Several years ago I discovered something AMAZING → There are real people making a full time income from home by blogging! I spent time researching the best blogging resources then decided to take a leap of faith and give blogging a try (read more about my blogging path).
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Treat Your Blog Like a Business
The most important thing I've learned in my years of blogging? You have to think of your blog as a small business if you want to make an income. As the business owner you have to make smart decision about the blog resources you choose to your time and money using.
Start Up Costs
Blog start up costs are tiny when compared to the amount you could spend going back to school (my master’s degree cost around $25,000), opening a brick and mortar business (the average cost is $30,000), or even starting a home based MLM business (average startup cost are $100-600).
Don't spend a fortune to start your blog! Invest slowly in great resources and reinvest profits.
- When I started Bren Did I made a small initial investment from our savings to get my blog started. (I spent $300-500 a year to get my blog set-up, get a better camera and accessories, and purchase classes/books to learn more about blogging.)
My Favorite Blogging Resources
These are the blogging resources and tools I personally used to build my blog to a full time job with a full time income. I recommend them highly to other bloggers!
BlueHost is the web host I used to start Bren Did. (A web host is like a big file cabinet you rent to hold your blog’s information.) I recommend the Starter Plan for bloggers who are just starting out because it is cheap and has both phone and online customer support. (BlueHost also includes a free domain name with new accounts, you gotta love that deal!)
Bloggers use a content management system or CMS to create and manage thier blog. (A CMS is like a printing press that publishes your blog onto the internet.) There are a few CMS options (WordPress, Blogger, Tumblr) but WordPress is the most popular way to go. It’s the software I picked for BrenDid.com because it's easy to use and can be used to earn money. You can install the FREE WordPress software directly onto your BlueHost account, so you don't have to purchase or download anything.
Make sure to write down your Admin URL, Username, and Password. You’ll need them to log onto your blog.
To stand out from the competition you should customize the appearance of your blog with a theme. You can choose a free theme from the WordPress library or purchase a premium theme to get a more unique appearance that is used by less bloggers. My favorite premium themes include:
- Genesis Framework with a Studio Press Child Theme – Genesis is like a cell phone and the child theme is like cell phone case; your phone always works the same way but it looks different when you change the case. I currently use the Genesis framework with the Foodie Pro child theme. I also love the look of the Brunch Pro and Cook’d child themes.
- Pretty Darn Cute Designs – PDCD make beautiful feminine themes that also work with the Genesis Framework . I have used the Pretty Chic theme and love the PDCD tutorials (you can even have them set up your blog for $135.00!).
- Elegant Themes – Elegant Themes gives users access to 88 themes for one annual fee. When I first started blogging I used the Magnificent Theme and thought the support platform was great.
A logo can help readers quickly identify your brand across different social media platforms. When you start blogging purchase an inexpensive logo to save time and money, you'll want to devote more time and money to it later. My favorite sources for affordable logos include:
- Etsy – Etsy is known for handmade craft, it's also great place to find custom or semi-custom blog logos for affordable prices.
- Creative Market – Creative Market is an online graphic design marketplace where designers sell low cost blog logos and logo collections.
Beautiful images will help your blog attract more readers. However, you cannot simply search for an image online, copy it, and use it on your blog. Images are protected by copyright laws and you can incur financial penalties or be sued for using them without permission. You can get free images for your blog on a free stock photography site:
- Stock Photos are professional photographs that are sold (or distributed) specifically for use in commercial projects. My favorite sources for free stock photography are Pixabay and Morguefile .
- Custom Photos are photos that you take yourself or hire another photographer to take. Custom photos are a requirement for blog niches where beautiful images are the norm (this includes topics such as DIY and crafts, home renovations and decorating, make-up and fashion, and even food and recipes).
If you blog in a niche with strong visuals (craft, food, design, DIY) you MUST to work on your photography skills until you can produce gorgeous images that draw in readers.
My photos were just plain horrible when I started blogging so I invested in some photography tools and took time to work on my skills. I waited almost a year before making these improvements so I had to go back and recreate an entire year’s worth of images. If I could start over again I would focus on beautiful photography from day one.
These 3 tools made a huge difference in my photography skills:
- Tasty Food Photography – This e-book walks you through aperture, shutter speed, ISO, lighting, food styling, props, and all the other photography tips you need to produce great blog photos. The easy tips and tutorials changed my photos overnight. I recommend Tasty Food Photography to ALL bloggers in the food, craft, homemaking, and lifestyle niche. (It’s my #1 blog photography tip!)
- A DSLR Camera and Lenses– The Canon EOS Rebel is great camera for new DSLR users. It is easy to use and takes great photos and video. I use it with two lenses for my photos, a Canon EF-S 18-55mm IS STM and a Canon EF 50mm f/1.8 STM Lens.
- Photo Editing Software – You can use free photo editing programs online (PicMonkey ) or use Adobe Lightroom and Adobe Photoshop to edit photos and design social media images. Purchasing the program is expensive, but you can rent them monthly for an affordable price. I love the Adobe Creative Suite and use it for my images.
- More Photography Resources – Check out my Pinch of Yum Food Photography Workshop review.
Blogging Skill Development
The blogging field that is continually changing. It is important to invest in continuing education to keep improving your blog, increase page views, and make more money.
One word of caution, there are lots of amazing blogging classes and books available, but there are also a lot of terrible programs for sale. These are the e-books, courses, and tools that I have personally purchased and highly recommend:
- How to Blog for Profit: Without Selling Your Soul – This book offers practical advice and easy action plans for creating a successful and profitable blog. It was written by a successful blogger who can help you build a profitable blog from day 1. It's a great way to learn for less than $10!
- Sticky Blogging Formula – Writing for a online audience is MUCH different than writing for other mediums. The Sticky Blogging Course teaches you to write posts that will keep readers “stuck” on your site. (This course is only offered a few times a year, sign up to be notified when the next session starts.)
- The Pinterest Strategy Guide – Pinterest is the #1 traffic driver for most blogs, learn the step-by-step Pinterest method one blogger uses for massive follower growth and traffic that makes her more than $16,000+ a month.
- Making Sense of Affiliate Marketing – Bloggers make a great income by recommending products and services that they use and love. Learn how to make the most of affiliates from Michelle, a pro blogger who makes $40,000+ a month.
- Massive Growth Strategies to Build Facebook Audiences – Facebook can help you get TONS of blog traffic and make affiliate income, it can also be difficult (or nearly impossible) to master. Rachel has built 3 massively successful Facebook pages and explains her detailed techniques for massive growth and income.
- Food Blogger Pro is a paid membership site that includes an online community of bloggers PLUS educational videos on everything from food photography and site back-ups to best practices for search engine optimization and making money. The site is helpful even if you are not a food blogger. (The site only accepts new users twice a year, sign up to be notified when the site opens, use this link to get 10% off )
More Blogging Tools
- Social Warfare – This plugin helps increase social media shares from your posts and drives traffic. My favorite feature? You can choose the image you want readers to pin.
- BoardBooster – This easy tool helps you manage your Pinterest account for amazing repins and boosted traffic.
- Pretty Link Pro – Shrink, track, and share beautiful links the highlight your domain name.
- ShareASale – Get paid for recommending products you love.
- OptinMonster – Popup and forms that help collect subscribers. I use this on my free printables page.
Are you ready to take a leap of faith and give blogging a try?
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