In January of 2012, I started a blog. I did it on a whim…I had no grand plans other than I thought it could be a great way to stay in touch with out-of-town family and friends, but then all of that changed….
Here’s my story and a little bit about how to start a blog:
I was a new mommy simply trying to find my footing. I had retired from the elementary classroom to become a full-time mama and though I was head over heels in love with my new little guy, the transition from classroom to home was a huge change for me.
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As a first-time mom looking for something to do during those middle-of-the-night feedings, I started readings blogs, and as I did, I began to discover an incredible on-line community that I never knew existed! What? At 2am, I could be encouraged, inspired, challenged, and empowered by so many other women who had walked through my experiences as a new mom? It was amazing to me, and I quickly fell in love!
It was January of 2012 when I made a trip out-of-town to my parent’s house. Baby boy and I had ventured there to spend a few days with the grandparents. While up late one evening, I decided to start a [Google Blogger] blog of my own – I named it All Kinds of Things. It was literally a spur of the moment decision that came out of nowhere. I wasn’t planning to do anything fancy. I would simply document my days with our new addition so that out-of-town friends and family – mainly the grandparents – could follow along as they wished. I was excited to keep in touch that way, so I got started. I began sharing details from our day-to-day, snapshots of our life, you get the idea. I never planned on becoming a real blogger.
As I continued to write and share, I realized that the grandparents weren’t really following along with the blog as I had hoped, but friends and friends-of-friends were starting to take note and pay attention to my posts via social media. In addition, I began to connect with other bloggers and found myself interested in taking my blog to the next level. Instead of simply journaling our day-to-day, I soon began to realize that I could take my love of writing, photography, and teaching and throw them all together to create my own little corner of the Internet! As my passion for creating grew, so did my blog!
I quickly realized that I needed some guidance, so I reached out to Ashley at The Vanilla Tulip and spent some time learning from her. This mentor relationship was a game changer for me! I learned so much from Ashley, and I will be forever grateful for the way she invested in me.
Ashley challenged me to continuing connecting with other bloggers and to become more active on social media. At the time, these two things made all the difference in my taking my blog to the next level!
I would love to have you follow along with me in your favorite space!
As my blog continued to grow, I started to shift my focus a bit. I began opening up about some topics that were especially close to my heart. Some of these issues were somewhat controversial, but my willingness to share my thoughts on these topics resulted in a handful of my posts going viral. As this began to happen, I took a closer look at my blogging space and consider.
- What exactly are my blogging goals?
- What do I want my overall message to be?
- Do I need to make any changes to my space in order to accomplish what I have in mind?
My answers to these questions:
- What exactly are my blogging goals? To produce quality work that will encourage and inspire other moms. The areas where I wanted to focus?
- Learning at Home
- Cooking at Home
- Organizing at Home
- $aving at Home
- What do I want my overall message to be? To be a reflection of the Gospel and a testimony of how God desires to work in each family’s individual story.
- Do I need to make any changes to my space in order to accomplish what I have in mind? Yes! I need to focus more on quality [over quantity] content, and while I’m at it, my images need some work!
Once again, I turned to a fellow blogger for guidance! Have you “met” Abby from Just a Girl and Her Blog? She (and her hubby) are amazing, and their Blogging Handbook: Building a Framework was exactly what I needed for a fresh start in my online space! They no longer offer this specific product, but they do continue to offer guidance to those seeking to produce quality content while also attempting to tackle all that goes along with the technical side of blogging.
What happened next?
Well, the first thing I did was create a new WordPress* blog. I completely re-branded and started from scratch in a new space. I know that many will move their blog from Blogger from WordPress, but I decided to do things a little differently. *Wordpress.org – not WordPress.com – I wanted a clean slate and doing things this way allowed me to do that!
In an effort to respect all of the hard work that Abby and Donnie have put in to their products and training courses, I will not explain each detail of the guidance they offer as far as getting started, but I will tell you that reaching out to the experts was the best thing I could have ever done.
