Tools & Resources for Bloggers

Tools that free your time to focus on what matters most in your business. | TheBloggingAboutBloggingBlog.com #bloggingtips #bloggers #blogging #bloggingbusinessBelow is a list of software, courses, and other resources I recommend either because I have either used them personally, know people who have used them, or know them to be valuable and of high quality.  Because I value these resources and wanted to recommend them to others, I joined their affiliate programs if they had one, meaning some (but not all) of the links on this page are affiliate links.

If you have any questions about any of the resources on this list or would like to discuss them further, or if you would like to suggest a resource to be added to the list, feel free to email me: ashley {at} thebloggingaboutbloggingblog {dot} com.

Online Software

Graphic Design Tools

Canva – Online software for creating and editing graphics and images using a simple drag-and-drop editor.  Free with a paid upgrade.

Unsplash – Website for finding free, high-quality photos.  Crediting the photographer is appreciated, but not required.

Pikwizard – Another site for finding free stock photos.

Small PDF – Online tool that lets you manipulate (compress, merge, convert, annotate, etc.) PDF documents.  Free with a paid upgrade.

Social media post templates – Save time designing social sharing images from scratch by buying a pack of professionally designed graphics you can customize in Canva.

Ebook templates – Save time writing an ebook by buying a beautiful, pre-designed template to paste your text into.

Opt-in / free download templates – Easily create freebie downloads to attract new email subscribers by buying pre-designed templates.

Social Media Management Tools

Post Schedulers

Tailwind – Schedule posts for Pinterest or Instagram, recycle your own posts, share your pins with “Tribes” where they can be shared by others in your niche, and analyze your stats.  Paid software.

SmarterQueue – Schedule and recycle posts for Twitter, Facebook, Instagram, or LinkedIn.  Consistently repost your own content, schedule a share for individual websites you come across using a browser extension, or bulk import content from other blogs in your niche to schedule for shares on your social media profiles.  Paid software; offers the ability to customize a pricing plan to include only features you need.

Later.com – Schedule posts for Instagram, Facebook, Twitter, or Pinterest in a visual calendar.  Automatically posts to Instagram with a “link in bio” option (your followers can click the link in your bio to find a link associated with a post).  Paid software that offers a free option.

Buffer – Schedule posts for Instagram, Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn, or Pinterest using a browser extension or directly within your social media.  Similar to SmarterQueue, but without the ability to recycle posts.  However, it does offer a free option, which is nice when you’re first getting started.

Email Marketing Tools

ConvertKit – Email software with lots of features specific to the needs of bloggers.  Does not offer a free option, but it’s easy to import subscribers from other email softwares if you decide to start with a free software and switch later.

Mailchimp – Popular email software that’s free to use for up to a certain number of subscribers.

HelloBar – Notification you can use to invite your website visitors to sign up for your email list.

Sumo Smart Bar – WordPress plugin that’s a cheaper alternative to HelloBar.

Productivity Tools

LastPass – Store complex passwords for all your logins in one place.  Much more secure than using the same password for everything (if one of your accounts gets hacked, all your accounts are vulnerable!), and much more convenient than having to remember which password you used where. I use the free version, but there is an optional paid upgrade.

Trello – Manage all your to-do lists in one place.  Create and organize lists and easily drag and drop list items from list one to another.  The phone app works just as well as the desktop version. The free version is great, but there is an optional paid upgrade.

Gmail at Custom Domains – Allows you to have a gmail address (or multiple gmail addresses) at your custom domain name.  You can also create aliases that direct to the inbox of your choice (for example, contact@yourdomain.com can redirect to yourname@yourdomain.com).  Paid software.

Loom – Record a video of your computer screen with optional sound recording and/or your face appearing in the corner of the video.  Easily start recording by clicking a button in your browser.  The free version works for me, but there is an optional paid upgrade.

Appear.in – Online software for video conferencing (including group video chats).  Chat guests don’t have to create an account; they simply click a link to join you in your “room”.  The free version works for me, but there is an optional paid upgrade.

Slack – Chat software that allows you to organize chats and share files with groups or teams you’re a part of.  Large companies may need the pay version, but the free version will be adequate for most users.

IFTTT.com – Automate functions between multiple softwares.  Examples: Someone mentions you in a Tweet, and an email is sent to your inbox; You publish a blog post, and a link is shared to your Facebook page.  Setup is very user-friendly, and it’s free to use.

Zapier – Automate functions between multiple softwares, similar to IFTTT.com but with far more capabilities.  Takes some time to learn, but the possibilities are amazing.  Examples: Someone purchases your ebook, and their email address is added to a spreadsheet in Google Docs. Someone completes your survey in Google Forms, and if they give a certain answer, they are added to your email software with a specific tag.  Free to use for two-step tasks (one action triggers another action), but multi-step tasks such as the ones I described above require a paid account.

NewsFeed Eradicator – Free Chrome browser extension that will replace your Facebook News Feed on desktop with a motivational quote, so you don’t get so distracted by Facebook when you have to log on for work purposes.

Product Creation Tools

Gumroad – Platform for uploading and selling digital products such as ebooks.  Not free, but very affordable, and includes the ability to have affiliates for your products.

Teachable – Platform for creating and selling courses.  Free to create an account and build your course, but requires a paid subscription to publish and start selling.  Popular choice for online courses because it’s very user-friendly for both students and course creators.

Lulu – Publishing software for selling print-on-demand physical books and ebooks.  I use it to offer a print version of the workbook that goes with one of my online courses.

Mockup Templates – Showcase your digital products (ebooks, courses, graphic designs, etc.) in photos that show them as a physical product (great for sales pages and promotional images).

Launchaco – A very user-friendly page builder for creating a sales page or landing page to promote a product or service.  For an affordable yearly fee you can connect your own domain name, but you can use the software for free by using a WordPress plugin like Pretty Links to create a redirect from your website to the URL hosted at their domain.

Checkli – Easily create free checklists as lead magnets.  Export your checklists as PDFs, share a read-only link to them, or embed a simple download form on your site to capture email addresses.

Business Management Tools

Quickbooks – Way easier than spreadsheets (once you get it set up) for tracking business earnings and expenses.

WordPress Plugins

Read this blog post for a list of WordPress plugins I like.

Blogger Education & Support

Starting a Blog

Start a Blog! – Free, self-paced, online course by me (Ashley)

Blogging as a Business

Troubleshoot Your Blog – Online course by me to help you figure out exactly what you want from your blog and make a plan for getting there.

Blogging Business Review – Service I offer to review your website and business and create a personalized Action Plan for your blog

Email Marketing

A Beginner’s Guide to ConvertKit – Free mini course

Email Rockstars – Online course about effective but non-pushy email marketing


5-Day SEO Bootcamp


The Lazy Guide to Affiliate Marketing – Online course

The Fast Guide to Launching – Online Course

Cut down on the overwhelm with these tools that save you time and make your business more efficient. | TheBloggingAboutBloggingBlog.com #bloggingtips #bloggers #blogging #bloggingbusinessTools that free your time to focus on what matters most in your business. | TheBloggingAboutBloggingBlog.com #bloggingtips #bloggers #blogging #bloggingbusiness


How to Get People to Share Your Blog

Tips for getting your website visitors to promote your blog.

Promoting your blog is hard work, but if you can get your site visitors to promote your blog for you, your blogging life will be that much easier!

Once you’ve managed to make people aware of your blog posts and actually click on them, how can you get them to also share your posts?

Step 1: Write content that people want to share.

I know this seems super obvious, but how many times have you clicked an intriguing title only to learn absolutely nothing you didn’t already know, or only to have someone tell you to buy a list of things you didn’t need?  Those articles weren’t written with the goal of helping you; they were written with the goal of getting ad revenue or link clicks!  And chances are, their strategy backfired when you immediately exited the page.

It’s not hard to {eventually} get people to share your blog posts and, yes, make money from ads and link clicks when you’re consistently delivering content people truly value, whether it’s a solution to a particularly painful problem, or a story that makes them laugh.Advice for making your blog posts more shareable. | TheBloggingAboutBloggingBlog.com #bloggingtips #bloggers #bloggingforbeginners #socialmedia

So my biggest piece of advice for getting people to share your blog?  Write with your audience’s best interests in mind.  With every blog post you write, make every effort to…

  1. Help them!
  2. Entertain them!

Other characteristics of high-quality blog posts include:

  • Lots of images (to attract people’s attention)
  • Lots of subheadings (to keep people moving down the page)
  • Short paragraphs (which keep people from getting lost in the text)
  • Lots of useful information (go above and beyond!)
  • Bullet points (see what I did there?)

If people receive genuine value from your blog posts, they will happily share it, either to pass it along to others, or to save it for their own future reference.

Step 2: Make it easy for people to share.

Step 1 is really the most important, because if someone wants to share your content badly enough, they will, even if they have to copy and paste a URL in order to do so.  But you’ll get a lot more shares if you don’t make your site visitors work so hard.

The best way to make it easy for people to share your blog posts is to add social sharing links at the top and bottom of each page with the help of a social sharing plugin.  I use one on this blog called Social Warfare which looks like this:


Advice for making your blog posts more shareable. | TheBloggingAboutBloggingBlog.com #bloggingtips #bloggers #bloggingforbeginners #socialmediaBut beyond installing a social sharing plugin, there are other ways you can encourage and make it easy for people to share your posts.  Here are a few ideas:

  • Include at least one nicely designed, Pinterest-sized image in your blog post with a “Share on Pinterest” button (the paid version of the Social Warfare plugin will automatically add one of these buttons to all your images).
  • Remind people to share it!  You can add a sentence to the top of your post reminding people to “save this for later”, or you could post it on social media with a caption inviting people to “tag someone who should read this.”
  • Add a click-to-Tweet plugin to your blog and use it to feature particularly quotable parts of your blog posts in attractive boxes that invite site visitors to “Tweet this!”

[bctt tweet=”If you want some great blogging tips, check out The Blogging About Blogging Blog!” username=”makebloggingfun”]

Step 3: Make it look good when it’s shared.

This one is so frequently overlooked.  When a link to your blog is shared on Facebook, Twitter, or Pinterest, what does it look like?  Does an eye-catching image show up with an intriguing description that will make others likely to click?  If not, you’re missing a huge opportunity to draw new visitors to your site!

How to make your blog look good when it’s shared on Twitter and Facebook:

Find out any link on your blog looks like when it’s shared on Twitter or Facebook by pasting it in the box at the following sites:

Go here to see what any URL on your blog looks like on Twitter: https://cards-dev.twitter.com/validator

Go here to see what any URL on your blog looks like on Facebook: https://developers.facebook.com/tools/debug

Don’t forget to check your site’s home page in addition to blog posts and pages!

The easiest way to change the image and description (called “meta data”) that gets shared on these social networks is to use the Yoast SEO Plugin.  First, you need to go to the “Social” tab under the Yoast SEO settings in your WordPress sidebar and make sure meta data is enabled for Facebook and Twitter (and also Pinterest, though the process for controlling what your site looks like on Pinterest is a bit more involved).

How to make your blog look good when it's shared on Facebook.

Then, you should see a place under your blog post editor where you can write a title and description and upload an image specifically for Facebook and Twitter that looks like this:

How to edit social sharing meta data using the Yoast SEO plugin

Be sure to follow the image size recommendations to make sure your image doesn’t show up blurry or with part of it cut off.

Important: After you make changes to the meta data for a particular web page, you have to paste your URL into the Facebook “sharing debugger” and the Twitter “card validator” I linked to above and then click “scrape again” before the changes will start showing up.  (And if you can’t get the URL to look right for Twitter, try first shortening your URL at Bitly.com and then pasting the bit.ly version into the Twitter card validator.)Advice for making your blog posts more shareable. | TheBloggingAboutBloggingBlog.com #bloggingtips #bloggers #bloggingforbeginners #socialmedia

How to make your blog look good when it’s shared on Pinterest:

Pinterest is a little different because you don’t get to choose what image is shared on Pinterest; your site visitors get to choose from all the images on the page.  That’s why it’s so important that you have an eye-catching, vertical image that includes the title of your blog post and your website URL and includes a keyword-rich description as alt text (which you can add in the same area where you write a caption or description for your image).

Consider this: 2/3 of all the content on Pinterest was pinned directly from someone’s business website.  That means people want to pin your stuff!  And, it means your chances are much greater that Pinterest users will visit your site through pins your site visitors have shared than through pins you yourself have uploaded to Pinterest…but only if you give your site visitors a nice image to pin!

Two thirds of all the content on Pinterest was pinned directly from someone’s business website.

If you don’t have a nice image for your site visitors to choose when they click to share the page on Pinterest, then if they end up sharing your post at all, they’ll be forced to choose from whichever random images happen to show up (which could be a thumbnail of your face or a horizontal image of scenery that no one will ever care to click on). On the other hand, if you have a have an attractive, informative image with a keyword-rich description, your visitors will likely pin it, and it will be out there bringing more visitors to your site.

Consider the example below from my article about how I became a blogger.  Which one would you be most likely to pin as a visitor to my site?  If I hadn’t included any Pinterest images on this page, which one would you have chosen?  And which ones do you think are most likely to bring me more traffic if you were to share them publicly on Pinterest?

It's important to include Pinterest optimized images on every blog post.
Which of these images would you choose to pin?

By the way – if you visit my blog post referenced above, you will find those Pinterest images don’t actually even appear on the page.  They only show up when you click to pin the page.  If you don’t want your website cluttered with images targeted at Pinterest users, you can use CSS to hide them.  There are several ways to do that; here’s one way, and this is how I do it.

UPDATE: There is now a really cool plugin available that makes it super easy to add Pinterest images to a blog post, write a separate blog post description for Pinterest, and mark which images you do and don’t want to show up as options for people to pin!  The plugin is called Tasty Pins and you can check it out here!

I recommend installing a Pinterest browser button to make it easy to check any page to see what images come up as options for pinning, but if you have a social sharing plugin installed on your site, you can use them to check as well (though, depending on your plugin settings, you might not be able to check your home page that way).

Additionally, and especially if your blog is in a niche that’s popular on Pinterest, you should apply for rich pins through a business Pinterest account so that your website name will show up in the pin along with the title of the blog post.

Advice for making your blog posts more shareable. | TheBloggingAboutBloggingBlog.com #bloggingtips #bloggers #bloggingforbeginners #socialmediaAdvice for making your blog posts more shareable. | TheBloggingAboutBloggingBlog.com #bloggingtips #bloggers #bloggingforbeginners #socialmediaStep 4: Remember the Golden Rule.

Want other people to promote you?  Start by promoting them!  Link to them in a blog post (be sure to ask permission before using their photos, though).  Share their articles on social media (and don’t forget to tag them!).  Tell your followers to follow them.  If you do this frequently (and genuinely), eventually people will start to take notice and, as long as you’ve followed the rest of the steps, some of them will probably start sharing your blog in return!


