Category: Blogging

Why I Started a Blog

Why I Started a Blog

Standard Disclosure: In order to support my blogging activities and provide free content on this blog, I may receive a commission if you purchase from the links in this post.

I don’t often post about blogging and other business, but today I am going to stray from my usual topics. I wanted to take a few minutes to let you know WHY I started a blog in the first place.

Even before my husband and I got married, we talked about our shared desire to have me stay at home when we had children. This was very important to us and from the start, we made many of our financial decisions based on this. We saved much of our income when we were first married and had two full-time incomes coming in.

We now live primarily on one income. It’s not always easy and we have to make sacrifices often.

While I have been home for the last 5 years, I have been blessed with a few side projects (many with my previous employer) over the years. With each temporary job, we put the income in savings. The savings has helped with medical bills, car and home repairs, and other things outside our day-to-day living expenses. We have also been able to build up our children’s education fund, as our main goal is to pay for a Christian education for them. (A majority of our financial decisions are made with this sole goal in mind – their Christian education.)

Why I Started a Blog

I started my blog two years ago for two main reasons.

  • I wanted to create an early morning habit and the blog held me accountable to waking up early.
  • I wanted to find a way to contribute financially to our family, to build our savings, and to grow our daughters’ education fund. I was only looking to do something flexible that would allow me to “work” completely on my own schedule. Blogging is not typically a fast way to make money, but I knew that there was potential in it if I was willing to put in the time and effort.

Here is the thing: I would NEVER have thought of myself as an entrepreneur. I never thought of myself as creative. I never considered owning a business or making income on the side.

Shortly after I started blogging, I realized that I enjoy this! I was excited with the potential that working online has. There is SO much to learn, but I love researching and learning. I quickly found that my favorite parts of blogging include the design, the back-end of the site, strategy, connecting with other bloggers, and learning. The actual writing part is further down the list!

  • Have you ever considered starting a blog?
  • Do you currently have a blog?
  • Do you have dreams to work from home?
  • Do you want to take your current blog to the next level?
  • Do you desire to make money on the side while staying at home?
  • Do you have a small side business, but want to know how to take it up a notch by adding a blog to help your business?

If this is you, I want to share a few free resources with you. The resources are from Ruth Soukup of Living Well Spending Less and Elite Blog Academy.

Goal Setting Workbook for Bloggers
Blog Structure Blueprint
7 Surefire Ways to Boost Your Blog Income Overnight

Sign up to be notified with Elite Blog Academy is open for enrollment. It’s just once per year!

 

If you want to see what the process of setting up a blog is like: check out my step-by-step guide here. I have used Bluehost for my blog for almost 2 years now and have been 100% happy with them! Just a few days ago, I renewed for another two years.

You can also check out my list of Blogging Tools & Resources to see what I currently use on my blog.

Sign up for my Blogging Tips & Resources Newsletter.

blogging-tips-and-resources-newsletter

If you have considered starting a blog, I invite you to start one today. Make sure you share your blog name with me so I can check it out!

Why I Started a Blog

Stop by to see where I link-up my posts each week: Link-Up List 

Blogging Tips and Resources Newsletter

I am excited to start a Blogging Tips & Resources Newsletter.

Blogging Tips and Resources Newsletter

I am not a blogging expert, but I have been able to grow my blog in the almost 2 years since I started. My blog has grown in both page views and income. One of the main reasons I think it’s grown is because I have done my research. I don’t follow all the blogging rules as my time is limited (I have 2 children at home with me everyday!), but I pick and choose the rules I feel are important to me. I have learned the importance of focusing on my individual blog goals.

In the online world, I often hear that you don’t need to feel like an expert to teach. You just have to remember that you are always a few steps ahead of someone. If I am a few steps ahead of where you are now (and where I was months ago), I would love to share what I have learned and encourage you along in your blogging journey!

Who is this for?

  • You have considered starting a blog but haven’t started one yet.
  • You are in your first couple years of blogging, and you feel overwhelmed and need direction.
  • You want to learn about some of the great blogging resources out there. I will keep you in the loop!
  • You have dreams to work from home or just make money on the side.
  • You enjoy the behind-the-scenes of the blogging life.

What will I be sending?

This newsletter is NOT a step-by-step guide to starting a blog (you can find that here). I will be e-mailing you with:

  • links to helpful blog posts
  • tips and encouragement
  • affiliate ideas
  • blogging resources
  • and more!

There are SO many blogging courses, books, websites, and posts. It can be overwhelming to hear all that you need to do to grow your blog. So often it seems that bloggers think they need to follow every single piece of advice out there and they get immediately overwhelmed. One thing that I quickly learned is that you need to focus on what works for you. It’s key to research and learn what is applicable to your blog and your business, and ignore the rest. Or write it down to be a priority in the future.

