SILER CITY — From inside her Siler City home, blogger Amy Smith has accidentally achieved every entrepreneur’s dream: build a thriving business around her passion.
The product? A lifestyle blog called “My Four and More.” Housed at myfourandmore.com, Smith’s blog offers seven different categories of content primarily for homemakers, parents and other kindred spirits seeking tips for the home, gift guides, travel recommendations, product reviews, and a whole lot of life advice — including finances, adoption, parenting and mental health.
“I didn’t start it as a business,” Smith, 40, told the News + Record. “I started it just as sharing my thoughts and then it kind of turned into a full-blown business.”
Launched in late 2016, My Four and More originally began as a passion project and platform for Smith to share her own experiences navigating infertility, adoption and fostering, and lift up other women facing similar situations.
After discovering they couldn’t have children, Smith and her husband, Josh (the assistant pastor at Community Baptist Church in Siler City), eventually adopted three children — sons Ryan and Cameron, and daughter Camila — and even fostered other children for a few years in Siler City before a bad experience prompted them to stop.
“We would get questions after questions,” she said. “I just felt like I was kind of repeating myself quite a bit, and I realized how many people out there are kind of in our same shoes of not being able to have children and trying to seek out options and different stuff. So when I started the blog, it was kind of a way to be able to compound all of our experiences.”
Such experiences, Smith added, also included severe depression.
“So the combination of that, with the adoption, there were just so many conversations we were having that I was able to put it all kind of in writing to where I can say, ‘Hey, you could also go read it on there,’” she said. “And it just gave a way to be able to kind of direct people — not that I don’t talk to them still, but you know, to be able to be a little bit more exposed with helping people.”
At first, her blog’s readership primarily consisted of friends and family. Over time, though, Smith and her readers began sharing her posts on social media, which drew more and more readers. Eventually, a combination of social media sharing and quality content led her posts to achieve top Google rankings, which in turn brought even more readers.
But readers weren’t the only ones catching on. Companies, including Best Buy and Jabra, began noticing her blog, too.
“It kind of turned into companies reaching out to me and asking me if I would sponsor their content — you know, different products or travel, different places, wanting us to feature them for travel features,” Smith said. “And so it kind of turned into more of just like a full-blown lifestyle blog where I do a little bit of everything on it.”
Based on traffic data from the last three months, My Four and More sees 21,600 unique views a month on average, plus about 212,400 monthly reads, meaning each visitor reads about 10 articles throughout a month on average. Her social media following spans thousands, too: On Facebook, “My Four and More” has over 2,500 followers. There are nearly 34,000 on Twitter, about 5,200 on Pinterest, and 14,000 on Instagram.
“Of course, some of those are, you know, Facebook, Twitter — it may be the same person following me on all four social media,” she said, adding with a laugh, “but hopefully they’re seeing it on one of them at least.”
Most, if not all, traffic her blog receives is organic, meaning most find her site on their own via search engines. When it comes to driving more traffic via complicated Search Engine Optimization techniques and social media strategies based on each platform’s algorithm, she said she’s still a novice.
“I don’t know how people are finding me,” Smith said. “I don’t know how — you know, I don’t know all of that. I’m not very good with the back end. I did set up my new website completely, I was able to do it completely by myself, but there’s still kinks in it that I’m working out … I’m learning every day and I hope to continue to learn more and more to be even more successful, but something is working. I don’t know exactly what it is.”
As a result, blogging is no longer just Smith’s hobby; it’s become a full-time job, but one she absolutely loves, especially since she’s her own boss.
“It may be that I work at 8 in the morning, or it may be that I work at midnight,” she said, smiling. “I mean, it just depends on what we have going on, but it makes it flexible to where I can still be completely involved with my kids, and if we have anything going on at the church, or if my daughter has basketball camp this week — being able to just leave at any point and do what I need to do, and then I can get my work done later in the day.”
It’s a lot of work: she aims to research, write, and publish three to five posts a day. Sometimes, she’ll also review and publish sponsored posts for an editorial fee — something, she added, which has skyrocketed within the past three weeks especially, though she’s not quite sure why. Last Thursday, for instance, she’d already received over five such posts before 9 a.m. that morning.
Things have been so successful, in fact, that she recently launched a second blog, homeremodeltips.com, focused on ideas for the home. Besides publishing three to five posts on My Four and More, she’s begun writing at least three posts a day to build up readership for Home Remodel Tips.
“I was getting a lot more emails regarding home-type posts, like remodeling or decor, stuff like that,” she said. “And my blog, I do a lot of that on there with the myfourandmore.com, but it was getting to where there’s so many posts for that, that I thought, ‘Why not start a new one that’s more specific just to the home?’ So I started one.”
Yet, despite all the work she puts into it, Smith doesn’t see My Four and More as a one-woman show; rather, she sees it — appropriately — as a family endeavor. Josh helps with some of the writing, and when she’s set to publish travel features, most destinations will provide tickets and lodging for her entire family.
“So I look at it as even though I’m doing the writing and I’m doing the emails and all that, it’s kind of our family’s thing because if they didn’t want to have any pictures or if I couldn’t share their stories or whatever, it would kind of take away from the blog,” she said, laughing. “So, I look at it as kind of a combined effort.”
For her, such blog-inspired family trips count as one of the most rewarding parts of it all — though, she added, having the flexibility to work from home is “probably number one.” Thanks to My Four and More’s success, Disney, Legoland, SeaWorld and Carowinds have all paid her family’s way to their attractions in exchange for travel features and reviews.
“It’s just a way for us to be able to really bond as a family while still being able to share our fun with everybody else,” she said.
Beyond family fun and flexibility, My Four and More also provides her a meaningful way to make a difference in people’s lives.
“My husband’s the speaker of our family,” Smith said. “I am not the speaker. I get nervous when I try to talk to people unless if it’s just one-on-one to chat type of deal, but [My Four and More] kind of gives me a way to feel like I have a purpose for going through some of the stuff that we’ve gone through, with the depression and then with the infertility. It kind of makes it worth it to have gone through that stuff and be able to share my experience to hopefully help somebody else.”
The most rewarding reader messages she’s received, for instance, come from families struggling to have children but had hesitated to adopt or foster children until they read her posts about her journeys with both. In another instance, a company contacted her about promoting a product on her website, which they’d only found because the company representative had been struggling with depression.
“It wound up turning into probably 20 emails back and forth, not even about the product anymore,” she said. “It was just about, ‘This is what I’m going through. I see you went through this, I really appreciate your insight on this. Do you have any other tips?’ It was just neat to see the difference that I had been able to help this person directly because of the blog. That’s probably the biggest response that I feel like was the most rewarding to me.”
And for those thinking about following in her footsteps, Smith’s got a small piece of advice: Just write from the heart.
“You have to find your passion because I honestly feel like the success from my blog came from me speaking from my heart, content that was personal and not to push the business side of it. If it’s going to happen, it’s going to happen,” she said. “I think that’s the biggest key — just writing what you’re passionate about and focusing on that before anything else.”
Reporter Victoria Johnson can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.
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