Hello! Today, I have a great guest post from Carly. Carly is a “completely computer-clueless stay at home mom, which is made possible by the fact that she’s also a full time blogger – writing mostly mom stuff and blogging tips” – at Mommyonpurpose.com.
I see these sorts of headlines, and I roll my eyes.
I’ve always been somewhat of a skeptic.
Actually, I don’t like that word.
Let’s say realist.
I’ve always been somewhat of a realist. I’m fully aware that nothing amazing is just going to fall into my lap, my life will be largely what I make of it (and what I can make of life will probably always be a little bit dictated my my circumstances). This isn’t a negative thing – this is just REALITY. And I’m ok with reality!
I figure it’s better to just accept reality and keep both feet on the ground. Work hard, make the best of whatever situation you’re in… and don’t waste your time chasing pipe dreams.
And so, I sort of have to laugh when I tell you that the waitress to blogger in 9 months thing is a true story – it’s my story.
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Sometimes though, dreams become reality
I’d never made much money – for most of my adult life I’d waitressed. (Once, when I was 27, someone asked me what I wanted to “be” – assuming I was waitressing as stop gap on the way to my “real” job. Yep.)
The thing is, I only have a high school education – because I could never decide what I wanted “to be” – really, I didn’t want to BE anything. I hated school and I had no interest in 4 (or 5 or 6) more years of learning. Plus, I just couldn’t stomach the idea of dress shoes and office hours for the rest of my life. I’m not really the most organized person, and schedules are hard for me.
A career was not high on my list of priorities. (I’m not saying this is a good attitude or telling you it’s ok to choose to make yourself “unemployable” after high school… just that this is what I did.)
Because of my (self imposed) lack of education, all the jobs out there (available to me) had the same big flaws – crappy shift hours doing someone else’s dirty work to make someone else rich … for very little money. This might not sound that bad when you’re 19 and telling yourself it’s for the short term… but it takes on a whole new meaning when it’s the only future you can see.
Suffice it to say that after 10 years of pouring coffee while covered in gravy and sour cream, I dreaded putting on that stupid black apron worse than I dreaded a root canal – but really had no other options. I was miserable.
My husband and I decided that it was time for me to try something else, and I took a desk job – but making even LESS money. We figured if it just wasn’t enough, I could always go back.
So for the first time in my life, I was enjoying work – but without tips to pad out my earnings, I was hardly adding to our bottom line. And then, just three months into the new job, we found out I was pregnant.
We were so excited to FINALLY be able to look forward to a future as parents, but I quickly realized that leaving my baby with someone else (while I earned barley enough to cover daycare) was something I couldn’t imagine doing… something I dreaded doing.
And then I realized something else.
Due to the very little money aspect of my job – I didn’t actually have to MAKE much money from home to justify not going back to work. If I was at home I wouldn’t be using gas for the car, I wouldn’t be buying coffee out, I wouldn’t be paying someone to watch my baby… I really only needed to make $800-1000 / month total (and before taxes) to never have to go back to work again.
I figured surely THAT amount would be possible.
So I researched for weeks for work from home options that you didn’t need an education to do – and blogging kept coming up as a viable way to make some money from home. Sure, there were a few bloggers claiming to be making 25,000, 50,000 even $100,000 in a month – and I knew I would never see an income like THAT. But I could tell, from what I was reading, that making $1000/month as a blogger was totally possible.
I read over and over that blogging is a marathon, not a race. That earning money online was a slow burn, that it could be years before I ever saw a dollar.
I didn’t have years… I had 9 months.
So I threw myself into blogging like my life depended on it. And a few weeks after my baby was born, I published this blog income report detailing how I made over $4000 with my blog that month. Growing my blog to a full time income hadn’t taken me years at all – it had taken me 9 months. And now, two years into blogging, I earn as much in one month as I used to earn in a full year as a waitress.
Recently we moved into a bigger house – a house that my blog helped to put the down payment on – and while cleaning out my closet, I found all those black aprons. I burnt them. (And I would have had a glass of wine too, if I wasn’t pregnant again!)
