by Sarah Jividen | Jan 9, 2019 | Blogging, Nurse Blogger, Start A Blog
(This post may contain affiliate links. You can find my disclosure page here.)
My blog sells something every single day on Amazon.
Just this morning I rolled out of bed to find that I had already made $42 while I was sleeping. The best part is that it is completely passive income for me. (I am still smiling about it as I write this).
I am only making between about $3 to $45 from Amazon on my (relatively) new blog each day. Its not much… yet. But still, it is passive income and it’s consistent. Which means that I am making money no matter what I am doing that day.
(Note: I dabble in several different affiliate marketing programs, but for the purpose of this post I want to focus on how Amazon is a great affiliate for brand new bloggers to start making passive income on their blogs. Amazon affiliates is how I started with affiliate marketing and I encourage other new bloggers to use it at well because I think its the easiest ones for new bloggers. Once you get started with Amazon and start making consistent money there are a TON of other great affiliate programs out there as well.)
What is affiliate marketing?
Affiliate marketing is one of the most popular ways people can make money online. It is a strategy that bloggers can use to earn a commission by promoting other people’s products. For example, if I find a product or service I like, I can promote it to my readers and earn a small commission for the referral.
Of course, bloggers still need to create killer content and only recommend products or services that they actually like and use themselves. In order to be successful it’s best to keep it “non-salesy,” genuine and relevant to the purpose of your post. Otherwise it can be a real turn-off.
Affiliate marketing can be a triple win for the blogger, reader and company selling a product (in this case, Amazon). Each party benefits from the blogger making a useful suggestion about a product or service because a need is being filled for all three:
- The seller sells a product, earning a profit
- A reader gets value by purchasing something they need
- The blogger earns a small commission for their helpful referral.
From this viewpoint, bloggers have a great opportunity not only to provide great content but to also add additional value to both readers and the companies they work as affiliates for.
Why Amazon is a great affiliate for new bloggers:
Amazon affiliates is one of the largest and easiest affiliate programs to use.
If it exists, you can find it on Amazon.
Just as an example, lets say you have a passion for writing about Madagascar hissing cockroaches and you would like to recommend some to your readers. Well guess what? You are in luck because you can buy them on Amazon! So you insert your Amazon affiliate link and viola! You just helped your reader find exactly what they were looking for!
You can pretty much find anything and everything on Amazon. So it makes it really easy for new affiliate marketers to find products easily that fit nicely within their niche. This is a great reason why Amazon is a great affiliate for new bloggers who are trying to monetize their websites for the first time.
(On another note, the key phrase ‘Madagascar hissing cockroaches for sale’ actually gets 480 searches on Amazon every single month. So, there actually is a need for this particular niche and a potential to make affiliate money from it. Just saying).
Amazon affiliate cookies have site-wide coverage, and is not just limited to the product you are promoting.
When you make a referral to Amazon, you only have a 24 hour window to actually make a sale. But the good news is that you will get the commission from ALL the products the customer purchased from the store.
So say, for example, your reader decided not to purchase your recommended product after all… But, they did decide to purchase a $2700 Microsoft laptop computer instead. You get a commission from the sale of the $2700 computer! (I know someone who had a similar thing happen to them as an Amazon Affiliate, so it does happen!)
Shipping is free for Amazon Prime members
Everyone I know is a member of Amazon Prime and gets to take advantage of the free shipping. In fact, almost everything I order is from Amazon because I don’t pay an additional fee to have it sent to me. People are more likely to buy something if they don’t have to pay an additional fee for shipping.
The Amazon return policy is so simple
I feel good about recommending products from Amazon because whenever I need to return something, its so super easy. That way if one of my readers ends up not liking a product that they ordered I know they can send it back no problem. I would never want someone to keep a product that I recommended if they didn’t end up liking it, or just regretting the purchase.
Just remember to keep it genuine as an affiliate marketer:
Only promote products related to topics that you already write about in your niche. And you must actually use and like the product/service yourself. Otherwise it comes off as inauthentic and disingenuous.
Here is a helpful tip for new bloggers who want to start monetizing their blogs: If you started using Amazon Affiliates after you started your blog, then go back to your top 20-30 posts and add affiliate links where they fit in.
For more resources visit my Start A Blog resource page!
Additional Recommended Reading:
by Sarah Jividen | Dec 26, 2018 | Blogging, Nurse Blogger, Nurse Life, Nurse Mom Life
(This post may contain affiliate links. You can read my disclosure page here.)
