How to Start a Blog and Make Money – 2018

Part of my last New Year’s resolution was to start a blog. Basically, I wanted my own little corner of a creativity on the internet and was intrigued by the whole “you can make money by blogging” story. Long story short, I hesitated and doubted myself all the way until late July. Yes! I spent 7 months procrastinating and telling myself that I wasn’t creative enough, rich enough or even just interesting enough of a person to have my own little blog.

Your life doesn’t have to be an expensive, Pin-worthy Insta-story for you to own a successful blog. Or even a profitable blog. You can make a growing blog based off of your own creativity!

Fast forward to December 2017, this full-time teacher was still able to create a growing profitable blog within a few months as a beginner! I didn’t even need to invest hundreds of dollars in tutorials, software or e-books. I literally just committed to a host, chose a name and created content.

Blogging has truly been a blessing as I try and plan/pay for my upcoming wedding 🙂

So, if you are looking for an outlet for your creativity, or even just a way to make a side income (nothing wrong with that!)  start blogging! Like, now. I will even try to save you a couple steps along the way! Just read on 🙂

Here is my “How to Start a Profitable Blog in 2018”

This post may contain affiliate links and/or product links for your convenience. All opinions and advice are 100% my own. I only recommend products that I use, love and believe others will love. 

Step 1. Decide on your Niche, Niches or stay Nicheless!

I stumbled over this step at first. (pun intended) I panicked over the idea of choosing one niche to commit to when I am interested in so many things! I found out for myself that you don’t have to choose ONE niche. In fact, you don’t even have to choose a niche for your blog at all.

I’ve discovered that my traffic is not based on people finding my blog because they belong in my “niche”, but mainly by a certain post intriguing them enough to click.

I receive most of my traffic from my songwriting posts, but my style/decor posts are a close second place! I especially enjoy making beginner blogger posts to help other newbie bloggers out there. All of these topics are not really related, but they coexist perfectly on my blog. I’m glad I didn’t just stick with one niche!

However, if you are confident in having one niche, then go for it!

Step 2. Choose a Platform & Host

Think of your blog’s platform as the software in which you will create your blog. There are hundreds out there! WordPress, Blogger, Weebly… Wix. The list goes on!

I use WordPress. I started off with the free wordpress.com platform, however I quickly switched to wordpress.org and paid for my host (bluehost). The free version of wordpress.com was great, except in order to monetize my blog (make money) I would have to upgrade and pay $$. It was much cheaper to use bluehost and stick with wordpress.org.

There are bundles of free platforms out there for beginners, but they won’t make it easy for you to monetize your content. Some will not enable you to earn profit at all. Basically, if you want to even earn a few dollars here and there, you will have to commit to a legitimate website host.

I began my blog knowing that I eventually wanted to earn a side profit but, I didn’t want to hand over hundreds of dollars on something that I wasn’t certain would work out. I needed affordable. There are tons of hosts out there, but I felt bluehost was my best option.

I chose bluehost. Here’s why:

  • They are WordPress.org’s #1 recommended hosting company. WordPress powers over 25% of the world’s websites, so I feel like they may know a thing or two about hosting platforms!
  • They are affordable! While other hosting companies will charge you for their services AND your domain name (guitarandlace.com), Blue Host offers lower monthly rates AND you get a free domain name.
  • Bluehost is flexible! I was shocked to find out that other companies capped your website at a certain amount of views. Once you reached over that number of traffic views, your site would be locked and you would have to pay more money to upgrade. Not Bluehost! They give you unlimited views and will not lock your website.
  • 24/7 Support! I have yet to use this feature, however I am comforted to know that they will be there to assist me if I needed it.
  • Money Back Guarantee! This sealed the deal for me. I knew that I could try it and if I felt that I didn’t like what they had to offer, I could get my money back. Spoiler: I loved bluehost and am still using it.

Step 3. Sign up for your Host!

Since I use Blue Host, I will use their set up as my example. This is to show you how easy it is to sign up for a host.

Go to bluehost.com

Screen Shot 2017-12-25 at 4.47.05 PM.png

Click on the Green button, “get started now”

Screen Shot 2017-12-25 at 4.47.30 PM

I chose Basic, but I wish I went with plus for the extra features! Honestly, the price I paid for bluehost was made back in blogging profit within the first few months blogging.

