By Yaro Starak
Long term readers of this blog may remember I published an interview with acne blogger Fran Kerr, whom I coached to help start her blog. Fran eventually became a leader in the field, making $4,000 to $12,000 a month thanks to her blog.
Tracy Raftl came across Fran’s blog while reading sites during a period where she was suffering from adult acne too. Tracy felt she had her own story to tell and could also start a blog to help others suffering from the skin condition.
Tracy listened to my interview with Fran and decided it made sense to take part in my Blog Mastermind program to follow the same system I helped Fran execute to grow her blog.
As you will hear Tracy explain in this interview, it wasn’t a quick journey, but through diligent work, following the steps I outline in my course, she confidently grew her blog business.
Tracy started in 2011 and within a year was making money. By the second year she had replaced her full time job income and in 2013 she made $80,000.
Today she makes her living selling various ebooks she wrote herself, and also makes on average $2,000 a month selling skin care related products from her blog via the Amazon affiliate program.
When I first came across Tracy and her blog it was very clear she was following closely in the footsteps of Fran (she even had a couple of guest posts on Fran’s blog).
Of course Tracy didn’t want to copy Fran exactly, although she saw the benefit in copying the same system of blogging.
Tracy had her own ideas about how to cure acne and her own experiences from curing the condition herself using alternative methods. She was confident that if she shared her advice using her unique voice, she could build her own presence in the niche, which she did.
I believe Tracy’s case study is a powerful one for any other person who wants to start a blogging business but feels their niche is already well served by others.
The great thing about the internet and blogs in particular, is that one option does not replace another. A person with acne can read Fran and Tracy’s blogs. Instead of ruthless competition, bloggers can work together to cross promote and support each other.
Of course you still need your own angle, your own point of differentiation. As Tracy demonstrates, when it comes to blogging, the differentiation point can be you – who you are, your story, you way of writing and your dedication to sharing and nurturing your own community.
I’m certainly not the only blogger who teaches how to make money blogging. Tracy is not the only acne blogger who can make a living from it. I honestly believe there is room for everyone who is genuinely committed to providing value to others and has something unique to say.
There’s one other incredibly point about Tracy’s story – she’s done it all herself.
I don’t recommend you do everything yourself, in fact for some people who don’t have technical skills trying do it yourself will kill your project before you even start.
However I think it’s important to demonstrate that in this case study, Tracy was able able to grow her audience using blog posts, youtube videos and an email list, and then make a living selling ebooks she wrote herself.
She’s using a proven system to share and distribute her ideas, and makes money selling more of her ideas.
I invite you to join the new version of the same program Tracy took part in – Blog Mastermind 2.0 – and follow my step-by-step process to build your blog, grow an email email list and sell your own products and services.
Enjoy the interview and please share it with your social media followers.
Talk to you soon,
Hello this is Yaro and you’re listening to the Entrepreneurs’ Journey podcast. Today’s guest is Tracy Raftl.
YARO: Hello, this is Yaro Starak and welcome to an Entrepreneur’s Journey podcast. Today, I have a wonderful guest interview with, I always say ‘wonderful’ because I love it when I have graduates of my Blog Mastermind on and I’m pretty sure this person is definitely one of the earlier graduates or case studies we can talk about and it’s a very interesting story because I’ve had two people cover the same subject and both have had success. I’d really would love to go through this interview and show you that you can actually potentially, let’s not say copy someone else but, you can definitely go into at the same niche and succeed. Yes, let’s hear the story.
So, Tracy Raftl, hello!
YARO: Coming to us live from Canada, I believe?
YARO: Awesome. So, Tracy is from theLoveVitamin.com. It’s a clear skin, amazing life, incredible you, that’s her catch phrase so, it’s an acne treatment and support blog. Now, Tracy, I’m not even sure, did you go through just my Blog Mastermind program?
TRACY: Yes, that was it. That was like the whole foundation of everything I learned in the beginning to start blogging. It was Blog Mastermind.
YARO: Blog Mastermind. Great. So, we’ve just been having a little pre-chat just so I can get my head around where Tracy is at, and I now know that, I knew she had eBooks because if you go to her website, in fact, at theLoveVitamin.com, you can see her eBooks page, and you’ll find she has five eBooks for sale there and she just told me she’s also making money from selling Amazon affiliate products so, linking to things in your blog posts, and last year, you made $80,000 from basically these two sources of income, Amazon affiliate sales and selling your own eBooks which I find incredible because, as I said to you before, they are all under $50 each products. You have to sell a lot of them in order to make $80,000 a year so, you obviously got some very good conversion. But, obviously, we’re here to tell the whole story.
