Behind the Scenes of Blogging

Charlotte@Living Well on the Cheap  —  September 4, 2013 — 15 Comments

I frequently get questions both in my personal life and via email from you guys about running this blog–how much time do I put into it, how much money do I make, etc. Since I’ve been in a bit of a lull with projects lately I figured this is as good a time as any to dish the details.

behind the scenes of blogging

Time and Inspiration

I put in about 5-10 hours a week actually sitting at my computer editing photos, writing posts, and responding to comments. These days I usually knock it all out during Jack’s morning nap, but when I still worked full time I would do it in the evenings and early mornings. I have the WordPress app on my phone so I can post on the go if I need to, but I really prefer to use my laptop whenever possible.

The amount of time put into projects is another thing entirely. Back in the day I used to knock out three blog-worthy projects every weekend. These days inspiration and funds are scarce and I often find myself wondering in the evening what I’ll post about the next day. I keep a running list on my phone of potential blog topics and often refer to it when I’m planning my to-do list or heading out to run errands, but a lot of times I’m limited by both the amount of money I can spend on supplies and the amount of time I can devote to a project. Gone are the days when Jack played happily on a blanket while I painted! He’s into everything now and it’s much harder to get anything done with him underfoot.

As for inspiration, I get ideas from other blogs, Pinterest, other homes and places that I visit, etc. Keeping a list on my phone of projects big and small that I’d love to tackle someday helps me keep track of my hopes and dreams.

Traffic

Let me preface this by saying that I am not a big-time blogger by any stretch of the imagination and I am not particularly ambitious. I have been quietly plugging away at my little corner of the Internet for two and a half years because I enjoy it. In the earlier days I did a lot of commenting on other blogs and even submitted posts to be featured on other websites (like Knock Off Decor). My traffic has grown slowly but surely, with a few big jumps when my site has been linked to by other blogs or internet message boards. These days I average almost 500 page views per day and 15,000 per month. I remember a time when I would have been thrilled to see 100 hits in a day so I’m still pinching myself over these numbers even though they’re paltry by some standards.

Money

Hahahahaha!

Just kidding, I do make a little money nowadays. I didn’t start placing ads on my blog until I had 10,000 hits per month (this was after about two years of blogging). I really wanted to wait until I had enough traffic to actually make a difference to advertisers and also to have a solid enough blog following that my readers knew I wasn’t in it for the money. I started accepting sponsorships from small businesses (mostly etsy shops) at a rate of $10 per month and that’s still what I charge. I usually only have 1-3 sponsors at any given time though I’ve got room on my sidebar for up to 10. I’ve turned down sponsorships from businesses that I didn’t think would be a good fit–if I wouldn’t personally use it or recommend it to a friend I’m not going to advertise it on my blog.

I also display sidebar ads from BlogHer. I think I was on the waiting list about six months, but once I got accepted into the program it was really easy to get my ads up and running. The way it works is that I install a code on my sidebar and then BlogHer runs ads from companies that they work with and pay me based on how many people saw it. I can select categories that I don’t want on my blog, such as diet companies, junk food, certain political ads, etc. With my traffic I currently make about $20 per month from BlogHer. If you’ve got your calculator handy you’ll see that I make about $2 per hour. I am so not in this for the money.

Criticism

This is not something that I had to contend with until the last year or so. Sometimes a comment will rub me the wrong way or I’ll see traffic coming in from a message board where people are discussing my blog. I handle this the same way I do criticism in my personal life–just because somebody says something (good or bad) doesn’t mean it’s true. Maybe it is, maybe it isn’t, but it’s up to me to decide. So after taking a few deep breaths I ask myself, “Is there merit to this criticism?” If there is then I go for gratitude. Maybe this is some information I can use–like the time I was inspired by criticism to rearrange my office a bit. If whatever this person has said is not true or relevant then I do my best to dismiss it. Easier said than done, I know, but start working on it and see if you’re not happier after a few months. I’ve learned the hard way that the best way to deal with criticism is to get your affirmation from within. This strategy helped me get through a really difficult time in my career–I was working with many challenging clients who said hurtful things to me on a regular basis. Internet snarks have nothing on angry teenagers.

This blog has been such a wonderful thing in my life. It helps me connect with others, gives me a sense of purpose and identity, and serves as a creative outlet to help me cope with the stresses of both social work and motherhood. It’s also inspired me to learn new things–like improved photography. I seriously cannot imagine my life without it. Thank you all so much for reading. This whole endeavor would be so much less meaningful without you!

