How I doubled my Pinterest traffic this month

Actually, more than doubled! For the past few weeks I focused promoting my travel blog on Pinterest. The good news is that I more than doubled the traffic for that blog! While my Pinterest strategy included several components, I am pretty sure I know which one made the greatest difference: Tailwindapp. Let me tell you what happened with that.

How I doubled my Pinterest traffic in one month (actually, more than doubled!)

My Pinterest strategy

In early September I came up with my Pinterest strategy for that blog. To recap, it included several components –

  • Set up templates for pins
  • Add long SEO-oriented descriptions to all pins
  • Make sure pinnable images have appropriate file names and ALT tags.
  • Experiment with a variety of pins
  • Join Pinterest group boards for even more exposure

Later that month, I had to deal some more with the question of how exactly to join these Pinterest group boards.

I’m happy to say that I have indeed been “Pinteresting” quite a bit these past few weeks! I spent a few hours coming up with templates for my pins (which were later adjusted, based on performance). Fortunately, there were only 35 blog posts in the blog which is quite a manageable number for re-doing images. So, I went over each and every blog post and created new vertical graphics. ALT tags and descriptions were also added, not a problem.

Group boards proved to be more of a challenge but I think I may have cracked it eventually. I now collaborate on 7 good group boards and hope to join more in the future.

Do you know what the main challenge was though?

I had to actually pin stuff. Regularly. Several times a day, every day. Now, this was a problem. I have ADHD and there’s only so many times I can repeat a task without getting so bored I just give up on it.

The Solution: Tailwind

That name – Tailwind – kept popping up in blog posts about successful Pinterest promotion. With a free trial, there wasn’t much to lose, so eventually, on the 11th of September, I signed up for an account.

What Tailwind does

Simple enough, really. It’s a pin scheduler. I’ve been using Hootsuite for Twitter for awhile now, so the concept wasn’t new. Sit down and enter a batch of pins along ahead of time, then let the software pin them for you at pre-scheduled intervals.

The trial version allows for 100 pins and suggests pinning 4 times a day, so that you’ll see the effect over twenty-something days. Well, I could see the results within a week. This is what the traffic looked like on Google Analytics.

tailwindapp-on-ga

I upgraded to the paid version

It was obvious that regular pinning was paying off. I saw an immediate increase in all parameters: The number of followers, number of re-pins and – as you can see above – actual traffic to the site.

With a monthly plan costing only $15, it made no sense to wait. If it ended up not working, I could just not renew for an additional month.

Once I upgraded the account, I boosted the schedule to 8-10 pins a day. This is what has happened since –

My Pinterest account for that blog skyrocketed. I keep getting likes, repins and followers. And traffic follows –

tripmemos-analytics-2

In the last screenshot, I added search traffic as a parameter, just to show you how this is not Google traffic. Google traffic stays as before. This is purely Pinterest traffic.

Granted, some of this is due to other aspects of my Pinterest strategy. More quality pins to share is a cornerstone of Pinterest success, no doubt. But these pins need to be put out there, in front of people’s eyes, in order to get people to click. And this is where Tailwind brings home the bacon.

Why I enjoy working with Tailwind so much

I thought I’d mention why I enjoy this product so much.

1. It has an awesome interface

As I said, I’m used to scheduling tweets using Hootsuite. It certainly makes life a whole lot easier. That said, Tailwind’s interface – which does essentially the same thing – is way better.

It’s a very intuitive and user-friendly drag-and-drop interface. There are tons of features there but they manage to keep the essence simple and effective. All you have to know is how to use the following three elements:

The Time Table:

This is where you can see all of the daily time slots. Just drag-and-drop and click and play around with it to easily set up the time slots you want your pins to show up on.

tailwindapp-schedule

Once you’ve set up your time slots, you’re done with them. Any image that you add to the pinning queue will simply get the next allotted time slot. No need to start specifying the date of publication for each specific pin, like you do with other schedulers.

Sometimes I want to pin 10-15 images from a single post but I don’t want to flood my feed with that post. Not a problem with Tailwindapp. I can re-shuffle all of the pins in my queue at any given time.

Of course, you can also manually set a time and date for a pin. You can also “lock” down specific pins, to keep them on date when re-shuffling your pins. Easy does it.

The Tailwind publishing extension:

I’m used to the Pinterest Chrome extension, so switching to the Tailwind one was a breeze. Basically, you install an extension for your browser which creates a small icon in your toolbar.

If you see an image that you want to add to your pinning queue, you hover above it with your mouse and click the Tailwind icon which shows up. You can also click the icon in your toolbar, which will bring up all of the images on the page. Just choose the ones you want to pin to add them to your queue. Easy as pie.

If that’s not enough, Tailwind works with the Pinterest interface, so the blue Tailwind button shows up on pins. Can’t get any easier than that.

