Making an Income as a Blogger

May 8, 2019

Back when I first started blogging nearly a decade ago (what?!) I had no idea that blogging was something you could make a living doing. I saw a few other bloggers at the time who blogging as a career, but the entire concept was a mystery to me. It wasn’t until a few years later that I started to dream about possibly making blogging something I could do as a career, or at least part of a career, if I worked hard and stayed consistent.

While I still wouldn’t say I “blog for a living” these days, blogging and this platform has been the foundation for which much of my revenue comes from as a freelancer, content creator and Beautycounter consultant. It’s allowed me to share + connect with all of YOU over the last decade and continue to share content to this day. It’s hands-down the best job I’ve ever had and although the content has changed over the years, creating content for Espresso and Cream continues to bring so much life to me.

You’re probably thinking, “That’s great and all, but how do you actually make money blogging?” Well, the answer for myself and for most others I know in the blogging world is complex. Because it’s difficult to make enough money with any single revenue stream as a blogger, most bloggers I know make money through various different revenue streams.

(If you want a really detailed break-down of revenue streams, my friend Jess Keys (who also happens to be on my larger Beautycounter team) did a great post recently on how she makes money blogging.)

What is looks like for me has changed and evolved over the years. About two years ago, right before Collins was born, my freelance income was pacing nearly the same as my growing Beautycounter business. You can see above the breakdown of my income through the end of 2016 and where my revenue was coming from. Full disclaimer: At this point I was losing my mind trying to do ALL THE THINGS in equal measure. Freelance deadlines always looming, constantly saying YES to all the opportunities that came my way because I was afraid to say NO and lose the income potential. Figuring out how to do each thing well with a limited amount of time and childcare. I knew that something had to change for my own health and the health of my family.

What I did love about this season: The diversity of income. If you looked at my pie chart in 2018, it would include very little amounts of freelance, select blogging partnerships, increased advertising revenue and a large portion Beautycounter. Sometimes I wish I could still be as diverse in my revenue streams as I was in 2016, but in this season of life, I have such limited time and capacity to give to work (a choice I’ve intentionally made while our girls are little) that I’ve had to focus and hone in on where I’m spending that time.

So, let’s do a bit of a deep dive into each of the revenue streams listed above:

Advertising Revenue //
Although advertising revenue used to be the core of the way that some bloggers made money blogging, these days the piece of the pie that traditional advertising revenue makes up is very small for most bloggers. I work with Mediavine to run advertising on Espresso and Cream which you probably have seen and noticed at the top of my site, toward the bottom and on the side bar of the site. It’s not a huge amount of money, but it does add up over the course of the year.

Blogging Partnerships //
Blogging partnerships are the type of content you may see when a post is sponsored on the blog or on my Instagram. I work with The Women Bloggers for most of my blogging partnerships and work with brands individually as well. The way it works is the agency sends an email when they have a campaign they are hiring for. Bloggers review the campaign requirements and what the campaign entails and decide if they want to apply to be selected for the campaign. You’ll usually have to fill out a form about the size of your readership and social following; additionally there may be restrictions as far as the store that you regularly shop at or the ages of your kiddos or the stage of life you’re in. Basically the goal of these campaigns is to create natural and authentic partnerships between brands and their core customers/demographic.

Sometimes when I love a brand, I will approach them about working together, which is another super authentic way for partnerships to come about and works well for both the brand and the blogger/bloggers readers because it’s so natural and authentic.

Freelance //
This category was so big for the first years of my “blogging full time” career because of the jobs I had held prior to going out on my own. I had done a lot of work in content marketing and recipe development and was able to leverage those connections to get work right out of the gate.

Let me be the first to say that I LOVE freelance writing + recipe development work and sometimes I wish I could still keep up the pace of freelance work with my other obligations. It’s so energizing to me to use my professional skills and background in this way and I hope that once the girls and their baby brother are older I can take on more freelance work again.

Note that the content that I was creating in this category never saw their way to the blog. This was content that was entirely separate and usually never carried my name along with it, and if it did, it was usually a small byline.

