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It’s March! Don’t you feel such a renewed sense of energy and motivation? I do! This happens at the change of every season for me. I find myself more excited about all my projects, and more ready to jump into new endeavors. This time around, my newfound inspiration has led led me to look for new income sources. Thanks to my crazy schedule, I have crazy erratic income to match, so I’m always on the hunt for something to help me earn a stable monthly income. Recently, I’ve found it with Patreon.

Like most of you, I’m in the process of becoming financially independent, which is no fun. So, I like to test out a lot of different ways to make money while still allowing myself the freedom to do things I love. I’m a substitute teacher, which is my main source of income, but I’m also a tutor, which pays less, but it’s cash. Then I run this blog, which gives me a decent chunk of change from affiliate marketing. It’s slow to arrive, but it’s so great when it does, because I earned that money helping you guys be the best adults you can be. Which is super fun.

So, the other day I was telling my friend Holly about my erratic income and she was just like, “why don’t you create an account on Patreon?” And I was like… I dunno. So, today I’m going to show you how to set up your account on Patreon, and give you some tips for getting the most people to become your patrons. And then, of course, I’ll pepper this article with buttons you can click to support me on Patreon. After all, I’m giving you all this awesome info!

Become a Patron!

Thanks to my crazy schedule, I have crazy erratic income to match, so I’m always on the hunt for something to help me earn a stable monthly income. Recently, I’ve found it with Patreon!

What is Patreon?

Back in like, Michelangelo times, wealthy people would become patrons of artists, meaning they gave them a stable monthly income to create art for them. That’s basically what Patreon is, but for the modern era. Patreon is a platform that allows creative people to create bonus content for their fans, who pay them on a monthly basis. You’re basically making a subscription content service for yourself. This allows fans to get more behind-the-scenes information on the content creators they love, and it allows the creators to stabilize their erratic income while doing what they love. Which, of course, is the goal for all twenty-somethings who are trying to gain financial independence!

A common misconception about Patreon is that you have to be a visual artist to use it. That’s not the case! Patreon just allows people who don’t earn a stable monthly income a change to change that. There are visual artists, but you will also certainly find writers and bloggers and musicians and anyone with potential for a fan base.

How to Earn a Stable Monthly Income with Patreon

Since so many different people can use Patreon, each type of content creator has different methods available to help them get the most patrons. So, this is going to be some general rules to help the majority of Patreon users.

1. Set Up Your Page Right!

Below are all the parts of your creator page with some tips for how to make the best of them. For some, like creating rewards, I’ll give more details beyond this section, but this is a general overview of how to set up your page!

Connect Social Media

Every content creator, regardless of niche, needs to do this. It gives you the most options for finding people who might want to be your patrons. As of now you can connect Facebook, Twitter, Youtube, and Twitch. However, I recommend promoting every damn place the internet will allow. You never know who might want to help you settle your erratic income!

Choose How Patrons Pay You

Per month or per creation? If you’re trying to earn a stable monthly income or stabilize erratic income, you’ll gravitate toward monthly.  However, Patreon recommends this: if you’re creating at least four posts per month, choose monthly. If it’s less, patrons may not feel they’re getting their money’s worth.

Upload Profile and Cover Photos

Not having either of these makes it look like your page isn’t taken care of. If you can’t be bothered uploading pictures to make your profile look complete, why would patrons think you’ll create quality content for them? This is a good place to put brand images if you have them, as well.

Fill Out Your About Section

Keep this simple! Like with blogging, if readers see a giant chunk of text with no breaks, you’ll lose them immediately. Introduce yourself, explain why you’re on Patreon (what you need the money for) and what your patrons will get for their money. But keep it short. A couple of paragraphs max, especially if you’re using a video, too.

Another tip– avoid needy language. Telling patrons that they’re “supporting” you makes it feel like they’re doing you a favor, when really, you’re doing them a favor by giving them this awesome stuff. It’s not so hard to say no to a favor for a stranger. It’s much more difficult saying no to something you really, really want. So, entice your readers. Don’t beg them for money. That’s GoFundMe.

Another tip- don’t put external links in your about section. Someone on this page is about to give you money. Don’t lead them off this page.

Record Your Intro Video

This is not required, but has been shown to convert more patrons. If you can, why not?! If you choose to make a video, it should be the focal point of your page. Show off your personality! Make people see how funny and charming and goodhearted you are. Make them feel like they’re giving money to a worthy cause. Again though, keep it simple. Don’t keep viewers longer than 3 minutes or so.

Write a Thank-You Message

Though needy language is banned from your About section, your Patreon patrons are indeed helping you earn a stable monthly income. You should thank them! Tell them how grateful you are for them, and what a big hand they have in the success of your brand. After all, without fans, clients, customers, etc., a brand is nothing. So be genuinely grateful.

Become a Patron!


2. Create awesome rewards

After you’ve set up your page to entice readers to help you stabilize your erratic income (though you’ve learned you won’t be phrasing it that way!), it’s time to actually set up your rewards, and your funding goals. Your rewards are what individuals get for becoming your patrons. Your funding goals are rewards that everyone gets when you hit a certain milestone of patronage.

Setting Rewards

There is a setting that allows patrons to donate $1 per month without getting a reward. Unfortunately though, very few people will help you earn a stable income just because they like you. You have to give them something. So, here’s a compilation of the best tips out there for setting Patreon rewards.

1. Create more than one reward. Give the people options! Having multiple reward tiers means you can draw in fans with multiple interests. Do you have different topics on your blog? A reward for each topic!

2. Have some unpaid posts. Engaging with your fans/clients/patrons is the most important part of being a blogger. Building trust is how you get people to buy things from you, take you up on your recommendations, or help you earn a stable monthly income. Patreon is no different! The path to evening out your erratic income is paved with good free stuff for your viewers.

3. Don’t make your rewards a lot of work. The whole point of Patreon is to help creators earn a stable monthly income so they can spend more time doing what they love and less time trying to scrounge up cash. If your rewards are difficult or time consuming for you, they’re not the best you can do. Below are some reward ideas:

  • Access to your idea list– allow viewers to see what’s coming up next on the blog
  • Shout Outs– thank your patrons in your posts, maybe give them a back link if they’re also a blogger.
  • Discounts– if you sell your own products or courses, let your patrons have a discount! They’re already supporting you in another way.
  • Beta Testers– give your patrons exclusive access to products before they’re available on your blog!

Setting Funding Goals

Again, your funding goals are basically bigger rewards that you’re promising patrons once you hit either a certain number of patrons, or a certain amount of money from them. For these, it’s best to put some more effort into them, as they’re a big incentive for patrons to not only give, but give as much as possible. There are essentially two types of funding goals, which I have named myself and explain below.

1)  The Give- This funding goal is when you promise to give something big to your patrons as more of a celebration of hitting a milestone. This one is a bigger incentive for your viewers as it directly gives something to them. For example, when you hit $100 per month, you’ll release a course about XYZ

2) The Get- the second type of funding goal is when you need a certain amount of money in order to get something for your business. Like, when you hit $10 per month you can buy photoshop, which will allow you to increase the quality of your pictures, thereby enhancing your patrons’ experience on your website.

Become a Patron!


3. Launch and Promote

1. Utilize your email list

The people on your email list are the ones most invested your business, as we’ve talked about in part 4 of my blogging series. They have already taken this extra step to get the behind-the-scenes info you share via email, so they’re also likely to participate in other things you have to offer. Again, phrase it like you have more to offer, not like they’re doing you a favor.

2. Utilize your social media

You can connect your Patreon account to your Twitter, Facebook, Youtube, and Twitch. But don’t forget about Instagram, Snapchat (although they say that’s dead) LinkedIn, Pinterest and that new one, Vero. Post your link everywhere. You never know where you’ll find your biggest fans! Or, y’know, fans with the deepest pockets 😉

3. Utilize your family and friends

Here’s a great tip. Set things up so it shows the number of patrons you have, not the amount you’re earning. Now ask five or ten loved ones to each donate $1. Then, it’ll look like you already have a bunch of patrons, and no one will know they’re just doing you a favor, because no one can see they’re giving so little. It’s psychology that people do what they see other people are doing. I guarantee it’ll be harder to get your first patron than your hundredth.

Does Patreon help you stabilize your erratic income? Do you use it to help you earn a stable monthly income? Drop your tips and opinions in the comments!

Last week, I was invited to host an Ask Me Anything session on AMAfeed.

It was so fun! You guys got to ask me anything you wanted about all the things we talk about here on Uninspired. That means we covered dating and love, food and DIY, some money stuff, and lots of mental health stuff. Over 100 people showed up to the session, and dozens of people asked questions. I was so impressed by how thoughtful you were, and I can’t wait to host another Ask Me Anything in the future!

Since it was my first time, things didn’t go 100% smoothly. I was flustered because I was live, I didn’t know you could answer questions ahead of time, etc. So, this post is going to do a few things. First, I’m going to explain how you should host an Ask Me Anything, so you can do one yourself. It’s a great way to gain some exposure and show off your expertise! Then, I’m going to answer all the questions that I didn’t get to answer in my session.

If you missed the session, comments are now locked but you can still see all the questions here.

What is Ask Me Anything?

Ask Me Anything is a “crowdsourced interview,” as they call it. It means that people ask other people to host a session answering questions about whatever the host is an expert in. Anyone can host a session, even if you haven’t been personally invited.

To start:

Make an account on AMAfeed.com and hit “Create AMA” in the top right corner. Then, it’ll prompt you to choose a channel. The channel is the category your Ask Me Anything belongs in. I put mine in the Blogging AMA because I was talking about my blog, but it may have also fallen into the health, dating, love or uni channels. That’s up to you! Then, you have to know the date and time you plan to be online to answer your questions and potential follow-ups. Make sure you leave enough time! An hour and a half was NOT enough for me to answer all the questions I got.

Next, you’ll be prompted to create your headline.

This is where you tell people who you are, and why they should ask you anything! My headline was “I’m a twenty-something marriage and family therapy intern who blogs about helping YOU become the best adult possible. We talk about mental health, dating, personal finance, food, and DIY. Ask Me Anything!” It was a little long, but it accurately described what I could help people with! Then, after your headline, you can describe yourself in more detail. You’ll be asked to add “proof,” meaning proof that you are who you say you are. This is most usually a photo of you, holding something relevant to your Ask Me Anything.

Once you create your AMA, they’ll do a little promotion for you on their own social media. But you should do your own, too! Schedule your AMA a few days in advance so you have time for social media promotion.

Related: How to Promote on Different Social Media Sites

Preparing For Your AMA:

You’ll get an email from Ask Me Anything every time someone leaves you a comment, and you can answer them any time, even before you’re live. This will help you keep your workload light while you’re live, so you can focus on having conversations with people who ask you followups. Building bonds is the biggest part of building a business like a blog, so being able to have those conversations is huge!

That’s where I messed up with this Ask Me Anything, because I didn’t realize you could answer questions in advance. Next time I host one, I’ll be sure to keep this in mind so I can have more full conversations with you guys!

So, what kinds of questions did people ask me?

They ran the gamut from cryptocurrency to verbal abuse. It was seriously so cool. I got to exercise all my skills, and you guys got some really valuable information to help go through your twenties more smoothly. However, like I said, there were some questions I didn’t get to answer because I gave myself such a small window for doing so. Again, if you want to see all the questions that did get answered, click here. But right now, I’m going to answer all the ones I didn’t get to last Thursday.


1. “How do you deal with an insecure, verbally abusive spouse?”

This is a really, really, important question but unfortunately also a very difficult one to answer. It’s almost a good thing I missed this during the Ask Me Anything, because my answer would have had to be rushed, and now I can answer to the best of my ability.

