Once upon a time there was a girl called Emma (that’s me) who started a blog in the hopes that she could get all of the overthinking out of her head and free up space in her brain to be a normal person. Ok, technically it was so she could brag about travelling, but the overthinking thing came as a bonus. She soon discovered that other people were doing this too, except they were making money out of it and some eventually quit their full time jobs. This appealed to Emma who’s ideal lifestyle was to be a stay at home puppy mum and do whatever she wanted whenever she wanted. Emma started researching all of the different aspects of blogging and soon found out that it’s not an instant solution to all life’s problems.
Where to start as a newbie blogger
Ok, enough with story time. Basically what I’m trying to say is that turns out there is more to blogging than just starting up a page and away you go. Well, there’s more to it if you eventually want to make money from your blog. Here is some information that I’ve learnt so far in my beginner blogging journey.
WordPress.com or WordPress.org
Yup, there is actually a difference. The way I look at it is that WordPress.com is it’s own stand alone unit. Same with a lot of the other free blogging sites. It gives you some freedom to make changes to your theme and that kind of stuff, but creativity wise you are limited.
WordPress.org is what sits over your self-hosted platform. Basically you buy a self-hosted platform (which I like to think of as the human insides, the organs, and the stuff that makes the body work) and then you need a program to sit on top of it to make it your own (like what clothes you wear, or what makeup you put on). Wordpress.org has a lot more flexibility, however a lot of it is about widgets and adding different codes to make it do what you want it to do. It means you can add codes that put ad’s on your blog, or ‘contact me’ pages, or your twitter feed, or more personalised blog themes etc.
I’ve used both and I like each of them for individual reasons. Wordpress.com is much easier. You get to focus on the writing and less on the codes and backend stuff. Your posts also get uploaded directly to it’s own reader feed so other users can read blogs and follow you. Wordpress.org is much more complicated, but I like that I have the flexibility to learn more about web design and I can customise my site a bit more.
Like I was mentioning, you need to buy the bones to your website in the form of self-hosting if you want to use wordpress.org. I’ve tried a few different ones over my time and I’ve currently settled on BlueHost. It’s a flat monthly rate, but you pay it upfront. If you cancel at any time they give you back the difference. The longer you sign up for the cheaper it will be. I’ll be completely honest, I don’t know a great deal about self-hosting. All I know is that I signed up for BluHost, it was pretty self explanatory, and I haven’t had any problems with it. Here’s a link if you want to check them out: BlueHost
Adding your site to Google and Yahoo
I won’t even pretend to understand this concept properly. Basically when you’re self hosted it’s a good idea to get your site listed on Google, Yahoo and other search engines. The benefit of being on wordpress.com is that all of this is taken care of already, but if you’re self hosted then you have to do it yourself.
The way I learnt about this was through You Tube videos and blog posts by people who knew what they were talking about. I’d definitely recommend looking it up.
So you’ve got your website up and running- whoop whoop!! Now you’ve got to figure out what the hell to do with it. Here are a couple of things I’ve found helpful/popular with other bloggers.
YOAST for SEO.
SEO: Search Engine Optimisation. Basically it’s key words that will make your website pop up on search engines. If you get the Yoast Plug in it will teach you how to optimise your blog a lot better. It uses a traffic light method so you fill in some boxes, it will tell you how good your search terms are (green is good, orange is ok, and red is not so good) but it will also give you tips on how you can improve.
Your going to need some kind of virus protection and something that blocks stupid virusy type websites from visiting your blog. You’ll sign in one day and see 10 visits to your blog and then realise that they’re all just spam. Breaks a newbie bloggers heart. I use Akismet. It’s free and according to the stats it saves me from quite a few spam attacks. There are still a couple of sites that get past it, but I just go in and block them separately.
www.canva.com is a free graphic design website. It is AMAZING!! Just promise me you’ll check it out!! The hardest thing I find about being a blogger is competing with others that have ridiculous photography skills. I’m not gifted in that area. Canva has helped me make images that aren’t so repulsive. They have lots of free options, but they also have graphics that you can buy as well. It truly is a dream come true for me.
Where’s the $$ at?
Right, so you’re good to go. You’re ready to do this thing. You need to set yourself up to make the dollars, the big bucks (or the not so big bucks as the case may be) You want to be prepared to make the $$ just in case someone stops by your lovely place on the internet and eventually enables you to buy a house, or even just a coffee.. you’re not fussy. You’re not experienced enough to be one of those cool people that #ad all of their Instagram posts yet, so you’ve got to find another way to associate yourself with a brand.
You can tell Google where to put it’s ads on your site. When people click on them you earn some money. A slow earner, but it still has potential non the less. Google will decide what ads will appear based on your readers history.
My favourite!! I look at this as the Beginner Bloggers Sponsored Post. One day I sat down and had a think about all the brands I like or use frequently. I looked up their names in Google and searched to see if they had an affiliate program to sign up for. For example, I’m totally into reading at the moment and have found that Book Depository is cheaper a lot of the time than the books I can buy in the stores. When I write a book review, I put links and banners in my posts so that if someone clicks on it and ends up purchasing something then I get a percentage in the form of commission. Likewise, I’ve actually done the same in this post with BlueHost. If you click on the link and end up signing up then I will get a commission at no extra cost to my readers.
What I love about affiliate links is that it’s the non confrontational way to make money. Like I said, the way I use them is that I go searching for the programs myself. I use them for things that I already want to talk about.
So there you have it. My thoughts and learnings on being a beginner blogger. I actually think I could go on and on about blogging for a few hours at least so I might write a few more posts. I really could have used a pep-talk post when I was starting out so I might write one of those. Hopefully that will give someone else the boost they need.
Is there anything that you wish you had realised at the start of blogging? Any learnings to share? I’d love to hear them 🙂