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How to Set up & Monetize Your Blog
Tools, Tips, & a Tutorial
How to Get Started as a Blogger
Congratulations on starting your first step to creating a blog! Most likely, you will want to monetize your blog at some point. If that is the case, the key will be to have a professional looking blog.
Instead of just giving you a list, as a former librarian and teacher, I wanted to give you some learning tools to help you proceed on your blogging journey.
I have outlined below, some tips to consider when creating your blog. They include Research BEFORE You Post, My Favorite Research Resources, Three Things to Consider Before You Launch (Menu, Blog Posts People Will Want to Read, and Social Media). Also, it includes Considerations When Choosing a Domain Name, Why I Chose Bluehost & a Tutorial on How to register for Bluehost, Recommended Themes, and suggested Plugins that will help you succeed and maintain your site.
As you take this blogging journey, please be patient with yourself. It might take some time to monetize your blog. Research what successful bloggers do, keep writing quality posts, stick to a posting schedule, plug into the power of social media, follow laws and regulations, and do your research first on how to maximize your blog best. Most importantly, build trust with your readers. Lying about a product you do not like will hurt your credibility in the end. Make sure you build positive relationships with your audience, vendors, affiliates, sponsors, and clients by being upfront about giving honest reviews.
If I can learn how to use Pinterest, Twitter, Facebook, and Goodreads from almost scratch, so can you. Learning how to create and use effective social media accounts to align with your niche will be a huge benefit to you and your blog. You might choose to use different social media accounts based on your subject matter. For example, if you are a fashion and lifestyle blogger, you will probably use Instagram and Pinterest as well as a couple of others. Try to see if you can get the same social media handles for all your social media accounts with your domain name. (Because I did not understand social media accounts at the time I created them, I have different handles for each social media I use.) There are ways I work around different social media handles.
Why Research BEFORE You Post?
When you learned how to drive, you most likely didn’t get into a car and drive directly to the highway after watching a video and reading “parts” of a car manual. You probably took a driver’s ed. course, and practiced driving in a parking lot, on back roads, and built your way up to the highway driving, observing the rules and laws of the roads, with an experienced driver by your side. You built your way up to being an independent and effective driver.
Blogging is the same way. These resources give you a feel for the process, what to expect with the guidance of successful professional bloggers before you approach your blog as a business. (One of the mistakes I made was not getting these resources BEFORE creating and making my blog live. Sure, I wandered around the internet for hours, days, sleepless nights… searching for and reading and watching videos trying to piece it together to find out what successful bloggers do to monetize their blogs. I could have saved a lot of time, money, and energy. These resources are all in one place. Since I learned from this experience, I am passing this on to you. As you can see from my experience, it is never too late to gain and apply some new knowledge.)
My Favorite Research Resources
I am still kicking myself that I did not get these resources earlier in my blogging journey. I could have saved myself a lot of blood, sweat, and tears. Remember to be patient. In general, blogging is not a “get rich quick scheme.”
1)* Building a Framework by Abby Lawson– Do you want to set up your blog right from the get-go? This course is worth its weight in gold! Everything you need to know about starting and developing your blog is covered in this nine module course. Also, there are valuable bonus features, actionable workbook pages, and a 199-page downloadable copy of the course. I have taught college courses, and this course is set up like a nine week course at your own pace in your own time, at a fraction of the cost, but there are no tests, quizzes, or assignments that you have to submit. *Building a Framework is one of the most comprehensive blogging courses I have ever seen. Abby will teach you a great deal about handling the technical side of creating your blog, SEO, details about how to utilize social media accounts, how to increase blog traffic, how to work smarter not harder, and more. As an additional bonus, this course also offers access to an exclusive Facebook group.
*Building a Framework explains the process of blogging from nuts to bolts. It is packed full of valuable content that is well organized which creates a natural flow. I loved the video tutorials about the technical aspect of setting up and maintaining a blog! This course is a must-have for bloggers that are just starting out or new bloggers (like me) that are struggling to gain traction and are trying to “reboot.” This incredible resource is well worth many times the investment! It definitely would have saved me time, money, and energy.
Through a series of videos, Abby guides you through the step-by-step process of how to create your blog including:
- Introduction called Why Blogging,
- Concept and Branding,
- Setting up the Technical Side of your Blog,
- Creating Incredible Content,
- Building Relationships with Other Bloggers,
- Social Media,
- Monetizing your Blog, and
- Organizing your Time and Your Business
2) *Making Sense of Affiliate Marketing by Michelle Shroeder-Gardner –(SALE Thursday, February 15th to Monday, February 19th, 2018 (it will end at 11:59 p.m. ) coupon code FEBRUARYSALE2018CC to get $28 off the course) Do you want to monetize your blog? This course is another amazing resource! Plenty of beneficial content focuses on monetizing your blog using affiliate marketing. Resources are well organized and straightforward. I think of it as the quintessential course/manual of how to start, operate, and monetize your blog using affiliate marketing while following the rules and laws that govern the internet. Yes, there are rules and laws to deal with when monetizing your blog. There are six modules in this course and an extensive Bonus section. Welcome – Introduction to the Course, workbook pages, and access to a private Facebook group.
