I’m sharing the top 5 steps I took to make money quickly and earn a full time income blogging in under 6 months!
Have you ever dreamed of starting a blog, but didn’t know if it was worth your time?
I know it sounds totally cheesy, but it was not very long ago that I was in your exact shoes. I was scouring articles, analyzing income reports, and listening to podcasts to determine if blogging was actually worth a shot. And now I am writing this post after making over $5,000/month in just the fourth month after launching my blog!
Note: post contains affiliate links.
Myth #1: I know you will hear people say all the time that blogging is a creative outlet and isn’t meant to make money.
Well, I only agree with half of that statement: blogging is a fantastic creative outlet, but the goal should always be to find a way to monetize your creativity. In fact, that is what allows you to keep doing it. If you want to make money, you need to treat blogging like a business, not a hobby. Let me tell you a bit of my story to help explain…
Why did I start blogging?
The last year was truly life-changing for me. I got married, moved across the country, left my job, and bought a house. Just one of those events is huge, but all four within 6 months of each other was pretty nutty I must say. You can read even more about how it changed my life here.
But, it also turned out to be one of the best years of my life! It pushed me out of my comfort zone and encouraged me to take the leap of faith I’ve always wanted and become my own boss.
When I left a well paid, stable corporate position in Los Angeles and moved to Texas for my husband’s job, I was both scared and excited about what I would do next.
Here are the top three reasons I chose blogging:
- My husband and I were talking about starting a family in the next few years so I wanted to build a career with flexible hours.
- I was sick of the 9-5 grind of corporate life and wanted a path with more growth opportunities where I could be more responsible for my own success.
- I wasn’t sure exactly what I wanted to do at first, so I wanted to do something that wouldn’t cost much to start and would be relatively low-risk.
You make it sound so easy!
Don’t get me wrong, it is a lot of hard work, but I looooove it!
The line between work and life blurred and I would work late into the nights setting up my website and preparing for its launch. There were plenty of setbacks and mistakes I made and continue to make along to way.
Myth #2: You need to know exactly what you want to do before you start.
I actually started She Tried What with a completely different vision and ended up restructuring it based on what was working. You’ve got to be able to pivot (any Silicon Valley fans out there?).
I wasted way too many hours stressing about whether I should build a niche or broader lifestyle blog and trying to flush out each and every detail of what it would look like and who my audience would be. A lot of successful bloggers out there will tell you that you need to begin with the end in mind, but I’m here to tell you almost the exact opposite.
Instead, my advice to prospective new bloggers is get started!
You know the famous Gretzky quote that “you miss 100% of the shots you don’t take”? Well, the same applies to blogging. You can dream up dozens of article ideas, but people can’t read your ideas. Your ideas can’t make you money. You need to put them into action first.
A ton of success as a new blogger is experimentation and responding to trial and error. Your audience will tell you what is working and what isn’t and the most important thing is to be flexible enough to listen.
Myth #3: You have to have a special talent you can blog about.
My husband will tell you how many times I told him that I didn’t feel like I was good enough at anything to create a successful blog. I wasn’t an amazing cook, makeup artist, gardener, or fashion model. What could I possibly write about?
It took me several tries starting down paths that didn’t work out to find what I was meant to blog about: I discovered that the problem wasn’t that there wasn’t enough content out there, it was that people didn’t have the time to find that great content.
As an avid blog reader and obsessive pinner for years, I realized that this the perfect path for me. So, I started writing curated posts to bring attention to amazing things I would find. And guess what? They were instantly more popular! I’ll show you my most recent month’s analytics to prove it…
It may take time and some trial and error, but you will find your path and your audience. If you are struggling with what to blog about, here are some ways to find inspiration:
- Look for themes in what you have pinned on your personal Pinterest account
- Think about what problems you and your friends have been facing and try to solve them with your blog
- Look at your google search history in the past couple months. Are there any common threads? For instance, maybe you’ve been looking for bridal shower and birthday party ideas. Chances are lots of others are too, so maybe you’d enjoy writing a blog about party ideas.
There’s a quote by Henry Ford that I constantly recite to myself throughout this journey: “Whether you think you can, or you think you can’t–you’re right.”
It won’t always be a straightforward or easy path, but if you believe you will be successful and work tirelessly towards your goals, you will be — even if not in the way you first envisioned.
What are the 5 most important things I did to achieve such quick success with my new blog?
Alright, enough with the feel-good stories and pep talks, let’s get down to the good stuff. I am all about actionable tips that you can easily follow to create your own successful blog.
So here are the top 5 things I did (and you can do too!) that were essential to my success. These steps are super important if you want to maximize traffic and revenue while minimizing any out of pocket expenses as a new blogger. Now, keep in mind that these are the 5 most important steps but not the only steps you need to take to set up your new blog.
1. Create a self-hosted domain for $3.95/month
I selected BlueHost as my hosting provider, which I still use and believe is one of the best deals out there. It is a super low monthly fee and you get a free domain name when you sign up! They make starting a blog super easy – you can be ready to start in under 20 minutes!
I signed up for the basic plan at first, but have recently upgraded to prime (for just a little bit more) to support my growing traffic. I also recommend signing up for at least a 2 year plan for three reasons:
- You’ll get the best monthly rates and end up saving big money
- It’s no-risk because if you want to cancel after 1 year, you will get the entire cost of the 2nd year refunded back to you!
- Experts believe that your domain age and pre-paid period are some of the factors that Google looks at when determining their rankings.
PST! Insider tip: sign up for Ebates using my referral link and use it when you sign up for BlueHost to get $10 back – that’s 2 months free!
