When Melissa Viscount, founder of the Silhouette School, decided to stay home with her newborn, she started a blog.
“I can’t even sit down and watch television,” she said. “I always have to be doing something else. I decided to blog so I’d have something just for me.”
Although her first blog wasn’t a huge financial success, it gave Viscount the skills and experience she needed to make her next business idea a reality. Her dedication and hard work paid off; now, she runs a million-dollar company.
Starting a side hustle
Viscount met her husband, Bob, in high school. After college, she worked as a news producer while Bob transitioned to a career in sales. She handled the overnight shift, producing the early morning news show.
It was an exhausting schedule. When the couple welcomed their first child, it was too hard to juggle work and a new baby. Instead of returning to work as she’d planned, Viscount became a stay-at-home parent.
“We didn’t have any financial plan for me to just stop working and to become a one-income family,” said Viscount. “I thought about what we could cut from our budget to make it work. Then, I started a blog writing about mom stuff, like when my kids nap. After a couple of months, I heard of these sites where you could write articles, and you’d get paid per click.”
The earnings were small. One of her early pieces earned a whopping $0.17, but Viscount found that she loved getting paid to write online. She gained a lot of experience and learned what makes articles attractive to readers.
“I wanted to create something where I kept the majority of the profits instead of bringing in money for someone else,” she said.
She started a do-it-yourself blog but realized the market was saturated with similar content. Viscount began to look for another niche she could enter.
Launching the Silhouette School blog
“In 2013, I found out about this machine — the Silhouette machine — that could cut vinyl and paper that people were using for crafting,” Viscount said. “I thought that would be cool, so Bob got me one for Christmas.”
The machine’s capabilities inspired her, and she realized she could turn it into a profitable blog.
“The machine is software-based,” she said. “There [are] many older people or retirees using it who are intimidated by the software. So I started writing tutorials on how to use it.”
Viscount wrote tutorials in her spare time during the day, such as when her children were napping. Within six months, she had a social media following of over 50,000 people.
“By the time I started the Silhouette School, I had been blogging for five or six years,” she said. “I had the background on how to blog and how to market it. All those different things prepared me to take the site to the next level.”
She monetized the blog with advertisements and affiliate links, where she’d earn a commission whenever someone made a purchase. However, she soon expanded to new income streams as well.
Friends encouraged Viscount to write a book on how to use the Silhouette machine. She started work right away and soon had the book ready to publish.
“I remember the day I launched it,” she recalled. “Bob said it would be so cool if I could sell 800 copies. Now, we’ve sold 12 different books and 100,000 copies.”
Turning her side hustle into a full-time job
With the success of her books and the continued growth of her blog, Viscount earned six figures. The business grew so quickly that she needed help, so Bob left his job in the corporate world to join her.
“It was this big, scary thing,” she said. “Bob’s salary was in the six figures, and we had health insurance and a 401(k) with an employer match.”
Now self-employed, they had to learn to budget for their health insurance coverage and retirement.
“I wouldn’t recommend someone do what we did without some padding in their budget,” Viscount said.
Bob took over many of the business aspects of the blog, such as negotiating with vendors and developing the site, so Viscount could focus on the creative side. With his help, the business’s income more than doubled.
Between the books, affiliate links, advertisements, and membership site Silhouette U, the couple has experienced tremendous success. As of 2017, their earnings crossed the million-dollar mark.
Advice for other bloggers
Although her story is inspiring, Viscount cautions other would-be bloggers.
“Anyone can start a blog, but you need to know how to market it and how to build an audience to earn any real money,” she said. “If you want to have a blog that can replace your paycheck, you need to treat it like a business.”
That means you can’t spend just a couple of hours on your blog and make money. Viscount said you should expect to put in long hours to make your blog successful. It’s not uncommon for her to work 14 hours a day. Plus, you’ll need to produce quality content on a regular basis, which can be exhausting and might lead to burnout.
To help you stay focused, Viscount recommends that you create a schedule for yourself and stick to it. As your blog and income grow, delegate minor tasks to a virtual assistant. Outsourcing some of the more tedious day-to-day items can improve your work-life balance and will allow you to focus on the big picture.
If you’re prepared to put in the work and you’re ready to start your own site, find out how to launch a profitable blog.
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