Starting Blogging From Scratch: Month 0
After running a moderately successful travel blog for the past 3 years, I decided I wanted to track my blogging journey for my new websites. I made the decision to shut down that website after a separation, and have decided to start again to see if I can replicate it’s success.
In this experiment I’ve got ideas for a number of sites, and will be following their progress as they grow to the 12 month point. At that point I’ll cut any under-performers and focus on the ones that show the most potential. Each month I’ll track the traffic, income and a few other factors for my case study.
I’ll keep the site names a secret during their first year to allow them a chance without competition, and then I’ll either track them publicly or privately for the second year. While all these sites are starting with a new website, some of the domains are aged, and some sites will inherit social media accounts from my previous websites.
More than anything, this is a bit of fun for me. If you are serious about starting a blog then I would recommend starting with one site only, like I did with my original site three years ago. With one site you will grow much quicker than these blogs will as I’m am dividing my attention.
The reason I am doing so many at once is because I have no intention to quit my day job anytime soon. I would like to see these websites succeed to aid me in paying off a future mortgage quicker. Hence I have chosen to explore different ideas at once and see what takes off initially.
I want to achieve a few things with this experiment:
- See if I can replicate the success of my original blog (traffic, brand relationships and income)
- See the differences in growth between different niches
- Improve my concentration and multi tasking skills
- Have a fun hobby to undertake while working full time
- Earn enough from the websites to help pay off my future mortgage faster (I’m currently saving up for a house deposit)
- Earn a full time wage from the blogs (Australian FT wage) alongside the income for my regular job
I’ll be starting the sites, including this one, over the next 6 months. In case you’re wondering, the pictures are not clues to the site niches, I’ve just thrown some pretty pictures of my travels in there to keep in interesting. However, these are mostly travel sites, as that’s where my interest is, and where I’m able to make the most content.
I also be chronicling their progress on YouTube – visit the channel here.
While I am launching all the sites across the next six months I plan to choose 1-2 of them to hyper focus on initially, with the aim of getting blogs into an ad network as soon as possible. After the first lot is in I’ll pick 1-2 more to hyper focus on until they’re in, and so on. The reasoning for this is that ad networks like Mediavine pay very well, and getting in there sooner rather than later means I can pay writers to take some of the workload off me.
I’d love to get one or two of the blogs into Mediavine by their 12 month mark (25,000 sessions needed per blog). However as I plan to be a month ahead in content, the first two months of these sites will not see too many articles initially. This is because everything coming out for the next two months will be written over the next 10 days, so there’s not enough time.
Programs and Products I’m Using For The Blogs
Contains some affiliate links (I get a small commission if you purchase at no increased cost to you)
- WordPress – all websites are built on WordPress. It’s easy enough to build your own site on WordPress with little expense if you’re willing to spend time watching tutorials.
- Siteground Hosting – This is where I host my domains. If you have only one or two domains I would recommend Bluehost, which is where I hosted my original blog when I first started.
- Crazy Domains – This is where I buy the majority of my domains from. I also have bought domains from Bluehost and Siteground.
- Tailwind – Pinterest Scheduling
- Various affiliate companies including Amazon.
- Theme Forest – Where the majority of my themes are bought from.
- Excel – I’m obsessed with excel and use it for everything. Editorial Calenders, Tasks, Statistics etc
- Get Response – This is my email marketing company of choice (a free alternative is mailchimp if you’re not planning to do automation campaigns just yet).
A lot of the social media counts sound high for a new site with some having the largest contributor being Pinterest (8,818 followers, although this site has a separate Pinterest), which is shared between a few sites. A few are also boosted by existing Instagram accounts. I’m launching 2 blogs in September, and hyper focusing on one.
Site 1: How to Blog Niche (Sep 2018)
Site 1 is this blog, and I’m launching it early in the process purely to track my progress. I have no interest in becoming someone who is only successful in the ‘how to blog niche’, hence I’m going to be focusing on other sites. However I would hope the content I write here can be helpful to others. I’d love to start a little community here over time that is genuinely helpful for beginner to intermediate bloggers.
If I’m successful in growing my non-blogging blogs, I’d love to put what I’ve learnt into a course or eBook for this website.
- Social Media: 4,167 – as you could assume I am not focused on building these numbers at this time.
- Traffic: 0
- Income: 0
Goals for the first month:
- Get content written, newsletter opt in made and website ready. I’m going live with one article.
- Start getting traffic from Pinterest. I’ve had a lot of success from Pinterest from my old travel blog, but I’m yet to try it outside of travel.
- I won’t be writing too much for this site until I see success in my travel blogs, so for now I’m planning:
- one monthly progress report,
- and one helpful article a month.
Site 2: Travel niche (Sep 2018)
I’d say the niche for this website is relatively broad, but it’s been niched down twice. In that I mean, I’ve gone from the broad travel niche down to a subsection of travel, then reduced it to another subsection of travel. However despite doing that, it doesn’t gigantically separate it from less niched sites in this genre.
That’s okay though, as I’m planning for this to be my main travel blog, taking over much of the existing social media accounts from my original travel blog. This blog will have a decent head start, with both the social media accounts and that it will likely house 50% of the 200 odd articles that were written on my original blog. Hence why it’d be silly not to launch it early on due to the abundance of already written content I have for it.
I also plan to carry over sponsored stay and activity posts from my original blog. This is because I feel this is only fair to companies that sponsored parts of past holidays, and also it gives me published examples of past sponsorships to show to future partners.
I plan to monetise via sponsorships, affiliates, and ads predominantly, why gaining traffic primarily through SEO, Pinterest and other social media. This is the first site I’ll be hyper focused on in order to qualify for Mediavine.
- Social Media: 38,918
- Traffic: 0
- Income: 0
Goals for the first month:
- Launch with atleast 1 article from old blog (move more over as I have time)
- Start getting traffic from Pinterest
- Move and update content from old travel blog. Schedule as much a I can across the next two months, but generally plan for 1-2 articles a week. I would like to write more but in this niche the articles need to be very indepth to stand out from the competition, so they’ll take longer to write, but should gain decent traffic in the long term.
- It’s easiest to build initial traffic through Pinterest while waiting for SEO to take off
- Facebook ads, when used correctly, can be a good way to boost affiliate income
- While I didn’t mention it specifically, majority of my sites are focusing on having a higher skewed amount of information based articles rather than inspirational articles. Ie: answering questions the target audience has rather than being purely entertaining or inspirational in nature.
- While I can’t be certain, I highly doubt the sites with an established social media base will perform better than the sites without, or with lower followings. In the past my original blog got the majority of traffic from Pinterest and SEO, rather than Facebook or Instagram. In regards to Pinterest, I believe the follower number doesn’t necessarily help as much as one would assume.
- In saying that though, I believe higher follower numbers help with things like sponsorships, but since I’m focusing on affiliates, ads and e-products, I don’t think the social followings will make much of a difference.
- I tried to assign the highest followed social media accounts to the sites I thought would benefit from them due to sponsorships (ie: sponsored travel often relies on higher social media numbers). A website monetised mostly on affiliate based SEO traffic and not focusing on sponsorships, doesn’t need a higher social base as much.
Has anyone done something similar and chronicled it? I’d love to see your blog where you track your journey. Let me know in the comments.