Darren: Hey there and welcome to episode 261 of the ProBlogger podcast. My name is Darren Rowse, and I’m the blogger behind ProBlogger. A blog, podcast, events, courses, ebooks, and lots more that helps bloggers to start blogs, to grow their blogs, and to build profit around their blogs. You can find more about what we do over at problogger.com.
Now, today, we continue our series of blogger breakthrough episodes, where we’re hearing from listeners of the podcast about how they’ve grown their blogs, particularly focusing upon their breakthrough moments, the things that have helped them to do what I’ve just said, grow their blogs, start their blogs and to build profit around their blogs.
Today’s story is one that I love. It’s from Michele Robson, who has a blog called Turning Left for Less, and the tagline of her blog is Champagne Travel on Prosecco Budget, which will give you the indication of what it’s about. It’s about luxury travel on a budget. It’s something that I think is a great topic, but also the story that Michele tells is really worth listening to as well. I’m sure a lot of people will relate to her story, as well.
After a long career in one particular industry, air traffic control, and a tough time with health, Michele decided to start a blog. She only started less than two years ago, I think it was November 2016, so not long at it, but in that time she’s, despite not really having any experience in blogging, she’s been able to build her blog where she’s now earned enough to survive on the income from her blog, which is a great story. She’s gone from literally having a very few readers to having a significant readership as well, and really doing some amazing things. In her story today, she shares three breakthrough moments that helped her to grow from just a few readers a day to the point that she’s at today.
I’m going to let Michele share her story, but I will come back at the end of her story, and just share a few of the things that I appreciated from what she shared, and give you a little bit more further listening on a couple of things she talks about as well. You can find a link to Michele’s to blog turningleftforless.com at our show notes which are at problogger.com/podcast/261 as well as a full transcription of today’s show. I’ll talk to you in a moment after Michele shares her story.
Michele: Hi, my name’s Michele Robson and I’m from the UK. I run the blog Turning Left for Less. You can find the blog at www.turningleftforless.com. I started the blog in November 2016 after having had a kidney transplant. I had been working for 23 years in air traffic control and decided that the transplant was a way to do something different and actually write about what I really love. The blog is all about luxury travel for less, which is something I’ve always been passionate about. I like to travel in style, but I like to spend as little as possible, as everybody does, so I share my tips with my readers on how to travel for less.
When I first started the blog, I literally knew nothing about blogging at all. I didn’t know how to use WordPress. I think pretty much all I knew was how to write an article. I’d written articles before in my previous job as part of newsletters, so I was quite confident with the writing side of it. But in terms of actually building a blog, it was very difficult. I remember setting it up and it took me something like two weeks just to work out how to center my logo, because there was virtually nothing online that seemed to work. I spent hours and hours, eventually I did it, and it was worthwhile, but it was very steep learning curve to start off with.
I’m not particularly technically-minded, and to have to learn all the background WordPress stuff, and things like SEO, and obviously making readable articles, and social media, it was very difficult. I remember the first time I started to think, “Oh, am I actually going to carry on with this?” I’d only been going just over a month, but it was over the Christmas period, so of course it’s very quiet for blogs. I was getting something like 20 views a day, some days I used to think, “God, I’ve got more friends than that.” It was really difficult to keep going when you see such low viewing figures.
What I decided to do, which was my kind of breakthrough moment, was to post every day. My competition does that. I had always wanted to ideally not do that because of the amount of work it takes, but I decided in the end, if you can’t beat them, join them. It was definitely worthwhile, me giving it a go and I could always stop, if I wanted to. I guess that was one of three things that really helped me have a breakthrough.
One of the things I really recommend that worked for me, is if you have somebody whose blog you admire, try and befriend them. Try and get them to be your mentor, and that’s what I did. There’s a blogger called God Save the Points, Gilbert Ott is his name, and I’ve always been fan of his blog. Though we blog slightly differently, we’re in the same sort of genre, and I really liked the look of his blog and I could see he was doing well. He was really successful. I mean, nowadays, he has about a million views a month, which is pretty good after three and a half years.
I was part of the same group as him on Facebook, so I messaged him. He knew who I was from the group, and I said how much I admired him, and I would really be grateful if he would be able to give me some tips. I offered to buy him lunch, which obviously did the trick in terms of him then wanting to meet up. I took him somewhere very nice and plied him with drink and a very nice meal, and he basically told me everything he knew about how he had got to where he was. Since then we’ve become good friends, and he has always been very supportive, and helped me every step of the way.
