15 Things I’ve learned after 3 years of blogging!
It’s summertime and it’s scorching hot outside. The United States is in the midst of a super hot heat wave and I’m so grateful to have air conditioning and stay cool. It’s during this time that I came to realize that Impurrfectlife is celebrating 3 years! I can’t believe how time flies. Three years ago, I decided to hit the “publish” button on my first blog post and never looked back.
I started my blog, Impurrfectlife.com in an effort to share my journey to finding healing post pet loss in hopes my experience could help someone else find validation and healing too. While the reason for starting my blog involved helping to heal hearts, I also learned there is a big world out there full of opportunities.
So, what have I learned after 3 years of blogging? I’ve discovered in many ways some things are consistent while some other things have definitely changed. Let me share with you the lessons I’ve learned thus far. Perhaps you can relate.
- Sometimes is costs money to make money.
Have you ever heard that saying, “It takes money to make money?” After blogging for 3 years I now understand this a bit more. When I say this statement, I’m talking about advertising and spreading the word about your brand.
I understand that some people pay for followers on social channels like Instagram, but I’m interested in organic followers. I want people to click that follow or like button because they like and identify with my content not bots.
However, what I’ve learned is that social media is a large part of how people find my blog. And at the same time, as much as I spend time daily sharing, posting comments and so on, I’m only one woman. I can’t do everything myself. This is where spending money comes into play.
I discovered the world of Facebook Ads. This is not to be confused with “Boosted” posts but creating ads with the purpose of having people go to your site. It took me quite a while to figure out a good mix of demographics to get high engagement but I think after months of trying I figured it out.
How much do I spend? I’m on a super tight budget so to test my Facebook ad feedback, I started out with $10 per month. Now I’m at about double that amount. I’ve seen about a 50% increase in my page views. With this added traffic to my blog, I have greater chance of getting ad revenue or revenue from affiliate marketing as readers explore different posts I’ve written.
Overall, it doesn’t have to cost an arm and a leg in order to gain more exposure and advertise your blog. It just takes time, a little research and a lot of trial and error.
- It’s still a lot of work and maintenance
It’s been 3 years and one thing remains the same. Blogging takes a lot of time and work! Also, there is the issue of dealing with back end maintenance of your blog too.
I touched on these points in my prior posts regarding expenses like renting a P.O. Box, or paying domain fees, etc. These are all ongoing maintenance expenses.
Blogging is fun but also work and a full-on commitment. I think many people starting a blog, do not take into account the long-term aspects of maintaining a blog. I knew when researching starting a blog that I had to be willing to keep this in mind.
I’m fortunate enough to have help on the back end on the technical side to help me, but again, that’s an investment long term. And tech support does not handle everything. I still had to figure out how to place coding in widgets and side- bars and choose themes for my blog to get the look I wanted.
A lot goes into a blog. It’s more than just writing content and very time consuming.
- Having an organizer helps maximize productivity
Speaking of time, after three years of blogging I definitely know the value of having an organizer and a planner. Using a calendar planner helps me stay on task with blog content as well as remind me to track my analytics, send invoices and send out my weekly email notifications for my Impurrfectlife insiders.
It’s also a great way to track my monthly goals, make personal notes and track my growth. I’m a bit old fashioned and love notebook organizer but I realize it’s 2019 and you can do the same thing electronically using G-suite, Evernote or some other application/software. Either way staying organized is essential.
- I’m not back end tech savvy
One thing I know I need to work on is educating myself more on the back end of blogging. Specifically, learning more about the additional features and plugins available to me to help me keep my blog up and running smooth, increase my own personal knowledge as well as increase efficiency.
A perfect example of what I’m talking about happened to me a few months ago. I received word from my hosting company that they were performing back end maintenance for 2 days. (It later ended up being two weeks!) When my blog was updated, I discovered the dashboard looked different and wanted to explore a bit and try different icons to see which ones did a particular function.
To my surprise, one of the icons that I never saw before that now appeared since the update included a whole 2.5 years of backlog inquires from readers, sponsors, and companies. What!!! I had no idea. All these people’s messages went into a spam account I never knew existed. It was not until this recent update with easily accessible features, that I discovered this.
