Do you want to earn money doing something you love? Have you ever thought about blogging or starting an Instagram? Do you have a hobby that you’d like to turn into an income-generating blog?
If you’ve been following along my journey, you may know me as the girl who started a wine blog without knowing anything about blogging or photography. Just 6 months after I started, I had my first paid collaboration. About one year, I had 20,000 followers on Instagram and had made about $10,000 without pitching to a single brand. Before I knew it, people were PAYING ME to drink wine, stay at luxury hotels, and eat at nice restaurants. This would have been UNIMAGINABLE to me when I had first started my blog. Because truth be told, I never considered myself as an influencer.
So what’s the secret? My not-so-secret comes down to two words: just start. Don’t wait for the “perfect moment” because that will never come, trust me. Once you begin, you will learn what works and what doesn’t (and lucky you – I’m here to show you the ropes!)
An how did I do it? I’m sharing 5 simple steps below for how I took my hobby from idea to an income-generating side hustle.
1. Identify Your Niche
For many people, this step is typically simple but it’s not always obvious. The biggest mistake people typically make while identifying their niche is making it too broad. And the secret to standing out is to get really specific on the topic you want to build influence. With 1 billion active Instagram users, trust me, there is no niche that is TOO specific.
2. Select Your Instagram and Domain Name
This is probably one of the most challenging steps. Your name and domain are going to be the face of your brand so you need to be thoughtful and intentional about what you choose. And just when you think you’ve found “the one” – its already being used (insert: UGH!!). I recommend starting your search with GoDaddy, where you can type in your ideas to see if they’re already taken (for free). And before you buy your Domain, don’t forget to check on Instagram to see if the handle is available. Here are a few tips for finding the right name for you:
- DO use words from your niche to make your site and Instagram more SEO friendly (people will be able to find you more organically)
- DON’T use numbers unless it’s easy to remember and a key part of your brand name (like “Chanel no. 5” or “7-eleven”)
- DO incorporate your name
- DON’T make it too long (I recommend 20 characters or less)
- DO search to see if it as already trademarked (knowem.com is a good tool for a broad search)
- DO search Instagram for some of your competitors. You want to make sure you’re coming up with something unique and not copying other popular influencers in that niche. Example: If someone has the name “MillennialMama” – you probably don’t want to create “Millennial.Mama” as your new name.
3. Create a Blog
You have many options for which website builder is the best for your blog. In my research, I read that WordPress.org is the most popular and allows you maximum control which is why I ended up choosing WordPress.org as my website builder (other options include Wix & Squarespace). If you signed up for wordpress.org like me, then you will need to find a website host. After much debate, I ended up moving forward with WPengine. For a more comprehensive list of hosting options, check out the site wpbeginner.com. In summary, here are the 3 different providers I used to set up my blog:
- Purchased a domain: GoDaddy.com
- Purchased a Website Host: WPengine.com Startup Plan(they have WordPress themes included as a part of their package)
- Purchased a Website Builder / Content Management System: WordPress.org
**Note that some website builder options or domain providers provide all 3 options in one for a simpler option. Bluehost.com is an example of a full-service option where you can secure a domain and hosting, and then easily set up a website with WordPress.
4. Start an Instagram
In my experience, Instagram is currently the best platform for building an influence and growing your blog or business. In fact, for the first time ever in the U.S., the number of Instagram users are expected to surpass that of print readers in 2019. Not only does the platform allow you to share and showcase your own valuable content, but it grants you access to your fans and followers at a moment’s notice. You can start a dialogue with them at any time through stories, surveys, questions, and more. How powerful is that?
5. Start Planning & Writing!
It may feel like a daunting task at first, but your blog won’t be very interesting if you don’t have any content. In order to organize your thoughts and start planning your posts, consider the following steps:
- Create an “About Me” page – This should be the FIRST thing you write for your blog. The “about me” page is typically the first page people look at when they come across your page. Need inspiration? Check out some of your favorite blogger’s “About Me” pages!
- Create your “categories” – In order to organize your website and posts, you will want to create about 3-4 categories that fall within your niche. Make sure they’re categories that you feel confident enough to write about on a regular basis.
- Write one post per category – I would suggest writing 3 or 4 posts so there is one post per each category on your site. Therefore, when you officially publish your website people will have something to read.
- Use your Instagram to announce your website – Before you officially publish your site, start generating buzz on your Instagram. Publishing a blog is a big deal so don’t forget to promote it!
That’s all for today’s #tipsythursday! For more, come say hello or tag me on Instagram @therealkristenmarie