I also have another friend who blogs in a different sphere, but had a lot of experience in the same sort of area I’m in. Again, I basically took him out, pumped him for information, and again, he’s always been very supportive, and he’s introduced me to other bloggers that are very well known. I think, for me, get yourself a support network and people who are mentors, because you can’t do it all by yourself. It can be quite lonely sometimes blogging, so having that support around you is really important.
The other things that I did that I think are still useful was about making sure that I was first to market, as it was, with certain things. In there, I blog about business class travel, first class travel, and if I notice a new product coming out, say for example, I talk about British Airways a lot because that’s what most of my readers are interested in. As soon British Airways announced they’re going to launch something, whether it’s a new meal service, a new seat, anything like that, I make sure I’m the first one that actually reviews it. I will drop everything and buy a flight and get on it as quickly as I can. That was one of my other major breakthroughs because I wrote a very complimentary review, which was deserved, by British Airways, when they introduced their new food, and the company actually picked it up.
I was still very unknown at that point, I’d only been going under a year, been going about 10 months, and they actually put my blog article on their website, and they promoted it through Twitter, and with a lot of their social media, pilots that post on there and a lot of them have like tens of thousands of followers, and that made a huge difference for me. It definitely got me a lot of views to the website, and that was the first time it really started to pick up for me, and started getting some really good traffic. Nowadays, I’m getting about a hundred and fifty thousand views a month after, not quite two years, which I’m pretty happy with, really.
After my breakthrough, obviously I’m now getting very good views. I’m actually getting people approaching me, which is great companies approaching me to work with them, which is really good that I don’t actually have to chase it. I know I feel that I can kind of set my terms because I have that credibility. I’m being approached by industry people, like Runway Girl, to do interviews with them, which is really good. Again, it’s about credibility.
The other thing that is different now is I’m making a regular income. I’d always done the blog full-time from the very start, but I am now actually at the point where the income is livable. Just, it’s still not a lot, but it’s enough to be able to survive on. That has taken quite a while and an awful lot of work in terms of affiliate links and advertising.
I guess my tip would be for, to achieve a similar breakthrough is really just finding that person that’s going to be your mentor, that will help you, because there I’ve found there’s so much online, so much information it’s really difficult to pick out which bits you need to know. For example, for me, keywords, a lot of people concentrate on keywords, but in the niche I operate actually I don’t need to bother about it a lot of the time because there is very little competition for many things.
Actually, I don’t bother with that a lot of the time, whereas I could have wasted hours and hours and paying for keyword tools. For me, actually I don’t need it, I’ve done alright without it. I think that is quite important, to make sure you understand your niche, and what is going to work for you rather than just trying to follow the generic advice that you find. You need that extra tip from people that know, not just the basics, you need the really sort of fine detail of your area to get it to working, and get it to the point you want it to be quickly, which I think, for me, I’ve achieved my target for what I wanted for you, too, already now without even getting to that point. It’s been very useful, for me, it’s made a huge difference.
Darren: Thanks so much to Michele for sharing her story. I have really appreciated hearing the different accents, the different voices, the different experiences of those who are sharing in this particular series. I am really enjoying seeing the feedback from many of our listeners as well on this.
As I said at the top of this show, I love this story. I’m sure many of us can relate to that feeling of frustration in the early days of getting the blog up, without much experience in blogging, that frustration of realizing that you’ve got more friends than you’ve got readers, which can be a bit confounding because you wonder why your friends aren’t reading your blog as well, sometimes. But those early days are tough.
I guess, one of the reasons why I’m loving this series is that it reminds us that we all do start in that same place. We all do start with very few readers, doubts about whether we should continue, and frustrations in the technicalities of setting up a blog, and so I appreciate Michele sharing her story of that. I love the breakthrough moments that she’s picked out as well. As I look back over my own breakthrough moments, there are many things that we could talk about, and so, there’s just so many things that I’m sure Michele could have shared, but the three that she shared today will be helpful.
