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I was just looking for a way to self-publish a book. Blogging wasn’t even on my radar.
It was January 2018 and I was glad for the change in the calendar. A fresh start.
2017 was a year where a lot of “life” happened. A lot. The kind of “life” that has people calling to check to see if you and your family are okay. And in January 2018 we were not okay. (We are okay now, and even though the pain was tremendous, we’re grateful because God was looking out for us. It just didn’t feel like it at the time. We didn’t feel blessed. We felt like Job.)
I haven’t worked outside the home in years. One of the several Job-things was our youngest leaving the nest. That may not seem huge, and at the beginning, I wondered what everyone was making a fuss about. Our son didn’t die. He just went to college. I had underestimated what a life-change being an empty-nester is after being Mom for over 20 years.
So here I am in January, tired of sitting and crocheting and cleaning stuff (again) and running everything over in my mind for the millionth time being miserable. I had a plan to write a book after the kids were grown and it was time to put that plan in action.
Building a Framework
Book publishing has changed since I worked in the industry in the 90s. I was doing my homework to decide how to approach this book-writing project when I came across a pin on Pinterest for Building a Framework: The Ultimate Blogging Handbook by Abby Lawson of Just a Girl and Her Blog.
I like reading blogs but didn’t have the first clue how to create one. The idea intrigued me. I could create a blog and sell my future books there. Then I could keep control of my publications and most of the profits from the sales rather than hand control and a percentage of the profits to Amazon through Kindle Direct Publishing.
Hmmm…I’m interested. But I don’t know a dang thing about making a website. I use my laptop and phone for checking the news, texting and online shopping. That’s it. I don’t even have a social media presence. But Building a Framework says I can “Launch a Blog that Thrives” and Abby Lawson just looks like the sweetest person ever.
I go to Just a Girl and Her Blog and look around. It’s a great blog! It’s easy to read, easy to navigate, pretty, and best of all the articles are helpful. Abby and her husband Donnie even provide their blog’s financial statements to back up the claim in Building a Framework that yes, you can “launch a blog that thrives.”
People Actually Blog for a Living?
I was blown away. I had no idea it’s possible to make an actual living out of blogging. And this young couple is doing it while raising two little boys. Blogging is looking more and more like a great fit for me with my writing, graphic design and photography background. It also looks like fun and a great business. I’m getting excited. I can get back into publishing, write my book(s) and still live in rural Iowa. 🙂
I show the Lawson’s blog’s financial statements to my husband. He’s intrigued and wants to visit with our accountant before committing to anything like a blog. In the meantime, I purchase Building a Framework and start on the 65 written and video lessons. Even if I decide blogging isn’t for me, I may learn some valuable skills for $97.
That’s MUCH cheaper and much more convenient than taking a website building class at the local community college.
Building a Framework is THOROUGH
Abby Lawson is a teacher by training and it shows in the lessons in Building a Framework. They are very well organized, very clear, and very detailed. Abby approaches her lessons assuming the person using Building a Framework knows nothing about starting a blog.
I started by just reading and watching the videos in each of the lessons before I acted on anything. I wanted to know what I was getting into by considering blogging. By the end of the final lesson, I’m convinced I can do this blogging thing. The tech part will be the hardest part for me. Abby’s husband Donnie does a great job walking you through each part of setting up the blog step-by-step with videos you can play and pause as you follow along in the creation process.
How Loving the Home Life was Born
The Domain Name
With Building a Framework, I learned each step in the blog creation process. I started with using Hover to find a name for my blog. At Hover, you can search the availability of domain names and what it costs if the one you like is available. I thought I was going to have to pay over $2,000 for one domain name I really liked because that was the price listed.
Thank goodness I learned about “domain squatting” before paying that ridiculous amount. “Domain squatting” is when someone buys up domain names that are very popular and holds them “ransom” for an exorbitant amount of money. You should never pay more than $15-$20 a year for a name for your website.
I would like to see “domain squatting” addressed in Building a Framework. I knew so little about creating a website that I almost fell for the scam. No matter what kind of website you’re building, don’t fall for paying the ransom for a domain name.
If you have an idea for a blog or website, go ahead and purchase the domain name you like if it’s available even if you know you won’t begin working on it for a while. It only costs $20 or less per year. In the future, if you choose not to use it, just don’t renew it or sell it for a fair market price.
