Amy Lynn Andrews I teach people how to blog. Thu, 24 Jul 2014 14:02:04 +0000 en-US hourly 1 Canadian Anti-Spam Legislation (CASL): What I’m Doing Tue, 01 Jul 2014 21:01:21 +0000 It’s July 1 and the Canadian Anti-Spam Legislation (CASL) goes into effect today. As you can imagine, there’s a lot of legal stuff involved, most of which goes way over my head because I don’t have any authority, expertise or law degrees. I am not a lawyer and this is not legal advice. However, as […]

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It’s July 1 and the Canadian Anti-Spam Legislation (CASL) goes into effect today.

canadian anti-spam legislation what I'm doing

As you can imagine, there’s a lot of legal stuff involved, most of which goes way over my head because I don’t have any authority, expertise or law degrees. I am not a lawyer and this is not legal advice.

However, as a blogger and business owner, I’ve done some reading. (Any blogger or business owner should. From many sources.)

Because I’ve been asked…

I’ll share how I understand CASL and what I’m doing for my own business. You (and your lawyer) will have to decide what to do for yours.

If you’ve come across different or additional information in your own research, please, please feel free to share in the comments. We’ve gotta be in this together.

What I’m doing may be considered overkill by some, but I’d rather err on that side than the other. Especially when there are million dollar fines hanging in the balance.

Things to know

  • CASL will not single-handedly change the internet as we know it. No need to freak out, but don’t ignore it either.
  • Regarding email, if you have a double opt-in email list (like from Mad Mimi*, FeedBurner or another well-known email service provider) you’re probably doing a lot right already.
  • A lot of people are focusing on CASL as it applies to emails, newsletters and email marketing in general. However, at this point, the rules also apply to other forms of electronic communication like texts, instant messages (IMs), direct messages (DMs), @ replies on Twitter, etc.
  • The rules only apply to people you send “commercial electronic messages” to in Canada. It doesn’t apply to people you send commercial electronic messages in other parts of the world (although those countries might have their own laws you need to abide by).
  • People who live in Canada do have email addresses without the .ca at the end (ex. so don’t assume email addresses without the .ca are fine.
  • CASL doesn’t just affect businesses. It affects organizations too.
  • Make sure anyone who works for you (like a VA) knows about CASL.
  • The details of CASL are not entirely clear. There are a lot of gray areas. All the more reason you should know how it specifically applies to you and your situation. Do your research!

What is CASL & should you care?

CASL is a Canadian law aimed at reducing spam in any “commercial electronic message” (CEM) accessible by computers in Canada. In other words, if you send electronic messages to people in Canada, you should pay attention. Not sure?

Do you use electronic channels (email, social media, texts, etc.) to promote/market your organization, product(s) or service(s)? If so, you should pay attention to CASL because it’s likely some of those will go to Canada. (source)

What does CASL require?

casl requirements

The above infographic is from the main site of CASL. Here are the main points:

  1. Consent. You have to get explicit consent by a Canadian recipient before you send them a commercial electronic message.
  2. Identification. You need to identify yourself with a name and current mailing address address. Also, you need to provide a working email address, phone number or website address.
  3. Unsubscribe option. You need to have an easy unsubscribe option in each message.

What I’m doing

Keep doing what I’m doing.
The Useletter is definitely my most valuable commercial electronic message (I don’t do much elsewhere). Because it’s double opt-in, people have given me explicit consent to email them, so I can keep doing business as usual there.

Edit the footer in emailed blog posts.
I don’t really offer blog posts via email anymore, but if you do, you might wanna put your identification info in the footer of every email.

How do you know if you have contact info in there already? Pull up one of your archived emails (you do subscribe to your own blog, right?) and check. If your contact info is not there and you’re not sure how to get it there, you can contact your email service provider. Alternatively, a simple workaround is to put the contact info in the footer of your RSS feed. You can use Yoast’s WordPress SEO plugin to do this. Once you’ve installed the plugin, go to your WordPress Dashboard. Then go to SEO (in the left column) –> RSS –> Content to put after each post –> Enter your contact info –> Save. Then check to make sure it’s in there next time a post goes out.

Edit The Useletter footer.
Mad Mimi makes it easy to include a mailing address in the footer of your emails. That’s been there since the beginning. Today I added my website address to fulfill the second part of the identification requirement (see infographic above).

If you’re using Mad Mimi, go to Account. I simply added my website address to the end of “Physical Address.”

Take out the “Forward to a Friend” option in The Useletter
I’m doing this per Jeanne Jennings’s suggestion on ClickZ because I can’t guarantee my emails won’t be forwarded to someone who hasn’t given me consent.

To remove this feature in Mad Mimi, go to Tweaks and “hide” the option to forward to a friend. Save your changes.

Edit my confirmation email.
As soon as someone enters their email address into The Useletter signup form, they are sent a confirmation email. (The confirmation email is the second step in the double opt-in process.) They have to click the confirmation link in that email in order to complete the 2-step signup process and be added to my mailing list. Until today, my confirmation email said this:

Hi there,

Thanks for signing up for my useletter! I’m excited you’ll be joining me, but I want to make sure no one signed you up without your consent. So please follow the simple instructions below and you’ll get the next useletter as soon as it goes out!

But now I’ve added the 3 elements suggested by CASL (purpose, identification and unsubscribe info). It reads:

Hi there,

Thanks for signing up for The Useletter! I’m excited you’ll be joining me, but I want to make sure no one entered your email address without your consent.

Do you see that confirmation link down there at the bottom of this email? By clicking on it, you are agreeing to let me send you my super duper emails. Once you click that link, you’ll get The Useletter as soon as it goes out again. You can unsubscribe at any time by clicking the unsubscribe link at the bottom of any email you receive.

By the way, if you have questions, reply to this email or reach me at

(You can also contact me via snail mail here: [mailing address].)

To edit your confirmation email in Mad Mimi:

edit mad mimi webform

Click the Webform tab on the right. Click the Edit button of the webform you want to edit. Click the Advanced tab on the right. Click the “Edit activation message” button to edit. Don’t forget to save your changes when you’re done!

Edit my Contact page.
I’m editing the email address I have on my Contact page to include “no unsolicited sales or promotional emails please.” This is because there’s a caveat in the law that says you can send something if an email address is publicly displayed without a note to not send promotional messages. I realize I’m not a Canadian so it doesn’t really apply, but why not put this in anyway? You know, keep the spammers guessing.

I will not send emails to customers more than 2 years from the date of purchase.
When someone buys something from me (like Tell Your Time), it means I have an active business relationship with them and emailing them is acceptable within 2 years. Also, if someone has contacted me with a question about my products/services within the last 6 months, I can email them too. Longer than that, though, and it’s not allowed without express consent.

