As some of you know, I got married last October. Budgeting was a difficult thing to do, so I’ve decided to try to help out newly-engaged couples with a UK focused wedding budget blog.
Now, I know that’s not really the kind of thing most puremango readers will be interested in, so in this post I’m going to talk about the process of launching a new blog in your spare time. At the moment it’s too early to say whether weddingbudget.co.uk will be a success or not – it’s been going for less than 2 months right now (814 visitors to date), but hopefully you’ll get some idea of how much (or little) time and effort it takes to put something like this together.
First of all is the domain name. Last year I tried to get weddingbudgetbuddy.com off the ground (since expired and now owned by a spammer). It was a failure for a number of reasons including my own commitment. But also I was never too enthused by the domain name itself. It always seemed like a compromise. So this time instead of agonising over trying to find an available name, I laid out a little cash and bought a domain that was short, memorable and on-topic. It cost me Â£90 in total. I think that’s quite a bargain. I did my research using domaintools.com and google keyword tool. Keyword tool is the almighty ruler of SEO, giving an insight into how many people search for any phrase in any country. This told me that 1300 people search for “wedding budget” in the UK every month. My previous research on getting to #1 on Google, coupled my success with exact match domain names like geekwallpapers.com told me that I can expect at least 1/3 of that traffic pretty quickly. That’s 430 visits per month, which is small but not bad, especially when you consider the long tail I will generate.
Domain bought and transferred, the next step was to get a decent blog together. I used a free theme from WooThemes. The difference between a free and paid theme is huge – having seen the quality of WooTheme’s products, there’s no question in my mind for my next project. The theme I’m using gives me a good number of homepage options and widgets.
I wrote up a few articles on wedding budgeting and so on, put them online and waiting to see what would happen. Not much. I’m getting only a trickle of traffic right now. But this is to be expected – it will take time for Google to start trusting my brand new site, and to build up backlinks and followers. One thing I’ve found really useful to keep costs down is using flickr to find create-commons licensed images to use on the blog. I provide attribution to the photographer in the blog post and in exchange I get great quality imagery. I can’t get the exact photo I want, like I would by using iStockPhoto, but it’s free and, fittingly, I am on a tight budget.
The only other expense I have is buying content from journalists. This is hit-or-miss. I once hired a freelance journalist to write up their ‘true wedding story’ – it sounded like something from Laurel and Hardy. Totally unbelievable and inappropriate for the site. but some of the content I’ve commissioned has proved popular with my small but growing number of readers.
The strategy is to build the blog as a trusted informational resource and then build budgeting tools for my readership. I don’t know if this is a sound plan – there might be too many steps between ‘first time visitor’ and ‘profit’. It’s a learning experience!
One other thing that has surprised me is the amount of traffic I’m getting from my pinterest page. It’s mostly from America, so not quite my target market, but at this early stage every visitor counts. It’s a slow process, writing and commissioning good quality content and trying to grow the site organically with basically no money to spend on it, but personally I find it amazing how professional-looking a site you can build for next-to-nothing.
Hopefully I’ve been able to pass on some of the tips I’ve learned so far. You’d think I’d know it all what with having run puremango for so long, but doing it all over again from scratch, in a completely different market, and on purpose is proving to be something else entirely!
Oh, and if you know someone who’s getting married, point them at weddingbudget.co.uk would you?