Let’s chat about how I make money as a content creator.
Hi, I’m Hilary Erickson. I’ve been “blogging” since 2005 and I have taken it as a full time income with a couple of websites, a podcast, and courses. So, how does it all work?
This episode was inspired by my blogging for income series.
In this episode
Get my content creator coaching at hilaryerickson.com
I am with Mediavine
I have a second site The Pregnancy Nurse
WPTechs does my hosting and tech support.
I use Rank IQ
Jamie at Hashtag Legal does my legal stuff.
How many hours do content creators actually work?
My best tips for making it as a content creator.
Other things that might interest you
Producer: Drew Erickson
[00:00:00.130] – Hilary Erickson
Hey, guys, welcome to the final episode of season three, episode 150. Today we are pivoting. We are talking about how I make money. It’s a question I get a lot, and I think a lot of people are curious about it, so I thought it would be a good way to wind up this season. Let’s untangle it.
[00:00:26.910] – Hilary Erickson
Hi, I’m Hilary. Erickson, the Curly Head behind the Pulling Curls podcast, where we untangle pregnancy, parenting, home, and even travel. We know there’s no right answer for every family, but hopefully we can spark some ideas that will work for yours. Life tangled just like my hair.
[00:00:49.090] – Hilary Erickson
Okay, guys, before we get started, I don’t know if you understand how important reviews are in order for podcasts to get found, but they’re super important. I mean, I’m going to explain a lot of other things today, but let me just explain that reviews are super important. Thank you. For everyone who’s left one or who will leave one before we get started, I will say this is super awkward. I mean, I have always been really open about how much I’m making, what our family budget is.
[00:01:12.950] – Hilary Erickson
I have a family budget of our actual family budget that’s on my website. So I think finances are really important to be, like, free and open with. But it is still awkward. And I’m definitely not doing this to be like, ha ha, look how much money I make. Because let’s all take a reality check.
[00:01:29.080] – Hilary Erickson
Remember that my website was started in 2005, and while I did start amping it up really hard in 2014, you got to think it’s been 2014 until now that I’m more stabilized in all these different kinds of things. The website did not start making money overnight from about 2005 to 2014, probably in 2008, I think I started having blog her advertising on my site, and I would make about $30 every four months. Yeah. So highly lucrative. I remember once I was able to go buy a bra, and I felt really good about that. I did it for a long time because I love it. I still love it. It’s a great job. I absolutely love it.
[00:02:02.360] – Hilary Erickson
I love writing. I love graphic design. I love talking to different kinds of people. So I am doing the things that I really enjoy so often. I have friends that are like, “how do I make money blogging?” I’m like, “oh, do you love to write?” No. “Do you love graphic design?” No. I’m just like, “I have nothing for you.” Then I don’t know why you would pick this job.
[00:02:21.720] – Hilary Erickson
I’d be like, “oh, I want to be a nurse, or do you like blood?” No. “Do you like people?” No. I do think that there are things you need to love in order to be able to do this.
[00:02:29.820] – Hilary Erickson
And this isn’t saying that you couldn’t have a website, but if you want to be a blogger, which I think is officially my title, although I like to call it a media Empire. If you want to be a blogger, you really need to love writing, but you can be a YouTuber and really love video. There’s lots of things you can do. So first I want to start out that there are four streams of income for me personally. Now, there might be other types of income that people online are making money from, but these are the four main ones.
[00:02:54.710] – Hilary Erickson
So the first one is advertising. For me, that is ads on my website. I do not have sponsored ads on the podcast. That doesn’t mean that I’m not open to sponsored ads on the podcast, but I don’t think that my podcast actually gets enough listens at this point in time in order to make that an amount that I would be okay with, because I would be putting those people’s links on the podcast and I want it to be a certain amount in order to put a link on my website. So I’m kind of weird about that.
[00:03:20.860] – Hilary Erickson
Plus I sponsor each episode by my courses and we’re going to talk about that. But advertising, just full disclosure, I’m with a company called Media Vine. I’ve been with them for a super long time. I love them. I think they have blogging best interests at heart.
[00:03:33.300] – Hilary Erickson
I still think they’re kind of weird and every once in a while I feel a little skeedy and sketchy about them. But ultimately I think they’re the best advertising network out there because they are themselves. So whenever I have a problem, they’re able to fix it really quickly, whereas a lot of advertising agencies are part of a bigger advertising agency and so they aren’t able to pivot and quickly fix things that might be problematic. Love Media Vine. I believe you have to have 50,000.
