Christina Marie had some time on her hands, so she decided to start a blog. As she was particularly passionate about beauty, Very Easy Makeup
She didn’t know anything when she started, but little by little she learned about affiliate marketing, SEO, and everything else you need to know to build a successful niche site.
As she likes to experiment, she went on to create several other sites and YouTube channels in different niches, from cruising and Halloween to women’s fashion, though her makeup site is her primary business.
Christina Marie has been riding the rollercoaster: from issues with her hosting to suffering from Google’s updates, her philosophy is simple: be grateful for the small stuff, keep your eye on the prize, and stick with it.
Today she’s earning $5k, almost entirely from Amazon Associates.
Keep reading to find out:
- What other websites she created
- How she built up her makeup site
- Which of her new websites were a flop
- Her other sources of income
- Her top marketing and strategy tips
- Her thoughts on SEO
- Her approach to keyword research
- How she creates content
- Her favorite resources and tools
- Her main challenge
- Her greatest accomplishment
- The biggest mistake she made
- Her advice for other entrepreneurs
Table of Contents
Meet Christina Marie
My blogging name is Christina Marie and I’m an outgoing, active, and energetic person.
I love going out with friends and I would call myself an efficiency queen. I just get things done really quickly.
I started my blogs to kind of keep me busy at night and fill in the time on the weekends in the early mornings or afternoons when I had extra time on my hands and got bored.
Why She Created Her Site(s)
I created Very Easy Makeup
thanks to a guy friend of mine who owns a digital marketing company. I was telling him about how I missed the creative and strategic side of marketing, as I used to do brand management, and how I didn’t get that in my current job, which is technical project management, believe it or not!
He suggested I start a website doing beauty and makeup product reviews…and that’s how I got started!
My advice for new bloggers is to really just get started!
I literally just signed up for hosting with Bluehost, bought a URL that was available, and started typing away and writing 4 to 5 articles. Then I bought a website theme from Etsy and went from there!
As for ideas… I have so many ideas!! I never run out. I wish I had time to write all the articles that come to mind.
The business started with me writing about makeup and beauty products from Sephora and Amazon.
So, I wrote about things like my favorite eyelash builder, or my favorite blush for blondes. I wrote guides about “very easy makeup” tips for beginners and made very easy makeup tutorials too.
But then I realized that the problem with the theme of “very easy makeup” is that you run out of things to talk about. Also, I’m actually not a big fan of makeup or beauty products I found out. I use what I love and that’s it. Whoops! I guess my first idea wasn’t brilliant.
So I slowly started to expand my topics.
Not the best for having a niche website, but I wrote about different things for fun. That’s what I love about having my own website. I can write about what I want, when I want.
As a friend said, it’s kind of like throwing spaghetti on the wall and seeing what sticks!
So I wrote about how to bleach your hair blonde, about my favorite music, about outfit ideas for fall, about the best swimsuits to hide a belly pooch (an idea that I got from a women’s Facebook group!), about wedding guest outfits, about Halloween costumes, and about low-calorie foods to eat at quick service restaurants.
I was literally all over the place.
From this, I learned what didn’t work (like my articles about my favorite music) and what did work (like hair articles, Halloween costume ideas, and low-calorie foods). Then, I used that to spring off and create MORE websites! Yes, more websites!
It didn’t seem to make sense to have healthy eating tips on a women’s fashion and beauty blog, so I created a new website just for that: The Jeans Fit.
It didn’t seem to make sense to have a ton of Halloween costume articles on a beauty blog, so I created a new website with Halloween costume ideas: A Plus Costumes.
It didn’t seem to make sense to have cute baby clothes or matching family swimsuits on a women’s fashion/beauty blog, so I created a new website with family outfit ideas and cute baby clothes: Cute Munchkin.
And it got confusing having articles like the best plus size wedding guest dresses and the best wedding guest dresses on one website, so I created a website just for curvy fashion: Curvy Styled.
I don’t write for many of the websites that often… I spend most of my time on my makeup and Halloween costume sites, but I like having different sites to “play,” have fun, and experiment with.
