Not a week goes by when I don't get asked
“Emma, I want to start a blog. Can you give me some tips?”
I am so flattered people see me as a successful blogger, and I am really proud of what I've accomplished. After all, just one month after launching Wealthysinglemommy.com in August 2012, I had 9,400 page views in 30 days.
Since then, I've found blogging to be amazing. Wealthysinglemommy.com has led to speaking engagements that paid as much as $20,000 each, a speaking appearance at the United Nations, hundreds of thousands of dollars in advertising income, invitations to write for top publications like the New York Times and Oprah.com, and appearing in amazing outlets like NPR, Wall Street Journal, TIME, Money, and CNN — and landed me a six-figure book deal that became a #1 bestseller.
Today, my blog is a big deal, but even early on, I found it is easy to earn about $1,000 per month just from a few affiliate partnerships, right away. I want to help moms just like you earn good and BIG-ASS money from blogging. Why?
Blogging is a great way to make a high income as a work-at-home mom
Most moms prefer to have a flexible career, and work at home at least part of the time, studies find. I get why! When you're your own boss, own your time, decide how much money you can earn (opposed to a boss telling you what your salary is), you are in control. That is power. Control. Freedom. Joy.
Here is a whole post about high-paying work-at-home careers that are perfect for moms — single or otherwise (though I'm fond of saying: Inside every married mom is a single mom).
Blogging doesn't require a lot of money to start
You can start blogging for a few hundred dollars if you already have a laptop.
How much money can I earn as a blogger? In some cases, a lot!
Bloggers and social media influencer income ranges from $0, to millions of dollars. I recently attended a blogger conference where a few of my colleagues shared their experience in building site that they all recently sold for between $6 million and $7 million.
What they shared is not highly technical, or complicated. It is what many of us can do, but they were diligent and ran their sites like businesses. It took them years — between 6 and 11 years, in these cases, but it is possible.
Blogging is an incredible way to give back and help others
Plus, more than any other work I've done in my 15+ years as a professional journalist, this platform allows me to help people in a very real way. Wealthysinglemommy.com has connected with hundreds of thousands of women all around the world, many of whom comment and email about how my message has given them comfort when they needed it, helped them find new and higher paying work, enjoy dating, find love, and relish their role as a mother.
Here is a recent post a follower wrote in my Facebook group, Millionaire Single Moms. She was so excited about my latest book that she offered to buy copies for other moms!
Skills you learn blogging will lead to other high-paid work
Freelance writing, social media management, affiliate marketing, search engine optimization, graphic design, and other skills are in high demand.
Jobs requiring these skills can often be done from home, on your schedule.
Here's how to start a blog, it's really, really easy
First, find a URL, also called a blog address or domain name, and buy it. (My URL Wealthysinglemommy.com).
In the past, I had good experience with the hosting service, BlueHost, that will help you buy your domain name quickly and cheaply (a few years ago when my site was getting really big and I needed high-end security and tech support, I upgraded to WPEngine as a host. WPEngine is amazing, but costs about $3,000 per year. Start small and cheap and upgrade as you grow).
First step: Find a domain name (it's free):
How to choose a domain name for your blog
Don't stress about your domain name. I bought Wealthysinglemommy.com for $3. The address had roughly the terms I was interested in including, which were “mom,” and something to do with abundance / wealth / riches.
“Richsinglemom.com” and other, better, addresses were either taken, or very expensive, and this was a hobby at the time. Back then, “mommy” irritated me — it's not a word I use in my daily life.
Since then, I have come to accept Wealthysinglemommy.com as a great name for several reasons:
1. It has keywords that are relevant to my blog. If I named my blog “Happycappuccino.com” — that might be cute, but when people are searching on Google or Facebook for information about single moms, it would be harder for them to stumble upon Wealthysinglemommy.com
2. It's is clear. My site speaks only to professional single moms. My target audience connects with my blog name because it says what it is. There are no initials or made-up words, or an unusual name that people wouldn't know how to spell.
3. It is provocative and memorable. “Wealth” and “single mom” are usually opposites in most people's minds. WHICH IS EXACTLY WHAT I AM TRYING TO CHANGE. My blog and life mission are baked into my URL.
4. It is short. OK, Wealthysinglemommy.com isn't that short. But when picking your blog URL, the shorter the better.
If you are struggling with finding a name for you blog, business, brand, product or service, you can use a naming service like Squadhelp. They use a crowd sourcing contest to obtain a list of ideas for you to choose from.
Choose a platform to build your blog
Wealthysinglemommy.com has always been on WordPress, and for most of you, I suggest you go with WordPress, too. The reason to chose WordPress is:
- It's free
- It is easy to set up
- It is the most common platform for blogs and other content sites, so when you hire designers, programmers, and other consultants and experts as you grow, it will be easier to find people to quickly and affordably service your site.
- Because WP is so common, there are lots of free and cheap plugins and services that you can use for everything from email capture, to social media promotion and beyond.
- Just use WordPress, OK?
PRO TIP: Make sure to start at WordPress.org so you have a normal blog from this decade. Otherwise, your site will be htttp://www.wordpress.wealthysinglemommy.com, and that is a really bad look.
