Practical tips for growing a blog.

September 21, 2017

 

There are so many hours that go into running a blog as a business. I started this blog back when Gabriel was just a toddler with no intention of it becoming a full time job! I was just a graphic designer fascinated by the blogs I was discovering, so I decided to start one as a creative hobby. As the blog grew, the time it demanded did as well.  I wanted to share some practical tips today for those hoping to make blogging a line of work. Things I know now, and wish I had known from the start!

 

 

 

(Photos of my usual creative process….paper and print all over the floor with a baby or two on the scene.
Images by Haley Sheffield)

 

Many times, I get questions about how I grew the blog or social platforms. I can’t say I ever had a strategy, and what helped is that I just happened to get into it at the right time before blogging really took off. There was a bunch of you that have been loyal readers since the start!  It may be much harder to break into the scene these days, but there are a few things that can really help…

1. Consistency – I put in many many hours before monetization was ever on the scene. I blogged every day for 3 years before I saw any financial income. Growing a blog may happen easier for some than others, but no matter what topic you blog about, when you are consistent in your content, you grow consistent readers. I never took off for a month at a time, even when I probably should have! Oh my gosh, as I type this I realize I haven’t had more than two weeks off in 7 years! Even after having a baby! Yikes I know. I gave up nights and weekends to invest in something my gut was telling me would be good for my family.

2. Narrow down your niche. There are so many great things I love to talk about, but I found that after narrowing down my topics, it was easier to identify what IHOD was about. This makes it much easier to focus your energy on the right things, as well as build an understanding for any visitor to know what to expect when they take the time to read. I could talk about food and coffee all day, but this blog was built around design and family.

3. Make a dream team list. A list of companies you would love to work with, small or big that may feel terrifying to think of approaching, but thrilling at the same time. Be genuine in your approach, and do some homework before hand. Find out the best contact info, and lead the email by name (vs. Hello!) . Pitch an idea that is hard to refuse, and be willing to create content for free if you may not have a big reach yet. I didn’t feel confident creating sponsored content until I actually proved I was worth investing in. I knew that time time spent was building a portfolio for my blog that could be used in the future. I always focused on making a partnership beneficial for both parties. For example, I pitched a campaign idea to 7 companies before one accepted. It would leave me with a pit in my stomach, but I knew the idea was good, and one was bound to accept. The one that accepted was Free People, and was one of my first big breaks I ever made on the style side of the blog!

4. I don’t like the word networking, so let’s call it finding your tribe. It helped me so much to find other bloggers in the same genre, to encourage and support each other. We would share each other’s content, offer feedback, share resources, etc. This still applies for me today and continues to be a big support.

5. Limit your time on social media. As a designer, artist, writer, or any other strength you are trying to share, it can be very tricky to come up with your own unique content when you compare for too long. When I scroll too much, I realize that my brain turns to mush. Instead of feeling like creativity is sparked, it feels like it is overwhelmed. There is so many people doing great things, but finding your soul stirring ideas won’t happen by browsing apps. It will happen through your own real life experiences, relationships, and things you can see, taste, and feel.

6. Study your traffic. Understand the patterns of why people visit your blog, and where they come from. It helped me narrow down my niche, and also cut out a lot of time wasting posts that were getting low traffic. If you want to secure sponsorships, and blog as a part time or full time job, brands almost ALWAYS look at your engagement on both blog and social platforms.

7. Make sure you have endurance for the marathon. Blogging takes more hours than you might imagine. Each post from concept to execution takes me 3-4 hours. If it is a bigger project like a room makeover, it can take weeks and weeks. If you don’t feel really determined or passionate about your work, than chances are burn out will come far too soon! That is why point #2 is so important to growing your blog.

8. It’s worth it to hire a developer. You only have a minute to make a first time impression on a visitor so you want to make it count. It helps if your site isn’t user friendly, mobile friendly (over 50% of my readers are mobile!), and has strong visuals. If it’s just a hobby it shouldn’t matter too much, but if you want to pursue it professionally, it is well worth hiring someone to help you establish a strong website!

9. Don’t blog for the purpose of making money. I can honestly say, that I never would have been able to make this blog our livelihood if I had focused on making money or making pageviews rise. I blocked out my fears of numbers and stats, and made one thing a focus: to make the most of the life in front of me, and share it along the way. I am not out for wealth, fame, or power. Now that this is a family business, Gabe and I’s focus is to make this a place that uplifts or offers a helpful idea. If we can do something we love that brings us more time as a family, than that is my definition of success.

