What’s it like to go from a blog with zero traffic to millions of page views a month? Beckie Farrant knows.
I recently had the pleasure of interviewing Beckie Farrant of Infarrantly Creative. Beckie started blogging in 2007 and in July of 2009 her blog averaged 40,000 monthly views. Today she averages 2.5 million monthly views and runs a profitable business.
We’re excited to bring you the first installment of a new series called #BloggersAtWork. We’ll be interviewing amazing bloggers and distilling their wisdom for your own personal knowledge and enjoyment :) Without further ado, I bring you the story and wisdom of Beckie Farrant — one of our master #BloggersAtWork.
An Expensive Hobby — Beckie’s Backstory
For two years, Beckie Farrant’s craft and DIY blog was a fun side project. “A really expensive and time consuming side project,” according to her husband Tim.
With plans to have a second child (i.e. the most expensive and demanding of all side projects), Beckie would need to find a way to cover her expenses and justify her blogging hobby to her husband.
Make a Decision — You’ve Got Nothing to Lose
“I learned that courage was not the absence of fear, but the triumph over it. The brave man is not he who does not feel afraid, but he who conquers that fear.” – Nelson Mandela
Beckie spent six months in decision limbo, plagued by doubt and fear, before deciding to turn her blog into a business. If Beckie was still pondering today… well, I suppose I wouldn’t be writing about her :)
When wrestling with a massive and potentially life changing decision, it’s crucial to avoid the trap of analysis paralysis. According to Beckie, “I felt fear and uncertainty, but I couldn’t think about it for forever; I’d already spent six months! I knew I’d regret not trying. If I failed, I could always go back to blogging as a hobby. So there was really nothing to lose. Once I realized this, I jumped in.”
Next time you encounter a big decision, try thinking about what you’ve got to lose. Decide to go for it or decide to pass — the worst thing you can do is waste your time spinning in circles of indecision and inaction.
There Is No Try – Go All In
After making her decision, Beckie made blogging her full time job — working 40 to 60 hours per week. The lesson is simple: don’t waiver, don’t dabble and don’t give half efforts. As they say in poker, “go all in.”
Beckie maximized her chance to succeed by fully committing to her decision. Even if she had failed, she would have peace of mind from knowing she gave it her best effort and would have learned a lot from the process.
Transform Yourself from Hobbyist to Professional
After making the cognitive shift from hobbyist to professional blogger, Beckie changed her thought process and behavior. Beckie didn’t just work more hours, she worked with increased purpose and strategic thinking.
Here are the strategies that Beckie implemented to run her blog business professionally:
- Post consistently — Create a publishing schedule and stick to it. Don’t disappoint your readers by missing deadlines.
- Know thy data — Monitor website analytics, comments, and social network shares. Track everything to make data driven decisions.
- Build relationships — Those who give, often receive. Be kind and foster friendships with brands, other bloggers and readers.
- Look for the “hidden value” — Working with brands and doing guest posts isn’t just about monetary gain — it’s also about the “hidden value.” Hidden value can be exposure to someone else’s audience (e.g. which grows your audience), a fun project that pushes your skill (e.g. self improvement) or friendships formed.
- Mutually beneficial professional relationships — When working with brands, ask to be fairly compensated for your time and effort. Same in reverse — if a brand is compensating you, make sure they benefit.
- Go above and beyond — Go the extra mile to delight your audience and the people you work with.
Wired to Compare — Keep a Stats Book
It’s tempting to compare your blog to others in your niche. Do they have more views? Subscribers? Twitter Followers? Who are their sponsors? DO NOT DO THIS.
In the first chapter of Predictably Irrational, Dan Ariely discusses the concept of relativity and how people are wired by nature to make comparisons. Ariely writes, “relativity helps us make decisions in life but it can also make us downright miserable… jealousy and envy spring from comparing our lot in life with that of others.” We agree.
Our biological predisposition to compare things can be a curse or a blessing. For a blessing, stop comparing yourself to others. Instead, try Beckie’s method of comparing yourself … to yourself.
It’s not uncommon for top professionals, in a variety of industries, to track their progress in order to compete against themselves and improve. Best selling authors track writing consistency, elite racers track race times, weight lifters track workout routines and strength gains; such examples are abundant. So how do you improve as a blogger?
For bloggers, Beckie recommends keeping a “stats book.” She updates her stats book weekly and compares her performance regularly. She says her stats book, “helps me stay focused on only comparing myself against myself. I want to see my forward progress… that’s the small thing I do to avoid the ugly green monster of envy.”
What should you track to improve your blog? Every stats book is different, but this list should get you started:
- Website views (e.g. cumulative monthly and unique monthly views)
- Social media presence (e.g. Facebook, Twitter, Pinterest, Google+, etc.)
