If I would have to choose the one thing that has helped me improve my finances the most over the last 6 years, I would say starting my blog would be number one.
If I added everything I’ve earned over this time period I would be in the neighborhood of $30,000 plus. That may not sound like a lot over the last 6 years but that equates out to around $500 a month.
I don’t know about you but what could you do with an extra $500 a month right now?
My guess is that it would do the same for you as it did for me and cut out things like laying in bed every night with that consonant knot of financial dread in your stomach, wondering where you’re going to come up with the money to pay next months bills.
The simple answer to this is to take control of your finances and one way I did this was to start my own blog and as a result it’s been the best choice I’ve ever made.
So in today’s article I thought I’d help those who would like to take a similar path and share the top 21 resources and tools I’ve used to start and earn money from my first blog.
Finally, if you get a chance make sure you bookmark this post so you can reference it later.
If you are new to online marketing this is probably the definitive guide to getting started by Neil Patel from Quick Spout. I read this guide a while back and it’s full of some great tips and information.
This guide covers everything from picking your niche, to setting up your mailing list, to going mobile. On top of that it also has a great section on affiliate marketing that I found very helpful as well.
When your starting your blog one of the first things you will need to do is buy a domain name. Your domain is the www address that people type into the search bar at the top of a web browser.
A few domains I bought are obviously this one at WalletImpact.com and StumbleForward.com. On top of that domain names are fairly cheap, running around $11 a year. Finally, I recommend you go with a .com if possible but if that does not work a .net or .org will work as well.
Once you have a domain name you will need a place to host your website. This is also a fairly inexpensive cost as well. One place I actually in the process of switching to is Bluehost. Believe it or not the hosting company you go with is very important.
My current hosting company has been having a lot of issues with downtime which has caused me to search for a better hosting provider. On top of that Bluehost is recommended as one of the top 3 hosting providers for WordPress websites.
Setting up a self hosted blog can be a bit tricky, especially if you don’t understand the technical stuff. However just because you don’t understand the technical stuff doesn’t mean you can’t set it up yourself.
To help you set up your blog I found this great in depth video tutorial by Micheal Hyatt to help you get your site up in as little as 20 minutes, and more importantly your blog will be set up the right way.
Once your site has been set up you will need a theme. A theme is a collection of files that work together to produce a graphical interface with an underlying unifying design for a blog, or more simply it makes your blog look nice. To do this I use the Genesis Framework.
The framework adds extra functionality to make managing my site a lot easier. On top of that it helps my site show up better in search engines and look better. This site uses the Genesis framework along with the Magazine Pro Theme.
When you’re first starting out one thing you will have to learn is how to write headlines that attract visitors to your site. Your headline is the first thing your visitors will read and with all the noise out there on the web it’s very important that you stand out.
I should note that you will have to opt in to a mailing list to get the full eBook but you will also get that and several other great and informative eBooks along with it.
Another way you can add to your blog is with plugins. Plugins are extensions of the WordPress platform and their are tons of them out there. Plugins can do everything from creating a contact form to setting up a fully functioning eCommerce site. If their is something you specifically want your site to do their is probably a plugin for it.
If you want to see just how many plugin their are just check this out. The problem is however their are so many plugins out there to choose from it can be hard to pick the right one. The great part is that this article does a really good job of helping you pick out the right ones.
Once you’ve written your headline it’s also very important that you get people to engage with your website and that is why the first paragraph of your blog post is so important. If someone gets through the first 3 to 4 sentences of your blog post it’s more likely that they will read the rest of the article.
To help you out in writing your first blog post here a great graphic that Derek Halpern from Social Triggers put together that gives you visual representation of how your blog post should be constructed.
Next your blog post would not be complete with out pictures. Graphics and pictures work great to lead visitors down the page, engage, and explain things to them into your content. That’s exactly why I have a large 580 X 290 picture at the top of everyone of my blog post.
The one downside to pictures is that they can be more expensive from certain sites, this is why I use Photodune.net. Every picture I buy cost me only $1 whereas as bigger sites like istockphoto.com will charge around $6 or more for one photo.
