This is a tale of woes and wins.
This is what I learned during my first month of blogging.
I purchased my domain August 20th, so my blog is almost a month old! I’m excited to tell you about some of my aha moments and what I learned. Be warned, I had no idea when I started writing this post, but it’s my longest blog entry to date! Eek! This post also contains affiliate links which means I may receive a commission, bonus! It hasn’t happened yet, but maybe by Month 2. I’ll keep you posted!
My Background As a Writer
Although blogging is new to me, I’m not a complete newbie to writing or the blogosphere. Let me give you a quick run down on how I got here. I grew up traveling a lot because I have family in the airline industry and I always wanted to be a flight attendant and a writer. I thought I’d want to major in journalism, but I quickly realized all the legal studies involved were a major buzzkill. This led to a complete 180 into fiction writing. I majored in Cultural Anthropology at university, hoping all those history and archaeology classes would serve me well during my travels.
By the time I graduated, I had my first book deal for a steamy romance novel trilogy, available here, from an indie publisher. Not long after, I got another romantic series I had written published, this time by a bigger publisher. Although let me tell you, a bigger publisher does not equal bigger royalties. But having my books published taught me a lot about writing and the publishing industry and most publishers wanted me to be active on social media. These are all things I tapped back into when getting my travel blog going. It would have to be a completely different audience since some of my novels are of the steamy sort. I did have an author website, but it was an easy website for idiots as I call it, hosted by Wix. I’ll tell you more about Wix below and if I recommend it.
Back to the travel blog. What made me start blogging if I have steady income as a flight attendant and a couple feet in the door of the publishing industry?
Honestly? I got injured at work, flying, and was told by the doctor that I’d have to be on bed rest for two months. No travel or anything for two months! I’m rarely home for more than three days at a time so two months (without travel privileges) was nuts! I tried to write more of my current work-in-progress, but the pain meds made me feel…well, not very able to write cohesively. I wanted to maintain my writing schedule (and I just NEEDED to write) so I decided to write some travel posts on a free WordPress site.
When I wasn’t passed out or writing a travel post, I was on Pinterest just scrolling. Pinterest became my best friend on bed rest because it doesn’t require many brain cells. Pinterest is what caused me to consider getting a domain and starting a legit WordPress site that I could monetize. Because why not? I’ve got nothing but time, and it was pretty cheap. And some bloggers out there are making big bucks. And obviously I would have to do a travel blog because it’s all I do. And who knows, maybe I can put Harlingen on the map. 😉 *Sorry, insider Luv Crew joke*
So here I am with a blog, one month in and I’m here to tell you what I’ve learned.
But Jaye, you’ve only had a blog for a month, you can’t be an expert! I’m not, far from it, but you’d be amazed at all you will learn in your first month AND all you can accomplish.
Which host do I use?
I purchased my domain www.theluvaviatrix.com, from GoDaddy, just because at the time it was cheapest. I’ve also used NameCheap for my author site and never had a problem with it. At first, I had planned on pointing that domain to a BlueHost hosted site. It was a slamming deal, 2.99 plus a bunch of advertising bonuses, or 1.99 a month without. I started signing up, and my stupid computer froze. This computer is the bane of my existence and if I ever make money with this blog I’ll use it to get a new one. Anyway, my computer froze and by the time I got it working again, the deal supposedly had expired. It hadn’t even been a day! I immediately contacted Bluehost and explained what happened and that I had already put in all my information and was at Paypal when my computer froze. They would not honor the deal and instead wanted to charge me 5.95 and no advertising extras. Bluehost was the worst customer service experience I’ve experienced.
But why do so many bloggers use Bluehost? Bluehost has a stellar referral/affiliate system. For every referral you send to Bluehost through your blog, you get $$ *cough* So obviously I’m going to include a link right here just in case you feel so inclined. I’ve told you my opinion and now you can make yours 😉 Besides, maybe you can get that deal I missed out on
So who did I go with after Bluehost gave me the shaft? I went with Ehost because it was pretty cheap (not the cheapest at the time) but it came with $200 in advertising extras like Google Adwords, ect. so that was a nice bonus. At this time, I haven’t used the advertising bonuses yet because I thought it would make more of a difference after I had gotten more established and possibly approved by Google AdSense. So far I have had a good experience with Ehost.
The author website that I have for my romance novels is hosted by Wix. Do I recommend Wix? Yes and no. Wix is great for a true beginner. Their templates for website design are basically idiot proof and come out looking very professional. However, if you want to monetize a site, or think you might want to monetize in the future, a self-hosted WordPress is the way to go. If you’re just trying to tell people about your product, whether it’s a book or home made jewelry, Wix is an easy, affordable one stop website shop.
Concerns of a Newbie Blogger
I finally started getting visits and comments, but are they legit? Is this spam?!?
Unfortunately, my early comments were indeed spam. My high of “Huzzah, I finally have visitors!” turned into a “Aww, man…I should’ve known I couldn’t have legit comments already.” In my defense, the comments looked super real and as a blogger, you may have gotten the same ones already. Things like “I love your blog, what is the theme?” This seems like something a normal person might ask, right? But the link at the end did make me leery along with the Mail Catch email address. I googled mail catch and found that it’s a temporary email system. Suspicious much?
