how to start a blog






PERFECTING BLOGGING - Sophia's Blogging Strategy (Completely updated for 2024!!)

I created this course to show you everything I have done in the last three years to grow my blog into a website that averages over 500,000 monthly pageviews and earns over 5-figures a month.

It's basically the course I dreamed about taking when I was starting to get serious with my blog. I cover every single detail and show you how you can replicate the same techniques on your own website. From the very basics, to the advanced techniques I use on my blog today, this course covers everything I did and what I continue to do to grow my blog today.

Click here to learn more about Perfecting Blogging. 

PERFECTING PINTEREST- Sophia's Pinterest Strategy (Completely updated for 2024!!)

My most requested course ever...every single thing I do in my Pinterest strategy to get over 500,000 monthly pageviews on my website. 

This is an insanely detailed course going over everything I do on Pinterest from the proper way to set up your account, the secret way I make sure to incorporate SEO into my pins, how I only spend one hour a week on Pinterest, and so much more! I swear by Pinterest and think its the most important thing for bloggers to focus on for getting traffic to your website. This method and strategy changed my blogging life and I know it will skyrocket your blog. 

Click here to learn more about Perfecting Pinterest.

My most micro and in-depth course ever...every single thing I do in my email strategy to manage our 100,000+ email list with exact strategies for our printables, opt-ins, sequences, email automations, tagging system, and more!

I'm showing you how we do everything within our email system. I'm talking EVERYTHING! It took us years to strategize every method within our email platform and multiple times throughout writing this course we would say, "How the heck did we figure this out?!". We have spent months creating this course, breaking down every module into an easy to understand lesson so you know exactly what to do within your own blog for a successful email list. 

Click here to learn more about Perfecting Email.

If you're looking into purchasing both courses, there is also a bundle option for a discounted price! 

Learn more about the Beginner's Blogging Bundle here.

If you're looking into purchasing all three BSL courses, there is also a bundle option for a (huge) discount! 

Learn more about the Ultimate BSL Blogging Bundle here.


This is a list of my all-time favorite products that I would buy a million times again. These are my holy-grail products and things I recommend to everyone.

1. WordPress

My blog is run through a self-hosted WordPress blog and it's the only way I recommend to do it! 

I do not recommend Blogger, Wix, Square Space, etc. Only WordPress! You can find out why I feel so strongly about this on my How To Start A Blog post!

bluehost logo

If you're looking to start a WordPress blog for cheap, Bluehost is the way you do it. When I started my blog, I used Bluehost as my host and paid less than $4 dollars a month. It's rated one of the best hosting companies and I recommend it to all my readers who want to start a blog.

I give you all the details on how to set up your blog with WordPress and Bluehost on this post: How To Start A Blog.

I wouldn't have grown my blog to be making so much money monthly if it wasn't for Bluehost.

17th avenue designs

Eek! I love 17th Avenue Designs! They are who designed my website and they have the best WordPress themes at such good prices.

They have so many options to choose from and I have so many readers who have also used them and have had great experiences.

I paid for them to install my website for me because I was scared I was going to mess something up but you definitely don't have to if you are technology savvy ;).

BTW, my exact theme is called Amelia (actually, as of October 2020, my website is now custom designed but I used the Amelia theme by 17th Avenue for three years before that!).

4. Etsy - For Website Themes

I actually found 17th Avenue Designs (where my theme is from) from looking at WordPress themes on Etsy!

I love Etsy for themes because they have a lot of different price ranges. 


This is the #1 blogging software that I couldn't live without.

Tailwind is a website that can schedule pins to go out on Pinterest. Since one of the largest ways I market my blog posts is through Pinterest, I can focus on other parts of my business while Tailwind takes care of the pinning. 

I would NEVER have time to sit and manually pin those myself everyday so it's awesome to have Pinterest do it for me (it means I only have to be on Pinterest for about 30 minutes a week). 

You can get 100 free pins with this link.

ActiveCampaign is what I currently use to do all my emails.