11 FAQ’s About Blogging As a Business (Including How I Make Money)

How I make money from my blog (and other frequently asked questions)A few months back, I was tagged for a blogging challenge called “The Sunshine Blogger Award” on a blog called Nerdy Momsy, and I thought I would post my response here at The Blogging About Blogging Blog instead of at RV Inspiration to give my subscribers here a chance to get to know me a little better.  I won’t post all the original rules or tag any specific people, but if you’re interested in playing feel free to consider yourself tagged and take a look at the rules here.This game is an opportunity to get to know other bloggers.

As I mentioned in a similar post I wrote called 7 Things About Me, I feel obligated to mention that there is a potential risk associated with participating in “Blogger Awards” on a regular basis.  If you’re constantly linking to other bloggers who are also linking back to you in return, it’s possible that Google might view this as a “link scheme” (an organized plan for getting other bloggers to link back to your blog in order to improve your search engine ranking, which is strictly prohibited by Google).  You can avoid this risk by changing any links to other bloggers in the blogging challenge from a “do-follow” link to a “no-follow” link, which keeps it from “counting” in Google.  (If you’re not sure what I’m talking about, you can learn more about no-follow and do-follow links here.)

However, I thought the questions Nerdy Momsy asked me were really good, and the perfect sort of thing to share on TheBloggingAboutBloggingBlog, so I was excited to have a chance to answer these questions!

1. What is your brand?

My first brand (the one I was tagged in for this post) was RV Inspiration.  I have worked really hard to make that website the go-to resource for people who are looking for any kind of ideas pertaining to RV interiors: organization ideas, decorating ideas, renovation ideas, etc.

This year I started two new blogs: this one, and another one called Inspired to Downsize, and I’ve worked to craft a unique brand for each of them.  At Inspired to Downsize, I blog about the topics I teach about in my online course series on downsizing: how to sort through and get rid of unneeded belongings in order to move into a smaller home (or RV!), prepare for retirement and aging, or simply adopt a more minimalistic lifestyle.

And with The Blogging About Bogging Blog, I’m hoping to be able to pass the tools and techniques I’ve learned about from my own experience with blogging along to other bloggers!  I love helping people, and really all of my websites centralize around that: providing resources and education to people who are looking for help with the same things I’ve already had a little experience with.

2. What do you want people to know about your blog, website, or mission?

How badly do you want it? | by Ashley Mann of TheBloggingAboutBloggingBlog.com #blog #blogging #bloggingtips #entrepreneurquotes
Pin it!

I always take a proactive, positive, problem-solving approach to everything in life, and I apply that to the topics I blog about.  I really like quotes like, “Where there’s a will, there’s a way” and “Whether you think you can or you think you can’t, you’re right” because they express how I view just about any endeavor or problem I run into.  I want people to know that whenever they’re wondering if a thing is possible (whether it’s an RV renovation project or turning a blog into a profitable business) it’s not a matter of “if” but “how” (and also, “how badly do you want it?”).

3. If you make money from your blog, how are you doing it?  How long did it take to start making money? Can you live off of it?

I worked on building RV Inspiration full time (probably 5-7 hours per day on average) for about six months before I made my first $30 or so through Amazon affiliate sales.  Then my traffic started taking off and my Amazon revenue started going up by about $100/month over the next six months or so.  I tried a few things along the way, like writing a short ebook and starting a Zazzle store, but these never made me enough money for me to continue focusing on them.  I also tried creating banner ads to some products and companies I was an affiliate for, and while I got a few clicks, none of these converted to sales.

Finally, after I’d been blogging for about a year, I decided to try an ad network, Ezoic, and, lo and behold, was able to start generating about $1.5k-$2k/month in ad revenue overnight.  The key here, though, was that I already had enough blog traffic to make the ads worth it – about 140k pageviews/month at the time.  Now I’m looking for ways to diversify as well as increase my income so that I’m not fully reliant on ads.

4. What is your best advice for others regarding blogging and getting started?

If you’re wanting to make money blogging, it’s absolutely essential to view your blog posts as a product.  It’s easy to think of a blog as a personal diary (which is fine if you’re blogging for fun, but isn’t likely to interest anyone but a small handful of your most loyal followers unless it’s also relevant to them in some way) or, on the opposite end of the spectrum, to get so focused on making money that your articles come off as salesy (like you just wrote them as a vehicle for affiliate links). 

Every blog post you write should be written with the goal of benefitting your intended audience in some way.  If, and only if, your readers receive value from what you write, will they be willing to pay you for it (whether by clicking your affiliate link, singing up for your email list, or staying on your page long enough for you to get some ad income).

If your readers receive value from what you write, they be willing to pay you for it (directly or indirectly).

5. What’s your favorite WordPress plugin and why?  If you don’t use WordPress, what is your favorite blogging tool?

I don’t really have just one favorite as there are several that are really essential, but I’ve listed a few of my favorites that have saved me a lot of time in this blog post.

6. Do you use any social media organizers like Hootsuite or Buffer?  Which ones and how do they help you?

Yes!  And they save me SO much time that I wholeheartedly recommend using them as soon as you can afford them so you can focus on one thing at a time without altogether neglecting other important aspects of your business.

A behind-the-scenes look at my social media management | by Ashley Mann of TheBloggingAboutBloggingBlog.com | #blog #blogging #blogtools #blogger
Click the image to view larger.

Here are the ones I use:

  • SmarterQueue – If I could only pick one to use, this would be it.  I use it for Facebook and Twitter, but you can also use it for Instagram, LinkedIn, and Pinterest.  Not only does it let you schedule posts in advance, it also recycles those posts by re-publishing them after you’ve gone through everything in your queue.  Of course you control what is posted and when, and you can also set up categories of content that post at different frequencies or seasonally (only at Christmas, for example).  You can also bulk import content from other blogs in your niche to create posts from.  Once you get some initial content loaded in, then your social media accounts will be consistently sharing fresh, relevant content on autopilot.  You can get a free month trial through my referral link.
  • Buffer – Similar to SmarterQueue, but without the post recycling feature.  I still use the free version (which only lets you have 5 posts per account scheduled at one time) for when I come across content I want to share right away, so that way it won’t distract from something else that may have just been posted by SmarterQueue.  If you absolutely can’t afford to pay for any social media scheduling tools yet, this one can at least help you make social sharing a weekly rather than daily task.
  • Later.com – I use this one for Instagram, although it can also be used for Facebook, Twitter, and Pinterest (but without the post recycling feature).  I prefer it for Instagram because it’s more suited for sharing photos, and it also allows me to schedule multi-photo Instagram posts and stories.
  • Tailwind – I don’t really think of it as a social media tool because I don’t think of Pinterest as social media, but it is a scheduling tool that I found to be worth paying for sooner rather than later.  To be able to spend about one hour per month scheduling posts for Pinterest AND to have my Pinterest account constantly pumping out highly relevant content means that this tool has literally paid for itself many times over.  Here’s my affiliate link if you’re interested in trying it out for free.

I will add, I actually tested some of the more expensive social media schedulers (including Hootsuite and AgoraPulse), fully planning to pay for their $99/month version if I felt they would meet my needs, but none of them offered every feature I was looking for, so for me it made more sense to use a few different (cheaper) tools that were really good at one thing rather than trying to use one expensive tool for everything.

I go into more detail about all of this in this blog post: How I Stay On Top of Social Media

7. How do you promote your blog? Do you use any special tools?  Do you pay to promote it?

I promote my blog by sharing blog posts on Pinterest on a regular basis (using Tailwind, like I described above), and through SEO (search engine optimization).  I know SEO can be a daunting topic to bloggers just starting out, but really it comes down to making sure you’re writing content that people are searching for and want to link to, and doing a few technical things to make sure Google can see what you’re doing.  This article is a great place to start learning about and implementing SEO best practices.

When I first started blogging I also promoted my blog by sharing relevant and helpful blog posts in Facebook groups that allowed it (I was very careful not to abuse this privilege and to only share posts that I KNEW people would find extremely helpful.)  I promote my blog on social media using the tools I mentioned above, and I also promote it in Instagram stories through my Instagram account, Instagram.com/RVinspiration, which allows URLs to be added to the stories because it has over 10k followers.  But I get relatively few clicks from social media compared with Pinterest and Google.

So far I have not paid to promote my blog because I need to be able to measure how much revenue I’ll earn per click before I can determine how much it makes sense to pay per click, and most paid promotions don’t result in income unless you’re driving traffic to a specific lead generation funnel (for example, a freebie related to a product you’re selling).  Those are things I’ll be experimenting with later this year.

Answers to some of the most commonly asked questions about blogging as a business. | by Ashley Mann of TheBloggingAboutBloggingBlog.com | #bloggingtips #bloggingadvice #blogging #startablog
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8. Do you use Pinterest, Quora, Reddit, or other sites to drive traffic to your website?  How do you do it?

As I said above, much of RV Inspiration’s traffic comes from Pinterest.  In October of 2017 I took a great (affordable!) Pinterest and Tailwind training course by RV blogger Bryanna Royal, and even though I had already been using Pinterest and Tailwind and wasn’t sure how much extra I could really get out of the course, there were just a few key tweaks I needed to make that together ended up making a huge difference for me.

However, Pinterest might not be the best traffic source for everyone; it really just depends on if your content is something Pinterest users are looking for.  The important thing is to know where your audience hangs out and to be visible to them there.  For example, a finance blogger might find LinkedIn or Twitter a better place to build a solid presence, and lifestyle bloggers might find their community on Instagram or Reddit.

I have posted on Quora some in the past and get a few clicks each month from those posts, so I can see how that strategy could work.  I also know niche-specific forums can be a good source of traffic, but that’s not something I’ve pursued yet.  I haven’t tried Reddit because at the time I started my blog there weren’t any substantial communities there related to my niche, but it would probably worth going back there now to check (or possibly even starting one myself).

In November of 2018 I took an SEO course, and after that started seeing my organic (search engine) traffic increase.  Continuing to grow my organic traffic is a long-term goal of mine because it’s more reliable and because there’s more of a science to it, unlike Pinterest, which sometimes feels like throwing stuff at my Pinterest boards to see what sticks.

9. Does your blog act as a marketing tool for other business activities or is it stand alone? If it’s only part of the platform, what is your bigger picture?

RV Inspiration pretty much stands alone as its own business, although I do intend to market my new blogs to my audience there.  I’m sure I’ll rely pretty heavily on RV Inspiration to help me get my new blogs off the ground, but once they have gained some momentum, they will pretty much be their own thing as well.  And really, they aren’t blogs.  They are all niche websites, and I hope to create more of them in the future around a few different topics I’m interested in.  That way I won’t be fully dependent on any one website for income.

I do know other bloggers who use their blogs more as a support piece for their other business endeavors, however.  For example, I know a few RV bloggers who do paid speaking gigs at RV shows and events, and I know a few who have ended up launching a separate business as a direct result of building an audience and connecting with others in their niche and discovering a need they could offer services to fill.  A couple of specific examples to show you what I mean:

  • Camille Attell started her blog MoreThanAWheelin.com as a blog about her own RV travels, but it later evolved into a platform where she helps people find remote work to fund their full time RV lifestyle, and she now sells an online course called Remote Work 101 and coaching which are the core of her business.
  • Bryanna Royal has a travel blog called CrazyFamilyAdventure.com, but she ended up starting a separate business offering services to other bloggers and businesses as a virtual assistant.  (She also offers an online course about how to start a virtual business using the same skills you develop as a blogger, if you’re looking for a way to supplement your blogging income.)

10. Do you have a mailing list?  How do you use it? (I’m really very interested in this answer!)

YES.  In fact, my email list has evolved to be a very valuable part of my business.  If Pinterest, Facebook, and Instagram were to shut down tomorrow, and if RV Inspiration were to somehow disappear, I would still have a business because of my email list, because at any time I could start a new blog or create a new product or sell a new affiliate product and launch any or all of those things to my subscribers.

The key to this is 1) making sure the people on your list are on it because they’re interested in you and your brand (not because they put in their “extra” email address just so they could get some free download you offered them that has nothing to do with the things you blog about), and 2) Grouping the people on your list based on their interests so that you can later target them with offers they are likely to be interested in (and increase your email open rate by only sending emails to people who are likely to open them).

My cat Professor Theodore a.k.a. "Kitty" | TheBloggingAboutBloggingBlog.com
This is an obvious opportunity to share a picture of my cat. Meet Professor Theodore, a.k.a. “Kitty”. 🙂

Example: If I send out an email linking to a blog post about RVing with Cats, then everyone who clicks the link to the blog post is tagged as being interested in cats.  Later, if I come across a great affiliate product that might interest cat owners, I can send an email about it that will only go to people I know are interested in cats, without bothering the people on my list who aren’t interested in cats and potentially make them unsubscribe.  And if I end up getting hundreds of people on my list who are interested in cats, maybe one day that could evolve into a whole new blog all about cats.  In fact, having lots of people on my email list who were interested in learning about blogging is the reason I started this blog!

You might be wondering how I tag people who click certain links.  That’s something I do using ConvertKit.com, my email provider.  When I first started out, I used MailChimp, which is a great free option to start with and I think has actually added some features since I left, but I definitely love ConvertKit for making email marketing (including forms that offer a freebie and feed directly into an automated email sequence!) super easy.

11. Do you teach classes or workshops?  Where can I find you? How did you get started in that?

Yes! I have a few online courses and I also offer blog consultation.  You can read more about both of those and see what I offer here.  Also, if you sign up for my email list (which you can do below), I’ll send you emails with (free) training, and I’ll also let you know as new opportunities become available!

How long it took my blog to become profitable (and other frequently asked questions about blogging as a business) #startablog #bloggingforbeginners #bloggingtips #blogging How I make money from my blog (and other frequently asked questions) #startablog #bloggingforbeginners #bloggingtips How my email list helps me make money and other FAQ's about blogging | #startablog #bloggingforbeginners #bloggingtips #blogging

How to Make Money Blogging: 5 Not-So-Simple Steps

This is an article I’ve been meaning to write for quite some time.  So many people are interested in the idea of blogging as a way to make money while traveling, full-time RVing, or working from home, and as someone who has been earning a full-time living as the owner of this website since early 2018, I want to share what I believe are the essential ingredients for success in blogging as a business.

Note: Even though this article focuses on blogging/writing articles, the same principles also apply to becoming a successful YouTuber or Instagram Influencer, and many bloggers multiply their reach by creating video and social media content as well as blog content.

Step 1: Understand the difference between blogging and content marketing.

Even though I often refer to this website as a blog, a more accurate term for it would be a “niche content website”.  Here’s what I mean by that:

  • A personal blog consists mainly of articles about or based on the author’s own experiences and opinions.
  • A content website publishes informational articles that may or may not have anything to do with the author.  Larger content websites often pay freelance writers or have a team of staff writers to write the articles.
  • A niche content website is a content website that targets an audience within a particular niche.  RVinspiration.com is a niche content website because its audience is RV owners and people interested in RVing, and most of its articles provide general information about RVing rather than being about my personal RVing experience (and as of when I’m writing this, I don’t currently own an RV!).

