Welcome to the 4th month blog traffic report at Frugal Asian Finance!
I can’t believe the summer is almost half way over. While I wish I had joined more activities and had more fun, I’m also glad that I have been able to invest time and effort into my blog.
Summer is the slow traffic season for bloggers, so I’ve been mentally bracing myself for a month of traffic slump which fortunately hasn’t happened yet.
I started blogging on March 21 of this year. The whole first month was dedicated to churning out blog posts. I wrote posts in the evenings and on the weekends like there was no tomorrow. I barely edited my posts.
Ideas came flooding to my mind after years of me reading personal finance blogs. I just kept writing and didn’t pay much attention to editing. I got such great satisfaction from writing that it didn’t feel like it was work at all.
The second month saw improvement in my post editing and creating Pinterest images. On one weekend, I just sat at my desk and edited 25 scheduled posts.
My posts are usually 1,000-1,500 words. In total, I edited 20,000 -25,000 words that weekend. By the time I was done, I swore to myself that I’d need to edit a post whenever I finish it.
On another weekend, I made Pinterest images for almost 25 scheduled posts. The next day I got dizzy from just looking at the Pinterest home feeds.
In the third month, I dedicated more time to interacting with other bloggers and sharing my content on Twitter. Twitter has since become my number 1 referrer. I also explored other personal finance (PF) platforms such as the Rockstar Finance Forums. I’m always amazed at how supportive the PF blogger community has been. I couldn’t have gotten this far without them.
In the fourth month of July, I set a goal for myself: Learn about Pinterest and find out how I can get more traffic from this increasingly popular social media platform. I had put off this project in the previous months mostly because I didn’t understand Pinterest and felt discouraged by how confusing it looked. But after seeing the success with Twitter, I was determined to dig the Pinterest goldmine.
All I wanted to do was to write new posts. But I made a rule for myself: Unless I learn something new about Pinterest and take action to implement the information, I can’t write new posts.
This is the first month I’ve seen some progress with the platform. I know a lot of bloggers are also grappling with Pinterest. I am not a Pinterest pro, but I’m happy to share with you all everything I’ve learned so far. I hope that you won’t have to face the frustration that I have trying to navigate Pinterest.
If you missed the previous blog traffic reports, you can see them below:
June 2017 Blog Traffic (3rd Month) – 13,242 Views (+20.2%)
May 2017 Blog Traffic (2nd Month) – 11,014 Views (+97.7%)
April 2017 Blog Traffic (1st Month) – 5,572 Views
In terms of blog expenses, I had a new expense in July – an annual Tailwind subscription of $104.88 (originally $120 with a $15 discount). Combined with the site startup cost of $118.08, I have spent a total of $222.96 since the launch of my blog.
— $106.20 for Account Plan (36 months)
— $11.88 for Domain Privacy Protection (12 months)
— $105 for an annual Tailwind subscription (12 months)
Now on to our blog traffic report of the month:
Page views: 16,600 (+25.36%)
Page views/day: 516 (+16.9%)
Users: 3,058 (+28%)
Bounce rate: 48.54% (+14.9%)
Returning visitors: 58% (+2.5%)
New visitors: 42% (-3.2%)
Top 10 sources of traffic
Top 10 referrers
Top 10 posts
Top 10 countries
I continue to publish new posts at 7:45 AM three times a week (Monday, Wednesday, and Friday). I have 30 posts and 4 drafts scheduled until October 16. I’d like to have posts scheduled for 3 months in advance (ideally until Nov 1), which puts me 2 weeks behind my preferred schedule.
However, I had to prioritize expanding my presence on social media platforms, especially Pinterest, in July. I knew that if I hadn’t forced myself to learn about Pinterest, I’d keep putting it off and continue to write new posts instead. Once I become more established on social media, I will start churning out more content again.
I spend about 30-35 hours blogging every week in July (v. 25-30 hours in June). This includes writing posts, responding to comments, interacting on Twitter, making Pinterest images. I do all of that while working an 8-5 job. I went to bed at 1 and got up at 6 almost every day. I think I will slow down in August now I have better understood Pinterest.
