MoneySavingMom.com
FREEBIE LIBRARY!
Join my email list and get FREE ACCESS to the MSM Freebie Library, including my top printables & eBooks.

How to Make Money Blogging: 5 Ways to Set Your Blog Up for Success

photo credit

If you missed part 1 of the How to Make Money Blogging series, read it here.

1. Pick a Great Name for Your Blog

Your blog name should encompass your blog’s mission and should clearly articulate your blog’s purpose. Don’t hurry through the process of picking a name: it’s your brand and you want to make sure you love it and it’s something you’re going to love for years to come.

Take a week or two to consider potential names. Ask a few trusted friends to give their input. Toss around ideas and, when you land upon ones you like, check to see if the domain name (the www website address) is available on GoDaddy.com before jumping ahead and settling on any one name.

Important note: Blog names can be federally trademarked. This means that an individual or company owns the federal rights to a particular name or phrase and it cannot be used by others or you will be subject to fines and required to discontinue using the name. To be safe, search thoroughly online to make sure no one is using the name you come up with or a very similar variation of it.

2. Purchase the Domain Name and All Variations

As soon as you land on the blog name you love and have double-checked that no one is using it, buy the domain name immediately. It usually costs around $10 to $20 per year for this and it’s worth every penny to have your own domain name for your blog.

I always purchase domain names from GoDaddy.com just because, well, that’s what I’ve always done. However, if you are planning to set up your blog through Blogger (see point 3), it’s much, much easier if you purchase the domain name directly through Blogger rather than through a separate domain name service as it will be automatically set up for the domain name to point to your Blogger blog rather than you having to go through some complicated process to manually input the code and do it.

I also suggest, if you want to think long-term and hope to turn your blog into a successful business, that you purchase all variations on your domain name. That way, you don’t have to worry about someone else setting up a site with a domain name very similar to yours.

3. Choose the Right Blog Platform From the Get-Go

Not too long ago, I was asked what is the one thing you wish you had done differently when setting up your blog. I instinctively replied, “I wish I had started with WordPress.”

I started with Blogger because that was pretty much the only blogging platform in existence. I moved to TypePad when the Blogger SPAM bots marked my blog as SPAM in 2008 and I was locked out of my Blogger blog for 10 days.

Near the end of 2009, my blog outgrew TypePad and I was forced to switch to WordPress. Making the leap from TypePad to WordPress was daunting and tedious. We had to move thousands of posts and hundreds of thousands of comments. There were all sorts of glitches and it was a big learning curve.

Truth be told, though it was a major headache, it was one of the best blogging moves I’ve ever made. WordPress has allowed me to have a much more organized blog and offer many features I couldn’t with TypePad and Blogger.

So, if I were to suggest a blog platform, I’d highly recommend WordPress. It’s more expensive, but it gives you many more options than other platforms offer. Plus, you don’t have to worry about your blog getting locked or outgrowing TypePad.

Another big perk of WordPress is that it has much more sophisticated SEO capabilities (i.e. SEO stands for Search Engine Optimization and basically refers to optimizing your site so it comes up high in search engines. People will find you a lot more easily if you come up on the first page or two of Google rather than page 133!). I don’t do a lot for SEO at this point, but I’m all about doing small things to help improve where MoneySavingMom.com shows up when you search for “money-saving blogs” or “grocery budget”. WordPress makes it extremely simple to accomplish this.

4. Hire a Designer

Back in the “olden” days when there weren’t many blogs, if you had great content and updated regularly, you’d have a good number of readers — even if you had a basic, free Blogger blog design. Today, because there are so many more blogs, great content is paramount, but a nice designer and ease-of-use is also very important. If people find your blog design dull or your layout disorganized, they are much more apt to just go find another blog.

Now, please don’t let this discourage you. You don’t need a fancy-schmancy blog with lots of bells and whistles. Just a clean design that is easy to navigate can make a world of difference. And paying someone to set this up for you may be every bit worth the money.

If you can’t afford a designer, at least consider paying to have someone design your header and then take the time to learn some basic HTML so you can tweak your sidebar.

5. Plan Your Posts Ahead of Time

I can’t tell you how many times I’ve seen a new blog advertised and been all excited to check it out, only to find there were a whopping three posts on it! If you want people to stick around, you need to have depth and series and a variety of posts.

Before you “open your doors to the public”, go ahead and post 10 or 15 posts, plus plan out and write another 15 to have in queue to post after you start “advertising” your blog. Not only will this allow you to “get your feet wet” and get accustomed to blogging before you have a real live audience, it also provides some great content for people to check out when they visit your blog.

I love Google calendar for planning out post series long-term. I also have recently begun printing out a monthly calendar to pencil in specific posts for each day. This gives me accountability, inspiration and organization — well, at least it’s better than my former “blog-by-the-seat-of-my-pants” routine!

Next week, we’ll talk about five tips for producing creative content.

If you’re a blogger, I’d love to hear your top tip for setting up your blog for success. And, if you’re brave, I’d love to hear what you wish you had done from the get-go.

Subscribe for free email updates from Money Saving Mom® and get my Guide to Freezer Cooking for free!

118 Comments

    • After setting up my classroom blog I spend a fair amount of time trying to make sure it was not only adult friendly, but easy for kids to navigate through as well.

      I’ve also enjoyed sharing my excitement when I learn new technology to include in blog posts with my readers. My first video, screencast, aviary soundtrack, slideshare, coveritlive event, etc. have been great for my blog, but also so much fun to share about!

      I’ve found it useful to write a series of posts, schedule them, and sit back while they post as scheduled.
      I also have a hard time doing anything or going anywhere and not wondering if it could be a future post. My camera is a must, kids (let’s face it, and adults) find pictures a welcome relief!

