In 2016, Gelicia "Lisa" Washington, having served in the U.S. Air Force, was leaving active duty military. She was expecting a child and had just gotten her real estate license. She wanted an outlet to share her experiences as a mother, a woman in the military, and a budding real estate agent. So she started a blog, Mama Real Estate, which over time gained a following. "I was loving blogging and using it as a way to help me transition back to civilian life," she says, "and one day my husband came home from work and asked me, 'Did you know people earn money from blogging?’ I had no idea what he was talking about but I did some digging, and that's when I discovered Google AdSense."
Of Life and Lisa
Gelicia Washington, Founder
Mom, Veteran, and Founder: How Gelicia Washington built her media company from scratch
Lisa rebranded her blog Of Life and Lisa and doubled down on content that her Mama Real Estate audience loved: home decor, cleaning and organizing tips, and more. She started sharing her content on Pinterest and it went viral. But even with a dedicated audience and steady traffic, it was hard for Lisa to get advertisers on board with her business. "Advertisers didn’t want to work with me early on because we didn’t have the millions of pageviews they were looking for," she recalls. "But Google really welcomed me with open arms and said 'Hey, we can help you make money.’ And I did! With AdSense, I was able to start showing high-quality, relevant ads from advertisers that I never would have connected with otherwise." Within four months using AdSense, Lisa saw her monthly ad revenue increase an average of +500% from $0 to over $2,700, earning her enough money to confidently pursue blogging as a full-time job.
Lisa started focusing on creating content and expanded to new websites — curated personal finance, parenting, fitness, crafts and more. The money she earned from ads let her hire freelance writers, pay off her student loans, and even purchase a home. "Getting sustainable revenue from ads gave me the freedom to launch my own small business," she says. "It allowed me to do what I love and bring joy and helpful content to readers across the world. What started as a way for me to transition to civilian work after military service has grown into a true passion and thriving business."
Of Life and Lisa has become a source of passive income for Lisa’s family, "which has been a huge help during COVID as a small business owner." With the skills she has built managing her blogging business, she now does freelance work helping other companies grow online. Lisa is currently working with two non-profit organizations that are working to end mass incarceration and supporting them with her digital marketing skills.