Scullywag Astrology is one of my websites, but I have included it, as it gives insight into some practices that my clients have either chosen not to incorporate or have not had a chance to include yet.
Astrology is a hobby of mine, that I have always been interested in. I had another astrology website back in the early 2000s but closed it down when I returned to paid work, after taking time off while my children were young. I often thought of starting another astrology website, and in August 2016, I bit the bullet and did so.
This page contains affiliate links. This means I may earn a commission if you purchase something using one of my links.
WordPress Website Advantages
Initially, I considered selling astrology computer reports via a Facebook Page, but I needed a way to collect payments easily. I had sold astrology reports on my previous astrology website, so it was a no-brainer to set up another one.
Initially, I started with a more traditional website with a blog attached. However, I quickly switched over to a WordPress website, because of all the features you could add to it. WordPress is the free open source CMS (content management system) used by over 30% of websites on the internet, including a lot of very big sites like Sony Music, MTV News, Mercedes-Benz, and The New Yorker.
Back in the early 2000s, I was using PayPal buttons to send clients to PayPal to pay for their purchases. With WordPress, I was able to use the free WooCommerce plugin, which allows you to display your products and services much more professionally.
While the WordPress code is open source (free) it works best when it is self-hosted (in that, you install the software on your website hosting and use your domain name). Most website hosting companies, including SiteGround, have it set up so that installing WordPress on your website is a matter of a few mouse clicks.
While being able to use WooCommerce to make the online store more attractive was a huge boost, WordPress also allows you to access thousands of plugins that can improve the look and functionality of your website.
The Rule of 7 and Finding a Hook
With so many astrology websites on the internet, I needed a reason for people to visit my website, and continue to return to my website. I figured that writing weekly horoscopes would bring people to the website, and from there, they might browse, come across the astrology reports for sale, and buy.
Writing new articles regularly (blogging) is a great way to lure people to your website and keep them coming back. Google tends to reward websites that publish new and updated content as well.
Blogging helps to increase brand recognition and fosters a sense of community. It is said that it takes up to 7 times within 18 months for your brand to be seen and connected with before it becomes trusted enough in the minds of clients for them to buy (known as the Rule of 7 by Dr Jeffrey Lant).
If you are selling products or services, writing articles that are of interest and value to your current or potential client base may draw them in. While they may not be in a position to buy at that time; you are establishing yourself as an authority or source of information, and you are likely to be in their mind when it comes time for them to purchase.
Static Front Page to Display Different Areas
As I would be posting new content every week (the horoscopes), as well as writing articles on different aspects of astrology, I decided on a magazine theme design. I find I am often drawn to magazine theme designs, because of their clean lines and easy organization.
I also really like the look of sliders on the front page of a website. They are not always popular with web designers because they can slow a website down somewhat.
My concession to this was to swap my first theme (look of the website) that had a full-screen slider to one that had a smaller slider at the top instead. Making sure that images are compressed (reduced in file size) helps to keep load times down.
I like that the movement catches people’s attention, and you can display your newest and most popular or relevant posts there.
I was able to use magazine style widgets on the home page to display different areas of content in separate sections.
I also opted to keep a sidebar on the front page. I wanted to have all the links that someone visiting the website might need, right there on the front page. It is also another area for displaying affiliate and paid ads.
E-Commerce on Website and Facebook Page
As mentioned earlier, I use WooCommerce to facilitate the sale of my astrology reports.
This allows me to not only sell my products and services, but I can also use their plugin to link directly to affiliate products that I recommend. In this way, I can link to Amazon products as well as SunFrog t-shirts that I promote on my website.
When you set up WooCommerce on your website, you are also able to have it import all your products or services into your Facebook Page shop as well. You can sort your products into collections and share your collections to your Facebook Page, another page you manage or on your timeline.
As you can see from the screenshot I have included, the collections come up beautifully and display in a carousel so that people can scroll through the whole collection. You can share any of your products or services individually as well.
When you import your catalogue into your Facebook Page Shop, it is automatically optimised for use in Facebook advertising. If you choose to use Facebook Ads, the pixel is already set up for your use.
Social Media Sharing and Social Proof
Social proof is a great advertisement for your website. Incorporating social media sharing buttons or floating bars that make it quick and easy for your website visitors to share helps to increase the chances of them sharing your content.
Finding which social media platforms your current and potential clients are using is invaluable. There is no point posting on LinkedIn if your client base is all over at Instagram.
Finding multiple ways to promote content, and repurpose it for different social media platforms helps. I have a post titled “What the Planets Represent in Astrology” with 8.5K shares at present. I posted that article on the 30th of September 2017 (just over 16 months ago).
My sharing buttons tell me that over 8,000 of those shares are from Pinterest and 65 from Facebook. So how did I manage that?