  • Mitzi says:

    I blog on wordpress for fun….but I don’t pay for it…..my top tip for setting up my blog….just writing what I feel but keeping it light and fun. I wish I had written some content before!…somedays it gets hard to write off the cuff………Thanks for sharing!

    • Angela R says:

      There are two versions of WordPress. WordPress.com is free to use, WordPress.org requires you to find a host for your site, which you will have to pay for.

  • Elle says:

    Great tips, I think my #1 tip is that people should post often. Today, I was searching for some new cool blogs to read and several had really sporadic posts dates and people apologizing for not having time. Key to blogging, be committed.

    • Even if a blog doesn’t post daily (and many successful ones don’t), that’s fine, but I agree that the posting schedule needs to be relatively consistent. If I come across that hasn’t been updated in a couple weeks, I think it’s been abandoned. I’ve also seen blogs that have a post pinned to the top that says they are on vacation and will return to posting at a certain date. I think that is super helpful and it doesn’t stop me from reading at all, because I know they’ll be back.

  • tiffany says:

    I am so anxiuos to read your posts every wednesday. I really want to do a blog. I know there are alot of bloggers out there but there are not any in my area so I could get local store ads that benefit the people here. Cant wait to read more!

    PS
    If anyone would, could you please vote for me on this website. The most voted wins. Any help is appreciated! Thanks

    http://www.facebook.com/jcp?sk=app_141672109230293&app_data={“submission_id”:4026}

  • Great ideas! I REALLY wish I would have thought through my blog’s name a little bit more. The creation of my blog was really a spur-of-the-moment idea-while-my-kids-were-napping kind of thing. Some of my initial ideas were taken, so I settled on “I Can Teach My Child!”. Overall, I’m happy with it, but it’s rather long. I just wish I would have spent more than 10 minutes reflecting on it before settling on that name. 🙂

    I’m actually really happy with Blogger right now and don’t plan to change anytime soon. I love that I don’t have to pay for monthly hosting. Of course, there are certainly drawbacks…but the benefits seem to outweigh those in my case.

    Thanks again! I can’t wait to read next week’s post. 🙂

    • I really like your name and read your blog regularly. However, I agree that a name shouldn’t be too long or difficult to remember. I definitely violated that rule: Confessions of a Recovering Chocoholic! That’s a mouthful, and try to spell “Chocoholic.” It’s not a URL people can remember easily. Honestly, I just couldn’t think of a better title and I thought about it A LOT.

    • That’s not a bad name at all! I also had to go through a name change with my blog — and it was not fun! I’ve heard before that Common Sense with Money wishes hers wasn’t so long also….

      Ah, well!

  • I can’t agree more about choosing the right platform. I launched on Blogger, and feel “stuck” there… I actually originally set up the blog on WP, but when my computer got hit by a virus through WP (free edition), I made the switch (back) to Blogger, which I’d been using for a few personal blogs for a while.

    However, I keep telling myself that if/when the blog becomes profitable, I can justify moving to a paid WP account. …but I’m also really cheap, so I’d have to get past that, too. :o)

    Thanks for a great post! I’m really enjoying this series. (I wish I could hop in my DeLorean, with this knowledge in hand, and re-do the beginnings of my blog!!)

  • I just started a blog last week through Blogger, and I wish I’d seen your recommendation about WordPress this before I did 35 posts! But, I’m really enjoying learning the ropes and sharing all my ideas with people who actually care 🙂

    Plus, I have found blogging to be a great stress relief, since I have something “outside the home” to focus on.

    I am really excited to read more of your tips for starting blogs, as I have learned so much from Money Saving Mom already!

  • What do I wish I’d done from the get go?

    I do wish I had started on WordPress, and yet I’m very proud that my blog has been completely self sustainable. It has grown and flourished from a free blogger blog to a self hosted WordPress blog with a professional design. I might have saved some money and some frustrations (when my blog was on Blogger I didn’t get a single hit from search engines the entire time. Very strange!), but I don’t think I’d be where I am now without having to climb that hill. So I’m thankful for my struggles because they’ve made me fully appreciate what I have now.

    However, yeah…start on wordpress if you can afford it!

    My top tip for setting yourself up for success as a blogger is to befriend other bloggers! I blogged in darkness for months. Just me and my computer. It was terribly isolating. Noone in my “real” life understood what I was doing, and yet I was terrified to reach out to other bloggers. Scared they’d push me away. It wasn’t until I got up the nerve to start a small blogging group that I really came out of my shell. It was like a relief to finally speak to like minded people!

    I finally had people to give me constructive criticism and to support me through the inevitable ups and downs. We started to share amongst each other and collaborate. Little by little we ALL started to grow and flourish. When I think of where we all were when we first met and where we are now, I’m shocked I didn’t make blogging friends sooner.

    So that’s my top tip (and I guess one thing I wish I had done sooner…): Make blogging friends.

    How to do this? Just reach out to a few! Send a few emails. There will definitely be people that will ignore you. However, I bet you get some responses!
    Okay I’ve rambled enough now 😉

    • Stacie says:

      You’re awesome, Heather! 🙂

      Lots of people in my “real” life don’t get it either! It’s very encouraging to have the support of other bloggers!

      • LOL, thanks Stacie! You are pretty awesome too 😉

        I wish I had reached out to other bloggers so much sooner. I was thinking about what I wrote here last night as I was falling asleep. I honestly am not sure I’d still be blogging if I hadn’t made blogging friends (and I call them blogging friends because they are other bloggers, but honestly they are real true friends now)!

