Monetizing Your Online Venture with Thrifty Guardian Blogger Amber Temerity - EP035
Let’s say you have wisdom to share and a tribe that follows your work. How do you turn that into a thriving business? Today’s guest found a way to monetize her blog and ultimately walk away from her job in higher education to grow an online business and to spend more time with her family.
Amber Temerity is a work-from-home mom with two toddlers who has been blogging for nearly 20 years. In November of 2014, she hit a wall. Her job at a local college kept her away from her young children twelve hours a day and some weekends. Daycare was expensive, and Amber knew that her life needed to change. She launched the frugal living blog, Thrifty Guardian, and within five months she was earning enough to make the online business her full-time gig.
In July of 2016, Amber launched a second website, Embracing Temerity, which utilizes her skills as an efficiency strategist and social media marketing consultant to help business owners develop systems and generate revenue. Today she shares her best tips for budgeting, managing your time, and alleviating ‘mom guilt.’ Listen and learn how to ‘embrace temerity’ and monetize your online business!
How Amber monetized her blog
- Affiliate marketing
- eCourse: Life on a Budget
- One-on-one coaching
Amber’s top budgeting tips
- Respect your time over money
- Track every debt and source of income
- Map out a plan to move from where you are now to financial freedom
Amber’s time management advice for parents
- Don’t be too hard on yourself if you don’t get everything done in a day
- Ask, “What’s going to make me a better person tomorrow?”
- Focus on short-term goals by planning what you need to get done this week
Why Amber made the decision to send her kids to daycare twice a week
- Realized she had been ‘delusional’ with regard to how much she could accomplish with kids at home
- No family support nearby
- Daycare provides social outlet for children
- Amber can knock out content and plan social media those two days
- She can offer kids her full attention when they’re home with her
Amber’s guidance for parents considering a side hustle
- Keep the WHY in front of you with a vision board or post-it note
- When you doubt yourself, look back at the WHY
- Maintain focus by relishing in what you could accomplish in six months
The ideal design of a webinar
- Educational platform rather than a sales pitch
- Demonstrates instructor’s trustworthiness and expertise
- Provides a foundation of knowledge to build on
- Students walk away with value, wanting to learn more
Connect with Amber Temerity
Amber Temerity is a work-from-home mom with two toddlers (that are only 16 months apart!) She’s been blogging for nearly twenty years but it wasn’t until she launched her frugal living blog Thrifty Guardian that she thought “Hmm, maybe I could do this for a living…” Five months later, her dreams came true! In April 2015, she left behind her career in Higher Ed. to work from home full-time. When she’s not working or spending time with her family, she’s out walking her English Shepherd, volunteering in her community, or cozied up on the couch reading.
Laura Pennington (Host): Welcome back to the show, everybody. As you know, I love to highlight amazing entrepreneurs, freelancers and business owners, who are doing something incredible and my guest today is doing just that, and she is also a productivity expert and knows a whole lot about juggling multiple responsibilities. So, I am excited to learn from her and I know that there will be a lot of great things that come out of this interview. So, my guest today is Amber Temerity and she is a work-from-home mom with two toddlers that are only sixteen months apart. She has been blogging for nearly 20 years, but it wasn’t until she launched her Frugal Living Blog - Thrifty Guardian that she thought, maybe I could do this for a living. Five months later her dreams come true. In April 2015, she left behind her career in higher education to work from home full time. When she is not working, or spending time with her family, she is out walking her English shepherd, volunteering in her community or cozied up on the couch, reading. Welcome to the show, Amber.
Amber Temerity (Guest): Hi! Thank you for having me.
Laura: I am excited about having you because I think a lot of people can benefit from the advice that you have. A lot of my listeners are in the process of becoming a mom or are new moms, building their families. It's part of the reason that they want to build a business on their own because they want to spend more time with their families and have a little bit more flexibility. So, I'd love to hear your journey into what you are doing now. You had a career in higher education; what was the transition like between that and going into blogging full time?
