Teacher Blog Academy by Side Hustle Teachers

Stacey Ogden

A show for teachers who are looking for ways to earn extra money and possible career options beyond the classroom. read less

How to Do a Year-End Blog Review & Cleanup
20-11-2022
How to Do a Year-End Blog Review & Cleanup
The end of the year is a great time to reflect, examine, and set new priorities for what’s next, which makes it the perfect time to do a review of your blog business.  If the word review makes you shiver and think of your end-of-year teacher eval meeting, where you have to prove to your administrator that you’re an effective teacher, don’t sweat it. This is your business, and you don’t have to prove anything to anyone. If it helps, this is not just a review, but also a clean-up, a chance for you to clear out some digital cobwebs, and spruce up a corner or 2 of your website. And remember, teachers kind of have 2 year-ends, so feel free to do this in December, or June… or both! I start this process with the review part because that informs the cleanup portion. It takes me a few hours if I do it all in one sitting, but it’s also possible to do a little bit at a time. And there’s no rule that says this has to be done by a certain date. Finally, before we jump in, this is a big overview-type of process that I recommend for beginners. If you’re more than a couple years into your blog, check out a more nitty-gitty review process (then come back for the cleanup because he doesn’t talk about that). Gather Your Information Data, Data, Data Yes, we’re all data’d out, but this is your data. And it’s not being used for anything except to help you make informed decisions about your blog. Data is information.  Information is power. Some things you’re going to want data for are your key performance indicators (KPIs) and can be gleaned from your Google Analytics account. Number of page views, sessions, and/or unique visitors per month. Traffic sources.Top posts and pagesTotal email subscribers by month. It’s All About the Benjamins (or Washingtons… whatever) If you want your blog to make money, you need to track where your money is coming from. I can’t stress this enough. Now is the time to dig in to how much you made and how you made it. If you’ve been tracking your income and expenses, this will be easy. If not… well, it’s important. In this step we’re only focusing on income. You’d be amazed how many entrepreneurs don’t know how much money they’re bringing in!  I check in on my blog money once a month to update my spreadsheet and move my money to the proper accounts, but even I was surprised at my income when I looked. I normally just put all the numbers in the right boxes, then close it up. This time I actually looked at the monthly and yearly totals and… wow! I hadn’t even realized I’d already surpassed my revenue goal for the year by October. Sometimes numbers are fun! The two things you need to know are: Your sources of income.How much each source earned. Where Are You Spending Time and Money? Not as much fun as the income, you also need to know where you’re spending money. If you don’t already, I strongly suggest setting up a business bank account and credit card. This not only helps you track your expenses more easily, but it also protects your personal accounts from legal action (provided you’ve set up an LLC). You’ll definitely need to know: What you’re paying for in your businessHow much you’re paying You should also do a time audit for your own information. This involves tracking what you do for your blog and can help provide valuable insight into strengths, weakness, and improvements you can make. The goal is to find out what you’re doing in an average week, and how long you’re spending on it. With the other data you’ve collected, you’ll be able to see if you’re spending your most precious resource, your time, wisely. Break It Down Now that you’ve got all your data collected, you can start to scrutinize it. (You have no idea how hard I worked not to use the word “analyze” there, so as not to traumatize you.) The good news is that you don’t need to make spreadsheets, charts, and tables to get what you need. You really just need to be able to answer these questions: What trends do you notice? Are there particular post types on your blog (or social media, if you track that) that got more engagement via comments, shares, or sales? If so, when planning ahead you want to plan more of that type of content, and try to determine what’s working so you can use those techniques in other content as well. You may also notice that certain times of year are peaks or valleys for your readership and/or sales. This is normal, and nothing to panic about. For example, September is a slow month at Side Hustle Teachers because my audience is focusing on back to school stuff. Knowing this is helpful because not only do I not freak out when my stats drop, I also know not to launch something new at this time. Does your effort match your outcome? Are the places you’re spending your time benefiting your blog? For example, if you’re posting diligently on Instagram every day, are you gaining followers, and more importantly, are those followers becoming readers and/or customers? While it can be a good ego boost to see our follower count go up, it doesn’t mean much if those followers aren’t clicking over to your blog, signing up for your email list, and making you money. For example, my engagement on Twitter was circling the drain (and I never enjoyed using the platform), so I deleted my account… and it felt great!  What are your income producing activities? Knowing where your revenue is coming from, what specific tasks are moving your audience toward a sale? If 1% of people on your email list buy from you (a very normal statistic, by the way), consider the steps you take to get people on your list. At SHT, a good portion of our sales come from my free training, Profitable Blogging for Teachers, so I would examine the ways people can find this training. If your blog is not making money yet, not to worry. Since email is far-and-away the most cost effective way to get customers, focus on your list. Even if you don’t have anything to sell yet, build your list. It is a marketing channel that will pay off big time in the future. In this case, you would address the question; What are my list building activities? Now that you have a big-picture view of your blog, keep the information in a visible place. When you’re considering a new project, reflect on the questions above. Is the new project in keeping with the expectations of my audience? Do I have evidence that my audience needs or wants this? Is this going to build my income? Pausing to deliberately weigh the costs (of money and time) and the potential returns of each project can prevent you from chasing shiny objects or procrastinating by taking on non-income-producing tasks. Before we move on, there’s two more things to think about in your end-of-year review: What did you love about blogging this year? What did you not enjoy doing this year? Remember that your blog is your business, and you get to design it in a way that makes you happy. If there are things you loved doing, moments that made you feel great, or connections made that you treasure, do more of that! When you look ahead to next year, plan more of what brings you joy. Conversely, if there are things that just drain the life from you, feel really difficult, or you put off for as long as possible, find a way to do less of them. Maybe that means those things just don’t get done. Or, if it’s something that needs to be handled, like sending welcome emails to new subscribers, automate it with a tool like ConvertKit, or hire someone to do it for you! Your business, your rules! Clean It Up While you’ve got all your data out and available, let’s see if there are some things on your blog that can be tidied up. This is an important part of your year-end processes because it will make for a much better experience for your readers and can help your SEO results, too. Amp up your top posts. Once you know which posts are resonating with your audience over time, you’re going to want to maximize them. A few things I recommend is adding more internal links to other blog posts of yours. This will help keep people on your site longer and lead readers through more of your content, building a stronger connection, faster.  Next, do some keyword research to find what people who are interested in that particular content might be searching for, then update your content to include these words or phrases.  Lastly, review your post images. Update them if they’re outdated, and make sure you’re using a plugin like Social Warfare to make pinning and sharing easy. Update or redirect old posts. If you’ve been blogging for more than a year, you may have some content that is a little dated, doesn’t 100% fit your niche, or you just don’t like. As you grow, this is totally normal. You have a couple of options for what to do with this type of content. You can always update or improve upon old posts. That's one of the beautiful things about blogging! If there’s a typo, you can fix it. If there's something new you want to mention, add it in! No big deal. But not all content is worth updating or fixing. Sometimes it’s better to just scrap it and move on. However, you don’t want people who find old links to be taken to get an error when they click, so I suggest you use a free plugin called Redirection. This allows you to point the old URL of the post you don’t want shown to another, related post that’s more in line with your current blog niche and standards. This way, when anyone clicks on the old post, they’ll be automatically taken to the new one. Remove or update dead links. There are few things more frustrating for a reader than clicking on a link and going nowhere (or to an error page). This happens a lot with affiliate links as other sites make updates to their inventory or system. A tool like SEM Rush’s website audit will give you a list of links on your site that are dead, then you can fix each one. I actually suggest doing this more than once a year, but life happens… so definitely make it part of your end-of-year cleanup De-junkify your inbox. If you’re like me, you may sign up for a lot of free trials, trainings, etc. I also like to sign up for people’s email lists just to check out their nurture sequence. All of this means that my inbox gets pretty cluttered. Use this time of year to unsubscribe from things that are no longer serving you. This is another thing I recommend you do more than once a year (like daily), but it’s helpful to have a reminder. The end of the year is a natural time to do a review and cleanup of your blog, but it doesn’t have to be done then. If you’re feeling a little unclear on where you’re going with your business, this process can help illuminate where you’re at, and what your options are. Remember that in the end, your blog is yours and yours alone. Make informed decisions, but make ones that work for you and your goals, not because it's what you’re supposed to do or because that’s what anyone else wants.
Looking Forward: What I'm Focusing on In 2023
13-11-2022
Looking Forward: What I'm Focusing on In 2023
With a new year, comes new possibilities. Looking forward is so important for content creators, but rarely do we give ourselves time to do it. If I’m totally honest, I haven’t been good about giving myself enough white space to think about my business for several years.  When Side Hustle Teachers started, I didn’t expect it to become so popular so fast. I really had to keep my nose to the grindstone and fix the little issues that sprang up… seemingly one right after another. It didn’t leave me a lot of time for reflection, and certainly not for projection. This year, however, I’m not only demanding that I be more deliberate about the choices I make, but also about creating more time and space in my life so I can reflect on where I’ve been and think about where I want to go. I have to constantly remind myself that my business is not school. I can take my time to consider my current situation. I can take my time to examine the options I have. I can take my time making a decision. And I can take my time implementing that decision based on my wants and needs. So this year I’ve been contemplating this business I’ve built, and how I can move it forward in a sustainable way, and grow the company I want. Let’s dive into my key areas of focus for 2023. Some of them might surprise you. Rule #1: Simplicity is King I’ve always been a fan of the KISS rule - keep it simple, stupid - but it’s never as easy to implement as it is to spout to others… or needlepoint on a pillow. In 2023 simplicity is going to be my guiding star. The longer I’m in business, the more I realize that I don’t want to hustle. I want ease. (And yes, I realize the irony of rebelling against hustle when my company is called Side Hustle Teachers.) For a while I’ve been using one question to decide whether or not to take on something new; Is this going to bring ease to my life? This simple question has allowed me to say no without guilt, hire help to get things done that I’ve been putting off for ages, and give my attention to things that are building my business and bringing me joy. To be clear, I’m making simplicity a priority in all areas of my life, not just business. We’re in the (extremely slow) process of getting rid of stuff that’s been piling up, and we’re focusing on creating experiences instead of giving physical gifts. We’re not trying to be minimalists… but clearing physical space allows me to find more mental space…  Aaaaaahhhhhhhhhh. Elimination, Automation, Delegation To aid my search for simplicity, I’m following the eliminate, automate, and delegate model. First - and this part has been happening for a while - I’m on the hunt for things I’m doing that aren’t necessary, or that can wait, or that are just a big ol’ waste of time.  Entrepreneurs in all fields have a habit of taking on more and more to-dos until our lives are completely out of balance. This is very easy for side hustlers to do, especially teachers, because our jobs are already taking up our time and energy. I’ll talk about a few things I’m dropping in the new year in the following sections. The second step of this process is to automate whatever possible. I’ve long been a fan of automation. It’s literally been essential to being able to grow my business while teaching full-time.  I automate my email marketing, my social media posting… even my Facebook “Lives” are pre-recorded because my family schedule doesn’t allow me to be available every Wednesday at 9pm. Just note that before you start automating, you eliminate. There are a ton of tools available to help you automate pretty much anything, but most of them will cost you money, and they require time and energy to set up. Don’t waste your limited time and money on tools that help you with things you don’t even need to be doing. Finally, if there are things that are keeping you from moving forward or making money, it’s time to consider hiring someone to help you.  This person could be someone you work with in person or virtually, and can work as little as a few hours a week. You could also hire them on a project-by-project basis to take care of things you need done, but not on an ongoing basis. In the past I’ve hired people to help me with SEO, graphics creation, email writing, customer support, and more. All In on the Facebook Group While I have a presence on multiple social media platforms, the Side Hustle Teachers Facebook group has been my primary focus for a long time. In 2023, I’m going to go all in on this platform. I’ve even deactivated my Twitter account. Side Note: My deactivation decision was based on the fact that I never use Twitter myself (I find it annoying) and it’s the only platform on which I couldn’t get the handle of Side Hustle Teachers. Elon Musk didn’t factor in at all. Also, though I’m not leaving Pinterest all together, since it’s not a major source of traffic for me, I’m paring back on my use. I’m only creating one pin per post, and everything is automatically posted. It’s very hands off - if it weren’t I wouldn’t use it. Even my Facebook page isn’t a priority for me. Meta has been making it harder for pages to reach people organically (read: without paying) for a while, and it’s just not worth it for me. Instead, my attention has been on, and will continue to go to the ever growing group of teachers that I’ve built over the last 3 years. The group includes (mostly) daily prompts for members to share their thoughts, content, and wisdom. There are also weekly videos released on Wednesday that address mindset and common blocks that teachers hit when building a business. My goal is to use the time I’ve freed up in other areas to be able to interact more with the SHT group members. When I take on too many things, my connections suffer… but the connections made through this business are one of my favorite parts! All Roads Lead to Teacher Blog Academy One of my biggest stumbling blocks as an entrepreneur has been creating too much stuff. This might just be me… or it could be a teacher trait since we’re all expected to be prolific in our classrooms. If you’ve been around Side Hustle Teachers since the beginning, you may remember that I used to have a membership program. On top of that I sold each course from the membership separately… and I just kept making courses! It was exhausting, and a constant struggle. I was creating, and promoting, and delivering digital courses all at the same time. And don’t forget about the weekly free content for my website and social media. It took longer than it should have, but I finally figured out that that was a recipe for burnout. The past year (ish) I’ve had 3 course offerings, with the Teacher Blog Academy being my signature program. In 2023 TBA is going to be my sole course. I haven’t figured out exactly how I’m going to make it work, but when I am realistic about my life, I just don’t have time to promote 3 different courses. So now all roads are going to lead to Teacher Blog Academy. Practice Self-Promotion Last year much of my time and energy was put towards creating TBA, launching it, delivering it, and creating an automatic system that would regularly promote the course for me. I was also putting out this weekly blogcast, and trying to be as present for the SHT community… and, oh yeah, I have a job and a family. One of the balls I (by choice) dropped was promoting myself outside the SHT bubble. In 2023 I’m going to be reaching out to more podcasters and entrepreneurs for collaboration. Even though I’m a blogger at heart, I love podcasts as a way to reach new audiences… though I’m definitely open to other opportunities, too. Hint: If you’d like to have me as a guest on your show, blog, video series, summit, etc. reach out and we’ll see if we can make it happen! While the Side Hustle Teachers community is still growing, I know that there are more teachers out there who I can help.  I just have to reach them first. This is definitely a priority in the new year. Start My Book Last, but not least, I’ve been thinking about writing a book for a reeeeeeeally long time, and I think this might be the year to make it happen. A book is not only a fantastic way to help more people - especially if Teacher Blog Academy is my sole offering - but it can also serve as a business card and help get my name and this community out to more teachers. Over the last 6 months all the potential topics, names, chapters, and themes I’ve had in my head for years have started to coalesce, which I’m taking as a sign to get started.  I’ll be self-publishing, and I’m hoping to have it ready for release for next Thanksgiving. Stay tuned! And if you’re a member of the Facebook group, I’ll definitely be asking for stories, experiences, and opinions along the way! If you haven’t started to look forward to the year ahead, maybe this will give you a little inspiration. It’s so important to pause for a moment and get out of the “plan, craft, distribute” cycle of content so that you can think about where your business has been, how it’s changed, and where you want it to go from here. Maybe that means you need to take a break from your blog for a little while. I’m going live in the Facebook group to talk about how I’m taking the month of December off and why giving yourself space to think is so important. Tune in live on Wednesday at 9pm!
