Get Access To A Library Of Free Resources + Tools For Savvy Bloggers!

The Biggest Blogging Mistake You Are Probably Making

by

You've been around the block. You've read all the blogging tutorials, and you've heard pretty much every single piece of blogging advice out there. But have you thought about one possible MAJOR mistake you could be making?

When it comes to defining your target audience, you’ve heard it all.

Be specific, write content for your ideal reader, think about your audience’s problems, etc--you get it. You’ve heard the same advice regurgitated over and over again, in countless forms and from thousands of bloggers.

Odds are you’ve already done the work. You’ve already figured out your target audience, defined your ideal reader, and established how you can help him or her. But have you thought about one possible MAJOR mistake you could be making?

This is a story of one of my biggest blogging #fails

My other blog, beside Fierce Blogging, is a book blog. It’s all about YA books, reading, and the teen book community. I wanted to create a hub for teen readers where I could share my opinions on books, and give recommendations to help teens find their next great read.

A few months after I started blogging, I discovered this community of book bloggers out there. It took me long enough! I made some really great friends in that community, and I found myself reading more and more other book blogs out there. It was great!

Until I got this comment in an end-of-the-year survey:

….I love your style and your reviews are always very honest. I wish you would connect with your nonblogger readers though….

Have you ever had a moment that just made you go “a-ha!”?

That moment was it for me. Looking back at my first few posts, I noticed how much my style had changed from my early posts, and not just because I finally figured out how to use formatting.

Comparing my early posts with my most recent posts, I noticed a huge difference. My old posts were targeted towards teen readers. My more recent posts were targeted towards book bloggers who read teen books. Key word: bloggers.

I’d spent so much time networking with other book bloggers that I’d inadvertently started writing blog posts for them.

Yikes.

Even worse, the same thing happened with Fierce Blogging. Fierce Blogging is dedicated to helping bloggers build inspiring and exciting online presences. I started out by following other creative entrepreneurs and people who teach blogging, until I realized that I was doing the exact same thing I had done with my book blog.

I was targeting my peers instead of the people who needed my help.

Creative entrepreneurs and people who teach blogging wouldn’t need to visit Fierce Blogging. They already know how to blog–that’s why they are teaching others how to do it.

Instead of targeting them, I should have been reaching out and recruiting the people that I can actually help: bloggers who want to learn how to master their blogs, but haven’t gotten there yet.

 99% of the time, your ideal reader will not be your peers.

Odds are that something like this may have happened to you. You may have defined your ideal reader as a hip, 20-something mom who wants to cook healthy meals for her children on a budget, but look at your most recent content. Have you actually started writing content that will impress other food bloggers instead of your ideal reader?

99% of the time, your ideal will reader will not be your peers, and that’s a big distinction that you need to make sure you know about.

For my book blog, It took me a while to figure out that I wanted to write a blog targeted to teen readers, not just other book bloggers. Those two audiences might cross over, but my ideal reader is the person that I really want to appeal too.

What if you realize you’re making the same mistake?

Have you read this and gone “Yikes, that’s so me!”

I’ve been there, and it isn’t fun. But don’t freak out! You can totally fix this. Let’s steer your blog back on track, and reconnect with the people who are your REAL target audience.

1. Do you need to redefine your ideal reader?

First, let’s talk about the difference between your “ideal reader” and who you are currently writing for. It’s time to seriously think about who your ideal reader is. Have you just gotten distracted from your ideal reader? Or do you want to actually change who your ideal reader is?

For Fierce Blogging, I knew I had just gotten distracted from my ideal reader. I was running a blog about blogging. My “peers” already know how to do that–that’s why they are teaching it as well! In my case, it made total sense to just refocus my content towards my original ideal reader, but your situation might be very difference.

2. Ask your ideal reader where they hang out

One of the biggest problems that I’ve encountered is about where I hang out. If I spend lots of time in places where other creative coaches and bloggers hang out, I’m more likely to absorb that and start creating content that is geared towards them.

Likewise, if you hang out where your ideal reader hangs out, you’ll be able to figure out what their problems are and create the content that they need.

You’ll probably be able to figure out a few places where your ideal reader hangs out, just by brainstorming, but there’s nothing like actually getting to ask them. Send out a tweet, survey, or email and take a poll of the social networks, websites, and online hubs they spend the most time.

3. Be aware of the content you consume

In the case of my book blog, I started reading a lot of posts about how to run a book blog, and advice for book bloggers.

That’s all really great content, but I eventually realized that instead of just reading the content, I was starting to write content for that audience as well. Yikes.

Is something similar happening to you? Maybe you are reading a lot of posts about how to run a travel blog, and suddenly you find yourself sharing blogging tips as well. Make sure that you’re able to consume content with accidentally wanting to write similar posts.

4. Surround yourself with a mix of people

When I set up my Twitter account for Fierce Blogging, I followed a lot of creative coaches and bloggerpreneurs I admired. Great, but I realized I had totally forgotten to use Twitter the way it was intended to be used: to connect with my audience.

Have you done something similar? Don’t just follow your peers. Surround yourself with a mix of people, including the people you admire AND your aui

How To Have Amazing Blog Photos (Without Ever Picking Up A Camera)

by

You probably have heard about how important photos are for your blog. I'm not going to reiterate why visual content is such a game-changer for your blog, or how content with relevant images gets 94% more views than content without them, or how tweets with photos receive 150% more retweets than those without.

Have you ever heard about how important it is to have photos and visual content on your blog?

You probably have. I’m not going to reiterate why visual content is such a game-changer for your blog, or how content with relevant images gets 94% more views than content without them (source), or how tweets with photos receive 150% more retweets than those without (source).

But I will say that if you don’t already photos on your blog, you’re missing out.

I’m going to be honest: I’m not a photographer. I’m working on it, but my photos still aren’t something that I want to use for the blog. I still have a lot to learn about taking blog photos, which is why you’ll never see me giving you blog photography pointers.

But just because you aren’t a professional photographer doesn’t mean that your blog should be solely text. I’ve been blogging for several years now, and rarely used any of my own photos, and STILL had at least one image in each of my blog posts.

Here’s the deal: you can absolutely have gorgeous blog photos without even picking up a camera.

You absolutely do not need to be a professional photographer.

You can absolutely have gorgeous blog photos without even picking up a camera.  

Firstly, let’s talk about what you shouldn’t be doing to get blog photos without spending hours taking photos. Some of these things are rude, some are unethical, or others are actually illegal. So basically, stay far, far away.

  • Grabbing photos from Google and using them on your blog. Those photos belong to other photographers, and it’s illegal to use those photos.
  • Using personal-use photos for commercial use. This includes using free photos marked for personal use for things like paid ebook covers, ads, and more.
  • Reposting photos from other photographers onto your own Instagram account. Some think it’s fine, but it is still generally a big no-no, even if you do credit the original poster.

Definitely stay away from everything above! The good news is that the method I’m sharing with you today will allow you to find free photos that you can use for your blog, completely with permission from the photographers.

Here’s the solution: free stock photos

There are hundreds of sites out there that offer stock photos for you to use on your blog for no cost. While each site has its own rules about how you can and cannot use the photos, but you’ll be able to find thousands of photos that you can use on your blog, absolutely free.

Over the past few years I’ve been blogging, I’ve discovered dozens of  sites with amazing free stock photos. If you want to work with some free stock photos of your own, I’ve got several suggestions for my favorite resources.

*remember to look though the license terms for each site before using anything!

1. Unsplash

city

This is one of my favorite resources for photos of nature and architecture. They offer 10 new photos every 10 days, and you can use each photo for absolutely anything you want, completely free. Their search function is limited, but you can find some really great photos if you take the time to scroll through their site.

2. Gratisography

Gratisography is a site that I’ve used a couple times. The photos work particularly well for travel or lifestyle bloggers, especially those who focus a lot on places and architecture. All photos are free of all copyright restrictions, which is definitely a plus!

