Blogging & Monetization

I have been struggling a little bit with The Great Canadian Housewife. Not so much with content, well maybe a little, but more with just knowing where to start. I have exactly 20 posts since my first one in February this year. Most of those in April, May, and June I think, which is when I really started to get serious about it. As I said I am not really struggling so much with content, at least not yet, but I am sure that will come soon enough.

Right now my biggest struggles with it are driving traffic to it. Which I am doing somewhat okay at, but honestly I have nothing to compare it too as this one I never cared a whole lot or paid attention. It was more for me than for anyone else. Maybe that’s a bit selfish to say but it is a personal blog after all (this one).

I don’t care so much about SEO and that with this as I mostly just seek out other bloggers that I enjoy reading and comment on their blogs and probably 8 or 9 times out of ten they then come comment on mine. Which is sort of what I am doing with the other one, but I am not sure if that is the right way to go about it. It seems to be working okay but I am just not really sure.

I am struggling a lot with monetizing it and also with social media. Starting with social media I made a Facebook, Pinterest, Twitter, and Instagram account for the blog. Facebook was not too hard and I already have about 40 people following it but I am more active on Facebook than anywhere and most of those are my personal friends, a few bloggers, and some former work acquaintances. Not all of which are the right audience for the blog I don’t think,

I am unsure if I should narrow down my “niche” for it a bit more. It started as a place for me to share my “learn to be a housewife” kinda lifestyle I am sort of now living. But let’s face it, I suck as a housewife lol. I still love the name though and it still sort of fits so now I am trying to make it a product review (household products, beauty products, cleaning products, etc), book review, crafts, recipes, DIY, etc type of blog which I guess could fall more under “lifestyle” maybe?

I want to do some sponsored posts, mostly about makeup, haircare, skincare, bath & body, and those kinds of products as well as cleaning and household supplies, gardening, etc. So yeah, basically “housewife” type stuff. As well as some book reviews. I found a good site for that where I can get free books (popular newer ones at that) in exchange for reviews. I don’t get paid but I spend a lot on books so it seems a fair trade-off.  I am struggling though on how to start out with getting my first few sponsored posts. I joined some influence/sponsored post networks but they either have nothing, or it’s crap for lack of a better term, or I don’t qualify.

I did get one person email me and ask me to collaborate with her brand (hair wigs) in which she wants me to do 2 posts, shared to social media and a banner for 3 months on my page all for $12 US. I’m not a genius but even I know that’s too low. I am not afraid to reply back and say that but I am unsure even remotely on what to ask for for that. Not to mention I have never worn a wig in my life and will not lie so I am wondering what exactly the post entails. She has not mentioned trying a wig or anything like that and her wigs are expensive so I can understand.

I am okay with doing a post where I do some research maybe and write a post about it and link to her site but I won’t be saying I have tried one of the wigs when I haven’t. She’s not offering up a lot of info and I am not sure where to start to ask. I would love to collaborate but I am just unsure where myself and my blog would fit in in that scenario and don’t honestly really know how to ask.

I know my lack of knowledge and inexperience could become an issue when trying to get a sponsored post but you have to start somewhere right? And I am good at researching and have been trying to gather as much info about monetization and sponsored posts as I can. If anyone has any knowledge I would be more then thankful if anyone wants to share. I need a mentor lol.

I keep getting directed to these online courses that sound too good to be true in the groups and things I am in and I refuse to pay $300 for something that could literally be a flop or “scam”, not to mention I am broke as hell again and we are living off of Eddie’s part-time job and my student loan so I couldn’t afford it if I wanted too.

One last thing I am struggling with is affiliate links/banners. I did not want to go with Google Adsense for one because I want control over the ads I put on my site and only companies I either have dealt with or research and two because I can’t seem to get approved by them for some reason anyways even though I keep following all instructions. So I joined Rakuten Affiliates, CJ Affiliates, and Amazon Affiliates and figured out how to use it as far as banner ads on my site or pointing to specific things with their link codes but I am not getting any clicks, not one single click. Some impressions but no clicks. Not sure what I am doing wrong there either.

Sorry, this post got long, so I am going to end it here. Hopefully, I can figure this all out. And juggle school at as well. I so badly want to make this work in the long run for some additional income, not expecting miracles or anything but just a little extra every few months would be nice.

