Blog Announcement (Last Post for the Summer!)

Mom life can be crazy hectic right? With all the hats (and shoes) we wear we are constantly in an ongoing state of metamorphosis.

If you are an avid reader of my blog, maybe you’ve noticed my writing slowing down lately. I just haven’t been blogging here as much, and I certainly haven’t posted to my business YouTube channel in a few months now.

Just in the past few months alone, I have been doing some real soul searching about my current mompreneur pace. I’m always looking for ways to find balance.

The main questions are: How much do I really need to accomplish daily? Weekly? Monthly? And why?

What is my purpose for achieving blogging goals?

These are all questions I ask you to consider in my blogging course. It’s important to know your purpose before you begin blogging because, yes, blogging is a full-time gig whether you set it up that way or not.

I won’t lie to you- it’s a lot of work!

I love teaching women how to blog because I know the benefits it can have for you and for your family if you are looking for supplemental income.

But I am also realistic. I cannot guarantee that your blog will be successful if you don’t take the steps necessary to ensure a successful blog.

I also realize that we mamas are busy. We just often don’t have the time to commit to building a lucrative blog.

As much as I teach blogging and enjoy helping moms shine on the web, I realize that there are seasons when blogging just isn’t going to cut it. You may have to get back into your career, take a job, start a business that doesn’t include writing a blog, or take time away from work altogether.

It’s all about seasons.

So, my BIG announcement (as you may have guessed from the post title) is that this will be my last post for the summer on this blog. I have no clue how that will affect my status in Google, and I am really not concerned about it. I just know that I really need this break.

(Is it shameful to say I need a break?) I hope not!

As our family is now in the middle of buying and selling a home and as I’m about to enter a new season of tutoring at our special homeschool group which I am so excited about being a part of, ironically, I am finding less and less time to blog about blogging.

The good news is, I am always available to help you with your blog– be it learning how to start your own (check out my book and e-course) or designing one for you.

I’ve come to the conclusion that this summer I won’t be interviewing guests for this podcast or updating the blog, so that I can, instead, help you with your blogging needs as one of my e-course students.

I also realized that I really want to shift my focus back to my homeschool blogmy first blog baby! 🙂

So you won’t see much updates here for a few months but it’s for good and happy reasons!

If you still want to follow me around over the next few months, I’ll be blogging a lot more at Christian Homeschool Moms.

That said, I wish you a happy summer and much blogging success!

Please don’t hesitate to reach out to me over the summer should you have any blogging questions or needs.

MIH058:How To Grow Your Blog on a Bootstrap Budget

Are you looking for ways to grow your blog without breaking the bank? Maybe you have just begun blogging and need to find ways to grow it while using your budget for other business needs.

No worries- there is good news! If you want to grow your blog, it doesn’t have to be expensive. In fact, you can get away with barely spending a penny on marketing and advertising.

Since I first began blogging (in what seems like the dinosaur ages of blogging and web tech- back in the mid-2000’s), I have found loads of shortcuts to saving money on blog advertising.

In fact, I bootstrapped my way from humble blog startups with barely any pageviews to thousands of visitors monthly. (As a mompreneur on a budget, these pageviews meant more potential customers to buy my services and products- which is exactly what I was counting on!)

Back in 2006, I didn’t have access to any of the following social media resources I’m about to share with you. There are just so many more ways to spread the word of your blog nowadays, thanks to social media.

Here are just a few ways I have been landing visitors on my blog without spending a penny.

Five key ways to grow your blog on a budget

Write what your readers want to read

This is the easiest way I’ve gained readership: write what my readers love reading about.

No doubt, this may seem like common sense- and really, it is. If your readers want to know about a topic, they will likely search for it in Google. If your blog happens to be in the search engine results (especially if you have a high ranking for the keyword), your reader will have found an answer to their question. If you are answering their question, you win!

The key for blog growth is to continue attracting readers with great content that answers their most pertinent questions and solves their problems.

For this, you really have to get to know your audience. Once you’ve laid down the groundwork for your blog’s purpose and your niche market, you’ll begin to write content specifically for them.

And guess what? Writing content is free. (It just takes some time on your part). But, it doesn’t cost you a cent.

