It’s been exactly one year since I started blogging. A simple hobby and a digital diary of my fitness passion and some “girly” stuff has turned into something a lot bigger and even more fascinating!
I’ve learnt a ton of new things on the way, I’ve discovered what a great potential blogging has and how it can also become an amazing source of passive income for the future. I’ve significantly improved my knowledge about social media and most of all I have met so many amazing people!
The real adventure has started only recently when in November I made a bold decision to invest a little in my blog and go self-hosted. A lot has changed since then and I see that it’s been the best decision I could have ever made. I’m going to show you exactly why and I hope if you’re still unsure whether you should go along that path, after reading my post, your fears will be gone.
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It started as a hobby
I bought my domain back in 2015 and published 2 (!) posts lol. It was a huge misfire. I left it like that until April 2017. That’s when I really started blogging and my intention was to simply document my fitness journey and important moments of my life. I was also thinking that it would be a nice diary for my daughter to read when she gets older. That was the reason behind my blogging back then.
I had a free template on wordpress.com and didn’t pay a penny for any kind of promotion or anything. It was pure hobby and I didn’t bother about readability, SEO or traffic to my blog or anything like that. I was over the moon when after publishing one of my most popular posts I got 147 views (!), thanks to my friends sharing it on Facebook.
An innocent hobby turned into passion
Truth is, I really enjoyed writing! I loved the creative part in all that and the feeling that I was actually leaving something behind (for other people to read). It’s kind of like writing a book, bit by bit, if you know what I mean. And at some stage I started thinking that I’d love to bring it a bit further. Since I liked it so much, why not turn it into my dream job and finally free myself from my regular 9-5 office work?
I met some amazing people on the way. One of them was Lauren from www.ellduclos.blog who has been my biggest inspiration all that time. I’ve been watching her incredible success journey from the beginning, since we started blogging more or less at the same time together, and I’ve been totally amazed by this girl’s strong will, determination and her lovely warm personality. Her example gave me hope and belief that I could do it too, if I really wanted to.
So finally after 6 months of blogging I made a decision to do it. That was a huge turning point for my blog.
CHANGES WHICH HAVE SIGNIFICANTLY HELPED MY BLOG GROW
Brand new template
My free wordpress template wasn’t bad, it was very neat, however I thought it was missing that professional feel to it. I wanted it to be bright, have more options for menu items, have more widget options on the side bar and a few other bits and pieces which all the professional blogs had and I couldn’t get them in my free version. I also wanted to have full power over the colours and fonts. And so after a while I’ve found my perfect choice: Maryanne template from Georgia Lou Studios. Unfortunately when I checked today I’ve noticed that Georgia Lou Studios does not offer templates for wordpress anymore and also my template is unavailable, which is a great pity.
However here is a few which are quite similar and are OK for wordpress (and I really like them too!):
- Elara by larathemes
- Finesse or Charm by Lucid Themes (which are now 40% cheaper)
- or beautiful feminine Blush by Paper Lotus (this one is a bit different however I really love the design)
That was the most difficult part. Many bloggers recommend two most popular hosting companies, however I never follow masses and I tend to do my own research before making a final decission. First I asked my husband who is one of those IT geeks and I always thought that he’d know everything, but he asked me to google it (lol). So I did. I did lot of googling!
My main goals were:
- unlimited disk space (I have loads of photos and I needed to live stress-free while uploading them onto my blog)
- free migration of my blog content to wordpress.org
- it had to be fast and have a user-friendly interface
- it had to have really good customer service
- and great recommendations most of all
So after googling and googling I came across this site and everything was clear. Such detailed descriptions, performance tests and comparisons. So the winner was obvious: I chose HostGator. Since then I haven’t regretted my choice for a second!
What I love about HostGator:
- HostGator had everything I’ve been looking for (see my goals above), and the price was incredibly low! Right now they have even better offer (click the banner below for more details)!
