How I got started Blogging & Social Media Content Creating from a 6-figure Blogger and Creator (+ What I Would do If I Had to Start Over in 2024)
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When I first started my blog back in the fall of 2016, I started it fully in the hopes of creating my own profitable business. There was nothing I wanted more than to be able to stay home with my babies and make money at the same time.
I had seen how other bloggers were honestly serving their audience and making money at the same time. And I wanted to do the same. So I launched my DIY and mommy blog into the world and turned it into a full time income!
Then in 2020, I hopped into the social media space to extend the blog’s reach and now I make 6 figures online as a blogger & social media content creator!
So… how did I get started?
This post has been a long time coming.
I get this question rolling into my DMs and as email replies ALL THE TIME, so now all the answers and details are all laid out here! Better late than never right?
So if you’ve been interested in knowing:
- How I got started
- If/what courses or trainings I took
- How long it took me to make real money (or any money 🤪)
- What strategies I implemented
- What I would do now if I were to start all over
You’ll find everything inside this blog post!
Anyway, let’s start from the beginning.
- I started Blogging in 2016
- How much money I put into it
- Setting up WordPress was the hardest part
- I launched with 4 blog posts, and focused on Pinterest
- I did it scared, and shared my blog on my personal pages
- Blogging Courses and Trainings
- How I Started Monetizing My Blog
- How Long did it take me to make real money blogging?
- In 2020 I got into Social Media (Instagram & Tiktok)
- 2021 – A Screeching Halt
- 2022 We bought a house, Brian became a SAHD and I jumped back on my business.
- 2023 Consistent work, and Consistent growth, 6-figure year
- What I would do now if I was started brand new in 2024
I started Blogging in 2016
I started my whole online journey blogging and was making a full-time income blogging even before I jumped into the social media space.
Way back in September of 2016 I launched my own DIY and mom blog, “Life on Waller” after seeing a blog income report from a regular mom that shared how she made a full time income blogging while at home with her kids.
My mind was blown because she was truly just a regular mom.
- Not some instagram model
- Not aworld traveler
- Not someone rich
- Not a stylish fashion or beauty guru.
- She didn’t have a big house
- Or even a particularly interesting life
She was just a regular mom sharing what she knew and making 6 figures doing it. All while at home with her kids.
And that’s when I thought, maybe if she could do it, so could I.
I spent HOURS scouring Google, Pinterest, and YouTube for answers to how to set up my blog. Picking a niche, choosing a name, getting hosting (I highly recommend Bluehost!), setting up my website, etc. I finally wrote a couple blog posts, and launched my DIY and Lifestyle blog, Life on Waller, to the internet.
How much money I put into it
These were the initial costs that it took for me to start my blog:
- Hosting – $67 (I purchased a year of hosting through Bluehost and was able to get an extra deal on top which took the total from $100 to $67!)
- Domain – $0 (your domain name is your URL. For example my domain is cassiescroggins.com. I was able to get my domain name for free by choosing Bluehost for hosting!)
- Theme – $50 (your theme is the aesthetics and layout of your site. Unless you know how to code, or you can pay a professional to design a custom site for you, you need a theme. I bought one I liked but then didn’t know how to use it so I ended up using the free theme someone used in a YouTube video because they were teaching you how to actually use it.)
- Font and graphics package – $30 (this was a package of fonts and design graphics I bought from Creative Market to help me design the logo for my site! I had no idea about Canva at the time and instead used Microsoft word to design it.)
I also already had a computer to blog on, and used my phone to take pictures and videos with.
Making my total startup costs: $147
That’s the great thing about making money blogging is that it’s so much cheaper to start an online business like this than it would be to start any other kind of brick and mortar business.
Really all you need is web hosting. Which can be relatively cheap (about $100 a year). And that’s all you NEED for blogging.
Which is nothing compared to in person businesses, but still as poor college students living off of student loans, even $100 was a lot of money for us. So this was a big gamble for me.
Setting up WordPress was the hardest part
Everywhere I looked recommended using Bluehost and Wordpress to set up my site so that’s what I did. But yall, I was absolutely not prepared for the learning curve that came with Wordpress.
I spent countless hours scouring the internet trying to just get my site set up and look even slightly aesthetically pleasing.
