There is nothing more terrifying and fulfilling than abandoning a safe and tested profession to plunge into a new and very challenging career such as blogging. It feels good to be able to do what you love the most on your own terms with a very flexible schedule.
But at the same time, establishing a territory on the internet is stricken with doubts. It takes enough of never give up attitude to make it in this field.
After six months of blogging, I finally have a full grip of my website and I’ve been inspired with the many opportunities that come along the way. Building a website is like maneuvering a ship; you try to find the safe route but there will still be dangers on the way that you´ll have to deal with. Oftentimes, you got to follow your guts.
My first six active months of blogging has been full of adventure and experimentation, below are the important things I learned.
1. What works for others may NOT work for you
When I started building my professional fashion blog, I was publishing only info-content and thorough style tips at most four times a week. In just two months, my Alexa rank climbed up to top 300k.
I was not promoting my blog yet during that time, no guest posting, no commenting on other blogs, my traffic was purely organic searches. Then I felt that it was time to join the sea of fashion bloggers; I started visiting other fashion blogs.
I saw these famous blogs which all they mostly do is promote several products a day, “what to buy”, and they have such an interactive audience.
I was tempted to copy their style. I integrated it to my publishing schedule and my blog was filled with copycats – “Splurge Monday: XOXO Handbag”, “Thrifty Friday: Printed Socks”, “Deal to Steal: Awesome Coat”, several times a day, just like other famous blogs do. In a month I felt so exhausted cramming to publish several posts a day telling my audience what to buy.
But at the same time, I saw my traffic and Alexa rank dramatically dropped.
When my husband saw how disappointed I was, he stepped in to give me advice. He told me that he knows my strategy will not work because my chase for quantity undermines the quality. Also, pushing products on my readers’ face will backfire because they don’t benefit from it, I just tell them to consume more.
So he urged me to go back to my original blogging strategy, one article a day but QUALITY. Sure enough, my traffic and Alexa rank started to hike up.
The bottom line: In blogging it’s important to be unique. You have to establish your own voice, brand and style. Next time you’re tempted to copy what others do on their blog, think first, will your readers see you as original or just a copycat? Will they respect you for it? Will this strategy work for you?
2. Know Your Audience
When I built my fashion blog, all I had in mind was to publish a women’s fashion blog which focuses on creativity. I had no clear picture of what exactly is my demographic and who exactly are my audience.
I wrote a couple of “celebrity looks for less” articles which were received warmly. My subscriptions increased rapidly as I continued to produce similar blog posts.
Then one day I wrote about designer boots that I adore followed by another post which discussed about the on-trend expensive coats. To my horror, my feed burner subscription dropped by 90 percent. I felt numbed as I saw the numbers that unsubscribed.
I kept asking myself why? But then I figured that those subscribers must be thrifty fashionistas, they couldn’t take my posts about designers products. Do I really want my blog to be for “budget fashionistas”? The answer was “No!” I wanted my blog to be for women who know how to mix thrift finds with investment pieces.
So I ostracized my readers. I kept publishing articles that are a mix of affordable and expensive items. My decision was right, for the first couple of brands that partnered with my fashion blog were designers. And my email subscriptions continue to grow each day.
I always admired women in their fifties who still look great with creative fashion sense. So one day, I interviewed a fashion blogger in her fifties and featured her at my blog, “How to Look Great and Stylish After 50”.
I was so in love with the topic that I featured another two ladies who are in their fifties. Shortly after that I discovered my demographic through Alexa.
My blog is read by women of 25-34 years old without children who have college degree. They represent about 90 percent of my audience and many of them are young professionals. The remaining 10 percent is made up of girls younger than 25 or a little older than 34. I felt embarrassed.
After understanding who my audience is, I’ve focused on writing content that target their age bracket and income.
The bottom line: Upon building your website, it’s important that you bear in mind your target audience. Who your readers are, their age, their income and what are their interests. However, don’t be afraid to reshape your blog to cater the needs of your audience once you have a clear picture of your demographic through statistics tools.
3. Increase your traffic and Alexa rank through targeted content
We’re often told that quality content drives traffic and improves our blog’s Alexa rank. However, I’ve found that many blogs publish quality content but are slow in increasing their traffic as well as their alexa standing.
I figured through my experiment that writing quality content isn’t enough, the content should also be targeted. This means writing about what your audience are looking for and wanting to know.
