MIH058:How To Grow Your Blog on a Bootstrap Budget

Are you looking for ways to grow your blog without breaking the bank? Maybe you have just begun blogging and need to find ways to grow it while using your budget for other business needs.

No worries- there is good news! If you want to grow your blog, it doesn’t have to be expensive. In fact, you can get away with barely spending a penny on marketing and advertising.

Since I first began blogging (in what seems like the dinosaur ages of blogging and web tech- back in the mid-2000’s), I have found loads of shortcuts to saving money on blog advertising.

In fact, I bootstrapped my way from humble blog startups with barely any pageviews to thousands of visitors monthly. (As a mompreneur on a budget, these pageviews meant more potential customers to buy my services and products- which is exactly what I was counting on!)

Back in 2006, I didn’t have access to any of the following social media resources I’m about to share with you. There are just so many more ways to spread the word of your blog nowadays, thanks to social media.

Here are just a few ways I have been landing visitors on my blog without spending a penny.

Five key ways to grow your blog on a budget

Write what your readers want to read

This is the easiest way I’ve gained readership: write what my readers love reading about.

No doubt, this may seem like common sense- and really, it is. If your readers want to know about a topic, they will likely search for it in Google. If your blog happens to be in the search engine results (especially if you have a high ranking for the keyword), your reader will have found an answer to their question. If you are answering their question, you win!

The key for blog growth is to continue attracting readers with great content that answers their most pertinent questions and solves their problems.

For this, you really have to get to know your audience. Once you’ve laid down the groundwork for your blog’s purpose and your niche market, you’ll begin to write content specifically for them.

And guess what? Writing content is free. (It just takes some time on your part). But, it doesn’t cost you a cent.

Join Facebook groups

Not on Facebook yet? Do you have an aversion to Facebook and all the chaos that can seem to transpire as a result of being tied down to too many groups or being bombarded with notifications?

If you’re not that into Facebook then you should start to think of it a bit differently. Even if you’re not using it for personal uploads of family pics and keeping up with your high school classmates, you should still at least have a business presence there.

Here’s why: Facebook groups provide awesome engagement.

If you really want your readers to find you and dig into deep discussions about your main topic, then starting a Facebook group can be quite helpful.

On the other hand, starting groups take a lot of work, so you may just want to join a group that someone else started. This way, you can chime in discussions, lend a listening ear, and be of help to others who have questions about your area of expertise.

One way I’ve grown my blog is to contribute to user discussions in groups. If someone has a question about setting up their WordPress blog, I usually chip in and give my two cents worth. I also invite them to download free resources at my blog in order to help them meet their goals. This is the way social media becomes an excellent referral tools for your business.

Pin your posts for maximum viral effect

Every blog post you create needs an opportunity to go viral. It’s no guarantee that it will, but at the very least, it should be positioned for sharing success. One of the best ways to do this currently is through a wonderful little tool called Pinterest.

The reason I love Pinterest is because it truly is a straightforward sharing system. I write my post once and I pin it once to my main board. Afterward I set up my post to be pinned to different, relevant boards.

By joining Pinterest groups and pinning to those boards as well, I’ve opened up my opportunities for virality in a massive way.

After pinning to each board just once, I can then just sit back and wait on my pins to be engaged. This means, other pinners stop and see my post image, like what they see, and repin it to their boards.

And, of course, once pinners are truly hooked on my image title and graphics, they typically click over to my blog from Pinterest, and land right into my corner of the world. Many times they join my mailing list from here and become part of my tribe.

It’s a quick and inexpensive way to grow traffic.

If you want to put a little money into this you can purchase Tailwind to make your pinning life easier, but it’s definitely not necessary. I love Tailwind and without it my pinning would be much, much slower process, but I have gone years without it and my Pinterest account and blog traffic has still grown regardless.

Start guest blogging

By far, contributing to other bloggers in your niche is a profound way to grow your blog on a shoestring budget.

I love this method because it means you can have a zero-following, a baby platform, and come away with a boatload, or just a few more followers you didn’t have before. And you do this all by posting to someone else’s blog and gaining readership through their platform.

