How to be a Better Blogger: My Journey

How to be a Better Blogger: My Personal Journey

I’ve blogged for around 15 months now and I am so happy to announce this is my 100th post! As a new blogger, this used to be a goal of mine.  In fact, I thought I needed 100 posts in my quest to be a better blogger and gave myself a timeline of one year to achieve this goal. Now I realize setting a number of posts for yourself isn’t helping anyone. Why? Well, quality content always wins over quantity. Yet, meeting the 100 mark on my blog feels like such an accomplishment and I am so happy to have you along for the ride!

Since it is the New Year, it is time to set some blogging goals. As I mentioned in my Goal Setting Post, one major aspect of goal setting is writing down what you want to achieve. Also, doing a checkup after a set time will help you adjust and revamp your goals as needed.

My blog had its first birthday on October 19, 2017, and that was my last blogging check-in. It is true, I learned a lot in my first year of blogging, but as an experienced blogger knows, I still have a long way to go. Blogging takes a lot of hard work but having a wealth of content on my site feels amazing!

Check out my one-year blogging post here: Five Amazing Blogging Tips to Try Right Now

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Let’s Get Personal

As life goes on things change. In my personal life, I have a five-year-old and a three and a half-year-old that keep me crazy busy. Yet,  I don’t always spend as much time on my blog as I would like but these two baby boys are my most important job. In fact, this is why I decided to give up being a special education teacher. It is my personal belief that the younger years are so important and go by so quickly. I didn’t want to miss out on this wonderful time in their lives so blogging became my work-at-home side hustle!

Time for school…We just signed up my baby for his last year of preschool (next year) and my eldest son was in Junior Kindergarten this year and will be moving up to Kindergarten. His paperwork is next on my list.  My older son is getting his first “big guy” tooth and is about to lose one of his baby teeth. (The sucker doesn’t look like it wants to come out!) So again, the cycles of these kiddo’s lives are changing and I’ve said it before, but it is SO bittersweet!

As things change in my personal life and the years go by, I grow and improve and I would like to say the same for my blogging life. In this post, you will find updates on what is working for me, things I have and will change, and an update on my social media progress! I will also share my top five posts with a brief introduction and what they have taught me about future posts.

I will continue to grow in my second year of blogging (which is already paid for so I won’t be giving up anytime soon!) If you are interested in starting a blog, check out my blogging tutorial and take the leap! I am definitely glad I did!

Blogging Goals to be a Better Blogger:

Sit back and grab a cup of coffee! This post is over 3700 words long. To make it easier I have created an outline so you can skip ahead if there is an areas you are really interested in. As you read on you will find the following sections number 1-10:

  1. Help Readers
  2. Increase Pageviews
  3. Learn As Much As You Can
  4. Create a Product
  5. Increase Income
  6. Improve SEO
  7. Improve Old Posts
  8. Create New Pins
  9. Themes
  10. Social Media

 

Be a better blogger. Learn about my journey and my best tips!

These are goals that will help you become a better blogger. If you want to improve, you have to put your readers first! I’m sure you have heard the expression, “Content is king!” Yet, finding what content your readers want is a different story. Below I have listed ten tips and trick to help improve.

1. Help Readers – Helping people is one of the main reason I got into blogging and I chose the personal finance niche. Nonetheless, I have always been good with money and I want to pass on all of my tips to my readers and help you learn to budget and live an amazing debt-free life!- My husband and I are still working on our house and car loan – car died in 2017 and ended up buying a used car – but boy that emergency fund and extra money we put away sure did come in handy.

If you want to be a better blogger you have to ask yourself if you are really reaching your reader. Most blog readers – well besides your mom – want to know, “What’s in it for me?” If there is nothing in the post that actually helps the reader, they will probably move on to the other gazillions of blogs on the Internet. So make yourself stand out by helping your reader learn something new.  This is why “How to” posts and “Listicles” are so popular. Teach your reader something and they will keep coming back.

If you are only writing about what you did last weekend, they may get bored and move on. Yeah, going to the park was fun but unless you are incredibly entertaining, most people just don’t search for these kinds of posts. Find a way to teach but put your own stories and personal spin on the information. You really don’t have to reinvent the wheel, but using old ideas with your own original spin will help you go far.

By now you may be saying, “I love my niche but can I really write that much about it?” Keep in mind, you don’t have to be an expert, but like in the infamous movie “Catch me if you Can” with Leonardo Decaprio, when the real Frank William Abagnale Jr.  was asked how he taught college courses as a con man, he answered, “I read one chapter ahead of my students.” If you are one or two steps ahead of your readers. they will learn from you and keep coming back for more!