10 Years of Blogging: What’s Changed and How to Make it Work for You
06-11-2022
10 Years of Blogging: What’s Changed and How to Make it Work for You
As we approach 2023 - man, that sounds weird to say - I realized that I have been blogging for 10 years!  I don’t actually remember the date, so don’t be expecting an anniversary party or anything, but I made my first money as a blogger in 2012. Holy crap, that’s a long time. In those 10 years I was able to grow a successful mom-lifestyle blog that paid off my student loans, let us buy our cars with cash, and put me on track to pay off our mortgage in 15 years instead of 30.  I also sold my blog when I was called to start Side Hustle Teachers and it grew faster than I anticipated. Blogging is a fairly low-key way to make money, but it still requires work, and I just couldn’t do both. Now Side Hustle Teachers is a thriving blog with a highly engaged community, a new signature course that’s helping other teachers build and grow their own blogs, and a clear path to early retirement. Over that time I’ve also discovered and consciously worked towards a more chill lifestyle, even as I continue to teach and my business consistently grows. I have more free time now than I did before I started my first blog! When it comes to the business of blogging, a lot has changed, and that’s what we’ll be talking about today. So let’s dig in. Technology is WAY Easier Let’s start with the best thing on this list. Tech is way more accessible now than it was when I started. Not only is it cheaper (yay!), but the improvements and upgrades have also made it easier for the average non-tech-geek to use, making the internet a much more user-friendly place. When I first started, putting up a website took either a lot of money or extensive knowledge of coding and internet language. Yes, I had access to WordPress and ready-made themes (it wasn’t the really early days), but any changes needed to be done manually or via code… I broke my site many, many times. There are also a lot more tools available to use online. Pretty much whatever you want to do online, there’s a tool you can use to manage it for you. From payment processors to schedulers to customer management to auto-responders… you name it, it’s out there.  And - this is big - they all talk to each other! Your credit card processor talks to your bank, who talks to your business email, who talks to your email management system, who updates your database… It's amazing. You can integrate all your tools, making automation 1000% easier, and taking a ton of work off your plate. There are even tools that help your tools talk to each other if they don’t have built in integration (thank you, Zapier!). And one of the few good things to come out of the Covid-19 pandemic is that, by forcing more people and businesses online, even more programs, platforms, and systems were introduced… and they’re not going anywhere. All this makes starting a blog a totally doable endeavor. I know many teachers are afraid of the tech that’s involved, but if you can handle the tech of a 21st century classroom, a blog is a piece of cake! Social Media has Exploded When I started there was Facebook and Twitter. Pinterest was still new and masquerading as a social network, and Instagram was just barely born. Social media was growing, but it was not the ubiquitous part of everyday life that it is now. Cut to today when social media platforms abound and are some of the most trafficked parts of the internet. For a while, every time a new platform was introduced, bloggers were encouraged to jump in and become founding members before it became big. Side note, this was brought on by Pinterest, whose early adopters gained HUGE advantages on the platform, frustrating those who came after. However, as we’ve seen, not all social media sites are created equally or are built to last… I’m lookin’ at you Periscope, Clubhouse, and Google Plus!  Today, anyone who’s telling you to be on every social platform, especially when you’re new to blogging, is given sideways glances and dismissed as out of touch. This is a very good thing for your content and your sanity. My focus is on the Side Hustle Teachers Facebook group. Everything else is extra. These days it’s better to focus your time, energy, and creative skills on 1 or 2 platforms where you can build authentic connections and engage with your audience. If you want to have a presence on more platforms, you can use tools to automatically share the same content in multiple places so your apparent omnipresence doesn’t take any more work. So when the next big social media app is introduced, don’t feel the need to dive in. Just grab your username so it doesn’t get stolen, and feel free to delete the app. Standards are Higher When I first started my original blog, I published a post every day.  Back then it was way easier to do that (though still crazy) because the internet rewarded quantity over quality. I still cringe when I think about some of the things I shared with the world. But I was trying to “catch up” with the people who’d been blogging for years, and volume sold. These days not only do readers expect higher quality information, but search engines demand it. I may have ranted about this before, but it bears repeating. Your readers expect and deserve quality posts.  On top of this, Google now considers your site’s authority when ranking pages in search results. People and posts who cite facts, give value in their content, and meet other authority based criteria (there are hundreds of factors considered), will be boosted in search results, and therefore discovered by more people. But it’s not just content quality expectations that are higher. Internet users expect a beautiful, user-friendly website experience when they land on your site. They expect high-quality images with thoughtful design, and they have a very low tolerance for poor sound quality. Interestingly, while video quality is important, users will watch a video with poor video quality longer than they will watch a video with poor sound quality, according to VTRep. With all the tools available to help, people demand quality. I’ll add a side note here, though, and this is important. While people expect high quality, they also understand and are forgiving - even appreciative - of authentic imperfection. In my videos you may see my cat wandering around in the background. In my podcast episodes you may hear my daughter singing or other family life noise. No one complains about it. It actually helps me seem more real and relatable. So, in my early days I would have spent huge amounts of time re-recording or editing, these days I’m happy to leave that stuff in. Saturation is Real The internet was already starting to get crowded when I began blogging, but now it’s downright mobbed. There are 600 million blogs on the web today, compared to about 100 million when I started. That’s pretty massive growth! The good news is that the number of blogs continues to grow because blogging is a highly effective marketing strategy and way to build revenue. That means that even though you feel late to the game, you haven’t missed out.  The bad news is that it can be harder to be noticed online with so many options. There’s a lot of noise online and sometimes it feels like you’re just waiting for your class to settle down and listen. But the really good news is that if you want to be noticed, it’s pretty simple; Show up and be yourself. It may take longer to build an audience, but if you continue to show up as your authentic self (and market your blog), your people will find you and stick with you. So, a lot has changed in the last 10 years, but if I’m totally honest, most of it has made the online world better, more accessible, and more profitable. And while it may seem intimidating to try to get into this space, there has never been a better time to give it a go. The internet has never been more readily available for those who want to form new relationships, build community, and make money.  The time is now! If you’re ready to give a go at this incredibly profitable realm, check out Teacher Blog Academy!
How to Create a Gift Guide Your Audience Will Love
30-10-2022
How to Create a Gift Guide Your Audience Will Love
With the holidays approaching, you may find yourself noticing lots of posts popping up with gift recommendations and wondered if they really boost revenue (they do!) and how you can make one for your own blog. A well done gift guide can be a fantastic way to increase your affiliate income. But a poorly done gift guide can actually damage the trust you’ve built up with your audience. So before you go on your virtual shopping spree and start seeing dollar signs in your eyes, let’s talk about the right way to put together a gift guide. Before You Start Know Your Audience Creating a gift guide that actually generates income depends on your understanding of your audience and what they need. So before you start, make sure you have a clear picture of who they are and why they’re coming to your blog. Their preferences are going to play into every decision you make, from which stores you feature to the price range of the items you select. Consider the following questions: How would you describe your ideal audience in 1 sentence?What is this group looking for help with?What’s their budget? It’s okay if there’s a wide range here, just be sure to select gifts at all levels to appeal to everyone.Where do they already shop? If you want to introduce new stores, that’s great, but keep in mind that many people will spend their money at places they already know and trust over someplace new. Choose a Theme When thinking about your audience, there could be a million things they might want or need. Choose a specific theme to narrow your focus and create a through-line for all your recommendations. Don’t worry if your theme isn’t a typical one. When my daughter was young I would have been thrilled to find a guide called, “Perfect Gifts for Little Girls Whose Moms Need to Get Work Done and Need Said Little Girl to Play Quietly By Herself.” Sadly, I never found such a guide… For this part, focus particularly on why your audience comes to you.  Are you providing gift suggestions that your readers might want (and can forward on to their family and friends), or gifts that they can purchase for others?  Is this guide meant to help them discover new, creative gifts?  Or find bargains or tried and true classics?  Or make gifts themselves with recommendations of where to buy materials and tools? Note: If you’re having trouble with this at the start, put a pin in it and come back to this once you’ve found a few products to recommend. You might find a natural theme, or one may come to you as you’re doing your research. Gather Your Affiliate Links If you’ve dabbled in affiliate marketing, you already have relationships with some stores or brands. Now is the time to review your links and apply to any other programs with products or services you want to recommend. Also take time to review the terms of service that are in place with each company so that you don’t violate your agreement and lose your affiliate status. For example, Amazon does not allow offline promotion, so if you create a downloadable PDF of your guide, you must link back to your gift guide post for Amazon products (rather than the item itself). If you’re going to use affiliate marketing in your everyday blogger life - and why wouldn’t you? - I suggest creating a spreadsheet with all of your common affiliate links in it. It will really streamline the recommendation process and make your life easier. Crafting Your Gift Guide Select Your Products This is the fun part. It’s time to go shopping! When choosing what to include and what to leave off your list, be selective. A list of 10 great, spot-on, you-read-my-mind gift suggestions is better than one of 50 generic ideas. When you are curating your picks, always go back to your theme. If it doesn’t fit with your theme, or you have to do some mental gymnastics to try to justify how it fits, leave it off. Consider why each individual item should be included and remember the golden rule; value first. Make your recommendations based on the value they provide rather than the commission you can earn.   Grab or Make Eye-Catching Graphics There’s a reason the flyers that come in the mail around the holidays are loaded with beautiful, inspiring, colorful, and fun pictures.  Images sell. That’s why Target doesn’t mind paying the crazy shipping cost of their holiday circular and Harriet Carter always sends a catalog in November… whether you want it or not. We know that products with quality images sell better. Even the color, type, model, etc. in the image will sell better than other variations of the same product. Most affiliate programs allow use of their images for promotion of their products or services, but be sure to check your terms of service agreement before sharing them publicly.  If it’s a product you own, I also recommend getting some shots of you or your family using it, or the outcome of your use. This will put an even more personal spin on it, give you graphics no one else has, and your audience will know you’re not just blowing smoke. I recommend a program like PicMonkey or Canva to create your graphics. Don’t Forget the Text In a printed guide, text is less important, but since this is a blog post, you need to keep the rules of SEO in mind.  Google needs a minimum of 300 words to be able to understand and recommend your post in search results, so don’t skip this part.  One simple way to add some text is to introduce your post with a bit about how you put it together and why you selected the items you did. This can help your audience see that you currated your guide with them in mind, not just anyone. Another easy place to add text is to give a brief overview of each item, with specific things you love about it. Explain to your readers why they need this thing and how it will make their lives better. Finally, wrap it all up with a quick summary and even an invitation to comment with their own favorite doo-dad. Here’s another question I get a lot about this topic: Should I include my own products or services in my gift guide? Maybe. If what you sell fits into your list, your theme, and solves the problem you’re trying to solve with this guide, then yes. If not, leave it off. It’s not worth turning people off when they get to your product because if it doesn’t serve them at that moment, the rest of the list would be tainted with your product pimping. Last, but definitely not least, make sure that you are disclosing to your audience that the links you’re sharing are affiliate links. You don’t have to do anything dramatic, or plaster your blog with warning signs, but disclosure is the law. Here’s the disclosure that automatically gets shared on all of my blog posts: If you are using affiliate marketing regularly (highly recommended) you should add a disclaimer to every post and have a clear policy. If you need help with this, I suggest using a pre-made legal template that you can just plug your blog information into to cover your bases. Gift guides don’t have to be just for December holidays either. You can create one for any gift giving opportunity. Think Mother’s and Father’s Day, Easter, summer birthdays… you’re only limited by your imagination!  In the past I’ve created lists about how I set up my home office, and books I love and recommend, and I even have a Resources page that lives on my site permanently. Be creative and selective, and your audience will thank you!
