When I started my Mrs. January, it was a personal diary. After talking about my own couponing escapades numerous times, my readers suggested turning the blog into a couponing site. Considering that’s mostly what I talked about anyway, I figured, why not? I love teaching people how to save money – especially with coupons!
So, around 2008, the site switched from personal diary to frugal living and coupon blog.
Now, 6 years after making the switch, I can proudly say that I am the owner of a very successful business, with a small team of amazing people, and thousands of readers that visit MapleMoney daily to learn all about saving money, using coupons, and of course – finding awesome deals!
And now, I want YOU to have that same success. If you’ve ever thought about starting your own blog, this series is for you.
How to Start a Blog
I’ve had numerous requests for a blog post on starting a blog and making it profitable. What a great idea! Anything to help you earn some extra cash. However, this cannot be explained in one post, or you’d be reading for days and days!
Instead, every Monday for the next month, I’m going to share my tips on starting a blog and how you can make money blogging.
This week, we’re going to talk about setting up your blog – the most important first step for any successful blog.
Setting up Your Blog – Domain Name
The very first thing you’re going to need is a place to send your readers! Have you given any thought to what you want to write about? Maybe you’re a gardening enthusiast and love talking about how to garden. Maybe you are a fashionista and get giddy when it comes to fashion. Or maybe you’re like me and you love teaching others how to save money.
Decide on your topic, then, buy your domain name. And yes, I said buy your domain name. Don’t get a domain on a free site, such as Blogspot or WordPress.com. People take you much more seriously if you own your domain name (.COM is the best, too, if you can get it!).
I recommend Namecheap for your domain name, simply because the site is easy to use and domain names are very inexpensive (they often have coupon codes available, too!). Not only that, but they have incredible customer service. Without a coupon code, a domain name will cost you around $10/year on Namecheap. That’s it!
Setting up Your Blog – Hosting
The second thing you need to do after you’ve purchased your domain, is to find a good hosting company. There are tons of them out there, but many are crap, if I can be so blunt.
Now that the site is much bigger, we had to switch to a different hosting company, but I always recommend Siteground to new bloggers because they really just cannot be beat for newcomers!
Setting up Your Blog – Design
First impressions are everything, so you need to make sure that your site is presentable before you start sending people there to check it out. I recommend WordPress as your blogging platform. It’s free, it’s easy to use, and it’s one of the most widely used blogging platforms out there.
This also means you need to design your site. If you’re not a designer, please don’t pretend to be. Hire it out. There are many affordable options out there when it comes to web design. My favourite is Fiverr.com. It’s amazing how much people will do for just $5!
If you really can’t afford to spend anything on design, check out the free WordPress themes that are available. There are tons of them, and many are very nice! If you can afford it, try to at least purchase a header for your site, or a small logo – just so you can personalize your blog.
Setting up Your Blog – Content
This is the fun part – deciding what to write about. This week, try to come up with 100 blog post ideas. You don’t need to write the content, just the ideas for blog posts. Write down as many ideas as you can think of, but keep your topic in mind. If your blog is about fashion, it would be silly to write a post about saving money on cat food.
Take a look at your favourite blogs in your niche/topic. What posts have they written that received a lot of comments and social media shares? Can you write similar posts for your blog (don’t copy them, of course – put your own spin on things and make your content original)? Write these ideas down, too.
Look on Google Keyword Tool and search for your topic. You will see all sorts of keyword ideas – those could be your blog posts. For example, if you blogged about DIY projects, you could write articles on DIY Mother’s Day Gifts, DIY Pet Toys, DIY Wall Decor, DIY Furniture, etc.
Use the Google keyword tool to find the most popular keywords in your niche, and then build content around those keywords.
Increase Your Readership
If you really want to make money blogging, you’re going to have to make sure you have visitors coming to your website. Increasing your readership doesn’t have to be difficult, but it does take time to grow a large, targeted audience.
Here are some of the best ways to increase blog readers:
1. Network with other bloggers
This one is so obvious, but I see many people skip this. It’s very difficult to build your blog from the ground up all alone. Spend some time chatting with other bloggers (in and outside of your chosen niche) and building real, genuine friendships.
I’ve learned so many things about blogging from other bloggers. Not just reading their blogs, but actually having conversations with them. Real conversations where they don’t sugarcoat anything for me. Because that’s what friends are for.
