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How to Create a Blog Reader Survey

A blog reader survey is more than learning about WHO is in your audience. Creating effective reader surveys help you tune your blog content (and products) toward the needs of your audience, resulting in greater page views and profits.

Don’t believe me? In this post, you will learn:

  • Why a reader survey is important
  • How to survey your blog readers
  • Questions to ask in a reader survey
  • How to use the survey results

A blog reader survey is more than learning about WHO is in your audience. Creating effective reader surveys help you tune your blog content (and products) toward the needs of your audience, resulting in greater page views and profits.Are you scratching your head and wondering what your readers want from your blog? Maybe you have spent time writing blog posts that they never share. Perhaps you even launched a product that no one bought.

Ummm… have you considered asking your readers what they need?

Conducting a reader survey is a simple and fast way to know more about your audience. <— That’s value-packed information! Once you know your reader’s biggest problems, you can provide solutions through engaging content and products.

Learn to Create Digital Products Your Audience Will Buy!

Before we get to the products, do you realize how important it is to know who your readers are?

I hear you saying, “Yes and that’s why I have a target audience.”

GREAT! Creating a target audience/avatar helps you define your ideal reader. By narrowing your audience to similar interests, you create a more profitable blog without needing more page views.

But, how do you know if you are actually connecting with your avatar?

It’s time to conduct a reader survey.

How to Survey Your Blog Readers

Surveying your readers is not a difficult process. It can be as simple as asking one question in each email or social media post and recording the answers. However, you must start with a purpose for your survey.

What the purpose of a blog reader survey?

We have agreed that you need to know who your audience is and what they need, but asking your readers a bunch of questions will not help you unless you already have a purpose in mind.

What exactly do you want to know from your readers? And “what do you like hearing from me” or “what do you want to hear from me next” is not exact.

As a matter of fact, I would challenge you to NEVER ask your readers that question. Why?

Because that puts too much pressure on the reader to create your editorial calendar. Most people will see those questions and shrug, “I don’t know so I will skip it.” You need to plant the thought – the direction you want to take – and allow the reader to respond.

While polling your blog readers IS about gathering information, a blog survey is a tool for clarifying your next step, blog post, product idea.


Several years ago, I had a product idea but wasn’t sure if my audience has interest in the topic. So, I conducted a reader survey and chose the questions with my end goal in mind… finding out if they would buy.

I asked a total of SEVEN questions.

Want to see a REAL example of a previous reader survey?

Sign up for FREE access to the Blogger Resource Library.

Of those questions, FOUR were to gauge the product interest. ONE question was to brainstorm post ideas based on my categories, ONE question helped me find more blogs like mine (more on this below,) and the last question was open-ended so the readers could share anything about the topic they wanted me to know.

Which survey tool should you use?

You don’t need an expensive program to survey your readers. Sign up for a free account with Survey Monkey or use what I do… Google Forms.

Not sure how to do that? I walk you through the process of creating a blog reader survey in Google Forms in the video below:

Create your form and embed it into a page or post or send the link to your email subscribers.

How often should you survey your readers?

My habit is to conduct a reader survey once a year. However, if you find you are experiencing a season of rapid growth, you might consider doing it biannually.

That’s it!

Don’t overwhelm your readers with a survey every month. Yes, you will have questions that bug you in between surveys. Use those questions as conversation starters in your community or as a prompt for a reply in your newsletter. (Just remember to record your results.)

Should you host a giveaway to get more people to respond?

It depends. If you are sending your annual blog survey to email subscribers, it’s not a bad idea. However, if you are posting your questions on your blog or in your social media, do not use an incentive.

Hosting an open giveaway to get people to answer your survey is an invitation to people who stalk the internet looking for chances to win prizes. These sweepstakes pros will contaminate your results.

So don’t be afraid to survey a small portion of your audience. (Typically, only 1% of my audience ever responds.) Even if you receive fewer answers, you want those who respond to your survey to actually be readers.

Reader Survey Questions

When you are brainstorming a list of what to ask, keep these tips in mind for great reader survey questions:

1. Ask open-ended questions.

Yes or no questions might get the highest engagement because they are easy and require zero thought, but they will not give you the depth of information you receive when you ask questions that allow any answer.

When readers respond to your open-ended questions, they are providing you with an abundance of information including blog post ideas, search engine keywords, and copy for your product descriptions.


  • What is your greatest struggle in (XYZ topic)?
  • If you could change anything about (XYZ), what would it be?
  • What would you like to tell me about your family?
  • What is the most important thing to you about (XYZ)?

REMEMBER: “What do you like hearing from me” or “what do you want to hear from me next” is not an acceptable question, even if it is open-ended.

2. Focus on one (or two) topics.

Although you might have eight blog categories, your survey should focus on the topics where you plan to focus. <<— This goes back to your purpose.

If you have an idea for a series of blog posts, ask about their interest using a scale. This is a great opportunity to validate your blog post ideas and categories.


  • How interested are you in (XYZ topic)?
  • What is your hobby?
  • How concerned are you with (XYZ topic)?
  • How much time do you spend each week on (XYZ activity)?

If you are thinking beyond a blog post to a product (like a course or book), you can dig deeper and ask a follow up question about their confidence on the topic.

When the majority of your readers respond that they lack in confidence, you know you have a solid product idea.

Of course, people might need your product, but will they buy it? To determine how serious they are about your topic, ask questions based on an amount of time or money.


  • How qualified do you feel to (XYZ action)?
  • Are you planning to (XYZ activity) within the next three months?
  • How much money would you be willing to spend to solve (XYZ problem)?

3. Segment your audience.

Despite trying to attract a specific audience, many blogs often attract multiple audiences. If you are curious about why people are coming to your blog, you can ask about their greatest concern. The options should actually reflect your blog categories or a subsection of your topic.


  • Rank this list based on its importance to you.
  • Where is your primary focus right now?
  • Which of these represents your immediate goal?

4. Locate your blog twins.

While you have your audience talking to you, ask about their other favorite places.

This is not about finding and duplicating your competition. Instead, you are looking for patterns in the type of content produced or the topics covered across their favorite websites.

Also, if a reader’s responses are in line with the results you wanted (making them your ideal reader), you can guess that MORE of your target audience is reading the other blogs. When you know where your audience is, pursue them!

Build a relationship with those bloggers and guest post on their blogs.

Understanding blog survey results

When the readers have responded and you have a spreadsheet of information, it’s time to dig into the information.

What are you looking for?

As you review the blog survey results, look for patterns in their responses. What similarities do you find between your readers?

One of the biggest surprises I ever discovered about my readers was a sub-audience of grandparents who were raising their grandchildren. Another surprise was when a large majority of those responding all replied to an open-ended question with a similar struggle that I had not even considered as a potential topic.

How do you use the information?

With all of this data, you have created tremendous possibilities:

  • Make a running list of blog post ideas based on similar responses.
  • Highlight specific keywords to research in your favorite keyword tools.
  • Save key phrases to use as copywriting on a product landing page.
  • Look for a silent but connective topic that can link everything together in a product.
  • Locate affiliate marketing partners that can support your blog’s message and provide solutions for your reader’s problems.
  • Reach out to specific readers (if you collect their email addresses) and ask for clarification on a topic if needed.
  • Schedule a short phone call to get to know your ideal readers better.
  • Build relationships with the additional blogs listed for collaborations and guest posts.

Save time by using a blog reader survey to plan your content and products. You will learn more about your audience but will also experience greater success as you strive to grow a profitable blog.

Need a sample blog reader survey?

Sign up for FREE access to the Inspired Bloggers Resource Library and receive a sample blog reader survey as well as numerous other printables, audios, and videos.

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The Best Place for Your Email Subscriber Box

Are you actively seeking email subscribers? Did you know that where you place your email opt in box matters?

Increase your email subscribers instantly by putting an opt in box in THIS spot, the place where more visitors are converted to email subscribers than any other.

It TOTALLY does!

If you want to locate the BEST place on your website for an email subscriber box, the location that will see more conversions than any other… you might not like what I recommend.

Where to put an email subscriber box

So where should you place the opt in box? Anywhere it will fit! But if you need more specific ideas, check out this list:

Sidebar – Probably the default location for an email opt in box on most websites but even in the sidebar, the location matters. Bump that box to the TOP of the sidebar to see the biggest benefit.

After the Post – When placed at the bottom of a blog post, the email subscriber box appeals to anyone who reads the entire article. This placement works even better if the box is a contrasting color to the background of your website.

