180+ side hustles you can start at home as a mompreneur

Here I present over 180 side hustles you can start at home. So some of these require some skills and a passion for improving a craft. The list is designed to provide inspiration so something might click and you can go do more research. These are all 100% real jobs and if you’re passionate about them and learn to market yourself and get good at your job (and stick at it, in some cases), you can turn any of these into a full-time income or six-figure salary.

Blogging

1. Travel blogger

2. Beauty blogger

3. Lifestyle blogger

4. Mommy blogger

5. Food blogger (usually reviews of eating out)

6. Recipe blog

7. Kid with problem blog (e.g. Andrew has a peanut allergy)

8. Mental health blog

9. Photography blog

10. Art blog

11. Music blog

12. Homesteading blog

13. Gardening blog

14. Prepping blog (yep, it’s a big thing)

15. Fashion blog

16. Political/rant blog

17. Writing blog

18. Teaching blog

Author/Writer

19. Romance author

20. Erotica author

21. Mystery/Crime author

22. Thriller author

23. Sci-fi author

24. Fantasy author

25. YA author

26. Children’s book author

27. Picture book author

28. Nonfiction author

29. Ghostwriter

30. Book outline writer

31. Copywriter

32. Post writer

33. PA (personal assistant) to an author

34. PR (publicist) to an author

35. Fiction translator

36. Audiobook narrator

37. Audiobook sound engineer/producer

38. Review writer

39. Blurb writer

40. Freelance journalist

41. Freelance features writer

42. Technical writer (often writing instruction manuals)

Editing

43. Story outline critique editor (often call themselves developmental editors because they’re scared of making authors do big rewrites)

44. Developmental editor

45. Line editor

46. Copyeditor

47. Proofreader

48. Beta reader

49. Academic paper editor (especially in science)

50. Academic paper copyeditor (particularly in science)

Marketing

51. Social media marketer

52. Marketing consultant

53. Branding consultant

54. SEO (search engine optimization) expert

55. Digital marketer

56. Publicist/PR specialist

57. Running a review procurement site (managing a team of reviewers)

58. Market researcher

59. Market research survey taker

Graphic Design

60. Graphic designer

61. Book cover designer

62. Logo designer (sometimes call themselves branding consultants but graphics are only a tiny part of overall branding)

63. Product packaging graphic designer

64. Product label designer

65. Facebook advert designer

66. Product designer

67. Estate agent/Property developer graphic designer (designing 2D and 3D visualizations/models of new homes etc)

68. Picture book illustrator

69. T-shirt graphic designer (surprisingly profitable)

70. Decal designer

71. Political graphic designer (part of a team behind those successful campaigns)

72. Leaflet/flyer designer

73. Infographic designer (big money if you’re good at researching these as well as designing them)

Education

74. Online school tutor

75. Online English teacher

76. Online English conversationalist

77. Online languages teacher

78. Online skills teacher

79. Educational consultant

80. Textbook writer

81. Science diagram designer

82. Baby yoga teacher

83. Baby music teacher

84. Baby sign language teacher

85. Online cookery teacher

86. Online business/marketing teacher

87. Learning mentor

88. Tutor/educator for a distance learning college

Computer Science

89. App designer (conceptualizing it or making it look nice)

90. App developer (coding)

91. Web designer (which should be called “web designer and programmer”)

92. Object-oriented programmer

93. Internet of Things Developer

94. Robotics programmer

95. Robotics engineer

96. Security expert

97. Networking expert (usually CISCO)

98. Online tech support

99. Video games designer

100. Video games programmer

101. Video games tester (this is a real job)

102. Video game composer

103. Video game voice actor

104. Web page translator

105. Online customer service

106. Computing language creator

107. Compiler developer

Photography

108. Wedding photographer

109. Landscape photographer

110. Wildlife photographer

111. Product photographer (huge market for people with the skills for this as other side-hustlers need top notch photos of their products and they’re not always great at taking them or editing them after)

112. Photojournalist

113. Stock photo photographer

114. Photography consultant

115. Fashion photographer

116. Baby/family photographer

117. Headshot photographer

118. Corporate photographer

119. School photographer

120. Photo product maker (custom mousepads, T-shirts etc)

Crafts

121. Jewellery maker

122. Soap maker

123. Candle maker

124. Furniture repair/restorer

125. Antique restorer

126. Potter/ceramics maker

127. Glass blower

128. Stained glass window restorer

129. Stonemason

130. Sculptor

131. Topiary maker

132. Garden landscaper

133. Carpenter/woodwork craftsman

134. Clothing maker/dressmaker

135. Clothing alterations/tailoring

136. Shoe repairs

137. Soft toy maker

138. Toymaker

139. Flower arranger for events

140. Artificial flower maker/paper flower maker

141. Ornament creator

142. Picture framer

143. Product illustrator

144. Keyring creator

145. Leatherworker

146. Greetings cards maker

147. Metalworker/Brass maker (door knockers, handles etc)

148. Fine artist

149. Microbrewery

150. Micro-Distillery

151. Confectioner

152. Clock repair

153. Musical instrument restorer

Events

154. Cocktail designer

155. Balloon arranger

156. Wedding singer

157. Wedding musician

158. Cake designer/baker

159. Caterer

160. Invitation designer/printer

161. Occasion make up artist

162. Occasion hair stylist

163. Professional mourner (for funerals)

164. Wedding planner

165. Events planner

166. Soft play hire

Entertainment

167. DJ

168. Party performer (e.g. character princess or superhero)

169. Stage magician

170. Street magician

171. Stand-up comedian

172. Street performer

173. Busker

174. Clown

175. Mime

176. Puppet show performer

177. Dance teacher (wedding couples sometimes hire these to choreograph the first dance)

178. Ice sculptor

Animals

179. Petsitter

180. Dog groomer

181. Dog walker

182. Horse stable assistant

183. Fish feeder (for people on vacay)

184. Sport

185. Fitness instructor

186. Nutrition adviser

Starting a side hustle for stay at home mums

Starting a side-hustle can seem impossible when you spend your day working small miracles and solving big problems for tiny people. This guide will show you exactly how to start a business you can run from home, and how to fit it around milk and nap times. This is the first in a weekly series of business advice for stay-at-home mums that will update on Tuesdays.

