Here’s a quick update for those of you who don’t know me yet:
I have 4 blogs:
- Stray Curls (the one you’re reading)
- Mind Space Cafe (a personal development blog)
- Draw Cartoon Style (a drawing and art blog)
- NEW Blog on Hair (name to be revealed in a few months)
And I can say is, I’ve been taking blogging very seriously since last year (February 2022).
In this post, I’m just going to show you a brief synopsis of my traffic for the 3 blogs over the last year and then talk about everything I’ve learned about blogging and writing. I’ll mainly cover:
- How I increased traffic so quickly without much help from social media
- What SEO I used
- What tools I’ve used (+ free or cheap alternatives)
- The methods that brought me the quickest results
Obviously, this post is long – I have to make it as thorough as I can.
Skip the traffic screenshots if you want to get to the insights quickly.
But before I move forward, please grab my free 12 page blog planner.
This post includes affiliate links to products I truly (from the bottom of my heart) recommend and use, meaning at no extra cost to you, I may earn a small percentage which I will use to pamper my pups and myself. This gives me more time to experiment with strategies so I can help you.
I’ve had Stray Curls for many years – it’s the blog I publish all my research on blogging on.
Mind Space Cafe was started close to early 2021 so it’s 2 years old now. And the other 2 blogs are fairly new – started last year in 2022.
Mind Space Cafe was 1-year old last year but only got 1.5K pageviews in February 2022.
It made $14 with ads.
I wasn’t writing seriously for this blog because it started on a whim.
Because I took SEO very seriously in February 2022.
I wanted to grow Mind Space Cafe from $14 a month to $1K a year using my own SEO strategies. So, I started implementing them, and within 1 year, here’s how much I was able to grow the traffic:
Here are some details:
- I only wrote 5-10 blog posts each month (approx 2K words each), this roughly translates to about 60-70 posts for the last 365 days.
- I didn’t use any AI or external help – all the posts are written by me.
- I didn’t use any social media – not even Pinterest for the whole year
- I didn’t use any email list and I have no email marketing for Mind Space Cafe as of now
- I used zero promotional strategies, I didn’t promote it anywhere or use paid traffic. It’s completely reliant on Google Traffic.
And you can look at where my traffic comes from:
You can see that over 90% of my traffic comes from Google Search.
People find my blog through Google search mainly by entering phrases and then clicking on my blog posts.
It’s funny because I thought getting to $1K a month in a year would be far-fetched but now I don’t think so.
At the rate the traffic is progressing, by the end of March – I’ll be making $1K a month purely via ads.
Of course, that amount will fluctuate, but I think I have made my point.
The strategy was working so well, that I started 2 more blogs last year: the Drawing Blog and the Hair Blog.
Both of those blogs have picked up beautifully and are steadily increasing traffic month after month.
Here are the updates:
In December 2022 (9th month blogging), my Drawing blog got around 12K pageviews:
In January 2023 (10th-month blogging), here’s how much I was able to increase the traffic:
Here’s what you need to know:
- I used nothing except a little Pinterest because this blog is very visual (will talk about Pinterest later)
- I wrote 20 posts each month for the first 4 months and slowly decreased it to 10 because as a single person writing and drawing, 20 is not sustainable.
- I started an email list 6 months later but only end a newsletter 2 times a month.
- No promotion or paid promotion was used.
- No other social media was used
Over 75% of my traffic is from Google Search.
It’s currently bringing me $200 per month with a mix of ad and affiliate income.
Let’s look at the 3rd blog. I started it in October 2022.
In less than 3 months, I was able to get it to almost 1.5K pageviews – 100% organic search. I haven’t used any social media for this blog and no mailing list either.
The blog has almost 60 blog posts published already. I haven’t monetized this blog yet.
That’s the end of the traffic screenshots.
What have I learned from 1 year of owning and running 4 blogs?
Ah, let’s get to the good stuff that we are all keen on diving into.
1. Any good blogging niche can get traffic
I wanted to prove that any good solid niche that is not dependent on health, finance, or business can actually get traffic.
It is possible to grow a blog in these niches.
None of these niches have anything to do with blogging or business. They don’t talk about money or health. The niches for my blogs are:
- Personal Development/Relationships
These topics are so diverse.
