Well, it’s another week and another awesome blogger to feature! This week, you get to hear from Jessica of Living Chic on the Cheap. Jessica is here to make sure you remain stylish, while keeping your budget under wraps as well. If it’s a deal on something beauty or fashion related, there’s a good chance you’ll see it on Jessica’s site. Take some time browsing her wonderful sidebar which is full of links to her own featured posts about recipes, crafts and more.
I was interested in featuring Jessica for a number of reasons. One of them being that she went through a re-brand including moving to a new URL and I wanted to hear more about that. Talk about a big business decision! Jessica went from being primarily a coupons/deal site to a more fashion/beauty oriented site with a budget focus. Well, it definitely worked out for her. She now sports a Facebook fan page of over 9,000 followers and has over 8,000 Twitter followers. That’s quite a social profile if you ask me!
So let’s hear from Jessica!
How did you choose your url? What does it mean to you?
I rebranded to Living Chic on the Cheap last year. I wanted a name that really reflected my site. Over the years my content became more focused in on fashion, beauty and home decor deals along with beauty reviews, recipes and DIY. My readers tend to gravitate towards name brands, but like me they do not want to pay retail. LCOTC shares really good deals on really nice things. I try to post offers that everyone can enjoy…from free eBooks to how to make fabric rings to a Coach handbag sale.
How long have you been blogging?
Since November 2009….so just over 4 years.
What is your main blog niche?
Who designed your blog?
New Seasons Design
How long did it take you to earn your first $100?
Wow…hmmm….that is hard to remember. I would say 6 months in.
What is the best piece of advice you have received about blogging?
Get a support team. You need BLOGGER friends who understand what you do and support you. One, two, three people or a very small group of trusted bloggers. Friends you can bounce things off of each other and to help each other out in a jam. Also, to give a pep talk on bad days. I would have not made it without my blogging buds.
What is one thing that you wish you knew about blogging before you started?
I wish I would have really thought out a business plan. Since my blog started out as a hobby and turned into a business, the thought never crossed my mind. Plus, I had just had baby #2… so it was a crazy time. Blogging as a “job” was still relatively new 4 years ago. I mean, when I started NO ONE had Facebook fan pages. Twitter was brand new and there was no Pinterest. Blogging was something I just felt my way through in the beginning. I made a lot of mistakes. There were not the resources for new bloggers there are now- no blogging Facebook groups or conferences (at least none that I knew of), so you had a small group of bloggers you bounced things off of but they were new too…so it was a bunch of trial and error.
You re-branded your site and started with a completely new URL. What was the main reason behind it and what was the biggest challenge in re-branding?
Rebranding has been both a blessing and a curse. My previous blog name was Jessica’s Coupons. 3 years in I no longer couponed, nor did my readers. I would post a coupon and you would hear crickets chirping. I would post a shoe deal and I got fireworks.
The technical part of the rebranding was difficult. I hired it out, but we still ran into issues. A few months in I had some Google search issues…the content aspect of rebranding has been great. I feel the new name reflects my site.
What is the most recent “aha” moment you have had about your blog?
I would say when I decided to do my own thing…stop trying to keep up with the big dogs and just ENJOY my site. I will never be a site that posts 30 deals a day. I do not need to post every deal. I have really narrowed down what I blog about- I have specialized. You will not come to LCOTC and find a toilet paper deal. (Not that there is anything wrong with a toilet paper deal…I love cheap TP as much as the next gal, but is not LCOTC content.) You will find really good deals on cute shoes or a mascara deal.
I post content that I like, that I think my readers will enjoy. I aim for quality content over quantity and I really try to make my blog a personal reflection of what I like.
What goals do you have for your blog?
I would like to grow. I don’t believe blogging is a zero sum game. There is a blog out there for everyone and a readership for every blog. I want to attract readers who dig what I dig. That connection makes it fun and fulfilling.
What concerns do you have, if any, about the future of your blog and its income?
Well, you never know what regulations or new taxation rules may come down the pike. Of course that is out of my control so I don’t waste my time worrying about it though in the back of my mind I know it is a possibility. Google will change it’s algorithm, social media changes are probably not going to be favorable for the blogger…but once again I can’t control it so I don’t waste my time worrying. I know blogging can end at any time and that would stink. My identity is not caught up in my blog. I would find something else to do and enjoy.