[00:03:56.700] – Hilary Erickson
I think it’s sessions could be page views in order to be on Mediavine. If you have less than that, you could check out as Zoey. But I think you need to be really aware that it’s not going to be a whole lot of money that you’re leaving on the table by not having ads on. Before you get to that 50,000, it would be about 1000 a month, I think, if you had 50,000 sessions. Yeah.
[00:04:16.870] – Hilary Erickson
Okay, so that’s advertising. There are lots of ads you can put on your website that I choose not to, because I really see my websites as a way to lead people to my courses. And so while I think most people are blind to most advertising, there are some that I just find too intrusive that I don’t put on. So I could make more on advertising on my website, but I feel like it’s a happy medium. I do have it on both websites.
[00:04:38.210] – Hilary Erickson
I should mention this. I have two websites, so I have Pulling Curls, which is my main website. That’s the one that’s been around since 2005 and in 2020 I started the Pregnancy Nurse which is my second website. It’s only pregnancy and it has social media and all those different things as well. Anyway, both sites have advertising.
[00:04:56.020] – Hilary Erickson
I will say that if you make a second site it can sometimes be a little bit easier to get them on the advertising just because I have a relationship with Media Vine, but their line is that you have to have 500 first or second site. So something to think about. Okay, so the second stream of income would be affiliate Income and I think this is what is when I started affiliate income I was like is this an MLM? Because it sort of can feel MLM. But ultimately I am just advertising for these people in a genuine and honest way and I’m paid if people click through my links and purchase this product through that advertising.
[00:05:30.270] – Hilary Erickson
So ultimately I’m just an Advertiser for them. I partner with them. Some of these companies I’m really close with, if you follow me on Instagram, I’m really tight with Getaway today. They are in every single Disney post I do and I mean I’m so tightly tethered with them that if they went down it would be a rough go for my Disney post in general. So the affiliate companies that I work with are pretty limited at this point.
[00:05:51.940] – Hilary Erickson
I mean I’ve signed up and I work for a lot of affiliate partnerships, but in general, the ones I work with Getaway today, Bosch Mixers, Stitch Fix, Zion Healthcare I am an affiliate partner for them. It’s just a company that you believe in. These are all things that I used before, with the exception of Bosch. I didn’t use the Bosh until they sent me a Bosch full disclosure. But these are things I’ve used Getaway today forever.
[00:06:15.450] – Hilary Erickson
So when I found out that they had an affiliate program I was like, this is just absolutely perfect. By the way, if you go with Getaway Today and book a package with at least two nights hotel and two tickets, you can get $10 off your ticket order with Code Curls Ten. Anyway, they’re just companies I love so I’m tethered with them. There are ones that I use every once in a while that aren’t as close to me. Oh, there are some courses that I affiliate with that blend well with mine, like parents who are looking for newborn classes or breastfeeding classes.
[00:06:41.080] – Hilary Erickson
So I work with those in an affiliate partnership as well and then they affiliate with me. So that’s kind of a symbiotic relationship with those courses. If you have something that you want to affiliate with, you could affiliate just on your own Instagram, you just want to Google. So let’s say you love BIC Pens and you really want to be an affiliate with them. You could just Google Bickpen affiliate and just see what they have showing up.
[00:07:02.320] – Hilary Erickson
Most of them are on like big affiliate networks like Share Sale, Commission Junction, Impact, radius. And once you’re in those, you can usually sign up for another program pretty easily. Yeah, and these can be pretty lucrative if you play your cards right. I will say that my affiliate usage has gone down the more I have worked on the third income stream, which is my own products, which for me in general would be courses, although I do have a few books that I sell as well. So my courses I have an online prenatal class.
[00:07:27.220] – Hilary Erickson
I have the organized home. It’s a home organization class and I have a family routine. More like organizing the people in your home. I always say that I don’t think I’m a great parent, but I think I can organize the people in my home pretty well. So that’s my third income stream.
[00:07:41.030] – Hilary Erickson
It is my largest stream. It’s about 66% of my income. I started my prenatal class in 2015. It started as a book, then I added a few videos and I added more videos. So the beauty is with the courses, you can always adjust it and change it and make it better.
[00:07:55.320] – Hilary Erickson
And then finally, sponsored posts. Now, I do not do a lot of sponsored posts anymore. Every once in a while I work with Cricket and I do one. But in general I just prefer affiliate because it’s a little bit freer to explore the brand as I want to. Whereas a sponsored post often is very like you need to say X-Y-Z and I don’t love doing that.
