Find Your Blogging Niche ● Starting a Blog Tip

In honor of all of our new Blogging to Win students joining the course this season, I'm doing a 6-day video series with a quick blogging tip each day! So, from November 16-21, 2017 (while we'll be accepting new students) I will be coming out with just a short video to give you a fun blogging or business tip. 

How to Find a Niche for Your Blog 

Finding a blog niche is one of the things that a lot of my students get overwhelmed with. They know they have to choose the perfect niche. They want to choose the perfect niche. They just have a really hard time doing it! So I have a nifty tip for you...

My tip is to not choose your niche before you start writing but to choose it afterward. I find that it's a lot easier to identify whether or not you will want to stay in a particular category for the long run when you're in the process of writing about it.

And when you're thinking of whether or not it's something you can write about for the long-term, don't just think a year in the future. Instead, think five or ten years the future. You never know where the blogging journey is going to take you!

Here's my process for getting started...

Make a list of the categories you are interested in and then actually start writing about them. I know it might seem counterproductive at first because you'll feel like you're wasting time writing blog posts about categories you'll eventually drop in the future. 

But here's the logic behind my madness: Once you actually go through the process of writing about a particular category, you can more easily identify whether or not it's something you want to do for the long term. So if you feel stuck and you just.can't.decide which niche you should choose, just start writing! Trust me, it helps. 

And don't be overwhelmed with finding the perfect niche, friend. Just get in the process of writing and the decision will naturally come to you after that.

Blogger & Vlogger Travel List Essentials

MY BLOGGER TRAVEL ESSENTIALS 

Even bloggers and vloggers need to know what to pack when traveling! I've got a simple travel checklist if you need to do a little work on the go. Here are my blogger and vlogger (since I do both) travel essentials! 

This post contains affiliate links. You can read more in my Disclaimer here, but girl don't worry. I only recommend things I really love or use. 

1. This Canon Camera

My first vlogger essential is my handy-dandy camera. I will be vlogging a little bit during this trip so I can keep the blog and my YouTube channel up and running. This will be the easiest way for me to do that. Click the photo above to see the exact model I use.

I also just use the lens kit that comes alone with it. I won't bring anything too fancy because I will be on a road trip with my child and we don't know what kind of chaos there will be!

2. This Joby Tripod

To make the filming a little easier, I will be bringing my tripod. The usual tripod I use to film YouTube videos is too tall so I highly recommend the Joby Gorillapod with the ball head! It's incredibly sturdy and I never feel like my camera is just going to pop off.

3. My External Hard Drive

The next thing I'll be bringing is my external hard drive. I have a ton of projects I'm working on but I (unfortunately) have a MacBook Air as my laptop. If you have one too then you also know it has nearly zero storage. Ugh. 

4. SD Card Reader and Notebook

I'll also be bringing my SD card reader because I'll be editing my videos on my laptop, as well as this notebook. This exact notebook is my everything! It has all of my checklists and strategies that I'm currently putting into action.

5. Headphones and Batteries

I will also be bringing a pair of headphones so that I can edit while Hubby is driving. There's nothing more irritating than having to listen to someone else edit a video. Ha! 

Then I'll also have some extra batteries for my Rode VideoMic Pro, which is the microphone that I highly recommend if you want to connect it to a DSLR camera.

6. SD Cards

Recently I went to the store and picked up a 64GB SD card. I usually only have one with me but it's starting to get to the point where I just run out storage because I film so often, so I'll be bringing some extra SD cards with me as well!

7. YouTube and Blogging Schedules

I'm also bringing my YouTube and Blogging Business Club filming schedules. Typically I would just keep the schedule online but obviously, we will be traveling a lot and hotel WIFI isn't really dependable.

7. Upwork and Google Drive Apps

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The last must-have travel list essentials are actually apps on my iPhone. I refuse to depend on WIFI because you never know when it's going to be a strong connection. 

I have a lot of different projects on Upwork and the app is exactly how I stay connected with my virtual assistant and tech guy. In addition to that, I also desperately need Google Drive because a lot of the documents and the files they need are located on there. 

That's going to wrap it up for this blog post! Do you use any of these essentials?

I love seeing travel essentials for a normal vacation but we all know that we bloggers are bringing special equipment too.

Let me know what your favorite item was and what you bring on your travels!

Even bloggers and vloggers need to know what to pack when traveling! I've got a simple travel checklist if you need to do a little work on the go. Here are my blogger and vlogger (since I do both) travel essentials!

