Getting a blog off the ground was much harder work than I expected. I've compiled my tips and tricks for growing an audience and increasing affiliate sales - hopefully it'll save you some time and energy as you start your new blog (or revamp your existing blog)!
Disclosure: some of the links below are affiliate links. If you purchase a linked item, I will made a commission, at no extra charge to you. As an Amazon Associate, I earn from qualifying purchases.
*Post updated July, 2019
Thanks for stopping by and welcome to the *blogging journey*! I hope the tips below will help jump start your blogging career and get you off to an amazing start. But, always remember, it takes time (and a shocking amount of hard, and sometimes tedious, work). Most importantly, don't give up if you aren't an "influencer" within a few weeks!
What to write about in a new blog
First things first. You need to decide what your blog is going to be about. Travel (that's my vote!), beauty, politics, fashion, celebrities - the world is your oyster! And yes, a lot of these topics are pretty saturated with other bloggers. As a travel blogger, I've definitely felt the effects. Let's just say I'm not the first person to write about Paris, let alone the first blogger! But, there's always room for more. Over time, you'll want to find your own space within the crowded field, but when you're first getting started, just go ahead and get typing. If I'm being honest, you're going to need to go back and clean-up old posts in the future.
Ok, here's the hardest part. What to write about. Everyone always says that one of the top mistakes new bloggers make is not writing about solutions to other people's problems, and I certainly did this. My first few blog posts were truly like journal entries - my "thoughts" and musings on a few topics. Not surprisingly, no one wanted to read my musings on why I liked going to Europe. Everyone likes going to Europe. I'm embarrassed that ever happened. However, I re-branded that article later as "How to Plan a Trip to Europe: 5 Easy Steps" and it's one of my better performing articles on Pinterest. My high school English teacher used to always tell us to just start writing and delete it later if we didn't like it - that getting started was the hardest part. And I think he's right. So, if nothing comes to mind, or you aren't ready for the "5 easy tips" approach yet, just start going. But remember, as time goes on, you need to start solving problems in your writing - in my field: giving people tips to save money while traveling, how to save the environment while traveling, how to explore a specific destination as a day trip (one of my mainstays), or how to pack for a specific place (another of my big ones). Just always keep this in the back of your mind.
My friend Ell writes a lovely blog covering these topics and so many more. She has a great post about how to come up with blog post topics, which I'm sure will help get the juices flowing!
How to promote a new blog on social media
Even when you're first getting started, one of your first- and correct- instinct is to promote your blog through social media. Over time, you should ultimately build out Instagram, Twitter, and Pinterest platforms, at a minimum. Many people's immediate inclination is to rely on Instagram as the social media platform to promote their blog, likely because we hear so much about Instagram "Influencers," and probably because many of us use Instagram in our personal lives.
However, experience has certainly taught me a few things. First, it's a bit hard to connect with your fellow bloggers on Instagram, both because it's a visual platform and because there are only very limited ways that you can share links that take uses outside of Instagram (to your posts, or to anything else). Second, it's not easy to "share" information quickly among large groups. Thus, in actuality, one of the best ways to integrate yourself into blogging community is through Twitter. I had never used Twitter much in my personal life, but there is no better place to make connections and to ask for advice from your fellow bloggers! Start by following a few bloggers in your field (or just general bloggers), to see what they post and learn from them, and then Twitter will start connecting you to other people in that field. Be sure to follow both large and small bloggers - you'll make genuine connections with both! Also, Twitter is universally acknowledged as the easiest social media platform to grow, so it's a great place to start! And remember - supporting others is more important than self-promotion.
How to promote a new blog on Pinterest
As far as social media, Pinterest is so important that it deserves its own category. To really grow your blog, you need to expand beyond your fellow bloggers (though they are, of course, amazing and wonderful!). The easiest way to do this is Pinterest.
It actually took me several months to even create a Pinterest account for the blog - it didn't even cross my mind! I'm not sure where I thought all of that great Pinterest content was coming from, but it's coming from bloggers just like you and me! And for me, Pinterest has been an absolute game changer - I get hundreds of visits to my blog each day from Pinterest alone, which is by far the highest referral rate of any one site (with Instagram being by far the lowest). Set-up a Pinterest business account (it's not as difficult as it sounds and it's free!) And start pinning! In the beginning, just get to know Pinterest if you aren't familiar with it, and pin content from others. Then, when you're ready to start making your own, don't be afraid to start pinning your own pins!
