Part 2: My Blogging Journey

This Post May Contain Affiliate Links. Please Read my Disclosure Policy.

Today I am continuing to Part 2 of my post about my blogging journey. If you missed Part 1, you can read it, here. 

Before I pick up where I left off, thanks for all the emails and comments you left last week. XO

I am happy to know that you enjoyed the post and want to know more. I will try to cover everything and answer all the questions that were asked in this series.

My blogging journey continued…

After quitting my job to start life as a full-time blogger, I had to look at what I needed to do to make it a success and that meant I needed content, lots of content that readers would be interested in and that would keep them coming back. Creating content became my 9-5… more like 9-11 job, although it never felt like work.

Daren Rose Blogging quote

To become more productive, I redesigned my studioffice so it was set up for all the “blogger hats” I needed to wear to get a post completed. I needed a space to create projects, a bright space to take photos, and a place to write and take care of the business end of things. I feel lucky that I had a dedicated space in my home to do this.  It is my favorite room in the house and where I spend most of my day, except if I am off to buy supplies at the craft or paint store during the week.

Diane-Henkler-In-My-Own-Style-Studioffice-craft-room

Once I had the room redesigned, it was much easier to work on a few projects at once. As the paint was drying on a piece of furniture, I could be taking photos of a gift tag I made for another post.

Having everything handy and the space to lay it all out to work on helped me to create continuously.  As my content grew so did the linking to my posts/projects from other sites.

Back in the early days, blogging was a bit different.  It was more community/niche based, chatty and not Pinterest-perfect.  Link parties were how we were found and I know this is the number one way I grew my blog.

I found my readers through the link parties. Big link parties I joined weekly were Funky Junk Interiors, Tatertots and Jello, Today’s Creative Blog, Tip Junkie, Home Stories A-Z, Under the Table and Dreaming…and many more.

Link Party Bloggers

There were also seasonal link-ups where a group of bloggers would host a week long link-up with a different theme (Fall, Mantels, Wreaths, etc) and blog each day. They were very popular and brought readers to unknown and new blogs. When Pinterest came on the scene, link parties became less popular since Pinterest was the new way for bloggers to get their content found. Pinterest was a game changer for many, but I do miss the early days when the link parties kept us more community-focused.

When a popular website links or features another blogger’s post, the blogger can see their pageviews go up substantially in a day.  One of my most popular posts and it still is to this day is the Tuna Can Lantern I made back in 2011. I was a year and a half into blogging when I posted it.

I get comments and emails from all over the world and have seen it posted in a few different languages. I get a little upset when I see the scraper sites use all my photos or create their own graphics using my photos to post it and call it their own.  As a blogger this is something we deal with every day – stolen content. Featuring a blogger’s project is different from stealing content and is completely acceptable. This is when a site uses one photo from the original post and then says why they like it with a credit and link back to the originating site.

A few weeks after I first posted the tuna can lantern, two large and reputable sites featured it on the same day. My blog traffic went through the roof and my blog couldn’t handle the huge spike in traffic and it crashed, not once, but 3 times that day.  I learned that I would have to up my bandwidth which meant paying more monthly to host my blog. After I upgraded my hosting account to a larger shared server, my blog could handle the spikes, but only for a few months as another big uptick in traffic came and I had to upgrade to my own server. Hosting a blog costs money unless you blog on the free platform owned by Google, called Blogger. I use WordPress.org and pay for hosting every month.

The tuna can lantern helped me to make my way as a blogger. After that big spike my daily traffic picked up and kept growing. This is when I started to make enough money to support Ed and I.

Which brings me to the #1 question I am asked when someone finds out that I am a blogger.   How do you make money? I know if you are a blogger, you are nodding in agreement. :-)

It took me a while to learn how to monetize my blog. I learned all of it by attending the blog workshops and conferences that I mentioned in Part 1 of this series.

How to make money blogging

Bloggers in general can make money several different ways; it all depends on the blog niche and each blogger’s goals for their blog.  The most popular way to make money is through banner ads, but depending on the blog and niche there are also sponsored posts and affiliate advertising. Some bloggers have a product to sell, be it a handmade item, a line of paint, or a few ebooks or web courses.  Most bloggers have a little bit of all these so that if one stream dries up, they can still support themselves. I am no different and need to rely on a few different avenues to provide a full-time income.

