I’ve been blogging for 7+ years now, which is a pretty long-running habit in my book. For years I’ve followed the advice never to blog about blogging – how boring! But lately, my real life family and friends have been asking a lot of how and why questions. They often ask somewhat hesitantly, because if you don’t blog it seems like a mysterious sort of occupation that somehow pops up on the internet. I wanted to answer some of those questions here in a written post to give you a peek behind the curtain of how this blog works for me and my family (and for you as a reader, too!).
I have always been a curious sort, and I have a feeling some of you might be too. So, this post is my attempt at transparency and an exercise to get all of these words floating around in my head out and into black and white. If you have more questions feel free to ask away in the comments.
(If reading about blogging seems incredibly dull, please feel free to skip this post. The normal line-up of style, book and simplicity posts are in the works.)
Q: Why did you start a blog?
I discovered blogs the year after we got married in 2007. A lot of women who have wildly popular blogs now (and books, TV shows, and many other gigs) were newbie bloggers winging it into this new territory of the internet by sheer force of will. It was fascinating to follow along with – especially as a young woman in my twenties. I could connect with women’s stories even though we lived far apart.
After about a year and a half, I decided to try it for myself. I created a free blog on Blogspot and wrote about a myriad of things – recipes, weekend adventures, and Pinterest-esque posts of favorite things (since this was before Pinterest launched, can you imagine?!). While it was a nice creative outlet while my husband was working long hours, I made absolutely no money and had maybe 35 readers. Eventually, after my first daughter was born, I hit pause on blogging.
When my daughter was six months old, a college friend, Hayley Morgan, asked if I would want to work on her internet startup, The Influence Network, with a team of women. I said yes, and for the next two and a half years I was the content director of a quickly growing network of Christian women. It was so fun and interesting to have a job at home – running their blog, social media, an e-magazine, and newsletter. I learned a ton from the team and through trial and error. Truthfully, it was also crazy trying to work and meet deadlines with first one, and then quickly two small babies in my arms.
At the same time in 2012, I decided to start up this blog again as a way to connect with women. I had fresh vision of sharing a message – about hopeful mothering and womanhood, not just random posts. Suddenly through the Influence Network, I had lots of new readers who weren’t just strangers, but became friendly faces who I could connect with on social media and in the comments. It made blogging so much more fun and engaging when I could begin to picture faces on the other side of the screen.
Q: Why do you blog now?
Well, hopeful mothering is not what I blog about now. As my kids have gotten older, I have gradually become more protective of their privacy and stories that aren’t mine to tell. Also, the vast majority of this season of my life is spent mothering. So the blog has become a creative outlet to stretch my style and writing muscles, since I don’t have colleagues or a professional occupation. I was telling my dad this past weekend that if parenting is like a marathon, where the rewards are way off in the distance, then blogging is like a sprint. I have the ability to finish a post, put a bow on top, and see a short term reward. I’m built as a finisher. I love and crave the finish line. So it’s nice to have that satisfaction, when it is often lacking in my world of potty training, sleep training, and teaching kindness and manners.
The blog has also become a source of income for our family. It’s not a ton, but it is enough to give me spending money for gifts and little extras throughout the year. Zach and I chose for me to take a break from teaching to stay home with our kids. The cost of day care alone for three kids would have wiped out almost any teaching income I could have earned. It was a priority decision for our family as well, even though it isn’t always easy or as dreamy as I imagined before having kids. I’m grateful. But our budget is super tight and blogging adds in a little extra flexibility for things we couldn’t afford otherwise.
Q: How many people read this blog?
I’ve kept track of my analytics for maybe three months of the whole 7 years of blogging. I know all blogging advice says to track your growth, know your following, use that to promote yourself. For one year, I even had business cards for my blog. I think I handed out one card, and I don’t check numbers anymore.
Over time, I realized that blogging wasn’t something I wanted to turn into a full time job. Someday I will return to teaching, and I’m looking forward to that. For now, I’m truly grateful for the gift of a small blog. I love the long-time readers and commenters I’ve gotten to know over the years. I look forward to hearing what they have to say and having the margin to respond and dialogue about life. I’m also grateful for the freedom to turn my computer off for a month or to quit Twitter and not worry about it at all.
Q: How do you earn money from a blog?
My family has been incredulous that I can make money from this, so let me explain. The main way I earn money is through affiliate links, which are just like normal links… BUT if you click or buy something through my site and links, I can earn a small percentage of the sale. Here’s an example: If you click my link for a book I’ve been reading, Dinner: A Love Story and buy it on Amazon, I make 6% of the sale or about a dollar. It doesn’t affect the cost for you at all. This is why gift guides are a big deal for so many blogs.
So as a reader you can support the blogs you love, by using the links on their site, so they will earn a percentage on anything you buy. (It could be a buying a lawn mower, not just the cute towels they posted about.) Please do! Slowly, these small amounts can add up.
