how to grow your blog and earn some money too

Here I was thinking to myself what am I going to write about this weekend? Then a lovely reader Shari emailed me with a question and I was like, that would make a great blog post! Shari runs a great blog Good Food Week and loves it. She’s on maternity leave and loves being at home and wants to know my great tips for growing your blog and making some money on the side.

I’ve written a few blog posts on this. For me I started blogging 7 years ago just to share life as a new mum and my craft which at the time was just knitting. Imagine that, me with just one craft under my belt. Didn’t even have a craft room back in those days. About a year later I started selling japanese fabrics online and my store name retro mummy and the blog came along. And the store kept me busy and I loved it and that provided some income on the side. I’d always been doing something on the side to make a few dollars since keira was born because we needed it and I liked having some money for craft and clothes.

Now this was before I was on facebook and the only things I had to worry about were my blog, my store and flickr. This was before pinterest and having to be across all social media. So I was busy but I was loving it and it was my store that was bringing in my money. And it was hard work. Ordering fabric, photographing it, uploading it to the store, cutting it, packing it, posting it, answering questions, queries and complaints. It was hard work. I’d take a break when a baby was born and then back to it.

After a few years (so we’re talking over 3 years ago now) I joined an agency for sidebar ads (Nuffnang). After a little while they rang me out of the blue and asked would I review a Panasonic camera and I could keep it. Wow. And that was my very first sponsored post. The first of many. Doing sponsored posts is how I started making money from the blog alongside the store and it became easier than the store. So I closed the store and stuck with the posts, joined The Remarkables in 2012 just after Emerson was born and haven’t looked back. Sponsored posts are my bread and butter. It’s not for everyone but it works for me. I get to choose who I want to work with and I get paid for the time I put into the blog. It’s not about just the time of writing that sponsored post but for maintaining this blog and keeping it all running smoothly.

I also do sidebar ads which is a great little way to sell space on your blog to small business (and big business if you’re lucky enough) and I use passionfruit ads (thanks to Nikki of Styling you for that tip). You upload the code to your website and advertisers do it all through passionfruit which saves a lot of time and emails back and forth and checking you’ve been paid. Get on to it if you’re not using it.

So that’s how I make my money. My best advice if you’re into making money from your blog or website or online business is get yourself onto problogger and get yourself to his conferences. Even if making money isn’t your goal that is the one conference of the year I tell people to go to. It covers all levels of blogging and is a great way to meet people, learn something new and think about your blog or website in a new way. For me last year it was Amy Porterfield who really changed how I use facebook and helped me focus on growing that page not just being on facebook.

There are other ways to make money online which might suit you- selling a product (either something you’ve bought wholesale or made), e-books, mentoring and coaching, affiliate programs (so you have ads on your sidebar that are through affiliate networks when someone makes a purchase coming from your website), writing for other websites/publications and speaking at events.

OK so growing your blog takes a few things. Time, dedication and love are top of my list. Some bloggers get burnt out because they go all out and then they wonder where the rewards are or why their goals haven’t been met. They need a break or hate it or wonder why they started in the first place. If you love it and keep loving it and pace yourself and set realistic goals then it can happen. I’ve never really set goals for my blog as I’m very much slow and steady but the reason that I am still here blogging is the time, dedication and love. I’ve done it for the love, the readership and because I love to share. I’m a talker and I spend most of my days at home inside the house with lots of little people so my blog is my pretty place that I get to make look all pretty and lovely and I get to share life with everyone. If I stop loving it then I’ll stop blogging.

You need to find your niche. When I think of some of my favourite blogs I can quickly describe them in a few words and there is no one like them. They have their own niche and that is why others read them too. OK here we go – Beach Cottage – white furniture, beach photos, english girl living by the beach. Styling you – photos of outfits, model and me, fashion. Woogsworld – funny stories, loves to talk, BabyMac – lives in the country, food and a clean house, Soulemama – homeschooling, knitting, farm life. So I like all of these blogs for different reasons and very quickly I’ve shared a few things about the blogs and what makes them different. You are different from the next person and you need to work out how your blog or website will be different from the next one. And it can apply to your online fabric store or craft business. What is it about your business that is different. And you stay true to your niche and it’s easy if you’re just being yourself and love what you do. There is always room for a new website or business or blog and you just have to make sure you find your niche and set yourself apart.

