March Notes

I don’t know if I’m alone, but I felt like March was such a long and busy month. The blog kept me extremely busy. Even with spring break, I felt like there was not a lot of time for a breather. If I wasn’t working on blog posts, I was working on my bullet journal, doing Red Cross training, applying for jobs, or cleaning house if I wasn’t at my part-time job.

I like having a lot to do, but I do think I need to start making more time for myself so that I don’t feel so drained by time the weekend rolls around. I think April will be a lot less stressful, even if it’s not less busy. I have all my bullet journal’s weekly spreads set up for the month and I know what I’ll need to do for Red Cross work.

I feel like I was doing a lot of soul-searching in January and February, trying to figure out what I wanted out life and this blog. Now I feel like I know what I want to work towards. I feel less frantic and more focused.

Bookish

Bullet Journaling

Blog Tags / Awards

Blogging / Life

  • Disrupt You! by Jay Samit | I read the bulk of this book on the road during spring break. I’m really shocked I was able to read it, because I’ve not been able to read in a moving car without getting a headache since I was a child. Anyway, this book was all over the place. The author jumps back and forth with examples from his life and other famous entrepreneurs to exemplify how different parts of value chains (e.g. production, distribution, etc.) were disrupted to the profit of the disruptor. I did not feel like I got what I was hoping out of this book (i.e. specific self-help advice), but it was a fascinating read at times.
  • Akata Warrior by Nnedi Okorafor | After completing my Spring TBR, I decided my next read would be Akata Warrior. I haven’t finished the book, but I am enjoying it thus far. It had a really useful recap of the past book, so I was able to jump right back into the story without missing a beat.

Last month I shared my blog stats for the month of February. I wasn’t sure if I would continue to do so in this specific format, but I decided it was a still a good fit. It makes sense right now while my stats are still not that impressive or complex. If I ever have a remarkable month, I will dedicate an entire post to blog stats.

March was a record-breaking month for The Inky Saga. The blog grew from 288 to 363 blog followers, a net gain of 75 followers. And for the first time since last September, my blog reached 1,000 blog views! There were also 604 visitors, 383 likes, and 130 comments. I think it was the first time I reached 100 blog views in just one day. For posting just fourteen blog posts, I don’t think that’s too shabby!

September 2018 was my last really good blog month, but I did not keep up with blogging after that. I’m really optimistic that the blog could see significant growth over the rest of the year if I keep blogging, blog hopping, and promoting my blog via Pinterest, Instagram, and Twitter. It’ll be really excited to see if my efforts pay off over time.

My two most popular blog posts this month were How to Avoid Blogger Burnout + New Blog Schedule (45 Likes) and The Wanderlust Tag | Blog Tag (38 Likes). They are also two of my most recent posts, but the next most successful posts are other tags/community memes. My personal favorite was probably my Leslie Knope TBR.

Moving into April, my blog strategy will be to publish least one evergreen post (e.g. how-to or advice) and one community post each week and then something extra, like a book review, job search update, or a compilation post. I will also try to stay on my schedule and get a lot done well in advance. I also want to start up my YouTube account for content I don’t want to write and post regularly on Instagram.

Sunday morning I sat down with my April bujo planner and started jotting down blog post ideas. I looked at the Top Ten Tuesday and Top 5 Tuesday prompts and picked out a few I was interested in, thought about the books I would like to read and review, and re-listed some of the blog posts ideas I’ve had in mind for a while. I’m actually thinking I may pick a few days I can spare this week and front load a lot of the work for the more time-demanding blog posts.

I’m not exactly sure yet what will be up on the blog this week. I know what I’d like to post, but realize I may not have time to finish anything I don’t manage to start this weekend. I don’t want to have anymore publishing mishaps in April, so I’m not scheduling anything that’s not complete!

How was your March?

What was your favorite blog post this month (mine or yours)? ^_^

Thank you for reading!
Follow my blog via Bloglovin’. Also find me on Twitter and Instagram.