Choose your business

First, find what you want to do. This can be the hardest part or the easiest, depending on whether you’re turning a hobby into a fully-monetized business or if you’re still trying to figure out what you love.

It doesn’t have to be the one and only thing that clicks with you, sometimes, a business that makes you some good money is the next best thing!

Check out next week’s post, 180+ businesses you can start at home today, for some inspo, or keep reading if you already have an idea in mind.

Set up a website

There are many different options for setting up a website. Are you technical? Do you want to learn how to take control of your own site and customize it down to the last applet? Or does the idea of learning HTML make you balk? Most of us fall somewhere in between the two extremes. I love custom sites but I don’t have time to hand-code my own site. And that’s okay. I did a full HTML site once, and now I always use a WordPress installation (five successful sites and counting…).

These days, there are website options for every technical ability, and every budget. If you’re flat broke, or unsure whether your business idea has any mileage in it, you can even start a website for free using a site such as Blogger or WordPress.com (not to be confused with WordPress.org which is a whole different kettle of fish).

A basic website only needs four pages: Homepage, About Me (where you talk about your experience in your chosen side hustle), Examples of work (e.g. you’d call this “Books” if you’re an author) and Contact Me, so people can connect with you and give you money!

A four-page website works fine if your site isn’t your main source of business, for example, if you’re an author or offering offline services such as plastering or cake design, however, it will never reach its true potential unless you set up a blog and commit to posting weekly. Your time is finite, so choose wisely.

If you’re setting up a digital side-hustle, you’ll need a more sophisticated online presence. Getting your site to rank in Google is a whole separate topic on which there’s already boatloads of information (rule number 1 of entrepreneurship is never re-invent the wheel, you don’t have time), but the main thing you’ll need is content. Lots and lots of content. You need to write relevant blog posts at least weekly, or Google will think you’re not updating your site regularly, but these don’t need to be complicated posts. Check out my Guide to Search Engine Optimization (SEO) to learn more.

If your side hustle is blogging, you literally need to blog every day! Until your site has about 100 well-written articles, you won’t rank in Google. I have a successful blog which has been going since 2014, so I know a thing or two about how to get a blog off the ground. You also need killer photos, a sleek and on-topic website design and social media hookups. The only way to do this job justice is to get a WordPress site, but many people these days use Blogger. Some people also wear T-shirts to job interviews. I wouldn’t recommend that, either.

Choose your social media wisely

Once you have set up your website, it’s time to set up social media. Do you need to be active on every social media platform? Absolutely not! Just go for the one that is best for your industry. Food writer/food business? Pinterest! Beauty blog? Instagram. Author? Facebook.

Knowing your audience is key to a successful side hustle. Each social media outlet attracts a different crowd. Younger people are on Instagram and Youtube. Mommies are on Pinterest and Instagram. Businessmen are on Twitter and Linkedin. Everyone is on Facebook, but most people aren’t using it effectively for their business and it can become a liability, fast.

Making physical products as a side hustle

One of my many businesses is soapmaking and handmade cosmetics. It’s really empowering to work with real ingredients and transform them into finished cosmetics. I find it a great activity for the end of a long day of baby-wrangling, when my mind isn’t in the right place to do books.

Making physical products has some different considerations to other types of side-hustles. You need a space to make things, and it has to be far away from small children who love to put things in their mouths.

Some people will tell you the market is over-saturated for certain homemade products, like jewellery, but that’s not true. I mean, there’s evidence that people have been making jewellery since the palaeolithic period and Tiffany & Co still managed to gain a foothold when they launched.

From a sales point of view, all you need is a strong brand, a really good product (good, not unique), some stunning photography and canny social media marketing and you too can succeed at making physical products.

When setting up a homemade company, you do need to stay on the right side of the law. There are laws on food hygiene, trading standards, how to deal with defective products and more. You may need to register with your local council in the UK, depending on what you sell. You also need to comply with Distance Selling Regulations which state that customers have 14 days to cancel an order or return a product without needing a reason, if they bought online.

The other way to run a business involving physical products is to sell them offline. You could get a regular market stall, hire a table at craft fairs and maker’s markets, or even book a stall for a Christmas market at a major city like Edinburgh or Manchester. That eliminates the need to deal with postage.

If you have lots of capital to invest before you get a return, or if you’re running a business that can get a loan, you could even open your own shop or office for consultations. If you’re doing this with borrowed money, either a business loan or investment in exchange for a percentage of the profits, you’ll need a cast-iron business plan and financial forecasts.

Writing books as a side hustle

Busy mums can also write books. Maybe you’re a voracious romance or mystery fan? Or perhaps you did a degree in English Literature before the job market told you that wasn’t good enough for [insert crappy desk job here]. I stopped doing English at age 16 and did science degrees before I became a successful romance author, writing via four different publishers before striking out into self-publishing. An English degree would have been an advantage but I had a library card and work experience in academic publishing where I learned a lot of the same things on the job.

The biggest challenges for writing books is that you basically have to do three times as much work as any other entrepreneur.

You have to write the book, which takes time (I had this down to 2 weeks before I had a baby, now I need at least 1 month).

Then you have to edit the book. Even if you pay an editor, you still have to go back through your work after they’ve sent it back, and make the recommended changes and improvements to your work. If you’re going through a publishing house, you may have to do this four or five times before it’s where they want it to be (and they want it to be near-perfect to start with, or they won’t take you on).

After that, you’re at the same point as mummypreneurs in every other area of business, and you need to set to work on marketing, blogging on your author site etc, to spread the word about your book.

Authoring can be rewarding, but being a SAHM to young children, it’s definitely not the optimum career choice and I found baby brain zapped me of inspiration to write a book for about 9 months. Your release schedule will never be as prolific as younger or older people with no dependents.

That’s not to say you can’t be an author and a SAHM, and some people say it fits well around their mom life, but I suspect there’s no pressure on those people to be main breadwinners in their house. Or even to break even on their Facebook Adspend.