The Tailwind queue:

Finally, the pin queue is where everything’s at. If you want to change, delete, edit, re-position or do anything else with a scheduled pin, it’s right there –

tailwindapp2

Again, drag-and-drop! You have a mini-version in the right side where it’s easier to re-arrange pins by dragging them around, or you can use the main column for more information and functions.

I’m not sure if their interface has won any awards, but it’s definitely award-worthy!

Oh, and if you’re wondering how I can find 10+ new pins every day for a blog with only 35 posts? In a nutshell, I pin good stuff and not just my own.

2. Proactive support

I’m not sure how large Tailwind is but it feels small. And I mean that in the best possible way.

A friendly welcome email was there when I signed up. Then again when I upgraded the account. It offered video tutorials and a general invitation to ask for help. Obviously, these emails are automated but when I replied with a question, I received a fast, helpful and friendly reply. In addition to video tutorials, they also offer articles, seminars and pretty much everything you need to get going.

3. They’re a Pinterest Marketing Developer Partner

That means Pinterest approved Tailwind and approves of Tailwind. To me, that’s huge. For one thing, it means I won’t be getting into trouble for using it. There’s nothing shady or “under the table” about Tailwind, so no risk of a penalty, now or in the future. It also means they have inside information on how the platform work and they probably generally know what they’re doing…

There you have it.

Give Tailwind a try yourself!

If you’re using Pinterest at all – give Tailwind a go. It’s completely free to try. Just sign up for your free account and schedule your first 100 pins and see just how awesome their system is!

And yes, I haven’t mentioned this before but these are in fact affiliate links in this post, so thanks in advance for using them!

Questions? Comments? Bring them on! I’d love to hear about our own experiences with Tailwind and/or with other schedulers, so do leave me a note in the comment section!

5 Quick Tips That Can Help Increase Your Productivity

Got lots of ideas but having trouble getting things done? Feeling creative but find it hard to sit in front of the computer and actually work? You’re not alone. I’m just like that too. Over the (many) years I picked up a few tricks that helped me dramatically improve my productivity. Sharing them here today, in the hope that they will help increase your productivity too. While the first four are very effective, it’s the fifth that has truly changed my life.

Increase your productivity with these five quick tips

1. Shut  the world out and get comfortable

Virginia Woolf knew what she was talking about when she wrote A Room Of Her Own. Man or woman, we all need our private little corner where we can work.

If at all possible, literally shut the door and put a “Do Not Disturb” sign on it. Leave your phone out of your office room too. I know it’s hard but trust me, it’s doable.

If you’re addicted to Facebook or Twitter, log out to make it more difficult to “just take a quick look” while you work. If that doesn’t help, use a software that blocks Facebook for a set period of time.

Make sure that you’re comfortable and the temperature is right for you. Turn on the heat or the air-conditioning as may be necessary. Have a bottle of water on your desk and drink regularly. Staying well-hydrated can actually help you focus and increase your productivity.

2. Outsource boring tasks

I bet that when faced with a task that you find interesting, nothing can stop you. Maybe it’s coding a new app, designing on Photoshop, setting up a new social media campaign or tweaking your server. To each his own.

Also, most things are usually fun when they’re fresh and challenging. Once they become routine, they become boring. And let me guess, boring means you come to a halt, doesn’t it?

See if and how you can outsource the boring stuff. Don’t have the budget for outsourcing yet? That’s ok. You can still increase your productivity: Simply come up with a strategy that includes more of what you find interesting and less of the boring stuff.

For example, maybe you hate doing social media but love tweaking pages for SEO? You should either outsource your social media campaigns, or come up with a strategy for your blog that involves less social media and more SEO. At least until you get to the point where you can outsource.

3. Schedule breaks

Breaks are important, both for your body and your soul. The problem is that once you sit down and finally manage to focus on your work, you may forget to take breaks. Alternatively, your break is on your mind so much, you keep checking the clock and can’t focus on writing.

Let someone – or something – else watch over the clock. I’m using a little piece of software called WorkRave. For me, five minute long breaks every 50 minutes work well. You can program it to your own prefered schedule.

Stretch during your breaks. The older we get, the more important stretching becomes, but really, at any age, if you’re trying to work on the computer for several hours a day, do your back a huge favor and stretch properly once an hour. Your body will thank you.

4. Use a task list app

I would not be able to manage any of my work without my ToodleDo. At the beginning of each month, or actually a few days before that, I go over my content plans and create tasks for each one. I enter other tasks as they pop up, when I take up new projects. This is what it looks like –

Increase your productivity using a task list

Toodledo is a powerful tool. You can schedule recurring tasks, put them into folders, design goals (and see how close you are to completing them) and more. I use the free version and it’s good enough for me (I did pay a few bucks for the phone app, so I have everything synced on my phone as well). It doesn’t really matter which software you use – just use something to keep yourself on track and increase your productivity.

