Sarah Titus has one of the most inspiring blogging stories you’ll ever encounter.
After fourteen years of marriage, Sarah’s husband walked out on her and her children. They ended up in a homeless shelter for a time.
Sarah wanted to be a source of stability for her children. She didn’t want to leave them with a stranger while she went to work. And she wanted to earn enough to support them. She started by flipping items on eBay. She built up a full-time income doing that. She was able to pay her bills and be there with her kids.
But Sarah wanted more. She wanted to do work that helped people. Sarah turned to her faith and prayed for guidance. And from her prayers came the conviction that she needed to start a blog.
Already many of her friends were asking her how she was able to live as a single mom, working from home, and earning a good living online. She took their questions and started turning her answers to them into blog posts.
At first, her blog was all about answering those questions. Most of her posts at the time were geared toward saving money. And at first, her blog was password protected. She gave her friends log-in details, but it wasn’t open to the public.
Then a weird thing happened. Sarah started getting way more traffic than she could account for based on the number of friends who had access.
She asked around and her friends mentioned they were sharing the password with others!
At first, Sarah was shocked. These were her private thoughts and she didn’t WANT them shared.
But then she realized she had started this journey to help people. If she opened her blog to the public, she’d be able to help way more people.
So that’s what she did, and her blog took off like wildfire.
Sarah first realized she was onto something when more people were visiting her blog than had access. But she had no idea how big things were going to get.
“My first full month opening my blog to the public, I got 10,319 in traffic. It just kept growing from there.”
Almost every blogger has some source of struggle in their early days. Sarah said, “My biggest struggle was learning WordPress. I’m not good at technical stuff, and there is a learning curve. There weren’t courses and free training out there then, like there is today.
“But I overcame it. I just put one foot in front of the other. Took one step at a time. And because I learned on my own, I was able to learn MORE in the long run. To the point now that I design most of my blog myself. I buy a template and just change up SO much to get it how I want it, so that I’m different and unique, and my blog design fits my needs. It saves me a lot of money that way, rather than having to hire it out.”
In her early days, Sarah was completely new to blogging and didn’t know much about driving traffic to her site.
Instead she focused on creating valuable content. And her thoughts on that are counterintuitive.
“My ideas are different and unique because I’m not reading others’ blog posts. I learned to save money by trial and error and never went through any training of any kind. It was all just what I learned myself over time, to help my family move from the homeless shelter to being on my own and being diligent with the money I had, because it was so little at the time — just $700/month income.”
Sarah has always relied on others sharing her content. She figures if she writes good stuff, if it’s valuable, people will share it and it will get in front of those who need it.
As her blog grew, she started receiving offers to be featured in publications or to be interviewed. And companies would mention her content. When that happened, she’d see a big spike in traffic, but then it would stabilize… but at a higher level than it was before.
Pinterest also turned about to be really good for her traffic. She began sharing posts there regularly, and that resulted in a steady stream of new visitors.
Her mainstay advice, though, is this: “Focus on something really unique and different, focus on things you know very well, and just get that content in front of the right people and they will do the ‘heavy lifting’ for you.”
Sarah also believes in taking very good care of her audience. When people subscribe to her newsletter, they get a lot of free stuff. She said, “I reward those on my email list constantly.”
To be a successful blogger, Sarah recommends you cultivate good business sense and that you embrace a hunger to learn. Persistence and tenacity are also key.
“Things WILL go wrong. And just when you’re about to strike gold, everything will go wrong. You’ll hit a brick wall and feel like you can’t get past it. Something so monumental, you want to give up. But if you don’t, and if you keep trying, on the other side of THAT… is your dreams!”
And don’t be afraid to do things your own way. Sarah said, “In this industry, it PAYS TO BE WEIRD! LOL.”
Another secret to Sarah’s success. She doesn’t focus on the money. She focuses on helping people first.
As part of that, Sarah shows up. She’s there for her readers. She answers people back personally when they send emails or comment on her posts.
“When they see it’s YOU, they trust you more, because you take the time to care about them. Encourage them to email you and reach out. Start a small (free) Facebook group to hang out with them. Be involved in their lives.”
The other advantage to this level of connection with your audience is that it’s easier to write to them because you know exactly who they are and what they care about.
To earn money from her blog, Sarah has done a lot of different things, from affiliate marketing, ads, sponsored posts, product creation, and more.
But product creation has, by far, been the most successful. Her Shopify store made $52,060 the first month she started it, and it now brings in $3.5 million per year.
And Sarah says, “Keep in mind, I have no email funnels set up yet, and I do not pay for any sort of advertising. I hope to get started on all that in the future, but haven’t gotten to it yet. I’m still building the content, which is the most important part for me always, no matter what I’m doing… the value.”
So, seven figures without funnels or paid advertising. That’s impressive!
Like so many successful bloggers, Sarah got her start years ago. But that doesn’t mean you can’t be successful launching your blog now.
Sarah says, “I feel like it’s harder in one sense because as a new blogger, you don’t TRUST YOURSELF, so you go off reading a hundred and one other bloggers saying here’s how they got their success, so you go out and mimic what they do.
“You can’t be a leader like that. So many of the popular bloggers are skating on the coat tails of others, not doing the work themselves. I make so much money because I’m learning things myself.”
That’s the harder part, but Sarah says it’s also easier to start a blog now because the tools are so much more sophisticated. Email lists for example — the stats on those are fantastic. And gauging those types of things can help you become more successful.
When Sarah thinks about just getting started, she said she wishes someone had been there to tell her, “It’s gonna be tough. It’s gonna require commitment. You’re going to stretch yourself way more than you ever thought you could. But it’ll ALL be worth it!”
Sarah grew up never feeling like she fit in anywhere. People teased her. Hurtful stuff. But in blogging, she’s found herself. She’s confident. And she has connections with people. She reminisced, “My biggest dream was to make $1,000 a month when I started blogging. Now, I currently make $3.5 million/year and that’s going to go up a lot this year because of courses and other things I have in the works.”
That isn’t the best part, though. She said, “On my blog, I have a voice. I can be myself, and teach what I love, what I’m passionate about. I can help, and serve others in a way I never have been able to before in my life. So yes, it’s worth it. It’s all been absolutely worth it!”
If you want to be successful at blogging, Sarah’s most important advice for you is this: “No one can tell you what to do. No one can tell you who to be. If you want to do something, if you’re passionate about it, if it’s your dream, you owe it to yourself to go out there and do it.”
You’re worth it! So be you, and write a blog you’ll love, enjoy, and be proud of.
Editor’s Note: If you want to write your own blogging success story, AWAI now has a program to help you do that. It walks you through picking a topic, coming up with ideas, writing excellent blog entries, building your audience, and earning money from your efforts. You can find all the details here.
This article is part of the Blogging Stories series.
Series Table of Contents:
- A Serial Entrepreneur Shares His Story of Blogging Success
- A Blog – The Ultimate Writer’s Tool
- Blogging Your Way to a Life of Adventure
- Blogging and Business: Harnessing the Power of Attention
- How Jon Morrow Launched His Blog with 13,000 Subscribers – and Other Blogging Stories
- Living a Beautiful Life – Blogging Success with Sal O’Neill
- Follow Your Passion – A Blogging Success Story with Carol Bryant
- Building the Life You Want – Holly Reisem Hanna’s Blogging Success Story
- From $700 a month to $3.5 million a year – Sarah Titus and Blogging Success (This Article)