I love the freedom of working for myself! Freedom has always been something that is SO important to me, and the notion of a 9-5 and having to ask permission to take a vacation – well, it never sat well with me! - Alison Andrews, SBI! member since 2009
How to Get Rid of Your Boring Day Job
Written By: Taylor Flanery in What It Means To Be A Solopreneur | January 18, 2016

boring-day-job
Taylor Flanery just had her third child. She was unhappy with her job, because it took her away from her children more than she wanted. So she looked for an alternative; a job that would provide some income, lots more flexibility and could be done from anywhere. An online business seemed ideal.

Little did she know that what started with the goal of making a small side income would become the way how she and her husband support their family completely (both were able to quit their day jobs).

We spoke with Taylor about her remarkable solopreneur journey…

1) Taylor, you are the publisher of 3 web sites, www.stain-removal-101.com, www.home-storage-solutions-101.com and www.household-management-101.com. Can you tell us a bit why and when you started your sites?

When I started my first site with SBI, Household-Management-101.com, in 2008, I had just had my third child, and was feeling dissatisfied with my job, because it took me away from my kids more than I wanted. (I was a litigation attorney in a small firm practice.) We also planned to move a lot for my husband’s future career.

I wanted a job that provided some income, lots more flexibility, could be done from anywhere, and so I wouldn’t have to take another bar exam in each state we moved to. An online business seemed ideal. From the very beginning I had a business mindset when it came to the sites. They were meant to make me money. I remember my first goal was $500/month.

I don’t remember now how I discovered SBI, but I did and I’m so glad, because I had no idea how to start a website or a business, and SBI helped with both of those things. I started the Household Management 101 site in 2008. Over the coming years I added the other two sites: Stain-Removal-101.com in late 2009 and Home-Storage-Solutions-101.com in late 2011.

The reason I kept adding websites is because I learned things with my first, and wanted to do a better job with the second and third, but also because I was finding success and wanted to keep growing.

KEY NOTE: “… because I had no idea how to start a website or a business, and SBI helped with both of those things.” Thank you Taylor for summarizing one of SBI!’s biggest benefits: It provides absolutely everything you need to build not just a website, but a long-term, profitable business, even if you are a complete Internet newbie.

While many SBIers have  more than one site, like Taylor does, we recommend building one business first, and adding a second one only when the first has grown substantially and you have enough time to focus on a second one. Taylor followed a smart strategy… all three of her sites are in related niches, and have a brand signature (101) in their domain names.

Another SBIer solopreneur, Elad Shippony, took that strategy to an even higher level and built his “coolest parties” brand with 8 SBI! sites.

2. One question we get asked often is “How can I make money with a website?” Can you answer that question from your perspective?

There are almost infinite ways to make money from your websites, and also infinite ways to lose money, or at least not see any results. It is hard work; some people may think of what I do as “playing on the computer,” but I can tell you from my own experience, and from networking with lots of other successful website owners within SBI and outside of it, that for those who find success it is not play at all. It is a serious business.

There are almost infinite ways to make money from your websites, and also infinite ways to lose money.
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You can make money with ad networks (Google AdSense being only one of the many out there), affiliate sales, selling your own products, directly from your social media presence, writing sponsored content on your own sites or off site, and more. The sky’s really the limit.

KEY NOTE: How to monetize your online business is a key question that you need to think through thoroughly before you start building your website, even before you settle on a niche and register a domain. That’s why two whole chapters (we call them “days”) of the SBI! Action Guide are fully focused on monetization.  In Day 4, you investigate and plan your monetization strategy, based on 14 possible monetization models. Day 10 is all about implementing the model(s) you have identified as the best fit for your niche and level of commitment.

3) I’ve heard that you are getting invited to speak at blogging conferences and podcasts. How did this come about? What topics do you cover?

Yes, I do speak at blogging conferences and have guested on a few podcasts related to blogging. These opportunities were the result of me making a conscious decision to network and try to build relationships with other bloggers and website owners within my niche, and in complementary niches.

