Why I Didn’t Monetize My Blog in the Beginning

Tip Tuesday Blog Post Header for FoodMarriage.com - a Philadelphia area blog about being married, having fun, loving life and loving food.

As a mom who spends 40 hours a week working outside the home along with 10 to 15 hours a week commuting, I’m always looking for different ways to make money. I have known for a while now that bloggers can make significant income, but didn’t realize the true potential until I discovered bloggers who disclose their income. The best example I have found of this is by the blog,  Pinch of Yum. They started trying to make money blogging in September 2011 (Eek! Just a month before I started Food Marriage!) and they have grown exponentially since then! Pinch of Yum’s Monthly Income reports are not only for their own tracking purposes, but also to help and inspire other bloggers that if you put your mind to it, anything is possible!

When I look back at my own blogging experience, I often wonder to myself, “What if I had monetized my blog early on?” I actually didn’t start to try to make money until December 2015, a good 4+ years after I began my blogging journey. Why didn’t I monetize early on? There are several reasons why I didn’t monetize my blog in the beginning.

Reasons for Not Monetizing a Blog | FoodMarriage.com

My Reasons for not monetizing a blog in the beginning:

  • I started Food Marriage for fun!

    This blog has always been about being married, having fun, loving life, and loving food! I have kept that theme present from the very first moment I started blogging on October 3, 2011. I have always loved to cook and saw it as a great platform not only to share recipes with friends, but also to document and save some great family recipes! I’ve been able to share some of my wedding and party-planning ideas. And as our marriage has evolved and we are now parents, I incorporate some of that into the blog. Food Marriage always has and always will be a space for sharing and personal expression for me. I do it because I enjoy it, not just to make money. If it turns out that it can bring me an income in the future, that will be an added plus!

  • I was focused on building content.

    Looking back at Food Marriage’s Blog archives, it was surprising to see and remember that for the first three month’s of the blog’s life, I was posting almost every day! Granted, it wasn’t always the best content or the best photography in the beginning, and I certainly wasn’t sharing it out on social media at that point. But the effort to be consistent and really build up a good base of information was there. Currently, at this point in my life with a 1 year old, I’m lucky if I even get the chance to make a grilled cheese at the end of the night for myself, but back then in the newlywed stage, I spent a lot of time cooking for myself and my husband, learning to blog, and sharing that content out for everyone to see.

  • I had a Bad First Experience with Ads

    I remember installing Google Adsense when I first started blogging. I had absolutely no clue what I was doing and thought that maybe it would make me some money, but I was thinking in terms of nickels and dimes. As soon as I installed the ads, I saw an ad for something divorce-related on my blog. I had assumed they picked up the keyword of “marriage” and somehow thought a divorce ad was appropriate. It definitely did NOT fit with what my blog represented. At the time, I didn’t understand that you could actually have some control over the ads and filter certain things out, so I completely uninstalled the whole thing. It wasn’t until several years later that I actually took the time to sit down and learn more about different advertising networks and what control a blogger can have with the ads on their site.

My Advice to Other Bloggers

My advice to other bloggers is to NOT start a blog with the sole intention of making money. If you do, it has the potential to come off as forced or not genuine. I believe to build a blog and to gain a following, you have to have passion for what you do. The love and passion you have will really shine through and be what makes your blog special and memorable. Once you have that, I think looking at monetization is a great idea! Why not start to make money from something you love!?

 

xoxo, Food Marriage

Top 5 Travel Tips for Flying with Baby

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I recently took my daughter on her first plane ride.  I took her to Chicago to celebrate her Uncle Matthew’s Graduation from Chiropractic School and also to meet her GREAT Grandparents for the first time. My husband wasn’t able to make the trip due to work and school commitments, so I was traveling alone. People thought I was crazy for flying alone with her. I almost didn’t book the trip because of so many fears! But in the end I decided to do it! And guess what? Flying with a baby wasn’t nearly as bad as I thought it might be!

We flew when she was about 7 months old, so I was able to keep her on my lap the entire time (talk about cost saving!) Most airlines allow you to have a child on your lap up until they reach 2 years of age. Overall, we had a great trip and I was so glad to have taken the opportunity to go on a trip where we could spend quality time with family that we do not get to see often.

Top 5 Travel Tips for Flying with a Baby via Airplane | FoodMarriage.com

 Here are my Top 5 Tips for Flying with a Baby:

1. Do Not Read Negative Articles Before You Go – this will only stress you out.  A couple weeks before we left, I read an article about a woman being kicked off a plane because her child was crying uncontrollably before takeoff. This happened to be the same airline that I had already booked. Everyone was trash talking the airline in the comments section and basically said if you have kids, steer clear of that particular airline. Of course, I freaked out after reading this but it was too late to change flights at that point. We kept our flight and I was pleasantly surprised to find that everyone we encountered on the airline was extremely friendly and helpful. We could not have had a better experience.