The human in me wants to tell this verbal abuse victim to just get the heck out of this unhealthy relationship, but therapists don’t give advice like that. As I said in another question, what if the woman tries to leave as per my advice, (I’m assuming the victim is a woman and the abuser is the man, which may be wrong) and she gets caught by her abuser and he goes wild and hurts her? The client is the expert on his or her own life, so first, together, the therapist and client have to figure out what this cleint needs and wants from therapy. “Dealing with” an insecure, verbally abusive spouse can mean lots of things. Does she want help safely leaving him? Or she might want me to change him or fix him. Does she just want the relationship to change?

So first, I would urge her to think about why she is in this relationship.

What does she gain from being with this person who seems to beat her down emotionally? Depending on my theoretical orientation, which I haven’t formally chosen yet since I’m still a student, I might have her think about her family of origin. Did she see this type of behavior between her parents and assume that’s what a relationship was? Did her upbringing somehow teach her that she wasn’t worthy of a partner who treated her kindly? Is she caught between something that her culture says is right and what she feels is right?

Once questions like this have been answered (and appropriately dealt with since they can bring up some tough stuff), she might have a better idea of what kind of work she wants to do. If she decides to leave, that’s fine. We can work on a safety plan, bring her support system into session to bring them up to speed and ask them for whatever she may need, etc. If she decides to stay, the real work begins.

As a couples counselor, my job is to repair the relationship, not either of the people.

So, marriage therapy wouldn’t “deal with” the abusive spouse. I would urge both parties to change how they relate to each other, even the one who’s been abused. If that sounds crazy, and that person can’t let go of the abuse and forgive, they may not be ready for couples counseling. In that case, they need to either end the relationship, or do some more exploration. Or, the woman could urge her partner to go to individual counseling if she wants him to deal with his issues on his own. However, this might not work because if the abuser isn’t motivated to change, he won’t participate fully, and she won’t get the results she wants. Couples therapy is sometimes more effective because it can be motivating for the one with the more problematic behavior to see that the other partner is also willing to make changes.

If they do feel ready to make changes in their relationship, the therapist can help them with lots of trust exercises, communication exercises, and more. I hope this helps, and best of luck to you or the couple you had in mind!

2. “What insights can you share to everyone about mental health issues and how to deal with people having them?”

That’s a super broad question! It’s highly, highly dependent on which mental illness you’re talking about, as well as who the person is beyond the disorder.

An insight I don’t think a lot of people have is that most mental illness is on a spectrum. So, a person with a mental disorder is, for the most part, just a regular person who is further on one particular spectrum than most people. For example: being further long on the scale for attention-seeking behavior becomes Histrionic Personality Disorder at a certain point. So, you’re still dealing with a whole person with a lot of other traits aside from their disorder. That means that everyone is going to react differently to their mental health issues. Someone who is diagnosed with Generalized Anxiety Disorder but who is also a Type A personality is going to respond very differently to the disorder than someone who would already take any excuse to stay home, ya know?

Point is: if you love someone with a mental health issue, you really should ask them what they need from you. There isn’t one specific answer for everyone.

I hope tha answers your question, and thanks for joining my Ask Me Anything!

3. “What are your thoughts on online dating? Would you recommend this? How about speed dating and blind dates?”

Ahh, if you spend any time at Uninspired, you know I have strong feelings about online dating!

I used to love using free online dating apps like Tinder and Pleny of Fish. I thought it was a great self-esteem boost to open my phone and see like, ten guys who thought I was pretty. But soon, I started to notice I actually wasn’t feeling that great about myself, and it was because the guys on these dating sites weren’t really trying to get to know me. They didn’t want to date me. Free dating apps aren’t really dating apps, they’re hookup apps.

I’m sure paid sites like Match.com or Zoosk are different. When you’re paying for a site, you want results. You want to find love. You’re not gonna fuck around like you do when you don’t have any stake in it. But, most users are on the mainstream apps because they’re free. And on those sites, there is an astounding lack of humanity. You can read my full opinion on that here.

Related: The Tinder Files: Best and Worst Pickup Lines of the Month

4. “You do have a lot to offer to your readers and now as an adult, what are the things that disappoints you and how about the things that surprises you?”

Thanks so much! And that’s an awesome question. I think we can all agree that there’s one big thing that both surprises and disappoints the majority of brand new adults, and that is how damn expensive life is. Not only that, but it’s shocking and disappointing how hard it is to get money when literally everyone needs it to survive.

Honestly, that’s why I started writing Uninspired, which has led me to hosting his Ask Me Anything in the first place 🙂 I know a lot of people are disappointed or surprised at what adult life turned out to be like, and sometimes that can make you feel pretty….

*uninspired.*

Sorry. So, I write about a lot of things that I think might help young adults get through that disappointment, or react well when they’re surprised about some stupid adulting crap. The biggest thing for that is mental health, because if you take good care of yourself, you’re already on the road to handling shitty things better. Then, we handle the shitty things better. I can make you laugh about shitty dating situations, teach you how to make more money, or how to save more money, or how to cook better.

5. “It’s a pretty cool blog site. Why Uninspired? What keeps you inspired to do all these blogs?”

Thanks so much! I called the blog Uninspired because the idea to start it came from me feeling pretty uninspired about adult life. I was in this cycle of just working and going to school, then going to sleep and doing it all over again. It was so monotonous, and it didn’t feel like it would never end. I knew I couldn’t be the only person out there who felt a little uninspired when it came to where my life seemed to be going, so I decided to immerse myself in all the things that made me feel inspired again. You can see the full story on my Start Here page.

What keeps me inspired to do all these things and keep blogging is the fact that I genuinely love everything that I do. I’m on the go from 8am to 10pm every weekday, and it’s stressful, but my heart is full and my mind is challenged, which makes me happy. As long as I make time for self-care, I’ll be okay 🙂 Hopefully, you have things in your life that help you feel the same way. Thanks for joining my Ask Me Anything, and sorry my answer was late!

6. “You seem to be all over the place (in a good way) back in college, how did you get to manage doing all those things?”

I think this was the answer to one of my other questions over at the official Ask Me Anything, but it has become relevant once again: PLANNERS PLANNERS PLANNERS!

Seriously, I put literally everything in my planner. At this point, with all I use it for, it’s really like a bullet journal. I keep track of when I’m going to do homework assignments, when I’m going to eat, what my priorities for the week are. I plan how much money I’m going to save that month, how many blog posts I’ll be writing, and goals for the week and month. Honestly, I even keep track of what my paychecks should be just in case there’s a discrepancy. (I also have a blog planner that’s totally separate.)

7. “How often do you cook? Did you also learn or studied cooking? And what is your favorite recipe?”

Lemme tell ya a little about the reputation cooking has in my family. My dad’s side of the family is all Italian. My dad will talk all day and all night about my grandmother’s cooking, or his aunt’s cooking, and how they were so amazing because they didn’t measure their ingredients. They didn’t use recipes. They cooked aaaaaall day on Sunday and the house smelled sooooo good when he woke up in the morning. But then he married my mom, who hates cooking. So, I grew up somewhere in between “you should learn to cook like an Italian grandma” and “don’t let the patriarchy keep ya down, order takeout.” And I like takeout, so…

Nobody ever gave me any training in cooking. And I hate cooking for when I’m hungry. I mostly cook for fun, and I’ve learned to cook in my spare time using Pinterest recipes when I’m in the mood. Which is highly impractical, but makes a lot of sense based on how I was raised. Cooking is a hobby for me, not a necessity.

Here’s a link to my favorite recipe right now, for stuffed spaghetti squash. It’s really awesome because it’s super heathy but also hearty and delicious.

8. “What is your typical day like? Do you follow a routine?”

Oooohhh I love talking about my schedule. I think routine is super important. I don’t think you should do the same thing every single day, but knowing what to expect (generally) is super healthy. While each of my weekdays aren’t the same as each other, all my Mondays are the same. All my Tuesdays are the same. Etc.

On Monday, all I do is internship from 11am to 7PM. That’s nice because it gives me the chance to sleep in the first day after the weekend! It’s a great way to ease into the week, although it’s a long day full of intense therapy sessions.

Tuesday and Wednesday are very similar. I have internship at 11 again, but I usually get up around 8 so I have time to blog. After internship, I go straight to class, any maybe grab some food on the way. Then, I’m in class until around 10PM. Those are super long days, but incredibly rewarding because I get to see clients and also learn how to help them more effectively. And see my classmates, who are awesome 🙂

Thursday and Friday are my money-making days. I substitute teach from 8-3, and then I tutor in the late afternoons. Tutoring is a great side hustle because it’s cash and really impressive hourly rates! Maybe I’ll write a post about that sometime.

So, those are all the questions I didn’t get to answer during my Ask Me Anything session!

If you have more, please don’t hesitate to ask me followups. Or, you can ask your own questions in the comments! I seriously love hearing from you guys, so don’t be shy!

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“Affiliate marketing programs for beginners” refers to the post being for beginners, not the programs.

Once you start, you’re kind of just doin’ it like the rest of us. There are no networks that are better or worse for people just starting out at this. That said, there is a learning curve. But you’ll do great if you soak in all the juicy info in this post.

The Affiliate Marketing Programs for Beginners segment of Uninspired’s blogaversary (the last one!) will give you a list of affiliate networks and programs to join, everything you need in order to approach brands, and some tips for making the sale!

I’m doing this little mini-series because Uninspired has just turned a year old, and it’s been the most fun year with you guys. I’ve learned so much, and I want to share that knowledge with you so that YOU can become a blogger and make money while enjoying the things you love. So far, I’ve showed you how to create your site, design it to your taste, write your posts with SEO in mind, and then promote your posts using social media and link building. Now, we’re finally going to talk about affiliate marketing programs for beginners, or, how this all translates into money for you.

This last segment of the blogaversary series will make you FEEL like less of a beginner by showing you all the affiliate marketing programs for beginners to join, how to approach brands you love, how to create a media kit, and more!

Here’s the outline of the whole course, so you can find what you need when ya need it:

Creating Your Site

  • WordPress.com vs. WordPress.org
  • Web Hosting
  • Legal

Designing Your Site

  • Themes
  • Branding
  • Plugins and Widgets

Writing SEO-Friendly Blog Posts

  • What is SEO?
  • Anatomy of an SEO-Friendly Post
  • High Quality Photos

Promote Your Blog Post

  • Social Media
  • Pinterest (not social media!)
  • Link Building

Affiliate Marketing Programs for Beginners– YOU ARE HERE

  • What Affiliate Marketing Is & How It Works
  • Networks to Join
  • Media Kits
  • How to Approach A Brand

Don’t have time to read all five parts right now? No problem! Just download the FREE e-book so you have the whole thing in one convenient location to refer back to whenever you want! Enter your email below so I know where to send it:

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Uninspired’s Blogaversary Part V:

Affiliate Marketing Programs for Beginners

So first I guess I should start off by explaining what affiliate marketing is, and then we’ll get to the actual affiliate marketing programs for beginners thing.

Affiliate marketing is when you have a partnership with a company where you get a portion of the profit for sales you make for them. For example, I’m an affiliate for Smile Brilliant, an awesome teeth whitening company that I love to use (I drink a lotta coffee). They asked me to write a post about how awesome they are, and in exchange they’d give me a commission for any sales they get from that blog post. They also gave me the product for free so I could use it for blogging purposes.

A lot of bloggers will tell you free products don’t pay the bills, and not to accept partnerships for free product. I disagree. If you use or want the product anyway, getting it for free is just as cool as making the money you would’ve spent on it. 

Just some lingo you might want to know–

CPM, CPC and CPA. These refer to how you get paid.

CPM stands for cost per mille, and means that you get paid whenever someone sees the ad. This doesn’t happen much, because it doesn’t necessarily mean the person is going to buy the product.