Amber: Sure! Well as you said, I have been doing this for nearly 20 years. I wasn’t necessarily the first blogger on the scene, but I have been doing this since before Zynga and Myspace were even a thing, back when it was more journaling your life story than really sharing a lot of knowledge and expertise. But in November of 2014, I really just kind of hit a wall. I had been working at a local college for about 7 years, teaching students all about organizational leadership, time management, marketing themselves and their clubs and organizations. And I really loved the job, but what I didn’t love was the fact that I was leaving my children at daycare every morning. I was out of the house from about 6:30 in the morning until 6:30 at night, sometimes having to work weekends; really just not getting to see nearly enough of my children or my husband as I wanted to, let alone having time to do anything else. So again, come November, I was just really looking for change, looking to actually just supplement my income. At that time paying for daycare - I was only making about $2.5 an hour which isn’t enough for anyone, let alone a mom of two to have to be away from her kids that much. So, really just looking to make a little bit of extra money and eventually hoping that I would get to a point where I could work from home and just be the stay-at-home mom like I always wanted to be. But much to my surprise, within five months I was able to quit my career and work from home full time and I do always have that idea of I have been doing this for a long time, I wasn’t new to the scene, just starting out; so I knew how to build that network. I knew how to engage my readers, and so that really was key in getting me from launch point to making a livable income in such a short amount of time. But even for me, I was still really pleasantly surprised, but it has only gotten better from there.
Laura: I think it’s a similar story that I feel a lot of people who are now working for themselves online in some capacity. They usually start while they are doing something else and then from there, they start to choose a barometer by which they can say okay, I am leave my full-time job. Now it might be financial, it might be a certain number of months in, it might be other numbers, but what I'd like to know is - I see a lot of marketing out there about how to make money blogging and there is so much information whether it’s about selling info products, whether it’s you getting affiliate income, you are having sponsored posts, you are creating courses; how did you monetized that to where it became a business as opposed to just an outlet and building a network?
Amber: Well, I started out with affiliate marketing, which I wasn’t super familiar with, but again, I did it in a smart way. I wasn’t pushing products that I didn’t already believe in. I really didn’t even, in those first two months, create new posts. I didn’t even know that much about affiliate marketing. It was really just going back and kind of linking products and services that I was already mentioning. And from there, I actually launched my very first e-course called "Life on a Budget" and I kept it at 25, it was a guided course - I was there doing some one on one work too and really just helping those 25 students get their time and money under control and really see the value in prioritizing their schedules and really making sure they were respecting their own time. And you know, once that kind of falls into place, it’s a lot easier to then financially get your life in order. So, I kind of taught them how to do both and how to sustain that even after the course ended and from there I actually had somebody bring up wanting to work longer with me one on one and so I said, well yeah I'd love that. And I kind of created my first program from that and have kind of continued on from there. And I focus more now on one on one programs, but I also do master mind groups and e-courses, lots of balls still in the air for me.
Laura: Isn’t that the truth for almost every entrepreneur? I think we are plagued with constant ideas, most of which hopefully are good, but we are always having different ideas and different directions to take things and I think yours is a great story of finding multiple avenues where it worked. And what I drew from what you just talked about is sometimes people will - there is two groups of people; there are people who want to start off a new business and they have no audience and so it’s like a painstaking slow process of growing an audience organically or they are using Facebook ads or some other type of marketing to get people on to their list and grow their following; and that's a slower process or a paid process. But then there is a whole other group of people who have a gold mine of induvials in their tribe following them, but they haven’t monetized anything yet. So, they have got people who are reading their blog, following their podcast, whatever it might be, but then they don’t know how to turn that into a money-making opportunity. And what I hear from you is that you did that in two different ways; with affiliate marketing, which can work really well when you have an audience full of people who trust you and then making a course. So, I'd love to know; just because this is something you are an expert in, what are your top couple of budgeting tips? I feel like this is something that everybody struggles with, whether you are an individual or a business owner. Where do you think most people go wrong and what are a couple of tips they can use to address that?
