Anja Cass of Cooking With Plants

2 weeks ago in Interviews

In 2012, Anja Cass was diagnosed with heart issues, which lead her to get healthy and lose over 50 pounds. Soon, Cooking With Plants blog was born.

Revenue of $4,000/mo

Email list size of 9,000

Founded in 2014

 

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

Hi, my name is Anja Cass and I’m the founder of Cooking With Plants. In 2012 I was diagnosed with heart issues and my research lead me to a plant-based lifestyle.

As a result, I got healthy and lost over 50 pounds. People started to ask me what I ate, so I recorded a few videos to show my family and friends, but I soon found that other people were watching the videos too! So you can say that I accidentally started this journey and finally turned my passion of cooking into a niche business.

While I didn’t make any money for a couple of years, I managed to build a very supportive and interactive community that not only enjoy the recipes I create, but they also support each other. During the process, I also went through a divorce and took a year off in 2017. But this year I’ve come back super motivated and am looking to build my income from $4,000 per month to a much higher number thanks to a range of products that I will be releasing throughout this year.

What motivated you to get started with the blog?

I actually started my Youtube channel before I started my blog. It was all accidental really. While I have an advertising and marketing background and have run a few online websites before, they were never something I was super passionate about. It was a heart health scare that made me look at what I was eating very closely. It changed my whole life and something sparked inside of me.

I knew I had to share what I had learned with others. My passion for cooking drove me to invent healthy plant-based recipe alternatives for the unhealthy food I had been eating. And by being online I could help others from all around the world do the same.

What is the revenue model for the blog?

I have a number of income streams for Cooking With Plants. Currently, I make about $4,000 per month. This comes from a combination of Youtube Adsense, affiliate marketing, and cookbook sales. While Youtube is a great platform to earn money, I find it’s more from things away from Youtube, such as my cookbook sales where you can earn serious money.

It’s important to use many different social media platform to reach different audiences for your business, but also keep in mind that your number one goal should be to build your own email list and not rely on other social media platforms. Having your own email list allows you to stay in contact with your followers and you can contact them at any time and on your terms.

I guess the first thing that I did with my blog was offer a lot for free. I did years of free recipes and building a strong community while I earn money from my other websites. Now that my community is so big and supportive, they are wanting me to sell products to them, rather than me having to hope that they want to buy from me. I’ve made myself an authority figure in my field by being genuine and people can see that. Always be authentic and always be YOU!

Also, never think small. Even when I had 5 followers I always did everything as if I had the biggest blog and Youtube channel on the internet. Know your goal and work hard. Things don’t magically happen – you have to make them happen!

What are some strategies you have used for building up the traffic?

I initially started by posting regular videos on Youtube. I did about 3 per week for almost two years. I also directed people to my blog from there so they could print the recipes that I had the videos for. I would also comment on other channel’s videos and interact with creators and viewers that way.

I also joined a lot of related Facebook Groups and groups where there were people that would be interested in my blog. I interacted and commented a lot and I also shared my recipes from time to time. Eventually, people got to know me and trusted me. Again, I was building myself up as an authority in my community.

Youtube is still my biggest traffic source to date, but I do also use Facebook, Instagram, and Pinterest.

Every time I create a new recipe video, I post it on all forms of social media, I email my database and I make sure that each recipe targets a keyword or search term that is Google friendly and will attract natural rankings for Google searches.

How have you grown the email list?

Oh, my email list… my poor neglected email list. I have almost 10,000 people on my list but last year I hardly did any emails to them because I had gone through a divorce and took a year off for me.

Luckily my followers are extremely supportive and virtually no-one unsubscribed when I started to email again earlier this year.

Every time I create a new recipe, I email them. I also do the occasional promotional email if I have a new cookbook out or a special course etc.

I have a sign-up form on my website and it is in the side column of every page on my website. So every time someone looks at one of my recipes, the sign-up form is there. I also have a series of auto-responders that go out every time someone joins my list. These tell people a bit more about me and why I started the blog, as well as some special recipes and an offer for my cookbooks.

To be honest I haven’t put as much thought or effort into my email marketing as I need to but it is definitely on my to do list this year.

How do you write great content that performs well?

I guess my content is easy… I decide on a recipe and I post it. However, when I choose what I’m going to make I do research hot topics and popular recipes that people are currently searching for in Youtube and in Google.

'Provide quality content but don’t become crippled by perfection.'Click To Tweet

I then create something based around that. This ensures that I end up with something that people want and are searching for. 

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?

My biggest challenge was that my ex-husband used to be my videographer, photographer, IT manager and Tech Guy. When we parted ways I found it difficult to manage everything on my own because I never had to worry about any of the technical side of things. Suddenly I had all sorts of issues to deal with and had to find people to help me.

In hindsight, I recommend that you know about all aspects of your business. I would definitely recommend keeping a record of all external websites/passwords and companies that you deal with to keep your business running. For example, domain registration, hosting, merchant account etc

Have you found anything particularly helpful or advantageous?

I think it’s very important to have a good network of people to work with. Both online and offline. It can be a lonely world running a blog sometimes because most people that do it work from home, in their isolated bubble. I suggest you join local business groups as well as online communities to keep you motivated and share ideas with. I know we often think we have no time, but even once per month is great. You’ll be amazed at how re-energized you can get by speaking to others about your ideas – and theirs!

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

My advice for new bloggers is to be patient. Work hard and don’t expect things to happen overnight. It takes time to build a blog and to build authority in your niche. Provide quality content but don’t become crippled by perfection. So many people don’t get started just because they are perfectionists… don’t get me wrong, I like to do things perfectly too, but sometimes getting some content out there is far more important than making it 100% perfect. Like the saying goes – just do it!

Where can we go to learn more?

Go to Cooking With Plants blog, grab my best selling cookbooks, Instagram, Pinterest or Youtube.

Globetrotter Guru of Amy Trumpeter

2 weeks ago in Interviews

Amy Trumpeter had been teaching for 13 years when she came to a realization that she wanted to travel more and Globetrotter Guru was born.

Revenue of $100/mo

Email list size of 150

Founded in 2015

 

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

My name is Amy Trumpeter and I studied Religion and Theology and MA in South Asian studies at Manchester University. Then, I was a teacher for 13 years but realized I wanted to travel more and become financially independent so I became a blogger in 2015.

My blog Globetrotter Guru is a solo female travel blog predominantly read by women travelers in their 20s and 30s. It inspires people to travel solo and offers itineraries, city guides and hotel and hostel reviews.

I’m excited to have recently hit 1000 page views a day. On average, my monthly blog views are 7000-10,000 per month. I recently hit $100 a month in passive income, which has taken me a while to get used to as I wasn’t monetizing in the beginning.

What motivated you to get started with the blog?

My idea for the blog was original to document my travels for my mum and friends back home. Then I realized that people were running blogs as a business and earning a passive income from them, so I upped the anti and started to see it as a way out of teaching. I loved being in the classroom but it was very hard work and very little time off.

I was a Geography teacher with an MA in South Asian studies, so I definitely had the academic background and knowledge to be a travel writer, but I did have to develop my writing style as a blog audience is different to an academic one. This was my biggest challenge.

As a teacher at the time of starting out, it meant that I had a little revenue to invest in a few online courses and a website designer. This really helped me to get going.

What is the revenue model for the blog?

My current income is predominantly from Adsense and AWIN. Through AWIN, I am affiliated with main hotel and flight booking engines such as booking.com and expedia.com. This means that I can review hotels and earn commissions for people who book through my links. I am now also an affiliate of Viator, the TripAdvisor tour booking site, and so I can review tours and receive a commission from these also.

Adsense is very easy to set up and a good passive income. It basically just means that people can advertise in a space on your website and you earn money for click-throughs.

Personally, I started making money from my original blog about 18 months after it started. I remember getting excited telling my boyfriend that my blog had learned money. ‘How much?’ He asked, and I answered 10p! (That’s about 15c!) We laughed about it, but the point was I knew that as it had started to earn, it could earn more, and so I persevered. It has been a lot of hard work to get to the stage I am at now, but it has been 100% worth it.

The main tips that I would give are to learn how to monetize your blog straight away. Originally, I was just blogging as a hobby and not with money making in mind. I wasn’t writing for an income e.g. hotel reviews and tour reviews. If I had done this from the start, I would be earning a lot more than I am now! But, it is all a learning curve, don’t be discouraged if you don’t earn straight away.

I intend to produce eBooks and guides on Amazon as my next step for growing traffic and revenue. 

What are some strategies you have used for building up the traffic?

To get initial traffic, I developed and grew main social media accounts on Facebook, Twitter, Instagram and Pinterest. i also added in Google+ (good for Search Engine Optimisation – being found on Google and other search engines such as Bing).

Once I had a decent Facebook page, I invested some money (small amounts around $20 a month) into advertising on Facebook to get more page likes and boosting posts for engagement. This has drastically grown my following in my target audience (you can define your audience with Facebook advertising) and therefore I would highly recommend it.

Pinterest has also been a great driver of traffic. I joined a few facebook groups on Pinterest for travel bloggers where we share each other’s pins. This has increased my traffic because Pinterest is now a search engine within itself.

