Suzi Whitford helps women master the world of online bussiness. In this interview, she talks about the “big why” and how it has made all the difference for her blog.
Revenue of $30,000/mo
Email list size of 23,000
Founded in 2012
Hello! What’s your background, and what is your blog about?
Hi there!! My name is Suzi Whitford, and I am the mommy behind Start a Mom Blog. I grew up in South Africa with very humble beginnings. My dad was always very entrepreneurial and started a software company that eventually let our family move to the United States. It was from him that I developed the deep desire to start something for myself!
I studied engineering in college, and was always a computer geek, building websites from scratch – way before I knew about WordPress! After college, I worked at major Fortune 100 companies to improve their processes and become more efficient.
On Start a Mom Blog, I help mommies quickly learn about the online world of business, develop their own voice and niche, and launch a professional blog that is ready to become a business like mine has.
In 2017, my little blog has made over $300,000! It’s been such a blessing to my family and I love my readers so much for it!
What motivated you to get started with the blog?
I started my first blog in 2012 as a simple journal of my wedding, and I had so much fun. I had no idea that little hobby would one day become a business!
When I quit my engineering career to be a full time mommy, I started looking for any way to continue contributing to the family finances. It broke my heart every morning when my husband would leave for work before the baby woke up, and would come home just in time to see her go back to bed… I wanted to bring him home for good!
So I started reselling old items on craigslist, painting peg dolls to sell on Etsy, trying to sell items to Amazon to make a small profit… I even tried trading stocks!!
Nothing was working, and I started to fall into a bit of mommy depression. I was losing the confidence I had when I got dressed up and gave presentations in Corporate America.
My husband heard on a podcast that people were making money from their blogs, and remembered that I kept one years ago. So I started a few different blogs to find out what MY true calling was.
I blogged my journey as a mom, and started to see what my readers were responding too. I found out I’m not funny, I’m not good at being sarcastic, but I’m REALLY GOOD at breaking things down into helpful step-by-step guides.
I knew I wanted to help moms make money online, and I was loving blogging, so I quickly registered the domain startamomblog.com and never looked back!
What is the revenue model for the blog?
I monetize Start a Mom Blog through online courses, ebooks, and affiliate marketing. I still remember when I made my first affiliate commission, my husband and I went out to dinner to celebrate! But it was a slow road.
I started my blog in January 2016, and I made my first $50 through affiliate marketing in April. In July I launched my first ebook, and that month I finally broke through the $1,000 per month mark. I quickly followed the ebook with an online course because I knew that some mommies prefer to follow click by click instead.
The Blog By Number course + ebook started my real journey. I fell in love with helping solve problems, and I loved teaching all the skills I was learning as a blogger.
Fast forward to today, I am making about $30,000 per month through my blog, with roughly 60% coming from my courses and ebooks, and 40% coming from affiliate commissions from the tools that I know, love, and use every day.
For any new bloggers, I definitely recommend that you don’t focus on monetization at first. My entire focus in the beginning was building an email list, and getting to know what my audience needed help with. That way, when I started launching my products, I knew that it was serving a real need.
What are some strategies you have used for building up the traffic?
Pinterest has been a huge driver of traffic for me. I have a blog post that reveals the details behind how I loop my pins, which delivers about 50% of my traffic every month.
My SEO rankings have climbed steadily as my blog content has improved, aged, and as more bloggers are linking back to my content. I definitely recommend the Yoast SEO plugin for WordPress if you want to work on your SEO Rankings.
Youtube has been a nice addition because it allows me to take existing content I have created and repurpose it. For example, I love doing Facebook Lives to help engagement with my audience. So I can take the recording of the lives, and let my husband do a bit of video editing, and upload the same content to Youtube. This one little hack has allowed me to decrease the time I spend answering 1:1 emails, create engaging live content and produce consistent videos on Youtube at the same time.
How have you grown the email list?
I love my email subscribers! It has always been a focus of mine to nurture and grow my list, because these wonderful people are your North Star. They are listening to you, and giving you feedback on your journey. It is very wise to listen to them!
