Somehow, over the past year, my blog went from being about how I can help others’ live a simpler life, sharing what my journey to simplify has been like, and what God is doing in my life, to being about how to make money with my blog.
A Simple Life Too became a “Beast” when I stopped blogging about my heart and what I wanted to write about and it became about “how can I make some money.”
I am sorry.
So, I am sort of starting over again.
No, I won’t get rid of the content I currently have, as some of it really is useful. But I am going back to why I am writing in the first place – by making sure everything I post is because I want to post it, because I hope it really is something that might be useful to others, and / or it is something that truly brings me joy.
I also am not going to fight my life to post more often.
I have a baby. I have three other children. I homeschool, nurse the baby, clean the house, spend time with my husband, and have quality time and conversation with the folks in my church community.
I live, then I write. I can not continue to live to write.
I will write about our homeschool experience, from the humble perspective of what I have learned so far and what God is showing me WE should do.
I will write about what God is doing in my life and speaking truth. I will probably write about the Biblical holidays.
I might write about how I am working with my children and trying to encourage them. I might also write about our issues with food and how we are trying to eat healthier… and sometimes failing miserably.
I might write about how I really want to go to Disneyland / Disneyworld or some other aspect of my desire to travel. I might still write about trying to work from home… and what has worked and hasn’t worked for us there so far.
I might even come up with something new. We will see…
I would love to hear from you. What did you like and/or did not like from A Simple Life Too this year.
I have stated before that I am not a fan or frequent user of grocery coupons. I mostly purchase base foods and find store brands a better deal (most of the time, not always) than a name brand, even with a coupon.
I Like Coupons For Big Ticket Items
However, to be very very transparent, there is a time that I do use coupons – whenever I purchase just about anything else! When we go out to dinner, the first thing I look for is a coupon for a couple of places we would like to go. Just recently, we went out to the Outback for my birthday. I manged to find a 15% off coupon for our meal!
If I need to get the oil changed, when it is time for my once per year mommy shopping spree, when we need a new item of furniture or housewares, I will be found on the internet and checking my files for coupons.
AnnCoupons.com is connected with Ann Media, a Blogger / Brand program with opportunities for: Giveaways, Sponsored Posts, Banner Rental, and Affiliate Programs. Sign up today to start getting advertiser opportunities for your blog.
Disclosure: This is a sponsored post through AnnCoupons.com. I only choose to do sponsored posts from brands and companies that I do or would use.
I am going to be blunt, I wasted two years blogging.
It wasn’t that the blogging was a waste, but how I did it, giving up and taking long breaks, and the things I was not willing to do to actually make it work and successful, that is what was a waste.
If you are starting blogging or even have been blogging for years, I want to share a few things with you that I WISH I had known a couple of years ago when I started blogging.
Disclosure: Some of these links are affiliate links.
I Was Not Willing To Invest In Myself, I Was Not Teachable
I was convinced that I was so very smart and that I could figure out this blogging thing all on my own. I didn’t need any books, I rarely read site dedicated to teaching blogging, and I really just thought that I would do it my way and it would be great.
Well, it wasn’t great. My blog looked amateur, although there was a few good posts there was no real theme or order to my site, and I really did not know what I was trying to do with it or where I was going.
Once I was humbled and realized that I needed some help, I:
Joined some FB Groups like the Inspired Bloggers Network
I learned a LOT in a very short time and I continue to learn now, it is part of my weekly blogging routine.
I Could Not Accept That I Would Need To Invest Some Money
I was convinced that I could build a business without investing one penny into it. Although starting a business on a shoestring or bootstrapping are good concepts, they don’t mean don’t invest a single penny. They just mean you might be able to start a business for $10 or $50 or $100 vs. $1000s.
Once I spent a few dollars on stock photos, useful books, getting my domain name and moving my blog to a host, I found my blog really started to grow and many more opportunities started to come my way.
I Wish I Had Purchased My Domain And Setup A Blog Host
I started my blog on WordPress.com because it was free. I won’t say it was a total mistake, but going back, I would have just started with a domain name and host from the beginning. The cost for a domain name can be as little as $2.00 and maybe as much as $20.00 per year. The cost for a host for a small blog is from $5.00 (which is all I am paying now) to $20 per month. A very small investment.
I Wish I Had Learned To Use Graphics And Pinterest From The Beginning
I was so sure that I could grow my blog by sharing it with my friends on FB and they would share with all their friends and so on. Well, when crickets kept chirping when I shared on FB, I realized that there was a lot more I would need to do.
I joined some FB Groups, started participating and sharing my posts. I also finally go into Pinterest and saw the need for me to improve my graphics so that my posts would be “pinnable.” I started using a free online app called Canva to make my graphics, occasionally purchasing some quality stock photos from them. I have seen some amazing work done with Pic Monkey on other people’s blogs.
I Wish I Hadn’t Spammed!