  • I wish I would have given more thought to my blog name also! I would highly recommend having back up posts. I also carry around paper and pencil everywhere so that I can jot down new ideas! And although you do need to be committed to blogging, don’t feel guilty if you miss a day every once in a while. I usually plan to do 5 posts every week, usually Monday through Friday, but this week, for example, I did a special Mother’s Day post on Sunday and I didn’t get around to a post on Tuesday. I will still do 5 this week, just not on my normal days. I also wish I knew if my content was good enough or if I’m just wasting my time!

  • I am pretty new to blogging, so I appreciate these posts tremendously! Very applicable and encouraging. I started out simply because I love to write and it gives me “me time” as a mommy of little ones. But now that I’ve been doing some research, I’m finding that to be a successful blogger takes lots of work and strategy. Starting out can be very intimidating…so thank you for your tips!

  • Thanks for sharing! I agree that the name is important and you need to make sure to buy your domain name from the beginning.

    I love WordPress and have always used it for my blog! My first experience with WordPress was with our business so it was a smooth transition.

    Planning out my posts allows me more flexibility and I do it as often as I can. As a Mom my days can be unpredictable plus add work on top of that and the schedule doesn’t always go smoothly. This one tip has allowed me to travel (both for business and personal) yet still maintain my blog. I take my laptop when I travel and as long as I have an internet connection I can keep up. My article calendar and an organizational chart help me track what posts go on which day. I know in advance what I need to get done for each day and when possible I can add additional posts.

  • Mary Ellen says:

    My tip would include: if you are going to include photos of food (or any photos really) then make sure they are good photos. Most food photos I see posted on blogs look disgusting. They may taste delicious, but the flash on the point and shoot camera makes the food look gross and is a turn off to the post. Just my opinion. Invest in a good D-SLR camera with a 50mm wide aperture lens. Hopefully it will pay for itself with the blog, or will pay for itself by not having to go to JC Penny for photos of the family.

    • Amy says:

      That’s one thing that I struggle with! My photo’s are not high quality like other more popular blogs that are making a larger profit.
      I would like to have cute, dressed-up, high quality photo’s too, but I haven’t been too successful at it so far.
      I’m working on it though, because I know it does make a difference!

      • Crystal says:

        I still just have a point and shoot camera. I want to upgrade, but I’m making myself learn how to maximize the use of what I have before I can justify upgrading. 🙂

        • I have a Master’s Degree in Art Education, if I might add a few thoughts on good photography:

          1. Expensive cameras are only 50% (or less) of good photography. I’ve seen lots of poor photos on expensive cameras. I’ve also seen fantastic photos using a pinhole camera (a cardboard box with a small hole in the side).

          2. You’ll get richer colors if you can leave your flash off. Choose a well-lit area (like your kitchen, near the windows). Hold your camera very still (or use a tripod) to keep your photo from being blurry.

          3. Direct sunlight can also wash out your colors. A bright window in the background can make your subject a black silhouette. Indirect sunlight works best.

          4. Pay attention to your background. A dirty surface or distracting busyness will draw attention away from your subject. Usually a simple solid background (black, white, or neutral-colored) is recommended, though I like to experiment with color too.

          5. If you’re doing food, dress it up a little with a sprig of parsley, a doily, a pretty napkin, or a nice place setting. A little color will make your food look more appetizing. If you’re doing people or other objects, dress them up a little too! Attention to detail can go a long way toward taking a good photo.

          6. Try lots of different angles, and then choose the one you like the best.

          7. Unless you have a really great camera, you probably won’t get many great shots outdoors or indoors at night, so try to take most of your photos during the daytime. The best time for outside photos is usually mid-morning or mid-afternoon (when it’s not to dark, and not too bright.)

          I hope this helps!
          Jess

    • Before we purchased our DSLR, I was using a point and shoot. One tip for better photos if you are using a point and shoot is to set your food on a corner of the table that is getting good sunlight coming in, or near a windowsill with good natural light coming in. It makes all the difference in the world! Then take LOTS of shots, and use your macro setting if you have one. Be sure you are holding the camera very still, too 🙂 Hope that helps! It took us awhile to save for our DSLR, so I came to know my point and shoot pretty well…lol 🙂

      • I sat in on a webinar about taking pictures of food once and the guy basically suggested the same. He also said (and he’s a professional photographer) that any camera can take good quality pics if there’s someone with a knowledge of lighting and focus behind the camera!

        We have a DSLR and I’m ashamed to admit I don’t know as much about it’s capabilities as I should. All my best pics have been candid flukes (which are generally the best pics anyway!).

        Oh another tip I picked up from a food blogger was to use pretty scrapbook paper as a background. I think it was Bakerella who said she puts the food on a square of scrapbook paper and takes the pic.

      • Mary Ellen says:

        Also be aware of what plate you place the food. White plates work best. Kohls has Food Network dishes that are white and classic (and usually discounted esp. with a coupon!).

      • Laurie says:

        Thanks for the tips on this Jaime! I can’t at all justify an expensive camera, but have found that real light helps and often end up taking food pictures outside (I’d love to know what my neighbors think of me snapping pictures of our dinner each night!) I’m going to try just putting it on the table inside this week near some light . . . hopefully it will help (and save me a little embarrassment . . .) 🙂

    • For anyone interested, there’s a free Food and Culture Photography Workshop that airs live on creativelive.com this weekend (http://www.creativelive.com/courses/food-photography-penny-de-los-santos). =)

    • I agree with others that lighting and knowledge of photography makes a bigger difference than the type of camera. No camera, no matter how fancy, will take a great picture in poor lighting. I also think it depends on the type of blog as to how important the quality of the pictures are. In some cases, like a weight loss blog where the person is just chronicling their daily eats, I don’t mind poorer quality (even cell phone) pics at all. However, on a food blog that’s all about recipes and meal ideas, I have to admit, the photo quality makes a HUGE difference in whether or not I’m likely to stick around.