Michelle guides you through: who is involved in the affiliate marketing process, what affiliate marketing is, (which affiliate to choose) and where to go to gain more blog traffic, when to start your affiliate journey, why affiliate marketing can be profitable and a good fit for your blog. There are many helpful resources including 80+ affiliate ideas for different niches, tips for holiday marketing, an all-inclusive guide for affiliate marketing strategies…
Worksheets that can help you map out goals, strategize, and brainstorm a plan on how to monetize your site through affiliation. Michelle gives you the guidance and the simple steps to ensure that you can follow along. *Making Sense of Affiliate Marketing is a thorough course/handbook that can lead you on the path to affiliate marketing success! I am still kicking myself for not taking this course sooner.
The modules include:
- What is Affiliate Marketing (3 segments on the ins and outs of affiliate marketing),
- How to Find and Apply to Affiliate Programs (6 sections dedicated to determining what your readers want, finding and evaluating different affiliate programs, and 80 + affiliate ideas for different niches),
- Follow the Rules (laws and guidelines for bloggers that monetize),
- How to Get Your Readers to Convert (10 sections including building trust and marketing strategies),
- Strategies and Ways to Promote Affiliate Links (12 segments including utilizing social media),
- Rinse & Repeat (7 parts including The Importance of Strong Relationships, Tips to Improve Affiliate Marketing around the Holidays, and so much more),
Bonuses (7 sections counting How to Increase Your Page Views)
3) *How to Explode your Blog Traffic + Make Thousands as a Newbie by Ell Duclos- Are you a new blogger or have you been blogging for a few months but need to boost your blog traffic? This is a wonderful “mini” course! It summarizes key actionable steps bloggers can use to increase their blog traffic. To optimize the suggestions that Ell gives about Facebook, you will want to be secure with knowledge on how to use Facebook. She suggests that you take a more active Admin/leadership role. I love following Ell Duclos’s blog Ell Duclos: Lifestyle, Beauty, & Blog Tips! Her articles contain a wealth of knowledge about blogging.
Again, for the for the Facebook portion, it is important to have a blog that you feel comfortable using because some of the recommendations will tap into your blogging experiences. I found this “mini” course to be a great shot of inspiration!
Other Blog Traffic Tips
Affiliate Marketing-Make Your First Sale
3 Things to Consider Before You Launch Your Website to the Public
1)How to Create a Post People Will Want to Read
- Create posts in Word or some other writing program first and save FREQUENTLY (at least every 10 minutes).
- You will want three-five posts ready to go. You might consider posting your first post and then waiting to get some traffic to your blog before posting your second post.
- You can schedule when your posts will go live on your hosting site. My recommendation is if you have a schedule in mind like two times a week, set up those initial posts spaced out according to your schedule.
- Make sure that your posts are legible (font & size).
- Check your grammar and spelling. Readers around the world will access your blog. I use and recommend *Grammarly which goes beyond spell check. You want to prove to potential affiliates, sponsors, clients, customers, and your general reading population that you are knowledgeable about the topic in your post and that you can communicate this effectively. Misspellings, poor sentence structure, word context, punctuation, incorrect word usage (ex. there, their, they’re), and grammar are very distracting and tiring to read (translation readers will stop reading). It signals that you do not care, and this will most likely turn your readers off and any potential business opportunities away.
*Grammarly can be plugged into MS Office® and your browser. In my browser, it not only checks my blog posts, but it also checks the emails I write through my Gmail account, blog comments I write on other blogs, and all my social media (this has saved me from many embarrassing misspellings). This program will check your spelling, grammar, sentence structure, pinpoint potential plagiarism (loose translation-stealing someone else’s words, copyright material, work and claiming it as your own), and will let you know and allow you to correct your work immediately. I love the weekly updates that I get in my email that show me: Productivity, Accuracy, Vocabulary, and my top three mistakes. I can see this as a helpful tool for teachers and students to have.
- Be sure to include a discloser at the top of your posts if you are using any monetizing links. Disclosures are mandatory by the FTC, and I believe this builds trust with your readers.
- Engage your readers. At the end of your post, ask your audience a question, this allows you to make connections, find out their interests, and increase traffic to your site.
