Today I want to share a post that is a little different from what I usually talk about on Organize Yourself Skinny. A month or so ago I hinted to my email subscribers that I had big news to share. If you follow me on Instagram then you already know the news and no I am not pregnant. After 3 ½ years of blogging I decided it was time to resigned from my full-time cushy state job of 12 years and start my new career as a full-time professional blogger.
This decision was not taken lightly and required a lot of thinking, discussing, and planning. My husband and I spent many mornings and nights going over the pros, cons, and what ifs. Trust me, I did not just wake up one morning and say; “I am going to quit my job and become a blogger”. Nope, it took over 3 years to get to that point.
Before I jump into the “how to” of blogging let me first talk about what it means for OYS to have me full-time. Up until a few weeks ago the only time I worked on Organize Yourself Skinny was in the early morning, late at night, and weekends. I spent about 10 -15 hours a week writing blog posts, scheduling social media, testing recipes, taking and editing pictures, responding to emails, answering questions on my blog and Facebook page, and a ton of behind the scenes techy stuff. Even though I was creating a lot for OYS I knew there was much more I could do and wanted to do. I knew that if I wanted to grow OYS I needed to devote myself to it full-time.
This is what you can expect now that I am working on OYS full-time
- Consistent posting of new weight loss and healthy lifestyle content. I have an entire folder of topic ideas just waiting to be created in blog posts.
- More make ahead recipes that include nutritional information and weight watchers points plus.
- Completion of the Organize Yourself Skinny eBook. I have been working on this ebook longer than I want to admit. My goal is for it to be done by December 1st.
- More make ahead weight loss meal plans. I created my 4 week make ahead meal plan last year and received tons of positive feedback. I get asked all the time to offer more meal plans. I am working on more now to have available early next year.
- Youtube videos! I tried making videos a couple years ago and failed miserably. However, I know many of you want to see video tutorials so I am going to make that happen. My plan is to start shooting videos in the Spring.
- Speaking engagements and presentations. Over the last couple years I have presented a few times to different groups in my community. It was a lot of fun and I loved meeting OYS readers. I plan to make myself available a few times a month for speaking engagements and presentations starting in 2015.
- Online webinars. At this point I cannot travel far for speaking engagements and/or presentations so I will offer them via webinars. These will be available starting in early to mid 2015.
So that is what you can expect now that I am working full-time on Organize Yourself Skinny. I am beyond excited to provide you with the best content and information I can to help you organize and create a healthier lifestyle. If you have other ideas or suggestions please email me at firstname.lastname@example.org. I love hearing from you guys.
Okay, now for those of you who want to know more about how I turned blogging into my full-time job. I put this post together because the most common question I get after “How did you lose weight?” is “how do I start my own blog?” followed by “how do you make money from your blog?” And now that I am blogging full-time the money question is the first thing I hear when I tell people what I am doing. At first, this question would frustrate me because asking someone how much money they make seems a little rude. However, I now understand blogging and/or creating a career online is foreign to many people and this question is meant to be curious not rude.
I have learned so much about blogging over the last 3 years and probably could start a brand new blog focusing on just that. However, I barely have enough time for Organize Yourself Skinny and there are plenty of “how to blog” blogs out there in bloggyland soooo I am going to condense all I know into one post.
Keep in mind the information I am sharing is based on my own experience writing Organize Yourself Skinny.
After reading this post if you need more information on making money from your blog, specifically a food blog, I recommend reading How to Monetize Your Food Blog by Kiersten Frase. AMAZING! There is lots of helpful information in this book. Everything you want to know about the specifics of ad networks, affiliate program and other money making options she covers in detail with this book. It is worth every penny.
I also recommend checking out Food Blogger Pro. This website has tons of video tutorials and an active community of food bloggers to answer your questions. Plus Bjork and Lyndsey, the owners of Food Blogger Pro, are amazing! Seriously, I have learned so much from their tutorials and them personally. This website, and their knowledge, honestly helped me take my blog to the next level. If you are serious about blogging, specifically food blogging then give Food Blogger Pro a try.
If you are ready to start a blog but need help with the techy side of starting one then check out this “how to” page I put together.