3. Pixabay

desk-1082044_960_720

4. Negative Space

Negative Space adds new photos every week, completely available for free. They have lots of photos focused on objects, so if you’re looking for everyday photos that you can use (like of computers, desks, flowers, pencil crayons, etc), then you should definitely check out Negative Space.

5. Kaboompics 

iphone1

Kaboompics is one of my newest discoveries, and I’m obsessed! The site has photos in all sorts of categories (although not very many of people), and you can get lots of free photos perfect for bloggers.

6. Feminine Stock

I just found out about Feminine Stock, and I’m incredibly excited! The site is run by a blogger who is dedicated to creating gorgeous, feminine stock photos for bloggers and creative entrepreneurs. I think that the site will start charging later on, but if you subscribe now you can get access to all the photos–free!

7. Pexels

bed

Pexels is another packed free stock photo resouce, with 50 new stock photos daily! They also have a great search feature, and the site is well organized. I looked up “Computer” and got several pages of results.

8. Picjumbo

I haven’t used this site often, personally, but I have heard great things. Picjumbo offers a wide range of free stock photos, available both for personal or commercial use. You can also sign up to get new stock photos delivered to your inbox.

Other stock photos

 

If you haven’t already started utilizing stock photos, there’s no time like the present.

Depending on your niche, you probably won’t be able stop taking photos entirely, but stock photos are great for when you just need a relevant image to split up blocks of text, or if you are talking about something more general, as opposed to a crafting tutorial.

Taking photos can be incredibly time-consuming, but in the time that it has taken you to read this post, you could have already snagged a gorgeous free photo, edited it with a program like Canva, and uploaded it to your blog. Pretty cool, right?

Let’s talk.

Stock photos are incredibly useful. Have you started to take advantage of them yet? How could you incorporate them into your blogging process?

Exactly How I Created + Promoted My Etsy Shop

by

Have you ever wanted to start a side biz through your blog? If you want to start earning some serious passive income from your blog, then you might want to check out everything that Etsy has to offer.

Have you ever wanted to start a side business through your blog?

I wanted to. Last October, I finally took the leap by starting an Etsy shop to sell bookish merchandise. It was one of my first experiences earning money from my blog (aside from “normal” monetization strategies, like affiliate links). At the time, I had been running my book blog for over 2 years, and I had grown a decent audience for it, so I figured that would help me pull off the launch.

I’ve been running my Etsy shop for 6 months now and while it hasn’t exactly made me rich, it has become a strong income stream. If you’ve been thinking of starting your own Etsy shop, I’m going to share exactly what I did, as well as what worked + didn’t work for me.

Firstly, what is Etsy?

etsyIf you’ve never heard of Etsy before, I would describe at as Amazon for handmade products. It’s essentially a marketplace for crafters, designers, and artisans to sell their products to the millions of people who visit Etsy each month. You can sell anythingthat is handmade or designed by you. They’ve also recently updated the terms of use so that you can even have the item produced in a factory (think printing presses, etc), as long as you designed the product and you get approval first.

You can also sell digital items, like WordPress themes, printable posts, and design elements. If you really want to

Once you sign up for Etsy, you can create your own “store” inside Etsy. You can set up your item listings, write your shop story, create your banner, and decide on your polices.There are limited opportunities to brand your shop, but it’s worth it to get access to Etsy’s wide audience.

So does starting an Etsy shop?

It’s really inexpensive to get started. There’s a listing fee of 20 cents for each item (must be renewed every 4 months) as well as a tiny transaction fee, but you do get to the keep almost all of the money you make.

* Grab Your Free Etsy Shop Launch Checklist! * 

In October 2015, I started my own Etsy shop

I run a book blog, and I wanted to create an extra income stream for my blog. Etsy seemed like the perfect option. I love crafting and creating jewelry, so I combined my love of books with my love of crafting to create Bookish Serendipity Co, where I sell bookish jewelry, accessories, notebooks, and more.

Want to start an Etsy shop? Once you’ve decided what you want to sell, you need to pick a niche. It’s just like starting a blog! Your niche needs to be a specific type of product for a specific type of shopper. What’s your niche going to be?

I came up with the idea at the very end of August 2015, and went from concept to Etsy shop in one month. Once I decided that I wanted to start selling bookish merchandise, I spent a few days doing research on what was already out there, and what I could do to make myself stand out.

I created a rough plan for myself about what I wanted to accomplish within my first 6 months, and what I needed to do to get myself there. I didn’t have a complete business plan yet, but I had something to start working from. If I had gone at it with no plan at all, I doubt I would have been dedicated and prepared enough to go from idea to biz in a month.

Once I was done with research, I jumped into creating

bloggersgonnablog
Here’s a sample of one of my products. I worked low-budget for my notebook selection, designing everything on Photoshop and ordering small quantities that I knew I could sell.

I have a tendency to get stuck in the research phase whenever I start a new project, but I knew that I wanted to avoid that when starting my Etsy shop. I made a point of finding a few great sources (Handmadeology was really helpful) and then diving into actually creating the products.

I was running on a budget when I was starting my Etsy shop, so I didn’t want to order 1000s of a product I wasn’t sure I would be able to sell right away. Instead, I ordered small batches of supplies that I could use to make my jewelry.

This was because:

  • I didn’t want to invest in something unless I knew I would earn the money back.
  • I wasn’t expecting large orders right away, so I figured I could slowly start sinking more money into my biz as it grew.
  • I had no intention of making my Etsy store a full-time gig, and I wasn’t going to spend a lot of money on something that I wasn’t expecting to earn me a whole lot.

This has really helped me become profitable as an Etsy shop. I’m not trying to earn back thousands of dollars that I invested. Instead, I was out of the red within 2 months of doing business on Etsy.

* Grab Your Free Etsy Shop Launch Checklist! * 

Throughout the month before, I created + began executing a marketing plan

Marketing is HUGE if you want to stand out on Etsy. There are thousands of sellers and if you want to stand out, you’ve got to promote your products.

The second I came up with the idea and decided that I was actually going to start an Etsy shop, I started reaching out to bloggers to help me with the launch. I was already really involved in the book blogging community, so I had some great blogger friends who were able to help me out.

If you can collaborate with bloggers, do it.

I ran a blog tour and got around 15 book bloggers involved, which was HUGE for me. Not only did it help spread the word about the launch, but those posts still drive traffic to my Etsy shop to this day. If you’re considering running a blog tour, here are some tips:

  • If you can, reach out several months in advance. I was already friendly with most of the bloggers out the tour, so I was able to shoot them an email a month in advance to talk about my starting an Etsy shop, but I really should have gotten started pitching earlier.
  • Have a press kit with all of the information about your shop. This includes graphics, photos of your product, and details about what you’re asking for.
  • Be as helpful as possible for the bloggers. Offer several types of content (I had promo posts, interviews, guest posts, etc) and make it as easy as possible to say yes.

Building buzz when starting an Etsy shop

I started hinting at a new project in my posts and on social media for a few weeks before actually sharing what it was. This helped build some buzz so when I actually shared that I was going to be starting an Etsy shop, there were already people who were checking the blog that day for the sole purpose of finding out the news.

I did the same thing for the rest of the launch. I tried to keep an aura of mystery around the project, which meant not sharing ALL the details right away. Honestly, if I could do it again I would have actually shared more to help get people excited.

The launchshopstats

I launched my Etsy shop and earned $601 in the first two months. I was over the moon! I hadn’t expected to sell anything for a few weeks at least. The advice I had seen had said a lot about waiting 1-3 months for your first sale, so I was ecstatic to have actually earned something right away.

My expenses had been less than $100 when I started my Etsy shop. That means that I actually earned $500+ in profit in just 2 months (601.00- 89.94). It’s not enough to drop out of school and buy a private island, but it was some niche side money.

