During the summer of 2020, amid COVID lockdowns, I decided to start my blogging journey.
I’ve always loved writing in all its forms and being creative in any way I can be, and I am a total bookworm so starting a blog has been on my goals list for a long time. Although I have 8 years of digital marketing experience, I didn’t realize just how successful blogging can be as a career until I started researching.
Seeing so many people generating full-time income from blogs has been incredibly motivating and inspiring, and I am excited to be on this blogging journey.
This Brits Life went live in September and launched officially on social media on Sept 28. Since then, I’ve had over 600 visitors to my little corner of the internet, and have started making money from affiliates and marketing services. Although my numbers are very small, it is a great start and shows that I’m moving in the right direction.
I have learned a lot, and I want to share those learnings with all of you. Here is a rundown of how I got started, what courses I have taken, what tools I have used, and what lessons learned. I hope it will help you in your blogging journey.
Quick Disclaimer: this post contains some affiliate links. If you click on or purchase through these links, I may receive a commission at no extra cost to you. However, I only recommend products or services that I genuinely like and trust.
How I Started My Blog
I decided to do a 5 day start a blogging business course to start my blog because although I have over 8 years digital marketing experience, I wanted to make sure I set myself up for success. Doing the course also gave me access to a supportive community who were also embarking on their blogging journeys.
Setting Up My Blog
To monetize my blog, I needed a self-hosted blog so I set up my blog on WordPress through Bluehost. When I signed up with Bluehost they created my domain name and WordPress account for me. At only $3.95 per month, it was an affordable option, plus they have good customer service and helped me with things like getting an SSL certificate and setting up G-Suite.
To create my blog, I have used Elementor because it is a really easy-to-use drag-and-drop website builder that enabled me to build my website quickly. It works seamlessly with almost any WordPress theme or Plugin, and there are over 80 design elements to play with. There is a free version and a pro version, and I’ve found that so far the free version has enabled me to do everything that I’ve needed to do.
For the design and layout of my blog, I am currently using a free theme by Blossom Themes. They specialize in feminine, SEO-friendly, and feature-rich themes. They provide step-by-step documentation, videos, and email support for setting up and using their themes, and it took hours rather than days to get everything set up. I only had to contact the support team a couple of times, for a couple of specific customizations that required coding, and I got very fast responses. There are over 45 free and inexpensive premium themes (around $50). I am currently using Fashion Diva which is a free theme.
Before I published my blog and officially went ‘live’ I created core blog pages and some blog posts.
The most important pages on your blog for going live are just the home page, an about me page, and a contact page so these were the only pages I worked on before launching the blog.
Alongside these key pages, you must have some blog posts written and posted. I was advised to have around 5-7 blog posts written and published because when people start visiting your site they will want to read your content. Your goal is to build a relationship with your readers and also to keep them on your site for as long as possible.
I also created a few blog posts in advance because it meant that I had more time to create more content without feeling stressed or time-pressured. When you start you will be trying to do all the things so just focusing on content, and working a little in advance will help you to avoid feeling overwhelmed.
Great Blogging Tools
I use a lot of different tools for my blogging, and I have started a resources page on the blog to list all of them, but these are the main ones that I use all the time.
Whether you are a master at spelling and grammar or not, Grammarly is a must-have and you will find it helpful especially when you are editing or rushing to get something published.
If you are already familiar with me or my blog you will know that I LOVE Canva and use it every single day. From social media posts to blog graphics, e-books, presentations, and lead magnets, you can create countless things in Canva and it is really easy to use.
PicMonkey is another super simple to use graphic design tool that I use for content creation.
I use the CoSchedule tool for every blog post to create attention grabbing headlines. It gives your headlines a score. Your aim is for all of your headlines to score 70 or above.
CoSchedule is a free plugin that you can add to your site.
2020 was a year when I have developed a renewed love for online learning. I am a firm believer that we get back in life what we put in and starting a blog is no different.
Although I have 8+ years of digital marketing experience, there were lots of things about blogging that I needed to learn. The digital world is also constantly changing and we must try and keep up to date so that we aren’t left behind.
Here are some digital courses that I recommend checking out.
Start A Blogging Business 5 Day Course
This is the free 5-day crash course to start a money-making blog quickly while avoiding big mistakes that new bloggers often make. In 5 days or less, you can get your blog set up with no technical experience required.
Blogging Blastoff is a 30-day step-by-step plan to create the blog of your dreams. It covers everything you need to be set up for success including creating great content, generating traffic, monetizing your blog, and running your blog as a professional blogger with a business.
