Wednesday, November 19, 2014

Five Things I've Learned About Blogging

This week marks two years that An Inviting Home has been in existence. 

What a fun two years it has been! Today I thought I would share a little behind the scenes look at what that looks like and what I've learned these last two years.


Five things I've learned about blogging

Five Things I've Learned About Blogging

1. You Need PASSION: From the very beginning I had always heard other bloggers say, "you have to blog because you love it and would do it for free." I completely agree with that statement especially since one of my core values is authenticity. I am most drawn to blogs where people are writing about things that they are passionate about. And you can just tell...you know that whether someone paid them or not they would talk about that topic. That is why it is so important to me to share about things that I actually am passionate about and that I believe can be helpful and encouraging to others.

I've done some research as to ways that I could monetize the blog. I would say that the possibilities are endless. I see the potential for turning this blog into a full-time business but it came down to...I don't want to. I've done some sponsored posts, but I've also turned down other offers because they weren't things we would actually use. I don't want to be sponsored by home-furniture brands or be given decorating products for free...because I want to inspire you to decorate your home on a realistic budget, just like I do mine. (Now if someone wants to sponsor a surprise room make-over for a single mom, newly adopted child, etc...please let me know and I would LOVE to collaborate with you on it!) :-)

things i've learned about blogging

2. You Need TIME: There are so many behind the scenes tasks connected with blogging. Creating post ideas, taking photos, editing photos, writing, researching, formatting, answering emails, etc. I would estimate that I spend about 10-15 hours a week keeping this blog up and running. Time is going to cost you something. It was easy for me to blog for free at the beginning because I was also doing another dream job for free...being a stay at home mom. (I'm not saying that bloggers should write for free, I'm just saying that is where I had always been at.) However, slowly those little ones have grown and started school and only one little one remains at home. Soon it wouldn't be a matter of whether or not I was ok with blogging for free as much as was I ok with giving up a salary that I could be earning by going back to work when the kids are in school. 

blogging part-time

In the end it came down to, I don't want to have forty hours a week to dream up the perfect organization projects for our home. I want any other mom reading an organization post to feel like, "hey, I could do that in between all of the other stuff I'm doing." By limiting the hours that I spend on the blog it helps keep my mission more in line with wanting to encourage others with small changes rather than overwhelm readers with more ideas and more inspiration.

Given all of those reasons...joining an ad network was a great fit for me. It helps to cover a small portion of the hours that I put into blogging. Everything is set up automatically, BlogHer runs a few ads on the blog and I get paid each month based on how many page views the blog receives. (As a reader of many blogs, one of the things that I appreciate is that they are absolutely free for us to read and enjoy.) By running the ads they don't interfere with my content and it doesn't take me away from the part of blogging that I love most...the writing and creating part.



3. You Need CONSISTENCY: 368 posts so far! Yikes! That seems like so much, but it has happened one post at a time. At first it was 3-4 posts a week. When you break it down like that it's not quite so overwhelming to think about. So it's easier to think in terms of writing 3 posts per week (think Monday, Wednesday, and Friday) than to think "I want to write a few posts whenever I think of something" or "I have to write 368 posts in 2 years!" Early on I committed to a schedule and that's the only way I have been able to stay consistent. The schedule has changed over time, but I still stick to a schedule of posts. We all need deadlines to get things done. Currently I've found a better balance at doing 2-3 posts a week. Let's talk about balance in a minute...



4. You Need SUPPORT: In my case it is a husband who edits my posts. It's really his blog, especially all the ones about decorating and painting (just kidding!) :-) But I couldn't write what I write or do what I do without having someone to bounce ideas off of and to help along the way. I have friends who encourage, support, comment, ask questions, sometimes help with projects, or brainstorm ideas with me, etc. No blog is a one man (or woman) show...or at least it shouldn't be. Connect with other bloggers too! No one understands you better than people who are doing the same thing as you.

