Starting a blogging business can be the best way to create your very own PCS proof job
The best part about blogging is that it can go anywhere with you, you can set it up so that it runs on autopilot, makes you money while you are spending time with your kids and you can work in advance if you need to step away for a PCS.
It is so easy to set up and unlike any other business out there- it costs very little to get started (mostly your time)
It is completely possible to make money from blogging and many bloggers make a full-time income (or more) from the comfort of their own home. Many military spouses have also embraced this awesome opportunity to never have to job hunt again and be their own boss!
By the end of this article you will have your very own website and a list of tools you need to succeed.. are you ready?
1. Decide on your long-term goals
Take a moment to think about your long-term goals. Take out a piece of paper and make a list. Do you want to make money, and grow a business? Do you want a hobby to keep you busy, or maybe just a part-time gig.
Whatever you decide is fine, it’s OK to think “I want to make money with this” It’s how you do it that counts!
If you want a hobby you can create a free blog with wordpress.com or blogger. This will not be a good option for you if you want to make money as these platforms often do not allow ads or affiliate links.
If you want to grow a business then you will need a self-hosted blog. This is not super expensive, even on a budget you can afford this!
What does self-hosted mean?
It means you own your site, it’s why my site is “www.momsdontsleep.com” and not “www.momsdontsleep.wordpress.com”. I own my site, I do what I want with it and it is much more professional when you are running a business.
2. Choose a niche and pick a name!
What are you going to write about? Here are some popular choices:
- Finance/ budgeting
- Marriage/ Relationships
- Teaching (this generally requires you to be an expert in an area that you wish to teach others)
It’s best to pick one main one and if you want to subdivide a little that’s fine. My main niche is military life however I always discuss parenting a little (but still try to keep it focused on a military life perspective)
Try to avoid picking one and then being too broad about your topics. Here’s what I’m talking about:
OK: You have a fitness blog and sometimes include healthy recipes
AVOID: You have a fitness blog but you are talking about how to get your kid to sleep, cool DIY activities with them, and how to keep your relationship fresh.
The key to picking your niche is asking yourself, “what problem can I solve for people?”
Blogging is all about solving people’s problems. People do not want to come to your website to read a public version of your diary. They want content that will solve a problem for them (like how to get their kids to stay in their bed all night, etc)
Once you have a niche picked out, it’s time to choose a name! Pick a name that is related to your topic and isn’t already taken! 🙂
3. Get hosting!
Time to get hosting for your site! You can choose any hosting service you want, but I use Bluehost. Bluehost is the best you can get for your money, it is incredibly inexpensive and works great, plus their customer service is awesome!
You will want to head over to Bluehost and click on sign up now
Enter your domain name in the “New Domain” field and click next (you can also transfer an existing domain if you have one but this will take a few extra steps)
After you click next you will be redirected to a page that asks for your information, fill out all the required fields.
Once your information is filled out, you will select your plan. Plans start as low as $3.95/month and if you are brand new, you will not need a more advanced plan right now.
Select any add-ons that you want.. these include:
- SiteLock Security
- Site Backup Pro
- Search Engine Jumpstart
These are optional and completely up to you if you want to buy them.
4. Set up your platform
You might be super excited about having a brand new website but you aren’t quite done yet! You will have to set up the platform that your domain will run on.
Think of it this way: if your domain name is the address then the platform is your home!
NOTE: This is wordpress.org NOT wordpress.com – they are DIFFERENT!!!
This is NOT hard and very easy to set up yourself (in other words, you don’t need to pay someone to do this for you!) SO here we go…
Sign into your Cpanel through your hosting service and scroll to the One-Click Installs. You will see an option for WordPress… click on it!
This will begin the installation process; first you will choose the domain you want to install wordpress on (your domain!)
Next, choose your username and password in the advanced options. Then make sure the “Automatically create a new database for this installation” box is checked.
Read the terms and conditions and check that box as well and then click install now!
Once WordPress is finished installing you can log in to your site by going to the admin login page URL and entering your username and password. Play around to get familiar with WordPress. Youtube video tutorials help a lot!
*I highly suggest making a very weird and long password that makes no sense like “UfkLw832njk233!nE” and then save it somewhere in your computer: blogs get hacked all the time and you don’t want that to happen to you! (read the suggested plugins section in step #6)
5. Choose a theme
Sweet! You have a website, time to make it pretty! Think of your website as your storefront. You want it to be clean, professional, but appealing. Make it easy for people to navigate!
