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My Honest ConvertKit Review

Email lists are a really important part of running a successful blogging business. I truly believe that you need to stop worrying too much about social media and instead focus on building your email list: It’s going to stay with you no matter what algorithm changes happen, or what social media fads come and go.

That group of people on your list are going to be your biggest fans and your most important customers. You are building up a really engaged audience on that list. Very different from the blog reader who clicks over from Pinterest, stays for 50 seconds, and bounces off again.

And let’s be clear, email lists aren’t just for people who sell digital products. You can use them to drive traffic to your blog (therefore increasing your ad revenue), to sell affiliate products, to sell your actual products (you might have an Etsy shop or whatever), and to use as a negotiating tool when pitching brands for sponsored work.

So bottom line: email lists are important. And therefore, your email service provider is too.

While I haven’t used every email service provider out there, I have used a few and haven’t found one that is as packed with blogger-friendly features like ConvertKit.

Why I Love ConvertKit:

While there are a few little things I would change if I could, I have honestly loved using ConvertKit from the moment I started with them.

Here’s why…

Forms & Landing Pages

One of my favourite things about ConvertKit is how crazy easy it is to setup places for people to sign up to your list.

Within ConvertKit you build sign-up forms that you embed into your blog (if you use wordpress they even have a plugin so you don’t have to copy/paste any code).

To create a “form” (ie. a sign up box) you upload a photo (optional), some text about what the opt-in incentive is, customize the colours, and boom: you’ve got yourself a great looking sign-up form. Then you edit the settings so that it automatically sends the opt-in incentive to your new subscriber, and maybe puts them into a sequence of some kind (up to you!).

You can see here that they have different template options for the form, so it can be as much or as little as you want.

This is an example of one of my ConvertKit forms (and yes, you can actually get on my email list if you want by filling it out – I’ll send you a sweet plug and play newsletter template you can use!):

Get the Newsletter Template

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Get the plug-and-play newsletter template to take all the guesswork out of writing your weekly newsletters!

Powered by ConvertKit

Similarly, you can build landing pages right in ConvertKit. So if you want to create a whole page that is dedicated to promoting a product of yours, you can. They don’t have a ton of landing page templates, which is something I hope they add to down the line. I would love it if they would have more templates similar to what you can find through LeadPages.

But even still, it only takes 15 minutes to put one of these together and you can edit them to your colours and overall aesthetic. Super easy!

Here is one of my landing pages I created in ConvertKit – very simple but effective.

Tagging

In ConvertKit you have the ability to create an unlimited number of “tags”.

What this means is that you can tag subscribers based on their interests. For example, in my own account I have some subscribers that have signed up to my list to be able to use a coupon code in my Etsy shop. I will tag those as etsy customers. I also have another tag setup for people who have signed up for local workshops – I have them tagged as “ottawa” (where I live). Or two of my biggest tags are just “The Sweetest Digs subscriber” (for all of my subscribers who opted in on my DIY and home decor blog) and “Bloggers” for folks like you who would have opted in to my list from this site.

Here is a quick snapshot from in my account. You can see that I have a whole bunch of opt-in’s that I created for my blog, The Sweetest Digs, and that they are tagged as a “The Sweetest Digs Subscriber” when they opt-in. You can also see “GBC Subscriber” further down, which are subscribers to this site. And like I said above, I have the Etsy tag, a local tag, and more. The sky is the limit here.

By having all of these tags, it means you can send seriously customized emails. For me,  if I want to run a promo for my Etsy shop but don’t want to send it out to my whole list, I can easily segment the list and send it just to those who will be interested. Or if I’m hosting a local workshop, I can send that email to just my local subscribers. Or if I’m sending out a blogging tips newsletter, I just send that to those tagged as bloggers.

It’s such a useful tool!

 

Sequences

This is the money. I have come to LOVE sequences. Also known as “email funnels”.

The idea is that you create a sequence of emails – so whether it’s an email course, or a series of emails that eventually sells one of your products or an affiliate product, or a welcome/onboarding sequence. Then when someone opts in to a certain form that you setup as being the “funnel” for this sequence, every new subscriber automatically goes into the sequence and is sent those emails. You can set up when they get the emails (ie. 1 day after subscribing, 5 days after subscribing, etc.) and you can connect multiple opt-in forms to the same sequence.

Sequences are AMAZING for creating passive flows of income. If you sell any kind of product, create an opt-in related to that topic and then write up a sequence that eventually leads the subscriber into a potential sale.

I have a friend who has a sequence like this set up for her de-cluttering eBook and it generates on average about 2 sales a week, just through her sequence that she only had to set up once. She has multiple spots throughout her blog where readers opt-in for a free printable related to de-cluttering, and then she has a few more emails that send around de-cluttering in general (including another freebie), and then in the end she has a promotional email for her eBook. She is generating trust and credibility through the sequence, and so the customer feels more motivated to buy her product at the end.

Similarly, I have a sequence setup that takes customers through a funnel ending in an affiliate product promotion. That really cranks up my affiliate revenue every month because it is consistently generating sales.

Here is what it looks like in ConvertKit when you go to write a sequence. You just write as many emails as you want for the funnel, connect it to an opt-in form, and then you’re golden.

 

Automations

The automations feature in ConvertKit is kind of like your rule-book. You can create all of these “rules” that tells the system to do certain things at certain times.

So if someone opts-in to Lead Magnet #1, you can tag them with a few tags and send them directly into a sequence. Or you can create a rule that says those who opt-in to Lead Magnet #2 are automatically sent a welcome email. Or when someone buys a product from you, they are tagged with X, so you know not to send them promotional emails regarding that product anymore.

You can see, there are lots of triggers and rules you can setup:

This level of automation is incredible. I love the whole “set it and forget it” approach because who has time to go in and do these things manually when you are trying to run your online biz?

 

Subscribers

So you know how people will opt-in to multiple places on your site? Like in one spot to get a printable, and then in another to get a free eBook or something? Well, some email service providers will charge you double because they are list-based versus being subscriber-based. So that subscriber that opted in to 2 or 3 different things on your site – you are paying for him or her 2 or 3 times!

Not ConvertKit. They recognize the email address and won’t ever double-charge you. They are “subscriber-based”, which is awesome.

 

Deliverability

When I first switched over to ConvertKit from Mailchimp, I felt like my emails got ugly. That they were missing all the pretty colours, pictures, and styling of my previous emails (which was really easy to do in MailChimp). However, I also quickly noticed that my emails got a higher open rate and click-through rate without all that stuff.

The more images and HTML you have in your emails, the more likely it is to get put in people’s spam boxes because it looks like a promotion. Not good!

ConvertKit on the other hand is setup so that your emails make it into inboxes. They have a whole deliverability team dedicated to this. It’s also why the emails you create in ConvertKit generally just look like a normal email that you would get from a friend. No fancy stuff.

Take your images out of your email and you’ll see your click-through rates go up. It’s weird and counter-intuitive to me…. but it works!

 

Pricing

Sure it would be great to use a free email service provider forever, but as you build your list and need more functionality, you are going to have to pay for an email service. I find the ConvertKit rates extremely reasonable, particularly when you consider all of the features it comes with.

I used to have LeadPages AND my email service provider, and I’m slowly moving away from needing LeadPages at all. I’m switching everything over to ConvertKit forms and landing pages, and won’t need to renew my subscription with LeadPages this year (hundreds of dollars per year saved!).

Maybe you don’t use any other software providers right now, but you bootstrap the delivery of your opt-in’s. Or have some big complicated system for keeping your subscribers organized. ConvertKit will save you all that headache and time. Totally worth the investment. Spend that time on other elements of your blogging business that will help grow your income.

 

So that’s that. My honest review of ConvertKit. I’m clearly a fan;) The other thing I like about this company is that you feel really connected to it. They have a face behind the product, a very accessible customer service team, and great support in their Help forums.

If you are thinking about building your list, or want to make a switch from your current provider, I’d say go for it. Sign up here!

Free Template

Don’t forget to snag my newsletter template. It’ll take the “what do I send this week?” out of the equation and give you a template to use week-after-week to send a great newsletter to your subscribers!

Get the Newsletter Template

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Get the plug-and-play newsletter template to take all the guesswork out of writing your weekly newsletters!

Powered by ConvertKit

How To Use Affiliate Links on Pinterest To Make Money

Affiliate marketing is one of those avenues of blog monetization that you want to hit from all angles. Often it just brings in little drops of income, but each of those drops will fill a bucket and can turn into a lucrative income stream. So outside of blog posts, you need to make sure you are capitalizing on affiliate linking in your social media strategy: Enter Pinterest.

Pinterest had previously put a ban on affiliate links, but in 2016 they lifted the reins and opened it up again to affiliate linking.

