After discovering Elna Cain on Medium, the blogging platform, I requested an interview. Elna agreed. I sat down with Elna, who earns 6-figures as a blogger and freelance writer, and had time to interview her about her niche websites, freelance writing career, and how she makes money as a blogger.
While we discussed the challenges with blogging and today’s competition, we also share the many ways you can make money as a blogger that suits your niche. One website might make money from affiliate marketing and ads, while another might do better promoting digital products, for example.
Elna has been so successful as a freelance writer and blogger because she’s diversified her income sources. She can make a full-time income from her part-time business by offering services like copywriting, social media marketing, and coaching alongside her blogging.
If you’re thinking about ways to make money as a blogger or how to turn your blog into a business, this interview is for you!
In this blog, we mentioned Jasper AI quite a bit. You can try the AI writing tool with 10,000 free credits with my affiliate link. Thank me later!
Here are the questions I asked Elna in the written portion of our interview. Enjoy the video and hear personal stories, insights, and tips from a successful blogger and freelance writer!
My name is Lori Ballen, and I am a full-time blogger earning 6-figures through ad revenue, affiliate income, digital products, and coaching/speaking. I also have a real estate business in Las Vegas, also supported by SEO blogging strategies.
1. What kind of income does blogging provide you?
As a 6-figure income blogger, my income comes in many ways. In no particular order, I have ads income, affiliate income, product income (i.e., courses and printables I sell), and freelance service income.
With my diversified income streams, my husband and I work from home, and we do this part-time since I also have twins to take care of.
2. How many blogs do you have?
I started blogging in 2014, and over the years, I’ve added more and more blogs.
3. How long have you been blogging, and what inspired you to start a blog?
I started my first blog in 2014, intending to make money. My freelance writing service blog has grown to include courses and guides.
In 2014 once my maternity leave ended, I tried consultation for parents with children with ASD. This is my background, and while I did find families, they lived in rural areas. I would spend most of my day traveling, and I didn’t want my twins in daycare.
This meant my husband had to stop his work to take care of the twins. I didn’t want that either. So, I decided to find something at home that I could do.
This led me to freelance, and I latched on to that! I was able to generate my first $1k in a few months and land amazing clients like Blogging Wizard, Optinmonster, Zapier, Walmart, and more.
4. Where did you learn how to blog?
Since starting a freelance service, I have been looking at blogs to help market my blog. I needed eyeballs on my site so people could hire me. The blogs I looked at were Copyblogger, Social Media Examiner, Smart Blogger (called Boost Blog Traffic back in the day), and other freelance writer blogs.
5. How Many Blogs are Profitable?
The blogs I mentioned are all profitable, and I also have three writers and one VA to help me with my many sites. In the beginning, I had my Elna Cain and Twins Mommy blog, but a writer asked if I could take over Freelancer FAQ, and I did.
From there, my portfolio grew to include a motherhood contributor blog and a motherhood blog. I wanted to start a new project and try to grow Smart Mom Ideas (the motherhood blog) by providing only high-list post ideas. While this worked extremely well in generating thousands of pageviews in the first month, it wasn’t sustainable.
Now my strategy for my other sites is SEO and affiliate marketing, while for Twins Mommy and Elna Cain, it’s to grow my brand and course sales.
6. Where does your blog traffic come from?
Most of my sites rely on SEO or organic traffic. Smart Mom Ideas and some other sites get good traffic from Pinterest.
7. In what ways do you monetize your blog?
I gain income from ads, affiliate marketing, courses, and offering freelance writing services.
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8. How much time per day or week do you spend blogging?
I do this part-time M-F, so the most I spend daily is 6 hours or less. In the summer, it’s much less!
9. Have you ever implemented a specific strategy that generated great results?
For me, the best strategy to gain unsolicited backlinks and traffic is to write a highly valuable resource guide with a keyword in mind. After the post is published, I would tag influencers and people I know to tell them I featured them or the post might be a good fit for their audience.
For example, I recently wrote a long-form post on 100 resources for freelance writers. I mentioned many entrepreneurs and posted this on LinkedIn. While I didn’t specifically tag the entrepreneurs mentioned in my post, many of them commented and shared my post.
10. Do you outsource any blogging tasks?
Yes, I have three writers that write blog content for Smart Mom Ideas and other niche sites I own. One writer is assigned 10-15 posts a month, one is assigned 5-8 posts a month, and one is assigned four posts a month.
I also have a VA for blogging and Facebook group management, 8 hours a week.
11. Do you do backlink outreach, guest blogging, or outsource backlink services?
I did those strategies earlier in my blogging and freelance career but not as much today. If anything, I will do some guest posting to help me land a freelance job.
12. How do you determine topic ideas for your blogs?
For the last three or so years, most of my content ideas stem from keywords in mind. I use Ahrefs to help me find the best keywords for my sites. I will occasionally write posts about a problem or success I have or that my course students might have.
For example, one of my students is doing well using Reddit,, so I will interview him on this platform to land jobs. It’s not a keyword, but I know my email list and followers will enjoy this post.
13. What are your favorite plugins or marketing tools that make blogging easier for you?
I love using Canva for my graphics, Grammarly for editing, Cloudflare for caching/security, and MarketMuse for optimizing old blog posts. I try not to have too many plugins to bloat my site. One I do recommend though is the EWWW IO plugin for images.
14. Do you collaborate with other bloggers or brands? If so, how do you find opportunities, and what has been your experience?
I do collaborate with other bloggers and brands. I recently reached out to the marketing director of eCamm to be on their show. As well, I reached out to podcasters in my industry for interviews. I recently was on the Freelance to Founder podcast by Millo, and I also guest posted for them.
Many of these opportunities come from using their products or reading their blogs, or listening to their podcast, and then providing an email to ask if they want to do something like a podcast interview.
15. What do you wish you had known when starting your blog?
Some things I wished I knew before starting a blog are that it’s okay if you don’t publish consistently, and it’s okay if you don’t make money in the beginning. Remembering to connect with your reader and build a readership is important.
People who know, like, and trust you will buy from you.
Elna Cain, Blogger
With every new niche site I start, I seem to forget this and just want to write affiliate marketing posts. But, I have to step back and realize that people read these types of posts to understand the problem and product, and if you can make them smile, laugh or think while reading your product descriptions and content, then it’s an easier jump for them to click on your links and buy.
16. Are there any challenges you face with blogging that you haven’t been able to overcome?
One of the biggest challenges is SEO and ensuring I’m on top of the best SEO practices. Another challenge is just keeping up with the content machine. I also have two Youtube channels, a Medium profile, and two email lists, and instead of just repurposing what I write on my blog posts, I want to provide unique and new content each and every time. But this is hard, and while I will repurpose content, I don’t want to rely on it all the time.
17. Do you know of any secret tips or “hacks” that could help other bloggers be successful?
One hack I like is to generate long-form blog posts and just keep adding to them. I might publish a list post of 20 ways, and in a few months (or even a year later), I will add to that post and make it 30 ways and so on until I have a 3,000-word blog post.
And since Google likes updated content, this can help you rank your content over time.
18. Do you have any advice for newbie bloggers just starting?
My best tip for newbie bloggers is to know what you want for your blog. Your blog is a vehicle for income, growing your brand, or gaining leads, and it’s best to figure this out in the beginning. Once you have that nailed, you can determine which strategy is best for your goal. Sometimes offering a service is better than affiliate marketing, or if you have the time and resources, gaining income from ad impressions might be your thing. Overall, think of your audience avatar and use your blog content to help them the most!
As you can see, Elna knows a thing or two about making money as a blogger. If you enjoyed this interview, subscribe to see more like it.
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