Home Affiliate Marketing How This 34-Year-Old’s Fashion and Home Decor Blog Earns Up To $10k/Month From Pinterest

How This 34-Year-Old’s Fashion and Home Decor Blog Earns Up To $10k/Month From Pinterest

0
How This 34-Year-Old’s Fashion and Home Decor Blog Earns Up To $10k/Month From Pinterest

[ad_1]

Lori Sullivan was feeling burnt out by her teaching job and started looking for a creative outlet. 

She created her blog, Guitar & Lace , to document her journey to the altar and her work as a music teacher.

Over time, and with experience, her niche shifted to include fashion and home decor. She taught herself SEO and experimented extensively with social media, diversifying not only her traffic sources but also her income sources.

Today she can earn up to $10,000 per month.

Keep reading to find out:

  • Why and how she started her blog
  • How long it took her to replace her teacher’s salary
  • How she monetizes her content
  • Where her income comes from
  • Where her traffic comes from
  • Her main marketing strategy
  • Her Pinterest tips
  • Her thoughts on SEO
  • Her approach to keyword research
  • The content creation process she uses
  • How much she works
  • Her favorite resources and tools
  • Her main challenge
  • Her greatest accomplishment
  • Her biggest mistake
  • Her advice for other entrepreneurs

Meet Lori Sullivan

I’m Lori, the owner and creator of the blog Guitar & Lace. I currently live in Arizona with my husband, our two-year-old son, and two adorable beagles. 

I would identify myself as being very introverted, creative, empathetic, and pretty much a professional daydreamer. 

I began my career in education. I taught elementary and middle school band & orchestra for 10 years. Teaching was such an important chapter in my life, but I knew it was not a “forever career.” 

Being creative and creating art has always been what fueled me the most, and I honestly felt lost within the education world.

This all led me to pursue a creative career in blogging! 

Why She Created Her Site

I started Guitar & Lace in 2017 as a much-needed creative outlet. 

At the time, I was about 6 years into my teaching career and feeling all sorts of burnout. As much as I loved teaching my students, I felt all of my creativity and passion for music (and life, to be honest) be completely drained out by the stress that a career in education inevitably brings.

At the time, I had very little knowledge of the logistics of blogging other than the posts I’d personally stumble upon after my daily Pinterest scrolls. I loved consuming all of the aesthetic home content, outfit photos, mood boards, and inspirational quotes. 

At the time, I knew that some creators were somehow earning a living while others earned a little side income. That alone was always intriguing to me! 

After doing a bit of research on my own, I realized that blogging was something that I could potentially be successful with! So during my last few weeks of summer 2017, I gave it a go.

I’d be lying if I said I wasn’t secretly trying to manifest a complete career change, but ultimately I needed a place to feel creative and free.

I came up with the name “Guitar & Lace” as a newly engaged music teacher. 

At first, my blog was centered around DIY wedding projects on a music teacher’s budget. 

Little did I know I would become so sick of anything wedding-related after my own wedding. However, the name stayed and my blog content slowly shifted to fashion, home decor, and design.

Growth and income has always been slow but consistent for me. I always held onto the mindset that even the smallest amount of growth is progress that will one day feel like a huge accomplishment. 

Almost 7 years later, I thank myself for never giving up!

In 2021, barely 4 years after starting my blogging business, I was able to quit education. My blogging income had already surpassed my salary as a teacher for the second year in a row, and I felt confident enough to take it full-time. 

More time blogging would allow me even more opportunities to learn, grow my blog, and earn a steady income.

In a nutshell, I consider myself to be more of a “content creator” as opposed to an “influencer.” While both of those job titles can be interchangeable, I personally rely on the content I create vs. my name being tied to a brand to drive sales. 

My content ranges from home decor and fashion blog posts to flat-lay outfit photos shared on social media.

I monetize my content with affiliate links, ads, and brand partnerships. 

With my flat lay/styled outfit images, I use LIKEtoKNOW.it to tie affiliate links to each image. Through LTK, I can share any of my styled outfits or home decor images on Pinterest (or any social media platform) and my audience can shop the photo via the LTK app. 