If you haven’t been capitalizing with affiliate links on Pinterest yet, now is the time.

What exactly do I mean when I say affiliate links on Pinterest? Well, I’m not referring to pinning photos from your own blog posts that have affiliate links in them. I’m talking about pinning product images on Pinterest and embedding your direct affiliate link into that pin. When a viewer on pinterest clicks on that product pin, they are taken straight to the product’s website via your affiliate link (and not to your blog).

Pretty sweet, right? We all know that there are tons of folks out there browsing Pinterest for inspiring things to make and buy.

Blogger, entrepreneur or small business owner - you should be using affiliate links on Pinterest. It's a great way to make money - a passive income! Click through for the step by step tutorial with screenshots on how to embed and add your affiliate links to pinterest.

 

Before we dive in to the step-by-step instruction, make sure to grab this free Pinterest workbook. It’s going to help guide you in creating a better Pinterest profile and show you how to grow your traffic using Pinterest.

FREE Pinterest Workbook

Free_pinterest_worksheet

Build your traffic and your brand on Pinterest with these quick-to-implement strategies.

Powered by ConvertKit

 

Alright, let’s walk through a quick tutorial and show you how easy it is to embed affiliate links on Pinterest.

How to Embed Affiliate Links on Pinterest:

 

Step 1 / Find Product

First up is to find the product you’d like to pin. For this example, I’m going to pin some super fun oversized gold clips from Urban Outfitters.

I go find the product on it’s website, and usually there is a pin-it button somewhere on that page. With Urban Outfitters, you can see that there was a pinterest button on the far right side of the page, and also one that appeared when I hovered above the image.

Step 2 / Pin Product

Click on the pinterest button to pin the image to pinterest.

Fill in the description so that it represents what the product is all about. Throw in as many keywords as you can into the paragraph to increase the chances of that pin being found in a search.

Also *always* make sure to put in your affiliate disclosure into the description of the pin, to comply by FTC guidelines. Something like [affiliate] should be sufficient.

Then choose the board you want to pin it to (if you’re with Tailwind*, you could schedule the pin using their “schedule” button like you see beside the search bar in my example pic, but I’m going to proceed with this tutorial as though you were just pinning it normally).

 

Step 3 / View Pin

Right after you have pinned something, a screen will pop up that shows other boards where that same pin lives, but in the bottom right hand there is a red “See It Now” button. Click that button!

Do it quickly, since it disappears quickly.

Step 4 / Edit Link

Then you’ll come to this screen, which shows your pin and a few different options.

Click on the “Edit” button in the top left corner.

This second screen will pop up, which gives you the field where the URL for the pin lives. You can see right now that it’s directing viewers to the urban outfitters link where I got the product image from.

So instead of that link, I replace it with my affiliate link that takes the viewer to the same page.

To get your affiliate link, you’ll need to login to whatever affiliate network you work with and get your URL. I use RewardStyle, but you might be with ShopStyle Collective, Affiliate Window, CJ Affiliates, etc. Here is a blog post that outlines a bunch of affiliate agencies and the brands they work with.

Also know that at this time as far as I know, you are not allowed to use Amazon Affiliate US links on Pinterest (something to do with Amazon’s Terms of Service).

 

That’s it!

You have officially done an affiliate pin.

Oh and I should mention – you don’t have to use the brand’s product photo. If you have an amazing original photo that you took yourself of the product, then totally feel free to use that one instead!

 

Want to take your Pinterest to the next level?

Grab the workbook I have put together below. Some actionable strategies you can using right away to increase your following, get more repins, and grow your traffic!

FREE Pinterest Workbook

Free_pinterest_worksheet

Build your traffic and your brand on Pinterest with these quick-to-implement strategies.

Powered by ConvertKit

 

A few things to remember:

 

Imagery:

One of the big “rules” of creating a great Pinterest feed, which encourages followers, is to have an overall aesthetic to your boards and pins. You want to curate a beautiful experience so when someone lands on your pinterest page, they are immediately drawn to it (if they share the same interests/style!) and follow you.

Keep this in mind when you are pinning affiliate stuff. Don’t pin it just for the hell of it. Make sure it stays true to your look and feel.

I always try to keep to vertical images, so a lot of times a products image just won’t work well with Pinterest. Even if I love the product, if the image isn’t good for Pinterest, I don’t bother.

 

Don’t bombard:

As with anything, don’t go overboard with this. I don’t have a formula and there isn’t a hard and fast rule, but I keep my affiliate pins to a certain small percentage of my overall pins.

 

Mix It Up:

You could create a board that was something like “favourite rugs” or “throw pillows” and pin a bunch of affiliate ones in there, but I personally like to mix up my affiliate pins throughout my main boards. For example, I could pin a product image of a gorgeous marble and wood cutting board into my kitchen design board. Or a gold toilet paper holder into my bathroom design board.

Do whatever feels right for your Pinterest feed, and then go in and monitor how your affiliate pins do a few months down the road. Maybe the ones mixed into your main boards will get more repins, or vice versa. Then build on whatever works.

I started doing affiliate links on Pinterest just a few months ago, so I don’t have a lot of data to report back on about whether it’s been very lucrative for me yet, but I’ll keep you posted on how it goes! The thing about Pinterest is that it only takes one pin to go kinda viral, and you may bring home some serious bank.

Let me know if you try out the tutorial, and how affiliate links on Pinterest do for you!

 

You might also be interested in:

If you have wanted to try a pinning scheduler, you’re in luck. I put together a seriously comprehensive BoardBooster tutorial. I have used both Boardbooster and Tailwind, and I honestly can’t live without Boardbooster.

How to setup Boardbooster | Put your pinning on autopilot and use this amazing scheduling tool to repin your content and automate new pins. Click through for the step-by-step set up tutorial.

This post has a bunch of affiliate networks to join, if you aren’t a part of many yet. You’ll be able to get affiliate links for a huge variety of brands, like Etsy, Target, Lowe’s, West Elm, and more.

Affiliate Marketing Networks | How to get affiliate links | Make money blogging | Affiliate networks for home and DIY bloggers

This last post goes over affiliate marketing strategy. If you’ve just been willy nilly inserting amazon affiliate links here and there into a few posts, have a read through this one to get a whole lot more strategic and purposeful.

Affiliate marketing is a great strategy for making money blogging. Here are 5 things you can do today to increase your affiliate earnings. Plus, where to get affiliate links, and a free tracking sheet!

*Affiliate link.

Create a Profitable Blog: FREE eCourse

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Sign up for my FREE 7-day email course to get action-packed lessons on monetizing your blog delivered straight to your inbox. Go from hobby blog to legit biz.

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How to Create Your Own Product Line with Dropshipping Manufacturers

Have you wondered how to create your own product line without going the handmade route?

Want to start an online shop to help grow your blog income? Get the info on creating a line of physical products to sell on Etsy, Amazon, eBay, Shopify, etc using dropshipping manufacturing. Plus a list of manufacturers to get you started!

 

If you have been reading this blog for a while, you’ll know I am a big promoter of diversifying your income streams as a blogger.

There are the traditional ways of monetizing – display ads, affiliate marketing, and sponsored work – but then there are some not-so-traditional avenues too.

Selling my own physical products in an online shop is one of the ways in which I have been able to dramatically increase my income. It’s a great way of expanding the potential your blogging biz.

I started off selling knit baby booties on Etsy, then moved into paintings, then art prints, and now carry pillows, pencil cases, mugs, tote bag, and more to come.

Etsy Shop Tips | Thinking about opening up an Etsy shop? Wondering if you should open up on your own e-commerce website instead? Here are the reasons why starting on Etsy is a great idea, and how launching a product line can be a good avenue for monetizing your blog. Click through for the full post and lots of etsy and blogging tips!

 

As currently a stay-at-home mama though, who still spends a lot of time on those “traditional” blogging channels, I needed the online shop to be manageable.

When I first started with the handmade items, making, packaging and shipping each one was OK. But as things grew, orders became overwhelming, I became busier with kids, and it wasn’t making sense anymore.

I thought about hiring a helper, but I wasn’t sure if that was really the best move financially or time-wise (managing a person takes time!). I also wanted to expand my line beyond things I knew how to physically make (ie. I didn’t know how to screeprint a tote bag), but I knew that I didn’t have the budget to purchase a large wholesale bulk order, or have the space to hold all that inventory.

 

Enter dropshipping manufacturers.

If you have a design idea and want to translate that into product, then a drop-shipping manufacturer might be just the right thing to go from concept to reality.

Basically, a dropshipping manufacturer is a company that does two things:

First, they print the product for you. So whether it’s a tee-shirt, a mug, an art print, a tea towel, whatever, they source the product and print it.