Middle of the Post – Since most blog visitors never make it to the bottom of a post, placing the blog opt in box in the middle of a post will catch more attention. However, frame the box instead of using a solid color as many readers will think a solid box marks the end of the post.

Entry Welcome – Just like a welcome mat on your front porch, the entry welcome scrolls down from the top of the page upon new visits and prompts readers to subscribe. This is one of the most obtrusive types of email opt in box but it is also very effective.

Related: 4 Mistakes Destroying Your Email Marketing Strategy

Entrance Bar – You might have seen the “Hello Bar” or another entry bar across some websites. While these are easy to overlook, they work best when the bar is a contrasting color to the website’s background color. You should also have the opt in form in the bar instead of having readers click to view a different page.

Homepage Feature – Similar to an entrance bar in style, a homepage featured email opt in box is placed to reach across the page in the middle of other featured content.

Sliding Box – Scroll triggered boxes work well for email opt ins as most can be customized to scroll from the bottom, side, or top and can be adjusted based on the amount of time a visitor is on your website or the amount of the page a visitor has viewed.

But the BEST place for an email opt in

Despite the public outrage over them, pop up boxes remain the undisputed champion for converting visitors to subscribers. However, pop up boxes can be tricky because if they interfere with user experience, Google will notice and ding your search engine optimization.

The best use of pop ups includes:

  • A clear way to close the box with a visible X.
  • Mobile-optimized sizing that does not block the entire content nor hides the X to close.
  • Only presenting upon the visitor’s exit intent or upon viewing 40% or more of the page.

Why are email subscribers important?

Why does any of this matter? Because email is the only means of communicating with your readers that you CONTROL.

Related: Why Bloggers Need an Email Marketing Strategy (and where to find email subscribers)

You can’t control the ever-changing social media algorithms. You can’t determine who will see your Facebook posts. You can’t even know that your Pinterest strategy will work.

But, you can control when an email is sent… which means…

If you want page views, you send an email.

If you want product or affiliate sales, you send an email.

Ready to know more about email marketing? You need INBOX: Email Marketing for Bloggers – the newest course by Inspired Bloggers University.

Learn More

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Why Bloggers Need an Email Marketing Strategy (and where to find email subscribers)

When you want to grow your blog’s traffic, where do you look first? Facebook? Pinterest? Video?

Yes, social media is awesome! It helps you attract an audience in a very broad way. However, the most important element to marketing your blog and gaining pageviews is… email marketing.

You need email subscribers, but do you know why? Be honest with me (and yourself). When was the last time you put your energy into creating a detailed email marketing strategy for your blog?

Since you are reading this post, I’m offering KUDOS to you because you are researching email subscribers now.

But, do you spend as much time working your email marketing strategy as you do on social media?

Maybe? Maybe not?

This makes me wonder… if email marketing is so important, why is it the most neglected tool for blog growth?

4 Reasons Why You Need an Email Marketing Strategy

Perhaps you are reading this an thinking, “But could email be THAT important? I mean… it’s just email. And I delete more than half what I receive each day without ever reading it.”

Obviously, those emails you delete are sent by brands who need to improve their strategy. You are smarter than they are and can do it better!

Here’s why you should care:

1) Email takes the relationship you have with your readers to a one-on-one level.

Immediately, email is a more intimate form of communicating with your audience than social media because you are not writing a message to the masses as you do on Facebook. Your letter is addresses to ONE reader, personalized with their name if you use a shortcode.

When you approach email marketing with relationships as your focus, you create raving lunatic fans. (That’s a GOOD thing.) These are the people who will read your blog, click your links, and share your content with their friends.

2) Email marketing doesn’t require mastery of complicated algorithms.

In the online world, social media is constantly in flux. Algorithms change on a daily basis and once you have beat the system, the algorithm changes again.

Related: Is Facebook worth the effort?

Emailing your readers takes very little understanding of how it works. There are subtle issues to make sure your email is delivered but for most people, you send an email and it is received. Done.

3) Creating an email marketing strategy is cost effective.

If you want to be seen on Facebook. you have to pay to play. If you want to grow a successful Pinterest account, you need to spend your valuable hours pinning organically.

Email is simple: Write. Send. Done.

And the cost is very affordable because the expense grows with you as your email list grows. And if you are working your email list correctly, your income is growing too. Therefore, any expenses you incur s a result of emailing your readers will pay for themselves.

Add 100+ Email Subscribers in 1 Week

Join Subscriber Surge List Building Challenge and master strategies that will grow your email list fast. It’s FREE!

4) Email is the only communication that will instantly and significantly change your pageviews and profits.

Social media has to simmer before it is seen by your audience. Most algorithms wait to see if a small segment of your audience will engage with the content before showing it to other followers.

With email, you have the control over when it is seen by choosing when you send a broadcast. This creates a powerful opportunity:

  • If you need page views, you send an email with links to click.
  • If you need profits, you send an email with a product to sell.

This only difficult part in this scenario is that your success depends greatly on the number of subscribers you have on your list.

6+ Places Where You Can Find Email Subscribers

Email subscribers are literally everywhere because almost everyone has an email address. Therefore, almost everyone is a potential subscriber.

Opt in Forms

If you want people to subscribe, you must make it possible for them to find a way to join your list.

That means you first have to join an email service provider like ConvertKit or Mailerlite and create the capture forms.

Then, install the forms in several locations on each page. Try to place forms where the eye naturally falls: inside the content, in the sidebar, as a slide in form, or within a pop up.

Related: How to Get Email Subscribers with Freebies

Social Media

Whether your audience is on Facebook, Pinterest, Instagram, LinkedIn… where ever… you can attract them to sign up as email subscribers by creating an opt in form and directing followers to the page where the form is installed.

Facebook – Encourage your followers to subscriber by asking them to join your list. Post the link/s to your list at least once a week. Pin the best post (with the most engagement) to the top of your page. Also, place a link to an opt in form in your profile (personal and page). Take advantage of every space and opportunity Facebook gives you to mention your email list.

A successful email marketing strategy has less to do with where you find subscribers and more to do with how you invite them to join your list.

Pinterest – Actively save the pages where you host email opt in forms. Place these links in a rotation using Tailwind or another schedule service so they are being saved to multiple boards regularly.

Instagram – Place the link to your email opt in form (not your homepage) in your profile and invite followers to join your list by “subscribing at the link in my profile.”

Twitter – Pin a tweet containing the link to your email opt in to the top of your Twitter profile feed. Also, add the link to the email subscriber form in your profile instead of using the link to your homepage.

Where ever you are – Regardless of the social media platform you use, direct followers to subscriber by placing a link to an email opt in within your profile and each time a link is allowed.

Email Signature

How often do you reply to readers or send messages to people who are potential readers? Add a note to subscribe in your email signature.

Each time you send an email, you will automatically send the invitation to subscribe.

Business Card (Networking)

Networking with others in real life offers a tremendous benefit but you need something to give people so that they will remember you.

Business cards might feel old fashioned but they are still a very useful tool for generating social media followers and email subscribers.

Related: 4 Mistakes Destroying Your Email Marketing Strategy

More than once, I have handed a business card to someone in line at the grocery store. On the back on my card is an invitation to join my email list. While I cannot track the success, I would assume that at least a few have visited my website. And all I need is one raving lunatic fan to find me. He or she will then help my email list grow.

Guest Posting

This could easily go on the list of most neglected ways to market your blog.

I often hear bloggers complain that guest posting doesn’t work for them. Cough… pardon me… but you might be doing it wrong.

If you are posting on someone’s blog, make sure you are talking to the right audience. If no one within that blog’s followers matches your target, you are in the wrong place.

Next, create a special offer just for that blog’s readers and link to the email opt in. This makes the readers feel special from the very beginning because you created something just for them.

Podcast or Video Interviews

If you have friends who podcast or do live video interviews, get on their shows! Just like guest posting, being a featured guest helps spread awareness. Make sure you create something special just for listeners and encourage them to subscribe.

One last surprise about email marketing

Now that we have walked through why email marketing is important and where you can find subscribers, I want you to focus on one important fact:

A successful email marketing strategy has less to do with where you find subscribers and more to do with how you invite them to join your list.

After collecting an email subscriber list with 100,000+ names, I am sharing my growth strategies with you for FREE through a 6-day email training, Subscriber Surge.

Sign up today and start learning how to grow your email list with purpose. You will see more subscribers and that results in more page views and profits. Guaranteed.
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4 Mistakes Destroying Your Email Marketing Strategy

This post contains affiliate links. Opinions are my own.

