Amy Lynn Andrews http://amylynnandrews.com I teach people how to blog. Sun, 24 May 2015 02:11:11 +0000 en-US hourly 1 http://wordpress.org/?v=4.2.2 How I Coach Myself Through the Unexpected http://amylynnandrews.com/the-unexpected/ http://amylynnandrews.com/the-unexpected/#comments Wed, 06 May 2015 10:26:58 +0000 http://amylynnandrews.com/?p=15428 My traffic has plummeted in the last month. When I say “plummeted” I mean it has dropped almost 40%. And as of this morning, it’s still going down. That’s significant. Traffic always fluctuates but I don’t remember a time when it’s dropped like this. The bulk of our income comes from this blog and related projects. Our […]

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My traffic has plummeted in the last month. When I say “plummeted” I mean it has dropped almost 40%. And as of this morning, it’s still going down. That’s significant. Traffic always fluctuates but I don’t remember a time when it’s dropped like this.

How I coach myself through the unexpected.

The bulk of our income comes from this blog and related projects. Our income is not tied only to traffic, but it’s tied nonetheless. Traffic’s down, income’s down. It has caused concern.

There’s a fine line between concern and panic. My usual self leans heavily in the direction of panic.

Update: If you’re interested in more of my thoughts about the reasons why this happened click here and I’ll shoot you an email.

So what am I doing?

I’m investigating the usual things, like analytics, the mechanics of my site, SEO, search and anything else I can think of. I need to act and make smart decisions. I will tweak things and make changes. But a lot of the battle is in my mind.

The fact is, ultimate control is an illusion.

Mostly I’m telling myself what I tell my kids.

I don’t know about your kids, but mine generally freak out when something unexpected happens or things don’t go according to plan – a dish breaks, someone sees a little blood, a favorite toy gets lost or an anticipated event is cancelled. Oftentimes, various levels of weeping and wailing ensue.

I get that. As a parent, it’s a hiccup. As a kid, it feels huge.

Here are three things I tell them. Today I’m telling myself the same three things.

1. I might be out of control, but God never is

God is never shocked. He’s never taken off guard or thrown for a loop. He never says, “Oh shoot, I didn’t see that coming! Now what?” He never has to go back to the drawing board.

2. Most things in life are fixable

It’s not true of all things of course, but the majority of things can be repaired, replaced, revamped or redone. All things can be redeemed.

3. Panic often leads to frantic

When I feel out of control or don’t know what to do next, it’s overwhelming. When I’m overwhelmed, it’s easy to panic. When I panic, it’s easy to be frantic. When I’m frantic, I often do things that are rash, reactionary and sometimes completely unhelpful. Take a step back.

In 3 words

Given how much I say it, this phrase might be incorporated into my epitaph: “Use your brain.”

My kids have all gotten the small speech explaining that sometimes things happen in life that aren’t what we anticipate or expect. It’s perfectly fine to have an emotional response, but don’t let your emotion overwhelm your good judgement.

Encouraging them to “use their brain” means, “I hear you. You’re scared and that makes sense. God won’t let go, so cling. Take a step back. Now look for a way out.”

Use your brain, Aim. Use your brain.

P.S. If you’re interested in more of my thoughts about the reasons why this happened, I’d be happy to email you my thoughts about that. Click here.

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Most things in life can be repaired, replaced, revamped or redone. All things can be redeemed.

God never has to go back to the drawing board.

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Elite Blog Academy: My Review http://amylynnandrews.com/elite-blog-academy-review/ http://amylynnandrews.com/elite-blog-academy-review/#comments Wed, 15 Apr 2015 22:04:48 +0000 http://amylynnandrews.com/?p=14448 Updated April 27, 2015 Please note this course is now closed and won’t open again until 2016. However, feel free to read about it below. Wondering if Elite Blog Academy is for you? This is my honest review after purchasing it at the end of 2014. Like all online products, I think it’s right for some, but […]

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Updated April 27, 2015

Please note this course is now closed and won’t open again until 2016. However, feel free to read about it below.

