Amy Lynn Andrews http://amylynnandrews.com I teach people how to blog. Sat, 25 Jul 2015 13:23:47 +0000 en-US hourly 1 http://wordpress.org/?v=4.2.3 How to Make Money Blogging – Guide for 2015 http://amylynnandrews.com/how-to-make-money-blogging/ http://amylynnandrews.com/how-to-make-money-blogging/#respond Thu, 09 Jul 2015 00:06:11 +0000 http://amylynnandrews.com/?p=13525 Updated July 8, 2015 If you’ve ever wondered how to make money blogging, you’ve come to the right place. As an 11-year veteran blogger making a full-time income, my goal was to create a guide with up-to-date information about blogging for money. Here’s my story in a nutshell… How I went from hobby blogger to pro blogger […]

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Updated July 8, 2015

If you’ve ever wondered how to make money blogging, you’ve come to the right place. As an 11-year veteran blogger making a full-time income, my goal was to create a guide with up-to-date information about blogging for money. Here’s my story in a nutshell…

How to make money blogging. An updated guide.

How I went from hobby blogger to pro blogger

Without any technical or computer skills whatsoever, in 2004 I started a blog (here’s how). For six years, I blogged as a hobby. In 2010 I focused on generating income. Since then, my husband traded a 9-to-5 job he hated for a part-time job he loves, together we homeschool our kiddos and my full-time online income makes up the bulk of our income.

It takes time, creativity and hustle – a lot of all three – but it’s absolutely doable.

Note: This guide has a 10-page bonus pack with extra tips & more. It’s free when you sign up for my very popular, tip-packed weekly email called the Useletter here:

Click here to download your free 10-page bonus pack with extra tips, myths and more

All set? here we go…

How to Make Money Blogging: The 5 Basic Steps

Here’s an overview of the five basic steps to follow if you want to make money blogging:

  1. Establish your home base
  2. Produce valuable content
  3. Build relationships
  4. Grow your platform (and branch out)
  5. Choose and implement streams of income

If you’re feeling a bit overwhelmed by the choices, I’ll give you some tips to get started at the end. Please note this post contains affiliate links.

1. Establish your home base

If you want to make money blogging, obviously you’ll need a blog. If you don’t already have one, no worries, simply follow the steps I outlined in How to Start a Blog. This is the easy part (even if you’re not technically-inclined).

2. Produce valuable content

Once you have a blog, write. Draw from your expertise and experience and write informative posts and articles about your chosen topic. Most of all, make them excellent. In order to make money, you have to have visitors, but in order to have visitors, you have to have content worthwhile to visit. This is the time consuming part. It’ll be a while before you start seeing an income. There is no way around this. There are no shortcuts. We all have to put in our time.

3. Build relationships

While you create your content, start building genuine and sincere relationships via social media, commenting, forums and the like. Reach out to people in your niche. Find people who could use the information you provide. Get to know them, interact, be friendly and be helpful by offering no-strings-attached tidbits of your expertise when you can. Building relationships is important for a few reasons:

  • If done authentically, these relationships will help you establish a reputation of being trustworthy and generous.
  • 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.
  • It’s very possible these relationships will turn into much more than just acquaintances to chat with online. These people will likely support you in the future and more than that, they may become fantastic, life-long friends.

4. Grow your platform (and branch out)

Keep growing in your knowledge of your craft so the content you produce on your blog gets increasingly great. Use your blog to get exposure, build authority, gain trust and be helpful. A lot of people don’t realize that for many bloggers, much of the money they make does not come from their blog directly. A blog is a platform. It’s online property, a digital home. After proving their trustworthiness, bloggers use their blogs as springboards to launch other projects that bring in income, such as ebooks, books, speaking, products, etc.

5. Choose and implement streams of income

Before we dive into the particulars of income streams, the bonus pack provides an analogy to help you understand what I call the 4-legged approach.

Alright.

Once your blog has earned trust, think about making money. Many people want to focus solely on this, but if you try to dive into monetizing before you’ve really built your platform, you run the risk of damaging the good reputation you so desperately need.

There are numerous ways bloggers make money. Each blogger has a different combination of income streams. There is no “right” way to make money blogging. And that’s the beauty of it. There are endless possibilities.

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. Even small trickles of money coming from various sources over time can really add up.

At the risk of sounding corny, the best way to start monetizing is to let it grow organically out of what you are already doing. Hopefully you are blogging about something you enjoy. As you grow, look for ways to monetize that would most suit you and your audience. Following are a list of income streams bloggers adopt, broken down into five main categories:

How to make money blogging: advertising

Unlike many of the other categories, advertising is all about generating income directly from your blog, website or other digital asset(s).

