How This 33-Year-Old’s Printables Blog Earns $6.5k+ Per Month Through Email Marketing


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Kelly Crean knew early on that she wanted to be a mom and stay home with her kids. She also knew that, to live the lifestyle she wanted, she would have to be her own boss.

She started several blogs, but they never took off. She tried her hand at Etsy stores, but none of them achieved the results she was looking for. She grew a successful graphic design business, but it was too demanding and time-consuming to keep up with her clients.

Then she created something that really took off: a printables blog called Pjs and Paint .

Today her blog earns more than $6.5k per month, and on her biggest months, she’s earned up to $18k. She’s using a solid strategy to do this that doesn’t revolve around SEO.

Keep reading to find out:

  • How and why she got started in freelance graphic design
  • What other projects she launched
  • How she grew her printables site
  • Where she gets ideas for her printables
  • Where her income comes from
  • How much traffic she’s getting
  • Her main marketing strategy
  • Her thoughts on SEO
  • How she does keyword research
  • How she creates content
  • How she grows her email list
  • Her favorite resources and tools
  • Her main challenge
  • Her greatest accomplishment
  • Her biggest mistake
  • Her advice for other entrepreneurs

Meet Kelly Crean

My name is Kelly and I live in New York with my husband and two young sons. I graduated from college in 2011 with a degree in Fine Art. 

After I graduated, I quickly realized that I did not want to be a teacher or gallery artist. This meant I would have to figure out a more commercial way to use my degree. 

I ended up buying myself all of the Adobe products and decided to teach myself graphic design.

In 2013, I officially started my freelance graphic design business, which I ran full-time up until I left that job to blog full-time in 2021.

Why She Created Her Site

I always knew I wanted kids. I also knew that I wanted to be a stay-at-home mom. 

Unfortunately, in the area where I live, it’s very hard to survive on one income, so I did my best to figure out a way I could work from home and be there for my future kids as well. 

I started my freelance graphic design company in 2013. It was very successful and I was making 6 figures and working with pretty high-profile clients.

In 2018, my first son was born. I quickly realized that working from home while having a newborn was very, very difficult. I had initially thought that I could work while he slept, but it turns out babies don’t always cooperate when it comes to nap time!

Right before my son turned one I decided that the high demand of deadlines in regards to freelance graphic design was not going to work long term as my family grew. I tried to think of a way that I could incorporate graphic design into a more passive income stream.

Any professional blogger will tell you that blogging is definitely not completely passive income, but it is much more flexible in terms of creating a post and profiting off of it over and over again, as opposed to getting paid by the hour.

I decided that I was going to try and start a blog where I designed printables geared towards parents and teachers, looking for ways to entertain and educate their kids for free.

The first blog I created in 2012 soon after I graduated college. It was called Blart Blog, where I interviewed other artists. I don’t remember the exact dates, but I had a handful of other blogs. 

Creating My Own Career was about being self-employed, Delightfully Decorated was about interior design, Money Management Mom was about budgeting, Pause and Prep was about meal prep, Templates and Things was about… printable templates! And then Free Holiday Printables was solely focused on holiday printables. 

Needless to say, it took quite a while before I hit the nail on the head with a blog that was successful! I always knew I wanted to have a blog I just had to experiment a lot before I found a niche that fit.

Pjs and Paint is by far my most profitable and enjoyable business endeavor. However, it took me quite a long time to settle on the idea. In addition to my blogs. I had multiple Etsy shops, where I sold everything from handmade jewelry to custom social media icons, and also web design clients. 

All in all, there was a lot of trial and error before I found the niche that both I and my audience really connected with, but once I got there, the blog really took off.

When I started Pjs and Paint, I would design printables in the small bits of time when my son was napping or my husband was home from work. 

While I was working on designs, I was constantly listening to podcasts, watching YouTube videos, and reading articles on blogging best practices. It took a lot of effort in the beginning, but it all paid off more than I ever could have imagined.

As for the printables, initially, I had an Etsy store where I sold printables for events such as baby showers and bridal showers. They weren’t selling that well but I thought the designs were good. 

I decided to put them on a blog for free with the intention of eventually making money off of ads. 

Surprisingly, they were much better received as free printables and, as I continued on, I kept thinking of more ideas, mostly based around the stage of life I was in at the moment. 

When I was engaged, I worked on a lot of wedding-themed printables; when I was pregnant I worked on a lot of baby shower content. 

