Knowing how to blog and knowing how to do it correctly and efficiently are completely different matters. Often times when we start a blog, it’s with the hope and expectation to get high traffic, earn money and be able to support ourselves or our families.
However, as fun and profitable blogging can be, it also takes hard work, dedication, and knowledge to see results from blogging. For that reason, I interviewed Tracie Fobes, who’s a successful six-figure blogger, and an amazing blogging coach.
Are you ready to learn? Let’s do it!
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Tracie, tell me a little about yourself. How did you get into blogging?
Hi there! I am married with three kids (ages 11, 13 and 15) living in Kansas City — GO CHIEFS!!! In my pre-kids life, I was a 401(k) administrator; but when kids came into the picture I quit that job to stay home and raise them.
I honestly got into blogging at the encouragement of a friend. When I was first told that I needed to start a blog, I Googled “What is a blog?” I had absolutely no clue what I was doing. I sat down and created pennypinchinmom.com.
That was January 2009. I grew that blog to a consistent 6- figure annual income. In 2016 I began getting emails and requests from others, asking me to teach them how to do what I was doing. Before that, I did not think I was qualified to teach anyone about this crazy biz.
But, the more the requests came, the more I realized I should give this blogging education some thought. I started a second site but did not do much with it.
I showed up in groups and was helpful where I could be. Before I knew it, people wanted to hire me to help them and that blog took off!
I managed two blogs for more than 2 years and it was exhausting. In August 2019, I was approached by a potential buyer for my site. They officially took over in October and now, I am down to one site – TracieFobes.com.
I’ve been through it all and have seen blogs grow, change and evolve. But the one thing that remained constant was my love for this industry and my desire to make it work – no matter what.
What inspired you to start a blog?
It was 100% at the urging of friends. I had zero clue how to blog, let alone how you could make money at it. To be honest, I did not know you even could make money blogging,
But, once I started putting the thoughts down on paper I loved it! It quickly grew from a hobby to a passion.
As far as what to blog about? That also came from my friends.
When we were getting out of debt, I was doing all I could to find ways to have money to throw at it to pay it off. I started using coupons and found some amazing deals at my local drug and grocery stores.
I was a part of a forum of moms and started sharing these hot prices and offers with them. A friend said that this all should be on a blog.
I started sharing the deals and strategies for budgeting and getting out of debt. People were reading and responding and I started making a difference in their lives. It encouraged me to keep going, even when it was rough.
People were reading and responding and I started making a difference in their lives. It encouraged me to keep going, even when it was rough.Tweet
I honestly branched into coaching first as people asked me for help. But, I really started the second site because I remembered what I felt like when I started.
I would spend hours Googling how to fix my site or add features. I even emailed bloggers
asking begging for help. Their responses? Crickets.
I heard nothing. There were no Facebook groups out there or blogs like this to help me. I would spend hours crying trying to fix what I had broken. I was alone trying to figure it all out – which I did eventually do.
But, I believe no blogger should ever feel this way. That’s my goal and the reason for my coaching and education blog — for bloggers to know they aren’t alone. There is someone who remembers exactly what it feels like to want someone to answer that one question they have – without being judged for it.
How soon after starting your blog did you start to monetize?
As I said, I didn’t even know you could make money blogging. At least not at first.
I did a lot of research on how to make money blogging, which is how I learned about affiliate marketing. When I started I thought I could only use banners on my site (so clueless).
I still remember one day in August 2009 a check for $65 arrived in the mail. You would have thought I won the lottery!
If you want to learn how to do affiliate marketing or improve on what you already know, then check out Tracie’s Affiliate Marketing Roadmap course here (affiliate).
I couldn’t believe it worked. That my little blog made a few bucks. That thrust me into the desire to learn as much as I could about affiliate marketing, ads, products — everything possible when it came to making money!!
What’s your number #1 method of monetization?
When I owned PennyPinchinMom.com, the income was evenly split at 50% from my ad network and 50% affiliate income.
On my current site, 75% comes from my own products, courses, and services, and the other 25% is affiliate marketing.
Similar to Tracie, I also discovered that you make a lot more money with your own products. If you want to start creating products for your blog and sell them, then I highly recommend Product Perfection online course (affiliate) for helping you come up with product ideas, creation, pricing, selling and much more.
At what point did you feel that you created a real business that would help you to support your family?
When I started seeing a consistent income of five figures I realized I had made it. But, I still did not trust it. I was fearful it would go away.
But, after three years of making more than $10,000 a month, I knew I could trust that it was here to stay.
Approximately how many hours a week do you work on your blog?