2. Do Not Care What Other People Think – this will also stress you out. My biggest fear was sitting down next to another passenger and getting “the look” – you know the one where they are thinking in their heads “I cannot believe this person brought a baby on a plane.” What I found was that most strangers were happy to make silly goofy faces at my daughter and make her laugh and giggle. How could you not love a smiling bright blue eyed little babe!?

3. Do Not Forget Hand Sanitizing Wipes – Notice I did not say “Do Not Let Child Touch Any Surfaces” because let’s face it, that is nearly impossible to do.  Let your little one play and be curious – it is a fun and new experience for them and they are exploring the world around them! Just be sure to be quick with the wipes before they put their hands in their mouth!

4. Do Not Be Afraid of Making Friends – I usually keep to myself when traveling, reading a book or minding my own business. I rarely talk to other passengers. I found that having a baby in your arms invites conversation. Don’t be afraid of it! I found myself giving tips on baby carriers to a pregnant woman and having conversations with a group of young adults on their way to Basic Training in the Navy. It actually made the trip fun and go by quickly!

5. DO ENJOY EVERY MOMENT – as we all know, our children are only little once. As a working mom who works full time outside of the home, this time I spent with my baby girl was precious. This was the first Mother/Daughter trip that we took together, and I hope there are many more to come. Try to look at the world through your child’s eyes and see what an incredible adventure you are on!

Hoping that these tips can ease some of your travel anxiety if you are planning your first trip with your little one! Best of luck!

 

xoxo, Food Marriage

How to Make a Baby Ladybug Halloween Costume!

Mom Monday Blog Title Header Food Marriage

For my daughter’s first halloween, I knew I wanted to make hand make her costume! Nothing against store bought costumes, but I was just itching to do something creative! I originally wanted her to be a baby bumble bee after I saw this No Sew Bee Costume from Sugar Bee Crafts, However, when I went to the craft store, there was no bright yellow tulle to be seen. I saw bright red tulle and was sold on the idea of a little ladybug! I started right away on making Little M’s ladybug halloween costume!

How to make a homemade baby ladybug halloween costume for your little girl, complete with a ladybug painted pumpkin, red antennae headband, matching handmade mommy and me infinity scarves, and little ladybug wings | FoodMarriage.com

With less than a week until Halloween, you can still make this easy costume if you want to! I paced myself by doing one piece of the costume each day until it was finished. Here’s what you’ll need to create this adorable baby halloween costume:

  1. Basic Black Clothes and Red Socks – Any plain black shirt and black leggings will do (Tip: Wal-Mart carries Garanimals brand clothing for babies and toddlers with mix and match separates – you can get exactly what you need at a great price – under $4 a piece!) I also picked up fuzzy red socks from Carter’s.
  2. Ladybug Wings – I was going to get red felt and then cut out black circles and glue them on, but I got lucky and found red felt that already had black dots on it the craft store. Score! I bought two pieces of felt, used a bowl from the kitchen to cut them into half-circles and then glued them together at the top with Tacky Glue. Once it was dry I used red thread and hand stitched the wings to the top of the black shirt.
  3. Tutu – I got black elastic, black tulle, and red tulle.  I followed the general idea from Sugar Bee Crafts of just hand-tying the tulle to the elastic band.  I did NOT use glitter tulle as I thought that was not a good idea for a 9-month old. I used regular matte tulle and bought one roll in each color (I used the 3-inch wide kind).
  4. Antennae Headband – Using leftover elastic that I had from the tutu waist band, I tied it in a little knot in the back to make a headband. I then took little red pom poms and stitched them on to the top with red thread.
  5. Mommy & Me Matching Red Infinity Scarves – I used to crochet a long time ago, but haven’t done it in years. I watched this Easy Crochet Infinity Scarf Tutorial on YouTube by Melanie Ham, and it came right back to me!! Her tutorial was just what I needed to get back in the swing of things and learn how to do an infinity scarf, which I had never done before. I made our scarves much smaller but the general pattern was the same with a half double crochet stitch. I wore a black shirt with my scarf to match my little one!
  6. A Pumpkin with Red & Black Acrylic Paint – We spent one night painting our pumpkin red with acrylic paint.  The next day, we painted the top black and added black polka dots with a round sponge brush.

Hand Painted Ladybug Pumpkin for Halloween with red and black acrylic paint. The perfect compliment to your little girl's costume or to your home decor. | FoodMarriage.com

We were happy to get our little girl all dressed up for a party this past weekend. And we are even more excited to get two uses out of her costume this coming weekend for Halloween!

 

xoxo, Food Marriage

Recipe: Pumpkin Coconut Macaroons

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My personal pumpkin obsession lasts from about the beginning of August every year until about Thanksgiving. Anything I can get my hands on pumpkin, I will try it! This fall, I decided to create my own new pumpkin recipe (for behind the scenes photos of my recipe creation, follow @FoodMarriage on Instagram).

The idea for my recipe came from an Ina Garten themed dinner party I threw for my mom’s birthday a couple years ago. That night, I made the most delicious coconut macaroons from Ina Garten’s cookbook – Barefoot Contessa Family Style. I decided to revisit this cookbook to add my own fall twist on these classic cookies.