For a quick and dirty lesson on setting up a WordPress site on your own:
- Sign up for hosting services on BlueHost.
- Follow this thorough and easy guide:
Tips on designing a successful blog:
When selecting your theme and fidgeting with design, keep in mind these things that I learned (some of them the hard way. You're welcome.):
Make it personal
There is no such thing as an anonymous personal blog anymore. People connect with other people. Use your real name.
Photo front and center
People want to know who is speaking to them. Again: It's all about human connection. Don't fret if you don't have fancy professional photos like many bloggers do. Just put up an iPhone pic and upgrade later.
Focus on one or two social media
Again, this is where people will find you. Readers have very short memories, so you must remind them of your work where they hang out: On social. Don't try to be an expert on every medium. Stick to what you know, and enjoy. So if you are on Pinterest and Insta all day, narrow your attention to those. As you grow, you can always branch out. For me, Facebook is my jam, followed by Twitter. I now hire out experts to grow my Instagram and Pinterest — but I only started those a couple years ago.
Make it awesome on mobile
When designing your site, make sure that everything looks and works great on a smartphone. This is more important than how your site operates on a desktop or laptop. At least half of the content is consumed via smartphones, and that figure grows daily. Search engines like Google give preference to sites that work great on mobile.
See at the top and center of Wealthysinglemommy.com the “Get free chapters from my book?” I didn't collect emails for the first TWO YEARS of blogging. I estimate I missed out on collecting about 10,000 email addresses. Don't make this mistake! Email is a powerful way of connecting with your audience, including selling them stuff like books and courses. I use email management service Aweber, which is one of the most popular ones, and offers great customer service.
How to quickly grow your blog to 1,000 pageviews per month — and beyond
Once you get your new awesome blog up and running, here are my basic tips for driving traffic and growing your blog.
The blog world is so incredibly crowded. So is the social media feed. There are millions more posts written today than just a few years ago. How will you stand out?
One of the things that have made Wealthysinglemommy.com so successful is that I speak to a very narrow, specific group of people — who no one else was speaking to : Professional single moms. Often, those in social media worry about going too niche, afraid that they will alienate people and not be able to grow. That is nothing to worry about.
For one, if you own a very small audience, you will literally have low or no competition. Second, your audience may be larger than your niche. For example, many of the moms who follow me are not in professional-level careers, but aspire to be. They follow me and buy my books and products, and spend time on my blog. Also, married women have their reasons to read my blog, as do all kinds of men.
Once per week is the minimum. Whatever your cadence, be consistent. But even more important, focus on quality:
Make posts long and useful
You have two masters as a blogger: Readers and Google. Really, they are one and the same, as Google increasingly adjusts its algorithm — or, the rules by which it will favor one blog post over another when people search for topics you write about — to accommodate the reader, and give readers a really good experience.
Google's algorithm updates are a really positive thing that rewards quality writing and good sites — and punishes sites with bad, misleading or scammy content. If your posts and site are easy to use, with good writing with content that helps people, then your blog will be more likely to grow, since your posts will appear higher in searches, and it is easier for people to find them.
One of the things that readers — and therefore Google — prefers, is longer blog posts. Aim for at least 1,200 words per post. This post you are reading is more than 3,000 words.
Make sure the content is easy to read, and broken up into H2 and H3 sections. Learn more about headers in this post from Yoast (which has a lot of great content on blogging).
Just say what the post is about. This is important for SEO (search engine optimization, which is how Google helps people find your site. For example, I use the term “single mom” whenever I can, since that is what my blog is about, and the search term I want people to use to find me).
NO PUNS. If you try to get clever with headlines, you miss opportunities for SEO power. They are confusing and make people think — which no one has time for when you're competing against — literally — millions and millions of other, straightforward headlines. Plus, puns are horrible. No one appreciates puns except your corny 70-year-old uncle. Again: NO PUNS.
Interact with your readers!
Respond to every comment, whether on the posts or social. This helps readers feel connected with you — you will be surprised how many will geek out that the blog author ACTUALLY responded. You are a celebrity! This also inspires people to return to your site to engage further, share your content on social media, and remember you.
Have a point of view
There is so, so, so much content out there. Who should anyone care what you have to say? If you have something new, surprising, personal, controversial, unorthodox, funny, edgy, sad or jarring, you win. Plus, when you have something to say, big-name media pay attention and interview you. I didn't get quoted in the New York Times, Wall Street Journal, NPR, Women's Day and other big outlets by being boring and neutral.
The more you make readers think, the more you piss them off, touch their hearts and otherwise engage with their mind, heart and senses, the more successful you will be.
Connect with other bloggers and influencers
Email other bloggers, and editors at large sites with audience relevant to yours, and simply ask if you can guest post. Do not ask for money, but do ask for a direct link to your blog.
This builds readership and SEO. Tweet your latest post to the big names in your area. Send an email introducing yourself to the hottest podcasters with shared target audiences.
Engage on Instagram posts of influencers whose audiences compliment yours.
