7-Day Social Media Plan | Want to sell your products and make money with your blog? First, you need to get visible! This post includes a weekly social media marketing plan to drive massive traffic. Click through to see all the steps and download the social media planner!
Want to sell your products and make money with your blog? First, you need to build your audience and get traffic! This post includes weekly blog tasks plus a downloadable social media marketing plan template. Click through to get the social media plan template!
7-Day Social Media Plan | This post includes a 7-day social media planner plus social media marketing template so you know exactly what to do to get massive exposure and traffic.

A complete 7-day social media marketing plan plus a monthly social media and blog planner printable! social media tips for business, social media calendar, social media tips #socialmedia #bloggingtips

Need a social media planner to cover the entire week?

This is part #2 of the Build Your Audience + Traffic series, where we’re drilling down on how to drive traffic to your content and convert visitors into subscribers.

In part #1, we talked about fundamental ways to increase traffic and build your audience. We uncovered how important it is to really, really know your target audience, and to set monthly goals so that you know what to aim for.

We also touched on the tasks involved with putting your content out there like you mean business…like you want people to find it.

Today, let’s dive into the HOW.

Specifically:

How can you promote your content effectively on social media?
What things should you be doing each week, and in what order, to maximize your reach?

Time for a 7-day social media plan, yo. What I really want is for you to have a blogging workflow that yields amazing results for all your hard work.

Here are the weekly tasks I’m covering in this post:

  • Sunday: Research blog topics
  • Monday: Write your post
  • Tuesday: SEO your post
  • Wednesday: Create images
  • Thursday: Promote on social media
  • Friday: Repurpose for other platforms
  • Saturday: Add to schedulers
  • Rinse + repeat 🙂

Ready for it? Let’s dig in.

Bonus: I created this 7-day social media plan template to help put what you learn into action.

social media strategy template

ON THE FIRST SUNDAY OF EVERY MONTH

1) Research blog topics

To get the most benefit from this social media plan, you need to stick to a regular blogging schedule. One of the best ways to do that is to have your topics ready to go, so that all you have to do is to start writing.

Remember the blog themes we talked about? On the first Sunday of every month, jot down blog ideas that support your themes. This extra effort upfront will save you loads of time plus give you valuable insight about your audience.

Here’s why:

  • Knowing what you’re going to cover ahead of time means less time struggling with what to write during the week.
  • Your content is going to speak to what your audience really needs vs what you think they need, which is priceless.
  • Researching content is about more than just blog ideas – you’ll see how people spin their blog titles too, which is a biggie for driving traffic.

Now that you know what you want to write, it’s time to create your blogging workflow.

Related: 3 Places to Find Your Next 30 Blog Ideas

MONDAY

2) Write the post

Try to write when you feel most productive and when you can block out time with no interruptions or distractions. What this looks like is no email, no calls, no texts. Time to shut out the world and focus here. Writing is a creative process and you need the mental space to be all in…

You can even use my Time Blocking Template to help protect your sacred writing time!

In terms of how much time to set aside, it depends on the length of your posts. I tend to write longer posts that take me about 5-6 hours. You may need more or less time and that’s perfectly ok.

What you can do, if you like, is to alternate between longer and shorter posts. The first week, maybe you write a longer post. Then the next week, you write a shorter one. Whatever you do, please don’t write less than 1000 words! We want to provide real value for our readers, PLUS give our work a fighting chance to rank on Google.

Good so far?

Oops…almost forgot one thing:

Make sure you format your posts with subheadings and bullet points so they’re easy to read. Use short sentences and even shorter words, e.g. hard vs difficult. You want that when people scan your posts, they get what you’re saying without having to work for it.

You’re doing great! Next, let’s get a jump on Tuesday’s tasks.

TUESDAY

3) Optimize for search engines

Tuesday is the perfect day to choose your target keyword and add it to your content, tags, and blog title. This way you have a final title for blog and social media images, which we’re going to create on Tuesday too, right after we sprinkle some SEO magic on it.

The reason I recommend optimizing your post AFTER you write it, and not before, is because it’s so important to focus on Step #1 first. The only thing you should be thinking about when you’re writing is how to get your readers from point A to point Z.

Then, after that, we can get jiggy with SEO.

If you’re curious about how best to optimize your posts, this post includes an SEO blog checklist you can download to help you remember all the steps.

Before we move on to images, let’s look at how to select the perfect target keyword. We’ll need Google’s Keyword Planner for this.

I usually select “Search for new keywords related to a phrase, website or category”. Your results will look something like the image below. What you’re looking for are keywords related to your search term that have a decent search volume and low to medium competition.

 

How to use google keyword planner

Once you select your target keyword, follow the steps listed in the SEO blog checklist to add it to your post.

And just in case you have a hard time finding the keyword planner once you log in, it’s hiding out in the “Tools” menu.

4) Create blog and social media images

#2FORTUESDAY We’re doublin’ up on Tuesday, so right after you’re done with step #3, it’s time to create share images.

Canva is a great tool for this. You can create and save branded templates with your logo, colors, fonts, and other brand elements all in there, ready to go.

I like to take my images one step further and use Photoshop. If you’re curious about Photoshop, this tutorial and social media template will help you get started.

Ok, so now you’re probably thinking What social media sites do I need images for, and what size should they be?

I’ve got all of that covered for you right here!

WEDNESDAY

5) Create a content upgrade

High five! We’re jammin’ and it’s only Wednesday. Let’s keep at it.

Content upgrades are extra freebies…things like checklists, cheat sheets, eBooks, worksheets, and templates…that extend on your post with even more value. They’re optional, meaning that you don’t have to create one in order to publish your post and promote it.

Hmm…or do you?

Nope. Changed my mind. You need ’em.

The reason is that this is the Blog Audience + Traffic series. What that means is that we’re building a community…our crew, our tribe. To do that, we need a way to stay in touch with the people who visit our site. The last thing we want is to throw a slammin’ blog party and then have people peace out before the fun starts.

Also, if you remember from part #1 of this series, freebies are a huge piece of our content funnel.

To give you an example of this, I’ve built my list to 4K in the last 3-1/2 months with nothing more than freebies. We’re talking no guest posts, ads, webinars, landing pages…none of that noise! Just straight up opt-in forms and freebies.

Can you see how powerful they are?

Now, I get that freebies take a lot of time to make, so believe me, I’m not recommending that you include one with every post.

Instead, you can alternate each week, the same way we’re alternating between longer and shorter posts (Monday, above). So one week you add a freebie, the next week you skip it, and so on.

If you’re wondering how to create your freebie, Pages, Word, Google Docs, and Canva or all good choices. I’ve been using InDesign forever so that’s what I prefer. Oh, and if you’re interested in learning how to create eBooks with InDesign, please let me know in the comments!

THURSDAY

6) Add the upgrade to your post

This part sounds simple, right? It actually takes a few more steps than you might think. What you’re doing is creating a 2-step opt-in form, where an image or a link triggers a pop-up. So let’s break that down, k?

First, there’s the link or image

I’ve found that a graphic button with a call to action like “Click here to download” works better than a text link. Images grab people’s attention more than links, especially if you’re following the blog SEO checklist and interlinking posts for search engines. All of those links can get lost after a while.

But a big, bold, graphic button? No one’s glazing over that, friend! The other thing to include in your button is an image of your worksheet or checklist. You want to let people see how helpful your freebie is, type thing.

Ok, so what tools should you use?

Great question! See those tools you used on Tuesday to create blog + social media images? You can use the same ones for your call to action button.

Next up, the opt in form

This is the form that pops-up when someone clicks on the button.

I use Thrive Leads because I just loove it so much, but you can use OptinMonster, Leadpages, or SumoMe too. Just remember to connect the form to MailChimp, ConvertKit or any email platform you currently use.

Finally! Write a delivery email

We need a way to send the freebie to new subscribers.

What that looks like is when someone signs up for your freebie, they get a “tag” that triggers an email sequence  (which is just a fancy way of saying “send more than one email”). Here’s an example of a delivery sequence:

  • Your first email will say something like “Thanks so much! Here’s your download.”
  • Then you follow-up a few days later with a reminder “How’s it going with the freebie? If you haven’t downloaded it yet, here’s the link again.”
  • The idea is to schedule these emails ahead of time, so it’s all on autopilot.

Ok, I know you’re probably thinking This is so much stuff, and it all sounds pretty techie!

I hear ya! There are a lot of steps here, which is why I like to think of Thursdays as #TECHTHURSDAY. Setting all of this up definitely takes a different part of your brain than writing or even creating images.

Remember too that once you set up your first sequence, you can duplicate it for the next one. And you only have to connect your service once to the form. Then you’re good to go.

Like anything else, the more freebies you create and add to your posts, the faster it will go. This is another one of those things where, if you hang in there with it, your investment will pay off later on as your audience and community grow and grow.

Now, I know you’re probably thinking If this is a social media plan, why are we spending so much time on blogging tips? What about tips for social media?

I hear ya! Everything we’ve covered so far is about blogging and creating content.

The reason is because content is the glue that makes social media so sticky. You need to focus on blogging from Monday through Thursday so that you have original content to share. That’s where the traffic part comes in! If you hang in there, over the next few days we’ll turn our attention to sharing and promotion. Everything will come together into a bangin’ social media plan soon. Pinky swear.

Real quick before we move on, there’s one more thing to do:

Check your Google Analytics at least once a month. What you’re looking for are the top 5-10 posts that are most popular. These are the ones with serious muscle, the ones driving the most traffic to your site. Make sure you go back and add a freebie to each of these if you haven’t already.

Next up: Time to pounce on social media!

FRIDAY

7) Publish and promote

#TGIF Almost there…just a few days left. You can do this…

First, publish your post

Whatever you do, please proofread your post before you publish it! I’m terrible at this… I’m always finding grammatical errors and typos in my posts months after they go live. Ugh. Sooo frustrating…and the longer the post, the more typos.

Do me one better here, friend. Give your post a once-over before you publish it.

Next, promote your post

This is the most important thing to do next, and I’m going to show you how to do it so that you get maximum visibility and traffic. Let’s look at the blog promotion tasks in 3 stages, done over the next 3 days:

  1. Share on social media, bookmarking sites, and content communities
  2. Turn your post into other types of content to reach even more people
  3. Create and schedule additional updates, tweets, and pins

Some experts, like Derek Halpern, recommend applying the 80/20 rule to blog promotion. This means that you spend 80% of your time promoting, and 20% writing. Honestly, I think my split is more like 100/100 🙂

Can you see why Friday, Saturday, and Sunday are such important days?

Now you’re probably thinking How the heck am I going to do all of this without pulling my hair out?

I get it, I really do! It took me months to figure out a workflow that didn’t leave me feeling flustered. This is another one of those things where you need to hang in there! It’s going to get so much easier as you move through it. First of all, the weekly blogging plan we’re covering today will help you keep a consistent schedule, where you’re doing the same tasks, on the same days, each week.

And once you run through the steps yourself and nail down your best workflow, it’ll be easy to pass the promotion tasks off to a virtual assistant. You will get your weekend back later on. Pinky swear.

 

Here’s the template I use to share my blog posts:

content marketing strategy

You can download the blog promotion worksheet to share your blog posts too.
social media planning calendar

Ok, with that being said, Friday is all about sharing on social media and bookmarking sites.

  • Facebook
  • Twitter
  • Pinterest
  • Instagram
  • LinkedIn
  • And so many others…

Too much to list in this post… For the full list of sites, I recommend downloading the blog promo worksheet above.

SATURDAY

Repurpose your post

Repurposing your post is a techie way of saying turn it into something else, like a video, quick tip, Slideshare, or podcast. For our purposes today, let’s just focus on turning the post into:

  • A 1-2 minute video
  • Second Pinterest pin
  • Quick tip graphic
  • More tweets and updates

This is a much shorter list, and a lot easier to get your head around, right? Another way to think of it is that at the end of the week you’re going to have these assets for your post:

  • The post itself
  • A video
  • A quick tip graphic

I know that this sounds like a lot!

But really, it goes much quicker than you think. What you can do is use the same quick tip for your graphic and your video. And if you think about it, all you’re really doing is taking what you’ve already “scripted”, selecting a few highlights from it, and turning them into something new. Plus, in my experience, recording video takes sooo much less time than writing a post.

For the video

You can use whatever you have available right now. Let’s not get hung up on techie recording gear, k? Your iPhone or webcam is the perfect starting place. The point here is to simply get into the habit of turning your posts into videos.

Once you’re recording video on the regular, I recommend the Blue Yeti mic to help amplify your audio.

To record the video itself, I started out with QuickTime and now use ScreenFlow, mainly because of the editing features. And my brother has been bangin’ out amazing videos using Camtasia on his PC. All of these are good choices, in my book.

For the quick tip graphic

You got it. Same tools from Tuesday, step #4.

Additional tweets and updates

For each post, I write 15 additional tweets, and 3-4 updates for Facebook and LinkedIn, all linking to the post.

Here’s what those look like:

social media marketing plan template - TwitterI should point out that these tweets and updates are all slightly different. What you don’t want to do is to repeat the same tweet over and over again!

In the next step, we’ll schedule these tweets (plus our new content + graphics) to be shared over the next week. This will give us an initial spike in blog traffic.

Related: How to Promote Your Blog Posts Effectively on Social Media

SUNDAY

Schedule updates, tweets, and pins

Woo! You’re really hangin’ in there!

This (almost) last step is actually pretty easy. All we need to do is to queue up our content for sharing.

Can you see how all of your hard work is paying off here? You have more content to share on more platforms, which means more people seeing your post.

More types of content = more platforms = a broader audience.

This is why I love social media scheduling tools so much! Even though you’re building your following on just 1-2 social media sites (as I mention in this post), these tools allow you to “set it and forget it” on the others, so to speak. That’s a win-win, no?

If you’re curious, in this post I share my favorite scheduling tools.

THROUGHOUT THE WEEK

Share to Facebook group promo threads

Almost there! One last thing…

If we’re really going to nail this blog and social media plan, we can’t forget Facebook groups, which can leave your head spinning if you don’t have a system in place.

Hmm…why is that?

I’ve been thinking about this, and the answer is that it really comes down to each group having its own rules, daily prompts, and promo days. The schedules are different enough that it makes them hard to track. You can feel like a scrambled egg trying to keep up with which group has a promo thread each day.

That said, FB is my #2 source of traffic, and I’m sure it must be because of groups. It’s got to be. I only have 400 or so fans. 🙂

So how do you promote your posts through Facebook Groups?

Great question! First of all, if you’re not in groups already, I would spend a few days looking for groups in your niche, reading through their descriptions, checking their rules, and so on.

What you’re looking for are groups with high engagement that have “Promo Wednesdays” type thing, where you can share this week’s post. Even if the group doesn’t allow promotions, you can usually include your link in a thread comment. Of course, you should check the group rules first.

Once you’re in a few groups, I recommend using a spreadsheet to keep track of each group’s promo days. From there, all you need to do is schedule Facebook posts in those threads (aka remember to share on those days).

If you’re curious, here’s what my Facebook promo schedule looks like:

schedule Facebook posts - social media planSo there you have it! If you follow these steps every week, you will start doubling and tripling your blog traffic and building a huge audience. Here’s the 7-day social media planning template again so you can get started:

social media strategy template
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If you feel like you're spinning your wheels with your blog and you want some tips on how to make it really work for your long term business goals, this post is for you! It includes 16 content strategy and social media tips for bloggers to help you attract more of your ideal readers and grow your blog audience. Click through to see all the tips!When you’re just getting started with blogging, probably the most important thing you can do is just start.

Start writing.
Start publishing.
Start sharing.

It can be challenging enough to get into the routine of it all. And you push yourself because you know there are many reasons you want to be blogging. Here’s just a few:

  • It can generate a huge amount of traffic to your business
  • It can help you become an influencer, with the right network
  • It can seriously boost your income and revenue

So with all that it can do for your business, why does it feel like you get sucked you into a rabbit hole every time you sit down to write? Where’s the real payoff?

The thing is this: without a strategy in place for your content, blogging can seem like a waste of time.

The good news is that it’s pretty easy to put a well-crafted content and social media strategy in place for your blog. Especially once you’ve written your first few posts.

