social media case studiesJust over two years ago, Ana White wasn’t quite sure what a blog was.

Today, she runs her own rapidly growing destination, drawing nearly three million page views every month.

Successful professional bloggers aren’t hard to find, but a few things are remarkable about White’s success:

  1. She writes a do-it-yourself carpentry blog. With White’s help, droves of women are discovering they can build beautiful, stylish things.
  2. She started with dial-up Internet and does it all from her home in the Alaskan interior (where record-smashing temps recently hit -40° F).
  3. White succeeded accidentally. She never expected that simply sharing what she loves could support her entire family.

This self-described “homemaker” has an innate knack not only for woodworking but for business as well.

Turns out, this blog Cinderella tale is all about sharing your personal story. Oh, and relentless blogging.

ana white

Do-it-yourselfers find hundreds of easy – and free – building plans on White's site.

Social Media Handles & Stats:


  • Ana White’s blog draws nearly three million unique page views every month.
  • 90-95% of her Facebook content comes from fans, and she leaves it all public.
  • Pinterest is the #1 referring site to her blog, bringing 6000 unique visitors a day.
  • In year two, the blog began bringing in enough advertising revenue to support her family.

Three Months – One Million Page Views

Delta Junction, Alaska, population around 1000, is about 100 miles southeast of Fairbanks – and more than 2000 miles from the nearest Pottery Barn.

delta junction

Delta Junction, Alaska, population ~1000.

But that’s not a problem for Ana White, who grew up in this Alaskan interior making forts and other projects from salvaged wood and nails. After she and her husband painstakingly hand-built their home, she relied on her handy skills to furnish the place and make extra money selling her furniture.

But White really wanted to share her passion for woodworking with others. In October 2009, while reading a friend’s blog, she clicked “Get Your Own Free Blog” on Blogger.

She started by posting her carpentry plans for a farmhouse bed, the same one she made for her own home. Then, every single day, this stay-at-home mom with an infant in tow blogged more designs for items like dining tables, shelves and storage cabinets, adding up to nearly 400 posts that first year.

Without White doing anything else, the blog hit one million page views in just three months, and then reached more than one million page views every month following. She’d struck a chord with an audience eager to furnish their homes at a fraction of retail prices.

Fortunately, those readers proudly told their friends about their handiwork.

“This is a one-woman show from remote Alaska with no experience, no connections, no network,” White says. “I’ve just got a real passion for what I do and a huge desire to share it.”

What she also has is her story, which she shares on her blog and in many of her posts. Readers – many like her – get to know about her husband, daughter, extended family, home, town and weather.

High-Value Content – Always Free

Today, White’s site, “Ana White Homemaker,” has more than 500 plans. Despite suggestions to charge for plans, she’s insistent on keeping them free.

“I needed to be able to provide plans for free so women could look at it and it would create confidence in them that ‘I can build this’,” she said. “I knew that for me, as a mom with a single income, a really limited income, at home all day, it needed to be free because I myself couldn’t have afforded to pay $10 a plan.”


All 500-plus designs on White's site are free for readers.

But she stresses “free” content doesn’t mean you shouldn’t take the business seriously. From the start, she committed to frequent blogging and continues to post new plans a few times a week. With so many audience photos coming in, she started a brag blog dedicated to featuring fans’ work.

brag blog

White started a second brag blog just for readers to share their work.

Facebook: Fans Helping Fans

Blogging alone was enough to grow the site at a nice clip. The addition of a Facebook page increased traffic, but has largely become a community for her fans to share their work and help each other.

With a base of more than 50,000 fans, those posting questions know they will get an answer from other fans or White herself. The audience – and even White – learns from those responses.

facebook brag

Facebook fans share their handiwork.

facebook get help

Fans enthusiastically help each other with tricky building questions.

White stresses that she’s specifically chosen to allow fan postings to be publicly viewable, while many other fan sites do not.

