Lessons Learned From 2 Months of Blogging

1. Be Authentic

I think the best thing you can do for your blog is be authentic (as cliché as that sounds, ha). I’ve only written like 10 posts, but the one that got the most attention was the one that was most authentic. Eventually I hope to put up some more DIY tutorials and things, but that takes a lot more work. It’s hard when you don’t have a light-filled studio and all hours of the day to devote to making beautiful, comprehensive tutorials. But what I can do is write. And you can too. And I think people like that more than you think. (Except on recipe blogs. I don’t want a novel when I’m looking for a recipe. Just give me the ingredients and directions. K thanks.)

2. No One Cares How Much You Post

Yes, consistency is key. We’ve heard that a million times in all the different contexts. But I think new bloggers fall into this trap of feeling like a failure if they don’t post enough or on a schedule. Well guess what, it’s your blog. You determine the schedule. You determine what you want to post. I would rather read good, heartfelt, quality content once a month (or even just once) than subpar content every day. No one likes the person that overposts and shares everything. In fact, I probably won’t read your blog if you post every day (unless you’re my mom). I interned for a blogger and she made me schedule at least 3 Facebook posts a day for her blog. I hated it. And I hated seeing 3 posts a day from her (usually more). Maybe it makes money, but I thought it was excessive.

Another thing is I actually admire the people that take breaks. I follow a blogger that goes off social media every December. I think that’s awesome. And I never miss him. In fact, I never even notice he’s gone. I would never know he did that if he didn’t make a post about it. Only good things come from this. I appreciate him more when he’s back, and I know that he was off recharging and thinking of good content for the next year. It shows me that he cares more about his family and his health than money.

Just remember that you think about your blog more than your readers do.

3. Stop Comparing

I’m still struggling with this one, but this is why I need to address it. I joined a handful of Facebook groups for bloggers to try to get connected with other people and learn some more about it. I’m still a part of these groups, but I’m not sure how helpful they really are. One group is for amateurs like myself trying to get money blogging. This one is comical because everyone and their dog is in this group. On one hand it makes me feel good because I know I have more skill than 90% of these people, but on the other hand, it makes me feel bad because it makes the blogging market feel extremely saturated and I question how I can distinguish myself in this world. The other groups I’m a part of feel very superficial. They post threads daily that you’re supposed to share on and then interact with other people. I’ve only posted a couple times on these threads, but I feel like the interaction is forced and limited. So many people post on them that it’s unlikely that yours will be found. And you’re not allowed to just share your posts on the group’s page, which I feel is the point of joining these groups?

One idea I had is starting my own Facebook group comprised of people I actually know that have their own websites. This would feel more authentic and I think we would be genuinely willing to help each other. But I don’t know how I would run it or how it would work exactly. Thoughts? Would you join a small Facebook group about blogging?

Fellow bloggers, please comment and let me know what lessons you have learned from blogging!

 

By | 2017-12-27T23:24:54+00:00 January 11th, 2018|Blogging, Slider|1 Comment

Why You Should Invest in a WordPress Theme for your Website

My favorite part of setting up my website was customizing my WordPress theme. WordPress has free themes available, but they are quite limited in how you can customize them. Most people have an idea in their mind of what they want their website to look like, and it’s frustrating when you can’t figure out how to make it look the way you want. What makes it more frustrating is that it’s probably impossible to do exactly what you want on the free WordPress themes. I was lucky in that my husband owned a WordPress theme that I was able to download onto my site. It would have taken me a long time to cough up the money to buy one on my own, but now that I have seen the light, I can’t recommend it enough. My top three reasons for why you should invest in a WordPress theme:

Reason #1: They’re Fully Customizable

I got the Avada theme and I have been able to make my website look exactly how I want it to. It is so flexible and there are so many different tools and features. There’s so much, it’s almost overwhelming. But it’s better to have too many options than not enough. You can even add you own CSS code if you want to edit things that aren’t built-in to the theme. It can be intimidating at first, but this leads me to my next reason…

Reason #2: Tons of Support

For every question I had, I could Google it and find an answer to it. There is so much support online, particularly for the Avada theme. The only things I still don’t know are how to change the background color on a post slider and how to make my MailChimp pop-up work consistently. There are so many forums and websites that you can scour for help. I already had a foundation for how WordPress worked, but I had no other web design or coding experience. Within a week, I had customized my site and learned all the ins and outs of Avada that I needed to make my website how I wanted. I also know that there are more options and I can redesign my website as my tastes evolve.

