I’ve just posted my 100th article on Money Nomad! Crazy.
Over the last two years of trial and error blogging, I’ve slowly built up an audience and have even started making money from my blog. With Money Nomad receiving 15k-20k pageviews a month, and earning me $1k-2k/month, I’m happy with the direction the site is going.
Throughout this process I have learned a lot – and the purpose of this article is to share 10 of the most valuable lessons I’ve discovered during this adventure. Although some of these are obvious, I hope you’ll find at least a few points that you can implement into your own blogging.
Meanwhile, if you don’t have a blog, it’s time to get started! You’re missing out on an opportunity to develop your brand, share your thoughts, and even earn a few bucks. Jump over to my article, how to start a blog in 20 minutes to get started.
And now, from my victories, failures, successes, and embarrassments, here are 10 blogging lessons I’ve learned from publishing 100 blog posts on Money Nomad. Enjoy!
1. Find a niche that you’ll be able to write about consistently – and write consistently
I cannot emphasize the value of finding a niche enough. You can always change the focus of your blog over time, but the sooner you find your niche, the sooner you’ll start growing the right audience.
When I initially launched Money Nomad it was more of a personal finance blog – but there are a lot of great personal finance bloggers and it was hard for me to stand out. Then, when I decided to change my focus in early 2016 to personal finance and entrepreneurship for digital nomads, I suddenly started seeing my traffic grow and a following began to develop.
It’s also important to chose a niche that you’ll enjoy writing about consistently. Although I’m not the best at consistency, I’ve discovered that my traffic is substantially higher when I post 3+ articles a week then when I write one a week. So treat your blog like a job and publish consistently.
2. List and How-to articles work because that’s what people Google
There have been a few posts on Money Nomad that I believe are incredible. They’re essays discussing some profound element of life. Unfortunately, no one ever reads these.
Instead, people read my list articles (like 100 Ways to Make Money Online, which has been shared over 1.2k times), and how-to articles (like my series How to Quit Your Job and Become a Digital Nomad in 90 Days).
If you really want to write content that people read, pay particular attention to your article titles. As much as it shames me to say, if you jump over to Buzzfeed and copy a few of their title formats, you’ll be off to a great start. You can also use Coschedule’s free title analyzer to evaluate the quality of your titles.
3. Names, names, names – the more you mention other bloggers, websites, influencers, and your fans, the faster you’ll grow
Who’s your favorite person in the world? Who do you spend more time thinking about than anyone else?
The answer: you. And everyone else is exactly the same.
This is great news for bloggers because it means that people are always excited to see their favorite topic (themselves) discussed by someone else!
One of my most read articles is How to Quit Your Job and Become a Digital Nomad: 35 Experts Share. While part of the article’s success was that it was a list and provides a lot of ideas to future digital nomads, a huge portion of the success came because I mentioned 35 other people in the article.
When the article went live, I had 35 people who immediately shared it across their social media profiles – to people who were excited to read about their friend discussed in an article.
I love to share posts written about me as well. That’s why I am always eager to discuss the bloggers who mention me, like Andrew from Nomad Capitalist, Eric from EricBowlin.com, Brian from Self Publishing X, and Ross from PersonalIncome.org. I’m flattered to be discussed and I love sharing these posts with my network because it helps the other bloggers and builds further credibility for my own brand.
The more you talk about other people in your articles, link to their sites, and allow them to guest post for your website, the faster your own site will grow.
4. Start building your email list from day one
Another thing I really didn’t take seriously until about 9 months ago was building my email following – and that was a big mistake.
As soon as I started collecting email addresses and sending out a regular (for the most part) newsletter, my traffic saw a substantial jump. Suddenly I have a massive list of people who I can direct to anything that I believe is worthwhile.
Although I first used MailChimp for my email because they have a free version, I wish I had just started with Aweber for $19/month as I lost a few subscribers when I transferred over. If you aren’t committed to your blog, I recommend starting with MailChimp. However, if you want to take your blog seriously, sign up for a 30 day free trial to Aweber to see if it’s right for you – I haven’t turned back!