Now my blogging story…
Let’s start from the beginning. When I started my blog it was a hobby. I lost about 30 pounds and everyone started to ask me “how I did it” questions. I found myself saying the same things over and over again. Well, after talking about freezer cooking for the 100th time, I decided to start a blog, write about it, and direct people there when I would get questions about my weight loss. I enjoyed sharing my recipes and weight loss tips. It was fun and people seemed to like reading what I had to say. Who knew freezer cooking could be so interesting? Apparently, a lot of people do.
I also enjoyed having creative control over something. Not control in a crazy OCD way but something I could call mine and no one could tell me what to do with it. I was the boss and I called the shots. As a mother of two little girls, wife, and full-time employee I had very little in my life that was about me. Everything I did was for other people. Working on my blog gave me a creative outlet that I craved and needed.
The first year of blogging was 100% hobby. I enjoyed sharing my story and writing help to keep me accountable to my weight loss. I have said many times my blog keeps me skinny.
Back then, I might have made a little coffee money but it wasn’t anything that had me running to the bank. As I reflect on that time, I am glad I started my blog as a hobby. It gave me time to find my voice, test the waters, and learn the ropes.
It has always been a dream and goal of mine to work for myself. I hated being chained to an office. Don’t get me wrong I had a great job that many people would kill for but I needed more. Being a mom, of two growing busy girls, my lifestyle required a flexible schedule. These reasons fueled my desire and motivation to make my work at home dream a reality.
I started to get more serious about blogging during the second year. I created and shared more recipes; developed a blog-posting schedule; got in tune with blog traffic and pageviews; and researched different revenue streams. I spent hours upon hours writing, cooking, taking pictures, editing pictures, sharing on social media, and all the behind the scenes duties that no one has any clue about unless you are a blogger. There were many nights that I just wanted to throw in the towel. But I believed in my dream so I kept going.
Towards the end of the second year I began to see the earning potential that could transpire from blogging. This motivated me even more. Advertisers and brands started to take notice. I signed up with a couple Ad networks, Google Adsense, and a few affiliate networks. I also created my 4 week make ahead and freeze menu plan to sell. The money started to slowly trickle in. Then more started to come in. Pretty soon I was making much more than coffee money. By the end of my second year I made just over 20K. This was not enough for me to quit my job but….it was enough to convince me that making money from writing a blog was real. Very real.
In January 2014 (my 3rd year of blogging) my blog traffic increased significantly. Up until then I averaged about 150k – 200k pageviews a month and in January I received over 700k pagevies. After that my pageviews ranged between 450k up to 1.5 million a month. This increase in pageviews equaled a large increase in earnings.
Pageviews might not make a whole lot of sense to you but basically it means the number of pages one visitor looks at while on your site. So if you read this article then check out another one then that’s two pageviews. Basically, the more visitors you have to your blog, the more pageviews you have, and ultimately the more money you will make. At least that has been my experience. I guess that makes sense. However, getting people to your site is not always easy.
One reason my pageviews blew up this past year is because my Facebook page grew immensely. Last year, at this time, my FB page was at 20k people. Now my FB page is over 350k fans, growing more every day. That is huge growth. But….Facebook can get tricky in who they show posts too. Sometimes I get tons of traffic from Facebook and other times not so much. Instead of focusing on trying to control Facebook I learned not to put all my traffic eggs in one basket. My other top traffic sources are Pinterest and Google. And now that my blog has been a round for a few years I also get lots of traffic from other websites and blogs linking back to my stuff. Thank guys!
There are no real secrets with bringing traffic to your blog – just lots and lots of hard work. I was consistently posting recipes and articles on my blog then sharing them via social media. I did this for over 3 years before I saw real monetary results. 3 years! Believing in yourself + stamina + a little crazy = blog results. Now there is a money making formula for you.
What I am trying to say is if you keep going you will see results – kind of like losing weight. Interesting how things relate sometimes.
As my traffic increased so did my income. I don’t feel very comfortable putting exact numbers out there because that seems like such personal information. However, I will say this. In my cushy state job I was making just over 65K a year working 12 months a year and 40 hours a week.