Things that don’t apply to me but might to you

Read the linked articles and linked sources for more…

  1. There’s some question about whether or not it’s okay to add an email address from a contact’s business card.
  2. No pre-checked opt-in boxes allowed. This does not so much apply to me as a business owner, but as a consumer, I like this part (well, I would if I was Canadian). I can’t stand it when I buy something and as I’m working my way through the checkout process, there are pre-checked boxes that automatically sign me up for a mailing list too. This is part of CASL explained as “express consent.” In other words, someone has to take action in order to get on your list. Another example is, you can’t say things like “check the box if you don’t want to be added to the list” or “check the box if you don’t want to receive emails” or “click the link if you want to stop receiving emails.”
  3. Do not buy email lists.
  4. Switch from single opt-in to double opt-in.

Recap of my main sources

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Get Inc. and Fast Company Magazines for Cheap Today Mon, 09 Jun 2014 18:48:02 +0000 There’s a one-day deal going on that’s pretty sweet. I just took advantage of it myself. You can get two magazines, Inc. & Fast Company* for only $8.99 per year. That’s a 62% savings. (You can order up to 4 years at this price.) Just enter coupon code HEYAMY at checkout. This offer expires today, Monday 06/09/14, […]

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fast companyinc.There’s a one-day deal going on that’s pretty sweet. I just took advantage of it myself.

You can get two magazines, Inc. & Fast Company* for only $8.99 per year. That’s a 62% savings. (You can order up to 4 years at this price.)

Just enter coupon code HEYAMY at checkout.

This offer expires today, Monday 06/09/14, at 11:59 PM EST.

*There are affiliate links in this post.

(Hat Tip: Money Saving Mom)

The post Get Inc. and Fast Company Magazines for Cheap Today appeared first on Amy Lynn Andrews.

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How to Make Money Blogging – 2014 Edition Thu, 05 Jun 2014 01:06:11 +0000 If you’ve ever wondered how to make money blogging, you’ve come to the right place. I hope this will be a useful reference for you. My goal was to create a one-stop guide with as much relevant information as possible. This is the beta version with updates and additions coming. (If you want to be notified […]

The post How to Make Money Blogging – 2014 Edition appeared first on Amy Lynn Andrews.

If you’ve ever wondered how to make money blogging, you’ve come to the right place. I hope this will be a useful reference for you. My goal was to create a one-stop guide with as much relevant information as possible.

This is the beta version with updates and additions coming. (If you want to be notified of the updates, subscribe to my useletter and you’ll be the first to know!)

how to make money blogging

table of contents

Things You Need
How It Works
The Bottom Line
Ways to Make Money Blogging

Where to Begin
Next Steps
Like it?


Can the average person make money blogging? Absolutely. Just like any business it requires hustle – a lot of hustle – but it is definitely within reach.

The internet has provided opportunities in business unlike any other time in history. There’s a very low barrier to entry, the playing field is leveled, it costs next to nothing to get started and the overhead and risk are minimal.

I know this to be true because I’ve done it myself and I’ve watched countless others do the same.

At the beginning of 2010 I was not making any significant money online. Less than two years later, my husband quit his job and my online income now supports us.

Note: I have included some of my referral links in this post. If you click through them and make a purchase, I will make a small commission. This is at no extra cost to you but it helps keep the lights on here so I can keep bringing you great tips. I really appreciate your support in this way.
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things you need

There are a few things you need before you start making money blogging.

A blog

Obviously you’ll need a blog. If you don’t have one, no worries, simply follow the steps I outlined in How to Start a Blog. It only takes about 15 minutes to get online.


Once you’re set up, you’ll need to create content. This is the time-consuming part. It’ll be a while before you start seeing an income. There is no way around this. Unfortunately, there are no shortcuts. We all have to put in our time.

I assure you, the bloggers who are doing this for a living have been at it for years. Online business is no different than offline business in that regard. The good news is, you can do it too.
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how it works

When someone finds out blogging supports our family, inevitably I’m asked how. “How do you make money blogging?”

Before I started, I had the same question, so I understand where it comes from. The answer is not so straightforward but I think an analogy will help.

Think of a musician

It’s widely accepted that there are people in the world who make money as musicians. But how do musicians make money? There are a lot of different ways musicians make money, right?

Some go on tour and make money through ticket sales. Many sell their music in the form of CDs, MP3s and other channels. Some create their own merchandise (clothing lines, cosmetics, etc.). Others are under contract with a record label. Some are employed by a company that puts on regular shows (like a Las Vegas hotel for example). Some musicians write books and make money that way. Others are compensated when they endorse products. The list goes on and on.

Each of these “ways” to make money as a musician could be called an income stream.

Each musician cobbles together their own collection – portfolio is a good word – of income streams to make their living. The portfolio of income streams varies from musician to musician.

The same goes for bloggers. I’ll get into the specifics of each income stream in a moment, but first I need to talk about the 4-legged chair.

The 4-legged chair

To continue the comparison, think about how many musicians there are in the world. A lot right? So why aren’t all musicians professional musicians? Why don’t all of them sell tickets, CDs, merchandise, endorsements and the like?

I’m sure you’ll agree it’s because there’s something else required. Before a musician can sell tickets, CDs, merchandise, endorsements or anything else they have to have built some sort of proof of their talent, been recognized for their ability and established a following.

This is where my 4-legged chair comes in.

There are a lot of factors that determine whether or not someone becomes a professional blogger (or musician). But I think there are 4 main components on which a professional blogging (or musical) career must be built.

Think of these 4 main components like the four legs on a chair. To experience the most success, all must be present. I cannot emphasize this enough. If you are missing any of the four, you will struggle. And like most things in life, the more time and effort you put into the quality of each of these “legs” the bigger your return.

Setting up the first three legs is the part of the process that will take a lot of time. There won’t be a whole lot of return at first. But if you keep going, you’ll eventually see an uptick in income.

1. Create excellent content

Once you have a blog, you must add high-quality content. In order to make money, you have to have visitors, but in order for you to have visitors, you must have something worthwhile to visit.

To create your content, you can draw from the expertise or experience you already have. Start there. After that, never stop learning. Keep growing in your knowledge of your craft so the content you produce gets increasingly great.

The equivalent for a musician would obviously be music. They have to have music in their repertoire. And it has to be good.

2. Establish real relationships

While you grow your blog, start building sincere, no-strings-attached relationships via social media, commenting, forums, promoting others and the like.

If no one knows you exist, it’s unlikely you’ll get many visitors. People won’t naturally find you if you don’t put yourself out there. Plus, these relationships may benefit you when it comes time to promote your stuff later on.

“It’s not what you know, it’s who you know.” There’s a lot of truth in that little saying. Never underestimate the power of connections.

Don’t we hear about this all the time in music? People go out on auditions, they network, they take lessons, they attend gatherings and parties and do their best to establish relationships with people that might be able to help them along in their musical pursuits.

3. Build your platform

A lot of people don’t realize that for many bloggers most of the money they make does not come from blogging directly. For many, a blog is a platform. It’s online property. It’s where they establish an “official” digital home. It’s where people can get information about them. It’s like a modern-day business card, headshot, calling card or resume.

