When Lou Martin started participating in paid product review panels, she had no idea where that experience would take her. It was followed by a positive experience on the revenue-sharing article site Squidoo, and when they closed shop, Lou struck out on her own with a blog: Product Review Mom.
Through hard work, consistency, and a passion for her site, Lou’s earning 6 figures a year thanks to a solid combination of affiliate marketing and ads.
Keep reading to find out:
- How she got started with her blog
- Where her income comes from
- How much she works on her site
- Her top marketing strategies
- Her thoughts on SEO
- How she creates content
- How she grows her email list
- The resources and tools she loves
- Her greatest challenge
- Her biggest accomplishment
- Her main mistake
- The advice she would give other entrepreneurs
Meet Lou Martin
My name is Louida Martin, but I prefer to be called Lou. I’ve been living in the metro Atlanta area of Georgia for nearly two decades, though I’m originally from northern California. I’m with my high school sweetheart and a proud mother of two teenage girls.
Why She Created Product Review Mom
My goal with Product Review Mom is to share my discoveries of various products and services with my readers and followers.
Before starting my blog, I participated in market research panels where I provided feedback on unreleased products and earned compensation for my time. Although I couldn’t discuss new product development, I wanted to share with others how they could participate in similar programs for product reviews.
I first shared this information with other members on a writer’s platform called Squidoo, back in 2008, where I was invited to join their free writer’s boot camp.
This experience taught me how to improve my writing skills, including storytelling and making my writing relatable to readers. I also learned how to monetize my writing by joining affiliate programs.
When Squidoo shut its doors, I created Product Review Mom to continue sharing my experiences and reviews with others.
Over the years, my blog and income have both grown. I established Product Review Mom in 2012 and transitioned to full-time in 2016. My dedication to maintaining consistency in my blog posts and my passion for what I do allow me to leave my job and become self-employed.
How Much Money She’s Making
I’m proud to say that my blog is a prosperous source of income, generating six figures annually.
My monthly earnings range between $10k-$20k, with affiliate marketing programs being my primary source of income. Mediavine and Panthera Network are two of my main programs.
Additionally, I earn money from display ads, sponsored social media posts, and sponsored blog posts.
Essentially, I make 80% of my income from affiliate marketing, 15% from ads, and 5% from sponsored posts. I’m in a total of 6 affiliate programs but mainly use 3.
For those unfamiliar, affiliate marketing is an arrangement where affiliates receive a commission for each visit, signup, or sale they generate for a merchant. For example, I earn a commission when someone signs up for a program I promote on my blog or clicks one of my links and makes a purchase.
It took me approximately three years of hard work to reach my current level of income revenue.
I currently work three days per week, but when I began blogging, I worked daily. My dedication and effort paid off, as now my income is passive, allowing me to earn money without actively working. As a result, I can work fewer hours and still maintain my income.
Lou’s Top Marketing Strategy
To effectively market my brand, I prioritize creating new and relevant content regularly, which is to say 1 or 2 times per week.
Additionally, I add fresh updates to my existing blog posts to keep them current.
When it comes to the reviews, companies provide me with products, so I test out the product and give my honest opinions. Of course, not all products are reviewed if they don’t fit my current lifestyle.
Since I’m a storyteller, I like reviewing products that would improve my life and would be helpful for my readers and followers.
The Importance of SEO
To increase traffic to my blog, I prioritize optimizing it for search engines. This means regularly reviewing the keywords people use to find my blog using Google Console Tools and creating valuable content that aligns with those keywords.
I only use Search Console to find keywords and see what blog posts are doing the best. Then, based on this information, I create follow-up content using some of the high-ranking keywords to boost traffic to my blog.
I gained knowledge about SEO through the writer’s boot camp with Squidoo in 2008. I applied this knowledge when I created my blog.
Rather than making my focus on link building, I aim to create compelling content that my readers will want to share with others. By doing so, I attract natural links from other websites.
I do subscribe to HARO though, where I provide my expertise to journalists.
Lou’s Content Creation Process
As a content creator, I focus on current trends and seasonal themes. For example, I write about spring-related topics during the spring season and suggest products that my readers may enjoy during the warm season. Also, I write reviews of spring-themed products.
I enjoy evaluating products and services that align with my lifestyle. My reviews typically cover beauty products, clothing, cars, food, local events, and travel experiences. To ensure a fair evaluation, I only review items that I use regularly in my daily life.
I use social media to share my blog posts and exclusive content that is not published on my blog. I prefer using Instagram, Facebook, Twitter, and Pinterest. Social media provides a fantastic opportunity to connect with my followers more personally.
Her Email List
On my blog, I keep my readers updated with my latest blog posts through an email list. I use an RSS feed service to automatically share my blog posts with those who have signed up for my email list.
I keep my subscription to my email list button on the side of my blog near my About Me profile, so readers can see it and sign up. I don’t have any email list signup pop-ups, so it doesn’t mess up my reader’s experience.
At the moment I have 1719 people on my list.
Lou’s Favorite Resources
To keep up with the latest search engine news, I rely on websites such as www.seroundtable.com. When I need inspiration for content, I turn to Pinterest.
Her Top Tools
One of the most helpful tools that I use is called Grammarly. It assists me with my writing by ensuring that my spelling, grammar, and punctuation are accurate.
Another one of my go-to tools is Canva, which I use to create visually appealing images and edit my photos with its photo editor.
Also, another helpful platform I rely on is Fiverr, where I can find web developers to assist me with my SEO and any blog-related issues.
Lou’s Biggest Challenge
There are times when I have blogging burnout, so I take a step back from my blog by reposting old content until I find ideas on content to write about.
Essentially, I update old posts with current information and new pictures to keep my blog content relevant. After making these changes, I repost the content with today’s date. This way, new readers to my blog can still benefit from the refreshed material.
Another challenge I face is dealing with Google’s Algorithm Updates. It’s not uncommon for my blog to rank highly on their platform only to fall in the ranks after an update.
I recently experienced Google’s Product Review Update, which involves changes to its rules. Specifically, Google now requires reviewers to provide readers with the option to purchase a product from multiple merchants instead of just one. So, for instance, if I’m reviewing a lipstick, I must mention various places where the reader can buy it.
Her Greatest Accomplishment
One of my greatest achievements is having the opportunity to stay at home with my daughters.
Thanks to blogging, I can actively participate in their lives and take advantage of crucial moments. Since the end of their elementary school years, I have been a stay-at-home mom and have been able to be with them through all their milestones.
What She Wishes She Knew When She Started
It’s common for some individuals not to show support towards you. Don’t let the negative comments affect you, and continue pursuing your passions.
Developing thick skin in this profession is important, as some may disagree with your views. However, it’s essential to remember that those individuals are not your target audience and your loyal supporters will stand out.
Her Main Mistake
One of my major mistakes was allowing anyone to do a guest post on my blog. Unfortunately, I was only concerned with having fresh content, resulting in my blog being tagged as spam by Google.
This led to a significant traffic loss, and I had to remove all guest posts. As a result, I am cautious about who I let be a guest on my blog.
In the past, I allowed guest post spammers to post on my blog in exchange for a backlink to their website or their client’s website. I wasn’t aware of the negative impact this could have on my blog’s rankings.
My main concern was having a high volume of new content, regardless of its quality. However, when Google penalized me, I realized my mistake and had to remove all the guest posts from my blog. This occurred in 2013, if I recall correctly.
Her Advice For Other Entrepreneurs
Start a business that you genuinely care about and maintain consistency. Even if you don’t achieve immediate success, keep hope. Remember that starting a business is a process that could take several years to see results.