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

I first began Guitar and Lace in July 2017.  At the time I was very adamant on creating my blog “for free” with WordPress, but I did end up investing in a hosting platform the second week of August.

Long story short, I wanted to take my blog to the next level. Ok, ok! I wanted to see if I could earn a little passive income like all the other bloggers.

Ain’t nothing wrong with having a little side hustle!

If you are unsure about blogging and you just want to test the waters before committing, check out  How I Made my Blog for free.

Or, if you are ready to take the leap of faith into “Blog Land” and start earning money check out How to Start a Profitable Blog in 2017.

This month’s blogging report illustrates my progress, growth and lessons learned from August 10th-September 10th. (I joined bluehost on August 10th)

{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 that I use, love and believe will benefit others.}

**Great news! I did earn money in my first month of blogging! Keep reading for all the details…

The Beginning.

My blog literally started from scratch. I had zero followers on all of my social media accounts, zero blogging experience and I didn’t know what a group board or tailwind tribe was. Never even heard of them. (crazy huh?!)

I was a lost sheep.

  • Pinterest Followers: 0
  • Pinterest Group Boards: 0
  • Instagram Followers: 0
  • Blog Posts: 3
  • Blog Views: 7 (probably all of them being mine…)

I launched the day I published my first post. Then I listened to the crickets chirp whilst writing the second, and third… and fourth.

It was definitely very discouraging at first!

I didn’t share anything on my personal social accounts to avoid any “sympathy clicks”. Really, I wanted to avoid the “Hey, I saw you started a blog. Good for you!” small talk conversations with coworkers and friends. #introvert

Should I have built a following prior to launching? Meh, I’m sure it could have been a better idea. However, I personally felt silly building a social media following like, “Hey I’m Lori. You don’t know me, but I have a blog coming soon… follow me and wait patiently! It’s gonna be grrrreat!”

Perhaps there are more graceful ways of handling that scenario, but it wasn’t me.

The First Sign of Life.

My blog averaged around 5 views a day for almost the entire month. Some days I would only have 1 or 2 views. All felt like miniature successes!

During that time, I would create new content, pin and repeat. For a while, the only growth I noticed was Pinterest. As I pinned my little heart out, I noticed my average daily Pinterest views and impressions reached the thousands and up!

I also joined 31 group boards within my niche. This was very pivotal for my blog!

Then finally, on September 3rd I went viral. Just kidding, I got 38 views. It definitely felt viral at the time, though! People were finally noticing my blog!

I was a couple views short of 100 a few days later. (Where were you guys?!)

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Where I am at Now.

  • Blog Posts: 13
  • Monthly Views: 823 
  • Pinterest Group Boards: 31
  • Pinterest Followers: 25
  • Instagram Followers: 67

Did I make money? YES!

Total: $9.03. I’ll try not to spend it all in one place…

Ads: $4.53

Affiliate Marketing: $4.50 (all within the last 2 days of the month!) 

I talk more about the Affiliate that made profit here –> Favorite Blogging Tools for this month! 

**Update: Find out how I TRIPLED my traffic and income during my Second Month Blogging –> Second Month Blogging + Income Report

I was so pumped (for lack of a more eloquent term) that I made any money! I didn’t think I would be accepted into any affiliate or ad program right away, but I applied anyways. So glad I did!

Check out the affiliate programs that accepted me as a new blogger–> HERE

Need another way to make money online? Check out –> 10 Safe Ways to Make Money Online I’ve made $100+ within a few months and with minimal work!

What Worked?

After a few weeks with wordpress.com I decided to upgrade! I chose Bluehost, because not only are they super affordable (as low as $2.95 a month), but they gave me a free domain name! (guitarandlace.com)

Likewise, they had much higher customer ratings than other hosting platforms I looked into. I mean, WordPress even recommends them. As a blog hosting platform, they are one of the most affordable and highly rated!

Check out more information on bluehost –> HERE  (You can try it for 30 days and receive a full refund if you decide that you don’t like it!)

  • Pinterest!