WANT MY SECRETS FOR A PROFITABLE BLOG?

Join my FREE BLOGGING COURSE! It comes with a totally awesome 29-page workbook that'll help you build a mastermind plan, keep track of your goals, and more.

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$7,800/Month Blogging ● The Special Income & Expenses Report of My Blogging Milestone

Have you ever wondered, “How much money do bloggers make?” Well, I have such a special blogging income and expenses report to share this month!

My business hit a huge milestone in August 2017 with over $7,800 in monthly revenue and to celebrate, I’m sharing details about my “make money blogging” journey. I'll be talking about what I did right, what I did wrong, and what this means for the future of AllisonLindstrom.com!

I wish we could sit down and pour through every detail of the past two years together but that blog post would never end! Instead, I'll be hitting all the high notes of what I think really made the biggest impact. This will hopefully give you a picture of the behind-the-scenes perspective and help you with your own blogging business journey.

I MADE A DEAL WITH MY HUSBAND...

When I started what is now AllisonLindstrom.com back in March 2015, my husband and I had made a deal. We agreed that if the blog was not generating a full-time income by the time our son James (he wasn't even 12 months at the time) started his Pre-K3 classes, then I would put the blog to rest and I would go back to work outside our home.

We agreed that if the blog was not generating a full-time income by the time our son James (he wasn’t even 12 months at the time) started his Pre-K3 classes, then I would put the blog to rest and I would go back to work outside our home.

WELL...James started his Pre-K classes last week and I am thrilled to say that not only is the blog generating a full-time income but it's far exceeding what I imagined it would do!

Hooray! I get to keep blogging!

There are so many emotions I'm going through with this milestone. The fact that my son is already starting his Pre-K3 classes has me happy/sad/emotional/excited. But I'm also over-the-moon-thrilled as it coincides with this wonderful business milestone and the fact that I can continue doing what I love while also financially supporting my family. 

A Big Thank You First

Before I dive into the details, I just want to say THANK YOU. Thank you to anyone who has ever supported, subscribed, purchased any of my products, visited my website, or supported my business in any other way! You’re the reason I made my first $200 blogging and why I get to continue to be a work-at-home mom.

And before we go any further, I also want to point out that this income report is not about bragging or anything nasty like that. 

When I started my own blog, I enjoyed reading other bloggers' income reports because I felt like they gave me great insight as to where the money was coming from and what those bloggers were working on to make that sort of income. It was incredibly helpful and this is my way of giving back and hopefully giving you some insights that might help. 

More Work = More Income

Okay so let's talk about money...

The nature of my blogging business in particular is that I have a lot of different products that go through product launches and re-launches throughout the year. Sales will vary a bit every single month.

Life certainly isn’t like the jobs I used to have where I got the exact same amount every 2 weeks (sometimes I miss my librarian days...). Income will fluctuate throughout the year, which is great because the harder I work, the more money I can potentially make. 

Some of the links below are affiliate links. You can read my Disclaimer for more info. 

With all that in mind, I’m ready to spill the details now:

Income - August 2017

Total income: $7,895.95


Expenses – August 2017

  • VPS Hosting: $29.99
  • Payment and Landing Page Software: $66.00
  • ConvertKit: $129.00
  • Social Media Schedulers: $30.00
  • Adobe Premiere Pro: $32.46
  • Freelance Team: $75.00
  • Plugin Software: $75.00

TOTAL EXPENSES: $439.10


Wait. Don't You Have Freelance Income?

You’ll notice that I don't have freelance writing or virtual assistant work listed as income streams. This is because I quit offering freelance work back in 2016. There was too much "trading time for dollars" and I’ll go into more detail about that down below.

*Note: This was the best path for me but I have ZERO judgement if your experience/path is different. Always go with your gut, even if it's not what I suggest here in this post. You know what's best for your own situation. :)

Do You See the Common Theme Here?

It doesn’t look like I have very many income sources because I only listed three. But I offer multiple products, partner with many affiliate programs, and have two sources of ad revenue (my site and my YouTube channel).

Do you see the theme here? DIVERSIFY! Diversify your streams of income because every little penny will add up. I talked about this in my post about what really makes a successful, sustaining, less-risky blogging business. 

DIVERSIFY! Diversify your streams of income because every little penny will add up.

ARE EXPENSES THE SAME EACH MONTH?

