How to Make Money Blogging [for Homeschool Parents]
This post may contain affiliate links.
If you are new to blogging or thinking of starting a blog, here is everything you need to know to get started. Professional blogging is a great job for homeschool parents. You can control how much (or how little) you work, and you can work from home while you homeschool your kids. I didn’t start out to blog professionally.
Six years ago, I started to chronicle our homeschool journey to show friends and family what my kids were learning about. Over time, the blog grew, I really enjoyed blogging and I began to earn some money from it. I’ve increased my income every year since then. Between my blog and the opportunities that have opened up because of my blog, I am able to contribute significantly to my family’s income.
Lets talk about how to make money blogging while you homeschool your kids.
Want to know the ONE thing I wish I done when I first started focusing on my blog as a potential source of income? I wish I would’ve invested a small amount of money in it. I went from a hobby blogger to making my blog a business. And all businesses are an investment, right? I wish I would’ve invested sooner in self-hosting, a fancier theme, going to a conference and a few nice stock images. It wouldn’t have been a huge investment and I would’ve reaped the benefits many times over.
Keep that in mind with the tips below. Some of them mean spending a little bit of money, but I promise you it’s worth it and YOU get to decide how you invest in your blogging business.
What should I Blog About?
Offer people helpful solutions. Be a resource. People are busy and the internet is a big, distracting place. Give people a reason to come to you, to stay there and to keep coming back. I blog about homeschooling so I offer learning ideas, free printables, resources for specific topics like Science and Math and inspirational posts that talk about what’s in my heart about homeschooling. My posts are designed to make homeschool planning easier. In addition, I use the social media channels associated with my blog to share other resources that I think will be helpful to my readers.
Blog what you know. Photography, food, saving money, home decorating. Take whatever you do well and blog about that. It will be so much easier than blogging about something you don’t know very well, like, say auto mechanics. Your passion for that topic will shine through and your readers will keep coming back.
Generating Content. Once you’ve picked your topic/topics, just start writing. Then see what people respond to. I did not start out to write about science and math. I blogged about everything we were doing in our homeschool, but I found that readers gravitated towards those science and math posts. So I wrote more and more of them.
How do you know what readers are reading and sharing on social media? Install Google Analytics on your blog right away. It’s free and easy to install. No coding necessary. You can use this to check your traffic. Where is it coming from and which posts are getting the most traffic? This is also helpful and sometimes required information for doing sponsored posts (more about that below).
Use high quality images. Always. This is a must. The internet is about images just as much as words. Good images get noticed when you promote your blog posts on social media. A blog post can have the most wonderful, useful words but when you post it on social media, it’s the image that often catches the eye of a potential reader.
Options for Blog Images
- Take your own photos in the highest quality that your current technology allows. Whether you have a DSLR, a point-and-shoot camera or a smart phone, use what you have, take photos and edit them. Make sure they are well-lit and clear.
- Purchasing Stock Images. Canva, a photo editing site sells stock images that cost about $1 each. I like this a la cart method rather than some other sites that require a monthly membership.
- Edit Your Images. PicMonkey (free, but the Royal upgrade is totally worth it) is great for this. Canva, as mentioned above, is also for editing and is free as well.
Learn how to use social media to promote your blog posts and network with other bloggers who will share your posts. I found I could write my little heart out, I had good stuff to share but no one knows it’s there unless I go out and tell them. Then, if it truly is good, they’ll keep coming back for more. Once I joined a Facebook group of bloggers in my niche, my knowledge of blogging grew and so did the frequency with which other bloggers shared my posts on Facebook, Pinterest and Twitter. That’s good because blog traffic equals money. We’ll talk about that more in a minute.
Make sure people can get your new posts without going to look for them: By subscribing to your posts or newsletter, by following you on Facebook or another social media network where you are putting your latest posts into their feed. Relying on readers, even those who love you dearly, such as your own mother, to remember to regularly check your blog is less likely to generate traffic than seeing something new from you in their in-box or Facebook feed and clicking on it. Wow, that was a really long sentence but hopefully I made my point.
