Back to Blogging {The Next Level}

I have had this blog since 2013, and I had a Blogspot site before that. However, I have only recently taken the steps to make this space something that others would want to enjoy. It has been only a few months since I decided to get serious about blogging and actively look for ways to reach more viewers and perhaps get into monetizing.

When I first became interested in blogging again, I posted Back to Blogging {A Basic Starter Kit}, and now it’s time for The Next Level!

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Spread the Word

I love my blogging Facebook groups. Some are only for sharing your posts and requesting others to pin your Pinterest pins. Others are for advice and encouragement and random questions. It helps to have someone in your same niche or someone with more experience to guide in the blogging process.

Here are a few of my favorites (you may have to request to join):

Social Media Scheduling

I work more than 40 hours a week at my day job. I do not need the additional stress of posting to Facebook and Pinterest at the ideal times. And that’s why scheduling was invented.

I highly recommend Tailwind. As I am still getting the hang of it, I cannot provide a full review, but I have loved everything it has done so far.By the way, if you sign up with my referral link through the month of February, you will receive $30 off! (That’s roughly two months free.) If you are reading this after February 28th, don’t panic, you can still use the link to receive $15 off… http://twapp.it/i/deannalexis?

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And who could resist a cute pun?

Office Supplies

When we were looking for a place to rent right before we got married, I prayed that we would have a third bedroom or even some kind of space that we could turn into an office. I was incredibly surprised when we happened upon a three bedroom house – the third bedroom was the perfect size for our little office.

 

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This is a page from my planner, downloaded from Building a Framework.

It’s no wonder I love crafting and office supplies. Keeping my blog planner accessible and neat requires a binder and a variety of pens so I can color-coordinate it. Okay, just kidding. I bought the Sharpie pens because they were cute, but my attempts at color-coordinating have fallen by the wayside. I do use very handy binders, though! Avery is my favorite brand of 3 ring binder.

 

As I develop as a blogger, I will be sharing more and more ideas and tips.
Why don’t you share yours? What tools do YOU use to grow your blog? Share your methods in the comments!

3 Ways We Make a Little Extra Income

With a wedding behind us, student loan payments now, and a family in the future, the husband and I are looking for ways to save money, make money, and spend less. This post is part four of a four-part series on living frugally. See the previous posts in this series here: 6 Things We Just Don’t Buy, 4 Things We DO Buy, and 4 Things I’d Like to Stop Buying.

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{This post may contain affiliate and referral links. I only recommend products I use and love. Please see my policies page for more information.}

The number one way to save money is to buy less, with the exception of buying items in bulk. However, what really helps is making a little more money here and there. Here are our favorite ways to do just that.

A Second Job

As teachers who don’t yet have kids of our own, we work over 40 hours during the week, but we are off on weekends, school breaks, and summertime. In order to make a little extra spending money, we take jobs during those times. My husband has refereed soccer games since he was in high school, and he can make over $100 in one weekend. Since he chooses the games he wants to work, he still has time with me and time to go to church. In addition, we are both planning to get part-time jobs this upcoming summer.

The trick is matching your skills with what people need: Do you have experience with children? Do you have medical experience? Could you get lifeguard certification? Have you ever worked in an office? Are you good with numbers? Can you write, proofread, design, or draw? One of the reasons we have experience in various fields is that we often volunteered in those fields first, and then we have experience to list on a job application. What extra time do you have? Could you work another job during that time?

Reverse Couponing

I love clipping coupons as much as the next frugal gal, but apps that work with a click are are a ton easier than stacking and cutting over and over again. Also, if I’m going to buy it anyway, I might as well get cash back for it, right?

I love Ibotta and highly recommend it. Click here to use my Ibotta referral link on your smartphone or computer and you’ll get $10 when you redeem your first rebate. I have earned $146 in the last two years and it comes straight to my checking account via apps like Dwolla and Venmo. You could earn more money much faster if you have a larger family for which to shop.

Other apps I have used and recommend include Checkout 51 and Receipt Hog. Receipt Hog is great because, by scanning your receipts, you can earn enough “coins” to redeem for an Amazon giftcard. It costs you absolutely nothing beside the items you were already going to purchase.

