After Brenda Kosciuk became a mom, she craved a creative outlet, so she started her blog, Paper Heart Family. As she had a full-time job and a family, she had very little time, and she wrote her initial posts while she was nursing her baby.
Today her site is earning up to $9k per month, even though she only works on it for about 10 hours per week. There was even a 2-year period where Brenda completely ignored her blog, and although her traffic and earnings dipped, they made a comeback when she started up again.
It took Brenda just 4 months to qualify for Mediavine, and Pinterest still accounts for a good portion of her traffic.
Keep reading to find out:
- What her blog was initially about
- Why she shifted her focus
- Where her income comes from
- Her top marketing strategies
- Her views on SEO
- Her keyword research tool recommendations
- How she approaches content
- Whether she outsources or not, and why
- Her top resources and tools
- Her biggest challenge
- Her greatest accomplishment
- Her main mistake
- Her advice for other entrepreneurs
Meet Brenda KosCiuk
My name is Brenda and I live in Pennsylvania along with my husband and two daughters. I work full-time as a Spanish and English as a Second Language teacher. I am also the owner and CEO of the website Paper Heart Family.
Why She Created Paper Heart Family
After the birth of my second child, I found that I was putting all of my time and energy into my children. I was feeling that I was losing myself and I was craving a creative outlet. I saw a lot of blogging success stories online, and it was very appealing to me. As a child, I loved writing and creating. I’ve always had an entrepreneurial spirit.
Initially, I created Paper Heart Family as a way to help mothers easily document their children’s lives. This content never really performed well for me. Therefore, the content on my site has since evolved into pregnancy, baby, breastfeeding, and activities and printables for kids.
I wrote about 20 articles before I even went live with my site in August of 2017. Almost all of those articles were written while I was breastfeeding my baby, many times in the middle of the night!
How Much Money Brenda’s Making
I’m currently earning between $6,000 and 9,000 a month through Paper Heart Family. A very large majority of that income is from ad revenue.
The breakdown is as follows:
- 90% of income from Mediavine
- 5% from affiliate programs
- 5% from my own products
I started blogging in August of 2017 and qualified for Mediavine in December of the same year. My page views went from just a few thousand to over 100,000 in one month due to one post that went super viral on Pinterest. Unfortunately, this would never happen now.
I experienced a lot of growth in the first two years. Then, due to a very demanding teaching schedule, I pretty much stopped creating content and promoting my blog from July 2020 until May 2022.
There was definitely a dip in my page views and income during that time, but since I have gone all in for the last year again, my page views and income have both grown to be higher than ever before.
The time that I have to devote to my website is very limited. There are some weeks when I hardly work on it at all, but I would say I work on my business on average 10 hours a week.
Her Top Marketing Strategy
For Paper Heart Family, I grow my business solely through SEO and Pinterest. Although many bloggers have shied away from Pinterest in the last few years, the platform continues to bring me approximately 50% of my traffic. In my busiest month of December, Pinterest brings closer to two-thirds of my traffic.
I think one of the most important strategies for today’s Pinterest is to get interaction on new pins quickly (not an easy task). I have been able to get very new pins traction quickly by:
- Asking my email list to pin specific new pins
- Getting the timing right. I have had numerous seasonal pins go “viral” in the last few months when pinned 2-3 weeks before traffic starts to pick up for that topic.
Also against what is typical, my RPMs are higher from my Pinterest traffic.
When choosing keywords, I usually look for keywords that I believe are attainable on Google and that will also be popular on Pinterest.
I have a spreadsheet that ranks my top pages’ page views from Google and Pinterest. I try to write similar content to those keywords that are performing well on Google and Pinterest.
The Importance of SEO
SEO is very important to my business and it’s the source of traffic that has grown the most over the years.
When I look at my top posts, the inspiration for many of them came from my own experience as a mom. There are a few posts that I wrote because when I was actively searching for that information, I was disappointed with all of the results on page one of Google.
There are some other posts that I created simply because I was creating those activities and resources for my own kids.
I had always known about SEO but it took a while for me to get really serious about it. I took the course Stupid Simple SEO, but I don’t think I was super serious about SEO until the past year.
There was a fellow blogger who used to create keyword “trees” based on what you were already ranking for. She no longer does it, but that was very helpful for me before I understood keyword research myself.
