5 FREE TOOLS TO HELP YOU MAKE MONEY BLOGGING

Oops!  Sorry about the double email.  I’m working on it.  In the meantime, here’s a recap of how my Oscar night went to tide you over until I get things fixed up.

Blogging is work. It is a LOT of stinkin’ work. Which is hard to convince people of when e ey call you in the middle of the afternoon, ask what you’re doing and your answer is; Making a spider costume out of christmas ornaments and dollar store leggings.  

bad-spider-costume-2

Edgar the Spider

But even though a lot of time it’s ridiculous work it is still work.  As in, things have to get done so that you get paid. If you do not get those things done you will not get paid.  It’s true making a spider costume out of Christmas ornaments and leggings is fun, but it was still work.  The day I did this I HAD to get this costume done, so I’d have a picture for my post.  If I didn’t have a picture for my post the post wouldn’t have been as good, wouldn’t have been read, wouldn’t have been shared and I wouldn’t have made as much money.

For me, and most bloggers, the true icky work in writing a blog is figuring out how to make money from it.

Anyone can start a blog.  Literally anyone.  And almost anyone can make a bit of money from a blog.

But to turn your blog into a business and make it your one and only job? That’s harder.

So when it comes to making money from your blog you have to react fast, stay on top of trends and most importantly …

GET CREATIVE

Making money from a blog doesn’t always mean finding people to pay you.  Sometimes it means going further back than that and analyzing how it is you make money.

Most bloggers make money from ads on their site.  We make a couple of dollars for every 1,000 people that see that ad.

Based on what readers will accept, most ad agencies recommend placing no more than 3 large ads on your site.

So if you can’t add more ads how do you make more money?

Get more people reading your blog and therefore seeing those ads.

If you can double your readership you can double your income.  

These are my 5 favourite apps and plugins for attracting more readers to my site which results in more money.  For me.

#1.  SumoMe

For my first 5 years of blogging I absolutely REFUSED to put a “Subscribe To My Site!” pop up on my blog.  I thought they were annoying and spammy and would make people stop reading my blog. My readership would go down, people would scream, and it would all end with me covered in scabs and living in an organic waste bin. Or even more frightening, working in an office tower again.

Then one day, on the advice of a super-power blogger friend, I cracked.

I installed Sumome and added a pop up to my site.

pop-up

If you’re new to my site this pops up on my page.  You can click to close it or subscribe.  It only shows it to you once every 2 weeks.  You can actually program how often and where you want the pop up shown so it’s totally customizable.

This is what happened after I cracked, went against everything I knew to be true in my world and installed Sumome.

Infographic SumoMe

 

 

Yeah. .  So needless to say I now love my subscriber pop up, love SumoMe and I’m disgusted with myself for not doing it sooner.  I loved it so much I told every blogger I knew who would listen about how great it was.  I’m now a PARTNER with SumoMe.   I am NOT living in a organic waste bin.

If you’re bad at reading graphs, what this means is:

In an entire year when I wasn’t using SumoMe my blog gained a total of 2,169 subscribers.

In an entire year where I was using SumoMe my blog gained a total of 14,213 subscribers.

That’s a 550% increase in subscriptions by using SumoMe.

A year and a half ago I was at around 8,000 subscribers.  I’m now at 26,000 subscribers.  I can count on another 1,200 by the end of next month.  And another 1,400 at the end of the next month and so on and so on and so on.  It’s like compound interest but for blog subscribers.  The more you have the more you get.

And SumoMe is free.  If you’re serious about building your readership, get it.  There isn’t a single app or plugin I recommend more than SumoMe.

Pop ups asking people to subscribe isn’t spammy.  It’s good business sense.

Lesson here?  A blogger I really trust pushed me to get a pop up (specifically SumoMe)  so I finally did and it changed my blogging world.  So I’m doing the same thing for you.  Get it. Seriously.  I’m not screwing around here.

#2 Crowdfire

Crowdfire is another app that a blogger told me about. This time it was Lynne Knowlton from Design the Life You Want to Live.  Crowdfire is a cute little app that helps you build your Twitter and Instagram followers.  A LOT.

