*This post contains affiliate links. I will only ever recommend products and companies that I use and love!
My first, and currently only, blog went live on April 15th. I had thought about blogging ever since I had seen that movie Julie & Julia about the woman who wrote a blog about cooking all of the recipes in Julia Child’s cookbook. I’ve always loved writing as an outlet for my emotions, but I had never really thought of myself as a writer. Plus, don’t you have to be a super interesting person to blog? I mean, who would want to hear about my life? What could I possibly have to add to the sea of voices already out there sharing their stories?
But then, I lost my job to my illnesses. I lost my ability to perform onstage as an actress, something I had been doing my entire life. I lost my ability to dance, which has always been a therapeutic activity for me. I lost my ability to direct full length plays. I lost so many of the things that I felt made me who I was, but I kept the ability to write.
In fact, because of all that I’d lost, I leaned into my writing more than ever. I wrote journal entries about my experiences and feelings. I composed poetry. I even started writing a young adult fiction novel (which will hopefully be ready for publication in the next 6 months!). In my quest to understand my illnesses and how my life was changing, I wrote a lot. I also read a lot. I had never been a big reader of blogs, but I wanted to connect with others who have been through what I was going through, and finding blogs about chronic illnesses helped me to do that.
So, one day I decided to give blogging a try. I had no idea if I would like it or if I would be successful at it, but I knew that I would never find out if I didn’t try. I am still learning, and I have no idea yet if this blog will ever lead to any kind of substantial income or anything like that, but I can honestly say that these two months have taught me more than I ever could have imagined. I’m gonna share those lessons with all of you, as well as what I’ve done to get my blog to where it is today. Keep in mind that this is still a very new blog and I am sure that I still have a whole lot more to learn!
1. Research Matters
Before I started my blog, when it was still just a little tiny seed of an idea in my mind, I spent weeks researching about how to start a blog, how to monetize a blog, pros and cons of blogging, etc. I am a very research oriented person, as you may have noticed from my various posts discussing the research I’ve done into my conditions. Thanks to my PTSD, I get really anxious with the unknown, so researching helps to calm my anxiety through understanding and knowledge.
I googled “should I start a blog,” “how to start a blog,” “how to make money from a blog,” as well as looking at various blogs in my ‘niche’ to see what they were doing. I searched Pinterest for posts about blogging, something I still do a lot. I didn’t do any of this to figure out some kind of blog post formula or to get material that I should talk about. Honestly, I did it to see if it could be done and to see if writing about my experiences would really be something that people would want to hear about. Plus, I really didn’t know how to start a blog at all. I am not very technologically savvy so I was worried about whether or not running a blog was something I could feasibly do. And I truly believe that research helped me. I don’t think I would have stuck with it or had even the small amount of success that I’ve had if it wasn’t for all the tips I’d gathered from various bloggers.
2. It’s Not That Hard To Start
I was actually pretty shocked by how easy it was to get my blog up and running. You don’t have to understand HTML code or be a graphic designer to get a blog going. I’m gonna share with you guys how I got my blog started and some of the tips I used.
– Domain Name: There are a lot of different companies to go with to register a domain name. One of the tips that I’ve read multiple times is to not have all your eggs in one basket, so to speak. Meaning that you should register your domain name with a different company than you are using to host your site. My understanding is that in case something happens to one of the companies you’re using or their server, you still have a backup.
I used Hover for my domain. To be honest, I can’t really remember the reasons why I went with Hover, and there are a lot of great and reliable ones out there. However, if you choose to go with Hover, use this link to get $2 off your purchase: https://hover.com/dfEYPNIe
– Hosting: This is where a lot of research came in handy. I really wanted to know where the best place for hosting my website would be. The short answer: there is no one best place, different people like different things, so shop around for prices you can afford with features you like. There are what they call “content mills” where you get paid a little bit for each article you post, but the general consensus for those is that you won’t make much and you are limited in what you can write about and what styles you can use.
I chose to go with hosting my own site because I like the freedom of being able to write about whatever I want to write about and in whatever style of writing I choose. My style tends to be pretty informal and conversational and not all places like that. I didn’t want to sacrifice authenticity for ease. The biggest thing about finding a hosting platform is whether or not they come with WordPress. One thing I learned from all the research I’ve done is that WordPress is the King when it comes to formatting. It makes it super easy to write new posts, update old posts, track page views, install themes, and customize your page. It’s pretty fantastic.