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. Sometimes they are referred to as banner ads.

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

Display ads are often provided through ad networks. Ad networks are companies that pair advertisers with publishers (bloggers). Ad networks act as a middle man between advertisers and publishers, negotiating partnership details between the two. The ad network takes a cut from the partnership 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), Media.net, Rivit, Sway. There are many more, so once you get involved in your niche’s community of bloggers, you’ll soon hear of others.

Can you really make money with Google AdSense?

This is a very popular question, and a good one. 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 because it’s so easy to set up.

However, if you want to make really good money with Google AdSense, you either have to be in a unique niche in which advertisers will pay a lot of money for clicks on their ads (hard to find), or you have to have a lot of traffic (hard to get, especially for beginners). For these reasons, I don’t recommend AdSense (or display advertising in general) as the main pursuit for new bloggers.

Tips:

  • 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 above the fold is on your site, 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 their 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.

Tip for private ads on your blog:

  • 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 (see Affiliate Marketing below for more). Crystal Paine puts it well when she says, “[Blank ad spots] scream, ‘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 word. 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.

Tips for reviews & giveaways:

  • 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 [company] 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 MoneySavingMom.com.

Hear what others have to say

There are bloggers who have been quite successful with advertising and who’ve shared what they’ve learned. Check out:

  1. Elite Blog Academy (closed until 2016) – This course deals with getting more traffic and therefore increasing your advertising revenue. Read my full review of this course first.
  2. How to Monetize Your Food Blog – This ebook is about ad networks, advertising and how to set up an ad waterfall so you get the most out of your ad spots. (It also briefly covers some of the other monetization methods listed below.)
  3. Niche Site Duel – This deals with doing keyword research to find the niches advertisers pay high rates to.

Advertising takeaways

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. In other words, it can eliminate “ad shock” down the road.
  • Advertising is indeed lucrative for select 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 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.

How to make money blogging: 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, so I won’t rehash the details here.

How to make money blogging: digital products

Audio/Video

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.

Also, many plugin authors offer their plugins for free but ask for donations.

Domains

Do you have a domain collecting problem? Did you know you could sell them for profit? Try a site like Sedo.

Ecourses/Webinars/Online Workshops

You could do all sorts of things with this from small to large. 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. Check out how LeadPages uses webinars to sell their product in this free 10-part video series.

Ebooks

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.

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

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.

Related: How to Make Money as an Ultimate Bundle Affiliate.

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 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 (now closed).

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.

Photos

Are you a photographer? Illustrator? Why not sell your photos on a site like iStockphoto or Foap? 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.

How to make money blogging: physical products

Books

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 or Handmade at Amazon. 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 Etsy shop (but would largely apply to Handmade as well).

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.

How to make money advertising: services

Think of this like freelancing. If you have a skill (who doesn’t?), why not offer your service(s) 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.

Services Takeaways

Pro to offering a service:

  • Low startup cost. Little to no inventory required.

Con to offering a service:

  • Not scaleable. In other words, your business size depends on how much time you have. 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.

How to make money blogging: where to start

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

The bonus pack offers more general tips as well. Click here to grab it.

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 the 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.

next steps So, what does this mean for you?

  1. Start a blog if you haven’t already.
  2. Sign up for the Useletter (and remember, you’ll get the 10-page bonus pack too!) Don’t get information overload. I wade through the latest blogging information and share bite-sized tips for bloggers and online entrepreneurs. It’s free and emails arrive on Saturday mornings.
  3. Build relationships on social media. Figure out where your ideal reader hangs out 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.
  4. If you found this guide useful, please share it!
  5. Related: How Much Do Bloggers Make?

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How to make money blogging. A comprehensive guide.

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My Favorite Plugins http://amylynnandrews.com/favorite-plugins/ http://amylynnandrews.com/favorite-plugins/#comments Mon, 29 Jun 2015 06:16:31 +0000 http://bloggingwithamy.com/?p=8662 Updated: June 29, 2015 Once you know how to install plugins, you’ll want to find some good ones. Before you go crazy (it’s easy to go crazy), I recommend you read my plugin tips. In short, plugins have a frustrating way of breaking sites so I aim to use as few as possible. Below is a […]

The post My Favorite Plugins appeared first on Amy Lynn Andrews.

