1.16.2017

The Top 5 Things That Have Helped Grow My Blog


I can't believe that in just a few short weeks it will mark six years that I have been blogging. SIX. That's longer than I have stuck with almost anything in my life [it's actually a miracle my marriage is still in tact]. Back on February 1, 2011, I had absolutely no idea what I was doing. All I knew is that people were posting cute photos of pillows, talking about what type of shampoo they used and occasionally shared a story about how they accidentally pooped their pants at work and I wanted to be a part of it. Maybe that last talking point was just me. Regardless, when I hit publish on my first blog post, I never knew what it would bring in the six years following that decision. From complete career changes to tons of relationships and friendships created, to newborn passions, lessons learned both hard and fun, to once in a lifetime experiences [that time at The Kentucky Derby still ranks #1] and more, it has been a ride to say the least.

When I think back over the past several years and some key contributing factors that have played a part in my small success [small being the keyword], I rounded up 5 things that I thought were worth mentioning. Whether you have a blog of your own, are contemplating starting a blog or would just like an inside look at what's worked for me [it could translate easily to other things] here you have it!

1. When choosing what to take seriously, choose work over yourself. I learned very early on that in the online world if you aren't making fun of yourself, others will. And if you aren't laughing at yourself, others absolutely will. I have found the best way to ease the blow is to laugh with them. Make fun of yourself before others can. However, while I am all for keeping things lighthearted from a personal approach, take your work very seriously. A blog is a fun job, yes, but it is a job none the less. A lot of people won't understand what you do and that's okay, but you should. Be intentional with your space and willing to put forth the effort, time, money, and energy that it will take. Have fun and do the work.

2. Hire a photographer, but not for everything. Hands down one of my best decisions for this blog was to hire my photographer and friend, Tina Herschberger Photography, to shoot photos for my blog every couple of weeks. This was probably the first repetitive investment I made for my blog and I remember being nervous if it was the right decision or not. Investing in a professional photographer has paid for itself time and time again. By having higher quality photos on my blog I am able to work with brands that I wouldn't have caught their attention otherwise. Additionally, it gives you some room to negotiate for higher prices. Because you will be making an investment in your partnership, it shows that you value the client experience and in turn, can lead to higher paid campaigns along with additional opportunities to partner. Another added benefit? If you have somebody else taking the photos, it means YOU are able to be in them more. It also can save your marriage if your husband was prior said photographer, so there's that too.


However, I have also learned that people still like to see real life photos just as much, if not more, on a regular basis. While I hire a photographer for sponsored content, I shoot all of my other photos personally. This means my Instagram and Facebook feeds may not look flawless and perfectly curated at all times [ie: never]. When everything starts to look too pretty, you can start to lose your audience. Leave room for real. For me, that means a heck of a lot of mirror selfies propped up awkwardly in our kitchen. I would like to believe that people care more about seeing what's going on in your everyday life rather than five hundred pictures of you playing joyfully in the snow. But in case you prefer the whole snow thing, here you go. 


3. Think as a reader, not as a blogger. I struggled with this for awhile. I had these misconceptions that because I was a blogger, everybody was a blogger and that everybody who showed up to this blog wanted to talk about blogging. I wanted to be where the bloggers were [which in my mind, was Instagram and Twitter] and not where the actual readers were hanging out. It turns out people still hang out on Facebook. It took me five years to realize this. By actually submerging myself in my reader's environment, it allowed me to connect with them [that means YOU] a lot easier and in a more personal fashion. Pay attention to who is reading your blog, meet them where they are at, talk about things they want to talk about and ask yourself often what they gain by spending time at your space, not what you gain by them being there.

4. Experiment often. When you are a blogger, there are a thousand things you can be doing. Social media channels are constantly changing, content is going more visual than textual, different ways to earn an income come and go and every second there is the newest, best thing. While it can be completely overwhelming and make you want to shut down and do absolutely nothing [or maybe that's just me], decide to challenge yourself with something new every year. Last year I decided I was going to try out affiliate marketing and focus on posting consistently to my Facebook page [in one short year we grew from 5,000 fans to 100,000! Crazy, yes, but proves that focus can bring success]. This also somehow turned me into an accidental fashion blogger [although I still don't admit to being fashionable so it's quite the conundrum]. This year? I've decided to give an email newsletter a try and have plans to play around with all things Pinterest. Look at new challenges from a yearly or monthly perspective rather than "I MUST DO ALL OF THE THINGS RIGHT NOW!" By doing so, you allow yourself to focus and really get comfortable with what you're setting out to accomplish rather than throwing yourself at everything and succeeding at nothing.