2. Increases pageviews – I would love to increase my reach. I have gone from around 4000 to 5400 in the past few months and I would love to grow as much as possible in 2018. I’m on track to have over 6000 this month which will be my best month ever.

If you are looking to increase page views, my best advice is to promote your blog on social media and join Facebook groups with promotion threads. My favorite threads are Pinterest, Stumbleupon, and Blog Share related because I know others are sharing my work; however, people are still reading my posts because they want to, not because I asked another blogger to click over. Try it out and get your name out there! My favorite groups are Growing Social Media for Bloggers, Influential Mommas, Grow Your Blog, and Making Sense of Affiliate Marketing (have to buy the course to join the last one).

3. Learn as much as you can – I am a lifelong learner and love reading and learning about subjects that interest me, blogging being one of them. Furthermore, I have books and classes about blogging, SEO, Pinterest, and other aspects that I am going to delve into in 2018. There are many other inspirational books on my reading list for 2018. Two books I highly recommend from 2017 are The Power of Habit: Why We Do What We Do in Life and Business and Eat That Frog!: 21 Great Ways to Stop Procrastinating and Get More Done in Less Time. Both of these books are listed on my recommendation page and if you give them a chance you will learn so much about habits and staying productive in life and business.

If you subscribe to my Newsletter, you know one of my personal goals is to read every day this year. I love reading but I let this little pleasure slip by last year.

Best Blogging Books/Classes I read/took in 2017:

Making Sense of Affiliate Marketing

Pinteresting Strategies – Carly Campbell

Ready Set, Blog for Traffic – Elna Cain

Demystifying SEO – Kim Six

Check out the classes above. With any business, you have to spend a little to make a little. These books and classes have helped me tremendously!

My goal is to create an eBook

4. Create a Book or class – So, this was on my “To Do” list last year and I never got around to it. Honestly, I did not realize how much work blogging actually is. It is not just writing (which I love) but finding images, creating pins, writing a newsletter, editing, and researching which all take time. Therefore, I did not get around to my book or class, but I realize if you really want to do something, you need to make time for it. Even if I can only write one page a day, it is better than nothing and I never forget one of my favorite sayings by Lao Tzu, “The Journey of 1000 miles begins with a single step.”

Pro Tip: If you are looking to make money from your blog, look at your blog as part of your business as a whole. Creating a product can be part of your business and your blog or email list is a great way to promote your new product so make sure you are starting an email list right away. I personally use Mailerlite and LOVE them. They are free for the first 1000 subscribers so check them out!

More Tips on Becoming a Better Blogger…

5. Increase income – This is an area I have struggled with. Another blogging goal of mine is to make a fulltime income and stay at home with my boys. As of now, the most I have made is around $82  (IZEA, Amazon, and IGAIN survey sign-ups)!

Even though this is a small amount, I am still grateful, but at that rate, I will definitely have to go back to work. I invested in a course called Making Sense of Affiliate Marketing and I really love the course! I am going to go back and comb through every step, because seriously, the author, Michelle Schroder-Gardner makes over $50,000 a month with her blog so she knows what she is talking about.

6. Improve SEO – I have learned so much from a book I’m reading called Demystifying SEO by Kim Six. I have a few other books on SEO I am going to check out this year and for all of you non-bloggers reading this SEO means Search Engine Optimization. These are things you can do to make your blog more searchable on Google, Bing, Yahoo and other search engines.

I just started using keyword research and I am using KWfinder and it is free for your first five searches every 24 hours. This is a tool I highly recommend!


7. Improve Old posts – Let’s face it… when I started blogging I had no idea what I was doing. I hadn’t written anything in years and my writing was rusty. My pictures were subpar and I did not know there are free and paid stock photos available for bloggers and website owners. (BTW: All of the super feminine photos in this post are free from Ivory Mix. They do beautiful work and are one of the most affordable stock photo businesses I have found.) Nonetheless, there are some posts with good content that needs some fine-tuning. I will add more content to make these posts more valuable and repost them to the front of my blog.

If you have blogged for at least a year, I suggest fixing up old content and pushing it to the front page of your blog. Then re-promote it. Ask yourself, is there anything you can add to the post? I am working on a post I suggest 40 frugal and free date ideas; however, I am going to add more date ideas and optimize my post with pictures and keywords. This is also a time saver if you do not have time to write an entirely new post.