I even created a men’s fashion website called Clothes 4 Guys which I don’t work on anymore, but it’s out there! It’s absolutely horribly done, but it was a fun experiment.
And believe it or not, I even started a dating website for men. I won’t list the website because it’s embarrassing, but I learned that men don’t search the internet for dating advice like women do, so that site was kind of a flop.
Another “business” that I’ve started is as a Holland America YouTube expert. This is another example of me not being focused, experimenting, and just seeing what works. I posted 4 or 5 YouTube videos on my Very Easy Makeup YouTube channel, and they took off!
And then I was thinking, “Hmm… It doesn’t really make sense to have 70-year-old men subscribing to a YouTube channel about hair, makeup, and cute outfits for young women.”
So I created a new YouTube channel just for cruising, called Cruise Tips with Christina. It’s not making me any money yet and YouTube hardly pays at all, but it’s lots of fun and I enjoy it.
Maybe one day Holland America will want to do a partnership with me!
How Much She’s Earning
Believe it or not, the majority of my money is made on Amazon Associates through their affiliate program. My conversion rate varies, but at times it’s as high as 15%. I’m averaging $5k per month at the moment.
I also make money via ads with Mediavine on my makeup website and through the shopping app, LTK. However, Amazon continues to be the biggest driver of my income.
It really took me a solid two years to start making money on Very Easy Makeup. It’s a slow game.
I know that there are people out there who talk about making thousands of dollars after just a few months. My advice for bloggers starting out is that those are not the majority! Just the most successful people talk about how much money they make.
My goal when I started blogging was just to make enough money to pay for coffee and maybe a breakfast sandwich at the coffee shop once a week. I was really not making any money after I started, even after 6 months of going at it.
It’s embarrassing to admit how many hours I spend on my business a week. It’s astronomically high. If I were paid hourly, I’d definitely be making less than minimum wage.
I probably work on it at least an hour a day and sometimes up to 5 hours a day. During Covid, I couldn’t sleep very well, so I would wake up at 3 am and work on my website for a solid 5 to 6 hours before starting my work day, and then I’d work on it again at night.
How Much Traffic She’s Getting
As I manage a few sites, the traffic varies substantially. A few years ago, I was getting 50k visits to my makeup site a month. Then, I had a hosting provider make a mistake on my website with a redirect and my traffic plummeted. I still haven’t recovered! My other website traffic varies, too.
My fitness and nutrition website was getting around 15k visits a month. Then Google had another algorithm update and my traffic dropped again. My Halloween costume website is just starting to grow traffic.
I guess the theme is that my traffic has been all over the place. It’s really a hard game for bloggers now with all the updates, and I’m fortunate that this is more of a hobby for me vs. a source of income.
For example, I used to have an article about how to use Wella T18 to bleach your hair blonde. The article was getting around 25k views a month and now it gets less than 100.
Riding the Google algorithm roller coaster is not my idea of a fun ride!
Christina Marie’s Marketing and Strategy Tips
For my marketing strategy, I use Pinterest, Facebook, and YouTube. Pinterest is probably my top marketing strategy after SEO, but I get very few clicks to my website through Pinterest.
I would like to share with you my overall business strategy, and a few things I’ve learned along the way.
Here are my strategy tips for new bloggers out there:
- Make sure you love it
After a hosting company messed up a redirect on a website, my traffic plummeted. I literally went from 50k visits a month to around 10k visits a month (or less) and there were days when I actually lost money (because people can return things on Amazon, and then they take back the money).
The only thing that kept me going was that I love creating content.
- It’s okay to tackle social media and your website at once
I know that some people say you should stay focused on your website and not try to tackle too much social media (like YouTube, Facebook, Instagram, and your website) all at once.
I even read to just focus on your website and to not get distracted with things like YouTube right away, especially since it has little ROI.
However, I’m so, so glad that I didn’t follow that advice! One of my most popular YouTube videos was made a few years ago, and I’m so glad that I created it vs. waiting until later.
My advice is to just do it! Try new things, too!
- Just DO IT!!