The first one being: posting everyday helped her blog to grow. Now, I find this an interesting one because it’s something that I have taught in the past, but something that I don’t think is right for every blogger, but certainly seems to be the case that it was right for Michele. One of the good things about increasing your posting frequency is that you are increasing the amount of doorways into your blog. If you’re only posting once a week, that’s 52 doorways into your blog a year. If you’re posting every day, that’s 365 doorways into your blog. That’s doorways in from search engines, from social media, from the potential of other bloggers linking to you, and people coming in from your RSS feed. The amount of posts that you do is one way that you can increase your traffic to your blog. But it needs to be only done if you have the capacity to really do that, and you need to really think about your resources, the time you have, and your topic as well, so there’s a variety of things you want to consider in making that decision.
What I want to do today is share with you, in the show notes, a couple of things that you can read and listen to on this very topic of frequency of posting. There’s a blog post that Ali Luke wrote on ProBlogger not too long ago, which I’ll link to in this show notes, where she talks about the different options you’ve got for frequency. Also, there’s a podcast, I think it was episode—it might have been episode 250, just going to check that for you, yup—which is about how to create more content for your blog in an easy way. Not every post you need to write needs to be a long, detailed post.
In episode 250, I talked about nine types of content that you can create for your blog that aren’t too hard to create. Nine pieces of content that you can add to your existing content without too much work, of course, keeping in mind that you wanted to keep it high quality as well.
Posting every day, I think, is a great tip. I would probably advise that you don’t have to be daily, you might actually choose to be more than daily. You might want to be two or three times a day. The actual frequency isn’t the key, the key is thinking about how you can increase the frequency a little bit, particularly in the early days of your blog, when you may not have many posts in your archives.
The main breakthrough that I loved in what Michele shared today is the idea of befriending other bloggers, finding mentors. One of the things I do notice many bloggers, when they start out, is that they see other bloggers in their niche sometimes as their competitors. I understand why that might be.
In business, we’d see other people doing what we’re doing as competitors, and we don’t tend to reach out to them and have relationships with them. But in the blogging space, there’s plenty of good reasons to be interacting with, befriending, and working with, collaborating with other people who are in your niche.
Michele really tells the story beautifully there, of two bloggers that she reached out to, who have become friends, who’ve become collaborators, who have linked to her, who she supported as well, who’ve introduced her to other people in the industry. This is such a powerful thing. I’ve seen time and time again, where bloggers have moved past that idea of competitorship, or competing with others in their niche, and instead, working with them and befriending them, and that has helped so many bloggers, and it certainly helped me, particularly in the early days of ProBlogger. Twere other people who were blogging about blogging in those early days.
In the year or so that I started, there were other people who started, Copyblogger was a great example of this. We helped each other to grow. We ended up doing quite different things, but there was overlap in our audience, and that is such an important thing. If you’re alright, I would befriend other bloggers in your niche, this is really important. If you were I, I would find a mentor, even if it’s just a one-off mentoring session, like Michele described, over a meal. That can be a very powerful thing as well.
And then her last breakthrough was really, I thought, was great as well. Particularly if you are blogging about anything that’s to do with news, or product, as Michele is. Being first to market, being early in writing about something newsworthy in your industry is a great thing, it signals to your readers that you are first, that you are up with the latest, but it also gets on the radar of other people in your industry. Whether that be other bloggers who might link to you, or as in the case with Michele, other people in the industry like the people you’re reviewing the products of.
Being first, being early, being positive, being constructive about the things that are happening in your industry will get you on the radar of others, and that then opens up all kinds of opportunities. When people see you writing about those sorts of topics, you’ll get invited to the press launches. You will sometimes have opportunity to work with brands in a paid capacity as well, to become an ambassador. So really important to do that, and Michele’s obviously worked that very well. Networking, being open to collaboration is a very powerful thing. I do encourage you to take those things on board, particularly if you’re in those sorts of industries where you can write about news, and what’s going on in your industry. It can be a very powerful thing.
Thanks so much, Michele, again, for sharing. You can find Michele’s blog at turningleftforless.com. You can find a link to her blog in our show notes today, but also a link to those episodes that I talked about earlier, particularly episode 250, where I talk about tons of content that you can create that doesn’t take too much work. I think I called it Killer Filler Content, although it’s not really filler content, because it can actually be really valuable for your readers as well.
Again today’s show notes are at problogger.com/podcast/261 is a full transcription there. Also dig back over the last few episodes as well, where we’ve got, I think we’re up to six other blogger breakthrough stories now. There are other variety of different topics as well, so it’s well worth digging back into those. Thanks for listening, chat with you next week in episode 262.