Julianne Brainard was working full-time at a law firm when she realized that corporate life was not for her.
Oh a whim, she created her blog,
, in 2018 as a place to share her travel adventures. Although she worked hard on her site for the first year, she didn’t see much success.
Julianne was about to give up on it when one of her pins went viral. As a result, she got 50,000 visitors to her website in one month and qualified for the ad network she wanted.
Today she drives traffic using a combination of Pinterest and SEO, and she’s earning $8k per month.
Keep reading to find out:
- How she felt about her day job
- What side hustle she’s working on currently
- Her thoughts on social media
- Where her income comes from
- Her main marketing strategies
- Her thoughts on SEO
- Her approach to keyword research
- How she creates content
- How she grows her email list
- Her go-to resources and tools
- Her biggest challenge
- Her greatest accomplishment
- Her main mistake
- Her advice for other entrepreneurs
Table of Contents
Meet Julianne Brainard
I live in Indianapolis with my husband, toddler daughter, and 5-year-old Havanese, Joey.
After law school, I worked at a large law firm, and then I worked in-house as a lawyer for a pharmaceutical company.
These days, I spend my time taking care of my daughter, volunteering in Indianapolis, and working on my ever-growing blog.
Why She Created Her Site
in 2018 while I was working full-time at a large law firm as a young associate attorney.
It was incredibly stressful. I was complaining to a coworker that I had no hobbies, and she correctly reminded me that my husband and I were constantly traveling, which certainly counts as a hobby!
So, that weekend, I literally Googled “how to start a blog,” read what I could, and jumped right in bright and early on Sunday morning.
At the time, we were traveling abroad fairly frequently, and so I just started blogging about our trips when we got home. Obviously, as time went on, I learned a lot more about blogging and transitioned out of the “diary-style” blog post into a better-researched, more informative post, some of which I still update to this day.
These days, the powerhouse of what I broadly define as my “blog,” including social media and mydrop-shipping store, truly is still… the website itself. I’m weirdly proud of that. It feels “old school” to me.
My husband actually came up with the idea of my. He was shopping for a Christmas gift for me and felt there wasn’t enough British murder mystery merchandise out there (which is true).
So I created some! It’s not a huge earner, but I had fun learning how to set up the Etsy store, connect with dropshipping companies, and interface with clients.
As far as social media, as a Millennial, I mostly use, but I also have , (formerly Twitter and formerly my favorite social media channel), and .
For the channels on which I’ve been successful (Instagram and Pinterest), the only “secret” I’ve found to grow the accounts is consistent posting and adjusting your posts to fit that specific social media channel.
You really can’t just post the same content across all of the social media channels and expect it to take off. They all want different content.
And, of course, genuinely engaging with other bloggers (not just commenting like “great shot!”) and making friends who help you grow!
How Much She’s Making
With a very notable, multi-year break for pandemic chaos, the blog has grown really well since I started it, just over 5 years ago. With a focus on European travel, it took me a really long time to recover from the pandemic.
Almost all of my revenue comes from hosting ads on my site, through. I also use quite a few affiliate link providers, all of which I’ve amalgamated below. I just calculated last month, October 2023, as an example.
Mediavine ad hosting: $8,434.93
– RewardStyle: $608.65
– Amazon Affiliates: $146.29
– Share-a-Sale: $64.05
– SkimLinks: $42.15
So the total for the month was $9,296.07, although on average I’d really say that I earn $8k per month.
Last month I had 196,468 sessions. It really fluctuates with the seasons, so I’m trying to diversify my articles so that I have articles that are popular at various times throughout the year.
As for how much time I spend on my blog, it’s definitely changed over the years. When I was working as a lawyer, it was really only nights and weekends. Now, I spend all available nap times (when I’m not doing chores), and weekend mornings working on the blog. I’d guestimate about 15 hours/week.
Julianne’s Top Marketing Strategy
I’m all about. I think bloggers really sleep on Pinterest or think it’s only for “my dream wedding” pictures.
Thousands of people visitevery day, looking for all sorts of information, from European travel tips to date night ideas in Indianapolis.
Looking at my stats, about 70% of my traffic comes from. I’m trying to diversify that since, as we’ve seen, you shouldn’t put all of your social media eggs in one basket!
These days, I mostly write for Google, but in the past I’ve really written for Pinterest, and I still do occasionally. See what’s trending and, if you have the knowledge and experience, create a blog post to satisfy that need.
The Importance of SEO
SEO comes for all bloggers in the end.
Even if you’re driving traffic to your blog in another way, eventually you’re going to need to SEO correctly. I recently invested inand I’ve been really happy with the help it’s given me.
I was very familiar with SEO as a concept when I started blogging (I am a marketing attorney, including websites and social media for big companies), but I didn’t really end up learning how to do it well myself until much more recently. What I did learn was mostly from other bloggers sharing their experiences, and just Googling around.
I don’t think my process and strategy are terribly unique.
I target accessiblethat I can rank for relatively quickly. That said, I only write about things I enjoy, places I’ve actually been to, etc. I can’t believe how many “10 things to do in X” are written by people who’ve clearly never been to these places…
I like to do a mix of keywords I can rank for very quickly and some that take a little more time and have a little more of a payoff when I do rank.
It’s great to rank quickly for something really “of the moment” or narrow, but those tend to become dated quickly, or the traffic just really isn’t that great.
I have a few unique gift list posts that have really powered my blog, year after year, and are worth all of the effort. Rounding up all the gifts and linking to them takes a lot more time than you’d expect.
This is on my “to-do” list for next year. I’ve honestly not been great about it. I’ll need to poke around some other interviews and see what your other bloggers do.
Send me your tips!
Her Content Creation Process
I generally wait for some sort of inspiration. And once I’m inspired, I become single-minded about churning out that blog post asap and do nothing else for a couple of days. My family doesn’t love this approach…
I am trying to post a new article once a week, and then I’m constantly going back and updating old posts, which is obviously much faster.
I’d say it takes me about 15 “billable” hours to write a new post from scratch. The hardest part is the initial drafting, but once it’s written, uploading pictures and adding all the links is easier and I do that while I watch new murder mysteries and debate whether they deserve a place in my lists.
I currently have about 200 posts live on the blog right now. I never actually “delete” old posts, even if, in hindsight, they’re really cringy. I have chosen to stop editing some that are too dated or so broad/scattered that they’ll never rank.
Her Email List
Mediavine has a great tool for collecting email addresses. Since I started using it, I have gotten far more subscribers than I ever did before. They also have a tool for auto-sending recently published/popular posts that I’ve been using.
It’s a lot less work than composing full newsletters, though I still do that occasionally!
I have about 3,000 subscribers on my. I’ve always had a subscribe button on my website, and even at the beginning, I was amazed how many people wanted to hear more!
Offering a useful, digital freebie is a great way to entice people to sign up for your email list. You can easily create something for your niche using Canva.
Her Go-To Resources and Tools
I found a really supportive blogging community through my social media channels. People are so willing to give personalized (free), helpful advice, if you just ask.
I read a lot of basic background information on SEO from sites like.
I honestly learned how to execute my SEO in practice with a lot of trial and error. I wouldn’t necessarily recommend this approach, because you end up with a lot of really messy blog posts that you have to go back and rewrite, but it was free, and it did eventually start working! I had a lot of free time during the pandemic.
As an entrepreneur, the best tools for me have been:
- My trusty Mac. I always invest in a new computer as soon as I need one.
- Hiring an accountant
- Google! There’s so much free information out there.
Her Biggest Challenge
Honestly, my main challenge is just finding the time to dedicate to my blog. As an attorney, and now as a mom, I haven’t had as much uninterrupted time as I’ve often felt I needed.
As the blog has grown more successful, I’ve started really prioritizing it over other things and treating it like “work.”
Even though I enjoy it, sometimes I just need to buckle down and get things done.
Her Greatest Accomplishment
The accomplishment I’m most proud of is persevering through/pivoting during the pandemic with an international travel blog.
I had days when my revenue was $4 and I wasn’t sure why I was wasting my time. But I kept going, and I’m so glad I did. I’ve built the career “everyone wants” and I love every minute of it.
In the weeks leading up to the pandemic, the blog had been growing steadily for nearly a year and I was so thrilled. Then, obviously, all of my traffic just fell off a cliff. It’s incredibly disappointing to churn out content in a vacuum that no one is seeing.
I tried a lot of different things. Eventually, I started writing a lot of listicles about the British TV shows I was watching. Honestly, it was really just writing for something to do, but those posts struck a chord and I finally started getting some traffic back.
As the pandemic eased and people started traveling again, especially more recently, even my older European travel content started finding a new life! It was such a relief.
But, I’ve also added a lot more domestic travel content, which helped get me through the later part of the pandemic, when people were doing a lot of road trips, etc. And these days, the blog is having record-breaking-day after record-breaking-day!
What She Wishes She Knew When She Started
I wish I had known that you can have fun and make money at the same time. I honestly enjoy every minute I spend working on my blog. It makes me so happy.
Writing a blog and having my own business are so different from the work I did in the corporate world. I don’t have “clients,” unless I want them.
Usually, I just post what I want, when I want, on my own schedule, and I don’t have to “answer” to anyone. I didn’t know jobs like that existed!
I can also take breaks. I’ve had a lot of health issues over the past couple of years (including having a baby and getting rheumatoid arthritis), and it’s really nice to be able to take a few weeks “off” without any major problems.
Her Main Mistake
My biggest mistake is not taking myself seriously. I’m going to make more money from the blog this year than I did early in my legal career.
I tend to “downplay” my blog and joke about it or call it a hobby. Why is running a blog any less of a job than anything else that earns a paycheck?
Her Advice for Other Entrepreneurs
Go for it. Just start. You don’t have to spend a fortune immediately, but you do have to start somewhere, or it’ll always be a dream.
People always say they aren’t starting a blog because “no one would read it and there are already too many blogs.” You’d honestly be surprised.
Yes, a lot of people start blogs, but they usually give up after a few months. There is plenty of space for you!