Follow me 🙂  –> HERE

After joining group boards, I started noticing my pins being saved more and more. Pinning is great, but I’ll admit that it feels like most of my pins were saved into the Pinterest black hole. Let’s face it, who actually goes back to their board to click on their saved pins on a regular basis?

Goal: make more “clickable” pins. 

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What Didn’t Work?

Instagram.

I started off focusing on my Instagram following. I posted regularly, genuinely liked hundreds of photos and followed people within my niche.

I would get followers back and think, “aww! I’ve made a friend! OMGosh her outfit is so cute! Mannn, she is so cool!” Then she would unfollow me a day later.

Sometimes the same people would follow me weeks later (I remember names and faces really well. #teacher). Then they would unfollow me again.

Girllll, Jesus is watching you!

…So I have yet to figure out how to grow a genuine Instagram following, but I hope to try more this month!

Lessons Learned

My mind was blown on how many blogs I’ve looked at my whole life not realizing the person behind the blog is making a profit! That fabulous holiday cookie recipe I looked up on Pinterest… yeah she is making thousands every month. It’s mind boggling! I never knew that bloggers could make THAT much money. (Is this common knowledge?!)

Likewise, I didn’t realize how frustrating and tough blogging could be. Sure, the positives definitely out weigh the negatives, but MAN my blog can make me moody! When I had a day with low views, I would get so grumpy!  I’ve definitely learned to just accept the slow beginnings!

Lastly, content is key. I wasted a ton of time just staring at my statistics and waiting for things to grow. I really wish that I used that time to write! As a full time teacher, time management is going to be a tough one.

Check out my –> Favorite Blogging Tools for this month! 

September-October Goals

  • Blog Posts: 15 new posts 
  • Monthly Views: 1200
  • Pinterest Group Boards: 50 total 
  • Pinterest Followers: 100
  • Instagram Followers: 100
  • Venture into Facebook Groups
  • Venture into Tailwind Tribes
  • Make a post/pin go  over 1k re-pins
  • Income Earned: $20

If I were to leave you with an inspirational quote, it would be… “start a blog.” Seriously! If you’ve been thinking about it, just do it!

It has been such a fun journey this past month. I’ve learned so much about online businesses, marketing and even a little bit about myself (not to sound cheesy).

I definitely have a monument of work to accomplish!  I cannot wait to report back on how September goes!

Best Wishes to You and Your blog (or future blog!)

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Make Money (1)   & (2)   Make Money    Make Money Blog  How to use   

***Sorry! There seems to be a glitch with my comments section on this post. For some reason they are labeled as “closed”.  I love reading your feedback & comments! Please don’t hesitate to contact me on another post’s comment section or on my contact page. 🙂

Affiliate Markets that Accept Small Blogs




What is Affiliate Marketing?

Affiliate Marketing is basically when a consumer earns commission for promoting a product and/or service. Simply stated:

You love a product –> You talk about that product –> You tell people where to find that product (via affiliate link) –> You get paid for bringing the company customers

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What role do I play in Affiliate Marketing?

You are the affiliate! You can advertise your favorite products/services via blog, Instagram, Facebook, Pinterest… you name it!

Just make sure you always disclose when you are using Affiliate Links.  Not only is it required, but I feel it helps you to remain transparent and honest with your audience. Likewise, ensure that your affiliate links contain the “nofollow” attribute.

Example:Screen Shot 2017-09-08 at 8.09.46 PM

Luckily, there are wordpress plugins that can do this automatically! I use “Nofollow for external link”.

What is an affiliate link?

An affiliate link is a unique link to a product or service that enables the merchant (company you are advertising for) to know that you referred the customer.

For instance:

nordstromrack.com would be the original link

http://shopstyle.it/l/jiGi would be your unique affiliate link.

(example affiliate link is not an actual affiliate link.)

Both links take you to the cardigan, but the affiliate link is specific to you. When your adoring subscribers click to shop that cardigan, Target will know that it was YOU who sent them.

Do I need a HUGE, successful blog to join an affiliate Program?

Nope! Sometimes you will find that affiliate programs only accept bloggers with a decent following, but don’t let that discourage you! I have actually found that a good amount of markets will accept newbies. Yay!