I picked a topic that people interested in astrology might like to learn more about and I promoted each section of that article separately on Pinterest.
On the Scullywag Astrology Pinterest account, I have boards for Astrology, Planets in Astrology, The Moon in Astrology, The Sun in Astrology, Mercury in Astrology and so forth for all the rest of the planets.
I created pins (what images posted on Pinterest are called) in the dimensions that are recommended for Pinterest. I made sure to create a pin for each section of the article, so one image about the Sun, one image about the Moon and so on.
I then pinned these images to the relevant boards. In this case that would mean that I could pin the Venus in Astrology image to the Astrology board, the Planets in Astrology board as well as the Venus in Astrology board.
I also designed an infographic pin about all the planets and gave just the briefest (but still helpful) information on each one. I was able to pin that graphic to the Astrology board, the Planets in Astrology board as well as each individual planets board. This works best when the images are not all pinned at the same time, but spread out over a period of time.
Using so many different pins, all linking to the same article gave it a better chance of being seen and saved (repinned) by another Pinterest user.
The same thing can be done across other social media networks, like Facebook, Twitter, Instagram and Tumblr. All that is required is that you change the dimensions of the image to match what works best for that social media platform.
Advertisements in the Sidebar
Having your own domain name and using your own hosting means that (within reason) you can do what you like with your website.
I’m a member of the Amazon Services LLC Influencer/Associates Program and as such can display ads for Amazon products as well as have my own Amazon Influencer storefront. I usually use a few Amazon banners on my weekly horoscope posts and link to their products when relevant (astrology books for example). This brings in a small passive income, that helps defray the costs of running the website.
I also display Google AdSense advertisements in my sidebars. Again, the revenue I receive is not large, but it is passive income, that does all the work itself after it has been set up. Google AdSense is also linked to YouTube so that if you have a YouTube Channel that qualifies and you run ads in your videos, you can earn some income that way as well.
I also use SunFrog to showcase astrology related t-shirts, hoodies and mugs. It cost me nothing to design these, and I can promote my designs or the designs of others and earn affiliate commissions. If you are in a creatively inclined, you may find that designing content that can be used on t-shirts, hoodies, mugs and a whole range of other items provides a nice revenue stream.
Newsletter Sign-Ups & Why You Shouldn’t Rely On Just One Form of Traffic
Newsletters are a great but often underutilized way to stay in touch with your clients and potential clients. While search engines can change their algorithms, or social media platforms can disappear, your email list remains a way to directly contact your followers.
Google’s social media platform Google+ is shutting down in April 2019, and there were millions, if not billions of people on there. However, it was not to be it seems. I feel this is a real shame, as I found Google+ to be a very welcoming community. There was also the ability to set up communities. My “Astrology & Horoscopes” community had 1,367 members when last I looked, figures I would be ecstatic to see on my Facebook Page or Facebook Group.
Even if a social platform is doing extremely well, there is the possibility that it will be eclipsed by another (MySpace) or it will fold or be bought out by competitors (Vine).
Sometimes you may find you do exceedingly well on one platform (I had some huge spikes in traffic from Flipboard for a short while) and sometimes your content ranks slow to start but takes off over time. Pinterest took a long time to show any real benefit to my website, but posting evergreen content (content that doesn’t date) and working out what techniques worked best with Pinterest started to pay off.
So, what marketers suggest, and what makes sense, is to cultivate an email list. Often a hook of some kind is used to induce people to sign up, an offer that the website visitor is willing to give up their email address in exchange for. With the Scullywag Astrology website, my offer was a free astrology natal (birth) chart.
With the new GDPR legislation, it is necessary to have a double opt-in for your email marketing (having your subscriber confirm their email address before you add them to your email list). You don’t want someone who doesn’t want your emails in any case.
There are many free email marketing providers about, but once you get over a certain amount of subscribers they will charge you. Experts also recommend that you cull your email lists every 6 months or so to get rid of people that haven’t opened your emails for the past 6 months.
As disheartening as it can seem, you are better off getting rid of these subscribers. Email providers notice when their clients routinely ignore emails and are likely to suspect you of being a spammer or placing you in a miscellaneous folder where emails go to die. Alternatively, your subscriber might get sick of seeing your emails, especially if you send multiple emails a week, and block your emails and mark them as spam.
It’s not fair of course, and they signed up to be part of your newsletter, including the double opt-in, but that’s life. The good news is that those that remain want to be there and are probably more likely to purchase from you, rather than a competitor.
I was over at my email marketing provider, Mailerlite, earlier and deleted 25 or so subscribers (note the “clean up inactive” section in the screenshot).
After that cull, I was left with 256 subscribers, which is pretty small. However, the average open rate and average click rate of the newsletter shows above-average percentages. I was not aware of just how good they were until I read this report on email marketing benchmarks.