My main tip would be to firm up your blog niche right from the start and then learn and implement Search Engine Optimisation immediately. Research your keywords (low competition and high traffic) before you write articles and then write with these keywords in mind. This will give you Google traffic, the biggest source of free traffic out there. I wish I had done this from the beginning.

Guest posting has worked well for me because it has given me backlinks from other people’s websites that have resulted in an increase in my Domain Authority on both blogs. It’s a brilliant way to get your name out there as a writer. Again, you can join Facebook groups on this, or just research blogs open to guest posts online.

How have you grown the email list?

I’ve recently set up my email marketing list with Aweber and I have 151 sign-ups. I have grown this by a link from Facebook and the website predominantly.

I intend to run a free Facebook giveaway to grow the list, as from what I have been reading lately, this can massively increase your newsletter sign-ups.  Another mistake that I made as a first time blogger did not have an email list to sign up to straight away. I probably lost out on hundreds of sign-ups in the first 18 months when I didn’t have one!

How do you write great content that performs well?

I write well early in the mornings and often I need to feel inspired, which pretty much always happens when I’m traveling! I don’t travel full time though, I have a partner back int he UK where I spend about 50% of the year. We have set up a home office with Ikea furniture and big monitors and I’ve found that this has really helped me to work well at home.

I write mainly about places I am visiting at that time, and there is always something to recommend. If I don’t feel inspired, it feels forced and really shows up in my writing. I’m heading to Malta in March and Thailand in April this year, so this will provide plenty of great content for my blogs! I’m keeping my original blog going as well as my new niche blog because they both get traffic and make money, so why not!

I would recommend using the Coschedule headline analyzer to help you to get good headlines. It’s a free tool and will help your titles become more shareable on social media and therefore get more hits. 

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 from scratch here’s a summary of what I would do differently:

  • Invest in Facebook ads immediately.
  • Research the key terms for SEO before writing articles.
  • Monetise the blog immediately with affiliate marketing and Adsense.
  • Brand from the beginning with a color scheme and texts that is recognizable and fits in with your mission.
  • Get all your social media accounts inline with the same username.

Have you found anything particularly helpful or advantageous?

I found Emma Drew’s course ‘Turn your Dreams into Money’ really helpful. It taught me a lot about branding issues such as color palettes and logos.

My ambitious attitude meant that I never gave up, and this has been instrumental in my success as a blogger. Around two-thirds of new blogs fail after the first 6 months, simply because they got the drive and stamina to keep going and push past that tough bit. Never give up!

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

If you are just starting out as a blogger, I would recommend attending conferences and reaching out to other people in the blogging community. People are so helpful and friendly, and you can learn from their mistakes rather than making your own!

Where can we go to learn more?

Head over to Globetrotter Guru or connect with me via Facebook, Twitter, Pinterest or Instagram.

Francesca Willow of Ethical Unicorn

2 weeks ago in Interviews

Ethical Unicorn is a blog about sustainable living, social justice and whole range of other topics. Francesca covers a lot in this interview, including productivity, monetizing your blog effectively and importance of finding other bloggers to surround yourself with.

Revenue of $1,000/mo

Email list size of 50

Founded in 2016

 

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

My name is Francesca Willow; I run the blog Ethical Unicorn where I write about sustainable living and social justice. I cover a whole range of topics, from ethical fashion to cultural debate, with the aim of providing as many resources as I can for a variety people.

It means I have quite a diverse readership, as people come to my blog for differing reasons, which I really love. I think ethical living has to be a mix of consumer choice, collective action, and policy change, so I try to write about all those things in different ways.

The time period from having the initial blog idea to launching was about five days, so I jumped in with no plan or goal of making a business, just a lot of passion.

However I was actually able to start earning money from about six months in and now, less than two years since I started, I make most of my income from my blog.

What motivated you to get started with the blog?

Most people come into my field from a fashion background, but I actually come from a base of art and critical theory. I trained in contemporary dance, and still work as a performer, before doing a masters degree in Theatre and Performance Studies.

It’s a course many people haven’t heard of, but it’s essentially an interdisciplinary field that looks at society, culture and performance. I was particularly interested in the anthropological side of what we learned, which led to a strong interest in social justice.

While a lot of this interest was the foundation for the art I was doing, I also really longed to create something that was more practical. Art is an amazing tool for conversation, but I wanted to be able to go one step further and give people more tangible, understandable actions too.

I was living a fairly sustainable life already, and in 2016 I had both friends who got into zero-waste living and a friend working in PR who represented ethical brands, so I became more involved with these worlds. I felt like all these conversations were linked but I couldn’t find the blog that was covering them in one place, so I decided to be that blog! I came in with much more understanding of systemic issues in society, and have learned more of the nuances of how we understand ethical and sustainable production along the way.

I started the blog completely as a hobby. I’d gone straight from my undergraduate degree, to my masters, to my first tour, so was very new to the ‘real world’, and I was working in operations whilst figuring out where I wanted my life to go. My job was a busy one, but I was so passionate about what I was writing that I made the time to post three times a week and keep up social media.

I can’t explain it, but drive just took over! I was completely taken by surprise when the first company reached out to collaborate with me, and I had to figure out how to really be a working blogger. I left that job a few months later and went freelance, mixing performing work and blogging, and I’ve never looked back since.

What is the revenue model for the blog?

I think my model probably looks different to other types of blogging, as I really don’t rely on affiliate linking much at all. Most of my income comes from sponsored content, but I think that makes more sense with the type of world I’m part of. I don’t want to promote overconsumption, so it’s more understandable that I’d do more work directly with brands to share their stories rather than encourage constant buying of new things.

At the same time, I do know that my recommendations carry a fair bit of weight. In general influencer marketing is more trusted than traditional advertising, but because we’re talking about ethics I also take on a lot of work so consumers don’t have to, looking into a company’s sustainability and being quite specific about who I work with and why.

I started making money because a company (ethical of course!) reached out to me and asked for my media kit. I didn’t even have one at the time, but luckily I was already friends with some other ethical bloggers who I could get some advice from. I had quite a low rate when I started, as I was fairly small and also figuring out my writer’s voice and way of working.

I figured out the types of formats that worked for my content, and then did a mix of working with people who contacted me individually and working with brands who contacted the larger group I was part of, which is pretty similar to how it works now too, but with a higher rate. It’s hard to pin down an exact number as these things fluctuate, but I’d say I’m at around the $1000 per month mark these days.

I guess the biggest piece of advice for me is about finding your niche. The market for general blogging is very saturated, but if you’re writing on something specific then you’ll be able to find your crowd much more easily. I didn’t come into this searching for a niche, but it’s definitely what’s put me where I am today.

Also try to create meaningful connections with people in the same community as you, learn from the writing styles of others and try to always think about how you can improve as a creator – it’s a brilliant way to be creative so don’t take that for granted because of the business side of things. I also think if you’re authentic, thorough and open in your writing then people will connect with it.

What are some strategies you have used for building up the traffic?

In the very beginning, I went down the social media route, as having friends in PR is really handy for getting some insight into that kind of thing.

I focused mainly on Instagram and Twitter, both being consistent in posting and deciding the kind of tone I wanted on both platforms, as well as SEO. Again because I have a specific focus, the keywords that are important to my content naturally come up in my writing, which is handy.

As more time went on I then started collaborating with others, especially after joining Ethical Writers & Creatives, occasionally writing for other websites and letting other bloggers syndicate my content, all of which helped by linking to me from other sites and helping us share audiences.

'Find a supporting community in your field that will remind you that even though a blog is a solo endeavor, you aren’t alone.'Click To Tweet

Apart from that, I think it’s the content itself that has brought people in, especially because often my non sponsored work is written when I can’t find a specific question being covered elsewhere. I have some posts that consistently bring in new people because they rank well in google searches and other posts that have been widely shared, which brings a lot of new people to me as well. In this way I do think creating content that is interesting to read and actually useful has been great, because it makes people want to share it!

How have you grown the email list?

While I do have an email list it’s not something I’ve actively grown, and I currently don’t send out newsletters. I think this is because most of my growth has come from my social media accounts and people finding me through organic searching. The option to subscribe is there on my blog, which notifies people when new posts go online, but this has only been live for a few weeks after I went through a redesign last year.

I want to get to a place where I can dedicate real time into making a newsletter that is well designed, informative and useful, and not just another thing filling up our inboxes! So that’s a future goal for sure.

How do you write great content that performs well?

I have a running list of ideas that I update as and when things pop into my head, I’ll write these posts whenever I have time and intersperse throughout sponsored content to keep things varied. Sponsored content tends to have more specific deadlines so I write and create my schedule ahead of time, it’s extremely rare that I’d sit down and post something immediately after writing.

When it comes to larger topics and long reads I tend to work on them on and off for months, both because of the amount of information and research required and because they’re more complex to write about, so I like to give them breathing space.

'Some of my really early posts make me cringe a little, but I do understand that I was figuring out my writer’s voice and tone after mainly writing in academic settings for a long time.'Click To Tweet

Most of my ideas for these kinds of posts come through interacting with the news, the world and artists working in these areas. With writing about things like fashion and lifestyle I’ll either write these posts because someone specific wants to collaborate with me, or because it’s something particularly fun or relevant that I’m interested in.

