Today I’m doing things a little differently on the blog. I wanted to share with you a guest post, which is not something that happens often here on Creatively Lauren. Today, I’m sharing a post written by Hope Young, founder of The Young Hopeful. She crafted this post detailing how she grew her little blog into a major hit in a year! I’ve watched Hope grow TYH, and even been a part of it, from when it was just a little college blog. I’m so proud of Hope and what she has done with her site. So after y’all read this, you need to go to her site and see what she has to offer! She is awesome, y’all will love her! So let’s get to her secrets!!
(Update September 2016: Hope Young has put The Young Hopeful on an indefinite hiatus. She will not be uploading any new posts. However, The Young Hopeful will still be live so you can view the archives anytime. View her announcement here.)
Hey y’all! My name is Hope Young and I am the founder of a college website called The Young Hopeful. I’m here to share with you how I grew a tiny blog that was getting a handful of views a week into a website that gets thousands of views every day.
Before I begin, let me tell you what I’m not going to do. I am not going to tell you how to make money blogging…mostly because I have not made a single dime off of The Young Hopeful. I’m also not giving you an exact formula on how to increase your pageviews and get thousands of followers. This is simply just what has worked for me and my team.
Okay, now that we got that out of the way – let’s jump in, y’all!
I started The Young Hopeful during summer 2015, the summer before my senior year of college. I was working part time, but still had a lot of time on my hands, so it seemed like the perfect time to see if I would like this blogging thing! I was actually inspired by this post on Morgan Timm’s lifestyle blog, Mostly Morgan.
When I first started, I originally planned on it just being “my little slice of the internet”, where I could share what I was loving, what I was doing and so on. But, I began brainstorming ideas of blog posts, I realized the majority of my posts were related to college, which made sense considering I WAS a college student.
I ran the blog myself until my senior year started to get crazy in the beginning of 2016. This is when I brought three contributors onto the team. Each contributor was responsible for writing one article a month and I filled the rest of the slots on the content calendar with my own posts or guest posts. During this time, I also brought on a social media editor who took over all of our social media accounts, including Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram.
As TYH continued to grow, I changed the format a bit and at the beginning of May, The Young Hopeful took on an editorial format, similar to a magazine. I currently have three editors: lifestyle, healthy living, and academics. Each editor is responsible for two articles each month (ideally one written by them and one written by a guest writer).
Fast forward to today…July 2016. The Young Hopeful just celebrated its one year birthday and we currently have thousands of followers on social media, over one million hits on our website, and over 8,000 email subscribers. If you told me that my tiny little blog would have this kind of infuence one year ago, I would have called you a liar.
Okay, so you’re probably wondering how I did it all. I don’t have all of the answers and I’m definitely not an expert, but this is what I do know
Provide value to your reader
Every time we write a post, we always ask ourselves…what is the point of this post? Our goal at TYH is to be as helpful to our readers as possible. We don’t want to just be talking into the wind. We try to make our content as practical as possible, with tips that readers can implement into their lives right away!
Pinterest. Pinterest. Pinterest!
I can’t stress this enough! Pinterest is by far our biggest referrer. One of our blog posts went viral overnight simply because it got picked up by Pinterest! My biggest secret to my Pinterest success is using schedulers, which means you can set it and forgget it (kind of like a slow cooker!). My favorite ones are Ahalogy (always free), Boardbooster (has a long free trial period), and Tailwind (first 100 pins are free).
People LOVE free stuff
In December, I wrote and created my first e-book, Thriving Not Just Surviving, which I used as an opt-in freebie for our email list. I also began creating other opt-in freebies, such as checklists and worksheets, and attaching them to related posts, such as this one, which is our most popular post to day. TYH’s email list has over 8,000 emails and I credit this entirely to our opt-in freebies. If you want a more in-depth look at how opt-in freebies work, check out this awesome guide from Kiry Woodward.
Looks aren’t everything, but they sure help!
You could have amazingly helpful content, but honestly if your website is not pretty or user-friendly, you may have a hard time getting people to stay on your website. We did not hire a professional graphic designer – all of our design is DIY! We simply chose a layout that was simple, clean, and did not distract our reader form what’s important…the content!
Don’t be afraid to ask for help.
Bringing people onto the team wasn’t easy – it was actually a lot of work, but in the end, growing the TYH family was one of the best things I did for my website. It allowed me to expand our brand into other areas, such as our mentoring program, and allowed other girls to gain exposure and experience in the realm of blogging
Help the next one in line
Tim McGraw had it right when he said “Don’t forget to turn back around. And help the next one in line. Always stay humble and kind”. In the blogging world, it can be so easy to stay busy and not stop long enough to turn around and extend a hand to someone else. I have often struggled with this as the inbox gets full and the to-do list gets long. It’s not easy and sometimes I suck at it, but what’s the point of learning how to grow your website if you can’t share some of your expertise with others?