Amber: Well, for me, I really think, again, it is about respecting the time over money, so constantly it’s always a work in progress for me, for anyone. But constantly, really thinking about the turn of investment when it comes to your time. So, for example, may be gas is 10c cheaper across town which is a 30-minute drive and that sounds great because you drive an SUV and it's a gas guzzler, but when you factor in not just the money you are spending on gas to get to that other station, but the time that it's going to take you to get there. Really again, the more you think about that, the easier becomes to go okay, is this really worth my time? Is it really worth me spending X amount of hours doing this in exchange for this amount of money? Because I for one - again going back to - I was making less than $3 an hour being away from my kids. My kids have always been my top priority, but now I cannot imagine ever going back to that point where you are only paying me a few dollars an hour to be away from my children so much. So, really it's just a matter of thinking about, okay is this worth my time? Is this worth my energy? What do I gain from expending this time, and then focusing more on the financial aspects? It really is about tracking everything. A lot of us, especially those of us that are in our early thirties, even late twenties, we have got a lot of college student loan debt. It's not uncommon, but I would wager that a lot of us don’t have any idea as to what sort of interest is racking up or how long it's going to take us to pay that off. So, really just riding out. Putting pen to paper, every debt that you have, every source of income that you have and really making that road map to where you are today and then what is it going to take for you to get to the point where you are financially free. And when you map that out, when you have it actually physically in front of you, something that you can look at on a daily basis, something that's tangible; it really makes it all the more easier to go, okay this is something I need to do. This is something - it becomes power. It becomes powerful and is a reminder of, do I really need to spend a $100 on a purse, when I have got $30,000 worth of student loan debt, and so keeping that in front of you really makes it so that you make smarter choices that you remember to track your budget. You remember to balance your checking account. You really stay on top of things.
Laura: That's a great and very important point because you can’t know where you are going to go with your budgeting an all of the other financial decisions that you need to make as an individual or as a member of a family or as a business owner unless you know where you are at right now. So, sitting down and taking inventory of everything, all of the debts that you have, all of the responsibilities and coming up with a plan, that's really going to be your first step. And I think that applies a lot to entrepreneurs too because one of the things that kind of drives me crazy lately is I see a lot of people that are publishing income reports, but they are not really talking about expenses and sometimes those income reports are very misleading because their expenses are 50% to 60% of their revenue. They are just way out of control and so that those habits that you develop as an individual to track your income, to track your expenses and your debt can also carry over to when you have a business and you are trying to monitor what money is coming in and is going out. So, now I want to hear about; I hear this a lot from new moms, I have interviewed new moms, I have interviewed moms of teenagers, kind of across the board for the podcast; I have a lot of them in my audience and time management is a huge huge issue. People are always looking for time management tips, but that's particularly true for parents, when you are juggling responsibilities like a business as well as your family. So, I'd love to know your couple of tips for how you do with all and how you determine what's a priority and make sure that things actually get done?
Amber: When I first quit my job back in April, I sort of deleted myself as I think a lot of people tend to do when they are becoming parents and this is almost like becoming a new person, a new parent and that I was going to have my children with me all the time. And at first I was like, well this would be easy. I am an efficiency expert. I can do this. I can totally work while they nap. They don’t nap. I can work while they play nicely together. That never happens. So, for me it was definitely a big adjustment period and that's one thing is that something I learned myself and something I always encourage people to do, especially moms is to not be too hard on yourself. To not think that you have to get every single thing done in a day in order to call the day a success. You don’t want to necessarily set your goals too low but if it comes between getting dishes done or writing out a blog post because you haven’t yet gotten a blog post done for the week, focus on the blog post. The dishes will still be there. Th same thing, if it comes between getting laundry done or playing with you kids; play with your kids. Laundry will always be there...always...always...always. So, it really is just taking a look at what’s going to make you a better person tomorrow? What's going to reduce the stress? What's going to help you really enjoy each and every moment? And then when you do have the time, if you are a lucky few, whose children nap - I am so jealous - but take that opportunity to map out those priorities. Look at what you want to accomplish for just the coming week. Once a quarter, you can do lengthy goals, map out the overall quarters a little bit. Just focus on the next week. What do you need to get done to call the week a success? To continue building your business. To continue engaging an audience. Map that out, plug it into your schedule and make it happen. That way when you sit down to right out that content or map out your marketing strategies, you are not just sitting or staring at the screen and all of a sudden you are distracted by Facebook and that little bit of time you had is now wasted. Really take the time to first and foremost plan out what you are going to do, so that you are not flying by the seat of you pants wasting time trying to figure out what’s the next step to take.
