How to Start a Blog + Make Money (SEO, grow your traffic, pitch to brands & more)

*includes affiliate links

How to Start a Blog + Make Money

As some of you may know, I am the admin (creator) of the Facebook group “Boss Girl Bloggers.” When I first created this group it was because I wanted a place where female bloggers could all come together and interact. I wanted us all to learn how to start a blog together and grow from one another. If I was surrounded by like minded people, I would be more likely to succeed. Everyone in this group continues to inspire me daily.

At first my group was intended for “fashion, beauty and lifestyle” niche bloggers. It has since grown into so much more! I found that the groups I participated in became hard to get any questions answered. That’s when I decided to try and start my own! I am so happy I chose to because I have met a supporting group of boss ladies!

One thing I noticed most about this group is that many bloggers have been asking the same question; “How do I get started? Should I use wordpress .com or .org? This is why I have created this post for all who may want to use the tips that helped me!


Self Hosting

One of the most common questions asked is “Should I pay for premium or business WordPress .com plans? What is Self Hosting? Which self host should I go through?” I get these questions asked DAILY!

My opinion:

DO NOT WASTE YOUR MONEY PAYING FOR WORDPRESS .COM UPGRADES! I upgraded to premium before being educated on the topic, it was POINTLESS! I was unable to use any of the plug ins which was the main reason why I wanted to upgrade to begin with. I also recommend If you ever plan on monetizing your blog and growing your email list, SELF HOST! Brands are more likely to work with someone who has their own domain and self hosts rather than those who do not. It will also give you the most creative freedom. I absolutely love being able to use plug ins and ads to my blog.

Now… which host do you go for?

After researching plenty of self host servers, I chose Site Ground! Here’s why:

  1. Site Ground is only 3.95$ a month with my sign up link – HERE, SUPER CHEAP!
  2. They have 24/7 AMAZING customer service! Quick to respond and informative.
  3. They transferred my wordpress .com site over to .org for NO additional cost! Talk about no headaches! PHEW!
  4. They have fast servers! Loading takes no time.
  5. Zero issues thus far!

Once you get your self host figured out and paid for, you can install wordpress .org YAY! (If you go through siteground you can message them to help you install wordpress .org which I found awesome!)

Make sure to choose a domain name that fits you + your niche. Something that isn’t too hard to remember but lets your readers know a little about your site!

 

read an even more detailed post about self hosting here


Niche

After you have your site created I would suggest figuring out what your “niche” is. What is it that you have to offer to others? Are you talented in makeup and everything beauty related? Tech savvy? Maybe you enjoy influencing others through your style. Whatever it is that you enjoy writing about, make it your blog’s focus. Focusing on one topic or “niche” helps to grow your “tribe” (readers who are interested in your content and support you.)


Now onto the fun stuff! 

My next most popular question is “How do you get traffic to your blog?! HELP!” Don’t worry, I got you covered! There are a few ways and if you read my previous post a little while back on “What you should be doing to grow blog + social media traffic” then this may all sound a little familiar.

