The Road Ahead

Chippy Cabinet Doors via Cottage Magpie

Thrift Store Artwork via Cottage Magpie

This is a really hard post for me to write. It’s fashionable to pretend that none of us has any financial goals when we blog, and so pulling aside the curtain to share is hard. But I think it’s important, so I’m going to go ahead and share.

Here goes.

I don’t know how many of you know this, but this is the beginning of my seventh year blogging. Christmas was my sixth year anniversary. Something else you may not know (as I said, it’s not particularly fashionable to be up front about this), is that when I started blogging, I absolutely intended to make a living doing it. It wasn’t my “first” priority — my first priority was to share my experiences. But I certainly hoped to make money at it along the way.

Back when I started blogging, the keys to becoming a top blogger were to:

  • post daily
  • make sure your photos were great
  • leave tons of relevant comments on relevant blogs
  • be yourself

If you did those things back in 2007, you had a pretty good shot at becoming one of the top bloggers. I started doing those things and I was on my way.

Except for one little problem. Just like I said I was a mess with my home, I was a mess as a blogger. Every time I saw a new, amazing, blog, I’d say, “Like that, I want to be like that.” and then I’d change everything about my blog and my projects to try and be like that. I was a home blogger, then a craft blogger, then a quilt blogger, then a garden blogger, then back to a home blogger. And not in the sense that I was a home blogger with a wide variety of interests, I mean, I would change the whole blog to be all about whatever topic I thought was really it this time.

Meanwhile, we moved into the ugliest house ever, lost our jobs, had a baby, and tried to survive the crash along with everyone else. Trying to blog for money seemed like a fantasy. But then, the middle of last year (2012), I decided to really go for it. I figured, if I am going to become a bigger blog, I’m going to have to do what the bigger blogs do. I started taking sponsored giveaways, sponsored content, that sort of thing. Not a lot, but some. I signed up to do more of the in-content advertising with my ad network. I decided to have a big holiday posting series. I started studying SEO techniques. All of that.

Guess what? I hated it. Really hated it.

Don’t get me wrong, I don’t have anything against those things. I have great friends from back in the day who became very successful bloggers and many of them do that kind of thing. I love them and I love their blogs.

But I didn’t like how it felt to do them on mine. Even in the middle of my mess, I’ve always felt like this blog was a conversation between me and you, between friends. I had figured something out in my life or my home or my garden that really excited me and I wanted to tell you about it. Like I would a friend. So, using that space to say something that wasn’t truly from my heart… well, I just didn’t like it. I won’t be doing any of those in the future.

And the big posting series? I didn’t like that either. I loved sharing my holiday experiences and pictures with you. That part was great. I also love blog parties (I even had a monthly one back when before there were such things as “linkys”). But the other part of it? I hated. I hated putting the series name on everything, like a banner. I hated feeling like I had to pre-schedule my whole life to fit the blog, or that I was beholden to the blog and it’s schedule all the time. I won’t be doing that again, either.

I don’t mean to sound totally negative, or spoiled. I am just finally (finally), learning who I am and how that informs my relationship to blogging.

Do I still want to make money blogging? Yes, yes I do. Of course I do. (Doesn’t everyone?)

Is it likely that I will make money if I am not willing to do all the “modern” things that you are supposed to do if you want to grow your blog and be big? Anything you read out there will say no, not very likely.

So where does that leave me? Hard to say. I don’t know what the future holds. But I can tell what I am going to do.

First off, I’m going to forget all about the “shoulds” of modern blogging, and pretend it’s still 2007. No hype, no gimmicks. I’m going to paint and plaster and sew and cook and garden and share it with you. My life, with you, right here, good, bad and ugly, as many days a week as I can manage. I’m going to spend less time on trying to game the system, and more time just connecting with you. I’ll still have ads and sponsors, but they will be in the sidebar, and not in the posts. I’m afraid that means I won’t have any big “wow” giveaways, but I’m okay with that.

