I gotta tell you, this post is a little hard for me to even write.
If you knew me in real life, you’d know I’m so not one to consider myself a “successful” anything, but I guess looking at the numbers, PPP would be considered a success.
Pure craziness I tell ya’.
I started blogging completely (seriously, totally) on a whim, and never ever would have believed one day I’d make a full time income from my little blog. Back then I read Crystal Paine of Money Saving Mom’s series “How To Make Money Blogging” and thought just maybe it would work, but really couldn’t believe people actually made money online each day.
At that point my kids were ages 2, 6, and 9, and I knew that I wanted to earn extra income from home especially as they were getting older and heading off to school. I’d stayed home with them since my oldest was born, and while I’d taken on a few jobs here and there (I gave violin lessons, taught preschool, and did some data entry work), I primarily was a stay-at-home mom. I started obsessively clipping coupons back in 2006 (folks, I was nuts), so the idea of potentially earning an income from home while telling other folks how to save intrigued me.
In October of 2009 I started blogging at publixpennypincher.blogspot.com. (The header for the site was so ugly that a reader offered to fix it for me for free. Then I paid someone to fix it when I switched to Passionate Penny Pincher. As you can see from the picture above it was worse.) Because I’d never made more than $7 an hour while working (except for teaching violin lessons), my standards were pretty low and I never dreamed of any significant income.
I’ll never forget that following February after working a solid 4 months at least 30 hours a week when I made $18 in one day. I was hooked and determined to figure this whole blogging thing out.
I’m not going to tell you it’s been easy. Of the twelve blogs that I followed who started at the same time as I did, I’m the only one still typing away each day.
So what were the secrets to my success? (Gosh, that just sounds obnoxious, but we’ll go with it, okay?) Here are a few things that have totally transformed this former stay-at-home mom into a working Money Making Mom from home (that work no matter what business you choose):
1. Create a business that people actually need, and pay attention to your customers.
When I started PPP, jillions of blogs were also just beginning teaching people how to save. While I knew nothing about online marketing, advertising, affiliate income, HTML coding, or really even writing, I did know a thing or two about coupons. Pretty quickly I realized that while other (fantastic!) sites were out there, they didn’t always create simple scenarios breaking down how to actually use coupons, so I started coming up with those and posting them. People loved them and I knew right then that I’d found a spot to fill that might set me apart from everyone else.
You may not be a blogger, but you have some skill that you can share with people better than anyone else can. Figure out what your customers need and how you can help them, and the customers really will follow!
2. Don’t be afraid to put yourself out there.
This was so hard for me! My nature is to be a little on the timid side, and the idea of putting my thoughts and ideas out there for anyone to read truly turned my stomach when I debated starting a blog.
But I realized that ultimately my goal was to earn income from home, and this was the only thing that I thought might really work. So, I decided to push down the voice in the back of my head which said this was absolutely ridiculous, and started telling folks about my little blog. It was so scary for me, but goodness, I’m so glad I chose to get over that hurdle!
I now remind myself constantly that this is a business. There are times when I WRITE ALL IN CAPS ON FACEBOOK to be seen, or use “7 steps to a successful title” for every single post, and goodness y’all, that’s just so not me. However, since I’ve found those to be successful strategies when working online, I’ve adopted them for my business, and separate who I am in real life from that kind-of-obnoxious-girl-I-feel-like-online a bit.
3. Set your standards low, and work your tail off.
This may sound counter-intuitive, but for me, setting my standards low during my beginning years has really paid off. I have a bachelor’s degree in psychology and worked in youth ministry as well as a group home for at risk girls prior to having kids. Clearly my standards for earning were pretty low!
Because I’d never worked in the corporate world and really had only had low paying jobs, my expectations were just not much those first few years. This helped so much to not be discouraged when I worked so hard for just a few dollars, and goodness, when more dollars have come along the way I’ve felt like I’ve won the lottery.
Don’t expect to start out at a new business making big bucks ~ instead work incredibly hard (and smart) at whatever business you’re beginning, and have patience to wait and see the business grow. It will take a lot (seriously guys, a lot) of work, but if you’re willing to work with everything in you, you really can succeed.