Content websites are, in my opinion, easier to grow and monetize than personal blogs, because you can create whatever content your audience is Googling without being limited to that which you’ve personally experienced.  For example, I have never personally replaced the countertops in an RV, but I published an article about replacing RV countertops by compiling my research on the topic.

Here’s a picture of someone who may be blogging.

If your blog is completely about you, finding people who are interested in reading about your experiences and opinions can be a challenge, especially if there are lots of other people like you writing similar content.

It’s definitely possible to make money with a personal blog, particularly if you’re doing something unique that a lot of people would like to do but not many people are blogging about.  (Think Gone With the Wynns before anyone else under the age of 30 was blogging about living in an RV.)  However, from my observation as someone who knows dozens of bloggers, getting a personal blog to the point where it’s making more than a sideline income is the exception rather than the rule.

Additionally, all personal blogs that are making substantial money are businesses first and foremost.  Even though these bloggers may generate their content from their personal experience, they don’t just write whatever they feel like.  They write content they know will be popular with their audience.

FollowYourDetour.com, HeathAndAlyssa.com, and CrazyFamilyAdventure.com are all examples of personal RV blogs that (after years of work) provide what could be considered a “full-time” income for their authors (who are all people I have met personally).  But if you read the articles at these websites, you’ll notice that they are all written with the intent to inform and help their audience, and they all target the needs of a particular audience within the RV niche rather than simply telling a story about the author’s general RVing experiences.

Step 2: Plan to do a lot of work that isn’t writing.

A lot of people I talk to seem to have the idea that I write a blog post, hit publish, and then it’s immediately read by all of my “followers”.  That may have been how blogging worked 20 years ago, but that’s not how it works now!

This is the process I follow for each article I write:

  • Topic research: Talk to people, gather quotes, take photos or ask people for permission to use theirs, read tons of other articles on the topic.
  • Keyword research: Use SEO tools to determine what words people are using to Google the topic so I can be sure to include them in my article.
  • Write the article and add photos (or write the article around the photos).
  • Add relevant links.
  • Add on-page SEO such as photo alt-text (which are like captions that only search engines see) and a Google description.
  • Create promotional graphics for Facebook, Twitter and Pinterest, and embed them in the article.
  • Hit publish.
  • Schedule the post for ongoing promotions across all my social media.
  • Email my subscribers to let them know I’ve published a new blog post.
  • Email anyone I referred to in the article to let them know the article is live.

In addition to publishing articles, I also do things like:

  • Compose emails to subscribers
  • Respond to emails from subscribers
  • Respond to emails from solicitors and partners
  • Make technical updates and improvements to my website
  • Update old articles, replacing broken links, adding fresh content, etc.
  • Network with other bloggers
  • Participate in mutually beneficial collaborations with other bloggers and business owners, including writing guest articles, doing video and podcast interviews, and promoting their content.
  • Take online courses that help me grow my business

…and that’s all just for RVinspiration.com.  Usually I’ve got at least one other major project in the works at the same time–currently it’s my newest website, RenovatedRVsForSale.com.

I probably spend less than 10% of my work time actually writing blog posts/articles.  When I do publish a new article, it may get a few visits from my email subscribers, but then weeks will go by where no one is reading it.  Eventually, fingers crossed, it will start showing up in Google and Pinterest search results and getting consistent daily traffic, but that only happens as a result of the non-writing work I’ve done over the years to build my Pinterest account and improve my search engine rankings…work I learned to do as a result of taking online courses in SEO and Pinterest strategy.

All the work that I’ve described above is actually called Content Marketing.  Blogging as a business is really learning how to become a content marketer.

Step 3: Choose an audience instead of a niche.

So many “How to Make Money Blogging” courses tell you that the first step is to “Pick a niche”, meaning to choose a topic to blog about, and that it should be something you are already interested in.

I disagree with this approach.

If you start your blog planning to write about a specific topic you chose somewhat at random, maybe even create all your branding around that topic, you run the risk of one of these things happening:

  1. You’ll have trouble finding an audience for your content because there aren’t enough people searching for it.
  2. You’ll pick a topic that so many people are already blogging about that you’ll have trouble thinking of articles that haven’t already been written or making your content unique enough to outcompete blogs similar to yours.

It’s also quite possible that you could run out of ideas or lose interest in writing about the topic you chose and end up, like several bloggers I’ve known, having an identity crisis because the thing people know you for isn’t who you are anymore.

Here’s a picture of what may be a blogger’s desk.

That’s why instead of “picking a niche”, as in choosing a topic to write/create videos about, I believe a better approach to choosing a niche is to choose an audience with a problem you know you can solve or a need you believe you can fill.  Then, create content that solves that problem or fills that need.

Ideally, the audience you choose should be one you already have some kind of connection with and access to.  That way you can more easily determine what type of content to create by listening to your audience, and you may end up finding a surprising variety of topics to write about for that same audience (for example, this is a website about RVing, but here I am writing about blogging because I know a lot of RVers are interested in blogging).

Step 4: Create content your target audience is searching for.

A lot of people talk about “providing value” to your audience, and I’ve actually emphasized that a lot myself, but I think exactly what that means can be somewhat ambiguous.  After all, what’s valuable to one person may not be valuable to another, or maybe the person who would most value your content doesn’t know it exists and that they should be searching for it.

That’s why a much easier way to make sure the content you create actually gets in front of your audience is to create content you know your audience is searching for.  How do you know what they’re searching for?  Here are a few ways:

  • Become active in communities where your audience congregates (both online and in person) and pay attention the questions they’re asking and the problems they’re seeking advice for.
  • Survey members of your audience to find out what their biggest questions, needs, and pain points are.
  • Start typing a phrase related to your niche into Google or Pinterest and see how Autocomplete finishes the phrase.
  • Use keyword research tools such as Keywords Everywhere to see which keywords searches get the highest volume.

If you stumble upon a type of content a significant number of people are searching for and are unable to find, and you can create content that exactly matches what they’re looking for, then you’ve hit the jackpot!

That doesn’t mean every article you write should only be something you know will do well in Google.  Some articles you write may never get any clicks on Pinterest, but may be of interest to your email subscribers who have been following you for a while.  You may be able to introduce your email subscribers and social media followers to new topics they are interested in would never have thought of searching for.  But first you have to build your audience by giving them what they are searching for.

Step 5: Monetize once you have consistent traffic.

A lot of newbie bloggers spend a lot of time searching for or creating products to sell on their blog when their time might be better spent focusing on creating quality content and building an audience.  I was definitely guilty of that as a new blogger: I spent hours creating digital products, designing products for my Zazzle store, and putting affiliate banners on my website, all of which resulted in few or no sales.

Here’s a picture of a laptop that may belong to a blogger.

Once you’ve created a variety of quality content that is consistently being read/viewed by new people every day, ways to monetize your traffic will become apparent, whether it’s by putting ads on your site, creating digital products for the audience you’ve built, creating sponsored content, or something else you haven’t thought of yet.  You’ll also feel more confident approaching potential partners to pitch collaboration ideas knowing you have something of value to offer them (your audience) and are not just asking for a handout.

Note that “consistent traffic” doesn’t have to mean “a lot of traffic”.  I know bloggers who make more money than me with far fewer monthly website visitors than I have.  You just need some way to consistently grow your audience so that you always have a steady stream of new people discovering your content.

Alternatively: Figure out how to leverage your blog to make money from it indirectly.

Maybe you’ve done a lot of work to create a blog and have published lots of great content, but it’s not getting much traffic and you can’t figure out how to solve that problem.  Maybe after reading this article you feel you’ve made lots of mistakes and don’t see a path to success for your blog.

Does that mean your blog is just a huge waste of time and you should just give up now?  No!

I know lots of bloggers who don’t make much income from their blogs directly, but as an indirect result of their blogging efforts, they have been able to pivot into careers doing things like:

  • Freelance writing for other companies and publications within their niche
  • Presenting / speaking at events related to their niche
  • WordPress and website design and development
  • Offering education or coaching to a sub-niche within their niche
  • Offering copywriting, social media management, graphic design, or virtual assistant services to other business owners

Useful Links & Resources

If you are interested in leveraging the skills and credibility you’ve gained through blogging to start a career doing something else like I’ve described above, check out my Earning Money While RVing page for some relevant resources, and if you don’t see anything directly related to what you are looking for, feel free to reach out to me and I may be able to point you in the right direction or connect you with someone I know who is doing what you want to do.

If you’ve read this far and would still like to start a blog or YouTube channel, or if you already have a blog and would like to learn how to grow it and make it more profitable, visit my Blogging Resources page, where you’ll find links to my free course about on how to start a blog, my “Troubleshoot Your Blog” course, some resources for becoming a successful vlogger, and more.  Feel free to contact me with any questions you may have about blogging as well; I’m always happy to talk shop. 🙂

A New Chapter Begins: We Bought a Motorhome!

Originally published at RVinspiration.com.

In late 2015, my husband Josiah and I decided to make some drastic changes in our life in order to take decisive action that would move us toward our long-term goals of financial stability and time freedom. I decided to quit my job as a middle school English teacher, a career I had fallen into due to limited job availability but didn’t love, and Josiah, who had been working as a freelance web developer, decided that his path to financial success lay in commercial real estate.

In summer of 2016, we sold our house in our hometown of Springfield, Missouri, and bought a fifth wheel RV to live in full time. We also spent the retirement savings I’d accumulated during my five years of teaching on a coaching program to learn how to syndicate the purchase of commercial real estate in order to buy and sell apartments.

We couldn’t afford to buy a truck to haul our fifth wheel (we had financed the purchase of our RV before selling our house), so we had our RV hauled directly to a mobile home park in Kansas City, where we intended to buy our first property to launch our real estate career, after which point (we assumed) we’d be able to buy a truck and hit the road.

Our fifth wheel RV (and my car) parked at Shady Creek RV Park in Aubrey, Texas

That wasn’t quite how things turned out. I’ve previously written about how we ended up remaining stationary in our RV for three years while starting our own businesses (mine being RVinspiration.com, and Josiah’s being a commercial real estate software company) in these articles:

For a quicker read, this article about us published by Camping World does a great job of synopsizing our story: Why We RV: Ashley Mann of RV Inspiration.

Josiah and I were also each separately interviewed on The RV Entrepreneur Podcast if you’re interested in more of the details about our entrepreneurial journey:

The end of “Our RV Adventure

By the end of 2018, Josiah and I had both reached a point in our businesses where we were able to work from home and be truly location independent. At that point we were living in an RV park about 45 minutes north of Dallas, and it was really inconvenient because to go anywhere other than the grocery store required at least a 30 minute drive, so we were ready to figure out what we wanted to do next: Did we want to finally buy a truck and travel full time? Or did we want to pick somewhere else to live in our RV, knowing we could choose pretty much anywhere we wanted?

We made a list of the things we wanted in a place to live. Our list included:

  • Good coffee shops within 15 minutes of our house
  • Access to nature / outdoorsy activities
  • Easy to visit our families – Ideally within an easy day’s drive or a direct flight
  • A good place to train Brazilian Jiu Jitsu, preferably a Gracie affiliated school

My sister-in-law in Springfield was pregnant at that time, and I had planned to visit for a few weeks before and after the baby came to help out, so we decided to have our RV hauled to Springfield in January of 2019 to spend some time with family while we figured out our next move.

A funny thing happened, though. We realized we actually kind of liked Springfield, and that it checked almost every box on our list. It had lots of new restaurants that had opened since we’d left, more great coffee shops in close proximity to where we lived than anywhere we’d lived previously, and best of all, a new Jiu Jitsu gym whose head instructor was a third-degree black belt who had trained under Rickson Gracie.

Spending yet a third winter in a cold climate while living in our fifth wheel was the final straw for us: we were done with stationary RV life.

In March of 2019, we traveled (by plane) to the RV Entrepreneur Summit in Guntersville, Alabama, where I had been invited to give a presentation about blogging, and that made us think seriously about pulling the trigger and buying a truck so we could actually enjoy living in our RV and escape to somewhere warm during the winter. We even went truck shopping when we came home from the event.

Truck shopping in 2019

But something didn’t feel right. Even though we had achieved location independence and had much more time freedom as entrepreneurs than when we were working full time jobs, we were still in debt. We had several thousand dollars worth of credit card debt, and we owed nearly as much on our RV as we did when we bought it, so we decided financing an expensive truck at that point was not a good idea. When we looked at trading our RV for a lighter one that could be hauled with a less expensive truck, we realized that our RV had depreciated so that it was worth about 10k less than what we still owed on it.

The truth was, traveling was never our goal; freedom was. Freedom would include the ability to travel if we wanted to, but until we had achieved our goal of financial freedom and time freedom, spending time and money on travel felt like it would delay us from reaching that goal. So we abandoned the idea of buying a truck, and decided to start taking steps to sell our RV, which was eating up a huge portion of our monthly income.

In fall of 2019, we found a house to rent in an adorable older neighborhood that actually cost less than we were spending to live in our RV, so we moved, listed our RV for sale, and finally sold the RV spring of 2020 (we had to use credit cards to cover the 10k difference between the sale price and what we still owed).

I wrote a blog post summing up the end of that chapter of our lives, which you can read here: What We Liked & Didn’t Like About Living in an RV Full Time

Recently, some guy on the internet left the following comment on that blog post:

There’s a lot I could say about that comment and the guy who wrote it (the part about Josiah and martial arts is laughable to anyone who knows him), but in some ways, the guy’s not wrong. Buying a fifth wheel without considering the expense of the vehicle we would need to go with it is not something we would do again. Also, having debt and starting a new business are both huge sources of stress and very time consuming, and I personally would not want to add to those the stress and instability of having to pick up and move every few weeks or months. The ideal path to full time RVing would certainly be to reach stability first and THEN to buy an RV and start traveling.

But the ideal thing isn’t always possible at first, and in our case, the drastic step we took of selling our house and buying an RV wasn’t so much about traveling full time as it was a symbol of our commitment to change our life trajectory and take action toward making our dreams happen instead of waiting for things to happen on their own.

Even though we sold our first RV without ever having traveled in it, our living in it had these results:

  • I started RVinspiration.com, a business which now makes enough money to cover our monthly living expenses.
  • I developed skills through owning my business that make me confident that should anything ever happen to my website, I’ll never have to worry about being able to support myself but will be able earn a living doing work I enjoy and am good at while working from home or wherever I want, which was always a dream of mine.
  • We were able to easily and spontaneously relocate as needed to advance Josiah’s career and to be close to family when we decided to return to Springfield.
  • Perhaps most importantly, it taught us that much of what we experience in life is the result of our own choices and actions, and that if we don’t like our circumstances, we can and should work to change and improve them.

