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Many entrepreneurial success stories start out with a burning passion to build a business and make money, but others have a more modest origin. Tracie Fobes had no thoughts of making money when she launched her first blog. She simply wanted to share her knowledge with others who could benefit from it.
Despite the humble beginning, Tracie’s blog earned a six-figure annual income for nearly a decade before she sold it.
One of the most noteworthy aspects of her story is that through her blog, Tracie taught others about something she already knew. She used her existing expertise and experience, which many aspiring entrepreneurs can learn from. She deeply understood her audience because she had been in their shoes just a few years earlier.
Tracie’s remarkable success with her first blog is inspiring, and the details of her story provide plenty of insight for anyone looking to build, grow, and sell a website.
The Story Behind Penny Pinchin’ Mom
Before having kids, Tracie worked as a 401(k) administrator. After the birth of her first child in 2005, she left that job to be a stay-at-home mom. Over the next few years, Tracie and her husband got serious about their finances and eliminating debt.
While creating a budget, Tracie realized just how much money they were spending on groceries. After the initial shock, she knew something had to change, so she started to learn how to use coupons and significantly reduce those expenses.
With a lot of effort, Tracie became an expert at couponing and minimizing her family’s expenses. She often shared her tips and strategies in an online forum, and others encouraged her to start a blog where she could post even more helpful tips.
The problem was, Tracie didn’t even know what a blog was. She says, “I even had to Google ‘what is a blog’ before I started.”
Tracie quickly learned some blogging basics, and Penny Pinchin’ Mom launched in 2009.
Initially, Tracie didn’t even realize it was possible to make money with her blog. After she came across the idea of affiliate marketing, she added some affiliate banners to her site and earned her first check for $65 in August 2009. Looking back on that milestone, Tracie says, “As small as that amount was, I felt like I had won the lottery! I never dreamed I could make anything blogging.”
After getting the first taste of blogging for money, Tracie’s income grew quickly. By the end of 2009, she had her first $1,000 month.
Growing the Site
Early on, Tracie learned a lot on her own by reading blog posts and articles on other sites. She had plenty of success with social media, getting traffic from sites like Facebook and Pinterest.
Tracie also credits her success to networking with other bloggers. In her words, networking “made all the difference.”
During her first year with Penny Pinchin’ Mom, another blogger told Tracie about a Skype group where fellow bloggers would connect. Tracie joined the group and instantly felt at home. She says several of the group members became her dearest friends.
Group members helped each other openly and honestly with ideas and feedback. They answered each other’s questions and helped each other to grow their blogs.
Despite being a beginner, it didn’t take long for Tracie to have financial success with her blog. She quickly grew the site to 100,000+ page views per month and a consistent five-figure monthly income. Penny Pinchin’ Mom’s revenue was split between ads, affiliate programs, and digital products.
Search engine optimization (SEO) wasn’t an area of focus for Tracie during the first seven or eight years with her blog. But once she started learning and implementing SEO, she saw the rewards of consistent organic traffic.
After the success of her first blog, Tracie started getting a lot of questions about blogging and making money online. In 2014, she started a second blog at TracieFobes.com to share her tips and strategies.
Managing two blogs and now three kids proved to be a heavy burden. Like many bloggers, Tracie was experiencing burnout, and she started to think about selling Penny Pinchin’ Mom.
Tracie wasn’t in any rush to sell, so she didn’t approach an online business broker or list her blog for sale on a website marketplace. Instead, she simply told a few friends and contacts in her community that she was thinking about selling.
It didn’t happen immediately, but a few years later (2019), a blogging friend told Tracie he’d spoken with a company interested in buying a finance blog. He introduced Tracie to his contact, and that company made an offer and bought the blog.
At that point, Penny Pinchin’ Mom was about 10 years old. Tracie sold it for a six-figure amount and moved on to her next project, focusing on her coaching business at TracieFobes.com.
Today, Tracie uses her decade-plus of blogging experience to help others who want to grow an audience and make money online. She offers blog coaching and blog audits, as well as several online courses and playbooks.
It was a natural transition for Tracie because many people were already coming to her for advice. Tracie found that she really enjoyed helping others. She says it was “a catalyst to me wanting to sell my site so I could make that transition.”
Aside from her existing network and people who proactively reach out to her, Tracie finds clients and customers through Facebook Groups. She says, “I show up and answer questions in groups (using my personal profile, which has a link to my site). People see that I have good advice and seek me out.”
Doing “freebie swaps” with other bloggers is another strategy that’s worked very well for her. She says, “We will share one another’s freebies with our email lists or on social media, which get that exposure.”
Whether working as a blogger or a coach, Tracie has enjoyed location independence and the benefits of a flexible schedule. But now that she’s not running a high-traffic blog, she says the biggest difference is that she has more free time to spend as she likes.
Tracie’s story is truly inspirational. She’s also taken a path many others can use as an example – following your expertise rather than starting a blog in a random niche. Tracie used her hobby or passion of saving money and built a business by teaching others from her own experience.
During the ten years she ran Penny Pinchin’ Mom, Tracie earned an excellent income working on topics she enjoyed. And when she was ready to move on, she got a six-figure payday and transitioned into her next role.
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