A few weeks ago, I hit the 5-year mark of blogging. Say WHAT! I know, I can’t believe it either. It all started so innocently enough. In 2011, I had a lot of opinions about decorating and DIY, I had been binge-reading Making it Lovely who was my idol at the time (and still is) and I realized I wanted an online voice too. What started as a half-assed (ok, it’s still kind of half-assed LOL), after-work journal of sorts has turned into a bonafide side business. What started as a Tumblr called “House Stuff” has turned into 600+ posts, over one million page views, nearly half a million visitors… it’s nuts.
Blogging is full of lessons in patience, perseverance, tough skin and more. Here are some of the big lessons for me, personally.
#1 – AS AN INTROVERT, I NEED THIS
The blogging world is chock full of quiet, introverted folks. I’m one of them. We’re people who have tons of opinions, good advice and know exactly what we want to say…. except we have a hard time finding our voice in a group. The blog becomes therapeutic in that way. We get to say exactly what we want, and the best part, we get to think it through first.
#2 – I’M TERRIBLE AT EVERYTHING BUT CONTENT
I’m a terrible blogger. My blog design hasn’t been updated since 2013 (until now!), I don’t optimize my ads, I don’t have any Pinterest strategies, my media kit is years out of date. I don’t do/rarely do the things that serious bloggers do every day. My focus all of these years has been on keeping a journal and telling my DIY and design stories on a somewhat consistent basis. No pressure, just words on a page. I think that, while not recommended if you want to quit your day job, has been huge for me in terms of stamina. And, you know what, I haven’t done too bad for myself despite my neglect. Further proof that you don’t need to have big numbers to get attention from big brands and publications.
Now, there are TONS of bloggers that have both amazing content AND amazing back-end traffic strategies. These are the men and women who are my gold standard and my inspiration. One day I’ll get there (do I want to get there?), but not anytime soon and I’m so OK with that!
#3 – BEING TRUE TO MYSELF KEEPS ME GOING
The only reason I’m still here 5 years later is because I do the things I want to do and avoid/ignore everything else. Here’s a great example. As a DIY/design blogger, there’s a lot of pressure to “find a niche.” Meaning, find a topic you want to post about and only post about that topic. Well I gotta tell ya, that gets really boring after awhile! More focused? Yes. More clear to readers? Yes. But the reality is, I’m a complex person with complex non-house projects. I’d like to post about all the things—my kids, our financial adventures, life hacks, etc.
#4 – I’M NOT IN IT FOR THE MONEY
It’s never been my focus to turn this into a huge money-making venture. If it was, I would have had to shift my focus from content generation to all of the back-end stuff I’ve done a great job of ignoring all of these years (see #2). And I really don’t want to do that. I have a great full-time job, so there’s no pressure to turn a specific dollar amount each month. Some months I make $10 and others I might make $500 off the blog. $10? Great! $500? Awesome! Not relying on the blog as an important revenue stream for our family has been very freeing (and very important for #3, too).
NOW, saying all of that, if you want to be in it for the money, then GO FOR IT. There is so much money to be had in blogging. Most of the money comes from brand sponsorships. As big brands evolve their marketing plans from old-school advertising to influencer engagement, there is literally no limits to what you can accomplish. Just be prepared to put in the time, effort, etc.
#5 – THE HIGH OF FREE STUFF IS ADDICTING
My gosh, the amount of free stuff offered can get a little overwhelming at times. I mean, I was handed an entire suite of kitchen appliances entirely free of charge. It’s NUTS! But… BUT… there are typically strings attached. “Payment” while not money, is usually in the form of a post, social media mentions, event support, etc. Not required, but certainly expected. And of course, there are tax implications because all of these gifts have to be reported as income.
I have to be careful with this. It’s easy to get hooked on the free stuff. To be swayed in design decisions based on what you know you might get for free. And more importantly, to receive free stuff that is so ridiculously expensive at retail that you and your readers could never normally afford it. Not good!
#6 – I’M BETTER WHEN I’M SURROUNDED BY BADASS WOMEN
I’ve been in the blogging world for 5 years and during that time, I’ve been lucky enough to befriend amazing, badass bloggers. I can’t even tell you how helpful it’s been to have a friend who gets just as bothered by a crooked picture frame as I do. Or who knows the sting of a negative comment. Or who can commiserate over poor Pinterest traffic. And better yet, who knows the struggle juggle of kids and getting house projects done. It’s been really awesome, motivating and therapeutic to have others in the same boat as me. I hope I’ve helped them as much as they’ve helped me.
#7 – I’M NOTHING WITHOUT MY READERS
Many of you have been here since the beginning. And even better you’ve stayed with me when things slowed down considerably with the arrival of the twins. The comments, the shares, the emails… heck even just seeing my page view count… this keeps me going. It’s just nice to be writing to people who share the same interests as me (related to #6). For the first two years, it was crickets. If you’re a new blogger, this is the toughest barrier to overcome because you will hear crickets for a really long time at first. Keep your head down, keep producing content and keep going.
Considering blogging? What’s holding you back? Imagine where you could be in 5 years if you start today. 😉
P.S. A huge, HUGE kiss, thank you, hug to to my husband who helped me be a little less terrible by redoing this site for me. It’s pretty great, right! I’m still working on some features, but it’s been a breath of fresh air.