When people find out what I do for a living they look skeptical or laugh nervously as though I am confusing a hobby with a job.
I understand their reaction, I would have had the same thoughts a few years ago. Blogging from home seems too good to be true… And I have to agree, blogging is a dream job!
Today I’m going to share the path that I took to become a full time blogger and explain how you can do it too.
Some of the links in this post are affiliate links. This means that if you make a purchase through the link I receive a small commission at no additional cost to you.
How I Decided to Start a Blog
Two years ago I was a stay-at-home mom who wanted to dip my toes back into the working world. I was feeling a little lost and a bit hopeless. I had been at home with my kids full or part time for more than 11 years and I felt like I was wasting my career potential.
I wanted sometime MORE. I wanted to contribute to our household finances and have something that was all mine… without having to sacrifice family life.
Those were some big wants! And I had even more hopes for my dream job:
- I wanted a career I would love. We move frequently for my husband’s career. After 8 moves in 16 years my resume was a wreck. When I first met my husband I was a professional in the business world and loved my career, I wanted to feel that way again.
- I wanted to be good at my job. I like to joke that I have a PhD in “mommy” but no business skills left after years at home with kids. It’s sad but true; the SAHM years left a huge hole in my resume. I didn’t want to start over at the bottom, I wanted a job where my unique skills and knowledge would be an asset.
- I wanted to earn a descent income. I haven’t worked full time since our first child was born. Over the years I’ve had a few different part-time jobs (assistant store manager, part time college instructor, etc.) but none of them paid enough to make a difference in our budget after paying for daycare costs.
- I wanted a flexible schedule. There is no such thing as a sick day in my husband’s line of work. This reality (and the fact that we usually live thousands of miles from our relatives) means that I am 100% responsible for our children. If someone is sick, I stay home. If someone needs to go to the orthodontist to have a wire fixed, I stop what I am doing to drive them. It’s a privilege to be able to do these things, but I need a flexible schedule to be able to parent whenever I am needed and still be good at my job.
- I wanted a job that was portable. Did you read the part about our family moving 8 times in 16 years? I was tired of starting over. I wanted a career that I could take with me to any location and work on at any time.
The Business of Blogging
I was weighing my limited job prospects when I discovered something AMAZING → There are real people making a full time income from home by blogging! (And it’s not just Martha Stewart or the Pioneer Woman!)
I knew blogs existed and I had spent time on Pinterest, but I had no idea that blogging was a real job until I stumbled onto a blog income report (a monthly post some bloggers write about their income). The author of the recipe blog was making more than $16,000 a month from her blog and still worked full time as a teacher.
I was blown away and completely inspired.
I couldn’t stop thinking about the potential and began imagining life as a blogger. It felt like the perfect answer to my job worries: I could use my skills and experience, it was flexible and portable, I could still be a full time mom, and I could make a great income.
I decided to take a leap of faith and give blogging a try.
Treating Your Blog Like a Business
Let’s be honest, you have to think of your blog as a small business if you want to make an income. Yes, it’s a business can own and operate from home, but it’s a real business. As the owner you have to invest your time, a bit of money, and a lot of effort, but you also get to decide when to work and when to make your personal life a priority.
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).
I made a small initial investment from our savings to get my blog started and treat it like a full time job. I work regular hours, reinvest some of the profits, meet self imposed deadlines, and set goals to help make the blog a success.
*Right now you might be thinking, “I can’t start a blog, I’m not a computer person.” I am NOT a technical whiz, you can run a successful blog without a ton of computer knowledge!
Slow and Steady Wins the Race
I’ve been blogging for a little over 2 years and consider myself a full time blogger. I consistently earn $3,500-$4,000 a month and that number keeps growing! I’m not publishing my earnings to boast or brag, the number is meant to be a bit inspiring and a bit of a reality check.
There are loads of blogging sites and webinars that will promise you a full time income in less than a year. A few rare bloggers do manage to attain that level of success… BUT there are many more who get frustrated with their slow progress and give up before ever making a cent… AND a lot of other bloggers who embrace the slow and steady route to building an income and keep chugging upward.
Bjork Ostrom of Food Blogger Pro calls this commitment to slow and steady growth One Percent Infinity. You work to improve a little bit each day → forever!
Imagine what you could achieve in 1, 2 or even 5 years by improving just 1% each day!
I get it, you’re tired and busy and a bit overwhelmed. Maybe you’re feeling a little lost and hopeless just like I was two years ago…
But I know something special about you. I know that you’re HERE right now reading this post. You’re imaging what $3,500- 4,000 a month could do for your family. You’ve heard that little voice whispering “Go for it!” You’ve got the fire that pushed me to start my own blog.
That fire, that imagination, that desire to succeed is why you should start a blog right this minute! Head to the list below (How to Start a Blog) and by the end of the day you can register a domain name and grab a cheap hosting plan. Tomorrow it will be easy to pick out a beautiful theme and get a simple logo.