5 Ways to Build Authentic Relationships with Your Audience
24-10-2022
5 Ways to Build Authentic Relationships with Your Audience
Know, like, and trust. You may have heard those words before - you may have heard them from me - and thought, “That’s great… how do I do that?” Even though we live in a time when we feel highly connected to people we only know from the internet - I have friends I’ve never met in my online due date group - you still have to put effort into forming authentic, human-to-human relationships. Today I’m sharing 5 practical strategies to connect with your readers: Be Yourself Nothing turns people off more than a phony. Still a lot of bloggers think they have to be or act a certain way because that’s how “everyone else” is doing it. Not true. Your readers come to you because you’re you! So be yourself in your blogging. Use conversational language and write the way you speak. If you’re an English teacher, this may feel a little (or a lot) wrong, but bloggers don’t have to follow all the rules of grammar that you do in formal writing. Blogging isn’t formal. It’s intimate. Use the words you would use when having a conversation with a friend. Use punctuation in ways that would make your grammar teacher lose. her. shit. Swear if you want to! Don’t swear if that’s just not how you roll. Call your readers “dearies” or “y’all”… if that’s you. Or “peeps” or “home girls”... if that’s you. To create a relationship your readers need to feel like they know you. And for them to know you, you have to be yourself. Interact with Your Readers Have you ever had a one-sided relationship? You know the kind where you’re always the one calling,  inviting them places, and making an effort?  It’s like playing tennis against the drapes. It’s frustrating and leaves you feeling used. Don’t make your readers feel that way. If a reader takes the time to leave a comment on your blog, respond. If they reach out to you on social media, respond. If they tag you in a post, leave a comment saying thank you and make a little joke, or ask them a question. A blog post - even the most well-written one in the world - can only go so far in building relationships. So when your readers engage with you, let them feel seen, heard, and appreciated. Beyond being a great way to strengthen your audience’s bond, this is also an amazing way to get more information on what your audience likes, doesn’t like, is frustrated by, and wants more of. Go to Them There’s an old saying, “If Mohammed won’t go to the mountain, the mountain must go to Mohammed.” Your readers are busy. As much as they love and value what you’re putting out into the world, you are not at the top of their minds day in and day out. Sorry. (Not sorry.) Show your audience some love by going to them, instead of insisting they come to you. Social media is a fantastic way to do this. It lets you share your thoughts, ideas, insights, missteps, victories… and in lots of different formats. I love having a Facebook group for the Side Hustle Teacher community because it allows me to get to know my audience, and them to get to know me, in a space that doesn’t have a built-in hierarchy. My blog is my site, I’m the expert, and it’s my platform. The SHT Facebook group is shared by the thousands of members, and is designed for interaction. Everyone is an expert. Another way I go to my readers is via email. If you’re on my list you hear from me regularly because I want to be part of your life. I want to pop up in your inbox and say “Hey! How’s it goin’?”  And I loooooooove it when people email me back! It’s one of my favorite things! Get Personal Sharing personal stories is another way to make a genuine connection with your readers, and I highly recommend it. Of course, you don’t have to share everything - some things should remain personal - but your audience wants to know that there’s a real, flesh-and-blood person behind your site.  Stories about your life, mistakes, flaws - all the things that make you a human - helps your audience relate to you. It lets them see themselves in you, which is what we’re all looking for. We all just want to know we’re not alone. I share with my community members about my anxiety, my story of how I got started in blogging - including my first epic fail side hustle - and my over-the-top love of my pets. I mention my family, but I tend to keep most of our day-to-day life to myself. The personal things I share with my audience not only help me build a connection with them, and them with me, it also lets me show everyone that not everything is sunshine and roses… Things go wrong, I make mistakes… I even had a mild heart attack when my students found my blog.  All these things make me a person, rather than a highlight reel. Value First The golden rule of blogging, always give your audience what it wants, needs, and can use. Provide value and everything else will follow. One of my biggest pet peeves of our current age is the way news outlets rush to publish a story, but don’t have any information… so you basically get everything they know in the title. When you click on the article all there is are a couple of hastily written paragraphs that restate the headline and leave you annoyed. There are several sites I won’t even click on anymore because I’ve been disappointed too many times. Don’t be like that. When your reader clicks to read one of your posts you want them to feel understood. You want them to say, “That’s exactly what I was looking for.” You want them questioning whether or not you have illegal surveillance in their house because you gave them the exact information they needed.  Value builds trust. Consistent value makes you who they turn to when they have a question. It makes you who they refer their friends to. It makes you their go-to person. Regardless of how you choose to connect, making the effort to do so is 100% worth it.
4 Tips to Avoid Blogger Burnout
24-10-2022
4 Tips to Avoid Blogger Burnout
Burnout is nothing to joke about. It’s real and it is vicious. Blogger burnout has derailed many potential entrepreneurs and we don’t want that to happen to you. The good news is that you can avoid this all-too-common phenomenon with a little planning, and a lot of self-monitoring. Here are 4 tips to maintain a healthy schedule and avoid burnout: Start as You Intend to Continue We all know that when you first start a new venture you want to throw your whole self into it. This is normal, and honestly, it’s part of the fun of starting something new. When starting a long-term project like a blog, though, it’s important to set boundaries for yourself from the beginning so that your blog doesn't end up taking over your life. I’m not going to tell you to limit yourself from working on your blog when you're super excited about it - that would be silly and counterproductive. What I am saying is that you need to remember that one of the best things about having a business like a blog is the freedom it creates in your life. Yet we teachers (little go-getters that we are) tend to approach blogging like we approach teaching… we’re all in, 110%, all day, all night… when we’re not giving 110% to teaching. That is a recipe for burnout. Instead, think about the things you had in mind when you started blogging.  If you want to be able to enjoy a work-free movie night with your family every Friday night, give yourself a rule that there’s no blog work on Fridays after dinner. If you want to be able to work from anywhere so you can travel with your son’s soccer team, then grab a laptop and make use of the time he’s at practice (and then put it away afterward so you can hear about the gnarly goal he made). The fact is that nobody starts a business - even a blog - so they can be tied to their computer 24/7. So if that’s not your goal, then don’t start that way. It will feel like there’s sooooo much to do, but honestly, I think that’s just life in the 21st century. Start building your blog how you want it to look in the long run. Eliminate, Automate, Delegate If you read blogging advice online, you’re going to find a lot of advice on things you “must” do in order to be successful. For full-time bloggers, maybe these things are possible, but as a side hustler, you have to be more discerning with what you take on. I know I’m taking on too much when I start to feel unsure of what to do next. If I’m feeling stuck and procrastinating doing anything, it’s usually because I’m trying to do too much. The first thing to do in this situation is to look at your list and take at least one thing off of it. Usually it’s something I read about someone else doing and decided that I had to take on, too. (No, that urge doesn’t go away as you get further into your journey.) Shift these things over to a Maybe Someday list, or just cross it out and move on. The next thing to do is look for things that you can automate, like emails, social media responses, tagging and segmenting subscribers, your opt-in… automation is a huge time saver and it can keep you from going into burnout. Truth be told, automation also makes your business more appealing to your readers. We expect things to happen instantly, so when people sign up for your email list, they want the freebie you promised right away… not when you get around to it after school, homework, dinner, and soccer practice. The first task many bloggers automate is email delivery. It’s inexpensive and easy to use - and it’s a great investment because your email list is key in making money from your blog. I personally use and recommend ConvertKit. Another popular option is automating social media posts. I use RecurPost, but for beginners typically recommend CinchShare. The last thing to try when burnout is on the horizon is delegate tasks to someone else.  Some things just need a personal touch, or just need to be dealt with as they happen, but that doesn’t mean they need to be dealt with by you! If you notice that you can’t get the meaningful items on your to-do list because you’re spending all your time answering emails, managing your Facebook group, or doing other non-zone-of-genius stuff, it may be time to delegate to a virtual assistant. But, don’t forget that you don’t just have to eliminate, automate, and delegate business tasks. You can free up time and energy by applying this same principle at home. If you can’t get to your blog work because you’re too busy shopping, cooking dinner, and cleaning your house, get your groceries delivered, put Hello Fresh on auto delivery, or hire someone to do the cleaning. Bonus: Hiring for your home is often cheaper than hiring a VA, Repurpose Your Content A mistake many bloggers make at the beginning (including yours truly) is creating new content instead of reusing what they’ve already got.  You write a blog post, share it once, then move on and write something else… all while trying to think of something else to share on social media. It’s exhausting, and can lead to not only business burnout, but also creative burnout. (That’s when you’re still passionate about your blog, but feel like you have nothing more to say.) Instead, get more mileage from your blog posts and what you’ve already created. When writing a post, craft a couple of different posts to use to share it, maybe grab a quote, and then share your post multiple times. A common misconception is that once you share a post, everyone has seen it. In fact, only about 1-3% of your followers will see what you share on social media. On top of that, many won’t be able to stop and read what you’ve written at that exact moment. All that’s to say, keep sharing your content! By finding ways to go deeper on your content, rather than coming up with new ideas to hit on surface level, you can engage your readers in new ways and promote content you've already created. An example would be doing a weekly Facebook or Instagram live to answer questions about your latest post. You can use a tool like StreamYard to go live in multiple places at once, then download your video to upload permanently to YouTube. Say No - A LOT In my first several years of teaching I worked all the time. Teaching was my whole life, from the time I woke up, to the time I went to bed. From what I’ve heard, most teachers are the same way. If they needed someone to be on a committee, I was your girl. Schedule adjustments needed? Sign me up to help! We’re having a dance? Awesome! I’ll chaperone! It’s in our nature to do whatever’s asked of us, but it’s not necessary, and it’s not healthy. The problem is that we feel like we need an excuse to say no, as if, “I’m tired and want to go home to want Netflix.” isn’t a valid excuse (it is). If you’re going to grow a blogging business, saying no is going to have to become part of your vocabulary, because here’s the thing: Every time you say yes to something, you’re saying no to something else. When you agree to be on that committee, you’re taking time and mental bandwidth away from your blog, your classroom, and your family. A few years ago, I found myself a member of 2 district-level committees and serving as a scorer for reflection papers for new teachers… and quickly approaching burnout because I was doing all that and didn’t say no to anything in my business either. So - by default - I ended up saying no to rest, family time, and sleep. I wrote to my assistant superintendent and told him I needed to step away from all of it, and refocused my energy. Open committee seat? Administrative something needs to be done? Dance on Friday until 10pm? I’m sorry, I’m busy. No explanation needed And guess what. The world hasn’t stopped turning! Boundaries are important in every aspect of your life. It’s not always easy to set them - or stick to them  - but if you’re going to avoid burnout, they’re essential. Consider your priorities, create boundaries for yourself and your blog, and you will find it much easier to avoid hitting burnout. In Teacher Blog Academy, we teach you how to build a blog in a sustainable way, with just the basics, and without any of the excess to-dos that aren’t necessary and just add stress to your life. To learn more go to teacherblogacademy.com
Help! My Students Found My Blog!
02-10-2022
Help! My Students Found My Blog!
This question came to me from someone in the Side Hustle Teachers community, and I wanted to answer it here because it’s something a lot of people may worry about. Here’s the question: “I want to start a blog, but I’m worried that my students will find it. What should I do?” My question is, why? Honestly, I understand the sentiment, but I also know that there’s no reason to be concerned about this. Yes, if we put ourselves out there, our coworkers, students, and families might discover our blogs. But having a blog, even one for profit, isn’t anything to be ashamed of.   These days upwards of 30% of teachers have jobs outside of school, and more and more of them are creating those jobs for themselves rather than working for yet another boss. For good reason - it’s awesome! So, let’s just agree that unless your blog is about something illegal or is just bitching about your boss/ students/ job, you’re good. The question I get next is usually, “Have your students found your blog?” Yes. Yes, they have. A few years ago, when I was still working with moms, a student found my Instagram account. (It wasn’t hard, my account had my name attached, but one student thought he was really clever for finding it.) He was going up and down the hall outside my classroom saying, “Side Hustle Moms,” in a loud voice, so I asked him what he was doing.  He “confronted” me about my account. (Insert a creepy dun-dun-dun sound here.) It was almost comical to see his face go completely flat when I wasn’t horrified to know he’d found me out… I just confirmed I had a business and that I helped moms start businesses. Except for blocking a handful of students who followed my IG account, that was the end of it. This year another group of students found my business. A couple have said they’ve listened to my podcast, and others have asked what Side Hustle Teachers is.  Truth be told, I think they’re just trying to get me to go on a tangent and avoid doing work… or see if they can get a rise out of me… but after a couple days they just drop it. I’m proud of my business. I’m proud of the community of nearly 12,000 teachers I’ve built. I’m proud of the hundreds of teachers I’ve helped through my courses and coaching. I’m proud of the money this business brings to my family. All that said, the question still stands.  What should you do if your students find your blog? Or parents?  Or admin? Take a breath.  The first time someone from school finds your blog can bring on different responses from different people. Honestly, when that original kid started shouting my business name down my hallway I thought I was going to throw up. It was an automatic, subconscious response. But once I took a breath, I remembered that I was still me, he was still a student, and my blog was still awesome. Acknowledge your blog Not only is it pointless to deny your blog once someone’s found it, it’s unnecessary.  A simple, “Yes, I blog at Side Hustle Teachers,” is enough. You don’t have to explain, justify, or tell your story. A coworker discovered me on Facebook one time and told her it was my blog and that she should join my group. Move on Most of the time when it’s a student who brings up your business, it’s because they want to either get a rise out of you or get you off topic.  Confirm that you have a blog so they know you’re not embarrassed about it, then carry on. If it’s a coworker or admin, simply tell them you don’t use school time to talk business… and carry on. Celebrate With all the stuff on the internet, your blog got found! It’s easy to miss this fact in the moment when a student is asking about your blog… but this is a good sign.  Your students or coworkers might not be your target audience, but the fact that you are being found and read by people other than your relatives and college roommate means that you are becoming more discoverable by everyone online. So once you’re past the initial “oh crap” moment, do a little happy dance! In order to make money online you have to be found by people. Sometimes that means people you wish wouldn’t find you.  But don’t let the possibility of feeling awkward for 30-60 seconds stop you from building something great. Teacher Blog Academy can help you get your blog up and running and making money faster and easier by following our 5 Step Roadmap. Learn more here.
