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.
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?
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:
Your ideal audience
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.
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.]“
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 MeetPenny.com 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.
Success! Now check your email to confirm your subscription.
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.
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?
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.
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It’s a two step process:
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.
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.
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 MeetPenny.com, 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.
Get started with your own blog
So stop waiting around and start your blog. Get access to Scratch: How to Blog from Day One for just $10! Save $29!
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.
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:
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.
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.
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?
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.
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.
Choose a host that has raving reviews from people who are not trying to gain clicks through their affiliate links.
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.
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 “WordPress.com 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 WordPress.org 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.
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.
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).
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.
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.
Your webhost will dramatically impact your blog’s ability to maintain traffic demand, remain search engine optimized, and provide a quality user experience. But when you are shopping for a blog host company, the jargon can be confusing.
Let’s discuss the most important features of webhosting and how you can discern the best blog host for your needs.
All quality webhosting companies offer 1-Click WordPress Installs. However, not all companies will transfer your website from one blogging platform to another for free.
So, if you are in the market for a change, consider how much the company will charge your to move your website or the cost to have a professional to transfer your blog.
Money Saving Tip: High-quality blog hosting companies like Siteground offer a one-time transfer as a complimentary service. Having your website migrated for FREE is a huge stress-reliever.
Your blog host regulates the accessibility of your website including the amount of traffic your blog can take at any given time as well as the amount of resources it can provide to a number of people simultaneously.
Two extremely important factors in choosing webhosting are website space and bandwidth.
Some hosting companies may refer to website space as disk space or storage space as this is the memory of your blog.
Your need for website space depends on the number of posts and pages as well as the size and types of files: text files, images, scripts, databases, and emails.
A younger blog will naturally have less need for webspace as there are not as many images and posts to store in the memory. Therefore, almost any webhost can accommodate a new blog.
Money Saving Tip: Save large files (like PDFs and videos) on a 3rd party platform like Amazon S3 instead of in your media library to avoid needing additional website space on your hosting plan.
The amount of data transferred during each connection is your blog’s bandwidth.
Usually counted in bits per second(bps) or bytes per second, bandwidth can be impacted by high traffic volume as well as large file sizes. If too many resources are being pulled from your blog’s memory by readers at the same time, your blog bandwidth will become full and the website load time will slow or stop.
Money Saving Tip: If you plan to host a linky party or affiliate program where other bloggers will be sharing your images, use a 3rd party cloud for images. Every time an image from your website is loaded on another blog, it pulls resources from your webhost and can force you to upgrade your service.
If your website peaks around your hosting limitations, you may notice connection errors that are hazardous to your SEO and user experience. Examples include “connection timed out” or 504 error code.
Many hosting companies use words like “unlimited” and “unmetered” to draw you attention. Understand that “unmetered” does not mean “without limitations.” If an offer seems to good to be true, be sure to read the terms for hidden messages like:
For plans or packages featuring unlimited websites, domains, or email accounts, we do not enforce any official limitations. Customers are able to utilize as many of these features as they wish. That said, these are of course not infinite resources and there are inherent maximums associated with the technology powering them.
That disclosure is code for “We can shut down your blog without notice if something seems weird to us or you receive a high volume of traffic.”
Shared Hosting Problems
Another issue that can hamper your blog growth occurs when your blog is on a shared platform with other large blogs or spammy websites.
Shared hosting means that several websites are grouped together on one platform within the hosting company’s resources.
Shared hosting is an excellent option for small blogs. The problem occurs when other blogs on your shared hosting platform begin to peak beyond their allowed limitations. Memory and bandwidth may be redistributed within the platform and slow your website.
Rarely, a shared hosting platform may include a website marked as spammy. In some situations, all websites on the platform will suffer as search engines react and block the content from the server.
Money Saving Tip: If your blog host is pressuring you to upgrade your service, ask to be moved to a different shared hosting block first to determine if it is another website on your shared host causing your issues. Also, seek a second opinion. Some hosting companies will review your blog’s memory usage and make recommendations to help you avoid unnecessary upgrades.