In general, my writing process follows a simple pattern. I’ll get all the information down on the page first, whether this be a brands sustainable/ethical credentials or some in depth research on a topic, and get all my sources cited. I’ll then think about the angle I want to take with the overall piece, or how I want to share a story in a unique way, and write around the information until I’ve got something semi cohesive.

I tend to then leave a piece overnight and edit it first thing in the morning with fresh eyes, ready to publish a few days later. I’ll do a little check over for keywords, but most of the time they’re in there organically anyway, and then I’ll try to think about how to craft a title that’s going to make people want to read or will be what the ideal reader would search to find my article.

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 biggest challenge is people expecting perfection. Sustainability and ethics can vary so widely from person to person that it’s literally impossible to please everyone, and the internet lets people say things to you that they would never say to your face, which is not always a great combination.

I’ve not had anything too bad compared to a lot of other people, but it still does get to you when you’re working as hard as you can and strangers are judging you. It’s something I’m learning about all the time, because as you grow you will naturally receive more criticism and questioning, so I think it’s about stepping back when that happens and giving a calm, rational response, not a knee jerk emotional reaction.

I’ve had a couple moments when I’ve wanted to react angrily, but I’ve generally managed to stop myself. I’m working on getting to a place where it doesn’t upset or discourage me because I know the truth about my life, but that’s quite the journey for a person who doesn’t put themselves on the internet, never mind those of us who do it for work!

I think apart from that, I wish I’d been more confident in my own words sooner. Some of my really early posts make me cringe a little, but I do understand that I was figuring out my writer’s voice and tone after mainly writing in academic settings for a long time. I’m way more confident and comfortable with how I write now, so starting over perhaps I’d try out a different tone earlier on.

Have you found anything particularly helpful or advantageous?

Having a community of like-minded people in the same area is great. The EWC has been invaluable for sharing resources and ideas, as well as staying sane. Ethical writers spend a lot of our time reading difficult news, so it’s good to have other people that understand to bounce ideas off of, share information and to draw inspiration from, they really are the best people.

Apart from that I think making sure to disconnect now and again is important, as it’s easy to fall into the trap of getting obsessed with numbers. For example, I’m quite strict with reminding myself that the world isn’t going to end if I don’t insta story a specific thing, it’s important to just be in the moment and still live my life too.

I just want to focus on making the best content I can and, whilst numbers are of course important, they aren’t the only thing that matters. When someone contacts me about something they’ve learned or changed because of me, that matters more.

For productivity, I also find having a tidy space to work in helps me immeasurably.

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

Think about the kind of audience you want to grow, and write with them in mind. Be thorough, be authentic and write in a clear way that makes people feel smarter or more energized when they’re done (there’s a great little article on this here).

Find ways to stay curious and creative, because I think people see when you’re being genuine and they react to that, plus they love to see things that are original and really reflect you. They’re here for your content, which means they’re here for something only you can bring, and it’s ok to lean into that.

Apart from that be consistent, make a plan of how and when you’ll post and stick to it. Not only does this help build an audience as they know you’re reliable and so are more likely to actively check back in for new posts, but it also helps you become better.

It’s only through consistently creating a body of work can we actually get better at our work, so also try not to cringe too hard at your early efforts when you look back (something I’m trying to do too!) And if you can, try and find a supporting community in your field that will remind you that even though a blog is a solo endeavour, you aren’t alone.

Where can we go to learn more?

Head over to my blog, Instagram or Twitter.

Preston Lee of Millo

4 weeks ago in Interviews

Millo is a blog with 1,200+ articles that generates $12,500/mo. Find out how Preston Lee figured out unique ways to monetize and bring in serious revenue.

Revenue of $12,500/mo

Email list size of 43,600

Founded in 2009

 

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

Hi! My name is Preston Lee and I run Millo which is a blog and media company focused on helping freelancers & solopreneurs. After freelancing myself during my final 2 years of college, I realized there was a serious lack of quality content and resources for freelancers on the web.

Years later, we have a large blog with 1,200+ articles, an active newsletter, and 3 podcasts and a few upcoming video series. We love helping people get started and grow their business as freelancers/solopreneurs.

Last Fall, after building the blog as a side-hustle since 2009, I finally took it 100% full-time. Together with my extraordinary team, we reach hundreds of thousands of readers and the blog brings in a healthy 6 figures every year.

What motivated you to get started with the blog?

Millo started as a graphic design blog in 2009 under the name Graphic Design Blender. After about a year of writing about all things design, I realized I was a better writer & the content resonated more with my audience when I wrote specifically about the “business of design”.

I began sharing my own experiences in growing my solo business and recruited other freelancers and solopreneurs to submit their own experiences in the format of articles on the blog.

Eventually, we rebranded as Millo and we now focus on freelancers of all kinds—not just designers.

As I’ve continued from freelancer to side-hustler to full-time solopreneur, I’ve continued to share what I learn along the way and we continue to recruit solopreneurs with interesting stories and tactics to share.

What is the revenue model for the blog?

We have two primary revenue models currently at Millo. First, is sponsorships. We partner with like-minded companies who share our mission to improve the lives of freelancers and solopreneurs. These companies financially support our blog, newsletter, and podcasts via sponsorships. Occasionally but more rarely, these sponsorships are also generous affiliate arrangements.

We also have a subscription-based product called SolidGigs which is a weekly gig list for freelance writers, designers, marketers, and developers. Each week our SolidGigs team combs every single gig list and job board we know about on the internet and filters out all the worst gigs, sending our members only the top 2% of all the freelance gigs on the web.

Finally, we are also experimenting (and seeing pretty good results) with some more product creation (like with our course Cold Emails that Convert) and affiliate arrangements—working on a core affiliate strategy.

'Building a blog is definitely not the fastest path to revenue. So if you’re looking to actually make profits fast from your business, consider other options.'Click To Tweet

It took me a couple years to treat my blog less like an experiment or a hobby and more like a business, but once I did, it only took a year or so before my blog was making more than I was making at my desk job.

Today, we average anywhere from $10-$15k/month through the blog in top-line revenue. Of course, there are a lot of expenses that come with that including producing 3+ podcasts, paying writers and content managers, and paying other incredibly vital members of our team. I personally make a modest fraction of that as take-home pay.

My best advice would be to treat your blog like a business—if you hope to make money from it. Focusing on how many comments you get, pageviews, how many shares your articles get, etc. is completely irrelevant if you’re not making money. Also, don’t just take the low-hanging fruit of network advertising (like Adsense or its more sophisticated counterparts). Where many bloggers are happy with a $10-20 CPM across their site via overdone and intrusive advertising, we’ve been able to achieve more like $60-80 CPMs using direct sales and much more human approach.

What are some strategies you have used for building up the traffic?

I used to link traffic with revenue at Millo. I used to think they went hand-in-hand. And for many bloggers who rely on ad networks to generate their revenue, it does rely 100% on traffic to your site.

So, allow me to say first of all: traffic isn’t everything. Millo only gets about 100K-130K pageviews per month. On an ad network, that might convert to $500-$1,000 USD. But Millo is bringing in over 20x that without major spikes in our traffic.

For anyone starting a blog they hope to treat as a business, I’d advise them to find the fastest path to revenue. They’ll quickly find that traffic is usually not the fastest path. You have to have millions of pageviews to make any sort of substantial money with an ad network and, in most cases, it takes full teams with decent funding to quickly get to millions of pageviews each month.

Focus on connecting with the people that do read your content; on helping them; serving them. These will be the people that will talk about you on social media. The people who will buy your products. I’d rather have 1,000 true fans any day (maybe you’ve heard the concept) than thousands of meaningless pageviews.

Once you’ve connected with people on a deeper level, use them as a support to help get your message out, identify blog topics, and grow your audience. Never underestimate how much someone who has been truly impacted by your work is willing to help you.

How have you grown the email list?

Our email list is currently at around 44,000 subscribers and is one of our primary means of driving traffic to the site.

We’ve tried all sorts of things with the list including 3x weekly newsletter, daily newsletter, and—what we do now—a once-a-week round-up newsletter.

Email list growth will almost never happen organically. Give people a reason to subscribe to your list. Offer them a lead magnet that is actually valuable and then deliver real value whenever you send your email. Utilize your email software to segment your list to deliver the right resources to the right people and build rapport with each individual.

If you want your list to grow, you have to give it a lot of attention and be constantly strategizing new ways to gain subscribers. But it’s worth it. An email subscriber is far more valuable than a Facebook like or a Pinterest follower.

How do you write great content that performs well?

I don’t write a ton of the content on the blog these days. Primarily, we host freelancers and solopreneurs in the trenches who want to share their stories and expertise.

But the content that always performs the best (1) tells a great story and (2) delivers a ton of valuable answers to questions our readers have.

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?

Because my blog was a side-hustle for so many years, most of my biggest challenges had to do with time management. I wasn’t able to grow as quickly as I had wanted because my job and family often had to take priority. Even today, as I’m now full-time on the blog, the biggest challenge is not having enough hours in the day to accomplish everything I dream about doing.

Additionally, the site was hacked in 2013 pretty maliciously and it took upwards of a month to recover. So that was awful. Having team members leave with short notice and publishing or sending something that really upsets our audience are all common struggles.

If I had to start over now (which I’ve done in other niches) I’d focus on the high-revenue tactics first. Building a blog is definitely not the fastest path to revenue. So if you’re looking to actually make profits fast from your business, consider other options. But blogging is definitely one of the most fun and most rewarding ways to make money.

