If you’re thinking of starting a blog, or if you already have a small blog, there are FOUR big tools you need to be using in order to drive traffic, build your audience, and make money. Check out how I use these four tools for my small blog and get started using them too (even if you have a weird niche like me)!
Several years ago, we kept getting real life requests for us to share our natural living knowledge online. These requests started when we were in the thick of cloth diapering, but really took off when we started our homesteading journey. Lots of people were interested in seeing us document the whole experience! Initially, it was actually MARK who began the blog and did the first few posts, but as time went on it became clear that the blog would be MY baby.
In the first year and a half, I mostly just blogged for fun and to share information – NOT to make money. After all, I teach for a living and focus most of my energy on my students, but over time it became clear that blogging was in fact an honest way to earn some extra cash.
With that in mind, I want to share with YOU how you can start a blog, boost traffic, and eventually even earn some money writing about what you love!
Disclaimer: This post contains affiliate links. Buying through these links doesn’t cost you a penny extra and helps to support our blog. Or at the very least, you’ll help buy me a fancy coffee. Thanks!
1. A Self-Hosted WordPress.org blog
First, if you want to have a successful (and eventually, a PROFITABLE MONEY MAKING) blog, you NEED to be self-hosted. Most free platforms do not enable you to monetize the way a self-hosted blog can. Fortunately for you, there are lots of great hosts out there! I’ve seen lots of recommendations for Bluehost, but when it came time for me to choose between hosts I just couldn’t justify paying for two or three years of hosting up front to get the same “monthly” rate I’m getting now. Does it make mathematical sense to do that? Yes. Could I stomach paying that much up front at the time? No, because I had no idea where this was headed. And honestly, I like to keep my options open.
I ultimately partnered with Site Ground because their rates were SUPER affordable, they had amazing reviews online, they let me buy less up front for the same price, and their customer service was TOP NOTCH. For example, after I unsuccessfully tried to migrate my old WordPress database to a new install, I contacted Site Ground’s customer support. They got back to me within minutes, I gave them all of my info, and they seamlessly transferred EVERYTHING without me having to pay the $129 that WordPress normally charges for this service.
Maybe I’ll outgrow their offerings one day. Maybe I won’t. But for now, I have some serious love for the good people at Site Ground and how flawless their hosting has been for my small blog.
If you purchase through my exclusive link, you get a nice discount of $3.95/month that you WON’T get by purchasing directly from them (normally $9.95), so make sure you click through my link below! You won’t regret it!
The majority of successful bloggers out there use WordPress, and for good reason. Their platform is top-notch and there are a multitude of themes and add-ons that let you easily create and monetize your blog. Just make sure you create your account on WordPress.org and not .com! You can’t monetize via affiliate marketing and other money-generating avenues through WordPress.com, so don’t make that mistake like I did! I ended up having to migrate everything, which was an unnecessary headache.
2. Pinterest for Business
Would you believe that a whopping 75% of my traffic comes from Pinterest? Pinterest! Facebook is another 15% and the remaining 10% is split between Google Search, Twitter, Instagram, and blogging networks. Pinterest is one of the biggest drivers of traffic to a LOT of blogs these days. Why? Think about it: it’s basically a search engine where the users are sharing EXACTLY WHAT THEY WANT and are interested in on a daily basis. Users are sharing and saving what they want to see, and this info makes it super easy for bloggers to find their audience and share their knowledge with them in a fun way.
If you’re a current Pinterest user, you can convert your account to a business account for FREE HERE. If you don’t use Pinterest at all, go ahead and use that link to set up a brand new account! It looks and feels just like a regular account, but it gives you access to lots of information like your analytics and sponsored pins.
After that, the biggest way to drive traffic to your Pinterest profile and ultimately your website is to pin ALL. THE. TIME.
But if you’re like me, you have things to do! That’s where Boardbooster comes in.
Boardbooster automatically pins to your boards for you. You can:
- Curate pins into secret boards and have them post at high traffic times.
- Have it search for pins and add them to your boards automatically
- (My personal favorite) repin older items on your boards to make them fresh again
- Create campaigns to pin your pins to group boards and generate traffic!
I used Tailwind for a while, and honestly, I like its interface a lot better. Boardbooster feels a bit unrefined visually and functionally, but I CAN’T ARGUE WITH THE NUMBERS AND RESULTS IT HAS GOTTEN ME, BECAUSE IT’S AMAZING. CHECK IT OUT:
My daily traffic isn’t as big as some of the mega bloggers, or even as big as other people in my weird little niche, but within a few days of using BoardBooster’s free trial, my daily website traffic TRIPLED and my profile traffic is BOOMING. When you convert to a business account, you may be pleasantly surprised to see how many people your profile is ALREADY reaching. When I started, my average monthly viewers for people who see my pins (the purple one at the bottom of the pic) was around 15,000, which seemed HUGE to me since I only had like 150 followers or something. It hovered around there until I started using Tailwind. That nudged me up over 20,000 but since I got BoardBooster it’s now around 300,000. Not too shabby for a small blog!
Get yourself a BoardBooster account HERE and start pinning!! Be sure to use my link so they know that I sent you.
4. Make images with PicMonkey
The two big image makers that most bloggers use are Canva and PicMonkey. I saw a LOT of big bloggers promoting Canva, so I decided to check it out. While I think they make it relatively easy to make beautiful pins, I didn’t like the functionality and seeming lack of control over how I make my images. With PicMonkey, I have a lot of freedom to manipulate the images the way I want them to be, plus the interface is really easy to use. I went ahead and bit the bullet to buy Royale and haven’t looked back. The images I can make now are so much better, and I’m learning more all the time about how to make them better. For example, the image above with the Pinterest graphs was all made in PicMonkey starting with a collage.
I use it to make everything including:
- Pinterest images
- Facebook sharing images
- Profile pictures
- Facebook headers
- In-post images
- I even used it to make cards for Father’s Day this year (not that it’s part of the blog, but hey…)
***Hint hint for my fellow teacher friends: PicMonkey is AWESOME for making all sorts of classroom images like infographics, posters, info sheets, worksheets, binder covers, signs, bulletin board images, and more!
Check out PicMonkey here through my link here or click the image below! You can play around with it for free or upgrade to Royale for $3.99 per month! You can even try it free for a week. I had the free trial and ultimately let it purchase at the end of the week. It’s totally worth it!
So there you have it! The four big things you need to get started with your small blog! Sure, there’s a lot more out there to know about blogging, but if you just want to get started or up your blogging game a bit, this is a great place to start. Even if you have a weird little niche like I do, you can have success with blogging!
If you’re wondering what my weird little niche even is, stop on over to my project overview HERE. If you’re into simple living, smart money, and blogging about how to make the world a little bit greener, I’d love to have you stick around to find out more! Together, we can make the world a little bit brighter! Be sure to Like me on Facebook, check out what’s happening on Pinterest, and see our world through Instagram.
Thanks for visiting!