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Back in Skinny Jeans – Blog Case Study

Skinny-JeansThe following post was submitted by Stephanie Quilao as part of the ProBlogger Case Study Series

I am a new blogger, and published my first blog November 1, 2005. I got so excited about the potential of being a six-figure blogger that I decided to create a mini network consisting of four blogs. In no particular order, the blogs I created and why:

- Noshtopia: a blog celebrating little food: snacks, appetizers, and hors devours. Americans eat $13 billion a year on snack food, and I love food especially snacks.
- Style from the Couch: a blog featuring web only deals at Target.com. I’m an avid Target shopper, and wanted to highlight their web only deals.
- The Great Munchkin: a blog about computers and electronics for kids. There isn’t one place for adults to go find and buy what’s new and cool in electronics for kids.
- Back in Skinny Jeans: a blog about coping with society’s high standards of beauty and body image through hope and laughter. This blog was just an outlet for me to share my personal experiences to help other women.

Because I wanted to be serious, I got the urls and joined a paid blog service like you suggested. I use TypePad Pro because I wanted something robust yet fairly simple. I like TypePad because I do not do code. I know enough to cut and paste affiliate link codes and frankly, that is all I want to know. I care more to build my creative muscles than geek muscles. I have a friend who helps me with the techie stuff.

Noshtopia, Style from the Couch, and The Great Munchkin were designed to be revenue-generating blogs. I signed up with Linkshare, Performics, and Commission Junction. I also signed up with Google AdSense and the Amazon affiliate program. I applied for Chikita and got denied. I planned to go after paid advertisers as soon as I had some decent traffic, and to add on some merchandising using Zazzle or Cafe Press.

After 3 months of blogging, I noticed something that shook me up. The stats were showing that the traffic for Back in Skinny Jeans was more than all of the other 3 blogs put together, AND it was generating the most revenue despite the fact that I had no intention of monetizing it at all. The Back in Skinny Jeans blog was just supposed to be my creative outlet. I slapped in some Google Adsense and a tip jar for fun, and boom, money was coming in more than the other three.

A girlfriend told me that she wasn’t surprised. She said that the Back in Skinny Jeans blog really reflected my personality, and it came across as funny and warm. She said that you could feel my passion in my writing here. Writing for this particular blog is a joy, and it’s easy to come up with post topics. I also enjoy the fact that I feel no boundaries in what I can express here.

Adding to the surprise, this blog was invited to be a part of the new BlogBurst network. The BlogBurst editor found my blog, and told me she liked the blog because it had great compelling content related to women’s issues. Now, I have the opportunity to have my writing exposed to major newspapers. Wow! Again, something I never planned on because this blog was just a creative outlet free of pressure and revenue generating stress.

I started a full-time job this month because I need to pay the bills, so I decided to stop the other blogs for now and focus only on the Back in Skinny Jeans blog. The building success of this blog was due to the fact that I was simply enjoying myself, helping others, and not caring about the revenue generation. Now, I am starting to feel pressure to write more, better, best because of the revenue and the BlogBurst exposure, and truth be told, my writing is starting to be affected.

My question therefore is, how do I prevent all the new attention and pressure from adversely affect my writing? A blogger is nothing without the writing, and I want to keep the integrity of my authenticity and passion in tact. I’m new to all this stuff, and want to stay focused. How did you handle it when all your blogs started to take off, and you became a high profile blogger?

About Darren Rowse

Darren Rowse is the founder and editor of ProBlogger Blog Tips and Digital Photography School. Learn more about him here and connect with him on Twitter, Facebook, Google+ and LinkedIn.

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Comments

  1. The Mole says:

    I don’t think you should focus just on your one blog. You should really keep your other blogs going as well. If all four blogs are linked together consistantly, it will really help your search engine rankings over the next few months, which will make all of your blogs more successful.

    Also, on the writing end of things, sometimes taking a day or two off of blogging can help take your mind off the pressure or the grind of posting every day. That really helps me when I get too stressed.

    Finally, don’t blog for the money. If you focus on writing to make more money you will lose your passion and it will become a job. Blog for fun and your own enjoyment. If you aren’t having fun writing, then people won’t have fun reading what you write. People can tell the difference whether they know it or not.

    Anyhow, you have a cool blog that deserves the success that it’s received. Good luck!

  2. Stephanie, your blogs are among the profitable blog models I and anyone can learn from.

    Very inspiring…

  3. Steve says:

    As a guy I would visit back in skinny jeans on a daily basis just to look at that sexy belly… :)

    Seriously though, keep her going… make sure you are in it for the long haul. The hardest part of blogging I think is content… You need to find what gets your creative juices flowing and do that on a regular basis.

    What I do is when I find I am full of energy and ideas are flowing is I stock up on blog posts. For instance I write several blog posts in one or two days and save them. Then I publish them later. Sometimes the stress of knowing you need to get a blog post out there immediately really hinders the creative side. Blog ahead of time knowing full well you aren’t planning to publish it to the web in at least a few days. The pressure to publish can be overwhelming…

    Good luck on your blogs..
    Steve

  4. Noemi says:

    Content is still king as the saying goes. But yes, it would be good for you to maintain the other blogs. “Style from the Couch” seems something you enjoy too.

