Once a year I share a recap on the anniversary of my blogging career beginning. Once again, it’s time for a recap since I’ve just hit the 12 year mark! How in the world have I been blogging for 12 years now?
It just doesn’t seem possible that this many years have passed and I’m still here! Honestly, every year I look back and say, thank you Lord for keeping me here for another year, being able to write this blog and make a living at it. In fact, it is better than ever. This past year was the best year ever financially on my blog and that’s a lot for me to be thankful for. I don’t take it for granted and I have no idea how long it will last, but I’ll keep going until things change so drastically that I just can’t do it anymore.
Warning: This is a long and rambling post, so you’re forewarned, but I hope you’ll enjoy reading more about this side of my blogging journey!
With all the changes in blogging constantly, it’s amazing that I’ve survived and thrived, even though I don’t do all the things to grow and sustain that I’m supposed to do. It’s a full-time job just to try to keep up with all the technical and behind the scenes things we are all supposed to do as bloggers and that is my weak area, so I just do what I can and fortunately for me, it’s all worked out to my benefit. I definitely don’t do it all! Not even close.
Blogging is totally a fulltime job. On our plate is:
Coming up with content to blog about (you’d think after 12 years, I’d be out by now, but no!)
Styling rooms, taking photos, editing photos
Sharing on social media, which can be another full time job. I don’t do enough of this, but then again, I do all I want to do.
Keeping up with all the technical things that constantly change in blogging: SEO, social media best practices, editing photos, WordPress updates, learning all things new that come every year.
Analyzing data and trying to figure out how to stay relevant.
Keeping a finger on the pulse of what is going on in the blogworld and trying to stay fresh and current.
Responding to emails and direct messages on social media.
Small business set up and record keeping, paying taxes & all that entails year after year.
It can all take a lot of time, especially the writing, editing, and photo taking for blog posts. I post at least 3 to 4 times a week and that’s a lot of content every year. Don’t get me wrong. I’m not complaining. I’m just making a note of what all goes into blogging. As I’ve said before, it’s not for the faint of heart. It’s work, as well as fun and rewarding!
Keep in mind as you’re reading all of this, this is my opinion and other bloggers may not agree with me on all of this, but this is my experience and feelings on these topics.
Last year, I wrote all about 2017 and what a busy year it was. It was one of the most heavily traveled years and I flew all over with brand events and sponsored opportunities. It was a really fun year. 2018 was a very quiet year compared to previous years and I only went on one brand trip last year. But, it’s also the year that Mark and I really got into nesting mode in our new house and it’s been great to be at home. I love home and I love being home with Mark!
If you want to read my entire blogging story (haha, set aside some time) I’ve done recaps for every single year of the 12 years and you can find them all here, just scroll back to start at Part 1. It’s how I got started and my journey from the very beginning to here.
So, this year’s 12 years of blogging is really just going to be a recap of how I blog and looking back at blogging in general. Boy has it changed! Some of the changes are good, but many of them I still don’t love. We’ll get to that in a minute. I do not want to be negative here, but there are many things about this online world that can feel out of balance and hard to maneuver.
I’ve touched on all of the below in past blogging posts, but I’ll do a recap again this year in case you’d like to know more about how this blogging thing works. I’m so very grateful that I get to make a fantastic living by writing my blog and sharing it with all of you. It’s far more than I ever dreamed or imagined could happen.
How I Make Money Blogging
I’ve done a recap on this before, but I make money from blogging from 3 main sources.
The biggest part of my income (60%) is from my ad network. I’m still with AdThrive ad network and they have helped so many of us not worry about the ad part of our blogs. They take care of all the behind the scenes technical parts of ads running on my blog, as well as getting me the best rates around, so that each and every person who comes to my blog helps me make ad revenue. Just having ads running on my site 24/7 pays me a paycheck every month. It’s the best passive income there is! I write my blog. You all come by and visit and the ads are running all the time so I’m constantly getting revenue just from your visits and views. So thank you for that! It gets counted whether you are on a laptop, desktop, phone, or tablet, it all counts. I appreciate so much all of your support over the years, you have no idea! So, please visit my blog as often as you can to help me keep it going.
