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Blogging: Behind The Scenes, Part 2!

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If you didn’t catch the first installment of this “Blogging: Behind the Scenes” series, it can be found HERE!

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Hi there and welcome back!

Today’s post is not directly related to food, so some of you might want to head on over to Foodgawker or Pinterest and come back here in a few days when I plan to post about some super-fun Christmas cookies!!!!

But if you’re curious about the ins & outs of ‘professional’ blogging, you might find today’s post interesting…

Blogging: Behind the Scenes, Part 2

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I seem to get so many questions about working from home as a blogger, so last month I decided it would be fun and informational to occasionally write about it here.  Some of the info I’ve learned might benefit you, especially if you are a blogger yourself.  I know I always appreciate it when other bloggers are willing to be open, especially when it comes to what has worked (or failed) for their sites.

That’s what I hope to do for you here. :)

So let’s jump right in!  I left off the last “Behind the Scenes” post at item #5, which had to do with “Sticking to your Brand” and making sure every post is a good representation of your primary message (the “What Drives You” reason you are blogging in the first place.)  Sponsorships, ads, and affiliates are not bad things… but they must align well with the message of your blog or they will be obvious and annoying to your readers.

Before I continue my list of helpful tips, I’ll give last month’s overview of the Pretty/Hungry income streams & how they are performing:

Bloggin: Behind the Scenes, Part 2  |  prettyhungryblog.com

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The Pretty/Hungry 2014 Recipe Calendar

Though most people come to my blog to read and gather recipes (not to shop) I do like to come up with occasional tangible products, simply because it is not always convenient to read from the computer.  The recipe calendar is nice because it can hang right in the kitchen!  (I’m also planning to publish an e-book in 2014… super excited for that!)  Bottom Line: If you can turn anything about your blog into an actual product, try it out!

*One thing to keep in mind regarding tangible products: Yes, they are a nice way to bring in income through your blog… but let’s not go overboard!  Part of the beauty of blogging is NOT having to awkwardly peddle stuff to your friends.  (While direct-sales make-up, cosmetics, & cookware careers are very popular at-home choices, many of those friends you’re selling to feel uncomfortable and “obligated” to buy from you.)  So don’t let your blog develop the same uncomfortable vibe… focus most of your attention on putting out fun content and if people enjoy reading it, they can share, tweet, & follow (no sales required!)

Bluehost Affiliate Program

I’m a huge fan of Bluehost (my web hosting service), so when bloggers choose it as their web-host based on my recommendation, the company thanks me for the referral with a small commission!

Amazon Affiliate Program

I’m an Amazon fanatic and I recommend certain products from them often because I use them in my kitchen constantly and I think Amazon has the best deals!  When readers purchase an Amazon product based on my recommendation, Amazon thanks me for the good review with a small advertisers fee!

VigLink

Viglink is super neat!  It rounds up product links within your blog that are not already affiliated and affiliates them!  For example, let’s say you recommend an awesome new book to your readers and provide them with a link for where to buy the book.  In a nutshell, Viglink can perform a sweep of your site, locate that link and others like it, and make sure that any purchases made as a result of those links track back to you in that merchant’s system, allowing you to earn a small commission from that sale!  Viglink saves you the trouble of having to open affiliate accounts with dozens of different online merchants, because Viglink has the affiliate relationships and Viglink pays you your commissions.  Cool stuff!  Google is even a major investor inViglink… so that gave me the confidence to use it!  You can read up on it more here:)

Google AdSense Ads

There are lots of ad services out there that you can use to generate income for your blog, and I’m sure they all have their merits.  But I like Google AdSense because it uses the extreme intelligence of Google to your advantage.   They put customized ads on your site so that readers see ads that relate to their interests and to the content of your blog.  More relevant ads mean more clicks, and more clicks equal more revenue… simple as that!

Foodie Blogroll Ads

A new addition to my page! My Foodie Blogroll ad banner appears above the header of my page.  This ad service pays “per view” rather than “per click.”  (This is especially great for me since, as I said, the majority of my traffic is people looking to read, not shop.)  Because of the “per view” payment policy, I am required to place the F.B. banner “above the fold” on my page.  I worked with a fabulous web designer in hopes that I could keep this ad as non-intrusive as possible!  What do you think?  (P.S. The reason Foodie Blogroll income doesn’t appear in the chart above is because there is a 90-day lag between the month and the earnings reported.)

