It’s hard to believe that my 2009 resolution was to “start a blog.” Maybe even harder to believe that after 9 years, I’m still here. That’s a lot of time when you’re talking about time in the digital world. It occurred to me that it’s been awhile since I’ve pulled the curtain back a bit to share about my life behind this blog. And, it seemed like a good day to do just that, because I’ve enjoyed sharing my life and its ups and downs with you.
Today, I thought I’d share 9 questions I’ve gotten over the years about blogging, and my blog in particular. For fun, I’ve also peppered this post with pictures from various highlights and events from over the years.
Question #1: Do you make money from the blog?
This is the question that I’m asked the most frequently about blogging. On one hand, I feel it’s a bit personal. On the other hand, I totally get people’s curiosity and am proud of the way I’ve been able to create something that supports my family.
The short answer to the question? Yes. Yes, I absolutely make money from the blog.
Question #2: How do you make money from the blog?
This is the second most-asked question I get, and it’s usually followed by the first question. Here’s the thing: the FTC requires that I’m open and transparent with you how I make money. So my methods are pretty out there in the open for anyone to know about. You can read my Disclosure Policy at any time. The policy gets updated from time to time as the sources of income evolve.
The main ways the site makes money include affiliate income (clicking through links and making purchases), ads, and sponsorships. Most of the posts I write here are not sponsored. Any sponsored post has an additional disclosure.
Kind of a side note here, since we’re talking money. Lots of posts I write for free – or sometimes even pay others to write.
Question #3: How did you get started blogging?
When I was pregnant with my first child, I knew I wanted to stay at home. Towards the end of my employment, a coworker had suggested that I look into become a freelance copywriter. It turned out to be a perfect option for me. I wrote web copy, sales letters, and proposals for businesses. Several months in, it was additionally suggested to me that I start a blog so that I could keep my writing skills sharp and build an online portfolio. It was about this time a good friend of mine (Kellie) taught me how to stack coupons with sales. It really sparked something!
In February 2009, I launched The Coupon Project to combine my new-found coupon interest with my long-time love for writing. At the time I didn’t really know anyone who was running a blog other than a personal/family type blog so I had to do a lot of learning on my own. I laugh about it now, but I even went to the library to check out books on the topic! (These days, YouTube and Google are probably more your friends for the most current information.)
There was a steep learning curve and a lot of missteps along the way. I cringe when I think back to some of the early decisions I made and posts I created! It really has been such a process and it’s good to keep an open attitude to learning and trying new things, and being OK to make some mistakes along the way.
Question #4: How do I get started blogging?
I get asked this question a lot. Sometimes it’s from people who have a specific idea in mind they want to launch, but other times it’s someone who wants to make a quick buck. If your only motivation is money, I’d encourage you to find another option because it’s not as simple as posting links on the Internet!
I personally don’t feel comfortable walking through a person through all the steps involved. For that, I highly recommend Blogging with Amy and refer people to her site all the time. She has listed every step very carefully and with visuals. When I started my second blog, NW Runner Girl, I actually used her blog to help me because it’d been awhile!
Sometimes I’ll even be asked “tips for starting a blog,” but I think people don’t realize what it is they are asking. Tips for building traffic? Tips for finding a good web host? Tips for growing traffic? Finding a niche? There really is quite a bit involved to running a blog, which brings me to my next question…
Question #5: Can I make a full or part time income blogging?
The short answer: yes, yes you absolutely can. However, please understand that it will likely not be quick, and will require nothing short of blood, sweat, and tears. What you should know: the vast majority of people who blog do not make that much money at all blogging. So I’d answer your question with a few questions: how passionate are you about the topic you want to write about and the people you want to connect with? How much of a go-getter are you? Can you solve problems and figure stuff out without minimal hand holding? Do you have a knack for building an online following using social media? How are your writing and photography skills? Can you keep a positive attitude, adapt quickly to change and new technologies?
