Goal Updates — Blog Income Series (Week 16)

Four months ago, in November, I set a goal to Make $2200 From Blogging In 6 Months. So how’s the journey been?

It’s been exciting, fun, and hard. But I haven’t yet made a single dollar from blogging even though I’m four months in. So what went wrong?

How to NOT get income from blogging

Focusing on too many things

I had way too many products I wanted to release in way too short amount of time. It would be doable if I already had the skill to set up a blog, get readers, write an ebook, publish an ebook, and create a workshop. But I’m still a novice in all those areas. That means I have lots of research and experimentation to do before I acquire the skill. And this takes a huge amount of time—a lot more than I thought it would.

Besides, there’s at least thirty different and unique ways I’ve found to market my blog. And it takes time to just learn one. But I never even learned one. Instead, I dipped my toe in a few, and never decided which one to pick and deep dive into. For example, I did a quite extensive research on Pinterest and it was like a gold mine, full of opportunities. But I never dug deeper and started implementing what I learned. I only did the research.

What I should do instead

Only work on one product if it’s something new.

When a product is new and requires a lot of research and experimentation I should only work on that product. For example, writing an ebook is something I haven’t done before. Thus I should only work on the ebook (and the blog) during a project.

Work on one/two products if they aren’t new or only require minimal work.

I can decide to work on two products if I want to. But then I should be familiar with the products, i.e. worked on similar products before. For example, as I’m an app developer, any app development (for Android) isn’t something new.

But it could also be that something only needs minimal work to set up (less than 40 hours). This can be something like simple coaching sessions. No coaching program, one-on-one coaching sessions. The coaching sessions still need preparations, but it can be done in less than 40 hours.

Not doing the hard work

Like I mentioned, I never dug deep and did the work. I only ended up researching forever and ever.

Well to be fair. I actually did do some work.

  • I set up a mailing list
  • I did try to market to different channels (Facebook groups and my wall, and Twitter)
  • I started using images for my articles
  • I improved the images for my articles and made custom images for Facebook

But that was months ago. After that, I ended up trying to find the best step-by-step guide on how to grow the number of readers on my site. To my surprise (not), there’s no one way or step-by-step guide you can follow when you create your blog. Although, I still think it’s possible to create step-by-step guides for some if not all marketing techniques. That is something I will attempt to do in the future of this series.

The trap for me is that it feels like I’m taking action when I’m reading a lot of articles on how to market blogs. But reading that 20th article on how to market my blog will probably not be a game changer.

What I should do instead

Limit the amount of time to 1 hour for research.

What I’ve found is that I often have more than enough information to start after 1 hour of research. So instead of searching for the right solution I should set a timer for 1 hour. When the timer rings I will summarize what I’ve learned and…

Create an action plan.

The action plan will contain what I steps I will take and for how long I should try that approach. When I looked for blogs I could do a guest post on I only looked for about half an hour before returning to research mode. But after I searched for another half hour, some time later, I found lots of blogs I could guest post on. If I’d only continued for a little while longer I would’ve found my blogs.

Allocating too little time every week

I greatly overestimated the amount of work I could do in 10 hours. I thought I could be efficient but I doubt anyone, can complete the items below in only 10 hours.

  • Churn out 1.5 articles (~3000 words)
  • 2 ebook chapters (~4000 words)
  • Do research
  • Market my blog
  • Prepare for Toastmasters

What was I thinking? Clearly I wasn’t thinking…

Mind you I usually worked 15 hours per week instead of 10 hours. But 15 hours still isn’t enough by a long shot.

If you aren’t one of my regular readers you might wonder why I only allocated 10 hours and not 40 hours? That’s because this was going to be my side business. My main business was in game development which I worked on for 30 hours per week.

What I should do instead

Kind of obvious but…

Allocate more time for blogging.

Updating my plan

I came to the conclusion that my current plan needed an update. It wasn’t working. I also decided to revisit my game development plan and figure what I really wanted to work with now.

