12 Powerful Lessons Learned from 12 Months of Blogging
Happy One Year Anniversary to Me!!! I am really proud I’ve made it this far and have adored this online community I’ve created here and across our social media. Before starting this blog, I felt like I only had one role. My role was to be a mother to a medically complex toddler with special needs. I missed my career, working on projects, helping families as a special education director, creating new programs to help kids, and even just having a project. Staying at home is nonstop work but can leave you feeling like you did not accomplish anything tangible. The house I cleaned will just get messy again, the dishes will need to be washed over and over, and another meal time will roll around in what feels like every 20 minutes. Being a mother to a medically complex toddler is still my role, and it’s meant to be. The only difference is that now I share our journey & we’ve learned along the way with all of you.
Let me share a bit of why I am feeling so proud of this blog. In 12 short months, we have over 7k-10k new visitors to the blog each month, nearly 14k followers on Instagram (with 2.5k viewers watching our story daily), & 19.3k engaged users on our Pinterest. We did our first podcast at The Baby Nation, we were featured on The Mighty (they even made a video of our article), Pop Sugar wrote about us , & I have reached so many parents that can relate to what we are going through. We have a community rooting for Adeline, our family, and that is priceless.
Since I love to share (hence why this is the perfect profession for me), I wanted to tell you all 12 lessons I’ve learned from my past 12 months as a blogger!
Lesson 1: It’s a lot of work
I grossly underestimated the amount of time and work it would take to be a blogger. It’s a tremendous amount of work. I am a full time Mama so I blog before she wakes up, naps, when she goes to bed. It takes time to write good content, to take photographs, edit them, keep up with social media, write the perfect post. I also really engage with my followers, so it’s time consuming to respond to every comment, DM, question, etc., (which is totally worth the time!). I put a ton of effort in trying to research my content, to plan marketing across all my social media outlets. It’s a job and a big commitment.
Lesson 2: Do not get into it for the money
People who want to blog to make money are doing it for the wrong reasons. Blog because you are passionate about a topic, want to share your story, and like to write, and love to connect. There is no blogger on the planet who makes money immediately so this is something you need to want to do whether you get paid or not. Of course, my goal is to make a business out of my blog, but you need to have that passion and desire. I remember wanting to shake girls in college who wanted degree in special education JUST so they could get a job and not because they wanted to work with special needs kids. NOOOO!!! Special Education is the kind of career you need to feel passionate about, otherwise it’s never going to work. Same with blogging.
Lesson 3: Try not be like everyone else
I blog about raising a toddler with medical and special needs. I’ve learned you need to embrace your niche. Do I sometimes wish I could just jump on board with the big mommy bloggers and focus on the Nordstrom Anniversary Sale and share my favorite shirts?? Yes!! It’s tempting to want to join the other successful moms who have a much wider audience. But that is not me. I have a niche, and although my market is smaller, I am reaching my audience. It would not be real for me to show you what clothes to buy, because that is not my passion, my story, the reason I blog. I do occasionally share a good deal, show you what DIY projects we are working on in the house, but my thing is medical and special needs. My unique thing makes me special, and there is a need for the content I provide. I am also pretty positive that my “How to Travel with TPN ” article did not get lost in the shuffle of favorite fall dresses you must have now.
Lesson 4: it can make you a better person
Writing can be a therapeutic process and has helped me work through some pretty difficult things. Writing one's feelings gradually eases feelings of emotional trauma which has been the case for me. Putting your thoughts, opinions, ideas, story, point a view out there for public consumption opens yourself up for quite a bit of feedback. Some of it can be constructive criticism and some of it can just be plain trolling. Regardless, if you have a reflective attitude, respond with kindness, remain open, you can grow quite a bit. I’ve also learned so many tips and tricks from other medical families I’ve connected with. These lessons have made our life easier, and then I turn around and share all of that knowledge with my readers. If you are open to receiving, you end up being able to grow more & give more.
Lesson 5: Marketing your blog is important
You research, you write, photograph, upload, and press PUBLISH. But that’s just the half of it. Marketing your post is just as important as the content you write. The internet is so saturated with articles, bloggers, and so you need to make sure your post seen. You have to try to drive traffic back to your website by posting links with relevant visuals of your blog articles to your social sites. You have to give your social followers a reason to click through to your website. You do this by sharing across all your social media, again and again. You share in your Facebook groups, you pin various images, set up a social media schedule, but you have to be natural and try not to annoy everyone.