Ready for my fifth tip? I hope it won’t upset you too much.

5. Consider getting a diagnosis and medication

Yes, I’m talking about ADD/ADHD.

Earlier on, when I mentioned that it’s probably easier for you to focus on things that interest you, where you nodding your head? Some people think there’s no way they can have ADHD because they can really focus well on things that interest them. The kind of “not getting up from your desk for 10 hours and forgetting to eat and drink” focus? Guess what? That’s classic ADHD.

How about when I talked about creativity? Are you creative yet having trouble with translating those awesome ideas into actual work? Is that especially true with long-term projects? Do you find that it’s easy to put in tons of work in the first few days or a project but then you can’t. Just can’t. Hitting that wall again and again.

I honestly suspect that most bloggers suffer from some form of ADD or ADHD. Five years ago, I got my own official diagnosis. That was a couple of years after both my sons got theirs.

If any of the things I just mentioned ring a bell do yourself a huge favor and get tested for ADHD.

Don’t self-medicate!

Don’t just go ask a friend for Ritalin pills. It does not work like that. You have to be properly diagnosed and then have a doctor help you find the exact drug and the right dosage that works for you.

Finding the right medication can be challenging. Many people just pop in a Ritalin pill they got from a friend, feel awful with the side effects and vow to never try the meds again. That’s because they went about it the wrong way. Maybe adderall would be better for them, or maybe they need a different dosage. Or maybe you don’t really have ADHD, and maybe there’s something wrong with you physically that should be treated (that’s why a blood panel is needed before confirming an ADHD diagnosis).

Your doctor also needs to monitor your ongoing health when you’re taking stimulants. As with every other medication, they can have adverse effects. Not to mention, these are prescription drugs, so it’s illegal to just “borrow” them from your friends.

Get yourself tested and properly treated. Trust me, if you do have ADHD and if you find the right meds that work for you, nothing can increase your productivity more than that.

My own productivity skyrocketed thanks to these

And yes, the last one was certainly the most effective. The ADHD diagnosis – at the age of 40 – wasn’t easy to deal with, emotionally. However, it really made everything fall into place. It helped me realize why some techniques were working so well for me and why others were failing.

When I finally found the medication that worked for me (not easy!) things changed quite drastically. I can get so much more work done in a day when I take my pill. You know how you sometimes wish you had more hours in the day? If you’re ADHD, then the right medication can do just that for you!

I hope my fifth tip won’t upset you too much. There’s a lot of misconceptions and prejudice against using pharmaceuticals to increase your productivity. If you happen to be someone who can benefit from that – and not everyone is – then hopefully this post has at least made you consider the option.

As always, leave a comment and let me know what you think! Any tips or tricks you can share about how you increase your productivity? I’d love to hear them!

Touching Base – Mid-September update

I wonder if I’m currently suffering from jet lag. No, I haven’t traveled to a different timezone. Still here at home. However, I’m right in the middle of one of the most hectic – and fun – weeks I ever had.

The Challenge – A Super Busy Week

For the past four days, we’ve hosted friends who are visiting our country. Not only did we get to enjoy their company, we also traveled with them almost every day. There’s nothing quite like seeing your own country through the eyes of a first-time visitor. It was fun and also gave me ideas for new posts in my travel blog (not to mention the trip reports and pictures themselves which will also become travel blog posts at some point!)

Yesterday evening we went to a family wedding which included a dance party. We danced, we drank (moderately and responsibly!) and crashed back in our own beds at around 2AM. At 5AM there was a knock at the door. My Dad and his lovely wife returned from a year and a half long trip in South America and made our home their first stop. It was wonderful to see them but I sure could have used this specific morning to sleep in. My brother and my sister both joined my father and step-mother as they woke up and we all had lunch together. They left about an hour ago and so I’m finally here, sitting by my desk and blogging.

The week isn’t over yet!

Tomorrow we’re meeting more friends who are currently visiting our country. The following day? Oh just a small get-together of 30-40 friends in our home…

I think that this week brings a level of social interaction which suggests I may have some social skills after all!

What about my work? What about the Blog Revival Project?

Well, I’m afraid that pesky thing we call “life” came in the way once more.

I knew this would be a busy week, so I pre-scheduled posts for a few of the blogs. I had meant to do that for all six project blogs but alas, only managed to pre-schedule posts on four of them. The blog you’re reading right now – Yeys.com – is one of the two that I just didn’t get around to posting in. Almost two weeks with no posts <insert sad smilie here>.

(I would have used an actual sad smilie, but some RSS readers take these smilies and use them to feature your posts with. Your post ends up with a huge blurry yellow smiling face for a cover image. Scary stuff!)

