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I’m Beverly and I’ve been blogging for nearly 10 years. I started out doing content writing for a blogging service. While that seemed like a fun way to make a little money, it became very time-consuming to make it worth what I was getting paid. When I started working part-time as a travel consultant for planning Disney vacations, I started a blog all about planning vacations. I did that for 3 years but didn’t spend enough time marketing it to make it a serious part of my income and the busier I got with the vacation planning business the less time I spent blogging.. My family and I love to travel and I still love writing about it, so when I stumbled across a course to not only write a blog, but to seriously monetize it to really make a decent income, I jumped on it. That’s when it hit me that if I can do it, anybody who loves to write about traveling can do it too. So I wanted to share what I’ve learned and condense it into easy steps to get started. I have discovered a few secrets that will make a difference between just blogging and having a blogging business. You can still write about your travels to your heart’s content, but if you don’t set it up right in the beginning and work hard towards taking the steps to make it a money-making blog, then this isn’t for you. Like any business, what you put into it will determine what you get out. So a little hard work in the beginning will set you up in ways you didn’t know existed and eventually you can sit back and enjoy life, travel, and do what you want and your blog will support your lifestyle.
You are welcome to run through this list all at once, but I recommend you take your time and do it right and perhaps only work on one step a day. If you already have a blog, this will work for you too, although you might want to make a few changes.
STEP ONE: This is probably the most important step you will be taking. If you want your blog to be truly successful, you need to think about a subject (niche) that you are not only interested in but have a passion for. Without this, it will be hard to sustain a long time dedication to keeping your content fresh and interesting to your readers. Anybody can throw out several articles about their family trip, but where do you go after that? I obviously chose Disney and Disney travel because this is my passion, it always has been and always will be. So think about this and ask yourself:
- Have I traveled enough that I could write a lot of content that readers are interested in?
- Do I have the opportunity for a lot of travel in my future to write about.
- Will my travels interest readers if I write about it and do I have good quality images to share?
- If your answer to these questions aren’t a sound yes, fear not, you can still ask yourself about other subjects that can be just as profitable. I focus on travel because that is my passion. Even if you love to travel, you might feel more passionate about another subject, such as the following questions.
- Am I passionate about a hobby?
- Do I want to learn about something and write about my journey?
- Am I an expert in something that I could share informative content?
- Do you want to write about your life, family, travel, and your lifestyle? You don’t have to stick with just one subject anymore.
- Does my niche solve a problem? This is probably the most important question if you want to monetize your blog. Providing answers or advice to your readers when they are looking for an answer will gain their trust and they will be willing to buy what you are selling.
Do you see where I’m going here? The point of this exercise is to discover something you love and are passionate enough to put in some hard work but enjoy for the long haul. There is no beginning or ending in blogging, it’s an on-going thing so make it something you love. What is that saying “find a career you love and you’ll never work a day in your life”? That certainly applies to blogging. So for today, spend some time deciding what you want to write about and start making an outline or list of ideas. Remember to ask yourself the questions above and if you want your blog to make money, you have to be writing for your readers and not just yourself. Every blog you write doesn't have to solve a problem for your readers, but most of them should and you will find that is easier than you think.
STEP TWO: Now that you know what you want to write about, it’s time to sign up and get your hosting set up. I will spend the rest of the time walking you through exactly how I set my blog up to start making money for me. I believe one of the smartest decisions I made was to choose WordPress for my blog platform and hosted with Bluehost which is the largest WordPress hosting company. I have added the link to Bluehost so you can check for a domain and set it all up. They will walk you through the very easy steps. The wonderful thing about Bluehost is that WordPress is free and you get a free domain for the first year. You will see they have 3 plans to choose from. The basic plan will work just fine for a start-up blog. Use the drop-down arrow to choose if you want to pay for 1 year or 3 years. I opted for the 1 year just because I was watching my budget closely. They will walk you through the steps of getting your domain name. Try to pick something that identifies with your subject and what you will name your blog and make your logo. We will discuss your logo in the next step. Also I’ve found that using .com is always recommended over .net, etc.
STEP THREE: Now that we officially have a blog set up, it’s time to decide on a logo. A logo is very important because that tells everyone who you are and what you are sharing with them. A logo is usually your blog name and an icon. Most of us aren’t always artistic enough to come up with something eye-catching and attention grabbing, so I turn to Fiverr. They are the cheapest and they have a large pool of designers that will get you a logo for $5 – $25. They will give you a couple of options so you are satisfied with your logo. Don’t hesitate to ask questions if you don’t like something or you have suggestions, they are there to get you the best logo they can and sometimes it takes emailing back and forth to get what you want. Here is a link to Fiverr if you need help with your logo.