When you have worked to build an email subscriber list and finally feel you have enough readers joining you for newsletters and other promotions, the journey has only begun.

In every email marketing strategy, there are hurdles along the path. Some obstacles you can avoid. Others require a change in your methods.

Are you making these email marketing strategy mistakes?

Your email isn’t delivered.

When you are spending a chunk of your valuable time each week writing emails, you expect the emails to be delivered. But if your emails land in your subscriber’s spam folder, you have ZERO chance of making a sale or building a relationship.

But how can you be certain your email will survive and make it to your subscribers’ inboxes?

Use a great email service.

I know… you could get email hosting for FREE with THIS service or THAT service, but at what cost?

Using a reputable email service is the single best thing you can do to improve your chances of avoiding spam folders. Companies like ConvertKit, Mail Chimp, and Get Response work hard at making sure they are white listed with the big Internet Service Providers and email providers like Gmail.

I personally use ConvertKit. Have you tried it?

These services understand that if you are not happy with the deliverability of your emails that you will move your business to another company. So, when email marketing rules change, they guide you through making the adjustments necessary to keep your email out of the spam folder.

Most email hosting companies list their delivery stats to keep you informed. They also check your account frequently to make sure your emails are compliant, keeping you out of hot water.

Set expectations and be consistent.

Your chances of staying in the main inbox are high when your subscribers regularly open your email. The best way to insure that – outside of providing great content that your subscribers are looking for – is to set expectations from the beginning. Let your subscribers know early on when and how often they can expect an email from you.

You can even use “foreshadowing” in your messages. For example, toward the end of your current broadcast email, mention that they can look for another email from you next Tuesday.

RELATED: Why and How to Build Your Email Subscriber List

Once you’ve set those expectations do what you can to meet them. Yes, things happen every once in a while. In general though, do your best to keep your promise and email when your readers expect it.

Doing this regularly will improve your open rates and thus your overall deliverability.

Clean up your list regularly.

Another good habit is to clean up your list regularly.

I had a list of over 100,000 email addresses, but the vast majority were useless to me because they never opened an email. So, I worked over several months to cut my list to under 20,000.

If subscribers haven’t been opening your emails for the past six months, chances are good they are no longer interested in what you have to offer.

Check your autoresponder services knowledge desk or help files to see how you can go about deleting anyone who hasn’t opened an email from you in the past six months. If that freaks you out, or you have a seasonal business, start by deleting anyone that hasn’t looked at your emails in the past year.

Following these tips and keeping an eye on email deliverability in general will make sure your emails are being read by your subscribers and that’s the point of email marketing, isn’t it?

Your subject lines lack pizzazz.

The first thing you need to get right when it comes to email marketing is the subject line. If you can’t get your subscribers to open your emails, it really doesn’t matter how good the actual email is.

It’s easy to spend a lot of time crafting a great message and then just slap a subject line on it at the end. Spend some time writing them and see what type of headline gets you good open rates. Here are five tips to get you started.

Keep the email subject line short.

You want your readers to see the entire subject line before they click it. You also want to make it easy for people to scan through their emails. Try to get your point across in 50 characters or less.

Also, pay attention to how your subject lines look on your own devices.

Another great idea is to keep a swipe file of subject lines that grabbed your attention. Even if the emails are on a very different topic, you can adapt them for your own needs.

Avoid “spammy” words.

Stay away from using any words we all associate with spam emails. Words like “sale”, “discount”, “coupon”, “free”, “limited time offer” and even “reminder” are over used and even if they don’t trigger a spam filter and actually make it to your reader’s inbox, chances are high they’ll get ignored.

Instead, start by using the emails you’re saving in your swipe file and then go back and see what subject lines got the best open rates. Try to analyze why they worked well for your market. Not everything will work well in every niche. Find the types of subject lines that get your readers to open your emails and tweak from there.

Personalize the subject line.

While personalizing emails with someone’s first name has been overused in some markets, it still works well for many of us. Give it try and see if it works for you. Don’t overdo it, but use it when you really need them to open the email.

Depending on what data you collect when your readers sign up, you can personalize other things like their location for example. Seeing the name of your state or even city in an email subject line is sure to get your attention.

Pique their curiosity.

We are all nosy and it’s hard to ignore email subject lines that sound intriguing or only tell part of the story. Using “…” at the end of your subject line will also work.

The idea here is simple: You want them to click and open the email to find out what you’re talking about or how the story ends.

Frankly the best tip when it comes to crafting compelling subject lines is to keep a swipe file of examples that got you to open the email.

You don’t email enough (or you email too much).

Wouldn’t it be nice if there was a number or a schedule you could follow? While it would be great if there was research that suggested that mailing exactly every 5 days gets you the best results every time, there is no such thing. And there’s a very good reason for it.

Every market, every niche, every audience and every person is different. While you’ll never make everyone on your list happy, there is a lot you can do to make just about any email frequency work.

Set your email schedule.

Let’s lay the ground work first. You don’t want to have too much time in between emails, or your readers will forget you. Anything less than once a month is not a good idea. In most markets and for most business models you don’t even want to mail less than twice a month.

RELATED: Step-By-Step Guide to Get Email Subscribers with Freebies (Video)

On the other end of the spectrum, you don’t want to go any higher than one email per day on average. Yes, you may have days when you have a good reason to send multiple emails, but on a weekly or bi-weekly average, you don’t want to email more than once a day.

Start by looking at what you’re doing now. Then figure out how often you want to mail:

  • Do you grow a closer connection with your market by emailing more often?
  • Do you want to drive more traffic back to your site by emailing them links frequently?
  • Do you want to grow your income by making more frequent email offers?

Once you know where you’re at and where you want to be, you can start to make a plan for getting from point A to point B.

Transition to your new routine slowly.

What you don’t want to do is to go straight from emailing once every few months to daily emails. It’ll get your readers clicking the spam button like crazy. Instead, start with monthly emails for a couple of months, then let your readers know you have more to share with them and start mailing weekly. Then a few months later, ramp it up to daily emails.

Are you making these email marketing strategy mistakes? Or find a good reason why you’re mailing them daily. For example, while you usually publish a weekly newsletter with the occasional promotional email in between, running a 15 or 30 day challenge for your readers is a great excuse to hit their inbox daily without seeming pushy or spammy.

Adjust as needed.

Listen to your audience when you get feedback on email frequency but also realize that there will always be someone complaining. Look at data like open rates to get a better feel for what frequency is working best for you and your audience.

You don’t give them what they want.

Effective marketing boils down to this: Find an audience, figure out what they need or want and then deliver it.

Email is one of the best mediums to help you do just that. And it isn’t always about selling them on a product. In fact, that isn’t at all where you want to start.

Earn the subscriber’s trust.

First you want to build a relationship with your readers.

You want them to get to know you. You want to help them out so they start to like you and trust you. Only then will you be able to make an offer and have them pull out their wallet and buy it.

Pay attention to your website stats. Programs like Google Analytics can give you a lot of information of where you’re readers came from, what page the landed on and where they were on your site when they joined your list. That data along with demographical information will tell you a lot about your audience.

Pay attention to their replies.

As you start to email your readers, they will reply and get back in touch with you. Pay attention to what they’re saying. And don’t forget to read between the lines.

Let’s say you’re in the parenting niche and you noticed that some of your readers are asking for suggestions on having more patience. They complain about being short temperate and freaking out about little things. The real issue may be lack of sleep because the baby or toddler isn’t sleeping through the night.

Survey your email subscribers.

Or consider having your readers fill out a simple little survey. It’s quick and easy to do with Google forms. Having them contribute builds a sense of community even via email.

Dig deep and see what you can learn about your market. Sometimes what they tell you they want isn’t the real issue. On the flip side, it can be helpful to ask them for suggestions. Keep the questions open ended if you want a lot to work with.

Analyze your email analytics.

Last but not least go back and look at the past emails you’ve sent. Pay attention to open rates, click through rates and unsubscribes.

If a large percentage of readers opened the email, that’s a good indication they were interested in the topic. If they clicked link to additional content, that’s even better. If on the other hand you got a lot of unsubscribes, that might be an indication that either the topic was wrong or your language and overall message didn’t click with your audience.

Use all the data and information you get back to learn more about your target audience and connect with them on a deeper level. The more you know about your subscribers, the more effective your email marketing will be.

