Hello! Who are you and what business did you start?
I’m Debbie, and I’m known online as TheFlooringGirl. I have a home décor blog where I blog about flooring, painting, and home décor. It has now become my full-time job.
I’ve been blogging since 2011, but only monetizing for the last 3 ½ years. Now, my blog earns over $20,000 per month in profit (and has for the last 15 months).
My site has over 700,000 pageviews/month. Search Engine Optimization (SEO) has been the key to my success and you can find my SEO ebooks here.
What's your backstory and how did you come up with the idea?
I originally had a flooring store. It was a shop at home business where I went to customers’ homes to find the ideal flooring for their home and style. I originally started my blog as a marketing vehicle – to find local customers. And, it went very well.
Fast forward to 2017 and I found myself $238,000 in debt without a means of income and living in a very high cost of living area (New York). I had to start over and reinvent myself, and it was very scary. I was on the verge of bankruptcy and losing my home.
I had heard that people were making money on their blog and thought that maybe I could too. At the time, I had around 120,000 visitors per month, so I knew there were interest and an opportunity. I just had no idea how to capitalize on it.
It was scary because at the time I did not really understand how to monetize the traffic, and I knew it would take a while, so I took on 2 part-time jobs while I learned how to grow and monetize my blog.
One of those jobs was doing painting estimates/consultations (which I later incorporated into my blog since painting and flooring often go together).
Fast forward to 2020, and I’m now earning over $20,000 per month and I’m down to just $31,000 in debt. I’m determined to pay down the rest real soon…ideally by the end of the year.
To earn some additional money (since I had so much debt to pay off), I started to train some bloggers on SEO over the phone.
Take us through the process of designing, prototyping, and manufacturing your first product.
When I originally launched my blog in 2011, it was just a marketing vehicle, so a part of my business. I had no clue what I was doing, so I paid someone to design and set up my site.
And, then I just started to do what I knew best. I blogged about flooring and key questions my customers had. After 6 months, my blog started to get traction and I got many calls from customers.
Over time, I would blog once a week (later just once a month) and learned SEO better and better and the blog kept growing and growing.
I wasn’t making direct money from my blog, because back then, I didn’t even know that was possible. But, it brought in customers for flooring, so it was a major growth vehicle in that way.
Describe the process of launching the business.
Years later, in 2017 when I was learning to monetize my blog, I worked like a dog – every day and virtually every hour. I was either working on my 2 part-time jobs, or my blog and learning everything I possibly could about monetizing.
I had so much to learn. I had to learn how to do Pinterest, how to do affiliate marketing, how to create products, how to do email and sales funnels, etc. After 3 ½ years, I’m still learning, and that’s what makes this business so exciting. There are so many things to learn and so many ways to learn.
Over time, especially with the SEO traffic, things became more passive, and that allowed me to grow and work on new projects. It also meant that if I got sick or went on vacation, my business would still be making money for me in the background.
To earn some additional money (since I had so much debt to pay off), I started to train some bloggers on SEO over the phone. This initially just started randomly. An acquaintance was looking for help on SEO and I volunteered to help him. I undercharged and he paid me $75. I thought it would take an hour, but it was more like 1.5 hrs. I then reached out to a 2nd blogger who needs help and then things spread by word of mouth in one of the blogger Facebook groups.
Eventually, my schedule was so in demand that I was booked out for 3 months. I had so many people asking for my SEO training, so at the end of my 2nd year, I created 2 SEO ebooks and I’ve now sold thousands of copies. You can check them out here.
After a year and a half I was able to cut down on my part-time active work and by 27 months, dropped it completely, and focused full time on my blog.
I’m also excited that a large portion of my business is passive because that means later when I eventually retire, I have my own self-generating retirement plan.
Many asked for additional information, so I started a free email newsletter to provide additional SEO and blogging advice for bloggers.
Choosing a niche is critical. The more specific you are with your target and niche the better. Going too wide will just make your life more difficult.
Since launch, what has worked to attract and retain customers?
The key to my success has been SEO (Search Engine Optimization). I am now getting 400,000 pageviews/month from that, and it’s what leads to the majority of my profits.
Pinterest has been 2nd and that is driving around 300,000 pageviews a month.
Virtually all of these pageviews are for flooring, painting, and home decor. I barely write about blogging or SEO on my flooring blog. And, when I do, I no index them and hide them. I share that sort of information with my email list.
And, then my blogging email list has been fun and cathartic for me (and profitable too). I’m just starting a home décor email list for my next project.
How are you doing today and what does the future look like?
My blog income has been pretty steady as my traffic and income streams are diversified. However, due to the virus that shall not be named, things have been more challenging with ad incomes going down and affiliate programs pausing or cutting rates.
Nonetheless, March, April, and May incomes were still quite strong, all 3 over $20,000 in profit. After Amazon cut their commission rates, I put together a new plan and executed against it. April turned out to be a record month, and May was much higher than expected.
This is a business and recessions and challenges happen all the time. It just means we need to innovate and diversify some more, and I’m in the process of pivoting again.
I will be doing some more SEO for my top performing posts, creating more products (for both parts of my biz – home décor and blogging), and developing my home décor email list and funnels.
I’m so thankful that I can work from home during all of this, and so far my income is strong enough (so far) to get me through. And, of course, safety comes first. Hopefully, soon things will be safer and more normal for everyone.
I just want to get the rest of my debt cleared off soon and then I’m happy just to stay at a steady rate. When it’s safer in my area, I’m hoping to spend a lot of time at the pool.
Through starting the business, have you learned anything particularly helpful or advantageous?
When it comes to blogging, I’ve learned several important lessons:
Choosing a niche is critical. The more specific you are with your target and niche the better. Going too wide will just make your life more difficult. You’ll be less likely to succeed, it will take longer, and it’s more work.
Master one skill at a time; then move on to the next.
Diversify your income streams and traffic sources. It enables you to earn more and insulate your business when there’s a downturn or changes in the market (expect many).
Don’t be afraid to invest in yourself and your learning. It will save you time and enable you to earn more faster.
What platform/tools do you use for your business?
My favorite tool is Google Search Console as it gives you a wealth of information on your site so you can improve. I also love Tailwind for scheduling Pinterest pins as it saves me a ton of time.
What have been the most influential books, podcasts, or other resources?
Pat Flynn’s Smart Passive Income Podcast for sure. He’s the reason I decided to monetize my blog. I also love Nick Loper’s Side Hustle Nation. I was lucky enough to meet him in September, and he featured me on one of his podcasts. I’m hoping that I may be able to meet Pat Flynn one day and thank him for getting me into this whole thing.
Advice for other entrepreneurs who want to get started or are just starting out?
Make sure you have enough savings. Everything will take you longer than you think it will. “They,” say you should have 6 months of savings, but I’d say for entrepreneurs who are starting a new business 12 months is much safer. Everything will take longer than you think.
Just do it. Those that take action, succeed.
Where can we go to learn more?
- My free email list with blogging and SEO tips
- Sign up for my FREE SEO intro course
If you have any questions or comments, drop a comment below!
Hey! 👋 I'm Pat Walls, the founder of Starter Story.
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