To Guest Post or Not to Guest Post
18-09-2022
To Guest Post or Not to Guest Post
Guest posting, also called guest blogging, is a process in which a blogger creates content for another site in order to build backlinks, expand their audience, and strengthen their authority.  Early on in the world of blogging, guest posts were a hugely popular way to increase your search engine optimization (SEO) and grow an audience. In fact, anyone could write a 300-word post, share it on any other site, and boost their blog’s standing. It didn’t even have to be a good post. However, in recent years Google (and other search engines) have updated their algorithms to limit the abuse of guest posts. These days posts need to be both well-written and useful, but also relevant to the blog on which they’re posted… and the site should be in good standing, too. Still, guest blogging can be a valuable experience if you do it right. What are the Benefits of Guest Blogging? Broaden your audience. A guest post can get your ideas in front of new people, ideally those who will click over to your site and become loyal, raving fans.  Tip: Include a strong call to action in guest posts, and links to other posts on your site (if permitted). Increase your traffic. When you bring more people into your world, the traffic to your site increases. The return on increased traffic is (usually) proportionate with the amount of traffic the site you’re guest posting on gets. B Tip: Look for established sites that accept guest posts to get the most bang for your buck. Build SEO cred. When search engines rank your website, they consider a number of factors - thousands, actually - and backlinks are one such factor. A backlink is any link to your site from another.  Tip: Consider the authority of the sites you’re guest blogging on.  Strengthen your authority. When you are granted permission to blog on another person’s site, it is an implicit endorsement of you and your business. You are borrowing the authority of the site owner because their audience trusts them to curate quality posts. Tip: Look for bloggers who’ve built a loyal audience who trust their guidance. Expand your web online presence. The more places you are online, the more likely you are to be found by those you can help. Guest blogging provides more access points to you and your content. Tip: Target your guest blogging efforts on sites that serve similar audiences to yours. When You Should Pass on Guest Posting With all those reasons to guest post, it seems like a no-brainer, right? Not so fast.  Not all guest blogging opportunities are created equal. You need to closely evaluate prospect separately and make sure that the post you spend your precious time and energy creating is going to provide the benefits above. Spam sites. The internet is littered with sites that provide little-to-no value and gain traffic by simply pumping out a constant flow of mediocre content. You don’t want to be featured on those sites.  There once was a time when a site was a site, and Google hadn’t really figured out the difference, but those days are long gone. Search engines now rank sites for quality using an insane number of metrics. They also rank links leading from one site to another, so creating anything for those content mills isn’t going to do much except waste your time. Too close to your products/ services. You don’t want to guest post for a blog who serves the exact same market in the same way you do, especially if they’re highly established and monetized. The blogs you post on should be related to yours, serving a similar audience, but in a different way. For example, a minimalism coach could work with a home decor blogger (think: How to Embrace Minimalism Without Making Your Home Look Sparse), or a classroom management blogger could partner with a Responsive Classroom blogger (think: 10 Morning Meetings to Reinforce Classroom Routines). You’d neglect your own blog. As a part-time blogger, you have to be careful about giving too much time away at the expense of your own blog. Guest blogging takes time - you have to do your research, pitch the blogger whose site you want to contribute to, and then you have to write a truly kick-ass post that will inspire their followers to click over to your site and find awesome stuff.  If life is too crazy to take all that on AND write a weekly post for your own blog, put a pin in guest blogging until the next vacation. How to Find the Best Sites to Blog For (for your blog) Research. Do your homework before making contact with any bloggers. First, see if they accept guest posts. If not, and they’re an established blogger, it’s likely their policy not to permit others to share on their site. You can try to reach out anyway, but don’t hold your breath. You also want to look at the types of posts they share. If they are a step-by-step how-to website, you want to match your proposed guest blogs to that. Finally, spend some time looking at what has already been written about on their site. Nothing will kill your chances at guest blogging like suggesting post ideas that are already on their blog. Find a Peripheral Blogger. As mentioned above, the best blogs to write for are ones that serve your audience in a different way than you do. This allows you to offer content that’s of use to the site’s owner, but also guides them towards your blog. Consider niches that are one level broader or more niched down than yours. For example, sustainable living and bee keeping, natural lawn care, canning food, or even alternative energy. Or mom lifestyle and mindful parenting, meal prep, calendar management, money saving tips for families, or homeschooling. Consider the benefit (for both of you). A guest post should provide an upside for both the contributor and the site owner. Before you start planning a post, think about what you hope to gain from sharing on this particular site. Of the many benefits I mentioned above, which are your biggest priorities, and does this site provide opportunities to meet those goals? Similarly, when asking other bloggers to borrow their blog space, you have to answer the question, “What’s in it for me?” What can you provide for their audience that they can’t? If you’ve done a thorough job finding someone who writes about a connected, but divergent, topic to yours, this will be easier to come up with. At the end of the day, being a guest on someone else’s blog can be a fabulous opportunity, when done right. But it’s not the quick and easy path that some purport. It takes time and effort, and remember that any post you write for another blog should be your A+ stuff.  Only you can decide whether or not this is a good fit for you at this time. Please note: Side Hustle Teacher is not accepting guest posts at this time.
4 Traits of an Ideal Side Hustle for Teachers… and why I chose blogging
29-08-2022
4 Traits of an Ideal Side Hustle for Teachers… and why I chose blogging
Once you tell people you’re thinking of starting a side business, you will find yourself presented with all sorts of opportunities. In fact, one of the most frequently asked questions in the Side Hustle Teachers Facebook group is, “what should I do for a side hustle?” And believe me when I tell you, if you post that question, you will get hundreds of responses. In reality, there’s more to picking a business model than just picking something other people have found success with, especially for busy teachers. Over my 10 years of blogging, coaching other teachers, and running a Facebook group of thousands I’ve found that those who are successful not only think carefully about what they’d like to do, but also how their side hustle will work with their teaching lives.  I’ve determined that there are 4 traits a side hustle must have in order to work for educators.  Let’s dig in! 1. Makes Use of Your Teacher Skills Teachers have a ridiculous amount of skills. Beyond the obvious ability to explain difficult concepts to young people, there are countless other skills required to navigate a classroom. Think about the organization, planning, and preparation for each lesson. Consider your communication skills; being able to create analogies out of thin air, talking upset kids off a ledge… or their parents! Let’s face it. You have mad skills. That said, teachers have a difficult time identifying their skills because we’re too close. We also tend to overlook innate gifts and natural talents because we think they don’t count. A skills assessment tool might be able to help you pinpoint not only what skills you possess, but those you enjoy utilizing. After all, when you start a side hustle, it should be something you enjoy doing! The reason this is so important is because building a business requires so much new learning on its own. There’s tech stuff, jargon, and other industry-specific stuff you’ll need to develop. If your side hustle itself is also something new to you, you’re going to struggle… way more than you need to.  Find a hustle that builds on skills you already have AND (I would add) something you love to do. So even if your friend swears that anyone can make a million dollars with their food based-company, it might not be a great fit for you if your idea of workin’ it in the kitchen is cleaning up the takeout containers. For me, blogging was a perfect fit because I’m a strong communicator, I’m organized and good at breaking concepts down into bite-sized pieces for my readers, and as a hard-core introvert I prefer to work alone and without a set schedule. I am very self-motivated and I like to help people, so… blogging! 2. Allows You to Work When and Where You Want I know there are people out there that think teachers work a few hours a day and have tons of time off… but they’re idiots and we know better. So let’s just acknowledge that teacher’s schedules are insane, definitely extend beyond the school day, and are often unpredictable. (Like when you plan to leave at 3:30 one day, but can’t because a couple kids decided to act up, so now you’re at school calling parents and writing reports until 5. Ugh.) Knowing that, building a side hustle that is not dependent on me showing up at a particular time is a big priority for the teachers in the Side Hustle Teachers community. The ability to work on your own schedule is one thing I’ve found is key to the success of a teacher’s side hustle. But not just that, being able to work from wherever you are is equally important. For example, I’m writing this post from the lobby at my daughter’s gymnastics class. This just happens to be an hour I have free and is perfect for writing… but I’m not at home. Thankfully, we live in the time of the laptop and wifi. I don’t need to be holed up in my office to get stuff done. 3. Be Your Own Boss Teachers have enough bosses. We have principals, assistant principals, team leaders, department heads, instructional coaches, superintendents… and let’s not forget parents who like to boss us around, and (more and more lately) their children who do the same. When you’re looking to start a side hustle, the last thing you need is another person telling you what you can and can’t do, how to do it, and when you have to get it done. One of the things Side Hustle Teachers find most valuable is the ability to run their business how they see fit. This is an extension of being able to work when and where you want, because as your own boss, you can also choose what you’re going to work on, and what you’re going to ignore. Unlike teaching, which has a million tasks that you’d rather not do, if you don’t want to dance around and point at things on Instagram for your business, you don’t have to.  Does that mean you won’t have to do anything groan-worthy for your business? Sadly, no. Even if you’re not big on budgets, you still have to run your numbers. However, there’s a lot more flexibility of what “have to” do, AND who has to do them.  Yes! You can outsource things you don’t want to do. As a blogger, I get to choose what I write about, and who I get to serve. When I wanted to narrow my focus from side hustles in general to blogging, I just did it. I get to show up for my group on Facebook and ignore TikTok. If I want to sell physical products someday, I can do it, with no restrictions from a company or boss. 4. You Can Earn Multiple Streams of Income The average millionaire has at least 7 streams of income. The average teacher has 1. Why is this important? Well, earning money through multiple sources means that you not only have money coming in from different places, it provides added security in case one of those streams dries up. When it comes to a side hustle, it’s important to choose one that will allow you to build multiple streams of income. It doesn’t have to all happen at once - in fact, it’s probably best that it doesn’t - but you should be able to see a clear path to earning in several ways. For example, if you start out selling your time through a coaching service, can you think of some physical products you could offer in the future, or a course… or adding another product? Here’s the thing about multiple streams of income as a teacher; You want to make your various streams of income flow through a single business.  This is key. You are a busy teacher. You don’t have time to run multiple businesses! And if I’m being totally honest, even if you had time, it’s not a good strategy to have several unrelated businesses. With my blog I earn money through ads, occasional private coaching, my courses, like the Teacher Blog Academy, and affiliate marketing. (Blogging provides for other revenue streams, too, that I choose not to utilize.) And everything is managed, marketed, and integrated with my blog, so I don’t have to try to juggle 4 separate businesses. The nice thing about many of these sources of revenue is that they are passive. I don’t have to be involved in the sales or delivery in order to make money.  Ads are placed on my site, and I make money when people see and click on them. I created my courses once, and make continuous money as people buy them. I add affiliate links to my content and on social media, and earn commission when people buy something through them. Side note: When I was on a recent vacation, standing in line for a ride, I got a notification that someone had bought a course - now that’s passive income! Teachers need to think carefully about which side hustle they choose. There are a lot of opportunities around, but not all of them are a good fit for educators. For me, blogging was an easy choice. It checked all the boxes above, and has proved to be a perfect fit for myself and my family. If you’re ready to learn more about blogging for money, check out my free training, Profitable Blogging for Teachers.
When You Should Rebrand Your Blog... and when you shouldn't
21-08-2022
When You Should Rebrand Your Blog... and when you shouldn't
When you’re first building your blog, you’ll make some design choices about the aesthetic of your site. You’ll choose colors and fonts, and maybe a simple logo, and you’ll run with it. But at some point along your journey, you’re going to decide that everything about your site is wrong. You’ll decide that your colors are hideous and your fonts are unreadable, your logo is annoying… and maybe even the name of your site is all wrong. This is normal. It happens to everyone. The truth is that your site will need a refresh every now and then, and it’s good to do so. People expect modern designs and functionality, and in order to provide that, you have to update things. But, you shouldn’t give in to every urge to rebrand your site.  While it’s a completely normal desire, and an occasionally necessary thing to do, sometimes - oftentimes - there are better things to do with your time. When NOT to Rebrand I would argue that in 9 cases out of 10, especially if you’re in your first year of blogging, you should not rebrand your site. In those early years there is almost always something more productive you can do with your time (or money, if you’re paying for the rebrand). Here are some of the most common wrong reasons for starting a rebrand I see in students and clients. And let me just state for the record… I have done all of these things.  You’re Bored.  As you’re starting your blog, there will be lots of things to be done - big and little - and it will feel like you’re never going to finish. But you will. And then you’ll find yourself with more time on your hands… and it will feel wrong.  But being bored, or feeling like you have too much free time isn’t a good reason to shake things up. Instead, take this extra time and dedicate it to tasks that will grow your revenue.  Get your content lined up for the next few weeks. Craft some social media posts to bring more people to your page. Network with other bloggers. Create a freebie to get people on your email list. Promote your paid offer (if you have one) or an affiliate item. Or just enjoy having some extra time! One of the great things about blogging is that it doesn’t require you to hustle and grind every minute. You can take it easy! Changing your colors or even the name of your site isn’t going to make you any more money.  You’re Avoiding Doing Something Uncomfortable Think about the list of things above. Does the idea of doing any of those things make you want to hide? Well, the digital equivalent of hiding is tinkering with your website. The thing is that rebranding feels productive. You do X and something happens on your website. Instant gratification! Not only does reaching out to other bloggers feel scary - you have to put yourself out there - but there’s no instant payoff. It takes time to build relationships and figure out how to build a genuine, mutually beneficial partnership.  When you create a freebie as an offer to entice people onto your email list, it takes time for them to discover it and sign up. Then you have to email them! Again, putting yourself out there. I get it. But your blog will not grow if you don’t step outside your comfort zone.  You’re Sabotaging Yourself This is a sneaky one because we often don’t realize this is what we’re doing. The desire to rebrand our site often sneaks up on us just as we get the pieces of our business into place and all we have to do is continue executing our game plan. Sabotage is the cousin of boredom, because it often occurs after we complete a big project, meet a big goal, or finally create a kick-ass strategy to move your business to the next level.  This is when the urge to break everything hits us. I found myself in a self-sabotage moment very recently and actually called on my coach to talk me off the ledge. I launched Teacher Blog Academy in April, created a free training to drive people to TBA, and updated my nurture sequence (and have a VA working on it from this point on).  I had checked off all the items on my list, and had a long-term strategy in place… so naturally I started thinking about blowing it all up. Not literally of course, but in the past my go-to move would be to either create something new (i.e. a new course or program) - which I don’t want to do for many reasons - or take my site apart and redo it. This time, however, I scheduled a call with my coach and we figured out what tasks will actually move my business forward the way I want it to work… without me breaking my site! I know it sounds absurd, but fear of success is a very real thing, and it sneaks up on you when you least expect it.  So before you start to “fix” your brand colors, fonts, blog name, overall niche, etc. check in with yourself to make sure you’re not simply bored, avoiding the uncomfortable (yet productive) tasks, or trying to sabotage yourself before you reach the next level. When You Should Rebrand Now that we’ve gone over all the reasons you should leave your site the heck alone, let’s talk about when a rebrand is appropriate. Web design doesn’t change as frequently as fashion, but your site should evolve with the times and reflect the fact that you are a modern blogger. Does that mean you have to jump on every trend that comes out? Absolutely not. Just keep in mind that websites, like spaces in your home, can get dated. And whether it’s fair or not, people will disregard advice from those they don’t see as “current.” In order to avoid the pitfalls above and make sure that your rebrand is actually a good use of your time, I recommend giving yourself a rebrand timeline. Decide in advance when you’re going to update your site so that when you find yourself bored, or procrastinating, you already know rebranding is off limits. 1-2 Year Refresh Every couple of years schedule yourself some time to do a brand refresh. This does not mean choosing new colors, fonts, and completely redoing everything about your site. This is a good time to update your graphics templates, maybe choose a new script font, and update your professional photographs. Look for some minor tweaks you can make to the look and functionality of your site that will make a better experience for your readers and be more aesthetically pleasing, but don’t require you to take a sledgehammer to your site. Consider this the web equivalent of giving a room a facelift with some new paint and a trip to Home Goods for decor items. You’re not going to be using power tools, but your time in the room will be elevated when you’re done. 5-8 Year Full Rebrand Occasionally - like once every several years - you’re going to want to make some major upgrades to your branding and website. To be clear, if you like your brand colors, etc., there’s no requirement to change them. Recently Denise Duffield-Thomas, my money mentor, updated her branding and the basic palette stayed the same. Instead of going for a completely new look, she shifted her aesthetics to center more on the deeper blue tone in her established brand colors, and added a peachy accent color. This is also a time for you to update your website by refreshing the structure and setup of your pages, and modernize the user interfaces, menus, etc. This is an extensive project and can take quite a bit of time and/or money to complete, so it’s not something I recommend often.  If we go back to our home analogy, this is a major renovation that will disrupt your life (business).  Side note: When you complete a full rebrand, you have to decide whether or not to go back and update the graphics for old content. In my opinion, if you have chosen a new palette for your site, it’s suggested to update, which means recreating social media and blog graphics for all your old posts. If you’ve simply refreshed your existing palette, no need to create new graphics for old content. The Bottom Line Unless your site is literally turning readers off and making them leave in disgust, there are better ways to spend your time than playing with colors and whether your menu should be centered or left justified.  Be honest with yourself about whether or not you're simply trying to make yourself feel busy or avoiding tasks that give you butterflies.  Most of the time, your site is just fine. Use your time to create great content, build relationships, and market yourself to grow your audience. When it’s time to update, do as little as possible. Yes, I just said that. Do as little work on your website and branding as possible.  Want to get your site off on the right foot? Check out Teacher Blog Academy! We’ll not only get your blog built right, there are bonus modules on choosing your colors and fonts and how to create a simple logo!