It also means that this blog may never make more than pocket change, and I’m okay with that, too. I love doing this. I can’t imagine life without the blog. It’s too special to me. I do, however, also need to increase my income. So, I’m going to try a different type of blog as a second blog. It’s on frugal, sustainable living, and I am envisioning it as more of a repository of information. It, also, will not have sponsored content, but I’m hoping that by writing on a topic more as a writer than a blogger, I can attract some traffic and help grow some income. I’ll share more on that as that gets launched this month.

Whew!

So. That’s where I’m at. I sincerely hope that the new readers who’ve come along recently will still want to stay, and the longtime readers will stay, too. This blog may never get bigger, and I’m okay with that. We’ve got a pretty good thing going here, and I am happy.

Now, to push the “Publish” button and wait, wincing, for a reaction. I hope you take the time to comment, but also comment gently. It’s a sensitive subject for everyone, bloggers and blog readers alike. I appreciate your patience, and I appreciate you. Thank you for letting me share.

Blessings to you all,

~Angela :-)

If you enjoyed this post, I would LOVE a comment. I read every one! If you want to keep in touch, consider subscribing to the RSS feed to receive updates in your reader.


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Comments

  1. Such a great post…I’ve felt many of the same things. I wish you every success because your blog is a true inspiration to me! Happy 2013!

    • Oh, thank you, Sherri!! You’re blog is an inspiration to me, too! I can’t tell you how many of your quilt projects I have filed away. Ha! Thank you so much. Happy 2013 right back atcha! ~Angela~

  2. Linden Townhouse says:

    Wow, that was great, Angela! With blogging, you must absolutely follow your heart and convictions. I believe you must concentrate on what drives your life, what your passions are. That kind of content, I believe, is what attracts readers! Don’t look at what others are doing. Sometimes I do feel that some bloggers feel they must follow some kind of “formula,” and the blogs do not seem authentic to me. For instance, I am not on Facebook or Twitter and never intend to be. Is this bad policy for a blogger? Maybe. But it’s just not me and, thus, would not be a genuine refection of who I am. I will just keep chugging along at my own pace. Be true to yourself!

    • Thank you, Sally! That means a lot to me!! It’s been a looong road for me to finally get here but it feels good. And good for you to knowing who you are and sticking to it. I am so inspired by people who do that. Best!! ~Angela~

  3. Alice Gatto says:

    Hi again Angela,
    I don’t really care too much about big giveaways and all that hoopla. The reason that I started to read your blog and subscribe to it was that I likd the sound of you that came through. Blog on… many of us will follow even if only by email.
    Sincerely,
    Alice G

  4. I read your blog for inspiration, ideas and to break up my day at work. I don’t particularly like all of the posts about sponsor items. I get enough of that on TV and in magazines. Keep up the good work and we will keep visiting.

  5. I’m still here with you, my friend. I love your honesty. I, too, began to get caught up in the ‘should’s of ‘good’ blogging back when, and thought it would drive me crazy. Then, one night a major life event changed my life – a deep loss in our family – and I couldn’t blog consistently. I had to let go and give myself permission to just be me and talk to you, my friends. Have conversation, live life the way it was really happening and let my blog just be an outpouring of who I am – a friend and a person who loves to have good friends. That set me free a lot! I love the decision you’ve made – I’m here, through thick and thin, waiting to see what you have to share next. And I can’t wait to check out the new blog!
    ~Adrienne~

    • Thank you, Adrienne!! I know you have been reading for so long, and it’s always been such a comfort to me to know that you are there. I’m so sorry for your loss, and I’m glad you were able to let your blog just be a place for you to connect with your readers and friends. Thank you for being with me on this journey, and I’m with you on yours! Best, ~Angela~

  6. Barbara @ DIY Home Staging Tips says:

    Good for you, Angela, for getting real about your blog. If it’s not fun and genuine, it’s a drag. I tried advertisements on my site, and didn’t like the look of it. I now promise my readers no ads, no giveaways, no sponsored posts, no linkys, not even any guest posts. Keep it simple, and just keep going. You have plenty to say. I really appreciate your honesty and candor, and I know others do as well. Happy New Year!

