I’ve been blogging off and on (mostly off) for over a decade now. Things in the blogging world have changed, but my love for writing to pay-it-forward has not. Blogging has remained the only hobby that I can consistently work on for hours at a time. You know that “follow your passion” advice? Well, I don’t know what my passion is, but I suppose this comes close.
I’ve lost count of the number of times I’ve said I wanted to fix up my blog over the last decade. The reality of “fixing up a blog” is that it takes A LOT of time. Time I didn’t have when I was busy paying off student loans, or corporate grinding, or even traveling. Besides time, I always felt, and still do feel, a bit sheepish to say I want to try to make money with my blog. You know that unspoken judgement in people’s eyes? Yeah, it’s time to move beyond it.
The likelihood of surviving solely on blogging income is low, but it’s a goal that will give more structure to this consistent hobby, and propel it to the next level. I was still traveling for most of Q1, getting out of our comfort zone with Workaway experiences, so this update is a baseline from the 3 weeks of work I’ve put into it in March.
Blog as a Business
In 2019, I am learning that to run a blog is no longer writing your thoughts and experiences, upload a few photos and call it a day. These days, it’s all about SEOs, affiliate links, online courses, and an array of jargons. Being a good writer, in fact, counts for only a fraction of what makes a blog successful. I’ve read numerous times that a successful blogger spends only 20% of his/her time writing.
What fills the other 80% of the time? Marketing. This makes sense; even the work of genius can’t sell itself. As such, I’ve been learning about online marketing in 2019. Who knew Pinterest is not just a place to pin cute interior designs and yummy recipes, it’s apparently a great place to drive traffic! But who has time to be on Twitter, Pinterest, Facebook, etc. all day? Turns out there are plenty of tools for behind-the-scene management. Tailwind (for Pinterest) and Buffer (for the others) are two tools that I’ve learned in Q1.
Traffic & Engagement
I don’t love driving traffic for its sake, but I do need people to read my blog again. Once upon a time, I had a decent following, but then I moved inside of the Great Firewall, my activities slowed, and readers went elsewhere. Time to build it back up!
As a baseline, here are my metrics at end of March. I’m open to suggestions on more useful stats that measure engagement.
- 957 monthly page views
- 75.47% bounce rate
- 11.6k monthly viewers on Pinterest
- 36 email subscribers
- 1916 likes on Facebook page
- 2056 followers on Twitter
- 1005 followers on Instagram
Take care of the legal side of my blog
Publish two posts per week
I know this from experience that readers are more engaged, and Google likes me better when I put out content consistently. I never thought to write ahead, and publish later. Apparently that’s a trick. I’ve always just published as I wrote, which meant 5 posts a week when I have more time, and 1 post a month when I’m busier. Having an editorial calendar and a publishing schedule is important.
Fix old posts and broken links
This is the task that has prohibited me from “fixing up my blog” over the last decade. Much like me, my blog has gone through a few identity crises. As result, there are now 451 posts and 10 pages filled with broken links, missing images, and weird formatting. The perfectionist in me had always hesitated to promote my blog with all those flaws. But the only way to move forward is to create fresh content and slowly chip away at making old stuff presentable.
As I peruse through my old posts over the last few weeks, I am glad to have kept up with this time-consuming hobby. It’s a wonderful chronicles of my thoughts at different points of my life. I don’t remember writing most of these old posts, and it’s much like reading my own ideas written by a third party. The fact these thoughts have helped people is icing on top! (side note: last week, had a call with a girl who turned out had made grad school decisions based on my posts!)
Drive Quality Engagement
It’s been fantastic to be outside of the Great Firewall and be active on Twitter again. The blogosphere has exploded over the past decade, and while there are a lot of fluff, there is also a great deal of quality newcomers. I’m already learning a ton from the community over the past few weeks, and look forward to future engagements.
The goal is to continue fruitful conversations, gain inspiration from others, and hopefully get to write a guest post or two.
It’s rather vulnerable to put myself out there, and proclaiming to turn a time-consuming hobby into a business. It may fail, as most businesses do, but at least I won’t regret for not trying. I am grateful to have acquired a bit of financial freedom that allows me to pursue this dream. Hopefully this blog will flourish, but if not, hopefully it’ll help a few more people along the way.
Do you run a blogging business? What are your best learnings? I’m all ears!