Throughout the post I’ll have a few tips from me, Suzi. Please don’t get confused with the wonderful guest blogger, Susie, and me, the blogger behind this blog, Suzi.
I stumbled upon her Instagram account a few months ago and just absolutely fell in love! She inspires me to be a better mom! Thank you Susie for the fantastic tips below!
*This post contains affiliate links.
How to Start and Make Money with a Kids Activity Blog
I came to blogging a little bit backwards. I started Busy Toddler as an Instagram account in June 2015. I had two under two and was looking for fun activities to do with my toddler while the baby was napping (you know, instead of letting Daniel Tiger parent him). I started looking around on Instagram because that’s where I was hanging out a lot at the time, scrolling while nursing. But, I couldn’t find what I was looking for: an account that showed super easy, little to no prep activities using supplies that I had on hand – because who has time for 10 hours of prep and a special trip to Michaels?
So, after a few successful Susie-style toddler activities (a flour pool in my family room, a rice bin with some scoops), I decided to create the Instagram account I had once been looking for. It’s the whole necessity is the mother of invention adage. I definitely didn’t set out with even an inkling that this future was in front of me.
I didn’t tell a soul when I launched Busy Toddler on IG – not even my husband. About a week later, I mentioned it to him at dinner “so yeah, I started this account….”. I figured if I had 100 followers by the end of the first month, I’d keep going. I had 2000 and had started to realize I wasn’t the only mom on Instagram looking for these kinds of activities.
Fast forward to the end of the summer and I had met a blogger on IG – Clarissa from Munchkins and Moms – and she started urging me to open a web site from my Instagram account. She helped guide me and point me in the right direction as I opened BusyToddler.com. Because of her, I came out of the gate with all sorts of basic blogging information that is really hard to come by if you don’t have an “inside source” (things like the importance of Pinterest, the different image sizes needed in a post, what the heck is metadata?!). [Side note: Clarissa is still the love of my blogging life and not only is she my Internet bestie, but one of my closest real-life friends. That’s blogging for you!]
So, to answer the basic question, “When did I start my blog?”: Officially, September 2015. I’m celebrating my two-year anniversary and can’t believe this is where my life is at right now. It looks a little different than the morning I searched the name “Busy Toddler” on IG, saw it was free, and registered it.
Quick Tip from Suzi: Starting a blog does not need to be techy or difficult. Join the other 1,700+ moms who have taken the Blog by Number course to start a successful blog!
How I Made $45 in my First Month Blogging
Once I officially opened the BusyToddler.com web site, I started making Amazon affiliate money that month. Easiest money to make in blogging. I was fortunate to have a community already built when I began my website so my traffic for the first month was just a little more than 10k and I think I made about $45 in Amazon money. I was STOKED. My monetary goals with blogging escalated like this:
- Can I make enough money in a month to cover a few extra lattes?
- Can I make $100 a month?
- Can I cover the grocery bill?
- Can I make $1000 a month?!
- Can I cover the mortgage?!
- Current goal: Can I pay off the mortgage through the money I make from Busy Toddler?
Quick Tip from Suzi: Here’s 83 different ways you can make money from your blog!
How I Get Thousands of Page Views to My New Blog Each Month
Thank goodness one of the first tips I learned with blogging is that Pinterest runs the world. At least the kid’s activities world. It’s my first piece of advice to all new bloggers. “Do you know just how important Pinterest is?”
I made Pinterest my first big blogging goal. It was two-fold: get followers on Pinterest and have really pinnable images. Problem is, my activities are simple and you can glean a lot from just a photo (I mean, rice bin…what more do you really need to know?!). I have to make sure my images and the text I put on my pins is so compelling that you just have to click over.
Pinterest makes up about 50% of my traffic a month. Facebook is about 10% and Instagram makes up just about 3% of my monthly traffic. It’s not easy to get traffic from IG to a blog so I’m thrilled to be at 3%.
Quick Tip from Suzi: This is the Pinterest strategy that I use to bring in thousands of page views to my blog per month.
How to Blog with 3 Kids under 4 Years Old
I basically don’t sleep. KIDDING. I actually need lots of sleep. I’m a nicer person that way. I made a pact with myself from the get go that the whole reason for Busy Toddler was to find activities to do with my kids so I needed to keep my two jobs separate: there’s SAHM Susie and Blogging Susie – and never the two shall meet. Obviously, that’s not totally true and the two meet all the time but for the most part, I have business hours and I have Mom hours. I do the best I can.
I wake up a little before my kids and do a basic check of my world: is my site up, open each social media channel (except Twitter because I cannot even. That place just is not my jam.), and answer emails. After that, the most I’ll see of Busy Toddler is the occasional glance while I put the Baby 3 down to nap or if I need a minute to center myself in the Target parking lot before heading inside with three kids 4 and under. Heaven help me. My kids all magically nap at the same time so I get about 90 mins in the afternoon and then I work after their bed time from about 7pm – 10pm.
I’m happy giving up my “free time” to Busy Toddler because I really, really love this. SAHM life can be so lonely if you let it and you can start to feel like folding laundry immediately out of the dryer is the best life be, so it’s nice to have a place to use my teacher brain, use my journalism skills, and to pretend I’m a photographer. I have colleagues in blogging that I talk to every day (I call them my co-workers and it’s so true). But the biggest bonus is that when I’m “answering emails”, I’m usually just chit chatting with another mom and sharing our experiences. I feel like the luckiest Mom in the world getting to have such a large village to raise my kids in.
