How to Make Money Blogging as a Stay-at-Home-Mom
Caroline Vencil is a wife and mom to three boys who lives in Lancaster, PA. She is a huge inspiration in the blogging community as someone who has been able to earn an impressive full-time income from her blog while being a stay-at-home-homeschooling mom. I'm so honored that she's taken the time to share more with me today.
This post may contain affiliate links. Please see my disclosure policy for more information.
Tell me a little about yourself and background.
I’m Caroline and I blog at CarolineVencil.com (formerly CowCountryHousewife.com). My background is actually kind of my little secret: I was a teen mom. My husband and I got engaged in our first year of college and promptly had a baby (very unexpectedly).
I was in school for marketing and advertising and I was told a million times that I was throwing my life away by getting married so young and it was even worse when I got pregnant. So I actually wound up dropping out of school and putting all of my energy into learning how to be a wife and mom at 19.
So really, my longest-standing position in my adult life has been “mom.” But it also turned into “extreme cheapskate” when we realized that our financial situation wasn’t looking so great (my husband’s income was only $17,000 for our family of 3 at the time).
What inspired you to start finding side hustles that you can do from home?
My husband has always been our primary income provider and we have always been very confident in homeschooling our children, but we were struggling monetarily. I knew that we needed to do something to bring in extra money, but I couldn’t make up the money that we would need to pay for childcare if I were to get a job.
So I started searching around on Pinterest for ways to make some more money from home and I found Swagbucks. I genuinely enjoyed doing the “work” and finding ways to make the most from my time on the site. I was making $25/week and cashing them into Amazon gift cards, which I then used to start cloth diapering my sons (we’d always wanted to cloth diaper, but never had the money for the start up costs).
This was a turning point; if I can pay for all of the supplies that I needed for cloth diapers with Swagbucks, what else is out there?!
RELATED: Check out this post, 5 side hustles that pay for my groceries.
How long did it take you to make your first $1,000 from your blog?
I didn’t start to make real money until I started my blog in August 2015. That was the turning point in my life (I know it sounds cheesy, but it’s so true).
I had been blogging for about 8 months and I finally made $1,000 in a month. From the very beginning, I knew that I wanted to make a full-time income blogging. But making $1,000 blogging felt like a dream. I didn’t even start being an affiliate for anything by that point so that income was almost exclusively from ad revenue.
What are 3 specific tools that have helped you succeed in building up your income and personal brand?
If you want to make money, you have to invest money in your blog.
Elite Blog Academy – Hands down, if you want to make an income as a blogger, you need to take Elite Blog Academy. I was making $0.17 per month when I started EBA in February 2016, and by May 2016 I had my first $1,000 month. I couldn’t have done that by myself!
Making Sense of Affiliate Marketing – I’m the worst salesperson ever (I notoriously couldn’t even sell Girl Scout cookies when I was a kid)! But this course really helped break the mould of the “sleazy salesperson” and helped show me how to effectively use affiliates to be a huge part of my overall income each month.
Pinterest Strategy Cheat Sheet – This is the Pinterest strategy that I use. I spend maybe an hour each week on Pinterest but I still have more than 2 million people seeing my pins each month. This is the strategy made up by one of my all-time favorite bloggers and friends, Rosemarie Groner of the Busy Budgeter (another Elite Blog Academy alumni)!
What's been the hardest part of your journey to build up your blog and personal brand? What has been the most surprising?
The hardest part is starting out! There were months when I spent 40-60 hours each week making $0. I thought I was making it big when I would get $1/week as an Amazon affiliate.
The most surprising part is that being a “blogger” is only about 20% writing. The other 80% of your time and energy goes to marketing, designing graphics, making courses, selling your own products, social media and some learning.
It’s a lot of fun, but at first it was shocking; “you mean that there’s more to blogging than just writing?!” Yes, there’s a LOT more to it!
I have also learned how to work smarter not harder. And this year, I’m earning a full-time income working 20 hour weeks.
How do you stay motivated?
I am a very self-motivated person. I put standards and expectations on myself that are so much higher than anyone else could have ever put on me. It’s a little mean, but it really drives results.
As mentioned above, one of my biggest secrets is that I was a teen mom and college drop out. I was told from the second that I found out that I was pregnant with my son that I would never amount to anything; that I’d always be struggling and never be able to live well.
That negativity really fueled me. I was bent on proving everyone wrong. We got in control of our money and it was amazing the change that happened after that! We bought a house (something no one in my family had ever done). We decided to homeschool. We had 3 children and were very content in our frugality and in our lives.
When I started my blog, I was shooting for the stars. I knew from the start that I wanted to blog for profit. So I did! I’m here to prove everyone wrong; last month I made more than $8,000 from my blog alone. And I’m not planning on slowing down! I still want to write a note to everyone who said awful things about me and thank them for the motivation to keep going!
RELATED: Check out my February income report for more information.
Why do you still lead a frugal life even though you’re earning some good money from your side hustles?
Frugality is in my blood! I’m a cheapskate to my core. I don’t see it as a negative thing or as a punishment. I love getting good deals.
A lot of people look at a budget as kind of like “fun jail:” you can’t have any fun when you have a budget. That’s just not true! I have money each week that I can spend on whatever I want. Usually, it’s a milkshake with my sons on Thursday mornings before school. But sometimes it’s a trip to HomeGoods. Or a “shopping spree” on ThredUp.
Some people have hobbies that they get a rush from; my husband’s thing is his motorcycle. So while some people collect stamps or ride motorcycles, I save money. I build a retirement fund. I see how quickly I can save $100 in small change. I see how long I can keep a $20 in my wallet without spending it. (Wow, I sound like a weirdo!)
But I like to be productive with my time and energy. To me, saving money is planning for the future: whether it’s retirement or if it’s vacation. I don’t just live for the “right now,” I’m a planner. It’s a gift and a curse. :)
What book are you reading currently or what book have you read recently?
Right now, I’m reading The Magnolia Story by Chip and Joanna Gaines (love them!) and The Tipping Point by Malcolm Gladwell. Yes, I’m a nerd who loves Fixer Upper! :)
Any advice to the readers who are looking into ways to make more money?
If you want to make serious money, start a blog, help others, share your experience, have fun, and actually be your own boss! You can check out my blog post on how to start a blog here.
Thank you so much, Caroline for sharing your story! Please be sure to check out her blog CarolineVencil.com and on Instagram @cowcountryhousewife.
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- 5 debt payoff strategies
- 10 side hustles to boost your income
- How to create a budget you can actually stick to
- 21 ways we saved in 2016
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- How Sami paid off $15k in debt in less than a year
- How Alli saved $35k in two years
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