I have to make an ammendment because Crowdfire used to be free but now they charge for it.  And it’s not cheap.  The app runs $10 a month to use (American) or $13 a month (Canadian).  BUT, if you put your mind to it Crowdfire will increase your followers by a LOT.  At least 1,000 a week for each account.

What you do is go into the app and then starting building your followers.  You do this using their tools.  Crowdfire lets you copy followers of other blogs similar to yours or their readers or popular hashtags.  So I for instance went into the followers of Apartment Therapy and followed hundreds of their followers.  Then, some of them followed me back.  They’re my target audience and I am their type of blog.  The next day anyone who hasn’t followed you back, you can unfollow.  (That’s the genius of Crowdfire … they keep track of those things).  I plan to use it for a few months to build up 2 audiences that I’ve neglected horribly, Twitter and Instagram.  If it works out well (and it already has, I’ve doubled my followers in both social feeds in one month) then I’ll continue to invest the $13 a month.

3.  AdRotate

This is such a simple thing that a lot of people aren’t using on their blogs.  AdRotate is a plugin that lets you run your own small, self served ads in your sidebar.  I use it to run all of my small square ads for Etsy shops and small businesses that advertise on my site every month. These AREN’T the Google ads. They’re the little ones that you see mentioned every month in my sponsor post.

So AdRotate isn’t getting you more readers, but it makes putting money making ads up on your site really easy.

AdRotate keeps everything organized, makes it really easy to set up a bunch of ads in your sidebar, add the photos, add the links and set when the ads will run.

Most importantly what AdRotate does is it rotates your ads!  So every time you look at the ads in the sidebar they’ll be in a different order.  Sometimes an ad will be on the top row, sometimes an ad will be on the bottom. This gives all of the ads an equal playing field because they’re always rotating around.

AdRotate is free.

4. Evergreen Post Tweeter

Evergreen Post Tweeter is a plugin that randomly selects old blog posts and Tweets them out at regular intervals.  You can set how many new posts you want tweeted in a day (I have 3 I think) and what you’d like the Tweet to say.  You can choose to not include certain old posts (ones that are season specific or based on holidays for example).  LOVE this.  As I mentioned a bit earlier  kind of neglect Twitter, but this app keeps me alive and well in Twitter without having to actually be there.

You set the plugin once to behave how you want and you never have to look at it or deal with it again.

It’s free. 🙂

5.  Hootsuite

Hootsuite is how I schedule when all of my posts will be posted to social media.  Once I write a post, I go into Hootsuite and schedule everything. I schedule when I want the post Tweeted, put onto Facebook and set up reminders to Instagram.

I thought it was a HUGE pain when I first started using it because it’s yet another step to add to my daily blogging routine, but in the end it saves all kinds of hassle!  I never have to worry about forgetting to post my blogs to Facebook or anything else because I have them all prescheduled.  Not forgetting to post means not losing out on readers.

That’s why my posts always appear on Facebook at exactly midnight!  I have it scheduled to appear the very second I publish my posts (which are also scheduled through WordPress).

Hootsuite is free.

Most of these apps and plugins I’ve talked about are free (with the exception of Crowdfire now) but all of them have more advanced versions you can upgrade to.  The only one I’ve upgraded to a pay per use version is SumoMe, and I did that a few months ago because that version allows me to do some really helpful A/B tests with my pop up.  I can compare which designs, colours and what wording gets the most clicks.  A/B testing is the kind of thing I think is ridiculously fun.  But I used the free version for a year before I upgraded.

 

This post ended up being way longer than I meant it to be but I get passionate when I start talking about blogging. And money. And pop ups.

And how I used to be really stupid.

 


61 Comments

  1. Therese says:

    Thanks Karen. You are very generous with your knowledge. Seriously, thanks so much!

  2. Karen Too says:

    You need two more legs, now you’re just an ant! Excellent!

  3. You are so generous with your knowledge—thank you!
    Lise-Lotte

    • Karen says:

      You’re welcome Lise-Lotte! I keep trying to plan another online video course on blogging but haven’t been able to find the time to do it. :/ ~ karen!

