Sharing 5 lessons I learned during my first year of blogging plus listing some of my go-to blogging resources. These are some major lessons that helped me turn my hobby into a profitable business.
This post was written March 2017 and updated with new photos and resources May 2020.
A year ago I had no idea blogging could be a full-time job. And by full-time I mean your husband can quit his job and your blog can support your family. I didn’t even know the words “affiliate link” or “unique viewers” even existed. I honestly thought people blogged for a hobby – and to be even more honest I thought it was a complete waste of time.
Then why in the world did I open up my computer and start blogging? My friend Suzi told me to! It sounds like a silly reason but I met Suzi on Instagram and she told me that I had more to say than what would fit in an Instagram caption and to just do it. So I did – a little reluctantly but I wanted to talk about my message on a platform that could reach more people so it did seem like a logical next step. To this day I’m so grateful for her encouragement.
My first post was about the toxins that can be found in organic hair dyes and it probably took me about 20 hours to write. After I pressed “publish” it weighed in with one page view (thanks Suz!). Twenty hours is a lot of time so at that point I was considering a quarterly blog post – at max. I mean who has time for all that?!
But a couple weeks after I posted my first post, I was invited to San Fransisco to visit Hairprint to get to know their product better. After that, “product discovery” became a passion of mine and I was on a mission to share healthier options with folks and prove that we can create a demand for a nontoxic world by spending with intention. I found my niche and got into a groove and things took off from there.
A year later I have 6,800 unique viewers and 15,000 page views/month. I mean I’m not Perez Hilton or anything BUT it’s been a pretty good start. People are asking questions, sharing + making recommendations to This Organic Girl and my hobby has turned into not only a passion but a part-time job.
A few people have asked if I have any words of advice to share for people starting a blog. And I DO! Looking back at the past year, I found 5 things that really helped propel my blog forward.
1. Fight Inside Your Weight Class
I love, love, love collaborating with brands and discovering new products and services. When I first started out, I would approach big brands that I love like Planet Box (the king of nontoxic lunch boxes) or Vitamix (I legit sent an email to Vitamix in like month 2 – haha!) and I wouldn’t hear back. It wasn’t until I started approaching smaller, just emerging bands that I found success. Why? Because this relationship is mutually beneficial.
For example, this is the first giveaway I ever did. It got 40 likes and 22 entries. I literally remembering putting 22 pieces of paper in a hat and hand-drawing the winner.
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Need to spice up your life?!?! Well this is it my friends. Engage Organics offers organic, non-GMO, salt-free, sugar-free, gluten-free plant-based spice mixes. I should really just stop right there because what else do you need to know – it’s perfection in a *glass* jar! Love that these spices are salt free because you can really punch up the flavor by adding as much spice as you want with out killing the dish with salt. Not to mention, being organic, they are free of pesticides and other unwanted chemical additives. Total win win! Engage Organics sent me 6 spice mixes to try. Garlicsaltless, Go-Grill-A-Rub, Mexi-Mix, Seed-Free All Purpose, Tuscany Mix and Curry Creations. All great in their own way. I seriously made the best meatballs (with my 1/4 pig ground pork!) by adding in the Go-Grill-A-Rub which is a killer spicy/sweet combo – see yesterday’s post! A couple of lucky winners will get to try Engage Organics too! To enter tag a friend below and follow me and Engage Organics @engageorganics. For additional chances to win, join me tonight on #Periscope at 8pm EST to talk more about these spices – giving away a three-pack of your choice. See you there!
New blogs working with new brands works for several reasons. Companies who are just getting off the ground want to get their name out there but don’t have a lot to spend on product promotion. And new blogs are often looking for fresh and original content and are willing to try products for free. Collaborating also benefits blogs because brands will share your content and pictures on their platforms. Cross-promotion is a great way to get your name out there. But above all you serve your audience because they get to discover new brands with you. So start small and reap the benefits of this win win.
2. Say YES and say NO
Don’t be afraid to colab with brands, bloggers, do interviews, write a guest post – anything that comes up. Saying yes leads you to doors you never even knew even existed. My first year I heard of this event happening in Boston called The WELL Summit and I asked a few of my friends what it was all about and no one knew. Instead of chalking it up to whatever-whatever, I went. I went by myself. I made friends. Introduced myself as a new blogger, met other bloggers and wellness gurus and guess what, these relationships flourished and two years later I am representing The WELL Summit as a brand ambassador. Don’t be afraid to put yourself out there – you just never know!
In this same vein, my very first year blogging I went to IBE NYC on a whim and met all of these lovely ladies for the first time; Amanda of A Beautiful Pursuit, Mercedes of L’Amoure et la Musique, Molly of Maison Pur and Jeannie Jarnot, the founder of Beauty Heroes who I still work closely with to this day!
Also, as important as it is to say YES, it’s just as important to say NO. Because when you say NO you are really saying YES to something else. Be smart with your time and invest it in what’s important to you and aligns with your mission. Say NO to tasks that will take you off course.
3. Content Rules
It’s easy to get caught up in blog or social media post frequency – like “I have to post 3x a week or I failed!” But let’s be honest, putting something up just to check the “3x/week box” isn’t building a strong audience. You want an audience that trusts what you have to say and knows you value their time. Think of content as the foundation of your house. If you build a foundation from bricks your will make a strong house fortified with integrity. If you build one from straw, it won’t survive the storm. Having good content is a fail proof formula to achieving blog success and a strong house.
And when it comes to social media, posting picks of your kids and your dog and your weekend is fun and interesting and it helps foster connection. BUT that’s how you decorate your house. You add curtains and pick paint colors after building a strong foundation. Doing this will gain and retain follower/readers and most importantly build trust.
Sharing before and after photos of my going gray experience is an example of adding value by fostering inspiration and community. I’ve been very public about sharing pics, feelings and experiences here since day one. This type of content has been a great way to connect with my audience.
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What a difference 3 years makes😍 #grayhair #naturalhair #greyhair #grayhairstyles #cutegrayhair #grayhairpics #organichair #nontoxichair #organichairspray #organiccurlcream #grayhairstyle #bestgrayhair #cutegreyhair #greymodel #graymodel #styleover40 #over40 #lifestyleblogger #naturalbeauty #greyhairmovement #grayhairmovement #silversisters #40andfabulous #gombre #atlantablogger #organicatlanta #greenbeautyblogger #organicmakeup #organicskincare
Here is an example of adding value via education or information sharing..
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| Reading Labels Tip | One question I get asked quite a bit is “Is this brand clean?” And it’s a great question – one everyone should be asking!⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀ ⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀ One way to quickly vet brands is to look at their preservative system. Pick something from the brand that includes water – like an eye cream, moisturizer or body lotion. Then scroll to the middle/bottom of the ingredient list. If you see any of these preservative systems, I would recommend passing:⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀ ⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀ ▫️methylparaben⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀ ▫️ethylparaben⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀ ▫️propylparaben⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀ ▫️any other paraben⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀ ▫️DMDM Hydantoin⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀ ▫️Imadozolidinyl Urea⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀ ▫️Diazolindinyl Urea⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀ ▫️Phenoxyethanol⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀ ▫️Benzalkonium Chloride⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀ ▫️BHA⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀ ▫️Quaternium-15⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀ ▫️Methylisothiazolinone⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀ ▫️Methylchloroisothiazolinone⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀ ⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀ Save this post and use it as a quick reference. For more label reading tips search #TOGonLabels⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀ ⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀ Do you like posts like this?⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀ ⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀ 📷 @monkeyandsquirrel⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀ #howtoreadlabels #cleanbeauty #cleanbeautytips #ecobeauty #ecobeautytips #greenbeauty #greenbeautytips #naturalbeauty #naturalbeautytips #cleanskincare #cleanbodycare #cleanmakeup #organicskincare #organicbodycare #organicmakeup #organicpersonalcare #cleanpersonalcare #naturalskincare #naturalmakeup #naturalbodycare #naturalpersonalcare #greenbeauty #bblog #beautyblog #thisorganicgirl #thisorganiclife #healthyhome #healthykids #beautyboss
Here is an example of something more personal that I will share not as often but it’s still adds value via personal connection.
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This little guy started crying today out of nowhere. When I asked him what was wrong, he said, “I don’t get to have a birthday party.” ⠀ His birthday is in October. ⠀ Oops. These kids are champs. Doing school from home, cutting out baseball, chess club and time with their friends. We made sure to tell them the practical stuff like, “wash your hands, Zoom to meet your teacher, stay away from people.” But did I forget to tell them that this is temporary? ⠀ How could I overlook a huge thing like that?! It’s so easy to wrapped up in my own head but in some ways, this can be traumatizing for our kids too…especially when I forget to fill in the big picture gaps. ⠀ If you have kids, how are they doing? Mine “miss doing school at school” they say. But they also love staying up later, eating s’mores for dinner and playing Zelda for hours on end like they’ve never been allowed to before. ⠀ #organicblog #organicmama #greenmama #greenliving #naturalmama #healthyliving #organiclife #naturalliving #healthykids #healthyfamily #eatrealfood #foodismedicine #eatorganic #buylocal #nontoxichome #beautyblog #greenbeauty #greenbeautyblog #organicskincare #organicmakeup #organicboston #organicatlanta #naturalblog #thisorganicgirl #thisorganiclife #greenbeauty
A great way to test your content before you post is to ask yourself, “Does this post bring value to my audience?” If yes, then post away. If no, then consider your post landscape. If you have posted strong content all week and want to add a personal touch going into the weekend then fantastic, do it up! Personal posts can be powerful too – use them strategically.
4. Engagement Over Numbers
I mean, of course numbers count. Unique viewers, followers, clicks and likes carry weight and they can directly translate into dollars. But if you want to retain numbers and drive traffic to your site, you want your audience to engage with your site and the community you are building. This means posting content that brings value, asking questions and being available to answer questions. Creating connections and building relationships fosters trust. And after that is where you can make a difference. This is when your opinion drives behavior and you can create measurable and noticeable change.
