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In the early days of blogging, moms used their blogs as online journals of the goings-on in their families. They shared the funny, the sad and the weird—stories other moms identified with and enjoyed enough to take time from their busy schedules to read and share.
Now the Mom Blog community is a large and powerful media force, offering stay-at-home moms the opportunity to make good money from home. Some make extra money from their blogs. Others become cottage industries, providing enough income to support their families and employees.
MoneySavingMom.com launched around six years ago by Crystal Paine, wife and mother of three. A post about couponing on Crystal’s previous blog received so much feedback from her readers that she wrote a blog series, an e-book and an e-course on the topic. But her readers wanted more, so she started a blog devoted to couponing. MoneySavingMom.com now averages 60,000–85,000 visitors per day and more than 2.5 million page views per month.
Kelly Hancock started FaithfulProvisions.com in early 2009. She began couponing to save money on groceries when she decided to stay home with her two children. She was teaching couponing classes in people’s homes, so she started her blog to share her knowledge with more people. Her list of subscribers has grown from just over 300 to 15,000 in less than 18 months.
We recently talked with Crystal and Kelly to get their perspectives on building a blog into a business.
Q: Do you have a business plan?
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MoneySavingMom (MSM): I didn’t have a specific business model in place, but I definitely had business goals and objectives.
My goals from the beginning have been to:
- help other women significantly reduce their grocery bills
- encourage a paradigm shift in the way people view and handle money
- find ways to earn an income from blogging while not compromising my principles as a blogger
FaithfulProvisions (FP): Initially, we did not have a plan. Faithful Provisions was just supplemental income. It wasn't long before my husband, Bradford, realized the need to have a plan so we could grow on purpose.
Takeaway: In any business, have a plan. Write down goals. Craft a mission statement to keep you on track. You can’t fly by the seat of your pants and coast through forever.
Q: Do you have any mentors?
MSM: When I was first dipping my toe into online and affiliate marketing, I found a Yahoo! Group for entrepreneurs full of individuals who were successful with affiliate marketing and were willing to help newcomers.
I sat at their feet and listened, learned, and asked questions for two years while experimenting with many of the things they suggested. The knowledge and insight I gained was invaluable, even though many of my experiments flopped!
FP: I couldn’t have gotten Faithful Provisions off the ground without several trusted business mentors. There are a lot of things about starting a blog and making it profitable that I did not know how to do. Fortunately, there were people I could seek out as advisors who wanted to help me.
The biblical principles that Dave Ramsey bases his business on have been a great example for us to launch our business. An example of this is adding projects as revenue allows, so we do not accumulate debt.
Takeaway: You can’t create and sustain a business without the help of others along the journey. Seek wise counsel and grow your business as resources allow, just like Dave and these women have done.
Q: What has surprised you most about how your business has developed?
MSM: I’ve been incredibly surprised at how rapidly the blog has grown. And it never ceases to baffle me that hundreds of thousands of people are taking time to read what I write!
FP: I have been most surprised by how people can be affected by a single post on Faithful Provisions. You never know what is going to touch someone—how people will respond to something we post.
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Takeaway: Once you discover your passions and strengths and consistently use them, they will shine through in your work. Your message and services don’t have to appeal to everyone; a niche market is powerful and active.
Q: What would you do differently if you could?
MSM: I wish I hadn’t waited until this past year to bring people on to work for me! Having people help me with the behind-the-scenes work has taken so much off of my shoulders and made my blog 10 times better.
FP: We would have an office space outside of the home. Then, we could better separate work life and home life. They blur together sometimes, and we'd like to do a better job at keeping them separate.
Takeaway: Delegation and time management are important aspects of a business that are often overlooked and underestimated. Keep these top of mind and take the steps necessary to work most effectively to grow your business.
Q: What are the three most important things people should know about blogging as a business?
MSM: First, it’s work. A whole lot of hard work, sweat and effort. There’s no such thing as easy money in blogging.
Second, it requires passion and perseverance. If you’re not passionate about your subject matter, you’re going to burn out quickly.
And finally, it’s vitally important to remember that it’s only a blog. No matter how big it grows, how much money it makes or how many people are reading, don’t let it take over your life. Your relationship with the Lord and your family are your first priorities. When you blog in balance, it’s much more enjoyable and fulfilling.
FP: Have goals for your blog and plan how to get there. From your business plan to revenue and growth to who is watching the kids, have your plan and goals written down and refer to them often.
Establish boundaries. When you work from home, situations can change quickly and sometimes you have to be flexible. Try to establish blogging times and stick to them.
Stay organized. Keep good records of everything, from contacts to accounting.
Learn more about growing your business the way Dave has over the years at his EntreLeadership conference. If you are a passionate entrepreneur and/or leader like these ladies, you definitely don’t want to miss out on this powerful event!