I am so excited today, because it is my very 1st blogging anniversary! I started my blog, SlayAtHomeMother.com exactly one year ago today on May 29, 2017. This first year of blogging has taught me MANY things, and I’ve switched things up quite a bit these last 365 days. I feel incredibly lucky to be able to do what I love for a living – which includes the most important people in my life! I have met so many people, developed many new friendships, and accumulated so many viewers and readers through my blog, Instagram, Facebook, Twitter, and even Pinterest.
I want to share some of the things I’ve learned this last year with my readers (because I know quite a few of you are bloggers ;)). So let’s do a semi-quick 12 month recap, shall we?
*This post may contain affiliate links for your convenience – I only share affiliates that I truly believe in and that have helped me/do help me in order to help others. XO.
I began blogging in 2015 with my Christian blog, PsalmsForMoms.com shortly before becoming pregnant with my youngest son, Jax. When my pregnancy became more complicated, I put writing (and my pregnant self) to bed for a bit. I wouldn’t start blogging or writing again until May of 2017. I felt compelled to write about my life, my experiences, and connect with other moms. I purchased my domain name and hosting, and wrote my (now archived) first post. I believe it was titled ‘Watermelon, Tomatoes, and Poop‘. Something of that nature – I wasn’t really sure what to write, and I couldn’t even tell you all that was even in my post.
My blog went through five (5) domain changes. I know, trust me. Rebranding sucks – but try doing it five times! Ugh, I do not recommend! I started out as MyMomWrites.com, and then went to HappinessInHomemaking.com, ThisTinyNest.com, ThisNestOfOurs.com, and then finally SlayAtHomeMother.com. Before reaching this final domain change, I went through an identity crisis, if you will, but am really happy with where the (sometimes confusing) journey brought me.
The Top 11 Things I’ve Learned…
- Pinterest is my best friend. I didn’t realize before (and still explain it to other people to this day) that everything on Pinterest is essentially from a company trying to sell you something, or a blogger trying to grab a view from you. I mean, we are all trying to help our readers learn something new, but we hand craft that image you clicked on just to pull you into our world for ten minutes. Pinterest has been my #1 traffic source since the beginning of my blogging journey. Scheduling my pins with Tailwind and running an 80/20 ratio has really helped with my monthly Pinterest views, clicks, and increased my Pinterest followers. I think I have over 700k monthly views right now. It fluctuates from 700-800k, although I haven’t quite reached 1 million yet. I also purchased Pinteresting Strategies, and it upped my game BY A LOT.
- Facebook Groups are the shizz. I’ve met so many wonderful friends, a (life experience) doppleganger, and networked with bloggers just like myself that have helped me grow my blog and my career tremendously. I would NOT be where I am today, tomorrow, or even next year without these ladies and the support network I have in place.
- Photography is my best friend. And with that, so is my camera. My camera purchase was the smartest move I’ve made in my blogging career. It took my simple iPhone photos and stepped me blog and Instagram up with great quality photos. My product reviews look better, and my Instagram posts are better quality. A lot of bloggers rely on stock photos for their Pinterest images, and to a point I think they can get away with it. But I remember being a Pinterest user myself – I didn’t necessarily want to click on the pins with stock photos. I wanted to see real people with real experience from a genuine standpoint. If I was looking for a baby carrier review, I wanted to see that person wearing that baby carrier and to show me first hand all the features with photos they took themselves. It wasn’t like I went in with a huge checklist like that, but I remember wanting to see that kind of photography from the blogger’s point of view. If they wrote a few paragraphs and copied/pasted some brand stock photography, I skipped right over. I crave genuine reviews, and I knew I wanted to be a place where my readership could find just that. My camera allowed me step my game up, and I’m forever happy with my purchase. I started out with an 18-55mm lens, and moved up to a 35mm fixed lens (which is my new fav!). It doesn’t allow me to zoom in, but the quality of the photos I take with it are phenomenal.
- Affiliate links are nice, but I only use them when necessary. I don’t like to feel like I’m constantly selling someone something, but if I can recommend a product and get a few nickels here and there that’s fine. Shareasale and Amazon are my two big ones, although I don’t rely on them heavily.
- Contacting companies has gotten me a slew of different sponsored post opportunities (click here to see those), as well as joining affiliate networks that pay you to blog for companies who prefer to select bloggers this way instead of contacting directly through e-mail. Activate, Social Fabric, and Massive Sway are my big three.
