- I’ve recently decided to start a new series where I interview bloggers and entrepreneurs who are doing amazing things with their blogs and online businesses.
First up is my friend Suzi Whitford of Start a Mom Blog, who is currently making more than $20,000 per month less than 2 years after starting her blog - selling ebooks and online courses!
I asked you, my readers, what questions I should ask Suzi, so below is a video where Suzi answers all of your questions - and some of mine.
- Note: Make sure you're following me on Facebook so you have the opportunity to submit your own questions for the next interview.
In this interview, you'll learn:
And much more! So, without further ado...
Note: This post contains affiliate links which means that if you make a purchase using my links, I may receive a small commission at no additional cost to you. You can read my full disclosure here. Thanks for your support - it means the world to me!
If you would like to read the interview, I have also provided a transcript below.
Hi there! I am Suzi from Start A Mom Blog and I just want to say thank you to Chantel for sending me these interview questions. They're super candid questions from herself and her readers and I'm very happy to answer them for you.
Because my time is limited I'm going to put them in video form instead of writing down all the answers so this is just easier for me having three kids, I find very little time to really work. So, this is the fastest way for me to do an awesome guest post so let's get right into it!
What advice do you have for bloggers that are not blogging about blogging or online marketing?
Alright. So, if you're not blogging about blogging or blogging about how to increase your money or online marketing or any of those topics, make sure you’re in one of the four topics that I'll give you right now. It's either Health, Wealth, Love or Happiness. If your blog addresses a problem point and one of those topics then you can make money with it because people will pay to solve their problems.
Take for example I have a mommy who guest posted on my blog recently and she has a fitness blog to help mommies get back in shape after having a baby so that's obviously something that I've spent a lot of money on. I spent ninety dollars on a corset to help me slim my tummy again. I've spent countless amount of money on home DVD's to get back in shape so make sure your blog has a topic that people are willing to pay for. If they're paying for it now then they will pay for it when you create advice on that topic.
Another tip that you can do — you can go to Amazon and see what's most popular on Amazon and see what people are paying for that’s awesome. So, you can use that kind of as a reference point if they're paying for it on Amazon they're going to pay for it on your blog when you give them advice on it.
What strategies do you use to stand out in a crowded niche?
So, a lot of people blog about blogging. I’m not the only person. I’m not the first one. I probably won't be the last one. How do I stand out in a crowded niche? Honestly, I try to put my head down and just work really hard and I'm myself. I try to be myself as much as I can because nobody else can be me. I mean… they can talk about the same topics, they can explain the same concepts, but they can't be me. So it's cliché but be yourself because then you're really going to be unique.
Also, in all honesty, I don't browse other people in my niche. I don't browse their blogs that much. I try to stay focused on my own work. So that I am not influenced by their amazing work and what they're doing, so that I explain things in my own words and with my own unique perspective without being influenced by anybody else in a similar niche.
How do you decide which projects have the best ROI?
So, return on investment. How do I decide that? Just test and experiment. There's a lot of times… tools and freebies and blog posts that I write and invest in that just fall flat. I try to test things out on a smaller scale so instead of creating an entire course on a new topic, I would maybe create a freebie on it or a blog post on it and see how that does. If it does well, then I'll continue and create maybe an ebook on that topic and see if that does well. If the ebook does well, then I'll go ahead and create the course and make invest more time into that. But before you throw all your money at one specific project see how you can test it out in smaller steps before maybe investing too much time or money into it and I hope that makes sense.
How much time do you invest in learning versus working on your blog and business?
I spend the mornings in the evenings working on my blog when my kids are sleeping. That's when I have focused quiet time so I can actually write blog post, answer emails, or create products and then I'm learning when the kids are awake or during my daily routine I listen to podcasts. I would watch YouTube videos and maybe read a book that's something that I can do while the kids are playing around me. It's hard to do that focused blogging work when the kids are up. So, I save that for early mornings or late at night.