Secondly, the dropship part refers to the fact that they will ship the product directly to your customer on your behalf. This is amazing because it means you don’t have to package and ship the product yourself, and you don’t need to order and store inventory.

Before we dig in to how it works, make sure to snag my list of dropshipping manufacturers. I’m spilling the details in here on which manufacturer you might want to use, including the ones I have personally used for my own shop!

Get the List of Dropshipping Manufacturers!

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I'll send you my private list of dropshipping manufacturers straight to your email inbox. The perfect way to get starting with your new online shop!

Powered by ConvertKit

 

Here is how it works:

1 / You create your design

Maybe you are a hand-letterer who wants to translate your quotes onto products. Or maybe you are a painter. A graphic designer. A photographer. Whatever it is that you design, if it can be made into a digital graphic (ie. a PNG or JPG file), then it can be translated onto a product.

Even if you don’t have experience taking your art and making it digital, do some searching around on Google for tutorials. It’s probably easier than you think and just requires some software and know-how.

Or if you don’t have much experience in graphic design but know exactly what you’d like to create, then maybe take an online course in graphic design or watch some tutorials on YouTube. I self taught myself using videos and courses on how to use Illustrator!

The ability to take design and turn it into a product line is easier than it ever has been.

 

2 / Choose a dropshipping manufacturer

There are a ton of dropshipping manufacturers out there, and you might spend ages down the rabbit hole on Google checking them all out.

You should also know that not all dropshipping companies are manufacturers who print designs – some are simply companies that offer dropshipping of products (anything – tech, home decor, jewelry, etc!) that you could resell online, like through Amazon or your own website. That kind of dropshipping isn’t what I’m referring to here.

I’m referring only to companies that actually manufacture an item that has YOUR design on it. This is to create a brand new product line that has your aesthetic and your branding.

I have used several myself, researched, and talked to friends. Ultimately I have come up with a list of about 20 manufacturers who you could partner with. If you want access to that document, it’s all yours! Just enter your info below and I’ll shoot it over via email.

Get the List of Dropshipping Manufacturers!

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I'll send you my private list of dropshipping manufacturers straight to your email inbox. The perfect way to get starting with your new online shop!

Powered by ConvertKit

 

A word of warning: You’ll want to ask questions and be comfortable with whatever manufacturer you partner with. Find out where the items are made, how many employees they have, what their policies are, etc. I know for me that it’s important that I partner with a company that has strong ethics and fair policies.

Further, if you are going to sell on Etsy, then you need to abide by Etsy’s rules around manufacturers, and apply to have your outside manufacturer approved (you can do that here).

 

 

3 / Order samples

Once you have decided on a company to try out, upload your designs using their interface. You’ll be able to play around with placement, style, etc. and see how your design looks on the product.

I usually do a design in Adobe Illustrator (the graphic design software I use), upload it to my manufacturer’s website to see how it looks on the product mock-up, and then go back to Illustrator to make edits. I do this a few times until I get the product to look just right. Don’t rush it – make sure you take the time to ensure your design looks amazing.

Then once you’ve done that, I encourage you to order samples of the product. I have put an asterix beside the manufacturers I have personally used and can recommend in the Manufacturer’s List, but you’ll want to do quality control yourself.

Usually I’ll order samples of every product in every design and put it through testing before launching.

For example, with my mug line, I ordered the mugs and used them for my coffee every single day for months before actually launching. I wanted to make sure those bad boys held up to my dishwasher, and that I actually liked them before selling to the public.

Similarly, I’m currently putting some tee-shirts and tote bags through quality control testing right now!

Not only do you want these samples for ensuring quality, but you also need them to photograph for your shop.

 

4 / Photograph

Once you have developed your product line you need to actually launch it online.

There is prep work involved here: You need to photograph your products (or use a mock-up if that makes sense for what you’re selling) and write out your product descriptions.

If you aren’t adept at using your camera, either check out tutorials online or potentially hire someone to photograph your products for you. Photos are what sell products, so you want to make sure that yours are STELLAR.

Creative Market* is the best spot to find product mock-ups.

If you are looking for some mock-ups for art prints, stationery, or mugs, Lucie from White Hart Co. is one of my absolute faves. A really beautiful, minimal, style that lets the product shine. I love these  simple black frames* of hers if you are selling art or photography prints…

And aren’t these bright and sweet mug mock-ups* are LOVELY?!

Remember that with any mock-ups you need to make sure the sizing is right. You can’t advertise a 14 oz mug using a mock-up showing an 11 oz, or sell an 8×10 print with a mock up meant for 5×7. See what I mean?

As for writing your product descriptions, make sure you are connecting with your potential customer. Tell them how the product will solve a problem or enhance their life in some way, and then give all of the specifics: sizing, product materials, how it’s shipped, etc. Don’t leave anything out – you want to be as upfront with the info as possible, partly just to reduce the number of customer inquiries you may receive!

 

4 / Launch your new shop!

There are a ton of options for actually selling online.

You can sell on your own wordpress blog by using WooCommerce.

You can use an ecommerce platform like Shopify or BigCartel.

Or you can sell on one of the big sites like Etsy, Amazon, or eBay.

I currently use Etsy and have outlined my reasons for loving their platform in this post. But choose the platform(s) that are going to be the right fit for you. There are pro’s and con’s to each.

(I’m going to test out Amazon this year and will report back on my success over there!)

 

6 / Sell!

Now it’s time to sell!

Unless you are a unicorn, you probably won’t make a zillion sales right away magically. You need to put in the work!

This means marketing. Figuring out how to optimize the SEO for your product listings, having amazing photos, writing blog posts that feature your products, building your email list of customers, connecting with bloggers and influencers to have them promote your product, reaching out to press and magazines for features, etc etc.

Don’t let that overwhelm you though – simply choose one or two areas to focus on first and go from there. You don’t need to do it all at once! I would recommend focusing on SEO and photos first, and then the rest over time as your shop grows in momentum.

 

 

 

Want More?

You might also be interested in checking out this post, where I highlighted 8 bloggers who sell physical products. Maybe some inspiration will strike!

8 Bloggers who sell Physical Products through their Bog | Blog Monetization | Make money blogging | Start an online shop | Click through to read the case studies!

And the post where I go over Etsy pro’s and con’s.

Etsy Shop Tips | Thinking about opening up an Etsy shop? Wondering if you should open up on your own e-commerce website instead? Here are the reasons why starting on Etsy is a great idea, and how launching a product line can be a good avenue for monetizing your blog. Click through for the full post and lots of etsy and blogging tips!

Free Resource

And if you didn’t catch it above, make sure to download my Manufacturer’s List to help you get on your way to setting up your shop. I’ve done the legwork for you – save yourself the headache!

Get the List of Dropshipping Manufacturers!

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I'll send you my private list of dropshipping manufacturers straight to your email inbox. The perfect way to get starting with your new online shop!

Powered by ConvertKit

*Affiliate links have been used. Please know I only ever recommend products and services I genuinely believe in and use myself.

Seasonal Blog Post Ideas for Every Month of the Year - perfect for home, DIY and lifestyle bloggers. No more writer's block when you use this as your guide to blog content creation!

How To Create a Year’s Worth of Blog Post Ideas in 1 Hour

Do you ever struggle with coming up with blog post ideas and planning out your content?

Hit writer’s block from time to time, or just feel plain un-motivated?

Well, working from some overall theme guidelines might just be what you need to stay on track and come up with a ton of blog posts.

Seasonal Blog Post Ideas for Every Month of the Year - perfect for home, DIY and lifestyle bloggers. No more writer's block when you use this as your guide to blog content creation!

 

I plan content for 3 months in advance for my home decor blog, The Sweetest Digs.

Before I started using an editorial calendar, I was flying by the seat of my pants and inevitably felt rushed, didn’t produce quality content, and felt a little bit like a crazy person trying to finish up DIYs the night before I wanted to post them. Exactly the kind of thing that leads to blogger burnout.

So, planning content out in advance is KEY. To do this quickly and to stay on trend, I have created overall topic ideas for each month of the year that any home decor / DIY / lifestyle blogger can use.

These fall in line with holidays and general interests, so your readers will feel that your posts are timely and relevant.

Before we dive in, make sure to grab my editorial calendar printable, so you can sit down and start filling it out with blog post ideas for each month. It feels *amazing* to have your year largely mapped out. You also get some sweet goal-setting worksheets too!

Editorial Calendar & Goal Setting Worksheets

Editorial_calendar_and_goal_setting_sheets

Grab these free templates (the very ones I use!) to help you plan out your blog content and set biz goals. Your productivity will go through the roof - promise!