There are free options from WordPress and these can be okay temporarily but you will want to at least invest in a more advanced, professional theme.
I suggest Pretty Darn Cute Design. This is where I purchased my theme and all of their themes are very simple and professional looking, generally ranging from $40-$50. I have wasted a lot of money on cheaper options that don’t work as well, so I don’t recommended going the “cheapest route”
Another great thing about them is that they will provide you will step by step instructions so that your page will look EXACTLY like the demo (trust me, this is very hard to do yourself without those instructions) or there’s an option to get it set up for you so you don’t have to do any work at all!
The next step up is to have a website designed for you. The benefit of this is that your site design will be unique to your site and you can work with the designer to have it exactly the way you want it. However, this generally runs about $500. If you want to go this route then I suggest Pixel Me Designs.
6. Suggested Plugins
There are so many plugins out there, and it can be very overwhelming so I’m going to save you a lot of time. Here are some suggested plugins to get you started:
Insert Headers and Footers– You will need this for inserting code required by some sites to “verify” your website (like pinterest, google, etc)
Limit Attempts– This allows you to limit login attempts to a certain number, good for security
Lockdown WP Admin- My favorite security feature. All WordPress sites have the same login URL which is why they are hacked so often. This plugin allows you to change your login URL so bots can’t even access the login screen
Pinterest Pin It Button On Image Hover– Shows a Pinterest pin it button when you hover over any image on your site.. makes it easy for your stuff to get pinned.
WP Super Cache– a caching system that increases the speed of your website
Yoast SEO– the most fool-proof way to master SEO.. super easy to use to make sure search engines can find your site.
Grammarly– This is not a plugin, but it is an extremely helpful app that is installed on your computer. It checks everything you type for grammar and spelling errors (not just in WordPress but in everything!) I don’t know what I would do without it.
Honestly, these are pretty much the only plugins I have, maybe one or two more that are not super important. You don’t need a ton of plugins, they slow down your site and can cause other problems.
7. Create a logo
I may be certified in graphic design by I. hate. logos!! I hate making them, I always did, I have no idea why.
I also didn’t have a ton of money to pay a graphic designer so I went to Fiverr. Fiverr is an awesome site that has pretty much everything you could possibly need and most of the time it only costs $5.
Need a logo? $5. Need a facebook ad image? $5. Need a sales pitch? $5.
Now keep in mind, $5 is $5, you kinda get what you get. I was lucky to get a pretty decent logo for my money. I did have to pay a little extra for the vector image (I can edit it in photoshop and the background is translucent which is what I needed for my blog graphics)
If you are feeling ambitious, you can also use Canva to design your own.
Side note: I did end up sucking it up and made my own logo (the one with the little toy soldiers)
8. Start writing!
There are two major things I have learned since I started blogging:
1- Know your audience
2- Solve their problems
Like I said earlier, blogging is not about keeping an online diary. I have seen many of these and thats OK if this is your hobby. Blogs that are businesses need to solve problems.
So say your target audience is military spouses. What are their problems? Deployments, unemployment, finances, solo-parenting, care package ideas, PCSing, the list goes on.
You will want to start out with a story, something to grab their attention. Then talk about the topic of the article (the problem) and explain your solution and how it worked for you.
People will continue to return for great content! Always end with a “call to action” (something you want them to do) such as subscribe to my blog or leave a comment.
9. Create graphics and master Pinterest
The key to traffic (especially when starting out) is Pinterest. I went from 0 to 30,000 page views in 4 months because of Pinterest. You will also want to get to know SEO (that’s how you get traffic from google- but it takes time!)
The key to Pinterest is graphics. You need verticle, eye-catching graphics that highlight your brand. Unless you are amazing at photography, you will want to use stock photos for your pins. I suggest Pixabay, Canva, and Dollar photo for the most budget conscious.
Don’t have time? I’ll make them for you, check out my rates here.
Now time to master Pinterest.
I can’t explain the ins and outs of Pinterest in a short paragraph. But I CAN tell you that there is a lot more to it than you realize. You need a business account, rich pins, group boards, coordinating colors, keyword rich descriptions, and a bunch more. You will also eventually need BoardBooster or some other pin scheduler (another popular option is tailwind but it is significantly more expensive, I personally use BoardBooster)
My secret for Pinterest success is The Pinterest Strategy Guide. Worth every penny. Seriously, I can’t say enough about this guide. It is literally less than 5 pages, it has everything you need (and nothing you don’t) and is very step-by-step. The creator of the guide went from $18 to $18,000 in less than 18 months- need I say more? (P.S. this guide does require the use of BoardBooster)
10. Set up an email list
I think of one my favorite things about blogging is my email list. This is where I can engage with my readers, ask them questions, help them directly with what they are struggling with, and promote products I believe in.