Lesson 6:focus on helping others
So many medical moms, preemie moms, special need mom blogs are just about a personal journey, medical updates, an online journal, etc. This type of blog serves an amazing purpose, it can be therapeutic, it can update family and friends about the specifics your child is going through, but your audience is going to be limited. If you just write about your personal journey, most likely your readers are going to be your family and friends. If that’s what you want, then keep on keeping on. But if you want to reach a larger audience and make your blog a business, you need to help others. I started my blog when I realized there was a need. I had to learn so much just by experience, meeting people, and over blood, sweat, and tears. I could not just google, what the heck do I do when I bring home my baby on TPN? because nothing like that existed. So I meet that need, by not only sharing our journey, but then by providing help. People now come to me DAILY for help with various problems. Just yesterday I received questions about; which books I recommend for a child 3 years old whose dog has died, my opinion about a specific motility test my daughter had, and how to potty train a toddler with behavioral issues. Because I offer support, tips, help, information, it keeps people coming back.
lesson 7: Support other bloggers
The blogger world is a small one, and the special needs blog world is even smaller. You feel the competition and everyone is guilty of falling into the terrible of cycle of comparison - insecurity - comparison - insecurity. Yes special needs moms are the same in some ways, but we’re also different. It’s why Loews & Home Depot can both be successful, because you like the fixtures better from Loews but the lumber is better from Home Depot. I’ve found that when you make friends with other bloggers, they will naturally support you. It’s a great networking opportunity. I just had a design company reach out to me when they were trying to design a better way to carry oxygen on the go and I sent them to my blogger friend who had more experience. Another blogger sent a Podcast to me when they were interested in moms who inspire. These opportunities came along because of the friendships I’ve created. There is plenty of success to go around!
Lesson 8: Serve, not just sell
I learned this from my favorite entrepreneur , Jenna Kutcher. She taught me that one of the best way to create a customer, subscriber, follower, is by serving them the majority of the time. So I spend most of my time right now sharing all my content, tips, tricks, etc. for free. As I start to treat this blog more like a business, hopefully you guys will be ready to buy since I’ve given so much that has helped you.
lesson 9: People prefer Real
Well, at least I do. I am blown away by the perfectly curated Instagram pages and some people only post certain colors. Their entire life matches!! These influencers/bloggers are talented and it’s perfect for some of the spaces they are in. But in the special needs/medical needs world, perfection just made me feel sad. All these mama’s posting positively day in and day out about their medical journey just made me depressed. Why can’t I have this kind of outlook? How are they handling this all so well?? So I decided to just be real about it. I’ve bared it all about the good days, the bad days, the triumphs, and the setbacks. I speak every M-F on my Insta Story, make up free, still in pajamas, and trying to adjust the camera just right so no one notices I’m without a bra and just word vomit all we are going through. It’s like I’m venting to my friends, and I get so many messages every day in response to those stories. The feedback I hear again and again, nearly daily, is “thank you for sharing, you make me feel less alone.” I’ve found that the more authentic I am, the more successful my blog is.
10. Growth Takes Time
In order to grow a blog, you need to create a community. In order to create a community, you need to invest time. Growth can be slow, inconsistent, and you may need to invest years of your life before you see success. Some of my favorite successful bloggers have been at this thing for more than 5 years. The trend I’ve noticed with my blog is, the more posts I publish, the more views and visitors I get. My blog is not very forgiving when I take a break.
11. Treat Your Blog Like a Business
Looking at blogging like a business BEFORE the opportunity to make money shows up. This is what separates those bloggers that shoot to popularity seemingly out of nowhere and those that never take off at all. This is something I am still learning. I’ve learned I need to value my worth, and start saying it out loud when someone asks me what I do. I am blogger. It’s important you set goals, plan in advance, post consistently, build a brand, analyze your data/finances, and create an email list.
12. Hone Your Voice
There are so many bloggers out there who when trying to make a buck, their voice is confusing. Maybe a mommy blogger who shares all about baby clothing and then suddenly they release a cookbook and it just feels off. That’s because it is. Your followers need to trust your voice, otherwise they won’t buy what you’re selling. You want your audience to be able to easily describe you, and you want your main focus to be your niche. I also shifted how I write. When I first started, my writing style was similar to the style I used when I wrote up formal educational assessments. Now, I write like I am sitting right across from you, enjoying some coffee or a glass of wine. It’s more natural, and it feels like we are instant friends.