What I love about this is, like I said, the reason why I mentioned in the beginning that you went to the same market is I was heavily involved in coaching another woman, Frances Kerr who started a blog on originally alternative health which then turned into acne treatment and then, she went back into other alternative health things and she had a great success story. And, I remember seeing your face pop up on her blog as a guest writer and then, going and checking your site out, and I was like, it’s very similar in terms of the subject matter. You’re also doing acne and I really loved the fact that you made that work because so many people will find someone else who is doing something that they know about and they think, “Ah, I’ll just do the same thing,” and it’s easy. But then, they give up way before they get anywhere because they discover how hard it is.
Can you maybe take us back in time to not just maybe even before you found Fran with her acne blog, but even before that? What’s your life story, Tracy? How did you even do it before you were an internet marketer?
TRACY: Well, I don’t know. I was just a person. I fled from job to job, I waitressed this and that and kind of figure out what I wanted to do with my life, etc. And then, I came down with severe adult acne all of a sudden which was obviously, a very emotionally painful experience and I was determined to get rid of it and I wanted to do it naturally so, without drugs or chemicals or anything. And so, I spent a lot of my time researching nutrition this and that, reading acne blogs and that included Fran’s and I even started taking a holistic nutrition course, like a school course. Basically, I just was one day, started thinking about, “What am I going to do again with my life?” And particularly with my nutrition course, it was like, am I going to start a brick-and-mortar business? What am I going to do with this?
When I thought about it, I was like, if I started a brick-and-mortar business, then pool of people that I can help is smaller so, I have to help people with a huge range of ailments but, when I was honest with myself, like really the thing I was interested in was acne because that was what I was going through.
So, one day, it just kind of came to me and I was like, “You know what? This whole blogging thing, I can do that.” It was just like a revelation all of a sudden. It was just like, I read all these blogs and Fran, obviously, she’s an inspiration. I felt like I was her target audience. Obviously, I felt like I really related to her and we’re the similar type of person and I just thought, “You know what? I can do that.”
And so, when I decided, and that’s when found you because you have interviewed her and I thought, okay, this guy knows what he’s talking about. I’ll take his course so, I did Blog Mastermind and yes, so that’s where it started.
And admittedly, because we were so similar, me and Fran, in the beginning, I did have some anxiety about what would she think? Would she think that I was just copying her and this and that and there was some fear there but, after I was blogging for a while, I realized that just because we’re similar and we’re in a similar niche doesn’t mean that we’re the exact same person. We’re still different people with different experiences and that means, we’re both valuable and that when people come along, they might find both of our blogs, they’re going to choose who they resonate with or they can learn from both of us.
So, yes. There some fear about that in the beginning from being too similar but, I realized in the end that it was, you’re always different like you are you and she is her and yes.
YARO: It’s funny because there are so many people who write about my subject about teaching blogging and internet marketing. You don’t even second guess someone who just comes and does the same thing. It’s just it happens every day.
TRACY: Yes, exactly. It’s funny because like my niche was relatively, well not relatively, like extremely small compared to yes.
YARO: I guess, it’s a small village, right, like you just opened up a blacksmith opposite the other guy’s blacksmith [laughs].
TRACY: Yes [laughs].
YARO: As opposed to you open up a hairdresser in a massive city like New York, City. You’ll notice it more.
YARO: Interesting. Prior to this experience with your blog, did you have any experience with A, a business with anything of your own orÖ
TRACY: No [laughs].
YARO: Öeven a website? Did you have a website of your own before that?
TRACY: I don’t know, maybe in middle school. I did make some little websites but, they weren’tÖ That was about it. I’ve always been a little bit, I guess, a computer nerd like I always spend a lot of time on the computer like creating and doing random things. It kind of made sense like here I am interested in this subject. I like researching and I like teaching. I like helping people and I also like the computer like it is kind of fit.
Business, no, I don’t have any business experience, whatsoever.
YARO: I am quite impressed to hear that, impressed and also a little worried that you’re a one-woman show still as well. You are literally just doing everything yourself.
TRACY: I know [laughs].
YARO: Not always recommended.
TRACY: Well, not everything but almost. I do occasionally outsource some tech things. I’m doing it more often but, I don’t have like a dedicated virtual assistant or anything like that but, I do outsource more but, in the beginning, I did obviously everything and I just learned it off from scratch and kind of funky wrench my way through it including all the coding and all that stuff.
YARO: Well, take us through that process. Did you do my program then started your blog or did you have the blog first and then, joined Blog Mastermind?
TRACY: No. I think it was about the same time. I bought Blog Mastermind and I was too impatient the week by week thing so, I bought the whole at once and just dove into it and started the blog about the same time. I am l like as I went along, I just kind of figured out, okay, I need to learn this or need to learn how to do that so, I just got on Google and figured it out.
YARO: Okay, so you registered theLoveVitamin.com, installed WordPress and if I remember right, I probably have told you to write your life story post and do a–
TRACY: Yes, that’s it.
