This isn’t meant to be a long list. In fact, I’m keeping it short intentionally, because there are just a few high impact pieces you need to set up your blog to become a great resource for others and a business earning income.
Here are the only tried, tested and approved plugins we use on Moving Mountains:
Akismet is the best plugin I’ve found for fighting comment spam. It’s always the first plugin I download when creating a new site with comments. There really isn’t much to set up, but you do need to register for a free token on their website to enable the plugin.
The image below is a snapshot of the settings page and the number of spam comments Akismet blocked. Over 119,000 spam comments!
There are many SEO plugins for WordPress, but in my humble opinion, Yoast Wordpress SEO is the most powerful, all-in-one plugin you can get for free. You can set up everything from blog post titles, social media and sitemaps.
Most of what you need to do with Yoast is a one-time setup. I recommend this Yoast Setup Guide from Tom at Online Media Masters. He’ll walk you through each step of setting up Yoast for your WordPress blog.
This little plugin is easy to install and all you have to do is activate it. When you share a post on Facebook, it’ll automatically make the image in your post the featured image on Facebook. Quick, easy and super helpful!
You can use this plugin or install Google analytics directly on your site. Either way, you’ll want to have Google analytics before you start blogging. It’s free and essential for tracking your blog’s growth and visitor information.
If you’re hoping to build recurring visitors to your blog, you’ll need to get them on your email list. Mailchimp is free for collecting and emailing up to 2,000 people and it’s easy to use.
Once you set up Mailchimp, LeadPages is a great program that allows you to create opt-in boxes at the bottom of your posts and in the side column of your blog. You can also create popups like you see on the bottom of our blog. Want to host a webinar? You can do it. Want to create an amazing place for people to download your ebook? You can do it. Super easy and very, very valuable.
Now that you’ve defined your goals and chosen a niche, it’s time to build the foundation of your blog. That means choosing a URL, hosting site and theme -- but don’t worry! I’ve provided every resource and tutorial you’ll need along the way to make it as easy as possible. Let’s get started!
The first step to building your blog’s foundation is choosing a domain name. You can check to see if your desired blog name is available instantly below:
Depending on how you plan to bring traffic to your site, you can either choose a domain that includes keywords that are discoverable in organic search OR a branded domain name with more personality. Discoverable domains are helpful for SEO search traffic and branded domains are usually more memorable but either can be branded.
For example, a discoverable domain for this site would be something like: howtoearnasideincome.com. Movingmountains.co is a brandable domain because we’re more focused on realizing your potential, not just making money.
Bottom line: Make sure your domain name is easy to spell and pronounce. Don’t get fancy with alternate spelling, it just confuses people. (I speak from experience, having done this before.)
Before you launch your website you’ll need to choose a website hosting provider that will store all the content on your website.
I recommend Bluehost because it’s reliable, has great support and is inexpensive at just $5.95 per month. The first time I setup my site I didn’t go with Bluehost, and I seriously regretted the hours of hassle it caused me.
Choosing a theme is about more than just the website design. The theme also affects how your audience will engage with the site and the type of customer support you’ll receive.
Here are the main things to consider when choosing a theme.
You can check out theme Showcases to see the potential of different theme. Here are some great options for all types of websites.
Once you’ve selected a theme, you’re ready to install it. It’s a simple process that shouldn’t take long at all. This video is a great step by step tutorial for installing your theme in Wordpress.
Finally, if you want to set up a specific email address for your new website this tutorial is very helpful. If you are the only one blogging, just start with firstname.lastname@example.org.
Or, if you’re already using Gmail and want to integrate the email address into your existing account, use this tutorial.
Congratulations! Your website is ready to go. In our next post about starting a blog, we’ll discuss how to lay out the welcome mat for your visitors and start customizing your homepage and blog. Stay tuned!
The online marketplace is the way of the future, especially for entrepreneurial types ready to ditch their 9-to-5 jobs and two-hour commutes. Many people assume they need to start a popular blog to make money online, and that is one option. But monetizing a blog takes time. Unless you really enjoy writing, you’re better off looking at other opportunities better suited to your skill set.