Sales were consistent over the next few months. I had a huge surge around Christmas, selling $400+ of product in just one month (that’s still my record), but it has mostly remained consistent so far this year.

* Grab Your Free Etsy Shop Launch Checklist! * 

What I did + did not do for promotion when starting my Etsy shop.

Well, starting my Etsy shop was an experience, for sure. I learned a lot about marketing and what makes some people buy as opposed to others, and there’s so much I would change if I could do it all over again. Here’s what I did and did not do to market my Etsy shop.

I did

  • Reach out to + collaborate with bloggers
  • Run a blog tour to reach a new audience
  • Send emails to my email list.
  • Talk about the launch on the blog
  • Tweet and share multiple times a week on social media
  • Offer a short deal.

I did not

  • Pay for advertising (print or digital).
  • Spend a lot of money on marketing materials (I spent less than $30)
  • Run webinars to promote the store to my audience (this doesn’t tend to work as well for physical products, either)
  • Post about the store on promo threads on Facebook, or share it in other people’s feeds (don’t do this!)
 

If I could do it again, here’s what I would do.

  • Work even more on reaching out to bloggers and collaborating with them. This was one of my most effective ways of driving traffic.
  • Not offer a public coupon or discounts. This devalued my product, and it didn’t make much of a difference. I did offer a coupon to blog tour participants, though, which I would keep.
  • Send more launch emails to my email list. I sent a single email to my email list, and I can’t believe I didn’t utilize my list more!
  • Social media is such a powerful tool, and I would have loved to incorporate in across all platforms. I mostly used Twitter this time.

So was it a success? I’d have to say yes.

My biggest fear was doing all this planning for the launch and having my parents end up being the only purchasers. Yikes. I knew that on average, you have to wait a couple months to get your first sale, but I wanted to be different.

And I ended up earning $600 within 2 months after starting an Etsy shop.

There’s so much advice out there that’s talking about how someone made thousands on Etsy in a week, which is great for that person, but not something you should be striving for because it simply isn’t realistic. But $600? I achieved that, and you absolutely can too.

Seven 5-Minute Tweaks To Take Your Blog Design To The Next Level

by

Blog design can be overwhelming. There are so many rules that you're being told you have to follow and even reading a couple of posts about branding strategy and the "laws of design" can be enough to send your brain into overdrive.

Keep it cohesive, use sans-serif fonts of body text, employ brand strategy throughout your design, use 3-4 fonts, have a strategy, only use a sidebar if…

Blog design can be overwhelming. There are so many rules that you’re being told you have to follow and even reading a couple of posts about branding strategy and the “laws of design” can be enough to send your brain into overdrive.

Design is doubtlessly an incredibly important part of your blog, but you are supposed to spend your time blogging, not editing your site design to abide by the latest design rules you’ve found. So what’s a blogger to do?

Over the past few years of running blogs, I’ve discovered that some of the most effective design tweaks are also the most simple. Instead of spending hours redoing your blog colour scheme (“because red is supposed to make people hungry, I can’t use red for my dog training blog!”), here are several 5-minute tweaks that you can make to take your blog design to a whole new level.

1. Narrow down your navigation

femtrepreneur

Your navigation bar is hugely important, but that doesn’t mean you need ALL of your information in it! Your navigation bar should include 4-7 pages at the most and you should stick to the lower end of those numbers if you also have dropdowns as well.

Take action: Look at your navigation bar. What are the top 5 most important things here that contribute to your  main blog goals? Do they help readers or are they not really necessary? Can you combine any of those pages? Cut everything that is unnecessary.

2. Declutter your sidebar

I’m in the middle of the taking the Jumpstart Your Blog Blueprint course from Krista Rae, and one of the most recent lessons talked about decluttering your sidebar (I’m working on this right now!). The truth is that most bloggers aren’t utilizing their sidebar properly. Your sidebar shouldn’t have dozens of ads, links, and photos. Clutter isn’t attractive.

You want to have a clear and established purpose for your sidebar, and only include things that are seriously relevant to your goals. For example, my goals for my sidebar to get new readers to keep reading my site, and join my tribe (+ get access to tons of bonus content). To do this, I only include super relevant things, like my categories, email sign up form, etc.

Take action: Look at your sidebar. Is everything absolutely necessary? Could it be moved somewhere else (like your footer)? Cut at least 2 things.

3. Remove advertisements

It’s no secret that I’m a huge fan of creating your now products (physical or digital) and selling them through your blog. It’s a great way to earn money from your site and you already have the built-in audience that you can promote your products to.

It’s so much better to advertise your own products in your sidebar and earn 100% of every sale than to simply advertise for other people and not earn any percentage of that sale. Besides, unless you’re getting massive amounts of page views each month, odds are that ads aren’t bringing in more than a couple hundred dollars for you each month.

If you can, scrap them.

Take action – Look at all the advertisements that you may have on your site. Are they really worth it, or are they taking away from your own brand?

4. Add social media share buttons

Want your readers to share your content? You need to make it easy as possible for your readers to do that without a second thought. If you’re on WordPress, you can install a plugin that adds social sharing buttons to your posts (I use SumoMe)  in less than two minutes.

Social sharing buttons cut the hassle for your blog readers. Instead of them having to pull open their Twitter account, copy and paste the link, write up a description and tag you, social sharing plugins can do that all for them in seconds. Easy, right?

Take action- Install social sharing buttons on your blog. I recommend SumoMe.

5. Make your body font easy to read

You might have the most amazing content in the world but if your font is difficult to read, people aren’t gonna stick around!

That means that your body text should be in a color, font and size that’s easy to read. Ideally, you’ll want to have dark text on a white background, with a sans-serif font at 14px–at the very least. I can’t stress enough how important it is for you to have a body font that people won’t struggle to read, so make sure that you’ve taken care of this.

Take action- Ask a friend or family member to look at your blog and check over your body text. Ask them to rate the color, font and size on a scale of 1-10 and explain WHY. This is a great way to get specific advice on your text instead of just “Oh, yeah, it’s not too hard to read”

6. Style your email opt-in forms

When a blog visitor hands their email address over to you, that’s an act of trust. You want to make it as easy as possible for the visitor to feel comfortable giving your their email address, and that includes making your email opt-in forms as professional as you can.

I mean, would you rather give your email address to someone whose form looks like this…

sketchyemail

….or this?

xosarahemail

If you’re anything like me, you’ll think that the second one (from XoSarah.com) looks so much more professional AND stylish. You don’t necessarily need to have a totally gorgeous form like the one above, but you do need to try to create a professional-looking form.

If you’re on WordPress, you can use a plugin like Optin Cat, or you can even try to style the form on your own!

Take action – Look at your email optin forms. Do they look professional and trustworthy? If it was on someone else’s site, would you want to sign up using that form?

7. Upload a favicon to your site

A favicon is the small icon that appears next to your website’s address bar. It’s just a small part of your site, but it really helps pull your entire design together and make it look complete.

To create a favicon, you need to create a 16 x 16 pixel image that represents your blog. Most often, it’s a shortened version of your logo, but you can also use a graphic that represents your aesthetic or the initials of your site. Follow this tutorial to set up a favicon on your site.

Take action – If you don’t already have a favicon, get to work! Start creating using a program like Canva or Picmonkey, and upload it to your site.


 

Taking action and improving your site doesn’t have to be hard! Doing all 7 of these tips took me less than an hour and massively improved my site. It’s seriously that easy.

Here’s my challenge to you

While you might not be able to do all of these right away, I want you to take 5 minutes every day for the next week and complete them, one at a time. Instead of spending 5 minutes browsing your Twitter feed, you could be taking your blog design to the next level. Isn’t that worth skipping Kanye’s latest Twitter rant?

You can get started right away. Yes, right now. Pull open a new tab and get cracking!