Unfortunately, when I got frustrated with my friends and family not really paying attention to my blog and not sharing much, I started spamming some blogs, groups, etc… My mindset was still focused on myself – come look at me – vs really caring about the people around me, what they needed, and if I was providing something useful for them. Changing my mindset changed how I approached promotion and I try to do it, in a real, organic way – but I probably haven’t perfected that yet.
Blogging Helps – Use Them Now!
There are so many sites, groups and resources out there to help bloggers. I wish I had taken the time to tap into these much sooner. I am still using many of them!
Blogging has become one of the biggest industries on the web. Mom blogging is one of the biggest niches within the blogger community. If you have wanted to start blogging, and just need a few helps to get started, then you have come to the right place. I am not a BIG blogger, but I have learned a few things along the way that could be of help to you, the new blogger, to get started and maybe even make some money blogging.
Decide What You Want to Blog About
As with any business or other endeavor, you need to have a vision for where you are going. Who are you and what do you want to share with your friends and family, your like-minded community, or the world? Before you setup your blog, write your first post, etc… Take a few minutes, close your eyes and dream – what do I want my blog to look like in a year or so? Now start writing down those ideas and let it form into an overall vision.
Using my blog as an example, my overall vision is: A Simple Life Too is for anyone who would like to learn how to make their life less complicated and more simplified. Whether this means decluttering and getting rid of stuff, getting out of debt and getting rid of an entitlement mentality, finding things, solutions and hacks to make things a little easier, or letting go of wrong thinking, this blog’s vision is to be a help and resource.
After you have the initial vision, break it down into simple, granular concepts. Again, using my blog as an example, I wanted specifically to write about:
Saving money, living frugally and simply
Making simple foods, making menu planning, shopping, etc… easy
Being able to help others
Encouraging my children and keeping them productive
Share what God is doing in my life
Share about how we try to deal with illnesses naturally
How to work at home and keep it simple
This became the categories of writing that I would mainly focus on, giving direction to my blog and allowing me to brainstorm lots of post ideas. If you are not to sure how to brainstorm, let me know. I would love to help.
Disclosure: Some of the links in this post are affiliate links.
Get a Host
Although you can blog for free on WordPress.com or Blogger, if you want your blog to be more than for friends or family and/or your vision for your blog includes making money from it, then I highly recommend that you setup you blog from the beginning with your own, unique domain name, and you hire / purchase a host company to host your blog. The cost for a domain name can be anywhere from $2.00 to $20.00 per year and the cost for a host for a small blog is from $5.00 to $20 per month. Very inexpensive if you consider what it costs to start a more traditional business.
This is probably the hardest part for those w/o a technical background and are new to blogging – setting up your blog for the first time. While there are other software choices out there, I recommend that you create your blog with WordPress.
All the hosts I mentioned above have WordPress available (usually included in your hosting package) and I believe (please correct me if you find I am wrong) they all have a one-click install to setup WordPress on the host. Each of the hosts should also have (free) tutorials and help pages to walk you through the process.
However, if you would feel more comfortable, you can pay the host, or an experienced blogger that hires out for that kind of work, a small fee to set it all up for you.
Write Your First Post
You have a vision and now it is time to start on the path to making that vision a reality.
If the tutorials to setup your WordPress install did not include how to write a post, then you should search for one now (either in your host’s help database or through the internet). If you can write an email, you can write your first blog post with WordPress! However, you will want to learn more about what is available to you, so a tutorial or two is very useful.
As for the content of your post, go back now to your vision and your concepts. Your first post could be introducing your blog to the world and including that vision and concept list, or you could pick one of the concepts and start with it. Whatever you do, your post should be at least 250 / 300 words and for starters, probably not more than 1000 (there are times to do more, like the post I am writing, but probably not your first one). Make sure you stick to one theme, thought, concept – with the rare exception, posts should not weave in and out of various topics – no bunny trails!
Also, consider your title: Would you want to read the post if you saw that title on the web? Sometimes your title is all you have get people to read, so make it clear and concise.
Oh, one really important point: SAVE every 10 to 15 minutes while writing. Nothing is worse than a computer crashing, the phone ringing, the children crying or whatever, only to come back and find your post is gone. I have already saved this post 8 times!
Add A Graphic To Your First Post
In today’s world of 1000s of things vying for our attention, using a graphic with a blog post to draw attention to it is almost required. There are many ways to get and create graphics. You can create your own from scratch, using your own photos or purchasing photos. You can also create with clip-art and using graphic art software. If you have some experience with graphic arts, then this step will be easy. If you are like me, however, you could use a little help.
I use Canva to create most of my graphics. Canva is free to use with your own photos and they have a limited selection of free text and clip art. They also sell stock photos for $1 each. I use my own photos about 50% of the time and purchase Canva’s about 50% of the time. I think I have spent less than $20 on graphics this year.
Some bloggers love Pic Monkey. They have a free option or an inexpensive subscription option that allows the use of advanced graphic editing tools and such.
