Online Business

  • 10 FREE Tools I Use Every Day To Be More Productive

    Although you have to spend money on setting up your blog hosting and domain there is an abundance of free resources to help you grow your blog! Check out these 10 free tools to boost your blog performance.

    1. Keywords Everywhere

    The Keywords Everywhere extension is a free SEO keyword research tool. I use Keyword Everywhere for my Pinterest and social media posts and hashtags. Whenever you type something into the Google search bar, Keywords Everywhere will suggest other relevant keywords (you can export them into Excel, too).

    Now you have a list of hashtags or keywords that you can use in your pin description!

    2. Grammarly

    As a non-native speaker, I still make a lot of grammar mistakes. Luckily, I can do some damage control with this free little tool called Grammarly! It points out any grammatical errors you make while you type and suggests corrections and synonyms.

    You can just add an extension to Chrome and Grammarly will be with you every step of the way helping you to be a better writer <3

    3. CoSchedule Headline Analyzer

    Headlines are hard! No matter how good your writing or your content is if you don’t have a good headline chances are not a lot of people will ever read your post.

    This tool will help you create the perfect title every time! Type in your headline and receive a free analysis of the overall structure, grammar, and readability of your headline. Is your headline too long? Too wordy? Does it convey positive emotion to your reader?

    The CoSchedule Headline Analyzer will tell you all that and so much more!

    4. Canva

    The holy grail of all bloggers, graphic designers, freelancers etc. You can do EVERYTHING on here for FREE! Resize images, design social media graphics, find pictures, add text, create logos, lead magnets, templates, worksheets, icons, banners etc. etc. I spent so much time on Canva and I can’t get enough of it.

    My blog and social media presence would not be nearly as good without it. It’s easy to use and they even have an app that works really well.

    5. Stock Photos!!

    I LOVE a good stock photo! Creating Pinterest and blog graphics is so much more fun (and successful) when you have a beautiful picture to use.

    There are so many photos out there that are crazy gorgeous but protected by copyrights. Unless you’re a professional photographer who takes her own blog pictures I recommend the following stock photo services that let you use their pictures for free! No attribution required either (although appreciated).

    Some of them have a search bar so you can be really specific about the image you need (for example, laptop, desk, white space, pastel etc.) and others have general themed picture packages.

    Here are some of my favorites:

    6. Yoast Seo Plugin

    This free WordPress Plugin helped me to optimize all my posts for SEO (Search Engine Optimization) from the start. It makes it so easy and breaks down every SEO element step-by-step.

    Every time you write a post you can optimize it before publishing with Yoast. Whether its meta description, slug, focus key phrase or even how easy it is to read your content – Yoast will be there to guide you through it.

    They even use sad, neutral or happy emojis to show you how well your post is doing. Easy peasy!

    7. MailChimp

    Another tool that has been with me since the beginning. Every blogger should have an email list (and use different strategies to constantly grow it).

    Collecting email addresses from your subscriber has never been easier than with MailChimp. And it’s free up to 2,000 subscribers.

    I have used MailChimp to set up my email lists, create opt-in forms and pop ups, write an email sequence and analyze click through and opening rates.

    I love how user-friendly it is and if you’re just starting out on your blogging journey this is a great alternative to paid email services such as ConvertKit.

    8. Evernote

    Evernote has been my friend ever since I bought a new laptop and decided that a subscription to Microsoft Office was too expensive. I needed a platform to write and edit my notes on and found the perfect one.

    Not only does it synchronizes all my notes with all my devices and let’s me add tags to my notes but I can also search my notes and clip content from the web directly into Evernote. My favorite writing and brainstorming tool!

    BONUS WRITING TOOLS:
    Google Docs and Google Sheets are also great alternatives to Microsoft Office products. I use Google sheets to keep track of my pin descriptions, affiliate marketing programs etc. – all for free, no pricy Microsoft Office required!

    9. Trello

    If you’ve been blogging for a while you know it can get super overwhelming to do ALL.THE.THINGS. There is just so much to do on a daily, weekly or monthly basis. Every month there is more and more I want to try and take on, create, write, schedule, post etc.

    Trello lets you break down all those big goals into a bunch of smaller tasks which helps with all the overwhelm. Keyword – FOCUS! I stay with one task until I finish, then I move on to the next and my focus is insane. Blog smarter not harder.