“Ninety to ninety-five percent of the content on my Facebook page is from my readership,” she says. “What you’re seeing is not filtered. I feel like it should be an open and transparent forum where people can ask questions and post.”

The Payoff: Making a Living and a Life

White admits the first year was tough work, with long days of writing and making designs, photographing projects and blogging relentlessly while caring for her daughter.

In year two, the payoff came. The site’s high volume gave White the credentials to secure marquee advertisers like Lowe’s and other retailers appealing to women. Now, the site supports her family, with extra to invest in growing the business.

The momentum continued, with her plans appearing in numerous home magazines (without sending a single pitch letter), the chance to contribute designs for and now a book deal from Random House.


All press has come to White without a single pitch letter.

 Readers Help Design the “Momplex”

White recently added a whole new dimension to her blog and story with the “Momplex” project. Last summer, she and her husband started building a duplex for both of their mothers and now are letting readers decide much of the home’s design.


Sharing progress of the duplex White and her husband are building for her mom and mother-in-law, the "Momplex," adds to White's story and gets readers involved.

Readers might not want to check in daily for furniture plans, but they may want to see updates on the Momplex.

When White asked readers to weigh in on which kitchen design they preferred, more than 1300 readers indicated their preferences by “liking” one of the Momplex kitchen mockups.

facebook kitchen voting

More than 1300 fans voted on the Momplex kitchen design.

“My community is full of really smart people, so we’re actually getting a better product with their input,” she says. “It’s helped us make a better Momplex.”

Pinterest: The Game-Changer

Now in its third year, White recently discovered an interesting change in her site’s stats. Just three months after showing up as a referring site, Pinterest has taken over as the number-one source of traffic to her blog.

“Google, Facebook and direct traffic – none of those are the top referrers. Six thousand unique visitors a day are now coming from Pinterest. It’s dominating my traffic,” she says.

Pinterest lets members “pin” images of their favorite things to virtual pinboards. Their followers see those pins and can choose to “Like” or “Repin” those images to their boards. Highly visual, Pinterest works perfectly with the photos on White’s carpentry blog.

pinterest shelf

Fans of White's designs enthusiastically "pin" images on their Pinterest boards.

She considers Pinterest a potential “game-changer” in her industry, with extremely viral person-to-person sharing. As a membership-only site, that traffic is also likely of higher quality than from other sources, she says.

As for encouraging “pinning,” White added a “Love this? Pin it right now!” button on all pages of her blog. She also gives readers photography tips to enhance the quality of their photos, which in turn helps increase pins.

pin it now

White encourages "pinning" with a button on every page of her site.

While White has her own pinboards on Pinterest, she rarely pins her own content, preferring to let readers share freely and naturally what they like.

Reader-Inspired Content

White’s content model has also changed since she began. Though initially she blogged all her own ideas, now nearly all new design ideas come from readers. A fan will snap a pic of an antique or something in a catalog and post it to Facebook, asking if White will design plans for it.

“I look at myself as a servant to my readers. What do you want me to design a plan for? And then we go from there,” she says.

facebook suggestion

Nearly all of White's new designs now come from reader suggestions.

Not content to just sit back and rest on her handcrafted farmhouse bed, White continuously looks ahead to the next thing.

“If you’re on the Internet, your business goals and your business plan can change overnight,” she says. “You always have to be on your toes and be aware of technology emerging and be willing to adapt to your readers.”

Building a Better Blog the Ana White Way

  1. Tell your story – Weave in your personal story and keep sharing it.
  2. Care about photography – If what you do is visual in some way, try to get great photos and educate fans on taking attractive photos. It matters more than ever with sharing sites like Pinterest.
  3. Allow public postings on Facebook – It becomes a community when you allow fans to freely post and help each other.
  4. Invest back in the business – What will make the business better – a new camera, a new blog platform or content management system?

What do you think? Is what you provide visual? How are you tapping into new social media avenues like Pinterest? Leave your questions and comments in the box below.