2022 taught me that lifestyle blogs take a LONG time to grow.
A lifestyle blog blogs about a variety of diverse topics, but a niche blog specifically talks about a single topic.
That’s why I started a separate drawing blog, and shifted all the artsy and drawing topics in Stray Curls to Draw Cartoon Style.
I wanted Stray Curls to be dedicated to blogging and business.
Lesson learned: Having 1 dedicated niche is super, super important if you want to grow at lightning speed.
As the months pass, it’s clear that Google gives importance to experience, expertise, and topical authority.
It means that the more focused your niche is, the better your chances of growing quickly and steadily because Google believes that you are an authority in the subject.
And the more narrow you go, the higher your chances of succeeding.
- Instead of a blog talking about all recipes and food questions, have a blog that’s dedicated to vegan dishes or just baking.
- Instead of a blog talking about all musical instruments, have a blog dedicated to just 1 type of musical instrument – like stringed instruments.
- Instead of a blog dedicated to all types of plants, focus it more on flowering plants or succulents.
Some of the mistakes I see bloggers make are:
- Going too broad, like writing a blog that covers skincare, personal development, love, etc., and wondering why they’re not growing
- Choosing a niche nobody is interested in and nobody is searching for in Google
- Trying to start a niche in health/finance (these take eons to grow because there is too much competition already and Google needs to know you have the expertise to discuss these topics)
Hobby blogs do very well like DIY, knitting, makeup, etc.
I talk about some types of blogs you can consider starting if you are out of ideas.
Spend some time figuring out:
- If the niche you’re entering has a chance of succeeding (look at other blogs in the same niche and study their traffic and monetization)
- If you have an interest in the topics in that niche (if you don’t have an interest, you’ll soon lose interest in blogging)
- Whether the niche is too small or too big
I explain how to choose a profitable blogging niche in detail in my eBook Grow your Blog to $1K.
And trust me, if you get this step wrong, you are really jeopardizing your road to success.
Choosing a niche makes the biggest difference if you want to succeed.
2. Spread out first and slowly narrow down
In Mind Space Cafe, I talked about different topics in relationships to see what clicked:
I noticed that a post on cheating took off and Google really liked it because it got the featured snippet.
So, I strengthened that blog post by writing multiple similar posts around cheating.
The traffic jumped by almost 40% the next month.
What did this do really?
- Helped readers click on similar posts from my blog (decreasing bounce rate and increasing traffic)
- Helped Google understand that I am trying to be as thorough as possible about the same topic so I gained authority on the subject
- Overall helped my branding because people who really loved the post, started coming back to read more
It couldn’t be a coincidence, so I did the same with the drawing blog.
I did multiple drawing tutorials on different types of things.
The tutorial on drawing a frog took off.
So, I wrote multiple posts:
- How to draw a mushroom frog
- How to draw a strawberry frog
- How to draw a Christmas frog
- How to draw a frog face
- How to draw a frog on a lily pad
And the same thing happened – the traffic soared 2-3 months later.
This method works. Period.
The only downside to this strategy is that it takes time to find out what clicks.
There are no quick results when it comes to blogging.
When you first start a blog, you need to talk about multiple topics (in the same niche) and obviously, you’re just spreading out and don’t know what will click.
You have to experiment.
Branch out a little and cover multiple topics within your niche to see what exactly is clicking.
It will take a few months – maybe 4-6. That’s okay.
This is the steep learning curve that everyone has to take especially if you don’t have much experience writing, or blogging, or are entering a new niche.
All these niches are new to me so I was learning while writing. And that’s alright.
Once you find what clicks, delve deeper into the topic and start covering it from multiple angles.
Answer every question you can on that topic and become an authority on the subject. I delve deeper into this in my eBook Grow your blog to $1K.
3. Be consistent
In my 5 years of blogging, 2022 was the most productive year ever mostly because I stuck to a schedule.
I made it a habit to write out a few posts each month for all 3 blogs. I spend only 4 hours a day blogging and don’t touch the blogs on the weekend.
I’d set a goal for each blog and it would look something like this:
- 10 blog posts for Mind Space Cafe
- 10 blog posts for Draw Cartoon Style
- 15 blog posts for the Hair Blog
And I’d do the keyword research in the first few days and start writing.
