I’ve had a good handful of blogging questions lately, so I thought I’d share a post full of the Q&A’s. I am no expert, these are just my thoughts and opinions. I consider myself a medium sized blogger. I’ve been officially blogging for about 2 years now, posting 4-5 times a week since then. I just just churning out posts until this past April and July when I went to blogging conferences and my eyeballs busted WIDE open of the things I could be doing differently, how I can make the most of what I am already doing, and what I could do for more exposure. I shared a few days ago in my 2013 Blog Goals post that my blog and life are two worlds that I’m constantly juggling. Blogging has become a most fun HOBBY, and just like anything that you love (reading, scrapbooking, crafting) it often occupies my mind when I’m not doing it. But my family is my life, and I have to separate the two, and keep my #1 priority as #1.
Onto the Questions!
Brandy Q: I would also like to know how much time you currently commit to keeping up with your blogging and, photog sessions and other hobbies each week. I am a mum to 4 with one not currently in school. Thank you so much for any response in advance!
A: What’s funny is I have found that my “other” hobbies have gone to the wayside since blogging. Even watching TV is VERY slim around here, sometimes I”ll set up my phone with hulu while I type on the blog, and multi-task, but then I get distracted with one and don’t do the other! I would say on average it takes 1.5-2 hours to blog a post each day. That’s editing/organizing on average 10 pictures, loading them into the post, writing up details in the post, etc. I’m usually doing this from 9-11pm at night, ready to post the next morning.
For actual photo shoots, I schedule them when my hubby is home (Thurs. evening or Saturday morning), and really that is my “time away” outing. I don’t generally run an errand alone in the evenings or weekends like a lot of my mom friends do, I’m happy to shop with my little sidekick with me side during weekdays. I’ll go out with friends maybe once a week in the evening, but that’s usually after bedtime. I used to blog during my toddlers nap time, but now that she doesn’t nap, I am very protective of the 6 hours she is in pre school each week.
Jeanne Q: Do you ever feel guilt about spending time on photography and crafts? That is a big struggle for me. I avoided doing anything for a long time because I thought I was being selfish, but I find I really need creative outlets in my life. I feel a lot better. Financially I can’t do everything I want, but I know that i could do more than I actually do if I would not be afraid so much. I admire you ladies who have focus and direction in your pursuits…. it is inspiring for me on many levels of thought.
A: It’s funny you mention focus and direction, because I was just texting with a blogger friend of mine out of state yesterday about something, and she told me, “If there is one thing I know about you, it’s that when you set out do do something, It. Gets. Done!” and I was floored…..what? me? focus and direction? I asked her to clarify, and it surprised me the things she listed. I guess we all see ourselves differently than others, and it helps to have sweet reminders! When I mentioned my 2013 goal post above, I should say that setting goals TERRIFY me. I don’t like to do it! Ask my husband. But when I do, I am determined. It’s true, financially we can’t do all the projects we want to do. Make a big long list of all of the projects in your head, set an estimated amount for those projects, then set goals for when they can be done. Maybe $10 maybe $50 a month.
About guilt. I think every mother feels guilt, no matter what. I love to do projects and share them, and it is rewarding to get feedback from all of that, I’m not gonna lie. I think we have to do a daily evaluation of how we spend our time. Combining also what is necessary to keep us emotionally afloat. We can’t give to our families and not get something in return in way of a hobby. I am a firm believer in that. But it’s true, too much can be selfish. I always laugh to myself when I hear of my friend “ignoring their kids all day so they can read a book for 8 hours straight” doesn’t sound as bad as “ignoring so I can blog for 8 hours.” Kids need independant time, but they don’t need to fend for themselves all day. A healthy balance is key. Determine what is healthy for you, and make clear expectations.
Marilee Q: My question is what do you use and how does it work for you? WordPress, etc? Thank you!
A: I’m on WordPress and have been for two years, but I’m also familiar with blogger because I started there. From what I hear, the BIG transfer can be frustrating if you have a big readership, people lose readers and they lose content. So if you plan on doing it for the long haul, wordpress looks more professional (in my opinion). I taught myself a TON 2 years ago and pulled out a million hairs, now I have an assistant who helps me with things that I don’t want to lose a patch of hair learning.
Cassidy Q: How did you get a larger group of readers?