  • I’ll be moving to WordPress in the next few weeks, and am so nervous. But it will be nothing compared to your move!

    It would have been nice to start on WP, but honestly, I didn’t have any idea it existed when I started my blog. And with blogger, you truly can set up a blog in minutes!

    My best advice is to network with other bloggers. It’s hard when you just want to write and be done with it, but you really grow when you develop relationships in the blogworld. And ultimately, relationships are what it’s all about.

    • Yeah Nony — it’s a really hard call. Blogger is just *so* easy — that I generally find myself recommending it to people who want to start EVEN THOUGH it’s a huge pain to move over. The thing is that 99% of bloggers don’t keep it up!

  • Katie says:

    I wish I would have started out on WordPress. I just made the switch from blogger a week ago. It has been a ton of work trying to organize all of my posts…but I already love it so much more 🙂

  • Lacey Wilcox says:

    Plan out your blog. And by that, I don’t mean just your posts, I mean everything: plan your purpose, plan your categories (I would use between 5-8 max), plan your driving force, plan everything. The more you plan it, the more you streamline it, and streamlining it means you are fully established in your niche–your readers know exactly what your blog is about and what they can expect to find from you.
    And then? Stick with the plan. You might have ideas for posts come up that just don’t fit into your categories. If you can’t tweak it to fit and to mesh with the overall theme/purpose of your blog–then hold off on writing it.
    Just some thoughts…you know, the ones where you look back and say, “I wish I’d done…”

    • Crystal says:

      I agree! Except, I like to throw in the occasional totally off-topic post just because I’m like that and sometimes like to give readers a different peek into my life… or maybe just because I’m rather eclectic in my interests! 🙂

  • LifeAsAMomma says:

    I tried WordPress at first, but it had more than I was needing. I started my blog initially because I wanted to be able to spread the word about infant/child safety and recalls after my daughter was seriously injured due to a recalled product. (She was found hanging from her neck being strangled in her drop-side crib) I wanted to help other parents and make sure that I did everything I could to prevent another parent from almost losing their precious child. I started a FB page especially for posting recalls, but then decided to start a blog and post them there. I then found that I also enjoyed blogging about random things in my life. Mostly about being a Momma.
    I now earn a small income from blogging. But mainly, I still do it just for fun! I have thought about taking it to the next level (posting more often, advertisting, ect.) but I don’t feel I am ready for that yet. Not only am I am SAHM, but a full time WAHM 7/days a week!
    Anyhow, I highly enjoy MSM! Taking a few moments out of my busy, chaotic days gives me a mintue to sit and relax!!
    Thanks for all you do MSM. You inspire me!

  • Gina says:

    Excellent advice and very timely! Thank you!

  • Jeni says:

    Thanks for your insight. I’ve been wondering if I should go with Word Press. I enjoy Blogger for now. I enjoy blogging. I stared mine a few years ago just to keep out of town family in the loop. But I have really come to love writing. I find I’m able to sort my thoughts better when I write!

  • I’m SO glad I started with WordPress (it all started with a school project). It’s very user friendly and is the best set-up if you want your blog to go far.

    Some tips for new bloggers:
    -Watch for spelling/grammar mistakes! That’s a huge turn off.
    -Don’t blog for the money, blog because you want to.
    -Make sure all links you post work and link to the correct page.
    -Share some personal info to make yourself stand out!
    -When you make a mistake, take the blame, don’t just try to get around it! (For instance, if you post a picture of 20 products you bought with P&G coupons, let your readers know you were WRONG for using 4-like-P&G coupons. Don’t just make excuses.)

  • Great series so far. Can’t wait to hear more. We are coming up on our 1 year anniversary! And now it’s time to take it to the next level. I admit it is overwhelming to think of all the little pieces that take a hobby blog to a business. Thanks for posting your insight.

  • Stacie says:

    I love the name of both my blogs….and I’m very thankful I had a little (or a lot) of help with my second! 😉

    I definitely agree about using self-hosted WordPress if you want to blog for profit — although Blogger has been great for my preschool blog — and it’s so much more intuitive, I think. I do earn some money from it, because it is easy to set up AdSense and really easy to utilize Amazon links.

    But if you’re really wanting to earn money, you should definitely go with WordPress. I’m not sure Blogger really wants you profiting too much with a free service — but that’s just my opinion!

    One of my top tips is that you have to be tenacious. I’ve had many friends start blogs, but they usually stop within a few months. It’s much more work than they’ve bargained for…and for most beginning bloggers, the rewards aren’t instant (and I’m not just talking monetary)!! Plus, it’s never-ending — there is always something else to learn and do!

  • Paula says:

    I have just started blogging and did make the decision to go with a “designed” blog on wordpress. I had tried and tried to learn how to do it myself (and I consider myself fairly intelligent and can usually figure things out!) and I just couldn’t do it. It was a mental block for me.

    But, now that I have a great design that I ADORE, it’s like walking into my house when it’s perfectly clean and organized…. and I want to throw a party and invite everyone I know over!! So, I think having the blog looking fantastic makes me want to work and show off!

    That being said, my biggest problem is that I am a perfectionist. I will read and re-read and edit and re-edit my posts a bazillion times before I post them…and often I toss them in the trash or the draft bin and they never get posted. So frustrating. I want to share and connect with people, but I don’t want to be criticized!

    And, that, truthfully is why most of my family and friends don’t know I am blogging. Not that I am ashamed of what I’m doing but because I’m not perfect. I want to be authentic, but likeably authentic!!

  • Robin says:

    I have recently discovered your site and have been addicted to checking it everyday. Thank you. I am interested in starting a blog because, well because I want to, but I would also like to be able to make a little bit of profit from it so I can continue to be a stay-at-home mom. I think I have a decent concept for it but am unsure exactly where to start. I’m hoping your posts will help. And I was wondering what your opinion is about using word presses free blog site to get started. Thank you.

