This is an interview with Arfa Nazeer of She Means Blogging.
Hey, Arfa. Tell us a bit about yourself and what you do.
As simple as it sounds, I am a blogger with multiple other names as blogging strategist, content creator, blog manager etc. I run and manage my blog shemeansblogging.com where I teach new and aspiring bloggers to launch their blogs and earn a living through blogging.
I aim to help and guide bloggers who are at different stages of blogging. From content creation to Pinterest marketing, my blog covers different topics to grow your blog readership.
If I am not blogging, or involved in any related tasks, I usually spend time watching any Netflix series, or with family.
What was your first online side hustle and how did it go?
The first side hustle was our own clothing boutique that I started along with my sister and best friend. This was the first venture we did while we were caught up in studies.
We used to sketch designs, find fabric and materials for tailoring and then, final shoot those dresses. As I belong to Pakistan, women love to dress up in desi outfits with all those funky shirts, party wear dresses etc.
Oh, it went amazing! I had so much support from my family and specially, my dad who always encouraged us to do business of our own and take risks.
It was a mind-blowing experience for all of us!
When and why did you decide to give blogging a try?
It all started back in my university days when one of our creative writing professors asked us to create a simple WordPress blog to secure safe 5 or 10 marks. That is how I jumped into this wonderful world of blogging and never turned back.
How did you choose your niche and who is your ideal blog reader?
After blogging for a year or so, I realized my blogging potential and passion that I can keep working on for years. Thus, I niched down to blogging tips, marketing and other related topics.
My ideal blog reader is someone who is eagerly passionate about growing their blog and make money with blogging. She struggles with every day blogging problems and is in need of guidance and a roadmap. I wanted to create a blog that is simple, easy and understandable.
What are some challenges you had to overcome during your first year as a blogger?
I struggled completely in my first year of blogging and that is why I don’t even count it 🙂 My niche was a mess and I had to rebrand my blog for clarity, success and growth. And, this was the best ever decision.
I mentioned it because many new bloggers are afraid to face challenges. It’s fine to make mistakes and learn from them.
Some other challenges were finding the direction and my focus as a blogger. It doesn’t matter what niche you choose but if you have lack of direction and focus, you are less likely to grow in a competitive market.
I think having a solid blog plan, a clear direction and a blogging strategy are the most important things for bloggers in the first year.
How did you grow the traffic of She Means Blogging?
As I said, rebranding my blog was the main step that really helped me with traffic. Other than that, I focused on Pinterest and SEO from the very start. I knew that Pinterest was working for my website and I have to be consistent with Pinterest marketing.
SEO is huge. I was lucky that few of my posts started to rank in the beginning and those were some high volume keywords.
But, Pinterest amazed me with the results! This was the peak time when Pinterest favoured content creators and the new pins.
I guess bloggers were lucky during that time. The concept of viral pins was introduced and you never knew when your pin could go viral and drive you lots of traffic.
This is even when I wrote a free case study explaining how one blog post can drive sales, traffic and subscribers.
Read also: How I Increased Traffic by 778% in 2 Months
How many page views do you get per month and what are your top traffic sources?
I get above 35k pageviews/month. Some months are more than that and some are below. You see how traffic fluctuates over time?
Top traffic sources;
#1 Organic traffic
#3 Referral or direct traffic
What steps have you taken to turn Pinterest into a regular traffic source?
Pinterest loves consistency and new content. Those are 2 things that really helped me have a regular traffic from Pinterest.
When I started using Pinterest, it was not like what it is now. Things were very different then. There were more viral pins and Pinterest group boards were also a major source of traffic. So, the strategy to drive traffic from Pinterest was clearly different back then.
Here are few steps;
- Follow Pinterest SEO. When you use keywords in your pins title and description, you are optimizing your content for Pinterest search results. That is what I did to ensure that my pins get seen by users. I get emails from people who said that they found me via Pinterest. They saw my pin on their feed and they clicked it. Many people have found me on Instagram through Pinterest.
- Add new content. Let it be video or Pinterest images, I try to add a couple of pins every week. Treat this just like any of your marketing channels where you have to share your content daily to drive traffic.
- Take a deep look into Pinterest analytics. If not every week, I try to read analytics in detail by the end of the month and plan my new pins according to that.
Well, these are few simple steps that have helped me drive traffic from Pinterest. But, as you know, Pinterest is surprising 🙂
How has your Pinterest strategy changed over the years?
This is an interesting question.
Recently, I have started to focus more on variety of content, and consistency. My Pinterest strategy also includes testing different titles, and pin designs. Remember that the purpose is to get more clicks on your pins.
To drive those high traffic results, you need to be creative with your content on Pinterest. I have seen some good results when I test out clickable titles.
No, don’t use clickbait titles but look into your content to determine what is one thing you promise to teach your readers and how that tip will change their lives.
People love using Pinterest and they spend most of their time on it. However, the creator’s job is now tough and challenging with recent algorithm changes.