Banishing Teacher Money Blocks with Denise Duffield-Thomas
07-08-2022
Banishing Teacher Money Blocks with Denise Duffield-Thomas
We are so lucky to have Denise Duffield-Thomas back with us this week for round two, talking about money blocks that hold teachers back from making money outside of teaching. Of course, there's not a lot we can do about our teaching salaries - that's pretty much set in, well, not stone, but contract -  but we can help ourselves make money in other ways.  Denise says it’s understandable that teachers have a tough time making money from a side hustle because we’ve always been part of a system in which money has always been connected to time. We go to work, we get paid for the time we were there. If we want to make more money, we take on extra duties, which require more time.  And it’s not just teaching! Historically, unless you were very wealthy and owned lots of real estate or a factory, or something like that, money has always equaled time. You showed up to a physical location, you put in a certain amount of hours, or you made a pacific amount of widgets, and you got paid a set amount of money.  This is the “law” of work that most of us have grown up with, and we accept it like we accept gravity. So today we feel weird about the fact that we can create a resource one time and people can buy it over and over again. Of course, we’ve seen this work for other people. We’ve bought courses or ebooks and we know it works and we have a kernel of hope that we can do that, too. But deep down in our subconscious brain, we feel like we’re breaking the natural “law” of money. Denise says she experienced this money block with her first passive income source, a $10 ebook.  “I felt like I had to call them and read it to them over the phone to earn that $10, because I was like, but I didn't earn it. Not realizing that it's a closed loop. I created something of value. Somebody received that value. They gave me money from it. It is a complete relationship. It has been fulfilled. There's not an opening then for me to have to do more work. And it just takes a little while for us to reconcile with that. Not only because of the time that we grew up in, for those of us who had an analog childhood and are now living in digital adulthood. But it's also because most of our friends and family are still in that world of work.” Teaching is very much a time for dollars model. You show up to school, you get paid for it. But while you’re there they take every ounce of what you have - between the kids, the admin, and the parents - so how can you possibly come home and make more money? According to Denise, we first need to have compassion for ourselves and understand that we’re sort of like space explorers in the sense that we’re learning and making the rules of this new world of work as we go. We also need to have appreciation for the value we’re providing through our blogs, even though we’re not delivering that value in the traditional teacher-in-front-of-a-class model we’re all used to. Our blog posts, digital resources, courses, etc. are saving someone time, effort, and money… and that’s valuable. Denise has a mantra she uses when she finds herself getting into a time-for-dollars tailspin; I serve, I deserve. It’s a reminder that the information and experience she shares have value, and that earning money or other opportunities through her work is valid. This can also be a helpful mantra when your boundaries are being tested.  I serve, I deserve my lunch breakI serve, I deserve to be paid for running that after school clubI serve, I deserve to take the weekend for myself and my family and not do schoolwork Another money block that teachers often face is the ingrained belief that teacher = poor. This block can be insidious because we often don’t realize how it can hold us back in business and actually repel money from our lives. One of Denise’s favorite exercises for this money block is to stand in front of the mirror and say to yourself, “This is what a wealthy woman looks like.” And you can change the self-descriptor as needed. You can be a wealthy teacher, or single mom, or coach, or LGBT+ person…  What’s really interesting is what comes through your mind after saying those words.  “It's going to feel so weird for a long time even saying those words, because we are so conditioned that they cannot coexist. Wealthy teacher - ha!”  “I did this exercise for myself at the very, very start of my journey. And I remember just thinking no, and listening to those voices going, but you are not wealthy because you are this, this and this. And just listening to that chatter is actually very, very valuable because you'll find things that are big. So you'll be like, oh, I'm just not destined to be wealthy, or I'm not allowed to, or I'm not ambitious enough or I'm too lazy, but then you'll find these little ones, like I was like, but you are too short to be wealthy.” “And I was like, ‘Where did that come from?’ But it's really fascinating to listen to. And then I was like, Madonna's my height. Okay. I'm five foot four. I'm just average. But, I remember having a very tall friend who would always talk about people's heights and say, ‘They'll never make it in show business, they're too short. Or they'll never, they'll never make it in politics, they're too short.’ And I internalized this.” “You might have stories about your accent, about the color of your skin, about your hair. I've heard people say I can't be wealthy and have curly hair. They've been told, ‘You're so cute. Look at you with your Shirley temple things.’ And so they've internalized that thinking. ‘Well, I'm just a cute little baby. I'm not allowed to make money. And that's it. You don't even realize those stories are there until you allow them to come up and then you just go, ‘Wow, that's interesting.’” If left unchallenged, these subconscious beliefs will lead us to sabotage our businesses. When I was first starting out, every time my blog would level up in income, I’d find a way to get in the way.  One day I decided my blog design wasn’t contemporary enough, so I took the whole thing apart and rebuilt it. Another time I decided my brand colors needed to be updated, so I spent a couple weeks looking for the colors that were “perfect” for my brand. According to Denise, this is a really common sabotage, she calls procrasti-branding (i.e. procrastinating by obsessing over your branding). “I'll tell you what's really helped me, because I have ADHD. I am an entrepreneur. I'm a creative person. So of course I have shiny objects syndrome as well. I'm a Virgo. I totally understand perfectionism, but what I usually do is try and make it public. If I've got a deadline, I'll magically create more time and space and get it done. And I was like that at school. I was like that at university. I'm like that as an entrepreneur. So I'll set a deadline and say, ‘Hey guys, this is when this course is gonna come out, join the waitlist.’ I'll pre-sell something. So I'll have to do it.” “Sometimes you need reverse psychology, like a little kid and you go, ‘I bet you couldn't put all your books away by the time I count to 10,’ and they go, ‘Yeah, I can!’ Sometimes you have to treat your own self like that, of going, ‘I bet I couldn't create a course in a month. Like nobody could do that.’ All right.” Shiny object syndrome is another way entrepreneurs sabotage themselves. We often feel like we have to offer more - make more freebies, create another course - because other people are doing it. And sometimes, let’s be honest, we get bored and want to do something different, even if what we’re doing now is working. When Denise finds herself wanting to add more, do more, be more, she reminds herself of the purpose of her business and that “All roads lead to Money Bootcamp.” In other words, she can create another freebie, but it has to lead people into a funnel that leads them towards Bootcamp.  I’ve adopted this mantra myself to keep me from creating new courses - all roads lead to Teacher Blog Academy. It’s not only okay, it’s highly recommended to keep your business simple! One of the ways both Denise and I keep things simple is by batching. Whether you created a piece of content the day before or two years ago, people are still getting the same value from it. Denise says, “People say to me, ‘It's cheating.’ I say it was real when I created it. And when someone consumes it, none of my business. It has to come at a time that's right for them.” We also need to remember to keep things simple for our audience and students, too. A while back Denise noted that her refund rates for Money Bootcamp were going up and she realized it was because she had put too much into the program. “I would add a video on forgiveness as a money practice. But then I was like, here's a video of Oprah talking about forgiveness. And here's a book that this person wrote about forgiveness, and here's a whole lecture. And so people were joining and looking and going, ‘I have to watch four videos for that module and all of those books?!’ And that was all of the modules had those extra bonuses. And in my mind, I was like, ‘Of course you don't,’ but I'd created this open loop for people. And they felt like they couldn't win. They felt like they had to tick it all off. And they were, ‘I don't have time to do this course!’” “So we stripped everything out and then people were saying, ‘Oh my God, Denise, the course is so rich!’ And I'm like, I felt so guilty cuz I was like, I stripped all this stuff out, but it was because I was trying to cover everything.” “And I used to do that on my blog. My first blog had nine tabs, and it was Health and Wellness, Law of Attraction, Career and Money… And I was trying to do all of those things all at the same time. And you end up speaking to nobody. And it can be very, very overwhelming. So it's just so much better if you just go simple, simple, simple. You don't need to solve all the problems of your client's life stage forever.” And teachers are basically trained to give more and more and more. We do it for the kids. We just do it because it's our job. We work beyond contract hours. You know the latest estimate is that the average teacher works 70 hours a week and you know, it's just ingrained. Denise asks how we can use our teacher brains to help keep things simple. “If you had a kindergarten class, you are not trying to teach them kindy, first, second, third, fourth grade math all at the same time, because that would be ridiculous. Yet we try and do that with our clients and go, ‘Okay, well I'm gonna solve this problem, but I'm gonna solve all of these problems that they might have in the future that aren't even a problem yet.’ So I think that's a really good distinction. It wouldn't be like that in teaching, so why do I think I have to do this in my business?” The final piece to Denise’s simple business strategy is her 2-step marketing formula. “Share what you know, and make offers. And it really is that simple. I have a marketing degree. I've been in this world for a long time, the internet marketing world, and I've geeked out on funnels and automation and deadlines and countdowns and stuff. I love a good funnel. It's so much fun, but I can get really in a tease about it because I think it has to be like that or nothing.”  “And so I realize sometimes that we are really good at the sharing part. And I see so many people writing beautiful newsletters and creating content on social media. They're writing blogs. They're giving, giving, giving, and you would never think they had anything to sell. And all you have to do is just say, here's the next step.” “So every newsletter; If you liked this, here's the next step. If you liked this tip, I've got a whole template for you. If you liked this tip, don't worry, I've done the hard work for you. Join my thing.”  “And when in doubt, sell an hour of your time. If you liked this but you're a bit confused, book in for one of my pick your brain sessions. And it is that simple.” “And I know this has worked because I used to have this freebie that I started 12 years ago, Seven Money Blocks. And I did it as a live webinar, and I just turned it into a freebie and I just remember thinking, ‘Oh, it's a bit crackly. It's a bit too long. It needs to be edited.’ But I just thought ‘I'll put it up there.’’  “I wanted to unpublish it so many times, but it was published.” “And then I remember getting the stats for it, for it. 23,000 people had listened to it and I was just like, ‘Wow, 23,000 people! Thank God I just left it there!’ But I mentioned at the end, I was like, ‘Look, if you want my help with your money blocks, I have a Money Boot Camp. I'll put the link below. If you're interested, come and join.’ That was the extent of the sales pitch.” “I literally just said, ‘I've got this thing if you want it. And I'll put the link below.’ And 1% of people went ahead and bought bootcamp because I had just made it available for them. And I mean, I'm not good with math, but what's 1% of  23,000 people? It's a lot more than zero. Yeah and at $2,000 a pop.”  “It doesn't have to be sleazy. You're not asking people for a kidney. You're saying, ‘If you liked this, I've got this thing that can help,’ and that's all you need. And then you can add funnels and you can do all the sexy things later. I find that I never get around to the sexy things, and I keep on making money.” You can get Denise’s new book, Chill and Prosper, on Amazon now. In it she shares her own stories, as well as new case studies of her students.
