You hear me say it all the time…the riches are in the niches. Today’s guest on the podcast will show you how to find financial freedom in a niche blog.
Cassidy Tuttle is the creator behind Succulents and Sunshine, a blog solely devoted to the care and propagation of succulents.
That sounds limiting, doesn’t it? A blog that talks only about succulents?
I think you might be shocked at all that Cassidy has been able to accomplish with her blog. I’m talking products, courses, and more.
Cassidy is more than a blogger; she is a businesswoman.
But, before we dive into my conversation with Cassidy, I want to ask you a question: have you listened to 5 or more episodes of this podcast but you don’t have your own blog yet?
If so, you are not alone!
My husband and business partner, David, and I have noticed a trend among some of our listeners; a lot of you want to start an online business or a blog but you have no idea where or how to begin.
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How to Start an Online Business
I have discovered over the many years I’ve been in online business that many bloggers start their blogs to fill a hole that they found in the market, and that was certainly true for Cassidy.
She began a photography blog back in 2012 to show off the projects she was working on. And during a particularly harsh winter, she purchased two succulents and placed them in her window.
When she tried to find information on how to care for them, she couldn’t find anything. She began posting about them on her photography blog, (she says they are very photogenic plants!) and explaining how she was caring for them.
What was “kind of a happy accident” turned into a business when Cassidy realized she was getting organic search traffic from Google to the posts she was writing about her succulents?
On Valentine’s Day of 2013, she purchased the URL for Succulents and Sunshine and began to pursue it as a real business.
How to Create Online Products
Cassidy was earning some income from ads when she moved her business to succulents. She had ads on her photography site and she also placed ads on her new site. But if you look at her site now, you will also see products for sale.
In 2014, based on the Google search traffic she was getting, Cassidy decided to write an ebook on the most popular topic on her blog: propagating succulents.
She released the ebook to her tiny email list, (which was mostly just an RSS feed at the time) and she made $1K from her $10 ebook.
While Cassidy was initially disappointed in the amount she earned, it didn’t take her long to realize that the ebook would continue to earn money forever. And it did. In fact, it still brings in at least $500 every single month.
Cassidy also continued writing ebooks (she has 5 currently), and eventually, she branched out into courses (she has 2 as of today), succulent ID cards (150+ plants), and a membership site.
How to Use Tripwires to Increase Online Sales
Tripwires are something I’ve been talking about a lot lately and something that Cassidy has used very effectively to increase the amount of revenue she is bringing in.
When a customer purchases one of her ebooks for $10, they are given the option to purchase the entire bundle of 5 ebooks for $25 instead. And her conversion rate on this tripwire is an incredible 35%!
Cassidy has tested several other tripwires but none has brought in the increased revenue like the book bundles.
How to Test Email Opt-in Strategies
Testing is so crucial when you’re developing products. I love that Cassidy is always testing to see what works and what her audience responds to.
In 2019, she spent some time testing her email opt-ins and how she was asking site visitors to sign up for her list. She began with a typical pop-up, but she decided to switch things up and see what happened.
Instead of the pop-up lead magnet, she wrote a paragraph about watering succulents.
The text offered a cheat sheet for knowing how much to water your plants and how to know if you’ve watered too much. At the end of the paragraph, she had a button that said, “Click Here to Get the Cheat Sheet.”
Only then did the box pop up for the visitor to enter their email address.
This testing was a huge success, as her opt-in conversion rate more than doubled with the new system.
How to Find New Blog Income Strategies
At this point, I know you might still be surprised by how Cassidy has been able to take a blog about succulents and have so much amazing success with it.
I asked her to share with us how she earns an income from the blog and what her percentages look like from her varied income streams.
Cassidy’s own products make up about 40% of the blog’s revenue. Roughly half of that comes from the digital downloads she offers. (Ebooks, ID cards.) The other 50% of that is course sales.
Courses, while a newer piece of her overall strategy, has become an important part of the business. Simply put, courses are a higher-ticket item, so even if you sell fewer of them, you still earn more money.
How to Create Content in a Tiny Niche
You all already know my feelings about niching down, but I wanted to hear Cassidy’s take on the pros and cons of blogging in a tight niche.
When she travels to blogging conferences, Cassidy hears the same thing over and over from other bloggers:
“How in the world do you come up with enough material to blog about succulents on a regular basis?”
The thing is, Cassidy never has to guess what her site visitors are coming to the site for.
Whereas a lifestyle blogger might not know if her audience prefers her recipes, or the DIY projects she shares, or her fashion posts, Cassidy knows exactly what her audience wants.
That takes all the guesswork out of content creation. Cassidy also uses the questions members of her Facebook group ask on a regular basis to create content that answers those questions.
Why You Might Want to Put Content Behind a Paywall
After several years of building out her site, Cassidy no longer considers herself a true blogger.
One new piece of content is added to the site weekly right now, but that will stop at the end of this year. (2020) Why stop adding new content to the site?
It’s simple really.
Succulents and Sunshine gets a ton of traffic, so Cassidy doesn’t need to continue creating content in order to drive traffic. The site contains all the content someone would need in order to grow and propagate most succulents.
And for those who want more, there are the courses and the membership site.
Cassidy is beginning to add new content, besides the one piece of content per week, to the membership area.
Her business model is one of providing helpful free content for the masses, but asking those who want to go farther to pay for the additional content.
What I love about Cassidy’s business is how it continues to evolve and grow as her customers tell her what they want. She has developed a level of trust with her customers that is amazing.
Another thing I love is that while her membership site isn’t huge by most standards, she has members who have been there since the beginning simply because they want the one-on-one attention the membership provides them.
So now I’ll ask you: what does your audience need one-on-one help with? What are you currently giving away for free that you could put behind a paywall?
Last thing – did you hear Cassidy’s one piece of advice for new bloggers? I’ll give you a hint: listen in at 49:15 and you’ll hear what it is!
Then, join me in our Facebook group as I discuss my favorite takeaways from this episode.
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