Buying Our Second RV

Last month (June of 2021), Josiah had a huge win when his software company was acquired, marking the beginning of a new chapter for us. We’ve got several big things in the works, including plans for Josiah and me to partner in a new business venture. We’ve decided we want to make Springfield our permanent home base, and last week we closed on the purchase of a house.

We plan to (finally) take some time to travel, to relax and to get our minds off of business. To be able to do that more easily (and to be able to bring our Kitty along), we decided to buy another RV–a motorhome this time, which we were able to pay all cash for!

We took this picture yesterday after we finalized the purchase of our motorhome and drove it to our new house. I chose to wear my t-shirt from RV Entrepreneur Summit 2019 that says, “Create your own rules!”, because that’s what we’ve been doing all along, it’s and what we’ll keep doing as we continue setting and reaching more of our goals!

Josiah and me in front of our newly purchased house and motorhome, July 2021

What We Did & Didn’t Like About Living in an RV Full Time

Originally published at RVinspiration.com.

In 2016, my husband Josiah and I sold our house and bought a fifth wheel RV which we called home for over three and in three different states (you can read that story here).  Though we were mostly stationary while we lived in it, we planned to eventually go on the road full time, but recently we made the decision to stop full time RVing, sell our RV, and move into a 1500 square foot rental home.

In this article, I thought I would share with you the reasons for our decision, some of the pros and cons of living in an RV, and some things to consider if you yourself are considering the full time RV lifestyle to make sure you enjoy the experience to the fullest and don’t end up with any regrets.

Our RV (and my car) parked at Shady Creek RV Park in Aubrey, Texas

The future of RV Inspiration

Several people have said to me, “Now that you’ve stopped living in your RV, are you going to continue blogging at your website?” The answer is emphatically, wholeheartedly, YES!

RV Inspiration is the very best thing that happened as a result of our living in an RV, and there’s no way I’m giving up my dream job any time soon!  I’m going to keep compiling and sharing useful and inspiring RV ideas here just the same as I have been for over two years now!

And I don’t think I’m done with RVing forever, either.  I would love to buy a small RV in a year or two that I can fix up and decorate and use for travel, and if/when I do that you can believe I’ll be blogging about it here!

This is the end of our first chapter of RV life–not the whole book!

What we loved about living in an RV

Owning Less Stuff

One of the biggest immediate rewards of RV life was being freed from owning a bunch of stuff I was keeping only because I felt afraid of or guilty about letting go of it.  It’s been wonderful to adopt a lifestyle where everything I own has as purpose, I know where to find whatever I’m looking for, and I generally feel less attached to my possessions.

When I was a kid my biggest fear was losing my home and belongings in a house fire, but after downsizing and facing my fear of letting go of sentimental items, I’ve reached a point where honestly feel that nothing I own would feel too devastating for me to lose.

Even now, living in a larger house again, I’m happy that I reduced the number of things I own because I can use the extra space to create an environment I enjoy spending time in instead of one that’s full of clutter and things I feel obligated to find a place for.

If you’re interested in downsizing and decluttering (whether or not to live in an RV), you might also enjoy my other blog, InspiredToDownsize.com.

Flexibility to Relocate

Being able to easily move to a different state was a key factor in Josiah’s career development, especially when he started his software company.  I won’t go into that story here, but if you’re interested you can listen to him talk about it on The RV Entrepreneur Podcast.  Our ability to quickly and easily move also enabled us to easily return to our hometown of Springfield, Missouri to help out a family member when she had a baby.

Items in our RV packed for travel

Each move took us just three days: one day to remove our skirting, pack up some of the loose items in the RV, and secure the furniture, one day in transit (we paid someone from uShip.com to haul our RV for us) and one day to unpack and put things back in place.  Then we were in our new home!

No Yard Work

When we had a house, I had a garden and lots of flower beds, and while I very much enjoyed these, they were also a lot of work.  Staying in RV parks and mobile home parks that take care of the lawn maintenance has spoiled us!

Of course, not all full time RVers escape yard work; some end up buying a plot of land to park or even homestead on.

The RV Community

Me with Liz Wilcox, founder of “The Virtual Campground”

For me making friends with other full time RVers was an unexpected benefit to RV life.

When we first had the idea of living in an RV, I had only ever known one other family to have done it, and it seemed like a wild and adventurous idea.  Come to find out, thousands of people of all ages across the U.S. and even around the world are choosing to live in RVs and are connecting with one another in online communities.

Blogging about RVing has given me a way to connect with other RV bloggers, many of which have become real friends which I’ve been able to meet in person at RV shows and meetups like The RV Entrepreneur Summit.  (I’ve known other RVers who enjoy meeting people at the Escapees RV Club meetups.)


Increased Earning Potential

This was definitely the biggest benefit for us.  When we were living in Springfield before, our cost of living was shockingly low, yet so were our salaries, and our job opportunities were limited.

Daily life consisted of me coming home from work so tired I had trouble having time or energy to pursue my interests, exercise, or cook a healthy meal.  Josiah often worked late into the night building websites, scrambling to get them done so he could get paid, and hoping to find a new client before the money from the last one ran out.  Though we enjoyed many aspects of our life, it wasn’t what we wanted to do forever.

Leaving Springfield exposed us to ideas and experiences that created new opportunities for us.  Moving to a major city allowed Josiah to get a higher paying job that allowed him to develop skills that eventually enabled him to start his own company.

Since building remote businesses that have brought us increased time and financial freedom, we’ve realized we actually like living in Springfield–partly because we have more time (and money!) to enjoy it, and partly because we no longer feel stuck here.

What we hated about living in an RV

Hate is probably too strong of a word, but these were definitely some parts of RV life we didn’t love which eventually contributed to our decision to stop full time RVing.

Josiah sweating as he troubleshoots our on our first day of RV life

Constant RV maintenance

We knew RV life would come with RV maintenance, but that became very real to us the first day we moved into our RV.  After closing on our house, we drove our U-Haul 3 1/2 hours north to Kansas City where we’d had our RV delivered a week earlier…and discovered that due to a heat wave that week, our main air conditioning unit had stopped working, and our RV was 99 degrees inside!

That was just the first of several maintenance headaches we experienced over the years.  Fortunately we had a good RV warranty that covered the cost of most of these repairs, but they were still a huge inconvenience when they did happen.

The last big issue we had was this past winter when our furnace wouldn’t ignite, resulting in a few sleepless nights staying in a hotel with our cat…right in the middle of a busy work week.

Lack of RV parks near major cities

Many people who live in a camper or motorhome choose to do so because they want to spend a lot of time out in nature at national parks, beaches, and remote areas.  We, however, like being close to restaurants, coffee shops, gyms, yoga studios, grocery stores with plenty of selection, and other amenities that come with living in a mid- to medium-sized city.

The problem is, most major cities don’t have RV parks right in town, and those that do, especially those in more desirable climates, typically have long wait lists for people wanting a long-term spot.

In Kansas City, we found a mobile home park to live in just 15 minutes from downtown, but it wasn’t in the best part of town.  In Dallas, the closest place we could find was 45 minutes north of the city.  The most convenient location we lived in was the last place we stayed–a mobile home and RV park in Springfield, Missouri–but Springfield isn’t exactly a popular RV destination!

Cold weather

Our first winter in Kansas City, our RV skirted with vinyl skirting we made ourselves

RVers who travel have the luxury of being able to live in their ideal climate year round.  But since we were tied to a job in a physical location, that meant spending two winters in Kansas City, where winter temperatures regularly drop below freezing and occasionally below zero.

Even with a four-season RV we had to do extra work each fall to prepare for living in our RV in sustained cold, which was an inconvenience in addition to the fact that I just plain old hate being cold!

When we lived in Texas I was hopeful that I would finally get to escape the cold for winter–we had talked about moving farther south for a few months–but my sister-in-law was having a baby in early February, and I wanted to be in town to help out, so we ended up back in Springfield just in time for year three of cold weather RVing.

Less space for activities

We actually never felt too cramped in our RV (admittedly, our fifth wheel was bigger than the campers and motorhomes many full time RVers call home!).  Some people complain about being in such close proximity to family members with no space to call their own, but that wasn’t something we minded.

When we lived in Kansas City, we were just 15 minutes away from just about anything we wanted to do.  I attended yoga classes 3-4 days per week at a yoga studio just 10 minutes away, Josiah worked out at a Planet Fitness on his way home from work, and each weekend we would visit downtown restaurants and coffee shops.

Me practicing jiu jitsu in Springfield, MO 🙂

Living north of Dallas, though, we were 30-40 minutes away from the nearest yoga studio, and even a fitness gym was at least 20 minutes away.  We weren’t near any locations to get out and enjoy nature, either.  The only thing we were able to do regularly for exercise was to take walks around our RV park.  We missed activities we had enjoyed at other stages in our life, including rock climbing, road biking, and martial arts.  I occasionally did yoga outside…until our yard became infested with fire ants!

After we moved back to Springfield, we both became very involved in a local jiu jitsu class, and that made us both wish we had room for mats at home so we could drill what we were learning in class.  Also, Josiah is a pianist/singer/songwriter, and while he did have an electric keyboard in the RV, he started really wishing for an acoustic piano and recording equipment.  It became clear to us that our ideal lifestyle was not centered around travel, but around our hobbies, and living in an RV no longer made sense for us.

Perhaps if we had been mobile we would have taken up hobbies like hiking, kayaking, and other physical activities which a lot of outdoor-enthusiast RVers enjoy, but since we were stationary, we didn’t have access to those activities.

Not owning a truck

Most of our complaints with RV life wouldn’t have existed if we’d owned a truck or had bought a motorhome instead of a fifth wheel that would have given us mobility, but it just wasn’t in our budget when we started out.  We knew going into it that we were going to be sacrificing at first in order to hopefully earn the freedom we wanted, and to a certain extent, that’s exactly what happened.

However, once we were finally both working remotely, we ran into another problem that we hadn’t accounted for: the SIZE of truck we needed to pull our giant fifth wheel (an F-350 or Dodge 3500) was much more expensive than we realized.

We certainly enjoyed the extra living space that came with a giant 37-foot fifth wheel, but then we met a neighbor who had a four-season fifth wheel almost as big as ours but significantly lighter, and I immediately regretted not paying more attention to weight when we were shopping for our RV.  At that point we started looking the possibility of trading our RV for a smaller/lighter one, but that’s when we ran into….

The cost

Unlike some RVers who begin their journey by selling their house in, say, California, and paying cash for an RV, we started out by selling a house that had a mortgage payment of $330/month and financing the purchase of our RV.  By the time we added insurance, an extended warranty, and lot rent, our monthly living expenses had nearly tripled (and that was without the truck!).

Fortunately our income increased in proportion to our expenses, but when we looked at what we still owed on the RV to see about trading it for something lighter, we found that most of our three years’ worth of payments had been paid to interest, and our RV was worth several thousand less than what we still owed on it.  Getting a different RV was not going to be an option for us until we could recover our loss.

Our conclusion

Since we weren’t really interested in traveling full time, doubling our debt to buy a truck for occasional use didn’t make financial for us, but living stationary in an RV in Springfield didn’t make much sense, either, especially when we found a spacious rental house in a beautiful neighborhood at the same price we were paying to live in our RV.  That’s when we made the decision to move out of the RV, sell it, and cut our losses.  I can see us buying another RV at some point, but for now we’re enjoying living in a house again. 🙂

Full time RVing was about freedom for us, as it is for many people.  But freedom means something different to everyone.  We were primarily seeking financial freedom, and even though we’re not quite there yet, the path to get there is now open to us and financial freedom feels completely attainable, whereas it would have been a long and difficult process for us to attain if we hadn’t taken the plunge and gone on this journey.  We were also seeking time freedom, something we do have now which is even more valuable to us than financial stability, since time is the one thing we can’t replace.

Is full time RV living right for you?

Would I recommend living in an RV?  Absolutely!  But not for everyone.  After dipping my toes in the lifestyle and as a result of many conversations with other full time RVers, here are my opinions about who should and shouldn’t consider the full time RV lifestyle.

I think full time RVing can be a great option for you, IF…..

1. You can afford it.

I’ve seen lots of people jump into full time RVing planning to just figure out things like finding cheap places to camp and getting a travel-friendly job on the back end, and sometimes that works out for people…but sometimes it doesn’t.

RVing can come with some hidden costs, so I would recommend Googling something like “cost of full time RVing” and cross-checking your own math to make sure you haven’t overlooked anything before making any major or drastic decisions.  The blog Chickery’s Travels is an excellent resource for budgeting help, and they also have a useful ebook called Full-Time RV Finance.  I’ve shared more resources for calculating your RV living expenses and earning money on the road on these resource pages:

Budget RVing Resources

Resources for Earning Money While RVing

2. You can handle the maintenance.

I recommend that RV owners budget monthly for the inevitable repairs, and unless you’re an experienced handyman or woman, or determined to become one, I would also recommend getting an RV warranty if your RV doesn’t come with one.  (Even if you don’t mind DIY repairs, you might still consider a warranty; with our warranty, many of our repairs came out about the same on cost as if we had done them ourselves, as I explain in more detail in this article.)

Fortunately there are some great resources available that can help you repair and maintain your RV yourself, many of which I’ve listed on my RV Life Resource Page.  YouTube is another excellent resource for learning to fix and maintain trailers and motorhomes.

3. Your whole household is on board.

An RV is a very small space to occupy with an unhappy person.  Sure, you can beg or force your family members to join you on your RV adventure, but how much will you enjoy RV life if you’re living with people who hate it?

If you want really badly to live in an RV but your spouse or partner isn’t into the idea, I would suggest exploring the reasons behind your feelings (and theirs) and finding a solution or alternative that meets the same need and makes both of you happy, because if one person feels like they’ve sacrificed what they really want, that can build resentment over time.

4. You’re not a city person.

For many RVers, being out in nature and away from civilization is one of the best things about RV life, and if that’s you, full time RVing may be perfect for you, but if you like living in or near cities, I would recommend that you research RV park cost and availability in the cities where you plan to live before going all in with tiny living.

5. You can escape the cold…or deal with it.

Living in an RV in below-freezing temperatures, even a four-season RV, comes with its own set of challenges, one being the fact that skirting your RV to protect pipes from freezing and reduce heat loss makes frequent travel during winter pretty inconvenient.

I definitely think moving south for winter is the way to go if you live in an RV, but as we experienced, that’s not always possible.  There are a lot of full time RVers who survive each winter in the northern parts of the U.S. and even in Canada (the Facebook group “Winter RVing – Let’s Stay Warm Together!” has over 20,000 members), so it is possible, but it’s certainly not what I call fun!

If you want to give winter RV living a try, be sure to check out my Cold Weather RVing Resource Page.

6. You’re confident the opportunities will outweigh the sacrifice.

As you can see, there are both pros and cons to full time RVing, and what it really comes down to is whether the benefits outweigh the disadvantages for you.  Ultimately that decision will be different for everyone, and the balance between sacrifice and reward may shift over time, like it did for us.