5 Things I Did to Grow My Pinterest Blog Traffic

In February by complete chance I stumbled across a Skillshare video by Jules Tillman called “How to Make Money with Etsy Without “Making” Anything!” In this short course, she details how she makes a small commission on sale over time by including affiliate links in blog posts to Etsy products she likes. This fee comes out of Etsy’s marketing funds and not the sellers, so it sounded like a really cool way to help small businesses and make a little extra money for yourself.

SEE: Learn About Starting a Side Hustle on Skillshare

I’ve long known that Pinterest could help build blog traffic, but I was never too fussy about numbers and didn’t understand see how it was useful. I knew Pinterest as a place to bookmark things I liked, and I mostly used it for writing inspiration. I never thought of Pinterest as a search engine, which is how I became interested in learning to harness its power to increase my blog traffic so that I could hopefully begin to monetize my blog.

There are a lot of pins with tips for how to become good at Pinterest (I even have a board dedicated to pinning strategy.). A lot of these pins lead to posts where the authors are hoping you are enticed to try out a product/service they recommend or buy their online course. However, one thing that has always been clear to me is that there are a lot of things you can do to start building your Pinterest audience before you ever need to spend a cent.

In this post I will share everything I’ve learned about how to increase my monthly Pinterest viewers and engagement. This post also serves as my recommended step-by-step guide for newbies who don’t know where to begin, including what I suggest you can worry about later.

1. SET UP A BUSINESS ACCOUNT LINKED TO YOUR BLOG

I have had always had a regular Pinterest account where my pins related to any topic of interest under the sun. One of the first things Jules Tillman recommends is setting up a business account and verifying your blog/website so that you have access to statistics on what pins performed well.

It is very simple to set up and I do find the stats are very interesting to look every couple of days to see in hindsight how my activity has influenced my traffic.

2. FILL OUT YOUR PROFILE, UTILIZING KEYWORDS

You should add a picture of yourself so that people know who they are following. You should also make sure to write a bio that includes the keywords that are associated with your boards and your blog, so that you optimize the possibility that search engines show your boards and pins to people searching for content that you create first.

I’ve also included a few keywords in my display name like users I emulate in order to help with further SEO.

If you aren’t sure what your keywords should be, you definitely want to take some time to give them some serious thought. Think about your blog and what kind of content you already make or plan to create. If you’re still having trouble, think about this question: what do you imagine people would google in order to find your blog posts?

3. CREATE PINTEREST BOARDS AROUND YOUR KEYWORDS

Your Pinterest boards should be broad topics related to your blog content so that you have a ready-made place to share pins to your own blog posts. For example, if you write book reviews or reading lists, then you should create boards about book recommendations where you pin posts similar to your own.

You should do your best to keep your boards pretty general because if they become too niched, then you may run out of original pins to share. It is essential that you are always able to find pins for your boards.

PRO TIP: Don’t have any inactive boards. I’ve also read that keeping boards private is not enough. If there are any boards you don’t actively add to, but want to keep because you want to be able to find those pins, archive them.

4. PIN EVERYDAY, SEVERAL TIMES A DAY

This tip may be tough to follow. Many Pinterest experts will recommend you use Tailwind to schedule pins in advance so that you don’t need to pin every day, but it’s not free. After you’ve gone through your free-trial (100 scheduled pins) you’ll have to pay $10 a month. If you’re only just starting to try to make money from your blog, the expense may not yet be worth it.

Personally I decided that I wanted to see if pinning consistently throughout the day actually resulted in more traffic. Long story short: it does! Your Pinterest foot traffic will explode if you are pinning manually whenever you have time.

On the daily, I try to pin at least seven times a day. First thing in the morning, mid-morning, before lunch, after lunch, when I’m sitting around at work waiting for the kids in the parking lot, after work, and before bed. Sometimes I’ll pin a bit more if I’m feeling inspired. Other times it’s a struggle to go on three times. It doesn’t always take a long, but sometimes it’s hard to think of things to search for if Pinterest isn’t showing you anything new or exciting.

– RESULTS & CONCLUSION –

On February 26th (when I first started pinning) I had 495 monthly visitors who saw my pins and 12 people who engaged with them. As of March 9th, I have 16,219 visitors who see my pins and 385 people who are engaging with them. I also know from my WordPress site statistics that over the last 30 days I’ve had three unique visitors visit my blog from Pinterest, and they are from one of the three pins I’ve created with vertical images.

