So you Want to Start a Blog–or Grow the One you Have?

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(post contains affiliate links: see disclosure)

Starting a blog is easy–growing one is another story.

Tips for starting or growing a blog.

 

How To Start A Blog

Starting a blog is as easy as 1. 2. 3. 4.

  1. Pick a domain name (blog name) and register it: I personally use Go Daddy.  This is so simple and inexpensive to do. Go Daddy often runs sales where you can register your domain name (blog name) for as little as $0.99.
  2. Pick a Web Host: I started out with BlueHost. It costs as little as $5.95 a month.
  3. Get started on WordPress.org: I started with a free WordPress template and saved up money until I could afford Genesis with the Prose child theme.
  4. Start blogging: I simply jumped right in (Yep, that is my first post. It makes me cringe, but I did it!). I learned as I went and I don’t regret it.

(and if you want to earn money from your blog, check out this post)

Where I was When I Decided to Start Blogging.

My Blogging Story

I am not one of those people that remembers where she was when life changing moments happen and yet I remember where I was the day I decided to start a blog.

I had been painting the badly damaged floors of our old home black so we could rent it out (we later sold it). I had an old outdoor furniture cushion under my knees and was rolling the black paint in the stubborn cracks.

This was the last job I needed to complete on this project and since I had been carving out 10 to 15 hours a week to renovate I was wondering what I could best do with that time now that it was no longer needed for painting.

As a Christian I had been praying to God for a few weeks an answer. Somehow while my mind was wandering as I was painting I thought about blogging. Could I start a blog? What would I blog about? Who on earth would want to read it? Could I really make money to help my family with a blog?

On and on went the questions for weeks as I researched blogging. I was filled with self doubt and one day it spilled out to my husband in ugly tears as I said–well let me give you the short version–“what if I fail?” My husband who heard the very long ugly cry rant turned to me and said, “You are not going to find that out unless you try first,” and then gave me an ultimatum: I had two weeks get my first blog post up–otherwise I had to stop talking about it.

And so I jumped in knowing very little about what I was doing. I learned and improved along the way.

Now I am almost finished 5 years of blogging and I love what I do. Blogging is the flexible job I hoped it would be. I am not one of those 6 figures a year bloggers. I am not even a 1/2 of 6 figures a year blogger, but I do make more per month than a full time minimum wage worker and I do it in less than 40 hours a week around my family’s needs.

If you have been on the fence about blogging for some time, I want to encourage you to give it a try–but don’t expect an immediate pay back for your time invested. Sure, some bloggers out there do earn amazing incomes their first year, but the vast majority do not…although there is a way of increasing your odds of succeeding.

If you have been blogging a short while and feel like you are getting no where–hang on. You can succeed if you give it just a bit more time and apply the tip I am sharing today.

How to Run a Profitable Blog that DOesn't Take Over Your Life.How To Run A Profitable Blog That Doesn’t Take Over Your Life

 

How to increase your odds of succeeding at blogging

Blogging is one of those careers where improving your skills will pay back over time. I rarely leave a blog post unchanged from the day it is published. To me this has been vital to my success. I have dozens of articles that were once getting little traffic until I changed the picture, re-worked the SEO, added value to the post with more research and helpful links, then re-shared it on all my social media platforms to finally have it take off and get thousands of visitors to it in a matter of days.

Some of those re-done posts are my biggest traffic drivers now, but they were traffic flops until I applied what I learned since I wrote them.

One Blogger's Journey to Earning a Full Time Income From her Blog--Plus What she Regrets not Doing Sooner.One Blogger’s Journey To Earning A Full Time Income From Her Blog

So how do you learn what you need to improve your skills?

Free Content

With a bit of time spent searching you can find all the information you need for free on the internet to improve your blogging skills. Going this route costs you time, but no money. Search for bloggers helping bloggers, blogging advice podcasts, and attend free webinars covering areas you wish to improve in (warning: most webinars end with a sales pitch for a paid course, still they do give away great tips at the beginning for free).

Pros--It is free.

Cons–It is hard to give depth to a topic in just one blog post or just one podcast. for that reason free help often leaves you having to fill in the gaps on your own.

Paid Courses

Normally paid courses go into greater depth than any free materials you find on the internet. I learned this when I spent $99 to have an in-depth blog review. What they showed me in their report about my blog helped me more than hours and hours of researching free blog help on the internet.

I made my $99 back in no time once I started implementing their suggestions.

