Hi, Tell us your name, what you do, and about your business. Please do mention the monthly revenue for our readers as well.
My name is Jodi Carlson, I am a professional web designer, wife, and mom. I also run a successful profitable blog that all started from a hobby that started when I was 6 years old and said yes I want to join Girl Scouts.
When I graduated high school I didn’t stop with the hobby instead I then joined back in as an adult volunteer and became a Girl Scout leader for the same troop my mom started for me when I was 6 years old. So with over 25 years of Girl Scouting experience, I really thought I will be a leader forever.
Then in 2015 I was blessed with a Son and quickly found out the time it took to run a troop and raise a child was not there so I stepped down as a Girl Scout Leader, but quickly missed the planning part of being a leader, so I decided to take my 25 years of experience and my 10+ years of web design and build a blog sharing all my knowledge to help other leaders plan and run their troop meetings easier.
I started creating activity booklets to help earn the badges with everything you need to earn a badge. Since 2015 when I started a blog I currently now have over 95 activity booklets and lots of free resources on the blog for planning meetings, ceremonies, parties, and badge earning.
My site has grown into a resource beyond just Girl Scout Leaders; I am reaching girl leaders in many organizations such as Frontier Girl Leaders, Heritage Girls, and Girl Guides in other countries.
I am currently making 3,000 – 5,000 a month from activity booklet sales, ad revenue, and affiliate marketing. The big range difference is because scouts is a very specific niche, which also means, there are times of the year when things are not in high demand. Summertime is much slower for both traffic and sales, but I am working on new camping kits that would be great for Summer Camp.
Talk us through the process of the launch of your business
I have been reading financial blogs like making sense of cents for years. Always reading about how people are making money blogging and always thought it seemed impossible. When I decided to start my blog, it actually started as a way to just help local Girl Scout troops, because I didn’t have time to run a troop anymore I thought I just start sharing ideas on a blog to help those troops.
I used Pinterest a bit and pinned a few images on there and put a few activity booklets on the site to allow people to purchase them. After a few months, I had leaders from across the USA reaching out wanting more help. It wasn’t till late 2016 when my family had a lot of unforeseen medical expenses come in as well as a pile of student loan debt that I really started taking the blog seriously as a possibility to make an additional source of income to help pay off some of this debt.
I dug into researching what other bloggers have done, looked into any competition, which there is not a lot when it came to my niche. So the sky was the limit at that point. I started a mailing list, which was my biggest turning point to making more money because I had a dedicated following that wanted to know everything I was doing.
How is your repeat customer rate like? Can you take us through how you attract and retain customers?
Lots of repeat customers I use Pinterest to attract traffic. Use Mailing list to retain
Currently, my mailing list has 9200 people on it. I currently try to send an email once a week to the mailing list. If I have a new booklet available I always send it out to mailing list. When building my mailing list I didn’t just ask people to get on the list so they can follow blog instead I offer a lot of freebies I created a free bingo game that relates to the founder of Girl Scouts.
If they sign up they get this freebie and also a 10% discount on their first purchase in the shop on activity booklets. If your freebie doesn’t work create a new one and make sure your sign up forms are easy to find on your website.
I have one on the sidebar, one at bottom of every blog post, and also a pop up when they first come to the website, which is my highest converting sign up form.
What is the current situation? How do you see yourself in the next 12 months?
I continue to grow my audience and continue to create booklets that help leaders run their troop. Which will also continue to grow a blog
Which are some resources, books, articles or podcasts that have been useful to you, and would share with your readers
How do you write great content that performs well?
For my niche, I have set up categories for each scout level where I share ideas for individual badges. Then there are other sections that cover ceremonies, troop management, fundraising, games, and more. Badge ideas are great year-round, but some other categories will do better at different times of the year.
I try to make sure to write a blog post that is going to be popular at that time of year. Then the badge post I do monthly and can share year-round on all social media and mailing list because they never get old. I have created a good pattern for the badge ideas when I create a new booklet I create a new post to go with that badge full of free ideas and also linking back to the booklet with everything you need to earn a badge if you don’t want to do any planning.
