It’s that time again! I’m about to hit another milestone on my blog, with my 9th blogoversary coming up the first of February. It has been such an amazing journey and I think I say that every single year. I had absolutely NO idea that I would be blogging this long and that it would become my career and producer of income. God has truly blessed me beyond my wildest dreams with this gift, at my age in life and I am so so grateful, 9 years later to still be here.
I’m not sure what else I can add to last year’s 8 year blogging post, but I will try to do another recap of the year from my own blog perspective. If you’ve missed my previous 8 part series of my blog story, it’s a pretty good read and you might want to start with Part 1.
Blogging has continued to change and evolve and I think that will always be the case. One thing you can count on in blogging is change. Change will happen every single year. Some good and some bad. I try to focus on the good changes and not so much on the bad.
There is still a lot of pressure to keep up out there. I know everyone feels it to some degree and being a full-time blogger definitely has a layer of stress that can be real and tangible. I try to not live with stress and my goal is to sort of hide myself away from the hustle and fast-pace of blogging and just do my own thing. So far, that has worked for me. If I try to keep up with what everyone else is doing out there in blogland, it just makes me feel like I’m not doing enough, changing enough, coming up with new ideas enough, or overall just not “being” enough. And that’s not a great place to live. It definitely didn’t used to be that way in the “good ole’ days” of blogging. Those days are long gone and I can’t complain, because it has changed my life. But, with the good changes come some of the bad.
If I listened to all the experts, I would be writing e-books one after the other, or writing a real book, or coming up with real and tangible products to sell on my blog. I’ve done none of those for the most part and at times, I feel like I’m missing out by not jumping on some of these bandwagons. But, I just haven’t felt the need to branch out and do some of these extras, on top of keeping my blog going too. I feel very blessed to be in a good position with blogging for so long, that I really don’t feel the need to hustle more and more. Things are really great for now and why change a good thing, I say? I may change my mind down the road, but for now, blogging is still my main area of focus and what still gets me up in the morning with a passion and enthusiasm to share.
Social Media is Still a Hamster Wheel of Performance….and Instagram is the new Darling
Social media continues to be my nemesis. I really don’t want to spend my life on social media and have to constantly keep up with the latest and greatest. This past year, I saw a huge surge in Instagram (I’m SouthernRhoda over there) and that is now the darling Social Media tool that so many are using. I’ve seen Instagram users soar with popularity from posting only beautiful pictures of their homes and keeping their feeds “pretty” all the time so that they will attract more followers. There’s nothing wrong with that at all, but I’ve always been a bit of a rebel on following the crowds in blogging.
I don’t think I’ll ever have a huge Instagram following and that’s OK with me. I do not want to constantly be on my phone to keep up over there or all over social media. I enjoy the interaction of Instagram, but do not want it to take over my life and I can see some of that going on out there now. Besides, I want to share family and real time adventures on Instagram and don’t want to worry that my pictures and feed aren’t “pretty” enough. That’s the rebel in me. If people do not want to see what I’m up to on a regular daily basis, then they will not be following me on Instagram. I am not a curator of only pretty pictures. I feel that daily life is special enough and do not strive to appear to be perfect or have a picture perfect life. Life is messy and not always pretty at times. I prefer to see the pretty and the mundane as well. Instagram doesn’t portray life in a real way much of the time and it can feel somewhat fake to me.
I’m still on Pinterest, but it too has not been a huge focus for me. Everyone got into pinning apps and have pinned themselves like crazy in the last few years. I finally sort of threw in the towel on that one too. I still pin my content to Pinterest most of the time, but do not get on the treadmill of constant pinning and trying to figure out what is going to go viral. I’m also over the heavily texted Pinterest collages that have been so in use the last few years. It’s just not something that I focus on, probably to my detriment, but that is just the way it is. I don’t want to be a slave to any social media, so that is not where I choose to focus my time. One thing I’ve learned in blogging, you can run yourself crazy trying to figure out which “mole” to whack next….remember that game? It’s a never ending feeling of chasing one’s tail and not how I want to live.
I’m extremely happy with where I’ve landed in blogging. I couldn’t ask for more and I’m still so very grateful that this is my business. I still rely on this blog for my income and every year, I wonder how long it can be sustained and if it can keep going. I wonder what changes will come about that might make blogging not work for me anymore. So far, so good, so I will continue to blog and do business the way I have been, since it has been working for me for the last 5 years (making a full-time income from blogging). It’s been 5 years since I lived in Birmingham and then moved back home to Atlanta. And what a wonderful 5 years it has been! It really has flown by, with getting my house, doing all the renovations and now I’ve been in my house for over 3 years.
