Hi guys, today I am going to be sitting down with you and telling you all about my blogging journey. I started to think about this when I inadvertently stumbled across my first ever blog from a whole 7 years ago! So I wanted to hop on here to let you know about how I turned my blog into a job and that not everyone is a success straight away. In fact, my blog had 7, yes 7, reincarnations- everything from fashion to music to travel until I finally found my match at A Balanced Belly (and hopefully The Bloglancer will stick around too!)
Find a Blog That Fits
Image source: http://www.notonthehighstreet.com
As I mentioned before, I quickly gave up on lots of blogs and it was only when I found A Balanced Belly that it stuck. The reason it has become a success is that it never felt forced and I always had something new to write about. If you envision going full time, there needs to be enough content to fill to several posts a week over a huge length of time, so it needs to be something that you’ll still be passionate about in the years to come. Thankfully, I’ll always be interested in eating, my gut (my connection to Crohn’s is lifelong, unfortunately) and now blogging.
There is a lot of talk about having a niche and personally, I think that’s worked for me. The reason it’s worked is that I started getting sponsored post and review ops regularly from around 3,000 page views. This number might seem low to monetise for some, but because my niche was gluten free and gut health- the ops I had were people interested in my specific audience and getting in front of 3000 gluten free readers was much more worthwhile than 20,000 lifestyle ones.
Believe You Add Value
While I did have some ops as a fashion and lifestyle blogger, I was always very aware that there was always someone who could come along and do it better (and let’s face it, cheaper. Read more on my thoughts on working for free). Yet having a niche meant I felt really confident in knowing I could offer something somebody else couldn’t. And that’s one of the first things I would say when turning your blog into your job: you have to believe you have something of value. It doesn’t have to be a niche; it might be your photography or a blog series that you write. If you don’t have this, you’ll find yourself constantly undercutting others to keep up.
Turning my Blog into a Professional Site
When I decided to make a go of my blog, the first thing I did was use WordPress.org instead of WordPress.com- and I would strongly suggest doing this (if you haven’t already). Using wordpress.org allows you to use Plugins. Plugins are so important for taking your blog to the next level: you can use plugins to do everything from boost SEO (Such as the Yoast plugin), add crazy snow effects at Xmas time (obviously the most important reason!) increase your site speed and build recipe cards (which was perfect for my blog).
I signed up with Siteground about two years ago and have stuck with them ever since. The reason why is because they just excel at the technical side of things and pretty much did all of my transfer to .org and walk me through any kind of disaster (of which, in my case, there’s always many!) So if you want to switch but need technical support, I’d 100% recommend them! Siteground offer plans from around £30 a year- and you can buy the domain name from them too!
I also invested in a Pipdig theme. These cost about £40 but they’re beautiful themes and they’re so easy to make responsive on all kinds of devices. They are very easy to install and customise too- my template for The Bloglancer is also a Pipdig theme and I love it!
Growing Page Views and Following
Once I had the tools in place, I set it upon myself to try to grow my traffic. I actually invested in a blog coach session with a fellow food blogger and she talked to me all about the power of Pinterest. This is probably more successful for food and health bloggers than it is fashion but she recommended Tailwind to me. Tailwind helps you schedule mass pins and spreads them across the most effective time slots for your category. You can also keep repinning these pins so once you’ve uploaded them it’s very little work.
I started with their 30-day free trial (you can get it by clicking here) and now carried one as a paid member. After using the trial, my page views pretty much doubled (from 10k to almost 20k!) so it was an easy choice to carry on for me and helped bring in traffic when I had no time to promote. I think success varies and obviously, it only works if you have good pinnable images in the first place.
It is definitely trial and error and you’ll need to play around with images, boards and pin times.I would also recommend joining group Pinterest boards- these are often advertised in Facebook groups. I use the Pinterest Group Board Facebook Group and actually recently started one of my own contributor’s board (it’s called Grow Your Blog- if you wanted to be added just comment with your Pinterest username below). I actually only have about 700 Pinterest followers but get about 400 views a day from it- that’s because I regularly pin to about 30 group boards using Tailwind.
I also set up my own Facebook group as I found my facebook page didn’t get seen. Although I didn’t actually intend to start it as a traffic booster, it unintentionally became one.
Finally, at that point, I didn’t want to invest in much. I know many bloggers do lots of course but at that point I was cautious. I did purchase an e-book called ‘How I Went From 17K to 400K+ Monthly Page Views’ I can’t claim to have 400k monthly views however but it was full of useful stuff!
Making Money From It
After about 3 months of setting the blog up properly on wordpress.org, I started to make money from it. I am a firm believer that unless you are a huge YouTuber, then you will need to diversify the way’s you make money. So possible income streams for me are:
- Sponsored Posts
- Referral Schemes and Affiliate Links
- Selling a Product or Service
- Freelance Writing
Because of my blog being quite niche, I started to approach brands (more on this in my 8 ways to email PRs and my ebook) as I knew it probably was quite different to the usual health blog they’d seen. Even now, most of my sponsored work comes from pitching.
Another avenue for me is freelance writing. This is something I’ve done for a while alongside my blog and I would suggest using Journo Portfolio to store all the content you create for your blog and other sites. If you are interested in freelancing, build up a portfolio and then it is a case of deciding whether you want to do content writing for brands (in which case, start by emailing smaller brands you’ve worked with before) or freelance journalism. The latter is a trickier area to get into but if you have strong ideas, there’s nothing to stop you pitching to publications. You could begin with a niche publication in your topic.
I also experimented with Affiliate Marketing and I can’t claim to be the expert on this yet so perhaps I will update you on my journey. At the moment I only use Amazon and AWIN I don’t make huge amounts from Affiliate marketing which is why I only use two. Lots of platform have minimum threshold payments so I started off having like £1 in 20 different affiliate sites! I decided to just focus on two platforms so actually had a chance of achieving it. I have found AWIN to be quite helpful and have even attending brand events after being invited on the platform.
Transitioning into a Job
If you have read my blog to business guides, (you can read month 7 on this blog and the rest of the series on my other blog) you’ll know I began blogging for a job in September. I was lucky that I was able to go part-time first and then phased it to ‘supply’ (so I work for a few weeks at a time). I know not everyone is that flexible but it’s great to have a backup plan and to phase into a job gently. I still work in my old job part-time sometimes and it is actually quite nice to have a break and take the pressure off! It also takes a huge amount of organisation and being proactive. As I mentioned before, email is a massive part of the job. As is planning and figuring out ideas for the weeks and months to come. Having a buffer of a few months wages might take the pressure off too!
I hope you’ve enjoyed this blog talking about my journey from blog to job. Do let me know what kind of content you’d like to see here on The Bloglancer and keep in touch using the methods below!