Have you found anything particularly helpful or advantageous?

One book that changed how I thought about everything regarding entpreneurship was Chris Guillebeau’s book The Art of Non-Conformity. His follow-up book, The $100 Startup is also a must-read for any bootstrapper or solopreneur.

I also use some really excellent tools to manage the team and blog and to grow revenue.

A few include:

  • CoSchedule
  • Slack
  • Reply.io
  • Trello

And also, a ton of success of any kind depends immensely on luck. But you create opportunities for luck the harder you work and the more often you show up to the get the work done.

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

Focus on distribution. Even if you have the best writing in the world, if you don’t have a way to get it in front of people, you’ll never see any real traction.

This could mean guest blogging, building a Facebook group, or partnering with other bloggers in more creative ways.

But don’t spend years writing to no one as so many bloggers do. Get smart about building a distribution strategy and spend way more time on that than you do on your writing.

Where can we go to learn more?

You can find everything we produce at Millo.co. Including our newsletter, podcasts, blog, free guides, free FB group and more. You can also search “millo” or “milloteam” on most social platforms or in Apple Podcasts to find us there.

Shannon O’Donnell of A Little Adrift

4 weeks ago in Interviews

Find out how Shannon O’Donnell, a wannabe actress turned a world-traveler. Shannon has been in the blogging world for more than decade, and there are a lot of golden nuggers in this interview.

Revenue of $2,000/mo

Email list size of 10,000

Founded in 2008

 

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

Way back in 2006 I was a wannabe actress living in Los Angeles and working so that I could do auditions and afford to live in such an expensive city. After a couple of years, I decided to take my online job and work from the road. I set off to a round the world trip in 2008 and I started A Little Adrift that same year.

My blog, A Little Adrift, started as an amalgam of advice and narrative, and has largely stayed the same over the years, even if the quality of both has improved. My goal has always been to give other travelers the information and advice they need to travel the world, and to inspire them through stories and photography.

In more recent years, my blog and my brand focuses on responsible tourism and showing travelers how we can use travel use travel as a force for good. I have a sister site to A Little Adrift that is a more granular focus on that topic, Grassroots Volunteering, while my main blog is more about narrative and stories of why this type of travel is so important.

The combination of practical advice and personal stories has worked well over the years and my sites—while not the most highly trafficked by any means—have gained traction and allowed me to further a broad range of goals even outside of blogging: speaking, books, and tourism development consulting work.

What motivated you to get started with the blog?

When I started my blog in 2008, I was among the first wave of travel bloggers and there just wasn’t much information out there for people planning this type of long-term travel. And for those working on the road? Hah! The world “digital nomad” didn’t exist yet. The handful of other travel bloggers shared “dear mom” type entries about their trips, not advice about if I would have internet in India (it was touch and go) and what it was like as a solo female traveler.

My blog was a way for me to document everything I learned and share it for those who came after. It was seemingly simple things that really motivated me to launch A Little Adrift—I couldn’t find a single packing list for long-term travel. Not a single one existed outside of fragmented advice in travel forums. And as I figured out how to file my taxes, replace lost debit cards, and really just live on the road, I developed the type of resources for world travelers that I wished had existed in 2008.

Along the way, I will confess that my online work certainly helped me grow A Little Adrift in those early years. I worked remotely in online marketing and SEO at the time (and for the first four years of my travels), which gave me a leg up since all of those “how to build your blog” websites also didn’t really exist in 2008. 🙂

I was in a unique position with my website (and am still to an extent) in that I never needed it to make money. I have never treated it like a full-time business and I absolutely benefited from having an early mover advantage—there is no way that my blog would have stood out if I launched today and put in a similar amount of effort. It takes a lot more work to make a successful blog now.

What is the revenue model for the blog?

My site has never offered advertising or sponsored content, so the only way it’s directly monetized is through affiliate marketing, and even that is done with a pretty light touch. I am ruthlessly committed to only reviewing and/or linking to things that I actually use.

Affiliate links became a way to monetize content that I had already generated. Since I had a packing list on my site, I swapped out those same links to Amazon ones. Likewise, I reviewed my travel insurance in the early days and then joined the World Nomads affiliate program to earn a small commission from my recommendation.

'My site has never offered advertising or sponsored content, so the only way it’s directly monetized is through affiliate marketing, and even that is done with a pretty light touch.'Click To Tweet

I would say this swapping of links happened likely about four years after I started the website, but I’m not entirely sure. I think I started making over the USD $1,000 mark in 2015, and it wasn’t because of anything I had done special—a Google algorithm change helped my site and boosted a couple of key pages to the top of the search results, and that boost still accounts for most of income.

For personal reasons, I virtually stopped blogging from mid-2014 until just this year, updating the site just a handful of times during that time. Right now I average $2,000 a month, but I don’t think that accounts for the hosting costs and such—that’s probably not pure income.

So, in addition to the small revenue opportunities on my site, I always wanted my blog to showcase my work and position me within the space so that I could generate offline opportunities. I currently make money from consulting and speaking, all of which come from the reputation I’ve gained through website (and getting National Geographic Traveler of the Year in 2013 didn’t hurt).

I would say that I make perhaps $25,000 average from that. And then I write about travel for some outlets and likely earn that same amount, $25,000. I also still keep one foot in the online marketing world and have an employee working in an entirely non-travel field, and so that earns me some income, too.

I call myself the reluctant entrepreneur because I am fairly terrible at all of it. I don’t run the website like a business, and that has been a downfall of making the site into more. I love the sustainable tourism development consulting that I do now, and that’s taken my focus, but I could surely make A Little Adrift earn more passive income if I started running it more regularly.

Instead, I am writing another book and sort of letting the website’s existing extensive resources and stories keep it chugging along. So my advice for others is to treat it like a business if you want to earn more, but also don’t discount the value in creating an offline brand and reputation—this is where I make most of my money and it’s something that no Google or Facebook algorithm change can take from me.

What are some strategies you have used for building up the traffic?

Oh man, this is tough because I already admitted to my early-mover advantage. When Is started, the travel blogging community commented on each others’ blogs and we all hung out on this newfangled thing called Twitter and it was grand fun—we grew our sites with the growth of social media. That’s how I did it, I was on social media when others weren’t yet on there, and those who came later followed.

In addition, I do SEO for a living so I have ruthlessly ensure that I follow the best SEO practices for years. It’s the one area that I treated with business-like focus—always maintain good SEO practices, keywords, titles, and a clean site. I may not have been building traffic for a business, but I knew that doing a little bit every day on every post would help my website in the long run.

I have no marketing efforts. I write and share things I love. Some people find that content, some people jibe with the message, and my community continues to grow. This works because it’s the only part I still love after nearly ten years of blogging—I get to help inspire people to travel better. It’s what keeps me motivated to run the site and if you’re not authentically presenting something you’re passionate about, I think people will know that. You’ll lose steam, but even more, you won’t inspire people to join your community.

How have you grown the email list?

My newsletter service costs too much money so I regularly dump people from my email lists to stay below 10,000 subscribers. If it creeps too high, I go in and delete anyone who didn’t open the last missive. That’s terrible business practices, particularly in a world where everyone wants a bigger list, but what they don’t tell you is that it’s a LOT of money to store those email addresses!

That said, email is the single best way to communicate with your audience. It’s the only place where the internet gods—Google, Facebook, Instagram Twitter—can’t mess with the algorithm and make you pay to reach your audience. It’s for this reason that I still keep the email list and pay every month. The people on that list (which, incidentally has a high open rate since I prune it so much), are my tribe and when I come up with new projects (like the book I am writing about travel as a force for good), they will support me.

How do you write great content that performs well?

I write useful content that is more in-depth than anything else out there. I see bloggers writing flimsy travel guides to cities and wondering why they don’t get more traffic, and the answer is quality. I may not have the most readers (about 66K pageviews per month), but those who stick around know that I am going to answer their every question and really help them solve their travel dilemma. I wrote a post in 2009 that has had millions of readers and it performs SO well in search because it’s good… even more, it’s great.

My post about round the world travel costs is thorough, full of resources, and useful. It’s bookmark worthy. Same thing with my Cost of Living Guides for digital nomads and my guides for responsible travelers—these are resources made for people to use. They are not just an SEO play, they are pieces of content that I thought needed to exist in the world so people could travel better.

If you don’t have pieces like that on your site, then you probably don’t deserve the traffic you crave. There’s a lot of information online, your job is to present a unique view and be helpful. People go to Google with a question, and if you don’t have a really great answer, one that is worthy of ranking first, then you know why you’re not getting traffic.

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?

Staying motivated to continue in a crowded market is difficult. There are so many travel bloggers now that I can’t even name most of them. I used to know every single one and called them my friend. It’s harder now that the community is huge to feel like you are a part of it, and to not compare with others.

I dropped out of the industry for a few years mostly because of the seismic shifts travel blogging experienced—it was no longer fun, it was something everyone was doing for money. I don’t run my site for that purpose and I don’t want too, so I had to step away and regain the perspective on why I run my site when there is clearly no longer a need for something as mundane as a packing list.