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The infographic above is perfect to pin on Pinterest as a reminder, but here are all the topic ideas by month…

 

January:

  • De-cluttering
  • Organization projects – you could even offer free printables related to organizing and budgeting
  • Budget-friendly DIYs (people have just spent money on the holidays, so purse strings are tight at this time of year!)
  • New Year Resolutions
  • Healthy living – Recipes, Exercise, Clean Homes, etc.

 

February:

  • Valentine’s day gift guide
  • Valentine’s day decor and crafts
  • Date ideas
  • Handmade gift ideas
  • Any pink decor or DIYs

March:

  • St Patrick’s day decor
  • Easter home decor
  • Easter egg decorating
  • Any interior room makeover is great at this time of year, since people are usually stuck inside (winter!)

 

April:

  • Easter home decor
  • Easter egg decorating
  • Freshening up the home with lots of white, pastels, and spring patterns – time to break away from the winter stuff!
  • Spring wardrobe and accessories

 

May:

  • Cleaning tips
  • Organization Ideas
  • Gardening tips; Landscaping ideas
  • Porch Makeovers
  • Flower arranging
  • Switching out your decor to that summery, beach-y aesthetic. Think light and bright.

 

June:

  • Upcycling projects – garage sale season is in full swing this month!
  • Backyard makeovers
  • Curb appeal projects
  • Landscaping
  • Pools / Spa
  • Fitness (people want to feel healthy and fit for summer time!)

 

July:

  • Colourful and fun projects
  • Outdoor parties and events
  • Cottage Decor
  • Gardening
  • Road trips
  • Summer bucket lists
  • Cocktails and BBQ
  • Summer style
  • Summer reading list
  • Beach must-haves

An example of a cottage bunkie makeover I did – a perfect type of post for July/August.

August:

  • Beach must-haves
  • Outdoor parties and events
  • Back to school shopping guides (give people enough time to order online)
  • Back to school projects and traditions
  • Flea market decorating (people have been hitting up garage sales and flea markets this summer!)

 

September:

  • Fall decor ideas
  • Decorating with warm colours – think red/orange/brown/pinks – and lots of layers and textures
  • Fall fashion and transitional pieces
  • Fall printables are always popular!
  • We’re getting into all things pumpkin spice 🙂

 

October:

  • Halloween decor and DIYs
  • Costume ideas
  • Thanksgiving table decor
  • Thanksgiving DIYs
  • Fall Wreaths
  • Using natural elements in your decor and DIYs – acorns, leaves, rocks, sticks, etc.
  • Pumpkin painting and carving ideas

November:

  • Christmas gift guides (get these out in November to ensure your readers have time to order online!)
  • Holiday home decor
  • Any indoor projects popular as people move inside for the colder months
  • Cozy decorating – lots of layers, textures, etc.

 

December:

  • Holiday home decor
  • Handmade gift ideas
  • Holiday traditions
  • Winter Printable
  • Christmas Tree Decor

 

Posts that work all year round:

Beyond these seasonal ideas, there are many styles of blog posts that will work all year round. Try and mix these in throughout the year, where they make sense for your schedule.

  • Room makeovers (everyone loves a good before and after!)
  • Renovations (always try to write these as evergreen posts where you are teaching the reader something tangible – not just “stories” of your own renovations, which won’t have a long lifespan on the internet)
  • DIY project tutorials
  • “Day in your life” posts (great for injecting some really personal stuff into your blog and connecting with your readers!)
  • Reviews of products or “favourite things” round ups – just be sure to keep these really genuine, not just an obvious spot for affiliate links
  • Recipes and/or Fashion Tips, if you blog about those topics
  • Personal stories – It’s great to do these every now and then to create a deeper connection with your reader. I would just warn against doing these ALL the time, as often they don’t become evergreen pieces of content that bring you traffic for months and years down the road. Try to mostly create blog posts that solve a problem, make sense on their own, and can stand the test of time, and then throw in personal stories and anecdotes when you can.

 

Want more?

You might be interested in checking out how to grow your blog with goal setting, and this post on how to utilize an editorial calendar.

 

Free Printable

Don’t forget to snag the editorial calendar I use for my own blog content creation. Once you’ve printed those, go make yourself a cup of tea and have fun blog post brainstorming. I loooooove that part! You’ve got this.

Start Your Online Shop: 8 Bloggers Who Sell Physical Products

One of the things I’m always talking about when it comes to monetizing your blog, is to make sure that you diversify your income streams. In the ever-changing landscape of blogging, you do not want to put all of your eggs in one basket.

Why?

If you rely solely on ad revenue, then if your page views take a nose-dive because of a pinterest algorithm change, you’re panicking. If you rely mostly on sponsored posts and there are a dry couple of months when brand budgets are down, you’ll be feeling that too. If you rely only on affiliate income, what if a slow month randomly hits after Christmas?

By diversifying the income streams, if one of them takes a hit one month, then it isn’t really the end of the world. And, let’s have some real talk: it’s hard to build up a sizeable income with only the traditional forms of blog monetization (ads, sponsored work, affiliate marketing). It takes time, a lot of hard work, and the chase for page views.

Selling your own products or services – whatever that might look like for you – is something I recommend to every single blogger who wants to turn their blog into a business. It means you are taking your revenue into your own hands.

blogger-shops-physical-products

Before we dive in, make sure to grab my eBook that goes over how to start a product line or service as part of your blog. There are a TON of tips packed in and it’ll be a perfect jumping off point for this new part of your business.

FREE eBook!

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This eBook covers the 101 of selling products & services, includes case studies, and has a huge list of product and service ideas to get your blogging biz booming!

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So what about going the physical product route? Are you at a bit of a loss of where to start? Thinking about starting a product line can be daunting or overwhelming.

I thought it would be fun to check out what others are doing as a source of inspiration. Here are some amazing bloggers who have all started selling physical products. They are all a little different, doing things their own way, and rocking it.

 

1 // Centsational Girl

Kate from Centsational Girl is one of the original DIY and home decor bloggers. The girl has created an amazing and popular blog, that tons of folks flock to for inspiration and advice. She clearly has an eye for design, so she has used that to create a fabric, wallpaper, and gift wrap line utilizing SpoonFlower. So many people go to her for design advice, so it was probably a natural move to offer something that could help get that “Centsational Girl look” in their own homes.

Spoonflower is a cool way to go, too, since they do all the printing so it’s extremely easy to setup a shop and you don’t need to worry about inventory and overhead costs.

Check out Kate’s shop here.

centsational-girl-shop

 

2 // Craftberry Bush

You guys know Lucy from CraftBerry Bush, right? She does the most gorgeous watercolour paintings – such a talent! She has been able to take those paintings of hers and create a full product line using Society6. Society6 handles the manufacturing of the products, the payment processing, and the shipping, so it’s extremely easy to get started on their website.

Having a popular blog like CraftBerry Bush means that Lucy can direct her readers to her shop. I would guess that it might be challenging to get your stuff seen on a Society6 shop on it’s own (there are so many other sellers out there!), but being able to send your blog readers over to the shop is great.

Check out Lucy’s shop here.

craftberry-bush-shop

 

3 // Dans Le Lakehouse

Tanya from Dans Le Lakehouse has a knack for finding quirky and collectible vintage wares. She has created an engaged and large blog readership by writing about her mission to decorate her lakeside home in a mid-century style (with a lot of turquoise!). Because her readers love that same style, she started an Etsy shop where she sells her vintage finds. Tanya loves the treasure hunting, so this was a perfect avenue for her to increase her revenue by doing something she adores and is good at.

Check out her shop here.

dans-lakehouse-shop

 

4 // The Sweet Escape

Melissa from The Sweet Escape sells the most lovely handmade cake toppers. I wish I could get married all over again just to be able to use one of these beauties. I definitely have a cake topper on my wish-list for James and Maya’s birthdays next year!

Since Melissa is an amaaaaazing crafter and event stylist, this was a perfect avenue for her to take. It allows readers to get some of that signature Melissa-look for their own parties.

Check out Melissa’s shop here.

sweet-escape-shop

 

5 // Vintage Revivals

Mandi from Vintage Revivals has a shop that perfectly reflects her fearless DIY style. From the himmeli wreath kits, to brass planters, to wooden menagerie from her epic nursery design, readers can pick up her products to emulate her style.

I think this is a perfect example of someone who blogs about DIY and design, and who has been able to monetize their blog with products that totally reflect her style and compliment her blog posts.

Check out Mandi’s shop here.

vintage-revivals-shop

 

6 // In The Fun Lane

Holly from In the Fun Lane has incredible style. I love the way she keeps her spaces really neutral and minimalist, but will then throw in little pops of colour in a quirky way. She doesn’t have a big shop, but she has started selling some of her art prints through her blog. They are photographs she took in New Orleans and they have that quintessential “Holly style”. I love them!