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Updated: June 29, 2015

Once you know how to install plugins, you’ll want to find some good ones. Before you go crazy (it’s easy to go crazy), I recommend you read my plugin tips. In short, plugins have a frustrating way of breaking sites so I aim to use as few as possible.

My favorite plugins and the ones I'm no longer using.

Below is a list of the plugins currently active on my site.

I’m keeping the list of plugins I’ve stopped using at the bottom of the page for reference. I noted the reason why I stopped using a specific plugin when applicable.

As of today, I have a whopping 7 plugins on my site. This changes from time to time, but I like to keep things super lightweight.

The current plugins I'm using.

To combat spam

Antispam Bee is my current spam fighter. It’s worked quite well, although not nearly as effective as turning off comments more than 30 days old. Now THAT has virtually eliminated spam. :)

I used to use the following:

  • Growmap Anti Spambot Plugin (G.A.S.P.) is the plugin I talked about in my tutorial, How to Install a Plugin. It helps cut down on spam.
  • Akismet is a good spam catcher as well. It’s automatically installed in new versions of WordPress but must still be activated. (Activation requires an API key from WordPress.com. Simply follow the prompts to get your key when you activate Akismet under Plugins–>Installed.)

For social sharing

Simple Share Buttons Adder puts social sharing icons at the end of my posts. There’s a handy setup guide and walkthrough tutorial on BlogAid.

Simple Social Icons allows you to add social media icons to your widgets in WordPress. It works great with Genesis.

For comments

Yoast Comment Hacks is a new one for me and so far so good. I used to use Send Email Only on Reply to My Comment which sends a notification to someone when they have a reply to their comment.

For the backend

WordPress SEO by Yoast makes it easy to enhance your SEO as you write your posts. See also my 7 SEO Tips post.

W3 Total Cache makes your site run faster and smoother by caching. Caching is basically keeping a copy of images and content that has already been seen so those things don’t have to be fetched from the server every time, which slows things down.

UpdraftPlus is the plugin I recommend to create automatic backups of your site. It’s free. Update: I recently deactivated this on my main site at the suggestion of my ALA.com host (Synthesis) who has a robust backup system in place.

Genesis-specific plugin

Genesis is the theme I personally useGenesis Simple Edits makes editing your byline (the bit of information like date and author name under your post titles) and your post footer (the bit of information like number of comments, categories, etc. at the end of your post) a cinch.

To build my email list (not using currently but may try again)

Dreamgrow Scroll Triggered Box is a slide-in box to grab the attention of potential subscribers. This plugin has worked for me, but I think I might try Scroll Triggered Boxes (similar name, different plugin, slightly better reviews).

plugins i no longer use

WishList Member allows you to have a membership site right in WordPress. It was the first plugin I used to run The Useletter Archives. Update: I found the plugin to be cumbersome and I wasn’t impressed when a much-needed update required another payment. if I was, I would use MemberPress*

Social Sharing Toolkit is what automatically puts sharing buttons at the end of each of my posts. Update: I deleted this plugin after reading MaAnna’s review here.

Comment Reply Notification allows people who leave a comment to be notified via email if anyone responds to their comment. Update: It hasn’t been updated in 2+ years so I opted for an up-to-date one (see above).

WordPress Ping Optimizer keeps your site from being marked as a ping spammer. What’s that? Have you ever published a post but found mistakes and had to update it? Well, every time you update a post after it’s published, your pinging services are notified. This plugin only pings them once when the post is published the first time. Update: WordPress now handles this on its own.

WP Smush.it reduces the file sizes of images you upload to your blog, thus making your site run faster. I’d also recommend resizing your images. I just manually compress my images now. And I wasn’t hearing good things about this plugin after a while.

Google XML Sitemaps creates an automatic sitemap which helps the “bots” index your site more efficiently. This helps with SEO. I wrote more about it in How to Maximize Your Sitemap. Update: Now I use Yoast’s SEO plugin for this.

WP Database Backup backs up your database (posts, comments, etc.) on a regular basis. Update: As I mentioned, a better option is now UpdraftPlus.

WP Facebook Open Graph Protocol pulls the right thumbnail from your post to Facebook. Also see my Facebook Tips. Not worth a whole plugin for this. I prefer the debugger tool when there’s a problem.

WP Maintenance Mode is handy if I want to make design changes or do other maintenance without confusing anyone. Basically, I can work on my site as usual behind a screen that lets visitors know the site is undergoing a little maintenance and will be back to normal quickly. This is a nice thing if you have a demo site or a client site. I reinstall it only if I need to do some work and then delete it when it’s done.