Why not use a free blogging service?
It will hurt your ability to gain credibility with your audience and monetize your site. Both of these were super important to me, so going with a self-hosted domain was a no-brainer for me.
Sign up for BlueHost here!
2. Buy the Genesis framework and a Studiopress theme here.
Don’t waste your time trying to design your blog from scratch. Leave it to the professionals.
I bought the Genesis framework and the Foodie Pro theme from Studiopress.
The Genesis framework may be the most well-regarded and popular framework out there so it was an easy choice. Then, I bought the Studiopress theme called Foodie Pro because I liked the minimalist aesthetic that also had plenty of customizable features and capabilities. You can choose whatever theme you like, but make sure it is from a reputable provider like Studiopress and is mobile-optimized.
What’s the difference between the Genesis framework and the theme? Good question. Think of the framework like a houses walls and foundation and then the theme as the paint color.
By buying this framework and theme ready to go, it’s like a giant leap frog that will save you hours of frustration and headaches and get you making money much faster. It will still take time to personalize everything for your site, but it will be SO MUCH EASIER than starting from scratch – trust me!
3. Focus only on Pinterest to drive traffic.
Don’t stretch yourself too thin and try to grow all your social media channels at once. Pick one to focus on at first and I would highly recommend that it be Pinterest. By far, Pinterest has been my most successful source of traffic and you will find endless bloggers who will tell you the same thing. Now keep in mind that this especially effective for bloggers that focus on Pinterest-friendly topics like DIY, recipes, home decor, etc.
As a new blogger, you simply will not have the Domain Authority to drive serious traffic from SEO, which is why Pinterest is so crucial to a new blogger’s success.
How can I drive traffic from Pinterest?
- Learn how to create eye-catching pins. Study the pins of other successful bloggers. Use bright colors, images, and large, legible fonts on your pins. Also, one of the most important factors in getting repins in the size. I recommend creating pins that are 560 by 1460 pixels. I use Canva (it’s free!) to create my pins.
- Join group boards. My favorite strategy for this was looking at what group boards other bloggers in your niche belong to. However, Boardbooster just rolled out a brand new (and AWESOME!) feature where you can see the top group boards in each category as part as your subscription. Group boards are make or break for a new blogger. Since you won’t have a huge following when you are just starting out, group boards allow your pins to still be seen by thousands if not millions!
- IMPORTANT: Join Boardbooster. Despite being the best traffic source for new bloggers, if done right, Pinterest can also be the least time consuming. That’s where Boardbooster comes in. It is an AMAZING service that allows you to easily automate your pins to drive incredible traffic. I can’t recommend it enough!
Myth #4: You don’t need a ton of Pinterest followers to drive HUGE traffic.
Using these 3 things above, I am able to get over 12 million monthly views on Pinterest despite having just 1-2k Pinterest followers in the beginning!
Once you start driving considerable traffic to your site (at least 10k/month), this next step is the single most important step you take towards monetizing your blog.
Nearly 100% of my income in my first few months of blogging comes from display ads! They are an awesome “set it and forget it” income source and more stable than most other sources. I started out with regular Google Adsense and was making pennies daily. But, once my traffic really started growing and I hit 10k/month, I signed up for Ezoic and it was a game-changer!
It is to set up a reputable ad service on your site. You can start when your traffic numbers are lower, but I highly recommend focusing your efforts on one thing at a time as I have outlined here. First, it’s creating your content, then its driving traffic, then it is monetizing with ads.
Some ad services will require much higher traffic and have long waitlists for approval, which is why I recommend Ezoic for new bloggers. Ezoic is great because:
- It uses artificial intelligence to find the best ad combinations on all devices (desktop, mobile, and tablet) that will drive revenue while also not harming your user’s experience.
- It’s approval requirements are easier than many of the other reputable ad services so you can get started much earlier, which means making money earlier! You only need proof of 10k/month traffic instead of 100k like some of the other providers.
- Because of it’s artificial intelligence, it continues to learn from your site and your EPMV (earnings per thousand visitors) will continue to grow!
Sign up for Ezoic as soon as you hit 10k/month here!
Then, once you hit 100k pageviews/month, take the next step and switch to AdThrive.
I honestly cannot say enough amazing things about AdThrive, but here are a few:
- I grew my RPM (revenue per 1,000 pageviews) from $6 to almost $10 in just 1 month!
- It could not be easier! You take a quick survey about your ad preferences and AdThrive takes care of the rest – absolutely incredible! (I know I am excessively using !!! here, but that’s how much I love AdThrive!!)
5. Be selective about your affiliates: quality over quantity.
It can be easy to get bogged down in applying for every affiliate program out there with the hope of increasing your earnings, but I don’t recommend it. I’ll let you in on a little secret: the most successful bloggers who make tens of thousands of dollars from affiliates get most of their affiliate income (I’m talking 80-90%) from just a few affiliates!
I recommend you do the same and select 2-3 affiliates that you personally use and feel are a good fit for your readers to focus on at first. It will be the best use of your time and come across as more honest and genuine to your audience.
Phew! Anyone else a little winded from all that information? Since I was covering so much information, I didn’t want to go into too much detail on each step and lose everyone, but I am more than happy to write more in depth posts on areas that you would like to hear more about or questions you have. So, let me know below in the comments what those are.
Starting blogging is hands down one of the best decisions I have ever made, and I hope this post motivates others that it is possible to make money quickly with your new blog!
Comment below with what questions on blogging you’d like to see answered next in our “How to Make Money Blogging” series.