Blogging Tips to be the Okayest Blogger!
Over the last three years I’ve hit blogging highs and lows. I’ve been paid hundreds of dollars for a sponsored post and wasted money on Facebook ads. I’ve added more than a thousand followers on Instagram in one day, only then to lose over a hundred on another day. And through these highs and lows I’ve been MAD. So mad that I can’t get ahead in this blogging game.
Until I realized that this is the best I can do and for right now, it is OK! You see, I’m the world’s okayest blogger. I put in a few hours a week on my blog, because that’s all the time I have. I made enough money through affiliate links, google ads, and sponsored posts to break even every month and cover my Amazon habit (which is quite a habit, I assure you). The dough is definitely not rolling in, but that’s ok, too.
So, if you would like to be the world’s “goodest” blogger, like me. Follow the 20 tips below. I guarantee you will find success and actually enjoy your blog.
Start on Social Media
Most conventional advice tells you that Pinterest or Instagram or Facebook are ways to drive traffic to your blog, and they are. But when I began, @showmeyourplanner on Instagram was it for me. I worked on my Instagram account, growing a loyal following, for a year before I began Zen of Planning. Why? Instagram was easy for me. It took just minutes of my day and they were fun minutes. No stress. When I started to see hundreds and even a thousand new followers on any given day, then I knew it was time for Zen of Planning to launch.
Write Image Skimpy Posts
Problem: finding the perfect, free, and copyright-free image. Solution: don’t use a lot of images! Definitely invest in creating a beautiful Featured Image for your post because Pinterest goes crazy over those, but unless your post depends on images to move your story along, put your posts on an image diet. Keep it skimpy and keep it simple. There are quite a few sites on the net that offer cheap or free images, but my absolute fave is Unsplash. Check it out!
Pray to the Pinterest Gods
Seriously, Pinterest is a new blogger’s best friend. It’s great for keyword research, inspiration, and driving traffic to your blog. Remember the last tip where I said be sure to create a beautiful featured image? I wasn’t joking. People will not find you on Pinterest without an awesome featured image. I use both Picmonkey and Canva to create my featured images. It takes me about an hour, but it’s totally worth it.
Other than that, to grow your followers on Pinterest you MUST create Pinterest boards with keywords in mind. First, be sure the name of your board is specific. One of my boards, for example is Doodles and Sketchnotes. The board description is: Ideas and inspiration on how to draw easy, simple, cute designs and doodles. Sketch notes and kawaii too! Between the name and description, I used the keywords: doodles, sketchnotes, ideas, inspiration, draw, easy, simple, cute designs, sketch notes (two words) and kawaii. When Pinteresters are searching for any of those words, I have a better chance of showing up in the search results.
And finally for Pinterest – pin A LOT! Which brings me to my next tip.
I’ve been using Tailwind for the past two years and it’s helped me grown my Pinterest followers to almost 29,000 and 4.2 million monthly viewers. More than that, however, is that it’s such a time saver. I spend one hour every two weeks or so scheduling images through Tailwind. The plan I pay for is soooo worth it. I pin between 30-50 times each day, during optimal times with an unlimited amount of pins per month. There’s no way I could hit those numbers without Tailwind. AND it’s approved by Pinterest so there’s no threat of getting my account suspended. Seriously, this is is one of those services I could not live without. If you’re interested in being better than just an okay blogger, you really should check out Tailwind. Check out their free trial!
Schedule Your Time
Did you know that Elon Musk schedules his day in five minute increments? It’s true. Not that he switches tasks every five minutes, but he knows (or his assistant knows) what Mr. Musk is doing every day at 5:25 or 6:42, or 8:29. One day I tried scheduling my tasks in segments of fifteen minutes and it sucked! I stuck to my schedule for two or so hours, then I gave up. It was waaaayyyy too structured for my liking. Since I’m a full-time school teacher and mama, I can only handle 1-2 hours of blog work before I hit my limit. So instead, I give myself two tasks to do each night. Each for 30 or so minutes. I found this is a nice balance between structure and chaos.
Keep Notebooks Everywhere
Yes, everywhere. I keep a small Field Notes in my ipad folio, another one in my purse, and a third next to my bed. I have another small Zequenz notebook in my backpack that I take to the beach and soccer games. Great ideas strike all the time and I will absolutely forget if I don’t write it down. If you prefer digital, of course you can always use the notes app on your phone, but I just LOVE writing things down.
Tweeze Those Eyebrows
Tweeze those eyebrows, pop that pimple, or play that mindless game. Some of my best ideas happen when I’m engaged in some sort of brainless activity. Like the idea for this blog post; it came to me as I was setting up my teacher planner for next year. I was writing down my math lessons, contemplating how much I LOVE mapping out my entire year during the summer, and it hits me: I should write a post about how I am the OKAYEST blogger! And here it is.
Read the Book by that Millionaire Blogger
Yes, read that motivational book, but then don’t follow all the tips. There’s this workbook out there by Lisa Jacobs called Your Best Year 2018. It was recommended by Kara of Boho Berry. I grabbed it from Amazon and jumped right in! And it was awesome, at least the pieces I took from it were awesome. You see, I do not have 10-12 hours a day to focus on making goals and seeing them through. I have 30-60 minutes a day on some days during the week. If this were my full-time gig, I would follow this book (or others) to a tee! Rather, I take from books the parts that make sense, then make them my own. If you are looking for a really motivational, easy to read book about getting started, I highly recommend Start by Jon Acuff. This one can be read (or listened to in fits and starts when you have time). He’s super fun to read.
