How I Started A 6-Figure Net Profit Lifestyle Blog

Published: May 24th, 2020
Katie Reyes
Founder, Katie Did What
Katie Did What
from Sacramento, California, USA
started January 2012
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Hello! Who are you and what business did you start?

Hi! My name is Katie and I am the person behind the lifestyle blog and personal brand, Katie Did What. Together, my husband and I operate a blog that averages 75,000 unique monthly visitors in addition to social profiles totaling over 125k aggregate followers.

I am somewhat different in that I don’t have a physical or digital product- and right now, that doesn’t interest me at all. I sell sponsored posts/advertisements on my blog and social networks, in addition to generating income via affiliate programs. Essentially, I earn a living cultivating a large following and recommending products and services to them. This also results in me creating content for brands- sometimes for them to use in their own advertising efforts outside of my brand.

I guess now the “proper” term for what I am is an “influencer” although I started this before that was even a word! Whatever it is, my husband and I have been able to do this, and only this, for the past few years and have been able to spend as much time as we want with our 3 kids. We’ve had 3 consecutive 6-figure net profit years and are well on pace again for 2020!


What's your backstory and how did you come up with the idea?

I just mentioned having kids, but it never hurts to talk about them again! We’ve got 3 kids who as of May 2020 are 1, 4, and 6. Never a dull moment! I initially started my blog almost ten years ago as an outlet. I loved writing and just used it as an online journal. Pretty much my mom was my only reader for the first year!

I ignored Pinterest for way too long, I slept on Instagram too! The later you get into a new platform, the harder rapid growth is!

Around that same time, I started, my husband started a coupon and deal blog. He began making some money there and was really learning the ropes of monetization as I was growing my own audience.

After each of us working on our own blogs for about a year, we came to the realization that my audience was growing much faster, and that putting our focus there was the right move. So Zack started phasing out the work on his blog and really dove into mine.

We had no background in any of this. No web design, no advertising, no SEO, no marketing, nothing. Everything we’ve learned, we have learned as we traveled through this process.

So Zack learned web design and SEO. From there, we applied what he learned about affiliate marketing with his other blog. Soon enough, we started seeing results on Katie Did What. Organic Google traffic was coming to posts with affiliate links- earning us passive income. This was our “aha moment” so to speak. We realized that we could really make this work as a full-time job.

It wasn’t long after that we decided to quit our jobs. We worked at a restaurant for a combined 16 years, so leaving wasn’t a decision we took lightly. Fortunately, we didn’t have kids yet, so we were more comfortable taking that financial risk.

Since launch, what has worked to attract and retain customers?

Let’s call our “launch” the moment we left our “real” jobs. Since then, we’ve relied on my own authenticity and quality of content to grow my audience. The majority of the business relies on me having an audience, and that relies on me being relatable, authentic, and generally likable. Aside from that, SEO is the other money-maker for us.

As I mentioned, Zack handles the SEO part and is all self-taught. That’s his favorite part- and maybe mine too. To log in to an affiliate dashboard and see money earned from a post published 4 years ago is pretty cool. He’s really worked to increase our passive income by optimizing top-performing posts on Google. The biggest thing with SEO that we’ve learned is that it takes patience. Be organized at what you’re doing and keep going.

On my end, I focus on the quality of content- which brings brands (my customers) to me and keeps them coming back. My focus when I get a sponsored opportunity is to “wow” the brand and get them to come back for another gig. I do this by making sure to listen to what exactly the brand wants, and what type of messaging they want to get across.

My other “customers” are my readers. I keep them coming back by giving them consistent, real, quality, and relatable content. I never take a sponsored gig that isn’t “ME” and that would alienate my audience. I always want them to know what to expect from me- and I always want to deliver.

Another thing Zack focuses on is social media ads. We’ve done some Pinterest, but have spent about a quarter of a million dollars on Facebook ads. While they don’t work as well anymore, he still runs them fairly often. We also have recently started doing Instagram ads, but their value to us remains to be seen. With these ads, we just try and target our ideal audience (23-45-year-old females who like to shop) and start with a small budget. If that ad is working well, we up the budget indefinitely until the numbers stop working.


How are you doing today and what does the future look like?

As I mentioned at the beginning, we are on track for another 6-figure year. Our growth is definitely not where we want it to be- and that is due to a few factors. The influencer pool is getting more and more full. Every year tens of thousands of influencers enter the picture and there is only so much sponsored/campaign money to go around. Further, some of our top-performing stores are reducing their affiliate income percentage, which is reducing our income from that avenue.

