We’re so honored to have interviewed Tamara Floyd of the hugely popular NaturalHairRules.com about how she turned her blog into a 6-figure business and her full-time gig! If you have aspirations of owning your own blog and one day working for yourself, you’re in for a treat. Below Tamara explains how she grew her annual blogging income from $0 to $100,000 in 2 years.
When and why did you start your blog Natural Hair Rules? What was your inspiration?
I started Natural Hair Rules in October 2008, two years after transitioning to natural hair. I quickly became the natural hair guru in my circle of friends and family. There was so much we didn’t know about our natural hair. You couldn’t go to retail stores and find products specifically for natural hair. I knew I needed a place to share all the information that I was learning, so I started the blog. It began as my own personal hair journey and has grown to one of the number one sites for natural hair with a following of more than 700,000.
Now you work on your blog full-time. Were you working full-time prior to taking the leap? If so, how did you know you could make blogging your sole gig?
I’m an entrepreneur out of necessity. I recently celebrated 7 years of self-employment. I worked full-time at an non-profit organization when I started my blog. Natural Hair Rules was never meant to be a full-time gig; it was a creative outlet and my personal hair journal. I didn’t even think it was possible to monetize or make any sustainable income from blogging.
When I put in my two-weeks notice at that job, I felt like I had no choice. The job and the work environment weren’t serving me. I really didn’t have a plan. I figured I would get another non-profit job or volunteer. But I had a friend with her own business that encouraged me to start charging instead of volunteering.
I already had a marketing, public relations and event management service company that used to make side money. This became my full-time gig until I had my oldest son.
I had to find a way to make my business work for me and not the other way around.
Anyone who has a service-based business will tell you that you have to pound the pavement to book clients and events. But I didn’t want to spend any time away from my baby. In order to do this, I had to find a way to make my business work for me and not the other way around.
I still didn’t know if I could make any money blogging. The turning point for me was having friends that blogged making good money. I did a lot of research on monetize and began to try out different things until I found the best fit for me and my blog turned into business. Some of the things that have worked for me are ad networks, affiliate marketing, selling my own products and services.
Were you comfortable with websites before blogging? Did you take any courses or did you teach yourself everything digital?
No, not at all. I’m mostly self-taught. There was and still is a lot of trial and error. Experience is the best teacher but I took my first online course in 2014 which was Marie Forleo’s B-School. I wish I’d taken this course sooner. I learned so much and continue to learn each year through the course.
Many new bloggers struggle with just getting started. In the beginning, how often would you post and how did you come up with your topics?
That’s a great question. I struggled with the same thing. I did what I could. If I could post 3 times one week I would do that. But no less than once a week. My recommendation is to first do what works for you. You want to make sure that you are consistent with your posting schedule and that you can maintain it.
To build a rapport with your audience, it’s great to let your readers know when they can expect the new content. This also holds you accountable.
What is a typical day like for you as a full-time blogger?
It really depends on the day of the week. I alternate between working out and having full work days in addition to getting my children ready for the day (I have two boys, ages 2 and 5). I usually wake up 30 mins to an hour before them and get myself prepared for the day. I like to meal prep my breakfast and lunches 2 to 3 days in advance. It makes my mornings easier especially on workout days.
Then there’s getting the little ones ready and fed. My husband is a big part of my morning routine. He takes over after he gets home from his workout. He gets my oldest on the school bus and my youngest to daycare.
I’m a soloprenuer but I work with a virtual assistant and contributors. I outline the all editorial content, social media marketing, and newsletter marketing for the site.
What was the tipping point for Natural Hair Rules? When did it start to blow up?!
The tipping point was at the end of 2012. My mentors gave me a ticket to a blogger conference. I was so honored that they thought enough to invest in me and my blog.
But I didn’t have the money to go. In that moment, I was so disappointed. I couldn’t understand how I had invested so much time into starting and maintaining a blog and had nothing to show for it.
I was working for the blog instead of it working for me. This was the moment I realized that I needed to find a way to monetize the site. I needed my site to work for me so I could do more to support family.
I started experimenting with different ways to monetize my site. I tried things such as ad networks, affiliates, freelance writing, social media management, and selling more products (I was already selling Natural Hair Rules t-shirts).
Within a year, I saw a huge increase in revenue. The first year I made real money, like I completely replaced my full-time income. I made about $40,000 that year. The next year I increased my income by 60% and made more that $100,000. Each year, the site’s income grows.
You have over 600.5K followers on Facebook and 45K followers on Twitter! Congrats – that’s phenomenal! What advice can you give to us green to social media?
Social media is about consistent, engaging conversation. Social media has changed a lot over the years, but people still interact with content that they like and that speaks to them and not at them. Ask questions and respond to comments.
If you want to grow your social media presence, talk about things that your audience is interested in. Do it consistently. This may mean daily or multiple times a day in some cases. It just really depends on how much growth you want to see.
You also have to give your audience a call-to-action that aligns with your social media goals. If you want your following to grow, ask people to like or following your social media accounts. Don’t assume people will just do what you want them to do.
If you want to grow your social media presence, talk about things that your audience is interested in. Do it consistently.
Can you share a business challenge you’ve overcome that would help other budding beauty bloggers?
My biggest challenge was going from making $0 to $100K a year. This was something that I didn’t think was even possible. But when you start making money online it’s not hard to make over 6-figures.
In the beginning, I was not making any money. I said I was only making change for my growing Starbucks habit! I really didn’t have a clue how to make consist income with my blog.
The first time I made any money with my blog, I was asked to promote and share a book. I was so excited. I really went over and beyond for that opportunity.
Since I was making money consistently with my marketing, public relations, and event management company that was my focus. Natural Hair Rules was more of a creative outlet.
I have great mentors that are bloggers that have been very influential to me. Through these relationships, I received freelance opportunities for the blog which helped to supplement full-time income.
After about 5 years of starting the blog I began to exceed full-time income from any of my previous jobs. This money came from freelance writing, social media management, affiliates, and ad income. The next year, my income grew by 60% to over $100,000 a year.
I noticed that the more traffic you have the more ad and affiliate income you get. I made sure to focus on my site’s SEO, publishing great content, sharing and re-sharing. I also hired a team of contributors to help with creating the content and sharing. You can find out more here.
How do you stay up-to-date on all the changes in digital marketing and social media?
I stay up-to-date by paying attention to trends on social media. I note what’s resonating with my audience and what questions they are asking. My job is to make sure the information is easily accessible to my readers and followers.
What’s next for Tamara and Natural Hair Rules in 2017?
Like every year, I hope to continue to learn and grow as a writer, blogger, and entrepreneur. Natural Hair Rules will continue to provide the best content for growing longer, healthier hair. You will see more ebooks, workshops, and content upgrades.