Screen Shot 2017-12-25 at 4.49.46 PM

Choose Your FREE Domain Name. If you are unsure of what to choose, they will let you decide later!

Screen Shot 2017-12-25 at 4.53.45 PM

After Filling out your information, payment and billing address you will create your password and then you have your website! I use WordPress with bluehost, but there are other platforms as well.

Step 4. To Invest or Not to Invest.

I probably spent every spare moment researching  “how to blog”. I listened to youtube videos on blogging, read how-to-blog posts and studied other beginner blogger’s growth. More than half of the content I stumbled on wanted my money. Bloggers were selling e-books on how to use Pinterest correctly, PDF files on how to grow your traffic to 250k in two weeks and basically everything I ever wanted as a beginner blogger all with an expensive price tag.  I almost caved, but glad I didn’t.

The truth is, thousands of bloggers are out there wanting to make money off of their blog. It’s become the Millennial Dream to be a work-from-home blogger! They will sell just about anything in hopes that we will believe in it. Now, I am sure there are some honest bloggers with real deals out there, but it’s hard to tell behind a screen.

Good news though! My blog grew naturally without all of the tutorials and guides. I saved all of that money and earned my own affiliate income through ads and product advertising. I didn’t have to claim that I loved Tailwind to make everyone sign up, so I could earn commission. In fact, I didn’t love Tailwind at all. It was barely mediocre for me! I would not feel right talking someone into paying for it, so I could walk away with a couple dollars.

What I’m trying to say is: Be careful with your wallets out there!

Step 5. Monetize your Blog NOW

You don’t have to wait for your blog to grow in order to monetize for profit! I earned affiliate income within my first month as a blogger!

More info on how I did that:

My First Month Blogging – What Worked & Didn’t Work

Second Month Blogging + Income Report

There are so many affiliate and ad companies out there that will accept new bloggers. As long as your blog looks like it has potential, they will take you in!

Currently, I make the most profit from Amazon Affiliates, Google Adsense and SurveyJunkie Affiliates. All of these companies accepted me right away. If you are interested in more, I’ve written an entire post on Affiliate Markets that Accept New and Small Blogs.

The best thing for me is, I am earning commission off of products that people purchase because THEY want to. There is never a time that I am falsely claiming that a product is amazing and life-changing in hopes that I will earn commission. Every product or company that I affiliate with is either something that I use and love or something that is my style and I would love to have!

Lastly, don’t be afraid of ads! Just about any site you visit will have a few ads here and there. It is so common that I don’t even notice them now.

I do believe that how you use ads will affect your traffic. If your blog is slow or hard to browse through because there are ads in literally every corner, you may lose the interest of your potential followers. I once visited a fashion blogger’s site, because I wanted to see where she purchased her sweater from. 10 seconds later an ad popped up covering my entire phone screen. I couldn’t click the tiny x without clicking on the ad which took me to some other site with more popups. It was a mess! I even tried visiting again, thinking I just didn’t press the x to my best ability (haha). Nope! I went through that pop-up mess again!

I am sure she is earning a pretty penny on that one ad, but it makes browsing her website nearly impossible.

In a nutshell, monetize your blog with class.

Step 6. Create Appealing and Evergreen Content

As a full time teacher, I do not have the time to write 3 blog posts a week. I rely on good, evergreen content. This includes “How To’s”, “Monthly Reports” and “Style Ideas”. Actually, most content can be popular all year long! Writing a post about a weekend sale that is only happening this weekend probably won’t be a post that continues to earn traffic. However, once your blog is established with followers you may earn more affiliate commission since shoppers are always looking for the current deals! Until then, evergreen content is your best bet.

My most popular posts are my songwriting how-to posts. My songwriting page has over 16k shares on Pinterest! What?! Here I am thinking that my content was vanilla at it’s best… a few months later and my songwriting tips are being pinned all over the world! (happy music teacher!)

My second most popular posts are a tie between my decor/style posts and monthly reports. My monthly reports are where I talk about what success my blog has seen during the prior month. As a beginner blogger I constantly read these type of posts! I found them to be inspiring and helpful to my own blog’s growth.

