100th Blog Post : My Blogging Journey so far
Today I reached the milestone of my 100th blog post after almost two years of blogging. Here’s the story of ‘The Blogging Musician’ so far…
I’ve loved every minute of blogging, it’s allowed me to tap into something I hadn’t explored and exercised since school: The gift of expression through the English language. For most of my adult life I’ve concentrated on other forms, mainly musical, but that comes with a filter, a barrier which constrains and frustrates. With writing there is no barrier. It’s a truly direct, efficient path from the mind and heart to the page.
I joined HubPages around mid-2015, not having much of a goal at the time. I just wanted to write guitar reviews at first, to document gear I’ve owned and to get involved in the community. My very first article Epiphone ES335 PRO Review is still my most successful post. To be honest I’d always struggled with writing music, it was becoming more and more of a chore, so when I first put ‘pen to paper’ as it were, I was surprised how easy and natural it was. 1000 word articles were an evenings work if that. Had I finally found something I actually had a talent for? It wasn’t for me to judge.
HubPages seemed like the ideal entry point, it already had a thriving community of writers. You had to adhere to strict guidelines on content, quality and formatting, even having to go through an initial ‘Boot camp’ phase. I got a great deal of satisfaction in passing this and getting my first article published. I was out there in the big wide world.
HubPages had issues though, sometimes the content guidelines were stifling, forcing you into formatting an article the way Hubpages, rather than you the writer, wanted. The community was a stuffy and vocal one, mostly experienced writers and bloggers that had been around for years, more stifling still. These aspects were brought into focus when I decided to chronicle a memorable holiday to Goa. It just didn’t fit in with the HubPages template. I had no product to sell or information to share, it was just a deeply personal travel blog about my own experiences, inside and out, and the community didn’t get it.
I pressed on with HubPages for a while though, even getting my articles featured on their new, disastrously named ‘niche’ sites Spinditty.com and Wanderwisdom.com. At the time it seemed that Hubpages and content farms in general were a dying breed, and this was their last gasp, knee-jerk attempt to save themselves. Anyone that didn’t make it onto the niche sites was a goner.
In its defense, HubPages made it easy to start out and to generate revenue through its Ad Program and Google AdSense. It set me on the road, and through its community gave me insight on the world of blogging.
At the time I had around 30 articles and 300 HubPages followers.
In May 2016 I took the plunge. Sacrificing revenue and the safety-net of an established SEO savvy site (with a close-knit community), for the freedom of my own blog on WordPress. Now I had a purpose. I wanted a central ‘hub’ to publish my music and music related articles on the Guitar, Songwriting and Music Production. More than that though, I could now continue with Goa : A Lesson In Life unhindered. This became a labor of love, writing purely from memory, capturing all those fading thoughts and feelings forever, filing them away, cleansing the mind.
It was the free WordPress package, so with monetisation not being an option I focussed on the layout of my site whilst building up my social networks and WordPress followers. New content came easy from a variety of angles.. .My own Music, Guitar Reviews, Songwriting and Music Production articles, as well as other Travel Blogs and articles on blogging itself. I was brimming with ideas, but perhaps a little unfocussed. I began to take a cold, clinical look into critiquing my site and building brand and revenue streams. In my research it became clear that moving to a self-hosted site was the only way forward, as I would have full control of content, access to a wider range of plugins, and could choose whichever monetisation options I wished. I also could never be closed down without warning. Up to this point was just a warm-up. I was about to enter the world of serious blogging.
The move to a self-hosted WordPress site came in December 2016. All in all, hosting + WordPress redirect fees came to the lion’s share of £100 (and a huge shot in the dark). From that point on though, everything came together. Early on I established my revenue streams. Google AdSense, music sales through a variety of channels, Amazon Associate links, and what would turn out to be the most lucrative of all, the release of Goa : A Lesson in Life in eBook and paperback (and later, audiobook) format. Amazon KDP (Kindle Direct Publishing) made this ridiculously easy. Goa : A Lesson In Life sold surprisingly well, giving me the confidence I needed to pursue my new passion.
I sought and received feedback from a variety of sources and made changes based on suggestions, Iooking to other successful sites for inspiration. What I was missing was a focus on site branding and identity. It was difficult to marry up such diverse topics such as music, writing, blogging and travel, so I settled on the tagline “The Blogging Musician” which encapsulated everything the site was about: A valuable, open resource for musicians and writers alike.
Being on a self-hosted account also meant I could get my hands dirty with site caching and applying various measures to increase my sites performance ranking using Google’s testmysite tool. I even wrote a blog about it…..
Guest blogging was the next step. I wanted like-minded writers and musicians to contribute, to move the site away from a personal blog and more like the community I had envisioned . The response was really encouraging, boosting traffic, increasing revenue, and gaining me valuable connections for future collaborations.
Lastly I added two more traffic generators. I resurrected my old ReverbNation account and started up a fun series of live acoustic performances on my YouTube channel entitled Acoustic Corner. This, much like Goa : A Lesson In Life became an easy and direct way of communicating to an audience and creating rapid content. I just tuned up and pressed record. Again, I was hindered only by my imagination and the videos were mostly done quickly, in one take. This also provided a great way to try out new songs and to dig out a few long forgotten oldies with hardly any effort at all.
I’m at well over 1000 WordPress followers now, with more traffic than ever and still on the rise. It’s only my first 4 months of running a fully monetised blog, but it’s already on course to at least cover its costs.
The Blogging Musician would be nothing without its readers. If it wasn’t for you I’d have given up a year ago, but I chose to go on and invest because YOU made the business model viable by visiting, reading and supporting the site and it’s contributors (take a bow):
Hopefully the hard work’s now over and I can concentrate on the content of the next 100 posts to make The Blogging Musician an even more useful and popular resource. We’d love you to get involved, so please submit your posts here.