It’s funny. One of the strangest things about blogging for a living is that your business changes and evolves. A lot. When you’re just starting out, you know nothing but if you’re implementing what you are learning, that’s all that matters.
Then you level up.
You upgrade your theme. You get a professional to design a header image. Your writing gets better. Your monetization strategy becomes clear and focused.
And all this continues to happen even when you’ve gone pro!
I know established bloggers who still change up content, design, and strategy because tweaking and testing is part of the deal. At least, it is if you’re in this for the long haul and want to build a solid online business.
So let me introduce you to a blogger who knows all about change. Her business has grown and changed over the last 10 years or so and her experience is something to learn from.
Meet Renee Shupe. Take it away, Renee!
I’ve been working online since 2008, I came from the corporate world where I worked with teams of 75+ in marketing & technology. When I started online I offered virtual assistance services to small business owners. This was still something that was pretty new to most folks so there was a lot of education that needed to be done to get business owners on board. I quickly found out that my technical knowledge was needed and my business evolved from being a general virtual assistant to offering more technical marketing services.
Now as much as I love working with my clients, trading my services based on hours meant I only had so much time go give and I was really craving the flexibility I desired when I first launched. I made the decision to switch up my business model to focus more on passive revenue like affiliate marketing & my own products versus client work. I still do some client work, but I need to get really excited about the project before I’ll take it on.
1. What were your initial goals when you started and how have these goals changed over time?
Initially, when I launched in 2008, I just wanted my independence. I was so very tired of going to work for someone else where I spent almost 3 hours of my day commuting to work to a job where I was bored. I made great money, but I felt like I was dying a slow death because I was only going through the motions.
When I launched the initial version of my business, I just desperately wanted to NOT be tied to someone else’s goals and ideas. I was tired.
I could never go back to a regular J.O.B. and I love the flexibility I have with my business and my life. Now my goal is to focus on the freedom and flexibility this type of business can bring. My husband and I are empty nesters (my step son is 22 now) and we’re looking towards retirement. My husband has a great job with our local government that provides lots of benefits that are great for us right now and I want to build my business to a point where I have a reasonable amount of residual revenue that will give us some additional enjoyment when we’re ready to fully retire.
2. Why did you choose blogging over other business models? How did you choose your niche and how did you know it was the right one?
It became a natural evolution for me. I was already blogging with the other variations of my business so it became easy to focus more on the content and my writing. I didn’t want to be tied to supporting clients all the time and I wanted the flexibility to change things up when I wanted to. I also wanted a great way to share all the knowledge I’ve gained since I started my first business in 2008.
It was an easy choice to choose the business of blogging as my niche. I do have a focus on WordPress as that’s what I’ve been using since 2008 to build websites and help my clients. WordPress gives you a great platform to monetize and scale your business and in my opinion is better than any other platform out there. If you’re thinking of becoming a professional blogger, then the self-hosted version of WordPress is, in my opinion, your only choice.
I also knew it was the right niche, because I’ve always had an affinity for figuring out technology, even in my previous life when I worked in the corporate world – I was often the one folks came to for help figuring out a piece of software or something like that. I also find marketing fun. I’ve always enjoyed trying to figure out how things work and now focusing on blogging is giving me new areas to become an expert in.
3. What’s your personal philosophy regarding content? How do you know what your prospective customers are looking for? Where does this information come from? Do you write all content yourself or do you outsource?
Oh, I love content! All forms of it too, though I tend to be someone who enjoys writing and sharing my writing versus many of the other forms of content. I do like video as well, and I will create videos to help folks understand a concept or how to do something. I keep my videos pretty simple and straight forward for that reason.
To try and figure out what my customers want I look first and foremost to my subscribers. After all they are the ones who have taken the time to sign up and download or read what I have to say. After that, I pay attention to questions being asked in Facebook groups. In fact, I often snag snippets of questions I see being asked in Facebook groups and save them to my Google Keep so when I’m stuck on an idea of what to write about I can look there to get inspiration.
As you might tell from this post, I tend to write a lot. I love writing. It’s a great form of expression for me so I write all my content. Sometimes if I’m planning on writing a new workbook or offer a course or something I’ll research to see if there is any PLR (Private Label Rights) content that can help speed up the process. I use PLR to help me jump-start whatever it is I’m working on.
4. Do you have any original tips or techniques for getting traffic and getting your readers to engage with you through your blog?
I don’t know how original these tips will be but it’s something that has taken me a while to get comfortable with. It’s SUPER important to be yourself in your blog posts and any other content you share with your readers. Be true to you, share about your journey and only share about things that you truly believe in. Your readers will see through it all if it’s not something that you really believe in.
