Why you should start a blog!
Have you been toying around with the idea of starting a blog? I was right there with you about seven months ago. You see, I am a stay-at-home mom of two boys and I wanted to find a way to continue to be a stay-at-home mom.
I was a teacher for thirteen years but the thought of leaving my kids and going back to work was really hard to imagine. Yet, I knew if I didn’t find a way to make some income, the plan was (and still is) for me to go back to work.
Don’t get me wrong, I love teaching too, but when I went back to work with my first son I was having a hard time juggling the demands of being a special needs teacher and spending quality time with my baby boy. Not to mention, my son became terribly sick after attending day care, which sent us into a three-month cycle of ear infections and no sleep. Shortly after, I left teaching and I’m now at home with my beautiful boys.
Life is fun chasing after these two and blogging on the side. I’m making a small income (very small) from my blog, but my hope is to learn more and increase my income as my blogging game improves.
How I got Started
Creating a website sounded fun and interesting to me. BONUS – I like to write! However, it is difficult to put yourself out there and get used to knowing that whatever you publish can be read by all (YIKES!).
Truth be told, I had no idea how to start a website, let alone run it and make it pretty (Yes, still working on this). So, it is crazy that I am now writing a tutorial on how you can do the same.
If you are reading this, you are in the same boat I was in a few months back. I was spending countless nights reading blogging “how to’s.” What I learned…It is a bit intimidating, but it is not that hard! I learned how other people start blogs daily (seriously, there are millions out there) and many bloggers do so while working full-time jobs. And yes, being a stay-at-home mom is a full-time job but I decided to give it a go and you should too!
If this story resonates with you and you are still toying with the idea of starting a blog, I say go for it. The only way to become a successful blogger is to dip your toes into the water. It will feel amazingly refreshing once you get started.
This post contains affiliate links. This means if you click a link and make a purchase, I will receive a small commission at not cost to you, so thank you! This helps me continue to provide you will all my money-saving and making tips!
Blogging for income is not as easy as others make it sound, but you can do it. A huge following is not a necessity, but the right following it key. (A.K.A. your niche audience.) After you start, work on building an audience that wants to read about you and start growing your e-mail list! I wish I had done this sooner.
I am not going feed you fluff and say blogging is a breeze or success will happen overnight because if people are telling you that, they may not be entirely honest or they are one of the rare few. However, if writing is your passion and you stick with it, you can become successful and reach your dreams.
I should know, I still have a long way to go but I am not the type of person to give up, so you will see me here for the long run. After seven months of blogging, I will be the first to admit, I am no expert, but if I can do it, so can you. Read more about my blogging Journey here.
Let’s Get You Up and Running!
Choosing a Niche
The best way to decide a blogging niche is to ask yourself, “What is my passion?” Do you love sewing and DIY? Do you love couponing and saving money? After thinking about your topic, make a list of 50-100 blog post ideas. If you are able to come up with a list of 50-100 ideas, you have found the right niche. Here are some of the most popular blog niches:
- Personal finance
Of course, there are many other niches out there, but choose a niche that excites you. Think of something you wake up in the morning thinking about. Is there something your friends tell you to stop talking about because you can go on and on for hours about the subject? This is your blog niche!
Choose a Name for Your Blog
It is now time to really get excited because you are ready to move on to choosing your name. Nonetheless, for me, this was one of the hardest parts of starting a blog. In fact, I actually started about three weeks later than I wanted because I was trying to choose a name I loved, that wasn’t already taken. Every time I came up with something clever, I would type it in and you guessed it, it was taken. (Sigh)
Bluehost makes it easy to check a possible name before signing up. If your name is already taken, they will offer suggestions.
Also, run your name by someone you trust. I asked my husband’s opinion and he gave an honest critique. I could have gone with my first choice of names but with a “.org” at the end. Yet, I kept looking for something with “.com” and finally, www.iheartfrugal.com was born! The “.com” is more popular and will show up in search engine results more often.
Unfortunately, I made a HUGE mistake when I started my blog. I didn’t have any post ready to publish and I Heart Frugal sat there for a few days with the “Welcome to the world – page under construction” sign. This caused me unnecessary stress about putting out quality content (along with figuring everything else out) and some of the first rushed posts were better left in the archives.
So save yourself the unneeded stress and create five posts to put up right away and a few extra to schedule in advance according to how often you want to post. I decided to publish once a week but do what works for you.
I highly recommend signing up with Canva. It is a picture editing tool that is super easy to use and free. If you are not a photographer, there are sites that offer royalty free pictures. I often use pixabay to find quality photos, although I received some free stock photos from wonderfelle, and I am considering purchasing one of their packages because I love their work. Check them out here and sign up to receive 10 free stock photos. High-quality visuals draw readers and they will keep come back.
Bluehost Start Up Tutorial
As I said earlier, Bluehost makes creating a website super easy. You get a free domain name (would otherwise have to pay $10-20 for this). So let’s get down to the nitty-gritty. How do you actually create your website? Keep reading…
To receive a free domain name and a $3.95 per month plan, click here to get started and I will walk you through. This link will take you to the start-up page. (Click “Get Started Now” button)
1. Choose a plan
Below you will see three choices for your plan. I would recommend the basic plan for a new blogger. It is more than enough for what you will need to get started. Furthermore, I recommend a yearly plan if you would like to test the blogging waters and see if it is for you. You will get a prorated amount back if you decide to cancel. Hence, you have nothing to lose. However, for the best deal, a three-year plan is best and you will not have to remember to renew your blog and risk losing valuable, hard work.