Keeping a tidy and effective email list is instrumental in using your email list to drive website traffic and product sales. Set a reminder to check the health of your email marketing strategy regularly.

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How to Write an Elevator Pitch

So, tell me about your blog.

If these words strike fear in your heart and cause your brain to bleed, then you need to know how to write an elevator pitch.

If you have a hard time talking about your blog, you need an elevator pitch. Learn how to write one and never be at a loss for words again.You are sitting in the waiting area of the auto place while your car is getting an oil change. The stranger next to you attempts to strike up a conversation and asks, “So, what do you do?”

You suddenly find your brain is empty and your tongue is twisted.

Or, have you ever had a (skeptical) friend ask, “What’s your blog about?” in her oh-so-condescending way only to leave you baffled for words?

Been there?

Personally, I have found myself thumbing through the thesaurus in my brain more than once, trying to enunciate what I do but failing miserably. And if I have faltered, then perhaps you have too.

You need to write an elevator pitch. A no-fail, memorized explanation of who you are and what you do.

Why you need an elevator pitch as a blogger

Many people consider an elevator pitch to be a sales tool. They shrug and think, “I’m not selling anything so why bother?”

Excuse me… do not disregard the fact that as bloggers, we are always selling something. Even if you don’t have a product, you are trying to gain new readers and therefore are selling the concept of your blog.

An elevator pitch is a synopsis of who you are and what you do. You will need to have an elevator pitch memorized to answer others clearly when networking at events or even when a relative asks, “What have you been up to lately?”

What you need to know prior to writing your elevator pitch

Prior to penning and committing your elevator pitch to memory, you will need to have two things:

  1. Your ideal audience
  2. Your unique value proposition

If you do not have a clearly defined target audience, your elevator pitch will be difficult to write. You must know the audience you are trying to attract. And be as specific as possible.

Likewise, you need to know your unique value proposition.

Perhaps you have never considered what sets you apart from the other bloggers in your niche. Now is the time.

Learn more about a Unique Value Proposition in the 8 Characteristics of Successful Bloggers Class.

Part of your elevator pitch is gently stating what makes you different from the hundreds of other people writing on your topic and how you use your uniqueness to serve your audience. How you add value to the lives of those who read your blog.

Without knowing how you are different and what value you offer, you will struggle to write an elevator pitch.

Characteristics of an elevator pitch

Writing an elevator pitch is not like writing a novel or research paper. Your goal is not to be all-inclusive. This is not the time to go into a rattling story of how you started blogging or even a synopsis of your most recent blog post.

An elevator pitch is short and can be said in 30 to 60 seconds. So, think about 2 sentences or less.

Within these 60 seconds, you do need to pack some specific information:

  • Identity – who you are (name and website’s name)
  • Target – who you are aiming to help (quick characteristics about your audience)
  • How – how you help (your primary topic or category and/or type of resources)
  • Difference – what makes you different (often included in the “how”)
  • CTA – the call to action (visit my website, share, etc.)

How to write an elevator pitch

When you sit down to write your elevator pitch, think about the flow of information and how it connects. You might find it helpful to think in a progression of Who > Where > What > How.

Take a look at my elevator pitch as an example:

I’m Tabitha Philen, the founder of Inspired Bloggers University. As a professional blogger, I make a full time income from blogging and love teaching others who need to supplement their income to do the same through online courses and live video with an emphasis on personal relationships.

Now, let’s break down the pieces…


  • Who am I? “I’m Tabitha Philen, the founder…”
  • Where? “…of Inspired Bloggers University.”
  • What? “As a professional blogger, I make a full time income from blogging and love teaching…”

Something to note about your “what” is that this is your hook. Your “what” should intrigue them and leave them with questions. But be prepared for the follow-up questions.


  • Who am I helping? “…others who need to supplement their income…”


  • How do I help? “…teaching others… to do the same…” which refers back to “…make a full time income from blogging.”
  • On what topic (if not already mentioned) or with what resources? “…through online courses and live video…”


  • What sets me apart from others? “…with an emphasis on personal relationships.”

As you can see, your “difference” can easily be included in your “how.”


Personally, I think the call to action is the trickiest part as you often cannot predict what needs to be said. For instance, if you are at a conference of colleagues in a related niche, your CTA could be more relational.

  • “Tell me about you.”
  • “I would love to connect with you on [insert social media platform where you are best.]“

If you are talking to someone within your target audience, your CTA would be an offer to assist.

  • “I would love to give you a free [insert email optin offer.]“
  • “Please consider joining my Facebook group where I can help you with [insert topic of group.]“

If you have a hard time talking about your blog, you need an elevator pitch. Learn how to write one and never be at a loss for words again.

Another example of a blog elevator pitch

Must your elevator pitch follow this same progression? No! Your elevator pitch can be as unique as you are but should include all of these elements.

Consider my elevator pitch from Meet Penny:

I’m Tabitha and I’m a mom to four kids who has overcome bankruptcy and six-figures in debt through side hustles. I blog at to help families like ours raise their kids with common sense on cents by sharing family finance tips, fun kids activities that educate, and how to live a generous lifestyle without a ton of time or money.

You can see that what makes me different falls much earlier in my elevator pitch. I was also able to integrate my tagline and the three main topics on my blog.

When to use your elevator pitch

Once you have your elevator pitch written and memorized to the point that it flows naturally, when should you say it? Which situations are prime for using your elevator pitch?

  • When friends or relatives ask you what you do.
  • At conferences when you are networking.
  • In your email signature.
  • As your live video intro.
  • Anytime someone wants to know what you do.

Your elevator pitch is a tool that can educate others, create new relationships, and open opportunities with potential sponsors.

Commit your elevator pitch to memory and use it often.

Free Worksheet: Write your elevator pitch

Need help putting your words on paper? Subscribe and receive this free worksheet that will guide you through each part of your elevator pitch.

I even included a fill-in-the-blank template if you are still uncertain.

Free elevator pitch worksheet

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Facebook Branded Content Policy and Verification for Bloggers

** Originally published April 29, 2016 ** Updated: May 23, 2017 **

The updated Facebook Branded Content Policy first impacted celebrities and brands (April 2016), but has finally trickled down to bloggers as we assumed it would.

The good news… bloggers no longer need to strive towards being a verified page.

The bad news… all sponsored or influenced content must be tagged using the “handshake” tool and using it incorrectly (or not using the handshake at all) may get you in trouble.

What does the Facebook Branded Content Policy mean for bloggers and how to use the

When the Branded Content Policy was first changed in 2016, I was stunned to learn that I had been violating rules for promoting sponsors.

Reports by The Drum state, “Previously, publishers running branded content on Facebook was completely against the rules, unless they received approval directly from the social network.”

And in case you were in doubt, the erroneous use of Facebook to promote other brands was also called out on Ad Age:

Facebook has long prohibited publishers, celebrities and influencers from taking advantage of its vast platform to post branded content on their pages, unless it was part of a paid ad campaign on Facebook.


Then, Facebook got hard-nosed about the policy and required celebrities and brands to be 1) blue verified and 2) use the “handshake” tool to tag sponsors.

Explaining the new Facebook Branded Content Policy

Let’s take the current policy (2017) line-by-line as it reads and compare it to the previous update (2016), making careful and deliberate decisions NOT to find a loophole but to understand what it says.

Read the Facebook Branded Content Policy Here. (Opens in a new tab.)

The 2016 policy opened with:

Branded content on Pages is only allowed from Verified Pages (with the blue badge) on Facebook and must adhere to the following policies.

Emphasis on the words only, verified pages, and blue badge are mine.

The 2017 updated policy reads:

Branded Content may only be posted by profiles and Pages with access to the Branded Content tool.

Again, emphasis is mine.

The change deemphasized the focus on verified (blue badge) pages and created a sweeping and inclusive environment for ALL profiles and pages who have the “handshake” tool available.

But what is “branded content”?

The next sentence of the 2016 update stated:

Branded content on Pages is defined as content originating from a Page owner that features third party products, brands, or sponsors that are different from the Page owner.

The 2017 policy says:

We define branded content as a creator or publisher’s content that features or is influenced by a business partner for an exchange of value.

What does “features” or “is influenced by” mean in terms of posting content to Facebook? Simply phrased, this includes any status update, video, photo, or live broadcast where you were asked to use a product or mention a product/page.

Are you FED UP with Facebook? Should you ditch it?

