You guys, it’s hard for me to believe I started this blog almost 4 years ago. If I’m totally honest, I have to say that from the very moment I began, it was always my intention to turn my blog into a business… I just wasn’t exactly sure how I was going to do that. Over the past few years, I’ve learned a ton. I’ve made a ton of mistakes & had a ton of amazing opportunities. Sure, some days are harder than others. Some days I can’t believe how amazing my ‘job’ is. If you came to me today & asked me how I turned my blog into a business, I could probably talk you into the middle of next week!
When I started blogging, I was a stay at home mom. I’m still a stay at home mom, that part hasn’t changed. But at the time, I had two kiddos at home & two in school. I knew, eventually, all the kiddos would head to school & I was ready to start planting the seeds of what I would do when that happened. For the first time in years, I was starting to have more free space in my day for myself & I was ready to fill that time with something exciting. Turned out, that exciting thing ended up being my blog. But the transition was slow over the course of a few years. I will be the first to admit, it was hard for my family to understand why I was taking hours (you guys, literal hours) working on my website template, updating plug ins, creating buttons & Pinnable images. But I realized, early on, that if I was seriously going to turn my blog into something, it was going to take focused time & energy. I learned how to ‘go to work’ during the day & then shut it down once all the kids were home from school. I learned summers are really hard to balance with work & kids being home but a schedule can help. I learned how to plan, set goals, create time restraints & that some days, no matter how hard I tried, nothing was actually going to get done. Probably most importantly, I learned that my time & energy was worth investing into myself & my blog so I needed to make the most of it.
How I Turned My Blog into a Business
I think it took awhile for me to figure out exactly what I wanted this blog to be about. I’m the first to tell you, I’ve gone down different paths at different points. I used to actually write feel good pieces about parenting till I realized that wasn’t really my thing. Regardless of the type of content I was producing, the point was that I needed to have quality content (posts & recipes) but I also needed to have consistently good images. My blog was the store front & it needed to look polished & keep people coming back.
Social Media Strategy
I knew that I needed to treat social media like the business platform it could be. I stopped posting candid images of my kids in dim kitchen lighting & looked at how the pros were doing it. I honed in on one major platform & set my sights there to not only grow my audience but also learn as much about the platform as possible. I spent hours researching Instagram, creating visually interesting images & thinking up engaging captions. Then I set about an intention plan of action on my platform. Social media wasn’t just for socialization anymore. It was now for strategy!
Working with Brands
From the beginning, working with brands was something I always wanted to do. I have a fellow blogger friend who really dreads that but for me, it was always a goal. I love the idea of being able to partner with brands & create something for them, whether it’s images or recipes, I love it all. And the best part is my ability to be choosy. I knew from the beginning I could & would only choose brands I would use or support myself. In the past, I’ve turned down a lot of jobs because the brand didn’t feel like the right fit for me, but those no’s led to a whole lot of awesome yes’s.
Finding a Network
You guys, sometimes being a blogger is lonely… & confusing. I can say for certain, my success has been a direct result of the blogging network I’ve been apart of. I’ve been able to find amazing friends & peers who help each other out, willingly share their knowledge & support each other in the most exciting ways. My very best friend & I basically chat about our blogs on the daily & through my small Mastermind Group, I’ve been challenged & inspired in ways I never expected. I’ve attended conferences & workshops. I’ve also been plugged into a couple of blogging Facebook groups for the past couple of years & the combined knowledge & support there is nothing short of overwhelming generosity. Who do you go to when you can’t understand why your recipe plug in isn’t working? I have some people I can call.
Creating a Product
I knew from the beginning I didn’t want to run ads on my website. I don’t have anything against anyone who chooses to do that, it’s just not something I wanted to do & since it was my business, I got to decide how things ran. Ads had the potential to create sizable incomes for people & since that wasn’t an option for me, it meant I needed to get creative on other avenues of making money. A couple years into my blog I realized the big thing people kept asking me about was my food photography & I knew I’d landed on something. I followed my creative heart & cultivated two food photography ebooks, Eat Pretty Things & Shot in the Dark, as well as taught a couple of live food photography classes.
Creating an Email List
I decided I needed to treat social media as the fickle mistress it is. Don’t get me wrong. I love social media! But I don’t want to put all my eggs into one social media basket. That’s why I knew the importance of working on growing my email list. Your email list is your number one pool of people who’ve already said yes to you. They like you, they want to hear from you & they’re ready & waiting to be your next customer. Don’t pass up an opportunity to create your email list! Algorithms change. Inbox is forever. And never underestimate the power of a small but super engaged list. Trust me.
Continued my Education
When I first started blogging, I couldn’t have ever imagined the amount of things I’d need to know about. SEO, email lists, building an audience, social media strategy, selling & pitching products, marketing, photography, writing! It makes me literally dizzy thinking about all the things I’ve learned in a short few years. But it wasn’t simple. Please don’t think that. I spent many nights, head in hands beyond frustrated with bleary eyes from hours of staring at Google. The biggest takeaway I’ve learned over the past few years has been that I have to continue learning. I have to keep seeking out reliable & relevant education directly related to what I want to do! Make sure that no matter where your education is coming from, you know it’s reliable & trustworthy.