Caroline Lewis is the person behind Swaddles n’ Bottles, which is is a one-stop spot for all things baby! In the beginning, the blog was just a project that brough her joy but today she makes a full-time income from it.
Revenue of $10,000/mo
Email list size of 7,000
Founded in 2016
Hello! What’s your background, and what is your blog about?
Hi! My Name is Caroline and I’m the mama behind Swaddles n’ Bottles! I live in Houston with my husband and two daughters.
I started Swaddles n’ Bottles just 3 months after my first daughter was born. That was such an interesting and eventful time in my life! I had just become a mother and quit my job to stay at home with baby. One would think that I would have been satisfied with all the challenges that came with my new roles, but I missed something that came with my past life of a working woman.
I missed the challenges. I missed setting goals and striving to reach them. I just missed doing things that made me feel like I was growing and expanding my skillset. I needed to find something to fill this void.
I tried a variety of things. I bought an embroidery machine and decided I would start an Etsy shop (I returned the machine one week later!). Then I thought I could make and sell cute coffee mugs, but quickly realized I did not have the penmanship skills. I went through a series of one failed attempt after another.
In the midst of me feeling completely lost on what I would “do”, I pulled out all of my hand weights and work-out clothes from storage and signed up for some crazy, intense exercise program. I just had this overwhelming feeling of needing to do something just for me. Something that made me feel like I was bettering myself.
Luckily, I didn’t have to exercise for too long. I heard about blogging and knew instantly that was it! Blogging would be the thing I would do for me.
I think my husband was legitimately worried about me when I told him I wanted to start a blog. He knew I had zero experience in the area, but it made me too excited to let the whole “no idea what I’m doing” thing get in the way. I felt so passionate about being able to share my personal journey through motherhood with woman across the country.
That passion kept me going through the ups and downs of those first months. Blogging was a lot of work (and it still is!)! I had so much to learn and everything seemed to really run on a trial and error system for some time. I woke up hours before my baby did each day and went to bed long after she did to work.
But not too long after I started, things started to make sense. I knew where my target audience was hanging out. I knew what problems they were facing and how I could help solve them. I really pinpointed how to best reach them with my promotional strategy. It all just started to click.
Within the first year of my blog launch, I had over 2 million pageviews. I now bring in over $10,000 per month from Swaddles n’ Bottles.
What is the revenue model for the blog?
I monetize Swaddles n’ Bottles through Affiliate Marketing and Ads. I made money the first month I was blogging in both of these areas.
Affiliate marketing has always been such a wonderful concept to me. I am simply promoting products I know, love and am using daily. My favorite and most lucrative program is Amazon Affiliate. Share-a-Sale is a close second. I’ve recently joined LiketoKnow.it am very excited about it! There seems to be a community surrounding the program and I am really looking forward to making the most of it.
My biggest piece of advice for new bloggers or entrepreneurs who want to monetize their blog is to make sure you are working in an area you are passionate about. Don’t try to force yourself into a niche because you believe it will make the most money.
When it comes to making money from ads, I’m a believer that ad income is completely dependent on the network you are part of. I did not trust just anyone with my site when it came to placing ad content. I wanted to be sure it was appropriate and relevant to my audience. I also wanted to find a company who knew the value of my site and passed that a lot to advertisers. It took me a few months to find a network that met all of that criteria, but once I did, the revenue was great!
What are some strategies you have used for building up the traffic?
Pinterest has been my powerhouse source of driving traffic. For every post that I publish, I create 1-3 pinnable images to promote on Pinterest. I use Tailwind to schedule my pins to a large amount of group boards that I am part of. Pinterest has worked so well for me because that is where my target audience is spending a lot of their time. Other social media sites have proven to not be as popular with my niche so I have not invested as much energy into them as I have Pinterest.
I have been doing a lot of work with my SEO tactics lately in order to diversify my traffic. Going back to the fact that I have had no experience in blogging, this was a huge challenge for me and seeing my efforts pay off has been especially rewarding. I would highly recommend Yoast SEO plug in to anyone who is working to improve in this area.
How have you grown the email list?
I have grown my email list to just over 7,000 with opt-in’s! I have found that personalized opt-ins perform much better than a blanket opt-ins.
For example, I have a different opt-in offer for members who read through my breastfeeding articles then those who read through my pregnancy articles. The extra time it takes to create personalized material for the different areas is well worth it.
I send my subscribers what I call “bundle” emails. I like to pick a topic and bundle a few blog posts from Swaddles n’ Bottles that fall under the category. For example: baby on a budget- I have a few posts on how to do this, like top cribs under $250, best discount websites for baby clothes, etc. I think it’s a nice twist to the typical emails they receive, and it has a great success rate!
I have recently moved towards having my emails be more visual than they were in the past. I assumed that if most of my traffic was coming from Pinterest, then my subscribers would most likely respond to images, which they did! I’ve seen a much better click through rate since making an adjustment to 50% text and 50% images!
My biggest advice for new bloggers when it comes to email list is to not wait to start building it. When a reader subscribes, they are giving you an open invitation to contact them in the future. This is huge! Don’t ignore the opportunity to make those types of connections!
How do you write great content that performs well?
Any time I am in need of content inspiration I just really try to think about where I am in my life as a mother and areas I am struggling.
A habit I have had since day 1 is I have never completed a blog post in one sitting. It may sound counter effective, but it’s what works for me! Anytime an idea strikes me, I immediately begin writing. I basically write until it’s all out on the screen. Then I take a break…
I want to ensure what I am sharing is adding value to the readers. I want to ensure I am providing them with information that supports them and helps them if need be. I have personally found that taking time to really let these ideas stew always brings about the best content.
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?
Ohhh this one is hard for me to say… but I so regret not putting building my email list at the top of my priorities from the get go. Once I realized the importance, months and months had passed and I think of all of those readers I missed out on making a further connection with.
I have also really learned how much quality over quantity applies to blog posts. In the beginning I felt like there was a minimum amount of posts I should be publishing each week. I would force myself to write about anything just to get my quota met. This usually led to poor quality material that never did well. I’ve learned that one high quality blog post per month paired with a well thought out promotional strategy will perform better than 4 forced posts.
Have you found anything particularly helpful or advantageous?
Having a habit of setting monthly goals has really helped me. Any blogger out there knows that there always seems to be a never-ending list of things to do: social platforms to join and contribute to, back end technical tasks, collaborations, emails to respond to. Having clear cut goals helps me pinpoint where I need to be spending my time.
More than that, goals should never just be “more money and more pageviews”. Chasing these things will most likely just cause frustration and you will find yourself in an endless cycle of more, more, more. If you focus on building a following and making meaningful connections, you will soon realize you are no longer having to focus so much energy on the numbers, they will just come.
What’s your advice for bloggers who are just starting out?
My biggest advice to new blogger would be to learn from others, but don’t compare yourselves to others.
There are so many bloggers out there have so much to offer when it comes to expertise and experience. You can save yourself a lot of time and failure by education yourself from your blogging peers.'My biggest advice to new blogger would be to learn from others, but don’t compare yourselves to others.'Click To Tweet
However, don’t take their timeframe or level of success and measure yourself against it. We all learn in our own ways and in our own time. As long as you continue to set goals and strive to meet them, you will see your own success.
Where can we go to learn more?
I’d love for you to visit Swaddlesnbottles. if you are a new or expectant mother. If you are a blogger, I share all my strategies also at TheBasicsofBlogging. I’ve recently published Pinning for Pageviews and Mastering Affiliate Marketing, both of which share all the details behind the Swaddles n’ Bottles growth and monetization methods.