This led me to…

Put my game development business on hold

I chose to put it on hold as I calculated that it would at least take six more months until the game would bring in an income.

Besides, I’m not sure it’s a good idea to release Voider as my first game and app. It would be better to learn from my mistakes with smaller and simpler apps. Thus when I finally release Voider I can make use of all information I’ve gathered from my previous apps.

Putting my game development business on hold means that I free up 30 hours per week for my blog and blog products.

What should I focus on?

It took about a week until I figured out what I want to focus on for the next months. I went back and forth with if I was going to write an ebook, create an app, do coaching, or have a workshop. Even though I knew that I didn’t have time for everything I still wanted to do them all.

What took time wasn’t that I couldn’t decide what product I wanted to focus on. I knew that from the start. No, what took time was accepting that I will only have time to focus on one larger product.

I ended up choosing what’s most important for my business now. And that is to get readers for my blog. Everything I do and create during this project will always be from the perspective of how to bring more readers to my blog.

But I don’t only want to focus getting readers for my blog. I need variety.

One interesting observation I’ve made is that for me programming and other tasks use different parts of my brain. I can’t work effectively for 40 hours per week only programming. Nor can I work on the blog effectively for 40 hours per week. But what I can do is mix these. Because sometimes when I’m mentally exhausted from programming I still find it easy to either write, market, or do other blog related tasks. This isn’t always the case though; it doesn’t work if I’m tired or mentally exhausted in general.

So to make my days more varied and be effective I will create a small and simple app. Namely a celebration app for How to Celebrate the Little Things in Life.

These two focuses are enough. But I really would like to coach people. Coaching brings people and human-to-human communication to my life that I otherwise lack as I’m sitting in front of my computer all day long (at least while working).

But I’m not going to do anything fancy coaching program. And I will treat coaching as a bonus goal. First and foremost I will focus on completing getting readers to my blog and creating the celebration app ‘Celebratorica’.

Project Windcatcher

Every project needs an awesome project name. Or at least that’s my motto. So I decided upon naming the project Windcatcher. You probably don’t care what the project is named, but what I found is when I come up with an awesome project name I’m so much more motivated to work on it. Which project would you rather work on, project get 5000 readers or project Windcatcher? I’d definitely choose Windcatcher.

I want to end the project close to the goal (30th April). But I’m going to official end it on 21st of April since it was a long time since it will be more than 3 months since I had any vacation. And I only want to work in Three Month Projects.

Focus goals

As always I start with the end in mind. I.e. what goals I want to reach until the end of April and then ask the question: Where do I need to be in March for me to be able to reach April’s goals?

April

  • Blog
    • 5 000 readers (visitors)
    • 500 subscribers
  • Celebratorica app: 600 donations
  • Bonus: 10 paid coaching sessions

March

  • Blog
    • 2 000 readers
    • 100 subscribers
  • Celebratorica app 2.0 (with in-app purchases)
  • Bonus: Coaching
    • Program released
    • 2 free coaching sessions

February

  • 250 readers
  • Celebratorica app 1.0

Income goal

This section dives deep into how I figured out what I need to do to make $2200. But also how to calculate the break-even point for marketing the Celebratorica app. It’s a bit out-of-place, in my opinion. But at the same time, I found the information valuable and I want to share every step I take to generating an income.

As mentioned, I set a goal to make $2200 from blogging. Even though I’ve changed my goal I still want to reach my original goal of making $2200. It’s a bit of a stretch to be able to go from $0 to $2200 in just 2 months. But I still think it’s possible.

I created a simple spreadsheet to figure out how many products I had to sell to reach $2200. Note that I created this spreadsheet before I decided on what products I would focus on. Thus I used this spreadsheet to see if the option was viable and how much I might make from it. You could say I needed proof that doing coaching and creating an app could be viable.