Also, I recommend using SumoMe to collect emails with attractive popups and hellobars. SumoMe offers a lot of amazing tools (all with a free version) to collect emails, track your followers, and encourage sharing. Download it right away – even if all you use is the sharing functionality. I just upgraded to the paid version, but you can do a lot with the free options.
5. Make an effort to monetize your blog as soon as you can
The sooner you can start making money from your website, the sooner you can start investing more into continuing to grow it.
Now that I’m making $1000-$2000/month from my blog, I’m able to invest more of my own time, and even hire other people to help me further grow the site. And the more you grow your site, the more money you’re able to earn – so it’s a cycle that you want to start as soon as possible!
The two ways you can make money directly from your blog are by selling advertisements/sponsored posts, or by using affiliate links (in my opinion, Google Adsense isn’t worth your time).
Although it can be difficult to get sponsors for your blog when it’s small, it doesn’t hurt to create a “work with me” or “sponsors” page right away. My own Work With Me page, which you can see mentioned on my sidebar, sends over 4-8 potential sponsors a month. Although many are not brands I wish to work with, I do find a few.
You can also reach out to brands directly. This can be challenging, but if you start with brands that you use, follow you on Twitter, or have paid for sponsored posts on other blogs, you may be able to find a few sponsors relatively fast.
This is where you should start from day one. As soon as you can, join the affiliate platforms on Amazon, ShareASale, and FlexOffers. Between these three platforms you can advertise thousands of products – from books on Amazon, to survey sites on ShareASale, to $150 sign up bonuses from Motif Investing on FlexOffers.
Once you have been accepted into a few programs that you believe are related to your brand, start sharing the links with friends and family. After all, if your parents or siblings are going to make a purchase on Amazon, why not go through your link so that you can earn a 4-8% commission?
It takes time to learn how to create articles that aren’t spammy, but still encourage people to use your affiliate links. If you are willing to invest $197 into learning how to do this, it may be worth taking the Making Sense of Affiliate Marketing Course (which I have taken and wrote a review about).
Meanwhile, if you have more time than money, all you need to do is look at websites that are making money from affiliate advertising and copy what they do. Look at the top blogs and simply borrow their formats, links, etc.. (Bonus tip: start by creating a recommendations page right away).
6. Use traditional social media, but experiment with other tools
Personally, I’ve received a lot of extra traffic from Reddit, and find Quora and Hubpages to both be very good at bringing traffic to my blog as well.
In short, develop a consistent social media strategy, and then experiment with other ideas to drive additional traffic to your site.
7. Network with other bloggers, thought leaders, and influencers at your level
While mentioning other bloggers is important, it’s equally as important to build relationships with them over time. Comment on other people’s blogs, share their posts on Facebook and Twitter, and shoot them an email now and again.
When you start responding and reposting someone on Twitter, it doesn’t take long before they start noticing you – which can result in that person becoming an active member of your site as well. Before you know it, you are both benefiting from the interaction.
Although I really need to improve my own networking, over time I have gotten to “know” many other bloggers who share their thoughts, advice, and opinions with me. Meanwhile, when one of us has something big to promote, the other is more than happy to assist.
Your success in life will always be tied to other people. The better you are at winning friends and influencing people (a worthwhile book to read by the way), the more successful you’ll be – and the more of an impact you’ll have on other people’s success.
8. Don’t be afraid to invest in tools, assistants, and education – it quickly pays for itself
Starting out it was difficult for me to spend any money on my blog. I didn’t even like spending $1.99/month for hosting, and the thought of investing $19/month into Aweber, $5 for title images on Fiverr, or $197 in an affiliate marketing course, just killed me!
And while you should always be smart with your money, I realized that using the right tools could save me hours a week – and help grow my blog substantially faster! If you make $25/hr, then spending $20 to save 4 hours of your time isn’t such a bad idea!
