How to Start a Hobby Blog in a Day

Disclosure: This post may contain affiliate links which means you may have the opportunity to financially support my small business.

Photo By Aleksi TappuraSeveral people have read my post How to Start a Blog in a Day and contacted me sharing that they would prefer to have a hobby blog rather than a business.  In the blogosphere today, it is very rare to have a blog that is not a business in some way.  This means that you do no partnerships with brands, you do not have display advertising on your page, and that you accept no free products for review.  It means you will not endorse any products and that you will only blog about things in your own life.

If you know for sure that your blog will be a hobby and will never transform into a business or a non-profit agency of some sort, then here are my suggestions for that:

1.  Select a Name

You don’t need to worry about buying a domain name because you have chosen to not start a business.  There would be no point in purchasing or owning a domain name, since this is just a hobby.  When you decide what your blog name will be, search all of the social media channels you wish to associate with it and be sure they are also available.  You can brainstorm or you can use a site like SpinXO to create a name.

2.  Select a Blogging Platform

There are several free blogging platforms.  The most common free blogging platfroms are Blogger and WordPress.com.  (Please note that WordPress.org is free software that you use on your own self-hosted blog.  This is much, much, much better and gives you more options which I recommend in my other post, Start a Blog in a Day.)

If you think your posts will be less than 140 characters or just a photo each time you post, you may want to think about only getting a micro-blogging account.  Twitter is a microblog.  Tumblr is also a microblog that allows you to post a bit more than 140 characters and also reblog things that other people post.  Also, if you’re a fan of pornographic material, Tumblr is a great place to be.

3.  Recognize You are Donating Your Time and Talents

When you do not host your own blog, in most cases, you do not own your content.  You are donating it to the blogosphere and are giving it away at no cost.  It is purely for enjoyment.

4.  Recognize That Changing Your Mind And Deciding to Become a Business Is Annoying

I will be honest, I HATE writing this blog post.  The reason is that when it only costs a little over $100/year to have a self-hosted blog, I personally do not recommend having a hobby blog if you think you will ever in the future want to make money from it.  It will save you a lot of money, time, effort, and energy in the future if you just follow the instructions in my other post, Start a Blog in a Day.  You will not have to pay someone to transfer your files to your host, you will not have to learn how to use WordPress.org if you were formerly using Blogger, you will not have to transfer the domain name you purchased from WordPress.com (and risk losing your domain name) to a new host, or deal with the multitude of headaches I’ve heard from bloggers who originally started on a free platform.  You won’t lose out on time that you could have been spending during the earlier months and years of your blog learning out how to use WordPress.org and customize with plugins.

Nearly all bloggers I have met started out having the idea that their blog may not be a success and some even plan for it to only be for family and friends.  However, the nature of the blogosphere is that a blog is public and therefore you have the opportunity to gain a following regardless of what path you take.  When you begin to get a following, the following will expect things of you.  Obviously, you can chart your own course, but in most cases I’ve seen that bloggers want to grow and develop their sites in particular when they begin to develop an audience.  It will also be a challenge to turn down opportunities to post banner ads, blog about brands, and review products for free.  When you get that first email from a Public Relations firm asking you if you’d like some free diapers when you’re blogging about your new baby, you won’t want to resist the urge and then your blog just went from being a hobby to being a business overnight.  Why not just plan for that from the beginning?  If it fails, what did you lose?  $100?  In most cases, that is a very small investment to lose for a new business.

Sometimes your free blogging platform will not permit you to monetize your blog.  For example, affiliate links are not permitted on Tumblr.  (I learned the hard way.)  Blogger allows Google Adsense Ads, but maybe that is because Google owns Blogger so they are going to make money from it anyway.  Wordpress.com will allow you to monetize but they take a huge amount of the earnings in exchange for letting you use their service for free so then you’ve basically donated your content/intellectual property to them AND are making them money by having ads on your site AND are running a business.  You might as well be on WordPress.org and actually making money from your ads.  You deserve it!  You are the one writing the posts and gaining a following.