CPC is cost per click, which means you get paid when someone clicks on your ad. Not many reputable companies do this either, recognizing people could just get their friends to click over and over, or go on Facebook groups and ask for clicks.

The one you’ll probably deal with most is CPA, or cost per action. You get paid when someone takes action as a result of the ad they saw on your blog.

Now, picture this scenario:

A reader clicks your affiliate link, but they close their browser to think about the purchase before buying. A few days later, they go straight back to that site, not through your link, and purchase the product. Do you lose that affiliate sale?

Not usually!

Most affiliate programs use little things called cookies. Cookies are tiny little pieces of data that store your information from one web-browsing session to another. So, if your reader views that page again and purchases something a few days later, the cookie will remember that they came from your site, and you’ll still make the sale. An average length for affiliate link cookies is 30 days.

And one more thing before I get you started–

I want to remind you about having an affiliate disclosure available on your blog. It’s just a little legal doohickey that lets people know you’re only posting about things you truly support, and you’re not just accepting every ad request for your own gain. And this should absolutely be true. If you’re not in this to help people and lend your true expertise, blogging is not the side hustle for you, friend.

Revisit Part I and scroll toward the bottom to find where we talked about affiliate disclosures, and generate one now. I’ll wait.

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.

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Okay, now that that’s all squared away, we’ll start talking about some affiliate marketing programs for beginners to join. I’ll start with a list of big networks you should know about.

Affiliate Marketing Programs for Beginners to Join:

There are a bunch of affiliate networks out there which partner with as many brands/affiliate programs as they can, and offer them all to you on one convenient site. You sign up for the network, and then the application process for each brand is much easier because all your information is already in the network. Here are the ones I’m a part of, and some of their partnerships.

  • Awin– Swarovski, Ferrari, FabFitFun, Moleskin, StubHub
  • Share A Sale– Wayfair, Craftsy, PopSockets, Reebok, Pura Vida
  • CJ Affiliate– Nike, Michael Kors, Vineyard Vines, Hobby Lobby
  • ShopStyle Collective– Sephora, Forever 21, Nordstrom, Saks 5th Avenue
  • Amazon Associates– gives you a small commission on anything on Amazon!
  • Google Adsense- chooses their own ads to put on your site, and gives you a commission for them.



Once you’re partnered with a brand, you get your links.

You’ll get text links or you can make deep links (I’ll explain) and you’re privy to their “creative” or their banners and sidebar/footer ads. The banners and sidebar ads can be added to your site via html. See that ad for Awin I’ve put right above this paragraph? I did that by copying the html for the ad I liked best on their “my creative” page, and pasting it in the “text” tab on my “edit post” page.

You can also add ads to your sidebar or footer. Go to your customization tab on your WP dash, choose “widgets,” and add a “custom html” widget in either your sidebar or footer. You can paste your code there, and it’ll pop right up on your site!

Links have a little more nuance. It’s cool, you got this, that’s why this is affiliate marketing programs for beginners. Some of the networks will give you links to the brands’ homepages, but they’ll also offer deep links. A deep link allows you to have an affiliate link for any page on a brand’s website. So, you go to the deep links page, enter the URL of the page you want a link to, and an affiliate link will be generated for you. Then, even if you link the reader to an informational page, you’ll still get the sale if they end up buying.

Great–you picked some brands from the affiliate networks. But what if you can’t find that one brand you’d LOVE to work with?

No problem, just approach them! Here are some tips for approaching a brand/company:

Size doesn’t matter as much as you think!

Well, not in this scenario. Just because your blog doesn’t have a lot of views yet doesn’t mean you won’t get the gig. Most brands would rather see a hundred super loyal followers than a thousand followers who never actually engage with content. That’s one of the reasons why like-for-like is a no-no. Blogging is all about building relationships. The better you are at that, the more success you’ll have on all fronts, including getting brands to connect with you.

Have a media kit.

A media kit is the resume of the blogging world. You can get great media kit templates on, you guessed it, Canva! What a lifesaver. Here are all the sections I have on mine, and what they’re all for:

About the Blogger

Should give a short, concise description of who you are and why you blog. Just like a resume, tailor it for who you’re talking to. If you’re pitching Forever 21, mention your deep love for fast fashion. If you’re pitching StubHub, it’s worth mentioning that you’ve been to thirty concerts this year. Etc.

About the Blog

This is where you pitch your blog’s purpose, and why that fits the purpose of the brand you’re pitching. This might require a little research on your part. What’s their mission statement? What are they trying to do, and how are your goals aligned?

Social Media Stats

Speaks for itself. Just be honest, because it’s easy enough to find you and check.

Services Offered

This is where you list what you offer advertisers. Do you run giveaways? Post reviews? Sell space on your sidebar? Put all of these in this section, along with your prices.

Pricing is a tricky thing for bloggers because comparatively speaking, blogging is a new profession. That, paired with how taboo it is to talk about money makes for a really difficult situation for us. But just so you know, if you’re writing a blog post for a company, $100 for every 10,000 page views per month is the generally accepted rule. 4,000 views = $40. 20,000 views = $200. You get the idea.

The PR people who contact you will try to tell you they don’t have a budget and you’re being ridiculous by asking so much, but your time and work are worth something. Don’t sell yourself short. You can certainly barter and like I said, don’t be shamed into not accepting free product if you’d use it. Just NEVER accept a “discount” on a product so you’re still paying for it AND helping that company out by reviewing it. 

Demographics

Who reads your blog? You can find this information in Google Analytics. What gender reads your blog more? How old is your average reader? Where do they live?

Contact Details

In this section, list everywhere you can be found! Your website, email, Twitter, Instagram, Facebook page, Pinterest, etc. Wherever you can be found on the web, put it here.

Send a professional and personal message.

Along with your media kit, you’ll want to send a professional message to the person receiving it. Here are some tips for that:

  • Figure out the name of the person you’re emailing. Dear sir or madam doesn’t cut it in the blogging world where personality is your greatest asset. Usually, you can find the company on social media and ask for a contact
  • In that same vein, research the specific person you should get in touch with. Don’t email Michael Kors himself and ask to be an affiliate. Find their PR person, marketing associate, brand ambassador etc.
  • Don’t send a whole cover letter in an email, because these people get hundreds of messages like your a day, but make sure you send a little paragraph that summarizes who you are, why you love their brand, and why they should work with you. One paragraph. 5-7 sentences.
  • Have a professional email signature with contact information and a blog link for easy access.

 

If you follow this advice, you’ll be golden!

Well, that’s the end of the Affiliate Marketing Programs for Beginners segment of my Blogaversary series, but it’s also the end of the series! I’ve had so much fun writing out all these tips for you. It’s been a trip down memory lane, and it’s made me excited for the future– the future of Uninspired, and the future for your new blog!

If you have any questions about anything in this segment, or any of the other Blogaversary posts, please feel free to shoot me an email at myuninspiredemail@gmail.com. Happy blogging!

This last segment of the blogaversary series will make you FEEL like less of a beginner by showing you all the affiliate marketing programs for beginners to join, how to approach brands you love, how to create a media kit, and more!

Welcome to the second to last installment of Uninspired’s anniversary series! Today we’re learning about where to promote your blog post.

Before we get into how to promote your blog post, let me be all misty-eyed and talk about my purpose and all that.

I started Uninspired to help twenty-somethings be the best versions of themselves. Adulting is hard, but I’ve got tricks up my sleeve to make it easier for you. That’s why we talk about easy and nutritious recipes (so you don’t starve when you’re off that meal plan), making and saving money (so someday you’ll be able to move out), and dating (because, well, that’s freakin’ hard).

Can you guess which of those I get the most questions about?

I’m guessing you guessed it. It’s making and saving money. So, for Uninspired’s birthday, I put together a GIGANTIC, five-part guide to using blogging for some extra money. So far, you should’ve created a site that’s compatible with your goals, made it pretty and written your first blog post, optimizing it for SEO. Now we’re gonna talk about another way to promote your blog post– spreading it all over the web.

 

The fourth installment of Uninspired's Blogaversary series is all about how to promote your blog post! You'll learn the ins and outs of all the main social media sites (and Pinterest, though it's not a social media site!) and a list of all the places you should promote that post! Happy blogging!

Here’s the outline of the series, complete with links:

Creating Your Site

  • WordPress.com vs. WordPress.org
  • Web Hosting
  • Legal

Designing Your Site

  • Themes
  • Branding
  • Plugins and Widgets

Writing SEO-Friendly Blog Posts

  • What is SEO?
  • Anatomy of an SEO-Friendly Post
  • High Quality Photos

Promote Your Blog Post– YOU ARE HERE

  • Social Media
  • Pinterest (not social media!)
  • Link Building

Affiliate Marketing

  • Disclosures
  • Approaching Brands
  • Media Kits
  • Networks to Join

If you don’t have enough time to read all this right now, that’s cool! You’ve got a lot on your plate. Just drop your email address below, and I’ll send you a gorgeous e-book with all the same information so you can save it and read it on your own time.

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Uninspired’s Blogaversary Part IV:

Promote Your Blog Post

I’ll say it flat out– my friends and family give exactly 0 fucks about Uninspired. They’re stuck on how they have one of those friends who takes lots of food pics and has a ~personal brand.~ So I’ll be the first to tell you promotion is hard, especially without a circle who understands/cares what you’re doing. That means you really need to find other bloggers to exchange ideas with. For one thing, you’ll have someone who doesn’t see this hobby as basic or nerdy. Second, blogging friends are great accountability partners, and it’s just plain friendship! No one’s in a spot to pass that up.

Now we can talk about where to promote your blog post. I’ll start with social media sites, then non-social media, and then other blogs. Enjoy!

Social Media

The most important advice I can give you about how to promote your blog post on social media is this: do not engage in like for like, follow for follow, etc. I can’t stress that enough. It’s an easy way to gain followers/likes, but they’re not real.

Example: the big scary man who runs Death To Ponies and Unicorns just liked your Facebook page, Ponies and Unicorns Unlimited hoping you’d like his back. But he’s not going to read your content, and you won’t read his. He has no reason to click your affiliate links and vice versa. You guys have nothing to offer each other.

Plus, everyone can see through the thin veil of like-for-like. When you have a million followers but only six likes on your last ten pieces of actual content, it’s clear. And that one real viewer who genuinely enjoyed your stuff will probably end up thinking you don’t care about your audience. So please, earn your numbers. You’ll feel better about yourself, and you’ll actually make a difference for your readers and yourself.

Another tip about how to promote your blog post on any social media– there are scheduling sites that allow you to set up your content ahead of time. This allows you to keep life flowing smoothly and still get posts out at high-traffic times. I use Hootsuite for this, but another popular one is Buffer. They both have free versions.

Now let’s talk specific sites.

Facebook

On Facebook, I do not suggest that your promote your blog post on your personal page. How annoying is that girl that sells protein powder or purses on her Facebook? Don’t be her. Instead, start a business page. Invite your personal friends to like it, so you know you’re only sharing your content with the friends who support your business.

A few ways to win Facebook– Only ask friends in your target audience for likes. College bloggers– don’t invite Aunt Marge, even if she’ll like every post. If Facebook sees Gen X, that’s who they’ll suggest your page to. Gen X isn’t wondering how to survive a frat party, so you’ll miss out on well-deserved traffic.

The Facebook algorithm is just general nonsense. The more likes you get, the more they’ll show your posts. But obviously, you won’t get likes if they’re not showing your post. So, it’s frustrating, but don’t be discouraged. When the likes do start rollin’ in, you’ll know they’re real and you’ll be happier because you worked so hard for ’em.