2. Select a Domain Name
The first thing you will want to spend some time on is setting up your domain name. As mention above, I recommend going to the Bluehost site and plugging in your names to make sure they are not taken. So once you have your name, plug it into this screen and continue to the next screen to choose a plan.
3. Create Account and Payment Information
Once you choose your plan and enter your payment information (pic below), you now have your own domain!
Congratulations! Wasn’t that easy?
4. Install WordPress
Next, you will install WordPress and Bluehost makes this very easy. You must log into Bluehost.com and scroll to the “website” section (check your email for login info). If this screen does not come up right away make sure you click on the “hosting” tab and then the “cpannel“ tab on the top left of your screen. Press the WordPress button and wait a minute. If the screen takes you to “BlueHost Marketplace Powered by MOJO” screen simply click continue. This step takes you through a few screens but only takes about five minutes.
Click “Hosting” and “cPanel” as seen below. Under “Website Builders” click “WordPress” or “Install WordPress button.”
Select your domain and wait for WordPress to install:
Note: Once you have installed WordPress you will see your URL, login URL, and username. Make sure you save all of this information and click “configure your password.” After you enter your password, click “complete setup.”
*You can now go to the back-end of your blog and start typing. This is your administration page and I recommend spending some time and playing around with all the categories.
5. Choose a Theme
WordPress offers many free themes or designs for your site. Once you are on your administrator page, go to Appearance and choose your free theme. Many popular bloggers use Genesis or Divi. Pick one that best suits your websites needs. Play around with different themes until you find one you love.
I changed mine a few times when I started. You can also upload a theme if you have found or paid for one elsewhere. I am using a free theme from Bluchic. If you like feminine themes, this is the place to go. Check them out here!
That’s it! Easy peasy. Set aside some time to play around and click on everything and learn how to use your new blog. I also recommend watching the free WordPress tutorials on YouTube. These videos helped me tremendously and give you step by step instructions on how to use everything on your WordPress blog. They also explain what a widget is and SEO (before I blogged, I had NO idea). You can find them here:
WordPress Youtube Videos
Monetize Your Blog
If you are looking to make money with your blog, I suggest signing up for Amazon affiliates. They are amazing and sell pretty much anything under the sun. Lucky for you (and me) Amazon accepts new bloggers into its affiliate program.
Make sure you disclose that you are using affiliate links to abide by all legal guidelines. A quick disclosure statement before your affiliate links is the best way to tell your readers. Try choosing brands that fit with your niche to maintain integrity and trust with readers.
A few other ways to make money are Google Adsense and Media.net but make sure you have 15-20 posts before you apply to Google Adsense because I applied at only five and received the dreadful “denied” e-mail my first try. I applied to Media.net with over 60 posts so I am not sure how picky they are but I was approved on my first try. The ad directly above this is from Media.net and their ads have a better conversion for me than Google Adsense, but you can use both. They also allow you to customize ads to match your branding. These are both pay-per-click companies and you must reach $100 before cashing out, which is a long wait for new bloggers. These are a great alternative for new bloggers because companies like Adthrive require 100,000 page views a month before you will be accepted. You don’t want to totally clutter your blog with ads but a few on each post won’t hurt. You can start monetizing your blog right away.
These are both pay-per-click companies and you must reach $100 before cashing out, which is a long wait for new bloggers. These are a great alternative for new bloggers because companies like Adthrive require 100,000 page views per month to apply. The ad directly above this paragraph is from Media.net. They allow you to customize your ad to match your branding. Sign up for media.net here.
Other Affiliate Programs:
Shareasale, Impact Radius, and CJ affiliates are three others I use. These platforms represent many companies including Wayfair, Old Navy, Target, Jane, SheIn, and Priceline, just to name a few. Furthermore, apply for each company within the affiliate platform and the company will notify you if you are accepted. There are many other affiliate programs out there. Just search “affiliate program” and the company name for a store or brand you are interested in representing.
Linqua is a company that connects bloggers with brands for sponsored posts and campaigns.
I also love Ultimate Bundles affiliate program. They sell bundles that people will actually want at a great value. Check them out here.
Also, Ebates has an amazing referral program (you can make $25 per referral plus multipliers). Also, you can promote Ebates without a blog. Hello, Social Media!
Last but not least, Bluehost has an amazing affiliate program. After you sign up for Bluehost, join the affiliate program and you will be able to add the HTML to blog posts or your sidebar.
There are many other affiliate programs out there. Many large bloggers will pay a commission if you promote their books or classes. It can all be overwhelming at first, so I recommend choosing one or two to start with and adding more as you gain experience.
For more money-saving and making tips, join my Newsletter below. I use Mailerlite (Free up to 1000 email subscribers), but some other options are Convertkit (paid but has more features), and Mailchimp (Free up to 2000 subscribers). I highly recommend setting up an e-mail service as soon as you feel comfortable and find the time.
Starting a blog may seem super scary and hard, especially if you are not tech savvy, but if you follow my tutorial above, you will soon conclude it is as easy as a day at the beach (oh, and you can work from the beach too!) After you have everything set up, keep writing. Nonetheless, one of the best ways to get page views and new followers is to post often. I post once a week because as a mom, it is what works for me and my content doesn’t suffer, but if you have more time, I suggest posting more.
After you post, be sure to promote your post. You do not want to be speaking to an empty room. Use your social media platforms such as Facebook, Instagram, Twitter, and my personal favorite Pinterest (seriously, you need a Pinterest account if you are a blogger). Check out my links and follow me on social media. Blogging is hard work but setting up your website is a cinch with Bluehost.
Please leave me a comment if you have any questions. I will be sure to respond. Best of luck to you on your blogging journey. You can achieve your goals and make this happen!
As always, thank you for your visit. Take care! – Sarah
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