    • Thank you, Barbara!!! And thank you for sticking by me. It means a lot to me! My blog may never be huge, but being able to really share with friends like you is so important. Happy New Year right back! ~Angela~

  7. Barbara H. says:

    Hey, Angela, I’m right there with you. I think your authentic self shone through enough to keep me coming back or checking in even when you weren’t posting much. I’m not here for the give aways or the linky parties – they tend to turn me off. I come here to see what YOU have been up to. I appreciate the honesty and hope you find your way financially. It sounds like it has been a rough road for several years. You have done some pretty big things even so. I’ve noticed that some of the blogs I read have really gotten commercial and the writers are not posting so much about what they are doing themselves in their home, garden, etc. Eventually they are going to lose me, because they are losing what made their blog interesting to me. You’ve made some big headway this year in finding your way.

    • Thank you, Barbara, that means a lot to me!!! I try not to dwell on the negative stuff too much because I know everyone has things they are dealing with, but honestly, it has been a rough road, and we’re not out of the woods yet. But I know that as a person, I want to make a genuine connection with others and all that other stuff like giveaways and so on, feels like it’s putting a wall between me and you, and it doesn’t feel good. I’m so glad to know that you appreciate hearing about the mundane everyday things! I appreciate that so much! Thank you. ~Angela~

  8. janet magina says:

    Loved u then.
    Love

    u now..just be real:)

  9. Well, I’m here to stay, that’s for sure. I’m not a blogger (as I’ve said before) but I do follow quite a few of them. I find it refreshing that you just want to be YOU! I appreciate how hard it was for you to get to this decision, but it feels like the right one, doesn’t it? Looking forward to a new year with you!

    • Oh, Dona, thank you. That means a lot to me! Yes, it does feel like the right decision — like a huge weight has been lifted. Thank you for being so supportive!!! ~Angela~

  10. Thirkellgirl says:

    I like your blog because it really is real, and I don’t feel manipulated and marketed to at every turn. (I also like your style). I get so fed up with reading a blog where every second post is about “look how I redid my kitchen” with the fine print being that every item in the kitchen was a freebie in return for marketing the readers to death. In my opinion, “How I Made A Mom-Cave Thanks To Home Goods” is an advertisement, not a blog, and I am reading fewer of those types of blogs. I think that you can still bring in some bucks without selling out, and I’m looking forward to celebrating your ultimate financial success with you someday! You’re going deeper, not wider, and that’s just fine!

    • I’m so glad to hear you say that! I’ll never be able to do the volume of projects as a sponsored blog because I won’t accept freebies and I don’t have much money. But hopefully that means it’ll be more realistic for other people, too. Thank you so much for being such a long-time reader and your kind words, they mean a lot to me. ~Angela~

  11. I thought your last blog was right on the “money”. I don’t care about any give away but really like how you are changing your home and how you have had to change your mind half way through a project. I really like your ideas and hearing about your family. Keep up the good work. Thanks for being honest. That is hard to find in this day and time. Thanks again.

    • Thank you so much, Mary!! I really do want to share more about my real life here, so I’m so glad that you want to read about it!! I’ll try to always be honest. Thank you!! ~Angela~

  12. Blogging should always be a fun experience–we all start blogging, first and foremost, for ourselves. I think it’s great that you’re committed to making it an experience YOU enjoy as much as your readers do. And readers will appreciate that, too–no one wants to read a dozen blogs that are exactly alike. Your unique approach will be the thing that makes you stand out. :) Love it!

    dottedandlime.wordpress.com

    • Thank you so much, McKenzie! You are so right. Everyone has their own way of defining their success and fun and that is what makes the world go ’round! I love it! Thanks for visiting. ~Angela~

  13. As a new blogger I can’t tell you how much I appreciate and admire your candor. I find myself asking, “What do you expect from doing this blog? What are you hopes for it?” I struggle with how often to post-the happy balance between quality and quantity. I struggle with the fact that when I put too many demands on myself( for example: expecting too much of myself too soon), the creativity and joy seem to flow right out the door when I open it up to self inflicted pressure.
    Your post gives me the encouragement I needed at the time I needed to do it for the right reasons, to answer to my own gut and standards, and follow the joy that blogging offers.
    I REALLY appreciate your willingness to share your inner struggle and decisions about the direction you are taking. Not only will I continue to visit, I will be even more appreciative of the company when I enter your cottage door.
    Melinda