  1. Join Facebook Groups! I can’t stress this enough. Facebook has been one of my major sources of blog traffic. The important thing is to stay active in Facebook groups. Don’t join and forget about them. Constantly promote your blog and posts wherever you are ALLOWED to. I capitalize allowed because it really is important to make sure you aren’t spamming. Don’t post your blog and posts in places that don’t allow it. It comes off “annoying” and “spammy” and chances are, no one will check it out. There are many threads that allow you to post them within the Facebook groups. If you would like some Facebook group recommendations you can find some of my favorites here !
  2. Pinterest is also key! My second source of blog traffic is Pinterest! It took me a while to grow my following on Pinterest to where it is now. I have created a post all about how to use Pinterest to grow your blog etc. You can check that out here. Focus on joining Pinterest group boards and promoting your blog posts through these group boards! Make sure you are creating picture perfect, high quality pins for each blog post! It will seriously make a difference! Again you can check that out on my dedicated Pinterest post!
  3. Have some patience! Success does not happen over night. You can’t expect your blog post to go viral on the first post. I wish it happened that way, but it doesn’t usually. Many successful bloggers were exactly where you are now! Wondering when they will gain subscribers, see income growth, and sky rocketing page views. Some took over a year or two before they could finally quit their 9-5 job! Have faith! Don’t give up either! No one ever succeeds if they give up. Common sense.
  4. Be Consistent! Readers love someone who is consistent. Come up with a schedule for your blog. Post every Monday, Wednesday Friday or Tuesday, Thursday, Sunday! I aim for three posts a week which I think is perfect for just starting out!
  5. Make sure your content is passionate! Don’t write about something you are not passionate about because your readers will see right through you! They will only care if you do!
  6. Make it about more than just the money! If you are blogging simply because you want to make money, it just will never work. You need to blog because you enjoy it. Making money from blogging takes a lot of dedication and sleepless nights! It also takes someone who is in it for the right reasons. Enjoy writing, be passionate, be consistent, have dedication and one day the views + money will come.

Of course if you are a beauty/fashion blogger you know how important and big of a role Instagram plays for you! So many have asked “How do you grow your Instagram following?” I have also answered this question in a detailed manner and you can check all of my secrets out here !


SEO

This is something everyone struggles with when they first start out. SEO stands for Search Engine Optimization. SEO is focusing on getting your blog post ranked high on search engines. You need proper optimization to achieve this!

First! Install an SEO plugin. I use the popular YOAST SEO Plugin. This is such a helpful tool!

Second! You have to determine your keywords. Do Keyword research too if you have to! Choosing the right keywords is important. Use keywords that are searched often. Or you could use the “long tail keywords” trick. It’s a 3-4 phrase that is specific to what you are blogging about. There isn’t as much competition because it’s searched less, which makes for a better chance of ranking higher.

Third! Make sure through out your post you are using your key words & include key words in your meta description.

Fourth! Make sure you have subheadings. These subheadings let search engines know what your post is about. H2 heading is a go to.

Fifth! Make sure you are giving your images a title and ALT text. This let’s search engines know what your picture is about which helps with optimization.

Sixth! Link back to previous posts that you have done! Refer back to your old posts by linking them in your new post. This really helps optimization as well as getting readers to view older posts.


Email List

Besides the growing of the traffic, you also want to make sure you are working on growing your email list. In order to do so you should install and use an email list builder. The one I have chosen is Mailerlite. It is completely free for up to 1,000 subscribers and it is SO easy to use! It also gives you an option to create landing pages and automatic messages for when someone signs up. Automatic messaging is what I use for my “Opt in freebie”.

When focusing on getting people to sign up for your email list, one thing I found to work is creating an opt in. (something your subscribers will get for free because they signed up on your blog).  Brands will give a 15% off discount for their first purchase etc. who sign up.

For bloggers some ideas could be:

  • A free how to guide … ( whatever your niche is)
  • Free printables
  • Free style guides
  • A Free E Book on your topic of choice

Whatever it is that your readers enjoy hearing about + whatever your niche is, base your opt – in around that! 


How to Make Money

Now I want to switch gears over to making money! Of course everyone dreams of traveling the world and working from anywhere! Not to mention having a job you love would be pretty cool too.  But how?! How does one make the money!? 

 

Affilate Programs

For me personally, affiliate link programs are a great start BUT the money doesn’t show fast. It adds up gradually. Some of the affiliate programs I would recommend are:

shareasale.com – your basic affiliate market where you can work with brands and use their links, some pay for click + others for if they make a purchase.

You can join Style Collective and use their affiliate link which gives you 10$ per sign up! it’s 10$ a month and it gives you access to SO MUCH! You get to interact and meet other beauty/fashion bloggers, they host events, they give you access to their blogger library filled with useful tips and articles, you create a SC sister bond via Instagram and so much more! Style Collective has actually helped me grow my Instagram.

I also use Shop Style Collective which I really enjoy because it too pays for featuring links and pay per click etc.