Of course, there’s more to blogging than just writing posts. I regularly comment on other people’s blogs and promote my blogs on social media. Not too much of either happening this week, I’m afraid.

So, I’m touching base here today to boost the blog with a new post and let everyone know where I’m at. I’m at home, having fun but not working as much as I should be!

Taking a break is not all bad!

I may be feeling tired (almost jet-lagged) today but that’s a very temporary thing. At the same time, I feel mentally refreshed and even rejuvenated by spending time with friends and family and by traveling around the country.

I find myself toying with ideas for posts and almost writing them in my head. I know there are some awesome new posts about to be added to my travel blog! Looking forward to putting it all into writing next week!

September Plans for the Blog Revival Project

Wow, it’s been three months since I started the Blog Revival Project. Time sure flies when you’re having fun. It flies when you’re not having fun as well. Generally speaking, it just flies faster the older you get.

The older you get, you also tend to digress more. Sorry about that!September plans

What’s the Blog Revival Project?

In a nutshell, the project involves taking six nearly-dead blogs, with hardly any traffic or sales, and trying to get them back on track. My goal is to get a total of $200 a month from all six blogs put together by December 2016. That would be six months into the project.

I have nearly two decades of experience in web content publishing under my proverbial belt but in the past six years I focused on a single (albeit successful) project where I am in charge of content creation and editing. I discovered that there’s a learning curve attached to getting back to my old position as a jack-of-all-trades blogger.

I’m keeping track of project progress in this blog by posting monthly traffic and revenue reports and blogging about various aspects of the project.

Whew, I think that I’ve filled the nutshell to the brim! If you want to know more you can browse through posts relating to the Blog Revival Project.

Today I want to talk about my plans for September.

I had neglected to do that in time for August and I think that contributed to me feeling a bit overwhelmed during the past few weeks. Time to get the old train back on its track, shovel in some coal and get things chugging away nicely once again.

Time to give my travel blog some TLC!

If remembering other people’s posts happens to be your superpower – and if you’ve bothered reading that post – you probably know that September is going to be dedicated to developing and promoting this blog: TripMemos.com.

Which makes me very happy. This happens to be my favorite blog of the six!

You see, I LOVE traveling. We’ve traveled quite a bit in the past seven years. Our list includes 44 US states, three Canadian provinces, the UK, France, Switzerland and Italy. The list of places we want to visit in the coming decade is even longer!

Our family, exploring the Athabasca Glacier in Canada
Our family, exploring the Athabasca Glacier in Canada

I also dread traveling. My inner neurotic hobbit wants nothing to do with travel. It just wants to dig deeper into its safe burrow and never ever leave the shire.

This constant inner struggle means I tend to put a lot of time and effort into planning our family trips. Researching destinations is something I enjoy doing and have become fairly good at.

I think I have a fairly good grasp of the joys and challenges of traveling and that’s something I can share with people. I get so many people asking me about destinations that we visited. I also put a lot of work into planning our future trips. Why not just blog about that?

Using my own blog – can you beat that?

We’re planning a long road trip next summer. It’s going to take us from California to Alaska and back. While researching routes and options, I already created these three blog posts:

Alaska Bucket List: 13 destinations you must visit (Including a map)

What to see and do along the Alaska Highway

What to do and see along the Stewart-Cassiar Highway Route To Alaska

This week it suddenly dawned on me that it’s time to start booking motels for August 2017. Alaska is very expensive and by booking a year in advance you can get more affordable accommodation. Browsing through hotel booking sites I realized some places were filling up as soon as they opened for registration. Panic ensued!

How do I put together an itinerary fast enough to start booking? At the very least, I needed to create an itinerary for August which would cover the first leg of our road trip, up the Stewart-Cassiar Highway.

Fortunately, there’s this really awesome blog that covers just that. It’s called TripMemos.com and has this oh-so-practical post about What to do and see along the Stewart-Cassiar Highway Route To Alaska.

stewart-cassiar-highway

And since I happened to be the one who wrote that post – insert smug smile here – I knew I could trust the content! Whew! I went back to that post and used it to quickly create our itinerary for August. I then moved ahead to booking the hotels.

The TripMemos Travel blog: September Action Plan

So, what will I be doing to improve TripMemos in September?

As you may (or may not) recall, I have previously made a list of possible action items for blog promotion. When focusing on a specific blog for a month, I go over that list and decide which items to implement.

At least, that was the original plan.

Three months into this project, I have a better sense of what works and what not so much. More on that in future posts but for now, let’s just say that while I have moved forward with some item s across the blogs, I also know that I’m not going to rush into implementing others.