The second tip I have is get to know and understand your numbers. What mean by this is get comfortable with Google Analytics – there is a wealth of information available within this free service offered by Google that can really help you to get to understand what your readers want as well as what kind of traffic you are getting to your site. Until I started focusing on blogging I didn’t really pay attention too much to the what was available in Google Analytics. Now it’s starting to help me create more content based on the posts that bring the most traffic. I can also see what articles focus on an affiliate product are working and which of my opt-ins are driving the most subscribers.
I’m still working on figuring out how to get folks to engage on my blog, but that’s okay because the really driving factor for me is to get folks that visit my site excited enough to want to get my free download that I’m offering. True engagement on my email list is WAY MORE IMPORTANT to me that what kind of engagement I’m getting on my website, though social shares are always nice to see.
I’m also focusing a lot of my effort on building my organic traffic. Though this is a long-term strategy it’s also one that has more staying power than most of the other options for driving traffic and, in turn, getting eyeballs to my content. Yes, getting social shares and using techniques that are working right now is important but having strong organic traffic will help sustain you for years to come. A couple of my top posts right now are some evergreen posts from 2/3 years ago.
5. How long did it take to start earning income from your business? Is it a full-time income (replacing a job) or a part-time income? What would you say has been the reason for your success?
I’m lucky, I’ve been able to transition to focusing on generating revenue directly from the actions from my blog since the beginning. While most of my revenue has been generated through client work, it’s now shifting to more affiliate revenue which has been nice. I think part of my success has been because I’ve been working online since 2008 and it’s just been an evolution and a re-shift in my business model. I wasn’t really starting from scratch; I already had a part of the foundation laid.
6. How many different revenue streams do you have? Which ones perform best?
I have 3 revenue streams: Affiliate Revenue, Consulting/Strategy Work, a few clients, and I’m reworking some courses so I can start offering my own programs again.
Right now my main revenue stream is affiliate revenue and I have a goal to build up the recurring portion of the affiliate revenue to ease the need to push hard to make it all happen.
7. Do you use social media to promote your online business? If yes, which platform(s)? Has it had an impact?
Yes, I do use social media to promote my online business. When I first started in 2008, I got a lot of clients through Twitter but that’s not so much the case now. I find that Facebook Groups and Pinterest are making the biggest impact right now for me.
I do have a Facebook Page, but I don’t have a desire to pay for my promotion right now so I get very little engagement with it. Facebook groups have worked really well for me, it gives me a chance to give back and to share my expertise. I’ve gotten a lot of client work and booked strategy sessions as well as some affiliate revenue that have come directly from Facebook groups I’ve participated in.
It’s important though when networking in Facebook groups to remember it’s about the folks you’re connecting with and to give freely with no expectations. It does come back to you if you’re focused on helping and not trying to promote yourself all the time.
8. What has been your biggest challenge as an online business owner?
Figuring out what to focus on. I love tweaking and playing around with my website, but I’ve come to discover that it’s really just a procrastination technique under the disguise that it’s helping build my business.
9. What would your best advice be to someone just starting out looking to make $1,000 or more each month by blogging? What would be your advice to someone who is struggling to make money online with their blog?
I mentioned it earlier: be yourself and don’t do it just to make money. So if you’re offered an opportunity to make some extra money but it doesn’t sit right with you don’t do it. It’s hard to turn down the money but your honesty and truth to yourself will pay off. And you can turn that experience into a blog post talking about why you turned down the money!
If you’re struggling to make any money right now know that it’s okay, it takes time. Don’t judge yourself based on what you see online. Many of these popular folks who are making what seems like a big amount of money started in the same place as you; think about what you need to make yourself successful. Don’t try and compete, there’s plenty to go around. Those popular bloggers have been working a long time to get where they are and when you’re making a lot of money each month there’s extra effort and expenses that come with it. It’s okay and we all evolve and grow at our own pace. Keep your faith and focus on your BIG WHY and you’ll make it when you’re ready.
10. And finally…What do you enjoy most about being an online business owner? How has it impacted you, your family, and/or your life?
Hands down, two things: my independence and my freedom. I get to wake up each morning and determine my own destiny. I’m responsible for what happens, I’m not held to anyone else’s standards but own.
In 2014, my husband received a job offer that would have us move about 1,000 miles and because I had my own business that was online the decision to move was easy for us to make. As long as I have internet access, I can do my thing and share my journey and story with others.
|Hey I’m Renee. I’ve been working online since 2008 and have supported hundreds of businesses from super tiny businesses to large companies earning multiple 7 figures. I have pretty well seen it all when it comes to building a business online, the good, the bad and the ugly! Now I create content to help you build a successful, sustainable and profitable blog business using WordPress as the foundation.|
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