Lisa Sicard’s blog is about content marketing with a high emphasis on Twitter and how it can transform any small business.

Revenue of $400/mo

Email list size of 170

Founded in 2014

 

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

I’m Lisa Sicard, and I founded Inspire To Thrive. For background, I started at a weekly newspaper as a teenager typing ads. I was then taught how to make ads up and design them. I became a graphic artist by 18 and an art director at a weekly Catholic newspaper. I left there to go to a daily newspaper and heard how much the salespeople made in commissions. If I did a lot of extra work to make the ads up I would get a free lunch. A year later a sales job opened up, I applied and started my career in sales.

I helped many small businesses plan their marketing with newspaper ads.

From there I went to a bigger daily newspaper – the oldest continuous newspaper in the United States. We were the first to have a website. I began to work on the digital team selling digital ads back in the 1990’s. People were very skeptical back then about online marketing.

Years later I ran an online store for my ex-husband. It was a medical uniform website. I made the site from StoresOnline and spent countless hours designing the site, doing the SEO and then marketing it. I began to use social media. My biggest sale came via Twitter.

Friends and people that knew me started to ask how to do it, and then more – how to do this and that, how to tweet, how to use Facebook, etc. to market their online businesses. That is how Inspire to Thrive was born. I began to write to answer people. It was easier than spending hours on the phone with them.

My blog is about content marketing, social media with a high emphasis on Twitter and how it can help your small business. It is for people who are looking to increase their small business digitally and for bloggers who want to increase their reach online. I usually do product reviews, tools of the trade so to speak to help others with their online marketing. Any tool that can save time is worth it to me today.

What motivated you to get started with the blog?

I began in content marketing over 6 years ago after I had retail online store for medical scrubs. At that time I was also a digital sales rep for a daily newspaper.

Everything began to come together when I made my largest sales order via Twitter. I then began to take social media and blogging seriously. I then started to help others to do the same for their online businesses. I even gave Twitter lessons to the newsroom at the newspaper.

People would call me or email questions all the time so I figured I’d answer them all in blog posts. It saved me time back then and helped others learn from all of my own mistakes.

What is the revenue model for the blog?

I now make money via content marketing through several channels. I write posts for other websites and blogs. I do sponsored posts on my own blog. I do social share packages for others.

Making money via content marketing takes on many forms as another of mine is via my eBook. I also build social media sites, Facebook Pages and Twitter profiles for others too.

It’s nice to have several income streams from your blog and content marketing business. It’s all stuff that I love doing and getting paid to do it is icing on the cake!

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

Building traffic takes time. People need to have patience for it too. You must know the basics of SEO before blogging. Get down the basics and then start promoting.

I didn’t realize and many others don’t know that you need to spend 80% of your time promoting and 20% of your time generating new content. Most bloggers start out doing the opposite.

I use social media, the big 3 – Twitter, LinkedIn and Facebook along with a few other “Communities” like BizSugar, Quora, InBound to name a few. You have to be active out there and comment along the way. Share and comment other’s 80% of the time and yours 20% of the time. (Sometimes I end up only doing mine 10% of the time).

How have you grown your email list?

This is one area I haven’t done as well as I would like. I had gained some traction with the Hello Bar for a while but it dwindled after time.

I also gave away eBooks and that too worked only for a short time period.

I send emails weekly with new posts and things about the industry as well as sharing from others posts. My list is around 200.

Push notifications have made a difference recently. I’ve only been using them over a month now and I have almost 100 that subscribe. I wasn’t a fan of them until I read ShoutMeLoud’s post about them. I was then convinced to try it and now I’m loving them. I wrote about them on the Curatti blog recently too.

I’ve built my email list over the years by giving away a free eBook for several of them. I then started to send out an email weekly with updates on the industry and any new posts.

I try to also mention others in my emails and not keep it all about me or my blog.

I use MailChimp and never sell anything via these emails. They are sending people to places to find info and where they can make purchases from.

How you write great content that performs well?

I do a lot of research. If someone questions something on a post I usually turn it into another post.

Find out what people need to learn about and do. Read their tweets, posts, etc.

Keep your posts simple and mix up your media. Use images, slideshares, video, quotes, etc to mix it up throughout your posts.

If you are passionate about a topic it is much easier to write about. You can accomplish a lot more that way. Recently Twitter expanded their tweet count to 280 and I was able to write approximately 1000 words within an hour about it. I had been thinking about, was very comfortable with it and went with it.

Other times if you are not as passionate about a topic, it takes much longer. You have to research more and do more to be able to really write about it.

'It is much easier to write from your experiences than writing about something you are not so familiar with.'Click To Tweet

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?

Time is my biggest challenge as I work a 9-5 job too. I take advantage of early mornings or weekends. If I get time for lunch during the day I’ll break out my laptop and get a few things done. My mobile phone is invaluable.

If I could do it again – I would have written better content from the get-go. I was more concerned about more content not quality content. Blogging is a marathon, not a sprint.

I also would not have accepted all paid sponsorships, I would have vetted a few more better than I did. It’s our name that is associated with them so we better believe in what we recommend.

Have you found anything particularly helpful or advantageous?

Other bloggers. I’ve learned a lot from other bloggers and I recommend you find your mentors. I have several. Donna Merrill and Ryan Biddulph are two I’ve followed for years. I‘ve learned so much invaluable info from them. Take some courses too.

Buy some eBooks and learn more. Ryan’s eBook on how to make an eBook really helped me, though I didn’t follow his advice on the promotion part of it – big mistake! I was so tired from writing the book I didn’t save enough energy to promote it. Promotion is a huge part of selling an eBook today.

You must invest money to make money. Invest in yourself. There is always more to learn. I find the more I learn, the more I know I need to learn. It may sound ironic, but that’s the way it really is.

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

I would recommend they start off with WordPress via a self hosted blog. Publish at least 5 posts before sending out links and such.

Do not add a lot of ads or things to sell in your sidebar, keep it clean and simple. Be active on social media and comment on other blogs in your niche. Try to be consistent through time.

I would recommend if they are starting out to follow a few mentors and don’t be afraid to ask questions.

Where can we go to learn more?

You can read my blog or connect me via Quora, Twitter, Facebook or LinkedIn.