Pros–You get in-depth help that can help you grow your blog faster

Cons–Paid courses often cost hundreds of dollars each and if you are not earning anything from your blog yet or even if you are, shelling out that kind of cash can be hard.

That is why I like to watch out for great deals on blogging courses like the one I recently got with the Genius Blogger’s Toolkit. I was able to pick up 62 blogging courses for just $97. That is like paying for one course and getting 61 more for free!

Tips on growing your blog | Snail Pace Transformations

So how do you find out about such sales? Sign up for my weekly newsletter  and when one comes up I will be sure to share it with you. Deals this big don’t come up often but when they do they are worth grabbing.

Some inexpensive eBooks to jump start your blog’s growth

If you simply cannot afford paid blogging courses, but you do have some money to spend then eBooks on blogging topics can be a great option. They will be more in depth than a blog post but generally under $10 and can be as low as .99 cents.

I have read each and every eBook on this list and found them helpful for growing my blog. Some like Blogging For Profit caused my blog to grow by leaps and bounds.

Blog Growth

Blogging For Profit Without Losing Your Soul

Delicious Blogging:The Ingredients You Need To Create A Better Blog

The 15 Success Traits of Pro Bloggers: A Proven Roadmap to Becoming a Full-Time Blogger

Platform: Get Noticed in a Noisy World

iBloom in Business: Equipping You to Build a Successful Business while Living a Life You Love!

You Are a Writer (So Start Acting Like One)

Networking

How to Talk to Anyone: 92 Little Tricks for Big Success in Relationships

Time Management

21 Days To A More Disciplined Life

Time Management Mama: Making Use of the Margins to Pursue your Passions

psst….. Before my blog started generating an income I would used gift cards for Amazon earned through point programs like these ones to fund blogging eBook purchases.

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How I Am Cutting My Blog Work In Half During A 5 Month RV Trip With The Family

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(post contains affiliate links: see disclosure)

Since my birthday in March of this year our family has been planing a once in a lifetime RV trip. For five months all five of us will be living in a 27 foot trailer as we make our way across the United States, up the west coast and into Canada.

After visiting family and friends in Canada we will head back through the states, hitting a few key state and national parks before returning to our home in Indiana.

We have figured out how to finance the trip, we have figured out what RV, we have purchased most of the supplies, we have even figured out the route and where we are staying for almost the entire trip.

Only a few questions need to be answered and one of the biggest ones is how will I blog?

How one blogger plans to cut her blog work in half.

 

How I Am Cutting My Blog Work In Half During A 5 Month RV Trip With The Family

Currently I work 20 to 30 hours a week on average on the blog. That equals as much as 5 hours a day if you factor in that I usually take one full day off the blog each week.

I thought at first I could blog 2 hours in the morning and perhaps 2 hours in the evening while we traveled–which would mean I would be able to keep similar hours. Then my husband and I started planning out what we wanted to see and we both realized that I am going to be lucky to have an hour in in the morning and an hour in the evening.

So how do I go from working 5 hours a day to 2 hours a day?

I don’t want to miss out on anything during this trip. I want to be fully present.  So here is a list my husband and I came up with to make it easier for me to do just that.

1. Cut Back On Posting

As of January 1st I will go from posting 3 days a week to 2 days a week. One post will be a trip update for all of my blog readers that want to tag along on our adventure and the other post will be a evergreen style post for readers who love my help with being thrifty and keeping their homes and lives in order.

I have read reports from other bloggers and most state that their traffic was only minimally effected. I will be fully testing their reports.

2. Fill Some Content Spots With Guest Posting

I have been blogging for over 4 years now and have yet to have a guest post on my blog. The reason why has been a toss up between “do I have the traffic to really help out another blogger?” and “do I really need guests posts when I have so many ideas of things to share?”

Now that I have built this blog up to 3,000 to 5,000 page views daily and I am going to be traveling the answers to both those questions are “yes” instead of “no.”

I would like to feature a guest post every other week, saving me from having to write 2 evergreen posts a month. Bloggers, don’t submit your guest ideas yet as I need to nail down some submission guidelines first–I hope to have those done by the beginning of December.

3. Automate Pinterest

When it comes to Pinterest, I still pin everything by hand. I get amazing Pinterest traffic and because of that I have hesitated about jumping on the pin schedule bandwagon for quite a while.

After playing around with several different scheduling platforms I have decided to use Board Booster it works very similar to how I pin already and it seems to be as close to “set it and forget it” as I am going to get.