Bloggers us their blogs as springboards to launch other projects that bring in income, such as ebooks, books, speaking, other products, etc.

Your blog is a way to get exposure, build authority, gain trust and be helpful.

Call it your brand. Call it your platform. Build a consistent, trustworthy reputation and digital presence and it will help you rise above the noise online.

4. Choose and implement streams of income

Developing income streams is the last leg of the 4-legged chair. Many people want to focus only on this leg, but without the other three, it won’t work too well.

Income streams ebb and flow, so successful bloggers are constantly exploring new ways to make money. The key to making good money as a blogger is to have multiple streams of income. And small trickles of money coming from various places over time, can really add up.

In the next section I’ll break things down and get specific about the various income streams bloggers adopt, but first you need to know the bottom line.
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the bottom line

The bottom line is, making money as a blogger is about selling. Either you sell your own stuff or you sell someone else’s stuff (directly on your site or indirectly by referring people to them).

It shouldn’t be surprising, but for some reason this idea makes people cringe.

Ponder it for a moment. If you are making money doing what you do, you would be called a “professional.”  And therefore, a professional of any sort, be it musicians, authors, consultants, doctors, makers of widgets is in the business of selling too. They’re selling products, services, art or any number of things.

As a professional blogger, you’ll be selling too.

Think of selling as an investment

For many people, selling online conjures up visions of spam or slick, sleazy and gimmicky products of dubious quality. There’s plenty of that online, but there’s a whole lot more that’s valuable, useful and frankly, super convenient (I’m so glad I can buy a 50-pound bag of dog food on Amazon and have it delivered to my front door!).

I hope you’ve personally experienced the value of buying and selling online. If you’ve adopted the idea that any business online is sketchy (outside of the “big” online stores perhaps), erase the thought.

Selling is about investment. We are being sold to constantly. Some things we are willing to invest in and some we’re not.

The trick in making money as a blogger is selling things you can stand behind and things your readers are willing to invest in.

But I run a nonprofit

I’d still argue you’re “selling” something. It may not be goods or services, but you’re still trying to get people to buy into your cause, program, vision or movement.

It’s not selling in the most common sense of the word, but the concept behind it is the same: you spread the word about your organization and encourage people to invest in it either financially, emotionally, physically or spiritually.

But I don’t like selling!

I hear ya. I’m not good at promoting my own stuff and I feel uncomfortable “asking for the sale” over and over and over again. But I turned a corner when I realized selling can look a million different ways. It’s just a matter of doing it in a way that works for you.
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ways to make money blogging

As in our example of the musician, you’ll see there are numerous ways bloggers make money. Each blogger has a different portfolio of income streams. Knowing what types of income streams there are is helpful and can spark ideas, but if you try to dive into monetizing your blog before you’ve really built it, you run the risk of damaging the reputation (platform) you so desperately need.

At the risk of sounding cliché, the best way to start monetizing is to let it grow organically out of what you are already doing. So, start blogging about what you enjoy. As you grow, you’ll figure out what ways of monetizing would most suit you. Go with the opportunities as they make sense. Don’t try to force them.
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This group is all about generating income directly from your blog, website or your other digital assests.

Display Ads

Display ads are graphics or images similar to billboards or ads in a magazine. Typically they are positioned on your site in the sidebar, header, footer or within your content. They are also known as banner ads.

They are meant to compliment your blog’s content, making them attractive and relevant to visitors. Advertisers hope that you will then click on those images to explore and purchase the products or services they offer.

Display ads are often provided through ad networks – companies that pair advertisers with publishers (bloggers). Ad networks act as a middle man, finding advertisers and publishers and negotiating partnership details between the two. The ad network takes a cut from the blogger’s profit.

Ad networks are attractive to many bloggers because they take the hassle out of display advertising. Some ad networks, like Google Adsense, are relatively easy to get into and are easy to set up. Other ad networks, though, are selective in who they accept.

Examples of ad networks are Google Adsense, BlogadsBlogHerBeacon Ads, Federated Media, Sovrn, (formerly Lijit),, Rivit, Sway. (WAHAdventures has a lot more listed as well.)

Related: Google Adsense is probably the most popular ad network and a good place for beginning bloggers to start if they want to pursue display ads. If you want more information about Google Adsense, check out my post Can You Really Make Money with Google Adsense?


  • If you want to get an idea of pricing and traffic for popular blogs, sites like Beacon Ads and Federated Media are places you can do that.
  • If you’re using CPC/PPC ads (cost per click/pay per click), check out Google’s recommendations for best ad placement on your site. It’s important that your content doesn’t get drowned out by ads. Google has indicated sites with too many ads above the fold may be penalized in search. If you’re not sure what is above the fold, use this tool.
  • As always, experiment. Experiment with ad placement to get the right combination on your site.

Further reading: Jason from ProBlogSchool explains ad networks in great detail in his post Ads 102: How to Make Money Using Ad Networks.

Private Ads

Private ads are similar to display ads in that they also come in the form of buttons or graphics and usually appear in the sidebars of blogs. They are unique in that there is no middle man (ad network) to negotiate the partnership. Partnerships are arranged directly between a blogger and an individual, small business or company.

Initial contact can be made by the blogger or by the advertiser. Be clear on what’s expected by both parties.

Not sure what to charge? Look around to see what others in your niche charge. You can often find this information on the advertising pages or in media kits.

Don’t just throw up an advertising page and expect advertisers to come calling. Go to them. Not sure how to do that? Find other blogs like yours that are your size or slightly larger. See who is advertising on their site. Contact those companies and ask if they’d like to advertise on your site too. Create a pitch and make it a win-win.

Check out iHeartOrganizing‘s advertising page as an example.


  • If you have ads in your sidebar, keep them full. Instead of displaying a blank box with “Advertise here” fill it with an affiliate graphic (like my Tell Your Time ebook) in there. Crystal Paine puts it well when she says, “This screams, ‘My advertising space isn’t valuable enough for people to want to buy so I instead have this big blank box!’”

Giveaways & Reviews

If you’ve read blogs for any length of time, you’ve surely seen a review or giveaway and maybe participated yourself. A company supplies a product to a blogger to be reviewed and/or given away to readers. A word about giveaways…

I list giveaways here because some bloggers charge to run giveaways in addition to the expected free product to keep for themselves.

There are varying opinions about whether or not one should be compensated for giveaways. As I see it, it largely depends on whether the product is for marketing purposes or for advertising purposes. Companies use marketing to spread the word about their product or service. With advertising, a company makes a deal with another party to help them spread the words. Companies expect to pay for advertising.

For example, a company may market their product by handing out free t-shirts. Because you like the t-shirt, you take it and wear it. You obviously wouldn’t charge the company when you wore their t-shirt.

But I think a giveaway on a blog would often fall in the category of advertising. Yes, the company you’re working with may give you a product to use (indeed, they should!). However, they are also asking you to provide a service to them. After all, you are spending your valuable time to field their emails, communicate with them, write a post (or posts), follow up with giveaway entrants, etc. If there is nothing else you’re getting from the partnership except for the free product, this service should be compensated in my opinion.

