Way back in November, This Tiny Blue House turned 1. I’ve been meaning to write this post for ages but for some reason the words simply wouldn’t come.
In the last year I’ve taken this blog from a tiny wordpress hosted site to a profit generating frugal living blog. I’ve learned a lot, I’ve lost a ton of sleep and I’ve made countless friendships that I value beyond measure. It’s been one heck of a ride!
Blogging has truly been a blessing in my life. So, today I want to tell you fine folks about the 10 lessons blogging taught me over the last year.
10 Lessons Blogging Taught Me Over The Last Year
Anything is possible
I’d be lying if I told you that when I published my first post my goal was to turn this into a job. It wasn’t and at the time, I really had no idea that people generated an income from blogging. Some money, yes – an income: absolutely not. Anything is possible folks. In 12 short months, This Tiny Blue House generates a sizeable amount of our monthly take home income. I’m both grateful and shocked at how this all unraveled. More importantly, I feel incredibly blessed that I can help sustain my family financially by writing. It’s truly an amazing blessing in our lives.
If you write they will come
Building a readership is hard, hard work. Although my readership grew very quickly in the beginning it did taper off some around the sixth month mark. That’s when I realized that blogging had far more to do with marketing yourself (which I suck at) than simply writing. Since then, I’ve realized that readers will eventually come. It does take time but they do exist and will eventually find you. Simply keep on keeping on.
Blogging can easily eat up your entire life
Blogging is consuming. There, I said it. The nature of blogging means that I technically have access to my “work” 24 hours a day, 7 days a week. Work life balance is something that I continue to struggle with. I’ve lost sleep and worked through the night far more times than I’d like to admit. I continue to try and find a work life balance that keeps the blog running smoothly and my offline life peaceful and content. Some days I’m more successful than others but ultimately I’m getting better at stepping away. It’s all about baby steps folks.
Being successful is all about strategy
Being successful in the blogging world is all about strategy. It isn’t simply a question of writing random posts and hitting publish. Blogging involves anticipating the needs of your reader, crafting useful posts and marketing the heck out of them once they are published. In the beginning I spent more time writing than marketing. Today, I spend 90% of my time marketing and only 10% of my time on content creation. Being successful in the blogging world is all about making the best use of your time and getting your posts seen by as many eyes as possible.
People can suck even in the blog world
Although 99.9% of my interaction with readers, companies and other bloggers has been positive there have been instances where I’ve been disappointed. I’ve been lied to, taken advantage of and manipulated. Moral of the story is: fact check, be careful and always follow your gut. If something seems off – it probably is.
Consistency is key
Creating content consistently is the key to growing a readership, building an email list and making a name for yourself in the blog world. Whether your blog is for profit or not – readers and companies alike prefer to engage with a blog that is updated consistently and maintained by its owner. I struggle with being consistent (see below) from time to time and plan to stick to a 2-3 times per week publishing schedule moving forward. I’ve got a ton of really cool posts I’d love to share but lack of time is often a problem.
I’m a mom first, a blogger second
Balancing my home-life with a 2-year old and running this blog proves to be difficult sometimes. Although my little is in daycare on a part-time basis there have been times where she’s been sick, had appointments, needed extra snuggles and wanted my undivided attention. As much as I love the blog and all the people who take the time to come back here day after day – I’m a mom and mothering this little girl is my number one priority. With that in mind, the next time I disappear for a couple of weeks it’s likely because Margsy is sick or we’re busy doing fun mother daughter things. I’ll always be a mum first and a blogger second.
My most popular posts aren’t always my best posts
I’ve walked away at the end of the day disappointed that some of my best (or so I thought) posts weren’t as well received as others. Over the last year a number of my posts have gone viral and I’ve often been left wondering why. Sure, I put the same amount of thought and effort into each post but some are simply more passionate than others. Sadly, your best posts will not always be your most popular.
