The Secrets of Blogging as a Business Part I

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Being a blogger is quite mysterious to those outside of the blogging world. Some may try to figure out How to Start a blog, while other people just don’t get it, think it’s funny, or are generally clueless that people have a real job blogging. Rightly so, it’s a new thing, and there are a lot of misconceptions out there. I thought I’d write up a series of posts all about the secrets of blogging as a business, and share my thoughts and tips in a multi part series.  I can’t possibly say it all in one post!

How to start a blog

If you are thinking of starting a blog, or just curious as to what the big deal with blogging is, then read on. Someone recently asked me, “do you actually make money blogging?” The answer is, “Yes, yes, I do.”  I’m going to talk about money, how much I’ve made, how, and when.  These are some of the secrets, no one can really know how much money can be made from blogging unless people talk about it!

Time

Something most people don’t realize about blogging, is how much time is put into a blog, just writing up a post. Generally speaking, each post has a good solid 3-4 hours of work put into it. That’s not even promoting it on social media. That includes photographing, editing, writing, prepping for SEO searches, and constructing the post. THEN there is promotion.  As much as I hate to say it, it has become a full time job. It requires a good 8 hours a day of commitment, which turns into a great salary. However, I have assistants that take over 4 hours of that daily, so I consider myself “part time.” At least it makes me feel better to say that:)

Managing Time

TIME is something that I have had to REALLY monitor with myself. My goal from the day I had children was to be a stay-at-home mom. I want to be present and available in my kids life, to not have my back to them, to look them in the eyes when they are talking to me, to look UP with a SMILE (before they say anything) when they walk up to me typing on the computer. However, I have also always felt passionately that I need to develop my talents, and find something for myself. That’s how this all started, but it can take over and blur those lines all too often.

When my kids were younger and not in school, my goal was to mainly do computer time during naps, pre school, or late at night when they were tucked into bed. Now that they are all in school, my goal is to do the bulk of the “work” when they are in school, but to also make trips up to the school as much as possible, because giving my kids THAT is also important to me. I’ve had to set clear boundaries for myself. Do I find myself jumping on the computer after school when they are relaxed watching a show? Yes, sometimes I do. I think that’s ok occasionally, but for ME, I want to be on the couch reading a book when they are home, engaging with them, being present for them, so they know I am available and they are not “interrupting” me. (Of course this adjusts to everyone according to their family, and their needs, I am in no way advocating that this is the only way to do things).

I’ve also been reminded by my sweet husband, that even after the kids are tucked into bed, he wants my time and attention, too. Now that I’m doing more during the day, I’m able to be more present for him at night. But even though I have 7 hours during the day, with grocery shopping, work outs, the occasional lunch with friends, my weekly scripture class, running to the school, some days I only have 1 or 2 hours to “work.”

Unfortunate and fortunate for me, my husband doesn’t care about TV or sports too much at the end of the day, so spending time with me is high on his list. Do I wish he did have more of a hobby at home so that I could do my “hobby” more? Umm, yes, but I have had to check myself and realize how blessed I am to have a husband that wants to be with me, and though my mental tabs are running on overload, I need to set them to PAUSE and be present for him, too. And in return, he is patient with me, when I sometimes have my laptop out, and we are watching a movie together. I’ve never been able to sit still with just one thing anyway.

Blogging as a Small Business

What is important to know about blogging is that it needs to be treated as any small business. It IS a small business. Thinking of a brick & mortar store, you won’t be immediately successful right upon opening, and often don’t start making money much until after the first year.  Just like a storefront, you’ll work your rear off for the first year, with few small successes. If you plan to start up a blog business, just knowing that the first year starts that way, is helpful. You have to build an audience, including your social media. With every year of blogging, as I’ve grown, I’ve made more and more money. But it seems to get to a point where it evens out a bit, and you have to find new and creative ways to sustain what you’ve built.

I don’t feel like I am business savvy at all. I struggled in school. I did get my Bachelor’s degree, that I’m so grateful for, but I never thought I’d have my own business, and now I’ve had several!  Someone recently called me an entreprenuer and it took me aback. I’d never considered that before, but running this site is a bit of that. I’m learning and discovering things that I NEVER would have thought I would have done back in those days as an average B student.