Join Facebook groups

Not on Facebook yet? Do you have an aversion to Facebook and all the chaos that can seem to transpire as a result of being tied down to too many groups or being bombarded with notifications?

If you’re not that into Facebook then you should start to think of it a bit differently. Even if you’re not using it for personal uploads of family pics and keeping up with your high school classmates, you should still at least have a business presence there.

Here’s why: Facebook groups provide awesome engagement.

If you really want your readers to find you and dig into deep discussions about your main topic, then starting a Facebook group can be quite helpful.

On the other hand, starting groups take a lot of work, so you may just want to join a group that someone else started. This way, you can chime in discussions, lend a listening ear, and be of help to others who have questions about your area of expertise.

One way I’ve grown my blog is to contribute to user discussions in groups. If someone has a question about setting up their WordPress blog, I usually chip in and give my two cents worth. I also invite them to download free resources at my blog in order to help them meet their goals. This is the way social media becomes an excellent referral tools for your business.

Pin your posts for maximum viral effect

Every blog post you create needs an opportunity to go viral. It’s no guarantee that it will, but at the very least, it should be positioned for sharing success. One of the best ways to do this currently is through a wonderful little tool called Pinterest.

The reason I love Pinterest is because it truly is a straightforward sharing system. I write my post once and I pin it once to my main board. Afterward I set up my post to be pinned to different, relevant boards.

By joining Pinterest groups and pinning to those boards as well, I’ve opened up my opportunities for virality in a massive way.

After pinning to each board just once, I can then just sit back and wait on my pins to be engaged. This means, other pinners stop and see my post image, like what they see, and repin it to their boards.

And, of course, once pinners are truly hooked on my image title and graphics, they typically click over to my blog from Pinterest, and land right into my corner of the world. Many times they join my mailing list from here and become part of my tribe.

It’s a quick and inexpensive way to grow traffic.

If you want to put a little money into this you can purchase Tailwind to make your pinning life easier, but it’s definitely not necessary. I love Tailwind and without it my pinning would be much, much slower process, but I have gone years without it and my Pinterest account and blog traffic has still grown regardless.

Start guest blogging

By far, contributing to other bloggers in your niche is a profound way to grow your blog on a shoestring budget.

I love this method because it means you can have a zero-following, a baby platform, and come away with a boatload, or just a few more followers you didn’t have before. And you do this all by posting to someone else’s blog and gaining readership through their platform.

When I first began my homeschool blog this was one of the major ways I was able to grow my blog. I guest-posted on several other more prolific homeschool blogs and boosted my following by sharing my posts to readers at these other home education blogs. This, in turn, gave my blog a much larger platform, boosted my SEO ranking, and referred traffic back to my site. A win-win, and completely free!

Invite guest bloggers

One way to get more readers to your blog while adding more content at the same time is to invite guest bloggers. You might be surprised at how many writers out there are itching to provide content for your blog for free in exchange for the writing experience and a credit back to their site.

How does inviting guest bloggers help you?

By encouraging your guest writers to share your blog with their audiences and promote to their social media and fan base you can expand your own audience. Remember, it’s not just an opportunity for your writer to expand their audience, but a chance for you to expand yours as well.

This is free advertising for both of you and is essentially a win-win.

The conclusion:

You don’t need to have a large advertising budget to expand your blog following. You can grow your blog without huge startup expense and you can do it minimally.

All you need is time, commitment, and a desire to help others with your content.

I hope these five action-packed ideas will get you moving toward starting to grow your blog on a bootstrap budget. Let me know how these tips have helped you.

Listen in to the podcast episode featuring this article, and leave a comment. Until next time! 🙂

How To Create an Ebook (A Guide for Busy Mompreneurs)

How to create an ebook

Work at home moms and mompreneurs- you’re busy, I know (believe me, I relate to the hustle and bustle of your life).

But you have great product ideas for your business and one of those is that ebook you’ve been wanting to write forever.

Don’t worry- I have you covered.

Here’s a quick tutorial on how I’ve been able to crank out a few ebooks over the past years and I do hope this will help you.

If you prefer video, then watch this one before reading further…

Why ebooks?