My first step to producing quality, targeted content was building a bank of blog posts. It’s a list of all the keywords including the long tail keywords that my visitors search that lead to my blog. While Google Analytics sums up the top keywords for my blog, Site Stats does a very good job gathering all the keywords even those with very least number of searches.
I exhaust every keyword, even if there’s only one person who searched for it because my idea is that, if there’s someone who needs this information, there must be others who also look for this same information. Whenever the number of searches for similar keywords is about the same, I consult Google Keyword and Free Keyword Checker to help me decide which keyword to use.
Another technique that I used in building up my traffic is writing articles that answer the questions I found on forums related to my niched and on Yahoo Questions and Answers under the fashion and beauty category.
On the forums, I look for threads that receive the most replies and consider if the topic is great for my blog. However, I don’t limit my search on the popular threads alone for on several occasions, I’ve found good topics from threads with few replies.
On yahoo questions, instead of posting my answer directly on the question, I answer it through a blog post and then post its link as an answer to that posted question. It also helps to drive additional traffic to my blog.
The Bottom Line: Writing quality content isn’t enough to improve your traffic and Alexa rank, your contents must be targeted. Know what your readers are looking for and give them what they need.
4. Don’t get distracted by people who don’t understand what you do
As a married person who abandoned a safe teaching career to plunge on this very exciting profession, one of the challenges that I meet is dealing with people who don’t understand what I do and what it takes to succeed on this business. I tell you frankly, some people think I’m lazy.
I sit whole day satisfied with a clean apartment but don’t aim to beautify it beyond magnificent and don’t scrub the floor every minute like a full-time house wife should do. Some people within our circle think exactly that way. They are impressed of what I do but don’t understand why I have to sit in front of my laptop whole day, they play with the idea that I waste most of my time online.
I was contacted by an aunt who works as a head of Finance in a big company in the Philippines, asking me to write her a commencement speech of about 30-minutes-length for a college graduation – only four days before the graduation. She couldn’t produce her speech because her department was having an audit and they’re always on overtime.
According to her, since I’m good in writing and is NOT working, she believes I’m on perfect position to help her. I explained to her that I’m managing an online business and attending a German integration course three days a week so I couldn’t produce such a long speech in four days.
She was upset because she’s certain I have lots of free time for I’m always seen online on social media such as Facebook and Twitter. I refused to write her speech. If she informed me earlier, I could have inserted it on my schedule, but there’s no way I’m going to skip my publishing schedule just to give in to such last-minute requests.
No matter what other people think about what I do, I honestly don’t care. What’s important for me is that my husband understands the nature of my work, he supports me, and above all, he knows that I’m NOT lazy.
The Bottom Line: It’s difficult to make people understand how much time a problogger needs to maintain a blog/site and to get ahead. If you’re married, it’s important that your partner understands the nature of your profession and supports you. If you’re single, you have more freedom, but you still might need the encouragement of your parents or close friends. What is most important is that you don’t get distracted by people who don’t believe on what you do.
5. Have faith, hold on your dreams
There were days as a problogger when I woke up to a terrifying feeling of doubt and fear. Will I make it? How long will it take me to start seeing results?
Regardless of the time and efforts you put on your blog, unless it starts to earn, you don’t have a job. The niche that I chose to break in is extremely over-populated. Almost every girl, even thirteen year old, has a fashion blog. This is also a niche that is very competitive and is not supportive of each other.
But fashion is the topic that I love and something that I can see myself talking about for the rest of my life, not to mention it has a big market. So I stick with it. But it has been very tough.
There were times when I almost wanted to give up. But the idea of one day I look back and wonder “what if I continued” makes me keep going. And sure enough, there are no efforts done with love and honesty that don’t pay results.
Many brands are now interested on working with my fashion blog and every day, my business opens up new doors for opportunities. As young as it is, I can see a very bright future for my online business.
The Bottom Line: The way to success in blogging career can be long and narrow. Some find the short cut, but for some, it takes a long road full of experiments and crucial decision making to reach the goal. You need to believe on your dream and hold on to it in order to succeed.
Succeeding as a problogger isn’t easy but NOT impossible. These are the lessons I learned, what are yours?
Glee inspires women to be creative and gleeful fashionistas through her blog, Creative Fashion. She also explores the ways to achieve happiness in extra-challenging marriages such as intercultural marriage at Offbeat Marriage.