I’ve never really written one of these posts in my 2 and a half years of blogging. If you go through my past blog posts, each one is a detailed blog post that covers a topic in blogging thoroughly.
I pride myself with the fact that I have spent at least 2 weeks writing each post because detailed guides definitely take a lot of time to create.
But today, I wanted to do something different. Something that would sum up all my learning for the past 2 and a half years that you could consume all in 1 post – my blogging lessons learned over so many years of online business.
A little back story:
I started Mary Angela Designs (my first blog that no longer exists) in 2015. It was a fun project that I believed would make money immediately.
Sadly, it didn’t. Even after 1 year of writing 100+ posts. Even after hitting 50K+ page views every month.
I explain most of my blogging mistakes here.
All in all, it was a powerful lesson and I paid attention to all the mistakes I was making. The main ones were:
- I catered to everybody instead of a specific target audience
- I didn’t have any sort of business plan
- Making money was something I thought would happen automatically
So naturally, I was scared when I wanted to start my second blog. I was worried that it would fail, but I bit the bullet and did it anyway.
And now looking back, I can see that the decision to do so was totally worth it.
Today, I hardly have 40-50K page views a month but I make over $4-5K every month – most of it coming from my digital products which include my eBooks and printable planners.
I convert over 15% of my readers into buyers almost immediately with my tripwire products alone.
I am honoured and touched by the kind emails I receive from my readers every day either thanking me for my advice or posts or just finding value in my products.
It just powers me through blogging and gives me that push to work harder on Stray Curls.
I’ve definitely learned a lot of blogging lessons over the past few years and I wanted to share some of the most amazing discoveries that impacted my blog in a positive way in this post.
This post includes affiliate links to products I truly (from the bottom of my heart) recommend, meaning at no extra cost to you, I may earn a small percentage which I will use to feed my sweet, adorable pooches.
1. Progress over perfection
Being consistent is something I have struggled with for a long time.
I am an artist. This means I have a lot of unfinished drawing pieces, a lot of different art styles and a lot of projects that I promise I will come around to but never do.
Procrastination is second nature to me.
The main reason is – Perfectionism.
Until something is perfect, I cannot publish it to the world otherwise I’d die of shame. (I’m kidding of course, but you get the drift)
2020 taught me that perfectionism can be detrimental to your success.
See, while I was sitting and mulling over a giant 5K word post, scrutinizing every paragraph and adding brand new hand-drawn illustrations, my competitors were pushing out seven 2K word posts a month or more.
All my perfectionism did was make me lose traffic. Losing traffic means:
- Gaining fewer leads
- Gaining fewer sales
- Losing Brand authority (Google likes blogs to be consistent)
Basically, I was creating more than publishing. So, even if I worked 2 weeks on a post, someone seeing my blog page would be like, “Huh? She’s only posted twice this month? Maybe, she’s not active?”
That really blows.
So, what hacks did I use to overcome this need to write perfect posts?
1. Write more list posts
Instead of every post being a heavy tutorial, I started writing shorter posts that were more readable and enjoyable. They helped boost traffic and got me lots of leads!
Not to mention, each of these shorter posts contained nuggets of wisdom that could be implemented almost immediately.
2. I started recycling content
Instead of using 10 new hand-drawn illustrations for each post, I’d create 3 or 4 new ones and then reuse old pieces for my new post.
I apply the same method for social media posts.
Once I finish writing a post, I take little snippets from the post and queue it in my Smarterqueue and link back to the post. It recycles all my posts so I never run out of social media posts.
This saves me so much time from having to think of different captions or posts for my social media.
3. I stopped obsessing with quality
I always stress on Quality over Quantity. You’ve heard me repeat this a thousand times.
But the truth is, sometimes perfectionists can go overboard.
The best way to deal with this? Set deadlines.
Set a deadline for how much research you’re going to do. Once you cross that time limit – stop. You’ve done enough. You’re going to wear yourself out if you research any further.
Set deadlines for writing posts, writing emails, everything.
Which brings me to my next most important point…
2. A monthly plan goes a hell of a long way
I love to plan, but 2020 made my planning more organized.
Before, I’d set very childish and unreasonable goals like – Get 1K followers on Pinterest or make $1K blogging. That was it. Those were my blogging goals and I’d wake up each day thinking how I’d hit it.
I never broke down those blogging goals or identified tasks that were going to help me reach them.
