Are you a new blogger? Do you feel like it’s too late to start a blog and still be successful? It’s not! I’m talking to Brooke Harris of Happy Simple Mom today and she’s going to tell us how she grew her decluttering blog into a successful business in a very short time.
Spoiler alert – it’s all about collaboration instead of competition.
Happy Simple Mom is a blog about decluttering and living a simple life. On the surface, it might seem impossible to make money with this topic but that’s just not true and Brooke is going to tell us how she did it. She is proof that you don’t have to be teaching people how to make money online in order to be successful nor do you have to sell a $1,000 product to make money. She has grown her business this past year mostly with a $17 decluttering product.
In this episode, Brooke is going to share with us how she got started blogging. As I mentioned, she is relatively new to blogging- she didn't start her blog till 2018. So if you think you're late to the game, trust me, you're not alone. I know Brooke felt that way too. But she has grown her blog into a successful business. She’s sharing about the importance of collaboration and how much better it is to partner with your “competitors” to lift each other up, share with each other, and cheer each other on. At the end of the day, every one of you will grow faster working together than you would alone.
Brooke is sharing some really specific ways that she has collaborated with other bloggers and how it has benefited all of them. She's also sharing her Pinterest strategy, as well as her Facebook page strategy. (Honestly, I was so surprised by the Facebook page strategy because I kind of thought the days of getting traffic from a Facebook page were dead!) Brooke and her friends are doing amazing with their Facebook pages and you're going to be blown away by her traffic numbers!
Press play on the podcast player below to hear the full episode.
The Early Days of Happy Simple Mom
Brooke started her blog in May 2018, following a big blogging course. She knew she wanted to write about decluttering but she wasn’t sure exactly what her focus would be. She had a couple Pinterest pins take off, giving her traffic and a little ad income. For the first year, it was all about Pinterest and slow organic growth with Google.
After the first year, Brooke was able to see that the decluttering-specific content was resonating the most with her audience so she leaned into that. She says, “People were really resonating with the decluttering stuff so I stepped away a little bit from the organizing things you can do after your home's decluttered, and really just focused on decluttering. And how to declutter. And you think you would run out of content, right? But I haven’t! My husband is mesmerized that I can still write fresh content about this. But it just really resonates with people.”
Developing Her First Products
Brooke’s first product, which she made after her blog had been live for a year, was an ebook which she sold for $7 as a tripwire offer to new subscribers. She made a few sales but nothing big.
“It did well, you know, a couple of sales here, a couple of sales there. Nothing crazy. And I did that for a good year. I experimented with different prices but usually in the $7 to $9 range was where I had the most success. But I've had crickets when selling to my list, which was really frustrating. Before I started your course I started off with, I want to say it was like 5,000 to 8000 email subscribers that I've built up in about two and a half years. And every time I would try to sell to them, it was so slow and discouraging. And I hated it. I hated selling.”
After the ebook, Brooke created a course but it wasn’t successful.
“So I sold eight. But it was so awful that I had no life left in me after that. It was really bad. I was working so hard but I'm not making any progress. I mean, I'm making enough to pay the bills for the blog. But that’s about where I was.”
At this point, Brooke’s income is still mostly from pageviews and the associated ad revenue.
Using Pinterest to Drive Traffic to Her Blog
Whenever people ask Brooke what her Pinterest strategy is, she tells them that she doesn’t really have one other than to be consistent.
“As far as breaking into Pinterest, I still tell people when they ask me for Pinterest advice, there's no strategy. It feels like all the gurus have all the answers and I've tried to piece together the pieces from all of them but I think when it comes to social media in general, I always say it's like feeding the monster. As long as you feed it, it's happy.
“Feeding the monster is about being consistent and giving it content. I have some strategies that I've taken from other teachers that I've taken courses from, but the algorithm changes constantly and you can't count on it. And so my biggest success is just being consistent, putting new pins out there, writing new content on a regular basis, and then sometimes it's just luck and good timing.”
Brooke uses Tailwind to batch her pinning work. She takes a few hours in one sitting to create and schedule pins for the month, then switches to other tasks while Tailwind keeps her posting on Pinterest steady and consistent in the background.
“It goes back to my initial strategy of being consistent. I’m feeding the monster and making sure there's stuff getting out there.”
