Blogging FAQ

Whenever I tell people I blog for a living, or when I talk about blogging and websites in general, there are questions. I’ve gotten all kinds since I started blogging in 2004. These are the popular ones.

blogging faq

Making money blogging

Getting started

The nitty gritty

Do people really make money from blogging?

Yes, all the time. The money I earn from this blog, sales of my book and income from related projects is our family’s main source of income.
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Is making money blogging legitimate?

Absolutely. As in any industry, there are definitely scammy people out to make a quick buck, but many, many people are making very legitimate money via blogging and other income streams related to blogging. And the number is growing all the time.
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How do people make money blogging?

There are several ways people do so. Here are the main ones:

  1. Putting advertisements on their blog. Just like a TV show gets paid by advertisers to insert commercials into their show, a blogger gets paid by advertisers to insert graphic or text ads into their blog.
  2. Promoting a product for someone else and then getting a commission if a sale is made. This is called affiliate marketing. I wrote a post called What is Affiliate Marketing? in case you’re curious.
  3. Using a blog as a launching point to sell their own product(s) or service(s) like I’ve done with my time management ebook Tell Your Time and like I do when I coach or consult. I also charge a small fee to get premium access to all my useletter tips.
  4. Taking advantage of other opportunities their blog brings such as authoring a book, virtual assistance (here’s how to become a virtual assistant), speaking, brand ambassadorship or writing for online and offline publications.

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How long does it take to make money as a blogger?

Blogging for profit is hard work and certainly will not happen overnight; it’s just like starting any other business. The nice thing is, there’s very little overhead and virtually no risk.

There are always exceptions to the rule, but I’d say on average, most of us started making coffee money after about 6 months, a solid part-time income took at least a year and a full-time income, 2 years plus. If you’re willing to do the hard work in the beginning, it can really pay off down the road.
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How can I start my own blog?

You can start your own blog in 15 minutes or less. I’ll walk you right through the process. You’ll get your digital hands dirty but technical know-how is not required to start.
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I’m not very tech-savvy. Can I do this?

I like non-tech-savvy types. After all, I started with no computer background myself. My goal is to teach anyone how to blog or create a website from the very beginning. I’ve taught countless people these steps, most of whom have no prior web building knowledge.
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How much does having a blog cost?

It depends on a few things such as the blogging platform you use, the size of your site, whether or not you want to make money blogging and more. Like anything, there are plenty of additional products/services you can buy to enhance your blogging experience, but $10 a month (paid annually in most cases) would sufficiently cover the basics. If you hope to earn income, clearly it’s not huge overhead. Most offline businesses cost significantly more to start. But like any business, it requires a ton of work and it doesn’t happen overnight. If at all possible, I don’t recommend using a free blogging service (like Blogger, for example).
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Why don’t you recommend using a free service like Blogger or WordPress.com?

If you have no intention whatsoever of using your blog to generate income now or down the road, either of these services work just fine. However, you get what you pay for and for a business blog, expandability and flexibility are key, both of which are limited with free blogging services. Also, a free service means you don’t really own your blog, they do. That’s not so good if you’re counting on the income. I always recommend a self-hosted WordPress site.
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What’s the difference between WordPress.com and WordPress.org?

Good question. Both use the same blogging software, which is free. The difference lies in the host. With a self-hosted WordPress blog, you purchase hosting yourself and therefore it’s “self-hosted.” If you have a free blog on WordPress.com, they host your blog for you. (Do you find these terms confusing? Read this post and it’ll make a lot more sense.)

At first glance, you might think the deal at WordPress.com is a sweeter one. I mean, free blogging platform plus free hosting–score right? Well, life is all about trade-offs (as my dad would say). So, in exchange for their free service, they severely limit your ability to customize your blog and do not allow you to monetize (i.e. make money) unless you pay an upgrade fee. And if you’re going to pay them for the chance to make some money, you might as well purchase your own hosting and have a whole lot more control over your blog and business to start with!
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What’s the difference between a blog and a regular website?

A blog is a type of website that is updated regularly, with posts listed in reverse chronological order (newest first). I often use the term “website” to refer to the type of site which is static, that is, not updated regularly. A static website would be used like a brochure, providing basic information about yourself, your company or your organization. For example, if you want to start a virtual assistance business or you want a website for your existing business with basic info like services, pricing and contact info, a static website would be the way to go.
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What if I don’t want a blog but just a regular website?

No problem. You can still follow the steps here, and then just make this simple tweak.
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Who are you and why should I listen to you?

I’m Amy. I created my first website in 2004. I am completely self-taught (read: zero prior computer knowledge) and if I can do it, you can too…except you won’t have to be googling like a crazy person (that’s how I learned) since I spell it all out for ya. :) For me, blogging started out as a hobby and has grown into a full-time job.
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What is a niche?

Your blog’s general topic is often called a niche. While not required, a niche provides focus and direction, making your blog’s purpose easily understood and defined, not only by you, but by your visitors as well. Some examples of popular niches are food, decorating, memoirs, homeschooling, fitness or weight loss, parenting, photography, etc.
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What does “Above the Fold” mean?

