I’ve had so many people write me and ask me how to even begin blogging. This month I celebrate my 2 year blogiversary! I can’t believe that 2 years ago I wrote my first blog post. I cringe looking back at those early posts. I had no direction and my posts sound like one big run-on sentence.
I feel like I have learned a lot over the years and my love for blogging has turned from hobby to income. The last 2 years of blogging has been a roller coaster. There have been times where I wanted to quit, where I would beg or readers, and times when typing words on a screen was the best thing for letting go of stress and emotion.
So, to save some of you HOURS of research and HOURS of trial and error, let me put my thoughts and advice in one spot. Right here.
How Did The Paleo Mama Begin?
Every blog has a story. A beginning. An inspiration. My story began more than 2 years ago. I was a avid Weston A. Price (WAP) follower and ate very well whole foods, lots of animal fats, whole grains, and even ground my own grain. I had sourdough starter, kefir, kombucha, and water kefir. I knew about eating good. But….I ate good, healthy WAP yet carried around more weight then I liked. I was 70lbs heavier than what I am now. My blog began about 2 months after I began eating Paleo. My younger sister passed away and I was an overweight, depressed mess. My journey into blogging began when someone baked me a Paleo “sympathy” meal and since that day I have been Paleo. I started my blog about 6 months after I started eating Paleo. I had no idea what I was going to blog about. I just wrote random things and didn’t really worry about making any money.
This changed quickly. I wouldn’t call it greed, but you get to a point where you want to make money. I mean, if you are spending a few hours a day on the computer blogging, then you sure as hell better be making money. People were reading my stuff. Using my recipes. The idea of blogging for hobby turned into blogging for income about a year after I started my blog.
I never thought I could make a living off blogging, but now I know that if I needed to support my family, my income would be able to provide 100% of our needs. The money didn’t come easy. I used that first year of blogging to really build up my traffic and my readers. That first year I never advertised or threw marketing ads at anyone. I never promoted products or tried to sell e-books, summits, or anything else. I just wrote and I did it for free.
But as social media grew and became such an avenue for traffic, so did my demand to be on the computer. This is when I made the decision to use my blog as an avenue for income. It combined something that I loved to do with something that would meet the needs of my family. And you know what they say, “when you love what you do, you never work a day in your life. ”
10 Tips to Successful Blogging:
1) WordPress.org – when I first started my blog I used wordpress.com. I didn’t know there was a difference between .com and .org but there actually is a BIG difference. With wordpress.com you CANNOT put any ads up. NONE. About a year into my blogging I wanted to start putting ads up. When I found out I couldn’t I decided to migrate my blog over to wordpress.org. So, for anyone starting out on blogging just go ahead and avoid the ABSOLUTE frustration of migrating a website over. It is really intricate and frustrating…especially if you do it on your own, like I did. My husband stayed away from me for about 3 days when I was going through the migration. At one point I thought I had lost over 100 blog articles.
TIP#1: Start with WordPress.org
2) Hosting – you need to pick a host. I started out using Go Daddy and it was *okay*. Not the best but for $80 for the year it worked. I currently use WP Engine on The Paleo Mama. It is expensive but it is THE BEST. I have around 500,000 page views a month, so I need a host that is reliable and can handle the traffic and possible peaks of traffic that can happen in hours. I, also, have used BlueHost and really do like them too. If you are serious about blogging, get a good host. WP Engine is incredible but, like I said before, they are pricey. I probably wouldn’t recommend going with them until you have around 100,000 page views a month.
TIP #2 Pick a good host.
3) Keep it Simple Stupid (KISS) – my dad taught me to always follow the KISS method. When I named my blog, I was in the hype of eating Paleo. Now that Paleo has become a lifestyle and it doesn’t define me, I have some regret about naming my blog, “The Paleo Mama”. I feel like it really limits me. I know it is what has drawn a lot of people to my blog, but I, no longer, feel like Paleo is what I am 100% about. I want my blog to have a feeling of more than that. I want my blog to be, maybe, 10% Paleo, 10% homesteading, 10% recipes, 20% essential oils…and so on. So, pick a name that is broad but unique, if you know what I mean?
TIP #3 Pick a broad blog name
4) Affiliates – about 30-40% of my monthly income comes from affiliates. I love supporting my fellow bloggers and when they have an book, a program, or a product that I love, I sign up to be an affiliate with them. Most of my affiliates I find through the blogs or articles that I read that seem to really be on brand for my audience. Many websites offer affiliate programs, and all you have to do is sign up. I link to these affiliates in blog posts or I put them on my right sidebar on my homepage. A few of my favorite affiliates right now are Squeaky Clean Paleo, Toxic Free, Kickin the Weight with Keto, Natural Homestead, and these Paleo Meal Plans. PS. I have over 10 affiliate links in this blog post!.
TIP #4 Find On-Brand Affiliates
5) Amazon Associates – Amazon Associates has been a great avenue for income. Anyone can sign up and all you do is link to the product in the Amazon store. This is great for people who are writing recipes and articles with products in it. I try to not post an article or recipe without a few Amazon links in there. It’s a really simple affiliate program and one you don’t want to be without!