  4. Marjorie Kramer says:

    After being inspired by your love of chickens, I bought two chickens and just because of reading this post, I’m inspired to revive my blogging efforts. The chickens live with my daughter, so maybe I can get her to do the blog, too! Hmmm. Seriously, thanks for sharing these insider tips. It seems a little less overwhelming now.

  5. Catherine says:

    I think your generosity and openness about these sorts of things is one of the (many) reasons I so enjoy your blog. I doubt I’ll ever have one of my own. But I do like to learn about the ins and outs regardless.

  6. Cathy says:

    It’s always fun to ‘peek behind the curtain’ of a blogger. As a lifetime clock-puncher ready to retire, I’ve never understood what it takes to be a full time blogger. Now I know more.
    And I know I must get my hiney out the door or I’ll be late; see you on my morning break.
    PS–hope your movie choice got Best in Show.

  7. Eileen says:

    Great information! Thanks so much.

  8. Jody says:

    Who knew. The business of the business of blogging. Also love the names of these businesses especially Sumome.

  9. Amy Boulle says:

    Awesome information! Do you have similar ideas on starting up a webpage? I know you work with someone at this point, but for a first foray into it I need to keep it cheap or free!

    • Rebecca says:

      Great question. I am also curious.

    • Karen says:

      Hi Amy. There are ton of ways to start a blog or webpage now. I have this post on How to start a blog which is fairly in depth, but was written 4 years ago so some of the links might be out of date. The basic premise is the same though. Go to WordPress.com, sign up and start. 🙂 There are a lot of useful tools out there now to design your own page and if you own a Mac it’s really easy. ~ karen!

  10. Rebecca says:

    I live on a farm in a cool area of Michigan. Many of my friends tell me to start a blog. I am not so good at the wording and grammar. So I asked a friend to help. One of the first things she did was hook me up to your site. Great step in the right direction Looking forward to following you. What are the best things we can do as followers to generate pay for you?

    • Karen says:

      Thanks for asking Rebecca, that’s nice of you. Well the first thing you can do is what your friend did. Tell other people about my site. 🙂 Then just support my sponsors, so if you need to buy a present, have a look to see what they have for sale that might be appropriate and if you see an ad on my site that interests you for whatever reason, click on it. That’s it. 🙂 ~ karen!

  11. Jayne says:

    I’ve just started using SumoMe and it does just what you say!

  12. Jenifer says:

    Thanks for the info! You’re posts are always so useful. I pinned this one, too so I can go back to it when I forget the software names. 🙂

    Have a great week!

  13. Liz says:

    Ok so, I have been reading your posts for a few years now, but always ignore the request to subscribe because I don’t need the reminder to visit regularly. Does subscription involve more than that? And would it help/benefit you if a regular subscribed as well?

    • Karen says:

      The benefit for me when you subscribe (basically) is the larger my subscriber list the more clout I have in the industry. So if I’m talking to a large sponsor like Home Depot or Ikea about working with them or doing a sponsored post, they want to know what my subscriber list is. That lets them know what kind of following I have. Or if I write a book, the publisher would look at my number of Facebook fans, Instagram followers and subscribers. In terms of whether you subscribe or whether you just visit the blog dialy, I don’t make money per subscription but the more subscribers you have as a blogger, the greater your value. Make sense? ~ karen!

      • Liz says:

        totally makes sense. I don’t tweet, but do follow you on FB and Instagram. I’ll think twice about ignoring the request to subscribe next time.

      • Shannon says:

        Came here to ask the same question, so thanks for the answer! Also, books would be awesome….

  14. Karin says:

    So here’s my dumb question of the day; do you make more money the more subscribers you have? If so, I’ll totally sign up. Is it like Google says ‘ hey this chica has 20,000 subscribers. We will give her more money.’ ? Or am I accomplishing the same thing by visiting your site almost daily? Whatever helps you out the most but I guess I’m confused about the difference between being a subscriber and just visiting the site.