Sell the Things You Make

Everyone has heard of the highly popular Etsy, where you can sell anything from vintage finds to handmade decor to ebooks. I like to think I am crafty, but I know I’m not ready to sell anything on Etsy.

I do, however, sell teaching materials. I have made over $100 selling materials that I have written and used as a teacher. It is so nice to use what I have already made for a second purpose, and it feels great helping fellow teachers. Do you have any experience with teacher materials, kid-friendly graphic design, computer programs like Photoshop, or homeschool curriculum? Sign up here with my referral link to open your own store. Teachers Pay Teachers has two options: one where you pay nothing upfront (but a portion of your sales goes back to them) and a second option where you pay a fee upfront and then a much smaller percentage (if any, depending on the situation) is taken out of your sales.

Bonus: Blogging!

As I am relatively new to the blogging world and extremely new to efforts to monetize my blog, I have not yet made any actual income from my blog. It is my hope to be able to afford to buy a few years of self-hosting in advance, and that is the goal I am working towards. So many resources have been helpful to me on this quest, but one that truly stands out is the newly updated Building a Framework ebook, videos, and workbook from Just a Girl and Her Blog. I absolutely love the ideas, suggestions, and resources, and I appreciate everything I have learned. As I develop as a blogger, I hope to share more and more about the money I have made from this venture.

How do YOU make a little extra income?

{This post was last updated on 3/13/2017}

Back to Blogging {A Basic Starter Kit}

As we welcome a new year, you may have goals to get back into blogging (like I did!), blog more often or increase your reach, or even start a blog for the first time!  I have compiled a list of basic, simple, easy necessities for you and me as we dive back into blogging together.

This post may contain affiliate links. If so, I may receive a small commission if you choose to make a purchase at one of those links. As I am in the process of getting enough money together to be able to purchase my domain name and hosting for several years, your purchase really helps.

First things first… Content. It really is king. My goal for this blog is to engage and encourage young (and not-so-young!) women with practical advice, spiritual nourishment, and relevant content. I find my ideas from my own experiences and circumstances, as well as what God has been putting on my heart. I love BibleGateway for my faith-based posts.

After content, the other elements of blogging must be learned, but they aren’t quite as challenging as you’d think. These four guides can help us master the additional elements:

  • I love this free printable blog planner from A Virtuous Woman. It is so colorful and has many different printables as well as unique calendar tracking pages. Her Blog Post Planner page is one of my favorites.
  • This gorgeous and free blog planner from Jennifer Dawn is so pretty in pink. I love the Accounting page and the To Do page. Print as many as you need!
  • If you’re looking for a blog strategy planner, this guide with applicable questions from Create If Writing is spot-on! I’m looking forward to using this one in the upcoming future as I get my blog off the ground.
  • Building a Framework is an ebook and a collection of blog binder printables for new and established bloggers alike, and I cannot recommend it enough!  It was written by Abby of Just a Girl and Her Blog who has grown her blog into a full-time business, so she really knows her stuff. The ebook contains a list with descriptions of the ten essential pieces your blog needs, examples of good content, an entire section devoted to how to take good-quality photos and make nice graphics, several chapters about how to use various forms of social media, and tons of legal ideas I never would have thought of. I highly recommend it! This is the ebook that got me back into blogging.

Blogs are not novels… They need pictures! I use stock photos from the free website Pixabay for most of my images. I also like Negative Space and Minimography. The resources at PicMonkey are very handy for editing photos, adding text, etc. I also love Canva, and I especially love that it has an app for when I’m on the go. Attractive and inexpensive graphics are not hard to find or make.

Last, but not least… hardware. I love my Logitech wireless optical mouse. It has a cute chevron pattern and is much better than the limited trackpad on my laptop. This mouse has lasted longer than any other wireless mouse I’ve used.

When I’m not taking notes in my blog planner or on my iPhone, I’m sketching out ideas in my spiral-bound notebook. My absolute favorite is this teal notebook with gold polka-dots from greenroom. Unfortunately, Greenroom Co. products are only available at Target. Do you see another Target run in your future, perhaps?

Maybe you’re a more established blogger. What advice do you have for me and fellow “new” bloggers? I also recommend Jump into Monday’s more exhaustive list if you’re ready for the next step.

Finally, while we’re talking about blogging, why don’t we connect in the social media sphere? Follow me on Facebook and Pinterest!