side hustle

How Do Mom Bloggers Make Money?

Until recently, I was under the impression that most moms who blogged did it just to hear themselves talk. But now that I have my own personal blog and will soon be a mother, I’m realizing that isn’t the case at all.

Most mom bloggers are actually making money with their blog. Plus, it allows them to stay at home most of the time, do something they enjoy, and raise their kids. I definitely see the benefits.

These women may also be looking to make some money during maternity leave, which is not always paid for in the U.S. (I just read an interesting article about women who are using crowdfunding to allow them to go on maternity leave without worrying about money).



But how does a mom blogger make money? There are a few different options:

Ads. Back in the day of mom-blog Dooce, bloggers made a good chunk of money using banner ads. This article explains why that became basically extinct as a money making option, thanks to the rise of mobile.

Today, tools such as Google AdSense, BlogHer, and Media.net work as middlemen, connecting you to companies looking to advertise. The flipside, especially when using tools like Google Adsense, is that you’re at the mercy of how they decide to set up the advertising. For example, Google Adsense just gives you a code to copy and paste into your website’s header. You don’t have any customization options (or any control over whether Google decides to display any ads at all).

Want to learn more about the different types of online ads in detail? Check out our Online Ads 101 blog post series!

Sponsored Posts. Sponsored posts have become popular in recent years with mom bloggers looking to generate income. The posts usually are formulated after a larger brand connects with a blogger to create some sort of offer, in exchange for product/service promotion. A lot of these brands also have programs that bloggers and others can apply to participate.

Most sponsored post bloggers are paid to write the post (which may have to meet certain rules/guidelines), no matter how many sales are generated afterward. Many bloggers will disclose to readers at the beginning of the blog post if it is sponsored (some consider this a matter of ethics). This article explains that a sponsored post’s primary goal is brand awareness; actual sales are secondary.

Aforementioned mom blogger from Dooce discusses her personal reasons for not going the sponsorship route: “The problem is I have to give my readers what they want, I have to give the brand what they want, and I have to be authentic to who I am.” Pleasing everyone in this instance can be tricky, and it makes sense that this model is not for everyone.



Affiliates. Affiliate programs’ monetary arrangements differ from sponsored posts. The blogger is usually given a specific link or code for their readers, and if someone makes a purchase within a certain timeframe (often 7-28 days), the blogger gets a certain percent of the sale.

This might be more mutually beneficial because payment only occurs when a purchase is made. The blogger may also have a bit more freedom when it comes to sharing the affiliate link.

As with a sponsored post, the writer could create one or more posts dedicated to the affiliate brand, sharing the unique offer at the end of the post. If that feels uncomfortable, they could also create a widget/button on their website that links to the affiliate. Another idea for multiple affiliates is to create a landing page of all affiliate websites (which more or less just shoves them all in the same area).  As long as the blogger is within the guidelines of the affiliate program, there can be more wiggle room in how it’s marketed.

Another idea for multiple affiliates is to create a landing page of all affiliate websites (which more or less just shoves them all in the same area).  As long as the blogger is within the guidelines of the affiliate program, there can be more wiggle room in how it’s marketed.

Creating a Product/Service. This involves a more active approach to generating income, meaning there has to be some product or service offered to readers. In order to make it profitable, the readers, in turn, have to perceive the product as something valuable.

In this Penny Hoarder article, mom blogger Suzi Whitford discusses how she gave up her engineering job to be a stay at home mom, but still wanted to contribute in order to offset household expenses. So she started her version of a lifestyle blog, but with a spin (honestly, I think this could easily be an episode of Side Hustle School). She first created an ebook to help people start their own blogs, and later created online courses. People could purchase these on her website.

There are plenty of options for mom or other lifestyle bloggers when it comes to making money. Part of the decision-making process is knowing what type of experience you want to provide readers (i.e. if you want them to experience an ad-free website), and being clear about your mission.

Stay tuned for more posts about mom blogs and bloggers coming this month!



Lessons From The Side Hustle

I think it’s safe to say that both Kassie and I are addicted to Side Hustle School, a podcast by Chris Guillebeau. I started listening because I thought it was interesting to have this short podcast, non-interview format. Most podcasts are 20-40 minutes with an interview and this one is typically 5-8 minutes with Chris being the only voice. I was curious how he’d keep it interesting… not to mention learn from the kinds of businesses he profiles.

The idea of the side hustle is it’s something you do outside your day job to earn a bit of extra money. Sometimes it becomes a full time thing of course (ex: the company website this blog post is on started as a side hustle while I worked at a newspaper). Mainly though, a side hustle is just that a fun, income generating, part time project.

I’ve conservatively listened to 75% of the daily episodes so here’s what I’ve gleaned so far.


Build it as they are coming (or even only build it if they pay you up front).

In a lot of cases, marketing for the side hustle started WAY before it was ready. In one case, a woman began collecting email addresses before her cookbook was even ready… so when it came time to sell it, she had an audience waiting to buy. In another (which I can’t seem to find on the site) a guy studying for some kind of exam given to doctors made a landing page where people could pre-buy his study guide. He didn’t make the study guide but when enough people were interested, THEN he pulled it together.