Laura: I really like that advice on a couple of different levels. First of all, I'm a big fan of setting these more short-term goals than these long-term ones because what I see happen with a lot of people with the long-term goals is they set something really really huge, it's to accomplish over the next year, and then when it gets to be March or April and they haven't made any traction towards it because they've been busy or life has happened and - they just beat themselves up about it. And then they don't ever pick up speed or get back into it. And it just becomes a big thing that makes them feel guilty. Whereas if you're looking at something that's a week ahead and then maybe you have some goals that are quarter based, then you're more likely to achieve success because you're breaking it down into smaller pieces. If you look at a goal for over the course of a year you might say, oh I really want to write my novel this year. But if you don't have smaller action steps week by week of "I'm going to write 5,000 words this week", you're not going to have that much of a chance of success. And I also like this idea of deciding what is most important at that point in time and really keeping your priorities in the back of your mind as well. I think a lot of moms - I think all parents probably experience this - but in particular moms feel guilty about choosing when they work and how much they work. So how did you come to the decision of - are your kids home full time? Do you have help? Are there certain hours that you try to work that's based around their schedule?
Amber: Well, again when I first started out, I was very delusional in what I was going to accomplish. At that point when I first started out, I was actually only running one website. I'm now running two. And even just running the one then with them home full time with me trying to adjust to being a work-at-home mom, it got crazy quick. And unfortunately, we don't have any help in the area. We don't have any family nearby. My mom lives three hours north of us so it was a struggle. Luckily my husband is very supportive of what I do. He is always willing to take charge, he's always making us dinner, so he really does anything and everything that he can to give me as much time as I need to work. And I will say that, few months ago I did finally kind of tap out and decide to enroll my kids in daycare just twice a week - not only because I needed that time to really better focus on what I was doing and what I was building, but they too; I mean, they were tired of hanging out with me I think. They wanted to be with more kids their own age and I live here in Illinois where it's cold. I mean, it's not cold cold yet, it's only like 30 here but it's not like we could go to the park on a daily basis. And so, again, they go to school now, Mondays and Tuesdays and those are the two days where I really buckle down, churn out my content for the week. I plan out my social media, everything and anything. And then again, prior to that on Sundays, my husband usually takes the kids grocery shopping or just gets them out of the house for a couple of hours so that I can map out exactly what I'm going to do on Mondays and Tuesdays, so that I can get the bulk of my work done and then the rest of the week balanced between getting work done when I can and enjoying life with my children.
Laura: That's interesting that you point out that it's actually something that is helping your children to socialize more and actually assist with more of their developmental needs as well but I imagine it's also pretty helpful for your schedule because you are looking at the week ahead and you know that those two days are going to be the time in which you can get the most done. So has that been the case for you?
Amber: Yes, exactly. It wasn't an easy decision because again, my big 'why' was getting them out of daycare and getting them home with me but I could tell especially with my son - he's the older of the two. He wanted to be with kids. He wanted more friends, he wanted to play and really just - he's an adventurer and so, now he - they're bold, they love going to school, it's really nice because it's a home daycare just literally a block away so I'm not quite as much of a nervous nelly having them across the city. But it really has been beneficial for both of us because now I'm not trying to work while they're playing and they're not sitting there crying, pulling on me saying, come play dinosaurs and come play dollies. I can give them my full attention when they want it, when they're home with me because those other two days while they’re off playing with their friends, learning new things, I get the majority of my work done and so it's not so much of a pressing, stressing thing the rest of the week.
