When I first started blogging, it was a hobby. Hubs and I were just married and I wanted to document our lives as Mr & Mrs. I never could have imagined that over five years later, it would turn into what it is now. For me personally, I didn’t have intentions of turning this hobby of mine into a business. I love to blog. I love to have a place where I can look back on my life over the last five years and see how much things have changed. I especially love that my children will have this blog to look back on one day. To see all that we did preparing for their arrival, to see how we documented their first year of life, to see how we celebrated birthdays and went on family vacations. Most of all, to see how very loved they always have been and how they’re such a light in our lives. That right there is the main reason I blog.
As I continued to blog and document our lives, my blog continued to grow. With that growth came opportunities for sponsored posts, product reviews and revenue from ads. In the past year, this hobby has become a side business for me. It pays for swim and gymnastic lessons each month. This blog is also where a lot of my customers for Simply Made with Love come from. When the blog started to grow and make money, I wanted to make sure that it didn’t lose the personal feel and connection. It’s been a tad tricky trying to find the balance between keeping a personal feel on the blog while accepting income earning opportunities along the way.
Something I’ve noticed from a lot of the FB blog groups I’m in is that people want to blog to make money. Every day I see questions about companies to work with, who to contact, how to get your page views up and how to get your blog out there to help it grow and in turn, become a business. There isn’t one thing that someone can do to make that happen. I believe that it happens in time and with a lot of work. But, there are some things I think you can do to get started on the right foot. These are things I’ve learned along the way and believe helped take my blog to the next level.
1. Self Hosted WordPress
I made the decision earlier this year to switch from blogger to a self hosted WordPress.org site. The main reason for this switch was so that I owned my content. I wanted to have the control over my site. I also wanted to have a cleaner more professional look with a variety of plugins that worked specifically for my site. There are a variety of other positives as well, such as faster loading time and better SEO optimization. While I’ll admit it has been a learning curve to make the switch, it was hands down the best choice for my brand.
2. Hosting Network & Domain Name
Web hosting is important for a self hosted WordPress.org blog. When looking for a company to use, the most important thing is to have a company who has 24/7 access and support available. HostGator offers this for bloggers. There’s a lot to learn about blogging, once you leave the free platform. HostGator has a new Optimized WordPress, that is specifically built for an optimized and managed WordPress environment. Optimized WordPress hosting packages will come pre-loaded with PHP 5.6 by default (the most recent PHP version offered). HostGator will handle all of the core, theme, and plugin updates without the need for any action on your part.
In other words, you won’t have to worry about logging into your WP-Admin panel to handle common updates. Additionally, Optimized WordPress does not provide cPanel access, allowing you to install and access your WordPress sites without needing to access or navigate an extra control panel to do the things you want to do. Other benefits of Optimized WordPress is automatic updates of plugins, theme and WordPress, Sitelock malware scanning and removal, Sitelock Content Delivery Network (CDN), and CodeGuard daily backup and restores (down to the file level.)
This service makes things EASY. I’m not a computer programmer. I’m not a developer. I’m a blogger. There are a lot of things I do not understand when it comes to running a site. With HostGator, I can focus on blogging and let them handle the rest.
Here are some things HostGator provides:
*24/7 live support via chat, phone, and email – you’re not alone. We’re here to help.
*One click WordPress installs – no messy downloading and uploading of files.
*One click and start easy to use website builder – drag and drop tools that make building a site super simple.
*Design services – don’t want to build your site? Let our pros do it for you.
*Marketing services (SEO and PPC) – want to generate traffic? Our in house experts want to help.
*Domains – HostGator is your one-stop-shop for domains!
3. Blog Design (WordPress Theme)
This is the time to personalize your blog. When I started planning out my design, I started with choosing 4 colors. mint, navy, red and grey were going to be my main colors on the blog. From there, I started drawing what I wanted on my blog. I know I wanted an area for searching the blog, an about me section, a social media section and most of all a place to show my recipes, highlighted posts and new designs from the shop. Having that all drawn out and written down, helped when it came time to chose a theme. I spent a lot of time searching and I finally found a theme that worked for me, with all of the bells and whistles I wanted. There are so many WordPress themes available. A good search for WordPress themes on Pinterest and Etsy is a good place to start.
4. Strong Content
In order to grow your blog, you want your readers to come back. You want them to get invested in your site and make it a part of their day. This all starts with content. At the beginning of this year, I sat down and wrote a blog business plan. I set goals that specifically focused on where I wanted it to go within the year. One of the things I did was thought about what I wanted my readers to gain from reading. From there, I looked at my most popular posts to see what people were coming back for.
From there, I decided to focus on the following topics when planning out my weekly blogging schedule:
post one: mommy school/ keeping kids busy/ parenting:
post two: a recipe
post three: teach or share: how to posts, sharing a special occasion in our lives, putting a round up together for an upcoming holiday, etc.
post four: personal life. This usually happens for me on Fridays. I love doing a reflection of the week and sharing some of my favorite pictures.
While I rarely get around to actually posting four times a week, this schedule helps with my planning.
And one thing not to forget when it comes to content is GREAT PICTURES!
5. Social Media Promotion
Having ads on your blog to monetize it won’t do anything if you don’t have any traffic. A great way to get your blog out there is to promote it across all avenues of social media. Pinterest, Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, Stumble Upon, Google +, just to name a few.
Promoting your posts and sharing your blog and posts with family and friends is a great place to start. From there, spend time investing in other blogs. Something that will help grow your blog is interaction across all social media platforms. Comment on other blogs, reply to comments on your IG or Twitter, retweet posts, spend 10 minutes a day promoting other blogs on Stumble Upon, etc. Promote all of your posts across your social media platforms. Doing these things will grow your social media following and will in turn bring more readers to your blog.
Growing a blog will not happen over night. It takes time, patience and most of all commitment. What you put into it is what you’ll get out of it. If you’re serious about turning your blog into a business, make a plan, do research and get to work. In time, your hard work will pay off…literally.
How did you grow your blog?
What questions do you have about turning your blog into a business?
Don’t forget to check out HostGator for your hosting needs.
I was selected for this opportunity as a member of Clever Girls and the content and opinions expressed here are all my own.