  5. Bakari says:

    As a parent, I like your Great Munchkin site. But I’m wondering how you profit from it? Do visitors click through your recommendations and purchase items and you get a cut? How does it happen? I also subscribed to your feed for the site, but I had to search in the side bar for the feed. I wonder should it be a marker in the URL like most other sites.

    Great ideas for blogging. I’m still searching for a few good ones myself, but consumer items are just not my forte.

  6. Paul Short says:

    Stephanie, I love your Skinny Jeans blog and your honest posts. The blogosphere needs more of that. You have a link over at http://www.healthacker.com

  7. Lynn Terry says:

    Hi Stephanie,

    First, I’d just like to say that the Back in Skinny Jeans blog is phenomenal – you have a new subscriber. I look forward to reading along!

    You have received some great advice already. Try to focus on YOUR passion and goals for the project, and put blinders on to the publicity and monetization factors – try to ignore the audience and focus on the thoughts and words.

    You’ll do well, no doubt. You already have an incredible foundation!

    Best,
    Lynn Terry

  8. katiebird says:

    I liked your Back in Skinny Jeans blog, it was fun — I’m glad you’re having some success.

  9. Wow! This is beyond cool. Thank you everyone so much for your kind words, and insightful advice. Darren, I am so grateful for your kindness.

    Beyond staying focused on the quality of my writing, a crucial thing that I am learning about blogging is the importance of reaching out to others. I am finding more and more that bloggers are really open people. It’s a commonality that has a very strong bond. Perhaps, that is a reason many of us stick with blogging.

    My dream is to get my mini blog network going again because really that is where my heart is. So, the challenge now is to do that while holding a full-time day job to pay the bills until the blogs can support me. It’s balancing reality with aspiration. I really admire those who have done it.

    Writing for all 4 blogs was getting tedious, and I was dreading the writing. The Mole was spot on. Your readers can totally smell your lack of joy. My priority is quality over quantity, which is what drove me to cut back to only one blog for the moment. I’d rather have one awesome blog than four so-so blogs. In the long run, I know I have to do multiple blogs to generate bigger returns. For now, I have to figure out how to balance. I’m open to ideas.

    Again, thank you all for your advice and support. I’m very appreciative!

    Stephanie

  10. Lynn Terry says:

    I like what you said about bloggers, Stephanie. I find the same to be true. The “blogosphere” is a unique place on the ‘net, that’s for sure.

    I’m curious if you’ve ever read “Think and Grow Rich” by Napoleon Hill? I find that it gives me a huge sense of balance and purpose, and go back to this one again and again. If you havent read it yet, I do think you would enjoy it – especially at this point where you are balancing the maintenance of the present, and an investment in your future.

    (You can download this book free all over the net, by the way)

    I’m glad to hear you are passionate about the whole network of blogs! It would be a shame to see the others disappear.

    Wishing you all the best!
    - Lynn Terry

  11. Bob says:

    My wife is a Target fanatic and was far more interested in that blog than the rest. She wishes she had thought of that. Keep it going as I am sure you at least have one more fan.

    Blogging for money is a tough deal. Making money on what you love can only go so far due to time and interests. At some point unles you can become wildly successful, you’ll have to traipse through the minefield of buying content and doing the old blog and ping dance. The mantra is build, build, build. And when you do, the joy of blogging will all but be gone.

    Personally I’ve had very little success and no joy in spamming the web with more useless unreadable content. I’m going for quality, much like your own sites. I prefer the blogs to be personable now, as well. Keep up the good work. You’ll find success.

  12. Noxe says:

    I think you’re hitting the same problem as most creators. A song writer and a novelist, an artist or a movie producer, a band or a columnist – being paid for your passion turns the passion into a job, and you start having to rely on your passion to get you ahead in life.

    So of course the pressure will start loading up. I don’t think you’re experiencing a new problem at all, and think you could look at many other creative people in other industries to find out how they deal with the pressures you feel, and how they capitalize off that pressure.

  13. I got an amazing treat last night at a networking event. I got some quality time with Michael Arrington of TechCrunch fame. His blog has skyrocketed from it’s start in June 2005 to now #18 on Technorati. Talk about growth! I asked Michael the same question, blogger to blogger, and his advice to me was, “Stay focused on your passion. Write what you are passionate about and block everything else out.”

    When I think about all the blogs I read, the ones I come back to and enjoy are the ones who are so obviously passionate about their topic. You can feel the excitement and joy outside of the writing, and that is the fun part for me as a reader.

    I’ve learned more about blogging in this past week, since being chosen as a case study here, than I have in the last 3 months. AND, I’ve met some really awesome bloggers. Thank you again all for your advice and support.

    Stephanie ;-)

  14. Lynn Terry says:

    You make a great point about looking at blogs that YOU love. Much like a copywriting swipe file, you can create your own “blog swipe file”. Many of us are one and the same with our target market, which happens when we are super-passionate about the topic we are writing on. This can come in very handy in our “market research” though as we have a special eye for what works (on us!) and what doesnt.

    Glad to hear of your renewed enthusiasm!

    Best,
    Lynn Terry

  15. Savvy Wit says:

    Looks like I’m a little late to this party, but hopefully you learned to write for yourself and not for your readers. It’s easy, which you will like, and authentic, which your readers will like.