The Ultimate Guide To Creating Your Online Course

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 This is exactly what I was looking for! She covers it all. This is a must read for anyone considering creating an online course. Plus, her Teachable tutorial was super helpful.

UPDATE: Get one month of Teachable Pro for FREE 8/27-29 only! 

Have you taken an online course?
 
I am what you may call an online course junkie. I seriously love taking online courses and it turns out that I love creating them too!
 
Online courses have changed the way people take in information and learn new things. People are looking for a straight path to solve their problems and an online course is a neat little package that can help them reach their goals fast. 
 
You have your own unique experiences and visions that can be shared with people and monetized at the same time. An online course is also a reusable asset since it is an e-product that you can sell over and over again. Once you’ve created it is a resource that can continue to bring in revenue, even when you aren’t working. 
 
The good news is you don’t even have to be an expert at coding, building websites or even on the course topic. You only need to be one step ahead or know 10% more than the next guy!

Plus, due to new tools that have come out in the last few years creating your online course is seriously a breeze.

If you want to check out my full walkthrough of my favorite online course platform check it out here. Click here to check out Teachable! 

If you are new to creating online courses it can seem overwhelming, but I’ve broken it down into nine simple steps to help you create and launch your online course.

Step 1: Decide on what topic you would like to teach in your online course

When figuring out what kind of online course you want to teach, it is best to choose a topic that you feel comfortable with, something that you can use your knowledge and experience in order to create the best e-course possible. 
 
Ask yourself questions like, 

  • “What topic is exciting to me that others would want to learn?” 
  • “What topic is helpful for others?” or 
  • “Is there a demand for this product?” 

It is important that you ask these questions in order to determine if the project is worth the time and effort you will spend on creating it. 
 
Validating your course topic is super important too. Try surveying your audience to see what they are most interested in learning. 

  • Let them choose between a few different course ideas (or if you aren’t ready to announce the course, let them choose between potential opt-ins)
     
  • Presell the course. This is the best way to validate your course idea because you know that your audience is willing to put their money where their mouth is. As you see the pre-sale sales come in, it will keep your motivated and it makes the course creation process so much more enjoyable because you can create with those specific students in mind. 

When it comes to coming up with a topic, the more specific it is, the better. This is to help you stand out amongst others and also create a bond with your audience. 

Step 2: Outlining the content for your online course

This process is where you will brainstorm your course outline. At first, this can be a collection of bulleted lists, questions your audience has asked about the topic, or simply the transformation you want your student to experience. Once you have gotten your ideas out, you can then sort them out to have a clear outline of the order of your content. 
 
Then group your notes into, 

  • Modules 
  • Lessons
  • Bonuses
  • Worksheets
  • Etc.

Make sure you cover everything you need to and that it is clear and easy for people to understand. 

Step 3: Selecting a medium for your online course

This step is all about how you want to deliver your course to your students. This can be done through audio, video, or written content. Depending on your preference and goals, you can pick the right kind of medium for you. 
 
In my courses, I usually do a mix of video and text lessons. I have found this has been the most helpful to my students, but ultimately the choice is yours. It is YOUR course! 

VIDEO

Video is a great way you can teach your course since it combines both visual and written content. You can also have the option to teach on-screen or off-screen. If you are teaching on-screen, you can engage and form that personal connection with your audience. 
 
If you choose to be on screen for your videos try to choose a place with a clean background and natural lighting. 

Creating video content for your course can actually be relatively inexpensive depending on your goals. 

If you are off screen here are the tools I recommend, 

  • Screencast-o-matic - This ultra cheap tool only costs $15 a year and allows you to record your screen. It is a lifesaver for recording “over the shoulder” type video tutorials or slideshow presentations. 
     
  • A Microphone - This isn’t mandatory but it will significantly improve your sound quality. I personally use the Blue Yeti Microphone and love it. If you can’t afford it yet try using iPhone speakers with the built in mic. That will pick up the sound better than your computer's built-in mic.  

If you are on screen there are a few additional resources you may want to purchase, 

  • A higher resolution camera or webcam - To increase your video quality and resolution pick up a camera or a webcam. If you need a higher end camera for other aspects of your business, check out a DSLR like this one, or for a more budget-friendly option, check out this super effective webcam
     
  • A lighting kit - If you don’t have access to an area with natural (window) light (or you have to film at night after the kids are asleep), you may want to invest in a lighting kit or a ring light. These kits will give you just the right lighting balance.

TEXT

Text is the easiest type of content to create, but generally, is perceived as lower value and impersonal, so I don’t recommend that your entire course is text-based. However, this is the easiest option and has no additional expenses.

You can write up your lessons in Microsoft Word, Pages or in a Google Doc and when the lesson is completed you can paste it into your course-hosting platform, easy peasy. 

AUDIO

Using audio as your medium is another option you have. These are like podcasts that you can use to not only educate your audience but also get your personality across.

Good sound equipment like a quality microphone is an asset to have since it can really make a difference and improve your final product. Like I mentioned above, the Blue Yeti Mic is an inexpensive yet good quality option that is a popular one among podcasters. 
 
This a good option if your students have little free time or long commutes since you can make these audio lessons downloadable so they can listen to them anywhere. 

Step 4: Creating Your Online Course

Using programs like Keynote, PowerPoint, or Google Slides, you can create slides out of your content. Create bullet points to guide your students on the important things to remember and you can explain the bulk of it through your audio. 
 
