The Two Best Pieces of Advice I Can Give New Bloggers
Blogging is one of those things that we like to make a lot more difficult than it needs to be.
A couple of reasons. The main one being that blogging is new and changes all the time.
There are always new ways to get eyeballs on our writing and money in our pockets, and we want to exploit them all. Quickly.
Which leads me on to reason #2: we’re all impatient as hell.
So, what are these two pieces of advice from a lazy, impatient blogger that took nearly a whole decade to make any headway at all?
1 — Keep it simple
So, what should you keep simple?
Especially for the first few months, when you don’t have any traffic.
But more specifically:
All you need is a simple logo (make one yourself in Canva) that you can use as a header image, and a fast theme.
Google can’t see your website. All it can see is the words that you've written and how fast your site loads.
I know that it’s tempting to waste time tweaking design but it won’t increase your traffic. As long as your site has a clear, clean design, then leave it alone, and get on with writing articles.
- Methods of promotion
And by simple, I mean none.
Your main aim should be to get most of your traffic from Google, because you’re not relying on social media algorithms.
Google aims to match queries with the best information. Social media aims to get creators to stay on the site for longer. The longer you spend interacting on Pinterest, the more exposure you’ll get, regardless of the quality of your content.
Once you have SEO cracked, then you can move onto Pinterest and the other social media platforms. They’re not bad, but they are fickle.
All of those promotional tools take a lot of trial and error that you don’t have time for. If it were easy, there wouldn’t be a booming market in social media courses.
Get 100 articles written before starting.
***I do like to make a pin for each article as I go along, just because it’s one less thing to do later. I create a very basic Pinterest profile, but past sharing each article to one board, and using Pinterest normally, I leave it alone.***
The beauty of building traffic before social media platforms (and email lists) is that they begin to grow organically once you’ve got some organic traffic.
You won’t need to convince people to follow you, they’ll want to.
If you put your effort into your content, everything else falls into place a hell of a lot easier.
- Writing style
There’s a lot of advice out there that’s along the lines of ‘make sure your blog is unique’ and ‘set yourself apart from the crowd’ and whilst it’s not untrue, it’s not exactly helpful advice.
I wouldn't waste too much time wondering about how you’re going to do that, because you run the risk of turning your website into a 1998 Powerpoint presentation.
We don’t want animated logos or text spinning in from every which way.
Keep. It. Simple.
Instead, concentrate on making your content incredibly useful. Add stats, infographics, tables, FAQ sections, interviews etc.
Join a niche-specific Facebook group, conduct a survey, and boom, you have unique stats.
The second piece of advice is the most important, and it’s also something that you will have heard before. But it’s always at the end of the list when it’s extremely important.
2 — Be patient
It’s lack of patience that ends up corrupting the whole ‘keeping it simple’ thing.
Because after 2 months, 30 articles, and no traffic, we get antsy. It’s natural.
Maybe it’s our design that’s the issue? Perhaps I should start a Facebook page? Or chuck some money in Tailwind’s direction?
And this isn’t an issue in itself, but it can wreak havoc on our commitment. Because it takes a lot of effort, and you rarely get that much out of it.Which leads to self-doubt.
We begin to wonder what’s wrong with our site. Other blogs get thousands of views in the first month what’s wrong with mine?
It makes us feel like nothing works because we tried so many methods to get traffic.
Even if we know, deep down, that we need to be patient, the self-doubt has already planted a seed of worry.
What if, after a year, there’s still no traffic? Might as well give up now.
If we let that seed grow, we end up giving up. It’s too hard. I picked the wrong niche. I’m not good enough.
You need to give your website AT LEAST eight months.
At three months, my website had 5 views, probably all from bots.
At seven months old, my website had 1,264 page views.
At nine months, my website had 32,706 page views.
And I did NOTHING (I wrote a few articles, but none have ranked yet) between months seven and nine because I was concentrating on getting 30 articles each on two other sites I have.
I know it’s hard. I’ve abandoned about six other sites, that, in hindsight, were fine.
If you’ve written a lot of articles and you’re feeling done with the project, then leave it alone. Don’t try to drum up traffic from social media.
Not because it won’t work, but because it’s difficult and demotivating. Give your site a rest.
By the way, I’m not saying you’ll definitely get 32K views a year if you leave 30 articles alone for eight months. I had 100 articles written, and Coronavirus may well have had a lot to do with my increase in views.
But the general pattern of growth isn’t unusual (it’s called the hockey stick in SEO circles, and it’s the way most niche websites grow).
Websites spend MONTHS in the Google sandbox, whilst Google tries to determine where best you fit.
Bonus tip #3
It took me a long time to realise that I didn’t need to leverage social media to get traffic.
My biggest issues were definitely spreading myself too thin trying to find that secret formula to increase my traffic, and my tendency to give up when I don’t get immediate success.
But keyword research really changed the game for me.
I don’t use any paid tools, and I definitely missed the mark on many of my articles, but you only need to pick a few good keywords to build traffic.
I know advice like ‘keep it simple’ and ‘be patient’ sound incredibly basic and a bit twee, but I SWEAR these are the keys to not burning yourself out.
They are so so important.
If you are feeling a little bit burnt out, then feel free to take a couple of weeks off. Google doesn’t care how regularly you produce articles.
Step away from your website completely, rather than thinking ‘right, SEO doesn’t work, let’s try Twitter’, only to find that Twitter also isn’t going to send 1000 people a day to your article.
Think about it like this:
Would you rather spend 30+ hours a week driving traffic to your blog for the foreseeable future, or spend the first year building up an awesome library of work that no one reads for months but then drives traffic BY ITSELF?
I had a full-time job. I didn't want to spend 30 hours a week working for free. I had about ten hours to spare.
The best way I found to maximise my time was to stick to content creation. Everything else can wait.
Ten articles a month. Sometimes more, sometimes less, but that was the general plan. No promotion, no social media, no email list building. No expense outside of hosting and a domain name.
Is it easy? No. It was frustrating and demotivating. Setting tangible goals like ‘find 30 keywords’ and ‘write 10 articles’ helped a lot. Goals such as ‘get 100 pageviews’ are pointless and demoralising.
Does it work? Yup. I got more page views yesterday than any of my other sites over the past few years got combined.