More Facebook tips– Share content 1-2 times per day. Make it a nice mixture of yours and other people’s. Engage HEAVILY in blogging Facebook groups. There are a TON of FB groups to promote your blog post, ask questions, gain followers, and more.

Here are some great FB groups you can ask to join:

Boost Your Blog– run by Helene Sula, one of my favorite bloggers. Her group is HUGE and has daily threads highly focused on real engagement rather than like-for-like.

Bloggers Share & Engage– this one doesn’t have threads, you can post anything anytime!

Make Your Blog Beautiful–  Sometimes blogger/admins get super busy and forget to post their threads, but this group has never once missed a day!

Girl Blogging Sharebears– a really close-knit group of silly, creative ladies.

Blogging Babes and Business Bosses– This group has Motivate Me Monday, where we talk about goals for the week. It’s great for accountability!

Bloggers Supporting Bloggers– These threads have hundreds of comments! It’s easy to get lost, but it’s also hundreds of opportunities to get noticed!

Twitter

I’ll be honest, people are in a fast-paced frame of mind on Twitter. They want short sentences, gifs, and memes, not a 1,000 word blog post (which is ideal, as we learned in part III). So tweets leading to long reads don’t get clicked much.

BUT– I get more engagement in general on Twitter than any other site. I have the most followers and conversations, and I feel generally closer with people. Use Twitter to build relationships. Be nice to people. Send love to their blogs and they’ll send it back.

I use Tweepi to find relevant people to follow. You get recommendations based on your audience’s hashtags and similar accounts. For example, one of the accounts I said was like mine was Common White Girl– she has a lot of twenty-something followers. Some of the hashtags I’ve put in recently were #finalsweek #avocadotoast and #freshmanatlife. I also have unfollow recommendations based on who hasn’t followed me back, doesn’t tweet often, etc.

Instagram

I don’t have Instagram for my blog for a few reasons. First, branding is like, 98% of Instagram. Now that I have a nice camera and Creative Cloud, I might think about it, but I’ve got my hands a little full with my other social medias. It’s a good idea to give your all to a couple sites, not do a shitty job juggling them all.

It also really bugs me that I can’t put a link in a caption. The photo becomes irrelevant as soon as you change the link in your bio. And Instagram is run by Facebook, so they have another ridiculous algorithm. It seems like a lot of work for little reward in my opinion. But, a lot of bloggers seem to love Instagram, so if that’s where you want to promote your blog post, here’s a link to Helene Sula’s library of Instagram growth posts. She loves Instaram, and knows it super well.

Bloglovin

Between all these different ways bloggers throw information at your face all the time, there had to be a way to just get the content straight from all the blogs you love, right to one common feed. That’s Bloglovin. Connect your site, and your posts will automatically go there! You can also get a cute little Bloglovin widget for your blog, which readers can just click to follow you!



Non-Social Media

Email List

So, what’s the difference between your email list and all these other ways to shove information down people’s throats??

You own your email list. If Zuckerberg got arrested tomorrow for selling our personal information and Facebook tanked, you’d lose all your likes. But you’d have your email list. Your email list is the only promotional tool you have that isn’t at the mercy of someone else’s algorithm. So really, really use that. You can promote your blog post on it, notify readers of sales, freebies, and more! Remember– these people signed up for your list because they wanted to hear from you. So don’t disappoint! Give them your best stuff. Reward them for being your most loyal readers.

How do you get people to join your email list, you ask? You give them a freebie!

I gotta say, I’m tired of bloggers saying you’ll get people to join your email list with a checklist or worksheet. No one’s gonna cough up their email address for a checklist of ten things you should do before bed. These are your best customers! The ones willing to give you their email address because they like what you have to say so much! Do right by them. Don’t give them a cheesy checklist. Don’t ask them to join just to be notified when you want to promote your blog post. You can do better. Give them something for free that they would gladly pay for.

In he past I’ve given my readers a recipe e-book full of like, twenty recipes that are easy, impressive looking, and nutritious. Most of these recipes aren’t on the blog, so it’s A TON of super exclusive information. Plus, even the ones that are on the blog can be printed and stored in one pretty booklet.

I could make you sign up to get a checklist with what I’m about to say next, but I won’t cause I like ya. So, to pick your freebie, you have to ask yourself these questions: what problem can I solve for my readers? What could I give them that would really show off the value of my site? Below are some popular ideas.

  • E-books– Canva has great templates
  • E-mail course– give readers information on how to do something over  5-7 days
  • Webinar- use Google Hangouts or ClickMeetin
  • A Toolkit page on your blog that’s password protected; readers get the password by signing up
  • A Content Upgrade– offer a better version of something. My offering to give you a more convenient e-book version of this mini-series when you sign-up for my email list is a content upgrade.

Now that you have these readers hooked with your freebie, you can use your email list to promote your blog post, remind them of sales at your affiliate sites, and more. Get your mailing list going for free at Mailerlite. A lot of people will tell you to go for ConvertKit or Mailchimp. I tried both– Convertkit isn’t free and Mailchip is harder to understand. Go Mailerlite for sure!

Reddit

Stuff from Reddit goes viral constantly. Memes start here. Your blog can get famous here.

There’s also a blogging subreddit, or basically a little community, where you can give and get blogging advice, and promote your blog post. You can find that here!

Reddit can also provide inspiration for posts! What’s trending? What are people reading about and talking about?

Flipboard

Sumo has provided me with a social share button for Flipboard for forever, and I had no idea what it was until very recently. Turns out, it has the power to drive a lot of traffic! It’s a news site that gathers articles from all over the web, and shows you ones you’ll like based on preferences you set. If you’re a blogger, you can add your own content so it’ll show up in people’s feeds.

Pinterest

Okay, this is a big one. Again, Pinterest is not social media. Pinterest is actually a search engine. So, how do you make the most of it to promote your blog post? Well, first you need a good, pinnable image. So, head to Canva.

Canva has pre-set sizes for ideal photos on lots of sites. They have a size for Pinterest (735 x 1102), but if you want to stand out, you actually have to go bigger. Use the “infographic,” size which is 800 x 2000. Now, choose a branded photo, and add text. When you’re finished designing and making it pretty, download it as a .jpg. Pinterest only accepts .jpg files. Then, add it to your blog post wherever you deem fit.

Now, how do you use this image to promote your blog post?! Well, if you got Sumo, which I recommend a thousand percent, you should have social share buttons on the side of our blog post. When you click the Pinterest one, all the images in your post will pop up, including that one you made. Pin it to the board you should have for your own blog posts, and any relevant group boards you’re a part of.

What’s a group board, you ask?!

Well, first let me explain boards. Each board is like a bulletin board where you’d “pin” something you like. You have different boards for different categories of things- recipes, DIY projects, home decor, outfit inspo, etc. Only you can pin to your own boards, unless you make them group boards. Then, anyone you invite can add pins. These are great for bloggers because you can show your posts to many different audiences, without having to gather all those followers yourself. I have a little over 600 followers, but I get a half a million views per month thanks to group boards. If a group board is accepting new members, instructions for joining will be in the description. Here are some that I’m a part of:

Since you can’t use Hootsuite or Buffer for Pinterest, there’s another scheduling tool you can use to schedule your pins. Tailwind saves you a ton of time and energy by queueing up all your pins, and posting them at the highest traffic times. They also have a section called Tribes, where you can share your content with other bloggers.

Now, how do you incorporate your branding on Pinterest? And how can you increase your chances of getting noticed?

Some people go aaaall out with their branding on Pinterest, only including pins in their boards that match their colors. I can’t be bothered with that, but I do brand in the sense that all my pins are interesting to twenty-somethings. For example, money saving plans, style inspiration, dating tips, mental health, and general adulting tips (like, how to jump start a car, etc.).

I also have branded board covers. Your board cover is the pin that sticks to the front of your board all the time, which you can set by clicking on the edit button that comes up when you roll your mouse over a board. Having board covers helps your page look neater and more cohesive. More branded.

promote your blog post

As far as getting noticed, there are a few ways to make sure you pop up in search results. For one thing, don’t name your boards anything clever. Name them what they are, because that’s what people search for. You can add creative text in your board covers like I did if you want! Like Google, Pinterest doesn’t see what’s in the pictures, just how you describe them.

You can also make money via Pinterest!

I’ll talk about this again next week in more detail, but you can literally make money right on Pinterest. You won’t have to rely on a reader’s commitment to go through Pinterest and then your blog and then the affiliate site– you can snag ’em right at the first step! Elise McDowell can teach you exactly how to do it with her e-book called “Make Your First Affiliate Sale in 24 Hours.” I didn’t make my first sale in 24 hours, but when I did make a sale a few days later, I got three in a row, which more than covered my investment in the book. Give it a shot!

Other Blogs (Link Building)

The last way to promote your blog post is via other blogs in a process called link building. Basically, link building is getting your blog’s link on as many other sites as possible. The more highly-ranked the site, the better it is for your ranking. Here are two tried-and-true ways to build high-quality links:

      • Guest Posting- ask to write posts on other people’s blogs! But first, check their domain authority. If theirs is lower than yours, it’s probably not worth it to write for them. You can check DA here.
      • Comment on other blogs-  genuinely! If you haven’t noticed, I’m big on that. Google is smart. It knows if you’re just posting your own blog link on a million blogs a day. Post thoughtful comments, maybe leave your blog link if it seems appropriate or maybe even helpful

    The #1 Writing Tool

Whew! Teaching you  to promote your blog post has been a mouthful. What do you still have questions about?

Let me know in the comments, or you can email me at myuninspiredemail@gmail.com. Happy blogging!

The fourth installment of Uninspired's Blogaversary series is all about how to promote your blog post! You'll learn the ins and outs of all the main social media sites (and Pinterest, though it's not a social media site!) and a list of all the places you should promote that post! Happy blogging!

Welcome back to the Ultimate Guide to Blogging! This week’s segment is about how to write SEO-friendly blog posts.

Since I’ve been writing Uninspired for about a year now, and it’s been such an awesome experience, I decided to share everything that I’ve learned about blogging so far with you guys. There’s so much information that it’s a five-part series! You’ve got 1) how to create the perfect site, 2) designing that perfect site 3) how to write SEO-friendly blog posts 4) promoting those awesome posts and 5) affiliate marketing. And what’s the best part?! It’s all FREE!

I thought this might help you guys because here at Uninspired, we’re all about helping you become the best adult you can possibly be. Since the biggest thing a lot of you seem to need is a good side hustle, I thought this would be great information to have. This series will tech you how to make an awesome side hustle out of blogging. It’s great because you can just talk about the things you love, and get paid for it! As long as you follow the steps I’m outlining for you here.

Part III of the Ultimate Guide to Blogging in celebration of Uninspired's first birthday covers how to write great blog posts. You'll find the anatomy of a great post, a breakdown of all that SEO nonsense, and some places to find high quality photos. To learn about site creation and design, visit parts I and II.

So, here’s our outline:

Creating Your Site

  • WordPress.com vs. WordPress.org
  • Web Hosting
  • Legal

Designing Your Site

  • Themes
  • Branding
  • Plugins and Widgets

How to Write SEO-Friendly Blog Posts- YOU ARE HERE

  • What is SEO?
  • How to Write SEO-Friendly Blog Posts
  • How to Get Good Photos

Promoting Your Blog Posts

  • Social Media
  • Pinterest (not social media!)
  • Link Building

Affiliate Marketing

  • Disclosures
  • Approaching Brands
  • Media Kits
  • Networks to Join

Don’t have time to read the whole series right now? Get it sent straight you your inbox in a gorgeous, downloadable PDF to read whenever you’re ready.