This is a huge mistake.
Now, what I do is identify what goals I want to achieve at the beginning of the year. You can do this at any month. But I love to take the last 2 weeks of December off to do this.
For example, if my yearly target is to make 10K blogging for the whole year, then I’d have to make approximately, $833 blogging each month.
So, I’d break it down further. For example:
What are my expectations for each month when it comes to monetization?
- $300 – client services
- $300 affiliate marketing
- $250 – ads
This makes it a lot more doable, right?
Now, in order to hit that $300 with client services, what should I do?
- Write 3 posts that attract clients and lead them to the Services Page
- Publish at least 50 posts on social media (like FB and Twitter) to raise awareness of my services (this I would break down again into what type of posts I would publish)
- Do a client outreach by cold-emailing prospective clients
Now, I would do a similar plan for the remaining 2 monetization strategies.
Brilliant, I now have my tasks listed.
All, that’s left is to allocate these tasks to each day.
So I would take my notes app or planner, (whichever you prefer) and allocate tasks to each day.
This gives me clarity.
I can now wake up each morning with a clear plan of what I need to do each day. I don’t focus on anything else except the tasks on my daily plan.
I highly recommend that you get my updated 50-page blog planner that you can print at leisure and make your blog plans more organized.
3. Tripwires, baby!
I really never explored this strategy properly until 2020.
Why did I join this so late?
A tripwire is a small product anywhere between $5-$50 that is sold as a one-time-offer to readers after they opt in for a freebie.
Basically, anyone who signs up to receive a freebie on your Blog is quickly redirected to a tripwire page (with a countdown timer) as soon as they enter their credentials (name and email) in your opt-in form or landing page.
Pros of having a tripwire:
1. It breaks down your reader’s resistance to purchase from you
This is crucial if you’re selling eBooks, eCourses, services, or membership programs.
Your reader gets a taste of your paid product and is inclined to purchase more products from you. Meaning, you convert more readers of your Blog to customers.
2. It helps build an email list full of buyers
These people who convert into buyers immediately, join your email list, and your chances of selling higher-paid products to them increase significantly.
It’s easier to nurture people who have already purchased from you and trust you.
3. It’s an excellent source of passive income
Granted – it’s not a lot of money. But it’s income that you don’t need to work for actively. This is purely passive income profit.
You can wake up to Tripwire Sales every morning once you implement them.
In my eBook – Little Tripwire, I explain the exact tripwire strategy that I use to convert 15% of readers to buyers immediately when they sign up to my email list and get this kind of sales. Check it out here.
I also illustrate several other’s bloggers’ tripwires so you can create your own within 24 hours!
4. You need to invest money in order to see money
Blogging is definitely a jump in the unknown.
I live in India. I don’t know any bloggers here where I stay. Everything I know and learn about blogging is online. On my laptop.
Is it scary? Yes, in the beginning.
Not so much now.
There is a risk when you start a blog – not if you’ll make money but when. When you’re going to money is a huge fear that lives in every blogger when they start their blogs.
It’s completely natural and you can only do what’s best – work hard and keep learning from your mistakes.
Not everybody who starts a blog takes it seriously. A lot of people believe that they can start a blog for free and make millions a year.
No. That’s not how it works.
Today, everybody is starting a blog and paying for it. By paying, I mean getting a paid domain and hosting and then investing in a good WordPress theme like Divi or Avada.
You cannot possibly hope to achieve much if you start a blog for free. You’re already jeopardizing your success.
And if you don’t have the money to invest in your new blog or cannot afford it, don’t start one with the intention of making money.
You will be wasting a lot of time.
Please note that I am not saying this to discourage you, this is a harsth truth that I had to learn from trying to go down the cheap route with my previous blog.
Here are a few crucial investments you have to make:
- Hosting and Domain
- A good WordPress theme (like Divi or Avada)
- An email marketing software (FloDesk if you’re crunched for cash or ConvertKit if you know about email marketing already)
- Keysearch (to help you identify good long-tail keywords, use KSDISC for 20% off)
Here are a few investments you can make once your blog starts making money:
- SmarterQueue (this will save so much time)
- Social Snap (to have beautiful social media sharing buttons on each post)
- Grammarly (to proof-read your posts and save you time editing)
- Styled Stock Society Photos (I currently own a lifetime membership for my second blog and I love this)
If you want to do more research, I have a post that speaks about the real expenses of running and maintaining a blog.
