This post may contain affiliate links. You can read my disclosure policy here.
Starting a blog can be overwhelming, especially when you already work full time, are a parent to small children and have a to-do list that never seems to end. To make matters worse there is almost too much information on the internet about how to start a blog.
Where do I start? Who should I trust? How do I prevent myself from becoming overwhelmed with information?
And most importantly, how do I even find the time to start a blog when my schedule is already crazy busy?
The thing about blogging is that it is a marathon, NOT a sprint. It is also not a get rich fast (or maybe ever) scheme. It is a TON of work. So, if you are not considering it as a long term project then quite frankly I would strongly consider whether you want to start a blog in the first place.
But you are still reading this so I’m going to assume you really do want to start a blog . And I’m so glad. Because I love blogging and I love talking about blogging even more!
Here are a 5 important things to consider BEFORE starting a blog:
1. Find your niche
For me, this one was easy. I am very passionate about two things: nursing and motherhood. (And, well, my husband & other loved ones too, but for the sake of having a blog, you need to find YOUR specific niche that you can passionately write about).
Someone once told me this: “Before you start a blog you must find your niche. Then, take your niche and niche it down even more.” In essence, you need to get really super specific.
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). It also doesn’t tell you anything about how I might be able to add any value to a reader. It’s just too vague.
Instead I am 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 advocate. That sounds a little better, doesn’t it?
It seems counter-intuitive that niche-ing down helps bloggers perform better but it really does. It increases your engagement with a very specific group and you have the opportunity to be an expert in a small area. You just can’t be everything to everyone, and you can’t be an expert at everything.
2. What will your name be?
Many bloggers want their name to reflect their niche. I’ll use myself as an example again: my blog name is Mother Nurse Love and my niche is nurse moms and self love. Pretty self explanatory.
But it doesn’t have to be that way if you don’t want it to. Your name can be anything you want it to be (although it might be a little more interesting if you are able to have a little story behind it!).
It is, however, important to put a lot of consideration into your name for the following reasons:
- Your blog name is going to be with you for a long time. You will be known for it.
- It is difficult (but not impossible) to change it later on down the line.
- Bloggers generally use their blog names for their social media handles as well. Again, this just makes it harder for you to re-brand in the future (so start with the right name!)
Just make sure your name is not offensive or is sending a message that does not reflect you well.
(In the book The Nurses Guide To Blogging, co-author Kati Klieber, talks about how when she first started out her blogging name was Nurse Eye Roll. While many RN’s can relate to Nurse Eye Roll as a funny title, when she started getting more popular in the blogging world she became concerned that her blog name was sending the wrong message to brands and followers. She ultimately had to do a complete re-brand and changed her name to FreshRN. She is now more popular than ever the nurse blogging community, but I’m sure it was a huge pain in the butt at the time.)
A word of advice: I strongly suggest that you figure out what your blog name will be BEFORE setting up a WordPress blog with Bluehost.
3. What is your end goal with your blog?
Do you want a hobby blog? Or are you trying to start a side hustle/business? You don’t have to make this decision right away, but it’s something to keep in mind, especially if you are planning on growing an email list and monetizing your blog at some point.
First things first though. You need to starting writing blog posts. A lot of them. And they need to be good.
By now you have probably heard the phrase “content is king.” Well, frankly, it is. And if your end goal is to have a growing, thriving blog, then your writing and your voice need to be honed in nicely.
After you have a functioning website up and running then it might be a good time to start expanding your reach.
If your end goal is lots of website traffic you need to start with Pinterest AND focus on Search Engine Optimization
Pinterest will get you page views faster – but great SEO will rank you higher in Google searches and is great for the long haul. Right now I focus on both to grow my website traffic.
You may not know this, but Pinterest is NOT a social media platform. Its a visual search engine. It has changed tremendously over the last year and continues to have algorithm updates almost weekly (or so it seems!) Mastering Pinterest takes a lot of work and if you want more traffic sooner then you need to invest in a course.
Here is a great resource for you understand and better utilize Pinterest: a blogger colleague of mine, Megan Johnson, created Pinterest Ninja to help people increase their blog pages views by the thousands. I did the course when I was on maternity leave and have been able to increase my page views from 0 to 500-1000/day within a few months. Seriously, read some of her reviews.
Know this- if your goal IS to monetize your blog you will need to invest in a few courses to help move you forward. Otherwise, blogging is a lonely, frustrating island.)
4. How much time will you be able to dedicate?
Most adults have a full time job and/or kids that they need to manage before they can put work time into blogging. So as much as we intend to dive right into writing 7 posts a week, for many of us that is just not realistic.
I am a mother of 2 very small children, a nurse working 12 hour shifts, a wife and a homemaker. So, like most other working women bloggers, I’m super freaking busy 99% of the time. However, through practicing hyper-vigilant time management and forgoing a little shut eye at night I am managing to squeeze 5-10 hours into my blog every week. And I am still able to produce some decent and valuable content on a fairly consistent basis.
Eventually, my children with be in school and at that time I will be able to dedicate more time to content creation and website management. But for now I am still making an impact and earning a little money every day.
Try making a tentative blogging schedule for yourself and stick to it. Like I mentioned before, blogging is a marathon, not a sprint and it takes time to grow. Anyone who tells you otherwise is lying or trying to sell you something.
5. Are you OK with being vulnerable?
When I first started blogging it took me a week to write my first posts. The reason it took me so long was that I kept going back and censoring my post from its original content. Mostly I was afraid of offending someone. I kept thinking “what if they leave a negative comment on my site?
It took me a few months to stop being so hard on myself. After all, this is my blog, I own it, and therefore I am allowed to talk about whatever I want. If someone has something negative to say, so what? Besides, aren’t I trying to start a dialog for nurse moms?
(A blogging collage once shared some encouraging words: she said “you’ll know when your really doing well with your blog when you get a nasty comment on your site. That’s when the trolls start to find you.” Wise words.)
Vulnerability can be powerful for a new blogger. Once you decide that you are going to be authentic with your writing you actually gain momentum with your messaging. You allow your writing to be more creative and natural. It’s an inspired feeling and your readers will appreciate getting to know you better.
(A few final thoughts to mention before hitting publish: Are you hurting anyone or belittling a person or community? Words are powerful so use them to create positivity and to help find solutions to problems. Create value. Spread the love.)
Here are a few more posts you may be interested in reading!
Recommended blogging courses and resources for new bloggers:
You need to know by now – if your goal IS to monetize your blog you must invest in a few courses to help move you forward. Otherwise, blogging is a lonely, frustrating island.
- 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.
- Pinterest Ninja: If you want to understand how Pinterest can grow blog traffic you need this Pinterest Ninja Course. A blogger colleague of mine, Megan Johnson, created Pinterest Ninja to help people increase their blog pages views by the thousands. I did the course when I was on maternity leave and I was able to increase my blog traffic exponentially in just over one month. Seriously, read some of her reviews. Her course is invaluable.
(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:
(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: