Hey folks! Transparency Disclosure- Some of the links in this article are affiliate links. That means I’ll receive a small commission if you decide to click on it and buy something. Don’t worry, it doesn’t cost you anything extra!
Partner’s in Fire is officially one year old! I’ve been celebrating for a few weeks now. I wrote a special blogiversary post completely unrelated to finance and a 12th month update. But now I want to talk about all the things I’ve learned from my first year of blogging.
Lessons Learned after one year of blogging
Blogging is Hard Work
“I can write that! How hard can it be to put a few words on paper and post them online? Anyone can be a blogger, it’s nothing special.” I’m sure we’ve all heard or thought these things and more prior to starting our blogs. But blogging is so much more than writing a post! Honestly getting the words on paper is the easy part!
Blogging also includes designing your website, creating beautiful blog banners, and ensuring your blog can be found. I’ve had to become a graphic designer, web developer, SEO expert, and social media manager this year to just keep my head above water in this blogging game! But on the plus side, I’m developing awesome new skills! I’ve been using my newfound graphic design skills to make t-shirts! How awesome is that?
Getting People to your blog
After one year of blogging, I’m still struggling to get consistent traffic. Although I’m seeing small improvements on my traffic month to month (generally, some months are outliers), I still haven’t been able to get to 1000 users per month organically. Over the course of the last 12 months, I had a little over 8000 users. I don’t think that’s bad for a first year, but I know I can do better.
I’m learning about SEO and getting a few people from organic searches every day. That’s a win for a small blog like mine! I’m still working on building my social media presence on the big three (Twitter, Facebook, and Instagram). My communities on those sites are all growing fairly consistently. I’m learning how to design compelling pins with calls to action on Pinterest, and using to Tailwind to ensure that my pins get seen. Tailwind is a lifesaver when it comes to Pinterest, if you aren’t using it already you need to check it out.
Blogging is time Consuming
It may only take me an hour to write a blog post, but it takes about five total hours to get that post published. It takes another few hours to market the post correctly. All in all, I probably spend 8 hours per week on just one blog post.
But that’s not all! In order to stay relevant on social media and ensure I’m creating an engaged community, I need to do much more than just promote my blog. I need to share my blogging friend’s blogs and comment on their posts. I need to maintain a social media presence by posting engaging content that isn’t necessarily related to my blog. Although I enjoy doing all of these things (Blogging is a labor of love, after all), it’s incredibly time consuming. I probably spend about five hours per week on social media, just engaging with people and posting things to help build my community.
Blogging is NOT easy money
There are so many posts about “How I made 10K my first month blogging” that it seems easy to the casual observer. It’s not easy. Sure, some people get lucky and blow up right away, while others have experience in related industries that give them a leg up – and Kudos to them! However, most people aren’t going to make money during their first month of blogging. That’s just not how it works!
It takes most bloggers over a year to really start seeing progress on their blogs (or maybe I just want to tell myself that so I don’t feel bad that I haven’t gotten there yet). But seriously it takes a long time to build your Domain Authority – which is what search engines use to rank the relevancy of your website. It takes a long time to build a community and a social media following. And you need to build both of those things before you will see any income through your blog. I’ve been blogging for a year now and have only made a few bucks through affiliate marketing.
A lot of bloggers make a good portion of their incomes off of affiliate marketing. This is where you post a link to a product or website and earn a commission if someone uses your link to buy something. I’m only a member of a few affiliate programs – Amazon is the big one – but I barely made enough money via affiliate advertising this year to cover the cost of my domain (that was like 12 bucks). I made a grand total of $13.37 on Amazon for the year. Go me!
But if you do some research and read income reports from established bloggers, you will notice that Amazon is not a huge money maker for anyone. Yeah, they get between $300 and $500 a month from it, but that’s really just a tiny portion of their incomes. There are tons of other affiliates that pay way more, and I’ve only just barely dabbled in them. One of my goals for this year is to find other profitable affiliate programs that fit in well with the blog, so I don’t rely on Amazon as my sole source of income.
Flex Offers and Share a Sale
I’m also a member of both Flex Offers and Share-A-Sale affiliate programs – both of which I’ve made a big fat zero on so far. I think your success with these programs will depend on your niche and how much of the program you explore. As a personal finance blogger, there are very few companies on Flex Offers that fit in with my niche, and of those there are even less that I believe in enough to share with my readers. My first goal as a blogger is always to stay authentic, so I’m not going to promote products that I don’t believe in. I haven’t searched for many partners yet with Share-A-Sale, but they do partner with Tailwind. I’m going to focus more on that platform this year to see if they have any relevant partners.
But if you are going to make money from blogging, which is something that I definitely want to do, finding awesome affiliate partners is a must. I just signed up for a few different ones, so I’m hoping that my 2019 affiliate sales can beat my 2018 numbers ($15 isn’t much to ask, is it??).
Blogging is Awesome!
So if blogging is difficult, time consuming, and so far not profitable, why am I doing it? Because I love it! I’ve always loved writing, so writing for an audience (regardless of how small) is always fun. I also love learning new skills. Who would’ve thought I’d be able to reach three thousand twitter followers, or learn how to design t-shirts, or figure out how to drive (even a small few) people to my site view SEO? I learn something new about myself and about the industry pretty much every day, and it’s all been amazing!
If you are considering starting a blog, I have to say go for it! It’s actually a fairly inexpensive hobby! You can start for under $5 a month with BlueHost (and yes, this is one of the new affiliate programs I signed up for, but they are awesome, especially for new bloggers!). It’s not easy to make an income off of it, but with grit and dedication it really is possible (hopefully!). But even if you don’t make money off of it, any opportunity to develop yourself and learn new skills is a good thing. So give it a try! I’m so glad I dove back in to the blogging world with Partners in Fire. It’s been an amazing experience and I’m excited to see what my second year brings!