Meet Rae Hoffman from SugarRae.com
Rae Hoffman is a seasoned affiliate marketer who has made a name for herself over the past few years.
In addition to having her own blog (“SugarRae”), which she started in 2006, Rae was a keynote speaker at the Affiliate Summit. Besides everything else related to her business, she also has an amazing personal story.
Your story and interview below are a must-have, and I’m delighted that your name is featured in the Meet the Bloggers series of interviews.
1.) Please tell us something about yourself and how you got into blogging.
I have been running websites since 1998.
I started out in the nonprofit (I ran a support group for parents and families of pediatric stroke survivors that I started after my eldest son suffered a massive bilateral stroke at the age of two weeks in 1997).
I found Affiliate Marketing in 2001 and have been doing it as my full time career ever since. In 2012 I co-founded PushFire, an agency that provides SEO and PPC services to clients and is their CEO.
Personally, I am a mother of four and have been married to a great man since 2010. My eldest son had multiple disabilities due to his stroke and is the reason why I have this career in the first place. He died a year ago of complications from his first stroke. He was 15.
Registered in 2005 Sugarrae.com. I used a different screen name and registered the domain around 2005 when I decided to change my username to LOL. I started the blog on it in early 2006.
2.) What is the main focus of your blog and why did you choose this niche?
At this point, I own a lot of blogs. For this interview, however, I’m assuming we’ll be focusing on the Sugarrae blog LOL as this is the one that is most connected to me as an individual. Sugarrae’s main focus is making money in affiliate marketing and SEO, which are my two greatest strengths as marketers.
I chose this niche because I was hoping to give something back to the industry. If these people hadn’t been shared through forums etc when I started, I might not be where I am today. I wanted to “pay up” so to speak (although I am in no way trying to say that I do not intend to make any money from it).
I was a waitress before I started in this industry. I had (and still have) nothing but a GED. I didn’t have any money when I started. If I could do that (make money online) then anyone can, if they choose and are willing to do whatever it takes to be successful.
When I started at Affiliate, there were so many websites that told you you could make insane money without working the web – AKA, bullshit. I wanted to be a voice that says, “You don’t get rich quick, but there is money to be made if you are willing to work hard for it.”
3.) How are you currently monetizing your blog traffic?
At Sugarrae, my primary monetization method is teaching people how to do things or solve problems (and sometimes these solutions use paid tools).
Most of the requests I get for paid advertising I decline because they promote the same “get rich quick” schemes that I mentioned above. I tried AdSense on Sugarrae but it ends up with the same types of advertisers so I pulled it down. For years people have asked me to write e-books or short info products. I do not rule out that these requirements will be met at some point.
But like I said, I have several other blogs in different niches. These blogs use AdSense, paid ads, info products, and partners as monetization methods. Whether you use any or all of these methods depends heavily on the niche you are in.
4.) What do you know now that you wish you knew when you started blogging?
So many things. LOL. But number one on this list would be, I wish I had started collecting email addresses much sooner than I did. I now never start a new blog without having an email list sign up form from day one. Email is a powerful tool. And since search traffic is becoming increasingly difficult to maintain and even more difficult to maintain, building an email list is an extremely defensible form of traffic.
5.) Which three blogs do you visit almost every day?
I have never used a feed reader in my life. #true story
There really aren’t any blogs I went to daily to see their new posts. Twitter acts as my beacon “The good is not shared”.
Anything written by Aaron Wall or Peter Davanzo is usually money (both come from the SEO book). If you’re into SEO, Pete Meyers (AKA Dr. Pete) writes some interesting things on Moz. And I keep up to date with Search Engine Land pretty regularly to keep up with industry news.
6.) Can you give us three recommended tools / services that you use for your blogging?
LOL, how much I recommend SEMRush on my blog would you think I worked for them.
You are vital to me as a blogger for a number of reasons. I’m also a fan of the Genesis theme. And I love the Display Widgets plugin (free) for targeting affiliate advertising.
7.) What advice would you have for someone just starting their first blog?
First and foremost, blogging for money would not be a free opportunity. It’s cheap, but to be professional you need a domain, hosting, logo, and design (at this point I always recommend using premium themes – cheap, well-designed templates, customizable). You can do all of this for less than $ 200. Show me another business you can start for $ 200.
Like I said, I had no money when I entered this industry. I sold some things I no longer needed in my house and ate nothing but hot dogs and macaroni cheese for three weeks to afford my first Yahoo listing before the day before Google (that was $ 300) .
It’s about your priorities. I always think, “If your blog isn’t worth spending a little money or making some sacrifices to start as a real business, why should it be worth it for a reader to follow?” I’m not saying you can’t do it with zero cash. I’m just saying spending a few hundred upfront can make the road easier.
Other things would be … The bigger your audience gets, the more haters you will have. Never feed the trolls. If you are providing grueling, valuable content in any niche, don’t be afraid to monetize it. It is important to take the time to optimize your blog for the engines.
Don’t use your blog as a pulpit. Websites are like talking, blogs are like conversations. So if someone takes the time to comment on your post, take the time to say thank you for it. The more the reader feels connected to you, the more they read, the more they trust you, the more they help promote you.
8.) What is the best advice or tip you have come across since starting blogging?
If you want more traffic, you need to blog consistently. I am terrible about it with the Sugarrae blog. It’s not one of my main blogs (for my online income) so it’s been months (several times) without a post. I’ve blogged on this domain for seven years and there are fewer than 300 posts. I still get a steady flow of traffic even during this downtime. But when I blog (and post content regularly) my traffic skyrockets.
For example, after I left my blog on hold from July 2013 to mid-October 2013, I’ve started posting much more frequently since then. Between October 15th and November 21st, I posted 9 posts.
I haven’t done anything new or intentional to get Sugarrae more traffic, other than post regularly during this time frame. And my traffic has increased significantly.
My total visits to the website increased 536% compared to the previous period, while pageviews increased 439%.
The website referrals to the website increased by 360% and the search referrals by 96% compared to the previous period.
Through consistent blogging in combination with high quality content, data traffic continues to increase.
9.) If you only had $ 100 to start a new blog, how would you use it?
Domain, hosting, Genesis. If I already had Genesis, it would be domain, hosting, logo.
10.) How can readers of the blog get in touch with you?
You can keep up with what I write on Sugarrae.com. On Twitter you will find that I tweet too much, like a sailor swear, and on Sunday the three hours the Bucs play romp over soccer without excuse.
On my Facebook page, I try to post a lot of inspiration for aspiring bloggers and entrepreneurs. And, of course, the best way to stay up to date on all of the information I have provided and access some things that I don’t post publicly is to sign up for my newsletter.
Thank you again, Rae Hoffman, for taking the time to share your advice and story with the Blogging Tips community. If you are interested in learning more about other bloggers and how they succeed online, be sure to check out our blogger interview series.