I’ve regained that perspective now, but it’s hard to stay motivated in a crowded space, so my advice for new bloggers is to find your community and rise with them. Lean on those bloggers for support, and make them more than just another chance to network, and instead make them your friends—it’s the only way I’ve seen people survive long-term, is when they have a community around them to weather the ups and downs of our changing industry.

Have you found anything particularly helpful or advantageous?

I consider it an advantage that I have never gone the route of sponsored posts and such, although I don’t fault those who have. But as I look for partnerships with for my new book, I have a blank slate of opportunities and no past conflicts of interest to consider.

I also regularly speak at colleges and high schools, so the tone and decisions I have made on my site have also allowed me to create a brand that can easily fit in the offline world and mesh well with the type of work I enjoy (my last project was with USAID, so it’s nice that I have an online persona that makes me a candidate for that type of work).

Some bloggers are so focused on making money that they forget the offline world and the standards other companies need. If you curse and are brash and overly opinionated online, it might help your pageviews but limit your future work. That may not matter to many, but offline branding and sponsorships have always been my goal, so I am glad that I played it safe and PC online.

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

As I said, find your community! Make friends, and more than anything make it a business if you want to make money. I benefited from being one of the first, which is the only reason I can get away with running my site this way—if your goal is making money, you’ll need to innovate and connect and find your authentic and unique voice that deserves to stand out in a very, very crowded industry.

Where can we go to learn more?

I run Grassroots Volunteering and A Little Adrift, and you can find me on Instagram, Facebook, Twitter, and the GV Facebook page, too!

Amélie Gagné of Mostly Amélie

2 months ago in Interviews

Mostly Amélie is a travel and lifestyle blog that currently makes $800/mo. In this interview, Amélie dives deep into the mistakes and biggest learning lessons.

Revenue of $800/mo

Email list size of 500

Founded in 2014

 

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

My name is Amélie and I am the founder of the travel and lifestyle blog Mostly Amélie. Mostly Amélie is an inspi­ra­tional blog focused on health-minded vegan travel and conscious living.

I have worked as a travel blogger and influencer for almost four years now. I originally bootstrapped the project in South East Asia with a good buffer of savings before the whole thing started making a small profit and I ran out of my savings.

What motivated you to get started with the blog?

I’d say things happened totally backward for me. If I could go back in time and do things better and in a different order, I most definitely would! Originally, the blog was just a personal diary, like so many backpackers do. I just wanted to document my travel, without any professional blogging ambition behind it.

Eventually though, I started writing about veganism in far-flung destinations and started gaining some momentum and a readership. From then on, I decided to pursue blogging as an actual job, but several things were already done completely wrong by then, haha!

My background is in French Literature, Photography and Graphic Design. I’ve followed a few different paths in University, not really knowing what I wanted to do, and only with blogging did everything finally come full circle and my past study choices could finally be combined and make sense! You really gotta trust in the process sometimes!

I had a pretty comfortable life in Canada prior to all this, working as a graphic designer, but I wasn’t super happy. Now I am broke as hell, but I do what I love and that is all that matters. I wrote a whole blog post about how I afford a life of constant travel that is the single most read article on my blog!

What is the revenue model for the blog?

It took about a year and a half before Mostly Amélie became profitable. It was a very slow process. Before anyone can aspire to make money blogging, there has to be a readership, and people interested in your stories, and for that, there is really no shortcut. Write great content, build a community around your brand, be true to yourself and speak from the heart, this has been my recipe.

My blogging revenues right now resemble something like this:

  • Sponsored / branded content 60%
  • Affiliate marketing 10%
  • Advertising (I use Google Adsense) 10%
  • Social Media posts 10%
  • Guest / Ghostwriting 10%

My monthly earning right now around $800, so it’s a pretty tight budget! I supplement with freelance digital PR, ghostwriting and social media work.

I knew absolutely nothing about blogging prior to getting started and I wish I had done my homework before. A lot of what I have learned has come from online communities, such as Facebook groups where bloggers share their experience. I’ve also attended lots of networking events.

As I previously said, I did things completely backward and never had a strategy per se to begin with. I have no earth-shattering blog hacking tips to share. I just wrote, and wrote, and wrote, and picked up a readership slowly as I went. I guess one thing of value I could say is that it’s important to stick to a niche when you start, otherwise your message is just too broad and diluted to reach any “sticky” audience so to speak.

What are some strategies you have used for building up the traffic?

Parts of my marketing strategy right now include recycling a small part of my income into advertising, optimizing my SEO with good keywords and guest writing for other publications. I also try to be as active as possible on social media as this is where a lot of my traffic comes from.

How have you grown the email list?

One thing I would do differently if I could go back in time is to push email marketing a lot more. We all know how much we’re at the mercy of social media’s constant algorithm changes and lack of transparency, and email marketing is the one tool that you have complete control over.

I’m a very hectic and disorganized person and I’m going to have to admit here that I have never sent out a newsletter in my four years of blogging, despite having grown an email list of over 500 subscribers. Stay tuned, all 500 of you, it’s coming! Thinking of starting a blog? Setting up a newsletter should be one of your top priorities!

How do you write great content that performs well?

There are different schools of thoughts when it comes to defining what “good content” should be for a blog. There are the die-hard SEO people that are all about keyword-optimization and playing by all of Google’s ever-changing rules. And there are the people who think: screw it, just write from your heart and the rest will follow. I like to think I am somewhere in-between these two.

I know my vegan food guides rank really well on Google, so I keep writing them using good keyword optimization and so forth, but I also like to write personal stories that don’t rank so well on Google, but that I know my loyal followers will enjoy reading.

For me it’s important to do both, otherwise blogging just become some weird robotized operation I don’t relate to at all. So beyond the vegan food guides, there is a whole narrative about my life as a travel blogger, with all the ups and downs, the heartbreak, the loss of a family member while abroad, the doubts, and everything in between. I think it’s important to be personable.

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?

I’ve had to migrate my URL at some point after I realized that blogging was going to be a job. Originally it was just a sub-folder of my graphic design portfolio site, but that didn’t really work. Mostly Amélie needed its own URL. So there was a lot of migrating work needing to be done on the back end, and then building back up my domain authority and traffic all over again. For sure, I would do this differently if I could go back in time.

'One thing I would do differently if I could go back in time is to push email marketing a lot more.'Click To Tweet

Apart from that, the biggest challenge I face right now is growth! I am not yet at a place where I can afford to hire some help, yet the amount of work I need to do is often too much for me alone. I know at some point I will have to take the plunge to be able to continue to expand and grow, but it’s a scary step. So right now, it’s a lot of work that I do all on my own. I am certainly very busy!

Where can we go to learn more?

Head over to my blog or connect via Instagram or Facebook.

How To Start a Blog (Step-by-Step Guide)

2 months ago in Blog

Starting a blog is a great way to share your ideas, expertise and make a living online. This step-by-step guide will teach you how to start a blog in less than 30 minutes.

Before we jump in, why should you start a blog?

There’s a lot of reasons, but here are a few popular ones.

  • You can make money blogging. You DON’T have to create the next Google or Facebook to make money online — people across the world have started profitable blogs, ranging from shaving advice to toilet training cats. Most bloggers make money through ads, selling courses, affiliate links and sponsorships. You don’t need to make money to enjoy blogging but whether you make $50/year or $50,000/year, it’s nice to have a hobby that actually pays you back.
  • You’ll inspire others. Blogging is a tool that not only will change your life but changes the life of the people that read your blog. Once in a while, I get emails from readers who tell me that I inspired them to go full-time with their blog. Hearing stories like this makes it all worth it.
  • It’ll serve as a personal journal. In many ways, blogging serves the same purpose in many ways as a personal journal. Your blog becomes a place of reflection as well as a digital record of your life that can be never destroyed or stolen. I love going back to my old posts and see how I’ve changed as a person.

The 7 steps we will cover in this tutorial:

  1. Decide what to blog about
  2. Choose your blogging platform
  3. Sign up with the web host
  4. Install WordPress
  5. Choose a theme/template for your site
  6. Plugins & customizations
  7. Get traffic and monetize your Blog

Don’t worry, we’ll walk through all of it step-by-step!


Step 1: Decide What to Blog About

The best place to start a blog is to ask yourself, what are you passionate about? Is it cooking? Is it online marketing? Is it running? Being a mom? I highly recommend starting a blog around something that you truly care about.

If you start a blog around your passion, you’ll have so more fun working on it and you’ll stay more consistent with your writings long-term. Here’s a list of broad topics to get you thinking:

  • Travel
  • Personal Stories
  • Food
  • Gaming
  • Finance
  • Sports
  • Health and Fitness
  • Beauty and Fashion
  • Personal Development

Maybe you want to go completely different direction. Here are the most popular blog categories:

Don’t over-stress choosing your focus at this point. At this point, just get started and you can easily spread into other areas of interest.

You can experiment with several topics, and see what feels the most natural and matches with your passions.

2. Choose Your Blogging Platform

You need to have blogging software to get started. This blog also runs on WordPress. Why?

Because, WordPress is user-friendly, free, and powerful.

WordPress powers 25% of the World Wide Web, and when it comes to the world’s top million sites, WordPress platform is selected half the time.

Honestly, I’ve worked with a lot of platforms, and it’s flexible and easy to work on.

WordPress also has thousands of themes make your site look top-quality. The only thing you have to worry about is getting a domain name and web hosting.

