What happened in my first month of blogging? Quite a lot of things!
Before we begin, this isn’t your traditional “first month of blogging” income and traffic report. This is probably the most detailed “first month of blogging” report you’ve ever read.
My aim with this report is to show you what it’s like to run a blog and what it’s like to be a blogger.
I feel like there’s this misconception that blogging is mainly writing. It’s not.
I want to start publishing super-detailed monthly reports to take you behind the scenes of running a blog.
I want to be fully transparent with you about everything that’s happening on this blog.
Perhaps, if you haven’t started a blog, it will give you an idea about what to expect in your first month of blogging.
Before we get any further, I’d like to put here a few disclaimers.
DISCLAIMER NO. 1: This is not exactly my first month of blogging. I’ve been blogging on and off since 2008, professionally from late 2018. In early 2020, I decided to leave my fashion blog SaraViktorie.com. Then, there were quite a few months when I was working on Blogology, before I officially launched it. By now, I completely abandoned my previous blog, but here’s my Instagram account I’m trying to revive, and here’s an interview with me from a company I used to work with. I was cringing a bit when I was rereading my answers, so don’t read it if you don’t have to haha!
DISCLAIMER NO. 2: I’m not a blogging expert. I do have experience with starting and running blogs, but I don’t know everything that comes into blogging. I only teach what I know. In the venues where I’m still lacking, I provide you with other resources.
DISCLOSURE: This blog post contains affiliate links. That means that if you make a purchase through one of my links, I’ll receive a commission. Read my Affiliate Disclosure for more information.
And now, let’s get into it!
Spoiler alert! Yes, I did make some money.
Why I started Blogology
Now that we’ve got all disclaimers out of the way let’s address why I started this project.
About a year ago, I started toying with the idea of starting this “the science of blogging” thing. After all, I’ve been blogging for quite some time, and I find blogging fascinating. I feel like at some point, having a blog has become a part of my identity.
So, I started researching the existing competition and started developing a unique vision for the blog. Not gonna lie, I’m still working on the uniqueness. It takes time haha!
I got really excited about this project, but then, my self-doubts were holding me back. I thought I wasn’t the right person to create this thing. After all, there are much more knowledgeable bloggers who achieved way more than me in a shorter time.
But then, at some point, I said, “screw it!” and started working on the project.
Long story short, Blogology is a project where I’m introducing aspiring bloggers into the world of blogging while testing various growth strategies.
I want to teach you what I know while taking you behind the scenes of running a blog.
The concept of Blogology isn’t about “how I did it”, but more so “how I’m doing it”.
Before starting the blog
Before I started working on Blogology, I spent months planning the blog, determining how to make the blog different from the thousands of other blogs, identifying and researching my competitors, and defining my target audience.
After all, I decided that this time, I’m going to do “everything right”. Now, that’s an ambitious and unrealistic goal. You are going to make mistakes. And that’s okay. But there’s nothing wrong with wanting to avoid mistakes.
Then I spent months working on the website itself.
Before I launched Blogology, I set up social media channels, mainly to grab the handles so no one would steal them. After all, I’m not the first person to come up with the word “Blogology”. That’s why almost all of my handles are @theblogology, if you must know.
I also started setting up my Pinterest account, creating boards, and pinning other people’s pins. But I’m going to go through my growth strategies in detail later on.
In May, I started uploading the content I’ve written to the blog while having a coming soon page on.
At the time of launching, I had four pillar pages:
- How to start a blog
- How to write a blog post
- How to promote your blog
- Ways to make money blogging
Those are based on high competition keywords, and I don’t expect to be ranking for them anytime soon.
Then, at the time of launching, I had a Tools page with the tools I’m using to run my blog, and these ten blog posts:
- What is a blog?
- 12 things you need to do before starting a blog
- 10 skills every blogger needs
- Beginner’s guide to the WordPress dashboard
- How to plan your blog before you launch it
- How to find the right niche for your blog
- How to choose a blog name you won’t regret
- How to define a target audience for your blog
- How to research your blog competitors
- What to do if you can’t find your blog niche
Blog traffic report
I officially launched Blogology on July 1st.