All in all, here’s my task list for Trip Memos this month –

1. Write at least 8 quality blog posts

I want to create a good balance of destination guides based on our own experience and posts exploring potential destinations that we want to travel to.

2. Focus on Pinterest as the main social media promotion channel

I have already set up a Pinterest channel for the blog. I need to figure out the best strategies to promote this channel, as well as ways to join travel group boards.

3. Look for niche-specific forums for travel bloggers (not travelers)

There are many great travel bloggers out there. I want to connect with them to learn more about what they do and how they promote and monetize their blogs.

4. Continue to comment on travel blogs (as I have been doing for the past 3 months)

This one is easy. I read a lot of travel blogs, sometimes as part of my research when writing a post. Leaving a comment is common courtesy.

5. Set up a magnet lead for the mailing list.

I have already bought the Thrive Leads plug-in. I’m going tolook into installing it on this blog too. My expectations aren’t very high though. In fact, I may even just forego installing the plug-in and just use Mailchimp’s solutions for setting up the magnet lead. Either way, I need to figure out what I’m going to put in the magnet lead first…

So much for the travel blog.

I also have five other blogs in the Blog Revival Project.

And remember, I have my flagship site to run as well (which in fact is where most of my work time gets sucked into).

It’s ok though. No panic. And no more animated GIF’s in this post either. I promise!

For the other five project blog, the plan consists of –

1. Posting 4-6 posts in September in each blog.

2. Promoting each post by commenting on blogs that offer commentluv links.

An aside: I’m going to blog about commentluv. If you’re not familiar with it, it’s a WordPress plugin that allows blog commenters to get one extra link back to their latest blog post (in addition to the link to their blog). Give it a try by commenting on this post.

Voila, there you have it.

It’s going to be another intensive month with a total of 30-40 posts in the blog revival project. If that sounds like a lot, keep in mind that I wrote no fewer than 54 posts in July (we’ll see what the count for August ends up being like).

Time to flex and crack my fingers!

What are your plans for September? How are you coming along with your own projects? Let me know by leaving a comment!

Blogging towards your early retirement

I’m back! Last week I blogged about almost reaching burnout and how I am deliberately losing steam. Still decompressing here but I am still blogging and pushing forward on my online projects. Just at a slower pace.

I also mentioned how one of the things that kept me busy from blogging was investing. Or rather, learning about investing and more specifically real estate investing. I said I will be blogging about that as well, so here goes!

This post won’t be about real estate investing per se. I want to set out the general framework and explain why we even invest. I think younger bloggers can benefit from these guidelines.

Thinking Ahead – What’s Your Financial Plan?

If you’re a blogger who reads blogs about blogging (tongue twister!) I assume you’re in this to generate a solid stream of revenue. But what’s your long-term plan? Do you want to reach a certain level of revenue and then just stick to that for a couple of years? Five years? A decade? Forever?

Making money by publishing content online is fun. I’ve been running my own online business for almost 20 years now. Blogging, or web publishing as we used to call it back at the day, is a fun way to make a living. You’re your own boss, working from home in casual wear and on your own terms. It’s easy to forget that this is actually a kind of a job. Yes, it’s your own business and you’re self-employed but in the end you are trading in time for money. If you were to stop right now – by choice or not – your revenue stream will dwindle and eventually disappear.

It may feel like blogging can continue forever, but if you’re counting on anything that requires your time to pay your bills, you have to start thinking about your exit plan. In other words, about your retirement.

What’s a retired blogger?

Why should you ever quit blogging?

I’m not saying you should. I honestly don’t plan to do that myself either. I’ll be more than happy to keep blogging to the grave. And may that day be in many many happy and fulfilled decades of blogging to come!

Happily blogging to the grave!

 

 

 

I’ll be happy to keep blogging as a centenarian! Arthritis and cataract providing, of course.

I just prefer not to have to. I want to get to the point where I only work if I absolutely want to.

For this to happen, I need to get someone – or something – else to work for me. That something is going to be my money. I want my money to work hard enough for me so I can choose whether or not I work too.

Your money can work for you and eventually instead of you

Money begets more money. It used to be simple interest rates and these days it’s investments. You don’t have to be a financial wiz to reach a constant average annual growth of 5%. A simple long-term investment in US index funds should achieve that.

Annual returns that get re-invested mean you can achieve exponential growth. The money you invest today is going to be worth a whole lot more in a couple of decades. As you keep adding to your stash every year, your money can eventually make more money than you do by work!

Once saved and invested, your money begins to work. The earlier you start, the more years your money gets to work for you. It becomes exponential growth as you re-invest your money’s “salary” back into your savings so that the new money can start generating money too.

Many financial bloggers have written about this, so I won’t bore you with the numbers.  This post by Mr. Money Mustache provides you with a simple outline of what exponential money growth looks like.

Start early!