Wondering if Elite Blog Academy is for you? This is my honest review after purchasing it at the end of 2014. Like all online products, I think it’s right for some, but not all. I hope this post will help you decide if it’s right for you. The links in this post are my referral links.

elite blog academy review

What is Elite Blog Academy (EBA)?

Elite Blog Academy is an online course intended to help bloggers “take their blogs to the next level.” The focus is on making income, although the first part of the course covers the basics of laying a good blogging foundation. If you don’t yet have your blog started, you will certainly want to do that first, since the course assumes you already have. (You can follow my simple steps to do that here.)

Click here to watch the welcome video

First, total transparency:

  • I purchased the course in November 2014. I did not get it for free. My goal is to write an objective review from the standpoint of a paying customer.
  • I have watched every unit video included in the course, start to finish. I also downloaded and read the course outline, the handouts, each of the unit outlines, the bonus materials and watched the live Q&A videos. I have not personally implemented everything suggested.
  • While I don’t know Ruth extremely well, I have met her in person and found her to be delightful. I have no reason to believe she’s anything but totally legit.

Here’s what you get

  1. 12 Course Units – The course is split into 12 units (plus a course intro). Each unit consists of a video (averaging about 10 minutes), fill-in-the-blank worksheets to go along with the video, 1-2 handouts with extra info not necessarily covered explicitly in the video and 2-4 guided action step assignments.
  2. Live Q&A Videos – These are live hour-long-ish videos where Ruth answers members’ questions. There are 4.
  3. Private Forum – This is where members can interact with one another, and Ruth as well.
  4. Bonus Materials – About half of the units have bonus materials, most of which are downloadable PDFs. They provide related content that goes a bit more in depth. One of the most popular bonus materials is Ruth’s personal Pinterest strategy spreadsheet.

Is the material worth the cost?

The short answer is, it depends. Some have said it has more than paid for itself (read some comments below). Others I’ve spoken to are not sure.

I think it really depends on where you’re at in blogging, how much time you have to devote to the course and what you hope to gain from it. (Read the section below “Consider EBA if:” for more.)

There is a 100% money-back guarantee.

elite blog academy logo

The real value

As is typical with ecourses like these, much of the basic material can be found for free online. However, the real value is in:

  • The organized, straightforward way the information is packaged. It saves you a lot of time searching and learning on your own.
  • The expertise of the creator. Ruth is clearly very knowledgeable and successful.
  • The built-in mastermind group (i.e. the private forum). Being able to build relationships with other like-minded bloggers is extremely beneficial, both as you learn and as you move forward.
  • The live Q&A videos. They give you the opportunity to get your specific questions answered directly.

The pros

  • Overall, Ruth presents very solid information about blogging. For new bloggers or bloggers who are lacking in direction or fundamentals, it will give you a significant jumpstart.
  • Ruth’s Pinterest strategy and spreadsheet are one of the highlights of the course. If Pinterest is something you want to master, I have not seen information as good and thorough as hers.
  • It’s an excellent blogging conference alternative. For many, attending a blogging conference is a turning point in a blogging career. It was for me. However, when you consider buying a conference ticket, travel, hotel, etc., the more popular conferences can easily cost between $500 and $1000+ to attend. That’s prohibitive for many. Being part of Elite Blog Academy is not exactly the same as the face-to-face contact you’d get at a conference, but it’s a close second.
  • The biggest benefit of the course is definitely the relationship-building potential. Relationships are key in blogging and, if treated correctly, will serve you well for years to come. The EBA forum and the live Q&As give you a chance to ask questions, get ideas, share ideas, ask for advice, get & provide support and encouragement, promote each other and interact with other bloggers who “get” you.
  • It’s well done. The signup process is relatively glitch-free and easy to walk through. The videos are professional. The material is organized.
  • It’s a product born out of experience, not just theory. Ruth is an established, successful blogger with a proven record of getting things done. According to the advertising page on her main blog (Living Well Spending Less), in January 2014, she got 3 million+ pageviews and 1 million+ unique visitors. I don’t know what her updated stats are, but obviously she’s teaching what has worked for her.