Will I even earn any commission as an owner of a small blog?

It’s possible! Will you earn enough commission to become a full-time blogger? Probably not right away, but heyyy, anything is possible!

Check out How to Use Pinterest Analytics to Boost Your Blog Traffic. I got my first 2 Viral Pins as a newbie blogger!

When I began Guitar & Lace, I kept reading on how you need to build this incredible following before even thinking of using ads and affiliates. However, instead of waiting (what still feels like an eternity) for my blog to grow, I decided to monetize within my first month.

Naively, I applied for almost every market I could find and ended up being declined by most. That’s fine! I ain’t mad… because some ended up accepting me!

I just feel, why wait? By the time my blog has a substantial following, I will have the affiliate experience and won’t be setting myself back with the additional learning curve.

I ended up making a little over $9 in my first month with just ads and a few affiliate links (I tried not to spend it all in one place!)

I’ve decided to celebrate all blogging successes!

Check out My Favorite Blogging Tools that helped me earn a bit of profit as a new blogger!

If this is something you are interested in, I have created s a list of “free to join” Affiliate Markets that I was accepted into as a new blogger!

While these markets did accept me as a new blogger with no blogging history, I cannot guarantee that everyone will be accepted. All markets and ad companies have their own requirements and criteria before accepting new affiliates. 

Disclaimer: This post contains affiliate links. I may earn commission if any products are purchased.  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.}

Affiliate Markets that Accept Small Blogs

1. VigLink

VigLink is one of the easiest affiliate markets to work for! Once activated, you will have the option of automatically turning all qualified outgoing links into an affiliate link. No tedious copying & pasting html codes on your part! You can also use their “anywhere” links for just about any product online. Basically, you copy the URL to the product and they create an affiliate link for it. No need to apply to every company out there! VigLink has a huge range of products suitable for any niche within their network!

Join VigLink

Ideal Blog Niches: Fashion, Lifestyle, Beauty, Frugal Living, Mom-Blogs, and just about any!

2. Amazon Associates

Amazon was the first affiliate market that I applied for! The fact that they accepted me right away was super encouraging as a newbie. You literally can create an affiliate link and/or product ad for anything on Amazon. Basically the sky is the limit as an Amazon Associate! I mean, they are Amazon!

Join Amazon Associates

Ideal Blog Niches: Any Blog can benefit.

3. Shopstyle Collective

Shopstyle will feel like home to any fashion and lifestyle blogger! Think of your favorite fashion blogs. Most likely their “what I’m wearing” product links are thanks to Shopstyle. I am a huge fan of their website! The affiliate dashboard is very clean and girly. They also have a very helpful blog that provides fun blog challenges and extra assistance with using their affiliate program.

My favorite part is their simple widget generator! I can create widgets to link my audience to sale items, wish lists and items I have purchased. These look so much better than plain old hyperlinks!

For example, My Fall Dream list 🙂

Join Shopstyle Collective

Ideal Blog Niches: Fashion, Beauty & Lifestyle.

4. Bluehost

Bluehost is first and foremost a great hosting platform for your blog! Likewise, they reward you with commission if you refer anyone to use Bluehost. As of now, the pay is $65.00-$120.00 per commission. You could possibly pay for a year+ subscription with Bluehost JUST by referring a new customer to them. BINGO.

You May Like: How I Sarted a Money-Making Blog

Join Bluehost

Ideal Blog Niches:  Your Bluehost hosted Blog!

5. Rakuten Marketing

Rakuten has been around since blogs were referred to as “weblogs” (late 90’s). However, Rakuten is anything but outdated! The dashboard platform is very user friendly, which is a plus for affiliate marketing newbies! They offer a wide variety of merchant companies to advertise for. Some notable companies include, Nordstrom, Sephora, Antrhopologie, Bloomingdale’s, Walmart, & Kohls.

Want to earn even more passive income? Check out –>10 Safe Ways to Make Money Online

Join Rakuten Marketing

Ideal Blog Niches:  Fashion, Lifestyle, Home Decor, Mom-Blogs & Frugal Living.

