Starting a Blog from Scratch (Documented)

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STARTING A BLOG FROM SCRATCH

If only you knew how much I agonized over writing this series. Inspired by other blog income reports, I thought “This is great, but not for me.” But, true to my entrepreneurial spirit, I saw a big gap and wanted to fill it.

  1. Most blog income reports are published by meta-blogs. The only blogs that are consistently providing a blog income report with a breakdown of income vs. expenses are blogs that blog about blogging.
  2. Most blogs wait until they’ve made some money from their blog until creating their first report. People don’t get to see how they get from $0 to $100.

I didn’t start this blog to make money, rather I wanted it to be a platform for other opportunities.

I have built successful businesses with the strategy of initially projecting that you’re a bigger brand than you actually are. An income report that reads ZERO? I was immediately averse to it and felt it may even hurt my brand.

I needed to get over myself. The point of SipBlack is to provide tested and proven strategies for starting a business. Consistently providing an income report is a great way to show how the methods I provide actually work. An income report that reads $0 sucks.

Until it no longer reads zero.

What transforms a good solopreneur into a recognized and respected entrepreneur? Their story (struggles included). If I don’t document exactly what I did to achieve success, then how on Earth am I going to tell my story?

The Goal:

Create a new income stream of $3,000 a month solely from SipBlack.net

DISCLAIMERS

I will not be including any of my revenue from other businesses I own in my reports. Simply from the blog.

I will not be using my other businesses or social platforms to promote SipBlack.net. All social media outlets will be newly created. This is truly growth from scratch.

Background Information

  • I’ve created multiple successful offline businesses, SipBlack is my first online business
  • I’ve read at least 20 blog income reports, analyzing how they made money and how it fit with their brand. Matthew Woodward’s post on exactly how he grew his blog in one year motivated me to start keeping track of what I’m doing (cause I’m doing a whole lot!)
  • I know crap about coding… nothing at all

Reasons I Decided to Start a Blog

  • Scale back on consulting services + reach a bigger audience
  • I got married, I became a mother, I moved to a new state. Truthfully, I need to be home more
  • Wanted to book more speaking engagements outside of my area & do less work on “selling myself” (pitch outlines, resume, blahhh all that stuff). Rather just send them here or better yet; have my readers vouch for me
  • Wanted to expand my portfolio, try something that seemed impossible
  • I love to write, but being a grownup and a multipreneur, I don’t have time to write for fun. I need to get paid for that.

Multipreneur: running multiple businesses in different niches at one time.

  • I like the idea of my business card having nothing more than my website (maybe a tagline) and phone number. Feels classy.
  • Having a longer, intimate connection with my audience (a more massive scale of the example “when clients become friends”)

What I Intend to Get from This Experiment:

I’ll be implementing tools I’ve used for my offline businesses and consultation experience (the same methods I present to my readers) and apply it to SipBlack. This will seriously solidify my spot as THE creative entrepreneur expert because you can actively watch how I make these strategies work for my own business.

“Yeah, I watched her build a successful business in an oversaturated market.. from beginning to end. She knows exactly what she’s talking about.”

Selectively accept more individual clients and grow their business in the same way.

I’ve had some ideas for blog growth that no meta-blog on the internet talks about (ever!). So, either I’m completely naive or absolutely brilliant. If it’s the latter, then I need to have this in the black and white to refer to for my future interviews.

Mistakes I’ve Made So Far

I haven’t even officially launched yet, and I’ve already made some serious screw-ups.

  • I started on wordpress.com. Straight up newbie mistake. Here’s the thing, I knew that it was better to be self-hosted, I’d read tons of articles explaining the benefits of self-hosting. Still, I was determined I didn’t need it yet because hello… I had no readers.

I already had my domain name and was mapping it on wordpress.com ($13/yr). So, that was never a problem.


I started on wordpress.com. Straight up newbie mistake.


Want the truth? Every time I convinced myself to move to wordpress.org (how hard can it be?), I looked for the absolute simplest breakdown tutorials I could find. Without fail, I was lost in less than 3 minutes. I could only get as far as downloading wordpress.org and downloading filezilla. Everything else was gibberish.

  • Themes. Man, I really screwed up here. So far, this blog has had about 8 different themes and I’m currently looking for a new one. I’ve been using free themes because I don’t want to buy a theme, hate it, end up buying another one and continue down that cycle. The problem isn’t customization, it’s branding.

Blog branding is extremely different from any other type of branding. Even building a website to accommodate your online/offline business is easier than branding a blog. Typically, your website is designed to emulate your business. With blogging, the actual blog is your business. My first theme was too simple, then it got too messy and cluttered.

I was afraid to use pink because I didn’t want to alienate the men, but it was the only color I felt was a good reflection of my brand (and I don’t even like pink!). I realized if my content is valuable,  they won’t care what color it comes in.

I have to figure out what you want, how you got here, what you’re looking for, and devise the best way to give it to you. Until then, bear with me. Or.. help me out. Drop the info I need in the comments.

I’ve been using Peek. They do a free video analyzation of your site complete with first impressions, their frustrations, and their thoughts while perusing your site. You get three free videos a month, which is plenty. I used two for myself (which were both bad) and one for a competitor (which was really good).

This way I was able to understand what my competitor had that I didn’t.