I often tell people that I worked for 8 months before I saw my first check for $100. There are certainly no guarantees at all. The good news is that for most people, the costs to get started blogging are relatively small so your biggest risk is time and energy.
Another suggestion I make to inquiring friends and readers these days is this: consider writing for an existing blog! Over the years, I’ve hired people to write deals, recipe and DIY posts, provide tech services and social media management to the site. Larger blogs that have been around awhile often hire VAs (Virtual Assistants). If you’re just hoping to make a couple hundred extra bucks per month, I’d definitely steer you in this direction over starting your own blog from scratch. You’ll get to enjoy building content and earning from home without the stress involved with setting up a blog and managing it, and trying to bring in traffic and income streams (which honestly may take quite awhile). Some VAs don’t even work for a particular blog, but just sell content to pools of bloggers. (If you’re interested to learn more – see my friends Mr. YouTube and Ms. Google.)
Question #6: How much work is really involved in running a blog? What can you share?
Running a successful blog requires a lot of parts, including – technical elements (think hosting and platforms), content development (you know, writing stuff people want to read and share), social media marketing (finding people who want to read your content), and growing your traffic (could be from word of mouth, traditional and/or social media, search engine optimization). There are other, smaller components beyond these including accounting, email marketing, networking, and analytics, but I won’t overwhelm you!
I don’t ever want to make it sound doom and gloom, because the truth is it can be done. (Or other people wouldn’t do it, right?) If you’re serious about starting a blog and are able to do it from the get-go: outsource, outsource, outsource. I wish I would’ve done more of this earlier on!
Question #7: Can you help mentor me as a new blogger?
I get this question or variations of it from time to time. I feel that I’ve worked hard to build a business and while I’d like to consider myself generally a helpful and nice person, I don’t think I need to be divulging all my knowledge to someone else at no cost. (Now if you want to pay me for my time and years of experience, maybe we’ll talk.) I’m definitely game to answer a question here and there, particularly if it’s specific in nature (“can you recommend a good web host?”) vs. general (“what are some things I could blog about?”). But if you want someone to help you an ongoing basis for free, every step of the way…. Sorry, not sorry. Just keeping it real here.
Question #8: Are you one of those extreme couponers? (And sometimes, this isn’t as much of a question as it is a pre-judgment about what my blog must be about since it has the name “coupon” in the url.)
Sometimes it’s tough because there is that “coupon” in my url. I’m always disheartened when people make judgments about what I or my site must be about before they’ve even taken the time to ask or poke around the blog.
If you’ve followed me for awhile, you know that this site, my interests, and yours have evolved. For instance, these days I’m more likely a post about digital coupons than I am about how to clip 6 newspaper coupon inserts in less than 15 minutes. While some of the methods have evolved and changed, the heart of this blog hasn’t: finding ways to save money on the food and items that matter to you.
For the record, I’ve always advocated for ethical coupon practices that follow manufacturer and store policies. At times I’ve been more outspoken on this topic, but it something that deeply matters to me because I want you to feel good about doing the deals I report here.
Question #9: Do you still enjoy blogging?
I’ll be honest, there are some days that I heave a bit of a sigh, trying to make sure I find enough new and interesting deals in the midst of juggling kids’ school and sport activities. Like any job (even one you love), there are times when you must buckle down and work.
But most of the time, I feel incredibly lucky to be doing what I do. It’s amazing that I’m here – and that people are reading – 9 years later. That’s longer than any other job I held previously!
A couple weeks ago, Laura touched based with me about some of what I’d like to focus on for 2018. In an hour’s time, I brainstormed a pretty lengthy list of content I hope we can create – recipe ideas, frugal how to’s, local guides and resources. After thousands of posts, there are still ideas to explore and deals to share. A couple days ago, I reached out to a new-to-me company because I think you need to know about them. This morning, I met with a news crew that hopes to feature me in the upcoming weeks. Most days, like today, I am still energized and enthused about what I do – and that’s everything.
So to answer the question, yes, I still enjoy blogging. And yes, I still plan on doing it for a long time to come.