So You Want to Start Blogging?
I’ve been asked on several different occasions about my blog. I love when people ask me about my blog, because blogging has the potential to change my life dramatically and I really want others to be able to have the same effect.
I started blogging in February of 2016. I’m no pro. Far from it in fact, but I have learned tons in these past 4 1/2 months. I’m what “they” call a newbie blogger, but I still have a lot of helpful advice I can share!
Okay, I have to begin by saying something super embarrassing. I have yet to make any money from blogging. Wait!!! Don’t leave! Most of the blogs you read that disclose their monthly income will tell you to not even try to monetize your blog until at least six months! In fact, one of my favorite bloggers Just a Girl And Her Blog will tell you that she didn’t make any money until six months into her adventure and now she’s pulling six figures. That being said, I have made a few cents from ads but I haven’t made a profit. Do you want to know why? Well I haven’t really done anything to make money yet (I’ll explain later).
So first thing you must know about blogging is it’s not just writing. Don’t just think, “wow I like writing. Why not get paid for it?!” Well that’s great and all, but there’s so much more to blogging than just writing good material. Don’t get me wrong… content is very important!! But there is setting up and maintaining a website, coding, scripting, marketing/advertising, tons of self promotion, constant social media involvement and social networking. The technical side of the blogging experience was seriously the most eye opening for me. I never thought about that being a huge part. Some of you may be thinking “of course it’s a huge part” …well…I had no idea.
The most important part to starting a blog is to pick your niche. Now of course your niche will evolve as you do, but you want to have some sort of starting point. I wanted to write about motherhood, pregnancy, parenting, recipes, children, home decor and the garden. I can’t believe I tried to do all of that! It makes me overwhelmed just thinking about. There are people who write about everything under the sun #allthethings. They call themselves lifestyle bloggers and they can be successful. However, most of the big time bloggers have a specific niche. My blog evolved because when I was trying to get followers my followers were confused. I had tons of mom bloggers attached to my page and then I’d throw some diy home decor down their throats and it wasn’t their cup of tea. I had to get specific. I cut out recipes, motherhood, pregnancy and parenthood. I chose what I liked the most and what I thought would generate the most income. I love talking about home decor, interior design, diy and beautiful spaces. My slogan is “make your house a home” . You don’t have to be an expert in your niche, but you have to want to become an expert in your niche. People can be successful in literally every single category. Here are a couple of popular categories : gaming, movies and television, fashion, motherhood, home decor, food, travel, animals/pets, politics, sports, fitness and money saving techniques. There are tons more, these are just the ones I’ve noticed doing the best. But like I said you can honestly make money blogging about anything. I came across one woman blogging about everything you can do with beets.
I set up my blog through Bluehost. You can set up your Bluehost website here. I work with WordPress. I paid for my domain. If you intend on being a serious blogger you NEED your own domain. It’s essential. However, it’s a lot of money to fork out in one fail swoop. Bluehost will tell you how great their program is because it’s only charges X amount of dollars a month. At the time of my purchase I believe it was $8 a month. ( I believe right now it’s only $4). You’re thinking, “hey that’s not bad” but then they make you pay it on an annual basis. So there goes about $100. My husband and I are in poverty…we’re well below the poverty line. So $100 was a hit for us. But I kept on thinking that in the long run the $100 will be nothing (hopefully).
Picking a domain name is tricky. And even when you do pick your domain name you’ll probably have several instances where you’ll regret it. I chose my name Just a Girl Winging Life. I love my name. But, there are two things majorly wrong with it;
1.) Nobody knows what I blog about: I want people to scroll through and see my name and know right away that I talk mostly about making your home beautiful. I know some bloggers like House of Turquoise, C.R.A.F.T or Kitchen Fun With My Three Sons. All of these blogs you can quickly figure out what they focus on. People are lazy. They don’t want to have to click on your name and scroll through your feed to figure out what your niche is. How dare I ask that much from people! (Check the sarcasm). But seriously though…I know I’ve been scrolling and I’m way too lazy to figure out what somebody is blogging about so I continue and I scroll right past. I might have lost some people due to their laziness. So you definitely want to think of a name that encompasses what you’re blogging about. Maybe I should have chosen something like Nicole’s Interiors. BUT originially I was blogging about everything in the world, so I didn’t want to be THAT specific. In hindsight I wish I would have been more specific.