You can come up with a script for when you record your video, or you can just use your bullet points to naturally guide your lesson and to make it feel as authentic as possible. 
 
Depending on how you would like to come across, you can edit your videos as much as you would like. You can do the same with audio files. Screencast-o-matic and many of the other screen recording software have easy edit functions built in.
 
For written content like emails, you can start writing them down on Google Doc and then upload it to your course-hosting platform on when converting it to a PDF. The most important thing to remember is to pick a medium that will be the most beneficial to your students. 

Step 5: Styling your online course

In order to get a professional feel to your course, you need to determine design elements that can work for you and that will truly represent your course or product. 
 
Stick to branding that is similar to what you already have on your site. You can branch out to some extent, but make sure the colors and the design are complementary to the branding that you have on your blog. 

To create your PDF’s you can design them in Word, Canva, Adobe Indesign or even PowerPoint. 
 
For free stock photos, you can use sites like, 

Or for premium stock photos, I like to use Deposit Photo

Step 6: Delivering your online course

When it comes to video and audio files, they need to be hosted somewhere online.

Some options include: 

YouTube

When uploading videos, you can make them “unlisted” which means only the people with the link to the video will know about it. You can use a platform that will allow you to embed the videos so that you will be able to host the video content for free. 
 
Wistia
 
This is another video host that allows you to customize your player and have custom thumbnail images which can give a more modern and high-quality look to your content. Since this is a paid service, you would need to set aside a budget for this. 
 
SoundCloud is great for audio files and it even allows you to customize button colors. 
 
Teachable

 
It is simple to navigate but at the same time, you can do advanced things you can implement.
 
I love the built in affiliate program, co-authors, and user-friendly interface. 
 
Related: Why I chose Teachable to host my online course
 
If you want to take a sneak peak at the back end of Teachable, I’ve put together ten video lessons to walk you through how to get set up.


ConvertKit
 
An ultra important and beneficial feature of ConvertKit is it allows your email subscribers to opt-out of a product launch without totally unsubscribing from your list.  This will help you retain your subscribers that are interested in your other content, but aren't ready to purchase.

They can just click on a link that will allow them to not receive the emails in case that product will not be applicable to them.  
 
ConvertKit can also automatically connect with Teachable so when someone enrolls in your course they can be added to a list. This is a great way to send a follow-up sequence to your new students. 

Related: The Beginners Guide To ConvertKit

Step 7: Creating Bonuses for your online course

In order to improve your online course and make it more appealing, you can put in additional resources like worksheets, PDF downloads, and a course community in order to support the learning experience of your students. 
 
Worksheets or study guides can help them understand each stage of the course and put what they’ve learned into action.

Chat apps like Slack or a course community like a Facebook group can help them get in touch with other people who are also taking the course and share their knowledge and experiences. 
 
Bonuses can be a huge selling item for your course, so try to come up with a few additional resources that will complement your course content. 

Step 8: Marketing your online course

When getting your online course out there, it is important to have a good grasp of who your target audience is. 
 
You can ask questions like, 

  • Who will benefit the most from this course? 
  • What problems will this course solve for them? 
  • Where does your ideal student hangout online?
  • What are their possible hesitations when it comes to buying your course? 

Based on this, you will know where to market your online course. It is important to really focus in on your demographic because a potential customer is much more likely to buy if they feel like this course was created just for them than if it is a broad, blanketed course topic. 
 
If you do not have a marketing budget that is totally okay! You can begin by promoting your course to

  • Your email list
  • On Pinterest
  • Facebook
  • Or guest posting on other sites.

 
You also can reach out to other influencers in your niche and invite them to be an affiliate for your program.
That way you can leverage their audience and they will earn a commission when someone buys through their affiliate link. 
 
If you have a bit of a marketing budget or as you begin to see revenue coming in from your course you can invest in,

  • Facebook Ads
  • Promoted Pins
  • Or sponsorships on other blogs or podcasts etc. 

Step 9: Pricing your online course

Pricing your online course can be a bit tricky, but it is good to do some analyzing and consider the following factors. 
 
Determine your target audience’s financial condition and how much are they willing to spend for your online courses. 

A course targeted at college students is going to need to be a smaller price point than a program targeted at B2B sales executives.
 
You also can compare what similar products are selling for. I recommend starting on the lower end of the price range and then you can increase your prices as you add more content and test the demand for your course. 

Step 10: Launching your online course

A sales page is where your audience will be sent to in order to purchase your course. Make sure you design it in a way that would give them a clear idea of what they can get out of the course and how you can provide them a solution to a current problem or issue they have. 
 
Before officially launching go through your checkout process to ensure there are no errors and that you have a smooth flow for people to pay for your product. There always seem to be tech issues on launch day so try to double check as much as you can ahead of time!
 
Evergreen or Open Close?
 
It is important to also figure out how long you want your course to be available for. There are a lot of opinions about if you should have an evergreen (always available) course or an open and close launch. I personally think it is up to you to try it and see what your audience is receptive to! 
 
If your course is always on sale, people will not feel urgency to purchase your product right away. On the other hand, when someone who needs the course will land on your sales page, they would be able to order now instead of waiting until your next launch.

With an evergreen course, I recommend setting up a sales funnel so you will also be able to earn consistently throughout the year. 
 