Monthly expenses are not fixed to what I’ve listed here. I actually never have the same amount of expenses month-to-month.

For example, some of the stuff I use for the business is on a yearly subscription (i.e. the many domains I have registered). Fortunately, I almost never have more than one yearly subscription expire in the same month. That would be a bummer!

The typical range I see in expenses every month for the ongoing maintenance and functioning of all of my websites is between $350 to $500. I normally stay within this range unless I have to buy software or a new piece of equipment (like a new microphone or camera).

The typical range I see in expenses every month for the ongoing maintenance and functioning of all of my websites is between $350 to $500.

For instance, August 2017 expenses were only $439.10, but June 2017 expenses were over $1,300.00 because I had purchased a lot of expensive equipment. This is a very rare occurrence as most of what I use to run the blog is online software that is subscription or one-time purchase based. 

WHAT ABOUT Taxes, INSURANCE, Etc.??

You’ll notice that I didn’t list taxes or retirement expenses but this is something I actually take into consideration privately and just didn't list here (I doubt anyone reading this is interested in my retirement plan #snooze). Lucky for me, I don’t have to deduct costs for health insurance because I’m married and on my husband’s insurance, so that isn’t something I have to worry about.

Your tax rates will likely be different from mine and will be based on what country you live in, whether or not you live in a state with no income tax (yaaaaay, Texas!), federal tax rates, etc. 

So I don’t get to bring home the whole $7,895.95 of income as I still have subtract taxes and retirement in addition to the expenses I had this month.

What Worked For Me

Now that we’ve gone over the main details, I thought it would be helpful to share some of the actionable steps I took to grow my blog. These may not be all the things I feel I did right over the last 5 years but these are the ones that really stick out.

1. I spent the majority of 2016 preparing for a passive income business for 2017, as well as creating products that I hoped would eventually add up to this income flow.

I made the hardcore decision in 2016 that I would not be offering any type of freelance work anymore. Who knows if I'll ever change my mind, but right now this looks like it's going to stick. (I go into more detail about the whole freelance gig down below in #3.)

So I bit the bullet in 2016 and said, "This has to end so that I can move onto more passive income streams."

This was an incredibly tough decision because (naturally) my income dropped for a little bit. But I focused on the big picture and just kept looking forward to what I really wanted in terms of income streams for 2017.

I constantly reminded myself:

"I want passive income to be a larger percentage of my yearly revenue." 

"I want to have more control over my schedule instead of living by the deadlines of my clients." 

"Right now, I can only earn as much money as my time allows to take on clients. This needs to change."

"I want to build a blogging business with multiple active streams of passive income."

"I want to spend more time with my family without the stress of missing out on freelance work."

I focused on making 2016 the year of creating products and only creating passive income streams. I stuck with this path even though it was a gamble and that consistency has now more than paid off. *sigh of relief*

2. I created very specific income and content goals.

I have never said to myself, "You know, I really just want to make a full-time income." I have always had actual income figure goals written down and 2016-2017 planning was no exception.

As I wrote down goals like, "earn $2,000/month by XYZ," it was easier to identify how many products I needed to sell, what the prices of those products needed to be, and how many email subscribers I needed. Those are the kind of detailed plans that I made back in 2016 and I just kept sticking with it and trying to tackle as many as I possibly could.

3. I RESISTED THE URGE TO PICK UP FREELANCE CLIENTS AGAIN.

This freelance thing is worth mentioning twice in this post because I feel like it was an integral part in the eventual growth of my business.

If you didn’t know this already, I ran my own freelance business as a writer and Virtual Assistant before I started blogging. But I knew it wasn't my "forever" job because I hated that I was always trading time for dollars. And I also knew that the closer we got to James going to school, the more I would want flexibility with my schedule. 

I felt like a crazy person letting go of consistent, dependent income. But there just weren't enough hours in the day to both create products, prepare a passive income stream for 2017, and continue working for clients.

It was a tough decision and I was this.close. to giving into a few clients who asked if I'd be willing to work part-time, but it was absolutely the right thing to do to focus on my own products and move on from that chapter in my business.

4. I kept treating every single month like this was my last chance.

James didn’t start Pre-K3 classes until this fall (August 2017) but I treated every month of the year like it was already August 2017!

I would hustle hustle hustle and placing a timeline over my head just put a fire under my own bootie! I would try to learn as much as I could, be strategic and savvy to the best of my ability, and would just wake up early and push through my tasks as hard as I possibly could.