Selling Digital Services/Products as a side hustle

This is a tried and tested way to make money online, and the best way to do it is to structure your business from day 1 with the three-tier system.

Tier 1: A free “taster” product, e.g. a five-day Facebook challenge or a 4-piece course, or a free short how-to book that’s designed for your ideal audience. In the author world, this is called a newsletter magnet. That’s because you would usually use this one to build your mailing list so you have a pool of fans who love your stuff and want to buy your book.

Tier 2: A book. This is your entry-level product that lots of people will buy, but the profit margin is fairly low. For most industries, this will be a how-to book or other nonfiction.

NOTE: No one wants your autobiography until you have a million followers (for doing something other than talking about yourself), so put that aside and plan to deliver quality information in a book that helps people (no, reading your life story really, truly, honestly doesn’t help people even if you stopped drinking/gambling/eating squirrels. Put on your business hat and take the personal down a notch).

Tier 3: A comprehensive online course or personal consulting. This is your big-ticket item. Far fewer people will go for this (until you’re a mummy mogul with people beating a path to your inbox) but it will make a lot more money.

Your goal is to get as many people as possible from tier 1 to tier 3. This is called a sales funnel and works for basically every industry that is monetized online. The really hard part is crafting top-quality products that appeal to your ideal audience, completely solve their problems and make them eager for more.

Write a Press Release

Whatever industry you’re in, writing a press release to bring media attention to a new product or service can be worthwhile.

If you’re an introvert, you might prefer to just join HARO (Help A Reporter Out) and respond to direct queries about your industry to get media coverage. Extroverts should join here, too. 

Writing a press release needs to hit the right notes to get the attention of a journalist. I’d suggest doing some Googling beforehand to get your pitch spot on.

Monetize, Monetize, Monetize There are a ton of other ways to monetize your site. Affiliate links and advertising are two of the most popular. The goal is to create a passive income, i.e. money that keeps rolling in even while you sleep. You still have to work on your business but it means there are more avenues for money to find you.

My top passive income strategies 2021

Most of us look forward to not having to work so much, so we have more time to follow our dreams– you know, the things you always wanted to do and expected you would do one day, but somehow, that day never came because work showed up and rained over your whole life.

With passive income streams, you can make that day happen sooner. A passive income is one that makes you money again and again without you having to do much to it. Passive income usually requires an initial investment of time or money. If you’re seriously broke, like I was when I started this journey, then you can invest your time to get out of the rat race. Of course, if you’re busy and broke, it will take longer to get results.

My favourite passive income strategies for 2021:

  1. Amazon Associates: Yeah, people love to hate Amazon but I make most of my money from them, either via Associates or my books. Amazon Associates is an affiliate marketing program where you tell people about stuff that’s for sale at Amazon, and you get a commission. There are a lot of other affiliate marketing schemes out there, from companies with charter planes to companies selling make-up or even credit cards, but Amazon Associates has been my top-performing affiliate scheme this year and I’m making about $250 a month from it now, without having to do anything at all, due to the size of this website (over 500 pages and counting) and age of this blog (2014). Obviously, I had to put a lot of time and work into making this site useful to people, and I had to build my traffic to a good level, but now I can sit back and let the reward come in. That’s the beauty of affiliate marketing.
  2. Ebooks: Starting a self-publishing business as an author is NOT a quick or easy way to make money, but if you get it right, it’s scaleable and you get to write books and earn from them. There are tons of niches in both fiction and non-fiction where you can find your blue ocean. If you write an evergreen book series about things people are looking for, you can generate a reasonable income from this. Thousands of self-published authors make 6 or even 7 figures a month.
  3. Other info products: These are where the big money is in 2021. Courses are huge and the market is set to grow as colleges stay closed in various countries worldwide for yet another year. The way to make money with courses is to find something you know about, which other people struggle with. Position yourself as an authority on your topic, grow an audience, then BAM! Launch your course. Courses are better than ebooks because they are what’s known as a high-ticket item (you can price ’em high).
  4. Rent something out: Your living room couch, your whole house while you’re on holiday, the parking space outside your house… the options are varied and you can put as much or as little into this as you like.
  5. Cryptocurrency: I am not a financial adviser, but if you have money you can afford to lose, investing in crypto is high risk. You can make a lot from a little, but you also might lose it all on the whim of the market. Before investing in cryptocurrencies, educate yourself and do your own research from a variety of sources, don’t just listen to one person’s recommendations.
  6. Stocks: A less risky investment (but you can still lose it all) is investing in the stock market. Like cryptos, do your research and don’t ever buy into a company on one person’s say-so.

So those are the top ways I’m generating passive income in 2021, there are obviously a lot more things you could do to bring in money, I haven’t covered side-hustles or ways you can earn cryptocurrencies from performing online tasks for companies (such as content creation) because I wanted to focus only on things I’ve tried and tested, which are bringing in a reasonable amount of money for me. That’s also why website advertising hasn’t made this list – it’s not even bringing in $50 a month to my site so I can’t count it as a reliable passive income stream.

My Experience With Word Ads Advertising on WordPress

Part of my passive income strategy is running ads on this site. I never used to, but WordPress was putting them on my pages and even telling visitors that these were my ads so eventually I decided, screw it, let’s try Word Ads for a year and see how it goes. That was August 2020.

It was really easy to set this up on my WordPress.com site which has a unique domain name but is still hosted by WordPress. I had some reservations about the whole thing because I didn’t want my site to end up like one of those godawful recipe sites.

You know every recipe site ever, where you Google “ice cream recipe” and click on a result, then the page takes several minutes to load because of all the popups and videos, and suddenly you’re slamming your hand on your laptop’s mute button like you know the Countdown Conundrum because one of the many bloody videos has decided it’s not enough to zap your bandwidth and stop you being able to read this recipe, it also wants to SHOUT AT YOU ABOUT SOMETHING. And you couldn’t care less what it’s banging on about, you just wanted to read an ice cream recipe and why is someone shouting at you?