Check out Holly’s shop here.

holly-baker-shop

 

7 // East Coast Creative

Monica from East Coast Creative Blog came out with a bedding board game. I know, I know, you’re like ….  “ummm, a what, Gemma?”

No, it isn’t all about sex. It’s about bringing fun and games back into your relationship. Getting you to communicate and laugh with your partner. Just go have a look, it’s pretty neat.  And TOTALLY different from any other physical product I have seen other DIY and Home bloggers create.

Check out Monica’s board game here.

east-coast-creative-shop

 

8 // The Sweetest Digs (me!!)

And me! I have been selling physical products of one kind or another since 2012. I started with knitted items on Etsy (flop!!!) but have learned and made my way through trial and error to a product line that I love and feel excited about.

I sell art prints, pillows, pencil cases, mugs, and am launching a few new goodies soon too (tote bags! tanks!). Since narrowing in on my target niche this past year (DIY and home bloggers … that’s you, right?) it has been easy for me to create new products for my shop that I know my fellow decor-loving girlbosses would dig.

I have used Etsy since getting started, but am planning on getting my products directly available on this site too in the new year. I design everything myself, but then use manufacturing partners to turn my products into real life things.

Check out my shop here.

sweetest-digs-shop

So there you have it.

Eight bloggers who have created physical product lines to help monetize their blogging businesses.

 

Want more?

Head here to read more about how to design a product line using drop-shipping manufacturers. It’s way easier than you think!

You can even download my free list of drop-shipping manufacturers below (including which ones I personally work with!).

Get the List of Dropshipping Manufacturers!

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I'll send you my private list of dropshipping manufacturers straight to your email inbox. The perfect way to get starting with your new online shop!

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Etsy Shop Tips | Thinking about opening up an Etsy shop? Wondering if you should open up on your own e-commerce website instead? Here are the reasons why starting on Etsy is a great idea, and how launching a product line can be a good avenue for monetizing your blog. Click through for the full post and lots of etsy and blogging tips!

6 Reasons Why You Should Be Selling on Etsy

One of the best ways to monetize your blog is to create a product or service to sell. The key to building up a successful income as a blogger is to diversify, and by selling your own stuff you are not only in total control, but the sky is the limit in terms of income generation.

If you are thinking of creating a product line (physical or digital products), have you thought about selling on Etsy? I don’t want to discourage you from selling your products on your own blog (if you are setup with that functionality, then go for it!), but Etsy might just be the right place for getting your online shop off the ground.

I first opened up shop on Etsy in 2012. I tried out different things – from knitted baby booties, to paintings, to art prints.

There has been a lot of trial and error, honing in on my niche, and figuring out what works for me. I now sell prints, mugs, pillows, and pouches directly on Etsy, wholesale through Etsy, wholesale locally, and sometimes in person at craft shows or pop-up shops. My little experiment selling knitted booties on Etsy totally turned into something way bigger than I imagined, and it has been a significant contributor to my income (you can check out my shop here).

Etsy Shop Tips | Thinking about opening up an Etsy shop? Wondering if you should open up on your own e-commerce website instead? Here are the reasons why starting on Etsy is a great idea, and how launching a product line can be a good avenue for monetizing your blog. Click through for the full post and lots of etsy and blogging tips!

 

Before we dive in, grab my free list of drop-shipping manufacturers. This goes over how to partner with a manufacturer to create a product line, and which manufacturers you might want to work with (I have included the ones I have personally used and can recommend!).

Get the List of Dropshipping Manufacturers!

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I'll send you my private list of dropshipping manufacturers straight to your email inbox. The perfect way to get starting with your new online shop!

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Selling on Etsy:

I still haven’t started selling my stuff on my own blog, largely because I haven’t felt the need to yet!

Here are some of the biggest advantages to selling on Etsy and why you might consider starting over there:

 

1 / It’s Easy to Setup

Registering an account on Etsy and then opening up your shop is crazy easy. Of course there is a lot of thought that needs to go into creating an amazing shop: the name, branding, photography, listing descriptions, policies, etc. but the actual nuts and bolts of getting a shop page up is so simple. Here is a link to Etsy’s “Seller’s Handbook” where you can find the answers to just about every question.

If you were to build your own e-commerce site, you would need to buy a domain name, get a website host, design and create an entire website, setup payment methods, etc – a pretty major under-taking, particularly if you are just looking to test the waters with a creative business. Even if you already have your blog all setup, the ability to setup e-commerce on it isn’t always easy or straight-forward if you have an expansive product line. The fact that Etsy has all of that handled and you just need to walk through a few quick steps to get your shop up and running within minutes it’s pretty darn dreamy.

 

2 / The Payment Processing is Organized & Reasonable

Etsy already has payment processing all setup within its’ system. This is gold, since figuring out what payment processor to use and how to implement it properly on your own website can be confusing and more tech-y than most people are comfortable with on their own.

The breakdown of fees with Etsy is this: You pay $0.20USD to list an item and then a 3.5% transaction fee of the item’s cost once it has sold. So if you were selling a $20 item, the 3.5% cost would be 70 cents on top of the 20 cents you’ve already paid to list it — so 90 cents total in fees. You would take home $19.10. Here is the section on the Etsy website where they chat about fees and payment policies.

Those are definitely reasonable rates overall. If you were to be hosting your own e-commerce store, you wouldn’t have the $0.20 listing fee, but you would still need to pay for payment processing, the cost of website hosting, domain name purchase, etc.

 

3 / It Has Built-in Traffic

Although it does have competitors, Etsy has made a name for itself worldwide and subsequently sees huge traffic. According to this website, in December of 2015 Etsy had over 92 million visitors that month alone. Crazytown, right?!

Now, why WOULDN’T you want to be able to tap into that existing traffic base with your own shop?! Yes, it means that it comes with a whole lot of competition (I can guarantee that there is someone selling something similar to you on Etsy), but being able to drum up the visits to your own e-commerce site would be super time and energy intensive.

If you are smart about the look of your shop, how you write up your listings, your keywords, and use SEO (search engine optimization), you’ll be able to be found on Etsy. The more work you put into it, the better you’re going to do… but being able to start somewhere that already has that level of traffic coming through the virtual “door” is such a huge plus.

[this “jeans, tee shirt, top knot” mug is one of my listings on Etsy!]

4 / There is a Level of Trust and Credibility

Because Etsy is such a brand in and of itself, there is a certain level of trust that a potential buyer has when they are shopping on Etsy. If you have your own e-commerce store out there and haven’t built up a reputation yet, you might just look super random and not trustworthy to a possible customer.

Buying through Etsy where there are policies and procedures in place, lets a buyer know that it’s a safe bet and they can trust that the item will actually be delivered to their door (and if it isn’t, there are avenues they can take to make formal complaints).

Another way Etsy helps you build trust around your brand is simply by giving you a legit shop website. If you already sell locally at craft shows or in boutiques, having an Etsy shop can be that extra vehicle to expand your marketing potential. If you want to hand out business cards to potential customers or sell wholesale locally, being able to send them to an actual shop website instead of just having an email address looks way more profesh. It adds a certain level of biz credibility when you have your own website, you know?

 

5 / There is a Community

Sure, Etsy is huge and it means there are a zillion sellers on there, but it also comes with a great community. The Etsy staff are good at providing valuable newsletters and helpful information on the site, and there are seller teams that you can join. Teams may be geographically based or by genre of product, but either way they are a great way of forming a community of like-minded folks. There are also lots of facebook groups out there for Etsy sellers, again helping to form that community.

It’s important as a solopreneur that you have other biz friends to bounce ideas off of, get advice from, share success, and commiserate on frustrations with. Being an Etsy seller is kind of like automatically having an entry ticket to all of those groups out there.

 

6 / A Testing Ground

You might just be playing around with the idea of starting up an online shop, not sure if the product(s) you have in mind would actually sell, or maybe just want to keep it as a very low-cost hobby business. Whatever the case – Etsy is the perfect place to test the waters. The only start up cost is that 20 cent listing fee. It doesn’t get much cheaper than that! For example, listing 20 items would cost you $4 and it would be the perfect opportunity to see what sells.