  • Shelli Mader says:

    Enjoying these posts. I just started my wordpress self-hosted blog. I started writing a column for a magazine and had the magazine advertise my blog. The only problem was, when the column became public a couple of weeks ago, I didn’t have hardly on there – including contact info! I am worried that I lost a lot of business because anyone who saw my blog that day wouldn’t be interested in coming back! I would totally recommend getting quite a few things posted before telling anyone about your blog. Also, I have had just a family pic blog on blogger for a few years and I have to say I thought I was computer savvy. WordPress is a huge learning curve for me. I am enjoying learning, but it is taking a long time to get the hang of a bit of css, html and just generally setting up the site!

  • Stephanie says:

    Wow, this post couldn’t have come at a better time for me! I just launched my new blog and have been really trying to put more effort into it than I did in my first one. I originally started my last blog when I got married and it was going to be something for me to do as a hobby for my family and friends to read. The more I started reading other blogs, the more I got into it and then regretted the name I chose and how sporadic and thoughtless my posts had been (as in, I didn’t put much thought into the content).

    Now I’ve begun my new blog and I have a purpose and I’ve been reading a lot of blogs and posts about creating and managing a successful blog. A couple of things I may regret is not going with WP and not having more posts posted before “launching” it. I do have some posts typed for the future, which I never did with my other blog, but I only posted one and then started directing folks to it.

    One thing I am doing this time is putting thought and time into each post and trying to have a variety of different topics that fall under my main purpose. I also am trying to only post “quality” pictures on my blog. I agree with a previous poster who said that low quality pictures are a huge turn off. It just doesn’t look professional at all. That doesn’t mean all mine are going to look perfect, or even great, but I got a new camera and I am working hard on upping the quality of my photos. I also aim at including at least one picture in every post. The picture doesn’t have to be of me or my family, just related to the post in some way. I think it adds a lot and I noticed that I’m more interested in posts that have eye-catching pictures in them.

    I’m looking forward to next week’s post about content. That is the area I struggle with the most I think! I get bored halfway through a blog post and end up trashing it. Or, I get on and just start writing without really putting any thought into it and it becomes a rambling, never-ending post. I’m trying to avoid super long posts (unless they are very interesting and have a good reason to be long).

  • Thanks for sharing this information. I agree with having extra posts just in case. This is a good idea it helps when planning and organising blog posts. Blogging has taught me many lessons one of them is being patient with everything I do . From writting posts, getting people to subscribe, staying calm when things are not going the path I envisioned and staying calm when a WordPress Plug-in I have just installed sents error messages all over my blog patience in the key to my blogging world.

  • My top tip is to make sure that you have a passion for what you’re blogging about. Blogging takes quite a bit of work – and a lot of writing – so it’s very helpful to love your topic! Also, be sure to have helping your readers be your main focus – if you’re loving what you’re blogging about, this should just be an overflow. Blogging is a lot about giving!

    In the beginning, I wish that I had a little more guidance on the best way to invest in my blogging ventures. I wasted a lot of money on things that just weren’t necessary and didn’t end up helping me in the long run.

    Last bit of advice – find a blogging buddy (http://www.blogelina.com/how-to-join-your-clan/) and get some support and encouragement for the journey ahead!

  • Great, timely post! Great info

    I wonder if we have made mistake #1, should we change it or live with it? And if so how do we change it? In my case, I chose a name that says little about what my blog really is about. It was just a catchy name. My blog has grown into something a bit different now. Some IRL friends of mine told me recently they didn’t realize it was a blog, they thought I had a tractor tire business. Sheesh.

    • I changed the name of a blog I previously owned, and the change was a very positive one. I had started my blog as local blog (not thinking anyone would actually read it) and chose a fitting name for my area, but once the blog grew to a national audience, I decided to make the name change. I saw a difference in traffic almost immediately, and I felt more confident about my blog.

      I just set up my old domain to redirect to the new, and was able to make the necessary changes in Feedburner too. Changing your Twitter name (if you have one) is super easy as well, as you don’t have to even create a new account. The only thing that was challenging was that I had to start a new Facebok page.

      I’m not advising you one way or the other, but I just wanted to let you know that it is possible to make the change successfully if you want to.

  • No doubt WordPress is the best.

    However when looking for domains, my suggestion is not to use GoDaddy to search. They are known to “steal” domains if you don’t register it straight away and if it’s a “brandable” domain. Purchase through GoDaddy by all means but search using another company like Domain.com

  • I’m enjoying this series! I started out on wordpress and so glad I did. It was actually just a fluke that I picked it since it was in my godaddy package, but so glad it was! I love wordpress! One thing I wish I could do differently is more planning. I am more a fly by the seat of my pants right now because of lack of time 🙁 however it will get better and I will become more organized once my daughter starts school.

  • I’d like to say ‘thank you’ to all the bloggers out there who are sharing all their experiences. I’ve had my blog for a while but have only recently been getting really serious about it. At this point I’m not interested in making money, just having fun connecting with people from all over but I do have ideas/plans for another blog that I would like to turn into a money maker.

    The ideas presented here and on other forums have really given me ideas and are helping me formulate the plan for my new blog (which I’m not planning on launching for another 6-12 months) so that when it is launched will have exactly the look and feel that I’d like. I will definitely be trying out WordPress for the next one.

    I look forward to checking in with you every day. Thanks for the great tips.

  • JanaCC says:

    This is great info… I have spent months researching how to start a blog, how to make it profitable, the best software, the best platform, etc. and it only left me exhausted and confused. Therefore, I kept all my ideas inside and gave up on the plan (but wrote some posts for Natural Living Moms). Then, my local online newspaper called for bloggers and I gave up and decided to blog on their site to get exposure, stop worrying about the money aspect (this is volunteer), and get more experience. I submitted my first post yesterday!