- Instagram stories are key to building an Instagram following. Well, that and giveaways. With my stories, I give my followers an insight into our daily lives. What are we doing today? What special education classes do we have, where are we going? What crazy thing happened to me today…things like that. Even the things I find kind of boring or mundane about my day, I receive DM’s from people who follow me expressing how they relate to me and my family. I’ve found that even when I turn my stories to live, prop up my phone, and start scrubbing some dishes while I talk about my day, I get a lot of views, new followers, and a bunch of DM’s. About dishes. Not kidding. 😉 Instagram stories also pop up at the top of their Instagram app – so the chances of my followers clicking on my feed to see my posts increases because I’m consistently popping up on their home feed with my stories. P.S. Tagging a location on my stories gives me a big boost in views. But in all honesty, I never tag my true location when I am home – there are a lot of creepers online, and it’s wise to not give out my actual location. I’m still close to wherever I tag, but I try to be smart about what I share.
- Giveaways have also helped me build my following by attracting the right kind of audience. Here are two of my favs: this one and this one (not affiliate links).
- I have stopped caring what everyone else is doing, and am doing what works for me. Guess what? My kids need some extra help (nothing wrong with that), and a lot of my time has been taken away from my blog to tend to their needs with appointments, classes, etc. It’s the call of a mother, which I am more than happy to answer. But through sharing my family’s ups and downs, I’ve still been able to to grow my following while I haven’t really been posting as much on my actual blog. I’m still finding a way to connect with my readers and my online following. With the crazy current my life has been taking lately, it’s much quicker and easier for me to share our lives on Instagram than it is for me to write, edit, and post on my blog. But my loyal readership doesn’t seem to mind, and is keeping up with me on Insta :). So if you’re an aspiring blogger reading this, know that what works for me might not work for you. You might not see success on Instagram. I know plenty of bloggers that have a crazy following on Twitter (while I hardly ever bother with it). Different things work for different people.
- I trimmed the fat on my Instagram. I know, I’m mentioning Instagram a lot, but it contains my biggest following and highest engagement levels so it’s important for me. I had a lot more on my feed than what you can see now, and I wasn’t loving the flow of my feed. So, I ‘trimmed the fat’, and took out the low performing, low quality posts that weren’t flowing anymore. I now have between 100-200 posts, but I am much happier with the look of my feed, and I feel that because I have essentially increased the quality of my feed, new followers are noticing and hitting that lovely blue Follow button more frequently.
- Blogging is work. I think when the mom blog first began, it was just that, blogging. Thanks to social media, however, now you need to have all your social media channels fine tuned and ready to go. You want to attract as many people as possible from every avenue that you can because there’s a lot of competition now. I’ve had so many people come up to me and say that they want to start a blog, and it must be nice to sit in my pajamas all day and write. Hmmm. Well, I try to take a deep breath and quickly pray for a little patience when I hear those comments because people just don’t get how much work it takes to build your own brand and establish an audience while running a household. I wish blogging was as easy as sitting in my pj’s writing and posting photos. It sure isn’t. I could write an entire novel on the amount of work, marketing, promotion, contacting companies, hashtags, social media, SEO, etc. that is involved with being an entrepreneur, but unfortunately no matter how much I write, most people wouldn’t realize how much work it is until they tried it for themselves. There’s a lot of late nights and deadlines, but there’s also an opportunity to build my own business and community – which is what I’ve been wanting all along.
- People steal your stuff. I recently had to issue a Cease & Desist Letter to a fellow blogger for stealing my Pinterest image, and threaten another Cease & Desist Letter to a Pinterest user who stole my image from Instagram and attached her affiliate link to my image. My Legal page clearly states that my content in copyrighted, and I will take action against anyone who commits copyright infringement. In this case, a good support system comes into play. All those beautiful friends I have within the blogging community helped me report my stolen content on Pinterest, and even commented on their pins for me.
My Most Successful Post
My best performing post in this last year was hands down: 15 Unexpected Things That Happen To You After Childbirth. I had a lot of fun writing this one, and have seen a lot of success on Pinterest!
I absolutely love each and every single one of my readers, so thank you so much for supporting my blog so far. Today, I celebrate you on this incredible milestone – I couldn’t do this without you! Thank you so much for reading!