Connect with your readers. Share about your life and your family but always make sure you are offering a solution or a resource (see above). I learned eventually that no one cares what my kids eat for breakfast or about the completely obscure way we tied a Fancy Nancy book into our social studies curriculum and it became an art project. (yes, I actually wrote a post about that in the early days and no, I won’t link to it because it totally lacked focus). Speaking of focus…
FOCUS. This is a piece of advice I don’t follow very well but it’s one of my blogging goals this year. Pick between one and four topics you are going to blog about. I just totally made that number up but it really is a good goal. If you blog about recipes and finances and homeschooling and travel you’re focus is pretty good but if you tack on the topics of raising horses and home DIY projects as well as men’s olympic curling competitions then you’re a bit all over the place. There are plenty of readers who want to read more about those original one or four topics. Ironically, I am saying this when blogging about blogging is NOT one of my four topics, which leads me to my next point….
Don’t be afraid to step out of your niche once in a while if you feel like you really have something good to share. Sometimes I blog about a recipe although I’m clearly not a food blogger. Once I blogged about how to clean my HE washing machine and I still get traffic on that post every day. I took a picture with an older version iPhone that wasn’t very good, but it was good enough, and that post lives on thanks to Pinterest.
Don’t blog in a vacuum. Network. There are blogging conferences but you can also network right from your laptop. Join a Facebook group for bloggers in your niche or start one. Find out if there is a local group of bloggers that meets in person.
Which Blogging Platform Should I Use?
There’s Blogger, TypePad, Squarespace, Tumblr, WordPress and about 10 more that I’ve never heard of when I googled it. I use WordPress because I found Blogger limiting and I had a friend who blogged on WordPress who could walk me through it in the beginning. It was not a huge learning curve. A few tutorials and I was off and running. I taught my son how to use WordPress when he was 9 and he’s been running his pet sitting business website off of that for two years now. There are tutorials on YouTube that can walk you through it. There are also a ton of free plug-ins for WordPress that do everything from track your statistics to block spam to collect email addresses of readers, which is another reason I like it.
Regardless, pick a platform and start blogging. I can’t speak to how other platforms work but I can tell you that with WordPress you pick a theme–there are lots of free ones. Start with those. You can always upgrade later to a paid theme, such as those from StudioPress. Themes are pre-made templates that you can customize with fonts, colors and layouts to make it look the way you want.
What is self-hosting?
Blogging platforms offer you a place to host your blog for free. You pick a name for your blog and they host it for you, so for example, when I started I was creeksidlearning.wordpress.com. This is a great place to start but if you want to monetize your blog with ads you will need to move to self-hosting. That’s a confusing term because it sounds like YOU are the one doing the hosting when actually you are paying a company to host you blog on their servers instead of servers of the place where you write your blog. You pay a yearly or monthly fee and and your host redirects your blog to their servers.
Here’s how mine works. I still blog on WordPress but my blog is hosted by Blue Host. I pay them a yearly fee and this allowed me to put ads on my site, which is where a significant portion of my blogging income comes from. More on that in a minute.
When you move to self-hosting, you also need to purchase your domain. That means you drop the .wordpress or .blogspot part of your blog’s url. A domain name costs between $10 and $20 per year when purchased separately, but Blue Host give you one for free if you sign up for hosting.
Also, get the whois privacy, to ensure that your personal information, like address and phone number, aren’t publicly linked to your domain. This costs about $10 per year. Well worth it.
How do I make money from my blog?
First, remember there is more than one way to make money from a blog and the more income sources you have in place, the more money you will make.
Ads Ads are passive income. You concentrate on promoting your blog on social media and writing content that keeps people coming back for more, the more visitors you get to your blog, the more money you make from ads.
Some ad networks have specifics about the amount of traffic you need to have but here are some good ones for new bloggers starting out:
Google Adsense, Amazon cpm and BlogHer/SheKnows. They don’t require a specific number of page views per month. As you grow your blog, there are bigger ad networks (read: they pay you more) that require a certain level of traffic to join, say 100,000 page views per month.
