I’ll be honest with you – getting this blog to a point of me being proud with it has been a long journey. I mean it.
It’s taken years.
Looking back to 2013, my Sophomore year of high school, and remembering what this website started as…it’s a miracle I kept at it for six more years.
I treat my website like a business. So, technically, 2018 should have been the year to total my blog career. I hadn’t made any money or any progress, and it was year five. It was time to throw in the towel.
But I didn’t. Thank God.
In January 2019 alone I practically doubled my web views for the entirety of 2018. It took some major changes on my part, all of which led me to finally nail down my niche.
However, finding my niche is only one of the things that helped me see my first success in analytics this month. Why blog about the changes? Well, because it took six years to figure them out! I can’t count how many articles and websites I’ve visited over the years searching for solutions. The last thing I want is for another writer to be as stuck as I was!
That’s why I’m starting this monthly review series. It’s not to brag. It’s to serve as an educational resource for other blogger struggling to get their start. As my primary audience is novelists, I want to be up front in saying some of these things may not work for what you’re trying to accomplish.
At the end of the day, I’m a marketing blog – I help authors make a name for themselves through digital content and strategy. However, a lot of what I teach is through my own trial, error and research. I can only hope that the tips I relay in my monthly reviews will also work for you.
In this review, I will also recap expenses and profits. Again, this is not to brag or showcase how much money I have. This is purely to represent the progress an author could see if you were to implement some of my techniques to your website and blog.
This review may also contain affiliate links. Please note that all products I recommend have been thoroughly researched and/or tested.
Now, let’s jump in to what January taught me!
A Look at the Stats
While I mostly watch Google Analytics for most of my stats (which I will show those later), there are two other spots I keep an eye on: my web views via the WordPress iPhone app (yes, you can use this even with your own domain and hosting if you use .Org and not .Com) and Tailwind.
I like the WordPress app for a quick, easy and simple rundown of my stats compared to previous days, weeks, months and years. It’s more user friendly in my opinion than Google Analytics, and if I don’t want to try and set up a new widget in my Google Analytics dashboard that very moment to see a comparison, it’s an easily accessible alternative from my phone.
As you can see, I was able to make quite a leap in my traffic this month. This was a big deal to me. All I did was put a bit more elbow grease into my blog, because I also have a full-time job at a small marketing agency. However, that little bit of extra care was enough to prove to myself that my blog can potentially be a business.
In the past, I’ve always worked on my blog here and there, never really giving it the proper attention. As soon as I changed that mindset, it was like a flick of the switch. The strategies I used were simple add-ons, and I can’t believe I hadn’t been using them sooner.
Beyond the WordPress app, I also monitor my Google Analytics and my Tailwind Insights. For Google Analytics, I have been putting a prime focus on my Bounce Rate, trying to get to the sweet spot of 40%.
As you can see, it’s very much still a work in progress. A lot of that is because I had several pages – more than I needed- and many didn’t have a whole lot of text on them. While having multiple pages can certainly be a great thing, each also needs to be a valuable resource.
Throughout the month, I worked on absolving the pages that weren’t logical to my audiences journey. Then, I simultaneously combined or completely rewrote the most valuable pages on the site. As a result, I’m hoping to see that bounce rate even out.
As for Tailwind, I focused primarily on Tribe Insights.
Tailwind and Pinterest have been my number one referrers this month, which led me to investing a bit more in the Tailwind application. I spent a lot of time developing various pins with various designs for each of my blog posts and entering them into my Evergreen SmartLoop (loops the pins through automation into Pinterest when appropriate).
I’m seeing a ton of “potential” impact with Tailwind. I’ve also experimented with several different designs of pins. You can take a look at some of this month’s in this gallery (tap the image for a closer look):
I saw great success with pins that used bold text, and I moved toward more of those types of pins at the end of the month.
Something I have struggled with, however, is finding the most optimal time to post to my Tailwind Tribes. There have been several times I “wasted” Tribe submissions because I got zero interaction. This is something I’m going to be doing more research on in February.
Where I Saw the Most Success
Throughout January, my primary goal was to grow my email list. It had sat at zero subscribers for nearly six years. Plus, I’d basically tried everything under the sun and NOTHING was working.
I have future goals for running educational eCourses through The Jinapher. So, having a great email list is a must. What finally worked?
Locking My Top Content
For a long time, I told myself I wouldn’t do this. I never wanted someone to come to my site and not be able to access what they wanted to read. However, after I did some research and thoroughly thought about it, I came to this conclusion:
I want email subscribers that are actually interested in my content. If someone wants to read one of my posts bad enough, and all they have to do is put in their email, then they will. Plus, if people were landing on my posts but never entering their email to keep reading, then I was attracting the WRONG AUDIENCE.
Locking my posts was actually a great way for me to gauge how well my current marketing strategy is working. Have I been attracting the right readers? I also used it as a way to gauge my most enticing and popular content. This will allow me to produce more useful posts in the future.