When to change webhosting companies
If your blog is experiencing repeated downtime, connectivity errors, and/or slow page speed, you might consider changing your plan or hosting company.
If you are thinking you need to move to another host, here are the most popular companies (although this is list should not be considered a recommendation):
SiteGround starts at $3.95 a month and offers a free domain.
Liquid Web (one of those most trusted hosts) starts at $14.95 per month.
Please be aware that no one stays with the same blog host forever. Likewise, every hosting company eventually has problems. However, many blogging experts push webhosting companies as “the best” because of the huge affiliate payout involved.
For instance, Blue Host offers between $75 and $150 for each account created. Therefore, when looking for reviews on webhosting, make note of the articles that include affiliate links. Try to discern whether or not a company is just recommended based on payout.
One way you can check for accurate reviews is to search the name of the webhost and the word “downtime.” Searching the word “review” often pulls up planted efforts to drive affiliate conversions. The word “downtime” seems to reveal a more authentic detail of user experience.
You can also check Twitter for honest reviews. You can spot the sincere responses because they are not pushing an affiliate link or blog post URL.
@bluehost unwilling to help with installation of wordpress. I pay $300 a year for my hosting with them!
Also be aware that many blog hosting companies are owned by the same parent company. BlueHost, Host Gator, and A Small Orange are all related so you can expect the policies and service to be similar.
Money Saving Tip: Sign up for your webhosting company’s affiliate or referral platform and link to them from your footer. Use your affiliate link when talking about your awesome host and schedule tweets to promote your link. Take your affiliate income and invest it back into your hosting.
Why not free blog hosting?
If you are thinking about blogging and not sure you will like blogging as a career, I think dabbling with a free host is fine. However, once you decide to blog for profit, you should upgrade to a paid, professional hosting platform.
Unfortunately, free hosting options do not offer the options of paid hosting companies.
With free blog hosting, you often have problems with:
limited website design and theme options;
rules against your freedom to monetize; and,
inability to add useful plugins and extend your website’s abilities.
Some bloggers have even discovered their “free” blogs were deleted suddenly and without notice because they broke an unknown rule.
Another negative… free hosting companies are often dinged by search engine robots because so many spammers use free hosting platforms. The exception to this rule seems to be Blogger, who is owned by Google and therefore can still appear in Google search results. Even so, it can take longer for a website on a free webhosting platform to be recognized by search engines as a reputable website.
Just to be clear… the vast majority of all bloggers change hosting companies from time to time and every webhosting company will have routine problems. But, if you find your blog is down more than once a year or your blog is loading slowly (or not at all), it is time to choose a new webhost.
The photographs on your blog used to be just a pretty stop on the way to your point. Now, your pictures serve a greater purpose. If you are using Pinterest to market your blog – and if not, are you crazy? – you know the importance of taking better pictures because good pictures get pinned but beautiful photos get repinned over and over again.
If you want to improve your photography, perhaps one of these books will help you take better pictures for your blog.
If you are approaching your blog as a business or are hoping that one day it will become a business, you need to organize your ideas. The best way to organize those thoughts and make sure they end up in a blog post is with an editorial calendar.
Simply put, an editorial calendar is a listing of the days when you plan to publish posts on your blog. For each day, you choose a topic and to work smarter and not harder, you write those ideas down several weeks in advance. You can use a desk pad calendar, post it notes, blog planner, or a WordPress plugin.
Know when you are posting
Before your can begin planning your post ideas, you first need to decide when you are going to post.
Frequently I am asked how often someone should post if they are pursuing blogging for the purpose of making money. Obviously, the more content you have on your blog, the more traffic you will generate and traffic equals money. So, in the beginning, I would recommend “as often as possible” but three days a week is a great goal. However, if writing three posts each week intimidates you, do less, but whatever you choose to do, do it consistently.
Why post consistently? Two reasons:
You look like a professional. If you were working outside of the home, you would be required to keep consistent hours. You could not take several weeks off and then work for three days straight and then take a month off, only to come back and toss two projects together. No, your boss would require consistent, quality work and your personal standard for excellence as a professional blogger should be the same.