 

Having said all of that, there are some cons to setting up your shop on Etsy:

 

  • You are limited to Etsy’s overall aesthetic and look. Sure you can brand your shop with your header and photography, but you can’t create a fully customized shop page. In my opinion, this is fine in the beginning and might always be for many sellers, but if you want something really on brand and custom then you will likely want to open your shop’s own website at some point down the road.
  • Etsy has certain policies and procedures set in place that you are bound to. I have never found anything to be much of a barrier, but there might be elements that irk you. You are also always at the mercy of any changes they make.
  • You can’t easily collect email addresses from customers. This drives me crazy. I would love the option of having buyers opt-in to my newsletter upon purchase or have a very obvious “sign up!” button somewhere in my shop, but this isn’t possible with Etsy.
  • There is a lot of competition. It’s hard to stand out in a sea of designers and crafters, so you really need to be on your A-game in terms of marketing your products beautifully, getting your name out there, and understanding how to get your listings high up in the search. You would need to do all of this if you set up your own e-commerce site too, but all that to say that you can’t just throw up a listing and expect it to sell like wildfire without working at it.

Despite those items though, in my opinion Etsy is where it’s at for getting started with an online shop. Especially as a busy blogger who wants to create their own line but doesn’t want the headache of figuring out how to transition their blog into an e-commerce site.

If you sign up through this link, you can get your 40 first listings FREE! And full disclosure – I get 40 free too. So it’s a win-win all around!

And don’t forget to grab my list of drop-shipping manufactureres. You’ll be surprised how easy it is to design products with the help of a manufacturer!

Get the List of Dropshipping Manufacturers!

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I'll send you my private list of dropshipping manufacturers straight to your email inbox. The perfect way to get starting with your new online shop!

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Create a Profitable Blog: FREE eCourse

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Sign up for my FREE 7-day email course to get action-packed lessons on monetizing your blog delivered straight to your inbox. Go from hobby blog to legit biz.

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Printable Blog Planner | Blog Tools | Blogging Editorial Calendar and Worksheets | Blogger Guidebook

The Printable Blog Planner That Will Help You Grow Your Blog Biz

Do you want to double or triple your productivity as a blogger?

Start actually using an editorial calendar and goal-setting method and stick to it?

Use a system for each blog post that will ensure it’s written in an evergreen, SEO and Pinterest-ready way?

Then grab your coffee and keep reading. I’ve got a really sweet printable blog planner you need to hear about.

Printable Blog Planner | Blog Tools | Blogging Editorial Calendar and Worksheets | Blogger Guidebook

 

There came a point in my blogging career where I realized that I felt “busy” all the time, but that the busy didn’t necessarily translate into productivity.

You know the feeling: You are doing a thousand things every day but never feel like you are *actually* growing your blogging biz. I knew I needed a concrete tool for myself to stay on track with my task list, streamline my systems, and keep myself organized.

I had a traditional agenda that was pretty, but I wasn’t actually using it. The design wasn’t laid out for a blogger. I tried to use a google calendar for my blog stuff but I never really liked having to look at it online. I was constantly making hand-written to-do lists, brainstorming, and trying to set goals on random sheets of paper, because my agenda didn’t have any dedicated space for it. And I couldn’t track any of my blog growth or other blogging-specific info, since there wasn’t a spot for it.

I kept feeling like there were important things I wanted to write down or keep in one spot, and I didn’t have the right tool to do it.

So, I created it for myself. I designed printable sheets that were dedicated specifically to growing a blogging business. There is an editorial calendar. There is a goal setting section. There is an audit tool that works like a checklist for each blog post before you hit publish. There is a section for tracking social stats and blog growth. Multiple sheets for tracking income by month and year. Contact sheets. A blog post brainstorm sheet. And more.

You can buy the Printable Blog Planner here. It’s currently on special at $9.95. A steal!!

blog-planner-5

All in all, there are over 20 sheets that make up the planner. I wanted each and every sheet to be seriously useful. No frilly stuff just to bulk it up. Just sheets that I knew I would actually use and that would help me build a better blog.

Ever since I printed out that first version, there literally hasn’t been a day that I don’t use it. I printed the sheets and put them into a slim white binder, and it sits on my desk right beside my computer. I can glance over and know exactly what’s on my calendar for the week, exactly what I need to be working on to reach my goals, and so much more.

Because it’s date-less, I can just re-print any sheets I need and re-fill the binder as required.

Blog Editorial Calendar | Free editorial calendar template | How to use a blogging content planning system | Blogging tips

Plus, did I mention it’s pretty?! There is a whole lotta pink and fun graphics. And since I couldn’t settle on just one, there are 6 cover page options. Ha.

blog-planner-2

 

Oh and I threw in 3 free art printables that you can either print out to use in your planner as section dividers, or just frame and put up in your home office!

I’m especially obsessed with the shine bright one. It looks amazing just up on a white wall with some washi tape.

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blog-planner-7

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Because the calendar sheets don’t have months on them, you can just print off 12 for each year. It means you can use the planner year after year, without having to buy a new one.

In terms of printing – don’t stress. It’s super easy. There are detailed instructions on how to print included in the purchase, but basically you just print the sheets on regular 8.5 x 11 white paper, hole punch, and slip into a 1/2″ binder. You can do it all in colour or not, and do different numbers of sheets as it makes sense for your use (printing in black and white makes the binder super cheap to print).

You need to print several copies of the following pages, as you’ll need multiples to take you through the year. This is generally what I recommend:

  • Calendar sheet: 12 copies (1 for each month)
  • 90-Day Goals: 4 copies (1 for each quarter)
  • To-Do List: 5-6 copies
  • Blog Post Ideas: 5-6 copies
  • Blog Post Brainstorm: 10 to get started
  • Blog Post Audit: 1 if you are going to use it as a guide and not mark it up, multiple if you plan to mark up the sheet for each post
  • Biz Expenses – Monthly: 12
  • Income – Monthly: 12
  • Income Breakdown – Monthly: 12
  • The rest –> Print just a single copy for the year! You may find that you have to print additional sheets every now and again, but these will be good quantities to get you started.

blog-income-report

Here are what a few folks are saying…

“With pieces of note papers everywhere, to-do lists and blog post ideas swirling around in my head, I’ve been looking for a good system to capture it all in one place. Not only did this planner help me to get organized, but included in it are extremely helpful tips and templates to take our blogging to the next level, such as ones for blog post brainstorming and short- and long-term goal-setting. I highly recommend this valuable resource.” – Jane (& Sonja), Sustain My Craft Habit

“Gemma’s blogger planner was EXACTLY what I needed to help me develop and stick to my blogging strategies. Anything that could be added to this planner is in there and I now depend on it daily. A blogger planner isn’t something that you can really appreciate until you have tried it and now there’s no turning back for me! This planner meets my needs, is super chic, and the price can’t be beaten. Thank you for thinking of it all, Gemma!”– Amy, AmyHowardSocial.com

“I honestly didn’t think I’d benefit from a blog planner. I have an editorial calendar system that is rocking BUT I’ve struggled to keep all the information a blogger needs in order. Affiliate spreadsheets, brand contacts, and social stats? Come on! And goals? I couldn’t even remember where I’d written them down to see if I’d met them. It is such a lifesaver to have all this information in one place and looking beautiful. Thank you Gemma for changing the way I look at blog planning!” – Colleen, LemonThistle.com

blog-post-audit-tool

Blog Editorial Calendar | Free editorial calendar template | How to use a blogging content planning system | Blogging tips

You can buy the Printable Blog Planner here. It’s currently on special at $9.95. A steal!!

blog-planner-1

planner-buy-button

If you don’t want the full planner quite yet, then feel free to grab just the goal setting sheet below. It’ll help you map out your big goals and grow your blog and business faster.

5 Strategies to Increase Your Blog’s Affiliate Marketing Revenue

Affiliate marketing can be an amazing revenue stream for bloggers, but often it isn’t utilized it to it’s full potential.

I wasn’t strategic when it came to affiliate marketing on my own blog, The Sweetest Digs, for such a long time, but when I finally started implementing some strategies and developed a system, things started to click. Conversions started to happen. And finally affiliate marketing became an actual revenue stream that brought in more than just a few bucks every month.

Affiliate marketing is a great strategy for making money blogging. Here is how to get affiliate links, and which affiliate networks to join. List of networks included for home decor and DIY bloggers!

Before we dive in, grab my very own affiliate tracking sheet. I use this tool to organize all of my affiliate networks and links, which makes it super easy to embed affiliate links into blog posts and social media outreach.

Want to use my affiliate tracking system?

Affiliate-networks-tracking-sheet

Save time and hassle by using my very own tracking sheet (an Excel document) to organize your affiliate networks and key products!

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Affiliate Marketing Strategies

So what are 5 strategies that you can start implementing today to take your own affiliate marketing revenue up a notch?

Here goes….

 

1 // Optimize Your Best Posts

I want you to go login to your Google Analytics dashboard. From there go to Behaviour > Site Content > All Pages. Here you will be able to see your most popular blog posts. Make note of the top 10 or top 20.