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The #1 Writing ToolThe Ultimate Guide to Blogging Part III: How to Write SEO-Friendly Blog Posts

How to write SEO-friendly blog posts is crucial because it allows your site to be found on the web. So many bloggers don’t make it because they’re just writing stream-of-consciousness and not optimizing their content for Google. That’s okay if your blog is more of a journal, or if you’re not looking to make money. But if you want to monetize, you need to know how to write SEO-friendly blog posts.

What is SEO?

SEO means Search Engine Optimization. It refers to how easy it is for Google to find your post, and how relevant Google thinks it is. Literally everything on your site can affect your Google ranking. How many words you write per post, how many sites are linking to you, how organized your site is, and waaaay more. But the more Google likes your post, the closer you are to page one. That means more traffic, more lives you can touch with your brilliance, and more money in your pocket from affiliate marketing. So, when I talk about how to write SEO-friendly blog posts, I’m talking about posts that are most likely to get noticed by Google.

First things first: Get your site on Google Webmaster Tools.

Google will find your website eventually, because of the Googlebot. The Googlebot (say it out loud for fun) is a huuuge set of computers that runs around the web, grabbing (they call it crawling) new/updated sites. But you want to be as easy as possible to find. So, claim your site on Google Webmaster Tools to keep everything running smoothly. You can make sure they know about you, and fix any errors keeping your site from being crawled (crawl errors) as they come up.

After you add your site to the search console on Google Webmaster Tools, you have to give them a sitemap of all your posts and pages. Though this doesn’t improve your SEO itself, giving your sitemap to Googlebot helps him crawl your site more easily.

Yoast can make your sitemap for you.

Install it, and when it’s all set up, you’ll find it on the left of your WordPress screen. I’ve circled it in this screenshot below. Click that, and then click “features,” circled at the top. On that page, you’ll enable advanced settings, seen in the third circle. Save settings.

how to write seo-friendly blog posts

Now your list of options under “SEO” on the left side should be longer, and XML Sitemap should be one of the choices. Click it, and check the box that says “check this box to enable XML sitemap functionality.” Now, you can go back to Google Search Console and add it. Look for “crawl” on the left, click sitemaps, and on the top right, click on add/test sitemap. In the box that pops up, type:

sitemap_index.xml

This sitemap will update automatically, so you don’t need to do anything to it whenever you write a post. The only time you’ll need to reconfigure any of this is if you move your site to a new address. It’ll take some time for Google to crawl your site, so go get some coffee or eat a snack or something. You earned it.

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Oh good! You’re back from your coffee break! Now we can talk about the anatomy of a post.

Now that you know what SEO is, and you’re set up to do a good job with it, we can talk about how to write SEO-friendly blog posts. I’m going to split it up into five parts: the title, meta description, body text, categories and tags, and images,. The way you handle these will all all affect your SEO. Before we get into that though we need to talk about your focus keywords.

Using focus keywords well is a big part of knowing how to write SEO-friendly blog posts.

Your focus keyword or key phrase is one that comes up in that post a lot, and that people will search for on Google. Mine for this post is “how to write SEO-friendly blog posts.” I chose this over something more generic like “SEO” because, even though fewer people will search for “how to write SEO-friendly blog posts,” the people who do are more likely to find me because there are fewer articles on that sepcific topic, and therefore less competition. Plus, since they searched for something more specific, it’s more likely that my post will be more relevant to them, and they’ll stay, or maybe check out another post. This long, descriptive key phrase is called a long tail keyword.

Focus keywords are super important for four out of the five parts of a blog post that I just mentioned, so it’s crazy important that you do keyword research.T hat means you have to look into what people are searching for, what the competition looks like for those terms, etc. I recommend The Hoth’s Keyword Planner. Now, let’s get into breaking posts down so you can really see how to use all this.

Title

For the longest time, I was so frustrated by the fact that Yoast wanted me to put my focus keywords at the beginning of my title. I stared at that red light like, it’s freakin’ IN THERE! What more do you want from me?! But turns out it was actually really good advice, because Google only looks at the first 65 characters of your title. If your keyword doesn’t fit in there, Google won’t see it. And if Google doesn’t see the focus keyword in the title of all places, the article won’t seem very relevant to that keyword. So, focus keyword goes at the beginning of your title.

Your title also becomes your slug, or the end part of your URL with the dashes. The slug should also have your focus keyword, but it shouldn’t be too long. So edit if necessary.

Meta Description

Your meta description is the little blurb that comes up under your title in Google results. While it’s not insanely influential to your SEO, it’s free advertising, ya know? So in addition to making sure your focus keyword is there just for the human eyes that’ll be drawn to it in their search results, you should also be as witty and charming here as 160 characters allow.

Body of Post

There are a couple of ways your actual article can influence your SEO. First, I’ll talk about the length.

Google likes their posts longer, which makes sense, because that’s more space to shove focus keywords in. The general consensus is that regular content should be around 1,000 words. If you’re in a high-competition niche, or you reeeaally want to get noticed, experts say to go for 2,500. However, the length of your post is not as important as the quality of your post. So, if you can make your point in 1,000 words, don’t bullshit 1,500 more to get found on Google. Because even if you pop up first, no one will come back to your site when they see it’s over 50% bullshit.

The second part of SEO for body text has to do with, duh, focus keywords.

The number of times you fit your focus keyword into the text is called keyword density. Unfortunately, it’s not as easy as it used to be. Google had to smarten up because people were doing what’s called keyword stuffing. Basically, they were squeezing their keyword in every single place they possibly could to rank higher, but then their posts were unreadable crap. So now Google has measures in place to keep their search results as authentic as possible. Your keyword density should be between .05% and 2.5%. That means your keyword should be up to 2.5% of your text. Any more is keyword stuffing, and any less isn’t relevant enough.

Google also understands synonyms, which is why keyword density can safely go as low as .05. If you had five synonyms as your focus keywords (for example- if your original keyword was fly but you also wanted to rank for soar, hover, glide, and float)  and Google expected your density to be at 1% for each of them, there’d be no room for content. It’d look ridiculous. So that’s cool.

Another way to optimize for SEO in the body of your post is to use internal linking. 

Internal linking means linking to other blog posts on your own site. Doing this tells Google what the important pages on your site are. The pages that have the most internal links are likely to rank higher. And the pages that you’re linking to the most should be something called cornerstone content. Cornerstone content is the content that describes what your site is about– it’s the essential information about your site that you’d want your readers to have before anything else. I have two cornerstone pieces right now, and they are this one and this one. They explain the two biggest parts of my site– The Tinder Files and Mental Health Monday. The two main things that people come to my site for. Since those are the things that explain my site best, those are the posts I link to most often.

Considering you took the time to write all of your awesome blog posts, I’m betting you think they’re all important. Therefore, even if they’re not cornerstone content, you should have at least one internal link to each of your posts. If you don’t, they call it orphaned content, which is sad and you don’t want to do that to your work.

Categories and Tags

Correctly using categories and tags are another important part of knowing how to write SEO-friendly blog posts. They’re another way of organizing your content! Your categories are the main thing that you write about on your blog. Some of my categories are mental health, money, dating, and food. In those categories, you’ll find all the posts I’ve written about those topics. It’s been said that your categories should all be proportionate to each other. Like, my “Mental Health Monday” category has 24 posts, but my “Family” category only has one. Not ideal. I should squeeze that family post somewhere else, and delete that category until I have other posts that belong there. Since it’s about Father’s Day gifts, I might be able to put it in “Money.” (I’ll work on that as soon as I post this…)

You might be wondering why in the world I would put that Father’s Day post in “Money” when it really has almost nothing in common with my other money posts. Well, that’s because WordPress also allows for tags. Tags are a more specific way of organizing your posts. For example, within Mental Health Monday, I have tags for self-care, PTSD, anxiety, depression, and more.  Maybe I could add a “gift guides” tag to my money category.

Images

The final aspect of your blog post where you can affect your SEO is your images. While Google obviously can’t actually process what your images look like an whether or not they’re relevant to your focus, it does look for something called alternative text. Alt text is basically a description of your photo, just in case the photo doesn’t show up somewhere. But it’s also what shows up on Pinterest as your pin’s caption! I’ll talk more about Pinterest in Part IV.

For now, just know that alt text is super influential, because Google uses it as another measure for deciding the relevance of your post to the keyword. If your description of the image doesn’t include the focus of your article, points off.

How to Get Good Photos

Talking about images and alt text is a good transition to this next section– photos. This part is less about how to write SEO-friendly blog posts and more about just what makes a post good in general. A good post has photos. If you looked at a blog post, scrolled aaaaall the way down and saw nothing but text, you might get a little intimidated. Your text might be super awesome, but if it doesn’t look super awesome, you might scare some people away. Why lose readers when you can keep them just by adding a few pictures?

They shouldn’t just be any pictures though. They should be relevant to the post in some way, and on-brand. Take a look at the photo I used for my Pinterest image at the top of the post. It’s a photo of me, not doing any work because I’ve made the most out of my passion for blogging. I chose that image because it reflected how I wanted my readers to feel– relaxed, and like they’re living their best life. I also chose it because the colors went nicely with my brand colors- the pink and green. There’s some green in the grass in this image, and the light colors of my outfit and the background go nicely with my pink. It’s pretty on-brand. Not perfectly so, but I liked the idea of using my own photo for this.

I do suggest using your own photos if possible, because it eliminates any potential copyright issues, and the problem of other people having the same photos as you on their blog. And, like I mentioned in Part II, you don’t have to have an amazing camera to take good pictures for your blog. It certainly helps, as I’ve learned in recent weeks having gotten a fancy camera, but it’s not a dealbreaker. I went an entire year of blogging without one, mostly by using stock photos instead of photos I took myself.

Stock photos are basically photos that you can use even though you didn’t take the photo. You have to pay for some, like at Shutterstock or Canva, but you can get a lot of them for free! When photographers offer up their photos like this, they are relinquishing their copyright to the photos. Sometimes they do this for exposure, or out of the kindness of their hearts. Some, like on Pixabay, have a little donations option so you can send some cash even though they’re technically free. It’s good karma to do that every once in a while if you can! Here’s a list of great places to get FREE stock photos:

  • StyledStock– free, feminine flat-lays that you can search for my niche or color. The color search is great for finding on-brand images.
  • Pixabay– the one I use most often, Pixabay has a gigantic variety of images from every topic you can think of. I usually just type in my focus keyword and pick from whatever comes up!
  • Unsplash– very similar to Pixabay, his is a giant library of free stock images. Huge. Thousands of photos to choose from.
  • StockSnap.io– this one has a huge library too, and a cool feature where you can see the most popular images. Knowing what pictures people are using can help you decide whether a) to stay away from them because tons of people have the same one or b) use them because they’re obviously working.
  • Negative Space– adds 20 free photos per week, and can be organized by category
  • Freestocks– has 64 pages of gorgeous free photos, and you can organize them by category, or by a specific tag.
  • Skitterphoto– I like Skiterphoto because they have a featured images section, and admin picks.
  • New Old Stock– this one’s cool because they’re all vintage photos that have no *known* copyright restrictions. I guess a downside might be that if any of the pictures do turn out to have copyright restrictions, they’ll have to be taken down, but it doesn’t seem to happen often.
  • Death to Stock– sometimes I use this one just because it’s such a cool site. Look how their unique voice and branding drew me to them!

If you can’t find a picture for your blog post here, you might want to take it yourself!

So, that’s the gist of how to write SEO-friendly blog posts! Look out for Part IV: Promoting Your Posts next Sunday, 1/21!

If you have any questions about anything in this post, please feel free to contact me at myuninspiredemail@gmail.com, or leave me a comment! I’m happy to answer anything!

Aaaand we’re back with Part II of the Ultimate Guide to Blogging for Beginners!

