Sara Conklin certainly knows what it means to be frugal, as she comes from a long line of thrifty women.
After a relative told her about a self-imposed spending freeze where, for a year, she spent only on the things she needed, Sara was intrigued. She decided to try it out for herself and share her experience. Frozen Pennies was born.
With her experience as a teacher, a financial coach, and a writer, it made perfect sense for her to start a blog so she could share her expertise. Today she’s driving traffic to her site through SEO and Pinterest and earning $5k per month.
Keep reading to find out:
- Why she created her site
- How much she’s earning
- Where her income comes from
- How she drives traffic from YouTube
- Her thoughts on SEO and Pinterest
- How she does keyword research
- Her content creation process
- The resources and tools she uses
- Her biggest challenge
- Her greatest accomplishment
- Her main mistake
- Her advice for other entrepreneurs
Meet Sara Conklin
My name is Sara, and I own Frozen Pennies and three other sites: one in the business-to-business space, one in the pet niche, and one in the beverage niche.
I’m a wife of 26 years and a mom of three grown boys; one is married with two of his children. I am a grammie of a four-year-old girl and a one-year-old boy.
I retired from teaching preschool about seven years ago to pursue this writing dream of mine, become a financial coach, and start Frozen Pennies. I went to college for English, but only when I changed my major from banking and finance.
Who knew those three worlds (teaching, money, and writing) could collide into one business?
Why She Created Her Website
About six years ago, my niece told me how she had done this year-long spending freeze where she only purchased things that she needed.
I thought this was such a fun idea and decided that it was something I could do. My youngest son suggested I blog about it (as I’d always been interested in blogging but had no idea how or what I would write about).
So the year-long spending freeze turned into Frozen Pennies in January 2018. But over the years it evolved into so much more: a small social media presence, a YouTube channel, and multiple blogs just starting to get monetized.
At Frozen Pennies, I teach people how to save money, get out of debt, and live a frugal life.
I wrote an article on how to do a spending freeze. Although it’s been improved and updated, it’s more of the origin story: How To Do A No Spend Challenge.
How Much Sara is Earning
Right now, I’m bringing in about $5000 per month between Mediavine, my products, a little bit from affiliate income, and YouTube revenue.
Most of my products are ebooks and workbooks to help people save money and manage it better. As I work this year to increase my revenue, the area I’m focused on the most is getting better at selling my products. This includes better tripwires and flash sales on my list.
I also plan on running Facebook ads as soon as I have a proven lead magnet converting at 10% at least. Currently, 70% of my revenue is from Mediavine, 15% is from YouTube, and 15% is from my products. There is a small slice from affiliates, but it’s not enough to mention.
I work on my business all the time. Probably too much. I’m in my office from 8 am to 2 pm during the week, and then in the evenings, I might be doing something small to contribute. On weekend mornings, there’s always editing to do on blog posts or videos. I try to take at least one full day off and remove myself from all the screens.
As for traffic, summer is a quiet time for my site. I’m getting about 60,000 page views per month these last few months. In the first quarter of the year, I see about 100,000 per month.
Her YouTube Channel
My YouTube channel is Frozen Pennies, and I started in 2020 and posted 18 videos. And I’ll be honest, transparent, and vulnerable here and tell you I hated it.
I was doing hair, nails, makeup, and getting dressed up every time I recorded a video. That was not me. I was not being my authentic self, and there’s nothing worse for me than that feeling. So I stopped. I felt like I was supposed to be getting all “camera ready,” and that wasn’t me.
Then I went to Fincon in September of 2022, which changed my life. I realized that YouTube didn’t have to be a chore. It could be fun, and I could serve a new audience of people who needed and wanted to hear what I had to say without getting all fancy. A little eye makeup and lipstick, and I was ready to jump back in!
I decided to change my approach to be more authentic and myself.
Eight months ago, in October of 2022, I jumped back in. I had 710 subscribers and 725 watch hours in the past year at the re-startup point. I earned my 1000 subscribers and 4000 watch hours really fast. Within six weeks, I got my first YouTube paycheck in December. I catapulted into earnings very fast.
It doesn’t drive traffic to my site but adds subscribers to my list, which is my main goal. Everything I do is a marketing tool to get people on my list. SEO, Pinterest, YouTube, and blog posts are all marketing tools for my list.
Her Top Marketing Strategy
Regarding marketing, SEO and Pinterest are still my primary traffic sources. Many are wondering if Pinterest is still worth it. I genuinely believe it is. It’s different from 2019, when it was my golden key to Mediavine (back when it was only 25k sessions), but it still works.
It’s just a long game now, much like SEO. I’m working right now on Facebook and Facebook ads. But it’s too early to know if this is a lucrative branch in my money tree.
As for Pinterest, that platform has been a struggle. It helped me reach Mediavine levels, and then it died. I may have gotten caught up in some type of spam filter, but nothing I did could bring back traffic. So I hired a Pinterest manager that understood the game.
She is slowly healing what’s broken and bringing back my Pinterest traffic. The one course that has totally changed the way I do Pinterest is Carly Campbell’s Pinteresting Strategies. She knows how to interpret Pinterest in a way that nobody else does. In a time when so many are saying Pinterest is dead for us content creators, she’s repeatedly proving them wrong. My Pinterest manager uses Carly’s techniques.
The Importance of SEO
SEO is my number one strategy for getting traffic.
I learned about SEO about 18 months into my blogging journey. I had no idea what it was. Honestly, I never thought I could make money from having a website. I was doing it for fun, and it evolved into something amazing.