Affiliate Marketing //
This is just a fancy way of saying that when I link to a product through something like Amazon or ShopStyle, I get a very small percentage commission on the sale should you decide you want to buy that product. It’s not a large percentage and makes up a very small part of what I do, but I figure if I’m already going to recommend a product, I might as well link it. Most of the time these products I’m linking are things that I’ve paid for with my own money.

Beautycounter //
I save this one for last because it’s not my primary revenue stream and because all of the things listed above led me to seek out something like Beautycounter in the first place. I joined Beautycounter right after making the leap to full-time freelance/blogging because I was looking to add in another revenue stream to support my somewhat unpredictable freelancing career and modest advertising revenue. I was already using the products (and had been for over a year) and figured I might as well share with you all + my in-person friends and family more about the products and company I had grown to love. Additionally, I had become increasingly convicted about the quality of the products I was using and the ingredients I was putting on my body. Beautycounter offered a solution to everything mentioned above.

So, I joined on a whim, entirely unsure of what it would hold for me and entirely blown away four years later and what it’s done for my family + my business.

In addition to the heart and mission behind the products and the transparency of what Beautycounter was doing to produce safe and high performing products, I was also drawn to the way it could fit into what I was already doing online. Beautycounter was similar to the affiliate marketing opportunities I had leveraged before (where I get a small percentage commission if something is linked and someone decides to purchase with that link) but they paid a higher percentage commission, gave me the opportunity to grow and mentor a team of like-minded women, and it was a brand I could see myself partnering with and getting behind for the long haul, not just as a one-time-only thing.

Additionally, I could see how partnering with a company like Beautycounter – that I was already purchasing with my own money – would/could allow me to become even more selective with the sponsored content I took on and give me more freedom to create content here on Espresso and Cream. And, four years later, it’s proven to do just that. I feel like this space has been able to become very free for me to create content that suits you all and my interests and I get to talk about ONE brand I love so very much.

PS: Regardless of if you have a blog or social following, Beautycounter is hands-down my best recommendation for making a real, substantial living from home with flexible hours and schedules. If you’ve been thinking of joining the Beautycounter team, I would love to talk any time! Just email me ( and I’m happy to chat.

I asked on Instagram for questions and the most common question I got was how to start a blog and make money. I think that’s a really loaded question. You can, of course, utilize all the tools mentioned above. But if you asked me “Should I start a blog in hopes of leaving my full time job?” My honest answer would be no.

Not that it can’t be done – it can! – but for most people it takes a LOT of work for years without making much of any income before you ever start to see any tiny bit of profit. I’ve been doing this for a decade, and I think for the first half of that decade I worked part time hours (like many many hours outside of my full time job) and made zero money. So if you’re hoping to start a blog and quickly turn a sizeable profit, I think there are much better was to do that.

In my mind, blogging has to be something you do because you love it and have an undying passion for the topic(s) you’re writing about and the content you’re creating, rather than hoping to make an income and using blogging as that solution, if that makes any sense.

I hope this was helpful! It’s been a very long and winding road to figure out how to get to where I’m at today, and I’m so thankful that you all have continued to stay here for the ride! This work is something that I love to do and it’s incredibly rewarding to get to do work that I love and make a living doing it!


Flexible Work Schedule // How I Make It Work

May 5, 2019

Sometimes I look at my life these days and I can hardly believe how different it is from what it looked like just four years ago when I was working full time, blogging and Joe and I didn’t have any kids. It’s amazing how much can change in such a relatively short period of time, isn’t it?

I’ve always been someone who loved working and wanted to continue working after we had kids, but as a child who watched my dad run his own business, I had always been drawn to a more flexible work schedule. I think it’s secretly why for years and years (nearly a decade now!) I plugged away at this blog, making little to no money but hopeful about what this work online could someday become. Over the last four years, my work has looked like many different combinations and

When Joe and I decided to move to Iowa shortly after Ainsley was born it felt like my one big opportunity to leave corporate American and give myself a shot at making a living working from home. Let’s be clear: I didn’t have a very clear idea of what that work would look like but I figured I could probably piece together enough work to make it work. Our move to Iowa – with a much lower cost of living – also set the bar much lower for what I would need to make for it to work for our family.