My page views over the years have slightly gone down, not up. I think this has happened with a lot of bloggers as the competition for viewers is ever increasing. There are now thousands and thousands of bloggers out there trying to do this online thing and only so many people reading, so there is some competition for eyeballs. Social media has captured so many people and so a lot of people don’t go directly to a blog anymore, they read on Instagram or Facebook and just see the highlights.
Some bloggers have managed to grow their page views to a huge number, in the millions of page views (food bloggers for instance). I have not been one of them. I’m very grateful for the amount of page views and readers I do get and I hope to hang on to all of you! I get a lot of traffic from Google when people do a search for something and it brings them to my blog. Thank goodness for all that content I’ve had out there for years, it still gets searched years later. I have tried to work on SEO (Search Engine Optimization) over the years and do OK with it, but there is a lot more I could learn and implement, I know. See all the things you have to worry about as a blogger?
I also make about 30% of my income through sponsored posts. It’s been such a blessing to partner with so many brands and sponsors who come to me and want me to share their products with all of you. I look at those opportunities with a keen eye on what I think would be a good fit for my blog and for all of you before I say yes to any of them. I’ve been very fortunate that I can pick and choose which opportunities I say yes to these days and that’s a very good feeling. I do not have to take everything that comes along. I say no to many of them because it’s not a good fit.
The way it’s worked with me is some brands come directly to me through email and ask me to collaborate with them. I’ve had many wonderful partnerships over my 12 years of blogging. Another way that sponsored opportunities come my way are from an influencer marketing agency, such as MediaKix, who I’ve worked with numerous times, as well as several others. There are many agencies out there that work with bloggers and influencers now and they bring the brand and blogger together. Contracts are signed and agreements made for collaborations of sharing the brand products on the blog and social media platforms.
Here is how I approach sponsored opportunities. Some bloggers only work for money and not just product, but I don’t follow those guidelines. We all have to figure out our business model for ourselves. For me, if I’m going to be doing a project at our house anyway, then I will approach a brand I want to work with for a product trade for me to blog about the project and their product. That’s worked well for me so many times and it has enabled us to do many projects at our house and helped cut the cost. Payment is payment no matter if it is product or cash, in my opinion, so I’m fine with product exchanges if the product is big and worth it to me. Sometimes I get product and money. Sometimes I just get paid money to share a product or service from a sponsor. Many brands contact me to work with them and so I negotiate money and my terms and we come to an agreement. I share on my blog and social media and get paid for it. Both methods have worked well for me over the years and I make a wonderful income with the money and the products combined.
Do I always get a YES when I contact brands. No, I do not! I have gotten plenty of NO’s in this blogging journey. But I continue to press on, finding brands that want to partner with me because of me, my blog, and my audience. They see the value of what I’ve worked so hard for.
In case you don’t know it, bloggers and influencers are making a LOT of money. I have no way to substantiate how much money everyone is making, because I don’t have conversations with many people in this industry about that, but from what I’ve read about bigger influencers and bloggers in general, the money is there to be made. It’s paying very well. Blogging is an industry that has grown to what it is in the last 10 years and I’ve been there since the beginning, when no one was making money. Before that, it didn’t exist. It’s a completely NEW industry without parameters or a lot of standards to follow. It’s all been made up as we have evolved, with each blogger and influencer figuring things out for themselves and everyone learning from each other. There’s no school for blogging, at least not that I know of yet.
I have no idea where I stack up financially with the others in my niche group, but I know that I’m very happy with where I am. It’s far more money than I could ever make in the corporate world doing what I did before. I think that many of my blogging friends feel the same way. We love it. It’s a dream job and one we all want to see continue to grow and evolve.
Money is a big topic in blogging and one that doesn’t get talked about all that much. I have been listening to The Blog Millionaire podcast and it has a lot of good insights on bloggers and how much money they are making, so you might want to listen in if you’re a blogger too. Good to know where we are in this online world in making money. Listening to Brandon’s podcast, I’m making money in 3 out of the top 5 ways that most bloggers make money: Ad Networks, Sponsored Posts, Affiliate Links, Coaching Services, Online courses.
