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This is an interview with Angela of straycurls.com, one of the most popular blogs on the web. She shares her tips on how to grow a successful blogging business and make money doing what you love.
Hey, Angela. Tell us a bit about yourself and what you do.
Gladly! I am a 28-year-old Illustrator and Blogger living in Bangalore, India and I blog over at www.straycurls.com which is a blog that caters to mostly women looking to build fun and creative online businesses that help them make a stable income.
How did you get into blogging and build a business around it?
I had a blog prior to this one which I started in 2015.
But it was mainly built for fun. I started my career as a website builder and slowly shifted to graphic designing and illustrating. And my blog was a medium to help me gain clients.
When I realized how much fun I was having blogging and how many lives I was changing with my post, I decided to take it up full-time and started Stray Curls in 2018. I haven’t looked back since.
What was your life like before starting an online business?
I finished my degree in Computer Science and Engineering. And I wanted to have my own home and dogs. I didn’t want to work in an office.
So, I started doing freelance work and saved up enough money to buy myself a MacBook and a graphic tablet.
After that, I had more freedom to decide what online business I could create.
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Till then, I did everything to keep the pot boiling, like creating and selling clipart, making illustrations and comics for different companies all over the world, creating brand identities for bloggers and solopreneurs, selling physical merchandise like badges and notebooks from my home and local events and so much more.
My life was very scattered before my blog. It took me a long time to hone in on my zone of genius and start Stray Curls.
What do you love the most about being an illustrator and blogger?
I honestly love breaking down boring facts into fun and interesting snippets people can consume fast.
It’s definitely pain-staking sometimes to draw each illustration and come up with little jokes but it wouldn’t feel like Stray Curls without it.
Your blog is very unique and distinguished from the many blogs out there on the internet and one of the many reasons being the way you use very engaging and funny illustrations on your blog posts. How has your profession as an illustrator played a role in your success?
I have no formal degree in illustrating. I just picked it up from watching a lot of online tutorials and practicing every day.
Drawing and writing is something I have loved as a child. And Stray Curls was a passion project to see if I could combine both and make it work.
And fortunately, it did!
There are many women out there who would like to start a blog and make money off of it to support their families but are still hesitant to do so. In your experience, do you think it’s possible for one to make a full-time income blogging online to support themselves?
It’s possible for anyone to start a blog and make a full-time income.
The problem is, most people are scared because it doesn’t promise when the money will start coming in.
This is a risk that the person has to take in order to actually make a full-time income.
And according to me, it’s a small risk, provided you choose a profitable niche and you don’t give up.
As a full-time blogger and illustrator, how does the perfect business day look like for you?
I used to blog a lot more earlier on, but now I blog about 2-3 hours a day.
And sometimes, I take a whole week off because most of my income is passive and my traffic converts pretty well into sales.
I usually sit down at the end of the month and plan my whole month in advance.
I don’t do more than 1-2 tasks a day – be it creating pins or writing a post or working on a new product.
I just do the bare minimum now and the rest of my content usually does the work for me.
This is a privilege I am enjoying now since I’ve put in so many hours over the last 3 years.
Many bloggers new and old alike struggle to make a decent amount of money from their blogs and quite often many throw in the towel way too early. What can bloggers do differently to actually start making money from their blogs?
Unless you’ve already built your brand on another platform or have an audience already, it will easily take 18 months to start seeing any money from your blog.
This is because there is a steep learning curve in the beginning.
When I started Stray Curls, I already had an audience from my previous blog which I shifted over to the new one via 1 email.
I also had a lot of recurring clients and most of my income came from freelancing.
It took me 2 whole years to shift that income to passive income from my blog.
The key is to choose a niche that is profitable (that you know for sure will make money based on competitor research) and then write like there is no tomorrow.
Once the traffic comes pouring in, you can decide what monetization strategy you’d like to implement.
Additionally, you’ll also have to keep learning because the learning never stops.
I still invest in courses and eBooks to help me learn blogging and marketing.
How long did it take you to start making a decent amount of money from your blog and what did you do to achieve that?
It took me less than a few months to make a decent income. Like I mentioned earlier, I was making an income from recurring clients so Stray Curls was just an excellent way to get clients who wanted illustrations.
But making money via my products and affiliate marketing took some time – 1-2 years to hit that $4-5K mark.
Many women starting out with blogging always find themselves overwhelmed with the whole idea of running a blog and having to learn seemingly complex subjects such as Search Engine Optimization (SEO). Is this something you faced yourself when you started out? If so, how did you get rid of that fear and achieve your goals.
The key is to start small. You can’t be perfect and know everything when you begin. It’s not possible unless you’ve had experience with other blogs or have been in the digital marketing space for a while.
So, I embraced my imperfections and just started. As I continued to write and learn, I became better at SEO.
I’m still no Neil Patel, but I think I will evolve and improve as I keep blogging.
As for achieving my goals, I just focussed on the right goals.
My aim was to build trust. If I had a loyal audience who was interested in what I was writing and was ready to pay for more, I knew it wouldn’t be hard to sell them products.
This was and always has been my driving force.
Your website attracts a tremendous amount of traffic every day with lots of engagement. How have you been able to maintain a consistent amount of traffic to your blog over the years? And how did you drive traffic to your blog in the first years of blogging?
Lead magnets and email marketing mostly. I write 1-2 posts a month maximum, but I try to update older posts regularly – especially the ones that are already ranking in order to keep utilizing that traffic.
Email marketing has worked wonders for me, and I have been using it loyally for years.
How much are you earning from Straycurls.com now and in what ways?
I earn anywhere between $4-5K a month. I haven’t started scaling because I want to become better at what I do and I don’t want to put in more hours since my pups come first.
Most of my income comes from my eBooks, planners and tripwires. I make about 1/5th of my income from affiliate marketing.
This is why I focus most of my efforts on digital products.
You currently earn over $2000 through your illustrating services and products. Who is your ideal client and how do you make sure they are the right fit?
I don’t illustrate for people or companies any more. I just take on 1 project once in a while to satisfy my drawing needs. Ha ha.
My customers are mostly beginner and intermediate bloggers.
You have been able to build a very successful blog and still continue to help your audience especially women to solve their problems. What does your audience struggle with the most?
A lot of my audience are working or stay-at-home moms who just need support (be it emotional or mental) and I try to keep my emails very positive and reassuring.
I try to talk about failures a lot because it is important to stay grounded no matter how far you reach.
If you could time travel back to day one of starting your blog and have 15 minutes with your former self to communicate any lessons you’ve acquired over the years with the intention of saving yourself mistakes, what would you tell yourself?
I’d tell myself to plan better. I never planned what I’d write in advance or what my tasks would be for the whole month. And this resulted in a lot of head-scratching and lousy decision making.
After I started planning my monthly tasks and making extremely detailed monthly analysis reports, I was able to drastically increase my income while cutting down my working hours.
What other bloggers have been inspirational to you in your work?
Meera Kothand for email marketing. I have purchased almost every single book and course to understand how to leverage email marketing and it has been worth it.
Carly Campbell for Pinterest. I have followed many Pinterest gurus but her method was the only one that brought me any real results.
Mike Pearson and Brian Dean for SEO. I have started taking SEO more seriously over the past few months and I feel that they have been most enlightening about this subject.
What are your plans for Straycurls.com for the future?
I really want to be more involved with helping bloggers and I see myself coaching bloggers personally in the future.