Alexis Schroeder runs a fitness, travel and a lifestyle blog. At the end of 2016, she decided to quit her day job and pursue blogging full-time. Read how it all got started.

Revenue of $4,000/mo

Email list size of 4,000

Founded in 2013

 

Hello! What’s your background, and what is your blog about?

My name is Alexis and I blog over at FITnancials. On FITnancials, I post regularly about making and saving money, healthy living, and traveling. My blog’s demographic is primarily millennials who live in the United States, Canada, Australia, and U.K. People come to my blog to learn how to develop a life in which they have financial independence, as well as how to create a healthy life with food and exercise.

At the moment, FITnancials is making an average of $4,000 per month. I’ve also managed to grow my email list to over 4,000 subscribers in under a year, primarily with the most signups in the last 3 months after changing my email and opt-in strategy.

This past month was also my first 6 figure month in page views, which was amazing to finally get to! I have noticed the opportunities really come forward from brands once I hit 100,000 page views. Aside from my blog, I’m a virtual assistant for Michelle at Making Sense of Cents.

What motivated you to get started with the blog?

The idea of FITnancials originally started from my sister. She had started a blog the year before and was really enjoying it. After I lost 60 pounds, her and her other blogger friends told me I should start a blog about health and fitness. I eventually started FITnancials, and became a Certified Personal Trainer with a certification in nutrition.

Originally, the blog started out as a hobby blog. I was busy working overtime at my regular day job and had little time to spend on my blog. FITnancials did not start with an end goal in mind – I simple started it to document my fitness journey and to help others. Aside from my blog and day job, I was going to school to become a Special Education teacher, but eventually realized that the field was not for me after spending 6 years in it.

Apart from the health and fitness part of the blog, I also talked about personal finance. Making and saving money eventually became a hot topic on my blog, and my readers seemed to prefer to talk about finance rather than health, which was quite surprising.

What is the revenue model for the blog?

FITnancials makes money with ad revenue, sponsored posts, and affiliate marketing. Aside from that, I’m currently in the process of creating my own digital product to sell on my blog, which will be related to the health and fitness niche. My first little bit of income came from ad revenue, and I eventually started seeing money from sponsored posts. I did not start any kind of affiliate marketing until last year.

Today, I’m making an average of $4,000 to $5,000 from my blog alone. One year ago, when I decided to go full-time on my blog, I was making less than $1,000, so to see these numbers increase so rapidly feels amazing. I also want to note that I only put in about 20-30 hours of work each week on my blog, and sometimes only work less than 10 due to traveling or school (I am a senior in college).

A word of advice I would give to an aspiring entrepreneur would be to be authentic and transparent. I have noticed over the past few years that my readers love hearing my problems and difficulties in life and how I overcome them. Your readers want to be able to relate and connect with you, which will build trust between you and the reader. However,

I wouldn’t talk about yourself too much, since people usually read blogs to gain or learn something, and not to hear about someone else’s life.

What are some strategies you have used to increase the blog’s traffic?

Increasing my blog traffic has been an ongoing learning process for me. When I first started blogging, I was not on Pinterest, Twitter, or Facebook. Like I said, I was a hobby blogger and did not have any goals to grow my blog.

One year ago, when I started taking things seriously, I decided to change my Pinterest strategy. I enrolled myself in 3 different Pinterest courses to learn from the pros who were killing it on their blog. I worked hard on creating the perfect Pinterest image, as well as getting better at SEO on Pinterest, and even changed up my group boards strategy a few times.

I also worked on developing a relationship with other bloggers and guest posting on other blogs. This helped with reaching out to different audiences that are related to my niche and aren’t related to my niche at all. Along with that, I started working heavily on sponsored posts and developing a relationship with brands.

A few things did not work in improving my blog’s traffic. Something I have only recently learned is not spreading myself too thin. I was once trying to tackle too many things at once, including but not limited to Pinterest, Facebook, Twitter, Flipboard, StumbleUpon, Reddit, and a few others. I’m now only focusing on Pinterest and Facebook now. By doing this, I’m really honing in on what is working and changing my strategy around when something is failing.

I also recently started a Facebook community group for people who read my blog, where I and other share tips and articles related to money, health, and travel. This has helped create more of an intimate and trustworthy environment for my readers to get to know me more. I am not sure if this has worked yet, but I have seen it work for so many other bloggers.