An example scenario (according to my understanding of this statement) would be if I, as the owner and content creator for, mention any other product, brand, sponsor, etc. from any source other than my blog where I have received ANY form of compensation, including but not limited to:

  • product in exchange for a review/promotion (as the product has value);
  • promotion in exchange for review/promotion (as the promotion has value); and
  • payment in exchange for review/promotion (as the payment certainly has value).

The term “exchange of value” will be interpreted differently by many – and perhaps I am drawing extreme conclusions – but the fact is, this is a very broad statement that can be used to include anything Facebook decides is value.

It’s their contract. Their jargon. Their rules.

Using the Branded Content Tool

The “branded content tool” is represented in the Facebook page composer on desktop and iOS, the Marketing API, and the Mentions app on iOS as a handshake icon. In the Ads Manager and Power Editor, the “Sponsor” field in available under the Advanced Options section.

What does the new Facebook Branded Content Policy mean for bloggers. Includes a tutorial on how to get the verified blue badge.

Tagging branded content is required for photos, videos, links, text, Instant Articles, and 360 videos at launch. Eventually, live videos will also have the branded tool functionality and will require branded content to be tagged.

Learn more about branded content tagging.

However, some content will not be allowed even WITH tagging:

The following types of branded content integrations are prohibited:

A.    Within videos:
  1. Pre, mid, or post roll ads.
  2. Content that features third party products, brands, or sponsors located at the beginning (within first three seconds) or persistently (over three seconds) throughout the video, including but not limited to the following types of branded content:
    • Title cards featuring the sponsor; or
    • Graphical overlay and watermarks.
B.    Within photos (including link preview images):
  1. Banner ads featuring third party products, brands, or sponsors.
C.    Third party products, brands, or sponsors featured within cover photos or profile pictures.

So… what IS allowed?

The following types of branded content integrations are allowed with the use of the Branded Content tool:
A.    Promotions (Please refer to section III. E. of the Pages Terms);
B.    Videos or photos featuring third party products, brands, or sponsors that differ from the Page;
C.    Endcards;
D.    Product placement;
E.    Sponsor’s logos (Aside from ad elements and from any third-party logos which are displayed within video by virtue of having been recorded during the filming of the video subject matter (e.g. in stadium signage); or
F.    Posts that clearly disclose the content is sponsored or provided by a third party.

Why would Facebook do this?

According to VentureBeat, the purpose is to supply brands with more insights about their reach.

When a branded post is published, the marketer will receive a notification, and they will be given insights into how the post is performing — this includes clicks, reach, engagement, and so on. Then Facebook will offer the marketer further tools to promote the post, which then opens up more opportunities for Facebook to earn from the initiative.

If an influencer pays to boost a post, the tagged brand will also have the ability to see those insights and will be notified if the post is shared or boosted.

Apparently, the advertising will also shift on Facebook to allow brands to align sidebar advertising with page updates in which they are tagged.

How does this impact bloggers?

If you are feeling confused and wondering how this will change your approach to Facebook, you are not alone.

Cathy Hackl (@CathyHackl), social media expert and consultant, says:

Facebook’s new branded content policy seems straightforward at first glance, but I think it still leaves bloggers with lots of questions. I foresee lots of posts getting deleted or accounts flagged because there are always gray areas.

How to get the Facebook Verified Blue Badge

Unfortunately, you cannot be verified as a “blogger” right now.

Due to a backlog of work, Facebook is only verifying pages for celebrities, public figures, sports teams, media and entertainment.

What does the new Facebook Branded Content Policy mean for bloggers. Includes a tutorial on how to get the verified blue badge.

But, if you think about it, as a blogger you could choose Author or Public Figure. [See how to declare “public figure” and use the Mentions app to be verified.]

How to change your category

You can easily change your Facebook category.

  1. Visit your Facebook page from your desktop.
  2. Scroll down to the About box.
  3. Hover over the upper right corner until the pencil icon appear. Click to Edit.
  4. Page info will appear. Hover over the right side of the category and click to Edit.
  5. Select People from the drop down menu and then the subcategory.
  6. Click to Save Changes.

How to apply for verification

Once you have selected a category that can be verified, you can request to be verified.

You will need to provide Facebook with some personal identification, such as a driver’s license, passport, or birth certificate.

But do not apply for verification immediately.

The verification process has several mysterious checkboxes to which we do not know the extent. However, some details have been shown to speed up the process and increase success:

  • Have your picture in the cover or as your page’s profile picture.
  • Include a lot of information in the biographical area of your profile.
  • Encourage personal pages and unbranded pages to tag your blog’s page.
  • Post content from your blog regularly.
  • Pay to boost a post linking to your page or product.

Questions about the Facebook Branded Content Policy

If I am not a verified (blue badge) page, must I use the handshake?

Yes. If you have access to the “handshake” tool, you must use it for tagging brands and being a verified page is no longer relevant.

What’s the benefit in verifying your business page?

Supposedly, verified pages are ranked higher in the Facebook algorithm. They also receive the benefit of new tools before other types of pages.

Also, if a brand is wanting to access these analytics, they *might* seek out pages who have verification.

Is a gray badge the same as a blue badge?

No. Gray badged pages will not qualify for using the branded content tool. [Read more about the different colored badges.]

Do you still need to disclose sponsored content if you are NOT verified?

Yes. According to the Federal Trade Commission, you must disclose when you are being paid to represent content on your blog or on your social media platforms.

Facebook asks for a phone number. Can I just use my cell phone number if I don’t have a dedicated business phone?

Since many businesses use a cell phone for their business phone, I do not think this will be a problem but cannot be 100% certain.

If you are not blue badge verified, are you not allowed to have a brand partnership?

You may create partnerships with brands. However, how you mention them on Facebook will be impacted. You may not share from a brand’s blog or website on Facebook without using the “handshake” tool. However, you can include mentions of a brand within your post and share the post to Facebook.


Can I share from other bloggers if they are not branded?

You are safe to share content from another blogger as long as the content is not branded.

Posted on 9 Comments

How Much Money Do Bloggers Make?

Do bloggers make money? If so, how much money do bloggers make?

Let’s start with the facts and see if you can duplicate the success.

Do bloggers make money? If so, how much money do bloggers make?

Recently in our Facebook community, someone was thinking of starting a blog but mentioned an overheard opinion that blogging was not a real career because blogging is dead.

Perhaps you have heard similar stories. Maybe you have been the object of the joke… “Bloggers don’t make money! Get a real job.”

Friend, I want to set the record completely straight by telling you exactly how much money bloggers make and whether or not you should consider blogging a career.

Is blogging a valid career choice?

I never planned to be a professional blogger. There was not a degree for blogging at my college, and to my knowledge, there still isn’t.

For me, I knew I wanted to write, and everyone said I would be broke. (Everyone except this one guy who thought it was an awesome idea so I married him.) After several rejected book proposals, I gave up on writing and started direct sales… only to find myself broke.

Out of desperation, I started using coupons to buy groceries and was sharing my deals on Facebook. A friend mentioned “blogging” and the rest of the story brings us to this post… and do you think I would be writing about making money as a blogger if I were NOT making money?

Let that one sink in…

>>READ: How to make money blogging<<

Is blogging dead?

The fact is blogging is not dead, but it might not be what you think it is.

Back in the glory days, moms would keep an online diary of activities and photos to keep out-of-town family up to date. These “mom bloggers” were the pioneers of what is now considered content marketing.

Blogging as a career is not posting random photos, “happy birthday” notes, and the occasional craft. Professional blogging is more entrepreneurial… where you define your audience and create content to attract readers to sell a product.

Profitable blogging requires a deliberate strategy.

How much money do bloggers make?

I know you have seen those glowing blogging income reports where bloggers are making five to six figures a month. Enticing, right? And the majority of these money-making machines are not bragging… they are trying to educate others.

Regardless, the problem is when we assume these income reports are the average… or even the norm.

Check out these humbling facts:

  • There are almost 7 million people writing blogs around the world. [SOURCE]
  • 63% of bloggers make less than $3.50 per day and 10% of those make nothing. [SOURCE]
  • About 14% of bloggers make enough money to consider it a “salary” and the average salary per year is just over $24,000. [SOURCE]
  • Only 8% of bloggers make enough money to support a family. [SOURCE]

But, where do I fit into this equation?

My average monthly income (after expenses) in 2016 was $3,000. Where I live in the southeastern United States, that’s more money than qualified professionals like teachers and police officers make each month.

And guess what… I’m happy about it!

Through blogging, I have successfully doubled (and maintained) our household budget. We eat healthy, balanced meals. My children attend private school. My husband doesn’t need to work a second job. Our budget has room to include giving to our church and community. What more could I possibly want?!