    • Oh Melinda, your comment just made my day, it really did. I am so glad that you are going to work to share your joy and follow your heart. I wish I had been strong enough to do that when I started!! It *is* hard to share, whether it’s “behind the scenes” or even just the ugly parts of my house (and hooo boy, there are some ugly parts). But if I don’t share those things, then I’m not really painting a realistic picture, and I don’t think I can live with that. It’s really really really nice to have so much positive encouragement for sharing, so I deeply appreciate it. Thank you. You are welcome through my cottage door anytime! :-) ~Angela~

  14. Well done! Honesty is always the best policy. It’s so nice to know what we read is from you and not just that you like it because they sponsored it in some way. It’s also nice to be able to get to the meat of the article and not wade through all the promotional stuff. Click here, now here, now there, wait, don’t you want…I just want to read the article. I love learning new crafts, tips, recipes, thoughts, etc. I have always felt women were good at sharing things that have helped them or made their life easier. That’s where it all started isnt it? Your fresh beginning is a great place to be, as is having learned what you want to do and don’t want to do. Enjoy life, and as you feel led, share what you feel like sharing. We’ll be here waiting. Have a terrific 2013!

    • Thank you so much, Terri! I think you are exactly right. That sharing of homemaking has been around since the beginning and I love to take part in it. I wish that I had had more connection to that when I was growing up, and I’m hoping to share more and more of it with my children, and with readers and friends and bloggers and others, too. I learn so much from everyone. It’s the conversation that’s the best part, don’t you think? Thank you again for being so supportive, I really appreciate it. ~Angela~

  15. Christina S. says:

    Well I am not a blogger but I follow quite a number of them myself. I look forward to your blog because I feel its exactly what you are trying to accomplish, sharing. You are really just sharing all the ups and downs. You are not perfect and you have successes and failures at your goals just.like.me. That is what I love about your blog. It isn’t one path about your home, or quilting, or gardening or cooking. Its all those things because, like me, I am interested in a menagerie of things too. So keep on blogging. I am here to read it.

    • Thank you so much, Christina! I can’t even imagine blogging only about one thing. I’d be so frustrated, feeling like I was censoring my chats with you! I’m just so thankful to hear that there are people out there who are interested in reading about the simple things. It makes my heart just as full as can be. Thank you again! ~Angela~

  16. Great post. Thank you for putting it out there. The giveaways and linkys and sponsored hype turns me off as much as do commercials on t.v. I’ve developed a knack for skimming over that stuff . Keep on keeping it real for those of us who respect what you’re doing and know that it’s a two way street – I have a good thing going by reading your blog!

    • Thank you Delfina!! I have to admit I don’t really love reading that stuff either, I just skip over it on other blogs. I’m so happy to know I can just leave it off my blog and there will be people out there who still want to read it! Thank you so much. ~Angela~

  17. Angela, this was such a wonderful post. I love how honesty and reality always shine through your blog. I always am so happy when I hit the next button and one of your posts comes up. Keep it up!

    • Thank you! That is so sweet. It just makes my day! It’s so nice to know that you’re out there reading all this stuff I share. It means a lot. ~Angela~

  18. Angela, I so, so, SO appreciate this post because I promise you, we must be living parallel lives! I went back and read your ‘My Story’ post and am even more convinced that we are one and the same person. If you only knew! That’s why it’s taking forever for us to get anything finished here…I keep changing my mind and redoing things and starting new projects {that we soon run out of budget for!}…meanwhile the house is getting older and needs more maintenance which requires even more money – ah, but I digress:)

    I feel the exact same way as you about blogging. I have tried all the bells and whistles, too, in an effort to be a professional blogger – making blogging my job. But just like you, I quickly found that it wasn’t me. At all. I hated feeling like I was living simply to blog… it was draining for me personally. I’m the type that has a hard time taking photos even while on vacation or during family celebrations, etc. because I’m too busy just living in and savoring the moment. So needless to say, the thought of ‘blogging for a living’ and all it entails is exhausting to me . I applaud those that are able to do it and are great at doing it, but I decided that I would blog when I had something to share that I thought my readers might be interested in, but i wouldn’t chain myself to my blog. I finally took that pressure off myself and I feel so much better! And you know what? I think a lot of readers do appreciate simple, ‘no bells and whistles’ blogs because it DOES feel like visiting with a friend over a cup of tea as opposed to maybe visiting a friend that is hosting a large party where there is lots going on. There is nothing wrong with either atmosphere, it’s just that we all have our preferences, both as bloggers and blog readers.