[00:08:15.820] – Hilary Erickson
I’m also lucky that my courses have filled in my income enough to where I don’t need to do them. I definitely did a lot of sponsored posts in the beginning, and I’m grateful for the income and some of those companies I’m really proud to have been able to represent and some of them have disappeared, or I would prefer that I didn’t represent them. So I know a lot of people want to know how long it took to make a full time income off of this. So personally, in my mind, I think a full time income is about $60,000 a year. That would be a full time nurse’s income in general, plus or minus, probably more now, thank goodness.
[00:08:47.270] – Hilary Erickson
But it probably took me into 2017 to start making that. I would think about three years, keeping in mind that I also had years and years of blog experience and all that kind of stuff leading up to it. And back when I started, it was just easier on social media than it is now. So I’m not saying it’s impossible, but it is difficult and it’s a lot more difficult now than it used to be. So we’ve talked about the ways that I make money.
[00:09:11.210] – Hilary Erickson
I do want to just kind of take you guys along for the costs that are involved with this type of a website media thing. First off, you have hosting. So I host a podcast. I hope I host my website and I host courses. Those are all on separate different hosting platforms.
[00:09:26.000] – Hilary Erickson
That’s not a huge amount of money. And I bundle tech into my website hosting so that he fixes anything that goes wrong with my site. I did that for myself for a long time, but it takes me forever. It’s not something I’m very good at or know very well. And so having a tech guy has been amazing and he’s awesome.
[00:09:44.840] – Hilary Erickson
I work with Thane from WP Tech. I’ll put the link in the show notes. Anyway, he’s amazing. I have a CPA and I pay for accounting software. I do all of my own bookkeeping.
[00:09:54.160] – Hilary Erickson
I do not hire any of that out. I do hire out my taxes. I have a guy that I trust too. I have as a CPA. So the CPA was my first hire and the tech guy was probably my second hire.
[00:10:04.450] – Hilary Erickson
They don’t work for me. I’m hiring their companies. But for a long time I did all of this on my own. In fact, I didn’t have hosting for a long time because I was on blogger for the first almost a year. And then I finally took the plunge and bought hosting and all that kind of stuff to make it go on WordPress.
[00:10:19.670] – Hilary Erickson
So I would not recommend being on blogger anymore. It has not proved super effective for most of them, even though there were a lot of diehard blogger fans out there, especially if you have advertising. It just is so much better when you’re on WordPress. It will pay for itself if you get some hosting. Okay.
[00:10:34.130] – Hilary Erickson
I also have two virtual assistants that work for me. One of them does Pinterest and she edits some of my posts for SEO. I have another one that also scans my email for me. She tries to take out any of the negative comments because they can really bring a person down. And she also does some editing for me.
[00:10:48.720] – Hilary Erickson
So those are the two people. And I also one of my sons. I have him hired on to do video editing. He does all of the video editing. He does a great job.
[00:10:57.520] – Hilary Erickson
If anyone is looking for a video editor, I could probably get you one at a good price. Just real simple editing. But he does a great job and he actually has his own YouTube channel that he’s along the way where he was editing my videos. He learned how to edit his own videos and he’s monetized. I am not monetized in that it’s not an area for discussion.
[00:11:14.720] – Hilary Erickson
And I also hire my daughter. She does the transcripts for the podcast. So hiring your kids, especially when they’re under 18, can be an amazing write off. So talk to your CPA if you want to do that. I also have insurance.
[00:11:26.600] – Hilary Erickson
I have liability insurance and cyber liability for the websites and all my social media. I am buying plugins or software to just run different things like I have some software that helps me with my SEO, which is search engine optimization. I use Rank IQ, which I absolutely love. I use like a calendar program to schedule people for the podcast. It’s just different things.
[00:11:47.060] – Hilary Erickson
I am a huge fan of getting lifetime licenses, which I often get off of like AppSumo or just when people are offering a lifetime license. I just love paying for it. I mean, it has come back to bite me a couple of times, but there are some software that I bought a lifetime license for that has just been amazing for me, so I’m really grateful for that. And then there’s the cost of taking courses and going to conferences, and that’s a real variable cost. I also find a lot of joy out of going to conferences, so that’s nice too.
[00:12:15.290] – Hilary Erickson
And I try not to take courses anymore. We’ll talk a little bit more about that, but I definitely have taken courses and some of them have been helpful. Some of them have not. And then legal. Jamie at Hashtaglegal does like my trademark applications.
