I started my new blog, which I wrote about in a series here on TOTS, about a year ago. In that year, I have learned a few things. Here are the top four:
1. I should have saved my stats from my first blog.
I know that this blog is doing much better as far as getting in front of people, but I wish I knew how much better. I’m sort of a nerd about statistics, but beyond the pleasure of looking at charts, I think it would be helpful to know just how it compares. I’m doing a lot of things differently; how much is that helping?
2. It’s hard to post every day.
Make that impossible, at least for me. I knew it would be impossible, and I vowed to have three months of scheduled posts before I went live. I had one month by my announced launch date. I kept up with daily posts for three months, but it was grueling, and then I started dropping the ball until eventually, I wasn’t posting at all. In January, I managed to post every day again. There is a definite correlation between post frequency and views; at the same time, I can get a fair amount of views just posting a couple times a week, and it’s better than having months with no posts at all.
3. There’s more to guest posts than meets the eye.
In my experience, there is nothing better than a good guest post and/or interview. I’ve gotten some of my best information this way, and when someone else has a stake in the post being read, it gets out to more people. In the beginning, I solicited a lot of guest posts and interviews. It was great, but it took a lot of time and research and correspondence. It was worth it, but hard to maintain.
I always had a page titled “Write for Tinker’s Refuge.” I had a list of articles that I wasn’t qualified to write but wanted posts on. I thought it was a great way to expand the conversation. No one responded until a couple of months ago. A nice sounding man with a relevant topic and business offered to write a post. It seemed above board. I welcomed it. After that post went live, I received another offer. This one raised a red flag for several reasons–fake-sounding name, poorly written post. However, after several e-mails I decided it was a real person, and I allowed the post. She wrote back and said, “It’s great, but can you remove the link at the top of the post and only leave the one that I put in.” That sounded suspicious, and on the heels of this post, I received three more offers, each more improbable than the next (For instance, “Your website is an excellent resource on power tools.” It isn’t; I mention power tools. I mostly mention what an amateur I am with them). One referred back to the original guest post by the nice sounding man, and I said, “Forget it! They’re all tied together.” I removed all the posts and I removed the page soliciting posts. The problem seems to be solved, but what a waste of my time, a resource too scarce to squander.
From now on, my rule is that I solicit any guest posts appearing on my blog.
4. Promoting posts on Facebook is worth it.
You can promote Facebook posts for as little as a dollar a day, which is all I usually pay unless the post is extra awesome. It has made a huge difference in views to my blog and likes on my Facebook page. Through targeting, I have reached more people that actually care about my subject. Now I promote virtually every post; when I was posting every day, I promoted my favorites and every guest post. It would be nice if my blog was making a tiny bit of money to pay for these ads; maybe in time, it will.
Am I happy with the new blog? Somewhat. I never planned for it to last forever, and I have other big projects simmering now. Still, I am satisfied that, on the whole, it is a good blog and that I have continued to learn through writing it. I trust this knowledge will continue to serve me well.
What’s the most important thing you’ve learned through blogging?