  • One of the things I love most about blogging is that it’s such a creative outlet–both for me as a writer but also to dabble in design. While I’m a writer by trade, I’m self-taught as a designer, so having an online outlet to come up with images and looks has been a fun challenge! I know I’ve received quite a few questions from readers of my own blog about how to DIY some of your own design, and so if anyone else is interested, I’ve posted some of my tips here:

    http://lifeblessons.blogspot.com/2010/11/answering-your-questions-blog-design.html

    Enjoy!

  • Mollie says:

    I really enjoyed this post. So informative….thanks! Speaking of designers, who did your design? It’s fabulous!

  • These are great tips! The one that I absolutely NEED to become more diligent at is scheduling posts ahead of time. That would be so helpful with my busy schedule.

  • I wish I’d started with WordPress, too 🙂 We just made the switch from blogger to WP in February (thanks to Joy @ Five J’s Design – LOVE HER!) and, while there is a bit of a learning curve, I really like the end result of WP. It’s very clean! Tweaking the code is a bit more difficult, IMO, but it’s worth the extra effort.

    Networking with other bloggers in my niche has also made a world of a difference. Find a few other mamas that you believe in and feel good promoting, and work together when possible. Don’t be afraid to send out an email and form a small blogging group!

    Similarly, working to create unity among your readers is something else to work toward. My site covers Biblical womanhood, homemaking, and whole foods, so at times we can get into an area that tends to be controversial… putting in extra time, thought, and prayer can turn a post that would sow discord into one that builds up and unifies.

    Great post, Crystal! There are really some fantastic ideas shared here!

    {hugs}
    Jaime

  • Katey says:

    Could anyone give me an idea of how much it typically costs to hire a designer? Thanks!

  • Sarah says:

    Thank you so much for this series Crystal! I am learning SO much — and realizing some of the mistakes I have been making.

  • Thank you for this post. I have learned that having my posts “scheduled” in my mind is working well for me. I am hoping to switch to WordPress from Blogger soon-but how easy/difficult is that ? Also, don’t try to rush your blog into making money or having a ton of followers. I find that if I add elements slowly, it works well. I’m also learning that I don’t need a picture on EVERY post.

  • tallymomma says:

    I started out on wordpress thankfully at the suggestion of another blogging friend (thanks for all the help Swaggrabber!). I knew nothing and was able to manage my first post in 1 day. I often referred to The Blog Boat website to help me set up the appearance and learn the technical part of running a blog. I did fall into the issue of life getting hairy and the blog falling to the wayside. Mine is one just for fun, family, and friends but one day it may be more.

  • Angi says:

    Thanks for sharing this Crystal. One of the things I love about the blogging communitiy is the sense of sharing that happens.

    Probably, the biggest tip I would give (after getting set up) is to schedule out your content. And write your posts ahead of time. My blog is about crafting, garending, homeschooling, etc. so it is not time sensitive so I can write out most of my posts on the weekend and schedule them to post throughout the week.

    My husband is a pastoral counselor and is starting a blog very soon. He’s been writing and banking posts so that when it launches it isn’t just 1 post.

    One thing that is a huge turn off for me is when bloggers write about how busy they are. Meaning, “Sorry I’ve haven’t posted, I’ve been busy”. We’re all busy. I much prefer when a blogger just picks right up when where they left off before their unintentional break.

    Can’t wait to read next week’s post!

  • Thank you for this series! It’s encouraging. I’m new to this and in my second month of blogging. I was so excited when I made $15 the first month. I know it’s not much, but it’s still exciting!

    I started with WordPress just because that is what BloggingWithAmy advised. It is VERY time consuming to get the blog started and everything formatted, but once it’s up it is very easy to maintain. I want to warn people, however, that if they are going to try to use WordPress without a designer it is a MUST to have an understanding of HTML.

    I don’t have any experience/training in HTML and there is no way I would have been able to figure it out on my own. Thankfully my husband was there to help me. 😉

    I agree with some of the other comment to be authentic. I’m about to finish a series on NFP (Natural Family Planning). I was so scared to write this series because I know it is an issue that most couples have strong opinions on. However, it is a tope I feel strongly and convicted about. I took the risk and posted it and the response amazed me. I had friends/family call me or email me about it. I have had more view on my NFP series than everything else combined x2.

    If you feel strong about something (while being respectful and considerate of differing opinions) post it and be transparent.

  • I’m just starting out, but I’m loving all the suggestions. Thanks!

  • Hi Crystal!

    BLOGGING HELP: I’ve only been blogging for about a month now, but I’ve found http://bloggingwithamy.com/ to be a HUGE help. She gives step-by-step instructions to make sure you start this process the right way.

    GETTING STARTED: I bought a domain with GoDaddy, hosting with Bluehost, and have a free WordPress design theme. I’d still like to get a designer to do my page, but I’m currently enjoying the process of learning how it all works by experimenting on my own.

    QUESTION: How much do you pay (or should one expect to pay) for designing services?

    Thanks for all your help!
    Jess

    • Crystal says:

      It depends upon how much design you want and the designer you choose, but it’s usually somewhere between $50 and $500, often averaging around $200-$250.

  • Deidre says:

    One tip I have is to pick a name that is short and easy to spell! When I picked my site name I didn’t know this, and I picked CuckooForCouponDeals.com – Everytime I am on tv or chatting with people at grocery stores, I have to spell out “cuckoo” because some people think it is “coocoo” or other ways to spell it. Also, people have a hard time remembering it because it is so long. But I’ve been with it two years and now it’s mine so I just have to love it besides its flaws.

