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

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

Tip Tuesday: Easy WordPress Database Backup

Welcome to a new segment on Food Marriage: TIP TUESDAY! Here, you can look forward to different tricks and tips that I have learned along my blogging journey. Whether it be blogging and technical tips, food photography tips, or of course cooking tips – you can look forward to learning something new every time you read a Tip Tuesday post!

Today’s Tip Tuesday is about an easy way to back up your WordPress Database!

wordpress-code-image

Photo Courtesy of: Mashable.com

I have been blogging for over two years now and I have NEVER backed up my blog. Not because I didn’t think it was important, but because I thought it would be too technologically challenging. Thankfully, nothing has ever happened to my data, but I would truly be devastated if my site ever got hacked or deleted during a routine update!

So, I decided to do a little research. Backing up your database COULD be difficult if you were to do it manually.  But luckily, there are plug-ins that do the work for you! Just search for the plugin “WP-DB-Backup” and you will be on your way to saving all of your data!! All you need to do is install the plugin and then you will be able to backup your entire blog.  You have the option to back up to the server, to your computer, or via email (I chose all three options for my first backup!) You can also schedule future backups in advance.

I found a great article on InMotion Hosting’s Website that which gives very easy step-by-step instructions along with screen shots on how to use the WP-DB-Backup plugin. I followed their steps and it was a breeze!

Hopefully, I never have to rely on these backups, but at least now I have the peace of mind that all of my work is saved. (How to re-install if needed?? I have no idea.  I suppose that can always be a future Tip Tuesday post if I ever need to figure out how to do it!)

 

xoxo, Food Marriage