Hey there, my friends. These are the most helpful tips and resources after 1 year as a midlife blogger that I would love to share with anyone who has just started or is thinking about, starting a blogging business. Even if you’ve been actively blogging for awhile, these tips and inspiration may help boost you to the next level.
Okay, let’s talk more about the details of a beginners guide to blogging.
As a midlife lifestyle blogger, I also know that some of my readers might be curious about what I do, maybe evening considering the possibility themselves, but aren’t sure how to start a blog. I know…it’s a big step at any age and particularly as a woman in midlife!
But first, let’s get one thing on the table. I’m not going to regale you with visions of dollars signs floating (no…streaming) down from the heavens because I started a lifestyle blog for women in midlife. Or show you my Pinterest pin with an income figure that has 6 digits. It would be nice, but it’s not the reality for most.
At least not for me. I started blogging while running a hectic, 7 day a week home staging business, so it was nights and a few hours on the weekend for my blogging hat.
But, it was an inspiration, a vision for the future, that prompted me to begin this journey and continue it through today, and hopefully going forward. Have I made some money? Yes. Am I profitable after my blog related expenses? Some months yes, some months, no. But I can see progress.
Just a quick note here: I’ve taken the next step in my online business and created a course for women in midlife called “Inspire Your Life!”. It has been another huge step and learning curve but I’m very excited about the possibilities!
Why does someone start a blog? For some, it’s to document a time in their life, a particular journey (physical or otherwise), to share something they have a passion for, or for many all of the above + to make money.
If you think you’re going to start a blog, work a couple of hours a day, make a bunch of money and go on lots of vacations, think again. Blogging is long, hard work with a huge amount of competition.
Many people dream of working from home, of being their own boss. I do both, and have done so off and on for a number of years. Most recently I’ve been working for myself in some capacity for about five years.
It is a paradox, I think, working from home, running your own business. It sounds romantic to many, and it does have a lot of perks. But the reality is, there is no paycheck on Friday, no paid vacation or sick time, no paid family medical leave…it is you. All you.
That reality does intimidate, but as long as you are committed, self-motivated, intelligent enough to market yourself and your business (either online or locally) with a niche or product that people want, you can succeed.
But, back to the topic of my first year of blogging, and what I have found most helpful as a newbie. And I am a newbie compared to many seasoned bloggers who have been at this work for 5, 10 or 15 years.
Having said that though, I do have some experience, some wins (losses too!) and feel qualified within that time frame to offer some time-saving tips I’m calling the Beginners Guide to Blogging.
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Beginners Guide to Blogging
My Most Helpful Resources After the First Year
Take a Course and Find the Proper Direction
The course I took to learn how to properly create and set up my blog was from Pete and Heather Reese. They are highly successful bloggers and do an excellent job of helping you start off on the right track.
Mind you, this was not the first blogging course I invested in. But it was the best, by far!
The first thing you do is take their free, 5 day crash course, just to make sure you really want to step into this arena: Start a Money Making Blog – 5 Day Crash Course
NOTE: Even if you already have started your blogging business, if you feel like you need direction and assistance, please take the 5 day crash course! My blog was already in place when I discovered this amazing couple and signed up, and I know that is the case with many others.
From there, I would recommend that you take their full, 30 day course for a much more intensive, and incredibly helpful, blogging education! When I took the course in early 2018 the cost was about $350 (payment plan was available, too). It was money well spent. Once you complete the 5 day crash course you’ll be offered the 30 day course.
MY ADVICE: If you’re going to create a business, and that is what a blog is, do it right. Put in the time, learn how to find your niche, create your blog and material, and market yourself.
NOTE: Once you get your blog established, have some posts published, and feel like you have a handle on how this blogging thing works, I highly recommend that you enroll in the best SEO course there is, Stupid Simple SEO by Mike Pearson.
Mike is very successful, has a wealth of knowledge and is willing to share it freely with his students.
You MUST understand how to optimize your blog posts and pages for Search Engine Optimization (SEO) if you want anyone to find your site through an organic search.