6. Google Adsense

I love how I can customize the appearance of my ads to fit my blog’s theme! Nothing is worse than visiting a site with huge, tacky ads.  I have heard from some bloggers that it is difficult to be accepted into Google Adsense, however, I was accepted as a newbie. Give it a shot!
Join Google Adsense

Ideal Blog Niches: Just about any! They use Native ads that will fit in seamlessly with your content.

7. Impact Radius

Impact Radius is a newer affiliate market. With that being said, I find them to be very innovative and user friendly. They have quickly earned their spot as one of the most preferred affiliate markets! They are home to some of the largest merchant companies such as ULTA and Target. Make-up and cardigans, people!!

Join Impact Radius

Ideal Blog Niches: Beauty, Fashion, Lifestyle, but I could see them fitting in with any blog!

8. Shareasale

With over 2,000 merchant companies, Shareasale is the ideal affiilate market for lifestyle bloggers! Once accepted, you can apply to become an affiliate to companies such as Shoe Dazzle, Stella & Dot, Warby Parker, the NFL Shop and so much more!

Join Shareasale

Ideal Blog Niches: Fashion, Lifestyle, College, Family, & Mom-Blogs.

9. CJ Affiliate

CJ (formerly Commision Junction) is easily one of the largest affiliate markets with name brand companies. They are especially perfect for lifestyle, fashion and mom blogs since they host a wide variety of retail stores. These stores include, Bed Bath & Beyond, Buy Buy Baby, LOFT and more.

Join CJ Affiliate

Ideal Blog Niches: Fashion, Home Decor, Mom-Blogs, but just about any niche would work!

10. Escalate Network 

 Escalate is the perfect affiliate market for advertising deals, coupons and food savings. They have extremely high ratings and an excellent reputation for providing real, honest deals. This is extremely important when trying to gain trust with your future subscribers! No one wants to return to a blog if the deal you are advertising turns out to be fake!

Join Escalate Network 

Ideal Blog Niches: Frugal Living, Blogging Blogs, Mom-Blogs, & Food Blogs.

I hope you found this article helpful in any way! Every blogger was once a new, beginning blogger. Let me tell you, the struggle is real! However, with a little optimism, encouragement and GRIT I believe you can be so successful with your blog!

Have you had any success with these affiliate markets or any others not listed? Let me know in the comments! Show us all your blog!

Best wishes to you and your blog!

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How I made $130.74 at the gym.

What is the one BIG thing that keeps me from going to the gym? Motivation. I want to be in VS Angel shape, but I also want to sprawl all over my couch, eat Trader Joe’s pretzels and scroll through my Pinterest feed. 

Now, if only someone would have told me that I could go to the gym, get in shape AND make passive income all at once! You bet you’d see me pumping those cute neoprene dumbbells!

It’s True!

…and it’s NOT a tricky scam!

I discovered this in a sort of round-about way. Originally, I was looking for ways to make a little extra cash for my wedding and found all these great sites!

After implementing my new slew of websites and apps, I quickly noticed one thing they all had in common:

I kept using them at the gym! I made money while working out!

Some of these Apps are fitness based and the others just require a bit of reading and multi-tasking. (I love to multi-task at the gym! Listening to music isn’t enough to make 30 minutes on the stair master feel less like hell…) These apps and websites are the perfect, money-making distraction.

So here it is. Here’s how I made $130.74 at the gym. 

{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 that I use, love and believe will benefit others.}

1. Survey Junkie – $113.26 earned

(Free to sign up!) 

Okay, I don’t like to play favorites, but this one is definitely my favorite! Mainly, because I cashed out $113.26 after about two months. 

>>> Try it –> HERE

Side note: At first, I was skeptic of this site (and basically every survey site). I am definitely a hard person to convince when it comes to online services. It was the first “earn money through surveys” site I signed up for, and I’m so glad I joined! I did my research prior to ensure that it was not a scam.

Once you join, you will get to choose from a page of surveys. Each survey will earn you around $0.30-$3.00 if you qualify. Don’t worry, I’ve qualified for most and I consider myself an Average American. When I do not qualify they give me three points (three cents) for trying! (Hey, it all adds up!) Once you’ve earned $10.00, you can cash out via PayPal.

