Starting a Blog
Thinking about starting your own blog but have no idea where to begin? I’ve been there! Starting a blog seems simple enough: use a free website creator, throw up some content, tell your friends about it on social media, and watch your views go up…right?
Well, not so much. Blogging can be as much or as little as you want it to be. If you’re just looking for a space to write down your thoughts and share them with a few friends, then the above actions are perfect for you! But, if you want to use your blog as a business, then you have to treat it like one.
When I first started Joyful Tots, I knew I wanted it to be able to grow. I told myself it would be okay if I never made a dime off of it, but I was still going to treat it like a business. Now, here I am, 4 months into blogging, and I have had the opportunity to work with some great brands and have even become a contributor to a paying site. It’s exciting when you see progress!
*This page does contain affiliate links. See Disclosure for more information.
I chose to build my blog using Bluehost. What I love about Bluehost is that they pretty much take care of everything for you. You create an account, buy your domain, choose a hosting plan, and then build your site. They already work with WordPress, which is commonly used among bloggers, so it’s so easy to set up! The benefit of using Bluehost is that you own your domain, your site is protected, and you have the freedom to run it the way you want. Which means, you can add custom templates, ads, etc., and you have room to grow. Really spend time thinking about your domain before you purchase it. You will be creating social media pages with this same name and building a following. Make sure it is a name that is marketable and allows for growth. Don’t limit your content by choosing too specific of a domain name.
Once your blog is up and running, you will want to create content. Don’t rush this part! You want some content to be on your blog before you open it up to your readers, so they have some material to browse through. You don’t want readers to come to your site, only find one article, then leave with no interest in returning. You want them to be so engrossed in everything you have to offer that they want to keep coming back. I would recommend having at least 5 posts available before you hit “publish” on your blog. It doesn’t have to take long to get them up, but do make sure it is quality writing that fits within your “niche,” and that you have clear images to grab attention. This is something my first posts were definitely missing!
Once your site is ready to be published, make sure you have your social media accounts set up as well. I would recommend having a blog Facebook page, Twitter, Instagram and Pinterest for sure. Most brands I have worked with want promotion on these platforms. So, go ahead and start building them up! When you choose your name for your social media accounts, make it as close to your blog name as possible so people have no trouble finding you. Now, the trick to building your social media is consistency and ENGAGEMENT! Don’t just create your pages, post something every few days, and expect to see your following grow. It just won’t.
What you must do in order to grow your social media following is engage with others, post everyday, and use hashtags on everything. I use to despise hashtags in my pre-blogging days, but now they are seriously my best friend. Look at other bloggers in the same niche as you who have successfully built a following and copy their hashtags. These are probably the most current tags you should be using. I always use at least 15 tags per post on Instagram. Use as many as they will let you! Go through the hashtags you use and find people to follow. Generally, the people using the same hashtags that you do are people in your same niche. Like and leave genuine comments on their posts.
Another tip that I have found extremely useful is to join social media engagement groups. For mom bloggers, some of my favorites are:
These groups have helped me grow over the past 4 months so much! They have daily or weekly follow threads as well as comment threads and just overall support. If you leave a link, make sure you reciprocate. Most of the people in these groups are honest and so supportive. They will often jump right in to help if you have a question or are looking for some information.
Once you have set up your blog, your social media, and you have developed somewhat of a following, you can begin looking for ways to monetize your blog (if that’s your goal). The first way I monetized was through product exchange with companies. I reached out to several on my own but also had some find me through social media. Make sure your contact information is very clear on both your blog and your social pages, so if a brand wants to reach out, there is no guessing on how to find you.
Not only do I do reviews in exchange for product, but I also use affiliate links. Affiliate programs are ones you can sign up for to receive a commission for any sales you drive for a company. If you strongly believe in a product and want to recommend it to your readers, you deserve to receive compensation for bringing those customers to the product. I only ever recommend products I actually use. I will not throw up an affiliate link for something I have never used, hoping to make a commission from it. That is unethical. And, you will lose the trust of your readers. Same thing goes for product reviews. Don’t agree to a review just because it’s a free product. Be selective and choose things you actually need or would use on a daily basis. That way, you will have no trouble recommending it to your loyal followers.
Some of my favorite affiliate programs so far are:
Another way to monetize your blog is to do sponsored posts. Now, sponsored posts typically require you to have somewhat of a following before you will be chosen for one. But, they can be a great way to make money if you have the opportunity. Once again, choose to apply to sponsored campaigns that tie into your niche and are relevant to your readers.
One program for sponsored posts that I belong to is Linqia. They pay per click you receive on a sponsored post. I also belong to Social Fabric.
If you are looking for blogging to bring in more income, then you may have to expand your talents outside of just your blog. While all of these ways can eventually make you money, they won’t be bringing it in at first. It takes a lot of time.
One thing I do outside of the blog is contribute to a site that pays me to write. I am payed based on how many views each of my articles receive. So, if you enjoy writing, look for sites that will pay you to contribute. I know many bloggers also have a product that they sell, a book, or courses on how to exceed in a certain trade. All of these are great options for expanding your reach and your income.
I will be sure to keep adding resources as I discover them, so check back!