And 2.) Do your research before you just create a domain name. No they won’t let you choose a name that is already taken, but they won’t stop you from coming close. Say you decide to write about motherhood and you want to brand yourself HowDoesSheDoIt. You think it’s great and wonderful and intriguing. Well…it is a great name. That’s why three ladies several years ago created a blog HowDoesShe. Or what if you want to start doing fixer uppers and you think Shabby to Chic is a great blog name! Well yeah…that’s why two sisters created Shanty2Chic and now have their own HGTV show “open concept”. What I’m saying is you have to do your research. You have to! So I created my name with no thought at all of Abby Lawson and her incredibly successful blog Just a Girl and Her Blog. And here’s the kicker…she even is in my same niche! Dang it!! So when I start getting super popular (which is the plan) I’m probably going to have to change my name and re-brand myself which just seems like the biggest headache of all time. I don’t want people to think I’m associated with Abby. Even though I love her. I want to be my own thing.
Before you can create a WordPress account though you will need an email. You may choose to use your personal email, but that is probably not the smartest for your business. You will want to attach your business email to everything so why not just make your email right now! So my blog name is Just a Girl Winging Life. So naturally my email is JustaGirlWingingLife@Gmail.Com. Go ahead and make your email through whatever email engine you would like to use just with your blog name. If your email is taken then that is probably a good indication to NOT use that blog name and to think of something more creative and unique (but easy to remember).
Now you can go and set up your domain name through Bluehost.
So there you go. You have niche, your domain name and you have your WordPress account and you’re ready to start making millions of dollars! Okay woah!!! You have a few more things to do before you write your first post and become the next big thing.
I decided to buy a theme for my website. If I had to do it again I would have used a free theme. There are a lot of really nice and professional free themes you can choose from through WordPress. I bought my child Genesis theme from Restored 316 designs. It was super cute and I was extremely excited AND on a plus it was only $45. That is a lot of money in my world, but most of the professionally designed themes out there are WAY more, so I thought I was getting a killer deal. My husband and I discussed the huge financial toll this would put on our family and I promised that I was going to be successful. I HAD to be! So I purchased my theme…and then the theme wouldn’t upload onto my website. And that’s when I figured out why the theme was SO cheap! Well…there was a reason that it was called “Child Theme”. In order to upload the file I had to purchase the licensing rights for the theme. In other words, the “Parent File.” Guess how much the parent file is? Around $60. I am not much a crier. In fact my husband says I am heartless (he tells me that lovingly). So the fact that I cried over this really shows how distraught I was. I called my mom because she is the best person to vent to. She decided to invest in my new little business and gave me $100! I think 20% of her believed in me and the other 80% was that she felt sorry for me. Whatever the reason…I will take her pity investment! If my mom wouldn’t have been so generous I would have done everything I could to return my theme and get a free theme. That being said, my paid theme is SO cute! And I love it! Just know that if it’s a Child Theme you WILL have to purchase the license as well.
I happily uploaded my parent file, followed by my child file. And then…the naive inexperienced Nicole was heartbroken when the theme looked nothing like the theme I purchased. My page was blank. This was just me not knowing ANYTHING about websites. I realized that I had to set up the entire website in order to look like the theme I purchased. Thankfully Resotred 316 Designs gives WONDERFUL step-by-step instructions to make your website look like what she had. BUT you will have to figure out a lot by yourself and kind of test things out and see what works for you and what doesn’t. There are still things that I am working on every single day with my website to make it exactly how I want.
If this blog post goes over well and I receive some positive feedback I would love to write a post dedicated to plug-ins for you website. A plug-in on your website is kind of like an app for your phone. You install a plug-in and it performs a certain function on your website that makes life easier or more interesting. I have several awesome plug-ins that help my blogging experience that I would love to share…only if people are interested.
Let’s recap, you have your niche, your email, your domain name and your theme all set up! That’s awesome! You are doing great!
Next you will want to create your social media accounts (you will need these to compete certain steps for you theme). Currently I have a Facebook, Twitter, Instagram and Pinterest Account. Pinterest is said to have the best results for blog traffic. Pinterest is nice because even when I am not doing anything my pins are being shared, saved and liked! Once again…depending on the feedback I receive from this post…I would love to do a post dedicated to being successful on all of the social media platforms.
Some social media platforms that people are involved in that I haven’t quite made my way into yet are Youtube (tutorials and reviews are really popular), SnapChat (some people SWEAR by this) and Linkdin. You can check these platforms out.