Having an email list is not an optional part of blogging, especially if you want to monetize your blog. I highly recommend ActiveCampaign. I recently switched to them from Aweber. While I liked Aweber, it got expensive quickly as my email list grew and it was not as easy to use. ActiveCampaign is extremely easy to use, the analytics are better and it’s much cheaper. I have used Mailchimp and it is free for up to 1,000 subscribers which might seem nice at first but you won’t have the option to have automatic emails.
When someone subscribes to your email list you need to be able to have a welcome email sent to them automatically. The best way to get someone to subscribe is to offer them an opt-in offer (example: mine is 50+ pages of military discounts) when they opt in, they need a way to get that offer which is where the automatic email comes in.
I also use my welcome sequence as a way to ask the reader to introduce themselves and tell me a little more about what they are struggling with as a way to gauge what my readers want to read.
It’s important for your opt-in offer to attract your ideal reader and is something that everyone wants. My ideal reader is military spouses with children who are budget conscious. My opt-in offer deals with saving money and my site, in general, attracts women with children. Everyone wants to save money and 50+ pages is a lot of content to get for free! Therefore my opt-in offer is a good one (don’t worry, I had several terrible ones prior to this).
It’s all about trial and error.
11. Monetize your site
The first thing you need to do is buy How to Blog For Profit Without Selling Your Soul it is simply the best book on blogging I have ever read and for under $20 you can not beat the value. It is very step by step and tells you everything you know about making money from your blog.
But for the sake of this article, I will go into some details of my monetization methods.
There are several ways for bloggers to make money. These include:
- Sponsored posts
- Affiliate sales
- Selling products or services
Some bloggers choose to implement all of them, some only implement a few. It’s up to you which way you want to go.
Ads are the easiest to implement but it takes a long time to make money from it. You need a lot of traffic and most of the good ad sites won’t accept you until your page views are at least 80,000 monthly. Start with Google Adsense and Media.net and go from there but do not rely on this as your only way to make money.
Selling products or services take a bit of time and it’s better to wait until you have an established audience. You don’t want to waste time and money on a product that your audience doesn’t want. Once you have established readers you can tailor your product to what they really want to buy and use your email list as a way to launch it.
I highly recommend digital products. These generally cost very little to make so the profits are high, and once it is made (like graphics) or written (like an ebook) then there is no more work to be done (unlike if you had to make your product each time someone purchased it). I have used woocommerce for selling my digital products but with LOTS of issues I have recently switched over to SendOwl and I LOVE it. Prices are great, the platform is great and easy to use, and you can even set up an affiliate program of your own to get others to sell your products for you!
Affiliate sales are a good place to start. You can start with amazon and anything else that you use and love. My secret to mastering affiliates through my email list? The Core Affiliate Strategy Yes it’s written by the same person who wrote the Pinterest Strategy Guide and it’s very step by step as well but seriously my very first affiliate launch using this guide helped me make over $50 and I had way under the suggested 2,000 subscribers.
Sponsored posts are probably the best way to get started making money when your traffic and email list isn’t where it needs to be. If you think your audience is too small for companies to want to work with you, stop it. To me, it’s more important for my audience to be engaged. I developed a professional media kit and sponsorship package with set rates (and also included bundles that include a combination of services) which I send out directly to companies. As you blog grows, companies will start reaching out to you. Sponsored posts are how I made my first “paycheck” blogging.
I implement all of the strategies above. Be careful before buying blogging resources, if you buy every blogging resource out there that sounds good then you will likely run out of money long before you make any. With each product you buy, you need to take them step by step, implement the strategies the author suggests and see if they work for your audience. If they don’t, change what you need to change, and go from there.
I think it also goes without saying to do your research on the person you are buying from. Is this person where you want to be? The author of the Pinterest Strategy Guide and the Affiliate Strategy Guide is making over $30,000 per MONTH. The author of How to Blog For Profit Without Selling Your Soul is making 7 figures. These are the two women that I learn almost everything from, if they suggest something I am likely to at least look into it.
Ready for the next step? Dive deeper into how to make money blogging by learning all about the resources I use to monetize my blog!! Click here!
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