Limiting your launch window will make people purchase your product on the spot and creates urgency because they know they won't be able to purchase it again until the next time you open the cart for your course. You can test out these different options and see which ones drive the most sales from your audience.
 
You have something the world needs to learn! You don’t need to be an expert, you just need to be one step ahead of someone. 
 
You’ve got this! Grab your free month of Teachable and get started

How To Find Time To Blog and Homeschool

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I have a confession to make.  I have spent the last two years counting down the days until my five-year-old daughter started kindergarten.

At ages 3-4, she did preschool two days per week from 9 am to 2 pm.  My now-two-year-old son, also napped for two hours every afternoon. Since the kids wake up around 5:30 each morning (I know, I know), they go to bed around 7 pm.

I’ve had a lot of free time to blog during preschool, naps, and after bedtime.  But I was really looking forward to having even more time with one kid at school every day.  Until we moved and our new school only offered full-day kindergarten from 8:20 am to 3:50 pm each day.  With only two 15-minute recesses.

And if she took the bus, she would leave at 7:20 am and return at 4:20 pm. Yes, that’s 9 hours!  That’s how much time my husband spends at work!  Ridiculous, right?

After a lot of thought, soul-searching, research, and prayer, I decided to homeschool my daughter for kindergarten.  Oh, and did I mention that my son has decided to outgrow naps the same week?

Is it wrong of me to be mourning the loss of my free time?!

I knew this decision was going to make it difficult to keep my blog profitable.  I’m a coupon/deals blogger, which means I usually write anywhere from 10-25 deals posts per day, in addition to “evergreen” content on frugal living and lifestyle.

In order to keep my blog alive and competitive, I had to buckle down and become a lot more frugal with my time (no longer just my money!).

Here are some of the things I have learned about how to have a profitable blog while also being a homeschool mom:

Set a Schedule With Breaks

One thing many homeschoolers try to do is avoid having strict schedules.  After all, that tends to be one of the pitfalls of public education. However, what you can do is set a loose schedule that allows for breaks in between!

For example, we typically spend 30-45 minutes each day on math.  However, our schedule shows one hour of math. This gives us a window of time to complete that day’s math without rushing, and then whatever leftover time is free play for the kids and work-time for me!

Sort Your To-Do List

To help make the most of the breaks in between subjects, I have a to-do list that is sorted by time.  Each item is sorted into 5-minute increments; all of the things I want to accomplish are sorted and/or broken down into segments of 5 minutes, 10 minutes, 15 minutes, and 20 minutes.

This allows me to use my time as effectively as possible!  For example, if we complete our math for the day in 35 minutes, then I have 25 minutes to get things done.  I could do a 5-minute project and two 10 minute projects in that time. I don’t waste time thinking, “What can I fit into this time?”

This is also the most helpful if I only have 5 minutes before the next activity.  I can use it productively instead of wasting time, thinking that there’s no way to get anything accomplished.

I also like to keep an ideas list to the side of 1 minute and 3-minute ideas.  These include things like responding to emails, update a Pinterest board description, etc.  These are also things I can do on my phone while sitting in the car at a drive-through (don’t judge!) or even while in the bathroom.

Find Independent Curriculum

I was blogging before I decided to homeschool, so I knew that I was going to be giving up a lot of free time that I had planned on enjoying!  

To that end, I tried to find a curriculum that would allow my kindergartner some independent learning time. (This also fits well with her personality: she doesn’t like to sit and learn directly from me.)

We ended up choosing four different programs!  I wasn’t able to find a curriculum that had everything I wanted for each subject.  Instead, we use a mix-up of Easy Peasy, Time 4 Learning, DiscoveryK12, and Playful Pioneers.  

Each of these has some time that needs to be led by an adult but also includes a lot of time where she independently works on activities and practice.

Supplement With Educational Shows

One way I find some extra time during homeschool hours is by supplementing with educational television shows.  Now, I am kind of a snob when it comes to the TV my kids can watch. PJ Masks? Forget it. Sesame Street? Even that’s pushing its bounds.  I mean real education.

Some of our favorite educational shows are:

  • Curiosity Stream (science, history, social studies – similar to National Geographic shows)
  • Team UmiZoomi (math)

  • Cyberchase (math)

  • Magic School Bus (science)

  • Daniel Tiger (for social skills)

  • Little Pim (foreign language)

  • Schoolhouse Rock (science/social studies)

  • Liberty Kids (history)

  • Super Why (reading)

Make use of Meals, Mornings, Exercise, and Nights

Since my son is no longer napping, the kids sleep in a bit longer now.  (And by sleep in, I mean they now wake up at 6:30 am instead of 5:30 am.) However, I am still waking up at 5:30 am to get in a good hour or so of blogging before the kids get up.

I then bring my laptop to the table while we eat breakfast and lunch (but never dinner).  In between bites, I do a few 5-minute activities.

Probably my most effective time to work is when I’m on the treadmill!

A few years ago for Mother’s Day, Phillip bought me this treadmill shelf attachment (it fits on most treadmills).  I can blog while I walk on the treadmill!  I have a couple of special TV shows, games, and toys the kids are only allowed to use while I exercise.  (This also motivates them to motivate me to stay fit!)

Since our kids go to bed early, I am able to use another hour or so after bedtime in order to wrap up anything time-sensitive that I wasn’t able to accomplish that day.