Pro Tip: Make sure you redirect your URL if you change it. You can find several plugins to help you with this on WordPress.

Blog better with these 10 tips.

8. Create more pins – I currently make 2/3 pins per post, but I am looking to up my Pinterest game so I will be creating at least five pins per post and A/B/C/D/E testing to see which pins perform best. I am also going to play around with more clickable titles. Since Pinterest is my main source of traffic, it is worth it for me to invest more time in this platform. One of my best pins right now has the title “15 Tips to Live Your Best Life.” This is a clickable title and it is bringing traffic to my site. Updating pins you have already created with more clickable titles is a fabulous way to drive traffic to your site!

Suggested Reading: Rock Your Pinterest Followers – Learn how I grew my following to over 6000

9. Change Theme – I purchased the Genius Blogger’s Toolkit in October and with it came a beautiful theme from Bluchic. I am already using a free theme from bluchic (https://www.bluchic.com/) and I love, love, love all of their other themes but did not have the $79 to buy the one I wanted. Since this theme is free with my purchase and I totally love it, I am going to switch over soon. Be on the lookout for a new and improved look to I Heart Frugal in 2018!

Note: Although it is nice to have a pretty blog, readers will come back if you have high-quality content. If you have subpar content and a pretty blog, they may not come back.

Social Media tips to promote your blog.

10. Social Media

Social media deserves an entire section of its own. If you are looking to become a better blogger, promoting on social media will help promote all of your hard work. Here I will take a look at my progress and offer tips to help you learn social media strategies that work.

Remember the saying, “Jack of all trades, master of none?” This holds so true for social media and blogging. It is impossible to devote all of your time to learning all social media all at once. Since I have been at it for a year, I put my main focus on Pinterest and Twitter. Nonetheless, I am slowly growing my Instagram and Facebook reach, however, after the recent Facebook algorithm changes, I may not focus on that platform quite as much. Here is how I am currently doing with my social media:

Pinterest:

Pinterest: 6100 Followers – This is my best traffic source but Pinterest is so sweet and sour! For instance, one day Pinterest can bring me a bunch of traffic yet a week later it drops like a fly! Although, I am going to keep on fighting for my Pinterest traffic because I don’t give up! I think my readers are out there searching on Pinterest; however, some of them have yet to find me!

I have a Pinterest strategy and you can read more about in my How to Rock Your Pinterest Followers post, but I continue to Pin my top ten pins to my top three boards rotating every ten days (Got this strategy from Carly Campbell’s Pinteresting Strategies book which had a ton of useful information.) Nonetheless, I use the 80/20 pinning rule as closely as I can and try to pin quality pins in my niche. I am working on making my pin designs more appealing and my titles more clickable.

Twitter:

Twitter: 3800 Followers – Let me start by saying I love Twitter. I mean where else can you express yourself in 140 characters or less and still make some great points and with some of the crazy rants on FB – Ain’t nobody got time for that! My favorite part of Twitter is reading inspirational quotes!

I don’t get many page views from Twitter but I have recently started Twitter campaigns that pay me to tweet. I use a company called IZEA and have made around $29.00 in one month’s time so it is definitely something I will continue if they continue to send me campaigns. Also, now I have the free version of IZEA, but you can upgrade for only $1 and bid as many times as you want. I can only bid 5 times a cycle but I haven’t had enough campaign offerings to upgrade. I will when I have more offers. One of my accepted tweets was from Walmart.

Sing up for IZEA here. (affiliate link)

Instagram:

Instagram – 810 Followers – I LOVE looking at my Instagram feed. It is actually quite addicting. There are so many creatives out there and amazing photographers. Unfortunately, I am not one of them. I do not have the equipment to take lovely, bright photos and I do not have anyone to follow me around and take pictures. However, I would love to amp up my Instagram account in 2018. I am working on some pictures with memorable quotes for my account and trying to post more. Currently, I only get a few page views a month from Insta yet, I know this is where the brands hang out so I will be learning more as I go.

Facebook:

Facebook – Facebook is nice because it allows you to schedule your posts in advance. With that being said, with the recent changes, one may actually be penalized for posting on their Facebook business pages often, if you are not doing it right. One thought is to leave posting to when I have a new post for now and try to read more about the new changes. Also, I also enjoy sharing other’s personal finance posts on my Facebook page.