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The best part? I literally took these surveys on my iPhone while getting my cardio in via stair master. A good 30 minutes averaged me around $3.00-$5.00. I averaged around $60 a month if I did 4-5 days of cardio.

 So, if you want to earn a good chunk of passive income that requires very little work, than SurveyJunkie.com is your thannng, girl! (or boy.)

2. Achievement App – $5.76 earned 

(Free to sign up!) 

>>> Try it –> HERE & receive $2.50 in bonus points for signing up!

This is definitely an app that I wish I had years ago! Gah! The extra money I would have had… the jeans I could have fit into by now…  Basically, Achievement is an App that will reward you for being healthy!

You literally just have to walk around and you will earn points, which will be redeemed as money. …but wait, There’s more! Really, there’s more.

The App can synch up to your fitbit, Myfitness Pal and other health tracking platforms to give you even MORE points for logging your food, water intake, weight, measurements and exercise. 

(Fitbits will log more steps into the app than your phone. Amazon always has great prices on new and refurbished fitbits! –>Fitbit

So far, I have earned a total of 5,716 points ($5.71) since joining in May 2017. That may not sound like much during that amount of time, but more than half of that time was spent WITHOUT using the MyFitnessPal sync. 

Achievement

MyFitness Pal was the game changer! Once I synced, I earned way more points on a daily basis. 

So basically, if you eat food, drink water and walk then this App is for you!

3. MyFitnessPal App 

(Free to sign up! Premium version available.)

>>> Try it –> HERE

You’re right, they don’t pay their users, but I just HAVE to give some credit to MyFitnessPal for the money I earned with the Achievemint app. 

Both Apps are like peanut butter & jelly. They just belong together. You will earn more than double the points with MyFitnessPal!

If you have never used MyFitnessPal, it is basically a diet & fitness tracker. All I do is scan/log my meals and it keeps track of all the Macros and nutrients for me. I even enter in the specific workouts I do and it shows how many calories I’ve burned. Even if you aren’t using Achievemint, it is just a great tool to use in your fitness regime!

4. SwagBucks – $6.43 earned

(Free to sign up!)

>>> Try it –> HERE  Earn $5.00 worth of points just by signing up with my link!

Swagbucks is the ultimate online money making destination. Unlike a few reward sites that I’ve looked into, Swagbucks is not out to scam you. (I recommend doing your research before joining any “money making” platform.)


You can earn “SwagBucks” through using their search engine, shopping online, watching videos and taking surveys.  Points are then redeemed into your favorite gift cards or even PayPal cash.

swagbucks

I signed up earlier this summer and so far I have earned $6.43! They have tons of way to earn “swagbucks”, but I mainly use their search engine.

It’s perfect for in-between sets at the gym, when I search the web via phone anyways. I do a lot of wedding planning this way! Yup. They pay me to search for different bouquet ideas.

5.  Paid ViewPoint – $5.29 earned

(Free to sign up!)

>>> Try it –> HERE

Another highly rated, legitimate Survey site I recently discovered was Paid ViewPoint! PaidViewPoint pays you in gift cards AND PayPal cash. Since I am using this passive income for my wedding, I really love when these type of sites offer PayPal options! (as much as I would love me some Sephora giftcards…)

I find that these surveys are very short and they add up quick! Likewise, the more you use Paid ViewPoint the more you will earn per survey. They call this your “TraitScore”. I love that they reward their loyal users!

paidview

So far, I have only made $5.29 within a few months and my TraitScore is still pretty low. To be fair, I haven’t used this platform as much as I really should, given how quick the surveys are!

Goal: take more Paid View Point surveys on the stair master, raise my TraitScore, lose 5 lbs.

Not a bad way to earn some extra money, huh?

Honestly, you don’t even need to go to the gym to earn this money on the side… (shhh don’t tell anyone I told you that…) I mean, you could accomplish all of this on your couch… while eating Trader Joe’s pretzels.

If you found this helpful, please Pin & Share to spread the love <3

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Looking for more ways to earn passive income? Start a blog! See how I set up my blog for profitable success –> HERE

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