I definitely didn’t want my site to be like that. There’s a lot of local news sites like that, too. I was glad I could customize ad placements and tell Ad Words what kind of ads I was comfortable showing (I’ve just looked at the settings again and found this seems to be no longer possible, they just show ads wherever they feel, which wasn’t what I signed up for). I thought I’d try it and see how much some subtle ads brought in.

At first I was amazed and excited at the amount of money they were generating, and I worked really hard to increase my traffic to my blog using a content strategy which I explained here. I was making about $50 a month which was amazing, but although I doubled my traffic in a month in November, I noticed my site’s advertising income hadn’t gone up! What? But that makes no sense.

So I looked into this a bit more and found that, gradually, as my traffic increased, the amount I was being paid per ad went down. So although I was showing more ads than ever, I was making less every month!

Okay, don’t jump to conclusions, I told myself. Maybe it is just a coincidence that my traffic went up at the same time that advertising price went down. I decided to wait and see.

That was in November 2020. At that point, the income had gone down to $0.47 per 1000 ads instead of $0.63 per 1000 ads (which it had been in August and September 2020). In March I was getting $0.23 per 1000 ads. Now, in April 2021, with more traffic than ever, I am earning $0.13 per 1000 ads. That is a quarter of what they were originally paying me.

Is adwords worth it advertising for bloggers

As you can see from the graph above, the whole reporting thing is very misleading. At a glance, you would think those blue bars were the money I’m making, but they’re not. Those blue bars are the amount of ads they have shown on my site, in thousands.

By hovering over particular days, you can get a breakdown of how much I made. The “Avg CPM” is the average cost per mille, or the money I made per 1000 ads on that day. The “Revenue” is the total money I earned that day. As you can see, it’s quite poor.

WordPress shows ads on my site whether I like it or not. To take control of the ads on my site, I have to pay WordPress an annual fee (a “plan” as they call it). If the ads continue to drop in price, soon it won’t be worth the $70 a year I’m paying them to take control of the ads.

That means this is so bad, it’s not a profitable form of passive income.

My conclusion is that I don’t think it’s worth it to get into Word Ads right now because of their sneaky sliding scale which just goes lower and lower the more traffic your site gets. If this gets any worse I’ll basically be paying them instead of the other way around! Maybe this will change in the future.

Buying a house during Covid

Should we buy a house during Covid? This was a question that did pop up, but our need for a new home (in a new country) was so great, we couldn’t wait. Let me explain how we ended up buying a house during Covid and give you some tips.

Four years ago, we moved to China from England. We rented out our home in England and thought we could always sell it when we got back. Obviously, I didn’t polish my crystal ball and I had no idea anything like the disruption or financial ruin of this pandemic was on the horizon, or I would have sold our house in 2016 and invested the money somewhere.

When we were ready to sell our home, of course, our tenants weren’t ready to move out. They moved out 7 months after I came back from China, heavily pregnant. In fact, I had a five-month-old when we got our house back. So in the meantime, I’d rented somewhere. Anyway, I never wanted to live in England again (and I still don’t) so we didn’t ever plan to move back into our old house. The rental place I got was abysmal due to the rental crisis in Ireland. Also, I couldn’t get anywhere in the South due to the rental crisis, so we ended up in Belfast where you have to learn a whole new way of talking about a lot of things to avoid offending people. But that’s another story.

We put our house up for sale in January 2020. We had viewings and multiple offers and had accepted an offer for full asking price within 7 days of the house going up for sale. Wow. We thought we’d be out of that rental in six weeks.

HAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHA.

The sale finally completed in August. This was a no-chain sale, we were moving countries so we were going to be cash buyers, and our buyer was a first-time buyer who was already approved for a mortgage when they put the offer in. Unfortunately, during the first English lockdown they shut down all the legal offices. This meant that our sale ground to a halt for months. Simple aspects of a house sale became impossible. When they all reopened, there was an enormous backlog.

Anyway, we had the cash at the start of August. By now, our baby had his first birthday and we were still in the rental, but we were finally able to go househunting. We booked some viewings.

Obviously, with the current situation, it’s not really possible to go to view the same house as many times as you normally would. To put it into perspective, when we were looking for our first house, in 2013, we viewed it (and another house) three times each to be sure we were making the right choice, that there were no issues we hadn’t spotted, that the area was decent, etc.

With our purchase last year, we had to make a decision from one visit. One of the main issues I’ve seen when househunting is damp patches. They can mean a lot of different things. Roof leaks, pipe leaks, bad bathroom installation, building defects in new builds, cracks in the walls from mica or pyrite (Ireland only), condensation or rising damp from outside. Basically, you don’t want damp patches. And on a viewing, they can be impossible to spot. The nicest houses get them. Even newbuilds. So I bought this FLIR infrared camera from US Amazon.

It attached to my phone, I downloaded an app, then it showed me areas of hot or cold. Basically it meant I could see behind the walls to find out if there were any leaks which will show as a sudden cold patch in the FLIR app.

For househunting in Covid times, it was the best $250 I spent. Think about it. This is the biggest purchase we’re making in our lives. We’re buying a house outright with no mortgage. If this falls down around our ears, we have lost the full cost of a house. An extra $250 is less than the cost of the surveyor or house insurance which are also intended to guard this investment. If you’re buying a house during Covid and are worried about not being able to find out enough from one brief viewing, I 100% recommend you get a FLIR One Infrared Camera for your phone.

You can get the FLIR One camera from UK Amazon here (it was about $50 cheaper to get it from the US for me).

Or buy it from US Amazon here.

If you’re in Ireland, the best place to get it will fluctuate week-by-week and you can shop on either site.

I was really excited to get one of these as I enjoy photography as a hobby and have messed around with infrared lenses in the past. This type of infrared camera is different to the infrared lenses you can get for DSLR cameras, though, and it creates images from the far-infrared part of the spectrum, which is less artistic and much more practical.

These are the sort of pictures you get (you can see the heat left from footprints on the floor, and the cold left from ice cream standing on a table, even after you’ve moved the ice cream):

The space where the ice cream had been sitting is that big dark circle at the bottom of the picture.
A footprint after I moved my foot. This camera is very sensitive and will show you a lot of information.