I know Mark Zuckerberg is looking out for his users and wants to focus on family and friends instead of bombarding people with business pages. In fact, I get it and it is not a huge concern for me since I wasn’t getting that many pageviews from Facebook anyway! I still love keeping up with you all on there though!

I’ve also played around with Facebook ads but have not had a huge success. I think Facebook ads can really help a new blogger out and help a more successful blogger earn more. Yet, determining your target audience on Facebook is another story for another post. With any advertising, you must look at return on your investment and if it isn’t there, you need more training or need to focus your time on something that gives you more of a return.

StumbleUpon:

Stumble Upon – Stumble has been a good pageview source for me, although it is not the best traffic due to the high bounce rate. Many stumblers are on to the next topic and do not stick around to read multiple pages on your blog. Yet, I recently had one of my best pageview days ever 421 and half of it came from Stumble and the other half Pinterest. If I could figure out how to do this daily I would be golden! Yet, it seems the day I publish my post and stumble it I get a traffic spike and then my views usually go down the rest of the week. Check my Analytics here and see what I mean!

Blog analytics check

Google + – Oh Google + how I have neglected you. I have left you hanging out in the cold like the forgotten laundry blowing in the wind. I really need to devote more time to Google + since it is owned by Google and many think Goole rewards you for using it. There are several posts I have not even added to my Google + account yet, but since Google is HUGE to any blogger, I am going to make more time for it.

Best Posts

My top post of all time.

These are my best post for the past three months. In order to be a better blogger, you have to analyze your data and use the information to make your next move. Since these are my best posts I will continue to write about similar subjects such as budgeting, meal planning, and saving/making money.

I have a few posts that continue to drive traffic to my site! One is a meal planning post and one is about getting out of debt. These posts have done well for me on Pinterest and taught me that these are the subjects my readers are interested in.

I’ve decided to write posts about meal planning, saving money, making money, and budgeting each month, one per week. I will also throw in some roundup posts to go along with Holiday themes and content my readers want. If there are any saving money posts you would like to read more about, leave me a comment! I will do the work for you!

Best Five Posts:

  1. Budget-Friendly Two-Week Dinner Meal Plan – Under $75
  2. How to Get Out of Debt: 11 Actionable Steps to Live Better
  3. Side Hustles: My Ultimate List of 75 Side Hustles to Earn Extra Money
  4. How to Create a $40 Meal Plan Your Family Will Love
  5. No Money to Pay My Bills, Help!

Conclusion:

First, don’t’ forget to grab your blogging planner! This planner will help you come up with ideas, Keywords, and keep your post organized.

Grab it here:

There you have it, folks! These are my blogging goals for 2018. I love that you are following along with me on my blogging journey and again, I am so grateful to have you as a reader. If you are a blogger, I hope you have found my tips helpful in your quest to become a better blogger. I found it very beneficial to see what other bloggers found successful and not so successful.

My main focus is to help you with budgeting, saving/making money and learning to meal plan so stay tuned for our best year ever!

Take care – Sarah


5 comments on “How to be a Better Blogger: My Personal Journey”

  1. Congrats! I’m happy for you. I find blogging to be a fun hobby/side job. My worst bit is when I have some tech issues and I get so nervous I feel like I’m going to have a mini heart attack! lol
    I like that my blog actually helps others too and in turn I am paid some money that satisfies me for the amount of time I spend blogging away.

  2. This is a great post!! I enjoyed reading about your blogging journey and your blogging goals. I will have my blog for one year in February and there is so much to learn! Like you, I left my job as an ESL teacher to stay at home with my daughter. I decided blogging would be my side hustle too! I love that I have been able to witness her growth, spend the days with her, take her to the library, and be a part of her daily experiences. Congratulations on your 100th post! That is a huge accomplishment and one I can aspire to. Your post inspired me to think about my own blogging journey so far!

    • Thank you so much for checking out my post, Gwendolyn! That is awesome that you can stay with your daughter! I love being at home with my boys! I am so glad I inspired you and wish you and your daughter well!

  3. Thank you so much! This was really helpful! I’ve been blogging for roughly the same amount of time as you, but it is a very part-time thing in addition to a full-time job and kids…..so, I write each article at a snail’s pace!

    Super encouraging to hear that quality over quantity wins out. I’ve been telling myself that, but haven’t seen great results yet. I have to keep in mind that slow and steady wins the race 🙂

    • Thank you so much for checking out my post! Just keep at it! You will get there! I have two kids and I have a hard time balancing time with blogging! I can’t imagine having a part-time job as well! That is truly amazing!

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