Courtesy Latasha Peterson
Latasha Peterson was always a dabbler. The 39-year-old started performing musical theater in high school and continued through her twenties, appearing on acclaimed stages such as that of the Apollo Theater in New York. But she was making “almost nothing,” she says,
As such, the Chicago suburbs native had to find alternative ways of making money. “I was a brand ambassador. I did focus groups. I did surveys,” she says. Anything to make ends meet. After getting both a bachelor's and a master's in communications but struggling to find work in the field, she settled on substitute teaching at a performing arts high school around 2009. At that point, she was still doing shows on the side.
Then, in 2016, she got pregnant. And “something just shifted in me,” she says. “Like, I really had to focus on creating a future that can be sustainable with my husband.” That year, Peterson decided to start a blog in the hopes of one day making it a regular source of income. Arts and Budgets, as it's called, focuses on moneymaking and side hustles.
Today, Arts and Budgets brings in tens of thousands of dollars a year. That plus a few other online products helped Peterson bring in more than $122,000 in 2022.
Here's how the now mother of four built her multiple online income streams.
Peterson got inspired to start her site after learning about bloggers like Michelle Schroeder-Gardner of Making Sense of Cents, who makes $40,000 per month in passive income. “I was like, ‘wow,'” says Peterson. “If she could do it, I could do this.”
She started Arts and Budgets in early 2016 while still working as a substitute teacher sporadically. Initial posts included 50 side hustles you could do to make extra money and side hustles you could do as a musician. “I knew that I wanted to help individuals find profitable, legit side hustles,” she says. Eventually, she expanded her coverage to financial tips like the best budgeting tools.
In August 2016, just before giving birth, she quit substitute teaching altogether. By early 2017, she was working on the blog full time.
In her first year of diving into the business, Peterson spent hours on Facebook groups for bloggers, networking with other writers and picking up tips on how to grow the site. She also used Pinterest to spread the word, resharing posts with pins that directed those who clicked to her website.
As her page views began to number in the tens of thousands, she decided to start monetizing. In late 2016, Peterson signed up for ShareASale, an affiliate marketing platform. In 2017, she applied to Mediavine, which helps popular bloggers monetize their sites with ads. That's when she started seeing some revenue.
In July 2017, she made $52 from ShareASale, and between May and August of 2017, she made $1,650 on Mediavine. That year she also decided to incorporate her blog into an LLC to ensure a separation between her personal and business finances.
A few years later, in 2020, she started learning search engine optimization. As a result, from November 2020 to February 2021, her pageviews went from “40,000 to over 100,000,” she says. This, of course, also helped with revenue. This July she made about $94 on ShareASale and between May and August 2023 she made $9,417 on Mediavine.
In 2021, Peterson decided to expand her offerings beyond the blog. “I was getting so many people asking me, ‘how are you growing your blog?'” she says. So she decided to create a course to teach them, launching the Blog for Profit Academy in August of that year. These days, she's selling it for $997.
That year she also wrote an e-book about side hustles called “Side Hustle to Freedom,” that's now going for $15. And she started doing one-on-one coaching in side hustles and blog writing. She currently charges $297 per hour for it.
More recently, she's been doing sponsorship deals including posts on Instagram, TikTok and her blog. Two recent ones paid $1,400 and $2,200.
Altogether, she makes about 45% of her revenue from ads on her blog, 26% from digital products, 22% from sponsorships, 5% from affiliate marketing and 2% from one-on-one coaching.
For anyone keen to replicate Peterson's success, her advice would be to “study, study, study,” she says. The growth of her businesses has come as a result of constant learning and trying to be better. Even as her businesses have blossomed, Peterson actually hired a business coach in 2022.
“I wanted some more business training,” she says, adding that you should “always be learning.”
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