Promote Your First Post
Now that you have written your first post and clicked the publish button (if you haven’t clicked the publish button, do so now), how do you actually get people to read it?
I have found the best way to get folks to start reading my posts is to share it with people I know, and some I don’t, through social media. I would be a bit surprised if you have not ever used any social media, so I will make the assumption that you are familiar with at least one of the following:
Facebook – Share your first post with your personal friends and family and ask them to read it and give feedback. However, don’t be discouraged if not many respond. There is an audience out there for your blog. Create a professional / business page and join some FB groups that are relevant to your blog topic / topics. You might be able to share your posts in some of those groups.
Pinterest – If you are already on Pinterest, then you probably have friends and family following you. Go ahead and pin the graphic that you created to one of your Pinterest boards or create a new board just for your blog. If you haven’t joined Pinterest and you are a female – do so now. Pinterest is currently one of the hottest ways to promote blogs. You can also join group Pinterest boards (I will share a resource at the end of this post on how to find some).
Google+ – There is lots of debate on the usefulness of Google+, but I use it because 1) Google is the major player in search engines and I know posting to Google has some tie into the search engine. 2) Because I can see that people are viewing my posts to Google+, I just don’t know what the conversion is to people coming to my blog and actually reading the post.
Twitter – I do not use Twitter, but I know some folks have 1000’s of followers and find this a good way to promote posts.
There are other social media venues, but I am not as familiar with them. If you are on something else, use it!
Monetizing Your Blog and Posts
If you want to make money with your blog, I recommend starting to monetize it from the beginning, even if you are only making a $1 per month to start. It helps set expectations that your blog is, at least to some degree, about making a living and that readers will be used to affiliate links and ads as part of your blog.
There are many ways to make money with your blog, but I am only covering a couple of ways for now.
Affiliates – These are folks that you choose to partner with. You then place text links, coupons and/or banners on your site and/or in your posts. Usually, when someone purchases something through your affiliate, you get a % commission. Amazon.com is one of the biggest affiliates out there. Here are some other affiliates worth checking into:
Moms Affiliate – Moms affiliate is one of my favorites because it is a hybrid of the 3 methods of monetizing your blog that I am sharing today. They have affiliate programs that are very mom-centric, a small advertising network, and they have opportunities for sponsored posts.
Commission Junction – literally has 1000s of brands available to partner and affiliate with. Are you writing a blog post about people with vision issues? This would be a place to find companies that sell glasses.
Share A Sale – also has 1000s of brands available to partner and affiliate with, but I also like the fact that many of the brands pay bloggers to send affiliates to the program.
Ebates – Ebates is an especially a good affiliate if you are going to write about any products that can be purchased online. Ebates gives people coupons and cash back on their online purchases, so it blends in good with review sites, fashion sites, book sites, gadget sites, etc….
Note: all of these programs are free to join. You should never have to pay to join an affiliate program. Ebates will pay you $10 to join them.
Ads – The most popular ad program is Google Adsense. However, it is not always the most profitable. Moms Affiliate, as I mentioned above, makes me more money. So does selling my own ads. You must be on your own host to run Adsense and related ads.
Sponsored Posts – Many companies like the feel of a sponsored post vs. advertising to get their message across. One example of a sponsored post can be a company giving the blogger free product(s), and then the blogger tells about the product and experience. Another can be that the sponsor company pays a cash fee to have the blogger write a post that highlights the company’s product within a useful, informational post.
I currently use IZEA and Moms Affiliate to find sponsored post opportunities. There are other sites too. Sponsorship opportunities are fairly limited until one reaches about 10,000 view per month to their blog.
For Further Blog Education, A Couple Of Books, Groups And Sites I Recommend
I hope you find this post a great starting point for your blogging career. However, there is so much more to learn and if you really want to be successful, you need to continually invest in your knowledge and skills. I have a few books, FB Groups, and web sites that I recommend to help you on your path.
How to Blog for Profit w/o Losing Your Soul – The writer, Ruth Soukup is a very successful blogger with over a million views per month to her site, LivingWellSpendingLess. Her book starts off with assuming you have been blogging for a couple of months and does not cover any sort of blog start and setup. However, it is still worth a read from near to the beginning of your blog endeavors, as she goes in depth into creating your brand, your topics, what a great, share-able post should look like, how to use social media, and how to make some money with your blog.
ProBlogger – ProBlogger is the biggest “how to blog” site out there and may also be the most read book in the category. Co-authors Darren and Chris start the book for the new blogger and take you from conception to setup to promotion to making money, Even though I have been blogging for 3 years, I still have much to learn from this book.
Inspired Bloggers Network – I would not be where I am today if I had not discovered the Inspired Bloggers Network FB Group. Actually, I was commenting on another blog’s post (lamenting really) and she told me about it. The community is so helpful to each other and will answer almost any question. Just be sure to read the rules before posting.
Pinterest Collaborators – If you remember, I mentioned before that I had a great place to get included in some Pinterest Group boards? Well, this is the place!