- They migrated my blog for free within a day, answered any questions I had, fixed a huge mess which I somehow managed to do when I thought I could be brilliant enough and do stuff myself (since google is full of instructions right?). My advice here: Don’t try it. If you’re not familiar with self-hosting and wordpress.org, don’t try to set up things on your own. I managed to delete wordpress.org from my host and I thought I’d lost all my blog content! Fortunately my host fixed it all. Better leave it for the professionals to do it for you (it doesn’t cost you anything anyway).
- What I love most about HostGator is their customer service. I think they have one of the best customer services I’ve ever experienced. You can arrange everything through a life chat within minutes! They are always extremely polite and they show that they really care about helping you. And they always find a way to help you and fix a problem.
I’ve been using wordpress at work for years and I already knew the basics of it so that was an obvious choice for my blog. I had some idea about widgets and plugins, I knew how to organise pages, categories, posts and how to modify my template. Because I’m a self-taught web designer, I also had some knowledge about html and css so for me using wordpress.org as my blogging platform wasn’t that much of a problem. To be honest, I didn’t have to use my code knowledge that much and whenever I didn’t know something, google was my friend 🙂
I’m seriously impressed how much I managed to learn since November last year! Of course I could have asked my IT guru husband to do stuff for me, but I wanted to have full control over my blog and I didn’t want to involve anyone else in that. Google is amazing here, honestly!
WordPress gives you so many possibilities! There is a plugin for almost anything you want, and many different tools which can greatly help your blog traffic (SEO optimisation, social share buttons, newsletter subscription options and many more). You basically have full control over appearance of your blog and the way you want it to be shearable.
As I mentioned in the beginning of my post, I’ve learnt a lot about social media during these past few months! I’ve already had some knowledge about Facebook and Instagram because I’d been using them on a daily basis, however I was completely new to Twitter and Pinterest. And particularly the last one, even though I only opened my account in November 2017, has turned out to bring most of the overall traffic to my blog. I find it really amazing!
Pinterest pins all other social media down in my case! It’s been the main source of traffic to my blog all the time. Here’s a screenshot from Google Analytics to prove that:
You can find out how exactly I’m using Pinterest for my blog promotion in these two posts:
- How My Daily Page Views Skyrocketed Overnight from 200 To 1000 And To 1500 The Day After
- How To Grow Your Pinterest From 3K – 7M Monthly Viewers In 3 Months
One year of blogging – my little achievements
In other words, where am I right now in my blogging adventure? Compared to last year, I think I’m pretty far actually, even though to some it may not seem like a lot. To me it really is A LOT!
- Up utill now I have published 54 posts on my blog
- I’ve published 1 guest post and I have a few other inquiries so there will be more in future
- 170 people have signed up for my mailing list and I’m sending weekly newsletters to all my subscribers
- 3 pins have gone viral on Pinterest and especially one of those three went crazy viral and it keeps driving traffic to my blog night and day
- I have 13000 monthly visitors to my blog
- I’ve started monetising my blog and I had a few sales from the links I’m sharing
The graph below shows my overall traffic to my blog in 2017 and now in 2018 (till April the 12th):
The difference compared to 2017 is crazy, isn’t it! And it’s only April, so I can only imagine what it will look like by the end of the year if I keep working on it as much as I do now.
The more you give, the more you get
I want you to know that it didn’t happen magically on its own. I’ve put a huge amount of time and hard work to it. Taking into consideration the fact that all this time I’ve been working full time (until March 2018) and I have a family and my second business, it often meant that I was staying till very late at night. I’ve finally switched to part-time which gives me more time for my blog, family, my second business and my workouts.
I’m very proud of how I managed to improve the quality and visibility of my blog and I’m forever grateful to those of you who have supported me all this time and are still with me. And if what I’m sharing with the world has ever helped or inspired even one single person, it’s been so worth it!
Thank you for visiting my blog and for reading my posts, commenting and sharing! This place is meant for you and it’s thanks to you that my blog is growing.
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I’m full of hope and excitement for what the next year will bring!