In this post I’m going to explain why you need a content strategy for your blog, and simple ways to create one that works for your business:

1) Content is the New SEO

SEO, social media and content go hand in hand nowadays. You really can’t talk about one without talking about the other. Here’s why:

  • Google continues to change its ranking algorithms in favor of valuable content that provides a great user experience, so black-hat SEO tactics like keyword stuffing and hidden text doesn’t work today. Instead, search engines look at the relevance and popularity of your content as primary ranking factors.
  • Traffic from search engines isn’t the only way to generate a huge audience, which is where social media comes in. As a blogger and publisher, it’s amazing how you can leverage social media platforms to help people find your content and drive targeted traffic to your business.

The one thing that SEO and social media has in common is content. You need content for your keywords and search engines, and you need content for people on social media.

Content is the vehicle, and social media is the medium.

2) Content is How We Do Business

Consumer expectations are what’s really driving content marketing.

You can see the demand for content everywhere…trains, sidewalks, cafes, restaurants, nail salons, hair salons, parks, bus stops, the list goes on. Everywhere you go, people are buried in their phones and devices either on Facebook, Pinterest, or Google hunting for something they need.

They want access to the information they need, whenever they need it.

All of this means that as a blogger and business owner, you have to feed this “research-and-validate” mentality. The way to do that is by creating and publishing original content.

Content is how people do business. And it’s how people will find your blog.

3) Content Is Here to Stay

We’ve become a social world and that’s only going to continue to grow.

Especially given that social platforms are all mobile-friendly, and people can check out a pin, Facebook post, or tweet directly on their phone.

When you add in the fact that some big name employers are even implementing social “reputation scores” (similar to credit scores) as part of background checks during the interview process, social media isn’t going anywhere.

Since social media relies on content for its fuel, blogging isn’t going anywhere either.

4) Content Works For All Businesses

Here’s why:

It used to be that local businesses could rely on aggressive SEO tactics to rank high in Google. These were “black-hat” techniques that cared only about search engines, with a complete disregard for actual people.

All of that has changed and content is truly king when it comes to ranking in search engines.

Even B2B brands have integrated content into their sales processes.

Bottom line, people want authenticity and relevancy and that demand crosses over industries and business models. All of this comes in the form of content.

Here’s how to create a content strategy that works for your blog:

PART 1: LAYING A SOLID BRAND FOUNDATION

You’re blogging and you have some posts that you’ve started to share.

Before you move forward, now is a good time to plan ahead and tweak your blog’s brand based on what you’ve learned so far. It’s time to tighten things up so that you know exactly what content to create, why you’re creating it, and who you’re speaking to.

1) Who Are You Blogging For?

When I talk about branding your blog, I’m not talking about your logo, tagline, blog design, fonts, tagline or any visual elements right now.

I’m talking about positioning your blog, and that means knowing your audience way beyond things like their age, income or location. It’s one thing to know demographics and it’s another thing to know what their real motivations are for reading your blog.

You want to tap into how they’re really feeling. What does their day look like? What are they frustrated with right now? What do they want to be able to do? And most importantly, what are they saying around your brand?

Ask yourself these two questions:

  • How do people FEEL before reading your post? How do they feel afterwards?
  • What is an average DAY like for people before reading your blog? What is the average day like for them after they read it?

Answering these questions will give you clarity on the transformation that your blog provides for your readers.

This type of deep dive requires really listening to your audiences. A good way to do that is simply ask subscribers what they really want to know around your niche.

In my experience, inside your target audience you’ll probably have a couple of different “buckets” of people. You may have one group of people that are motivated by one thing and a second group that’s motivated by another thing entirely.

For instance, one of my clients is an online fitness coach and we discovered by asking and listening that there were four entirely different buckets of customers:

  • Bucket A: want a fun, quick workout with amazing results
  • Bucket B: want a safe workout that prevents injuries and pain
  • Bucket C: want to stop taking medications for blood pressure and diabetes
  • Bucket D: want a complete system of fitness and nutrition that’s done for them, where they don’t have to think

See how different people can have completely different pain points? People in Bucket A aren’t thinking about safety or even medications, they just want a fun workout. So blogging about blood pressure isn’t really going to capture their attention.

If you want, you can download this Blog Post Checklist, where I break down the blog post structure that will help more people find your posts on Google and social media:

14 Things You Should Do to Every Blog Post Before You Hit Publish | If you’re ready to grow your blog audience, but aren’t sure about the best ways take to market it, this post includes 14 tips for bloggers and entrepreneurs to help your content get found and shared by more people everywhere.

2) Create Content Themes

The point is that they’re all having different conversations. Part of refining your blog’s brand is to take those separate conversations and develop content themes around them, with each theme speaking directly to the people in each bucket.

3) Map Out 2 Months of Posts

Once you have those themes, create an editorial calendar around each one. Maybe what you do is focus on one theme each month, so you can take readers on a journey with your posts. This will also help you come up with ideas around each theme that are related to each other.

I’ve found that 2 month’s worth of content at a time is enough. You can go for three, but usually by the time you’ve written content for 6-8 weeks, you have even more ideas and your topics will shift a bit. Plus this way you’re not overwhelmed.

PART 2: OPTIMIZE YOUR BLOG

It’s amazing how a few simple tweaks to your blog can be the difference between a little traffic and tons of traffic. Optimizing your blog for search engines AND for people will help you stay on top of your game and make sure every post reaches as many people as possible.

Here’s what you can do:

4) Add Social Engagement Elements

When you’re new to blogging, the best thing you can do is to make yourself available to people so they know that you’re a real person who wants to interact with them.

Here are some ways to make it easy for people to get to know you and get in touch with you:

  • Add a contact page to your website with a form and let people know how to get in touch with you (email, phone, social profiles)
  • Add share buttons at the beginning or end of your post and make your images shareable too. For more on this, check out this post.
  • Add comments to your blog so you can start to build a relationship with your readers. Make it easy for them to leave their thoughts and opinions, and then respond to their comments to show them that you care about what they think.

5) Make it SEO-Friendly

You know you have great content on your blog. But beyond posting it to your social sites, it kind of seems like you’re the only one reading it, am I right?

This is where SEO comes in.

I know that keyword research and SEO seem overwhelming, but don’t let that stop you from giving your post a winning chance of getting found when people type in important terms related to it.

Here are some ways to make it easy for search engines to find your site:

  • Use Google’s Keyword Planner to find popular keywords that don’t have a ton of competition. This just means you want a lot of monthly searches for the keyword with few competitors trying to rank for it. This will give you the best chance of ranking for that keyword.
  • Install the Yoast SEO plugin for WordPress and add the keyword to your page title, description, subheadings, and a few times in the copy (it will red flag anything else to do)
  • Add a featured image and other images to your post. Include the keyword in the name and in the alt text (make the names slightly different)
  • Make it as long as you can. The reason is that Google sees longer posts as a signal of relevance, plus you have more room to weave in your keyword.

I recommend writing your post first, and then going back and adding your target keyword later. This way you can keep a flow going with your writing and it will sound more organic and authentic instead of sounding like you’re forcing it.

Related: The Ultimate Guide to SEO for Bloggers + Entrepreneurs

PART 3: DEVELOPING THE CONTENT STRATEGY

6) Offer a Content Upgrade

It’s a great feeling to write an in-depth and valuable blog post. Especially when your topic is something that took you a long time to figure out. You just know that your readers will benefit a lot from it and that following your tips is going to save them a lot of time and effort.

So why not let them download the post?

You can actually make this a part of your content strategy, where every time you write a detailed post, you copy it into Word and save it as a PDF. You don’t need a fancy design or anything more than a checklist or cheat sheet.

Include a link to it in your post with a simple call to action like, “Download this post as a PDF”.

Your readers get a perk because they have a resource they can reference when they need it, and you get a perk because you collect their contact info in exchange for the download.

7) Provide Real Value

I mentioned earlier that longer posts will help you rank higher in search engines, and there’s actually a way to control this even more.

That’s by creating epic content. I don’t really like this term, because it just kind of makes me scrunch my nose and go, “huh?” It also takes the focus away from what it really means, which is to create valuable content.

So your next questions are probably “What does valuable content really mean?“, and “How do I create it?

Here’s a quick checklist that should help:

  • More detailed. Make it an undeniable and in-depth resource that people can’t do without.
  • Better. Research trending content around your keyword, find the gaps in what’s already out there, and then improve upon it.
  • Longer. Long-form content isn’t really the end goal here. Just know that you can’t get away with 500-word posts any more. Google (and your readers) want long comprehensive posts.
  • Be useful. I’m not talking a little useful. I’m talking life-changing useful. Solve a problem, help people save money, save time, or make something easy to do. Give them so much value that they can’t imagine not reading your content.
  • Unique. Your experiences are what separate you from other bloggers, so make sure people feel you in the post. They’re looking to you to interpret information, not just present it. Bottom line, be a real person having real conversations.

8) Extend Conversations Into Future Posts

You put a lot of time into writing your blog post, so why not track how well it performs across your social networks?

Most of the scheduling automation tools mentioned earlier will provide analytics where you can see which of your posts are popular across each network. Most social media platforms provide this data too.

Keeping an eye on performance will help elevate your social media marketing because you can:

  • Discover trends across your social networks
  • Come up with future blog posts
  • Know which posts aren’t as popular so you can focus your time on better ones.

There are several other ways you can track conversations that your audience is having online, including Reddit, forums around your topics, and comments on your actual blog posts.

If you track your social media analytics plus these other discussions that are happening online, you can spot questions and problems that keep coming up for people. Leverage that information to write your next blog post or for your editorial calendar.

9) Repurpose your Content

You accomplished so much by writing your blog post, and now you’re probably thinking “How can I reach even more people with it?”

That’s where repurposing comes in.

Repurposing your blog post just means packaging it up differently for a new medium and user, such as a YouTube video or an infographic.

Repurposing gives you a chance to have an even greater impact on  your readers, so long as you don’t overdo it. Not every post is a good candidate. You want to add another level of value and not just duplicate your content. Make sure people will experience something new.

When you upload a video or create a podcast, add a link back to your post for even more traffic to your site.

If you want to get massive traffic to your posts, I created a blog promo cheat sheet to help you plan what you need to share, and when, so that your legendary content gets found by people ev’rywhere on social media. 

Click the image below to download your blog promo planner.

Want to get more traffic to your blog posts from social media? Use this blog promo planner and start turning each post into different types of content you can share on Facebook, Instagram, Pinterest, Twitter, and LinkedIn!

PART 4: DEVELOPING YOUR SOCIAL MEDIA STRATEGY

You have engaging and easy-to-read blog posts that are ready to be shared across social media.

To get your content on social media where people are talking about it and to get people interacting with your posts, follow these tips.

10) Create Profiles Everywhere

You’re probably thinking Facebook, Google+, Pinterest, Twitter and maybe LinkedIn when I say that. The truth is that there are so many sites out there and if you really want to leverage social media for traffic, you should consider creating a presence on other ones too.

Besides the obvious ones, here are some other places to create profiles:

11) Choose a Few Channels And Dig In

Now that you have a presence of all of these channels, it’s time to really dig in, right?

Hmmm, maybe not so fast.

Building a following on social media takes time, and the last thing you want to do is to try to be everywhere at the same time. It’s one thing to share your posts everywhere (Reddit, BizSugar and others mentioned earlier), and another thing to create a community on each one.

Focus on two or three channels where your customers show up, and then commit to showing up regularly there too.

For example, if your target audience is women, Pinterest and Instagram may be a good place for you. If you’re a web-based business, Twitter and Facebook may work well, and if you sell to professionals, try LinkedIn or Google+.

If you want some insight into each channel, BuzzSumo is a great tool where you can see the most popular content around your keyword, sorted by platform. It’s also a great way to get future blog ideas!

12) Promote Your Content

Now you’ve got all the right elements to your post to get more eyes on it, but still that’s only half the battle. You have to hustle your posts if you want to see a real bump in traffic.

Right after you publish your post, follow this sequence to share it:

  • Pinterest
  • Google+ personal profile
  • Twitter personal profile
  • Facebook personal profile
  • Facebook Groups (if any)
  • LinkedIn
  • LinkedIn Groups
  • Other Twitter profiles
  • Facebook Page
  • Google+Page
  • LinkedIn Company Page
  • The other sites I mentioned (Reddit, BizSugar, etc)
  • Instagram

Related: 32 Insanely Easy Ways to Boost Your Blog Traffic for Free

13) Automate Your Posts

After you share your post the first time, why not use social media tools to get even more exposure and reach even more people? With so much content out there, you’ll want to post it a few times beyond the initial share to get the most eyes on it.

You can schedule additional shares, pins and tweets to go out throughout the week, and even a month or two months later. This way you’re constantly sharing a mix of fresh and older content so people have a good chance of seeing it.

These sites will help you schedule your posts on popular social media sites and pick the days/times you want to share them:

  • Hootsuite
  • Buffer
  • SocialOomph
  • Meet Edgar

While you’re at it, why not use these tools to share other people’s content too? It will help you build up a social following and help you round out your overall content strategy.

Oh, and if you’re on a tight budget or just don’t want to pay monthly fees to automate social media, there’s a brilliant way to do virtually the same thing using IFTTT and Google Calendar, absolutely free! You money-saver, you!

14) Know The Best Time to Share

Timing when you share your posts around when people are most active will help you get as many eyes on it as possible.

For example, Twitter users are more active in the afternoon, Google+ users generally prefer the morning, and Facebook and Pinterest users are all about the weekends.

Test each site and then use the social automation tools mentioned earlier to time your shares perfectly and get a leg up on your competition.

Related: Why You Need a Social Media Strategy and How to Create One That Works

15) Build a Following

The big thing about building a following is that you can become an influencer, just like the influencers you like and follow. “Influencer” just means that you have a big enough following where you don’t need other forms of traffic like SEO and paid media.

For example, the banking firm Goldman Sachs has such a huge fan base that it now relies solely on its own social platforms for things like press releases and updates.

The key is that when you have a following, you have your own traffic source. Pretty powerful stuff, huh?

Start by following other people in your niche. Many of them will follow you back. On sites like Facebook, you’ll probably need paid ads to promote your content and grow your following that way.

16) Connect With Influencers

A great way to start building your following is simply by following expert bloggers or “influencers” in your niche. Some of them may follow you back and even help boost the traffic and social shares to your blog.

You can also learn a lot from them by seeing how they use social media to their advantage, what types of posts they share and which ones get the most engagement. Even just seeing how frequently and at what times they post will give you an idea of how often you need to share content.

Bonus if you mention an influencer in your actual blog post and then tag them with a link to your post. Who knows? They may share it with their followers too.

Just be careful not to spam timelines. You need to have the appropriate context to tag them.

For instance, if you just briefly mention them and then tag them, this would not be inappropriate. Make sure it really relates to your post and is something substantial, like if you wrote about them extensively or if you know it’s something they would want to read. If this is the case, you can go ahead and tag or @mention their name.

 

14 Things You Should Do to Every Blog Post Before You Hit Publish | If you’re ready to grow your blog audience, but aren’t sure about the best ways take to market it, this post includes 14 tips for bloggers and entrepreneurs to help your content get found and shared by more people everywhere.
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How to Make Money from Affiliate Marketing | Have you been wanting to try affiliate marketing for your blog, but wonder if it's just too hard or maybe even a waste of time? This post is for you! I’m sharing everything I've learned from the Making Sense of Affiliate Marketing Course to help entrepreneurs and bloggers get started with ease! Click through to see all the course highlights!

Affiliate Marketing for Beginners | Have you been wanting to try affiliate marketing for bloggers, but wonder if it's just too hard or maybe even a waste of time? This post is for you! I’m sharing everything I've learned from the Making Sense of Affiliate Marketing Course to help entrepreneurs and bloggers get started with affiliate marketing! Click through to see all the affiliate marketing tips! #affiliatemarketingGuess what, friends! I cracked the code!

If you remember in our Blog Profit Plan series, I promised to be back with the scoop on affiliate marketing for beginners.

Bump. Here it is!

I just finished this amazing course by Michelle Schroeder-Gardner called Making Sense of Affiliate Marketing, and today I’m sharing what I’ve learned, why I (finally!) decided to buy it, and why I highly recommend it.

Here’s what I’m going to cover in this post:

  • A quick bit about Michelle
  • How affiliate marketing fits into our Blog Profit Plan
  • Why we even need a course for this
  • What I’ve learned from Making Sense of Affiliate Marketing

If you don’t already know the basics of affiliate marketing, no worries, let me explain. Affiliate marketing is when you earn money by placing an affiliate link on your website or social media account, and have people purchase through your link. Basically, as an affiliate, you promote a product offered by another business.

