Growing a Blog – Blog Traffic Post #1: Sept. 2017

Blogging is an interesting beast. On one hand, people will tell you it’s easy. This is mostly true in the sense that none of the component tasks are too difficult:

  • read to keep your head churning with ideas,
  • write your ideas (hopefully coherently) into a computer terminal,
  • add pretty pictures you found on the internet or took yourself,
  • tell people you wrote something so they can come see it.

See? Not hard! The trouble is that each of these bullet points is far more intricate than you realize, and balancing all of them at the same time is a full time job. And if you’re like the Handy Millennial, you already have one of those!

How is this intricate, you may ask? Well my dear reader, here is a partial and admittedly poor representation of the challenges a blogger faces.

  • read to keep your head churning ideas:
    • Well sure, but read what?
    • Also, how do you maintain time to read while having to catch up on all these new things to do?
    • And once you have a writing schedule, how do you keep those ideas flowing?
  • write ideas you form in your head into a computer terminal:
    • Great, I’ve been doing this since 3rd grade, but how do you parse your text so that the general audience can read it and enjoy it?
    • How do you write the text so that people can comfortably read it on a mobile device?
      • Hint: It ain’t what your English teacher would call good prose!
  • add pretty pictures you found on the internet:
    • How do you find a picture that is free and fits your intent?
    • What happens if you use the same picture another blogger used? How do you stand out?
  • tell people you wrote something so they can come see it:
    • This is probably the biggest challenge. No promotion, no blog.
    • There are 1000 ways to market your blog – where do you start?
    • How do you resist marketing FOMO?

Why log the progress?

All this being said, blogging is a great activity. In just two short months, I can feel my writing improving, my social media savvy improving, and best of all, my community of fellow bloggers growing. Blogging is not only a team sport, it is a social activity. If you start a blog but fail to connect to other bloggers, then you will most likely fail.

This is why the golden rule of social media is “Be Nice!” 

All this being said, it’s a bit tough to keep motivated with the onslaught of the learning curve of blogging.  You might notice many bloggers feature trackers of some sort. This is because trackers keep you motivated when the external motivation is not so powerful! And win or lose, it’s all in your head, so you must keep motivated!

In the personal finance community, the trackers are often Net Worth or Blog Income. These are great trackers because money is inherently interesting. Try this as an experiment. Walk to your neighborhood coffee shop with a friend and start talking about your money. See how many people start giving you the sideways glance. You’ve just started the equivalent of a personal finance blog, but in real life.

Now the Handy Millennial would like to track some metrics as well, in order to:

  • maintain blogging motivation,
  • observe and record progress for better reflection,
  • provide a guide for new bloggers.

That last point is pretty important because as a new blogger, I have found few resources on the internet to help me gauge my progress. Sometimes I stumble upon bloggers with absolutely amazing results: 1 month blogging: 5,000 readers, 3 months blogging: 20,000… you get the point.

But these numbers are far from realistic for most people. The learning curve is just too dang steep and the time commitment while working a 9 to 5 (or more) is too large. So far I think the Handy Millennial is progressing smoothly given my personal time constraints and what I know about writing/social media/promotion.

But let’s see how things are really going.

Blogging Month Accomplishments

September was my first full month blogging. It was a wild ride. This month I am still figuring out what my blogging voice is and which features would be most interesting to my blogging audience.

This is not to be mistaken with pandering to my audience. You see, my dear reader, no audience = no blog. So while you must write authentic, true-to-yourself content, it must also be tuned to the audience you have. Otherwise this is all just an exercise in futility.

In September, I published 9 posts. The response was mostly good. My top 3 posts by the numbers are:

  1. Shave like your Grandpa
  2. History of Retirement
  3. Expectation Inflation

Social Media FTW

Social Media became a big part of my life in September. Before blogging, I was not a believer in social media. To be honest, I’m still not. But before you throw your pitchforks, hear me out.

Social media is a great tool for connecting to people, but it’s also a great tool to waste your time. Blogging has more or less confirmed this. But as stated above “no audience = no blog,” so social media has become a lifeline for the Handy Millennial. I could not imagine how a page like this could possibly thrive without social media.

My current social media of choice is Twitter. Here are some interesting Stats:

  • Number of Tweets: 264
  • Number of times people saw my tweets: 25.3K (Holly Cow!!!)
  • Number of times people thought I was interesting: 862 (I’d like to thank my parents 🙂 )
  • Number of people who care enough to listen: 204 (Thank you to each and every one of you!)

Visitor Stats

Of course Twitter stats are interesting, but only because they are a proxy for the number of visitors to my nascent blog. To that end, Google Analytics tells me that in September I had:

  • 168 users that came to my site (that excludes me on all my devices!)
  • 268 sessions – OMG some people came back (40% to be exact).
  • 436 page views. Darn, I didn’t crack 500, but maybe next month!

