I started Gold Penguin a couple years back with very little direction of what I wanted it to become. Even though we're still growing, pivoting, and figuring things out by the day, one thing has generally stayed consistent over the last few months – and that's been blogging.
The biggest project of my life has been growing this website. It's also been the most fun thing I've ever worked on. It might sound weird to think a little website blog could turn into something so rewarding, but it really has. And it's really only the start.
I wanted to go back, reflect, and document the last few months of what I've done to grow the Gold Penguin blog to where it is today. After several months of daily research, reading, and writing, I'm proud to say we now average about 70,000 monthly sessions from around 54,000 unique people each month.
So like, what did I actually do?
I started "officially" writing on July 1st of 2022. It was a few weeks after the announcement of Breakdance Builder came public. I loved the product, saw its potential, and figured there's no documentation online about the product – so why not start?
This was a very strategic gamble. If the product became a success and I got in early, I'd have a huge advantage for years to come. On the other hand, if it failed after a year, I basically "wasted" my time writing about something that won't get much traffic.
Also since there was no competition, I figured once my posts were public and submitted to Google things would kind of just rank, right?
I couldn't start posting random product reviews or talking about the latest web updates. I had to learn that the hard way.
I tried writing about how to speed up WordPress websites, design cool pages, etc – that didn't work. It all came down to the competition of keywords. If you know anything about blogging, you know this is constantly preached about whenever you read about how to start a blog... but you don't realize how true it is till it happens to you.
It's like going to the gym. You can't just buy a membership and start deadlifting plates off the ground. Not only is it impossible (I'd also break my back) – but who would even let you return to the gym? Of course natural strength plays a role into this (aka blogging & topic experience) but ultimately, you have to work your way up to prove yourself.
You know this, search engines know this, and readers know this. Nothing sustainable comes quick. I had to establish my own authority. But how?
I wrote very specific web development tutorials.
I'd say only a few people are searching Google daily for something like "Setting up a 404 page in Elementor" right? On top of this, replacing the largest WordPress page builder with something that came out 2 weeks ago, had to be super easy. There was no competition.
Months 1-2: How It Started
I figured if I was able to help 1 person a day, I was on the right track. So I started writing.
Within the first 2 months I ranked a few articles but was only getting about 5 clicks a day. I wonder how many were accidentally from myself trying to find my own article... lol
Once I started seeing the impressions slowly rise I just wanted more and more.
I knew clicks would come if I wrote good content, but impressions were the only real metric I saw for the first two months.
At this point I began writing an article each work day. Each took me about an hour to write & was on a very specific topic related to this new WordPress Page Builder. Literally nobody else was writing about it.
As time went by I started venturing into AI with tools like DALL-E. Since I enjoyed messing around with them, I figured why not write up a few pieces? The tools developed fairly quickly and when outpainting came out, I created an article about how to use it. That was where I saw my first "success." Overnight I got about 300 clicks from Google & had a few people share it randomly in some Facebook groups.
It was one of the coolest feelings in the world to see something you write get enjoyed by like... real people. Weird, right? This whole time I was thinking about numbers and failed to realize the people physically behind the computer screen. Impact is cool.
Months 3-5: Grinding
This was the hardest period of writing for me. It was like being a sophomore in high school: not new and exciting anymore, but not old enough to reap the benefits of the game.
To be honest, I should've switched up some part of my content strategy here. It was nearly 3 months with very little growth. I remember looking at the graph and reconsidering if it was worth continuing. Ultimately I decided to keep writing.
At this point I had other responsibilities in my life and was traveling somewhat weekly. I lowered the blogs from 5x a week to 3x. This was still a lot but I managed to pull it off. I realized it was quality > quantity. 1 or 2 amazing blogs each week would have probably been worth my time more than 5 mediocre ones.
In retrospect, I was still trying to gain authority. I had a little community that was getting built around Breakdance (people trusted me for their source of basic WordPress & website design questions).
As much as I was stressing about releasing new content and if it all would be worth it, my writing was genuinely improving. I was able to say what needed to be said quicker, more persuasively, and still remain engaging.
This was also the period that I started writing a ton more about AI tools. It was also when ChatGPT came out – November 30th, 2022. AI took me by such a surprise. I loved using them for fun. Whether it was writing, images, music, or business AI tools, if it was AI and new, I was trying it & reviewing it.
Months 6-8: I Saw The Light!!
Over these next few months my traveling period was coming to a close, I was starting to specialize more with consumer AI since it was just way more interesting. So many tech tools were coming out that I could talk about. It was fun. I felt like a little AI journalist.
One day I sat down at a mall and wrote up my ChatGPT review. This was where things started to change. Oh also, Google understands things 10x better than you do! They knew I was both knowledgeable on the topic AND loved to write about it. That's what makes good writing.
So, they rewarded me by starting to rank my AI blogs. Nothing crazy – but I was now getting 50-100 clicks a day on some of my articles. It was an awesome feeling.
Now I went back through my old articles. I wanted to compare back to a few months ago and see what I was doing differently. It was two things:
Quality & Engagement
These newer articles were really interesting. I explained what was going on, gave a rundown of the product or service, then showed some cool examples + my insight into things. I started testing out exciting tools, reviewing older products I've used for years, and truthfully just having more fun with it.
You could totally see this in my writing. Posts were capturing, fun, and something you wanted to share with friends.
Sharing with friends is a really underrated way of thinking about writing (depending on niche of course). I was writing on some pretty cool topics and had used my friends to gauge interest (indirectly!)
I'd send an article to a friend or family member – even if they knew nothing about the topic. I got responses like "super interesting" and "wow. this is some cool stuff"
The friend test was passed! Some of them didn't even realize it was my writing – they just thought I sent them some article.
I kept going. More writing!!! This was fun.
We're nearing the end of month 8 and I'm really excited for the future!
I've narrowed down 8 months of writing, editing, and optimizing into just a few bullet points. Of course these will be very general and leave out a ton of details – but I think this is actually what makes the tips so good. Everything I did fell into these bullet points.
- write quality content
- write consistent content
- write content that people leave either informed or entertained about when they leave your page
- pass the friend test
- figure out who your reader is and stick to that intent & persona. intent of voice is very important
- real people are reading your stuff, pretend you’re telling a story
- write with an intention that people will be sharing your articles naturally on facebook, twitter, etc. social sharing is a major growth strategy for certain niches
- analyze what works & repeat. this is a numbers game – data is very important
You just have to keep writing. Pivot when presented with barriers & always be willing to learn. I learned a ton from Adam Enfroy and The Income School. Some of it was about content, some was technical, and some was just general business motivation.
Growing a blog is a fairly simple concept – it's just a lot of hard work. Repeat what has worked before, build a community, and stay consistent. You can't reach 5,000 daily clicks if you're not even at 1.
Can't wait to see where the next few months will take GP!
For now, I'll just keep writing... ✏️
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Stay tuned for the next update...