The cons

  • I had a few very minor disagreements with some of the material presented in the course. I disagreed more with some of the information shared in the forums and chimed in when I had the time. This is a common problem in forums in general. My advice is to always do your own research and not rely on other members’ opinions, especially when it concerns legal matters (i.e. FTC guidelines, disclosure, Anti-Spam Laws, etc.).
  • Ruth is not technical. This is by her own admission and certainly not anything for which I would write off the course. EBA is more about strategy, not so much about the technical aspects of starting and running a blog. If you’re hoping for a lot of technical help, this course might not be the place to start.
  • Some outdated info. Blogging and social media change so fast, it’s hard to keep everything up to date. Ruth and her team seem to be taking steps to update info as needed. This is easy to do for things like PDFs, but a bit more complicated to do in videos.

Consider EBA if:

  • You’d like to attend a blogging conference but haven’t been able to do so or find it cost prohibitive.
  • You’ve been blogging a while and are looking at bloggers around you taking off, wondering how they’re doing it.
  • You have a get-it-done personality. There is no question, in order to make this course work, you must implement the strategies Ruth shares or it will be a huge waste of time and money.
  • You have the time and tenacity to follow through. Many of the assignments require you to dig deep. It will take time and energy. You will have to work hard on it, regularly.
  • You are a relationship person who really wants to get to know other bloggers.
  • You’re a hands-on, fill-in-the-blanks type of person who likes to put pen to paper to process and get things done.
  • You like to learn from a person (video), rather than reading.
  • While I think many bloggers could pick up useful tidbits, I would definitely say those best served by Elite Blog Academy are bloggers in niches like DIY, frugal living, home decor, cooking, simple living, crafting, parenting, fashion, etc. Ruth is teaching mainly from her personal experience (understandably so). For her own blog, she’s seen success by pursuing high traffic and monetizing via display ads (mainly). She touches on other blogging models, but I think bloggers with this bent will glean the most.
  • You have the room in your budget to pay for it. If you can’t afford the hefty price tag, consider buying her book, How to Blog for Profit: Without Selling Your Soul, first. The main chunk of the material corresponds directly to the 12 chapters in Ruth’s book. I would estimate the book contains about 90% of the information covered in the 12 EBA course units. (Please see my update at the end of the post for clarification).

As is the case often with reviews, there’s not a one-size-fits-all answer. I hope I’ve provided enough information so you know if Elite Blog Academy is for you.

The course is currently closed and will open again in 2016.

elite blog academy logo

Clarification on 11/29/2014:

In the comments, Ruth Soukup (the creator of EBA) has graciously disagreed with my assessment that 90% of the content in the EBA course is covered in her book. In her estimation, the figure is between 10-15%.

Quite a discrepancy! I’ve given this quite a bit of thought because, first, I very much respect Ruth and second, how can two business-savvy, intelligent women come up with such vastly different numbers, right? :)

While my goal is to be as objective as possible in my reviews, I am not immune to bias (or even gross exaggeration at times)! So naturally, upon reading her comment, I immediately wondered if my estimation of 90% was inaccurate.

For reference, here is Ruth’s comment:

Oh, one thing I would disagree with is that 90% of the content in the course is in the book. While the course follows the same basic outline, EBA goes FAR more in depth than the book in every single unit. This can be somewhat deceiving at first glance if you haven’t actually worked your way through the material and completed the exercises, but I would say it is more like 10-15%.

Ruth is absolutely right when she points out that I did not complete every assignment (I tried to be forthright about this in my “total transparency” section at the beginning of the post). I understand her to be saying that had I actually completed the exercises, I would have dug deeper.

I think this is a fair point. In fact, I concede she is correct – that had I actually completed all assignments, I would have arrived at a number lower than 90%.

In the spirit of informed decision-making for all, I would also like to provide an explanation of my process and how I initially came to the figure I did.

As I watched the EBA videos, I had Ruth’s book in hand (which is excellent). The chapter titles directly correspond to the course unit titles (as we both agree). However, in my opinion, with regards to the content of the book & course, the similarities go far beyond the basic outline.