Ebooks are:

  • easy to create
  • easy to sell
  • a long-term lucrative project

You honestly only have to write a book once and watch it take care of itself in future sales without doing very much at all. Because ebooks are digital you don’t have to worry about shipping and printing costs, and downloads are instant.

How To Create an Ebook

Gather an outline for your topic.

When creating an ebook I usually start with the problem I want to solve for my reader. A good idea is to make sure you’re not all over the board with ideas.  Your ebook should have a specific purpose to solve a particular problem or meet an overall goal.

Remember, it’s better to be too narrow than too vague.  You can always save additional subtopics for another ebook.

No worries if you can’t talk about it all (and you really shouldn’t). Find the main topics you want to write about and let this be your main focus for your book.

Schedule out your writing.

Divide your outline into manageable chunks and plop these chunks right onto your calendar.  

For example, if you have eight chapters in your book idea and you figure you can find time to write twice a week, maybe you can complete 1-2 chapters per week. At this rate you’ll be finished between 4-8 weeks from now.

This is how I was able to finally complete my ebook (which I later published as a hard copy on Amazon.) It took some real time management and staying on track with daily tasks to get it done.

I also needed accountability, so be sure to grab a friend to help motivate you through this process.

Don’t procrastinate.

The main message I want you to leave with after reading this blog post is to get on it right away.  Start writing your book. Just start.

Let your fingers do the talking and start typing your thoughts on the topic. Before long you’ll have one paragraph, then two, and you would have completed an entire chapter and pretty soon- your entire book!

No one says a chapter has to be exactly 10 pages.  You get to determine how long your chapters are. Make your sections the length you feel quantifies what you are trying to get across.

Don’t let the idea of having “seven more chapters to go” looming ahead of you keep you from writing the one chapter in front of you.

You can do it!

Remember your audience.

Remember who you are writing for and stick with it. If you have a passion for your readers, they’ll feel it in your writing, so write from your heart.

Your readers want to feel spoken to, loved, considered. Let them know you’re on their team and that your book will help them solve their problems.

Proofread, edit, and add graphics.

Use your favorite editor to write your ebook.  (I switch between Word, Pages, and Google Docs).

First you’ll want to add a cover page with title and a beautiful cover image (which you can have a virtual assistant do for you or head over to Fiverr). You may also want to add a title page with copyright info.

Add page numbers and your name and URL  in the footer section for each page.  

For eye-catching images for your book find royalty free stock photos at places like istockphoto.com or even free places like Pexels.com.

Publish.

I use Adobe Acrobat Professional for this one, but here’s a quick and easy way to create your PDF document in Microsoft Word.

Simply go to: File->Save as Adobe PDF.

Voila!

You can also do this in Google Docs or in Pages. With your PDF you now have a simple way to distribute your ebook without having to worry about whether your readers have Pages or Word installed on their computer.

Adobe PDF Reader is pretty universal and is free to download.

Distribute.

If your ebook is a free download, upload it to your hosting and provide the link for your subscribers. I recommend using cloud hosting like Amazon S3 Storage.

If it’s a paid product, services like Ejunkie or Gumroad make it more convenient to distribute digital products.

You can also simply use Paypal as your shopping cart preference or you can go fancier and install Woo Commerce if you are using WordPress.

Password protected membership sites are also a great way to ensure encryption on ebooks.

Lastly, if you want to reach a wider audience, you’ll need to employ some social media methods to get the word out!  Try your Facebook connections, Pinterest and Twitter.

That’s all for now!  

So are you ready to begin writing your ebook? Remember, the first step is simply to get started.

Discover your passion to share, create an outline, and go for it. You can do this!

Has this tutorial been helpful to you?  I sure hope so!  I hope you’re encouraged to move forward in publishing your ebooks!  Leave me comments- I’d love to hear from you.

MIH057:Self Care Tips for Moms in Business

Press the play button to listen to the podcast below.

Mompreneurs wear quite a few hats (and shoes)!

You know the old adage “if the shoot fits, wear it”? Well…this would be the epitome of the mompreneur life: being able to fit comfy sneakers, cozy slippers, or working heels.

We wear them all.

The question, then, is how do we take care of ourselves while tending to our busy, hectic and chaotic lives?

