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As a brand new blogger, I have a burning question.
How do brand new bloggers start earning thousands of dollars from their blog so quickly?
If you browse Pinterest for blogging tips – you’ll see loads of articles with click-bait titles like How I made $10,000 in my first 3 months blogging! or How I Replaced My 6-Figure Income with Blogging
While I do believe it’s possible to earn a full-time income from a blog, and that some bloggers are able to do it very quickly — I am here to tell you that my blog doesn’t earn a single penny yet.
So if you’re a new blogger, too, and you’re wondering whether your blog will ever take off, start earning money, provide financial freedom, or allow you to quit your dreadful 9-to-5 job, then trust me– I’m right there with you!
Since I’m not earning yet – I can’t very well tell you how to make a fortune with your blog.. at least not from personal experience. Though if you want to know (generally speaking) how bloggers earn money, feel free to read this article.
Until then, I’m going to be starting a new series that I’m calling my Blog Place Marker Series.
Blog Place Marker Series
In my Blog Place Marker Series, I’ll be documenting my journey as a new blogger. Each month I’ll give an overview of my blog growth, including my actual gross income (if any), expenses, Google Analytics, and my action growth plan.
I hope this series will encourage you on your own blogging journey, and give you a real, honest glimpse at what it’s really like to blog for a living. Or, for now — as a side hustle!
Don’t forget to join my mailing list so you don’t miss one of these posts! When you join, you’ll also get access to my Free Resource Library where you can download all sorts of design goodies- like this Blog Post Printable Planner Page!
My Real Results As a New Blogger
Table of Contents
In my first Blog Place Marker Post, I’ll cover:
- How Long I’ve Been Blogging
- Courses and Blogging Strategies I’m Using
- My Blog Workflow & Amount of Time I Spend Blogging
- What I’m Focusing On With My Blog
- My Google Analytics & Income
- My Action Plan Moving Forward
1. How Long I’ve Been Blogging
I’ve been blogging on and off for at least 10 years, but I never took it seriously until now. My previous blogs were all in the Lifestyle niche, and my only strategy was to imitate the pseudo-famous bloggers of the time. Blogs like:
I still follow some of them — in fact, every one of them is still blogging and/or a badass business-owner babe today! And honestly, that gives me a lot of hope that blogging for a living is both doable and sustainable.
But how long have I been writing this blog?
I started 2019 strong – creating content like crazy while listening to every available podcast on self-help and entrepreneurship. I was doing it ALL, or trying to.
Check out this List of My Favorite Podcasts for Creative Entrepreneurs.
My workflow in January looked something like this:
- writing blog posts
- researching keywords
- creating video content for a Youtube channel
- posting on Instagram and #hashtagging like crazy
- aiming for perfect SEO
- pinning on Pinterest to grow my traffic
- designing my WordPress site
- designing my logo & branding
- setting up email opt-ins
- designing paid products for my Etsy shop
Basically I was trying to make my blog and every single post perfect. I didn’t want to make a mistake or be seen as less-than-expert, so I was doing way too many things at once. BAD IDEA.
Burnout caught up really fast when I didn’t see immediate results, and I came to a FULL. STOP.
I started doubting all the work I’d done. I felt confused about my message, my blog name, my content, my tagline, my audience, my WHY.
And I wish I could say I came up with an answer to my doubts quickly, but the truth is — it took me months to sort this out. For the better part of 2019, I didn’t blog at all.
I was too discouraged to keep blogging, but I didn’t want to quit altogether, so I decided to focus my creative entrepreneur efforts elsewhere: I started a Youtube Channel over the summer of 2019 and also spent some time trying to grow an Instagram account.
If you’re thinking of starting a Youtube Channel, Check Out These Video Ideas for Bloggers. They’re especially helpful if you hate being on camera.
Then one day in October I logged into my blog email and saw a message from Google Analytics with the subject line “In July, you had 158 users visit your website.”
My interest piqued and I immediately logged into Google Analytics, wondering what my results had been in August and September. To my surprise, I was at 188 for August and 272 for September. I was growing!
And it looked like Organic Search was my #1 source of traffic. Yay, SEO!
From that day, I found a whole new motivation. I rebranded my blog (long story, but feel free to click the link and read about it) and got to work again! I’m happy to say my traffic is growing, but more on that later..
