How I Transformed My Mom Blog Into A $192K/Year Course For Families

Published: March 14th, 2023
Hilary Erickson
Founder, Pulling Curls
Pulling Curls
from Phoenix, AZ, USA
started March 2005
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Hello! Who are you and what business did you start?

I’m Hilary Erickson, the curly head behind Pulling Curls. I started the website as a “mommy blog” back in 2005 when I had two small boys who were making me pull my curls out. I came up with the name because I wanted to highlight something that made me different, and it’s always been my curly hair.

In 2016 I started The Online Prenatal Class for Couples, the first of my online courses for families. It was followed in 2017 by The Organized Home and in 2018 by Family Routines – courses that support the 3 pillars of my site – Pregnancy, Parenting, & Home.

I have been a nurse since 1997 and started working in labor and delivery in 2001. I started ramping up my blog in 2014 with Pinterest. In 2020 I quit labor and delivery and consider myself now a full-time prenatal educator (with a hobby of content creation for other topics on the side).

Pulling Curls income fluctuates monthly but the average would probably be around 16,000/month and was started with zero investment other than time and a lot of youtube videos watched on how to do things by Hilary.


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

Blogging was all the things to the moms of mid-2000 but I’d always loved writing as a kid. In fact, my 8th grade “what I want to be when I grow up” is a writer. But, in high school, my parents reminded me that writers don’t make money, so I settled on being a nurse – although, even at my college graduation I said that my dream job was to be a writer for a medical drama (huge ER fan in college).

It was just a hobby for years, but in 2014 I started ramping it up more for more traffic using Pinterest. I’d never had any other business ideas, and had zero intention of doing anything else other than supplementing my family’s income a bit.

I was hesitant to do pregnancy posts as I worried that my main job as a labor nurse wouldn’t like it, but I did a few and they did so well, I did more. At the same time, I had taught prenatal classes for my hospital but the money just wasn’t worth it to lose out on precious after-school time with my family.

I just continued writing new posts. In 2019 we also started the podcast to support my brands.

Take us through the process of building the first version of your product.

After realizing that 6 pm on Tuesday nights didn’t work for the couples, or myself I thought that maybe taking the prenatal class online would be a good idea. At the time I was one of the only hospital-based classes online (and most people thought I was crazy and just wanted to take an in-person class).

In 2016 I launched The Online Prenatal Class for Couples as a book (with a different name). But, I quickly took it to an online course hosted on my website.

In 2017 I launched The Organized Home – a simple way for families to work on getting organized, and then in 2018 I launched Family Routines – where you organize your PEOPLE. I love to organize, so those were more passion projects, rather than an area of expertise.

In 2017 I moved my courses to Teachable where I stayed until 2022 when I moved back to my platform via Thrivecart Learn.

The start-up costs have always been fairly nominal. Using my platform initially allowed me to test the idea with very little investment. When I moved to Teachable the investment grew but proved to be worthwhile.

All along I’ve funded it myself and continued supporting it through the revenue from the sites

The online prenatal class for couples continues to be one of the top-recommended prenatal classes and has hundreds of positive reviews.

The Organized Home ranks well on SEO for home organization classes, and it does alright, but the prenatal class sells more – and I do feel more of an expert in that area.

The Online Prenatal Class for Couples has gone through a few variations in pricing. I used to have 3 tiers, with a book as the lowest tier, but very few people were buying the book.

I currently advertise it with a low-price guarantee for a total prenatal class for $79. I also have an all-in-one class that covers baby, and more tips for your partner that costs $179. The class sold like crazy through 2020 but has slowed since then.

Currently, courses are about $6k/month right now.

Here is an early version of the book:


It’s come a long way since then.

Describe the process of launching the business.

I have been around since before there were really solid launch strategies out there. I also wasn’t sure it was going to take off, and I had serious imposter syndrome (which is crazy, now that I think about it).

As for Pulling Curls it just morphed, it never launched and it has had a huge evergreen return in ad and affiliate income. I mostly believe with a website to just get it up and going as soon as possible.

Even with my 2nd site – The Pregnancy Nurse I just started it when it didn’t look that great, and I didn’t have a lot of articles, because I knew I’d start getting SEO juice the longer the site was up and going.

All along I’ve funded it myself, and it was most self-funded through revenue from the site.

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

For me, it’s always been me. I do all of the writing on the site. I made sure to have a VERY segmented newsletter, so people who didn’t want pregnancy or Disneyland weren’t getting that (but those that did make sure to get that). I use a newsletter company called Birdsend to do my newsletter. It does all the fancy things of other platforms at a small percentage of the price.

I use specific opt-ins that are for each segment of my newsletter. A Disneyland trip calculator for travel, a hospital packing list for pregnancy, etc. I also like to call my newsletter frequently for people that don’t show interest. I send them through a cold subscriber sequence and delete them if they don’t re-engage. I just culled my list from about 15k back to around 9k, and I’ve had more success with it since then.