Before we dive in, this post includes affiliate links! That’s my disclosure and one of the first things Michelle explains in the course. FTC regulations require you to let people know if you stand to benefit from recommending a product. No biggie here, right? We’re just being transparent and honest!

Ready to do this? Let’s dig in.

First, who is Michelle?

affiliate marketing training course with Michelle Schroeder-GardnerHands-down, Michelle is the go-to authority on affiliate marketing for newbies. She’s been blogging for about 6 years now, and from her income reports, it looks like she’s making about $100K a month from her blog. I call that an expert!

Before I share what I’ve learned from Making Sense of Affiliate Marketing, if you’re ready to dive right in, I highly recommend Michelle’s course. It really helped me understand how to approach affiliate marketing the right way, with a full-blown success strategy. Click here to find out more about it!

How does affiliate marketing fit into our Blog Profit Plan?

Seems pretty obvious, right? Money = Profit!

If you missed the Blog Profit Plan series, here’s what we covered:

Hmmm… Should we call this part #4 of the series?

Seriously, you may be thinking about skipping affiliate marketing altogether. Maybe it sounds like it’s too hard or that it will be a waste of time, or that your followers just won’t be interested.

If you ask me, that’s leaving money on the table! And if we’re going to build hugely profitable blogs, we just can’t do that. We have to at least give affiliate marketing a try, right?

As long as we’re truly providing value for our audience, this shouldn’t be an issue. I say focus on creating epic content first, which is what Michelle recommends too, and then find affiliate products and programs that fit your content. Think of it like this: Your content dictates ev’rything.

Here are just a few reasons why I think affiliate marketing fits perfectly into our Blog Profit Plan in 2017 and beyond:

  • Affiliate marketing is an inexpensive way to start earning money from your blog. You don’t even have to create a product yourself.  Woop woop!
  • You can create just one blog post or social media post, and potentially earn money from it years down the line, as long as you maintain it and keep generating traffic to it.
  • You can earn a passive income doing what you already do, while promoting products that you already use and benefit from.
  • Affiliate links are much cleaner than ugly banners and ads. Ugh.
  • You actually don’t even need a website to get started. You can use social media to build your business by promoting affiliate products!
  • Most importantly, you help your readers find quality products that they will love and find useful.

The trick here is to approach how to start affiliate marketing for beginners the correct way, and that is exactly why Michelle’s course is so helpful.

Onward…

Next up, why do we even need a course?

Now I know what you’re thinking. Why do we even need a course, Sandra? Isn’t this stuff we can figure out on our own?

I hear ya! I’m a huge DIYer, so anything I can figure out on my own is where I’m headed first!

Here’s the thing, though. I started poking around for guides and articles on affiliate marketing and just couldn’t find what I needed. It was mostly all fluff and no stuff.

What I really wanted was a complete guide to getting started with affiliate marketing, which is exactly what Making Sense of Affiliate Marketing is.

These are the specific questions I wanted answers to:

  • How much traffic do I need?
  • What’s the best way to get started?
  • Which affiliate programs should I use for my niche?
  • How are referral sales tracked?
  • How will I get paid?
  • Which affiliate programs require more/less traffic than others?
  • How can I make more than $500 a month as an affiliate?
  • Which affiliate programs are best for new bloggers?
  • How can I write the perfect affiliate post?
  • How can I get even more traffic to an affiliate post?

Phew! That’s a lot. Michelle covers all of this and more in the Making Sense of Affiliate Marketing course!

What really made me decide to take Michelle’s course?

Ultimately, I decided to dig into my pockets because I take my blog (and my time) seriously. And I wanted a book-ended strategy, not just a nugget here or there.

Ok, in truth, I probably would have been able to make sense of affiliate marketing without Michelle’s course. It would have taken weeks to find what I needed and make sense of it all, but I think I could have done it.

HOLD UP: Weeks?

Uh, no. Nope. Why would I waste my time when Michelle has made sense of it already with her Making Sense of Affiliate Marketing course? It’s all there in the title, friends!

This is another one of those things that, when you do it right, you will make back your investment…and more!

Remember, most bloggers make little to no money from affiliate marketing. Michelle, on the other hand, is killin’ it. We’re talkin’ tens of thousands a month!

That’s who we want to learn from, no?

If you’re as fired up about this as I am, click here to find out more about Michelle’s Making Sense of Affiliate Marketing course, and let’s both start putting affiliate marketing to work for our Blog Profit Plan, sound good?

What I learned from Michelle’s course as a beginner in affiliate marketing

Wow! There’s a lot. Let me try to break this down:

1) Anyone can start affiliate marketing

You don’t have to wait until you have thousands of followers or page visits. Even if you have a handful of followers or if you are a brand-new blogger, you can still be successful at affiliate marketing. Michelle even shows you which affiliate programs’ website to apply for if you’re new to blogging.

2) There’s a strategy for success

There are certain things you need to do in order to be successful with it, and there’s also a way not to do it, which is what I think most people do. For instance, it’s much better to go narrow and deep with affiliate marketing. This is a case where less is more! Start with a few affiliate programs and immerse yourself in the products; test promotion strategies and channels, get comfortable with them, and then tweak, update, and modify before you move on.

You also want to let your content and your audience dictate your affiliate programs. Don’t just go spamming your posts with 50 different products! Why not create a series from your blog posts first, focusing on content that your readers really love and value, and THEN research products and solutions to offer them?

3) The right way to leverage your blog and social media

There’s a wrong way, a ‘meh’ way, and a golden way to promote your affiliate links. It’s important to know which is which. We’re talking strategic placement, A/B testing landing pages, blog posts, interviews, tutorials, adding direct referral links in social media, and more.

4) How to crush affiliate marketing with Pinterest

Because Pinterest is such a huge component to all of this, Michelle gives you an entire module on how to use Pinterest, in combination with email marketing, to get the highest affiliate sales and conversions.  We already know what a bump Pinterest is for traffic. The strategies included in Michelle’s course take it to a whole other level. Picture this: You create a stunning pin and include a direct link to your affiliate’s product page and that pin goes viral. Or, you direct people to a freebie and follow up with an email sequence that includes your affiliate link. It’s all in there. Promise.

5) Choosing the best affiliate marketing programs for beginners

Think affiliate marketing won’t work for your niche and focus? Think again! Just about every niche is included…new bloggers, parenting, finance/money, travel, crafts, DIY, food and recipes, healthy living, fashion, beauty, wedding, blogging, business…all of them.  No more excuses friend!

Michelle breaks down dozens of affiliates by niche, so you will definitely find programs that are ideal for your blog.

6) How to choose affiliate products

To be successful with affiliate marketing, you have to choose products that will truly appeal to your audience. This seems like a small thing, but is actually a biggie. Sometimes you can think you’re spot on with what your audience wants, when in reality, you could be completely off-the-mark. Michelle walks you through how to research your audience to make sure that the program aligns with your brand message. She also explains why you should only promote products that you actually use and love. The more focused and authentic you are, the better your conversions will be!

7) Tracking, worksheets, and spreadsheets

One of the things I’ve learned with online marketing is that you need planners and spreadsheets in order to reach your goals. You have to be specific with what you want to achieve, who you’ve reached out to, systems to track your affiliate programs, affiliate links, commissions, and more. This is one of the things I love most about Michelle’s course!

8) Why you need disclosures

I mentioned this above and it’s worth a nod here too. Some bloggers include their disclosure in a Privacy Policy page, others add it to the top of every blog post. You can even add it to the end of your posts to make it easy for people to spot.

Oops, one last thing!

I almost forgot to mention my favorite part of the course. Michelle breaks down exactly how she earned six figures from one single blog post! She shows you the strategies she used, including interlinking, cross posting, email sequences, interviews, social media, and more. That alone was worth it! Michelle’s course is a perfect step-by-step affiliate marketing course for beginners.

I’m soooo excited about this, friends, I really am. This is definitely going in our Blog Profit Plan series!

I can’t wait to share our successes. If you’re ready to make money with affiliate marketing but haven’t known where to start (or how to win at it!), I highly recommend Michelle’s course. You will love it!

Here are the details again:

To find out more about Making Sense of Affiliate Marketing, the course curriculum, and what you can expect to learn, click here. It’s very easy to follow. If you’re like me, you’ll want to comb through it at least 2x to grab all the juicy nuggets!

Let’s celebrate our successes! How have you made affiliate marketing work for you?

 

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A step-by-step guide and checklist for how to start an online business with no money. It includes my best tips for how to turn your ideas into a side hustle, make money blogging, and make money from home. #bloggingtips #startup #bloggerThis post is the second half of our Start a Business series, where I’m covering how to start a business with no money and only your laptop, an idea, and a workspace.

In the first part of the series, we covered the steps involved in launching. You defined your people, brainstormed future products, and created a working online brand.

Here’s the post again, in case you missed it:

Part 1: How to Start a Successful Blog with No Money (Part 1).

Today, we’re bringing things full circle and closing the loop. I’m drilling down on the two paths that will get us past launch and into the Growth, Hustle and Profit Phases of the DIY-Your-Business Blueprint.

#SIDENOTE This series is a deep dive into the four phases of the DIY-Your-Business Blueprint. I’m peeling back the curtain on each phase and sharing the specific steps to accelerate your growth and get to the next level as quickly as possible.

If you remember, in path #1, your focus is on building a platform BEFORE you launch your product. Here’s the sequence:

  1. Content
  2. Traffic
  3. Subscribers
  4. Product

Path #2 includes the same steps, only we’re switching the order of things and creating a product first and content last. Because the sequence is reversed, we’ll also look at different techniques for driving traffic and building your platform.

To make it extra easy for you, I’ve created a business plan template you can customize for your biz! Just click the image below to grab it.
Grab your Creative Business Plan Template so you can get started mapping out your freedom biz and reaching your goals!

Grab Your Creative Business Plan Template

PLEASE NOTE: In order to be able to edit and customize it yourself, when you’re viewing the template go to File and Make a copy, or you can simply download it as a Word doc or copy and paste it to your favorite program!

Let’s dig into path #1.

Path #1: building your platform first

Step 1: First, Create Content

When you’re starting your own business with no money and building your brand from the ground up, you need to be a content machine. Here’s what you’ll be creating in step #1:

  • Blog posts
  • Free resources
  • Share images
  • Videos

It’s a no-brainer that the foundation of your content will be blog posts, but before you dive in and start writing, let’s look at how we can bridge the gap between free content and your future products or services, right from the beginning.

First: Blog Posts

You know where I’m headed here, right? Even at the earliest stages, you need a strategy for blogging that goes beyond driving traffic.

While you can blog about anything you want, it’s a whole lot smarter to have an end goal for each post. You want to form content funnels that will ultimately lead people to your sales funnels.

If I’m losing you here, don’t worry about sales funnels just yet. We’ll get to those after you create your product (if you’re curious, this post explains them in detail).

My take on content funnels vs sales funnels:

Content funnels: Content on your website (blog posts, images, freebies)
Sales funnels: Content outside your website (webinars, email marketing, etc)

Content funnels initiate the relationship with your crew, and sales funnels seal the deal. This is where those earlier brainstorming sessions will pay off. When it’s time to sell your products, you’ll be one step ahead of the game, you ninja-planner, you. ????

Speaking of planning, how do you map out content funnels?

Great question! First of all, make sure you write blog posts around the products you will (or do) offer.

For instance, my readers are interested in learning more about:

  • Blogging
  • Social media
  • Business

These topics (or themes) become content buckets, and I use a simple Google Docs spreadsheet to come up with post ideas and future products for each subtopic.

Here’s what the worksheet looks like:

best business to start with no money

Now, if you’re thinking How can I even think about all of this when I haven’t even created my first post or product? It’s too much!

I get it! Seeing your ideas on paper, before you create them, can be overwhelming. This is one of those times where you don’t have to have everything set up on day #1.

Remember, all we’re doing at this step is making sure that the content you’re about to create aligns with your future goals.

You already have ideas about what products and services you want to offer, which means you have an end goal. Understanding how to start a business with no money means you need to keep that end goal in mind at all times.

A blog post is the first step readers will take on their journey to your end goal. Planning your content like this is crucial to make sure you lead them down the right path.

Still feeling overwhelmed? Here’s what I suggest:

Pick one product idea from your spreadsheet as your focus (meaning that this will be your first product). Change the other product ideas to a light gray font color, so that they’re barely visible and don’t distract you. These are product ideas for later on – down the road. Keeping them on your spreadsheet is just a reminder that any blog posts you write around have a confirmed purpose.

Free Resources

Here’s what our content funnel looks like with free resources (or content upgrades) added into the mix:

how to start an online business with no money

Can you see how free resources bridge the gap between your free content and products or services? Lovin’ it!

Over on our spreadsheet, we need to add another column so that you can figure out what free resources you want to offer for each post and product.

For example, here’s what my spreadsheet looks like now:

starting your own business with no money

Aim to make each free resource:

  • Targeted – Speaks to one specific person and address their most pressing pain point.
  • Easy to Digest – Short and simple enough to implement in one day. Checklists, cheat sheets, and swipe files work well.
  • Simple – Provides the simplest steps to get from A to Z. Covers one topic rather than multiple topics.
  • Actionable – Gives people simple steps they can move forward with and see results.
  • Build trust – Establishes your authority and primes people to buy from you in the future.
  • Spark Curiosity – Offers enough to ignite curiosity without giving away the farm, meaning that they open a door to future products.
  • High value – Provides real value that people would actually consider purchasing.

Let’s say you’re a fitness expert. Maybe you create a blog post about the five superfoods for weight loss. In the post, you include a Five Foods to Never Eat guide that people can download. The free guide will ultimately lead people to your paid 30-day weight loss program. Make sense?

What program should you use to create an Ebook or cheat sheet?

I’m glad you asked! I’ve always been a fan of InDesign. Having said that, the other day I tried Canva and was amazed at how easy it was to create this beautiful Ebook template:

what kind of business should I start?

First, I uploaded a background image to use on the cover. Then I added elements and fonts from Canva’s library. Once I was happy with the cover, I designed a second page to use as a template for all my interior pages:

businesses you can run from home

As you’re working in Canva, your drafts and templates will be saved to the dashboard, so you can always refer back to them and edit. When you’re happy with your Ebook, cheat sheet, or checklist, save it as a JPG or PDF, or share directly to social media.

Related: How to Build Your Blog Audience and Traffic

Share Images

I’ve used Canva, PicMonkey, and RelayThat to create blog post share images. Of these, I’d say Canva and RelayThat are the easiest (RelayThat is lightening fast – this in-depth tutorial will get you started).

Each of the tools has pre-made social media templates, so you don’t have to worry about sizing.

RelayThat

It doesn’t get easier than this! Choose a square (Insta), tall (Pinterest), or wide format (FB and Twitter). If you’re looking for Twitter headers, Facebook covers, and Pinterest board covers, RelayThat’s got templates for those too.

To change the size of your post, click on a new template and RelayThat will automatically update your design. All you have to do is keep on clickin’ until you find a design that makes your heart dance. 🙂

You can also use the “remix” feature to reposition your text on-demand. No more manually shifting elements around, trying to figure out the alignment. Woohoo!

simple business ideas

 

To remove the RelayThat watermark, you’ll need to upgrade from free to pro, which is $25 a month.

#ONMYWISHLIST I’d love to be able to change the dimensions of a given template, which is where Canva comes in…

Canva

Like RelayThat, Canva has pre-made templates for Facebook, Pinterest, Twitter, and Instagram. What makes Canva so powerful is that you can create custom templates for any size you need.

For example, you may want to extend the length of your pin. Easy peasy. What about that Ebook we created? That was a cinch too.

Speaking of which, we still need to add the Ebook to your blog post. With Canva, you can create a button image to make your Ebook stand out so that people know what to expect when they download it.

Here’s an 800 x 350px button image I made with Canva:

how to make money with no money

 

HEAD’S UP. Facebook and Twitter sizes can vary for the tools listed above. For instance, In RelayThat, a wide post is 1200 x 630px and in Canva, the size is 1024 x 512px. That’s perfectly okay. Just make sure that your Facebook/Twitter images are at least 1000px wide and use a 2:1 ratio.

Here are my recommended share image sizes:

  • Facebook, Twitter: 1000 x 500px (2:1 ratio)
  • Pinterest: 800 x 1200px (or longer)
  • Instagram: 1080 x 1080px

I’ve got the full scoop on social media images sizes here.

#PHOTOSHOPRULES Yessiree! With Photoshop, you can customize your stock images – which is a big deal when it comes to Pinterest.