This September, I already more than that blogging and will come very close to 6 figures by the end of the year. My monthly blogging income has been as low as $4000 a month and as high as $13,000 a month. Over the last 5 months it has been more towards the higher end. I work about 20-25 hours a week and now have the flexibility to be available for my family whenever they need me. It is truly a dream come true.
My income streams include:
- Advertising networks (AOL, Google, Sovrn Media, Swoop, and Ziplist)
- Recipe development and Brand Sponsorship (I work mostly with Tapinfluence to connect me with brands)
- Affiliate products (I get paid a small percentage for certain products I use and recommend. **I never recommend anything I don’t believe in)
- My own products (4 week make ahead and freeze menu plan)
**Again, if you have more questions about any of these income streams then get Kiersten Frase’s ebook. She clearly defines all these income streams and how to make the most money from them.
My bread and butter are the advertising networks I belong to. My plan is to offer more products and services in the future but right now that is how I make the bulk of my income.
When my husband and I reviewed the numbers we felt very comfortable making the decision to have me leave my full-time job and pursue a new career as a full-time blogger. I have proven that when given the time to work on my blog I am able to produce a higher income. Now that I am working full-time on my blog I anticipate my income will continue to increase. However, I don’t focus on big numbers. I don’t like to get caught up in that. My goal is to provide a good life for my family working at a career I love. Period.
Besides getting married and having my children this decision was one of the best life changing decisions I ever made. I never felt so sure and confident about anything in my life. It was truly amazing to see a dream that I worked so long and hard for come true.
Of course, it’s not always roses when working as a professional blogger. You don’t get a consistent paycheck every two weeks. Some months you make more and some you make less. You need to budget and plan for all of that. You are in charge of your own retirement, health insurance, and taxes. I recommend working with an accountant right away to keep all your books in order because it can get overwhelming fast.
Also, you need to be very good at keeping a schedule and time management. The majority (if not all) of my work gets done when my kids are at school. To keep on task and stay productive I find it critical for me to start each day with a to-do list. I try to limit distractions by keeping my phone out of sight or turning off notifications. I try to include housework on my list but some days I am so busy there is zero time for laundry and cleaning. I am still trying to find that balance between working and keeping my home tidy. I try.
Another challenge to working from home, and especially working as a blogger, is people don’t think you really work. There have been many comments thrown my way that insinuate I am unemployed or don’t make any money. If I weren’t so busy working and making money I would probably have the time to educate them. But I don’t soooo I just let people think what they want. Don’t let people bring you down. Just keep going. You know what you are doing.
11 of my Best Professional Blogger Tips
#1 Pick a topic you can teach people about.
Most of us go to the internet looking for information. We want to know “how to” cook something, make something, fix something, and ultimately learn something. Find your own unique style and voice. Then build of what makes your teaching style different or better. How can you present the information differently? Why would someone come to your blog and not the other 1000s of blogs out there talking about the same exact thing? People come to your blog for YOU just as much as they come for the information.
#2 Treat your blog like a business.
If you don’t treat your blog like a business then know one else will either. Money does not just fall out of the sky because you start a website or blog. You need to think about, plan, and then move forward on ideas you have to create an income. Some work and some don’t. You also need to think about things like trademark, LLCs, taxes, health insurance, writing schedules, and everything else that goes into a business. Once you decide to make blogging your career and start to make money it becomes much more than posting recipes a couple times a week. Again, if you want your blog to be a business then you need to treat it as such.
#3 Just because you build it does not mean they will come.
I think this might be the biggest misconception with blogging and building a website in general. It takes A LOT of time and effort to create and sustain traffic to your blog. Not only do you need to produce content that people want to read, and hopefully share, you need to spend even more time getting that content out there. This means you need to take time to build a social media presence or platform and email list (I use aweber). Both of these things are so important to the success of a blog. At least it has been for me. It is what keeps you connected to your readers. When people “like” your Facebook page, follow you on Instagram or Twitter, or subscribe to your email they are saying they like what you have to say; want to get to know you better; and look forward to the information you share. These channels are very important with bringing traffic to your site and they take time to build. Don’t get discourage by the effort involved because it can be done. Just be aware it will take time to build a social following.