Change Priorities

One of the biggest things I have had to do with this new way of blogging is to change my priorities.  

Before homeschooling, I was able to blog at my leisure and also spend a lot of good quality time with my children.  With that mindset, it’s easy to tell your children to wait “just one minute” while you finish a thought.

However, now that my primary role is as a teacher, not a blogger or a playmate, I need to adjust the way that I think about my time.  

It's more important for me to use that hour of math as first a quality math lesson and second blogging time.  

Before, I could easily wrap up playtime even if the kids weren’t finished playing with me. Now, I need to make sure the math concept is understood and then I can work on the thought bunny that’s hopping around in my mind.

I still have the same priorities, but they have been rearranged in order of importance in my head.  When I use that approach, my blog seems to do better.

This is similar to an object lesson that I used to teach my students about volume (back when I was a middle school math teacher).

 If you have a jar that you want to fill with rocks and with sand, then you need to put the rocks in first, and the sand will fill in around it.  If you try to put the sand in first, the rocks will sit on top and won’t fill in.

Similarly, the size of my jar has changed.  In the past, the “rocks” (time with my kids) and the “sand” (blogging) had plenty of room in the “jar” (how much time I have each day).  It didn’t matter what order I put them in.

But now, I have more “rocks” (homeschooling) and those have to go in first, otherwise, the sand will take up all the room.  I can only make it work if I put my kiddos first!

Make Time for Yourself

Just listing all of this out is making me tired!  Don’t forget, in all of this busyness and schedules, make sure to write in some time for yourself.  I personally schedule about 30-60 minutes each night before bed that I can read a book, take a bath, do a pedicure….whatever it is that I need to feel like “me.”

This is the time I put away my laptop, put away the lesson plans, and just let myself do whatever it is that I want to do.  It helps keep me sane, and it refreshes me for the next day. It gives me the rejuvenation I need to keep going strong.

We may be moms.  We may be bloggers. But we are also ourselves!  And that side of us needs to be cared for just as much.


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About the author: 

Tiffany is a former math teacher and SAHM who loves finding good deals! She and her husband, Phillip, who is an engineer, work together on The Crazy Shopping Cart. They enjoy spending time with their family, geeking out over sci-fi together, and saving money.

Fall 2018 Guide: What Works Now For Bloggers

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Last month I started a brand new blog for two reasons. 

  1. As a fun passion project

  2. As a case study to help teach you what is working now for new bloggers

If you want to learn more about why I started my second blog you can here.

This month has honestly been a blast as I was transported back to my days as a new blogger. I got giddy the first time more than 10 people were on my site at once and when I made a $.91 sale on Amazon. It was so fun to celebrate these victories with my family as we’d cheer and give a round of high-fives. 

When starting I tried to set reasonable expectations for myself. I’m in the third trimester of a high-risk pregnancy and I knew that I would have to be patient with myself.

But I’ve gotta say even with a middle of the night ER visit and what feels like a million doctors appointments I am super happy with this first month's results! 

In this post, I am going to break down exactly what I did and what is working now for bloggers. 

If you haven’t started a blog yet you can check out my step-by-step guide here. 

Results

Now before I dig into what I did, what I ignored and my recommendations, you probably want to know how things actually went, right? 

Here is a quick recap of the blogs results in its first 30 days: 

Within 30 days my Pinterest account had over half a million monthly viewers. Meaning my pins came up in someone's feed over half a million times! Pretty crazy! 

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The amount that showed on my account at the one month mark was 519.3k monthly viewers, but there is a bit of a delay and usually is about a week behind. 

By the 30 day mark, I’d hit 735.5k monthly viewers. Almost ¾ of a million viewers and increased my impressions by over 2,500%!

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When I shared some of these stats over in my Facebook group Blogging Newbs I was asked a few times, okay so that is great, but how did it result in actual pageviews to my blog? 

In the first 30 days of my blog, I hit just shy of 21,000 page views. Not too shabby! When I started this site it took me about 3 months to hit that number. 

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A few other fun things happened a few days after the 30-day mark. 

On day 33 I received my first product review request. It totally fit within my brand, but I’m not taking it right now because I’m hyper-focused on the type of content I am releasing on the site right now. 

On day 34 I hit 25,000 sessions which meant I could apply for MediaVine! MediaVine is a full-service ad management company. A lot of bloggers when they switch from Google Adsense to Mediavine see an increase of 2-3x in their ad revenue. 

I haven’t chosen to use ads here on Moms Make Cents, but I plan to have that be one of the pieces in Today Mommy’s monetization plan so I am super excited to get to be able to be a part of that network. 

Now that we’ve covered our bases lets jump into what I did. 

Things I totally ignored

Now I don’t want to discredit any of the things I am listing below - but I wanted to show you that you don’t have to do everything to be successful or get traffic. 

Social Media - 

Facebook - 

I did pretty much nothing there...I used Post Planner’s repeat feature to start sharing my new posts on my Facebook page, but that’s it. 

Facebook can be a really important platform - but the reach just isn’t as good as Pinterest (which I will talk more about later!). 

I may dedicate more time to this later, but when you are short on time this is one that I think you can skip in the beginning. 

Twitter - 

This is almost the exact same as with Facebook. I set up posts to loop via Post Planner and then pretty much ignored it. 

