THE ORIGIN STORY AND STRATEGIES OF MEN’S LIFESTYLE BLOG HEARTAFACT
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Baker from Heartafact.com, a men's lifestyle blog, joins us for a blog interview.
He shares his website's interesting and unique origin story, along with the learning curve he had to go through to get the site ranking and start seeing some traffic.
Baker has the goal of reaching 100K traffic per month by the end of 2022 and is well on the way to achieving it. In this interview, find out how he has grown the site so far, including the mistakes he made and lessons he learned along the way.
How did you start your online business?
My name is Baker and I run and manage my website heartafact.com.
Heartafact is Men’s Lifestyle, Style, and Hip Hop website. We're primarily focused on creating content for men around dating, grooming & style. We're also covering current affairs and hip-hop music. I like to think of Heartafact as a mini GQ or Esquire.
I believe my site was created in one of the most unique ways.
My best friend had been sent to prison and, in order to keep in contact with him, I would write him bi-weekly letters. These letters were styled like a magazine. The paper was broken down into sections from hip hop, fashion, sneakers, current affairs, and more.
I realized my love for writing at that point and challenged myself to start a website writing the same things, only this time to a global audience.
I saw brands like GQ, Esquire, and Highsnobiety writing about the same topics as me so I decided to learn SEO. I discovered my audience's pain points and created content to solve those problems. Heartafact was born!
You can see the letters and learn more about the website backstory here.
What experience did you have in online business?
Prior to creating Heartafact.com I had no previous experience in editorial writing or writing for the web in general.
This was evident in my first year running the site, I didn’t know what I was doing and I treated my first as a personal diary.
Frustrated about getting no traffic to the site, I took an SEO course and it made sense. No one was searching for my trip to Berlin or my thoughts on the sneaker event I attended.
Men wanted to know how to get more dates, use Tinder, or how to style Chelsea boots.
I understood immediately that I needed to treat my site as an access point for information as opposed to a personal diary. The success of my site today (success being relative to me) has given me the confidence to set new goals including wanting to explore other avenues of writing such as TV/Movie writing.
My traffic numbers continue to grow with my understanding of SEO and Pinterest marketing.
- 2019 – 500 per month (no idea what I was doing)
- 2020 – 10,000 per month
- 2021 – 15,000 and growing
Do I wish my numbers were bigger? Yes of course, but slow and steady wins the race. I’m happy with the growth and have set a goal to reach 100k in traffic by the end of 2022. This is going to mean publishing a lot of quality content.
My strategies won’t change much during the course of 2022, however, I am going to hire an SEO manager to help increase traffic. I want to target more difficult keywords as my domain authority begins to grow.
In order to ensure I rank and outperform sites with higher DAs, I have to ensure my content is best because content is king.
I’ll be honest, sometimes I felt bombarded with success stories that seem impossible to replicate – people having sites for 6 months and getting crazy amounts of traffic, or having sites that are making money in a short amount of time.
Those stories are great and inspiring but stories like mine are needed just as much! That's because my growth is much more realistic and should paint a picture for the person reading to stay in it for the long game.
I started heartafact.com in 2019 and for that whole year, it didn’t grow at all, because, as I mentioned, I was treating it as a diary and no one was finding what I was writing. It's not because what I was writing was bad, it's because I didn’t understand what I was doing or the problems people were having.
If you’re a celebrity or personal brand like Kim Kardashian and you decide to start a website and write about eggs you will generate thousands of clicks. However, if you're starting out without that leverage you’re going to need to pull people to your site through social media marketing and SEO.
I understand that now and make use of it. I also intend to do more brand work so I can reach more people through video etc.
What's your revenue like?
I have only recently added Ezoic display ads to the site and I believe heartafact.com will generate about $100 per month.
I have also had deals for sponsored posts which ranged from $50 – $150.
However, for now, I'm generating $100 per month with ads. Of course, this amount will increase as my traffic grows.
The screenshot above shows traffic for June and July 2020 – traffic is gradually increasing.
What are the biggest lessons you've learned?
The biggest lesson I've learned is to write for an audience – I can't stress this enough.
As I’ve spoken about many times in this piece, the whole of 2019 I didn’t know what I was doing and writing about anything. Today I go through a detailed keyword research process to find out the pain points men have in my audience and make sure my content answers their pain.
It's best to learn SEO, be consistent, and not give up.
But by far one of the biggest encouragements was the discovery of High Snobiety's first website on Blogspot.
I found this and it reminded me that everybody has a beginning. I looked at this old site and it's like my letters to my friend – the only difference being the creator put his content online. If you look at the site structure and design and content there's no SEO keyword focus, it's more a personal diary.
Look at High Snobiety's site today – millions of visitors, generate thousands of dollars, and a globally successful site. They have been in business for nearly 15 years. I use this site daily to remind myself to keep going!
How long did it take you to see success?
I'll consider my site successful once I can go full-time from it. I still have a long way to go but in my mind, I’m successful and have overcome a lot already. A site generating $100 monthly at 15,000 in traffic is a success to me.
Think about it, success is relative and it’s about the journey. Do you know there’s someone out there whose site does 100,000 in traffic and generates $2000 + but they feel unsuccessful and miserable? What a bad position to be in.
I appreciate my small wins, and when I’m up to 100,000 I'll appreciate it just like I do today. PERSPECTIVE!!
What's your advice for other online entrepreneurs?
The best advice I can give is consistency.
Yes, you have heard it before and it's for good reason. Sometimes even I want to stop but I say to myself, once upon a time I was getting 50 clicks a month, today I’m getting 15,000 in traffic a month. I didn’t give up at 50 clicks so it doesn’t make sense to stop now.
Understand your audience, their pain points, and understand how to position your content to be problem-solving. I don’t care if your website is about gardening, finance, music, breastfeeding, fashion, cars, or travel. There’s a group of people who want to hear from you!
Make sure you’re found on Google and serve their need.
Treat your blog or website like a business/job and not a hobby. That means set aside 1-2 hours every day! Turn off your phone and social media and use that time to research and create.
Today with smartphones and social apps it’s easy to stay online all the time. I’m a victim of this too but I’ve realized in order to achieve my goals every day has to include a portion of time that’s allocated towards production and creation. Your whole day can’t be consumption! CREATE!!
Lastly, study people, brands, and businesses in your niche and learn what they do well and apply those strategies to your own line of work. If the brand or person you’re following is successful remember they have a staff and can produce at a much faster rate so don’t beat yourself up. Start small daily, just like they did.
I’ve chosen to use tools such as teachable for SEO courses, listen to online business podcasts, and be part of multiple Facebook groups which share information about blogging and tips to increase traffic.
This is you, remember that – slow and steady wins the race baby!
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