Pumpkin Coconut Macaroons Recipe - Delicious dessert recipe | FoodMarriage.com

The Pumpkin Coconut Macaroons turned out so delicious!  I definitely kept some for myself, but I also decided to put some in a cute glass jar and deliver them to my mom as a birthday present for this year! She loved them!  They were absolutely perfect the first day they were made. However, when I stored them in an airtight container for another day, they got very sticky. (I didn’t mind the sticky because they tasted so good, but they were a little messy).  Any suggestions on how to make them not as sticky are greatly appreciated!

Pumpkin Coconut Macaroons

Pumpkin Coconut Macaroons

Ingredients

  • 14 oz shredded coconut
  • 15 oz canned pumpkin
  • 14 oz sweetened condensed milk
  • 2 egg whites
  • 1/4 teaspoon salt
  • 1 tablespoon pumpin pie spice

Instructions

  • Preheat oven to 350°
  • Mix the coconut, pumpkin, condensed milk, salt, and pumpkin pie spice together.
  • Whip the egg whites in a mixer with the whisk attachment for about 2 minutes.
  • Fold the egg whites into the rest of the mixture.
  • Line baking sheets with parchment paper.
  • Using a large cookie scoop, drop the cookies onto the parchment paper.
  • Bake in 350° oven for 45 minutes.
  • Remove and cool on wire racks.
http://foodmarriage.com/2015/10/pumpkin-coconut-macaroons-recipe.html

Recipe adapted from Barefoot Contessa Family Style by Ina Garten.
 

xoxo, Food Marriage

5 Tips for Blog Branding: How to Create and Build your Blog Brand

Tip Tuesday Blog Post Header for FoodMarriage.com - a Philadelphia area blog about being married, having fun, loving life and loving food.

Branding is such a huge part of the world we live in, and I’m not just talking about commercials you see on TV or products you buy in the store. I mean in everything we do, including the blogs we read and write. When I started The Food Marriage Blog back in 2011, I had my general idea and my tagline, “Being Married, Having Fun, Loving Life, and Loving Food,” but I did not have a clear brand direction.

I was using Blogger at the time and had a generic theme with a pink background. Back then, I didn’t have consistency with my images (And can you believe I didn’t even watermark my blog images?  Not that many of them were worth watermarking…the quality of my images back then were not the finest!)

Top 5 Tips on How to Create a Brand for your Blog - using personal inspiration and design boards| FoodMarriage.com

In 2013, I switched to WordPress and also worked with a designer to help me completely re-vamp the blog and develop a true brand. Since I am the face of my brand, I wanted something that would truly reflect me. At the time, my blog was not monetized, so it was a personal investment to make – but investments in yourself are always the best ones!

I worked with Elizabeth from The Mustard Ceiling Designs (unfortunately she is no longer taking on new design projects, but if she were I would totally recommend her!) She really took all of my ideas and turned them into a reality.  The inspiration for the Food Marriage Blog Design was my wedding. I wanted to use a similar color scheme and use things like the scrolling pattern on my wedding invitations as inspiration. I shared some of my ideas (and my wedding photos) with Elizabeth and she went to work helping me create my dream brand!

Blog Design and Brand Board Inspiration for FoodMarriage.com Blog - A Blog about Being Married, Having Fun, Loving Life, and Loving Food

Whether you are just starting out or have been blogging for years, I highly suggest you create a brand for yourself. It gives your readers something to remember and look forward to every time they are on your site. If your blog is well laid out and easy to read, they will keep coming back!

Here are my Top 5 Tips for Creating your Blog Brand:

1. Stay True to Yourself – Go with your gut on this one. While you are hoping for page views and loyal readers – don’t choose a design just to impress others. Choose a design that fits you. If you are true to yourself and genuine, the readers will come!

2. Stay Creative – This one can be the hardest part because we all try to emulate the blogs that we love (They say “Imitation is the Sincerest Form of Flattery”) But for your personal blog, you really want to do something that is unique and a little different if you can. It will make you stand out from the crowd!

3. Stay Simple – Don’t go overboard. You don’t need 10 different colors and 15 different fonts to make an impact. Anywhere from 3 – 5 colors in your palette will do just fine and two fonts will suffice (one block font and one script). Also stay simple in your design – I can’t tell you how many times I have stopped reading a blog because it was difficult to navigate!

4. Stay Up To Date – We all know mobile is the way of the future. While you may have a beautiful desktop design – a huge number of our followers are now viewing our blogs on mobile platforms. Be sure your branding and design extend into the mobile space as well!

5. Stay Consistent – Try to stay as consistent as possible. This goes for all social media outlets as well. Be sure to extend your brand into your social media avenues and keep it similar. Loyal fans and readers will come to know your style. If they happen to see a pin on Pinterest, they may know it’s yours before even going to pin it if it has your logo and consistent design elements!

What inspires you? Do you have any other branding design tips to share?

 

xoxo, Food Marriage