Being able to speak with others doing the same work, in person, is really invaluable, because we can share ideas, tips, and even cross-promote our platforms. It started first with going to SBI conferences years ago. But I soon decided to go to additional conferences as well, starting with small ones a few hours from my home and then venturing to some larger conferences across the country upon the recommendation of bloggers I met at the initial conferences.

The relationships I have made, both within SBI and outside of it, have been very important to growing my business. In addition, I now count many of these people as some of my best “real life” friends. That’s because I didn’t just go to the conference, learn stuff and leave, but I made a conscious effort to maintain those relationships, often in closed Facebook groups, even after the conferences were over.

Those relationships have resulted in lots of business opportunities for me, mastermind groups, joint venture proposals, and even in these opportunities to speak on podcasts and to teach others at blogging conferences.

Once you’ve made real connections, and nurtured them, you can teach others about your skills and experiences.

Insider tip: Make sure that the people in charge of the blogging conferences are aware of what you do, and they will ask you to present!

I have worked hard to grow my Facebook presence. I now have a large Facebook Page  with over 850,000 fans (at the time of this writing), and an active Facebook group, called Declutter 365 with more than 96,000 members.

Some of the leaders in the blogging community who I consider friends now, after connecting at conferences, know about these social media accomplishments and because of it I’ve been asked to speak at several conferences and on podcasts mainly on the topic of growing your social media presence organically, focusing on best practices for Facebook.

I like to discuss how to not only grow your fan base, but how to build community, get traffic to your sites from social media, and even how to make money directly from social media. In addition, I also discuss email newsletters, which is what your next question is about, below.

KEY NOTE: We see this “side effect” of building an online business with SBI! quite often. Taking a leap into the solopreneur world opens up career opportunities that you’d have never thought about before. I bet that Taylor, when she started her online venture, would have never imagined that she would one day be a sought-after presenter at blogging conferences and podcasts. Some SBIers have even likened the education you get with SBI! to a college degree, for example Rachel Bruner in her “Do What You Love, Love What You Do” story.

4) You are using MailChimp for your email marketing. Can you tell us what role email marketing plays for your online businesses?

I do use MailChimp for my email marketing, and have since I started my third site, Home-Storage-Solutions-101.com, in 2011. Email marketing is an integral part of my business, because it is one of the most reliable ways to communicate with your readers on a regular basis.

I love to talk to my readers on social media, but every day it gets harder and harder to do that, especially for organic reach. It can still be worth your time, definitely (or I wouldn’t still be doing it myself, and recommending it to others), but I would never advise you to rely solely on social media to communicate with your audience.

You’ve got to have email as the backbone of your communication strategy. I send out emails regularly, at least once a week, for each of my websites. Most of the time those emails are what I term “giving emails,” because in them I’m giving people free content on topics I believe they will be interested.

But every once in awhile I send a sales email. My newsletter makes me money each month, first from the traffic it brings back to my own sites regularly with these “giving emails,” and in addition, when I occasionally sell an affiliate product to my audience that I believe will benefit them.

KEY NOTE: SiteSell customers have been able to use email marketing for years, using SBI!’s built-in Mail Out Manager module. Now, SiteSell has partnered with MailChimp, one of the most popular email programs, to bring even more levels of email marketing functionality to SBI!. Integration with AWeber, another email provider, is also available.

5) You build and market your websites with SBI!. If you had to review SBI! for someone who never heard about it, which features or benefits would you highlight?

There are many things about SBI I love, but the two I most often tell others about are the Brainstormer tool and the included hosting. I have heavily used the keyword brainstormer over the years, and not only has it helped me rank well for Google search traffic for terms, but many people don’t realize how keyword dependent social media is. So I use the brainstormer just as much now for social media planning as for SEO.