You know how they say it’s never too early to start planning for your retirement? I used to think that’s a very boring topic. When you’re in your twenties, the last thing you want to think about is yourself at the age of 65. The very concept simply does not compute.

Retirement traditionally looked like this –

Traditional retirement

Here’s the thing though. With the right kind of planning, your retirement does not have to be that late in life. Early retirement can look more like this –

Early retirement

If you’re a blogger, you’re perfectly positioned for early retirement. Why? Because you are a self-employed entrepreneur. You can work hard now, save and invest and if you do that the right way, there is no reason for you not to reach financial independence at the age of 40. At the very least, you’ll be able to go into semi-retirement. That means you’ll still generate some income but a “part time” gig should be enough.

Are we there yet?

For my own family, I’d say my partner and I are semi-retired. He is 46 years old and I’m 44. We both still work but we do that in a “Mr. Mustache” kind of way, having left the rat race many moons ago.

We are both self-employed and do what we want to do. We travel. A lot. And we raise our family and enjoy working just as many hours as we choose to. It can be 60 hours one week or it can be five months of zero work, on a long road trip.

In many ways, we have already retired. In other ways, we have not. Making this a semi-retirement phase.

Our egg nest is working and generating more money for us every year. That sum is still not large enough for us to quit working and still enjoy the lifestyle we want to have. We could stop working right now and manage on what we have but that would mean switching to a very frugal lifestyle, including very little traveling. Since we both enjoy what we do anyway and we live a semi-retired lifestyle, we see no reason to stop working at this point.

So, what’s this about the real estate investment? It’s something we’re looking into these days, as a way to diversify our investments. And that’s a topic for an entirely separate blog post, so stay tuned!

How about you?

Do you have a plan set for early retirement or have you not thought about this just yet? Or maybe you’re on your way there already?

I’d love to hear more in the comments!

Mid-August Report: Losing Steam To Avoid Burnout

If you’ve been following the Blog Revival Project you know that my strategy basically looks like this –

  1. Post on the six project blogs.
  2. Regularly promote via social media, blog comments etc.
  3. Focus on one blog each month and push that blog forward.

By “push forward”, I mean invest time (and funds, as may be necessary) to improve on infrastructure. This could mean setting up social media accounts, creating a lead magnet for the mailing list or improving the way the blog looks.

July was dedicated to working on blog #1 and things went according to plan. I worked hard on implementing all of the planned action items during July and the monthly report showed a nice increase in traffic and revenue.

By “working hard” I also mean posting a total of 54 blog posts in the six Blog Revival Project blogs. Keep in mind that this project is not my core business. I also manage a fairly large website in a different niche which gets well over a million unique monthly visitors. I kept churning out quality content for that site as well. If that’s not enough, I also have one more online project that’s not covered in this blog.

All in all, I wrote more than 80 pieces of content in July. Then I promoted them. I also did infrastructure work on blog #1, remember? And let’s not forget life itself. You know, living with a loving partner, two wonderful kids and now a cat too (yes, we adopted a cat!)

Losing steam… to avoid burnout

One of the challenges of the Blog Revival Project was burnout. When I started the project in June, I found myself working for 70+ hours a week. I knew this would be hard to keep up with for the long run but I was having too much fun to stop.

I am fully aware of the danger of burnout.

It has happened to me before. Almost twenty years ago while working on my very first web publishing project, I reached the burnout point. It was nasty. From working on my project around the clock I moved to the point of not being able to take another single look at it. It took me months to recover.

I don’t want this to happen again. Ever. So, this time I kept looking for the telltale signs of burnout approaching. I could see them early this month. Too many tasks, too little time, too much pressure. Working is no longer fun. Not good.

Burnout

Instead of reaching burnout I decided to lose steam. Deliberately.

Losing steam isn’t the same as burning out.

Losing steam means slowing down.

I believe the metaphor originally relates to locomotives – losing steam means the train slows down. However, in this case, I like to think of it more in terms of a pressure cooker.

Losing steam to avoid burnoutThe higher the temperature the more effective your cooking. The problem? If you cook for too long at too high a temperature, your pressure cooker could explode. You have to deliberately (and carefully!) use the safety valve to lost some of the steam and depressurize the cooker.

Losing steam and slowing down is crucial in the long run.

Which is what I’ve been doing in the past two weeks.

I’m still working. Have worked almost every day this month but for fewer hours. I prioritized my tasks and focused on my flagship site.

I also –

  • Traveled with my husband and kids to watch the meteor shower in the desert
  • Spent time with extended family
  • Worked on our investment portfolio (which I may blog about at some point)
  • Helped our new cat adjust to his new home
  • Prepared our travel plans for 2017

Time to regroup

This post is the fifth content item that I’m writing today. Playing catch up with all of the blogs isn’t easy! They now all have fresh content, I’m happy to say.