Your readers know when to expect your next post. The fastest way to kill your audience is to disappear for long stretches of time. To be a successful blogger, one of your goals should be to grow a tribe of people who hang on your every word. These readers are your foundation and must be treated with respect. They deserve consistency.
Rock your blog’s SEO with trends
For most of you reading this, SEO is as mythical as the Lock Ness Monster, but hang with me. I promise that you will be able to understand.
When do you search for Christmas gift ideas? When are you most likely to be searching for barbecue recipes? At what point int he year do you browse the internet for school lunchbox inspiration? If you are looking for particular topics as certain points during the year, don’t you think someone else is looking for those items too? And if everyone is searching for the same thing during the same week or month, wouldn’t it be nice if some of those people ended up on your website?
So, when you are planning your editorial calendar, consider the trends for each month. Create a graphic that communicates that theme and choose your title based on the words you think people will use in search engines. Post the hot topics while they are hot and you will get a traffic boost from Pinterest and possibly Google.
Build a solid foundation with evergreen content
For the first two years of my blogging career, I would just write randomly. I would write “Happy Birthday” posts to my kids (which would not have been bad if I had not been a deal blogger) and rant about a local restaurant… whatever. When I assumed a more professional approach, I had to write within my niche and create evergreen content.
An evergreen tree never loses its color. Likewise, evergreen content remains relevant year after year and you can promote that post 5 years later and it will still resonate with your readers. These are the blog posts into which you can breathe fresh life by creating a new image and promoting the post through social media during seasonal trends.
Once you have established when you will post, can locate the trends for each season, and plan to write evergreen content, your editorial calendar will become a organized tool for blogging success.
When you are thinking about blogging for business, especially if you have never blogged before, the temptation is jump right into a blog and start writing without any real direction. This is perfectly acceptable for someone who blogs as a hobby. However, if your intention is to create a career and build a blog that will make a significant income, you need a plan. You need to pick your niche.
Picking your blog niche
If you are wondering about the types of blog niches available, they are as diverse as the topical index of books in the Library of Congress. Home improvement, crafts, recipes, parenting, history, fashion, education, fiction, technical… you name it.
When choosing your blog’s niche, first think about the ONE topic that you could write about forever… about which you would never run out of something to say. For me, I knew that I could talk about our frugal, homeschool lifestyle and never lack a post idea, and on most days, I have more content in my brain than I could ever fit into the editorial calendar for my blog at MeetPenny.com. This is my niche.
Selecting supporting categories and tags
Next, think about your post topics. What are the subtopics that will support your niche?
When I launched my blog, I knew that I wanted to write about saving money, family issues, and educational resources. All of these issues are important for a frugal living, homeschool family, and I used those ideas to create my blog’s navigation menu.
Under my categories, I have more subtopics I use as tags to help further organize my categories. As an example, within my frugal living category, I have tags for coupons, income boosting ideas, and money saving tips.
Relating every post to your niche
Now that you know your main topic and the supporting subtopics, create a “family tree” for your blog so you can picture how every topic relates.
Your main theme (niche) creates the parents for your tree. Next, list the five to eight subtopics (categories) as the children and four to five subtopics for the categories (tags) as the grandchildren.
Keeping it real… A mistake I made early in my blogging career was to stop the flow of content related to my homeschool, frugal living blog to post about “how to blog.” In my mind, I was helping other bloggers learn, but in reality, I was confusing my readers with no desire to blog. These posts would have been better suited as guest posts on blogs within the “how to blog” niche.
By having the “family tree” visual aid, you can weigh your content ideas and see how they fit your niche, tossing ideas that do not fit. Avoid the mistake I made. If you have a parenting blog and suddenly want to write a post about politics, dismiss it. If an idea for a fashion post pops in your brain and you are a recipe blogger, submit it as a guest post to a blog where it fits.
Keep your blog’s topics within your niche and you will find success.
Tired of the hamster wheel?
There is a SMARTer way to write and promote your blog content.