How do I balance three coaching calls, two design clients, a leaky faucet, a sink full of dirty dishes, and a day of homeschooling my daughters?

The true question is: how do I balance these things while maintaining self-care?

Welcome, Allison Jackson of Allison Jackson Fitness- this week’s podcast guest.

Allison is the founder of Allison Jackson Fitness. She is passionate about all things health and fitness, but she really loves sharing her knowledge and expertise to help corporate moms get lean eating foods they love so they can be at their best.

She knows exactly how hard it is to work full-time, take care of the kids and household…plus try to fit in working out, eating right and taking care of herself, too!

Allison has spent the last seven years training and competing in figure competitions — even winning her pro card — so she has a crystal clear picture of what it takes to get to your ideal weight and stay there. Now she’s ready to share what she’s learned and experienced.

What we talked about on the podcast

Get moving!

As mompreneurs and bloggers we might often find that sitting behind the desk at the computer can keep us more sedentary.

Allison recommends looking for ways to get movement throughout the day. Shoot for 10-12,000 steps.

Just focus on taking a few extra steps. Take the stairs instead of the elevator, for example.

Ways to set goals for our health

Self care for moms doesn’t have to be rocket science. It’s often just a matter of creating small and easy goals. I talk a lot about creating easy blogging goals, but we should do the same when it comes to caring for our bodies.

Break down huge goals into bite-sized manageable tasks.

  • 6 months
  • 3 months
  • 1 month

Another way to set goals is to track what you eat (five days out of the week).

Simply focus on eating and working out. Setting tiny goals makes a big difference at the end of the day.

Suggestions for healthy snacks on-the-go

Allison suggests focusing on protein. Did you know that women don’t get enough protein in our diets?

So, guess what? Protein bars are great and quickly accessible. Slip them in your purse on your way out the door before running errands or keep a few at your desk while you’re working throughout the day.

Also, don’t forget small snacks like almonds. They keep well and travel well. Almonds also provide both protein and healthy fats.

Allison’s Programs

Allison offers an 8-week group coaching program. She helps with tracking goals and teaching how to eat foods you love and still lose weight.

Find out more about her programs at Allison Jackson Fitness.

You can also reach Allison at Facebook – Instagram – Hacked Snacks .Ambassador

Did you enjoy the podcast? Let me know your thoughts>

5 Strategies I Used To Increase Blog Traffic in Two Months

Have you been trying to increase your blog traffic lately? I’ve found a few strategies recently that have been working wonders for my blog and I want to share them with you!

I must admit, though…I did a little of everything these past two months because I’m testing out all kinds of things here. Much of what I do to increase blog traffic this year is beta testing for my future marketing plans. I want to know exactly what works and what doesn’t.

One thing that is helpful is that I figured out what blogging mistakes I made in 2017-18 and I want to remedy that this year.

This is why I’ve tried my hands at a number of different social media platforms and marketing strategies recently. Let me share with you what has been working for me.

5 ways to increase blog traffic

Facebook and Instagram

I have to admit- I was skeptical at first when it came to using all of these different social media platforms. In fact, I’ve always found that less is often better.

I don’t wish to spread my energy everywhere…BUT…When it comes to my social I’ve found that Facebook and Instagram regular posts have helped send me some direct traffic.

It’s not an exorbitant amount, but 59% of my traffic is directly from social.

I’ve been posting to my Facebook business page a few times per week (as opposed to barely at all).

I also have been making an effort to consistently post content to my Instagram account more regularly. I’m still not that great with engagement but I am posting and engaging a few times per week.

Pinterest

Another way I’ve been able to increase blog traffic is through my latest social media interest: Pinterest. Pinterest is, by far, my MOST referred traffic over the past two months.

I recently picked up a paid account with Tailwind and have watched my traffic increase as a direct result.

At this point it’s still too early to know exactly which key components of my new Pinterest strategy are working, but here’s what I’ve done recently:

I’m still learning Pinterest and am taking Melyssa Griffin’s course to keep me in the loop.

Mailing List

Last month (in January) I began a strong push toward my blogging goals. One of my new goals for the year consisted of keeping in touch with my mailing list on a regular basis.

