If you said make a boatload of money by such and such a date – you could very well be putting the cart before the horse.
When people launch a blog with the intention of making a decent living from their website – they usually become quickly disillusioned.
Repeat after me: You can’t make money from a blog if you don’t have any traffic.
It’s simple really.
Your first goal in blogging should be gaining traffic – preferably the kind that converts.
Don’t Put Dollars First
Starting out in blogging is an act of frustration.
You put hours of time into creating content for your website, and nobody shows up.
You dabble in some of the variety of ways that bloggers traditionally make money – and you turn up with nada.
So, you figure you must be doing something wrong and you set out to learn about the tricks and techniques that people use to build traffic.
You start learning about webinars, social media, Facebook ads, Adwords, and other marketing strategies.
Meanwhile, the people around you are laughing at you and telling you that you are wasting your time.
And then you give up – before you ever even started.
Why do I know this? Because I have been there.
Traffic Should Be Your First Goal
In the beginning, instead of focusing on dollars – you should focus on unique visitors instead.
In order to make money from your blog, people need to perform an action.
They need to
- click on an ad
- make a purchase through an affiliate link
- buy your product or service
- subscribe to your email list, or
- read and share your sponsored post
But before they can do any of those things – they have to actually show up.
How Much Traffic Is Enough
I’ve heard it said that on a lifestyle type blog you need about 100,000 unique visitors per month to make money.
Alexa at SingleMomsIncome.com made over $2,000 in one month from ad networks on her blog. But as she reveals in this article – her traffic is over 145,000 pageviews per month.
The thing is, you can’t get that much traffic if you are not writing. Based on a quick Google site search Alexa’s site has 1,050 indexed pages.
That is a good sized blog.
So, you might get discouraged and think that you will never have that level of traffic – or you can just put your nose to the grindstone and churn out the words.
How Will You Measure That Traffic
It surprises me that many new bloggers don’t know much traffic their blog is getting.
Keeping track of your metrics is important so you can learn about what strategies work and what don’t.
Google Analytics is a free stats package that measures tons of information about your website.
It can be a little overwhelming because there is so much data.
I have found that StatCounter is a simpler tool. It is also free and easy to install.
I use both on my site. StatCounter gives me the quick snapshot and I delve into Google Analytics once a month.
Create SMART Goals for your Blog
You are probably familiar with the concept of SMART goals:
- time bound
In terms of blogging goals – use this formula for your traffic.
If you are getting 20 visitors per day – set yourself a goal of say, 40 for the following month.
Then create a blogging strategy to make it happen.
Challenge yourself to post 3 times or more per week.
Make sure your posts are search engine optimized.
Install a stats package on your website.
Check it weekly to see how your posts are performing.
Don’t fall into the trap of checking your stats too often – this can be a huge drain on your productivity.
Don’t set your sights too high.
Only commit to write 3 times per week if you actually have the time to do so.
It is better to commit to 1 time per week if that is really what you are going to do.
Your target traffic number will depend on how many times you post per week.
Don’t expect to double your traffic if you only post once a month – adjust your blogging goals accordingly.
Give yourself a deadline.
If this is a one month goal – compare your stats from the beginning of the month to those at the end of the month.
Make some decisions as to whether your strategy is working. Reevaluate, tweak, and make new goals for the following month.
As your traffic increases you can introduce another strategy and so on and so forth.
You can even move into setting monetary goals at that point.
Nothing Wrong With Dreaming
Don’t get me wrong, there is nothing wrong with setting lofty blogging goals for the long term.
In fact, Mark Murphy says that SMART goals can sometimes be dumb in this Forbes.com article. After all, some of the world’s innovators may never have made great strides if they had set “realistic” and “achievable” goals for themselves.
However, in the short term – it is probably best to keep your blogging goals SMART.
As you set out to grow your blog, put traffic numbers ahead of dollars and monetize once you hit those goals.
If you blog in a highly targeted niche – you may be able to convert less traffic into paying customers.
Using my lilac example from yesterday – a blog about lilacs will draw a very targeted audience made up of people that are interested in growing lilacs. They will be much more likely to engage with ads and offers on your website than people that are visiting a more general lifestyle type site.
Have You Set Blogging Goals for Your Website?
Do you have a blog that you monetized to early? What were some of your biggest challenges when you first started out? What did you do to course correct?
Share your ideas in the comments below.