Pinterest and TailWind
I had used Pinterest for my private use before I launched the astrology website, so I was familiar with how it worked. Signing up for a business account gives you access to statistics and analytics about the account, and allows you to create rich pins (if you have your own website and attach it to your Pinterest account).
Evergreen content tends to do very well on Pinterest, although it can take a while for a pin to “catch on”. Topical content also has the potential to do very well, for a short time. For example, I will pin an infographic about Full Moons dates for the current year, and that pin will do well as it is of interest to people and is current.
Pinterest tends to reward accounts that post often, or perhaps it is just that by posting more often, there are greater chances of your content or account being found and followed. I tend to like to go to Pinterest and do a blitz of posting all at once, and then leave it for a little while. This is not the optimal way to do it though.
Instead of pinning 100 pins once a week in one sitting, I would be far better off pinning 12 pins or so every day for a week. Even better would be to spread those 12 pins out over different times of the day.
This is where a content scheduler is invaluable, as you can schedule content in one sitting, to be posted at set times in the future. While Buffer is an excellent tool to schedule your content to Pinterest, when it comes to sharing the content of other Pinterest accounts, Tailwind is better.
It may sound strange to talk about sharing the content of others and using a scheduler to do so. However, it is suggested that your pinning should comprise of 80% other people’s pins and 20% of your content.
Finding and pinning images that will be of interest to your followers and potential followers, gives you a higher chance of them repinning your images and following your account. The Scullywag Astrology Pinterest account has boards not just on astrology topics, but also other new age topics like numerology, tarot, feng shui, Chinese astrology, meditation, crystals, essential oils and much more. People interested in these topics may also be interested in astrology.
I use Tailwind to find and schedule new content. Tailwind makes the process quick and easy for me. They also have tribes, where you can join or set up your own group of Pinterest users pinning similar or complementary content. This saves time looking for relevant content to pin, and your content may be repinned by other tribe members.
Tailwind is a partner of both Pinterest and Instagram and offers tools like smart scheduling, analytics & monitoring, content discovery, and promotion. You can get a free month of Tailwind Plus by using my link. Tribes are free to join, and when someone joins using your link, they get a free month of Tailwind Plus and you get a credit.
Facebook Page and Group
I actually started with a Facebook Page first, and then built the website. While people are unlikely to visit your website on a regular basis, without being prompted by social media, a lot of people are on Facebook every day. As the largest social media network, it makes good sense for most businesses to have a Facebook Page.
However, Facebook is unlikely to show your posts to all your followers. In fact, with Facebook organic (unpaid) reach (how many people see your posts) declining steadily, only about 6% of your followers might be seeing your posts.
Having a Facebook Group connected to your Facebook Page is another chance to have your audience see your posts. Although there are fewer people in the Scullywag Astrology Facebook Group, I see more interaction on the content I post to the group than I do to the page (I will often post the same thing to both places).
With Facebook Groups, you can also set up units of educational content for your group members. I use this as an area to post links to astrology basics articles I have written. This is a great opportunity to have information that group members are interested in all set up in one place.
Facebook is starting to bring in some restrictions with groups as well. Some of these were well overdue, with people unable to just add people to a Facebook group. Now, someone cannot be added to a group until they accept an invitation or apply to join a group themselves.
Facebook Messenger Chatbot and Broadcasting
I added a Facebook Messenger Chatbot to my Facebook Page to answer questions that I was frequently asked. I decided against it after a while, as people just wanting to leave a plain comment had to navigate a few screens to do so. That is not to say that it wouldn’t be suitable for other Facebook Pages though.
What I really do like, and is included in the chatbot set-up is the ability to broadcast to subscribers. When I have posted a new article or horoscope on the website, I send out a “broadcast” to my subscriber list.
The software I use has the ability to personalise the content (address the subscriber by name, send only content that they have expressed an interest in etc) and you can choose to have the notification sent out like a normal message or a silent message (a notification will show up, but it won’t make the notification sound).
I haven’t made a big effort to publicise the messenger subscription service, although I do link to it in every weekly horoscope. The audience (broadcast list) is small, but it seems to go down really well with the people that are subscribed.
I will usually get at least one or two comments from subscribers thanking me for sending the message to them. I suspect that receiving the notifications through messenger, and by using their first name in the Facebook messages make them feel like it is a more personal message.
I have also toyed with the idea of web push notifications. This is when a website asks for permission to send a notification to your browser when you publish new content.
There is the ability for the subscriber to unsubscribe or pause the notifications, but a lot of the initial sign-ups look to be too easily made by people pushing the subscribe button when something pops up. Some may think that they are just giving permission to accept cookies (without really looking at what the pop up mentions) and then become resentful about being subscribed.
