Hello! Who are you and how did you get started in blogging?
Hello. I’m Lidiya from Let’s Reach Success, a blog that was once about my personal development journey but which has now turned into a resource on anything related to business growth, finance, lifestyle, spirituality, and self-help.
What started as a hobby, turned into a 5-figure business (which I can’t call work as I love doing anything related to my blog). I even ditched freelance writing to become a full-time blogger. The income from my blog (even if it’s not much compared to what big bloggers are earning) allowed me to leave my home country (Bulgaria) and move to my ideal destination (the Netherlands).
What’s the backstory of your blog and how did you choose the niche?
More than 5 years ago when I was in university back in my home country, I was confused and definitely not satisfied with my life. However, I was passionate about self-development and life lessons and was seeking progress in different aspects.
I started Let’s Reach Success without knowing how to run a blog, what a self-hosted website was, how I could potentially monetize it, etc. I simply wanted to write about the things I was interested in and which engaged my mind at the time – finding purpose, being okay with failure, becoming more productive, dealing with the lack of understanding from others, etc.
I was reading mostly American blogs so I wanted to write in English too, although it was just my second language.
After some time, I defined what I didn’t like about my life and mindset then and that was the turning point. It showed me what I don’t want to have and be.
After blogging for a few months, I fell in love with it. I was still using the wordpress.com version but people started reading my blog and commenting. I also got familiar with WordPress, web design, SEO, etc. and learned a bit about writing blog content, promoting a blog, and self-publishing an eBook (which I did soon after just for fun and to see how it goes).
Learning all this was a great journey and I was definitely ready to see where it could take me. Then, one or maybe even two years later I moved my blog to wordpress.org (after a lot of research and overthinking), which also means I learned a bit more about the technical aspect of blogging.
I didn’t validate my blog idea in any way as it’s a passion project, not something started for money. Later, I also wanted something more. Thanks to the many other bloggers and lifestyle designers I followed online (even though they were in their 30s, mostly men, American, and had a 9 to 5 job before that and some savings), I believed I too could live a lifestyle by design.
More than 5 years later, I am indeed self-employed and location independent, a full-time blogger, and in contact with all these bloggers I admire (as well as many new ones I started following later).
Describe the process of launching your blog/site and getting it off the ground
I don’t suggest starting a wordpress.com site at all. Back in the days, however, it was the right choice for me.
Later though, when I switched to a self-hosted blog, I finally had control over my site and domain, but that also means more responsibility and stress. I had to read a lot about hosting providers, plugins and widgets, optimizing pages, domain authority, and everything else.
Was all this necessary? Not really, it’s just how I did it as I like to figure things out myself. Today, you can easily read one tutorial on how to start a blog, pay for hosting, set up WordPress with 1 click, and start publishing content. You can then get immediate traffic from Pinterest if you’re in the right niche and have validated your idea, and learn a thing or two about pinning. Then, you can monetize that traffic.
I did it the hard way, though, and don’t recommend that to anyone. During that process, I was also learning more about myself, which led to knowing exactly what I want to do for the rest of my life, to becoming more confident in my abilities, to taking final decisions, to making my first money online, to setting up an online business in Bulgaria and then moving it to the Netherlands and registering it as a real company.
I didn’t know how to get my first readers to Let’s Reach Success back in the days. They just came for the content.
Eventually, I did start optimizing posts for keywords and that began bringing organic traffic (not right away, of course, as SEO is the long game).
The interesting thing is that I first started making money freelancing, but it’s thanks to my blog that I believed I could write for clients too. I used the content on the blog as my portfolio. I started pitching clients on Upwork. Soon, I built the discipline of waking up early and hustling till I was earning a few hundred dollars a month.
Later, that turned into a thousand. I share the exact steps of the process in my free course How to Make Your First Money Online Freelancing.
My first blog income stream was sponsored content. I had no idea what it was until people started reaching out to me and offering me money to post their content. As I was already publishing guest posts, I also accepted some of these too.
Over the past 2 years, I’ve been making around $2,000-$3,000 from sponsored blog posts. I’m now more selective with the clients I choose, of course, and with the content I publish. Also, it’s an income stream I’m trying to get away from and replace it with affiliate marketing and selling my own products.