There are a few resources that I love using for keyword research that I don’t hear many people talk about.
The first is Keywords Everywhere. I love looking at Google results when I am researching a keyword because it gives me so much information. Keywords Everywhere gives me the average search volume and the DA of the websites that rank on page one. This is incredibly valuable information and can quickly help me decide if the keyword is worth going after.
I also love using Low Fruits. I rarely hear about other bloggers using this, but the free version will give thousands of low-competition keywords with the click of a button. I often enter my broad topics into Low Fruits in order to get content ideas. Then, I will look those keywords up in Google using Keywords Everywhere in order to decide if it’s truly a viable keyword. I have found some real gems using this process.
I also get many of my keyword ideas from Google Search Console.
Link building is something that I have not been consistent with but I have recently made it a priority. I have landed some really great links using HARO and also recently used a link-building service.
Brenda’s Content Creation Process
I would love to say that I choose a topic and write on that topic incessantly until I can’t anymore in order to become an authority on the topic. That’s what I would recommend.
However, because of my busy life outside of blogging, many times in order to stay motivated I simply choose to write on the keyword that I am most motivated to write at that moment. It may not be the best strategy, but I think it is the best strategy for me. There’s definitely more than one way to be successful in blogging!
I also recently started using RankIQ and I find that it helps me to rank more quickly on page one of Google.
Her Email List
I do have an email list of about 13,000 subscribers and solely use free printables in order to grow my list. During certain months, my email list grows much faster due to seasonal content.
I email my list once a week.
Brenda’s Thoughts on Outsourcing
I am very much Type A. I’m a control freak. I actually outsourced my Pinterest for one month at the beginning of this year and then I canceled it because I just couldn’t do it. I know that there are a lot of different philosophies out there on the subject, but it’s important for me that my blog represents me.
I have frequently considered outsourcing writing, but I know I could never be happy with it. I believe (and maybe I’m wrong) that in my specific niche, moms are looking to connect with other moms. My writing style is very impersonal. I want my readers to feel like they’re getting advice from a friend. I also enjoy the entire process, from keyword research to creating graphics and writing blog content.
I do almost all of my writing after my kids have gone to bed. Otherwise, I try to fit in a little bit on the weekends when my children are occupied.
Her Favorite Resources
For me, podcasts are the best media for consuming information. I listen to podcasts while I’m driving to work or driving my children to gymnastics practice.
I love listening to the Niche Pursuits podcast and The Blogging Millionaire podcast. I get so much helpful information from both podcasts, but Niche Pursuits provides incredible motivation, which is priceless to me.
Her Top Tools
The three most useful tools that I use are Google Analytics, Google Search Console, and RankIQ.
Google Analytics is simply one of my favorite tools because it motivates me. If I’m having a fantastic day with high page views, it makes me want to write more content in order to have more of those days. If I’m having a low day, it motivates me to crank out the content, too.
Google Search Console is probably my favorite tool. I have had great success with changing focus keywords completely according to the information that I am getting from GSC.
Her Biggest Challenge
My biggest challenge has been and always will be work/life balance. I always feel that I am failing in one or more areas of my life, whether it be in my marriage, my kids, my business, my teaching job, or my social life.
I believe this is why it was so hard for me to get back into blogging after stopping. I simply couldn’t figure out how to make it work with everything else I had going on in my life and had zero motivation to restart.
Her Greatest Accomplishment
On the same topic, I believe my most important accomplishment was not letting the overwhelm and lack of motivation defeat me. I made my way back to blogging and have found little ways to maintain my motivation. That includes watching Google Analytics daily, listening to podcasts, and reading about blogger success stories.
What She Wishes She Knew When She Started
When I first started out, I thought that I needed a bunch of content before my site went live. This couldn’t be further from the truth! I think I spent about 8 months researching and writing content before my site actually went live.
Her Main Mistake
My biggest mistake was waiting two years before I found the motivation to put time into my business again.
Brenda’s Advice for Other Entrepreneurs
My advice would be to read and listen to motivating stories of everyday people who have built their businesses from the ground up.
Also, if something isn’t working, don’t be afraid to re-evaluate and look at what is working. If I hadn’t experimented with different topics for my blog, I wouldn’t be where I am today.