4. No BIG project for first half of 2017

This year I have been filling every single crack of time I have left beyond week to week blogging with eBook writing.

(psst–it is very close to finally being done–my goal is to have it ready to buy on Kindle before we leave).

Next year the RV trip is my BIG project so I am not planning on working on anything besides week to week blog tasks until we return from our trip.

5. No Small Tweaks While On The Road

I love spending 30 minutes here and there making an old blog post that has good traffic more profitable or taking a post that doesn’t have traffic and redoing it to see if I can make it more popular.

I will put this love of mine aside until the trip is over.

6. Using Google Docs On My Laptop And Smartphone

The key to successfully cutting  my work hours in half work is using little moments of time wisely. For me that meant learning how to use Google Docs on my laptop and smartphone this summer.

While we were on our  test run, camping a week in the new RV this summer, I practiced using Google Docs on my laptop without accessing WiFi. I found I could do a lot more writing without WiFi access than I thought I could–and I got it done a lot faster too (no rabbit trailing if you can’t open another tab).

This will allow me to work in the early mornings and evenings at the campground even if I can’t access WiFi–reducing my need to spend time driving  to a local WiFi hot spot to get work done. The less time I spend driving the more time I have to actually work.

I also figured out how to use the “speak” application part of the the google doc app on my smartphone so that I can dictate blog posts while we drive.

I suffer from mild motion sickness. If I even try to type as much as a short text when I am in a moving vehicle my stomach is tossing and turning for at least an hour. However, I can talk!

Now on scenic stretches of highway I won’t be touching this, but on those long boring stretches of road when all the kids are sleeping or listening to their tunes through their headphones the Google Doc app will open up a time to work window that has never been open to my motion sick self before.

The One Blogging Task I Plan To Do More:

More Instagram Updates

The more and more I talk about the trip the more and more I hear “take me with you”–so I am going to virtually!

I will be using Instagram to post pictures of our trip (go here to follow me on Instagram). I am also hoping to do the odd Facebook live video when I can (go here to follow me on Facebook).

Got any other tips for me of how to work more efficiently while traveling?

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One Blogger’s Journey To Earning A Full Time Income From Her Blog: What She Regrets Not Doing Sooner

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(post contains affiliate links: see disclosure)

My story to a full time blogging income isn’t a quick one. In fact, I didn’t realize I will end the year earning a full time salary from my blog until I recently ran some numbers: I totaled the money I have earned so far this year and then projected what I should earn the rest of the year based on what percentage my income has gone up during the last quarter of the year in previous years.

A story of how one blogger grew her blog to full time income. Plus--what she believes would have shortened her journey to a full time work at home income!

Now, I am in no way close to earning a six figure income, but I am earning more than minimum wage earners make for a 40 hour work week. I took my projected gross yearly earnings, took off what I reinvest into the blog, divided it by 12 months, then by four weeks and again by 40 hours. I came up with a before tax, full time hourly wage of approximately $12  (yep, I am a bit of a numbers geek). $12 an hour for a job that lets me work my own hours (which is more like 20 to 30 hours per week than 40) makes me feel very blessed.

There is no way my hubby could quit his job and have my blog pay all our bills, but thanks to the blog income, our rental income and lack of debt we are in a much better place financially than we have been in a long while.

My blog has not been an overnight success. I have been working on it for four and a half  years now and as I said, it wasn’t until just recently that I realized I will hit full time income status by year’s end!

My realization has me feeling very thankful that I found the courage to both start my blog and continue it even when I was earning just pennies an hour. It  also has me regretting not doing a few things that could have gotten me to earning a full time income sooner.

How I found the guts to start and continue

I had to push through so much fear to press publish on my first post. But the fear did not end there–in fact, it hasn’t ended.

I remember being just a few months into blogging, standing in my basement in the midst of a very large pile of dirty laundry, thinking about all the extra hours my husband was working that week to keep us afloat and feeling so mad at myself for not figuring out this whole make money from a blog thing yet.

I was working for pennies and pennies don’t pay the bills. Right then and there a light bulb when went off in my head–most of my friends and my husband didn’t start out earning a full time income from their careers either. Instead they started off with 4 years where they paid people to teach them what they needed to do the jobs they wanted to earn an income from.

Why would I think blogging would be any different. Right then, right there I mentally enrolled myself in a self-made “Blogging University”. I committed to making time each week to learn how I could improve my blogging skills, apply it and thus–hopefully–see an increase in income from those improvements.