Not only are the chapter headings the same, many of the section headings and sub-points are the same as well. I easily followed along in the book (page by page at times), and in general I was able to anticipate which tips would come next as I thumbed through and “looked ahead” in each book chapter.

As for the worksheets and assignments that accompany each unit, some were indeed different and/or more in-depth than what was covered in the book. On the other hand, others were replicas of the ones in the book. So, when I wrote the post, I estimated 90% was the same.

But as I mentioned, I will accept that 90% is too high. However, I don’t agree that my estimation was 75-80% too high and should be only 10-15%. Where would I land at this point? I’m not exactly sure. Perhaps somewhere around 70%? (Again, I want to reiterate that I’m speaking about the content of the book and course, not the extras.)

But in the end, do precise numbers matter?

The important thing is not the numbers, the important thing is value. What is valuable to me is not necessarily valuable to someone else and vice versa. This is the reason I tried hard to look at the product from as many angles as possible in my review

Two people often spend the same money on the same item and experience vastly different levels of value. But this is how change and innovation are achieved! The differences in opinion and experience are often the very things that make us collectively better. We learn things we didn’t know, we try things we haven’t tried and we embrace things we might never have had the courage to embrace on our own.

As a case in point, I’d like to highlight Sarah’s comment, which I was ecstatic to see. She is part of EBA and has not only seen her traffic TRIPLE(!) since September, she has established extremely valuable relationships as well. For her, I imagine 10%, 15%, 70%, 90% is irrelevant! I think we can safely assume that in her case, EBA has paid for itself many times over!

And that, you guys, THAT is what floats my boat, flies my kite, tickles me pink (enter your own phrase here). I love watching others do their thing and thrive in online business. The internet has leveled the playing field and there is so much room for all of us – to find our own space and to take advantage of its money-making potential. There is plenty of internet pie to go around!

Additionally, I am certain Ruth’s goal in creating EBA mirrors mine – to see other bloggers dive in, get what they need and explode in growth! In that, I’m sure we agree.

To me, this is not about reviews or comments. It’s not about two bloggers who disagree (hopefully not going at it viciously for all to see). This is about offering helpful products and honest feedback. It’s about raising the bar and helping others. It’s about growth, as individuals and as a blogging community.

Too ALL of our success,

Amy

Click the image to learn more:

elite blog academy review

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How to Become a Virtual Assistant http://amylynnandrews.com/how-to-become-a-virtual-assistant/ http://amylynnandrews.com/how-to-become-a-virtual-assistant/#comments Tue, 07 Apr 2015 05:05:28 +0000 http://amylynnandrews.com/?p=12112 A virtual assistant provides services to individuals, organizations or companies via the internet. It’s an excellent work-at-home opportunity and one most of us can do. It’s simply a matter of charging others for a skill you already have. A lot of people hear “virtual assistance” and think of administrative assistance, but the possibilities are much more broad. […]

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A virtual assistant provides services to individuals, organizations or companies via the internet. It’s an excellent work-at-home opportunity and one most of us can do. It’s simply a matter of charging others for a skill you already have.

how to become a virtual assistant

A lot of people hear “virtual assistance” and think of administrative assistance, but the possibilities are much more broad. The internet has made it possible to do a wide variety of things remotely, or, “virtually.”

Types of things virtual assistants do

There are countless services you can provide virtually, like writing, ghostwriting, graphic design, researching, editing, tutoring, desktop publishing, counseling, audio/video/photo editing, coaching, consulting, bookkeeping, copywriting, social media management, project management, transcription, programming, data entry and anything else you can do without having to be in the same physical location as your client.

At rates ranging anywhere from $15 to $100+ an hour (depending on your skill), it’s a great option for those who want to work from home. After my own stint as a virtual assistant (VA for short), here are my tips.

1. Get a website

This is a no-brainer. People need to be able to find you. A presence on the web is crucial. It gives you a more professional appearance, the chance to highlight some of your skills and an opportunity to explain your process. If you’ve seen my step-by-step guide, you’ll know you can be up and running in as little as 15 minutes. (Note that my series talks specifically about blogs, but it applies equally to regular websites. After setting up, just follow the instructions in this post.)