I’m not doing coaching or online courses, and from his perspective online courses are what are making the most money for the higher income bloggers. I’ll probably not do that myself, but it was interesting to hear it all. All I know is I am super happy with how much money I make in blogging and I can only assume that many of my peers are doing equally well or better than I am financially. I’m sure many are making way less than I am as well and there is money to be made, whether a newer blogger or a seasoned blogger. It takes quite awhile to get to the point of making a full time income, it took me 4 years of blogging, but I think other newer bloggers are doing it way faster now. And full time means different things to different people.
At the time my blog took off in income, blogging in general was just really taking off and opportunities were exploding like never before. That was in 2011. I’m quite sure that I could make even more money if I really hustled even more, but at this stage of my life, that’s not what I want to do. I want to work less and work smarter. I’m heading into retirement years this decade, even though I have no plans to retire from blogging ever. Realistically, I see my blog staying up indefinitely and bringing in money for me even after I decide to stop writing new posts or updating as much as I do now.
When I share affiliate links and make sales, that also adds a bit to my income (around 10%), so I appreciate you all clicking and buying when you see something you like whether it’s clothing or home decor. It’s a small part of my income, but every little bit helps! I’ll talk about this part more, but it’s not something I really want to get further into myself. I enjoy sharing things I buy with all of you when I can, but I get a little bit overwhelmed at all the heavy sales and consumerism that is going on in blogging now. It can feel that social media is one big sales pitch now and that’s definitely a big change over the years. I do affiliate links, but don’t do them constantly every single day. I honestly don’t want that kind of pressure to keep up with buying so that I can constantly share new things with my audience. That’s a burden I do not want to take on.
I’m very grateful for that avenue to be able to share what I love and for my readers buying through my links and me making a commission. That’s a bonus for me, but one I never want to take advantage of. Everyone has to figure that out for themselves, but it’s an area I don’t want to deeply dive into. Consumerism definitely fuels those feelings of discontentment and I don’t want to spread those feelings at all. I’ve heard too many people on Instagram talking about this very thing and that they are having to step back because of all the noise and all the constant selling that goes on over there. I know it’s big business for so many people and I get that, we all have to figure out our boundaries. More about Instagram below.
Social Media: Likes and Dislikes
Blogging is still going strong, however many new influencers out there are not blogging, but just have a social media platform. This is something I noticed about 3 or 4 years ago. I started seeing women on Instagram who didn’t have a blog or they were brand new to blogging but had built up a huge following on Instagram. This has been a new phenomena in the online world, but nothing should surprise us, I guess! It’s ever changing.
I’m very happy that so many people can and do make a living online. It has changed my life dramatically financially, so I certainly have nothing to complain about, but I do have my own opinions about the way things are now and my views may not mesh with many others who are doing what I do too. We all have to figure this out for ourselves and I’m not bashing anyone for how they do things, just giving my opinions. Let me just say that I don’t rely too much on social media for my business success. I do what I have to do and need to do to share my blog on social media, engaging with my audience as much as I can, but I do not put a lot of my time into any one of them. From my experience, relying on social media to grow and succeed in this online world is a sure way to be disappointed. We do not own those platforms, we only own our blogs. So I refuse to put too much emphasis on any social media. I’ve watched all of them go up and down in giving bloggers growth and then take it away. It can drop at any time.
We do not have a lot of control over social media platforms, we are at their mercy. We can work it with best practices, play the games, do our best, but at the end of the day, we are not in control. My focus will always be on my blog, first and foremost. That’s what I own and do have control over.
With that being said, let’s look at all the social media platforms that are the most popular today.
Instagram has become the most popular social media it seems for so many niche groups. Many have grown huge followings on Instagram from sharing their homes or fashion. Those are the ones that I see the most since that’s what I blog about and share too. Both arenas are very big on Instagram and those influencers with large followings get a lot of recognition on Instagram and gain lots of fans. I also think this is looked at with envy by many newcomers who also want to grow on that platform and they look at the huge accounts as ones to emulate. The fans are there and love to follow along on Instagram stories and posts. Instagram is the darling of social media and seems to be the one that most want to grow on now. It’s harder and harder these days to grow on Instagram. I’ve been on there for 6 years and have less than 20K followers. I’m grateful for all of them and love the interaction I have on Instagram (follow me if you’re not already). It’s a fun platform and I share day to day events of my life on Stories and have fun with the conversations that come with it. In fact, that’s my favorite part of Instagram, interacting with my readers and followers in a more one on one way in Stories and Direct Messages.