4. Make growing your business your primary business focus instead of making money.
From the very beginning of PPP, I’ve never focused on making money as a blogger. Instead, from day one I’ve focused on building traffic (which for me is the way that I determine if I’m building my business.)
Because that’s been my number one goal, the money has followed because more traffic has allowed my ad revenue and affiliate income to grow. (If you’re curious about what ad revenue and affiliate income even is and really want to start a business blogging, check out this book.)
After years of (slowly!) growing this business, I now make a significant full time income from blogging allowing us to give abundantly and save for our kid’s college funds, which was my main goal when starting PPP. There have been many (many) times when I’ve seen a decrease in traffic and been so discouraged, but that always leads me back to figuring out how to jump start my growth again, and growing PPP a little more along the way.
5. Hire help as your business grows.
This is huge. There is absolutely no way I could run PPP on my own, and even with some fantastic help I still work easily 40 hours or more each week.
Back in 2010 I had a significant income boost in one month from Amazon affiliate commissions, and used that money to hire Shannon (who I love!) for the next 6 months to work ten hours per week. At that point I had no idea if I could hire her to work long term, but hiring her allowed me time to work on growing other areas of the business. Since then I’ve hired a few other people, and every time I hire someone it allows me to grow PPP a little further.
6. Be willing to change as your customers change.
Back when I started PPP my main goal was to teach people how to use coupons (which happened to be right when TLC’s Extreme Couponing show aired.) People loved hearing about coupons, and I loved sharing that information! However, eventually readers got a little less interested in coupons but loved online deals, so while I’ve kept some coupon posts, I’ve changed my focus to include online deals as well. In the last six months I’ve seen people change to enjoying content posts and recipes more, so I’ve worked harder to include those more frequently.
Whatever business you start, know that what your customers need right now may not be what they’ll need in a few years (or a few months, or even a few weeks in some cases!) Be willing to constantly tweak your business to fit your customers needs, so that they receive something from you that they won’t likely find elsewhere.
7. Learn to leverage the power of social media.
Honestly, if anyone had told this stay-at-home-mom-to-three-small-kids seven years ago that one day she would reach over 350,000 people each week on some crazy sites called Facebook, Pinterest and Instagram, she would have just laughed at you. But social media has become a huge component of my business, and it’s what I spend the bulk of my time working at each week besides content posts.
Find what social media platform will give your business the most potential for visibility, and learn to do that one platform better than anyone else. Watch what other businesses are doing who handle their pages successfully, read every bit of information you can about that form of social media, and listen to podcasts from people that do it well.
I promise, if you’re willing to really work whole-heartedly to grow your social media presence it can happen no matter what your business, but you’ve got to be willing to do your research and put some serious hours in.
If you’ve been thinking about ways to earn income from home, I highly (HIGHLY!) recommend Crystal Paine’s new book, Money Making Mom. I read it last week, and goodness, it is for every mom out there who wants to change her financial future, no matter what kind of business or work you’re considering. While I love clipping coupons and getting great deals, I absolutely am amazed that thanks to blogging I’ve now been able to watch our family’s finances thrive as I’ve chosen to become a “Money Making Mom.”
Crystal has fantastic advice on what potential business ideas are out there, time management tips, discusses the importance of networking, and so. much. more.
I loved her encouragement on page 92 ~
“Whatever you have to do, show up and give it your all. The rest will follow.” Crystal Paine, Money Making Mom
I promise, if you really want to change your finances and become a stay-at-home working mom, the opportunities are out there.
It may take some time to figure out how they can happen for you, but I really do believe they can.
For me, running this business as a stay at home mom has kind of become the way that I work to be just a tee-tiny bit more like the mom described in Proverbs 31. I really do believe John Wesley’s quote that we are called to “Do all the good you can. By all the means you can. In all the places you can. At all the times you can. To all the people you can. As long as you ever can.”
Successfully running PPP has kind of become my concrete way of working towards those goals, and getting to do that while staying home with my kids is just a crazy blessing which I hardly can even believe has happened for me most days.
If it can happen for this mess of a momma, I promise (promise!) it really can happen for you too.
Order Crystal’s book, determine to find exactly the right way for you to turn into a Money Making Mom, and change your family’s future. If it can happen for me, it really really really can happen for you too.
Curious about how exactly PPP got started and where the money we earn from it goes? Head on over HERE.