Advice for New Bloggers: Beyond the First Few Steps

Now that we’ve finished our first month blogging, we’ve been thinking about what we wished we had known before starting our blog. Most advice for new bloggers generally focuses on the first few steps of how to start a blog. From there it seems to be: You have a website, now go forth and try not to drown.

But we wanted to go beyond the first few steps. So today we are sharing our advice for new bloggers to set you up for success: how to launch your blog and which social media accounts are the most important for new bloggers.

If you’ve recently started a blog or are thinking of starting a blog, there are tons of free email courses and articles about the first steps of starting a blog. We would know; we signed up for all of them. Some declare: Start a Blog in 5 minutes! 

And it’s true, it only takes about 5 minutes to actually sign up. They make it sound so easy. But one of the lessons we’ve learned in our first month blogging is that blogging is hard work. But it really helps if you start off on the right foot.

Today, we’re not going to go too in-depth into how to start your blog. But let us sum up the first steps briefly before we dive into our advice on launching your blog and setting up your social media.

But first, we have a freebie for you! If you are interested in blogging or are already a blogger, you need to check out our blog post checklist. We have everything we do before and after we publish each post. Just click here to download our free blog post checklist.

This post may contain affiliate links. For more information, read our Disclosures.

grey and orange nikes

First Steps First

1. Choose the Perfect Name

Naming your blog can be a pain. You want something unique but not too long. Then once you have that perfect name, more often than not you’ll find it is already taken. Keep working on it until you find a name you love. Just don’t forget to google your desired name to see if it’s too similar to someone else.

Also, make sure to check availability across all social media platforms before you buy a site. You want as uniform a name as possible across platforms to make it easier for people to find you. Though they don’t have to be perfectly uniform.

For some reason, the username pingelsisters was already taken on Instagram. Really?! Most of you probably aren’t even sure how to pronounce our last name. (Pingel is pronounced like the chips Pringles but without the R. In case you were wondering, Jaclyn is pronounced the same as Jacqueline, and Rachael is the same as Rachel.) Instead we used pingel_sisters, which is close enough.

2. Select a Hosting Service

To self-host or not to self-host? That is the question. We don’t know whether it is nobler or not, but what you are really asking yourself is Do I want to make money? If you ever want to make money, you need to be self-hosted. I

f you are just blogging because you want a place to express yourself, don’t worry about self-hosting unless you really just want full control over your website. However, if you want your blog to generate some income, then you must self-host. Most advertising and affiliate marketing won’t work with blogs that aren’t self-hosted.

We selected Siteground as our hosting service. Since choosing a name came easy, this was our first big decision. After much reading, everyone seemed to love Siteground for their awesome customer support. And we have not been disappointed.

Plans start as low as $3.95 per month, though we chose the Grow Big option because we don’t dream small around here. Their support has been wonderful. We could not for the life of us figure out how to authenticate MailerLite, our awesome email marketing company. So Rachael just used the 24/7 chat feature, and in 15 minutes they had not only fixed our problem, but also had, at her request, walked Rachael through the steps so she could do learn to do it herself. Easy-peasy. We highly recommend Siteground.

3. Install a Website Builder

While there are many different options like Wix or Squarespace, we chose WordPress because it’s the most popular. Popularity has its advantages. Since everyone and his dog seems to use WordPress, there are a million plugins you can get.

WordPress is free to install and extremely easy to use. It comes with a number of free themes you can play with and customize if you want. Plus, if you ever can’t figure anything out, there are a million articles detailing how to use WordPress.

4. Purchase a Beautiful Theme

At first, we thought we would just tinker with the free WordPress themes and then buy a theme later. What a waste of time! Just buy a theme. You can get gorgeous themes for $50 or under. And Shazam! Your website suddenly looks insanely professional.

Our theme, Florence, is by SoloPine, and we love it! When shopping for a theme, we wanted one with great ratings and lots of purchases. We knew this would indicate that the company would be invested in customer support.

With multiple themes at the top of the rankings, we knew we needed to get our theme from SoloPine. And their support as been stellar. When we have a question, we first check their FAQs which more often than not has our answer right there. Plus, we have found answers to questions we didn’t even know we needed to ask.

When we can’t find the answer, we just send a support request, and their customer service promptly replies with the solution we need. We know exactly how we want our blog to look, and SoloPine has been instrumental in helping us tweak the theme to our particular taste.