So get your marketing ready even before your product or service is ready so you can start building excitement… and collecting potential customer contact information.


If people keep asking for it, it might be an upsell.

If people keep asking if you deliver your homemade cookies, chances are you may be able to upsell a delivery service with your cookies.

You want to look for this feedback coming from different places, not the same group of friends. For example, when our web host friends, web developer friends, and clients started complaining about how annoying it was to keep Wordpress website software up-to-date, we started a Wordpress Insurance service for $25/month.

What are your customers complaining about or asking you for? This might be a place to start.

Controlling as many things as you can keeps things in control but it does limit your profit/scale.

One of the companies profiled was a cleaning service created by a student. There was a point in business growth where he realized he’d make a lot more money if he worked with other reputable people who helped clean the houses… but it also meant he had to create systems and other ways he could control the quality of work being done by other people. Keeping things in house, like if you are manufacturing your own candy hearts with custom messages, you are limited by how many you can stamp out in a day… but that might be ok. Just know there are tradeoffs, always.


If it doesn’t work the way you want it to, be flexible.

There are certain kinds of businesses that seem sexy to open: bars, coffee shops, restaurants, etc. The problem is most people can’t go from zero to their own cafe, financially or otherwise.

When two friends wanted to open a distillery and saw all the regulations, they decided to make homemade gin kits… and were a success. If they had been inflexible about how they were going to get artisinal spirits to the masses, they would have lost out.

Most careers, if you really think about them, have a way that you can step into them… because the idea with the side hustle is…



Risk as little as possible.

Yes, you should spend time building or trying things,  but don’t sink thousands of dollars or hundreds of hours into something. Look for a quick win, even if it’s small, which can encourage you to stay on the right track. For example, an orthodontist as an experiment spent $500 on Facebook ads but rather than just ‘boosting’ them to make more of his friends see them, he used them strategically to attract patients seeking braces with a $400 off coupon. He didn’t build a whole new section of his practice or do anything crazy; he just tried something small and when it was a win, he could adjust other things accordingly and move onto the next win.

If you’re interested in small business development, making extra money, or just hearing people with cool ideas, listen to Side Hustle School. Whether you have never had a business or run several, I guarantee it’ll give you ideas for moving ahead.


What I’ve Learned Having 20 Strangers Sleep In My House

airbnb-logoOne of Derrick and my personal goals in life is to get our house paid off early. So after we got married and had cleared out boxes of plates, silverware, and mason jars for the event out of the spare bedroom, it seemed natural to think about using otherwise ignored space to generate some income.

So the day after we got married, we had our first AirBnB guests. (We warned them that the rest of the house looked like a bomb went off but our first guests, who happened to be German, were very gracious.) We’ve had about 20 people come through our house in the last month, hailing from places as exotic as Switzerland to more expected like New Jersey. Some stayed as short as one night and one as long as three days.

Our first reaction when we tell people we do this is that they think it’s weird. But hear me out, it’s actually kind of interesting.



You have a roommate… when you feel like it.
So I have a friend visiting this weekend so I blocked off Friday and Saturday night so AirBanB people couldn’t book the room. Unlike having a full on regular roommate, you just have a roommate when it’s convenient.

You set your price/expectation.
Between the photos, the profile, and your price point, you set the expectation for the experience.

I have taken a stunningly bad photo of the room, mainly so when people see it in real life, they are pleasantly surprised that it doesn’t look like the kind of room they will be murdered in.

And we priced ourselves cheaper than we thought we could get for a few reasons 1) Attract laid back and younger travelers (a relatively affordable option), 2) The room isn’t finished off yet so we didn’t think it was fair to charge full market value, and 3) We wanted to get some people to stay in the space and leave some initial reviews.

When we put in flooring and add a few extras to make it nice, we may up the price and get professional photos but until then, we are marketing ourselves in this way on purpose.



We have met some really interesting people.
The guys from Boston reminded me of my college friends while the couple from Bejing showed us how to properly do a Kung Fu tea service (no joke). We have met people who are thrilled to be in our town and it’s really rubbed off on making us enthusiastic in the same way. Some people who stay over want to talk a lot and we get to know them well and some just want a place to sleep and, as I say in the listing, we are fine either way. Everyone we’ve met has been really nice and grateful. I’ve even met someone who teaches website design and we plan on keeping in touch about work stuff. Networking without leaving my house, who would have thought?

It’s kind of inconvenient so be prepared.
Ever had to go to the bathroom while someone takes a really long shower? Yeah when four people share one bathroom, it is bound to happen. Also between Derrick and I, we’ve really had to coordinate changing bed sheets, cleaning the bathroom, welcoming guests etc. which has sometimes meant we didn’t or couldn’t do something. Adjustable shelves in the party closet? Cleaning out the pantry? On hold projects when you are sharing your space and not wanting to make a mess or a bunch of noise.

I bet now you’re curious. Want to see our listing? Click here: https://www.airbnb.com/rooms/4120600 And if you have any questions, let us know. We are AirBnB fans, on the host and guest end.