[00:12:28.660] – Hilary Erickson
[00:12:48.590] – Hilary Erickson
2020 was a huge year for online courses, and it has shrunk since then. That can be disappointing. But one thing I’m big about is I have a big ultimate goal, especially for prenatal classes. I am super passionate about educating people for their delivery if they can pay me or not. By the way, if you’re out there and you’re looking for prenatal class and mine is out of your reach, although it is one of the most affordable ones online, please email me.
[00:13:12.170] – Hilary Erickson
We can make something work. It is a huge passion of mine, and so I love that. The other thing is you have to be really mindful about the requirements and everything. How to disclose your affiliate agreements and how to do that on your website, how to do that on TikTok, how to do that on Instagram and just being really clear and open and honest and upfront with your audience. I’ve heard of people like hiding the disclosure tab on Instagram stories or stuff like that not cool.
[00:13:37.020] – Hilary Erickson
That’s not cool, because not only do they not trust their audience enough to know that they’re being honest with what they’re showing to them, but it’s not cool to the FTC, that’s for sure. You could definitely get taken down for that. So also learning how to read contracts and when you need a trademark, when you don’t, when you need to turn into an LLC. There’s a lot of the business practices behind it that can be really frustrating and hard. So as fun as it seems to be like a media Empire mogul like me, there is a lot of behind the scenes website breaking.
[00:14:05.560] – Hilary Erickson
Thank goodness. I have tech just like reading the contracts, writing the contracts, and just trying to make it work. Like I work with affiliates and sometimes they work out great and sometimes they do absolutely nothing at all. So that can be hard and frustrating. And there are a lot of frustrating parts of owning your business.
[00:14:20.920] – Hilary Erickson
It is amazing. I love that one of the other frustrating parts is a lot of times people think that I’m just available because she just blogs. I think people think the website just makes money and it does in general. There is not a whole lot in my day to day that is affecting my website income. It is just the day today that piles up and creates the income.
[00:14:40.590] – Hilary Erickson
I think a lot of people think I just work a couple of hours a day. I would say that this is a six to 8 hours a day job. Not every day. I definitely take enough vacation to be like a C suite employee. So I’m probably off four to five weeks out of the year I take off, but I’m also on at 08:00 P.m..
[00:14:56.990] – Hilary Erickson
If I see an email come through that somebody is having a hard time getting on a course, I jump up and I work on it. That doesn’t mean to say that my VA doesn’t do a lot of those different things too. But also I feel on and present for this all the time. So going out of town is really important to me because it helps me feel when I’m not at home that it is more of a time off and I’m able to take that time off. Okay, so let’s circle back to blogging courses.
[00:15:20.050] – Hilary Erickson
Ultimately, I feel like blogging courses make it sort of like an MLM because I feel like people will be like, you know, I’ve been thinking about doing like a Disney Instagram or whatever and somehow something shows up in your feed. It’s a bajillion dollar course on how to be more present on Instagram or stuff like that. And I feel like they act like it’s so easy and that anyone, a monkey could do it and then you buy that course and you realize that it really is just a lot of consistency. I really feel like this boils down to showing up, being willing to try new things, and having your own voice. I feel like those are the three things that it boils down to because while I do similar content to a lot of people, my own voice is what makes pulling curls and the pregnancy nurse different than everybody else.
[00:16:03.160] – Hilary Erickson
And most of it I really couldn’t learn from a course. I will say that I did take a course in summer 2020 did not work out well. She said some horrible things about me when I said that the course wasn’t working and that has stayed in my brain and sometimes I think, well she mentioned that I should do this and that I would make more money doing XYZ and I’ll try it and it always ends up like biting me in the butt. So learning to listen to myself is something that I’m really trying in 2022 it’s so easy to think that somebody else has the big secrets, right? And I think that that is true.
[00:16:34.320] – Hilary Erickson
If there’s something that you’re just like, I have no idea how to make a segmented newsletter then I do think a course or some coaching can be very effective on a specific topic that you are struggling with. However, when you’ve done this as long as me, I feel like this just isn’t a whole lot that other people can offer and the reality is that it is 100% the consistency of showing up. I think a lot of people think they could be an influencer or a blogger and then it would just take a few hours. But it is a six to 8 hours a day job. Now I do take probably a full four to five weeks of vacation if you combined it all where I go somewhere and I can fit in lunch with a friend or I can fit in walking with a friend, but a lot of times when I go walking with friends I’m walking with business friends and so I’m talking business during the time and also his job never leaves at 08:00 p.m.
