#YourFirstHustleDollar Series: Whitney of Brown Books & Green Tea

Damn, Taylor.

Back at it again with the #YourFirstHustleDollars Series, Taylor.

Today we’re doing something a little different. For the last three interviews of this series we talked money. In this one I want to view earning money from a different perspective…

From the perspective of growing your platform before transitioning into a business. Particularly with a niche site that covers a unique topic. (If you need a little help starting your blog platform, check out this tutorial.)

whitney-bbandgtI feel compelled to take this approach for the first time because I’m super impressed by what my friend Whitney is doing over on her blog, Brown Books & Green Tea. On the site, she does crazy in-depth book reviews and has a bunch of other really thought-provoking content.

What I love most about her site is she’s positioned her blog and attracts a hugely interested/engaged following. If you want to start a blog or hustle that’s off the beaten path, she’s an awesome person to check out.

Over to my friend Whitney!!!




What niche is your blog?

My blog focuses on diverse literature, but I also hope there’s a bit of universal appeal in there too. There are tons of literature-themed blogs (even on literature and tea), but there aren’t many that focus on a wide array of diverse literature.


What made you want to start this blog?

I’ve always been a voracious reader– I’d ask my mother for additional chores so that I could pick up Harry Potter at midnight, and stay up until dawn reading.

Unfortunately, I lost that sometime during grad school. I started the blog because it forces me to read more, and it forces me to think critically about the issues I’m confronting in the literature.


How do you market your blog?

I have a solid mix of Instagram, Twitter, and relevant blogger groups. I had to do a good bit of research because there are huge “bookstagram” and “BookTube” communities to tap into.

After trying a bit of everything, I realized what combination of things worked for me– tweeting my positive articles about specific small publishers and authors, for example, works like a charm.


What challenges did you face when first starting out?

Aside from the administrative things (blog name, design, etc), building confidence in my writing was the foremost challenge when I began. I was absolutely terrified people would email me with horrendous typos, or that my peers would somehow find my writing lacking.

I hadn’t found my voice yet, but once I did, I became confident that I had something worth sharing. As time went on, I continued to be my own biggest challenge, taking on too much and suffering from massive overwhelm.


Do you have a content schedule? How to you come up with blog post ideas?

I have a loose content schedule because it’s so difficult keeping a strict book reading schedule. For every bit of content, there are another 8 to 12 hours of preparation just reading the book and researching the author.

My lose schedule also helps me know what types of posts I need in order to fill the space between reviews. I come up with ideas for these posts sporadically, so having a notebook in my purse is so important! I then make sure to start a draft page even if I’m not ready to work on it. This makes sure I never lose my train of thought.


What will you do in the future to monetize?

I’m hoping to move into freelance writing in the next few months! Right now, I’m focusing on just building relationships with other bloggers, so I can start by doing some guest posts to add to my portfolio.

Being a brand affiliate is also extremely popular among book bloggers, so you get a portion of the proceeds when someone buys a book through the links you provide. I’ve started exploring, but I’m still not sure how fruitful it is. Stay tuned!


How did you get through the tech learning curve of starting a blog, particularly WordPress?

WordPress actually wasn’t too difficult when I started, because I didn’t self-host or buy a domain name in the beginning. Because I was working two jobs (one full-time and the other nearly full time) when I started, I really wanted to confirm that blogging was for me before I made a financial commitment.

This allowed me to take it slowly. Even if that route isn’t for you, I recommend building the blog and stocking up on posts before launching, so you can take the time to troubleshoot and promote on your first days.


What’s one piece of advice you have for new bloggers?

Explore what’s already out there, so you know how to make yourself different. I did that prior, and I’m so happy I did– it means that I don’t have to struggle to differentiate from the crowd, or worry that I’m plagiarizing content. (Uber, uber important. Definitely a key area where Whitney shines!!!! – Taylor)

My blog was built to be as unique as its creator. Also related: find a handful of bloggers who inspire innovation and creativity, and are willing to give you advice in dire situations. I don’t know that I would have started so strongly if I hadn’t had you to look toward, Taylor.


Finally, what’s something you wish you knew before starting a blog that a new blogger should know?

I wish I knew what I’d wanted to say before I set out to say it. I knew I wanted to blog about diversity in literature, but there’s a much greater discussion that needs to be had about diversity in the media as a whole.

I’ve begun addressing it, but I could have done so from the beginning if I’d thought it through. So for new bloggers: don’t just know what you want to create. Know where you fall in the relevant discourse, as well.



I want to thank Whitney, big time, big time for sharing her insight and experience blogging. I’ve been writing about personal finance and business for the last two years, so it’s always refreshing to see someone beasting it in a completely unrelated area. If you’re interested in starting a blog, here’s how!

If you’re interested in learning how to break into the freelance writing industry (that’s my hustle), you can get my 30-page guide here.

I’m sure you want to connect with Whitney. Here’s how to do so:

Twitter – @bbandgt

Instagram – @brownbooksgreentea <- LOVE LOVE her Insta be sure to check it out

Website – Brown Books and Green Tea

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Taylor K. Gordon is a writer and money blogger. She writes on how to live your best life without going broke.

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