Everything on your site that shows up as soon as your page loads is above the fold. Anything a visitor has to scroll down to see is below the fold.
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What is a child theme?

A child theme is the second part of a WordPress theme. This explains the concept.
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What’s the difference between a domain and a URL?

Your domain is the web address you would give to someone if they asked, “What’s your website?” or “Where can I find you on the internet?” On the other hand, the URL (stands for Uniform Resource Locator) is the complete string of characters that identifies a web address. So, for example:

  • My domain = AmyLynnAndrews.com
  • My URL = http://AmyLynnAndrews.com

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What is SEO?

SEO stands for Search Engine Optimization and involves making your site more attractive to the search engines so they will include your site when someone searches for a topic you write about. Read my full post, What is SEO? (And Why It Matters).
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This post was updated on April 15, 2014.

I Hate Promoting My Own Stuff. What Should I Do?

promoting myself

I am not good at promoting my own stuff, not so much because I’m humble, but more because I’m insecure. I have Eeyore tendencies (“Probably no one would want this.”).

But Eeyore, precious as he is, doesn’t always operate in reality. And frankly, he can be a drag to be around. Then again, Tiggers can be annoying too if all they ever do is promote themselves.

The fact is, there’s someone out there who wants what you provide. Don’t apologize for it and don’t brag about it. Don’t tip-toe and don’t gush. Just do it, and tell others about it straight up.

Not sure what it is you have to offer? Here, try this:

Do people marvel at something you do? Do you love doing it?

There. Focus on that.

Can I Link to My aStore in an Email? {Q&A}

In my post last week called Are You An Amazon Associate? Are You Violating This Term of Service? I explained that (as of now) it is a violation of the Amazon Associates Operating Agreement if any of your Amazon Associates links are in emails. If you haven’t read that post, I recommend you do so first.

can i link to my astore in an email

Many of you have wondered if linking instead to your aStore would be a viable workaround.

According to my latest Amazon chat (it’s becoming a regular occurence, lol), the answer is, it depends. [Read more...]

Did My Useletter Land in Your Spam Folder?

Apparently my useletter from last Saturday landed in a lot of spam folders. So if you didn’t see it, you might check there!

Tips I shared:

  1. How to delete your unused accounts
  2. Free background texture tool, with color!
  3. Where to find special characters not on your keyboard
  4. How to find similar sites and get out of a rut
  5. Plus a few more tidbits about cool things I’ve found, what I downloaded and more.

Don’t know what the useletter is?

My useletter is for those who work (or want to work) online from home. It’s a once- or twice-a-week email containing tips I don’t post elsewhere like… (read more…)

Do I Really Have to Include a Mailing Address in My Email Newsletter? {Q&A}

I get a lot of blogging questions in my inbox. I do my best to answer as many as I can, but I’ve decided to post some common ones so everyone can (hopefully) benefit. This one is a good one and very important.

mailing address in email newsletter

Yes.

If you use an email service provider (ESP) to send out an email newsletter (like I use Mad Mimi* to send out The Useletter™), chances are you will be asked for a physical mailing address when you sign up.

This address will be inserted into every email newsletter you send out.

For many, this throws up a red flag, which is understandable. After all, who wants their physical mailing address floating out there, right? (I sure don’t!) Here’s the scoop…

1. This is normal

Being asked for a physical mailing address by your ESP is standard practice. In fact, if you aren’t asked for a physical mailing address, you should proceed with caution. Why? Because (here in the U.S. at least), according to the CAN-SPAM Act (see #4) you must include your location. In other words, if an ESP says you don’t need to include one and you live in the U.S., I’d find another ESP pronto.

2. Use a snail mail address

You have to use a location where you can receive snail mail. You may not use a website or email address.

3. Don’t use your home address

Although you can use your home address, I definitely don’t recommend it. You can use a different mailing address as long as you can receive mail there. In my case, I rent a P.O. box. (Some rent a box at The UPS Store or similar.) I rent the smallest size since I rarely get mail there and the cost for me works out to about $5 a month, paid 6-12 months in advance usually.

4. It’s possible to find free options

If you don’t want to rent a box, you might also be able to use the mailing address of a brick and mortar business you own or are associated with. If you’re going to go that route, though, I highly recommend you consult a lawyer to see whether or not you can do so without violating the CAN-SPAM Act.

5. Whatever you do, don’t use a fake address

I’ve seen this suggestion made by those who don’t want to pay for a box and don’t have access to alternatives. Don’t do it! This is a direct violation of the CAN-SPAM Act and as included in the document, “Each separate email in violation of the CAN-SPAM Act is subject to penalties of up to $16,000, so non-compliance can be costly.” Did you catch that? Each. Separate. Email. Up to $16,000. Ouch!

As I mentioned, the email service provider I use is Mad Mimi and I highly recommend them. Their free plan allows you to have up to 2500 contacts and send 12,500 emails per month so it’s perfect if you’re just getting started building your list. And once you outgrow that, the cost of a post office box is well worth it.

*There are affiliate links in this post.