YARO: Okay, good. Your About Page, and then, you would have started writing your pillar articles, the typical formula.
TRACY: Yes, I did that. I got my newsletter all set up, got AWeber, and yes, I did everything you told me to do.
YARO: I love it. So, okay.
TRACY: Well, it worked.
YARO: The part that usually astounds people is actually the traffic generation in this area, and then, making the money part. Can you just sort of take us through the first few months of this process? You’re releasing posts. You got this newsletter and email list. Did you give away like a free eBook straightaway? How did you even create that if you did?
TRACY: Yes, the first thing I had was like for Five Free Recipes or something. Later, I changed it to an eBook. But yes, I had the free gift thing going on. And yes, basically I wrote articles and I made YouTube videos and what else did I do?
YARO: Did people just find you or did youÖ?
TRACY: I think they just found me. I didn’t do blog commenting or anything like that. Pretty much that was it like YouTube and Google, I guess. I’m not really sure. It grew slowly in the beginning and that’s for sure but, like people, almost right away, came and started commenting and asking questions and that kind of thing.
So, I have a pretty good audience like right off the bat but, yes.
YARO: Obviously, you did guest posting because you wrote on Fran’s health blog.
TRACY: Actually, the only guest posting I did was on Fran’s, and to be honest, I actually didn’t find that there was a whole lot traffic that I got from that. It almost didn’t really seem worthwhile.
So, I kind of did like a few things for her and then, kind of fell off and I never really did guest post again because it was sort of like, in my niche, there isn’tÖ I mean, I guess, I could have branched out into things like natural beauty blogs, and that kind of thing but, I didn’t read those kind of things so, I didn’tÖ I don’t know, like the niche is so small. It’s not like the online business niche where it’s like you have your pick ofÖ
YARO: Yes, I do wonder how big the niche is though. I see what you mean by small as in there’s not a lot of people like yourself writing about it but, obviously, Clearasyl and Proactive, those two are–
TRACY: Yes, exactly. That’s the difference. It’s like there’s acne blogs and then, there’s this natural acne blogs. Acne blogs are about getting rid of acne with Clearasyl and trying different products like commercial conventional products.
So, what I do is like I teach people how to get rid of acne with natural means like diet, lifestyle changes, just being healthier, and using natural products like washing your face with honey for example.
So, that’s the difference. In my niche, the natural acne niche, there isn’t a lot like big people like Fran’s was the biggest. And, I didn’t get a lot of traffic from guest posting for her so, I kind of gave up on that.
YARO: So, do you think it was just you heading the sweet spot with the types of articles you wrote and then, word of mouth was helping you grow?
TRACY: It’s hard to say. I guess, it was really just YouTube, word of mouth because I didn’t do anything else [laughs].
YARO: [Laughs] Amazing. There’s usually some sort of trigger point like, maybe YouTube really was the trigger point for you because you would have got on there and hopefully tap into a bit of that early search volume on YouTube or people looking for help with acne and finding you and so on.
So, I’m not sureÖ
TRACY: A couple of years later, I did have a really big jump in traffic and overall boost was like I started participating in bundle sales where a bunch of different bloggers, health bloggers in my case, bundled their eBooks together and sell it, like a reduced price.
And so, from that, I started getting a lot more exposure, networking with people in the bundle and people revealing my blog and that kind of thing.
So, that actually really helped but, before that, it was like, for two years, it was just kind of like YouTube and blogging.
YARO: Amazing. As much as that is a slow growth, one thing I like about it is you can just sit there and indulge in your passion, get everything out of your head onto the videos and onto articles and it grows.
I wouldn’t recommend today maybe everyone just sit there and hope that that will work.
TRACY: Yes,honestly because I started in early 2011 which was, it seems to me like, you know, if you started your blog back in 2006 or 2007, it was just like there weren’t many blogs on the Internet. So, you were like bound to get big and then, it was sort of like, my era where I was like, maybe a little bit harder but, now I’m just like, I have no idea what, is it way harder to get known? I don’t know.
YARO: Well, 2011, that’s pretty far advanced for the Internet. I agree with you when I started in 2006, the blog thing was just getting started and obviously, the YouTube thing wasn’t up there yet. So, you could just jump on board and write and produce content and build a following if you’re consistent.
But, around your time, normally, I would be telling my coaching students as I do today, is you have to sort of break your effort into outreach as well of getting yourself featured on whether it’s press or getting into podcast or being featured on someone else’s video on YouTube just finding ways to open up those communication channels. So, it sounds like maybe you got lucky. I don’t know, Tracy. You must have had some great content. I wouldn’t be surprised if a lot of it is from maybe the power of social media and word of mouth, and maybe a little bit like you said, is not too much sophisticated competition in the health alternative that will be natural treatment of acne and if you are consistent, as it sounds like you were, then you start to get rewarded for it.