Here are 10 ways to earn easy income online without starting a blog.
Whatever service you’re selling, there’s probably someone on Fiverr who’s buying. Fiverr is a unique marketplace where users offer their skills or expertise for five dollars. Clients hire professionals for voiceover work, keyword research, Photoshop editing, career advice, logo designs, mobile app development — the list goes on.
Think about what services you can provide quickly and correctly, then create a free profile and gig listing. You can also upsell clients with add-on features after they make the initial five dollar agreement.
The Fulfilled by Amazon program allows you to sell products to customers around the world, which Amazon will package and ship for you directly from its warehouses. You’ll have little overhead, since you don’t have to handle inventory and only pay for storage space as Amazon fills your orders.
Get started by finding a product that’s popular on Amazon, then order it in bulk from a site like Alibaba.com to resell.
Amazon will pay you a commission just for referring people to its products. You sign up for a free Amazon Associates account, then use custom links to ensure you get credit if someone uses them to buy Amazon products. Here’s a look at the commission rates on different items.
You can write about your favorite products on a blog or personal site, or you can share the links on social media. The goal is to educate your audience about products that would be of value to them, then get them to buy using your affiliate links.
This is another Amazon program, but it focuses on “hits,” or micro tasks, that you complete quickly. Thousands of people power the Mechanical Turk marketplace by working on small segments of many projects. For instance, if someone submits a 60-minute transcription project, 10 people will transcribe six minutes each, rather than having one person take the entire assignment.
Tasks on the site include data entry, writing short paragraphs, taking surveys, and countless other options. Daily earnings range from a few dollars to $100, for those willing to hustle.
Udemy keeps a percentage of your profits, but promotes your course within its user base so you still end up making decent money. I started using Udemy about three years ago and earn a few thousand dollars a month from four courses.
Fifty-three million Americans make some or all of their income from freelance or contract work. You can work as a part- or full-time virtual assistant, or take on client projects as a writer, programmer, web designer, accountant, business consultant or several other capacities.
If you’re new to the freelancing game, create a profile on bidding sites like odesk.com or elance.com. Strategize before you start bidding to make sure you’re taking on projects that pay well. You’ll also want to set up a portfolio site to make it easy for clients to find and hire you directly. Thanks to intuitive themes from Themeforest, powered by great hosting from Bluehost, you can easily have a portfolio site up and running in no time.
Have a knack for homemade crafts? Sell them on Etsy, the international marketplace that’s taken the DIY craft world by storm — and has earned some entrepreneurs serious dough. Sign up for free and test your best products in your own Etsy shop.
Craigslist — it’s so much more than Missed Connections. You can start a profitable side business by advertising your freelance services or selling restored furniture on local Craigslist sites. You don’t have to deal with shipping if you sell locally, but sharpen your negotiation skills before you enter into any Craigslist transactions. People can be brutal when looking for a bargain.
Thanks to the ever growing number of blogs and news sites, good photography is in major demand. If you’re sitting on a repository of great photos, or are willing to shoot some fresh ones, you can earn money selling your snaps online. Sites like Envato, Shutterstock, and iStockPhoto and apps like Foap all buy photos. And you don’t have to choose just one — you can license the same photos to multiple sites.
This is one of the largest online art marketplaces and home to a passionate art community. Sell your art on the site or promote your work to get commissioned for new pieces. Check out this great resource from The Abundant Artist on selling through DeviantArt.
There’s no limit to what you can sell online. Whether you’re a designer, an accountant, or you’re just really good at making wine bottle art, you’ll find a niche on the Internet. By thinking beyond blogging, you can create multiple streams of income. And before you know it, you’ll never need another 9-to-5 again (unless you want one, of course).
My wife, Jessica, and I were like a lot of couples. We both worked full-time jobs and sometimes struggle to find the time — and the money — for date nights and special outings that keep us connected.
