Lauren Bowling first started a blog in 2012 and 4 years later the blog’s name changed. In this interview she goes in-depth about her rebranding process, outsourcing and choosing the importance of choosing the right niche.
Revenue of $4,500/mo
Email list size of 4,500
Founded in 2012
Hello! What’s your background, and what is your blog about?
I had a shopping addiction and made many bad money mistakes in college. After working at a financial services company as my first job out of school, I took an interest in personal finance and started a blog about it.
Back then in 2012 was called “L Bee and the Money Tree,” but then I rebranded into Financial Best Life at the end of 2016 to reflect my growing millennial audience.
It’s been almost six years now, and I’m currently making an average of $4500.00 each month from the blog. It’s the best side hustle and starting a blog is the best decision I’ve ever made!
What is the revenue model for the blog?
The blog makes money in three ways: sponsored posts, sales of my own products and services, and affiliates. It’s like 50% sponsorships, 25% products and 25% affiliates.
What are some strategies you have used to increase the blog’s traffic?
Initially I just shared the site with my friends and family, who were great about sharing and giving me word of mouth. I also networked a lot with other bloggers in my industry starting out. Then two years ago I started getting very serious traffic from Pinterest.
The rebrand took some of my SEO ‘juice” away, but now nearly a year later I’m seeing some of that return and making it a bit more of a priority.
How have you grown your email list?
My email list size is currently around 4500 people. The best thing I did to grow my list was to create a “vault” of free worksheets. There’s a budgeting spreadsheet, debt pay down tracker, etc.
Pretty much anything to help take anyone reading blog posts into actionable steps to make their finances better.
Obviously, they have to give their email to get access, but it’s been very successful. I send out a weekly newsletter and just recap the blogs from the week, any press mentions, products I like or special events. It’s really just a way to “keep up with me” even if you don’t visit the site every day.
How do you write great content that performs well?
After I rebranded, I spent an entire year trying to just write for SEO and it was an epic failure. Frustrated I went to a dear friend and fellow blogger who told me, “If you don’t enjoy writing it, they won’t enjoy reading it.”
And so now my 2018 resolution is to only write when I have something to really say. Posts where I do that and reveal a bit of myself are the ones that do extremely well.
What are the biggest challenges you’ve faced and obstacles you’ve overcome with your blog? If you had to start over, what would you do differently?
Biggest obstacle was when I started blogging full-time. I dealt with a lot of depression and “blogger burnout.” This was something I really hadn’t planned on happening. If I had to do it all over again, I probably would’ve rebranded to my name instead of FinancialBestLife, but I’m not even 100% on that.
I like reading blogs that have names, but now that I want to get out of blogging just about money, I’m having a hard time pivoting. So my advice would be to build a “brand name” that allows you a lot of room to grow.
Have you found anything particularly helpful or advantageous?
Outsource, outsource, outsource. I outsourced early, and sometimes even spent my own money to grow the blog and now I spend very little and feel I’m ahead of people who didn’t outsource. I never learned how to make pins, I hired a graphic designer to do all of that after the first year and it’s made such a difference, especially in courting bigger brands because I have a “look” that is distinctive and cohesive. My designer really, really helped me do this.'Outsource, outsource, outsource.'Click To Tweet
I also think timing was on my side. Back then there weren’t even big “money” websites, there were only blogs and now blogging is so crowded and you’ve got the big players so it’s harder now, for sure.
I also was very good at being consistent and working consistently over time. I like to joke the blog is the “longest relationship I’ve ever had.” I even do a little blog coaching and consistency is something all my clients struggle with. The ones that succeed are just able to keep at it, but unfortunately that’s not something you can teach. It comes from within. You’re either passionate/motivated enough or your just not. You will be about something else, don’t force it.
What’s your advice for bloggers who are just starting out?
Niche as much as possible. Develop what only you can bring to the table early on. Test often. Find out what works and what doesn’t and then if it does work do MORE of that.
Where can we go to learn more?