But if you do choose to use it, it’s nice to already have the name you want before someone else gets it. I’ve already purchased another name for a website because I have ideas for other blogs and websites that I’d like to start up when I get this blogging thing down like a boss. 🙂 That name only costs me $13 per year.
Building Loving the Home Life
In the next several lessons, I learned about site hosting services, Genesis Framework, what are a parent theme and a child theme, email services and building a list of subscribers, opt-ins, FTC regulations, WordPress and the difference between WordPress.com and WordPress.org, and how to design a website using widgets. Building a Framework offered several choices for hosting, themes, and email servers. I appreciate how the Lawsons shared the pros and cons of each service.
I chose Siteground to host Loving the Home Life because they’re affordable, site backup and email is included in the subscription, they have great support, they allow me to add future sites with their Grow Big Plan for only $5.95 a month, and best of all they boast an “uptime” of over 90%.
I hate tech issues. At the risk of jinxing it, with Siteground, I can say my blog has never been down and is running smoothly.
The theme of a website is basically the site’s “paint job.” Visitors to a site don’t see Siteground or Genesis Framework working, but they do see the theme. I looked at a lot of different themes and chose Refined from Restored 316.
Refined is clean, pretty, easy to customize, and easy to navigate. When I’m ready, I’ll be able to connect Refined to an online commerce provider like Shopify or WooCommerce and set up my own online store. Refined allows me to grow. Setting up the theme is covered only in a general sense in Building a Framework because different theme companies have different ways of creating their themes. To set up and customize Refined, I had to follow the tutorial provided at Restored 316.
Creating Content, Promoting a Blog, SEO and More
Building a Framework teaches potential bloggers how to create content (including photography!) for their blogs and how to promote their posts on Pinterest and social media platforms and how to do Search Engine Optimization (SEO) to get your blog noticed in Google Searches.
There is even continued support in a private Facebook group for students of Building a Framework where you can interact with other bloggers and learn from their successes and failures. I’ve SO enjoyed getting to know other bloggers through this group. Bloggers are like me – they’re “idea people” and have a desire to serve others and share what they’ve learned.
Making a Living Blogging
A blog like Loving the Home Life is a business. I like to think of it as publishing a homemaking magazine online with a staff of one. 🙂 As explained on this site’s homepage, I participate in affiliate programs from various companies that, when a reader clicks on an affiliate link and purchases a product, I get a commission.
People are always asking me how a blog generates income. Affiliate marketing is one way. I explain it in detail in the article How to Shop a Blog: Affiliate Marketing Explained for Readers New to Blogs. I wrote that article when a reader shared with me that she wanted to buy some of the items I recommended in my posts but couldn’t find them at any stores in our town.
Even though my blog is new, I’m already getting sales through the links every month. It isn’t much, but it’s a start and it’s encouraging. Those monthly sales mean the content of this blog is useful to you. If what I write here makes your life easier or better, then I’m a success. 🙂
The most successful bloggers sell their own products such as printable planners or online courses teaching a skill. Building a Framework is a perfect example of an online course that allows the Lawson’s to make a living blogging.
A lot of bloggers also receive compensation for sponsored articles published on their blogs. Abby is an IKEA ambassador and will write articles on her blog sharing how she uses IKEA products in her home. She receives a stipend for these articles.
I’m too new to be getting sponsors for posts, but I’ll get there. 🙂 And I’m working right now on ideas for creating my own products to offer online that I think my readers will really enjoy.
I LOVE BLOGGING!!
Blogging is allowing me to once again work in the publishing industry while allowing me to live in rural Iowa. On nice days I sit outside on my covered deck and write, create ads and affiliate links, promote content, work on new digital projects, and interact with creative and fun people.
Right now, I’m in the middle of creating a subscribers-only mini-course that teaches how to take great photos with a smartphone. I want to make readers of Loving the Home Life who subscribe and allow me into their email inbox glad that they did. I want the articles you read here to be helpful, inspiring, encouraging, and heartwarming.
I hope you enjoyed this “behind the scenes” look at blogging and how I created Loving the Home Life. If you’re inspired to learn how to start your own blog, I highly recommend learning how with Building a Framework. Loving the Home Life would not exist without it.
Thank you for being here!