As I come close to launching The Art of Travel (as one of the biggest travel & wanderlust brand in August of 2016), it is time to look back at The Naked Soul journey and figure out what have I learned and how am I going to apply these lessons to my travel venture.
Challenges of Growing a Blog
Here are the top 6 challenges that I faced while running The Naked Soul blog. These challenges are not unique to my situation. You can relate to them (irrespective of your domain) and can hopefully even learn from my mistakes.
1. Team: To succeed in any business, you need a great team.
Lesson: We built a team when I launched The Naked Soul and we were able to produce great results. But, due to the tight budget and marketing mistakes, I had to cut down on team and I went solo for almost rest half of 2015. I was still running the engine but the growth was slow. Time is the most precious commodity and we lack time the most. With a team, you can better manage the vast amount of tasks that needs to be done. (Team = Having More Time.)
2. Content: Content consistency is the most important factor for success.
Lesson: We know by now that producing daily content is the way to go. On the blog, on social media, everywhere. You need to create a schedule, publish it, build expectations and then stick to it.
For the blog, publish every Monday, Wednesday and Friday. For YouTube, publish every weekend, for Podcast, record and publish atleast twice each week. On social medial, publish daily and even multiple times each day. You can’t cut corners here and expect growth in traffic.
3. Budget: Money can be helpful but it can also be harmful.
Lesson: When I was launching the book, I set aside $10,000 for marketing. If I had a smaller budget, we would have been more successful. Actually, having a big budget harmed me both financially and creatively. We spent money wherever we thought we should without any data to backup our wild expectations. I was thinking I can push the book up in sales ranking by heavily advertising. I was everywhere and a lot of people did notice the book. But they did not buy it. On pinterest alone, half a million ad impressions were made. The reason was I was a no-name, first time author with a tiny platform. I could have used the money to produce my second and third books. I could have used the money to create more quality content. I could have used the money to hire a VA for the entire year.
4. Design: From blogs to books, Good Design matters.
Lesson: Throughout 2014 and 2015, I constantly tweaked The Naked Soul blog. I was always making changes and never fully satisfied. Why? Because, I started with a poor concept and design. I created a book website and later tried to switch to an author website. It turned out to be a very expensive transition. I still have broken links on my website and there is a lot that we can do on the design aspect of it.
5. Technical Problems: Throughout 2015, I was constantly struggling with website downtown.
Lesson: It took me almost a year to make the switch from a bad hosting service to a good one. My website used to be down every month and sometimes for days. The response was terrible from the hosting company. And it was not that the hosting was cheaper, in-fact it was expensive. It was just a bad company and choice. I took too long to pull the plug. Why? Because, I was distracted and spending time on lesser important matters. Website uptime is a critical factor in building trust.
6. Generic to Specialized: The Naked Soul brand had a mix of everything.
Lesson: It took me almost 14 months to separate fitness from writing and travel from podcasting. The Naked Soul soup was a hot mess. It was catering to everyone and therefore no one was truly loyal to it. In 2016, we have three very different platforms and we are focusing on only two. Our Travel blog and our Writing blog. Since travel will require a lot of writing as well, the two lines of business somewhat overlap.
Fitness required more of videos and spending time in the gym which was not overlapping with travel and naked soul. With this transition, we can now upload all travel videos to Travel YouTube and Fitness videos to Fitness YouTube. Health and Fitness still matter to us and remains a priority but we won’t be spending a lot of time here from the business perspective. But we still have a lot of work to do on our new YouTube channels.
Summary: What Can You Do
This is a short list of what I am doing in 2016. You can make a similar plan based on your own personal or business goals.
1. Produce daily content (written, audio, video, images, etc). Divide the work and conquer. Each team member plays to your strengths. #TeamWork
– 3 Blog posts per week
– 2 Podcasts per week
– 2 YouTube Videos per week
– 2 to 4 social media post daily
2. Focus on good design on The Art of Travel blog from day one. Further improve the design on The Naked Soul blog.
3. Spend money where it really, really matters. If there is a creative way to solve a problem, as a rule, DO NOT SPEND money. Exercise creativity. Having money actually harms your long term survival in the game. Without money, you are forced to make smarter decisions.
4. Figure out ways to monetize the blogs and business to make it self-sustainable. The blog should be able to pay for itself.
5. Find and make use of college students as volunteers. (for Content creation)
6. Focus on building quality back links to both blogs. Grow blog traffic to 100,000 monthly.
7. Check both blogs and each social media platforms daily. No downtown and no broken links.
8. Finish and publish my next sets of books. Do not just leave it. Be aggressive about it.
9. Get each social platforms to 100K range using creative ways (and not with money power). Advertisements bought from money doesn’t last long.
10. Do team brainstorming on weekly basis. Exchange ideas and then execute them one at a time.
11. Let’s become the industry leader in my respective niches. Let’s narrow down our competitors and keep a close eye on them.
12. Fix the descriptions, tags and SEO on YouTube. Fix the cover pictures. Do a complete audit of each YouTube channels and video.
13. Do a complete audit of the Naked Soul blog. (Find and fix broken links, messed up texts, errors and typos, and anything that is not at par premium quality)
14. Apply all new tools and techniques learned from the QuickSprout blog.
15. Get The Naked Soul book to have 100+ reviews on the Amazon. Simultaneously, plan on receiving 25+ reviews upon launch of on my second book.