One of my main sources of income comes from network advertising. Network ads are the ones you see on a blog/website’s sidebar or above their logo (header). They usually have a little mark on them, but not always, that says AdChoice.

How online ad networks work for bloggers

When you see the AdChoice symbol, it means the ad is from an ad network. How it works – A blogger puts code on their site from the ad network. When a reader types in a blog address and the blog/website page opens up, that ad network code reads your browser in a nanosecond and displays an ad that is relevant to you.

Yes…you can say “Big Brother”. George Orwell had the right idea when he wrote 1984; he just had the name wrong…it is not ‘”Big Brother” it is called “Google”.

I copied these two ads (above) from my sidebar  – you will never see a LiquidWeb ad unless you are a blogger or have a website.  Birch Lane is a decorating site. Both of these ads are targeted directly to me. The ad network doesn’t know this is my blog but they do know my browsing interests.

One of Ed’s buddies came over a while ago and said, “Di, you have the best ads on your site, how do you get them…Nike Golf,  Mercedes, Titleist?” I had to laugh and tell him that the ads are targeted exclusively to him. If you put your computer on a table next to mine and we both opened my blog up on each of our computers at the same time, the network ads would display different ads. I might see a Target ad since I was looking for sandals a few days ago on their site, but you may see an ad from Macy’s since you happened to be shopping for a bracelet recently.

These ads are targeted to you and bloggers have no control over them except to say, I don’t want ads that pop-up, fly-out, or have audio.  Sometimes a few of these slip through, but that is all the control I have. During the last presidential election, I got a few angry emails from readers asking me how could I support so and so and to take their political ad off my site. All of these readers were from Ohio, which was a battleground state in the election. Ohio readers were being targeted big time by the politicians. I had to explain that I don’t have control over this and that it would only be temporary. Once the election was over they would stop.

Bloggers make money from these ads every time you look at a page on their site. If you click around to a few posts, each page you land on is called a pageview.  The more pageviews a blogger gets, the more income they make.  Bigger and more prominent ads equals more money.  Right now, banner ads on the bottom of the photos in a blog post are becoming popular because the money is so good it is hard for a blogger to say no.

Driftwood finish

The other type of banner advertising come from private ads. These ads may look like network ads but they are from a company that chose a blog exclusively and pays the blogger directly for a given amount of time to keep that ad on a sidebar. These ads show up for everyone on every pageview. They are not targeted to you alone, but to all readers since they usually have something to do with what the blog is about. I have complete control over these and keep three spots open for ads like this. I determine how much to charge for these spots on a monthly basis.

Another way bloggers make money is through affiliate advertising. Affiliate marketing is a strategy where a blogger promotes someone else’s products, and they earn a commission on every sale they generate. Fashion bloggers monetize their blogs this way.  They post an outfit and link to all the sources where you can purchase every part of it down to the smallest accessory.

Home Decor bloggers do these posts too…in inspiration or mood boards for a room design showing an image of the items and linking to the sites where readers can buy them. If you click the links in the posts over to the site and purchase it, then the blogger makes money. The percentages for each click or pageview can vary, but more popular blogs receive more money from the advertisers.

Amazon, Target, and most big brands with websites have affiliate programs.  There are even sites that collect the code for bloggers and make it easy to create posts with links.

My blog is what is called “Evergreen”.   A post from a fashion blogger who posted about an outfit found at Nordstroms 3 years ago is not evergreen. Their old posts don’t hold much value after the initial few months, where mine do. The tuna can lantern is a perfect example. It is still relevant. That is why it is called evergreen.  If I had links to many products in my posts, they would all become broken when the product was sold out. This takes time to upkeep and is why I don’t use affiliates that much and rely more on banner advertising.

The other way I make money is through sponsored posts. When you see a sponsored post on my blog, please know that I like and am excited about the product. I get dozens of sponsored post opps in my inbox weekly. I reject 98% of them.

I only do a sponsored post if I like or think you, my reader, would benefit. Sponsored content compensation can vary from company to company. Some only pay in product, but most pay in dollars and product. Every blogger has to decide for themselves what to charge; there is no set formula on compensation.

DIY home decorating project sites

Another way I make money is by writing for other sites as an expert. In my case, it is painting and DIY projects. I write a post monthly for the Glidden paint blog, My Colortopia and for True Value Hardware’s DIY blog.