How To Choose The Perfect Web Host For Your WordPress Blog

by

I'm a huge advocate for and believer in using self-hosted WordPress to run your blog. If you want to look professional and are ever hoping to earn money from your blog, then WordPress.org or Blogger just don't cut it anymore.

I’m a huge advocate for and believer in using self-hosted WordPress to run your blog. If you want to look professional and are ever hoping to earn money from your blog, then WordPress.org or Blogger just don’t cut it anymore.

Self-hosted WordPress (also known as WordPress.org) requires 3 main components to work:

  • WordPress. org (FREE)- This is the software that you install and download on your web host’s server. Don’t worry, it is easy to set up and many hosts already have it installed for you.
  • Web hosting ($3+/month) – Web hosting is essentially that you are paying to host your site and all of its files for you. Depending on the host you choose, pricing can range from $3-$20 a month (or much more, if you have a really big site).
  • A domain name – You can either get this through your host or register it on your own. The domain name is essentially the network address for your blog. For example: http://www.yourdomainname.com.

When you get set up on self-hosted WordPress, your web host will be one of the most important decisions you’ll make. Your host is responsible for keeping your site up, so you want to choose a host that is reputable, quick, and has great customer service.

Here are 5 things to look for in a web host:

  • What is their customer service like? The last thing you want to do is buy hosting from a host, encounter a problem (like a site crash), and not being able to get assistance from your host. You can learn more about the customer service by checking out reviews online. Just Google something like “A Small Orange hosting review” and check out what users thought.
  • How much bandwidth does each plan have? Bandwidth is the amount of data that your website will be able to transfer. You usually don’t need too much bandwidth, unless you have large files on your site or stream videos. Still, it is something to consider. You’ll be able to check this out on each host’s website.
  • How much storage does each plan have? This is something you might want to think about, and varies depending on the size of your site. Do you tend to have lots of images and videos or post a lot of content? You might need more storage then. Usually, storage isn’t too much of a problem unless your site goes viral, but it is something you should look at. You can see the storage for each plan on the host’s website.
  • What benefits or features does the host provide? Some hosts offer incentives like a free domain name, or bonuses like advertising credits or extra software that you get if you choose that host. If you are stuck between two hosts, check out the bonuses that they offer and compare the two offers.
  • How easy is it to set up WordPress? Some sites, like Bluehost, offer 1-click setup for WordPress, but others might make you manually download and install the software. If you aren’t particularly tech-savvy, you may want to consider the WordPress set-up options that each host offers.

Let’s compare some of the most popular hosts out there.

I currently use A Small Orange to host Fierce Blogging and I seriously recommend them. If you’re looking for a WordPress host that gives you epic value and has great customer service, you might want to check them out.  

 

Web Hosts I’ve Used

A Small Orange

Pricing: Starting at just $2.95/ month

Features: Unlimited domains, 24/7 Email + LiveChat Support, speedy customer service, and easy to navigate.

My Thoughts: This is the host that I currently use to run Fierce Blogging and I absolutely recommend them. Not only is the hosting inexpensive, but the customer service is also incredible. Whenever I have a question, I can pop on the “live chat” feature, type out my question and I’ll get a response back within seconds.

Click to visit the site. 

Ipage

Pricing: Starting at $3.75/ month (+ free domain)

Features: Customized control panel, free access to a library of WordPress themes, speedy customer service, free access to a library of plugins, and a free domain.

My Thoughts: I use IPage for my book blog, and have had nothing but a great experience. Their customer service is very friendly, and they also offer some great bonuses if you sign up, such as access to a library of free WordPress themes and bonus plugins.

Click to visit the site. 

Bluehost

Pricing: Starting at $3.49/ month

Features: 24/7 support, 1-click WordPress install, $150+ in offers, speedy customer services, lots of bonuses.

My Thoughts: Bluehost is one of the most reputable hosting providers out there, and has excellent speed, 24/ 7 customer service and some great bonuses if you sign up.

Click to visit the site. 

Other Web Hosts

Here are some web hosts that I haven’t personally used, but are very popular and might work for your blog.

Siteground

Pricing: Starting at $3.95/ month

Features: Free domain name, daily backup, 24/7 WordPress support.

Overview: Siteground is a very reputable WordPress host that is great for new and established bloggers. They offer some great signup incentives, like a free domain name, and have good support.

Click to visit the site. 

WP Engine

Pricing: Starting at $29/ month

Features: Staging, live chat, incredibly speed.

Overview: WP Engine is a premium WordPress host that offers prioritizes speed, and is great for larger websites with heavier traffic volumes. If your website has more than 25K visitors a month, you might want to check out WP Engine.

Click to visit the site

GoDaddy

Pricing: Starting at $1.49/ month

Features: Free domain, site backup, free email adresses

Overview: GoDaddy is a domain registrant, and also offers WordPress hosting. If you are on a serious budget, GoDaddy is a pretty good option, despite their “meh” customer service.

Click to visit the site

Let’s talk. What is your biggest struggle when it comes to setting up your WordPress blog?

8 Myths About Running A Blog That You Need To Ignore

by

I've been running blogs online for the past 3 years and over the course of that time, I've read hundreds of article of blogging and how to run a blog. There's some really good advice out there...but there is also a lot of lousy tips and advice that just flat-out isn't true.

Note: This post may contain affiliate links. I only promote products that I believe will help and add serious value to your blog. 

I’ve been running blogs online for the past 3 years and over the course of that time, I’ve read hundreds of article of blogging and how to run a blog. There’s some really good advice out there…but there is also a lot of lousy tips and advice that just flat-out isn’t true.

Today, I’m calling out the lies.

Because I see so much advice being shared and repeated over and over again that simply isn’t true. The blogging industry has evolved so rapidly over the past few years, and so much of the advice being shared out there is outdated and unhelpful.

Instead of just ignoring the unhelpful advice, I’m going to be sharing exactly which pieces of advice are wrong, why they aren’t helpful, and what you should do instead.

1. Ads are the only way to make money blogging

The Truth – Bloggers are becoming entrepreneurs in their own right.

Ads are definitely one way to make money blogging, but they are absolutely not the only way. One of the biggest changes within the past few years in the blogging world has been the changes in the ways that blogger are earning money.

Bloggers aren’t just earning money through ads or affiliate links anymore. Bloggers are becoming speakers, writing e-courses, selling e-books, and creating their own products. Instead of just promoting other companies, many bloggers are becoming their own brands and reaping the rewards of it,

2. You should spend lots of time growing your social media

The Truth- Social media is just a marketing tool

I won’t deny the power of social media. I’m a huge fan of using platforms like Twitter to interact with your readers and reach new audiences but if you want to grow your blog, your time on social media should be spent strategically. Every hour you spend on social media should somehow be benefiting your blog, either through making connections with new potential readers or directly funneling readers to your blog.

It’s all about strategy, folks.

3. Long posts are the WORSSSTTT (!!!)

Truth: Long posts actually tend to perform the best.

I’ve heard this a lot and it always surprises me because on all my blogs, my long posts are to be the most popular ones and tend to drive the most traffic to my websites. That’s because my long posts are long for a reason. They are packed with tips, guidance, and resources for the readers and provide the most value.

From what statistics show, long posts also tend to do better overall. Think about it: more words in each post means more keywords for search engines to discover. Quicksprout shared that longer posts get shared more often and get more backlinks. Instead of reading several posts with conflicting information, you can just read a longer post that covers everything you need to know.

4. You need to spend a lot of money running your blog

Truth: Blogging doesn’t have to cost a lot!

I’ve talked about spending money on blogging a lot already, so you might already know how I feel about it. There are so many cool pieces of software, tech, and blog training options out there and while they can help you improve your blog, hard work and research can be incredibly helpful too.

