Today’s “I Want to Be” Series features Mara Strom who works from home full time on her deal blog, Kosher on a Budget. She also enjoys inspiring her readers with details of her family’s journey to get out of $30,000 in debt in 6 months. Mara also has speaking engagements around the country sharing how to find the best kosher deals. Find out how to connect with Mara at the end of this article.
How long have you had your business?
I have been working for myself for 10 years, but my current business is my blog, which I started in the summer of 2010.
What led you to pursue it?
After freelance writing for various clients around the web for three years, I was ready to start writing for myself, too! My blog started out as a fun thing I did for an hour or less a day, but it quickly morphed into something bigger than that. I was so eager to share my knowledge of saving money AND keeping kosher - and it seemed that there was a thirst for it, as well.
Are you full time or part time?
I am full-time (meaning I work at least 35-40 hours a week, usually more); however, since I work from home, I definitely don't keep 9-5 hours. I work in the mornings when my kiddos are in school and preschool and then in the evenings after they go to bed. I usually steal an hour or two in the afternoons as well.
How do you market your business?
Word of mouth is my primary marketer, both people telling their friends directly about my blog - and by sharing posts online. Facebook has been essential for driving traffic as well.
What is your favorite part of the business?
Work-wise, I love working for myself, being able to set my own hours, and writing about something I feel so passionate about. The craft of writing is very enjoyable to me - but even better is getting to write about what matters to me!
My blogging has also led to some amazing opportunities to teach to groups of students around the country. I've been as far west as Phoenix and as far north as Boston - teaching to Jewish communal groups about budgeting, couponing and saving money. This has been an incredible opportunity for me - and I love being invited into people's synagogues and Jewish community centers to help spread the word!
Whether it's through teaching or writing, I really love knowing that I am able to help people; when I hear from readers who tell me that I have helped them to save money, get on a budget, and start paying off their debt - it means the world to me!
What one question do you get most from people about your business?
I often get asked how one makes money from a blog? They're curious about the nuts and bolts of affiliate links, advertising, sponsored posts, etc.
What one myth or misconception do you want to dispel about the work you do?
I'm not sure that my readers think this, but there's definitely an idea out there that women who blog and happen to have children are "just mommy bloggers". I think it's so dismissive - and grossly minimizes the creativity and influence that women have online.
What advice do you have for others who want to get into a similar opportunity?
Go slow ... and have a backup plan. I didn't start working full-time on my blog until I was earning enough income from it to replace my freelance writing projects. I also didn't spend money on my blog until I was making money.
If you want to blog for a living, know that you are entering a highly saturated field. That doesn't mean you can't make a go of it and be successful. But, in my opinion, when the online world is so noisy, you really need to find your own unique voice - and niche - in order to be heard above the din.
What is the first step?
Just start. Write authentically. Write about what matters to you - and what you think you'd want to read about. The readers will come, eventually, but the first thing you need to do is just take that leap and start!
What websites or books do you recommend for tips?
There are a number of great blogs about the art (and business) of blogging, including Copyblogger, Problogger, Blogging with Amy and Savvy Blogging.