These are the most frequently asked questions I get about writing, blogging, marketing and running a business. Do you have a question that’s not on this page? Send it to me and I’ll gladly answer!
1. I want to start a blog. What site should I use?
I use WordPress for all my blogs and websites, and that’s what I recommend. There’s a free version, and it’s very easy to navigate. There are other sites that are free that work well too. The following sites make it easy to start a blog without technical HTML skills:
2. What pages do I need to have on my blog?
The great thing about blogging is you can do whatever you want. But I recommend having at least the following content:
- Home page (Many people use their home page as the place where their blogs show up. I do — check it out there.)
- Blog posts
- About me
- Contact — email, phone, social media
3. What should I write about?
Anything you want! Of course that sounds easier said than done. But the beauty of a blog is you can write about whatever you want since it’s YOUR blog! If you’re still stuck on topics, subscribe to my mailing list and I’ll send you a list of blog writing prompts.
4. How often should I post?
Again, it’s up to you! But if you’re trying to really gain a following and you want your content found through search engines, I recommend publishing one post per week. But if you want to write more or less than that, that’s certainly up to you!
5. How do I keep track of blog post ideas?
I have a running list of ideas in a notebook and in my phone. I also encourage writers to create a content calendar, which is essentially a plan for when you are going to publish posts. You can use a paper or electronic calendar for this. All you need to do is write in the dates you’ll be blogging and the topics.
6. How do I promote my blog posts so people read them?
You’ve written all this great content, but how do you get people reading it? Social media is your friend. Once you’ve published a blog post, tell the world about it by posting it to Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, and even Pinterest if it’s visual. You can also send an email to your friends and family with a link to your latest post and ask them to subscribe.
Photography and Visuals
1. I’m not a good photographer. Where do I find free photographs for my blog?
Visual images like photography are key to getting people to read your blog posts. Luckily there are a lot of websites that allow you to download photos for free. Here’s an article I wrote about great photo sources, and here are a few sites to check out:
Remember to give credit to the original photographer with a link back to where you found it when you use a photo!
2. Speaking of photography, how can I create graphics and collages with photos?
I use Picmonkey for my work. Canva is also a great tool.
1. I want to write articles for sites other than my blog. Where do I start to build a portfolio?
If you’re new and want to get pieces published quickly and establish a portfolio, here are four great places to start. Additionally, here are five sites that allow you to create an account and post work with little or no editorial delays.
2. What resources are available for me to learn more about publishing outside my blog?
I HIGHLY recommend combing through Beyond Your Blog. While the site is not currently active and producing new content, there is a TON of great articles about publishing beyond your blog, as well as podcasts and interviews with editors about what they want from prospective writers. The Write Life is another useful site for information about publishing, writing and the business of writing.
3. What sites pay for stories?
Many websites pay for articles; it’s just a matter of how much. Some sites pay as low as $25 per story, and larger, more well-known publications may pay $150. Again, I recommend reading through the Beyond Your Blog list of publications. She very graciously notes which sites pay.
4. Can I really make a living writing articles?
It really depends on your financial goal. You can earn money from publishing several articles on different sites. That being said, you likely won’t be able to sustain yourself financially if you’re only publishing $50/article stories. Your best strategy is to find a few sites that will allow you to write for them regularly, and then find supplemental income. That may be a part-time or full-time job that is writing-focused, or doing freelance client work that pays much more than $25 stories.
1. How important is it to build your email list?
Having an email list of subscribers is helpful for many reasons. First, it lets your subscribers know when you have a new post to read. Second, it’s helpful to send them information that may be important. For example, when I started conducting blogging workshops, I sent all my subscribers information about the event so they can sign up. Third, having a list is important when you want to show a business or publisher that you have a following. You don’t need thousands of subscribers, but it’s a great way to know who your fans are, and to be able to market to them.
2. How do I create a mailing list and get subscribers?
There are so many free programs that allow you to capture email subscribers, many of them are free to start. I use Mailchimp. Constant Contact is another user-friendly system. Both of these can integrate into your blog or website so you can prompt people to subscribe and they’ll be automatically put into your database.
3. How do I figure out what to do to market my business? I don’t have tons of money to hire someone.
Check out DIY Marketers, which is a fantastic site that has every marketing topic available. And it’s designed for small business owners and entrepreneurs who don’t have big marketing budgets.
1. How do you stay distraction free when you work remotely?
I’m somewhat rare in that I’m pretty disciplined about sitting at my computer and getting my work done, and I don’t get easily distracted by household chores like laundry. However, I know most people are not like that. And that’s okay. You can still be productive working remotely using time management techniques and programs.
Social media and email can be a big distractor (that’s where I can get tripped up if I go down those rabbit holes). So I close out all my social media windows (farewell Facebook) and my email when I’m writing on deadline. That helps a lot in keeping the electronic distractions at bay. There are also apps and programs that you can configure to set limits on your own screentime to make sure you stay on task.
2. How do you manage your time working remotely?
I always end each work day with a list of what I need to do tomorrow. Then I put those items on my Google calendar (or to do list) and I number them in the order I will process each task. I’ve learned it’s best to limit the number of items to four or fewer (unless they’re simple tasks) to ensure your success.
I also have a master task list that I track all my projects and ideas. And I schedule every task and project on my Google calendar so I can “schedule and forget it.” Say I need to write an article for a local magazine. What I do is: 1) schedule any interviews that need to happen; 2) note the due date on my calendar; and 3) schedule on my calendar the day I will write the piece.
I also schedule blocks of time for projects and tasks. I’m NOT a morning person, so I need some “warm up” time to ease into productivity. I typically start each day with checking emails (and responding to emails that can be completed within a minute); reviewing Facebook, Twitter, Instagram and LinkedIn; and reading short articles. I also check my QuickBooks in the morning.
Note that this is what works for me. And my way is not going to be the same for everyone. Gretchen Rubin’s “Better Than Before” book was super helpful to see how different people respond to habits and tasks differently, and how to create a life that works for you.
3. How do you track your expenses and bill clients?
I do all my invoicing of clients in QuickBooks. It’s also linked to my bank accounts so I can classify all my expenses (e.g. auto-fuel, office supplies, books, travel, networking events/workshops, etc.) as they happen. This is super helpful when it’s time to do taxes. QuickBooks takes a little bit of time to set up in the beginning, but it’s very easy and makes running a business simple and saves time (which means it gives you more time to earn money). You can also run a simple profit/loss report, which tells you exactly how much you’ve made and what your expenses are at any given time.
To track my mileage, I use the MileIQ app. It detects all your drives and then at the end of the day, you swipe left or right to classify each trip as personal or business. Then at tax time, you can download a report at the end of each month or year showing your total mileage. So easy! The app costs $59.99 per year, but keep in mind, it’s a tax-deductible expense. (FYI, that MileIQ link is an affiliate link, which means I get a few bucks off my MileIQ yearly payment if you sign up.)
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