So, I put this into action. I contacted my list more often this past month or two and as a result, 33% of my site visitors has been referral traffic, all from just sharing my newsletter and blog posts.

If you’re looking to grow traffic quickly, ask for referrals. Ask your readers to share your content and spread the word for you.

If you have great content on your blog, there should be no reason why your readers wouldn’t share.

Blog Posts

In order to really increase blog traffic I have been doing the obvious: blogging – and a lot. I’ve tried to remain consistent with at least two to three blog posts per week, which has been really helpful.

I think crafting my blog posts has been my biggest challenge- making sure that each post has what it needs to write an incredible post and the biggest impact on my readers.

It takes a lot out of me to sit down and write something incredible, rather than just throwing something up on my blog for the sake of consistency, but I would rather be intentional.

Writing content my readers actually want to read makes a big difference in how I approach blogging these days.

My traffic has grown exponentially and I’ve been able to increase blog traffic simply due to posting content my readers want and regularly. This is such a basic strategy, and so overlooked. With or without social media, if you have amazing content and a responsive list that loves you, they’ll keep coming back for more (and invite others!)

Podcasts

And last but not least, my podcasts have been crucial in bringing site visitors who turn into followers. Through my podcasts I’m able to reach an audience who would never have heard of my blog through a google search or a social media network.

Podcasts give me an opportunity to connect to my listeners in a more personal way. I get to share my story and offer blogging advice, plus introduce you to other mompreneurs who offer their expertise to us.

By sharing my podcasts in Itunes and Stitcher and other podcast directories I’m offered additional opportunities for exposure, which leads to…

drum roll…

…more traffic!

So, yes. Podcasting works. I’m not claiming that it is a completely sweat-free process (there is definitely some hustle involved), but at the end of the day it works.

The connections and relationships I make as a result are so worth running one that I always have to encourage blogging mompreneurs to at least consider starting one.

And that’s it for now! These are five strategies I have used to increase my blog traffic in two months.

What are some strategies you are using? Do you have any questions about what I’ve been doing and how it works for me? I’d love to hear from you.

How to write a blog post in 12 steps

Have you been wondering how to write a blog post that is stunning and attention-grabbing? How do you write a blog post that gives a lot of value to your readers?

Write a blog post in 12 steps

I’ve been blogging since 2005 and found that blogging has become easier with a formula that works nearly the same just about every time.

I don’t have to second-guess what I’m doing. I know exactly what process to use and I go for it!

I want to share with you some of my tried-and-true methods I’ve found over the years that have helped me to write a stunning blog post for my readers.

If you like videos instead, I made one just for you!

How to write a blog post (in 12 steps)

1. Do a brain dump

The very first thing I do is a brain dump. I like to use my Hillsong planner. This one, in fact…

how to find your niche

This is where all my organized posts go after I’ve dumped my ideas into a notebook. Any notebook. (Of course, I have a special Typo notebook I really like, but anything will work, really.)

Use your Google Docs, use Evernote, use whatever you need to.

The idea is to get all your blog post ideas down, divide them out by the month and week, then begin to tackle these ideas one by one.

You can write up one or several posts each week and load them into your WordPress dashboard to be scheduled out.

Before you do all of this, though, it’s a good idea to find related keywords and create an outline.

2. Use SEO in keywords

I like to use Google Keyword Planner to find which keywords people are looking for the most.

When I find a great batch of these, I make a list of them and use them liberally in future blog posts.

For example, for this post in particular I wanted to include one of these keyword phrases:

  • write a blog
  • write a blog post
  • blog post

Why? Because after heading over to Keyword Planner and typing in “blog post”…

I find that there are between 1,000 and 10,000 searches for the phrase “writing a blog post”, and 10,000-100,000 searches for the phrase “blog post”.

Combined with a low competition, these key phrases are great picks for my future post ideas.

I keep a running list of keywords like these so that whenever I run out of post ideas I can always refer back to these.

Interwoven throughout your post, your keywords can really help to boost your blog SEO.

3. Consider your readers’ problems

Although I like to use Keyword Planner to grab keywords to boost my SEO, most of my ideas come from my audience.

If my reader has a problem I want to solve it- through my blog and podcast, my blogging courses, or my books.