5. Focus on high ROI tasks
ROI stands for Return on Investment.
Now your investment can be time and/or money. For me, it’s both.
I’d rather buy a stylish and pretty eBook template (that I can reuse indefinitely) than work from scratch on an eBook design for 7 days.
The content is going to bring me an income – not the design.
Likewise, focus on high ROI tasks.
And cut out the rest of the crap or reduce it to a minuscule amount of time. I have also accepted that I cannot tweet. I’m not a tweeter.
So, I use SmarterQueue. I schedule everything in advance and put it on evergreen mode, meaning once all the posts are scheduled, it will recycle the posts. This means that I don’t even need to sit and schedule my posts once a week.
I’m lazy. I cannot afford to be everywhere all the time. So, I will write 7 variations of 1 post and include 5 images, thus creating 35 different posts. And it’s evergreen. So, it will repeat once in 3 months when all my evergreen posts are done being scheduled.
I sit and create posts just 1 day of the month to feed into my Smarterqueue.
The best part? It’s only $19 a month. I don’t need a VA since I can put everything on auto-schedule.
This $19 helps me spend time on more important things – like writing my weekly newsletters. Every time I send an email out, I get sales. Because people download my freebies and purchase the related tripwire.
I explain my whole Tripwire strategy in this eBook. The more people you have on your list, the more digital product sales you’ll make.
So, now that I know writing emails makes me more money than writing social media posts, I dedicate more time to that!
Do you see how ROI works?
Likewise, replying to comments and emails doesn’t make me direct money, obviously. So instead of checking my emails every day, I only look at it in the morning and reply to important emails. The rest can be attended to do at the end of the week.
I do not check my emails when I work. It is a huge time drainer.
I do not engage in Facebook groups every day because getting clients is no longer part of my monetization strategy. Once a week is aplenty.
I have tried to cut down all tasks that suck my time and energy and also give me minimal returns.
And because of this, I can work barely 2-4 hours a day and still make the same amount each month.
6. Stick to your strengths
In 2018 (the year I started Stray Curls), I wanted to create an eCourse.
Yes, a full-fledged course.
I did my research and found out the following:
- An eCourse required a lot of planning (regarding the modules, the type of content, etc)
- It required a lot of time to make (consider the risk of making no sales after launching)
- I had to purchase hosting for the eCourse (and it was a huge expense since I wasn’t making much money on my blog)
- I didn’t have a huge email list, so the chances of making back my investment were slim
- I couldn’t imagine making more than 1-2 courses
After doing my research, I decided that an eCourse was just not a good fit for me, so I opted to write an eBook.
That $14 eBook made me $1000 in the first 40 days of launching it. I was really proud of that achievement.
Writing comes to me very naturally because I’m a born story-teller. I try to compliment my writing with my illustrations and this makes it more fun because I love to make people laugh.
In 2020 alone, I wrote 4 eBooks and created 1 mega-huge eCourse.
All in all, it was a very productive year. Even though my eCourse costs $149 (which is almost 3-5 times more than an eBook), I still prefer writing eBooks.
I cater to beginner and intermediate bloggers and my audience prefer my writing because they are more comfortable with it.
A lot of bloggers in the same niche prefer eCourses and that’s fine too.
There is no one side to blogging. You can make money blogging doing what you enjoy doing. So, if you prefer affiliate marketing rather than writing sponsored posts, do it!
I prefer making money via eBooks mostly and each blog post is geared toward helping women get one step closer to their blogging goals – whether it is traffic, or making money or both.
Salma uses her Web Design blog to raise awareness of her web designing skills and get her clients. She makes well over $5K a month doing what she does.
Lisa Glanz uses her beautiful illustration blog to sell her clipart, huge illustration bundles. She also uses it to raise awareness of her Skillshare Classes.
Likewise, figure out what your strengths are and use your blog to highlight them!
7. It’s not shameful to ask for help when you’re failing
As a person who used to be too proud to ask for help, this one took me some time to learn and make peace with.
You see, I pride myself on the fact that I can learn everything by myself. Up to a certain stage, it worked. But this process takes longer and there are some things you cannot get for free no matter how far and wide you look.
When I got a digital tablet and tried to learn illustrating by myself, it took me a lot of time to learn. But once I took a couple of these cost-effective drawing courses, I was able to speed up my learning from months to days.