While that may not seem like a lot yet, bare in mind that I’ve not yet dedicated a lot of time to creating pinnable content. By pinnable content, I mean blog posts that I know would be more popular because they are useful (e.g. tutorials, tips/advice, or explainers). My last four posts were a blog update, a book review, a list of beautiful book spines, and my March bujo spread. My focus has been on making pinning a part of daily routine so that I have a built-in audience that I’m confident will see and interact with my future blog posts.

I predict this post will be one of my first to do really well. If it is, I’ll do a follow-up post!

5. DABBLE IN CREATING ORIGINAL PINS

Finally, after you’ve set up your business account and have seen first-hand how your pinning activity correlates to your Pinterest traffic, I recommend you start dabbling in creating your own original pins for the content that you create. Just so I’m clear, I do not mean that you should wait to until this point to start blogging or whatever it is you do. I just think that you have nothing to lose by prioritizing growing your audience on Pinterest so that your future pins are seen by more people. Think of it as research.

There can be a bit of a learning curve in creating those long, vertical Pinterest images with a 2:3 ratio, which is I would recommend saving that joy for last. I’ve had to learn to use Canva’s interface to create my high-quality vertical images. (I previously used PicMonkey in a round-about way, if you know what I mean.) And I’ve had to learn how to format text and images to compose an attractive, eye-catching graphic.

In the past, I would write my blog posts first then create and insert any images or graphics. I’m a big fan of this work flow, because it kept the focus on writing the best posts possible. But for today’s post, the first thing I did was create the graphic because I knew I’d have trouble picking a title and formatting it so it’s readable and attractive.

The Things That Can Wait

I’ve been reading a lot of tips about Pinterest and there are a few things I think that you do not need to do right off the bat if all you’re concerned with at the moment is increasing traffic and not so much on cultivating a big following. Specifically, I’m talking about creating your board covers and branding.

Many people recommend creating covers for your Pinterest boards. This is an opportunity to brand your boards with your blog iconography and imagery. If you don’t really have a “brand” established yet, then the beginning is a fun time to experiment and see what works for you. I know I like navy, grey-blue, rose pink, and dark gold colors, but I don’t yet have a set style guide for my blog so I never use the exact same color codes.

Branding yourself and your blog is really important for people to be able to recognize your name and your work online. While branding itself is a topic outside of the scope of this post, I did want to mention it because I do not think you need to worry about it when you’re just starting out. It won’t hurt you until you’re actively trying to build a following.

I hope you found this post useful! I wrote the post I wish I had seen when I was first starting out with Pinterest. I plan to continue writing posts about what I learn on Pinterest, specifically about gaining followers, useful/sharable content that does well on Pinterest, and a work flow for making attractive Pinterest images that people will love to pin. If any of that sounds good, make sure to stick around!

Immediately #ontheblog you can expect some more bullet journal content! I feel like I’ve been doing it long enough at this point and have a unique enough perspective on the hobby to offer something new, so I may be kicking off a little series very soon.

Thank you for reading!
Follow my blog via Bloglovin’. Also find me on Twitter and Instagram.

February’s Inky Notes

Life Lately

February always seems to fly by, probably because it is the shortest month of the year. Somehow it’s managed to be a time of sadness, annoyance, and optimism. My family lost Apollo this month and I can still scarcely think or talk about him with out my eyes watering up, but it’s getting easier. They’re bittersweet tears for the most part.

I will also remember this month as the one I lost a bunch of money, between my smartphone coming down with the “black screen of death” and discovering I had cavities I needed to fill before I got bumped off my parents’ insurance. Thankfully I had enough money in my bank account to pay off my credit card before my statement period ended. I’m also thankful my tax return came in this month, so my bank account will be back in good shape before long!

I think I will look back on this month as a time when I worked super hard to learn how I might ultimately be able to support myself without the need for a full-time job. I feel like I’m on the cusp of something strange, new, exciting, brilliant, and I don’t want this feeling to fade!