    10. Hootsuite

    One tool I plan on utilizing a lot more in the future once I figure out how to be more strategic about my social media. It’s great for batching your work since you can schedule out your social media posts for a whole week (or even month) in advance all at once and be done.

    You can also create different channels to monitor mentions, different hashtags etc.

    BONUS Social Media Tool

    Here is an essential blogging tool that has a monthly fee but offers a FREE TRIAL – Tailwind!

    Because of Pinterest (more spcifically Tailwind) I was able to drive more than 5,000 page views to my brand new blog! I now have more than 400,000 monthly viewers on Pinterest.

    Page views in December 2018: 538 (before Tailwind)
    Page views in January 2019: 5,161 (after Tailwind)

    SO WHAT MAKES TAILWIND SO AMAZING?

    Scheduling & Automation, Tailwind Tribes and features such as SmartLoop – add your Pins once and SmartLoop will re-circulate them for you indefinitely, detailed insights about your pins, impressions, followers etc. There are too many awesome tools to count.

    I wrote an entire post about How I grew my Brand New Pinterest Account to 250,000 monthly viewers in 2 months with Tailwind.

    Give Tailwind a shot. You can try it for FREE, no credit card required. It’s completely risk-free. All new users get 100 free pins. I highly recommend it (especially for new bloggers who are trying to increase their blog traffic).

    More Content:

    I hope you find these tools as useful as I do! Let me know in the comments if I missed any.

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  • How I Grew My Brand New Pinterest Account To 250k Monthly Viewers In Two Months

    Pinterest for Newbie Bloggers – The Complete Guide

    When I first started my blog a few months ago I knew I wanted to use Pinterest to its fullest potential. I had heard so much about other bloggers using it as their main source of traffic.

    After reading a ton of articles and guides about it I realized that Pinterest is the BEST tool for new (and established) bloggers! I could reach a huge audience and start driving traffic to my blog if I used it right.

    In addition to driving tons of traffic to your blog, Pinterest is also a useful tool to inspire you, connect you with other bloggers and keep your ideas organized. Oh, and by the way – Pinterest is the fastest growing social media platform with more than 250 million users. 

    In this guide, I’m going to share the exact 6 steps I took to grow my Pinterest account from 0 to 250,000 monthly viewers and to 386 followers in just two months (say what?). By following this guide and setting up your account the right way you’ll be able to build a strong foundation to grow your Pinterest like I did!

    Check out these sweet stats: 


    Pinterest Basics  

    For those of you completely new to Pinterest, let’s go over some Pinterest basics (feel free to skip).

    Pin – Linked images. As a blogger, you will want to create lots of (beautiful) pins that link back to your blog. When people click on your pin they will become a visitor on your blog. 

    Repin – You can save other people’s pins by repinning them. To increase the reach of your own pins you will want lots of others to repin your image. 

    Board – This is where all your pins and repins you save from others are stored. You will want to create some boards according to your niche to get started (more on that later). 

    Profile – All the pins you save and repin as well as your boards, followers and everyone you’re following can be accessed from your profile.  


    Alright, time to dive into the 6 step process I used to take my Pinterest game to the next level. 


    STEP 1: SET UP YOUR BUSINESS ACCOUNT 

    First things first. Go to https://business.pinterest.com and click “Join as a business.” Now you can create your account.

    Name

    Pick an account name, usually your blog name or first name. This is followed by a vertical line along with your tag line or specialty. Make sure your name and tagline contain some keywords applicable to your niche.

    My Pinterest name: Julia On Purpose | Personal Growth + Lifestyle Blogger

    Blog name, vertical line, keywords and all!

    Pro Hack – I found this amazing hack via Haskin Creatives. Pinterest has a 30 character cap on your profile name length but you can get up to 65 characters by using the Pinterest app on your phone instead of the desktop version.

    Bio

    Write a brief description of who you are. Why should people follow you? What value can you provide to them? What is your website/ blog about?

    You only have 150 characters so your bio should be short yet interesting and informative. If you’re unsure you can always check out what other bloggers in your niche wrote in their profile.