TIP #5 Sign up for Amazon Associates
6) Google Adsense & Media.net – Google Adsense is an advertising program that is a great source of passive income. It’s nice to make money without ever having to promote anything. Google Adsense gives you advertisements to place on your blog. There’s lots of ways to strategize about how to maximize your income from Adsense. I can’t really talk much about media.net because I was just approved for it and running a trial on it right now. But, there are several ways to make money with advertising and it’s a great income for doing practically nothing.
TIP #6 Sign up for Google Adsense
7) Take Good Pictures – I cannot emphasize enough how important this is. My early pictures are SCARY. I used my phone to take them. When I got serious with blogging, I bought a used Cannon Rebel with a good lens and it has made a drastic difference. The big chunk of money to buy a camera is sometimes just NOT there. Don’t fret…I, absolutely, love Deposit Photos and recommend signing up for their monthly subscription. You get 5 downloads a day and there is thousands of photos to choose from (click here to check out depositphotos.com).
TIP #7 Take Good Pictures
8) Edit Those Pictures – I use picmonkey.com and Keynotes app on my Mac to edit my pictures. I like to make a horizontal picture (good Facebook sized picture is 800×419) and a vertical picture (good Pinterest size pic is 419×800) for each posts. The vertical pictures are mostly to stand out on Pinterest and the horizontal picture is for Facebook shares. I have stopped taking step-by -step pictures during recipes because it is just too much. I do it sometimes, but mostly I just use ONE good picture.
TIP #8 Make pictures stand out
9) Have a newsletter signup on your blog – I never understood the importance of this till about a year into blogging. You want to be able to give people this option if they LOVE your blog. Click here to check out my newsletter sign-up form. My newsletter sign-ups are my most devoted readers. They have signed up for my RSS feed and get my new posts delivered in their email inbox. I send out personal emails to all my readers once a week and, also, share specials and giveaways with them. I love MailChimp for this! It’s free until you start getting thousands of sign-ups. You can have a signup on your right sidebar or use a pop-up like Pippidy to grab emails.
TIP#9 Set up an RSS feed and/or Newsletter Signup
10) Get on the Social Media Train – you have to get good at social media. You just have to. Pinterest is my leading traffic source with Facebook following close behind. Make a Facebook page that runs along with your blog and share articles and posts. Encourage your readers to engage more and more on Facebook. Don’t forget Google+! Google+ is a huge asset to bring in traffic and it’s also great for Search Engine Optimization (SEO). Make a Pinterest, Facebook, and Google+ plus account. The thought of managing all these might stress you out. I got tips for you on that: Hootsuite sends out all my posts to all 3 of my social media outlets in ONE post. Saves me tons of time! Viral Tag pins images to my Pinterest page throughout the day. I just have to schedule my pins in the morning and that’s it.
TIP#10 Utilize Social Media
Other Tools I Love:
Google Analytics – Google analytics is something to use to really take a look at where your traffic is coming from, what articles they are looking at, and key words they used to find your blog. It’s nice to watch to see how your traffic is growing and it’s, also, fun to look at the “real time” analytics! If you have a blog, you want to sign up for this free google service.
My favorite plugins – Plugins are programs you can download to your WordPress Dashboard. They are tools you can use to make your blog flow better or to customize your blog. A few of my favorite plugins are: Quick Adsense, Before and After Content, Pin it Pro, Shareholic, WordPress SEO by Yoast, Print Friendly, Pretty Link, Pippidy and Custom Content.
Design and Themes – for 2 years I used a free WordPress Theme on my website. It worked great until I really wanted to have my website stand out and give it a little personality. I wanted my personality to shine through it. Michelle Guzman Design made a custom web design for my blog! She is awesome to work with and made my website really stand out. Check out my new design (click here).
doTERRA Essential Oils – I am an Independent Product Consultant for doTERRA Essential Oils. I have a wonderful team that I have built and am growing with. I make a little extra income with doTERRA. My goal in signing up to sell doTERRA wasn’t to market. My goal was to be able to make great recipes for blog posts and link to a reputable essential oil. My love for oils grew so much that I decided to start building a team.
Networking with other bloggers – I have so many wonderful blogging friends that I have met over the years. I love supporting them, selling their e-books, meal plans, Amazon or Kindle books, etc. When the time comes around, they do the same for me. It’s a “scratch your back” mentality but, also, I have made some amazing friends.
Alright, where’s the cheese?
In all these things listed above you can make some money. How much can you make? Well, that depends on you. I started out getting excited about $50 checks from affiliates and it being a good little job on the side for spending money. Now, I can support my family if my husband was to ever lose his job. Blogging is NOT easy and it’s not a fast road to success. It took me 2 years to get to this point. However, I am so glad that I am doing something that I absolutely love, I’m making an income from it, I’m sharing my love for Paleo foods and natural living, and I work from home.
Working from home is the highlight for me. I’m so blessed to be able to stay home with my kids and make my own hours. It’s hard to find time to do everything…between milking the goat, making healthy Paleo meals, blogging, and maintaining a home, my life is a little chaotic. However, I’ve built discipline to make hours when the kids are in bed or napping.
Alright, there it is…so do you still wanna start a blog after reading this?! I say go for it!
Leave me a comment with your blog below so I can follow you!