Thinking about starting a blog or online business?
Do it! Do it! Chanting makes it happen!
Starting my blog in 2017 was easily one of my best decisions of my life. It has opened up a whole new outlet of creativity, connected me with hilarious and inspiring writers, and created a new business. In short, I love it.
If you’ve been thinking of starting a blog or online business I’d love to help! Consider me your blogging basics tour guide. Below are resources that have helped me navigate this fabulous little world and will help set you off on the right foot.
This post contains affiliate links. As an affiliate, I earn a commission on qualifying purchases.
First you need a host for your website. Buy your domain name here at Siteground and set up your hosting. Like any great host, SiteGround makes a really nice spinach dip and has excellent customer service. Pricing starts at $3.95 which I afford by buying the store brand granola bars.
If you are hoping to turn your blog into a business, setting up a self-hosted site through SiteGround instead of using WordPress.com is the way to go. You’ll have more control over the look and feel of your site and can monetize through affiliate marketing and advertisements.
But if you just want to get your feet wet, go with WordPress.com for free!
Platform and Content Management
WordPress.org is a site that lets you build your self-hosted blog and manage your content. Like the architects in Inception. Kind of. More like Microsoft Word but for the web.
Through WordPress, you’ll find super user-friendly, blog themes to make your site look professional if you aren’t ready to hire a designer or buy other tools. Around 80% of the websites around the world are on WordPress so this is a tool that is highly respected and trusted. Two enthusiastic thumbs up.
The Write Stuff
Helene Sula has a lot of great blogging advice in her posts and webinars. As a full-time blogger and world traveler, she knows her stuff. Start here for some basics, and then read everything she has ever written on the subject if you get hooked.
Find a tribe of like-minded bloggers who can support you along the way. Promote your posts, read others’ posts, make connections. It’s a really great community of people who truly just want to see other bloggers succeed.
Another fantastic tool helpful for blog writing, or any writing! Download the Grammarly extension and it will check your emails, blog posts, and Word Documents for spelling and grammar mistakes. Worth its weight in gold, and it’s free.
Once you’ve set up your blog, figured out what you want to write about and how you want to say it, then start learning SEO (Search Engine Optimization).
You’ll hear from so many bloggers that they wished they had learned SEO earlier and I’m in that camp too. That’s because SEO is how to make sure people can find your amazing content on Google. And you want people to find your stuff! While I wouldn’t let learning SEO hold you back from starting to write about what you love, learning it can help you get results (eyeballs on your writing) much faster.
Kelly at Sticky SEO taught me the tricks of the trade and her course is worth its price in gold! Definitely check it out.
To get SEO right, you’re going to need a place to research your keywords. I’ve tried a couple of different tools and Keysearch has been far and away my favorite. With Keysearch you can look up different keywords that folks may be searching for on the web around your topic. Then work those keywords into your headers and content in an authentic way.
Combine Keysearch with Kelly’s Sticky SEO course and you have a winning combination that helped me increased my website traffic by over 100% in 2020. Wowza! (Use discount code KSDISC for 20% off too!)
Yoast is a plugin available once you set up your self-hosted site with WordPress. It essentially tells you if you’re making your writing hard to read or search for.
I think of it as a good friend who is willing to say “Um, Bec. That sentence is 400 words, in a passive voice, and is just kind of dumb.” Also, you need to use your keywords more effectively.
Get Your Website Looking Snazzy!
Looking to create a pretty Pinterest pin or graphic for your blog post? Canva is a super easy and free tool. Think PowerPoint, but easier.
You can use the tool for free, or upgrade for access to resizing features and more stock photos.
Blog posts LOVE pictures. And I don’t always have the right pictures. But these sites do, for $Free.99. Do not, I repeat, do not just Google images. That’s a quick way to get in trouble for copyright infringement. Use trusted sites with royalty-free images instead.
See this pin? I made in Canva, with no design experience at all, and with a stock photo. In 5 minutes.
Making Money Blogging
Check out some simple affiliate marketing tools to start making money with your blog. It’s like Ebates, you get paid for marketing stuff from these sites through advertising or linking to a product you are talking about anyways. And it doesn’t cost anyone more money to buy from your link. Cool, cool, cool.
I know, I know. No one likes ads up in their grill. But, if you find a way to do them well then you can create a steady stream of income from your blog without annoying your readers. I have used Fomo Publishers for advertising and had a great experience. The ads are very small pop-ups at the bottom of the screen and tailored to match with your blog niche. Plus, no page view requirements!
When my blog grew up to 10,000 pageviews a month, I then switched my ad network to Monumetric which was also fantastic.
Ready to kick things up a notch? Now I’m on Mediavine for my ad network which has a monthly session minimum of 50,000. It can take a bit to get there, but it’s worth it.
Like the idea of working with brands to give your honest opinion and share great products and services with your readers? That’s sponsored posts! Whenever I do a sponsored post it is always, always, ALWAYS, in my own voice and never feels off-brand from my other stories.
The best way to find sponsored posts is to pitch brands directly. To be honest, I don’t do a lot of this but it’s certaintly a option if that’s the route you want to go.
You can also opportunities here:
Sell Your Own Products and Services
This is where I make the majority of my income as an online business owner. I’m a writer, so I make money from freelance writing contracts with other businesses and by selling books I’ve written.
I’m also a Career Coach specializing in helping mid-career professionals (mostly women) find more joy and fulfillment in their careers. My blog is tied in with my career coaching business where I sell products and services.
Creating and selling a product or service takes time, but all good things do! This is your business, so make it yours by sharing what you’re great at with the world and getting paid for it.
Pinterest for Your Website
All I ever needed to know about life I learned in kindergarten. Except blogging, they didn’t teach blogging. Or entrepreneurship really. So I’ve learned a lot about it by spending time on Pinterest.
Automation station! Much of my blog traffic comes from Pinterest since it works as a visual search engine. So I create a lot of pins for my posts using Canva and then tailwind auto schedules your pins for you which saves a lot of time. Get a free trial and $15 off if you decide to upgrade after your first 100 pins.
Monica over at Redefining Mom is a Pinterest ninja. She is a super successful blogger and taught me all kinds of Pinterest stuff. Check her out!
I’m pinning new blogging tips on my Blogging Tips Pinterest Board all the time, follow along!
Yolanda over at Full Circle Digital is a fantastic resource on all things Pinterest. I especially love her Pinterest templates which have helped me to grow my website traffic and manage Pinterest in WAY less time.
Let me know if you start a blog or online business! I want to read about all your hopes, dreams, and deepest secrets. Or your cheesecake recipe. That too.
P.S. While you’re here, come stay a while! Check out more about starting a side hustle here.