So, is it annoying? Yeah, it can be. But if you use it sparingly and actually unlock the post once you get the data you need, then I don’t think there is anything wrong with it.
Getting Rid of My Main Menu
I definitely did not want to get rid of my main menu. However, I found great email subscription and click success from getting rid of my main menu from the header of my homepage.
If you visit my homepage, you will notice that you cannot easily navigate to another page from the top of the site. No – this isn’t because I forgot to insert it; it’s because I’m finally starting to play the subscription game smart.
By deleting my menu from the header, I am able to have my viewers focus directly on what’s on the page – the first thing being to subscribe to my website.
While I haven’t seen as much success with this tactic as I have with locking my content, this has been another successful measure for getting subscribers.
This, of course, won’t work for everyone. For authors, I highly recommend having a direct link to your shop in your header, especially if the first thing on your homepage isn’t to purchase your latest book.
You want to keep things convenient, which is why – right below my subscription box – I have three blog categories featured. I still want my audience to get what they want.
Picking Up My Twitter Game
If you are an author or writer, and you are not on Twitter, then you are sabotaging your success. Here is the latest from my Twitter feed:
There is a HUGE writing community on Twitter, and everyone is very involved with each other’s tweets. Plus, there are all kinds of contests to participate in to help you gain exposure (and literary agents looking to read).
I gained 334 followers within my first week on Twitter. Now, it is at a bit of a standstill, but I also got a little sidetracked. I will be monitoring Twitter thoroughly within February to get my followers and interactions up.
My goal is not so much to focus on the follower count but more so to focus on getting my followers to be active in what I’m tweeting.
If you are a blogger, then you know how beneficial Tailwind can be for you. For me, it has been monumental in growing my reach.
This is what my Tailwind Tribes Insights were in November 13, 2018:
Here is what they are today, February 4th, 2019:
Crazy, right?! I literally cannot believe how much they have grown in only a few months.
Now, how can writers and authors use this platform? There are several writing tribes on Tailwind. I even own one (join it)! If you are unfamiliar with Tailwind Tribes, then let me explain fairly quick (I’ll do a full blog post soon).
Tailwind Tribes are essentially group forums where you post your Pinterest Pins (ones you create and link to your content). All tribes have group rules, and every pinner has to pin at least one pin for every pin they upload to the tribe (or a 1:1 ratio). That means your content is likely to receive repins.
Once your pin is repinned by others in the group, your reach expands via your insights. The larger your reach, the better chance you have of growing a following on Pinterest.
Authors and writers can use this platform as a simple, effective way to showcase their writing – from their latest novel to their blog post on what inspires them. Imagine the friction you could generate for your upcoming book?
Now, I don’t recommend that you ONLY self-promote. You do want to be contributing continual value to your tribe. That’s where I feel having a blog, even as an author, can be beneficial. Click here to look into building an author website/blog today.
Take It to the Bank: My Profits + Expenses for January 2019
Quickly, I’d like to document and run-down the profits and expenses from January. Being that this is my first month tracking this and getting into the monetization game, there isn’t a whole lot to report.
Unfortunately, I didn’t have any money come into my bank account from my blog in January. I made a very, very small profit from Google Adsense of $1.29.
Outside of Google Adsense, I did sign up for some affiliate marketing programs, such as Bluehost. I am working on some marketing strategies for those across my website, and you will likely see more content related to my affiliate products in the future.
Every product I’m working with, I have used. I do my best to ensure anything I make a profit off of that I believe in it.
As for the monthly expenses, the list is, fortunately, not too long.
- (1) Plus Plan Account ($14.99/mo)
- (1) Tribes Max PowerUp ($14.99/mo)
- (1) Canva for Work Plan ($12.95/mo)
I did not have any once-off expenses this month.
I feel that I did a great job figuring things out and setting a foundation for my blog business in January 2019. I worked hard, and it paid off – at least in email subscribers.
In February, I will be buckling down on posts. I have a ton of post ideas I have been sitting on and can’t wait to write them. I really want to get them out, because I know the content is extremely valuable.
I will also be paying more attention to affiliate marketing and setting a clear foundation for that across my site. I want to be sure I’m offering valuable discounts for the products I refer.
Next, I want to focus on building my email list. It will take a bit of the back burner in February, but I will still be monitoring it and (hopefully) building some freebies for you guys!
Last but certainly not least is my eCourse. It has been in the works for a while, but I halted production to focus on my email list. Now, I have some time to focus on the actual production of the lesson plans.
For the time being, if you need help with your website, I did build this comprehensive guide: click here for access.
Other than that, I’m looking forward to interacting more with the newest members of The Jinapher! It is so exciting to see new emails popping up on my MailChimp dashboard, and I seriously cannot wait to give you guys the informaion you are seeking. As always, be sure to leave a comment on this post or any other on anything you need help with!
See you next month for February’s review!