Creating a WordPress theme

First off, I’m going to apologize, this is not a tutorial or anything like that. Just observations. I’ve had this theme a while now. It was completed mostly from scratch from a blank starter template because I am too lazy to code it from the beginning (and honestly I am guessing I am not the only one, it’s beyond laziness it’s about productivity). I don’t really know everything I need to do to make one that will be responsive etc, so I started with _s (underscores) and then it was suggested to me on the WordPress forums to switch to components a little while back as it was more up-to-date. At the time I was just getting started with _s and getting used to taking a design which I had conceptualized either in my head and/or in Photoshop and turning it into a theme in WordPress, so I wanted to continue with _s before delving into another starter theme.

For those of you not familiar with a starter theme and I am sure a lot if not most of you are but I will give a brief explanation of what it is and why some developers use them. I’m no developer by far but I plan to be one eventually. Basically a starter theme is a WordPress theme that is blank with minimal or no design, they usually come with the most commonly used templates in WordPress. You can add templates, edit the existing ones, change and add CSS and much more. So why should WordPress Developers consider using a starter theme? Well, it gives them a head start on projects, gives them a good solid base to start on whether they have created their own starter theme that they re-use, or whether they are using one of the other good ones that are out there already.

I hope one day to create my own starter theme that I will use for projects with everything I think a good solid design needs and with options that can be added or omitted for certain types of designs. I think once you have a good foundation of PHP and WordPress templates along with HTML and CSS it should not be too hard to do. It has taken me a while to get this theme where I want it. I have been working on it ever since I put it up back at the beginning of the year (or was it last year some time? I don’t even know). I have been able to create a good theme for my blog that I can use as a basis and I want to eventually start re-creating it in components or another starter theme. I’ll look into them more when the time comes.

In the meantime, I have made some changes over the last few days to this theme. Obviously I have changed some of the colors a little (not much) and added a background that shows at the top and bottom to make it less plain looking. I’ve been working on fixing errors, bugs or whatever you want to call them. If you happen to notice any more please let me know. I want to try and recreate and fix them as they are found. I was able to fix a few things as well that were driving me nuts. My 404 and search pages were missing the sidebar and just looked weird so I fixed that as well.

I am not so sure about the responsiveness right now. I have been looking for some good tools to help me test things out so again if anyone knows of any please let me know what your go-to tools are for testing your websites. I know for instance that depending on your screen size the menu may not look quite right. I have tried to fix it but not 100% sure I have. I am not sure how to make a good responsive menu and looking it up has not really given me anything that seems to work right so I a still working on that and a few other things especially when viewing the site from a mobile phone or tablet.

So far I really feel a sense of accomplishment with what I have taught myself over the years and it just goes to further cement in my mind that this is the right option for me. I love this and could not imagine a life without blogging and creating themes and designing websites. Right now I am most comfortable with WordPress but I want to start learning and exploring some other content management systems and website and blogging platforms that are popular at the moment (or at that time). I am really happy where things are headed and feel like I finally have found something I am good at and now I am finally realizing that with a bit of guided structure I can become much better and really make a good career out of it.

I’m officially a university student!

Well almost, the very last thing is the final approval for my loan but I am 100% registered, got my class schedule for my first semester, my student email account set up and Office 365 downloaded and installed, and I even have access to classes as of today. I can get started anytime. I just can’t submit anything, contact the professor or take tests until my final loan approval (as they had to update the amount) and until I receive it and pay tuition. Which should be roughly 10 days before my official start date.

I am so excited! I will be getting started as soon as I get back today from driving my husband to work. He works 2-8 so I plan to spend the whole time looking over the course information, syllabus, study guide, and maybe start on the actual course today. It’s been so long since I was in school and I never finished community college and it’s so different now anyways that I might need today to get acclimated and get an idea of what the process is for doing the work online. But that’s okay, I am just so excited to get myself started and praying that last step goes smoothly.

If for some reason it doesn’t I know I can drop any courses I can’t afford, switch to part-time and pay for one course or two at a time with our Visa paying them off before taking the next one(s). But we are not going to think about that right now right? Positive thoughts. It’s been approved basically anyways, they just need to change the amount, and it is going down not up as they would only let me apply for 2 semesters at a time but the university does it one at a time so you have to apply for two, wait for them to approve, send to the university, the university responds with the updated dates and amounts sends it back (which was done last week) and then student loans reviews and gives final approval. So I am thinking it shouldn’t be an issue.

So, yeah, I am so thrilled and so proud of myself!

Oh and btw, my mom started university today at the University of Manitoba (online) so we are both full-time university students! One almost 40 and the other almost 66!