Thanks to food bloggers Pinch of Yum’s income reports I’ve become very interested in how to make money blogging. Their reports are one of my favorite things to read and I learn so much from each one. I’ve made money because of my blog but rarely on my blog directly. In September I started working at The Blogger Network and now I have ads on my site, which is a foundation for making money blogging.
I recently found Chelsea’s Messy Apron and her ebook, How I Made $40k My First Year Blogging. It’s become one of my favorites. I realize that both of my examples are from food bloggers, which means their content is skewed towards that niche, but I think any blogger could learn from them. First, I have to say that I respect anyone who can make that kind of cash from blogging in just one year. It’s very impressive!
$14k of her first year’s blog income was from ads. The great thing about ads is that is once you set them up you make money passively (esp. if someone else manages the adsfor you). I see a lot of blogs apply to join The Blogger Network and most are too small to meet our minimum pageviews of 90k. She reached that threshold in just 3 months and I have deep respect for that accomplishment. I don’t usually see a lot of detailed information about ads so I appreciated her straightforward explanations. She uses several different ad providers as well as networks that connect bloggers to sponsored post opportunities.
The Importance of Mindset
One of the foundations of success is mindset and Chelsea talks about how this. She had another blog that didn’t take off. She took what she learned about creating compelling content, headlines and images. It worked. I like how she started off with the intention of success and thinking like a business.
When I first started blogging, I immediately started with the mindset that people would be reading my blog. This mindset is very important. If you only think that your mom is going to read your blog, your content will reflect accordingly. ..I am a strong believer in the power of our thoughts. Right off the bat, it is important to imagine your blog being successful and your skills improving. .. If you think you won’t ever get followers (or make money, improve your photography, etc.) you are right—you won’t! On the other hand if you are positive and confident you will gain followers (or however you measure success), you will!
Investing in your Blog Pays Off
Another lesson that Chelsea learned is that you need to invest in your blog. She spent 40 hours a week on it as well as investing money into it. She regrets going DIY in her site design at first and you can see how she gradually realized that didn’t pay off.
“If you are serious about making an income off of your blog, you are going to have to invest.”
One thing I would’ve included is investing in blog conferences but being a review of her first year, she may not have attended any. I know bloggers have brainstorming sessions and other free ways of learning from each other, but it’s not the same as attending a blogging conference. They are on a much larger scale than a group getting together to chat. That means they can bring the best speakers, accommodate a larger crowd (more potential partners), and bring brands on as sponsors. You get to look for people to collaborate with in your niche for future giveaways and projects. There’s nothing like getting a group together in person to plan. Face to face meeting can be so much more efficient. Attending a conference is also how you meet brands that you can work with. You can go direct and pitch your services and skill set. In other words, conferences represent OPPORTUNITY.
I really like how Chelsea divided her book into months so you could see the progress she made. You get to live the experience with her. She shares information about the hashtags she uses that are effective for her, the sites that bring her the most traffic, and the tools she uses in her business. There is a lot of information about photography including props, lighting, cameras and lenses.
Group Boards on Pinterest
In addition to a lot of spot on advice, she has short tutorials on everything from setting up a WordPress site to creating a cover image for Facebook and other social media sites. I particularly liked the walk through of Ahalogy for scheduling pins on Pinterest. She also included a section on group boards on Pinterest but not as much detail about how to find group boards to join. There are sites like PinGroupie that are directories to help you find group boards by topic.
Facebook Groups for Bloggers
While she did talk about a Facebook group she belongs to, Chelsea didn’t link to it or go into much more detail. As part of The Blogger Network you can join our private Facebook group and network with the some of the biggest names in blogging (esp. in the lifestyle niche). I’m the admin of Utah Bloggers on Facebook. There are so many opportunities and friendships that are a result of these kinds of groups! Before I go to a blogging conference I make sure to join their Facebook group if they have one.
After reading this book I realize I need to do more planning and goal setting. I want to check out her taxes spreadsheet. I really like how she shows you exactly how to do a giveaway with up to 15 people with the spreadsheets and sample emails you can use as an example of how it’s done. I’m inspired to look for more trending content to base my posts on. I know some just from Twitter and people I follow on Facebook but keeping up with what’s new but I could do even better at. However, I don’t envision my blog getting a lot bigger. I make more money other ways and it’s tough to keep up with posting. It’s not worth the investment to me any more. This blog has led to years of business, my book, and it helped build my reputation. Everything else is a bonus. I don’t miss the comments and interaction that I used to have because I’m in a different phase now. A lot of that interaction happens on Facebook and some on Twitter.
I really think this ebook is great for beginners and even more advanced bloggers alike. I wish I’d had it when I started blogging. Probably my biggest mistake of all was getting a WordPress hosted blog. You are at their mercy. My blog got deleted twice because of a link that was spammy (I still don’t know what link it was but I had no warning and no recourse). I lost a ton of traffic and never fully recovered when I switched my blog to self-hosted. I hope every new blogger learns to just pay for your domain and hosting from the start.
Have you read “How I Made $40k My First Year Blogging,” I’d love to hear what you think about it. What did you learn and was it the right level for you?