I’m Nicole, I’m wine-drunk, and I’ll be your host for this week’s episode. And last week’s. And next week’s. Etc. until end of Ultimate Guide to Blogging for Beginners in three more weeks. Literally don’t even worry. I know this shit like it’s my job.

It is my job. I make money from blogging.

I’m writing this mini-series in celebration of a year of writing Uninspired. Since you’re at Part II, I’ll assume you’ve read Part I or have at least been to Uninspired before. Therefore, I won’t ramble about my purpose and blaaah blah blahhhh. I will tell you about my purpose, but I won’t ramble about it. I’ll probably ramble, but not about my purpose, I promise.

I always ramble. You guys know me by now. I’m rambling now; promise kept.

So, just to keep you guys up to date, Uninspired is still a twenty-something blog, and I still help twenty-somethings balance all the parts of their life they want to enjoy now, plus future-planning. And a lot of you need a side hustle because as millennials, your main jobs that you’ve been educated four, six, eight years for aren’t going to pay you enough to survive. So, I’m teaching you how to successfully create a lucrative side hustle in blogging. You can blog about the things you love, because that’s how you make money without feeling like you’ve put any work in. That’s what you guys helped me do this year.

Sorry, there’s something in my eye. *tears*

We're in Part II of the Ultimate Guide to Blogging for Beginners, which deals with designing your site. By this point, you should have all the boring, behind-the-scenes nonsense taken care of. Check this post out to learn how to make your site look BOMB AF, or check out Part I to get your background sh*t together.

So, let’s take a look at our table of contents:

The Ultimate Guide to Blogging for Beginners has already covered all the boring, behind-the-scenes nonsense that keeps your blog safe and running smoothly. In this segment, we’re covering design.

Creating Your Site

  • WordPress.com vs. WordPress.org
  • Web Hosting
  • Legal

Designing Your Site- YOU ARE HERE

  • Themes
  • Branding
  • Plugins and Widgets

Writing SEO-Friendly Blog Posts

  • What is SEO?
  • Anatomy of an SEO-Friendly Post
  • High Quality Photos

Promoting Your Blog Posts

  • Social Media
  • Pinterest (not social media!)
  • Link Building

Affiliate Marketing Programs for Beginners

  • What Affiliate Marketing Is & How It Works
  • Networks to Join
  • Media Kits
  • How to Approach a Brand

This series is going to take us all the way through January, because classes are starting and I’ll have to plan ahead to make sure I have enough content to get us through the semester. BUT– the whole series is already ready to go! So, I did something super cool for those of you who can’t wait to get a jump start on your goals, and put the entire series in one convenient e-book that you can have, for free, today. Just sign up for my email list on the form below, and you’ll get it to your inbox within minutes!

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Alright, we in this b!tch.


The Ultimate Guide to Blogging for Beginners:

Designing Your Site

 

By this point, you should have a hosting site like SiteGround, be using WordPress.org to run your site, and you should have your five points of legal documentation. Not that anyone reads that. But they’re there if someone tries to sue you because their mille crepe cake turns out, well, like mine. Finally, it’s time to make your site look awesome. By the time you’re done, no one will ever want to leave your site because it’s just THAT aesthetically pleasing.

I’m being dramatic. It’s the wine. Truthfully, I don’t want you to focus too much on your site’s aesthetic. Trends will always change, and your personal tastes will always change. Your site will never feel perfect. Honestly, design is the hardest part of running Uninspired for me because I’m a perfectionist and I can’t make this part perfect. But if I spent all my time, energy and money on my aesthetic, I’d have nothing left for my readers, which is the important part.

I’d be pulling a classic Entertainment 720. Remember, from Parks and Rec? Tom and Jean Ralphio started this company with an amazing aesthetic, but they failed miserably because they forgot to put any effort into their actual customers. So, do a good job, but don’t obsess.

On that note, let The Ultimate Guide to Blogging for Beginners show ya what to do.

via GIPHY

1. Themes

To use that party metaphor from Part I again, your blog’s theme is just that– the theme of your party. It dictates the overall style of your site– what your pages look like, where your menus and widgets go, etc.

Like WordPress.com, the .org also offers a variety of free themes you can use, but that’s not the recommendation of the Ultimate Guide to Blogging for Beginners. One of the biggest perks of switching is that you can upload themes from anywhere and customize them 100%. You could even make a theme yourself if you wanted to. (But if you could do that, you prob wouldn’t be reading this) So if you’ve come this far, keep making good choices and get a good theme.

Let me introduce you to Themeforest.

Themeforest has over 10,000 WordPress themes. They’re not free, but like I said in Part I, you gotta spend money to make money. If you spend even just $20, you’ll have more design freedom and your site will look more professional. That’s how you get brands to work with you so you can make that money back.

My theme right now is from Themeforest, and it’s called Taste. There are some things about it that I’d like to customize, for sure. I want it to be full screen, I want the headings to be more cohesive, etc. But you know what? I want you to get what you need from Uninspired more than I want you to think it’s pretty. I’ll get to those things eventually. It’s a good exercise in calming my type A personality.

2. Branding

Now that you’ve picked the perfect theme (or at least you think you did until Millennial Pink goes out of style…shit) it’s time to work on your branding. Your theme isn’t the same as your brand. Your party might have a tea party theme, but there are lots of ways to brand that. Switching back to blogging, that tea party theme could have a Mad Hatter feel in the branding, with a cartoonish logo and green, silly fonts. Or, you could go more Downton Abbey with pastels and refined cursive.

Just a heads up: some bloggers base their whole career on helping other bloggers brand. So, The Ultimate Guide to Blogging for Beginners only has a very brief overview. I’ll break it up like this: voice, taglines, colors, fonts, logos, and photos. 

Voice

Your voice might feel like a strange thing to put first in your branding section. But it’s really important! Your voice is the tone you convey from the language you use. The best piece of advice I’ve heard about finding your voice, (and I’ve heard it everywhere!) is to write like you’re speaking directly to your ideal reader/customer. Finding your ideal reader will help you brand the rest of your site.

My ideal reader is a college-educated woman in her early twenties who lives in the US and is super motivated to go out in the world and succeed– get her first apartment, kill it at the career she loves, fall in love– but she wants some help. She likes sarcasm, floral patterns, wine and junk food. Having an ideal reader helps me hone in on Uninspired’s purpose– to help this girl get where she wants to be in life. Give her recipes so she can learn to cook in that new apartment. Show her some DIY projects so she can furnish it. Give her some dating tips and help her laugh at douchey guys instead of crying over them.

So, who is your ideal reader?

Are they male or female? How old are they? Where do they live? Are they married? Do they have kids? What are their struggles and goals? What do they like? Hate? By answering these questions, maybe even giving this person a name, you’ll decide on your voice. Did you ever read a blog and immediately get the feeling you could be their friend in real life? That’s their voice coming through! You connect with your readers through your voice. When they connect with you, they believe your advice and consequently, they take you up on your product and service recommendations.

Taglines

The next part of branding is that catchy little sentence you want people to think of when they think of your blog. Mine is “creating a thriving community of twenty-somethings.” It explains what I do, how I’ll help the reader, and it’s concise. Now that you have your ideal reader in mind, it should be a little easier to come up with a tagline that will hook them.

When I first started Uninspired, I didn’t want to come up with a tagline. It felt kind of like I was writing a cheesy commercial. But I did some research and learned why it’s necessary. People have short attention spans, especially in this instant-gratification era. So they’re not going to read my whole About page or a few of my posts before deciding if they want to hang out here. If you don’t make your point clear immediately with a tagline, readers will just leave. They don’t need to put that kind of effort in when there’s another blog doing the same thing as you, with a clearer purpose statement. Don’t lose your reader that way. That is an official decree from The Ultimate Guide to Blogging for Beginners.

Colors

Now that you know who you’re writing to, The Ultimate Guide to Blogging for Beginners wants to help you pick out the more detailed aspects of your brand, like the color scheme. Sticking with the same colors in everything you do with your blog helps people recognize your brand across social media sites.

So, are all colors created equal? Nope!

Strangely enough, color psychology exists, and it’s used heavily in marketing. Certain colors evoke certain responses from certain people, and you want to choose colors for your brand based on your audience. Now that you have your ideal audience in mind, that’s easy!

Everyone likes blue. It’s gotten a reputation as the color of trust. And that’s clear based on all the major brands using blue in their branding. Facebook, Twitter, PayPal, Venmo, LinkedIn, Pandora, Zillow…those are just the ones I could think of off the top of my head! They want you to trust them, so they subliminally message you with blue.

Uninspired is green and pink. Green evokes creativity, which I want you to feel instead of, duh, uninspired. Pink is linked to femininity, which makes sense given my ideal reader. But it’s also linked to calmness, which I want to give you while  transitioning into adulthood, and innocence, which I want you to still feel even though you’re grown up.

Also I love flowers, and flowers are green and pink. *shrugs*

Check out this post for more info about color psychology and how you can use it in your branding!

Fonts

The fonts you choose for your site should also be cohesive throughout all your posts, images, products, etc. Here’s how The Ultimate Guide to Blogging for Beginners suggests you choose them:

(PS– are you tired of me referring to this post by name as The Ultimate Guide to Blogging for Beginners?! Me too, but it’s my focus keyword. We’ll get to that in Part III.)

You should have three standard fonts. One for headings, subheadings, and body text. The ones you’ll find in my Pinterest images are Playlist Script, Lato bold, and plain Lato. I picked Playlist Script (the cursive one) because it’s fun and playful, but still readable. It characterized my site really well– fun, but has it’s shit together. I chose Lato for the subheadings and body text because it’s a good contrast from the cursive.

Is your ideal reader a burly, lumberjack kinda guy who loves hunting and fishing? Probably not if you’re reading my site. But if that was the case, you wouldn’t want to use Playlist Script on your blog. You’d want something bold!

Your body text should be plain like Times New Roman or Arial. They say serif fonts (with those little edges at the tips of the letters) are better for body text because they’re easier to read.

Logos

Now that you know who you’re writing to, what you’re trying to say, and what it’ll look like, it’s a great time to pick your logo! Your logo is, obviously, one of the first things people see when they look at your website. So choose VERY carefully. Once you put it on stuff like your header, business cards, etc., you’ll have to replace it all if you change your mind.

If you’re artistically inclined, the best way to go is to design your logo yourself. You won’t have to worry about anyone else having the same one, and you won’t have to pay for it.

If you’re well, not artistically inclined, my second best suggestion is to hire someone to make you a personalized logo. Fiverr is a great place for that because it’s super cheap. Fiverr actually has lots of services or bloggers, and they all start at just $5 (a fiver, if you will). You can hire someone for as little as $5 to make a logo that no one else will have. It’s an awesome deal that I wish I’d taken advantage of when I was looking for logos.

I got my logo from Etsy, which is another solid option. However, Etsy logos are pricier, and it’s even more expensive to get one made just for you. A lot of Etsy shops have created templates that they just plug your site’s name into, which is what I did. I love my logo, but someone else out there might have it.We're in Part II of the Ultimate Guide to Blogging for Beginners, which deals with designing your site. By this point, you should have all the boring, behind-the-scenes nonsense taken care of. Check this post out to learn how to make your site look BOMB AF, or check out Part I to get your background sh*t together.

Photos

Photography has been the bane of my existence since I started this blog. It just doesn’t come as naturally to me as writing or marketing. But I have learned a few things for the Ultimate Guide to Blogging For Beginners!

You can take decent pictures with your iPhone.  There are guides all over the internet to help you take better pictures with your phone (like this one!) so you don’t need to buy an expensive camera to look professional. However, it does help.

My wonderful parents bought me a Canon EOS Rebel T6 for Christmas, and I’ve seen a major difference in my photos. I’m obsessed with taking food photos now because seriously, the food looks clearer in the photos than it does in real life. It’s amazing.

