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What I’ve Learned in 12 Years of Blogging

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This website launched 12 years ago. Twelve blog years feels like twenty years. It seems like so few people stick with blogging for this long. I am probably part of a teeny tiny percentage of bloggers who have had the same blog name and URL for over a decade.

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The crazy thing about being a professional blogger is that this career didn’t exist when I was in college. It wasn’t something I could study; it was something people learned by doing. Now, colleges are offering courses like The Art and Business of Blogging. Blogging has gone from something seen as a hobby to a viable career. When I quit my 9-5 job eight years ago, I received comments about how I “wasn’t working anymore”. People didn’t understand that blogging was a job. Things have changed so much!

Here are some of the most important lessons that I have learned in my 12 years as a blogger:

It’s ok to do things your way.

Some professional bloggers make their money via advertising on their websites. Others write sponsored content. Another group focuses on social media. For most, it’s a combination of these income sources. Personally, I like to focus on ad income since it is passive income and it provides a steady paycheck each month.

Ignore the haters, but keep a record for legal purposes.

People can be extra crazy when they are in front of a screen. I have certainly dealt with trolls and online hate. I keep a file of screenshots and messages from trolls so that I have evidence if I ever need it.

Pay attention to the parts that aren’t fun. That’s what makes you successful.

Search engine optimization has been the most valuable thing that I have done for this website. Learning it and improving it is tedious, but it brings results.

It’s ok to outsource!

You don’t need to know code – at all. I have found it easy to hire people to help me out when necessary.

Find colleagues and friends.

I have met some of my closest friends through blogging. This career can be lonely – most people work alone from their homes. Finding friends not only creates community, it provides you with colleagues that can offer insight and advice. I have learned so much from my blogging friends, and they have made my business stronger.

Don’t work for free.

The saying is that exposure doesn’t pay the bills. There are situations where you might work in exchange for a product or experience but don’t work without anything in return. Don’t fall for it when brands say that they are just starting out and don’t have budget but that might change in the future. I did a lot of work for a brand when they were launching. Now that they are a national brand, they are hiring celebrities for their ads and I am sure their current employees have no idea that I helped them for very little pay when they launched.

You don’t have to stay in one lane.

When I started this website, I only shared recipes. Twelve years later, I have written hundreds of travel articles and posts about home decor, parenting, and restaurants. The topics you cover can evolve over time.

Find your balance.

When you work from home, you can struggle with feeling like you are always at work. Or, you can struggle to focus on work when household chores need to be done. I’ve created some boundaries that help me focus on work during the day and put it to the side on nights and weekends. Rule #1 is that my laptop never goes into my bedroom. Ideally, my laptop is only allowed in my office or in the kitchen. The second rule is that I don’t work on weekends. Letting myself have family time on the weekends lets me return to work feeling more refreshed on Mondays.

Do the work you want to do.

The beauty of working as a self-employed content creator is that you get to determine the content you create. If you don’t want to do something, you can just say “no”. Saying “no” to projects that don’t excite me or fit my brand is so empowering.

Love what you do.

I genuinely LOVE what I do. I feel so incredibly lucky that this is my job. Life is too short to be stuck in a career you don’t like. I was miserable at some of my past jobs, and that experience gives me so much gratitude for my life today. I had jobs where I was treated poorly, and that had such a negative impact on my mental health and how I treated others. Blogging is a dream compared to past work experiences. I am so much happier.

I can’t thank my readers enough for the support over the past 12+ years. Thank you!

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