And I improved drastically.
I explain my whole illustrating process and tools here.
Experimenting and tweaking are good ways to learn something, but if you can learn from someone who got ahead much faster, then why not spend a few bucks learning from these experts?
Yes, you will buy a few dud products. But this teaches you to do your research before buying.
I once purchased a $27 workbook that didn’t teach me anything. It was pure fluff.
I was disappointed. I went back to the blogger’s blog posts and realized that every post was well within 500 words and only had flowery language.
She kept pointing to her products but never really revealed what they would teach.
Her premise went along:
“After buying this workbook, you’ll make $1000 in sales”
All well and good, but what methods would she be teaching that would lead me to make $1000 in sales? It was not mentioned.
So, blaming her for the product was wrong, because it was my fault for not being diligent.
This made me realize that I had to pay more attention to the features of a product as well as the benefits and outcomes. Apart from that, I realized that bloggers who wrote good blog posts rarely created products that weren’t worth the money.
Excellent blog posts equal excellent products.
This also prompted me to learn how to write better sales pages. And last year, I tweaked the sales page of one of my best-selling eBooks (my traffic eBook) and noticed the rise in sales as soon as I made the change.
Good sales pages translate to a good number of sales.
You can get my free sales page template in this post.
By the time 2020 rolled around, I started investing in really good products from Bloggers I really loved and I saw results almost instantaneously.
Here are a few products I bought recently and highly recommend to anyone who wants help in these fields:
Journey to the Centre of Amazon by Debbie Gartner
I did my research on Debbie before buying this eCourse. She makes $4-5K per month via Amazon affiliate marketing alone. She’s made over $180K in amazon commissions totally and I checked out a few of her blog posts before purchasing this eCourse.
All of it confirmed that this would be a good buy. So, I went ahead and got it ASAP.
I don’t have many amazon affiliate posts – but implementing her strategies in just 2-3 of my best ones, increased my sales almost immediately.
I highly recommend this eCourse to anyone wanting to learn how to double or triple their amazon affiliate sales.
Pinteresting Strategies by Carly
2020 was awful for bloggers using Pinterest.
We saw huge drops in impressions, link clicks and traffic.
And I knew my Tailwind strategy was no longer working because I was just losing traffic from Pinterest. So, I bit the bullet and finally invested in Carly’s eCourse, and in this post, I explain how I used her eCourse to make manual pinning work for me.
Affiliate Marketing by Carly
This eCourse was the first one I got from Carly.
And it made me realize that this Blogger is all about quality and results. Her students have amazing takeaways. This eCourse taught me how to write better emails and become better at affiliate marketing in general.
However, if you’re focussed on amazon affiliate marketing alone, I highly suggest you get Debbie’s eCourse first because it deals specifically with amazon affiliate marketing hacks.
All in all, buying these eCourses helped me make leaps of progress in a short time.
And these are the major lessons I learned while blogging, that actually made a huge difference to the way I blog and the way I earn.
Major takeaways from my blogging lessons:
When you start a blog, I can guarantee you will succeed if you follow these steps to the bone:
- Choose a profitable blogging niche, I have a workbook that will help.
- Blog consistently – create a schedule that works for you and stick to it no matter how hard it is or how much you want to give up. Create a content plan for every quarter in advance so that you don’t have to do research daily or rummage for post ideas.
- Add monetizing strategies 6 months to 1 year from when you start. This helps you build loyalty and will help you make money much faster.
The key to adding the right monetization strategy is to see how your competitors are making money.
If I had a pet blog I’d make money via the following ways in this exact order:
- Make money from amazon affiliate marketing from day 1
- Hit 50K sessions and apply to Media Vine ads.
- After crossing $2K a month, I’d create pet products like collars and toys and have all blog posts lead to those products or affiliate products
Creating products would be the final step because, without steady traffic and loyalty, it’s hard to get sales. So, making my own products would be very risky in the beginning.
However, for Stray Curls, it was different.
6 months in, I created my first eBook as an experiment and when that sold really well, I started adding more eBooks to the mix.
eBooks and eBook tripwires have become the primary source of my earnings. And it’s taken me a while to hone in on this craft.
So, apart from following the steps above, it’s is crucial that you be patient.
It takes a while to figure out what monetizing strategy and what promotional strategies will work for you. Every blogger is different and their struggles are different.