If you’re looking to get started in the influencer space, there is still room. There’s this common conception that there is an overflow of influencers right now and it’s impossible to stand out. That simply isn’t true.

Another way we are unique is that we have very low overhead. If you take out advertising, which is only used for growth, not sustainment- we have pretty low expenses. Not having to have a product really helps there. Also, we don’t have outside employees. We are considering making a hire, but as of right now, it’s just us!

Our day to day operations is not terribly consistent. We’ve been doing this with a baby/toddler around for 6 years, so it’s never been a “normal” process. Every day, I usually start by filtering through dozens of emails and social DMs regarding sponsored/advertising campaigns. We also try to tackle an “evergreen” piece of work, whether that’s deep-dive SEO stuff, interacting with my “tribe” on social to build and cultivate that audience, create content for the blog.

Our day-to-day work can be (and often is) broken up by sponsored content. For me, it’s not consistent, which keeps things interesting. I could go 3 weeks with no campaigns, and then have 2-3 quick-turnaround jobs to do in a 5-day span. Sponsored campaigns could involve: sourcing products, planning content, traveling to a location for a photoshoot, taking, sorting and editing photos, writing and editing content in addition to logistical things like reading and signing contracts, sending drafts and tracking down payment.

Through starting the business, have you learned anything particularly helpful or advantageous?

My business has been nothing but learning! My number one piece of advice for anyone interested in becoming an influencer or online marketer is to stay on top of trends, especially platforms. I ignored Pinterest for way too long, I slept on Instagram too! The later you get into a new platform, the harder rapid growth is!

The best decision we made was quitting our jobs at a time in our lives when we could afford to do so. We had no debt, low rent, and no kids. If that’s your situation- go for it!

Zack and I are a good team. With my focus on content and his on the business end, it really is a great tandem! He can crunch numbers and let me know what type of content is working best- and I’ll work from there. When I’m writing the blog posts, I’ll consult with him for keyword research.

This industry is very easy to get blindsided, so we try to be ready for that. I never got into Vine, but that’s an example of a social network that was the main source of income for some influencers just shutting down. Also, we are at the mercy of affiliates with regard to that part of our income. I mentioned some of our top affiliates lowering commission rates, and we have no say in that.

We try to be ready for these types of things by diversifying our income as much as possible. I don’t rely on Instagram, or on a single affiliate program for the bulk of my income. I get a pretty even income distribution from affiliate income on social networks and the blog as well as sponsored content on the blog and social.

What platform/tools do you use for your business?

We don’t use a lot of tools besides what is necessary for blogging- so a domain name, a solid web host (we use Bigscoots) and ConvertKit for email marketing. We run the blog on Wordpress.

Because my business is a personal brand, outsourcing and automating much of it just doesn’t make sense. I see a lot of influencers automating things and it just is so impersonal. I like to publish content when it’s relevant and fresh.

I do use Milotree for building social media through blog traffic. I also use Optinmonster for email collection. Those types of tools that put my social channels in front of more eyes or that collect emails are what interest me the most. This way I can focus on content creation.

What have been the most influential books, podcasts, or other resources?

I really don’t look toward one person for influence. I try and keep my hand on the pulse of the industry, which requires me to be aware of what many industry leaders are doing. Focusing on what one person is “preaching” can lead to narrowmindedness, which is never good.

That said, whenever I need a good dose of motivation, I’ll check out Garyvee. But as he says, he’s rather his followers “go do” than consume his content- so I try and live by that.

Advice for other entrepreneurs who want to get started or are just starting out?

If you’re looking to get started in the influencer space, there is still room. There’s this common conception that there is an overflow of influencers right now and it’s impossible to stand out. That simply isn’t true.

If you’re authentic, likable, and hard-working, your content will shine through. If you try and take shortcuts, or are only in it for the money, people will see right through that and you’ll likely get nowhere.

My #1 piece of advice for those interested in blogging/influencing is to start because you want to share about your life. Or as an outlet. Do not start because you want to make money. If that’s your only motivation, you’ll quit after making no money for 60-90 days.

Are you looking to hire for certain positions right now?

Right now, I am looking to hire an assistant. The ideal candidate is someone who used to blog, and who has an active social presence, who “gets it” in terms of the influencer/blogging world. We are looking for someone local, to work with us in person.

Where can we go to learn more?

If you have any questions or comments, drop a comment below!