I really can’t get enough of the stories about people who started off in a bad place ($30,000+ in debt, for example), and emerged to not only eliminate their debt, but build a wildly successful business.
Tracie from Penny Pinchin’ Mom fits that description pretty well. Although it started out as a little blog about budgeting and couponing, it has since grown into a massive website with over 180,000 Facebook fans, 2+ million pageviews each month, and more. Penny Pinchin’ Mom isn’t your average coupon blog – Tracie has built an innovate coupon database that provides massive value for her readers.
We talk about a several things in this interview: her story, her successes, and how she’s been able to attract such a large audience. It’s an inspiring story to say the least.
I’ll let Tracie explain the rest.
Tracie, I’m a big fan of Penny Pinchin’ Mom – I really like all the content you’ve put together on coupons, freebies, and overall making the most of a person’s budget. Tell us a bit about your background and journey – What led you to starting Penny Pinchin’ Mom? How has the site evolved over the years?
Before my husband I got married, we knew that I wanted to stay home to raise our kids. It was a struggle (as it is for so many families). In 2007 we were tired of living paycheck to paycheck and did not like the debt we had incurred. A friend introduced us to Dave Ramsey. We ended up reading his books and were hooked!
We put in a lot of hard work and 27 months later, we had paid off more than $37, 000 in debt! Part of our journey included learning how to improve our budget and spend less on the things we needed. I started figuring out how to do this and friends encouraged me to start a site. It took some convincing, but I did and am so glad I had done so.
When I first started, my site was Kansas City Penny Pinchin’ Mama. After about a year, I realized that it was too long and also that I wanted to help families from coast to coast. I rebranded in March 2010 to Penny Pinchin’ Mom.
Since that time, the site has really taken off and grown to more than 180,000 Facebook fans and more than 2 million pageviews per month. I love that I am able to help so many families learn about budgeting and paying down their own debts!
What has been your greatest success (or successes) so far with your blog?
I wish I had one perfect answer as to what I determine my greatest success, but there just is no way to do so. I’ve been fortunate enough to have been on the local news stations numerous times. I also recently even had an appearance on Good Morning America.
While many have seen decreases on Facebook, we are continually growing. I think it is a combination of graphics and readers who love to share the deals. The more sharing and liking you get on your posts, the more Facebook will share your content with others and it grows from there.
As of the time of this interview, here are the stats:
- 183,000 Facebook fans
- 15,100 Subscribers
- 4,523 Pinterest Followers
- 12,150 Twitter Followers
- 245,000 unique visitors
- 2.2 million monthly pageviews
The coupon database you created is really innovative, and I’m sure it’s helped a ton of people. I can also imagine that it’s a lot of work to maintain. I’m a bit of a productivity and systems junkie, so I’d love to know: What are some of the systems you’ve put into place to streamline certain processes with your blog, such as finding coupons and maintaining the database?
I actually pay an outside provider for the database update, which saves me a LOT of time! It is helpful that I do not have to babysit it to make sure it stays up to date.
As far as finding deals and posts, I have some help as there is no way I can do this myself. I have one Virtual Assistant who works 3 days a week for me. I have another one who drafts some of our regular posts and another who even takes care of our local database.
In addition to that, I have readers who help me scout for deals while they are out and about. This helps me bring the best, most relevant content to my readers.
I live with my schedule. We know the time of day certain posts have to be put on the site and schedule ahead if we can. I also use my calendar and reminders to keep me on task. I recently added Active Inbox to my Gmail account and absolutely LOVE it! I can leave notes for my assistants and keep my inbox cleared up — without forgetting to follow up on emails or other tasks as they need to be taken care of.
This is something I often ask personal finance bloggers: Given how saturated and competitive the niche is, what have you done that has helped you build the audience you have today? In other words, what are some things that newer bloggers can do to build an audience when they’ve just recently started?
You have to be original. Sure, you may love what someone else does and see that they are successful, but if you try to copy what they are doing, you are destined for failure.
Readers know when you are not genuine. You just have to do what is in your heart and where it leads you.
To get readers, get involved in social media – but do NOT spam other blogger’s pages. Get involved in Facebook groups and communities to get to know others. The more you are known within your niche, the more you can do guest posts and get some cross promotion.
I don’t recommend cold calling to do a guest post as most bloggers will only work with people they know or who are recommended to them.
I can see you’ve monetized your blog in several different ways, including ads and affiliate links. What do you feel has been your most effective way to monetize the blog that you think other bloggers could benefit from implementing on their sites? Is there something that doesn’t perform nearly as well as you thought it would?
I recently added the DFP network through Google. That allows my ads to all compete to provide the highest paying ad to get placement on my site.
I also find that sliding in affiliate links within posts helps quite a bit. Readers want things to be simple and when I mention a product, coupon or other item, if I can link to it for them, they are more likely to click through.
I also recommend self-linking within your posts. You can do related posts plugins or things. That can keep people clicking on your pages, which can directly increase that ad revenue.
Let’s take a step back and look generally at running a website as a stay-at-home parent: If you had to take your best advice or inspirational thought and put it into one sentence or phrase, what would that be?
Life is short. Don’t sacrifice your family time just to push out ‘one more post.’ [Click here to tweet this]
What are your favorite online resources?
Active Inbox for Gmail – paid for gmail organization
PicMonkey – for graphics
That is really it – I don’t use too many resources as for me, too many of them clouds my brain and I find I am less productive.
Finally, where can people find you online?
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