Are you thinking about starting a blog?
Let me help you begin.
After considerable time in the blogging world, I've learned how to do things the wrong way - and how to do them the right way.
Four years later, I now understand the secrets to creating high-quality content, getting that content SEEN by others, and how to make money from your business. Blogging isn't easy - it's a lot of work, but it's a chance to create something unique, establish a community of like-minded individuals, and monetize your strengths, passions, and interests.
On this page, you'll find the best advice for blogging beginners I have to offer from my own experience. I'm sharing all the details on the tools, courses, and resources that made my gluten-free recipes go viral on Pinterest, got me published in both online and print magazines, helped grow my email list to over
600 1400 1800 subscribers, and how I continue to bring a minimum of 10,000 15,000 visitors to my website per month.
I'm constantly working hard toward my ultimate goal - to have my website and business be my full-time income. And every single resource listed here has helped me make that dream closer to reality. I'm almost there - but until then, you can count on me using everything here to continue hustling my butt off to make it happen!
- Advice For New Bloggers
- General Blogging Resources
- Blogging Course: Nomadic Matt's Superstar Blogging
- Email Marketing: FloDesk
- Pinterest with Ell
- Affiliate Marketing With Cate Rosales
- Web Hosting: Bluehost
- Graphic Design: Sundai Studio
- Business Coaches & Podcasts
- Food Photography + Creatives
Advice For New Bloggers
Here's the #1 lesson and piece of advice I can offer you. And you probably don't want to hear it right now. But, like ripping off a bandaid, I'm going to tell you anyway.
In order to make money from your blog, you have to invest money in your blog.
Let that sink in for a second.
In order to make money, you have to be invested in what you are doing. It makes sense, right? It's just that often, we don't want to put in the work - dish out the cash, or spend the time. But these avoidance tactics are just delaying the inevitable. And if you want to make your blog into a profitable business, you've got to take it seriously.
I started my blog in June of 2017 on a whim. Back then, the only people who read it were my parents, my husband, and the kids I babysit.
My writing was like a glorified journal. The photo quality was lacking, and the website had no proper structure or layout. I barely knew what I was doing - and it took over a year and a half with no traffic for a realization to kick in.
It was terrible. But like all things when you are just a beginner, that's how they always start! I knew that in time, it would improve, but I had to be committed to making that happen.
So I doubled down and began working even harder. Over the course of the following two years, I began to expand, learn, and grow, through the help of others. I didn't dish out thousands of dollars upfront, of course - and I'm not suggesting that you do that either. For example, I started with a free WordPress theme in 2017, upgraded to a paid theme in 2019, and after struggling with a cohesive brand image, worked with a graphic designer in 2020 to make things look official. That's how my website grew and evolved - as I grew and evolved along with it.
Remember, in order to elevate your blog to the level of professionalism you see others doing, you're going to have to dig deep and find some humility, while also investing in your business. It's okay to be bad in the beginning. Plus, when you pay for something, you're more likely to be committed to seeing it through.
It takes time.
Blogging is a marathon, not a sprint.
Blogging is not a get-rich-quick scheme. It takes MONTHS (sometimes years) to have a successful blog. It takes TIME to learn how to use WordPress, to build a following, and to gain trust from your followers. It took me a good year and a half of blogging before I started making any money from my website (and it was only a little). Keep your head up, focus on your niche (get specific!), be true to yourself, and it will happen. Just be patient!
It's a lot of work.
As a blogger, you will wear many hats. Photographer, Writer, Social Media Manager, Affiliate Marketer, Freelance Writer, Video Editor, and even Hashtag Researcher! You will feel pulled in many different directions and will have to work really hard. This means weekends, free time, and even nights when you just want to watch tv. There's always something else you can work on, and your work is never done.
Be careful not to burn yourself out, and to celebrate your wins - no matter how small. You are building something amazing - and you should make a point to be proud of your efforts whenever possible! Every month, I do a monthly recap in my bullet journal of my wins and things I'm most proud of that were accomplished in the last 30 days. I also write down stats like website views and Instagram engagement. It helps to see your progress when you can compare it to six months ago - that's when you'll see the proof that you're moving forward.
Having a blog is more than social media.
Racking up followers is important, but it isn't everything. Plenty of small business owners and entrepreneurs that have small social media followings also have a full-time business they run themselves. A large number of followers doesn't mean monetary success, so don't get caught up in the follow/unfollow game. It's toxic! Also, running a blog is much, much more than having Instagram. There is ten times more work that goes into maintaining a website than just posting pictures for likes.
Start an email list.
Piggybacking on my last point - if you focus solely on social media, what happens if one of those networks goes under? When TikTok was under fire for being banned, tons of influencers panicked because that's all they had - a TikTok account. Building an email list is the best way to grow your audience and build a community around your brand: because email isn't going anywhere. Emailing is one of the best ways to communicate with your followers. Blog stats have shown that your email list subscribers are more likely to buy your products, read your posts, and support you! They are the real MVPs!
