Authentically + Organically Monetize your blog

organically monetize your blog and finally make money doing it via i

We asked the question a few months ago, ‘is blogging ending?‘ and it would seem that way with so many bloggers just getting up and closing shop, but what if blogging is not dying but evolving (like all good things should)?  I think it’s time in the blogging evolution to discuss how people are actually making a living (and a good one at that) from their blogs. It may not be what you think. Being the pragmatic girls we are we thought it might be better to give you a real world example of someone that is making it happen.  Our lovely friend Sanae Ishida, as promised, is going to share how she went from 2 readers and making pennies on affiliate links to a 4 book (yes 4!) deal, a thriving passive income revenue stream and an ongoing consulting-authentically + organically monetizing her blog (and so can you!).

‘All of my current income has been generated because of my blog’.

We wanted to share this with you because I think a lot of people define success, especially with their blogs differently than they would any other business. Some bloggers are attached to the numbers, how many people are visiting each day/month and are waiting for sponsors to find their little slice of the internet, which in this blogging climate is probably not the best plan for blog success, but hopefully Sanae’s experience and pearls of wisdom will give you an ‘aha’ moment.

B: We know that in the blogging world numbers are king, can you tell us a little bit about your stats?

S: I actually don’t know how many readers I have since I don’t check my analytics anymore. I noticed that I started to try to create posts that would get more readers when I got obsessed with stats and I wasn’t as “genuine”. I never intended the blog to be a money-maker. It was and continues to be my happy place and trying to create content for numbers wasn’t a happy thing for me.

B: How are people finding you?

S: A lot of traffic comes from Pinterest, and a small percentage of that number turns into actual regular readers. But the vast majority of people are finding me organically, usually from other sewing/crafty blogs or Google searches about Japanese sewing books (which I’m obsessed with).

B: Can you tell us about your book deals?

S: The publishers did approach me BUT I had to come up with the book proposals/concepts. It wasn’t a given that I would get a deal, I think this is a common misconception that you get approached and just get a deal. It’s a collaboration that requires coming up with a concept that you’ll love to work on and that a publisher believes has market potential.

B: What would be one of the most important things you learned about your blog?

S: I think the main thing for me is the connections I’ve made and the community that’s formed around the blog. The kindest, funniest, smartest and most creative people have become a part of my life because of this online adventure.

Also, I can’t emphasize enough how important it is to put yourself and your work out there. I won’t lie, it was scary for me. I know so many people doing brilliant, beautiful things, quietly perfecting their craft in a vacuum with the conviction, “if I make it, they will come,” but it rarely happens that way. I don’t think it’s about selling out or doing icky things to market yourself, but about engaging with people outside of your immediate circle with things you really care about. The book deals wouldn’t have happened if my editors hadn’t read my content and seen my illustrations.

I try to push myself to get out of my comfort zone and I strive to always, always be honest. One of the posts that seemed to have the most impact was the series I did about getting out of massive debt. It was terribly embarrassing to reveal that information but I trusted my readers, and I believe they trusted me in return — I still get emails about that series!

B: We love that you have taken a blog with no ads, no sponsors and organically grew an income generator. For those that are rolling their eyes thinking they couldn’t get a book deal I would love to discuss some of your other blog revenue streams that someone might be able to implement for themselves.

S: Knowing that I either had to start generating an income or stop blogging all together (my husband was very confused as to why I was spending so much time on the blog), I developed a monthly membership newsletter that has additional content, downloads, discounts, interviews and whatever creative content that I feel might be relevant/beneficial that month. I like to think of it as a more “deluxe” version of the blog. The idea popped into my head intuitively as a way to provide value using skills that come naturally to me.

B:  Could you please share the price of the membership and what you have generated from it thus far?

S: It is $10/month, in a little over a year it has generated an additional $6,000 towards my income (which up until the book deals was zero from the blog). I am still humbled and so grateful each month that someone would want to be part of the membership.

B: We know that you have managed to develop other income streams from the blog could you tell us more?