- Most viewed posts
- Most shared posts
- Posting schedule. Are you being consistent?!
Listen To Your Market — Multiple Blogs For Multiple Niches
During the tail end of the Great Recession, Beckie began experimenting with DIY knockoff tutorials. With several years of craft blogging experience under her belt, she would browse highly priced home decor magazines and say to herself, “hey, I can make that and that… and that!”
Beckie would select an item from a magazine and work backwards — deconstructing the item until she figured out how it was made. Then she would publish a knockoff tutorial post teaching her readers how to make the piece.
Monitoring her website and analytics closely, Beckie noticed that her knockoff blog posts were getting more page views, social network shares and comments than her other blog posts. In January 2011, Beckie leveraged her audience to launch Knockoff Décor — a site that showcases knockoff projects.
Knockoff project submissions streamed in from bloggers across the nation, and Beckie found herself with the new responsibility and position of curator. Knockoff Decor’s traffic surpassed Infarrantly Creative’s in three months!
Beckie would go on to launch a third blog called Roadkill Rescue which showcases projects where people creatively take trash and turn it into treasure.
Today Beckie’s three blogs bring in over 2.5 million monthly page views.
By monitoring her audience, Beckie was able to strategically identify niche markets where she could create new blogs and grow her audience. Take a cue from Beckie: monitor your stats, listen to your readers, listen to the market.
Beckie’s 100-to-1 Rule
As a blogger with a large audience, how much money should you expect to make? In online publishing, money can be a mysterious topic. Lucky for us, Beckie created a “rule of thumb” to estimate ad revenue based on audience size.
If your ad networks are setup and optimized, Beckie says that “for every 10,000 page views per month, you should make $100. If you have 100,000 page views you should be making $1,000 a month with your ad networks alone.” It’s a pretty simple formula:
Monthly Page Views / 100 = Approximate Ad $$
Factoring in Beckie’s 2.5 million page views, she’s a very successful entrepreneur :)
When should you start using ad networks? Great question. Beckie advises, “when you’re above 50,000 page views a month, really, ad networks should be part of your strategy. Honestly, if you’re ever thinking of trying to make money from your blog, you should have ad networks up because you don’t want to shock your readers with a design change.”
I’m not advocating ad networks as your only monetization strategy. Some bloggers are very successful without ads; it’s a matter of preference. You can also earn blog income from brand sponsorships, creating and selling products or books, doing paid posts or a plethora of other ways. Get creative with your revenue streams.
*note* Please don’t confuse Beckie’s rule of thumb with the 100-to-1 rule effaced by the Fair Sentencing Act of 2010 — doing so would be “cracked” (pun intended).
Not Enough Time in the Day: How to Do it All
Beckie is busy. Crazy busy. To give you an idea of how busy she is, here’s a list of her responsibilities:
- Be an awesome mom and wife
- Blog full time at Infarrantly Creative
- Write guest blog posts
- Curate submissions to Knock off Décor and Roadkill Rescue
- Manage ad network; Beckie uses Google DFP
- Manage social media; regularly post to Facebook, Twitter, Pinterest, Google+and Instagram
- Work with brands (e.g. Better Homes and Gardens, La-Z-Boy, JoAnn Fabric and Craft Stores, etc.)
- Speak at conferences
- Do interviews (e.g. like the one this post is based on)
- Consult with blogger clients to help them grow their audience and business
- and many other tasks required of a business owner
With that many responsibilities… I would need time travel. What is Beckie’s secret? TaskRabbit? How does she do it all?!
Answer: She doesn’t. She hires help!
Beckie hired several smart people to take over her curator duties at Knock Off Decor and Roadkill Rescue. She also hired contributors to post on Infarrantly Creative which alleviates the need for Beckie to post so often. There are other examples, but you get the gist.
Next time you’re feeling overwhelmed, take a step back and breathe. Remember, nobody can do it all. Hire help if you can afford it. Otherwise, ask your friends and family for assistance.
Wrap Up — What’s Next?
Thanks for reading! Stay tuned for part two, where I’ll dive into Beckie’s strategies for growing your audience, working with brands, building relationships and why she jokingly recommended that LA-Z-Boy should fire Brooke Shields.
Since this past Friday was Valentine’s day and the Endless Love remake made it’s theater debut — the original film starred Brooke Shields — I must conclude with the 1982 Academy Award winning song… Endless Love by Lionel Richie and Diana Ross. I shed a few tears every time I listen to this gem ;) Happy belated Valentines Day Rafflecopter readers!
Are you interested in reading more posts like this? Would you like us to continue a #BloggersAtWork interview series? Leave a comment below and tell us what you think!
P.S. Extra karma points for the readers who list thought leaders (whom you want us to interview) in the comments!