  15. Nancy says:

    This is all very interesting as a reader with zero desire to blog. I think you have good balance of use with sumo me, I just cancelled 2 blogs I really like to read because every.time. I opened the page I would start reading peacefully and then suddenly I’m startled by this huge flash to subscribe. I scream I already did you mf a;:/ole ( I gave up cussing for Lent) I only see this one every now and then and the photo you chose is so utterly charming and my heart melts about Cuddles so it’s all good. I followed your links and now I must have a deep fryer. (Steamy Kitchen).

  16. Barbara says:

    Karen, many thanks for sharing your tips, tricks and tools! You’ve inspired me to begin a blog. Re: pop-up, your lovely photo with chicken… didn’t even consider it a pop-up rather an invitation.

    Fingers crossed you’ll find time for video course or perhaps a seminar! I’d so travel to attend!

  17. molly says:

    thank you for your generosity. and you totally have enough legs… people miss the fact that your arms are spider legs too. happy leap day! eat some cake — the calories don’t count today! 😉

  18. Monique says:

    I just wrote a draft this weekend..about having posted 1000 posts..well..it will be the 1000th;)
    I love blogging and all the things one can learn and all the nice online relationships..I have met a few and it was a delight each time.
    I worked full time when I started..so I just blog for the fun of it.
    But you advice here is fantastic for anyone who wants more from blogging.
    I find you generous with your ideas..funny..smart..and am glad I found your blog.
    It is work..especially when you do it as well as you do..nothing is missing.
    In fact at a recent dinner with the whole family..I had my son-in-law who has chickens look at your blog/coop:)He was very impressed.I don’t blame him.
    I find blogging keeps one inspired..to make a better dish..take a better photo..read a good book..create something.

  19. Monique says:

    P.S..That picture of you is prize winning.

  20. Awesome advice! Thanks Karen!

  21. Cindy says:

    Wow…Thanks Karen. There is so much out there that a budding blogger can get lost. It’s very cool that a successful blogger such as yourself is around to share the knowledge. I started my blog on wordpress.com and changed it to .org last week. My most recent posts did not transfer and am fixin’ to get them added the old fashioned way as nothing high tech is working for me. It’s very true…readers probably do not realize the amount of time blogging consumes. That’s alright… Thanks again chica! Love, love your life.

  22. Jill says:

    Was wondering if it is too early to start tomato plants. Also, where do you get your heirloom seeds, and do you use a grow light. Thanks in advance, and love your blog!

  23. Gwen H. says:

    Thank you for the information.

  24. Dagmar says:

    Hi Karen,
    if I want to buy something from any of your sponsors, and I have already gone to their sites several times starting from T.A.O.D.T. will my iPad know that you were the one who pointed me their way – even if the next time, I start off at Etsy or Google, for instance?

    • Karen says:

      Hi Dagmar! No it will not. But it depends on where it is you’re going. Etsy keeps track and it’s a bit convoluted but if you went to see a product from my site, then return to that product from somewhere other than my site within 7 days, I’m given credit for it. If you go after 8 days then I am not. Ditto for Amazon. ~ karen!

  25. Kat says:

    Now let me try and get this straight. You gained approx. 20,000 readers by just signing up to SumoMe for free and all they did was give you one pop up subscription ad for your own site every 2 weeks? I just do not understand how a pop up ad can make more difference than the usual subscription box. Also now that you are partners with this company you seem to be working for them now, am I incorrect on this?

    • Karen says:

      Hi Kat! No, I’m not working for SumoMe. They emailed me a couple of weeks ago and asked if I wanted to be a part of their affiliate program and I said OMG yes, I LOVE SumoMe. So I’m a part of their affiliate network the same way I am Etsy, Amazon, etc. And yes. That’s exactly right. I installed SumoMe and within 1 year I gained that many readers. I thought the same way you did obviously. That it would be harmful rather than helpful which is why I didn’t install a “subscribe” pop up for 5 years!! I was very, very wrong. They don’t give you the pop up, they give you access to their site and you design your own from their templates. You decide when you want it to show up on your site, where, you choose your colours, photos etc. Like I said I used the free version for around 9 months and then I upgraded to the pay version because I wanted to do some A/B testing and nerdy stuff which a lot of people wouldn’t care about. ~ karen!

