It’s been a long road.
Starting off as a new cake decorator who was trying to get customer orders through a free “website” builder (Blogger) and feeling frustrated that it just wasn’t professional… I wanted to be taken seriously, not just for the quality of my cakes, but I wanted to look like a pro who KNEW what she was doing. I also wanted to earn money with a cake blog while making my cakes. Two birds, one cake.
Now, I’m a DIYer so I assumed I could just get on in and customize my new karascouturecakes.blogspot.com space and make it look fancy like my cake idols.
Nope. And that “.blogspot” part in the middle felt soooooo cheesy to me! And that’s because it was, and still is, covered in cheese. Cheese may be delicious, but not when it’s coating your cake website.
No matter how much I twisted and tweaked and ran around the customization tools I just couldn’t get it right. But it wasn’t my fault – it was the free hosting place.
The key word here is FREE. As you know in cake, if you want a cheap or free cake, you’re gonna get a cheap or free cake. (think cakewrecks…) Same rule applies to most things in life – websites and your online presentation is no different.
So let’s get to the heart of the matter: if you want to be taken seriously and want to attract people to your cake selling website, or your cake/sweets based blog, you need to look GOOD! Like dapper. Totally dapper. (yeah… that’s like a 1920’s type word. time for a revival! a revival of the word “dapper” not a revival like southern church “revivial”)
We’re going to cover two things here and they are possibly the most important to getting your website/blog up and running the best you can right off the bat: domain hosting and affiliate advertising.*
(*These are just the technical important things… the MOST important thing is to have GREAT content on your blog posts so that people want to come back and will search you out… but that’s for another time 🙂 )
But first, you should get connected with FoodBloggerPro. They are also they awesomesauce people who run PinchofYum (and if you haven’t checked out the amazing blog, recipes, and eye candy photography over there GO!)
FoodBloggerPro is a community of the best, brightest and upcoming bloggers looking for solid guidance, tips, and advice doled out at an “every day person new to blogging” level. Video for everything you have questions about including that strange word SEO. <— Don’t worry about that now though. That’s down the road. Let’s get you some free basics to start! Try their free eBook about the number one thing bloggers will be focusing on this year. Just click HERE to get it now.
I would never have gotten my site up and running and so easily if Avalon Cakes hadn’t pointed me to them a couple years ago. It’s what took me from that cheesy free blogsite to this clean, fun, income generating one. I learned about shooting my cakes and in progress pictures to be eye-catching and not just “meh”. That came from both FoodBloggerPro and their PinchofYum eBook on better food photography.
Domain hosting… Where your website parks its butt
Domain hosting is the place you purchase the rights to your website name and where you set up your website. It’s the foundation for all else, so we’re starting here.
And the domain host I have for you is the best. Seriously.
I use and HIGHLY recommend Siteground.com . I’ve worked with another big name and very highly advertised website domain host and it left me blue. *cough cough* After talking with a web developer friend of mine while having big problems with the “other guy” he told me that web developers detest them. And my friend recommended Siteground as one of the professional web developer’s preferred hosts. Go with them. I’ve had amazing customer care from them from day one. (side note in case you are wondering why so many other people advertise with the other company that left me blue… they offer huge commissions. trust me, it’s not about quality at. all.)
Let me show you how quick and easy it is to get started. Have a looksee.
I’m going to make a recommendation based on lots of experience and watching myself and others grow… begin with the GrowBig plan. Here’s the deal. I used to recommend the StartUp plan, but the traffic it’s meant to handle isn’t what YOU’RE looking to generate. 10,000 visits per month is nothing. Bloggers hope to see 10,000 visits a day. Get in at discount level right off the bat with GrowBig, because that’s what you’re going to do. Siteground will grow with you above that and they will help you along the way.
Why bump up to the GrowBig or even GoGeek levels?
A couple reasons that have saved my butt more than once:
- The Super Cacher – available only on the mid and high tiers: this keeps your site running super fast and keeps all elements up to date. It pretty much cleans up your site info and lets you website load faster which makes engines like Google super happy to recommend you. Hello more traffic and happy visitors! I make so many adjustments to my blog posts to be sure they and my images are up to date that if I didn’t have that Super Cacher my site would run at a snail’s pace.
- Basic Backup and Restore (I have the Premium now) is so helpful – a life saver, actually – if you make a change that causes pain, or crazy amounts of work, or that you can’t recover on your own. I cannot tell you how many times I’ve simply gotten on chat and asked to roll back the site to earlier that day or the day before. BOOM. Problem fixed.
- Priority Service, it’s like jumping to the head of the lunch line. Yep. Gotta love that. And hey, time is money so the less time you have to wait to have your issues (which are inevitable) solved, the more time you have to spend monetizing and growing. That alone pays back the few extra dollars.
- You can host more than one domain on the GrowBig and GoGeek plans. As many as you want, in fact. So if you have a local cake business and want to run a separate domain for your blog (which I recommend to make each a clear and separate entity) you can do that easily here all under one plan.
- Lastly, let’s be honest. The extra dollars between the StartUp and GoGeek are truly minimal when your blog generates even one month of average affiliate sales from even one source. If you want to be a powerhouse blogger you need to not think in single dollars and cents. You need to think in terms of long term investment and savings. $4 per month versus $15 per months is penny’s compared to the amount of single use cake tools we waste our money on. Spend it more wisely – invest in your growth and professional level service.