Whew!

Now it’s time to regroup and plan ahead. Time to gradually pick up steam again.

Back when I started the Blog Revival Project I had wondered if maybe I’m biting more than I can chew. The jury is still out on that question.

Maybe six blogs is too much for a “side gig”. Should I cut down to three blogs? Or perhaps slow down the pace but keep all six blogs going?

For now, I’m going with the second option, keeping all six blogs in the project but slowing down the pace of posting to once a week. If and when I find that I have the time and inclination to push the publication schedule back to two posts a week, I will.

My plan for picking up steam looks like this –

  1. Fill up on fresh posts on all blogs (done today).
  2. Re-adjust content plans on all blogs for one post per week.
  3. Schedule posts in advance for one week ahead – one per blog.
  4. Add a second blog post for the same week on some of the blogs.
  5. Still have time? Find a blog to focus on and give it the TLC treatment.

That’s it for now. No deadlines either. It’ll happen when it happens. It’s summertime and I’m trying to relax!

Summertime relaxation

As  always, I’d love to get your feedback! Have you ever reached burnout? How do you regulate your work flow to avoid that?

Hyphenated domains: Are they a total waste of money?

I just bought a domain name on Godaddy for a new project. I really love that phase of a project. Searching for a good domain always feels like a treasure hunt. And yes, you sometimes still do find treasures out there. But not often. Which calls for some tough decisions, such as whether or not to go with hyphenated domains.

hyphenated domains

It’s 2016 and keyword.com domains have been taken literally decades ago. Some of the owners actually develop their domains. Others just squat over them, charging exuberant sums from any interested party. Not really an option when all you want to do is start a new blog on something you’re interested in.

So, we’re talking about domains with at least two words in them.

Anything with “blog” as the second word is taken. Duh!  Most other cool words like “love”, “lover”, “fun”, “central” or “about” are long gone as well. Some are available though and my keyword (a type of pet) was available in several fairly tolerable combinations.

Why even consider hyphenated domains then?

Some combinations just don’t work well without a hyphen. Everyone knows that famous example Matt Cutts used, right? How Experts-Exchange has to be hyphenated or people will read it as Expert-Sex-Change. Ha, ha.

Does that mean Matt Cutts ever recommended hyphens in domain names? Not that I’m aware of. That video is all about URL structure and how Google reads words. The message was that hyphens are used as separators of words while underscores are not. Hardly relevant to domain names.

Some SEO experts claim that whether a domain is hyphenated or not should not really matter. Hmmm, I can see how in theory that could be the case. After all, why would anyone be penalized for a hyphen if everything else is ok. I am guessing that’s the case.

That said, how many popular websites do you know with hyphens in their domain names? I can’t really think of any, to be honest. The ones that have words like “blog” or “forums” in their domain name, for example, seem to avoid hyphens and do well without them.

Hyphenated domains used to be relevant

I still remember the time when hyphenated domain names were hugely popular. Back then, in the early Jurassic era, people used extreme SEO tactics to create and promote what was basically MFA (Made for Adsense with some Amazon thrown in that A for good measure 😉 ). I know because I had such sites myself. There was a time when this was a viable and productive way to make money online. I promise you, a decade ago nobody considered this spam or blackhat SEO. It used to be a legitimate way to optimize your blog or website for the search engines.

Then the bad guys took over and spammed Google like crazy with sites that had shitty content. And by shitty (pardon my French) I mean either illegal scraper sites or sites that can barely be considered to be in English – those produced by word jumbling algorithms. The first type (scrapers) are illegal. The second type should be.

Using software to mass produce these junk sites means their producers couldn’t care less about what their domain name sounds like to surfers. In an effort to SEO to the extreme, they used domain names that had 2, 3 or even 4 keywords. These were almost always hyphenated. Why? I’m not sure. Maybe the hyphenated ones were easy to find (so why waste time searching for non-hyphenated ones) or maybe they thought this was in fact better SEO.

The bottom line is: hyphenated domain names have become a trademark of junk websites. And if I can see that as a surfer, I am pretty sure Google sees it as well. After all, the whole point about the Google algorithm is that it tries to be as intelligent as a human being using the web.

So, are hyphenated domains always a bad idea?

Well, I will say that. I have very mature domain names that I use which are hyphenated and as far as I can tell they’re doing well on Google. You could say this proves that hyphens don’t matter but I suspect Google realizes that old websites – well over a decade old – were created in a different environment. Or it could be that they are mature enough for Google to realize they’re good sites despite the initial flag the hyphens may have raised. I still think a new website that starts out with hyphenated words could suffer.