You will most likely have to pay for a hosting package, especially if you want WordPress, but to me it’s worth it because of how easy it is to use. I’ve read a lot of reviews of different hosting sites but, after some digging, I landed on Flywheel because they allow me to pay monthly instead of having to pay for a whole year upfront. I wasn’t ready to drop a good $100-200 on a blog that I wasn’t sure I’d still be using in a year. I chose Flywheel’s tiny plan for $15 a month which fits my budget well. Plus, you can upgrade at any time, so if my traffic suddenly booms, then I can accommodate it by increasing my plan. If you use this link to get Flywheel, then I get a percentage back after you complete your first 3 months at no extra cost to you!
– Install, Write, and Go: That’s it! You get your hosting site, tie it to your domain (don’t worry, they walk you through it), install WordPress, pick your theme, add your content, then release your blog out on the world! I don’t know if there’s a magical number for how many blog posts you should have before you launch, but I’d say definitely more than one. I had eight posts up in various categories when I went live, just so that my readers would have different things to peruse.
3. Social Media
Post after post of blogging tips said that you have to be active on Social Media (SM) to find readers and get your stuff out there. What they didn’t tell me was how much I would enjoy it! I created profiles for Spoonie Warrior/Saidee Wynn, separate from my personal profiles (for safety!), on Instagram, Twitter, Pinterest, and Facebook. I also made a Spoonie Warrior Facebook page. At first I was worried about how it would go, after all, some people can be really mean to strangers on SM and I was worried about having that happen to me. However, what I found was an amazing community of Spoonies and Spoonie supporters with whom I was able to connect. I didn’t have to create some fake online persona, I am completely myself, and I really enjoy getting to connect with my readers as well as other Spoonies who understand what I’m going through.
This has become a life line of sorts for me since having to step down from my job. I have always been a very social person but nowadays I get overwhelmed so easily that it’s hard for me to get out and spend time with friends. It’s hard for me to take part in any social activities at all. Connecting with fellow Warriors online has allowed me to be social while at home in my pjs nursing an injury or flare. It has helped me to not feel so alone or like I’m completely missing out on everything. Being active on SM has definitely helped me grow my audience, but it also helps me as a person. Whether you blog or not, SM, for all its faults, can be a great way to socialize from your home.
4. Money? Maybe!
There’s a lot of talk about monetizing your blog and different methods that work for it. I won’t take much time to talk about that though, because my blog is still very new and therefore its not really generating an income yet. I’ve technically made about $35 so far, but $20 of that came from my dad purchasing merchandise from the Spoonie Warrior shop so I don’t really count that. The other $15 came from bounties from the Amazon Affiliate program that I partake in. Any Amazon add on my site is an affiliate link meaning that I earn a small percentage of what you spend on Amazon, with no extra cost to you, as an advertisement fee.
I also have my blog for sale in the Kindle store as well as t-shirts available through Amazon Merch. If you can’t tell, I’m a big fan of Amazon so I purposefully sought out ways to monetize my love for Amazon, since I would definitely have been talking about it anyway. Most of my research says that if you want to make money blogging, you need to use affiliate marketing and/or sell your own products. I’m hoping that once my book is available for purchase that I’ll see a little more revenue coming in as well.
5. Authenticity Matters
I truly believe that being authentic matters no matter what you are doing. I’ve tried being other people and it didn’t work. I ended up feeling depressed and people stayed away from me because most of us have a sixth sense for authenticity. If you are going to blog, you have to be true to yourself. Otherwise, what’s the point really? I love writing new posts, interacting with my audience, reading and responding to comments, and so on. If I didn’t, I definitely wouldn’t be able to keep it up.
It’s also helped me to accept who I am. I have been able to connect with people all around the world just by being myself. That’s a pretty awesome feeling. I also love feeling like I’m helping other people. To help people, to inspire, those are my purposes in life. I truly believe that, and this blog has given me the ability to do that.
I have truly enjoyed these first two months of blogging. I didn’t get into this for the revenue, I got into it so that I could express myself and hopefully help others going through similar things. I feel like I’ve been able to do that. If I end up making money from it, then great. But I think I’ll keep blogging, whether I make money or not, for a long time to come.