I’ve written about how I make my income in some of the previous My Blog Story posts, so you can go back and read those in detail if you’re interested, but the main 5 ways I earn income is still:
- Advertising Networks
- Sponsored Posts and working with brands
- Writing for outside sources
- Affiliate Sales
- Selling Products (beadboard wallpaper is the only thing I sell)
I’m very fortunate that brands and sponsors reach out to me. I know that being a veteran blogger has its perks and that is one of them. I don’t have to be out running after sponsors to work with me. They just seem to find me and email me for opportunities and I never know what’s coming next. That is sort of thrilling actually, to not know what each year will hold, but to wait in anticipation of which door will open next. I’m so grateful for the opportunities I do get and the brands that I have the pleasure of working with. 95% of the opportunities that come my way have come without me reaching out at all and that puts me in a really great position in blogging.
I’m at a point in blogging now, that I can pick and choose those brands that I want to work with and share on my blog and I’m so grateful for that. I don’t have to chase every dollar that comes along and I can turn down the ones that are not a good fit for me (and for YOU, my dear readers!). I thank you from the bottom of my heart for being gracious and understanding that side of blogging. Blogging has evolved into a business for so many of us and working with sponsors is a huge part of that. I still only take on things that I feel would be interesting and beneficial to me and to my readers. You all have been so welcoming with the changes I’ve made on my blog these last 5 years, evolving into a lifestyle blog with more travel and fashion being added along the way. Those topics are something I’m very much interested in and I’m glad I get to share them on my blog. And all of you (for the most part) have embraced the new topics as well. It’s fun to mix things up and unless I take on another fixer-upper house sometime, I don’t have a lot of house projects left at this house. For now, I’ll be working with some friends on helping them with updates on their house and will be blogging that this year.
Blogs are an extension of real life people and I appreciate that you all get that. I can’t keep doing the same things over and over. Life changes and evolves and so will my blog. I appreciate you all staying with me and continuing to come and read my blog. My success has a lot to do with all of you too, so thank you all from the bottom of my heart. I truly do appreciate you all so much more than I can even express!
This last year has been a great one for me. I’m still with AdThrive as my ad manager and main ad network and they continue to grow and evolve too, helping bloggers make the most of our ad revenue. I’m so grateful to have them to handle all the behind the scenes ads that are on my blog. It’s been a pleasure to work with them the last couple of years and I’m happy for their growth in the blog industry. I made a move from BlogHer this year (after being with them since 2008) and now AdThrive is my main ad network and I think it’s been a good business move. Running a blog is a business decision too and I’m happy to have good people around that I can count on to help me. Ad networks have changed over the years as well and now sidebar ads do not pay as much as they did in the early years of blogging. The pie pieces have sort of moved around on how money is earned and from which source, but it is still working well. If I had to manage my own ads, I’d be in big trouble, so I leave that to the experts.
Some personal highlights for me this year, my guest bath finally got featured in Better Homes and Gardens Kitchen and Bath ideas and that was another big thrill for me. Being featured in a magazine never gets old.
In April, I had the chance to fly to Austin, TX and tour the HGTV Smart home out there. I’ve had the pleasure of seeing several HGTV homes in person since I’ve been blogging and that never gets old either. Getting invited by brands to participate in these fun events has been one of the most wonderful perks of blogging.
In May, my daddy got a new tiller from Troybilt and that was a happy day! I was thrilled to be able to do this for him from my blog and getting to share with my family is priceless. That you all continue to be interested in my family year after year is one of those things that I didn’t see coming, but it sure makes me happy and proud.
Also, in May, I finished up a really fun project in my backyard, the patio and that was a very rewarding project to complete.
May brought about another brand trip, this time to Mobile, AL with a group of other fun bloggers to see the Southern Romance house with Phantom Screens. We are all going back in February to see the finished house and I cannot wait!
In June, I headed to St. Augustine, FL for the first time for a media trip and had a great time taking in that historical city.
In July, we had the 4th Haven Conference at the Grand Hyatt in Buckhead and it may have been the best one ever. We are hard at work on #5 for this coming August and are excited once again.
In August, I participated in one of the most rewarding brand events ever, GMC’s Hidden Treasure adventure, where myself and several other bloggers drove GMC vehicles down the Longest Yardsale route and then decorated a Habitat House here in Atlanta at the end. That was such a blast!
In September, I opened my house for the 2nd time for an Open House for my readers and friends. Over 50 of you came out for that and it was a really fun and special time to meet many of you and for you to meet my family.
In October, I participated in a brand competition with Troybilt, where another blogger and I competed for a prize and showed off our pressure washing skills. That was very fun and I won the $1000 gift card from Lowes and finally upgraded my washer and dryer from the Craigslist pair I bought when I moved in. Fun times!