Developing an Abundance Mindset with Denise Duffield-Thomas
31-07-2022
Developing an Abundance Mindset with Denise Duffield-Thomas
This week is special because I’m joined by money mentor, Denise Duffield-Thomas and we’re talking about 2 things that teachers find challenging; maintaining an abundance mindset and applying that to pricing for your business Abundance is something that teachers struggle with in many ways. There never seems to be enough… anything.  Not enough supplies.  Not enough time.  And certainly not enough money. We feel stretched in a million directions and there’s not even enough us to go around. And of course, most teachers enter the profession with that understanding, particularly around money, as we discussed in How Teaching is Keeping You Broke. Denise Duffield-Thomas, author of Chill and Prosper and my money mentor, says, that's what teachers get told. We say to ourselves, “While you're in it for the right reasons, you're in it because you love teaching. You love kids. It's almost like, well, if you love what you do, you shouldn't get paid for it.”  Obviously that’s a bullshit excuse… …Derek Jeter loved playing baseball, but no one thought anything of him earning $12 million a year from it. …Lady Gaga loves making music, and no one batted an eye when she earned $100 million dollars from a 2-year Las Vegas residency. So, yeah. Bullshit. But, as Denise points out,  the amazing opportunity that we have now for teachers is that they can develop side hustles, that they can create abundance for themselves, so they can recapture their love of the profession until the salary catches up. However, our misbeliefs about money often carry over into our side hustles, leading us to under-charge (or not charge at all), and even repel money because we feel bad about earning it. Instead we say we “just want to help people,” as though you can’t help people and make money at the same time. Denise points out that teachers aren’t the only ones who struggle with this money block. A student of hers helps people with postpartum, pelvic floor yoga and believes deeply that everyone should have access to it, so she under-charges or gives away her services for free. Another student is a pet photographer who says, “But I love dogs so much, I’d do this for free!” And that’s great to love what you do that much, but you don’t have to do it for free. Additionally, society frequently reflects these “if you really cared” beliefs back to us.  Have you ever been asked to do something for no pay, “for the kids?” I know I have! Have you ever been offered or given something of no monetary value as a thank you for going above and beyond? Like a jeans pass? Or a mention during morning announcements? That’s all fine, but a jeans pass isn’t going to pay for my kid’s gymnastics class (and I wear yoga pants every day anyway), and a thank you won’t fill my gas tank. Or has anyone ever referred to your work (at school or in business) as selfless?  That’s not really a compliment, you know. According to Denise, there’s often another layer to this money block that makes it particularly hard to clear, and that’s the idea that we have to give up something in order to become a person who makes money. Do any of these resonate with you? I can make money or be a good motherI can make money or be ethicalI can make money or be very caringI can make money or I can be down to earthI can be a godly woman or I can make moneyI can be a good teacher and care about my students, or I can be an entrepreneur Instead, try to embrace the power of and. I can make money and be a good personI can make, make money and take care of the earthI can make money and be a nurturerI can make money and I can be the same person I’ve always beenI can be a spiritual person and I can make moneyI can be a present, engaged teacher and I can be an entrepreneur This often shows up in the Side Hustle Teachers group when it comes to pricing products and services. There are frequent posts about how much to charge for tutoring, or a course, or VA services… In today’s interview Denise says, “This is across the board of all industries, to be honest. And I think it's tricky, especially if you've had a job or come from a profession where salaries are kind of just set. It's not like if you work really hard, you know, the department of education goes, wow, let's, let's pay you so much more. It just doesn't happen.”  “But we know that often in the corporate world, women don't negotiate either. Right? And so what I find is that when people then go into entrepreneurship, they're just adrift because they go, ‘I have to put a value on’ and we take it so personally, even though in our jobs, they didn't take our personal value into consideration either. They seem to just pick a number arbitrarily.” “But we somehow then take it really personally because we think that the number we choose makes us look like we believe something about ourselves.” “And so it's like, ‘Oh, you think you're so great. You are putting this figure on yourself,’ and that's not true. We're just putting a price on the value that we can offer to someone. And we know as well, that pricing is marketing. Pricing can be positioning. Pricing can be this made up construct because price is different for our customers. Sometimes people are suspicious if things are too cheap, sometimes things look better if they're more expensive.”  “It's one of those weird things that we sometimes can't get our head around that pricing is this, this made up thing. And so what I often say to people is you have to, you have to figure out your pricing. You can't ask other people.  “And this is the tricky thing. When you, when you pull together entrepreneurs and people go, ”How much should I charge for this?” it's just this collective money block situation where people could be in different states, countries, professions, and they still ask each other.”  “But also it has to be personal because when you are the one who has to work with your clients, you are the one who has to fulfill that service. And if it's not energetically win-win, you will feel resentful. I'm sure you've experienced it. I know I have. I have, you can feel it, right?” The answer to which is a resounding “YES!” If there's one thing that teachers understand, it's that there's no way to make everybody happy, and no matter what you do, someone will complain. So the question then becomes, how does someone who has been told their entire career (and sometimes through their childhood) when they decided to become a teacher that they are never going to make any money, that they're never going to be given what they're worth - and their paycheck reflects that - start to just pick a number?  “Just start with an arbitrary number. So if it's something that's, you know, under a hundred dollars, you could start with $10 and just go, how does that feel? And then go, how would $20 feel? And you could write it down, have a look at it. How would $30? So you might go up in 10.”  “If you're charging in multiples of hundreds, you could start at a hundred and go up…  same with more… start with a thousand and go up.”  “And what you're looking for, it sounds very unscientific, but it actually does work. You're looking for that number that goes, oh, oh, oh, oh, uh, okay. That's the number you're looking for! (But I have used random number generators, which you can just find online and say should I charge 59 or 79 or 89 or 99?)” When I first started private coaching I radically undercharged and I found myself resenting every minute with those clients. I actually felt icky - like I was being taken advantage of by my own pricing. What helped me was visualization. In my head I’d imagine a new client who paid $X (a little bit more each time). I visualized each piece of the process from getting the reminder on my phone to getting on the Zoom call, to the actual coaching, note taking, summary writing, 2-week follow-up emails… the whole thing.  In the end, it wasn’t until I quadrupled my original rate that I felt good through the entire process. So that’s what I did. Denise, whose business earned over $4 million last year, went through similar trials. “I would get requests for speaking and they'd say, ‘Oh, what's your rate?’ and I'd go, ‘What's your budget?’ And then they would say, ‘Oh, $500.’ And I was like, ‘Oh, what a coincidence! That's my rate!’ because I had no idea what to charge.” “And I realized that when you don't charge that win-win pricing [the extras have] gotta come from somewhere, and it was coming from my life force energy. And you have to learn from that.” “And I mean, teachers are great at this. You see people who've been in the industry for a long time. They can be absolutely in that martyr energy, you know, and they can be bitter and resentful. And that's where I was heading to, instead of just going, no, I have to stop this because it's just eating you up inside and that's not good. That's not good at all.” Next week Denise is going to be back with more great mindset shifts all about keeping your business simple, and embracing the idea of “good enough” when it comes to building a sustainable income. For now, go grab her updated book, Chill and Prosper: The New Way to Grow Your Business, Make Millions, and Change the World. Once you’ve got it, go to DeniseDT.com to claim your bonuses!
11 Ways to Boost Your Blog Post SEO
19-06-2022
11 Ways to Boost Your Blog Post SEO
SEO, when implemented properly over time, can provide a major boost to your blog traffic and your overall income. For each blog post you write, you need to have a clear, repeatable, SEO process to make certain that you’re maximizing search engines. Follow the steps below to fully optimize every blog post you create. Strategies for improving every post’s SEO 1. Write for Your Target Audience It’s tempting to try to write posts that appeal to a broad audience - because you don’t want to limit the number of people you reach - but focusing on your target audience is key to building strong SEO. Knowing who you’re writing for, as specifically as possible, will allow you to craft content that addresses their needs, uses their language, and meets their expectations. 2. Do Keyword Research Find out what your ideal audience is searching for so that you can provide content that answers their questions, and include the search terms strategically in your post. (more on this below). An easy way to do this is to enter a search term into Google and look in 3 places.  Search Autofill. When you start typing your search term, Google will provide options to complete your search. These options are based on your own search history, but also common searches done by others. People Also Ask. Below the first couple of search results you’ll find 3-5 other questions that other people with your inquiry have asked.  Related Searches. At the bottom of each page Google provides additional searches that others have done that are similar to what you’ve searched for. I also recommend that you install a free Chrome extension called Keywords Everywhere. It will provide additional insights on keywords, including long-tail keywords.  A long-tail keyword looks more like a sentence than a typical 1-2 word keyword. For example, if the keyword is “pool cleaning” the long-tail keyword might be “how to start a pool cleaning business.” 3. Add Images Images themselves don’t have a direct impact on SEO, they do increase the likelihood that your post will be clicked on, which increases SEO. Be sure to use or create images for your posts that are related to the content in every post. 4. Craft a Great Title Post titles, sometimes called headlines, not only impact your SEO, but they’re also a massive factor in whether or not potential readers click on your post. A great post title clearly states what the post is about, asks a question, and/ or creates curiosity in the reader. As I mentioned in the previous post, I recommend using a free tool called Headline Analyzer to create the best possible title. 5. Include Internal Links When ranking content, Google weighs the trustworthiness of websites and individual blog posts. One factor in this measure is how many other pages link to your content as a source. While links from other sites are considered to be more beneficial, links from your own posts also help.  When appropriate, link to other posts you’ve written. 6. Use Keywords Strategically For each post you’re going to determine a primary keyword. This keyword (or short phrase) should be used in specific places and ways to maximize your SEO return. Title. Your keyword should be included in the title of your post, preferably phrased the same way, but there is some flexibility. URL. Like the title, you want to format your url to include your keyword. Meta Description. If you installed the Yoast plugin I recommended last week, there is a space for you to create a meta description. This is the 160 character description that appears in search engine results. Headers. Not only do headers help organize your content and make it easier to read, they’re read by Google differently than the body of your post. Headings are assumed to be an outline of your ideas or key points. The largest header, known as H1, should include the post keyword. Typically WordPress sets your post title as H1, so if you’ve included the keyword in the title, that’s set. You can use the keyword in lower level headers as well. In content. Within the blog posts that you create, it’s beneficial for your blog post SEO to use your keyword. You can also use variations on that keyword - like those you’d find in a related search - and 1-2 long-tail keywords you discovered during your research. Image Names. When you upload images to WordPress, give each image a title that includes the keyword. This not only boosts SEO, it also makes finding images easier.  Additionally, when you insert an image into a post, be sure to include the keyword in the alt-tag (also called alt-text). 7. Stick to Your Niche Google doesn’t like to be confused. If the posts that you publish each week aren’t related to the niche you’ve chosen, it will negatively impact your SEO. When you stay on topic it serves to strengthen your authority with search engines. 8. Build Backlinks As your reach grows and you build relationships with other bloggers you will find your own blog posts being cited as a source for others. This builds your authority with search engines and helps them see you as a trusted source.  Even if others aren’t linking to you within their content, you can earn backlinks by guest posting or being featured on other websites.  Search engines also place higher value on backlinks from highly trusted sources, so choose your collaborators wisely. Strategies for improving your site’s SEO Try these tricks for getting more bang for your SEO buck site-wide. 9. Update Old Content If you’ve got content on your site that’s more than a year old, review it to see if any data needs to be updated, or if the content is still accurate. Depending on your niche, things can change quickly. You’ll also want to check for broken links or other links that don’t go where you want them to anymore. Use a free tool like this one to run a site-wide check. 10. Focus on Page Speed Search engines factor in your page’s speed when ranking your posts, but that’s not the only way speed can impact your SEO. Your bounce rate and the average length of time people spend on your page are also part of the algorithm, and they’re affected by page speed as well. Check out this post from HubSpot on how to improve your site speed.  11. Make Your Posts Mobile Friendly With society being increasingly dependent on our phones, is it any wonder that making every aspect of your site mobile-friendly is a necessity. If you have the Divi Theme on your website, be sure to use the tool that allows you to check what each page looks like on mobile devices. Remember that SEO takes time to have a measurable impact on your blog. If you put consistent effort in and focus on Rule #1 (provide value first), your audience, following, and income will grow! If you want to know how to build, grow, and start making money from your blog, check out Teacher Blog Academy. The only program created specifically for teachers, by a teacher, that will show you how to create a profitable blog! Learn more at teacherblogacademy.com
How to Start Optimizing Your Blog for Search Engines
12-06-2022
How to Start Optimizing Your Blog for Search Engines
Search Engine Optimization, SEO for short, is an essential piece of any blog growth strategy, but it generally has an air of mystery around it.  There are lots of definitions floating around - some that seem to contradict each other - that use a lot of buzzwords and tech-speak and don’t really clarify anything. Add to that the fact that SEO is a long-term strategy, and it gets even fuzzier. It can take months for SEO work to pay off, so there’s nothing we can even point to and say, “Aha! That’s SEO!” In this post I’m going to clarify what SEO is, and recommend some tools for getting started putting it to use. Why is SEO Important? There’s an old joke that says that if you want to hide a dead body, you should put it on the second page of Google. The point being that no one ever looks past page 1 of the search results, so if your site is there, it might as well be dead. I don’t know how much truth there is to that - when I’m researching I always go a few pages in to see more results - but I understand the sentiment.  Where you turn up in search results - also known as ranking in search engines - matters. People trust that Google is going to serve them the best possible answers to their queries. As a result,  most take the pages that show up on page 1 as gospel, and don’t bother to keep looking.  According to a 2018 survey, 90% of searchers will only click on the results on the first page. So while some intrepid foks, like myself, may look through several pages on our quest for information, most will not. In fact, the average person will enter a new search term before clicking to page 2. This means that the more of your blog posts and pages you can get in the top 10, the better. Enter SEO. What is Search Engine Optimization? According to Search Engine Land, SEO is the process of improving your site to increase its visibility when people search for products or services related to your business in Google, Bing, and other search engines.  The most common misconception about SEO is that it’s something you do once, like setting up your website, and then you’re done. This couldn’t be further from the truth. Search Engine Optimization is a process.  It never ends. The good news is that your SEO can be systematized so that you can embed this work into your blog writing process. In Teacher Blog Academy we cover this practice in Module 3: Grow.  And the even better news is that just having a blog and producing consistent content helps boost your SEO! How? Every blog post you publish becomes a new page on your website, with its own keyword, images, meta description, and data for search engines to crawl. As long as your content is within the scope of your niche, it will continually strengthen your SEO ranking. Google’s algorithm includes more than 200 factors, which is a ridiculous number of things to track. Here are the top 7: Quality of ContentMobile Responsive DesignUser ExperiencePage SpeedBlog Post OptimizationInternal LinksBacklinks Tools that Can Boost Your SEO Next week we’ll dive deeper into specific things you can do for each blog post to help it rank higher in search engines. For now, here are 4 tools you can use to build your search engine mojo. Yoast. This free plugin works on the backend of your website to assist you in optimizing your content and keywords.  Once you install it, a Yoast module will appear underneath each page and post on the backend of your site. This module provides you spaces to customize the title and description that will display on Google, social media sharing presets, and recommendations to improve discoverability and readability. Get Yoast.  Google Site Kit. Another free plugin, Google Site Kit works with Google’s tools, like Analytics, AdSense, Page Speed Insights, and more.  The information collected by Site Kit can be accessed elsewhere, like by going directly to Google Analytics, but having it on your site’s dashboard, with key points summarized, makes you more likely to read and utilize the data. Get Google Site Kit. Cosechedule Headline Analyzer. This free tool can be used separately or as a Google Chrome extension and it does exactly what it says; It analyzes your headlines (post titles) for word choice and clickability. Headline Analyzer will give each post title a score out of 100 based on the balance of common words, emotional words, power words, numbers, and stop words. Get Headline Analyzer. ConvertKit. The one tool on this list that I recommend you pay for (there’s a free version available) because it allows you to automate your email sequence, which is worth waaaaaay more than the $9 a month. ConvertKit allows you to collect emails within your blog posts. This doesn’t seem to be directly related to SEO, but Google considers returning visitors to carry more weight, and the best way to get people back to your site is to invite prior readers to come read your new stuff. Get ConvertKit. Remember Rule #1 No matter what tools or strategies you use to bolster your search engine optimization, everything comes down to providing value to your readers. Not only do search engines have algorithms that measure content quality, but readers will not comment on, share, or come back for more crappy content. Get to know your audience and what they want, then give it to them! Register for Teacher Blog Academy at www.teacherblogacademy.com
How to Start Paying Yourself as a Blogger
05-06-2022
How to Start Paying Yourself as a Blogger
Last week I shared my system for tracking income and expenses, but knowing where your money is coming from, and where it’s going to, is only part of the process. Most likely - if you’re like the vast majority of business owners - when you start to track your income and expenses you’ll likely notice that very little of your income (if any) is going to you! That’s what today is all about. What’s Profit? I’ve mentioned before that in my first month of blogging I made $2.11, but what I didn’t share was that, as excited as I was about it, I didn’t actually get that money. I left it in my blog accounts and “reinvested” it.  Of course, since we’re talking about just a couple bucks, that’s no big deal, right? Sure. But what if I told you I continued to reinvest everything I made the first year of my blog?  Essentially, though I made a couple thousand dollars, I didn’t actually make anything… Not one penny got put into my family’s accounts. This story is incredibly common for new business owners of all kinds - and not-so-new ones, too - and has led many people to give up on their business altogether. After all, if you’re in business to make money, and you’re not making any actual money… What's the point? I don’t remember when I found Mike Michalowicz and his book, Profit First, but when I did it was a game changer. In it he challenges the old notion that profit is what’s leftover after you pay all your expenses. Instead, with his system, profit gets taken out first, then you can spend what’s left. Like I said Game. Changer. The Basics of Paying Yourself First I’m going to give you the cliff notes version here, but I highly recommend you grab Profit First if you’re serious about building a business that actually supports you. Step 1: Get a Business Bank Account It’s a good idea to have an account that’s just for business expenses for many reasons, but to use this system effectively, it’s a must. As a blogger, most of your income is going to be online, so it makes sense to use a digital bank as well. I personally use Capital One 360, but there are many options, just pick one. The one requirement is that they allow you to create multiple sub-accounts. Step 2: Set Up Sub-Accounts Within your account, you’re going to want 5 sub-accounts. Income, Owner’s Pay, Profit, Operating Expenses, and Taxes. If possible, name these accounts accordingly. If not, make sure you have an easily accessible list of which account number is which. I’ll explain the purpose and use of each account a bit later. Step 3: Direct Your Income Lastly, you want all your incoming money to go into your Income sub-account. However you collect payments, whether from Stripe or PayPal or whatever, connect them to that account. Stripe will automatically transfer your funds, but set a reminder to transfer your PayPal money a few days before you do your monthly numbers. Using the System Mark your calendar when you’re going to go over your numbers each month. I suggest you do this at the same time you track your income and expenses - truth be told, it takes only a few minutes. Each month transfer your money from the income account to the other sub accounts. Taxes Make sure you’re setting aside money each month to pay your year-end or quarterly taxes. Personally, I set aside 30% in my tax account. I have never needed it all to pay my taxes, but it makes me feel better to have it there, just in case. If I don’t need it come tax time, I divide it between my pay and profit. Operating Expenses This is the money I have to spend on my business. I take 50% of my income and put it in this account. The key to this system is spending only money you have available to invest in your blog. As you grow your income, you can also grow your investments. Profit I set aside 10% of my monthly income as profit. This money is basically just liquid assets of my company and available for emergencies. It also serves as a savings account for larger investments I want to make, like high-end courses or coaching. I transfer 10% of my monthly income into this account. Owner’s Pay Aaaah, the golden goose! This is the money that you get to keep and spend. 10% of my monthly income goes into this account. Don’t worry if at first it’s just pennies - it will grow - and you can set a threshold for when you pay yourself. At first, I would transfer the money into my personal account when it reached $10. Make It Work for You As you work the system, you can adjust the percentages of what you transfer to each of the accounts. Just because I opt to go with 50-30-10-10, doesn’t mean you have to. I suggest you work this process, along with tracking your income and expenses, each month.  In order to grow your earnings, you must know your numbers. Set a reminder, add it to your calendar, and get it done! If you haven’t already, grab a downloadable copy of my income and expenses tracker!
