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The Blogger Genius Podcast with Jillian Leslie

Apr 17, 2019

My guest this week is Crystal Paine, founder of MoneySavingMom, host of the Crystal Paine Show podcast, and a New York Times bestselling author.

Over the past ten years, Crystal has built her blog into a 7-figure business.

In this episode, Crystal shares how she grew a wildly successful business by serving her audience, especially using Instagram and Facebook.

From Blog to 7-Figure Business

When Crystal and her husband got married 16 years ago, they set an audacious goal. They planned to get him through law school completely debt-free. He would then work as an attorney and she would raise their children.

Soon after they started this journey, Crystal found out that she was expecting. They were excited about their growing family but Crystal soon had to quit her job due to severe morning sickness.

They had been dependent on her income to help while her husband was in law school and now it was gone.

Instead of feeling sorry for herself, Crystal used that time in bed to research ways to make money online.

Back in 2004, the way to research things online was through Yahoo! Groups.

So Crystal did just that. She began asking questions of those people in the groups who were making money online how they were doing it.

And then she started trying things like setting up websites and learning about affiliate marketing.

In the process of these experiments, Crystal discovered blogging.

The advice at the time was to add a blog to your website to increase your SEO for Google search.

So she started a blog.

Back in 2004, there were no courses or books on how to blog. You had to figure it out as you went along.  

Crystal made a lot of mistakes on that first blog but she loved blogging and knew that this was an avenue she wanted to pursue.

Soon, she began hearing people talk about making money blogging.

And since her blog was still, in her eyes, just a big experiment, and since she was getting fairly decent traffic to that blog, she decided to experiment with monetizing it.

Crystal noticed that anytime she blogged about saving money, she got a lot of traffic to those posts.

And within a year, the blog she had begun as an experiment, Money Saving Mom, was bringing in a full-time income.

Crystal’s husband worked as a lawyer for several years but in 2014, he left law to work full-time in the business.

Creating Multiple Income Streams

Crystal obviously began making money with her blog in the first year of blogging and grew it quickly.

She has grown that simple blog into a 7-figure business over the years.

Her early income was mostly from affiliates but that has since turned into multiple income streams.

If you want to be successful you need to have many income streams.

Blogging still accounts for 50-60% of Crystal’s income. This is earned through affiliates and sponsored posts. She also has blogging courses, several books, and a paid Mastermind group for bloggers.

Encouraging Women Through Social Media

When I started following Crystal, one of the things I noticed right away was how she uses social media to connect with her audience.

Crystal is passionate about making women feel seen and valued in a world where social media is taking over face-to-face interaction.

Even as the owner of a 7-figure business, and with all of the work that it entails, she still tries to answer all of her own DM’s, comments, and emails.

The amazing thing about her social media skills is that when Crystal first began blogging, there was no social media.

Bloggers had their blog posts with a comments section and their email subscribers. That was it as far as connecting with your audience.

When Facebook came on the scene, Crystal’s husband told her that she needed to start a Facebook page for her blog. At the time, nobody was doing this.

She was hesitant but eventually created a business page and it grew her audience on her website over the next four years in a huge way.

If you want to be successful as a blogger, you need to constantly be looking for ways to grow and evolve, because the internet is a constantly changing medium.

Crystal uses Instagram Live and videos almost daily. She finds it the best way to build relationships and trust with her audience.

If you aren’t using Instagram Live and Stories, you are failing to use every resource available to reach your audience.

Is Facebook Dead as a Traffic Driver?

For some time, Facebook was giving Crystal’s page so many new pageviews that her page was growing by the thousands per week.

The algorithms changed, but Facebook is still a very strong traffic stream for Crystal.

A lot of bloggers feel like Facebook has died as far as sending traffic. Not Crystal.

Again, she experiments with what she shares, how often she posts and Facebook is still driving traffic to Money Saving Mom every single day.

What’s working for her right now, at the time of this recording, is recording an Instagram Live, saving it, and then rerunning that video on Facebook as a Live video.

She then pins that video to the top of her Facebook page and she gets significantly more views than if she did a Facebook Live. She can also put it on IGTV to get more viewers.

One IG Live enables her to reach thousands of viewers with just 1 video.