Now that I’m a mom of two I tend to create printables that my kids would enjoy.

Just under a year after I started Pjs and Paint, I was accepted into Mediavine. It was such an amazing accomplishment and motivated me to put even more time and effort into making my blog a business.

I continued my freelance design business for about 2 years and kept working on Pjs and Paint part time. 

Finally, in 2021, after my second son was born, I felt confident enough with my Mediavine income that I quit freelancing and poured all my attention into my blog.

Year after year, I continue to earn more through my blog and it is something I truly love. I wake up every day excited to work on my website, creating and learning new things.

How Much She’s Earning

I have multiple income streams. 

In order of highest to lowest, display ads, digital product sales, affiliate marketing, sponsorships, and YouTube. 

Ever since I joined Mediavine, I have basically been making a full-time income from display ads. 

Year after year, my income goes up as I build my site and learn more. 

In quarters 1, 2, and 3 I make around $5,000-$9,000 a month from ads. Q4, however, is a money-making season and I’m thrilled to say that last Q4 I made an average of $16,000 each month. 

In addition to ads, I make a few hundred dollars a month from affiliate marketing (mainly through Amazon), sponsorships, and digital product sales from my Shopify and Etsy stores. 

I also recently got monetized on YouTube, where I often create tutorials on how to use my printables.

While ads are definitely my main revenue stream, I believe that diversifying your income is extremely important.

My traffic varies depending on the time of year. 

From January to September, I get around 1.2 million page views. From October to December alone, my site gets about 1.3 million page views. 

These screenshots were from last year, however I’m super excited to say that this year is showing almost a 67% increase in revenue!

Although it varies, I would say I probably work around 15 to 20 hours a week. In the beginning, it was a lot more, but at this point my site is pretty much in maintenance mode where I update/add when I can but even if I don’t I still make a consistent income. 

If I’m being honest, I do some work 7 days a week. This is only because I truly love what I do and I just find designing and blogging so much fun.

Her Main Marketing Strategy

My #1 marketing strategy by far is email marketing. 

On days that I send out email newsletter, my traffic and income easily triple. I currently have about 106,000 active email subscribers.

During the majority of the year, I send an email 2 to 3 times a week. During holiday seasons, I tend to email 4 to 5 times a week.

I think something unique that I do that helps grow my business is to include a free printable in every post. It gives people an incentive to read my posts and also sign up for my email list in order to get the free download.

Additionally, my site has a very clear niche. While I do have some craft posts, I would say that 99% of my site is based on free printables.

I feel like it’s easy for not only my readers, but also Google to recognize what my site is about. I try my best to be an authority in the kids’ printable niche.

Kelly’s Thoughts on SEO

SEO is definitely important for my business. 

However, if I’m being honest, I still have a lot to learn. I try to include keywords without stuffing too many into each post. 

As I mentioned above, I think that having a clear niche is also important so that Google knows what my site is about and which audience is best served by it.

My overall SEO strategy is to choose a topic and keyword and try to answer as many questions that I think a reader may have on that topic. 

In the past, I had added a bit of “fluff” to make the posts longer. However, now I realize that content that is helpful to the reader is much more important than adding more words just for the sake of post length.

Keyword Research

At first, my keyword research strategy was non-existent. I simply created content based on what I thought my own kids would enjoy. 

After I had built up a good library of posts, I dove into analytics. 

I took note of which posts got the most traffic, the highest RPMs, etc. Then I created more posts around that same topic. 

I’ll also frequently do a quick Google or Pinterest search to see what topics are trending at the moment.

Her Content Creation Process

For the most part, my content creation process revolves around holidays. 

I have a list of major holidays and am sure to create a bunch of printables around that topic or season. 

I tend to create in bulk as I find it quicker and easier. For example, if I’m adding printable word searches to my site, I will create a word search for each holiday/category on my site. 

Working in batches is definitely important to my process.

I design everything myself. Once in a while, I will buy the rights to a few stock graphics to include in my designs, but everything that I create is designed by me. All of the blog posts are written by me as well. It’s a one-woman show!

Also, as I mentioned above, I am always evaluating my analytics and seeing what type of posts are doing well at the moment and creating more similar content.

Currently, I have about 540 articles live on my site. My goal is to get to at least 600 by the end of this year while also updating old content along the way.

Her Email List

I love my email list! It is, by far, the biggest income and revenue driver for my site and I believe it’s extremely important. 

