Chances are, you started a blog because you liked the idea of sharing your thoughts and potentially earning some extra money, or even a full-time income. Unfortunately, it’s not that easy. Sure if you just want a hobby blog, you can do a bare minimum set-up and then just write whatever comes to mind. But if you want your blog to become your career, then a lot of extra work is needed beyond just creating content.
Here I will share nine non-glamorous blogging tasks that aren’t often talked about, but are essential to take your blog to the next level.
Disclaimer: Through no additional cost to you, I may be compensated from affiliate links included in this post. Learn more here.
1. Making Pins and Remaking Pins, and Remaking Pins, and Remaking Pins…
Pinterest is the number one traffic source for most blogs with women as the primary audience. There are many steps that go into an effective Pinterest strategy, but maybe the most important is iterating on your pin design.
I always make two pins for each new post, and then give them a chance to “go viral”. Once a month, I look at my recent posts and see how their pins are performing. If neither pin did well, I first take a second look at the article to see if there is a reason that it’s not resonating with my audience:
- Is it too technical?
- Missing key information?
- Doesn’t solve the reader’s problem?
If any of those are true, then I revamp the article and make new pins. If not, then I just make new pins.
In addition to your underperforming pins, you should make new versions of pins that perform well. Revisit posts that did do well on Pinterest every three months or so. A new pin for these posts can create a nice jolt of traffic and really re-invigorate an older post.
2. Spending Lots of Time on Facebook
Some people love Facebook. I am not one of those people. If you are one of the Facebook lovers then that’s great but for me it’s a necessary evil. Why is Facebook necessary though?
Pinterest/Instagram Follow Threads
In the early days of your blog, it is really hard to gain followers on any social platform. You probably aren’t generating much traffic, so a tool like MiloTree wouldn’t do you much good. And because you have a small amount of followers, you won’t organically show up in peoples feeds as a recommended person to follow. This is where Facebook becomes a resource.
There are a ton of groups that do weekly or monthly follow-for-follow threads. While your overall goal should be true, engaged users and not “fake” followers, these threads are helpful in the early days of growing your blog to get your social presence off the ground.
It doesn’t really matter how many people you are following, you just need a respectable number of followers on each platform before you can really start gaining followers organically.
Searching for Backlink Opportunities
Getting backlinks to your blog will be important at all stages of your blogging career. Backlinks not only gain you some referral traffic, but are also essential for SEO and ranking on Google. Facebook groups are a great place to easily look for backlinks. People often post that they are working on a roundup. In these posts, they will ask for either a link to an article that they can reference or ask for a short paragraph. In return, they will link to your blog.
These posts randomly occur in nearly all blogging groups, but here are a few that are specifically dedicated to these round-up requests:
- Bloggers Sharing Links for Roundups
- Blogger Roundups
- Blogger Round Up Requests
- KBN Content &Round-Up Requests
General Learning About Blogging
This tip regarding Facebook is a little less specific, but Facebook groups are great for just generally asking questions about things you are struggling with. You can quickly get one of your questions answered in active blogging groups and can learn a lot from reading other responses.
3. Asking to Join Group Boards
There’s been a lot of discussion in the past year or so about Pinterest de-emphasizing group boards. While group boards may not be the jewel that they once were, they are still an essential tool for new bloggers to reach a wide audience.
You could have less than 100 followers on Pinterest and still generate good Pinterest traffic thanks to group boards. Asking to join group boards is one of the more tedious parts of blogging, but with these tips hopefully you can have an easier time.
Tips to joining group boards
- Don’t ask to join boards with fewer than 1000 followers, it just isn’t worth your time
- Always try to contact the group board administer outside of Pinterest as the Pinterest messaging system is garbage. Try and find their email in the contact section of their blog.
- Acknowledge in your email to the board administrator that you have read the rules of the group board and will adhere to them.
- Always include a link to your blog, a short sentence or two on your blog’s mission, a link to your Pinterest profile, and the email associated with your Pinterest account.
4. Manual Pinning
There are two main elements to Pinterest, pinning your own content and pinning other people’s content. When it comes to pinning your own content, Tailwind is an essential tool to schedule a month worth of your own pins. With Tailwind you can make sure your pins are distributed at the right times and you don’t miss any of your pins.
Pinning other people’s content is a different beast. Opinions differ on the recommended ratio between pinning your own content and pinning other people’s content. At the bare minimum you should be doing 50/50. For every pin of your own that you post, pin one of somebody else’s.
The reason for this is that Pinterest rewards curators, they will show your pins less often in people’s feeds if you aren’t doing your part to help Pinterest identify the best pins and the best content.
There are a few different ways to go about manual pinning. The easiest way is to join tribes in Tailwind, and from the Tribes you can find pins appropriate for your boards. You can spend a half hour or hour each week scheduling pins. The other option is to just get in a habit twice a day (ideally once in the morning and once in the evening) of going on Pinterest and pinning 5-10 pins to your boards.
5. Writing Pin Descriptions
My last tip about Pinterest, I promise!
Each post you write should have a carefully written Pin description. The Pin description is important as Pinterest uses these to learn what your pin is about. First you want to make sure that you have a social sharing plugin that allows you to pre-write your Pin description (like Social Warfare). Over 99% of readers will just pin your pin image to one of their boards and not take the time to write a description.
You want to make sure to include a lot of keywords in your Pin description. Get ideas for different keywords by going to Pinterest and searching a term related to your post. See what the text on the pins say, see what the autofill search terms are, look at the related searches. Now, jam pack your pin description with those keywords. Doing this will give your pins a leg up in showing up in Pinterest search and in users’ smart feed and pin descriptions are one of the best ways to increase social shares.