Don’t Work Until the Wee Hours
I have one blogger friend that is very honest about her beginnings. And I suggest you check out her multiple sites, Boss Girl Bloggers being one of them. Ell has said that in the beginning, she worked way past midnight to get her blogs up and running. But she’s young and has no children. If you’re way younger than me (ahem, 42), and you have no kids than you should totally ignore this piece of advice and work all night. But don’t over do it! Yes, meeting sales targets and blogging goals are important, but not at the cost of your family or health. If I worked into the wee hours, I would be a zombie nightmare mommy. My children would disown me.
Don’t Monetize Right Away
In one of the Facebook blogging groups I’m in, new bloggers often ask when they should start to monetize, reach out to brands for sponsored posts, buy Facebook ads, etc. And this is all before they’ve published even one post! If this is your second or third or tenth blog, then by all means, monetize right away. However, if this is your first blog ever, DON’T! Don’t worry about making money in your first weeks or even months. This sounds counterintuitive, I know.
You might say, “I’m here to make money! Why shouldn’t I jump right in?” Because when you’re just beginning, everything is hard. Publishing a post is hard, adding a featured image is hard, SEO is hard. Give it time. Write, write, write for a few months before you jump in to affiliate accounts and Google ads. Wait until your pageviews are at least 10,000 each month before you add something else to your plate.
Spread the Love
Engage, engage, engage, with everyone. Remember when I said to start on Social Media? When I first started @showmeyourplanner, all I did was feature other bullet journalists and planners that I loved. I always tagged their accounts and said wonderful things about their work. And it was all true! I did love their posts and their accounts, and liked and commented on everything I loved. I asked questions, gave compliments and used my powers for good. Good karma, in my opinion is a huge part of blogging. You put love out into the universe an you will surely get love back. Which leads me to my next tip.
Never, ever, ever play the follow/unfollow game. Not only is this a ridiculous waste of time, it is totally annoying! Why clog up your feed with a bunch of content that you don’t care to see? Follow what you love, ignore everything else. And if anyone asks you Follow4follow? Just move along.
Send the DM
Have you ever really wanted to ask some big blogger a question, but didn’t have the courage? Why not? The worst they can do is Not Answer You or Say No. I’ve had both these things happen and my world did not end. A little discouraging, but that’s it. I’ve had tons of luck with this method, however. There’s an amazing Instagrammer, @therevisionguide. I followed Apsi for probably a year before I reached out to her to tell her how much I loved her illustration style and asked her to design my @showmeyourplanner logo. And she TOTALLY hooked me up. She even offered to update it a year later. We continue to keep in touch and support each other. She lives in Sri Lanka, and I live in California. Totally amazing connection.
I was feeling a little overwhelmed a few months ago. Working full time, mommying full time and blogging part-time was getting to me. Ell, over at Boss Girl Bloggers mentioned in her Facebook group that she manages pinterest accounts. So I tried it for two months. She continued to grow my Pinterest account about the same that I would have done over the same period, but I did not have to lift a finger. No spending a few hours a week, repinning my own content through Tailwind, or scouring Pinterest for the best posts on planning. Ell did it all! It wasn’t cheap, but it was a great break for me. Check out her Ell’s Pinterest services.
Publish with Typos
Are you a perfectionist? I am most certainly not. HA! But I do have an BA in Literature and I detest mistakes in writing. When I first started blogging it would take me weeks to write, edit, and publish a post. I would reread it and reread it and make minute changes until I was happy. But you know what? Those changes didn’t really bring more readers to my blog. Now I’m not saying that you should NEVER proofread, quite the contrary. Readers will not return to your blog if your writing is awful. But give your post a once and twice over and be done!
Hire a College-Age Niece
This relates to the outsourcing tip. If you have a friend, neighbor, family member that’s maybe a bit younger and looking to earn a little cash, try delegating a task. The task could be keyword research, creating featured images, scheduling pins, or even engaging on social media. The reason why I suggest using someone you trust is just that; it’s someone you trust. There are lots of sites online that offer outsourcing opportunities, but if you’ve never hired someone sight unseen, it can be a little overwhelming.
Get Your Kids Involved
Yes, your own children can be a distraction if you’re trying to work on your blog, but they can also help! I typically post about planners and doodling and my girls LOVE to contribute. I’ve posted on Instagram photos of them planning with me, and practicing our Christmas doodles. They’re also great at offering ideas for my planning pages. I usually wait to work on my blog until after they’re asleep, but involving them in my blogging allows me to work earlier in the day when I’m more fresh.
More to Come…
If you were counting, you will have noticed that my blogging tips do not quite number 20. My goal for this post was to write this in less than one hour and I did it! I will be coming back to this post and adding more tips. Be sure to pin this post so you can find it again!
If you’d like to learn more about Bullet Journaling (my specialty), be sure to check out my series on creating a bullet journal from beginning to end, starting with the Bullet Journal Index.
Find Zen of Planning on Pinterest as well, where I pin everything under the sun related to planning.