About three years ago, we decided to start a blog to make a little extra income. We weren’t trying to create a lavish lifestyle. We just wanted to be comfortable enough that we could indulge in a nice dinner once in awhile.
Like many bloggers, Jessica started with what she knew. For her, that happened to be cooking. She was already preparing dinner each night, so she started taking photos as she cooked. Then, she wrote blog posts to go with the photos and shared them on Pinterest.
Thanks to on-site ads and the popularity of her content, she was earning $2,000/mo in side income within just a few months -- we were onto something. No special tricks or secret sauce (except in the food), just delicious recipes and high quality photos to accompany them.
(Here is my step by step tutorial on how to setup your own blog: How To Setup Your Own Blog In 10 Minutes Or Less )
Blogging presents fantastic opportunities for supplementing or even replacing your 9-to-5 income. In my opinion, the fastest way to monetize is AdSense, Google’s advertising network, which is easy to set up even if you’re new to blogging. But don’t expect to throw up a few ads and watch the money roll in. Successful blogs rely on good content. Here is a sneak peak of our financials that first 90 days:
Here are the most valuable lessons we learned in our first year of blogging.
You’re probably thinking, Of course! That’s obvious. But the lines blur when you’re writing about something you love. When Jessica started blogging, some of the posts she thought were great turned out to be duds with her audience.
We tested different types of articles, about 10-15 a week, to see which drew the best response. We also looked at the most popular content on Pinterest and created our own version. Timing turned out to be key as well. The site drew the most traffic in the evenings, so we published and shared posts on social media during peak hours.
Successful content really depends on knowing your audience — what they like, what they share, and when they engage.
Don’t write about a topic just because you think it will lead to decent ad revenue. Successful blogs rely on the author’s credibility. And credibility comes from knowing — and loving — your niche.
Jessica’s blog took off because she lives her subject. She would cook every day even if her income didn’t depend on it, and her audience knows that. They share a culinary passion, and that’s where the magic happens in monetized blogging. You can’t fake passion, and readers will know if you try.
Blogging is a long-term relationship. Before you hit publish on that first post, ask yourself whether you’ll actually post at least once weekly for the next six months. Be realistic about what you can do, especially if you have other work or ongoing personal commitments.
Ah, writers. We love to procrastinate. But you won’t make a dime off your blog unless you sit down and write every day. Figure out when you do your best writing — and when your content gets the most traffic — and plan your schedule accordingly. I like to write in the morning and post in the evening. Other bloggers like to crank out posts later in the day. It doesn’t matter when you write, just that you do.
Blogging for a living is like a double rainbow — you work for yourself and you get to write about what you love. How many people get to say that? But it’s not all about you. Your content should cater to your audience, building a conversation that happens when and how they want it to take place.
Image by golyak via DepositPhotos
It’s natural for you to feel like there aren’t enough hours in the day. This is especially true if you’re starting a business or side project to earn extra income.
I’m a self-confessing tool & app junkie. I love trying out great new tools to become more productive or automate manual tasks.
In this post I’m sharing 10 best online productivity tools that save me at least 10 hours every week and can do the same for you. I've put the time each tool saves me per week next to each one.
A text expander, like Atext, allows you to create keyboard shortcuts that automatically expand to common phrases or text. When you type in a shortcut, Atext will replace it with the full text so you don’t have to type it out.
For example, you could create a shortcut that triggers your mailing address any time you type “adr” and hit the spacebar. You can do the same with your email signature, an entire email template, and more. I use shortcuts for names, directions, URLs, email templates, commonly used phrases, and dozens of other things.
Atext is for Mac and it’s only $5 for a lifetime license!
Calendly is my personal appointment scheduler. It saves a huge amount of time by eliminating the back and forth when trying to schedule a meeting. Simply set up the type of meeting, duration, and your availability. Then, give the other person a link and they can choose a time. Calendly even notifies them with the phone number to call or any other instructions you want to give.
