This is an interview with Caroline Simmons from Swaddles n’ Bottles.
Hey, Caroline. Tell us a bit about yourself and what you do.
Hi! I’m the owner of Swaddles n’ Bottles, a pregnancy and parenting blog catered towards new and first-time moms. I am a wife and mother to two little girls, Emmy and Nora, ages 2 and 1.
When did you start your blog and why?
I started my blog when my first daughter was just 3 months old. I had just been through an incredible journey with my first pregnancy but I had also experienced all the concerns and worry that came with labor, delivery, and bringing home a new baby.
I started my blog to share my experience with other mothers. I chose that niche because I was a part of that niche and I knew how many needs there were for information.
How has Swaddles n’ Bottles grown since then?
Swaddles n’ Bottles has grown to an average of 500k pageviews per month. In the 2.5 years since launching, we have reached over 10.2 million mothers!
How long did it take you to make your first money blogging?
Thanks to Amazon Affiliates and Google AdSense, I was able to make money my first month blogging, although it was a very small amount, it was so motivating!
I knew if I could make a couple dollars, I could make a couple hundred, and a couple thousand. I knew I just had to keep growing the site and my audience.
Read also: How to Make Money Blogging: The Ultimate Guide for Beginners
How much are you currently earning from your blog and in what ways?
I currently earn about 10-12k per month.
Which income stream do you enjoy the most and why?
I enjoy creating my own products the most! This is a very recent venture that started a couple months into 2019.
I love being able to get creative and share my printables knowing others will be using them in their events.
How did you get started with affiliate marketing?
I started with Amazon affiliates. It’s a great way to start considering Amazon has just about every product available and the name is trusted by so many people.
I expanded beyond Amazon shortly after starting my blog. I became an affiliate for many online courses that help mothers through various areas of motherhood.
I also expanded to other popular affiliate programs like Awin, CJ Affiliates, LikeToKnowIt, Share-a-Sale, Etc.
Do you rely on your email list the most when recommending affiliate products?
Yes! As I mentioned, I am an affiliate for many courses that relate to pregnancy, breastfeeding, fitness after baby, and parenting.
I send these courses and my review of them to my email subscribers. I also monetize my email list my sending details on my own products to my readers.
What aspects of the blogging business did you find most challenging at first?
I had never built a website and WordPress was basically a foreign language.
I had to do a lot of research in those early days and watch a lot of how-to videos on YouTube to complete even the simplest of tasks on the back end of my site. I just had to stick with it and take it one day at a time.
I honestly really enjoyed learning all the new skills and technical aspects that went into building a website.
When did you first realize the potential Pinterest has for bloggers?
Within just a week or so after launching my blog and utilizing Pinterest. I was pinning my content and it was driving traffic to my brand-new blog.
Of course, it was minimal traffic. But I knew if it was creating momentum after just a week or so, it could be so much more than that with increased effort and continuing to educate myself on the platform.
Read also: How I Earned $4,800 from My Blog Last Month (+ My New Pinterest Strategy)
How did you grow your Pinterest to 6 million page views?
I think there’s a lot that goes into having a large reach on Pinterest.
First of all, creating high-quality content that solves problems for your readers and making sure the pin accurately describes the post is a great way to ensure the content is being re-pinned and reaching a ton of people.
Group boards are another great way to maximize your reach. Also, doing keyword research is crucial to ensuring your content is going to be found through Pinterest searches.
Read also: How I Increased My Pinterest Traffic by 778% in 2 Months
Do you rely on organic traffic from Google too?
Of course! While that is still something I am working to master, I do see a good amount of traffic through Google Search.
What’s your content creation strategy like?
I am constantly brainstorming and keep a running list of post topics. I try to write each week, but that can vary based on how crazy life is that week.
When I sit down to write, I always aim to complete the entire post in one sitting. But I usually wait a day or two to publish, just to give myself more time to think of additional ways I could add value to the post.
I take time to do keyword research and ensure the post is optimized for search engines. Once the post is complete, I move into promotion mode. I have a set strategy on how I distribute content and where it goes to when it is brand new.
Do you think that a blog + Pinterest + affiliate marketing can work for anyone?
In terms of affiliate marketing, YES! Any niche can find affiliate marketing opportunities. There are affiliate programs out there for just about everything!
In terms of Pinterest being for every niche, I’m a little more skeptical.
Pinterest is a woman’s world, (81% of users are female!). Topics that interest them will do well on the platform. However, a blog about building cars might not do as well since it is a lower area of interest for a majority of woman.
What were the turning points to hitting the $10K/month milestone?
The turning point came after consistently adding high-quality content to the site and focusing on what would help my readers the most.
With monetizing through ads, obviously, pageviews were a big contributor.
I had to really figure out how to use Pinterest in a way that would drive the maximum amount of pageviews.
Are there any particular blogging courses, resources and mentors that have helped you along the way?
I really loved Hashtag Jeff’s course for Search Engine Optimization. I also recently took a course from Monica at Redefining Mom to help with promoting Pins on Pinterest.
Promoted pins were so foreign to me but it was something I really wanted to do considering the recent changes with Pinterest and the move towards really favoring these types of pins.
What are the tools you can’t run your blogging business without?
Oh man, there are so many!
Tailwind is obviously a big one. Staying active on Pinterest and constantly sharing my content is key to driving traffic and building a following. But I would never be able to pin 35 times per day while taking care of kids and home.
I also LOVE Canva! It is the #1 tool I use to create all my graphics for the blog.
How do you find time to blog while raising your kids?
When I first launched my blog, my daughter was only 12 weeks old. I had plenty of time to be a “nap-time blogger”.
I would also wake up before she did each day and stay up long after she went to be in order to work.
Once she got a little older and our second baby came along, I needed to reach out for help. I now have 12 hours of childcare per week in order to work, but squeeze in a few extra hours each day by working at night and during nap times.
It definitely isn’t easy but I think having such a small amount of time keeps me motivated to make the most of every minute I have.
Read also: How Suzi Started a Blog as a Stay at Home Mom and Retired Her Husband
Do you have a specific morning ritual?
My morning starts with my kiddos. I love to spend quality time with them while getting them ready and enjoying breakfast with them.
Once I start my work day, I begin with planning out the day and setting specific goal-related tasks. Taking 5-10 minutes to really plan out what I need to achieve that day makes me so much more productive.
What’s your advice to stay-at-home moms who want to make money online?
Being a “mompreneur” is one of the most unique roles out there.
Unlike your typical entrepreneur who has their blinders on and is laser focused on building their business, we have a full-time job of raising babies and maintaining a household. That in itself consumes most of our time.
So, when you make a decision to launch an online business, you are taking on a one of a kind challenge.
Your path to success will be so different than others. You have to be patient with yourself and the process.
Make small effort each and every day that take you closer to your goals and you will look back in the weeks and months to come and see how everything is adding up!
Read also: How to Start a Mommy Blog and Make Money
What’s next for you and Swaddles n’ Bottles?
We’ve recently launched our second blog, Little Learning Club. We finally hit 100k pageviews last month and our mailing list grew by 1,000 subscribers!
I am continuing to add activities to that site and adding new products to our printable shop.
As for Swaddles n’ Bottles, we are really working on growing the pregnancy category to price more information for expectant mothers.
We have also teamed up with an event planner to begin providing custom baby shower invitations, party décor and other printables. We are aiming to have that launched by July.