A tip I would give to new bloggers is to be authentic when developing relationships with other bloggers or brands. I have received so many generic emails from people wanting a guest post on my blog, and even once had someone call me by the wrong name and blog name.

They were copying and pasting the same email and sending it across to so many bloggers. This is hurtful and will ruin a reputation very fast. Spend time creating relationships with other bloggers. I have worked so hard at this that I now send gifts, personal emails, and often shout out other blogs within my posts to establish or keep a genuine relationship.

How have you grown your email list?

My email list is currently over 4,200 subscribers. I started my list less than 1 year ago, and I only started taking it seriously about 3 months ago. Most of my opt-ins come from the past 3 months and this is because I really focused on what my readers wanted.

I send emails roughly once every week or two. I make sure to not go too long without sending an email so that my readers can expect to hear from me. My emails primarily talk about my newest posts, as well as new ways to make money from home. I often send emails about interviews I’ve done with entrepreneurs who are making 5 or 6 figures from home. These interviews range from freelance writers to parking lot garbage collectors. People love hearing entrepreneur success stories.

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The opt-in that does the best is an opt-in related to making money from home. The second-best opt-in on my blog is for my free resource library filled with printables that I update regularly. People love free stuff, so if you’re trying to grow your email list, you have to offer your readers something of value. People rarely subscribe to an email list just because.

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? 

If I had to start over, I would charge more for my work. I’ve undercharged for many sponsored posts that I worked hard at writing. Just this past year have I started realizing I can charge 4 figures for a blog post. On top of that, I would focus harder on being myself more. My posts from a year ago sounded very robotic. I was not talking to my readers as if I was talking to a friend, which I now do. Since changing this strategy, I have noticed an increase in page views as well as comments from my readers.

I would also work on outsourcing things that I am not comfortable doing or excel at. For example, I am not particularly good at creating detailed printables, so I often outsource these to graphic designers.

Have you found anything particularly helpful or advantageous?

Blogging conferences have been incredibly helpful in growing my blog and developing relationships with other bloggers in my niche. The great thing about blogging is that there is a conference for almost any niche. Even if you haven’t started a blog yet, you can find a conference that will help you get started in growing your blog and brand. The community of bloggers is generally nice and welcoming, which is another major plus.

I went to my first blogging conference this year called Fincon, hosted in Dallas Texas. Fincon is a huge conference dedicated to helping personal finance bloggers grow their blog and brand. You also get to meet so many people that are killing it in the blogging community, which is incredibly inspiring and motivating.

I would also see what other bloggers are doing that is working. This does not mean copy other people, but see what is working for them. This could be related to the topics they are talking about, their blog design layout style, or their social media tactics. And always make sure there is a call to action at the bottom of each post! Your call to action could be an email opt-in, link to another post within a similar topic, or an affiliate link.

What’s your advice for bloggers who are just starting out?

For bloggers just starting out, I would tell them to be authentic and transparent in your writing. When you’re writing posts, try to relate to the reader somehow. For example, if you are writing a post called, “10 Ways to Pay Off Debt”, you could write a little bit about how you’re currently paying off your 6-figure mortgage and how you’re struggling. People like to know that you’re not perfect and can relate to that.

Alongside that, I would make sure you don’t talk about yourself all the time. I did this in every single blog post in the beginning and it still makes me cringe!

A mistake I see other bloggers making is writing too short of blog posts. I’ve seen many blog posts that appear to less than 400 words that don’t give a lot of value to the reader. I often see articles that are giving advice and tips without taking any action.

For example, if you’re writing a post on how to save money on books, you should include links that will help the reader. These can even be affiliate links, which will help you as a blogger, too. People are going to your blog to get help or learn something, and you want to help that as much as you can.

Also, make sure to start your email list from day 1. Create free resources and opt-ins that will attract your reader. If you aren’t sure what your readers want to see, create a survey and post it on your blog. This will give you a better idea of what kind of free resources to create.

Social media platforms and Pinterest is constantly changing, but your email list will always be something that will give you a direct connection with your reader.

Where can we go to learn more?

You can read my blog or connect with me via Facebook or Twitter. I also run a Facebook group, that I’d love you to be part of.