But with that being said, more and more I want to spend less time on social media, especially Instagram. Any social media can create feelings of discontent in our own lives. I’m not immune to that either. When I see gorgeous homes day after day on Instagram, it sometimes makes me envious of the large glam to-die-for kitchens or newly remodeled bathrooms that cost way more than I would ever be able to afford for a renovation. I’m sure it can create those feelings no matter what status someone is. Those on a tight budget or those with what seems to be unlimited budgets. There’s just something about seeing what everyone has that can do that to all of us. And that’s the hazards of hanging out on social media too much.
I’ve seen so many conversations about this very subject on Instagram and other places too, so it’s not something that I made up or just feel myself. I know it affects all of us and everyone who is online as a business or even those of you who are readers and just follow along with all of us who are bloggers. We can all feel the feelings of noise and anxiety from too much stimulation and yes, pretty pictures. We’ve all heard the quote “comparison is the thief of joy“. I’m not sure who coined that, but it’s absolutely true. I don’t love scrolling and scrolling through perfect pictures and seemingly unattainable lifestyles that so many portray on the platform of Instagram. Perfectly posed fashion or style bloggers on an exotic location shoot just don’t do much for me. I prefer more real life and down to earth and I think many who participate over there feel the same way. The same goes for always perfect pictures of houses and home decor.
I really fear for the children growing up now in this online world of social media. They will never know the way it used to be when none of us were connected like this. Ignorance is bliss as they say and if we could never look in the homes of anyone around the world, we wouldn’t know what we’re missing. But on the flip side, now we can peer in SO many homes all over the world. We’ve opened them up wide for you to see and invited you in. So perspective is definitely needed to navigate this arena. We compare our homes to those we see online. We compare our lives with those we follow along with online and ours seems lacking in comparison. Not as fun, not as adventurous, not as perfect as we sometimes think others are living.
We all know that no one’s life is perfect, but it still doesn’t negate the fact that we as human beings compare. Whether it’s fashion or home or whatever you’re watching out there, it’s hard not to be envious at times, isn’t it? I know I’m not alone in these feelings and again, I literally fear for the younger generation growing up in this comparison society. They will never know a time that they can’t peer into friend’s lives and see what they are doing. Nothing is secret anymore. Lives are out there for the browsing and following. And if we don’t have ourselves grounded in a strong foundation, and for me, it’s my relationship with Jesus Christ and my real life family and friends, we can feel that we aren’t enough. Heaven help us with that situation! I have to wonder about the children of bloggers and Instagram stars too. What are those little ears and eyes learning from all that they hear and see on a daily basis?
We can now see when we’re not invited to an event that all our friends were invited to. I’m saying that as a blogger, but just a regular person out there following along, you can see on Facebook or Instagram when you’re not included in an event that maybe your friends all went to. Maybe a group of your friends got together and you weren’t invited. It’s all over social media for the looking. I can see a brand that I’ve worked with before not call me back, but work with other bloggers that I know during a different season. I don’t know why they didn’t call me back, it all went well, but I have to then wonder why and if I’ll hear from them again. Competition is a very real thing and one that we all feel at times, whether we are bloggers/influencers or not.
So, that’s a recap of my feelings about social media. It’s fun and it can also be hard and hurtful. It can feel so busy and rushed, pulling us all into the fray whether we want to be there or not. Just getting on there and spending our time there can make us feel less than and that we have wasted hours of our day. Precious hours. I have to look at social media as a part of my job, but it’s not always one that I love and feel that it benefits me that much as a person. I see so much striving and trying to grow on Instagram. So many people there seem to want to be Insta-famous and grow huge followings for gain, because they see so many large accounts constantly working with brands. Brands do take notice apparently and those people get a lot of attention and financial gain. None of us want to daily feel less than, like everyone is selling something constantly, encouraging us all to buy more to be happy, add this to your home so you’ll be up to date. That’s the part of social media that turns me off. I don’t ever want to feel that I’m just a sales person trying to constantly shill products to my audience. I’m a small part of it, but that’s where I want to keep it.