The estate agents didn’t say anything while I deployed the FLIR camera on each brief viewing of the two houses on our shortlist. We were not allowed to touch anything, which was annoying as it meant we couldn’t find out if the windows opened properly, or if the doors were hanging correctly, etc. This did mean we ended up buying a house where there were problems with the doors on the kitchen cupboards, but these aren’t hard to replace and it did make us feel more justified about the offer we had made for the house, which was 8k below asking.

Once we had satisfied ourselves that we were buying a house that was structurally sound and that didn’t have any hidden disasters for us to find later, we put in an offer and it was accepted, and four months later (thanks to more Covid delays) we were the proud owners of our new home.

And if you want to know how I managed to start a business that enabled me to be mortgage free by thirty-three years of age (including taking two years out for a baby), I will write about that at some point soon.

Why you need to stop selling via a Facebook page right now

When I started my soapmaking business, one of the things I wanted to know was how could I sell my soap to customers without having to have long complicated interactions. I was part of a local crafting and makers’ group on Facebook, and I was very surprised that the majority of small business owners were using Facebook pages to sell products!

Basically, you set it up like this: [read the full article]

How to make your first $100 from blogging: The 100×100 method

There are SO many people out there giving out advice about how to become a successful blogger and how to monetize your blog. They talk about authority sites and high-ticket products but they’re missing what it’s like for 95% of bloggers.

The hard truth is, most bloggers can’t get started with making money from blogging. So they lose motivation and give up. In some niches (I’m looking at you, beauty bloggers), it’s even harder because the path that people are trying to take isn’t the most profitable one, it’s a big shiny distraction that will fill your make-up drawer but not your wallet.

Here, I want to share my 100×100 method for making your first $100 from blogging. Don’t worry, I’m not trying to sell you anything.

What I did wasn’t remarkable or unusual. Anyone could do it. 18 months into blogging, I was regularly taking home about $400 per month. I didn’t have a huge email list (I still don’t have a mailing list for my blog because I’m managing 50,000 subscribers across 3 author mailing lists and need another one like I need a hole in the head).

I didn’t have a huge amount of views in the early days. My blog’s been running since December 2014 and along the way, I’ve learned a few things. I’d like to help you take some shortcuts to being a successful blogger and the hardest thing I found was making that first $100.

Once I’d broken that barrier, the views, money and everything else started rolling in.

And I’ve never written a sponsored post or accepted a free product from a company in exchange for a review, although I get about 20 requests a week (I usually say no because I don’t want the obligation of reviewing something I might not like although there are some things I’d say yes to that have never been offered, such as Latisse or an all-inclusive trip to Tibet).

I didn’t set out to make money from my blog.

This is important because I didn’t monetize until January 2016. There were 15 months at the beginning of blogging when I wasn’t monetized. I think this was good for me, overall, because it meant I focused on writing strong, well-researched articles and my success measure came from growing my daily views, not from how many affiliate links I’d dumped into any given article.

I actually started my blog two months after I had turned my Citroen Xsara Picasso into a campervan and taken my husband on a 16-day adventure from York to Rome for our honeymoon.

I just wanted somewhere permanent to put my travel pictures to share with my family, then I started YouTubing hair tutorials so I also wanted somewhere to write down how to do beauty-related things for people who didn’t watch videos. The twin focus of my blog – beauty and travel – made me think it was impossible to monetize, and all the advice said focus on one thing, but this just isn’t true. Focus on doing each topic WELL, don’t flit around doing half a job, would be better advice.

I think I got a lot of followers early on because I had Travel Tuesday and Beautiful Friday, and shared posts on both topics. Although it did take longer for Google to rank my site as a travel blog than as a beauty blog, it now ranks well for both.

The 100×100 method for monetizing your blog

Before you try to make any money with your site, ask yourself the 100×100 question: “Do I have a good blog with around 100 well-written posts on it and am I getting around 100 views a day?” If the answer is yes, you’re ready to take the next steps into monetizing your blog.

If not, I suggest you work on these first; let’s look at how.

Write good content for your blog

Content IS still King in 2020. What does that mean? Content is the most important thing in blogging. Your entire success or failure comes down to whether your posts are engaging for your readers, and whether your posts answer readers’ questions.

Your primary focus should be writing 100-ish posts of good content. At first, you will be shouting into a hole and wondering who will ever see these articles when you have no views. You might be wondering whether you should waste your best content on a blog which no one is reading.

I wondered these things too.

What I learned over my first and second year of blogging was those best articles with good content will soon rank in Google, and when they do, people will find them. One of my earliest posts is “Hair Bleaching 101”. It got a grand total of 15 views in the first six months after I published it.

Now, five years later, it has an average of 150 views per month. I have over five hundred posts on my site (I didn’t blog for all of 2018 and posted 6 times in 2019, or there’d be a lot more).

If each post on my site gets 150 views a month, that’s 75,000 views total in a month (rough average; that post isn’t even in my top 10 most popular, as you can see from the sidebar on the right hand side of the screen), so all those early posts are contributing to my overall success.

How to get more views for your blog

Once you have around 100 posts of good content, your viewing figures may take care of themselves if you’re a natural at SEO (getting your posts to show up on Google) but they may not. SEO stands for Search Engine Optimization and you need it on your site to make everything visible to Google.

SEO for bloggers in brief

In (very) brief, SEO for bloggers is all about ensuring your article titles match with what readers type into Google, your articles are the right length (over 1500 words for most articles, but change it up when you need to and don’t force yourself to ramble, Google hates that), and that your tags are all correct.

You also need internal links, so Google knows how important any given article is to your whole blog. And you need to post regularly. That doesn’t get said enough. If you don’t post at least once a week, every week, no exceptions, Google won’t rank you as high.

If you take time out of posting (I took about 18 months away from blogging) your SEO will suffer because Google penalizes “dead” sites in favour of “current” sites that are still being updated.

The best site about SEO is Neil Patel. That guy knows what he is talking about. If you want lots and lots of advice and info on SEO, go read his stuff.