Similarities between profitable bloggers

To keep you from feeling discouraged with the reality that blogging for profit is hard, I want you to consider the small portion of bloggers who make $100,000 a month.

Immediately dismiss those who are using fake news, celebrity trends, or blog hosting to make money. Focus on the real people who are creating REAL things like Erin Chase, Kim Sorgius, and Kelly Snyder.

Who? You may or may not have heard of these women but this proves an excellent point. Most money-making bloggers are quietly hustling and creating a business… but you will never hear them talk about how much money they are making.

I am fortunate to have these ladies as friends… and frequently chat about income reports with them. I know how much money they make… and it’s more than me.

Are they so special that they are the only ones who can make that much money? No.

What do these ladies have in common that enables them to bring in significant income?

  • Posting consistently and frequently, each lady produces content for a very defined target audience.
  • These ladies invest in tools, education, and/or coaching to keep their websites (and their minds) fresh.
  • Each of their websites was developed to attract and retain the ideal reader.
  • They all have one or more products to solve problems identified within their audience.
  • Every aspect of their social media presence and blog content is curated with strategy.
  • Their monthly revenue is stabilized by multiple streams of income.

Which of these characteristics are you missing?

While these traits are generalities, the truth is the more money a blogger makes, the more unique they are in their niche. They stand out because the focus is on what makes their blog different from the other 7 million blogs.

Granted, many of the most profitable bloggers have advantages like a large advertising budget or relationships with other people in power, but they must maintain uniqueness to capture and retain readers.

How do bloggers make money?

Many new bloggers assume that the only way to make money through blogging is with passive advertising using a company such as Google Adsense. However, sidebar advertising is one of the least profitable ways to monetize a blog.

Most bloggers who are making enough money to support their families implement a specific strategy to attract and nurture an audience that will ultimately purchase products.

Do bloggers make money? If so, how much money do bloggers make?Download this graphic to keep as reminder of smart blogging strategies. Subscribe to receive the image by email.

It’s a two step process:

  1. Being as specific as possible, decide the type of audience you want to attract. Then, brainstorm a list of their problems. Create content that will attract them and entice them to subscribe with an offer specific to the topic.
  2. Send your subscribers relevant, high-quality emails. After you have built a relationship with your dedicated readers (those who subscribed), offer them a product to solve a dilemma. The product may be one you created or a product you can monetize with an affiliate link.

Here is something SUPER important to notice…

HALF of the relationship is built away from the blog through email. If you are not collecting email addresses, you need to start now.

Other ways to make money blogging

Blogging income is more consistent when multiple streams of revenue are flowing into the bank.

>>READ: 80+ Income Streams for Bloggers<<

On this website, the primary income source is courses and membership. The secondary source of revenue is through affiliate relationships.

However, on my blog at, the income streams are even more diversified: passive advertising, printables, ebooks, sponsored content, affiliate links, etc.

Bloggers with multiple sources of income have more financial stability because if one revenue resource ceases, the others continue to provide income.

Does blog niche matter?

Because I know you have thought about it, I can’t skip addressing the niche question…

“But don’t some blog niches make more money than others?”

Or maybe you wondered, “Aren’t the only bloggers making money the ones who are teaching how to blog?”

No. And no.

Remember the three ladies I mentioned? None of them teach bloggers about blogging and each makes a significant income in a niche where most think it is impossible: food (for those on a tight budget), fashion (primarily for moms), and parenting (with a focus on Christian discipleship.)

For each of these ladies, I know many more who are turning profits in the homeschool, DIY, cosmetics, and freebies niches.

Bloggers who find success understand their unique perspective within a focused market and seek to serve like-minded readers. There is no reason why you can’t make money blogging too.

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How Much Money Should I Spend on Blogging?

**This post contains affiliate links.**

Confused about how much money you should spend on blogging? Do you wonder how you can invest in your business when there is so much risk? Download the Blogging Finance Spreadsheet and balance your business budget.

Confused about how much money you should spend on blogging? Do you wonder how you can invest in your business when there is so much risk? Download the Blogging Finance Spreadsheet and balance your business budget.

My inbox is often visited by variations of the same question… and it is difficult to answer:

  • How can I afford to spend money on blogging?
  • How much money should I spend on my blog?
  • How much does blogging cost?
  • How much money can I invest in blogging… when I am not making money yet?

But as a person who has managed her business finances poorly only to have a radical transformation and start balancing money well, I have discovered a formula that will tell you exactly how much you should be spending on your blogging business.

Is blogging expensive?

When you compare the price of starting a blogging career to the cost of other start up businesses, the fee is almost insignificant.

In the beginning, all you need is a domain name (as little as $0.99) and a webhost (as little as $3.95 a month).

>>Learn more about how to start a blog.<<

However, when you realize you like blogging and want to make it a career, things can get expensive.

You eventually need:

  • Email marketing services (I use ConvertKit.)
  • Social media management (I recommend Tailwind for Pinterest and PostPlanner for Facebook and Twitter.)
  • A virtual assistant or two
  • Courses to keep learning the next step (like those available at Inspired Bloggers University)
  • Webinar services (I use WebinarJam.)
  • New technology as your computer or phone requires an upgrade
  • A larger data plan to handle live video
  • Camera/s, lighting, microphones
  • and the list grows.

>>View Tabitha’s preferred resource list for bloggers.<<

Truly, there are lots of ways to do things for free but it often takes a ton of extra time and can stagnate your growth. Trust me. READ: Frugal living almost killed my business.

Then, there is the polar opposite of not wanting to spend money on your blog. You tip the scale of spending too much.

Where is the balance?

What makes spending money (or not spending money) harder

Blogging is not a “get rich quick” career.

I didn’t make a profit until my second year of blogging… and it was a whopping $100. TOTAL. My third year of blogging was when my income started to be consistent and grow.

Are there bloggers out there who grow faster? Absolutely. But they are not the norm.

>>READ: How much money do bloggers make?<<

While it does seem the bloggers who put money into their businesses typically experience growth faster, investing financially in your business is hard because there are no guarantees.

So how can you decide whether to invest in your blog or not?

How to spend money on your blog wisely

As you consider blogging as a business, be honest with yourself. Are you able to commit the hours necessary for growing a blogging business? Can you be consistent? Will you stick with this for at least three years – come rain or come shine?

If you cannot commit to at least three years, find something else to do.

However, if you are ready to pursue blogging as a career, it’s time to invest.

Start-Up Expenses

Every business requires some up-front expenses, and yes there is risk involved. But, take it slowly.

I recommend paying for your domain and hosting. Not negotiable. These are MUSTS.

Email Responder Service

Next, because I believe that growing your email list from DAY ONE is also critical for permanent success, start an account with MailChimp or Mad Mimi. (I am not an affiliate for either company and that makes me easy to trust. Either would be a great starting place but if I had to choose one, I would say, “Go with MailChimp.”)

Confused about how much money you should spend on blogging? Do you wonder how you can invest in your business when there is so much risk? Download the Blogging Finance Spreadsheet and balance your business budget.

You want the option to send a freebie to those who subscribe. With MailChimp, you access automations for about $10 a month.

Once you have a list of 2,000 and/or have a product to sell your subscribers, switch to ConvertKit.

Continuing Education

One other thing I would recommend as you start a blogging business is to continue your education.

Blogging courses can range in expense from free to hundreds of dollars. Personally, I consider blog education a ministry and realize that my audience cannot afford the expensive classes. That is why membership through Inspired Bloggers University is only $29 a month and includes ALL of the courses you need to establish a healthy blog and grow it into a successful, money-making business.

Inspired Bloggers University courses are more thorough than any you will find anywhere else and come with a free community where you have access to other members and ME. I do not retreat from you. My goal is to help you, not to take your payment and disappear.

Everything else you might be tempted to purchase is optional.

>>Access the Inspired Bloggers University Free Members Library now.<<

The “can you afford it” equation

Now, let’s talk about numbers.

In January, a friend sent me a copy of Profit First by Mike Michalowicz. From the introduction, I was riveted. It’s like Mike knew me personally… and how I was killing my business.

I had learned how to collect money, for sure, but I had never learned how to keep it, how to control it or how to grow it.

Mike Michalowicz, Profit First

You see, I have a knack for helping others create amazing businesses from blogs. I even have a knack for making money. But I stink at keeping money in the bank.

Until I learned Mike’s secret.

