Getting Started: Turning Your Blog into a Business

How one enterprising woman went from blogger to entrepreneur

Hays tells how she went from blogger to businesswoman

From entertainment to politics to fashion, fascinating tales of a single web site or blog being the catalyst to entrepreneurship and once-in-a-lifetime opportunities are increasing. Jeanine Hays, 32, a lawyer who has had a love for interior design since she was given her first decorating job—her bedroom at the age of six—is  now one of the newest innovators to join that list of those who’ve found success via a passion they simply wanted to blog about. Hays is the founder of AphroChic: Modern.Soulful.Style, a blog she launched in 2007 that highlights designers and design products from around the world. The blog became so popular that in 2009, Hays launched AphroChic pillows and apparel, and most recently she launched her second collection, Brooklyn Renaissance, which includes wallpaper, shower curtains, tabletop and other home décor items depicting Brooklyn life. Lucky magazine and the folks at HGTV are among her biggest fans.

BlackEnterprise.com recently caught up with Jeanine to talk about the beginning of blogging her way into a business.

BlackEnterprise.com: Your blog, AphroChic, has led to some great ventures in the design world, including a successful side hustle designing home decor. How did AphroChic begin?

Jeanine: AphroChic started as a blog in 2007. I was fresh out of law school working at my first job, and design became a refuge from the daily grind. I’d spend hours on the computer reading about interior design and looking up new work. My husband was the one who encouraged me to start my own blog and share my passion with others. Two years later we opened the AphroChic shop online.

What role did your blog play specifically in bringing the brand AphroChic to where it is today?

Jeanine: It was through the blog that I came to realize I had a voice, and that there was something new I could offer in the world of interiors. Writing regularly on home décor and meeting and interviewing designers allowed me to stay ahead of the trends as well as see the gaps in the design world. After two years of blogging, I gained the confidence to start developing products of my own that spoke to my personal aesthetic. I also already had an audience of thousands of readers to share the work with immediately.

You’ve had some amazing opportunities as a direct result of your blogging and designing, like guest judging for HGTV’s Design Star, as well as a featured blogging spot for HGTV’s Design Happens blog.

Jeanine: I was honored that HGTV reached out to me. I think it was a combination of being an interior design blogger, having an active following for the blog, and a number of followers via Twitter as well.  The guest judge opportunity was a Twitter party that engaged AphroChic followers. It was fun, and wonderful to be recognized as a top design blogger in the field.

 What are some of the challenges you’ve faced in bringing AphroChic this far?

Jeanine: Balance is probably the biggest challenge. Working in a full-time career that offers stability is something that is important to me. But I also have a desire to follow my dream full-time. It’s hard to know when the right time is to step out of your comfort zone and completely leave the stable life behind.  

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  • http://www.jaelcustomdesigns.com Jen. L

    This is such an inspiration! I started blogging in 09′ and I have definitely monetized my blog and started a business in Graphic Design along with Social Media Marketing. I can relate to having a FT job and running a business with balance being one of my biggest obstacles and I’m the mother of four children so you add that in the equation and I live a chaotic life but, I hope to work myself out of a FT job in the future and do what I am most passionate about FT.

    I definitely love my job and I’m in a marketing position for a media company and blogging sort of paved my way to my current position within the company. I was in Sales prior to marketing but, my superiors saw me working with brands through my blog and saw that I had a decent following on my social networking pages and I was offered the position after they went to a conference and a blogger was a keynote speaker talking about how to market your business and have your content go viral through blogging and social media Marketing.

    I love hearing success stories like this, it keeps me focused and I can always see the light at the end of the tunnel. All my hard work will pay off in the long run! *smiles*

  • Lynn

    Hi Jen; I read your comment and was inspired; I’m a single mom of one son age 10 and my core family is deceased, so raising my son is both fascinating and frustrating and I hear this from other single moms as well; I have a passion for writing and have been encouraged to start a blog based on my experiences raising my son, but don’t know how to get started, any advice????

  • Tamico

    In 2011 I definitely want to bring my dreams into reality, starting my own business. I know about social media but wasnt really into blogging, but when I start initially I will incorporate that along with my plans to get the word out. Great inspirational story.

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  • Kristina

    This was right on time for me! I started researching my options for blogging last week. I got an idea that I really want to run with and possibly develop into a book in the future. As I struggle with the need to return to the workforce for financial reasons versus a desire to pursue my passion of helping others achieve their professional and educational goals, I am convinced that I will have to juggle both for an undetermined period of time. Wish me luck! I’ll stay connected with you via Twitter to follow your success story. Thank you so much for sharing!!

  • http://www.gorgeousstrands.com Yolanda V.

    Thanks for this article! I love reading/hearing success stories like this!

    I started a website for my small business almost a year ago and have had some good success so far but I was trying to think of ways to create more traffic. I kept getting emails from my web site program to add a blog and always over looked that option. Three weeks ago I decided to finally start blogging, and now today I read this? Must be a sign, right? I think so.

    Now I am off to get more inspiration for topics! And, congrats on being featured on HGTV! That’s HUGE!!

  • http://www.marlynnconsulting.com Margo

    This was inspirational to me as well. As a new business owner, my coach suggested I start a blog about what I do (I help Florida companies get economic incentives to help grow their businesses). Because this is such a technical topic, I was afraid that I would not have enough content to provide consistent posts. However, over the holidays I began http://marlynnconsulting.blogspot.com/ which gives viewers some insight into the world of Florida incentives and grants. I’ve been thinking about changing the format though because I think it needs a more personal touch so my viewers can also get a feel for who I am. This article gives me an incentive to really work on my blog. Thanks alot and congratulations on your business venture!

  • http://www.dailytips4geeks.com Robert

    When I came across this article, I was very impress to learn of the success achieve with blogging and the fact it was also being done by an African American woman. I have worked in the IT industry for years and I have certainly done my fair share of websites and blogging. I have often tried telling my friends both male and female how you can earn some extra income by doing things like blogging or starting a website with a passion they might have. So kudos to Jeanine for doing just that.

    The realization is that, to do something like this is easier said than done but a lot of good tools do exist to make learning and starting a venture like this possible. I would suggest that anyone looking to start their own blog or website to research there niche and take a look at the following sites http://wordpress.org/ and http://www.webs.com

    • http://www.savorhome.blogspot.com Tiffany

      This is SUCH an inspirational story and right on time! I just started a blog on design and also have a full time job as a CPA. It is very hard to do both, especially during busy times like this. I have found that having something to look forward to outside of the daily grind actually gives me more energy as opposed to less energy. So I am going to juggle both until God gives me the green light for another path!

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