So we’ve somehow hit Month 3 in this blogging adventure!
If you’ve been keeping up, you may have noticed that these traffic posts are some of my most successful posts to date. For this reason, I assembled them on their own special page, naturally titled Blog Traffic Reports, so that they are easy to find.
Now I’ve been thinking about why?, of all the things that I write here on the Handy Millennial, are traffic reports the most interesting to ya’ll? Well that’s a great question and I didn’t get clued in until I listened to the Do You Even Blog podcast with the Busy Budgeter (#9 if you’re curious). Here Rosemarie clued me in! For you new bloggers, blog traffic reports are about how you get people to your site. And blog income reports are about what is currently working in terms of bringing money from you blog.
OK, duly noted – so then without much ado, let’s see what we have learned in Month #3 and what is working right now!
Developing consistency and focus while learning the game
November was the second month that I was consistently posting two days a week. It’s becoming a bit of a chore. For those of you who never advertised your posting schedules, I see what you did there. At the same time, I think that the consistency has helped my writing style, my audience engagement, and growth. Something about putting yourself out there by promising to produce twice a week seems to resonate with readers.
Learning Blog Style Writing
Now a major theme at the Handy Millennial has been learning how to write blog-style articles. That’s easier said than done because learning to write in the blogging style is different than any other writing. How so? Well, is a blog post an essay? Kind of, but try to put up 2 pages of 5 paragraph style work and see what happens. Is a blog post a scientific article? Not really. You might link to some sources but by and large you are talking about things that you do not have a formal certification in. This is why you shouldn’t believe 100% everything you read. How about a newspaper article? Definitely not! Who is your secret source?
Yoast has been a big help because this plugin asks you to add headers, limit words under each sub-header, add keywords to stay on topic, etc. The end result is actually something that (a) looks like a blog, and (b) is readable in the same way that people expect to read a blog. It definitely takes longer to make each post like this, but the end product is much better. In fact, these days I actually start by planning out the post via headers and then fill out the rest. One of my finest works with regard to this was the recent post on using FIRE to learn how to plan. The great feedback I’m getting on this tells me that I may finally be coalescing on a way of writing that is most helpful to my readers.
Assembling Content in Topic Themes
A second major theme at the Handy Millennial has been grouping my posts into themes. These most naturally group into things that I actually enjoy – DIY, cars, personal finance, and inspiration. So in a way, one could say that the Handy Millennial is developing his niche. The funny thing about this is that if you asked me 3 months ago what my niche would be, I would have been stumped.
That’s pretty interesting because step 1 in most “How to Blog” articles is to pick a niche. For the new bloggers out there or would-be bloggers that are interested, I would offer the following backwards advice: Start writing; your niche will find you. That may seem flippant and it does assume that you have the perseverance to write for a while until something clicks in your brain, but for me, picking a direction at first has always been a challenge.
To start shaping the blog a bit more, I have assembled my posts into courses. I’ve updated the page School of Life and added a personal finance course and automotive DIY course. If you’ve been here since day 1 (wow, you’re awesome!), I am also slowly making my way through 21 days to being handy. Many of those posts will be done in the colder months.
Interacting with other bloggers
Another major theme of November has been blogger interaction. After reading on multiple blogs about commenting, I finally decided to get serious about this. Now at first, just like all other aspects of blogging, this is a bit bewildering. See, there is a big list of blogs, and they are constantly being updated. How should you choose where to comment?
At first, I commented on posts that I thought were interesting as they arrived via the Rockstar Finance feed. This quickly became overwhelming because I was getting comment replies and interactions from many different sides. But what I realized is that commenting is really about making friends with other bloggers. If you are new, stop and take in this for a moment. Commenting is really the main way that bloggers interact (at least at first). Later on you might go to FinCon, exchange emails, meet for coffee, whatever; but at first, no one knows who you are. Commenting is like walking up to someone and saying “Hello” but without the awkward “what do I say now?” moment.
So with this in mind, I now focus my commenting. I focus on bloggers that I find interesting and bloggers that are my friends. Hint! You won’t be #2 without being #1 🙂 I think this is how it work IRL too, right?!
Now obviously I can’t comment on every post, but I try to keep up at least somewhat. So who are these blogging buddies that I have? Well, check out the comments on this post below! (if you are reader #1 – so sorry!)
Mentions on other blogs
Now speaking of other bloggers, wowsers… November was month where a few bloggers decided to add me to their blog roundups! WOW! First of all, I’m so honored that you thought something I wrote was worth it. Second, that is so generous of you! (Aside for new bloggers: when a blogger adds you to their round-up, they are really sharing their followers with you. And for a new blogger that is absolutely incredible!)
So here are my shout-outs to Passive Income MD, My Money Wizard, and Married with Money. You guys rock!! For my readers, if you haven’t seen these blogs, they are all awesome and you should check them out. If you’re curious about what they liked, here it is:
Before I leave this section, I also want to thank everyone who has helped me by tweeting or re-tweeting my posts. I really appreciate the attention and help from each and every one of you! If you have any ideas on how we can help each other to promote content, please reach out.
OK, now let’s talk about social media. I love and hate social media. I love social media because without it, this little exercise would be exactly like running by yourself on a hamster wheel. Social media, and in particular Twitter, have been invaluable for finding you all (and for you finding the Handy Millennial). I hate social media because it sucks up your life. Don’t get me wrong, it’s great to connect with ya’ll, but the Handy Millennial is one guy and there are hundreds of millions of Twitter users constantly logging on to chat – day gone.
Shout out to Cubert from Abandoned Cubicle for his recent post on this. It’s true, we all know it, but we are all stuck. I certainly don’t want to promote the Handy Millennial with Lamp Post stickies. So until I get as famous as the Financial Samurai – social media, I love you!
Decelerating Facebook while starting Pinterest
Now not all social media is created equal. If they struggle to monetize, then they are probably the newbie blogger’s best friend. Example, Twitter – awesome!!! No start up cost, you can use free trials on auto-tweet promotion services, you can let people know you exist, all for free!
Facebook? Basically a money-making juggernaut, pay to play baby. The Handy Millennial is more or less a passion project right now. I’d love to leverage the power of Facebook, but I’m simply not paying money for advertising. If the Handy Millennial does make money some day, it’s pretty much guaranteed to go into more advertising – remember, reach matters.
Now I know some of you might say that you can post on Facebook groups and so on. But look, Facebook makes you spend your time or your money. That’s the gig. For my money at the moment, Twitter is better.
So I will maintain posts on the Facebook page, but I won’t really be spending much money or time promoting it.
While I’m decelerating Facebook, I’m starting Pinterest. Pinterest is a BEAST! to quote one of my blogging buddies, who shall remain nameless unless they identify themselves in the comments. Why? Because it’s hard to get followers, and the secret lies in the group boards. Group boards are not all equal: group boards whose collaborators have large followings – GOOD! Otherwise, meh.
Of course, you can grow your own starter board (and you should), but that takes time. So what you have to do is email lots of people asking them to get on their boards. Here I want to give a shout out to Sarah from Smile & Conquer, and Broke Young and Scraping By, for helping me to get started on group boards. You guys are awesome!!
Also, a shout out to a couple new bloggers who are banding together with me to get going on Pinterest: Jason from Winning Personal Finance, Melanie from Travels Near and Far, Laine from The Green Purpose, and Defined Sight. (If I’m forgetting someone, please accept my apologies).
To all you guys that have helped me so far, you guys rock!
The Twitter churn
Last but not least in my list of social media, is Twitter!! Twitter!! Love love love twitter. It’s where I got started and where most of my readers come from. I use Hootsuite to automate the post promotions, and I aim to spend my time on Twitter actually interacting with users.
One funny thing that happens is when users react to my auto-tweets. It’s almost like they are testing to see if I really am around. Well, I am! 🙂
Now this works really well because my followers are growing fast! Even readers that were with the Handy Millennial from the early days already are surprised at some of the older posts that they see.
One interesting aspect of Twitter is how your following grows. People really liked my comical sketch of the learning curve so I will repeat it here, but this time leverage it in growing a Twitter following.
See, your Twitter following is just like your learning curve. Your followers grow fast, then slow, then fast, then slow… repeat ad-nauseum. So what gives? Well, you see my dear reader, Twitter is full of other people trying to promote themselves just like you. So what happens is, when you produce some notable content, you generate some buzz. This buzz leads various marketing/consulting/advice businesses to follow you. They are hoping you sign up!
This kind of gets me wondering: do they think I will suddenly wake up and think “OMG I could buy some marketing advice, I DIDN’T KNOW this was possible!!” Well, if you are such a marketing agency, and you are reading this, I already know you exist! Surprise!!! But this is not my job, and I will not be paying you for your services. Thanks 🙂
So what happens is, these people will slowly unfollow you as they realize you won’t be buying their services. This leads to a slow drain on the number of your followers. Sometimes, even though you are getting lots of attention and you are promoting yourself, you feel like you are stuck on some X number of followers.
For example, the Handy Millennial has 905 followers right now. This has been steady since last Wednesday despite the fact that I was included in 2 blogging roundups and received numerous tweets and retweets. So what we have here is a slow rotation from marketing followers into real followers. This, of course, is much desired and welcome.
The important point here for new bloggers is that you will meet these levels of follow resistance, but they will pass. Just keep at it!
Blogging Month Accomplishments
How the posts are faring
Ok, so this post is getting longer and longer; let’s get to the point, shall we?
In November I published 9 posts. The response is great and growing. My top 3 posts by the numbers are:
Now that’s just one month. Let’s look at which of my posts have been most popular since the blog started. So far we have 34 published posts through the end of November. The top 3 posts are:
Let’s see the stats.
My current social media of choice is Twitter. Here are some interesting stats:
- Number of Tweets: 1,015
- Number of times people saw my tweets: 72.3K (Wow!!! How is this even possible?)
- Number of times people thought I was interesting: 3,625 (Cool! Let’s reach more people!)
- Number of people who care enough to listen regularly: 424 (Thank you to each and every one of you!)
Also, as discussed above, this month I also added a Pinterest profile. Stats so far:
- Number of Followers: 61
- Number of Boards Joined: 3
And finally, let’s see how my site fared. Did we reach our page view goals for November?
- 433 users that came to my site (+62% from October)
- 666 sessions – (40% return visitors! Yay! Also, up 98% from October)
- 1085 page views. (+86% – awesome, but now I’m a little scared to make a new goal. How about 1,500? 🙂 )
So there it is! Month three of blogging! As usual, I would love to hear from my readers and fellow bloggers. Let me know how I’m doing; all comments, questions, suggestions are welcome!