As you begin to make money with your blog, divide your income into four categories: your paycheck, expenses, taxes, and profit.

Depending on the amount of money you are making, you will assign a percentage to each category. The majority of us make under $250,000 a year and should divide our income as follows:

  • Your paycheck = 50%
  • Expenses = 30%
  • Taxes = 15%
  • Profit = 5%

(If you make more than $250,000 a year, please get Profit First to see the recommended percentages for your income bracket.)

How do you keep the money separated?

Believe it or not, you are NOT supposed to transfer everything to your personal banking account. You need to set up three new accounts: checking for expenses (I use PayPal), savings for taxes, and another savings account for profit.

So, let’s say you have grown your income to $400 a month. Your income would be divided into four accounts:

  • Your paycheck into your personal bank account = $200
  • Expenses into a business checking account or PayPal = $120
  • Taxes into a savings account = $60
  • Profit into a different savings account = $20

Now, you can clearly see what you can afford because your blogging business has an expense account.

You have $120 per month to cover your business expenses, whether they be web hosting, an assistant, or continuing your education.

What should you do with the profit portion?

That is between you and your accountant.

I also recommend that you read Profit First for yourself as there is MUCH MORE wisdom about operating a profitable business as an entrepreneur. This barely scratches the surface.

Free Blogging Finance Spreadsheet

Ready to start balancing your business finances? Subscribe and download the spreadsheet I use to track my four categories and make sure each is deposited into the correct account.

I have included a video to explain how the spreadsheet works.

Posted on 8 Comments

How to Start a Blog for Beginners

This post contains affiliate links.

If you are wondering how to start a blog or perhaps feel like you missed a step when creating a blog, WELCOME! Starting a blog is not as complicated as you might think, and this post will prove it with step-by-step details and instructions.

In 2010, I started a blog to share the grocery deals I was able to purchase using coupons. My goal was aimless and my understanding of how a blog worked was nonexistent. I thought of my blog as a place to share more detailed information than I could on Facebook.

You can start a blog! This step-by-step guide makes starting a blog look easy... because it is. Build the necessary foundation and create a blog with income potential.

After two years of start, stop, and start again blogging, I realized that people all over the blogosphere were actually making money with their websites. Since we were in a financial pit, I was determined to learn more.

What is a blog?

When a friend first told me that I should start a blog, I was confused. I had never heard the term before and asked her, “What’s a blog?” It’s funny now – six years later – that I teach others to make money blogging.

A blog, formerly referred to as “weblog,” is a website where an individual or group of individuals routinely share stories, tutorials, images, videos, and other content.

While the primary content on most blogs is text, many blog authors use images, video, and audio as additions and alternatives for creating their websites.

Reasons to start a blog

Many people start blogging as an online diary without intending for their content to be seen while others create a blog in an effort to build a career. And yet, many others begin blogging as a hobby only to realize that blogging can be a very profitable business.

Due to the increasing popularity of blogging, many companies have added a content marketing strategy to their promotional efforts by creating a blog on their business websites. By producing high-quality content that solves problems, brands and bloggers can attract their ideal client or reader and grow a community of like-minded people.

How expensive is blogging?

One thing that keeps many people from starting a blog is the perceived expense. However, blogging is one of the most affordable hobbies/small businesses to begin.

To purchase a kit in a direct sales business, you will pay $19 and up with the average starter kit costing $99. [SOURCE]

In order to start blogging, you need the following:

That’s it!

Step-by-step guide to starting a blog

If you are ready to create a blog, I am happy to guide you through the process. Bookmark or pin this post to keep handy and take each step slowly. Or, download this post as a printable.

You can start a blog! This step-by-step guide makes starting a blog look easy... because it is. Build the necessary foundation and create a blog with income potential.

Identify your purpose.

While starting a blog is not difficult, beginning with a clearly defined purpose will focus your content. Ask yourself these questions:

  • Do you plan to make blogging a career?
  • Are you blogging for fun?
  • Are you attempting to create a community that will buy your product?
  • Will your blog be an extension of a ministry?

Or perhaps you could answer, “All of the above?” Blogging can meet all of these needs.

Narrow your topic.

Once your purpose is clear, you should start narrowing the subject of your blog.

Chances are, you have tons of topics about which you could write. When I started, I would write a bit about coupons, add a recipe here or there, and post “happy birthday” messages to my kids. My content was totally random.

If you are just writing as a hobby, your topic is not as important as a niche is for a profitable blog. You can write about whatever you want and whenever you want. Your consistency and content can ebb and flow with your creativity.

However, if you are determined to create a career from blogging or are trying to gather a community, you must find your blog niche as soon as possible in this process.

When I decided to treat my blog like a business, I had to stop posting casual messages to my kids on their birthdays (I save those for social media) and write with intent. My goal was to draw an audience that would eventually buy my products and the products I promoted from other sources.

Yes, there are still moments when I think, “Wow. That would make a GREAT blog post.” But, if the topic doesn’t fit my niche, I save those ideas to use as guest posts on other blogs.

>>Check out this exhaustive list of blog niches for inspiration.<<

Define your audience.

The most successful bloggers understand who their audience is and what their problems are. When you can create content that feeds your readers the solutions they need, you will create a community of raving followers.

Think about the type of person you want to attract to your blog by asking yourself several questions:

  • Where does she/he live?
  • Is she/he married? Divorced? Etc.?
  • How many children does she/he have?
  • What does she/he do for a living?
  • What does she/he dream about?
  • What is her/his biggest problem?
  • What does she/he worry about?
  • What is she/he planning to do within the next 6 months?
  • Etc.

Create an ideal reader, or avatar, that is so clearly defined you have no doubts about why that person is reading your website.

Shop for domain names.

With your topic in mind, you can brainstorm a list of potential domains for your blog.

Your blog’s domain name is the address at which people will locate you.

You can search and purchase a domain for as little as $0.99 for the first year at GoDaddy and NameCheap or get it for free when you start an account with Siteground. (More on that below.)

Before purchasing your domain name, consider these tips:

  • Shorter domains are better because they are easier to say and remember.
  • Avoid cutesy misspelled words in your domain as it makes finding you more difficult.
  • Do not use numbers since people will not know whether to spell the number or use the numeric form when typing your domain name.
  • Avoid hyphens because they are also difficult to say and remember.
  • Choose a domain ending with .com over any other domain extension as it is the most popular and fits most situations.
  • Pick words that clearly represent your topic to avoid confusing readers.

If someone is already using the domain you love, you can attempt to contact them and offer to buy the domain name from them. However, expect to pay a lot of money for the domain name, especially if it is currently in use.

Find a blog host.

Next, you need a host for your blog.

If a domain is your blog’s address, then the web host is the plot of land where your blog resides. Essentially, you are renting a spot on the internet, and the host is your landlord.

How to choose webhosting can be confusing since so many popular bloggers promote companies because of the large commission they receive and not due to the quality service that a host offers.

Hobby bloggers can browse free hosting options but investigate the differences between Blogger and WordPress carefully. Some free hosting companies may limit your flexibility and options. However, bloggers intending to profit should invest in a paid hosting solution.

The Inspired Bloggers University is hosted on Rainmaker because it is a highly comprehensive service that includes many of the options I need, but it is overkill for new bloggers.

While no host is always perfect, one of the most reputable companies right now is Siteground.

A fabulous step-by-step tutorial on how to start a blog.

Due to the number of bloggers in the Inspired Bloggers Network who are thrilled with the service they receive, I feel very comfortable recommending Siteground to those who are starting a blog.

You can start a blog! This step-by-step guide makes starting a blog look easy... because it is. Build the necessary foundation and create a blog with income potential.

Choose a host that has raving reviews from people who are not trying to gain clicks through their affiliate links.

>>Read more about choosing a web host for your blog.<<

Install WordPress.

A blog needs a content management system that helps translate the geek-speak into common language. The majority of successful bloggers use WordPress, a free program available through most major hosting companies.

Don’t be intimidated by this step. Within the dashboard of your hosting company, you should have the option to “1-Click Install” WordPress. One click. That’s all. Then, a series of simple prompts – like entering your title – that helps you get your website running.

You can start a blog! This step-by-step guide makes starting a blog look easy... because it is. Build the necessary foundation and create a blog with income potential.

With Siteground, you can select a domain and start installing WordPress from the same screen.

Let me pause for just a second to clear up one confusing topic that often arises when you mention “Wordpress.”

