It has been exactly 2 years now since I hit publish on my Relentless at Heart blog! I’m feeling a bit nostalgic and giddy at the milestone. The 2 candle picture…from my daughter’s 2nd birthday recently…I just felt like it was fitting as most all of my inspiration for this blog has come from being her momma!
So let’s get to it…I have not always been the best with sticking to things that don’t work how I picture them right away. I started the blog when my little one was about 6 months old and I was working full time. I wanted to find a way to be at home with her and if I could monetize this blog, I thought I could do that. I can attest God had plans that were in ways linked to this dream. Through some crazy turmoil, I’ve now been blessed with the opportunity to stay at home with my little girl while still contributing by working at the same lovely company part time. I go in the 2 days my wonderful husband is off work so she is always with mommy and daddy! In no way am I discrediting day care or child care but we just couldn’t find a situation that worked for us so this is bliss!
Warning – this is a words heavy blog post! If you don’t want to learn about blogging and/or me and my journey, let me stop you here as I don’t want to bore you! But I from time to time like to read about people’s lives and journeys in blogging and in life so this is my spillage of that! I’ve always said I’m here on this blog to be transparent and I will say…blogging hasn’t gone just like I pictured it but it has been a glorious experience that has taught me tons of lessons and opened up new ideas to me. I also always wanted to have my own magazine as a kid growing up so blogging is essentially like creating all your own content for the world to see on my terms. I do not think I’m a pro blogger by any stretch of the imagination but I’m a little proud of a few accomplishments since I’ve been blogging and I am excited to share with you too today! I look back on my first posts and I really see how far I’ve come in content production, photography and just idea generation. The thousands of amazing bloggers out there challenge me daily to try to be better and create WOW factor blog posts! It is fun to have that community to encourage and challenge my craft.
I am putting this all out here not to just fill a blog post or brag (because there isn’t much to brag about) or to bore my readers. I’m putting this out there to be open and honest and maybe inspire another person who is considering a launch of their own blog soon! So I feel like things flow and aren’t all over the place…I’m going to divide this 2 Year Blogiversary: How I’ve Grown post into a couple sections. (1) Lessons I’ve Learned (2) Proud Moments and How they shaped my blog! (3) Divine Discoveries (4) What I still want to grow!
Lessons I’ve Learned
These are the five main lessons I’ve learned since I started blogging in random order…
Don’t rush content, make it shine!
There are varying theories out there and I think it all depends on YOU and your time. I started this journey as a full time working momma but now that I’m home more…well anyone with kids knows naptimes are prime time to get things done. But when naps don’t last long and you have housework and such to do also…blogging can take a back burner. Plus I always wanted my posts to be intentional and packed full of content people wanted to visit my page for…not just me throwing something up to get a post out there. I’ve heard of people trying to post 3 times a week to keep in front of people but for me…not possible! For me, I felt like if people see something they want to see on my social media feeds, they will visit….whether it has been a week since the last time I posted or a couple weeks. I try to be inspired and stay true to my “mom/DIY” blogging theme and post content when I have a fun idea or project to share.
Embrace the community
Oh my gosh…the majority of bloggers I have reached out to when I began were so gracious and truly helped me learn and grow early on! Don’t be shy!! If people don’t have time to answer your emails, they won’t. What does it hurt to try and drop a line to someone. But have specific questions to be mindful of their time…don’t just ask for advice period.
My favorite post showing the power of community in blogging was a post I did February 2016. I reached out to some mom bloggers much larger than I just hoping they might respond! And they did! I was trying to create a fun “feel the love for momma” type post with advice from other moms. I am/was a new mom and had some advice but these momma’s had more kids and older kids so they had a wealth of helpful tips and tricks to stay sane as a momma and how to make time for yourself. Click HERE to read it! I love these women!
Make those pictures SHINE! It’s why people stay to read!!
I got great advice from one of my attempts reaching out to a big blogger early on about advice on my content and blogging style. She was complimentary about my style and content and she wasn’t insulting about my photography but did suggest I try to get even brighter and more crisp photographs. I needed to hear it! She said to use tripods to really help let all the light in you can without the shake of a camera which causes the blur. Or if you want to minimize blur, the faster shutter speed can lend to less bright pictures. I’ve strived to really work on that since I do love photography and it is something I want to grow at. PLUS I know when I go to a post, I drool over the pictures of people’s food or DIY projects or home décor more than what they write about it! Pictures are what capture people…pun intended!
I’m also not afraid to admit I use my IPHONE camera for some of my photos – especially with my mom posts about activities or ideas with my little one. It is handy and I don’t have to plan and think about each shot and lighting. It does the hard work for me. But overall, I love my DSLR better for those good quality big picture and really detailed shots.
Be patient and don’t give up too quickly.
I tend to be the person that will give up way to easily if it doesn’t work out right away. I often think…if it doesn’t work at first, it must not be catching on OR people don’t like it so I might as well stop. But I’ve learned with blogging that it might just take that one idea to set things into motion. Or it might just take trial and error to see what strikes people one way or another. Keep putting content out there and you never know what people will be excited about and pass along. I’ll share more on this later but I have one post that has BLOWN up compared to my others with 10,000+ Pins on Pinterest. So you just never know!
Take it from me – the give up queen…don’t give up! You might even publish a post and for months it won’t get much traffic and then all of a sudden it is getting hundreds of views a day. As Dory says in Finding Nemo…”just keep swimming, swimming, swimming.”
Utilize Social Media!