How to find time to blog as a busy nurse and mom:
My biggest challenge as a busy nurse & mom blogger is simply finding the time to work on my blog. This post discusses ways that I manage to grow my blog despite having a very busy work and home schedule.
#1. Schedule time to blog
Treat your blog as a side job. How much time do you have to invest in it at the moment? Is it only 5 or 10 hours a week like me? That is better than nothing! Its going to take you longer to build a blog and following but it can be done. Building a blog is a marathon, not a sprint.
A lot of people ask me when I have time to work on blogging. The truth is, not much. The only time I have to blog is for up to an hour while my kids are napping and after I put them to sleep at 8pm. On the days I work 12 hour shifts as a nurse I am only able to blog after I get home and shower, and by then it’s usually 9pm. And I need to try and get some sleep since I’m either up for work or being woken up by one of my children by 5:30 or 6 in the morning!
The most important thing that busy bloggers must do is to be with the little bit of time that they do have. You can actually get a lot done in 5 -10 hours a week if you use your time wisely.
#2. Batch write
Instead of writing 1-2 posts a week, try writing 10 over a period of a several days and then schedule them out far in advance. This process can help you free up a lot of time! My process goes something like this:
- Keyword Research and pick titles for 10 blog posts
- Write outlines for ten blog posts
- Do all content creation
- Optimize all SEO
- Go back and insert affiliate links and internal/external links for each post
- Make all graphic designs for each post
- Schedule posts on WordPress scheduler
This process has saved me so much time and just makes blogging more simple.
#3. Outline your blog posts first
Is your writing method just to start writing and see where it takes you? Unfortunately, that may not be the most efficient way to get things done.
When you are trying to inform and create a structured piece, more planning is generally better. After you do your keyword research and pick your title, try writing down each of the points you want to make. Then you can use those points as headers for the post to break it up into smaller, more digestible pieces to read.
Think of your outline as the foundation that you can build amazing content around. Outlining will make your posts easily for you to write, and that will save you time.
#4. Always have a plan for what you are going to do as soon as you have a free moment for blogging.
If you are going to be a blogger you need excellent time management skills. The second I put my kids down for a nap I know exactly what I am going to spend that hour doing (usually content creation).
I do chores around the house and all of the cooking while my kids are awake. That way I can free up some time to work on the blog when my kids are asleep.
#5. Quit doing time wasting activities
Stop using social media. I know people who spend hours on Instagram every single day, yet they swear they are so busy that they never have time to get anything done! I bet if you quit using social media for 1 week you would find that you are suddenly so much more productive. And probably happier and more in the present to boot!
If you are going to be a blogger you have to get really good at using your time wisely. Be overprotective about your time. My time is the most important asset I have and it is important to me. As a result, I rarely use Instagram or Facebook anymore. Hopefully one day I will be able to source out a lot of my work (except content creation, of course), but until then I’ve got a lot of work to do. There is no time to waste.
I am almost completely paperless, except for my editorial calendar (which I use as a hard copy for pretty much everything that goes into my blog). You can find editorial calendars online, but I have found that by using my hard copy of EPIC blog and my scheduler on WordPress that I stay super organized. I always manage to stay on top of deadlines.
At some point I would love to create my own editorial calendar for bloggers. Until then, my EPIC blog editorial calendar is super helpful!
#7. Listen to blogging podcasts
When you are starting a project and don’t totally have a grasp one what you are doing, there is only one really good thing to do: find people who are doing it well and learn from them!
Anytime I take my children for a walk in the stroller or I am on my commute to and from work I listen to blogging podcasts. Podcasts keep me motivated during the times I am physically unable to blog. Plus I am able to learn from other bloggers who have had some of the same blogging struggles I do.
#8. Make time for rest and rejuvenation
You can only burn that candle from both ends for so long. If you work too hard with no rest then you end up burned out, sick and wondering why you even wanted to be a blogger in the first place. Giving yourself time to rest can also be great for creativity as well.
Additional Recommended Reading:
by Sarah Jividen | Nov 22, 2018 | Blogging, Nurse Blogger, Start A Blog
This post contains affiliate links. You can find my disclosure page here.
9 Helpful Blogging Tips For New Bloggers
Tip #1. Use WordPress
Admittedly, I did not use WordPress when I was first starting my own blog.
Instead, I started with Squarespace (which is both easy to use and pretty, but not as good with SEO and has no plugin options). Once I realized how limited I was with Squarespace I moved over to WordPress. And I have been so much happier since. It was a huge pain in the rear, it caused me a lot of unnecessary stress and I lost time I will never get back.