I think you are ready to write your VERY FIRST POST!! Yeah!!! I am so excited for you! Once again…I am NO pro. I am still learning and I am trying to do everything I can to become better. Content is of course important, but something that is also VERY important is the picture that goes a long with it. We are all very visual and if something looks pretty we want to learn more. This goes for any niche that you choose; food, fashion, animals, weddings, ect. This is one of my biggest weaknesses! I feel like I have a great content and then I am quite possibly the worst photographer on planet earth. I am getting better, but there is still SO much need for improvement.
Before you start inviting people to like your Facebook page, or before you start advertising your stuff you might want to have a few posts so that people have the opportunity to look around your site. Even if it’s really brand new you don’t want to look SUPER brand new. People will then think you are incredibly inexperienced (which you are, but you want to hide that). You want to people to think you are the expert in your field. Fake it until you make it!
Once you have probably 5-6 QUALITY posts then you can start advertising your stuff. Join Facebook blogging groups, invite your friends to like you Facebook page, add things to Pinterest and share your stuff on your business Facebook page.
One of my biggest mistakes starting out was the I was pushing my content down people’s throat (sorry for those I annoyed). I knew I had good stuff and I wanted everybody to love me. So I would share a post on my Facebook and then tag everybody I have ever met in my entire life on the post and then hopped that I would become a millionaire. Don’t do this. If you have good content people will come to you. If people aren’t coming to you then a.) you need to work on your content or b.) they aren’t the audience that you want. If you are blogging about gaming then you might not want to have your 80 year old great aunt Helga who doesn’t even know how to open her email account. There are some people that don’t like my stuff or who have unliked my Facebook page. That’s OKAY! I don’t want to read about your vegan diet, but that doesn’t mean you have bad content. Even if you think somebody would love your content…don’t directly share it with them. I promise…they will come to you. People want to like things on their own terms anyways.
Monetizing Your Blog
So here I keep on talking and all you want to know about is how you make money right?
Hey that’s why I started blogging! I didn’t want to JUST do it for fun! Except…it is a lot of fun. Right when it becomes not fun I am going to stop. It is a lot of fun and it is something I genuinely LOVE doing! It isn’t for everybody and that is OKAY. I don’t want everybody to love to blog, because then there wouldn’t be as much money in it! My husband and I are on one small income. We are well below the poverty line, because I am a stay at home mom. We chose to have me stay at home with my two beautiful children. However, I didn’t want to JUST be a stay at home mom. I still wanted to make an impact on my family and society. So when my kids are napping, they have fallen asleep or it’s the toddlers quiet time then I get to work on my blog here are there. The reason I haven’t made tons of money blogging is because this isn’t ALL of who I am. I am a mom. I am a wife. I take care of the house. I am CONSTANTLY cleaning! I do the dishes, the laundry, I cook, I entertain a two year old and a 10 month old, I do the yard work, house repairs and TONS of DIY and Home Decor projects. I don’t just sit at the computer ALL day and work on making money blogging. Sometimes I wish I had that kind of time, because I am pretty sure if ALL I did was blogging then I would be more successful. My children are the first priority…ALWAYS! I will ALWAYS go out and play at the park, the splash pad, the children’s museum or chase after them before I ignore them to sit at the computer. I have happily chosen my family over money (as it should be). I will make money blogging (I have 0 doubts) but it will just take me longer. What you have to remember when blogging is you HAVE to go at your own pace! I came across this one woman who has been blogging for 2 months and has already made a profit of $1000 a month! Well…she isn’t in school, nor does she have family. She has a part time job and then her full time job is blogging. She also is a web designer. So she is designing people’s web pages for the money. She is in a completley different situation and is in a completley different niche. Don’t compare yourself or you’ll go crazy! Eventually I would love to make $10,000 from my blog. That is my three year goal (maybe not realistic, but it’s my goal).
Blogging has ENDLESS possibilities when it comes to making money.
The first thing that most people do is Google Adsense (or other ad programs). Google Adsense is an ad program that all you do is place ads on your site and the more traffic you receive the more money you will get. And you REALLY want people to click on your ads, but here’s the catch: you will get kicked out if you tell people to click on your ads and you will get kicked out if you click on your ads. So just to be clear, this was not telling you to click on my ads. This was informing you of how it works. I have had ads on my account for about 3 months now and literally only make a couple cents a day. There was one day I made 0.72 cents and I had a mini party! I was super excited. Even the big time bloggers only make about $40 a month on ads. That is a very small amount when they are pulling $40-$60k in ONE MONTH! You heard me right! Some bloggers make that much in ONE MONTH! But ads are just not that big of part of their income.