The course costs over $300 (I think he is raising the price) but he offers a payment plan if needed. If you are serious about this career, take this course. Get on the waiting list, as he only opens it up twice a year.
Set Up Your Blog Properly
Create a blog with Word Press…WordPress.org that is! This is very different than a site created with wordpress.com and a foundation of the beginners guide to blogging.
Even though it may seem intimidating, you want a site, your blog, to be yours to create and control. If you use wordpress.com you will not have that autonomy.
NOTE: Choose your site host carefully, as the speed at which your site loads can make or break your success with search engines, Google in particular.
I recently switched to SiteGround and am very happy with my site speed as well as the ease of their dashboard. The cost is reasonable, and I highly recommend that you use their services.
When you sign up for the 5 Day Crash Course with Heather and Pete they will guide you step by step through that process. No worries!
MY ADVICE: Do it right the first time! I didn’t, because I did not understand the power of wordpress.org compared to any other blogging platform.
I was totally intimidated by the idea of ‘themes’…what they were, how to select them (actually, how in the world to find them!) …but I figured it out and you can, too.
Social Media Decisions
As I was working my way through Pete and Heather’s course, there was quite a bit of material about social media and the time, effort and determination needed when it comes to marketing your blog..
I had read, but never understood, the statement that blogging efforts are 20% writing/posting and 80% marketing. What?? Well, what I have learned after one year as a blogger is that it’s absolutely true!
For me in my niche of a blog for women in midlife, it’s Facebook and Pinterest as my main focus, as they are the two platforms that bring me the most engagement and page views, then Instagram and Twitter with some YouTube as well. I need to do more with YouTube and run hot/cold with making videos!
Although you don’t have to, and don’t want to, decide at the onset which social media platforms will be the best for your niche, you’ll want to keep those decisions at the top of your To-Do list.
MY ADVICE: Make sure you understand not only your niche, but who your ideal client is. That will take you a long way toward understanding which social media platforms will perform the best for you.
Organize Your Marketing Efforts
As you work your way, step by step, through the process of creating blog posts and marketing them on your selected social media platforms, engaging with those who sign up for your newsletter, freebie or printable, you’ll learn that it can quickly become overwhelming.
- How can you keep track of what you’ve done, where you’ve posted and what comes next?
- Where can you find the best photos and easy-to-use method for creating beautiful images, pins and other forms of social media?
On the one hand, you don’t want to throw a bunch of money at a new business that is not making much money, if at all. On the other hand, any legitimate business requires investment of both time and money in order to grow and ultimately, become successful.
What follows, my blogging hopefuls, are the best ‘tools of the trade’ I’ve found in my first year as a blogger. They are a crucial part of the Beginners Guide to Blogging!
Email marketing: Mail Chimp You’ll read about a number of sources for email marketing, and there are many good ones out there. I’ve used Mail Chimp for a number of years, way before I started blogging. It has always been a dependable source for me, and the price can’t be beat at FREE for a small account.
Now, once you get established and want a mail service that will give you a boatload of options, consider switching to ConvertKit. Why? Well, without getting into too much detail that might not mean anything to you at this point, ConvertKit allows you so much more flexibility with opt-ins. And that my friend, can help you grow your email list quickly.
ConvertKit is not free, but it is well worth the cost!
Pinning Scheduler: Tailwind If Pinterest is anywhere on your radar, using a scheduler is extremely helpful! Tailwind is compatible with Pinterest, which is really important, it’s not hard to use and worth every penny. I have invested a little bit more into using their new SmartLoop option for scheduling evergreen content.
Speaking of Pinterest, I decided to purchase a premium plug-in called Tasty Pins, to make inserting my main pin as well as hidden pins an easy-peasy process in blog posts. I recommend this plug-in!
Social Media Scheduler: Buffer I just lover Buffer! I can schedule all of my social media posts from one source, so it saves me time and is very simple to use. I can also track how each post is performing, and it tracks everything I post, not just the posts I schedule through Buffer. Pretty cool.