Affiliate links These are links that you put into your blog posts that earn you commission on products sold when someone clicks through from your blog. They contain code that tracks the link back to an account you have set up with that company. For example, I use Amazon affiliate links on all the books I recommend on my blog. If someone clicks that link and makes a purchase–any purchase, doesn’t have to be that book–I get a small commission. These can add up and each month I get a check from Amazon deposited into my bank account.
Sponsored posts There are sponsored post opportunities from networks that work with lots of companies and directly from companies themselves. Lets look at both.
You will want to make sure you have current content on your blog and that your blog is connected with social networks, meaning you have a Facebook page for your blog, as well as Pinterest, Twitter and Instagram accounts. Sound overwhelming? Start with one and work with it, then add another when you get a rhythm going.
Sponsored posts from networks These networks work with big stores like Target and Wal-Mart and with brands like Cheerios, PBS Kids, etc. They have a contract with those companies/brands to find a certain number of bloggers to promote a specific product. They give you information about the product and how they want it shared (which social media networks and how often). You use the product, write a blog post, take pictures, and then promote it. They pay you.
Here are some examples of sponsored posts for Rubbermaid, AllYou Magazine and Halls Cough Drops. Those are not normally products you would associate with homeschooling, right? Right. Make them relevant to your blog’s niche (in my case, learning activities). The Halls post became one of my most popular posts on Pinterest and it still brings me traffic, especially in the spring.
Here are some sponsored post networks to get you started:
- Social Fabric
- Tap Influence
- Mom It Forward
- Weave Made Media (requires 7,500 page views per month).
Sponsored posts directly with companies Don’t be afraid to reach out to a company you love and could represent in a genuine way. You might be surprised by a “YES, we’d love to work with you.” Some companies that I reached out to resulted in a really great relationship and I love promoting their products because they are something that my family uses and loves, such as Brave Writer and Safari LTD.
The goal is to not work for free. Don’t work for free products unless it is something you would normally purchase or would purchase it if you could, like the math curriculum you really want for your 5th grader, a vacation destination or a new vacuum cleaner. Check the federal income tax regulations for claiming free products as income on your taxes. Ask yourself if it is truly worth it to get a $10 product for free and pay taxes on it.
In the beginning, I did some free posts for books because I felt they were a good fit for my blog and my homeschool and I wanted the experience of writing sponsored posts. As my page views increased, I began to charge for sponsored posts and to be more selective about what I wrote about.
The longer you blog, the more companies will email you asking you to work in exchange for product and no pay. Think about this. Is the person emailing you getting paid in free boxes of granola bars or toothbrushes? Of course not. Don’t assume that because you are a newer blogger that you must work for free. But do so only if you are getting products and experience that you want. Then set goals to move on to paid sponsored opportunities.
Selling your own products on your blog Digital products are another big way to make money with a blog. I offer most of my printables for free, except for the ebook that I wrote last year. Many bloggers sell a lot of digital products and make money this way.
Writing for others Your blog can act as a giant digital resume to show others your writing style and photography or graphic skills. This can generate job opportunities writing for others as a contributor on a larger blog or on a company’s website. A few years ago, I was a contributing writer for Kiwi Crate. This was a really fun way to add to my monthly income and working with an editor for the first time challenged me to improve my photography skills.
How often should I blog? How will I find the time?
I only post once a week. That’s infrequent in the blogosphere, where most professional bloggers post at least three times a week and as often as daily. Here’s the thing. I am a parent and homeschooling mom first. This is my chosen career. It takes a ton of time to research and choose curriculum, work with my kids every day, and take them to activities. Blogging is also my profession but parenting and homeschooling come first. Always.
I blog in the mornings before my kids get up, 7 days a week, because I’m a morning person. I turn off Facebook and other distractions and I work from a to-do list. When I have a lot to do or a deadline to meet, I take my laptop to a cafe on a weekend while my husband takes care of the kids. This is what works for me. Find what works for you. Are you a morning or a night person? I know a professional blogger who takes one whole day each week to run her blog while her husband takes over homeschooling and caring for the kids.
Are you already a homeschooling parent who blogs? I’m working on part 2 of this post for more experienced bloggers. Leave me a comment about what you’d like to read about.