How to start a blog from Six Sisters' Stuff




So you want to start blogging?  Where do you start?  This is a VERY common feeling with beginner bloggers.  It can feel overwhelming when it comes to blogging. There's so many things you need to learn, consider, and do to get started.  No worries!  The Six Sisters' taught this beginning blogging class where they go through step by step what you need to do and decide when you start blogging.  I'm going to go through the first 5 steps.   

1. Just start
Sometimes this is the hardest part of all is to take that first plunge.  To help direct you ask yourself these four questions

  • What do you want to blog about?
  • What are you an expert in?
  • What makes you unique?
  • What are you passionate about?
2. Pick a niche
By picking a niche this can do two things: picking a very specific niche can limit your audience but create a more loyal following or by broadening your niche can help reach a larger variety of people.  For an example, the Sisters' have always been passionate about food and food that is delicious and easy to prepare for busy families.  Food is a very large niche because everyone needs food to survive.  So their niche has a broad audience.  Another example is if you really like cats and making cat dresses, this is a very specific niche with not as big of an audience, BUT you can develop of very loyal following.  

3. Blogger vs. Wordpress
This is an important decision and when you decide which one to go with, make sure you do all the research you can about which one is best for YOU.  Here's some pros and cons of each:

Blogger
  • Free to start
  • User friendly
  • Fewer server problems
  • Automatically geotags to posts
  • Great way for beginners
Wordpress
  • Increased traffic
  • More plugins available
  • Complex coding
  • Complicated interface
  • Many forums and communities for help
  • Have to pay for monthly hosting fees, Wordpress template, and or design
4. Choose a domain name 
Buy a domain name from sites like GoDaddy.com even if using Blogger, this is like $18 a year.  This brings credibility to your site and allows you to monetize on Google AdSense.  Pick a name that is brandable and easy to remember.  Make sure to check to make sure the domain name you want for your blog isn't taken already.  Your domain name should be catchy, easy to remember and unique.  

5. Set up your social media  
This is your most powerful form of marketing your blog.  One thing I don't recommend is signing up with a new social media platform just because everyone is doing it.  It's smart to start out small and slowly build.  You will get burned out if you sign up for every social media platform and try to manage them all.  You will hate your life.  Try one, and if you don't get much interaction, try a different one.  Give it some time before you decide to retire that social media platform.  Before choosing which social media sites to use, you need to ask yourself these questions: 
  • How are you going to manage them? Managing social media takes up A LOT of time and energy.  There's several programs and free sites you can use to help you manage your social media.  I recommend Hootsuite for Twitter and Google +, for Facebook I recommend using the scheduling feature on Facebook, Statigram is great for Instagram (you cannot schedule posts, just see your analytics), and for Pinterest Viral Tag is life changing.   
  • How much time do you have to devote to each every week?  You will find yourself spending more time managing your blog and social media then actually doing projects and writing for your blog, to avoid this you need to make sure you schedule an amount of time you will dedicate to your social media by either scheduling your posts, responding back to your followers, and finding new people to follow.    
  • What accounts do you want readers to interact with you on?  It's smart to think through what the purpose of having each social media platform. For an example, Facebook is going to be used for branding my blog and for building a loyal community of followers, Instagram is going to be a glimpse of my personal life, Twitter is going to be used to connect with other bloggers and companies, Google+ is going to be used for finding new followers and sharing content, and Pinterest is going to be used for sharing personal posts and other blogger posts.  
  • What social media sites will your target audience be using most frequently?  You won't know this right off the bat, it might take a while as your blog matures.  One good way to find out is to take note which social media platforms receive the most interaction, likes, comments, and shares.  If you find you're getting a lot more interaction on Instagram, then you should devote more of your time on there then the others.  
The Sisters' have a TON more information on how to get started, but to listen and view their slideshow presentation, go here to purchase all of the audio and video recordings of the 2014 Build Your Blog Conference!

Written by Courtney Killpack.  Courtney is the social media manager for the Six Sisters' Stuff annual Build Your Blog Conference and their recipe sharing website My Recipe Magic.  She also blogs with her two redheaded sisters on their lifestyle blog called Fry Sauce and Grits.  Between blogging, being a mom and a wife, she enjoys being active, writing about bras, anything Jane Austen, designing eclectic interior spaces, and eating cookie butter. 

Ad Stacking and working with Ad Media




The Six Sisters' dad, Larry and Ingrid and Katie from Taste of Home taught this really informative class on ad stacking and how to work with ad media.  Having media ads on your blog is a great way to earn money, and something to take seriously because it can be a great source of revenue for your business.

The first thing that the panel recommends you do is to learn how to build more traffic to your site by doing the following:

-Have a RSS feed
-Have an email newsletter
-Post regularly
-Write awesome content

One really important thing to consider is the amount of ads you have on your blog.  Taste of Home recommends to have no more than two ads above the fold and 2-3 ads below the fold.  Doing more can more your site look really cluttered.