Break-even marketing point for Celebratorica

For Celebratorica, I used the standard conversion rate of 10%. Meaning that 10% of all people that download Celebratorica will like it and continue to use it. And of those only 10 % will donate to the app, the rest will use ads. This means that I can spend $1980 / 55000 (downloads) = $0.036 to get one click when I market the product.

But that’s not entirely true. This number is only true for people that find the app in Google Play. If I target my ads I can surely convert more than 10% of those readers. I’m also certain I’m able to convert more than 10% of those that like the app, but maybe not in the beginning.

Then I’m also certain people would donate more than the minimum $1. If I create an awesome product and word the donation in another way they might value the product more and thus donate more. But I don’t want people to feel obligated to donate more than the minimum $1. Because, personally, I dislike that feeling and it creates a negative vibe for that app.

The problem is which of these three values brings most income. To figure this out I made another spreadsheet with a few best cases, a few worst cases, and finally an educated ‘probable’ guess.

From the spreadsheet, I can see that the click conversion gives a higher return than the donation conversion (because of the extra income from ads). And both of those gives a higher return than the donation amount. So when I start marketing the app I know I should first focus on the click conversion rate because that makes the biggest difference.

Later, I can always update this spreadsheet to measure what would make the biggest difference in the moment. Let us say that after I few months I have a click rate of 40%, donation rate of 25%, and an average donation of $3. Which one should I focus on improving? In this case, I can input 40%, 25%, and $3 as the default values. And then increase one of the values in the three rows to see which one will yield the best return.

Of course, I can’t only go on this value; I also have to do an estimated guess how difficult these would be to implement. E.g. going from a click rate of 40% to 50% can be very difficult, but going from $3 donation to $5 donation is easier (only my speculation at the moment).

If I continue to the most probable scenario I can see that I need about 8200 clicks to generate an income of $1850. And I can spend $0.23 per click to go break-even. So if I spend anything less than this per click I will make a profit, anything more I will lose money.

Of course, I need to actually measure these values when I start marketing. If the break-even is at $0.15, but I think it’s at $0.23, I will think I make a profit when I spend $0.18 per click. But in fact, I’m losing money. Or am I?

Because that’s not the whole picture. It can look like I’m losing money if I spend $0.18 per click, but I could as well make a profit. Because within my app, I have a link to my article on How to Celebrate the Little Things in Life. This will drive traffic to my blog. Some of the people might buy other products, such as one or more coaching sessions. If they do this I have to take this into the account.

Jay Abraham explains this in Tony Robbin’s podcast. That it can look like you lose money when you market one product. But everything is interconnected. You can’t look at just one product, you have to look at the whole picture, i.e. the entire business. Because the (app) user might buy some other of your products down the line.

Getting readers

To get readers for my blog, I need to do something different from last time. Because that clearly didn’t work. I need a strategy and some processes.

First I need to decide on what type of marketing I should focus on and fully commit to that. I have a few options I’d like to try; guest posting, Pinterest, and Facebook groups.

I would love to commit to guest posting, as I love writing. The problem I can see with guest posting is that it takes time to write a good article. I’ve already scheduled myself to write 1.5 articles per week. Writing another article is a bit of a stretch.

But what I could do though is to write 2 articles per week, and post a guest post every fortnight.

I will start with that approach. If it becomes easy to write 2 articles per week I might start to write 2.5 articles per week and do a guest post every week instead.

Market my blog 1 hour per day

Back in 2015, I read about an interesting technique for growing your business on James Clear’s blog. The article talks about Trent Dyrsmid and how he used his paper clip strategy to make phone calls every day.

Every morning I would start with 120 paper clips in one jar and I would keep dialing the phone until I had moved them all to the second jar.
—Trent Dyrsmid

But what I’m more interested in is that Trent worked on growing his business every day. He made it his top priority to grow his business. And that’s what I want to do. I want to actively market my blog every day. And I want the tasks to be simple so I can do many of them in the hour I’ve allocated to this task.

