How I took my blog from a hobby to a business


Have you ever gotten your car stuck in sand? It’s happened to me a few times and it’s frustrating and a little embarrassing. Your wheels spin and spin and sand flies everywhere and people standing on the sidewalk look at you like it’s your first day on the planet. 

That is how I felt about blogging for a long time. Like my tires were stuck in perpetual sand. 

Did I tell you that two years ago I almost quit blogging? I was so frustrated, I had put so much time and love into this blog and if just felt like no one was reading it. While I did have a small, yet very loyal readership, I was disheartened. 

So when I signed up for Elite Blog Academy, it was sort of my last resort. If this didn’t work I was shutting down shop and moving on with my life. I had heard blogger after blogger after blogger rave about the course

Note: Currently the course is only available to once a year (in the spring) so right now it's not open. But you can sign up for the wait list. I recommend doing this so you can jump and grab a spot as soon as possible. 

They said it boosted their traffic, increased their readership, helped them learn to engage with their audience and retain readers. When I looked into the course I saw that if it didn’t work I could get my money back. That was the only way I was able to talk myself into paying for the course. 

And after taking the class I did have regrets… regrets that I didn’t take it when it was offered sooner. 

Before I took the course I was lucky to get 4,000 views a month. Just two months after I completed the course I was pulling in 150,000 a month easy!

Part 1: What worked for me

While I am not going to give away all the things I learned (it really would spoil it) here are the things that turned it all around for me. 

1. Find the right name. 

Before I was Frugal Debt Free Life I was A blog name that was confusing, hard to remember and didn't fully encompass my message. It was basically a failing food blog with terrible photos and recipes that were hard to follow. (Sorry about that!!) 

But when my husband and I became debt free I wanted to change the name as I had changed my own story. Thus was born. 

Who knew an $8 investment in a new domain name would make a huge difference??? 

2. Find the right topic

Like I said, my story changed, so my topic changed too. Some blogs are all over the place and can be successful in that. They can write about food one day and fashion the next and how to organize their bathroom and it just fits. 

But sometimes that comes across as a lack of organization or an overall message. At least, that's how mine felt. 

So find a topic you LOVE, one you could talk about all day and not say the same thing twice. That's your message. 

3. Make your content great

While I think an editorial schedule is key (we will talk about that in a sec) being slave to the calendar will do nothing if you're not spending time making your content great. 

Instead of just slapping something up because it's Monday, take time to flesh out a great idea. Think about it from the perspective of your reader and SOLVE A PROBLEM. When you start to think of yourself as a problem solver, that's when things start to move. 

4. List posts are your friend

My readers LOVE list posts. Most of them are busy moms and they don't have time to sift through a LOOOONG and wordy blog post. So instead I break it down into a list they can scan and then move on. 

5. Be consistent

The internet is littered with abandoned blogs. In fact, there are bloggers I used to faithfully read and then one day I saw they just weren't posting as often. It would be months and months between new posts. 

While you don't have to post every day, shoot for at least once a week and post on the same day. 

Pull out your day planner and just jot down what you're going to write about a few weeks in advance. It works, trust me. 

Part II: Mastering Pinterest. 

I'm a big fan of Pinterest. I mean who isn't? In fact, I find myself using it instead of a search a lot of the time. 

Yes, sometimes you have to sort through dead pins or bad information, but more times than not I find exactly what I am looking for. 

I also love it because it has helped me grow my blog. 

I started using Pinterest from day one (February 2012 to be exact) but what I didn't do was use Pinterest effectively. I would just slap a photo up there with a brief caption and hope for the best. Wrong. Nope. No. Not gonna work. 

1. Find better photos

Pinterest is all about the visual. You cannot post content to it without an image. The problem? I am not a good photographer. At all. So I started using more stock photos to convey the message of my posts. While I do use a lot of my personal photos, I would say it is 60/40 when it comes to the MAIN photo for each post. 

I get my photos from a variety of sources, my favorite being Lightstock. They actually offer four free photos a month. I signed up for a $10 a month account which gives me two photos of my choice and then a free member photo as well as social media graphics. So I end up with seven photos a month for just $10. It's a pretty good deal. 

I also occasionally use Picjumbo's free photos. (But I find some of their content questionable.)

You want photos that are clear and colorful. 

2. Use the right headlines

Because most people who use Pinterest skim the images, you want to include catchy text on your photo to let people know what your post is about. And you want it to grab their attention.

For example, one of my most read posts has been "6 Habits of Highly Frugal People." The post was originally called "6 ways I save money." But that's boring and it doesn't convey the real message of the post. 

Once you pick the right headline, use a program like Picmonkey (because it's free!) to overlay the title on your photo. 

3. Always go vertical

Pinterest loves vertical photos. They are more visually appealing and eye catching. Horizontal pins get lost in the mix. So use a vertical photo (you can crop it using Picmonkey) with dimensions of atlas 500 by 700 pixels. 

4. Be descriptive

It's easy to throw your pin up there with a brief description like "6 ways we save money this week at the supermarket" But that's not going to work. 

Pinterest filters pins by search terms. So if I search "how to save money on groceries" your pin might not show up. 

Instead, write something like this "Ten ways one family living on $40,000 a year is saving a ton of money at the grocery store without clipping coupons. It shows how to cut your grocery bill in half. This post has a lot of cheap healthy dinners and cheap gluten free meals. I had never heard of tip #4."

You can see from this example that I have included several search terms like "saving at the grocery store without clipping coupons" and "cut your grocery bill in half" "cheap healthy dinner" "gluten-free meals." 

Of course, you NEVER want to include search terms in your description that are not in your posts. That's unethical. 

5. Join group boards

Group boards are a must if you're wanting to boost your traffic. In fact, I have a group board that's currently open. 

And Crystal from Money Saving Mom has an awesome list. 

Just remember to follow the rules of the board, don't spam. If the board creator says one pin a day keep it to one pin. Doing more than that will get you banned. 

6. Have a strategy

Pinning one pin a day isn't going to cut it. You need to pin several pins across several boards a day. Don't worry, people won't mind if you're pinning multiple times as long as the content is good. In fact, I will often pin the same pin to multiple boards I own. I just make sure to not do it at the same time. 

And if you're in a group board that is pretty large and allows you to pin twice a day, try to pin the same article in the morning and then again in the evening. 

However, who no one has time to just sit around Pinterest all day. I use Boardbooster, a program that does the pinning for me. For just $5 a month Boardbooster pins to my group boards. And $5 gets you 500 pins. So it's a good bargain. 

It's really a set it and forget it program, but I like to go in once a week and change up my pins to keep it fresh. It also tells you the pins that are getting the most attention. 

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