Learn. Grow. Earn. – How the Penny Pinchin’ Mom Used Blogging to Destroy $35K in Debt

In our chat with the Penny Pinchin' Mom, you'll learn how blogging changed her life, the truth about blogging for money, and details on her new course.

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Hey Thriftaholics! Are you ready for something a little bit different?

Today, we’re interviewing our good friend Tracie Fobes – a.k.a. the Penny Pinchin’ Mom. We’ve known Tracie for a long time, and she is the real deal. In fact, we recently spoke on a FinCon panel together which focused on ways to create multiple streams of income from your blog. Trust me, she is a sharp cookie.

Several years ago, Tracie and her husband buckled down, improved their financial game plan, and paid off over $35,000 in debt. Part of that journey included starting her blog and using the extra income to pay off their debt faster.

In our conversation below, Tracie shares how blogging changed her life, the truth about blogging for money, and details on her new course – Learn. Grow. Earn. Enjoy!

6 Questions with Tracie Fobes

1) When did you start Penny Pinchin’ Mom, and why did you start it?

In November 2007, my husband and I started our journey to get out of debt. Over the course of the next several months, we started to make progress. We had a budget, sold things, and tried to spend less to have more to throw at our debt. But, I knew there had to be even more I could do.

I researched how to save money using coupons and building deals at the store and started saving SO much! After some encouragement from friends, I started the site in January 2009 with the idea that I would just share these deals I was finding at the store with them. It was a way for them to look through all I had found so they could reference it easily.

I never started the site to make money because I did not know that was even possible. And, I believe that is why I am still doing it. The passion got me started and continues to carry me through to this day.

2) How has blogging changed your life and your family’s life?

When I first began blogging, I did not know how to make money. I did not get my first check for nearly 8 months after I started and then, it was just $65. Once I saw that, I decided that there might be some opportunity here to make a bit of extra cash.

I remember writing down my goal to make $500 a month after 5 years of blogging. I hit that goal at around the 12- to 13-month mark. And, it just grew from there.

The income generated from our site was used to help us pay off our debt. We’ve also built an emergency fund to the level we want. My husband and I have purchased two cars in cash, taken our kids to Disney on a ten-day vacation, taken other trips around the country, and even done an entire basement remodel.

Our next goal is for my husband to quit the corporate world and do something that he, too, is passionate about. Without blogging, none of this would have ever been possible.

3) What are some of the things bloggers tend to do wrong when they’re first starting out?

The biggest mistake they make is thinking that they are going to get rich – fast. The reason many start is that they read an income report of someone making $20,000, $50,000 or more a month. They instantly see dollar signs and think that it is going to be easy.

The truth is that while you can be successful and make an incredible income blogging, it will not happen overnight. It takes a long time to get to those levels. The honest truth is more bloggers quit before they get to these levels because they don’t realize what it takes.

Blogging can lead to amazing opportunities. But, if you start one with the sole intent of making money, it is probably not for you. The passion and love you have for the topic and desire to be an entrepreneur are the reason to start blogging. Not for any other reason.

4) What is your top advice for someone who wants to build a following and income with a blog?

Bloggers need to have patience. There is a saying, “Rome wasn’t built in a day.” You could say the same with blogging. It takes time and commitment if you want to make it work.

You need to first start out by deciding what it is you want to blog about. What is it that drives you and that you could talk about for days on end? When you can figure that out, creating articles for people to read is easy.

But, you also can’t just write a blog post, hit publish, and think that is all you need to do. You have to work hard at it.  Blogging is 20% content creation and 80% marketing. That means, you will write your article, but once it is done, you have much more work to do.

You need to find the social media platforms where your readers hang out. For some people that may be Pinterest and Facebook and for others it is Instagram or Twitter. Once you do that, you need to start to engage with people. Don’t just drop your links and run. Talk with others and engage with the people who like what you share. If they leave a comment, take the time to respond to them.

It is also not just about your readers, but your blogging network, too. When I started out, there were no Facebook groups. I was pretty much on my own. Google was my best friend. Today, bloggers have an amazing opportunity to learn from others by joining countless Facebook groups. They are a simple way to find others in your niche and create connections that can lead to some pretty amazing opportunities.

You can’t blog alone. You need not only the readers who will read and share your content, but also those who will help encourage and guide you along the way.

5) Tell us about your new course and why you created it.

I’ve seen my fair share of courses about blogging and they all seemed to say a lot of the same things. But, I never wanted to make one because I also thought people did them just to make money off others. Far too many times I see courses where the presenter makes a lot of money each month, but it seems they make their money teaching others to make money. It left a very sour taste in my mouth about courses in general. So, I had no desire to make one – ever.

Instead, I decided to help in what I thought was the best way. I joined countless Facebook groups and have helped people by answering all sorts of questions about blogging. After having felt so isolated in my early days of blogging, I never want anyone to feel the same way. You have a question and someone should help by answering it. It was that simple.

The more questions I answered, the more messages I received asking me if I had a course. I would always respond with no, I just want to help. When I said that, people started telling me that I needed to make one because I was helping in a way that no one else had before.

Before long, I started seeing people seeking out my advice. That was humbling for me. I was suddenly thrust into this role as a blogging expert. And, I realized I was. Bloggers quit after such a short time that I was pretty much a dinosaur, having been in the industry for more than nine years.

But, even then, I did not rush to make a course. I continued answering questions and began to realize that some of them were the same thing again and again. I did a little research online for the topics and found little information that would help anyone.

I knew that what I had learned over the years were many topics most people never discussed. There are countless courses and articles on how to start a blog, but no one really talked about what to do when you had one.

6) What can someone learn during your course and how will it benefit them?

You can do a search for just about anything online these days and you will see countless results. But, who can you trust? And not only that, all too often you can read three articles and get three different pieces of advice. That leads to even more confusion!!

My Learn. Grow. Earn. course cuts through the junk you find online and gets right to the point. We cover topics that very few people discuss such as how to handle email solicitations, the legal issues surrounding your site, how to market your site, time management, secrets to using the right image, email newsletters, and so much more. Every lesson is filled with information you do not find people talking about online.

The course also goes beyond reading and into our private Facebook group. I am in there every day answering questions and guiding students on their blogging journey. When you read a post online you are left to figure it out on your own. When you take a lesson from me and have more questions, you have a direct line of communication and will know exactly what you need to do.

If you don’t know what you don’t know, how can you search for it online? This course closes those gaps and teaches you everything you didn’t even know you should know.

Interested in blogging for money? Get started here with Learn. Grow. Earn.   In our chat with the Penny Pinchin' Mom, you'll learn how blogging changed her life, the truth about blogging for money, and details on her new course.

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