A few bloggers have cracked the code to making money from blogging, and Crystal Paine is one of them.
She is a New York Times bestselling author, and she’s the founder of the incredibly successful blog MoneySavingMom.com, where she teaches moms how to save and earn more.
In this interview, we talk about how Crystal became a professional blogger, how to make a profit from your blog in 2017, and the importance of building real, genuine relationships with your audience.
How to Make Money With a Blog
Crystal never thought she was going to be a blogger full-time. Her journey began because she and her husband wanted to remain debt-free while he went to law school.
She was doing fine working a number of part-time jobs until she got sick one day and found out she was pregnant. She eventually had to quit her jobs because of her pregnancy. That’s when she began to research making money online from home. She tried a lot of different things and discovered blogging. In 20014, she took the plunge and started a blog about being a mom.
One day, she wrote a blog post about how she bought a week’s worth of groceries for her family for $17. That post went viral and got a lot of attention.
She decided to launch MoneySavingMom.com in 2007 to focus exclusively on money matters. Within a year, she was making a full-time income from her blog.
The key to making money online is paying attention to what resonates with your audience. With all the social media channels we have these days, it’s really easy to figure out what people are engaging with.
Once you learn how to create your blog, it’s time to start learning how to monetize it.
Making Money from Affiliate Marketing on Your Blog
When Crystal started MoneySavingMom.com, she had two years of blogging experience to draw upon. She understood different ways she could monetize her blog and she was hopeful that she could make a part-time income from it.
One of the first things she did was to look at what affiliate marketing opportunities would work for the blog that she was writing.
Very quickly, she found coupon sites that would pay her for each coupon printed from her website. When she started MoneySavingMom.com, very few people were using coupon printing as an affiliate marketing income source, so she was able to make quite a good living by giving people coupons they could print from their computers.
With the advent of so many social media channels, the landscape of blogging has dramatically changed in the last five years. It’s still possible to make a living blogging, but you have to use different strategies than worked in the past.
For instance, Crystal writes a lot more about online deals then she used to because people are shopping online a lot more than they did 10 years ago.
What Is Affiliate Marketing and How Does It Work?
To become an affiliate marketer, you have to:
- Go to a site that offers an affiliate program. (Amazon is a great place to start.)
- Sign up for their affiliate program.
- Get approved to be an affiliate by the company that runs the program.
- Once you’re approved as an affiliate, you get a special link for people to buy something from that online retailer. When people buy through your special link, you get a percentage of that sale.
Amazon has a particularly good affiliate marketing program because it pays you a percentage of anything that people buy for a certain period of time on Amazon after they’ve clicked your affiliate link.
Adding Value with Affiliate Links
If you decide you want to make money through affiliate marketing, one of the most important things you need to consider before you make a post on your blog is, “Is this going to be a win for my readers?”
As long as you put your readers first and only promote things that will actually benefit them, you will build an audience that appreciates and respects you. Your audience will grow organically because you’re actually adding value to their lives and the marketplace.
Using Facebook Live to Make Money with Affiliate Marketing
Beyond writing blog posts, you can use Facebook Live to demonstrate for your audience what they will receive when they buy something you’re an affiliate for.
Consider recording short videos explaining products that you like, demonstrating how they work or what value they’ll add to your readers’ lives. Unboxing videos, product demos, and tips and tricks are great ways to engage readers while also getting new affiliate marketing sales.
How to Get Traffic to Your Blog in 2017
If you want to get traffic to your blog in 2017, the first thing you have to consider is your content. You shouldn’t create a blog just to make money. If making money is the primary motivation for building a blog, you’re going to burn out very quickly.
Building a quality blog that adds value to the community is a lot of work. If you create a blog based on your passion, you are much more likely to be successful because you’ll be willing to do the work necessary to be successful.
Let Your Personality Shine
Bloggers today have to bring their personality and passion to their subject matter. What about your life experience is unique and makes you unique in the marketplace? With so many bloggers out there today, you really have to make an effort to carve out a special niche for yourself that differentiates you from your competition.
You need to understand that not everyone’s going to like you when you bring your personality to your blogging.
That’s okay! You can’t please everyone. But you will be able to please your audience, and you’ll discover your audience by creating content, putting it out there, and seeing what people react to.
Write Great Content
The number one way to attract traffic to your blog is to have great content. Great content does one of two things. It either:
- Satisfies a need, or
- Solves a problem.
If you are satisfying in need or solving a problem, people who need your help will find you over time.
Experiment with Blogging
When you think about building an audience for your blog, focus on building it one person at a time.
In order to know what blog posts are going to resonate with your audience, you have to be willing to go through the process of trial and error. It’s going to take you some time to figure out who your audience is and what they engage with the most.
If you’re passionate about the audience you’re serving and the information you’re sharing, it won’t matter how many people are engaging with your blog post at the start.
Another thing to consider is you never know when people will find your blog posts. You never know what events in someone’s life, or in the world in general, could make your blog post popular in the future.
Focus on writing blog posts that help your audience and eventually your blog will be successful.
Apply the Ideas You Talk About
People really like to see the practical application of intellectual principles.