I do recommend that you reserve your accounts to make sure that you have the handle/name that you want, but this is definitely something to come back to later. 

Instagram - 

Poor Instagram...I’ve completely ignored it. Not even posted once. I claimed the handle I wanted and then I’ve just let it sit there - but that is okay! Like I said you don’t have to do ALL the things! 

In the future, I plan to dedicate some time to grow my presence on Instagram because I know it is a key factor in collaborating with brands and getting sponsored posts - but right now isn’t the time. 

Email - 

I am a HUGE proponent for email. I have made a lot of my blogging income directly from my email list so it may seem surprising that for now, I’ve skipped it. 

With the site being so new I am waiting to see what my audience is most responsive to before I start creating opt-ins and taking the time to email my list. 

I do know that when I launch my email list for Today Mommy it will be heavily segmented so that I’m sending targeted information to my subscribers. 

Things I focused on

Content  - 

By now you’ve probably heard that content is king in blogging. You need to have high-value content to share with your readers. 

On Today Mommy I aimed to have longer posts on my site. The shortest posts are around 800-900 words while I have a couple posts that are over 2,000 words. 

Having super helpful, in-depth posts results in more shares and engagement. 

I also wanted multiple pieces that I could promote right off the bat. I launched the blog with 10 posts and then continued posting three times a week on a Monday, Wednesday, Friday schedule. While I don’t plan on keeping up on that forever, my goal has been to get to 50 posts as quickly as I can. 

At this rate that puts me at 50 posts right around the end of September/early October when baby #2 is due. 

Pinterest

Pinterest these days is favoring NEW pins. This can be pins for new blog posts, new graphics for old posts, or even old graphics with new descriptions. 

I created a TON of pins so that I would have lots of “fresh” content to share. When I launched I created three pins per post. 

I created some Pinterest graphic templates in Canva to speed up the creation process and went about my merry way :) 

Now a couple of weeks in I started playing around with some new pin styles to see what would perform the best. Two of the three original Pinterest graphic templates I have now stopped using because they didn’t seem to take off as well as the other one + the new pins I was creating. 

That is why testing is so important! Analyze what is working and what is not and then make improvements! 

Group Boards

Now I’ve been hearing a lot of chatter about group boards. Are they dead? Should we leave them? How are we going to get traffic now? 

I wanted to use this as an opportunity to test it out myself and see what is really working now - even with a brand new account. 

This Pinterest account I started from scratch literally 0 followers, 0 pins, 0 boards. 

Before applying to group boards I made sure that I had a professional looking profile. I added my headshot, a bio, boards with thoughtful descriptions, high-quality pins, etc. 

I also didn’t apply for the group boards until the day that my blog actually launched, because who would want to add a blogger that has no content on their site? A lot of group board owners will want to look at your site so they can evaluate your quality to see if it matches that of the board. 

However, before I launched there were still things I could do to prepare.

I put together a big spreadsheet of all of the group boards that I wanted to request to join. By the time I launched, I had at least 100 group boards on the list. Then on launch day, I set out sending emails and Pinterest messages requesting to join. 

I recommend creating a long list of group boards because not everyone will add you and that is okay!

Some people only add contributors once a month, some have let the group board go in-active, or some may just feel you aren’t a good fit. Don’t take it personally! Just keep looking for new groups to join! 

Group Boards vs. Personal Boards

There has been a lot of talk about favoring personal boards over group boards. In my experience, I’ve still gotten great results from a lot of the group boards that I’ve joined as long as they are niche specific. 

For example: A group board that is focused on pregnancy called Pregnancy Tips For Moms is going to get a lot more action than a general board like “Pin Your Best Posts.” For me, the reach on those generic has been pretty dismal and is probably not worth it. 

Personal boards are super important right now too! You want to create targeted niche personal boards with highly relevant pins and board descriptions. 

Three out of five of my top boards on my profile in the first 30 days were my PERSONAL boards. Only two of them were group boards - even though those group boards had thousands more followers than my tiny new account. Don’t ignore your personal boards. 

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Tailwind

For this site, I’ve been doing about 90% of my pinning with Tailwind with a little bit of manual pinning mixed in there and it has been working great. 

I love using Tailwind to schedule my pins super fast via Board Lists and using their analytics to see what is working on my account. 

You can get a free trial of Tailwind here. 

I also have a whole other post that explains how to get started with Tailwind if you are new and need some insights on how to navigate the platform. 

Check out: How To Use Tailwind To Skyrocket Your Traffic. 

Tailwind Tribes

Another area of Tailwind that I’ve been diving into is tribes. These function sort of like group boards in that a bunch of collaborators come together and share their pins.

However, when you share to a tribe it doesn’t automatically share to everyone's followers. People can pick and choose which pins they want to pin. 

Most of the tribes I’ve been a part of have a rule where for every 1 of your pins you share you need to share someone else's. This is an awesome way for you to get your content in front of a new audience. 

As a Tailwind user, you be a part of five tribes and share up to 30 pins per month. If you want to join more tribes or share more pins you can purchase a power-up starting at about $5 a month. 

Click here to grab your free trial of Tailwind & Tailwind Tribes. 

Using tribes was crucial for me getting some shares from bigger bloggers in that niche early on. 

To find tribes to join. Go to the “Tribes” button on the left-hand side of the screen and then “Find A Tribe.” From there you can either search for a keyword or select a certain category. 

