Let me say this first – a blog is not going to make you rich overnight. And it’s not going to be entirely easy. But if you enjoy writing, love learning more about technology, and are determined to give it an honest go – you really can make a legitimate income with blogging. That’s why I want to share more about how to start a blog so you can stay home with your children and make a side income like I do.
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Choose Your Niche
You can seriously blog about anything – your pets, kids, education, politics, travel, anything. I personally have blogged about kids, essential oils, education, family, faith, friendship, working from home, marriage, and much more.
That being said – I’ve also learned that on this blog the only posts that do particularly well are the ones on parenting and essential oils. So I’ve been putting more of my focus on those two areas. After all – I’ve got over 300 posts live – and if my readers want parenting and essential oils, who am I to argue with them? Those are the posts that get the most pageviews, so I should give the readers what they want!
What does this mean? You can blog about anything! You may even want to commit to a regular blogging schedule on a variety of topics to see which ones “stick”. Once you know, you can write more about those topics.
Pick a Name
Now that you know what you’re going to be blogging about, come up with a name. Don’t make it overly cutesy and stick with typical spellings. You want it something people can easily remember. To be totally honest – this blog doesn’t have the best name. It’s long and not unique. I’ve actually bought the domain www.hojoslife.com and redirected it here. I thought that *might* make it easier for people to find and/or remember me.
Make sure that name is available. Do a Google search. Check a few different social media platforms. A LOT of names are taken, but there are still plenty of options out there.
Buy Your Domain
Now that you have a blogging topic – it’s time to buy your domain. It’s important to own your .com No one wants their blog to by www.myblogname.blogspot.com You just want it to be www.MyBlogName.com It’s easier to remember, looks more professional, and you can set it up in just a few moments with a Google search.
I have personally bought all of my domain names through GoDaddy. I know some people don’t like them, but I have not had an issue.
Choose Your Platform
There are going to be many blogging experts out there telling you that you have to be on WordPress to have a successful blog. And they’re right, and wrong. You do not need to be on any specific platform. However, a WordPress blog does allow you to customize and monetize more easily. That being said, I was on the Blogger platform from 2011-2015. My income from blogging did not suddenly take off and become some magical number when I switched to WordPress in 2015.
Truth be told, if I knew what I now know about SEO, I probably would have stayed on Blogger. With many of the great templates you can get for Blogger today, it looks just as professional and polished as many WordPress sites. Plus I found it more user friendly.
However, if you do want to switch to WordPress (that’s where two of my three blogs currently are), then I recommend BlueHost or LinkSky for hosting. I use BlueHost on this blog and LinkSky on my teaching blog. I’ve never had a problem with either one, but please keep in mind I’ve currently not had more than 100,000 pageviews on either blog in any given month. As your site grows, you may need to switch to a larger package.
Make It Pretty
Speaking of being polished. I highly recommend the Georgia Lou Templates if you go with Blogger. I’ve bought three of them and used them with great success! They’re super easy to install (even by yourself), include great directions, and they offer great support if you simply can’t get it on your own.
If you want someone else to do the design work for you, Becca at Jumping Jax Designs is amazing to work with! I’ve worked with three different designers, and she’s by far the most professional and easiest to work with.
Grab Social Media
Now that you have a name and everything is “pretty” (aka branded), it’s time to grab all of your social media platforms. Save your name (or a shortened version of your name) to the major platforms – Facebook, Twitter, Pinterest, Instagram, and whatever other platforms you like to use regularly.
Alright – it’s not quite as simple as just writing, but that’s going to be the main thing. Aim for articles of at least 300 words, although anything up to 2000 words may make sense – depending on your topic. Make them useful to others and always include at least one image. Write regularly. For me that has meant anywhere from twice a month to three times a week (things get busy with two little ones underfoot!). Choose a publishing schedule and stick to it!
Learn SEO Basics
Keep in mind search engine optimization (or SEO). That one little tip can make or break you. You want your blog to show up in search engines. Knowing even just the basics of SEO will help you tremendously. If you use Blogger, I highly recommend you buy this ebook I wrote. If you’re using WordPress, make sure you download the free Yoast SEO plugin. You’ll be on the right track from the beginning (which I was NOT, unfortunately – and playing catch up is not fun!).
Get on Pinterest
While there are going to be some bloggers that tell you Facebook is where it’s at, I personally get 80% of the traffic from all three of my blogs due to Pinterest. It’s a worthwhile platform to learn!
I’ve actually taken three different Pinterest courses, so read below to see which one is the right fit for you.
- Simple Pin Media Master Course
- I completed this course in 2016 and then reread the key points in July 2017. Plus I belong to a Facebook group Kate runs.
- Kate from Simple Pin Media runs a virtual assistant business around Pinterest. She has a large team of people that manage over 50 accounts. She has great info, and I really enjoyed this course. It was definitely the starting point for me as I took Pinterest to the next level. Plus she provides great information in her Facebook group and others are always available to answer Pinterest questions you may have. (Or use the search feature within the group to find answers to your questions.)
- Blog Clarity’s Pinning Perfect
- I completed this course in September 2017, plus I belong to their secret Facebook group where they update information.
- Everyone says this is the Pinterest course to take. I found the information very worthwhile. They have insider information from Pinterest (or at least they claim to), and they keep the course and videos updated. While I took this course a year after the one above, it didn’t change my strategy too much. However, I would recommend this one over Simple Pin because it feels more thorough. (Plus they’ve already sent out two updates in the first six weeks of me owning the course.)
- Pinteresting Strategies eBook
- I read this ebook in October 2017.
- If you’re not yet ready to invest in a scheduler (Tailwind or BoardBooster), then this is the Pinterest course for you! Carly does everything through manual pinning. While I haven’t personally tried her method, I did gain some solid ideas from reading her ebook. Plus this one is definitely the most budget friendly of the three options I’ve listed.
Decide How to Monetize
There are a variety of ways to make money with your blog. You can use ads on your sidebar, but you need quite a few pageviews before this is worthwhile. Or you can do sponsored posts. While I’ve done some of this in the past, it’s not something I love doing and something I’ll definitely be more picky about in the future.
My favorite means of monetizing is affiliate income. I took a course going through the entire process, and I highly recommend it. Michelle outlines everything you need to know and she’s great at keeping a large list of affiliates up to date so you can easily find companies to work with. Check out Making Sense of Affiliate Marketing if this is an area you want to monetize and make money through.
This post should have you well on your way to starting a blog. With commitment, you can do this! It’s not going to be easy, but it’s a path I started down over six years ago – and I have no intention of stopping anytime soon! Yes, the extra money it has given my family is amazing, but I also will never be able to replicate the information I’ve learned or the friendships I’ve gained.