Recently I’ve been getting more and more emails from readers who are curious how I grew my blog fairly quickly. I decided to compile my answers to their questions in this post, along with some personal thoughts about blogging. It’s been awhile since I’ve shared blogging tips or stories, so I’m excited to get the ball rolling on this topic once again! 🙂
First, let me give you a little background information here. I started this blog in mid-February of 2013 — which means it’s almost nine months old! INSANITY! I could’ve had a kid by now! (Well, I guess I sort of do). Have I had blogs before? Yes! I’ve had a variety of blogs since I was in high school. But it wasn’t until this year that I found out blogging was a “thing.” Yes, a thing. I used to think that “having a blog” meant that you had a Xanga where you talked about your problems. I really didn’t know that there was such a humongous network of bloggers out there or that you could earn money from blogging! Discovering this mystical wonderland has been eye-opening, and to put it eloquently — friggin’ awesome.
Since starting this blog in February, my traffic has almost doubled every month. Now, I have over 2,500+ subscribers and receive 100,000+ monthly pageviews. My blog also pays my rent and has steadily brought in more income each month. So how did I do it? And how can you do it, too? Let’s get down to business!
1. Everything I’m about to tell you is subjective.
These are tips, meaning they come from my personal experiences with blogging over the past nine months. They are not the end-all gospel for blogging, though I suspect (and hope) you already knew that. Take what makes sense for you and chuck the rest.
2. I think this one is big: I NEVER hesitated to invest in my blog.
As soon as I decided to start my blog, I went to town researching everything I would need, and I didn’t skimp on anything that seemed important, like a design framework, hosting for WordPress.org (I absolutely love Bluehost!), and a domain name. I continue to invest in my blog any time it seems appropriate. It was months before I saw a penny in return and I think people sometimes get hung up on this fact when it comes to blogging.
But seriously, what other hobbies of yours pay for themselves? My hobbies throughout my life have included things like tennis, photography, and writing, but I haven’t seen a dime from doing any of those things, yet I still did them anyways. If you want to grow your blog, my #1 tip is to convince yourself that your blog is already worthy of all the awesome crap you wish you could buy for it. Create the most professional, spitting-image-of-you, virtual hang out spot you can, and don’t be nervous about spending a few dollars to make it something you’re totally proud of (and no, I’m not rich…last year I only made $34k from teaching).
I can’t say you’ll earn it all back for certain, but I can say that if you treat something like it’s “not worth it yet,” then you’re stunting your own growth.
3. Blogging should be your part-time job. (But feel like a full time job).
I work on my blog constantly, and did so even when I had 80 followers and zero profit. I think one of the hardest truths about growing your blog is that it takes a LOT of time and energy. My blog grew relatively quickly, but for the amount of work I put into it over those nine months, I doubt anyone would say I just “got lucky.”
Think of it this way — if you wanted to be an all-star tennis player, you wouldn’t spend all of your time reading articles about how to play tennis and you wouldn’t sit around wondering how other people are better at playing tennis than you are. You’d get your butt to a court and practice your ass off. The same can be said for most goals in life.
4. Your actual blog is only one part of the equation.
You want to grow your blog? Ahh so you must also want to keep up with Twitter/Facebook/Instagram, answer emails, promote your sponsors, write guest posts, plan your own editorial calendar, create newsletters, etc. Aside from making your blog awesome for your readers, you need to hustle all over the web. You are your blog, and over time people will associate you both as one and the same.
5. Do you love the components of blogging?
I think this is an important question. To me, the biggest components of a blog (aside from networking), are writing, photography, and design. Each of these components interact together to formulate the brand and overall entity that you are selling to the world. Luckily for me, writing, photography, and graphic design have been my main squeezes since I was a practically a fetus — I love them!
In high school, I was the editor-in-chief of our yearbook — an activity that allowed me to execute each of those hobbies in one place. One of my friends from high school, Catherine, was on yearbook staff with me, too. Now, she runs a popular blog called Rabbit Food for My Bunny Teeth. Doesn’t it just make sense that if you love what goes into it, you’ll happily put in the loads of time it requires?
6. Build a brand, not a blog.
In other words, your blog should have consistency. This is something I feel like I’ve improved on the most over the past couple months, and I have seen it do wonders for my blog. I recommend picking three fonts, a color palette, and any shapes or graphics you want to use consistently.
Need some help? I even created a free, downloadable “Style Guide” so that you can nail down the personality of your blog (and stick to it!).
7. Do sponsorships well.
I started offering sponsorships only two months after starting my blog. I don’t recommend that, because I think you need to have a grasp on blogging (and ya know, readers) before you’re ready to promote other blogs. BUT once you’ve started noticing your traffic grow and your readership increase a little, I definitely recommend having sponsorships and making them totally rock.
Most of my sponsors are readers who like my blog and want to support it. They’re not just robots throwing their money at me. There’s a human connection involved, which is one of the reasons I love having sponsors and enjoy getting to interact with and promote them. I’ve talked in previous posts about the fact that networking is important to blogging, and networking with your sponsors is an excellent place to begin building relationships with other bloggers.
8. Think big.
Don’t limit what you think you can do with your blog based only on how many followers you have. Nobody is stopping you from implementing your creative ideas just because you “only” have 100 followers. I recommend trying to think in bigger terms and constantly expanding on what you are doing with your blog. This might be something as small as starting a series or a linkup (by the way, my Weekly Wishes linkup was one of my first “think big” type of projects) or it might be bigger, like creating an e-course or hosting a blogger meetup.
I’m also absolutely certain that without my blog, I would not have been able to quit my day job and pursue graphic design (I started offering graphic design services just a few months ago, through my blog). There are few limits to what you can do, and once you’ve networked a bit, SO MUCH becomes possible! Have fun with it and go for your crazy ideas! I bet there are people out there who will absolutely love them.
9. Lastly, why do you want to grow your blog?
Or more importantly, why do you blog? Don’t lose sight of why you started your little corner of this mystical wonderland to begin with. Like I said above, growing your blog takes a shit ton of work. You’ve really got to love your blog if you want to expand it, because you’re going to be spending endless amounts of time thinking about it, brainstorming for it, and doing things related to it. As your blog grows, so does the work related to it. Keep your purpose in mind and decide for yourself if growing your blog will bring you endless joy or unwanted stress. Because if putting all that time into your blog doesn’t make you happy or fulfilled, then really, what’s the point?
Best of luck to anyone out there who wants to grow their blog! If you want one-on-one advice, I also offer blog coaching strategy sessions. I’d love to help!
If you have any questions, I’m happy to answer them in the comments! I’d also love to know — what are YOUR tips for growing your blog? I’d love to hear your perspective! Have a super day!! 🙂