S: Because I have a focus on sewing content + sewing projects on my blog I was approached by an Asian publisher to review a translated craft book. I then actively pursued the publisher to do translations, letting them know I was fluent in Japanese if they ‘ever needed a translator…’ I kept mentioning it until finally they contacted me  (I think they were ‘alright already!’), it has become a fruitful relationship. I have translated 3 books so far, they take me about a week and I get $1,500/book. I have also had the opportunity for the occasional art show where I have sold my art directly and I am planning on teaching workshops! I started an etsy shop too, but that’s still in its fledgling stages.

B: I think it’s safe to say that it’s about thinking ‘outside the blog’ on potential monetizing opportunities. Thank you Sanae for allowing us to pick your brain!

In essence what we wanted to get at with this interview is that you can (and should) use your blog as a vehicle to showcase your work, your products and skills. It is a valuable platform that could generate you either an additional income or like Sanae become your means of generating your sole income.  You don’t need a monster following to do so either. We know of one blogger with a mailing list of 4 people that was able to sell over $5,000 in design consults to just those 4 people, she had built up enough trust and shared enough of her work that people were interested and willing to partake in her offerings when she was ready.  If you are wanting to take your business and blog to the next level we so hope that Sanae’s story and unusual opportunities got your wheels turning on who you might be able to approach for your blog/business.


If you have a special skill use your blog as a portfolio to showcase your work, this could garner the attention of someone in need of your particular skill set!

Don’t let the numbers cripple you. It’s better to have an engaged readership of 100 than a flighty one of one off visits from 100,000 individuals.

Is there premium content you could offer? Ie. Tutorials, courses, downloads, etc.

If you see a potential opportunity from a company that has reached out to you–go for it, make it known you have a specialty in ‘X’, even if you get rejected at first your skill set may be needed at a later date. They won’t know if you don’t tell them!

If you want a book deal, research how to put together a book proposal so you will be ready when either opportunity knocks or inspiration!

If you have any questions for Sanae or us feel free to leave them in the comments and we will try to answer them as best as possible!

P.P.S. If you like this watercolor graphic (it’s a Photoshop brush!) We will be giving it away soon when we announce our next Foto Rx launch. Sign-up to be notified and in on the download!


Sewing Happiness by Sanae Ishida a review + giveaway!

Great beginner sewing book

I should start this by saying even if this was the worse book ever (note: it’s not!) I still may have given it a glowing review. I am a bit biased because it’s by the talented Sanae Ishida and my business partner + great friend Michelle P. shot the cover! So I was predisposed to loving it. Sewing Happiness just happens to be an amazing book too!  I love, love the format of the book–a hybrid memoir + craft book. I want all my ‘how-to’ books to be written this way. For the sewist there’s plenty of great projects (even a novice sewer as myself could partake). Each project is, meaning that you would willingly part with good money to buy one of the finished goods in a store. I had no doubt the finished book (which both Michelle and I got to work on see here and here), would be a beauty, but I was truly floored when we got our copies and thumbed through it, each page is more gorgeous than the next, it’s so organized, well presented and it’s huge, there’s 20 projects and over 300 pages! We immediately sent an email of congrats to Sanae and then a second email to her publisher so we could ask for a copy to giveaway to you.

Who would like this book? Well, the obvious would be a sewist, next up would be anyone interested in styling, there are too many perfect vignettes to count, I am using mine as a reference  tool, of course the photography is aces a great tool to study how a great craft book can be shot, we are talking inspiration for miles here and of course anyone who loves a good feel good story, spoiler alert it has a a happy ending!

To enter to win one copy of Sewing Happiness by Sanae Ishida, please answer the following question in the comments by Sunday, May 29, 2016. Winner will be chosen by random and notified the following day!  Good luck!

If someone offered you a book deal today, what would you want your book to be about?

I know what Michele and I would want ours to be about…

Miss Tristan B. is the co-creator of the world’s best + easiest product photography editing tool-Foto Rx | Shopkeeper’s Helper and one of the writer’s of this delightful blog. Her lofty goal here is to make this a creative resource repository and to inspire you to fall truly, madly, deeply in love with your life.