In return, I am paid for any sales made from my photos.

For example, for my most recent article about summer dresses, I share outfit ideas on my blog and all of the product links are then created through LTK or Amazon Affiliates. 

Any clicks from these links that result in a purchase will earn me a small commission.

How Much She’s Earning

Income is one of the most exciting yet complicated parts of blogging! 

For most creators, every month is very different. As a fashion and home decor creator, I can kind of assume September to December will be great due to the high volume of holiday shoppers. On the other hand, January through early March tends to be super slow.

As a full-time creator, I have months where I’ve made up to $30,000 and months where I barely make $3,000. This fluctuation in earnings stressed me out so much in the beginning.

During my typical slow months (January to March) I used to crank out content until I was burnt out, only to be devastated by the lack of growth and earnings. Now, I’ve learned to accept and welcome late winter as a time for slow-paced work and more mental health breaks. 

On the bright side, I have never had a month where I earned less than I did as a teacher (*knocks on wood*).

As far as income streams, I earn the majority of my money through affiliate marketing, ads placed on my blog, and sponsored content.

For affiliate marketing, I monetize all of my home decor and fashion content with LIKEtoKNOW.it and the Amazon Influencer program. 

I also earn money by placing ads on my blog via Mediavine. Lastly, I occasionally work with brands to create sponsored content.

Lastly, I sell premium app icon sets via Etsy. I advertise through my blog and Pinterest, and oftentimes this is my largest income stream.

All things included (blog, LTK, amazon, ads, Etsy), I earn anywhere from $6,000-$10,000 a month. The holiday months of September-December tend to be the higher earning months.

On my personal website, I create free app icons, motivational widget graphics, and wallpaper for phones. This has always been successful for me in terms of growing an audience! 

I then started to make fancier “premium” app icons on Etsy. I advertise my Etsy shop through my blog and have found success with sales.

Blogging traffic is another thing that fluctuates based on the month and the current state of the world. 

During the pandemic years, people were online more often. I had months where I almost hit 400,000 views. 

Now that things are a bit back to “normal,” my traffic has averaged out to around 50,000 a month. 

Quarter 4 tends to bring in the highest traffic. I believe this is because more people are spending their time online shopping for the holiday season.

Most of my traffic comes from Pinterest and Google!

The breakdown is:

  • 45% social (majority Pinterest)
  • 38% organic search (majority Google)
  • 17% other (direct, referrals via other websites)

Her Main Marketing Strategy

Utilizing Pinterest has always been my top marketing strategy for my blog/business! 

As a full-time content creator, I rely heavily on all of my old and new content being seen by a large audience.  

One solid Pinterest pin that links to our blog can be seen and successful for months and even years whereas sharing anything on Instagram has somewhat of an expiration date until your content gets buried. 

An SEO-strong Pinterest pin can potentially drive steady traffic to my blog, which equates to continuous affiliate link sales/ad revenue. 

I’ve just personally found this to be a better use of my time versus sharing an image on Instagram for it to be seen for a day and then lost in the abyss of the algorithm 

Here are some of my favorite tips for creating an SEO-strong pin:

  • Make sure your image is high quality with large text. Any keywords should be in an easy-to-read font (no fancy cursive fonts for main keywords)
  • I use Canva to create all of my graphics for Pinterest
  • Make sure your Pin image file name is descriptive before even uploading anything onto Pinterest: affordable-boho-decor-ideas.jpg vs. image_1.jpg
  • Your pin title should contain long tail keywords. Example: Affordable Boho Decor for Small Living rooms (boho decor is the main keyword, affordable + for small living rooms turns this broad keyword into a more focused, longtail keyword
  • You can find highly searched keywords within Pinterest’s “Trends” page as well as Pinterest’s own search engine. Simply type your basic keyword and you will be shown a list of common searches that contain your original keyword.
  • Fill your Pin description with a conversation-like paragraph filled with keywords. 
  • Add your blog link into the URL space. This URL should have keywords within it as well. Example: guitarandlace.com/affordable-boho-decor is SEO strong compared to guitarandlace.com/2021/12/30/all-about-boho-decor
  • Choose the most relevant board for your pin. Your board titles should be keywords and the board descriptions should also be filled with main keywords and long tail keywords
  • Add relevant tags to your Pins
  • Publish your SEO-strong Pin! 
  • Pins are typically never super successful at first. Just keep pinning consistently and you will notice growth.