A: I don’t know that there is a great answer for this, but I am a big believer in networking. Connect with other bloggers your size: comment on their posts, comment on big readers posts, link up to link parties, swap blog posting with blogs your same size, it’s all about cross promoting yourself. I started when a blogger asked me to share photo tips on her site, but when I stopped hers and started my own, I was still pretty small. Going to blog conferences helped me meet other bloggers face to face and helped this networking exponentially! There are conferences all over the US, find something close, or invest in the travel costs. You will find it very worth the effort.
Megan Q:How much time per week do you usually spend working on the blog… Writing the posts, commenting on other blogs?
A: 20 hours a week
My day runs like this:
8-9 am EMAILS/social media, 9 pm-12 (or 1 am) prepping blog posts
t/th when my daughter is at preschool
9am-12 prepping posts/planning/crafting
Andrea Q: How do you make it look pretty?
A: I’ve done it all. I started customized colors myself by learning html, but I know I’m not a graphics artist, and I couldn’t make everything look as good as I wanted it to, so I hired a fabulous tech girl, Cyndi Marie. She rocks. She doesn’t live in my state, but if she did, I run and kiss her feet on a daily basis. That’s how fantastic she is.
Wendy Q: How many posts are you working on at any given point?
A: Hmmm, I’m not super organized enough to actually be working on a few at a time. I do have a paper calendar at my desk and I do try to plan out what I’ll post about and when. I’ve got a column on the right of the calendar that I’ll put 10 or so ideas that I want to post about in the next month. In the week before, I’ll tentatively write what I’ll post about each day that week and circle it. Sometimes it changes, but a week out, I can generally decide what I’ll do.
Geneva Q: I have a blog, two actually, but they shall remain nameless because of the shear neglect they have endured over the last year (+). how so you make the time?!!
A: Ahh, time. The elusive element that seems to be missing in all of our lives. It’s all about your priority. It’s something I love, so I make the time, at the cost of sleep and TV, two things that I also love.
Jaime Q: I wonder how you feel about privacy. My husband does not want his name or picture or our last name or where we live on my blog. I respect this totally, but I feel like it’s uncommon among bloggers. How do you feel about putting all this out there?
A: It’s a tough one. I started my business with my last name, so it was out there from the start. I still keep the names of my family members off of my blog (though sometimes my friends will comment with their names not realizing I do that). But I know many bloggers who are all out there with their families full names. There were times I worried about cyber stalking (really, not just because you like my style) and it paralyzed me with fear. Ultimately, I made it a matter of prayer. I wanted so badly to share my life and my perspective, and I had seen how much doing that had benefitted others, and that brought me so much JOY! My husband doesn’t love a lot of the same things your husband does, but when I explained to him that I believe in the power of sharing and that I felt peace after praying about it, he was ok with it. I think we can have our lives be guided by fear or so many things–it’s a reality that life can be scary–but ultimately if we love something enough, we can be guided in the right direction. I have a family blog that started private and is still private. I didn’t want to be guarded with what I shared. On this blog, I share my family from time to time, but mostly it’s about me and my projects. My favorite blog, 71toes.com is all about their life and I’m so grateful she shares her mothering highs and lows because I benefit so much from it! Hope that helps some.
Laura Q: How do you turn your blog into something that makes money? What content do you need to include and how do you attract sources to bring in income?
A: This is something that I’ve learned in the past year more. Before, I just had google ads on my sidebar, then google thought I was doing something illegal and kicked me off. They couldn’t even tell me what it was. Darn, too bad. Luckily at that point I was signed up with Blogher as well at that point, and they are my main ads. With them, the have to have their ads “above the fold” so you will see them on my site above my logo at the top, and on the right sidebar at the top. I also have Lijit ads on the bottom. Those are all pay per click/impression, so the amount of traffic I get ON MY BLOG (not being viewed in reader unless with the “next” button) are how I make money from them. It’s super small like. 005 cents per click or something. But it does add up. I have also recently joined with a few different media groups such as Pollinate and Clever Network (on my sidebar under the facebook widget) where they have “shopportunities” or brands that are wanting bloggers to promote their products. I’ll apply for the opportunities, and if accepted will get paid for the post I write up.
Brianna Q: How much time/money do you put into your projects or website, and is there any way to justify or offset these costs?
A: Hmm, I am not so good at organizing money. Our family budget is based on my husbands income, so the money I make through photography, book sales, workshops, and blog ads fund my projects at home. But I mentioned above making a list of projects you want to do, putting a general dollar amount by them and giving yourself a monthly budget.
Whew—did I answer everything fully? Any lingering questions?