Connect with others in your niche.
Blogging can be lonely sometimes, and it's important to have a support system.
What may surprise you is how much strangers and others in your niche will cheer you on, while some long-time friends won't bother. Many don't understand what goes on behind the screen, that blogging can be a real career, or might be feeling jealous of the attention you receive. Don't let that get you down. Reach out to others in your field through Instagram, Facebook Groups, or Blogging courses, and find support in your loved ones who always have your back. I find a lot of comedic relief in food blogging groups on Facebook, where I can vent my frustrations to those who understand what I'm going through.
Focus on guest posts & freelance writing.
If you want to get your website seen, it's important to collaborate with others as much as possible. Reach out to others in your niche about guest posts, recipe roundups, or working together in other ways. As more people link to your website, the stronger your website will appear to Google, making your SEO (search engine optimization) score higher and higher.
You can also look into pitching to publications, websites, and magazines. They might not pay a lot (or anything at all), but each opportunity is a chance to build your credibility and your portfolio.
To get an idea of the guest posts and collaborations I've done for other websites, blogs, and magazines, check out this page.
Invest in your blog, and you'll see results.
While Google and YouTube are great free teachers, sometimes, you need the big gals and guys. It's why I took courses with Nomadic Matt, bought eBooks from Kelly Trach and Gloria Atanmo, and invested in a graphic designer like Jena Thielges from Sundai Studio. They are experts in their field for a reason. Their resources, knowledge, and skills will help you get to the next level of your business. Trust me, invest. It's worth it!
The more you treat your blog like a business, the quicker you'll be able to turn it into one. If you only treat your blog like a hobby, it will stay a hobby.
General Blogging Resources
Here you'll find all of the blogging resources, courses, and websites I recommend. This section contains affiliate links. Please note, any course or product listed here is something I purchased and used myself with success. If I bought something that wasn't worth my time or money, you won't see it here.
Superstar Blogging is the #1 course I keep coming back to - almost four years later, and it's because it comes with lifetime support from the expert: Matt Kepnes of NomadicMatt.com. I invested in this course before I even had a single visitor to my website, and I return to it on a regular basis because it covers the basics and a whole lot more. It's the perfect starting point for anyone who wants to learn the basics of blogging, but also the secrets to success along the way!
- You just joined WordPress and have no clue what you are doing, which plugins you should install, and how to use Gutenberg.
- You started a blog, but aren't sure what to write about. You need help narrowing down your niche, creating quality content, and understanding how to write for your audience.
- You want to know how to be seen online: how to use SEO (search engine optimization), how to market yourself, and the basics of using social media.
This fantastic course comes with access to community forums where you can share resources and explore guest post opportunities & collaborations, lifetime technical support from the course instructors (who are super friendly, respond promptly, and always have the answer!), and curriculum updates as the technology changes. If you are committed to learning how to become a successful and profitable blogger, it's well worth it.
Most people use Mailchimp to start their email list and newsletters - and I did too! I used it for about a year before I was ready for a change. Frustrated by my low number of subscribers, I wanted more creative freedom, better workflows, and templates I could customize with ease to grow my audience - without a limit on subscribers. And that's what I've found with FloDesk.
FloDesk makes things easier - it allows me to embed forms on my website without complication, send a series of welcome emails to any subscriber that I only have to set up once, and keeps track of users in an efficient way. Plus, their designs are minimalist and refreshing - and creating my monthly newsletters are stylish and fun. I also can use customized fonts, my own brand colors, and image collages!
After I started using FloDesk, I saw a big uptick in my email subscribers and retention of visitors to my website. Check out these stats!
# of Email Subscribers with MailChimp (January 2020): 60 subscribers
# of Email Subscribers After Switching to FloDesk (March 2020): 120 subscribers
That's double the growth in just two months.
And now, my email list is 1800+ subscribers - which continues to grow every single day.
Many people don't realize that Pinterest is actually more of a search engine than a social media tool.
When I heard a lot of bloggers sharing their success using Pinterest, I said, "Okay! I'll start pinning more!" So for the entire month of January and February in 2020, I made pins and pinned everything manually, thinking it would increase the number of visitors to my website.
It took forever. My pins looked terrible, nobody was seeing them, and I had no schedule for how I was doing anything. And website views really didn't show much action. After two months of pinning manually, I only had 1800 total pageviews. It wasn't working, and there had to be an easier way.
After a fellow blogger friend shared her positive experience with learning Pinterest strategies from Ell Duclos, I decided to take the leap and take Ell's course. I was frustrated by pinning manually, and not getting any real engagement from what I was producing on Pinterest.