    Just keep doing what you love and avoid the things that drain you or make you feel less “you”… I’m so glad to have known you since 2007! xoxo

    ~Kim

    P.S. Your post reminded me a lot of a post that I wrote on the subject two or three years back. I thought I’d share it with you if you don’t mind. :) http://twiceremembered.blogspot.com/2010/02/compared-to-others-or-life-homemaking.html

    • Yay! Kim! I am so happy to hear from you. You are one of the first bloggers I met way back when! The post I wrote about your kitchen painting process still gets pinned to this day. I love your blog and have since the day I found it, so it’s really nice to hear how you’ve been on this journey and arrived at the same place. So validating! I’m especially surprised to hear that we share the same predilection for changing our minds, because you always seem so sure of your choices! It’s nice to know that you’re out there sharing that trait with me! If I had a dollar for every time I’ve changed my mind or changed my direction…. sigh!

      So glad you’re out there, blogging from your heart, on your own terms!! The solidarity is wonderful. I actually remember that post — in fact I commented on it! So inspiring. Still is! I’m glad you’re my bloggy friend! :-) xoxoxox. ~Angela~

  19. Really why do we blog? I’m so glad you posted on this subject. I’ve actually starting reading your blog back in January 2010. I had no idea what you have been going through. I started blogging to try something new, never knowing my husband would die suddenly at 53 years old in July 2010. My blog allowed me to express myself, grief and how I’ve felt about all the changes that have occurred since then and that are still changing. It’s definitely been a strong support for me. I’ve met some wonderful people in blogland. I think the more “real” you are when blogging, the better. You have so much more to give others. Sometimes when you least expect it. Keep blogging my friend. Blessings, xo

    • Thank you so much, Sandy!! I had no idea you had been reading for so long! I have been so afraid to tell people about what was going on in my life, and I think in retrospect I missed out on the opportunity to let people in more. I’m so sorry for your loss, but I’m so glad that you have that community (and count me as one of them, too!). What a blessing. Thank you for being part of my support network! I’m so glad you’re there, and I am there for you, too. xoxo. ~Angela~

      ~Angela~

  20. Absolutely love this post! Thank you for giving us readers a beautiful gift of honesty and ones true self. :)

    Ironically, I was having this same conversation with my husband this past week. Even though my blog is only 2 1/2 months old, I struggle to find balance in blogging and with everyday life. Hopefully with a little more soul searching and finding what works with my family routine, I can find a happy medium for my creative outlet.

    Thank you again for your genuine post. It is very refreshing. Keep up the amazing work! :)

    Julie at Being Home

    • Thank you so much!! The support means so much to me. It is really hard to find a rhythm and balance — some people seem to find it right away but for some people (like me for example), it takes years to figure it out!! I think the one thing I can say is that what finally helped me was *not* figuring it out with my brain, but just letting it happen naturally, and that seems to be working, at least for now. I really hope you find your rhythm!!! And thank you for being there! I appreciate it. ~Angela~

  21. Sometimes, blogging feels a lot like middle school…one big popularity contest. Instead of “I wore the right jeans and got the right haircut and no one likes me,” it’s “I remodeled my kitchen and my bathroom and no one is following me!”

    I started blogging a little over two years ago. I really didn’t do it for the money. At the time my favorite bloggers were being offered all kinds of neat products to try for free. What fun, I thought.

    I love being creative, but I’m not the sort of person who would show off to my friends and family and say, “LOOK WHAT I MADE!” Blogging gave me that outlet. But it’s incredibly difficult to get noticed, and advertising is becoming increasingly more obnoxious on many popular blogs. I want no part of that world on my own blog.