How to Track Your Blogging Income and Expenses
29-05-2022
How to Track Your Blogging Income and Expenses
When I started blogging I did everything I could to avoid looking at any numbers other than page views. For months I was “too busy” or I “forgot” to update my income and expenses report, so it just didn’t get done. This is a very common mistake that a lot of new bloggers make and it’s usually for one (or both) of 2 reasons:  You know that in the very beginning you’re likely not making as much as you’re spending or you’re just making a few dollars, so you stick your head in the sand to avoid the topic of money altogether.You have a mindset issue around money, so you stick your head in the sand and avoid the topic of money altogether. This could also show up in other areas of life if you let your partner handle all the money stuff in your personal life, too. In reality, knowing where your money is going, where it’s coming from, and how the incoming and outgoing funds balance out is essential.  This is yet another instance where knowledge is power. Tracking your income. Let’s say you have 3 streams of income on your blog; ads, affiliate income, and an ebook. Keeping track of your income from each source not only gives you a nice self-esteem boost because you can see the numbers grow, but it allows you to more actively promote things that are making you money.  If your ebook had a few more or fewer sales in a particular month, you can explore why and update your marketing strategy. Maybe you put a widget in your sidebar promoting the ebook and it resulted in more sales. Great! See if there’s another place you can link to your ebook on your site to give it more exposure. If you notice your ad income drop because traffic dropped, you can find out why. Maybe you didn’t email your list every week or you didn’t share as much on social media as the month before, so you need to get back to it. Or maybe you find that it’s part of a trend that your traffic drops for a month or two each year, and then you know not to freak out about it next year.  Tracking your expenses. Even if you’re on board with tracking your income, you might still hesitate to look at what you’re spending. This, too, is very common. We like to see what we’re making, but thinking about what we’re spending… pass. But income is just part of the profit equation. In order to know what your blog is actually generating for you and your family, you’ve got to track your expenses, too. For example, if you decided to invest in LeadPages to create gorgeous popups and a beautiful sales funnel, are you getting a return on that investment? Are more people signing up for your freebie, or are more people going through your funnel and purchasing your product? This may take a few months to know for sure, but if you’re not seeing a return after 6 months, that’s money you don’t need to be spending. Conversely, if you’re building your blog with the bare minimum of support and are only paying for your domain and hosting, you might find that your income is stagnating because you don’t have a quality email service provider and you aren’t as present on social media (because you have that pesky job) and need to consider a scheduler to help you grow. There are plenty of programs available to help you track your income and expenses, and if you’re looking for a good one, I recommend QuickBooks Self-Employed (click here to save 55% on your first 3 months). You can connect your bank accounts and credit cards so the program will track your incoming and outgoing funds automatically. You just need to categorize each expense. A tool like this also makes tax time easier because they’ll create a schedule K-1 form for you. If you are looking to save as much money as possible, or would prefer to track your finances yourself (like me), here’s how I do it. Use an Excel Spreadsheet Yes, Google has sheets, but I’m old school and I like Excel. Not sorry. If you want a downloadable copy of my spreadsheet, click here, or you can create it yourself. Column A is your income and expense items (leave an empty box in the top row). Then columns B-M are the months, and column N is a year-end total. Organize your income and expenses by category, with each item listed under its category. I suggest using the categories from the IRS Schedule K-1 form to make tax time easier. Income. Create a row for each stream of income. Software Subscriptions. In this category you’ll find your domain and hosting, email service provider, premium theme subscription, podcast host, social media scheduler, etc. Advertising & Marketing. Here is any money you spend on ads, paying influencers to promote you, or any other marketing materials, like hiring someone to design a logo. You can also create a miscellaneous item here for those one-time expenditures. Legal & Professional Fees. In this category you can put any legal expenses, like templates or the services of an attorney. You can also include any professional memberships you pay for as well as any courses or trainings you take. Contract Labor. This includes anyone you hire (other than an attorney) on an hourly basis. A virtual assistant is a common expense in this category, along with graphic designers, social media managers, etc. You may also want a row for miscellaneous contract labor if you hire per job rather than on an ongoing basis. Travel Expenses. Conferences, speaking gigs, and the related expenses are most common here. Also, if you see clients face-to-face, you can track gas and other costs, like a cup of coffee if you meet them at a cafe, networking events, etc. Utilize Formulas and Formatting Excel offers the option of setting specific cells (or a whole sheet) to be formatted a specific way, such as all numbers entered are translated as dollars. While it’s not necessary, it does make things a bit easier and I find that seeing the numbers with dollar signs next to them helps me feel more like it’s really money we’re talking about. I also color code things to make it easier to read, and merge cells to make header rows for the categories. Again, not required, but it makes me feel better. One tool you will want to use is the formula feature. At the bottom of each category I use the SUM formula. Then at the bottom of the month I take the month’s income and subtract (or add the negative) each category’s subtotal to get the total profit or loss for the month In the year-end column add up each month’s cell so you can see how much you made from each income stream and spent on each program, tool, service, or contractor for the year.  Grab a downloadable version of the spreadsheet I use to track my income and expenses here. Gather Your Numbers Once your spreadsheet is set up, it should only take 30-60 minutes a month to update it with your info. Go to PayPal, Stripe, or whatever payment processor you use and determine your income by stream.  Similarly, open the accounts you use to pay business expenses (this could also be PayPal, your business credit card, etc.). I strongly suggest you limit your business payments to specific cards or programs. This not only simplifies things when you do your monthly profit and loss, but also keeps things separate in case you’re audited or sued. Enter all your monthly data into the spreadsheet! When you get into the habit of looking at your income and expenses on a monthly basis you will not only have a better handle on how your business is functioning and how you can make it even more profitable, you’ll start to notice trends and be able to anticipate changes in your income. This is a process you want to start as soon as possible. Trust me! Next week I’ll show you how to set up your accounts to make sure you’re paying yourself every month, putting aside money for taxes, saving for large purchases, and only spending money you have. For now, grab my FREE Income and Expense Tracker here.
What Is Passive Income?
28-05-2022
What Is Passive Income?
Passive income is often seen as the holy grail of the side hustle. There are many - especially online - who present themselves as passive income specialists, lying on a beach all day, sipping fruity beverages, and listening to their phone cha-ching to alert them to new sales.  If that sounds too good to be true, it’s because it is. For a long time passive income was dangled in front of people as a “set it and forget it” method of making money. Just do X, Y, and Z, then sit back and watch the money roll in. Of course, that’s not really how it works. Passive income, in the sense of making money for doing nothing, doesn’t exist.  On the other hand, I woke up to 2 sale notifications this morning, meaning I made over $100 while I slept, so passive income is a real thing. And as a teacher who doesn’t want to hustle and grind my way into early retirement, it’s key to running a side hustle that doesn’t make me more stressed out. Let’s explore the real world of passive income. What is Passive Income? For today’s purposes we’re talking about ways to earn money that you can automate or fully delegate to others so that you aren’t active in the exchange of goods. There are a number of ways to do this as a blogger because many of the primary streams of income bloggers have available to them are naturally passive. Sell other people’s things One easy way to get started with passive income is to sell other people’s products or services. Placing ads on your blog is perhaps the easiest thing to do because once you set them up, you don’t have to do anything else. If you’re using an ad service like AdSense the ads they’re shown will even be based upon their search history, making them very targeted. Affiliate marketing is similar, in that you just place links into your content and let people purchase through the other company. Because you have to select appropriate products or services to recommend, there’s a bit more work that goes into this than ads, but it’s still highly hands-off. Sell premade digital items Items like ebooks and printables are things you can make with software you already have (and know how to use) that you can sell on your website. Courses are similar, but will typically require additional software to build and host. These types of products require an upfront investment of time (and sometimes money for software), but once they’re done, you can automate the sales and delivery process with relative ease.  Use other services to help Whatever you sell, whether it be digital or physical products, you can utilize a number of third-party services or tools to allow you to automate or delegate the sales and delivery.  For example, Amazon has a print-on-demand option for authors who want to offer physical books, and if you want to sell through Amazon you can use Fulfillment by Amazon (FBA) so they hold, handle, and ship your products. Invest Investing is perhaps the closest you can get to fully passive income. All it takes is a bit of money, choose your investments, then sit back and watch them grow. Of course, not all investments grow, so make sure that you’re not investing more than you can afford to lose. Even if that’s just a few bucks you can use a service like M1 to get started. Use this referral link to get a $10 credit when you invest $100. Passive Income Misconceptions Regardless of what it may look like on social media, or in ads for passive income programs people are selling, there’s no such thing as 100% passive income. Every business requires work to maintain it. Maintenance At a bare minimum, you will need to maintain your website, sales platform, and any other tools you use to run your business. Team management Some business owners choose to be hands-off with their businesses, but you still need to manage their teams, approve decisions, and help steer the company in the direction you, as the owner, want it to go. Customer service It’s estimated that about 3% of customers are going to need extra help with your product. They may need help logging into your program, tech support, or to reset their password. Some may even just want you to walk them through things to make them feel more secure about their purchase. Product creation In order to sell an ebook, you have to write the book first. In order to sell a course, you have to build the program first. This seems obvious, but many people forget that passive income is only passive after you’ve created the product. There is a lot of up front work that goes into passive income! Oftentimes it’s suggested that people looking to get into passive income start with a more traditional model, like 1:1 coaching. This can help you get to know your audience, learn what they need support with, find areas where they get tripped up, and internalize their language for use in your marketing. It is possible to jump right into passive income, be prepared to start small, tweak as you go. For example, I created my smaller courses Content Made Simple and Wicked Easy Website a year ago, tested them and got feedback, then moved on to my signature course, Teacher Blog Academy. Doing Passive Income Right There are 3 things every blogger needs to know in order to create sustainable passive income. Give your audience what they want. No matter which path you take to creating passive income, you need to offer things your audience is interested in and likely to buy. If your blog is about crafts and you’re trying to sell steak, you’re not going to be rolling in the dough. Make it easy for them to buy. Don’t bury links on pages that people have to click, click, click through to get to. Put ads and affiliate links in places where people are going to look, and share links to your own digital products in as many places as possible without being obnoxious. This includes in posts, on pages, on social media, and in your emails. Provide value first. Rule number 1 for bloggers is to provide value. Your readers aren’t coming to read a website full of ads. They want advice, inspiration, tips and tricks, hacks, information, how-tos, and other helpful stuff. That’s what will keep them coming back, believing in you as a source of authority, and trusting the products and services you create and recommend. Remember that passive income takes time to grow and consistent effort to maintain. You will need to build an audience and cultivate their trust before they become loyal customers. You’ll then need to continue the cycle of attracting and nurturing new readers again and again. Here’s the thing, passive income as it’s presented in internet ads may not exist, but there are ways to make earning money easier and less dependent on you for every step. As a teacher, you’ve got your hands full, so anything you can do to simplify making money is a win in my book.
