How to Start a Blog Part 2: Measurement & Marketing
There is some serious information overwhelm going on when it comes to starting a blog. I see it daily - in Facebook groups, in emails I receive from my subscribers - cries for help from bloggers and soon-to-be bloggers who just want to know how to start a blog in plain English.
In Part 1 of this series, I shared the details of how to set up your home base, so for Part 2, we're looking at what happens after you go live. Everything in Part 1 & Part 2 is broken down in great detail, complete with video tutorials, in my new course, Blogging Jumpstart. So if you feel like you'd benefit from having someone show you how to do all these things, this course is for you!
Blogging doesn't end when you publish a post. That's really only the beginning. To continue to grow & improve, you have to understand how to measure and market your blog. That's what we're going to cover today.
You are going to spend a lot of time creating content for your blog, and if you don't take the time to measure things like pageviews and referral traffic, you won't be as effective as you'd like. Measurement ties into marketing. You have to know where you're traffic is coming from so you know where to spend the majority of your marketing time.
Google Analytics is a confusing beast, but it doesn't have to be. First, you need it. So if you don't have Google Analytics installed on your blog, stop reading this post and go get it installed.
HOW TO INSTALL GOOGLE ANALYTICS
#1 - You will need to have a Google account first. If you use Gmail, you're good to go.
#2 - Go HERE and click "Sign Up" to create your Google Analytics account. Fill in the information on the screen that looks like this:
You'll get a screen with a bunch of code on it that you'll need to copy. This is what you'll use to add Google Analytics tracking to your website.
#3 - Depending on your platform, installing Google Analytics code will be different.
BLOGGER: You will only need the short little line of code that starts with "UA" and has a few numbers behind it. Go to Settings > Other, then scroll down until you see the spot for "Analytics Web Property ID". Enter that UA number in that field.
WORDPRESS: I highly recommend using Genesis Framework (see previous post in this series), and it makes installing the code for Google Analytics super easy.
Copy that big ol 'chunk of code, then log into your WP dashboard. Go to Genesis > Theme Settings. Scroll down to Header Scrips and paste that big chunk of code there. Then save.
SQUARESPACE: Similar to Blogger, you only need the UA number. In the Home Menu, go to Settings > Advanced > External Services. Enter the UA number in the field provide.
HOW TO READ GOOGLE ANALYTICS
Google Analytics shares so much information about your blog. After installing it for the first time, however, you should wait a few days or so before trying to get any numbers. After you've been blogging a while, you will refer to your Google Analytics for things like:
- Monthly & total number of pageviews: These numbers tell you how many times individual pages (this includes blog posts) have been viewed.
- Unique visits: This number tells you how many unique IP addresses (i.e. people) viewed your blog in any given time frame.
- Unique pageviews: This number takes out pages that were viewed multiple times by the same person in the same visit.
- Most popular content: You can see a ranking of your most popular content in order. It's great to check this to make sure you are delivering more of what people like!
- Referring websites: This allows you to see where your traffic is coming from.
There's quite a bit more, but I certainly don't want to overwhelm you with all the bells & whistles. We deep-dive into your Google Analytics dashboard in Blogging Jumpstart so be sure to check that out!
Google Analytics are fantastic. They tell you all kinds of goodness. But you can also glean a lot of information about your audience from Pinterest analytics, so don't skip over those!
First, you have to have a Pinterest business account in order to get analytics. CLICK HERE to set that up. (If you're using Genesis Framework, you can put that code in the Header Scripts section, too, just FYI.)
After setting up your Pinterest Business account, you will be able to access your analytics in the top left of your Pinterest dashboard.
Your overview shows you just that - an overview of how well your Pinterest account is performing. If you click on the "more" button at the top of each section, you'll see a bunch more information about your followers. Click around through your analytics to learn:
- Which of your own blog's pins are the most popular (plus you can see other people's boards they are pinned in). If you have a pin doing really well, you want to repin it often and keep that traffic coming.
- Which pins you've pinned that perform well - this is a telling sign of things your audience is interested in, so pay attention to this. You can be inspired by this to create more content your readers will like!
- Which boards get the most repins - here's a hint: pin to those boards a LOT!
We will cover all of this and so much more in Blogging Jumpstart. Check out the course curriculum and register today!