A lot of bloggers sell items on their blogs in order to generate a really passive income. For instance people will write Ebooks (which is on my to-do list), they write ecourse (which I have already designs: You can Check it out here), or they sell products. For instance a lot of people who sell etsy also have blogs. So they have a blog creating products and then they sell those items they are blogging about. There are options of have e-commerce plugins on your blog to make selling items really easy and user friendly.
Many people write for brands and then charge for their post (for a certain amount of words). For instance they tell Sherwin Williams that they will use their paint and write a post with 300 words for $120. OR better yet the brands sometimes give the bloggers the paint for free and pay them for the post. Just a Girl and Her blog was donated 20 gallons of paint from Behr if she were to write three posts about their paint and take beautiful pictures. Brands are also a great way to get free things. Many bloggers get to decorate complete rooms for FREE because companies will furnish the rooms in exchange for advertisement. I would love to work with Target and get my living room decorated in exchange for posts about how awesome their stuff is. Writing about Target won’t be hard, because…uhh…who doens’t like Target? Working for brands seriously has endless possibilities. The only catch is that brands only want to work with you if you have a decent amount of followers, so you have to make connections and get followers before you will ever get accepted. This includes your mailing list. Writing for brands can work for fashion, food, travel, gaming and well…everything! There is a brand associated with each niche, so there is possibilities with brands no matter what you choose. I know a travel blogger that started working with a fashion company. She started wearing their brand around the world and then taking pictures in places around the world wearing their brand. I thought that was a super cool idea! She was getting paid AND getting free clothes. Sometimes you have to get creative as to how a brand can help you and you can help them! Brands are looking for bloggers. They would LOVE advertisement without having to do much. You are their marketer.
Freelance writing: You can also write for companies. They give you a topic and you write for them. I don’t know much about this, but I know that this is a huge income for some people.
I really have been trying to get into affiliate programs. Tons of people have affiliate programs and if somebody uses your link and makes a purchase then you get a percentage of the sale (a commission). One of the largest ones is Amazon Associates. You place items onto your blog and if somebody purchases using your link then you will make a commission. I have yet to make anything from these links (sadly) but once I get a bigger following then I will have more potential to make money. Bluehost also have an affiliate program as well as most of the big time bloggers have an associate program with their ecourses and their ebooks. Before you advertise anything on your blog check to see if they have an affiliate program first. Why not get paid for your advertisement right?! Some big time bloggers only concentrate on affiliate programs and they make their complete income. I think that is awesome! Anytime you can create a system in which you are getting passive income it’s ideal and the best way to make money.
Webinars: Many bloggers host webinars. These webinars can be pretty much anything. They start off giving you a whole bunch of really helpful FREE information and then at the end they try to sell you something. And if you have really beneficial free information then people are going to want to purchase your paid information. The Nectar Collective did a webinar where she was teaching how to use Pinterest to become a successful blogger. Then at the end she had tons of services for sell. These services were around $200 and she sold like 10 packages. I don’t know if you guys know the math, but that’s $2,000 just from one webinar! I can’t do webinars at this point in my life considering my small children, but that is something that is certainly on my radar for the future.
Personal Coaching: Once I get better at this whole blogging thing I would LOVE to start selling my coaching! I can be a personal coach to anybody needing a little help with their blogging path. I think I have enough information and expertise to start coaching right now, but I don’t have the income reports to back up my knowledge. So once I start generating a steady income I will start advertising my awesomeness! If anybody would like to get paid coaching just give me a heads up and I can set up that program earlier than expected! I also am going to start coaching services for my actual niche. I would love to help people create a beautiful space. So I am going to start having people send me picture of their spaces and I am going to send them back design plans and give them decorating and interior design help! So if that is something you are interested in please email me JustaGirlWingingLife@gmail.com and we can set that up.
Like I said, I would love to write more about how to blog and helpful hints that I have learned a long the way. Please write me questions that you have with blogging and I would LOVE to answer them! For instance if you need more help with plugins or social media! Thank you for reading!
I have two awesome articles that are talking about how I started writing for the Huffington Post that I would love for you to check out as well