My list is around 23,000 right now, and I send broadcasts weekly at the same time on Monday morning to them. I think it’s so important to keep to a consistent schedule with your audience. Both with your posting schedule, but also with your email broadcast schedule.
I’ve even received emails from my readers that they have their phones in hand at my normal broadcast time waiting for the email to deliver so they can jump into it! That’s the power of consistency!
We use Convertkit, and have been diving into the creation of more advanced workflows using some of their new features. It’s exciting to be able to craft a journey that is relevant and specific to each subscriber.
But it is also easy to dive down into a rabbit hole and spend hours on your automation that you could be spending on customer outreach, content creation, and high-level strategy.
If you are just starting out building your list, I would focus on two main areas.
Number one – experiment experiment experiment with your freebies. You may think you know exactly what your audience needs, and spend days creating a huge freebie. And it falls flat on its face.
Focus on solving a specific problem, and make it easy to digest for your readers. I’ve created tons of freebies, and only about 20% of them really take off. Don’t be sad if a freebie doesn’t perform well. Use that as a lesson to better define your target audience.
Number two – be consistent and respectful of your readers’ time. Don’t blast them multiple times a day. Keep to a schedule that you can maintain and commit to, and you will build up a tribe of loyal followers!
How do you write great content that performs well?
People know to come to my blog if they want quick, clear, step-by-step instructions on how to do something on their blog. It’s what I’m best at, and I know that my mommies are busy with their kids, the laundry, and keeping the house clean – they don’t want to read 10,000 words on how to edit Pinterest images!
And because I keep my list engaged, most of my content comes from my readers. They will ask a very insightful question that I might not have realized before, and it’ll send me down a hunt to find the fastest, most efficient way to accomplish the task.
I also love experimenting in general and learning new techniques. Any discovery I make, I make it public on the blog to help my mommies accomplish their goals with me!
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?
Oh, this is a fun one. I think the biggest struggle I’ve had along the way is keeping myself from playing “the comparison game,” with bigger bloggers. Whenever I would start browsing other blogs, I would find something that they are doing better than me, and I would start to get depressed about it.
This actually turned into a blessing though, because I started to cut off the amount of time I spent on other websites. This kept me focused on creating unique content in my own voice, and prevented that chance of sounding too much like any other blogger.
I also experimented with Facebook Ads without any training, and quickly spent $1,000 to collect a total of 30 leads… just terrible! I’ve brought my husband in to handle paid advertising, and he has started to take to it much better! You might see us on your news feed one day J
Have you found anything particularly helpful or advantageous?
I think the most helpful thing for me has been keeping my “big why,” clear the entire time I’ve been blogging. The “big why,” is that inner fire that motivates you forward every day. That gets you up in the morning at 5am to get 2 hours of blog time in before the kids wake up. That keeps you going even if you get a nasty comment on a post you were very proud of.
For me, my “big why” is to allow my husband to quit his corporate job and stay home with me full time.
If you’re just doing it for the money, you may not have the inner strength to keep going when times get hard. So get clear with why you are doing this. Write it in bold letters on a post-it note and stick it to your monitor.'I think the most helpful thing for me has been keeping my “big why,” clear the entire time I’ve been blogging.'Click To Tweet
Remind yourself of it every day before you start working, and you’ll be able to push through the good times and the bad.
What’s your advice for bloggers who are just starting out?
I tell my new mommy friends the same advice all the time. So many get into “analysis paralysis,” about their blog.
They are afraid that as soon as they hit “publish,” the world is going to see an imperfection and judge them for it. But in reality, the beginning of your blogging career is really just practice.
Practice finding your voice. To find your passion. To find what your superpower is so that you can help the most people possible.
You won’t know your niche on day one. You probably THINK you know your niche, but be open to it changing based on what you enjoy writing about the most, and what your audience responds to the most.
But most of all, my advice can be boiled down to two words. Just Start.
Where can we go to learn more?
I’d love for you all to come check out my blog at Start a Mom Blog.