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Welcome friends, readers old and new! I’m thrilled to introduce you to my new, reborn website. I’ve got a lot of exciting ideas brewing. I’m still the same person, the same writer. But the blog moving forward is different. It’s no longer my side hobby.
It’s a business.
I thought I’d take this opportunity, with a new blog and a new year, to present how I made this transition. So let’s start at the beginning…
Four years ago, on Christmas Eve, I came up with a crazy idea.
I was reading the newspaper, because I’m old school like that. I was relaxing from the stress of the holidays while my one-year-old and three-year-old boys were napping. I came across an article that caught my eye: something about the rise of “Mommy Blogs.” Women like me were documenting their lives online, gaining followers and making advertising money.
I can do that. My little brain got excited.
A few days later, Holding the Distaff was born. I had very little vision for it except that I would put my thoughts online and see what happened. It was a grand experiment.
I had fun the first year or so. I learned a lot about the world of blogging, made some connections and even had a small following. Friends complimented me on my writing.
Then my daughter was born, and what little spare time I had grew even more precious.
I continued to post, but it grew less and less consistent. I didn’t have a plan for growing an audience. I was generally aware that marketing myself would take a lot of work, and I didn’t have a vision for what I was trying to accomplish.
I started picking up more freelance work as a copywriter and editor, which guaranteed cash, unlike the blog. That income really helped—as any single income family can tell you, money gets tight.
One of the biggest writing jobs I had was content marketing for a company that sells shapewear. I’ve got nothing against shapewear; I even bought some (read: three babies). But it occurred to me one day as I was going on and on about women’s underwear that I was bored out of my mind.
Then one day, a couple of months ago, I had a spectacular vision from the heavens. Or maybe I just read a couple of insightful articles. But this light bulb went off: you can write about what you’re passionate about and make money.
I have wrestled a lot with my purpose behind the blog. I wanted to use it as an outlet to encourage and inspire. But the truth was, I wasn’t motivated to build it, because I was helping support my family by investing my energy elsewhere.
Is it wrong to want to be paid for the ways you use your talent? I don’t think so.
She considers a field and buys it; out of her earnings she plants a vineyard […] She sees that her trading is profitable… —Proverbs 31:16–18, NIV
And so, Holding the Distaff started getting a makeover.
Here’s how I did it:
- Brainstorming and Prayer
This part was fun. I lay awake at night with ideas bouncing around in my head. I scribbled down everything I could possibly think of about posts I wanted to write, how I wanted to rebrand myself, how I wanted to design the website.
And more than I ever have regarding this website, I prayed. For guidance, for wisdom, for opportunity.
There is a lot of information out there about how to build a blog and a business, and I still consume it voraciously. I’d say the resource that has been the most helpful by far is a book by Ruth Soukup called How to Blog for Profit Without Selling Your Soul. Unlike a lot of the courses, articles and books out there about growing a blog, she understands what I’m all about. I have also found Crystal Paine’s tips on Money Saving Mom to be very useful, and I’m looking forward to reading her book, Money Making Mom.
In general, if you’re in a position similar to mine, get advice from the writers who are in your genre. You might be wasting your time otherwise.
- Making a Plan
I wrote a business plan. It wasn’t fancy; I downloaded a template from The Nectar Collective, which has a lot of helpful resources. The most important parts are a mission statement, some goals (total guesses in some cases), and a realistic plan to meet those goals. My plan includes short-term and long-term strategies for generating income (an eBook may be in the future).
Despite the fact that I’m pretty sure we’re mostly nerdy introverts, blogging is a very social occupation. I joined several Facebook groups, followed my favorite bloggers on social media, and generally started immersing myself in the online community. I found a lot of great resources and ideas at The House of Muses. I also harassed my friend Jenn over at What You Make It with lot of dumb questions because I knew she wouldn’t judge me!
- New Website
I’ll just come out and say it: my old website screamed, “amateur!” I knew that in order to look professional, I had to switch my platform from Blogger to WordPress. This took money and it took time. If you’re like me and you don’t even know what an IP address is, then I recommend you pick up the phone and have a support specialist walk you through what you’re doing, step by step. I chose HostGator for my website’s hosting because they are affordable and have reliable customer service. This tutorial was also very instructive as I moved my content over.
I also enlisted the help of my sister-in-law, who is a graphic designer (plus her husband is a web developer and I bugged him a little too!) She helped me choose a design as well as strategize my brand visually. So now I know how to make a pretty decent image for Pinterest.
Lastly, I spent about a month combing through my old content, editing it, optimizing it and making sure it was presentable on my new platform. This was tedious, but I’m really happy I took the effort. In fact, I am going to start reposting a lot of it via social media so I can hit the ground running.
- Subscribers, Lead Magnet, Social Media and More
I finally have a marketing plan! So for starters, you can subscribe to my email list and get a free devotional about how to be a Woman of Strength. Giving away a freebie like this is called a lead magnet: an incentive to sign up (hopefully it works!). I’m also fully engaged on social media, so my online presence is about a lot more than the blog. And lastly, I’ve been updating old content to make it shine and working on advertising and affiliate links. Hopefully I’ll see a few pennies trickle in soon.
It has been a whirlwind couple of months putting this all together, but I’m excited to be launching my new business.
If you’re a blogger, I’d love to hear how you relate! Talk to you soon!