Charlotte@Living Well on the Cheap

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15 responses to Behind the Scenes of Blogging

  1. Thanks, Charlotte, this is great! From your advice, I did finally start my own blog :)

  2. I’ve been blogging since 2001 with livejournal and it’s only been the past year or so that I’ve started both a WordPress and blogspot blog because I wanted to try my hand at making a little extra money. I can’t decide which one I like better though. Does the WordPress app work properly for you?? I have so many problems with it and with using their site to post stuff. I like checking my stats with them better and once a post goes up, I like it better but the actually posting part….. Gives me such a headache with them. But I’d be perfectly fine to go back to blogging with just LJ and never making any money. Lol.

  3. Gggrrr. I couldn’t finish my comment there. I was going to also say: I love posts like this because it gives me hope that maybe I can do it too. And that I love your blog. Lol, that’s all.

    • Charlotte@Living Well on the Cheap September 4, 2013 at 2:09 pm

      That is exactly the reason that I prefer to post from my laptop whenever possible. Posting from the wordpress app is a giant pain and I often lose updates because of its wonkiness. But for comments and stats it’s great! Glad you liked the post and thank you so much for your kind words!

  4. What a timely post! I just re-launched my blog after a multi-year hiatus. I missed it, and decided to give it another shot. I went back and forth, and ultimately decided to stick a google ad in the sidebar. It’s silly, but I guess I figure if I make a buck or 2 off it a month, well, I guess that can pay for my Etsy listing fees? Like you, I wouldn’t dream of reaching out for sponsors until I have a track record of actual eyes on the blog. Personally, I’m a new reader (I found you through one of those message boards), and I like what you’re doing. I may not love every move you make, but I like that you’re real and doing it with transparency and humility. Keep up the good work!

    • Charlotte@Living Well on the Cheap September 4, 2013 at 2:13 pm

      Thanks so much! That’s exactly what I’m going for. Gotta keep it real! And I love the tagline of your blog. I literally chuckled to myself. I can’t seem to help it either!

  5. Interesting! I love that you put in actual numbers re: traffic and how much you make on ads….it’s so hard to get a feel for that kind of thing. I’ll have to try BlogHer ads. I have similar traffic to you and the results of my attempts at using adsense have been laughably not worth it.

    • Charlotte@Living Well on the Cheap September 4, 2013 at 2:18 pm

      Definitely look into BlogHer! I just switched to a bigger ad size today so maybe I’ll make a little more. I always found it frustrating that no one gave numbers–I can see if it’s your full time income how that might be awkward but I’m not embarrassed to tell y’all all about my $50 a month! Cool blog you’ve got over there, by the way!

  6. As usual, I appreciate your refreshing realism! In the past I thought about starting a design blog. But now with a full-time job, a kid starting school, and a hubby who is not handy (okay, me neither) it wasn’t in the cards for me. But my life has changed a lot in the last 10 years. At 25, I would have thought having a design blog was the bomb. (And I probably still used that phrase 10 years ago, haha.) Now at 35, I’m only sporadically interested in house stuff. I’ve actually started writing a novel in my spare time. That would be impossible if I had a blog. It is freeing to be able to choose when I’m interested in things instead of feeling the pressure to create content.

    What I’m saying in a really wordy way is, always leave yourself an out. Some of these bigger bloggers, it seems they have painted themselves into a corner (literally, lol.) They are really phoning it in and you get the sense that the love is just not there anymore, but they don’t think they have any other option but to keep going. Life is too big to do one thing forever. You are Charlotte and Mom first and foremost, the rest is all details. :-) Your true friends & followers will understand if you post one a day, a week, a month, or decide to take a break or stop blogging. And now, at least to me, it seems like the tide is turning on some of these big blogs. People are tired of not being able to relate to full-time bloggers with money. They are tired of seeing the same stuff. They are seeking out more real, smaller blogs. So no shame in being one of those, honey. ;-)

    I am totally babbling but I hope this all makes sense.

    • Charlotte@Living Well on the Cheap September 4, 2013 at 2:24 pm

      A novel! Color me impressed! I love to write but am no good at fiction. You are so right that it’s important to do what you enjoy, and I agree that you gotta know when to move on. I don’t ever want to be as big as some of those full-time bloggers. It’s too much pressure and it seems like a lot of work for something that is not very sustainable. Thanks for reading and I always love your comments. I feel like we could be friends in real life!

  7. Thank you for being so honest and putting in actual numbers. No one ever does this and it’s so helpful to see. For what it’s worth, one of the things I really enjoy about your blog is its realistic approach, in terms of budget, project pace, and how things turn out. I can relate to it so much better than a lot of those bigger blogs and for this reason, it’s one of the ones I most look forward to seeing in my morning feed.

  8. Hi Charlotte! I’ve been reading your blog for awhile but this is my first time commenting. I really appreciate you being so open an honest about your blogging experience. This was a great post!

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