Have a great blog or website name and own your own domain and your facebook, twitter, pinterest, flickr, etc. You want the same name (for me it’s retro mummy) across it all. Just keeping it simple and making it easier for people to find you. Someone might mention your blog or website to a friend and you never know how they are going to find you so having the same name and keeping it simple enough to remember will help people find you on the internet. It also helps google find you and you it could be that video on youtube that people find first rather than your website.

Have a tag line that sums up who you are and what your blog and website is about. Thanks to my readers who helped me with my baking and making with my family of 7. I did a little question on facebook and then put a few of the responses into a little poll on facebook and worked on a favourite and voila I had a tag line.

Have an About Me page on your blog. Tell your story and let people know who you are, what you look like and what your website is about.

Get out there and comment on blogs and facebook pages, make friends on twitter, go to meet ups, network and just put your blog name and yourself out there. Be brave (for some of us it’s a hard thing to do but gets easier) and go to conferences with your big brave face and meet people and ask questions. Join Digital Parents if blogging is all new to you and you’ll find so many new and experienced bloggers who are willing to answer your questions, help you with your facebook page, share your blog and help you. That’s one of my number 1 tips to lovely ladies who email me about where to start with a blog. If you have a business that sells products then do markets and meet your customers and new ones.

Manage your time. Just because you’re on facebook or pinterest all day doesn’t mean you’re actually working to grow those pages for yourself. That’s something I’ve learnt. If growing your facebook page is a goal for yourself then start following Amy Porterfield who has lots of practical and easy advice to get your page growing and in a meaningful way. There are lots of top pinners on pinterest and ways to grow your pinterest page (great list of tips here) so start learning them and following the principles. Read other bloggers tips like Styling you, ProBlogger, Fat Mum Slim and I love Tsh Oxenreider who I met at problogger last year and has a huge following but down to earth advice and tips. Is there someone you like for blogging advice, let me know so I can add them here for my readers. You need to work out what times work for you to be online and manage your time so that you aren’t online 24/7 and missing out on life. For me having someone help me with my emails has freed up some of my time and someone else doing my bookkeeping has also helped.

Make family your priority. This is for the stay at home mums and something that I’ve always followed even when I was running a fabric store. The family and home life has to come first. Now of course that doesn’t mean that you’re chained to your house 24/7 or you never go to events. But for me the invitations come in so fast and I am a stay at home mum with a busy schedule and I chose to be home to be with my little ones. So there is no point in me attending lots of events and not being at home. Defeats the purpose of being at home. If your kids are at school then it’s different and lunch time events probably suit you. But for me, I generally don’t do weekday events unless they are paid events. Set your own boundaries and what will work and won’t work for your home life. I do make it a priority to attend a conference or two each year. So going away to ProBlogger last year was a big deal and wasn’t something that I could do when I had baby twins or 3 under 3 but now that the bigger kids are bigger and we have some help it’s something that I can do. If I have to meet a client for a big blog post coming up then that is important.

Work out your goals. Now for me this is a bit funny because blogging was never about growing the blog or making more money. I didn’t set out with those goals. I had to join google analytics when I joined The Remarkables but never really paid attention to my traffic and only check it once a month to update my Work with me page. If you go to any conference or you are serious about your blog becoming your business then just like a business plan you need some goals. What is the purpose of your blog or your website. What do you want to achieve. How much time are you going to put in each day/week. What kind of work do you want to do? Do you want to mentor other bloggers, do you have business skills that you want to share online, do you have a hobby that people want to learn. If this is too hard for you to do or work out there are now other bloggers and people who can help you do this.

Staying true to yourself is also very important. How many times have we visited a blog and it just seems like they are trying to copy someone else. I’ve seen that in other blogs before and it’s a real turn off. There is something not real about them and it’s going to be a hard act to keep up. People warm to the real you and honesty. I try to keep it real, the good and the bad. You want people to like you for you and it comes back to finding your niche and being yourself. What I love about blogging and the internet is that I can connect with other gorgeous people who love craft and home life as much as I do and also large families. Because in my own circle of friends most people do not love craft or baking or having lots of babies. So use the internet and your website to build your little community and by staying true to who you are you will find your own success. Don’t copy. It’s easy to spot and not how you are going to find your own success.