I felt so bad. I try to be very good about responding to genuine non-spammy messages, especially from bereaved pet parents just wanted to share their feelings or express gratitude for finding my blog. All this time and I never knew. So, let me just formally say I apologize if anyone reading my blog and messaged me, never heard back. I wasn’t ignoring you, I just did not get your message!
Seeing this made me realize that I still have so much more to learn on the back end. What can I say, I’m a work in progress.
- Getting your content seen with new algorithm changes is hard
Another thing I’ve come to realize in this blogging journey is that things are always changing. Specifically, algorithms are always changing so it makes our content harder to be seen. Yes, it’s not fair. From YouTube to Facebook and many other social platforms, the dynamics of how our content gets seen is always changing.
Unfortunately, it’s never any easier either. What I have tried to do is not overly stress about numbers too much, but it is important to have my content viewed by my followers and potential new readers.
In order to help stay on top of what’s changing I try to search out content that specifically talks about these changes. YouTube is a great resource I like to use. Also, a simple Google search as to when the best time to post on social media is helpful.
I’ve learned just as every audience is different, every social channel is different when talking about prime times for optimum engagement. So, I’ve learned to not post willy nilly but have a strategy. It’s best to curtail your content posting schedule to the specific time frames for each social channel that has the highest engagement.
- Finding the social channels that work best for you takes effort, trial and error.
Another facet of blogging I found out so late in my journey is discovering which social channels bring me the best traffic. From the very beginning I wanted to make sure I diversified my delivery of content on many social channels.
However, with time and experience I learned not everything is for everybody and sometimes you have to scale back. If posting on one social medium is not bringing desired results over a period of time, scale back. Invest your time in what is working, not that which is stagnant.
Although I invested in a lot of time on Twitter and Facebook, I find I get greater engagement through Facebook. And ironically, even though I don’t spend a large amount of time on Pinterest, I get a good amount of traffic through that channel as well.
Instagram and YouTube are video and image bases sharing apps with a lot of content and are very popular. However, although I do share my content on Instagram, I don’t retain my followers as well as Pinterest, Facebook and Twitter.
Through trial and error, I’ve learned that the more consistent you are with posting the easier it is to maintain your base of followers. Perhaps I’m just not built for Instagram, but I’m going to keep it for now.
I’m learning to invest my time more into social channels that I can clearly see produce engagement and shares. I’m learning to do what’s best for my core readers and not pay so much attention to what is the hottest trend at the moment. What works for many may not be the thing that works best for your blog. And that’s okay.
- Sticking to a routine/schedule is important
After a couple of years of blogging and practicing work life balance I’ve learned that having a routine or set schedule is important. Having a semi- flexible routine is important to me. It provides me the ability to management my time the way I want and have that balance.
Having a weekly routing helps me to manage my time accordingly and stay on task. If I don’t have any schedule or routine to go my, my mind will wander off. I won’t stay on task and get easily distracted.
Not having a routine or schedule is the fastest way for me to get off task. When you are not on task you cannot reach your goals. And then before you know it weeks or months have passed by and your productivity is down and then you feel bad because you know your lack of focus was to blame. This is true in many areas of my life including blogging, fitness and personal planning. I do my best with a strategic plan and execution.
- Finding additional ways to make money
One thing that I’ve learned since leaving my NYC day job is that there is a whole big remote world out here. Who knew? There are so many virtual opportunities I never knew existed.
It’s 2019 and the world is changing and working from home has been a reality for many people already. This trend is not going to slow down any time soon. Saving companies millions of dollars in expenses from food costs to certain benefits, many companies are adapting this remote work trend.
People are more productive when working from home and companies can save big money. Remote workers can have more flexibility, better work-life balance and save on commute and wardrobe expenses. It’s a win win.
Honestly, when I left my day job to try blogging, I knew it would be hard but it’s even harder to get started. Currently, I work part time from home and do other work outside the home too. I’ve discovered a whole host of different work from home opportunities (and I’ll have to write a separate blog post about that later).
Let me know in the comments if that’s a topic you’d be interested in!
