You have your blog set up.
Now what? How do you actually start growing your business and monetizing your blog?
Here is a resource list of every plugin, app, service, and class that Moms Don't Sleep has used to grow our blog in less than a year. If you haven't been following our income reports, you can check those out here.
The reality is that the majority of bloggers don't know where to start, they spin their wheels in the wrong direction and never make more than $100. Most give up before finding any kind of effective monetization method. Don't let that be you, you can absolutely do this.
Most importantly, you need to be self hosted. If you haven't set up a self hosted site, go back to How to Easily Start a Blog. There are also tons of resources on that page as well and it will walk you step by step though the process of setting up a good foundation for your blog.
Anti-Spam- Keeps the spam comments away without a captcha
Contact form 7- Easy set up for my contact page.
Facebook Widget- That little pop up box that invites people to like my FB page with one little click
Google Analytics by MonsterInsights- A non-glitchy way to connect google analytics to my site (P.S. I installed this after having to pay $40 to fix my site after my previous google analytics plugin broke it! This plugin was recommended by my tech guy)
Image Widget- Easy way to add images to your side bar for those that are not techy (like me)
Insert Headers and Footers- Allows you to add code to the header and footer section of your blog, needed for a lot of "verifications" to connect your site to things like google, pinterest, etc (so they know that you are actually the owner of your site)
Limit Attempts by BestWebSoft- Limits password attempts, stops hackers
Lockdown WP Admin- My favorite security plugin. Changes the login URL so hackers can't even get to that page.
Pinterest Pin It Button On Image Hover And After Post & Page Content- Adds the little pop up pinterest button when you hover any image automatically.
Simple Social Icons- Adds the little social media icons to my menu bar
Thrive Leads- I use Thrive for my opt-ins, I recently switched to this and absolutely love it. I can not recommend it enough and it works with multiple email services. Super easy to use if you are not techy.
Thrive Landing Pages- For all my landing pages, again- thrive is awesome and easy to use!
Wordfence Security- Anti-spam, malware and firewall- keeps my page safe!
WP Super Cache- keeps my page loading quickly
Yoast SEO- Makes SEO a little easier so google can other search engines can find your site.
Apps and Other Tools
Grammarly- For those that aren't great at spelling and grammar. Works in ALL text fields from your blog post to social media posts and email. I love it and it's FREE.
Sendowl- Allows people to buy your digital products. It's so easy to use (way better than woocommerce in my opinion, I had a lot of issues with woocommerce) and you can also set up an affiliate program so others can promote your product and make a commission.
Boardbooster- I have used tailwind and boardbooster and I prefer boardbooster because I think it's easier to use, more effective, and cheaper.
Bluehost- We are hosted through Bluehost, it's extremely affordable and the customer service is awesome
Fiverr- A cheap way to get a bunch of different services (usually for $5!)
A Blog Planner- I use this one. I love my blog planner!! It was FREE (printable) but I did pay Staples to have it bound into an actual book. Tip- If you print it at home and then have staples bind it, its significantly cheaper (about $4!) but you can also do it all right from your computer 🙂
The Best Learning Tools
There are SO MANY resources on growing your blog, monetizing your blog, growing our email list, etc. out there. You would absolutely go broke if you spent your money on all of them and probably wouldn't actually get anywhere because most of the info out there conflicts and just causes your wheels to spin more. We have taken other courses than this list but these are the ones that actually helped up grow.
How To Blog For Profit Without Selling Your Soul- The absolute BEST book out there, so comprehensive and in depth and just.. awesome. Really affordable as well!
Pinterest Strategy Guide- This is the exact strategy we used to go from 0 to 30,000 pageviews/month in 3 months. I highly recommend it, it's worth every penny.
P.S. To really rock pinterest, you NEED to have pinnable images; Let me help you!
Core Affiliate Guide- If you already have a email list (I'd recommend at least 1,500-2,000 subscribers) then I highly recommend this affiliate guide. It walks you though, step-by-step and shows you exactly how to monetize your list while helping your readers.