It worked!

When I got discouraged along the way I would remind myself,  “You’re not finished with your degree yet, just keep improving.”

I got discouraged A LOT! But I stuck with it and I am so glad I did.

How I think I could make it to a full time income sooner if I was to do it again

One major thing I could have done to get to full time earnings faster would have been to spend more hours per week blogging, but I don’t believe in hustling–I am a hard core family and health first gal. So I don’t regret the decision to not burn the midnight oil just to put more hours in on my blog and I don’t regret often putting blogging work aside so I could spend more time hanging out with my kids, husband and close friends.

However, I do think there was one other way I could have reached a full time blog income faster–I could have invested more money back into the blog from day one. Here is why I didn’t and why I regret that decision.

Although my husband now fully supports the work I do on the blog, he wasn’t 100% sold on the idea that I could make money from it when I began–and most days neither was I.

Because of this in the first year and a half of blogging my husband and I did not invest any money in the blog– with just one exception.

We agreed to purchase a laptop, camera, and beginners blogging conference ticket for me with some inheritance I received at the year one mark of my blog. We both viewed the equipment as items we could use even if the blog flopped and the conference ticket as some much needed get out of the house time for me.

Beyond that we insisted that I should learn from free sources and give as much of the profits from the blog to the family as possible. After all, the whole point of me starting a blog was to help out the family financially and both of us felt that the blog should “prove” its worth before we gave it anything more.

There are a lot of great free resources for improving your blog out there, but once I had read my first NOT FREE eBook I realized how much more in-depth paid for materials are compared to free material–with few exceptions.

That first paid for book? Blogging For Profit Without Losing Your Soul. I spent a whopping $1.99  on it during the launch sale. I read the book and doubled my income in 30 days. My husband and I then became convinced that perhaps we should re-invest a small portion of the blog funds. We agreed to a 10% re-investment into the blog, which we later raised to 20% once we saw that a higher level of re-investment would help me grow my income at a faster rate.

How to make your blog investment money go further

I am thrifty at heart. I mean seriously, $1.99 was the price of my first paid for blogging eBook, you can’t get much thriftier than that! I apply my thrifty nature to blog investment just like I do to every other area of my life. These tips below have saved me hundreds on blogging materials and I am sure that number will soon climb into the thousands.

These tips are not hard to apply–any other blogger can do them and save a significant amount of money. In this article I have focused on purchasing blogging know-how materials, but you can apply these tips to blogging help, blog design, and product creation too–with a little out of the box thinking.

1. Have a clear goal in mind before you purchasing anything

There are so many products out there to help improve your blogging, eBooks, e-courses, blog reviews, coaching, etc. And then those are all divided into different areas of help, social media, product creation, post writing, etc.

If you just see a low priced deal and grab it before setting goals for your blog, you might be wasting your money. Instead, before you even look at “blog better” products know what your major goals are for your blog at this time. Stick to looking for products that deal specifically with achieving those goals.

The only exception to this should be bundle deals where your goal topics are covered in the bundle and the price makes it worth getting books not specific to your goals.

2.Purchase products with gift cards from point reward programs

This is how I got started in investing in my blog. I used Amazon gift cards I earned through Swagbucks or InstaGC to purchase eBooks on blogging (psst…these reward programs also often have Paypal options, meaning you could cash your points in for Paypal cash, which would allow you to purchase just about any course material you want).

3.Watch for launch sales

To make the most of my gift cards I would store them up until I heard about a launch sale of an eBook that covered the topic I wanted to improve in. Often eBooks sell for as low as $0.99 to $1.99 during these sales.

This tip doesn’t apply just to eBooks,  many creators of online courses often have incredible launch sales that help you stretch your re-investment money further.

4. Keep an eye open for bundle deals

Bundle deals are where a bunch of eBook authors or e-course authors put their products together and create a “bundle” that they sell for an incredibly low price. Usually you save 75% or more by buying bundles.

Now, you can end up with a lot of products that you won’t use so you do have to make sure to take time to go through the entire bundle and make sure that you will more than recoup the cost from products that will help you reach your goal.

full-bundle-pic

I recently was able to purchase 62 blogging eBooks and courses for just $97! Considering many blogging courses are $97 that is like getting 62 courses for the price of one.
Unfortunately the sale is now over but if you sign up for my weekly newsletter you won’t miss out on the next one.

A few more posts on blogging….

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