I started as a photographer (this site is still KristenDukePhotography.com), and originally shared mostly photo tips and recent sessions.  After a while, I realized that I just love so much more than photography. When I re-branded nearly 3 years ago, I wanted this little spot to be all about Capturing Joy in all aspects of life (family pictures, recipes, DIY home projects, parties, printable gift ideas). I “snap” pictures in my head, and even take lots of pictures to preserve that JOY for myself and my family, and now with anyone else who finds themselves here. I want to spread that joy to others who come, whomever they may be.

Some will say that to be successful in your blog, to find a NICHE that you love and go with it. But I say, “don’t niche me in!” I love too many things, and though I could have been more successful as a “photography blogger” I just didn’t find love in only sharing photography tips, I love so much more than that! I’ve actually had people emailing me telling me that they are going to stop following because I don’t share as many photo tips, and to them I say, “so sorry, will miss you.” I first have to be true to myself. If you don’t love what you are blogging about, it will show. Even with this post, I’ve been thinking of it for MONTHS, and though it’s a lot to type out, I have been so excited to share MY take on the blogging world, and to share some things that may not be discussed as much, but to also share in MY voice MY experiences.

By the way, I generally don’t LOVE sharing that I am a “blogger” because people don’t really know what that means (and kinda laugh at it). I often say I “run a family website” but amongst bloggers, and to brands, we are known as INFLUENCERS, publishers, and content creators. It’s all about CONTENT, and your spin on anything with your voice.  It sounds funny to say that to people “out of the industry” because it kinda sounds haughty, but in all reality, I have the ability to influence, and brands are noticing that more and more, and giving money to bloggers instead of for TV commercials.

Before I wrote Say No to Auto, there was already a million photography books explaining how to shoot in auto, and blog posts. However, I’ve had so many people email or tell me in person that the way I explained the process to them made so much more sense than any college professor or book could ever relay. It made me so happy to hear that even though I originally struggled to understand the concepts myself, that I could share SIMPLICITY to others out there also wanting to learn, because that’s how my brain works–simple.  So YOUR spin on vanilla cupcakes may be just what people need. It doesn’t have to be a mind blowing, new concept, it just has to be how YOU do things, because that is what will resonate with others.

 Create Your Space

I was SOOOO intimidated by the process of building and starting my own website. I bought my domain, and have since bought two others. You can get to my site from it’s actual source: KristenDukePhotography.com, but also from Capturing-Joy.com and KristenDuke.com The latter two just redirect to the main site. I have been watermarking my images with Capturing-Joy.com as that is the “brand” I am trying to create in the inter web. I wrote all about how to start a website for your business, and why I love Blue Host in an exhaustive post, so read all about that by clicking on the box below.

Starting a blog

 

I’ve had a handful of different logo’s and color scheme’s, but this one has lasted the longest. BRIGHT and HAPPY are what I love. If you come to my site via a link from Pinterest, or Google, you are taken to a direct post, and my hope is that people will see something on my sidebar, and want to click over to view other things. So I tried to make the best use of my sidebar, to catch some other glances. Some bloggers minimize this space with just a few boxes, and just have text links at the top of their site, but I’m a visual person. If I don’t see a great picture of something interesting, I’m definitely not going to click around. I try my best to keep it cohesive and uncluttered, but it may appear to be too much to others.

Network with Other Bloggers

Recently, I shared my #1 blogging tip with a new blogger, and that was to find a group of similar sized bloggers, and cross promote each other. Some people call it a “tribe” but in the business world, it’s referred to as simply networking. Help each other out, share each others links, promote each other. There is no better way to find that group, than to attend blog conferences (see mine here). They are all over the country, all throughout the year. Find something that is in your general niche, and invest in it! It’s often the cost of a plane ticket, hotel, and conference pass, but it is a very worthy investment to your business. Sometimes you can get sponsored by companies if you promise to promote them, and it’s also a tax write off as a business expense, so just do it!  Here is a snippet of the dear ladies I’ve met at the conferences I’ve gone to. Some I “knew” before online, some I became familiar with their sites while there, but all of them I consider friends. Most of these ladies, I interact with in some way or another on a weekly basis, as we share each others’ content.

Blogging Conference Friends

Two ways that I regularly cross promote with friends are:

  1. Make a private Facebook group. Once the group is set up, you can decide how you will share each others content, but a daily link drop is an idea, where each morning you all drop a link, with a promise to share on social media, each others content by the end of the day. The next day, same thing. You share one link, and your link gets shared 7-10 times by different people. Some groups we drop daily, other groups we drop weekly.
  2. Create a google document spreadsheet to share links. Everyone drops 10 Pinterest pins, with a promise to RE pin all of them by a certain date, usually 2-3 weeks at your leisure.

~~~~~~~~~~~~~This is the end of Part I! (Part II posts later today) Please leave questions below, in case I didn’t explain something well enough! Also feel free to elaborate on any of the topics above (bloggers) to help others out that may be reading this in the future.

Secrets of Blogging Part I: Time Management, Network with other Bloggers, Create YOUR space, and how to Blog as a Business

Secrets of Blogging Part II: Importance of Photography, All about Pageviews, Ways to make Money, and Social Media

Secrets of Blogging Part III: Assistants, Contributors, Content, People Problems, and my Stats

 


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Comments

  1. blogging takes time and tons of it, one has to be commited to blogging in order to get something out of it…IMO it is one of the most demanding part of online business
    natan dotan recently posted..Welcome to one of our best Adventure Photo ToursMy Profile

  2. Thank you so much for posting this. I know I previously asked you where/how to get started. My husband is all for starting a blog and posting some things himself (a bit similar to Beth & Nick over at SawdustandEmbryos).

    • Kristen Duke says:

      That sounds great! I keep nagging my husband for a few “guest posts!” I love Beth & Nick, my husband and I got to hang out with them at a building conference a year or so ago!

  3. Well said!!! I totally hear you on finding what makes you happy & being true. I started sharing recipes & crafts when I started my very first blog- I quickly ventured off because I didn’t know ANYTHING about ANYTHING about blogging. I found myself blogging about homeschool, which lead me to photographer moms. It was through that process that I decided to follow my passion for photography & finally learn it. However it was by chance that I found Desiree & it hit me like a brick that recipes & projects was really what I loved to share & the photography was just an added part of that. Funny how it comes full circle & it’s all needed experience to continue to grow. I can’t wait to read more coming up!!
    Gina recently posted..Red Hot Kisses & Hugs CookiesMy Profile

    • Kristen Duke says:

      What a great story, Gina, thanks for sharing! It is funny that once we jump into something with our whole heart, we sometimes find our heart goes to more directions! I’ve been to your site before, I love your food photography! I’m still working on that one, ha ha!

  4. Interesting! I have no ambition whatsoever to start blogging, but it is interesting to read what goes on behind the scenes.

  5. This is super great! I just recently started a blog, “launching” almost exactly two months ago, and this is exactly what I need to read! Thank you so much for taking the time to write out all of your tips and experience.

    I have had a question about networking that I haven’t found anyone that has been able to answer yet. Maybe you can help? When trying to find other blogs with similar size, how do you find them when you are so small? On average I am getting about 50-60 views a day and just recently hitting 100 (yay!!) Most small blogs I find have well above 500 followers on Facebook where I only have about 80.

    I have sorta found that searching through link parties I can find someone in similar size. Is there another way that you could suggest?

    Again, thank you SO much for all of your tips and advice! Only two months in, it already is a lot of work, but I am surprised at how in LOVE I am with the blogging world!

    • Kristen Duke says:

      Congrats on your recently success on growing–yay!! I would suggest maybe looking at their facebook numbers, or even just messaging people without knowing their numbers and saying you want to put together a group and ask if they are interested in cross promoting. Good Luck!

  6. Thank you for the insight. I am trying to figure it all out. I have 3 blogs at the moment, but maybe it would be better to consolidate them!

    • Kristen Duke says:

      It’s hard to know what to do. I like mine all in one, but I know a few blogging friends who split them up. Good Luck deciding!

  7. I spy me 🙂 I feel so grateful for blog world and people like you in it 🙂 xo
    Jamie recently posted..11 uses for old Christmas cardsMy Profile