So, anyway, let’s go forward. You’ve been doing this for months. How is you email list growing and when did you decide that it’s time to make money or how did you make your first dollar?
TRACY: Right, so it was about six months in. I just kind of grew my audience from there and I started to write my first eBook which was about Food and Acne. I launched that. I think I had probably 1000 email subscribers, maybe. I can’t remember the exact number. I think it’s probably somewhere around there.
I launched it and I was like, yes, wow, making money [laughs]. It wasn’t like a lot of money but, there was some.
YARO: Can you break down what you did? Like again, you’re just one girl. No tech support. You need a payment processor, you need to have a sales page. You need to put together an eBook and a place where people can download it after they buy it. Then, you have to send emails and convince people to buy it, how did you do all that?
TRACY: Yes. I guess, I somehow monkey wrenched myself a sales page with CSS and whatever, HTML. I started trying to figure out the basics of what I wanted to do and I somehow made a sales page.
YARO: And you wrote the words yourself, I assume?
YARO: Because you’re not a copywriter by background either, are you?
TRACY: No. I probably just looked at somebody else’s sales page somewhere and went for it which I realize now, and I re-wrote it later. It’s better to just use your own words.
YARO: Well, you can borrow ideas but, use your own words.
YARO: That’s what I find works.
TRACY: You got to make it sound like you. Anyway, so yes. I must have researched that and put together a sales page. Somehow, someone told me to use e-Junkie. Maybe it was you. I don’t know and then, I probably just sent in an email to my list.
YARO: [Laughs] You probably did.
TRACY: I must have. I don’t know. It was a few years ago now.
YARO: You sound so nonchalant about this and I’m thinking, so, you’re doing this and you get like a few sales coming back. Now, I’m really curious about your motivation through all these, Tracy because really, six months is a long time and you must be wondering, is this ever going to pay for my basic living expenses and things like that?
TRACY: Right. So, halfway there, my goal was I wanted to make the same amount or replace my income fromÖ I never had a whole life with high paying jobs over that so, I was probably making $2000 a month or something in my previous job and I wanted to get to that point where I was making that much money. That was like my sort of success, whatever you call it.
YARO: Your goal, yes.
TRACY: What I want. It was like–
YARO: Who wouldn’t want to blog that makes $2000 a month? That would help a lot of people, right?
TRACY: Yes, exactly. I was like, “I can live on that income.” That was my goal. When I launched the eBook, I wasn’t quite making that much but, I was like, “Wow, I’m on my way.” And, to be honest, like I alwaysÖ Most bloggers say they had a point where they were about to give up or they were so frustrated. I just kind of always knew it was going to work out. I really didn’t have that much doubt about it. I just knew those were going to work.
TRACY: I don’t know [laughs]. I just knew.
YARO: Maybe it was the strength of your knowledge combined with seeing other people make money in the industry.
TRACY: That probably is, yes. I was like, here I had this awesome blueprint that you gave me. I saw other people doing it. My audience was growing slowly. I just kind of knew it was going to happen. So, I wasn’t making a living at that point what I considered to be a living at that point. But, later on, I revised that eBook and instead made it into more of an all-aroundÖ That was only focusing on food whereas I feel like, there’s a lot of different facets to help then, I kind of changed it into more of like an all-around kind of eBook that was a complete system and so, that one sold better.
And then, I made another product probably about a year in that was similar. It was kind of another eBook. It was actually more like a program, like a sort of cleanse thing that I guided people through, that eBook, and meal plans and that kind of thing.
That was my second product that I launched about a year in and that’s when I kind of felt like, all right, this is it. I kind of had replaced my income at that point just from those two eBooks.
YARO: So, those eBooks kept selling for you. I know we keep saying the word, “launched an eBook” and you would have obviouslyÖ
TRACY: Yes, they kept selling, yes. It’s just like kind of goes on autopilot after that. Although the cleanse thing, I did it more as aÖ It was more like a course, like I did launches like every six weeks so people could buy it all month but then, there is a group of people that started it all at the same time and they have like a private forum with me and that kind of thing.
So, with that, there was a launch every six weeks so, like, I just basically send the list and email and say, “Hey, this is starting soon. Sign up.”
YARO: Right. Soó
TRACY: But, other than that, yes. It was like it pretty went to autopilot
YARO: Okay, and how does the autopilot work for you? Did they just read your blog post and buy or do you have some sort of funnel process?
TRACY: They read my blog post. I do have an ad at the bottom of my blog post for the eBook. I have, when they get on my newsletter, I do talk about it in one of my emails near the beginning of the sequence. So yes, that’s basically how it goes.
YARO: Right, so you do have a sequence then. So, you have an email autoresponder, automated emails. They all go through.