Resource: Amy from Mom Advice wrote a post about reviews a few years back that still offers good tips.


  • Products you receive for free need to be reported as income on your taxes so keep excellent records and make sure the products you are accepting for review are really ones you want to pay taxes on later.
  • Don’t be afraid to negotiate. This is your blog. No need to just take what you’re offered on the first round. Make it a win-win for both.
  • If you don’t want to do a review for a company, ask the company if they’d like to buy ad space instead. Mention that they’ll still get a spot in front of your readers.

Newsletter/Podcast Sponsorships

If you have an email newsletter or podcast, you can accept advertising just as you would on your blog. You can reach out to potential advertisers, tell them how they would benefit from advertising with you and pitch your idea.

If you want to learn more about monetizing podcasts, I highly recommend Podcast Launch: A complete guide to launching your Podcast with 15 Video Tutorials! by John Lee Dumas. Dumas is just a regular guy who consistently makes 6 figures per month from his podcast. Not only does he show you how to launch a podcast, but he covers making money from your podcast as well.

Sponsored Posts

Writing a sponsored post means you work with a company and write a post about their product or service. Be upfront and disclose your relationship to your readers. Keep sponsored posts to a minimum so you don’t turn off readers.

If you read blogs, you’ve probably seen sponsored posts. They can be spotted by the disclosure stating something like, “This post was sponsored by but all opinions are mine.”

Find examples of sponsored post details and rates on Life Your Way.

Underwritten Posts or Series

Underwritten posts differ from sponsored posts in that the post topic is about whatever you want it to be (as opposed to the company’s product/service), but an advertiser pays to get a “Brought to you by” type note in the post. Anticipate the posts you think will get a lot of response and pitch companies with an underwritten spot.

An example of an underwritten series is this Christmas Gift Guide at

Advertising pros

  • Many are easy to set up and maintain.
  • They can be used as a way to get readers used to ads on your site before you gain higher-earning advertisers. It eliminates “ad shock” down the road.
  • Advertising is indeed lucrative for many bloggers.

Advertising cons

  • Mobile access, popup ad blockers and streamlined browser readers often remove ads from websites, rendering them far less effective.
  • Good advertising revenue depends on very high traffic or a niche with high-paying keywords (hard to find these days).
  • Advertising rates have declined dramatically over the last few years.
  • Ads often make a site look spammy and cluttered.
  • Ads often make a user click away from your blog. For a few cents, is it worth it? You have to decide.
  • Many readers have developed ad blindness.
  • Many bloggers have been banned by Google’s Adsense program for no apparent reason. It’s unpredictable.
  • While it is possible to block certain URLs from showing up in your Adsense ads, sometimes bad ones sneak through. This can be detrimental to your brand and platform.

My advertising advice

  • Be patient. Wait for the right partnership that won’t make you compromise.
  • Make sure your advertisers are in line with your values.
  • Don’t do text links. They are often spammy and looked down upon by Google.
  • Unless you are an established blogger for whom advertising is already working, this is the income stream I would pursue last. The traffic requirement and low ad rates means your time will be better spent elsewhere.

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affiliate marketing

Affiliate marketing involves promoting someone else’s product or service and earning a commission when one of your readers clicks through your unique affiliate link and makes a purchase.

I wrote about affiliate marketing at length in What is Affiliate Marketing? and My Top Affiliate Marketing Tips.
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digital products


You can sell music or video that others can use as intros or outros. Audio Jungle or iStockPhoto (they sell audio too).

Apps, Plugins or Themes

If you have a knack for code-writing and can write your own themes or plugins, you can sell them at a place like Creative Market. Many plugin authors offer their plugins for free but ask for donations.


Do you have a domain collecting problem? Did you know you could sell them for profit?

Ecourses/Webinars/Online Workshops

You could do all sorts of things with this from small to gargantuan. Of course, you wouldn’t have to go big the first time around. Test the waters by holding a small, local event first. Grow bigger as you learn the ropes and figure out what works and what doesn’t. Just pick something you’re good at that other people want to know and teach it! Do it once or twice to refine your presentation and then start charging a small fee to those who want to take your class.


Many, many bloggers have written ebooks. I’ve made a healthy chunk selling my own ebook Tell Your Time the last few years. (Here’s why I turned down a traditional book deal in favor of self-publishing.)

I don’t think ebooks (generally) make the same kind of money they did a few years ago, but for some with very compelling topics and a decent group of supporters who help promote, it can be a good option.

One benefit of having an ebook is the ability to participate in ebook bundles which can generate quite a bit of income. Again, it’s about relationships and pooling your resources. See how Stephanie and Erin do it at Ultimate Bundles.

If you want to write your own ebook, check out my series How to Write an Ebook.

Premium Content & Membership Communities

Insider spaces, one-on-one interaction, VIP rooms. Premium content is just what it sounds like – content that others must pay for to access. This isn’t a new concept, but I do think it will become more and more common.

There is free information all over the internet so in order for this to work, you would have to offer something truly unique — some sort of “insider information,” special access to individuals whose expertise is highly sought after, products or services that go above and beyond the norm such or special treatment such as one-on-one interaction and coaching.

I’ve experimented with premium content when I created my Useletter Archives.

Another example of a premium content site is Food Blogger Pro. Bjork started this site after being asked by food bloggers how he and his wife Lindsay built their hugely popular food blog, Pinch of Yum.


Are you a photographer? Illustrator? Why not sell your photos on a site like iStockphoto? SomeGirl has an excellent series about how to become an iStockphoto seller. A significant portion of her family’s income comes from selling photos.

Selling Blogs & Websites

Many bloggers have sold their blogs or websites for 4-, 5-, 6- and even 7-figure sums. There is also something called flipping websites where you obtain a small blog or website, grow it and then sell it for profit later.

If you want to flip a site, check out Flippa. And if you want to read about those who have sold their blog, you can read this.
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physical products


For many bloggers, their blogs have helped them sell books, both self and traditionally published. I’ve heard over and over again that traditional publishers will not typically consider your manuscript if you don’t have a blog first. And if you’re a self-published author or hybrid author (that is, you have both self-published and traditionally-published books), a blog is a great way to sell books.

Conferences, Classes or Special Events

I consider hosting an event like a conference a “physical” product since it involves an exchange of something tangible (in this case money for a ticket to an experience). You can also do bigger events like day-long seminars or workshops or even multi-day conferences.

Do not underestimate the work that would go into pulling off one of these events successfully. It’s a huge undertaking, but if you have a background in event planning or are extremely motivated, organized and are good at networking and making connections with companies (sponsors) etc., this might be for you.

In your niche or area of interest, it’s likely there are large, established conferences already. So, try narrowing down your conference topic in order to target a more specific group. if you’re going to put on a large-scale event, be very clear and very specific in your goals and make sure there’s a strong desire for the information you can provide. And then do it with excellence.

