By Holly Reisem Hanna
This post includes affiliate links.
If you want to work from home and make money blogging, then you need to have the right tools, resources, and information to guide your way. With an overwhelming amount of information on the web – it’s often confusing figuring it all out.
Listed below are some of the resources that I use, recommend, or that I’ve found helpful on my blogging journey. These tools will not only help get you started — they’ll make the process easier so you can start making money faster.
But first, grab my FREE Blogging e-book, it will teach you how to write great content, get tons of traffic to your blog, and most importantly, how to make money from it!
The foundation of your blog is your blogging platform, hosting provider, domain name, and theme. Below, each component is broken down into easy to understand terms and service providers.
According to The Balance, a blogging platform is the software service that you use to publish your content onto the internet in the form of a blog. A blog platform is a particular form of a content management system (CMS). There are many different blogging platforms to choose between (WordPress, Blogger, Squarespace, Typepad, Drupal, and Joomla), but I highly recommend WordPress. It's ideal for beginners as it's easy to use and modify. It has tons of functionality, and it's free to use — all you have to do is purchase your hosting and domain name. WordPress.org is what I use for this blog.
Over the years, I've had a lot of people ask me about Blogger, Google’s blogging platform. I’ve heard it’s easy to use, but because it's a free blogging platform your monetization methods are limited, and you don't own it. I also know a lot of bloggers who started out on Blogger but then had to make the switch to WordPress later on. So, do yourself a favor and use the self-hosted version of WordPress from the beginning, you'll save yourself from headaches down the road.
Domain and Hosting.
Once you've decided on a blogging platform, you'll need to purchase your domain name and hosting service. Your domain name is your blog's internet address, such as www.TheWorkatHomeWoman.com. If you're struggling with what your blog's name should be, this article has some great tips for choosing a domain name.
Next, you'll need to decide on a hosting provider. When choosing a hosting company you’ll want to make sure that you get one that’s reliable, cost effective, and that has excellent customer service. Over the years, I've had to switch hosting companies three times — which is never any fun. Right now I'm using a virtual private server (VPS) through Liquid Web, and I can't say enough good stuff about them! Their customer service is top notch and they have a wide variety of hosting plans, which makes it easy to upgrade your service as your blog grows.
However, as a new blogger, you don't need to start off with this robust of a hosting plan (my hosting plan currently costs $180 a month)! If I were just starting out, I would use Bluehost with their easy one-click WordPress install. In fact, I have a step-by-step tutorial on how to setup your blog with BlueHost here. BlueHost is not only super easy to use, it's also a great value. You can purchase your hosting for as little $3.95 a month and they even throw in your domain name for free. They have 24/7 customer support and a money-back guarantee if you don't love them.
When I first launched my blog, I had a graphic designer create a custom blog design for me. And while I loved my design — it was very expensive and difficult to modify. In fact, every time I wanted to make a change to my blog, I had to pay my web programmer to go in and modify the code.
So this past year when I refreshed my blog's design, I purchased a template from StudioPress — and can I say, best decision ever! Not only are StudioPress templates affordable ($59 – $129) they look great and they're super easy to modify. Another reason I love StudioPress is their themes are mobile responsive, which means your blog is optimized for mobile devices.
To help make your blog stand out, I suggest getting a custom logo designed. If you're launching your blog on a shoestring budget, you can try a service like Fiverr where freelancers only charge $5 for their services. I haven't used Fiverr for logo design, but I have used them for other some types of images, and I was extremely happy with the results. For my new logo, I used Heather of Moritz Fine Designs and she was excellent to work with and I love the new logo that she created.
After you have your blog set up, you'll want to install these must-have plugins for added functionality. All of these are free for the basic usage.
- Yoast (SEO plugin)
- WordFence (Security and anti-virus plugin)
- Askimet (SPAM plugin)
- Google Analytics for WordPress (Traffic data)
- Social Warfare or Shareaholic (Social sharing buttons)
Getting Blog Traffic:
To make money from your blog, you'll need to get readers to your blog. While there are tons of different ways to generate traffic, I suggest starting with these three main components.
1. Email Marketing.
From the very first day you launch your blog – you want to make sure that you’re building an email list. Search engine and social media algorithms are constantly changing, which means your traffic can go up and it can down without any warning. But with an email list, it is something that you own, and that can always be used to reach your audience.
Over the years, I've tried out three different email marketing platforms. The first email marketing platform I used was GoDaddy and while it was inexpensive it was pretty wimpy, so I switched to Constant Contact. I used Constant Contact for years and I really liked the ease of their platform and the professional-looking templates they provided, but it has its limitations. If you want an advanced email marketing platform that lets you segment lists, automate actions, and create auto-responders — go with ConvertKit. Now, ConvertKit costs more than the previous providers I mentioned, but their platform is very robust and they have great customer service.
As a new blogger, I understand you're working with a small startup budget, so there's nothing wrong with using a starter platform like Constant Contact or SendInBlue. The point is, just be sure you're using some sort of email marketing platform to connect with your audience. I list some free email marketing options here.
2. Search Engine Optimization (SEO).
The majority of my traffic comes from Google, and this is because certain keywords and phrases on my site have ranked well with the search engines. Search engine traffic is free, and you’ll want to take advantage of it. SEO can be very technical and it's constantly changing, so to get familiarized with SEO here are some useful articles on the basics.
