It’s been two years since I started Emma No Problema.
I remember setting up my WordPress.com account and debating whether or not my blog would be called, “Emma No Problema” or, “Traveling With Emma.” My husband insisted, “It’s gotta be Emma No Problema! That was your plan over 10 years ago!” Read about that “plan” here.
After deciding on a name, I created my own brand standards (so embarrassing). I drafted color guidelines, fonts, a mission statement, etc. Oh, how very corporate of me… I haven’t looked at that crap since.
After that, I wrote my first post, Best Brunch In Denver. It’s a successful post, despite the fact that I had no idea what I was doing.
Looking back, I’m stunned by how far I’ve come. I learned mostly through trial and error. It’s not that I didn’t do research and study other successful blogs, it’s just that their advice didn’t mean squat to a girl who didn’t even know what SEO meant.
Today, I’m reflecting on my past two years. I’m also offering some advice that would’ve saved me oodles of time and effort when I started my blog.
What do you sound like when you’re talking? Write your posts that way. In a perfect world, what would your home or wardrobe look like? Style your blog that way. Don’t like something? Don’t write about it. Love something? Shout it from the rooftops and tell your readers why you love it. Readers read blogs to feel an authentic connection to the writer. If you aren’t authentic, you aren’t gaining an authentic following and eventually you will lose those readers.
Find your focus
I started as a travel blogger focused on the hidden gems in Denver… then I moved to California. Oops! Your focus will shift here and there, but your general topic should remain the same. Overall, I am a travel blogger. I try to keep my blog topics around that theme because it helps search engines know what I’m all about.
Make it Pretty
Use good photos
If you take good photos, use them. If you don’t, use stock photos. Bottom line: if the photos on your blog are poor quality, no one will click on your post. Stock photos are generally frowned upon in the blogging world, so work on your photography skills and aim to include at least three good photos per blog post.
Organize your thoughts
Search engines love “Heading 2.” (This is the heading font you see above as “Organize your thoughts.”) Organize your writing into short paragraphs and add a header above it. Not only does this help your SEO, but it also helps readers follow your thoughts while skimming your blog. It makes the blog look professional, organized and attractive.
Make Some Money
Be an Amazon Associate
This was the way I made my first dollar! Being an Amazon Associate is one of the easiest ways to make money blogging, but you need to have a hefty amount of views per month to remain an associate. Basically, if you don’t make Amazon enough money within the first few months, they drop you as an associate. If you’re bringing in a couple thousand views a month, by all means, sign up!
Sell something cool
Create a PayPal account, add a store page to your blog, and begin selling your stuff. Read a more detailed description of how to do this here. Whether you’re an artist, a photographer or a master crocheter, people will be impressed by handmade items. I haven’t personally done this, but I’ve been considering it.
List your blog on your resume
I hate being the dream crusher, but making money blogging is nearly impossible. I’ve made a chunk of change, but nothing I could live off of. Blogs don’t make money, but blogs do open money-making doors. I truly believe that listing my blog on my resume as a “Passion Project” is what got me my current job because I could prove with one click that I was a strong writer and marketer.
Create good content
Contribute something new
This is important. Blogging isn’t about compiling information from various websites and putting them together in a list. Everytime you write, contribute something new to the topic. If you don’t have something to add to the topic that isn’t already on the internet, then why bother? For example: I wrote this post about altitude sickness and how to prevent it. Before writing, I didn’t know how to prevent altitude sickness, but I had experienced it so I could add my two cents about what worked for me. Basically, if you’ve never experienced the thing you’re writing about, don’t write about it.
Inspire or educate
If you’re an aspiring blogger, chances are you are doing something cool or have cool information that others don’t. Every single thing you put out into the world via your blog or social media channels should inspire or educate your followers. If it doesn’t, it isn’t valuable content.
Show up in search engines
Write like you Google
Search engine optimization (SEO) is all about showing Google that you’re the answer to someone’s Google search. If someone Googles “What is the story behind the big blue bear in Denver?” I’m banking on my blog post titled The Story Behind Denver’s Big Blue Bear coming up and answering their question. If your blog title doesn’t answer a question or elude to a question being answered, no one is going to click on it and Google isn’t going to recognize it as valuable. This is a very boiled down summary of what SEO is, but it’s a good starting point.
You need to post two times a week minimum — Eeek, sorry to put a number on it, I hate it when people give me “minimums.” But this is tried and true. My views tripled when I went from one post to two a week. If you don’t post at least two times a week your blog just simply won’t grow.
Build a following
Stay active on social media
I haven’t met a successful blogger who isn’t incredibly active on social media. I’m talking several posts a day active. This is a struggle for me. I work full time and can hardly keep up with my own friends on social media, let alone my readers! Websites like Hootsuite that allow you to schedule posts ahead of time are lifesavers. My personal advice: post different content on each social media platform. I use Facebook for new blog posts, Instagram for new photos and Twitter for quick tips.
Friends are not fans
This one is hard for me! In the past, I personally struggled with over-sharing my blog on my personal social media channels. But I can’t stress this enough: if your real life friends aren’t following your blog’s social media channels, there’s a small chance they *gasp* aren’t your fan. And that’s OK! Not all of your friends need to be your fans. You can share tasteful reminders that you have a blog on your personal accounts, but don’t bombard your friends and family with blog posts — allow them to opt in.
My first two years of blogging were all about learning. I finally feel like I am starting to get the hang of it and understand what works and doesn’t work. Just remember: if you’re not having fun with it, it isn’t worth it!
Thanks for reading,