What do advertisers look for when looking for advertising on blogs?  They look for ENGAGEMENT!  This measured by how many pageviews your visitors visit and how long they stay on your blog.  The higher the number these two things are on your analytics, the better.  You can find this information on your Google Analytics.

Larry talked about a really genius way of how to grab advertisers attention is to mention them on your blog.  For example, Larry talked about how on My Recipe Magic they changed the word flour to Pillsbury Flour on all of their site and because of this, Pillsbury found My Recipe Magic using their name througout their blog and came knocking at their door as being one of their biggest advertisers on their site!

You want your ads to match your content, this will create a higher click through rate and therefore more ad revenue.  Mobile devices accounts for 30% of all traffic to blogs these days.  So it's important to make sure you utilize this by having ads shown on your site through media devices.

What is CPM and eCPM?  CPM is the amount you're paid per thousand page views and eCPM is your effective or overall CPM, depending on how many ads that ad provider is filling.  So let's pretend your ad provider only filled 50% of your ads, the eCPM is going to tell you the CPM for those ads filled.

The next thing to know is how to stack your ads.  Larry didn't go into this in great detail, but here's the article that goes more in depth on how the "Waterfall" effect works.  

The best way to make money with ads is to have direct ads on your site, this is when companies want to buy a certain amount of ads directly on your blog.

The key is to find media companies who want to work with you when you stack your ads.  You can have several ad companies bidding for your ads, the more the better because you'll be able to make more money off of your ads.

To learn more about how to work with ad media and some great pointers on how to make more money with your ads, make sure to purchase the video to this class and the rest of the classes from the 2014 Build Your Blog Conference here.

Written by Courtney Killpack.  Courtney is the social media manager for the Six Sisters' Stuff annual Build Your Blog Conference and their recipe sharing website My Recipe Magic.  She also blogs with her two redheaded sisters at their lifestyle blog called Fry Sauce and Grits.  Between blogging, being a mom and a wife, she enjoys being active, writing about bras, anything Jane Austen, designing eclectic interior spaces, and eating cookie butter. 

The Business of Blogging from the Six Sisters' Dad




You've started your blog, you get the hang of things, you're growing, and a very good perk to that is you start making money, isn't that amazing?!  As soon as you start making money from your blog you realize not only do you have to write, take pictures, be an editor, a creator, you have to be a business woman/man.

 Larry, the father of the Six Sisters' is the unseen force behind their highly successful blog.  He's his daughters business manager so the girls can focus on what they love and that is blogging and creating good content.  In this class he talks about the several things bloggers need to be doing to make sure they don't get penalized and things to consider when your blog turns into a business.

Create a business
The first thing Larry suggests is to make your blog a business.  If you're going to report your income on your taxes, which is the LAW, you need to make it official by getting a local business licence, a LLC, S-Corp, or a C-Corp.  This will protect you in the long run if anyone decides to sue you, ouch.

Keep accounts separate
You want to make sure to set up a separate bank account for your business.  It is required by the IRS to have all business transactions and personal transactions separate, especially if you're going to file deductions on your taxes from your business.  Plus, this will make your life so much easier when it comes to accounting and bookkeeping purposes.

Buy Less or Make More
When you have a business, the same applies when you have a personal budget.  You need to stay within your means and budget.  Let's say you make $1000 a month from your blog and you want to go to a costly blog conference that will cost you $1,400.  You either need to make more, or save, or not go.  You want to make sure you're not going in the red, this is the number one cause of businesses that fail is due to going into debt.

Always save 30%
When you start your own business, it's a great and wonderful feeling, but you need to realize that no one will be paying your state and federal taxes, you will.   Dun, dun, dun!!  The rule of thumb is that you need to save 30% of your income for taxes.  Yep, 30%!  So if you make $1,000 a month, you need to save at least $300 of that.  Larry recommends you talk to an accountant where he/she can help you to schedule your tax payments throughout the year.  Beware that the federal government requires business owners to pay their taxes quarterly.  So every four months you need to send a check to the IRS.  If you don't do this you will be penalized a hefty fee at the end of the year when you file your taxes.  State taxes are due at the end of the year.

There's many more things Larry talks about this class that are REALLY important and crucial when it comes to turning your blog into a business.  To watch the entire class or to purchase all of the audio and video recordings from the classes, go here.

Written by Courtney Killpack.  Courtney is the social media manager for the Six Sisters' Stuff annual Build Your Blog Conference and their recipe sharing website My Recipe Magic.  She also blogs with her two redheaded sisters at their lifestyle blog called Fry Sauce and Grits.  Between blogging, being a mom and a wife, she enjoys being active, writing about bras, anything Jane Austen, designing eclectic interior spaces, and eating cookie butter.