Don’t be so focused on growing your blog and making money. What? Isn’t that what this blog post is all about? I’m confused. Well the thing is that for all of the bloggers that I know their goal in starting their blog was not to take over the world and make lots of money. And especially for me. My blog was just my way to share and my little online store was my way to do what I loved (which was buying and selling fabric and having it at my house) and making a bit of money on the side. The income from this blog has been a total surprise to me and never something that I went after. If and when my income dries up I will probably still run this blog because it’s part of who I am and I love it so much. I can’t go back to the 9 to 5 or work for someone else. I would probably set up another home business and use what I know to work from home and use my skills for something different. I do think that people have the blogger burnout which I mentioned before because the focus is all about growing and having x amount of traffic or earning x amount of dollars each month and you can lose the love. Finding what you love and doing it because you love it and it interests you will probably be the best way that you will find your growth. And you might need to step away from the computer to find your real focus and that’s ok.

I wasn’t raised in a family where people worked for themselves or made money from home but I do think that it’s a great way to be home with your family or to do something you are passionate about and be happy with your life. I also think that it’s the way forward as more people become disillusioned with big jobs and what they were taught was success. For me it’s about living a good life (because we’re not going to be here forever) and about being happy. But it involves a lot of hard work and everyone I know with a successful blog or home business works very hard at it and puts in a lot of hours that aren’t seen just by looking at the website. So be prepared for hard work, sit down and work out what it is you want to do and how you are going to get there, find a mentor who can help you, find your inspiration, set some goals and also rewards for yourself, be realistic, keep home and family your priority, step away from the computer and your phone whenever you can, be yourself and don’t copy others, take some risks and get outside your comfort zone every now and then, be brave and share your goals with someone else.

And that my friends is a bit of wisdom from yours truly. I’m not the expert on html codes or how to send newsletters or stay on top of your email inbox but I do still love what I do, I love the readers I have and the beautiful community here and I feel lucky and privileged to be bringing in money that makes a real difference in our home and rewards the work I have put in over the years.

Over to you…….questions, tips for readers, want me to elaborate on something? Fire away…………………………

Comments

  1. Fantastic post Corrie, thanks so much for sharing. Lots to think about and put into practice. Elaina xo

    • For me it is also about balance. I tend to blog at night when my children are in bed. I don’t like them to see me on the computer all the time. I’m not on instagram, twitter etc. I use Facebook to load my newly published post and that is it. I also don’t use a mobile. I would struggle to keep up with everything without it infringing on everyday life. x

  2. A fantastic post Corrie. So many of your posts are brilliant and I enjoy them all for different reasons but this is one that has definitely struck a chord as I embark on trying to start an online business. Thank you for sharing your wisdom and hints and tips.

  3. You nailed it for me with this comment “I’m a talker and I spend most of my days at home inside the house with lots of little people” that’s one of the biggest reasons I started my blog as well, it’s a way of keeping the adult conversation up in my life (even though it is quite often a one sided conversation!!). This is a great post Corrie.

  4. Thanks so much for this post Corrie. I have only just started a blog a matter of weeks ago so this has been super helpful. I’m really just having fun with it at this point. I’ve never thought of it as a way to make money but it’s nice to know in the future it may be possible. Thanks for sharing all your great tips.

  5. What a great post – and at a great time of year, when people reasses what they want from life & their goals. Growing my blog is a goal of mine this year and I’m excited for the plans I have in the works.

  6. Corrie thanks for such an invaluable post. I’m guessing it took more than a few minutes to compile – even more thanks for the extra time taken. Some of these things have been on my mind recently; your words of wisdom and advice are very much appreciated and will be applied.

    I am not a knitter (though I love to quilt, sew, cook and generally create!), but I thought you might be interested in this link (if you haven’t already come across it!).

    http://www.aestheticnest.com/2014/01/knitting-arm-knit-infinity-cowl-tutorial.html

  7. Awesome post – thank you. I have even book marked so I can keep coming back. I’ve found with blogging the more you do it the more involved it becomes, your tip about family first is so true, thanks for reminding me x

  8. Small house big family says:

    Hi, I’ve just discovered your blog, and just starting out myself. I’m a stay at home mum, and using it as an outlet for myself like you :) my question is, how do you keep the retro mummy side seperate from your personal side re: social media? Or do you? I have a personal Facebook page etc, but would rather keep my small house big family blog/ pages seperate. I’m not sure if I want to share with all my family and friends yet! What do you do? Thanks

  9. Great post Corrie! It’s so true that there is so much more work behind the scenes, and if you didn’t do it for love you wouldn’t do it for the money. I love how you balance it with your family. I struggle and it’s just me and Jim to look after! x

  10. Such a brilliant post Corrie! I have learnt so much through reading it. You really are such an inspiration :-) xxx Lucy

  11. Wow, thanks for sharing all that information! For me, my blog has always been a hobby and a way to share the things I make, but a few more comments now and then would be lovely – I do find a lot of people read and then comment on my Facebook page rather than the blog and that’s ok too, at least then I don’t feel ignored.
    I’ve been trying to make something of my handmade business for many years now and I know how hard it is with children (particularly homeschooling at the same time) but then again, my family is the reason I’m trying to make a home business, so I can stay at home where I feel I belong :)

  12. A great post! Thanks so much for all your blogging history and congratulations for growing such a successful blog. How far in were you before it really started to take off?