  • I am hoping your next round will include some info on affiliates! I started off with just commission junction, but now have several accounts. It is getting a little hard to keep track. My biggest question is, if a site is listed on more than one affilite site (like coupons.com is listed on their own, cj.com and logical media or Groupon is on cj and lm). Which one do you choose? Thanks! I feel like I am drinking from a fire hydrant! But I still go back for more! 🙂

    • Crystal says:

      Not next week, but really soon, I’ll delve into multiple streams of income, affiliate marketing, etc.

      I go with the site that pays me the best return. For instance, Groupon is better on CJ, because you get paid for repeat purchases. Whereas, with LM, you only get paid for the initial sign-up.

  • Louise says:

    Wow, domain names cost $120 per year here in New Zealand!

  • Hey fellow bloggers!
    Great post, Crystal! I have been blogging since 2006 – crazy, right? But I have never done it as a way to make $$$, I have just written because I love to write and my friends always encourage me to share my stuff.

    That said, I have moved more towards a theme-style blog and have narrowed in on single parenthood, organization and tips for living a simpler, happier, debt-free life.

    Having this focus helps me 100% in writing posts or coming up with themes, such as “Thursday Tip Day.”

    Blogs are awesome; I read a billion of them and love mine. If you are going to do it, please only write about what you love and what you know. The rest will fall into place!

    Blessings to you all 🙂

  • Vicki says:

    I just started a blog on Blogger. I just need a very simple blog, nothing fancy, I don’t have a need for loads of “features” or a complicated design, so I just use the plain “Awesome” template Blogger provides. My biggest hurdle is: how to write really good content. I see lots of tips and ecourses on blogging. Most tell you about the technical aspects of setting up a blog, but few concentrate on the content writing part. I need a simple cheat sheet with some ideas for articles/blog posts in outline format, and maybe some writing tips also for making the posts more interesting and effective — simple tips I can implement without signing up for a 4-year degree program in creative writing would be great! I often feel like the tips I provide on my blog are too random, and I don’t feel like I know what I’m doing yet. I have put about 5 posts up so far. I love your tip about putting up 15 posts and putting another 15 posts in queue before ‘advertising’ my blog. I wasn’t really sure how much blogging to do before promoting the blog, and/or how many blog posts a day/week/month are really necessary? I basically plan to promote the blog only to people already on my email newsletter list, not drive general traffic to the blog. If I get some general traffic from Google,that’s nice, but it’s not my main concern. I just wanted to set up a blog to be able to share some tips and tools with my email subscribers, as a perk for them. I’m not too worried about being picked up by the search engines. I just want to write decent content so my subscribers will feel they are being taken care of. Thank you for posting this series about blogging.

  • Angela R says:

    GREAT post, Crystal! Yes, people PLEASE research the name. And if the name you want is taken, don’t just do a slight variation. How is that going to set you apart???

    My biggest mistake in starting my blog was trying to create it more of a website, and less of a personal blog. Thank goodness I realized a few months in people were reading the site b/c they enjoyed my POV, so I made a decision to play up the personal aspect of my blog. I’ve incorporated more photos, had the fabulous Joy Miller of Five J’s give my site a warm feel, and shared more of my opinions. While mine is a coupon blog, I’ve enjoyed posting a range of stuff.

    My biggest advice for a new blogger would be BE AUTHENTIC. Please don’t decide to start a blog b/c you enjoy reading another blog so much you want to recreate it. BE YOU.

  • As someone who has been blogging for almost 4 years, I can 100% agree with each one of those points. I absolutely wish that I had started with WordPress (I also went the Typepad route and spent a lot of money, time and headache switching over after 2 years). The options and flexibility that WP gives me through plugins and themes (I use Thesis) is just unbelievable and I can’t believe I ever blogged without WP.

    I also think it’s really important to choose the right name for your site and to put a lot of thought and effort into that choice. I almost didn’t stick with my desired name (Keeper of the Home) because the .com wasn’t available. But my gut told me that it was the right name, and so even though I ended up with the .org (and .net, .info and .ca) I did it anyways. It was the right move, because it was the best name to suit my blog and it’s purposes. And eventually, I was able to grab the .com about 2 1/2 years in, so I got what I wanted anyways. 🙂

    As for point #5, about planning out your posts and ensuring that your blog has something substantial on it, I couldn’t agree more. About one year ago I launched a new blog called SavingNaturally.com (which I no longer own). Prior to launching, however, I spent over a month beginning to write various pages for the blog, begin content series, and even posting deals that I knew would be irrelevant by the time I officially “launched”. When I did launch, visitors could really see what the blog was all about and have a reason to stick around, and the response was fantastic. I was so glad that I took the time to really prepare the blog!

    Lastly, I think that having an editorial calendar of future blog posts is crucial. There’s nothing wrong with wanting to write up a post spur of the moment, just because it’s something you really want to write about. But, since I began planning out my posts weeks and even months ahead of time, I have been able to be much more organized, more on topic, develop themes and series more fully, and keep myself less stressed out with last-minute deadlines (“oh no, what on earth am I going to write about for tomorrow morning!”). I also use Google calendar to organize my post schedule and it is just a tremendous help.

    Lots of good suggestions, Crystal! 🙂

    • I should add, that even though the .com of my name was taken, it was just being held by a company, not being used as a site with the same name. So I knew that I didn’t have any real competition for my name, I simply needed to make the .org work and try to get my hands on the .com as quickly as I could.

    • Crystal says:

      I’m still working on having the “months ahead of time planning” done, but, I’m excited to at least be planning posts in detail four weeks out now. Maybe next year, I’ll get organized enough to plan out months in advance! 🙂

  • Jackie says:

    I started on one site and finally moved to Word Press myself. It is such an easy site to use. The most important tip I can give is to take a good blogging course. I took a free one (http://blogwritingcourse.com/learn_to_blog/did-you-just-say-a-free-blogging-course/) and then followed up with their main course. It has saved me sooo much time and trouble. I am still learning and improving my blog all the time.