Ell's philosophy for her Pinterest course was simple: Create engaging, attractive, clickable pins for your posts, and then use Tailwind to schedule your pins at the most optimal times so they are seen by the largest amount of people. Then, from there, you can sit back and watch the magic happen.
And you know what?
I took Ell's course in March of 2020 and began creating pins like crazy, while learning the ropes with Tailwind. It took me a good 2 weeks to get through the course and another week or so to implement everything. Thanks to this course, Pinterest is the largest source of the traffic to my website. And since learning these tools, I've been able to use them on a regular basis as part of my regular marketing strategy.
Here's the proof!
Here's a screenshot of my Pinterest Analytics from March of 2020. I was still pinning manually and in the process of taking Ell's course.
March 2020 Pinterest Results
Link Clicks: 370
Total Audience: 37.25K
And here's my Pinterest results for the month of April 2020, just one month after taking Ell's course.
April 2020 Pinterest Results
Link Clicks: 3,862 (WHAT?!) It was 370 in March!
Impressions: 291.28k (An increase of 584%)
Total Audience: 244.47k (An increase of 559%! )
Engagements: 13.42k (An increase of 799%! )
My email subscriptions soared, my followers increased on social media, and I had the largest number of pageviews in website history: over 7,500!. Two of those recipes I pinned (gluten-free empanadas and gluten-free coffee cake) went viral on Pinterest.
If you find pinning manually to be extremely painful, I highly recommend using Tailwind to schedule your pins and taking Ell's Pinterest Course. It's saved me from having to spend hours in front of my computer pinning manually and brought me the largest amount of website traffic (and still does!). As I type this, I have multiple pins being shared to multiple boards across multiple groups (called Tailwind Tribes), bringing me traffic, new subscribers, and followers. Work smarter not harder, right?
Update March 2021: Pinterest continues to be a big source of traffic for my website. One year after taking Ell's course, I went from 800 monthly pageviews in February of 2020 to 19,500 pageviews in February of 2021.
I used to think that affiliate marketing was easy enough. You put a link to a product you use into a blog post and people click on it. Right?
I had so much to share with my readers about my favorite kitchen tools, gluten-free products, and travel supplies - but I soon realized that no one was seeing my links, clicking these links, or even realizing the knowledge I had to share.
Enter Cate Rosales - another blogging guru and marketing whiz!
I've been a member of Cate's Becoming A Blogger Facebook Group since last year. She provides free training, resources, opportunities to connect and support other bloggers, and runs quarterly blogging challenges. I took her Blog Traffic Challenge last spring which was super instrumental in keeping my traffic steady after Ell's Pinterest course put me on the map. But it was Cate's Affiliate Marketing Course that let me see how I wasn't maximizing the links I had to offer with others.
Cate's strategies - which focus on solving problems for your audience, have helped me offer solutions to my gluten-free readers based on their own cooking/traveling frustrations, while also helping me keep this blog going with some cash in my pocket every month. Cate shares multiple ways you can incorporate affiliate links, and other networks that provide affiliate links (Because Amazon isn't the only one!)
Thanks to Cate's course, my affiliate income through Amazon has tripled, which helps cover the costs for me to run this website, my marketing needs, and invest in the next steps of my business.
This website is currently hosted on Bluehost which I have used for more than three years without issue. Bluehost is a cheap and easy web hosting platform if you are just starting out. While no web hosting platform is perfect, I've never had any issues or problems thus far with my website. Their customer service was attentive to the one small problem I had with logging into my account, and it was resolved within 24 hours.
Also, hosting your own website, and not doing it through WordPress, gives you authority over the name! If you sign up for an account with WordPress, you'll have to include the word "WordPress" in your blog's URL. That right away tells any visitor that your website isn't even your own. Make it official by choosing your own domain name with Bluehost!
Eventually, I will upgrade to a stronger host when my monthly views increase to a higher capacity, but for my purposes, Bluehost has served me well. My website is on the high average for speed, without any security problems or threats, and has never crashed.
While you want to make sure you have a following and some traffic before investing in a graphic designer, I highly recommend the work of Jena from Sundai Studio. Jena and I had a mutual connection through our parents - her Mom went to college with my Dad. I reached out to Jena after viewing her work online and also learning that she specifically works with women in the online wellness space. Jena's friendly nature, intuitive creativity, and passion for design made working with her an absolute joy.
Jena took my first logo and updated it to reflect the style, colors, and mood I had always pictured my website having. She also designed my Instagram story icons, Facebook cover images, and helped put everything into place here on WordPress so I didn't have to spend hours trying to figure it out myself! Jena has a multitude of packages that she offers, including a la carte services, rebranding, logo packages, and even Canva templates that you can customize yourself.
Find examples of how Jena helped my business here, and check out all of her wonderful services. Please note my recommendation here is 100% honest and heartfelt - Jena is truly a wonderful human being. I have no affiliate sales or commission with Jena or Sundai Studio. I have recommended her work to fellow blogger friends and they reported back with praise, positivity, and happiness!