Besotted Interview with Sanae Ishida


We have a special treat for you today! Pour your favorite beverage and tuck in to our interview with author of Sewing Happiness and Little Kunoichi, The Ninja Girl, blogger, and illustrator extraordinaire – Sanae Ishida!

After years of drowning in stress, Sanae received a serious autoimmune disease diagnosis. She decided then and there to take her health and happiness into her own hands. Sanae is a dear friend to both Tristan and I and her creative talents and sheer determination never fail to amaze us.  We find Sanae’s story hugely inspiring, and hope you do too!

Read More

Successful blog secrets revealed

Secrets of better blogging

Here are some successful blog secrets revealed (shhh, be sure to only share this information with people you want to be a success…) First, let me preface this that I am quite aware that I am like the cobbler with no shoes. I have been in branding + marketing for longer than I should like to admit (without revealing my ahem age) and I don’t always follow my own advice. That being said, when I do I usually come out a winner and we so want you to be winners too, because we like you! We won’t overwhelm you with all our secrets to running a successful blog today but we think that these sweet little bons bons should really help assist with building a better blog/web presence.


So you took this great shot and you upload it to your site/blog and the name of it is–456908img.jpeg, what the what?  Someone comes to your site and Pins it and now it is living on the interwebs as 456908img.jpeg, no one knows it is your photo, no one can find who it belongs to, it is getting repinned and posted on Tumblr like wildfire and you have a big ‘ol goose egg of exposure to show for it. So, how should you name it?  We name almost all of our blog graphics with something pertinent to the image or post (like the title) and add via besottedblog for good measure. This is also great for search engines trying to help out the ‘ol Google searcher (or Bing, Yahoo, etc. or what have you…) I gave this bit of advice to a pretty huge film photographer and she said it changed her business exponentially. You’re welcome.


For years I had been coming up with what I like to believe were witty + charming blog titles, the problem with this is it mainly only amuses you and maybe your Aunt Zelda. It’s annoying to anyone actually trying to find useful information on your site and what’s worse? You aren’t relevant with those darn search engines. Write your post title so it explains succinctly and hopefully alluringly what your posts are about.


Ugh!  I had been one of the most consistent of bloggers for years and then my laptop battery died and if you jiggle the plug the wrong way the laptop dies and with a toddler I may never have time to bring my laptop to Apple and this blog may never be consistent again (wasn’t that irritating?). So do as I say and not as I do…If you are going to blog, do it consistently! You don’t have to do it every day, if you are only going to do it once a month, on the last day of the month-DO IT. Don’t apologize if you don’t or make excuses (it’s annoying, reference the first sentence), but if you are only going to write one post a month, make sure it’s an epic one (albeit it doesn’t need to be long), one that is filled with information that someone coming upon it can’t find anywhere else (at least not easily), something perhaps that will be referenced for many more months to come, something that is pinnable, something that is, dare I say useful?


That one seems obvious, but maybe you just needed to hear it. If you hate blogging don’t do it. There are other ways to have a social media presence. If it feels like a complete and utter chore like getting a root canal or doing taxes–stop!  I think blogging works best when you are authentic. I love blogging, I hate the name, but I thoroughly enjoy it. I miss it when I am not here. I am constantly coming up with things I want to share with you, that I otherwise couldn’t with other social media outlets. Besides, we don’t think of this as a blog per se, we consider it a creative repository, so maybe that takes some pressure off of it. Do whatever feels comfortable for you and your situation.

I think this is enough secret spilling for one day, but we will be back with more, feel free to send us a note if you have a secret you want mentioned in the next installment!

Miss Tristan B. is the co-creator of the world’s best + easiest product photography editing tool-Foto Rx | Shopkeeper’s Helper and one of the writer’s of this delightful blog. Her lofty goal here is to make this a creative resource repository and to inspire you to fall truly, madly, deeply in love with your life.

photo by roksolana zasiadko

DIY Abstract Art Made Simple!

