118K :).
Do you have anything to add to the list? How long did it take you to get out of your blogging cave?