The way you would make money, of course, is to charge a fee to attend and/or partner with sponsors to cover your costs (and your salary).

Handmade Products

Are you crafty? Consider selling on Etsy. You can set up your own shop for free and it’s simple to get started. It’s not so simple to stand out from the crowd, so that’s likely to be your biggest challenge. Here are some tips on how to market your shop.

Manufactured Products

Sell manufactured products. Use your site/blog/newsletter to promote it.

If you create the product yourself, that’s great, but if you don’t know how to create your own product, you can sell someone else’s in your own shop.

If you have an idea for a product you’d like to sell but aren’t sure where to start, this couple tells you how they started selling wedding linens online. Their Online Store Tutorials are particularly helpful.
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You might think of this like freelancing. If you have a skill (who doesn’t?), why not offer your services via the internet (a.k.a. virtually)? It does not have to be computer-related. Think of ways you can use your already-gained skills in your favor and put them online.

  • Administrative Assistant
  • App Developer
  • Audio/Video Editor
  • Coach
  • Concierge/Personal Assistant
  • Consultant
  • Cook – This isn’t completely virtual as you would have to deliver food, but you could still use the internet to get exposure. Here’s an example.
  • Counselor
  • Designer – Check out Minted’s Design Challenge for a place to start.
  • Digital Freelancer – Pick a task you can do quickly that others “will get around to someday.” For example, digitizing their boxes of photos.
  • Photo Editor
  • Project Manager
  • Social Media Manager
  • Software Writer
  • Speaker
  • Trainer
  • Transcriptionist
  • Tutor
  • Visioneer – Have people send you pictures of their room/house/yard and offer suggestions for improvement. Post before & after photos on your blog.
  • Web Builder – If you’ve set up your own site, contact local brick & mortar businesses and see if you can set up theirs. Barter services to get your feet wet, gain experience and build a portfolio.
  • Web Developer
  • Writer - The advantage of writing for other sites is that you get to be a part of something that’s already established. Also, you don’t have to worry about the technical aspects of running and maintaining your own site. Keep your ears peeled for contributor opportunities. You could start by guest posting.

I wrote a post called How to Become a Virtual Assistant with tips for anyone wanting to offer their services online.

Resource: The Bootstrap VA: The Go-Getter’s Guide to Becoming a Virtual Assistant, Getting and Keeping Clients, and More, an ebook by Lisa Morosky. Make it your first business investment. This ebook blew my mind; it’s loaded with tips, resources and step-by-step instruction.

Pros to offering a service:

  • Low startup cost. Little to no inventory required.
  • Cons to offering a service:
  • Not scaleable. You only have so much time in your day so you can provide a finite amount of service.

Tips for service providers:

  • Create a simple brochure-type site with just a few pages: Home, About, Contact, Resume, Services & Pricing, Before and After Photos (if applicable) and Testimonials once you get some.
  • Participate in forums, comments and other social media platforms and answer questions. Build a reputation as an authority and expert.

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where to begin

Feeling overwhelmed yet? You’re not alone. It is overwhelming.

You should know there are no magic bullets. What works for one person won’t necessarily work for another and vice versa. There are no guaranteed, across-the-board results either. Your mileage may vary. Take the time to think through what might work for you.

What’s your personality?

Are you an introvert? Extrovert? Are you organized and like to work ahead? Are you spontaneous and fly by the seat of your pants? All these questions will help you determine the best fit for you.

For example, I started a forum many years ago, but as an introvert, I quickly realized managing and moderating all that conversation was too stressful. So, I handed it over to someone who loved the social aspect of it.

Also, I like to tackle a project and move on. I don’t like open-ended projects that are ongoing. That’s why I prefer writing and selling an ebook rather than running a membership site.

Take your personality and temperament into account and decide what will work for you.

What’s your season of life?

When I started blogging I was a mom with newborns and toddlers. There was just no way I had the time or energy to devote to an online business. But now my kids are older and it works differently.

It’s true my children are now out of the newborn and toddler stage but we have moved into the spend-your-life-in-the-car stage, chauffeuring people to activities all the live long day. Not to mention the hungry-every-5-minutes stage where they eat as fast as I cook. If it weren’t for my husband’s flexible schedule, I’d have to seriously rethink things.

Think realistically about what’s going on in your life. How much time do you really have to devote to blogging?

What are others in your niche doing?

If you’re still stumped, one of the best ways to figure out what might work for you is to look at well-established bloggers in your niche and take note of the monetization methods they use. If those methods will work with your personality and season of life, start there.
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tips header

Start small

Keep your day job and build your blog on the side, particularly if you have a family to support. Once you gain traction and can confidently replace your income, launch out on your own.

Find a hole and fill it

You’ll significantly increase your chances of success if you meet a need for others instead of blogging as an outlet for yourself.

Change with the times

Blogging for money today is quite different than it was even 2 years ago. You must stay ahead of the curve. It means you’ll constantly need to be experimenting and branching out. Read a lot. Or, if you’d prefer not to do all that reading, subscribe to my useletter and I’ll keep you posted on the latest.

Experiment and take risks

I don’t  think there is a business on earth that has as little risk or overhead as blogging (if you bootstrap it). For that reason, be bold. You’ve got very, very little to lose and so much to potentially gain.

And when you’re first starting out, risk more. You won’t have as many followers so you can work out the kinks early without the whole world watching.

Be observant

There is something to be said about putting your head down and getting to work. However, if you don’t occasionally glance up to see how you might need to adjust and grow, you’ll get left behind.


I already mentioned the importance of finding new income streams, but the other piece of that is to keep them diverse. The internet changes constantly. That way, if one stream dries up (happens all the time in online business), you’ve still got the others.

Don’t just make an income, make a living

Consider passion, productivity and profit. Find the intersection of all three.

  • If you are passionate about something and you can produce stuff but you aren’t making money, you have a hobby.
  • If you produce stuff and you make money but you lack passion, you have a job.
  • If you are passionate and are making money but you feel like it’s taking over your life to the detriment of your other responsibilities, you have an obsession.

Hobbies, jobs and even obsessions might not be totally bad, but try to adjust so you are passionate, productive and profitable. To me, that’s making a living.

Establish a blogging routine

Carve out regular time each day to focus on a few simple tasks (mostly creating great content). Learn to tune out the noise and do your thing.

Be you

There’s nothing new under the sun, that’s true. Everything online is just a repackaging of what already was there. However, there is no one that can repackage something in the way you can. Tap into your uniqueness.

Be memorable

Before you start a blog in a huge niche with a lot of blogs, be sure you have a concrete plan for standing out. A large niche is a good sign because it means there are a lot of readers in that niche, but for those starting out, it’ll be very difficult to compete with the blogs that have already established themselves. How will you make others take a second look?

Don’t forget about taxes

I realize I can’t speak for everyone in the world, but here in the U.S., income you make blogging should be reported on your taxes. My advice here is to keep good records from the beginning. An ebook I found personally helpful was Your Blogging Business: Tax Talk & Tips from a Bookkeeper Turned Blogger.