I may look into signing people up for web push notifications if I can find a clearer and less aggressive way to have them sign up.
Video and Podcasting
Posting to YouTube can be very rewarding if you have good content, that is presented well and promoted right. I started the Scullywag Astrology YouTube Channel and was posting weekly horoscopes there.
Initially, I was accepted in the YouTube Partner Program which allows you to monetize your videos. This was rather fun, as even just a few views would seem to amount to some small change. However, YouTube changed its Partner Program requirements and it was necessary to have more than 4,000 watch hours in the previous 12 months and more than 1,000 subscribers, and so I was demonetized.
That doesn’t mean that YouTube isn’t an awesome way to promote your content though. Just as I took the article I wrote about planets and segmented it into many different pins for Pinterest, I have the ability to repurpose articles the same way on YouTube.
For an article on “What Kind of Mom You Are According To Your Zodiac Sign”, I started to do individual videos for each of the zodiac signs. They rated ok, especially considering they have had little to no promotion apart from a few times when they were initially released.
I was also releasing weekly horoscopes (repurposed from the weekly horoscopes I posted on the website) but after a few years of doing this, I think my time would be better used promoting article content rather than the weekly horoscopes. Video content about evergreen topics (like The Aries Mom etc) has the potential to grow over time, whereas the weekly horoscopes have such a short shelf life and I was not getting the traction I wanted from them.
I also tried my hand at podcasting and quite enjoyed it. However, I feel for me, and the Scullywag Astrology website, podcasting is best left to evergreen topics and significant astrology events rather than weekly horoscopes.
One thing that excites me is the possibility of recording podcasts using Zoom video. The quality is very good, and you can record video and then later separate your audio from the recording. This way you could record yourself, or a group of people on Zoom, and upload the video to YouTube and the audio to a podcasting channel.
I also use Zoom to record videos for astrology clients. As I can share my desktop, they can see my astrology software as I explain different events, using different charts. It is as effective as if they were sitting right beside me.
I also use Zoom to provide live video consultation with my astrology clients. I record the consultations and am able to send them a copy of the recording to them after the consultation is done.
While Facebook Live videos tend to do extremely well, it can be rather nerve-racking. I personally find that I take a little while to calm down and start enjoying Facebook live. What I like to do for some astrology events, is use Zoom to record my astrology software on my desktop and discuss what is happening, and then upload the video to the Scullywag Facebook Page and/or Group.
Google My Business and Search Console
Google My Business is invaluable for businesses, but especially bricks and mortar businesses or those that serve a specific community or area.
Scullywag Astrology provides only online services but is still able to take advantage of the free service.
Setting up the Scullywag Astrology My Business account gives people googling the business name a snapshot of the business. From the google search page, customers can message me directly, phone me, or go directly to my website.
It gives the hours of operation, with the option to set holiday hours or closures.
I can post snippets of articles on there with a read more button that will take them to my website. You can also post events and set up product posts with buy links that go directly to that website page.
Customers can leave reviews for your business there and you can respond to them.
There is a My Business app that you can download which notifies you when someone leaves a review and gives you access to statistics and analytics about how many people are searching for your business and what actions they take (visit website, ring, ask for directions and photo views) after viewing your My Business account.
The app also gives you a brief rundown on any connected YouTube channel and has it set up for you to advertise your business with Google ads easily.
Google Search Console gives a detailed overview of how your website is ranking. It tells you which keywords your website is ranking for as well as who is linking to your website. Search Console will also notify of you of any website problems you need to address such as mobile responsiveness, indexability issues, or missing pages.
Scullywag Services received a huge boost in website visits after being added to a well-respected horoscope directory website. Depending on your industry, and affiliations, there are likely to be similar websites that list professionals in a specific field, local directories or groups.
If you can put yourself in the shoes of your ideal customer, and imagine where he or she would start to look to find you online, is where you need to start.
Guest posting on other websites, or co-hosting a video or podcast with people in a similar and complementary field to yours can also be rewarding.
Building Relationships with other Bloggers
Social media is very much about being social. It is very easy to just post and run when on social media platforms, and I have been guilty of that myself on occasions.
Taking the time to find and share the content of others in your field, and interact with followers goes a long way. Initially, I found Twitter a little “cold” for my liking.
Over time I found that some people would share my content, and I would share theirs. Relationships were built, and I quite like that the astrology community is willing to share each other’s posts. There are a few other Twitter accounts, from other New Age categories that sometimes share content too, and I will reciprocate.
I find myself in the strange situation of having more Twitter followers than some of these accounts, but they may have a larger Facebook, Instagram or other social media profile. I prefer to only post astrology themed content on my Facebook Page, but do make it a point to follow the accounts of those other New Age bloggers and like and/or comment on their posts where and when I can.