Quick Tip from Suzi: I know it’s hard to start a blog and be a mom too! I have two little ones and a 3rd on the way – due soon! I use my Blog Vision Board and my Simple Weekly Schedule to keep myself organized and sane.
Great Tip on How to be Authentic Online
I think the best gift that we can give other moms is a sense of togetherness. I’m not here to be the Wonder Mom or the Best Mom or the Pinterest worthy mom. I’m just another Mom trying not to let my kids watch 18 episodes of Paw Patrol in a single day. I think that’s something that I’ve always put out front and center on Busy Toddler: I’m not better than you. I just happen to like letting my kids play in Jell-O and I thought you might too.
The phrase “be authentic” is probably the least authentic phrase on the Internet, but it really is true. Just be you. Be the person you are with your friends. Write your posts and your captions like you are talking to your bestie. Share things to Facebook that your friends would want to read.
Never talk down to people and never talk over them. You wouldn’t do that to your real-life friends so don’t do it to your internet ones. I can’t stress this enough: write like you’re talking to your friend. Read your captions and posts out loud to check if they sound like you.
Quick Tip from Suzi: I love this tip so much!!
How to Make Money with a Toddler Activity Blog
I’m a passive income gal and after taking a few sponsored posts early on, I realized that just isn’t my thing. I make my income on ads, Amazon affiliate, and on a single ambassadorship that I’ve held for two years. While the ambassadorship is a “sponsored post gig”, it feels very passive because it’s consistent.
I knew I wanted another means of passive income and that it would have to come in the form of a product. What I could never wrap my head around was how a product fit into my brand. Understanding and staying faithful to my brand has always been #1 for me even at the risk of, for example, turning down sponsored content because it just wasn’t 100% (I hate to say it) authentic for my brand.
A lot of “my brand” is based on this idea that you don’t need to spend money or buy anything special to have fun with your kids. I know so many bloggers that make amazing printables and worksheets but that just didn’t feel right for my brand because 1) printables cost money 2) they aren’t my style of hands-on learning.
At the same time that I was trying to wrap my head around what sort of product(s) could I put out in the world, I started getting a lot of questions from followers like “Are you sending your kids to preschool?” “How do you structure your day?” “How did you teach your kids?” And suddenly a light bulb went off: I can create a really easy home preschool program for parents that’s more like an activities guidebook than formal homeschooling.
I did a lot of research. I met with a preschool teacher and read a lot about preschool developmental goals. I talked to other elementary teachers, I talked to other moms, and I did a lot of talking to my own mom (she’s a gem). I looked at what was already out there for homeschool preschool and saw that there were a lot of unit by unit options but not as many complete, full year programs.
Going back to my original Busy Toddler game plan of fast and easy, I knew I wanted to create a one-stop-shop type program. I didn’t want Moms having to go back every week to buy a new unit.
Quick Tip from Suzi: Want to create an ebook too and monetize your blog more? Enroll in the Ebook by Number step by step course.
I Was Scared of Creating a Product and Selling It
It was surprisingly hard for me to come to terms with selling something on my site, because I had built such a huge foundation on “you don’t need to buy anything special”. One of my non-blogging friends said that what I was doing and asking people to pay for is similar to a meal subscription. You can see a few random recipes for free OR you can buy this planned out meal subscription. She was right. People have loved this idea that they can have a full school year worth of activities at the ready.
Altogether, it took about 5 months to write Playing Preschool. One month was on research alone, another on designing the structure and template. I wrote the bulk of the lessons over a six-week period, writing during nap time and after the kids went to bed. Then it was on to editing, editing, and more editing before I felt it was ready for the world.
Then came launch day. I made $6,000 in 24 hours. It was surreal.
I am so fortunate that Busy Toddler can be a hobby. My family doesn’t rely on my income for anything. I am very, very lucky. Before I launched Playing Preschool, I was making about $2200 a month. It’s hard to say what I’m making now, since Playing Preschool has only been out 6 weeks so I’m not sure what the long-term average or how steady the purchasing will be. I can say that in this short time, I have made the same as my teaching salary. Which is bananas.
Quick Tip from Suzi: Ebooks are a FANTASTIC way to make money with your blog, help others and change the world. I’ve made over $30,000 selling ebooks on my blog, and you can do it too! Enroll in the Ebook by Number step by step course.
Best Advice for New Mom Bloggers
Best advice: don’t be everything. You can’t be the “everything” blogger. Find your niche. Become an expert in your niche. Have domain authority! I would LOVE to share with the world my passion for easy home cooking or how I can get a stain out of just about anything, but you know what? That’s not what Busy Toddler is about so I don’t blog it or share it. That’s ok. It’s the old “don’t spread yourself too thin”, except in blogging, I’d say “don’t spread yourself too broad.” Be happy in your niche and find a dedicated audience. Stay true to them and what they expect to see from you.
I’m Susie, and I’m just trying to make it to nap time each day. I come up with easy and fun activities that keep my kids (and me) entertained. Check out the Playing Preschool Program to know what to do with your child every day. Find her at Busy Toddler.