I have also stopped doing the “hard sell” in my newsletters. I do sometimes say that my course is the “medicine” that they need for their problem (aka, my prenatal class is the medicine to prevent birth trauma), but after I’ve said that I move on to educate more, and sales have picked up from the newsletter since then (rather than badgering them for days about their “last chance to buy” – even though all the experts say to do that).

I have tried Facebook ads, Pinterest ads, and Adwords, but have never had luck with it. I think I am unusual with all of the organic traffic I get through SEO and Pinterest that I have the best luck with those people.

Currently, I am mostly just trying to write highly targeted SEO terms for things my ideal customers would be searching for. Things like Glucose testing, Laundry room organization, and things like that.

I use RANK IQ to find good keywords to write for. I also check my Google Search Console for things that I haven’t written for but rank for on other posts. Then, I write a post for that.

For example, I have a “did my water break quiz” but people were finding it searching “signs your water is going to break” – so I wrote that post, since I don’t specifically talk about it in that other post, and they’ve been doing well. I update 2 articles each week and write about 2 articles/week between the two sites at this point, plus a podcast episode that publishes on Pulling Curls weekly.

I use brands and products that I love and have become a good affiliate for those companies. It’s been nice to share things I already love and make money using those companies. Good for both of us (which is nice – a huge bonus to having a successful website).

And, I’ve been with Mediavine for years. I am happy with their service.

Keep working, every day. It’s not a quick way to make money, it’s a job and you have to treat it like that.

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

Sales are down a bit. I honestly don’t know why – and I try not to make up stories about it. Last year was a building year for The Pregnancy Nurse, but I now have ads and some decent affiliate income coming from that site. It also brings in a lot of leads for The Online Prenatal Class. I also really enjoy writing those more in-depth articles including studies and evidence-based practices over there.

Social media is a rough go, and I’ve backed off of that a bit. I think that writing is my strength, so I am playing with it.

The Pregnancy Nurse gets almost 100k pageviews/month, and Pulling Curls gets about 200k. Ad revenue between the two sites is about 5k, about 6-7k from course sales, and maybe 2k from affiliate income, depending on the month.

Most days I’m writing or re-writing posts for SEO, making some pins. Adding new parts or editing my courses. I work about 4-6 hours every day and I think of it as a job. I’m down working before my kids are up and I try to be done before they get home from school.

As far as goals, I’d love to speak more about pregnancy on a national stage. I think I have a solid voice to add to the conversation of what both providers and patients can do to have a better experience. That’s one of my big goals.

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

The main thing is to just keep going. Just get up and keep doing things. There will be ebbs and flows of traffic, income, and positivity, but I just keep going and I think it has helped my business be the most successful it can be.

I think sometimes you have to publish B or C work (rather than A work) to get things up. In the area of pregnancy, I am aware that my B or C work is far beyond what most people think is A work – so it helps me not be as self-conscious about what I offer early on. And I have learned you can ALWAYS edit things.

I have also been super mindful of the partnerships I have made. I have had some go very badly, taken some bad business advice, and made alliances with people who proved to be poor partners, but you have to take risks like that, and I try not to beat myself up about it.

What platform/tools do you use for your business?

I host my site with WPTechs, Thane also does my tech work and fixes all things code for me, which is huge.

I use Birdsend for emails. I had previously had a really bad experience with Convertkit after being with them very early on – I decided it wasn’t worth the cost (and I didn’t feel valued). Birdsend works to fix things, and I have been happy with them (and especially the price).

My courses are hosted on Thrivecart Learn, and I use Thrivecart as the checkout platform. I use Endorsal to get and host reviews. I found that on Appsumo and I LOVE getting lifetime deals that work long-term for me.

My podcast is hosted on Libsyn, and I like it alright.

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

I like Blogging Millionaire for podcasts. He has actionable tips without overly selling something.

I strongly believe that much of the B2B for online content creators is similar to an MLM where they only sell themselves, and not an actual product (and then reward others for promoting their poor products). Honestly, I’ve had SUCH a poor experience with a few online courses and people who weren’t good teachers and didn’t have the “secrets” they purported to have. I no longer take online courses.

I do have a few books I have loved:

  • The Gap vs the Gain
  • The Big Leap
  • Building a Story Brand by Donald Miller

I do think that books give me more than the courses, and are a much cheaper cost.

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

Keep working, every day. It’s not a quick way to make money, it’s a job and you have to treat it like that.

Don’t take too many courses. If there’s something specific about your job that you don’t understand a specific thing might be worthwhile – but the reality is that people don’t have “secrets” - and a lot is constant work, and being realistic about what to expect from all of it.

Be mindful of relationships. Once you feel “burned” by someone, be hesitant to get back into work with them. Listen to that inner voice you have.

I know it’s easy to think that someone on TikTok who said you could make 60k in a month doing something is telling the truth, but the truth could be that is all they made all year because they had a one-time launch. If you want money to support your family, it will likely be a slow burn that requires a lot of work upfront.

Where can we go to learn more?

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