TRACY: Yes, I have likeÖ [unclear] emails andÖ It needs to be updated.
YARO: Well, it’s working.
TRACY: It’s there. I did what you told me.
YARO: Okay, so it is really finding the blog, read some posts, maybe buy your book then, maybe join your newsletter to get the free resource you give them, and then, they go through a sequence of emails that you’ve already written from before.
TRACY: Yes, in my newsletter, I do in one newsletter mention my name eBook but, in all my newsletter, there is like an add on on the site of the newsletter that has a picture of the main eBook.
From there, if they buy the main eBook, I’d go through it. As I go through it, I will mention my other eBooks which I now have five, as I said. As I mentioned, other eBooks say the section about Natural Skin Care or something, and then, I’ll say, “If you want to learn more about this particular subject then, check out this other eBook I have.”
I guess, that is kind of the funnel. Get them to buy the main book and then, from there, they see why they might need the other ones.
YARO: Nice. Okay, so cross promotions like that.
YARO: It’s pretty hard to write an eBook. There’s a bit of work required. You’ve written five of them now.
TRACY: Yes, it is hard.
YARO: You know what it’s like. You have to format it, get a cover done, put pictures in itÖ There’s a lot of work to it.
TRACY: I do all of that stuff. I know. I could probably do more of them if I didn’t do everything myself but, it is a pretty exhausting process. I have been doing about maybe two years, I guess.
YARO: And, every time you do it, you obviously see a jump in your income, right?
TRACY: First, that was true but the last few books, I thought, “Oh yes, this would jump my income,” and like, obviously, it did during the launch but, honestly overall, it didn’t jump my income that much. I’m actually starting to wonder if people are just getting confused about there’s too many options.
YARO: Well yes. I guess, when you have that many eBook about this subject, you will reach at a saturation point.
TRACY: Yes. And, they all are very distinct and just go into detail about different areas of it like they can get the main eBook and get the whole blueprint and everything but, there are certain parts of it, I’d go into more detail.
I do think people might be getting confused and going, “Oh like, before there was this one option, and now it’s kind of ugh, I have to buy all of these.” I don’t know. So, I am working on figuring out a better system.
YARO: Yes, that’s why it’s good to have escalating types of products like having the eBook in a course, you couldó
TRACY: Yes, I feel like they’re all kind of too maybe similar, and they are just confusing people. I don’t know.
YARO: Well, you’re do well enough with this so.
TRACY: Yes, exactly.
YARO: The other income stream you’ve got is affiliate products sold through Amazon’s affiliate system.
YARO: So, when did you add that to this process?
TRACY: I had that pretty soon like in the first year but, I didn’t make very much money from it at first probably just because I didn’t have a very big audience, I guess. I made like $100 or $200 a month in the beginning.
YARO: What were you selling? What were the first few things you promoted?
TRACY: I don’t really remember but, you know like how Amazon has everything in existence. It’s like anytime I talked about anything, I will link it. Well, not anything but, it was like sometimes, it was a few products I really like and that really helped me like there’s a certain supplementary like I said, I wash my face with honey, that kind of thing. There’s a few like, I guess you’d call pillar articles that I talk about. Yes, just a product that I use, people want to use and things that I use. So, I just link it to Amazon.
YARO: Is it mostly skin care related?
TRACY: Yes, or like health related, which is, you know, my niche is like, improve your health. Improve your skin.
YARO: I am a bit curious though because Amazon is notoriously known for giving a low percentage commission though. You get like cents on a dollar. And, you told me you’re doing $2000 a month on average from the commissions from Amazon which is incredibly high. That’s a lot of face cream. So, [laughs] how does thaÖt?
TRACY: Well, really yes. They do listen to what I suggest and it does help writing, if I write a blog post about a particular thing, it’s never like me going, “Hmm, I have this product on makeup, why you should buy it.” It’s always like something that I was going to talk about anyway. But then, I just link it to Amazon.
So, it really helps to write blog posts about Amazon products and like, why you like it and just kind of do it naturally, like you’re telling a friend. And yes, I mean, they have very low thing but, it adds up.
In the beginning, like I said, I was only making $100 or $200 a month and then, one month, I just randomly made like $400. I was like, “Woah!” I was sort of like, “Ha, like what? I’m making money from Amazon?” I never really saw it as a viable income stream. It was just like pocket change. And then, one month, it just kind of randomly jumped and I said, “Maybe I should like take this more seriously,” and I started linking more consistently. Like kind of before, I was sort of, I would link if I remembered but, after that, I started linking more consistently and then, one day, I had an idea that I should make a resource page.
If you’d go to my blog up on the menu, it says, “Things I Love,” and it has a list of the products that I really like and I linked the blog post where I talk about them and of course, to Amazon. And, once I added that page, my Amazon affiliate income jumped like $1000 a month or something. It went way up. I was like, “Woah!” I was stumped because I didn’t see that coming.
