Top
3 Behind-the-Scenes Secrets to Profitable Blogging

Paid Maternity Leave: How I Made $135,000+ in 4 months in 2020

When you’re self-employed, paid maternity leave is kind of a joke. But as it turns out, I was able to take four months off and still make money ($135,000+, in fact!). In this Parental Leave Income Report, we’re looking back on what worked and what didn’t while I was on parental leave (with no FMLA) and I’ll also share my business strategy and tips to help you prepare to take time off from your business for what matters most.
When you're self-employed, paid maternity leave is kind of a joke. But as it turns out, I was able to take four months off and still make money ($135,000+, in fact!). In this Parental Leave Income Report, we’re looking back on what worked and what didn’t while I was on parental leave (with no FMLA) and I’ll also share my business strategy and tips to help you prepare to take time off from your business for what matters most.

I’m baaaaaaack! After four months of maternity leave with my new daughter, Gemma Mason (born May 2020), I am back at work with so much exciting news to share.

Last time I took a maternity leave, I earned $58,000 from my blog. And truly, I thought that was winning the lottery, hitting the jackpot, the best it could ever be. But the second time around, I was able to manifest an even better scenario: $135,000 in 4 months (April-July 2020), during a pandemic and social justice awakening, while I snuggled my new babe and played with my toddler (Jackson will be 2 next month!).

Now a few things were different this time around (like, ummm…. we weren’t allowed to leave the house), and I did end up working a teeny bit during this leave. Basically, I would attend our team meeting on Monday mornings to check in with my amazing employees and stay on top of what was happening in the business, and I also attended weekly mastermind calls and a few other meetings. I handed off most of my emails, but still responded to a few priority messages, and I recorded a couple podcast episodes because when Amy Porterfield agrees to an interview, YOU SAY YES!

But all things considered, I essentially took as much time off as a self-employed business owner with employees can, and spent maximum time at home with my family… AND still made over six-figures!!! Here’s how I did it:

A quick disclaimer before we get into it:

Please know, the goal of these income reports is not to brag or show off or pat myself on the back (though it’s always a good idea to celebrate your own successes, too!). Rather, my goal with these income reports is three-fold:

  1. to help anyone interested in starting a blog learn the ropes and find inspiration and motivation to be successful and change your life, whether that’s simply finding an outlet for your passion, improving your financial situation by making some extra money, or finally quitting your job and making six figures working for yourself. I hope that by sharing my own journey, my transparency and story might help you to achieve your dreams.
  2. to show fellow skeptics (hi, I used to be one of you when I was a full-time journalist who wrote for real publications and turned my nose up at bloggers who were running their blogs without integrity, transparency and a business mindset) that it IS possible to make money online and to do so while keeping your soul intact.
  3. to help myself. Yes, I’ll admit it. I do have some selfish motivation for publishing these income reports. Because quite honestly, it’s a great opportunity for me to reflect on my business, to look back and see what worked and what didn’t, to learn from my mistakes and to track my achievements.

I’ve been self-employed for nearly a decade at this point, but since I began blogging full-time in January of 2017, my life has exponentially improved.

I’m finally writing the stories that I want to tell, I’m finally helping others to live happier, healthier and more fulfilling lives, and I’m doing it ALL on my own terms.

I’m so proud and happy to report that life is so much better now that I’m truly my own boss and a full-time blogger. I look forward to each and every day–I wake up excited to work, I’m always learning something new and I love the challenge of running your own business, constantly coming up with new ways to monetize and help people, simultaneously.

Alright, enough talk. Let’s take a look at the numbers.

Paid Maternity Leave Income: $136,341.57

RELATED:  001: My Soulful Journey - From Burned Out Corporate Copywriter to Six-Figure Blogger and Business Owner

Total Expenses: $74,584.26

I’ve changed up how I report my expenses a bit here to streamline and simplify. Instead of listing out the exact expenses for each item, I’m just going to list out some of my favorite resources and services that I use every month to help me keep the blog up, running and profitable.

  • Active Campaign (this is how I email my list; I used to use ConvertKit)
  • Foodie Digital: The SEO/tech firm who manages rootandrevel.com and katekordsmeier.com
  • Gusto: Payroll (super easy and incredible customer service)
  • Quickbooks: Bookkeeping and invoicing software (save $100 off your first year with our link!)
  • 238 Accountingbookkeeping and money mindset coaching
  • Leadpages: The tool I use to make opt-in pop-ups, forms, and landing pages
  • WP Recipe Makercreate cute recipes cards and essential for any recipe posts for SEO + organizing data
  • NutrifoxAllows you to create custom nutrition labels effortlessly
  • Audible: My favorite way to “read” business and personal development books (here are some of my faves!)
  • TailwindThe scheduler I use for Pinterest (Tribes + SmartLoop are great!)
  • BluehostWhen you run a blog, you have to use a web host, which is like renting space online to display your blog. There are dozens of hosting services out there, but the best, cheapest and easiest option for beginning bloggers is Bluehost. Once my traffic reached 50,000 pageviews, I upgraded to a more expensive host. But if you’re just starting out, Bluehost is the way to go.

