Hey y’all! If you’ve been following the blog this summer you’ve seen that I’ve been writing about How to Start a Teacher Blog and have been helping people through the process of getting started. Over the past couple of weeks I’ve talked to not only brand new teacher bloggers, but also established bloggers who want to grow their brand and following. Because of this, I wanted to drop by today to talk about How to Grow Your Blog in One Simple Step.
For some background...I have noticed that some bloggers that have great content, and are super active on social media, don’t have an email subscription form on their blog. They do SO much work to write amazing content and to direct people to their posts, but then they don’t have an established way to “keep” readers coming back, or to build in a following. On a basic level, every blogger needs at least one way for visitors on their site to give their email address. When you’re just getting started, this can be just a simple email capture form on the side of your blog or at the bottom of posts using Mailchimp, or if you’d like to get more advanced, ConvertKit* (which is what I use).
Now, let’s assume you already have an email form somewhere on your blog. You may be thinking, “Kelsey, literally no one signs up on that thing. Why do I even need it?” Well, to grow your email list you have to start being super intentional, just like we all are when we are teaching. Whether that is creating lead magnets (freebies and such) to send to those in exchange for subscribing, or explicitly asking for email sign-ups in posts, intentionality and consistency will yield results.
This brings me to my “One Simple Step”:
To grow your blog and build your email list, you just need to start asking. Literally, just asking. I did a webinar with ConvertKit recently, and they shared to do this:
Ask anyone you know this question, “I’m working on some new content right now about ___________, would that be something you’d be interested in hearing/learning more about?“
Don’t add any background, or extra explanation–just straight up ask! When they say yes, add them to your email list! If they say no, well, you’re just growing in confidence 🙂 If you can get 10 people today to say yes, and you continue on to try to get 10 each day, you can grow your email list in no time! I did this exact thing, as I felt that my email list growth had become sort of stagnate, and I grew it by 100 people super quickly. Once you start getting “YES” answers from people and are seeing growth, you’ll be even more energized to keep asking!
Your email list is super important in terms of building your blog’s following, and eventually, lead to sales for you–whether it is for TeachersPayTeachers products, or some other product you’re offering. Don’t spend all of your energy on creating great content and social media and neglect, in my opinion, the most important thing in terms of growing your blog: your e-mail list.
So…to practice what I preach…
I’m working on some new content right now about starting and growing your teacher blog, would this be something you’d be interested in learning more about? If so, subscribe below 🙂
Starting a blog is fun, but can also be challenging and for some, scary. I’m here to show you that it is not scary and that anyone can do it! You do not need a ton of time, or tech expertise, to get up and going with an awesome blog in no time. Want to start a blog? It is as easy as this:
Step 1: Find Your “What” (Niche)
Before you start you blog, you have to truly understand your “WHAT”, or your niche, which is your narrowed topic. What are you going to write about? What is going to set you apart? What makes you different and why will people want to read your blog? It is important to understand your niche from day 1 so you can design your blog to meet your goals, and so you can gain readers (the whole reason why you’re blogging!). If potential readers don’t know what to expect from your posts, then they will be less likely to subscribe and follow you.
After deciding what you’re blog’s focus is going to be, you need to set some goals and understand why you want to blog. With anything in life, like learning a new skill or going on a diet, you have to know what target you want to hit so you can build out and around that goal. Are you blogging to make money or direct people to your TeachersPayTeachers store? Or are you blogging to become a thought leader? Do you want blogging to be a hobby while you gain a larger audience on social media platforms? Whatever your end goal is, you need to define it as well as you can. Being as specific as possible will allow you to break your big blog goal up into smaller goals to keep you on track.
You won’t be able to set all of your goals in one sitting, as some you will have to re-visit once you actually write your first posts. However, in my opinion, you should set goals for:
number of times you will post in a week and month on your blog (Blog Goal)
how you will engage on social media such as Pinterest, Instagram, Twitter and Facebook (Traffic Goal)
how you will build an email list and nurture subscribers you get (Email Goal)
how you will monetize and when to try, if this is a goal of yours (Money Goal)
Step 3: Set Up + Design Your Blog
This is the most fun part! After you know your “What” and “Why” it is time to actually get started to put your plans into action!
