5 Things You Can Do Right Now To Start Your Blog

So many of us wonder how to start a blog, if it's even worth the time, etc. Well I'm here to tell you that starting a blog is worth it and it totally doesn't have to be a headache. Here are 5 things you can do right now to start your blog.

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1. Pick what you wanna blog about  

It's super important that you have a niche or a topic that you want to talk about. This helps you determine who your target market will be, how you'll brand yourself, etc. Pick your passion topic and move on to step 2. 

2. Pick out your website name

And pick out like 2 or 3 just incase. Sometimes the name we choose will be taken and it sucks. So pick 2 or 3 names you want to use. I'll admit this part can be difficult but it's what defines your blog ! Think of words that relate to your topic for example productivity/planning I picked paper and a plan. Cooking you could do two pots and a pan (LMAO!) Or something. Think outside the box and see what you come up with. 

3. Research hosts and pick your favorite  

I personally use squarespace for my domain and hosting. Others include ning, wordpress, Wix, etc. They all have different plans, costs, etc. So make sure to research a little bit. Once you find one, be sure to test your website name ideas to make sure they're available.

4. Sign up for mailchimp like now.  

Trust me when I say you're gonna want to start your email list as soon as you possibly can. Even if you're sending out a newsletter or post notifications, having a client base is super important for later down the road. Be sure to offer an incentive or a reason for signing up. Like discounts, freebies, etc.  Plus when you sign up using my code you get $30 in mailchimp credits to use if you sign up for a paid plan. Dont worry, you can stay on the free plan until you hit a certain subscriber cap! 

5. Make your social media accounts  

You'll want to have corresponding social media for your blog to help promote it. Normally you would want your social media to match your website name so make sure that's available as well! Instagram is a very good one to have if your brand is more visual. Check mine out here; @paperandaplan

Why your email list is so important

Most of us know of the famous "email list". However, it's even more common that we have no clue how to start them, or what to even do after you set it up. Mostly, why this is even important in the first place. 

We are all told that from the start we should have an email list.... And that's pretty much it. "It converts followers into clients" or "if your website magically goes down, what will you do?" Are commonly said phrases.  

 

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Why your email list is so important 

 First off, let's cover why your email list is so important in the first place.

I mean, you have social media right ? What do you need a list for ? 

Social media vs email list

Having an email list is one of the most targeted ways to reach your audience that CARES. When you sign up for an email list, most often it's because you wanted to see more content by them, they offered an incentive, or you signed up for a webinar or something like that. You normally don't just sign up without an incentive. If you do, then you're definitely interested in their content. With social media, anyone can follow you, and for a number of reasons. Maybe you were featured somewhere, or perhaps they just liked your feed. Your email list is often filled with the followers who show up often. I can definitely say that I recognize a lot of names from my Facebook group and Instagram. 

To start preparing

It's very important that you start creating your list early, so when you have a product, service, ect. You already have an audience to sell to. This is the main reason a lot of people create email lists to begin with. Say you have been building your list for a year, and you have 1,000 email subs. Awesome job! Once you have a product or service you have 1,000 people who your email is guaranteed to hit their inbox. On the other hand, if you don't have a list it can be a bit harder to reach your ideal audience. You would kind if just be shooting in the dark. 

Okay, it does convert followers into customers

So of course it converts followers into customers. Think of this on a larger scale. You hear about a new brand and you're looking at the shop. An email sign up box pops up and it says join the list for 10% off. So you sign up, and you buy something. They can continue to contact you about new sales and new releases which gets you to become a repeat customer. Not everyone is going to convert. You'll always have the people who don't want to pay for an ebook or who don't want to pay for online courses or webinars. There's so much free stuff out there, why would they? However you stand a better chance this way.

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So, what do you do once you have your email list? 

This is probably the part that stumped me the most. I knew it was important for the sake of growing my target audience. What I didn't know is what the hell to do once I had it. I still really don't (haha!....yeah there we go. I admit it.).  However, none of us really ever know 100% what we are doing so it's all good. 