  13. Hi Corrie you advice is a great help, I am new to blogging and just love it. Living in rurasl austrailia 600km from the nearest big town it has made me feel so much more connected to everything and being able to chat to others with the same interest has been great. I will certainly be acting on your advice!

  14. Thanks for sharing Corrie – its nice to hear advise and stories. Never knew about passionfruit ads so looking into that at the moment. Its a real learning curve this blogging – but its fun and i am enjoying the ride.

  15. Hi Corrie, again a very helpful post. I was wondering if you could let me know, when you were selling fabrics – how did you find the suppliers? I have ideas but don’t know where to start sourcing products. I understand if you font want to give all your secrets away. Thanks and I wish I had 1/2 your talent in craft, cooking and organisation.

    • hi there, yep you want to look up the quilt trade shows which have all the fabric distributors in one place, there is one in june and it’s a great place to find out the fabrics and order them ahead of time. Another way to do it if you can’t wait that long is work out the fabric brands you want to stock, go to to their website, they will have worldwide distributors and you can just contact the local one for australia, ask their trading terms and open an account. It’s all very easy and fun:) :)

  16. Belinda Milne says:

    Wow this is great thanks so much for your inspiration and your efforts for writing this blog everyday.

    When starting out how often do you recommend to blog and how do you know when a good time to post your blog? I am wanting to start my first ever blog about being a mum and wanting a career, and how I have failed along the way and changed the way I do things.

    Also thanks for the references in regards to blogging so very helpful I thank you again.

    • we used to be told to blog everyday but now it’s just about being regular so say twice or three times a week and at the same time every day. I don’t really as I’ve always got so much on but I try to have the post up in the morning but it doesn’t always work like that:) :) just make sure you share your post on social media :)

      good luck, sounds like its going to be an interesting blog for mums

  17. Thank you of this Corrie. I have wanted to start a blog for a while and this made me do it. Also thanks for the information about the advertisements on your blog and how to make some money. I can’t actually make money on my blog till I’m 18 but that means that I have some time to develop and improve my posts.

  18. Great post Corrie, I’m new to blogging I found your post quite inspiring. Thank you

  19. Thanks for a very informative post. As a new blogger all these tips are very helpful and it’s great that experienced bloggers like yourself are happy to share advice.

  20. Hi Corrie, Thank you for your very informative post. Very true. I am way behind in sharing our “african life”. I need to find (and make) the time to get my pictures on. Just wish our internet was a wee bit faster here… Anyway, I enjoy your blog. Continue what you do. Blessings to you and your family.

  21. Hi Corrie, I loved your post! Thanks so very much for your generosity in sharing knowledge like this with us all. I love writing! I love creating! I love baking and all thing family! I really enjoy reading yours and others blogs, and some certainly do turn stand out…. keep up the great work, and happy blogging… maybe I’ll get mine up and running soon :-)

  22. Hi Corrie,
    The timing of finding this post couldn’t be better! I am using my blog as a way of sharing pictures and stories with family across the world. I was also trying to sell some of my hand-crafted items on the side. But then the lingering thoughts from my PND crept back in and resulted in yesterday’s melt-down…. I was ready to pack it all in. This post has reminded me I was never in it for the money or any sort of recognition, but for a chance to share and be happy, and somehow I had lost that in a very short space of time.
    I will spend this weekend reflecting and realigning my goals with what I actually want to achieve – and reset my priorities around that.
    Thank you x

  23. Thanks for that post &to @alittlebirdiemademe for sharing it. I started my blog with the goal of making money & getting some publishing ideas off the ground but have since forgotten all that as I got involved in the details & churning out copy. Thanks for putting me back on track. I’ll write my goal on a sheet of paper above my desk to remember what I’m doing. It’ll also help me remember my stories are in my day-to-day life not just going out & looking for them. I’ll check out those references & hope to meet you at a conference some time soon. Cheers http://www.itstartedinla.com

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