At this time I work less than 20 hours a week on my blog. When I ran the other site it was around 25 – 30 hours a week.
It was not always the number of hours but what I was doing with them that I focused on above all else.
Have you experienced burnout as a blogger and how did you deal with it?
Oh my goodness – YES!! Blogger burnout is 100% normal and I think nearly every blogger goes through it. It is the one reason why I tell people to make sure you blog what you love and know as that will help you through those low times.
Burnout is a low time.
When I feel this, I take a break. My site will not fall apart if I take a couple of days off. That is what I recommend.
Your well-being trumps traffic, income — everything with your site. If you aren’t able to take time for yourself, how can you give it to others?
Your well-being trumps traffic, income — everything with your site. If you aren’t able to take time for yourself, how can you give it to others?Tweet
Fill your bucket before others. When you are burnt out, take care of your needs and breathe before you worry about pinning that next pin on Pinterest or responding on that Facebook thread.
What’s your secret for keeping yourself productive?
Passion. It sounds a bit like a cliche but it is true! I love what I do and helping people so much that it keeps me going and productive.
I do plan out my week. Each Sunday, I determine my top three income drivers that I need to work on. Then, I write down what I need to work on each day in order to make that happen.
If a new idea comes to mind I don’t change gears. I add it to a list and I will get to it later.
You need to find the one thing to focus on and don’t let those other ideas or distractions get into the way (and yeah – I close Facebook when I am working so I am not tempted to go down that black hole).
Where do you think new and intermediary bloggers should concentrate their efforts for growth?
It all starts with content. And not just content for content. But rather well-written, thought out content. It means a post that is optimized for SEO (search engine optimization), so you can get found in search.
Two of my most favorite and useful SEO resources are the ebooks by Debbie Gartner. She makes understanding SEO simple and actionable. Her Easy on Page SEO (affiliate) and Easy Backlinks for SEO (affiliate) are my go-to resources. You can get both books here (affiliate).
Then, use that content to grow your list. The power is in the list. That is your direct connection to the people who want to read what you write.
SEO algorithms can change lowering your ranks. Pinterest can make an update and your traffic disappears overnight. Facebook can kill your reach.
Your list is yours. It does not change. You own it no matter what happens on those other platforms (that you are, by the way, using for free traffic).
What’s one mistake that you see bloggers make that bothers you?
Hands down it is not running their blog as a business; including making the right investments.
If you started a brick and mortar business you would not think twice about paying for your building, inventory, staff, and advertising. I don’t get why bloggers are not willing to make the same type of investment in their blogging business.
Whether it is paying for better hosting, legal policies for your site or courses to learn how to make products, affiliate marketing, SEO, and more, you need to be willing to make that investment.
I get that when you start out you don’t have a lot of money. I was there once too. But, if you really want your blog to generate a full-time income then you must make the right investments to take you where you want to go.
What advice do you have for new bloggers?
Find your person or people. There is a LOT of noise out there. Track down your 2 – 3 people that you listen to.
If you want to learn from the best and not waste time figuring things out, Tracie offers affordable and high-quality group coaching program. You can sign up for it here.
They will be your calm in the storm. You will get your advice from them. You will trust what they say as they truly have your best interests at heart.
Don’t rely on Google and random sites when it comes to building a blogging business. Find the experts and listen to them. They will not lead you astray.
I hope this interview with an expert blogger Tracie Fobes gave you some helpful tips and advice. I’ve known Tracie for some time now, and I’ve yet to see her give wrong advice. Tracie has a reputation for being an excellent teacher. I hope you will take advantage of some of the resources I mentioned in this article because anything by her is bound to overdeliver.
Blogging is very much a real business, and you should treat it as such. I understand the desire to save money where you can, but certain instances require you to spend money in order to make money. If you don’t have adequate training, tools, and resources, then you’re starting with a huge disadvantage.
If you liked this interview article with Tracie Fobes, then share this post on Pinterest and other social media. Do you have questions for Tracie? comment below and we’ll get back to you as quickly as possible.
Tracie is my blogging coach and I rely SO much on her advice. She’s the best! My blog wouldn’t be as successful as it is today without Tracie’s guidance. Great interview, Mariam!
Hi Katie! Thanks for your comment. I definitely agree with you. Tracie is very generous with her time and advice. I love that she’s truly invested in others’ success.
That was a great interview. I have been following Tracie for quite some time and her advice is gold. It was good to know what we should focus on as a new blogger.
I am so glad you enjoyed the interview. I feel the same way. Tracie always delivers and you know her advice is on point.