2. Produce quality content – consistently
This has been said so many times, but it still rings true today. If you produce mediocre content, you will receive mediocre traffic, and therefor – it will be very hard for you to make money blogging!
Always be on top of your game and go out of your way to make every bit of content you produce for your blog amazing. Also, posting consistently (at least 3 times per week, but ideally, every day) will help to keep your readers engaged and always coming back for more.
3. Comment on other blogs
This is not something I do anymore, because it really takes a lot of time, but it’s one of the best things you can do for a new blog that no one has heard about yet.
Make it a goal to comment on at least 5, 10, 15, 30… (you decide) blogs every week. And remember – don’t post “great post” type comments on the blog posts. Read the post, and leave a thoughtful comment. If you take the time to write a nice comment that has some depth to it, the blog owner (and likely others commenting) will notice, and probably visit your blog!
4. Write guest posts
Consider writing some guest posts for other bloggers to help build your audience. There are many blogs out there that accept well-written guest posts from other bloggers, and this is a fantastic way to introduce yourself to a whole new audience!
Make sure to read over any guidelines for guest posting (if they have any), and always – ALWAYS – triple check your article for typos and grammatical errors. Write a little blurb about yourself and include a link to your blog, then watch the traffic start coming in once the article is published!
5. Host giveaways
Everyone loves a good giveaway, so why not use this to your advantage and offer one on your blog to increase your readership?
If you really want to get some serious traffic, make sure the giveaway you’re offering is a big one. Offer something that is hard to get, or is expensive enough that many people won’t buy one of themselves. Gift cards to popular stores (like Walmart) are also a great idea.
The other thing to keep in mind is that it needs to be simple. Make it very easy for someone to enter your giveaway. Leaving a comment and including their email address should be good enough for most giveaways!
One of the best ways to grow your blog and increase traffic, is to take advantage of the many social media platforms that are out there.
I recommend focusing most of your attention on up to 3 – for me, I love Facebook, Pinterest and Google+, because they always send a considerable amount of traffic my way, when I invest time into them. Twitter also works well for many people. So does YouTube.
Just make sure that you are interacting with your readers on a regular basis. You should make sure to update your social media platforms daily, because letting them sit untouched is not going to help you in any way. Link to your current blog posts, older articles, ask questions, share photos. Keep it updated and your blog will consistently receive traffic from these sites.
Increasing Your Income
Now that you’ve set up your blog and have increased your readership, you can finally start to focus on making money with your blog.
Please keep in mind that this part is not easy and it will certainly not happen overnight. Making pocket change is possible in a few weeks, a part time job is possible in at least 6 months, but making a full-time income with your blog could take a year or more.
Hey, patience is a virtue, right?
Here are some of the ways that you can increase your income on your blog:
1. Google Adsense
Perhaps the most popular of all advertising is the standard pay-per-click ad from companies like Google. Adsense is by far the best, because it is incredibly easy to set up on your site.
“Set it, and forget it!”, as it’s been said. It really is that easy. Put some ads on your site, and start collecting money. That’s it.
Remember not to overload your site with ads, though. People don’t like that. Also, make sure to play around with the placement of your ads and keep a close eye on your statistics to see where the best spot is to put Adsense ads on your blog.
2. Private Ads
If you’d like to have better control of what kind of things are displayed on your site, you can offer private ads, one-on-one, with advertisers. You can decide on the size of the ad and how much you will charge the advertiser per month.
Collect payment, post the ad, and that’s it. You’re done. Be sure to follow up before month’s end to see if you’re advertiser would like to renew. It’s also a good idea to offer a discount for advertisers that purchase an ad spot for 3 months at a time or more. 10% or 15% off the total price is pretty standard.
3. Affiliate Marketing
Perhaps my favourite form of making money online, affiliate advertising is another easy way to make money blogging. Simply promote products and services that you think your readers will enjoy, and get paid a commission for referring them.
If you have a make-up blog, you can promote your favourite make-up brands, make-up brushes and beauty services, if they have affiliate programs.
Some of my favourite affiliate programs are:
If you blog about something specific, such as make-up or gluten-free baking, for example, you can write an eBook. Yes, even if you’re not a writer.