Update 6/1/2022: I’ve now published a related article which lists some of the things other full time RVers dislike or find difficult about the lifestyle in addition to what I’ve mentioned in this article. You can read it here: 20 Drawbacks to Full Time RVing

5 Ways New Bloggers Can Make Money Right Away

Increase your blogging income sooner rather than later with these side hustles and supplemental income strategies.I once heard someone say, “Blogging as a business is a marathon, not a sprint.”  That was certainly true for me: I spent nine months working on my first blog, RVinspiration.com, full time before I got my first paycheck from Amazon for about $30.

But what do you do if working full time for months is not feasible for you?  It’s certainly tough to grow a blog while working a regular day job, so the sooner you can replace that with a side hustle or supplemental income, the sooner you’ll start seeing blogging success.

Below are some ways bloggers I’ve personally known started earning paychecks while simultaneously growing their blogs.

1. Freelance Writing

Several bloggers I know wrote paid articles for other websites before their own blogs started bringing in enough income that they no longer felt freelance writing was a good use of their time.  If this is something you’re interested in, I would recommend that you not look for jobs on generic freelancing websites like Upwork.com, because there you’ll be competing with people who can afford to work for very little per hour.

Instead, search out the major websites and print publications in your niche and contact their marketing department to find out if they pay for articles (look for a link on their website that says “work with us” or “write for us”, and try Googling “{your niche} write for us”).  Some may have their own team of content writers, but you may also find some who accept freelance submissions.

As an added bonus, if you write a freelance article for a website that allows you to include a link to your own website in your author bio, you’ll be building quality backlinks, which are one of the most important factors for SEO that will help your own website later on.  (Take this into consideration when negotiating your price, as a link from a well-established can be considered a form of payment!)

2. VA Work

Typing photo by Christian Hume
Stock photo of someone who could very well be working as a freelance writer or VA

Many of the skills you learn as a blogger make you qualified to do tasks other bloggers are willing to pay a VA (virtual assistant) for.  For example, do you design graphics for promoting your blog posts on Pinterest and social media?  If so, you know how time-consuming that can be, and you’ll understand how much value you can offer to other bloggers who would like to outsource this important part of blogging!

Other tasks that entrepreneurs frequently pay VA’s to do using skills you probably already have or can easily develop include email inbox management, social media post scheduling, Facebook group moderation, and blog post formatting.

So where can you find this type of work?

Most VA’s I know personally (including my own VA) found their clients by building personal relationships with other bloggers in their niche, mainly in Facebook groups, and were eventually hired by people they knew or friends of people they knew.

There are also Facebook groups specifically for Virtual Assistants you can join and be pointed in the right direction by other successful VA’s.  You might also check out the website Horkey Handbook, which offers both free and paid education to help virtual assistants learn skills and find clients.

I do have one tip, which is to build a separate website (just a Wix or Squarespace website will be fine) for advertising yourself as a VA.  This will give you a leg-up by making you appear more professional to prospective clients.  Here are a couple of examples (these are VA’s I know personally):



3. Speaking Gigs

Ashley Mann presenting at the RV Entrepreneur Summit 2019
Me giving a presentation at the RV Entrepreneur Summit

Look for conventions, meet-ups, conferences, and virtual summits in your niche that feature speakers, and find out if they are hiring for future events.  Be prepared with a few ideas to pitch them, and don’t be discouraged if you hear “no” a few times before you get a “yes”!

An RV blogger friend of mine did this when her blog was fairly new; she reached out to the organizers of RV shows (by visiting their websites and looking for contact information) until finally one of them agreed to sign a contract with her!  Even though she didn’t have many visitors to her site at that time, the organizers of the RV show were impressed by their content and the fact that they were published authors (i.e. had written an e-book which they were selling on Amazon!).  Since then my friend’s blogging business has grown a lot, but paid speaking gigs are still her best source of revenue.

If you can’t find any events to speak at, why not create your own?  You could hold a workshop in your local community (perhaps at a library or community center) and advertise it in local Facebook groups, Meetup.com, the Nextdoor app, and with flyers on community bulletin boards.  If you don’t think the topic you blog about would be of interest to very many people in your community, you could even offer a workshop about how how set up a blog!

4. Custom Ads

Premium ad networks like Ezoic (the one I use for RVinspiration.com) and Mediavine usually require a minimum of 25k-30k website visitors per month, and this is usually about the number (in my opinion) where it starts making financial sense to consider putting ugly ads on your website.

However, you don’t have to wait that long to put ads on your site, because you can create your own ads by designing graphics on Canva.com to advertise affiliate products you feel comfortable promoting (especially ones which offer high affiliate commissions). Then add these graphics to your sidebar or in between paragraphs of your most popular blog posts hyperlinked with your affiliate links.

To get ideas for ad design, try doing a Google image search for “banner ads”.

I’ll confess, this is a strategy I tried out early on that didn’t work very well for me, but I figured at least it couldn’t hurt.  One thing I didn’t do that I would definitely do now if I were to try this again is to add a Facebook retargeting pixel to my website and run some Facebook ads for the products I was promoting that would show specifically to people who had clicked the images on my website, since I know now that people are more likely to buy the second or third time they hear about a product.

5. Partner with Other Bloggers

A mistake new bloggers often make (a mistake I made!) is to think of other bloggers in their niche as competition.  Instead, think of them of as colleagues, potential co-workers, or even future friends!  By getting to know and partnering with other people who are blogging to the same audience you are, you can multiply your reach while sharing the work load.

An example: Four bloggers I know decided to form a mastermind group when they were all just starting out, and one idea they came up with was to host a virtual summit about RVing.  They all worked together on the project, and as a result, they all drastically grew their audiences and authority in their niche, and are currently gearing up for year three of the event, which has grown into a profitable business on its own.

Ashley Mann and Liz Wilcox
Me hanging out with fellow RV blogger Liz Wilcox, who I’ve partnered with on several projects

Don’t think you can only partner with other new bloggers, either.  Even if you don’t have a huge audience yet, if you can bring another skill to the partnership such as graphic design, video editing, a great product idea, leadership and organizational skills, or even just your time, with effort, creativity, and a willingness to provide as much value you receive, you can find mutually beneficial ways to work with whoever you want.

It Still Takes Time.

Hopefully I’ve given you some ideas here that can help you start earning some money while you’re working on the slow process of creating and marketing content, building an audience, and figuring out how to monetize your audience.

Even these ideas will likely take time to implement and gather steam, so it might still be a few months before any of them will deliver a paycheck, and even longer before you’re seeing the kind of money you would like to be making.  But what I want to convey is that there are ways you can make money as a blogger other than directly through your website, and the more streams of income you can have to diversify your blogging business, the more stable your business will be, and less depending on a single factor such as the Google search algorithm.

What ways have you made money with your blog, directly or indirectly?  And what advice would you share with others looking to do the same?  I’d love to hear about it in the comments!

7 Features That Make Squarespace a Good Alternative to WordPress

Is WordPress your #1 blogging obstacle? Maybe it's time to let it go. #bloggingtips #newtoblogging #startablog #startingablogWordPress has been the #1 blogging platform for years, but recently I created a blog for my Mom using Squarespace.com, and I have to admit, I was pretty impressed, and am now convinced that it’s a great option for bloggers, especially those who are “technology challenged”.

In this blog post, I’ll go over some of the features of Squarespace that make it a valid option for a business blog.  Yes you’ll need to pay a monthly fee to have a website through Squarespace, but most WordPress bloggers end up paying monthly anyway for the software that Squarespace builds into its websites.

1. Popups & Notification Bars

If you blog in WordPress, you’ll most likely need to install plugins to add pop-up forms and notification bars to your website, and sometimes these can be difficult to set up.  You may also need to pay a monthly fee for premium features.  Squarespace makes adding these features to your website easy, with no extra cost for Business Plan customers.

Here’s a screenshot from a Squarespace website owned by a friend of mine showing an example of the built in notification bar at the top of the page:

Example of notification bar on Squrespace
Source: PositivelyDelighted.com

And here’s a pop-up on my same friend’s website:

Pop-up example
Source: PositivelyDelighted.com

2. Easy Freebies

One of my biggest headaches early in my blogging career was figuring out a simple way to set up multiple freebies within Mailchimp, meaning when someone signed up through a particular form, they would receive a free download advertised through that form.

Well, I figured out an easy way to do that in Squarespace, by using password protected pages.  See, you can set any page of your Squarespace website so that it requires a password to view it, so if you create a “Freebie Library” page, you can create email signup forms to advertise whichever freebie you want, then provide a link to the freebie library and the password in a welcome email that automatically sends whenever someone opts in to your list.

This form was built entirely in Squarespace:

Squarespace Freebie Library

3. Email Automation

Squarespace pretty much eliminates the need for a separate email provider (which will save you a LOT of money once your lists starts growing!) thanks to the ability to create multiple lists and send them automated emails.  However, if you prefer to use a separate email service provider, Squarespace integrates with most of the major email service providers, including Mailchimp and ConvertKit.

When you create a new email signup form in Squarespace, you can connect it to whichever of your email subscriber lists you want.

Squarespace email signup form

4. SEO

Squarespace makes it really easy to optimize your website for Google and other search engines.  All you have to do is click a few buttons in order to edit the title and description that will show up in search results.

Search engine optimization features in Squarespace

5. E-commerce

Have an ebook or other product you want to sell on your website?  You can do so easily without having to use a separate service to host your product.  Then you can set a series of emails to send out after someone purchases your product (perhaps leading to an upsell!).

6. Social Media Optimization

Squarespace makes it easy to control how your blog links appear on social media sites such as Facebook, as well as add buttons for social sharing.  (This isn’t hard to do in WordPress, but you do have to know which plugins to install).

Facebook optimization in Squarespace

7. Analytics

Connecting Google Analytics to your Squarespace account is as simple as Copy & Paste.  Then you can see from your Squarespace analytics dashboard how many people are visiting your site, and where they’re coming from, and you can even track them using Facebook Pixel.


I used to be pretty convinced that WordPress was the only real choice for anyone who was serious about blogging as a business, but after getting to know Squarespace a little better, I feel pretty confident that it’s a good choice for bloggers who are looking for a more user-friendly option.

Why Your Opt-in Freebie Might Be Hurting Your Email List

Is your freebie actually keeping you from getting email subscribers? #bloggingtips #blogging #emailmarketing

You probably already know giving something away for free in exchange for an email address (also known as a “lead magnet”) is a very common and effective way to add subscribers to your email list.  But did you know offering a freebie could actually be hurting your list-building and email marketing efforts?

Here are some reasons your freebie might actually be causing more harm than good (and what you can do about it).

Your freebie is better than your emails.

The first way your freebie might hurt you actually isn’t a problem with your freebie–it’s a problem with your emails.

If after downloading your freebie your subscribers start getting a lot of emails from you they aren’t interested in, your open rates and click-through rates (the percentage of people who open your emails and click the links in them) will start going down, which can hurt your email deliverability (meaning your emails could start going straight to people’s spam folders).

Join Our Newsletter ImageAlso, if people are giving you their email address only because they want your freebie and not because they’re actually interested in your content, they may sign up for it using a secondary email address they only use for such purposes and never check (which you’ll be paying for if your email service provider charges per subscriber!).

Your freebie isn’t related to your content.

Irrelevant FreebieYour freebie may be really great, and your emails may be great as well, but if your freebie is completely unrelated to the topics you blog about and email about, the people who sign up for it won’t be as likely to be interested in future offers or emails, and again, you’ll end up paying for subscribers who are worth nothing to you and your open rates will suffer.

I learned this lesson with a few of my early freebies on my website RVinspiration.com.  For example, one of my first free downloads was printable spice labels that were used as part of a blog post I wrote about how I made a magnetic spice wall.  Anyone who downloaded free spice labels who wasn’t also interested in RVing probably got annoyed with my emails pretty quickly!

Now I always make sure that any freebies I offer will only appeal to people who are likely to also be interested in the rest of my content.

Also, you never want to make people feel like you’re tricking them or bribing them.  Your email form should make it clear exactly what people are signing up for.  If they’ll be getting additional emails from you in addition to the freebie, they need to know that when they sign up (this is actually required by the GDPR laws in the European Union, so if any of your site visitors come from the EU, you’ll want to do this anyway to be GDPR compliant).

What to do instead:

Create free downloads that will interest the kind of subscribers you actually want on your list, and make it clear that along with the free download, they’ll also receive emails from you about whatever topic you email about.

Your freebie isn’t useful to the person you’re offering it to.

Obviously any freebie you create should actually be useful and not something easily Googled.  But that’s just part of it.  Not only does your freebie need to provide actual value, it also needs to be useful to the people who see it.

For example, one of my popular freebies is a checklist for cold weather RVing.  If I were to offer this freebie on a blog post about RV organization ideas, then an RVer who spends every winter in Florida would scroll right past it.  That’s why I only display this freebie on my blog posts about preparing an RV for cold weather.

What to do instead:

Only offer freebies likely to interest people viewing the page the freebie is on.  Additionally, make sure a generic sign-up form that doesn’t include a free download is available on every page in case people would like to sign up for your emails but aren’t interested in your freebie.

Your freebie requires a time commitment.

Free Ebook ImageHow many times have you signed up for a free e-book you never read?  How many times have you not signed up for a free e-book because you knew you wouldn’t actually read it?

The more time your freebie requires to consume, the less likely people are to sign up for it.  That’s why a “PDF guide” often converts at a higher rate than 150-page e-book about the same topic (which may seem crazy since the guide is probably actually LESS valuable) and why, if you have an e-book, you should be charging for it!

Here’s an example: One of my early RV Inspiration freebies was a 16-page PDF called “The Ultimate Guide to Painting Your RV Interior”.  Later I created a one-page PDF called “The Quick-Start Guide to Painting Your RV Interior”, and I offered it for free instead, and it actually converted at a much higher rate.  Not only that, but I created an automatic email that would send a day later to everyone who downloaded the Quick Start Guide offering them the chance to buy the Ultimate Guide, and I currently sell about ten of these guides per month with no ongoing marketing other than the freebie in my related blog posts.

Keep in mind that there might be times you would want fewer people to sign up for a freebie because it means the people who do sign up are more likely to be committed.  For example, I offer a free mini-course on downsizing.  A course of any kind requires some level of commitment, but if people can’t commit to and complete a mini-course, they certainly won’t be able to commit to and complete my full paid course on the same topic, and I would rather only offer that course to people I know are serious about wanting to downsize.

On a related note, the more personal information you request on the sign-up form, the less likely people will be to complete it.  Again, that might be exactly what you want in order to make sure you only get qualified subscribers who you can know will be interested in your content and offers.  Just be aware of this principle, and don’t ask for any information on an email signup form that you don’t actually need (like a last name, perhaps).