Psst…If you’re curious about my theme, it’s from Restored 316 Designs! Their themes are gorgeous, and I have been more than pleased with the quality of Lauren’s design!
Restored keeps my space looking beautiful, and they can do the same for the space you’re dreaming of creating.
The second thing I did was begin focusing more on my images! For the past several months, I had been using my Nikon D3300, but I had only been working with my kit lens….and when shooting blog images, I hadn’t been paying much attention to my lighting…and when uploading photos to my site, I hadn’t been taking the time to carefully edit images…this was definitely an area where I needed to focus my attention. So what did I do?
#1 – I purchased a PicMonkey subscription! For quite some time, I had been using the free version, but when it came time to edit my photos, purchasing the subscription (It’s super inexpensive!), provided me with so many more options! Canva, Photoshop, Adobe Lightroom – also great options that I love and now use often, but PicMonkey is where I started.
#2 – I purchased a couple of new lenses! New lenses – lenses specifically designed for the types I photos I like to take for my blog – resulted in better images…but it also meant that less editing was going to be required as the lenses were doing a lot of the work for me! Any editing that I do now happens in Lightroom, and it makes my life easy!
#3 – I began to use stock images! This was something I had avoided for a long time, but I have really liked the look of the stock images I have found on sites like Pexels! There have been times when they have come in handy.
My focus on quality images immediately began to pay off as I began to notice more Facebook shares…more pins on Pinterest…more connections on Instagram! While quality content is always #1, quality images come in at a close second – I am convinced of that, and I am so thankful for technology that helps to take the guesswork out of some of these things!
Quick Tip: I use the following image sizes:
- Blog Images: 680 x 1020
- Pinterest Images: 680 x 1020
- Facebook Images: 1200 x 600
Monetizing My Blog
As a full time mom, I am not in a season of life when I am able to commit full-time hours to my blogging space, but my hobby blog has become a source of income for our family, and there are a number of ways I earn income from this space.
Amazon’s Affiliate Program – Amazon’s affiliate program has been perfect for sharing books, teaching materials, learning resources, gifts ideas, and more with my readers! I share these links in blog posts as well as on social media!
Share-a-Sale – Share-a-Sale has made it possible for me to partner with companies some of my favorite companies! Once again, I share my affiliate links in blog posts as well as on social media!
Google Ad Sense – There are other great ad networks out there, but for now, I am continuing to partner with Google.
I am also an affiliate for various resources that other bloggers in my niche have created. I work with them to promote their products and receive a portion of each sale made through my personalized affiliate links.
Sponsored Post Companies
Other Advertising Opportunities
I have sponsors that purchase monthly ad space from me – I like to make sure the featured product(s) are a good fit for my readers, and I work with each sponsor individually to design an ad, etc.
I also enjoy working with small business owners as well as large companies to create sponsored posts, social media promotions, etc. for their products. I interact with them on a personal level to create customized promotions that fit their advertising needs.
Once again, I trusted Abby and Donnie Lawson to guide me through the creation and launch of my first product, and every product since! Their guidance has made it possible for me to focus less on sponsored posts, etc. and more on creating and selling my own products!
Their Book Boss Course included everything I needed to get started creating awesome products, and if you are interested in venturing in to the world of e-book creation, you are definitely going to want to check out their training offerings. I especially appreciate the practical tips they provide for how to grow your e-mail list – something I waited too long to start doing. Their training program: Browser to Buyer has been designed to help bloggers set up systems for how to encourage their readers and followers to purchase their amazing products.
These resources of theirs have been game-changers for me!
You may be wondering how I am able to do all of this while being at home full-time with four little ones!
My family responsibilities are number one and I blog when I’m able.
I have a hubby I’m dating.
I have kiddos I’m homeschooling.
I have a household I’m managing.
So…how does it all work?
#1 – I blog about things that I am already doing – recipes that I’m already making, homeschooling ideas that I’m already implementing, organizational tips that are already working for me in my home, etc.
#2 – Blogging is something I enjoy doing, so when hubby is working late…when all four kiddos are sleeping (yes, that actually happens…sometimes), I blog.
