This is an interview with Maria of ChicPursuit.
Hey, Maria. Tell us a bit about yourself and what you do.
Hi there! I’m Maria from Chic Pursuit, a fashion, beauty and lifestyle website that helps women with a champagne taste on a beer budget to find affordable items that look expensive.
I also teach other fashion and lifestyle bloggers how to start, grow and monetize their website – this is my third year being a full-time blogger, so I often get asked about blogging.
What made you pursue social media, online business and passive income?
I have always been quite entrepreneurial and aspired to work for myself. I think it comes from the fact that ever since I can remember, my parents have invested in property and managed a few buy-to-lets.
With that said, what originally made me pursue social media and online business is actually quite silly. I came across this clickbait article in 2015that claimed that Instagram influencers with 100,000 followers can earn more than $200,000 per year from doing sponsorships (spoiler alert – this is not really true!).
I was intrigued, and so I set out to see what this Instagram business was all about.
What was your first side hustle and how did it go?
My first side hustle was actually also my first job. I was 15 at the time and I had just come back from a 1 month summer study course in Tokyo, Japan.
In Japan, I discovered that they applied hair extensions very differently to us Westerners, and I wanted to bring over the method that they used to my home country Estonia.
I set up a salon in my house with my best friend, and the business went actually very well. We profited around $100-$150 per customer for a few hours of work. At that time, the average salary in Estonia was $900 / month.
Later that year, I moved to a different country and had to stop. My friend continued with the business and she still does it as a side hustle, 12 years later!
How did you grow your Instagram account to 50K followers?
I started focusing on growing my Instagram back in 2015 when the algorithm was much more generous.
Essentially, I focused my energy on finding the right hashtags, posting on Instagram every day and liking other people’s pictures for at least 30 minutes every day.
It was a lot of work, but eventually it paid off!
I also participated in a loop giveaway that took me from 48k to 58k overnight, but I wouldn’t recommend anyone to participate in those. Not only did I lose $500 (that was the price to participate), the loop giveaway also killed my engagement and organic growth.
Read also: 5 Tricks to Gain Instagram Followers Organically
What does it take to find brands to work with on Instagram?
More often than not, brands will actually find you! I use lots of different Influencer Marketing apps, and most of my gigs come directly through there. You can download a list of 100 different influencer & sponsorship apps here.
I think it’s hard to get started on Instagram, but once you’ve established yourself, collaborations and events usually happen via connections with PR or word of mouth. Like in any industry, your connections and image are important.
When and why did you start Chic Pursuit?
I started Chic Pursuit in January 2017. Before that, I already had an active Instagram account and I was attending blogger events in London every few weeks (there’s quite a lot of PR events in London!).
It had become pretty apparent that I was one of the only bloggers without a blog and so I decided to start my blog in order to fit in better with other influencers.
My blog topics have changed over the years – nowadays, I don’t stick strictly to fashion and beauty. I also write about recipes and other categories that fall under the “lifestyle” branch, such as blogging tips for other fashion and beauty bloggers.
With that said, the majority of my readers come to my blog to read about the best budget fashion and beauty deals.
How did you grow your blog traffic in the first year?
My first year of blogging didn’t actually go very well, so I’ll tell you more about the second year!
In my first year, I focused on driving traffic through Instagram and Facebook, which aren’t the best for organic traffic. During the whole year, I only got 37k page views to my blog. (In comparison, I now get 130k page views per month.)
In my second year, I focused more on Pinterest and Google SEO. I started writing a ton of articles that were meant to rank for certain keywords, and it worked!
The main difference that happened was that I stopped focusing on writing about myself, and started researching what people were actually looking to read about.
I also really doubled down on content creation and published as many SEO optimized blog posts as I could. For a couple of months, this meant that I published a new blog post every day.
How many page views do you get per month?
Nowadays, I get anywhere from 100,000-170,000 page views per month.
My main traffic sources are Pinterest (60%), and Google (40%).
Read also: Best Pinterest Courses for Bloggers to Explode Your Traffic and Income
When did you discover Pinterest as a way to bring traffic to a blog?
I discovered Pinterest as a traffic source in the early months of 2018. At first, I didn’t quite understand how bloggers were able to drive so much traffic to their website with it, but I was willing to learn.
I didn’t achieve success with Pinterest overnight – it only picked up after I signed up to Tailwind and started using Tailwind Tribes consistently.