Next, I searched for different ways I can market my blog, but without creating any content for my blog or only sharing my articles.

I found this article on 17 Blog Post Promotion Tactics (That Actually Work). The fifth tactic (get free traffic from facebook groups), and the eight tactic (share your expertise on quora) was exactly what I was looking for. Joe Elliott explains step by step how to market your blog through these tactics.

Facebook groups
  1. Find a group that your expertise and business will fit into.
  2. Browse the groups for questions that you can add value too.
  3. Give away information and tips without promoting your page.
  4. Do this for a few days. Then create a small version of one of your posts in your blog. But don’t post a link to your blog.
  5. If your post has been well received and you have had at least one comment, you can drop your link in the comments. This appears less spammy.
Quora
  1. Optimize your profile to get clicks. Use stories.
  2. Find questions that your expertise and business will fit into. But also questions that generate a huge amount of traction.
  3. Treat the answer as a smaller guest post on another site.

You can check out his article for more detailed steps.

After reading these two tactics, I came up with an additional two tactics.

Pinterest boards

Follow and become part of a larger Pinterest boards; then share content that adds value to the readers of that board. Every tenth post I can share a post from my blog.

Comment on other blogs

Find new articles to read, or that I’ve recently read and post an elaborate answer that adds value to everyone reading. If my answer is good people might click my name and check out my blog. If the comment thread is long I could also link back to my blog.

Choosing one

This is where I’m at now in my planning. I have listed four techniques I can use to market my blog. But before I can rank the tactics I need to create a process for each technique. This allows me to see how easy it will be, an estimate how long it takes, and how many steps it will need.

I’ll also add create a set up phase. For Facebook groups this would be step 1: find a group that your expertise and business will fit into. For Pinterest it’s a lot more since I’ve never used Pinterest. So the set up phase will take a lot more time for Pinterest.

After doing these steps I will rank these and pick the highest one. I’ll rank them on the criteria above, but also how exciting I am about it, and how much impact I think it will have. Then I’m going to focus on that tactic for at least one month.

Inverse Technique

In the Art of Charm podcast 592, James Clear mentions the inverse technique. The technique focuses on how you will fail instead of what you can do to succeed. To give you an example. Six months ago I decided (again) to become an early riser and get up at 6:30 am every day. Normally, I would only focus what I have to do to make this come true—practicing getting up, printing out pain/pleasure list.

But the inverse technique assumes I’m going to fail. So it asks in which situations I’m most likely to fail. For me, that would be.

  • Because it’s dark
  • I want to cuddle with my partner on weekends
  • The bed is warm
  • I don’t have anything planned for the day, or
  • I’m sick.

Now I can ask myself

What can I do to avoid that situation? Or what can I do when that happens?

For example, I can set my lights on timer so it’s bright when my alarm clock rings. Or when I want to cuddle with my partner I now know that I can get up and work for an hour or two before going back to bed for some cuddling.

So how do I want to use this for getting readers? After I’ve picked one marketing technique, I will ask in what situations will I fail, and why? What can I do to avoid that happening or what can I do when that happens?

Measure everything

Finally, I want to create a process for measuring everything from guest post links, ads for Celebratorica, to posting in Facebook groups (if I choose that tactic).

Creating a hypothesis on what the outcome will be and why, and then measure the outcome will make me a better marketer. And it’s a lot more effective than throwing blindly and hope that I hit the target. If I don’t measure I don’t even know if I hit the target.

For example, I can have a hypothesis that creating an ad with the title “Celebratorica: An app to remember to celebrate the little things in life” will have a click-through of 5%. And an ad that says “Do you find it hard to remember to appreciate the little things in life?” will have a click-through of 20%.

Then I can measure and see if that was true. Can I create another version of the best and create an even higher click-through rate?

Articles in this series

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