From there, some tribes are open for you to join and others you will need to request access to join. If you want to leave a tribe later to join another you can totally do that too - so don’t worry about committing to a tribe early on! 

Do Followers Matter?

This is another Pinterest question that I am asked all of the time - and the answer is...it depends. 

It seems like Pinterest keeps changing its mind about followers. For a while, it was pretty easy to gain followers and a lot of your traffic was dependent on your followers. Then they changed things up and it got harder to get followers and it was more Pinterest SEO focused.

Now it seems like they have settled somewhere in between. 

Recently Pinterest came out with a “Following” tab where users can go to ONLY see content from accounts/boards that they follow. 

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This is not the primary feed that they see, but they can click over to that tab and view just the pins from the people they follow. Pinterest is all about user experience so they want to give them that option! 

To help grow your followers you can use a plugin like Milotree that encourages blog viewers to follow your Pinterest account. 

Now don’t worry if you are a brand new blogger with a tiny new account! There is still hope for you. It’s called Pinterest SEO. 

Pinterest SEO

In this post I cover 7 ways to improve your Pinterest SEO, but here is the gist of it. 

SEO stands for Search Engine Optimization and Pinterest works like a search engine. You need to add relevant keywords and terms to your boards, pins, and descriptions so Pinterest can understand what your pin is about and show it to the right people. 

The biggest thing to remember is KEYWORDS! 

Think of a few keywords that are relevant to your post that you would want to come up for in Pinterest’s search. Then take those words and make sure they are in the name of your blog post, your Pinterest description, and even better if they are in the name of the board you pin your pin to + in its board description. 

Always pin your pins to the most relevant board first. Usually, this is going to be one of your personal boards first. 

So for example, if I was pinning my pin about natural ways to induce labor I would pin it first to my board Labor & Delivery Tips. From there I would probably pin it to my Pregnancy Tips board and to a few other relevant boards before scheduling it via Tailwind to my niche group boards. 

This helps tell Pinterest early on that it is related to Labor & Delivery and Pregnancy. Then hopefully as other pinners pin it they will pin it to other similarly keyworded boards to strengthen that keyword to Pinterest. 

Helpful Resources

Getting started can be overwhelming, but here are some resources to help ease the process! 

Courses: 

Mom Blogging Mentor Ebook: This is my 170+ page ebook that walks you through the steps of how to effectively start your blog. Everything from choosing your niche, setting up your theme, monetization and more! 

 

Mom Blogging Mentor Ebook + Course: If you want a little more guidance grab the ebook + course bundle! You will get the ebook + the course that has over 40 lessons, bonuses, and worksheets. This is the most affordable in-depth option out there! 

 

Pin to Profits: My five-course bundle goes way in-depth with over 80 lessons, worksheets, and bonuses that will teach you how to effectively grow your traffic income and subscribers.

This is so much more than a Pinterest course. You'll also learn about affiliate marketing, building successful email funnels, and how to scale your business (& income!)! 

Tools: 

Canva: Canva is a free graphic editing software that I use to create my Pinterest graphics. They have free stock photos, tons of font choices, and you can save your templates to go back to later. 

PicMonkey: I have used PicMonkey for almost 7 years now! They are another great photo editing tool that has a few more photo editing capabilities than Canva.

You can check out PicMonkey here. 

Tailwind: I’d seriously be lost without Tailwind. I can literally schedule a pin to all of my relevant group boards in less than 30 seconds. It is a huge timesaver and a must-have resource for anyone that wants to grow on Pinterest.

You can get a free trial of Tailwind here. 

Post Planner: This is a lifesaver when it comes to keeping fresh content on the other social platforms while you focus on Pinterest. They have super affordable plans starting at less than $10 a month. Their content recycling feature is worth that alone! 

Milotree: If want a way to increase your Pinterest followers check out the Milotree app. You also can use this to grow your email subscribers and followers on different social platforms. 

JQuery Plugin: Make sure that you have a “Pin it” or “Save it” button on your website so it is easy for your readers to share. The one that I use is called JQuery and it is free! 

SiteGround: If you haven’t started your blog yet, but want to or if your site is running slow (which can tank your traffic) definitely check out SiteGround. I am using their hosting to run my Today Mommy site and I have been super impressed.

Click here to check out SiteGround or here to view a tutorial on how to set up your hosting. 

Phew! I think that is a new record for the longest post ever here on Moms Make Cents! I hope it was helpful to you and answered your questions about what is working for new bloggers right now. 

If you enjoyed this post please share! 

 
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How To Write A Book (Even If You're A Busy Mom)

 10 Simple Steps To Writing Your First Book - Even As A Busy Mom! 

Shortly after I found out I was pregnant with our second child, I set this crazy goal to publish a book—before the baby was born.

Those pregnant hormones can make us do some pretty crazy things.

I was a work-from-home mama with a 1.5-year old at home hustling during nap time and bedtime doing freelance writing, editing, and virtual assistant work to contribute to our family financially.

At the time, I was doing some VA work for a book marketing blog and learned a little bit about how to self-publish a book. While I liked the work I was doing, it was something that was paying the bills… but it wasn’t something I was passionate about or eager to do every day.

I knew I needed to do my own thing that excited me too.

So how does one go from ordinary work-at-home mom to published author (even if you’re pregnant)?

