Running an online business from home
Building a creative business online is one of the best decisions I have made. There are many options to make a living now days and the world of online is definitely one of them. It is undeniable that technology is powerful and offers different ways to establish yourself business wise in whatever area is exciting for you. Like many other women, I needed to figure out a way to earn from home when I became a full time mum. I needed a job which was time flexible, sustainable and which I actually enjoyed. Passion for what you do is really important if you want to see yourself do the job long term.
Creativity, art and design were always ‘my thing’ and so I began researching different options. What I found out were beautiful women-mums running successful businesses online. Women who built supportive communities, made connections and even friendships – all from their home. And what more – they were willing to share their experience and teach others to achieve the same. I dived into the world of blogging and it was one of the bravest leaps I’ve made! The world of unknown, only my dreams, talents and willingness to make a disciplined effort to offer. I haven’t looked back since!
The first mum I discovered was Suzi Whitford. She guided me through the beginnings of setting up my own website and taught me simple monetizing strategies which are always good to keep in mind from the very beginning. I made a deal with myself that I will slowly build myself up as a designer, while trying something on the side for financial support. After my website was ready, I started focusing on learning and growth as an artist and I completed two incredibly comprehensive courses which literally enabled me to build a new career – Pattern Design Immersion Course by Bonnie Christine and Making Art Work by Emily Jeffords. Thanks to these two women I became a designer withouot ever entering an official design school. In the mean time, I also supported myself financially as a Pinterest Marketing Manager thanks to the outstanding course by Anastasia Gutnikova – Pinterest SEO Traffic Secrets. Thanks to Anastasia I learned the power of Pinterest which has been the one most reliable source of my website traffic – the visual search engine is a perfect match for any online creative! Anastasia’s support has been phenomenal. All these three women support their students not only after the course enrollment (aka the sale!) but from the enrollment on! They are always up to date and profoundly inspiring!
(This page may contain affiliate links. To learn more please read the disclaimer on the Terms & Conditons page).
BUILD YOUR OWN CREATIVE CAREER ONLINE
Here is what you need to achieve it!
Firstly, let me point out that there is a difference between wordpress.com and self hosted wordpress.org.
The key difference between the two is without a doubt the amount of control you have over your blog built on these platforms. If you build your website on simple and free* (*however, if you afterwards want to remove the platform name from your domain you may need to subscribe to a paid plan anyway) websites such as WordPress.com or WIX.com, you can choose from a variety of setup themes to use, your content will also be hosted.
However, if you prefer to create a more professional website I’d definitely recommend investing in WordPress.org. The thing is, self hosted site offers so many more options! At first I thought to myself hm, a simple website will do. I wasn’t aware of all the options there are to make your blog look stunning. I was mainly considering the cost and I couldn’t see myself needing any of the fancy functions (plugins) or layouts. THANKFULLY, before building my website I did further research and decided to do what most experienced bloggers were recommending – choose WordPress.org and purchase Siteground hosting plan separetely.
The thing is, as your knowledge grows as a blogger and you learn more about amazing things other people do on their websites, the more you grow to appreciate WordPress.org. There are many different functions to add, different layouts to display your content which are much easier to tailor to your needs if you have more control over your site. There are also many ways to monetize your blog if you choose to, bloggers like Michelle, Suzi or Carly mentioned in this post all use WordPress.org and make a living from their blogs.
There are also other ‘behind the scenes’ reasons for choosing a self hosted site. Quality really matters if you want to rank well on Google (in other words if you want Google to see your website as good quality and prioritize it for Google users among other search results), adding functions to your site helps you to create high quality content which again displays better in search engines (fyi, this process is called SEO). What is the point of creating an amazing website if Google won’t bring it up in the search?
Lastly, not sure if this counts in your circumstances but it absolutely did in mine! When my little toddler poured his drink onto my laptop (yes, this was the very end of my beloved MacBook *sobbing loudly*), for several weeks I had to rely on WordPress app. I was so relieved to find out that the mobile version of my site allowed me to run it as I would from my desktop! May seem like nothing but if you build your website in WIX.com, you won’t have this option! The admin mode of your website will only be displayed properly as a desktop version, never mind doing some work on it.
So to recap, simple (and apparently free) site building platforms such as WIX.com or WordPress.com are great for simple blogs where you don’t need to add anthing very fancy and you prefer them to host your website for you. For professional bloggers or anyone planning to monetize a website or add different plugins (functions) I absolutely recommend WordPress.org.