I honestly don’t see how some keep up over there. It seems (to me anyway) that the bigger accounts are spending hours on there interacting with their thousands of followers, commenting on other large accounts and just being visually present constantly. I just don’t see that being the life I want for myself. There’s not enough time in the day to devote so many hours to a social media platform. So even though I might wish I had a bigger following over there, maybe it would increase my appeal to brands, I really don’t want the responsibility that goes along with that. It’s a huge burden as well as blessing it seems to me. It’s totally addicting too, the feedback and constant interaction and that’s not particularly healthy.
I have been on Facebook for 9 years or so, it’s one of the longest running social media platforms out there. I grew my following to 250K in just a few short years and for a long time, Facebook was a really good way to get people to my blog and I could count on lots of clicks when I put my posts over there. That’s all changed in the last 3 to 4 years and now I can’t even count on Facebook sending me much of anything in regards to readers and clicks. They only let a very small number of my followers see my posts. That’s just the way it is now and there’s not a lot we can do about it. So Facebook, for me has sort of fallen behind in where I want to spend my time too. I’m sure there are games I could play or analyzing I could do to try to figure things out over there and get more people clicking over to my blog, but honestly I don’t have the energy or inclination to do that.
Don’t even get me started on regular Facebook, not business Pages. Regular Facebook is like stepping through a minefield of political posts and angry people so much of the time, so that turns me off too. Who needs that feeding your soul all the time?
I don’t spend a ton of my time doing social media, even though I know I’m supposed to. I don’t constantly stay on Pinterest and pin things every day, nor do I schedule pins like so many of my friends do with pinning tools. Pinterest has been around for years now and for a long time, it was the #1 way to get clicks to our blogs. It still sends me quite a bit of traffic and I’m grateful for all of it, mostly from Google searches. I could probably be doing a lot more to get more traffic (I definitely could be), but I just don’t try to do it all. I don’t schedule pins or do any of the things most bloggers are doing now. I do what I can with all my posts, send them out when they are live and hope for the best. So far so good! It’s all still working for me. I don’t want to be a slave to any social media and I’d rather enjoy my life that I’ve been blessed with even more.
I fear that we as a society are all wasting a lot of our time and lives on social media. And to what end? It certainly is not going to make us more fulfilled as people.
Where is Blogging Headed?
All that to say, I have no clue where it will all end up. I just know that some of the social media aspects that are happening are not my favorite and my wish is to spend less time on social media, especially Instagram and not more. I think I’m much more productive and clear headed when I don’t stay on there too much. I’m much more content too. So this year, I certainly won’t be on there more, if anything less. That’s never going to grow any of my accounts in a huge way, but that’s fine with me. It’s better for my spirit to be less involved with it all and to live in the real world much more than online.
What Does the Future Hold for Me?
I’ve mentioned before that so many of my blogging peers have done big things. They write books, they create product lines, have products online to sell, both digital and tangible real products. They have created fabric lines, speak at all sorts of events, create podcasts, do design work for others, get published multiple times in magazines, get involved with MLM companies and rise in those arenas. Those are all wonderful and fulfilling things for any woman to be a part of. Women these days are encouraged to dream big and do huge things in life. Is it OK to not do many of those things and to just live life? I hope so!
There’s certainly nothing wrong with all the above, but at what expense? I’ve done almost none of those things I listed and sometimes feel that I may be left behind. I could feel like a loser in this online world if I let all of that sink in. I don’t feel as relevant as some of my blogging peers are, or as well known or have as many accolades under my belt. It’s still just me sharing my life, the ups and downs. I haven’t hired a team of people to help me with everything. I have no virtual assistants or photographers (just Mark!). I’m still a one woman show in a sea of stand out talent and glossy professional images and videos. It’s enough to humble me, that’s for sure!
But, I’ve always said this and I’ll continue to operate under this guideline. I’m a Baby Boomer and have my place in this blogging and online world and you all have continued to support me year after year after year. Twelve of them in fact! So, I’m not going anywhere! I’m here for the long haul, whether the accolades add up or not. I’m still nothing outstanding in this blogging world, I’m still just a normal every day woman who enjoys sharing my world with all of you. I’ve managed to hang in there for 12 years and make a fantastic income doing it.