For me, I am starting to see value in using newer social media platforms for building newer audiences. TikTok has shown me so much potential! 

I am slowly building a following, however even with less than 10k, I have still seen a huge increase in affiliate link clicks and sales.

To me, TikTok feels so similar to Pinterest! It’s a search engine, but it also feeds us content tailored to our interests. Once I started treating TikTok like my Pinterest feed, I noticed an uptick in views!

I have also noticed a shift in the way users are starting to consume content in the fashion/home decor niche. 

The focus is less on the influencer/creator and more on the way their content is making us feel. I believe most of us are exhausted by the super-rich influencers showcasing their beautiful yet unattainable lives. 

Now, we want content that makes us feel inspired and motivated. 

Like fashion trends, content trends seem to also go away and return. I believe we are seeing the return of the 2010s Tumblr/Pinterest era. 

Inspirational quote pages are becoming huge again! Mood boards and collages are all over Pinterest and TikTok. Content with purpose is more important than ever!

Lori’s Thoughts on SEO

SEO is the workhorse of my business! Having a blog post that reaches the first page of Google is the gift that keeps on giving, even during the slowest months. 

Now that I am a work-from-home mother of a toddler, I definitely have to work smarter because my time is very limited. 

SEO allows me to turn one solid “evergreen post” into a stream of income that can last for months. By evergreen post, I mean a blog post that stays relevant for months.

I find SEO plugins to be the most user-friendly when it comes to creating blog posts. I personally use the AIOSEO plugin with WordPress. 

I love that it guides me to the best SEO practices while I’m creating the post! It even gives me a score at the end with tips on how to improve before publishing each blog post.

SEO is important in all aspects of my online presence. 

Every image/video I share on Pinterest, TikTok, Instagram, and my blog is filled with strong keywords. 

This ensures that I have the best chance of showing up in search results. I often find my images in Google search results because of this!

For me personally, I learned SEO throughout my beginning blogging journey. I remember the term “SEO” sounded so fancy and techy. It took me a while to wrap my head around even the basics at first.

I did not take any paid SEO courses solely because I could not afford them in the beginning. 

I originally downloaded the Yoast plugin but ended up switching to the AIOSEO plugin because it was more compatible with the theme I was using at the time. 

Both SEO plugins are great though! The plugins work within your blog post as you’re writing them and guide you through ensuring your post is SEO strong.

I definitely have Yoast and AIOSEO to thank for teaching me how to use SEO within my blog posts. 

Keyword Research

With SEO being the workhorse behind an online career, having strong keywords is a must! 

The easiest way for me to find successful keywords is to utilize the search bar of each social media platform.

For example, Pinterest lays out exactly what people are searching for within their search bar. If I type “spring outfits” as a general topic, I will get a full list of exact keywords that people are using to find various spring outfits. 

“Spring outfits for women,” “Spring outfits 2024,” “Soft girl spring outfits,” and more. I will then use all of the shared keyword-filled searches that suit my post in the description when pinning a new image on Pinterest.

Most social media platforms lean towards being a visual search engine, so they also share what popular searches have been. I make sure to use the exact searches within my image descriptions and alt text.

Pinterest is and has always been so valuable to bloggers! 