Decide on a Blog Name: My tip here is to have words that have to do with your niche included in your blog name. Are you going to be blogging about all things related to literacy? Then, you may want “Literacy” in your blog’s name! This is great for SEO (search engine optimization) purposes and helps people looking for “literacy” stuff to see your blog when they search! Think “What will I write about?” and “Can I combine it with something similar, or even make it rhyme?“. For example, a blog name of “Literacy for Littles” rhymes and clearly communicates a niche! Your blog name could also include your actual name if you don’t want to be totally boxed into one niche. There are pros and cons to that I’ll be discussing in an upcoming post!
Host Your Blog*: I wrote an entire post that details3 Reasons Why You Should Have a Self-Hosted Blogwhich explains how self-hosting looks more professional, gives you much more flexibility and control in design and functionality, and you have more advertising options. If you think of your blog as a piece of internet real estate, your host is like your landlord. They have the space to store your blog. If your host is like your landlord, then your house or apartment, is your platform, like WordPress. I am a HUGE proponent of self-hosting from the get-go because it can be a pain to switch later, after you’ve been blogging a while and have grown your brand. Self-hosting allows you to work on SEO (search engine optimization) and install other plugins to help you supercharge your site and actually make things easier on you! I highly recommend Siteground* as your web host. They offer hosting for $3.95/month with a 30 day money back guarantee and have incredible 24/7 support (including an awesome live chat!) if you ever have any questions. If you have questions about self-hosting, feel free to email me or Tweet me!
Get a Domain Name:This is your blog name + .com. If you don’t get a domain name, you will have yourblogname.wordpress.com or yourblogname.blogspot.com after it. For example, if I did not get my domain name of www.kelseynhayes.com, my domain name would be www.kelseynhayes.wordpress.com. I recommend you getting your domain name early on if it is available, especially if you’re going to operate your blog to eventually make money. Again, if you choose Siteground as your host, then you can grab your domain name through them–all in one spot!
Choose Theme + Customize: One you decide on your blog’s name and get a host and domain name, all you have to do is design a beautiful blog! When you go to design your blog, you will choose a “theme” or layout that you like. There are free themes via WordPress and all over the internet, and also paid themes. If you find a theme you like that is paid, I recommend investing that money, because you know you like it and it will require only a little customization (just changing colors, fonts and logos is easy!). When I went searching for a theme, I found blogs that I really liked the look of and I scrolled to the bottom of the blog in the footer. Many blogs have their theme listed. I would then Google the theme to research it a bit more. I started to notice trends, and that a lot of teacher bloggers have themes from Georgia Lou Studios. I ended up going with a theme from them too. I did have to pay for it, but when you pay for themes, it is just a one-time fee. You don’t have to pay monthly to have it on your blog. Once you install theme on your site, you just have to customize colors, fonts and stuff to make it yours! If you are unsure of how to install the theme, Siteground’s* customer service can either do it for you, or walk you through it via their live chat!
Step 4: Do Research
The best blogs, the ones that not only are enjoyable to read, but that gain a large following, are ones that solve problems for readers. Understanding your audience and who your ideal reader is is important for you to make sure you’re delivering content that people will actually read. You can research topics that are doing well for other bloggers, as well as pinpointing what people want to read by:
Joining Facebook groups relevant to your niche
Searching Blogs that have similar niches to yours
Following Hashtags on Twitter that are relevant to your blog topic
Searching Pinterest for Posts That are Relevant to Your Niche
You want to try to identify a “pain point” among your readers, and then solve it in your unique voice! For example, if you’re blogging for middle school teachers, many middle school teachers want to read about classroom management strategy. By blogging about a strategy or giving a tip that they can use, you’re solving a problem for them! If you can solve problems for readers, you will easily gain a following!
If you already have a blog, email subscribers or an Instagram account with a following, you can also ask them what they’d like to read about! Surveys from readers is invaluable information!
Step 5: Make Time
Just because you have a beautiful blog and awesome ideas, doesn’t mean your blog will gain traction and get readership. You have to put the time into building it. I know that as a teacher, you are incredibly busy. As a parent, you are incredibly busy. As a mom or dad to fur babies, you are incredibly busy. If you can block out even 30 minutes a day to focus on your blog, that time adds up! In 30 minutes a day you can work on a blog post, engage on social media, answer emails from subscribers and do topic research! You have 30 minutes a day in your schedule somewhere. If you can identify 30 minutes that you can sit down each day, you will be building your blog’s brand in no time.