Step 7. Advertise Your Content in all the Right Places

Pinterest, people! Pinterest is my main source of traffic by far! I will tell you that it is slow at first. Nothing magical happens all of a sudden on Pinterest. (I do believe in miracles though, haha!)

It is all about growing your profile, becoming a constant pinner (of your content and other content) and of course having eye-catching pins. The more you pin the quicker you will grow.

How to Use Pinterest Analytics to Boost Your Blog Traffic.

As for creating “Pins”, I currently use canva.com. They make pin creating a breeze! I find that the desktop version is way easier to use than their phone app, but it’s nice to have both!

Instagram is another story. I believe it is truly useful in the fashion and home decor niche. I’ve read of blogs that receive most of their traffic and sales via Instagram, however I have yet to have success. It’s my own fault, though! I need to post more frequently. Goals, people! Let me know if you have any breakthrough tips for Instagram!

Closing Thoughts

Blogging is obviously an endeavor beyond a how-to post, however I feel these were the main steps that I took to get myself to where I am at now. It’s been 5 months of constantly growing and earning a profit from blogging, but I still feel like I have tons to learn from.

I feel like the best lesson learned was that blogging is more of a “slow cooker” instead of a “microwave”. Things definitely took time before I started noticing steady growth. Even then, I still had days where my growth seemed to decline. It’s really a learn as you go type of adventure!

Please don’t hesitate to contact me with any questions that you may have! For some reason my comment section closes itself after 4 comments. (Probably because I am using a free theme hehe) So, feel free to contact me via my contact page 🙂 

The Ultimate (11)   Make Money   Make Money (1)   proposal  11705e1b519c6bf54bc74d3b97d66f23

How Teachers Can Make Extra Money

 


I never truly understood how overworked and underpaid teachers were until I became one myself.

Warning, here comes a rant. Feel free to skip ahead to the juicy stuff!

To put teaching into perspective, imagine being in charge of a classroom of 30+ kids with completely different personalities, home situations and moral compasses. You have kids with emotional trauma, physical disabilities, learning disabilities, gifted learners, emotional issues, behavior issues and despite all of that they all have extraordinary potential that you don’t really get a chance to challenge to the fullest because you are too busy herding kittens all day.

By kittens I don’t mean the students. I mean, we are herding emotions, neediness, life skills and social skills outside of the actual curriculum. How to deal with anger, being a good sport, what is wrong, what is right…we have to cover all of that spontaneously. Oh, and we have to also teach them how to read, add, subtract, draw, write, play the trumpet, kick a ball correctly… all 30 of them. All at once.

Then the bell rings. We can finally use the bathroom let alone breathe… Is our workday over? Nope. We have daily grading, lesson planning, parent phone calls, band concerts, sport game chaperoning, conferences and they all occur during hours that we are not paid. Often times they are 13+ hour days!  Imagine working those 13+ hour workdays, but only being paid for 7 hours.

Side note: Can someone please send a vacation package to all of the teacher mommies and daddies? I don’t know how you all do it!

Why do we stay in our profession if we feel so underpaid? Simple. Our students. They do actually make it worth it… even the tough ones!

Needless to say, something needs to change for us teachers. We love our jobs, but we know we deserve a little justice. Not asking for a million, just asking for enough to afford a comfortable life with a family. Oh, and free chipotle everyday. Rant over.

Until then, we are left with our own brilliant survival skills to make ends meet. Luckily, teachers’ work ethic, stamina, compassion and strength under high amounts of stress make them all super qualified for just about anything. Teachers are pretty cool. (I mean, I’m even marrying one…)

So, here we gooo!

{Disclaimer: This post contains affiliate links. However, all opinions and advice are 100% my own. In order to stay truly transparent and honest, I only recommend services and products that I use, love and believe will benefit others.}

How Teachers Can Make Extra Money

If I could read your mind right now, I know the last thing you want to read about is how you can tutor, coach and work even more hours to earn a side income. We work enough long hours in a day!

Sure, you can drive an uber, walk strangers’ dogs, babysit more kids… but let’s be real. Our sofas miss us and Grey’s Anatomy is on at 7pm. Ain’t nobody got time for side jobs!

So it’s, time to side hustle!

tenor

1. Make Money by Walking Around your Classroom (Achievement)

Yes. You heard me. All you have to do is download the free My Achievement App, wear a fitbit or carry your smartphone in your pocket all day. The app will log your steps, food logs, weigh-ins and you will earn points.