When I first began my homeschool blog this was one of the major ways I was able to grow my blog. I guest-posted on several other more prolific homeschool blogs and boosted my following by sharing my posts to readers at these other home education blogs. This, in turn, gave my blog a much larger platform, boosted my SEO ranking, and referred traffic back to my site. A win-win, and completely free!

Invite guest bloggers

One way to get more readers to your blog while adding more content at the same time is to invite guest bloggers. You might be surprised at how many writers out there are itching to provide content for your blog for free in exchange for the writing experience and a credit back to their site.

How does inviting guest bloggers help you?

By encouraging your guest writers to share your blog with their audiences and promote to their social media and fan base you can expand your own audience. Remember, it’s not just an opportunity for your writer to expand their audience, but a chance for you to expand yours as well.

This is free advertising for both of you and is essentially a win-win.

The conclusion:

You don’t need to have a large advertising budget to expand your blog following. You can grow your blog without huge startup expense and you can do it minimally.

All you need is time, commitment, and a desire to help others with your content.

I hope these five action-packed ideas will get you moving toward starting to grow your blog on a bootstrap budget. Let me know how these tips have helped you.

Listen in to the podcast episode featuring this article, and leave a comment. Until next time! 🙂

How to Banish Business Stress as a Mompreneur

We recently found out that we are moving again, so our family has been feeling just a little bit stressed lately!

How do you deal with stress as a mompreneur? How do balance your life hiccups while cruising through your business? (Or do you cruise through?)

As I am surrounded by moving boxes, plus a full schedule of homeschooling, volunteering at our church, and helping mamas create their brands online, I am feeling a significant amount of stress, to say the least.

So how do I deal with the stress? What can you do to overcome life stressors while keeping your business running effectively?

Here’s what I’ve been doing so far that’s helping me keep my sanity.

End some obligations

This is a big one for me since a lot of the time I tend to be over-committed. If you’re a “yes” person, saying no can be really hard.

Essentially, this means saying no to offers that don’t fit my life goals at the moment. Because I love helping everyone, this is not the easiest thing for me, though I am getting much better at it, I admit.

Freeing up some time by ending obligations that don’t fit your life goals will be the thing that propels you forward. Sometimes we just have to say no.

Exercise

One of the best ways I’ve been dealing with stress lately is exercise. I’m loving Zumba and Blogilates with a splash of yoga. It’s okay that I don’t get to the gym much these days since I’ve found my favorite YouTube channels that keep me moving.

Whether it’s to take a walk around your neighborhood, go for a jog, or find a group exercise class you love, exercise certainly keeps the business stress down. All movement helps and gets the endorphins released, which makes you feel happier.

Laugh more

I’ve found that one of the best ways to let go of business stress is to let my hair down…and laugh! Getting together with friends and having a good time together is my definition of a great stress-reliever.

Laughing, like exercises, releases those feel-good hormones.

Don’t have any let-it-loose friends? Find some incredible comedy on Netflix or YouTube and kick up a few laughs to release those stressors.

I find that when I take time to laugh, I feel more productive in business and in life. Laughing is healing.

So, these are just a few of my tips that have helped me to feel better and get rid of business stress.

What are some things you do when business life (and personal life) gets overwhelming for you?

5 Strategies I Used To Increase Blog Traffic in Two Months

Have you been trying to increase your blog traffic lately? I’ve found a few strategies recently that have been working wonders for my blog and I want to share them with you!

I must admit, though…I did a little of everything these past two months because I’m testing out all kinds of things here. Much of what I do to increase blog traffic this year is beta testing for my future marketing plans. I want to know exactly what works and what doesn’t.

One thing that is helpful is that I figured out what blogging mistakes I made in 2017-18 and I want to remedy that this year.

This is why I’ve tried my hands at a number of different social media platforms and marketing strategies recently. Let me share with you what has been working for me.

5 ways to increase blog traffic

Facebook and Instagram

I have to admit- I was skeptical at first when it came to using all of these different social media platforms. In fact, I’ve always found that less is often better.

I don’t wish to spread my energy everywhere…BUT…When it comes to my social I’ve found that Facebook and Instagram regular posts have helped send me some direct traffic.

