Michael and I are experimenting with monetizing the She Dreams of Alpine blog because we are looking for creative ways to pay off our massive student loan debt. For more about our big goal of paying off our student loan debt, read here. We love going on adventures and we figure we will be doing this stuff anyways, so we thought it could be fun and maybe even helpful if we gave everyone a sneak peak into She Dreams of Alpine's earnings and traffic as we grow and learn more about the blogging business. If this is something you are interested in, we want to make this process as painless as possible for you. Let us do the hard work, and learn from our experiences and mistakes. We have 2 main ways for you to learn more about blogging business.
Income and Traffic Reports - These reports will be posted occasionally and will not only detail our financial and blog traffic story, but also what we are learning and how we are growing in our own voice and endeavors.
Consulting/Coaching - I’ve decided to open up my doors for some occasional one-on-one coaching. I’ll be the most useful for someone looking to start their journey with blogging. After doing this for over a year now, I know what you should be focusing on, and what is just noise and distraction. My consulting services are still being set up, but if this interests you, please reach out to email@example.com until I get that page up and running.
These reports will be posted monthly and will not only detail our financial and blog traffic story, but also what we are learning and how we are growing in our own voice and endeavors.
Tools I use for blogging:
Note: please note that some of the links below are affiliate links, but all the products I list are ones that I highly recommend and love myself!
Canva is an amazing tool that I just discovered in 2017. It allows you to create beautiful templates and makes it super easy. I didn't even need to take any tutorials to understand how to use Canva, its that user friendly. I can't believe I wasn't using this before! I primarily love using Canva for making images for Pinterest and slide covers for my youtube videos, but I've even used it before to create beautiful checklists. There is a free and a paid version of this tool, but I get by still using the free version only. Definitely check this tool out if you've never used it before.
I had been looking for a new “online photo management” system and had previously been using Flickr for having a backup database of our outdoor photos. However, I started having a lot of issues with Flickr’s upload tool and wasted a ton of time trying to load in albums that would just result in upload errors. So I quit that bad relationship despite its sweet promise of 1TB storage for free and moved my photo storage system to SmugMug and couldn’t be happier! It costs a bit of money, but you have unlimited storage for only $4/month, and the best part? The uploader actually works… every time. I also really love the way you can organize and tag your photos in SmugMug, it is exactly what I was looking for and I don’t mind paying for it. I highly recommend it if you are looking for a online photo storage system.
ConvertKit is an email marketing tool that allows you to build your email list and create email automations for your subscribers. I'm actually a newly converted ConvertKit user. Prior to December 2017 I had been using Mail Chimp as my email marketing tool. Mail Chimp is great, and free, but for the growth that I wanted to bring to the blog I found that Mail Chimp didn't provide me the options that I wanted to incorporate into my future growth. I will write a post on this one day to detail this a bit more, but to put things simply. I love the easy to use and powerful tool that ConvertKit is, I'm already finding it way easier to work with and super adapting to my needs.
If you post a lot of photos, like me, (or honestly, even if you don't), run your photos through this tool JPEGmini to reduce your photo file sizes by up to 80% without sacrificing the quality of your photo! I didn't believe it until I tried it, but I really can't tell the difference between my 2MB photos after they've been reduced down to 300KB. Having smaller photos will help your website to load faster, which will help boost your SEO, so definitely don't ignore this. It costs $29 for the lite version (which is what I use), but that is a ONE TIME cost.. then you have it for unlimited use. Not a bad deal in my opinion.
Bluehost is one of the largest and most powerful web hosting services out there. But wait Allison, don't you use Squarespace? Yes, I do, but that was a personal decision I decided to make, and before I decided to go with Squarespace I seriously considered a Wordpress blog with Bluehost web hosting. Many people prefer to use Wordpress over Squarespace, and I'll let you do that research yourself, but if you decide to go the Wordpress route, check out bBluehost for your web hosting. This is what I would've gone with myself. Squarespace websites already come with hosting, so this step isn't needed.
Like my top bar sign up form? Or my sidebar subscription form? I used Mail Munch to design those. This is a great way to create beautiful email opt-in forms and it integrates well with ConvertKit and Mail Chimp. You can create a beautiful design through Mail Munch and then link it to your ConvertKit email list. If you are HTML savvy, you can create pretty beautiful designs within ConvertKit too, but I am not as HTML savvy (not yet at least, it's something I'd like to learn soon), so I use Mail Munch.
If you are marketing on Pinterest, you should definitely use the Tailwind App. It makes scheduling pins and marketing your content super easy. It also has a great analytics tool to evaluate the progress you've made.
Skillshare is an online community where you can learn just about anything from anyone. I joined this community back in October 2017 and have loved using it as a resource to learning different things about blogging, social media marketing, and even just random things like watercolor painting. If you are looking to expand your knowledge, definitely check Skillshare out.