And after many tears, I finally found a 2+ hour long Youtube video (which is super out of date now) on how to set up a blog on Wordpress and it was the answer to my prayers.
I launched with 4 blog posts, and focused on Pinterest
I finally launched my blog with just 4 blog posts on it. I learned, to make any money blogging you needed traffic, and to get traffic, I needed content.
So I created 3 new blog posts a week for the first 8 weeks to build up content, then dropped it down to 2 a week.
For each of those posts I would make 2-4 Pinterest pins for each of those posts, and share them on my new Pinterest account.
I had also made a Facebook page, Instagram, and Twitter for my blog as well (really just securing the handle) and would sporadically push out posts to those platforms as well. However, Pinterest was my main focus.
I did a ton of research when it came to Pinterest, but the focus was still, pumping out content and pins to go with it.
I did it scared, and shared my blog on my personal pages
I had read another blogger talking about how, if you want to turn your blog into a successful money making business, you have to start treating it like one.
She used the example that if you had opened a brick and mortar store, you would be shouting from the rooftops to get friends, family, anyone into that thing! That was a big kick in the pants for me.
So I decided to treat my blog like a business, put myself out there, and share my blog on my personal social media pages and invite people to check it out.
It was super scary, I felt major imposter syndrome, but I think the one saving grace I had was we had just moved across the country from Utah to Kentucky so my husband could attend law school.
That meant every single person I knew in real life was literally hundreds of miles away, and that honestly really helped.
If people were talking crap, I wouldn’t know. I wasn’t going to run into someone at Walmart and have them say “hey I saw your blog!” leaving me wanting to go hide in a deep hole.
So I will say, being away did make a major difference and helped a lot for me.
Blogging Courses and Trainings
For the first 6 months of blogging, I learned literally everything I knew from searching Google, Pinterest, or YouTube.
I had no course, no guide, no training whatsoever.
I was figuring it out all on my own, and with so much info out there, one blogger saying to do this, another saying the opposite, a third saying a completely different way,
I found myself spending hours and hours of my limited time (during nap time and after bedtime) just trying to figure out what do next. Hours searching for answers to one question, that would lead me to more questions then more answers, etc.
In all my searching I kept seeing successful bloggers mentioning a course called Elite Blog Academy which was a complete blogging course to teach you everything you would need to know to be successful blogging.
And yall, it was EXPENSIVE!
I kept thinking, holy crap, there’s no way we could ever buy this.
But at the same time, I was also only blogging during my baby’s naptime and after he went to bed at night and many of those hours were spent spinning my wheels trying to figure out which blogging advice was actually going to be helpful.
So after lots of research, I signed up for the wait list.
And the thing about EBA is it only went on sale to the public ONCE A YEAR. So if you missed it, you’d have to wait an entire year to get it again, and every year the price was set to go up.
So if you missed it, not only would you have to wait an entire year for it to come around again, but you’d also be paying more to get in.
It was set to go on sale March of 2017 but that December of 2016 the waitlist got a special early bird special meaning you could get access to the course (you’d still have to wait til march for access but you would pay now) for the 2016 price.
In March it would be $250 more expensive than it’s already expensive price.
It was such a leap of faith for us, but after talking to my husband, he was so supportive and we decided to invest in me and my career. Just like we were investing in him doing law school.
So I purchased Elite Blog Academy that December and finally got access that following March.
EBA was literally a game changer for my business. I believe it is the reason I have a successful business today! But after EBA and throughout my journey I’ve also taken a few other courses that I love!
Other courses I took over the years:
- Stupid Simple SEO – Every blogger needs to take this course. I’m not joking. SEO is what you need to be focusing on to be successful as a blogger period. 10/10 would recommend!
- Genius blogger’s toolkit – this is a compilation of many courses, ebooks, templates, workbooks, etc. That the brand Ultimate bundles puts on and is updated every year. This is my #1 recommendation for new bloggers who don’t have a lot of money to invest in blogging courses and trainings because it’s only $100 and is jam packed with good stuff. I buy it every year because it’s just that good!
I’ve also taken a pinterest course, and instagram course that were great but aren’t relevant anymore as algorithm updates happened and time past.
How I Started Monetizing My Blog
When I first started researching how exactly to make money blogging, I learned there are 4 main ways:
- Display ads on your site
- Affiliate income
- Brand Sponsorships
- Selling your own products or services
The easiest one to pursue first was display ads on my site. At the time Google adsense was the beginner blogger’s go to ad network so that’s where I applied.