Here's what I do know:  

Email lists can be used for plenty of things. Some of which I listed above. However there's so much more you can offer your list ! You want your audience to feel like VIPs. I aim for this so often, and I hope my email subs feel this way.   You can achieve this by offering exclusive freebies, pre-sale information, new blog post updates, give them sneak peeks of your latest project, ask for feedback, etc. Your email list is your own little personal army of dedicated friends. 

Take advantage of asking for feedback

feedback is one of the most valuable things we can receive from our audience. When you receive feedback, you can then tailor your content, products, services, etc. to the needs and wants of your audience. There's no guessing and checking here! They are literally telling you what they want. So make a small form and send it out! I got a lot of great results from my last survey.

Give them an incentive to stay around

This can be done with monthly freebies, weekly coupons, or really anything. Think about the email lists you're subscribed to. What do they have to offer that makes you want to stick around? I give away my free monthly calendars, and I also have my email list on my priority list to get any freebies I give away first. This is of course a little different for me because I don't have a product to sell (yet!). So I have to get a little creative. 

Don't just keep them around for the selling and promotions

Make sure that your email list doesn't just feel like a marketing platform. Nobody wants just emails about products or services all the time. Make sure to send at least one email every once in a while with nothing but useful information! The reason they are around is because you're helping them in some way. So supply them with some value about a topic they might relate to. 

I really hope this post helped give you some insight about email lists and what to do with them. PLEASE if you have any questions at all, leave a comment on this post and I can get back to you, or go to my contact page and send me an email. I would be happy to help!

As always, thanks for reading.

Planning for your blog in a Bullet Journal

 **This is a guest post ! Please see the bottom for author details.

Since I have been blogging over at Productive Happiness, I discovered that my best ally to make things run smoothly for the blog has been my Bullet Journal. Planning in my Bujo has allowed me to write better blog posts, be more efficient with my posting schedule and manage my social media presence seamlessly. I’ve also been able to visually track my progress and course correct over time for better results. I just can’t live without. In today’s article, I’ll be taking you through my journal with real-life examples of how I use my Bujo in my blogging process.

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What exactly is a Bullet Journal?

Maybe you are wondering what exactly is a Bullet Journal. In a nutshell, it is any blank notebook in which you write down your tasks, projects, lists and everything you want to keep track of. The principle is to rapidly log your ideas as the day goes by, using bullets, or signifiers to keep track of what type of items you are writing down. If you’d like to know more about the Bullet Journal method, I suggest you start by reading this in-depth article. But the tips I am going to offer you today can be applied in any notebook, even if you are not following the basic Bullet Journal format.

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Every step of the way

 Brainstorming

The Bullet Journal has you covered every step of the way for your blogging needs. The first step that I like to go through before I write any article is brainstorming. I also like to brainstorm for new products, collaborations and social media ideas. My preferred method for brainstorming is the classic mind-map, a visual tool used to represent the different parts of a given topic. Here’s a mind-map I created when I was brainstorming the themes I wanted to cover in my blog.

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Planning

There are a few steps that I like to go through while planning my articles and products, after I have properly brainstormed. First, I like to fit my articles into an editorial calendar. I make sure that I cover most themes of my blog in any given month and that seasonal articles are planned for. I like to share a brand-new article every Tuesday and repost an older article every Thursday. In my editorial calendar, I choose every topics a month in advance. Here’s one of my previous editorial calendar :

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Weekly plan

Once my topics are selected for the month, I need to make sure that I remember to prepare, take pictures and write in time for the deadline. I use my weekly spread to keep track of the tasks I need to get done in the next week. I usually plan my week every Sunday afternoons. If you'd like to know more about my weekly planning process, I have written a full article (with tons of pictures) taking you through each step. Here’s an example of my weekly spread :

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Planning for social media

I like to follow a basic schedule for social media. Every Tuesday and Thursday, I share one of my articles, on Saturdays, I share an article from one of the many blogs I follow. On Fridays, I share a video on my Facebook page, etc. This is my basic schedule, and on Sunday, I select the specific topics I'll be covering on my different social feeds. Instagram is what takes the most effort to plan. Here’s what my plan for last week looks like :

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Planning my ideal week

I like to keep a draft of what I would like my weeks to look like. I like to theme my days, for example Mondays are for writing, Wednesdays are for strategic thinking and planning and Fridays are for reviews and stats tracking. It helps me spread my tasks over the week and put me in the right mood for different tasks at different moments. I keep a visual representation of my ideal week in my Bullet Journal and tweak it as needed.