Siteground is a company offering website hosting for self hosted sites. Remember that I mentioned above the WordPress.org site being self hosted? This is it. When you build your blog in WordPress.org, you need to take care of your own hosting, that is to rent a space on network to store all your website data. Siteground is a winner for me on this. This is a second year of them hosting my company and their support has been amazing! They are reliable, ready 24/7 on the chat to help you with any technical issues, billing queries or general advice. I’ve managed to create several problems by messing with coding in my site editor but thanks to their backup I was able to restore all my content in no time.
There are two companies widely recommended by bloggers (and both officially recommended by WordPress) and these are Siteground and Bluehost. I’ve watched different videos (for example by Travis Marziani) to determine which one is better, it seems that both platforms are quite easy to use, the prices fluctuate but seem quite close and they are both run WordPress sites very well. However, Siteground seems to be slightly more capable in regards to security and speed, which are really important. And it won me over!
Flodesk is an amazing email marketing provider which I eventually decided to use after trying Mailchimp and Convertkit. When I began the blogging journey it soon became apparent that one of the most efficient ways to monetize your website is growing an email list. Why? Because your subscribers are an audience who filtered themselves out of all visitors to those who are really interested in your content. And of course – gathered to one place aka your email list – they are the easiest audience to reach if you have anything beautiful to offer. I will be honest, I am not a fan of emails. Writing emails, receiving emails, mailbox flooded with daily emails about things I don’t actually need to know about, emails that feel like a sale trap. I really wasn’t particularly keen to do the same to my visitors. However, it is also true that when your audience enjoys your work and when you know you work hard to provide quality content, they WANT TO hear about it! There are several creatives that pop into my inbox who’s emails are always welcome – and they all use Flodesk! So why not set up a pop-up box or subscribers form, to welcome and appreciate your own audience that took time to show interest to hear from you.
The moment received my first subscriber I felt so honoured! However, I wasn’t happy with the service Mailchimp provided. Firstly – the customer service is really not very efficient. Second issue I had was the actual user experience, I found orientation around the platform confusing. Third issue were codes which you need to insert on your site for certain forms to work. They don’t! And again – you get back to the poor customer service and nobody responding to your technical issues. You will very soon find yourself searching YouTube videos to find the answer yourself. The plus would be the fact that up to 1000 subscribers Mailchimp is for free.
However, the difficulties outweighed the benefits and I migrated to very much recommended Convertkit. They are a decent email marketing provider I must say. The platform is quite easy to follow, the sequences are seamless. But I found the price of $29/monthly (up to 100 subscribers only!) too high, especially if you’re just starting out compare to the $19/month plan you can get with Flodesk! The customer service used to be more efficient, now it takes hours or even a day for a chat agent to respond. Most importantly – I found the visual side of Convertkit emails really boring. Of yourse, you can insert images, make a few adjustments, initially I found it sufficient. But that was only until I saw the Flodesk templates! The sophisticated look, classy layout, I mean… do I need to say more?
All templates are beautifully compatible with desktop and mobile devices, they look chic and absolutely divine especially for female entrepreneurs. The pop-up forms and automations are very easy to set up and also the migration from another email provides is very simple. Overall – I am really happy I switched to Flodesk and they are my final recommendation – you can get your own plan of only $19 per month HERE! I like to receive beautiful emails with quality content and I want my own subscribers to have the same experience!
Here is where we talk Illustrator, Photoshop and InDesign, all of which I use for my work. If you’re serious about design and would like to build professional creative business you will probably find yourself wondering about the rental plans for Adobe Creative Cloud Programmes. If you need to create surface pattern designs for products, mockups or publications, Adobe is definitely the place to go.
There are also different platforms such as Skillshare and CreativeLive mentioned in this post, or even Udemy where you can take classes online about how to use these programmes depending on your area of focus.
To put it very simply Genesis Framework is a structure which you use to accommodate other themes (referred to as ‘child themes’). It allows you to create beautiful website without knowing any codes, it also makes the WordPress easier to use for SEO (search engine optimisation). Let’s say WordPress.org is your foundation for building a website, Theme is like ‘clothing’ which goes over it to give you chosen functions and layout which you then work in to build your content. However, if you choose fancier, customisable, mobile responsive child theme you will need the Genesis Framework as a form of structure applied in between the WordPress.org and your chosen child theme. Something like this:
WordPress.org ——- Theme
WordPress.org ——- Genesis Framework (theme) ——- Child Theme
StudioPress offers both – Genesis Framework and gorgeous Themes that you can purchase to make your blog beautiful and give it all needed functions. This of course counts for user’s experience and that also counts for ranking well on Google. And this takes you back to Siteground which makes sure that the layout and functions upload quickly and properly 24/7. Again – that is a plus for doing well in Google search!