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  • zool

    Wow.. That’s great.. That’s important if you are expert on something..

  • Dave Thackeray

    Thank you SO much for sharing this story, Casey. I dearly hope it will serve as inspiration not only to individuals but to businesses who care to share their expertise and in doing so, reap huge rewards.

    What stops so many of us expressing our expert status? I think it’s simply because we think everyone knows what we know. And how wrong we are! Part of what I do at is find the value in every business’ story: It’s not hard to see why Ana is rocking her niche!

    Thanks again. What a great way to start the week (and learn a bit of DIY!).

  • Aaron Eden

    Now, this is the first inspiring story I’ve read for today.  I guess, what worked for her is her passion and the willingness to share it with others.  In the end, karma is digital and she ‘ll have more of the good things coming her way, no doubt!  Thanks for sharing this, ‘love it!

  • Becky Cortino

    What a great success story! Inspiring example of building online community fueled by passion, through freely sharing. Great blogging tips, and pointers for presenting content.

  • Jeff Korhan

    Great story.  There are indeed numberless paths to success!

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  • Kevin

    did i miss the part where it explained how she all of a sudden got 1 million readers?

  • Keri at Idea Girl Media


    Thank you for writing this post with such care and detail.

    I love hearing about successful women, and this is just such a great story!  Excellent to hear the success from Pinterest.

    Your work also helps affirm ideas around value-driven content, blogging, and not being afraid to jump onto new networks that I’ve been trying to get clients to understand and champion.

    Big, olympic-sized kudos to you!!


  • Natalie

    Really inspirational post. This shows that by creating good quality content and actively engaging with readers, fans and followers, communities can grow online. Pinterest is a really hot topic at the moment, so it’s great to see so much success from a new social network.

  • Kelly Lester (Easy Lunchboxes)

    Wow! Quickly commenting here to say thanks for sharing her inspiring success story! Indeed – freely sharing skills, passion, and knowledge absolutely does reap the best rewards :)…. Now I’m running off to go check out Ana’s amazing site and get some ideas for our teen bedroom makeover :)

  • Kevin Haynes

    Nice post… I love how they use the “momplex” project to engage their readers and essentially tell a story with the related content. Brilliant!

  • marketingpro

    What an inspiring story! I’ve learned over and over that people who have great successes with their online business generally work very hard and show incredible passion.

  • Oneupweb

    This is a great story! I love how this not only helped her in her own income, but how its paradigm is a “pay-it-forward” model. Sweet!

  • Ellyn Ambrose

    So many businesses want to talk about themselves and their services.  The concept of encouraging customers or fans to connect with each other is hard to understand.  This is “proof”!  Just a wonderful story.  Thanks or sharing.

  • Douglas Millington

    Congratulations on your success Ana – I know a lot of people will focus on the positives and I think that is great but whenever I here one of these types of stories I think folks overlook a few things such as: she was doing this full time (most people getting started do not have this luxery), something is always left out – like Kevin asked above – how do she go from zero to 1 million visitors in 3 months, one just doesn’t start blogging and suddenly you get a million visitors something happended or you just get lucky and fill a void in the market. I always try to see both sides of the coin – I know some just want to look at one side and ignore the other. I believe that ignoring all aspects leads to a narrow discussion that becomes to sound more like a fairy tale then real life. What do you think?

  • Cathryn Peters

    I too, love how Ana’s made a living for herself through blogging and that it’s opened up an entirely new world for her. Now, just to implement some of those great tips on my own niche blog, Weavin’ Wicker Woman Thanks for posting about this great woman carpenter/blogger!

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  • wrightimc

    This is story is not just about passion projects and tapping into those social networks, it’s also about the value of niche markets. Pinterest has put those groups at the forefront of the social media game – and they’re winning.

  • Phyllis Khare

    FAB post! I am inspired not only to build something (!) but to continue to help small businesses get up and running online. I will hand this article to them in hopes of enlarging their outlook. I am going to White’s site right now and connect with her on all her social accounts. Thank you Casey for taking the time to write this!