I kept my business costs low for as long as possible. It was only my hosting provider and the domain name for many years.
Later, though, I started investing in courses from other bloggers so I can learn from the experts. I recommend that to everyone.
In fact, I’ve now turned into the type of blogger teaching others how to start a blogging business and create free and paid courses on the topic. This step-by-step process is so important that anyone who’s achieved it should share exactly how with others so more people can reclaim their freedom.
I switched to a better hosting provider more than a year ago and consider that one of my best business expenses (I explain why here). That’s WPX Hosting and I will stay with them.
I also pay for Teachable, where I host my courses.
The expenses increased last and this year actually, but that just shows I’m taking my business more and more seriously. I purchased a course on Pinterest and then paid for Tailwind (Plus and Tribes) as I’m trying to bring more traffic from Pinterest to my blog.
How do you create revenue on your blog?
Here’s the blog income breakdown as shared in last month’s income report.
Most of my income comes from sponsorships. Some months I earn from course sales and affiliate marketing too. The ad revenue is currently growing as my traffic increased significantly since I focused more on Pinterest.
I’m using the ad network Mediavine and am so happy with them. I’m earning between $500 and $700 per month passively from ads but this will get to $1000 this month and the next.
I am an affiliate for my favorite products and just recently started using Shareasale to partner with certain merchants and include their links on relevant posts on my blog. I write reviews for the courses I’ve taken (as I’m an affiliate for them too) and I also link to products whenever relevant. These are mostly in the Blogging, Business and Finance niches. I’m not an affiliate of almost anything in the rest of the categories I cover.
My books are just on Amazon and there are sales every now and then, but I’m now a big fan of courses – taking them and creating them.
Teachable is definitely the best platform for that and the product I’m most proud of is Financial Freedom Through Blogging. It’s this huge online course that covers anything I know about blogging and how to not just start, grow and monetize a blog, but also get to 5-figures and use that income to live an enjoyable lifestyle.
What are the strategies you use to build and grow traffic to your blog?
I’ve published a ton of content over the past few years and it brings me around 60K page views a month. Of course, it took a long time to get to this amount of organic traffic.
I never utilized social media until now. I was able to grow my traffic and reach 80K monthly page views thanks to Pinterest marketing (creating pins with a good design, optimizing them, organizing my boards and joining group boards, scheduling them with Tailwind, joining Tribes, creating more than 1 pin for a post and new pins for old posts, etc.)
I grew my Pinterest account. A few pins went viral and my traffic went up. That immediately affected my ad revenue positively.
If you’re just starting out – and are in a niche that will do well on Pinterest – I suggest you learn all you can about the platform and start pinning. If done right, that will bring you traffic quickly and you’ll have enough visitors on your site to be able to take your next decisions (like what content performs best, how to monetize, what freebies to create, etc.)
At the same time, write long-form quality content and optimize it. Interlink your posts well and make them visually appealing (break longer paragraphs into short ones, use subheadings and beautiful images, embed videos and infographics, etc.)
SEO is the long game and bringing organic traffic from Google is a serious thing. Once you make Google love your site, you will increase your domain authority. That’s directly related to getting backlinks from other blogs in the niche and from being able to pitch potential brands to sponsor you.
How do you grow your email list?
Email marketing is something I still don’t do as professionally as I should. I’m using MailChimp – the free version. I don’t have a sales funnel or an email series that welcomes new visitors and introduces my work to them.
I simply send a weekly newsletter to my list with updates, interesting new content or offers.
The steps I’ve taken to get my first 1000 subscribers include creating freebies and placing opt-ins on many places on my site.
To reach the next level and create a big, engaged email list, I plan to use ConvertKit. It will be a big expense and will only increase the more subscribers I have, but it’s what seems to be the best email marketing solution out there allowing you to strategically create opt-in forms and landing pages and automate the whole process.
How do you write content that performs well and readers love?
Quality content is the foundation of your blog. I’m a writer and it’s what I love doing, so it made sense for me to create not just content based on popular topics in the niche, but also just share my journey, write lists on topics I found interesting, experiment with different formats, and more.
There’s always something to write about no matter what your niche is. With personal development and business, I can never run out of ideas.
