Side hustle. You hear this word everywhere lately! There are a million blog posts and pins online showing you how to be a #girlboss It seems everyone is doing it! My side hustle of choice is this blog you’re reading right now! If you also want to start a blog (or already have one) to earn some money on the side, I want to show you 7 tools that will help you make money with your blog!
The best tools to help you grow your blog and make money
There are so, so many amazingly helpful blogging tools available! I had a blog years ago and we didn’t have half the resources at our disposal as we do now!? As a newbie blogger, I’ve been trying to research and try out as many tools as I can afford!
New bloggers usually have a small budget, if any. It can be really difficult to navigate the plethora of premium (paid) tools without some sort of guide. Since I’m working with a limited budget I have a few tools that I pay for and a few that are on my “want” list and I think you’ll find a couple here that will work for your budget with your particular goals in mind!
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Great web hosting with Siteground
I recently decided to switch hosting companies. When I first started my blog I signed up with the hosting company I had used for my last blog years ago.
They had been recommended to me by a fellow blogger who was trying to help me out since I knew nothing about blogging and was totally not techy! Since I wasn’t familiar with any other hosting companies I just hopped on their site, signed up and didn’t give it much thought?!
Long story short, I didn’t love them and I was annoyed with myself for not doing some research and trying to find a better fit for me. I am in a small blog mastermind group with a few other [amazing] women and they suggested I give Siteground web hosting a shot.
I was really nervous that my blog would be lost or ruined in the process and while I was hesitant I decided that the risk would be greater the longer I waited so I pulled the trigger and made the switch and I’m so glad that I did!
I opted to have Siteground handle the migration for me (I’m not techy, remember?) and within a few hours it was all switched over and ready to go…plus, they did it for free! And while I did have a few small issues related to some new plugins I added I contacted their customer service and they walked me through every step until all was right in my world again!
That was a big issue with my last hosting provider so I was thrilled to have such a wonderful response time on the live chat (that’s my fav way to communicate)! It’s very important to feel confident and have a good relationship with your host and I highly recommend Siteground for both new and existing blogs! They have plans starting at only $3.95 per month! Check out their different hosting plans to see which one works for you (and your budget)!
Get the perfect logo with Fiverr
Your site doesn’t necessarily have to look good to earn money, but it certainly doesn’t hurt! Especially if your target reader is a woman, I think having an aesthetically pleasing site will make your readers feel welcome and wanting to come back for more!
First, find a great theme (and make sure it’s responsive so it looks good on mobile)! There are about a bajillion WordPress themes available! You can browse and purchase so many gorgeous themes or you can find a ton of free ones right from your WordPress dashboard!
Being on a budget, I knew there would be things I would have to compromise on and a paid theme was one of them! While I will upgrade to a paid theme eventually, I felt that money would be better spent on other resources so after trying a few of them out I settled on this free Olsen Light theme and while it’s not perfect, it will serve me just fine until I’m ready to switch!
I did, however, feel it was an absolute must to have my own custom logo and being on a budget (there’s that word again…we could totally make this a drinking game) I didn’t have much to spend so I headed to Fiverr! If you haven’t heard of Fiverr, it’s a site where people can sell their own services, starting at only $5.00!?!
While a custom logo can easily cost you upwards of a few hundred bucks, you can hire someone on Fiverr to design a logo for you at a fraction of the cost! My logo cost me only $25 and after a few small revisions, I loved how it turned out!
This is a great way to customize your site to match your personality without spending a ton of money. There are so many designers to choose from so be sure to check out their reviews and portfolios to find someone who can really make your vision come to life! Browse designs and offers on Fiverr!
Create beautiful images with PicMonkey
Blogs are visual! Yes, I know they are mostly words but they are still visual….we take it all in when we first arrive at a new blog! If I don’t get a good “feeling” from the blog, it’s highly unlikely that I’ll return let alone buy anything!
I want to see a nice, inviting site that draws me in and makes me get lost in its archives for an hour! Part of creating that “feel” is having great images!
Picmonkey is a website that allows you to easily create beautiful graphics and pinnable images (like the ones in this post) that you can use on your blog and your social media platforms! Picmonkey is very easy to use and you can find lots of tutorials on YouTube as well… You can try it here FREE for 7 days!
Make your blog easy to share with Social Warfare
Sharing is so important! It can be really difficult to get traffic and find new readers when you have a new blog. When people share your posts it can help grow your traffic, expand your audience and ultimately make more money!
