The 52 week challenge is to start a blogging website and develop it into a profitable self sustaining business. This whole challenge was inspired after reading multiple successful bloggers with a similar processes for driving traffic & monetizing. This is a very exciting prospect because it promises with hard work and determination that money will come. At the very least this journey will help develop creativity, writing skills, relationships, and help me get over the hurdle of putting myself out there and having an online presence.
- Build a website
- Pick a topic/keywords to rank on Google
- Create content
- Tweak content/SEO
- Backlink building
- With a higher rank pick better keywords
The journey begins…
First things first, I need a domain name. So I’ll need to review the best domains in 2023. I ended up going with NameCheap because they offered private registration for free. I know this is a 52 week challenge but plan on giving the blog 2 years so I bought a 2 years plan for a total of $19.52.
Next I needed to figure out where I will be hosting this domain name from. So I put together a review on the top hosting services for 2023. Again I went with a 2 year plan, which set me back $71.76.
Now that the domain pointed to the hosting service. I needed to setup a website. Given my technical background I could build a site from the ground up but time is key for this challenge and besides building out a content management system is extremely complex. So it was time to see what was out there so I reviewed a few options best blogging platforms. After much back and forth, I picked WordPress.org. It has a very large community, loads of plugins, most of the bloggers I follow use it. So I clicked a few buttons and to my surprise I was up and running.
I’m technical so I thought things would go smoother for me and maybe it did but I still spent days understanding the plugin universe of WordPress. So many themes, so many plugins specific to themes. So after installing/activating each plugin I landed on this list that makes sense for me.
At this point I had no logo and no design but I didn’t want to waste my time developing something. So I searched around for AI driven logo generators and created a bunch till it spoke to me a little bit (again I’m not being picky at this point, got to get this site off the ground). Then I poked around to other top bloggers and checked out their color scheme and then I mixed and matched elements I liked. This is where my technical side really shined, I was able to mimic all the features/functionality with custom html/css/js to get the desired effects I wanted. Still took a little time but I’m happy with it for now.
This was a packed week, Leaning on my technical experience helped push through a bunch of hurdles and I’m thankful for how things are shaping up.
For the first few days I kept making tweaks to the functionality so it looked and felt more professional. Then I spent another few days creating custom blocks so I could turn out a blog post in a matter of seconds (from a design perspective). But once I finished I had a few short days to create a homepage, my-story, update challenge status, crank out some basic articles to at least get started.
Not having much time in the week I quickly did a few basic articles and linked them above in the Week 1 update. Then updated the Week 2 status. I dig up some old photos of me so that I could finish up the my-story page. Found dozens of photos, I quickly got to work on the My Story page. Noticed my drop down menu pages didn’t have a page with aggregated posts. So I built these out Software Reviews & How-to Guides. Also put up a basic Homepage, banner with call to action and listed out most recent blog posts.
I was planning to spend more time on content creation but got lost watching videos about the best way to get backlinks, since this is very new to me. I learned a few strategies but have yet to test them out. Noticed my site didn’t load on a phone very well, I spent 2 more days fixing that as well as adding a bit more to the Homepage. I also setup Google Analytics and Google Search Console, which was easy enough to fill out a few forms and add some code to the site.
But just as I was about to start writing content I just had to do a site speed test. I thought given how many images 2 and how much custom code that was added to the theme that things would be fast. To my surprise, it was at 50% on mobile and 68% on desktop. I just couldn’t believe it. After some research the theme I picked just wasn’t correct for what I expected it to be. I almost picked up Perfmatters as a one click solution but felt I really needed to understand how things worked in WordPress and not fall into this trap again. I ended up switching from Kadence for it’s ease of use to GeneratePress, which took some adjusting as it’s blocks were more lightweight and had less options to select. I also needed my images to be optimized, so I went with Short Pixel. Digging deeper, noticed my caching just was non-existent so I end up picking up WP Rocket as a 1 click solution.
Well my week was blown for content creation. But at the end of that experience I achieved 98% on mobile and 100% on desktop. So I would say it was worth the energy to fix that up. Also paved the way for a simple content creation system. Just a few simple clicks and a post can be setup with all the right components auto added. Also I now have a way to optimize images in a simple way right through WordPress.
It has been 3 weeks and I haven’t wrote a single article that could rank. I have no traffic and with no articles, link building is pointless. So I did what I had to do, I shared my website out to get feedback if it looked ok. I can see what is happening here. I’m procrastinating. I know myself and the only way to get myself over this is to knock down every wall that I could create for myself. So I got the advise, made adjustments. Then I felt like I needed to build my affiliate list out so have a means of generating income. So I sent out all the application 12 in total. Got accepted to 10 and added them to my Thirsty Affiliates plugin.
You would think I should be ready by now to start my content creation. But I found another way to waste time, which was to research and buy software to help create and rank content. I picked up ahrefs, Surfer SEO, Originality AI, Grammarly, and Quillbot. Was I ready now? Yes, there was nothing left to do but grind out articles. Given all that I just experienced it just made sense to build out Best WordPress Affiliate Plugins review. I had just gone through it and everything was fresh.
Month 1 Summary
Picked my niche of “how to make money online” because of it’s versatility of articles that could be created from it. I selected my hosting provider and the domain name. I figured out a website design/logo and built it into a WordPress website. I researched and selected a short list of plugins needed to manage the website. I created a list of articles I want to create to build out the knowledge graph on “how to make money online”. I also signed up for a bunch of affiliate programs to see how easy it would be to get. Turns out it’s easy once you have a decent looking site. Finally, I bought a bunch of software to make creating the content easier
0 Traffic, 0 Articles, and 0 Backlinks
Still working on Best WordPress Affiliate Plugins article. I bit off way to much on this one. I selected 25 plugins and my article is approaching 5000 words, which is just a lot to start doing. I’m going to start off small on the next article. I do find myself spending a lot of time in SuferSEO trying to get all those keywords in while remaining natural in language. It’s hard. Also, I don’t have any images. I hope this doesn’t take all week to get this done.
It did take all week and I’m still working on the article. I hope to finish this one soon. Still no images.