2. Buy The Bootstrap VA* by Lisa Morosky

the bootstrap vaI get a lot of requests to promote ebooks, but I rarely do so. However, I bought The Bootstrap VA and it is ABSOLUTELY one I recommend. I even share a bit of my experience in the book. The finished product is jam-packed with actionable tips. It’s like taking a college course. Lisa has worked as a virtual assistant for many years and after reading half of her ebook, I was so impressed, I hired Lisa to be my own virtual assistant. She knows her stuff.

3. Get involved in social media

This would include Facebook, Twitter, Pinterest, Google+, LinkedIn or wherever your potential clients hang out. Commenting on blogs can also be beneficial. Relationships are key. Being involved in social media is one of the best way to find clients and vice versa, especially until you are established and can rely on word of mouth.

4. Be helpful

Some people looking for work as a VA come across as spammy. In my case, I casually offered some ideas to a friend on Twitter and it turned out to be the start of a working relationship that lasted quite a while.

5. Hustle

Remember that this is a business and just like any other business, it’ll require hustle. You can’t just build a website and watch the money roll in. Be proactive and enthusiastic!

6. Network with other VAs

Ask around, read great articles, do some googling and find people who are already VAs. Check out their websites, see what they offer and get an idea of how it might work for you. A perfect place to do this is the free Facebook group you get access to when you buy The Bootstrap VA.

How to become a virtual assistant tips

*There are affiliate links in this post.

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How To Get More Website Traffic http://amylynnandrews.com/website-traffic/ http://amylynnandrews.com/website-traffic/#comments Fri, 20 Mar 2015 21:07:14 +0000 http://amylynnandrews.com/?p=15043 Updated: March 20, 2015 It’s the question on everyone’s mind: How can I get more traffic to my blog or website? Website traffic can be elusive. While there are no guaranteed solutions, there are some good practices. Here are my tips: Create valuable content Whether you’re writing posts, publishing ebooks, creating videos, recording podcasts or […]

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Updated: March 20, 2015

It’s the question on everyone’s mind: How can I get more traffic to my blog or website?

How to get more website traffic.

Website traffic can be elusive. While there are no guaranteed solutions, there are some good practices. Here are my tips:

Create valuable content

Whether you’re writing posts, publishing ebooks, creating videos, recording podcasts or producing content in any other form, make it valuable and high quality. If you consistently produce excellent content, people will naturally want to get more, and then they’ll visit. On the other hand, there’s no quicker way to ding your online reputation, and therefore hurt your traffic, than by posting lame or too salesy content.

Be active on social media

Once you’ve got your own site, get active on social media platforms (Twitter, Facebook, Pinterest, etc.). Never miss a natural opportunity to refer your followers back to your site. Be explicit about it sometimes. Check out my call to action tips. The biggest tip I can offer about being active on social media is hang out where your target audience hangs out and when they hang out! Focus your efforts there.

If you’re in a niche that is represented well on Pinterest (i.e. weddings, photography, DIY, decorating, food, fashion, etc.), check out Elite Blog Academy. Ruth Soukup has mastered Pinterest and as a course member, you get access to her insane but effective Pinterest strategy (crazy spreadsheet included).

Build relationships

When it comes to building traffic, friends are much more likely to promote your stuff (and you’re more likely to promote their stuff which is important too). Be willing to step out, make connections with people and be real friends. Allow time to build the relationship before you ask them to promote for you.

Attend IRL events

There’s no better way to jumpstart relationship building than attending IRL (in real life) events. These might be conferences, workshops, meetups or even one-on-one meetings (be wise of course). Keep your eyes and ears peeled for opportunities to meet others face to face. The benefits of this extend far beyond traffic-building. Attending a conference in 2010 was a major turning point for me.

Leave useful comments on blogs & social media

If your goal is to drive traffic to your site, leave a comment that adds to the conversation, without hijacking it by making it all about you. Offer something valuable, funny or useful instead of simply “Great post!” (unless simple encouragement is your goal, which is good too). Choose strategic places (i.e. where your target audience hangs out) to comment, not just anywhere.