Can you see how it all links together nicely? Blogging is FUN!!
In the past I used WordPress Themes on pipdig.com (they also have a ton of useful information on building a blog or migrating between website building platforms on their site, you may find it very useful if you’re at the beginning!) but eventually I progressed to purchasing a Genesis Framework and Refined Theme developed by Restored316. So far I am so happy with this theme, it was a great investment. I love the layout and the options it gives me to customise in my own taste! Also, I have to say that the support by Restored316 has been amazing, they offer tutorials on their home site on how to set up all themes which are very easy to follow even for beginners!
I love the tagline of Canva – Empowering the world to design! Because that is exactly what this tool does. Canva is a free designing platform where you can create different kinds of visual content from Posters and Banners to Social Media Posts, to cards, to headers or covers. AND you can of course create Pinterest graphics and infographics which is how I found Canva in the first place.
There are three amazing facts about Canva – firstly, it’s FREE! Unless you upgrade you can use it completely free of charge. Secondly, all templates are designed in the size needed so you don’t have to struggle adjusting any formats and sizing. You can just choose the template according to it’s purpose. Yay! Lastly, it’s very simple to use. We are not talking any Photoshop here, Canva is simple and user friendly, no special training needed.
Although, speaking of training, there is a new feature in Canva which I think is definitely worth mentioning – a Design School! Here you can learn how to use Canva itself and how to further work with the designs you create!
PicMonkey is very similar to Canva and has recently become my favourite! It is another online tool where you can create beautiful images for your printables, email optins, digital products or Pinterest. You can design all kinds of banners, cover photos, Pinterest graphics or even logos! It allows some extra features such as removing background which FREE Canva plan doesn’t offer.
I find PicMonkey giving me more control over what I want to do. I have the PRO plan and one of the features I find particularly useful is ability to upload your own font. It compliments beautifully my Pin Design Services where I need to be able to handle branding requests by individual clients! PicMonkey also offers pre-made templates which are more artistic and professionally styled into moodboard graphics, than templates by Canva – genius for designers!
Bonnie Christine Surface Pattern Design course
Bonnie Christine was one of my best finds! Her Immersion Course is a gem for any self taught designers such as myself. Before I discovered her work I was worried about having a degree in subject completely alien to design. I thought you cannot be a designer unless you studied the subject. After virtually meeting Bonnie my perspective shifted 360 degrees. Not only is her lifestyle, mindset and work incredibly inspiring, she’s also an excellent teacher.
Her course became the key foundation for my surface pattern design work. If you’re not quite ready to make a big investment you can get a taste of her classes via SkillShare mentioned in this post!
I cannot recommend Skillshare enough! Skillshare is a learning platform with online classes taught by the world’s best practitioners. Finding this website helped me incredibly in many ways, not only because I need to bypass the fact that I don’t hold a design related degree, but also because I am a stay at home mum and attending art or design classes in person is impossible. Skillshare offers many different classes from design, to painting, to sewing to running a creative business online.
You can find genius creative women on SkillShare – Bonnie Christine to Karina Eibatova to Laurianne Gonzalez or Tiffany Wong! All my favourites teaching a range of vital creative knowledge for aspiring designers.
Plus! Although you do need a monthly subscription, Skillshare offers 60-day FREE trial period which is a generous amount of time to find out if you enjoy this website or not!
(This page may contain affiliate links. To learn more please read the disclaimer on the Terms & Conditons page).
MAKING MONEY ONLINE
Making Sense of Affiliate Marketing course
Michelle is one of the most impressive bloggers I have come across. Without having the possibility to learn from her success I would have never believed that her blogging achievements were even possible! With background in finance, Michelle started blogging to keep a track of ways to reduce her student debt. Without even planning she managed to turn her blog makingsenseofcents.com into a 100k+ a month online business, blogging about her lifestyle, money saving tips and also teaching other bloggers how to start a blog and monetize it.