Please let me know if you have any questions on this topic in the comments below and I will do my best to answer!  Thank you for reading!

 

 

Featured:
Anna- Top: ASOS / Denim: Levi’s / Embroidered Slip on shoes: The Fix   c/o
Azelie – Dress: Baby Gap /Bonnet: Petite Soul Shop

Leave a Comment

  • Anna,
    This is so helpful! I wish I had this info a year ago. Scrolling social media too often will definitely prevent creativity. I learned that the hard way. Thanks for all the tips!

  • Thank you for this, especially the tip about the niche. I’m still trying to narrow mine down!

  • Anna,

    Thank you so much for helpful tips. I started my blog little over a year ago, and I’m still just learning. I love your blog, and you are great inspirations (not only in blogging).
    Where do you get inspiration for your posts? There are seasons when I have too many ideas to execute, and then there are times when I have ‘nothing’ to write about. Do you experience something similar and what are your solutions?

    Thank you for creating beautiful content and sharing your family and home design with us!
    Katka.

    • Hi Katka, So happy this can be helpful. Thank you so much for the kind words! I totally know what you mean and experience creative dry spells all the time. It helps me when I do find the ideas coming to write them all down in my planner or on my phone to stock ideas so to speak. That way when I am out of ideas I at least have some concepts ready to use. I find ideas in different ways. I usually think of the story topic first and conceptualize the images after. Travel magazines and websites give me design inspiration, but real life experiences fuel the family topics. I try to think about what I myself would want to read or connect with! I bounce ideas off of my friends and sisters as well to make sure it is relevant to more than just me;) Congrats on starting a blog and sticking with it so far!

  • Such good tips, Anna. It is such a marathon!

  • Reading this post came at the perfect time for me. I am 4 weeks away from having my third baby, I have another business, and I am wondering what the heck I am doing spending time on my blog. But in my gut I know it’s something I want to be putting out there. I think your point about getting professional website help was really useful. I am not tech-savvy AT ALL and just hired someone to help with some technical things.

    One question I have is do you think there is an ideal formula for posting consistently? I know that consistency is key, but does that mean every day? twice a week? Once a week? If it helps, my niche is yoga & healthy lifestyle.

    Thanks for your beautiful content and helpful posts!

    • Anna,
      Thank so much for sharing insider tips to your success. It is such an eye opener and helps me to set a realistic expectation. I was totally getting frustrated but could not stop wanting to do another post. That’s when I knew this was right.

      I have found that comparing based on social media is the worst enemy and draws you away from your what your brand and delivery truly is. So thanks for that tap on the shoulder.

      Most of all, your advice on creating a dream team list and pitching campaigns was GOLDEN! However, how do you pitch ideas without sharing to much or giving away a good idea that could be potentially used without your involvement?

      • Hi Felicia, thank you so much for the kind comment! I am glad you blog because you enjoy it! It’s not worth blogging if it feels forced, but if it is something you really love, that will carry you through burn out!

        As far as pitching ideas, it should be a concept catered to the brand, so I was never too concerned about it being something they would copy considering they received multiple pitches a week. If it does feel like a concept that you want to product, don’t give too many details unless they commit to partnering first!

    • Hi Maria! Oh my gosh, that was so similar to my situation when I was about to have Rocco and running a few creative jobs. It felt like so much of my time was going into it. I am so glad I pushed through that pivot point though!

      Right now I am focusing on quality of the content and not the amount of posts I am getting up since we are in an era of online content where there is so much info and imagery people are consuming daily. Social media is where many people get their mini post fix! So I keep the bigger more thorough posts for the blog. I don’t think it’s really necessary to post daily. However, it is important to set up consistent patterns. I would say 3-4 posts is good, and if two is all you can do with a new baby, that is great too!

  • In our age the availability( social media & internet in general) is a chance but it is also an obstacle..especially when it comes to creativity. There are millions talented people, who already did what you are planing to do or who make a reality the idea you though was a creative one. Well, scrolling too much can make you fill as a “regular” person with regular ideas, as there are so many so far.. That is why a little less scrolling will help you to take a pleasure from what you do/come up with, even if it is not unique..but it is YOURS!