As my email list has grown, we needed a more intensive email system than ConvertKit (what we were previously using) so we switched to ActiveCampaign. It's similar in price for us but offers sooo much more. The customer service has been incredible and the features it offers are amazing. 

We did a ton of research on the best email providers - we really wanted one that gave us the ability to make our emails look pretty but also have all the features (and more) that ConvertKit had. ActiveCampaign was by far the most recommended and now we know why! We love it so far.

As of 1/18/19, I have 2,351 email subscribers. My goal is to get to 15,000 by the end of the year...we'll see ;). 

^As of 6/30/2020, I have 45,010 email subscribers! wohoo!

^^As of 11/14/2021, I have 100,000 email subscribers :).

7. Thrive Suite - How I Design + Layout My Posts 

I use Thrive Suite to create every single blog post on my website.

If you look at my blog posts, it's easy to see that they are very organized and have more features than the basic WordPress editor allows. This is all because of Thrive Suite (specifically the Thrive Architect tool). With the Thrive Suite license, you can actually get a fully customizable WordPress theme and an entire toolkit of conversion-focused plugins to create your blog which makes it so much easier than having to code your website or keep it super basic looking.

I would HIGHLY recommend checking out their website and watching the video they have that shows you all that it can do - it is awesome.

PS - If you're wondering how I am able to get my Amazon products to look the way they do, this is how :).

8. How I Make Sure My Website is Legal:

It is EXTREMELY important that you are making sure your blog is legal, and I use all of A Self Guru products to do this.

Amira, at A Self Guru, is a lawyer who creates products for bloggers like privacy policies, disclaimers, terms and conditions, and more. She sells them at a very reasonable price and has it set up so that you can make it custom for your own website.

I personally purchased the Legal Bundle and had a private meeting with her to look over my website.

This is the not so fun part of blogging, but it is extremely important.

9. LeadPages

LeadPages is what I use to make all my email opt-ins, pop ups, and landing pages.

This is totally worth it for me because I love everything to look so beautiful on my website and LeadPages has been a huge contributor to me growing my email list to as big as it has become.

10. Deposit Photo

I get all my stock images from Deposit Photo.

I either take my own photos, get permission to use photos, or get my photos from Deposit Photo. It is the cheapest stock photo website with GOOD photos that I have been able to find.  I've been using their images for more than two years now!


I am a HUGE believer in taking blogging courses. I truly believe the only reason I have found success so quickly is because I have enrolled in blogging courses and followed them exactly from the leaders in the blogging world. 

WITH THAT SAID, every course I have bought I have researched, and researched, and researched to make sure I didn't buy any courses that would teach me nothing and end up wasting my money.

These are the courses I have loved and continue to recommend the most in order of when I purchased them.

Making Sense of Affiliate Marketing

This was the first course I ever purchased!!

I think when I first took this course I only had like three posts written. Making Sense of Affiliate Marketing is written by Michelle Schroeder-Gardner who is a blogging GENIUS and made over 1,500,000 MILLION on her blog last year (2018). Yeah, you read that right.

She makes majority of her money from affiliate marketing and her course goes over the exact techniques she used to bring her blog to make that much money. 

Do I think this course was worth it? Yes, definitely. I started my blog in September 2017 and by October 2017, I made $300 from affiliate marketing techniques from her course.

Fast forward to this year and in October I earned over $3,400 dollars in one month just from affiliate marketing (Can be seen in the January 2019 income report). About 50% of my blogging income each month comes from affiliate marketing.

List Love Masterclass is the latest course I have purchased and goes over all things email list building!

Okay, I have to tell you how crazy good this girl is and why I bought this course. Jennifer Maker (the women who wrote this course) built a list of over 70,000 subscribers (which is really freakin' good) in less than two years.

BUT WAIT, it gets better. Just this past fall, she made over $25,000 in two days selling a product just to her email list.

I just took this course in December and I will let you know in a few months what I truly think of far, so good!

She has a free mini-course that I would also highly recommend.