Earlier this month (10 days ago, to be exact), Ben and I had the blog launch for our completely new personal finance site, DollarSprout.com. It’s a rebrand of our old blog, VTX Capital, but the new blog has all unique new content, new social media profiles, new everything.
Essentially, we are starting almost completely over, from scratch.
Here’s how the first 10 days of the blog launch have gone:
- Total unique visitors: 3,584
- Gross affiliate revenue: $243
- Facebook ad spend: ~$150 (which sent 1,050 visitors and ~400 page likes)
- Number of blog posts: 13 (just enough to fill up our homepage theme)
I want to share some things that we learned from launching this blog that may be able to help you as you get your own blog started (even if you have already started your blog).
5 Blog Launch Revelations
We’d been blogging for over two years when we launched DollarSprout and, even still, there were many things we never knew before this blog launch. Here are five lessons on how to start a successful blog that we’ve learned from experience.
1. *Authentic* email outreach is worth the effort
When it comes to blog marketing and getting your name out there, email outreach is key.
We made a pretty big effort to email other bloggers in our niche (personal finance) to let them know about our new project.
Two reasons why we did this:
- I wanted some key players in our niche to be aware of our existence. I wanted them to hear from me (as a person) before they stumbled upon a DollarSprout article on social media for the first time. Establishing some humanity behind your brand from the get-go is something I think is important.
- If you have good content and are not a jerk, some of these people have large audiences and are more than happy to share your stuff. I wanted that to happen.
Most new bloggers start their marketing efforts on social media with a direct-to-consumer (reader) approach, as shown below.
Traditional Blog Marketing Approach:
Our Blog Marketing Approach (in addition to the traditional route):
Out of the 40 emails I sent, 20 replied to me and/or shared the new site to their followers. Some people I never heard back from, which is completely normal.
Here’s the thing, though.
Networking emails get a bad rap these days.
And I totally get why.
Most outreach emails are generic templates that are 100% self-serving and non-personalized, which is why most people, myself included, ignore them.
That’s why I took the time to make every single email unique. I also made it a point to tell each blogger that I was NOT asking for any favors — I just wanted to let them know what we’ve been working on. My message to them had absolutely no strings attached.
And no two bloggers got the same exact email.
And I’m not just talking about using a mail merge to add their first name in. I actually took the time to write something unique for each person.
Try it out. You might be surprised at the results.
2. Having popular content on your blog matters
Of the 13 articles that DollarSprout launched with, it was no surprise to us that the best performing article so far has been an article “type” that did well on VTX (our old blog).
It was a simple article on how to make $100 in one week, something that no doubt has been written about plenty of times before on other blogs. But we know people like that kind of content, so we made sure to give the people more of what they want.
That’s one tidbit on how to start a successful blog that took us a long time to understand. We used to write the content that we wanted to write instead of what others wanted to read.
Try to always be aware of what other successful bloggers are doing in your niche. If they seem to be pushing a certain type of content harder than others, there is probably a good reason why.
3. Pinterest is NOT dead
I know there are tons of Debbie Downers out there saying Pinterest is dead and that it’s too crowded, but DollarSprout is proof that there’s still plenty of room for even brand new blogs (like ours) to grow traffic.
At the time of me writing this, our Pinterest account has less than 100 followers.
Here is how our growth is looking after 10 days of pinning:
The root of our success is pin design and content that people like. That’s it. (Well, we also use the best Pinterest scheduler on the market to share our content.)
Here’s a look at our first few pins:
We learned Pinterest design through trial and error so you don’t have to.
Designing pins is NOT intuitive — it is a skill that has to be learned.
If you want proof, just look at the first pin I ever made 😭:
(I hate to admit it, but at the time I thought this was a masterpiece. lol.)
You may have heard me talk about our Pinterest Course.
The reason I’m so pro-Pinterest is because it works. IF you know what you’re doing.
Our course focuses primarily on design, but we’ve recently added some other extra bonus materials, including 14 pages of printables and a detailed group board strategy guide (with video).
Here’s what one student, R.J., had to say after finishing the course:
“I had been playing close attention to what Ben & Jeff were doing with Pinterest. Their results growing two separate blogs in a short time speak for themselves.