  • After years of tossing around the idea, I finally took the leap and started a blog last month. I’ve been so inspired by yours and many others and I just wanted to say thanks for sharing this! Very encouraging πŸ™‚

  • Thanks for bringing me back
    To center… social media makes
    Me stir crazy and lose
    Focus. I am passionate now I need to focus. Thanks for the beautifully written tips!

  • Thank you for this encouraging post.
    I just started blogging and your tips are helpful, especially being reminded that great content “will happen through your own real life experiences, relationships, and things you can see, taste, and feel.” #truth

    How do you suggest going about finding “my tribe”? I’d love to hear you went about finding and sustaining blogger friendships.

  • Love this advice!! I think nowadays a lot of people start blogs thinking they can easily replace their day job. Unfortunately, a lot of people don’t understand just how much work goes into it before you even make a dime. I blog about personal finance and blogging, and I really make sure to stress that success does NOT come overnight. Like you, it took me YEARS to make an income. And even now, my income is inconsistent.

    Thanks for the wonderful advice!!!

    -Sarah http://www.thefrugalmillionaireblog.com

  • Anna, I was just telling a friend about how valuable your blog is! Yours is the only one I find myself consistently coming back to for useful and relevant information! Congratulations, we are delighted for your family and look forward to everything you have in store!

  • Rachel Magree

    Loved loved reading this, Anna. That last paragraph, so good to see your “why” in words.

  • Anna,

    Thanks so much for sharing this! I too am a Graphic Designer with little ones and I just launched my blog a few weeks ago! Super exciting but I feel like I have so much to learn and it can all be a bit overwhelming. These are fabulous tips! I am trying to find the right balance right now between my design job, being a mama and running this blog and I know it will take a while to get into my groove :). It is my passion and something I have been dreaming about for a few years so that is what is fueling me πŸ™‚ I am hoping someday that I can transition to having my blog full time. It is such a rewarding feeling to be working on designs that are for my own work! I am bookmarking this page so I can re-read these tips as I (hopefully) continue to grow as a blogger! Your site and beautiful photos are such an inspiration!
    -Kirsten

  • Anna,
    Thanks so much for sharing this! I too am a Graphic Designer with little ones and I just launched my blog a few weeks ago! Super exciting but I feel like I have so much to learn and it can all be a bit overwhelming. These are fabulous tips! I am trying to find the right balance right now between my design job, being a mama and running this blog and I know it will take a while to get into my groove :). It is my passion and something I have been dreaming about for a few years so that is what is fueling me πŸ™‚ I am hoping someday that I can transition to having my blog full time. It is such a rewarding feeling to be working on designs that are for my own brand! I am bookmarking this page so I can re-read these tips as I continue to (hopefully) grow as a blogger! Your site and beautiful photos are such an inspiration! πŸ™‚
    -Kirsten

  • Anna, thank you for this beautiful post. I enjoyed and appreciated every bit of advice. My favorite was your focus: to make the most of the life in front of you and share it along the way. That’s exactly what I want to do, but it’s so easy to get caught up in “everything else”. I need to print this out and hang it on my refrigerator as a reminder:). Thanks again.

    • Laura, thank you for your kind comment. I truly appreciate it. I think it’s easy for things to get foggy when we don’t have our main goal in life at the forefront, so it has helped me to always go back to the root of it all! x

  • Wow!
    I’m living all these truths at the moment, as in not having any of it down, yet. Blogging is a fun thought, but when you see it on paper, it can be pretty scary. Thanks for thi! And although I may not start a blog persay, I do hope to start a business, and all of this equally helps. Thanks so much. I found you through StudioDIY’s insta, and I’m so glad I did.

  • Thank you for sharing!

  • Beth Carroccia

    Hi Anna , I just wanted to take this opportunity to tell you how much I enjoy reading your blog. Your authenticity shines through , your content is always interesting and of course your family is adorable . I look forward to future posts !

  • Thank you for this post! This helps a lot. Im just started a blog with three others Icelandic girls, and I think that makes it for me a little bit easier, at least I dont need to blog every day πŸ˜‰
    Please visit our blog CITYSCAPE : https://www.our-cityscape.com/

  • Anna,

    This is so helpful, and written so easy and precise. I love the last part about your business, your family and how you want the blog to help others, and have more time as a family.
    Love your blog, and you have a beautiful family.

    xx

    Carolina MJ | http://www.dearbabymj.com

Copyright © 2017 In Honor Of Design. Theme by Maiden Sites, Site hosting by Flywheel