Seriously, blogging doesn’t need to be expensive. I spend less than $15/ month running each of my blogs (full breakdown here) and while that number might increase over the next year or so as Fierce Blogging grows, I still believe that blogging can be seriously inexpensive.

My current web host, A Small Orange, has plans starting at just $2.95 a month, which is about the price of great cup of coffee. So if you want to start a blog and are worried about the cost, forget it. Blogging doesn’t need to be expensive.

5. If you want to be a blogger, you must be a professional writer.

Truth- Anyone can be a blogger

If you are able to fluently speak whatever language you are writing in and have a message you want to share, you can become a blogger.

One of the reasons that blogs are so popular is because of how they allow readers to get to know the writers on a whole new level. Readers will connect with you because of how memorable and unique you are, not because you know how to properly do the subject-verb agreement.

6. Only share your own content or you’ll lose readers

Truth – Sharing benefits yourself, your readers, and the other bloggers.

The biggest argument for this myth is that if you share the content of other bloggers, you will lose readers to your competitors Trust me, this isn’t true, folks.

I run a book blog as well as Fierce Blogging, and sharing the content of other book bloggers was a huge part of what helped me grow my blog. When you share the content of other bloggers, you’re actually helping your readers by providing them with valuable other resources and trust me, your readers will remember you for that.

7. Niches aren’t limiting and not worth it

Truth – Finding your niche will actually make you stand out.

SAY WHATTT?

I can’t believe this myth is still being shared! Finding your niche is a huge part of telling your readers who you are as a blogger and what you will give to them. Sure, you can definitely run a blog about everything you’re interested in, but what are the odds that all your readers will be interested in your home organization posts AND your fashion posts AND your personal finance posts AND tech review posts?

There are a few blogs that can pull this off successfully, but it’s rare. Instead of being a one-stop shop for everything, narrowing your niche to one subject will make yourself the go-to person for that topic and allow yourself to find readers who will be interested in everything you have to say about it.

8. Your blog should be pretty

Truth – Your blog should be functional, first and foremost.

You’re probably surprised to see this on this list, but let me explain. Yes, pretty blogs are great! I can think of some really gorgeous blog designs off the top of my head, and pretty blogs can definitely make you stand out.

But making your blog pretty is not the only criteria. First and foremost, your blog needs to be functional and easy to navigate. Functionality comes first, and making your blog “pretty” should be an extra. You can have the prettiest website in the world but if your readers can find what they’re looking for, they aren’t going to stick around.

What blogging myths do you struggle with the most?

How To Launch Your Blog With A Bang In 5 Steps (+ Free Checklist!)

by

I've visited thousands of new blogs over the past few years, and noticed some strategies that many blogs use to start a successful blog, and make it successful from the start. After launching numerous blogs/ business projects, I can share exactly how to launch a new blog and start it off in the right foot.

Note: This post may contain affiliate links. I only promote products that I believe will help and add serious value to your blog.

A new blog is  created every half a second (source). Wow, right? How are you supposed to make your blog stand out with that many other sites out there?

When I launched my first blog in early 2013, I thought the exact same thing. I had no idea where I was going to attract readers from, or what I was supposed to do to grow my blog. I hadn’t even properly established a niche or goals yet! I spent several months putting out (sporadic) content on my blog, only to hear crickets.

It was frustrating, to say the least.

But it doesn’t have to be that way.

I’ve visited thousands of new blogs over the past few years, and noticed some strategies that many blogs use to start a successful blog, and make it successful from the start. After launching numerous blogs/ business projects, I can share exactly how to launch a new blog and start it off in the right foot.

One of the big points that I’m going to be stressing through this post is this:

You need to launch with a plan.

Think of your blog as a product for a moment. When you are launching a product, you likely spend thousands having it designed and produced. After spending that much money, would you just put it up for sale one day and hope that the sales come pouring on? Probably not.

More likely, before you launch a product, you would spend time  before getting everything ready and building buzz through advertising, social media, and reaching out to important influencers online.

Think of your blog the same way. Just like a product, your blog is something helps people. While you likely won’t be running a national marketing campaign, you need a plan if you want to pull off a successful launch.

Here are several tips for pulling off a successful blog launch:

* Grab Your Free 90-Day Blog Launch Checklist! * 

 1. Make the right investments from the start

If you want to start a blog and just document your life, then you will be fine to run your blog on the free Blogger or WordPress.com platform. But if you want to run a seriously professional blog, work with brands, and earn money online, you need to get on a paid platform right away in order to have full control over your content and blog. I made this mistake and trust me, just start off on a paid platform in the first place.

One of the biggest arguments I see tends to be: “Oh, I’ll start out on a free platform and move to self-hosted later on as my blog grows!” Don’t do that! Instead of spending hours moving your content over, rebranding your entire site, and confusing readers, just start out out a good platform in the first place.Plus, self-hosting your blog can cost as a little as $2.95 a month if you choose a host like A Small Orange.

You don’t need to spend hundreds of dollars to get a professional blog. I highly recommend getting some paid training, but there is so much you DIY or set up on your own without investing a lot of money into it. Here are some of the investments that are absolutely worth making:

  • Blog hosting – I currently use A Small Orange, and love their amazing customer service. Plus, it’s incredibly inexpensive if you’re just starting out!
  • A custom domain – Domains are only a few dollars (usually just over $10/ yr) and immediately make you look even more professional.
  • A professional blog design – Once you’ve set up your blog hosting, you’ll want to pick out a blog design that matches the style and branding you want your blog to have. You can get a custom blog design, or you can start off with a premade blog theme from somewhere like Nose Graze.
  • Blogger training – While you don’t need to immediately drop thousands on coaching (although you totally can!), there are some great resources out there, like cheaper courses or even e-books (I recommend Blog, Inc) to get you started.
  • Email marketing – I currently use Mailchimp, which is free up to 2,000 subscribers. Email marketing services allow you to send out newsletters, promote your products directly inside the inboxes of your readers, and even create email courses.

2. Create epic content for your readers

Here’s the deal: you can create a totally amazing launch plan to drive readers to your blog but if your content is great when they arrive, they won’t stick around for very long.

This is another mistake that I made when I started my first blog. (Yikes, this is getting embarrassing). My mistake was this: I was creating content for myself instead of for my readers. Yes, your blog is your space and creating content you are passionate about,  but your readers are selfish. Even if you are writing about your life, there should be something in that post that helps your readers.

For example, let’s say that you went backpacking across Europe after graduating from college. You write a post documenting your experiences. It’s a very personal post, so how on earth could you make it more helpful for your readers? Maybe you could share all the supplies that you brought with you. Maybe you talk about how to get the best deals and travel on a budget. Maybe you could share your biggest mistakes and how your readers can avoid them. There are tons of options, you just need to dig a little deeper!

* Grab Your Free 90-Day Blog Launch Checklist! * 

3. Set up all your social media accounts

You don’t need to be on all social media channels, but being on a few can definitely help you get the word out about your new blog.

One of the biggest mistakes I made when I launched my very first blog was to not immediately get on social media. I wasn’t even on Twitter until early 2015. Yikes! Social media is crucial for networking and getting your blog content in front of a wider audience. For my other blog, Twitter has become one of my biggest referrers and continues to drive 100s of visitors to my blog every month.

Trying to figure which social media platforms you should jump on? Here’s how each one can benefit your blog.

  • Facebook- Facebook posts only reach about 16% of your fans, but if you are willing to spend a little to promote your posts or buy Facebook ads, Facebook can be a great place to find new readers. Facebook groups are also a great place to network and meet other people in your niche.
  • Twitter- Twitter is a hugely important platform for networking and meeting new people. You can use it to engage with your audience, and share the content of other bloggers.
  • Pinterest- Pinterest can drive massive amounts of traffic to your blog if you utilize it properly, and allows its users to discover new blog posts, products, and other content.
  • Instagram- Instagram is driven by visuals, so if you are a strong photographer or write a fashion, travel, or other type of blog that tends to use a lot of photos, Instagram is worth checking out.
  • Periscope- Periscope has become increasingly popular as a live video streaming service. You can set up an account and stream live videos, such a tutorials or workshops for free.