If I were just starting as a beginner blogger again, I would put most of my energy into building my Pinterest vs. a following on Instagram (I would go as far to say you don’t even need Instagram these days…) 

To start yourself on the right path to building a successful Pinterest:

  • Start a fresh account unless the majority of your personal account’s pins relate to your niche.
  • Convert your account to a Business Account
  • Fill your username with your name + keywords relating to your niche
  • Fill your profile description with keywords relating to your niche
  • Create 1-5 boards a day in the beginning, all with strong keywords that relate to the content you are/will be creating on your blog
  • For each blog post, create a few pin images using Canva. These images can also just be photos on your blog post (i.e. home decor photo, a photo of your outfit)
  • Pin these blog post pin images to a relevant board. Don’t pin all the images from one blog post at once, but try and spread them out. I usually stick to 1 pin image per blog post per week, so I am not pinning the same URL multiple times in a row, which can look spammy to Pinterest.
  • Keep consistently creating content on your blogs and you will have more and more content to pin to your Pinterest board. It’s a slow, yet steady process at first!
  • In the meantime, you can pin other Pinterest users’ pins to your boards. This helps the Pinterest algorithm learn about your boards!
  • Follower count is not the most important number on Pinterest. Pinterest is less of a social media platform and more of a search engine. Your most valuable numbers are impressions, clicks, saves, and outbound clicks. This shows brands that your content is not only being seen often but is engaging enough for users to save, click, and visit your website.

Link Building

Link building is important when establishing a brand new blog. 

When you have a new website, Google and other search engines will typically need to “become familiar” with it prior to showing it within their search results. 

It takes time, but you do need to prove that your website is safe, current, and interesting to viewers.

Some of the ways I actively tried to achieve this are to: consistently create content, use strong SEO to strengthen my content, link other websites that are related to my content, and share my content on social media platforms, mainly Pinterest.

My strategy for having my blog links shared on other websites has always been focusing on creating strong content. 

If I’m constantly creating good content or at least sharing my old content on social media, my chances of having my blog link shared are higher. 

To me, this organic content-focused approach ensures that other creators are actually wanting to share my content and the new viewers will have a good experience on my website because they were already interested in the topic beforehand.

I have not tried any other strategy when trying to build links. However, I have heard of a few other strategies. Some creators will pay larger creators to have their blog links shared on their websites. 

Likewise, there are support groups that share blog links within the community. 

I personally have not tried this due to my concern with the other blog’s content and SEO not aligning with my own. I also have this fear that Google secretly knows when we are trying to find loopholes!

Her Content Creation Process

I work best when I have a bit of a content calendar to keep me focused and organized. Every few months, I plan out possible content for the future 3-4 months. 

I base this future content around what I’ve experienced as successful in previous years.

For example, according to my analytics, March-June show more people shopping for outdoor furniture than any other month. 

In order to capitalize on a future trend, I need to create a post at least a month in advance. This gives plenty of time for my post to gain traffic and grow.

With that being said, my February content calendar will consist of writing a few posts on outdoor decor/patio furniture. 

As of now, Guitar and Lace has almost 150 articles published. Many of these articles are updated every year. However, I have made it a goal to publish more content every month!

My goal for 2024 has been to focus on my blog more and publish more content! 

I will be honest, I have had many phases where I have neglected my blog for weeks in order to put more energy and effort into building a social media presence (TikTok, Instagram, etc). 

I would end up burning myself out over how little growth I would see vs. the amount of effort I’d put into these social media platforms. Then, once things finally are looking great with social media, the algorithm changes and I would feel as if I fell back to the beginning.

I truly believe our blogs are our best asset when it comes to our creator careers! 

Now, I’m trying to publish new content at least once a week, but really aiming for multiple times a week. 

This is going to ensure that both Google and Pinterest recognize my site as current, constantly updated, and of value. 

Her Email List

All subscribers will receive every newly published blog post sent to their email. This helps keep my blog traffic up, especially with newer posts. 

For now, I just rely on my blog to allow viewers the option of subscribing. To me, this feels like less pressure on my end. I know every follower that signs up genuinely wants to see when I post new content.

I know of a few strategies for growing an email list

One of the easiest, non-spammy ways is to provide something useful and free! For instance, an in-depth how-to guide or a printable pdf file. To receive the free files, users must sign up for emails.

