Prefer to read? Here’s the transcript of my interview with Holly Howe, who went from earning $0 on her blog to consistent passive income from her ebook.
Today I want to introduce you to Holly Howe from makesauerkraut.com. Holly is one of my star students in my Create Passive Income with eBook course and I wanted to invite her on today just to chat a little bit about her results and what she's done. So welcome Holly and thank you so much for being here.
Holly: Thank you. Thank you for having me.
Sylvie: Awesome! So let’s just talk a little bit about you know, this will be a refresher for me coz you told me probably close to a year ago now. What was, what were you doing with your blog when you started, before you took the course. Before you start creating your eBook, where was your blog? If you remember, how much traffic you had or anything like that, or how were you monetizing it, that’d be awesome to know.
Holly: Oh boy. I launched my blog in September of 2014. And at that point it wasn't until after I launch my eBook that I had monetized it at all.
Sylvie: Ok so you weren't making any money at all from your blog?
Holly: No. Zero. Nada. Nothing.
Sylvie: Ok cool so you were just like doing it as a hobby basically just to help people.
Holly: No I wouldn’t say that I was doing it as a hobby. I was slowly building the business and I want to do an eBook. And eventually an affiliate income but I didn’t have the traffic up there high enough to do an affiliate income off at Amazon.
Sylvie: So you hadn’t even started…
Holly: Yeah. Totally new and just learning the process but was definitely planning on making an income with it.
Sylvie: Awesome. Ok. So what was your like knowledge of blogging or business or online business.
Holly: I was going through finding different websites talking about passive income. Smart Passive Income with Pat Flynn was my primary source for getting a lot of good information and just literally growing it. I came across you by buying your gelatin book. Because gelatin was a big component of my website and part of the digestive issues.
Sylvie: So the gelatin book that Holly was talking about is from my other business hollywoodhomestead.com where one of my eBooks is called “The Gelatin Secret” which is so funny because later on I finally sort of notice that a lot of the people that have come through the course have either bought that book or the SIBO book which is something interesting.
Holly: It is interesting how where everybody comes from.
Sylvie: Yeah. Exactly. So tell me about the process like when you decided to jump on, take the course and started thinking about what eBook to create. What was that process like for you? Did you have something in mind already? Or?
Holly: I have something in mind but it wasn’t a clear goal. I knew I wanted to write a book on how to make sauerkraut, kind of, a lot of people emphasized the need to. Now that everybody wants to get information off to the web. They want to hold some type of book like in their hands and something organized. So that point, I was just working on trying to get the how to make sauerkraut information into a book. And then start developing all different recipes. Everything I found that that was a key way to get people interested in sauerkraut that wasn’t just plain, you know, cabbage and salt, that you can add a lot of unique flavors to it. And so I eventually had a set of recipes and that ended up being my mini eBook through working with you and trying to find tune on how to, because the full book wasn’t ready to launch and that became my mini eBook to launch. So that kind of got my feet wet and now I’m working on writing big book at this point.
Sylvie: Awesome. And that’s one thing I love is that you every step of the way, with every hurdle that you encountered, I feel like you still took action and you went to the next step. And that's really what separates you know, people that get results from people that don't get results. We’ve definitely had people in the course that have not logged in once. But you're one of those people that have taken actions and ask the questions, it's been really encouraging in the group so I really appreciate that. So tell us, when you launched your eBook, what was the reaction that you got from your readers?
Holly: You know I had, I always remember hearing about your numbers, that was part what drew me into the course. I think you were getting 100,000 monthly visitors and had, I forget what size your email list was.
Sylvie: From when I launched my very first book?
Holly: Well, you had 3 books going and you were making a hundred thousand off of them annual income off of that.
Holly: To me that was such a very beautiful task because it’s amazing that you can make that much off on a couple of books and then realizing that you know, any of us can do that, a book at a time.
Holly: And so my traffic at that time was around 15 to 20 thousand. And my email list was 500 I think. And so, you know, sales went well. To me, I think I sold about 25 books when I first launched with an audience of, email list of 500, I felt good about that. And it’s just been sitting on auto pilot since then and selling about 10 to 15 books a month. And it’s gradually going up.