What to do instead:

If you have a freebie that takes too much time to consume, try breaking off just a small part of it to offer instead, and sell the complete version.  For example, you could offer a free chapter of an e-book instead of the whole thing, or better yet, a checklist or 1-page guide that would be likely to interest the same people.  Using my downsizing course as an example, I could offer a list of places people could recycle their belongings that would be relevant to people who might also be interested in my course without giving away too much of the course for free.

Your freebie is offered too soon.

Maybe there’s nothing wrong with your freebie–it’s valuable, relevant, quickly consumable–but you’re just offering it too soon.  First-time visitors to your website can’t possibly know if they’re interested in your free report in the first 2 seconds they’re on your site, so if you greet them with a giant pop-up offering it, they’ll likely just exit and proceed to read the article they came there for.

What to do instead:

Offer your freebie at a time when the person reading your blog post would be able to take the time to understand its value and decide whether or not it’s relevant to them.  Like this:

(Side note: Adding relevant freebies to blog posts and segmenting subscribers according to the freebie they opted in for is super easy with ConvertKit!  Free email service providers are great when you’re first starting out, but if you’re ready to get serious about email marketing, it might be worth making the switch!)

5 Possible Reasons People Aren’t Signing Up for Your Email List

Having trouble getting new email subscribers? One of these reasons could be why. #blogging #bloggingtips #emailmarketingDo you have trouble getting website visitors to sign up for your email list?  One of these reasons may be why they’re not signing up.

1. Because they can’t.

This first reason is fairly obvious: if you don’t have a form on your website that allows people to subscribe to your email list, they can’t join your email list.  And subscribing to your blog through WordPress isn’t the same thing–that will just send them an automatic notification when a new post is published.  To collect a list of email addresses from people interested in you and your content, you need to add an email sign-up form to your website that’s connected to an email service provider.

Not sure which email service provider to choose?  If you’re just starting out, Mailchimp is a great choice because it easily integrates with most websites and online softwares, it has lots of features, and it’s free to use for up to 3,500 subscribers.

Once you’re ready to start focusing more on email marketing, I suggest ConvertKit (which is what I personally use) because it has so many features geared specifically toward bloggers, like the ability to create multiple forms connected to specific freebies and easily add them to a single blog post or page on your websites, as well as the ability to tag subscribers according to their interests, which freebie they downloaded, etc., and send them to email automations designed specifically for them.

2. Because they don’t know they can.

Is your email signup form in the footer or sidebar of your website?  Or only on the homepage?  If so, readers who visit your site on a mobile browser will have to keep scrolling down to find once they reach the end of the blog post (and why would they do that)?

If your email signup form is only visible on your home page, then anyone who finds your website because they clicked on a specific blog post on social media, Pinterest, or Google may never see your form because they might exit your site after they finish reading the article they came for.

To make sure everyone who visits your website has the opportunity to sign up for your email list, I suggest that you include an email signup form at the bottom of every blog post–either a generic form, or one that contains a freebie related to the content of that specific blog post (but not a freebie that has nothing to do with the blog post–I’ll explain why later).

You could also try using a pop-up or notification bar that will display to blog readers, but you need to be careful how you use those…and that brings me to the next reason people might not be signing up for your email list:

3. Because your pop-up is annoying.

Annoying PopupDo you have a pop-up e-mail form on your website that covers more than 50% of the page?  This is definitely something you’ll want to avoid, as Google penalizes websites with pop-ups that prevent readers from viewing the content by hurting their search rankings.

Even if you have a pop-up that you think is fine, be sure it also looks fine when viewed on a phone, because sometimes pop-ups that look just fine on desktop aren’t mobile friendly–cover too much of the page or or are too hard to close.

The other thing that can make a pop-up really annoying (and/or ineffective) is displaying it too soon.  No first-time visitor to your website wants to sign up for your list or download your free e-book before they’ve even had a chance to read the first paragraph of the blog post they clicked on.

If you decide to use a pop-up, I suggest that you follow these guidelines:

  1. Make sure the pop-up has a delay so that it only shows after a certain number of seconds or after a reader has scrolled a certain percentage of the way down the page.
  2. Make sure the pop-up is easy to close on both desktop and mobile, and won’t show up again on the next page after it has already been closed.
  3. Think about the types of visitors who are likely to see your pop-up, and what a pop-up can say that will actually make them want to enter their email address (read on for more on this).

On my website RVinspriation.com, I use a plugin called HelloBar to display a small pop-up at the top of the page to viewers after they have scrolled halfway through a blog post.  It can be easily closed and doesn’t cover the text.   I have it set to only show to mobile visitors because desktop visitors can easily see the email form in my sidebar, whereas mobile visitors would have to scroll past the bottom of the blog post before they would find it.

An alternative to HelloBar I recommend checking out that offers a free plan is Sumo Smart Bar.  There are also a few WordPress plugins that offer similar functionality, but I’ve personally found all the ones I’ve tried lacking in features or too complicated to customize.  Your email service provider should also allow you to create a pop-up that will appear when a link or button is clicked (though it’s always best to reduce the number of steps / amount of effort required to sign up for your list, because if you make it too complicated many people won’t bother).

4. Because they have no reason to want to.

Another reason people might not be signing up for your email list is that they can see no clear value or benefit in doing so.  Think about it: would you fill out an email form simply because it was there, or because it said, “Join our newsletter!” or “Sign up for updates!”?  (What kinds of updates are we talking about anyway, and how often?)

Instead, your email form should clearly explain what will happen and/or what people will get if they sign up.  Following are some examples of reasons you could give people to sign up for your list; you could test one or more of these to see which one does best for you:

  1. To be notified when you publish a new blog post.
  2. To receive more content similar to the content they just viewed.
  3. To receive tips/ ideas / content / special offers / related to a particular topic they’re likely to be interested in.
  4. To receive a relevant freebie (see below!)

5. Because they aren’t interested in your freebie.

If the only opportunity to sign up for your email list requires your website visitors to opt-in for a freebie that’s not relevant to them, then they probably won’t subscribe.  That’s why it’s important to only offer freebies that your readers will truly find valuable.

That’s also why, in addition to your freebie offer, it’s important for every page on your website to include a way for visitors to sign up simply because they want to be on your list.  And wouldn’t you rather have subscribers who signed up because they want to hear from you and not just because you promised them something for free?

Popular freebie
One of my most popular freebies (available here!)

On my website RVinspiration.com, I do have a few popular freebies that get a lot of people to sign up, but believe it or not, most of my subscribers sign up through my forms don’t include a free download.  Even before I switched to ConverKit, when I just embedded a simple Mailchimp signup form at the bottom of all my blog posts (like the one at the bottom of this page) I started getting a lot more subscribers.  Here’s the text of some of my most popular forms; feel free to borrow and adapt for your own website if you would like to:

  • Want to see more ideas like this?  Enter your email and I’ll let you know when I publish a new blog post!
  • Let’s stay in touch! Enter your email to receive useful content and occasional updates from RV Inspiration.
  • Sign up for more useful RV ideas and resources!
  • Sign up to get ideas for RV decor and organization!

To learn more about how to use freebies to build your email list (and how to make sure your freebie doesn’t end up preventing you from getting subscribers, check out my blog post “Why Your Opt-in Freebie Might Be Hurting Your Email List.”

Helping Kitty Adjust to RV Life

Originally published at RVinspiration.com

One of the most challenging aspects of moving from a house to an RV was helping our cat, Professor Theodore William Rochester I, who goes by “Kitty”, get used to spending most of his time in a comparatively small space after he had formerly been an indoor/outdoor kitty who had spent his days happily roaming the neighborhood.

When I first started keeping him indoors for longer periods of time, even before we moved into our RV, he would become very stressed and start pulling out his own fur whenever he was begging to go outside and I wouldn’t let him.  It’s been a gradual process, but at this point he seems pretty content and no longer displays signs of stress.

In this article I’ll share some of the RV modifications we’ve done to make our RV a cat-friendly place as well as help Kitty be comfortable when we’re on the road.

Travel Comfort Part 1: Collapsible Pet Carrier

We are mostly stationary RVers and don’t move our fifth wheel often, but when we do move it, or when we take Kitty with us on a road trip, he travels in this tent-like collapsible enclosure which comes with a folding litter box.  We put his favorite soft gray blanket inside, and we also spray a little bit of Feliway pheromone spray inside to help calm him before we put him in it.

Travel enclosure for cat

Kitty’s travel enclosure fits in the back seat of our car and has straps for the the seat belts to go through which hold it in place.  We bought the larger of the two available sizes, and in the picture below you can see how there’s plenty of space for a large cat or a couple of smaller cats in addition to the litter box.  You could also open the side windows and let your cat sit in this “tent” outside to enjoy some fresh air.

We have disposable litter box liners that we use to make cleanup easy, but you can also just use a disposable litter box (which is more environmentally friendly than plastic anyway!).

Cat enclosure with litter box for back seat of car

The travel enclosure folds down flat, similar to a collapsible laundry hamper, and we store it in the trunk of our car.

Collapsible cat carrier flattened

Because it’s flexible, the large travel enclosure really isn’t ideal for carrying a cat in.  We do still have a traditional plastic cat carrier that we got when Kitty was small, but he’s really too big for it, and it’s never been easy to get him to go in it; it’s usually a two-person job.  But I recently found a carrier that both Kitty and I like a lot better….

Travel Comfort Part 2: “Cat-in-the-Bag” Carrier

After seeing an advertisement for Cat-in-the-Bag cat carrier online, I decided to try it, and it works really well for us.  It is essentially a canvas bag that unzips on three sides with a hole for Kitty’s head to poke through so that he’s immobilized but doesn’t feel panicked since his head is free.  (It reminds me of swaddling a baby. 🙂 )

Cat-in-the-bag pet sling carrier

The bag has a strap so you can carry it like a purse, although I usually carry Kitty with both my arms around him since he’s so big.  You can also run a seatbelt through the strap to secure it in a vehicle.

Below is a picture of us at his most recent visit to the vet; Kitty liked being able to sit on my lap and be petted and comforted while we were waiting instead of having to sit by himself in his carrier to wait.  Once the vet arrived, she was able to do much of the exam with him in his bag.  And he was much calmer in the car, too.  Usually he meows a lot as soon as we start driving, but in his cat bag he just curled up and rested.

Kitty inside his cat-in-a-bag pet carrier

Another good thing about the cat bag was the lack of drama with putting him in it.  I just slipped it over his head while he was taking his morning nap on my bed, and as I zipped it up he just snuggled inside.  He seemed to feel like he was being wrapped in a blanket.

A few times since living in an RV we’ve experienced a tornado warning and had to quickly take Kitty to an underground shelter in our mobile home park that’s full of strangers with barking dogs, and I believe if we have to do that again the Cat-in-the-Bag will make it much easier to quickly get Kitty ready to take with us and help him feel calm while we wait out the storm.

The Litter Box

A white back I wrote a blog post that you may want to check out about lots of ideas for storing a litter box in an RV, but here’s how we store ours….

Before we got our RV I had seen pictures online of how some RV owners kept their cat’s litter box in the storage area underneath and installed a cat door in a wall in their RV so their cat could access it, so I was determined to come up with a way to do the same thing.  It turned out that in our RV, the best place to create a point of access was through the stairs.

Our steps had wooden vent covers, so we removed one and used a cardboard tube from Lowe’s to create a tunnel through the wires and pipes that were located under the stairs.  We used a scrap of carpet to cover the front of the stairs around the hole, and we used some foam-core poster board we had on hand with a hole cut in it to replace the panel that covered the back of the stairs.

Here was our first get-by version of Kitty’s tunnel; it wasn’t pretty but it did the job:

Tunnel through the stairs to Kitty's litter box
Kitty entering his tunnel

We spent summer of 2018 in the Dallas area where it was a lot harder to keep the RV cool under the blazing sun, and during the afternoon I started noticing a hot wind coming out of Kitty’s tunnel, so I decided to figure out a way to install a cat door that keep the warm air from our storage area from blowing up the tunnel.

The stairs were actually made from an aluminum frame that was too narrow for a cat door, plus the round tunnel wouldn’t allow a cat door to swing freely, so I ended up routing the tunnel through a plastic file box which I happened to have on hand and had planned to get rid of.

The tunnel/box works well, and is actually one of Kitty’s favorite places to hide during stormy weather.

Kitty in his hole

Our Favorite Brand of Cat Litter

Nobody wants to walk into an RV and be smacked in the face with cat box odor, and even though our cat’s litter box is under the RV, if it begins to smell we can still smell it inside.

Something that has really helped us keep the cat box odor under control is using Pretty Litter cat litter, a silica-based cat litter with a sand-like consistency that absorbs urine and dries poo into hard little nearly-odorless lumps that can be easily sifted out with our sifting litter box (ours is no longer available, but this one is similar).

This cat litter comes with two added bonuses that we really appreciate:

The one thing I don’t like about this brand of cat litter is that it’s rather pricey, and even though the company advertises “one bag per cat per month,” I find that we really need two bags per month.  Sometimes I mix the Pretty Litter a cheaper brand of micro crystal cat litter to stretch the Pretty Litter farther, but I don’t feel like any of the cheaper brands I’ve tried are quite as effective at remaining odor free, and I also don’t like how dusty they are.  Pretty Litter isn’t at all dusty.

So cost aside, Pretty Litter is for me the perfect cat litter.

UPDATE 1/21/2022: You can now purchase Pretty Litter at Target! I recently ordered some in a grocery delivery when I had run out of litter and needed some faster than I could order it.

Food & Water

Ever since he was a kitten, Kitty has preferred to drink running water.  At our last house, whenever I would get up in the middle of the night to use the bathroom, Kitty would run in and jump up on the counter hoping for a drink out of the sink.  I wanted him to drink plenty of water, so of course I would turn on the faucet for him, but it was annoying to have to stand there waiting for him to finish drinking when I really wanted to go back to bed.

I thought moving into our RV would be a good opportunity to change Kitty’s routine, so I decided to buy a pet fountain.  The first one I got was a white plastic one that doesn’t seem to still be in production, and it worked pretty well but was difficult to clean, so when its motor finally died after two years of use I wasn’t too sad to replace it with this one, which is more attractive looking IMO and a lot easier to disassemble and clean.

Stainless steel pet fountain

This slow feeder is the most recent addition to our collection of cat supplies.  I bought it because our vet wanted Kitty to go on a diet, and he tends to eat too quickly and will scarf-and-barf wet food and will go through his daily ration of dry food in just a couple of hours.  This feeder has slowed him down so that his food lasts much longer and we’re no longer constantly having to clean up piles of regurgitated cat food.  I chose the ceramic version because I thought it would be easier to clean, but you can also buy this style of feeder in a silicone version.

Cat food dish that slows down eating

Scratching Needs

I guess all cats are different when it comes to what type of scratching surface they prefer, but Kitty has always preferred something upright.  When he was an indoor/outdoor cat, he did all his scratching outside on tree trunks, but now that he spends most of his time indoors, we’ve found a sisal scratching post to be the best substitute.