Here are a few reasons why WordPress is the way to go:
- WordPress is beginner friendly: you do NOT need coding knowledge to create a perfectly functioning website
- WordPress themes and plugins give you almost unlimited flexibility: Once you are more advanced with WordPress you are able to customize every aspect of your site as you see fit (or you can be like me and pay someone else to do it, the point being that you CAN customize your site more in the future).
- WordPress helps you rank higher in search engines: If your goal is high traffic to your site, then WordPress is the gold standard platform you need to be using. Not only is WordPress already well-optimized for search engines, but there is an amazing plugin called Yoast SEO that helps me make sure my SEO is on point.
- Support is available whenever you need it: There is a WordPress support forum and a ton of online tutorials and courses
If you have not started your blog and want a step-by-step guide to setting up a WordPress blog on Bluehost check this out! (I go into more detail about why you need a WordPress blog and why web-hosting with Bluehost is the best thing you can do as a new blogger.
Tip #2. Find your niche.
In my very early beginner blogging days I had no focus and wrote about everything: my favorite roasted pumpkin seed recipe, how limiting social media helps brain function, all aspects of motherhood, how to travel with toddlers, my nursing career, yoga, toddler foods…. you get the point. I was pretty much all over the place.
Then a blogger friend said to me: “You must find your niche. Then, take your niche and niche it down even more.” In essence, she was telling me to get really super specific about who my audience was going to be.
For example, if I just called myself a “nurse blogger” that doesn’t say very much about who I am or what my niche is about (except, of course, that I am one of 2.2 million other nurses in the US). Its just too vague.
So, I refer to myself as a “nurse mom lifestyle blogger who helps other nurses take better care of themselves with an emphasis on self-care.” I like to think of myself as a nurse mom advocate. That sounds a little better, doesn’t it?
Having a specific niche increases your engagement with a very specific group and gives you the opportunity to be an expert in a small area. You just cant be everything to everyone, and you cant be an expert at everything.
Tip #3. Just keep writing
What do you do when you have been blogging for months and you’ve just run into your 20th roadblock?
What ever you do, don’t quit!
Here are a few reasons why you need to just keep writing (even when you feel like giving up):
- Building something unique takes time. Rome wasn’t built in a day and NO blog is an overnight success.
- You are learning new (and valuable) skills. There is a huge learning curve to blogging. As time goes by, you will learn lots more. Your writing will improve and you will start to build relationships with other bloggers.
- You are closer to making money than you think (it sure is fun for me to see that I am making a little money every single day from something I created all on my own!)
Every single dollar you make through your blog was won entirely by your own efforts. You didn’t have to wait around for someone to employ you: instead, you created something valuable all on your own.
Even if you’re only making a couple of dollars a month, it’s something. And if you’re making nothing at all, it’s just a matter of time.
Tip #4. Write about what you already know.
Don’t try and write about topics that you know nothing about. This is one of the best tips for new bloggers who are trying to find their “voice.”
For example, if you are not already an expert in the kitchen, then you probably don’t want to compete with other food bloggers (that is a highly saturated niche already!).
You also don’t want to write a post called “My Top 10 Favorite Dinner Recipes That All Children Will Love!” It would take you ten times longer to write recipe posts then it would for someone who is awesome at cooking and passionate about sharing recipes. You will burnout as a blogger. Fast.
Instead, think of what you are already an expert at and go from there. What are you passionate about?
Tip #5. Provide value
Quality content is king. It is the ONE thing that keeps visitors coming back to your blog.
Strive to over-deliver on the value you provide with your blog. Otherwise, why would anyone want (or need) to continue reading about what you say.
Quality writing is good, but are you giving your readers something that can be used to help them somehow in their daily lives? Are you helping to answer a question about something they need to know about. Its all about value.
Think about what phrases your readers would type into Google and then go from there. Not only will it help you with SEO but it also helps you fill a void for a topic that a reader on the internet need answers to.
Here are a few good delivery methods to easily provide value to readers about a topic you already know a lot about:
- Make a checklist for your readers
- Create a resource guide
- Use bullet points in you posts to easily separate points
- Write an ebook
Tip #6. Practice makes perfect
I have a secret that no one told me in my beginning months of blogging…
Your first 5 -10 posts might actually suck. Really, bad actually.
