Launching a website isn’t easy. From the creative side to the technical components, there are so many pieces to think about when you start a blog.
And if you’re in a crowded space like personal finance, you’re faced with another challenge. How will you make your blog stand out amongst so much online noise?
With all of these details vying for your attention, it’s no wonder so many new bloggers overlook one of the most important parts of starting a blog: growing an audience.
Right from the beginning, this should be one of your top priorities. Because even if you’re creating awesome content, you probably won’t feel satisfied — or be able to make money from your blog, if that’s your goal — until people actually read the site.
When I started my blog, The Penny Hoarder, in 2010, there were definitely a few months where I was only getting one reader a day: my mom. But over time, I figured out how to attract an audience. That growth gave me the momentum to hire other people to help, and together we’ve turned the website into a profitable company.
So how did we grow The Penny Hoarder to 5.5 million unique visitors each month, making us the largest personal finance blog?
Here are a few strategies that worked for us, so you can put them to use for your personal finance blog, too.
Focus on providing huge value for the reader
Give readers a reason — a really good reason — to visit your blog, not just once, but again and again.
Maybe that reason is the amazing advice or insight you offer. Or perhaps it’s the infographics you create. Or perhaps — and this is often the best route to take — it’s you, the unique voice, perspective and ideas you bring to the table that readers can’t find anywhere else.
Here’s an example of providing huge value. We go out of our way to create epic list posts like 100 Places That Will Give You Free Stuff on Your Birthday and 103 Ways to Make Money at Home.
These posts are long, and they take far more effort to create than a typical blog post. But it’s so worth it, because readers see true value in these comprehensive posts, which boosts sharing, helps our posts rank high in search, and ultimately brings more visitors to our site.
Make it about the reader, not about you
Personal finance blogs often take a personal spin, telling the story of the blogger and his or her financial progress. But while a personal angle is always compelling, make sure you complement your own stories by explaining how what you’ve gone through can help the reader.
Our big goal, for example, is to help readers put more money in their pockets. Yes, many of the posts we run showcase experiences of our staff or contributors, or even my own stories of trying to earn money in weird ways, like how I earned $5,000/month as a beer auditor in my early 20s.
But in addition to sharing those experiences, we take it a step further and explain to the reader how they can replicate each money-making opportunity, offering specific, practical tips and advice. The personal story makes it fun to read, but the advice makes it truly helpful for the reader.
Reinvest your earnings whenever possible
This isn’t easy for new bloggers, who often operate as leanly as possible, keeping expenses low. But once you start earning money from your blog, make it a priority to reinvest as much of your earnings as possible, so you can continue to grow your audience.
After bootstrapping The Penny Hoarder, I made it my mission to reinvest half of what I earned back into the company. We’ve continued that trend each year, spending on advertising, web development, design and content.
This focus on using our earnings to grow is what has allowed us to expand at such a rapid pace, and I recommend it to everyone who’s serious about growing a blog.
Find an advertising channel that works for you
For us, it’s Facebook ads. We invest big into this platform because it helps us bring new and return visitors to our site.
Lots of small bloggers are hesitant to spend on Facebook advertising, but the key is to closely track your ROI. If you can earn more than you spend because of the visitors you attract, Facebook ads are worthwhile.
To get the best results, watch your page Insights closely. They’re free, and you can learn a ton about your audience even before you spend any money. Then experiment with your target audience as you boost posts. Facebook doesn’t require you to spend a lot, so you can figure out what works by putting as little as $10 behind each boost.
One last tip: Make sure to set up your Facebook ads campaign to maximize website traffic, not increase likes on your Facebook page. That way you’re sending visitors to your blog, where you can monetize the traffic (and as a side effect, the likes on your Facebook page will grow, too).
Kyle Taylor is founder of The Penny Hoarder, a blog about weird ways to earn money that sees about 5.5 million readers each month. He’s been featured on CNN, Oprah.com, ABC News, and Woman’s World magazine. The Penny Hoarder is one of FinCon 2015’s sponsors, and they’re hiring!