The reason is that Pinterest can SEE your images (or thinks it can!) and will interpret your pins based on what it sees. When the algorithm comes across two pins using the exact same image, things get a little wonky and Pinterest doesn’t know which one to display. Not cool, friend!

So what’s the workaround?

Use Photoshop to make stock photos undeniably Yours by retouching, splitting, airbrushing, changing colors, and so on.

Ready to get started with Photoshop? Check out this tutorial.

STEP #2: Next Up, Get Traffic

Ahhh, traffic. Me like. ???? My four top traffic sources are Google, Pinterest, Twitter and Facebook Groups.

Google

For the past six months, I’ve been focusing HARD on search engine optimization, yo. I know many bloggers rely on social media alone for traffic, but top bloggers like Jeff Bullas and Pauline Cabrera get the bulk of their traffic from Google.

I figure there must be something to it, so SEO it is…

#GOSEO It takes a little while to kick in, but well worth the effort, in my book.

Since I started focusing on search engine optimization, I’m seeing more and more traffic from Google and attribute it to these three things:

  1. On-page SEO
  2. A high number of social media shares
  3. Links back to my posts

#2 and #3 are related. While having a high number of social shares isn’t a direct ranking signal, it does impact SEO indirectly.

Here’s how:

more people sharing = broader audience = more potential backlinks

The other SEO thing I’ve started doing is guest posting and commenting on high-quality blogs. With each guest post, I include a link back to one of my posts, and when possible, I include a free offer in my bio to encourage sign-ups.

Curious about what makes a blog “high quality”? There’s a handy tool called the Moz Domain Authority Checker that will give you the domain authority (DA) for any website.

easy business to start

A high DA is a fancy pants way of saying This website is predicted to rank well on Google. DA’s range from 0 to 100, with higher numbers meaning better quality. When I’m looking for guest post opportunities, I aim for websites with a DA of at least 30.

Related: The Ultimate Guide to SEO for Bloggers

Pinterest

Creative niches (bloggers, fashion, beauty, weddings, design, DIY, etc.) can get a lot of traffic from Pinterest.

With the right combination of . . .

  • Eye-guzzling graphics
  • Sexy headlines
  • Keywords and hashtags

. . . you can get thousands of repins.

One thing worth mentioning is that my Pinterest page views took a MAJOR nose dive a while back. Out of the blue, just like that, my traffic started tanking.

2.4 million, to 2.3 million, to 2.2 million, all the way down to 1.6 million page views in 6 weeks.

I went crazy trying to figure out what was going on. Want to know what I learned?

Here are some mistakes I was making:

Mistake #1: See the Pinterest share button on the image below?

business ideas

 

Share buttons make it easy for people to repin your post, and believe it or not, they have a lot to do with your traffic.

The mistake I made was to replace my Shareaholic plugin with Social Warfare and forget to activate the share button.

So instead of making my posts easy to share, I was making it harder. Please don’t make this same mistake, friend! Make sure you add share buttons to your posts and images.

Mistake #2: I had a handful of pins that accounted for most of my traffic, until one day they peaked and hit the end of their shelf life, meaning that they weren’t so viral anymore. 🙁

This is really more of a lesson than a mistake . . .

There’s this thing called “post fatigue” – much like ad fatigue – where people get tired of seeing the same images over and over. If you think about it, once people have clicked on your pin, they’re not as likely to click twice.

So what can you do?

Check Google Analytics (Behavior > Site Content > Landing Pages) to find the top 15 posts that drive the most traffic to your website.

Once you find them, here’s what you want to do:

  1. Create more pins for those posts. Some bloggers create up to eight pins for each post.
  2. Write more blog posts around the same topics. Posts that get traffic are topics that people want to know more about.

Mistake #3: I was sharing ALL of my pins through BoardBooster and Tailwind, even ones with very few shares and repins.

Out of pure frustration, I tried an experiment where I stopped sharing my “lonely” pins and started sharing ONLY pins that were the life of the party. I also started using Tailwind Tribes, and stopped sharing other people’s content as much.

Voila! My traffic and page views have started coming back, slowly but surely.

Twitter

Twitter is similar to Pinterest, meaning it’s what I call a “high-tolerance posting platform.” You can Tweet. A. Ton.

The reason that Twitter is my #2 source of traffic is because I have a large following and tweet between 30-40 times a day.

Sound like a lot?

Top bloggers post every 15 minutes, just sayin’. In fact, I think that’s the key to success on Twitter:

Make sure you share fresh, new content to balance out your evergreen content.

By evergreen content, I mean posts that are re-shared with a tool like SmarterQueue.

Now, you may be thinking How can I possibly tweet 40x a day? I only have a handful of posts!

I hear ya! As a new blogger, it can be hard to get traction from Twitter. Keep in mind that as your audience grows and you create more content, you’ll see the rewards of your hard work as you increase your posting frequency.

I also pin a tweet to the top of my page, like this one:

what business to start

Because more people see pinned tweets, they tend to get more traffic, retweets, and likes than other tweets. My pinned tweets always direct people to a blog post with a free resource or a landing page with an opt-in.

#ALWAYSBETESTING: One thing I’m going to try is using multiple tweet images for each post. I figure if I vary tweets the same way I vary my pins, people won’t get tired of seeing them over and over. I’ll keep you posted on how it works!

Related: 6 Insider Secrets for Driving Tons of Free Traffic from Twitter

Facebook Groups

I’m a member of ~30 groups and always share my posts on promo days for a nice bump in traffic each month.

Facebook groups are easy to find by viewing Groups in the left sidebar. From there, you can either Discover Groups or enter a keyword and filter the results by groups. Once you’ve found a few, make sure you play nice and make a note of the group rules, so you don’t get banned!

I use a spreadsheet to track promotion days for blog posts, products, freebies, and social media.

Here’s what my spreadsheet looks like:

best businesses to start with no money

 

Psst…I just started a Facebook group and would love, love, love for you to join.

Even though an online business is an easy business to start, building your platform and audience take time and serious effort.

When it comes to social media, you have to be prepared to put in the time every day, especially when you have a small (or no) following. If you’re ready to up your social media game, this post is a good read. I also recommend repurposing blog posts into other types of content so that you can share them on multiple platforms.

Related: How to Promote Your Blog Posts Effectively on Social Media

Step #3: Get Subscribers

Whew! You’re doing great! Totally crushing how to start a business with no money . . .

The next step is to level up your mailing list.

You’re already “gifting” your legendary freebies to readers (step #1 above). Now, it’s time is to set up your email system and create landing pages.

Some good options for email marketing providers are:

  • ConvertKit
  • MailerLite
  • MailChimp

And for landing pages, you can use:

  • The default templates provided by your email service (some offer them, some don’t).
  • LeadPages to build beautiful, high-converting landing pages (that’s an affiliate link).

Email marketing providers

I’ve experimented with a lot of email providers, including Aweber, MailChimp, Infusionsoft, Constant Contact, Campaign Monitor, and ConvertKit.

Hands down, ConvertKit is my favorite. I’ve even got a full tutorial on how to use ConvertKit to grow your business if you’re ready to get started.

Should you use ConvertKit too?

Great question! I say: Pick the tool that’s easiest for you to use. Ease-of-use was my top reason for choosing ConvertKit (yep, another affiliate link, but hey, I only recommend products that I use in my own business).

As I mentioned, if your email provider has landing page templates, it’s a win-win. We need those landing pages. 🙂

Other than that, make sure you choose one with high deliverability (aka: emails will make it to the inbox). I know both MailChimp and ConvertKit do, not sure about MailerLite. Please share in the comments if you use MailerLite. I’d love to know!

Landing pages

You may be thinking Why do I need landing pages? Can’t I just use a sign-up form in my blog post?

I’m so with you! That’s exactly what I thought. The whole landing page thing had me stumped for a while. I thought landing pages were optional, meaning that I could choose to use them or not.

I had it all wrong. Here’s why we need landing pages:

  • We can drive traffic to our blog posts AND landing pages, which means we have the potential to 2x traffic + sign-ups.
  • By embedding a Facebook pixel on each landing page, we can retarget people who visited the page later on.
  • There’s a chance people might read through the entire post and still not see the freebie. With a landing page, they won’t miss it.

Here’s a landing page I created for my free resource library:

easy startup business

See how there’s ONLY info about my free gift? No buttons, graphics, or text to take your attention away from the call to action. That’s the beauty of landing pages.

There are other ways to grow your list, including:

  • Webinars
  • Giveaways
  • Guest posting
  • YouTube videos
  • Facebook Live

Engage with your subscribers

Before we move on, I want to point out one thing that’s super important:

Try, try, try to email your subscribers once a week (especially important when you have yet to create a product). I know it’s hard, but if you can commit to once a week, you’ll be rewarded with increased sales later on.

The last thing I want is for all your hard work to go down the drain because people don’t hear from you – and then forget who you are.

Here’s the thing:

Some people will sign up for your free resource and peace out. We’ve all done it. It’s going to happen. And it’s perfectly okay.

It’s actually what you want!

When I first started building my list, I’d email my subscribers once a month (I’d tell myself it was only ten days, haha).

Part of the reason is that I’m a numbers junkie. I like to count, and I LOVE to count up.

Every time I’d email my list, I’d get dozens of unsubscribes which would freak me out, in a you’re-messing-with-my-numbers kind of way.

Now I understand that unsubscribes are a healthy way to keep your list clean. After all, if people aren’t interested in you or your business, they won’t open your emails, which means your email open rate will go down. We want that baby UP, UP, UP. With me?

The other reason for my infrequent emails was because I didn’t know what to say…

Sound familiar?

Here’s what you can do:

  • Send an email each week with a link to your latest post, podcast, video, etc. Try to infuse your email with a story to make it interesting.
  • Every other week or so, send an exclusive tip or freebie, just for your subscribers.
  • Use a few emails to interact with people – find out what interests them and what topics they’d like you to cover, and so on. Psst…This is a great way to come up with new product ideas.

Which brings me to…

Step #4: Create a Product

Whew! We’re just about there. You’re doing great.

Once you have 1,000 subscribers, it’s time to create a rough draft version of your product.

This is where we fill up the money bucket. Woo!

Note: When I say “rough draft,” know that this can mean anything from a landing page with information on your service or product plus a place for people to request more information and get a free resource while they wait . . . to a sales page that describes your product and pre-sells it . . . all the way to a full-blown, complete course ready for students.

By now, you should have a good idea of what products people would be interested in based on what they’ve downloaded.

Do they match your earlier brainstorming? If so, high five!

If they don’t match, or if you feel a bit flustered about which product to create, I recommend getting feedback from your subscribers about the challenges they’re facing and the types of products/content they’d like you to cover.

Bryan Harris even recommends emailing a segment of your subscribers your product idea and asking for feedback.

Let’s say you’re a graphic designer and want to create an InDesign course.

Your content funnel from step #1 above might look something like this:

easiest business to start with no money

The people who downloaded 10 Ways to Work Smarter in InDesign have raised their hand and expressed interest in InDesign.

Your next step is to email them some details about your product idea to get their feedback.

You can even ask for pre-orders from subscribers who responded. If you do this, it’s good to know how many pre-orders you’d need to validate your product idea.

What tools to use to create your products?

For courses, I use ScreenFlow to record screencasts (with both a Plantronics headset mic and a SmartLav lavalier mic) and PowerPoint to create my slides.

Then I upload everything to Teachable, which is a hosting platform for courses.

starting a business from home

What I love about Teachable is that all I have to do is focus on creating content. Teachable takes care of payments, enrollments, and other details.

If you decide to create an Ebook or other digital product, I recommend using InDesign for the design and SamCart for e-commerce.

Now, we need to connect your free resource to the product:

Back to the sales funnels I mentioned earlier, yo. Sales funnels are a biggie, and I cover them in more detail in this post.

Wrapping it up

At this stage, it’s time to revisit both your product hypothesis (based on feedback and other insights you’ve picked up) and your brand identity. Refine all of it . . . colors, fonts, social media templates, bio, descriptions, messaging . . . everything.

In the growth stage of your business, your brand is VERY important.

Think of it this way:

Would you rather pull up in a tired old Ford Escort or a brand new Porsche 911? No brainer, right? It’s important to provide people with an amazing ride, and much of that is conveyed through your blog design, tone, and messaging.

The same way that wearing the right clothes helps people define you, your online brand speaks volumes about who you are, what you stand for, and ultimately, why people should take notice.

Psst . . . If you’re ready to brand like a pro, the Build My Brand Toolkit will help you do it. To learn more about Build My Brand, click here.

Have I convinced you to start a business yet? Click the image below to grab the business plan template so you can map out your success path.
Grab your Creative Business Plan Template so you can get started mapping out your freedom biz and reaching your goals!Grab Your Creative Business Plan Template

PLEASE NOTE: In order to be able to edit and customize it yourself, when you’re viewing the template go to File and Make a copy, or you can simply download it as a Word doc or copy and paste it to your favorite program!

In my next post, I’m going to walk you through Path #2. See you there!

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How to Grow Your Blog Audience + Traffic | Ready to get your blog or business found by more people? This post is for you! It includes 4 things every blogger and online entrepreneur should do to get maximum visibility, build your list and create a platform for making money. Plus, it includes a FREE weekly blog planner to help you stay on track. Click through to view it!

How to Build Your Blog Audience Like You Mean Business | Here are 4 things every blogger and entrepreneur should do to get more traffic, build your list, and create a platform for making money with your blog. PLUS, it includes a free weekly blog planner so you know what to do each day to get maximum benefit. Click through to view it!Seems like forever since my last post and I’m having a heck of a time getting back into it, even though it’s been just 2 weeks.

Have you ever experienced that?

Where you fall off your blogging schedule for a bit, and when you try to get back on, you have to force yourself. Somehow it winds up being so much harder than it should be, right?

This struggle is what’s been on my mind lately and today, I’m sharing a blogging workflow to help you (and me!) stick to our blogging schedules like we mean business. This will be part 1 of my Build Your Blog Audience + Traffic series, where I will be digging into ways to improve your visibility and traffic, and ultimately, set the stage for making money with your online business.

Here’s what I’m covering in this post:

  • Knowing who you want to reach
  • Why you should be thinking about content funnels, even if you’re starting out
  • Setting monthly blogging + social media goals
  • Specific things to do each week to build your audience and reach your goals

Ready for it? Let’s dive in.

Step #1) Know who you’re trying to reach

Building your blog audience starts right here. This is such a biggie and worth mentioning again and again, even though you’ve probably heard it a hundred times!

The reason is because knowing your audience is the foundation of your entire business and online presence. And if you have a weak foundation, it’s hard to build up from there, with me?

To really build your blog audience, you have to solve one specific problem for one specific person.

If you want, you can download my Find Your Niche Workbook to help you zero in on your sweet spot – the intersection where your audience hearts what you heart, and your skills and passions allow you to charge premium prices. Just click the image below to grab it.

Click here to download my Find your Blog Niche Workbook!

Let’s say you’re all about nutrition and eating a healthy diet, and you want to pass on tips that you’ve learned to others so they can be fit and healthy too. Your goal is to sell nutrition eBooks and products that help people get from zero to fit with ease.

This is a great start, but we’re not quite there yet. “People who want to eat healthy” is too broad a market, especially in a crowded niche like health and fitness. Let’s dig a little deeper.

First of all, are you trying to reach primarily men or women?

In the fitness and health blogosphere, women typically account for about 75% of purchasing decisions, so my vote is to focus on women.

Ok, we’re really getting somewhere here, but we’re still skimming the surface with “Women who want to eat healthy”. Let’s dig deeper and narrow it down even more. To do that, it will help to look at why it’s hard for women to eat healthy.

I’m taking a quick stab here at a few pain points:

  • Truly healthy foods are not easy to find
  • Fast foods, in large portions, are everywhere
  • No time to research healthy foods, so you just eat what’s available
  • Don’t know how much to eat, what to eat and when to eat it
  • You feel like you “deserve” a treat during (and after) a hectic day
  • Bagel Monday’s and Pizza Friday’s at the office are hard to resist

I’m sure there are even more problems we can uncover, but this gets us on the right track. Do you see how by doing this, we can really start connecting your blog biz GOALS to what your target audience NEEDS.

This is where the magic happens, and why knowing your audience is such an important step. After all, how can you build your blog audience if you don’t even know who your audience is, make sense?