So, if you don’t want to cheat yourself read my post Start a Blog in a Day.  If you’re a fan of cheating yourself, then go for it.  Start a hobby blog.  I hear it’s more fun that knitting, flying kits, crossword puzzles, baking, and bicycling combined.

 

Check out the Beautiful Bloom Theme for Genesis Framework

Disclosure: This post may contain affiliate links which means you may have the opportunity to financially support my small business.

Check out this beautiful ecommerce theme from Restored 316 Designs. You need to have Genesis Framework on WordPress to start off but then you’ll add this theme to it that will make it beautiful.

Features:

  • 4 color schemes to choose from OR Create your own!
  • 3 layout options
  • Loads of home page layout options
  • WooCommerce Ready
  • Footer widgets
  • Upload your own custom background
  • Upload your own retina logo
  • HTML5 Markup + Mobile Responsive

Plugin Styling:

  • WooCommerce
  • Simply Instagram
  • Genesis Enews Extended
  • Genesis Responsive Slider
  • Jetpack for WordPress.com
  • Simple Social Icons

These means it will have a custom look throughout the entire site and you’re able to use these WordPress plugins to have complete control over everything you need to run your online business.  I think this would be a great design for people with a craft business.  You could also just not use the e-commerce features and it would be great for a magazine style blog.

To check out the live demo, just click the image above and select View Live Demo.

#HowTo Create a Google Form and Spreadsheet

Disclosure: This post may contain affiliate links which means you may have the opportunity to financially support my small business.

Photo By Aleksi TappuraBefore I started blogging, I used Google Documents (which changed to Google Drive) because I have a Mac and my MBA professors had a PC. I was able to generate Word documents without having to buy expensive software. Then when I started blogging, I noticed bloggers using Google Forms all of the time to create forms for their blogs without having to code them on HTML. Genius! So I’d like to share with you the amazing and awesome Google Form and Spreadsheet option that you can use for your blog or small business. Rather than recreate the wheel, I found a Google Slideshow that does a great job of instructing you on how to create your own Google Form and Spreadsheet. You will find that the best part of the Google Form and Spreadsheet option is that the spreadsheet is automatically generated as people complete the form! Then you can download the information and use it in Excel, or share it with other Google Drive users to collaborate on a project. Amazing! Here is the Google Form and Spreadsheet Slideshow: Enjoy creating your own Google Form and Spreadsheet document pairs in Google Drive!

#HowTo Create a Custom Deep Link in Commission Junction

Disclosure: This post may contain affiliate links which means you may have the opportunity to financially support my small business.

I like creating custom deep links because it allows your blog reader to go directly to the item you are talking about on the website for the brand you are promoting.  Some affiliate programs offer this option and some do not.  In this post I will explain how to create a custom deep link in Commission Junction.  First, I’d like to share some important information about deep links directly from the Commission Junction Support Center:

Deep Linking allows you to drive customers to specific pages on an advertiser’s site to increase your click to sale conversion ratio.  (Source:  Commission Junction Support Center – Creating Deep Links)

[Commission Junction] research shows that advertisers that allow deep linking average between 20-50% more sales on deeplinks.  (Source:  Commission Junction Support Center – Benefits of Deep Linking)

As of the date/time of this post, here is a step-by-step guide to how I create a deep link:

  1. Login to Commission Junction
  2. Click Links
  3. In the search area choose the Advertiser (in this example I will use Family Christian Bookstores)
  4. Check the Deep Linking Only box
  5. Choose a link and click Get Code
  6. Go to the brand website (in this example, I go to http://www.familychristian.com/)
  7. Choose the product you would like to promote on their website
  8. Copy and paste the direct URL to this page on the advertiser website
  9. Return to the Commission Junction tab or window
  10. Paste the URL you just copied into the Destination URL box
  11. Click Update Code
  12. Copy and paste your code as usual to place it on your site

Another option is to use the Deep Link Generator Tool. You can get more information about this tool in the Support Center or on this video: