To be successful at anything, you need to hold yourself accountable. I started Mommy Over Work with the intent to build an income stream that earns as much (or more) than my current day job. The goal is to do this before I have kid #2 in order to quit and be a work from home mom. I am putting together this detailed blog income report of a new blog to document my journey in a way that helps you with the following:
- See what I did right and wrong that is helping me towards my goals
- Figure out the blog metrics that really matter
- Tell you what real blogging is like (spoiler: it’s not as easy as some people make it seem)
Let's be friends! Follow me on Pinterest: Pinterest
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The three resources that turned this blog profitable in a few months in:
- This well-known course from a highly successful affiliate marketer that helped me earn money in my first month blogging
- The blogging community that taught me the foundation to a 4-figure income blog and turned my blog failure into success
- The Pinterest strategy that skyrocketed my traffic from 1000 to 200,000 in one months' time
- January 2017: son to be born in following month, no intention of staying at home after maternity leave up
- February – May 2017: my new mom experience SUCKED. As in birth complications, issues with breastfeeding, etc.
- May 2017: forced to go back to work after leave over because that’s how traditional employment works here in the US. Realized I’d rather be at home with kid than miserable at work
- July 2017: discovered that making money blogging is a thing, and started doing research
- September 2017: decided making money blogging would be my thing
- October 1, 2017: launched Mommy Over Work
- October – December 2017: crashed, almost burned from blogger overwhelm, invested in this as a last-ditch effort to make or break my blogging career
- January 2018: buckled down and invested every last ounce of energy in me to make this blogging thing work
- February 2018: first 4-figure month
- March 2018: second 4-figure month, confident that I could keep this going and growing
For the purpose of this blog income report, I consider October 1, 2017 to be the start of my blog. I want this to be a good blog report, so I will cover the span of this blog’s first six months, which is October 1, 2017 to March 31, 2018.
My blogging strategy/personality:
- research before implement
- try not to spend an arm and a leg on blogging courses
- not the most confident blogger but willing to invest effort into trying it
Goal and timeline: Grow (a mostly passive and consistent) income of $5,000 month by time kid #2 is projected to be born (looking like December 2019). This gives me approximately 2 years.
Not your Typical Blog Report
You know how most blog reports start off with a huge wall of text talking about how these reports are to help track metrics and set goals? And then the rest is just to show some screenshots and money and traffic stats without any substantive content on how they got there to help you on your blogging journey?
This won’t be that kind of report.
Let’s get some real and helpful blogging tips out there. I’ll share with you what happened and my reasoning and analysis of my progression in these areas:
- Blog content
- Traffic and social media
- Email list
I started off in the money niche with an emphasis on blogging. I got about 10-15 posts by December (3 months in) before I enrolled in this blogging community, at which point I switched to a general lifestyle blog. From January to March, I wrote an additional 40-50 posts based on trending topics in Pinterest.
WHAT I LEARNED: The more blog posts you have, the better your traffic numbers will be. If you are not sure of your niche, start a little broader and then choose to go narrower if you feel like it. Writing blog posts are hard in the beginning as you’re trying to find your writing voice and not used to writing so much. It does get easier with practice.
Let me just say, the blogging niche is REALLY hard to break into. Not stating impossible, but I’ll just point out my traffic was almost 1,000 in December (3 months into blogging) before I read this book, and then jumped to almost 200,000 2 months later after I broadened.
Here’s a screenshot to show the analytics from my first 6 months.
I am the type of person who does not feel that I am an expert in a specific subject. At first, I chose blogging as my niche because I was learning so much about it and thought to document my journey to help those who were at an earlier stage than I was. And I was getting frustrated by not really getting anywhere. But then I decided to branch out and find blogging so much easier and happier.
To put things in perspective though, blogging is meant to be a long-term gain, so what felt like “too long” to not have much accomplished was in fact only a few months. It felt like ages though with the amount of information overload and spending every second thinking about blogging.
WHAT I LEARNED: Pageviews do matter. It matters for ad revenue, but even if you don’t want to rely on that, you need readers getting to your blog to build an audience. However, they are not the end all be all. I used to obsess over these numbers checking them constantly. I’m at point now where I will choose to focus on other more important things (like optimizing old content, spend time with my husband and son, etc) and check in maybe 3 times a day.
I knew Pinterest was definitely a platform I needed to be on so I got onto a ton of group boards (like 100+). This ebook was a game-changer for me (I implemented it at the same time I joined this blogging resource). I redid every single of my old pins with these following key points in mind:
- Use a legible font. I took away my script font and use a bold block one.
- Use a catchy headline. I expanded my vocabulary with adjectives that evoke enough curiosity to get the click.
- Use longer pins. I started off with the standard 2:3 ratio, but experimented with something longer, like 1:2.
- Pin content to relevant boards (eg. recipe post to a food board).
Group boards are not easy to get onto and quite a tedious task, but if you really want your traffic to explode, then you’ll just have to grind through finding group boards and applying to them. Here's a free list of 100s of Pinterest group boards. Acceptance rates are pretty low (I’ve experienced less than 50% success), but it needs to be done if you want a better chance of getting your content out there.
Manual vs scheduled pinning
I got an annual Tailwind subscription early on. For some reason, I can’t figure out a way of scheduling a diverse array of pins that is quick and efficient. I tried board lists and semi-looping pins, but I don’t want to schedule the same pin 7 times every week for multiple pins, so I am not satisfied with pinning via Tailwind. I do find benefit from Tailwind Tribes, as it accounts for about 30,000 pageviews a month, but even figuring out what pins to upload there takes way longer than I’d like.
Again, this Pinterest book was full of gold nuggets. Manual pinning was tedious in the beginning for me, especially as I tried to keep track of what board a pin was pinned to and when, but now I just pin without the spreadsheet and it saves me so much more time. I do my manual pinning in 1-2 stints, taking less than 30 minutes to pin about 30-50 pins a day.
RECAP of my pinning strategy: I only pin my pins manually, which takes about 30 minutes a day done in 1-2 pinning sessions. The most helpful feature of Tailwind is Tribes.
WHAT I LEARNED: Manual pinning forced me to spend time on the platform, which allowed me to hone in on the things that made my Pinterest strategy more successful. I was able to analyze pin designs, see what topics were popular ones to write about, and see which of my pins were getting repinned. However, trying to be anal about tracking my pins ate up so much time and made me dread pinning. When I got more lax about it, I cut down my time spent pinning to under 30 minutes a day, which is much more manageable than the hour or more I used to spend doing it.
Schedulers do have their pros as well, so I won’t discount them, but if you had me choose, I would stick to manual because you have more flexibility in what you end up pinning and promoting.
I do think that in the beginning, the learning curve is pretty steep, so you will probably spend quite a bit of time before you figure out a system that works for you. Keep working at it and you will eventually reach a state where pinning is not as overwhelming or cumbersome. And if you work on good Pinterest and Google SEO together, the less you'll feel like you MUST do Pinterest every day.
Other social media platforms
I used to do Facebook groups but found them too time-consuming for little return. To be honest, it feels like blogging niches get the most engagement from these groups. I do check in a few just to keep abreast of blogging things, but I don't participate in share threads. After I decided to stop using them and focus on Pinterest, my traffic did so much better because I wasn’t spreading myself so thin.
I have a Facebook page but don’t post to it. I ask people to like it in case I choose to do something with that page in the future, but for now, I’ve left it dormant.
I don’t understand this platform at all. I think this may be a platform of choice for personal finance bloggers, but I also gave up on this to focus efforts on where I was getting results: Pinterest.
I didn’t even try this at all because I know nothing about this platform. I’m doing fine without it so I don’t anticipate figuring it out anytime in the near future.
WHAT I LEARNED ABOUT SOCIAL MEDIA: It is better to do one well than a lot poorly. After giving up Facebook and Twitter and just focusing on Pinterest, I felt less burden and better results. Put your energies where you will get results.
They say that building an email list is so important for a long-term blogging strategy. Because my blog is so broad, it hasn’t been easy to figure out a niche to build my list in. Plus, I am inconsistent with emailing my list, so I decided to ditch the list for this blog. Will it hurt me in the long run? Possibly, but after weighing what I enjoy and feel is a more productive use of my time, it made sense for me to say goodbye to my email list.
WHAT I LEARNED: Everyone tells you to build a list, but I haven’t figured out how that fits into my strategy effectively. In the end, I am fine with not having a list, even if that means lost income. I would rather focus on the things that I get more enjoyment out of, such as creating more blog content. If I do figure out what I want a list for later, then I can start building at that time. Will I regret it? Maybe or maybe not. But that is how blogging goes. At this point of my blogging career, I’m not ready for it so I won’t force it.
Here’s my income breakdown by month and source:
- $100 affiliate
- $0 ads
- Total income: $100
- I wrote about how I made my $100 in my first month blogging if you want more detail.
- $167.70 affiliate
- $0 ads
- Total income: $167.70
- The strategies from this course were paying off for me.
- $0 affiliate
- $0 ads
- Total income: $0
- Here is where I took a break from blogger overwhelm, then after Christmas, decided to focus on revamping my ENTIRE blog. Therefore nothing promoted, nothing earned. Nothing surprising.
- $202.78 affiliate
- $207.64 ads (Google Adsense)
- Total income: $410.42
- I was starting to see results from my do it or die approach to get my blog on the internet world radar.
- $230.64 affiliate
- $151.12 ads (Google Adsense)
- $1102.77 ads (MediaVine)
- Total income: $1484.53
- I was accepted into the MediaVine ad network and started running ads mid-month. I had lots of pins go viral at the same time, accounting for my best month ever in traffic. I was stoked to reach my first 4-figure month.
- $241.31 affiliate
- $1792.31 ads
- Total income: $2033.62
- Wondering if February was just a fluke, I waited out March to see what the numbers would look like. This made me realize that my dream of finding blogging success is turning more real.
WHAT I LEARNED: I wasn’t afraid to monetize from the beginning, so I implemented affiliate marketing strategies right away and am happily seeing a return on that. I also put up Adsense early on and got a few $100 from that so that was nice. Switching to an ad network increased my revenue by more than threefold, so apply if you aren’t opposed to having ads on your site.
Real blogging advice
I thought I would be one of those exceptional bloggers who would have it together by my launch. I only had an occasional Facebook presence and no blogging experience whatsoever, but somehow thought I would have an opt-in, welcome email series, 5 blog posts, a social media presence on Facebook and Twitter, and figure out Pinterest in one months’ time.
Needless to say, that did not happen. Instead, I had 3 crappy posts, a welcome email series that I wrote and rewrote countless times, had a decent number of group boards on Pinterest, and gave up on Facebook and Twitter.
You see, when you get into blogging with zero background, it’s not that easy. You wear many hats, such as:
- Content creator – which requires finding your writing voice
- Web/tech support – figuring out the backend of your blog
- Marketer/Cheerleader – getting yout content out there, promote, promote, promote
- Public relations – reaching out to others and responding to comments and inquiries made to your blog
- Graphic designer – creating eye-catching visuals
And a bunch of other random things because you’ll have to figure out so many new things along the way.
I got caught up in shiny object syndrome and bought way more courses than I needed to thinking that there was something I was missing in my blogging strategy. But really, to succeed in blogging, you need to know these five things:
- Create content that people want and getting it in front of them.
- Focus on the few things that matter instead of allthethings lest you burn you out and get super frustrated (sometimes to the point that many bloggers quit).
- Actually do stuff (no money gets earned by ideas in your dreams, yo).
- Work hard, have patience, and keep at it.
- Test and tweak to find a system that works for YOU.
Then rinse and repeat. And learn more and try other things if you want to.
This was the best investment I made that was the real turning point for my blogging career. I truly feel it was responsible for allowing me to pursue blogging as a career at a time when I really felt like giving up.
The Thing about Buying Courses
Is it just me or does it feel like people might need to sell a kidney to afford blogging courses nowadays? At the rate that they’re inflating, blogging will be reserved for the rich kids if you want to get a leg up with a thousand dollar course that forces you to choose between rent or a better future.
I’m quite embarrassed to admit that I spent almost $1000 on courses left and right trying to find the “magic secret” to blogging, before I realized that blogging is not hard, it’s just working hard and consistently at it. Hefty price to learn that lesson.
Whatever course you buy, you should really invest the time and effort to implement the strategies. If something “doesn’t work” try reaching out to the course creator or going through the content again to see what you might have missed and give it a real effort before chasing the new hottest product on the market. It’s so easy to get caught up in the marketing tactics, but please understand that blogging is not an overnight success type of deal so really give the ones you own a decent go.
Your sanity and your wallet will thank you for it.
Strategy Moving Forward
You won’t see me posting future blog reports each month to “show” you exactly how I made money when it’s just a screenshot of my traffic with how much I made in income with a general pointer or two on what I think contributed to my success followed by a bunch of affiliate links to blogging products.
In fact, I don’t care to write about blogging topics as much as other lifestyle stuff. I only share blogging knowledge that I think will help the new blogger out to hopefully put more real, honest, and genuinely helpful content out there.
As for my strategy, I will continue focusing on the points I mentioned above to work my way up to $3k, $4k, my goal of $5k and beyond. I sincerely hope this blog income report of a new blog sheds some light on what beginner bloggers can expect if you want to start a blog to make money blogging.