I LOVE to research all things blogging…almost to a fault. I want to share what I have learned with you in my Blogging Tips and Resources Newsletter.



Start with checking out my list of favorite blogging tools and resources!

Sign up for my Blogging Tips and Resources Newsletter. I will be sharing: links to helpful blog posts, tips and encouragement, affiliate ideas, blogging resources and more!

This post contains affiliate links.

Stop by to see where I link-up my posts each week: Link-Up List

Top Blogging Tools and Resources

When I first started my blog, I had no idea what all went into it! I learned quickly that I would need to find the tools and resources that worked for me. I enjoy researching so I thought it was fun to go on the hunt for the top blogging tools and resources. My main goal was to find the free options that worked best. Many of the tools and resources below are free.

Some of the resources below are paid resources, but I am very selective about what I will pay for. *Some of the links below are affiliate links. At no additional cost to you, I may earn a commission if you choose to make a purchase.* 

Check out my top blogging tools and resources below!

Top Blogging Tools and Resources. Many of my favorites are free blogging resources!

Start Your Blog

Bluehost Starting at $3.95/month. Read my step-by-step (with printable) for starting a blog.

Free eBook/Workbooks

5 Types of Content that will Boost Your Blog Traffic – by Just a Girl and Her Blog
Goal Setting Workbook for Bloggers
– by Ruth Soukup of Elite Blog Academy
Blog Structure Blueprint – by Ruth Soukup of Elite Blog Academy
7 Surefire Ways to Boost Your Blog Income Overnight – by Ruth Soukup of Elite Blog Academy 
Free Blog Traffic Bonus Guide by Lena Gott of Adventures in Blogging
10 Mistakes that Bloggers Make – free eBook by Food Blogger Pro
The Number 1 Thing – free eBook by Food Blogger Pro

Connect with Your Readers: Build a Mailing List

Powered by MailChimp I use Mailchimp for my mailing list. They offer free accounts for up to 2,000 subscribers.
SumoMe I use the Smart Bar and List Builder apps. I use the free versions of both apps. I like the level of customization they provide, so I can decide when I want my pop-up to show up. You will never see it show up the second you arrive on my site! I also use the Heat Maps on occasion. Heat Maps are a great tool to see where your readers are clicking on your site.

Social Media

BoardBooster for scheduling pins in Pinterest. Use this link to get a free Trial including 100 pins. I now pay $5 for 500 pins per month.
Buffer for scheduling tweets. I have only used the free version for Twitter, but Buffer can also be used as a scheduling tool for Facebook, LinkedIn, Google+ and Pinterest.
SumoMe I use the Share app (also free).

Tools

Gumroad (product distribution) – I use Gumroad to sell my Health & Wellness Planner and Travel Planner. I plan on using it for future products. Gumroad is an easy program to work with and it offers an affiliate program for your products.
Canva
– I use this design tool for all my blog images. It’s simple to use and free. Before purchasing InDesign, I used Canva to create printables.
Adobe InDesign – I currently create my printables using InDesign.  

Pictures

There are so many free stock photo sites out there. Here are a few that I use most often: Unsplash, picjumbo, and Kaboom pics
I recently joined Haute Chocolate’s Styled Stock Library. I am excited to use the photos and graphic elements as I improve the look of my blog!

haute chocolate styled stock photos

Books

Building a Framework: The Ultimate Blogging Handbook by Abby of Just a Girl and Her Blog
How To Blog For Profit: Without Selling Your Soul by Ruth of Living Well Spending Less
Blog Traffic ebook: 17 Strategies I Used to go from 17K to 350K+ Page Views in 9 Months by Lena Gott
How to Double Your Blog Traffic in 90 Days (or less!) by Sarah of XOsarah.com
Create. Profit. Party! by Sarah of XOsarah.com
Strategies Worth Sharing: How I Grew My Facebook Page from 2,000 to 100,000 in 5 Months by Brittany of Equipping Godly Women 

Free eBook/Workbooks

5 Types of Content that will Boost Your Blog Traffic – by Just a Girl and Her Blog
Goal Setting Workbook for Bloggers
– by Ruth Soukup of Elite Blog Academy
Blog Structure Blueprint – by Ruth Soukup of Elite Blog Academy
7 Surefire Ways to Boost Your Blog Income Overnight – by Ruth Soukup of Elite Blog Academy 
Free Blog Traffic Bonus Guide by Lena Gott of Adventures in Blogging
10 Mistakes that Bloggers Make – free eBook by Food Blogger Pro
The Number 1 Thing – free eBook by Food Blogger Pro