Do bloggers need to be on social media?

If SEO is too technical for you, you should focus on building a platform of readers on social media who want to see your stuff. There are many ways to do this. You could start a Facebook Page for your blog and invite your friends to like it (scary but necessary for a Facebook strategy, as strangers will be reluctant to hit “like” on a page which has zero likes).

If you don’t do Facebook, you could start a Twitter or Instagram. Twitter is better if you like writing short sentences with a link, Instagram is better if you like sharing really good photos but don’t want to link to specific articles (e.g. for cosplayers or food bloggers).

Most of us will do a bit of SEO and a bit of social media. You can’t do everything, so don’t try, you will just waste a lot of time chasing your tail. Pick one social media site and get good at it before moving onto others. Make friends in your niche e.g. other travel bloggers. Find Facebook groups for bloggers in your niche.

Some people will say you don’t need to do any of this, just be your authentic self and the readers will find you and adore you. People say this to authors, too (I’m a double USA Today bestselling romance author so I hear this garbage a LOT).

They’re lying and trying to stoke your ego into believing them so you won’t work hard on the mechanics behind blogging, won’t succeed, and won’t compete with their site. Believe me, they did all this stuff to monetize their site, too. Or they’re not making money off their site and they don’t know why. In which case, share this post with them. 😉

If you haven’t got any of the stuff you’ve read so far in this post completely nailed, bookmark this (click the star in the right hand corner of the screen in Chrome and you can save this post for later)! Go take action, and come back to the rest of this post weeks or months from now, when your blog is ready for you to move forward. I’ll still be here.

I have 100 GOOD posts and 100 views per day. How do I make money?

Perfect! You’re ready to move forward.

The best way to make your first money with a blog is by joining Amazon Associates. This is a program Amazon runs, which means they give you special links which you can use on your blog, and you make a small amount of money whenever readers click on the links, if they buy something on Amazon within 24 hours of clicking on your link. It works best in review articles, in my experience, but you can also get them into “how-to” articles if there’s an appropriate spot.

The golden rules for ethically putting affiliate links in your blog:

  1. State somewhere on the page that you use affiliate links. My blog has been set to say it on every post and page on my site, at the bottom, to be sure I never forget to state it, and it’s also stated in other places, too, although I try not to interrupt the flow of any given post.
  2. Don’t shoehorn a link in or mislead readers into clicking e.g. by disguising the link. Reader trust is all you have as a blogger so don’t abuse it.
  3. Only link to things that are actually worth linking to. Don’t sell crap. Steve Jobs said that, and it’s something you should live by with affiliate marketing.
  4. Don’t put affiliate links into negative reviews. You don’t want people to buy products you hated, do you? That would be pretty scammy. Instead, link a negative review of one product to a positive review of a related product, or write a comparison between something you did/didn’t like and link to the good products only.
  5. Don’t just rehash the Amazon reviews for a product on your blog. Google will actually penalize you for this because they don’t like duplicate content. Amazon can also penalize you for this as the copyright for reviews belongs to the people who wrote the reviews.

The amount of money you will make from doing this depends on how much traffic your site has and how much your readers are looking to buy a product when they read your post. If they’re not in a buying mindset, you won’t get a sale. That’s why your honest reviews and especially comparisons of different products are the best places to put links.

That’s all you need to do to make your first $100 from blogging! But it’s not very scaleable to higher figures. Several six-figure blogging sites have said your income with this will peak around $4000 per month and it can fluctuate very heavily from one month to the next as it’s really dependent on luck, so you could go from $100 one month to $60 the next month then $300 the month after.

If $4000 a month is the amount of money that will transform your life, then fantastic. But if you want to take things further, then at that point, you need to move into different affiliate programs with high-ticket products like cars, private jets, or online courses.

I’m not doing any of those very well, yet, but when I do, I’ll write about it, so you can climb the success ladder with me.

I use three affiliate programs but realistically, Amazon is the only one making me money because I haven’t figured out how to write high-ranking articles that find buyers for the other two yet. And earlier this year, I designed an online course that didn’t sell a single copy, so I need to go back to the drawing board with all of that and work out how to take my blog to the next level.

If this article was helpful for you, feel free to link to it on your blog, or share it on social media using the sharing buttons below. And if you have any questions, ask them in the comments! I usually close comments on posts after 28 days but I’m going to keep them open on this one.

How to access your Gmail emails from China without a VPN and 7 other solutions

This article will cover how to read your emails without a VPN, even if you use Gmail, and 7 other solutions to internet access problems caused by the Great Firewall of China.

What is the Great Firewall?

Basically, China has some concerns about the data security of specific western companies and they have blanket banned their services. This includes all Google services, not just Google search, so Maps, Gmail, Google Drive, Scholar and Google Books are all affected.

You might be forgiven for thinking that no one in China uses the internet, or that it’s a bleak, pared-down service with no real value to anyone. Google is EVERYTHING, right? Uh… no.

People in China use the internet like 24/7, and they do pretty much everything on there. More things than you. I’m pretty sure they’d use the internet to sleep if there was an app for it. The internet in China is thriving, and you can use it, too, you just have to know what to do instead of what you’re accustomed to.

If you have an iPhone, you can use Apple’s in-house programs instead of Google services.

If you have Google’s Maps app on your phone or tablet, the app will still work (ish) but it will be horribly inaccurate because it doesn’t know where anything in China is, streetview doesn’t work, and half the addresses are written in Chinese characters instead of English, so don’t use Google Maps in China anyway.

So anyway, there’s this firewall, and you’ve heard the answer is a VPN (virtual private network… you basically lie to the internet and tell it you’re somewhere else). You’re about to go to China and you are wondering about buying a VPN? STOP! Ask if you really need it. If you’re only going for a short trip, you likely will be about to waste £100!

Lots of rich-kid travel bloggers will tell you that you need a VPN to use the internet in China but it’s just not true. And actually, it can cause more problems than it solves.