It’s not an exorbitant amount, but 59% of my traffic is directly from social.

I’ve been posting to my Facebook business page a few times per week (as opposed to barely at all).

I also have been making an effort to consistently post content to my Instagram account more regularly. I’m still not that great with engagement but I am posting and engaging a few times per week.

Pinterest

Another way I’ve been able to increase blog traffic is through my latest social media interest: Pinterest. Pinterest is, by far, my MOST referred traffic over the past two months.

I recently picked up a paid account with Tailwind and have watched my traffic increase as a direct result.

At this point it’s still too early to know exactly which key components of my new Pinterest strategy are working, but here’s what I’ve done recently:

I’m still learning Pinterest and am taking Melyssa Griffin’s course to keep me in the loop.

Mailing List

Last month (in January) I began a strong push toward my blogging goals. One of my new goals for the year consisted of keeping in touch with my mailing list on a regular basis.

So, I put this into action. I contacted my list more often this past month or two and as a result, 33% of my site visitors has been referral traffic, all from just sharing my newsletter and blog posts.

If you’re looking to grow traffic quickly, ask for referrals. Ask your readers to share your content and spread the word for you.

If you have great content on your blog, there should be no reason why your readers wouldn’t share.

Blog Posts

In order to really increase blog traffic I have been doing the obvious: blogging – and a lot. I’ve tried to remain consistent with at least two to three blog posts per week, which has been really helpful.

I think crafting my blog posts has been my biggest challenge- making sure that each post has what it needs to write an incredible post and the biggest impact on my readers.

It takes a lot out of me to sit down and write something incredible, rather than just throwing something up on my blog for the sake of consistency, but I would rather be intentional.

Writing content my readers actually want to read makes a big difference in how I approach blogging these days.

My traffic has grown exponentially and I’ve been able to increase blog traffic simply due to posting content my readers want and regularly. This is such a basic strategy, and so overlooked. With or without social media, if you have amazing content and a responsive list that loves you, they’ll keep coming back for more (and invite others!)

Podcasts

And last but not least, my podcasts have been crucial in bringing site visitors who turn into followers. Through my podcasts I’m able to reach an audience who would never have heard of my blog through a google search or a social media network.

Podcasts give me an opportunity to connect to my listeners in a more personal way. I get to share my story and offer blogging advice, plus introduce you to other mompreneurs who offer their expertise to us.

By sharing my podcasts in Itunes and Stitcher and other podcast directories I’m offered additional opportunities for exposure, which leads to…

drum roll…

…more traffic!

So, yes. Podcasting works. I’m not claiming that it is a completely sweat-free process (there is definitely some hustle involved), but at the end of the day it works.

The connections and relationships I make as a result are so worth running one that I always have to encourage blogging mompreneurs to at least consider starting one.

And that’s it for now! These are five strategies I have used to increase my blog traffic in two months.

What are some strategies you are using? Do you have any questions about what I’ve been doing and how it works for me? I’d love to hear from you.

How to write a blog post in 12 steps

Have you been wondering how to write a blog post that is stunning and attention-grabbing? How do you write a blog post that gives a lot of value to your readers?

Write a blog post in 12 steps

I’ve been blogging since 2005 and found that blogging has become easier with a formula that works nearly the same just about every time.

I don’t have to second-guess what I’m doing. I know exactly what process to use and I go for it!

I want to share with you some of my tried-and-true methods I’ve found over the years that have helped me to write a stunning blog post for my readers.

If you like videos instead, I made one just for you!

How to write a blog post (in 12 steps)

1. Do a brain dump

The very first thing I do is a brain dump. I like to use my Hillsong planner. This one, in fact…

how to find your niche

This is where all my organized posts go after I’ve dumped my ideas into a notebook. Any notebook. (Of course, I have a special Typo notebook I really like, but anything will work, really.)

Use your Google Docs, use Evernote, use whatever you need to.

The idea is to get all your blog post ideas down, divide them out by the month and week, then begin to tackle these ideas one by one.

You can write up one or several posts each week and load them into your WordPress dashboard to be scheduled out.

Before you do all of this, though, it’s a good idea to find related keywords and create an outline.