Step 6/7/8: Create Content, Get Traffic, Build Community!
So you have pinpointed a niche, have set goals for yourself, have a blog set-up and understand a bit of what readers want…then WRITE! Building up your bank of content is really important when you first start a blog so when you work to get people to your blog, they have posts to read! When I first started, I had so many “draft” posts because as I would think of a post idea I’d write a title down to come back to later. Whether your content creation is more sporadic and spontaneous (how mine was) or methodically thought out ahead of time, just WRITE! You will find a groove and systems that work for you. Also, side note to that point, remember, don’t let the perfect be the enemy of the good. Yes, you want quality content, but it doesn’t have to be PERFECT for you to hit publish! You can always go back and tweak things, so just. hit. post. 🙂 If you’re having trouble staying consistent with your posting when you first start out, I recommend thinking of a series to write that you will publish weekly. Even a 5 post series means you’re posting once a week for at least a month!
In terms of getting traffic to your blog, it takes work. You will not be a huge success over night. You will have some posts that do awesome and others not so well, so having a solid game plan in terms of being consistent in sharing your content is necessary. You could get lucky and have a post go viral but that model is not sustainable, so have a plan. Unless you are a lover of social media, I would say pick 2 platforms to really focus on and do those very well. Instagram and Twitter are my 2 favorites. I also have a Pinterest page, but I don’t count that as I’m not really “engaging” with others. Once you pick your 2 platforms, make sure you’re engaging with users. No one likes someone who just drops their links. Building community is essential to really gain loyal readers, and to build community you have to have conversations! Like, share and comment on other people’s posts. Be consistent! If you create community, are consistent in sharing your posts on social media, you will get page views, I promise.
I wrote recently about Why You Should Start a Teacher Blog This Summer and that post has sparked some questions from some of you regarding how to get started. If you’re convinced you want to start a teacher blog already, you must do this first: figure out your “What”. In the blogging world, this is usually called your niche.
Once you figure out what your blog’s topic is, you can get rolling in a way that is focused, and easily comes through to your future readers! You could start a blog and figure out your purpose as you go, however, you will most likely get frustrated, and have few page views as your readers won’t know what to expect from your blog!
It is important to know your “what” (or niche) from day one because you want to make sure that as you’re setting up your blog, you’re designing it to reflect your goals. Having your niche in mind as you’re getting started makes sure your posts reflect your goals from the get go so you can gain momentum from day one in the blogging world.
Blogging is fun, enlightening, an outlet, creative, social, and many other positive things, but at times it is also hard. Understanding your niche early on will help you stay focused so you can reach your goals. It may take a little while to totally flesh out your ideas/focus, and it may even change as you begin your blogging journey (mine did!), but understanding your niche from the beginning helps set you up for success on day one.
Finding Your “What”
So, how do you find your “what”, or your niche? Stick to what you know and your passions. I’ve told so many people to start a blog and many always say back to me, “Kelsey, I don’t have anything to say!” or “I don’t have any ideas that aren’t already out there!” And that just isn’t true! There are no other yous in the world which means your perspective is different and you need to tell your story! Your passion is going to determine your blog’s general topic. Since you found my blog, your topic is probably “teaching” or “education” but you’ll need to narrow it down from there.
Once you decide what your blog topic is going to be about, “teaching”, “kindergarten”, etc., You’re probably feeling like you’re ready to get started! But wait, there are a lot of blogs about teaching and kindergarten. Blogging about teaching is so broad, that it will be hard to pinpoint an ideal reader, who will come to your blog and know what to expect from you and want to keep coming back!
There is a FREEBIE at the bottom of this post that can help you think through some questions in order to determine your topic and narrow it even further into a niche. Grab it and you can use it as a worksheet to help you in your planning!
How Your Blog is Different
No matter the niche you choose, yes, there are others out there that have started a blog on that topic, or with that narrow focus. However, not everyone has explored everything of every niche, and no one else has YOUR personality and voice!