3. Sign Up With The Web Host 

Web hosting is a service that keeps your site accessible to everyone. Choosing a good host is important because many bad hosts overuse servers to cut costs, which potentially leads to your site being down.

This site runs on SiteGround, and I highly recommend them because,

  1. Their customer service is FANTASTIC. They’re live-chat is available 24/7 and the support team is highly knowledgeable. There have many instances, where I’ve had technical questions and their support has helped me out instantly. 
  2. SiteGround is stable in times of unexpected traffic spikes. One of the worst things that can happen to your blog is if you get a spike traffic and your site goes down completely. With SiteGround this won’t happen. 
  3. Many free add-ons. There are so many free add-ons, but two of my favorite are one-click WordPress install and “Let’s Encrypt SSL” that makes your site more secure and trustworthy.

The bottom line, SiteGround is one of the most trusted web hosting companies, powering millions of websites. They are officialy recommend by WordPress and you’ll get top quality hosting for just $3.95/mo. Their pricing is a steal compared with other web hosts of lesser quality.

Since we’ve partnered up with SiteGround, who gives our reader’s 60% off on web hosting. This is a crazy good deal.

Disclosure: Because I’ve used SiteGround and found their hosting great, all links to SiteGroundare referral links. I’ll earn a commission if you make a purchase and you’ll get a discounted price. This is how I keep BlogProfits up and running.

Now, go to www.SiteGround.com and click on the “Get started now” button. Use this link to get 60% off.

On the next screen, you’ll be able to choose your plan. StartUp and GrowBig are most popular.

Next, you’ll be able to choose a domain name.

It might take a bit of time and effort to find the right blog name, but it’s worth the thought. Here are a few tips that help with naming your blog.

  • Choose .com extension over others (If you really love the domain name, feel free to go with .co; .net or .org)
  • Most one word domains are taken, so aim for 2-3 words since it’s easier to remember it
  • Avoid numbers and hyphens
  • Try to use keywords that possibly represent what your blog is about
  • Consider using your personal name or a variation of it

Once you choose your domain name, uncheck the extras since you can always get them later if needed.

Afterward, you’ll fill up your personal information and you are set.

Once ready, you’ll get a confirmation email with all of your details that you’ll be able to log-in to your web hosting control panel (cPanel).

Step 4: Install WordPress

Once you log-in to your cPanel you’ll see a lot of icons, which most of them you’ll never end up using. At the top, you’ll see AutoInstallers section where you can click on the WordPress icon.

It takes less than 30 seconds to get WordPress installed. Once it’s ready, you’ll see a screen with your WordPress login URL and password. You’ll be able to log-in to your dashboard at http://yoursite.com/wp-admin/

Step 5: Choose a Theme/Template for your site

At this point, your site looks very basic and similar to everyone else. Customizing the look and feel of the blog is one of the most fun parts of starting a blog.

You can change your theme by going to your WordPress dashboard and on the right side clicking on Appearance » Themes.

You’ll see thousands of free themes from the dashboard. If you want to go for a different look, I highly recommend heading over to ThemeForest, where you’ll find a HUGE collection of themes at varying costs.

If you are just starting off, I’d honestly spend some time going through the free themes, since you’ll be able to find some amazing gems.

Once you’ve found a theme you like simply click “Install” followed by “Activate”.

Step 5. Creating Your First Blog Post

To create your first blog post, head over to the left side and click on the Posts » Add New in your dashboard.

Once you’re ready to publish, just hit the “Publish” button.

Step 6. Plugins & Customizations

There are 45,000+ WordPress plugins available that allow you add extra functionality to your site. You can easily add features like contact forms, galleries, sliders, etc.

You can add plugins by going to Plugins » Add New in your dashboard.

Here are 3 plugins that are crucial.

  • Yoast SEO for WordPress: If you want to make your site more SEO friendly, this plugin takes care of title tags, meta descriptions and more.
  • Google Analytics: With this handy plugin, you’ll be able to track your visitors/traffic by connecting with your Google Analytics account.
  • Contact Form 7: Set up pretty contact forms, so people will be able to fill a contact form without having to log into their own email provider.

That’s just tip of the iceberg!

7. Get Traffic and Monetize Your Blog

Some bloggers make insane amounts of money directly from their blogs. Some people monetize their blogs through Google Adsense, others sell courses and some are just earning passive revenue through affiliate links.

If you want to build a successful blog, it starts with great content that provides value to the reader. Make your content scannable with headings, short paragraphs, and high-quality images. It’s a good idea to make writing a habit and stick to a publishing schedule. It could be one article a week, it could be one article a month. Whatever it is, try to be consistent as possible.

For now, here are some tips to get started promoting your blog:

  • Set up an opt-in to collect email addresses of your visitors
  • Answer questions on Quora and link back to your blog
  • Post and promote on relevant subreddits
  • Write guest posts for other blogs
  • Leverage SEO
  • Republish your content on bigger sites

There are a lot of marketing tactics, but the key is to pick a few that work well and practice them constantly.

Next Steps To Take:

  1. Head over to SiteGround and get your blog setup
  2. Spend some time choosing a theme and getting the look you want
  3. Write your first blog post (it could be a post about introducing yourself to the readers and topics you are planning to cover on your blog

Brok Webb of Full Time Job From Home

2 months ago in Interviews

Brok Webb of Full Time Job From Home blog helps people find ways to make money from home.

Revenue of $16,000/mo

Email list size of 13,400

Founded in 2013

 

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

My name is Brok, and I run a blog called Full-Time Job From Home that I started in December of 2013 to help others find ways to make money from home.

My site includes information on ways to earn extra income, make money blogging, and where to find work from home jobs.

In January 2018, I had my highest earning month ever $13,841.39.

What motivated you to get started with the blog?

The main reason I started Full-Time Job From Home was that I ran into a few online scams. I lost money and didn’t get paid what I earned from a few sites, so I felt like others must be getting scammed too!

During my search for ways to make money online, I came across a training course that taught you how to build websites and make legitimate money with them.

I knew that I had experience getting scammed, so a blog about avoiding online scams and finding legitimate opportunities was a perfect niche for me!

What is the revenue model for the blog?

My blog makes money with affiliate marketing, ad revenue, and a few sponsored posts here and there. My primary source of income is affiliate marketing, specifically CPA offers for free sites/apps. 

It took me about three months to make a legitimate affiliate sale on my website. I earned a few cents here and there from Adsense before, but I made an $8 affiliate sale in my third month of blogging. Within a year I was making around $1,000. By the end of 2016 I was making around $4,000-$5,000, and since November 2017 I’ve made over $10,000 a month with my blog!

My advice when it comes to monetizing your blog is to focus on affiliate marketing. A lot of blogs focus on ad revenue, but I’ve found affiliate marketing to be more lucrative by a long shot!

Ad Revenue is based on traffic and page views, meaning you need more traffic to earn more with ads. With affiliate marketing this is not always the case. Adding new affiliate links to a page that’s already receiving traffic can cause an immediate bump in income, without receiving more traffic!

What are some strategies you have used for building up the traffic?

The training course that I originally took to learn how to start a blog is called Wealthy AffiliateTheir training focuses on SEO and receiving free traffic from Google aka Organic Search Traffic.

For that reason, from the beginning, most of my focus has been on targeting low competition keywords and writing SEO optimized reviews and posts.

It’s not as easy as posting on social media when it comes to receiving your first blog visit, but the benefit of getting ranked well in Google is long-term traffic.

Similar to how quickly I made my first sale, I started to receive a few visits a day in my second month of blogging. From there it just continued to snowball until I had several pages ranking well in Google. One day last month I received over 11,609 visitors from organic search.

I just checked Google Analytics today, and 593 of the 700 posts on my blog have brought in organic search traffic over the last week, so as you can see, my blog ranks pretty well!

Other than organic search, I started using Pinterest in 2014; it fits my niche very well. The whole key to Pinterest is group boards. It lets you post to a bigger audience then you have so it’s an easy way to drive a lot of traffic to your site.

I also use Facebook, but I’ve been so successful on Pinterest that I don’t focus much on Facebook.

My advice to new bloggers is to focus on ranking well in Google. A lot of bloggers shy away from it because of the scary term SEO, but it’s relatively easy to understand. Target low competition keywords in your posts, and you’ll be set up with a solid foundation to receive organic search traffic down the road. You need to remember that you’re building an online business. Long-term success is what you’re looking for, and you can do that by ranking well in search engines!

How have you grown the email list?

At this time my email list is about 13,400. I’ve grown my list by offering a free bonus. It’s how to make $10 online today. If they subscribe, I send them the link to the post where I explain how it can be done.

'Your free bonus needs to get them to enter their email, and it needs to provide enough value that they continue to read your emails.'Click To Tweet

I’ve found that lightbox opt-ins work best. Yes, they are annoying, but they convert much better than an opt-in on the sidebar or below a post.

I recommend using a lightbox that shows after a minute or two and when someone goes to exit the page.

When a new email subscriber signs up, they will get an email each day for a week talking about a new way to earn money from home.

After the seven days of daily emails, they will receive my weekly newsletter plus any emails I send out about special offers, sales, and jobs hiring now.

My advice on growing a list is simple. You must provide a bonus that provides value. Your free bonus needs to get them to enter their email, and it needs to provide enough value that they continue to read your emails.