Looking back on this journey, it really does sound like the sort of thing that I, once upon a time, would have read, rolled my eyes at, and written off as a pipe dream.
I believe there are a few things I did that helped my blog become my full time job very quickly.
Three things I did that allowed my blog to earn a full time income in under a year
1. I got a blogging education
Part of throwing myself into blogging was learning to blog.
We didn’t have a ton of extra money laying around, but I took my blog VERY seriously. When we could afford it, I bought courses that taught me what I needed to know. I didn’t waste months and months just trying to figure out what I was doing on my own.
You can totally build a profitable blog slowly over time, with trial and error. MANY people have done it this way! You can experiment to see what works and what doesn’t. Or you can just sit down and listen when other bloggers – who know what to do – are willing to tell you how to do it.
I’m not suggesting that you buy every blogging course out there. Blogging courses are a dime a dozen, and many of them are created by bloggers who don’t even MAKE a full time income blogging. Be careful what you buy – look for course creators that DO actually make money online themselves, and ask around to see if people have taken the course and see results. Be wary. But don’t be so wary that you don’t invest at all.
Once you find a course that you trust, DO THE WORK. Don’t just read through the lessons and wonder why nothing changed. Implement what you’ve learned. (That seems basic, but you wouldn’t believe how many people I’ve had buy my book and tell me they haven’t tried to do everything in it.)
And learn from multiple teachers! One of the best things I’ve done is to study many bloggers. There’s always more than one way to do something, and just because someone says “do it this way!” doesn’t mean that’s the ONLY way to do it.
2. I stopped trying to dictate my blog’s direction – and went a little broad with my niche
This might seem like polar opposite advice to what you’ll read in other places, but I believe one of the things that took my blog the fastest was letting go of my “plans” for it.
You’ve heard that you should choose a niche and niche down; write only what you’re passionate about.
I decided not to… but instead, to see what worked for me, and then do more of whatever it was that was working for me.
I wrote posts in many niches and threw them all out there to the world – and then I paid attention to see what people responded to, and what generated income. I started my blog thinking I would write about living intentionally, being deliberate in your day-to-day life, making choices that improve you as a person… but that wasn’t what people were showing up to read. (And, if they ever did read that stuff, it sure wasn’t making me a dime.)
It seemed like they wanted to read my posts about saving money, housekeeping, healthy living. As time went on I found out people also wanted to read about pregnancy, postpartum, and parenting. This wasn’t what I originally planned to write… but it’s what people wanted to read. It’s what was making money.
I had a postpartum post that made a few hundred dollars in Amazon sales per month. So I wrote a second similar post and I doubled my Amazon income.
Find out what works, and work with it.
When you have no idea what might work, study other successful bloggers very carefully to see what they’re doing. And then figure out how to do what they’re doing – in your own way.
3. I started a SUPER niched email list for my broad topic blog
One of the biggest mistakes I see bloggers making is having a general email list for their whole blog (unless they have a very niched blog).
Your blog doesn’t have to super niched in itself (an itty bitty niche isn’t necessary at all – sometimes it’s even detrimental), but your email list MUST be niched. Decide who you want to email, and email on that subject only.
If you have a “parenting” blog, don’t just email “parenting tips”. Segment your list into parents of toddlers, parents of teens, parents who are struggling to get their kids to sleep etc.
Develop opt-in freebies that will appeal to the reader you WANT on your list.
Niche those email lists down to keep your readers engaged.
My blog has tons of topics – parenting, pregnancy, postpartum, housekeeping, saving money, making money, and blogging tips. I only have time for one email list, so I ONLY email one of my niches. You can’t find a “subscribe for updates” anywhere on my blog, because I don’t want some one who shows up to read a postpartum post to be lumped into the same email list as someone who shows up to read a saving money post.
This has allowed me to grow a large engaged email list quickly – and one that is made up of entirely people who are interested in what I’m emailing them about.
Everyday I’m so grateful I gave blogging a chance
If you’re a realist like me, I can understand why you might not want to jump in with both feet…
But I’m sure glad I did!
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