You’ll keep working through the list and in just a few hours you will be on the path to success! Make a commitment to improve just 1% each day and one afternoon you’ll look up and realize you are right where I am today… working full time in the dream job you created and wondering why you didn’t start sooner.
How to Start a Blog
Here’s the step-by-step process I used to start my blog. (Don’t do all 8 steps now, pin or bookmark the post so you can work through them slowly.) :
1 – Pick a topic or niche to write about.
The first rule of blogging is to write what you know. Are you into cooking, finance, or child development? You must pick a topic you know something about and love discussing. There are profitable blogs on almost every topic from poodle care to pound cake, so the sky is the limit as long as you are passionate about the topic.
I’ve met some really nice people who decided to write about finances or weight loss or organizing because they thought those topics would attract a lot of readers. They all stopped blogging because they did not have a genuine passion for their topic.
Having a passion for the topic of your blog means:
- You’ll have a lot to write about and will have something in common with your readers.
- You will be less likely to get sick of the topic and give up on the blog.
- You will be willing to put in the time and effort needed to make the blog a success.
You don’t need an advanced degree in your blogging niche, but you should be a bit more knowledgeable that the average Joe and love learning more about the topic.
2 – Evaluate your current skills.
Successful blogs do one of two things:
- They entertain or
- They solve problems for their readers.
We’re not all as entertaining as Beyonce, but we can all solve problems! The problem can be as simple as how to make a healthy meal in the crock pot or how to naturally clean a shower.
Brainstorm ten possible blog posts topics that solve a problem in your niche and write down the ideas. If you can’t easily get to ten in a few minutes you may need to think of a new blog topic or broaden your niche.
Next, spend some time searching on Google or Pinterest to find a few blogs you love reading that are in your niche. Poke around on each site, read some of their posts, and evaluate their images. Your site won’t start off as polished as these established blogs, but you should think about what you can add to the topic and you must be willing to work toward their level.
3 – Pick a name for your blog then purchase a domain and hosting plan.
Your domain name is part of the URL of your blog. For example, BrenDid.com is the domain in http://www.brendid.com . Your domain name should match the name of your blog to make it easy to find.
Blog names are a matter of personal preference. Some names are descriptive and to the point (PoodleCare101.com) while others are more abstract or catchy (ThePaperAirplane.com) and some are simply made up words (Google.com). Get started by brainstorming a list of words or phrases that are important to your topic and combinations you like.
Once you’ve got a name (or list of names) you should check to see if the domain is available to purchase.
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 new bloggers because it is cheap and has great customer support. BlueHost also includes a free domain name with new accounts, you gotta love that deal!
4 – Install Wordpress.
You’ll use a content management system (CMS) to create and manage your 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 I’m going to let you in on a little secret…
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.
To install WordPress on your blog host account simply follow the steps in this video.
Make sure to write down your Admin URL, Username, and Password. You’ll need them to log onto your blog.
5 – Select a theme to customize the look of your blog.
You are now a official blog owner! Log into your blog via the Admin URL (the URL will look like this: www.yourblogname.com/wp-admin – type in your domain in place of yourblogname.com).
You should customize the appearance of your blog before you start publishing posts. The look of your blog is controlled by a theme. You can choose a free theme from the WordPress library or purchase a premium theme to get a more unique appearance. 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 Bruch 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.
6 – Get a logo header for your blog.
A logo can make your site look great. but it’s not all that important when you first start to blog. You should focus on creating content and learning WordPress instead of wasting time obsessing over design choices.
If you want to use a blog logo instead of a simple text header you should purchase an inexpensive design to save time and money. There will be plenty of time to hire a graphic designer and obsess over design choices once your blog is bringing in an income.
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.
7 – Create beautiful images for your posts with custom and stock photos.
Blogging is a visual medium and beautiful images will help you 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 by taking your own photos or using stock photography:
- 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).
A Note About Photography Skills
You don’t have to be an professional photographer to start a craft, recipe or DIY blog, but you have to be willing to work on your photography skills until you can produce attractive 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 (I like PicMonkey if you are on a budget ) or use Adobe Lightroom and Adobe Photoshop to edit photos and design social media images. Purchasing the programs is expensive, but you can rent them monthly for an affordable price. I love the Adobe Creative Suite and use it for my images.
8 – Continue to develop your blogging skills.
I invest part of my income each month into continuing education. These resources help me to keep improving my blog, increase my page views, and make more money.
Be cautious with your blogging budget. There are lots of amazing blogging classes and books available, but there are also a lot of terrible programs for sale. This is a list of 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.
- Sticky Blogging Formula – Writing for a online audience is a lot 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, the next session starts on September 28.)
- 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 a pro blogger who makes $40,000+ a month.
- Strategies Worth Sharing: How I Grew My Facebook Page from 2,000 to 100,000 in 5 Months Facebook can help you get lots of blog traffic, it can also be difficult (or nearly impossible) to master. This blogger explains her detailed techniques for massive growth.
- 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. (Use this coupon to get 10% off )
Are you ready to take a leap of faith and give blogging a try?
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