When I started blogging two years ago how long did it take to go from zero to one hundred email subscribers and what was the biggest lesson from that stage?
So, before I even launched my blog, I didn't have any post on it. I just created a landing page and on the landing page I offered any new subscribers — if they signed up to my blog and to my email list — I offered to feature them when my blog goes live. So that will give them a back link and give them some traffic even though my blog was new. That helped me grow my blog and my list to one hundred sixteen email subscribers and then I took that option away because I couldn't feature thousands and thousands and thousands of people so I grew my list to one hundred sixteen subscribers before it launched. And the way I promoted it was just going into Facebook groups and connecting with other bloggers and other StartaMomBlog.com members and sharing my home page which was also a landing page.
At what point did you create your first item for sale and how many months and subscribers in?
So, I launched Start A Mom Blog in January of 2016 and in May 2016, I wrote my first ebook Blog By Number and I launched it in June. Yes I took the whole month of May to create it and then June I launched it and I had roughly around two thousand subscribers. I only promoted it very heavily to my email list and I had some mistakes on how I did that but in my on my blog I have a blog post that goes through the mistakes that I did when I first sold my first ebook. So I do my launches much differently now.
Did you advertise it as well?
I didn't pay for any advertising but I did promote it a couple times on social media on Facebook. Yeah, on Facebook pretty much it.
How do you keep your followers engaged?
I email my list once a week at least on a Monday. So normally I share with them what I'm learning, what's working, any new blog post that I have, any tips that I've learned, time management techniques. So that's how I keep them engaged.
I also have a funnel that most of not most but all of my new readers go through so that makes them get some what familiar with me and who I am. It offers them a free blogging course so they can kind of see my teaching style and if they like me or not.
Do I recommend making ebooks and courses on similar material or just offering one or the other?
I recommend if you've never created a product before to first create that ebook that is a smaller investment of time on your part. It also costs less to sell ebooks because courses in core software cost a little bit more. So, I recommend first creating that ebook that does really well then take that content and create a course and add videos, add supplemental workbooks, add more to it. You could still have the ebook as a smaller, a lower price option and then the course as well or you can just eliminate the ebook and then just focus on the course but I recommend starting with the smaller product first.
How do you make it all work with kids at home how do you set a plan for your day and what does that look like?
All right so I just recently had my third baby. He's now two and a half months old so my routine is a little different and we're still adjusting to life with three kids. With two kids it was good because they napped at the same time and they both slept in. So, I had early mornings to work and then the afternoons as well. Now with three kids and the older one not napping anymore it's a little bit more erratic to find time to blog so what we're focusing on now and when I say we it's me and my husband cause I pulled him in to help me a little bit.
How am I making it work with three kids and one is two and a half months old is I'm getting my husband to help me. So if you have somebody that can help you either get a V.A. to help you do the tasks that you don't have time for. Outsource something. So I outsource it to my husband. He's doing some things for me on the blog running the affiliate program and running Facebook ads then what else? Okay…
How do I set a plan for a day?
So now with three kids I work early in the morning again but I only get like an hour or two maybe two and then late at night. I used to not work too much late at night now I kind of have to again because the days are so erratic. But I mean it's just an adjustment continuously especially as our family's changing and growing and routines are changing. It's just constantly thinking.
Okay, the time that I do have how can I use that most efficiently? And then because I don't have that much time which things and what things can I automate? So, don’t be afraid to invest in like Tailwind which can do automatic pinning for you or right now we're running Facebook ads and those are doing very well. So, that's helping to grow my list on autopilot. I’d rather pay for that traffic instead of working because I don't have the time.
So, you just have to kind of see where can you automate some parts of your life, where can you eliminate some tasks, and where can you delegate things too. So you don't have to do it all because life is hectic and it's busy but it's possible to do this.
If you're blogging as a business does that make you an entrepreneur or why or why not?