As far as editing goes, I do suggest investing in Adobe Creative Cloud, which includes Photoshop and Lightroom. If you’re a student (or *ahem* have access to a .edu email address) you can get a student price of less than $11 per month for both.

You should also invest in Canva, a simple web-based photo editor. There’s a free version, but if you have the $12/m to spare, Canva for Business has made my life so much easier. When I edit my pictures to put them on Pinterest, I can save templates, fonts, and colors so I don’t have to start from scratch every time. When you’re posting three times week, or stockpiling posts like I like to do, it’s such a relief when my photo-editing process is simple. If you have more than one person on your blogging team, you can create a “team” so they  have access to the branding.

 

3. Plugins and Widgets

Back to the party metaphor (I know it’s a simile but you don’t just say ‘back to the party simile’ unless you’re a liiiittle pretentious, sorry), widgets and plugins are like face painters or bouncy houses. They make the party a little better. Widgets add content to the sidebars of your blog, and plugins are more like programs that you download.

So, here’s a list of the plugins and widgets I use and what they do for Uninspired.

Plugins-

Sumo– has TONS of tools to automate your site’s growth. Seriously a lifesaver. Tracks Google Analytics, helps grow your email list, has social share buttons, and more. I don’t visit my dashboard without using Sumo.

YoastSEO– tells you exactly how to make Google rank your posts higher. Another lifesaver! It tells you if your posts are easy to read, if you’re using your focus keywords enough (you know, ultimate guide to blogging for beginners), if you’re linking to the right posts so your sitemap is neat and tidy, and way more.

MiloTree– converts your visitors into social media followers via a little popup

jQuery Pin It Button– adds a button to your photos that allows readers to pin them to Pinterest right then and there

Easy Recipe– allows you to add printable recipes to your posts

Widgets-

Search– adds a search bar to your sidebar. This is actually super important. Back to that instant gratification thing– if people can’t find what they’re looking for immediately on your blog, they’ll leave.

Image– puts a picture on the sidebar– most bloggers use this as a space to add a photo of themselves, so their readers can see them without traveling the long journey to the About page.

Text– has a ton of uses! A text widget is how I’ve included that little bio on my sidebar. You can also use them to insert html for ads or other things (like Twitter, see below) you want on your sidebar.

Categories- allows your readers to see all the posts in each category you write about. For example, you can click “Mental Health Monday” in my sidebar and see all the Mental Health Monday posts.

Twitter– technically, this is another text widget, but with the code for a mini Twitter feed. My twitter is literally gold, so I don’t want you guys to miss out on any of it. To get a Twitter Widget (please say that out loud), go to your Twitter account settings, and scroll down to Widgets. Hit “create new” type in your URL, then choose the feed option. Copy the code it gives you, and paste it in your text widget. Voila!

 

Ultimate guide to blogging for beginners

So, was that a mouthful or what?! Part II of The Ultimate Guide to Blogging for Beginners is my longest post on Uninspired by far! Part III will be available here on Sunday, 1/21.

In the meantime, leave me any questions you have in the comments. If you’d like, you can also email me your questions at myuninspiredemail@gmail.com. Happy blogging! I know you’re going to be amazing. And don’t forget to download the e-book version of the Ultimate Guide to Blogging for Beginners!

We're in Part II of the Ultimate Guide to Blogging for Beginners, which deals with designing your site. By this point, you should have all the boring, behind-the-scenes nonsense taken care of. Check this post out to learn how to make your site look BOMB AF, or check out Part I to get your background sh*t together.

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Uninspired just turned one!

That’s one year of collecting new skills and blogging tips for beginners like myself, and for the most part, it’s been amazing. I’ve learned so much about web design, coding, marketing, photography, and tons of other things that I never would have learned if not for this one idea.

I have failed at blogging twice before, as you might know if you’ve read my first post ever. (Aww, look how far we’ve come!) My first blog was a craft blog, which was a noble but futile cause. I like crafting, but I couldn’t always make time for it when the other things I was passionate about needed my attention. Then I had another blog where I gave small Etsy shops attention, but my flaw in that plan was that I didn’t know how to get myself attention. So those two things had to change if I was going to try this again.

The third idea came when I was on break from school and bored. Uninspired, if you will. I felt so empty without my work that I had to wonder: what had happened to all my other passions? When was the last time I’d gotten so excited about something that I wanted to make a whole blog dedicated to it like I had with crafting?! I couldn’t remember. So I stopped waiting for passion to hit me in the face, and took matters into my own hands.

I decided to stop living Uninspired.

I figured I wasn’t the only one who fell into this trap in her early twenties. You know, getting so wrapped up in school and work to secure a good future that you forget to revel in all the other cool parts of yourself. Turns out, TONS of you needed help striking this balance, and you guys have made Uninspired such a fulfilling project for me this year. I want to help you feel as fulfilled as you’ve made me, and I don’t want you to make the same mistakes I did, so today I’m giving you the ultimate guide full of blogging tips for beginners. For free. No sales, no gimmicks, just information. I will disclose that I am an affiliate for some of the products and services mentioned, but it’s only because I would already recommend them to a friend, and just wanna make money for doing that.

Since there is LITERALLY SO MUCH to know about blogging, this Blogging Tips For Beginners extravaganza will actually be broken down into five different posts: creating your site, designing your site, writing SEO-friendly blog posts, promoting those posts, and affiliate marketing.

As a twenty-something, there are lots of reasons you might want to start a blog. You might be in it for the same reason as me– to celebrate your passions. You might also just need a really good side hustle so you can build toward your financial independence. It takes a lot of work, but if you’re blogging about things you like, it’s literally getting paid to do what you love.

This is part one of the five-part series of blogging tips for beginners! In honor of Uninspired's first birthday, I'm exposing literally EVERYTHING I've learned about blogging this year FOR FREE!

So, here’s what you’ll find in this gigantic list of blogging tips for beginners:

Creating Your Site- YOU ARE HERE

  • WordPress.com vs. WordPress.org
  • Web Hosting
  • Legal

Designing Your Site

  • Themes
  • Branding
  • Plugins and Widgets

Writing SEO-Friendly Blog Posts

  • What is SEO?
  • Anatomy of an SEO-Friendly Post
  • High Quality Photos

Promoting Your Blog Posts

  • Social Media
  • Pinterest (not social media!)
  • Link Building

Affiliate Marketing Programs for Beginners

  • What Affiliate Marketing Is & How It Works
  • Networks to Join
  • Media Kits
  • How to Approach a Brand

These posts will be rollin’ out all through January, but I always plan my content ahead! For this series, I did something super special for you guys and also made an e-book version! This way, you can download it right now and not have to wait week after week for the whole thing to come out. If you don’t have enough time to read it right now, you can also download it just so you can refer back to it whenever you want! Sign up for my email list below to access it immediately!

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Let’s get started! This episode of blogging tips for beginners will cover all the behind-the-scenes work that goes into creating your website.


The GIGANTIC List of Blogging Tips for Beginners Part I:

Creating Your Site

There is a LOT to making the perfect website, and duh, you need to create your site before you can work on any of the other sections of the Gigantic List of Blogging Tips for Beginners! So, in this first post, we’re going to be talking about the ugly, less fun, behind-the-scenes stuff. Don’t worry though! I’m breaking each step down so it’s super simple, and so you don’t make any of the mistakes I did when starting Uninspired.

Just so you know, my blog is on WordPress, which I highly recommend over Blogger, Tumblr, etc. It’s more professional than Tumblr, so people will take you seriously, and used more widely than Blogger Squarespace, etc, so it’ll be easier to get help if you need it.

1. WordPress vs. WordPress

Umm ‘scuse me? There’s two WordPresses? Yeah, and they’re hugely different. I want to make a point of talking about this because it made my first months of blogging super annoying and it’s avoidable.

WordPress.com is hosted, and WordPress.org is self-hosted. This means there’s a major difference in what you’re allowed to do. Think of it like hosting a party– if it’s self-hosted (you’re hosting the party at your own house) you can do whatever you want. It’s your house. But if you’re at a hosted party (at someone else’s house) you have to live with the options that are given. That’s what’s going on with the WordPresses. So, you need to decide what your needs are.

Some people prefer a hosted party because they don’t like spending money on preparations or all the work beforehand. Same with WordPress. If you want minimal setup and monetary investment, the .com might be for you. But if you don’t host your own party, you won’t have all the customizations you would’ve chosen. Another host might choose cheese and crackers instead of mini hot dogs (blasphemous). WordPress.com might not have a theme that works for your needs. Self-hosting is the only way to assure you have complete control over your content, design, and especially monetization. Seriously, if you expect to monetize, you need a self-hosted blog. Think: if you ever plan on charging a cover at your party, it needs to be your party! It’s an investment because self-hosting costs money, but it’s a good one because as they say, you need to spend money to make money. 

 

2. Web Hosting

So, you’ve decided on WordPress.org because you want all that freedom. Perfect! Now we can talk about self-hosting sites. Thankfully, self-hosted doesn’t actually mean you’re responsible for all the things a hosted platform would take care of. What it means is you hire an outside company to do all that stuff for you without the trap of them owning your content and offering you minimal design freedom. So, what exactly does your host do for you? And why do you need WordPress and a host?

To continue the party metaphor: WordPress.org is like hired help (caterers, party planner), while your host is like the reception hall. (This is a really nice party we’re talkin’ here.) So, WordPress is the interface you’ll use to design your site, add plugins, etc., just like helpers at a party would decorate, serve food, etc. But in order to do any of that, you need your host.

My hosting site is called SiteGround.

Some of the things they take care of for me are as follows:

  • They provide the technology for my website to show up on the amazing interwebs
  • Transferred my site to them and WordPress.org from WordPress.com
  • Check for hackers and viruses and update me weekly
  • Keep a backup of my site in case it crashes
  • Have 24/7 chat support
  • Provide domain names
  • Offer email accounts

This is all crazy important stuff you need to make your site run!

SiteGround is literally lightyears ahead of other sites like them. For one thing, their 24/7 support is unparalleled. Honestly I’ve been ready to quit blogging because I was so frustrated with some behind-the-scenes nonsense, and they were able to either walk me through it or just do it for me! Plus, they’re unbelievably, overzealously nice. They’re also faster than almost every other major competitor and they are the most secure out of all twelve of them. All of this only costs you $3.95 per month, which is an investment worth your while if you plan to monetize. Even so, if you sign up for SiteGround and then recommend it to others, you can get your hosting for free.

If you’d still like more information before you take the plunge, you can check out this page from the SiteGround website. For a more impartial comparison to other really popular hosts, you can check out this page.

Web Hosting

3. Legal

There’s one more behind-the-scenes area we need to look into. That’s the legality of your blog. It’s one of the least glamorous parts of blogging, but it’s so necessary. #3 of your blogging tips for beginners: you need a privacy policy, disclaimer, affiliate disclosure, and a terms of use page. You also need to copyright your stuff.

Privacy Policy

A privacy policy explains how people’s personal information is used on your site. It covers when you’ll be collecting personal information on your site, what you use it for, how you plan to protect it, and more. You can generate your own policy specifically tailored to your site here.

Disclaimer

Your disclaimer protects you if someone claims that something on your blog didn’t work for them. They won’t be able to sue you if they poke themselves in the eye with a crochet needle because your craft blog didn’t tell them it was pointy. This site can generate one of those for you, also for free. You’ll likely want both the free options– the website disclaimer and the external links disclaimer. The website one covers your butt for stuff from your own site, but the external links one protects you if you link to another site that ends up screwing someone over.