[00:17:24.890] – Hilary Erickson
When I get an email from a student saying they can’t log in like I jump off the couch and I fix it. So I’m still working, even though my normal hours that I’m probably working is probably about 535 40 05:00 A.m. To 03:00 p.m.. Now within that time I get dressed, I shower so I get up and I like to do some intention about my business and kind of make my to do list and really focus on what I want to do. I get kids off to school and I really like having different things of my day so I really like breaking up, riding with throwing in some laundry.
[00:17:54.700] – Hilary Erickson
I like that a lot of people don’t, but I do like that. So I’m not doing a ton of housework that is a podcast for another day, but I like being able to put in household chores during the day. So one other thing I wanted to mention you guys is I actually am starting an online content creation coaching of my own.
[00:18:12.180] – Hilary Erickson
It’s HilaryErickson.com Hilary only has one L hilaryerickson.com and the idea is for me to coach you on a specific subject and then we’ll do a follow up email like if you have questions after you’ve tried to implement it and then you’re on your own. The idea isn’t for me to get you to spend like thousands and thousands of dollars making me your monthly business coach.
[00:18:32.420] – Hilary Erickson
The idea is just to really help you. Let’s say you want to do a newsletter. Like, I’m really good on segmented newsletters because I literally write about everything. So I don’t want people who sign up for Disney to learn about pregnancy. Those people don’t want to know about both of those things.
[00:18:47.150] – Hilary Erickson
So newsletters like websites, landing pages, these are things that I’m all just like really good on. And while I don’t think I know any secrets, I could either go in and make some tweaks or give you some ideas on how to adjust it on your own or how to test things with your audience. I know online courses everyone thinks is like the be all, end all. But I think especially if you’ve done something in your own situation, you already have some information on your own. An online coach can really help you take that information and make it work in your business.
[00:19:14.780] – Hilary Erickson
Anyway, you can find me over there. It’s not going to be a big revenue stream for me, but I think I do have a lot of information that business owners could use. I also failed to mention that I actually have a blogging for income section of my website. If you look under, etc. Or miscellaneous, it’s kind of hidden.
[00:19:30.650] – Hilary Erickson
There’s a Blogging for Income section where I give my blogging income reports up until I started making $10,000 a month, and it just felt weird. So that might give you an idea of what I did, how it worked. I tell you, like all the plugins and all the things I started using, although it’s different now, but you guys might be interested in that as well. Anyway, that’s how I make money. Remember consistency.
[00:19:50.370] – Hilary Erickson
Remember to be your own voice and to try different things. Because for a long time, I mean, like a year I hadn’t been in it forever. I was like, I’m never going to write a book, never going to have courses, I’m never gonna podcast. I tried some of the things and I just thought, yes, that’s something I really enjoy. Keep it the things you enjoy.
[00:20:07.200] – Hilary Erickson
Also, it would be my fourth pillar, I guess, be consistent, be you try new things and then do things you enjoy. Because so often I see people that are like, I just want to be home with my family and that’s the way I’m going to make money. But they don’t love doing it and you’re going to burn out so fast. The other thing that I think has helped me from not burning out so fast is that I literally write about everything. I can hardly even think maybe sports, because I don’t understand sports, nor do I enjoy them.
[00:20:31.070] – Hilary Erickson
But I really write about travel, Disney, vaginas, pregnancy. If I get up and I’m like assigned, quote, unquote assigned, because I do assign myself stuff, a certain topic, I can push that to another day and write about Disneyland. If that’s something that I really want to do that day and so it’s been nice to do that. I know a lot of people say you can’t build a website that’s about anything and maybe you can’t anymore. I started when it was earlier but it’s really nice to be able to do whatever the heck I want because I talk about all the things.
[00:20:59.500] – Hilary Erickson
Anyway, I hope you guys found this helpful. If you did, come join me over on Instagram for the post about today’s episode. I would love for you to make a comment. Tell me what you enjoyed about this episode. If you want to hear more, I’m willing to do a part two if you guys have other questions. Otherwise we are actually taking next week off prepping for season four but we will see you in two weeks. I’m actually having Jen Hamilton. I don’t know if you’ve seen her on TikTok but we are talking about labor supplies and then the week after that we’re talking about spanking so season four has a lot to offer already. I hope I will see you guys inside.
[00:21:28.980] – Hilary Erickson
Thanks so much for joining us on today’s episode. We know you have lots of options for your ears and we are glad that you chose us. We dropped episodes weekly and until next time we hope you have a tangle free day.