Blogging Q & A.

Every few months I get inundated with questions about blogging from friends, family, readers both bloggers and non-bloggers alike. The hows, the whys, the whens and all that jazz. I decided I’d do a quick post on some of the most commonly asked info and link up to some helpful info other bloggers have shared on the ever important topic of blogging.

 

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How to get started:

I think the easiest platform to start with is blogger which is a Google platform. I started with that and switched over to a hosted blog on wordpress after I ran into some design snafus on blogger and also after I decided it was worth it for me to pay to have my blog hosted.

Why?

Well, here’s why not- I think the worst reason to start a blog is for money. There are millions and millions of blogs out there right now. Do NOT go into it to make money. Do it because you are passionate about something whether that’s fashion or parenting or writing. Don’t do it looking for fame and glory and money.

There are a lot of opportunities out there for bloggers, both financially and professionally but you won’t just get handed those opportunities starting out so make a plan, get engaged, find a following and a groove.

I think the best reason TO blog is if you have a story to share. Maybe you’re a really creative cook so you want to share recipes. Maybe your spouse travels a lot for work and blogging is a way of coping and creative outlet. Maybe you just want a way to keep up with friends and family. I believe we all have a story to share and anyone can be a blogger, even if it’s just for you and just for fun.

I started blogging “just for fun” almost 9 years ago now. As I started writing more and doing some freelance work, my readership went up and opportunities presented themselves.

Speaking of money, Do you really make money?

This is the most common question I am asked. YES. I do. {I love this post Hollywood Housewife wrote about how bloggers make money, too!}

The majority of my income comes in three different ways: freelance writing/social media work, sponsored posts here and affiliate links.

What does this mean to readers? Most of the freelance writing/social media work I do I don’t link to here. Sometimes I will if it fits in but mostly I don’t.

I try to only accept sponsored content that fits for me, my family, my lifestyle AND my readers. I turned down a really, really good sponsored opportunity just a few months ago because it was really NOT me at all. I got an email awhile back from someone who was unsubscribing from my blog because she didn’t like the sponsored content. It made me feel icky but that said, I have really worked hard to try to balance that. And also? it’s my livelihood. {Sponsored content comes from many sources including PR agencies, companies direct and groups I belong to such as Mom It Forward, MomSpark, Collective Bias, Massive Sway and Global Impact.}

Affiliate links are bloggers little secrets even though they aren’t so secret. I use and love affiliate links. Some of the companies I am an affiliate with are: Tiny Prints, Tea Collection, Gymboree. When I link to or share a deal or write something about these companies and you click on my link and make a purchase, I receive commission. One of the worst things you can do to a blogger you like is decide to just type in the web address to the site you plan on shopping from when a blogger is linking you to a deal. {I’ve had several people tell me they’ve done this when buying Christmas cards through Tiny Prints. Please use my link!}

I truly do love and enjoy working with the affiliate companies I work with. I choose to work with them and every word I ever write about them is true. I really love Tea Collection dresses for little girls. I love the quality of Gymboree kids clothes. And we use Tiny Prints every chance we get for stationary and holiday card products. I will NEVER share a deal or product that I don’t personally think is relevant or worth it. If I say, this is a great deal on jeans at Gymboree, I mean it’s a great deal on jeans at Gymboree and I’m stocking up.

PS Tea Collections is currently accepting new affiliates and if you have a website or blog and want to join, now’s the time!

Some bloggers use and share Groupon and Living Social deals, I do if it’s something that is local or that I know people I know will use or be interested in but really don’t on a regular basis.

I do use zulily links and frequently share the deals that I personally love or am taking advantage of. {Stitch Fix is another referral program.}

While I offer advertising and this used to be a bigger part of my income, it’s slowly changed. My BlogHer ads are managed by BlogHer and I receive money based on page impressions. I do some self hosted ads that I charge on a monthly or bi-annual basis which are flat rate versus page views.

I also do get “free” things. Some unsolicited. Some I know are coming. Some for reviews, some for compensation or in exchange of work.

When?

The second most commonly asked question I get is when I blog. You really don’t want to know. Where some bloggers carve out time each day to work on posts and plan ahead I can only dream of that.

I still consider Tuesdays and Thursdays my “work” days even with F home because she takes two naps a day and really, I can get some work done with her. That said, a lot of times I try to work on actual paid work first before working on personal blog stuff. I also spend most evenings once the kids are in bed writing or reading other blogs, articles and social media.

I always keep a running list of ideas that I want to share or write about. If there was more time in the day, I’d get to them all but alas sometimes a few weeks go by and what I wanted to say no longer feels relevant.

But what about privacy?

Every blogger has to make their own decisions about what they will and will not write about online. What’s sacred. I’ve noticed and felt as our kids get older there is less I feel inclined to share and while I still have this platform I have to adapt to be respectful of their privacy and story, too. I switched to using initials after I decided I didn’t want my blog to show up when my kids’ names were google-d.

I also try to be cognizant about what friends and family might want shared or not shared. Their perspective might be different than mine but it’s important to not cause hurt and misunderstandings either. Relationships are worth more than blog fodder.

Social media-

When I started blogging, social media wasn’t really a part of the game. Facebook took off, then Twitter, Instagram. Now there’s Pinterest and Google Plus and who knows what else is to come. You must engage. Share. Converse. {I’m really bad at Pinterest and Google Plus so far but some bloggers are really making those tools work!}

I also think that while a good chunk of followers/likes is a good thing, it means nothing if you are not connected. If all you are doing is spouting off links and expecting people to read/comment/share, it’s not going to work. Engage, connect, share other blogs, articles, information.

And if you ever want to give me a gift, SHARE a post you really like via your social media. Not every post, not every day but sharing is the current currency in blog-land.

More info-

This list compiled by another Minnesota blogger, Jen at Life with Levi, is phenomenal and has 36 Answers to Common Blogging Questions. 

What other blogging questions do you have? If you have a blog, share it in the comments. And if you’re a blogger what other tried and true tips and tricks, dos and don’ts, do you have when it comes to blogging? I’ll try to either update this post or post a new post with other info that comes up.

*Disclosure: I used affiliate links in this post.

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