START YOUR ONLINE BUSINESS from home!
Two years ago I decided to start a small business to earn money online. I knew nothing about blogging, never heard the words ‘widget’, ‘plugin’ or even ‘stock images’ before. In fact, English is not my native language so it was a completely new area of certain words that I’ve never come across by then.
But I wasn’t discouraged, I started small. Creativity is something I have always felt drawn to. And I hoped that somehow (with my laptop and wifi) I will manage to research enough materials to blend in the creative online world and hopefully learn enough to sustain my place. And earn money along the way. So I opened a small Instagram shop selling preowned clothing because all my artistic childhood dreams have mostly been around patterns, textures, textiles and mood boards. However, I had nothing to share at first so I just used what I had, together with occassional handmade art created by my mum.
For about three months not very much happened in the shop and we barely had any followers. It got to a point where I thought the whole thing was a naive nonsense. Comparing myself to others I felt like it can never pick up properly and head in a professional direction. I particularly disliked my photography style which, let’s face it, counts a lot when all you have to offer your work are images. But before giving up I read an article about social media marketing (First time I’ve ever heard of it. I know!) and I thought right, let me try this first (or last?).
And I did. I researched marketing, hashtags, I looked into improving my photography and presentation skills, found some interesting and successful blogs and social media accounts to be inspired by. The amount of information I got in was sometimes completely overwhelming and I’d find myself feeling discouraged again, but I decided to continue the journey regardless. A year went on and the shop started to do well. Suddenly I realised that a group of lovely loyal ladies followed my work regularly and began purchasing most of what I posted. I was so grateful for it! Not just the sales but to realise that if you find your vioice and share your work, the right crowd interested in it will find you.
AFTER ABOUT A YEAR
A year of work went by and it felt right to try and escalate my work. I did further research and came across starting a blog. I wasn’t sure where to begin but I learned that having your own website has some serious benefits! You have a full control over what goes on there, how and what you want to share and market, plus you meet many lovely people along the way! My Preowned clothing shop turned into a handmade fashion shop and I started practicing even more creative skills. I chose two main fields to work in – Pattern Design, Art and Handmade, and also Pinterest Marketing Services.
Pinterest Virtual Assistance because I just love Pinterest. It’s been my crutch for such long time! The visual strategy is a feast and it’s incredibly capable as a marketing tool. And of course – Pattern Design, Art and Handmade. So much can be expressed through creative art, patterns and texture!
As somebody self-taught without a degree in design, I had to do quite some research to find all the necessary eBooks, eCourses, websites and blogging tools to set up everything you see here, and to learn the fundamentals of design and art. I love how all can be brought to one place, from todays technology to a variety of creative topics which I love! From design, to textiles and sewing, to calligraphy and embroidery, to making pottery, photographs and videos. Sometimes I feel like a sponge soaking in different skills, techniques and styles. I LOVE to learn.
So let me share some of my findings with you to spare you the reasearch!
These are my tips on the most important resources that I use daily. I hope you find them inspirational and useful in your own creative journey whether you just want to learn and share a skill or earn money online!
You may also want to check out the BOOK CORNER on the page sidebar (scroll down the homepage to the bottom right handside) where I share tips on some amazing books that I loved!
WRITTEN FOR BLOGGERS AND CREATIVES
– HELPFUL TOOLS, PLATFORMS, BOOKS AND COURSES
In this section I am going to mention the main tools and resources I found very helpful on my journey to becoming a Pinterest VA. With the Pinterest platform always evolving I may be adding more to this section as I grow my knowledge.
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. Like myself, she is a Pinterest Marketing Manager and she also created courses on how to be successful at Pinterest Marketing and how to use the scheduling tool Tailwind.
I always try to grow my Pinterest knowledge and gain perspective of different successful bloggers on my favourite topics. Before I purchased Anastasia’s course I was considering another insightful Pinterest VA’s course. But Anastasia’s course won, particularly over much better student support. She really loves her topic and it does come across in the resourceful way she teaches. Good marketing strategy is extremely important for any business, you need to be able to promote your work properly and get in front of your desired audience. Pinterest helps GREATELY with this, even if your traffic numbers are very low. I highly recommend you learn from somebody who truly gets the meaning behind marketing steps on the Pinterest platform and can teach them as well as Anastasia can.