If I couldn’t hit a number, I’d not panic – I’d just pat myself on the back and try a little harder next month.
That’s pretty much it.
I have a post here on being consistent in blogging.
The biggest mistake I see with bloggers is not being consistent.
You can’t do something for 3-4 months and complain you’re not seeing results. You have to do it for a year at least to actually give it a fair chance of working.
And when I say a year, you need to write at least 50-100 blog posts a year for your blog to see any traction – that’s about 7-15 blog posts a month, where each blog post covers a topic in absolute detail.
Is it hard? Not really if you’re a writer.
Does it get boring? Hell yes.
Blogging is pretty much like anything else – skincare or exercising.
Will you see results in 1 week? No.
But do it for months together and you’ll slowly start seeing the difference.
The idea is to build a sustainable routine that you fall in love with and can maintain for a long, long time.
4. Use a Keyword Tool
In order to make a blog work, each article you write must answer a very specific question.
So, what’s the process?
- Understand your niche: To be seen as an expert in your niche, you need to cover all kinds of questions people ask. Some of these questions are high volume and very competitive, and some are low volume and low competition. You have to have a balance of both. This is when Google understands that you’re not doing it for the pageviews, you’re doing it to be helpful and gain authority.
- Look at the questions people are asking, take an interest in finding out who your audience is and what questions they are actually asking that are burning them.
- Answer each question in explicit detail and cover that question so thoroughly that the person should have ZERO doubts at the end of reading your article.
How do you find these topics and questions?
Answer: A Keyword Tool and Google Search
Google Search is free of course, but you need a paid keyword tool to find out topics people are searching for.
A keyword tool gives you the search volume and competition for each topic. I use Ahrefs but it’s costly so I recommend it for bloggers who have been blogging for a while. If you’re just getting started, use KeySearch. It’s the next best thing and the monthly cost is very low!
(Use code KSDISC to get a 20% discount)
If you are just starting out, you need to aim for 0 volume keywords. Zero-volume keywords have a volume but they are so tiny that Google doesn’t put a number on them.
You have to write posts on zero-volume keywords because Google needs to trust you.
The chances of showing up on the first page are very high when you write a post on a keyword that only 10 people are searching for in a month.
Once you notice that you are ranking for many such keywords, slowly increase the number to 30 and then 100.
Move up the ladder slowly.
100 blog posts bringing you 10 pageviews a day will make 1000 pageviews.
100 blog posts bringing you 100 pageviews a day make 10,000 pageviews.
You have to be organized and systematic – that’s how you grow a blog.
Now, here’s the best part.
Every time you write an article for a specific topic, it will bring you traffic for multiple keywords.
For instance, if you write a post on how to draw a succulent that is only searched for 10 times a month, you’ll expect maybe 5 pageviews. But if you do a good job, you’ll get way more.
Because that post will rank for multiple keywords. It will rank for:
- Best succulent drawing (100 searches a month)
- How to draw a succulent for a beginner (50 searches a month)
- Succulent drawing for kids (250 searches a month)
- easy plant drawings (500 searches a month)
This is why I have only 150 blog posts on Mind Space Cafe right now but have 60,000 pageviews.
I am getting traffic for multiple terms for each blog post – this is how traffic works.
There is a knack for finding keywords and using a Keyword tool along with Google Search – I explain this in detail in my eBook Grow your Blog to $1K a month in a year.
I cover multiple free methods using Google Search (if you can’t afford to pay for a keyword tool) and I also cover methods that use a keyword tool (especially if you have 1 but don’t know how to use it)
It’s a guide for beginners and intermediate bloggers who want to get to their $1K within a year.
5. See what’s working and do more of that
The last day of each month is only dedicated to progress reports and analysis.
It’s the most boring activity for me so I usually have some excellent music playing in the background and my favorite bowl of cereal with chocolate chips while I do this.
It’s painstakingly irritating but I know that doing this is what is going to help me understand what’s working.
Sometimes, blog posts that I never put much time and effort into rank very quickly within 4-5 days.
Sometimes they take 6 months to rank and bring in traffic.
