When did you start publishing, and what inspired you to create your site(s)?
I started Shaping Up To Be A Mom back in 2008, when I was nine months pregnant with my first baby. The site was supposed to be a way to stay motivated and share my efforts to lose the baby weight, but it eventually morphed into a family/lifestyle site where I help busy moms make life easier and happier. It was a fun, creative outlet that I eventually learned could be an actual business and bring a significant side income.
In 2018, our family of six decided to do something out of the ordinary and travel full-time. It was a total success and people always seemed interested when we told them about it, so in early 2020 I started my second site, Family Gap Year Guide, to share our travel adventures and teach other families how to travel full-time. Along with that site, I launched a course on Teachable with the same name, Family Gap Year Guide, to teach step-by-step how families can do what we do.
What has been the biggest surprise about being an independent publisher?
When I first started blogging, I had no idea there was a whole community. I was just posting life updates and what were basically journal entries for about two years before I started connecting with other bloggers. We grew together as we experienced all of the shifts and changes in the industry as the years went by and learned how to turn this fun hobby into a real business that brought in a meaningful income.
What do you love most about being an independent publisher?
You can’t beat the flexibility — working for yourself, setting your own hours, working on projects that excite you. Blogging checks all the boxes for me because I get to use my “right brain” when crafting content and my “left brain” when planning my business strategy. When I’m working on my site, I get into complete “flow” where time flies by and I don’t even notice it because I’m in the zone and loving what I do.
What is your favorite part of interacting with your audience?
I just love getting emails from readers who are grateful for information I provided or a free download I sent their way. I’m putting content out there for other people and it’s validating to know that it’s actually useful and having a positive impact on someone’s life. And if they ever suggest content ideas to me, that’s gold. I want to give them what they want!
How does advertising impact your business?
Running ads on my site means that I can earn passive income. When I’m asleep at night, someone on the other side of the world could be visiting my site, making me money. While it’s a lot of work to start a website, create content, and maintain a business (the not-so-passive part!), that effort pays off continually, even on days or weeks when I’m not actively publishing content.
In return, my readers get to have my content for free! They don’t have to go buy a travel guide on what to do in Seattle — they can read my post on unique things to do in Seattle with kids! They can learn absolutely everything they need to know about how to homeschool on the road with my Ultimate Guide to Roadschooling.
Writing sponsored content used to be the main way I earned income from my site, but that takes a lot of time and effort. By running ads through AdThrive, I literally don’t have to do a thing except drive traffic to my site. Plus, I can continue to earn through other revenue streams like sponsored content, affiliate links, and digital products.
What else should we know about your sites?
Come visit them and support an online content creator! My most popular content on Shaping Up To Be A Mom are my at-home workouts, and on Family Gap Year Guide it’s how to budget for a family gap year!