    Joyfully,
    Jackie
    My Attempt at Blogging
    http://www.quaintscribbles.wordpress.com

  • I’m enjoying this series. My biggest advice as a blogger and an avid blog reader, is to be relatively consistent with how often you post. I don’t think that means you have to post every day, depending on your blog style and what it’s about. The first thing I look for on a new blog if I like what I’m reading is the date of the last post – if it’s from a long time ago I don’t subscribe to the blog. There are so, so many completely abandoned blogs out there.

    I have a blogging question. What’s the proper way to post a recipe you found on another blog? If I try a recipe that is posted on another blog, and my family loves it and I want to share it on my blog, should I:
    1) Retype the recipe in my own words with my own modifications and then link back to the original post saying that’s where I found it?
    2) E-mail the blog author asking if it’s okay for me to repost (in my own words) the recipe on my blog?
    3) Simply post my own pics, tell what my modifications I made to the recipe, and include the link back to original blog, but not really post the entire recipe?
    4) What if you found the recipe on somewhere like allrecipes.com or a physical cookbook? Do the same rules apply?

    I have several recipes I’d like to share on my blog, but I didn’t come up with them completely on my own. I’ve read several times saying you shouldn’t copy recipes from someone else’s blog (and I agree), but I’ve not seen specifics of what is okay.

    • Crystal says:

      From what I understand, recipes aren’t copyrighted. As a courtesy, if you found it on another blog, I’d link there to acknowledge where you got it from. But you can totally share the recipe along with your own completely re-written directions on your own blog. Adding your picture, along with any changes/variations is always nice, though, so that you’re not just repeating something you could have just linked to.

  • dana says:

    Thanks so much everyone for all the tips!
    I started a blog 2 years ago, just to keep our relatives posted on our family (11 kiddos) and our fulltime RV travels. I have met so many neat people through the blog, and am becoming more interested in helping it become more of a ‘this is how we do it’ blog where curious families could come to find out if the lifestyle would work for them. I would love to learn to make money with it (have you priced fuel these days?LOL!).
    I started on blogger, and am not at all techy. HOW do I change to WordPress, or where would I find the info on how to accomplish it?

    Thanks for any direction you could give!

  • I wish I had joined blog hops and facebook hops earlier, as well as promoting on facebook. I could have had connections with other bloggers much earlier and that would have made blogging much easier. I did a lot of link ups early on, but those people tended to just look at the one post that I pointed to.

    I also wish that I had put multiple counters on from the very beginning. I chose statcounter about a month after I started, but the free version doesn’t give individual user counts. I added google analytics a couple of months ago, but wish I had used both from the very beginning.

    • TNK says:

      Counters are interesting… and all of them are SOOOO wrong. I have my site hosted on a personal server. So I am actually able to see the traffic real time coming in and out of my site. You would be amazed at the number of visitors analytics and those other site meters miss. Its ALOT.

  • I write a blog on parenting books and wish that I had done more giveaways from the start ( I generally give away a copy of each book I review). The giveaways seem to really help with my hits.

  • Becky says:

    Dumb question but when you mention to purchase all variations of the name; are you referring too .com, .org, .net, .info and so on or variations on the actual name? Thanks

  • Laura says:

    Thanks so much for this series. It has been very helpgul and I’m looking forward to the next one.

  • Bambi says:

    Thank so much for this series! I’ve been blogging for a little over a year with blogger and the thought of switching to wordpress is overwhelming. Thinking I will just buy the domain name through blogger and keep it simple.

    Lack of experience at blogging keeps me from sharing a lot of tips, but as an avid blog *reader* I can testify that blog writers who are humble and real draw me back again and again. I especially like parenting and “mommy” blogs, blogs that encourage me in Biblical Womanhood and simple living. So bloggers who share their mistakes and can make me laugh or cry, are my favs 🙂

    A catchy name is also a plus. I am pleased with my blog name because it is original and identifies my convictions very succintly. However, after reading all these comments I am afraid it may be a bit long 🙂

    Thanks Again for all the help! Bambi

  • I have a tip, I hope it hasn’t been listed. If you have a blog set up you should allow readers to comment with a name and URL. A lot of blogs I read don’t allow me to post a comment unless I have certain accounts setup, like a google or WordPress username.

  • Loving this series. It is really helping a lot!

  • I am very much a “fly by the seat of my pants” blogger who needs to make some adjustments. Thanks for the great tips!

  • Carmen says:

    I’d like to clarify something in your post. It’s not that WordPress costs money – it’s free. What costs money is that instead of having a free site like Blogger host your site, you have to pay someone to host it for you. So instead of just going to one place (like Blogger) to have them do it all for you, you could potentially have three pieces for the setup: the domain name, the hosting site, and installing WordPress software.

    I personally don’t like GoDaddy because of the values they portray in their commercials. I use NameCheap.com to reserve my domain name ($8.88/yr). They also have web hosting, but I like to keep that separate in case I have problems with one company or the other, they go out of business, etc. It’s pretty easy to set up the domain so it points to the web hosting server – and any good, reputable company will help you with that initial setup.

  • Ashley says:

    Thanks for the great info. I have said it time and time again you are my inspiration!!! I am so excited to see the things to come for me. I submitted a great post for you. Its called “A Frugal Afternoon”

Money Saving Mom® Comment Policy

We love comments from readers, so chime in with your thoughts below! We do our best to keep this blog upbeat and encouraging, so please keep your comments cordial and kind. Read more information on our comment policy.

Leave a Comment

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *