What I learned about Blogging in 10 months

We read a lot about how to start a blog, the correct niche, what works, and what doesn’t. What nobody tells you is that the road can be bumpy and it’s not that easy to write and make 10K a month working from home. Otherwise, everyone would be doing it. 

I’m not making money yet, what I’m sharing are a few steps to make it easier, and what I would like to know before I even started it.  

Here are some tips on what worked for me so far.

Choosing the right plan and platform. 

First and far most, choosing the website to host your blog will be a huge deal. I worked with most of it since I have been blogging with different platforms for 14 years. When I started, I used Blogger, which has a simple interface, and it’s easy if you want to test out your content and your niche.

I turned to Wix to host my Portfolio for Creative Writing school and it was chaotic, I couldn’t work with the columns. 

So when I decided to have my website and blog, I got WordPress basic, and once I started seeing a growth in my audience I upgraded to a Business account, that allowed me to choose in a variety of themes, Yost SEO among other important plugins

The niche is the most important aspect. 

When I first started, I had plans to write about my experience as an ESL writer in the USA, who has just graduated with a Creative Writing Degree. It worked while I was at school, but I didn’t have much to say after. I didn’t get any jobs in my field and decided to go full-time blogging. In the meantime, I learned about the audience I wanted to focus on and saw good potential if I stick to the subject. 

In the meantime, I realized that people like reading about: Food, Travel, Functional tips, like moving, adapting, creating, and Trash reality tv shows we all watch. 

Do your research about what you would like to talk about, your audience and what can you write about the subject. If you like Beauty and Fashion, make sure to be on point with what you writing, don’t derail. I do that a lot, as while I write about immigration and how life is here for an outsider, I also talk about the tv shows I enjoy watching.

In the past couple of months, I learned how to focus. My blog is a lifestyle blog and I write about my life here in America as an immigrant, the food I eat, and the places I visit. 

Social media is your friend (some more than others) 

As I’m still learning how to use Pinterest, I’m focusing on learning as the fantastic tool everyone its been telling me it is. Scheduling Pins has been a blessing and Canva is an amazing tool. What its been keeping my audience steady is some Twitter accounts like @usblogsretweet and @allthoseblogs where they do daily sharing threads with blog following and comments. Twitter has been my major traffic tool.

Schedule your pins to save you time. 

 Recently in my extensive research about how to improve the traffic on the blog, I learned about Tailwind. I’m still using the free version, but you can subscribe and schedule up to 400 pins a month. Marketing is what takes most of my time, as I do everything myself. Researching, writing, editing, posting, sharing, making pins, publishing it, tweeting, retweeting, engaging. It’s a full-time job. And only my ego gets paid.  

Participate in blogging groups and engage in social media. 

Being part of blogging groups will help you to stay motivated and learn more about what works or not. You will find out the necessary tools to improve traffic and realize it’s hard for most of us, beginners. I’m a part of a few Facebook Groups like Blogging for beginners and Creative Bloggers, where I receive daily updates on other people’s progress and some people asking the same question I had for the longest time and getting a few different answers.  

Keep a posting schedule. 

When I first started, I was posting once a month. And not sharing with anyone. I had no confidence about what I was writing and didn’t know that it is indeed a business. It’s not a hobby and if you want to succeed, but you will also have to put some time and dedication into it.

Unless you started with a whole team, that you can delegate tasks, so it doesn’t get hard on anyone. You will have to have a schedule and work it like a company to see results like a company. 

Post your own pictures, if possible. 

I’m trying to take photos related to what I’m posting, it’s better for the SEO. Most times, I use free stock image websites like PixalBay and Unsplash. Be careful of copyrights. 

Photo retrieved from Unsplashed

Create a Seo strategy and google analytics.

When you apply for the Business Plan at WordPress, the website offers you the plugin Yoast SEO, to help you to improve your chances to improve your traffic. Google Analytics will help you with extensive information about where your traffic is coming from. 

Don’t believe the hype. It’s hard and it cost money to make the wheel go round.

I have seen plenty of pins on Pinterest on how to grow your income to 10K a month blogging from home. I’m not even close to selling anything on my website, as I’m still applying to affiliated links this week, and the blog its been running for 10 months. I would not know how long it will take for me to make some income. 

Successful people tend to let you know they made it, they just don’t want to tell you the struggle it is. There is no point in being honest. And believe me, their advice is never free. All this free information comes with a course on how to make that money. I understand that it’s a business, but don’t trick me with a Pin that says one thing, and when I got the page, it’s all about your sales. 

What they also don’t tell you, is that you have to invest money in all these tools that they tell you to use. 

Believe in yourself as a random influencer believes in herself. 

I’m too awkward to even try to influence anyone.

First of all, believe in yourself and your content. There is nothing worse than finding a boring blog that says everything the same way the other ten thousand are saying. Be creative, be bold, be loud. I follow some blogs for a few years now, and they all have one thing in common, they are original and have original content. 

One of those is from Molly Yeh https://mynameisyeh.com/ She lives on a farm, cooks, and writes about her simple life, I follow her journey since 2015 and she inspired me a whole lot. Molly got her cook show called Girl Meets Farm, on FoodNetwork and that’s only one example of how far a successful blog can take you if you are true to yourself. 

About two months ago, I worked on a dinner event bachelorette party, with Chef Demeatrie, and the guest was just a super normal girl, who asked to take photos of the table we had just set up. “I’m an influencer”, she said and my mind immediately led me to “Great for you, for believing in yourself” 

I’m not an expert. I keep learning as I go.

My blog is still growing and I’m constantly improving. The steps above are what works to improve my traffic and get noticed. This week I will work on Affiliate marketing and Legal pages to add to my blog. I will let you know how it goes, as I promise I won’t sell classes next week!  

Be Safe! Stay healty!

J.G Snelly

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13 years of trial and error with blogs.

I had a few blogs before this one picked up pace and I will let you know why I think this one is finally working. I have been blogging and creating content since 2007, along with my Flickr account, I used to talk about my passions, such as travelling and photography.  It was a difficult time, most likely because I didn’t have a laptop or the internet speed required to keep the flow of the post, sometimes I think that at 21 years old, my voice and expectations were limited at that point of my life, I saw every dream I had falling through the cracks because of my financial status.

Working for the Lonely Planet Magazine was one of my early 20’s biggest dream

Working as a National Geographic Photographer was once my dream job, I also looked into writing for Lonely Planet guides and some other travel publications. Once again, I didn’t have a writing/communication degree, I was still working on my hospitality management bachelor’s, which I naively thought that would allow me to travel around the globe, to be adventurous with a camera while writing about it. The only thing this degree allowed me to do, was to be the front of the house employee, and work like my life depended on it. The first blog I had was called “Where the hell is Joana?”

“Where the hell is Joana?”

I created the blog in 2007, clearly inspired by the cartoon “Carmen San Diego”, so I could post about my experience with my internship abroad in Black Mountain, North Carolina, instead of sending emails for my friends. At that time Facebook was still not even close to being popular and abused by civilization, especially in Brazil, which only picked it up in 2010. (I had a whole 3 years of pure fun before the anarchy started.)  

The blog was full of widgets, like music, translation, photos on the post from the trip, a carrousel of nonsense. It was also written in my native language, Portuguese. That’s where my main problem came from. The moment people who knew you forever realize you are telling a story about something they are familiar with, they jump in and feel like judging what you are writing about, also who are you writing about. My biggest problem was with my mom. I couldn’t write anything without her nagging me, saying I was being over dramatic, she would not like her or my dad being exposed. Well, their story is kind of my story too, sorry. She would write me a long email or send me a message on MSN Messenger (remember that?) for me to delete certain things, or whatever she interpreted wrong. Censorship.

The time passed, I wrote less and less, in a blink of an eye, I was back home. Where the hell is Joana, well, she got back to her boring old life in Brazil.

I tried to keep the blog alive and I wrote a little about my experience in Australia, in 2010, but after that I let go of the idea of having a blog.

“What a Bao Asian”.

I love food and especially Asian cuisine. I worked for almost two years in a Macanese/Portuguese fusion restaurant the first time I lived in Chicago. Learning about their food, eating habits, and ingredients got me fascinated for the flavors and the creations on the menu. I have never been to Asia, by that time I decided I was going to create a food blog about Asian cuisine, I was living in Marietta, GA. Yeah, it had everything to work, but the only thing that worked was my Pinterest Board, with ideas of what I could cook, in order to post on the blog. I think I had two or three posts. It was incredibly hard to find Asian ingredients in Atlanta, my kitchen was tiny, and once again my mom made fun of me for creating a delusional blog. More like Julie Powell without succeeding. 

“Waitress in Wonderland”

I was furious with a comment I read on a Facebook post, from an acquaintance in Brazil, where she yelled “I rather be unemployed in Brazil, than be a waitress in someone else’s country.” Oh! Hi there! I live in “someone else’s country” and I’m a waitress, that doesn’t disqualify me from anything, in any possible matter. That doesn’t erase who I am, my goals, or what I want, because of the type of job I have to pay to fulfill my livelihood. I didn’t reply on anything, because it was not something related to what I posted, so I decided to create a blog, about how even though I was working as a waitress, I could still travel and have a fun life. My intention with that blog was eventually turned into a student travel blog, where I would go around showing cities that you could study abroad here in the United Stated. I once again, focused on the Brazilian audience and even though the website turned out pretty cool, I was paying the domain and the host for no reason. I was not traveling either. The travel blog without traveling was like the food blog without food. I got super sad when I deleted it, so I decided to apply for Creative Writing school. It was the way I found to keep my creativity flowing and my brain to not go down into a deep dark path.

“Live Out Loud Too”

In the middle of my Creative Writing for the Entertainment Business degree, I felt the need to share how it was like to be a writing student, with English being my second language. All the trouble I had to go through, so my story could make sense, while still working at a hotel, focusing on the speed of the classes. During the school, I really didn’t have time to write about how it was to be in school. Very seldom, I passed by on the website, and posted something about my writing for comics class, or my transmedia projects, so I could keep myself motivated.  For almost two years, I had no audience. This time I made sure to write in English, keeping my native language people exclusive to Facebook and Instagram. The blog turned two in May.

Live Out Loud Too turned out to be a space where I can have my voice heard, like I mean it, loud. I want to have my opinions validated too, and not set aside, because I was not born and raised here.  It’s a space to talk about change and take risks, like switching careers, or job positions to something you always wanted to, in your mid 30’s or later. It’s a space where I share my work, my ideas and opinions about starting over as a writer, following my dreams.

Getting the bull by its horns with my own hands and inspiring people to do the same.

The reason why I think this blog is working, first of all, I don’t write in my native language. I focus on the language and the country I live in. Second of all, I have a way to promote my posts, with different media outlets, such as Twitter, Pinterest and Instagram, to grow my audience. I don’t use Facebook for that at all. At this point, I rather deal with judgmental people I don’t know, than the ones I went to school with. Third and last reason, I found my niche. I write about being a struggling writer, trying to make it work with a huge leap of faith, that someday I will finally finish the web-series I have been working on forever. By the way I finally have a logline! I will write more about it next post.

Stay Safe!

JG Snelly.

Can anybody hear me?

Remember all the plans we had a couple of weeks ago? It looks like a vague memory now that we have eyes for one matter, the Corona Virus who trapped most of the planet’s population inside our houses. Whoever could run to the cabin in the mountains did it, but for us, the real knights of the corona Apocalypse, had to stay locked in the city anyway.

The media are feeding itself breakfast, lunch and dinner on this issue. It feels like they can’t get enough. Like a lion, drooling, watching his prey suffer of anxiety, to give up and move the next one. All the news outlet are making whatever this virus is, even worse, it had happened before, with Ebola, Measles, and the most recent one, the impeachment. Hours and hours spent on TV talking about what is going to happen with the president, why was he in this position, feeding the anger, to have the politicians to vote it against it, with nothing happening to the president at all. As this matter was over, Corona was on. Every single outlet and it grew bigger. Not until a week and a half ago when they decided to shut everything down, people starting to realize that we were all getting some collateral damage from the virus. Our everyday lives was going to be affected, our school system and our jobs. I got hired to work in a hotel, but they closed for now.

My friends in the restaurant industry are suffering the most. Small business owners have no idea of what to do during this time and the staff doesn’t know what to do to pay rent, bills and food. All the restaurants I worked are doing carry out, with a fewer options from the menu and a short staff. All the bartenders I know are at home. So are the cooks, the waitress and the hostesses. The truth is, we don’t make enough to have it saved for longer periods of time, for 2 months, like the time the news is saying of all this is going to last. Heck, most people in this country live paycheck to paycheck. We don’t all live in a white fenced house in a suburb, we are not allowed to work from home and get paid for. We need to give for ourselves, we need to work.

Once again, the media did what supposed to do and everyone went to the grocery store and packed for the apocalypse that in their mind is about to happen. I went to get some toothpaste and for my surprise, the shelves where the Lysol and other cleaning products were empty, so was the toilet paper and the lunch meat. The frozen food aisle were all scattered, even the vegan food, pretend meat sells well in times of desperation.

***

I wrote this post about two weeks ago, and see how everything unveiled is maddening. There was no need for this desperation at the grocery store, as most of the items like bread, milk and water were replaced, as the stores are opening and closing earlier. The new normal is not leaving the house and only going out if its necessary. I can understand why dogs gets so excited to go for walks, I’m on that stage too. Bored most of the day and super excited to go to the supermarket.

I could pretend that I have a lot of interest in writing and keep moving on with my projects, but I can’t focus. I kept my gratitude planner and it helps me to at least see my intent of getting things done clear, now that its all a blur. I made a little chart to show my levels of anxiety at this point.

My writing on the procreate app

I’ve also been part of a few podcasts episodes with my friend, Demeatrie, as we can’t meet, we share our thoughts out loud.

Hopefully the next post will be with more engagement and some type of joy !

XX

J.S

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