Have you ever thought that blogging for profit means you'll have to just slog away for years, work countless thousands of hours with no pay, and finally, finally, your work may pay off? I know I've been guilty of that mindset before! Jesenia Montanez is here to prove that you can do so much more than just slog along for years. In less than 6 months' time, Jesenia grew her new blog to 100,000 pageviews per month, and she's monetized it as well.
At the time of the interview and just 10 months into blogging at TheLatinaHomemaker.com, Jesenia is making a full-time income from her blog.
Press play on the Podcast Player below to hear her excellent advice and strategies for blog growth and monetization. Whether you have a product to sell, a service-based business, or a stand-alone blog, there are tips here that can help you to increase your traffic and income and help you to diversify your revenue streams.
On the Podcast
01:16 – The Path to Full-Time Blogger Income
03:49 – 3 Strategies for Fast Growth
04:53 – Harnessing Pinterest for Pageviews
06:14 – Jesenia's Pinterest Strategy Explained
08:16 – Hot Times for Pinning
09:30 – 3 Ways to Re-pin
13:02 – Why You Need a Blog Board
13:59 – How to Become a VA
18:11 – Jesenia's Blogging Income Breakdown
19:51 – 6 Ways to Rock Sponsored Posts
22:16 – How to Balance Blogging and a Baby
24:27 – 2 Tools for Success
25:57 – 3 Resources for Growing Your Blog
28:18 – Encouragement for Beginning Bloggers
30:50 – Jesenia's Adorable Mom Moment
The Path to Full-Time Blogger Income
Jesenia started her first blog around 2006, but it was very short-lived. In 2012, she started another blog that was more of a personal journal. At that point, blogging was a hobby that she did sporadically.
Surprisingly, Jesenia was able to monetize that small hobby blog in a unique way. She added a “Hire Me” button to the site. She was able to build a VA business through that blog.
Finally, in 2014, Jesenia decided to start a blog with full focus on monetizing it. TheLatinaHomemaker.com was born.
Jesenia set a goal to reach 100,000 monthly pageviews by the end of her blog's first year, but instead, she hit that number by her 5th month!
While she says that you can definitely monetize a blog with much lower numbers than this. For herself, she simply set this goal, wrote it down, stayed motivated every day, and made it happen in record time.
3 Strategies for Fast Growth
So how did Jesenia grow The Latina Homemaker so quickly? She shares 3 key strategies:
- Evergreen Content – Jesenia focused on writing great content with every post, and writing content that would be popular year-round. Her content will remain helpful and popular for many years without becoming out-dated.
- Write for Your Audience – Jesenia knew she wanted to attract busy moms to her website. This was her target audience. With that in mind, every post she writes is catered to this audience. Whether it's easy recipes, budgeting, or working from home, Jesenia targets and attracts busy moms to her site.
- Pinterest – As a new blog, Jesenia knew she wouldn't get the search engine or organic traffic that established blogs get, so instead, she tapped into the power of Pinterest.
Harnessing Pinterest for Pageviews
As we've heard from several other bloggers, the bulk of Jesenia's Pinterest traffic comes from Group Boards. Her own follower number isn't huge, with just 6,000 or so at the time of our interview, but that's not stopping her from getting tremendous traffic numbers from Pinterest.
Jesenia began searching for group boards early on. She looks for boards that are most relevant to her content, not just the ones that are the biggest in terms of content or followers. Tapping into the followers of these group boards – followers who clearly had an interest in the topics Jesenia was writing about, really helped her traffic.
Here's one of Jesenia's posts that has gone viral on Pinterest. The first photo has had over 16,500 re-pins so far!
Jesenia's Pinterest Strategy Explained
Jesenia doesn't use Viral Tag or any other pin scheduler. How does she use Pinterest to get so many pageviews?
Jesenia pins live throughout the day. She schedules a few minutes each morning, mid-day/afternoon, and evening to pin.
She uses secret group boards to organize her content by day of the week. So, for example, every Monday Jesenia pins a selection of her posts to the group boards she parts of. On Tuesday, she pins from her Tuesday secret board.
This allows her to consistently spread out her content to various group boards without fear of repeating that same content too soon.
Hot Times for Pinning
Despite Pinterest's new Smart Feed, Jesenia still notices a correlation between the time she pins and when she gets the most clickthroughs and re-pins on her content.
For her, the best tims to pin are between 8-9 PM Eastern, and again at midnight. She believes this is the difference between busy times for East Coasters versus West Coasters on Pinterest.
Finally, Jesenia notices traction really early in the morning, and she believes that people may be more likely to see that content in their feed first.
(At the very least, we think it's fair to say that early in the morning, your pins may be competing with less other pins for slots in that coveted Pinterest Feed… the same way Facebook's algorithm has been known to work.)
Jesenia strongly encourages others to check out their Pinterest Analytics or Google Analytics for the best data on what times their pins gain traction. It could be different depending on your particular following. For example, she has a blogging friend who gets more site traffic from overseas, so pinning at 2 AM is a great fit for her.
3 Ways to Repin
- Create a Secret Board of your content and re-pin from there. (Yes, it will still show up!)