Going viral is both awesome and terrifying
Speaking of viral posts, did I tell you how insecure a viral post can make you feel? There’s this sudden rush of excitement when you see your site stats at 7am are higher than your total weekly traffic. Then suddenly, you realize that thousands of people are reading your words and you begin to second guess yourself and every single word you’ve written. Going viral is awesome but super scary at the same time.
Blogging is awesome.
Blogging is awesome. Sure, it’s exhausting and hard and time consuming but overall it’s an incredibly amazing opportunity. I love writing, interacting, and sharing my frugal ideas with you folks. The last 12 months have taught me that there are so many other super awesome frugal people and families out there and I’m beyond grateful to each and every one of you who takes the time to stop in here and share your ideas, life and struggles with me. Thank you for making this possible!
TTBH’s Most Popular Posts
Tips For New Bloggers
Go Self Hosted from the start
If you’re goal is to monetize your blog and grow it into a business I 100% believe that owning your own domain and being self-hosted gives you credibility. Self-hosting allows you to build your unique brand, create a custom look and feel for your site, and explore far more options to monetize.
I’m hosted with Bluehost and I am beyond satisfied both with their service and the cost. I’ve encountered outages over the last year and they’ve been extremely helpful at resolving any technical issues I might have had. Self-hosting via Bluehost is super easy with one-click wordpress installs and 24-hour technical support. I highly recommend them to anyone looking for a hosting provider.
If you’re looking for a how to guide about starting your very own blog here’s a complete guide to setting up a money making blog.
Focus on Pinterest
20-20 hindsight right? Way back when I first started This Tiny Blue House I had no idea how Pinterest even worked. Literally, zero. I’ve come a long, long way since then and after some hard work and the help of Tailwind, Pinterest is driving at least 60% of my monthly blog traffic. In a nutshell, focus on Pinterest from the get-go. Create multiple pinnable images for every one of your posts and get those pins out there via group boards and Tailwind Tribes. It does take time but it is so worth it in the long-run.
Relevant reading: The ugly truth about using Pinterest to grow your blog traffic
Write about what you love
If you don’t absolutely love what you are writing about then don’t write about it. Simple as that. If you’re planning to start a blog or already have a blog it’s vital that your “niche” is something you are passionate about. Why? You need to write about the topic over and over and over again. If you’re not 1000% in-love with your niche you’ll never maintain the drive needed to keep at this long-term. Sure, you can probably fake it until you make it but longevity will only come from genuine passion for the topic you are writing about.
Find your voice
Forget what other bloggers are doing okay? Write the way you want to write and go with that. Nothing sucks more than reading a blog that sounds exactly like a dozen others. What sets a good blog apart is one with an authentic voice. This doesn’t mean you need to be a phenomenal writer, storyteller or graphic design artist. This means you need to write in your own voice. Be yourself – it’s the only way to be successful.
Do as I say and not as I do alright? Find a schedule that works for you and stick to it. If you know you can manage once a week then stick with it. If you’re schedule looks like once per month that’s fine too. Whatever your writing goal is – make it realistic, attainable and something you can be consistent about. Don’t skimp on quality content to publish more posts either okay? Make sure that you’re publishing high quality consistent content and you’ll do insanely well. Plain and simple.
Growing a blog takes time. Growing it from the ground up involves far more than simply writing posts and hitting publish. Behind the scenes, bloggers are designing Pinterest pins, researching content ideas and planning and reorganizing editorial calendars. Behind the scenes they are scrutinizing their blog stats and crossing their fingers that their readership will increase. Well, I’m here to tell you that it will – but that it takes time. Employ marketing strategies to help your blog get noticed. Get on Pinterest, Facebook and twitter and interact with other bloggers. Most of all, be patient – growing a blog takes time.
Reach out to more experienced bloggers
If you’ve got a question reach out to a more experienced blogger. When I was first starting out I reached out to bloggers who had been blogging for years with questions about growing a readership and monetizing. Almost every email I sent received a thoughtful response. Experienced bloggers are generally awesome, kind and super helpful. More often than not they are more than willing to help so don’t be shy – reach out and ask your questions!