Here’s the main reasons people think they need a VPN to visit China:

  • Gmail
  • Google Search
  • Google Maps
  • Google Drive and Dropbox
  • Google Translate
  • Facebook
  • Twitter
  • To access news sites and anything using AdSense or Analytics
  • YouTube

This article is going to cover how to set up your stuff so you won’t need a VPN for most purposes. It’s for people who are only going to be in China for a week or two.

If you’re going as an expat, a VPN makes more sense because these workarounds are not long-term solutions, but as a tourist, why waste £100 on a year’s subscription to something you’ll never use after you get back from China?

How to get at your Gmail emails in China (do this before you go):

The biggest reason you might seriously need to use non-Chinese internet is to access important messages in your email inbox. Many things in the West are done via email these days so not being able to communicate with people is an abject nuisance, especially if you’re a digital nomad running a business.

Here’s how to read your emails and and stay in touch with your contacts while you’re on holiday in China:

  1. Go to Mail.com (that’s a different website to Gmail.com – note there’s no G at the start because it’s not a Google site). Set up a free account. It’s fairly basic and their popups are really annoying but they have one huge advantage for tourists in China trying to read their email, which is that mail.com is not banned in China.

    You could also use Yahoo Mail (the search engine is banned but not the email, so bookmark a direct link), or if you have a self-hosted website or a work email, you could set up Outlook, Mac Mail or Thunderbird (but these are complicated for getting at web-based mail).
  2. Go to your Gmail account and go to “settings” (the cog). Click “go to all settings” near the top of the menu. In the tabs across the top (grey and hard to spot, see my screenshot), go to “forwarding and POP/IMAP” and check “forward a copy of incoming mail to:”
  3. Click “add a forwarding address.” Type your new mail.com email address into the box here and check “keep Gmail’s copy in the inbox” so you have a record of all your emails in case you need them later. Ignore all the rest and click “save changes”.
  4. Go back to your Mail.com account and confirm the forwarding request. If you don’t do this, the whole thing doesn’t work.
  5. Go to China and read your emails. It’s that simple!

What to use instead of Google Search in China?

http://bing.com

http://baidu.com

These work fine. Bing throws up more results in English. Take your pick.

What to use instead of Google Maps in China?

A mapping app is something we’ve all come to rely on to help us find our way around. Sure, you could buy a paper map, but it won’t tell you shop opening times or give you a company website when you click on it.

However, there are LOADS of alternatives to Google maps which work in China. Here I’ll review all of them along with discussing the problem most of them share:

1. Bing Maps.

This is basically the best mapping app for China.
Pros: The road names are all in English so you can read them. It shows the public transport lines really clearly, like WAY better than Google which absolutely isn’t geared up to showing you public transport very well. It gives you details about things on the map such as their website and opening hours, where these have been added to Bing. It works in your browser so even on a Mac you can use this Microsoft app. There’s also a downloadable Bing Maps app for your phone!
Cons: None. I am not a fan of Bing search engine but their mapping app is really good.
Find it: https://www.bing.com/maps

2. Apple Maps.

Misses out on the top spot because it only works on Apple products and there’s no browser option.
Pros: Works on your iphone, ipad or Mac. You don’t need to remember a URL to get a map. Has more up-to-date China maps than Google.
Cons: Doesn’t work on non-Apple products and you can’t use it in a browser.
Find it: On your Apple products.

3. Here We Go.

This works in your browser or as an app, across a range of products. I saw reviews which said it only worked on Windows, Android or iOS but I tested it on my MacBook Pro and I can safely say it also works on Macs.
Pros: Works on all platforms and there’s a browser mode. Great for getting from A to B when you know where you are and where you are going.
Cons: No business listings, destinations or places of interest, it only works with addresses you already know, so it’s not great for getting travel inspiration or mapping to somewhere by place name rather than street address. Very simple in terms of features shown, e.g. there’s no green to show parks.
Find it: https://wego.here.com/

4. Maps.Me

This is a mapping app that claims to work offline and be a great friend to travellers.
Pros: Works offline (if you downloaded the map)
Cons: Doesn’t work on laptops, you can only run it on iOS or Android. No good for late-night laptop research for tomorrow’s itinerary. Am I the only one who does this?

The one problem all mapping apps share when you’re in China:

Street names are shown in Chinese characters or Western translations, both of which are, of course, useless for people who aren’t bilingual. Pinyin of the Mandarin street names written out in full would have been a better choice for readability and would also help with conveying addresses to taxi drivers (many of whom can’t read Chinese characters either).

If app developers are looking to update their maps with a major improvement, things like the screenshot below (from the English-language version of Apple maps) are basically useless when trying to get around in China. Instead of Fengcheng 1 Rd, it would be 1000% more useful to see “Fengcheng Yi Luo” written out in Pinyin, so travellers to China can read this out loud to taxi drivers, and those Chinese characters are hopeless, too.

Maps Conclusion:

Bing maps, y’all. It’s the best of the lot for getting around in China.

How to access Google Drive or Dropbox in China without a VPN:

You basically can’t. Sorry. The best workaround is to back up your files onto an external hard drive and use that, instead. Large-scale file sharing is a non-starter in China.

How to translate things in realtime in China:

Google Translate is very useful when you want to paste some text into a box and see some English. However, it is banned in China, which is a country where few people speak English.

Instead of using Google Translate in China, locals use a phone app called WeChat, which includes a translation option. You can either translate text, if someone sends you a message in Chinese, or you can use the phone’s picture scanner to translate Chinese into English.

Go to “options” “QR code scanner” then on the QR code scanner, press the “translate” button to toggle between QR scanner and translation. This will take a picture of the thing you want to understand, and it will translate it for you. Be sure to snap a screenshot if you need to keep the translation, as WeChat doesn’t save the translations for you.

You can also use a translation app but I have tried about 6 and none of them (even the expensive ones) were useful for China if I’m honest, so I have nothing else to recommend.

If you want an app to help you actually learn Chinese instead of translating, get Duolingo.

How to use Facebook in China (and Twitter) without a VPN

The only way to use Facebook in China is by using a VPN. And you can’t use a VPN on mobile data. BUT you can stay on top of your notifications by being clever.