Most mamas will tell you that managing the day-to-day of a household takes up most of any available time they might have when kiddos are sleeping, so I do my best to make sure the most important home tasks are attended to before I sit down to create.
For me this means that I am unable to blog everyday, but as life allows, I create: writing posts, editing images, etc. Oftentimes, as posts come together, I post-date them which allows me to have content “going-live” on days when I’m especially busy or during weeks when we’re out-of-town or throughout the holidays when I know my focus will be elsewhere.
#3 – Around the time I retired All Kinds of Things and created This Little Home of Mine, I began using social media schedulers. These schedulers have allowed me to stay active on social media without actually having to BE on social media throughout the day! My only regret? Not using them sooner!
My Advice to Bloggers Seeking to Grow Their Space:
There are so many great opportunities out there – invitations to guest post; affiliate programs to join; social media groups to be a part of; link-ups/share groups to participate in; articles to read about sponsored posts, new money-making strategies, and on and on and on and on it goes. It is so easy to get caught up in all of those things, and I don’t know about you, but I absolutely can not keep up with all of that information AND keep dinner on the table…laundry put away…school lessons taught…etc. It would simply be impossible.
I have found that it’s easier for me to focus on one thing at a time: Improving my photography, for example. (I continue to be a work in progress on that point!) Strive to consistently improve your craft without joining in the comparison game. Growing a successful blog takes time, and there will always be someone else further along in the process.
As you set goals for your space, it is important to be realistic about your time and current life season. Simply be you. Share your heart. Your audience will respect you and love you for the way you creatively share your story in an honest and authentic way. There is freedom in telling your story…from your perspective…in a way that will speak to your readers. Learn and grow along the way, but always stay true to who you are and the reasons why you believe your story matters! I promise you, your story DOES matter, and no one can share it like you can.
Quick Tip: In my experience, it is better to spend a week creating a well-thought out post that includes high quality content and large, bright images than to crank out daily posts that fail to capture the attention of your audience. High quality content gets shared…large, bright photos get pinned…this results in more visitors to your site!
When I first created my new site, I spent a lot of time creating my original homeschooling posts, and all of the time and energy has paid off – At pretty much any time of the day or night you will find visitors on those posts! Why? I believe it’s because I took the time to include A LOT of information and made the effort to include lots of clear images – images that have gone viral on Pinterest! (Thank you, new lenses!) And yes, all of this results in more traffic…more affiliate sales…you get the idea. I know I said this would be a quick tip, so I’ll stop there!
When I think about my favorites blogs, they are not the ones that solely focus on one specific topic. They are the ones that pull from all different areas of life – faith, marriage, motherhood, friendship, homemaking, frugality, etc.
I would love to think that somewhere out there is a new mommy up with her newborn for the 15th time – feeling encouraged by something she is reading in this space. It would be my honor to think that there is a discouraged friend being refueled with hope as a result of visiting this site. I would be thrilled to know that there is tired and frustrated sister who has spotted an idea on This Little Home of Mine that may help make her days at home feel just a tad smoother. These are the reasons I write.
In a way, this space is my way of saying Thank you! to the countless others in the world of blogging who have encouraged me on the days when I needed it most. While I am excited to see continued growth, I pray that I will never lose my heart to connect with readers and minister to their souls. This Little Home of Mine…I want to let it shine.
*This post will continue to be a work in progress as I plan to keep it updated with the most up-to-date information! If there’s something missing from this post, please let me know! I want to do everything I can to encourage you as seek to have your own voice in the blogging community!*
Disclaimer: The tips, resources, and opinions shared in this post are based on my personal blogging experience. You may find that you agree with me on some things but not others. That’s okay! Find what works for you and your space! Feel free to grab the ideas that you like and leave the rest behind for someone else. No matter what, I’m so glad you stopped by today!
My blog posts contain affiliate links. This means that if you purchase items I recommend, I may receive a commission from your purchase. Thank you for supporting This Little Home of Mine! For a complete explanation of my policies and disclosures click here.