Hello! Who are you and what business did you start?
Hello! My name is Ann Remo, and I started a gardening blog, Blooming Anomaly, back in 2017. My blog is all about urban gardening in small spaces while on a budget.
I provide advice for other gardeners on how to start and enjoy a garden in whatever space they have. I also like to share my and my husband's experiences going to public gardens in Southern California.
One of the goals I had, when I started Blooming Anomaly, was to make enough money to cover my monthly student loan payments. My blog has gone above and beyond this goal at this point. I make around $700 a month.
What's your backstory and how did you come up with the idea?
I had been gardening for several years and heard that blogging was a great way to make extra money on the side. I remember looking for passive ways to make money. I had no idea how misleading the passive part is because there is a lot of work involved, but I’m happy I jumped into blogging when I did!
I joined a website that helped you start a blog. I wanted to blog about something I enjoyed but also had the ability to reach many others. I had been gardening for a few years and figured this would be a great topic to blog about.
I also had been teaching writing for years when I started the blog. Even though I knew how to write, there was a small learning curve since I had to write in a way to connect with others through my blog. It was nice having the basics of writing down, but blogging is much different than formal classroom writing!
I had other business ideas but felt this one had potential since it could grow with me. I liked the idea that the startup costs were minimal, and that little material was needed. All I needed was a computer to get started!
Take us through the process of designing and creating your first blog posts..
My first step in writing a blog post is to research keywords. I also make sure the topic is trending and evergreen unless it is a seasonal blog post. I try to make my posts as evergreen as possible, and around 1,000 to 2,000 words.
I use several research tools to find keywords that are getting searched and ranking. I try to find keywords with around 1,000 searches that are not too difficult to rank for. Google Keyword Search, Ubersuggest, and SurferSEO are tools I use.
Google Trends is also a great place to find information on how popular keywords are or will be in the future. Google Keyword Search seems to be the most accurate out of all the tools, but I like using a variety since they all give different information about the keywords.
I wanted to focus on giving tips to gardeners who live in highly populated places with little space, like myself. While most of my articles are geared toward urban gardeners who grow gardens in small spaces, any gardener can benefit from the tips I share.
I try to post every Monday night, unless I am updating an old post. I then add the posts to the monthly newsletter, Facebook, Twitter, and make a few pins to post on Pinterest to get the word out about the new article.
I started using social media right away. I joined Pinterest about a month after starting my blog and started seeing results right away with social media.
I used to send out a newsletter once a week but found that once a month worked fine for me and my audience. If I’m taking part in a webinar or something else, I’ll send a few more emails a month.
I started my mailing list with Mailchimp. I heard through the blogging grapevine that offering a freebie was a great way to get subscribers, so I offer a how-to-start garden packet for new subscribers.
I mention my freebie and mailing list on my blog and all my social media platforms. I send a newsletter out every third Wednesday morning of the month, talking about what I have been doing in my garden, new blog posts I have up, and any future events and tips that my subscribers will find helpful.
Describe the process of launching the business.
When I first started blogging, I began on a website that guides you through the process. I learned many things but knew I wanted to be more independent and own my blog, without being tied to a site. I then decided to join Wordpress on a self-hosted platform.
I watched a video from a blogger that mentioned being on as many social platforms as possible, so I soon joined Pinterest and Twitter, then added an Instagram and Facebook page for my blog.
I slowly began to see visitors on my blog, as well as views and followers on social media. I felt like I should have been doing more, so I started researching what else I could do to get the word out about my little gardening blog.
It didn’t take much to finance the blog when I moved to Wordpress and self-hosted. I used a free theme I found on Wordpress and just changed a few things while teaching myself along the way how to design the site. I love learning new things and blogging was definitely brand new to me!
I changed to a new, faster theme about a year ago, and changed the name of the blog two years ago since the first name no longer fit. I wish I named the blog Blooming Anomaly from the beginning since it was a hassle to change the name on social media and other sites, but it was just part of the learning process for me.
I had to make a new Facebook page for my blog since the site would not let me change the name of my first page. I put up a post on there about where to find the new page to help followers stay with me on Facebook. I also had to remember where to advertise my old blog name and to change the name on various blogging and influencer sites so that others could continue to keep up with me.
Since launch, what has worked to attract and retain customers?
Out of everything I have read and watched about blogging, the main theme I’ve taken away from most bloggers is to just write really good articles that will help people solve problems. Of course, blogging is a lot more than that, but writing great posts that are helpful to my visitors helps me keep them coming back for more.
Pinterest used to be a great source of traffic and helped me grow my blog in the first few years. I am now focusing on SEO. While there are some overnight successes in blogging, there is no quick way to get traffic.