List Building Jumpstart- If you don't have a email list, you NEED one. This is not a optional part of blogging if you want this to be your business (I'm not kidding!). This academy will walk you through the steps you need to take to create an effective opt-in offer and how to promote it to jumpstart your email list.
Work From Anywhere- This academy is only open for enrollment a few times a year, but they also have other learning material geared specifically towards military spouses starting a business and what they need to do to get it set up and grow.
Affiliates are a great way to start earning money from your blog. If you have used something and love it (and think your readers will too) then see if they have an affiliate program! Most businesses do. You will earn a commission from everyone that signs up or purchases that product through your link.
There are two major rules to follow when it comes to affiliates:
1. Never promote something that you do not absolutely LOVE and would recommend to your best friend.
2. Keep your readers interest in mind! Just because I use Secret deodorant doesn't mean I'm going to waste my time telling my readers to buy it; they are military spouses who struggle with deployments, finances, and employment (hence why I push PCS proofing your career through blogging!)
Here are some popular affiliate sites to join:
Sponsored posts are an excellent way to monetize your blog, especially if you are still growing your traffic rates (in other words, ad revenue and affiliates aren't making a lot).
When you are just starting out, it is best to pitch directly to companies that you want to work with, but there are also sites that help connect influencers with sponsored opportunities. Some examples are:
I don't generally recommend doing a TON of ads on your site as it will slow it down. I suggest picking 2-3 and sticking to those (plus it's less work!) Ones I've used/recommend:
Adsense (currently use)
Media.net (currently use)
Adthrive- high number of monthly pageviews (100k) required to be accepted, not for beginners.
Products are an excellent way to make money from your blog. However, I don't recommend doing it until you know exactly who your audience is, you have a solid email list, and you know what they want. If you jump into product making without having that foundation (talking from experience) you could end up wasting a lot of time, money, and setting yourself back.
If you do have a solid foundation and have everything else set up and ready to go then here are some of my recommended tools for creating and promoting your products:
*I highly recommend digital products (PDFs, ebooks, ecourses, etc) they are extremely popular and a low cost way to create something. Plus, once it is created (other than minor updates down the road) it doesn't cost you anymore money or take up any more of your time (unlike creating physical products in which you would have to consider the material costs, shipping costs, and production time)
Sendowl- This is the best platform for selling your digital products. You upload your product, they give you a link and you post it on your site (usually in the form of a "buy now" button on your landing page). If the person purchases it, it will redirect them to a payment page and then sendowl will send them their product automatically via email. The platform also enables you to set up an affiliate program to have other bloggers in your niche promote and sell your product for you in exchange for a commission on the sales they generated. Bonus: it's extremely affordable.
Thrive- Speaking of landing pages, thrive is your best option. It is extremely easy to use for those that are not super tech savvy and it is the best buy for your money. You can either simply just purchase the landing page option at ONE flat rate (this is HUGE because most services charge monthly for landing pages) or you can buy ALL of their services for a low monthly rate. I personally purchased landing pages AND leads for their one time flat fee; I also did not make this purchase until I was making consistent money with my blog.
That being said, If you have a product- you need a landing page for it! This is a page that is dedicated to that product and everything someone needs to know about it before they buy. It is a big sales pitch that is so convincing that by the end of the page the person knows exactly how much they need your product. Here is an example of a fantastic landing page.
Canva- Canva is a free online tool that allows you design PDFs, printables, ebook covers, etc. I also use canva to design my images for my blog. They do have a membership that you can upgrade to but it is not necessary, they also have a ton of awesome stock images for just $1. You can also use Picmonkey (lots of people use it, I personally don't but it's along the same lines; I tried it out and thought canva was easier)
There are tons of ways to make money with your blog. My two favorites are affiliates and products because they truly help your reader by providing them with a resource and a solution to their problems. Whatever way you choose, remember to always follow FTC guidelines and keep your overall goal in mind 🙂
Want to stay updated on blogging resources and income reports from Moms Don't Sleep? Sign up to our email list!
Some of the links provided are affiliate links. I never promote a product that I don't LOVE and truly believe will benefit my reader! If you purchase the product, your overall cost is not affected and I will receive a small commission.