In today’s interview we’re talking to Seonaid Beckwith from the blog ‘Perfect English Grammar’. Seonaid started her blog all the way back in 2007. At that time she used it as a platform to publish materials for her own students while she was working as an English teacher, but the website soon garnered attention from English learners from all over the world.
A few years after she started, Seonaid became a mother to two children and wasn’t really focusing on her blog, but she soon made a comeback and actually began to earn more from the blog than at her previous job.
Perfect English Grammar now has between one and two million website visitors per month and provides a very good, near passive income stream.
In this interview you will learn:
The story behind Seonaid’s success
Tips for creating and growing a language blog
How to become a business owner rather than a language teacher
How to get practical business advice that works for your business
How creating an online language business can change your life
Seonaid studied linguistics and used to teach English to foreigners in the UK, but she has also taught in Japan and South Korea. She became interested in how websites worked, and that’s the main reason she started her blog all the way back in 2007, before the likes of WordPress became widely used.
She used her website to publish lesson materials for her own students and didn’t really expect that other learners were also going to use her website as a tool to improve their English grammar.
From 100 to 2,000,000 monthly website visits
How did Seonaid build such a hugely successful blog?First of all, there was very little competition back in 2007 when Seonaid got started – and the market for English learners is huge. Besides the above, Seonaid also did a lot of keyword research in the early stages and focused on writing articles with keywords that had a high demand and low supply. At a certain point she managed to rank one of her articles at number one on Google and she saw how it really made an impact on her traffic. Being consistent has been another factor that has contributed to her success, she thinks. Two or three years after she started, Seonaid began testing placing Adsense adverts on her blog, and she quickly earned her first 100 pounds. That’s when she realised she had a business on her hands.
Turning a blog into a business
Although Seonaid started very early on in digital online business terms, for several years in the beginning she wasn’t fully focusing on her blog, because she was studying full-time for a Master’s degree and also gave birth to two children. Although she kept publishing new articles, she wasn’t really focusing on monetization. Later on in 2012, she published her first ebook, and also published a book on Amazon and that was really when she started to take courses, talk to other online entrepreneurs and learn more about online business.
At the time all of this was going on, Seonaid was at home with two very young children. She’d agreed with her husband that she would start working as an English teacher again once her eldest daughter reached school age. However, she really didn’t really want to go back to work in her previous role, and that’s when she set a goal for herself to match her old salary before her daughter began school. In order to achieve her goal, Seonaid focused on building an email list, publishing more articles, and creating PDFs that she would then sell to her audience. Before her oldest child entered full-time schooling, Seonaid’s blog had generated enough income to replace the salary of her old job. She now had a real business that she could live off. It felt amazing!
The transformation from being a blogger to business owner
Seonaid started going to events and connecting with other online business owners in 2015. She feels that thanks to that, she’s a completely different person today. Before that time she saw herself as a teacher and not really as a business person. She didn’t understand marketing, how to sell, how to deal with an audience and how to create products that people really want.
The power of getting practical advice
At first, Seonaid didn’t know anyone who was doing something similar to what she was doing. She would get most of her marketing knowledge from online courses and books. When she started going to events and met people who were doing similar things, she received more practical advice – and that changed everything.
‘’Most courses are very generic. Meeting and talking to like-minded people often gives you ideas that work for your particular situation and is much more powerful’’
Another benefit of going to live events according to Seonaid is that it’s otherwise very hard to convince yourself to put in a lot of work and invest in your learning.
‘’Only when you meet the people who’ve done what you want to do, you start really believing that it’s possible for you as well’’
Where can you find like-minded people who run online business?
Seonaid found that most business events weren’t very useful for her. She says it’s hard to find a group of people that are doing similar things and who are more or less at the same level as you. Some of the live events that have been very useful for her are the Polyglot Conference, and she later has also participated twice in our Langpreneur Mastermind retreats, which she found ‘wonderful’. She’s also a member of the Dynamite circle, a network of online entrepreneurs. These are the kind of places where you meet people who’ve done what you want to do. They take you seriously, listen to what you have to say and give you very good advice for your current situation.
‘’It’s hard to believe that it’s possible to make a lot of money online, but once you meet the people who have done it, you know that it’s real’’
Up until a few years ago Seonaid made most of her revenue from memberships. People would pay a monthly fee and in exchange they got access to a platform where she would give them new content every month. She found that constantly creating new materials was becoming a bit tiring. She also found that a good language course should have a start and an end. That’s why she recently shifted from selling memberships to selling standalone courses. In her case this was also more interesting revenue-wise. Her courses cost between $12 and $100.
How has creating an online business changed your life?
‘’Not having a normal job is just so good! Having an online business really enables me to be flexible. I can pick up my kids from school and I can plan my days however I want!”
Sometimes she works in the early morning before her kids wake up, has breakfast with them together and takes them to school. Also, during the school holidays she has free time to spend with them. Another aspect about the business she really likes is the direct results that come from putting in hard work – revenue wise, but also helping people and making an impact in their lives. Seonaid’s husband is now also working less than before, and one of her goals in 2020 is to generate enough revenue so that the whole family can live off the business.