While I do have a large following on social media, I know that I cannot rely on that. If a social media platform goes away or you lose access to your account for whatever reason, you also lose access to your followers.

By having an email list, you have direct access to your subscribers’ inbox. In addition, I find that my email subscribers are much more engaged than on any social media platform.

I have grown my email list by using features from Mediavine, specifically Spotlight Subscribe, as well as the opt-in forms from Flodesk. Since my site has tons of free printables, I make sure to have readers enter their email addresses in order to be able to download the printable.

This quickly grew my email list, and I was pleasantly surprised to find out that the vast majority of my subscribers stay on my email list even after they’ve received their free download.

At the moment, I have a little over 106,000 active email subscribers. I try to send 2 to 3 emails per week during the first 9 months of the year, and then I bump it up to 4 to 5 times a week during quarter 4.

Her Favorite Resources

My main resource that I referenced when learning about blogging was the Mediavine blog, podcast and YouTube channel. They have so much amazing information for the public, even if you’re not a publisher with them yet. 

I also reached out to other bloggers for advice. It is always great to hear from people a few steps ahead of you and get their perspective and opinions.

The most useful tools I use are: 

1. Adobe Creative Suite: Being a graphic designer, it is a must for creating high-quality printables 
2. Flodesk: I use this for email marketing, subscribe forms, and opt-ins
3. BigScoots hosting: I’m not sure if this counts as a tool, but having a great host is essential for running a fast site and ensuring I have regular backups
4. Paper planner: I love making lists and the satisfaction of crossing things off!

Kelly’s Biggest Challenge

The biggest challenge I’ve faced as I’ve grown my businesses is sticking through the tough parts. 

In the beginning, building a business is very hard because there are no guarantees. Your business may work out or it may not. 

I’ve had plenty of “failed” businesses because I finally found real success. While this has been a challenge, it has also been a blessing in disguise because I learned something throughout each endeavor.

Her Greatest Accomplishment

I think the accomplishment that I’m most proud of as an entrepreneur is that I was able to build a business all on my own that is profitable and for the most part self-sufficient. 

I was accepted into Mediavine in less than a year of buying my domain name and I’m very proud of the hard work I put in to get there. 

Between all of my revenue streams, I hit just about $20,000 in revenue last December. I remember first starting out earning pennies a day and to say I can make 5 figures a month is an accomplishment I only ever could dream of. 

I was also able to use my blogging income to put a down payment on our home. I never thought my little blog would turn into something so profitable.

What She Wishes She Knew When She Started

Something I wish I had known when I first started out was that building a blog is a lot more work than you might think. The internet, social media, rules, and regulations are always changing and it’s something you have to learn to be flexible with and be able to pivot as things change. 

In addition, blogging is a long game. You can’t expect to be an overnight success. It can be hard to keep going when you’re not sure if all your work is going to pay off in the way you had hoped.

Another thing I wish I had known early on is that negative feedback from readers isn’t necessarily a bad thing. While there are, of course, some people out there who are leaving negative comments just to be rude, that is not always the case.

An example I always remember is the one time I got a pretty upsetting email from a reader, basically criticizing the layout of my blog posts. 

At first, I was very upset and angry that this person took the time to email me just to complain. But after some thought, I realized that, while her delivery was not the best, she did have a point. 

I took that feedback and altered a few things within my site and, believe it or not, my revenue skyrocketed since making that change.

My advice would be to take any negative comments with a grain of salt. Don’t take them too personally, but also reflect and see if maybe there is a positive change that can be made.

Kelly’s Biggest Mistake

I think that the biggest mistake I’ve made on my entrepreneurial journey is not having the best work/life balance.

Working for yourself and working from home can be extremely difficult. You are in charge of everything and everything depends on how much work you put in. 

Some people might have issues with discipline when it comes to working, but for me personally, I was working way too much in the beginning. I sacrificed things that I did not need to for the sake of growing my business. 

I wish I had known that it was not a race and I could have had a better work/life balance and had been more productive had I slowed down a bit and enjoyed life a bit more.

Her Advice for Other Entrepreneurs

My advice to entrepreneurs who are building their own businesses right now is to take your time and don’t expect immediate results. I feel like we live in a time of instant gratification and it is very unlikely that a business will be an overnight success. 

I would also say that you need to truly love what your business is based around.

Of course, there will be parts of it that you don’t particularly like (like taxes!), but if you love your job, it won’t feel like work and it will be easier to get through the tough times if you’re happy making content you enjoy.


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