I started “A Blog for Middle School Teachers” because I felt that there weren’t enough resources readily available for middle school teachers, or enough prominent voices out in blog land to represent teachers in middle grades. Search Pinterest for any of the elementary grades and countless things come up, but search “middle school” and options are limited. That is why I chose to have a blog “for middle school teachers” where I write about topics like behavior management, and I try to offer practical advice. My topic is teaching, my narrowed focus is middle school and I have narrowed it even further writing about behavior management related topics (with a little bit of other “stuff” in between).
My blog niche has also shifted some as I’ve realized that a passion of mine is to help people start blogs but that there isn’t much information online geared toward teachers starting blogs. I’m now not only writing about “stuff for middle school teachers” but also writing about how all teachers can start blogs, which is a passion of mine.
If your niche ends up changing, that. is. okay. But, as I said above, trying to pinpoint it now will set you up for future success instead of getting started and jumping from niche to niche as you go.
If you’re reading this and already have an established blog but realize your”niche” maybe needs a little bit of work, get some feedback from things at your disposal: your readers and your blog’s stats. You can ask your readers in a post, on social media, or through a survey what types of posts they want to see. You should also view your existing posts and see what has “popped”. Have your posts about literacy (classroom library, literature circles, etc.) all been your most read? Then you may be on to something in terms of identifying a narrowed focus!
Ready to get started? Grab the freebie at the bottom of this post and complete the activities. It will help you pinpoint a niche!
Until next time,
p.s. Also, my friend Suzi wrote an ebook called “Blog by Number” that details the exact steps you can take to set up your WordPress blog. I followed her steps exactly and it has inspired me to write my own ebook about starting a teacher blog! While some of the tips Suzi offers are geared toward mom bloggers, like her, she has amazing info (and worksheets!) you can follow to start + grow your blog. To grab it, purchase here. *Affiliate link
Hey, y’all! I’m back at the blog today to share a little bit about getting started with your own teacher blog! You can read in a previous post Why You Should Start a Teacher Blog This Summer, but if you’re already convinced to start one, let’s talk about how to get it rolling. (Side note: Have you joined our email community yet? Receive “Start a Blog” tips straight to your inbox by signing up at the bottom of this page! You’ll receive a FREEBIE for just signing up!)
After you decide on your “why” for blogging and set your initial goals, you need to grab a domain name and actually start your blog (the REALLY fun part!).
Figuring out where to start your blog can be confusing and complicated, only because there is so. much. information. online about starting a blog. The first thing you need to decide is if you want to have a self-hosted blog.
In my opinion, if you’re looking to leverage your blog as a business (by driving traffic to a Teachers Pay Teachers store or selling products) or to craft your professional image (grow your personal brand, share your thoughts on pedagogy and classroom tips), you should have a self-hosted blog versus one that is on a free platform. A self-hosted blog is one that is hosted on your own server. However, most people pay a 3rd party, like Siteground, Bluehost or iPage, to host it for them. An analogy I’ve seen to put it more simply is, think of the web hosting company like a landlord who rents digital space, WordPress as your house and your domain name as your address.
You Should have a Self-Hosted Blog because:
It looks more professional: If you don’t get a self-hosted blog, then your blog URL will be listed with the free platform’s name as a part of your URL. For example, if I used Blogger, my blog’s name would initially be www.kelseynhayes.blogspot.com. With your self-hosted blog, it is just www.kelseynhayes.com. You can use a free platform, like Blogger or WordPress, and purchase a domain name to get rid of the “.blogspot.com”, but then you’re still spending money and incurring start-up costs without the benefits of having a self-hosted blog. If you start your self-hosted blog with *Siteground*, which is the service I use and highly recommend, the start up cost is $3.95/month and with a 30 day money back guarantee!
You have much more flexibility and control: When you use WordPress with your self-hosted blog, you are able to download plugins to help you make your site look and run how you want. With Blogger, a free WordPress and any other free site (not self-hosted) you don’t have these plugins at your disposal. With a self-hosted blog you have full control over your blog’s layout, how it functions, SEO, etc. With free sites, you are limited in this aspect. Again, if you’re looking to view your blog as a business, then having total control over your blog from day one is crucial, because if your business grows and you decide to switch later on, it is a bit of a pain and requires some extra work.
You have more advertising options: If you’re going to use ads as a way to monetize your blog, free platforms limit your advertising options which makes it more difficult to monetize in this way. Again, with a self-hosted blog, you have total control on how your site looks and what you add to it, so you have unlimited options in terms of advertising on your site.