Over the last number of years I’ve one many different types of work. I have continued to make a small income blogging, I’ve worked part-time for my cousin’s start-up energy bar company running marketing and social media, I’ve freelanced a lot and now, to my surprise, Beautycounter has become a big part of what I do every day and how I make a living. Over the years I’ve also learned a little (lot) about what it means to work a more flexible schedule, how to make it work best for our family, and how to set reasonable boundaries on that time so everyone can stay sane.

Here are a few of my best tips learned over the last four years:

Work With Your Body //
I am a big believer that we all have hours that work better for us in terms of productivity and creativity. My best hours of the day are typically 4 – 6 am. I can get more done in those two hours than countless hours later in the day. It may seem crazy to some, but it’s quiet, focused and productive time for me and the way my body works. It’s also time that my family isn’t awake, which I love because I may be sacrificing sleep but I’m not sacrificing time with them by getting up early to work.

Additionally, my body really doesn’t do well working at night. I find I lose a lot of focus and drive past mid afternoon, and I don’t sleep well if I work in the evenings. Whereas I know some friends and co-workers who find their best hours of work are in the late evening hours. Finding what works for your body and using that to your advantage can save you a lot of wasted time when you manage your own schedule.

Invest in Childcare //
I’m so thankful that from the very beginning Joe understood and valued my need for childcare. While I technically could have done the work I was doing at the beginning of my freelance career in the margins of my day (early mornings, nap time, evenings) I truly believe one of the reasons I was able to grow my work and business to the degree I did in the time that I did was because I had the time and creative head space to invest in my business beyond the bare minimum time requirement.

It was also a HUGE sanity saver for me as a mom. Even though I was spending less time with my kids, I was able to be more present when I was with them and a less stressed wife and mom knowing I had the separation between work and family. Even if it’s just a couple hours per week of childcare that allows you to do more focused and challenging tasks, I can’t recommend it enough.

Set Boundaries //
You can only be available to so many people and so many commitments throughout each day. While there are plenty of days I wish I could be more available to my team + my family + my obligations outside of work + etc. the truth is that there are only so many hours in a day, and probably more importantly, there is only so much capacity I have to pour out to others before the well runs dry.

As an extrovert-introvert combo, I’ve realized that my emotional resources can quickly become depleted without healthy boundaries – which I think is true for nearly everyone. And that no matter how much you work, work will always expand to take up the time you allow for it to take up, so guarding those boundaries is so important.

I’ve had to become more focused and intentional with the time I make myself available to those on my team and the work that I do. Additionally, I realized that I was no longer able to keep pace with all that needed to be done in a week while still giving my best to my girls, so I made the decision a year ago to hire a personal assistant. Both of those things have been some of the best choices I’ve made yet! They have created space for me to be both more present at home + at work when I’m in my respective roles.

Make the Choice (again and again) //
Working a flexible schedule can often be painted as the ideal situation. You get to be home with your little people much of the week while also working a job you love from home. What could be better, right?! But when you have a flexible schedule and your partner doesn’t, it often means you become the default parent at home when kids get sick or childcare isn’t available because of snow days, etc. Don’t get me wrong, I’m THANKFUL for this flexibility but it’s sometimes challenging not to feel like your work is less important, or that your work doesn’t matter when you’re the default parent for most of those inconveniences.

For our family, the key is communication. I have been working to do a better job of communicating my needs as it relates to work and sharing with Joe what I need to get done on those crazy weeks so we can find time elsewhere during unpredictable weeks to get the work done – even if that means heading to the coffee shop after Joe gets home from work some evenings or working on a weekend morning. My favorite phrase about my work is that it’s, “flexible but not optional” and that’s so very true.

Additionally, it’s important to keep recommitting to the choice you’ve made to work a flexible schedule and reminding yourself of what a gift it is to do work in the way that you do. Sometimes a little perspective goes a long way.

PS: My next post is going to be all about how I make an income working from home! I’m excited to share with you how I make it work and have continued to make it work over the last four years.