I knew that my schedule was just going to change as James got older (hello, soccer practice schedules) and I wanted my business to be prepared with passive income before it got harder.

MISTAKES I'VE MADE

Now that I’ve covered the things I did right, I think it helps to talk about things I did wrong too...and trust me when I say there’s been many hiccups along the way. But it really helps to learn from other people’s mistakes so I’ll willingly share mine!

Here are the main things that really hurt me in the past year or so:

1. I stuck with freelancing for too long.

Yeah, let's talk about the freelancing thing again.

I feel like I kept hanging onto my freelance projects because of the fear that I wasn’t going to be successful with just passive income. 

Passive income of over $100/month is one thing but that wasn’t really ever my goal. I wanted to push myself to surpass my wildest expectations, which was closer to a couple thousand dollars per month.

I let that fear hold me back and it’s one of my biggest business regrets.

2. I started my blog with too many categories.

I was writing about everything and anything under the sun when I started this blog. Yeah, sure we've all got to figure our true passions out when we start blogging. But I wish I'd gone through the process a bit faster. 

When I finally narrowed down my niche, I lost the fan-base I had already built around the categories I was retiring.

This isn't a massive mistake but it's one of those main "shoulda coulda woulda" moments for me. 

3. I made the switch from an http site to an https site...with no professional help.

This mistake had an impact on my traffic partially into this year. I did not bring in SEO experts or even consult with anyone before I made the switch from HTTP to HTTPS. I failed to consider the impact it was going to make on my traffic or on the "SEO juice" I had built up, if you will.

I'm sure you've seen this article from Forbes or other articles like it. As Chrome makes it more apparent to readers whether or not they're on a secure sight, I felt the pressure to just jump in and switch from HTTP to HTTPS since I'm a product-selling blogger. 

I did a little research before making the switch but I was also building the Blogging Business Club website at the same time, so the HTTPS project kind of took a back seat to everything else. Big mistake.

I know that the move to HTTPS will help with rankings over a period of time and that my stumble is only temporary but it still bothered me. 

I should've just hired someone to handle it since I didn't have enough time on my hands and that brings me to my next mistake...

4. I hesitated hiring people because I wanted to continue doing everything myself.

I have such a special blogging income and expenses report to share this month! My business hit a huge milestone this August with over $7,800 in monthly revenue and to celebrate, I’m sharing details about “make money blogging” journey, what I did right, what I did wrong, and what this means for the future of AllisonLindstrom.com!  ● $7,800/month Blogging ● The Special Income & Expenses Report of My Blogging Milestone ● My Make Money Blogging Journey

You guys have seen my favorite ways to save money as a blogger so you already know that I’m a very frugal person. But I became so focused on keeping pennies in my bank account, I was slow to bring on the team that I needed.

I was also partially stuck in thinking, “Well, I’m not big enough to hire an assistant so why even bother?” But the problem with that thinking was yes, I was big enough and I was quickly drowning in the blogging workload.

If you are feeling overwhelmed and your blog is starting to generate income, re-invest that money in a team or software to help you run things. You need help to get you to that next level because you can’t do everything on your own.

So there you have it, my big milestone and the details of what I did right and wrong. I hope you found it helpful. And if you’re really serious about creating a blogging business and looking for more helpful advice you can join the Blogging Business Club here or you can join my blogging course for women who want to run a blogging business here.

With very specific goals, focus and strong determination as well as the right tools and the help of a great team you can surely get your blogging business to start working for you. And if you need help, I’ve got tons of advice and tips here on my blog and my YouTube channel.

Thanks again for reading and supporting my blog, you guys!

Vlog ● AdThrive Helps Community After Hurricane Harvey

Today I’m sharing a special vlog! As many of you know, I live in a suburb of Houston and so many of our communities have been devastated by the cruel effects of Hurricane Harvey. AdThrive is an ad company I work with and they reached out to me, hoping to find a way we could coordinate a plan to help the victims of the massive flooding seen in Houston. This is what happened…

Help the victims of Hurricane Harvey here
Learn more about AdThrive here!

*THIS VIDEO IS NOT SPONSORED. I WAS NOT COMPENSATED IN ANY WAY, SHAPE, OR FORM TO WORK ON THIS PROJECT AND I WOULDN’T ACCEPT A DIME, REGARDLESS. THANK YOU TO ADTHRIVE FOR THEIR GENEROUS DONATION FOR SUPPLIES!