As it relates to blogging, you can earn money. I’ve been able to earn passive income from blogging but not full-time income by any means. I have so much growing to do and quite frankly, success in making full time income blogging does have to do with your niche.
There aren’t many people out here making blogs about “Dealing with life after pet loss” as compared to “How to make money from home” blogs. Some niches are just more in demand and popular.
After three years, I’ve learned a few ways you can create income. First, Google ads or AdSense. However, this income is on the very low end. You earn a few cents here and there based on clicks on your ads.
Secondly, you can sell ad space on your blog. Have space in your side bar? Promote that for sale. I didn’t even think about this idea until someone reached out to me about advertising their site on my blog. Sometimes the opportunities come right to you.
Next, earning through referrals and affiliate marketing are other avenues to make money too. There are some many companies with affiliate marketing. Companies like Amazon Associates give you a kick back when referring customers to an Amazon product online using a referral link. Referral links are popular in a variety of industries and products, from art supplies to virtual employee referrals. People are making passive income online just by referrals.
Additionally, you can create your own products as well. Have you seen my Redbubble shop? I personally use all these tools and sell reproductions of my own art through Redbubble.com. With every sale I earn a kickback in commission.
These are just a few ideas I’ve learned over the past 3 years and I’m still discovering more opportunities. Have you heard of these opportunities? Share your thoughts in the comments.
- Self-care is important
One of the biggest and most important lessons I’ve learned is about self-care. As I write this post, I’m still recovering from a knee injury that had me laid up for almost a week off my feet. I’m now feeling better and seeing improvement so I’m back to writing.
I found it is so easy to get trapped in the social media vortex of posting, sharing and commenting. Then after that, you start to brainstorm and write your heart out. And then repeat it all over again all while having other life commitments. It’s easy to reach a point of burnout.
It’s important to take social media breaks and also rest. As much as the world of information is so easily accessible, it’s overwhelming too. Our mind and bodies need a break.
This leads me to my next realization. I had to listen to my body. The last time I remember this so vividly was when it was time to put in my notice from my old day job. Your intuition and body will tell you it’s time for a change.
When you feel yourself tensing up, not sleeping as easy as you used to or have brain fog and an expanding waistline, something has to change. Nothing is more important than your health and happiness. You cannot put a price on these things.
Our bodies are extraordinary but not invincible. To help ourselves it’s also vital to stay active and flexible. Now admittedly I’m the last person to preach about fitness as I’m fluffy myself so this is why I always express I’m a work in progress and have often times fallen off the wagon. I don’t know about you but I’m THAT girl that does well on an exercise regimen for a few months and then here comes holiday time and I fall off the wagon all Winter into Spring. And let’s not forget about carbs and chocolate. Yes, that’s my Kryptonite. (Can I get a witness?) But, as the weather warms up, I start to get in gear again.
However, this year I accidently injured my knee and per doctors’ orders “No strenuous exercise”. So, with my recovery in mind and quest to heal and improve fitness I focus on light strength exercises for my legs and focus on stretching and simple yoga.
In the past few weeks yoga and stretching has really helped me in my recovery (slowly but surely). I have more range of motion and more stability and strength compared to when I first got injured.
Injuries aside, maintaining a healthy mind and body is important for our physical health and mental sanity as well. So, don’t get to the point of burning yourself out and take a much-needed break if you need to. You’re worth it.
- Things get out of my control
Several weeks ago, I received notification that there would be some website updates happening for two days during the week. Well, as luck would have it those two anticipated days of maintenance turned in to almost two weeks.
I’ve learned that that sometimes things don’t go as planned and that includes website maintenance updates. For the first time in almost three years I could not post to my schedule and also could not even access my blog, due to these updates.
Sometimes the unexpected happens with your blog and it’s beyond your control. So how did I handle it? I had to roll with the punches and keep my readers informed. I sent a notification email to my Impurrfectlife Insiders letting them know blog maintenance was happening but would post content on my other social channels. And I had to let my readers and followers know to stay tuned.
I think when it comes to the unexpected occurrences in life, it’s best to keep your readers in the loop. Keep them informed. As a person that’s consistent I want to maintain that expectation and transparency. I think people appreciate that.