How did you get to 10 million page views on Pinterest?
It’s been a combination of a few things: I do a lot of keyword research on the platform, I publish a lot of content to my blog, I take advantage of seasonal trends (such as Christmas, Valentine’s Day and Easter) and I share my content on Tailwind Tribes.
The main thing that I would tell new bloggers to do is to focus on keyword research and to just publish as much content as possible. The more content you have, the easier it is to promote and drive traffic to your blog.
What makes your Pinterest strategy unique?
Like I mentioned, I focus on a few different areas in my Pinterest strategy. I place a lot of attention on optimizing my keywords and boards on Pinterest, which is one of the main reasons why I’m able to drive a lot of traffic to my blog organically.
I also leverage Tailwind Tribes and seasonal content. Tribes was the main reason why my organic Pinterest strategy took off – it went from 50k page views to 90k page views in a few months just from using Tribes.
I talk more about my exact strategy with Tribes in Explosive Traffic With Tribes.
A few months ago, I also started to pay more attention to seasonal trends – this is how I managed to grow my traffic to 170k pageviews in December!
How did you make your first $100 blogging?
I made my first $100 “blogging” via two Instagram collaborations that paid $50 each.
I also made my first $100 blogging from a sponsored blog post.
What’s your current blog income and how do you monetize your blog(s)?
This month is a record month for me and I’m actually going to make more than $11k. This is mind-blowing to me, because in the beginning of 2019 my income averaged at $3,500 per month!
For the last few months, it has grown first to $6k in November, then $8k in December, and now to over $11k in January. Hopefully, it will keep growing! 🙂
I mainly monetize my blog through affiliate marketing and display ads. This year, I’m also going to bring out a few new products of my own to diversify my income.
How did you increase your affiliate marketing revenue?
Before the beginning of 2019, I didn’t have an email list or any funnels. I didn’t see the value in them and I was busy doing other things.
In January 2019 I decided to start building an email list, and it’s one of the main reasons that I’ve been able to scale my income so quickly.
Also, I made a conscious effort to cut back on promoting fast fashion. I now focus on promoting items that will be in stock for many years, because this way, I don’t constantly need to go back to old blog posts and update the links and images of items that I’m promoting.
This is a HUGE time saver and it has allowed me to create passive income that is actually passive.
Read also: How to Make $10,000/Month as a Fashion Blogger
How are blog sponsorships different than social media ones?
To be honest, nowadays most blog sponsorships expect you to also commit to social media posts.
With that said, the main difference for me and the brand is the longevity of the content. Blog posts (and Youtube videos) live much longer than Instagram posts, and you as a creator can earn passive income from blog posts for years to come.
Can bloggers make a living with Amazon Affiliates in any niche?
Yes, of course! With that said, Amazon Affiliates have a different fee structure for all of their niches. For example, bloggers promoting luxury beauty will get 10% in commission, while bloggers promoting video games only make 1%.
It’s good to look at the commission structure before deciding if Amazon Affiliates is going to work in your niche.
Personally, I make up to $2,000 on Amazon every month, and I’m sharing my exact strategies in How To Make A Living With Amazon Affiliates, which is available to pre-order now
What resources have helped you on your blogging journey?
There are so many bloggers that have helped and inspired me! I listen to blogging podcasts almost everyday and my current favorites are Online Marketing Made Easy with Amy Porterfield, The Simple Pin Media Podcast (all about Pinterest marketing), The Blogging Millionaire and the Email Marketing Show.
I also really enjoy Design Your Dream Life by Natalie Bacon – this is more about mindset than it is about business, but her tips and insight are amazing.
There are also many great bloggers who share a lot of valuable insight on their websites and Youtube channels.
For example, Create & Go have some amazing tips for bloggers in any niche, and the income reports from Michelle of Making Sense Of Cents are incredibly inspiring.
What’s next for you and Chic Pursuit?
My to-do list is full of blogging related ideas that I want to realize this year. For example, I want to create two courses and start offering private blog and Pinterest coaching. These are things that my audience has asked from me, so I’m happy to oblige.
I also want to get back to doing YouTube after I’ve finished creating the products. I really enjoy making YouTube videos, but at the moment, I just don’t have enough time for it.
In my personal life, I want to focus on doing more things outside of the office, such as traveling and meeting people in the blogging industry. I feel like 2019 was my “start-up phase”, and this year things are coming together more easily, so it’s okay to focus less on “hustling”.