Ruth Soukup is a best-selling author, course creator, and seven-figure entrepreneur. She started her blog Living Well, Spending Less in 2010 because her spending habits were out of control and causing tension in her marriage.
Read on to see how this mom took her hobby and created a thriving blogging business that employs a team of nine employees.
Tell us a little bit about yourself and your blogging journey.
My name is Ruth Soukup, and I write a blog called LivingWellSpendingLess.com, which follows my adventure of finding the Good Life on a budget. I started blogging in 2010 because my husband and I were fighting a lot about money, and I needed to find a way to hold myself accountable. Almost immediately, I discovered two things:
1. I absolutely LOVED blogging—it was the perfect pastime for me.
2. People were doing it professionally as a full-time job.
I resolved to learn everything I could about becoming a professional blogger and told my husband that my goal was to make enough money blogging so that he could quit his job. Of course, he thought I was completely crazy, but in 2013, three years after starting my blog, he was able to quit his job and become a stay-at-home dad. We’ve never looked back!
Give us an example of how you first monetized your blog.
Like many bloggers, I started with Google AdSense. I was on Blogger at the time, so AdSense was already integrated—it was super easy! Ad Networks are still a major revenue source for my blog, but I now use many different networks besides just AdSense.
What types of marketing strategies have worked best for you?
I feel like my traffic and marketing efforts have really come in waves, and I have learned to mostly just ride the waves as long as I can and always keep an eye out for the next wave to jump onto.
My first big traffic surge came from Google. When I first started blogging, I learned everything I could about SEO, and that research paid off big time. Facebook was big for a while, and then it dropped off, and then it picked up again. Pinterest has been huge in the last few years. Now I am finding that writing books and creating products is a great way to grow your reach.
How do you minimize income peaks and valleys?
I have a strict policy of never putting all my eggs in one basket. The more diverse my income, the more it seems to stabilize. Whereas I started with just ad network revenue, I now try to spread my income among affiliate revenue, product sales, and working directly with brands.
What was your big turning point?
Honestly, I think I’ve had lots of turning points
The first happened about six months after I started blogging when one of my posts that had been really well optimized for SEO happened to coincide with a new, popular reality show called Extreme Couponing. Suddenly everyone wanted to search for how to use coupons, and I had written a series on that very topic.
My next turning point was having a blog post go viral for the first time and realizing the power of viral traffic. Discovering how to maximize Pinterest traffic was also pretty huge, and there was a brief period where my Facebook page went crazy and grew from 30,000 to 300,000 likes in just 3 months.
Each one of those “turning points” helped bring my blog to a new level.
What advice do you have for other women who want to start their own blog?
Just do it! Don’t worry about making a mistake or doing it wrong that you talk yourself out of actually beginning. You will make mistakes, and that’s okay as long as you learn from them and keep going. The most important thing you can do is to believe in yourself!
On those “Don’t Feel Like It” days, what motivates you to keep going?
Thankfully, I really love what I do, and there have been very few days like that over the past few years. When I first started, the thing that kept me going was the belief that I COULD do it, even if everyone else thought was crazy. Now I stay motivated by never getting bored and constantly challenging myself to try new things!
As a busy mom, entrepreneur, and wife, how do you manage all of your personal and business activities?
Well … to be perfectly honest, many times I don’t! I drop balls all the time, and I mess up daily. Over the years, I have learned to let go of the idea that I need to be everything to everyone, stop being such a perfectionist, and give myself more grace.
Yesterday, for example, was Easter, but this month has been a little crazy as I work to prepare the next EBA launch AND meet a tight book deadline. My kids got quarters and dollar bills in their baskets because I didn’t have time to go to the store, we had dinner at Pizza Hut, and when they asked if we could dye eggs, I handed them a pile of Sharpies and let them go to town. There would have been a time that I felt terribly guilty over my failure to create some sort of Pinterest-perfect holiday, but the reality is that it was a wonderful day. My kids had a ball, and my husband and I were able to just relax for the day!
At this point, it wouldn’t be possible to run my business without the support of an awesome team or without the support of my husband at home. But it hasn’t always been that way. When I first started, it was just me, and I woke up at 3 am every day to get stuff done and somehow survived on just a few hours of sleep every night. It was a crazy season, but it paid off, and now I am thankful to have a lot of help!
Thanks, Ruth, for sharing your story!