Private Ad-Space Sales

On occasion, private brands, companies, and/or individuals may purchase space on my blog to advertise to my readers.  If you are interested in advertising with Pretty/Hungry, you can find more details about that here.

Freelance Food Photography

A lot of work, but occasionally I agree to this if my schedule allows.

*Swagbucks –

Although not directly related to my blog, I had to mention Swagbucks because it’s a worthwhile revenue source for anyone who spends significant time online (whether for work or for recreation.)  You simply create an account for free and start earning Swagbucks… there are tons of ways to earn them and they can be redeemed for useful rewards such as Amazon gift cards.  My favorite way to earn them is to use the Swagbucks search engine instead of Google.  There are a few search situations where I still prefer Google, but generally the Swagbucks search is perfectly fine (and I actually like the Image Search even better!)  I also play the Swagbucks videos in a separate tab with the sound off anytime I’m working on the computer.  Why NOT earn money while you’re on the computer anyway, that’s my question.

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The revenue streams I use are ever-evolving and I’ll definitely share my insights with you here throughout this series as I grow and change my strategies!

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Now, let’s talk for a minute about expenses…

Generally, I fall on the “ultra-conservative” side of the spectrum when it comes to my expenses.  I don’t purchase “Pro”-grade plugins, I have yet to purchase business cards, I’m using a free theme.  And I happen to think the blog looks nice and runs well!  So my advice to you is not to get suckered into spending too much money on your blog up front.  You definitely need to invest in quality photos, a good hosting service, spam protection, and great web design!  (And of course any product you decide to sell will have some up-front expenses, so make sure it’s a good product!)  But wait until you have some revenue coming in before you invest in extra bells & whistles (especially those that charge you monthly… that stuff adds up!)

Blogging: Behind the Scenes, Part 2  (One blogger's open account of the ins & outs of 'professional blogging')

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And now to continue the list of suggestions I began back on Part 1, here are a few more tips for bloggers:

6) Watch out for hackers!

Once you’ve established your blog (by the way, this will only apply to you WordPress people, because I am a WordPress person), I highly recommend downloading a plugin such as this one, which limits log-in attempts on your account.  You wouldn’t believe how many nasty people there are out there who try to sneak onto your account.  This is a simple way to build in some protection for your little blog baby.

7) Utilize support forums!

The sad thing about breaking away from a free blogging platform is that you are largely on your own technology-wise.  No 24/7 support team you can call for technical issues.  Your web host may be able to help with hosting-related questions, but otherwise, get very comfortable with the process of reading through online support forums and submitting questions.  I used to avoid doing that like the plague!  But it turns out that support forums are attended by very kind, professional, and helpful people, and you really can learn a thing or two when you take the time to explore the forums.  I designed my new website with ZERO web-design experience and only a few minor instances of paid professional help, all thanks to the sweethearts from my theme’s support forum.  :)  Wow, I felt SO accomplished after that too!

8) For Heaven’s sake, make your content as Pinnable as possible!

Pinterest is by far your best friend when it comes to sending traffic to your site, so put forth the effort to take high-quality photos that are well-suited for Pinterest.  That means vertical photos when possible.  (Haven’t you noticed how much more noticeable those are on your Pinterest feed?)  Also, photos that include graphically appealing titles are generally much more “pinnable.” (See example below.)  And lastly, you can make pinning much easier on your readers by adding a “Pin It” button to your site.  Of all the buttons I’ve tested out, this one is my favorite because it places the button on individual images, not just the top or bottom of your page.  Also I like the hover-feature.

Tips for Making Your Blog Content More "Pinnable"

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As usual, I feel like I’ve loaded you up with plenty of info for one day, so I’ll end this installment here!  Hope you’ve picked up a trick or two. :)  See you next time!  (Speaking of next time, you can click here for the 3rd installment of this series.)

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Want to tweet one of today’s tips?

 

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Why do you blog? What is the message you want to shout into cyberspace?

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*Note: This post contains affiliate links.  See my disclosure here.

 

One Response so far.

  1. […] I hope you found this helpful!  I’ll keep sharing my findings as I continue blogging and I hope you’ll share your own success stories and tips with me too.  If you would like to read Part 2 of this series, you can find it here! […]