Family, Fashion, Uncategorized

Mother’s Day Gift Guide

April 30, 2019

Hi Friends! I can’t believe Mother’s Day is right around the corner. Crazy right? I feel like it’s snuck right up on me – paired with the fact that Collins’s birthday is ON Mother’s Day this year and we are getting ready for Iceland, I’m helping run a preschool fundraiser the six days leading up to our trip and getting ready to spend this coming weekend with my Beautycounter team leaders on our yearly incentive trip. Whew!

So, I haven’t done a lot of thinking about Mother’s Day. But today I’m doing a little thinking for you so you can spoil the moms/aunts/friends in your life or make a wish list for your significant other to gift TO you. These are my favorite gift-worthy Beautycounter items that feel a little more special than, say, a face wash or face lotion.

Glow Shimmer Oil //
I LOVE this shimmer oil because it makes me feel so pretty + glamorous when I use it. I’ve been known to be totally addicted to using this during my pregnancies in particular because there is something about a shimmery body oil that makes me feel beautiful at a time when I don’t always feel beautiful. It’s also a sleeper favorite because I don’t think many people know about this product and others aren’t likely to splurge on buying it for themselves.

Lemongrass Sugar Body Scrub //
Another pregnancy favorite – but really it’s a fantastic product for any person on your gifting list. It smells amazing and works to gently exfoliate and moisturize the skin. I use it weekly!

Velvet Eyeshadow Palette //
We have this awesome nine-pan palette in three different color combos/versions but the Romantic Palette is my favorite for springtime. It’s so feminine and lovely!

Lip Gloss in Rosewood //
This shade is a bit more of a statement than one of our lighter pink shades, yet still functions as the perfect neutral. I can’t get enough!

Sheer Lipstick //
The sheer lipsticks are an absolute favorite of mine! I don’t love an intense lip color but the sheer lipsticks are like a balm meets lip color in one. Rose, Terra, Twig and Petal are regular rotation favorites of mine! (Rose pictured in the above photo)

Satin Powder Blush //
Nectar (pictured above) is, in my opinion, the most versatile shade of blush we sell, but I also love Melon, Guava and Sorbet! Extra bonus? They last FOREVER.

PS: You have until May 2 to order any of the items listed with standard shipping in order to guarantee Mother’s Day delivery!


Potty Training Round 2

April 29, 2019

We are currently deep into potty training (day 5!) with Collins and I thought it was worth putting a blog post together on the topic since I’ve gotten lots of questions on Instagram about the whole process. I’m NOT an expert, but I can definitely provide you with resources from those that are experts.

Book We Read and Loved // Oh Crap! Potty Training
This book is both super easy to implement and understand AND fun to read. I didn’t think that you could really enjoy a book on potty training, but her approach to the whole thing and her no-nonsense approach is refreshing. I LOVE that there are no sticker charts or reward systems involved and it’s an intense method, but it’s been pretty darn effective for both girls.

How We Knew Collins Was Ready //
We didn’t! Honestly, I wish I could say that we had some big signs that she was ready but that’s just not the case. The book said the idea time to potty train is between 20 and 30 months. Collins is 23 months and with what we have going on this summer, baby brother’s arrival this fall and knowing that things are going to be busy this summer we thought it was better to do it sooner rather than later. I was really not keen to be potty training Collins with a newborn around this fall and a husband with a busy schedule with work + football coaching.

How is Collins Doing? //
So far so good! She has done surprisingly well for how young she is! She has only had a small handful of accidents and really seems to get the concept of going pee and poop on the potty. I often hear her playing and then she sings the Daniel Tiger potty song and runs to the potty when she needs to go. She does occasionally need to be prompted to go, and putting pants back on her has caused some increased accidents, but I’m feeling like we are really on the right track and glad that we decided to do it sooner rather than later. We are just being careful not to bite off more than we should chew – meaning no long outings and staying home as much as possible for the time being until we get the hang of things!

Our Plans for Travel to Iceland with Collins //
This was a BIG question mark for us. Would it be better to travel to Iceland with a newly potty trained toddler or wait + travel with diapers. I still don’t know if we made the right choice, but we did invest in this travel potty that a friend highly recommended. It is collapsible and comes with disposable liners so we are planning on taking it with us everywhere!