2. Use SEO in keywords

I like to use Google Keyword Planner to find which keywords people are looking for the most.

When I find a great batch of these, I make a list of them and use them liberally in future blog posts.

For example, for this post in particular I wanted to include one of these keyword phrases:

  • write a blog
  • write a blog post
  • blog post

Why? Because after heading over to Keyword Planner and typing in “blog post”…

I find that there are between 1,000 and 10,000 searches for the phrase “writing a blog post”, and 10,000-100,000 searches for the phrase “blog post”.

Combined with a low competition, these key phrases are great picks for my future post ideas.

I keep a running list of keywords like these so that whenever I run out of post ideas I can always refer back to these.

Interwoven throughout your post, your keywords can really help to boost your blog SEO.

3. Consider your readers’ problems

Although I like to use Keyword Planner to grab keywords to boost my SEO, most of my ideas come from my audience.

If my reader has a problem I want to solve it- through my blog and podcast, my blogging courses, or my books.

Always consider your readers’ problems before you begin writing your blog post to make sure your writing helps them solve something.

4. Create an outline

Before I begin writing the body or “meat” of my post, I need to create an outline.

This helps me to shift my attention towards the specifics of what I want to cover in the post and so that I’m not distracted in my writing.

I find that if I have an outline, I write faster and with more clarity. An outline gives me a clear focus on what I should be discussing in my blog post.

5. Type it up in your favorite editor

My favorite editor happens to be Google docs, but sometimes I write my posts directly within WordPress itself.

Figure out what system works best for you. An editor you really like can make all the difference for you.

Google docs is pretty easy for me. I type it up, then copy and paste it over to WordPress.

Typically, formatting stays the same, which is great.

6. Craft an attention-grabbing headline

It’s only after I’ve written my post that I usually come up with my headline. I do this for a number of reasons: mainly that it’s so much easier to know what to name a post after I’ve written it.

I like to use an online thesaurus to find strong adjectives like “bombastic”, “incredible”, “stunning”, “electrifying”. And, of course, I use these to make my title stand out.

You’ll want to write up a headline that attracts attention to your post content. It should make your reader want to read all the way through the post.

7. Format your post

Formatting is pretty simple.

First you’ll start with catchy your title.

Then, make sure the body of your post has the a proper amount of words. About 800-1,000 words or longer should be perfect.

Be sure to include headers (header 1, header 2) and so forth. For example, this particular paragraph section is called “Format your post”. (Do you see that above?)

It’s actually a Header 2 tag (H2), which allows Google to see it as an important piece of information to my blog underneath my Header 1 tag (the one at the very top that says “How to write a blog post (in 12 steps)”.

Be sure to include meta tags

your focus keyphrase (the one you picked from Keyword Planner at the very beginning)…

and your meta description (which includes your keywords).

8. Create beautiful graphics

We always want our blog posts to look marvelous! How do I do that?

I use graphics.

My favorite graphics creator is currently Canva. I have used PicMonkey and even Adobe Photoshop, but I find that Canva has been so worth it for me.

I like Canva so much that I pay for the pro account monthly. It is easy to use, and super quick for me to whip out those graphics (a must if you’re blogging more than once a week).

These beautiful graphics don’t need to be hard to create. Use templates as a starting point and create one template that meets the needs of all your blog posts. All you need to do is tweak the wording and graphics each time.

These featured images are going to look marvelous on your blog and make your post more attractive. It will also be great for inviting pinners to share your work on Pinterest!

9. Use Grammarly and spell check

Spell check is my best friend…and next to that: Grammarly.

I have made my share of spelling errors in my blog posts, and it can be really embarrassing (especially if something is misspelled in a graphic, which is hard to go back and correct, by the way.)

Better to run the spell check before your readers do!

10. Link up to other posts

You’ll want to be sure to include loads of inbound and outbound links (here’s a tutorial on understanding how outbound links work).

Google loves a blog that is getting link juice from other blogs, but also that shares relevant content.

Be sure to always link to other blog posts within your blog as well as to outside sources that have relevance to your post topic.

11. Offer content upgrades

Lately I’ve been offering more content upgrades with my posts- something I haven’t always done.