Work hard

If you want to make money blogging, especially a full-time income, you’ll never work harder in your life. But you’ll probably never have so much fun either. Go for it!
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There are a number of misconceptions about blogging for money I’ve touched on throughout this guide, but just in case you skipped down here first, I’ll restate them. Better to be aware of them upfront so you have a realistic picture of the journey.

Blogging is a good way to make money fast

A lot of people think blogging has quick monetary returns. For most of us, it absolutely does not. Most of the people I know who are making a great part-time income have been at it for at least a year. Anyone who is making a full-time income has been at it for years. If anyone tells you differently, be very skeptical.

Once it’s live on the internet, people will find your blog

There are millions and millions of blogs online. Unless you win the internet lottery, there’s no way people will find you unless you tell them. Thus the importance of actively building relationships (see above).

Making money online isn’t legitimate

This is just simply untrue. There are sketchy people in any industry, but not only is online entrepreneurialism legitimate, it’s fast becoming a preferred way to do business because there’s low overhead and low risk.

Blogging for money doesn’t work

It’s true, a lot of bloggers don’t make money even after working toward that end. However, the reason is not because it doesn’t work. From what I’ve observed, it usually results from lack of motivation, lack of creativity or originality, lack of patience or lack of hustle. It’s a hard gig!

Blogging is for business types

This is what I thought when I first started blogging in 2004. I thought it was for men who could devote themselves full time to their blogging endeavor. But then I met a lot of moms and regular people like me who were making impressive incomes.
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next steps

So, what does this mean for you?

First, I have to ask, do you have a blog?

If not, start by setting up your own site. There is no need to be intimidated by the process. I have written another guide called How to Blog.

how to blog

Next go back up the 4-legged section above and start creating excellent content and building relationships on social media. Figure out where your perfect reader hangs out online and go there. Start to follow people you find interesting. Comment on posts, pins, updates or tweets. Demonstrate genuine interest in what they’re doing. Just make friends.

I would also suggest you sign up for my useletter. In it, I try to keep you updated on what’s going on in the blogging world and cool things bloggers might find useful. You can sign up here. It’s free of course and emails arrive usually on Saturday mornings.

If you want to see what others have done, check out my popular post How Much Do Real Bloggers Make?
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like it share it

Do you think this guide would be useful to others?

I always appreciate a comprehensive guide where I can get the information I need without a lot of fluff. If you agree, I would greatly appreciate it if you would share this post with others so they can be helped too. Thank you!
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The post How to Make Money Blogging – 2014 Edition appeared first on Amy Lynn Andrews.

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The Best Business Books Fri, 30 May 2014 21:45:08 +0000 I got a text from my sister yesterday. She asked if I’ve read any good books lately. That’s like asking, “Are Doritos the loveliest of the loveliest chips on earth?” The answer is…hello, YES! (Times infinity.) I am frequently heard saying this: So many books, so little time. It is the story of my life. […]

The post The Best Business Books appeared first on Amy Lynn Andrews.

I got a text from my sister yesterday. She asked if I’ve read any good books lately. That’s like asking, “Are Doritos the loveliest of the loveliest chips on earth?”

The answer is…hello, YES! (Times infinity.)

best business books

I am frequently heard saying this: So many books, so little time. It is the story of my life. Thank goodness for the library.

The library is one of my top 2, non-home favorite places on earth. (That was a mouthful.) The airport is the other. Oh the people watching.

Anyway, in response to my sister’s question, I naturally consulted my Kindle library as well as the “Previously Checked Out” list on our library’s website to see what I’ve read recently.

There were a lot of business books on my list. I read a ton of business books. I don’t really implement them, but hey, I know a whole lot. But that’s another post. I’m getting sidetracked.

EOFire’s best business book list

On his wildly popular podcast Entrepreneur on Fire*, John Lee Dumas interviews a successful entrepreneur every day. He asks each of his guests what their favorite business book is.

These are the best business books according to his guests. It’s a fun infographic, but after looking at it, I highly recommend you check out the lists in a more user-friendly format here (books #1-20) and here (books #21-43).

best business books

Courtesy of: EOFire

Again, here are books #1-20 and books #21-43. Look at the reviews. I especially like 2- and 3-star reviews. So helpful.

Like no time in history

I have not read all of the books on this list, but I have read several. The thing I love about this list is that it’s a good mix – classics along with a good dose of titles relevant to us in the internet age.

We are living in an unprecedented time, there is no doubt about that.

Put simply, when it comes to business, the internet has lowered the barrier to entry, leveled the playing field, made entrepreneurialism easily accessible to just about anyone and has almost completely reduced the need for overhead and risk.

That is huge.

If someone with zero computer background or business experience can grow her own business and make significantly more income than she’s ever made in her life (that’s me), anyone can.

You just have to think differently. These are the books that helped me do just that.

My top picks

rework1. Rework by David Heinemeier Hansson. This is my favorite book about business in the internet age. It gave words to what I was observing and dabbling in already and I think it does a great job of explaining the paradigm shift needed in order to be successful.

the 4-hour workweek2. The 4-Hour Workweek: Escape 9-5, Live Anywhere, and Join the New Rich by Tim Ferriss. This is another book that made things make a whole lotta sense. I am so unlike Tim Ferriss in so many ways, but I really appreciate his completely out-of-the-box thinking. This book was mind-blowing for me.

100 dollar startup3. The $100 Startup by Chris Guillebeau. This book put practical wheels on my “business plan” although I hesitate to use that word because it sounds so MBA-ish and I am so not MBA-ish. (I started out as a business major in college and lasted all of one semester. Barely. It was way over my head. Those people are smart.) I’m FBSMP-ish and WI-ish. That stands for Fly By the Seat of My Pants and Wing It.

Other books I’ve read on the list

Here are the other books on the list that I have read. Some have strong language and some have content I don’t agree with but I made notes where appropriate.

Plus I added another great book that didn’t make the list above. Enjoy!

Today’s Tweetable

So many books, so little time. <--Click to tweet!

*There are affiliate links in this post.

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A Cheaper Way to Start a Blog Fri, 09 May 2014 03:17:54 +0000 Heads-up! 4-day Sale! HostGator is having a FANTASTIC 4-day sale (July 24-27, 2014). You’ll get up to 75% off new hosting packages. Use code SUMMER14. Check it out now and click “View Web Hosting Plans” or follow the step-by-step instructions below. But hurry! One of the most popular posts on this site is How to […]

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Heads-up! 4-day Sale!

hostgator summer getawayHostGator is having a FANTASTIC 4-day sale (July 24-27, 2014). You’ll get up to 75% off new hosting packages. Use code SUMMER14. Check it out now and click “View Web Hosting Plans” or follow the step-by-step instructions below. But hurry!

One of the most popular posts on this site is How to Start a Blog. In it, I explain how to use Bluehost* to get your self-hosted WordPress site going.