By the end of my first month of blogging I had already published 16 blog posts, and had generated 760 pageviews that month from Pinterest plus friends and family.
I wasn’t exactly sure how much traffic I needed to get into Google Adsense but I applied that first month anyway and was accepted on the 22nd of that month!
I earned my first few pennies that first month blogging (.46¢ to be exact) and that was all the proof I needed to realize, holy cow, I can actually do this blogging thing!
In December of 2016 (my 4th month blogging) I added an affiliate income stream by joining Amazon’s affiliate program, Amazon Associates.
I had a blog post all about how I balayage my own hair at home (I was a licensed cosmetologist at the time) and it was starting to gain some traffic. I already had products linked to Amazon on there so I simply swapped the normal links for Amazon Affiliate links and was able to make $1.75 in commissions that month in addition to $9 from ads.
My Own Products:
That January (5th month blogging), I had done a blog post on how to make boho fringe baby bibs. Since I had made about 5 different ones, and had enough supplies to make another 10, I decided to throw them up on an Etsy shop and add a link to the shop in my blog post so people had the option to make it themselves or just buy it.
I sold my first bib that same month!
Later I made digital art prints and offered a few free on the blog and the rest had links to buy from my Etsy shop.
This is when I learned how amazing selling digital products was because you make them once, sell them over and over, and never have to do any shipping or anything! Etsy delivers the item automatically when they purchase so you literally just make money in your sleep!
This was the income stream I knew the least about and honestly seemed to be the least liked way to make money as a blogger. It involved lots of pitching, contacting brands, and in general lots of work for not as much money especially when you’re a new blogger.
Because of this, I didn’t focus on brand deals at all as a new blogger, and didn’t even do a single one until I had already been blogging for 3 years.
My time was much better spent focusing on building my traffic which would automatically make me more money with ads, affiliates, and selling my own products.
How Long did it take me to make real money blogging?
For me blogging was a slow grow. It definitely isn’t a get rich quick thing by any means, however, many people grow much faster than I did. Here’s why I think it took me so much longer:
- Perfectionism – I spent way too much time worrying about things that don’t really matter. Things like my branding, logo, and colors. I spent so many hours on this and constantly switched things up my first few years which was really just a massive waste of time.
- Switching Niches – I started my blog as a DIY blog and I loved it but I also wanted to talk about more. I ended up switching to teaching people about blogging (complete with a full rebrand) after I was making a couple thousand a month, and then switched again to mommy lifestyle.
- Going back to the drawing board instead of pushing ahead – EBA was an amazing course but I found myself getting far into the course and then restarting again because of perfectionism and comparison. Instead of pushing forward imperfectly and then going back once systems were in place, I constantly went back to the beginning and started over for essentially no reason.
Some people would probably consider this a really long time to actually make money blogging. And again people definitely have done it faster, but for me, I started the blog when I was 20 and 3 years to make a full time income just seemed like doing the work going to college for 4 years and getting a job after, just without all the student loan debt. 🤣
I put in 3 years of work during nap times and after bedtime and at the end of 3 years I made an income while still at home with my baby.
In 2020 I got into Social Media (Instagram & Tiktok)
By 2020 I was already making a full time income blogging. I had an Instagram, but didn’t really post on there, but decided in August 2020 that I wanted to expand the blog’s reach and get into social media.
I hopped on social media right when TikTok was taking off and Instagram had just come out with reels. So with the marketing I had learned while doing my blog, I jumped right in with reels and was able to grow from 2,000 followers to 10,000 on Instagram in 4 months.
I posted more passive and less on Tiktok but was still able to grow to 5,000 by posting about half of what I was posting to Instagram in that same time.
I loved being able to connect with other moms on social media but I don’t think I realized just how much time it would take to do social media. Yes, I was growing that platform but it basically halted my blog content in the process.
2021 – A Screeching Halt
In 2020 we had moved back from Kentucky to Las Vegas and moved in with my in-laws just for a few months while we found a place to live. But then the pandemic happened and our few months turned into a year of living with my in laws.
