It’s time to reflect and celebrate! YAHOO!
Six years ago I started something kind of random at the suggestion of a friend (whom I know am indebted to for life haha). It was called a BLOG. Ever heard of one of those? Ha! I hadn’t. I’ll admit, he practically had to beg me to start one. But he insisted it was something I should do, so finally I gave in. I had no idea what I was doing, but I opened up my free wordpress template at theinspiredroom.wordpress and posted something.
Back then the blog looked like this. How many of you were reading back then and remember it? Anyone?
When I first started blogging I had no expectations at all. I had not even read a blog (seriously!) so I was really just diving into it blind and unprepared.
Today when people start blogs I’m guessing many of them might have their expectations up pretty high knowing how blogs have grown in readership and become such amazing career launchers and awesome income producers.
But back in the day? I had no clue what I was going to experience. I just blogged about what I was passionate about. For free. For a few readers. And that might have been the magic of many of the blogs that started in the mid-2000s…there were no expectations or social media distractions. You just had to engage and interest visitors when they visited you (without the help of Pinterest to get readers there). Once we had that figured out, we had more to learn as the internet and blogging and social media grew. Now it must feel like you have to learn it all at once.
You want to see what a “reveal” post looked like back in the dark ages?
A month or so into blogging, I finally showed my kitchen (from the original house I lived in as a blogger.) Complete with tiny awful unedited or staged pictures. And NO PINNABLE GRAPHIC! GASP! How did I survive as a blogger? So awkward to even show. (And don’t you dare pin pictures from that post now, haha!). But somehow, it was enough. It was just my real life kitchen. That was all we expected of a blogger.
We didn’t rely on our awesome staging, photography or pinnable graphics or boosts from social media, that is for sure. Trying to do a room or project now, stage it, photograph it, edit photos, create graphics and promote ourselves online now is a full time job if you want to keep up with it. Ugh, so much to do now — I just want to decorate and post about it like we did in the old days. #grandmablogger #wheniwasababyblogger
I had started a decorating business prior to the blog, also called The Inspired Room. That is another story in itself, for another day.
I had plans to write a book and develop my business more, but no real strategy with blogging or how that would fit in. I started the blog thinking somehow it might fit with my decorating business. I planned to write about decorating principles and homemaking philosophy, as well as share snippets of my own life and home — and I haven’t veered from that part at all.
As it turned out, blogging turned everything I was planning to do outside of blogging upside down and it became the core of what I do. It was more than I ever imagined — and in time it became my career, my livelihood and a passion all its own.
In the past six years, my kids have grown, my girls went through four years of college and both graduated, and my son went from age 7 to 13, we’ve lost one pup and gained two more pups. We lost a job and were without income for a year, we agonized over selling our house, moved to a new state, started a new church called Voyage, struggled to earn a living, traveled and attended conferences, had several medical emergencies, wrote for numerous other sites, and still managed to decorate, paint and remodel and keep up the blog.
I’m tired just thinking about it! Haha! Six years. I’ve shared so much of life right here on the blog over the past six years. All the while the blog continued to grow and now fully supports our family. It has been such a blessing! There is nothing else I’d rather do. If you are ever tempted to think bloggers have it made or earlier bloggers were just “lucky” to start when they did, you might be right to a point. But the reality is blogging has been a lot of work for those of us who started back then, paving new paths and facing so many learning curves, combined with many blessings. I wouldn’t trade any of that experience to start over again. I’m so happy to be where I am now and know I persevered through it all!
I asked on Facebook what people might want me to write about today in honor of the six year anniversary. I think I covered some of the answers above but I’ll answer a few more questions…
Remember the window banner? LOVED it! Miss it. But it was time to move on.
What are my 3 biggest failures and successes in blogging?
3 Blogging Business Blunders
1. Stepping out in new territory and facing opposition.
I think my first experience with a semi-failure as when I decided to evolve from a hobby blogger to having ads on my blog a year and a half or so after I started the blog. It caused a big of an uproar in our corner of blogland because at the time monetizing your blog was frowned upon. So, whatever. Those ads didn’t take off. But I couldn’t justify blogging as a hobby any more, so earning a living doing what I loved was more attractive. So I didn’t give up even though my first attempt wasn’t a huge success.
And now thank goodness I have a growing and thriving business as a writer and blogger, so sometimes you have to take that first step towards your goals and dreams, even if it isn’t easy or all that popular. Soon after even the naysayers had ads on their blogs so I guess it wasn’t such a bad idea after all. If you feel something is right for your business, GO FOR IT. Let the naysayers nay.