There are lots of great social media platforms out there and I’m sure that your niche has a few popular social media platforms just for your niche. I definitely suggest starting out with at least one or two social media platforms. Plus, the last thing you want is for someone else to snatch up the social media accounts that match your blog because you weren’t there first!

4. Write guest posts for other blogs

Fierce Blogging is a new project for me, so I am in the midst of doing this right now. Guest posting is a great way to get the word out about your blog and attract new readers to your content, as well as build credibility for your blog.

When you write a guest post for another blog, you are essentially giving their readers a preview of what to expect from the content on your blog. The blog you are creating the post for will almost always include a link back to your blog so if some reads and enjoys the post, they can click over to your site and read even more content by you! Pretty cool, right?

When you are pitching guest posts, pitch to blogs a) that have a larger readership than your own, b) that have the type of readership you would like to attract (think about your ideal reader!), and c) that you genuinely admire and respect. If you are interested in writing guest posts, read this post about guest posting  (via Femtrepreneur)

5. Network & collaborate like a boss

The first few months of running your blog should be all about growth, and growing your readership. The easiest way to do this is to get to know other bloggers and do as many collaborations as you possibly can. In exchange for providing amazing value to your collaborators, you will be able to reach their audiences and get them over to your blog as well.

  • Guest posting- I talked about this as my fourth point, but it is worth sharing again! Guest posting is the easiest way to get your content in front of other readers and doesn’t require much more of a time investment than writing any other regular blog post, but can pay off massively.
  • Joint webinars- Webinars are becoming an increasingly popular way to share content with your readers, and for a good reason! Joint webinars allow both of you to reach new audiences, and allow you to massively grow your list.
  • Chats- You can run a Q&A alongside another blogger, either using a program like Periscope, or even on social media (think: Twitter chat!)

You can even start collaborating with other bloggers before you launch, and send all potential readers to a landing page where they can opt in to your email list, before you’ve even written your first blog post.


Your blog launch is the first impression that your site makes on the world. Start off with a bang and you’ll be able to skip the stage of talking at empty space, and skip straight to growing your blog, day after day, month after month.

Let’s launch this thing.

* Grab Your Free 90-Day Blog Launch Checklist! * 

What is your biggest struggle or fear about launching a blog?

 

The Ultimate Guide To Making Money As A Blogger

by

What would you do if you had a couple hundred extra dollars a month? Save up for a car? Travel? Go on a shopping spree? I'm going to share with you exactly how I earn money online and how you can earn money from your own blog.

Note: This post may contain affiliate links. I only promote products that I believe will help and add serious value to your blog. 

What would you do if you had a few hundred extra dollars every month?

Save up for a car? Go shopping? Travel?

Daydreaming is nice, but the best part is that as a blogger, you can actually make it happen. Yes, for real! For some bloggers, blogging isn’t just a hobby–it’s a career. While that probably won’t work for you or me right now (school still has to happen!) it is always great to have some extra cash to spare, especially if you can earn it by doing what you love: blogging. While these are “Get rich overnight on the Internet” methods, dedication and effort will definitely make these strategies pay off in the long run.

“But will these strategies work for me?”

I’m going to be sharing several ways that you can make money as a blogger. You might be thinking, “Will these strategies work for me? I’m an [insert niche here] blogger!” and I’ll absolutely say yes and to prove it, I’ll tell you a story.

My other blog is a book blog. The general consensus in the book blogging community seems to be that making money from a book blog is difficult, if not impossible. In some ways, yes, it’s easy to see it that way, because neither authors nor publishers are willing to actually pay money to be featured on blogs, and free content is the norm, unlike many types of other blogs.

Does that mean that you can’t earn money from book blogging? Nope! It just means that you can’t do it through sponsored content or ads. You can still do it, you just need to be a little more creative. I launched an Etsy shop, an e-course, a workbook (coming soon!) and offer my services as a beta reader.

For every single type of blog out there, there is a way of monetizing your blog and profiting from your passion. While all of the strategies on this blog might not work for you, I guarantee at least a few of these will work for you.

Further reading: BLOGGING 2016: How To Make $5,000 Per Month Blogging About Your Passion. 

What You Need To Get Started

If you want to get started earning money from your blog, there are only a few basic things that you need.

  • A Blog- If you want to earn money as a blogger, having a blog maybe sorta kind of you should  consider having. Just maybe?
  • A valid Paypal or bank account – If you want to earn money, you’ll need to have a place to put it. For a few of the strategies below, you’ll need to have a Paypal or bank account right when you start off, and it is a good idea to have this for whenever an opportunity presents itself.
  • Parental Permission- A few of these strategies will need someone 18+ to sign up in the first place, and if you’re not an adult yet, you’ll need parental approval before doing anything involving money. If your parents don’t know about your blog yet, read this.

#1 – Become An Online Affiliate

I’m an online affiliate for several companies that I love and really believe in. Being an affiliate essentially means that when I talk about products on my site, I include my affiliate link and if anyone decides to click that link and purchase the product, I earn a small commission (without an extra cost to the visitor). Pretty cool, right?

The best part is that for many of these affiliate programs, like Amazon Associates, the visitor doesn’t even need to buy that product. If you are an Amazon Associate and someone clicks your link for a cool e-book, but ends up buying a new tripod instead, you still earn a percentage of that tripod sale (if they purchase within a certain time frame, like 48 hours). Affiliate marketing is a multi-billion dollar industry, and has lots of profit potential for you to earn money.

Also See: You Can Earn WHAT With Affiliate Links? (Via Blog Clarity)

#2- Google Adsense

While I don’t personally use Google Adsense, it is the perfect place for you to start when it comes to earning money from your blog. Here’s the description:

Google AdSense is a free, simple way for website publishers of all sizes to earn money by displaying targeted Google ads on their websites.

It’s super simple to get start, and requires very little maintenance from you after you set it up. Google automatically chooses ad You can easily get started at https://www.google.com/adsense/start/. If you are newer at this blogging thing and want a low-maintenance way to earn some side money from your blog, Google Adsense is a great place to start.

Also see: How To Set Up Google Ads On Your Blog (via Fabulous Blogging)

#3 – Offering Ads On Your Blog

If you drive enough traffic on your blog, you can often convince businesses and brands in your niche to advertise on your blog. If you see a banner ad in the sidebar of a blog, odds are it was paid for by the company (or it is an affiliate banner).

Blog advertisements tend to work better for bloggers who already have lots of traffic, since brands are paying up front to be featured on the blog. The biggest blogs can charge hundreds or thousands for an ad, though, so if you grow your blog audience enough, it can be a very fruitful path to monetizing your blog.

Also see: How To Get Your First Blog Advertiser (via The Work-At-Home Woman)

cash

#4 – Brand Sponsorships

Think of brand sponsorships are a more intensive version of blog ads. Instead of just a month-long ad in your sidebar, brand sponsorships are a more complex, multifaceted version of an ad and might lead to long-term collaborations. Brand sponsorships are different depending on the blog and the brand, but often include thinks like ads, featuring the brand in a blog post, sponsored posts, sponsored social media content, and more, and pricing varies.

Sometimes brands will reach out to you about a collaboration if your blog is more established, but often you’ll be the one to reach out to the brand. Before any collaboration takes place, you’ll want to create a media kit and then write a pitch email to the brand explaining why they should work with you.

Also see: How To Pitch Brands And Convince Them To Partner With You (via Hip Media Kits)

#5 – Write An E-Book

Writing and publishing an e-book is one of the best ways to create bringing in consistent income for your blog. Even if you’re not a professional writer (and you’re probably not!), chances are there is something that you are knowledge about that someone in your audience is dying to learn about, and you can teach them all about how to do that thing through an e-book.