It was strained at times, I think all adults need their own space but at the same time it was so nice to be with them especially since I had two kids by then. Brian wasn’t working yet and so between him and my in-laws I had more than just nap times and bedtime to work now.
But then Brian got a job right when I hopped on social media in August of 2020, then we had our third child that September, and we got our own place 30 minutes away in January of 2021.
It was the complete death of my business.
We went from my husband not working, having only 2 kids, and having all the extra help and entertainment of my in-laws, brother in laws, and sister in laws, to Brian gone to work 12 hours a day, now 3 kids at home, and zero help.
Nap times no longer lined up so I couldn’t work then, my oldest started half-day preschool, I had a breastfeeding new baby, and I was completely solo responsible for all the kids, groceries, and all the housework for 12 hours each day.
I was so exhausted when brian got home and was still getting up with kids at night so after the bedtime work time wasn’t an option either if I was going to keep my sanity.
I was at my max capacity and literally had no time for the blog or social media.
And because I had already taken basically all of 2020 off from my blog while focusing on social media, this would be my second year off from that and a complete break from social media as well, right when things were just starting to pick up.
I was devastated. My number 1 priority was being able to stay home with my kids but this was the one thing I did just for me.
It brought me so much purpose and fulfillment and made me enjoy motherhood even more because I didn’t feel like I had to sacrifice my interests and goals to be a mom. And now it was gone.
Luckily the way my blog was set up, it can basically run itself. So I was able to still bring in a full time income for our family while doing literally nothing for all of 2021.
Because my posts were still out there on Google and Pinterest, traffic would still come in which meant I still made money. But things were slowly dropping and I knew it was only a matter of time before my business would be completely gone. And the last 5 years would have been a waste.
2022 We bought a house, Brian became a SAHD and I jumped back on my business.
We had our 4th and final son, and bought our first house in November of 2021, and moved in January of 2022.
We had been saving for our house and still had a good chunk saved after we bought it so we decided since my blog could still sustain us for the time being, Brian quit his horrible 12 hour a day job and became a stay home dad full time so I could get my business up and running again before it died completely.
I jumped back on working in Feburary of 2022 and I’m not going to lie I was so jealous and resentful. I saw other bloggers and creators who were growing at the same time I was, now with a community of over 300k on Tiktok and Instagram and blogs getting half a million in views every month while I was right where they left me with 10K on IG, 5K on TikTok and my blog dropping down to 80k pageviews a month.
We were 1000% on the same trajectory when I took my break (so many people were growing so fast during that time, including me!) and now I see how massive they’ve grown and how that would have been me too.
As frustrated, resentful, and jealous as I felt for having put my career on the backburner for my husband to get a job he hated, there was nothing I could do about it now. And he was now wanting to stay home before our oldest got into Kindergarten so I had the opportunity to focus on my business full time.
Everything was going amazing after that. I was growing, the blog was growing again my social was growing again and then bam! We decided we wanted to move internationally.
At the same time, I had decided I wanted to get my degree at some point and was only one year from my associates so I started classes in July to get that done before we moved.
I thought I would be able to do both work and school at the same time but I was 100% wrong. I ended up only having time for my school and again that put my business on a screeching halt.
In the end we couldn’t get a job or visas overseas anywhere so it was all for nothing. I guess not all for nothing because now I have my associates degree but still, I didn’t need to do that NOW if we weren’t moving away.
Lots of living and learning these past few years. Dumb decisions and great ones too.
2023 Consistent work, and Consistent growth, 6-figure year
Brain started working again in 2023 since my oldest started Kindergarten and he didn’t want a massive gap in his resume.
But we also knew at this point I loved my work, and with 4 kids either one of us was going to have to give up their work, or we needed help.
We ended up finding this amazing Childcare/Co-working space called Skyluna Space where I would go 3 days a week for a few hours with my 3 youngest boys. The building is split down the middle by a big one way window with one side of the building was where they would have the kids lessons and play, and on the other side was a co-working space where I would work and could watch them the whole time.
It was amazing! I could work for a bit while my kids felt like we were going to an indoor play place! But they would actually learn and socialize too while I could see exactly what they were doing and how the teachers were treating them.
No now I go 3 days a week for a few hours with them, they learn and play, I work , and then I am a full stay at home mom the other 4 days a week.
With consistent work in 2023, I was able to grow from 20k to 106k followers and 30k on TikTok in one year and built up the blog again too. Which resulted in having my first 6 figure year in 2023!