In fact, I cringe when I look at my first blog posts. Not only were they full of improperly constructed sentences, they had sneaky grammatical errors that my brain wasn’t used to sniffing out. And they kept popping out even after 2 or 3 post revisions!
But, alas! There is great news! The more you blog, the better you get. I promise! Over time not only will your writing improve, but you also won’t spend a week writing and editing a single post. You’ll get better, faster, more creative, more clever and more confident each time you push “publish” on a new post.
Sometimes I go back and think what the heck was I thinking when I wrote that? On a positive note it is great to see how far I have come in the blogging world. Everybody has to start somewhere.
Tip #7. Invest in courses
As with any new business, you will need to invest a little money so you can learn the ropes from people who actually know what they are talking about. When deciding where to invest money, I highly recommend focusing on three things:
- Invest in courses that will help you understand how to set up a functioning blog
- Invest in learning that will (eventually) help you make money from your blog
- Invest in courses that will help you simplify your life and blogging business
I am a blogger who has made friends with many other bloggers who happen to create GREAT courses. Here are two blogging experts that I can, in good faith, recommend. (If you don’t believe me, look at their recommendations. They are amazing!).
- Building A Framework: Abby Lawson– This was the first blogging course I ever took and it pretty much covers everything you need to know about setting up a blog from scratch. It is easy to follow and highly actionable.
- Nurse Blogging 101: Healthcare Media Academy – If you are a nurse or other healthcare blogger, I highly recommend starting with this one. Creators Brittany Wilson and Kati Kleber are both published, award-winning authors who are also considered the Godmothers in nurse blogging. They are especially great because they go into more detail about patient privacy concerns and other considerations that healthcare bloggers need to be aware of.
Tip #8. Quit doing other time wasting activities
Life is busy, but there are also a lot of distractions out there. The number 1 biggest time waster of them all = social media! I know people who spend hours on Instagram every single day, yet they swear they are so busy that they never have time to get anything done! I bet if you quit using social media for 1 week you would find that you are suddenly so much more productive. And probably happier and living more in the present to boot!
If you are going to be a blogger you have to get really good at using your time wisely. Be overprotective about your time. My time is the most important asset I have and it is important to me. As a result, I rarely use Instagram anymore. Hopefully one day I will be able to source out a lot of my work (except content creation, of course), but until then I have a lot of work to do. There is no time to waste.
This is an excellent tip for new bloggers, as well as anyone trying to find more time for more productive activities.
Tip #9. Have fun.
Blogging is not always all work and no play. Reach out and make other blogging friends. Don’t take your writing too seriously. Remember, blogging is a marathon, not a sprint. You need to be in it for the long game in order to be successful.
Good luck and let me know if you have any questions!
by Sarah Jividen | Sep 25, 2018 | Blogging, Nurse Blogger, Nurse Life
In 2015 I became a nurse blogger. This venture was born out of my frustration with burnout as a registered nurse and my desire to create a more flexible work-life balance.
For clarity, my niche (or at least the niche I am striving to create) is: “nurse mom lifestyle blogger with an emphasis on self-care and wellness.” My goal has always been to write about things that interest me in regards to nurse lifestyle and living a healthier, more purposeful life (with a little mom stuff thrown in).
I have been chipping away on my nurse blogging journey for about a year, and my (self-proclaimed) title has evolved a bit. I’m sure it will continue to change as I work to find my “voice.”
To explain how I became a nurse blogger, I have to take you back in time a bit…
Once upon a time, I studied journalism.
Way, way back in the day, before I ever even considered becoming a registered nurse, I was a striving college student at California State University, Chico. As a journalism major with a minor in women’s studies, I wrote for our student newspaper, The Orion, and I loved it. Each week I met with other writers to discuss ideas and topics that were going to write about that week. I enjoyed the teamwork and even though I felt way in over my head a lot of the time I absolutely loved the challenge.
Each week I met new and interesting people I would have otherwise crossed paths with. I interviewed athletes, a magician, doctors from the student health center, professors, and lots and lots of students. One time I interviewed a woman who made and sold her own essential oils and she gave me a few samples to take home with me. My 21-year-old brain was fascinated with the people I met.
The internet was in its earlier stages and many people still read the newspaper in print form. So, each Thursday I looked forward to walking on campus and picking up a copy of The Orion to find my name listed above my article.
A bad internship altered my career path.
I loved journalism. But my emphasis was in public relations, which I disliked immensely.
One summer break, I did a 3-month internship at a celebrity public relations firm in Los Angeles. I worked as an assistant to the president of the firm. He had me ghostwriting about how he was like Abraham Lincoln. If that sounds weird, it is because it was. I hated it. I felt used.