We set his post right next to the arm of our couch which he was immediately prone to scratching, and to prevent him from choosing the sofa instead, I covered end of the sofa arm with clear vinyl.

Cat scratching tower next to couch with vinyl cover

I cut the piece of vinyl from a clear shower curtain I had purchased for insulating our RV windows during cold weather, and I attached it to the couch using spiral shaped upholstery pins.

Upholstery pins used to attach clear vinyl to arm of couch

Recently Kitty developed a habit of scratching the carpet right in front of our coffee table, so I bought this natural fiber rug for him to scratch instead.  He likes it so much that the day I bought it he just rolled around on it.  I hope to gradually move it to somewhere a bit more out of the way.

Natural fiber rug for kitty to scratch

Window Entertainment

My biggest concern for Kitty moving into our RV after being an indoor/outdoor cat with the freedom to explore outside was whether he would become bored, so one thing I’ve done to try to help him have an interesting indoor life is give him plenty of places in our RV to sit and watch out the windows.

Usually when he’s begging to go outside or insisting on sitting on my chest and cuddling while I’m trying to work on my laptop, all I have to do is open a window and he will immediately go to it and watch contentedly from that vantage point.

One such place is a shelf I added behind our sofa.  I mostly made it as a place to set plants and beverages, but Kitty likes to sit on it too.  The shelf is just a piece of painted 1″x6″ lumber hung with shelf brackets, which are screwed into the wall with drywall anchors that hold them very sturdily in place.

Our cat sitting on plant shelf behind sofa in our fifth wheel RV

In the summer, I like to hang a hummingbird feeder on this window so I can watch the hummingbirds while I sit on the couch and write articles for RV Inspiration. 🙂  I used this suction cup hanger to hang my feeder, and it has never fallen down.

Hummingbird feeder on RV window

In the winter, I’ve hung bird feeders from the ladder on the back of my RV as well as on the window where it’s easy for Kitty to sit and watch them.

Cat looking out window of RV

I hung the feeders from the ladder on the back of my RV as well as directly on the window using adhesive hooks, and though the adhesive never failed, the hooks eventually broke from the hot sun weakening the plastic, so this past winter I bought a bird feeding station to hang my feeders from.

Portable bird feeding station

My aunt gave me this adorable vintage camper bird feeder which she bought at a gardening event.  🙂 It has a solar powered light inside that illuminates the windows at night. 🙂

Vintate trailer bird feeder

Safety During Extreme Temperatures

It can be scary to leave pets alone in an RV when the weather is extremely hot knowing they could die if the power were to fail and the air conditioners were to stop working.

There are several temperature monitors on the market that you can purchase that will let you use your cell phone to remotely check the temperature inside the RV, but most of them depend on WiFi, which can be spotty in an RV.

However, last summer I found out about Waggle, a pet monitor system that doesn’t use WiFi; instead it uses the Verizon cellular network to communicate between the sensor and your phone. But you don’t have to have Verizon cellular service or any kind of Verizon account; all you have to do is order the device from Waggle and go on their website to activate it.

Waggle pet monitor
Waggle pet monitor

When I set mine up, I was surprised that the whole process took about five minutes and didn’t require a phone call or any type of customer service. And it provides so much peace of mind. You can set up phone alerts that will notify you in case of power failure as well as if the temperature goes above or below a number you set.

If you decide to try it out, here’s a referral link that will get you a 50% discount on the purchase of the device!

Favorite Toys

Being in such as small space, we try to give Kitty plenty of indoor exercise with toys.  One of his favorite interactive toys is the fishing pole style cat toys that have a toy on the end of a string.  I like this one because the telescoping pole collapses down to a small size so it takes up less space, and it comes with several different styles of toys that we can swap out when he gets bored with them.

Kitty playing with fishing line toy

Another toy that has been a big hit with Kitty is this ball tower.  I did end up giving the orange one to my brother when he got a kitten, and replaced it with a white one because I liked the color better.  For some reason though, I think Kitty liked the orange one better. 🤷

Kitty playing with multi-tier toy

The most fun toy we’ve bought for Kitty so far, which we only take out for very special energy burning needs, is actually not really a cat toy–it’s a garden decoration that I decided SHOULD be a cat toy.  It’s solar powered (but since I use it indoors I put a battery in it) and has a little styrofoam bird with real feathers that flies around on a wire.  I stick it in a pot of cat grass as a base.

Kitty playing with solar powered bird toy

I always supervise Kitty while he’s playing with this since it’s not actually intended as a cat toy, and then I put it away after the play session.  He may eventually break it, but the small amount I paid for it will be worth the amount of fun we’ve already both gotten from it.  And so far it hasn’t broken!

Outdoor Recreation

No matter how hard we’ve tried to keep Kitty happy inside the RV, after three years he hasn’t stopped desperately wanting to be outside.  So we’ve tried several different ways to help him be able to do that.

Net “skirting”

Since we were going to be in the same place for several months, I bought some wildlife netting at Lowe’s and hung it from the same hooks we used for hanging our homemade vinyl skirting, completely enclosing the space under our RV.  Then I staked it at the bottom using landscaping staples.  We made a ramp for Kitty to climb out of a window and under the RV where he was able to play underneath the RV.

Cat looking out camper window

Netting around bottom of RV to create cat enclosure

This worked for a few months, but there were some cons as well:

I still think this concept has potential, and I would be interested to know if you try it and figure out a way to improve on it.

Leash Training

We tried leash training and one point and ended up giving up because it didn’t seem like it would work for Kitty, but when we moved to an RV park in Texas we decided to try it again, and that time it worked.

At first whenever we would put on his harness, Kitty would crawl around on his belly and acted like thought he couldn’t move, but I was determined to stick with it, so every day for a week or so I put it on him every time I fed him his wet food to hopefully build a positive association with it.

After a while, I decided to try taking him outside with it.

At first he would only sit at the top of the steps, and if I closed the door, he would meow until I opened the door and let him go back inside to safety.

Kitty sitting in doorway

Eventually I started carrying him out in the yard and setting him down, and at first he would immediately slink back toward the RV, but after a while he started becoming more interested in exploring.

Our cat enjoying nature

Finally he got used to it and very much enjoyed being outside and exploring.  I got a long retractable leash that I could hook to something sturdy so I could sit in a lawn chair while supervising him instead of having to follow him around the yard.  I also got an elastic extender for the end of the leash so that if something startles him and causes him to bolt, it won’t jerk when he reaches the end of the leash.

Our kitty enjoying some fresh air sitting in a lawn chair in an RV park

Eventually, the day came when Kitty tried to escape his harness, and he was able to do so without much trouble, so I replaced his old harness with the Kitty Holster, which is much harder for him to wriggle out of.

Kitty Holster cat harness for leash training

Our Catio

It’s been nice to have a way to take Kitty outside for some exploration time, but I still wanted to figure out a way for him to get some fresh air on his own schedule even when I’m busy.

One of Kitty’s favorite things to do outside is to just sit inside the storage are under our RV, next to where we keep his litter box, and enjoy the sunshine, so I decided to figure out a way to create a fence or screen cover that would allow him to allow him to sit there unsupervised, since he already has access to this area via his tunnel through the stairs, and since this area can be open without affecting the temperature inside the RV.

Kitty enjoying some sunshine

After a few failed attempts, I was finally able to complete this project after seeing a photo on Facebook that gave me the idea of using metal screen door protectors to create panels that slide open so we can access the storage area.

Kitty enjoying fresh air behind a screen covering the storage area under our RV

Here are some additional photos demonstrating how I assembled everything.  I used mounting tape to attach aluminum trim channels as a track for the panels to slide in.  For the area above the step, I created a smaller panel by connecting two kitchen cooling racks with zip ties, which I then hung from adhesive hooks and attached at the bottom with cord clips.  This panel is sturdy yet can be removed when we need to clean out the litter box.

How to Automate Your Blog’s Social Media Accounts

How I manage my blog's social media so that it practically runs on autopilot. #TipsForBloggers #BloggingTips #SocialMediaForBloggers #BloggingThere was a point about a year into my blogging career where I felt like the most stressful part of running my website was finding time to regularly keep up with all my social media accounts.

I felt like I could barely stay afloat and that it was keeping me from more important tasks.  I wondered if maintaining all my social media accounts was worth it, but at the same time, I felt like I needed to have a strong social media presence in order to reach and connect with my audience wherever they were.

So I decided to make it my goal to figure out a way to reclaim my time and put my social media mostly on autopilot, so it could keep delivering content to my followers, bringing me clicks, and building my following without requiring my constant attention.

In this article, I’ll share with you the exact tools and methods I use to run my own social media accounts.  I’ll also give you a short-term “keep your head above water” action to take for each of the major social media platforms that can buy you time until you’re able to identify the best social media strategy for your business and put long-term systems into place.

Note on Automating vs. Engaging on Social Media

Before I jump into ways to automate your social media accounts, I want to talk for just a minute about why I would want to do that, and whether or not it’s a good idea for you.

One of the most important things to know as a blogger is where your audience is online and how people discover and engage with your blog.

As a general rule, the more you personally engage on any social media platform, the more successful you’ll be there–your posts will be of higher quality, your audience will be more loyal and more responsive, and your content will be shown to a wider audience.  But it’s not humanly possible to be fully engaged everywhere online at the same time.  Therefore, I believe the most important thing is to figure out where your audience primarily “hangs out” online.  That’s where you’ll want to focus the majority of your time and energy, and in order free your time to do that, you may want to find ways to reduce your time on less important platforms (without letting them die altogether), which is what I’ll tell you how to do in this blog post.

Before you begin: Optimize your blog posts for social sharing.

It’s important that before you start sending your blog content out into the world of social media, you get it ready to be shared.  That way, when someone shares a link to your blog, it will show up with a nice picture (not one that is blurry or cropped weirdly) and an intriguing description.

If your links are shared on social media without being optimized first, then later even if you go back and add nice images and descriptions later, they will already be stored in Facebook, Twitter, and Pinterest the old ugly way, and you’ll have to go through and “debug” them one by one.

Also, if people are sharing your blog posts on social media without a visually appealing image and a crafted description, you’re missing out on a valuable opportunity for free advertising.

To learn about how to optimize your blog posts for social media (and to learn how to debug your links if needed), read my article about how to make your blog posts shareable.

With that said, let’s dive in….


If you’re not a Twitter user yourself, you may wonder if it’s even necessary to have a Twitter account these days.  I believe it is a good idea though, and here’s why:

  • It gives people who do use Twitter (especially other bloggers) a way to promote you.  I myself look for articles from other bloggers in my niche to share on my own Twitter account, and I always tag them if they are on Twitter.
  • It can help improve your blog’s SEO.  The more links back to your blog you can spread around the Internet (in a non-spammy way, of course) the better.
  • It’s the easiest social media platform to automate.  If you choose, you can use Twitter without spending any time on it and just have it out there working for you.

Bare minimum:

  1. Create an account for your blog if you don’t already have one.  If you have a personal account you use regularly, you can just stick with it as long as it’s professional and something you wouldn’t mind your followers seeing, but if you want to go the more hands-off route, I would suggest creating a new account for just your blog.
  2. Make it look professional. Change the background color to match your brand colors, add your logo or headshot to the profile page, and most importantly, write a description with a link to your blog in the profile section.  You could even include a link to a free download.
  3. Connect it to your blog. Tweet all your new blog posts, preferably automatically.  If you use the Jetpack plugin, under Settings > Sharing you can toggle a switch that says “Automatically share your posts to social networks” that will do this automatically.  Personally I don’t like my new posts shared automatically, because I sometimes hit publish before I remember something important (like a featured image), and the Tweet is already out there looking ugly with a big gray placeholder image.  So for a bit more control about exactly what’s tweeted and when, you can use a plugin like WP to Twitter, which will let you create a custom tweet for each blog post that you can manually post straight from your WordPress post editor.
  4. Link it from your social icons.  If you have social follow icons on your blog (which you should), don’t forget to add the URL to your Twitter account.
  5. Use Buffer.com to share content you come across.  If you find a good article, share it using Buffer.  The free version will let you queue up to 5 posts to drip out to your social media accounts on your preferred schedule.

Buffer makes it easy to drip content to your social media accounts.
Adding content to my Buffer queue using the Chrome browser extension

If you do those things, you can totally ignore your account for a while and in the meantime you’ll be filling your feed, perhaps gaining followers, and giving your fans an account to tag if they Tweet your posts.

Long-term solution:

This is the strategy I have used for my own RV Inspiration Twitter account, after first implementing the short-term steps above.

  1. I built a small following.  To do this, I followed all the other bloggers in my niche, and every time I logged in for a few days, I would follow all of the accounts Twitter suggested to me that had usernames related to RVing, so that way Twitter would hopefully start suggesting me to other RVers on Twitter.
  2. I started automatically sharing new blog posts from a few other trusted bloggers in my niche.  This helped my account start tweeting relevant content on a regular basis.  To do this, I used a free website called IFTTT.com to create an RSS to Twitter “applet”.  (The RSS feed URL for any WordPress blog is simply TheBlogsName.com/feed.)
  3. I started sharing (and recycling) my own content on a regular basis. Once my account was regularly posting relevant content, it was time to start mixing in some of my own content.  My first attempt at doing this was through a plugin called Revive Old Post, a WordPress plugin that automatically recycles your blog posts by sharing them on Facebook or Twitter on a regular basis.  I used this plugin for several months before deciding to replace it with SmarterQueue, which I’ll explain next.  If you’re looking for a free way to automatically recycle your content, this article explains a way to use IFTTT.com in combination with Google Calendar to repost your existing content to Twitter and/or Facebook.
  4. I started using SmarterQueue to share curated posts.  My IFTTT.com and Revive Old Post combo was imperfect.  Sometimes I would log in to my Twitter account and see posts that had been tweeted automatically that looked ugly and robotic.  I really wanted a better solution that would allow me to automate my social media posting without it looking like it was automated.  For me, an online software called SmarterQueue solved that problem.  It’s a social media scheduling tool that lets you add content (or bulk import it through RSS) to specific custom categories which are posted from and recycled (if you choose) on a regular basis.  I use it for both my Twitter and Facebook posting, and it can also be used for Instagram and Pinterest.
  5. Important: I use hashtags in all my posts.  I always include 3-4 relevant hashtags in each Tweet I schedule.  This helps my Tweets come up in search results for those hashtags and get in front of new users.  I also tag any bloggers whose content I share, because often they will retweet my post.

It took some time to get it set up the way I wanted it (and most of that time was spent figuring out what worked and what didn’t), but I’m pretty happy with my Twitter feed at this point.  I’ve gradually gathered a few hundred followers, I don’t have to spend any more time on it than I want, and most of my posts get a couple of retweets, which is the exact result I was hoping for.