Between my blog and Haven Conference, it’s all been a huge blessing. I stepped away and sold my interest in Haven last year, but for 7 years it was very lucrative for me. I’ve managed to save quite a bit of a nest egg for my retirement as well and that’s been a huge blessing, considering all I have been through in the past. I’m proud of what I’ve accomplished and look forward to the future and whatever it holds, God willing!
I love my life with Mark and all that God has blessed us with. I want to enjoy our families, our home that we’ve been given and grow into our future senior years together with much appreciation and thankfulness. I do not take any of this for granted. It’s been the ride of my life and I wouldn’t trade it for anything!
Again, I want to thank ALL of you out there who continue to support my blog. You come here every time I post a new post, you leave comments. Some of you lurk and never make a comment and I love you too! Thank you for that, thank you for the support, the love and prayers for my family, and the overwhelming encouragement you all give to me on a daily basis. I wouldn’t still be here without all of YOU in my world and you make life so much fun for me. I don’t know what I’d be doing now at this stage of my life if I wasn’t blogging, but I’m so proud of what I’ve accomplished and humbled too that I’m still here, doing my thing.
I continue to give God the glory for all He has done in my life. He gave me this blog just when I needed it, He knew my future and what it would hold before I ever walked the walk. And He’s given me favor with brands, favor with all of my readers and I will never take that for granted.
Here’s the way I see this journey of mine….
For the first 4 years of blogging, it was all for fun. Then things got really serious and I was at a crossroads, not knowing if I could make it doing this or not. It’s been almost 8 years (2011) since I had no choice but to file for bankruptcy, that was how bad things were in my life at the time. It was humiliating and humbling to say the least, but the minute I did that, money began flowing into my bank account from blogging, slowly at first and then picking up speed and it hasn’t stopped yet. There has never been a day since then that I have had to worry about money. God used my fiery trials to get me to where I am now. Without His favor and opening doors in my life, I would not be here. I fully believe that my Plan B life that I was living was completely turned around and God had my Plan A in mind all along. I’ve worked very hard at this blogging thing, but HE did it for me. Anything I have is because of Him and now I have a powerful testimony that I can share. Without a doubt I know he moves mountains and will take care of us if we trust Him. He looked down at me and said, I’m gonna give that girl a dramatic testimony to share! And boy, did He ever do that! God’s Plan A is far better than I could ever have dreamed. Only God! Did I have any idea that this is how my life would have turned out 8 years ago. No way!
With all that I share here, it’s my prayer that you are inspired and encouraged in whatever life brings you as well, knowing that I’ve been through my own struggles and lived to tell about it. I’ve survived and thrived, starting over in my mid-50’s and to God be the glory! My hope is to inspire you with your home and your life equally and that you take away something positive from each and every post I share!
I’m not going anywhere! Here’s to all the blessings and good things that 2019 will bring for all of us! I know that this got really long, so thank you for reading to the end. This was all on my heart and mind and it all just came pouring out this year and I had to share it all.
Just for a little fun, here are some interesting facts from my Google Analytics for 2018:
Over 1.7 million of you came to my blog last year, giving me over 3.8 million pageviews. That’s mind blowing really!
27.5% are 18-24
33.5% are 25-34
15.5% are 35-44
12.5% are 45-55 with 11% being 55+
That’s a whole range of demographics coming here, so that makes me happy!
What’s really surprising is 45.85% are female and 54.15% are male. Must be all the Google organic traffic that bring in the men on some of my projects, who knows?
The majority of my traffic is of course, the US, with Canada, United Kingdom, and Australia coming in next.
That’s a recap for this year! I hope you enjoyed this peek into my blogging life and again, I couldn’t do it without all of you supporting and encouraging my blog every single year! Big hugs from me to you!
All photos from Pixabay (except my home pics).
If you want to know more, you can catch my entire blogging story from the beginning to now in all 11 parts previous to this one, in My Blogging Story. Just click back to Part 1 and go from there. It tells all about how I got started all the way till now, 12 years later. It has been quite the ride, I can tell you that!