Lidiya Kesarovska started Let’s Reach Success as a passion project, today is bringing in a good amount of side income from the blog, and hoping to turn it into full-time gig soon.
Revenue of $2,000/mo
Email list size of 1,000
Founded in 2013
Hello! What’s your background, and what is your blog about?
Hey there! I’m Lidiya, writer and lifestyle designer. I’m Bulgarian, turned my passion into my career, became location independent, moved to my favorite destination (Amsterdam, Netherlands), and am constantly trying to improve myself and make a statement with my words, actions and business.
I created Let’s Reach Success – a blog on anything related to personal, spiritual and business growth. But now that it’s grown and has become an authoritative site, I also cover Tech, Travel, Health, Education, and more. People find it organically when searching for things they struggle with in life, or want to know how to improve in a certain area.
What motivated you to get started with the blog?
Back when I started the blog, I had no actual direction, but I knew it was worth it. Usually, it always is, it’s just that people give up early on before a site has the chance to grow. I came up with the idea after defining my passion (personal development) and combining it with my most favorite thing (writing). I knew I had to write about it and see where it takes me. It felt good from the first article I published, and to this day I enjoy creating content around that field and sharing it with the world.'The most important thing is that I never started my blog with money in mind.'Click To Tweet
English is my second language, and I have no degree related to writing, but the love for the craft is stronger than any background. Formal education has nothing to do with online business. It’s all about self-education. Nothing will happen if you aren’t willing to dedicate time daily, for years, to learn the ins and outs of the market and how the digital world works. Bonus points if you’re passionate about what you do. That makes staying consistent easier.
At the moment, I’m a full-time freelance writer. I still keep doing what I love, being selective with the topics I cover and the clients I work with. That has potential to turn into a real business one day, but transitioning from a freelancer to running something bigger is harder than simply starting out in the beginning.
What is the revenue model for the blog?
The most important thing is that I never started my blog with money in mind. It’s based on passion for the topics covered and a strong desire to share my thoughts, life lessons and experiences with anyone interested. However, over time I experimented with the most common ways to make money from a blog, such as ads, affiliate marketing, selling information products, offering a subscription and sponsored content.
I believe the real value of such a platform for the website owner comes in the form of personal branding. People start finding you, mainly through the content you published that’s now all over the Web and the shares on social media. Some are looking for people exactly like you, doing what you do, and when they land on your site, they’ll most probably email you. Then, any opportunity can come your way depending on what you’re doing. It can be freelance clients, partners, passionate readers, etc. That’s how you build a name for yourself – by growing a platform that’s recognizable in your chosen niche.
The way in which I started making money directly from the blog was sponsored content and paid guest posts. I wasn’t sure how to do that myself in the beginning, but saw the potential in it when people and brands started reaching out asking me to place their guest post on my site, and offering a fee for it.
I’ve said no to ads a long time ago in order to provide a better user experience. I sell eBooks elsewhere, grow my brand with each piece of content I publish, and link to affiliate products here and there. But sponsored posts are the real deal for me. Here’s exactly how I got started with them.
The revenue model for a site depends on the goals of the owner, the audience and what they like, and on many other factors. It’s worth exploring different monetization methods to see what works best for you. But the point is to always provide value to the reader. When you have a solid offer and it’s presented in the right way, they’ll gladly pay for it.
What are some strategies you have used to increase the blog’s traffic?
In the first 2 years I was simply publishing content and was turning writing and publishing into a habit, while at the same time I learned a lot about the publishing world, building and optimizing WordPress sites, how search engines rank sites, what people like to read and why, and more. Then, when there were enough articles in the archives, I became more confident as I finally knew what I was doing, I got proper hosting and set up the necessary elements of a site so that it can look professional. I joined all social media channels and other places where I could gain eyeballs and complement the brand.
Guest posting happened naturally over time. Now I’m more picky with what I accept, but I receive many requests daily. Currently, most of the content is submitted by contributors, which helps the site grow and show different opinions and expertise.
I never relied on friends or people I knew, but started from nothing and let things happen naturally. SEO is a big factor. Eventually, I realized that even the best content can’t be found if it’s not optimized for search engines, so I understood how Google works and started playing by its rules. I never paid for ads, but I do trust long-form and naturally optimized content to perform well over time.
As for PR, I did some guest posting on other publications back in the days. Saw many rejections, but then started appearing on sites. One day someone from TIME magazine emailed me saying they want to republish a post of mine that went viral on another platform, so I said yes, of course. That backlink I got is still the one with the highest quality.
The podcast now has 100 episodes and although not making money, it’s a part of the brand. Today written content isn’t enough. So I felt comfortable with audio too, and am now exploring the video format, which must also become a big part of my content creation process.
The main struggle of wannabe bloggers today is whether or not to start a blog. Most people aren’t confident enough to set up a site, think it’s difficult (It’s not. I wasn’t tech-savvy at all back then.), fear the competition and think they’ll never make it, or else. These excuses are barriers to creating the foundation of all your digital endeavors. Cause it all begins with a blog.
How have you grown your email list?
I offer a free newsletter and there are around 1000 subscribers on it. I don’t use pop-ups, but let users submit their email if they feel like.
I offer plenty of freebies that go with it, and they get access to them immediately. In addition, I send a weekly email – every Monday – sharing some updates and thoughts, and a list of everything that was published on the blog the week before.
How do you write great content that performs well?
Wouldn’t have happened without loving to write and being passionate about the topics. But a ton of work is involved too. Back then I thought I had to wait for inspiration and believed in writer’s block. But these are all in our heads. Now being inspired to write is a constant state of mine, I can focus in any environment, have built the discipline to do my work in the first part of the day no matter what, and can write thousands of words without feeling exhausted.
I write about a new topic when I have enough to say about it. Sometimes, I do basic keyword research, grab a term, and create a detailed guide on it with a ton of practical stuff. That’s valuable and ranks well over time.
As for headlines, list and how-to posts have always worked well. But depending on the audience, you might need different titles to grab attention. It’s true that people judge an article by the title and are likely to never click on it if the headline doesn’t speak to them. There’s a cool free tool (one of many) to analyze your headline and make sure it has all the necessary elements.
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?
The good thing about blogging is that you’re investing your time, and it always pays off, even if you make a ton of mistakes. There’s no defeat if you learn from everything you do.
My challenges in the beginning were the tech side of things, but there’s enough information out there and tutorials explaining anything necessary. Now I enjoy reading about advanced SEO tactics or joining a new platform where I can build a new audience and bring more attention to my site.
There’s nothing I’d do differently if I had to start over. It’s exactly how it was supposed to be.
Have you found anything particularly helpful or advantageous?
Whatever your niche is, you need to be reading and consuming information all the time. There’s a ton of stuff, and they are all important. How you combine them, though, and how you use your own talents and skills, is crucial.
I found online mentors over the years who helped me stay motivated. I never needed that in real life.
For any topic you might need to know more about, there are free detailed guides by quality sources. Set aside a few hours to go through one or two, take notes, then make a plan on how to implement the ideas and actions.
Taking care of your blog must become your hobby. Don’t consider it actual work if you aren’t making money. Just let it be your free time activity that you enjoy doing more of. Stay curious and constantly test things. Enjoy this and you’ll find plenty of satisfaction in it once you see how you’re building a platform that helps people.
Keep up to date with trends, that’s for sure. You can’t go without a site optimized for mobile now, for instance. And what worked in SEO 2 years ago isn’t that relevant anymore, while there are some new factors Google takes into consideration. Also, new social media platforms and marketplaces are around the corner, and it’s usually worth getting onto each, creating a profile and engaging with people. It might turn out to be your biggest traffic source one day, you never know.
Where can we go to learn more?
I share my story, progress over the years and philosophy, on my About page.