Lucrezia Iapichino has been able to scale her blog, Tinylovebug to $1,000/mo in a very short period of time. In this interview, she goes over the biggest learning lessons along the way, and she shares one tactic that has made all the difference.
Revenue of $1,000/mo
Email list size of 300
Founded in 2017
Hello! What’s your background, and what is your blog about?
Hi, my name is Lucrezia and I’m the founder of Tinylovebug. For the past several years, I have worked as a Lawyer, University Lecturer, and Manager in different countries. I’m originally from Italy, I’ve met my Australian husband, Sam in London, and we now live in Melbourne.
I still work full-time but on the side, I blog at Tinylovebug together with my sister, Marina, and my sister-in-law, Emma.
Our blog started as a platform to muse about life and relationships in a humorous way (that’s why the cheesy name, if you were wondering) but over time, it has evolved into much more.
It’s primarily a lifestyle blog targeted at young women but for the past few months we have also offered strategic advice and actionable tips for new bloggers. In September 2017, we started a Facebook Group for New Bloggers, which is a supportive community of over 3.2K awesome bloggers.
So, most of our current traffic is also composed of new bloggers who want to learn how to start a blog and how to make money blogging.
When we first started in June 2017, we had around 1K pageviews in the first month. The following month, we had over 10K and from there our traffic kept growing exponentially. On my birthday (September 6th), we had our first 2K pageviews in a day. I must admit that I was in disbelief but it was a nice birthday present!
However, our traffic has shifted over time due to long vacations without posting and a recent migration from Squarespace to self-hosted WordPress and related domain transfer. Our website was down for DNS propagation and has been “under re-construction” for a few weeks now.
On average, we make $1,000 a month directly via the blog, sometimes a bit less, sometimes more.
What motivated you to get started with the blog?
I started blogging as a creative outlet. I wanted to learn something new and do something fun to keep me busy. My blog is a joint effort with my sister and my sister-in-law and the opportunity to work alongside them on a daily basis makes it even more fun for me.
I don’t blog specifically about my professional expertise; however, I think my background has helped me and influenced my personal way of blogging. I’m a researcher by trade (PhD) and therefore don’t get overwhelmed easily by processing and digesting tons of information.
I came up with the idea of starting a blog around March 2017 and by its launch in June 2017, I had researched extensively, read books, taken courses and learned as much as possible. I have also been a Lecturer for several years so teaching others how to do things in plain English and in a way that is easy to understand to beginners, comes natural to me.
The fact that I have a full-time job and don’t rely on the income from the blog made it easy for me to experiment and take risks. It has also allowed me to take long breaks from posting on my blog travelling without worrying about possible loss of earnings or decrease in blog traffic or revenue due to my inconsistency.
I must say though that even if what motivated me initially wasn’t the possibility to make money blogging (and I still haven’t monetized my blog to its full potential), I have treated it as business from the beginning and invested into it both emotionally and financially since day one.
What is the revenue model for the blog?
We currently make money directly from the blog through display ads, affiliate marketing and sponsored posts. In addition, we’re planning to offer soon our own digital products in the form of e-books and courses.
We started earning money from the blog since the first month ($128 to be exact), and we now average $1000 a month. I would like to note though that we purposely did not monetize our blog to its full potential.
We rarely promote any of our affiliate products on social media, on our Facebook Group or through our newsletter. And even for display ads, we have a big one within our sidebar above the fold and that’s pretty much it.
At this stage, we are more interested in creating a supportive community and a real connection with our readers than in selling and increasing our revenues. We might change this aspect in the future, but for now our focus has been on building something we’re proud of and growing our audience organically.
But the advice I usually give to new bloggers wanting to make money blogging is not to miss the opportunity to monetize their blog through affiliate marketing. I also always tell them to keep in mind that adding an affiliate link to their blog or social media post with the hope that someone will make a purchase through their link is not enough.
To be successful at affiliate marketing, you need to offer readers valuable content, truly love the product you’re recommending and have a good strategy in place, so I encourage them to invest in a great course like Making Sense of Affiliate Marketing, pick a few products they personally have experience with and love, and join reputable affiliate networks.
What are some strategies you have used for building up the traffic?
What I think is a winning strategy in the long term is to assess all platforms and tools available, pick a few that you think would be the most strategic and effective for your blog, and focus on building and growing those first. Once you master those, move on to the next one, and so on and so forth.
Most of my efforts went into SEO and a strong strategy for Pinterest.
The reason I have picked these two channels over other platforms to start with is twofold:
- Firstly, SEO and Pinterest both take quite a long time to show results. So, I wanted to start as soon as possible without wasting any precious time.
- Secondly, and most importantly, they’re more in line with the direction I wanted our blog to take by allowing us to target an organic audience that is truly interested in our content.
I’m a firm believer in the value of organic traffic. I think that the quality of the traffic you drive to your blog is way more important than the quantity, so you should aim to target an audience that is engaged and truly interested in your content.
How have you grown the email list?
This is surely an area that we have neglected. I’m well aware of the importance of growing an email list from day one but we have not put much effort into it yet. We have created some opt-ins that we offer as content upgrades within related posts to encourage our readers to subscribe.
I personally hate pop-ups and push notifications, and I preferred ensuring the best user experience on my website to the detriment of growing my list. I might reconsider this as our sign-up forms and freebies are not quite visible at the moment. We have also created some landing pages but we have not promoted them as much.