Always consider your readers’ problems before you begin writing your blog post to make sure your writing helps them solve something.

4. Create an outline

Before I begin writing the body or “meat” of my post, I need to create an outline.

This helps me to shift my attention towards the specifics of what I want to cover in the post and so that I’m not distracted in my writing.

I find that if I have an outline, I write faster and with more clarity. An outline gives me a clear focus on what I should be discussing in my blog post.

5. Type it up in your favorite editor

My favorite editor happens to be Google docs, but sometimes I write my posts directly within WordPress itself.

Figure out what system works best for you. An editor you really like can make all the difference for you.

Google docs is pretty easy for me. I type it up, then copy and paste it over to WordPress.

Typically, formatting stays the same, which is great.

6. Craft an attention-grabbing headline

It’s only after I’ve written my post that I usually come up with my headline. I do this for a number of reasons: mainly that it’s so much easier to know what to name a post after I’ve written it.

I like to use an online thesaurus to find strong adjectives like “bombastic”, “incredible”, “stunning”, “electrifying”. And, of course, I use these to make my title stand out.

You’ll want to write up a headline that attracts attention to your post content. It should make your reader want to read all the way through the post.

7. Format your post

Formatting is pretty simple.

First you’ll start with catchy your title.

Then, make sure the body of your post has the a proper amount of words. About 800-1,000 words or longer should be perfect.

Be sure to include headers (header 1, header 2) and so forth. For example, this particular paragraph section is called “Format your post”. (Do you see that above?)

It’s actually a Header 2 tag (H2), which allows Google to see it as an important piece of information to my blog underneath my Header 1 tag (the one at the very top that says “How to write a blog post (in 12 steps)”.

Be sure to include meta tags

your focus keyphrase (the one you picked from Keyword Planner at the very beginning)…

and your meta description (which includes your keywords).

8. Create beautiful graphics

We always want our blog posts to look marvelous! How do I do that?

I use graphics.

My favorite graphics creator is currently Canva. I have used PicMonkey and even Adobe Photoshop, but I find that Canva has been so worth it for me.

I like Canva so much that I pay for the pro account monthly. It is easy to use, and super quick for me to whip out those graphics (a must if you’re blogging more than once a week).

These beautiful graphics don’t need to be hard to create. Use templates as a starting point and create one template that meets the needs of all your blog posts. All you need to do is tweak the wording and graphics each time.

These featured images are going to look marvelous on your blog and make your post more attractive. It will also be great for inviting pinners to share your work on Pinterest!

9. Use Grammarly and spell check

Spell check is my best friend…and next to that: Grammarly.

I have made my share of spelling errors in my blog posts, and it can be really embarrassing (especially if something is misspelled in a graphic, which is hard to go back and correct, by the way.)

Better to run the spell check before your readers do!

10. Link up to other posts

You’ll want to be sure to include loads of inbound and outbound links (here’s a tutorial on understanding how outbound links work).

Google loves a blog that is getting link juice from other blogs, but also that shares relevant content.

Be sure to always link to other blog posts within your blog as well as to outside sources that have relevance to your post topic.

11. Offer content upgrades

Lately I’ve been offering more content upgrades with my posts- something I haven’t always done.

I really like doing this because it gives me an opportunity to go above and beyond and offer more than the typical to my readers.

Sometimes I offer a video (like in this post). Other times I offer a podcast.

And sometimes I offer a free printable or worksheet (like with my goals post.) You can still pick up that free planner here if you like 🙂

Figure out what you enjoy offering to your readers and upgrade your blog post. It gives your readers an incentive to read more and allows them to get to know you better.

You also have the opportunity to capture more information on your readers as they offer their email to have you keep in touch with them. In exchange for their email you can offer incentives and upgrades.

12. Hit publish and share!

This is the best part of your post- publishing and sharing! Once you’ve completed the post it’s time to hit “publish”.

The best part for me is always sharing with others.

I like to spread the news on all my social media outlets- Facebook, Twitter, Pinterest, Instagram.

Even if you don’t use all these platforms regularly, share our posts there anyway.

Then celebrate!

Writing a post is hard work and you deserve a celebratory pat on the back, so reward yourself. For every post completed.

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