WordPress offers a free hosting option but as I mentioned, a free host may limit your ability to grow, monetize, and make enhancements to your website. Blogs hosted by WordPress are referred to as “ blogs.”

I recommend using WordPress as the content management software of your “self-hosted” blog. Yes, you are renting space with a web host but you are still considered to be “self-hosted” when you use software.

Choose a blog theme.

A blog theme defines the features that allow you to personalize how your blog looks.

When you install WordPress, the program will use the latest free theme designed by WordPress as default.

The default WordPress theme is a great place to start. When you are ready for more features, you can add a premium theme.

Why not use the other free themes in WordPress or found on the internet?

The primary reason to not use a free theme for WordPress is security. Not all free themes are updated as often as they should be to keep your website secure. Some free themes may also include malware or hidden scripts that allow your website security to be compromised.

Free themes (not created by WordPress) may also impact your SEO (search engine optimization), website speed, navigation, and ability to receive customer support.

>>Read more about why you should avoid free WordPress themes.<<

When you are ready to invest in a new theme, the Genesis Framework by Studio Press offers a secure alternative with an abundance of premium features as well as outstanding customer support.

You can start a blog! This step-by-step guide makes starting a blog look easy... because it is. Build the necessary foundation and create a blog with income potential.

The Genesis Framework gives your website a reliable structure and responsive design. Then, you add a “child theme” to give it the colors and style.

Studiopress has a variety of child themes available that you can purchase as a bundle with the Genesis Framework. If you prefer a child theme with a more feminine appeal, Restored 316 Designs offers child themes compatible with Genesis.

Install an email subscriber widget.

One of the most important aspects of starting a blog (and most neglected) is collecting email subscribers. Many bloggers think they should wait for a certain milestone before gathering subscribers. In reality, you should begin building your email list immediately.

Your email list is the primary tool you will use when communicating with your readers. Email is more reliable than social media and gives you the benefit of more personalized contact with your followers.

You can begin building your email list for free using Mailchimp or Mad Mimi although you will need to upgrade to send autoresponders (also referred to as automations or drip campaigns).

how to start a blog and email

I personally use ConvertKit, which might be a little more expensive but is totally worth the price for the added features. I can protect my email subscribers from too much or useless information by tagging them based on their preferences. This keeps my email open rate higher than sending the same email to all of my subscribers.

Why are autoresponders important?

Autoresponders are necessary when sending content to email subscribers as they sign up. Readers are more willing to surrender their email addresses when you are offering them an incentive or content upgrade. However, they do not like to wait. Autoresponders work without someone triggering an email to send.

One word of caution… When getting email subscribers with freebies, be thoughtful about your offer. The temptation is to collect as many email subscribers as possible, but you must remember your ideal reader and create something that will be helpful to their unique needs. The quality of your email subscribers is much more important than the quantity.

Sign up for social media accounts.

Social media is a necessary component of a profitable blog as many advertisers use the number of followers across various social media platforms as an indicator of a blog’s total reach.

Typically, bloggers create accounts on Facebook, Twitter, Pinterest, and Instagram. Google+ is also popular especially if you want to use SEO or Google+ Collections to increase the number of visitors to your blog.

As you build your social media, stay focused on your ideal reader and share quality content that solves their problems.

Be aware that social media can be a tremendous time-suck. You can streamline your social media with tools like Hootsuite and Tailwind.

>>Browse more resources for maintaining your social media.<<

Write 10 to 20 high-quality posts.

Once your blog is structurally sound, visually appealing, and has promotional outlets established, you are ready to write your content.

Consider your ideal reader and their most pressing concerns. From what you know about your reader avatar, brainstorm a list of potential topics.

Your blog content should start with three categories. Once you have enough content to create a strong base, you can expand your topics. However, a blog should consist of no more than eight categories. Total.

Each of your posts should provide the best quality content possible. Also, include at least one vertical image because beautiful pictures are essential for using Pinterest, the quickest way to generate blog traffic.

Begin promoting your blog.

After you have ten to twenty posts written and published, start promoting your blog.

You can boost your blog traffic by using social media, regular email to subscribers, networking with other bloggers, etc.

With consistent effort, you will see traffic increase to your blog. When you reach 10,000 pageviews a month, you are ready to make money blogging.

More resources for creating a blog

Get started with your own blog

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Creating and Managing Your To Do List

Feeling overwhelmed by so many tasks and not sure where to start? Overcome this paralysis with an organized system for creating and managing your to-do list.

Hey there, Blogger! Are you feeling overwhelmed by so many tasks and not sure where to start? Overcome this paralysis with an organized system for creating and managing your to-do list.

At the beginning of the year, I was feeling buried under a running list of items needing my attention. The list seemed to grow with more tasks daily but nothing was getting accomplished. Nothing was ever marked off the list.

The overwhelming feeling stifled my creativity, and my days were spent binging on episodes of “Fixer Upper.” A blogging friend would tease me by saying, “Chip and Jojo are not going to make you a millionaire.”

But when I would sit down behind the computer, my brain would freeze.

How is it possible to have so much to do and yet not know where to start?

I was missing deadlines and making a ton of excuses.

At a mastermind weekend, I was introduced to a time management concept that changed how I approach my to-do list each day.

SCRUM for Bloggers

SCRUM is a concept designed to help teams work more efficiently on large and multi-faceted projects.

Right about now you are tempted to bounce from this post because you are thinking:

Wait… I don’t have a team. It’s just me and this tremendously long to-do list.

I understand. But watch the video and then check the video notes for how I make SCRUM work for me.

SCRUM 101 Video Notes

1 – Make your work visible

Create a list of everything that needs to happen and place the tasks in order by priority. Make your list as detailed as possible.

2 – Choose your weekly tasks

Think of your week as a “sprint.” During your sprint, how much of your list can you accomplish?

3 – Break the list down again

From your weekly sprint, pull out any larger projects and create another list of everything needing to be done for those individual projects. Rank them according to priority or date due.

Scrum: The Art of Doing Twice the Work in Half the Time

4 – Create your daily to-do list

Based on the list of items you decide to tackle for the week, create a to-do list for each day. Keep the highest priority items early in your week.

5 – Review your daily to-do list at the beginning of each work day

Spend 15 minutes reviewing your list of items and plan how you will create blocks of time during your day. For instance, if you only have five hours to work, create deadlines within those hours to have each task completed.

6 – Keep notes

As you work through the SCRUM process, make notes of what is working and what is not so you can be more efficient during future sprints.

Read how Amy Porterfield uses SCRUM to organize her launch team.

Tools for To-Do List Management

You need more than a gazillion post-it notes to keep this task management system organized. These tools will help you make and track your to-do list.

Google Keep

Price: FREE

Available for Android, iOS, Chrome and web version, Google Keep allows you to create a to-do list, add reminders, and much more. With Google Keep, you can insert photos, speak voice memos, add labels, create a checklist, and share with a team.

The best part… the notes you save can be easily searched, creating a database of all your thoughts and ideas.


Price: Free but some features require an upgrade

Although recently having problems, Wunderlist was recommended to me by several bloggers. Available for free on iOS devices, Mac, Android, Windows, Kindle Fire and the Web, Wunderlist allows you to create a to-do list, set reminders, set due dates, share with a team, and receive notifications. You can organize your tasks using folders and hashtags.

The best part… you can forward emails to your Wunderlist account.


Price: Free but some features require an upgrade

Todoist is available for iOS devices, Mac, Android, Windows, every major web browser, and email. Build a to-do list with multiple levels using sub-tasks and sub-projects and share your lists with others.

The best part… Todoist has the capability of setting recurring tasks and for creating a color-coded priorities system.


Price: Free but some features require an upgrade

Especially useful for teams, Asana has a very simple system for tracking what needs to be done “today” versus what is coming soon.

The best part… Asana integrates with multiple apps including Dropbox, Google Drive, Slack, MailChimp, and Google Calendar.


Price: Free although security and administrative features require an upgrade

Trello is unique from the other task management systems as items are organized in “boards” and “lists.”

Since Trello is my preference, I must admit that it can be overwhelming when you are new to the platform. However, once you adapt to the organizational style, Trello will quickly become your favorite place for planning, goal setting, and managing your tasks.

The best part… You can drag and drop your tasks from list to list as well as click to move them to another board.

Using Trello to Manage Your Goals & To-Do List
Subscribe and receive a sneak peek behind the scenes of my personal Trello account. View a tutorial video where I walk you through how I use Trello to track my goals and create a manageable to-do list.


More help for overcoming the overwhelm