On her blog, Crystal talks about how she saves money shopping for her family. Then she posts pictures of her grocery shopping trip, as well as pictures of her receipts. She also posts pictures of her family’s meal plan for the week, and she does regular broadcasts on Facebook Live after her weekly grocery shopping trip.
Crystal has found that her audience really engages with blog posts about people solving problems. This works especially well when the problem being solved is a problem her audience can relate to.
You can emulate this strategy. What problems in your life have you solved and how did you solve them? Can your solution help other people in your position? Maybe you should blog about it.
Creating a Multi-Platform Blogging Brand
With Facebook Live and Instagram Stories, you can really connect with the people who follow you on a personal level.
To future-proof your blogging efforts, you should do everything you can to make sure that people in your audience are following you, and not just your blog. Blogging has changed so much in the last 10 years, and we have no idea where it’s going to go in the next decade.
The one thing you can do to make sure that you can continue to earn an income from your blog is to connect with your audience personally by being vulnerable. That’s how you give your audience permission to follow you, rather than just the platform you are currently using to communicate with them.
Build a Relationship with Your Audience
Crystal has people in her audience who have been following her online since she started her MoneySavingMom.com blog 10 years ago. She recently went on an East Coast road trip with her family, blogged about it, and posted on social media about it as it was happening.
During that road trip, she asked her followers where she should go. One follower responded, “I almost told you, of course you should come to my house, but then I realized you don’t know who I am. But I feel like you’re a close friend.”
That’s what we should all aim for!
If the people following us feel like we’re their next-door neighbor or close friend, they will follow us wherever we go, and they are much more likely to buy based on a recommendation that we’ve made because we’ve built a foundation of friendship and trust with them.
While privacy is as important as it’s ever been today, the people who follow you want to know that you’re a real person. The more you’re comfortable sharing about what’s actually going on in your life, the better off your personal brand will be in the future.
The more vulnerable and genuine you can be with your audience, the more connected they will feel with you. Make sure the things you share on your blog are consistent with your brand.
Try Connecting via Video
If you can incorporate video into your blog, it allows for a deeper level of connection than just text. This is because video engages more of your audience’s senses than just text on the screen.
You become more of a real person when people can see you and hear you speaking. Video allows your audience to see you as a person just like them.
Expand Your Comfort Zone by Doing What Scares You
It can be scary to be vulnerable and personal with your audience, especially when nothing on the internet ever really goes away. But the truth is, the more you give of yourself to your audience, the more value you’re creating for them, and the more likely they are to be converted into true fans who will follow you forever.
In Crystal’s experience, the fear of being vulnerable is always there. But the more you do the things that scare you, the larger your comfort zone expands. The larger your comfort zone expands, the more you will be able to serve your audience.
Having an outline for what you’re going to say on live video or in front of a live audience can help you push through the fear of presenting. It also helps to make a commitment to your audience that you’re going to do something you are afraid of. The commitment itself can push you to do that which scares you.
Words of Advice for Bloggers
- Be brave.
- Be vulnerable with your audience.
- Network with other bloggers.
- Be a champion and cheerleader for others.
- The more you can promote other bloggers the more they will want to help you build your platform.
- Reciprocity is natural to human nature.
If you contact a blogger or celebrity and the first thing you ask is for them to promote your blog post, that’s going to be a turnoff for most people.
If you email the same blogger and approach them with the question, “How can I support/encourage you today?” it will lead to profitable long-term relationships.
Build a Platform by Building Relationships with Influencers and Fans
Crystal is always looking for people who are doing amazing things that aren’t widely recognized. These aren’t people asking for recognition. They are people doing work every day who deserve recognition.
One way to get noticed by the influencers in your space is to interact with them on a regular basis. On Crystal’s new site YourBloggingMentor.com, she looks for people who engage with her by commenting frequently. She loves to find new blogs with good information that she can share with her audience.
Crystal has a friend who is writing a book. She’s really excited to be able to share that with her followers when the book goes live.
Crystal really tries to answer all of her Instagram direct messages—connecting with her fans is a top priority.
Building a solid platform online is all about building real relationships with your audience so that they become friends and true fans of you.
You should be building relationships with influencers and with members of your audience. The way you build a relationship is by interacting with people in positive ways so that when they see your username or email address, they have a positive association with it.
“The more you live with your hands open, the more blessings there are in your life.”
Links and Resources Mentioned in This Interview
http://moneysavingmom.com/– Crystal’s blog, where she teaches moms how to make money and save more money.
https://affiliate-program.amazon.com/ – learn about Amazon’s affiliate program.
https://www.surpriseride.com/ — a company that Crystal is an affiliate for. Surprise Ride sends monthly activity boxes to kids.
http://yourbloggingmentor.com/ – Crystal’s website, where she teaches beginners how to make a part-time to full-time income online.
Your Blogging University — a series of courses designed to help beginning and intermediate bloggers to build their platform and make a part-time to full-time income from their blog.
For more on how to grow your platform online, check out these articles:
- 6 Reasons Authors Should Be Guest Blogging (and 3 Ways to Find Host Sites)
- How To Turn Your Blog Into a Business
- How to Write an Outreach Email (plus a bonus email template)