  8. Thanks Kristen. I’m a new blogger and really want to make it work so hopefully one day I too can make some money and stay at home with my kids. As you say some people don’t know what it is. My family and friends think I am crazy for doing this but I will have to prove them wrong. I will certainly take your advice on board.

  9. very interesting and looking forward to reading on. I have wondered about how this all works and have joined quite a few blogs recently I found you through Quirkymomma. I’m in the UK and have over twenty years experience in early years and parenting. I have been thinking about how to get my message out there. think I may have found it! I’m interested to understand more of how and where the money comes in? thanks for opening this discussion so people like me can find a starting point.

  10. I have no website but I have recently discovered a passion for political research and writing!!! I sooo want to start a blog and try to create awareness for the situation our country is in. I don’t know much at all about computers and certainly nothing about blogging, but I have been doing some writing and posting it on some political pages and have been received extremely well!!!! It is exciting and I really would like to do something with it!!!! Right now I am actually looking for a job, so I unfortunately have some spare time on my hands.

  11. Great post series… thank you! So informative and you are REAL, which I appreciate! Keep it up!

  12. Thank you for this post! It was so good to know that the first year consists of a lot of work with not very much pay. That is where I am right now, but you give me hope that things will be better in the future! I’m off to read part two!
    Melissa recently posted..Fun Winter Treats and ActivitiesMy Profile

  13. Thank you so much for this post! I have been considering starting my own blog but have been struggling with what it will specifically be about. I am/was very afraid of being too broad in what I share on my blog. But when I read that you decided to make yours more about an idea “Capturing Joy” and any way you find you do that, you share, that gave me such hope that I can find something that works for me & my multiple interests as well!

  14. Tonette Skala says:

    I have to say I have been trying to figure out how to blog and what it entails but usually have found nothing. I have to say the ay you explain it makes it a lot easier to understand. I believe I have a long way to go but am up for the challenge. Thanks for the information

  15. Whew! So glad to know soemone else spends 3 -4 hours per posts. The usual number is 2. I just didn’t see how that was possible or was I too much of a failed perfectionist?
    Linda recently posted..Morning Tomato HarvestMy Profile

  16. Thanks for the marvelous potisng! I genuinely enjoyed reading it, you can be a great author.I will remember to bookmark your blog and definitely will come back very soon. I want to encourage you continue your great work, have a nice afternoon!

  17. I read your post and wished I’d written it

  18. That’s the best answer by far! Thanks for contributing.

  19. Thank You so much for sharing! I actually read all the way through! I rarely do that! I am trying to do that same as you…blog only when the baby is asleep and my oldest is at school. It wasn’t working out so well (I always fall asleep with baby) so I’ve started to stay up an hour or two after the baby is asleep. I’m just starting out (my blog is like 1 week old) so I have a lot to learn. Thanks for the great info!

  20. Home Sweet Fixer says:

    Thank you so much for this post! Knowing that someone else has already experienced all of the things I stress and worry over as a new blogger makes me feel like I just have to keep trucking and things will keep growing! I especially like that you addressed the feeling that a post has to be the biggest and the best in order for it to be a good one. In a world where so many people and organizations are blogging it can feel hard to compete! It’s a good reminder that what I am contributing may not be the first of its kind but it is my take on a subject that makes it worth reading. This is the most helpful information I have seen about blogging so far. Thank you so much for sharing! I can’t wait to read part 2!

  21. I started back in march, basically I was keeping a journal for myself. I kept seeing all these ads on facebook saying I can make $10,000 per working 5 hours a week. I researched a few, watched their webinars. I took the leap and started, lucky I already had the domain name, I used to by and sell names. Turns out in the beginning your lucky to make 50cents per day. So now I am taking advice from bloggers who actually do it. Blogging is a lot harder than it looks, for now I am happy the way things are going and I know I will have to put in full time work to make this a full time job. Thanks for the great advice so far

    • Kristen Duke says:

      Yes, blogging IS a lot harder than it looks, people don’t realize, and that’s a big reason why I put this series together, because I want it to be taken seriously…ha ha!

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