I’ve seen bloggers in a few different industries running features like this, and I’ve always found it interesting to see what goes on behind the scenes and hear about what they’re doing to grow their bogs.
You can get some really good incites into what’s working and what isn’t, get great ideas for strategies and tips for things you hadn’t thought about at all. There’s always something to learn!
So, with that in mind, this month I’m launching the monthly growth report!
It’s my sincere hope that these reports will help other people getting started, just like others have helped me. So follow along with the journey and let’s see how this all pans out.
These reports will follow a standard layout each month, so you always know what to expect.
First I’ll talk about what I’ve been doing this month – both on and off the blog. Anything connected to growing the site will be laid out nice and simple for everyone to see. I’ll also fill you in a bit on what I’ve been up to in the real world whenever I haven’t been glued to the laptop and where I’ve been – you know, since this is a travel blog and all 😉
Finally we’ll also take a look at traffic to the site and what’s actually come of all that work I’ve been putting in.
They’re also going to be brutally honest and open accounts of what I’ve been doing each month. Everything will be laid out for you all to see. No coverups, no excuses, no BS. Hopefully it’ll give you all a opportunity to ask any questions you might have and give you a chance to see the results for yourselves.
OK, let’s get into it…
First off, a confession.
This first monthly report is actually a bit of a lie. I know, I know, we’re not off to a good start here are we? But hear me out…
Truth be told I actually started working on this blog around the middle of April. So this is technically a “month and a half” report. To get us started I’m going to combine those first 6 or 7 weeks into one report, then we’ll go monthly from here on out.
So this month you’re actually getting a bit of a two for one deal! Jeez…I spoil you guys, don’t I?
Preparing For Launch
Up until this point, most of the work I’ve been doing on the blog has been getting it ready for launch.
Namely, that means getting some content on there, and I’ve spent the bulk of my time on content creation.
So far I’ve published 6 posts.
There was my roundup of the best hikes on New Zealands south island, as well as my top 9 things to know when you’re planning a trip to New Zealand and my belated happy birthday to the Department of Conservation.
On the travel blogging front, I also talked about the most common mistakes every new travel blogger makes.
Then there was a couple of big posts, like my 4,000 word guide on all the ways you can make money with your travel blog and my ultimate guide to freedom camping.
I also setup my 404 page and all of the standard stuff like an about page so you can see who I am and a contact page where you can get in touch.
My monetization strategy, at least initially, is to sell my time and skills as a freelance writer.
That’s why I chose a personal domain name, since I’ll be branding and selling myself.
So this month I spent a lot of time working on my home page and my services pages and thinking about how they will work to funnel potential new clients into making contact.
I’m pretty happy with where I’m at with that at the moment, but there’s definitely still a lot of work to be done in terms of integrating that across the rest of the blog.
Improving Site Functionality
A couple of weeks ago, I noticed that the blog had really started to slow down. Pageload times were starting to get out of hand, and I knew I had to nip it in the bud and get some best practices in place to keep load times down as the site continues to grow.
Nothing puts a new reader off more than a page taking ages to load. Slow page speeds are a huge contributor to higher bounce rates and a sure fire way to annoy people.
I’ve now made a heap of improvements using a whole load of different techniques and best practices such as image optimisation, leveraging caching and minifying various files and resources.
I’ve managed to slash pageload times down drastically, and I’m really happy with current test results.
As the site grows I’ll need to look into further improvements such as faster dedicated hosting and/or Content Delivery Networks to make sure load times stay low.
While I was in “techy-Matt mode” I also got to grips with site security, implementing a number of measures to strengthen the security and integrity of the site.
I’ve seen hacking cause major problems for even very small sites like this one. And there’s no way I want to be on the receiving end of that, spending days on end trying to fix up the mess. Prevention is always easier than the cure!
If you’re new to this whole blogging thing, then don’t panic. This isn’t as difficult and scary as it seems.