In the end, patience and consistency is the key to achieving success in the long term.
You cannot fail if you do this.
Now, if you’re keen on reaching your goals faster and shortening your learning time, I have an excellent resource and summarizes all the major takeaways:
- The basic but most ignored tips which are crucial for building a successful blog
- Included are all the important Traffic and SEO tips I’ve implemented to land on the front pages of Google Search
- The steps that helped me discover my brand and voice
- The best monetization methods that will bring you money quickly
- My productivity tips that you can use instead of hiring a VA
- My personal strategies for maintaining a positive mindset even when nothing is going right
Behold my eBook – 50 Hacks.
And if you’re ready to become more organized with your business and take the first step toward creating a strong and extremely easy-to-follow business plan, then check out my 40+ page business plan workbook that will take your blog to the next level!
And if you’re looking for more resources to help you on your blogging journey, here are some excellent guides:
- 17 Reasons your blog isn’t making money
- How much does it really cost to build and run a blog
- 7 Pinterest hacks that are working in 2021
- 33 Traffic Hacks to skyrocket your traffic this year
So, tell me, what lesson did you learn after months/years of blogging that made a huge difference to your blog?
Another great post, Angela :D
I got the 50 hacks book, and it’s amazing! (if anyone is wondering, it’s totally worth it! )
I’ve been trying to launch my own blog for almost two years now; I keep second-guessing myself and waiting until “everything is perfect,” as you said in your email. Ugh, I really hope I’ll be able to overcome that soon!
Your posts always motivate me to keep going!!
Awww, thank you so much Natalie! You’re too kind.
2 years is too long! Don’t wait that long. Google wants dated blogs. So, start asap. And don’t worry about being perfect. You can always modify as you grow! :)
Lots of love, and that final push to get you started!
This is BEAUTIFUL! Thank you so much, Angela, for taking my idea into consideration! <3
The Major Takeaways at the end perfectly summed up the monetization route I'd been looking for. You really provide such quality content for free. Aaa, thank you! You're amazing.
Lots of love and a big hug!
I had been meaning to answer your question for a long time. I found the perfect opportunity to do that in this post. :) Glad you found it helpful!
Lots of hugs,
whenever I feel low and demotivated I just open your blog and start reading your blog posts. They are always inspiring n helping and are really god-send. Thank You so much for the amazing stuff you are doing here. Keep creating the magic with your illustrations. I just love them.
I’m glad my posts help you Pratishtha. I won’t be stopping any time soon. :)
Hey Angela… I am Ananyaa,
I am gonna start writing a blog but I couldn’t think of a name for it. Can you please say any tips to name a blog?
Ananyaa, name it absolutely anything. Brownie points if the name includes a keyword related to your niche! :) However, it’s not entirely necessary. My blog is named “Stray Curls” but has nothing to do with blogging or online business. Ha ha.
Gotcha… Thank you :)
Hi Angela! I think the main takeaway I got from this post is to be patient. When I research about how to make money blogging most blogs give the impression that you can start making money straight away. From this post however, I’ve learnt to be patient and work on building traffic to my website and then think about monetisation strategies. I’m really excited to read your 50 Hacks e book so I can start working on my blog! Thanks so much.
I started a new blog 6 months ago and it’s still not getting much traffic. That’s totally okay because I know it will take a while to kick in. Yes, you need to be patient. It will easily take 9 months to a year to start seeing some traffic. And with time, it grows almost exponentially.
I hope you love the eBook. It contains all the tips that have worked for me so far.
These bloggers that make money almost immediately, have had prior experience or are starting a niche in the money-making or financial sector. Those kick off super quickly especially.
Be patient, and stick to one niche. Your blog will take off. :)
Lots of love,
Hey Angela, Great explanation about blogging. Blogging is a great option for online incoming, only if you the right way of doing this. I am also a blogger, and your content is really inspiring for me. I appreciate your efforts on this post. Thanks for sharing
Thank you so much John! :)
Your blog is wonderful, I am delighted with your drawings!
And your book is just wow! A fantastic resource for bloggers who want to educate themselves on various topics, but only have a small budget to do so. I found the SEO and traffic section to be the most helpful.
Keep it up and good luck to you!
Thank you so much and I’m so happy that you enjoyed the ebook. :) Let me know if you ever have any questions and I’ll be more than happy to help!