I wrote a blog post that I seriously thought would do well on Mind Space Cafe.
6 months later, it was still not ranking.
I was disappointed but I let it go.
Now, 10 months later, it won the featured snippet and brings in almost 10% of my monthly traffic – about 7K pageviews a month. It also earns me quite a bit in ad revenue.
How? I have no idea – Google is weird that way. They really like to take their time when it comes to sorting out rankings.
This hasn’t happened once or twice.
It’s happened over and over again for all my blogs.
But if I go back and read those posts that won the featured snippets, I’ll see that they all have something in common:
- I spent a lot of time finding that keyword on my Keyword Tool or Google Search.
- I understood the search intent of each topic: A person who writes “How to get over heartbreak” needs a post that is kind and human. You cannot sell them anything and you shouldn’t, because they need to heal. You can’t tell them to date or get over the person quickly. All they want is to feel understood – so the post needs to draw from personal experience.
- The post was filled with kindness and patience.
- I tried to help as much as possible with resources to other blog posts (either on my blog or other people’s)
- I didn’t gatekeep (I gave away as much information as I possibly could.
With every single blog post I write, I try to be kind, patient, and helpful.
Some questions can be answered in 500 words because that’s all that’s required. Some need 9K words.
It all depends on the topic you’re answering. Always do the research first.
Write the topic in Google Search and read through the results on the front page.
If the topic has been answered beautifully by multiple websites, I will not touch it because I have nothing better to add. I will only be adding noise. So, I let it go.
But if I feel like the topic can be answered differently via my own perspective or I can make it easily digestible to my audience and readers, I will write the post. I will write the post if I can add something better to it.
I look at all the blog posts on the front page and analyze what is missing:
- Did they answer the question properly? Could they have been more detailed?
- Can I add more examples to illustrate this better? Can I delve a little deeper?
- Have they not covered this idea from a different perspective? Can I do this better?
Once I see that I can do something better, I go for it.
And eventually, when I notice a certain blog post is doing well, I’ll write more posts like it.
For example, if a post like “why did she reject me?” does really well, I’ll write more posts like:
- Why did he reject me?
- How to get over rejection and move on?
- How to stop going back to people who rejected me?
- Why does rejection hurt so much? Is it normal to feel this way?
Do you see what I mean?
6. Learning never stops
As you start getting more page views and earning more money, you need to start diversifying your income.
Maybe you’ll want to add Youtube videos to the lot or use a new social media.
Or perhaps start coaching or freelancing.
No matter what you do, the learning never stops.
You have to keep yourself informed by reading reports, following case studies, trying out new techniques, and watching an endless amount of videos on Youtube.
You have to keep learning.
This is the only way to survive in this field.
Not everything will be easy, things are going to be super complicated at times.
I am currently learning how to do Youtube on Skillshare because I’m interested in talking and vlogging.
I took a free membership from Skillshare for 30 days and I’m working on as many courses as I can. For a limited time, they’re giving free 30-day trials and you can take as many premium courses as you want in those 30 days.
If you are low on funds or are not happy with the courses, just cancel your membership on the 29th day so that your card is not charged. That way you can take all these courses for free.
You need to hurry, this offer is only valid for a few days.
I take a lot of 0nline courses and watch a lot of Youtube videos to keep learning about SEO, google algorithm changes, and so on.
I am constantly trying to keep up with what’s working and what isn’t and I credit my success to being informed.
7. Take it one step at a time
I always tell my coaching clients, just focus on writing content for 6 months to a year.
Don’t do anything else. Just get into the groove of writing.
Once you are in the habit of writing 5-10 blog posts each month, it will start becoming second nature to you.
After 6 months, you can think of starting an email list or you can start working on Pinterest.
Because by then, your blog will be running beautifully and you won’t be struggling to write – you’ll have already built the habit of writing consistently.
Once you’re sending out an email every week, and that becomes a habit, start something else.
Maybe write more affiliate posts or start a Youtube channel.
Diversify at that point.
After a year or two, if the blog is bringing you about 50K pageviews a month and making you $1K every month, start a new niche blog.
You can either sell the old one for $20-30K or continue to build both.
The decision is yours to make.
All in all, it is so important to build a sustainable routine.