- Add one or more quality photographs to your posts. By adding photos, you will draw more attention to your social media accounts, pictures help you tell your story, and they will most likely attract more people to your blog. I use my own photographs and Pixabay.
Blog Post Topics:
- Solve a problem your readers have. How to __________(ex: How to Stop your Toddler’s Temper Tantrum (parent bloggers)),
- Top 10 ________ (ex: Top 10 Tourist Attractions in London (Travel bloggers)),
- Holiday posts- go beyond Christmas, Valentine’s Day, Fourth of July and so on (ex: Four Festive Foods for a Fourth of July BBQ (food bloggers)),
- DIY posts (ex: How to Make a Spring Wreath (craft bloggers)),
- List of tips – (ex: 10 Tips to Organize Your Whole House (Organizational/Home/Lifestyle bloggers)
- Back up your titles with quality post content. If you don’t, you will probably drive people away.
Insert the About Me and Disclaimer into the menu part of your blog.
Create an About Me Page- (Click here to see my About Me Page.)
- Include a photo of yourself.
- You can tell your audience something personal about yourself. (Think carefully about what you include. I just use my first name and the name of my blog.)
- Why you decided to start blogging.
- Tell your audience something about yourself that relates to your blog.
- Explain clearly what your blog covers. (You can link to your posts, so your readers can see samples.)
- Contact information -Social Media Handles, Blog email account (can be Gmail account, but might want to change it at some point.)
Create a Disclaimer Page-(Click here to see my Disclaimer Page.)
- A disclaimer page is a must for any blogger that is planning on or already monetizing their blog in some way.
- This page should include that fact that you are using cookies (no, not Oreos J). Cookies are a way that Google Analytics and most likely affiliate and sponsor links track user usage.
- I also put my copyright information here, and although my website is not intended for anyone under the age of 13 years old, I still put in a COPPA (The Children’s Online Protection Act) statement. Here is a link to the COPPA Frequently asked questions FTC government site
- I also put my Copyright information on here.
3) Social Media
Have your blogs up and running to join the business accounts and use your blog’s address and information. This way you can view analytics if there are any. Pick and choose the best platforms for your niche.
- Build Buzz on your social media accounts before you launch your blog.
- Before launching, look and see what other successful bloggers are doing in your niche.
- Gain some followers before you monetize. Affiliates have their own rules, but most of them will reject you if you do not have a following. Also, each affiliate has their own rules (ex. making a certain amount of sales in XYZ days). If you do not, they will kick you out of the program, and you can reapply at a later date.
- Pinterest is a database. Therefore, you want to cultivate your collection/boards based on your blog content before your first post. Make sure you are pinning other people’s pins. A popular rule of thumb is 20% your pins and 80% other pins in your niche from other people, and use keywords so your audience can find you. If you are a food blogger, instead of just putting in the keywords Gluten Free you might consider writing your description as Gluten Free Cupcakes. The three word title signals to your audience that this is a gluten free dessert item.
- Facebook– Join Facebook groups to increase your exposure. I was sitting in Never Neverland with zero views before I joined some Facebook groups (Your blog must be up and running before requesting to be part of a group). You will want to follow each group’s directions, be an active participant, and follow groups where the admins are active.
- Twitter- Follow and post content from other blogs than your own in your niche.
- Instagram- I do not use this platform. However, this seems to be a good platform for fashion, make-up, food, travel, blogger information, and product promotion blogger, etc.
- Stumbleupon-I do not use this platform. However, from what I understand, this platform wants you to be an active participant.
- Goodreads- This is a great platform for book bloggers (which is one of the major parts of my blog). Read reviews from other readers. Find out what’s trending. Connect to people within your niche (readers, authors, other book bloggers, and publishers). Join different reading groups, take reading challenges, and more.
Which Domain Name and Hosting Site Will You Choose?
Choosing a Domain Name is one of the most important things you will do when setting up your blog.
Here are some things to consider when selecting a domain name:
- It will permanently be a part of your URL as a blogger, and it is part of your identity/brand. Your domain name is the way your audience will find and relate to you/ your brand.
- Choose a domain name that is easy to remember and spell.
- You will want a domain name that identifies who you are/ what you are representing (ex. Bestbookreviews.com.) However, do not be too specific because your site will most likely expand over time. I chose teacher-librarian-forlife.com because it leaves the door open for me to go beyond book reviews to have a lifestyle section and a teaching section that creates themes for teachers and parents using books and activities.