#4 Bring value
Before I hit publish on a blog post I always need to answer the question “How does this recipe, article, and/or tutorial bring value to someone’s life?’ I want the information I share on Organize Yourself Skinny to provide my readers with the tools to change their lives. I want my readers to feel that losing weight is possible because of the information I share. I want people to be motivated and inspired by the words I write. I keep all that in mind with each and every post that goes up on my blog.
#5 Don’t focus on the money.
Instead focus on your blog. Focus on writing and creating amazing content. Focus on finding your purpose and voice. Focus on building relationships with your readers. Focus on growing your social media following. Focus on your blog strategy. Focus on creating products that bring value to your readers. Focus on creating an amazing blog that will motivate, inspire, and give your readers the tools to change their lives. When you focus on these things you are building a sustainable business that will bring in an income. When you just focus on money you forget about the foundation a strong business needs to survive.
#6 Be ready to work for free for a while.
Blogging IS NOT a get rich quick job. Far from it. Most professional bloggers will tell you they blogged for 1-2 years before they made any money. I already mentioned everything that goes into blogging and as you can imagine that takes a lot of time and effort. It is very important to be passionate and truly enjoy what you blog about because, in the beginning, there is a good chance you will be working for free.
#7 Create your own products and services.
Having your own products gives you a revenue stream you have control over. In my blogging circle the most popular products bloggers sell are ebooks, online workshops, webinars and menu planning services. There are so many options for bloggers to create their own products. The key is to provide people with value. People are spending their hard earned money and choosing to purchase your products over others so make sure it is worth their time and money.
#8 Create a blog strategy and stay organized.
Once you are in the blogging trenches it is very easy to get overwhelmed. Between writing, cooking, pictures, social media, and working on my own products some days I don’t even know where to begin. Like I have said, many times before, I live by my to-do lists. It helps build structure into my day. I also recommend keeping a running list of blog topics and an editorial calendar.
#9 Learn to be resourceful
There were two things that happened in my blogging career that could have shut it down. First, my blog got hacked with a massive virus about 1 year into it. This was extremely stressful. I was not prepared at all and had no idea what to do. Good thing my hosting company at the time (bluehost) had great customer service and was able to work with me to get it fix. But it was not a quick fix and I thought I would have to start all over. It was awful.
Second, I had some legal trademark issues with another blogger (don’t ask me about cause I can’t talk about it) that happened 2 years into blogging. Again, this was very stressful and I needed to work with a lawyer to get everything taken care of. In the end everything worked out for the better but it was still something that caught me off guard that I need to be resourceful with.
Other things I needed help with was finding a graphic designer for a new logo and blog design, backend code issues, email issues, server down, and lots of other challenges like that. There is always something. Challenges will happen as you move through your blogging career and you absolutely need to be resourceful and resilient.
#10 Don’t compete.
I think this one is incredibly important to succeed in blogging and life. One of my mottos is “I compete with no one”. And I mean that. In all areas of my life, I do my absolute best and stay completely focused on what I NEED TO DO at all times. I never worry about what someone else is doing. Competing with others does nothing but take your time, energy, and focus away from what you need to do. Personally, I look at other bloggers as my colleagues not my competition. Many of them have been there for me to answer questions and offer assistance and now that I have experience I plan to do the same for others.
#11 Keep going.
Building a blog or any business takes mental and physical stamina. It takes a long time and there will be many moments you will want to quit. But those are the times you need to push harder and keep going. It is definitely survival of the fittest! But, like all things in life, if you want it bad enough you can do it.
The reward of owning a business, being my own boss, and having the flexibility to be there for my family is worth every risk and challenge that was thrown my way.
That is my blog story in a nutshell. Like I said I could write an entire blog just on this topic but don’t have the time – maybe someday. If you are considering starting your own blog I recommend checking out the “start a blog” page I put together that will walk through the techy side of starting a blog.
Also, check out the two resources I mentioned earlier.
These resources will give you all the information you need to start and monetize your blog.
Last thing I want to say is thank you to everyone that reads Organize Yourself Skinny. Honestly, if it wasn’t for all of you coming to my blog everyday and sharing it with friends and family I would not be where I am today. I look forward to working hard every day providing you with the best recipes and information to help you lose weight and live a healthier lifestyle. Thank you from the bottom of my heart.
If you haven’t signed up for my free email newsletter you can do there here.