If we look at just a few of the pain points listed above, our target audience might start looking like this:

Professional women aged 30-55 who want to eat healthy but struggle with a busy schedule, not knowing the right foods to eat and not enough time to make complicated meals at home.

When you really get this right, you’re going to build your audience and traffic with ease. Promise.

Step #2) Think of blogging as a content funnel

To make this step extra easy, I created the Blog Business Plan Workbook where I show you exactly how to create content that converts into sales. This is just one of the many “foundation” and “advanced” strategies I cover in the workbook to help you build a profitable blog. It may be just what you’re looking for! Learn more about the Blog Business Plan Workbook.

Content funnels are one of those things where even thinking about them can make you feel flustered. You may be thinking What the heck is a content funnel, anyway?

Some people call them sales funnels. I prefer to think of them as content funnels mostly because I cringe at the thought of being salesy. If you’re curious, funnels are how you move people through a process of:

  • Getting to know you
  • Starting to like you
  • Trusting you as an authority
  • And finally, purchasing from you

The way you move people through a funnel is with content, which is why I think content funnels are what we’re really talking about here, more so than sales funnels. And when I say content funnels, I mean all content…blog posts, webinars, videos, podcasts, emails, sales pages…all of it.

See how thinking about it this way marries each blog post to a sales system?

Your content becomes a system of building blocks that are interconnected. When you write a blog post, what you’re really doing is setting the early stages for people to buy. Here’s what that content funnel might look like:

Thinking of blog posts as part of a content funnel will help you create a blog and social media plan that builds your audience and traffic quickly.In other words, a blog post leads to a freebie, which leads to a free course or training, which leads to a paid course or eBook. Can you see how this is all coming together here?

Now in terms of the funnel itself, consistent blogging will help people get to know/like/trust you. So my question for you is:

What would you like your audience to buy from you?

That’s a big question, I know. You’re probably thinking I have no idea what product to create. I really need more traffic right now before I can figure that out!

I get it. This is one of those things where starting with your end game is actually going to help you get traffic and build your blog audience faster. The reason is because you’re going to be laser focused with each post and frame it around your future products, even if right now you’re not sure exactly what those products are!

This means that you want to create content around what your audience most needs, and that content is going to be the “top of your funnel”. Over time, you’ll see which posts resonate the most with your audience and which products to create around them.

Can you see how step #1 helps us create bangin’ content funnels too? Let’s look at some of the pain points from our earlier example:

  • Truly healthy foods are not easy to find
  • Don’t know how much to eat, what to eat and when to eat it
  • Bagel Monday and Pizza Fridays at the office are hard to resist

Here are some blog themes that would be perfect launching pads for future products:

  • Theme #1: Quick, easy recipes
  • Theme #2: The mindset of eating healthy
  • Theme #3: Meal plans and diet guidance

There’s more to sales funnels than this, but for now, just start thinking about each post as having 2 jobs:

  1. To help your audience solve a specific problem
  2. To create a platform for future products and making money

3) Set monthly blog + social media goals

This is another area where starting with the end game will help you focus your priorities each week. From our Blog Profit Plan series, we already know the 4 things we need to focus on each month: content, traffic, subscribers, and profit.

So let’s say this month we want to:

  • Write 6 blog posts (content)
  • Get 35K unique visitors (traffic)
  • Build our list to 4,500 (subscribers)
  • Offer a free course that leads to a paid course (profit)

Your goals may look much different than this, and that’s perfectly ok. Maybe what you really want to do is to get your first 100 subscribers, or even to write your first few blog posts. Or, maybe you have an eBook you’d like to sell.

The point is to be very specific with your goals and know that you can achieve them, based on your schedule and where you’re at in your blog biz journey right now.

If you want, you can download my sample monthly blog plan that shows you the exact steps to getting more traffic to your blog posts and your business. Click the image below to download it.

Download my Blog + Social Media Plan to help you build your blog traffic and audience quickly and with ease!

Next, let’s look at how we’re going to achieve our monthly goals…

Step #4) Create a blogging workflow

If only writing a blog post was as easy as writing the post, know what I mean?

In reality, there are a whole slew of things to do if we’re going to build our blog audience and traffic like we mean business. A single post can easily take the whole week to create when you blog with intention, which of course is what you do!

You have to do things like:

  • Research post ideas
  • Create images
  • Promote the post
  • Create a freebie
  • Write an email delivering the freebie

And if we break that down even more, our list looks more like this:

Weekly Blog + Social Media Plan to get more traffic to your website

And our monthly blog calendar looks like this:Sample Monthly Blog + Social Media PlanWhew! It’s a lot. And all of it works like a machine to help you build the platform for your sales/content funnels we talked about. This is what’s really going to help us build our blog audience and traffic.

Here are the planner and checklist so you can start creating your own traffic machine. This is the same monthly plan that has helped me get 40K visitors and 4K subscribers in 3 months. Click the image below to download.

Download my Blog + Social Media Plan to help you build your blog traffic and audience quickly and with ease!

I came up with this blog plan after months of experimenting and trying to figure out a workflow that was easy to follow each week.

With this planner, you spread out individual blog tasks (and even batch them if you can). Remember, you’ve got more to do than just write a post if you really want to build your blog audience and traffic!

Here’s what “writing a blog post” looks like:

  • Research blog topics
  • Write the post
  • Make it SEO-findable
  • Create blog images
  • Create social media images
  • Create a freebie
  • Add the freebie to your post
  • Integrate the freebie with MailChimp, ConvertKit or other email platform
  • Proofread and publish
  • Share with your subscribers
  • Share on social media and other channels
  • Repurpose as a quick tip graphic
  • Create a second pin for Pinterest
  • Repurpose as a short video
  • Write more tweets and updates
  • Schedule updates, tweets, the video, and quick tip
  • Share to Facebook group promo threads throughout the week

I recommend spreading these tasks out over the week for a few reasons:

First of all, building your blog audience takes time and there are a lot of pieces involved. Trying to cram every piece into just a day or two will leave you feeling frazzled, kinda like you’re falling behind with all of it. Spreading it out will make you feel calm, centered and in control of your blog biz.

The other reason is that when you think about it, all of the tasks listed above are wildly different. It takes a different head to write a post than to create graphics or even a freebie. And it’s a completely different “techie” head for opt-in forms, email integration, sequences, and so on.

We already know how task-shifting can act like a lead weight on your brain. Too much task-shifting inside of any given day will slow you down and make you feel foggy. What we want is to speed things up, right?

So there you have it. That’s a wrap for part #1 of The Build Your Blog Audience + Traffic series.

Next up, we’ll drill down on a 7-day marketing plan to build your audience:

Part 2: 7-Day Blog and Social Media Plan

If you want, you can download the Social Media Planner I created and start working on your marketing plan right now. Click the image below to download it:

Download my Blog + Social Media Plan to help you build your blog traffic and audience quickly and with ease!
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Here's how you can start a successful blog for FREE! Click through to get started! blogging for beginners, become a blogger, blogging tips

Want to start a successful blog? This post is for you! I break down the steps for bloggers and entrepreneurs to start a blog and make money. Click through to learn blogging tips, how to make a blog on WordPress, blogging for beginners, become a blogger.
How to Start a Blog for Free | Step-by-step guide to start a blog that makes money. It includes blogging tips, how to start a successful blog, how to make a blog on WordPress, blogging for beginners tips, and tips on how to become a blogger.

Today, I’m covering how to start a successful blog with no money.

First, let me just say that I love being a blog’trepreneur. I believe it’s one of the most enriching experiences you can have.

There’s such a thrill that comes from being your own boss: You can blog when you want to blog, exercise when you want to exercise, run errands when you want to run errands and create products when you want to create products.

Only you can dictate what you should be working on and when you need to get it done, right?

And when it hits you that you’ve finally (finally!) learned how to start a successful blog, you pinch yourself until it fully sinks in: You can earn an income from anywhere in the world, even from your suitcase, if that’s what you choose.

What an amazing gift…

Still, there are times when you feel lost, like you can’t see your footsteps in front of you.

Being an independent is much different than working in a corporate environment, where you have status meetings, stakeholders, bosses, and deadlines to structure your day.

When you’re a team of one, deadlines can get tossed out the window real quick…

And your freedom feeling can turn into a drowning feeling even quicker.

Let’s get that freedom feeling back, friends!

Today, I’m showing you how to start a successful blog. My goal is to break down the steps and clear up any fuzziness you may have so that you can steer the course of your blog biz with ease.

Let’s assume that you…

…have nothing but a laptop, a few ideas, and skills/passion/knowledge about a number of topics. I’m also going to assume that you have a place from which to work (whether it’s your bedroom, a local café, your kitchen table, or an office) and are looking for:

  • clarity about which idea to run with
  • a clear direction to take you from idea to profit
  • specific milestones to reach
  • guidance on how to build your platform and your brand
  • monetization examples and models

What’s unique about an online business?

Back in the day, starting a business required money. You had to be able to pay for things like employees, a physical location, materials, labor, marketing (trade shows, brochures, print ads), and more.

Today, you only need what you have right now, lucky girl.

The internet has opened up a whole new world where we can leverage our minds and knowledge to build hugely successful online businesses – at little to no cost. We’re in an era of limitless possibilities and endless opportunities thanks to social media, Google, and global markets.

The question is: how do you go about creating products and services around the things you love to do so that you can earn an income from your blog?

I’m going to share my blogging tips with you right now.

But first, if you’re really ready to launch a blog that makes money, make sure you check out my Blog Business Plan Workbook. I cover all the steps you need to go from idea to launch and beyond! Just click the image below to learn more:

Blog Business Plan Workbook by Sandra at ConversionMinded

Let’s dig in…

Step 1: First, choose your niche.

This is a biggie.

First of all, let me say Yes, choosing a niche starts with your passions.

But you can’t leave it there. Starting a business on passion alone might not get you to the finish line. I say this because I’ve started many businesses based only on my passions and have fallen flat on my face. Ouch. 🙁

Here’s the thing:

Passions are beautiful and wonderful things, but how we relate to them can make us feel stuck.

In my case, I’d get so obsessed with my “passion of the moment” that I’d close myself off to other ideas that would have likely been easier to execute and more profitable.

So let’s do this…

Grab a sticky note and jot down a passion statement. Then grab another, and another. By passion statement, I mean statements about your interests, skills, and areas of expertise. Write one broad, open-ended statement on each sticky without getting too specific.

For instance, you might say that you are passionate about helping people improve their overall health. What you wouldn’t want to say just yet is that you are passionate about helping older people prevent diabetes. Before we drill down on deets like these, we need intel on what your people secretly want and need (coming up next!).

Keep writing until your passions are out of your head and on the table in front of you.

Now, look at them objectively and decide which one has the most potential to do two things:

  • Earn a full-time income
  • Attract a wide audience

Boom, there’s your niche. High-five!

Related: How to Choose Your Blog’s Niche and Focus

Step 2: Next up, find your one person

The most successful businesses I’ve launched have filled a specific need in the market.

A need that one person had.

A need that many people had.

We’re talking about target audiences. I prefer not to use this term because I don’t believe we’re shooting at our people with bullets and arrows (which is what I picture when I think “target audience”). Instead, we’re making authentic connections with real humans who have names, faces, interests, struggles, goals, and feelings.

Can you see them standing in front of you right now?

In this step, we’re going to bring them into focus. Here’s how:

First, make some initial assumptions.

Based on your experience and what you know right now, what groups of people might be interested in your topic or need the type of help or training your provide?

If you’re a web designer, you might assume that entrepreneurs just starting their business would be in need of web design and could use your information or talent.

Or, if you’re a fitness instructor, you may have worked offline with women at a local gym to help them get fit and be more active. You may not know specific details about them yet, and that’s perfectly okay. When I launched Conversion Minded, I was unsure about what types of entrepreneurs needed my help and how I could help them.

So I did a little research, which leads me to…

Research, research, research!

It’s time to take your initial assumptions and put them under a microscope.

I started by writing a few blog posts that I knew were off the mark, mainly because I had a vague picture of my people at the time. What helped me, and what may help you, was to research content with a high number of shares on Facebook and Pinterest.

Join Facebook groups relevant to your niche. You may have to hunt around a bit to find groups where members are actively sharing and engaging (vs promotional only). If you join in on the conversations, you’ll learn about your people, the topics that interest them, and how you can help.

Over on Pinterest, there are two ways to research your audience:

First, follow popular bloggers and make a note of any content they share that may be relevant to your people. I recommend documenting your research in a Google Docs sheet so you can always refer back to it.

If you want to step up your Pinterest game, make a note of repin counts. A high number of repins is a good indication that people want to know more about these topics.

Pinterest has recently stopped displaying repins, but you can easily work around it by using Tailwind. Psst…Tailwind is a must-have tool for growing your following, researching content, and driving traffic from Pinterest. If you haven’t already, you can sign up using my affiliate link below.

Tailwind Visual Marketing Suite

On Tailwind, there are two ways to view repins:

  1. Use the Content Discovery tool
  2. Join tribes

The Content Discovery tool is in beta, but the folks at Tailwind will add it to your account for an additional $4 a month, which is worth it in my book. You’ll see a light bulb in your left dashboard once they do.

starting a business with no money

Aaah, those numbers are a sight for sore eyes!

Tailwind Tribes are much like share-for-share threads in Facebook groups, only you’ll need an invite link to join them. Tribes with open invite links are easy to find (I found a number of them through Google) and look like this one from Stephanie’s Blogging & Entrepreneurship tribe:

get started with Tailwind Tribes

You can also find Tailwind Tribes for your niche by joining these Facebook groups:

Related: 14 Ways to Get Massive Traffic from Pinterest

Step 3: Next, brainstorm products

If you want to learn how to start a successful blog, you have to think about your end goal early on. You’re likely starting to get a picture of how you can help your people at this point. Now, it’s time to brainstorm products and services to bridge the gap between steps #1 and steps #2.

Get ready to fill up the money bucket. Woo!

Think about the general types of products you’d like to offer.

Does it make sense to offer one-on-one coaching? Do you want to package your knowledge up as videos or audio? Maybe you’re more comfortable with creating low-cost Ebooks and guides that require little on-going maintenance and support. Or, you may want to create templates and products and sell them on Etsy or Ebay.

As you work through this step, try not to limit your ideas to one product or monetization method.

There are many ways to make money with your blog, including affiliate marketing, sponsored posts, courses, digital products, coaching, and more.

If you’re a creative (graphic designer, copywriter, interior designer, photographer), you may want to offer freelance services. You can also combine services + products.

For instance, maybe you offer group coaching programs where you walk people through doing something step-by-step and individual coaching to help them implement what they learn. Then, you offer your services to fill in the gaps to help people accelerate their progress.

What products are you comfortable creating?

The product types you choose will largely be based on what you’re comfortable creating and offering. Ebooks and workbooks are relatively easy to create using InDesign or Canva. If you’re comfortable with technology, you can jump right in and create a full-blown course using Teachable and Screenflow (Mac) or Camtasia (PC).

There’s no one-size-fits-all here, friend. If you’re not comfortable offering a certain type of product, don’t do it! When I started Conversion Minded, the one thing I knew was that I didn’t want to work with clients anymore. I’d been freelancing for some years and wanted to scale my business beyond a one-on-one model, so digital products and courses made sense to me.

The same will happen to you: You’ll naturally gravitate to product types that suite your personality and skills. Do you love YouTube? Create a video course! If you’re more comfortable with images and text, creating an Ebook is a great option (this is where I started).

How quickly do you need money?

This is a biggie, and something we can’t overlook…

Products can take a while to create. I just finished creating my first full-blown course after working on it for four months. Woop woop!

Sooo…

If you need to earn an income from your blog, like – yesterday, you may need to offer consulting or coaching services, even if you feel burned out like I did (I freelanced much longer than I wanted because I had to).

If this sounds familiar, don’t sweat it. Work one on one with clients to start, then gradually shift to a one-to-many business model.

How should you price your products?

This one’s a biggie, so I’ll save it for a future post. For now, here are some quick thoughts on pricing:

  • Low-cost Ebooks and digital products: Range from $7–$47. Keep in mind that the higher price points ($35–$47) will allow you to grow your email list and generate a profit using Facebook ads.
  • Group coaching programs: Anywhere from $1,000 to $2,500 and up
  • Full-blown courses: Range from $99 to $999 depending on your value proposition and promise. As a general rule of thumb, if your course can deliver specific and measurable results, you can charge higher prices.

Ideally, you’ll offer a variety of products at different price points.