But what if Bluehost’s upfront cost is not in your budget?

Bluehost makes you pay a full year’s worth of hosting upfront, which amounts to about $100. Some of my readers have said this is just a little bit too much to come up with initially.

And I want to say, I. totally. get. that. Been there, got the t-shirt!

cheap blog

I’m all about alternatives so here’s my alternative: HostGator. With HostGator, your inital outlay will be about a third (or less).

HostGator is a company I use as well (yes, I’ve paid for hosting from two different companies for years) and they have the option of paying for hosting month to month.

The monthly amount works out to be a bit higher than Bluehost (and you don’t get a free domain as with Bluehost), but it’s great for anyone who wants to be able to pay a little at a time. Yay for options!!

Rest assured, you will end up with the very same site in the end. (It’s sorta like buying Doritos® from Target or buying them at Walmart. I mean, there might be a few differences in the store experience, but what matters most is that you end up with those lovely chips in your hands. And by the way, is there a better chip? Oh my stars I must confess my love for Doritos®.)

Alright, here’s how to get started…

Step 1: Go to

hostgator main page

Click the View Web Hosting Plans button to start.

Step 2: Choose a hosting package

There are three options here. Choose a plan from Hatchling, Baby or Business. Which to choose?

4-day Sale Tip:

If you’re taking advantage of the 4-day sale, I would choose the 6-month plan. It works out to be about $2.50 a month, so about $15 out of pocket today. And then you’re covered for 6 months. (Note the price will probably be back to regular price at the 6-month mark. So, if you want to purchase a longer term, you can do so…and still get 45% off.)

I typically choose the Baby Plan simply because that way I can host unlimited domains on one account. This comes in handy when I add projects down the road and need a separate domain for my new project (common plight among bloggers). However, if you only have one site in mind, the Hatchling Plan will suffice. You can upgrade to a Baby Plan or Business Plan at any time.

hostgator packages

Use the dropdown menu under the plan of your choice to choose how often you want to pay.

Obviously, the longer period of time you choose results in a lower monthly price. But, you must be prepared to pay the full amount at once. So for example, if you choose to pay for 1 year, you’ll pay just under $100 right away. If you choose to pay monthly, the monthly fee is higher, but you only have to pay about $8 at a time (plus the cost of a domain and domain privacy if applicable).

Note: If you use the coupon code HEYAMYLYNN during checkout, you’ll get 30% off your first payment. (So, if you choose to pay monthly, the discount applies to your first month only – 30% off of $8. If you choose to pay 1 year in advance, you’ll get 30% off $100.)

Once you’ve chosen the plan of your choice from the dropdown menu, click the Order Now button.

Step 3: Choose a domain name

Domain tip:

If you want, you can register your domain elsewhere. I use to register my domains. In July use coupon code DOJU to get a discount, making most domains about $10 for a year.

If you are just starting out and do not have a domain name, select the “Register a new domain” option and type in the domain you’d like to use. You do not have to type your desired extension (.com, .net, etc.) into the field. Simply choose it from the dropdown menu to the right. I always recommend a .com extension.

Already have a domain name? If so, select the “I already own this domain” option and type in your full domain (with extension) into the field.

Note: If you are using your existing domain elsewhere, this will not interfere with your other site. This is simply a way to identify your account. Once this new site at HostGator is set up and ready to go, you can then “point” your existing domain from your old site to this new one. So, you don’t have to worry that typing in your domain here will mess anything up that you’ve got going elsewhere. :)

What if your chosen domain is not available?

unavailable domain

It’s very possible the domain you are hoping to register is not available in which case you’ll need to choose something different. I know this can be discouraging, but just press through! Here are more tips about choosing a domain name.

Step 4: Decide if you want to buy your domain with other extensions

Once you choose an available domain, you’ll get the green light and it will be added to your cart. Note that your domain will cost you about $13-$15 for a year. You will only pay this fee once a year, not every month.

hostgator domain available

HostGator will also ask you if you’d like to register other domains similar to the one you’ve chosen, but with different extensions. You can opt to purchase these for an additional fee. Because I’m not a huge brand, I typically do not do this. However, it’s up to you.

Step 5: Enter your account info

Next you will need to confirm your hosting package and billing cycle. (Don’t worry, I know this image says I’ll get 20% off but I’ll enter a coupon code later which will override this and give me the greater discount. At this point, just confirm how often you want to pay.)

hostgator account info

Also, you need to choose a username and Security Pin for logging into your HostGator account.

Next, enter your billing information and whether you’d like to pay with a credit card or via PayPal.

Step 6: Choose addons

In the Hosting Addons section, I highly recommend opting for the Domain Privacy Protection, but the rest of the services are not necessary so I uncheck those boxes.

domain privacy

Note: if you are not registering a new domain but using an existing domain, the Domain Privacy Protection option will not be available to you here (although I highly recommend you opt for it wherever your domain is registered).

The Domain Privacy Protection is essential because it hides your personal contact information on the web. Without it, anyone could simply type in your domain address into the Whois database and up will pop your name, address and contact info. Yikes!

This protection is $9.95 per year and well worth it. Like the cost of the domain, you will only pay this once annually, not every month.

Step 7: Enter the coupon code

Next, enter the coupon code HEYAMYLYNN to get 30% off your first payment! (It’s a special coupon just for my readers, but feel free to pass it on to your friends too. That is totally acceptable.) Click the Validate button to register your discount.

hostgator coupon code

Step 8: Check your total

Here’s the breakdown…

hostgator order review

You’ll notice you have support 24/7/365 included (one of the main reasons I recommend a self-hosted WordPress site). Don’t be afraid to call HostGator with your questions either! They are very helpful.

Also, you can get a refund within 45 days if you decide this isn’t for you. Phew!

After that, you’ll see that you are paying for three things (again, this total is only to start, not every month going forward):

  1. Hosting plan & billing cycle (with the 30% discount applied).
  2. Hosting addons. In this case it’s the Domain Privacy Protection for $9.95. An annual fee. (See Step #6.)
  3. Domain registration. In this case, the discount comes from a special they happen to be running at the time I’m writing. It doesn’t have to do with my coupon code. Your numbers may vary slightly. This is an annual fee.

So the first month startup fee totals about $30. (A lot easier to swallow than $100!)

Next month and going forward, you will only pay the hosting fee of $9.95 (remember the $6.97 total here includes my initial discount via the coupon code applicable to my first payment only. Starting with my next payment, the discount does not apply.)

Once you’re satisfied with the total, make sure you read the terms and conditions by clicking on the link and then check the box.

Click the Create Account button to complete your payment via credit card or PayPal. (If you paid via PayPal, simply click the link that allows you to go back to

After your payment is made, you will receive an email with your HostGator account info.

Step 9: Login to your cPanel

In the HostGator welcome email you receive in the previous step, you’ll see a link to your control panel (a.k.a. cpanel). The link will look something link this:

Your Control Panel:

Click on that link in the email to get to your cPanel login screen.

hostgator cpanel login screen

Grab your cPanel username and password from the email and plug them in. Click the Log in button.