Here's an example of how Jena updated my website logo:
Business Coaches & Podcasts
If you are looking for advice and information about blogging, entrepreneurship, building a brand, or social media tips, check out these amazing FEMALES! These are my favorite coaches & business gurus: Jenna Kutcher, Gloria Atanmo, Kelly Trach, and Carrie Veatch.
Jenna Kutcher is an entrepreneur phenomenon. She bought a camera on Craigslist while still working at Target and became a wedding photographer and eventually, millionaire mogul. Her Goal Digger Podcast is packed with marketing tips for growing your email list, succeeding on social media, finding your niche, and growing your brand. I've taken her free mini-courses through her website and subscribe to her email list.
Glo (Aka @glographics on Instagram) is a travel blogger and coach that I've been following personally for over two years. Glo's passion for educating others on difficult topics, standing up for her beliefs, and embracing life with a zest for joy make her one of the most dynamic individuals out there! Glo is hilarious, open, and has a warmth about her you just love. I've gotten to connect with Glo a few times over social media, and let's just say if I ever meet her in person, I will probably cry. She's incredible! Glo's resources, ebooks (like The Million Dollar Shortcut) detail every step that got her from living on pennies to becoming a millionaire. Her blog is a wealth of knowledge and I also subscribe to Glo's email list.
Kelly Trach is a business coach who through her own failures at business realized the secret to success was by monetizing her zone of genius. Through her podcast, coaching services, and ebooks, she helps women build businesses online. Kelly is full of energy, ideas, and is even writing a book, which I can't wait to read. I have bought and used Kelly's eBook The Launch BluePrint which was full of information on how to create courses and 1:1 services. I also did a 1-hour coaching call with Kelly, which you can hear right here on Kelly's podcast. Check out Kelly's website for her full list of services!
Carrie and I connected on Instagram over two years ago, when she was running a gluten-free website. She's since transitioned to helping women shift their mindsets to bring in clients and make money doing so. I took her "If I'm So Smart, Why Can't I Sign More Clients Online?" course and it was seriously helpful in creating clear, practical steps to create my offers for my business. Carrie's work has helped me retrain my brain, to feel empowered and excited about what I can offer people, and helped me bring in my first clients in my gluten-free consulting. You can listen to Carrie's podcast here, join her Facebook group, or sign up to work with Carrie as a coach to truly set yourself (and your mind!) free right here.
I absolutely love reading. I have found much inspiration for beginning my blog, traveling the world, and stepping outside of my comfort zone in the pages of these books.
This book embodies what a fellow hiker on the Camino de Santiago in Spain told me about Americans: "You all live to work. Here in Spain, we work to LIVE." Tim Ferriss shares how he escape the 9-5 chaos and embracing a new lifestyle. If you are interested in becoming a digital nomad, working for yourself, or embracing an entirely new mindset for work, this book is full of tips to do just that!
A lot of what held me back from starting a side business was the belief that I couldn't make any money from it. This book destroys roadblocks you might be putting up in regards to making money - and how it's a lot easier than you think!
This insightful book looks at how our emotions have a huge effect on our ability to embrace change and step outside our comfort zones. It focuses on self-acceptance, and how our inner thoughts and feelings have a correlation with our successes in life. An extremely helpful read!
When an American couple has had enough of working constantly with no fun, they quit their jobs and move to Costa Rica. Hilarity, life lessons, and growth ensue - and this book is one I couldn't put down! Super fun read but also packed with inspiration.
I highly recommend keeping a planner or bullet journal to map out your blog work every week. You can also try batching your content or work on certain days of the week, or even responding to emails only once or twice a week. I try to use certain days of the week for certain tasks, such as Tailwind on Tuesdays, and Recipe Testing on Thursdays/Fridays, and Blog Photos on Mondays/Tuesdays. I coordinate this with my own schedule and the times I have available.
Food Photography + Creatives
I use Replica Surfaces to shoot the majority of my food and recipe photos, and I have an iPhone 12ProMax. I use the Lightroom application for iOS for editing photos, and Canva to create my eBooks, Pinterest pins, and social media graphics. I publish my eBooks to Gumroad for simplicity as it's easy, cheap, and you retain the most amount of cash.
As of August of 2021, I use a Canon EOS Rebel T7 DSLR Camera that I purchased from B&H. I also have a separate 50MM lens (known as the "Nifty Fifty" in the photography world) which I use for the majority of my food photography. I rotate between two tripods - one with a ring light, and the other, higher quality but basic tripod that is specifically for photography.
If there's anything else you have questions about relating to blogging, freelance writing, social media, or running a website, please contact me.
I'm happy to provide more tips and pointers.
Leave a comment below and let me know if this is useful!