1. Comment on other blogs
I continue to read and leave comments on some of my favorite blogs. Yet, as I shifted my focus to Pinterest in June, I found myself having less time to follow other bloggers.
I went from reading 10 posts a day in June to about 5 in July. It pains me to think about all the amazing posts that I missed. But when the Pinterest puzzle had yet to be solved, I couldn’t feel happy doing anything else.
2. Respond to comments on my blog
One thing I had difficulty letting go of was responding to all the comments on my posts. I noticed that other bloggers only respond to the first 5 or 10 comments on a post. I’ve been trying to do the same, but I just feel really bad about responding to some readers and not others. They all have such great stories to share.
You can check out my previous blog traffic reports for the other marketing strategies that I implemented in the previous months.
Twitter: 880 followers (+58%)
Pinterest: 113 followers (+205%)
Facebook: 15 likes & 19 follows (+50% in likes)
Instagram: 225 followers
Subscribers: 52 (+36.8%)
Social media dominated my marketing strategies for July. While leaving feedback on blog posts is effective at drawing traffic to my site, it is rather time-consuming and labor-intensive.
Social media, on the other hand, are scalable. If done right, it can draw a tremendous amount of traffic to your site. And that’s what I was aiming for in July. I devoted a lot of time to Pinterest and was pleased to see the return, though modest, that I got to my investment on this platform.
In July, the number of my followers jumped by 205% from 37 to 113. Pinterest became my top 7 source of traffic and top 3 referrer.
I continued to partner up with the amazingly talented Lily at The Frugal Gene to access the Pinterest goldmine. I was also fortunate to get help from Cory at Growing Dollars from Cents and JT at Just Making Cents.
I chose a new look for my pins (vibrant color, more pastel, and feminine). I started pinning manually on various boards for two weeks straight and saw great results. I went from getting 23 referrals from Pinterest in the whole month of June to averaging 15 referrals a day in July. At one point, it peaked at 55 referrals/day.
However, manual pinning took me more than an hour each night. One thing I noticed was that I pinned a new post image to ALL my 40+ boards in one setting, which I later found out was a big no-no. Pinterest could consider such action spamming, which could hurt my account.
I like the Random Campaign feature of Boardbooster, which randomly pins your images to your selected boards over an allotted period of time. It minimizes the amount of time you need to manually promote your posts on different boards. You can also pin at your selected time slots with a Scheduled Campaign.
However, I later switched to Tailwind. Boardbooster charges you by the number of pins ($5 for 500 pins/mo, $10 for 1,000 pins/mo, etc), which is neither sustainable nor cost-effective as my blog grows. Tailwind, on the other hand, charges $15 per month (monthly plan) or $119 per year (annual plan).
Tailwind’s interface might look confusing at first, but as you spend more time navigating the app, you will find it intuitive and efficient. If you are still debating which one to use, you can try the first 500 free pins on Boardbooster and 100 free pins on Tailwind. This article nicely lays out the pros and cons of each app.
You can check out my Pinterest profile here. Below are the steps I took to up my Pinterest game. You can take steps 2-6 at the same time as you see fit.
Step 1: Sign up for a business account on Pinterest
— A business account will give you access to Analytics.
— Install a Pin It button plug-in for your blog. I use jQuery Pin It Button for Images. I usually don’t use this button as much as the button from Sumo (the sidebar list of buttons on the right of the page). This makes it easier for you and others to pin your images to Pinterest.
— Apply for Rich Pin, which shows a brief excerpt from your post under the image.
Step 2: Create Pinterest images for your posts
— You can go on Pinterest to look at other people’s designs and decide which one you like and create your own.
Step 3: Create boards for your images
— You should have one board that is a collection of the pins for your own posts. This is where people can find out what posts you have written on your blog. You want to move this to the top of your board list.
— The rest of the boards should correspond to the categories on your blog (i.e. blogging, relationships, investment). This is where you can pin your own images and any imagines you find intriguing on Pinterest.