Crazy question! If you're only blogging and offering services are you an entrepreneur or do you need your own products and courses? Let's see definition of entrepreneur I think it's here. Definition. A person who organizes and operates a business or a businesses taking on greater than normal financial risks in order to do so.
So if you're not offering products and courses of course you're still an entrepreneur! You're offering yourself, you are the product if you're offering services on your blog. Your blog is your business. So, of course you're an entrepreneur or you're running a business which is your blog. It generates an income even if it doesn't generate income it's generating leads for you that will be future customers. So, Yes! You’re an entrepreneur even if you don't have products and courses on your blog. Next question.
Did you originally start your blog to talk about blogging? If not what was it about and how much did you make with it and what ways did to monetize?
Alright, so, initially way back in the day when I was in college I taught Coding and Visual Basic to college students. I was a teaching assistant. I love coding. I love anything websites anything like. My background is in industrial engineering so I'm very techie.
So, back in the day I used to do that then when we got married I made a blog about our wedding so that was fun to kind of blog about our journey as a couple and falling in love. And then when I became a stay-at-home mom I started blogging about my mommy journey and motherhood and my baby and finally getting her to sleep through the night. I was so happy to finally get my baby to sleep through the night that I created this monster blog post about it. I wanted to share my advice so that I could monetize a blog but it was very focused on Catholic parenting. I monetized it through mostly through affiliates. I made a couple hundred dollars with it.
I liked doing it but I'm not a fantastic writer. I'm not very eloquent. I'm not very funny. I'm not great with emotions, there are some moms that just write these amazing bald posts and when you get to the end of it you're crying.
I'm not that great of a writer so I went back to my engineering skills and my strengths that I have. I'm great at teaching and writing SOP's (Standard Operating Procedures). So, if I'm great at teaching, if I used to do teaching back in college of how to code and how to create websites, why don't I help moms create blogs and monetize them as well? So that's where Start A Mom Blog came from just because it naturally fits my strengths.
Can you still have a very successful blog biz if you prefer to only offer ebooks but not create courses?
Yes! Yes! I grew my blog to I think five thousand dollars per month just having the Blog By Number ebook. So I went from nothing to five thousand dollars per month just having the Blog By Number ebook. And the way I did that was by growing my email list and then doing guest posts on bigger blogger's websites and blogs.
So I first promoted my ebook to my email list that's where I started getting my in my good chunk of my income. And then I would sign big bloggers up to be an affiliate for my ebook because they liked it. They reach out to me they're like, "oh I love your ebook can I be an affiliate?" I'm like, "of course!" So, they're an affiliate and I guest post on their blog so that any purchases made through their blog of my product they get a percentage of it and I get a percentage of it so that's a way that you can really grow your income just through ebooks from your blog.
When you create your first product had anyone suggested that they wanted to buy something from you or did you just go ahead and create it?
So, I started my own blog in January and launched it then and I created a Blog by Number ebook in May and launched in June. So from January to April a lot of my readers were asking for a complete guide to blogging of how I started more the step by step Tutorials and the more information they were asking the more it prompted me to put all this information together and create an ebook for them because of the questions that I got from my email list. So I kept them very engaged and asked them questions in every email that I sent so that I can get responses back from them. And through the questions they asked that prompted me to create the ebook. And like I said before it was a safe way for me to create an ebook first and see if that would sell and work well with my list.
And then five or six months after I created the ebook, I created a Blog by Number the course. Because I saw that ebook was doing well I created the course and that did well as well so I would advise starting with a smaller product first, testing it ou,t and then moving on to a more time intensive product like a course.
Whoo! Alright! So those are the questions in Candid Questions that Chantel sent me. Thank you so much for giving me the opportunity to share a little bit of my knowledge with you. If you want to know anything else about me just go to StartaMomBlog.com I'm there and I do a ton of live videos right on my Facebook page where I share weekly tips and tricks that I'm using to grow my blog. Anyway, Thank you so much and I hope you have a wonderful day.