Writing

Before I sit down to write any blog post, I look at my brainstorming mind-map and draft an outline of what I want my article to look like. An outline is a simple plan, with indented bullets for the different parts of the article in chronological order. You do not need to write any complete sentences, just a few words are sufficient. Here's my outline for today's article
 

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Tracking

I have to admit that I am a data freak. I think that my favorite part of planning for Productive Happiness is tracking my stats and analyzing the results. My goal is to learn from my mistakes AND my successes in order to keep improving my blog and my income. A basic stats tracker along with a space designated to journaling is what helps me keep on track of what’s working and what’s not.

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At the end of the month, I like to compare my stats with those of the previous months to see if I am progressing or not. So far, I am thrilled to report that my stats are booming! My comparative stats tracker is super simple, but clear enough to spot patterns and trends.

As you see, there is a lot you can get accomplished for your blog using the Bullet Journal method. Every part of the blog is covered, allowing you to brainstorm, plan, write and track your stats. Since the Bullet Journal is so customizable, you can tailor your notebook to your specific needs and tweak your system at any time. And most of all, the journaling process is fun, creative and so relaxing! Give it a try, I am sure you’ll find something to love in the process.

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Anick

Anick Globensky-Bromow is a productivity Blogger with a focus on helping her readers take their happiness in hands. Over at Productive Happiness, she writes about the Bullet Journal, productivity tips and techniques as well as happiness hacks in her weekly blog posts. You can follow her on Instagram for Bullet Journal goodness and on Facebook for her weekly videos.  

Creating a Blogging Schedule - Blogging for beginners

This is the second post in my blogging for beginners series, and I'll be showing you a couple of ways to create a blogging schedule. First we will go into how many times you should be posting, and what the exceptions are. Then I'll go over the different ways to create a blog schedule that works around your week. 

Most beginning bloggers don't know how to accomplish this seemingly impossible task. I didn't really know what I was doing at first either, admittedly, which is perfectly okay! If you don't really know where to start or what you're doing, then sit tight because this post will hopefully help give you some clarity.

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How often should you post to your blog?

This has always been a topic of conversation, because nobody can seem to figure out the perfect formula to what works the best. So this is the best advice I can give you as to what to do.

First off, take a general look at how your schedule is from day to day. This is the most important thing. If you can manage 2 blog posts a week, do it. A number of studies show that posting twice a week helps with your search optimization. So basically, your website is considered "active" by Google or whatever search engine. This helps your site show up closer towards the top of the search. I always recommend putting out as many posts as you can when you're first starting out. Maybe you do twice or three times a week. 

However, once you get active readers coming to your blog (which is a lot more attainable than you think!) you can tone it down a bit if you need to. However, two times a week is still recommended. 

What's more important than how many times you post, is how consistently you post. This is where the schedule comes into play. If your readers know you post twice a month, then stick with that. If your readers know you post three times a week, stick with that. It's equally how many times you post, and how consistent you are with it.

How to make your blog schedule

There are a few ways you could go about making your ACTUAL schedule. However, there are a few things you should do before hand to accomplish this.

  1. Look at your weekly schedule for re-occurring events
  2. Brain storm a lot of ideas (like.... A LOT)
  3. Figure out what type of schedule you like best: digital or paper

I'll go over both digital schedules and paper schedules.

Digital schedules

Bloggers usually prefer this method because it allows you to move things around without much repercussion and mess. It's super easy to just change the date or time on your event  versus scratching something out. 

I suggest using google spreadsheets or excel for this one. Most of the time they will have calendar templates built into the program. I know for sure google does.

The digital method doesn't work as well for me, so I use paper.

Paper Schedules

This is great for those of you who need to have it in front of your face, physically in order to remember. Writing things down also helps you remember more than just typing something into your phone or computer.

There are a ton of different planners out there. More recently; however, I have ALWAYS recommended an hourly planner. 