At this stage, we have slightly over 300 subscribers, and saying that we have been emailing them inconsistently is an understatement.
One of the resolution for this new year is to start a weekly newsletter with valuable content and actionable tips to our subscribers, and create some more valuable freebies to offer to our audience as content upgrades.
I would recommend new bloggers starting out now prioritizing their email list and newsletter from the beginning.
How do you write great content that performs well?
While when blogs first appeared in the 90s they were a way to chronicle personal journeys, I think that nowadays people read blogs to learn new skills, get better at something or get some specific information.
So, when I write a post I keep in mind the readers I’m writing for and what can be in for them. I try to figure out what they might be struggling with and try to come up with a solution or show a way to solve a problem.
I still try to be personable and let my personality shine through, so I do sometimes refer to myself, my experience or some anecdotes, but I think the main focus needs to be my audience, their needs and how I can help them overcome a problem or how I can offer them any value.'Don’t get discouraged if you don’t see results straight away.'Click To Tweet
I rarely use tools like the headline analyzer from Co-Schedule to find the perfect catchy headline for my post or the Google AdWords Keyword Planner to search for keywords I could rank for but that’s just out of laziness. They’re great free tools and I would recommend using them to anyone who has the time and patience.
My posts are usually very long ones, they’re all well over 2000 words and some over 4000. I aim to cover a topic comprehensively to offer readers as much information as possible on the subject.
Allow me to say though that I personally write inconsistently and focus more on website development and general strategy, while the primary contributors in terms of content and social media management are Emma and Marina.
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?
Besides writing in a foreign language, the biggest challenge that I have faced and I’m still facing with my blog is not having a specific niche.
We try to keep different topics separate on our blog so that users can navigate the site by category and read only the posts they’re interested in. But it’s still hard to work on your SEO when you have several unrelated topics on your website.
Plus, it’s not always easy to keep our followers engaged with our content on social media. For example, I’m sure that when we post blogging tips on our Facebook page we may alienate the followers interested in lifestyle hacks or humorous memes and vice versa.
For a short period, we had created different social media accounts for each topic to target followers depending on their interests but we soon realized this approach wouldn’t work as most platforms including CMSs by default only allow to connect one account and we had to find workarounds all the time.
What I surely would do differently if I could go back is starting on self-hosted WordPress from the beginning. We started on Squarespace – which is not a free platform, it’s actually more expensive than self-hosted WordPress – and recently migrated to self-hosted WordPress because of the endless limitations of Squarespace.
The migration has been painful and we’re still paying the consequences. We had to deal with domain transfer, DNS propagation, content migration, redirection of URLs, website re-development, and many other problems and issues. In the process, we lost most of our comments, some shares, over 5 points in domain authority and page authority, lots of traffic and so on.
Don’t get me wrong, I’m not regretting the migration at all, I’m regretting having used Squarespace in the first place (or any other platform that is not WordPress.org for that matter).
Have you found anything particularly helpful or advantageous?
Pinterest! We call it “every blogger’s heaven”! There is this misconception that Pinterest is a platform for crafting, recipes and DIY only but that’s not true at all!
Pinterest has been consistently one of our main sources of traffic. This is also thanks to using a scheduler (Tailwind). Since Marina started using Tailwind our views have skyrocketed and kept growing exponentially ever since. We absolutely love it and we couldn’t live without. Joining Pinterest Group Board and Tailwind Tribes has also given us a huge boost in traffic.
We truly believe that any blogger who is not using Pinterest to grow their traffic is missing out big time!
What’s your advice for bloggers who are just starting out?
First and foremost, I strongly recommend anyone wanting to start a blog to do it on self-hosted WordPress.
I do believe in the old saying that to make money you need to spend money, and if you’re serious about blogging, you should definitely invest in your blog. I understand that when you’re only starting out, you might not be ready to fork out hundreds of dollars on very expensive courses or blogging tools.
But I think starting on self-hosted WordPress is paramount and will save you lots of headache down the track. And I’m talking from personal experience here.
Secondly and equally importantly, learn as much as possible and network!
Bloggers are such a supportive, helpful and resourceful community and you should embrace the opportunity to make a real connection with like-minded bloggers, learn from knowledgeable and successful bloggers, and give back to the community as much as you can.
I would suggest:
- Checking out websites like BlogProfits and the website, resource page, freebies and available courses/ebooks of famous bloggers such as Neil Patel, Melyssa Griffin, Abby Lawson, Michelle Schroeder-Gardner, Suzi Whitford, Amy Lynn Andrews, Darren Rowse, Brian Clark, and other bloggers of this caliber. They have paved the way for us and are so generous to share their secrets. Reading their blogs and income reports is inspirational and will give you a spike in motivation.
- Connecting with knowledgeable and successful new bloggers and checking out their blogs and resources. The advice of new bloggers is more relatable, encouraging and targeted to your level and needs. It also helps you set attainable goals and stay positive and focused.
- Guest blogging for other sites, allowing guest posts on your own blog or doing roundups.
- Joining Facebook Groups for bloggers and attending blogging conferences and other networking events.
Finally, don’t get discouraged if you don’t see results straight away. Unfortunately, nothing happens overnight, it does take quite a long time. But with a combination of the right strategies, perseverance, and hard work the results will sure come!
Where can we go to learn more?