Here are the steps:

 

STEP 1.  BELIEVE YOU HAVE SOMETHING VALUABLE TO OFFER

This was a massive mindset shift for me. However, when I realized friends, family, and co-workers were shocked that I’d paid off all my student loans in just a couple of years on a teacher’s salary and curious to know how I did it, I found my first book topic.

I let go of the self-doubt and believed I had something valuable to offer. Now I truly believe EVERYONE has a worthwhile book idea in them that no one else can share.

STEP 2.  SCHEDULE A TIME TO WORK ON YOUR BOOK EVERY DAY

From researching to outlining, from writing to marketing, there are many steps to write a book. Scheduling a time in my day when I’d have the best chance of uninterrupted time was crucial.

For me, this was usually 5:00 – 7:00 AM before my husband left for work. My husband took care of our daughter during this time (she’s always been an early riser), so I could focus on work.

This was absolutely crucial because working at home with a baby is no easy feat. Checking emails, sure, that can be done with kids around, but writing a book with a crying little one tugging at your leg was not happening in my house.  Shout out to my husband!

STEP 3.  SET GOALS AND DEADLINES

  1. Without a deadline, writing a book can easily become a 10-year project. My goal was to complete all the steps to publish my book before Baby #2 came.
  2. Determine how many words you want your book to be. Many nonfiction eBooks are 25,000-30,000 words, while a standard novel is 60,000-80,000 words. My target was 25,000-30,000 words.
  3. Set a daily word count goal. A page is 250-300 words, so your goal doesn’t have to be huge. Setting a realistic goal for me was 1,000 words per day.  This meant I would take no more than 30 days to write my first draft.

STEP 4.  START WRITING

Next was serious “butt in chair time” for the actual book writing. I wrote a messy first draft. I researched the best book writing software to make the job easier because for me, writing an entire book in Word was a pain.

I invested in the book writing software Scrivener, which was incredibly handy when I had to go back and reorganize my entire book…three times.

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STEP 5.  GIVE BOOK TO BETA READERS

Getting early feedback from readers can be critical to making sure you’re on the right path to a great book. Let a few trusted friends, family, or editors give you honest feedback about your work.

You can even find beta readers on Goodreads to find people who are readers of your specific genre or topic.

STEP 6. REVISE, REVISE, REVISE

Next was finalizing the title of my book (With the title Pay Your Student Loans Fast, I didn’t leave much for the imagination. Instead, I stuck with something I knew people wanted a solution for.

Revising took quite me longer than expected, so it was good I finished writing faster than anticipated so I didn’t get behind schedule.

STEP 7. HIRE AN EDITOR

Next up is investing in a book editor. An editor can give you professional feedback on your book. They can look at the overall structure, your writing style, as well as spot grammar mistakes and sneaky typos.

Editing may require several rounds to make a book an enjoyable read and as close to error-free as possible.

STEP 8. FORMAT YOUR BOOK

There are two methods for formatting your book: DIY or hire. This will make sure the spacing, indents, and everything else look great for both eBooks and print books.

While the frugalness in me wanted to DIY, this was one of those things I opted to hire a pro to do especially since I decided to offer paperback books as well as eBooks using a print-on-demand service called CreateSpace.

STEP 9. DESIGN AN EYE-CATCHING BOOK COVER

A book cover is super, super important for catching the eyes of people browsing for their next book online. My cover took several rounds of going back and forth, but in the end, I was very happy with what my designer created:

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STEP 10. LAUNCH AND PUBLISH!

Believe it or not, my due date was July 16. It was crunch time trying to get all the final steps taken care of. When July 16 came and there was no sign of baby, I decided that was the day to publish.

So the final step was uploading my book files to the sites that sell books like Amazon, iTunes, and Banes & Noble.

Here’s my first copy I got in the mail…along with my 9-month pregnant belly

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And after all that, I became a published author. Hearing from readers whose lives I’ve touched through my book is completely humbling and amazing. Plus, having a published book is a source of passive income now that all of the hard work was done up front.

The best part of the whole thing, however, was the book to my then 2-year-old daughter. She saw the picture of me on the back and said, “Mama, that’s you!

She is an absolute book-lover, so it felt incredible to tell her just like so-and-so wrote that book, Mama wrote this book.

If you’ve thought about writing a book and you’re looking for another stream of income, publishing a book is an option we don’t hear about often.

Whether freelance, blogging, or writing a book, writing is a flexible and creative skill that moms can use to make money while helping thousands of people for years to come.


About the Author

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Val Breit spends most of her days trying to keep her two little minions out of the toilet and from harassing their dog. She’s a nap and bedtime hustler who could talk all day about ways to pay off debt and earn money at home. Check out her latest shenanigans at TheCommonCentsClub.com.

5 Things I Did Differently When I Started My Second Blog

This post may contain affiliate links

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Okay, so in full-disclosure Moms Make Cents wasn’t my first blog... It was probably more like my 5th. So this post probably should say 5 things I did differently when I started my SIXTH blog, but it just doesn't have the same ring to it 😉 

I’ve been blogging since 2012, but Moms Make Cents is the first blog I went into with some semblance of strategy so in this post we will compare Moms Make Cents which launched in June 2016 and Today Mommy which recently launched in June 2018.

Hopefully, this post will give you some insights on what I’ve learned over the last two years and some important things you can do to launch your blog!

