Feb 5, 2020
Is 2020 the year you are finally
going to start an online business and follow your
If so, you’re going to want to
listen in to my conversation with Sue de Chiara, creator of The
Sue and I discuss how she built
her blog, and how she grew her Instagram to nearly 116K followers.
And be sure to stay tuned to the
end because Sue is sharing some of the biggest mistakes she made
along the way.
I always want to dig into the
mistakes because those are an inevitable part of any business. Sue
is very transparent and I think this conversation will be very
valuable for you if you’re ready to start your own
But first, I wanted to share
something with you. My husband and business partner, David, and I
have noticed something; a lot of the listeners of this podcast want
to start an online business or a blog, but they have no idea where
So, if the tech required for
starting a blog has been holding you back, I have great news for
MiloTree is now offering
blog start-up services! Just go to MiloTree/BlogStart
to see how we can help
We know how overwhelming it
can be to start a business if you’re not
That’s why we decided it was
time to help people get over the hump of getting their blog set up
so they could move on to creating content, serving their audience,
and developing products.
If you’re ready to make 2020 the year you finally
start that business or blog you’ve been dreaming of for a long
time, let us help. Head over to MiloTree/BlogStart
to get started.
We can’t wait to see what
you build in 2020!
Pivoting Your Business
In 2010, Sue started a blog
where she shared how she decorated her home.
People came to her blog for
inspiration, so she decided to do some affiliate marketing from it,
setting up a storefront to sell the types of items she was using in
her own home.
She ran the store for 7 years,
which she says was “a
year and a half too long.”
The business was very successful
for a while. They had great press coverage and feedback, but Sue
just couldn’t figure out how to scale it.
With no background in retail,
and because this was the wild west days of online business, the
business became more of a headache than it was worth.
However, at the same time, the
blog was bringing in its own revenue and was something she
thoroughly enjoyed doing.
She was afraid to shut the store
down, but now, she wishes she had done it much sooner.
Do not be afraid to move forward with a new idea if
what you’re doing isn’t panning out for you. We need to be flexible
and learn how to read our audience.
Monetizing a Blog
With the storefront closed down,
Sue began to focus solely on her blog in 2017.
She monetizes that blog through
ads, affiliate links, and a few sponsored posts. She doesn’t pursue
sponsored work however; if a brand contacts her and is a great fit
for her audience, she will take on the work.
Sue sells packages to sponsors
that include a blog post, 1-2 IG posts, and IG
Sponsored work has changed a ton
since she started monetizing her blog. Now, the brands are more in
charge of how they want the information shared, where and when it
gets the most engagement.
For our own site,
Catch My Party, I’ve noticed that brands are far more
demanding than in the past, and that campaigns take much more time
than they used to.
Developing a Strategy for Affiliate
If you plan to use affiliate
marketing as a stream of income for your blog, you have to go into
that with a strategy. If you don’t have a strategy, you won’t see
the success you desire.
Sue uses Reward Style to share products
with her audience. Reward Style is affiliated with so many
businesses that it makes it easy for Sue to talk about things she
She also creates gift guides on
her blog using sponsored content.
These gift guides are very
specific. If you want your gift guides to be successful, they can’t
Using Instagram as a Marketing Tool
Sue was a very early adopter of
IG. At the time, she was just using it for fun, posting photos of
But because she had a public
account and was on there from the beginning, she built up a large
following. It wasn’t until Sue had around 25,000 followers
that she realized she could use Instagram to help her
*Side note - As a business owner who helps
people grow their social media accounts, I know that it can be
discouraging to see your follower counts drop. But you need to keep
in mind that Facebook and IG are always trying to find and delete
So what may appear to be
falling follower counts could merely be that IG has discovered more
spam accounts and deleted them.
Focusing on your numbers is
not always healthy for you. Your following will rise and fall
naturally day-by-day. Your engaged followers are going to be there
for you as long as you continue to put out good
And if you want your real, engaged IG followers to grow
faster, definitely add MiloTree
to your site.
Sue posts to her feed once a day
and to stories multiple times per day. She uses a mixture of
personal content, swipe-ups to blog posts, and swipe-ups to
A Typical Workweek
Sue spends 40+ hours per week
working on her blog and business. She posts to her blog 5 times per
week, but 1-2 of those are usually repurposed
For a while, Sue had a guest
poster once a month on the blog, which was a huge help, but she is
now creating all the blog content herself. And she admits to
hitting burnout at times.
To head off the feeling of
overwhelm, she relies on an editorial calendar and an ongoing
monthly series to keep the content fresh and
Tips for Growing an Online Business (and Mistakes to
Sue wants everybody to
understand that the most important thing for new online business
owners to focus on is building an email list.
Sue says she “was asleep to that
concept for too many years.” It’s important to begin building that
list from day one.
Not only was Sue late to the
email game, but she also only recently created a lead magnet to get
folks on her list.
Sue also suggests that you focus
on one area at a time. Don’t try to learn Facebook, blogging,
Pinterest, and Instagram all at the same time.
Conquer one area, learn
everything you can about it, and then pick the next thing to work
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