MARKETING YOUR BLOG
I'm not going to give you some formula that tells you to share your blog post a certain number of times on specific platforms, or at specific times each day, because honestly, that will be different for each blogger. However, one thing that is consistent regardless of the blog you write is the need for marketing.
There seems to be a common misconception that you have to have an active presence on ALL THE PLATFORMS. I'm here to tell you that's just plain hogwash. And it's a sure-fire way to get burned out and end up hating your blog.
We just covered your analytics. You need to figure out where your ideal reader hangs out, and where your traffic comes from, then focus your time & energy there. Spending time marketing to 2-3 social media platforms is much more manageable than 7 or more.
WHO IS YOUR IDEAL READER? A lot of times, it's someone very similar to you. Think of the content you create and who, ideally, would read it. Think about their habits and where they might spend their time when they are online.
This will start to give you an idea of which social media platforms would be best for you to spend time on.
I've got a huge post showing you how I automate & schedule my own social media content using CoSchedule. I highly recommend that you plan to use a scheduling tool. Consistency & engagement are the two best ways to grow your presence on social media, and using a scheduling tool takes care the consistency part.
QUICK TIP: While I will never tell you to have a presence on every social media platform, I do recommend that you create an account on all of the major channels. If you decide to use them at some point, you will have your branded username locked in and ready to go.
Let's just get this out of the way: YES, you need an email list from the very beginning. I explain why IN THIS POST that dispels several common myths about email marketing for bloggers.
For brand new bloggers, I highly recommend creating an account on MailChimp. Your account will be completely free until you reach 2,000 subscribers.
You need to be sure you add sign-up forms to your blog in your sidebar, in your post footer, and on relevant pages, like your "about" page.
RSS v. Newsletter:
I get a lot of questions about RSS and email newsletters - which is better, what do I recommend...and sometimes, what the heck is RSS???
Let me start with that last one. RSS is the syndicated version of your blog. You know how you can listen to national radio station shows on your local radio station? It's because they are syndicated - they get published on their home station and pushed out to other stations automatically.
Your blog has a syndication, or feed. You publish content on your blog, and your syndicated feed pushes that post out wherever you tell it to. If you set up an RSS email in MailChimp, or another platform, your post will automatically be dropped into an email and sent out to whomever subscribes to your RSS feed.
A newsletter, on the other hand, is an email that you manually create. You essentially write a letter to your subscribers, throw in a few pictures, links to your blog posts, and send it.
BOTTOM LINE: I'd rather you send an RSS email than nothing at all, and it never hurts to send both an RSS email and a newsletter. Newsletters get higher engagement, build trust with your audience, and give you the opportunity to share anything you want to share.
There is a lot that goes into creating and maintaining a blog, and you can quickly begin to feel overwhelmed. That's why I've designed Blogging Jumpstart, a 6-week course that teaches you how to implement all of these things, and more.
In this course, we'll cover:
Setting Up Your Home Base
- Understanding blogging platforms
- Choosing & Setting Up A Domain
- Understanding Hosting
- Understanding Blog Themes
- Navigating the Wordpress Dashboard
- Understanding & Adding Plugins
- Keeping Your Site Secure
Creating Images for Your Blog
- Basic photography equipment
- Tips for styling photos
- Photo editing
- Watermarks & overlays
- Image File Names & SEO
- Sizing & Compressing Images
- Storing & Organizing Images
- Setting Up Social Accounts
- Header Images & Descriptions
- Curating content & crediting others
- Using calls to action
- Scheduling tools
- Growth through engagement
- Why email is important
- Getting started with email
- Adding forms to your blog
- Creating an opt-in offer
- Setting up an RSS feed
- Creating a newsletter
- Growing your list
SEO & Measurement
- Understanding SEO & Keyword Research
- Google Analytics
- Yoast SEO Plugin
- Primary, Secondary, & Tertiary Keywords
- Formatting a blog post for SEO
- Follow, No-Follow & Anchor text
Important Blog Information
- FTC Guidelines & Disclosures
- Hosting giveaways
- Creating roundups
- Using affiliate links
- Crafting an about page
- Tips for a purposeful sidebar
WHEW! That's extensive! Each student will also be added to a private Facebook group, too! CLICK HERE TO REGISTER!