Related: Life Lessons From Our First Month Blogging



Pingel Sisters. Live. Work. Travel. Read. a blog for savvy millennial women. Coming March 1st

Now What?

Most of the advice for new bloggers seems to send after those initial steps. Well, actually they end in trying to sell you a product. Let us give you some advice beyond those first few steps.

We’re going to assume you already have a vision for what you want your blog to be about. You can read about our tips to help you find your focus along with other life lessons we learned in our first month blogging in our last post.

One surprising thing that helped us refine our focus was setting up our Pinterest account. We created about 15 boards and filled them with 50 pins each. Eventually, after saving all those pins, we realized that some of our boards didn’t match the posts we actually wanted to write.

For example, we created a parenting board full of great advice on potty training and how to stop a toddler tantrum. While this is all advice that we need, it is not advice that we can give. So we deleted that board. Looking through the pins, we realized we aren’t mommy bloggers. We are just moms who blog. We then created boards that are specific to our main topics: life, work, travel and books.

And you want to start all your social media right away. They don’t have to be perfect. But start posting to them and gaining followers. We waited over a month before we touched social media, and now we see that as such a wasted opportunity to gain traction even before our blog launched.

 

rocket launch

Blog launch

Which brings us to our next topic. If you haven’t already started a blog, we highly recommend taking at least a month before you launch. We know some people will think this is way too long. It really depends on your personality. We actually took two months before we launched.

The first step to properly launch your blog is to have a coming soon page. After we realized our mom was checking the blog every day, we put up a coming soon page. The image earlier is one of the first versions of our coming soon page – just an image, our logo, and the words “Coming Soon.” With a coming soon page in place, you can do whatever you want on the blog without anyone seeing.

Now it’s time to start writing those first posts. A successful blog launch will have at least one post for each category. If you only have one or two categories, then you should make two posts per category. You don’t want your website to seem empty when people first visit it.

To help you create successful posts, we are sharing our blog post checklist with the details on everything we do before and after we publish each post. Just click the image below to access it.

Are you a new blogger or interested in starting a blog? We are sharing our advice for new bloggers beyond the first few steps - how to successfully launch your blog and which social media accounts will give you the most bang for your buck. blogging | new blog | how to start a blog | blog launch | social media | email marketing | giveaway | increase page views | blog post checklist | blogging advice | advice for new bloggers | blog income report | mom blog | lifestyle blog | travel blog

Email marketing

Once you have your website with a coming soon page, your next step is to get set up email marketing. Every blogger will tell you that your email list is key. No matter if you get blocked from social media, you will always own those email addresses.

Jaclyn is our email marketing expert since she has lots of experience with it through work. Looking through all our options, she decided that MailerLite would be our best option. MailerLite has all the essentials you need from your email marketing service: landing pages, automation, groups, and segmentation. And all are included on their free plan!

One big reason we chose Mailer Lite over MailChimp was that MailerLite does not double count your subscribers. With MailChimp, if you have a subscriber in multiple lists, say one in your who is a blogger and loves to read, MailChimp will count them twice! So your free 2,000 limit is actually much smaller if you want to segment your subscribers. MailerLite doesn’t double count, making your 1,000 subscriber limit on the free plan equivalent to MailChimp’s. When combined with MailerLite’s unlimited email limit, we knew it was the best plan for us.

Side note: If you are going to be sending out emails legally you have to include a physical address in your emails. We didn’t want to give out our home address, so we had to purchase a PO Box.

Once you have email marketing setup, slap a sign up on your coming soon page and start gathering emails right away. You never know who will sign up for your email list – most likely your mother. Another great way to promote your new blog is to host a giveaway.

Giveaway

Who doesn’t love a giveaway? You should know that there are right ways to host a giveaway and that there are wrong ways. The big thing is to pick the right prize. You need to make sure whatever you give away will appeal to your target audience. Sorry but your backpacking blog shouldn’t be hosting a makeup giveaway.

On the flip side, you need to make sure your giveaway isn’t too appealing to the general public. If you offer a $500 gift card to Amazon, you’ll gain tons of emails, but most won’t have any intention of ever returning to your blog.