  • Ana White

    Hi Douglas, thank you!  

    To answer a few questions –

    My blog hit the million views mark after three months when one of my plans was featured on Apartment Therapy, and then refeatured by many other bloggers, both small and large – thank you!

    The first year I blogged, my daughter was a very high maintenance two year old and my husband worked long hours and did not understand blogging or the potential of it. It was very very difficult to take care of a toddler all day, manage the home, make dinner for my family, do dishes, clean house, put everyone to bed, and then sneak out of bed afterwards to blog.  Most of my posts in the first year were published at 2 or 3 in the morning, and I constantly felt torn between wanting to share my passion – though not really understanding what a blog was or able to justify the time – and feeling like I wasn’t doing enough for my family.  Finding extra time is tough, I totally understand that.  Looking back, I’m not even sure how I survived that first year.

    If this has worked for me, it can work for anyone. Just a few years ago, I had given up on a ever having a career, accepted a life of housework and diapers – nothing wrong with that!  and would never have believed I would have another opportunity to follow my dreams. We all have this opportunity today, right now. Some may have a head start or advantage with more time, more money, more experience, more connections, for sure. But we still have a chance to get in the race, and if you are doing and sharing what you love, everyone’s a winner.

    Thank you Casey for the well written article.  I’m so glad you shared about Pinterest – not to be ignored!

    Thank you everyone for your comments, for reading, and for stopping over to visit me.  


  • Ana White

    duplicate comment

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  • Erin @ How to Nest for Less

    Fabulous article and inspiring story! I love seeing strong female forces in the DIY building news. Keep it up Ana and can’t wait to meet you at Haven!

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  • Ana White

    Thank you Erin – can’t wait to meet you at Haven too!

  • Are Morch

    Hi Casey and Ana.

    Well written case-study here.

    I love reading case-studies it bring so many great ideas into to play to you can adapt to your own approach.

    Interesting to see how Pinterest is playing a role here. I’m not big on taking picture, might have to add to my goals this year learning how to take great picture.

    Thanks for sharing this Casey.


    Are Morch
    Hotel Blogger

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  • Nate

    That is amazing that a mom-carpentry blog is getting that kind of traffic. 

    Also, I’m officially going to start using Pinterest… It’s been my wife’s new favorite site for a few weeks now and I’ve been wondering if anyone out there is using it for traffic, and they clearly are. Thanks for the great article.

  • debbieclarkonline

    I really enjoyed this story. Starting with 0 experience and now having a huge following. I think that is great.  

  • Elias Kamal Jabbe

    Thanks for sharing this inspirational story. Proof that hard work makes anything possible.

  • Robert Samuel

    What an awesome and inspiring story. Wow, 6000 unique visitors from Pinterest? It’s time I go and see what all of the fuss is about.

  • Sudeep Chakravarty

    Hi Casey,

    Great article, very inspiring for new bloggers and much appreciated final 4 tips.

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  • The Nerdy Nurse

    That is pretty darn impressive. I am always blown away when I hear about people supporting their families on their blogging income. 

  • Henry Louis

    Oh! It is amazing and very impressive. I really enjoyed by reading the story. Thanks for sharing this post.

  • Ann

    Thank you so much for this carefully written and inspiring post.  Hard work, perseverance, and finding the right niche for your passion, does pay off!

  • Agreen

    Awesome! Very inspiring! Thank you for sharing.

  • Douglas Millington

    Hi Ana,

    Thanks for the insight – it’s amazing what can happen when someone opens a door to get the word out – I haven’t yet had a chance to visit your blog (I’ve had an incredibly busy day) but will be by this week for a visit. Put an extra log on the fire and blog away. And again congratulations on your success!

  • buzzquotient

    Guess passion is the key to success! Thanks for sharing SME! Can take a lesson or two from here.