For example, let’s say you run a fashion blog and talk all about upcycled and environmentally friendly clothing. A possible e-book topic could be something like “How To Upcycle Thrift Store Clothing To Create A Stylish, Modern Wardrobe.” In that e-book, you could share your own experiences upcycling clothes, your tips and tricks for creating great looks, and tuturials for upcycling common thrift store finds. Pretty good, right? C

Creating an e-book is easier than ever now and you can publish your e-book directly to Amazon using the Kindle Direct for free (although they do take a percentage of the sale) or use a program like Gumroad or DPD. E-books are a great form of passive income after you put in the initial work to write, edit and design the e-book, there is very little work you have to do, and you’ll keep earning money as long as the e-book is online.

Also See: How To Write And Launch An E-Book In 3 Weeks (via Just A Girl And Her Blog)

#6 – Offer Your Services

It’s a daunting prospect, but this is probably something out there that you can offer your services and help people with. This works for all types of bloggers, and there are lots of different options depending on your niche. Here are a few examples:

  • Offer fashion and beauty consultations (fashion + style bloggers)
  • Designing blogs + graphics (design bloggers)
  • teaching book keeping and money management to university grads (personal finance bloggers)
  • Becoming a beta reader (for book bloggers)

Those are just a few examples of things that I’ve actually seen done successfully, and there are doubtlessly thousands of other possible service options out there, from being a virtual assistant to teaching hand-lettering. You just need to find the perfect fit for you.

#7 – Accept Donations

If you’re the type of blogger who has a really dedicated fanbase, you might want to consider accepting donations from people who want to support you. You can use a service like Ko-Fi to have people make small donations and “buy you a coffee.” It’s something that I’ve seen a few bloggers doing and has the potential to work well for bloggers with a loyal readership.

#8 – Sell Physical Products

If you’re willing to handle the production and shipping of physical products, this is a great route for monetizing your blog! Physical products do need you to invest a little bit of money upfront (unless you are using a company that prints or produces the product whenever it is ordered), but there are lots of benefits to creating a physical product.

Your physical product can be a physical version of your e-book, or it can be a product specific to your niche, like stationary, t-shirts, phone cases, or anything else that you can design and bring to life. I did this for my book blog by running an Etsy shop selling literary-inspired jewelry, which helped me bring in over $1000 in the last few months.

If you are creating a physical product, consider using a company that will produce and ship the product for you. Typically, these companies take a percentage of the sale, but if you aren’t sure you’ll be selling large quantities of products (or you just don’t want to handle the shipping and fulfillment) this is a great option.

#9 – Host A Paid Webinar

If you love teaching other people, paid webinars are a great way to monetize your blog. Think of a webinar is a live class being taught online. You sit in front of your computer and share your knowledge, and the video gets streamed to people around the world who have registered.

I’ve seen webinars priced anywhere from $20 to $100+, depending on the content and length of the webinar, as well as how much experience you have as the teacher. If you’re offering a lot of great free content on your blog already, people will be more inclined to registering for your webinar, and it can be super profitable for you.

money

#10 – Create Content For Other Sites

There are lots of blogs out there looking for guest contributors that are willing to pay for writers to create content for their sites. If you write a few articles for other sites a month, you can potentially earn a few hundred extra dollars each month. Pretty cool, right?

I haven’t done much of this myself, aside from a book review for a magazine I was paid $40 a few years ago, but creating paid content is a fantastic way to earn a little bit of side money. Some of the content might be ghost-written (meaning you aren’t credited), but in some situations you might also get a link back to your site, which is great exposure for your blog as well.

Also See: Make Money Writing Articles: 37 Blogs That Pay Up To $300 For Your Guest Posts (via Minterest)

Here’s my challenge to you

There are lots of strategies for you to earn money from your blog, and these are some of the best ones. Now that you’ve read through this list and seen what the options are, I want to you to pick at least one strategy that interests you, and get it started using it on your blog. You’ve probably heard the old saying “Don’t put all your eggs in one basket,” and getting started with one monetization strategy at a time lets you slowly master each one and then slowly build up to having multiple cash streams.

Let’s talk. Have you monetized your blog yet? Which of these strategies do you want to try out next?

How To Rock Your Social Media (In Just 4 Hours A Month)

by

Let's face it: social media is one of the most time-consuming parts of running a blog. I love, love, love getting to talk to other teen bloggers, but the writing and coming up with new content to share on Twitter, Instagram, and Pinterest every single day used to be such a hassle.

Let’s face it: social media is one of the most time-consuming parts of running a blog. I love, love, love getting to talk to other teen bloggers, but the writing and coming up with new content to share on Twitter, Instagram, and Pinterest every single day used to be such a hassle.

One of the biggest pieces of advice I’ve been given as a blogger is to use use social media to share content that will benefit my followers, including my own content and the content of other bloggers. It’s great advice, but actually taking the time to write that social media content and send it out through the day wasn’t fun. Actually, let’s face it. It was the part of blogging that I used to dread the most.

I absolutely wanted to share epic content with you, but writing content for social media wasn’t fun when I knew I could be planning a new product launch, writing a blog post, or doing dozens of other things (Netflix, anyone?)

That’s when I discovered batch scheduling.

Batch scheduling essentially means that instead of popping online a few times throughout the day to send out a tweet or post a photo on Instagram or pin some cool blog posts to Pinterest, you sit down at the computer for a few hours straight and just create and schedule lots of content at once.

It has completely changed the way that I run my social media, and I’m going to share how I do it.

Batch scheduling all of your social media content is an incredibly effective strategy. Let’s think about it. When you decide to get online and share something, you probably take a few minutes to scroll through your feed and check out what the news is. I usually check to see what’s trending, and try to visit and follow a few new people. You click “Create New Post” and stare the screen for a few moments to figure out what you want to share, and eventually type and send something out.

It’s a process that takes a few minutes, and then you have to do it all over again for the next social media platform. Fun?

Batch scheduling is essentially cuts out all of that empty time that you spend doing…essentially nothing. Sure, I might still check out the trending hashtags on Twitter and scroll through my feed or mentions, but once you get into the groove of it, those few hours fly by so quickly. It’s the easiest change I ever made, and has had a huge impact on the amount of time I spend creating content for social media.

First, let’s think of social media as a funnel.

Your website is the home base of everything you do online. Your site is where your visitors buy your products, get to work with you, and see everything that you’re up too. Your social media is NOT your blog. It’s how people get to your blog.

Here’s how it works:

Reader sees your content on social media > Goes to your blog > Checks out your free content > Subscribes to your email list > Transaction

It takes a while but you can see how slowly, you are being more and more influential to your reader and are building trust with them. Eventually, a transaction takes place, meaning either someone buys your product or buys a product that you recommend (as an affiliate). Everything that you are doing is building up to that transaction, but the main thing that you need to do is get people to your website in the first place.

The biggest mistake that many bloggers make is not having a social media strategy.

Batch scheduling all of your social media content at once helps with you see exactly how your social media strategy is working. When you schedule your social media content for several weeks at once, you can clearly lay out how you will be engaging current followers and getting new followers to go to your website and enter the funnel ( of dooooom. Just kidding.)

Now let’s talk about how to get this social media content scheduled all at once (in less than 4 hours).

Last Friday was my social media content scheduling day (which is what inspired this post!) and I scheduled all of my social media content until April. This consists of 5 tweets a day (5x 31 = 155), a few Instagram posts, and some Facebook and Pinterest content.

I did all of that in less than 4 hours.