- Need to incorporate video content
With every passing year I can clearly see that video content is king. I’m a YouTube fan myself. In terms of my blogging journey I definitely can say that some of my most engaging content is in video format.
Incorporating more video content in my blog is a personal goal I’m tying to accomplish. Do I have DSLR cameras and fancy recording equipment? Nope. I just have my smartphone and a laptop with good video quality.
I do the best I can with the knowledge and equipment I have for now. However, I know that adding more videos to my YouTube channel is a blogging goal I’m looking to accomplish. Having access to blog like Dash Kitten is awesome because it’s a great resource to have when trying to figure out how to take the best camera and video of your pets like a professional. Dash kitten has great tips to help both novices and more experiences bloggers get the perfect shot! You can check out the blog here!
Here is just one sample of my You Tube video experience from last year! (4 min)
- Revamping content is necessary for growth
One aspect of blogging I came to understand is that in order to be able to grow and flourish I would have to change. I knew I wanted to cover topics like pet loss and living life after such a traumatic event.
However, I also knew with time, I’d grow to move forward and want to cover topics beyond grief and find joy. Hence, this is why I now incorporate inspirational posts on my blog. I found that by growing and expanding my content my readers enjoyed it and wanted this type of content too.
As a multi-faceted person, I never stick with one thing for long. I like building upon my interests like a bricklayer builds a foundation to a home. I personally want to build my blog to cover grief after pet loss, then finding joy and inspiration through life quotes and art.
Now that it’s been 4 years since Dusty’ s passing and 3 years since starting my blog, I have in recent months found a new joy in being a foster mom. These new experiences as a foster mom is something that has brought new found joy in my life. And sharing this new type of content brings a new dimension of joy, interest and fun for my readers.
I think as bloggers we don’t necessarily need to lock ourselves into one dimension but rather be willing to grow, expand and try new content. I personally know many content creators I follow online that have started one direction and now are in a new phase of life. I’ve been on the journey with them for years and could not be happier to do so and support their social channels.
I hope that my content continues to bring my readers value and joy for the long haul.
- Listening to readers is key
Speaking of my lovely readers, I’ve also come to learn that listening is key. I value constructive criticism. I’m fortunate enough to have been on this blogging journey and received insightful, valuable and heartfelt critiques from fellow pet bloggers.
What I appreciate most is that critiques are coming from a place of love and genuine desire to help you be your best. I not only value the feedback but I’m also learning at the same time.
I don’t know everything and I’m more than willing to learn from those who are more seasoned than myself. To my readers and fellow bloggers that have given me feedback, I appreciate you.
- I’m still learning and don’t know everything
I’m three years in and still learning. Do I know everything? Absolutely not! However, the greatest tools I’ve learned to use in my blogging journey is reading and researching information, trial and error, sharing experiences with other seasoned bloggers and using YouTube!
The world of information is ever changing and evolving. If there is one thing I know to be true, it is that the art of storytelling and sharing will continue to thrive. It has been around for thousands of years in many forms and will continue long after my twilight years have come and gone.
Make the most of your time. Never stop learning. Don’t be afraid to try something new and fresh. Know that sharing your own personal journey is a testimony to help someone else in the world.
- Remember it’s a marathon not a sprint!
Lastly, I always have to remember, my blogging journey is a marathon and not a sprint. There are so many successful bloggers out there with a large following. It’s inspiring and sometimes a bit intimidating to be honest. However, I have to keep reminding myself that this life is a marathon and not the 100-meter dash.
Take time to enjoy the small milestones along the way. I’m learning as I go and hold my loyal readers and followers close to my heart. I thank you for your support thus far and beyond. I hope you’ll stick with me on my blogging journey with Impurrfectlife for years to come.
Let me know in the comments…Are you a fellow blogger? What lessons have you learned in your blogging journey? Do any of these lessons resonate with you?
Are you a pet parent? What is your favorite content from the blog? Do you enjoy my fostering adventures, art or inspirational quotes? Share your thoughts below!
Don’t forget to share and pin this post with a friend!