Better late than never, lol.
What I would do now if I was started brand new in 2024
Blogging/creating has been such a wild ride. I’ve made so many mistakes and have stunted my growth on more than one occasion but in the birds eye view of it all, it’s been all on the up and up!
My main goal when I started this whole thing was just to have something I could do just for me, without sacrificing my ability to be home with my kids. And I’ve been able to do that, which is the greatest gift of all.
But if tomorrow my blog was gone and all my social accounts were deleted, and I had to start from scratch again, here’s what I’d do to grow a successful blog and social media in 2024.
For Blogging: Pinterest, SEO, My Core Offer
If I was starting a blog from scratch in 2024 I would get my site up as fast as possible and start making content. I’d focus on SEO and Pinterest and publishing blog posts.
Keep in mind, the days of 2010s blogs blogging about your life is over, it just doesn’t work. That’s what social media is now.
Blogs in 2024 are niche sites. People are only going to blogs for answers to their questions. They only get there when clicking through a Pinterest pin or by clicking through a Google search. So your blog has to help answer those questions your audience has.
That can still be things like:
- What hairstyle should I wear to the gym? – Post a hair tutorial
- What’s an easy dinner recipe my kids will actually eat? – Post a casserole recipe
- How can I entertain my toddler more so I have time to fold the laundry? – Post a DIY sensory bin activity
When blogging, you have to make it all about your reader. You may be the one giving them solutions, but it’s all about them!
That is the content that works in 2024. And that is the content Pinterest and Google will push traffic to.
Start cranking out good content that is helpful to your readers, and invest in a good SEO and PInterest course.
Finally I would also develop my core over service or product asap. This is really how you’ll build a massive business.
For example, let’s say your core mission on your blog is to help people train their dogs. You’ll post content and tips for that but your core offer may be selling a digital course on how to train their dogs. Or it may be offering your training services 1:1.
There are all kinds of core offers you could have like a course, an ebook, templates, coaching, etc. And this is how you really help your audience get the answers, results, and transformation they are looking for.
Get that offer out asap!
For Social Media:
If I had to grow my Instagram or TikTok from scratch again in 2024 I would first:
- Identify my target audience.
- Write a bio that tells exactly who I serve and how I serve them so people can easily identify why they should follow and if I’m right for them.
- Start publishing 3-7 reels/TikToks a week focused on showing a problem my audience has and how I solve that. I’d do a mix of b-roll, trends, and talking to camera.
- Show up on my stories 3x a week
- Incorporate static posts and carousels on instagram as well.
In the past funny videos, dancing videos, and things like that were huge! We were in a pandemic looking for entertainment, hope, and connection so it makes total sense!
But in 2024 if you’re looking to grow a large platform and actually make money with that platform, you’ve got to tap into your audiences felt need and help fill that.
Now it doesn’t have to be overly complicated. That felt need may just be helping moms who feel alone, feel seen, validated and not alone. Helping to solve your audience’s problems doesn’t have to look like: “Here’s 10 tips to feel less lonely as a mom”.
Instead, your content may take the form of:
- funny relatable mom videos to show you struggle in the same way
- vulnerable posts about your struggles
- posts with tips and tricks of how you cope, what helps you, etc.
In the end you may lead them to your offer of a digital self care journal, or affiliate links for book recommendations, etc.
Get creative but always ask yourself:
- What value am I bringing to someone?
- What problem or felt need am I helping?
- Why would someone want to watch this?
- Why would someone want to follow me?
I would also recommend taking a deep dive into some of your favorite creators and asking yourself why you follow them, what about them or their content drew you to them, why do you keep coming back for more?
Understand your purpose on the platform, solve problems, build connection, and make it about them. How can you inspire, encourage, entertain, or educate someone? What’s in it for them?
I got started blogging and content creating by getting scrappy, Googling everything on my own and then investing in good training to expedite my success. Things change so rapidly with the online world that you have to be ready to shift and adapt.
It was a slow grow for me but I loved every second. Having something I could do just for me without sacrificing being home with my kids is everything I’ve ever wanted and I truly feel that my entire family is now thriving.
If you’re wanting to start blogging or content creating or both, my best advice is to just start, do it imperfectly, and just keep going.
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