8 Free & Easy Ways to Increase Your Blog Traffic
15-05-2022
8 Free & Easy Ways to Increase Your Blog Traffic
When it comes to your blog audience, there’s no denying that size matters. While your blog traffic is not the most important thing when it comes to profitability, you’ve got to have someone to sell to. And if you’ve ever felt that your blog isn’t growing fast enough, you’re not alone. Before we start, remember that you don’t need a huge audience to make a profit from your blog. When you have a well-defined, focused niche, your audience might not be as large as others, but they will convert better. That said, here’s how to maximize your audience. Retaining Current Readers A lot of advice about increasing blog traffic focuses on getting new readers to your blog. And, yes, that’s important. But it’s far easier to get someone who’s already engaged with and loved your blog to come back and read more than it is to convince someone new to give you a try. So, let’s start with some tips and tricks that will increase your traffic by getting one-time readers to become loyal fans. 1. Stay true to your niche There’s a reason that Module 1, Lesson 1 in Teacher Blog Academy is all about defining your niche. Your niche - the intersection of what you write about, who you write for, and how you help them - is your guiding star when you make any decision for your blog.  What should I write about this week? Look to your niche. Which social media platform should I use to market my blog? Look to your niche. If your niche is finances for 20-something women with a focus on money mindset, stick with it. Don’t suddenly start providing stock tips and your opinion about which Wall St. bankers should be in jail… That’s not why your audience comes to you. It will confuse them and Google. And like Donald Miller says, “When you confuse, you lose.” 2. Email your list Your list is a group of people who like what you have to say, and want to hear more. They have self-identified themselves as potential superfans. But even loyal readers are busy. They need to be reminded to go check out your latest post. Think of it this way… I enjoy having a fresh, clean smelling house, but I still have an alarm on my phone to remind me to clean the litter boxes every Monday night. No matter how much people love your content, they need reminders when you put something new out. And by emailing them, you increase the chance that they come back and read your latest post. 3. Write great posts This may seem obvious, but there will be weeks when you feel like just phoning it in and publishing any old thing. While it may take extra time and effort, creating content that truly speaks to your audience’s needs is worth it. Answer a question that your readers have. Even if you feel like you’ve answered it before. (You’re a teacher, so you understand explaining things multiple times in multiple ways, right?) Address a mistake you see your ideal audience making. Give them something to think about in a new way… but remember that putting out content isn’t the goal - helping your readers is. 4. Tweak your titles A blog title, whether it shows up on social media, Google, or your own website, should entice readers to click and find out more. A great title lives somewhere on that fine line between clearly stating what your post is about without giving it all away… It’s a balancing act. Gaining New Readers Once you’ve done what you can to retain readers and get them coming back to your blog, it’s time to think about how to attract new readers to your blog.   5. SEO Search engine optimization (SEO) is a behind-the-scenes process in which you make it easier for search engines, like Google, Bing!, and others to recommend your content to others.  According to Neil Patel, “The main Google keyword ranking factors include search intent, search volume, quality of the content, number of backlinks, domain authority, and page loading speed.”  This means that specific focus on using the appropriate keywords, producing great content that builds your authority, and upping you page speed, with something like SG Optimizer can all increase your visibility on search engines.  6. Market your blog “Build it and they will come.” is a movie slogan, not a growth plan. As of this writing, there are nearly 1.2 billion websites online, with more being shared every day. No one is going to accidentally stumble upon your blog. You have to tell people about it. This is called marketing. Social media is a fantastic - and free - place to start marketing your blog. When you publish a new post, share it on social media. Then, continue to share it on an ongoing basis so that people who are new to you, or didn’t happen to see it the first time can find it. You can also make it easy for your readers to share your blog with plugins like Social Warfare. You can also use marketing channels like Pinterest and YouTube, but you can also guest blog, appear on other people’s podcasts or shows, and even just updating your email signature can let people know about your site. 7. Expand your network No man is an island, even in the digital age. While you may be a solopreneur, if you want to grow your blog you’re going to want help. Get to know other bloggers and build relationships that can further support your readers.  Take advantage of the technology available to network in communities that wouldn’t exist in the past, like Facebook groups, and start to build a reputation for helping others in your area of expertise. This is not an invitation to spam - even under the guise of helping - just offer guidance, advice, and support with no strings attached. 8. Give it time.  The internet may be filled with stories of overnight successes, but behind that “overnight” success was a lot of patience and hard work. No one puts up a site and starts raking in millions the next day (unless they’re doing some Breaking Bad level illegal stuff).  Time allows Google to know and recommend your blog in searches. Time builds up loyal followers who tell their friends about you. Time lets you create systems and processes to handle more readers and customers.  There’s no rush. Again, blog traffic is not the end-all-be-all of blog metrics. You should see your page views go up month over month, slowly. There’s only a problem if you’re not seeing growth overall. In Teacher Blog Academy, I’ll teach you how to make decisions that will help you build a profitable blog in less time, with fewer roadblocks. You can enroll now at teacherblogacademy.com
11 Most Popular Blog Niches for Teachers
15-05-2022
11 Most Popular Blog Niches for Teachers
What should my blog be about?  That’s one of the first questions you have to answer when starting your journey into blogging. And it’s one that many people get stuck on. Of course, your blog niche can be literally anything. The only limit is your imagination. But this can be a little intimidating, right?  Anything seems like a lot to choose from. So today we’re going to talk about the 11 most popular blog niches for teachers. This list is by no means exhaustive, and there’s no rule that you have to choose one of these niches. But… they’re popular for a reason. They include topics that teachers know and feel comfortable writing about and people want to read about.  You can also mix and match, pairing a couple of different niches together. Let’s dig in! Education Is it any surprise that we’re starting with education? While teachers can certainly write about anything, classroom-related topics are very popular. It makes sense - people write what they know.  Among the popular education niches are classroom environment and management, subject- or grade-specific lessons, or educational technology. While this is a popular blog niche, keep reading. Writing about teaching and learning isn’t always a great idea. Food  Your choices when it comes to food blogs are as varied as the menu at a 24-hour diner. You can share recipes, reviews, gadgets and gizmos… or a multitude of other ideas.  If considering a food blog, the number one stumbling block is casting your net too wide. As food blogs are one of the most common blog types on the planet, you’re going to want a clearly defined niche and ideal audience to help you reach the people you want to help. DIY or Crafts Whether it’s crochet or Cricut, blogs about DIY projects are a perennial favorite. You can use your expertise to teach others how to create adorable little gifts or build a log cabin like Lincoln did.  Teachers are well suited for this type of blogging since we’re already good at presenting steps sequentially and providing instructions.  Travel For those who love to explore new places, a travel blog might be the perfect way to combine passion and income. While we all know teachers don’t have summers “off,” the break does afford us the opportunity to work from anywhere.  Specialize in one area of the world, like the Mediterranean, or a type of travel, like luxury or budget, and share your adventures with others! Health and Fitness For those who are interested in personal well-being, there will always be an audience. Health and fitness can include anything from workout routines to naturopathic practices to mental health.  You can share tried and true practices or make your own journey the basis for your blog. Lifestyle A lifestyle blog is often used as a catch-all term for blogs that cover a variety of topics. They’re usually unified around a theme, which may or may be one of the other popular blog niches. For example, a lifestyle blog about sustainable living may encompass cooking using food you grow yourself, and upcycling furniture. Those who write lifestyle blogs need to be really clear on who you’re writing for so as not to go too broad with your topics. Parenting The parenting space is popular for a reason - having kids is hard! Parents can share stories from the trenches, tips and tricks to make life easier, and everything in between. Bloggers can focus on age groups, gender parenting, or parenting within a specific lifestyle, and there are lots of paths to monetization. Business Since the internet became an easily accessible way to make money, people have been writing about how to make money. These blogs can be written in the style of traditional money magazines or in a more instructional manner. Review business trends and best practices, or teach people how to make money. Personal Finance Similar to business blogs, personal finance helps people who are looking to manage or grow their personal wealth through investing, saving, and other financial systems. Actionable tips are especially popular in this space because people who read these blogs are looking for practical tips they can put to use. Religion More than 80% of people on the planet participate in an organized religion, so it’s no surprise that spiritual blogs are a popular choice. Bloggers in this niche can share personal stories, as well as inspiration, and practical ideas for practicing your chosen religion in the modern day Religion-based blogs are often focused on a specific audience, like parents, married people, or Gen-Z folks, narrowing their focus. Personal A personal blog is one where you share your own stories to form connections or inspire others. These blogs may read more like a diary than a typical blog and generally creates a brand around the blogger rather than a specific topic.  Personal bloggers still need to thoughtfully curate stories that serve the goal of the blog and the needs of the audience.  Before we wrap things up, let’s talk about the elephant in the room.  These blog niches are popular, and that means there are already blogs out there that cover these topics.  Does that mean you need to choose something else to write about? No! Your unique voice and perspective is just what someone needs to feel connected, heard, and understood.  You have something to contribute! Just because a conversation started before you got to the party doesn’t mean that you can’t add value to it. Find a topic that lights you up, find the people that you most want to help, and you will be successful! The Teacher Blog Academy is open for enrollment for teachers who are ready to start contributing to the conversation while growing a profitable blog. Get more information and join today at teacherblogacademy.com.
How Much Does It Really Cost to Start a Blog?
15-05-2022
How Much Does It Really Cost to Start a Blog?
A blog is a quick and ebay way to start marketing an existing business OR start making money while you decide exactly what your business is going to be.  In terms of building authority, establishing and strengthening relationships, and providing a platform through which to sell, blogging is extremely cost effective. That said, one of the biggest questions people have is, “How much is it going to cost me to start a money making blog?” Can I start a blog for free? Let’s first start with what they’re really asking, which is, “Do I really have to pay to start a blog?”  Well, no… but yes. There are options for starting a blog for free. WordPress.com is a free blogging platform, Wix and Weebly have similar options, or you can take advantage of sites like Medium to publish. There are a few reasons I don’t recommend this path.  Your URL will give you away. Free blogging sites include the name of the platform in the web address, which gives your blog an unprofessional feel. When I see myblogname.wordpress.com, I automatically (subconsciously) discount the information I receive and decide not to buy from them. If they’re not willing to invest in themselves, why should I invest? There are limited monetization paths. While blogging offers multiple opportunities to make money, when you use a free blogging platform, many aren’t available to you. And the ones you can use are more complicated to get up and running. It’s a pain in the patoot to switch. Some people think about starting on a free platform and switching to a paid version at a later date. First, let’s be honest. Later rarely comes. Especially when you set benchmarks like, “I’ll switch when I’m making money.” We’ve already established that it’s harder to make money on the free platforms, and the longer you go without making anything, the less effort and attention you’re likely to give your blog. Which means… you’ll never make money.  Additionally, switching your blog platform is not an easy task. You’re basically starting from scratch on a new system, but you also have to move all your old content over to the news site. It’s a lot of work, and oftentimes it just doesn’t get done, even if you hit that “when I do X” benchmark. You can pay someone to do this for you, but it’s expensive. What do I have to pay for? In my opinion there are 2 essential investments you need to make in your new blog if you intend to use it as a money making vehicle. These 2 systems will allow you to start making money faster and build your know, like, and trust factor with your audience. Domain & Hosting When you pay for your domain and hosting, you fully own your website. Your URL will be simply yourblogname.com, which is much more professional (and trust inspiring), and paying for hosting is like paying rent on your little corner of the internet. It becomes your space to use as you see fit, with no interference from outsiders. Note: There are terms of service for your website and what it can be used for, but those typically prohibit things like running a website like Alex Jones or instructing people on illegal activities. There are a number of hosting companies available, and you’re welcome to do your research. The company I use and recommend is SiteGround. Siteground currently charges $17.99 a year for domain registration. While you can find domains (literally) a few dollars cheaper, it’s worth having your domain and hosting with the same company for the sake of convenience. When SiteGround upgrades their service or platform, they automatically take care of any back end changes needed for my domain to remain functional without any extra work from me. Hosting through Siteground is typically $14.99 a month. However, because they know that people starting out don’t have any money coming in yet, they have a significant discount for your first year of service. When you pay for your first year up front, your rate drops to only $3.99 a month. This makes your initial investment only $48. All together, using SiteGround, your initial investment is $66 for your first year. Email Service Provider The other essential service you need to invest in as soon as possible is email. When it comes to growing your blog readership, nothing is as powerful as email.  When you start putting out content you should have a way to collect and manage email addresses, and email your list whenever you publish a new post. While you don’t need to get your email set up the moment you purchase your domain and hosting - it’s going to take time to get your site set up -  you should have it ready to go as soon as your blog is live. As with web hosts, there are numerous email service providers (ESPs) to choose from. The email service provider I use and recommend is ConvertKit. There are 3 tiers of service they offer: Free, Creator, and Creator Pro.  I strongly suggest that you invest in the Creator plan. When you pay for the year it’s only $9 a month ($15 if pay month-to-month) and it provides you the ability to build automations, which are key for a stress-free business. Automations are what allow you to send a series of messages out automatically when someone signs up for your list. If you go with ConvertKit, the cost for your first year would be $108 (or $180 if you pay monthly). What other expenses are there? There’s literally no limit to what you could spend money on when you start a blog. You can pay for programs, tools, and even people to execute tasks for you.  Of course, one of the biggest benefits of blogging is that it’s inexpensive to get started, so we don’t want to go all in on every shiny new tool that comes across our feeds. Here are 3 things I recommend for new bloggers, but aren’t required from the start. A Premium Theme When using WordPress (.org) there are thousands of free themes to choose from, and generally any will do when starting out. Eventually you may decide to switch to a premium theme - I use and recommend the Divi theme from Elegant Themes - for more customization options and premium features.  Switching to a new theme can be a big undertaking (though not as big as moving to a totally new program), so if you’d rather just start with a premium theme, they’re typically reasonably priced. Divi is just $89 a year ($249 for a lifetime license). Social Media Scheduler The more of a social presence you have, the harder you have to work to maintain it. Schedulers can take a load off your shoulders and make this task easier. Since you’re not allowed to be scrolling your feed and replying to comments all day, schedulers allow you to assign prewritten posts to be published at a certain time. A great beginner scheduling program is CinchShare. At only $100 a year, it’s a very affordable option. A Trusted Step-by-Step Program Getting a blog up and running has many steps, and some of them can be overwhelming. While there are lots of sources of information on starting a blog on the internet, not all of them are reliable, and many are even contradictory.  Additionally, the time it takes to sift through all the information available is time that your blog is not published and making money. In many cases this time and frustration lead many would-be bloggers to quit, leaving your potential unmet, and your readers without your guidance. Teacher Blog Academy was created specifically to guide teachers through the process of building, growing, and making money through a blog. You could spend hundreds of hours searching for reliable information and how-to instructions with video tutorials, but who has time for that?  At $497, Teacher Blog Academy saves time, frustration, money (on stuff that doesn’t work), and gets you making money faster… and pays for itself over and over (and over). In the end, starting a blog doesn’t have to be an expensive undertaking.  We’re so blessed to live in a time and place where making money is soooooo accessible. Thank you, internet!  You can sell basically anything from anywhere - including your own knowledge - without a massive investment in equipment, inventory, and staff. You just need the will to do it, a little bit of start up money, and a trusted guide.