Conclusion

So there it is! The birth of a blog! I would love to hear from my fellow readers and bloggers. What do you guys think so far? Comments, questions, suggestions are welcome! (please keep the fangs back if you can! 🙂 ) Oh and make sure to check back next Thursday to see how October went!

18 thoughts on “Growing a Blog – Blog Traffic Post #1: Sept. 2017

  1. Nice! I didn’t set up analytics till a couple weeks in, so I don’t even know what my traffic was like at first…but I know I was getting probably 10-15 page views a day about two months in, so you’ve got a one-up on me there 🙂 Still slowly growing, but I’ve been super bad on actually promoting my blog much.

    Keep up the good work, looking forward to how these progress!

    • Hi Dave, thanks for stopping by! Sounds like we are are on a similar trajectory. That’s cool! It’s really hard to know at first how you are doing. I can hardly wait to be a year in and look back on these. Promoting is a big time consumer. It’s actually tougher than writing for me. Although I do learn about your newest posts on Twitter! So something must be going right 🙂 Anyway, stay tuned! month 2 will come out next Thursday!

  2. reading your post I just realize today is my first month anniversary too! Congratulations, I will keep following you! I’m sure we’ll both grow our audience!

    • Hi Celine! Thanks for stopping by. Looks like you have a nice blog started yourself! I like that you are French and living in Ireland. That’s quite different than most of the blogs I follow. I look forward to reading more about your experiences!

  3. I love this post. It’s my life to a T right now. I thought blogging would be easy and it was…until I realized I needed to market it to get people to show up. The marketing stuff takes time I don’t have! The good news is that everything seems to be growing. Here’s to figuring it all out together!

    • Hi Jason! Thanks for stopping by again. Yeah, its quite a bit more work than expected but I’m also learning so fast. It’s really cool to see how a brand is built! It makes me understand so much of what goes on around me in the media and in social media.

      I’m glad to hear your blog is growing as well. This truly is a team sport and the amazing thing about the personal finance blogging community is that it has been my team since day 1. Amazing.

  4. Those are pretty good numbers for your first full month of blogging. My first month saw 4 visitors and 6 page views. Second month? 9 visitors and 26 page views. Haha, the definition of slow and steady.

    Blogging is definitely a time suck. And like most things in life, it’s all about balance so that you don’t burn yourself out.

    Looking forward to your next update!

    • Thanks Random Guy Online! Looking at your blog it looks like you’ve come a long way. I appreciate the encouragement! I definitely need to pace myself a bit better. It’s definitely like a tsunami at first. Next update is next Thursday :).

  5. Blogging is definitely way harder than I ever thought it would be. For me the best part has been the community along with improving my writing skills. I have become a lot more confident with my writing which has translated at work 🙂

    • Hi mustard seed money, thanks for stopping by! I wholeheartedly agree with that! The community is awesome. I can also already see the benefits of constantly writing. I think there is a hidden feature in there too, organizing the flow of your presentation. Although maybe that gets tucked into writing.

  6. Good work keep it up!
    The hardest thing IMO is defining success. For me, I’ve decided at this point that a post a week is my success. So I’m not too worried about page views, just decent content.

    • Hi Actuaryonfire! Thanks for stopping by. I really enjoy your posts. Great point you are making here. What is your success metric? I think that’s a problem in every activity we do. It’s not always obvious what we should aim for. My goal right now is to reach people, I’m enjoying the social aspects of this blog so page views are a logical way to measure this. No promises though on the future, if there is one thing I’ve learned is that my tastes/goals/direction change as I learn and grow.

  7. “So while you must write authentic, true-to-yourself content, it must also be tuned to the audience you have. ”

    Well said. This is exactly makes a blog successful. Gotta be you…but not ONLY you, all the time. It’s a delicate balance, but I think you’re doing great!

    Keep up the good work!

    • Hi FireCracker! Thanks for stopping by! Wow I’m so flattered you read my post. I’ve been reading your blog since almost the beginning and I love the way you guys write. I look forward to reading more of you guys and I hope we get a chance to chat some more.

  8. I recently started blogging as well and it is not easy work.

    Im on leave from work to take care of the baby, and between the blog and the baby, I feel way more busy than I do at work…

    Interesting post though! I keep track of my numbers though a spreadsheet (I keep track of half of my life through one spreadsheet or another), just to hopefully see them grow month after month.

    • Hi Gabe! So glad you had the chance to stop by. I don’t even know how you found the time with a new baby! Good luck!

      It’s interesting I’m busy but really engaged. Something about it is different than being at work.

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