Google Analytics is free, easy to use, and has an app so you can stalk your traffic, minute-by-minute, on your phone. This way you can start to understand what posts resonate with readers, what marketing efforts work.
Other resources I use daily: Ahrefs, which helps me understand keyword ranking, Aweber to manage my email subscribers,
Surround yourself with successful people
Your network is everything — not just for landing clients. But for inspiration, finding best practices, sharing good vibes and surrounding yourself with support and, well, success.
Whatever you do, don't join those mommy blogger groups where women's goals are limited to income for soccer for their kids.
Think big. Really big. Then think bigger. Because, really, what’s the point otherwise?
To maintain the energy and focus to get big, you need to be surrounded by others with the same mindset.
How to monetize your blog
Once you get some nice traffic going, it's time to monetize. There are several common ways that people monetize a blog, and I have tried pretty much all of them, with varying success.
Affiliate marketing through a blog
Affiliate ads are very simple. If someone clicks on a special link on your blog, and buys something on the other side, you get paid. For example, if you click on this link, and sign up for a CIT Bank savings account, which — true story — is the highest I've found on the market at 2.15% — I get $125. Pretty damn cool, right?
I've found the easiest way is through affiliate ads — like the one I have with BlueHost (which pays me $75 when you click on that link and buy their services) and FlexJobs (which also pays me when you sign up with them).
Find these partnerships either directly through the company sites, or networks like:
Tips for success with affiliate marketing:
I never write about products I don't really truly endorse and/or use. People follow me because I'm honest. It doesn't work if I suddenly start promoting sleazy weight-loss programs or multi-level marketing scams.
For example, I really love FlexJobs, the career board for part-time, telecommute, remote and other flexible jobs — a topic that fits perfectly with this site's mission to close the pay gap and help moms realize their financial and career potential.
I know the founder, and just this morning bumped into a SAHM mom I know while I was working at Starbucks and recommended the site by showing her on my laptop.
See at the bottom of this post how I spell out that links here might make me money? Always include those. If someone pays you outright to write about their product, consider posting that at the top of the blog post.
I have found that readers don't care if you make money — many are often happy for you — as long as you are honest and give them good information.
How to get sponsored posts for your blog
A sponsored post is when a company pays you a flat fee to write a blog post, promote on social media, wrote a post on their site, or any other create way you can cook up to help them get the word out about their product.
Prices can range from a free bag of frozen chicken breasts, to tens of thousands of dollars.
If your site ranks high for certain keywords, or you get on the radar of brands through social media, they may reach out to you to partner on sponsored content.
You can also sign up with influencer marketing agencies that can send gigs your way, some of which send out regular email blasts with opportunities.
Launch a course or book from your blog
I've launched two online video courses and written two books — one with Penguin, the other self-published — based on what I learned my audience is interested in. Both of these are very doable and potentially profitable, but are the 2.0 steps in this process.
Squadhelp can also help you with your book name by using a crowd sourcing contest to obtain a list of ideas for you to choose from.
Final advice about blogging
Keep at it. Blogging is hard work. It is also very rewarding, powerful way to connect with other people and change the world. It can lead to professional opportunities, income, personal growth and, well, lots of fun. But there is no fool-proof recipe for blogging success.
Every successful blogger I know has tales of months and years of ruthless writing, trying numerous marketing efforts, and staying focused and energetic — even when it gets discouraging.
I have made a zillion mistakes, taken countless risks that ultimately did not pay off immediately. All part of the learning process, and all investment in this business, myself and my activism.
Texas Business Women's Lisa Goodgame interviewed me about building my brand and being vulnerable and authentic in your marketing:
I also wrote about the risks, mistakes and triumphs of my brand-building journey for DailyWorth:
But the best part of all of this is that I am having so, so much fun.
I mean, I've been a professional writer for my whole career — a writer my whole life. But I'm stepping outside of my journalism work — where I eagerly devour and write other people's stories. Now I write my own story.
My opinions. My very own voice.
By sharing my pain and shame and secret thoughts seems to give others permission to absolve their pain and shame and secrets, too. This journey has been so cathartic. Beyond cathartic. It is affirming and joyous and helped me work through all kinds of personal baggage.
Emma Johnson is a veteran money journalist, noted blogger, bestselling author and an host of the award-winning podcast, Like a Mother with Emma Johnson. A former Associated Press Financial Wire reporter and MSN Money columnist, Emma has written for the New York Times, Wall Street Journal, Forbes, Glamour, Oprah.com, U.S. News, Parenting, USA Today and others. Her #1 bestseller, The Kickass Single Mom (Penguin), was named to the New York Post's ‘Must Read” list.
Emma regularly comments on issues of modern families, gender equality, divorce, sex and motherhood for outlets like CNN, Headline News, New York Times, Wall Street Journal, Fox & Friends, CNBC, NPR, TIME, MONEY, O, The Oprah Magazine and The Doctors. She was named Parents magazine’s “Best of the Web,” “Top 15 Personal Finance Podcasts” by U.S. News, and a “Most Eligible New Yorker” by New York Observer.