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My blog that I started as a side gig made 6 figures in revenue last year — and it’s helped me pay off $40,000 of debt

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headshot of Latasha PetersonLatasha Peterson.

Courtesy of Latasha Peterson

  • Latasha Peterson started her blog, Arts and Budgets, in 2016 to help people find ways to earn money.
  • She’s since scaled it up to 100,000 monthly pageviews and made $120,000 in revenue in 2022.
  • By staying consistent and getting feedback from her audience, she’s paid off $40,000 in debt.

Because of my love for finding the best and most profitable side hustles, I started my blog, Arts and Budgets, in 2016 to help creative people find more ways to earn money while still pursuing their artistic dreams. I used to work in musical theater and performing, so I often had to pick up side gigs to help cover my monthly expenses. I’ve done everything from working with brands at local radio stations to participating in focus groups.

When I started the blog, I was pregnant with my first child and wanted nothing more than to stay at home with him, so my husband and I decided that I would quit my job teaching at a high school and focus on this side business. In 2017, I started monetizing my blog, and that May, I earned my first paycheck. Two months later in July, I turned Arts and Budgets into an actual business by incorporating it into an LLC.

Since then, I’ve been able to turn my side hustle into a profitable business, and I hit six figures earned within the first nine months of 2022. My total revenue for 2022 was around $120,000. I work around four to five hours a day from Monday to Friday.

Today, Arts and Budgets gets more than 100,000 monthly pageviews, has more than 116,000 followers on Instagram, and has helped me reach one of my financial goals, which was to pay off more than $40,000 of student-loan, car-loan, and credit-card debt.

Here are some of the strategies I used to turn my blog into a business that earns an average of $10,000 a month.

I set up a plan of action each month

At the start of each month, I ask myself the following questions and write the answers in a Google document to keep track:

  • What is my income goal, and what will be needed to reach that goal?
  • What systems do I have to put into place to accomplish my business goals this month?
  • How can I help my target audience with my product and services this month?
  • Should I create a new product or service to help my target audience on a deeper level?

I usually stick with one to two products or services for at least six months to see how they’re converting with my audience, and this gives me enough time to see what’s working and not working. Setting up a clear plan of action each month helps me go beyond talking about my goals and actually take steps to achieve them.

I went to my target audience for direction

When creating content, I always think about providing value to my target audience of bloggers and business owners because it isn’t just about selling — it’s about solving a problem or addressing a pain point and using that expertise to convince customers to, over time, invest in my services.

an Instagram screengrabOne of Peterson’s Instagram stories.

Courtesy of Latasha Peterson

To understand what my target audience needed, I set up surveys on my Instagram stories and sent them to my email subscribers, then used that feedback to craft my products. My advice is to start asking questions no matter how big your following is. Even if you have a small following, the answers from your followers can help shape the new products and services you create. Some questions I’ve asked my audience are:

  • What are some areas you need help with the most with your side hustle or blog business?
  • What do you want to accomplish in the next three to six months with your side hustle or blog business?
  • Tell me more about your side hustle or the business that you currently run.
  • What’s the main reason you’re seeking coaching this season?
  • What are some of the things you are looking for support on?
  • What do you hope to accomplish after taking this course or one-on-one coaching?

Currently, I send surveys out to my email list every six months, and I put up a new survey on Instagram every three to five months. From my research in 2021, I realized that many of my readers and followers needed help in two areas: learning how to start and turn a blog into a profitable business, and starting a side hustle. Most of my responders said they wanted some sort of guide or library where they could access side hustles easily, so I thought an ebook would be ideal. I created “Side Hustle To Freedom,” that I now sell on my website.

Then I created my signature course, the Blog For Profit Academy, for new bloggers to help them learn how to start a blog and turn it into a business. I take on one cohort of people at a time and teach them together, and I teach four cohorts a year. I also plan to start coaching one-on-one in February. I want to create products and services to help meet each client at the level they’re at. Some people are ready for one-on-one coaching, while others want to start with an ebook or course.

I built a solid team 

At the end of 2020, I knew that I wouldn’t be able to handle everything on my own much longer. I had more people asking for one-on-one blog or side-hustle coaching, I needed help creating promo graphics for my products, and I had three young children. By the next summer, I hired a writer from ProBlogger and a web designer I found in a Facebook group.

In early 2022, I hired my first virtual assistant from Onlinejobs.ph to help with everyday tasks like creating graphic images in Canva for my launches, Instagram posts, and Facebook posts. She also helps manage my Facebook group by welcoming new members and helping me answer questions, and she helps with tasks in Excel, such as transferring documents. My VA works Monday through Thursday with me for four hours each day, which helps complete tasks much faster.

One of the things that helped me when I first started hiring for my team was creating a list of qualities for potential team members. I knew it was important to build a team that would be positive, hardworking, committed, and excited to learn new things, as well as experienced in blogging, social media, personal finance, and entrepreneurship. When hiring my VA specifically, I looked for someone who had experience with WordPress and creating graphics in Canva, had excellent communication skills, and was a team player who could meet deadlines.

When hiring team members, I suggest writing out a list of all the things you want to accomplish in the next year and then set up a list of qualities you desire in your next hire — and make sure to be precise. Some great boards to post your listing on are ProBlogger and Upwork.

I created a schedule for consistency

When I started Arts and Budgets, I decided to focus on Instagram and Pinterest, along with creating blog content. I started on Pinterest in 2017, and I noticed that my blog traffic increased significantly after months of pinning each day. I went from having only 200 monthly pageviews to more than 50,000 pageviews after I started utilizing Pinterest, which helped me get accepted into Mediavine, my ad publishing company. Since then, I’ve kept Pinterest in my business strategy.

I chose Instagram to help build connections with my target audience and other online entrepreneurs because I noticed that on Instagram, I could show behind-the-scenes footage of my business by posting Reels. My followers could also send me messages asking questions here.

As my business grew, I created Facebook and TikTok accounts, and now I post once a day on Pinterest, Facebook, Instagram, and TikTok. Staying consistent with a blogging and social-media schedule has helped grow my Instagram followers to 116,000, my email subscribers to more than 15,000, and my monthly pageviews to more than 100,000 each month.

Consistency has also helped me develop relationships with my target audience, brands, and collaborators, which has helped my blog become profitable. I take out around 25-30% for taxes from my total revenue each month, and I currently don’t run ads, but other expenses, on average, are also around 25% of my total income for the month.

Understanding that rest can be just as important as consistency has helped me turn my blog into a a sustainable business as well. I take a break every December for the whole month to avoid burnout. Before I do that, I batch content and schedule posts ahead of time. I also take weekends off. On my rest days, I go out with my family and reset for the beginning of the week.

Do you run a successful blog and want to share your story? Email Lauryn Haas at lhaas@insider.com.

Read the original article on Business Insider
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