Another popular affiliate program in the blogger community is Amazon associates! I find the money making for this program takes a lot longer but it’s worth a shot!

You can also install Google Adsense, perfect for making money on the side.


Collaborating With Brands

This is an awesome way to start making money blogging. Brands look towards “influencers” and bloggers to “advertise” for them. They may ask you to post a picture on Instagram of you using their product, or ask for a “shout out”. When they ask this, normally “influencers” will ask for compensation. Some charge anywhere from $50-$400 dollars. It depends on how active your followers are with your posts, your follower count, and how good your content appears to be.

Other ways to collaborate with brands is simply for free product.

My example:

I reached out to a mattress company because I am doing a blog series where I re do my room. My main focus is that I wanted to get a new mattress to feature on this post. I reached out to a familiar mattress company who I trust (love) and pitched my collaboration proposal to them.

“Hi there,

My name is Lauren (ELL) from www.ellduclos.blog or @EllDuclos on Instagram. I came across your mattress a while back and I truly loved it. I am creating a blog series “Bedroom Make Over “ and I think your mattress would be a perfect fit. I would love to feature your mattress in exchange for a free mattress to feature. I can even include an unboxing of the mattress if you’d like?

My readers are always interested in new home decor and finds. Not to mention everyone loves finding a quality mattress at an affordable cost! I think my readers and followers would be attracted to your product!

I hope to hear back from you soon!

Ell”

Just about a day later I received a reply back and I got the “ok!”, they agreed to collaborate with me! I was over the moon happy because this is a big step for me and my blog. Not to mention a free mattress that I truly am obsessed with is an added bonus!

This isn’t me trying to brag or anything like that! This is me telling you to get out of your comfort zone and PITCH yourself to brands! You have nothing to lose and everything to gain! My following is not huge! I have made money from blogging, even with a smaller following.

START BELIEVING IN YOURSELF. IF YOU CAN’T, THEN WHO ELSE WILL?

How to find brands to collaborate with?

This is a common question and I have some answers!

  1. Turn your Instagram into a business Instagram and provide your email. This has helped me so much! Once I converted to a business account, I started to receive emails from small companies who wanted to work with me! Please note * I only work with brands that I am interested in and actually enjoy their product! That’s the only way to do it. Otherwise, your readers will begin to not trust you. You are supposed to be honest with your readers. Don’t promote product that you don’t like. HUGE RULE!
  2. Search hashtags for brands who may want to collab. Some to search are #BloggersWanted #Sponsor #Sponsored #ad #advertisement — These are hashtags that are incorporated with brands.
  3. Tweet! Brands look on twitter often for potential influencers.
  4. Sign up to influencer marketing platforms!

Some I Use:

Fiverr – This is a great platform where you can score social media manager leads, freelance writing and photography opportunities, proofreading jobs, or even get to write a blog post to earn money.

Izea – Reaches you to brands to collab with

Revfluence – Another great influencer marketing platform that connects you with some top brands! I think you need at least 3k views a month on your blog and 500 + likes on your instagram photos to get approved though.

Once you find a brand you may be interested in collaborating with, send them a cold email! Pitch to them like I did! Send them your media kit too! I suggest having a media kit made that you can attach to your pitch. A media kit will let the brand know; who you are, what your audience is like/what they’re interested in, your social media impact (followers/views), what brands you’ve worked with in the past, what you are offering and benefiting them with.


DON’T GIVE UP

These tips have worked for me and i’m sure they can work for you as well! I know blogging can get overwhelming and stressful, sometimes it seems as if you can’t get organized! So I put together a post also, on how to stay organized, motivated, and productive as a blogger

The most important thing to remember is that no person’s journey to success is the same. We all get there at our own pace. As long as you never give up on your goals + dreams, you can truly accomplish what you put your mind to!

I have faith in us boss babes! We are going to succeed together!

xx

Ell

Author: ellduclos

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  • Hi Ell! Thank you SOOO much for this post! I’m on YouTube and Instagram since long time ago and I knew that I must be missing something because I can’t make it work! You post explains a lot! Thank you for all and for our awesome Facebook page!!