How Much She Works

One of the best parts of being a full-time content creator is the flexibility! On the other hand, it is definitely a get-what-you-give kind of job. If I do not put the work in daily, I will fall behind. 

When I first started out in 2017, I was also a full-time teacher, so the hours I put into blogging were a little intense. 

My teaching hours were 6:45 am to 4:30 pm, Monday through Friday. I was so determined to turn my blog into my career, so I woke up daily at 4 am to work until around 6 am. Then I would rush myself to get ready and head to work (my school). 

During my lunch breaks, I didn’t socialize. Instead, I would use that time to research how to create a successful blog. Once I went home for the day, I worked on my blog until bedtime. 

Weekends were full content creator work days! 

I did all of my photos, research, and scheduled posts every weekend. I did not see my friends ever, but that was kind of the norm as we were all post-college graduates navigating the working world. Luckily, my fiance (now husband) was also constantly busy, so he understood. 

Once I went full-time in 2021, it was a total shock! I had been so used to cramming my content creator work into small increments of time throughout each day to now having all the time in the world. 

I definitely saw a spike in growth with just having more time to create consistently. 

Then, we had our first baby. Now I am a work-from-home mom navigating time to work while raising a toddler. 

It is definitely tricky! Nap times are sacred. I’ve learned that working smarter is more valuable than working longer hours. 

Working “hard” is not necessarily working all night long while my kids are sleeping, but more so being aware of what is going well and how I can build off of that.

For example, if I notice a certain blog post is doing well, I will create more similar content. These new blog posts tend to share the same structure, so oftentimes I will just reuse the structure of the previous post. 

For example, my “outfit idea” posts all share the same structure: an intro, heading, photo 1, product links, a snippet about the photo, and then heading, photo 2, etc. Reusing blog post structures saves me so much time!

Lori’s Favorite Resources

My most used resource as a beginner blogger was Pinterest! Not only does it help to be active on Pinterest, but you can easily find inspiration and useful tips from other bloggers.

I taught myself this entire content creation career via Pinterest articles. I consumed any and every “How to Start a Blog” article back in 2017 until I had a good grasp on how to accomplish the first step. 

Once my blog was created, I moved onto researching the next step: creating content.

Blogging is definitely a learning as you go/trial-and-error experience. There will be paid courses advertised to you everywhere you look. 

Paid courses can be tricky, because the internet, social media, and algorithms are always changing. If you do choose to pay for a course, just make sure the course has been revised for the current year!

Her Go-To Tools

The 3 most important tools I use as an entrepreneur are: Pinterest, LIKEtoKNOW.it, and Canva

Pinterest, as I stated above, is the workhorse of my blog! I would not receive the blog traffic, clicks, and sales I do if it weren’t for Pinterest. 

I would highly advise any content creator to put their focus and effort into building their presence on Pinterest vs. any other social media platform.

The LIKEtoKNOW.it app is huge for content creators in the fashion, beauty, and home decor niches. LTK allows us to link just about any product and earn commissions off of any sales that occur via our affiliate links. 

LTK has gone beyond just being an affiliate market. The LTK app has become a powerful tool for content creators and influencers! 

Similar to Pinterest, the LTK app works as a visual search engine. Shoppers can search for specific products, home decor, or outfit inspo. 

All of the search results are shoppable images created by content creators. It is such a huge opportunity for our content to be seen by active shoppers and earn a commission.

Lastly, Canva has been such a powerful tool in all my years of blogging. Every graphic and Pinterest pin I’ve ever made for my career has been created with Canva. 

I find Canva Pro to be very worth it, since graphic creation is so important as a content creator. However, I did make it the first few years on the free/demo version of Canva.

Her Biggest Challenge

The biggest challenge as a content creator (that I don’t foresee ever improving) is the ever-changing and unpredictable nature of the internet.

Algorithms are constantly changing and we are constantly having to learn how to adjust. If a social media platform is down (which happens often actually). we lose a day of valuable engagement. Strategies that I used in 2017 to grow no longer work in 2024. 