- Use ViralTag to schedule out your re-pins from your secret board or from your blog board.
- Use Google Analytics to re-pin from your most popular pins.
(Secret tip – re-pinning from a pin that's become really popular or has gone viral gives that pin more clout in the feed. It doesn't matter if it's been pinned to a board that's not yours, piggy-backing on that specific pin's popularity will help you!)
Why You Need a Blog Board
Every serious pinner should have a “Best of” their blog or website board. This is where you can showcase your most popular, evergreen content. This board should be your very first board on Pinterest.
Jesenia says you should promote yourself first, then share any seasonal boards, then finally, the boards with content that's most relevant to your own site. You're trying to attract people that are interested in that content, so
(We've followed Jesenia's advice to the “t” on this one, with our Brilliant Business Moms Podcast Board, a Valentine's Day Board, then several boards on blogging, business advice, and marketing. Thanks, Jesenia!)
How to Become a VA
Jesenia says that VA work can be acquired largely by word of mouth. Once you do a great job for someone, they'll refer you to the next person and the next one. Your VA business can grow really quickly once you get your first client under your belt.
For a long time, Jesenia didn't realize that the work she was doing was considered VA work. She often thought of a VA as a virtual secretary, but there are so many things a VA can do: translating, web design, you name it! If you have a specialized skill, there's a good chance you can turn that into a free-lance or VA gig.
Jesenia has made a full-time income from her VA jobs in the past. She's currently phasing that out because her own blog has grown, and she enjoys freelance writing and blogging more than her VA work.
Jesenia's Blogging Income Breakdown
We were curious to hear how Jesenia makes money from her blog. She shared this info with us:
In her 5th month of TheLatinaHomemaker.com, Jesenia hit $1,000 of income from the site.
- 75% of that income was from sponsored posts
- 20% from ad revenue
- 5% affiliate income
In November, her income is larger, and the breakdown looks like this:
- 50% ad revenue. This number continues to grow as her traffic increases
- 48% sponsored post income
- 2% affiliate income
She's also done some freelance writing gigs, but that's not considered part of her blogging income.
6 Ways to Rock Sponsored Posts
- Apply with Blog Networks: Pollinate Media, Mom it Forward, and Social Fabric are a few examples.
- Once you're accepted for your first opportunity, do an amazing job! Take awesome photos, follow all the instructions, and wow your sponsor!
- Once you have a few examples of sponsored posts, you can reach out to brands on your own.
- Cushion all sponsored posts with non-sponsored content so your blog isn't overwhelmed with sponsored posts.
- Make your sponsored content just as good as your evergreen content. (Jesenia has had a sponsored post go viral before!)
- Tell a story with your sponsored post. Make it personal, and show how you use the product in every day life. Keep your blog readership in mind.
How to Balance Blogging and a Baby
Jesenia's little girl is just over 1 year old. How does she balance the rapid growth of her blog with her little one (plus her 2 other kids at home!)
- She wakes up early before the rest of the household. This is the only time when there are no interruptions.
- She homeschools her kids, so once they're up, she's juggling those responsibilities with chores around the house.
- Jesenia picks back up with blogging in the evening once her husband is home. He'll often take care of the baby and the kids so she can have more uninterrupted work time.
- Sometimes, she gets out of the house and goes to a coffee shop to work for 4-5 hours. She can get so much done during that time.
We love Jesenia's perspective on her blog: “Blogging is something I enjoy doing, but at the end of the day I'm a mom first… I don't want them to ever feel like my blog comes before them.”
2 Tools for Success
- Picmonkey – Jesenia uses this affordable program to create great images with text for Pinterest, and to edit all of her photos. (We love too!)
- Plan your Posts – Jesenia is old school and writes everything down. She swears by having a plan for the month. Know what you're going to write about, what's in season, and start planning out those posts, projects, and recipes early. Don't just wake up and wonder what you're going to write about that day. Have a plan and write it down.
3 Resources for Growing Your Blog
- Ruth Soukup's book: How to Blog for Profit without Selling your Soul – Jesenia read this book one chapter at a time, focused, and implemented what she learned before moving on to the next step.
- Kelli and Crystal's Learn to Blog Hangouts – they have a Facebook group and VIP forum too.
- AmyLynnAndrews.com – Jesenia started her blog by learning from Amy's posts.
Encouragement for Beginning Bloggers
“Take your time; don't overwhelm yourself.” Jesenia remembers a time when her husband gently told her that maybe she should take a step back from blogging. She was spending too much time on it – to the detriment of herself and her family. So she did slow down a bit.
Jesenia also recommends that you get creative when it comes to monetizing your website. If you have a product, sell it. If you have an Etsy shop, promote it. The process of turning a site into an income is different for everyone. “For some it happens quicker than others, but that doesn't mean it won't happen for you.”
Jesenia's Adorable Mom Moment
Jesenia's 1 year-old goes crazy dancing to a Microsoft commercial with a Korean pop group on it. Jesenia says, “I'm an Apple girl – you need to stop!”
Keep in Touch with Jesenia!
Jesenia was also so kind to mention that you can feel free to ask her anything! She's an open book and always willing to help.