5. Stay true to yourself. Sometimes this means saying things that I probably shouldn't, or at least the things that my husband wished I wouldn't. Sometimes this means opening up about struggles that make me a little nervous to open up about on such a public platform. And sometimes, it means maybe, just maybe, not using the teeth whitening feature or wrinkle remover to take away the cellulite on your legs [yes, that works wonders, you're welcome]. I've strived to remain same ole me, no matter the audience size, no matter who I know may be on the other side of the screen [this can get incredibly awkward when thinking about certain relatives reading some of the things that I say] and ultimately, let my freak flag fly. My hope is that when you read my blog you feel like you are talking to a friend. Sometimes an immature, disgusting, sarcastic friend, but a friend none the less. The kind who's just sitting on a door stoop waiting for you to join her ;)


Last year was the year where I felt like I truly graduated from hobby level to full-time career when it comes to all things Living In Yellow. I couldn't be more excited about what the next six years will bring and hope that whatever it consists of, it's made up of mostly laughs with a heck of a lot of new friends. Thanks for joining me on this journey, without you this space would be nonexistent and pretty freaking boring. Cheer's to existing in a fun way!

ps. Curious to know what I wrote a year ago when discussing what I've learned from blogging after five years? Peep it here.

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20 comments:

  1. I blogged a few years ago and then took a two year break! I just started again and so much has changed. Throughout the two years, I would still visit all my favorites (you included!) occasionally. What happened to grab buttons and bloggers sponsoring other bloggers? I'd love to read your thoughts/perspective on everything that's changed in blogging in the last few years!

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  2. Such a great and informative post! I would love for you to share some tips on how you grew your FB, that is quite a large bump in one year! I find FB to be the hardest social media channel to grow and I've heard others say this as well. Thanks for sharing these tips!

    Carrie
    curlycarftymom.com

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  3. I started following you and blogging myself about five years ago. I fell off the blogosphere for... like forever. One thing I've noticed is that it was A LOT easier to find new blogs and readers than it is today. Think sidebar sponsorships, I saw your button everywhere! It was a great way to make money, find new bloggers, and engage your blogging community.

    samm
    www.dysfunctionaleverafter.com

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  4. #4! Great advice. I always love reading your blog, and credit you with my absolute favorite jeans (Paige Verdugo Ankle) that I wear far too often.

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  5. Just found you about a month ago. You help me feel like I'm shopping all day without spending money! SCORE. Free retail therapy. And I've purchased a few items too. I love your positive attitude, your super organizational skills (scheduling and doing frequent posts isn't easy), and your passion. I'd be so honored if you checked out my blog Facebook page. I've been doing this for about 5 years and writing and sharing is my passion. SO JEALOUS of your 100,000. But congrats, its deserved. If you can't click on link search for Life with Greyson. Warm regards, Chrissy

    https://m.facebook.com/LifeWithGreysonParker

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  6. I love your writing style and I read everything you post on your blog, Facebook and Instagram. You're adorable with a great sense of style and a fantastic personality. That's why you have 100,000 followers and I'm sure the number will continue to grow. Keep up the good work!

    Nancy Kantor
    Burke, VA

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  7. I've been a reader since the beginning and I've loved watching your blog grow! These are great tips.

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  8. I would love to have a photographer help me start a new feature. How did you find a photographer that matched your photography style?

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  9. OMG I feel the same way. Now that I use a photographer for my sponsored content, it just feels more professional. I think investing in myself and my blog last year really helped me get to the next level!

    -Lauren
    www.pinkonthecheek.com

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  10. I have been trying to think more as a reader, when I post content I always think to myself, would I read this if it was a random blog? If not I delete the post and start again! x
    www.flareaforte.com

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  11. Congrats!!
    It is hard to try to do it all...especially at the beginning. In fact there are days, I still feel overwhelmed with all of the social media!
    jodie
    www.jtouchofstyle.com

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  12. I think your last point is the most important! I've been reading blogs since long before I started my own and its so easy to see when someones blogging for money/fame/the sake of it and not because they love it and want to, its so important to stick to being yourself even if that means maybe you don't get that high paying client. -carryonbeautiful.com

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  13. I am not a blogger but do so enjoy reading your posts & look forward to them!! I truly do feel like I'm talking to a friend & the immature, disgustiing, & sarcastic parts make it feel all the more real! Cheers to another 6 years & congrats!! Thank you for being you & sharing with us all!!

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  14. I really enjoyed reading your post. good job and keep sharing!

    Smallville Superman Jacket

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  15. # 3 is soooo soooo true. People often post what they want to post and wonder why it doesnt do so great? Well, pretend you are the average reader... would you really truly care to read this post? Great advice! :)
    XO Ellen from Ask Away
    www.askawayblog.com

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  16. I have LOVED following you on Facebook especially since we have such similar styles!

    xx Kelly
    Sparkles and Shoes

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  17. Such an informative post...thank you for your honesty and for keeping things real! XO-Lee

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  18. As a new blogger, this post is extremely helpful! Thank you so much! I also would love to hear more about how you have grown your Facebook following. It is where I definitely struggle the most! Thank you! :) ~Courtney

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  19. This post is so helpful! I just recently started a blog of my own and love to get extra tips and perspective from other bloggers.

    Taylor | www.livingtaylored.com

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I read and appreciate every one of your comments. Thanks for stopping by my space and sharing a piece of yourself on this huge ole internet. I meant that in the least creepy way possible. I'm just good at making everything awkward. Anyhow, thank you for your comments. They make me smile :)