FeedBlitz Member Mail puts a check box at the end of the comment form, so anyone who leaves a comment can also subscribe to receive posts via email by checking the box. It’s an easy way to build subscribers. Update: Now I use Mad Mimi for The Useletter and don’t send posts via email.

Editorial Calendar is a great way to keep track of your posts by scheduling them. I have used this plugin only a little bit but didn’t find I used it enough to warrant keeping it activated.

Genesis Simple Hooks is a plugin that is a bit more techy, but is a nice way to add elements to your blog layout (like banner ads under your header for example, or ads at the end of single posts, etc.). Update: There’s nothing wrong with this plugin, I just no longer needed it.

Easy Recipe recommended by Linda from The Gluten-Free Homemaker allows readers to print your recipes.

What are your favorite plugins?

*There are affiliate links in this post.

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Hey Amy, how do you find & organize the tips for the Useletter? http://amylynnandrews.com/useletter-process/ http://amylynnandrews.com/useletter-process/#comments Tue, 16 Jun 2015 11:10:02 +0000 http://amylynnandrews.com/?p=15624 I have been sending out the Useletter every Saturday since June 2013. Many people have asked me how I find and organize the tips I share. Here’s my basic process. Can’t see the video? Watch it here. 1. Consume LOTS of content My sources include podcasts, blog posts, YouTube videos, newsletters, ebooks, books, social media […]

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I have been sending out the Useletter every Saturday since June 2013. Many people have asked me how I find and organize the tips I share. Here’s my basic process.


Can’t see the video? Watch it here.

1. Consume LOTS of content

My sources include podcasts, blog posts, YouTube videos, newsletters, ebooks, books, social media or whatever else I can find. I funnel most of it into Feedly.

2. Organize the content as I consume

I try to organize all incoming info into categories in Feedly, but…that system works a lot better in my head.

As I’m reading, I save anything Useletter-worthy in Evernote (referral link).

I have tags in Evernote corresponding to the basic topics I share in the Useletter and tag things as I go.

3. Write the Useletter

When I’m ready to write the Useletter, I use my editorial calendar to see which topics I’m due to cover. I write up the tips in Mad Mimi (referral link). (If you’re looking for an email service provider, Mad Mimi is easy & dreamy.)

Still curious?

  • Subscribe to the Useletter and see for yourself!
  • Got a question? Use hashtag #HeyAmy and perhaps I will feature yours!

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What Makes Readers Lose Interest in a Blog? http://amylynnandrews.com/interest/ http://amylynnandrews.com/interest/#comments Tue, 09 Jun 2015 09:20:22 +0000 http://bloggingwithamy.com/?p=7914 Mostly because I’m curious, the other night I posted this fill-in-the-blank question on my Facebook page: “I lose interest in a blog when ___________.” Clearly it’s not a scientific study, but the comments contain a treasure trove of helpful info for bloggers who don’t want to lose readers. I asked the same question back in 2012. […]

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Mostly because I’m curious, the other night I posted this fill-in-the-blank question on my Facebook page:

“I lose interest in a blog when ___________.”

What makes readers lose interest in a blog?
Clearly it’s not a scientific study, but the comments contain a treasure trove of helpful info for bloggers who don’t want to lose readers.

I asked the same question back in 2012. Many of the answers are similar, but there are some differences too. (For example, in 2012, several people mentioned their dislike of auto-play music. In 2015, this isn’t so much of an issue.)

A major theme in 2015 is being turned off by money-making endeavors like ads, sponsored posts, product launches, etc. Another theme that showed up in 2015 that wasn’t mentioned in 2012 was a desire for ease-of-use on mobile.

In 2012, an interesting theme that emerged was disliking too many contributing authors or guest posts. I found this interesting because I often check the author of the post first. If it’s a contributor or a guest post, many times I’ll click away and don’t read at all.

Another interesting theme that began in 2012 and continued in 2015 was a preference for less information. Many people said they didn’t want to see multiple posts in a day and they didn’t want to get multiple emails in a week. Some also said they didn’t want long introductions or long posts.

Overall, it seems readers want to see the bloggers personality, they are looking for concise yet helpful content and not regurgitations or round-ups of other peoples’ stuff and they appreciate being acknowledged in comments or social media reaction. They are turned off by a “preachy” style and wish bloggers wouldn’t be afraid to show their non-perfect sides.

I’m definitely taking notes.

I lose interest in a blog when...

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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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