Sylvie: Right. I mean that’s the incredible part is that you know, it's not like this huge massive launch the minute you put your eBook out there. It’s like you can retire and move to you know, Bali but it's just that, the fact that you've done the work, you have that product available for sale right now as we're having this conversation for someone go ahead and buy. So you know I mean it's, it's that trickle of sales that you can build upon that is sort of, I think it's huge and it's why your story resonates so much I think with so many people is that, you really take those incremental steps. You do that you know that first amount of work and then you iterate along the way. You already know how you can make that second eBook better and you now and it's just building upon the first and having a second product for your people to be able to purchase.
Holly: Right and there’s a confidence building. Realizing you know, you can do it and it is one small step at a time.
Sylvie: That's amazing. I think the really key take away that I hope people have when hearing your story is that, you went from having a blog that made zero money and relatively, quickly you produce a product that started to generate income basically, not only just that month while you’re working on it or as soon as you finish working on it but on a recurring basis. From now on until you decide to take it down someday if you do, right.
Sylvie: So that's pretty incredible. What would you suggest to someone that has a very small email list, that has very small traffic to their blogs or just starting out, maybe they've been blogging for 3 years 6 months, what would you suggest to them in regards to monetizing that blog or what steps to take?
Holly: Well, I think if you keep, I’m getting some parts from Pat Flynn of Smart Passive Income. If you keep a relationship going, if you keep delivering quality content, as long as you have a topic that’s of interest out there, your traffic’s going to grow just like automatically. I’m shocked within the last 2 months my traffic has doubled. I’m up to like forty thousand visitors.
Holly: And I’m not doing anything special but really putting in the time and effort to deliver quality material and really taking the time to interact with my readers when they email and make comments. Building this tribe and then now I have a huge group of people because I think my email list is up to over three thousand.
Holly: And so now I have this huge group of people who I’ve built a relationship with overtime and it’s probably better that the eBook hasn’t been released yet because when it does get released, it’s going to get snapped up. And it’s giving me time to really learn to develop relationships on Facebook and get to know the people out there because as bloggers we sit in one little world in front of our computer and it’s very easy for us not to interact with anybody.
Sylvie: Yeah. Absolutely.
Holly: And it’s nice to have that timing that the next eBook is not ready to be published. It probably won’t be until the first of the year. There’s other pieces that will work together and it's like being patient for the process and realizing it will happen in due time. If you try to force it, it’s not going to happen, but to be able to access the course and access the different modules and work through one-on-one and be able to get on Facebook and have you there and answering the questions. You can make that small, incremental progress.
Sylvie: That's awesome. I really think that you really took that advice to heart as far as to selecting the right topic and those tweaks that you're going to make on that second book, and now your first eBook is giving you really that, that interaction with your customer base to see, “Ok. How did this resonate? Where was it missing something? How can I improve on the next one?” And you know trying to iterate that in your head, or trying to brainstorm it by yourself is sort of impossible.
Holly: Right. It’s really nice way to do a practice run because it is not the full book and it was you know, sort of smaller price point but it's a good way to practice the whole process and then when the next one comes out you’ve already play with all the pieces, then one trial run then you can improve on the next.
Sylvie: Totally. And one thing I remember you sharing in the Facebook group, we have a Facebook group for our customers so there's a lot of activity in there, and Holly is one of the people that is always giving some helpful advice to others so I really appreciate that. I remember you mentioned, you know you did your own design for this first eBook. So what would you recommend to someone that is working on their eBook as far as design goes?
Holly: You know it's, it's a hard one because I had no income coming in. So it's very hard to outsource but that theme is one of your unique selling positions is that outsourcing can really make a huge difference. You see that was Chris Ducker spoke on “Virtual Freedom”. There's no way you’re going to build a business on your own. So you keep on forcing and forcing us to do that. And I think you gradually, with that in the back of your mind, you gradually start going, “ok, I can Outsource this.” So that I’m going to start making a little schematic, step by step as I do it for a few times. And then when I’m ready to outsource pieces are together for that. But I forgot your specific question.
Sylvie: I just remember you saying with the design, you did it yourself which is, it probably took you a while… how long did it take you?
Holly: Oh it took hours and hours and hours and hours and hours. It was crazy to spend that much time. I think the big mistake was trying to make it look like a finish product. Before all the texts was written. Before all the recipes were done because you want it, have it look nice.
Holly: So that. It’s hard to pay to outsource that. I think it’s for your first go round to do what you can. You learn the process and you learn what you need to share with others. Outsourcing is definitely a key, I haven’t hired anybody yet but I do have kind of WordPress outsourcing going on so that helps.