Okay. Next up, press “Order Now”. (duh, thanks for that, Kara!)
Next you’re going to press “Register a New Domain” and enter the name you’d like in the box below. Siteground will check all those international registries to be sure your name isn’t already taken. You can also switch domain hosts TO them. It’s called migrating and that’s what I did. I was already hosted on the other company’s servers but I “migrated” over and haven’t been happier. They did it all for me, too 🙂
They include your domain registration for free for signing up with them. Cool beans! Free stuff every year!
Now here’s the best part. They will help you set it up, again, free! This was the big one for me. The other guy did not do any of this. I was left to use over technical documents and scouring Youtube for help. Not with these guys. Just get on a chat with them and get moving.
When it comes to the extras above, while they aren’t needed, they are recommended. By SG and me. Especially the HackAlert monitoring. Look below at all the hack attempts (“Lockouts”) on karascouturecakes.com in just the last two weeks prior to sending up this blog post:
951 lockouts in 2 weeks… When you get popular, people try to get in on the action. HackAlert for $1 per month is a huge peace of mind. Get it. The other thing up there, “Domain Privacy” is good as well because it keeps your personal info (name, location, contact info) hidden on the public the registries. It’s not like a bridal registry where you WANT people to see your name so they can get you stuff… Not like that at all. Get yourself hidden 😉
Once you click submit, you’re golden! You’ll get some emails from the team at Siteground and they will guide you through the next steps. And my favorite part, which probably isn’t their favorite part, is that I can get on a live chat online at any time of the day when I have a question or problem. They are there and ready to answer, explore, and assist. The other guy NEVER did that for me. In fact, I was told once that “Please remember, Ms. Andretta, that advice from our techs is mere a courtesy, it’s not required.”
Excuse the heck out of you, mister!
Again, I digress. I refuse to let anyone else get burned by them, so I eagerly send everyone over to Siteground.
After you purchase your domain name you can set it up with WordPress.org
Dot ORG. Not .com.
Huge difference. The ‘.com’ is the free WordPress, and we’ve already been over the whole free thing, right? Good. The ‘.org’ is where you’ll set up your website from the back end, or have someone do it for you. Either way, my goal is to help you get your domain registered and in your hands so no one else can take your business name (or your own name, for that matter).
Yes, there are other sites out there like Wix, but it’s not nearly as customizable a WordPress .org blog. WordPress is a bit more involved to use, but it’s far more powerful. You can check out how easy it is to install on your own (after getting your domain) HERE.
Putting all of your time and energy into a blog without it paying you isn’t the smartest thing to spend your time on. But it CAN pay you. Let’s talk about two of the easiest ways to earn money by sharing what you already do…
Google AdSense… Let them do most of the work
Ok. Now you’ve got the domain hosting fun accomplished and squared away. You may be setting up a website for your cake business, setting up a cake blog, or both. I’m going to guide you through the blogging side and I’ll show you how to earn money on your blog by signing up for affiliate partnerships and getting them added to your WordPress blog.
First I’m going to introduce you to the advertising partnerships I’m a part of: Google AdSense.
Click the green “Sign Up Now” button and you’ll land here:
Sign in (with a gmail account) and enter your info. They’ll review your application and you’ll get an email back. Yes, you’ll need to wait patiently. I know how hard this is, but hang in there and keep reading while you wait.
Next, I’m going to take you to the back end of my WordPress.org website and show you where to go to ad your AdSense plugin so you can start running ads.
For these ads you’ll get paid per 1,000 people who land on your site and as your traffic gets bigger and better, so will those commissions. You get even more if they click on things.
ShareASale Affiliates… You get to customize your promotions
Let’s move on to one of THE BEST ways to choose your ads and who you promote – ShareASale.
But what is an affiliate? A partner with a similar goal. Your goal is to help specific companies sell their products and in turn be granted a commission for it.
Unlike AdSense, with ShareASale you get to choose exactly what companies and products you promote on your website, as well as what ads you want. Great!
The only down side to that is that you may not know your audience well enough to pick the right affiliates to earn money. Google’s AdSense has already done the tracking of your site visitors for you so it knows what ads to place on your site when they arrive (and everyone sees different ads… cool. and creepy.)
Get started by clicking HERE and setting up your Affiliate Account. It’s free, and YOU get to choose who you support. Once you’ve set up your account and entered all of your pertinent info, watch the video below on how to select an ad AND place it in the two best spots on your WordPress website.
It really is that easy. Of course, if you’re just starting out there is a learning curve. But there are tons of resources out there to get you started on the back end of your website. Each back end is slightly different in how you move around since everyone runs different “Themes” and ads different plugins, which is a topic all it’s own! And I know someone who is going to be tackling that topic soon!
If you’re already comfortable with running/managing your website, get moving on the ShareASale thing! Find some great affiliate partners and start earning commissions!
I’m happy to answer any questions you have so, leave ’em just below in the comments. You know you’ve got ‘Q’s, I’m ready with my ‘A’s. 😉
And as I’m required, here’s that ridiculously fun statement the FTC forces me to make under threat of taking away my keyboard:
The post above includes affiliate links. When I find a great product or service, I like to share it with my readers. Sometimes I use affiliate links so I can earn commission at no additional cost to you. It keeps me plugging along and keeps the kidlets in Tae Kwon Do and going to the zoo. Thank you for your support 🙂