Some of my first Very Easy Makeup YouTube videos are horrible quality. Really.
Some of my pins on Pinterest were ugly.
And the articles that I wrote years ago are definitely never going to rank on Google. But guess what?
You can’t learn until you make mistakes, and sometimes those poorly made things (like my horrible pin and my horrible YouTube video) take off!
- Take an SEO Course
I wish I had invested money from the get-go to take an SEO course. I paid for the Stupid Simple SEO course by Mike. His class was great!
Next, I’d like to take one of the classes from Income School. If you don’t have money from the get-go, that’s okay. You can learn a ton from YouTube. Neil Patel is a good start.
- Google content before you write it
I write about beauty and fashion a lot, which means that I’m often competing against big publishers like Byrdie, Good Housekeeping, and Marie Claire.
Now, Google is showing more and more ads and retail sites. So now I avoid writing content where I’ll be competing with ads (for example, to buy a cute wedding dress at the top of Google) or with big publishing companies or with retailers. I’ll just never win!
See what content is ranking before you write it.
- Write content with 0 searches
There’s this concept of zero volume keywords, which are keywords that Semrush and Ahrefs show as having a zero search volume. But, if you start typing a phrase into Google… Google auto-completes it!
This means that people are in fact searching for it!
I discovered this when I was working on my fitness/healthy eating website and started typing in “lowest calorie desserts at…” and it filled out Kaspa’s! I was like, “Kaspa’s”? What’s that?!
It’s actually a dessert restaurant in the UK! But I did my research, wrote about their lowest-calorie desserts, and got really good traction on the article!
- Expand outside of your blog
I haven’t done this yet, but it’s a strategy I want to get to in the long term. I’ve seen other bloggers do it, where they start with a blog and now have their own product line.
I think the main way to make money in this game is to not rely on your blog. Use it as a starting point, but really the money is in having your own product, and selling that.
So maybe I’ll get to that point one day, and that will be my way of making my way back into brand management and being the big boss lady of my own CPG product.
You never know what will work! And that’s one thing I love about having my own blog.
I don’t have to get approval from anyone, a budget from anyone, or worry about whether something is in line with the brand or not.
Experiment with TikTok, experiment with YouTube, and try a new topic to write about. You never know what will work!
- Grow as you go
I started with no SEO tools, super cheap hosting, and a basic website theme, and that works!
Now I pay for really good hosting, Semrush, and a nicer website theme, but you don’t need all of that from the get-go!
Eventually, I may outsource writing to others, pay people to edit my YouTube videos, and pay for more analytical tools or a virtual assistant to manage my Pinterest strategy, but for now, I’m good, and you can be too!
- Have multiple sites
I love having multiple websites. When one plummets in traffic, it’s nice to have another website to work on for a while to distract yourself.
Plus, I’ve found it helpful for A/B testing, like a new website template, or for testing technical glitches!
For example, I tried out one hosting provider (and then left them) and they added a “www” before “veryeasymakeup.com” but not before “thejeansfit.com.”
I asked them to remove the www as I had noticed the traffic drop for my makeup site. They said that the www didn’t matter, but it did!
It’s nice to have multiple sites, not only for diversity but also for testing out technical glitches or to see if a Google algorithm update impacted all of your sites or just one.
- Bonus tip: Take a break!
This isn’t so much a strategy for blogging but, rather, a strategy for anyone running their own business.
Take a break! When you take a break, creative ideas flow to your mind. I’ve also found that working less hours forces you to prioritize and focus on what gives you the most bang for your buck.
The Importance of SEO
SEO is everything.
I’ve done Pinterest, YouTube, Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram, but at the end of the day, appearing on page #1 in Google is the main driver of my traffic.
I’d like to get better at driving traffic to my website via Pinterest and YouTube, especially with all the algorithm updates, but I haven’t cracked that code yet.
When I started blogging, my keyword research strategy was mostly just writing about what I loved or typing phrases into Google and seeing what auto-populated.
Today I still come up with articles that I want to write that are related to either fashion, beauty, and hair; however, now I use Semrush to see how competitive the term is.