I now know what content is popular thanks to searching in Google and Pinterest and reading similar blogs for so many years. I literally know the exact topics that can/should be covered and if I feel like, I can create a new post any time.
What’s a must for every blog is the cornerstone content. These are a few pieces on your blog that are longer, well-researched, better optimized than the rest and also which you spend more time promoting. These can be guides and tutorials – they need to solve a problem.
You can rank them well, get a ton of traffic and make money from each such page on your site.
That could be through affiliate links placed strategically throughout the content, mentioning your products, getting people on your email list or having ads (or a combination of all of these).
If you have a hard time getting to the writing part, here’s an article where I share the habits that help me write a lot daily.
What obstacles have you had to overcome to start and grow your blog?
What I hear everyone saying is they regret not starting earlier. Blogging was one of the best decisions I’ve ever taken. And while others didn’t succeed with their first blog, I’m grateful I stuck to my original idea for a blog, even though its direction has changed plenty of times.
Of course, it would have been nice if I switched to a self-hosted one earlier and monetized immediately.
I was also with the wrong hosting provider for many years – Bluehost – before deciding to get a slightly more expensive one but that meant real quality, a team I can rely on every day, and one specifically made for WordPress.
Another big challenge is giving up too early before seeing any results. Many new bloggers get tired of not seeing any traffic for weeks and any money for months and simply move onto something else. But a blog needs time to establish its presence in search engines, to gain initial traffic, to get attention.
You also need that time to find your voice, understand how things work, learn from other bloggers (and hopefully connect with them and help each other out). So give it time.
What lessons have you learned in the process of building your blog?
A great practice I developed is reading other people’s blogs. I not only read interesting stuff, but also notice their blog design, how often they post, what they offer to their subscribers, what products they have and how they sell them, what social media they are most active on, and so much more.
I then started noticing tendencies. Income reports (which I now publish on Let’s Reach Success too) have been especially helpful. They showed me it’s possible as any blogger started from nothing, then made their first money, then grew that income, created new income streams, etc.
Investing more in my blog has also always been a good decision so far. That includes:
I was afraid to invest in my blog for a long time. But it seems like each next well thought out decision is paying off in the long run.
What platform/tools do you use for your blog?
- CMS: WordPress
- Web Host: WPX Hosting
- Theme: from ThemeForest
- Email Marketing Software: MailChimp
- Courses: Teachable
Some good plugins I rely on:
For keyword research, I use Google Keyword Planner.
To get images for my blog, I head to Pixabay (free) and Shutterstock (paid).
I also love Canva as it allows me to create Pinterest-friendly images and different graphics and promo materials.
For social media, I use Tailwind to schedule pins.
What have been the most influential people, books, podcasts, courses, or other resources?
I’m reading mainly blogs now and not so much books. But a few years ago I relied on books to form a positive and strong mindset that allowed me to create an online business.
People like Tim Ferriss, Mark Manson, Pat Flynn from Smart Passive Income (and his podcast), among many others, helped me a lot.
The people I follow now, however, are different. I’m interested in the bloggers who started from nothing, began making their first money online, invested more in their knowledge, then grew their blog, quit their 9 to 5 and now live a great life.
These include Michelle from Making Sense of Cents, Natalie Bacon, Alex and Lauren from CreateandGo, Suzi from StartaMomBlog (who was able to retire her husband at 30 thanks to her blogging income), and more.
These are also the people I interview on Let’s Reach Success now.
In addition, I’ve shared ALL the books, blogs, podcasts, and tools that helped me before and which help me grow now (both personally and professionally) over at my Resource page.
Advice you can give other bloggers/entrepreneurs who are just starting out?
Thanks to blogging, I learned that if you do something long enough even as an amateur, people eventually start treating you like an expert and even paying you for that.
You don’t need any degree or previous experience to become a full-time blogger (or for most of the other online side hustles for that matter). All the information is out there and you can start taking the necessary steps today.
I see many aspiring bloggers wait too long or worry too much. Some get distracted by chasing quick money others get overwhelmed by all the information on blogging available and don’t know where to start.
I say find a few people to follow online and trust their advice. Then start your website and take a small step daily to grow it and learn more about the blogging business.
Where can we go to learn more?
If you have any questions or comments, drop a comment below!