There are a couple of paragraphs from one of Anastasia’s recent emails which very much sum up what I really like about her and her courses. You can see her honesty and realistic view which I think is much better than inflated eye-catching marketing tricks you see some bloggers do to promote their products. Here:
– I’m not a blogger who started 3-4 years ago and has 100,000+ followers on Pinterest, I’m showing you how I’ve grown my first blog from 0 to 170,000 pageviews/mo in 10 months and my second blog from 0 to 74,000/mo pageviews in 2.5 months. The second was easier and faster because I knew exactly WHAT I was doing on Pinterest.
– All I know and teach about Pinterest is very recent information. I’ve seen popular bloggers who have expensive Pinterest courses and their lessons are based on how they have grown their traffic in 2016 or earlier. Pinterest was a completely different place back then!
– I’m not a blogger who claims that I make $50k a month from my blogs. I tell you the real, not-so-fancy numbers and you can find my income reports on my blog. I currently make most of the money with Mediavine ads. My biggest income report was $6132 a month so far.
Become a Pinterest VA course
Become a Pinterest VA is a one-of-a-kind course created by Gina Horkey (horkeyhandbook.com) and Kristin Larsen (believeinabudget.com). If you’re considering monetizing your blog or even starting an online business from scratch, and you love Pinterest then this may be a brilliant option for you. I have come across other Virtual Assistance courses (30 days or less to Virtual Assistance Success also by Gina Horkey, alternativelly courses by Abbey Ashley at thevirtualsaavy.com), however I found the tasks a little too time consuming to commit to with a toddler. You may enjoy online administration more or have more time, these ladies certinly know their stuff and can also teach you to run a successful VA business.
Personlly, I became a Pinterest VA because my roots are in art and design, and because I am very visual. And I just love it!! It gave me chance to do what I genuinely enjoy while being a full time mum. Win win!
“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!
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!
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!
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.
Mailchimp is a great email system ideal for small (and new) bloggers. With up to 2000 subscribers it is FREE to use and it integrates well with other softwares and plugins on your website. You can easily create newsletters or pop-ups with it to grow and maintain your email list.
Why grow your email list? Because you can keep your subscribers updated about your work, make promotional offers and just communicate with them and let them know any exciting information related to your business! Once you progress in your email list growth (Suzi at startamomblog.com shares many useful videos on this topic) you can also migrate to ConvertKit, another great email marketing platform to use, especially for a bigger blog.
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 so I took her eCourse Making Sense of Affiliate Marketing. It is so resourceful that I keep going back to it and gradually implement all her advice. This has been one of the key courses I took in my own blogging journey, I absolutely recommend her! Also, just like with Anastasia mentioned above, the student support is fantastic!
(For more information on virtual assistance Ts&Cs or on affiliate links used throughout this site please read the disclaimer).
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 🙂
Creative and Design
Oksancia is brilliant for anybody who loves textile design, creating patterns and making living from it. I highly recommend her YouTube channel where she explains and teaches all sorts of key aspects of surface pattern design. She also shares tips around her own online business and passive income channels.
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!
Peaceful Cuisine by Ryoya Takashima
Ryoya… Where should I begin. If you’re like me you enjoy observing others who do something really well, and learn how they do it. Ryoya is one of such people. Japanese guy who creates amazingly peaceful videos about his creative vegan lifestyle. It’s enough to just watch his recipes and DIY projects, and be inspired. But because of his large following (and therefore repetitive questions!) he also teaches how to create videos like his, including where to find an amazing background music. Some of his teachings have English subtitles, some do not. But it really doesn’t matter. Check him out, you’ll understand why 🙂
Another amazing guy who’s skill in making videos is justified by the number of his followers. Pete is from Canada, has a successful YouTube Channel and if you’re planning to make videos for your new eCourse on Teachable, or any videos for any digital products, short films, you need to watch some of his stuff. He is incredibly resourceful and gives great advice on how to achieve the best quality video with reasonable equipment.
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 from beautifully poetic Bonnie Christine to Karina Eibatova to Jake Bartlett or Samantha Dion Baker! All my favourites teaching a range of vital creative knowledge for aspiring designers! Do you love Surface Pattern Design? Visit Bonnie or Tiffany Wong! Are you a passionate motion designer? Jack is your man!
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!
Similar to Skillshare, CreativeLive is an amazing online platform where you can watch classes about a variety of topics. Whether you want to learn fundamentals of Art and Design, Music, Photography, Videos, Crafts or Creative Business – CreativeLive is a place to go, plus you can try a FREE trial to see if the classes work for you!
(For more information on virtual assistance Ts&Cs or on affiliate links used throughout this site please read the disclaimer).