Now one by one, head into each of those blog posts and add in any affiliate links that you didn’t do the first time around.

Is it a DIY tutorial? Link to all the supplies needed for the project using affiliate links.

Is it a room makeover or update of some kind? Have a section with a “source guide” where you link to a lot of the products that are featured in the space (even if you can’t find the exact match, link to something similar so your reader can copy the look).

Ultimately it would be great to optimize every blog post, but getting going on your most popular 10 or 20 posts is a good place to start. You know that the majority of your traffic is going to those posts, so it makes sense to spend the time on them. While you’re in there, you could also upgrade the images or include a Pinterest-friendly graphic, if you hadn’t already.

 

2 // Add Affiliate-Heavy Recommendation Pages

Your ability to add affiliate links to your blog isn’t limited to posts. Have you ever noticed any “Shop Our Home” or “Fave DIY Supplies” type pages on a blog? Well those recommendation-type pages are a great spot to link up to your favourite products in one spot – and all (or as many as possible) as affiliate links!

Chris Loves Julia does a great job of this on their “Shop Our House” page. They show all the photos of their gorgeous home, and then identify where you can get the same products so you can achieve a similar look in your own space.

shop-house1

Pages like this are powerful because they don’t get lost and buried into archives like blog posts do. They live in a prominent spot on your website and are highly visible for new visitors.

Whatever it is that you blog about, there has got to be a related products page you could create. If you are a food blogger, it might be kitchen tools. If you are an interior design blogger, it might be online resources for furniture and accessories. If you are a fashion blogger, it would obviously be clothes and beauty recommendations. You get the gist!

 

3 // Use The Pre-Publish “Affiliate Lens”

You should be integrating affiliate links naturally into just about every blog post you write. If you go through each post with an “affiliate lens” before hitting publish, I bet there are quite a few spots you could add some links without it feeling sales-y.

Most of your blog posts should be offering value to your readers – you are likely teaching them something with each post. Whether it’s how to cook something, how to pull together an outfit, how to style a bookshelf, how to pull off a craft, how to design a room, whatever – most involve products of some kind. Products that you can link to!

Your readers want to emulate what you are doing and teaching them, so make it easy on them and provide the links to the products so that they can do just that.

This DIY driftwood hanger post of mine, for example, has all of the supplies linked as affiliate links (mostly from Amazon). It’s just a simple DIY tutorial but I have ensured that every thing that can be linked, is linked.

affiliate-links

 

4 // Integrate a Round-Up or Review Post Every Month

I hope you are using an editorial calendar to plan your blog content (if not, head here to snag my free editorial calendar printable).

Alongside your regular schedule of content, could you include a round-up or review post every month?

When I say round-up, I’m referring to a round up of products that relate to a particular theme. Budget-friendly headboards, or the best products for infants, or the top 10 online resources to find yarn for knitters. Here is an example I did – a round-up of Fall decorations.

fall-decor

A review, on the other hand, would be an in-depth look at a product that you are using yourself and want to recommend to your readers. Maybe you are a food blogger and have fallen in love with your Vitamix. Or if you’re a home decor blogger, maybe you want to review an armchair you bought for your living room. If you are a craft blogger, maybe you could review your Cricut machine.

Whatever it is, doing an in depth review where you go over the pro’s and con’s and show readers how you use it can act as a great affiliate post if it encourages folks to purchase the same product. Even better would be to review a few things against each other – like the vitamix versus a few other brands of blenders. Obviously this can be more costly, but it will make for a more powerful review and recommendation.

I’m not saying to go out and review every single thing and fill your blog with only reviews (boooooring for your readers!), but if you genuinely use and love something and can write an in depth review that will be helpful for others, then you should do it. I know that I almost always google for reviews of any product over $50 that I’m planning on buying.

With these round-up and review posts, make sure they are well optimized for SEO so that you get the organic Google traffic for them. And like I said, don’t do them too often, but maybe once a month. Then if they are SEO optimized and have a good Pinterest graphic, they may make you money for months and years to come.

 

5 // Add a “PS: I’m loving ____” To Your Newsletters

If you aren’t building up an email list and regularly emailing your VIP, then start now. Seriously. An email list is going to be your best marketing tool for your business (read more about why here).

Your newsletters can be a great spot to add a very casual affiliate link here and there. Just having a “PS. I’m loving these ____ right now” line with a pic of whatever product you are recommending feels relaxed and not too pushy. If those subscribers are on your list, it’s because they love your style and really want to see what you are purchasing and using.

As an example, I get emails from Best Friends for Frosting. I love her content and the pretty pink newsletters! In the bottom of some of her emails are these fave finds. Such a great spot to use some affiliate links.

email-affiliate-1

 

So, those are 5 strategies you can implement today to start ramping up your affiliate revenue. Don’t feel like it’s a lost revenue stream for you if you haven’t had success with it yet. Be strategic, go through all of your content with that affiliate lens, and over time that revenue will build up.

As you get more page views and your evergreen posts continue to gain traction through search engines and Pinterest, they can continue to earn you money for a long time to come.

Super important note? ALWAYS remember that you need to disclose your affiliate links everywhere you use them. In blog posts, on social media, in your newsletters. Everywhere.

And in case you missed it, you’ll also want to check out this post where I go over the top 11 affiliate networks you should join to get all the affiliate links you’ll need for your posts.

affiliate-networks-blogger-copy

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Blog Editorial Calendar | Free editorial calendar template | How to use a blogging content planning system | Blogging tips

How to Create an Editorial Calendar for Your Blog [FREE printable]

If you aren’t using some kind of editorial calendar for your blog and you want to be serious about growing your blogging business, then stop what you’re doing, grab a coffee, and read this post, OK?

When I got serious about using a monthly calendar and actually sticking to it, did it ever made such a huge difference to my ability to stay on track, plan out my work, and be way more productive.

Instead of using any kind of software or online calendar, I decided to go old school and plan out my calendar with pen and paper. I had been using a google calendar before, but once I went to paper (and kept my calendar with other blogging paperwork in my blog planner), the whole routine just stuck.

*Note: If you are working with a team, then you’ll need some kind of online tool like Trello to manage your calendar and task list so that everyone can update it and knows what’s going on. The paper method is better for the solopreneur or someone (like me!) who does all the content myself but hires help for things like social media managing.

Free Blog Editorial Calendar Printable | How to use a blogging content planning system to grow your blog.

 

Before we dive in to how to actually use the editorial calendar, make sure you snag it. Enter your email address below and I’ll send you the printable straight to your inbox.

Editorial Calendar & Goal Setting Worksheets

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Grab these free templates (the very ones I use!) to help you plan out your blog content and set biz goals. Your productivity will go through the roof - promise!

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Blog Editorial Calendar | Free editorial calendar template | How to use a blogging content planning system | Blogging tips

 

Here is my editorial calendar method from start to finish.

Step 1 / Brainstorm

At the end of each month (before the next one starts), I sit down and have a brainstorming sesion.

My first step is to write out all of my blog post ideas for that month. Usually I go overboard and write out every single idea that comes to mind.

When you are doing this, be mindful of any products you are wanting to promote. If you have an Etsy shop with printables, think about a blog post that somehow incorporates a framed print (maybe in a room makeover?). If you are trying to sell online decorating services, maybe you could have one post that is dedicated to showcasing some past client work. You always want to use your blog posts as a marketing tool for any paid product or service you have.

Once I have those ideas down, I also add in any sponsored posts I know are coming up. Because I only plan one month at a time, it means that I usually have a pretty good idea of any sponsored content I have coming down the pipeline.

You also want to think about the seasonal themes and incorporate some of those types of posts into your calendar. If you are stuck for ideas, this post lays out blog post ideas for every month of the year.

Blog Editorial Calendar | Free editorial calendar template | How to use a blogging content planning system | Blogging tips

 

Step 2 / Categorize

After all of the ideas and sponsored posts are down on paper, I categorize them.

If you are a home and DIY blogger, then those categories might look something like this:

  • DIY project tutorial
  • Home decor finds or some kind of round up
  • Room makeover (not necessarily just “before + after” – could be a progress post of a makeover)
  • Home decor lesson or trends
  • Product Review (this is a great spot to integrate some affiliate marketing!)
  • … etc, etc. (you may also do recipes, fashion, or other “lifestyle” posts – these categories will be different from blogger to blogger)

Why do I categorize?

Well, not only to make sure that I have scattered the posts appropriately throughout the month, but it’s also because each category has a different time requirement. Doing a DIY project where I need to gather supplies, do the project, take photography, edit photos, write, etc, takes WAY longer than doing a round-up post of favourite marble bathroom accessories. A room makeover update post would be somewhere in between those two. So by categorizing, I can be realistic about how many of each type of post I can get done within the month.

