Blogging can be wild ride with highs and lows and everything in between. You are putting yourself, your opinions, your life out there for the world to read, and have an opinion on. I’ve been blogging for a long time now – my first blog was created in 2007, along with my now-defunct retail business Beautilicious. I started out by writing for it sporadically and then when I shut the business down to start my Direct Sales business, I shut down the blog. I loved reading blogs and writing myself, but I had a lot of distractions. If I could go back and do it over again with what I know now, I probably would have continued blogging all the way along my life over the past 10 years.
But I started up again with this blog, or a version of it, in 2010 when I won a contest from Nordica Photography, which included a photo shoot and blog setup. Since I was embarking on a new journey at the time with Direct Sales and freelancing as a makeup artist, it was perfect timing. It took me a few years to find my groove, because, like a lot of people, blogging wasn’t my business. But I still was reading other blogs and realized that a blog can be one of the best vehicles for people to find you.
So in 2013, I decided to give blogging a real go, and started blogging with intention. Every few days, I was posting like gangbusters, and really started to find my voice as a writer. I left my other businesses behind and started writing as full-time as I could while side hustling with some freelance work.
I have written well over 600 posts, some on my own website and some on other sites, and many as a ghost-writer, which means I get paid to write it, but not author-credit. In some ways, I have have felt a bit of writer-burn-out, but it has also taught me a lot more about my skill set and where I want to go in this different season of life.
Have you started a blog, or wanted to? It is so much easier now than it was in 2010, because there are a lot of other bloggers out there, like Suzi from Start a Mom Blog, that offer amazing courses and resources to get you started. Social media can help you to get the word out about your blog, multiple different ways and times so that your own promotion machine is constantly going.
Want to hear more about what I have learned? This is my No Bullsh*t List of lessons learned after blogging for 3+ years.
- Don’t Know How to Take Photos? Time to Learn. Every successful blog has great photos. And by successful I mean a lot of views – you don’t see any well-referred blogs on Pinterest or Twitter than have blurry or crappy photos. Some of my favourites for visuals are Nubby Twiglet and Maria Killam. Maria is a designer who has been blogging for 8+ years, and we go way back to our days when we were both part of Benjamin Moore. She is one of the most successful bloggers I know (and it’s her 50th birthday today, go wish her a Happy Birthday and comment to win one of the many prizes she is giving away on her blog today). Maria works in decorating and has a colour system that she has created to help colour consultants and clients choose colours. Maria didn’t always have great photos on her site, but realized the need and learned photoshop and has hired photographers to make her site as beautiful as possible. Read more on her Social Media Tips for Blogging – it’s a good one!
- Successful Blogs Put in the Time. Blogs that are generating hundreds of thousands of views, are putting a lot of time into promotion. Writing a blog is one thing, but promoting it is another. Twins Mommy, by my online friend Elna Cain, is a great example of a blogger that is putting a lot of time into creating great and resourceful content, but also a lot of hours, into her blog. Just know that if you are working the hours while your kid is in school and then doing other stuff, your blog growth will be slower. Many successful blogs have a team behind them – husband and wife or another type of partnership where they are working together and it’s not a solo-venture. Don’t beat yourself up if the numbers aren’t there – you have to work at a pace that works for you. I have constantly had to remind myself of this when I get down on myself for my progress.
- Not Everyone You Know Will Read Your Blog. Just like every small business, not everyone you know will be a customer. Or in the case of your blog, not everyone will read it. They may support you in your venture, but maybe reading blogs isn’t their thing. When every click and page view counts, it can be painful when you know that your hundreds of friends aren’t reading it. Even in the past 3 years, I have noticed a drop in views from my Facebook friends. One contributing factor is that social media has become so much noisier. Three years ago, there were fewer status updates that had links or photos, and now its very commonplace. Analytics were different also, and many more people were viewing your links than they are today. So it can be challenging, but finding your readers, your people, takes hard work and dedication.
- There is NOT One Simple Way to Make Money. But rather there are lots of different ways – offering your own services, adding sidebar advertising, or affiliate links. Truth be told, it is not a straight path, and I have tried things that worked for awhile, and then abandoned them. Out of the few different businesses I have had, blogging as a business is truly the hardest to monetize. If you are starting a blog as a side hustle, I strongly recommend taking a course, or learning about affiliates from the start. I have had a few side gigs, namely makeup artistry, direct sales, ghost-writing and contributing to other websites, that has helped me to earn income.
- You Have to Love to Read and Network. Starting a blog for business without reading blogs is like trying to become a yoga teacher when you don’t do yoga – seeing what’s out there helps you not to try and re-invent the wheel. I read other blogs and articles for at least two hours every day, an hour in the morning and an hour at night. Some of the larger ones I read are Scary Mommy, Narratively, Marie Claire and Lenny Letter just to name a few. There are tonnes of small blogs to read online, and while there has been a shift towards Social Influencers (people who make huge amounts of money using social platforms like Instagram, and not writing a blog at all), writing your own blog is still an option where you can control your own content and own it. Reading and writing though, should be a passion before you embark on blogging. If it isn’t, I would stick with the other platforms that you love, and do that instead.
- Have a Thick Skin: Haters are a Real Thing. There are bullsh*t people out there who seemingly like to be trolls, and spread their hate around. And if you are putting yourself out there in a public way, they are bound to come around. You could even consider it a compliment – you’ve arrived if you have a hater or two! But seriously, there are going to be those that don’t like you or what you write, and may feel the need to tell you so. But the beauty of the internet, is that you can advise them to click away at any time.
- Blogging Might Not Be the End Goal. Let’s face it, you may not be blogging until you are 65 years old. You may just be blogging as a side hustle or as a business-supporting-hustle for a while – not forever. There can be a tonne of things that you learn while blogging that can be applicable to your next move in like, like writing for a larger website, or doing content management for a company. The possibilities are endless. But what I know for sure is that blogging IS a skill that not everyone else has or even wants. So keep doing what you are doing, knowing that it will be leading you to somewhere great.
I have learned so much as a blogger – it is like self-help every day, because you are constantly reflecting on what you want to share, and how you can be better at what you do. In 2014, I took the Blogcademy course, which taught me so much and got me on to a path of reflection, which has taken my blog to where it is today.
Got questions? Let me refer you to one of the blogging gurus out there, Melissa Griffin. She can answer nearly every blogging question out there, and her blog will inspire you to keep going for it too!