Calendly has a free and premium version. The free version gives you one meeting type (e.g. 60 minute call).
I haven’t seen many people talk about this one, but it’s one of my secret weapons. Voicebase saves a TON of time, especially when I want to recall a certain part of a recorded conversation.
Ordinarily you would queue up the recording and search for one small part, which requires a ton of tedious work and time. Voicebase removes that struggle by allowing you to search the transcript by keyword. It creates a machine transcription (which isn’t perfect but works great for searching) and it will show you every instance in the recording where you said that keyword.
Alfred is my shortcut to everything. If you use a Mac, the free version is amazing for quickly locating anything on your computer. Alfred also allows you to program almost any action on your computer with hotkeys or commands. And unlike the Spotlight search, Alfred remembers your searches and prioritizes what you search for most often.
Here are just a few of the ways you can use Alfred:
And that’s just the tip of the iceberg. It’s so customizable and saves lots of time searching for items on your computer and online.
I hate writing out technical instructions over and over again. Join.me has saved me, and anyone I’ve tried to explain something to, hours of time. The next time you’re on a call and need to give instructions, just send the other person your join.me link. You can quickly share your screen and show them exactly what to do.
Out of all the screen sharing apps, this one is my favorite because it’s easiest for the other person to set up. All they need to do is click the personal link you send them.
When you just don’t want to type, Dragon Dictate gives your fingers a rest. Dragon is a voice to text software for Mac and PC. It’s far from perfect but one of the best out there. I use Dragon to write blog posts, compose emails and even write out my to do list for the day.
It’s a little pricey, but don’t pay full price for it -- you can often find it up to 50% off.
If you don’t want to pay for Dragon, Apple’s built in voice to text lets you record 30 seconds at a time and it’s extremely accurate. If you have the latest OS, hitting fn twice should trigger it. Or, go to settings, dictation and speech, and make sure that dictation is on and you have the right mic selected.
It’s tough to find time to read when you’re busy, and even tougher to read when you are distracted. These apps take the distraction out of reading and speed up the process using 2 types of speed reading techniques:
Guided Reading highlights the words at the speed you choose while dimming out the rest.
Spritz has a bookmarklet that allows you to select any article online and set the speed at which you want to read it.
The Outread app for iPhone is excellent. It offers both methods of speed reading and you can sync it with save-for-later reading apps like Pocket. Which brings us to...
Fiverr is an incredible marketplace that allows you to get almost anything done for just $5. If you can dream it, there is someone willing to do it for $5 on Fiverr. And if your time is worth more than $5 an hour, this will save you literally hours a week.
Here’s a few things Fiverr can help you with:
There are millions of ways to shave hours off your day for just $5. We use Fiverr several times a week and it saves us hours. If you’re new to outsourcing, the best part about Fiverr is it allows you you to dip your toes in risk-free because of the small investment.
I highly encourage you to try Fiverr at least once to see the potential for freeing up hours a week. Start by looking at your tasks you dislike most, and search for someone to do them on Fiverr!
Lastpass is my password saving app. It makes it easy to manage all of my passwords, but the thing I love most is the ability to share passwords without the recipient seeing the actual password. Once they have a Lastpass account they can easily use the shared password. Lastpass also allows you to revoke a password if needed, at the end of a project, etc.
Lastpass can autofill password forms when you want it to. If you have more than one password saved for a site, simply select the password and username you want to use. Lastpass has a great free version and the premium version is only $10/ year.
Buffer is one of my favorite social media tools for finding and sharing content. I love the extremely easy to use interface and the ability to set times I want to share content throughout the day.
One perk of Buffer is their mobile app gives suggestions for content to share based on the content you’re already sharing. It’s a great way to find high quality content to share and discover new content.
If you use chrome for your browser, don’t forget to download the Buffer chrome extension which lets you easily schedule and share any blog post you read.
What about you? What are your favorite productivity tools? Let us know in the comments below.
Featured image "Driving Car" via Splitshire