For instance, you may want to create a $47 Ebook and a $167 course around the same topic, another course for $497, and a group coaching program for $2,000.

Some of your peeps will have smaller budgets (raise your hand!) and others will have more to spend. By accommodating both groups of people, you’ll give them more options to choose from and create multiple streams of income.

Related: Create a Killer Facebook Ad Strategy for Your Email List and Products

You can leave your product ideas here or go ahead and launch a working product. If that’s your plan, read through and follow path #2.

Step 4: Create a working online brand

If you don’t already have a website, time to create one!

Nothing fancy, all you need is your bare-minimum brand identity. A simple landing page for a website will do.

You want to create your hub without spending a ton of time perfecting it. The reason is that you’ll likely make a lot of changes in your business over the coming months. We’re not setting anything in stone just yet, k?

For instance, when I launched Conversion Minded I knew my start was going to look much different than my finish. So, I gave myself a deadline of two weeks to create my online brand. Then, once I was crystal clear on my people and the direction I wanted to go in, I rebranded.

#MORALOFTHESTORY If you get sucked into design early on, you’ll have less time to start! Build your brand as quickly as possible. You’re going to have plenty of time to refine it later on. Promise.

What should you include in your brand identity?

Here’s what you need in your brand kit:

  • Logo
  • Social media templates
  • Colors, fonts
  • Website or landing page
  • Watermark
  • Favicon
  • Bio
  • Social media profiles
  • SM descriptions

Now, you’re probably thinking Sandra, you just said to move quickly, and there’s a lot here! How am I supposed to create all of this?

I hear ya! Sometimes things sound so easy ’til you dig in, right? Brand elements are one of those things you need to have in your back pocket. You want then when you’re ready to post on Instagram, you’re not struggling with image sizes, colors, or where to place your logo.

Psst…You can save time and use the done-for-you templates, logos, and graphics in my Build Your Brand Tool Kit. Click here to learn more the Build My Brand Tool Kit. 

The Build My Brand Tool Kit gives you everything you need to brand yourself like a pro! Click here to learn more.

Don’t forget your value proposition! Part of your brand identity process is to create your elevator pitch. Why should people read your blog? What’s your unique angle? Why should they buy your products or services? A value prop will help you get crystal clear on the unique value that only you provide, so that you can communicate it front and center on your website and in your content. I cover how to create value props in this post.

Wrapping it up!

You now have some initial product ideas, a direction for your blog, you know your people, and you have a brand identity and presence. Time to start building your platform, creating products, and building sales funnels.

If you’ve followed the Blog Profit Plan series, you’re familiar with these four buckets:

  • Content
  • Traffic
  • Subscribers
  • Products

These are the buckets you need to fill to accelerate your growth and amplify your profits quickly.

In my next post, we’re going to look at the strategy to filling each bucket in a way that “pours” seamlessly into the next.

Spoiler: There are two paths for bucket-filling:

Path #1: Build a platform first

In path #1, you’re building your brand and platform from the ground up. The sequence looks like this:

  1. Content
  2. Traffic
  3. Subscribers
  4. Product

See how we’re selling products as the last step in this model? That’s because we’re focusing on laying a foundation first.

Path #2: Create a product first

We’re switching things up and creating products first, then building a platform and driving traffic. Here’s the sequence for path #2:

  1. Product
  2. Traffic
  3. Subscribers
  4. Content

Which path is best for you? It depends on:

  • How quickly you need to monetize – if your answer is right away, start with path #2.
  • How well you know your people and what they need – if you need more time to research, go with path #1.

A big mistake I see a lot of people make is to try to take shortcuts.

Nope, shortcuts won’t work.

Here’s why:

Both paths require visibility in the market. First, people need to know that you exist. Then, they need to trust you before they can commit to a purchase.

This means that no matter which path you choose, the core of your growth strategy lies in steps #2 and #3: traffic and subscribers.

Of course, there’s a whole lot more to it than that. I dive into the specifics of each path in this post:

Part 2: How to Start a Business with No Money, A Laptop, and an Idea

Don’t forget to check out my Blog Business Plan Workbook. I cover all the steps you need to go from idea to launch and beyond! Just click the image below to learn more:

Blog Business Plan Workbook by Sandra at ConversionMinded

I hope this helps you learn how to start a successful blog. See you for part 2!

by

Looking for Tailwind Tribes to join? I’ve got a step by step guide to exploding your Pinterest marketing and traffic with Tailwind Tribes. Tribes are my new secret traffic weapon, and the best way to skyrocket your Pinterest growth. Grab my free printable list of Tailwind tribes for mom bloggers, travel bloggers, food bloggers, DIY/craft bloggers, and more. #pinterestmarketing #pinterest #bloggingforbeginners

Do you use Tailwind tribes for your blog or business?

I started using it when it was still in beta, back when my traffic was tanking, and I was desperate to get it back.

I wanted my pageviews back up, and quick, so I pounced on tribes hard.

At first, I’d stare at the dashboard wondering What the heck do I do? Which tribes should I join? How do I even submit pins, and which ones should I share?

Sound familiar?

If you’re itching to explode your reach through Tailwind tribes but feel a bit stumped with where to start, this post will help. I’m sharing everything I’ve learned to help you get maximum results.

And if you’re curious, tribes did help me recoup some of my lost pageviews. While it didn’t solve my bigger issue (not posting consistently), it sure gave me the bump I needed.

Now, about that bigger issue:

A huge lesson I’ve learned is that there are NO SHORTCUTS!! We absofreakin’lutely must create content on the regular if we want to see steady, organic growth.

You need to create and share content on the regular if you want to see steady, organic growth in your blog or business.Click To Tweet

But I digress, back to tribes. I can’t think of a better time to jump on the bandwagon. If you haven’t already, you’re just in time to join the party. Tribes have seen massive growth in the last few months, and new ones are popping up every day.

More tribes = more reach = more people exposed to your content.

Alrightie, let’s dig in.

Bonus: I created a tribes cheat sheet with a list of the most active tribes for many niches. It includes the activity and visibility of the best performing tribes, plus invitation links, member counts, and rules so you can easily join the ones you want. A complete life-saver! Just click the image below to download.

Use the Tailwind Tribes Cheat Sheet to start driving tons of traffic from Pinterest with Tribes

This post contains affiliate links, which means I may receive a small commission, at no cost to you, if you make a purchase through a link.

1) First, what is a tribe?

Tribes are a group of professionals who come together to share each other’s pins and give each other a boost in traffic, similar to share-for-share Facebook Groups – with a twist. Tribes are created around specific niches, industries, or interests, which means you’ll have a pool of content to share this is specific to your audience.

When you add your pins to a tribe, other tribe members can view, schedule, and repin it to their boards. This means you have access to the collective audience of your peers and can drive massive traffic to your posts, just by participating.

And you can hand-pick content you want to share with the tribe (and in turn, with your audience). Other tribe members can do the same. You end up with a continuous stream of hand-picked content as everyone contributes.

For example:

Let’s say you join a food tribe.

On Monday morning, you submit your avocado chocolate pudding pin and repin Mary’s eggplant lasagna to your Paleo board. Later that day, Harry, another tribe member, shares your avocado pin to his Delicious Desserts group board. On Tuesday, someone in Harry’s group repins it, which leads to 500 repins and 50 pageviews, just like that.

Can you see the snowball effect happening here? It’s that easy to get more traffic, reach, and repins through tribes.

Now, let’s drill down even more.

If you want, you can watch this video to see tribes in action:

How Do Tailwind Tribes Work?

2) How can tribes help improve your Pinterest rankings?

Now, I bet you’re thinking Curating content is nothing new. Been there done that!

You’re so right! Networking and sharing content is not a new strategy. There are sites like Feedly, Quuu, JustRetweet, Zest (my new favorite), plus engagement pods, share-for-share groups, and more.

Here’s the thing about Pinterest:

Both pin AND domain quality are huge ranking factors. When Pinterest sees you as sharing quality content that adds value, your pins will likely rank higher in search results.

Bottom line, the SmartFeed is watching everything we share, yo. ????

The more pins we can share (both original and curated) with a high number of repins, comments, and clicks, the better chance we have of getting traffic from Pinterest.

That’s where Tailwind tribes come in.

Remember back in the day, how easy it was to keep the SmartFeed happy? When we could tell which pins were popular by the number of repins? With Tribes, we get repin counts back, baby!

3) How much do Tailwind Tribes cost?

Tribes are add-ons (called PowerUps), and you don’t have to pay Tailwind to use them. You can access them directly from your dashboard, even with a free account. The best part is, you can also join tribes for free. #DOUBLEFREE

With Tribes Free, you can join five tribes and share 30 pins a month. And if you’re curious, that’s an aggregate number of pins across all tribes. I didn’t know that at first! Once you’re comfortable, you can power up to Tribes Pro and get access to ten tribes (80 total submissions) for just under $60 a year.

Pricing scales up from there. Here’s a breakdown:

Tailwind Tribes PowerUps Pricing

Ready to join Tailwind and start using tribes? Use the link below to get started:

Tailwind Visual Marketing Suite

I was so excited about tribes at first that I joined every single one I could find relevant to my niche.

Fast forward months later and it turns out that tribes are much like groups: Not all are created equal, friend.

Whatever you do, take advantage of the Tribes Free and start with five tribes. Track the performance for a month and use that data to weed out the good from the bad. Then power up from there.

4) How are tribes different from Pinterest groups?

Great question! As I mentioned, tribes are similar to groups in that some will perform better than others.

The point of participating in both groups and tribes is to:

  • Curate and share high-quality content
  • Drive traffic to your website and business
  • Stay on the good side of the Pinterest SmartFeed

The difference is that many groups are lame in terms of moderation. Group boards can easily turn into a moshpit of pins, with collaborators who neglect the board and rarely repin content. Because of this, groups have lost a bit of their mojo. There’s only a handful in any niche that will perform well.

Tailwind tribes come with a measure of accountability, so you can get some of that mojo back. What I mean by this is that every tribe member has to “share for share” according to the group rules or risk getting banned.

Why do I say “measure of accountability”?

Because it’s not absolute.

Tribe members don’t have to share your content at all. The only thing they HAVE to do is share pin for pin. They can choose other pins  and ignore your content entirely (which can and does happen!).

That’s why it’s crucial to track the performance of every tribe you join to make sure it’s working for you. More on that in step #6 below.

How do you join the right tribes?

This is a bigger question than you might think!

First of all, it should be a no-brainer to join tribes in your niche. You want the right audiences to see your content.

Next, since we know that some tribes will be rock stars and others will be total duds, joining the right tribes has less to do with finding them and more to do with evaluating them.

Let’s start by finding them.

Psst…You can save a ton of time by downloading this handy cheat sheet of the best-performing tribes in your niche:

Use the Tailwind Tribes Cheat Sheet to start driving tons of traffic from Pinterest with Tribes

5) How do you find the right tribes to join?

You can either join through an invitation or from the Tribes tab within Tailwind.

How to find tribes to join

 

From there, enter a keyword related to your niche.

Enter a keyword to find tribes

6) How do you evaluate tribes?

This is the thing that took me a while to get, and it’s a biggie.

You want to evaluate the quality of tribes in much the same waythat  the SmartFeed evaluates your domain. I recommend evaluating tribes before you join, and then monthly once you’re an active member (step #9 below).

  • Activity – how active are the tribe members?
  • Quality + relevance – are the pins high quality?
  • Rules – how many pins can you submit, what’s the share-for-share ratio?
  • Number of members – how many people have joined?
  • Visibility – what’s the process to join?

Activity

Once you enter a keyword, you’ll see a list of tribes along with the member count and overall activity.

(Activity is tribe-speak for engagement.)

The more bars the better.

From my experience, 3 bars or fewer means the tribe is a dud. You’ll wind up dumping a zillion tribe pins on your boards with little return. More bars, on the other hand, means the tribe has rock-star potential.

Check the tribe activity before you join.

Quality and relevance

On the left side of the search results is a Preview Tribe button (pictured above). Select that to preview the tribe’s members, pins, topics, and visibility.

Before you join, make sure the content is relevant to your audience and appears to be high quality. Some of the tribes I’ve joined have delivered poor results because they covered many different topics. While large tribes can be appealing, your pins can easily get lost in the shuffle if the topics covered are not specific to your audience.

This is where bigger tribes may not mean bigger results. I’ve found the more you niche down with tribes, the more likely your pins will be reshared and repinned.

Tailwind is the best Free Pinterest Scheduler

Tribe rules

Rules cover things like:

  • Maximum pins – the number of pins you can submit daily
  • Reposting – how frequently you can post the same content
  • Pin quality – image orientation and other deets
  • Blog topics – topics covered in the tribe
  • Types of posts – most are blog post only, meaning no pins to affiliates, products, or pages
  • Share ratio – number of tribe pins you have to share for every pin you submit

That last one is the one you want to pay close attention to.

I aim for tribes with a 1:1 share ratio. The reason is that I have enough of my own content to share and prefer to feature my pins more than others.

Now, if you’re just starting a blog and don’t have many original pins yet, a 1:2 or even 1:3 ratio may suit your needs perfectly.

Here’s what those ratios mean:

  • 1:2 = You share two tribe pins for every pin you submit
  • 1:3 = Share three tribe pins for every pin you submit
  • And so on…

Higher ratios mean you’ll have plenty of content to add to your Pinterest boards while you build up a content library of your own. Once you do, you’ll want to drop the ratio back down to 1:1. The reason is that if you create and share high-quality pins (which I’m sure you do!), you’ll likely find that your pins will get the most engagement.

Remember, the SmartFeed’s watchin’. ????

Number of members

These days, I’m all about fewer members. Smaller tribes rock for a number of reasons:

  • Your pins are more likely to be shared because they’ll stand out more.
  • You’ll have less competition.
  • The tribe content will likely be relevant to your audience, which means you won’t have to scroll through ten recipe pins to find one self-help pin.

To be fair, I haven’t formally tracked member size to performance. I just prefer smaller tribes and highly recommend them.

Visibility (aka Access)

This is a fancy word for “how to join the tribe.”

If you’re curious, you can view a tribe’s visibility by selecting that Preview Tribe button I showed you above. Visibility is right there under the description:

Check the visibility settings of tribes so you know how to join.

There are three levels of visibility:

  • Public – This one’s the easiest. You can join without approval.
  • By Request – Send the owner a request to join (which you can bypass with an invitation)
  • Secret – The only way to join is by invitation. Secret tribes are not searchable in Tribes.

There you go! With the five metrics listed above, you can evaluate tribes before you join to see which ones may be a good fit.

On to #7!

Don’t forget to download the Tailwind tribes cheat sheet below.

Use the Tailwind Tribes Cheat Sheet to start driving tons of traffic from Pinterest with Tribes

7) How many tribes should you join?

I’d say between five and ten to start. Again, make sure you track the performance after your first month, and monthly after that.

I joined a ton at first and had loads of fun sharing and submitting, but I sobered up quickly when I saw my boards carpet-bombed with literally hundreds of tribe pins. Say whaa?

A much better approach is to start small, track them all, and scale up from there.

8) How do you share to tribes?

The same way you schedule pins. Find a pin in your Pinterest feed and select the Tailwind logo. Then, instead of entering a board name, scroll down until you see the Add to Tribes button.

How to save Pinterest pins to tribes

Once you select it, you’ll get a pop-up window with a list of tribes. Select the tribes to which you want to submit the pin. Tip: Use those checkboxes on the left to select multiple tribes.

Choose which tribes you want to submit your pin.

If you’ve already submitted the same pin to a tribe, Tailwind will flag it and let you know. Easy peasy.

#PROTIP: If you’re like me, you’re a member of many tribes and active in only a handful (those high-performing ones!). You can zip through this step by keeping a spreadsheet of active tribes so you can easily see which ones to select.

Don’t forget! You still have to go back to Tailwind and manually share from each tribe according to the rules.

Ready to join Tailwind and start using tribes? Use the link below to get started:

Tailwind Visual Marketing Suite

9) How do you keep track of the pins you share?

Easy! That spreadsheet I mentioned in step #8 doubles as a tribe tracker. Use it to organize your pin and post URLs and keep track of the dates you share each pin.

If you’re curious, here’s what my tracker looks like:

The Tailwind Tribes Tracker by ConversionMinded

The tracker even triples as a reposting scheduler. Boom. You’ll know exactly when to recycle your pins, following the rules of your tribes.

Speaking of tracking, time to drill down on stats…

How do you track a tribe’s performance?