2. Courses & Blogging Resources I Use
I feel like it’s important to say I haven’t been blogging blindly. Below are the resources I’ve purchased and used to guide me on this journey so far.
Elite Blog Academy by Ruth Soukup
I mentioned earlier that I started my blog in 2017– which is the year I purchased Elite Blog Academy. Obviously it’s a big investment, but I was tired of piecing together all the info on my own. I was ready for someone to tell me how (and give me the steps) to make money with a blog!
I started Unit 1 in 2017 but didn’t get far. The course sat collecting dust for more than a year.
I’ve restarted it many times, but I still haven’t made it beyond Unit 3. I like to skip around and read ahead and neglect to do things in the order Ruth lays out- which I finally realized was costing me my sanity!
I realized the only solution was to go back to basics, but it’s meant I’ve had to spend way longer in each Unit than I thought I would. I hope to post a full review of the course one day!
In the meantime, one of the most valuable things about the course has been access to the EBA Facebook Group. Admittedly I’m more of a lurker than a participator in the group (blame my INTP/Enneagram 5 personality), but there’s a ton of helpful blogging information that gets posted and discussed by other members. It’s my favorite resource!
The Pinterest Launch Plan by Jennifer Maker Marx
The next course I’ve purchased is Pinterest Launch Plan by Jennifer Maker Marx.
Jennifer Maker Marx is a well-known and highly successful Elite Blog Academy student. She’s primarily a craft blogger, but she’s also created some great resources for bloggers.
The Pinterest Launch Plan is only $27, which is an incredible value.
I know there are other Pinterest courses out there, but the reason I chose this one is because Jennifer had a course called List Love Quick Start that came as a Free Bonus with Elite Blog Academy, and I loved her no-nonsense teaching style.
I have implemented some of the strategies from Pinterest Launch Plan, but I haven’t finished it yet. Womp, womp. It’s on the list of things to do, but since returning from my blogging hiatus, I’ve chosen to focus on staying consistent with the basics first!
Stupid Simple SEO by Mike Pearson
Oh look! Another course I purchased and have yet to crack open.. this one was a pricey investment at $297. Admittedly I bought Stupid Simple SEO on a whim after reading tons of good things about it in the EBA Facebook Group.
Just like the Pinterest course, I know this is going to be a good resource for me one day, but I’m not ready yet. My primary focus is just writing and creating content right now!
To grow my email list, I’ve been using Mailchimp. In January I made my list a priority by setting up opt-ins and pop-ups on my site.
So far I’m still using the free version and have 34 subscribers total.
I hate to say it– but I have not nourished my email list at all. I’ve set up a welcome email with the password to my Free Resource Library where subscribers can go to download their opt-in freebie, but apart from that they’ve only heard from me one other time– when I sent them Free Halloween Clip Art.
Needless to say, my list strategy needs work!
My Financial Investment in Blogging
I thought it would be interesting to share how much money I’ve invested in this blog so far. Notice the additional costs due to my rebrand.
- Elite Blog Academy – $1,000.00
- Pinterest Launch Plan – $27.00
- Stupid Simple SEO – $297.00
- Domain Name – $ 14.95/yr for 3 years + 17.95/yr (due to rebrand)
- Siteground Hosting – $143.40/yr for 2 years + 75.35/yr (due to rebrand)
- Mailchimp – $0 (I’m still using the free version up to 1,000 subscribers)
- Total: $1749.00
3. My Blog Workflow & Amount of Time I Spend Blogging
I spend as much time as I can on my blog, and I make certain sacrifices in order to do it. That’s all any of us can do, really, but I know I have it easier than some.
For one, I’m single. And for another, I don’t have any children. That means I don’t owe a significant amount of my time and attention to a spouse, boyfriend, or kids. I don’t even have a pet!
To put things in context, I do work a full time job Monday- Friday, 8am-5pm.
On weekdays I wake up early (4am) to exercise and also spend about 30-45 minutes on my blog each morning before work. Otherwise, I work on my blog most weeknights between 6-8pm. This isn’t a strict rule, but I try to prioritize it.
I’m human, though (surprise!)- so sometimes I go out for dinner with friends or family instead of working. And other times I’m stressed and overwhelmed after work, so I sit on the couch and knit and watch Gotham or Gossip Girl or The Great British Baking Show (or apparently any show starting with the letter G) on Netflix.
In total, I’d say I’m spending an average of 2 hours/day on my blog.
