Saturday, December 27, 2014

My Favorite Blogging Tools

I learned a lot about blogging in 2014. I wanted to be able to replace my job with a blog income by the end of this year, but I was honestly in way over my head. I had no idea what that entailed, but you all know that I believe in magic and fairy tales.

Some magic blogger genie was going to pop out of my computer and grant me three wishes, right?

After a lot of google searches, I discovered a lot this year, found new bloggers who were a fount of information that helped me gain experience and build my blog to what it is today.

Buying a Domain

I spent a lot of my blogging time thinking that buying a domain was expensive, useless, and hard to set up. When I got serious about my blogging, I started researching how to set it up, and was directed to Dana's blog, I Can Build A Blog, where she has a step-by-step process in buying a domain and setting it up in Blogger.

Click here for instruction
I decided to stick with Blogger (as opposed to Wordpress) because it is hosted by Google. There are a lot of pros and cons of sticking with Blogger, but being an inexperienced blogger, I wanted to learn as much as I could about building a blog from scratch through Google. For more information on why I stuck with my choice, see Dana's other post.

Dana knows a lot about building blogs, and explains them in a very concise way. She's great.

Buying a Domain

There are a log to different domain purchasing services out there, but I opted to go through, because Dana had a coupon code (inside the Domain setup link above) for $1.99 for the first year. After the first year, it was about $10. I bought two years, so my cost came to about $12 and some change. That's about $.50/month, which I can find on the floor of my car at any given time. Not expensive in the slightest. 

Designing Images For Your Blog

I've been directed to several different websites for designing graphics for blogs, but what I've discovered that I enjoy working with is Canva. It's got mostly free graphics, and the graphics that aren't free are only about a dollar. I haven't used the graphics that cost money yet, but I can see myself using this when I design book covers in the future. 

How to Build Your Audience

When I started blogging, I'd been commenting on blogs for awhile. It was pretty exciting to be able to put my own blog on all of my comments, and I hoped that I would be able to build an audience from there. I wanted people to comment on my own posts. I did get some comments, but I am still working to build the community that I want MJA to be. I think a lot of it involves focus, which I'm trying harder to focus my blog more toward writing-related topics. 

I have found some sites that explained audience building to me. They've been helpful, and informative. Most of them say you should look toward sponsoring other blogs to help build your own. I've spent last night and this morning using Canva to build Ad Buttons, and request permission to sponsor other blogs through Passionfruit Ads. I offer ads myself, and got my first request the other day. If you look to the right, I have places for ads, and if you want more info on sponsoring MY blog, just click on Sponsor up at the top. 

A 300 x 150 Ad

How to Make Your Blogger Blog Not look like a Blogger Blog

Blogger blogs have a reputation of looking a bit cheap. When I was perusing different design websites, I came across Carrie's blog, who had a whole slew of things you could do to make your blog look professional. I used about all of them, and am impressed with what I was able to do. I'm still learning, of course, but the kind people of the internet are extremely helpful. 

There are a lot of helpful links in that blog, so feel free to share the wealth!

Anytime I find a great resource, I add it to my "Blogging Topics" Pinterest Board. I'm all about Pinterest, and if you'd care to follow me, you can do so here

I hope you've found this helpful. I've even used these tips again for my other blog, Built By Beks, where I'll be writing about my weight loss journey (so you won't be seeing much of that on MJA anymore).


  1. Seems like you have come a long way and done it with minimal costs. Make sure to give yourself a pat on the back for the header graphic you did. Nice!

    1. Thanks! is my new best design friend.

  2. I need to pin this to go back to. I actually help my students make a blog for one of their project. They have to do a campaign for a non-profit organization. It's part of that.

    1. I HIGHLY recommend checking out Dana is so smart, and she explains both Blogger and Wordpress tutorials so well. Same with So many great ideas, so little time.

  3. I've never tried using - thanks for the tip!

    1. No problem! There's also PicMonkey, which I hear has great free features, but I can never get that one to work.