From my experience, I know that I can get caught up in the numbers. I can check the analytics at least ten times a day. So, I decided that I wouldn’t check my analytics the entire month.
And that was a mistake.
On July 22nd, I got a strong urge to check my Google Analytics, and this is what I saw:
Now, I knew that I wasn’t receiving any traffic at all. I was getting comments from visitors, and I might have been tracking the link clicks in my Pinterest analytics. I might have also been checking the impressions on my opt-ins in ConvertKit haha!
I’m going to address the error in Google Analytics that happened later on in Struggles.
So, here are my analytics from Jetpack:
As you can see, I received 792 pageviews from 485 visitors.
I’m really upset about the Google Analytics error as I wanted to give you a more in-depth overview of my traffic, such as bounce rate, and what I should do to improve it.
Let’s have a look at how I was driving traffic to my blog in July 2020. To avoid being overwhelmed with social media, I decided to focus on Pinterest and Instagram.
Mid-month, I decided to switch Instagram for Twitter. I was also Facebook a bit, and I started submitting my posts to blogging communities.
Apart from that, I optimized my blog for SEO to my best knowledge and was collecting emails.
SEO isn’t my forte. I’ve been focusing on creating long-form keyword-rich content.
As a beginner, my main focus is on-page SEO.
In terms of technical SEO, I’m making sure my website is mobile-friendly, and I’ve been trying to keep my site as fast as possible, but more about that in Struggles.
In July, I didn’t have any backlink campaigns yet apart from commenting on other blogs.
Those are my results from the Google Search Console:
At the time of writing, I have 12 ranking keywords. But the only one where I’m ranking on the first page is Blogology.
I started building my Pinterest account in May. I started creating boards related to my niche and optimized the account for Pinterest SEO. I started filling my boards with other bloggers’ pins so that Pinterest could understand what my account is about.
In June 2020, I started creating pins that were linked to my blog posts. I knew it would take time for Pinterest to start distributing my pins, so I started doing it this early.
At first, my account wasn’t growing, but it changed in mid-June.
Then in July, I launched the blog, and my pins started getting traction. I’m now at around 600k unique monthly viewers.
At the beginning of July, I invested in Tailwind.
At first, I was building upon the existing pins and was creating 15 to 20 new pins a week, pinning them into at least five related boards, the most related one being first. All while pinning a lot of other bloggers’ content.
I was using a Pinterest group board to submit my pins. I tried contacting more group board owners but with no response. I was also adding my pins to a few Tailwind tribes.
But then, the Pinterest algorithm changed, and the strategy with it. Pinterest now favors “fresh pins”. I started coming across advice that you should be creating around 100 fresh pins a week. With the algorithm change, Pinterest wants us to be focusing on creating new content instead of pinning other peoples’ content.
So, I ditched the group board and Tailwind tribes.
As you can tell, creating 100 pins a week is f***ing difficult, tiring, time-consuming, and unattainable.
So, in my last week, I decided to pin just four fresh pins a day. Those pins are a combination of blog posts, landing pages for my freebies, and affiliate links. I pin them into 3 to 5 boards.
I joined two new group boards and started using Tailwind tribes again. I do a combination of pinning from both Pinterest and Tailwind. In general, I try to pin at least one pin a day from Pinterest.
In terms of descriptions, I generally write descriptions three sentences long, containing 3 to 5 keywords. I’m also using 5 to 8 hashtags in my descriptions.
At first, I was using a combination of static and video pins. Now I’m using only video pins.
I noticed that my pins were getting impressions, but they weren’t getting a lot of link clicks. So, in the last week of July, I decided to step out of my visual branding comfort zone (black, white, and red) and started experimenting with different colors, fonts, and layouts.
But we’ll see how that goes in the future.
So, these are my stats for July:
The first are impressions and the latter are link clicks.
In July 2020, I grew my Pinterest account to 124 followers.
My initial intent was to post on Instagram every day to build the feed and then start posting every other day.
Well, I was promoting SaraViktorie.com mainly on Instagram, and after two years of posting every single day, I developed a toxic relationship with the platform.
After a few days, I stopped.
I also wanted to post a new photo on my Sara Viktorie account, where I haven’t posted in around six months, updating everyone on where I’ve been and casually mention Blogology.