Net Profit: $61,757.31

Whew! I know that’s a lot to take in. One of the things I hope people will takeaway from these reports is just how much work, energy, thought and heart goes into running a blog. It’s not just as simple as slapping up a few words and an iphone photo and pressing publish.

RELATED:  008: How to Change Your Money Mindset with Kelly Marshall

Before we get into the details, I also wanted to share my traffic totals for Maternity Leave (May through July 2020).

Traffic Totals

Traffic Overview: 555,796 pageviews (note, this is less than the pageviews RR received over my last maternity leave when my income was 1/3 of what it was this time!)

Top Ten Traffic Sources

Top 5 Posts on Root + Revel:
  1. DIY Mold Remover: How to Get Rid of Black Mold Naturally (Without Bleach!)
  2. Top Sources for Organic Meat Delivery
  3. How I Got Pregnant with PCOS on my First Try
  4. PCOS Diet
  5. Homemade Face Oil Recipe 
Email List

Note: This screenshot comes from my dashboard in Active Campaign.

  • The Kate Kordsmeier email list (shown in the screenshot above) has been growing steadily every day in large part because of our Facebook ads. We gained 9,142 new active subscribers in total during this time period, or about 2,300 per month.
  • The Root + Revel email list actually got pruned VERY heavily during this time, so even though our subscribers grew by nearly 50 new contacts per day, our list was actually smaller at the end of maternity leave than at the start. And yet, we still made more money. Another lesson in bigger isn’t always better. We are still dealing with bots, which is why I don’t have an accurate screenshot to share here.
RELATED:  015: How to Write Email Marketing Campaigns that Convert with Tarzan Kay
RPM: $139.55

This RPM is just for Root + Revel, so I am only counting the income my lifestyle blog brought in and the pageviews that site specifically received, and excluding my course income and pageviews to katekordsmeier.com.

Note: RPM stands for Revenue Per Mille, or the revenue earned per 1,000 pageviews. When you look at RPM, you put the focus on optimizing your revenue as efficiently as possible, rather than just getting the most people to your site. For example, a site with 100,000 pageviews and a $1 RPM makes $100, while a site with 20,000 pageviews and a $10 RPM makes $200. This is good news because it means you don’t have to have TONS of traffic to make a great income. In fact, when you niche down and focus on providing as much value as possible to your current audience, you earn more money. 

Maternity Leave Takeaways 

How I Prepared for Self-Employed Parental Leave

I won’t lie–preparing for extended time off when you are the boss and manage a team of people is not easy. And I also couldn’t have taken this time away and earned what I did without my team (Sarah and Mara, you make my life infinitely better!). And a team of people may not be in the cards for you. That’s okay–remember I earned $58,000 last maternity leave with just a part-time VA to help me!

That being said, there are some strategic business ideas that we implemented to keep our revenue up during this time and I want to share those below:

  • Evergreen Webinar Funnel: In January, I live launched my course, the Six-Figure Blog Academy, and brought in over $100,000 in two weeks. MIND BLOWN! But launching is exhausting and a huge time commitment and I knew I wouldn’t be able to do it again until Q4. So I made a plan to turn my course onto evergreen, and using Amy Porterfield’s Digital Course Academy evergreen plan, I was able to earn income from my course every single month without having to lift a finger. It is honestly life-altering how much ease and abundance this brought me and I’m not sure that I will ever live launch again now that I’ve discovered the beauty of evergreen! While it was a lot of work to set it up, and pretty technical at that (we use Deadline Funnel and Demio to make this happen), now it just runs on auto-pilot and we have been able to bring in around $10,000 in new revenue every month from this funnel. As we work to optimize our funnel, tweaking emails and webinars and ads, I hope to grow this even more in the future. My goal is to get to $25,000 in new revenue from my evergreen funnel every single month. It’s happening…no, as a true manifestor would say–it’s already happened!
  • Pre-Recorded Interviews: I am so excited to share that I launched my podcast, Success with Soul, in April. But in order to take time off for maternity leave and have weekly podcast episodes drop, I pre-recorded two dozen interviews and episodes in advance. This was definitely a lot of hustle in preparation for taking time off, but I batch recorded episodes (meaning I’d record 2 days a week, 3-4 episodes at a time) and then outsourced the rest. I hired an amazing producer and utilized my in-house copywriter to write the show notes, blog posts and email announcements for each episode. So all I had to do was show up, hit record and then hand everything else off. It was a DREAM because I was able to stay in my zone of genius, doing what lights me up (connecting with soulful female entrepreneurs) and delegate the rest. And I had new episodes coming out every week for 4 months, all while I was kissing my daughter’s delicious cheeks!
  • Passive Affiliate Income: As a seasoned blogger, Root + Revel now has an archive of hundreds of quality posts that are optimized for SEO and perform well on both Google and Pinterest. So people find us pretty easily. Those posts are well monetized with affiliate links, so we earn money on them long after they were first published. And some of our posts did really well during COVID/quarantine, which in turn skyrocketed some of our affiliate income. In fact, in May 2020, we made $18,797.39 from affiliate income alone. And this was totally, 100% passive as we hardly produced anything new! On top of our blog posts, we have many ways for our readers to join our email list, where we have 5 different nurture series that we send our subscribers based on what they’re interested in. These email auto-responders are also optimized with affiliate links and value so our subscribers feel loved and supported on their journey. Root + Revel is now a well-oiled machine that doesn’t require a whole lot of work from me anymore. So we’ve entered “maintenance mode” and cash our paychecks from our previous work day after day. More on that below in the goals section.