Once you reach 10,000 points they will pay you $10! Imagine the points you will earn on testing days…

Don’t have a smartphone or a fitbit? You can still log your workouts, daily food, weigh ins, and water intake on MyFitnessPal.com which can synch to your Achievement.com account. This is key to getting more points!

Even better, you can tell all of your teacher friends about the app and earn even more points! They will give you $0.25 worth of points for every referral up to 20 times. $5.00 free!

I mean, think of the brownie points you will earn from your Principal when she/he always catches you walking around your classroom. That proximity though.👌

WYpGd_s-200x150

2. Make Money off of Pinterest (ShopStyle Collective)

Say waaa? You mean to tell me, that I could have been making money off of my beloved Pinterest sanity breaks all of this time? Yup.

ShopStyle Collective is the affiliate program to shopstyle.com Similar to their shopping site, you can search for just about any clothing item, decorations, accessories, novelties and pin them to Pinterest.

Mmmk, Sounds like our normal online habits. But wait! There’s More…

Once people click on your pin, they will be directed to the product’s site. You will then earn commission for that click! They don’t even have to make a purchase. Just click! The earnings per click are $0.05 and up. It doesn’t sound like much, but boy do they add up!

One morning whilst sipping coffee, I pinned a cute holiday decoration via ShopStyleCollective onto pinterest. That pin got re-pinned dozens of times and clicked on dozens of more times within a few hours. Cha-Ching! All I did was pin it to Pinterest as I would any other holiday decoration!

Please add sales representative to my resume, dahhhling.

original

3. Sell Your Lesson Plans (Teachers Pay Teachers)

We are required to make them. They have to be up to state standards and our admin’s standards. They get done no matter what. Why not sell them?

Teachers Pay Teachers is a teaching resources website that offers a plethora of lesson plans, printables, activities and other handy tools for teachers. Sometimes even for free! Why not capitalize on your own brilliant lesson plans?!

There are teachers making millions off of their sales via Teacher Pay Teachers! Millions.

4. Take Online Surveys (Survey Junkie,   PaidViewpoint,   Inbox Dollars)

This has been one of my biggest earners when it comes to side hustlin’! Whenever I have a moment and I just want to take my own personal brain break, I take a mindless survey.

There are tons of survey companies, however these three have been my top earners! Survey Junkie is definitely my favorite. Not only have I earned over $120 in PayPal cash, but their app is super user friendly and their surveys are usually fun! Sometimes I get to rate popular song clips for local radio stations. I even got selected to review a radio station’s morning show for a $75 Amazon Gift Card. That’s almost $200 total earned in a short amount of time!

I take surveys on the stair-master, in-between sets at the gym, during commercial breaks at home, while waiting for water to boil… anywhere! Lunch break? Sometimes I just want to eat in my classroom, listen to my jams and earn money off of a couple surveys! #introvert

giphy

5. Cash Back on Groceries and Shopping (Shopkick,  Ibotta  &  Ebates)

We all have to eat! Considering our paychecks, it probably won’t be at a restaurant anytime soon. So, I know y’all are at Walmart and Kroger on the weekends! Did you know there are apps that earn you cash back just by doing your normal shopping errands?

Whether you make purchases, save receipts or just walk in a store you could be making money! There are plenty of sites out there, but these 3 have proven to be safe, fun and successful!

Shopkick is super fun! By using the app, you earn kicks (points redeemed for gift cards) by being in a store, scanning items and scanning your receipt. Technically, you could earn kicks just by going to your favorite store and scanning items.

Ibotta is quite similar to Shopkick, however you can earn cash in the comfort of your home as well as a physical store. Basically, Ibotta informs you of great deals and offers, you purchase the items offered, scan your receipt and you earn cash! They have hundreds of qualified stores. Chances are, you already shop at these stores… capitalize on your shopping talents!

Ebates can also be used online or instore. Simply shop at a qualified Ebates store (most are qualified). Once you make a purchase you will earn cash back via Paypal. These Cash-Back companies earn commission for leading you to purchase certain items. They share that commission with you as “cash back”. Everybody wins!