      • Kat says:

        Ok I understand it a bit more now. It is confusing but I think I get it. Do you get to put up a photo on your free version because that actually is smart thinking? Now MailChimp on the other hand is even more confusing when you do not know all those code things that computer nerds do! I got totally lost on their site. When you publish your post do they just zoom in and pick the photo that will go with the excerpt. I just wanted to cry while I was in there. I did end up getting the SumoMe plugin (THANK YOU) and I think I did it correctly but it is the mailchimp that stumped me.

        • Karen says:

          OH, don’t ask me. I think Mailchimp is REALLY user UNFRIENDLY. SumoMe is great. Really easy to use. I just took a free hour long workshop with them today on building your website through a variety of ways (not just by using SumoMe). And yes, you can upload any photo you want, as long as the template you choose has a spot for a photo. ~ karen!

  26. Gillian says:

    <3 thanks!!

    So glad that I found you!

  27. Sandy says:

    I think this was yesterday’s post…OOPS!

  28. I love the layout of your site. It is very easy to navigate. I appreciate the information you are sharing. Thank you

  29. Thanks for sharing!Don’t know that I will ever blog but really good info. I did build a walking desk similar to your design and I love, love it. I walk in the neighborhood and now at the computer…..2-4miles a day….feeling good. 72 is the new__, well anyway, feeling fine!!

    • Karen says:

      LOL! That’s great. The #1 thing for keeping yourself looking and feeling young is keeping your body MOVING! My 80 year old mother who flys around like a lunatic everywhere could pass for 60. Moving and keeping your brain active. Move and think move and think move and think. Glad you like the walking desk! ~ karen!

  30. Lynne says:

    That’s it. Stomps foot. I’m totally going to up my pop up game. Right after I kick myself in the shins for not having done a better job of it sooner. Thanks for the shout out! I’m so loving Crowdfire for twitter. I’m stoked that you are lurvvving it too!

    You go girl!
    Lynne from Design The Life You Want To Live

  31. Melissa says:

    Great tips! I just installed Sumome. I don’t see a photo on the pop-up as an option for the free version. Is your sample above from when you upgraded to Pro version?

    • Karen says:

      Nope, I made my first pop up with a photo with the free version. When you scroll through the pop ups, you have to find ones that have some type of photos on them. Then scroll down to the bottom of the settings and there will be a place you can upload your own photo. (Unless they’ve changed things in the 6 months or so since I’ve had the pay per version) And take your time making a good pop up. Conversion is also WAY higher if you provide something for signing up. Like a free recipe that’s not on your site, or list or tips. 🙂 ~ karen!

      • Melissa says:

        Unfortunately it looks like they changed that feature in the free version 🙁 The only choice for free is Default and it doesn’t include a photo. Darn.

  32. Debbe Van Ness says:

    Question. I don’t have a blog but follow a few favorites. I faithfully follow your blog and signed to be a “follower” ages ago. However, I always just type in the search window of Google and then go from there. Does this negatively change numbers your numbers?

  33. Stephbo says:

    We are just getting into the social media arena today at work, and I was floored by all of the behind the scenes work that goes into it. I sat there thinking, “No wonder Karen says blogging for money is more than a full time job!”

    Thanks for your suggestions. At some point, I’d like to start a little blog, so I’m squirreling away any tidbits I can get.

  34. Alisha says:

    I think this information is useful for both bloggers and those of us folks who are paid to manage social media accounts for other businesses. I do both and think I can easily employ some of these techniques. Might give me more clout as a social media maven! I haven’t blogged in quite a while but I miss it and really want to get back into it – I’m still getting decent traffic even though I’ve gone AWOL. It’s like going to the gym, you have to be committed and motivated and just find the time, not the excuses. I might be more motivated if I were getting paid for it … Thanks for the tips!

  35. I visited a lot of website but I believe this one holds something extra in it.

  36. Great blog you’ve got here.. It?s difficult to find excellent writing like yours these
    days. I seriously appreciate individuals like you!
    Take care!!

  37. Tanya says:

    Awesome advice, Karen! I’ve had my site up for only 3 months now, and trying to get traffic to my site. Thanks so much for sharing.

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