Put frankly, Michelle is simply amazing at what she does! She has been featured on many different websites and won several awards. Inspired by her incredible success I took her amazing course Making Sense of Affiliate Marketing. In my opinion it’s the most comprehensive and equipping course about affiliate marketing currently available. If you want to learn how to monetize your website with legitimate powerful strategies check the course out by clicking the image bellow!
(This page may contain affiliate links. To learn more please read the disclaimer on the Terms & Conditons page).
Teachable is wonderful and widely popular platform for anyone wishing to create and sell courses online. It is very straight forward and easy to use, you can also easily navigate your potential students from your website to the Teachable sales page. Teachable handles all transactions on your behalf for a small fee. Teachable doesn’t have an inventory of courses to be browsed by students (unlike Udemy), what it offers is a platform to build your course and promote it yourself. Many bloggers refer to their course from their blog or Pinterest Pin image. You also have more control over your course price on Teachable (unlike on Udemy where the platform owners may put your course on sale).
Completing different courses online I have also noticed an alternative course creating platform called Thinkific. Personally, I have only created a course in Teachable, but you may prefer to have more options, so this is me brainstorming with you 🙂
Pinterest Pinterest Pinterest! This visual searche engine has been my loyal companion since before I can remember. I initially used to use it to save interesting ideas and inspiration. Later I took a few courses to learn how to use it to grow my creative business and I was even able to support myself financially as a Pinterest Marketing Manager for other creatives while growing my own creative career! Pinterest is incredibly powerful and unline other search engines or social media – the content you share on there won’t be gone in a month. It MATURES WITH TIME, driving continuous interest to your content. The more you share the more you can receive traffic for. Pinterest is growing and evolving every week and it’s becoming increasingly popular among online entrepereneurs and creatives! Here are some amazing courses I took to achieve success with Pinterest!
Pinterest SEO Traffic Secrets course
Pinterest SEO Traffic Secrets is a course run by Anastasia at anastasiablogger.com. Just visit her site and you will quickly realise from her content that she is very good at what she does. She knows Pinterest inside and out and to help us gain the same knowledge she created courses on how to be successful at Pinterest Marketing and how to use the scheduling tool Tailwind.
Anastasia blogs regularly, has a very active and well managed facebook group for her students, she makes tons of useful videos on her YouTube channel and pops over to the inbox every time there is an important update to let you know of in regards to the Pinterest. One of her amazing tools is the Pinterest Trends checklist for 2020 where she prepares all trending topics to focus on throughout the year, based on Pinterest Trends Report and also the latest best pinning strategies. Choosing Pinterest Trends relevant to your content and taking advantage of seasonal interest peaks will help you market your work better and also generate great traffic, boosting your income.
Anastasia is simply amazing and she currently makes $25000+/monthly with her blog, using FREE Pinterest traffic to increase pageviews and sales! Her Pinterest SEO Traffic Secrets course can teach you how to achieve the same! I have taken multiple Pinterest specific courses but it is Anastasia’s I recommend. It is very affordable, constantly updated as you get the lifetime access and the support is amazing!
“Tailwind is the smartest way to manage your presence across the visual web (Pinterest & Instagram), and offers a complete suite of marketing tools including Smart Scheduling, Analytics & Monitoring, Content Discovery, Promotion, Education, Tribes, Hashtag Suggestions and more. “
I couldn’t have said it better myself! Tailwind is basically a platform which helps you schedule and display (‘to pin’ in Pinterest language) visual content on visual platforms. This is important because on platforms such as Instagram or Pinterest consistency is key. However, it is also very time consuming. Tailwind is a tool which allows you to schedule visual content to pin automatically at pre-set times, without you having to do it manually. You still can, of course, if you prefer. However, if you have other things to focus on – you need to make your products, run a course with your students, write blog posts or ebooks, or just… live, you can use Tailwind to help you and do the pinning for you.
Tailwind is also the one scheduling tool officially approved by Pinterest which I use for clients who need Pinterest VA services. You need to subscribe to be able to use Tailwind (it’s FREE, if you choose to upgrade then $15/month) but the benefits are greater than the monthly subscription cost for sure!
What I really love about Tailwind is the support, I always got my questions answered fast and there are also very resourceful FREE Pinterest Video Courses available on Tailwind, together with a free Pinterest Strategy 101 webinar and free Tailwind video guides to show you all features step by step!
How to create a mood board by Gudy Herder
This may not seem very relevant to Pinterest at first but it actually absolutely is if you are serious about improving your designing skills on a professional level! If you think of the very core aim of Pinterest algorithm – using boards to tell a story of your brand and inspire your audience – having a professional skill creating visual collages (mood boards) is in fact extremelly useful!