Like I mentioned earlier how you write your content is very important. I came across this list of tips to writing a great blog post and I couldn’t help but add it. This article covers everything from setting up categories to publishing and promoting it.
One important thing I want to add here is don’t get overwhelmed by all the tips here. Just take things one step at a time. Try one tip and see how people react to it. If people don’t care for it try something else.
Number 11 on this list is to set up a mailing list with Aweber. I’ve only recently gotten into doing mailing list but I can totally see the power behind them. With a mailing list you can send visitors back to your site again and again.
I started my last blog and never built a mailing list and as a result lost a huge portion of my search engine traffic due to a few algorithm updates. By creating a mailing list with Aweber I have complete control of my audience.
Do you know what makes some blogs successful and others not so successful? This is a great article written by Internet Business Mastery that cover the 15 things that make blogs successful and what they do differently to stand out.
I’ve actually incorporated a lot of these tips into this blog and found them very helpful. On top of that this blog post is also an audio blog which you can download and listen to as well.
Another tool I use to manage and run my blog is to use Pic Monkey. This is a site you can use to create and manage your images for your blog. In fact the image at the top of this blog post was created with Pic Monkey.
The best part about this is that it’s free and easy to use. For a long time creating images was very hard for me to do but with Pic Monkey all I have to do is set my dimensions and go.
Once you have your site and first blog post up it’s time to start promoting your site. One simple way to do this is to guest blog on other popular sites within your niche. Doing this gets you in front of audiences similar to yours helping you spread your name and brand.
This article by Moz.com covers everything you need to know about how to find the right places to get your message out and how to develop your content ideas the site and topic. They even show you how to reach out to other influencers and get offers to write guest post.
Another article I’ve found really helpful to building my blog audience is this great guide by Neil Patel. Building your audience, especially in the beginning can be a bit challenging.
This guide covers everything from doing paid social traffic to blog syndication. In fact their are so many ideas in this one guide I’ve yet to implement them all myself, especially the paid tactics since I don’t have much of a budget for that yet.
Now that you have a site up and running along with content on it’s time to start earning some income from it and one of the best ways to do this is to become an affiliate of products related your niche.
This guide from Viperchill gives you everything you need to know about finding the right affiliate programs for your audience to setting up your funnel strategy.
The most prominent way I’ve earned income with my blog is by using Google Adsense. In fact I’ve earned nearly $27,000 with just this one advertising solution.
However their are some important things you should know before you put Adsense on your blog. This article on Making Money with Adsense covers nearly every aspect to getting up and an running and making the most for your money.
Another way to earn income with your blog is with direct advertising. This is where you work one on one directly with your advertiser rather than going through a third party company such as Google Adsense.
This article does a great job of explaining how it works. The only thing is you will need a certain level of traffic before you can attract most advertiser before they will put an ad up on your blog.
When it comes to affiliate marketing it’s also very important that you follow some very important rules and nobody knows this better than Pat Flynn. He earns tens of thousands of dollars from affiliate marketing each month and he has learned some very important rules.
These rules can either make or break your online business or help you increase your earnings. So if you want to succeed at affiliate marketing you need to understand these rules.
Once your site has been up for a while one tool I go back to every now and again is a website analysis to see how things stack up with my site. This analysis shows me everything from how I’m doing with search ranking factors to social factors.
What’s also great is that it’s completely free and all you have to do is input your domain name and within a few minutes you will get a detailed report that you can print out and review.
Finally, you may have gotten your blog up but realized this is still way beyond what you know and I want you to know that is OK, because the final resource is a step by step program that I have personally used and seen great results from.
The Internet Business Mastery Academy is filled with how to videos and audio so you can take things with you on the go, or even work right from your home desktop. On top of that it also comes with step by step instructions to help you launch and build your online business. So if you are a bit overwhelmed this may be the perfect resource for you.
Finally to end this great resource list I thought I would add two other tools that I did not mention in this article which is Google Analytic’s and Google Webmaster Tools. I use both of these tools on a consistent basis to run and manage my websites.
Now that I’ve shared the tools and resources I’ve used to start and earn money from my first blog what is one tool or resource that I haven’t mentioned that you like? Share you comment below.