Hello! Who are you and what business did you start?
I’m Carly, a full time stay at home mom, full-time blogger. I run two semi-related businesses - Mommy on Purpose, a mom lifestyle blog focusing on new motherhood and home life (monetized only through traffic), and Blogging Like You Mean It, which supports new bloggers in their journey to monetize their blogs (monetized only through product sales and email marketing).
Running two online businesses can be hectic, but I truly never feel like I’m “working” because blogging is so much FUN!
Every day, I’m grateful that I started blogging and invested the time to grow online. I get to be at home, be involved with my kids in a way that other parents just aren’t able to… and I also get to sleep in, keep a schedule that suits me, and answer to no one but God. (I was never cut out for employee life, haha.)
But more important to me than any of that, I will never have to leave my kids in daycare to go out and work - my mom blog alone makes 8-10,000 Canadian dollars per month, both when I work hard on it AND when I take a month off.
What's your backstory and how did you come up with the idea?
When I started Mommy on Purpose, I started with ZERO knowledge of the internet or how online businesses work. I could hardly type, to be honest, I didn’t even take a high school computer class (and I have no education beyond high school).
I waitressed through all of my 20s and had entered my 30s at a desk job - making slightly more than minimum wage. My husband and I had decided to start a family, and I full well knew that there was NO point in my “going back to work” after I had a baby… paying for childcare meant I’d be bringing in less than 200$ per month.
You won’t learn how to be successful until you find out what doesn’t work.
But we also couldn’t afford to live on one income in our high cost of living area, so I determined that if other average women could make money online - and based on what I read on Pinterest, they were - then so could I.
Take us through the process of designing, prototyping, and manufacturing your first product.
I had spent years “exploring” what sort of work I could do from home - I had very seriously considered transcription (just turning recorded words into text sounded to me like something anyone could do), and I had pursued photography - taking a night class, and purchasing an expensive camera. I took lots of wedding photos on the weekends, working alongside my mom.
I had even taken a 5000$ travel agent training course, and spent a few years trying to sell travel from home. But none of those jobs seemed like the ideal fit for as the work I pictured in my life - something that let me set my own hours entirely, something that didn’t require me to answer to anyone. Work that I could do - or not do - on a daily basis and still make money. (Yes, I know that’s a high ask, but I believed it was out there!)
BLOGGING seemed to check every box for me … so I decided blogging it would be.
I had no idea what I was getting myself into. I knew that if I wanted to be successful, I had to treat my venture as a business from the start, so I skipped trying to do everything for “free” -I invested in courses and resources to help me learn- and boy, did I learn!
The whole “start-up” really only cost me about $2,000 which, looking back on it now, hardly counts as an “investment”. Just think, if I had started a traditional brick and mortar business, it would have cost anywhere from 10 to 100 times that just to get up and running! The REAL cost was in my time investment.
Every single free second of my life (thank goodness I didn’t have kids at this point) was spent in front of the computer - doing, re-doing, and re-doing again. I spent 60+ hours per week working on my blog for 9 months solid (and I was still working at my desk job as well). There was no watching TV, no seeing friends, no cleaning or cooking or anything at all except blogging. But all my hard work was rewarded… in just 9 months I had more than replaced my desk job income.
In the beginning, I was basically just writing about my thoughts and experiences, and pinning them to Pinterest… and REAL PEOPLE were coming to my little blog to read what I was writing. I was BLOWN AWAY.
At that point I hadn’t even touched SEO or email marketing - I had no idea how much bigger I could get!) Of course, as time has gone on I’ve come to understand what PROFITABLE CONTENT is. (Generally, content that solves a problem or that a reader is actively searching for will be easier to make profitable than anything else.
I think I naturally defaulted to this kind of content in the beginning - even without having a solid understanding of WHY I was writing this way, which is what gave me early success on Pinterest. I never fell into the “ranty or rambly” posts trap that beginner bloggers seem to get stuck in, because I always understood that I was writing my blog for other people… not for me!
Describe the process of launching the business.
It wasn’t long after my son was born (just ten months after I started my blog) that I was seeing consistent income and my online friends started asking me for help. That’s when Blogging Like You Mean It was born.
I didn’t know at the time that I was launching a SECOND business. The internet is funny that way, the things that you create can sort of taking on a life of their own!
I had so many people reaching out to me to inquire about how I was getting such amazing Pinterest traffic to my blog, I decided to write a book detailing my strategies and everything I had learned about Pinterest.
I didn’t really think anyone would buy it, so I gave it away to 20 or so people - and a handful of them immediately came back and asked me to make it for sale and allow them to be affiliates.
Pinteresting Strategies continues to sell 75+ copies per month today, 100% by word of mouth (I don’t even have a sales funnel for it.) The little book has grown into a full-blown course now - you can see it here!
As time went on, I grew up an email list around Pinterest and blogging for profit, and that list now generates another very nice income stream.
I could make a million per year online, but the sacrifices I would need to make is not what I want for my family.
Since launch, what has worked to attract and retain customers?
For the mom blog, I have stayed true to my first love - Pinterest. I still get the vast majority of my web traffic from there… I am working on SEO, but it’s slow (and I’m not an expert in ANYTHING - so Google doesn’t LOVE me).
I used to panic because “having all your eggs in the Pinterest basket is stupid”... but as time has gone on, and I’ve watched Google updates crush some sites and others are taken down for inadvertently breaking some tiny rule - I’ve come to realize that nothing is ever a “sure thing”.
Besides, Pinterest CAN supply you with pretty reliable traffic depending on your niche - if you put in the effort.
Here’s my Pinterest traffic from the past three (ish) years (- since I moved to this domain name, anyhow):
Working to grow an engaged audience can help to hedge your bets against fluctuating traffic, but for now, the mom blog is only traffic based… and I’m ok with that.
I keep putting out great content that I know people will want to read, and they read it. (The downward dip this year is directly related to two things… putting out A LOT less content, and accidentally removing the rich pins tag from my Pinterest account. Ouch!)
The blogging niche business, however, is entirely NOT traffic based - I have almost no content for that audience - which makes growing it hard. Being honest and open - presenting myself as a REAL person with real failures and struggles, has helped me to grow in the blogging niche.
So many of the thought leaders position themselves as “experts” - because that’s what we’re supposed to do, right? I mean, even Google wants us to demonstrate our expertise!
But real people want a RELATIONSHIP with relate-able leaders, more than they want experts to tell them what to do. I don’t do advertising or even much guest posting or take any real measures to grow my blogging niche business. Most people who find me find me through a word of mouth referrals.
How are you doing today and what does the future look like?
Today my business is actually very simple because I’m a mom first, and in this season of my life, actively growing my business is next to impossible… because of my priorities.
I have very limited work time right now - the babysitter comes twice per week for 3 hours at a time, and I work. I also work some evenings and weekends when my husband is home.
My only goal is to maintain a good stream of income through my mom blog - the blogging niche business is very competitive and involved, and I can see myself letting that go in the future.
I am very clear about the fact that I am not building an empire. COULD I make a million per year online? Absolutely! Is that what I want for my family (considering the sacrifices they and I would have to make to get there)? Most definitely not even a little bit.
Through starting the business, have you learned anything particularly helpful or advantageous?
I have learned that there is infinite opportunity online for those who are determined enough to find it.
The most important thing you can do is TAKE ACTION - and then look at the data you collect and ask questions - why did this work, or why did it not work? What could you do differently? What could you do exactly the same, but on a bigger scale - or on a different platform?
There is no ONE WAY to have a successful blog, and no two blogs are monetized in exactly the same way.
What platform/tools do you use for your business?
I like to use as few platforms, tools, apps, etc as humanly possible. Simple is where it’s at!
My courses are hosted on Thinkific, and I use ConvertKit for email… but I don’t LOVE either of those platforms and if I had more time to shop around and experiment with others I would. But they work. I stay away from plugins when I can, and I hate having more things to sign into. :)
What have been the most influential books, podcasts, or other resources?
I don’t currently listen to many podcasts, and it’s been a long while since I had time to read a book, but the most beneficial courses I took when I was first starting were Elite Blog Academy and Traffic Transformation by Lena Gott.
Advice for other entrepreneurs who want to get started or are just starting out?
You can only learn and plan so much.
You have to DO to move forward. Action will always take you farther - yes, you will fail… but you can fail forward.
If you’re starting a blog, don’t wait to hit the launch button! You won’t learn how to be successful until you find out what doesn’t work.
Where can we go to learn more?
If you have any questions or comments, drop a comment below!
Hey! 👋 I'm Pat Walls, the founder of Starter Story.
Get our 5-minute email newsletter packed with business ideas and money-making opportunities, backed by real-life case studies.
- 4,818 founder case studies
- Access to our founder directory
- Live events, courses and recordings
- 8,628 business ideas
- $1M in software savings