My blogging journey: a case study

Blogging is at least a part time job – and some days it feels like my full time job. Today I’m sharing possibly my longest post documenting how and why I started, and how I progressed over the past two years. You’ll get insight into what worked and what inspired me.

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I’ve been blogging for a little bit now. I started for fun, without any concept of the blogging world in November of 2010. My blog was for me. It documented my late night musings as a college sophomore and I didn’t share it with a soul. By spring I was dating Ben and occasionally sharing things we’d do together. When we got engaged, the blog became a place to share wedding plans and eventually newlywed life. I’d share it on facebook and up until this point I’m pretty sure only people I knew read my blog.

It started in early fall, I got a comment by someone I’d never met. I followed the comment back to their profile and realized they had a blog (with comments and “buttons” from other bloggers who they’d presumably never met). I spent hours online that day discovering this new community. I had no idea that bloggers made money or worked with brands. I did know that some bloggers had lots of followers, got lots of comments, and appeared to have other blogger friends. I wanted in.

I spent the next few months commenting like crazy, trying to engage as much ot that blogging community as I could. I remember hitting 100 followers! I started sharing installments of my wedding recap every wednesday and loving the jump in pageviews. I spent hours on a horrifically busy and aesthetically distracting blog design (in retrospect) and I loved it. I started swapping posts with other bloggers for additional exposure. On black Friday we made our first blog investment with Daniel, a great camera (but not a DSLR) when I started to realize great images were important.

By Christmas I was excitedly planning the first BYU blogger meetup with my friend Brooke (blogging really helped our real life friendship blossom and now she’s one of my best friends). By this time I’d realized some bloggers made money and got free stuff – but that was a long way off for me. The meet-up in March was fabulous and I started to struggle balancing my time (I found blogging so addicting).

That spring I took no classes and just blogged and worked on campus. I hosted a few giveaways and kept connecting with bloggers. I worked on my photography, brainstormed post ideas, and would talk blogging with anyone who would listen. In the summer I started developing a social media strategy and setting big blog goals. I started selling more adspace and doing my first clothing reviews for small brands. I met Kirsten who became invaluable to my blogging that year (her photography skills increased the quality of my blog and inspired my own photography in ways I”m not sure anything else could have). I started doing more personal style pictures and enjoyed picking out a free clothing item each month.

That fall I joined my first media company and got paid for a post! I loved getting creative, entertaining friends, and taking lots of pictures. People wanted to pay me for this? Yes please. We redesigned my blog, started reaching out to brands, and kept connecting with other bloggers.

Come spring I stared hosting roundtable blogging workshops with a new blog friend. I loved talking blog and the more I talked the more I realized how much I’d learned over the past year. I though about writing an ebook and I kept blogging daily. I dreamed about beautiful DSLRs with multiple lenses and focused on capturing our last few months at BYU.

When I moved to Cincy blogging became a bigger part of life. With two online classes to finish, I wasn’t looking for a post graduate job, and I had a good feeling about this whole making money blogging thing. I’d been doing it on a small scale for awhile. I found this amazing media company two months ago that has forced me to step up my game when it comes to photography and creativity. They pay me what I never thought I was worth and have helped me realize what I can do with this (this as in blogging).

I spend hours everyday at this computer. Between writing a post, promoting a post on social media, responding to comments, engaging other bloggers, responding to emails, and searching for inspiration, blogging is at least a part time job. Over the past few years I have learned basic HTML, social media strategy (for twitter, pinterest, facebook, and instagram), basic photography, how to pitch to brands, how to syndicate content effectively, and how to optimize SEO for search engines.

If you’re going to start a blog because you want to get free clothes or make money for throwing a party, DONT! You could make enough money to buy far more clothes by spending the hours you would have blogging working at McDonalds. But, if you love being creative, engaging with people, pushing yourself, and sharing your life… then start now. Remember that “the journey is the reward” and if you aren’t going to love getting there, then “there” probably isn’t a place worth getting. If I had started blogging for the purpose of getting where I am now, I would have quit a long time ago. If I kept blogging only to reach my lofty goals, I’d burn out next month. But, where there is passion there is will. Somewhere in this corner of the internet I have found something I love. I love sharing, creating, engaging, and learning. I love reflecting, strategizing, dreaming, and then working.

Sometimes I wonder why I’m doing it, and then I look at the different between my first and last posts. I also go look through all the love letters I’ve written to Ben on here, the dates we went on our first month of marriage, or those cryptic early posts where no one knew I what I was talking about but me. This blog is just as much for my readers as it is for me and my family. It shows how I’ve changed, and how we’re changing. Sometimes I’m scared its not as accurate a representation as I’d like (for example: when I spend all day as an academically minded student, the last thing I want to come home and do after homework is blog about something academic – so the result is a blog that doesn’t very accurately represent my love of history, policy, and international relations). Sometimes the blogging world influences me in ways I wish it didn’t – I care a little bit more about clothes (sometimes too much) and every once in awhile find myself thinking “if only I lost five more pounds.” But, overall, the blogging community is wonderful and I am so grateful for it.

I hope you found something useful amid all of my rambling about blogging!
image 1: source unknown, graphic by me

12 Comments

  1. I love this post. I would have never thought how far blogging would come for us two years ago, planning that meet-up in the hub. You're awesome, and I can tell it's been so so good for you. I love you.

  2. I remember Brooke inviting me to that first meet-up! (And that marked my first realization that there was a bigger blogger world). Even a year and a half later, I'm still bummed I didn't go šŸ˜› And the last thing you need to do is loose 5 pounds, you look great šŸ™‚

  3. This is a great post for those like myself new to the blogger world. I have been blogging for a long time but have just recently become aware of the amazing blog world that exists and all the possibilities it holds! Thanks for sharing your story and wonderful insights!

  4. This is a great post! I have been blogging for a long time but am new to the wonderful blog world that exists and all it has to offer! I love your story and all your wonderful insights!

  5. Even though I've been blogging for almost two years now, this was so helpful to me! Thanks for sharing this. I've been more concerned about getting to the end result and not about the journey itself.

  6. I love this, I feel like none of us really knew what we were getting into when we started blogging…..I sure didn't! I definitely didn't know how time consuming it can be!!

    Carly
    http://www.lipglossandcrayons.com

  7. Wow! This is a super cool entry! I love blogging, and even though I've started and quit before, this time I'll be sticking around. I have a whole journey yet to document! šŸ™‚

    xo,
    Ana Paula
    {Visit me at Mommyhood, PhD}

  8. seriously an adventure.
    is it crazy to think about how we met over a year ago, through a blogger meet up? Crazy!
    thanks for all of the experiences together lady.
    miss you lots.
    and i hope you guys come visit us soon.

    K

  9. seriously an adventure.
    is it crazy to think about how we met over a year ago, through a blogger meet up? Crazy!
    thanks for all of the experiences together lady.
    miss you lots.
    and i hope you guys come visit us soon.

    K

  10. Hello sweetie.This is an amazing post!I have a few questions and would appreciate your answer. Do you monetize with RewardStyle and how do I get in.I asked, but never received any answer from them.
    Is there a good company to monetize my blog? Thank you for your time šŸ™‚ Please email me back: [email protected]
    http://fabuloustorture.blogspot.com

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