    My Pinterest bio: 
    Blogging Tips, Personal Growth & Budget Advice | Creating a life I love | Finding my purpose | Inspiring & empowering others to become their best self

    Some bloggers also add a link here that includes a call to action. For example, Melyssa Griffin (gosh I love her so much!!): “FREE workshop: How to use Pinterest to rapidly grow your traffic + email list: LINK”

    Profile pic  

    When I first started my Pinterest account I decided to use my logo instead of a profile pic. I was scared to be “public” and if you want to start out that way until you’re more comfortable with Pinterest I say go for it. 

    Eventually, you will need a picture that shows off your personality though. This will give people an opportunity to connect with you and make a great first impression. Ideally, you will want to use a  headshot.

    STEP 2: VERIFY YOUR WEBSITE, ENABLE ANALYTICS AND RICH PINS


    Verify your website on Pinterest

    This one sounds a lot harder than it actually is. Once you verify your website you’ll have access to the super detailed Analytics section (see below). Your website will be listed on your profile making it a lot easier for people to find it.

    Although, there are different ways to go through the whole verification process I’ll only focus on the one that I think is the easiest. I struggled a bit with the other ones but this one is pretty foolproof even for non-tech savvy people like me.

    So here is how you do it (note these exact steps will only work if you have WordPress):

    1. Go to your profile settings and scroll down to “Claim.” Enter your website address.


    2. Pinterest will then ask you to choose between adding an HTML tag to your website or to upload an HTML file. Choose “Add HTML file”, copy the code shown within content= ” ” inside the meta tag:

    3. Now download the Verify Ownership plugin in WordPress. I’m sure there are other plugins that have a similar purpose but this is the one I used.

    4. Once activated, go to Settings > Verify Ownership. It will ask you to enter your Pinterest Verification Code. Paste the code you just saved.


    5. Go back to Pinterest, hit next, and submit. And you’re done!

    Pinterest will check your meta tag and get back to you within 24 hours to confirm your website.  


    Explore your analytics section

    Use Pinterest Analytics to refine your Pinterest strategy. The many features range from pin performance, impressions to monthly viewers over time and so much more.

    Once you verified your website you can also see what kind of content others save to Pinterest from your website.

    Here is a screenshot of my analytics section:

    Pinterest analytics

    Enable rich pins

    Rich Pins include more context by showing extra information directly on your pin. You can easily apply for rich pins in 3 easy steps.

    Install and activate Yoast. Make sure Yoast’s “Advanced settings pages” is “Enabled.” You can find this in the “Features” tab. 

    • Validate Your Rich Pins

    Just go to Pinterest’s Rich Pin Validator, enter a link from one of your blog posts  and click “Validate.” 

    • Apply for Rich Pins

    After clicking “apply now” a window with your website and “HTML tags” will pop up. Click “apply now” and you’re done! Again, you have to wait to hear back from Pinterest. It usually takes a few days or weeks but it will be so worth it.

    STEP 3: SET UP YOUR BOARDS (SEO!!)

    Start by creating 10-12 boards that are directly related to your blog. Make sure your board names and board descriptions are search friendly and keyword rich.

    Choose descriptive and specific board names. For example, instead of “Blogging” use “Blogging Tips for Beginners” or “WordPress Tools for Bloggers.” Now your boards and pins have a much higher chance of being found in a search. 

    Example of one of my board names and descriptions:

    Blogging Tips For Beginners

    This board offers blogging tips for beginners, more info on how to write great blog posts, WordPress tips, blogging courses, guidance on how to start a blog, how to grow your email list and your traffic, blog income reports, and other useful blogging tools #blogger #blogincome #startablog

    Other Tips
    • You can use free tools such as Keywords Everywhere to find good keywords to use in your description.
    • Don’t forget to create a “Best of INSERT YOUR BLOG NAME” board and make it one of your featured boards.
    • For an organized, cohesive look consider creating board covers. You can easily create them in Canva. Board covers are square and should ideally be 600 x 600.
    • Create secret boards. Turn on the “secret” option in your board settings. You can pin random blog post ideas, pins that don’t really fit well with any of your categories, and blog posts that you want to read later.


    STEP 4: CREATE HIGHLY ENGAGING PIN CONTENT

    In order to be successful on Pinterest you need to create high-quality and highly engaging pins. I use Canva to design all my pins. Canva has a template called “Pinterest Graphic” that is already optimized for pins (735x1102px).