This is how you work blogging into your life and you become an actual blogger.
I have used this method in every walk of my life.
- To help my older dog get back into walking, I’d take her on a walk for 5 minutes (and massage her legs before and after) every day before increasing it to 10. Now, she walks 30-45 minutes a day, slowly. But look at that progress!
- I started my skincare like this too, first with just a facewash and sunscreen. Then I slowly started drinking matcha every day and exercising for 5 minutes to improve blood circulation and gut health. Now, I eat home-cooked meals and try to avoid foods that trigger my acne. And there’s a vast improvement in my skin.
You have to do things slowly – build the habit and then incorporate more tiny habits.
If you do everything at once, you will fail because you’ll get burned out or bored and frustrated.
The idea is to do things slowly.
Take it one step at a time.
I don’t even realize I have 4 blogs running simultaneously because I am so used to writing this much now.
I write over 100K words a month for all 4 blogs on my own with no external help, and I love this routine.
I could probably do more, but I don’t push it. I try to do whatever I can.
I have covered every single strategy I’ve used to grow my blogs in my SEO Blueprint and Grow your Blog to $1K a month.
If the SEO bundle is too much, then just get the Grow your Blog to $1K eBook. It will make such a difference to your blogging venture.
You can save so much time and actually get to writing posts so that you can increase your traffic and start making money blogging.
You just need:
- A blog (start a new one or a pre-existing one)
- The patience to search for topics (because I cover how to in my eBook)
- And the consistency to write 5-15 blog posts a month (I discuss how to write and make time for writing too)
It’s the most thorough eBook you’ll find on SEO and I don’t hold back anything. If you’re on my email list, you’ll know.
See the Grow your Blog to $1K a month eBook
Here are a few more blog posts you’ll find helpful:
- How to start a money-making blog when you have no experience
- 7 realistic blogging goals you can set this year
- The badass guide to blogging consistently
- How to start a niche blog that makes money consistently
- How to create an art blog from scratch
- How to create a book blog from scratch + ideas and examples
- How to start a lifestyle blog that is actually successful
- How much money I made in my 6th month blogging on my art blog
- The most frequently asked questions I get asked about blogging [Answered]
Hello! As always, another excellent article, super complete!
What do you think is better – creating one long, very in-depth article on a certain topic or creating several different ones addressing different angles on the same topic?
I’m so glad you loved the post.
To answer your question, it depends.
If you are answering a very specific question and you feel it would be better to cover other specific questions in the same topic in different posts, do that.
If you feel it’s a very tiny topic and the person can benefit from 1 post, then put it all in 1.
If you’re making many posts, some information will overlap, and that’s okay. Because a person reading post A may not read post B even if both are related. So, it’s okay to keep several posts on similar topics.
I hope this helps!
It helped a lot. Grateful!
I’m glad it helped Sophia! =)
Won’t it cause keyword cannibalization?
There is no such thing as keywords anymore. Specifically, it’s about answering a topic.
For example “cheating” may be a keyword. But it’s very high competition. However, “How to get over cheating” is more like a topic even though specifically it’s aa keyword.
As long as the information is specific to the topic, helps the viewer understand the topic.
Also, keyword cannibalization is when you use the same specific keyword multiple times.
“how to clean a sofa” and “how to clean a red sofa” will become keyword cannibalization because the post is basically the same.
“how to draw a television” and “how to draw a man lifting a television” are 2 different posts because the end result is extremely different.
Variations are allowed because again, you are helping the user.
The best way to go about this is to think about the resulting blog post and ask yourself if you’re:
a. helping the user?
b. Covering the topic differently?
c. helping add to your topic cluster?
If the answer is yes to all 3, then go ahead.
Hope this helps.
Hi Angela, Another super informative post. Thanks for all the valuable information you give so that your readers can benefit from it. Keep doing the great work!
So happy to hear from you again Pratishtha – and really glad you loved the post.
Lots of love,
Wow 4 blogs! I can only image! Can’t wait to start more blogs in the future. Great post!
Ha ha, it can be quite a handful, but I’m very passionate about growing websites and having so many resources for people to read and learn about a topic, so it’s alright. =)
I wish you all the best with your blogs in the future.