Leave a link to your site in comments you leave, the right way

Most blogs that allow you to leave a comment require you to register your name and email address first. They also usually give you the option of leaving your URL. Do it. Every time. Where indicated. Not in the body of your comment itself (unless you have an exceptional, super-d-duper reason to do so). Leaving a link to your site in your comment or “signing” your comment with a link to your site is considered poor netiquette by many.

Deep link in your comments URL

When registering to leave a comment on a blog, there is no rule that states you must leave a link to your home page. I recommend you find a knock-em-dead post related to the comment you are writing and leave that link when you register your comment. That way, people who are already interested in the topic can get right to the spot where you offer more info.

Link to your site in your email signature

This is a simple thing to do and it highlights your site to every person you email. I explained how to add a signature to Gmail here.

Guest post

When you guest post on someone else’s blog, you get exposure to a whole lot of people that might not otherwise stumble upon your site by themselves. Not only that, if you land a guest post on a blog that gets high traffic, it’s great for your SEO. Here are my tips about guest posting if you want to go this route.

Try a different medium

If you normally post on your blog, do a Hangout on Air and it’ll be available on YouTube. Try a podcast or create a presentation and put it on SlideShare. A different medium (likely) means a fresh audience, and therefore more potential traffic.

Take part in forums

You can find all kinds of forums on just about any topic. If you’re not sure how to find them, simply search for “[your topic/niche] forums” (ex. “baking forums”). Try with and without quotes.

Put a link to your site in your forum signature

Be reasonable about this. Signatures full of links and/or tons of text and/or blinking things makes one look amateurish at best, and spammy at worst. A forum changed the course of Crystal’s blogging journey.

Brand some merchandise

Many years ago, I made myself a goofy t-shirt with my website domain. It was available on hoodies, mugs and more. Here’s what it looked like as a decal. (I’m blurring out the domain since I no longer own it. If I was to do it again, I’d make the domain much larger, like Chris’s shirt here.)

i'm the pastors wife

I used a site called Cafe Press to make mine. I bought a t-shirt for myself, and surprisingly, others bought my design as well. You might just get others to market for you too!

Pay attention to your bios

Wherever you spend time online, make sure your bio includes a link to your site: Google+ (here are my tips), Facebook (here’s how), Twitter (more tips), Pinterest (tips for that too), LinkedIn, etc. And consider signing up for Klout too. And put a note on your calendar (every 3-6 months) to check your bios and make sure they’re current.

Link your Facebook Profile to your Page

So many people don’t do this properly and it makes me sad. The about section of your Facebook personal profile has a spot for your Work & Education. It’s the perfect place to link to your Facebook Page although for many, it leads to a dead-end page. Follow the instructions on this page.

Make sharing easy for readers

Use social sharing buttons. Speaking of sharing, make sure your sharing plugin or service isn’t making you lose out on traffic!

Things to note

Stop comparing yourself

Glance at what others are doing, don’t gaze at what others are doing. Keep tabs, don’t keep score. It’s helpful to watch and observe but you’re wasting precious time if you obsess about the traffic of others and how yours measures up.

Flip your discouragement thinking

Don’t be discouraged. I know, easier said than done. It’s a bummer to look at others and wish you were where they are. The thing is, we’ve all been there. Every blogger or website owner is, has been or will be at the exact point you are now. Feeling late to the game? Think of it this way: start today and you’re way ahead of the people who won’t start their blogs or websites for weeks, months or years. But you’re not comparing yourself, right? :)

Be different

One of the main reasons you shouldn’t spend too much time watching what others are doing is because you risk adopting too much of them. And then you’re just a clone and why would anyone pay attention when you’re not the real thing?

Sign up for the long haul

I know it seems like you should build a blog or website and people will find it, end of story. Unfortunately, it doesn’t work that way. Sites you find easily have been around a long time and have a massive web of connections underneath. It takes time to build this sort of foundation so understand that it will probably take a few years for your site to be easily found too.

One of the greatest traffic-building mistakes

There’s one thing that makes me sad when it comes to building traffic. I see a lot of people working hard to drive traffic to their profiles or pages on social media, at the expense of their blogs or websites.

