Behind the Scenes - A Decade of Blogging ~ Dallas Mom Blog and Fort Worth Mom Blogger: Trendy Mom Reviews
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Monday, October 1, 2018

Behind the Scenes - A Decade of Blogging

Thanks to all of you who have visited my blog over the past decade.  In today's post, I'll reflect on my experience and share some behind-the-scenes information about blogging that you may not know.

Trendy Mom Reviews has been around for over a decade. I initially started it to share recipes. Over time, brands began contacting me to feature their products. It became a fun hobby. As more and more brands contacted me, I even gained confidence to contact brands myself.  The blog continued to grow with increased traffic and sponsored post/advertising opportunities.  It has been an amazing experience! I've had the opportunity to visit the Krispy Kreme headquarters, serve as a SeaWorld Wild Side Ambassador, and visit Florida with the Choice Hotels Brand Ambassador where we zip lined over alligators among other activities. (Yes, I cried on the ziplines!)  

I've have served as an ambassador for Netflix, World Market, Salba Chia Seeds, Purex, and more. My son has been able to sleep under dinosaurs at the Perot Museum, we've become seasonal regulars at the Gaylord Texan, my son had an amazing birthday celebration at the Great Wolf Lodge, our family explored the Woodlands, visited the boardwalk in Kemah, visited the San Antonio Riverwalk, explored Kennedy Space Center, and visited Disneyland.  (There are too many experiences to list without exhausting you, but I am sure that you have read about many over the years!) I'm grateful for how this blog has allowed me to experience so many different things with my children. The opportunity to leave our comfort zones and to learn and grow has been meaningful. 

There are brands and PR reps that I have worked with several years and they are a special part of my life.  They are kind, enthusiastic, and supportive. I am excited when I see their names in my inbox. 

I've met many amazing bloggers, many of whom I have been friends with for over 10 years now.  They have made my world a happier place and I'll always be grateful for our friendships. It's nice to have others who support each other and celebrate each other's successes. 

As a blogger, new things are always popping up and it's a challenge. It takes more work than people realize. I spend time maintaining my blog and social media pages.  I spend time replying to emails. I set a goal to try to respond to emails the same day. I update my layout once in a while. I also invest a lot to maintain the blog. For instance, when mobile gained popularity, I needed outside help for my blog design. I've also attended sessions to learn more about blogging and social media.  There always seems to be something new. It's hard to find time between working and being a mom, but I still try my best to keep things modern on my blog.  Another thing that takes time is that I try to make sure that anyone who I work with knows that my top priority is to try to make them happy. I value relationships. I want to be someone who others want to work with on projects. My network has grown by having a good reputation of being dedicated, prompt, and easygoing.

Some things work well and some don't. In general, working directly with brands and their PR companies or networks has worked best for me.  For instance, I worked with a local restaurant chain last year and competed among 18 Texas bloggers to send the most traffic to their website. I won first place.  Thank you so much to those of you who read my posts and visit sponsors!  It's a great feeling to connect people with brands that I love. I really can't thank all of you enough because you have made my blogging career work!

I've also tried recipe contests. I've won a few of them, so that has been fun. However, the recipe posts are extremely time consuming and I haven't done as many lately since my children need a lot of my attention.  I would love to enter more in the future once they are older.

In addition to sponsored posts, there are two other sources of revenue for my blog (emphasis on small at the moment) - ads on my sidebar and Amazon Affiliate links.  I am always grateful when readers visit the ads on my sidebar or at the bottom of the page.  In case you haven't already noticed, if you click the Amazon link on the right side of my blog before placing an Amazon order, we receive a small commission. (Thank you to everyone who has done this! I'm truly grateful!)

Let's talk about some things that haven't worked well. 

My children used to love photos, but I rarely share photos of my family because my older son doesn't want to be in photos and, well, toddlers are too wiggly. At least, my children are wigglers. If you are a blogger, you know what I mean. If not, well, try taking photos of an energetic toddler with a bottle of body wash or a new toy.  We'll see if things change in the future, but for now, they are not into photos and that's ok with me. It's my job to blog and not their job. In any case, they have always been supportive of helping me to try out products, recipes, and experiences. They overflow with opinions and advice which is perfect!  While there have been gaps in their willingness to be photographed, there has never been a gap in their willingness to experience new things. 

I once featured a product that was a Christmas gift for my oldest son.  He secretly visited my blog at school so that he could see if there were any gifts that may be hidden in our house.  He only confessed this recently. I couldn't help but to laugh at this digital age version of peeking at Christmas gifts.

Another thing that hurt was that I didn't know that spammers were leaving comments with links in them.  This penalized my site. I had to delete thousands of comments and finally decided to disabled comments. That was a difficult decision to make because I loved reading comments. They often made my day. However, I figured that people could comment on Facebook if they wanted to connect.

I used to include do-follow links in my posts. I didn't know that do-follow links were bad until several years ago. My page rank dropped to a 2. I was bummed that it took me so long to figure that out.  Blogging is a challenge because there really is a lot to know. Unfortunately, you learn some things late. 

I also joined Instagram fairly late. I have an account here, but the number of followers is still relatively small. I am below 10k followers which limits many of the sponsored campaigns that I am eligible. At the moment, I only post images on Instagram and am not using stories yet.  I'd love to put more time into figuring out Instagram in the future.

Work/Life balance has also been a struggle. There have been times that I really should have scaled back on blogging to have more balance in life. I still work on that issue.  On the flip side, around the time that my youngest was born, I didn't post as much and saw a dip in traffic.  I've since returned to blogging and am trying to pick up the pace again.

In addition to the good and bad, there are also seasonal experiences.  Traffic tends to slow in summer and pick up again in Fall. Some of my most popular posts are definitely seasonal, so it makes sense.

So, what's next?  Well, I have a few goals for the coming year. 

I want to focus on more Dallas area experiences. I am shy, but I want to grow.  

One of the things that I am focusing on is increasing traffic. I have a couple of people helping me with this and I am excited to learn about their ideas. 

I am cleaning up my social media pages. I am using a tool called Circleboom to manage my Twitter page.  My page has been around for a decade and some of our audience has continued to share love by visiting us often. There are also others who faded out and no longer visit. I feel bad about that and wish that I knew why readers and followers left, but in any case, I learned on Circleboom that I was following a few thousand people who were no longer following me back. Many of these people followed us a decade ago, but then stopped following. Circleboom helped to clean up my account.  I recommend it for maintenance, especially since a clean and maintained account helps to give more clarity.   Visit here to learn about how Circleboom helps you to grow your account, clean up unfollowers, and even provide valuable analytics. I absolutely love them. If I could go back in time, I would have used them sooner. It definitely learned a valuable lesson that a good tool to manage Twitter is helpful for continued growth.

Finally, I want to give a sincere thanks to everyone who reads my posts. The traffic from your visits have given me many opportunities that I otherwise would have never experienced. Thank you for the wonderful life that I have thanks to your support.

PS - Similar to all of my other posts, I'll watch the traffic on this post to see if I should follow up with more posts on this topic!

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