5. You Need BALANCE: Like everything else in life you need balance. For me, I enjoy blogging part-time so that I am able to incorporate other things that I love into the mix as well. On a personal level I'm always trying (fighting with all my might!) to find ways to prioritize the most important things to me...like growing in my walk with God, my marriage, our kids, our friends, community and church. Those things are what fuel all of my passions. If I don't rein myself in I could always be coming up with new blog posts, ideas, and collaborations and fill my schedule to the point where I don't have time for other things. Instead I try to balance the things that are most important to me and let everything else flow out of that. Because blogging for me is only a part-time thing, there are a few other things that flow out of that to support our family and help me to continue to pursue encouraging and empowering others:

Traveling and speaking. I shared a few months ago my passion for seeing people face to face and encouraging them, sharing our testimony and talking about topics that the Lord has laid on my heart, like contentment or how inadequate I feel as a mom most days. It is like my whole being wants to explode. I'm not a "professional speaker" but I do have a burning passion in my heart to share what God has done in our lives. Sam and I have talked and we are stepping out on this. You'll notice a speaking tab at the top of the blog. I'm still (fighting!) finding balance in all of this so I'm trying to be careful right up front to not commit to too many things. I also don't charge a certain fee because I don't want it to hinder whether or not I could come to your area. The only thing I ask is that traveling expenses be covered plus whatever amount is doable for your group to cover the time it takes me to prepare and share.

I sell essential oils. Hi, my name is Sarah and I am a doTERRA wellness advocate. Please don't hate me if you use Young Living oils...my sister-in-law (whom I love!) uses Young Living...can we still be friends?!? :-) I simply first learned about essential oils through a dear friend who uses doTERRA oils and the rest is history. A lot of us are using oils and are excited to share about them...yet try not to lather up all of our friends with peppermint any time someone mentions having a head ache. ;-)  I'm focusing most of my time spent on this off of the blog. The hard work put into this has never been more rewarding...it has been awesome seeing people empowered with their health. I'm still planning on sharing about two times a month on the blog various ways that we are enjoying using essential oils in our home. My hope is that it will be a benefit to anyone using essential oils. I'll just ad this disclaimer though...if you have a friend who has been sharing about essential oils with you then please, please, PLEASE talk to them about how to enroll and get wholesale prices. (You can even tell them that I told you too.) And if this whole essential oil thing is new to you, feel free to email me to learn more.

Phew, that was a lot! It has been two years though...I guess you learn a lot about who you are, what is most important to you and how to feed your growing children in two years! :-)

Any tips you have learned about blogging that you want to share?

6 comments:

  1. I agree about being consistent! I've tried blogging a few times before, and never stuck with it because I never planned anything, just flew by the seat of my pants, hoping something would come to me the day I needed to post something.
    Now, I'm using an actual planner and have posts outlined and planned for all the way until December 5th right now. All I have to do is take a few photos on certain days, and sit at the computer on the correct days, type a bit, and its done. A little thought beyond the "right now I need a post" goes a long way!!

    And passion! You have to like what you are writing about. If you aren't sincere, your posts aren't going to have any of what people actually want to read. Nobody wants to read about how you "enjoyed" something if you don't actually sounds like you enjoyed it!

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    1. Jessica,

      Great idea about using the planner! Yes, passion...I LOVE passionate bloggers! ;-)

      ~Sarah

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  2. Hi Sarah, I really enjoyed this post and I can relate to everything you mentioned.....Can I ask you how you sign up for Blog Her? I currently have Google Ads on my blog but I want to add a little more advertising. Christine from Little Brags

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    Replies
    1. Hi Christine,

      Great question! If you go to their site you can fill out an application. It was over a year ago when I did it, at the time it took a few months to hear back. Once they accept and approve your blog they send you everything you need to get set up. I hope that helps!

      ~Sarah

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  3. This is great to see. I am a new blogger and feel like my world is crashing in because I am trying to be consistent and build up a good inventory of posts. I think that the holidays will call for a scale back to 2-3 times a week rather than 4-5. Thanks for the encouragement. Stephanie from Managing a Home

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    Replies
    1. Stephanie,

      Consistency is good but going at a pace that is right for you is better. You don't want to burn out so going at a consistent pace that works for you will make blogging that much more rewarding! :-)

      ~Sarah

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Thank you for commenting, I read every single one. Because spam is so prevalent I moderate all comments. I also will delete any that are inappropriate or hurtful. All other comments will be approved and published in between me chasing around my five little tornadoes! For any specific questions feel free to email me at aninvitinghome@gmail.com. Thanks for reading and following along!

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