How to make Pinterest covers on Canva
Though it feels counterintuitive, focus not on pinning pretty pictures from your blog, but on making Pinterest "covers," as seen below, and at the top and bottom of this page, as well, in their natural habitat. "Pinterest covers" are essentially pins with the title of your blog article written across it.
You can make Pinterest covers using Canva - which is the Internet's gift to bloggers! It's free and easy to use - and you can even access free stock images to use as your backgrounds. Use bold fonts and interesting titles that encourage people to click through to your page. You can even look up lists of eye catching title ideas to spark your imagination - check Pinterest! It's all there. I did eventually pay for an upgraded subscription to Canva with more features, but new bloggers don't need to take that step quite yet.
Using Tailwind to manage Pinterest as a new blogger
If you start liking Pinterest and want to continue to grow it, I definitely have to recommend Tailwind, which works in conjunction with Pinterest to your pins at appropriate intervals, when people are active on the site. Additionally, it posts for you far more often than you reasonably could. If you're looking for more info about Tailwind- check out my post about it. I currently have over 600 pins "scheduled" and Tailwind will pin them to Pinterest without me having to do anything else. So while I'm sitting on the deck enjoying a Pinot Grigio at the end of a long day's blogging, my pins are being shared with thousands of people around the globe!
How to promote a new blog on Triberr
Triberr is a platform for groups of bloggers to connect and share each other's content. You sign-up, connect your Twitter account, and then the RSS feed on your blog (and you can update it for various pages) and it will import your blog posts onto the feed! It's not only a great way to get your content shared, but also a really good way to meet other bloggers, when you're just starting out. When I first read about Triberr, I thought that it would be pretty saturated with well-known bloggers and that no one would pay any attention to me, but that really couldn't be any further from the truth. In fact, I think that it has hit a bit of a lull, as a lot of the bigger names have moved onto other platforms, or just aren't uploading their content there anymore. Which is all a long way of saying that the time is right for new bloggers to hop on and start sharing!
One really helpful tribe I've found is the Hardcore Travel Tribe. If you blog about traveling to England and Scotland, I hope you'll consider joining my tribe!
How to Monetize a New Blog
How to monetize a new blog with Google AdSense
Most bloggers look forward to monetizing their site in someway. But, how to do it? The easiest monetizing approach for new bloggers is Google Ad Sense. Your blog "hosts" the ads. This means that the ads show-up on specific spots on your blog. Google selects which ads will go in those spots, so it will keep changing. And then, companies pay Google for facilitating this, and in turn, Google pays you, a very small fee when people view the ads, and a bit more for each click ($0.20-$0.55).
When you're just starting out, the GoogleAd Sense fees will be extremely small, sometimes even as minuscule as $0.01/day. So, just remember, it's a matter of time. Don't go too wild plastering them all over your blog and making it illegible. Frankly, in the beginning, that won't even increase your revenue because you just don't have enough traffic. The payment threshold is $100, meaning that no matter how long it takes, you won't get paid until you've made $100, so it can take quite a while to get your money. It took me about 6 months to get the first $100 and now I'm getting it about every other month, so be patient!
So that you can see what they look like - I've put a placeholder for an AdSense ad right below this paragraph - it will show an ad based on the cookies on your computer - so it will be different for each user.
How to make affiliate sales as a new blogger
In addition to hosting advertisements on your blog, there are several different ways to make "affiliate sales." Affiliate sales are where a company pays you a small amount if someone buys something you promoted through a link that you supplied, or when the buyer enter a promotional code that you gave them. These pay far more than Google Ad Sense, but you only earn if someone buys - you don't earn just for people being on your page or looking at the item.
I like to use a combination of both affiliate sales and Google AdSense. And, most importantly, remember, only promote things that you actually like. People can immediately tell if you're just trying to get them to buy random stuff. They won't buy whatever you're selling and...they won't come back for more.
Also, always include a disclaimer on each page on which you use affiliate links - people need to know that you are profiting from recommendations.
There are quite a few different platforms to easily get connected with companies who offer payment in exchange for sales. Of course another way to go about this is to just reach out to companies, but that should wait until you're established and/or have a relationship with the brand.
Here are some of the top platforms to connect you to these companies:
Thanks again for stopping by and best of luck with your new blog! Feel free to connect on Instagram or Twitter!
Don't forget to pin this for later!
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