Laura: Yeah that's really really smart. It's actually your way of identifying a support system, not just within your family for what you all can do for each other but also outside of the home and where you can get the support that you need to have the time and the ability to focus. I think a lot of people who are getting started with their business, they see these kinds of stories as super inspirational because you're many steps down the line and I'd love to know what advice you might have in particular for a parent who maybe has another job right now but is thinking, hey, I really should start a side hustle or a side business. What would be your top one or two tips for someone in that position to help them be really effective?
Amber: Definitely keep that 'why' in front of you, whether it's because you want to be home with your children more or because you want to be financially for you have any debts or because you want to be free to travel whenever and wherever you want, keep it in front of you constantly. Create a vision board if that' s up your alley. Write it out on a post-it note if you have to. Whatever it takes to keep it in front of you constantly. So that when you are stressed out, when you are doubting yourself, when you are thinking maybe I can't do this, you can look back to that 'why'. I had to do that probably seriously every day because again, I was out of the house 12 hours a day. At this point my kids - my daughter was 10 months old, still nursing; my son was barely two years old, just entering toddlerhood which is always a joy. And so, I was exhausted. I'm not going to lie. Those first few months, I was tired. But anytime I saw that doubt creeping in, I felt like maybe I was wasting my time, maybe I should just take a nap. I reminded myself of my why; I reminded myself of how much it would be worth it, months, years, whatever the case may be down the road and I pushed through it and it really is about front loading your life, front loading these times now where you are just starting out, especially if you're just starting out. Keeping in mind what you can accomplish in six months, what you're going to accomplish in one year really envisioning what that life will be like when you finally breathe full life into those dreams of yours and are just living it out. Take the time to imagine that, take the time to relish in what that would feel like and I promise you, those doubts, those fears, they will quickly diminish.
Laura: I love that advice. It's so powerful because at first, some people think that it seems a little cheesy to be visualizing these things or to have the vision board where you're thinking about what it would feel like or what the whole experience would be like, but it does really help keep you be focused when you're working towards some of your really big goals. So, you've had a couple of different iterations of what you're earning from your blogging business and now you have two websites. You've created courses. What have been the lessons that you've pulled away from creating courses. That's a whole business in and of itself and a whole lot of strategy that goes into it. What has been your experience with creating courses and taking people through them?
Amber: My experience with that is that really when you're doing - the majority of us who do courses, we use webinars to hook them to share the value, but I feel this time and time again especially when I was first starting out, it's one of the very first things I noticed is that people use webinars as more of a sales platform than as an educational platform. Given my background in education, it drove me mad because I wasn't there for an hour to listen to a sales pitch. I was there to learn. And so, for me, especially with my evergreen courses, when I'm doing a training or doing a webinar, you're going to walk away knowing ten times what you knew before you clicked to enter the chat or clicked to enter the webinar. I really pride myself, I'm giving as much value, giving as much knowledge as I possibly can because I know there’s always always more to give. And that has what I think really brought me success is that nobody ever looks at me and goes, oh my god, she pitches so much or she's always trying to sell. They're going to look at me as a strategist. They look at me as somebody who is always open and willing to teach regardless of whether or not you're going to pay me, I'm here to answer questions, I'm here to help anyone and everyone that I can, and that kind of snowballs into then people knowing that I'm somebody worth buying from, somebody that's worth trusting, somebody that - you know, if you get stuck on a module, you get stuck at a lesson in that e-course, I'm going to answer your email and I'm going to answer it quick because above all, I want my students to walk away going "that is such a great course; Amber is such a great teacher".