2. Confusing Google.
Another blunder was in my eagerness to create pretty posts I inadvertently used heading fonts that apparently confused Google about what my blog was about, so my search traffic was negatively affected for most of the first years of my blog and I didn’t even know it. Nice. No biggie when it was a hobby blog but if you have a business blog you start to realize these things do matter just as much as that pretty post. And it is a pain to have to go through millions of posts later to fix things. Lesson? Make Google happy the first time around.
3. Whoops! I did it again. More Google confusion.
Then another big oops on the business side of blogging was I had all of my images stored in Flickr for the first four years or so. And then when Pinterest came along it caused havoc for my blog because no one could pin anything since the images weren’t pinnable. Once I got that figured out, when people did pin I realized ALL of my images were named IMG_3434 or 23094uwreiorsoieruewoer.jpg or something awesome like that. Which meant I was confusing Google again by what I had on my blog and lost out on image search traffic because NO ONE searches Google for IMG_3234. Ever. FAIL.
And that failure also means I’m STILL trying to reload images with real names google might recognize in order to make my blog more useful to the world. And I’ve used a TON of images so it’s been a big job. If your images are named anything like IMG_3234 now might be a good time to rename them something more useful. Lesson? Google doesn’t care about your pretty pictures with wonky names. There is more to successful blogging than just taking pretty pictures.
There were plenty of other things I did or tried along the way that weren’t all that successful, but it is all a part of learning new things, figuring out who you are, what you are good at, what you love and what makes sense. You just have to start and try things and failures will always be a part of that learning curve.
I just did the best I could every step of the way and learned what I needed to know to take the next step.
And isn’t that all we can do sometimes? Put one foot in front of the other.
What is one of my favorite posts of all time?
Maybe this one, the one with the dead giraffe and undies on my son’s head.
Three significant opportunities I’m grateful for through blogging:
1) I run a successful home based business!
I get to work with amazing people and brands I never would have dreamed possible without this blog. My blog not only provides for our family but allows my husband and our family to all volunteer at our small church without receiving any salary from the church. Having a blog that has succeeded like this is a MIRACLE and a blessing I don’t take for granted. I have no idea what we would have done without it! I also employ my two daughters part time which helps them too! BONUS — we LOVE working together. It is a dream job for me, but like I said, it is a lot of hard work and it isn’t as glamorous as some people think (although there are quite a few perks, I’ll admit).
2) I’m writing a real live book!
That book I talked about writing in my very first post? I never pursued it because I loved blogging so much and felt no need to write a book (other than my ebook!). Until now. I am writing a real live book I’m dying to talk about but won’t just yet … it is the book I’d want to read. I hope to share more about it soon! While I could’ve pursued this book six years ago, I’m grateful that my experience over the past six years will make this a much better book — so I’m grateful for all these extra years of learning and writing and growing to be better prepared for this daunting task. Not to mention having a much larger audience now, minor detail — haha.
3) My kitchen remodel is going to be in Better Homes & Gardens!
Six years ago one of my most popular topics was on the “disease” I have called Magazine Cover-itis. Basically it means I see everything in my home or in life with a magazine cover lens. My eyes like to see things that jump out at me as being magazine cover material. Weird, yes. Not because I had any real desire to be on a magazine cover (I’m just happy to look at my house in real life), but it is just how my creative brain works. And probably because I love looking at magazines and tweaking my home until my eyes are happy. That can be a bit of a problem! But my success is that six years after I posted about my magazine cover-itis and shared my first kitchen remodel on the blog, my NEW kitchen remodel will be photographed in just a few weeks to be featured in Better Homes & Gardens magazine! That is pretty exciting — and nerve wracking, too.
So how do I stay enthusiastic about blogging after six years?
That is an easy question.
My blog is about so much of what I love — I pour so much of myself into it.
I live my life and am able share what I’m passionate about. If I had to be anything else but myself online or talk about things I didn’t really want to talk about, I would start to loathe blogging like anyone would loathe a daily task they didn’t truly enjoy. If I spent too much time in social media or promoting myself or working on projects I don’t enjoy, I’d exhaust myself and lose my focus. I have to keep living life off the internet and growing as a person so I have things to share. I keep my focus on what I love and that is what keeps me excited about blogging!
But you know what else keeps me inspired?
YOU. You are kindred spirits and when you leave a comment that makes me laugh or reassures me or encourages me? It is like having coffee with a girlfriend every morning. You are kind and thoughtful and supportive and have become my friends. You make this all so much more fun!
Thanks so much to all of you who come here and read and leave comments and support me in so many ways! I’m forever grateful.
So what is next?
Besides the book and magazine, there are a few more exciting things that will be happening around The Inspired Room in the coming year! But you’ll have to stick around to find out what they are!
Onward to the next six years!