    Use high-quality stock photos from sites like UnsplashPic Jumbo or Oh Tilly Styled Stock Photos. Create multiple pins for each blog post so that you can mix them up and have a variety of pins to share on Pinterest.

    You can start with 1-2 pins for each post. Play around with different headlines, fonts, colors, stock photos and see what performs best. Eventually, you will want to create a template (based on which pins perform best) so that your pins get a more consistent look.

    Title & Description

    Most of the hard work is done since you already activated your “Rich Pins” in step 2. Pinterest will automatically pull an excerpt from the article you’re linking to but you still need to add a description. Again, be sure to add keywords, a brief summary about the article and hashtags. 

    Other Tips
    • Be sure to include your pins with each blog post so people can easily share and pin your content directly from your website (domain pins).
    • A highly engaging pin is pleasing to the eye and easy to read. It offers a solution to a problem and is interesting (think attention-grabbing action words, bold colors, and fonts).
    • Don’t forget to brand your pin and add your blog name (I used to forget this all the time, ugh).

    Here is an example of different pins I created for the same blog post:

    STEP 5: START PINNING!

    Start out with pinning 10-20 pins to each of your boards. Do not do this all at once though – it might trigger Pinterest to lock your account due to “spamming.”

    Pin a few images at a time over a couple of days. After you filled each board with 10-20 pins you can start pinning things as you go.  

    To start out I recommend pinning 20-30 pins a day. Post 10 pins 3 times a day rather than 30 pins at once. You can up your daily pins as your followers, monthly viewers and engagement increases. 

    Other Tips
    • Check your analytics regularly. Which pins and boards perform well? Which ones need to be updated or deleted? During what times/days do you see a drop or spike in your impressions, engagement etc.?
    • Follow the 80/20 rule – pin 80% of other people’s content and 20% of your own. Once your audience grows you can change this to 50/50.
    • Follow 10-20 people a day that fit your niche. This will give you good niche specific content to re-share on your feed.
    • Apply to 20-30 niche specific group boards. If you’re not sure how to find them just look at some other bloggers in your niche. Which group boards are they a part of? Don’t get discouraged if you don’t get accepted or don’t hear back. I had to apply to about 20 only to get accpeted into about 3 or 4.


    STEP 6: AUTOMATE YOUR PINS AND GROW YOUR PINTEREST WITH TAILWIND

    Let me introduce you to my secret weapon in the Pinterest World. Now that you’re all set up it’s time to take your Pinterest game to the next level with Tailwind

    BEFORE TAILWIND

    As a new blogger I started from 0 and had no idea about Pinterest for business. I signed up for Pinterest in my second month of blogging and taught myself a lot by reading blog posts, Pinterest guides and courses. In less than a month I was able to:

    • Go from 0 monthly viewers to almost 23k 
    • Increase my followers from 0 to 181 
    • Increase my blog traffic with Pinterest by about 10%

    AFTER TAILWIND

    I thought I was doing pretty good and honestly just signed up for the free Tailwind trial to see what the hype was all about. Well, let me tell you – I was blown away. 

    I increased my blog traffic by 859% in just one month thanks to Tailwind. 

    • Page views in December 2018: 538 (before Tailwind)
    • Page views in January 2019: 5,161 (after Tailwind)

    SO WHAT MAKES TAILWIND SO AMAZING?

    Scheduling & Automation

     I’m now able to schedule out a weeks worth of blog pins in less than 10 minutes (I spent HOURS on that every week before Tailwind) so this is such a HUGE time saver. The pins are automatically spaced out and posted at optimized times when my target audience is most likely to be active.

    Tailwind Tribes

    I also discovered Tailwind Tribes. They work like Pinterest group boards but are much easier to join and more user-friendly. You add your pin to a tribe and other members of the tribe can see and share your pin. In return, you get high-quality pins that you can share as well. 

    Features

    Some other Tailwind features that I LOVE

    • SmartLoop – add your Pins once and SmartLoop will re-circulate them for you indefinitely
    • Detailed insights about your pins, impressions, followers etc. 
    • Publisher – automatically schedules your pins at times with the highest engagement 

    They have a great short video explaining the Tailwind basics if you want to find out more.