Ready to get started with your self-hosted blog? You can get started with *Siteground* in as few as a couple clicks. I highly recommend Siteground compared to other hosting companies because of 5 reasons: their support team, the cost, the 30-day money back guarantee (this was the kicker for me when I got started!), their migration services, and my personal experience.
Support Team: Their support team is the. bomb. (Do people still say that?) I was originally intimidated to have a self-hosted blog because I didn’t think I knew enough about the “tech” stuff to really manage it. This is also something I hear a lot from new bloggers. I was so wrong in having that assumption! For any question you may have you can either call or Live Chat their support team. Their support team is available 24/7 and are very prompt (in my experience have been on the line within 1 minute). For any questions I have personally asked, they have either found the answer, or asked questions to get more info and have found me a tutorial for how to do what I was asking about. Siteground’s support team is how I moved my blog from Blogger to WordPress/Siteground seamlessly!
The Cost: The cost to get started is $3.95/month! That is it! If you’re starting without a previous domain name, your domain name is included (if it’s available for purchase). If you already own a domain name you can either just point the domain to your new account at *Siteground* (which support will help you do) or you can switch it over to Siteground altogether. If you choose to move your domain name to Siteground, you will have to purchase the domain name again for $14.95, but you will get the time left on your other subscription plus an entire year included for that price!
Money Back Guarantee: You have nothing to lose! Not happy with their service, or change your mind about blogging? You have a 30 day money back guarantee!
Migration: If you already have a blog on a free site (like I did…I SO wish I would’ve originally started on a self-hosted site but that is another post) they have website migration services (free!). If the blog you have isn’t very large and you think you can do it yourself, there is a very simple process to download your current site (from Blogger, for example) and upload it on WordPress (I did this!)
My Personal Experience: Like I said above, when I switched from Blogger to *Siteground*, I had no experience with WordPress or with self-hosting. However, because of the support provided by Siteground and the capabilities provided by WordPress plugins I now have available, I feel like my site is better and easier to manage. I get more “bang for my buck”, if you will.
Whether you’re ready to start a teacher blog or you’re researching to see if you should switch your current blog to be self-hosted, I hope you found this post helpful! If you have any questions, please reach out to me in the comments or through Twitter!
Disclosure: This post contains affiliate links from Siteground. This means that if you click one of the product links and make a purchase, I will receive a commission. Although this post contains affiliate links, all opinions and experiences are my own.
I wanted to post today to talk about something that I feel like I’ve been talking about with other teachers a lot lately, and that is: Why You Should Start a Teacher Blog This Summer.
For most of the teachers I’ve talked to on this topic, most have said that it has been on their “list” for quite some time but they either shy away from it because they aren’t “techy” and are unsure of how to get started, or they don’t have time. I had those same doubts when I first started, too, but now realize how I was just holding myself back!
You should start a teacher blog this Summer because:
1.You will Connect and Network with Other Educators and Ultimately, Expand Your #TeacherTribe!
I started blogging a little over a year ago and blogging has enabled me to network and engage with other inspiring educators I never would have met otherwise through the awesome teacher blogger + TpT Seller networks I’ve plugged into. Through social media and searching other teacher blogs for design inspiration for my own blog, I’ve reached out and connected with teachers who have motivated and inspired me along this journey. These people have ultimately become a little part of my PLN (professional learning network) and I haven’t even met them face to face! I’ve found this teacher-blogger community is so positive and encouraging, that my #teachertribe has definitely expanded for the better.
2. You Can Share Your Voice on Topics that are Important to You
Another reason why you should start a blog this summer is so you can share your unique voice. Another thing that teachers say to me is, “I don’t know what I’d write about that would be different!” There is no other you in the world, so whatever you write WOULD be different! It may take a bit to decide on your niche and find your unique voice, but your perspective is worth sharing with the world! For those who want to be a cheerleader of others and share tips, tricks and encouragement (like me!) then do that! For those who want to share their policy perspectives and comment on the state of education in politics…those conversations are happening anyway so an educators voice is needed! Whatever your unique voice would be, you should share it!