Here’s some ‘standard reading’ that’ll help you get started:
The Ultimate WordPress Security Guide – Step By Step 2017 via WPBeginner
Beefing Up WordPress Security – A Complete Guide To Secure WordPress Sites via Colorlib
Out In The Real World
I’ve also had a very busy month outside of the blog. About half way through May I finally left New Zealand, after having been based there for most of the last 3 years.
While I loved, and continue to love, New Zealand and all of it’s beautiful sights and great people, it was time to move on to something new. I’ve managed to explore a lot while I was in NZ and I’ve gotten to know the country very well, so you can expect plenty more NZ themed posts and travel tips in the coming months. But for the time being at least, I wont be based over on that side of the world.
So where am I now?
I flew into Guatemala, after a short layover in LA to be reunited with my partner Jess, and together we plan to spend the coming few months exploring Central America. And hopefully picking up a word or two of Spanish along the way, although the jury is still out whether even “a word or two” is a realistic target.
I guess we’ll see in next months growth report!
So with getting the site up and running, creating the necessary pages and structure, and the posts I’ve been steadily publishing to get the blog ready, and the packing up of my New Zealand life and the preparing for Central America, well…it’s been a busy month or so.
Next month, I’m hoping to have a little more time on my hands to work on the blog. I figure now that I’ve sorted all of my New Zealand stuff out that should free up a good chunk of my time.
So in June, I’ll be drilling down on my content creation efforts. I’m aiming to produce 2 new articles a week for the blog. Towards the end of the month, I’m also going to start doing some outreach to other blogs and travel sites to find some guest blogging opportunities to start getting my name out there.
In addition to that, I’ll be doing some basic link outreach for some of the more ‘linkable’ posts I’ve written so far, such as my Ultimate Guide To Freedom Camping and the 5 Best Hikes On The South Island posts, as well starting to get involved in forum chats and social media discussions wherever I can help and add value (more on this another time).
Well, there’s not much to see here this month!
Next month, I’ll get into traffic levels in more detail and we can look at popular traffic sources and analyse the most popular content. For now though, here’s a screenshot taken from my Google Analytics to show the spread of visitor numbers over the last month:
No real surprises there since I’ve done absolutely zero content promotion thus far.
I’m hoping that now I have the site up and running, I’ll be able to start putting some more time into content promotion towards the end of June, and hopefully we’ll start to see some traffic improvements from there on.
Want to see if my hard work pays off? Sign up below to get an email notification of next months growth report the second it comes out:
This number is the one that really matters.
Every subscriber is a vote of approval for the blog and the content I’m working hard to create. And it’s awesome to have every single one of you onboard for the journey.
There are now a total of 557 subscribers across the various different platforms, and that breaks down like this:
If you’re enjoying what you’re reading and you haven’t already done so, then please do follow along by signing up to my email list and/or following me on social media.
In the coming months I need to look at spreading my efforts out over some more social platforms such as Instagram, Facebook and Pinterest. More to come on that soon.
Wrapping It Up
It’s been a good first month for the blog and I feel like I’ve got a lot done which will stand me in good stead going forward.
Hopefully I can start to focus some time on promotion next month and with a bit of luck we should start seeing traffic levels increasing.
If you’re enjoying what you’re reading then please, please help me out by taking 30 seconds to share it. Share it on social media, post a link in a forum, a comment or just email it to a mate who might find it useful.
And if there’s anything else you want to see included in next months growth report, you can let me know in the comments below.
This is the 2nd monthly post in the Growth Reports series. Take a peak behind the scenes and what I’ve done to grow subscribers by 54% month on month.
This is the 1st in a monthly Traffic, Growth & Travel Update series as part of the Travel Blogging Experiment, where I lay out step by step what I’ve been ...
This is the 3rd monthly post in the Growth Report series. This month saw me blogging my way through 2 countries. Find out what I’ve been doing and how the blog ...