    As you can see I owe a lot of my Pinterest success to Tailwind.

    I highly recommend it (especially for new bloggers who are trying to increase their blog traffic).

    Give Tailwind a shot. You can try it for FREE, no credit card required. It’s completely risk-free. All new users get 100 free pins. After that, it’s only $9.99 (or $14.99, depending on the plan you choose). Trust me, after you see your results you will want to keep using Tailwind.

    BONUS: Checklist to increase your traffic for Beginners

    Once you completed all the steps above you can use this handy checklist to continue to increase your traffic

    • Regularly update your boards with new keywords and new pins – add at least one new board every two weeks
    • Design more pins for each blog post
    • Apply to 3-5 group boards on Pinterest every month and join 5 tribes on Tailwind – collaborate with others
    • Schedule about 200 pins per month in Tailwind (try out Tailwind for FREE here)

    Alright, that’s it! You are ready to become a professional Pinner. Set up your business account, create your boards, design your pins and start pinning! The longer you are on the platform, the greater your reach. 

    And don’t forget – If you want to grow your traffic and see fast results – Join Tailwind!

    If you have any questions, suggestions or tips feel free to add them in the comments 🙂

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  • 15 Legit Side Hustle Ideas To Try In 2020


    Making money is easier (and faster) than ever. A side hustle gives you the flexibility to boost your income or pay off your debt while still working your full-time job. Ready to turn your passion into a side hustle? Here are 15 side hustle ideas to try in 2019.

    1. Become a self-employed Social Media Manager

    Are you a social media pro? Or do you just love learning more about the ins and outs of social media? Pitch a social media marketing plan to a small business owner and become a social media manager. A lot of small business owners don’t have the time, expertise or resources to have a full-time social media expert on staff. You can offer your services for a contracted monthly fee. 

    To help you get started, offer social media management services for cheap to get clients and referrals. This Quora post has some great ideas on how to approach small businesses and pitch your services to them.


    2. Answer questions on JustAnswer 

    If you’re a certified expert you can get paid to answer questions on JustAnswer. They have more than 175 categories (Computer, Engineering, and Finance to name a few).

    You can make your own hours and work from wherever you want. The application process is pretty straightforward and should only take about 30 minutes. Apparently, their top experts earn thousands each month helping customers solve everyday issues. 

    3. Start a blog

    Starting (and maintaining) a blog will take a great deal of time and effort but you could end up making some serious money including passive income once you learn how to effectively monetize your blog. 

    If you love to write and have about 10-15 hours a week to invest, starting a blog might be right for you. Here is a list of my favorite bloggers that make up to six figures each year. They have a lot of resources, courses and tools to help others make money blogging. 

    Check out my resources page for more tools and services I use to keep my blog running smoothly.

    4. Teach an e-course

    Online or e- courses are a way to share information or your skills. Everyone has cultivated some type of expertise in their life. Create your own course and share it with other people. eLearning Industry has 5 Tips To Create Your First eCourse Like A Pro

    Udemy or Skillshare are some great platforms to get you started connecting you with students all over the world. 

    5. Drive for Uber and Lyft

    These ride-sharing apps are an easy way to earn extra money anytime.  The best part – incredible flexibility! Don’t feel like driving? Stay home. Need some money and got nothing better to do? Drive away. It’s that easy.

    The requirements vary slightly from city to city so make sure to check out the requirements for your area. Here are the basics:

    • Meet the minimum age to drive in your city
    • Have at least one year of licensed driving experience in the US (3 years if you are under 23 years old)
    • Have a valid US driver’s license
    • Use an eligible 4-door vehicle


    6. Publish an eBook

    Another one for the writers among you. Similar to a blog, an eBook can be a great form of passive income. It’s an effective, low-cost way to self-publish. CreateSpace and KDP, both by Amazon, allow you to easily create and sell your eBook. Publishing takes less than 5 minutes and your book appears on Kindle stores worldwide within 24-48 hours. Get writing!

    7. Freelance Gigs on Fiverr

    Fiverr is an online freelancing platform and the world’s largest marketplace for digital services. Almost anyone can find something to sell on Fiverr. Sign up, find where your skills can fit in and get to work. You can create so-called Gigs highlighting the service you provide on Fiverr (such as website design, writing content, translations etc). 