Go to Facebook and look at your email settings. Get it to email you notifications for everything that happens on your Facebook. If you set your email up (first section, above), these notifications will be forwarded to your Mail.com and you can see who has liked your cat photo. This also works for Twitter. Who knew those crazy emails every 2 seconds, like, “Bob Smith liked your post!” were actually useful for something?

How to read western news in China without a VPN

A lot of western news sites are blocked in China. Without saying too much, this is usually because they’ve been identified as having an anti-China bias. To make it even more annoying, paranoid webmasters in western countries block Chinese IP addresses for no good reason.

You can still get western news however. Your local hometown newspaper is very unlikely to be affected by this, because when was the last time the Springfield Gazette ran an article on China?

Bookmark your local hometown news site. If you’re from a big city like LA, Washington DC or New York, you might be better finding a smaller gazette or chronicle.

Additionally, certain western news sites are not blocked. This list is ever changing but if you bookmark the main sites, you have a good chance of finding one that can keep you abreast. When I last checked, the Independent and the Guardian weren’t blocked, and both cover US news as well as European news, although I suspect it’s only a matter of time before they get banned.

How to get YouTube in China without a VPN

Sorry, YouTube is a Google company, so you basically can’t access YouTube at all without a VPN. If you’re a Youtuber without a VPN in China, stay up to date on your channel notifications by getting them all via email, and save your videos of China to share when you get home.

For non-Youtubers, if you download your favourite videos with a YouTube downloader (my go-to one has just stopped doing free downloads so I no longer have a recommendation for this), you can watch them offline. Otherwise, buy a DVD and external DVD drive to take with you.

Are there any other apps or sites you’re struggling to use in China? Let me know in the comments and I’ll do some looking and update this article for you. 🙂

Mailerlite vs Mailchimp: A warning (it’s not what you think)

So about 12 months ago, I was using Mailchimp and there was suddenly a huge drama because they changed their fee structure and got a LOT more expensive. Customers started leaving them in droves. I didn’t understand the issue until I got my new bill and it was suddenly insanely high compared to how much money I was making.

I asked around and everyone told me it was so easy to switch to Mailerlite, and that they were better in a number of ways that no one could explain. I was pregnant and knew I needed to reduce my overheads.

So I exported my contacts and imported them into Mailerlite, where I grew my list to over 15,000 subscribers.

With Mailchimp, the only issue was the cost. Everything else about it worked perfectly, I never had a failed send or anything. They always just sorted out payment and everything was smooth. I don’t know what their customer service was like because I don’t remember ever having to contact them after the day I first signed up.

Also, Mailchimp works in China, and Mailerlite does not. I was living in China when I started emailing my list through Mailchimp instead of using batches via Google mail.

With Mailerlite, it seemed like every time my mailing list grew, they wanted me to re-verify myself, to fill out a tedious questionnaire (for the fifth time) about what I was using their services for, and they threw in some mandatory market research questions as well, which honestly is offensive but you do what you gotta do to get a half-price mailing service to email your newsletter for you.

The best part? They do this when you want to send an email, instead of when you hit the new subscriber threshold. This means, if you’re sending about something time-sensitive, like a flash sale or 24-hour deal, you will not get to send your email in time especially if you want to send according to timezone.

I didn’t like the fact that a lot more of my emails seemed to go to the spam folder when I used Mailerlite, either.

I sucked it up.

Then I had a baby, so I deleted my contacts because no-one wants to pay $150 a month for a mailing list they’re not actually sending any emails to for a year. I downloaded and carefully saved my 15000 contacts in a CSV file that I never actually looked at because I had more important things to do like keep a small baby alive.

Obviously.

Ready to get back to work, I uploaded my email list to Mailerlite and guess what? They wouldn’t let me re-verify because I’d already uploaded this list and deleted it.

So in desperation I went back to Mailchimp, thinking that paying $200 monthly is worth it if you actually get the service you’re paying for. I uploaded my mailing list.

Then I found out why you should never, EVER move your list to Mailerlite.

We’re always told that our mailing list is the most important marketing asset for our business because it is ours and we get to keep that no matter what happens to service providers, right?

WRONG.

Mailerlite has deleted so much information from the downloaded copy of my mailing list that Mailchimp actually doesn’t have the data it needs to let me upload to them.

So I opened the file to look through it. There’s email addresses, but then all the other columns are empty. No first names. No last names. No opt-in timestamps or IP addresses and no confirmation timestamps or IP addresses (all of which you need to be compliant with data handling, CAN-SPAM, and GDPR rules). It’s a mangled, useless CSV file that is as useless as a phone book comprising of phone numbers but no names.

I am effectively stuck with Mailerlite who seemed able to re-connect all the data when I uploaded the email addresses (presumably they’ve stored the rest of the data on their server and can access it by using the email addresses as a “primary key”, but I obviously have a right to have all that data, it’s not theirs, it’s mine, so they shouldn’t keep it like this). Who won’t let me go through their stupid validation and approval process. And anyway, I resent all the bullshit they’ve put me through so I’m not going back to them.

This means I have no mailing list. Mailerlite has destroyed it by deleting key data. Five years of hard work down the drain. Fifteen thousand fans of my business, who I cannot contact because Mailerlite have ensured I can’t go to another service provider.

God I wish someone had written about this before I switched to Mailerlite.

Please, please, PLEASE be careful. If you want to switch to Mailerlite, be sure you’re going to stay with them forever. Because they will not let you take your mailing list when you leave.

I guess that’s what you get when you go with a cut-price mailing list provider. I have learned my lesson the painfully, devastatingly hard way. I have no business to come back to after maternity leave. I built my business to give my baby a future, and now our situation is more precarious than ever.

If I am very, very lucky, I might still have an old version of my mailing list from when I switched from Mailchimp to Mailerlite in the first place. But obviously, that could have people on it who have since unsubscribed, so I have to weigh up whether I can use that old version or not.

This is my honest review of two companies I’ve spent thousands of dollars with, over the past half-decade. Verdict? I’d rather spend more money on a service that actually does what it says it’s going to. Your mileage may vary. If you have a different perspective, or a solution for this issue, please let me know in the comments.