Money Saved is Money Earned turns 2 today!
What a couple of years it has been. We’ve had our ups and downs, our disappointments and our triumphs, but through it all we’re still here.
And in the blogging world that’s a huge accomplishment.
While we wanted to write something to acknowledge our anniversary, we also wanted to do something a little different this year. Instead of talking strictly about ourselves and our goals, we thought we’d take this opportunity to write about the tools and resources that have helped us during our blogging journey.
We are by no means where we want to be, but we’re trending in the right direction and we hope this post will help those new to the blogging community bypass some of the learning curve we’ve had to go through.
So, in celebration of our 2-year blogging anniversary, we present the best tools and resources for new bloggers that have helped us over the years.
Let’s begin by talking about some blogging basics. These are the things that every blog should have. For us, they include hosting, social media, Google Analytics, and Email.
Every blog needs a host, and if you’re serious about blogging you should buy hosting so you can have your own .com site.
There are several options for hosting out there. When we were new, the main hosting company promoted by the bigger blogs was Bluehost, and that’s who we’ve gone with thus far in our blogging journey.
You may hear a lot of negatives about Bluehost, but so far, we’ve been satisfied with their service.
However, another hosting option that we’ve heard a lot of great things about is Siteground. In fact, we may switch to Siteground when our hosting is ready to be renewed based on the recommendation of our blogger friends.
One of the most essential tools and resources for new bloggers is having your own social media pages.
Having a presence on social media not only helps you connect with other bloggers and brands but is the easiest and cheapest way to promote your content.
The main social media sites used by bloggers are Facebook, Twitter, Pinterest, and Instagram.
It’s hard to manage multiple social media sites, so if you have to choose, we’d recommend starting with Twitter and Facebook. Twitter seems to be the best platform to engage with other bloggers and Facebook allows you to be a part of groups for bloggers. Besides, you’re likely already using Facebook and familiar with the platform.
We personally don’t use Instagram, but many bloggers do. Although Pinterest hasn’t yielded the results for us claimed by many bloggers, we have steadily been gaining momentum and think it’s a useful place to promote your content.
Whether you hope to make money with your blog or not, you’ll definitely want to create a Google Analytics account.
Google is the largest and most well-used search engine, and Google Analytics helps you get all the stats about your blog you need to know. You can track your sessions, page views, as well as who is visiting your site and what pages they are visiting.
It’s helpful to keep track of your stats in order to evaluate progress over time. You’ll also need stats for when you’re pitching to brands that you’d like to work with.
Whatever you want out of your blog, make sure you set up Google Analytics.
An email list is a critical tool for new bloggers to have, even if your blog is just a hobby.
An email list is a place where people can sign up to receive information from you. You can simply send out your latest post or promote other products and services.
We haven’t put a ton of effort into growing our email list, but it is something we’d like to improve upon moving forward.
We’re currently using Mailchimp for our email list because it is free up to 2,000 subscribers. Of course, free products give you less options and support, but Mailchimp does offer paid options as well.
However, if you’re going to pay for an email service it seems that most bloggers we know use Convertkit. It seems that this service offers more options and support, and we may be switching to them soon as well.
Blog Post Tools
Aside from the basics needed to run your website and engage with the community, you’ll also need access to a few tools that help you create your posts.
Here are the best free tools and resources for new bloggers to help you create your content.
The first tool we want to talk about is also probably one of the most important: Canva.
Canva is a free online graphic design platform that helps you create a plethora of different visual content, and not just for blogging.
You can create Pinterest pins, flyers, posters, invitations, and tons of other things. There are lots of free templates you can use, along with different fonts, colors, and arrangements. You can also upload any picture to use in creating your products.
Another thing that can be created with Canva is a Media Kit, which is something every blogger looking to work with brands should have. A Media Kit provides a snapshot of your blog and stats, along with the services you offer. It’s a one or two page flyer about you and your blog.
Here’s our Media Kit as an example of what you could create.
Blog articles do better when there are pictures. Whether you’re just looking for a featured image or pics to accentuate your post, there are a few great sites you should know about.
While there are many okay sites out there, the ones we use most often are Unsplash, Pixabay, and Pexels.
All three options are free to use, although you can choose to leave something for the photographer if you want.
Sometimes you have to get creative with photos but in general you can find something for almost any topic on one of these sites.
Blog Post Research
If you’re really serious about your blog and looking to rank well with your articles, you need to create an account with Moz. Moz is one of the best tools and resources for new bloggers.
Moz offers a wide range of search engine optimization (SEO) tools for those looking to enhance their online presence. You can have Moz crawl your site and recommend fixes, check how your articles and site rank, do a backlink analysis, or help you with keyword research. There is a free version (with more limited tools) and paid versions.
While we haven’t fully taken advantage of what Moz has to offer, we have dabbled in keyword research and have used Moz to track one very important stat – our domain authority (DA).
Domain authority is a score from 0 to 100 created by Moz that gives a snapshot of how robust your site is. The higher the domain authority, the better the site and the better you’ll rank for competitive keywords.
Check it out and see what tools and resources might be useful for your new blog.
We heard from several big bloggers that blogging is 20% content and 80% promotion. Indeed, promoting your content is a huge part of blogging.
We have yet to invest in paid promotion such as ads, but we’ve still been able to get the word out in other ways. The ultimate goal is to get to a point where people begin finding your site organically through search engines.
That being said, here are some options for promoting your work and strengthening your site through building links.
