If you had seen my recent post about “Blogging not being for the faint of heart”, then you might have figured this has been a soul searching endeavor for me.
Just Googling “How many blogs are there?” results in stale stats from a few years ago, but clocks in at a staggering 150+ million! Even though the blogging world is largely built on sharing, that’s still a lot of potential competition for limited eyeballs. I found the chart on this page a little more recent and informative about the state of the blogging world.
I just recently had seen a car commercial, where the participants were seeing zeros on all their devices. Likes, matches, etc. and their response was “really!?”. When they see zeros for the financing options of their car they say…really! I thought it was clever and apropos for how I feel most mornings when I wake up. When you put a lot of effort into content creation and hear those crickets, it’s hard to press on. Hard, but highly necessary that we do press on.
That’s the way blogging is when starting out and it can be brutal if you only focus on the numbers. To try to monetize my blog, just doesn’t make sense right now. Why create more clutter for my readers?
And the readers are sparse
Personally, I’m using total visitors as my main benchmark measurement. Page views are great, and are important, but for new blogs, the number of people that just arrive and immediately leave (the bounce rate) is very high. As I develop more quality content, and test out more landing pages, I’m pretty sure I will slowly get them to poke around or stick around a bit longer. My numbers have been light for the first year, but show marked increases the more I actually do the hard work necessary for maintaining this. A lot of things factor into the slow growth of these totals, but I’m gaining a commanding understanding about which levers do different things. While my numbers aren’t stellar, I’m happy with consistently beating my previous months’ numbers each month, organically.
There’s gold in them thar analytics!
It’s easy to get discouraged, when just looking at low traffic or high bounce rates. However, you really need to understand the depth of the numbers, and how they are changing over time. My number of returning visitors is increasing, and my bounce rates are decreasing. If you just looked at the daily numbers, those types of comparisons aren’t immediately evident.
SEO is king today
I’ve been trying to focus more on truly understanding keywords and search engine intricacies. Difficult concepts can be hard to absorb and even harder to master. However, I’m doing the Mr. Miyagi way of “wax on wax off”, when it comes to learning about what makes a site or a page rank high. At the very least, this is a skill that I can use for employment in the future. Frankly, I don’t think a lot of bloggers get it (or they’re not good at it) and this is where the money exists. At least in the “most bang for your buck” category. I’d rather create one post that gets 500 visitors than 10 posts that gets 50 visitors each. It’s partly an efficiency thing, but focusing on this area has real potential value.
Finding my voice
I’m really just finding my blogger voice. Most of the things that I read, on successful bloggers pages, say similar things. Don’t worry so much about the traffic, but find what you love to write about and focus on quality. Creating quality content with a consistent voice takes time. Frankly, I think I could split this blog into 3 highly focused blogs about finance, food and lifestyle. That’s yet to be seen.
A lot of the blogs that I follow are focused around helping young people manage their finances, and live frugally. I’m not saying I don’t have things to learn and offer in that space, but I’ve already done that.(and continue to live that way). I’m 51 with a joint net worth of a million dollars. While I have some things to offer younger people, I’m still learning about this new stage in my own life, which I see as under served. I’m discovering that combining learning and helping others at the same time is a nice place to live for growth.
Light at the end of the tunnel
When I was employed in the IT industry at the Director and Administrator levels, over time, I gathered a playbook. I used that playbook each time I moved from job to job. I also got much better at it with each iteration. When I would land in a new position, I’d have the servers, phones and desktops inventoried. Cabling diagram laid out. Capital expenditure requests mapped out for the next year. All within weeks, if not days.
I actually have a good chunk of that type of playbook now for blogging, which feels great and bolsters my confidence for eventually making money at this, one way or another.
For now, I’m going to be content with two things:
I will admit, that when there is no money coming in for your efforts it can be discouraging. Lately, things have been coming together much faster. Slowly some of the pieces of the puzzle are making the picture come into focus. As a manager (and that’s what you are if you have your own blog) you need to focus on where your skills are strong. You also need to know when to ask for help and get the best you can find. I’ve become a better idea generator and much more focused as I’ve slowly let the idea of making any money fade into the background for now.
Do you have a playbook plan for your blog? What are the “Key performance indicators” that you use to measure your success?