I use SBI!’s Brainstormer tool just as much now for social media planning as for SEO.
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In addition, the built in hosting as part of the annual fee for SBI is absolutely amazing. I get a LOT of traffic to my three sites, and I could easily be paying thousands of dollars a month for a dedicated server. But with SBI, hosting is part of the package and it allows me to keep a lot more of my money in my pockets as profit. And yes, my sites have gone down before. But heck, so has Facebook and Amazon!

But I can count on one hand over the years when it has gone down, and it always has come back up quickly without me having to do anything — SBI has my back. And SBI servers can handle huge traffic surges.

In December 2014 and January of 2015, for example, I had a mega-viral post on Facebook which brought in millions of pageviews, and my sites never crashed or even loaded slowly. This consistency allowed me to take advantage of those huge traffic surges to build my mailing list. I got so much traffic during that two month period, with no outages from a crashed site, I increased my mailing list by over 100,000 people!

The built in hosting as part of the annual fee for SBI! is absolutely amazing. #SBIHasMyBack
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KEY NOTE: SBI! owners love our high up-time. In a recent interview, fellow SBI! owner Carl Trent told the story of his WordPress blog being taken down because of a sudden traffic spike – and that was only after thousands, not millions of pageviews as in Taylor’s example.

Has your life changed since you started your sites? Can you describe these changes for us?

My life has definitely changed since I started my sites. For one thing, I’ve now been with SBI for 7 years, and a lot happens in that amount of time. Many of these changes I attribute to the business I’ve started.

First, I’ve quit my job as a litigation attorney and for over 4 years now I’ve been running my websites full time. Things changed with my husband’s career plans as well, and now we support our entire family with the websites, with both of us working on them full time, together. What started as a goal of making a small side-income has become the way we support ourselves completely.

My husband does a lot of admin work for the sites such as answering emails, and other backend work for the sites, while I write content, do social media marketing, and am the face of the blogs. We both work from home, together, and are able to do things with our kids when we want or need to, without having to ask off from work or juggle schedules quite as much.

A couple summers ago we got the chance, last minute, for my daughter to compete in Nationals for tennis in Atlanta, and we were able to pick up and take the whole family on a more than week long adventure without much lead time to plan. I was able to work on the road, as was he, and we got to have that life experience for everyone. That is the type of thing I really appreciate about being my own boss.

7) What one piece of advice would you give someone who is just getting started as an online entrepreneur?

If I had to pick one thing I would say, over and over as I’ve met successful website owners, no matter what their niche, the thing they all have in common is putting in the time and work, consistently. Building an online business is hard work, and it isn’t quick and easy.

It will most likely take you several years to really get in the groove and begin to make serious money, although you can begin to see some more modest results sooner. But don’t compare yourself to those farther ahead of you. You can’t compare your beginning to someone else’s middle. If you focus, put in the time daily, and hustle, you can do it too.

KEY NOTE: Thanks very much Taylor for sharing your remarkable solopreneur story with our readers. Your story illustrates the immense power of focus, determination and following the proven SBI! process. You started with the goal of making a small side-income, and now you support yourself and your family completely with your online business. Congratulations. 🙂

To the reader… are you ready to begin your own solopreneur career? Like Taylor says, if you focus, and put in the time and work consistently, you can achieve your financial and lifestyle dreams too.

Get Started With SBI! Today
Taylor Flanery

Taylor Flanery

As the face behind the successful websites Home Storage Solutions 101, Household Management 101, and Stain Removal 101, Taylor is always working to grow communities and speak directly to her readers. She’s created a popular 52 Week Organized Home Challenge, and corresponding Declutter 365 Missions series, which boasts over 160,000 newsletter subscribers, and a vibrant Facebook group of 96,000+ members. In addition, she has organically grown one of her Facebook pages, Household Management 101, to over 850,000 fans in about two years by focusing on engagement and community building. She and her husband work from home, together, on the sites while raising three tennis loving kids.
Taylor Flanery

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  • Really cool interview full of interesting and useful info.
    Congrats on n your success Taylor!

  • John Kirk

    Very good interview. 160,000 subscribers. I’m super impressed.

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