I was never the biggest fan of social media before I began blogging and I still don’t think of it as the end all be all of human socialization. I don’t think that it should be our crutch communication line but for blogging sake and getting content in front of people…well it is kind of necessary. It is essentially free advertising and marketing if you can crack the codes of each beast. If you look at any of my social media outlets, you will see I don’t have thousands of followers yet and I’ve found it hard to get a steady stream. I will keep pressing on to figure out each outlet but I think the more you put out there and use the right wording or hashtags…the more likely you are to get in front of people. It’s as easy as that! The only reason my one post that has 10,000+ views is because of the traffic and coding Pinterest can drive to websites. So although I don’t have any overwhelming tips or advice on HOW to use social media…all I can say is just USE it period and the rest will come.
Proud moments…and how they shaped my blog!
I can’t stand people who think too highly of themselves so please don’t take this section as that. I still am very insecure about my blogging portfolio but I feel like there have been a few things I’ve done better at than others and I want to share to give others hope, ideas, and encouragement.
Home Depot DIY Challenge
Ever since my husband discovered the Home Depot’s Apron blog a couple years ago (since he works at Home Depot), I’ve been hooked on their content. I found an article about how their current editor, Whitney Curtis, went out on a limb to get that editor position by reaching out to someone at the blog and showing what she had to offer. I mean, I’m sure there is a lot more to it than that…but I thought if she did that and it worked for her, why not try that myself with her. I figured she’d respect the moxy and long story short…it did! It wasn’t immediate but after various email conversations and my persistence in staying in front of her from time to time just dropping a line, there was an opening in one of their DIY Challenges and I was in! This was my monetization of the blog and my chance to be on a bigger screen with a bigger audience and I knew I had to crush it!
Click HERE to see my concrete DIY project on their blog for the full DIY and then if you’d like the styling ideas for the tiered concrete stand…click HERE to see my follow up post. I now have a relationship with Home Depot for future opportunities and it got me experience in working with corporate blogs. I like to think and hope it drove some more traffic towards my blog and built a bigger community reach with some of the other women that were also featured. So moral of the story…don’t be afraid to reach out and ask for what you want!!
Tested and Approved Activities for a 1 year old
This is the post I mentioned earlier…the one that has blown up compared to my other posts. Basically, I myself, as a mom of a 1 year old could not find a good blog post out there for activities to do with 1 year olds. Not 9 month olds, not 18 month olds, but that sweet spot of about 11-15 months old. So I decided to try things out with my little girl in this age range and create a blog post to document and share. Let’s just say, there is power in creating new content that isn’t out there yet on Pinterest…or not out there as much. It took months for it to really catch on but after it did, it was hundreds and then thousands of pins.
It has been a little over a year since I published this post and when I checked recently it had 10,000+ pins and it gets on average 200 views a day. I am humbled and blown away at the love this post has received and just thrilled parents are finding it useful! Moral of this story…search on Pinterest or Google new ideas you have for a post to see how popular or not popular it may be. You don’t want to spend a ton of time in an already over saturated subject area. Check out this post HERE! And a side benefit of still only one post getting a ton of traffic, it gets people to your blog and they browse around more. It is fun to see!
This fun feature happened this January…it was flattering to be approached by someone at Arhaus to do a post on how to create cozy spaces in your home during winter. I love collaborating with companies I love because I always want to be honest and transparent in what I do. Check out this post HERE!
A Divine Discovery…after being on social media for about a year, I ran across the Michael’s Maker conference through someone I followed. They were talented enough to be asked to attend and during the conference Yao Cheng was there to teach a session on watercolor. I was captivated by her work and began following her on Instagram to keep up with her. I had never thought much about watercolor before, but I quickly discovered her super affordable class on Creative Bug’s site. I took the class was hooked! I mean I wasn’t 100% sure if I was going to be good but for some reason I was oddly confident that I could pull off some of what she was executing in her tutorials. And I don’t have much confidence in my artistic abilities so that was a unique feeling.
I began really practicing and more than anything, watercolor is super relaxing to do. It teaches me to be calm and fluid in my motions. And you can’t overthink or overwork watercolor or it starts to look…well not good! So for a control freak that wants to keep fixing or adding to something, this was almost therapeutic. I began to grow in my abilities and branch out in what I was trying to paint and about 6 months ago I started an Etsy shop for fabrics I made through Spoonflower on Etsy. It didn’t sell well so I readjusted and thought, maybe I’ll just sell prints I paint. There is less overhead and it’s a more affordable end result for customers. It has still been a slow start but I don’t feel like I ran across this by chance, I believe God knew my heart needed an outlet for my creativity that I was confident in and loved doing! Check my shop out – click HERE!
If I wouldn’t have begun blogging, I would not have been on social media and following other bloggers. I may have then never discovered this new love and dare I say…maybe talent.
And I’m wrapping it up people…sorry for the spillage of my blogging guts here! I hope you’ve enjoyed reading and maybe it inspired you to try the whole blogging journey out or if you are in the midst of it…keep it up! I don’t think I have a ton to teach people as I haven’t mastered it yet by any means.
But lastly, (4) What I still want to grow, oh where to start! I want to get my social media followings up…mainly on Instagram and Pinterest. Any tips please comment below or email me. I also want to work on my Etsy shop and monetizing it better for some side income! I also want to learn more about growing an email list – there is so much to it that I feel like can really get your readers and followers booming. Lastly, I want to better my content on the blog and really find my perfect niche! I want people to visit my blog with a purpose to find new exciting information.
I think that’s all she wrote folks! Thanks for sharing in this 2 years of blogging with me and I hope for 2 more great years and beyond! And I want to say a huge thanks to my sweet sweet husband for always supporting me on this journey! He has never stopped encouraging me or brainstorming with me on how to make things bigger and better on my blog! I wouldn’t still be doing all of this today without his love and support!