We’ve talked about how to evaluate a tribe before you join it based on the overall activity, rules, members, and so on.

Once you’re an active member, you’ll want to drill down on the tribe’s performance as it relates to your pins.

The way to do that is to create your OWN share ratio. And I’m going to show you how to do that right now!

10) How do you create your own share ratio?

Beneath the rules for each tribe, you’ll see stats for reshares, repins and reach:

Track a tribe's performance of your pins to see if you should continue participating.

Just so you know, those are aggregate numbers across all of your submitted pins.

To calculate a tribe’s performance, divide the number of repins by the number of reshares.

For example:

In the Digital Marketing tribe above, my pins have received 49 repins and 259 reshares. That means the tribe members have shared my pins with their audience 259 times, and I’ve received 49 repins from those reshares.

49 / 259 = .189 or 18.9%

This means that my average number of repins to reshares for this tribe is roughly 19%.

Anything over 10% is a high-performing tribe, in my book, so that’s the yardstick I use to size up other tribes. I either leave or stop contributing to tribes that perform lower.

What should your ratio be? You’ll have to decide based on your tolerance level AND the average performance of your collective tribes. If most of your tribes perform at 5%, you may want to use that as a benchmark for other tribes. Or, maybe you search for tribes with better potential.

That’s a wrap! How about you? Have you used Tailwind Tribes to skyrocket your Pinterest traffic? I’d love to hear your feedback!

Don’t forget to grab the tribes cheat sheet with the most active tribes for each niche. It’s so easy to measure the performance of tribes when you have all your stats in one place.

Use the Tailwind Tribes Cheat Sheet to start driving tons of traffic from Pinterest with Tribes
by

Have you found gorgeous styled stock photography to use in your blog? Need some inspiration to create branded blogging pictures? You’re in luck! I’ve got an amazing Picmonkey tutorial that shows you how to edit free stock photography to fit your brand so you really stand out on social media. It even includes a free downloadable set of ULTRA beautiful, creative photography you can start using today. stock photo resources / stock photography ideas / feminine stock photosBy Aminta Demadura

Have you ever come across styled stock photos you absolutely love, and then wondered how you could make them fit with your brand?

I wondered the exact same thing.

And as it turns out, adding your own branding to modern stock photos is really easy!

Branding and customizing stock photos is a super important step in creating a unique business that your readers and customers absolutely love. This type of branding helps your followers relate to you, form a connection with you, and in the end, purchase from you.

So it’s important that your visuals represent who you are and what you do.

In this post, I’m going to show you how to create social media graphics that stand out above the rest using styled stock photos (and my favorite tips to customize them and make them your own).

Before we get started, let me show you the original styled stock photo we’ll be working with below:

super high resolution stock photos

If you’re curious, styled stock photos are created with entrepreneurs, bloggers, and business owners in mind. I like to think of them as “startup stock photos.” They’re incredibly handy when you’re starting out and don’t have the time, expertise, or space to take your own photos.

Styled stock photography makes use of props (office supplies, household items, plants, stationery, flowers, mugs, and so on), and can range from flat lays, to mock-ups, close-ups, and still lifes. And with the rise of free feminine styled stock photos, there are new sources popping up every day.

Let’s have some fun and see how you can make this image fit your brand.

1) Use Fun Filters to Brand Your Photos

My favorite free image editor is Picmonkey. If you’re a Canva fan, that’s fine too (I won’t hold it against you!), but I find Picmonkey to be more intuitive, easier to work with, and I love that it comes with SO MANY features.

In the images below, I added a simple filter to each of the photos. Specifically, the Yester-year filter and the HDR filter.

how to create social media graphics free

As you can see, a filter can really change the mood and vibe of a photo, which is perfect if you’re trying to add your own style to a stock photo. Picmonkey has many, many filter and effect options, so spend a little time going through them and find out what works best for your style and the photos you have to work with.

(If Photoshop is more your style, you’re gonna love this tutorial.)

2) Use Effects to Make a Photo Instantly Unique

Have you checked out Picmonkey’s effects yet? If not, you’re seriously missing out. Effects are the fastest way to make bold changes to a photo that really makes it your own. In this image, I used the sunglow effect to add a radiant center with a vintage tint to the original image.

startup stock photos

I love using these types of effects for social media, especially Instagram. Trust me, there’s nothing worse than finding a ton of other accounts using the same feminine stock photos as you in their feeds (hint: It’s not good for branding!)

And if you want to get really wild? Try layering two or three effects and see what you get. Many combinations look really cool together.

Effects are the fastest way to make bold changes to a photo and really make it your own.Click To Tweet

3) Gradient Overlays Are In

Here’s a fun one. If you want a super fast way to add your brand colors to an image in a unique way, try adding a gradient overlay, like this:

free open source stock photos

 

I always hear bloggers complain about how hard it is to find styled stock images that fit their brand colors. But the truth is, it doesn’t have to be!

With a little creativity you can take almost any image you love and customize it to suit your brand style. Make the gradient as light or dark as you want to get the right look, and know that if using a lighter photo, it may work best if you’re not going for that Lisa Frank look.

4) Take Horizontal and Vertical Crops of the Image

Depending on how detailed the original image is, you can easily squeeze another 10-20 images from it by cropping it in different parts of the photo:

feminine stock photos

Vertical crops are great for Pinterest and square crops are best for Instagram. You can also take horizontal crops like the one shown above to use in your blog posts and tweets.

On top of that, you can also create header images for Facebook, Twitter, and your blog by taking super wide but short crops of your image. How cool is that?

And if you want even more options beyond just cropping, try flipping, rotating, or changing the angle of your cropped versions.

5) Create Pinterest Pins that Stand Out from the Crowd

If we’re being honest, we all know it takes some amazing looking pins to really “make it” on Pinterest. They need to be bold, beautiful, and easy to read. They need to entice people to click through to your blog.

This is where making some savvy edits to free styled stock images can really help you make attention-grabbing pins.

how to create a pin in Pinterest

In the pin above, you can see that I added a filter to the cropped image to make it a little more artistic. Then I added a transparent white box, my brand fonts, and my logo to complete the pin.

BAM. You’re done.

6) Make Inspirational Graphics to Connect With Your Audience

Inspiring your audience and encouraging them to return to your blog over and over is a big part of any blogger’s job. You need to motivate and inspire your readers to really form that connection, and inspirational graphics can be a great way to do just that.

Thankfully, making inspirational graphics is easy and quick.

In the photo below, I simply added a darkening filter to the vertically cropped image that I extracted from the original. Then, I added a large white script font over the top of the darker areas to create a unique and attractive, inspiring image.

how to use PicMonkey for free

If you aren’t already, I highly recommend you try out this tactic on Pinterest and Instagram. Both platforms are super visual and people loooove inspirational images on them. Give it a shot – I promise you’ll see a little boost in traffic and engagement.

7) Feed the ‘Gram with Some Branded Squares

Does the thought of having to come up with yet another amazing photo for Insta ever give you a little anxiety? Yeah, me too. It takes so many photos to really grow a large Instagram following, and most of us just don’t have the time to plan, shoot, and edit that many photos.

If that’s your predicament, this tip will help. I recommend taking a bunch of square crops from different parts of your original styled stock photo (step #4, above).

Then, make them even more unique by flipping or rotating them in new directions, and adding filters and effects to really amp up the style. There are seriously hundreds of different possibilities you could make here, so spend about 30 minutes tinkering in a free image editor. You’ll be creating your own Instagram styled stock photos in no time!

8) Create Promotional Graphics that Make People Click

Once you have a product for sale, you’ll need to start spreading the word. Promotional graphics (used sparingly) on Pinterest, Twitter, Instagram, and other social media accounts will let your followers discover your new products and will help give you some social cred.

amateur stock photos

 

You can see from the image above that not only did I crop it, I also rotated it to a completely new angle. After that I added a pretty script font on top of an overlay to help promote the sale.

9) Make Twitter Images that Stop the Scroll

If you’ve been on Twitter more than once or twice, you know that tweets with pictures are waaay more noticeable than text-only tweets.

Standing out is an important part of gaining Twitter followers and encouraging your current followers to actually click through and read your blog posts. Images play a huge part in catching the eye and enticing the reader to click through. Not only that, but they also help to establish your brand and your professional image.

Lucky for us, making Twitter images is a cinch. I use Picmonkey’s Hub to save templates for each of my graphic types.

instagram styled stock photos

Once the template is there, all I have to do for each new image is go in and change the text and background image. Three minutes, tops.

Where Will You Go from Here?

Is your brain overflowing with ideas on how to doll up your own free styled stock photos? Once you’ve gone through the editing process a few times, you’ll quickly find that it’s really easy and makes a huge difference to the visual appeal of your business.

I highly recommend creating branded templates for Pinterest, Instagram, and Twitter using an editor like Canva or Picmonkey. Templates will save you so much time, and they’ll also help keep your branding on track. Good luck!

Before you go…

Don’t forget to grab your free styled stock photos pack right here! This pack is perfect for blog posts, Pinterest pins, Instagram posts, tweet images, and more. And of course, you can customize the photos as much as you’d like using my digital photo editing tutorial above.

Click the image below for your free high-resolution stock photos download:

free high resolution stock photos download

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How to Write a Blog Post that SellsDo you want more customers?

Want to know how to format your blog posts for more subscribers and sales?

Blogging is a powerful way to build your business when you have a strategy in place that goes beyond putting words on a page and getting people to read them.

Today, I’m sharing how to excel at blogging as a way to grow your audience, increase sales, and convert readers into customers.

BONUS: Before we dig in, I created this high-converting blog post cheat sheet to help you put what you learn into action.

Grab the high-converting blog post cheat sheet!

Step #1: Research blog topics that perform well

The first step to converting more customers through blogging is to write about topics that your audience wants to read.

If you’re struggling with this step, use these tools to discover topics with a high number of social media shares and Google searches.

BuzzSumo

BuzzSumo is a powerful content research tool that will help you gather information on what has performed well on social media in any industry. Both paid and free versions are available, and you can use it to discover viral content with a high number of retweets, likes, repins, and shares.

Enter a keyword into the search bar and you’ll see which content has the highest number of shares on Pinterest, Twitter, Facebook, and LinkedIn.

how to become a blogger with an incredible online community using BuzzSumo.

Keyword Planner

The Google Keyword Planner is my first stop when I’m out of blog ideas. It’s a free tool that will show you the important terms people are searching for on Google.

To get started with the keyword planner, enter your keyword. Then, enter your targeting and use the keywords filters to refine your search. I recommend filtering your results for low competition.

You’ll see search results for your original keyword plus a list of related keywords.

blog writing tips using the Google Keyword Planner

When you have all the keywords you want, click Review Plan. On the next screen, click the Keyword tab, choose a date range, and enter a high bid to make sure you see all the results.

Now, you can see the actual monthly search volume in the Impressions column, which will give you an accurate view of how many people are searching for your blog topic. I aim for at least 1,500 searches.

Want to know how to create a blog that people want to read? Use Keyword Planner to find out what people are searching for around your blog topic first.

Facebook Groups

I’m in a number of Facebook Groups related to blogging and entrepreneurship and have discovered interesting blog ideas from questions members ask. When I see a question that has been asked many times, it goes on my worksheet as a potential blog topic.

To get started with Facebook Groups, select Groups on the left-hand side of your dashboard. Then select Discover from the top menu to see a list of suggested groups based on the pages, posts, and groups that you’ve already liked, shared, or joined. You can also use the top search bar to find groups relevant to any keyword or niche.

If you manage your own Facebook group, why not ask your group members what they’re struggling with related to your niche? Then use their answers as inspiration for future blog posts.

Psst…I would love for you join my Facebook group! You’ll have multiple opportunities to promote your business and be part of an inclusive network of encouraging, supportive people.

Quora

Quora is the hub of questions and answers and an excellent way to find out what people are asking around your niche.

To get started with Quora, log in with your Gmail.

Enter terms or keywords related to your niche and you’ll see discussions and questions appear in your feed. Note the questions where you can provide value, look at what others have answered and make notes on how you can improve upon their answers.

#2: Pick the Winning Blog Ideas

It’s time to document your research and decide which blog topics will make it on to your editorial calendar.

I use a simple Google doc spreadsheet to track the topics and questions that seem to be popular:

  • Original blog idea
  • Target keyword
  • Number of monthly shares
  • Number of repins and FB shares
  • Some notes about the problem the topic solves for my audience
  • Some notes about a product the topic idea could lead to: Does it lead to a sales funnel opt-in? Will it help me make more sales?

Use the blog ideas worksheet to create a powerful blog writing format.

The goal at this stage is to narrow down your ideas to those that are both popular with your audience and align with your business goals. There’s no shame in sharing something supervaluable that helps your readers and grows your business. In fact, that’s why you’re blogging in the first place!

Once I’ve picked topics that I think are winners, I’ll make additional notes about content pieces that I think are particularly interesting so that I can start to frame an angle for my own content. For each piece I’ll note the following:

  • Title/headline
  • Blog post URL
  • Some notes about the piece itself: why it’s helpful and what I like about it
  • Any gaps in the content: where I can improve upon it

Step #3: Format your post for easy reading

When I first started blogging, I’d jump right in and start writing. Before I knew it, I’d go rambling on and on and forget the original points I wanted to make.

The solution to this problem is to create an outline to help you stay on track and to give your post an easy-to-follow structure. When people read your blog post, you want them to be able to spot sections that interest them right away.

Follow these steps to format your blog posts:

Make your post highly valuable. Look through your notes and pinpoint where you can provide more value for your readers. Can you make your article more visually descriptive? More detailed? Longer? How will you fill in the gaps in other people’s content? Be sure to aim for more than 1,000 words for each blog post.

Divide your post into smaller chunks. Long paragraphs and blocks of text can make your post seem like hard work and scare people away. Instead, divide your blog content into smaller sections to make it easy for people to spot what they want to read. Use headings, bullets, short paragraphs, and even short words (“hard” vs. “difficult”).

Show people how to do something. Instead of telling people what to do, show them how they can do it. Dive deep and give people easy-to-follow and actionable steps. Include screenshots and other images to help your audience understand what you’re saying.

Step #4: Add a content upgrade with a clear call to action

Now that you’ve set the foundation for your post, it’s time to build your audience and get more subscribers.

Remember that having someone simply read your blog post is not your end goal with blogging. You want your blog content to be the first step in his or her journey to becoming a customer.

That’s where content upgrades come in.

What is a content upgrade?

A content upgrade is bonus content that your readers can receive in exchange for their email address.

Content upgrades are similar to lead magnets in that you encourage people to opt in. What makes them so powerful is their contextual relevance both to your article and to the intent of your readers.

Here’s an example:

In my social media strategy blog post, I include a button that readers can click to download a blueprint so that they can put what they learn into action.

A box will then appear that asks them to opt in to receive the blueprint:

How to write a blog and make money

By using unique content upgrades for every blog post, I’ve been able to build my email list to more than 11,000 subscribers and sell my digital products. In fact, content upgrades are the main focus of my list building right now.

Think of it like this:

Visitors land on your blog post because they have a problem, your post educates them about the solution and your content upgrade helps them take the next step.

Can you see how content upgrades can convert at amazingly high rates?

The way I see it is that the more content upgrades we can create the faster we’ll increase conversions and grow our email list.

Here’s how to create your content upgrade.

You can create any type of content upgrade with Canva. For the purposes of this article, I’m going to assume that you’re offering a free Ebook.

First, create an account with Canva. Next, use the Blog Graphic as a template and resize it to US letter size, which you can do here:

Use Canva to learn how to blog using visual content.

This first page will be your Ebook cover. We’ll create the interior pages later.

To customize your cover design, select a background color from the left-hand menu or choose a free photo through Elements –> Photos.

The free version will give you access to everything you need to create and download your Ebook. If you want access to premium images and vector elements at a discount, the paid subscription starts at $12.95 a month.

To find free images specific to your industry or blog topic, enter a keyword into the search bar. Be prepared to scroll through dozens of premium images that you can purchase for $10 (free accounts) or $1 (paid accounts). Purchasing the image will also remove the Canva watermark.

Blogging for beginners using Canva to increase traffic.

You can also upload stock photos or images from your own library using the Uploads tab.

Once you’ve selected your background image, drag the corner edges, and resize it to fill the canvas. I like to add an overlay to my background to help my title text stand out.

To do this, select Elements –> Shapes and click on the top left square to place the shape onto your canvas. This will automatically position the graphic on top of your background image. You can rearrange the order if you need to by clicking on Arrange in the top menu.