Affiliate Blogger Bootcamp
This is the affiliate course that I have taken to set up my affiliate marketing the right way. This course helped me to start obtaining affiliates and also gave me a lot of helpful information about creating an affiliate marketing strategy.
SEO Blogger Bootcamp
Every blogger needs to master SEO (Search Engine Optimisation) for their blog and their amazing content to show up on Google. SEO is not my strongest area so taking a course was a must. This is the course that I am taking to improve my SEO knowledge and it has been very beneficial so far.
Your Social Media Bootcamp, Jasmine Star
This is a comprehensive CreativeLive course covering everything from building a brand and creating a social media strategy to content creation and photography in 43 video lessons. I like her style of teaching because she makes everything simple and easy to implement. She’s a professional photographer so you are getting a social media course and a photography course in one.
Monetizing My Blog
My goal is that my blog will become a full-time income for me, generating at least 6 figures every year. I know that this will take time and effort but it is do-able.
It’s not realistic to start every monetization avenue at the same time, so for now I have focused on affiliate marketing. Over the course of the last 2-3 months, I have set up several affiliates for business tools, digital courses, products, and retail stores that I know and feel good about promoting.
I aim to branch out into other streams of revenue like sponsored posts, digital products, and virtual creative services in the weeks ahead.
If affiliate marketing is something new to you, I highly recommend taking a course to learn how to approach this strategically. I did an affiliate blogger bootcamp which has helped me massively.
Despite being a very new blogger with low traffic volumes, I have been able to join a lot of great affiliate programs including Amazon.
One of my top tips for affiliate marketing is to join big affiliate networks. I’d recommend looking at networks like ShareASale, Affiliate Window, and CJ Affiliate as a starting point. Another great option for new bloggers is, of course, Amazon. I have made my first affiliate sales with Amazon.
Download your FREE Affiliate Performance Tracker in the Freebies Library Sign up below for your password to access the library.
4 Month Blog Stats
On September 28, after creating a few blog posts, I officially launched my blog. But I did get a little bit of traffic pre-launch so I’m including that activity in my blog stats.
Month 1: September
- Page Views 448
- Visitors 177
- Bounce Rate 52.75%
Month 2: October
- Page Views 382
- Visitors 138 (132 new)
- Bounce Rate 55.08%
Month 3: November
- Page Views 634
- Visitors 183 (173 new)
- Bounce Rate 57.35%
Month 4: December
- Page Views 865
- Visitors 222 (209 new)
- Bounce Rate 44.60%
After my first few weeks of blogging, I set myself a goal of 2k page views by the end of the year. At the time it felt like a big stretch target, but I knew that if I could hit that I would be in a good place with my blog to build it up in 2021. I’m proud of myself for managing to exceed that. I ended the year with over 2,300 page views and 691 visitors to the site.
Social Media & Email
Generally, I love social media, and I am guilty of spending hours on the platforms. One thing I learned very quickly is that it is really important to show up consistently on social media and interact with other bloggers. The blogging community seems to be supportive so it is just a matter of putting yourself out there.
Here’s my social media and email stats since launching the blog.
- Instagram: 453 Followers
- Facebook: 97 Likes & 117 Followers
- Twitter: 381 Followers
- Pinterest: 49 Followers (632 Monthly Viewers)
- Email Subscribers: 28
Although these numbers are pretty small, the encouraging thing has been that the channels have been slowly growing.
Social Media Top Tips
- Be genuine and authentic
- Support, and interact with other accounts (don’t just post and run)
- Show up online consistently
- Join Blogging Facebook Groups
- Participate in Twitter Share Threads
- Read, share, and comment on other bloggers’ blog posts
- Participate in the monthly It’s a lovely life 10k traffic challenge
I hope this run down of my first three months of blogging is helpful! Before I started my blog I spent a lot of time going down rabbit holes researching, and procrastinated a lot! My final takeaway piece of advice for you, if you are considering starting a blog, is to just start it! Take it step by step, and slowly it will come together. Also, remember that at first you won’t have lots of visitors so it really does not matter if everything is ‘perfect’. The most important thing is just that you get started.
Gemma Lawrence is the creator of This Brits Life. Born and raised in England, she has been living in British Columbia, Canada as a permanent resident since 2016. A solo traveler for the past 9 years, she hopes to inspire and help others to enjoy solo adventures too. As someone who has always struggled with her self-confidence and mental health, she also shares tips and inspirational stories relating to self-love, self-care, and mental health.