“Gudy Herder is an international trend consultant, keynote speaker, and certified trainer based in Barcelona, Spain.” and from my understanding she is a true professional in design, trends and in creating the structure around creative ideas. She works with brands (sometimes even two years in advance) in developing trendy products and she also runs workshops for aspiring creatives and creative companies. She shares her knowledge and news on her website eclectictrends.com. Her website is a place you need to see, and Gudy is someone you should definitely get to know.
How happy was I to discover that despite most of Gudy’s courses being in Spanish, one was in English!! And one which I’ve been wanting to do for such long time (talking over 15 years here, since my first attempt to create a mood board in my bedroom as a young teenager! Yes, it was shockingly bad.) and never found anybody who’d put together such comprehensive class about structuring your creative idea. AND made is to easily accesible online! Because creating a mood board clearly is what needs to happen if you have a creative idea or an artistic thought, and need to turn them into reality – you need a visual plan. Moving from an inspiring thought to realizing your creative ambition is about defining it, about giving it a context, a story. THAT is makes it come alive! And I had no idea how to do this – remember my background in general nursing and not design?
So how do you express your idea through a visual collage in an inspirational, captivating way? (See, now we’re getting really relevant to Pinterest!) Gudy’s professional and experienced knowledge in creating both tectile and digital mood boards can help you greatly. If you want to enjoy an artistic class for designers with a lot of purpose and key knowledge – HERE. How to create a mood board, by Gudy Herder, all easily completed online!
Get Paid to Pin eBook
Get Paid to Pin eBook is a very helpful guide by Dale at bloggingherway.com. Dale helps female entrepreneurs start money-making blogs and earn more through affiliate marketing and digital products. I am very interested about learning different monetizing features of Pinterest so I jumped at chance to combine both, Pinterest and affiliate marketing, and purchased this book. I’d definitely recommend it to anyone looking to earn extra money without even having a blog!
Pinteresting Strategies eBook
Pinteresting Strategies ebook by Carly at mommyonpurpose.com is a fantastic asset if you want to smartly take advantage of promotional potential of Pinterest! Carly’s updated version teaches you all about her pinning strategy, I was very keen to learn it for both my own blog and for clients who hire me as their virtual assistant. Personally, I find I can never learn enough. But if you’re just looking for an affordable holistic piece that will teach you about Pinterest and how to use it – Carly’s Pinteresting Strategies book may be your best choice.
There is one more thing about Carly which I like a lot and that is her approach to selling. Just like Michelle mentioned bellow, she primarily relies on people recommending her book because of their good experience with it. No hard sales, no pushing her products onto anybody who subscribes. I am one of those who purchased and was happy with it, hence mentioning it here in the Resources section. You can read more about Carly’s products on blogginglikeyoumeanit.com.
PINTEREST COURSES PLANNED – Pinterest Traffic Avalanche by Alex and Lauren, I have been following these Create&Go guys for quite a while now and I really love their down to earth, helpfully direct approach. The second Pinterest course I have my eyes on is the Pingineered for Growth by Kristie Hill. Kristie is a very kind and friendly person and you can tell she really grasps the ‘community spirit’ of Pinterest. I love when people love what they do and just want to share the best of it with others! I haven’t enrolled on these yet but wanted to include them here to give you more options.
Suzi at startamomblog.com
Suzi. I mean… she is practicaly genius at all she does. Genius and extremely generous in her guidance, tips, inspiration and growth. She is just oozing with love for blogging and teaching others to succeed too, and it strikes you instantly. Suzi is a successful blogging mama of three and in terms of blogs I’ve learned the most from her. She was the first I came across when considering starting an online business and thanks to that I’ve been on this exciting journey ever since.
Suzi is very tech saavy, she has very good, thorough teaching approach and breaks different aspects of blogging and monetizing a blog down to digestable portions. She shares her knowledge on multiple platforms, her YouTube Channel is full of FREE resourceful videos. She teaches a ton in her eCourses, particularly in her signature Blog by Number course. If you want to learn about blogging and especially if you’re completely new – head over to Suzi! I am currently completing her ABC to Optins course and I’m really happy with it.
Also, do not miss her lives on her facebook page whether you’re a newbie or a blogging Pro! You will always learn something you didn’t know before, and that’s a promise!