As much as I sometimes wish I could leave Facebook forever, unfortunately I find it to be one of the most consistent places to connect with people on social media.  The nice thing is, over time Facebook has made it easier for admins to manage their Facebook Page.

Bare minimum:

  1. Create a Facebook page, if you haven’t already.  Make it look professional, and get rid of any extra features you don’t need, such as reviews or the ability for followers to create posts.
  2. Create a pinned post that directs visitors to your blog.  This would be a great opportunity to link to a free download you offer.
  3. Set up your blog to automatically or easily share new posts on Facebook.  You can do this in a variety of ways, including using the Jetpack plugin like I mentioned earlier, or using IFTTT.com, or a specific plugin.
  4. Create a few month’s worth of posts using the Facebook scheduler.  I suggest batching this process to make it faster.  For example, first grab the URL’s of 12 of your old blog posts and schedule one to share each Sunday for the next 3 months.  Then go find 12 blog posts from other bloggers in your niche and schedule one to share each Friday for the next 3 months.  Then go to Canva and create 12 images with quotes you like and schedule one to share each Tuesday for the next 3 months.  You get the idea….
  5. Use Buffer.com to share great content you find.  When you discover a good article you want to share on your Facebook page, save it to your (free) Buffer queue.  Not only will this let you post to both Facebook and Twitter, but it will make sure your posts are spread out instead of posting 5 great articles on one day and nothing the next day.
  6. If you want, create personal posts in the meantime.  Sporadically post on your Facebook page whenever you want, knowing that even if you forget to post for a while, your account will still be posting regularly at least a few times per week.

Long-term solution:

If Facebook is an important part of your social media strategy, I recommend paying for a social media scheduling tool.  I’ve done free trials of several of these tools, and SmarterQueue is the one that I like the best, mainly because of the post recycling feature, although you don’t have to use that feature, or you can set certain posts to only post once or to stop being recycled after a certain date (this is useful for when you’re promoting something time sensitive like a product launch or an event).

If you don’t want to recycle posts at all, Buffer offers a similar posting system (the ability to fill a queue with content that will post at regular times instead of having to choose a specific date for each post) at a cheaper price per month.  If it’s important to you to schedule posts for specific days, then Later.com is great because you can see all your posts laid out on a calendar.

The great thing about all of these tools is they let you create a post one time and share it to multiple platforms, saving you the time it would take to post to each platform one by one.

SmarterQueue helps me automate my social media accounts.
Some of my upcoming posts in SmarterQueue.

SmarterQueue lets you create a posting schedule for different categories of content.


Ah, Instagram.  I have such a love-hate relationship with this Instagram.  Hate because I am not a frequent Instagram user myself, but love because it’s been such a great way to connect with a lot of people in my blog’s niche.

My Keys to Instagram Success

Through the process of building my Instagram following to over 50k, I discovered these to be the most important elements of building a following on Instagram:

  1. Aesthetics.  Since Instagram is all about sharing images, you have to make sure that the images you share are attractive and will grab people’s attention and hopefully make them pause.  Otherwise they’ll just scroll on past.
  2. Consistency.  This means not just posting on a regular basis, but that all of your posts need to be similar, so when someone scrolls through your feed, they see that they’re going to get more of the thing that brought them there to begin with.  “Similar” doesn’t have to mean just visually similar, although it can.  It just means there needs to be some common thread linking all your posts together.  To get a feel for what I mean, I recommend looking through some of the feeds of Instagram accounts recommended on the main page of Instagram.
  3. Hashtags.  Just like on Twitter, adding relevant hashtags to your Instagram posts is the way to get your posts in front of new eyes.
  4. Personal interaction.  The more you follow new people, comment on people’s pictures, write meaningful captions, and respond to comments (i.e. engage), especially early on, the more successful you’ll be on Instagram, because Instagram rewards posts with high engagement with increased exposure.  As I mentioned at the beginning of this post, this is really true on all social media platforms.

Bare minimum:

9-photo grid on my Instagram accountIf you don’t intend to focus on Instagram as a major component in your business, I suggest simply creating a professional looking account that will let people who are looking for you find you, which then directs people to click the link in your bio to visit your blog, perhaps by offering some sort of freebie.

That’s what I decided to do with my Instagram account for The Blogging About Blogging Blog, because I already have a personal account I prefer to use for connecting with other bloggers.

Borrowing an idea from another business Instagram account I saw one time, I created a square image in Canva, used a free photo collage tool to cut it into four separate images, and uploaded these images one by one so that when you view this account on a phone you see a large image in the feed.  (Here’s an article with more information about how to do this.)

Long-term solution:

Decide what kind of Instagram account you want to have.  If your goal is to make money with Instagram, you need to come up with a solution that helps you achieve the criteria I outlined above.  If you just want a place to connect with your audience, then personal is the key.

Either way, I suggest using a scheduling tool like Later.com or Planoly to schedule your Instagram posts in advance.  For your main feed, stick to posts that are visually appealing.  Use Instagram stories for sharing your most personal and vulnerable content.

If your goal is to build a huge Instagram following and start attracting sponsors, let me tell you, it is a lot of work and very time-consuming.  If you enjoy posting to Instagram constantly, you’re in luck.  If not, you might end up needing to do what I and many larger bloggers and brands do, and hire a social media manager or virtual assistant to run your social media accounts.

There is no way I could have (or would have) built my RV Inspiration Instagram account on my own.  Instead, I laid out the criteria, created a system, and hired a VA to do it for me.  @RVinspiration is not the Instagram account I used when I was just starting out; it is a newer Instagram account I created after my blog was already established and profitable.  @OurRVAdventure my first RV-related Instagram account, a personal account I tried using for my business which I later pretty much abandoned.


The thing about Pinterest is this: it’s not actually a social media.  I know you can follow people and add friends, but its purpose isn’t really to connect with and engage with people; it’s to find and save content.

In order to determine whether Pinterest is something you should focus on in your business, try searching on Pinterest.com for topics related to your blog content and see what comes up.  You should be able to tell pretty quickly whether your type of content is popular on Pinterest.  If it is, you’ll definitely want to have a Pinterest account.  If not, it might not be worth spending too much time on your own account; you’ll just want to make sure your blog posts all contain at least one nice vertical image with a good description of the blog post as the alt text so those who do want to save your articles to their Pinterest boards can.

If you do plan to use Pinterest, here’s the formula I suggest:

Bare Minimum:

  1. Create a Pinterest account specifically for your blog if you haven’t already.  It’s important for a Pinterest account to stick to one topic, so don’t try to convert a personal account to a business account.  If you have a bunch of content already saved to a personal account that you want to move to your business account, you can do this by making your business account a collaborator on those boards, then moving the pins to a new board once you’re logged into your business account.
  2. Create a few topic-specific boards based on your blog categories.  I would suggest maybe six boards.  Then go pin a bunch of content to those boards – maybe 15-20 pins each.  For example, if you blog about fitness, you might have a board titled “Inspiration”, and you could search Pinterest for “Fitness Quotes” and pin a bunch of inspirational quotes to that board.  This will start training Pinterest what your boards are about, so later when you add your own related content to these boards, Pinterest will show your content to people searching for those topics.
  3. Enable Rich Pins.  Learn what rich pins are here, and learn how to easily apply for and enable them using the Yoast SEO plugin here.
  4. Create a board with the same name as your blog.  Or you could call it something like “Best of [Your Blog Name]”.  Pin all of your existing blog posts to this board, and add any future blog posts here as well.  Before you do this, make sure your rich pins are working and your blog posts are optimized for Pinterest.

Long-term solution:

Without a doubt, I recommend paying for scheduling software if you intend to try to use Pinterest to attract people to your blog.  My personal choice is Tailwind; it’s the most indispensable software I use, and the first one I paid for as soon as I could afford it.  I believe the volume of traffic it has brought me would not have been possible for me to achieve with manual pinning, at least not without severely delaying my success due to the sacrifice of my time.

My Tailwind Queue
My Tailwind queue. It takes me less than an hour per month to keep my Pinterest account posting high-quality content several times per day.

If you can’t afford Tailwind or are needing the biggest bang for your buck, you could start out by using SmarterQueue to schedule pins for Pinterest as well as scheduling content for your other social media platforms.  SmarterQueue’s post recycling and category options make it an attractive choice for managing Pinterest posting, though you will want to carefully monitor the frequency with which you’re posting (especially if you’re recycling content) to avoid accidentally spamming your account or group boards you’re on.

However, Tailwind is really ahead of the game, and since Pinterest is really its specialty, it offers many features that you can’t find anywhere else.

Here is the basic long-term strategy I follow for Pinterest:

  1. About once per month, I fill up my posting schedule with content relevant to my boards, all sourced from other bloggers in my niche and/or my Tailwind Tribes (which are niche-specific groups you can join within Tailwind).  I try to have my account pinning between 10-15 times per day, but I take care not to pin the same URL more than once per day (this is something you can adjust when you add a pin to your queue).
  2. Whenever I publish a new blog post, I always add a nice vertical image optimized for Pinterest with a keyword-rich description, and then I schedule the new post to be shared to all my relevant boards, setting it so that it’s only pinned from my account once per day at most (usually I set it to pin every other day).
  3. I am part of several niche-specific group boards, and I also own a few myself.  Joining other active, high-quality, niche-specific group boards is a good way to extend your reach on Pinterest, and owning a few active, high-quality group boards of your own helps your account stay active without you having to be the sole person maintaining it.
  4. I regularly recycle my own content to all relevant boards, taking care not to publish the same URL or image to the same board more than once every few months (Tailwind’s post recycling feature “SmartLoop” allows you to set rules that automatically prevent this to avoid looking spammy to Pinterest).

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How Trello Can Help You Stay Organized As a Blogger

How I use Trello in my blogging business. #BloggingTips #AdviceforBloggers #TimeManagementTipsForBloggers #BloggingCalendar One of my favorite blogging tools is a free task management software called Trello.  I first heard about Trello from my husband, who had used it at work, but when he first tried to show it to me I didn’t really feel I needed it.

It wasn’t until I read a blog post by another blogger I know where she described how she used it that the light bulb came on for me and I saw its true possibility.

The biggest value to me is that it gives me a place to organize and categorize my never-ending to-do lists.  Now, whenever I have a new blog post idea come to me, instead of forgetting about it later, I add it to my “Blog Posts to Write” list.  If I discover a blog update I need to do or something I need to fix, instead of having to take time away from whatever I had planned for the day to do it right then, I can add it to my “Do Next Week” list.

The cool thing about these lists is that an item can be easily moved from one list to another by simply dragging and dropping it.  It can also be easily moved from a list on one board to a list on a different board.

There’s even an easy-to-use phone app so you can easily access and manipulate your Trello boards whether you’re on your phone or laptop.

And no, Trello didn’t pay me to write this blog post!  I’m just a fan eager to share something that has really helped me!

Here are some ways I use Trello, as well as some ideas for ways you might use Trello to help you stay organized in your blogging business:

For Scheduling Blog Posts

Trello makes a great content calendar for planning your blog posts in advance.  If you decide to switch around the order, it’s super easy to drag an item from one list to another!

Here’s an example:

Sample Blog Content Planning Calendar in Trello

If you click on one of the list items, it flips around so you can see the back of the “card.”  Here you can add notes, links, checklists, file attachments, and more.

Back of Trello card

For Making To-Do Lists

This is part of one of my actual Trello boards.  Below you can see some of the items on my never-ending to-do lists.  Some of these items have been on the list for quite some time, and some of them I’ll honestly probably never get to, but that’s okay with me, because as long as they’re on the list, they’re not distracting me from more important tasks.  From time to time I go through my to-do lists and archive items I’ve decided are no longer important, or move items that are important to a higher priority list.

Some of my RV Inspiration To Do Lists in Trello

For Tracking Content Recycling

Re-sharing your old blog content on social media on a regular basis is an important way to increase your website traffic over time.  You can use paid tools to automate this process, but if you are on a budget, Trello is a good to do this as well.

Simply list all your blog posts (or whatever content you wish to recycle), then on a regular basis, once a week for example, share the one at the top of the list on social media, then move it to the bottom of the “Already Shared” list.  When there’s nothing left on your “Next Up to Share” list, drag the list on the right to the position on the left to reverse their order, and rename the lists to swap their titles!

Here’s a sample I created:

Using Trello to help you recycle your blog content

For Saving Content to Share

Trello can also be used for saving other people’s content you come across that you might want to share with your followers on social media or perhaps as part of an evergreen email.  Here’s an example I made to show you how it could work:

Sample Content Curation Trello Board

For Setting Goals

One of my favorite uses for Trello is to help figure out which of my “Things to Do” will actually help me reach my long-term goals.  To do this, I create lists with goals as titles.  Then, I drag tasks from my to-do list and place them under the goals they will help me reach.  At the beginning of each month, I choose projects to work on from these lists.

Below is a screenshot from one of my actual boards:

Some of my RV Inspiration goals in Trello

For Managing Multi-Stage Projects

One of the most common uses for Trello is to break down large projects into granular and specific tasks.

Below is an example to show you a much more efficient way to make progress on something like creating a digital product rather than just writing on your calendar, “Work on the e-book.”

Sample Project Planning in Trello

For Managing Teams

Trello is also a good way to organize projects and processes that have multiple people working on them.  This is actually how my husband used it at work, and how he first introduced me to it.

In the example below, a blog post is taken to completion through a team effort between a blogger and a virtual assistant.  Each person can refer to the board to see which blog posts are ready for his or her part of the process, and which ones are waiting on the other person.

Sample Team Process Management in Trello

Another way to use Trello to manage a team’s tasks is to list all of the team members and list their tasks below their names.  When each person finishes a task, he or she moves it to the “Done” list.  You could also add a “To Do” list for tasks that haven’t yet been delegated.

Sample Team Task Management in Trello

For Scheduling Tasks

This is the system for using Trello that really helped me get a handle on my day-to-day time management.  At the beginning of each month, I choose tasks from my “Goals & Plans” board and my “Blog Posts to Write” list and move them to my “Doing This Month” list.

Each Sunday when I plan my week, I choose one or two projects from my “Doing This Month” list and move it to my “Doing This Week list.  If needed, I’ll break the project down into multiple tasks that should each take no more than one day.  And each morning, I pick one of two items off my “Doing This Week” list to actually get done.

Sometimes if I have a particularly busy week, I’ll add a “Doing Tomorrow” list so I can plan two days at a time, or I might even create a list for each day of the week if I have appointments or other scheduled tasks.

Here’s a sample I created to illustrate the process:

Sample Blogging Task Management in Trello

I hope that gives you some ideas for being more efficient as a blogger!  To read more about the goal setting and time management strategies I use as a blogger, check out my blog post How I Stay On Track Toward My Blogging Goals.The methods and processes I use for setting goals and managing tasks in my blogging business.And to be notified next time I publish a new blogging tip, sign up for my email list below!