  • savvymarketers

    To echo other commenters, this is a truly inspirational case study! Lovely to see how a blog can work for a ‘low tech’ (but still high skill) business. The other take aways include the need for hard work and persistence. But what kept me reading was the story which is well written and compelling – an excellent blogging model. Most enjoyable!

  • Victoria

    What an inspiring story! Thanks for sharing. Also for the heads-up on Pinterest 😉

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  • Trends2you

    I just love social media. They are an icon of the modern society already.

  • Medbowmike

    Yes…what you send get back.  

  • Medbowmike

    Thanks Dave…I was ” prompted” to respond to your post.   I think it’s so important to discover your gift and share it with the world openly and honestly.    Everyone has a story….There is a compelling story in business you may want to know about…     watch the “vision” video.     This company has changed my life and helped me to become a better guy/person.  

  • caseyhibbard

    Thanks Dave! Appreciate it.

  • caseyhibbard

    Definitely an example of giving freely and reaping the rewards!

  • caseyhibbard

    Hi Natalie, I enjoyed the Pinterest part of this story as well. Amazing how fast a new community can change your business.

  • caseyhibbard


    I too am inspired to try to make something but haven’t picked something yet. Be sure to send Ana pics for the Brag Blog.

  • caseyhibbard

    Thanks Phyllis! I’m inspired as well.

  • caseyhibbard

    You’re very welcome! Thanks for reading.

  • caseyhibbard

    Appreciate your comments!

  • Tracy Terry

    Loved hearing her success story.  Thanks for sharing!

  • Chris Sullivan

    Wow such a great article here. An inspiring story and certainly provides some powerful strategies. Pinterest is really growing quickly and making a strong name for itself in the social media world!

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  • facelift New Jersey

    Nice collections and i am going to use this list for my site and really thanks for sharing this great information.

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  • Elaine

    This is a great success story.  As an aspiring blogger it is nice to hear about the small beginnings to keep me going!  I have recently discovered Pintrest and am HOOKED!  Ana seems like she really has it going on and I appreciate this story.  Plus anything to promote independent women just makes me happy =)

    I would love to learn a little more about how to get people to your blog or how exactly to get the “Pin it” link on your site if anyone has some insight??

  • Michael Seese

    One million views in three months. That’s miraculous. If she could bottle it and sell that, I’d buy some.

  • FolksM

    I m pretty new to this social media fuss and so much hooked up with this now that this is taking close to 4 hours additionally learning the nuances. Thanks Casey for bringing such a fab case. (it pretty justified your name CASE..y:) The supreme mantra that i could discover so far is “original content, regular content,interesting content,engaging content” are the keys rather than becoming expert in Social Media. As name suggest it has to be Social..And Ana is leading from front. I just followed these two great ladies..Casey and Ana..

  • Adrienne Ervay

    I did a virtual double take while reading the title to this article. This is an amazing find and a truly inspirational story, especially to those (Mom, I hope you’re not reading this) older generations still catching on. Although I have no interest in carpentry, I do believe in the power of social media. Congratulations, to Ana!

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  • Ted Lee Sadler

    Excellent job – both Ana and Casey!

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  • Darryl Hudson

    Inspiring story thanks for sharing

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  • Shaeyi

    What a great case study here. Its good to start something either big or small and grow it too.

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  • Andre F. Bourque

    I call this article “Grassroots Inbound Marketing.”  Inspiring and effective!  Love it. 

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  • Sherry Nouraini

    What a great story, love it!

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  • Lori Thayer

    What a great story. Thanks for sharing. Great content results in success.

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  • gabri

    yeah the main problem remains..if you’re an expert on something…but if youre not?

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  • Tehmina Zaman

    This is an awesome example of how passion and love for what you do can attract the right opportunities to you! Well done to Ana for following your heart and recognizing the early potential of Pinterest!

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  • Ismail N

    Good to know that some good deeds do get recognition.

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