This months’ update is all about tweaking my blog to improve its efficiency.
I’ve been making money online since 1999 and blogging has made me the most amount of money. I love it because you can create evergreen content, schedule it to be posted in the future, then make money in your sleep.
I used to experiment with new ways to make money online all the time. I tried just about everything. But now I’ve decided to decrease the amount of side hustles I have and just focus on blogs, namely, this one!
I’ve created dozens of blogs through the years in niches such as tech, finance, health, weight loss and dating. Strangely, no other blog has made me more money than a blog about, you guessed it, making money.
Each month I experiment with new ways to both make more money and decrease my workload. I’m all about being as efficient as possible. It’s laziness but it also fits the motto of “work smarter, not harder”.
Without further ado, here are all the new things I did in August as well as the tweaks I made on my blog.
Started Using Spotify
I’d always work with the TV on in the background. It never really bothered me before but lately I’ve been glancing at the screen far too often and losing my concentration. Working in silence is out of the question, it feels noisier the quieter it is!
So I decided to start listening to music instead. Now music itself can also be distracting, especially if it’s a catchy song you like. I tried and failed listening to my music library. I’d enjoy every song and I kept changing playlists and skipping songs. I needed background music, with no spoken words, but more exciting than elevator music.
In comes Spotify to save the (work)day. There are curated playlists for just about every mood imaginable. My two favorite go-to playlists are “Brain Food” and “Mellow Beats”. These tunes put me in the mood to get things done. My productivity soars when I listen to those playlists.
Spotify is free but there are ads which can be a bit of a distraction. The premium version is ad-free and costs $9.99 per month ($4.99 for students) and there’s a family option for $14.99 per month for up to 5 family members.
My goal for the next month is to find new methods to further increase my productivity.
Purchased Usability Testing
I wanted to improve the usability of Cash The Checks so I needed a fresh pair of eyes to look the site over and give me their feedback. I wanted someone to take an in-depth view and give me actionable advice.
Rather than ask my readers for feedback (free) or utilize a usability testing service (expensive) I went to Fiverr instead. For just $5 (sometimes $10-$20) I purchased several “gigs” to get my site critiqued. If you’re interested in trying this out, you can search on Fiverr for usability, there’s almost 100 results.
When you get feedback from just one person, you’re susceptible to believing their personal tastes are the same as all your users. That’s why it’s important to get feedback from multiple people. If they all say the same thing, then that’s something to take note of. The feedback was unanimous, there was information overload aka too much going on.
I was always a believer in putting the content right at the top, above the fold. However, this is only true for a blog post – not the homepage. If someone searches for something specific on Google and lands on your article, you should have the bulk of the content as high as up possible. But the homepage is different. The homepage of a blog is an introduction to what your site is about, rather than just showing people your latest blog post.
Here are the actions I took. In order to quickly explain what this site is about, I added a tagline to my logo. My usability testers’ initial reaction was confusion, not knowing what the site was about and needing to scroll to read through my articles to find out. Adding the text “Hack Your Life And Make More Money” made it much clearer what the site was about.
The second step I took was clearly listing the main sections of the blog. It made no sense to display the most recent post at the top. After all, what if the most recent post was this monthly blog report? What if it was a post on getting enough sleep? Not everybody is looking for the same thing, so why not visually show the categories to help point them in the right direction.
These two changes would hopefully clear up any confusion and ease people into the content. After implementing the changes, I ordered some more user testing (from different people) and I could tell my changes made all the difference in the world. I went from looking at confused faces, furrowed brows and squinting to calm nodding as they saw the “above the fold” content.
By the way, if you want to add another site hustle, start selling usability testing on Fiverr. The best ones offer a video review of both the screen with a webcam view of yourself in the corner. You can use screencast-o-matic (free) to record up to 15 minutes of video. To make some real money, don’t charge $5 and give a crappy doc file with your critique. Charge $20 and offer a 15 minute video as you browse through their entire site, giving them your first impressions and them offering valuable actionable feedback.
My goal for next month is to further optimize my site to ensure people stay on my site longer, visit more pages and most importantly, come back again.
Moved My Optin Form Up In The Sidebar
Another tweak to my blog I implemented was organizing the sidebar.
The top right hand part of a blog is where you should put what is most important to you. Here are some examples of what most bloggers put there:
- Advertisement. Why not? After all, you blog to make money, so it’s perfectly okay to put a relevant advertisement at the top of the sidebar.
- Social Media Icons. So your blog visitors can follow your latest posts on their preferred social media channels.
- About Me. Adds a personal touch, helps introduce new visitors to your blog.
- Newsletter Box. Collects emails so you can send them updates on your latest posts or product recommendations.
I had experimented in previous years with the first three, each without much luck. Since I wanted to make money with my blog, at first I put an advertisement up. But without much traffic, there’s no point in putting ads on your site. Your first goal is to attract visitors and then convert them into loyal followers (you can sell them something later).
I tried the About Me box too, but do I really need a snippet to be visible to every single visitor every single time? A clear link to an About Me section is good enough.
I then finally settled in putting my social media icons at the top. But I’ve now realized that’s a mistake. When someone first visits your site, it’s not likely they’ll click on your Twitter or Facebook link. They want to peruse the site a bit before they decide to follow you. That’s why I’ve now moved my social media icons from the top right all the way down to the footer.
Now in the top right hand side I’ve added my optin form. That is what is most important to me. I’ll take an email signup to my newsletter over a Facebook like any day of the week. So far I have seen only a small increase, but just moving it up one spot has made a difference.
I’m using Mailchimp to manage my email list and while it’s still small, it’s slowly coming along. I don’t have many subscribers because I’m not too fond of utilizing pop-ups (either on entry or exit) and because I don’t include a freebie to entice new subscribers.
At the moment, I have no clue what to send out in a newsletter, so I’m just in collecting mode until I decide what my newsletter should consist of.
My goals for the next month are to figure out a good newsletter format and to create a free pdf report to give away.
Now it’s your turn to tell me what tweaks to your blog you’ve recently implemented and how it’s working out so far.