If you're interested in learning more about SEO, here are a couple of courses I've purchased that are excellent.
- SKYROCKET Your Blog Pageviews Using Google Analytics
- DOMINATE The Search Engines Using Google Webmaster Tools
One word of caution about SEO. There are some companies that will say they can guarantee first-page placement within Google's search engine results, and often they use blackhat techniques. You want to stay away from these companies. No one can guarantee first-page placement within search results, SEO takes times and it comes from creating high-quality content that your readers love. There is no SEO quick fix!
3. Social Media.
My second largest source of traffic is from social media, specifically Pinterest and Facebook. Depending on what your blog's niche is you'll want to choose a few social networking platforms (Facebook, Twitter, Google Plus, Instagram, LinkedIn, Snapchat, Pinterest, YouTube, etc.) to promote your content on.
To help manage all of these social media platforms, I use HootSuite. I’ve tried other applications, but this one has the most functionality, and it is the easiest to use. You can schedule updates and manage most of your accounts in one place, and best of all it's FREE!
One network that you can’t manage from HootSuite is Pinterest. So for Pinterest, I use BoardBooster to manage and schedule my pins. It's only $5 a month and so worth it! You can schedule pins and re-loop your pins so that they receive maximum exposure.
For tips on how to maximize your Pinterest efforts, check out these resources:
- How I Grew My Pinterest Following by 5K in 3 Months
- Skyrocket Your Blog's Earnings and Traffic with Pinterest
- Pinterest Savvy: How I Got 1 Million Followers
To create pin-friendly images for your blog posts, I recommend PicMonkey or Canva. I started out using PicMonkey, which is easy to use, and it gives you professional looking images in a flash. But now I mostly use Canva as it has pre-made templates and font combos which help me create professional looking images quicker. Each platform is free for basic usage with premium features costing just a bit more. For stock images I use DepositPhotos not only do they have high-quality photos, but they're affordable.
One of the biggest parts of getting traffic is writing awesome content. To make sure your content is excellent you'll need to edit your posts for punctuation, grammar, and spelling. Now you can do this manually, but I've found that even when I go back and proofread two, three, even four times — I often miss typos. Of course, you can hire an editor to proof your content, but that can get expensive. A more affordable option is to use an editing software or program. I've tried a few different platforms out and by far my favorite is, Grammarly. It's easy to use and catches errors that word processing programs miss. It also tightens up your copy — so you're using an active voice.
How to Make Money Blogging:
There are so many ways to make money from your blog, from direct ad sales and ad networks, to affiliate marketing and product sales – so make sure to check out these must-read articles.
- 44 Ways to Make Money Blogging
- How to Get Companies to Purchase Advertising Space on Your Blog
- How to Get Your First Blog Advertiser
- How Bloggers Can Make Money with Affiliate Marketing
- How to Create a Money Making Blog Membership Site
Money Making Blog Courses.
I have read a ton of blogging books and purchased a lot of blogging courses over the years, and these are the ones that have SERIOUSLY helped me on my journey!
Elite Blog Academy.
Elite Blog Academy is THE course that took my blog from $21,000 a year to six-figures! Elite Blog Academy is a very robust course that gives you a step-by-step roadmap for success, starting with how to refine your message, grow your audience, monetize your platform, and finally build your business. The course itself contains 12 lessons that include videos, slideshow presentations, and handouts. Each module builds on the previous lessons, and together the modules will give you a clear, comprehensive framework for creating a successful and profitable blog.
Elite Blog Academy is taught by seven-figure blogger and business owner, Ruth Soukup. Her personal finance blog, Living Well Spending Less receives more than a million visitors a month. Having met her in person, I can tell you firsthand that she's incredibly passionate about helping other bloggers achieve massive success! I got so much out of this blogging course that in the fall of 2016 I joined EBA VIP, which is a mastermind group for advanced bloggers. Admission to this group came with a $2,000 price tag — which goes to show you how much I believe in Ruth and her teachings!
This course is right for ambitious beginners, intermediate-level bloggers who are looking to grow, and professional bloggers who need help with increasing traffic and income. This course starts with the premise that you already have a basic understanding of the fundamentals of blogging. Enrollment for Elite Blog Academy only opens up once a year — you can sign up here for the waitlist.
Making Sense of Affiliate Marketing.
I interviewed Michelle (the creator of this course) years ago. Since that time her blogging income has skyrocketed to the tune of $100K+ a month! Yes, you read that right, 100 thousand dollars a month! How does she do it? The majority of Michelle’s blogging income is earned through affiliate marketing, and in this online course, she’s sharing how she does it.
Making Sense of Affiliate Marketing includes six modules, 30 lessons, a course workbook, bonuses and a private mastermind group which is very active. In this course, you’ll learn all the nuts and bolts of affiliate marketing including how to find affiliate programs, necessary rules, and guidelines, how to get your readers to convert, advanced strategies, and tons more.
This course is perfect for beginners, and intermediate bloggers who aren’t seeing the results they want from affiliate marketing. If you want to master the art of affiliate marketing — Making Sense of Affiliate Marketing is a must have!
Hope you found this blogging roadmap helpful. Good luck on your blogging journey!
If you haven't started a blog yet, here is a blog post you'll want to check out! How to Setup a Moneymaking Blog, Fast!
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