Dogs live seven years for every one of our human years. Horses age three years for every one human year. A one year old turtle (measured in human years) is actually twelve in turtle years. And sheep age eighteen years for each human year.
And all of that pales in comparison to how quickly Internet years move. The Internet, it seems, ages about twenty years for every one year. In other words, 2010 seems to be about 120 years ago when you’re considering the changes that have happened online in that time.
2010 was a crucial year for the Internet as we currently know it. Facebook certainly existed and was rising in popularity (knocking Myspace to the side for most users), but people still “surfed the Web” and “Googling” hadn’t quite caught on.
In was in this crux of the Internet that Shaye Elliott started her blog, The Elliott Homestead, and she hasn’t looked back since.
I started blogging in 2010 and through the process, began to author books. We started a farm, had a bunch more children, and have spent the last 6 years pouring our hearts into this work we love!
Suffice it to say that blogging had a major impact on Shaye’s life.
Making money with a blog
Shaye and her husband Stuart are homesteaders. They live on five acres in North Central Washington where they raise their children, flock of animals, and crops to sustain their family. Shaye also authors cookbooks, runs a strong partnership with a few key brands, and maintains an essential oil business. But it wasn’t always that way.
I didn’t even know that earning online was possible in the beginning – I never set out to write for money. Primarily, I just wanted to share our stories and experiences.
That being said, at some point (when my brain wires finally connected in the way that they should have) I began to monetize the site. It all started with the release of my cookbook last year which brought in more money than we originally anticipated. Frankly, I thought my Mom would buy a few copies for Christmas gifts and that’d be about it. But after investing over a year into putting it together, I was so thankful for it’s financial provision for the family. With that cookbook money, we were able to purchase our dairy cows, put up corrals, stock up on hay for the year, get our chicken flock started, and even plant a few annuals (that died, but that’s not the point). The cookbook gave us money that we weren’t accustomed to having in our normal, day-to-day budget and so we were able to use it as “building the farm” money.
The cookbook continues to bring in a steady income each month which we utilize for farm expenses.
On top of cookbook sales, the blog also brings in money via sponsors, ads, and affiliate sales. On top of that, my essential oil business continues to grow and has started to provide us with a serious additional income.
I think that earning money online as a blogger is always a bit of a mystery because it’s constantly changing with social media, new technology, etc. It’s an ever evolving job!
And while the revenue is flowing now, it’s not all computer screens and camera lenses over at the Elliott Homestead.
My days are full of feeding animals and little ones, cleaning up a variety of messes, and working on home projects. ‘Work’ doesn’t typically happen until after the kiddos have gone to bed and consists of screen time: writing books, creating content for the blog, and running my essential oil business.
Make a living with a blog
For Shaye and her husband, blogging is not only fruitful, it sustains their true passion – their farm. Connecting with their online community has expanded their reach and allowed them to start exploring new opportunities. While some might think that living on five rural acres would isolate you from the rest of the world, being online and maintaining a blog for the last 120 Internet years has given the Elliotts a connection they couldn’t have otherwise imagined.
Because we’re primarily homesteaders, we always have room to grow in the farming opportunities and educational opportunities that that presents. The blog has been a fantastic way to reach the masses, but we certainly have a passion for local food production and sharing that with others.
But when it comes right down to it, blending work and life together has become the literal bread and butter for Shaye and her family.
My favorite part about running our business is that we’ve molded it together with our lifestyle. I don’t have to ‘go’ to work to be working. Our interactions on the farm, creations in the kitchen, and daily usage of products naturally flows into sharing that with our audience and building our business. I love that we’ve been able to incorporate our animals, gardens, and even children into the business. We’ve shared our lives with our readers – I love that.
When it comes to operating a well-oiled machine, Shaye’s not shy about bringing in much needed support. On her farm, it’s Brandon the meatsmith, Stuart the husband, and countless neighbors and other homesteaders who barter and trade goods and services. In her business, Shaye used to do it all. That is, until it cost her dearly.
Organization is always tricky when you’re managing an at-home business, especially with so many children and animals that need to be cared for! I always prided myself on being able to manage my business by myself – until I totally crashed and burned and realized the amazing productivity that can be accomplished with delegation.
I have a Virtual Assistant that helps me with certain blog management tasks and a bit of social media, an illustrator that helps me with creative production, a tech team that runs the back end of the blog and make sure it runs smooth, as well as a (newly hired!) Project Manager that is helping me to organize and prioritize a few major projects we have up our sleeves for 2016. I finally got to the point that I don’t want to do it alone anymore – I love sharing this business with others now and welcome them with open arms.
It’s that welcoming mindset and open arms that make the Elliott’s five acres of land a true HOMEstead and her blog a raving success. When asked what her definition of success is, Shaye smiled and offered this:
It’s doing what I love. As cliche as it sounds, this is my goal. Once I start hating the work I’m doing, I need to admit I’m doing something wrong. Success to me has been earning money for what I love to do. Traditional, but true.
My biggest advice to anyone starting out now would be to blog about a topic you’re incredibly passionate about – not just a subject that is trending. If you love your topic and love your work, you’ll stick with it through the slow and hard times, which will certainly come.
Shaye Elliott started The Elliott Homestead to document life on five acres in North Central Washington. She and her family raise their dairy cow Sally Belle, a giant flock of laying hens, meat chickens, hogs, sheep, turkeys, and a variety of produce in their large, organic gardens.
They farm to provide their family with as much homegrown food as possible – learning the ways of the land and the ways of the past. They preserve food, stock up the larder for winter, and are ever working towards growing more.
You can preorder a copy of their forthcoming cookbook, The Elliott Homestead Family Table, by visiting their blog today.