Twitter Growth Tool: Commun.it I was totally in the dark about Twitter when I started blogging, as I had never used it. I decided to use Commun.it as a way to help me grow my Twitter following, and it really does work.
Social Media and Marketing Layout Creator: Canva I don’t know what I’d do without Canva! I recently upgraded to the paid version because I use this service so extensively. But, the free version will work just fine for you as a beginning blogger.
Once you get the hang of it, you can create any type of document, form or social media post with Canva and it will look beautiful and professional (well, if you know what you’re doing 🙂 ) They offer thousands of templates as well as free images. I get many of my images from Canva.
Image Creating & Editing Tool: Pic Monkey I use Pic Monkey to edit, resize and create effects for my images, and also to create collages. I use those quite a bit on my blog. Like the other tools and schedulers I’ve mentioned, there is a bit of a learning curve with Pic Monkey, but it is not difficult to use. Currently the cost is $7.99 per month. Give it a try if you think the cost is affordable.
Custom Link Creator: Pretty Links Pretty Links is a Word press plug-in that has a free version, which is the one I use. It allows you to take any link and turn it into a custom link, which can be very helpful. It just looks so muc better than an affiliate link with an incredibly long URL. And, it keeps your domain name in front of the person doing the clicking. I recommend this one from your first day of blogging.
MY ADVICE: Get the basics of blogging down…proper training and education, create the blog itself, write some posts and publish them. Then, start looking at these helpful tools, one at a time. Refer back to this beginners guide to blogging periodically, too.
Planning, Organization, and Security
Your blog is a business, and as such you will need to keep it organized and secure. These are my tips as a blogger, and they are helpful to me with the blog and with my personal life.
Password Security: Last Pass Keep track of your passwords with this secure site, also available as an app. I don’t have to tell you about the importance of protecting your business and personal passwords. I trust Lass pass with everything.
Scheduling/Calendar: Trello I use Trello in a variety of ways, depending upon which hat I’m wearing…blogger, Interior Decorator or just plain me. It’s a wonderful resource for tracking your daily work responsibilities, planning for blog posts, useful for presentations and much more.
Actually, I have recently created a tracking system in Trello that works so effectively I’ll probably turn it into an online course! I combine Trello, Google Docs, and Google Calendar and am able to stay on top of all of my blog posts, planning and social media tracking.
Google Docs: I find that Google docs are the easiest and most efficient way for me to record any type of document that relates to my businesses. I can access them from any computer, my phone or other device that has an internet connection.
I create folders for different topics to help me find my information more quickly. And, it is easy to download a document as a PDF, a spreadsheet, or whatever is needed.
MY ADVICE: Start keeping track of everything immediately, from Day 1! You will be so glad you did as the weeks and months go by. Use whatever system works for you, but use something!
Beginners Guide to Blogging:
Making Money with a Blog
There are various ways to make money blogging, and honestly, you’ll have to decide for yourself what will work for you and your niche.
For my blog and topics, I have made some money from sponsored posts and products. It was a good way for me to get my feet wet, but now that I’ve been doing this for almost two years I’ve gone in other directions for monetizing.
I recently started monetizing with Monumetric, which is an Adsense alternative with higher payouts. Once you reach a minimum of 10,000 sessions per month you can apply.
Here are some of the affiliate marketing sources I regularly use
MY ADVICE: Get your blog up and running and gain some viewers before you spend too much time on affiliate products. Also, as much as you can, actually use the products that you promote. Readers like to hear about your own experience, not just see a long list of stuff you think they would like (and hope they will purchase).
Well, I have shared quite a bit of information, tips, inspiration, how-to’s and more, for anyone to benefit from as an aspiring blogger. It’s not easy or simple, and like any other business, it requires an investment of time, a bit of money and a lot of effort. But if you have the drive and motivation coupled with a viable niche, you can do it!
Keep this Beginners Guide to Blogging handy!