Everything is constantly changing and it can be exhausting to keep up with how to do my job successfully with a new set of rules and strategies.

Growth has been very slow and tricky the past few years. 

Most social media platforms have moved in the direction of product sales, ads, and shops (for example, TikTok shops, Pinterest ad promotions). Consequently, this has made it difficult for creators to grow and succeed without paying into these extras.

My most recent challenge has been finding the time to create content as a work-from-home mom. 

Prior to motherhood, I was so used to having all the time in the world to create content, utilize Pinterest, and perfect my blog. Now, my time has been reduced to early mornings, naptime, and the evening when my husband can take over all the parental duties. 

I have learned the value of working “smarter” and as long as I stay present and consistent, even a little growth is still progress! 

Her Greatest Accomplishment

For me, my most important accomplishment is actually achieving what I originally thought was impossible. 

In 2017, I started my blog hoping to have a creative outlet that might just earn a side income. I could buy cute outfits or even a small vacation with this potential side hustle!

I never gave up as a beginner, but I don’t think I realized how possible it was to achieve all of this!

In my wildest dreams did I think I would be so successful that I could quit my job as a teacher and work from home full-time creating fun content. I still pinch myself some mornings while I’m drinking my coffee knowing that I did it!

Now that I am a mother, this achievement means so much more! 

I can stay at home with my son while still earning passive income as a content creator. Yes, it is incredibly challenging and exhausting, but I am doing everything I love: creating, learning, and being a mom.

What She Wishes She Knew When She Started

If I could go back in time and tell beginner Lori one thing it would be: Blogging and Pinterest are not dead! Throughout 2017-2020, I constantly heard how “blogging is dead,” “Pinterest is done,” and “Instagram is it.” 

There was so much pressure for bloggers to grow a following on Instagram in order to stay relevant. I put so much time and effort into growing my Instagram but never saw the growth pay-out that I was promised to see with consistency. 

It honestly burnt me out more than anything!

Now, in 2024 Pinterest and creating content on my blog are what drive my career. I have content from 2018 that still receives monthly views, clicks, and sales. Instagram barely shows content from a few days ago. 

Her Main Mistake

The biggest mistake I have had to handle would be putting all my focus into one element of my content creator job. 

While I was so determined to grow a following on Instagram, I neglected my blog, SEO strategy, Pinterest, and creating valuable content in general.

I think it’s important for bloggers, creators, and influencers to seek multiple streams of income but not sacrifice important time and effort in the process. 

While a huge following on Instagram would be beneficial, I could have seen the same growth had I put more focus into growing on Pinterest (the blog traffic gold mine). 

It took me a few years to realize that Instagram just wasn’t worth my time and effort. Even when I did gain thousands more followers, I did not see a drastic change in my blog traffic, sales, or anything worth the time spent.

This isn’t to say that Instagram is not worthy of your time as an online creator! Just be aware of where you are spending all your time and whether or not you are seeing any return in growth, sales, or knowledge.

Her Advice for Other Entrepreneurs

The most important and vital thing for any entrepreneur trying to build their online business is to simply not give up. 

In the beginning, you will feel like growth and success are close to impossible. You will see other bloggers and creators taking off with success and question whether or not this career is even attainable for you. 

Focus on your goals and accept even the smallest amount of growth as progress.

I once heard that blogging is like a slow cooker, not a microwave. As silly as it sounded, it stuck with me! 

I constantly reminded myself that the feeling of everything slowly happening was normal and needed. Within a few months, I noticed I was getting “somewhere.” Even if that “somewhere” was just a few extra views and a few extra dollars, it felt amazing!

Within a year, I finally saw potential! Even though my earnings were not enough to be deemed a full-time salary, it was enough to motivate me to keep working and growing. 

Now, I am so grateful that I never fully gave up! I definitely had moments of burnout, but I always snapped out of it and kept things moving.



[ad_2]

Source link

LEAVE A REPLY

Please enter your comment!
Please enter your name here