    8. Rent out parking spaces with AirGarage

    With AirGarage, you can sell your unused parking spaces and earn extra income hassle-free. They manage everything – lot enforcement, payment processing, and customer support. Spaces on AirGarage range in price (about $30-$70 a month) depending on location and availability. AirGarage only takes a 3% processing fee the rest is yours to keep.

    9. Start an Etsy Shop

    Every year my mom sends me handmade gifts for Christmas – I’m talking cosmetic bags, handbags, scarfs, blankets. She loves to create things and she’s a pro! I keep telling her to start an Etsy store so she can turn her hobby into an income – and so should you!

    Etsy can help you sell pretty much anything to people looking for unique and fun gifts. The platform empowers sellers to do what they love and helps buyers find what they love. Many people have turned their Etsy stores into a full-time business. 

    10. Babysitting on Care.com

    Care.com saved me in college. I was desperate for cash and found a high paying babysitting job almost immediately after signing up. I had previous experience working as a full-time nanny but even if you have less experience – Care.com will match you with your perfect family. 

    If you love kids and know how to make your profile stand out, Care.com can be a great high-paying side hustle.  The average pay rate is $12/hour (per child) and there aren’t any service fees for the sitter. 

    11. Dog Sitting and Walking

    I don’t know about you but my dog does not do well when boarded. When I found out about Rover I was so excited to find a loving sitter that my pug Greg absolutely adored. When I moved into my own place I signed up to become a sitter myself right away. I made almost $2,000 that year doing what I love most – spending time with pups. 

    You can make your own schedule and customize your availability and dog preference (age, weight, house sitting, walking, boarding etc.). I increase my earnings by about 15% every year because I have a lot of repeat clients (that also recommend me to their friends) and great reviews. The only downside is that Rover keeps 20% of all your earnings. 

    Related: How To Make Money Pet Sitting – The Ultimate Guide

    While I make about 90% of my dog hustle income with dog boarding at my home there is also a great need for dog walkers. Services like Wag Walking you with on-demand walking services.

    12. Write Resumes

    When I applied for new jobs about 6 months ago I did a ton of research and rewrote and edited my resume about a million times. I finally perfected it and was able to score an interview for almost every job I applied to. I started revising my friend’s resumes as well and found out pretty quickly that writing good resumes is a highly sought-after skill. 

    A lot of job seekers need help turning their resumes into well-crafted and structured tools that show off their skills and get them the interview. You can read more about how Freelance Resume Writers earn money here.

    13. Airbnb

    Ok, I’ll admit it, the concept is a little strange – you let strangers stay in your house renting it out for money… but Airbnb is used and trusted all over the world. You can meet interesting people and control your pricing and schedule. Some people make thousands each month. Airbnb only keeps 3% of your earnings.

    14. Reduce your expenses

    Alright, I know that’s not really a side hustle. Take some time to sit down, track your expenses and actively determine the areas in your life where you could save money. Start making a budget, stick to it and watch your “income” grow.  I saved more than $12,000 last year by actively cutting back my expenses.

    15. Become a Virtual Assistant

    Virtual assistants are in high demand. You’ll need to commit to about 20-30 hours a week, be very organized and have some experience (or are willing to learn). Virtual assistants provide services like WordPress Website Management, Content Creation, Blog and Email Management and other administrative support. You can sign up with a VA company like BELAY or Fancy Hands to see if this is something you’d like to try.  

    If you want to learn more about this side hustle opportunity and are interested in setting up your own VA business I highly recommend checking out Horky Handbook’s ultimate step-by-step guide on how to become a virtual assistant

    BONUS: Investment apps

    Are you interested in making money investing in the stock market? With a bit of research and some upfront investment, you could earn some big returns. But careful – it’s also possible to lose really quickly if you have no clue what you’re doing.

    That’s why I chose to get started with Robinhood. It is probably the best investment app currently out there. They don’t charge users to trade stocks, ETFs and options so there is no cost. There is also an option to trade cryptocurrencies, including bitcoin. You can learn to invest in the stock market as you build out your portfolio.

    Related: Top 7 Free Budget & Personal Finance Tools

    Do you have a side hustle? How did you get started? Do you have any advice to share?


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