Blogging is no longer just a hobby for me, but a real way to quit the rat race and stay home with my son while we build our dream homestead. Here are the tools I’ve used to go from hobby blogging to making real money online.
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 my husband 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 taught for a living and focused most of my energy on my students. 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!
Start with a self-hosted WordPress.org blog
If you’re at all thinking you’d like to monetize a blog and not just blog for the fun of it, I highly recommend going ahead and setting up a WordPress.org blog on your own hosting. Why?
When you’re self-hosted YOU own your content and YOU choose how to monetize. If you blog for free through WordPress.com, Blogger, or other blog services you usually can’t put up your own ads or include many kinds of affiliate links. That isn’t to say you CAN’T make money with a free blog but it is a lot harder.
When I first started I had a free blog through WordPress.com and when I wanted to start monetizing I had one heck of a time transferring everything over to a proper host. That’s where SiteGround swooped in and saved the day!
I partnered with Site Ground because their rates were SUPER affordable, 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 and they seamlessly transferred EVERYTHING without me having to pay a dime of the $129 that WordPress normally charges for this service.
I have some serious love for the good people at Site Ground and how flawless their hosting has been for my blog. Every issue I’ve ever had, from transferring my old .xml files to switching to HTTPS has been resolved quickly and easily.
They also handle viral traffic with ease. When I had a post go crazy viral my traffic should have peaked my subscription limit, but it didn’t. Instead of crashing my site, they made allowances for my viral traffic! How great is that?!
I’ve had many blogging friends with Bluehost, another commonly recommended hosting service, who had their sites crash repeatedly from viral traffic. They ultimately switched over to SiteGround for their reliability. We’ve all been pretty happy!
If you purchase through my link, you get the discounted rate of $3.95/month so make sure you click through my link below! You won’t regret it!
Next, get some confidence and direction for monetizing your blog.
If you’re reading this then chances are good that you’re curious about starting a blog to earn income or you’re thinking of taking your hobby blog to the next level. I was in that second boat for sure! I realized that my blog was gaining significant traffic and had the potential to earn me income, but I wasn’t really sure what kind of actionable steps to take next.
This book is the one that really launched me.
I looked at a lot of the materials and literature out there from the “big bloggers”, but nothing really hit me quite like “Make Money Blogging at Any Level” by Victoria Pruett. Seeing how she’s managed to take two blogs from zero to earning her over $5000/month from her homestead is seriously inspiring. Check it out!
What about promoting your blog and driving traffic? 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 results. These are my numbers from last year when I first made the switch. CHECK IT OUT:
Within a few days of using BoardBooster’s free trial, my daily website traffic TRIPLED and my profile traffic was 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.
Get yourself a BoardBooster account HERE and start pinning!! Be sure to use my link so they know that I sent you.
I’m not going to tell you that blogging is a quick and easy way to make money, because it isn’t. It takes time to set up a blog with great content that can really serve others. It takes time to figure out what you’re doing and to find your creative mojo, not to mention navigate the business aspects of it.
But for me and my family it has been the pathway to being able to stay home with my son and earn an income at the same time. If nothing else, I wish I would have gotten serious about monetizing and improving my blog sooner!
Want to know what got this blog started? Check out our homestead progress and find out more about our cordwood homestead project here. You should also join us on Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram. I’m always pinning lots of great ideas on Pinterest too! Thanks for reading!