3. You Have Time to Blog.
“But, Kelsey…I don’t have time to blog!” I know you’re thinking it. What did you do this weekend? Binge watch House of Cards? Scroll on social media or Pinterest for hours? You can fit in a few minutes a day to focus on your blog! I’m not saying binge watching isn’t needed sometimes (self-care is TOTALLY needed!) but if you prioritize even 20 minutes a day or every few days, those minutes add up!
There are thousands of bloggers around the world who have children and other jobs, you just have to find a blogging schedule that works for you!
4. Blogging Gives You a Project or Creative Outlet
If you’re like me, you enjoy projects, creating, and working towards a finished product or end goal. Not only did I want to learn a new skill (graphic design stuff + coding), I wanted the satisfaction of working toward something as a hobby. Even though I blog about my “job”, blogging still has been something I look forward to and get excited to continue to build.
5. It Will Help You Become Better at Your Job
Okay, this one sounds extreme. Designing a blog and writing a blog post won’t necessarily change how you execute lessons in your classroom without effort and planning, but reading other blogs and planning for your own pieces will help you not become complacent. Through blogging I have connected on social media with other teachers in an effort to drive traffic to my own blog. Through this, however, I have seriously met some awesome educators like I described in #1! I have gotten so many ideas, and gained inspiration and motivation from others who are in the trenches just like me every day. From seeing how some visualize a classroom space, to reading about getting real with students to seeing how some execute engaging lessons, I have become better at my job because of blogging.
6. You Can Make Money
You should NOT only start a blog to make money, as if that is your only goal you will probably not be too successful at it. However, once you start blogging and realize you’ll stick with it, you can make money at it! Through ad space on your blog, doing sponsored posts, affiliate links or just driving people to a Teachers Pay Teachers store, a blog can help you supplement your own income while also doing something you enjoy. Have a favorite blogger out there in blog land? I bet they are making money!
Convinced and ready to get started? Get started with Siteground *(affiliate link) and WordPress!
Want a FREE RESOURCE to get started? Join the community here! Please reach out if you have any questions by commenting, emailing or Tweeting me!
I cannot believe it has been 1 whole year since I first started this blogging journey. I originally started this blog as a creative outlet, a way to share some tips I’ve learned along the way as a teacher, as well as share some awesome resources I’ve come across. If you asked me a year ago about where I’d think I’d be a year out from starting my blog, my answer would not have been anywhere near what has happened!
Blogging has not only been a creative outlet for me, or a side hobby, but it has connected me to other really passionate educators who are doing awesome things in their classrooms. I’ve been able to gain great ideas, network and learn about opportunities I never would have heard of if it wasn’t for this inspiring community. Because of all of this, the the purpose for this blog has changed a little bit for me, and has become even more clear in the past few weeks.
Lately, I’ve been lucky enough to start talking to others in my district about starting their own teaching blogs and sharing their voice. As a result of this, everything I’ve tried (successful and not so successful) with blogging has come flooding back to me. I learned all about how to start my own blog through Googling (a LOT of Googling) and through just getting started and figuring it out as I went. I’ve loved this blogging community so much that now I want to share what I’ve learned!
When I first started, I literally Googled “How to Start a Teacher” blog for nothing to come up. I varied that search some and could only find links here and there where a teacher maybe wrote about something very specific in terms of customizing a blog, but there never was a “one-stop shop” place with advice. Yes, there are TONS of resources online (especially on Pinterest) about how to start a blog and market it, but the majority of the information is geared towards businesses who happen to blog. Let’s face it, teachers and teaching blogs are just different! It has led to me wanting to be very intentional and specific in how I share everything I’ve learned!
Every teacher has a story, a unique point of view, and has something to offer to the larger education community. Whether you have some awesome strategies to share that can help out new (or all!) teachers, you want to market your Teachers Pay Teachers products or are just looking to start a project, you should start YOUR teacher blog!
To start off, I’ve created an overview infographic of “How to Start a Teacher Blog”. If you want to grab it (it’s FREE!) , sign up here and you will receive it to your email as soon as you confirm your email. I’m currently building much more content along these lines to build upon the info in this graphic and to go even more into specifics. Join Our Community!
Also, my friend, Suzi, created an ebook about starting a blog that has helped me a lot as I’ve grown my blog. My ebook is not finished yet, so you should grab hers here!
Questions? Reach out to me in the comments, or on social media! I’m current loving Instagram. 🙂