  • Niche. This is 100% honesty, no bragging involved. Niches are my specialty. I know how to figure out what’s profitable, who it’s profitable for, and how to brand yourself for that niche. However, I failed for SipBlack. I mainly read bigger blogs, and it wasn’t until I discovered smaller, personal blogs that I realized how narrow my niche had to be.

I started out the blog wanting to teach entrepreneurs how to start, manage, and grow their business. I saw that the bigger blogs sounded very generic with no specific, actionable advice. I published some SEO focused content, went into some forums, got some traffic, and got some emails. 99% of these emails were from TECH STARTUPS.

I don’t know jack about tech.

I was devastated. I realized my mistake right away. I should have been more specific.

So, I focused on creative/unconventional entrepreneurs. I’m sure I’ll be narrowing this down even further at some point.

  • Forgetting that I am not my audience. This is a big one. Huge revelation here. I was spending SO MUCH TIME reading meta-blogs that it was influencing the direction I went with SipBlack. People that come here are not exclusively bloggers.

I spend most of my downtime reading about blogging, but my readers spend most of their time strategizing and planning serious ways to finally get started on their business. They don’t care how bright and colorful my photos are or whether or not I’m offering pretty printables. They care about TAKING ACTION.

Goals for February

Content

This was supposed to be January’s goal. Thanks to pivoting my niche and branding, I had to take down a lot of my content, change my content, reformat my posts (still a work in progress), gather new information and switch up my entire schedule.

February I want to focus on producing some high-quality content, longer posts, and post often. By the end of March, I’ll probably scale back on how many posts to publish, but right now, as often as possible is the goal (every other day).

Publish more often = more readers

Publish less often = more comments

I’m going to do some split testing on the site, so I need visitors more than comments right now. I’m pretty active on Twitter, so I’m still building relationships with my readers even if they happen to miss a post.

Pictures

I need more professional photos that I can use so my readers feel connected to me. There’s a reason we don’t trust egg profiles on Twitter! Until then, I’m working these #selfies.

Interviews

There are some people I’ve admired for a while (long before the idea of SipBlack.net was born) who had an influence on my journey as an entrepreneur. I believe they could add tremendous value, insight, and inspiration for the readers that end up here. I’ve already sent out some cold emails, so I’ll be touching up my list, and following up.

I’ll also do a split case study from two different bloggers on sending cold emails. The one that has the best response, I’ll pitch them for a guest post later on down the road.

Setup Systems

I’ve already started doing this, but I need to perfect it. A system for connecting with peers and readers, stabilizing traffic, scheduling content, commenting on other blogs, committing to two interactive forums.

I want to have short videos to go along with my best posts of the week to build a YouTube following. In February, I’ll start creating slides and condensing my information.

I’ve already bought the things I need, so it’s just a matter of fitting it into my schedule.

PLATFORMS I’M INTERESTED IN

I’m keeping this to a minimum because I have other businesses to run and I don’t want to spread myself thin online.

Engagement: Twitter

  • Choose between LinkedIN, Google +, and FB

Which is your favorite of the three? Let me know in the comments below! 

Content Marketing: Pinterest, Medium

I’ve seen pretty good traffic from StumbleUpon with passive effort, but it’s not sustainable traffic at all and I’m not focused on it. I only post articles I think contain value for the people following me (when I remember to).

Stats

Twitter: 71

Pinterest: 0 (I plan on optimizing my Pinterest in February. I’ve never used it before and the learning curve is steep. I’m not even sure it’s worth the time.)

I started publishing content (more for myself) in October, took my first posts live in November, started actively promoting in the middle of December. Bounce rate is incredible, 6k visits ain’t too shabby, and time on my site is pretty neat (long content!), global rank is shit-tay.

December stats

I think these stats are a direct reflection of the fact that the comments I’m leaving in other places are usually long and insightful, plus I’ve made a habit of linking to my other posts.

Income from SipBlack: 0

Monetization

Right now, I’m back and forth with Google Adsense. I never click on those ads and I feel like they’re distracting on other blogs. As of now, the blog isn’t monetized. But, I’ve already created a course, working on another and plan to write a few guides.

Sponsored posts seem interesting. I need to find a way to tie it into my brand and make a definite outline of what I will accept.

I haven’t released the course yet because I need to tweak it, make sure it’s as useful as possible, build my list, build some relationships and I need to find the time to plan an actual launch.

This will probably also be a case study.

What’s your experience been with Google Adsense, and how do you feel when you see it on other blogs? Let me know in the comments below!


 

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About the author

Nia

NiaSweetz is the founder of SipBlack- the new digital destination for innovative souls to monetize their vision. She's a diversified entrepreneur with a soft spot for ambitious individuals who desire to create a lane of their own. With extensive experience in several industries, she's committed to creating a sustainable reality out of your passion.

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  • REWINDay

    Hi Nia, I guess we will be in that starting-blog-boat together, as EBA newbies: I’m getting started too, but from even “scratcher” than you (I don’t have my blog published yet– working on it — new life from freelancer to blogger-entrepreneur) !!! ! Thanks for sharing this journey with so many details, I found this a very constructive and honest commitment on your part. I will try my best to give you feedback on Google Adsense and other issues on the way when encountered… I love your content by the way ! Cheers !

    • That’s OK, we all start somewhere! I’m sure EBA will make a big difference in our journey!