HostGator Case Study

Starting a side hustle can feel like a big risk, but here is the good news. Many other people and companies that have come before you started as side hustles. 

In fact, HostGator started out as a college project. So, we know how hard it can be to stay motivated when creating a business on the side. 

That’s why we make it part of our mission to help side hustlers get their feet off the ground. We do this by providing a website builder that helps customers get an affordable and smart-looking website up in no time, with no previous expertise needed. 

We also like to make the process fun and rewarding. That’s why we sponsor the Side Hustle Stars Awards, and highlight some of our successful customers.

To help you stay motivated as you create your own side hustle website, here’s a look into the inspiring story of 3rd place Side Hustle Star Awards Winner, Michelle Visser, the creator of the blog Souly Rested.

Creating a blog

Who is Michelle Visser, and What is Souly Rested?

Souly Rested is a blog based on life on a 219-year-old farm in rural New England. The blog includes everything from tutorials on tapping maple trees to cooking with maple and everything in between.

souly rested blog created using hostgator web hosting

We wanted to learn more about Michelle Visser her fun blog, Souly Rested, so we asked her a handful of questions.

Since Michelle Visser is an avid niche blogger, the first thing we wanted to learn was what her most successful blog post was.

Visser said, “My most popular post is about how we trained our dog to be friendly to our free-ranging chicken. When I saw its numbers rising not long after I wrote it, I quickly realized that my readers just want genuine solutions to everyday problems that we all face. It also helped the post’s popularity that I couldn’t find any other blog post at all on this topic.”

As you start your own blog, you may consider answering everyday questions as well, and see how your posts perform. Monitoring your post performance is a great way to generate more ideas for your blog.

We were also dying to know what Visser’s most popular social media post was, since social media is a stellar way to promote a website. 

Visser said, “My most popular social media post was when I asked readers to vote on their favorite cover design for my book. That taught me that readers love to have a say and tell me their opinion, which works out great for marketing research. If I want to know what my readers want, I just need to ask them.”

What better way to find out what your readers want than to ask them via social media?

Overall, we learned that Visser has grown a successful homesteading community, offered countless blog posts with practical advice, designed and started selling a product for backyard sugarmaking, and even launched books.

What Challenges Come with Blogging?

While Visser has experienced loads of success with her blog, it hasn’t always been easy for her to keep up the rapid pace of creating continuous and relevant content.

Visser said one of her biggest challenges has been “hanging on and continuing to create great content when only your aunt and a few friends are reading it.” 

However, her motto is close to what Kevin Costner says in Field of Dreams, “if you build it, they will come.” Visser adds, “ if you build it right,” then they (website visitors) will come.

As Visser has continued creating and publishing content, she has shared her expertise on baking with maple syrup, making DIY kombucha, gardening, and real-food recipes. She has also provided encouragement for homesteaders and built a robust following.

What Advice Do You Have for Other Bloggers?

We also asked what advice Visser has for other people interested in starting a blog. She says, “Don’t sugar coat it. If something’s hard, be real. Share why it’s hard. Then explain why—for you—it was worth the work.”

Visser also says to not be afraid to “tap into your reader’s needs and fears and find a few great products that you love that help you meet those needs or squelch those fears.” 

She explains that selling products, and even finding affiliates that meet the needs of readers, are great ways to make money on a blog

Visser has experienced this success herself. She says, “I’ve established myself as both a maple and a kombucha expert, sell related e-products, sold $28k worth of related merchandise via my affiliates and via my blog, and am hoping I sell tens of thousands of copies of my maple-infused cookbook, Sweet Maple, which I’m excited to say is available where ever books are sold.”

For more on Michelle’s experience, check out her article on how she makes money as a blogger.

Why Choose HostGator?

When it comes to building a website, business owners and bloggers have several options. We wanted to know why Michelle Visser chose HostGator to build her blog. 

She said, “Honestly, I was just starting a blog and I didn’t make a penny for years. The most important thing to me at the time was saving in every way that I could. HostGator was the most cost-effective hosting company I could find that also had great reviews.”

HostGator started as a side hustle. The team gets what it’s like to penny pinch. That’s why we offer 3 affordable hosting plans for our website builder, starting at just a few dollars per month.

gator website builder plans and pricing

We also make it our mission to help our customers build a successful website. Michelle Visser appreciates this about HostGator. 

She said, “It blows me away how friendly and non-condescending folks are when I call with (sometimes silly) questions. And, I’ve never once hung up from a call without a resolution.”

For help getting your own website started, check out the Gator Website Builder today. We can’t wait to help you build your website.

Ashley R. Cummings is a professional freelance writer specializing in SaaS, tech, and advertising/marketing. In a previous life, she was a Russian teacher at Brigham Young University, a corporate trainer, and a grad student—all at the same time. When she’s not writing, you can find her traveling the world with her 2 kids and husband, reading poetry or taking a deep dive into the fabulous world of comedy. Connect with her on Twitter at @ashleyrcummings.