Courtesy of Organic Olivia
A blogger turned wellness influencer and CEO Olivia Amitrano started her business with only $200.She said the best way to grow a blog is to use captivating titles, listicles, and specific solutions.Her supplement business, Organic Olivia, now brings in about $14 million in revenue every year.
This as-told-to essay is based on a conversation with Olivia Amitrano, a 29-year-old wellness entrepreneur from New York City. The following has been edited for length and clarity.
I grew up with health problems that I always thought were connected, including skin and gut issues and some anxiety. We know now that there’s a gut-brain axis, but at the time, the doctors I went to kept telling me my issues weren’t related.
This motivated me to enter Fordham University as a premed student in 2011. Even though I eventually realized traditional, or integrative, medicine was my true calling, the statistics and research classes I took turned out to be extremely helpful later in my career. After one year, I switched majors to psychology and graduated in 2015.
Now I’m a wellness influencer with 474,000 Instagram followers and 94,000 TikTok followers. I also have my own supplement line that brought in $14 million in revenue in 2020, my highest-grossing year yet. Here’s how I built my business.
From my teens to early 20s, I was stressed out and sick, and my doctors said they couldn’t do anything
One day in 2012, I left school and drove myself to an acupuncturist who practiced traditional Chinese medicine. He took one look at my tongue and noted every symptom I was experiencing. He also prescribed me herbs that gave me more relief over the next week than anything else I’d tried.
After that visit, I started a blog detailing my journey. I began experimenting with herbs and seeing more alternative-health practitioners. I wanted to explain to people what worked for me to fix my issues, the diet changes I was making, and why.
In 2013, I tried to monetize the blog, but there wasn’t much information about affiliate marketing at the time, and influencers weren’t big yet. All I could do was post Amazon affiliate links for different herbs, skincare, and home products I blogged about, which made me anywhere from a few cents to a dollar per sale. I made $200 to $500 a month on average.
I grew my blog using specific strategies
Blog titles are critical. People are inundated with digital grabs for their very short attention spans, so you need to convince your audience in seconds that this topic is going to be easy to understand, fun to read, and valuable.
The most high-value content provides solutions, so ensure your article is solving a real and specific problem for your audience. Instead of writing about a skincare product you’re loving, write about a skincare product that has helped you with a specific skin complaint or condition such as eczema.
Structure, format, and quantify your articles. It’s easy and fun for our brains to contain things in neat, digestible bits, and lists help break up long articles.
Naming my blog posts “Everything I Wish I Knew About _____” has been an effective format, particularly on TikTok and Instagram reels. One of my blogs in this style, adapted from a reel that got 329,000 views, had “protein, calories, and hormones” in the blank, and it performed well on my site.
Other topics that performed well for me were digestion, cutting out sugar, aphrodisiac herbs, and preventing cognitive decline.
In 2013, I decided to write an e-book to help accelerate my business
I was working a series of side jobs, and I had $200 to my name. I spent it all at Trader Joe’s buying ingredients to make my favorite juice recipes to test and photograph them. The juice-recipe book made about $4,000 over three months, and I plowed all of that back into the business.
The key was starting very small with digital products since they have such low overhead and eventually putting that money into physical products. I started working on my supplement line in 2016 and named my business Organic Olivia.
In 2017, I started at ArborVitae School of Traditional Herbalism in Brooklyn
I wanted to understand the science and traditional wisdom that could explain why the herbs I was using for my health conditions were so effective. I also wanted the credentials, knowledge base, and real-world experience to formulate my own products and be taken seriously in the supplement and wellness world.
I completed a three-year intensive clinical program in 2020, where I learned how to formulate herbal remedies with the right therapeutic dose and complementary herbs.
Manufacturing supplements was a huge learning curve
I was lucky to have a friend who had worked in food manufacturing who explained the dos and don’ts of the industry to me and pointed out some of the corruption that exists.
I then met a great manufacturer at a supplement conference called Expo West who helped me navigate tricks in the industry, and we worked together as co-formulators. We also ensured our 33 products, which range in price from $25 to $79, were tested and certified by a reputable lab.
I’ve never taken investor money and now have nine full-time employees.
As an influencer, I promote my own formulas
I was an early adopter of Instagram and was really part of the first “generation” of influencers, but I don’t take sponsorships. I make commissions from affiliates, but I’ve never promoted something because a company approached me, which helps me maintain trust with my audience.
Instead of putting 100 products in front of my followers, they can trust my line of supplements because we’ve built a relationship.
Maintaining my blog has been a big part of my success. Researching and writing content doesn’t directly translate to revenue, but it’s important that it’s my voice because the brand is my face and philosophy.
The biggest mistakes I’ve made were spending too much on web-agency fees instead of hiring my own developer and keeping employees who weren’t working out because I wanted to be nice. Not only did it hit me financially, but it impacted the company’s energy and culture.