Have you night trained her? //
No! We are going to do night/sleep training separately. She still wakes up with really wet diapers in the morning so we aren’t rushing that part of the process, and the book does have instructions for doing a two step training approach for daytime potty training and night time potty training. We have been making her go potty before nap and she has woken up dry for the last three days so I am hopeful we can be fully diaper free for daytime soon.


Pregnancy Fitness Guidelines + Workout Faves

April 24, 2019

First things first, I’m not a medical professional, so please consult your doctor on any workouts you plan to do while pregnant. This is my experience with this baby and this pregnancy only. ūüôā

As a miscarriage momma, I found that with both my pregnancies with Ainsley and Collins (more so Ainsley) I brought a lot of fear to my workouts. I had a lot of self-imposed rules I followed (no high impact activities, no running, obsessive about heart rate, nothing too strenuous) because I was so scared I would miscarry early on and those patterns continued into the remainder of the pregnancy. As someone who loves to sweat, it was hard for me to avoid most workouts aside from walking and very light weight training.

I’ve been thankful that for some reason, whether it’s the way I’m carrying this baby or my physical shape before getting pregnant, I’ve felt better physically doing things like running, interval-style workouts and all my usual favorites. Working out like normal has really helped me feel more normal this pregnancy, which is a gift I’m not taking for granted.

I’ve also worked hard on my mental state, to make sure that I’m approaching pregnancy fitness with a reasonable mindset – using my doctor’s guidelines rather than fears to guide what is reasonable during pregnancy. As a general rule, most of the workouts that you did before you got pregnant you can continue to do (perhaps with some modifications) while pregnant.

If you’re pregnant, and not sure where to start or how to proceed working out while pregnant, here’s a good place to start:

The old guidelines about heart rate are outdated.
Chances are you’ve heard something about heart rate and not getting your heart rate over a certain point while pregnant and exercising. Turns out, according to Mayo Clinic, that’s an outdated guideline. Your previous level of physical fitness before getting pregnant is a much more important factor. A better rule of thumb is making sure you can still carry on a conversation while doing your workouts. So if you see my running + talking to myself, that’s usually why. I’m just checking to make sure I can still speak in a full sentence.

You should be getting at least 150 minutes of moderate intensity 
aerobic activity. 
I find that wearing my Apple Watch is one of my favorite ways to keep myself accountable – pregnant or not – to my activity goals each day. Having a track record of activity (or lack thereof) is definitely an added boost to get in a walk or workout or just play actively with the girls outside when it’s been a less active day.

Some of my favorite formal ways to get in a workout during pregnancy are:

Beachbody on Demand // It’s no secret I love my BOD subscription. I love the workouts and ease of working out at home in the margins of my day. My favorite workouts are T25, 21 Day Fix and 21 Day Fix Extreme, Transform 20, and LIIFT 4.

The Balanced Life Sisterhood // I’m a member of my friend Robin’s The Balanced Life Sisterhood which is a platform that houses so many amazing pilates workouts. I’ve found Pilates to be a great compliment to what I’m already doing and maintaining strength + flexibility is so important while pregnant.

Running // Like I mentioned above, running didn’t sit well with me with either of my previous pregnancies but this time around it still feels good, 24 weeks in! I’m not sure if it’s the way I’m carrying this baby or what, but I’ve been thankful to continue to run (albeit much more slowly) this time around.

The benefits of pregnancy exercise are numerous.
Sometimes when I’m not feeling particularly motivated to exercise, I keep in mind the many benefits of staying active while pregnant. Those being:
-Reduces back aches, swelling, bloating and constipation
-Improved mood
-Increases energy
-Promotes muscle tone, strength and endurance (great for labor!)
-May help prevent gestational diabetes
-Improved sleep
-Makes it easier for you to get back in shape post baby

Be on the lookout for warning signs.
Some of those warning signs being:
-Feeling dizzy and/or faint
-Chest pains
-Shortness of breath before exercising
-Muscle weakness
-Regular/painful contractions
-Fluid leaking from the vagina

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