A bonus that gets an email subscriber and not a long-term reader isn’t worth much.

How do you write great content that performs well?

Let me start off by saying, I don’t like writing, but when covering topics I’m passionate about, for example making money, I get by and can get inspired enough to put out a lot of content!

My process for writing is very simple. I have a template I follow for reviews and list posts, which makes up about 99% of my blog posts.

'Your whole focus at the beginning should be creating new content and getting more visitors to your site.'Click To Tweet

In my niche, most of the time writing is researching the site and then giving your opinion on it, so I won’t bore you with details on that.

One thing that sets my blog apart from a lot of the blogs in my niche is keyword research and targeting keywords throughout my blog posts, specifically in the headings.

It comes back to SEO and setting yourself up to rank well in Google. Make sure you’re using keywords throughout your posts, but don’t forget, your #1 priority is informing your reader.

Find a style that works for you and stick with it. The truth is the process of creating content is rinse and repeat in most cases. Find out what works for you and keep at it.

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?

By far the biggest challenge I’ve had while blogging is I don’t really like to write lol. I’ve become very efficient at it over the last 5 years, but it’s not something I would do for fun in my free time. This causes me to go through spurts where I don’t do much work on my site because I don’t feel like writing. Which leads me to what I’d do differently.

If I had to start over the one thing that I’d change is not putting money back into my business sooner. I’ve been making a decent income ($4,000+ Month) for three years now and not until a few months ago was I spending more than $400 to keep my site going.

Over the last few months, I’ve really invested money into hiring writers and freelancers in the areas that I’m not that great at.

If you want to grow your blog into a huge full-time income, don’t be afraid to invest in others. It turns out there’s a lot of people out there that are better at parts of your business than you!

Have you found anything particularly helpful or advantageous?

I’ve taken several courses over the last 5 years just to get new opinions on the process of blogging, but I always come back to the core of my blogging knowledge which I learned at Wealthy Affiliate.

I also use several paid blogging tools such as Thrive Themes/Plugins, Aweber, BoardBooster, Tailwind, etc.

If you find a tool that is helpful, pay for it. As your business grows, the time saved is well worth the money.

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

If you have no experience and don’t know how to start a blog, I’d recommend checking out the course I mentioned earlier, Wealthy Affiliate. If you already have a blog going, you can still learn a lot from the course so you might want to check it out either way.

With that being said, once you understand how blogging works, it’s a simple process of rinse and repeat.

Most of your time when starting out should be producing new content. As a new blog, you need content to drive traffic to your site, gain the trust of your reader, and build authority in your niche.

A lot of new bloggers get caught up with what theme to use or making their blog look exactly how they want. The truth is, it doesn’t matter that much or at all in the beginning.

Your whole focus at the beginning should be creating new content and getting more visitors to your site.

Keep in mind that blogging for an income does not happen overnight, a few days, or for some even a few months. No blogger has ever failed to make money they just gave up before they did!

Where can we go to learn more?

Connect with me on Full Time Job From Home blog; Pinterest or Facebook.

Annette White of Bucket List Journey

2 months ago in Interviews

Annette White is the person behind Bucket List Journey, a blog about documenting her journey on checking the world off her bucket list, one adventure at a time. Even though she works on the blog part-time, it brings in $4,500/mo in revenue.

Revenue of $4,500/mo

Email list size of 4,200

Founded in 2009

 

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

Hello! I’m Annette, I’m the creator of the award-winning travel and lifestyle blog, Bucket List Journey which began in 2009. I’m also the author of the book Bucket List Adventures and co-owner of the restaurant Sugo Trattoria.

The mission of my blog is to give every person in the world the tools and inspiration to live their bucket list — one checkmark at a time. My readers come from all over the world and typically are people who want to step out of their comfort zone, travel the world and/or live their bucket list.

I currently make around $4,500 per month running my blog part-time. There is no doubt that I could earn more if I went to full-time, but I also have a restaurant to run!

What motivated you to get started with the blog?

Initially, I was simply looking for a place to record my ever-growing bucket list and its progress. The pieces of scrap paper and random Internet files were getting out of control, so I decided to condense my dozens of notes into a blog. As time went on, the blog changed from being just a practical list-keeping spot to being a place for readers to get inspiration for their own bucket lists.

I went to college for a Communications degree, but really had little training in writing or blogging (though I’ve always loved bucket lists!). Luckily, I am a great researching and was able to find most of what I know now online.

I come from a long line of restaurateurs and, to no one’s surprise, in 1998 followed in the family footsteps by buying a little deli. Since there have been two more restaurant ventures and when I started Bucket List Journey I was the co-owner of my current restaurant Sugo Trattoria, a Michelin recommended Italian eatery located in my hometown of Petaluma, California. Throughout my food career, there was also something else tugging at my heart: the desire to travel the world and have new experiences. In 2009 I began to follow this passion by vowing to never let fear make my decisions for me and to start living my bucket list. One blog, 50 countries and a book later, I have successfully created a second career surrounded by everything I adore.

What is the revenue model for the blog?

As they say, “don’t put all your eggs in one basket”, so there are a few ways I earn money from the blog. About 50% comes from an ad network who places advertising on my blog, the rest is split up between brand partnerships, affiliates and sponsored content.

It was fairly recently that I started to go full-force with monetizing my blog, within the last 3 years. Before that, I make a few bucks here and there from Amazon and a couple sponsored posts. Now I concentrate on choosing great affiliate programs and creating content surrounding them. Also, a huge focus is keeping my blog numbers up (and consistently growing) so that I can earn more from my ad network.

One of my biggest mistakes I made when I began blogging was to not treat it like a business. If you plan on turning your blog into a career, you need to treat it like one. Also, you need to invest in your business. It would be hard to be in the place I am now without having spent some money on blogging guides, freelancers, marketing, etc.

What are some strategies you have used for building up the traffic?

Today, I’m getting around 250,000 unique visitors per month to the blog. In the beginning, I concentrated on commenting on blogs in my niche, networking with others, social media and an occasional guest post. This all grew my blog numbers very slowly.

Today, things have changed a bit. Currently, most of my efforts go into performing proper SEO on all my posts so that they rank in Google (and this is where most of my traffic comes from). By creating great content with information that people need, and then using SEO techniques, my blog numbers have grown continuously. Also, if it is possible, I never turn down the opportunity to do an interview—it doesn’t matter the size of the website’s audience. It’s not only a great way for people to learn more about you, but it also gives you a link back to your site and can be promoted on your social media channels to show authority.

My advice for aspiring bloggers would be to put your efforts into one or two efforts at a time. Master those techniques and then move onto another. Sometimes when you are trying to do it all, your efforts won’t be focused enough to get the return that you want.

How have you grown the email list?

My email list has just over 4,000 subscribers and, in all honesty, I do not put enough effort into growing or maintaining the list. There is a signup on the sidebar of my website, which brings a few subscribers per day, but my goal this year is to create a “freebie” ebook or guide to boost more new signups.

My newsletter is sent out monthly(ish). In it, I try to include a more personalized message and exclusive content so that my readers can feel more connected to me.

How do you write great content that performs well?

At this point, I have learned what style articles do well on my site and try to stick within those guidelines. Since my niche under the travel umbrella is bucket lists, most of my posts try to stay within the listicle format.

The posts that do the best for me are typically the ones that are destination bucket lists. Choosing what exactly to write about depends on my current clients, destinations that I’ve recently visited, inspirational content and/or keywords that will have a better chance of ranking.

My process is to pick a topic, find the appropriate keywords, write up an outline, add my personal notes to it and then send it to my freelance writers for extra research and cleaning up. Once they return it to me, I will add more personalized information, and set it up in WordPress with photos and proper formatting.

'If you are not truly passionate about your topic, not only will readers see right through your articles, it will be tortuous every time you sit down at the computer to create a new post.'Click To Tweet

The biggest lesson that I have learned about writing content that performs well is to stay consistent and fill the needs of your reader. Most people come to blogs for information, so your post must answer their questions.

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?

There have been so many mistakes and lessons learned along the blogging path. For example, when I first started I named my blog “mslistologist.com”. What the heck does that even mean? And who knows how to spell it? It took a couple years of people asking me to repeat the name and learning that having the term ‘bucket list’ in my URL would be beneficial before finally changing it. It was tricky, but I noticed an almost immediate jump in traffic once I did.

Also, in the beginning, I was so excited that anyone would want to work with me that I accepted partnerships with companies that were not in my niche or did not align with my brand. It would be like my Italian restaurant having a burrito on the menu!

One other thing that stands out is that I would always analyze the techniques of bloggers who were uber-successful, but this became very discouraging because I never thought I could possibly catch up to their level. Instead, I began to pick blogs that were only a step or two above me, this made it seem more feasible to reach their status, which kept me motivated.

Have you found anything particularly helpful or advantageous?

Making a few close blogger friends, ones who will honestly share their struggles, techniques and triumphs, has been incredibly helpful. With that said, I have learned a little something from just about every blogger I have met.

It was also extremely beneficial to build myself as an authority in my field. I’ve done much of this through interviews, campaigns, commercials and collaboration posts. Plus, it has helped partnering with companies who are recognizable to my readers instead of ones who are up-and-coming (not to say some of those aren’t great too!).

