This year will mark three years of blogging for me.
It’s been a real rollercoaster of ups and downs, and a massive learning curve for me.
You spend ages focusing on one strategy or one thing, only to realise that actually is not the best way to grow your business.
In the beginning I wasn’t even thinking of this blogging thing as a business! But these days I’ve realised that I can make good money blogging, and so I need to have a business head on with every decision I make.
That means I now focus only on the things that will give me a decent return on my investment of time.
However hand-in-hand with that I also need to think about areas for growth, so things that may not be making me much money now but have the potential to give me something back in the future.
I have a few targets for my blog and social media channels this year. I want to be really realistic this year, as while it’s great to aim high, this is a seriously competitive world that I am working in!
The market for mummy bloggers is absolutely flooded. There are thousands of mum blogs. While only a few could be deemed successful in the sense that they make the owner massive amounts of cash every year, it still means it’s a tough playing field.
So for me it’s not so much about clawing my way to the top as it is about playing the long game and focusing only on myself and my own goals.
Comparison truly is the thief of joy, and that is never more true than when applied to blogging. It can be easy to compare stats, the number of likes you get on your pictures on Instagram and how effortlessly another blogger appears to grow.
This can leave you completely demotivated, and in blogging you really need that motivation!
Stop comparing your reality to the impression you get of other blogger’s successes. It’s impossible to really know what’s going on behind the scenes and the numbers of other bloggers. So stop comparing and start focusing on your own path.
Anyway, my goals for this year are:
- Finish and release my book. It’s written! It needs polishing, proofing, formatting and a cover. This is a lot of work to do alongside all of my other work, but I’m determined to get this done. Selling a product through my blog should hopefully bring in some additional income.
- Reach 100k page views per month on my blog. I currently get around 60k page views per month. I think 100k is realistic given where I am now. The more traffic I get, the more money I earn through MediaVine, which is the agency that puts ads on my site. I currently make about £1,000 per month through MediaVine. It’s awesome!
- Hit 5k subscribers on YouTube. I’m currently at 2k.
- Hit 10k followers on Instagram. I have a love/hate relationship with this platform. On the one hand I love chatting to fellow mamas on there. On the other hand when a post totally bombs I feel rubbish. But brands care about Instagram so I’m going to keep plugging away at it.
- Launch a second blog. Crazy right? But I want to take all of my knowledge about SEO, site speed and content and start completely from scratch. Domain name is bought, first pieces of content are done. I can do this, although it may be neglected in the first half of the year.
So those are my ambitions for the blog this year. Pretty lofty but I don’t feel daunted. How am I going to do this? Check out these tips for growing your blog in 2020:
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1. Focus on SEO
Of all the things I wish I had done from day one with my blog, SEO is the number one. I wish I had really paid attention to SEO best practice and applied it to every post.
But I’ve learned loads in the last couple of years and I’m now putting that to use. I currently get around 200 hits from Google per day. That’s better than I used to get! I hope this will really grow over the next year.
I have an entire post on SEO tips, but these are the key things to bear in mind:
- Google is not a keyword machine. Don’t write your posts with keywords overflowing from every sentence. Google is smarter than that. Yes, having a keyword to focus on does work, but make your use of keywords natural, not like a machine has written your content.
- Write content that answers the question thoroughly.
- Link between posts. You should be linking between your posts two to three times in each post.
- Add alt-text to your images and make sure the images you add have a name that is relevant to the post.
- Use H2 subheadings. Google picks up on these so use relevant key words and phrases in your subheads.
2. Niche it down
If you’ve been blogging for a while then chances are you have a bit of a niche already. While some blogging experts say you should niche right down as much as possible, I’ve narrowed my blog down to a few key strands. These are:
- Baby’s first year
- Toy reviews
- Cleaning and organising
Now, another more experienced blogger would tell me that cleaning should not be in my list, that’s a whole other blog on its own. Well I get traffic to those type of posts and I love writing them, so I’m sticking with it.
So should you niche? Yes, but if you love to write about a particular topic and that topic will be of interest to your audience, then do it.
3. Write loooooong content
I used to think 500 words was the magic number. I hit publish and boom, I was done.
But Google likes long content that thoroughly answers every little thing about a topic.
Having said this, I have a couple of number one on Google posts that are less than 1,000 words. So it’s not an exact science by any stretch of the imagination!
If you can answer the question your post poses thoroughly in 500 words, then great. However for me the best posts are at least 1,500 words, preferably 2,000.
I’m not just thinking about Google here though! The longer my posts are, the more money I make from my MediaVine advertising as my readers are shown more ads. I want people to stay on my site for longer, so I need to write longer content that keeps them reading!
On the subject of MediaVine, a lot of what I do with my blog now involves thinking about how I can improve my income from ads. This is a minefield in itself!
It’s about more than just clicks to my site. It’s about having long content and lots of content that keeps them bouncing all over different pages on my site. I still have tons to learn
It’s also about having a site that’s fast. Now, my page speed is not great and it’s something I really need to deal with this year. This is important because a reader doesn’t want to wait 10 seconds for a page to load. They want it right now!