One thing that people consistently buy over and over again is information. They will buy information over a product any day. At least, that’s what I’ve noticed with my business. So – give them an information product to purchase and they will buy it!
Of course, not everyone will buy your eBooks, but many will. Especially if your book is unique and offers something completely different than what is currently out there. Don’t bother writing an eBook with tips for the perfect smokey eye. It’s been done. Don’t bother writing an eBook about going gluten-free on a budget. It’s also been done.
Instead, come up with something very creative – something you know your readers will love – and start writing! For more tips on creating an eBook, I highly recommend this resource (I used it and it helped me).
5. Sponsored Content
If you’re okay with a bit of sponsored content on your blog (when a company/sponsor pays you to write about them), then this is another easy way to make money with your blog.
The number one thing you want to remember about sponsored posts is that they are genuine and something your readers will find valuable. For example, if you wrote a blog about sewing, you wouldn’t write a sponsored post about motorcycles. However, if a company that makes fantastic sewing machines wanted you to write a sponsored post about their machines, this would be a much better fit for your blog.
As for how much to charge for these posts – well, it really depends on how much traffic you receive and can send to your sponsor. Talk with them to decide on an amount, but don’t sell yourself short! Also – always remember to disclose that the blog post is sponsored when you write it.
So there you have it. 5 ways to increase your blog income, using 5 different revenue-generating sources. All of which I personally use, and love.
Don’t forget – building a blog that generates enough income for you to quit your day job takes a very, very long time (and for some people, it just never happens). Be persistent, though, and you can do great things!
How Blogging Saved My Sanity
Before I started MapleMoney.com back in 2007, I was always telling my random stories to my then boyfriend (now husband) and my family. Stories about what I had done one day, about my feelings, about anything and everything. I talked a lot.
But there were some things I really just didn’t feel comfortable sharing with people I knew, and that’s why I started my blog. I never posted anonymously, but I also never told my friends and family that I had a blog, either. I just wrote because I loved writing and wanted to share my thoughts with others.
I have a problem with having too many thoughts in my head at all times. This is why I think I will never be able to meditate like I want to – my brain just does NOT shut off. Ever.
When I have too many thoughts in my head, I start to go a bit crazy. I get super cranky, irritable and am overall just not a pleasant person to be around. That’s why I started blogging. I needed to get those thoughts out of my head. I needed sanity and that’s exactly what blogging gave to me.
Who knew that seven years later that blog would be my full-time gig, making a full time income. If I hadn’t started writing years back, I have no idea where I would be right now.
I still have a full, thought-filled brain quite often, but with regular blogging and journaling (as well as making a million to-do lists every day!), I’m able to clear my brain enough that I can focus on doing my work, one thing at a time.
I love blogging. Not just because I believe it keeps me sane, but for many other reasons, including:
- Blogging keeps me connected to the outside world (as an introvert, it’s easy for my to spend a lot of time at home!)
- Blogging helps me to meet new people easily (again, very helpful for an introvert!)
- Blogging has taught me how to focus on one task at a time
- Blogging has taught me how to write better
- Blogging has given me many opportunities for business growth (TV appearances, radio interviews, etc.)
- Blogging has allowed me to financially support my family
It’s easy to be a blogger. It’s easy to sit down and type up a blog post on a regular basis. It’s not always easy, on the other hand, to hit publish. As a people pleaser, I always worry what others will think about the things I write. I often censor myself because I don’t want to offend anyone with my words or information about my past (which I seem to do anyway, but I digress…). Not many people know that I don’t believe in religion, that I swear like a trucker and that I used to be a nude model for a living.
Because I hide those things. Out of fear that I will disappoint someone. Even though I know that I can’t possibly make everyone happy, I still try. Which is pretty ridiculous, but that’s how it is.
I don’t plan on censoring myself anymore (watch out, world!), but I will always try to make my readers happy because without you, this blog would not be around.
What I’m trying to say is that without blogging, I wouldn’t have this amazing life that I have. Of course I have bad days like anyone else, but I am still so grateful that I am able to live the way that I do. No boss giving me orders, no set working hours, and limitless creative freedom. Working for yourself is truly an amazing thing, and I’m so glad I sat down to blog on day one, so I can live this life today.
Would you like to start your own blog (or do you already have one)? What’s stopping you?