Which is why – after some deliberation – I decided to go with a non-hyphenated domain name. I finally found the combination that works for me and will start working on the new project today (WordPress files being uploaded as I’m typing this!) Now, all I need to do is start working on some top notch content and hope for the best!

Should I buy a website through Flippa

I’ve been a webmistress for more than 16 years now. The sites I bought were few and far between. I don’t own any of them anymore. None of them made enough of a profit to register in my memory.

So, why buy a website at all? Good question. I currently have several websites. I enjoy working on them but I my real passion is and always has been starting new projects. It’s my ADHD, I think. I don’t do well with repetitive work and though I develop my sites with new internal projects (I love those!) I always have new sites at the back of my mind.

I am not doing this for the money. Yes, I make money through web publishing but for me it’s never been about the money per se. My motivation comes in part from wanting to share my thoughts and ideas with the world and making a difference and in part from enjoying the game.

So, where were we? Yes, new websites. Well, my preferred and usual method of operation is to start a new website (case in point, this is the first post in a new blog). I am not a typical “domain hunter” but I enjoy searching for domain names on Godaddy every now and again. It’s also good to get some practice in site publishing, some HTML, CSS, PHP-hacking or just installing WordPress. It’s good to get one’s hands into the mud every once in awhile 😉

That said, a brand new website can take a long while to take off. I don’t play dirty where it comes to site promotion. No buying links (and no selling them either, by the way). I’m not too crazy about social media promotion either. I’ve had mixed results with Facebook, Twitter and Pinterest and at this point, I keep SM promotion to a minimum and reserve it to my larger more active websites. I don’t feel it’s a good suit for a new website.

The bottom line is, websites grow like snowballs. They start small and grow in increments. As they grow, the increments of growth grow along with them. It can be a long and frustrating period at first, when your traffic is growing by single digits a week…

So, I’m thinking this in itself is a good reason to buy a young – yet somewhat established – website. If I could find a webmaster who shares my way of thinking and working and if that person is simply a year into a similar project, on a topic I’m interested in, well… in that case, I’ll be happy to pay the realistic worth of said website. If they want to sell, that is.

Which brings me to Flippa. As I said, I’ve not a heavy-player where it comes to domain or website markets. I’ve been eyeing listings on Flippa for some time now and I even placed a few bids here and there. My passion wasn’t in them and I never won. That’s probably a good thing.

I’ve been reading today about buying websites on Flippa and apparently, scams abound. Now, mind, I am not after the “too good to be true” sites that are sold for X2 their alleged monthly revenue. I am too old and wise to fall for such obvious traps, thank you very much. My problem is, I have no idea of knowing whether the ones selling websites for a reasonable X12-X24 the monthly revenues aren’t just blowing up numbers to make even more off a scam. In which case, being scammed out of $12K is going to be so much more painful than being scammed out of$500, right?

Well, as I said, fortunately, I haven’t been tempted by any offer to the point of bidding in the $XXX range. Still checking there on a weekly basis though. In the meanwhile, I’ve been doing some reading and so I want to use this page/post as my bookmark with synopsis. I hope it can help others as well. I found tons of blog posts explaining how Flippa works and providing advice such as “create an account” and a walkthrough. Not too interesting. These three posts however did have some merit in them, for me at least –

How I Lost $650 Buying A Website On Flippa And How You Can Avoid It

In a nutshell : Dave Schneider from Ninja Outreach shares his experience of buying a website that “sells” social media followers. The seller included his “marketing strategies” yet Dave had zero success implementing them. The site tanked despite a lot of effort and some investment.  There are other insights from Dave and it’s an excellent blog post so I highly recommend reading it, especially if this a kind of website you consider buying (it’s not for me).

My take from this: Never agree to take a deal off Flippa. At the very least keep the ability to report a deal and/or leave feedback on a seller.

Website due diligence: How to avoid scams on Flippa?

In a nutshell: Blogger Jasom Dotnet shares the story of a website his company bought via Flippa. Within a day of Google Analytics data it was clear the traffic stated on the sale was 100% generated by bots. Bad bad scammers! Jasom offers a detailed report of everything that was suspicious, both in GA and in other aspects. He seems to know what he’s talking about and offers a service that evaluates sites for potential scams. It’s an interesting post and worth reading. Even if you don’t hire his services, there’s a lot of information you can get from the post itself.

My take from this: You can dispute a site sell within 72 hours and Flippa will get refund your money.

Flippa.com – Buying and Selling Websites/Domains

In a nutshell: Eric Borgos providing an overview of his experience with Flippa following more than 100 transactions. It’s an interesting “bird’s eye view” report with less drama and a down-to-earth approach. He’s managed to avoid scams but he does mention that once he took over, almost all of the sites were making half as much as they professed to have been making in the sale description.

My take from this: If you buy, keep your expectations low. The sellers may not be spammers, just overly “optimistic”.