Sarah Mueller has accomplished something on the Early Bird Mom blog that most of us are still dreaming of – more than 100,000 visitors in a month! She shares so many tools & tips that I discover something new each time I read through this interview (full resource list at the end). She discusses:
- A Pinterest strategy that has landed her more than 16,000 followers
- The opt-in technique that grew her email list to over 5,000 subscribers (in only 6 months!)
- Favorite plugins & affiliate networks
- Insights into her blogging success while balancing life as a wife and mom to 4 boys
MR: Give us a picture of a typical weekday in your family.
Sarah: Mornings are a mad rush to get 4 boys out the door to 4 different schools. Luckily there are buses for 3 of them and I drop my 4 year old off at preschool by 9am.
Then it’s back home to work like mad for a few hours. I try to reserve this focused time for important work like writing and planning.
My preschooler comes home and we spend a nice lunch hour hopefully outside in the fresh air together before he heads off to quiet time and maybe a nap. I squeeze in another hour or 2 of work.
Then the big kids come home and we do homework, soccer practice, chores and make dinner. My boys are super active so there’s usually a game of ping pong or some acrobatics on the trampoline going on. Bedtime comes before I know it and I crash hopefully not too late so I can start all over the next day.
MR: What is your business all about?
Sarah: I love to encourage busy moms. I love to share practical advice and helpful tips. An organized and simple life is a happier one (at least for me), and I help moms with ideas on how they can realize this in their own lives.
Being a mom means you have to manage a million different things and it can get crazy at times. Sometimes you just need a little encouragement that you’re not the only one who feels this way.
MR: What did you do before starting your business?
Sarah: Before starting Early Bird Mom, I ran a busy online bookstore which imported children’s books from Germany. And we also homeschooled our kids for 9 years so that took up a huge chunk of my time.
MR: In what ways do you make money online?
Sarah: Up til now, I’ve made money mainly through affiliate marketing and advertising. However, I’ve just launched a course on essential oils for beginners, and I anticipate a great response for that.
Building Your Email List
MR: Where do most of your customers come from?
Sarah: Most of my customers are from the email list I’ve built as well as Pinterest. I love the connection I’m building with readers via email and Pinterest – I’m not really the kind of person who enjoys a crowd so email is the perfect medium for me because I feel like I’m talking directly to a friend.
MR: I just subscribed to your email list & immediately received a free download directly on your website. Could you share the tools that you use for this feature?
Sarah: The way I get this to work is a combination of either the Sumo Me pop-up or a simple Mailchimp opt-in form. Once readers enter their email, I just send them right to the download page. I love Mailchimp because it integrates so easily with several of the plugins I use. I spoke in more detail about how this process works in this post.
MR: Do you mind sharing how many people are on on your email list?
Sarah: Sure – I’m up to 5200, although I may actually delete about 1,000 of the subscribers soon because they aren’t engaged. No reason to keep them around (and pay for them) if they’re not reading.
MR: I’m guessing Pinterest works well for you because of your great graphics! I love how clear & simple they are (especially the ones on your sidebar). Do you make them yourself & if so, what tools do you like to use? Do you ever buy images & if so, from where?
Sarah: Thank you! Yes, Pinterest is my bff :) I recently got a professional redesign by Pixel Me Designs and she did a fabulous job on the graphics for my theme. I do make most of my other graphics, using PicMonkey although recently I’ve started using Photoshop since I can save my work and reuse templates. I buy my stock photos from Dollar Photo Club and try to take all of my own photos for food posts.
MR: What kinds of strategies have worked for you on Pinterest? Please share any tips you have on reaching more than 16,000 followers!
Sarah: Wow – there’s so much I could say there. I only pin things I really find compelling – I don’t usually pin a pin with a bad image because no one will see it with Pinterest’s new smart feed. I took the Pinning Perfect course in March and learned a ton. I also have learned a lot from Ruth Soukup’s methods in Elite Blog Academy. My VA pins about 20 pins through Ahalogy daily and I pin other pins organically through Ahalogy and directly on Pinterest.
MR: You mention you’ve make money through affiliates. Which specific networks could you recommend that have been worthwhile for you?
Sarah: I like Commission Junction, Amazon and some individual programs like Elite Blog Academy. It really depends on where you can include links organically in my posts. I’ve found it doesn’t work for me to just put up a banner – those are not converting at all.
MR: What’s is your best social media tip or tool?
Sarah: Don’t let it dominate your life.
MR: What other plugins that work well for you?
Sarah: Some of my other favorite plugins are:
- Adrotate (used after posts to offer affiliate products as well as other things I may want to highlight)
- SumoMe for list building
- Pretty Link Lite for keeping track of various links.
- I also love Dropbox and Ahalogy
MR: Which online “gurus” do you refer to when you need direction or inspiration?
Sarah: Ruth Soukup, Anna Luther, Melissa Culbertson, Pat Flynn, Derek Halpern, Sean D’Souza
MR: What would you say is your most valuable resource?
Sarah: Several private Facebook groups for connecting with other bloggers. I get tons of tips, advice and encouragement from some amazing people.
MR: In hindsight, what is one thing you would have done differently or one lesson that you learned?
Sarah: I think I would have trusted myself a bit more. I spent a lot of time trying out different strategies that weren’t really meaningful for me personally but that I thought would bring me pageviews or revenue. But it’s really hard for me to sustain that kind of activity over the long haul. Now I’m focusing on being helpful and encouraging to my readers and trusting that the business will grow. The results so far have been great and revenue hasn’t suffered either.
MR: What do you consider to be your biggest success so far?
Sarah: I wrote a very personal post about why we quit homeschooling and it went viral. Although there was plenty of criticism, I loved hearing from women who were encouraged by our story.
MR: What advice would you give you other moms who are just starting out in the online world?
Sarah: Learn all you can, don’t be afraid to invest in training, and follow your heart. And also, make sure that the things you are doing are bringing you results. If you’re spending a ton of time on something, make sure it’s worth the effort you put into it.
Connect With Sarah
Pretty Link Lite
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