YARO: All right. I’m looking ató
TRACY: I never thought Amazon was going to be a big income stream.
YARO: Okay, so it’s theLoveVitamin.com/resources and you’ve got Manuka Honey, Jojoba oil, MSM cream, Magic Mitt, Natural soap, baking sodaÖ
TRACY: You have to know the niche to understand, Yaro.
YARO: Well, yes. This is not my niche but, I can see like how this couldó
TRACY: Yes, that’s the thing about this niche, people with acne they like products like physical products. Actually, I remember Fran because that’s why Fran has her store where she actually sells physical products like she ships them, has them and ships them but, I don’t know. This seems way easier [laughs].
YARO: Yes, you get a larger chunk of the revenue if you would ship it yourself but, you would definitely increase your work.
YARO: All right. So, I can see how this combination of your own eBooks, combined with all these products that you sell via Amazon’s affiliate program, and then, that makes you $80,000 a year which is definitely that goal that you’re working towards.
YARO: So, what happened over the years that you just noticed everything was increasing and then, one day you woke up and you realized, “I’m making my goal,” is that sort of what happened?
TRACY: Yes, like I said, it was about a year in that I sort of hit that mark where it was like $2000 and then, I kind of, I got a bit complacent after that becauseÖ And, this is about like limiting beliefs and all that kind of thing where I like, I just didn’tÖ I knew people were making a better living on the Internet from blogging, exactly what I was doing, but I just didn’t really likeÖ I didn’t see myself as that kind of person. I didn’t believe that could be me. So, I didn’t really thrive very hard to like further the business. It was kind of like, I just kind of kept on and even without trying the next year, I made, I don’t know, in the first year, I probably made about six or seven grand or something from the business and then, the second year, I made thirty grand. This is before expenses but like, my expenses aren’t very high.
And then, after that, I kind of changed my mindset. I got sick of not having much money and like I wanted to have a house and have a downpayment. I was just like, oh!
YARO: You got ambitious.
TRACY: Yes, I got ambitious all of a sudden. So, I started writing more eBooks and working harder on the business to move forward. Last year, 2013 brought in $80,000. What really helped, like I said, I mentioned those bundle sales that I participated in because I grew my traffic and also those sales did really well like I made a fair bit amount of money in those sales so, that really helped.
YARO: How did that happen? Did they approach you or did you approach them?
TRACY: Way back when I started the blog, there was a guy named, Todd Dosenberry, who also had an acne blog but he switched out of his acne niche and went to a more general health niche, paleo.
Anyway, I was in contact with him and we kind of were Internet friends and he later on decided to organize these bundle sales. So, I kind of have that contact and he was like, “Be in my bundle sale.” I was like, “Okay.” So, I did. And then, it was just like, yes, it turned out really well.
YARO: And, when you say a bundle sale so, everyone involved with it puts their product into the bundle. There’s one price to get all the products and then, you all promote it.
TRACY: Yes, it was like 100 eBooks for $37 or something.
YARO: And, how much do you get from that?
TRACY: He gave a pretty high percentage. So, it was like maybe 30% to 33%.
YARO: Okay, so it’s like selling one of your eBooks but, he gets exposed to everyone else promoting the same thing.
TRACY: Yes, exactly. And, people are really motivated to buy it because they are getting those incredible deals.
YARO: Okay so, really most of the sales still came from your own audience but, they were just getting so much for the same sort of price. You sold more.
TRACY: Yes, exactly. It just ended up being really profitable.
YARO: Right, which kind f demonstrates if you bundled your stuff together maybe with a few products, you can probably make a lot of sales.
TRACY: I know, I guess the thing is I have been working towards bundling them together but, I wanted to wait until I had a bunch of products to make it like really an awesome bundle, but the promise that I’ve been, like we’ve been talking about, writing eBooks it’s not easy. It’s not a big deal so, it’s kind of like been going slower than I imagined.
YARO: It is tricky because I remember just my own last year, I put together three e-guides and bonuses for them. I remember having a very clear vision. I said, I want to sell these as bundles because they are so compatible and the challenge is you release one but you can’t sell the other ones because they don’t exist yet, and you go and have the bundle, and then, you end up, you have to sort of spend the time before you can actually finally realize the products in order to start doing the cool things like bundles, like upsells, like cross sells because like, for example, your first eBook where you start to recommend your other eBooks when you first wrote it, there was no other eBooks to recommend into it.
So, I think one of the key skills to learn and you know that would have got better at this over time is rapid product creation like just getting quicker at certain things andó
TRACY: Yes, I’m creating agree to that. I’m trying to get better.
