This week I am featuring a blogger who is a big reason I am where I am today. Rachel from Mashup Mom was kinda like a blogger mentor to me when I first got started. As a 20-something (back then) guy in a blogging world full of coupons, moms and grocery shopping tips, I didn’t exactly fit in. Rachel was my go-to Q&A blogger, whether she liked it or not. I was only half as clueless as I should have been, thanks to her.
Today, Rachel runs one of the most successful coupon/deal blogs in the biz. She has a stronghold on the very large Chicago market of deal-seekers and she’s sharing some great stuff with us here today.
How did you choose your url? What does it mean to you?
I have always liked the term “Mashup,” which means taking two (or more!) different things and smushing them together to make something new. So, Mashup Mom works on multiple levels – I’m a Mashup Mom because I’m combining work at home strategies with saving strategies with my life as a mom to create something new. Mashup Mom shows readers how to “mash up” multiple savings strategies for the best deals, whether in the store or online. And, of course, “mashup” sounds similar to “matchup,” and I do a lot of those, too!
(Zack here: for those non deal bloggers, a matchup is a blog post where the blogger takes a grocery store weekly ad and matches up the deals with current coupons.)
How long have you been blogging?
My 5 year anniversary is 1/28/14!
What is your main blog niche?
Coupons and deals.
Who designed your blog?
Pixel Me Designs.
How long did it take you to earn your first $100?
I honestly have no idea at this point, but probably at least six months.
What is the best piece of advice you have received about blogging?
Treat it like a business. A lot of us started doing this on the side, casually – but if you want to build your blog into a business, you need to start acting like it’s your business.
What is one thing that you wish you knew about blogging before you started?
That there was a whole community of support and wealth of knowledge out there that I never knew existed.
What is the most recent “aha” moment you have had about your blog? Or… What is one change you made recently to your blog that you are happy with?
I redesigned a few months ago, and after some tweaking I’m very happy with how it looks – it’s better organized and cleaner.
What is something that you used to do on your blog that you don’t anymore? Why did you stop? This could be a link-up, or a weekly feature, or a social network, etc.
I’ve tried many things over the years – I had forums for a while, for instance, but no one used them, and I found my readers preferred to interact in comments. It’s all about what works for your audience and your readers, and it doesn’t hurt to try – you can always take something down if you find it doesn’t work.
I also used to have more obtrusive ads at the top, and took them down – again, it all comes back to readers, and I realized that the extra $ wasn’t worth the annoyance. If something would bother you as a reader, chances are it’s also bothering your visitors.
What goals do you have for your blog?
I’d like to add more evergreen content – deals are great and always fun to find, but I have a lot of less ephemeral content percolating in my head that I’d like to have time to share. I’d also like to expand my spinoff food and book blogs and see them grow this year, and will be working on food photography and more.
(Zack here – Rachel’s other sites are: Sunday Scratchups, 99CentCookbooks, 99CentMysteries and 99CentRomances.)
What concerns do you have, if any, about the future of your blog and its income?
Deal blogging is a very competitive niche – there are a lot of people doing it, so a lot of competition and pressure to develop your own voice and unique content. And, who knows what the future holds for this niche as the economy improves? It’s a field in which you constantly have to be evolving and improving.
Do you do it all yourself or do you have a VA? How many hours does your VA work?
I have two VAs. Each does a flat number of posts a week, rather than working hourly.
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?
The work is never done. 😉 In this niche, and as a mom, it’s hard to work set hours – kids’ schedules differ, things ebb and flow seasonally. During the school year I tend to work much of the time the kids are in school, then set aside time after school to be with the kids until getting back online full tilt later in the evening, but it all depends.
What advice do you have for someone who wants to start a blog (any blog)?
Don’t expect to make money at it for quite a while. Find a niche, and develop a unique voice – why should people read you? Don’t post things just to make money, but think about what is right for your readers and a good fit for your site – otherwise it’ll come back and bite you in the long run.
What is your #1 revenue source?
Pretty well tied: Adsense, Advertising.com, Amazon, and Coupons.com.
What is your #1 traffic source?
Organic search pretty much tied with direct visitors.
Do you have another job, or is blogging your main source of income?
Blogging is my main source of income, although my husband also has a job. 🙂
How long did it take to start making an average of at least $1,000 per month from your blog?
Probably at least 18 months?
Another awesome set of answers!
One of my favorite parts is Rachel’s candidness about experimenting with more aggressive ad placement and how she decided that it was more beneficial in the long-run to remove some of them. Not everyone can recognize the need to forego the $100 dangling in front of their face for a better chance at the $1,000 that lies in the future.
I also really like her tip to treat your blog like a business. I completely agree. If you take a casual approach, you’ll get casual results. Take a serious approach and your results will follow suit. If you genuinely want to make money from your blog, it’s not all sunshine and roses – you’ve got to bust your butt.
I also like her bit about evergreen content. You may remember Josie’s feature mentioning that as a key part of her business going forward as well. These are some smart ladies who recognize that creating timeless content is very, very beneficial to their businesses.
If you couldn’t already tell, looking at the hours per week that Rachel works, you can see that deal blogging is not exactly passive income. Rachel is a testament to the fact that blogging can last. She’s been making a nice income from it for over 3 years. Even though it took her around 18 months to make $1,000/month (which is typical), the work and patience paid off for sure!
Once again, a big thank you to Rachel. If you’re interested in taking a look at what a successful blog looks like, or if you want to save yourself a bunch of money, head over to Mashup Mom today!