For my shemeansblogging account, I focus on animated video pins, and regular pins. Video pins are a big one! But, again, it’s important to focus on ‘outbound links’. Also, I try to be consistent on the platform by adding a couple of pins daily.
How do you choose topics for new blog posts?
My content planning process is simple. I believe in more evergreen content. That is why I even wrote an entire ebook on the strategies I use to drive traffic, sales and subscribers.
There is a spreadsheet where I keep all my blogging ideas. Sometimes, your readers give you the idea to work on. Otherwise, I do take inspiration from other blogs to see what I haven’t covered yet. As I know there are still thousands of blog post topics that can be covered in my niche.
Here is a simple criteria;
- Look into your audience’s problems and your own content.
- Determine what are fundamental topics that you haven’t covered yet.
- Analyze your categories and plan new posts for the ignored category.
- Go through your email responses, and facebook group(s) to find out new ideas.
- Plan content around your digital product or affiliate products.
These are all ways to find new content ideas. However, I prefer to choose those ideas first that are most important and relevant to my readers’ journey. (I have even labeled them as most important, important and least important)
How did you make your first $100 as a blogger?
I totally remember that. It was affiliate marketing for me.
Affiliate marketing is still my favourite method for making money from my blog. I even shared how I made my first $100 as a blogger. You can even find some simple ideas to earn $100 from a new blog.
What’s your current monthly blog income and your revenue streams?
I don’t usually talk about blogging income but I am happy to discuss revenue streams. Affiliate marketing is my top source for blogging income. My site also earns money with ads, sponsored content, and my own products.
The evergreen content ebook is my flagship product and I also sell a pack of Pinterest templates.
How important is your email list to your blogging business and how have you grown it?
Honestly, I only realized the importance of my email list when it started to make me money. I didn’t know how useful and impactful emails were. Even though email marketing is lots of work, it is totally worth it. You have your own blogging fans glued to your email list.
Imagine the responses, feedback, engagement and appreciation from them. An email list not only helps you make money but it keeps your business growing in so many ways.
The secret to growing my email list lies in a free email course that is available on my website. It is based on 11 bite sized blogging lessons to accelerate your blog growth.
With limited time, and work overload, it’s hard to follow up with every free course. That is when I created a free blogging tips email series where I share 1 tip for 11 days.
Similarly, I offered a few other valuable freebies to grow my email list. I also participated in facebook groups to get new subscribers.
Twitter is also my favourite platform for creating content. I just love being on Twitter. There is so much to learn from there. I regularly engage with my twitter followers and provide some value too.
Have you taken any blogging courses over the years?
Yes, a few of them. I do like Genius Blogger’s toolkit because there is always something valuable. Not all courses, but I just select 2-3 of them. The latest course is Stupid Simple SEO and I am really liking it.
I am not sure how much I have implemented from all of them because I am a self taught blogger. But, of course, I have learnt something from those courses. I have also spent endless hours and nights digging into blogging and all other stuff. That is what has helped me grow.
How many hours per week do you spend on your blog?
I spend almost 30 hours per week on my blog. Sometimes, I miss a few hours because of family commitments.
I also take a whole day off every week to not work. We are different in so many ways. I don’t believe in competing with others’ routines and how well they do because that’s not how it works.
I set monthly goals and prepare an action plan to work on them. Batching out tasks has really helped me recently. I dedicate days for each task and it improves work efficiency and reduces workload stress.
Depending on my quarter goals, I decide my blogging tasks. For example, I want to spend my first quarter creating new content for my blog.
I make sure to have a schedule for content planning, content creation, content marketing etc. Similarly, when I wanted to get back to Pinterest I had to task batch my Pinterest marketing.
What’s your advice for beginner bloggers?
Here are few things I want to share with beginner bloggers;
- Do not get overwhelmed in this blogging world. Find your blogging direction by seeking guidance from experts.
- Spend your time and energy wisely. You have to work really hard for the first 2 years. Make sure you are using your time smart.
- Be passionate about your blogging goals. Get creative with your ideas.
- Always have an action plan. A strategy for your blogging growth. You must know your blogging focus and what to do to achieve your goals. It doesn’t seem as easy but it surely takes time, patience and hard work.
- Don’t be afraid to invest your money in digital courses. You get value, tricks, and experience when you spend money. The results? It depends on what you learn from those products and how you implement it.
- Most importantly, believe in yourself! You can do it.
What’s next for you and She Means Blogging?
I like thinking about all the new ideas to scale my blog business. I plan to launch a few digital products including mini blog audits, and trainings while focusing on new content for the website.
I love creating content and that is one thing I want to focus on this year! I am also looking forward to social media growth on Instagram, Twitter and my facebook group.
Pinterest has always been my favourite so I am curious to see what it brings for content creators this year.
You can connect with me here:
Thank you so much for this interview, Lidiya 🙂