As you’ll see in my next income report, I’ve decided to start investing substantially in tools, education, and assistance from other people.
Personally, I’m still skeptical of most courses, as many seem to be helping the person selling the course more than the students. However, I have purchased a couple.
Meanwhile, I have saved countless hours, grown my blog faster, and maximized my profits by investing in these services:
- Aweber for my emails.
- SumoMe for my social media sharing tools, popups, and many other great features.
- Tailwind for Pinterest management.
- PicMonkey for creating title images (my assistant uses this).
- Fiverr to find virtual assistants for small tasks
I’ve also started bringing on friends, acquaintances, and strangers alike to help further expand the Money Nomad brand – but I wouldn’t recommend bringing a lot of people on until you have a strategy in place (which I am discovering over time).
Be smart and intelligent about investing money into your blog (especially if it isn’t earning anything), but remember that smart investments will offer an impressive ROI and can more than pay for themselves in no time at all.
9. When you’re ready to give up, don’t. You may be almost there!
I’ve launched and shut down more than half a dozen sites over the years. Why? Because I would try something, wouldn’t see the traffic and success I was hoping for, and then got bored and decided to try something else.
That’s a big mistake! Some of my first blogs were launched 8 years ago. If I had kept those up I am sure that they would be making $100k/year or more. But hey, you live and learn.
In fact, I almost gave up on Money Nomad at the end of 2015. I was thinking about a new focus for a blog and thought maybe I should just let Money Nomad go. But then, when I realized I was getting about 150 views a day from the blog, I decided to give it one more shot.
And I’m glad I did! My blog was making close to nothing for many months, and then suddenly it started earning me thousands of dollars.
If you’re feeling discouraged, but you are seeing some traffic on your website, don’t give up. Instead, ask yourself how you can improve your site – and see what happens! You may be just a few weeks away from a major success.
10. Treat blogging like a fun experiment and don’t be afraid to make mistakes
I’ve made some serious flops with Money Nomad; sent out emails with the subject line spelled incorrectly; and have had all kinds of typos in my articles. A few of my posts have even accidentally offended people!
But that’s okay! It’s a fun adventure for me – and I’m not going to let a few mistakes stop me from having fun. Additionally, I’m starting to discover that my blog is actually helping people! And that’s an exciting place to be.
Anytime you start writing it can be a bit intimidating. After all, you’re putting yourself out there – allowing the world to critique, judge and condemn your writing. But if you learn to ignore those people, and realize that there are people who actually enjoy and benefit from your writing, you’ll find the inspiration to continue on.
Besides, some of the worst mistakes turn into the best blog posts.
If you don’t have a blog yet, check out my article on how to start a blog in 20 minutes and get going! A blog is a great way to express yourself, develop a personal brand, and perhaps even make a few dollars in the process.
BONUS: Always focus on adding value – to readers, advertisers, and other influencers
When it comes to succeeding as a blogger, following the word’s of Jesus are a good idea regardless of your religious views: “Do to others as you would have them to do you” (Luke 6:31).
If every article you write is about you, if you are always trying to scam advertisers into paying you more, and if you constantly ask other influencers to share your content without reciprocating, you’ll have a hard time succeeding.
Instead, make every effort to add value to every interaction. Write articles that benefit your readers. Receive fair compensation for your sponsored content – but make an effort to surprise the advertiser with additional value. And try to share other people’s content more than they share yours.
As a blogger you can never give too much. The more you contribute to others, the more you’ll receive in the end.
As you continue to contribute value through your site, you’ll discover that you have a following, you’re making money, and most importantly, your writing is actually changing people’s lives for the better! And that’s every writer’s dream.
For the comments: Are there any blogging tips I should add to this list? What activities or discoveries have helped you grow your blog? Or, if you’re just getting started, do you have any other questions about how to establish and grow your website?