Long story short, I. Just. Can’t.
My main issue with Instagram is that you need to keep creating posts for your main feed, stories, and IG TV to grow your account.
Now, you don’t have the option to add links to your feed posts, and the swipe up feature in stories is just for accounts with more than 10k followers.
As you can tell, it’s not the best platform for website traffic. Instagram is one of those platforms that grow as a result of your brand growing, and not the other way around.
I decided to replace Instagram with Twitter. Now, I didn’t have a strategy for it as I do with Pinterest.
After all, Pinterest is my main focus apart from SEO.
So, all I did here was tweeting about my new posts, using a retweeting account to get more eyes on my content, and participating in blog comments Twitter threads.
On Facebook, I have a page set up, but I’m not getting traffic from that.
What’s working very well are blog comments threads in Facebook groups. Now, this is not a viable long-term strategy, but if you’re just starting out and are trying to lift your blog off the ground, it can help tremendously.
Some of those visitors from Facebook translated into email subscribers.
Also, a big part of my growth strategy is getting my content in front of existing audiences. Generally, that’s guest posting.
But, in my mind, submitting my content to Facebook groups for bloggers is getting it in front of the eyes of existing audiences.
After all, all of them are bloggers, and many of them are looking for blogging advice.
Those are my favorite Facebook groups:
I was also submitting my content to blogging communities.
During the entire month, I received just four clicks from Blog Post Vote Up. I’m going to keep submitting my content to those communities, and perhaps I’m going to see more traction from them in the future.
It’s fair to say that I wasn’t using Mix and Bloglovin’ actively, so there’s no wonder I didn’t see results from them.
I’ve already mentioned that I wasn’t collecting emails on my previous blog, so this is entirely new to me.
I’m using ConvertKit for email marketing. Now, I send a weekly newsletter to my list. It contains tips related to my latest blog post. If there are updates in the blogging industry, I let them know as well.
At the moment, my freebies are a blog launch checklist and a blog post checklist. I’m going to change these over the course of July for more exciting offers.
During July, I gained 15 email subscribers and lost 2. I was also checking the unconfirmed subscribers, and there’s quite a few.
If you didn’t know, your subscribers need to confirm that they want to be on your email list.
As for the opt-ins I’m using, I have one or two opt-ins in the content and after, and I also have a pop up opt-in that appears after the user scrolls down to 30% of the page.
Blog income report
I’m monetizing Blogology with Google AdSense and affiliate marketing.
How am I promoting my affiliate links?
I have them on my Tools page, I add them to appropriate blog posts, and I promote some of them on Pinterest. For now, that’s it.
My affiliate links did get a few clicks, but none of them has translated into a sale yet.
As for Google AdSense, it’s the ad you saw at the beginning of the article. AdSense is a PPC provider, which means you only earn a commission if someone clicks on the advertisement.
So, in July, I earned £4.45. I was living in the UK when I was applying for AdSense, that’s why it’s in GBP. Unfortunately, I can’t change the currency of my account. At the time of publishing (Aug 3rd), this translates to $5.82.
NOTE: There’s a threshold of £60 or $100 I need to pass before I’m eligible to receive the payment
Since I’m talking about how much I’ve earned, it’s also fair to mention how much I spent.
In my opinion, I invested quite a lot. Keep in mind that some of those purchases happened prior to the blog launch.
This is what I invested in (tax included):
- Domain – Namecheap – $8.88
- Web hosting – SiteGround (I was only upgrading to the Grow Big plan) – £57.60 = $75.49
- Tailwind – $119.88
- Legal templates from A Self Guru (I wasn’t going to buy it yet, but she had a 4th of July sale) – $247 (it’s the premium bundle)
- Elegant Themes (I’m using the Divi theme) – $96.80
So, if I include what I’ve earned, in total, I lost $542.23.
I don’t have any plans to purchase anything in the upcoming month. I’d like to invest in the paid ConvertKit plan and upgrade the Tooltip Glossary plugin, but as you can tell, running a blog can be quite expensive.
Let’s get into what bugging me off in my first month of blogging.