I also wrote a Kindle book called, I Like People Too: A Field Guide for Introverts, about 3 years ago. At the time people were making part-time incomes solely from a successful ebook. But this is where the small blog can be a hindrance. The book never really sold super well, even though it took many hours of work. Now ebooks aren’t a huge trend anymore. It’s still for sale on Amazon though, if you’d love some practical strategies and encouragement as a fellow introvert.
So, this brings up the benefit of having multiple revenue streams. You can’t put all your eggs in one basket because the internet changes so rapidly. My third way of earning money is through referral credits. Two years ago, I got lucky with the timing of an Everlane review post. A lot of traffic comes to my blog from Google searches about Everlane, and every time one of those people purchase something I earn $25 of Everlane credit. This has added up more than I ever imagined when I wrote that post, and my family wears a lot of Everlane these days.
I also use referral links for ThredUP and Ebates, and this year, I bought all our winter coats with credits earned. If you have shopped through my blog, I just want to say a genuine and humble thank you for helping me to support my family.
I do want to make really clear that I only link to products we actually own and love and sites that I have tried, used, and would highly recommend. Not everyone does this, but for me, “tried & true” is a big part of why I write the posts I do.
Q: What about gifted goods?
Any time an item has been a gift, I’ll mark it with (c/o) on my blog. I don’t have a lot of these items (re: small blog), but I have been fortunate enough to get to pick out a gorgeous Hailu wallet from FashionABLE to share on the blog. I love it and use it every day and bought one with my own money to give my mom.
Everlane let me pick out two pieces this past fall – the Modern Loafers, which have broken in beautifully and are my favorite flats in my closet and a cotton poplin dress. I asked for it in black, but they sent white… so I tried to write a good post for them, but I’ve since sold the dress on ThredUP, because there’s just no way I can justify a white dress in my closet.
Lastly, I got to pick out some new pieces from Grana so that I can write a review, and you’ll see that coming out this month. I was a little nervous about this, because I’m picky about what gets into my closet. But I got to hand select each piece, and when they arrived it was a big relief that I totally like everything except one piece due to sizing. I shared a few peeks on Instagram, but the whole post is going to be great. Other than that I turn down (a lot) of gifted goods, because I love simplicity, not free stuff. I only want to share about things I would genuinely recommend to a good friend
Q: How do you create blog posts?
A typical blog post gets touched 4-5 times before I post it, and that can span a couple weeks. Usually I start with a post idea, work on the photos, add in the copy, and then the links. Then I go back and edit everything, which is one of the reasons I prefer blogging to social media. I love the general length of posts and the ability to express myself with editing. So, it does take a lot of time, and then once it’s posted I try to share it on Instagram and Pinterest.
Since I have three kids at home with me (4,3, and 1) I usually write during their naps for an hour or when grandparents are in town every once and awhile, and I have a morning to myself. Somehow my kids go nuts when I have a computer open, so I rarely blog when they are awake.
Q: Where do you get post ideas?
Over the past year, I’ve narrowed this blog down to a few types of posts – outfits + style, book recommendations, simplicity inspiration, go-to recipes, and holiday gift guides. It has been SO helpful to stop feeling like I had to post about everything in life. There’s so much that happens or that I’m thinking about outside of this blog. Now I feel comfortable with this space being just a snippet of my life. That’s ok.
In general, I get post ideas from conversations with girlfriends and from the things I search for but can’t find online. This blog really is like a mini coffee date, except I’m not telling you about all the nitty gritty of my kids’ lives too.
Q: What about social media?
Again, I probably differ from a lot of bloggers about this, but social media can totally stress me out. I’ve chosen not to chase after it, and if fewer people see my blog because of it, I’m ok with that. So, I quit Twitter and Facebook quite awhile ago, and don’t miss them at all. I’ve always liked Pinterest as a visual gathering place for ideas, so I still post to there but I try not to scroll as much now that their algorithms have changed. Instagram is still a struggle at times. I don’t follow many people because I get overwhelmed with having to “keep up” with everyone’s commenting and liking. I try to let go of how many people are following or liking my posts.
Something new this year, is that I’ve decided to keep my kids mostly off of my social media posts. This has helped my sanity, since I have a lot of people I don’t know following me. It has also made Instagram feel a little more like a tool for a job rather than a big social scene where I’m never doing enough. I am working to just get on and post something, and close the app.
Q: How much does running a blog cost?
While there are sites for free blogs (like Blogspot), a few years ago I switched over to a self-hosted WordPress site. The fees include $150/year for hosting, $10/year for a domain name, $40 one-time-fee for a site template. So blogging does take a significant investment of time and money.
Well, that was a super lengthy post!! I’m curious what you guys think of the peek behind the curtain? If you have more questions feel free to ask in the comments, and I’ll do my best to answer. Thank you again for reading and following along with my blog. I’m grateful for the time you spend here.
with love, Lindsey