If you haven’t caught on yet, I’m trying to create more content on my blog and part of that effort is that I’m relying on some free resources to help me kick off!
I think having a more streamlined look is definitely a goal I want to keep up. At the start of this blog, through 2016, I was just using random images as the “Featured Image,” but now that I’ve kind of created a style, it’s creating a cohesiveness that goes along with my overall look. In order to achieve this I’m using Adobe Spark. It’s easy to use the templates and create an image based on which social media you would be posting.
One of my blog goals this year was to use my own images. This is going so-so, not every post has an image that I created associated with it. But in order to counteract this, I’m only using Public Domain images for my background. My go-to sites so far are New York Public Library and PublicDomainReview.org. Vintage posters are my weakness!
In terms of overall branding, I’m trying to up my Instagram game, so outside the blog, my Instagram is a bit more curated. I like to use Snapseed to edit photos. I am only using an iPhone 6 camera right now (soon to change to an iPhone 8, if everything goes well), so this is the perfect and quick app to use. I also will edit photos on the Instagram app too, just for an extra pizzazz.
So part of my plan for creating more blog content is also to monetize my blog, too. I’ve seen a few other sites use affiliate links, basically you earn a commission for people clicking on the links and if they click through to buy anything. This is especially prevalent on Buzzfeed sites, which to me can feel a bit pushy, but it’s also a super effective way to make money if the website has the traffic. I’ve found one affiliate marketing site that is free to start, called Rakuten Marketing. Basically you apply to be an affiliate with all sorts of brands. The brand reviews your site and determine whether you can be an affiliate, then they will give you access to links and images that you can use on your site. Right now I only have 5 brands that I am an “affiliate” of, but I’ve applied to a lot. I think I need to increase my traffic and “followers” of the blog, but I plan on building this up as I continue posting more.
The second major affiliate site that I use is Amazon Associates. If you have an Amazon account, you can just google Amazon Associates and log in with your regular Amazon info. You have to fill out what your site is about and Amazon gives you a free trial period to reach a certain threshold of clicks and click through purchases within 6 months. If you don’t reach it within the time frame, you can always reapply.
As always, blogging websites are free, with free designs that are easy to use and customize. I use WordPress, but other sites are available depending on your comfort and skill level, like Blogger, or Tumblr. The caveat here is that you do have to pay for a domain (removing the .wordpress part of the address), and pay to have things like WordAds on your blog if you’re not reaching the higher traffic levels. So it might not be practical to monetize based on ad sense, but it’s an option.
I always try to take advantage of the free offers within WordPress, for instance the free themes, scheduler, stats, and website sharing. Recently Facebook changed their policy for sharing from WordPress to Facebook where you must have a “Page” and it won’t share directly to your personal profile. I personally don’t want to create a Facebook page for my blog, so I am manually copying the link and updating my status. Facebook is where I get the most views so this is a really onerous task, especially when I am trying to post something for optimal engagement.
Hope this post is helpful for those starting to blog. Please leave a comment for other suggestions of resources I could use. I’d love to hear more!