Step 10: Open WordPress

When you login to your cpanel, especially for the first time, you’ll probably get some popup boxes trying to get you to register more domains or asking if you need help getting started. Just go ahead and close those windows until you see your cpanel as pictured here.

wordpress icon

Click the WordPress icon (“Get Started with WordPress Today”).

Step 11: Use QuickInstall to install WordPress

On the next page, you’ll see this:

install wordpress hostgator

Once you are on the QuickInstall page, click the Continue button to initiate the WordPress installation.

hostgator quickinstall

You’ll be asked where you’d like to install WordPress. Unless you have a good reason (which is unlikely), you’ll want to install WordPress in your root directory. Basically, this just means WordPress will show up when someone types your domain into a browswer. To ensure this, simply leave the field next to your domain blank.

Then the rest of the form:

  1. Choose whether or not you want to Enable Auto Upgrades. I typically do not do this because I like to do things manually, but if you’d rather not think about it, go ahead and leave it checked.
  2. Next you can enter your Admin Email. Make sure this is a working email address as your WordPress information will be sent here.
  3. Enter your blog title.
  4. Choose an Admin User. Do not leave this field blank and do not use “Admin” here. This is because “Admin” is the default and hackers often use this to break into accounts. Your name is a good option.
  5. Enter your first and last name.

Click the Install Now! button.

After a few seconds, you should see the installation was successful.

hostgator wordpress install success

Note your WordPress username and password (which I blurred out here). This is what you’ll use to login to WordPress. This is different than your login information for HostGator.

Whenever you want to publish a new post or work on your site, you will generally login to WordPress.

Step 12: Congratulations, you’re up and running!

You can now see your brand new website by either (a) going typing your domain in your browser or (b) clicking on “Your installation is ready. You can access it now by going [here].” Granted, it might not be pretty (yet), but it’s live!

Next steps…

Follow the rest of the posts in this series for next steps…

*There are affiliate links in this post.

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How To Monetize Your Food (or Any) Blog Thu, 24 Apr 2014 19:35:11 +0000 So, I just bought and read an ebook called How to Monetize Your Food Blog* by Kiersten Frase (hat tip: Bjork from Food Blogger Pro). She’s the blogger behind Oh My Veggies. But Amy, you’re not a food blogger, so…huh? I know. But there are a couple of reasons. First, I’m curious about monetization pretty much across […]

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So, I just bought and read an ebook called How to Monetize Your Food Blog* by Kiersten Frase (hat tip: Bjork from Food Blogger Pro). She’s the blogger behind Oh My Veggies.

But Amy, you’re not a food blogger, so…huh?

I know. But there are a couple of reasons.

how to monetize your food blog

First, I’m curious about monetization pretty much across the board. I love to see what others are doing and how they’re doing it.

Second, I know many of you are food bloggers and I wanted to check it out for ya.

(By the way, I really did pay my own $15 for it; it wasn’t given to me. I definitely can recommend it for many of you so I have signed up as an affiliate.)

My thoughts: The short version

How to Monetize Your Food Blog is a solid ebook with lots of great info. For bloggers who get decent traffic or who want to delve into advertising especially, I’d say it will definitely pay for itself.

It provides a great overview of how to monetize a blog, mostly via advertising, but also via other methods like working with brands, selling products and freelancing.

At the same time, I don’t think it would interest every blogger (more on that below).

My thoughts: The long version

I get asked a lot about monetization. Putting ads on your site is one of the most popular ways to make money blogging and people want to know how to do it.

But you may have noticed, I don’t have ads on my blog. I’ve dabbled in it in the past, but the fact remains, I don’t have a lot of personal experience with ads.

Kiersten, on the other hand, does. She covers a lot in this 64-page ebook. She briefly shares how she started as a hobby blogger (with the grand hope of maybe scoring a few free samples along the way, lol) and became a full-time blogger bringing in thousands of dollars each month.

The cool thing is, even though she talks a lot about food blogs, there’s a whole lot of information that can be applied to any blog.

monetize food blog

Her main topic

Her bread & butter (ha, punny) comes from ads on her site. Most of How to Monetize Your Food Blog is about ad networks, advertising and how to set up ads using a waterfall to get the most out of your ad spots. Not only does she explain what a waterfall is, she also walks through how to set one up. I really benefitted by her explanation.

But she also talks about other ways to monetize:

  • Affiliate programs – What they are and how they work.
  • Sponsored posts – How they work and how much she charges.
  • Working with brands – Expectations and what to look for.
  • Selling products – Examples of what you could sell and a very brief overview of how to set up an ebook.
  • Freelance work – How to use your recipe development skills or photography skills to make extra income.
  • Tracking income – What she uses to track her income and tips to remember along the way.
  • Guide to ad networks – This is part of the ebook that might appeal most to food or food-related blogs, but it’s a list of a dozen or so different ad networks, how she works them into her waterfall, what she likes and doesn’t like about them and some tips for working with each.
  • More - Then there are some other additional things like an ad terminology glossary and an example of her media kit.

Things I especially liked

She offers real numbers. For example, Kiersten tells you exactly how much she charges for sponsored posts and why. Granted, it’s only one person’s numbers, but numbers nonetheless. She sprinkles some other numbers in there too (check out her media kit at the end for more).

She gets to the point. Ebooks are great because there’s no page quota one has to meet (as is often the case with a traditionally published book). She gives you the info you need and moves on. No fluff. I like that.

Things you need to consider before buying the ebook

Kiersten covers adverstising quite extensively. Her coverage of the other types of monetization is not as thorough, but still good, with lots of solid tips.

I applaud her on covering monetization as well as she has. It’s a tricky topic because there are SO.MANY. variables from one blog to another.

Many of you are new to the blogging scene and should be aware that reproducing her results is definitely not guaranteed. She has the benefit of a few years under her belt and she started when there were fewer competing blogs for the same traffic.

The main thing to remember (which she explains explicitly) is that making really good income (read: full-time income) from advertising, in general, requires lots of traffic. Like hundreds of thousands of pageviews a month most likely.

That’s not to say the ebook isn’t worth it. After all, we all start with zero pageviews a month. But just know that if you’re going to use the advertising model of monetization and you don’t have tons of traffic yet, you will have to spend some time building your traffic first.

Kiersten outlines steps for many of her topics, but if you’re looking for in-depth instruction or tutorials about every topic, you might have some additional googling to do. Then again, there’s never really a one-size-fits-all solution for all bloggers so we’d all have some googling to do I suppose.

Final thoughts

If you want to move your blog to the next level and really step up your monetization, or, if you are simply curious about how it all works, I think $15 is worth it. It’s about the price of a new book as if you’re like me and measure the value of a book by the takeaways, I think you’ll definitely come out ahead on this one. You can get more info or buy it here.

monetize blog

*There are affiliate links in this post.

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