YARO: Yes, and so am I. We are always trying to get better with that job. ButÖ
TRACY: Yes, I’m not a very quick writer. It takes me a long time to formulate what I want into words and I also find it slightly exhausting. It’s mentally taxing to like, you know, I have all these ideas but, putting them all into paper, it’s you knowÖ
YARO: You should do a video course instead if you like video so much, you know.
TRACY: Yes, but I actually prefer writing.
YARO: Okay. You like it but you’re slow at it. Fair enough.
TRACY: Yes exactly. So, you know, it doesn’t lend itself to…
YARO: Forgive me for being a little self-indulgent with this question but, given you’re a Blog Mastermind graduate, can you highlight any of the particular things you think that you learned, applied, and most helped in the whole process you’ve gone through as a professional blogger, you can call yourself that.
YARO: Because I know you followed it almost to a tee, did everything in terms of pillar articles and email list and about page, and life story and all that, and it worked thank God, right?
YARO: But, is there, and I know it sounds like you are incredibly confident in terms of, this is just going to work. I’m going to do it and it’s got to work because there’s an example. I’ve got the blueprint in front of me what Yaro is teaching and Fran is a case study. It’s worked. I’m going to do the same thing. I love the fact that you did go into a market without worrying the fact that someone else was already there and you made it work.
But, there must be something that you’ve done that you personally feel it was in particular effective for you.
TRACY: I think my thing is just I’m really honest and like I took my audience through a journey with me because when I started the blog, I wasn’t complete like I had, like I said, I came down with severe acne and I got rid of it but, I only got rid of it about 90% and I had this sort of stubborn acne hanging around that I was trying to get rid of and I alsoÖ I wasn’t really emotionally over it. I was scared about acne coming back and this kind of thing. And so, I took my audience through this whole journey and I was totally honest and I didn’t pretend to be perfect about it, like I knew everything or that I never got pimple ever. It was like, I blogged about my whole journey, all my feelings, all everything. I think people could really relate like other acne blogs, it’s just kind of like, “Here, try this treatment.” But, like they see that you relate to the person behind it and the struggles and everything.
I don’t know if that’s something you taught in your course but, I remember the fact that you said, “Write your life story. Put a picture up. Let people get to know you.” I think that’s probably the secret of my success.
YARO: Yes, I definitely agree. It’s one of the most powerful things of blogging, is being that transparent and open. I often question like, “Should I write about this level of personal stuff on my blog,” even though it’s kind of left field. I’m writing a business blog but, I’m going to still need to talk about something else. And, that often ends up helping you because it creates that human to human rapport so, it sounds like you did a great job with that and obviously, it’s a very painful problem, acne, I don’t mean physically. I mean emotionally.
It’s something that people are very motivated to deal with and to see you go through it with your blog and write about it and then, overcome it. It’s very compelling. So, I think your point about writing your own unique story too is really critical because that’s what I keep telling other people. If you’re going to jump into a market that already has a lot of other bloggers and writers and creatives and experts, that’s okay if you’ve got a story to tell.
TRACY: Exactly. And, you have to be yourself 100% because that’s what’s going to differentiate you in the end, and don’t be afraid to say what you really mean and be who you really are because the people who like you are really going to like you and the people who don’t, well, they don’t matter. They’re not going to buy your stuff anyway. So, who cares, right?
YARO: Exactly. So, one more question in regards to training programs. You obviously took mine. I don’t know if you ended up taking any other programs along the way but, what’s your opinion on taking part in the course or studying, not just free information because there’s plenty of free information online.
What do you believe, when is the right time basically and should everyone go through a paid training program? What’s your take on that?
TRACY: Well, we don’t have to but, I remember thinking like your course was 100% worth it because otherwise, it would just have taken me a lot longer. I probably wouldn’t have been so confident that it was going to work, and the free information is there but, it’s so nice to have it like in order and somebody who is successful telling me just this is what you do. And, also of course, paying for something is way more motivating because you parted with your heart and money, and when I first started this, I was freaking broke. I was so poor. I was just like, it was worth the money. It was worth every penny. It would have taken so much longer.
Since you, I didn’t take another training course for probably two years and I did start, I remember last year, when I said that I started to get a bit more ambitious, now I follow people like Leonie Dawson, Marie Forleo, and those kinds of people. And, I actually, I just started a $4000 course with Kat (?) which is pretty out of my comfort zone. I think I’m so excited about it because now, I know what to do, where to go and, paying that much money is so motivating.
YARO: The fact that, like you said, broke when you bought my program, and you bought the upfront version so, you spent $500 on that thing. That’s one week salary at the time, I believe, for you. There’s nothing like, it’s a funny thing where free information is often available for everything. Yet, like you said, if you don’t put some sort of pain as in I’m losing money. I’m spending money. You don’t do the work. It’s kind of almost like a sad part of us in some ways but, it’s necessary.