JNhU5Tt

6. Write for Educational Sites (WeAreTeachers)

We are clever, educated and well-spoken individuals. (At least I try to be most of the time…) So, let’s practice what we teach and write an essay or two. Instead of earning stickers, you can earn cash!

Websites like WeAreTeachers will pay you to write a post for them. Not a bad gig at all!

They are always looking for new, creative content. The posts aren’t always serious either! They have plenty of room for comedic teacher therapy. The more “The Office” gifs there are, the better. I always get a good laugh out of these posts –>Humor Category

7. Watch Videos, Play Games, Read Articles (SwagBucks)

SwagBucks is literally the ultimate online money making machine. You can do so much via their site and earn SwagBucks! SwagBucks are then redeemed in gift cards including Paypal!

Basically, outside companies pay SwagBucks to display their content for users to try, test and sometimes review. SwagBucks is then able to pay you a portion of their commission.

Being paid to play games on your phone? Sounds like a teacher prep/planning time productively spent! I mean, just kidding… who does that?

tenor-1

8. Sell Your Unwanted Items (Poshmark, Plato’s Closet)

Poshmark is a website and app that allows users to sell their items to people everywhere! Think of it as the waaay less sketchy version of Craig’s List.

You could sell clothing items, shoes, purses, instruments, furniture, decorations and just about anything! Well, except your classroom furniture… and students.

If your area has a consignment store like Plato’s Closet, you could sell clothing items and receive cash or store credit! For every item that they don’t purchase (for whatever reason) they usually offer to donate the items to Goodwill or another local charity organization for you. If you are willing to donate those items, they basically save you on driving mileage!

9. Start a Blog

This one will take up a bit of your free time, however it will definitely be time well spent!

Not only are blogs profitable, but they are therapeutic, exciting and could possibly become a full-time job! Yes! There are bloggers making 6 figures a MONTH. Believe me, my jaw dropped too when I find out. Some of those bloggers are even teachers!

Whether your blog involves education or not, you can easily turn it into your #1 side hustle. Perhaps, even your #1 source of income. Turn your favorite hobby or pastime into a money making blog! It won’t even feel like work. Trust me.

Currently, I have just started my third month blogging. Things are quickly picking up! There are some days that I make $15 off of a few posts that I wrote weeks ago! Blog posts are evergreen. They continue to earn you passive income daily!

I wish someone told me to start a blog a lonnnng time ago…

I could go on and on how you could make money off of blogging, but this post has been long enough. If you are interested, check out some of my resources for more information on how to get your profitable blog started:

Best side hustlin’ decision I’ve ever made!

giphy-1

10. Write an Ebook

Have you ever written your own curriculum guide? You cold sell it!

Often times schools don’t have the funding to provide teachers with these needed resources, so they are forced to write their own. On the other hand, sometimes schools do provide teachers with a curriculum, but it’s outdated and not very student friendly for today’s different crowd of students.

Whatever the case may be, you could sell your original curriculum as an Ebook! It doesn’t even have to be a curriculum guide. If you are a talented writer, you could right an Ebook for just about anything! This could be anything from First Year of Teaching Survival Guide to How to Deal with Student Behaviors. 

How do I publish this eBook?! You can sell it under Amazon’s Kindle Direct Publishing Or if you have a blog, you can publish and sell it yourself. Remember those 6 figure bloggers I mentioned earlier? They earn most of that money from their eBooks! Just sayin’…

I hope you found this post helpful and encouraging! We don’t have to overwhelm ourselves with more hours of work! We can enjoy our “me time” and earn a little extra income at the same time! Imagine what you could do  with an extra $100+ a month? The life you could live with an extra $1000 a month? It’s possible!

Best Wishes to you!

signature

Make Money (1)  Make Money  & (2)

Second Month Blogging + Income Report

For one, I cannot believe it is finally October! For us Arizonians, October feels like the finish line to the roughest marathon out there. No more brutal 110° temps!

Secondly, I cannot believe that it has been two months since I’ve started blogging with my “monetized” blog! Honestly, it feels like it has been much longer than just two months. Most likely because I was caught up in the learning curve as a new blogger. That, and I teach full time.

Needless to say, August and September have been exhausting yet super exciting!

I am happy to share that my blog has grown beyond my expectations! Read more