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Actually Creating the Schedule

First what you'll want to do is dissect your week. Look at what events are reoccurring and schedule those in first. Then look at the time you have left. For example: if you work a 9-5, then you know what needs to get done has to be before or after those times. Maybe you have a one hour break for lunch. LEAVE SPACE FOR IT! You'd be surprised how much you can get done in that hour break period. 

Now that you have your reoccurring events down, look at what other major events you have.  Some examples would be doctors appointments, school activities, date night, etc. Be sure you schedule time for these next, or you might accidentally schedule something over it.

Last should be your other obligations, and/or hobbies, and errands. THIS is where you schedule in time for you blog. If you're looking at your schedule thinking "omg I can't do this". STOP. It's not that hard. You're making excuses for yourself, and you know it. If your blog is high on your priority list, then you'll get it done. Trust me. 

If you have to get up an hour earlier, then do it. If you have to stay up an extra hour, then do it. If you have to spend 30 minutes of your 1 hour break making graphics, then do it. If all you have is Friday night or the weekend, you gotta do it if it's that important to you.

Be stubborn with your schedule once you have it. However, make sure you have some cushion room. What I mean by this is: if you get out of class at 1:25, and you have to drive home, but you schedule yourself to do your blog post at 1:30. This probably isn't the smartest thing to do because you aren't allowing yourself that cushion time to get home and chill out for a second. If a task takes you longer than you thought, you want to make sure there's a time cushion.

Something you should keep in mind is that you do NOT have to get everything done in one sitting AT ALL. I actually recommend breaking things up and doing them throughout the week. It's less overwhelming this way. 

If you want to get a better look at how I schedule things out, be sure you are following me on my planner Instagram. I share how my planner looks and some awesome tools I use in conjunction with it.

 

How to increase blog traffic without spending money

A lot of the time you see Facebook ads, Instagram ads, and even paid Pinterest ads when you're just scrolling through your feed. 

It's somewhat of a misconception that you need to pay for ads in order to increase traffic to a post or product. Of course paying for ads will in fact increase traffic, but it is most definitely NOT a requirement. I currently rake in about 1,000 views every month  (And it's only my 4th month blogging) by not paying a single dime. 

Here's a not so secret: most of my traffic comes from Pinterest. However that's not all I use to increase my traffic. It comes from quite a few other sources as well, and I'll be listing my top sources of traffic for you today, as well as what I'm doing on each platform.

*This post contains affiliate links* 

Pinterest  

Pinterest is my main source of blog traffic with over 40% last month, and 60% the month previous. To newbies, Pinterest can seem like a puzzle. You're just sort of pinning things and hoping for results. I've been there. Trust me. However there are a few things you need to do to be successful on Pinterest. 

  1. Join group boards. Pinterest Group boards can give you a ton of exposure. One of my pins is saved to over 150 boards because I posted it to a well known group board. This gets your blog more views because hundreds of eyes see that pin. I have a Productivity and Organization Group Board if you want to check it out. Just click here to get to my Pinterest profile. 
  2. Join Pinterest Facebook groups. I'm in a group called "bloggers unite on pinterest" And it's the best group I've ever been in for pinterest promotion and engagement. Just type that in to Facebook search and they should come up
  3. Make sure you have a board specifically for just your blog posts. This way people who like your content can read your posts directly instead of hunting for them. 

 

Facebook groups  

  1. Not a ton of traffic comes from Facebook groups, but it does help! Like I mentioned above "bloggers unite on pinterest" is a good group to be in. You can also join other groups that allow promotion on certain days or even a bloggers promotion group which they do have out there. My Facebook group had promotion Wednesday's so feel free to request to join
  1. This is one of the most genius ways to get more eyes on your posts. It's already on Facebook so people have the ability to instantly share the post, and in a group with a medium amount of people (overly large groups tend to loose posts quick), it's sure to be seen. 

Instagram

Instagram has been a driver of traffic for some time now. I always make sure to use my linktr.ee to my advantage. If you haven't heard of linktr.ee yet, it's a platform that allows you to create somewhat idea basic landing page with all the links you want to share. It then generates a link to the landing page in which you then put that link in your Instagram website section. 

I have a link to my blog there along with my other freebies and offers.  