Sponsored Posts

Izea
Tap Influence
Clever Girls
Activate
Socialix (brands can get one month free here)

Affiliate Companies and Opportunities

ShareaSale – this affiliate network works with a huge number of companies. A few examples: Cents of Style, Green Kid Crafts,  Dayspring Cards, VidAngel
Amazon – link to about any type of product with their affiliate program.
Grove Collaborative – some of the best customer service out there!
Thrive Market – get 25% off your first order as a customer
Vitacost – get $10 as a customer

Plugins (all free)

Short Pixel – This plugin is used to compress and optimize image sizes. This plug-in will help your SEO’s ranking. (Free version, but you can pay a small amount to have all your past images optimized. I paid under $10 to have my entire site optimized.). 
jQuery Pin It Button For Images
– This free plugin makes it easy for readers to pin your images. It highlights images on hover and adds a “Pin It” button over them for easy pinning.
Related Posts by Zemanta – This plugin adds recommended posts at the bottom of each of your posts. It will show posts that your reader may also be interested in, hopefully keeping them on your site longer. 
Title and Nofollow For Links – The plugin adds a title and a rel=”nofollow” checkbox to the insert link popup box. It’s a simple way to add ‘no-follow’ for affiliate and sponsored links. I like just having to check a box instead of messing with code.
Magic Action Box – Create a simple custom newsletter opt-in box. (To see this in action, view one of my posts. It’s the newsletter sign in under the related posts and above the share buttons.) 
Yoast SEO – Easy to use SEO plugin. 

eCourses

Elite Blog Academy – get on the waiting list!
Food Blogger Pro – get on the waiting list! (Membership Coupon)

Advertising

Media.net – receive a BONUS of 10% on your earnings for 3 months
Google Adsense

Affiliate Marketing

Affiliate marketing is my top revenue source at this time. Check out my list of Top Affiliate Programs and Recommendations.

Sign up for my Blogging Tips & Resources Newsletter.

Blogging Tips and Resources

Don’t forget to PIN this post for later!

What are your top blogging tools and resources?

Top Blogging Tools and Resources. Many of my favorites are free blogging resources!

Stop by to see where I link-up my posts each week: Link-Up List

How to start a blog – with domain name help

Are you wondering how to start a blog? I’m happy to walk you through the simple steps to starting a blog and to help you pick your domain name. Picking a domain name can be the hardest part!

One of the advantages of starting a blog is that it’s inexpensive and low-risk. I started a blog because I wanted to start a new habit of waking up early. I was dedicated to blogging about it every morning before my girls woke up. I figured that if I only blogged for a few months, created an early waking habit, and then decided blogging wasn’t for me, it would still be money well spent!

Here I am 16+ months later and I’m hooked on blogging. I enjoy writing, but also was surprised to find that I love making updates to design, creating blog images and printables, engaging in the blogging community, researching, researching some more, and learning to grow my blog. My long-term goal was to create some income from my blog, and I am excited that is happening. 

How to start a blog. Includes domain name availability checker and brainstorming printable.

Some of the links below are affiliate links. At no additional cost to you, I will earn a commission if you choose to make a purchase. 

Click here to start a blog on Bluehost, and follow my step-by-step guide to setting up a blog:

  1. Pick a domain name – use the printable below to help the brainstorming process!
  2. Set up hosting through Bluehost
  3. Install WordPress
  4. Choose a theme
  5. Start your blog! After you use this info, come back and leave your website in the comments. I would love to stop by.

1 – Pick a domain name

The domain name is the web address. For example, my domain name is morningmotivatedmom.com. You can get one year’s domain name registration for FREE directly through Bluehost when you sign up for 12 months of web hosting.

This step is not always easy! It can be hard to think up the perfect name for your blog. When I named my blog, I wrote down over 40 names as I was brainstorming for my domain name. Here are a few tips to help you pick your domain name:

  • Make your name easy to spell and say.
  • Use keywords.
  • Do not make your domain name too long.
  • Do not be too specific if you feel that your blog topics may expand or change someday.
  • Just pick something! It’s easy to get hung up on this step. At some point, you just need to move on!

Use this printable to brainstorm and write out your ideas.

How to Start a Blog. How to pick a domain name. Domain Name Printable.

Once you decide on a few favorites, check to see if the domain name is available. How do you know if your domain name is available? Use the domain name checker below to find out.

2 – Set up hosting through Bluehost

This is the place where your blog will live. Bluehost is where you will rent the space to install the WordPress software and manage your blog. I have been using Bluehost since the start of my blog and definitely recommend setting up your hosting through them. I have not had one issue! Bluehost is easy to use and is also reliable.