Laura: Do you feel like part of the reason that this has become the sales strategy or the way that people approach webinars or their business as a whole is because there's a feeling of - this is my sense but you can tell me what you think - that a lot of people think why I don't give all of my good information away for free. So, I'm not going to give away that much for free and then you can pay to get access to me. But I feel like that backfires sometimes because the people don't really know who you are, and I don't know about you but I'm not going to sign up for a course or buy somebody's e-book unless I have a sense of who they are and the kind of valuethey provide and if it's really good in their free stuff there's a much better chance that I'm going to sign up for their paid options because I want to get access to more of what they have to teach. Do you think that's part of the reason why we see so many people struggling to build that no like and trust with their audience?
Amber: Oh, yes, I very much agree but my thinking on it is that if you can't educate me for 45 minutes or an hour on whatever topic you're trying to sell your e-course on, then I already sincerely doubt what the value is for that course because again, there's always more to teach. Unless you're teaching one very specific thing which doesn't make for a successful e-course. There's always ways to build on that and that's actually been one of my biggest issues is kind of capping out the e-courses because there’s always more and I always want to teach more. I love it and so if that's somebody's fear, if you're somebody who - you're listening to this and you're going, oh man, that's me, my webinar's half pitch. Take a step back and really try to remember what it was like when you were first starting out because I know for a lot of us, it's hard sometimes to go back to, okay, what did I not know? That's hard to remember and so, if you take a breath and try to think about, okay what did you not know when you were starting out. It helps you bring back to, oh yeah, I could teach them more about this too and more foundational work and really again, flesh out that webinar so that it's not half pitch so that people walk away having really learned something and wanting to learn more.
Laura: I like that a lot. I think that a lot of people want to give enough time in their webinar to get the sales pitch, to cover the information about what's in the product but because webinars are becoming such a popular method for marketing courses in particular, we get antsy sitting on them. So, if I'm sitting on a webinar that's promised to teach me something and it's been blocked aside for an hour in my calendar, and the first 20 minutes of the webinar is the host introducing themselves and talking about how great they are and then there's maybe 10 to 15 minutes of content and then they go into a sales pitch, that starts to feel like it wasn't really worth my time. So, if you are going to try to build trust with these people, some of who may already be in your tribe, others who are brand new to you, it's really important to make that be an action packed valuable opportunity. You don't need to give away all of your secrets but you do need to make it seem like it's worthwhile. A lot of people today are busy and we're bombarded with information all the time from all different directions. I feel like if I just looked in my email box any given day, I've probably got at least ten invitations to a webinar happening that afternoon. And honestly, it's been so hard for me to show up live to these because of what you're talking about. There's been so few that have actually delivered and that's a really important lesson for people to consider going forward. So, I'd love to know, as we kind of wrap up, where can people go to learn more about you? I know you mentioned that you had two different websites.
Amber: I do. I have ThriftyGuardian.com which is the website that's my Frugal Living Blog that kind of launched this whole amazing adventure, and that's a great site to check out especially if you're a parent looking to learn more about saving time, making money on the side. But right now, I also run EmbracingTemerity.com which is all about helping other online business owners step into their own spotlight. Temerity is not just my name, it's also a word for boldness, for a sort of confidence and so helping them find that confidence in their business, master time management - I'm all about efficiency when it comes to business because again, it's parents especially, we're very stretched when it comes to time. So, either of those sites I very much encourage people to check out because obviously, I'm very proud of them. But again, I very much pride myself on giving true value, giving as much possible education and sharing as much in my expertise as I can.
Laura: Well, I just want to thank you so much for coming on the show and providing so much actionable insight, so much of your experience as an entrepreneur that can be both inspiring to people but also a step by step strategy and the actual processes that you'd recommend for somebody who's just getting started or working through some of the obstacles in their business. So, just thank you for coming on. I know there's a lot of value in this episode just based on your own experience and how genuine you are.
Amber: Well, thank you for having me.
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