One of the best blogging habits I have is to make a TODO list every day. Even on the days where it’s hard to find the time, I put some tiny goal on it. This helps me to stay on track and keep moving forward. I am one of those people who really doesn’t believe too much in luck, I think that the success of my blog has been earned by hard work, determination, passion and persistence.

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

There are a million bloggers out there (literally!) and a significant chunk of them focus on travel, so in order to stand out amongst the crowd pick a sub-niche under the travel blogging realm. This could mean specializing in a particular country or solely on family adventure or luxury destinations.

Whatever you choose, make sure you know you’re going to absolutely love writing about it. Maintaining a successful blog takes dedication and many hours of work per week. If you are not truly passionate about your topic, not only will readers see right through your articles, it will be tortuous every time you sit down at the computer to create a new post.

Also, read as much as you can in the beginning and throughout your blogging career. At least once a month I Google something like “how to have a successful blog” and read all the newest articles. You’ll start to see a lot of the information overlapping and that’s what you should focus on.

Where can we go to learn more?

Head over to my blog, Instagram, Twitter or Facebook.

Eric Lass of ShuckaBuck

2 months ago in Interviews

In this interview, Eric Lass from ShuckaBuck talks about the importance of focus and why most people fail with their projects. Find out how he went from 0 to $10,000/mo!

Revenue of $10,000/mo

Email list size of 2,500

Founded in 2008

 

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

My name is Eric and I run ShuckaBuck. The people who read it are interested in learning how to start a business (specifically a merch business) and build from it so one day they can quit the 9 to 5.

I started my blog in 2008, which at that time was all about online poker. But when the U.S. government shut that down for us, it was pretty much game over for me.

But I actually started about 60 different niche websites and all of them were affiliate-based as far as monetization goes. So I was doing search engine optimization (SEO) for all these different sites and niches from 2008 until about 2012. When Google did some algorithm updates and all my sites tanked, I pretty much gave up on doing SEO.

From about 2012 until now I’ve been working on a number of things. Specifically, I started playing around with paid advertising – Google and Facebook. I realized I could get email subscribers for less than $0.20 each using Facebook, so I dove into building an email for fiction readers.

This was about the time that the Kindle device started taking off, and I knew a lot of these ebooks were free for a limited number of days. I actually dabbled in creating ebooks before I started this site, so I knew how it all worked as an author. The sites grew to about 60,000 subscribers before I sold both of them in 2014 for $40,000.

From there I went into e-commerce, mainly selling on Amazon via their Fulfillment by Amazon program. I invested about $3,000 into inventory, but it didn’t sell as fast as I thought and basically wasted an entire year and all my savings before calling it quits.

While I was running the Kindle book recommendation websites, I ran into what is called “Print on Demand” products. You could upload an image and put it on t-shirts, hoodies, coffee mugs, etc. So I used my Facebook ad experience and started selling t-shirts and hoodies on these sites. To date, I’ve made well into the 6 figures doing this.

I also run a small ad agency where I generate leads and new clients for small businesses. I figured with my ad skills it was well worth my time to manage ad campaigns for other people.

Between all my businesses, I make 5 figures a month.

What motivated you to get started with the blog?

My motivation came from within – I was utterly bored and depressed with my day job(s) after graduating from college in 2006. I’ve always run some sort of “business” per say and always knew that I didn’t want to work for someone else.

For example, while attending college, I sold a small ebook on eBay for $10 a pop that taught people how to get things like gaming systems and gift cards for free. You use “freebie” sites and get referrals to sign up for advertiser offers (that were either free to join, or very little money). Once you had so many referrals, you’d get to pick your “prize”. And the way I got my referrals was through that ebook, that I sold for $10…it paid for beer money.

After college, I worked for 3 different companies in 4 years. I managed a retail store, I worked for a fortune 500 finance company (now out of business – the bailouts of 2008), and then worked part-time for a while for Kmart.com and Sears.com.

At all these jobs, I hated my life. So my motivation to start came from being depressed and wanting to be happy.

What is the revenue model for the blog?

The revenue from my blog by selling products and services, just like any other business.

I teach people how to use Facebook ads to generate leads and sales. I have 2 main products that I sell:

  1. The 20K Blueprint – A “mini video course” on how to get started selling print on demand products
  2. The ShuckaBuck Academy – My ongoing video training on how to start a business using print on demand and up to date marketing tactics and tips

I also offer 1-on-1 consulting for local businesses and individuals looking to grow their business using Social Media and digital advertising. 

What are some strategies you have used for building up the traffic?

I use 2 strategies to get traffic to my blog: Facebook Ads and Youtube.

Like I’ve said, I’m out of the SEO game for now, but I’m sure some of the traffic I get comes from Google. But for the most part I create videos on youtube and ad on Facebook.

Facebook ads work because you can see the data almost immediately when it comes in. So I can set up an ad targeting people who are interested in marketing or online business, get them to sign up for a free offer (usually free video training) and then send them emails over time to have them get to know who I am and how I can help them.

Youtube is awesome. You can still get traffic for free there just by uploading videos that actually help people. My best video is one where I go through how I made $20,000 in 8 weeks selling t-shirts – it gets about 500 views every day, even 2 years later.

How have you grown the email list?

Similar to the last question: Facebook ads and Youtube.

My email list is only about 2,500 people as I write this, but I do have another 1,000 people subscribed to my messenger list, over 1,500 people in my Facebook group, another 2,000 like my Facebook page and over 9,000 Youtube subscribers.

The type of content I produce and share are all about marketing and running an online business focusing on Facebook Ads and print on demand.

My advice for new people starting from scratch is to just put out content. Document what you’re doing and how you do it and show your results – good or bad.

If you’re running an eCommerce business, talk about things inside your niche (think “how to train your dog” type stuff). It doesn’t have to be youtube, you can start a podcast or write long-form posts on Instagram, Facebook, and your own blog.

If you have a budget, definitely promote your best content (video or written) on Facebook. You can spend $5 a day and have good results from it.

How do you write great content that performs well?

The only content I actually write is what I post on Instagram and Facebook. Those posts are 200 to 400 words long and they do get some decent engagement, especially on Instagram.

That content is mostly inspirational and lesson based. Lessons on what I’ve learned in 10 years of doing business online.

The other content I produce is video. What I do there is document. I talk about what I do and how I do it. I get video ideas from the questions I get in the comments of the videos and I also watch other people in my space and see what they’re doing and what’s working for them to get inspiration from.

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 biggest challenge I’ve faced is coming up with a strategy that works and sticking to it. Yes, I’ve had “mini failures” like trying a new Facebook Ad strategy or trying a different type of post on social media or a new traffic strategy. But the biggest thing is to actually fail.

'Choose something you enjoy. If you like skateboarding, start taking videos and writing content around skateboarding. If you enjoy painting, start making content around that.'Click To Tweet

Failure is a big part of the business because you not only need to know what doesn’t work, but you have to learn from those mistakes and if you stick to it long enough it will work out.

If I had to start over, I probably wouldn’t do anything particularly different. If I could go back in time and tell my 2008 self what to do, it would be FOCUS.

The biggest mistakes I’ve made in the last 10 years is focusing on too many things. If you’re working on 9 projects or 3 projects, none of them will ever amount to anything spectacular…if they work out at all.

The other big mistake I’ve made is focusing on the wrong thing. What’s the wrong thing? Thinking transactional rather than trying to create content, products, and services that will help people.

'If I had to start over, I probably wouldn’t do anything particularly different. If I could go back in time and tell my 2008 self what to do, it would be FOCUS.'Click To Tweet

If your sole purpose is to make money, then you’ll never make it. If your purpose is to help people, the money will come. I wholeheartedly believe that.

Have you found anything particularly helpful or advantageous?

There are tons of tools and software out there to make life easier, of course. For instance, I use HootSuite to schedule my Instagram posts. That way, I take an hour a week and schedule them out. Same for Facebook.

I also use software programs like Photoshop, email marketing services like Aweber, messenger bot programs like Manychat.

All these tools work, if you work. There’s no “secret tool” that will generate visitors, leads, and sales for you. You will always have to put in the work to make that happen.

With that said, partnerships are a powerful thing. The clothing brand FUBU got its break by using what we call now “Influencer Marketing”. The powerful marketing in the history of the world has always been word of mouth. If someone you know, or follow online and trust, recommends something to you-you’re always going to immediately trust that.

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

My suggestion is simple. Choose something you enjoy. If you like skateboarding, start taking videos and writing content around skateboarding. If you enjoy painting, start making content around that.

That’s the easy part. You’re making content around something you enjoy.

The hard part is getting people to watch/listen/read/follow you. And that’s where marketing comes in.

If you have a budget, use Facebook Ads to get more eyeballs on your content. I always suggest, especially right now, that everyone uses Instagram. It’s extremely easy to create a following for free by just posting cool images/videos and using hashtags.

Pinterest, Stumbleupon, and Reddit are also good platforms to post your stuff. And if it works in your niche, start a podcast. Voice and audio are going to be big in the coming years.

And don’t forget to reach out to others in your space and create some partnerships (you share their stuff, they share yours).

Where can we go to learn more?

Read my blog, or connect with me via Youtube, Instagram or Facebook. Thanks for having me on for the interview, if anyone has any questions they can reach me at any of the links above!

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