As the month progressed, I realized I got multiple comments with this same exact message. Seemingly innocent comments like “I love your blog, what theme do you use?” Or even better, this next one really got my heart rate up, “I love your site so much, but I didn’t see a subscriber list…” This comment too had an iffy link at the end and a mail catch email. My word to the wise is, be very cautious with comments and emails proposing anything with a link or included file. You can never be too careful about malware and viruses. Even before I was a published author I encountered this. I would search Google for things like “publishers” and “editing tips” and “how to get published” and before you knew it I was getting contacted by supposed “boutique publishers”. Luckily, I was smart enough to know that you should never be required to pay for publishing services. That’s what a legit publisher is for.
I have real comments, but I’m locked out of replying. Do I have a virus!??!
This was literally my first reaction when I tried to reply to someone’s comment and got a creepy error message. My reply failed and I got a red message that said, “Sorry. You lose!” OMG I freaked out. Doesn’t that sound like something a hacker would say? Everything else seemed to be working, but I was terrified that I had a virus. I do have software to prevent and scan for that, but I was still scared. My website said that I had no virus or malware, but the comment elements still weren’t working. All comments, even the ones that had already been approved, now said spam check pending. So what happened? I finally noticed a tiny error message that said I hade to reactivate Aksimet, my spam monitoring software. Once I fixed this, everything was right in the world!
Wait, I had comments, but where did they go?!?!?
Okay, this lesson I learned is not just about comments, but about content in general. Always make sure you are backing up your wordpress site. When I transferred my free wordpress site to my self-hosted domain, all my blog posts came through, but I lost the few comments that I had. No big deal since I only had one or two posts, but if you’ve been blogging for a while, I don’t want you to be surprised and have your hundreds of comments disappear. About two weeks into my blogging journey, I had begun to accumulate comments and visits (which I was thrilled about) but I noticed that two posts had lost all their comments. I still don’t know what caused this, but I do know that at the time I hadn’t backed up my site. So back it up, people!
How did The Luv Aviatrix finally get traffic? Organically?
Hell no. I wish. I had to work for it. Week One of my blog I joined a couple FB groups for bloggers. Both of them were set up as support groups, but ever so often they have threads where you can post a link to your site to get visits. This is my number one tip for new bloggers, join a bloggers support group. Facebook has tons of them. Personally, I joined Bloggers Corner and Female Travel Bloggers. I quickly learned what blogging hurdles or wins other bloggers were having and was able to learn from them as well as share questions of my own, such as “Is my paragraph font too small?” I also met other bloggers and was able to see what works for them. Not only that, but I honestly feel like I’ve become invested in meeting these great people with so many interesting blogs! It definitely made me feel less lonely while on bed rest. There are some very inspiring people out there in the blogging community. Want to get to know me better? I’m on Facebook and Instagram more than is good for me 😉
But did The Luv Aviatrix get any organic traffic at all?
Yes! Thank goodness. Let me tell you where most (pretty much all) of it came from… Pinterest. Right now, if you look at my page views, it’s almost 50/50 from Facebook and Pinterest with a few stragglers of google search, ect. The difference is, Facebook is not really organic because it comes from me posting a link to my blog in a few FB blogging groups. Pinterest however is just from people scrolling through and becoming intrigued by my image. If you have a good image designed, it’ll make the person that sees it, want to click on it. I have a post on Pinterest here. So facebook is good because any views are great, but I think it’s worth it to put more effort into Pinterest, because it’s the gift that keeps on giving.
Don’t have endless time to spend on Pinterest? I recommend Tailwind App, it’s a site where you can schedule your pins ahead of time and see how your boards are performing as far as repins and clicks. There is a free version where you can only schedule so many pins and have basic features. You can also pay $100 a year for unlimited pins. As a beginner blogger, I’m using the free version right now and I think it’s an amazing app. By scheduling my pins in bulk, I have more time to write and do other things. Tailwind makes social media easy and Pinterest has been my #1 traffic driver by far. Sometimes I’ll have a tweet retweeted 100 times and might be lucky to get one click to my website from that. Start your free trial here or start using the basic, free version.
Want to learn more about the Pinterest Pins I created to drive traffic? Check out this post for beginners.
How much traffic did you get your first month?
Enough to get approved by Google AdSense! I’m celebrating this as a major win because it makes my blog feel legit! There are requirements that Google has before it’ll approve your site and most bloggers say to wait at least 45 days, but I applied after three weeks and was able to get approved. I know that Google AdSense doesn’t mean I’ll be rich (I learned to have low expectations after getting published lol) but it does make me feel that I’ve created a professional blog, which makes me proud.
What was the most embarrassing lesson I learned?
Okay, so remember how I mentioned Facebook group threads? I’m not on witter much, so I decided to try to get on a retweet thread and see if I could get some traction. The idea behind the group Tweet thread is that all the users share the love and retweet each other. I carefully crafted a Tweet that I thought would pull readers into my site. It was retweeted quite a bit and then I realized something…In only 140 characters I had somehow managed a typo! &*%$ How embarrassing. I finally get a bunch of retweets and my credibility is shot as a writer. *headsmack* What did I learn? Edit and then re-edit. I’ll include the humiliating tweet below so you can see what escaped me.
What am I hoping to learn next?
Okay, so now that I’ve been approved by Google Adense, I need to actually learn how to use it to my advantage. I was terrified this morning when I logged on to my website and saw an advertisement with a huge butt on it with underwear riding up the crack. It was an advertisement about butt health issues. Really!?!? OMG, I was humiliated and I haven’t figured out how I go about changing it. Why can’t I have a sexy Bora Bora hotel ad instead?
So are you a new blogger or have you been around the block? Thank you for stopping by and hearing about my first month blogging. It’s been such a learning process and I’ve had amazing support from other bloggers.
XOXO The Luv Aviatrix
Too much info to take in at once? Pin this post for later 🙂