On the Blog

Bookish

Bullet Journalling

Lifestyle

Blogging / Tech

Read But Not Reviewed

  • Their Eyes Were Watching God by Zora Neale Hurston | I decided to pick this book up in honor of Black History Month. The book spans the protagonist’s life from her relatively privileged childhood through becoming a woman and going through her three husbands. It’s a book of self-awakening and ultimate empowerment. At times it’s funny, relatable, and heart-breaking because the protagonist is a dreamer, a woman ahead of her time. I feel like this book very much deserves the distinction of being a classic. I highly recommend it to anyone interested in the life of black women at the turn of the century in the rural South.
  • Disrupt You by Jay Samit | I’m not finished this book, but it’s one I started in December that I still wanted to try to finish. I’m enjoying it right now. I feel like it’s a good time to read this inspirational book as I’m trying to build up my blog.

Blog Stats

I don’t know if I really qualify as a book blogger anymore, but book blogs are still primarily what I read online! One insightful piece I read by Marie @ Drizzle & Hurricane Books this week inspired my decision to start sharing my blog stats. In her post, she so aptly describes the book blogger’s complicated relationship to our blog stats. Almost everyone says they don’t let their stats define them, but I think everyone cares more than they are willing to admit.

Around the time I decided to upgrade my blog to a Premium account (February 17, 2019), I also decided that it was time I start treating my blog like my job. I’ve slowly been branching out what I talk about on this blog, in the hopes of growing my blog and staying true to myself. I feel like a lot of book bloggers out grow this community and I want to be a shining example of what can come next.

I’m monitoring my stats a lot more carefully these days, if only to see what types of blog posts do well and where my views are coming from. I’m a little shy to share these screenshots, because I know I do not have a very “successful” blog. I’ve never really been one to chase trends, blogging only when I had an abundance of time on my hands and when I felt like it. I’m also not super out-going when it comes to making and sustaining blogging friendships.

monthly-trend-feb
Monthly Blog Growth of The Inky Saga

February’s views and visitors clearly correlate with my blogging schedule. I wasn’t very active the first week after I upgraded my blog, so the 18th–25th is very low. Tuesdays are generally my highest performing days if I participate in a bookish meme (e.g. Top Ten Tuesday). I was shocked how many people read my February 26th blog post (Top Five Tuesday: Hogwarts House Reads!). I was actually a little worried if half of them were spam views because after I upgraded my blog I discovered I had a little more random blog followers (i.e. not book bloggers or creative types) and almost half the visitors were from India, which is not normal for me.

daily-feb

The last weekend of February I saw a lot of brand new blog followers, bringing my monthly total from 240 to 288. While it’s nice knowing people are finding my blog content worth following, these new followers are not exactly in my target demographic. Which is to say young, millennial creatives! Like me! But obviously anyone who is truly interested in everything this blog has to offer is welcome here. I figure anyone who’s not can be weeded out with more bookish/lifestyle posts. ^_^

In March I’m hoping to learn more about how to better promote my blog across Instagram, Twitter, and Pinterest. I’ve decided to be ambitious and aim to reach 400 blog followers by March 31st. I’m hoping that comments and likes continue to grow at a parallel pace, comments especially because I love feeling like my blog posts are just a conversation starting point.

If you’re interested in more of my blog stat analysis, I plan to do them each month for the foreseeable future. I may also have some more posts during the month if I feel I have any sort of wisdom to share on the topic.

endnote

I hope you enjoyed this post! It’s been a while since I did a monthly-wrap-up-type of post. I didn’t really know if I wanted to revisit my old format (e.g. May Notes ➴, June Notes ➴, July Notes ➴) or do something more minimalistic. It was a last minute decision to add my blog stats, so I hope that didn’t make this post too much of a slog!

Next up I will likely be sharing my March bujo and goals. I’m also aware I still need to reintroduce the blog for anyone who’s wondering who the heck and I am and how they ended up following me! I feel like I also need to do it for myself, just to have record of my intentions for this blog going forward.

Thank you for reading!
Follow my blog via Bloglovin’. Also find me on Twitter and Instagram.