6. Formatting Content for SEO and Mobile Friendliness
These days it’s not just enough to write great content. In addition to writing a post that is informative and enjoyable to read, you’ll want to make sure the formatting is optimal for SEO (search engine optimization) and mobile friendliness.
YoastSEO does a good job of telling you if your post is well-formatted for the specific keyword(s) you are targeting. Basically, you’ll want to make sure to:
- Use lots of headers that contain keywords
- Include keywords in the title, URL, and opening paragraph
- Write an alt-text for each image in your post that is descriptive of the image and ideally contains some keywords
- Interlink to other articles on your site
- Link to other articles around the web that enhance your article
About 70-90% of your audience will be visiting your site on their phones (depending on your niche). This means that it’s imperative that your content be written in a format that is friendly to mobile readers. Some basics of mobile friendly writing are:
- Using lots of headers, people often skim and just read headers until they find a section that interests them.
- Keep paragraphs short, while a paragraph may not seem long on your computer, on your phone it could be an intimidating wall of text
- Use numbered and bulleted lists.
As bloggers who do the majority of our work on our computer, thinking about the mobile experience doesn’t always come first but a positive mobile experience is critical.
7. Worrying About Technical Elements, Like Site Design and Site Speed
With WordPress, many of the technical aspects of creating a blog have been made significantly easier than they were years ago. However, that’s not to say that creating a beautiful and functional blog is a walk in the park. The technical side of blogging can often be challenging and really frustrating to figure out. However, it is essential for your blog to be technically sound if you are hoping to have it make money.
If you already have a blog, chances are you’ve encountered many of the challenges associated with getting your blog to look how you want it to. Free themes can be nice, because they’re free. But if you truly want to take your branding to the next level and make your blog memorable, then you’ll need a premium theme.
I’ve used three different premium themes in the last two years, and my favorite by far is my current theme, GeneratePress. It allows me to change literally everything without needing to know how to program CSS. With other themes, if I wanted to change the size of my Heading 3 font, for example, I’d have to scour the web for CSS tips on how to do that. With GeneratePress there is a built-in option to do literally everything and it’s possibly the best theme on the market for site speed…
How fast your site loads greatly impacts user experience. One study said that you’ll lose up to 40% of your readers if your site takes longer than three seconds to load. Site speed sounds very technical and if you want to get it perfect you may need to hire professional help. But anyone can get their site speed nearly perfect with a little bit of time and some small investments.
The biggest things that influence site speed are:
- Minimizing the use of plugins
- Using a lite-weight theme (like GeneratePress)
- Using a premium web host (like BigScoots or Flywheel)
For more tangible ways to improve your site speed, check out my post on 7 ways to improve site speed.
8. Optimizing Email Opt-In Forms
If you’ve read any other blogs about blogging, you’ve undoubted heard about how important it is to build an email list. Engaging with your email list can be fun. Creating free printables or other freebies to incentivize your readers to join your email list can also be fun. What isn’t so fun is perfecting the placement and design of your opt-in forms.
With my last blog, I was only convincing about 0.2% of my readers to join my email list. After about a month of working on my form design and form placement, I had increased that number to 1.1%. That percent may seem small, but it meant I went from about 15 email subscribers to day to about 100. I go into more depth about how to do this in my post about optimizing your subscribe forms, but some of the key difference makers were:
- Having my forms match my blog’s branding
- Experimenting with different button colors
- Testing different placements within my posts
9. Accounting and Taxes
Nobody likes doing accounting and taxes, not even accountants (I’m joking, I think…) Sadly, accounting and taxes are an important part of any business, and that’s what you want your blog to be, a business. That means you need to treat your blog like a business and take accounting seriously. From the very beginning you want to be tracking every expense related to your blog and when that expense occurred.
Then, when your blog starts making money, you’ll want to track your revenues in two ways:
- By the month in which the funds were actually received (cash basis)
- By the month in which they were earned (accrual basis)
Example: I made $100 from Amazon Associates in the month of February (accrual basis) and got my payment in April (cash basis).
Cash basis accounting
In blogging, there is often a 1-2 month delay between when you earn the money and when the money is received. For tax purposes, cash basis accounting is required. You want to know all of the expenses you incur in a given year and all of the revenues you receive in that given year. The difference (i.e. profit) is the amount that you’ll pay taxes on.
So why is accrual basis accounting important? First, it’s the easiest way to track your progress. If you have your earnings in this format, you’ll easily be able to track your blog’s growth and you’ll also be able to forecast when you’ll receive future payments and for how much they’ll be for. The second reason this is important, which definitely won’t apply to everyone, is if you ever try to sell your blog, any potential buyer will want to see this data.
Luckily with my first blog, I kept the information in this format (accrual basis) and that information turned out to be essential when finding a buyer. While I never planned on selling my blog in the beginning, when circumstances changed, my diligent accounting work enabled me to complete the sale for six figures with no hiccups.
Don’t let this post scare you
Yes, there are some non-glamorous parts of blogging that really are essential and often aren’t talked about. But don’t let these scare you away from starting a blog or continuing to grow your blog. In the end, there is nothing better than being able to make some extra money with total flexibility. Blogging has allowed me to meaningfully contribute to our family’s finances all the while having children and staying home with them full time.
If you’re a blogger, which parts of blogging are not so glamorous to you? Let me know in the comments. If you’re considering blogging, let me know in the comments what your concerns are. I love to hear from my readers.