So, when they came out with a course with a behind the scenes look at at their strategies, I was excited to go through it.
It didn’t disappoint.
Even as an experienced Pinterest user, I learned a lot of new ideas and strategies. If you’re struggling gaining traction with Pins you won’t be disappointed either.”
Another student emailed me last week saying he has already seen a 2,000 visitor uptick in traffic just a few weeks after taking the course.
Simply put, the strategies in this course are the exact ones we have used to grow DollarSprout from 0 visitors to several thousand in less than 10 days.
If you want to build blog traffic fast, this course can help.
Ok, I’m done being salesy now. I’ve had my fix for the day 🙂
4. You can earn money on Day 1 of your blog launch
In its first 10 days of existence, DollarSprout has generated $243 in revenue from 3,548 unique visitors.
That comes out to a session RPM (Revenue Per 1,000 Sessions) of about $68.
For full disclosure, we have invested about $150 into Facebook ads which resulted in 1,050 uniques and about 400 page likes. So approximately 1/3rd of that $243 revenue can be attributed to paid Facebook traffic. The other 2/3rds of the $243 resulted from free Pinterest traffic.
(We have no way to exactly match revenue with traffic sources, so these breakdowns are estimates, to a degree.)
The site is monetized with affiliate links, meaning that we get commissions for every sale or lead we generate that comes from a referral link on our blog.
We have zero display ads.
You don’t have to wait years before you start making money from your blog.
With the right blog marketing strategy, you can make money blogging from the start. If you are strategic in approaching your blog as a business and are intentional in where you invest your effort and time, you really can make money shortly after your blog launch.
Realistically, though, it will take time to learn all the ins and outs. But you can’t start learning until you actually start doing. There is only so much prep work you can do before you finally just have to pull the trigger and get started.
If you would like to start a blog of your own, I highly recommend any one of these four resources Ben and I have put together:
- How to Start a Blog: Tutorial
- [Blueprint for $1K] How to Get Your First $1,000 Month as a Blogger
- Free 5 Day “How to Start a Money Making Blog” Email Course
- BTOP Ultimate Blogging Facebook Group (Free)
5. It’s easy to let small issues hold you back
Ben and I were definitely guilty of wanting the site to be PERFECT when it launched.
We probably could have launched several weeks earlier (and thus started generating revenue sooner), but we let a few admittedly small things prevent us from going live.
Some things we got hung up spending extra time on:
- Adding affiliate sub-IDs to every single post
- SEO optimizing every single post
- Customizing “related posts” for each article to optimize reader flow to conversion based articles
- Creating two separate opt-in freebies instead of using general “subscribe now” boxes
- Technical issues. So many small glitches that very few people would have actually noticed.
All of these things could have probably been addressed AFTER the site was live, but we chose to wait. I don’t think it was bad to do it that way, but I think we need to be careful of the perfectionist mindset going forward.
Don’t Wait for Your “Perfect” Blog Launch Moment
Guys, the opportunity is out there.
The problem is that it takes an insane amount of work to grab hold of it, and most people aren’t ready to make that commitment.
So they stay stuck.
If you aren’t happy with your current income levels, know that blogging is a viable option to close the gap between your current income and what you want to earn. It’s definitely not for everyone, though.
But, if you make the choice to be persistent and to learn the skills that will bring you success, there are no limits to what you can accomplish with a blog.
$243 isn’t a lot of money to some people, but for something that is 10 days old and already profitable, I know that Ben and I are on the right track.
Do you want to start a blog?
Ben and I personally recommend Hostgator to get your blog up and running.
Why HostGator? In our view, they are the best all around hosting company for new bloggers in terms of performance and cost. They’ve also got a great infrastructure to accommodate your blog as it grows, which is really important.
For as little as $2.95/month (or $36 per year) you can start today. Seriously, for less than a cup of coffee, you can start something that could truly change your life. It absolutely has for Ben and me. If you decide it isn’t for you, you can cancel and get a full refund.
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Check them out if you’re interested, and be sure to let us know if you have any questions!
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