“Luxury is absolutely a possibility.” How I broke through my $60K revenue barrier
In 2013, Sylvie McCracken made the decision to start a blog called Hollywood Homestead, a health blog aimed at helping readers with digestive issues, such as SIBO and IBS.
“I took it very, very seriously from day one,” said Sylvie, who lives in Ashland, Oregon, with her family.
Five years later, Hollywood Homestead is consistently clearing $100K in profit, thanks to a sturdy foundation of health info-products that readers can purchase for between $9.99 and $24.97. (Her two most popular e-books, The SIBO Solution and The Gelatin Secret, convert at a rate of 13% and 19% from the 70K to 110K visitors that come to her site every month.)
In 2017, Hollywood Homestead made $282,510.48. And through the end of June in 2018, her blog has already pulled in $185,665.81. It’s worth noting that most of this is passive income.
When she started Hollywood Homestead she never dreamed the blog would replace her day job’s six-figure salary. Instead, she just wanted the blog to get to $60,000. If she could just make $60,000 with her blog, she thought, she could live a simpler life somewhere else.
But that humble $60K goal came back to beset Sylvie, and for a while, was one of the reasons she couldn’t seem to grow her business beyond it.
The stories you tell yourself may be holding you back
It took Sylvie a year to reach that $60K benchmark.
Hollywood Homestead is built around Sylvie’s own e-books, along with income from affiliate partnerships (from Amazon) and ad revenue. This business model works for her because it hinges on getting loads of monthly traffic and then converting them via info-products. Right now her site hovers around 110K visitors on a good month.
GrowthLab CEO Ramit Sethi gives you his best advice on growing your blog’s traffic.
To grow her traffic when she was just a newcomer to the blogging space and had barely any visitors, she’d spend at least 20 minutes of her time nightly in health-related Facebook groups, genuinely helping and nurturing relationships with other bloggers.
Over time many of these same people she helped eventually would allow her to guest post or became affiliates that helped promote her first e-book (which is no longer available) and helped build up her audience.
One time, she recounted in particular, there was an affiliate with a large list that had promoted one of her e-books, The Gelatin Secret. She remembered counting the sales within a two-hour span: sales were pouring in at an equivalent of $1,000 per hour — significantly more money than she made in her day job. That was a huge moment for her that signaled, “Yes, this is actually working!”
“I’ve always been a sort of How to Win Friends and Influence People kind of person, and [building relationships] was a humongous accelerator for me with no traffic of my own. So to have someone with 10x or 20x the traffic share something, let me guest post, or become an affiliate … Building those affiliate relationships early and often was absolutely paramount or it probably would’ve taken me a lot longer to grow,” said Sylvie.
Then she started to struggle to move beyond $60K.
“When I first made that $60K, it was mostly profit. As we started growing, what I noticed was that my process stayed at that $60K mark for a lot longer than it needed to,” said Sylvie.
It was strange. Her costs did go up, but looking in hindsight, she felt she had been caught up in investing in a bunch of things she didn’t need. It’s what some would call “shiny object syndrome,” where you think the newest and latest software, widget, tool, and doodad will automatically help you grow.
Sylvie was convinced that this was self-sabotage.
“When I look back at the ‘coincidence’ of the numbers, it’s clear that the money was burning a hole in my pocket and I was sabotaging myself by hanging on to it. The revenue would keep climbing and somehow I’d always have that same profit stay at $60K. I didn’t even know this was happening at the time. It was subconscious,” said Sylvie.
Since hitting her goal of $60K within a year of starting her blog, it would be another eight months before she smashed through this $60K wall to cross the $100K mark. There was definitely a story she was telling herself, she said.
Pushing through the $60K-mindset wall
Sylvie knew she had the strategy and the hustle.
What was missing — no, holding her back — was her self-limiting beliefs about needing to shed sweat, blood, and tears and overall work hard to make money and succeed.
To combat these beliefs, Sylvie turned to a mentor who specialized in “money mindsets” and a book called The Big Leap. Both of these invaluable resources essentially gave her permission to want and have more.
That it was OK to want and aim for a six- or even seven-figure business.
Although it didn’t happen overnight, she switched the story she told herself from “making $60K someday would be great and maybe I’ll quit my job” to “No, making six figures is a minimum.” It was in that moment that she decided that she can have all of it and that she didn’t have to compromise.
“[I decided] you know what, I’m just gonna go for the million and we’re going to live however we want because luxury is absolutely a possibility,” said Sylvie.
“I started treating my time as if I already had a million-dollar business, which meant saying no to a lot. For example, I never jumped on the MLM train, and after a small handful of sponsored posts, I turned those down too. The key mindset shift was: Hollywood Homestead is not just a blog. It is a business that has a blog. There’s a big difference,” said Sylvie.
Oftentimes, entrepreneurs undervalue their time and try to do everything themselves. They may tell themselves that they want to keep things small. Or that delegating and training people would be more trouble than they’re worth. And they unknowingly place ceilings on their own growth.
Sylvie recognized that in order to grow, hiring and outsourcing all the easier tasks that could easily be done by someone else was absolutely necessary.
“Make a whole list of the lowest-value tasks that you are doing and track your time. Track it like a nutritionist would ask you to track your food — like legit tracking, not ballparking. Then you realize, ‘Oh shit, I’m really spending 20 hours per week on this BS,’” said Sylvie.
Then you figure out who you can hire part time as a contractor. When you do that, Sylvie recommends being able to front that money before there’s an ROI for 30 days. If it’s your very first hire, plan for 90 days just in case.
Rewriting the stories you tell yourself will be met with a lot of emotional and mental resistance, because no one wants to wake up one day and realize that what they thought all along has been wrong. Being wrong about everything is a quick way to drive someone toward a nervous meltdown.
And now? Sylvie has the bandwidth (and revenue) to start a second brand, helping healthcare professionals create passive income. Meanwhile Hollywood Homestead continues to make six figures passively and is on track for more than $300K this year.
“If you have a really life-changing business — if your business is actually helping people — I would go as far as to say that you have a responsibility to make sure you reach as many people as possible.”