Using Instagram Live for Her Business

Crystal does an Instagram Live four or times a week.

The length of her Lives depends on the topic she’s discussing but as a general rule, they are between 6-15 minutes.

*You can only upload a video to IGTV over ten minutes long if you have over 10,000 followers.

Remember that most people are going to be watching your video on replay, so don’t wait for viewers to pop up before you start.

In the first 5 seconds of being live, go ahead and tell the viewers what you’re going to be talking about. This is your “hook,” what gets people to stick around to watch.

Do not sit there and hem and haw around, waiting for someone to jump on and watch you live.

You waste precious time and people will not stick around for even 45 seconds if you don’t get started immediately.

The “gold” in live video is in the replay so always be thinking about your replay audience when doing live video.

Monetizing Instagram Stories

Crystal has 2 accounts on Facebook - Money Saving Mom and Your Blogging Mentor.

The content she shares on these accounts is completely focused on the topic at hand; saving money and growing a profitable blog.

Instagram Stories, on the other hand, is the one place Crystal feels free to post whatever content she wants.

She views her Instagram Stories as her personal account and she shares any aspect of her life she feels like sharing.

That may be a promotion she’s running, personal rants, stories about her husband and children, etc.

Crystal makes several Stories every day. She begins to feel like a friend to the viewer, just by sharing her life.

She also monetizes them, making thousands of dollars a month from her stories.

Crystal made a point here that I thought was huge - “People are following bloggers, not blogs. They’re following influencers, not accounts.”

It’s something we often miss, but people want to build relationships.

When you have a relationship with someone -- when you build trust with them -- they will follow you wherever you take them.

Every day in her Stories, Crystal is pointing people to something.   

She does affiliate sales but she doesn’t make it seem like advertising. She is talking about something she loves and the sales tend to follow that.

Why Do Instagram Live Videos?

Crystal likes to use Instagram Live to dive deeper into a topic than she could using Instagram Stories.

One of her favorite things to do in her Lives is answer questions from her audience.

Because she has shared so transparently about her struggles with anxiety and insecurity, she frequently shares on those two topics.

She also shares tons of money saving tips and her grocery hauls.

These are admittedly two completely different topics, but Crystal has still managed to niche it down for herself.

Some people will be interested in one topic and some in another, but since they like her and trust her, they continue to follow her.

One reason Crystal puts her videos onto IGTV is that Instagram is rewarding users who put content out on IGTV.

If you put it up on IGTV, they will show it on the Discover page more often than any other content you create.

Sincerely Helping Your Audience While Monetizing

Crystal is able to do what she feels led to do: help women along their own journeys.

And in the midst of doing that, she is able to support herself and her family.

There is no conflict of interest in making money while helping people.

Many women feel that monetizing is a dirty word. But you can be sincere about the products you love and make money doing it.

Crystal has a piece of advice for women in business-

“Make an income so you can make an impact.”

She runs a large organization in South Africa because it’s something she’s very passionate about.

Because she is able to bring in an income by helping people, she is able to help others who need it.

Building Personal Relationships on Social Media

There is a movement these days from having mass social media followings to more personal relationships.

This is why the direct message is huge right now.

So many people ignore this, thinking they need to chase big numbers. The one-on-one is where you really build your businesses.

People are hungry for smaller private groups.

You want people to feel that they’re a part of something, that they’re being seen, and that they’re known.

Opportunities for Blog Coaching from Crystal

A few years ago Crystal began Your Blogging Mentor to help bloggers make a part-time to full-time income from their blogs.

She also has a number of beginner courses on how to set up a blog and do it successfully.

Everything you need to know about starting a blog can be found at her site Your Blogging University.

After receiving countless requests for one-on-one coaching, Crystal tried it and ended up falling in love with smaller group settings where there were just a few hundred people.

A few months ago, she launched Your Blogging Mastermind and it will be open to the public in a few weeks.

People can submit their work and receive critiques from Crystal and other members.

Crystal is also working on a course called Monetizing Your Blog to help beginners know exactly how to start a blog and monetize it.

*Hint - It starts with knowing what you’re good at and what you’re passionate about.


You can find Crystal on Instagram at -


Your Blogging Mentor -

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