DIY abstract art made simple via besoted blog

I have been wanting to try my hand at an abstract art piece using acrylic paints for some time, but felt overwhelmed on where to start. I did have some supplies on hand, I was gifted a small acrylic tube set 3 years that sat unopened (more on that later), I had some craft paint, a wood cradled art board and heap of indecision. Where the heck does one even begin to start?  If you have wanted to do this and are feeling the same way I was, I hope that this little resource and tip post will help you make the move to get started-DIY abstract art made simple!

So where did I start?  I found a few DIY’s, but being me, I don’t always ‘get’ it the first time (or second or 3rd).  I then found a few online classes and that helped me have a few light bulb moments BUT the single most important moment for me was the realization that if I hated my painting, I could just paint over it and build more ‘texture’ in the process, it made the whole intimidating process so much more accessible.  So this is how I did it!


-I pulled out my wood artboard and taped the sides with painters tape (I knew I wanted the finished piece to have the exposed birch wood sides)

-I found a few palette ideas I liked on Pinterest, I have a whole board for blush, peachy and nudes so plenty of palette muse there! I am a bit of a color-phobe, so my palette was very limited-2 whites, a dark umber brown (almost black), ochre, a deep orange that was blended into a dark peach and a sheer pink.

-In hindsight, I should have gessoed my board (this is just a way to prime your board for painting), but I just painted a couple coats of white acrylic on the wood and let dry.

-I started with ONE color at a time over my white surface. I squeezed a dollop of color and used a credit card (you could use an old library card, a palette knife, etc.) and I started to ‘scrape/paint’ with the card to create texture and ‘strokes’ (I deliberately tried to avoid too straight of edges, but if you wanted that look go for it). I would wait for the color to dry if I wanted just that one color, if I wanted colors to blend with each other I wouldn’t let them dry completely before adding other colors on top of the existing colors.

-After I laid down several colors and let them dry, I would add a wash of white over the painting, again with the credit card. Since the credit card method is a little unpredictable I would have some spots where I would press too hard and color from underneath would be revealed (I loved this!).

-I worked for a week in between toddler naps, in 10-15 minute increments which may seem like FOREVER to someone as impatient as myself but this allowed me to step back and assess my work and where I was going.  Also, it prevented me from rushing the white washes and just creating a muddled mess!

-I could have kept going, but at some point I wanted my kitchen countertop back so I stopped myself. I am super happy with the results and I can’t wait to try a larger piece and some backdrops for our photography!

In conclusion, I LOVED this project, it wasn’t the fastest to come together, besides the mess of acrylics, it was a pretty easy going and relaxed DIY. Please feel free to leave any questions in the comments, I’d be happy to answer them!

P.S. For those people that think a project like this may take a sale away from a ‘real’ artist, I am going to put my 2 cents in here and say this–maybe YOU dear reader are a ‘real’ artist and don’t know it yet, maybe a DIY like this is the key to opening up a whole new world of exploration for you and maybe you’ll find yourself a new career path or a new hobby or just make yourself a beautiful piece of artwork that you can be proud of. To everyone that just wants to be creative hats off to you!



Large abstract with a credit card

Acrylic paint series with Lisa Solomon (this is super in depth, you don’t need this for this project but good if you want to keep going with this)


This is a GREAT step-by-step, color by color, stroke-by-stroke if you feel you need extreme hand holding

Easy Abstract Art step-by step

DIY Abstract with gold leaf

Super simple abstract art tutorial

5 step abstract art

An working artists shares his techniques


Gesso (for priming your art surface)

Acrylic paints student grade (if your supplies aren’t too precious it’s more likely to be used more freely)

Acrylic paints professional grade

Craft paints

Acrylic tubes used in piece (I used these) they are beautiful but super transparent and probably not made for large scale painting (but fun!)

Wood art board (these are awesome because you can just hang when you are finished, no additional framing needed: small / large

Pre-primed wood art panels (a large panel 36″ x 38″ is only $125USD!)

Miss Tristan B. is the co-creator of the world’s best + easiest product photography editing tool-Foto Rx | Shopkeeper’s Helper and one of the writer’s of this delightful blog. Her lofty goal here is to make this a creative resource repository and to inspire you to fall truly, madly, deeply in love with your life.