November brought the annual Gingerbread House competition at the Grove Park Inn in Asheville, NC and I was invited for the 2nd year to be a judge. This year has been so wonderful and I am grateful for everything that I get to do!
I shared fashion with Lauren and also announced our big news, another new baby will arrive the end of April and it’s a girl! We are thrilled as you can imagine. We have more blessings to look forward to.
In December, I shared a friend’s house here in Marietta that I’ll be helping with ideas on updating their 1950’s brick ranch house that’s never been touched. I’ll be sharing all of those changes this year, as they move through their house with updates. Those are the sorts of projects I hope to be involved with more in the coming years. I dearly love to watch a house change and evolve into something better. Maybe one day I’ll do another fixer-upper myself, who knows!
December is a huge month in blogland I was privileged to work with a great company, Tree Classics, as a Brand Ambassador. I never know what’s coming next from year to year and working with wonderful companies such as this has been a huge highlight for me.
December wrapped up with another big brand partnership, with Carnival Cruise Lines and I’m so thrilled and happy to be working with this company into 2016.
Writing this blog has brought about so many exciting things in my life that I could have never imagined would happen. I don’t take it for granted at all, but I’m still so grateful that God chose to bring me through a really rough trial in life to a most contented and happy place. He has been so gracious to me over the last 5 years and I give Him 100% of the glory.
Thank you all again for continuing to support my blog, through all the changes and evolutions. I don’t take that for granted either and I know that where I’ve been placed is very special indeed. I continue to tell people that I have a dream job and I truly do think that every single day that I get to do this thing. It’s a huge blessing and one that I hope continues for many years. I have no plans to stop, so we will see what this year of 2016 holds for me. I’ll continue to blog and share my life as I have always done and wait expectantly for what this year will bring. It’s exciting and a little mysterious and makes life so much fun!
Here’s to a fun, adventurous, and exciting 2016!
P.S. So glad you hung in there with me to the bottom of this post….I officially have a new boyfriend! 🙂
I have been reading your blog since the past 7 years and you are an inspiration for many of us and I only wish good things for your future.
Stay just as you are (positive and real)
Discovered your blog this summer when I was searching for fashion blogs for women over 50.
Your blog is filled with the inspiration I need. Our life experiences are very similar and really enjoyed reading how your blog started and grew. Would love the opportunity to speak with you someday. Having been laid off three times in the past 7 years, I have considered the possibility of turning to blogging for my income.
Thanks for your inspiration and savvy fashion advice.
HI, Gail, thanks so much, glad you found me. It has been such a fun journey for me and I know that I’ve been blessed to be placed here at this time of my life.
As a single woman in my 40’s with no children, yours is the only blog I relate to on a personal level. I do enjoy a lot lof other blogs but so many of them are stay at home moms with lives that I just do not speak to me. (please know I’m not criticizing stay at home mom bloggers!) Your story has been such an encouragement to me in my own life as I have gone through similar situations at the same time you have. Divorce, had to move in with family and start completly over in my late 30’s. Purchased my house that was also a fixer upper the same time you did. Through all of this I’ve seen in your life and my own that God is SO faithful and if you are willing to put your hand to something and work hard at it He will bless you far beyond what we can imagine.
I love keeping up with your parents and I also appreciate the fact that you DON’T constantly flood my social media with the same pics of your house over and over. I have stopped following some bloggers on instagram because of that very reason. I’m not going to forget your blog if you don’t post 5 pics of your kitchen everyday. Just because everyone else is doing something doesn’t make it better. Your blog stands out because it’s not like the others. God bless you and keep up the good work.
Hi Co, thank you for sharing that with me! I love your perspective and it makes me know that I need to continue doing my blog the way I have been doing it. I’m so glad that you understand and have conquered your own trials.
susan B. Jones says
My goodness, I didn’t realize I had been following you for 5 years!! I believe I started just as you were moving from Birmingham back to Marietta. I love your blog and look forward to the next 5 years!
Congrats on 9 years of the most wonderful, life changing blog ever! God works in all ways and had it not been for your blog and me reading it back to your Bama days and then you moving to Atlanta and inviting your readers to a paint party…you and I would have never met even though we both grew up in Marietta so close to each other! It has been such a blessing getting to know you and so proud of the times we’ve shared and love traveling with you! So happy you have a wonderful Christian guy in your life! You deserve the best always and have not only been real in sharing your life but your faith as well! Keep up the good work!! We all anxiously wait for each post and your next house project!
Love your blog! I have followed you forever and will continue! You were my first blog!
Thank you for sharing so openly like a real friend! I’ve been reading for 5 years. So much joy and triumph…and a new boyfriend! You deserve all the good you get.
I enjoyed the “blog story” and sharing. I am fairly new to blogging and it was very informative. Happy Holidays to you and yours.
PS- Love the dress!