    I consider blogging a hobby, and I still hope for a big break, but I’m going to keep being myself and be the sort of blog I would want to read. To thine own self be true!

    • Hahahaha! You’re so right, Heather, sometimes it has felt like that to me in the past. I especially felt like that years ago when I was really trying to attract traffic. I kind of feel like I had a breakthrough there, in that I’m just not feeling that way anymore. I can’t be anyone else but me, and other people will either read or won’t, you know? Now that I finally “get” that, I feel like I can finally be free to just be me — to mine own self be true, as you say. I love that you are so grounded in that already. Such a blessing!! I’m so glad you stopped by! ~Angela~

  22. I am so with you on this, Angela. My blog has evolved and it has finally become a reflection of who I am and what I love. Yes, I have ads. But only BlogHer and Adsense and not many of those at all. I only have an occasional giveaway and those are most always books that I review (because I love reading and real books.) I have one link party, that to be honest, I have a love/hate relationship with. I blog every day and I really like blogging by the seat of my pants – writing what I feel that particular day. And the link party sort of screws that up. But it’s a modest little party and as long as it stays that way, I will continue it.

    SEO makes my eyes glaze over. I just can’t go there. I’m happy if I gain more readers and I find blogging as a whole fascinating to read about. But I’m not going to try to compete on the big blog level. It’s not me. I would have to become a one note girl – either just decorating, or just crafting, or just…. And that’s not me. I think you’ve found, through trial and error, the truth about yourself as a blogger. And that’s great! The only way you can find who you are as a blogger is to try different things, discard what doesn’t work and move on.

    Great post!

    xo
    Claudia

    • Thank you so much, Claudia!!! It’s been such a long road for me to get here and I have so much admiration for people like yourself who seem to have a really defined sense of self. I aspire to be more solid in that way as I continue to grow. The funny thing is that it’s affecting so much of my life — not just blogging, but how I decorate, how I spend my time, what is important to me. Funny how it all is driven so much from who you are, and how hard it is to do any of it if you don’t know who that is!!

      I know what you mean about linky parties. I really enjoy them — I think they’re fun to do and fun to host, but they are a lot of work, too. I love the community aspect, but not so much the fixed point it time part that you mentioned (having to sschedule around them). I think they’re worth the compromise in general, although I am still so burned out from trying the “big blogger” method on for the holidays I don’t know if I’ll get the gumption up to do one for awhile. Still on the fence on that one.

      I don’t actually mind ads, and I would have more of them if I could. But I’m really committed to keeping that journalistic separation of ads and copy. Never again, says me! :-)

      Thanks for stopping by, my friend!! I’m glad to know you.

      ~Angela~

  23. I appreciate your candor. And I think that you are spot on. So many of the ‘best’ blogs out there are nothing but sponsored entries and giveaways now. I totally understand bloggers wanting and needing to make money and using their blog to do so. I completely understand. If I had the opportunity, I would do it, too. But, at the point that the blog is not longer a source of original content and is now an ongoing advertisement, I am done with it. I either unsubscribe or I simply do not subscribe when I encounter the blog. It makes me sad, because I can see that clearly, once upon a time, there was something special there. But it’s not there anymore, so neither am I.
    Your blog is lovely. I will be glad to follow it and enjoy it and comment on it.

    • Thank you, Nicole! That means a lot to me. Of course I can’t speak for other bloggers, but I know for myself that going down that road was going to make this blog something that wasn’t what I wanted it to be. I really do want to make money, and so I’m probably shooting myself in the foot in the proverbial sense, but crossing that editorial boundary just didn’t feel good to me. So it’s back to the old-fashioned way — content is content and ads are ads and never the twain shall meet. Thanks for sticking by me and reading! I really appreciate it. ~Angela~

  24. Angela,
    This was a wonderful post that echoes what I’ve been saying since I started blogging. Thank you for sharing your thoughts and for being genuine. Now, please pass the cream! :)
    Deborah

    • Thank you so much, Deborah! It was my first time being that up front about blogging, so it was a little nervewracking to do it. I’m so glad for your support. Truly. Now — do you want sugar! :-) ~Angela~

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