I choose keywords with a volume of at least 50 and a keyword difficulty of less than 20. Then, I type the phrase into Google to see what shows up. If a large blog (like Popsugar or Byrdie) appears, I don’t write the article.
Her Content Creation Process
I have main “buckets,” or categories, for my women’s lifestyle blog: beauty, fashion, swimsuits, holidays and events, and lifestyle.
Under each of these umbrellas, I have sub-categories like hair and makeup under beauty, Amazon fashion finds and wedding guest outfits under fashion, and Halloween costumes under holidays and events.
Then, I write articles that fall under each category. It really depends on my mood or what’s lacking. Eventually, I’ll probably delete entire sections on my site that aren’t performing and narrow down my niche/focus.
Currently, I have over 640 articles on my site.
Christina Marie’s Favorite Resources
I like Income School, Matt Diggity, Neil Patel, and Brian Dean for SEO tips on YouTube.
For podcasts, I enjoy listening to The Blogging Millionaire and Niche Pursuits.
For fun, I really enjoy listening to How I Built This, by Guy Raz. That’s where I learned that you really have to love what you are doing if you’re going to be a successful entrepreneur.
I also like The Small Business Big Marketing Podcast with Tim Reid. He’s a fun guy in Australia who’s so enjoyable to listen to!
Her Go-To tools
The most useful tools I use are my laptop, my Logitech ergonomic keyboard, my wireless Logitech mouse, and my two large computer monitors. And of course, fast internet!
YouTube is super helpful for learning how to do things, and WPBeginner has articles that are great for learning how to do things on WordPress, too.
I also use Canva (the paid version) and Semrush, but that’s about it!
Her Main Challenge
Those Google algorithm updates are a pain in the butt at times!
But I’d say the biggest challenge was when a prior hosting company messed up… big time.
I asked them basically to “copy and paste” Very Easy Makeup to A Plus Costumes so that I could copy over the plugins and the custom coding changes I had made to my website. Instead, they did a redirect from one site to the other.
The result? I completely lost all of my traffic on my makeup site. I went from making really good money to nothing in a day.
Google completely recrawled my website, articles that used to rank stopped ranking completely, and new articles from my site started to rank instead, but nowhere close to the volumes that my prior articles were receiving.
It was really devastating, and I still haven’t recovered 2 years later. It was heartbreaking to go from making really good money to losing money daily. Let’s just say I’ll never go back to that hosting provider, and I’m glad to be with who I have now, which is BigScoots.
Her Greatest Accomplishment
When I started out, just being able to set up a website was a big accomplishment.
Proving to myself that I’m capable of figuring out the technical details to create a website and to have an article show up on Google in the search results—that was a big accomplishment.
After that, getting more than 10 visitors to my website was a big win, and the first $5 I made via Amazon Affiliates was also a big win. You really have to appreciate everything!
After that, getting to 1,000 subscribers and monetizing my YouTube channel, Very Easy Makeup, was a big win.
Most recently, I went on a Holland America cruise and three different couples recognized me from my YouTube channel, Cruise Tips with Christina, and said that they watched my videos and loved them!
That made me really proud and completely made my day. The fact that people recognized me and found the content helpful was a big accomplishment for me, especially since I feel like I’m just winging it with YouTube.
What She Wishes She Knew When She Started
I wish I had known more about how SEO worked.
I spent lots of time writing articles like,“The Top 10 Christmas Sweaters for Women.”
Now I know that I have no chance of rating for those articles, especially now that Google is showing retailers for this type of search term vs. a top 10 list.
I have so many articles that should probably just be trashed.
Her Main Mistake
The great thing about blogging is that you can’t make any “big” mistakes, as the upfront investment to start a website or a YouTube channel is minimal.
Her Advice for Other Entrepreneurs
Make sure you’re passionate about what you’re doing.
There are many ups and downs when building a business, and if you aren’t passionate about what you do, it will be very difficult to have the perseverance to work through the hard and frustrating parts of building a business.
You need passion and excitement to get you through!