- Keep your domain name short. (I made this mistake because I was very focused on explaining what my blog is all about, so you see that it is longer.) In my defense, teachreadlife.com was taken. Therefore, think of about 5-8 deviations for your domain name BEFORE you register. I use Bluehost, and I was thrilled that it came up with my domain name when I typed in teacherlibrarianforlife.com. I appreciated Bluehost generating several suggestions with my keywords in mind.
- If you provide virtual assistance or mentoring services, you might want to include your modified first and last name as part of the URL because your business is personalized, you are providing a service. (Be mindful of the information you share in your domain name because you do not want someone knocking on your door out of the blue.) Because the whole world can see your blog, you might consider using some deviation of your first/ last name/ perhaps using a middle name as a replacement for your first name (while still maintain your identity and building trust with your audience).
- If you are selling something and have a brand name, you will want to include your brand name in your domain name in some way.
- .com Search engines like Google associate .com with businesses. If you would like to monetize your blog and work with various vendors, you will want a professional looking website that does not have WordPress as part of the domain or .org unless you are an organization.
- Try to see if you can get the same social media handles for all your social media accounts with your domain name if you can.
Why I use *Bluehost as my Hosting Site?
I use *BlueHost as my hosting site because they offer:
- Free Domain,
- 24/7 support,
- Numerous helpful Tutorials/ “How To” learning tools to use for Self-Help- go to SUPPORT- Click & scroll down- to Self-Help, Then- type in what you need- Click search-Select and click the category that best describes the help you need-and read directions/ watch the “How To” video(s), such as “How To” install and utilize plugins (How To resources available).
- Free Site Builders.
I have provided a video tutorial for you on how to register to use * BlueHost as your hosting site.
Video Tutorial Coming Soon!
What to Consider When Choosing a Theme
*Mojo Marketplace’s Many Options
To search themes, either click on the green M banner or the *Mojo Marketplace words. 1. Once in, go to the top and select Themes to search theme options. 2. Scroll down to WordPress Themes. 3. At the top of the page, you can type in a theme such as Creativo, Zephyr (feminine option), or Nimva as some popular and high rated themes. Feel free to modify your search in the top drop-down menu by scrolling down and selecting Top Rated, Most Popular, Trending, Highest or Lowest Price. 4. In the left-hand menu, you can choose the purpose of your blog.
Once you found a theme that you like, just click on the Demo button to see your theme option features by scrolling down the page. In the top left-hand corner, I LOVE the formatting icons. Furthest left, will show you what your theme will look like on a desktop screen, the center icon an iPad screen, and the small vertical rectangle icon is a mobile phone preview.
I considered several things before I chose Creativo as my theme from *Mojo Marketplace. I wanted the following features:
- Mobile device friendly -The majority of people that I know look at the internet on mobile devices. Some themes are not compatible with mobile devices, so your readers only see certain photos and articles.
- Easy to use for people without technical skills -(I am not a coder, far from it. Creativo gave me the freedom to adjust my blog the way I want it without creating code.)
- Versatile theme -Creativo has so many templates to choose from to complement virtually any blog.
- Flexible features within the theme
- Outstanding customer support
I paid extra for theme installation and support. (To me, it was definitely worth the extra money!) The team from RockyThemes at Creativo have frequently answered my questions within 24 hours or usually much faster. They offered friendly service and many tutorials for self-support.
Google Analytics- This is free. It is a must have if you monetize your blog. It provides valuable analytics for your site such as how many people visit your site, how long they stay, etc.
Yoast SEO– This plugin costs money, but it is well worth it. It measures how searchable your blog is on search engines such as Google and how readable your blog is. It shows you with green-great, yellow-needs improvement and what specifically what part of your post needs improvement, and red- multiple problems (again, it makes specific suggestions). I am less concerned with readability because I write as I talk.
UpdraftPlus&WP-Optimize– I use the free version, but you can buy a premium version. It backs up your blog. It is extremely important to have something to back up your blog.
MailChimp– There is a free and a paid version. It is free for up to 2,000 email sign up subscribers.
Replyable– This is an affordable way to allow people to leave comments on your blog. You will want some way for your visitors to leave comments on your blog. (There are other plugins that you will need to add for this to work. Replyable will direct you.) You can see immediately how many comments are waiting for you, and it sends notifications to your email.
Feed Them Social – Social Media buttons that allow readers to connect my blog posts to their social media.
Registration Honeypot, Stop Spammers blocker, & AnitSpam by Clean Talk– These are free. These help block spam. You will want a plugin that blocks spam to your site. Without them, I got spammed on a regular basis.
Bluehost– This plugin is free and integrates your WordPress site with the Bluehost control panel.
Redirection– Manage all your 301 redirects and monitor 404 errors.
Widget Importer & Exporter-(free) Imports and Exports Widgets
Feature Image: Pixabay StockSnap