Hashtags are also an extremely important part of my Instagram strategy. The instantbossclub membership has over 2,000 hashtags for a wide range of niches.  It's worth looking in to.  

I always make a weekly post sharing the newest blog post, so people know they can go read it. Unfortunately Instagram's link feature isn't available for all accounts yet which is why I love Snapchat.

Snapchat  

While Snapchat isn't a huge driver of traffic yet, but it helps to be able to directly link my posts somewhere. The Snapchat link feature is available to all users. I wish Instagram would get on board. Snapchat for me is more of a personal place for my followers who truly care about the person behind the blog. If you want to be part of my snapchat fam use my Snap code below or click this link

 

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Social media is the biggest driver of my traffic at over 70%. Others include direct links, searches, etc. However with social media you don't have to spend a dime.  That's the beauty of social media marketing, and joining like minded groups. The ability to freely share your posts, and the overwhelming support you can get through your followers is priceless.

Let me know how you drive traffic in the comments !

How I made $200 my fourth month blogging (July income report)

I never ever thought I'd do one of these let me tell ya. I was positive there was no way you could really make any money off of your blog, and the people that did had some kind of secret formula. After making  $200 in my 4th month blogging, I get it now. It's not easy, there's no formula, and it's hard work. You're not going to wake up one morning with thousands of dollars hitting your PayPal right off the bat. However I can tell you what i did to earn some extra money for my blog. $73 out of the money I made is saved aside to help pay my blog at the end of the year. Which I think is a pretty good start.

I didn't make this post to brag about what I made, or that I made anything at all, but instead to encourage new bloggers to get started. It IS POSSIBLE to make money from you blog early on.

(There are affiliate links in this post !) 

So how exactly did i make money on my blog ?

There's a few ways actually. So keep reading to find out what I made and how I did it.

 

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1. Affiliate marketing  

That made at least one of you close out of this blog post, but what people don't realize is that affiliate marketing is gonna be your main source of blog income if you don't have a product to sell. Even if you have a product to sell, if you're just starting out, affiliate income is a great way to stay afloat while you wait for sales.

So what is affiliate income  ?

In a nut shell, affiliate income is when you promote someone else's products in exchange for a commission of the sale. For example I'm an affiliate with Instantbossclub  . I use their services, I love them, and I recommend them to others. If they sign up, then i get a little extra money in my pocket to help me continue to support this blog. It's truly an awesome thing. You help others and make a little extra cash. There are tons and tons of affiliate programs out there that pay a pretty penny, and I highly recommend you guys check some out. 

2. Amazon

So this is another site I am an affiliate for, but it's a little different in that I have to promote certain products in order to see results and such. There's a lot more leeway to promote whatever I choose, but some items pay better than others. It's a great first program in my opinion and I recommend getting started with amazon. I post links to Amazon products and when someone purchases using the link I get a small percentage.

>> For 30 days of free amazon prime click HERE<<

3. YouTube Monetization  

YouTube is a huge part of my income and I actually do promote my YouTube on my blog ! If you notice sometimes I'll attatch a video that relates to what I'm talking about in the post. I also promote my videos heavily on Pinterest which is always a stat and income booster. I get paid from YouTube every month via paypal. It's also dependant on interaction with the ads on my videos and on my view count.  If you want to start a YouTube channel here are my tips for starting one. 

4. Instagram Ads  

So I actually get paid by a company called heartbeat. They pay you a certain amount of money to make a post for 72 hours promoting a product or service. My rate is $10 per post and it adds up quick. I didn't get any paid offers this month, but they're always adding new campaigns. Last month I made $20. You can CLICK HERE to sign up for heartbeat and start making money too. It's a super simple sign up process.

So what did I make in July?

Amazon affiliates- $8

Instant boss club affiliates- $41.25

client work - $160 

heartbeat- $0 

teami - $0

YouTube- $23.95  

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(Rounded)  $233

So there you go ! That's the total amount of money I made in July 2017.  

I didn't make this post to brag about how much I made or anything, but instead to encourage you that you can accomplish great things too! And while I have another....... 1,700 to go until I hit my monthly goal (lol!), it's a start. 

As always, thanks for reading.