Facebook groups can provide great tools and resources for new bloggers. You can make friends, have discussions, and ask questions.
There are blogging groups for almost every topic that you can search for. When we started we spent a lot of time engaging with blog sharing groups, in which you would share the content of others in exchange for them sharing yours. We don’t do that as much anymore (we don’t have the time), but they can be helpful to get you started.
The main groups we participate in now are groups that offer blogging help and coaching as well as groups specific to personal finance, our niche.
Our favorite blogging groups are Blogging With Purpose and FIMP (Free Internet Marketing Project), while our favorite personal finance group is the FinCon Community.
HARO, which stands for Help a Reporter Out, is a great place to find opportunities to share your knowledge and gain exposure.
You can sign up at their website to receive an email 3 times a day with inquiries from individuals needing sources for articles they’re writing, which will often include a backlink to your blog.
HARO is a great way to gain exposure and be featured on some big sites.
Another way to gain exposure and build backlinks is through guest posting or participating in interviews on other sites.
We haven’t had the time to do a ton of guest posts, but it’s a great way to get your writing out there, especially if you can find some larger blogs to feature you. Essentially, you’re providing free content to someone in exchange for exposure and usually a backlink.
The more good backlinks you can build from other sites, the stronger your site is seen in the eyes of Google and the higher you’ll rank in search engines.
While we haven’t done a ton of guest posting, we have participated in many interviews and tend to respond to other bloggers calls for interviewees when we fit the criteria.
Another possibility is to be a guest on podcasts. We’ve participated in one podcast and would love to do more of them in the future.
No matter which way you go, the more you put yourself out there the more your blog will grow.
Another of the best tools and resources for new bloggers is to participate in curation sites. These sites pull in articles from blogs in whatever niche the site is curating for and exposes the articles to a wider audience.
For personal finance blogs, the gold standard used to be Rockstar Finance. However, the site hasn’t been the same since it was sold about a year ago.
Most curation sites are happy to add you to their blog directory if you reach out.
Tailwind is the only promotional tool in this list that isn’t free, but it’s been super helpful for us so we thought we’d include it.
Tailwind is a service that allows you to schedule Pinterest pins for weeks in advance if you want to. Along with scheduling pins, Tailwind will automatically post pins during the times when they’re most likely to be seen, provide stats, and allow you to connect with other bloggers in your niche through Tailwind tribes.
You can try Tailwind for free by using our referral link here. After that you can get Tailwind for as little as $120 a year.
Making money as a blogger is hard and takes time. There are plenty of people out there claiming that you can make tons of money fast but those are the rare exceptions and not the general rule.
To give you some perspective, we’ve just hit our 2-year anniversary and we’ve only made about $1,000 total in that time. Of course, we are steadily trending upward and hope to make more money in the future, but the takeaway here is that you shouldn’t expect to replace your full-time income right away.
With that being said, here are some of the most typical ways that bloggers make money and some of the best tools and resources for new bloggers to get started.
One of the most common ways for bloggers to make money is with affiliate marketing. Affiliate marketing happens when you promote a product or service and then receive some money when people use your link to sign up for that product or service.
You can become affiliates with almost any brand, but make sure you would actually recommend that brand if you’re going to be an affiliate. Your reputation and trust with your audience is on the line.
While you can have an affiliate partnership directly with a brand, most often newer blogs will need to go through an affiliate network to find partnerships. Some of the bigger networks include Commission Junction (CJ), Flexoffers, and Amazon.
Another common way blogs make money is through ads. You see ads on almost every website you visit, and the site owners make money based on how many people view the ads or when people click on them.
There are a few ad networks available to new bloggers, but the most used is Google Adsense. Honestly, the money you’ll make from Adsense is minimal (it typically takes us 4-6 months to earn $100), but it’s a start.
Many choose not to do Adsense because it can slow your website down and the money is small, but if you’re looking for a little bit of revenue it’s your best option to start.
Once you really get going and have increased your traffic to 25k sessions a month (about 30k pageviews) you can apply for Mediavine, which pays more in ad revenue.
Sponsored posts are yet another way for a blogger to earn money. Sponsored posts are articles written about a product or service that the blogger is paid to write, usually for a flat rate.
Sponsored posts are where we’ve made the majority of our money even though we’ve only done a few. The rate you can charge will depend on your traffic and follower levels, but you should be getting at least a couple hundred per post.
The last way for new bloggers to make money that we’re going to discuss is freelance writing.
Freelance writing is being paid by other sites or brands to write articles for them. Although this revenue stream isn’t technically money made from your blog, your blog is a great way to showcase your writing ability and build a portfolio that you can use to get freelancing jobs.
The rate you can charge for freelance writing will vary with your experience and portfolio, but make sure the money you make is worth the effort.
If you’d like to know more about freelance writing reach out to the blogging community and get some feedback.
Moral of the Story
Money Saved is Money Earned is now 2 years old, and like a toddler, we’re just beginning to get our feet under us and make some strides.
We hope to be up and running this time next year, but until then we thought we’d do something different for our anniversary post by talking about the best tools and resources for new bloggers that have helped us.
We’ve discussed the blogging basics, blog post tools, ways to promote and connect with other bloggers, and the basics of how to monetize your new blog.
Hopefully, this article has given a good overview of the best tools and resources for new bloggers and will help you to bypass some of the steep learning curve that comes with starting a blog.
We can’t wait to read your 2-year anniversary post.
Talk about Time Saved and (hopefully) Money Earned.