  • This is such an incredible resource! As someone who is finally starting to take her blog to the next level, you can never read too many articles like this, but your suggestions are simple and straightforward. The email pitch bit is especially helpful!

  • This is a fantastic post and you included such fantastic information, especially about the self hosting. I have been starting to research self hosting vs going up one more level with Word Press and you’ve helped me decide! Thank you!

  • SO MUCH GOOD INFO!!! Joining blogging groups, such as yours, on FB has been key to growing my following. I love this. I need to keep working on pinterest and on a free “glass of champagne” to give away when someone subscribes. Great post.

  • It’s really nice to be able to come to other bloggers and get so much valuable information to help me grow and remain Positive that I can be succesful! Thank you!!

  • This is such an awesome post! I just started my blog and this has so much good information I just bookmarked it! Thank you for putting this together!

  • I am overwhelmed at the amount of amazing information you provided! Thank you so much! I took notes. I am new to blogging and this is giving me the confidence to keep going and to improve my content and succeed! Thank you so much for this!

  • Amazing post! As someone who is transitioning form wordpress.com to .org soon and looking to make a side income these tips are great. I have had a slow growth but that’s ok because my blog started out as a place for me to relax and declutter my mind from medical school. It has grown to be so much more though. Thanks for sharing!

  • This is such a great post and so thorough. I just started working on my following now, before I was working on content. It took me a while to realize you have to spend a lot of time growing your audience before you can start monetizing your blog.

  • Thank you for sharing these tips! I’ve been wondering, because I upgraded and bought a domain on WordPress.com. If you move to a self host, can you transfer your domain from the .com to WordPress.org? Then, also, if you want to change your domain name to something else, can you?

    • Yes you can! Go through site ground like I mentioned and if you message their support they will do it all for you for no additional cost! The easiet way!!

  • Wow, just discovered this post and your blog via your Facebook group, which I joined today! And I must say, wow, such an incredibly helpful post with so much information!! I started my first blog in 2009 and the whole world of blogging has changed so much, but it’s all about learning and getting good info! LOVE your content and willingness to share. Can’t wait to read more! xoxo Neha. (nehabeauty.com)

  • This is really helpful, thank you! 🙂 The only question I have is about the media toolkit. I have heard other bloggers talk about this before but if you are new to blogging and you don’t get that many views yet and haven’t worked with any brands before, what would you suggest doing in this case?

    • You can’t mention previous brands but you can mention your stats! Like blog visitors, Instagram followers etc! 😊 It’s a great Start!

  • Love
    Your blog thanks for sharing all this information. I am just getting started and excited for all the things to come. I’m wondering what do you use to edit your photos. I know when using Pinterest photos are a big part. Any advice?

  • Awesome information! I wouldn’t have thought to reach out to a company and ask for a free product to review. I kinda need a new mattress too! 😋I love that you included the actual email so we have an idea of what to say!

  • Love this!!! I have been looking for a blog like this. So I am quite new to the blogging world. I use blogger and I have a domain name. I tried using the google adsense but got denied. So how do I go about it to earning money?

    • Thank you! I am glad you like it (: Hm! I’m not sure if blogger allows adsense! I would look into that! I definitely recommend self hosting like I said! It’s worth it! Also I know adsense won’t approve unless you have a disclosure! Like the one I have here on my blog!

  • Are you kidding me? Finally, someone who is there to help and not charge an arm and a leg. Thank you! I am so grateful to you. I am so thrilled I found your community. I blogged for about a couple of years and never gained a following, subscribers, or money so I gave up. Fast forward to now and I am trying again with the same results. NADA. I was just about to give up because everyone charges like 300.00 to help. Well, darlin, If I had 300.00 But I don’t. I am excited to be part of your community and looking forward to watching my blog actually take off. Sigh, a big giant sigh of relief.

  • This is so helpful it will surely help me a lot with my blog…thanks so much its good to learn from those who are already so aware of how blogging works