How I Went From Side Hustle to Full Time Blogger

It has been 6 months since my husband and I made the decision to have me start blogging full time. I get questions all the time about how I made this happen and what it looks like to work from home. It still feels surreal to me, but I am finally writing it all down so I can help you too. First I will give you a little background on how I got started. 

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I began taking this blog seriously (still as a side hustle) in November of 2017. I purchased a new theme and put in the work to design my site. I was working as a nurse at the time and I was only able to work on the blog after my kids were in bed and on the weekends. It was difficult (sometimes very difficult), but I really loved it. I started seeing a lot of growth after January 2019 and it consistently continued to grow after that. With a lot of thought, planning and prayer, my husband and I decided it was time for me to take the leap to full time in June (2019).

I was not yet able to replace my entire full time income, but we saved over $1,500/month in daycare expense alone.  Once I was able to commit full time hours to The Bettered Blondie, my page views increased by 258% and my Ad income increased by 998%!! That is incredible growth. My Ad income in May was $114.87 and was $1,261.67 in October. This income does not include sponsored posts or affiliate marketing. My page views went from 26,291 to 94,063! See the screenshots below.

*Update- I was up t0 320,000 page views just a few months later in January 2020!

Feb 2019 Earnings Paid in May
October Earnings to be paid in Jan 2020
Page Views May 2019
Page views October 2019

So what did I do to see this drastic of growth in such a short period of time? Here are six steps that I took to turn my side hustle into a full time gig!

1.) Create a spreadsheet for old posts

The very first thing that I did when I decided to go full time was make a spreadsheet of every single post on my site. I went through and made columns for important things that every post should have. I made this list after lots of research and from analyzing my own data. I would tackle one post at a time and try to hit every check mark that I could. Here are some of the columns that I made…

  • High Quality Photos
  • Better writing with helpful information
  • Video (this is slow-going for me, but I am working on it) 

I don’t just use this checklist for old posts, I also use it when I am creating a new post. 

2.) Better photography

I mentioned that this was a column in my spreadsheet, and I truly believe that it is one of the things that made the biggest difference for me. You do not have to have perfect pictures to be successful, but people love beautiful photos. If you are a food blogger, readers will eat with their eyes first. They want food to look appetizing. If you are a fashion or lifestyle blogger, your photos need to tell a story and show a certain style.

Here is how I improved my photography..

  • Practice, practice, practice. I would shoot one object in manual and play with the settings to learn what they did. 
  • I also learn from the experts. I love The Bite Shot on YouTube, she has so many helpful videos! I also follow lots of different accounts on Instagram for inspiration
  • I joined different free webinars, listened to podcasts and checked out photography books at the library. I try to learn as much as I can, there is always room to grow. Always. 

See before and after below. I had much crappier pictures than this breakfast sheet pan, but I have updated them. I love the second photo. It is one that I took recently. It is bright (which is my personal style) and it shows action (and tells a story) with that beautiful gravy being poured over the chicken and veggies. 

3.) Re-designed Pinterest Pins

Aside from search engines, Pinterest is my biggest source of traffic. I found the most successful accounts on Pinterest and took notes on the ways that they styled their pins. I took that research and made my own style from it, it made a HUGE difference. I make all my pins with Canva (the free version), here are some things I try to do..

  • Clear, crisp photos 
  • Clear fonts, easy to read 
  • Bright, not too busy 

I also make sure to be active on this account by pinning throughout the day. And I share content from other creators that go along with my specific niche. Creating a group board and inviting fellow food bloggers to contribute was beneficial for me too. 

See the Before & After Below – I also did a lot of work to update this 5 Easy Whole30 Chicken Marinades post to make sure the recipes were great. I provided useful information, such as storage tips, different cooking methods and lots of photos. 

4.) More active on Social Media 

I became more active and engaged on social media. But I also learned what type of engagement was more effective on which channels (still very much a learning process as things change constantly). Use analytics and data to help you discover what posts do best on Instagram, Facebook, Pinterest etc. What might work on Instagram, might flop on Pinterest. So try new things and take note of what works for you and your audience. 

*My Paleo & Whole30 Instant Pot Recipes Share Group is already growing quickly on Facebook and it just started!

It is also important to find new ways to connect with your readers and followers. Use your Instagram stories, take polls, respond to messages and comments. It takes time, but it is worth it. I love connecting with people. It brings meaning to my work and reminds me of why I am doing it in the first place. 

Social media is also a fantastic way to connect and network with fellow bloggers. It helps to have friends who understand what you do for work. My friends and fellow bloggers also support and encourage me when I need it and I do the same for them. We share each others content and work with each other on giveaways. It helps so much!

5.) Re-Published Old Posts

This goes along with the first step. After I update a post and I feel happy with the changes, I re-publish it so that it is at the front of my content. I want my hard work to be seen! I also make sure to circulate the new pictures and pins to continue to drive traffic. When I re-publish a post I always put a sentence towards the beginning stating when the post was originally published and when it was updated. I also notate if the recipe was changed. See example below..

*originally published 6/18, updated 12/19

6.) Consistently publishing new content

This was obviously much easier for me when I was able to dedicate more time to the blog. When The Bettered Blondie was my side hustle, I published posts whenever I had the free time to commit to it. Now, I post consistently every week. This is beneficial for multiple reasons. 1.) It gives Google more content to crawl and shows that you are a dedicated site that provides good content. 2.) You are providing your readers with more quality content that they can look forward to. It makes them want to keep coming back. 3.) You will bring in new readers with each new post. It might be a post that really resonates with some and draws them in.

“Focus on your readers. Focus on your content. Focus on your craft. These will help you grow more than comparison ever will.”

Listen, it has taken me over two years to get to this point. It might happen sooner for some people, it might go slower for others. One of the biggest pieces of advice that I can give is not to compare yourself to others. Focus on your readers. Focus on your content. Focus on your craft. These will help you grow more than comparison ever will. I am still not where I want to be with my business, but it is so amazing to be able to go back and see where I started. There were days I dreamed of getting to 100 page views in a month and now I am close to 100, 000! 

 

 

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