STEP FOUR: So now you have a blog it’s time to get started. The great thing about WordPress is that it’s very user friendly. It is however, a large platform and it would be wise to watch videos to get the heads up on how to navigate through it. The videos are great step by step instructions and it will take some time to familiarize yourself with WordPress before you jump in. Don’t worry, getting started is the easiest step. They even had it set up to click on a link to write your first post and your About Me page. This should tell who you are and your story. You want to spend some time and check it all out. Also, I suggest you get as much of your site set up as you can and at least 10-20 blog posts before you actually go “live”. Even though you have a domain and it’s hosted, until you go live, if you type in your URL, you will get a page that says “Coming Soon”. This step might be the longest, but it is very important to gather as much information and learn how to navigate your site. I went to You Tube and searched for WordPress and all kinds of tutorials are available. Focus on the beginner level ones.
A word about your images and their importance to remember as you are writing your content. A blog is a short story and every story is more interesting with images. Make sure your images are good quality and make them large so they stand out and enhance your story. If you are like me, my images always need to be edited to get them just the way I want them. I use PicMonkey to edit my images and they have templates that help me also change them to fit my social media platforms. PicMonkey also has touch-up editing and many other tools to make your images look awesome. They also have instructional videos that are easy to follow and they email often with new tools they are adding.
STEP FIVE: Once your blog goes live, the next step is to set up your social media platforms with your new blog. If you want to really make this a business, then you need to set up everything with your blog name and not your personal accounts. The most important ones to start with are Facebook, Pinterest, Twitter, Google+, and Instagram. If that seems a little overwhelming, my suggestion is to go ahead and set them all up and then pick one and develop it by posting your blog posts and sharing with as many other people and groups as you can. Facebook is crucial to any business and you can use their ads to boost your Facebook page faster. Look up Facebook groups to join. They are good for advice and they will help your “likes” increase. Pinterest has become a very important aspect of the blogging business, so be sure to set your Pinterest up as a business account and you can link your URL so that it shows up on anything you pin or re-pin. Set up several boards and pin your blog posts and re-pin at least 30 pins from other pinners with pins relative to your subject. Read all you can about how to use Pinterest to boost your business. It will pay off a lot in the long run. Google+ is mostly good for getting Google to notice your posts quicker than they would if you weren’t posting on their platform. Don’t spend a lot of time on Google+, but I post my new blogs as soon as I publish them on my blog site. Twitter is just fun to me and I enjoy posting by blogs and then I spend at least 30 minutes picking people to follow. The more you follow the more followers you will get. Instagram is important for getting your name out there and even though it’s harder to accomplish that the way it’s set up, it’s still a good idea to post your pics often.
Social Media is probably one of the most important ways to monetize your blog, so spending your time wisely developing your social media as well as churning out quality content with blog posts will pay off big time down the road. Fortunately, there are tools and plugins to help keep up with the demand of posting, pinning, and tweeting. My favorite tools for this is Tailwind and Social Warfare. Tailwind is a site that you signup with a free trial and upload your Pinterest pins and your Instagram images and they schedule them for you. Very easy to use and their staff is very helpful with videos and webcasts. I can spend the day uploading to Tailwind and forget about it for a week or two. They even pick the best times to post for you. Social Warfare is a plugin that you sign up and add directly to your WordPress. Then you have an icon in your blog post toolbar you can click and your social media share buttons will be placed in your post. In the settings you can choose what social media platforms you want to add. This makes it very easy for your readers to share your posts to their social media so it's very important to have the buttons at the beginning and the end of every post. You might want to check out another plugin that will let you set up your social media platforms so that you can easily schedule them to share your posts. Revive Old Posts is incredible for bloggers that have a fairly large inventory of blog posts to schedule and from then on it works on auto pilot. The basic plan runs $75 a year but worth every penny if time is your issue.
I hope this will get you started on your journey to creating a blog that will tell your story and help you earn money to give you the freedom to spend time with your family, your hobby, or travel. I have included links to sites and plugins that I use and believe in. If you click on one of them and purchase anything, I get a small commission and I want to thank you for supporting my blog…you are awesome!
This is only the beginning steps toward monetizing your blog. There is a 21-day Course that I took that took my blog to the next level. Once you get your blog all set up and running and you are serious about making your blog a business, I highly recommend you take the Travel Blogging Fast Track with Heather and Pete Reese of It’s A Lovely Life. They share their monetizing plan and strategy and so much more. Their blog has been very profitable for them and they mentor you every step of the way. Click on the image below and take that first step towards making your dream life a reality!
BONUS TIP: What is SEO and why do I need to learn all about it? You might already know this, for those who don't, SEO stands for Search Engine Optimization. Just like it sounds SEO is necessary to get your blog posts found on the search engines. What's the point of working hard and creating a beautiful website if nobody can find it. Luckily, WordPress is set up to add plugins that will do this for you. There are many plugins out there, but I learned in the 30-Day Blogging Fast Track course I took that this one seemed to work very well with WordPress and is very user friendly. This plugin is All-In-One SEO Pro. I have added the link so it will be easy for you to find it. Once you sign up for the plug-in you go to WordPress, scroll down your dashboard list to Plugins and click Add New and follow the instructions. All of the links I have provided are the ones I am using and they have the tools and resources I need to set my blog up to be successful. The support they give in the form of videos, webinars, and even one-on-one availability is very important to a new blogger or even a veteran blogger like me who are now learning to really monetize my blog successfully. Please send a comment if you have any questions.