Step 4: Request to join group boards
— You want to join group boards since once shared on these boards, your pins will be seen by hundreds and thousands of each board’s followers. You can find the group boards in your niche on PinGroupie or by looking at other bloggers’ group boards.
— There are three main ways to make your request.
1. Check the creator’s instructions on the board. Oftentimes you will need to email them to join the board. Check out this article for more details. I spent two whole weekends looking up boards and sending requests to the board creators.
2. If there are no instructions, you can send them a direct message or leave a request on one of their most recent pins. Some groups are closed to contributors, so you just need to move on to the next one.
3. One way I found particularly helpful is trading your group boards with other bloggers. I personally feel comfortable reaching out to them if I know I have some boards to offer to them in exchange for them inviting me to theirs. Some boards allow only the creator to invite new contributors.
Step 5: Start following others
— You can go to other bloggers’ Pinterest profiles and start following their followers and those they follow. You can also click on the list of group board followers to follow them (This is actually faster since the Follow buttons are readily available for you to click.)
— Pinterest has a limit on how many people you can follow over a certain period of time, so just wait for an hour or so to continue if you have reached the limit. Only some will follow you back, but just keep trying.
Step 6: Start pinning
— You want to put your images out there as much as you can. But try to follow each board’s rule regarding pin limits, otherwise you might be removed. Also, you want to pin others’ popular images since it can boost your rating by Pinterest.
— I usually pin others’ imagines to my own boards and pin mine to group boards. Group boards allow a limited number of pins each day, so I want to make sure my images are seen by the boards’ followers. I might change this strategy in the future once I increase the presence of my images. After all, pinning the same things on the same boards probably won’t get me very far.
Twitter continues to be my most successful social media platform. I just love the simplicity of Twitter and the interaction with other bloggers. Below are the four main strategies I implement on this platform.
— Retweeting their posts. If you only tweet your content, your followers will see it. If others tweet your content, their followers will also see it. That’s the power of scalability. There’s no better way to market our content by helping others promote theirs on Twitter.
— Leaving thoughtful comments on others’ tweets. You don’t have to leave comments that are sentences long, but saying something that contributes to the conversation will help you build a connection with other bloggers. It will also draw attention and thus traffic to site.
— Liking others’ content. You don’t want to go on a liking spree and like everything tweeted, but a couple of likes here and there show other bloggers that you care what they have to say.
— Retweeting old posts. I retweet 2-3 of my old posts every day. I want to make sure that the followers don’t miss what I published a long time ago. Some of my old posts got retweeted multiple times, which pleasantly surprised me.
— I have not been very active on Facebook since I can’t join groups and interact with other bloggers anonymously. I usually just post new content on my page and leave it as that.
Lily gave me another nudge to join Instagram, and I finally took action. I was blown away by how much easier it it to gain followers on Instagram than on Pinterest.
I’m still learning about this platform. But I just uploaded all of my Pinterest images on Instagram from my computer using Gramblr. I also include a bitly link in case someone wants to check out the post. I will need to wait and see how this strategy works.
(Tim at Tub Of Cash is a master at using Instagram to draw traffic to his blog, having 56,918 views in less than 2 months. Pinterest and Twitter, therefore, are definitely not the only games in town.)
In June, I set a goal to learn about Pinterest and promote my blog presence on this platform. After increasing the number of my Pinterest followers by more than 200% and making it one of my top 10 referrers and sources of traffic, I can say that I’m generally pleased with the progress.
In August, I want to focus on making better Pinterest images and revising the content of my old posts. After all, pretty images won’t make up for the low-medium quality posts I wrote when starting out. And unattractive images won’t be able to draw attention and visits to my high quality posts.
I will slow down on my blogging time in August by spending 25-30 hours/week instead of 30-35 hours/week in July. I really don’t mind the exhaustion, but I don’t want to accelerate the premature aging process due to lack of sleep. Preventing wrinkles, unfortunately, has become one of my priorities now that I’m 30.
Until next time!