It's easy to arrange your graphic elements and create powerful blog posts examples.

Next, select the text tool, add your title, and choose the styles you want to use. With a paid account, you have the option of saving brand elements, colors, and fonts to streamline your image creation process.

The last thing to add is your logo, which you can do by selecting Uploads –> Logo and uploading a png or jpg version.

Once you’re happy with the cover, it’s time to populate your pages with copy.

Add a new blank page, paste your copy into a text box and customize the design of your interior page.

Create a simple ebook using Canva.

When you’re finished, save your Ebook design and download it twice:

  • as a PDF
  • as a PNG

You’re done!

Now it’s time to add the content upgrade to your post.

We’re back in Canva to create a graphic button that grabs people’s attention and inspires them to click.

Create a new design using any template. Then resize it as a Twitter Post, and upload the PNG of your Ebook cover.

Next, change the background color so that your graphic button stands out in your post. Add lead-in copy and a square shape to use as the background for your call to action copy (“Yes, Please Send!”).

Your new graphic button will look something like this:

how to create a blog

We’re almost there! The last step is to download the button as a PNG and upload it to your WordPress Media Library.

Finally, add the opt-in form.

The opt-in form is what people will see when they click on your button.

Follow these steps to create a leadbox with LeadPages (you can also use Sumo or Thrive Leads for the opt-in form).

Log in to LeadPages, select Leadbox, and give your new leadbox a name. Next, replace the template image with the image of your Ebook cover. Add a heading, and customize the design of your text and button.

Content upgrades are a powerful way to learn how to write a blog and make money.

The standard template includes a phone field, which you can easily remove by selecting the integration button in the left sidebar. While you’re there, make sure you integrate the form with your email marketing service and test that it’s working correctly.

When you’re ready, publish your leadbox, and copy the image link code.

Publish you landing page on your website to increase conversions.

Next, in your blog post, switch to the text editor, and paste the code where you want your graphic button to appear. The last step is to replace the image source in the code (src=”=s0″) with your button image. To do this, copy the URL from the image in your Media Library, and paste it in between the quotation marks.

Call to action example

That’s it! Now when people click on your button, they will see your pop-up and can opt in.

Where should you place your content upgrade?

Ideally, you want to give readers several reminders to download your content upgrade. I recommend placing it directly after your introduction, in the middle of your post, and again at the end of your post.

Remember that the more you scale this process, the more email subscribers you can get. You can even include different content upgrades to give people many different options, assuming that each free offer is relevant to your post.

Once you have ten or more content upgrades, you can combine them into a resource library or welcome pack to give people an even bigger bonus. The benefit to subscribers is that they will have all your free content in one place rather than having to download each free resource individually.

Resource libraries are easier to create than you may think. You can use the WordPress Portfolio Plugin or a similar portfolio plugin. Make sure you password-protect your resource page so that only your most engaged readers have access to it.

Password protect the resources page so that only people who opt in can access.

The free resource library is one of my highest converting opt-ins. I add a CTA button at the top of my homepage and blog pages as well as at the end of every post.

Step #5: Create the Right Type of Offer

While there’s no right or wrong content upgrade, not all content upgrades are equal.

The trick lies in knowing which ones to create. When you offer your readers something that’s a perfect fit for why they visited your website, they’re much more likely to opt in.

The best content upgrades are:

  • Targeted—Speak to one specific audience, addressing their most pressing pain point.
  • Relevant to your post—You’ll see the highest conversion rates when your content upgrades fulfill the intent your readers had when they came to your blog post.
  • Time-saving—Give people the option to save long-form articles for later if they’re too busy to read them right now.
  • Actionable—Provide your readers with easy-to-follow next steps that they can implement to see results right away.
  • Open-ended—Create a path to future products by inspiring curiosity without giving away the farm.
  • High value—It goes without saying that your content upgrade should provide real value. It’s important to reward the people who have opted in to your email list with something that casual readers don’t get. If your content upgrade is something that people would actually consider paying for, you’re on the right track.

What type of content upgrade should you use?

The first step in choosing the right type of offer is to identify a resource that will extend the value of your blog content.

Here’s a list of content upgrades and the types of content they work well with.

Checklists. Checklists are usually one-pagers that are perfect for how-to and long-form articles. You can outline specific steps people need to take to achieve something. For instance, I know that search engine optimization has a lot of moving parts and that my readers, like me, will have a hard time keeping track of them all. So I offer an SEO checklist upgrade that they can keep on hand for every blog post.

Templates. Examples of templates include social media templates, business plan templates…even productivity templates. In many of my posts related to productivity, I offer readers a time-blocking template they can use to schedule their week effectively.

Download my Time Blocking Template to help you increase productivity and get even more stuff done each week!

Cheat sheets and blueprints. Cheat sheets are like a shortcut to the finish line. They work well for detailed articles and give your readers a high-level view of the milestones involved in getting from point A to point Z.

Ebooks. If your blog posts are part of a series or related to a theme that takes readers on a journey, an Ebook is an easy way to create a content upgrade. For instance, I have a three-part Grow Your Audience series where I show readers how to accelerate their online business growth. Because the blog post are related, each one can serve as a separate chapter in an Ebook and lead seamlessly to the next.

Spreadsheets. Spreadsheets provide a level of organization that makes it easy for people to research, brainstorm, plan, or manage systems and processes. I create Google Doc spreadsheets for many of my blog posts related to planning and workflows so that my readers have something to refer back to and share with their team.

Workbooks. Workbooks help your audience go beyond learning a concept and start putting what they learn into action.

The Blog Post as PDF. A straight PDF of your article may be the easiest route to take. With that said, offering long-form blog posts as a PDF (3,000 words and up) can provide great value for readers who are pressed for time and want to read your content later.

That’s a wrap!

If you’re thinking that content upgrades seem like a lot of work, I get it! Creating high-converting content upgrades takes time and effort, but that time is well spent. Content upgrades can have exponential effects on building your email list and should be seen as an investment in acquiring future customers.

From here, it’s all about engaging with your new subscribers, providing value, value, value, and creating sales funnels that lead people to your products and services.

If you’ve taken the steps above and created your free content around topics popular with your audience and the products and services that you offer, leading people to a sale will be a natural, organic process because you’ll know that your audience truly wants your products.

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Start a Blog with WordPress | Ready to start your blog but not sure what to do? There’s just a handful of things you need to start a blog with WordPress quickly and easily. Click through for all the steps!
5 Easy Steps to Start a Blog in 20 Minutes | There’s just a handful of things you need to start a blog with WordPress, and I've got them right here for you. Click through to start now!
Beginner's Guide to Blogging: Here's how to use WordPress to create a site. You can do it in just 20 minutes!Beginner's Guide to Blogging | Ready to start your dream blog but not sure what to do first? This series is for you! It walks you through how to create a blog with WordPress step by step, plus how to amplify your growth FAST!

How to Start a Blog | Ready to start your blog but not sure what to do? There’s just a handful of things you need to do and this guide will walk you through all of it. Click through to get started!How to start a blog? How long will it take? What’s involved? What’s the next step after I start? Will I need help to do it?

These are the types of questions I ask about every project I’m about to start.

Then what usually happens is I get freaked out by this huge mountain of stuff I need to do and think maybe (just maybe!) I didn’t need to know every single thing right from the beginning. Maybe all I needed to do was take the first few steps.

Starting a blog is kind of like that.

It’s easy to feel intimidated at first, but the mountain isn’t really a mountain. It’s more like a bunny hill. You only need a handful of things, and you can set it all up pretty quickly, which I’m going to show you how to do right now!

Before we dig in, I’ve turned this post into part 1 of The Launch series, which I’m hoping will be a useful guide to help you start AND grow your blog.

Here’s what’s included in the series:

Ready for it? Let’s create a website!

Wow. This step-by-step guide is insanely helpful if you want to set up a WordPress blog. Woo!Click To Tweet

This post contains affiliate links.

HOW TO START A BLOG: A STEP-BY-STEP GUIDE

1) Purchase a domain

First thing you want to do is to lock down your domain. This part is fun and easy!

You can either use GoDaddy or Bluehost. If you decide to use GoDaddy, you’ll pay somewhere around $12.00 for one year, and then every year after that you’ll need to renew. Note that the price comes down significantly if you purchase your domain for longer, say 2 or 5 years.

If you follow step #3 below and choose Bluehost for web hosting, you’ll receive a free domain name upon purchasing your hosting. Want to see if your domain is available? Just enter the domain name you want below. Keep in mind that you may have to try some variations if the name you want is already taken.

Check to see if your domain is available:

Once you’ve finalized your domain name, I recommend purchasing it for five years. Generally speaking, Google sees a longer commitment as a sign that your business will be around for a while and will take you more seriously than a one-year purchase.

2) Pick your platform

Now that you have your domain and you’re ready to create your own blog, decide which platform you want to use. Depending on the amount of customization you want, there are many to choose from (Blogger, WordPress, Squarespace) – some free, some paid. Just know that serious bloggers tend to migrate over to WordPress once they start to grow (I use WordPress for all of my sites). Is it the easiest way to start a blog? Honestly, there’s a bit of a learning curve but after that it’s very straightforward to start a blog with WordPress.

Note: There are two different WordPress platforms, which can be confusing:

  • WordPress.com: a hosted platform which is entirely free with few customization options
  • WordPress.org: a self-hosted platform (meaning you host it yourself), which has endless options, add-ons and plugins, tons of customization if you know CSS. And because WordPress is probably the most popular platform, there are lots of beautiful themes to choose from that you won’t need to customize.

I highly recommend going the WordPress.org route, and here’s why:

First of all, when you think about it, our websites are the swiss army knives of our businesses. Just sayin’ –  let’s not mess around here, friend. We want total control of all that.

This is where we drive traffic, educate, entertain, engage our audiences, create relationships, and most importantly, build a community. If we’re going to turn our websites into machines, we need to get under the hood every now and then.

With a self-hosted WordPress site, you can easily set up a blog and customize the way it looks and functions by installing “plugins” for just about anything…think opt-in forms, share buttons, click to tweet, related posts…all of those things that are going to help you build a scalable online business.

Now I know you’re probably thinking What the heck are plugins? How do I even add them to my website?

I hear ya, I really do! I couldn’t get my head around them at first either. Then I realized that I was overthinking things, because they’re really very simple.

Here’s an example:

Plugins are amazing! They give you total control of your website and your business.Click To Tweet

See that tweet? That’s the Click to Tweet plugin. Once you install it, you can access it right from your WordPress Edit window. So anytime you want to encourage people to share your post (which is what that tweet is all about), you simply click the icon and add your tweet. Easy peasy!

Can you see how powerful plugins are?

If you’re curious about how to install them, I’ll walk you through the steps in a bit. For now, just know that a self-hosted WordPress.org site is the way to go. Cool?

3) Choose your hosting company

If you’re going the WordPress.org route, Bluehost is a great option for hosting. I use Bluehost for almost all of my sites, including ConversionMinded.com.

First of all, Bluehost is second-to-none when it comes to customer service. They’ve answered just about every question I’ve ever had relating to how to start a blog with WordPress on their platform. Plus, I can always get these guys on the phone, which is a big deal when you need to solve something on your site quickly. They’re happy to spend as much time as you need and walk you through things like accessing your FTP, installing WordPress, making backups, troubleshooting email (which is FREE, another perk!).

I’ve also used Flywheel, but honestly, $69 a month is a bit steep for me. Flywheel bases their fees on monthly traffic, so anything over 25K visits is gonna cost you.

This is what makes Bluehost a no-brainer. You only pay a small monthly fee (only $3.95) regardless of traffic, and tech support is just a phone call away! Done and done.

Start a WordPress Blog with Bluehost

On top of that, Bluehost’s One-Click WordPress Install is a breeze. Here’s how it works:

1. Go to Hosting and then cPanel, then select Install WordPress.

How to Start a Blog With WordPress2. On the next page, select Install.

How to install WordPress

3. Select your domain. If you purchased your domain on Bluehost, it will appear here. If you followed step#1 above and purchased it on GoDaddy, you’ll need to point your domain to Bluehost. This post walks you through how to do that.

How to Start a Blog With WordPress from bluehost You can leave the boxes checked under “Helpful Plugins”. These are plugins to help you add optins and contact forms.

4. Enter the name of your site. The info on this page is what you’ll need to login to your WordPress site so be sure to keep it somewhere safe. I like to save it 3 places:

  • Take a screenshot and save it to a “Passwords” notebook in Evernote.
  • Open up TextEdit (I’m on a mac) and jot down the login. This is also where I file my FTP and cPanel information for when I need to give access to developers.
  • Save it 1Password, which I highly recommend checking out. This is where all I store all of my passwords so I can quickly login to everything with just 1 Password.

starting a blog with wordpressOnce you’ve saved your login details, select Install and Bluehost will take of the rest.

That was easy, right? To access your site dashboard, enter “yourdomain.com/wp-admin” in the browser window and enter your login info. You’ll be taken to your WP dashboard with some widgets and links to everything you need on the left.

 

how to create a blog with wordpress

I hope this quick guide has answered your questions about how to start a blog using Bluehost.

Next up, time for designin’ and bloggin’…

4) Pick a design/theme

This part is fun!

Themes are pre-built designs that you can customize a lot or a little depending on your design skills. To start, I recommend choosing a minimalist theme and customizing just the header, background images, colors and fonts. If  you need inspiration here, create a moodboard on Pinterest for design ideas.

For themes, StudioPress has tons of options. I also like Themeforest, especially the Avada, Impreza and Retailer themes. If you’ve got some design skills a framework like Genesis will give you a clean slate to start designing. Plus, you can also layer on themes if you like.

Once you’ve downloaded your theme, go to Appearance/Themes in WordPress to install and activate it.

make your own blog

Your site should include:

  • A killer Homepage with an image (ideally you) and message about your site
  • Start Here or About Page. Don’t know what to include here? This post will help!
  • Services or Product Page
  • Contact Page with a contact form so people can reach you
  • At least 5 blog categories
  • Social media icons
  • Popular posts

5) Create your first blog posts

One simple technique is to launch your blog with 5-10 published (and totally awesome) posts. The reason is that if you only have one or two posts for people to browse during your launch, they might not find anything that’s relevant to them. Creating multiple pieces of content gives them the chance to stay on your site for a longer period of time. With more content, there’s a good chance that they’ll find something that interests them and potentially subscribe. This checklist will help you optimize your site so that more people subscribe.

Some general blogging tips:

  • How-to and list posts are the most shareable.
  • Add a branded feature image to every post along with your title text.
  • Write the way you would speak to a friend – your style and personality should shine through.
  • Respond to readers’ comments and questions.
  • Blog about a different theme each month (helps to create a freebie, plus takes your readers on a journey).
  • Don’t try to learn how to start a blog and make money at the same time. There are stages to building a successul blog biz and you’re in the first stage, k? The money will come over time.

6) Bonus – what’s next?

Congrats, you’re all set to conquer the world! Here are some things to keep in mind as you grow. Think of them as bonus tips for starting a blog and beyond.

1. Publish consistent content – The number one way to grow a blog is to post valuable content regularly. Post once every two weeks to start, then once every week, and build up to 2-3 times a week. Whatever your frequency, decide on a schedule and stick to it.

2. Help people find your site:

  • Create a Google Analytics account and track high performing pages, site errors.
  • Submit your sitemap to Google so it crawls your new site
  • Install the Yoast SEO plugin and use it to optimize your posts for search engines

3. Favicon – Important for branding. Upload a favicon (16px branded icon) to your theme. This is the icon that appears at the top of the browser window when someone is on your site. Most themes make it easy to add.

4. Engage visitors – Optimize your blog so that as your new visitors become raving fans, you have a platform to build real relationships with them.

  • Install SumoMe (or use OptinMonster ) and place opt-in forms at the top, bottom, middle or side of your site
  • Create a freebie to give people in exchange for their email

5. Get active on social media – Social media is an important step in building an audience and getting traffic. Select your platforms, share your posts, join conversations and even Twitter chats to meet new people. There are tons of online communities full of amazing, encouraging and supportive peeps as you grow your blog. As I mentioned earlier, aim for consistency with your social media profiles – they should match each other and your blog name.

That’s a wrap! Have I answered all questions about how to start a blog? Ready to launch your dream biz? Click the image below to get started.

Next up in the Launch series: How to Create an Epic Blog Business Plan

Start a WordPress Blog with Bluehost for only $3.95 a month. Woo!

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