I’ve tried to improve my page speed with my own poor technical knowledge, but at some point I will need to get an expert in to improve things. Minefield!
4. Write more useful content
A few years ago a little-known blogger called The UnMumsy Mum started sharing blog posts about her parenting journey to Facebook. She went viral multiple times and landed a book deal, which led to more book deals.
I’m making an assumption here, but from what I could tell in the early days, her success was largely down to blog posts going viral on Facebook. She shared a link, it blew up.
These days going viral on Facebook by sharing a link to a post is nearly impossible! Facebook’s algorithm massively hampers posts that share links to external websites. Facebook wants its users to stay on Facebook.
So the message here? If you want to be a blogger who writes fun, witty, emotive, relatable content, just share every word straight into Facebook. Don’t bother link dropping because Facebook won’t show it to anyone!
But if you want to get more blog traffic (because blog traffic can be used to make money via advertising and sponsored posts), you need to focus on other sources. Write content that will get picked up by Google (see the first tip) and do well on Pinterest. That’s where you will get blog traffic that makes an impact.
That’s not to say Facebook can’t get you traffic. It absolutely can! I’m just saying that three years ago my blog got most of its traffic from Facebook. Today I share a post and am lucky to get 10 clicks. And I have 10,000 followers on Facebook!
Write content that helps people in whatever niche you’re in. Think about what they need help with, what questions they might have and provide the answers.
5. Make beautiful pins
If you want to get traffic from Pinterest then you need to make gorgeous pins that people want to click and save.
I use Canva, the free version. I get stock images from Shutterstock, Pixabay and DepositPhotos.
Pinterest brings in 90 per cent of my traffic, so it’s important for my pins to be right!
The best pins, for me, have clear headlines that people can easily read. While there’s no exact formula to follow to get a pin to take off, I’ve found that ones with a beautiful image and a catchy headline help massively.
My biggest pins of the second half of 2019 were these, both about maternity leave:
6. Perfect pinning strategy
It’s not just about making one pin and then sitting back to see the hits roll in.
I make three to five brand new pins a day. These pins are either for brand new content I just wrote, or for old evergreen content.
I try to make new pins for old content that I haven’t promoted on Pinterest for a few weeks.
I pin that new pin straight to Pinterest with a great, keyword rich description and three to four hashtags. I then add that pin to Tailwind, adding it to my Tribes and then adding it to my queue so that it can be pinned to my other relevant boards.
I have cut way back on my use of group boards in the last six months. My traffic has not suffered so I’m not sure if that means group boards are dead or not.
What does work for me is starting great boards with a detailed description, keyword rich title and then populating those with good, relevant content.
I read one blogging expert say you should be creating new personal boards every month, at least two to three, and delete boards that aren’t doing well.
I have a whole post on pinning, but just to add a few more key tips:
- Be present in Pinterest every day for at least 10 minutes and manually pin both your own content and other people’s content.
- Make sure you create boards with potential overlap for your pins. So for example I have a Baby’s first year, Baby tips, and newborn care boards which could all take the same type of pins.
I thoroughly recommend Carly’s Pinterest course, Pinteresting Strategies. It’s absolutely fantastic and has helped me so much with my pinning strategy.
7. Guest post on other sites in your niche
Not only does guest posting potentially get you some clicks back to your site, but it can improve your DA thanks to the backlink.
I have not been great at building backlinks in the last year and it’s something I really need to invest a bit of time in. As if I don’t have enough to do already!
8. Polish old posts
An old post could suddenly become your biggest traffic driver of the month!
This has happened to me several times. Posts that I had written off or thought would never do well suddenly get 10,000 hits in one month!
Look at your old posts and add additional words where relevant. Create new pins for those old posts, and add new images with alt-text featuring your keywords.
Never write off an old post as being dead and gone. You can always breathe new life into something!
For example, I have a review of a car seat. I wrote it nearly two years ago. I gave it a once over and it now brings in 10 hits from Google per day. Not mega traffic, but it’s nice to get some extra traffic even if it’s low.
9. Never stop learning
You are never done when it comes to blogging, There’s always a change to an algorithm or a new theory about growing traffic, or a new platform.
Keep learning! Join some blogging groups on Facebook. They are the best source of info when it comes to strategies and new trends that are working for other bloggers.
There are courses out there that claim to teach the best blogging strategies for hundreds of pounds. I’ve spent a few quid here and there on blogging resources. I draw the line at anything that costs more than £100 and I thoroughly research anything before I invest in it.
The truth is, there is tons of free advice out there. You just need to know where to look! I do recommend Elna Cain’s Ready Set Blog for Traffic course though, it’s really thorough and full of brilliant tips.
Invest some time in networking online with fellow bloggers and Google topics that you want more information on. The learning never ends!
I hope you found these tips useful and it gives you some ideas for where to take your blog in 2020.