Reason #3: Cheap

Avada is only $39. It’s a one-time purchase so you don’t have to pay a monthly fee and you can use it on multiple websites if you have more than one. They update it regularly and add features, so you’ll never need another theme once you buy it. There are tons of other theme options, but Avada is the #1 selling one and is very versatile. I’ve been happy with it so far.

If you’re trying to make money off your blog, I would invest in a WordPress theme. It will make your website look a lot more professional and will save you from the frustrations of free themes.

By | 2017-12-27T23:25:14+00:00 January 2nd, 2018|Blogging, Slider|0 Comments

How I DIDN’T Make Money in my First Month of Blogging

I’ve had my website for about a month now. It’s kind of funny because there are so many resources out there for starting websites and blogs, yet I still feel like people are hiding something from me. I wanted to share some roadblocks I encountered and what I have learned over the last month trying to get my website up and running. (Maybe that is what is missing from everyone’s posts? Stories of failure and vulnerability? And not for the purpose of being humorous?)

Anyways, on to my list!

Roadblock #1: Monthly Fees

I wanted my own website for years but kept putting it off because I was scared of monthly fees (still am). It costs money to buy a domain and hosting. Now that I have a full-time job and free rent at the moment, I can afford to spend some money on my hobbies that make me happy. Plus, I am working on monetizing my site so that I can at least make enough to pay the monthly hosting fee. I bought my domain for $15/year and I use Amazon Lightsail for hosting which is $5/month. Bluehost is another popular option, but I think Amazon is a more scalable and reliable option for the future. $75 a year is not a bad investment for a hobby.

Roadblock #2: Picking a Name

Another roadblock was that I couldn’t think of a good name for my brand. I created Cliché Creativity a couple years ago, but I outgrew it and wanted something more professional I guess. I wanted to use my own name, but I wasn’t married yet and I didn’t want to commit to something with my name just to get married and have a new name. And I thought my first name was too common. I have been trying to come up with a better name for years.

Fast forward a little bit, I got married and I was talking with my husband about how I wanted a website as a distraction from teaching and depression. He came up with the name Made With Michelle. We both liked it because it has alliteration and kind of a double meaning. We were shocked to find that the domain happened to be available! In fact, I think it expired from someone else on that day I was looking at it, because it had a countdown to when it would be available. I bought it and finally had a domain name.

I don’t really have advice for coming up with a name aside from constantly thinking about it and asking other people for help. I bought the domain through Google.

Roadblock #3: Feeling Inadequate

I felt like I didn’t know enough about hosting and web design. This was where marrying my husband came in handy. He has experience with hosting and got me set up with all that. But if you don’t happen to have a husband that is knowledgeable about how to start a website, use the Internet, read what I just wrote about domains and hosting, and let me know what questions you have! Also know that you will never NOT feel inadequate, so just try it and learn while you go instead of waiting for the perfect moment that will never come. You don’t even know the questions you have until you run into them, so that’s another reason to get started. (You can also start with a free blog, but you won’t be able to monetize it.)

In Conclusion: You Get Out What You Put In

My motivation for trying to make money off this blog is to pay for the expense of owning a website. Ideally, I could make a living off of this thing, but I’m not counting on that quite yet. Yes, there are lots of people who claim that you can quickly support yourself off of a blog, but they don’t really tell you the cost of achieving that. Time and money costs. I have read the accounts of many successful bloggers, but my mind always comes back to the blogger who personally told me it took her 7 years to be able to support herself from the income of her blog. And her work lifestyle was not exactly my picture of ideal. Like any good thing, the money doesn’t come overnight. I’ve looked into Affiliate programs, Google AdSense, and Woo Commerce for ways to make money. But I also have a full-time job that completely drains me and leaves me with nothing else to give. So I didn’t make any money my first month of blogging. But that’s okay. It’s harder than they make it out to be on the Internet. It takes a lot of time to build an audience, create quality content, and figure out what’s actually going to make you money. You define your own success and you’ll get out of it what you put in.

By | 2017-12-27T22:00:52+00:00 December 27th, 2017|Blogging, Slider|0 Comments