Sylvie: Yeah. I mean I think you know it's interesting because you can do it. It's kind of you know, if you can toggle that switch a little bit. So you can either DIY the whole thing. Or you can outsource 80% of it, or somewhere in between and you can kind of pick and choose what it is that you're ready to do. When I did my very first one I did a lot of it myself in terms of writing the sales page which I’m no copywriter and all of that, but it's one of those things where you don't have to do it one way or the other, you can certainly bootstrap it and then reinvest as the proceeds come in to improve along the way so that's really helpful as well.
Holly: One thing I keep on coming back to is #1 your module on mindset. I’ve read “The Big Leap” book time and time again and it’s amazing how that holds you back. And I’m finding it now that I check my traffic and I see the numbers going up, it’s almost in reverse order that whole mindset issue. It’s almost the fear of seeing the blog growing and the ability to monetize it, really growing. Amazon affiliate income starting to come in and it’s almost like you want to see the numbers go down.
Sylvie: Yeah. Mindset is one of those things, that’s what I said in Module 1. So for those of you that don’t know in the Create Passive Income with eBooks course ironically mindset is module 1 which might sound like it has nothing to do with creating eBooks but what we’ve noticed with you know, myself and all the students is that mindset is sort of that first and constant hurdle that you’ve to just keep working on every step of game. So you’ll notice that now that things are really starting to grow, you might start having all those things, fears sort of bubble up again, of you know, “who am I to be successful”. “A leader in the space.” Or stuff like that. So that's really cool that you’re paying attention to that. That’s awesome. So is there any other, in terms of business you've talked about the income that started to come in and some of that confidence and it's giving you to work on that second eBook. And how your platform is growing and you're starting to interact with your customers is there anything, sort of any collateral benefits that have come up and turns of your family life or your personal life or you as a person in general, is there anything there that you’ve seen shift?
Holly: I guess definitely being a full-time mother through the whole process previously and now trying to, starting to get that old freedom back, to realize that you’re a unique individual with your own skills and talents is probably the biggest shift, and that’s very empowering to see that happening from switch over from parenting to being an independent entrepreneur or business woman is really neat, empowering feeling.
Sylvie: That’s awesome. I think that will inspire so many people. I actually was at a conference recently and that's one of the people I met was someone that had been a stay-at-home mom her whole life and was just about to start wanting to get into something and was wondering, “is it too late?” Or you know, she has a couple of thirty something son. But has all this passion inside her and wants to really share it with the world, and I think that it's so empowering to see you doing that and I think that you're going to motivate a lot of people to do the same.
Holly: Yeah. It's a lot of fun. It was when my eBook sale still starts coming I, it’s like “I sold a book! I sold a book! I sold one last night.” You know I was sharing email numbers, “I’m up to this…” then all of a sudden those numbers really don’t matter anymore. It’s just going to happen on their own. It’s more in the empowering feeling, like you said sharing your skills and having a professional way to do it does make a difference, that the book puts together properly and it is marketed. You know you don’t have to put a lot of effort to into marketing it kind of sells itself. If the pieces are put up properly, you know we learn thru the course.
Sylvie. That’s awesome. That's the whole point, I mean the whole point is for it to sell passively so that you can work on whether it's your next eBook or be with your children or do what you want to do. So putting together the right eBook so that it can sell by itself is really the key to that. Holly, I really appreciate your time where can people find you if they just want to check out your work, check out your website.
Sylvie: That’s perfect. Well, thank you so much Holly. And I encourage anyone to check out Holly’s work. Check out her eBook on her site, and if you want to learn more about Create Passive Income with eBooks and find out when we’re open for enrollment again, click here.
Holly: And one last thing, I have to say this. What I really appreciated about your course is you are constantly learning and sharing that with us. And of course the course itself, it’s not like a dead course that you produce and you’re done with and you’re not working on anymore. You are continually upgrading the course and adding more material. To me that’s a real valuable asset of the course. So many times you’ve purchased them and their done and then you never see any new material in the course. So that’s nice to keep seeing that.
Sylvie: I really appreciate that, Holly. I’ll keep doing that for you guys.
Holly: Good. Thank you.
So there you have it! Holly started out earning $0 from her blog (spoiler alert: we all do!) and in a few months created a passive income stream that continues to grow each month as she works on her next project, a second ebook.
No excuses + plenty of action = my favorite kind of client and student.
Want to give Holly a virtual high five? Leave it in the comments below and I’ll make sure she sees it!