I can’t believe all the lessons learned from two years of blogging. This time has flown by. Wasn’t it yesterday that Ish Mom was a gleam in my eye, then a loud intruder that kept me up nights and dominated all my thoughts? Now she’s toddling on fat little legs, demanding autonomy and attention, getting in messes, and reaching milestones.
It’s been an extremely eventful two years, uncomfortable and joyful, often simultaneously. My actual children grew in leaps and bounds. Tiny A joined the family. And my husband and I launched our digital marketing company, Always Relevant Digital. Five months later, Josh lost his 9-5 gig.
I’ve learned so much in these two years of blogging, mothering, and small businessing. In this article, I’ll detail my biggest takeaways. I’ve tried to organize them, somewhat, into categories. Some of my knowledge is practical tips, some, just hunches. I’ve included what I still need to work on, too. And I drop my best advice at the end.
Practical Lessons Learned From Two Years of Blogging
Social Media Isn’t My Friend
Social media is a great place to stay in touch with loved ones, see cool memes, and foster relationships. But, as a business, social media isn’t my friend.
Social media platforms are their own business. They’re not so interested in promoting my business as they are in marketing ads to me and making me a customer. They’d much rather I’d pay them, invest in them, and market my business through them.
Nah. That’s just 21st century feudalism. Facebook and Instagram aren’t my land. It’s Zuckerburg’s. Yet I’m tilling his soil by buying ads or reach or likes. I’d rather work my own land, my own website. I spend time making my site more professional and user friendly, with faster speeds and increased domain ratings.
Ever heard the house always wins? I make sure my website is the house, holding most of the cards, hosting most of the transactions.
Get Comfortable Screaming Into The Void
Not giving up when it feels like no one is listening (cuz they’re not, and they probably only will intermittently, and one day it will stop, but that’s a conversation for another time) is way more than half of the battle.
Keep your head down and your hands on the keyboard. Likes and such are just vanity metrics; a lack of them isn’t discouraging.
Blogging is a long game and must be played accordingly.
Post consistently. Keep working on your own site. Slowly but surely (emphasis on slowly), the numbers start ticking up.
Blogging Is Its Own Discipline
Blogging involves many steps that “regular writing” doesn’t, especially in terms of engagement and self promotion. Blog writing, in and of itself, is its own beast.
Blog writing is more conversational, the paragraphs are shorter, and the information more digestible. Complicated information should be presented in more concise ways than say, a non-fiction book.
To succeed at blogging, study other blogs. Learn the ways and rhythm of blog writing.
Blogging is a lot of work. Creating a blog post is a weekly cycle of research, (maybe) interviewing, writing, keyword research, creating images, editing, little one-off jobs like alt text for images, publication, and promotion.
Most Things Are Negotiable
In the beginning, I got a lot of spammy offers in my inbox. Pay hundreds of dollars for engagement courses, join pointless follow loops, or become an “ambassador” for a clothing company after buying a bunch of shoddy graphic tees. You know, stuff like that.
Then the offers were slightly better. They weren’t spammy, but still offered low ROI (return on investment).
These days, I still get the spammy offers (they send that spam to any email they can find online), but I also get the better offers. I know how to haggle and I know my worth. By focusing on SEO to grow Ish Mom to thousands and thousands of readers each month, the site provides real value to partnerships and collaborations.
Diversify Revenue Streams
It’d be great to live solely off my writing, but that ain’t the world I’m living in. There are many ways to make money blogging. And none of them are ways to get rich quick.
Have you noticed the ads? If so, thank you for not using an adblocker. Each individual ad doesn’t pay much but added together for a month, it’s something. Right now, a month of ad revenue more than pays for a year of web hosting.
When Ish Mom started, we only used AdSense ads. With little traffic, I was happy when I earned $5 through the ads. But as site traffic grew, so did ad income. This year I was able to upgrade to a premium ad service that instantly doubled the site’s ad revenue.
Also, have you noticed my Amazon affiliate disclaimer at the bottom of every page? Becoming an affiliate is another revenue stream. Not a large one because I don’t write a ton of product reviews. How boring would that be?
Going forward, I’d like to expand to selling products. What does that look like? I have no idea.
Some Hunches Gleaned From Two Years of Blogging
Use All The Media
Being on camera isn’t natural to me. Conveying my feelings and thoughts in text, though, that feels…right.
But just as writing is more comfortable for me, there are visual learners and communicators who like video. Therefore, it’s important to explore multimedia by including videos with posts, utilizing Instagram TV, transcribing presentations, etc.
To combat my discomfort, I started posting short Quote of the Day videos in my Stories. I haven’t kept it up with the quotes, but I am much more comfortable on camera now.
The Podcast Bubble Is Gonna Burst
If it hasn’t already.
Unless you want to become a Podcaster (as in, that’s your main thing), I don’t see much value in starting a podcast just to have a podcast. Look at the view count of some of these podcasts. Are you really going to spend hours a week researching, recording, and doing post-production only to have your parents and a few dozen people listen to you?
You and your friends aren’t as funny or clever as you think you are. Sorry.
Anybody Can Call Themselves a Coach
And anybody does. I can’t swing a cat without hitting an empath or a coach.
Look, I’m not saying that coaching doesn’t bring real value to people or that all coaches are illegitimate. What I am saying is that the coaching industry seems wildly saturated, and I just don’t believe that many personal development experts exist.
At some point, Ish Mom will require coaching. But I won’t be hiring the coach with the most post likes, a slick YouTube video, or the one with the most cliche website images (you know the ones, mountainscapes with inspirational platitudes). I’ll be asking for degrees, certifications, and charts that prove concrete client gains.
Areas Needing Improvement After Two Years of Blogging
Social Media, Frenemy
Now, even though social media isn’t my friend, it’s not my enemy either. It’s a vague acquaintance that introduces me to my real friends. And fostering these relationships is important.
I don’t want to post just to post. At least, not on my feed (that’s what Stories are for). I’d like my social media posts to be mini-blogs, almost. Ones that serve the same purpose as Ish Mom articles: to entertain or inform.
To do that, I have to consciously plan my feed and be more present with my audience.
Not Being Such A Content Hog
I want all the best content for myself when I should be sending some of it out. Publishing on other sites increases exposure, fosters relationships, and creates powerful backlinks.
I’ll think of this great idea to pitch and promptly fall in love with it. I need to push myself to spread my writing around. It would be great to be featured on Scary Mommy this quarter.
It’s not that I don’t try to pitch myself to brands, but I have a bad habit of waxing poetic. The email handlers are not particularly interested in reading my novel about why and how much I love their products. I need to work on sending a more condensed pitch, in a more business-y way.
The best piece of advice I can leave for aspiring bloggers is: just start. Even if you’re not exactly sure what your niche, website layout, services, and messages are. Try not to get caught up in small, crippling details. Don’t become overwhelmed by font types and blog names.
Getting bogged down in those decisions is like shooting yourself in the foot while wondering what shoes you should wear.
We all start from zero and have to build authority. And the best time to start building your authority is today.
I promise the details will fall into place.