There are sites that will host your blog on their server for free, but you will have less freedom with your site’s design and layout. There are also limits on how you are able to monetize with a free hosting service. If you have plans to build your blog and monetize some day, a self-hosted site (like Bluehost) is key. It’s inexpensive through Bluehost and you will get your domain for free.

Here is a summary of some of the reasons to use Bluehost for your wordpress.org blog:

  • Bluehost is quick and easy to use.
  • Bluehost is affordable.
  • With Bluehost, you get your domain name for free.
  • You can use WordPress for free with Bluehost.
  • With Bluehost, you are self-hosted, which will give you more freedom with your blog and is key if you plan on monetizing.
  • Bluehost offers technical support. I cannot speak on the response times because I have never had an issue where I need to get their technical support. I think it speaks of the reliability of the site if I have not needed to call their tech support!
  • Bluehost offers an anytime money-back guarantee.

It’s very affordable to set up your blog through Bluehost. It’s also basically all you need to get up and running. I was blogging for months before I spent money on anything else. To get started, click the image below and select the green “get started now” button.

1-Bluehost Homepage

The next step is to select your plan. There are 3 options with Bluehost

  • Basic Package – currently $3.49/month (36 month option)
  • Plus Package – currently $5.95/month (36 month option)
  • Pro Package – currently $13.95/month (36 month option)

The rates are currently lower than in the screenshot below.

Bluehost Plan Options

When starting out, the Basic/Starter plan is all that you need. I am still on the Basic plan and it is working out perfectly!

After selecting your plan, you will see the screen below. Enter your domain name under new domain if you are starting a new blog and are getting a new domain name. Or if you already own the domain name, enter it under the transfer domain box.

3-Bluehost Domain Registration

On the next page, you will enter in your account information, package information, and billing information. The picture below is of the package information section. You will have the options to select a 12 Month, 24 Month, or 36 Month plan. Please note that you are pre-paying for your hosting, so you will be billed the full amount upfront. Bluehost has a money-back guarantee so you can always request a refund in the future. Or if you are worried about the upfront cost, just select the 12 Month Plan.

5-Bluehost Choose Plan

After you select your Account Plan, you will have a few other options. You are fine to skip all the additional options (the circled options) unless you are registering with your home address. To keep your home address private, I highly recommend selecting the box for Domain Whois Privacy! This will keep your personal address from being displayed to the public. If you are registering with a business address, this may not be needed.

 Once you have entered in your account information, package information, and billing information, click NEXT.

6-Billing Info

On the next screen you will create your password. Once your password is set, you can log into your Bluehost Account.

3 – Install WordPress

After you have logged into your Bluehost account, the next step is to install WordPress. WordPress is the software that runs your blog and it’s the platform that you will use on a daily basis. WordPress is where you will be writing and publishing blog posts. It’s also where you will be customizing the design and layout of your site. Under hosting – cpanel – website building, select “Install WordPress” as seen on the screen below. You will also get an e-mail from Bluehost that sends you to your cpanel.

7-cPanel

Then click on Start button to install.

8-WordPress

Check your domain.

9-Install WP

Check the box by “Show advanced options”. On this last step enter your Site Name (ex: Morning Motivated Mom). Choose the username and password that you will use to log into WordPress. Make sure it’s unique and pick a username other than simply “admin”. Enter your e-mail address, read and agree to the terms and Install!

10-WP Login

You will get e-mail communication from both Bluehost and WordPress. You should keep your username and password for both, but you will primarily be logging into WordPress. I rarely have the need to log into Bluehost, but am in WordPress every single day.

You have a blog! Log into WordPress at http://www.YOURBLOGNAMEHERE.com/wp-login.php:

Log into WordPress to start your blog

4 – Choose a theme

With WordPress, you have thousands of themes to choose from. There are many free options that are perfect for starting. When logged into WordPress, go to “Appearance – Themes” to select and activate a free theme or upload a purchased theme.

5 – Browse around the WordPress dashboard and start your blog!

If you use the info in this post and start your own blog with Bluehost, come back and leave your site in the comments. I would love to stop by!

5 – Sign up for the free resources below!

Goal Setting Workbook for Bloggers
Blog Structure Blueprint
7 Surefire Ways to Boost Your Blog Income Overnight

Get on the waiting list for Elite Blog Academy!

If you are wondering where to start when looking for the top tools and resources for your blog, read this post of my favorite blogging resources.

Sign up for my Blogging Tips & Resources Newsletter.

Blogging Tips and Resources

Stop by to see where I link-up my posts each week: Link-Up List