There’s nothing wrong with building traffic on social media of course, but when I see people writing long, beautiful updates on Facebook for example, I think to myself, Noooooo!

Instead of housing your best content on a site you don’t own, turn it into content on your own site.

By all means share it on Facebook, but share it as a link to your site or post a teaser on Facebook and then direct people to the full post on your blog (or in your newsletter)! Better to stay in control and maintain ownership of the stuff you create!

Granted, there are times when posting on a social media site makes more sense than on your own site (YouTube videos come to mind), but if you do that, at the very least, back up everything you might want to keep for the future.

Build your own digital assets. There’s obviously not much point in building traffic if you have nowhere to send that traffic, right? Get yourself a blog or website if you don’t already have one. It’s one of the top three digital assets you should build.

Related: What is Good Traffic?

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How to get more traffic. Some tips.

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How to Start a Blog http://amylynnandrews.com/how-to-start-a-blog/ http://amylynnandrews.com/how-to-start-a-blog/#respond Mon, 09 Mar 2015 00:16:29 +0000 http://amylynnandrews.com/?page_id=11602 Updated March 31, 2015 If you want to know how to start a blog, you’ve come to the right place. Whether you want to work from home, author a book, get more exposure for your existing business or simply write, starting a blog and/or website is highly recommended. The following steps outline exactly how I’ve […]

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Updated March 31, 2015

If you want to know how to start a blog, you’ve come to the right place. Whether you want to work from home, author a book, get more exposure for your existing business or simply write, starting a blog and/or website is highly recommended.

How to start a blog in 15 minutes or less, step by step.

The following steps outline exactly how I’ve built most of my own sites. This guide has helped countless others get started too.

Some of the links below are affiliate links, meaning, at no additional cost to you, I will earn a commission if you choose to make a purchase. Thank you for your support in this way.

What you’ll get from this guide

By the end, you’ll have your own self-hosted WordPress site, one of the most popular kinds of sites around. Ready?

Steps needed to start a blog – An overview

  1. Purchase hosting
  2. Choose a domain
  3. Install WordPress
  4. Start using WordPress

Step 1: How to start a blog – Find a host

A host provides server space for your site so others can find you on the internet. You could use a free service, but I highly recommend you opt for self-hosting. You get what you pay for. Trust me, you’ll be so glad you started out on the right foot.

Start by clicking here to go to Bluehost* (this link will open in a new window so you can reference these instructions as you work). I’ve been a paying customer of this company for over 10 years and can vouch for them.

Click the green Get Started Now button.

By the way, the images you see here may vary slightly from the ones you see on your screen. This is because they never stop making site improvements. Don’t worry, the general process is the same.

bluehost hosting

Step 2: How to start a blog – Select your plan

Choose the plan you’d like to start with. (You can upgrade at any time.) I typically go with the Plus plan because you get more unlimited features. Note that all plans come with one free domain.

Just click one of the green “select” buttons to move to the next step.

Select a Bluehost plan.

Step 3: How to start a blog – Choose a domain

If you don’t have a domain, enter a new domain name on the left. A domain name is your desired web address, like AmyLynnAndrews.com. (See tips for choosing a domain below). Make sure .com, or the extension of your choice, is selected from the drop down menu beside it.

If you’ve already registered a domain name elsewhere, enter it on the right (don’t worry, it won’t mess things up if you’re using the domain already, this only identifies your account).

Click the blue Next button.

bluehost domain

Tips for choosing a domain name:

  • Go with a .com whenever possible.
  • Make it easy to say and spell.
  • Don’t include hyphens, numbers, obscure terms or confusing strings of words.
  • If you’re not sure what to use, your name is a safe bet to start.
  • Be creative and try a phrase if you’re having trouble finding an available name.
  • Read more tips here if needed.