Bonus points if you can tie your giveaway into your blog launch. For example, end your giveaway on the day you launch. On our part, we also decided to use our giveaway to promote one of our first posts. We chose two books from our list of the 30 books every millennial needs to read as our giveaway prize. We attracted readers while promoting our blog at the same time.

By hosting a giveaway that ends the same day you launch, you give yourself a hard and fast deadline that you have to keep. To promote your giveaway, it helps if you build your social media following a bit before you open your giveaway for entries.



phone with login to facebook

Social Media

This post is already much longer than we intended, so we will talk about creating graphics and social media scheduling another month. But let us say a few more things about social media. We’ve now mentioned multiple times the importance of starting your social media accounts right away. But which accounts will give you the biggest bang for your buck? Obviously it depends on your niche, but here is what we have found.

Facebook

Initially, Facebook was our biggest source of traffic once we launched our blog. We had 20 people visit our blog from Facebook on the first day we launched. We were living the high life. Of course, all 20 of those were family and friends. Every single person who follows our blog on Facebook is someone we know personally.

While we feel like Facebook is an important way to keep our family and friends updated on what we have going on, it hasn’t been a way for us to reach new audiences. We haven’t done much this month to improve our Facebook reach, so we we’ll try out some different Facebook strategies next month and let you know how it goes.

Instagram

We were most excited to use Instagram as a venue to get subscribers. Listening to a webinar by Helene in Between about making money on Instagram, we knew that we were going to be like her and rake in the big bucks with our pretty pictures. Or maybe not.

We still love Instagram for all its beautiful pictures, but, boy, is it a pain. The new algorithm makes being seen, and seeing the posts from other small bloggers, really really hard. And the follow/unfollow game is rampant on Instagram.

Over the last month, we have had 16 total visits to the blog from Instagram. Yikes. All in all, we view Instagram as a good way to reveal a more personal side of ourselves, but not as a huge driver of traffic.

Twitter

Twitter really surprised us. Rachael had never used Twitter before, so she was extremely skeptical it would be useful. Yet, Twitter has become one of our best ways to grow our following. First off, it’s easy to gain followers on Twitter. Like really easy. People seem to be willing to follow anyone. Of course, there is some follow/unfollow games, but it’s nowhere near as rampant as on Instagram.

Last month, we had 86 referrals come to our blog directly from Twitter. And it’s so much easier to engage with people than the other platforms; you can interact with people much more naturally. We wholeheartedly recommend you spend some time building your Twitter following to help with the initial reach of your blog.

StumbleUpon

We had never heard of StumbleUpon before we started blogging. We saw some articles about using StumbleUpon to drive traffic to our blog, so we decided to give it a chance. It really doesn’t take that long. You stumble a few articles, and then add your posts plus some other good posts in, and stumble a bit more.

Our first day using StumbleUpon, we added our first four initial posts. We were floored when we had 111 referrals that day. The next day we added our next post, and BAM, 165 referrals.

Before you get too excited, we have learned a few things about StumbleUpon. First, we have had only one more post, Guest Room Must-Haves, get anywhere near that many referrals since. Maybe it was just a fluke of timing.

Secondly, a lot of people on StumbleUpon are a bit like us, they glance at the articles they are stumbling without really reading many of them. We aren’t sure how much those views really matter. But something is better than nothing, so we continue to add our new posts to StumbleUpon.

BlogLovin

We’ve had a whopping 5 people visit our blog from BlogLovin. Aren’t we awesome? Honestly, we were so lost on how Bloglovin even works. It didn’t help that our feed wasn’t pulling properly. We ended up having to email customer support to fix it.

Maybe there is some secret to BlogLovin we are missing. Actually, not having dedicated any time to it is probably one reason it isn’t helping us much. We guess we can’t complain. Or at least we ought not to.

The one great thing to come out of BlogLovin is our friendship with Sincerely Julie Anna that we wrote about in our post on The Mystery Blogger Award. If you look hard enough, there’s always a silver lining.

Pinterest

The winner for biggest traffic source is … Pinterest! Pinterest is king when it comes to driving traffic to our blog. Don’t believe us? (Though, why wouldn’t you? We are extremely honest people here.) Let’s convince you with our numbers.

If you look at just the last 2 weeks, Pinterest accounts for 91% of all our social media traffic. That’s because it just takes one viral pin and you have a traffic boom. And it’s a lot easier to go viral on Pinterest than on any other social media network.