Pretty cool, right? Creating your social media essentials, like sharing valuable blog posts, is something that becomes easy and painless if you sit down and schedule them all at once.

desk

1. First, make sure that you know exactly what you’re doing.

Don’t just sporadically schedule content, or just tweet out links to your blog posts once a day. You should definitely have some sort of plan when you start writing your social media content. Here are a few things that you might want to think about:

  • Are you gearing up for a launch? (If yes, you might want to share an higher amount of content relating to your new product’s topic.)
  • Who are your readers? What are their problems, and what type of content are they interested in?
  • What types of content do you share? Content that tells your readers how to do something? Content that inspires?
  • What type of content do your readers look for on each social media platform?What times are your readers online?

If you have a blog business plan written out (and it’s a great idea to have one!), then that is something you can refer to when figuring out what type of social media content you should be sharing.

2. Get In The Right Mindset

If you want to get all of your social media content scheduled in just 4 hours, getting in the right mindset is important. This isn’t the time to take lots of snack breaks, or start texting someone in the middle of your social media scheduling time. I get it, Netflix is distracting, but now is not the time to multitask.

Instead, set aside a chunk of your time to get everything done. I typically do all my social media scheduling on the first Friday of the month so that I can get it all done before the weekend, but I also have lots of time to work on it if something breaks down or goes wrong (and it has happened!)

Once you’ve got a plan and set some time aside to get this done, all you have to do is actually sit down and do this thing. All you need to do is get in the right mindset and believe that you can seriously do this.

3. Use A Batch Scheduling Program

Since I mostly schedule content for Twitter and Instagram, I use the free version of Hootsuite. Hootsuite is a social media management system that allows you to schedule your content ahead of time. One of my favorite parts of Hootsuite is its “Autoschedule” ability, which can automatically choose the ideal time to schedule your tweet based on Twitter peak times. Hootsuite works with Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, Facebook, Google+, Youtube, and more.

Another highly recommended social media management system is Buffer, which is something that I’d love to try out in the future. Buffer is similar to Hootsuite, but has more options for scheduling social media content and also has a mobile app you can use!

4. Fall Into The Groove Of Things

While some creativity is required, much of what you are doing is repetitive. Create new tweet, write the tweet, schedule it and repeat a couple hundred times. Eventually, you will fall into the groove of things and the process will become almost like a rhythm. It’s so easy!

To speed things up, you can use a rough template for your social media content. Here is the content template I use when sharing blog posts on social media.

[quick hook] [blog post title] [tag the blogger] [link].

Here’s how that might look in an actual tweet:

Want to learn how to manage your blogging time? (I do!) Create your own blog planner in less than an hour (via @totallylegitblogger). http://www.totallylegitblog.com/blog-planner. 

When I’m working on scheduling blog posts to be shared (both my own posts and the posts of others), this is a template that I often use. It’s quick and gives me enough room to display my personality and also give a quick description of what to expect from that blog post.

5. Create Your Content + Schedule It

Yes, this would be important! 😀

When you are creating the content for your social media, remember to think back to those questions that you answered in step #1. You shouldn’t be posting to social media just for the sake of posting to social media. You should be following your blog goals and every single thing you share on social media should be helping you do the following:

  • Reach your long-term goals.
  • Get people to visit your blog and enter your funnel.
  • Provide value to your readers
  • Connect with your readers
  • Establish yourself as an expert

If the content that you are sharing on social media doesn’t do at least a few of the things above, then just delete it. Yep, poof! Gone. The truth is that readers are selfish. While yes, it’s fine to post content about yourself every once in a while, readers are really looking at your blog and thinking, “How can this help me?”

Your social media content is the first impression that many of your readers will get of you. Make it a good one.

Here’s my challenge to you.

Even if you typically just write your social media content on the day it goes live, I want you to take one month and try to write and schedule all of your social media content. This post is appearing in your feeds at 6am, and you have the rest of day (and the evening) to take action and schedule your social media content for the next month.

Let’s do this thing.

Do you schedule your social media content? Which programs do you use to run your social media accounts?

 

5 Ways To Come Up With Blog Post Ideas (When Your Brain Feels Broken)

by

Us bloggers tend to go through spurts of inspiration. At least I know I do! There are some weeks where I'm just bursting with new ideas, and other times I spend hours just staring at the blank screen, cursor blinking.

Us bloggers tend to go through spurts of inspiration. At least I know I do! There are some weeks where I’m just bursting with new ideas, and other times I spend hours just staring at the blank screen, cursor blinking. There’s nothing more frustrating than having a lack of blog post ideas (okay, there are a FEW things more frustrating, but that’s a conversation for another day).

A lack of ideas is so not fun, especially when you actually have time to write something for your blog, but you just can’t think of what to say. This has happened to me so many times.

So what do you do when you’ve exhausted all the normal routes for coming up with ideas?

Here are 5 ways to come up with blog post ideas when you brain feels broken:

1. Survey your readers

Your readers are the best place to get new blog post ideas. They can provide you with feedback that you might not have learned on your own. On my other blog, I typically run a survey once a year to gather feedback from my readers and the responses I get are invaluable.

When you are running a blog survey to gather blog post ideas, here are a few questions you might want to ask:

  • Which types of posts do you find the most valuable?
  • What is your favorite blog post on the blog?
  • What are you currently struggling with/ want to learn?
  • Which types of content do you want to see less of?

These are all questions that will help you figure out what your readers are looking for, and help you figure out what type of content you should create more of in the future. You can even ask your readers to give suggestions or prompts for future blog posts, and you can build up a stash of blog post ideas for the future.

2. Repurpose old content

Chances are that there is tons of great old content from the early days of your blog that very few people have read. If you scroll through your archives, you will probably find some really great post that went unnoticed simply because your blog didn’t have as wide as audience as it does now.

A way to create new content is to find old content, tweak it, and post it for all of your current readers to see. You’ll probably remember how frustrating it was to spend hours on a post, and only get a couple views on it. By repurposing old content, you can get new posts up on the blog for your readers and not waste time trying to come up with ideas.

computer-for-blogging

3. Look For Trends

What are the hot topics in your niche right now? Trends are a great way to find inspiration for a new blog post and draw traffic to your blog at the same time. When you are trying to figure out what the current trends are, try this:

  • Look for trending hashtags on Twitter
  • Read established publications in your niche. What events or topics are they talking about a lot?
  • See which search terms are increasingly leading people to your blog.
  • See what key influencers are talking about in your niche.
  • What type of content is being shared on social media the most?

Trends are great inspiration for blog posts. You can talk about the trend, write a pros or cons list about the topic, or share your opinion (and more!).

4. Think Of Possible Spin-Offs Of Current Posts

Go to your blog dashboard and check out your stats. What is your most popular blog post? Maybe it is a post you wrote about why you love being a fashion blogger. Now think about how you could possibly write a spin-off of that post. In the example outlined above, you could possibly do the totally opposite of that post and write about all the negative parts of being a fashion blogger.

Spin-offs of popular posts are great because you already know that the new post will be a hit, just based on how popular the original was.

5. Use The Funnel Strategy

Maybe you don’t have an exact idea for a blog post, but you probably have a rough idea of what topics you’d like to write about. For me, I can narrow the list down to a few topics, like running a blog, managing social media, earning money from your blog, and growing your tribe online. That’s more specific than just “blogging,” but it isn’t quite specific enough.

From there, I use this funnel formula:

General Topic > More Specific Topic > Identify A Problem > Solve The Problem > Hook

Here’s how that might look for this post:

Blogging > Creating Content > Not Having Ideas > finding ideas > How to come up with ideas when your brain feels broken.

Do you see how it slowly progresses from general to more and more specific? That’s what you should be aiming for. I want you to pick one area that you blog about and test out this funnel method to create a solid blog post idea.

Here’s my challenge to you.

These are all strategies that I use to come up with blog post ideas for Fierce Blogging and my second blog. I challenge you to try out each of these methods and come up with one blog post idea for each method. That’s 5 new blog post ideas right there! Pretty cool, right?

How do you do when you are struggling to come up with blog post ideas?

1 2