Step 4: How to start a blog – Enter your account info

On the next page, enter your account info. Make sure you use a working email address because this is where your login information will be sent.

bluehost account info

Step 5: How to start a blog – Choose a hosting package

Under Package Information choose your Account Plan from the dropdown menu based on how far in advance you want to pay. Please note you will be billed a year a time, but as you can see, it works out to a very reasonable monthly amount. Not bad for your own blog or website, right?

bluehost package

I always skip the other add-ons except Domain Whois Privacy (sometimes called Domain Privacy Protection) which will keep your personal information private. I highly recommend it. (Note: the Domain Privacy option only shows up if you registered a new domain in Step 3 above. It will not show up if you used a transfer domain.)

Step 6: How to start a blog – Enter your billing info

Fill in your billing information, confirm that you’ve read the fine print and then click Next.

bluehost billing info

Step 7: How to start a blog – Skip the upgrades

On the next page you’ll be asked if you want to add any upgrades. I just skip them. Continue on to complete your purchase. After completing your purchase, check your email. You’ll find a welcome email from Bluehost with your control panel (cpanel) login info. Keep this information for future reference.

Now we’re going to install WordPress on your new site.

Step 8: How to start a blog – Login to your cpanel

Go back to Bluehost and click the Login button in the top right corner of your screen. Alternatively, you can use the link to your cpanel contained in the welcome email.

bluehost login

Enter your cpanel login info from the welcome email.

bluehost login panel

Step 9: How to start a blog – Install WordPress

Once logged in, click the WordPress icon under Website Builders.

bluehost install wordpress

Step 10: How to start a blog – Start the WordPress install

Next you’ll get a window that looks like this. Click the Start (it might say “Install) button to begin the WordPress installation process.

wordpress install

Step 11: How to start a blog – Choose where to install WordPress

Choose your domain from the dropdown menu (unless you have a good reason to create a subfolder which is unlikely if you are just starting). Simply click Check Domain.

wordpress domain install

Step 12: How to start a blog – Enter your WordPress user info

Check the box next to Show advanced options. Enter your Site Name or Title (ex. Amy Lynn Andrews, How to Blog, Sally’s Song Factory, etx.). Choose an Admin Username (do not use “admin” as your username) and password. These will be what you use to login to WordPress once it’s installed. Enter your email address (again, all site information will be sent here). Read and agree to the terms. Click the Install Now button.

bluehost wordpress advanced options

Step 13: How to start a blog – Note your WordPress login credentials

After WordPress has been installed, you should see the “Status: success” indication.

bluehost wordpress install success

Take note of the information to access your new WordPress site. This information will also be sent to you via email.

If you registered a new domain in Step 2, clicking on the Site URL link will take you to your brand new, live website. Clicking on the Login URL link will take you to the WordPress login page where you can enter your username & password and get into the backend of your WordPress site.

(If you transferred a domain in Step 2, see Optional Step 14 below.)

Congratulations! You (or anyone) can now type your domain into a browser and your WordPress site will appear.

So I have a blog, now what?

Do these 2 things:

  1. Sign up for The Useletter® – It’s hard to keep up with the latest info about blogging, online business and social media change. I wade through the internet and send out bite-sized tips every Saturday morning. It’s completely free and very popular.
  2. Learn WordPress basics – Visit my Contents page for an organized list of all my tips, tools & tutorials.

Optional Step 14: If you used an existing domain in Step 2…

Your existing domain will not display your new site until you change your name servers wherever your domain is currently registered. Changing your name servers points your domain to this new site.

IMPORTANT! As soon as you change your name servers, your domain will bring visitors to this new site. Therefore, if you are currently using your domain on another site, do not change your name servers until your new site is set up and ready to go. In the meantime, you can still access your new WordPress blog via a temporary URL. You may have received one in your welcome email from Bluehost. If you didn’t, simple call them and let them know you need a temporary URL for your new site.

To change the name servers where your domain is currently registered, first note your new Bluehost name server information:

  • ns1.BlueHost.com
  • ns2.BlueHost.com

Next, go to the registrar where your existing domain is currently registered (Namecheap, GoDaddy, etc.). You will need to enter the above information in the appropriate place. This varies among registrars so I recommend you call them if it’s not clear.

Once you’ve done that, hop up to the “So I have a blog, now what?” section above.

How to start a blog in 15 minutes or less. Step by step, with pictures, for any beginner.

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