On every product, I link back to the blog post that was associated with. When I write a blog post about a badge that also has something that is great for another level or I have written something else they could find useful when earning that badge, you will find the cross-links within the blog post. I have found this technique is great to keep them on your website reading your content.
Many times, women feel that businesses are for only for men. What’s your take?
I disagree women can do anything a man can do. In some cases, we can do it better depending on the niche. I don’t think in today’s society men could run a dance studio without there being questions of why a man is doing that. Or my niche is better for women to do. Not saying a man cant do it but I feel like sometimes women are better at some things
What is the revenue model for the blog?
As I mentioned earlier making money from a blog was something I never thought was possible. I had read a lot of successful bloggers, always found income reports very helpful and seeing what ways money is coming in for other bloggers.
From 2015 to late 2016 I made about $50 a month if that and thought that was pretty cool. But when I started taking my blog seriously in late 2016 I started making a whole lot more each month. My income comes from Ads, Affiliate Marketing, and Products Sold on website.
The first thing I tried was adding ads, I used Google AdSense which is free to sign up for. I started out making about a $1 a day and since then I got to point where I was making about $300 a month on ads.
I have also had a goal to be part of the Ad thrive advertising network, but you have to get 100,000 page views a month. I am happy to report I am now in that network making double the income I was making from AdSense and every month that income keeps rising.
The second thing I tried is different affiliate marketing options. The one that works best for me is Amazon Affiliate because they have so many products that would be great for a leader I try to add a useful product to most of my blog post that leaders can purchase off Amazon.
If they click the link and purchase that or something else with that same session, I get a percentage of their purchase. I have also tried things that have failed as well because every niche is different you have to try a variety of different affiliate programs to see what works best for you.
My primary income comes from my products. I sell pdf booklets that are instant downloads, as well as designed badges that are sold through a partner company that I get a percentage of, and lastly, I created a sticker book and leader book that can also be mailed to your home.
So I continue to add new products which continue to bring in more income to my website.
My advice to anyone starting out is to make sure you try multiple avenues of income and be sure to have a mailing list. The mailing list is people who are dedicated to your subject matter so even if traffic is low you have a group of people to send content to that are interested in your blog.
What are some strategies you have used for building up the traffic?
The core of my traffic started coming from Pinterest. Girl Scout Leaders love Pinterest. So I focused primarily there for the first year. I continued to get more and more people being added to my mailing list. I also used Facebook groups as a place to share my content.
In early 2017 I started a Facebook page for the blog, which has proven to be a big success as well. As the income started coming in more and traffic picked up from Facebook as well. I decided to try Facebook ads. I actually just boosted a post to start with and found that people were sharing it with their friends, which led to more likes to page and more traffic to blog.
I also discovered if you post great content people want to share they share it with people that are not liking your page, so you can then look at those likes and invite them to join your page. I share my own content as well as other great ideas I find on the web that leaders will find helpful. I set little goals for myself each month I would focus on reaching out to one new blogger, or person that I felt would make a great partner and would ask if they want to collaborate in some way.
It sometimes was a blog exchange, or even just getting their content on my blog was a big win for me. I found authors who did patch programs and shared their ideas on my blog and then shared on Facebook, Pinterest and mailing list. With every bigger popular blog post, I wrote, brought more and more traffic.
I also have two shops I started selling my booklets strictly on teacherpaysteachers.com then in early 2017 I decided to try selling the booklets directly from my website. I have found having two different avenues of ways to purchase the booklets has paid off as well. People sometimes search and find my other shop first, or by finding that shop they discover my blog and join the mailing list.
When life gets really busy and I don’t have time to focus on my blog to promote and to write on website I find that my traffic sometimes dips and so does sales, so my advice to give to anyone blogging that yes there is some passive income for sure, but to keep the traffic and the engagement with your readers you have to continue to engage with them.
Find every way possible to get your name out there. Everyone does not use the same way to search for resources. Some use Pinterest, some use Google, and some use Facebook there are so many ways you can get your info out there. Some will work better than others for your niche, try as many as possible but when you find the ones that work the best focus on those the most.
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Learn how mother turned into web designer and making $60000/year
Hi, Tell us your name, what you do, and about your business. Please do mention the monthly revenue for our readers as well. My name is Jodi Carlson, I am a