What I Wish I Had Known Before I Started Blogging

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Blogging is a new profession, a little over a decade in the making. It’s constantly changing, and there’s so much to learn. Here’s what I wish I had known 10+ years ago.


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Can you really make money blogging?

That’s what I wondered over ten years ago when I started my first blog, Life as Mom. I hoped I could. I was four months pregnant with my sixth child; we were knee-deep in debt. I’d been freelance writing for parenting magazines for about two years, but I was desperate for a chance to get us a little more ahead.

I took the plunge in May 2008.

Since then blogging has offered me a chance to supplement our family’s income all while teaching my children at home. Blogging has allowed us to pay down debt, build savings, and even take the kids to Europe. In the process I’ve honed my writing skills and learned a ton of new things.

I’ve met some amazing people! Like you.

Whether with other bloggers or simply people who found my blog and started commenting, I’ve forged friendships — almost like pen pals — that I might not ever have had the opportunity for otherwise.

Blogging has also enabled me to check off some things on my bucket list, like meet one of homeschool heroeswrite a cookbook (or four!) and be on Good Morning America.

However, when I started as a blogger, it wasn’t really considered a career by most people. It certainly wasn’t something I could have studied in college; I didn’t even have an email address in college!

And for sure there wasn’t much information about how to blog and be successful.

Today, blogging is a respected and viable career path. And it might be just right for you!

I get lots of questions from readers and acquaintances about the mechanics of how to blog as a profession. A few months ago I shared my tips on How to Write a Blog and Be Successful. While I don’t have all the answers, I have seen some measure of success — at least in my terms.

There are still quite a few things that I’m still learning. This profession is constantly changing and evolving. That said, here are some some things that I wish I’d know about blogging at the beginning.

What I Wish I Had Known Before I Started Blogging

1. An email list is really important.

But why? I heard others say that it was really important to start building a email list. I had no clue why that was important. No clue.

Well, back in 2008, no one knew that Google Reader would eventually die or that social media platforms like Pinterest, Facebook, and Instagram would grow, send tons of people your way, and then all of a sudden stop doing that.

Algorithms change and social media has evolved. Life as Mom may have more than 27,000 followers on Facebook, but it doesn’t really matter if those followers don’t see what I post.

So here’s the reason why an email list is important — and why I’d love for you to subscribe to mine:

The email list is yours.

While there are proper practices to follow in terms of sending mass emails, the list and the ability to contact the folks on the list belongs to you. Not Google. Not Facebook. Not Pinterest. You.

Ah, gotcha. I wish I had known that 10 years ago! There are many readers I’ve lost touch with since our former ways of communicating have changed.


2. Being me is more important than being cool.

High school never really ends. No matter your profession, religion, or hobbies, there will always be an element of high schoolishness around. That comparison and competition that is amplified in the teen years endures forever, long after your big hair and skinny figure disappear.

While I’ve made some great friendships through blogging, I’ve also had some epic falling outs with other bloggers, some very much like myself. Sad!

I don’t do things “like a blogger should” and I try not to put up a fake front. Being me is more important, but that comes at a cost.

So, I’ve said no to business deals that could have been really lucrative, said no to major brands, said no to friendships that weren’t good for me, and ended up disappointing people.

One of my goals as a blogger has been not to shill, not to sell out, but instead to be honest with you and honest with myself. I certainly haven’t done this perfectly, and it doesn’t put me in the cool crowd as far as bloggers go, but I’m learning to be okay with that.

3. Things aren’t always what they seem.

Yes, blogging has been my career for the last 8 years and has led to some amazing opportunities. The truth is that it’s really, really hard. Writing professionally is not easy. Whether for a brand, a publishing house, or myself, it’s taken a lot of time and hard work.

This gig isn’t as easy as it seems. It’s been the source of late nights and sore butt syndrome from sitting at my computer. While there’ve been plenty of great benefits, it’s been a lot of hard work! Most of it very unglamorous and uncompensated.

I still love my job, though. 😉

4. I wish I’d taken this blog-based business course.

One of the best resources I know of to help you build a blog-based business is the Blog Smarter program. The program is only available a few times a year, so be sure to follow Jeni to find out when the next opportunity comes around.

I hemmed and hawed about taking the program for over two years and now kick myself for not having taken it sooner.

Through Blog Smarter I’ve discovered real strategies to grow my business without going crazy in the process. I’ve learned practical ways to build my email list, communicate with readers, and get off the crazy train called Doing All the Things.

Blog Smarter has changed ownership since I took the program, so I can’t really vouch for its benefits anymore.

Do you have a question about blogging?

Drop your questions in the comments section and I’ll do my best to answer them!

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  1. I saw your blog sometime soon after you started. Thinking about it gave me flashbacks to where we were living and what I was doing at the time. My life has changed a lot in the meantime!