I am blogging to make a shift towards sustainability, organics and a nontoxic world for my kids and generations to come. (I am also blogging to find the perfect red lipstick – obviously). I want to raise awareness by talking about safe options and continuing the wellness conversation. In this scenario whats better: 100K people who sign up to follow me but never read my posts OR 1000 people who follow me and all of them are genuinely interested in making a change, value my opinion and are ready to support this interest alongside me?
Power to make change lies in connection.
5. Make Friends
Making friends with other bloggers was the best thing I ever did. There are not a lot of rules out there in the blogasphere and having someone to bounce things off of, laugh over bloopers, guide you through mistakes and challenges and enjoy this online journey with is a total game changer. I honestly think I would have quit 6 months ago if I didn’t have this type of support.
My husband is This Organic Girl’s number one fan and he will listen to me talk all day about my ideas but there is something to be said about being able to pick up the phone and really hash though the work with someone who just gets it.
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If anyone wants to know what Laughter Yoga is really like, I’ve got the full scoop in my stories😂 ⠀ Thanks to @visitlaguna’s #pathwaytozen for gifting me the best Monday morning ever! ⠀ #laughteryoga #lagunabeach #wellnesstravel #california #bestshavasana #mainbeach #southerncalifornia #laguna
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They say iron sharpens iron and it’s seriously, SO TRUE. So much love for all the ladies and gents in this green space – I’m looking at you @maisonpur @tomikatalks @pleninaturals 👆🏻But it doesn’t stop here – where would we be without all the influencers, bloggers, writers, brand owners, moms, readers and activists in this big fat community? There isn’t an Instagram square big enough to capture it all. ⠀ We all make an impact whether we realize it or not. So GRAYteful to that one woman I saw 5 years ago at a bar, looking beautiful, young, laughing, drinking wine and sharing a pizza with her partner – and doing it all with a full head of gray hair. One glimpse at her and it planted a seed in my heart that would grow, bud and thrive a couple years later when I decided to go gray too. I knew I could do it because I saw another woman do it. ⠀ I knew I could do it because I saw another woman do it. ⠀ Thank you for not only pushing me to be better but thank you for pushing and leading this community to think bigger, stronger and work LIKE A BOSS to achieve a greater good. #somuchlove #shiftcon #shiftcon2019 ⠀ #atlanta #wellness #cleanliving #greenliving #ecofriendly #sustainable #organicmakeup #organicbeauty #organicskincare #naturalbeauty #goinggray #goinggrey #naturalhair #bloggerconference #wellnessconference #stregis #stregisatl #alfresco #organicwine #naturalwine #womanowned #smallbusiness #atlantaevents #atl #cleanbeautyblog #cleanbeautyblogger #greenbeauty
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Each friend represents a world in us, a world possibly not born until they arrive, and it is only by this meeting that a new world is born. – Anais Nin ⠀ Heading home from this weekend full of gratitude (and @cafegradititude 😂) ⠀ Until next time #LA! ⠀ #greenblogger #greenblog #newfriends #irvine #theOC #shiftcon #changemakers #beautyblog #greenbeauty #greenliving #cafegratitude #cleanbeauty #organiclifestyle #organicmakeup #organicskincare #thedetoxmarket #beautybloggers #greenspace #greenspacebloggers #californialiving #thisorganicgirl #cleaneating #eatclean #greensforlife #healthyliving #nontoxicliving
Making friends with other bloggers is also great for resource sharing and colabs too. Colabbing – or writing a post together – creates stronger content, has a broader reach and creates a really rich environment for learning – for the blogger and their audience.
Okay so theory is great but technical support is key too. Knowing your backend from your frontend, your Mail Chimp from your Media Kit, the difference between “no follow” and “unfollow”…all of that is key too. Here are a few resources I used (and still use) that were super helpful along the way.
Six Figure Blog Academy – This course is pretty much BIBLE when it comes to blogging. I still reference it all the time. Consider this an A-Z resource that holds your hand every step of the way. I wish I had this from day one, it would have saved me so much time, effort, money and tears. More here!
Tech Library – If you feel like you want to pull your hair out at every tech turn along the way (like me) this resource will be your life raft!
99 Step Roadmap to a Profitable Blog – Consider this an essentials checklist!
Food Blogger Pro – An online “How To” and blogger community forum. Everything from improving SEO to time management tips to how to earn money blogging to how to set up your website.
Lynda.com – Tutorials on WordPress Setup to how to use Mail Chimp to how to edit photos.
Everything I started with including hosting, platform and theme is detailed out here!
- Do You Even Blog Podcast by Pete McPherson
- Goal Digger by Jenna Kutcher
- Success with Soul by Kate Kordsmeier
- Online Marketing Made Easy with Amy Porterfield
- Smart Passive Income with Pat Flynn
Okay that’s all I’ve got for now. Happy to answer any questions or provide more resources. Are you blogging now? What has helped you find success?