I read a lot of blogs and one thing that turns me off is when I try sharing a post and I can’t easily figure out how to do so! If it’s too much work to share it then most people won’t bother. You have to respect your readers’ time… if they are willing to share your content you must make it simple and fast for them to do so!
The Social Warfare plugin is an incredible tool! Being a total control freak it’s perfect for me because it allows me to dictate how my posts are shared, which images are shared on which platform and even allows me to customize the descriptions as well!
Remember, your content is a reflection of you and your blog so you want to make sure whatever is out there with your name on it is a good representation of your blog! There is a free version of Social Warfare as well, which I tried first (Read: I’m on a budget, in case you forgot)
The free version allows you to add easy share buttons to your site with limited customization. Showing the share counts on your posts are a great form of social proof for your readers to see how popular your post may be, plus it encourages them to share as well.
It didn’t take long for me to upgrade. I wanted that full control and access to all the features! The paid version was a game changer! It saves me so much time writing those descriptions one time, then they are all ready every time I re-post my content. You will love this plugin…and since you can get it for such a low cost, it’s definitely money well spent!
Start email marketing with ConvertKit
I won’t touch too much on this topic since I have a post all about how a new blogger can start building their email list!
An email list is essential for earning money with your blog! Back in the day, most bloggers didn’t start building a list until they already had a decent following and they will all tell you they wished they’d started sooner!
Starting your list early in your blogging career will not only help you earn more money but it will help you build a better relationship with your readers, which is super important!
Don’t wait until you are “established” to start your list. I’ve been using ConvertKit and I love it! It’s been so easy to learn and use. They have great how-to videos, super helpful support, and are rolling out new features to improve your marketing all the time!
ConvertKit was created just for bloggers so it is perfect for everything you’ll need from quickly and easily creating forms, opt-ins and even landing pages! Try it FREE for two full weeks (and you’ll probably fall in love)!
Grow your Pinterest with Boardbooster + Tailwind
This last point is a two-for-one! Since Pinterest is such an important part of boosting your traffic and helping you make money with your blog I wanted to give you a few options!
I’ve tried both of these tools and they are both really great products to help you build your Pinterest reach and save you tons of time in the process! Read the full post on how a new blogger (on a budget) can grow their Pinterest account!
Update: As of July 2018, Boardbooster is no longer an option for Pinterest scheduling. I now exclusively use Tailwind for all my Pinterest automation! Tailwind has also introduced (and has in Beta) new tools and features to help you save even more time when scheduling to your Pinterest account!
Tailwind is a tool that saves you tons of time by allowing you to do all your pinning way in advance! You can schedule all your pins to your own boards, group boards and Tailwind Tribes (a free feature even if you don’t pay for a subscription) for a whole month at a time, if you’d like! UPDATE 11/20/17 – Tailwind Tribes has been launched as a paid service for Tailwind.
There is a small learning curve so I recommend trying out their FREE trial where you can schedule 100 pins for free and really get your feet wet to see if it’s a good fit for you! What have you got to lose? It only takes 1 pin to go viral and drive massive traffic to your blog!
Need an even more budget-friendly option?
I’ve read this amazing Pinterest eBook 3 times now by Carly at Mommy on Purpose! It’s incredibly helpful and teaches you how to avoid the cost of a scheduler by learning how to pin manually! While it will cost you more time, it is a small one time fee instead of a monthly payment! If you’re stuck on Pinterest and can’t seem to gain any traction, I encourage you to check out this book that will make a huge impact on your Pinterest account!
I’ve also taken this online Pinterest course by Megan at Love. Family. Health. and I found it very valuable! I’ll admit, I’m an online course junkie so this was right up my alley! I love that I can access it from my desktop and my phone because it’s hosted on Teachable. I have purchased a bunch of courses on Teachable, which is a great platform where you can host your own eCourse plus it keeps all my courses in one place!
The great thing about Megan’s course, Pinterest Ninja, is that she also has a Facebook group to go along with it for lots of support and she does regular updates to the course, which you get for free after you purchase it! Get more info about Pinterest Ninja!
That’s it, friends! These tools have been an integral part of helping me grow my blog! I’m sure you’ve likely heard of some or most of them before. Maybe you’ve tried some or already use them all! I’d love to hear what your essential tools are to help you grow your blog and reach your income goals!