1. More posts -

Moms Make Cents -

When I launched Moms Make Cents I started with five blog posts. Some bloggers start with just one post and then hit publish. However, I knew I wanted at least a few pieces that I could promote - so I started with five. The five posts were roughly in the categories I thought I wanted to cover on my blog.

Today Mommy -

With Today Mommy I started with 10 posts. My goal was actually 20 posts - but then I decided I wanted to launch it on Moms Make Cents’ 2nd birthday so I moved my deadline up. With these 10 posts, I had a few pieces of content in the main categories I would cover on my site.

This was important because then in my related posts at the bottom of each post there was something relevant to link to. This also helped because right off the bat I could interlink between posts.

Many new bloggers have a super high bounce rate because they don’t have enough related content yet.

For new bloggers, I would recommend launching with AT LEAST 5-10 posts. 20 is even better!

2. On Wordpress not Squarespace

Moms Make Cents -

I’m kind of ashamed to admit this, but Moms Make Cents is hosted on SquareSpace. (gasp!)

A really popular blogger I was following when I started MMC was singing the praises of SquareSpace so I went along with it against my better judgment.

About six months into running the blog I realized I’d made a huge mistake. There was limited functionality it didn’t integrate with certain tools I wanted to use and the PLUGINS! All I wanted were sweet WordPress plugins.

I’ve looked into having the site moved over to WordPress multiple times, but I’ve chickened out.  I’ve been told it is going to mess with my SEO and I have a post that ranks super high and brings in a ton of revenue for me and I haven’t been willing to risk losing that traffic yet.

Today Mommy -

Yep, you guessed it I am over on WordPress and loving it. I have had other sites on WordPress before so I knew the basics and grabbed the GoGeek plan from SiteGround for web hosting.

For a full tutorial on how to start your blog with SiteGround click here.

I would say set up wise it probably took me one extra day on WordPress compared to SquareSpace to get the site set up how I wanted it but it is definitely worth the customization and scalability for the future.

I opted to go with the Captivating theme from Restored 316 designs. This is a child theme on the Genesis framework.

3. Multiple graphics per post

Moms Make Cents -

When I started I created one Pinterest graphic per post (eventually I worked up to 2-3 graphics) and promoted it like crazy. This worked relatively well, and I ended up with just shy of 5,000 pageviews in my first month of the blog.

However, I could have done much better and had a lot more content to promote right off the bat if I’d created multiple pins per post.

Today Mommy -

With Today Mommy I immediately created three Pinterest graphics per post. With 10 posts when I launched that gave me 30 images I could promote. I’ve also been experimenting with a couple more Pinterest graphic formats and my goal is to have at least five pins per post, eventually.

To speed up my graphics process I created Pinterest graphic templates in Canva. You can follow this tutorial for how to make a Pinterest graphic on Canva.

4. SEO

Moms Make Cents -

I’ll admit it...I’m a Pinterest blogger. For Moms Make Cents I have had the majority of my traffic come from Pinterest. Which is great and has worked really well, but I’ve been leaving pageviews on the table.

I have a few posts that rank pretty well for SEO, but mostly that was by accident 🙈. When I started Moms Make Cents, I was a busy mom with a one-year-old, simultaneously running 2 other businesses and I didn’t have time to learn SEO when I was already confident in Pinterest - so I focused on my strengths.

Today Mommy -

SEO will definitely be a big part of my strategy this go around. Although it is a newer blog and will probably take a few months to see any results from my efforts, I’m setting up a solid foundation now.

I’ve been geeking out doing keyword research and found that it is a ton of fun! I’ll put together a post soon on my favorite free SEO tools for bloggers and how to use them, but here is a couple you can check out now!

5. Had more distinct categories

Moms Make Cents -

When I started Moms Make Cents my original goal was to help empower women to understand their finances and help them earn more and save more so they could stay at home with their babies.

I had started three profitable businesses before this site and I would get tons of questions about how other moms could do that so I thought I would share my tips!

I also have a degree in Financial Planning and wanted to share tips about that too - although that category got pushed to the back burner as I fell increasingly in love with talking about online entrepreneurship.

Overall, I knew what I wanted to cover, but I had trouble tying it all together and making sure I had blog posts relevant to the same audience.

To this day one of my most popular posts is How To Pay For College When You Have No Money - but it doesn’t go with much of the other content on my site so my bounce rate for that post is super high.

Today Mommy -

With Today Mommy I have more direction with my posts and think about how everything with flow together ahead of time.

Right now there are three primary categories,

Pregnancy: Where I cover all things pregnancy like morning sickness remedies and how to sleep while pregnant.

Parenting: Where I cover parenting and baby tips like how to transition from crib to a toddler bed.

Money: This category covers all things money related. Right now I have a few posts about how to save money like this post on how to save money on groceries, but eventually, I want to add in content about making money from home too.

That will be a good opportunity for me to link back to Moms Make Cents since I have lots of posts on that topic.

I will add other relevant content/categories to the site as it develops (like I totally want a section for #momlife), but for now, that is what I am going with.

I honestly forgot how exhilarating it can be to launch a new blog!  It has been so fun over the last couple of weeks to login to Google Analytics and watch my pageviews creep up and get giddy when there are actual human beings reading my blog posts.

What would you go back and do differently if you were re-launching your blog?