The best thing to do is focus on writing great posts that have keywords that your audience is searching for. It can take 6 months to a year to notice results from SEO, but it will be worth it!
I did take several courses that helped me gain traffic on my blog with SEO and social media, such as Stupid Simple SEO and Pinterest with Ell, to name a few. I didn’t invest in courses until several years after starting my blog. I wish I would have invested in the blog sooner, but that is just part of my learning process.
I launched my blog about a week or so after starting it, so it was pretty quick. I learned more the last four years than I did before launching Blooming Anomaly, so I’m glad I jumped in when I did. I’m better at learning on the job than just reading and studying about it anyway.
I’ve invested in some ads on Facebook and Instagram, but creating and posting click-worthy images on Pinterest has worked the best for me. I create titles with keywords that people are searching for on Pinterest, as well as informative descriptions for each pin with a call to action at the end. I then pin to my most popular boards. I try to do this once a day.
Now that Pinterest has changed so much, I’m focusing more on SEO, but Pinterest still brings my blog the most traffic.
How are you doing today and what does the future look like?
I started making money with the blog about 7 months in, but it was very sparingly. I made money through Amazon’s affiliate program, sponsored posts, and Google Ads. I was only getting a few thousand visitors a month for several years though, so it was slow.
Right now, most of the money I make is with Mediavine ads. My husband helped me make videos to add to Mediavine, which has also helped me get a boost in my income. I also make some money still with Amazon affiliates and other affiliate programs I’m a part of.
Blogging also opened the door of freelance writing for me. While freelance writing is not directly related to the blog, I used Blooming Anomaly as a resume to show potential clients what and how I can write.
I would love to work with a small team to boost SEO and social media, but for now, will continue to be a one-woman show on the blog.
Through starting the business, have you learned anything particularly helpful or advantageous?
The best thing I did was jump into blogging at the very beginning when I just knew the basics. I think if I looked into it more, I would have been too afraid to start. Of course, blogging has been a bumpy road, complete with ups and downs, but I have learned so much along the way.
My biggest challenge was and still is getting visitors to my site. Pinterest is still my main traffic source, but since the site made major changes at the end of 2020, traffic has been up and down. Organic traffic is slowly increasing, and I hope to make organic traffic more than Pinterest traffic soon.
Covid gave me the boost of traffic I needed to get accepted into Mediavine at the time. I think this happened because so many people were home on their computers. Many of these people also got into gardening at this time and were searching for tips that would help them grow plants.
The income is up and down due to traffic trends, but it really gave me a boost in income from the blog.
What platform/tools do you use for your business?
My blog is on Wordpress.org and I just changed my host to Wpx.net, which I’m really happy with. I’m on several social media platforms, but spend most of my time on Pinterest. I use Mailchimp for my newsletters and to capture emails.
I get about 6,000 visitors from Pinterest and 100 from Facebook a month. While I do interact on Twitter, and occasionally Instagram, these followers tend to stay on those platforms.
I also use many tools provided by Mediavine to increase traffic and subscribers, which has been very helpful. Other than those, I focus on Pinterest, SEO, and writing to help my audience out as best as possible.
I’m slowly starting to make and post videos through Mediavine and Youtube. My husband is a videographer and edits all my videos for me, which has been really helpful!
What have been the most influential books, podcasts, or other resources?
There are many helpful resources for bloggers on the web, which can be overwhelming. Just stick to a few that you like and are helpful.
I have Wealthy Affiliate to thank for starting me on my blogging journey. Neil Patel’s blogs and videos are helpful since he gets straight to the point without the fluff. Ell Duclos has been inspirational since she developed a super successful blog in a short amount of time and enjoys sharing how she did it.
Advice for other entrepreneurs who want to get started or are just starting?
Just start. You will learn plenty along the way. Mistakes are just another way to grow and learn. I love to read, so I read a lot about the latest blogging trends that will help me grow as a blogger.
I see many beginner bloggers on platforms asking when they should start seeing money and how much money they should be made in 1 month, 6 months, a year, and so on. These are probably the same people that give up soon after starting.
In this age of technology, many think that everything should happen automatically when that is not the case with blogging. It can take months, even years, before you see the results you want to see.
There are some exceptions, but it can take years before you see any profit. Start a blog because you enjoy writing, the topic, and connecting with people. The money will come in later.
If you are doing something for a while and you are not seeing results, try something else. A great and frustrating thing about blogging is that there are so many ways to do it, but one way may not work for everyone. Find out what works for you and stick with it.
Are you looking to hire for certain positions right now?
I am currently not hiring right now, but will let you know when I do! I am always looking for guest posts that can add quality to the blog and my audience.
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.
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