Ideally I’d spend the whole weekend blogging, but in reality I usually take Saturday completely off and only spend another couple hours on Sunday.
This adds up to about 12 hours/week spent working on my blog.
Is this enough time spent working to “make it big”? Time will tell.
4. What I’m Focusing On Right Now
Right now my focus is creating CONTENT.
Content, content, content, content, content. And when I say content, I mean blog posts specifically. I have 24 posts right now, but my goal is to post at least twice per week.
I’m trying to write pillar posts (or evergreen content), meaning each post should stand the test of time. Some of them require that I make post-specific opt-ins. And many of them are tutorials, which require way more work than simply writing. Therefore, it takes me awhile to craft a good blog post – several days, even.
As I’m writing, I focus on implementing everything I know about SEO, and I try to use little tips or tricks I’ve picked up along the way, such as:
- Linking to my other posts within every post
- Inviting or incentivizing people to join my email list in each post
- Focusing on a keyword or key phrase
- Optimizing the Meta Description with keywords
- Optimizing my Images with keywords
- Writing long posts (1,000 words or more)
- Using hierarchical headings for ease of reading/scanning
- And always – creating at least one pin for Pinterest
Other than creating SEO-friendly content, I am also Pinning on Pinterest like a madwoman in an effort to bring more traffic to my blog. I pin for a few minutes each morning and each evening, but I know my strategy needs work. It’s time I finished Pinterest Launch Plan, eh?
5. My Google Analytics, Pinterest Analytics, & Income
Now for the fun part! Here’s an honest glimpse into my real results after blogging for a year-ish.
This is a screenshot of my Google Analytics from January 1 to present (Nov) 2019.
When my blog was brand new in January and February, I felt so defeated with no page views, no measurable results. I would hear people say that SEO and Blogging were long games.. but I still had unrealistic expectations for myself.
Anyway — the graph — my traffic — as small as the numbers may be — it’s moving up. *AHHH* It’s moving up!
This is proof that it’s possible to start and grow a successful blog even in 2019. Proof that I myself needed more than anyone else.
So if you’re discouraged right now, keep doing the work. My results aren’t anything to brag about, but they are undeniable proof that if you keep working, results will come.
I certainly don’t want to quit now and wonder in a year where I could have been if only I’d just kept working.
And since I’ve been working on Pinterest these past couple of months, here is a screenshot of my current analytics:
There’s literally NOTHING until October (last month!), lol. I don’t have any strategy yet — I’m just trying to pin regularly and get some of my own pins out there. That’s it!
My Email List
Right now I have 34 total subscribers in Mailchimp. I have one main opt-in freebie that pops up on my site, which is a set of hand-lettered Adobe Illustrator Graphics.
I also have a couple of opt-ins within individual blog posts- and I think I’m going to switch the Main Pop-Up Opt-In for something else soon, like my Hand Lettering Guides.
Check it out — I have 2 unsubscribes!
After looking at this growth chart, it jogs my memory — I guess I was working on my blog in March & April – I just wasn’t writing anything. I was setting up all my Email List stuff.. and in all honesty it was a pain!
My Current Blog Income
Here’s the real result of all this work as a new blogger..
I’ve earned $0.00 blogging so far!
I also want to mention that I applied for Amazon’s Affiliate Program (perhaps prematurely), but I don’t have any affiliate sales yet, so there’s a chance I’ll have to reapply in two more months.
6. How I Hope to Improve
If I can just keep showing up, consistently writing, posting, working.. I’ll be happy.
That said, I do have some goals for my blog.
- I want to make it past Unit 3 or 4 of EBA. Can’t remember which I’m in 🙂
- I want to finish my Pinterest Course from Jennifer Maker Marx
- I want to start Stupid Simple SEO
- I want to get the 3 Affiliate Sales I need in the next couple of months so I don’t have to reapply to Amazon Affiliates
- I want to grow my List and Email them regularly
- I want to set up some drip email campaigns
That was a long one, but if you made it all the way through this post, I hope you gained some insight into the real results you can expect as a new blogger.
At the least, I hope this is relatable. That it will encourage those of you suffering from premature burnout to take a deep breath, scale back, and then move forward anyway.
Don’t give up! Keep blogging.
I’m sure if you have a clear message, work smart, and have a plan— you CAN grow your blog into a money-making business. I believe it for myself. Will you believe it for yourself?
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