I really like doing this because it gives me an opportunity to go above and beyond and offer more than the typical to my readers.

Sometimes I offer a video (like in this post). Other times I offer a podcast.

And sometimes I offer a free printable or worksheet (like with my goals post.) You can still pick up that free planner here if you like 🙂

Figure out what you enjoy offering to your readers and upgrade your blog post. It gives your readers an incentive to read more and allows them to get to know you better.

You also have the opportunity to capture more information on your readers as they offer their email to have you keep in touch with them. In exchange for their email you can offer incentives and upgrades.

12. Hit publish and share!

This is the best part of your post- publishing and sharing! Once you’ve completed the post it’s time to hit “publish”.

The best part for me is always sharing with others.

I like to spread the news on all my social media outlets- Facebook, Twitter, Pinterest, Instagram.

Even if you don’t use all these platforms regularly, share our posts there anyway.

Then celebrate!

Writing a post is hard work and you deserve a celebratory pat on the back, so reward yourself. For every post completed.

Why Start a Blog?

Have you been toying with the idea of blogging? Are you itching to get your thoughts out there for the world to read and enjoy, but you’re just a little bit afraid of the commitment to start a blog?

I totally get it: it takes guts to start a blog and to see it through for years down the road. Quite honestly, bloggers come and go by the dozens because of one reason alone: blogging is hard!

But if you are just a little bit fired up about your product or service, your topic, and your audience, there is absolutely no reason you can’t succeed at blogging.

5 Reasons to Start a Blog

If you’ve been needing someone to just tip you over on the other side and give you a few reasons to motivate you to start a blog, I’m here for you!

Get paid for writing about what you love

When I explain to my friends what I do, they’re like “huh? So…you get paid to write?”

Exactly.

Not only do bloggers find ways to monetize our writing but we quickly learn to tap into other sources of monetization. Writing a blog post may quickly turn into creating other products like ebooks. (I created mine on Amazon CreateSpace and KDP Select).

My blog posts have also turned into podcasts, where I earn affiliate commission or advertising promo spots.

Additionally, blog posts can turn into ideas for videos, which can turn into a robust vlog channel making you some nice residual income with Google Adsense. (Here’s one of mine).

If you get really good at writing for your own blog, you can even offer to begin looking for opportunities to write paid guest posts and start earning money to share your content on other sites.

Be your own boss

Why start a blog? Because you get to ultimately create what you want out of your writing career.

What I love about blogging is that it gives me the opportunity to create something out of nothing. I am creating a community and a tribe because I’m writing about what I love.

I get to make my own choices about what content to put out (based on user-feedback, of course), set my own hours, attract the clients of my choice, and drive the direction of my business.

I absolutely love all these aspects of blogging!

Create your own schedule your way.

As I mentioned before, I like to be my own boss which, of course, includes creating my own schedule.

I have a fairly complex schedule as a busy homeschool mama and brand strategist, but I love blogging and the freedom it provides me to make side hustle money (or a full-time income).

It’s up to me whether I want to dial it down or up- adding on more blogging or less. I truly get to create my own schedule and blog around my family responsibilities.

Meet awesome people in your niche.

Oh my goodness, have I ever met some pretty fabulous and amazing people through blogging!

If you are looking for an easy way to grow your network and meet awesome people in your niche, blogging is the way to go!

The small virtual communities I’ve found are mainly through:

  • following other blogs and commenting
  • following YouTube channels I admire
  • listening to incredible podcasts and following the hosts on social media
  • and of course, social media- Instagram, Pinterest, Facebook

One of my main sources for meeting pretty awesome people is through interviews and podcasting. As I’ve learned the skill of interviewing guests in my niche I’ve also been able to connect with some fabulous mompreneurs along the way and expand my outreach.

Make a difference for other people.

More than anything, I’ve found that blogging has helped me to help others. The thing that excites me the most about blogging is knowing that I’m helping others and making a difference for them.

My homeschool blog is about helping homeschool moms of faith with their specific needs: choosing curriculum, encouragement and support, advice, free resources, and conversations with thought leaders in the home education sector.