At the end of my 3-month internship, I left Los Angeles feeling like I wanted to go in a completely different direction. As I drove back up to Chico to complete my senior year, I considered new career options.
As graduation etched closer, I also started wondering how I was going to survive financially out in the world. The thought of paying my own way in the world and paying off my student loans filled me with worry.
I went from inspired writer to salesperson.
After graduation, I excepted a position selling medical equipment to hospital operating rooms. I thought it was best to follow the path that I thought lead to faster money. Frankly, it did.
Soon I became enveloped in the business of medical equipment sales. And unfortunately, I didn’t write again for another 9 years.
Medical device sales is an extremely competitive and stressful industry. But I continued to work hard. In fact, I was actually very good at my job. I consistently exceeded my yearly quotas. As a result, I made more money every year, which made it harder and harder to move into other more clinical roles.
I wanted to grow clinically and help my patients directly.
Those who know me, know that I’m not even the “salesy” type. However, I did enjoy talking about medical equipment that could improve the quality of life for our patients or even be life-saving in some circumstances. I didn’t realize it at the time, but what I really wanted was to be an actual healthcare professional who worked with patients directly.
(On reflection, I am so am grateful for my time in medical sales and I want to go back to work on the business side of healthcare at some point. My experiences have given me a much different perspective than many of my nurse peers. Working in the medical sales industry gave me valuable business and communication skills. I met a lot of great friends with whom I still have close relationships with. My organizational and time management skills are much more fine-tuned and I learned how to be a professional in the workplace. I just think of myself as being a little more well-rounded now!)
Just for fun, I toyed around with so many career ideas.
I took an amazing photography class in Venice (I’ll be a professional photographer! Yay!). I love practicing yoga so I thought becoming an instructor would be a great fit (I’ll become the next big yoga guru!). I even considered becoming a professional dog walker at one point and started writing a business plan! (Dogs are awesome, what can I say?).
After years of thinking about my professional future (and having several near mental breakdowns about it), I jokingly told my husband that maybe I should go back to nursing school. He responded with something like “you can do anything you want, but please do something because you might lose your mind!”
So, I did. And I have been working as a nurse at a major teaching facility for the last 6 years.
I went back to college for a second time.
After three years of nursing school, I graduated with a bachelor of science in nursing and I had a whole new journey ahead of me. I began my career specializing on a neuroscience and stroke unit and earned certifications as a Stroke Certified Registered Nurse and Public Health Nurse. In 2017, I began a new phase in my nursing career as an emergency room RN.
I also complimented my practice by becoming an Urban Zen Integrative Therapist. My intention was to help treat my patients with a more holistic approach using yoga and in-bed movements, guided meditation, Reiki, and essential oils. (I didn’t know at the time, but these were topics that I would write about frequently as a nurse blogger!).
An itch to write came back again.
A few years into my nursing career I had an urge to write again. I missed the creatively I had when writing back in my early college days. In addition, I wanted to create a more flexible career path for myself now that I am a busy mom with two great kiddos.
I also really do have a passion for nursing. I love that I help others for a living and I enjoy the mental stimulation I get at work during my 12-hour shifts. Becoming a nurse has even helped me deal with the craziness of motherhood in some ways because it helps me distinguish things that I should be concerned with things that are not a big deal. (I have my time on a neuroscience floor and as an ER nurse to thank for that!)
Becoming a nurse blogger was a logical next step. I am having so much fun learning how to make and manage a website. However, since I am already a busy ER nurse with two small babies I am very limited on time. I only have 5-6 hours a week to spend on the blog. But as my kids grow older and go to school the time will be there. Until then, I will just keep chipping away at it after the kids go to bed in the evenings.
A nursing practice can take many forms.
As I grow older (and hopefully wiser!) I am discovering that there are so many paths that nurses can take. The sky really is the limit as long as you work hard and are open to continually learning new skills.
My goal is to create a career for myself were I can combine my journalism degree with my nursing knowledge and motherly experience. This is the first “career” I have ever had where I didn’t have to fill out an extensive application and interview for the position. For the very first time, I am warming to the idea of being my OWN boss. And I really like it!
Never in a million years would my 21-year-old college-newspaper-writing- self would have guessed that I would be a nurse blogger. But every experience I have had up until now has been an important stepping stone to this place. And I have goosebumps just thinking about what I can make happen next. Stay tuned for more…