1. Hacker email
On June 29th, two days before the launch, I received this email:
It’s safe to say that I was terrified.
I ran through several crawls to find some trace of actual hacking, and I didn’t find anything.
I’m using Wordfence Security to protect my blog. As far as I know, my reputation isn’t being destroyed, but I’m still wary.
According to some articles on Google, it’s just a Bitcoin scam.
That being said, I’m noticing a lot of blocked malicious attempts, but no one has hacked my blog.
2. Page speed
So, page speed has been a big issue. No matter what I’m doing, my blog doesn’t seem to speed up.
Mid-July, I installed Cloudflare. Well, I did it wrong, and my site was down for a few hours. I contacted SiteGround, and they resolved the issue immediately.
I also started deleting and replacing some plugins with more lightweight ones, which is also the reason for the Google Analytics error. One of the first plugins that I removed was Monster Insights. I figured that I could check the Google Analytics app instead of having it displayed on my dashboard.
Well, I forgot that Monster Insights was connecting my blog to the analytics, and without it, it couldn’t track anything. I already fixed the issue by adding the HTML code to the Headers and Footers plugin.
Now, some of you who are more aware of this might be wondering: “So, you deleted Monster Insights to speed up your site, but kept Jetpack?”
Yes, I did. As I said, I was worried about the hacker attack, so I kept any plugin that had an anti-malware function.
3. Someone with the same blog name
A few days ago, I noticed a blog on WordPress.com with the same name as my blog’s.
I did a lot of research before picking the name The Blogology and made sure there was no blog called this particular name and that it wasn’t trademarked.
What can I say?
Pick a different name, dude!
4. Starting a business
I was very busy in July. I’m starting another blog and online business. So, yeah. I thought I’d release more and better freebies, but yeah.
5. Social media aversion
Despite posting on IG for two years straight, I’m not a social media girl. I’ve always been on everything but were hardly ever active. I’m shy and introverted, so his social media and networking don’t come naturally to me.
6. Pinterest changing their algorithm
I’ve mentioned that Pinterest has changed the algorithm, and with that came some struggle.
Like I said, creating a 100 pins a week just isn’t doable for me. I’d much rather create fewer good-quality pins than a lot of low-quality ones.
7. HelloBar integration error
At first, I was using HelloBar for my pop up opt-in.
Even though I connected it to ConvertKit, for some reason, the emails weren’t showing in my ConvertKit dashboard. I’ve since switched to ConvertKit’s forms.
8. Missing sequences in the free version of ConvertKit
I’ve mentioned that I’m using the free version of ConvertKit for up to 1000 subscribers.
The only issue I have with the free version is that it doesn’t have the sequences function. That means that I can’t set a welcome email that would be sent automatically to new subscribers.
Instead, I have to send them manually, often hours after the signup.
9. Tooltip Glossary plugin
You might have noticed that there’s a tooltip function on my blog.
The thing is that the free version shows the meanings of the expression on all pages every time it’s mentioned. The issue with that is that I have two blog posts about blog niches, where I’m mentioning the word “niche” a lot.
See what I mean?
Now, this isn’t a huge problem, but I’m going to invest in the premium version sometime in the future. But you’ve seen my expenses, so it’ll take some time.
10. Crafting clickable headlines
I’m still struggling with crafting “sexy” titles for my blog posts. It’s a skill I’m trying to learn.
I’d say that self-doubts have been my main struggle.
I’m still comparing myself to other bloggers even though I’m trying not to. I feel like there are many bloggers who know way more than me about blogging, so I shouldn’t be doing this.
But at the same time, I feel like I have my own unique perspective, and I know that there are people who will benefit from my content.
12. Finding low-competition high-volume keywords
Finding low-competition high-volume keywords is a real struggle for me. I’m still trying to develop this skill.
In July, I received 792 pageviews from 485 visitors.
I gained 12 email subscribers.
I earned $5.82.
After deducing what I invested, I lost $542.23.
Looking back, I’m very happy with my first month of blogging. I didn’t have high expectations whatsoever. Even though there are blogs getting much more traffic in their first months, this is my most successful first month of blogging to date.
I’m expanding my growth strategies in August, so stay tuned for that!
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