Affiliate Disclosure

An affiliate disclosure is another legal document that explains the ads on your site. If you’re using affiliate marketing, which we’ll talk about toward the end of this loooong ass series, you’ll need one of these. It just tells people that you really support all the products you advertise on your site, which should absolutely be true. You can generate one of those here.

Terms of Service

Your terms of service, which you can generate here, also for free, is pretty much like a more detailed disclaimer. It protects you from getting sued if someone doesn’t like something you said on your blog. It might seem like there’s a lot of overlap in all these annoying legal things, but better safe than sorry.

Copyright

The last thing, your copyright, shows people you don’t f*ck with bitchez who steal intellectual property. Luckily, most themes you can get already include copyright in the footer (see mine) but if it doesn’t, there’s a generator for that, too.

All of this legal stuff takes MAYBE twenty minutes, and protects you so much. I highly suggest doing this before you even create any posts that can get stolen.

That covers the basics of creating your site! Part II: Designing Your Site is now available here!

If you have any questions about anything regarding blogging tips for beginners, please feel free to comment and I’ll be sure to answer! If you have a bunch of questions or don’t want to ask publicly, you can shoot me an email at myuninspiredemail@gmail.com, and I’d be happy to give you more information there. Happy blogging!

This is part one of the five-part series of blogging tips for beginners! In honor of Uninspired's first birthday, I'm exposing literally EVERYTHING I've learned about blogging this year FOR FREE!

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Alright, bros, real-talk time.

I can’t lie to you and say becoming financially independent is easy just for the sake of a motivational blog post. So many people have a side hustle because it’s really freakin’ hard, and it takes a lot of money to live comfortably nowadays. It’s left basically everyone I know feeling discouraged, frustrated…

uninspired, if you will.

It’s precisely this type of thing that made me name the blog as I did. Uninspired is what I noticed a lot of people were feeling about their futures. It’s certainly how I felt about mine. Especially the financial aspect. That’s why I started blogging about saving money, DIY projects, and cheap recipes.

One job doesn’t cut it anymore. Not only does a millennial need a good, solid income stream obtained after years and years of grueling education, she also needs a side hustle. A good side hustle is something low-maintenance, or something you enjoy doing that also supplements your income. Take me for example: I’m a substitute teacher, which is my main source of income. BUT, that only gives me $100/day, and I’m trying to move out in the next three years. So, I have side hustles. For one thing, I tutor. And quite obviously, I blog (which made me $140 in June, I’ll pause for your applause). And finally, I utilize some seriously awesome apps.

So like, how many years away is the day when you can stop hoarding Chik-fil-A sauce packets and napkins?

Fewer than you think, friends!

Get closer to your financial independence goals with this awesome list of SUPER low-maintenance side hustle apps and websites. The best thing about each of these apps and websites is that you can use many of them while you’re sitting on your couch watching TV. That’s pretty much what I look for in a great side hustle. Again– very low maintenance is the goal. So, without further ado, here are NINE low-maintenance ways to make money online so you can get that much closer to financial independence.

Related: Earn a Stable Monthly Income with Patreon

Side Hustle 1: Swagbucks

Swagbucks is an uber-millennial website, as you can tell by the name, so they totally understand the need for a side hustle. The way it works is that you earn points by doing things on their site, and your points get you free gift cards! You can shop online, answer surveys, watch videos, and browse deals around the web. You can even use their search engine feature to earn! Also– you can be notified every time they release a “swag code,” which is a quick and easy way to earn a couple more points.

One of my favorite ways to earn is by using their cashback feature. If I’m shopping online, they’ll ask me to activate cashback, and they’ll give me a percentage of my purchase back in SB! It’s a great way to make money off the things you already do.

One SB is worth about a penny. So, right now, I have 6,200 SB, which equals about $62. I can redeem that in the store for gift cards to places like:

  • Amazon
  • Walmart
  • Target
  • Starbucks
  • Dunkin Donuts

You can even redeem your SB for a Paypal, Visa, or MasterCard gift card! That’s straight up cash!

Side Hustle 2: Ibotta

Ibotta is an app you can download to your phone that gives you cashback where you wouldn’t normally get it! You unlock rebates on the app, and then shop as you normally would. When you get home, you scan your receipt, and if the items you unlocked are on the receipt, you get cash back! The great part about it is that you don’t redeem gift cards, you can send your earnings right to Paypal or Venmo! It’s eeeasy cash, and full of big name retailers, so you’ll be sure to make good use of it. You’ll find:

  • ShopRite, Whole Foods, Stop & Shop, Acme, Giant, Wegmans, Trader Joe’s, and waaay more grocery options.
  • Target, Walmart, Kmart, BJ’s, Costco, and Sam’s Club
  • Wawa, Sheetz, 7-11, and QuickChek
  • Gap, J Crew, Levi’s , Michael Kors, Ugg, and Urban Outfitters
  • Uber, Groupon, and Amazon

Sometimes, they’ll even have very vague rebates that you can redeem at “any restaurant” or “any gas station.” Or, sometimes it’s not a brand, but you can get a rebate back on just general “apples,” or “milk.” I would call this less of a side hustle and more of a way to save, but you’re still getting money every time you shop! The best part is– you get $5 just for signing up! Seriously, they’re paying you to sign up. So click that link up at the top there and collect that cash!

Side Hustle 3: DailyBreak

DailyBreak gives you rewards for reading their news articles, or doing activities created by their sponsors. Each article or activity has a point value, and you’re trying to reach different levels of “breaks.” You start as a “coffee breaker,” then you move up to a “lunch breaker” then a “weekend breaker,” all the way up until you’re on summer break. Each level unlocks different rewards. It’s the cutest and most well-thought-out concept of all the sites I’m showing you today. And it’s a great side hustle because it’s one of those that you can do from your couch. Here’s what you can earn, though the exact rewards are to remain a surprise until you’ve unlocked them:

  • Lunch Breakers are eligible for magazine subscriptions and $5 gift cards to Target or Amazon
  • Weekend Breakers can get medium level gifts cards, $25, for places like Dunkin Donuts or AMC movie theaters
  • Spring and Summer Breakers can get themselves some high level gift cards, though they haven’t been revealed to me yet! I will update this post when I’m a Spring Breaker and let you guys know!

DailyBreak also has sweepstakes, which I don’t highly recommend because you spend your points on them. However, if you enter one and happen to win, you can get some great stuff. $100 Amazon gift cards, electronics, kitchen appliances, etc. Click on the title “Dailybreak” to sign up and start earning those breaks!

Side Hustle 4: Shopkick

ShopKick is a cool side hustle because all you have to do is have the app open when you walk into a store. Yup, walk into Target, 35 kicks. Walk into T.J. Maxx? 50 kicks. Then, you get more  kicks for scanning certain items with your phone while you’re in the store. They give you a list of all the things you can scan for kicks, and when you walk past them while you’re shopping, you just open up the Shopkick scanner and bam! You earned yourself another 25 kicks! Finally, if you buy the products on the list for that store, you can get even more.

In addition, they also have great little product recommendations every day. You can look through all the collections and save the products you like to different lists, sort of like Pinterest. And a bonus– sometimes there are hidden kicks in those collections!

So, what can you cash your kicks in for?

  • Walmart, Target, Old Navy, T.J. Maxx, JCPenny, and Footlocker gift cards
  • American Eagle, Aerie, Saks Off Fifth, Tori Burch, and Tiffany & Co. gift cards
  • Barnes & Noble, Toys R Us, and Fandango gift cards
  • Electronics like Beats by Dr. Dre headphones, A Samsung 32″ Smart TV, or iPad Air
  • Kitchen gadgets like the highly coveted KitchenAid Mixer.

If you’re ready to sign up, just click on my referral link at the top of this section!

Side Hustle 5: Inbox Dollars

The fifth side hustle I’ve got for you is called Inbox Dollars, and it’s pretty much what it sounds like! They send you emails with free money inside! Of course, there’s more to it than that, but that’s the gist.

The claim to fame is that they send you promotional emails once or twice a day, and clicking “confirm” on them gives you two cents per email. Not a lot, of course, but you barely had to lift a finger for it! Takes more effort to pick two pennies up off the ground. And then, in addition to that, there are also tons of other ways to earn more. Like Swagbucks, you can also earn on Inbox Dollars by answering surveys, watching videos, and browsing the web for offers you might like. And like Ibotta, you get a no-strings-attached $5 just for signing up! You can’t beat that. Except with $6. But we’re not talking about that.



Side Hustle 6: Field Agent

Field Agent is a different kinda side hustle than the rest because it’s a mystery shop app. You earn your cash by going to a store and stealthily taking pictures and/or answering questions about what’s available.

It’s riskier business because it sometimes requires talking to employees or looking kinda funny, but the payout is good! You can get up to around $15 for jobs. Often the payout starts small and if no one takes it, they raise it until someone does. You can get $15 in like fifteen minutes! I don’t know many jobs that pay at that rate! The only downside to this app is that sometimes you can put in the work, and the job can be rejected if your photos are blurry or otherwise not to their liking. It doesn’t happen often if you’re careful, but in the interest of full disclosure, I wanted you to know! I want to build trust with you, so I’m not just here to list all the good stuff and none of the bad.

As with Inbox Dollars and Ibotta, you’re getting actual cash with Field Agent, not gift cards. Aaaand you can cash out any time- no thresholds! If you wanna transfer that two dollars over to Paypal, nobody’s gonna stop you, boo. Nobody’s even gonna give you that pity look. We get it. We’re one in the same here.

Side Hustle 7: Ebates

Ebates is probably the most famous side hustle on this list. You’ve probably seen commercials for it! All the happy women who have earned hundreds of dollars from Ebates smiling ear-to-ear in their beautiful kitchens soaked in natural light. Ebates is great, but I won’t lie, I’m nowhere near making hundreds of dollars.

It’s basically a cashback website, like Ibotta, but web-based, not app-based. When you shop online at any of their thousands of stores, a popup will appear asking you to activate Ebates for this shopping trip. Then, you just shop normally! Your cashback will be applied, and you can see your earnings on the website.

The website is also great because you can see the list of all the available stores, and the percentage of cashback they’re offering! So, if you’re shopping for a particular item, you can compare your options and choose the one that’ll give you the most back.

Ebates Coupons and Cash Back

Side Hustle 8: Qmee

Qmee is a new side hustle that I’ve been trying out for a few months. So far, I’ve barely earned anything (there’s $1.41 in my Qmee piggy bank right now), but it’s the lowest maintenance of all the options I’m giving you. And what’s the mark of a good side hustle again? That’s right. It’s low maintenance.

So, Qmee is a plugin that you add to your browser. When you search for things on Google, sometimes Qmee will pop up with its own results. If you click on the sponsored Qmee results, you get about 7-8 cents. I’ve learned that you can go back and click a second result, getting you another 7-8 cents, but the banner will disappear after that. They’re very good at picking up when people are taking advantage. Of, y’know, the seven cents.

They have recently added a survey section, and an Invite Friends section, so it seems as though they’re branching out. The link to the site isn’t an affiliate or referral link though, because you have to be invited to be able to invite your friends, and sadly I’m not in the club yet. It must be because I speak so highly of them.

Side Hustle 9: ShopTracker

I just started using ShopTracker, but it seems like a sweet deal to me! As the name suggests, it is tracking your shopping habits. You install a program on your computer that keeps track of your Amazon shop history, and they send you gift cards for it! Yup– every month that you keep the program installed, you get a sweet little $3 Visa gift card to use whenever you’d like.

ShopTracker is a safe side hustle, because it’s run by Harris Poll Online, a really big online survey group. They keep your private information private– they just want to see what you’re ordering from Amazon, and when. And it’s great because you can install it and forget about it! At least, until you get that gift card in your inbox!

What’s your favorite low-maintenance side hustle?

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