The compensation I make from all of these is how I support myself.  Bloggers can really boost how much revenue they can bring in on a monthly basis if they have products to sell or lots of downloads that consistently bring readers to their blog such as fonts, printables, or an online course.

Working with ad networks can become a full-time job all in itself.  I recently signed up with a company to manage it all for me as it was becoming way too time-consuming and taking me away from the creative side of my blog.  I give them a percentage of what I make, but it is worth it to me…one less hat to wear.

I will continue my blogging journey next week with how I learned photography, Photoshop, and how I get a project from inspiration to a completed post.

Do you know what the best thing you can do for a blogger is?

  • Share their content…on Facebook, Twitter, Pinterest, and G+. The more shares a post gets, the power of Google says…“this site must be good” since it is getting attention. It then boosts the standings of the blog in their search algorithm. When a blogger’s post shows up at the top of the first page in a search engine result page (SERP), this brings in more readers and pageviews for the blogger to make their living sharing their world with you.

Click here to continue reading:  Part 3 of My Blogging Journey

 

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14 Comments

  1. I have found your blog inspiring. I am beginning to understand what makes an excellent Blog, Thank You, one thing that I feel will let me down is the photography side I have a camera and enjoy taking pictures, I can not call my self a professional lol, how do bloggers get their pics so right.
    Thank you for sharing and Good Luck I will of course be following you x

  2. I have a home very similar to your in design, so i am wondering what room did you use to transform in to your office/blogging space??

    1. Hi Theresa – On the builders model, the room was marked Formal Living Room. When you walk in the front door, it is the room on the left of the foyer. Since we had a family room there was no need for a living room that would never be used. We made it an office the day we moved in. I claimed it mine early on.:-)

  3. Thsnks for the behind the scenes look at blogging. Now I’ve got to check out that tuna can light!

  4. Diane, thank you so much for sharing all this- who knew??? I want to echo what Joanne B said above- I love how your blog reflects YOUR voice and I never feel like I’m being “sold to” when I visit. Yours is one of the VERY FEW blogs that I always click through from my email to visit the site. Thank you for your hard work- your content is great!

  5. Diane, this has been so interesting to me. I would love to do what you are doing eventually, but I realize it is not the just sit around and post, make crafts and have tons of free time. I’ve heard of bloggers who have started while still keeping a full time job. I don’t know how they do it! I am looking forward to your next segment and thank you for being so honest about the benefits including the hard work that is put into being a blogger. Can’t wait for the photography lesson. Although I don’t have a blog I do sell vintage items on Etsy and good photos are always a plus. Thank you for the informative posts!

  6. Thank you for these informative posts! I’ve always enjoyed your posts and look forward to reading them. You have done a lot of work to be successful, and earned every bit of it! Xxoo

  7. Thanks so much for Part 2 of your blogging story. I admire your perseverance and creativity and your willingness to share your knowledge. I need to bookmark your blogging posts for future reference! Looking forward to reading about your photography.

  8. Diane, another great post. I love hearing about how your’e earning your income. I’m just starting to make a little bit of income from my blog. I have been blogging since June of 2013. I joke that I would be much further ahead if I had worked for McDonalds the last couple of years! But, I love blogging, so it’s all worthwhile to me. Thanks, and I look forward to the next post in this series.

  9. Diane-
    Wow! Who knew? I must admit I am one of this blog readers who was secretly (and maybe e not so secretly) jealous/envious of those bloggers who get to stay home and just write about their home, etc. Was I ever wrong! There certainly is a lot to do and I can see now how you certainly work for your money like any other job- if not more so. I would imagine you are always thinking of your next post and everything you look at or do is seen from the vantage point of how you could us that for your blog. Congrats to you for growing your own success! I have always enjoyed your posts and always got the feeling that you did personally endorse whatever you wrote about, unlike many many others that I have noticed are getting more and more business like and everything is a ‘sponsored post’ or an ‘affiliate link’. They appear to have sold themselves out and their blogs have become less personal and more commercial. I can honestly say I have never got that feeling from you and I wanted to encourage you to never sell yourself like these others have. Keep up the good work and you deserve every penny you make because I am sure you pay for it with lots of stress for a job I’ll bet you wouldn’t change for the world! Good job Diane!

  10. I’m speechless except to say, I wish I had your know-how. I would love to be home creating, cooking and gardening and getting paid for it. Hat’s off to you!
    -Lisa