This blog at Mompreneurs in Heels is about helping moms entrepreneurs develop their online business from start to continuation: from business idea to blog to content and product development.

I also want to use this as a platform to highlight mompreneurs who are doing it and working their business.

When you find out your business and blogging purpose, it is exciting because you realize that you truly are making a difference for others.

That’s the best part.

Keep learning new things.

Blogging helps me to keep on learning. As I talk to other bloggers, interview guests for my podcast, or just do research for a blog post, I learn something new each time.

Lifelong learning is a goal for me. I wake up each day wondering what new thing I’ll learn. Because I blog daily I research daily…and I just keep learning new things I didn’t know before!

If lifelong learning is big on your list, making blogging a part of your lifestyle can help you to accomplish that.

If you’ve been wondering, “Why start a blog?”, now you know five terrific reasons to get moving on your first blog post!

Do you need help setting up your blog? You can reach out to me and I’ll walk you through the steps. I also help with branding and design services and I’ll be glad to hear what your needs are and help you.

I hope you enjoyed this podcast? What are some of your takeaways?

How To Create an Unforgettable First Impression for Your Blog

Wouldn’t it be great for your blog readers to keep coming back for more of what you have to say?

You would have to be thrilled with repeat readers who love your content and keep coming back for more, right?

This what it’s like to have an unforgettable first impression on your blog. To know that you are helping someone makes all the difference in your blogging experience.

When someone reaches out to you and says “Thank you- your post has really helped me with ____ (fill in the blank)”, it makes you feel good doesn’t it?

It took me so long to begin getting comments on my homeschool blog in 2012. When I finally started hearing from my readers, most of the feedback I often received was about the look and feel of my blog.

Oftentimes my readers told me they felt it had a personal touch and that I was speaking directly to them. This is exactly how I wanted them to feel when they read my blog.

Want to know how I built that unforgettable first impression with my readers? The following are a few tips I’ve used to help me build rapport with my audience.

Put your best face forward online.

The first thing to take into consideration is your appearance online. This includes: blog posts, your website layout, color scheme, videos, and your product packaging (if you sell products- digital or tangible).

What impression are your readers getting when they land on your website?

The first thing I usually start with is the look and feel of my website. I want to make sure I really like my color scheme, logo, and site layout. If I love how my site looks I can confidently share it.

Next, I focus on my creative media- like my podcasts and videos. If I’m making a video for the week, I want to make sure I definitely put my best face forward.

I do a quick hair and makeup check before I record. No need for lashes or an entire makeup routine, but I do have to throw on a pair of pants (other than the yoga pants I wore around the house all week) and a decent blouse before I hit the record button.

If I want to make a good impression on potential customers I need to make sure I practice better business branding.

Be original.

The best way to make an incredible first impression on your blog is to be yourself.

Let’s face it- your blog is unique because your voice is unique. You are you and no one else, and your blog should reflect that.

What makes your blog original?

Is it your incredible graphics?

Is it the way you write- engaging and pulling in your reader?

Is it the media you add- like videos?

Do you tell a story no one else can?

Whatever your unique take is, your blog should sound only like you.

The great thing about blogging is that you don’t need to capture anyone else’s voice. Your own voice is what attracts the right clients to you.

Pay attention to your customers.

The best very best thing you can do on your blog is to shower your readers with a lot of attention.

“How exactly do I do this?” you might ask.

Answer: your mailing list!

When I first started blogging, I missed out on this very important step. I completely forgot to capture my readers’ emails so that I could keep in touch.

I went six months with my homeschool blog before I realized how I had been missing out on this important feature of my blogging business.

Here’s my advice if you’re starting a blog: make sure your readers are signing up for your mailing list.

This is the only way you have true permission to keep in touch with your readers -who may become customers!

It also makes a fabulous incredible first impression, because your customers see how important keeping in touch with them is to you.

What do I do with my mailing list subscribers?

  • Offer them free incentives often.
  • Treat them like VIP’s with discounts and coupons.
  • Share special information and resources reserved only for subscribers.
  • Invite them to free VIP virtual events.

Have these tips been helpful? Are you ready to create an unforgettable first impression on your blog?

Here are a few more posts to check out:

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