I’m just saying, I’ve taken part in courses and whenever I spend money on them, that goes to the ones I whole-heartedly implement and go through them two or three times usually.
TRACY: Yes, exactly. I’m not like a spend thrift like some people just spend money on course after course after course. I’m very choosy about it but, I was like, my ambitions is the way I want to take the blog is just like I’ve been working on them, it was happening too slowly. So, it was like I just need some motivation. I’m going to go for it and do some high end stuff here.
YARO: [Laughs] Rock on.
Okay Tracy, so along those lines and to sort of move towards the end of the interview here, what do you want to do next with this? I know you and I were talking prior about just some simple things in terms of product bundling and different types of products and things but, that’s just aspects of what could be a big business.
Given you just told me, you’ve enrolled in a fairly high end coaching program, by the sound of things, where is your ambition taking you next?
TRACY: Well, like I told you before we started the interview, I want to create more of a funnel. I want to next create an e-Course based on my main eBook. So, sort of similar information, same system but, I’m going to create videos and more actionable steps and accountability and like a private forum and that kind of thing.
An e-Course, and then, I wanted to have sort of an academy where they get all my eBooks, all the course and access to me and that kind of thing. Basically, that’s where my funnel is taking me. I told you before that I don’t really do one-on-one coaching because my number one thing that I love about online business is like the freedom and the flexibility, and you know, if somebody or one of my friends says, “Hey, you want to do this or that? You want to go on a five-day rock climbing trip?” Whatever, it’s like I can say, “Yes.” Often, I say, “No,” because actually like my job when I went to work. But, I can say, “Yes.” I don’t like being tied to those schedules. So, I don’t want to do the one-on-one thing.
YARO: I assume all your sales right now are completely automated, right? Like you wake up in the morning and have money come through overnight. You get that experience, right?
TRACY: That’s always fun.
YARO: Which means you could be in Hawaii or you could be inÖ
TRACY: Yes, exactly like we went to India for three months this year which was awesome.
TRACY: I try to do most of my work beforehand so I wouldn’t have to do too much work while on the road. The fact that I could go and I still had money coming in, it’s amazing.
YARO: I remember when I traveled for eight months and I came back with more money than I spent traveling which never happens for most people right?
TRACY: The trips? That was great.
YARO: Yes, it’s amazing. One last question then. So, I can see where you’re going with this, building out your backend and building a bigger business, for all the people who are listening to this who, they’re Tracy back right at the start. They got waitress jobs. They’re not making much money but, they’re hearing stories like yours. They’re hearing stories like Fran’s, like so many other people today now who are making money whether it’s blogging or whatever, social media, selling products and services of their own but, they don’t have this confidence that you seem to have when you’re getting started.
YARO: What would you tell them in terms of what’s most important at that stage at the very, very beginning?
TRACY: I think that if you, like I said, you’re completely yourself like 100%, and you don’t give up, I think you’re going to make it. Like giving up is really the thing because if what you’re doing isn’t working, most people would just give up but, you have to keep going and seeing, okay, what’s not working? How can I fix it when obstacles come, you got to overcome them and just keep going.
So, I think that if you’re yourself, you’re passionate about your niche, you can teach people, and you just don’t give up, I think you’re going to make it.
YARO: All right, Tracy, TheLoveVitamin.com, that’s your website. Is there any other websites or things you want to say before I wrap it up?
TRACY: No, but if you are struggling with acne, you can come see me over at my blog and I would love to help you.
YARO: Definitely, so TheLoveVitamin.com and then, Tracy’s got obviously a ton of information about acne there if you’re presently struggling with it. And also, I would recommend you go check it out just to see her products and how much she’s charging, what they look like, where she puts the links for affiliate products or resources page, how her blog is structured. Go read her life story. That’s important one in terms of getting to know Tracy and you can see the formula for a blog that sells digital products and services and how it works in aÖ I don’t think it’s a fairly large niche because it’s not tiny by any means. A lot of people have acne so, yes. It’s a great execution of that system and I’m obviously very proud of you too as a Blog Mastermind graduate.
TRACY: Thank you. It’s so exciting to be interviewed here.
YARO: Awesome. Well, thank you for coming on the call and I’ll speak to you soon.
TRACY: Okay, thanks!
YARO: And, thanks everyone for listening in. This has been an Entrepreneurs’ Journey podcast. You know where to go to find all my other episodes. You can google my name Y-A-R-O. In that way, you’ll find my Entrepreneurs’ Journey blog and just click the podcast to find all the past episodes. Thanks Tracy! Thank you everyone for listening in and I’ll talk to you very soon.
About Yaro Starak
Yaro Starak is the author of the Blog Profits Blueprint, a report you can download instantly to learn how to make $10,000 a month, from only blogging 2 hours per day. You can find Yaro on Facebook, Twitter and Google+.