Basically, if you really want traffic you need to master Pinterest. We spent days setting up our Pinterest account. We have carefully curated boards with beautiful cover images and keyword rich descriptions. Most importantly, we spend time perfecting our graphics. When you create Pinterest graphics, just browse through Pinterest and see what catches your eye. Then imitate the elements you like.

But don’t stop there. Use keyword rich descriptions on every pin. And join group boards to broaden your reach. If you only spend time setting up one social media account, we recommend Pinterest.

Related: The 4 Types of Pinterest Boards Every Blogger Needs



Life Lessons from Our First Month Blogging

Our First Month By the Numbers

Let’s get down to the juicy details. How well is our blog really doing? Well here is a look at our social media followers. Remember, you can join in and follow along with us on Pinterest, Facebook, Twitter or Instagram.

Pingel Sisters 1 Month Instagram PreviewInstagram Followers
Goal: 400
Actual: 424
Unfollowers: 210

Pingel Sisters 1 Month Twitter PreviewTwitter Followers
Goal: 600
Actual: 770
Unfollowers: 122

Pingel Sisters 1 Month Pinterest Preview

Pinterest Followers
Goal: 100
Actual: 132
Average monthly viewers: 291,997

But do social media followers really translate to page views? Is anyone actually reading our blog?

Apparently, our blog is being read by more than just our friends and family. This past month, we have had 7,736 page views on our blog! We can hardly believe it. That translates to 5,014 users and 5,465 sessions.

Where does it all come from? And what are they reading? 78% of our traffic is coming from Pinterest. Rachael’s post Read This Not That had over 1,000 page views one Friday alone! Our other popular posts include 30 Books Every Millennial Needs to Read and Four Tips for Your First Time at the Gym.

Now the really question is: Do any of those page views translate into income? Can you really make money blogging?

And the answer is …. YES!

We are rolling in the pennies over here!

How much have we made? We currently have two sources of income. We enrolled in Google AdSense, and, thus far, we have earned $1.30. Our second source of income is as an Amazon Affiliate. We are doing marginally better with our $3.64 in earnings. Though, we don’t get any of this money until we hit the minimum benchmarks.

That makes a grand total of $4.94. We’ll try not to spend it all in one place.

Any advice for new bloggers like us? What social media platforms have you found most valuable?

Are you a new blogger or interested in starting a blog? We are sharing our advice for new bloggers beyond the first few steps - how to successfully launch your blog and which social media accounts will give you the most bang for your buck. blogging | new blog | how to start a blog | blog launch | social media | email marketing | giveaway | increase page views | blog post checklist | blogging advice | advice for new bloggers | blog income report | mom blog | lifestyle blog | travel blog

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5 Comments

  • Reply Christine October 10, 2018 at 2:04 pm

    I just found this post on TUL group Pinterest board, and I love it! You guys are so right in all of the above advice. Siteground is amazing with their 24/7 chat. They have saved me numerous times. I do have MailChimp for now, and I am not in love. But, I just wanted to have something to start collecting emails–newsletters, etc. are for another month’s goal. You ladies are killing Pinterest! Congrats!

  • Reply Pooja Patel August 5, 2018 at 2:28 am

    As a new blogger, this was such a nice read. So in depth and well thought out. I can really sense you care about blogging! I too love blogging and am so eager to know just about everything, but I am learning to pump the brakes sometimes and not get overwhelmed. Thanks for writing such an awesome post!

  • Reply Julie`s Blog June 15, 2018 at 6:48 pm

    Rachael, you and your sister are doing great! Too many amazing tips for me. I am just starting my blog and absorb information like a sponge. For sure, I just followed to get your new articles.

    Have a nice day!

  • Reply My Sons Father April 5, 2018 at 4:57 am

    Pinterest remains a mystery to me. I’m trying for the second time to crack the code, but I’m not aesthetically gifted, so it’s very much a work in progress. My goal this time around is to simply spend a few minutes in the app each day to better understand it.

    • Reply Rachael April 5, 2018 at 12:45 pm

      We are definitely still fine-tuning our Pinterest strategy. There are tons of articles on Pinterest about how to use Pinterest – some helpful, some not so much. Next month, we’ll have to write more about social media scheduling and share some tips.

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