Fresh Content Keeps the Traffic Coming In
As a blogger, especially a new blogger who is still growing an audience and developing products, writing new blog posts is key. Brooke is starting to transition to the next level now but for the first two and a half years, her goal was to write a new post every week.
“My plan was to try to consistently send a newsletter every week, publish a new blog post every week, and then try to do as many pins as I could in a week. That was pretty much my maintenance goal- pins, blog posts, newsletter.”
Brooke’s weekly newsletter also helps her come up with new ideas for blog posts when her readers respond and ask questions.
“And when a reader says I'm struggling with this, then I'm like, oh, I can write about that. That's a whole new blog post. So I haven't run out of content yet!”
I love this continual content stream that Brooke has. She has an audience that was talking back to her and telling her what they needed to hear. She was building that traffic with Pinterest and she had an email freebie opt-in for people to grab so now she has that email list. And even if they weren't purchasing so much, they were at least writing back to her and giving her ideas for future content.
Switching Her Focus from Pinterest to Facebook and Building a Collective
Up until 2020, Brooke’s main focus for traffic was Pinterest but she realized that she could also drive traffic from Facebook and decided to switch her focus to growing her Facebook page.
Brooke and another blogging friend saw a group of bloggers in the same niche that were super successful and decided to try to work together. They wrote guests posts for the other bloggers and also reached out directly to ask them for help and insight on how to grow. One of the ladies took the time to talk about Facebook and shared what she knew about how to grow there.
This was incredibly helpful.
Brooke and her friend decided to work together and started a collective Facebook page.
“We actually built this collective where we share each other's posts. It’s a single collaborative page where we're all members of it and we're sharing each other's posts and encouraging growth and just putting stuff out there. Even though we are direct competitors in the blogging world, the internet is big enough for all of us and we’re all growing by working together. I grew from 500 in December of 2019 to, I think, I'm currently at 66,500 followers. So it's amazing how well collaborating with each other works.
“Again, we are using that ‘feeding the monster’ philosophy. We create new content for Facebook every day in the form of quotes and memes and things to put out there that people can relate to as far as simple living minimalism, decluttering organizing, and Facebook is helping us then in attracting those people. I'm putting out new content nearly daily, similar to the mentality of putting out a pin a day to attract people to us. And then we share each other's memes and quotes and are always looking for little things that drive people back to our page.
“Ever since we've done that, the traffic from Facebook, it's like stupid good compared to what we were getting from Pinterest. Pinterest was good. Pinterest paid the blogging bills, but Facebook is next level. And we recognize the algorithm will change and it could be gone tomorrow. So in the meantime we’re building up our following as quickly as possible while it's in our favor.”
Like Brooke said, things can always change. But there are certain principles that work well no matter what – being consistent, putting out content on a regular basis, and having fresh content. Adding collaboration to that is huge. The strategies might change how we collaborate but like the principle of partnering together and working to build each other up is worthwhile.
“If you do it alone, you'll get there probably one day, but if you have other people helping you, oh my gosh, it's so much faster!”
Community, not competition, is working so well for Brooke and her fellow bloggers in the group. She’s proven there's room for each of them to grow and be successful.
Something I have seen over time is that people often want multiple products to help them with the same thing. We all have something to offer. We all have our own voice, our own style and I think those voices and styles resonate with people differently. Bringing multiple perspectives to a problem will help more people.
Brooke has learned from this experience that you're never too small to contribute. “My friend and I promised each other that if and when wemake it, which I feel like we're making it now, that we will remember to come back and boost people. The blogger who helped us initially got some flack from other really big names in the industry that were telling her she was going to hurt her own engagement by sharing our new unproven content. Luckily for us she believed that karma was on her side and helping us wouldn’t hurt her. She didn’t have to help us but she did and she completely changed things for us.
“When you make it big, help people. That's my message.”
Searching for Growth Beyond Pageviews and Ad Revenue
Pinterest brings Brooke about 1,000 to 2,000 pageviews a day, fairly consistently. Facebook traffic is a lot more of a rollercoaster. A few good days of Facebook traffic are great but it’s tough feeling like she’s stuck on the content-generating hamster wheel. She also doesn’t want to have all of her eggs in the ad revenue basket which is why she spent time developing products and learning Facebook Ads last year.
Come back next week to hear about Brooke’s experience with using Facebook ads to grow her business beyond Pinterest and page views.