Do you do it all yourself or do you have a VA? How many hours does your VA work?
One woman show here Zack. I do have a friend, Megan, that does contribute about one guest post a month. She is really crafty. I always label which posts she writes. Also, I have to mention Brandon. He has been my IT guy for years and he is AWESOME.
How many hours per week do you work on your blog?
Do you try to keep set hours for yourself or do you just work until the work is done?
I do have a routine because my youngest only attends pre-school 2 days a week. I like to get blog “stuff” knocked out in the morning…I usually spend 2-3 hours. I write and schedule up my day. I pop back on once in the afternoon for about 30 minutes and then in the evening for an hour or so. (This of course does not count the time I spend on Pinterest- the black hole of time management.)
On my FREE days (those I do not have the kids), I try to knock out as many evergreen posts as I can.
What advice do you have for someone who wants to start a blog (any blog)?
First, you have to commit- you must be consistent. Deal blogging requires daily posts, so it does require a level of discipline. I suppose non-deal blogs are more flexible since most of their content is probably not time sensitive. The reader needs to know what they can expect to see from you. Consistent traffic is essential if you want to be successful.
Imitation may be the sincerest form of flattery, but it is not a good business plan. You may really like a blog and want to emulate it, but you need to create your OWN thing to truly be successful.
You will not be an overnight success, so do not quit your job to blog full time. Some bloggers are never able to achieve a full time income. Do it because it is something you enjoy and if it becomes financially successful then that is just extra awesomeness.
Get your LLC and a good attorney. It is a crazy world.
Get a good designer. Personally, I can’t stand an ugly blog. I won’t even give it a second look and this is unfortunate because the content may be great. (boo- shame on me for being so shallow, but hey I am being honest. I like aesthetics.) I have a feeling in our Pinterest-y world, blog design is going to be more and more important.
Learn the rules. Other bloggers, especially seasoned bloggers will expect you to play by the rules. There is blogging etiquette. You can’t take someone else’s photos or content without permission and you must give proper credit. Join blogger groups and attend conferences and network. Get a small group of really great blogging buds to be your support. And once you are a seasoned blogger remember to show a little grace to other bloggers. We all make mistakes from time to time and always accept a sincere apology and appreciate when someone tries to make right a wrong. I have found most “issues” are done unintentionally.
What is your #1 revenue source?
Affiliate deals. I have about 10 affiliates that consistently produce for me.
What is your #1 traffic source?
Pinterest replaced Facebook and Google for me sometime back.
Do you have another job, or is blogging your main source of income?
Nope, well I have a husband…he is my main income source.
How long did it take to start making an average of at least $1,000 per month from your blog?
At least a year in.
Thanks for the great answers Jessica!
Jessica is absolutely correct in that you will want a blogger support system. It’s hard to relate to blogging if you are not in that world, so you might be frustrated about your inability to talk about it with other people in your life. Being able to interact with other bloggers and bounce issues/ideas off of them is all but essential.
I really like the part about setting up a business plan. Jessica is like so many of us blogger out there – we started this as a hobby and did not even consider a business plan. Well, I will say that if you are just starting out and would like to eventually make some money from your blog, NOW is the time to get a business plan together.
Jessica re-iterates what I say a lot about having to be unique with her quote about imitation being a form of flattery. It’s nice to like a blog and want to do what they do, but you have to find a way to be different. If you’re not unique, then why would anyone regularly visit your blog?!
I love how far Jessica took the concept of listening to her readers. She mentions that they were more interested in shoe deals that coupons, so she reacted accordingly, eventually leading to an entire re-brand. If people seem to like one part of your blog and not another, you need to adapt to that.
Another intriguing thing about Jessica is the fact that she spends about 30 hours a week on her blog and doesn’t have an assistant. I am sure in the beginning, she was spending a lot more than 30 hours per week, but it’s really cool to see someone having a successful blog while spending less than 35-40 hours/week on it.
By far my favorite line from Jessica is “Blogging is not a zero sum game”, meaning there IS room for every blog out there, and that anyone can succeed. Just because there are “a million” successful blogs out there does not mean there isn’t room for one more!