Goals for the Rest of 2020

I officially came back to work the first week of August and I have to say, though there have been some overwhelming moments as I’m getting caught up, I’m coming back newly energized, motivated and so excited for everything the rest of 2020 has in store.

Life looks a bit different these days–not only do I have 2 kids, but they are both at home with Matt and I for the foreseeable future due to COVID. So with the exception of some help with Jackson from my mom, we have no childcare and way fewer hours to get work done. But I am surrendering to this rebirth and opening myself up to all of the possibilities this time can bring to my family and my business.

That means I’m relying on my team now more than ever–and we’re growing. I hired a new FB Ads manager who is crushing it! I hired a Pinterest manager to help us create and grow our presence on that platform and drive more traffic to KK. And we’re currently hiring our first full-time virtual assistant. I hope to also add an affiliate manager to our team (know anyone?) and potentially a social media manager and publicist. We’ll see. I’m putting it out into the Universe and patiently awaiting what comes next. I am in receiving mode these days, inviting abundance and joy and ease into my life.

In fact, I have this sticky note on my computer right now–it says “How good can it get? And what if it was easy?”

Tactically speaking, here are my goals for the rest of the year:

  • Being of Service: Of course I couldn’t talk about goals without mentioning my entire reason for being–serving you, my dear readers, students and listeners! Helping you create purpose-driven, profitable online businesses without burning out/overworking so you can truly enjoy your life and find power and freedom is my #1 priority, and that will NEVER change. Over at R+R, empowering you to live a more natural, nourishing, vibrant life is my jam. Yes, it’s a business and yes, I need to make money from it to support my family. But providing service to my people, helping them achieve their best life, is always the main goal. Nothing fills my soul with more joy, purpose and satisfaction than knowing I’ve helped someone. Really and truly.
  • R+R Maintenance Mode: Over the course of my maternity leave, I did a lot of soul searching about what’s next for Root + Revel. And to be totally honest, I almost sold it. But thanks to my dear friend and mentor, Bjork Ostrom, I was persuaded to hang onto my baby and instead try putting it in what we’re now calling “maintenance mode”. Bjork encouraged me to think of it like a rental property, where I hire a property manager to maintain it, I check in a couple times a month to make sure things are running smoothly, and then I cash my check from the passive income the fruits of my earlier labor are still earning today. I loved that metaphor and that’s exactly the experiment that we’re doing for Q3 and Q4 of 2020. This does include sending a couple weekly email newsletters, republishing old content while we update and optimize it for SEO and monetization and publishing a couple of guest posts each month. Want to write for us? Apply here!
  • Launch my secret project: I’m working on something extra juicy and exciting right now and hope to launch it in Q4, so stay tuned! Hint: I’m taking TRIBE with Stu McLaren for inspiration.
  • Grow the Podcast: Right now, we’re getting about 250 downloads per episode. I’d love to see that number double (at least) so that we can expand our reach and make more of an impact and a positive difference in more people’s lives. Wanna help? Here’s what you can do:
    • Subscribe on the Apple Podcasts app, Google Podcasts App, Spotify or wherever you listen…This makes it possible for me to continue to provide free helpful content and bring you amazing guests.
    • Give us a rating and review with your honest feedback so we can improve and better serve you in the future. Plus, you could be featured on a future episode during our listener spotlights! Your reviews are super helpful and motivating to me personally, but beyond that, reviews help with rankings which helps others find the show and allows me to keep providing you with free content every single week.
    • Share the podcast with your friends, family, co-workers, etc!
    • Don’t forget to join the FREE Success with Soul Facebook Community where we have follow up conversations about the podcast episodes, and I often go LIVE to answer your burning questions. Plus you’ll get to hang out with like-minded bloggers and heart-centered online business owners exchanging PRICELESS feedback, encouragement, and other golden insights from the trenches. 

It’s All Thanks To You

Please know, I am keenly aware that I have the flexibility, freedom and finances to work on this blog as my full-time job because of YOU–dear reader, sharer, Pinner, commenter, Liker, customer or silent follower. Your support and participation in my community reaches beyond just this website. This month, I donated to a local doula’s GoFundMe page in your name. Sadly, this beautiful woman died after giving birth to twins, and with motherhood fresh on my mind, I felt compelled to contribute in some small way to her family. I hope you’ll join me.

I am so incredibly grateful for you! Thanks for showing up.

Affiliate Disclosure Policy

This post includes affiliate links, and I will earn a commission if you purchase through these links. Please note that I’ve linked to these products purely because I recommend them and they are from companies I trust. There is no additional cost to you.

 

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

Join the


Community

Join our free, private Facebook group to connect with other bloggers and online entreprenuers who are striving for (and achieving!) success with soul!
Join our tribe!
]