I took Stupid Simple SEO because all the cool kids were doing that. And I learned a lot but didn’t really jive with the creator. Then I took Blogging Like A Millionaire by Brandon Gaille and it all came together.
Also, Debbie Gartner had started to become a friend. And her SEO game is on point. So after taking all the SEO courses, I’ve devised my technique, mashing all these ideas together and adding my own spices for flavor.
As for keyword research, I do the ABC method and competitor research. I’ve used RankIQ for many long-tail keywords. With significant effort on backlinks last year, I have enough authority in my niche to go after more significant keywords.
The ABC method is simply typing into Google what you want. For example, type in, “How to save money on” and then add an “a” and allow Big G to auto-generate the responses.
The first to come up is a wedding (how to save money on a wedding). So then I Google that statement and use the Moz Chrome extension to see the DA of the sites that rank for that long tail keyword. If I think I can compete and do a better job, I will go all in on that article.
In my niche, backlinks are pretty important. I joined a mastermind that helped me write for some bigger publications to get those backlinks, which helped a lot.
I’m now at a DA of 60. I’ve heard that DA is “just a vanity number,” but the fact is that the number increases for a reason, earning you that authority. I think it’s more important than some might believe.
Her Content Creation Process
The research is my favorite part. Ideas for content come from everywhere. Pinterest, SEMRush, competitors, Google Search Console, and social media.
I like to see who is ranking for the keywords and ideas I find and then decide if I could do it better. Sometimes I do, and sometimes I choose a different path. My SEO game is strong.
I use AI tools but do not let them write for me. They are an excellent resource for ideas you may not have had or an approach to a topic you might not have thought of. At this time, I have hired a VA/writer to help me. I just have so many balls in the air. I cannot do it all by myself.
I have 279 articles on my site and publish about one new article weekly as I focus on YouTube and marketing improvements.
At the moment, It’s me, my VA, and my Pinterest manager working on my site. I found my VA Angela in the VA For Hire Facebook group. She can do anything. It’s also worth mentioning that I have an amazing circle of blogging friends who support me (and I, them). We are great friends, and I wouldn’t be here without them.
We met years ago in a Mastermind for newbies that Tracie Fobes had created, and we all became best friends. Tracie gave us a place to bond; I’ll forever be grateful.
Sara’s Email List
I have an email list with over 6,000 subscribers developed through lead magnets. I’m looking for the perfect conversion rate.
I email my list twice a week with valuable tips and tricks. Then I just started emailing every three weeks with a special flash sale. It’s going well so far. I use ConvertKit to manage my email system. It’s not my favorite. It feels very techy, and my brain doesn’t operate like that.
Her Favorite Resources
There is so much out there! I love Income School and Niche Pursuits on YouTube and Derrel Eves. Great information. Carly has Pinteresting Strategies that are like nothing else out there. If you want to learn Pinterest, she’s the queen!
Understanding the business side is important too. I’m a huge reader, so books like High-Performance Habits, Profit First, and The YouTube Formula are permanently on my bedside table.
Her Go-To Tools
The most helpful tool is a good circle of like-minded people. I started in Tracie Fobes’ membership group that she had years ago. And in that group, we all created a bond. There are about 7 of us who are still growing and learning. We all chat daily and have the ability to support each other while we bounce ideas and find inspiration in each other.
Another is Grammarly Premium. This might sound odd, but it made me a better writer (and I’m using it right now on these answers). Even though I won the 4th-grade spelling bee, I’m not great with spelling and grammar. The free version is no help, but the premium version is worth all the money!
And Leadpages. The ability to crank out a gorgeous landing page in half the time one might spend on a page inside WordPress is a game changer. The conversion rates are better, and the creative part cannot be beaten.
Her Biggest Challenge
Ugh, the niche.
Personal finance is complicated. It’s hard to ask people to spend money when you’re trying to teach them to save. It’s one of the reasons I started other sites in other niches. People love to spend money on pets and food. I plan on seeing growth here much faster than on Frozen Pennies.
Sara’s Greatest Accomplishment
My greatest accomplishment is that I’m still here. I will not give up. I am a moderator for a large blogging group on Facebook and I see it daily.
This is not a get-rich-quick scheme; it takes years to make a decent living. I’ve always been a goal-oriented person. The problem with goals is that once they’re met, you stop.
Want to run a 5K? Sure. I did and ran a few more and stopped. The goal was met. Here, in the blogging sphere, you’re never done. There is always something more to do, learn, compete, conquer. I’m determined to help as many people as possible while changing my family tree.
What She Wishes She Knew When She Started
Pick a different niche. If I knew then what I know now, I would have planned a different path. But the truth is also that I would have done it anyway. It’s a part of me; it’s who I am.
I don’t foresee doing anything else in its place. I would tell myself that the ups and downs would be much more than I thought and that the hockey stick moment is garbage. It’s more like a heartbeat line on an incline. Just keep moving forward.
Her Main Mistake
My biggest mistake would be shiny object syndrome. I see something new and fun and stray from my plan. I bought the new course and never opened it. I could have added more earnings from my business had I not purchased the courses I didn’t need. Be super careful. The blogging about blogging selling space can be tempting and a bit vicious!
Her Advice for Other Entrepreneurs
Learn all these avenues but understand that this is a business and you are in the business of making money. If you want to blog as a hobby, that’s really great, and I love that for you.
But if you want to make money, then treat it like a business. And don’t expect millions to roll in for the first 3 to 5 years. Some make it happen, but most of us are not millionaires yet.