You want to focus on writing good evergreen content instead of too many “filler” or quickie posts, so you need to be realistic about how many you can actually do in a month without running yourself ragged or not accomplishing your other, bigger blog biz goals (you can read about my method for planning and accomplishing goals here).

I’m a big believer in quality over quantity in terms of blog posts. By focusing on really stellar evergreen content and not trying to stick to an unrealistic posting schedule, you still have time to grow the other parts of your business model AND stay sane.

 

Step 3 / Enter into the Calendar

When I go and actually write out the posts into my calendar, I do it on paper. I have a binder-based blog planner that I use every single day.  I print out 12 date-less calendar sheets. Then I use one calendar sheet per month and plan my content out on it.

Why paper?

I like to be able to look at the calendar easily within my blog planner and if it’s hidden in a software, then it’s just one more tab I need to have open on my computer. By seeing the calendar everyday on my desk (along with other things like my to-do list, goal sheet, etc.) I stay WAY more focused and on track. Plus, I just like putting pen to paper. I’m old school.

Blog Editorial Calendar | Free editorial calendar template | How to use a blogging content planning system | Blogging tips

I keep the editorial calendar mostly just focused on content: blog posts and email newsletters. If I’m launching a product or have a webinar, or something like that, I would add those in too.

What I don’t write on this calendar?

Social media posts, my to-do list tasks, appointments, calls, etc. Things like appointments and calls I put into my Google calendar. My to-do list tasks go onto another sheet within my blog planner. And I use scheduling tools for social media (find out which social media tools I use here).

Getting the calendar down on paper not only means I can look it over and make sure I like the overall plan for the month, but it also makes it super clear to me what I need to be working on. It gives a natural priority to the task list.

 

Step 4 / Be a blogging biz badass

Since I started utilizing this method, I can usually be a couple of weeks ahead of schedule for blog post writing. No more feeling rushed to whip out a last minute blog post because I feel like I “have to”. Honestly, it’s been a huge time AND stress saver. And I actually feel like I have my shit together (most of the time).

Oh, it also means that your content will be better – it’ll planned more thoughtfully and strategically. Basically it’s an all around win.

 

Blog Editorial Calendar | Free editorial calendar template | How to use a blogging content planning system | Blogging tips

Free Printable

Make sure you grab the calendar before you go! This printable is date-less so you’ll be able to print out a whole year’s worth at once!

Blogging Legally: 6 Legal Issues You Need To Understand

In our Bloggers Facebook Group (join here!) a little while ago, I asked what people were struggling with.

One of the questions that came up was a bit more clarity regarding the legal aspects of blogging: What you do and don’t have to do to cover your butt when working with sponsors, doing giveaways, and making money.

Luckily I knew exactly who to turn to for that stuff – Jackie from Jade and Oak.

Blogging Legally | Following all the laws regarding copyrights, trademarks, images, disclosures, and more? Click over for the blogging legal basics - what you need to know to avoid any trouble!

Jackie is a lawyer in her day job and blogs on the side, and I have been following her blog for years. I sent her a message to see if she’d be willing to pop on over here and share some of the blogging legally basics…. and lucky us, she agreed!

jackiejadefr-2

 

I’ll let her take it away…

 

////////

Blogging is big business and I love that more and more people are treating their blog like a business. Being a business means that you also need to make sure you’re covered on the legal side of things. So I’m so happy Gemma invited me to post today about the legal basics of blogging.

My name is Jackie and I’ve blogged at Jade and Oak for over 4 years and have been an attorney for over 6 years. I provide legal info and tips for bloggers and small biz owners on my blog, so today I’m here to educate on the legal basics you need to know as a blogger.

(PS >> Although I am an attorney, I’m not your attorney and this post does not create an attorney-client relationship. As an American attorney, this post was written with US laws and regulations in mind. If you live in another country, research your country’s laws. This post is legal information and should not be seen as legal advice. If you need legal advice, be sure to consult with an attorney who specializes in your subject matter and jurisdiction.)

 

1 // Legal statements on blogs

Most blogs need several different statements (in order to protect yourself and your readers). At the very least, you need to have a “privacy statement” if you are collecting any personal info on your blog. Most blogs are collecting some sort of info, either through the use of cookies for Google Analytics or even just email addresses when people leave comments. If you collect personal info, you must have a privacy statement, letting your readers know what info you collect, how you collect it and what you do with that info.

It’s also important to include a terms and conditions statement, which basically lets people know the “rules” of your blog, including what kind of behavior is/isn’t okay.

Lastly, disclosure statements are necessary anytime you are working with a company or brand and are being compensated in any way (through a sponsored post, getting a free product or getting paid an affiliate commission).

It’s important to have these statements to show that you are running a professional blog and you understand legal requirements to have a legit business. This will help to put your readers at ease because they know you’re educated regarding the law and aren’t running a shady operation. Definitely a good thing.

 

2 // Copyright issues

In the US, your work is actually copyright protected the moment that it is created. As a blogger, that’s great – it means your work is protected without needing to formally go out and do anything. BUT that won’t necessarily stop anyone from stealing your work (the internet is obviously an easy place for people to take other people’s work).

So it’s a good idea to include a general copyright statement on every page of your blog – with the © symbol and/or “copyright,” your name/blog name and year or years of publication. Mine says: Copyright 2012-2016 Jade and Oak.

You should also include a longer statement somewhere on your blog indicating what you are/aren’t okay with others using.

For example, if you want people to use your stock photos for any reason, indicate that. But if you don’t want anyone to reuse your work or you require a link back, lay all of that out as well. (You can read more about copyrights here.)

 

3 // Linking to other content

Speaking of links, as a blogger you will likely be linking to other people’s content or blog posts.

Most people are more than happy to have you refer to their content if you are providing a link to their site. Just sharing a link isn’t a copyright issue, but if you are sharing someone else’s photos, graphics, videos or quoting a huge section of their blog post, you need to email them and make sure that they are ok with it.

 

 

4 // Your email list

If you are using email marketing for your blog or business, there are a few things to consider to make sure you’re not breaking the law.

The most important thing is to include an address in every email newsletter (physical address or a PO Box). This is to help prevent spam. In general, you want to avoid being spammy with your email list and want to make sure you aren’t emailing people who have opted out.

You can learn more about email lists and the law on my blog.

 

5 // Protecting yourself from liability

Blogs are an amaaaaazing source of info – I love that you can learn so much from fellow bloggers. However, you should be careful to make sure you won’t be held liable for something that could be seen as professional advice. Just like how I included a legal disclaimer at the top of this post, consider if you need any disclaimers for info that you provide.

For example, if you write about weight loss on your blog, it’s important to remind your readers that you aren’t a health professional and your blog posts are for informational or entertainment purposes only and should not be relied upon for health advice. (And if you are some sort of professional, remind people that you aren’t acting in your professional capacity and providing them with any specific or personalized advice.)

Most people will realize that your blog posts are informational in nature and aren’t medical, legal, health, tax, etc advice. But it doesn’t hurt to just remind people that you aren’t providing professional advice, so include a clear disclaimer as necessary. If someone could maybe mistake it as professional advice, err on the side of caution.

 

6 // Money issues

Yay you’re making money on your blog! Now you just need to make sure that you’re properly reporting it to the IRS for taxes.

In general, once you are making more than $400 per year, you need to start reporting that to the government and pay taxes as necessary. However, you can also take advantage of legitimate business expenses or deductions for your blog as well (things like your hosting service, email service provider, graphic designer, etc.)

Whether you’re a brand new blogger or you’ve been making money for awhile, start tracking your income and expenses right now so you can be ready when it’s tax time.

(**Canadian bloggers –> This is the same for us! You need to claim your income and any gifts received in your income taxes.)

 

Free Email Course

I know the law can be daunting and overwhelming. These are some legal basics to get you started but there is more to know! If you are interested in learning more, sign up for my free email course, Legalize Your Blog, to get legal tips sent straight to your inbox.

Also check out my blog Jade and Oak for even more about running your blog and biz legally! If you have any more questions about the legal side of blogging, let me know!

Blogging Legally 101 | Following all the laws regarding copyrights, trademarks, images, disclosures, and more? Click over to the post for the blogging legal basics - what you need to know to avoid any legal pitfalls!

Thanks a mill, Jackie for popping in here and giving up some Legal 101 Scoop! Guys, be sure to head over to Jade and Oak for all your legal questions. 

Speaking of making money blogging, be sure to sign up below to get 7 action-packed lessons sent straight to your inbox on how to monetize! I’m spilling all my juiciest tricks for increasing my blogging income.

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