Blogging Questions and Blogging Resources
Today, I want to share with you the answers I receive from friends, family and followers about blogging. These are questions about blogging in general, and my experience with blogging. I hope this can clarify the “behind-the-scenes” mystery of blogging for you.
Why is your blog popular?
I wish I could say that achieving a successful blog was as simple as whipping up a recipe of Special Blog Sauce and liberally spreading it on your keyboard. But it’s not that simple, and even as I’ve experienced the journey myself, it’s difficult for me to pinpoint the exact ingredients that created Empowered Sustenance. These are the most important ingredients for me, I believe:
1. Personal struggle and triumph. I’ve been through an extreme challenge and got stronger from it. It took me 18 years to realize that I wasn’t destined for a calm life, and that I should embrace the pain, challenge, and triumph in my path. My illness was extreme and my recovery was extreme, and that gave me the courage I needed to embrace the challenge of blogging.
2. Passion. I live and breathe a passion for wellness – for continuing to make myself well, and to help make others well. The word empower, I believe, encompasses my highest calling in life. I am fulfilled at a deep level when I empower both myself and others.
3. Authenticity. Authenticity is that elusive but unmistakeable quality that makes a blog memorable. My biggest piece of advice for bloggers? Be your authentic self. People want to connect with and learn from the genuine you. The caveat? This doesn’t work so well if authentically you are a mean-spirited person. But even in that case you’ll authentically attract not-so-nice people (this really is the pattern).
4. I work really hard. There’s no shortcut for the thousands of hours I’ve put into my blog over the past three years. But I wouldn’t have given up a single hour, because I’ve learned so much and grown as a person. I worked hard on the parts I loved, such as recipe development and graphic design. And I worked just as hard on the parts I really didn’t love, such as figuring out all the technical aspects, such as photography editing and behind-the-scenes maintenance.
5. I made a commitment and stuck with it. Four months after I started blogging, I knew I wanted to take it farther. I made a commitment to post once at least week, and I’ve stuck to that commitment without a single exception. That alone didn’t make Empowered Sustenance popular, but I think that goal signified the commitment I made.
6. Networking. Fostering friendships and partnerships with other bloggers has definitely been a key part in Empowered Sustenance. It can be difficult to get plugged into a network with like-minded bloggers, but once you do, it’s an incredible support system. Start by reaching out to bloggers (I’d recommend focusing on bloggers with an audience size similar to your own) through comments on their posts. Another way is offering to guest post for someone, and offering a professional and organized proposal.
How much time do you spend blogging?
If you ask 100 bloggers this question, you’ll get 100 different answers. In my experience, building a blog does carry a snowball effect. I’ve been able to put less hours into it this year compared to the first year.
On average, last year (when I was not a full-time student), I put in about 30 hours a week. That did include my meal preparation, which was often testing ingredients and recipes.
This year, I’m a full-time student. I’m putting in less hours doing social media and recipe testing. However, a significant portion of my school work is research for blog posts, since my major is focused on the mind-and-body health connection.
Many blogs similar in size to Empowered Sustenance have more than one person doing the day-to-day stuff, such as ghost writers or virtual assistants. I like doing all the tasks and – so far – make enough time for it, so I’m the only one here.
Do you make money blogging?
The short answer is yes, I now support myself with blogging. I wouldn’t be able to dedicate so much time blogging if I couldn’t make an income through it. But the income didn’t happen overnight.
When asked what I do, I tell people that my job is blogging. In my experience, people tend towards two assumptions when I share this:
1. “Anyone can blog, that’s an insignificant and unimportant task.”
2. “You make a living blogging? That’s absolutely amazing, you must be a genius or something!”
Well, neither of those assumptions are accurate, but they are understandable. If you want to make money blogging, cash isn’t going to fall in your lap even if your blog is popular. You need to make it a goal to create a blogging income. For me, this included writing books, putting advertisements on the blog, and recommending a very select circle of products through affiliate programs.
What does blogging entail?
Another frequent question I receive is, “What exactly do you do to maintain a blog?”
- Creating blogging content – Testing recipes, writing blog posts and newsletters each week.
- Creating content for sale – One of the ways I support myself is through my popular self-published on Amazon. Many bloggers write books or create online courses/classes to help cover expenses.
- Social media – Social media takes a daily time investment for me. For example, I spend about 15 minutes a day on Pinterest and 15 minutes on Facebook (time includes searching for good links to share).
- Marketing and working with sponsors – This includes either reaching out to sponsors or them reaching out to me. I talk to them and research and try their product/service. Then, I write about my experience to share with you.
What’s a typical day for you?
Many of you know that I’m a full-time student studying health psychology at Bastyr University, a naturopathic college. When I first started college a few years ago, I had to leave because my health was so dire. This fall, I was healthy enough to be back in school and I’ve changed the direction of my education.
Okay, that’s the background story. Now, I’ve settled into a rhythm that allows me to balance my health, school, and blogging.
On a typical class day, I have classes from the morning until the afternoon. After classes, I spend either two hours on blog work or homework. On non-class days, I spend 2-3 hours each on blog work and homework. I don’t have weekends off from blogging or studying, but I’m comfortable with the pace because I schedule time to hang out with friends and rest.
My health is also something that I prioritize in my schedule – I can’t slack on sleep, healthy food or stress management. I’ve learned that lesson the hard way, and I’m never going to forget it! Every couple of days, I spend a good 2.5 hour chunk of time doing batch cooking. That way, my fridge is stocked with staples like prepared veggies, healthy protein, and bone broth – things I can quickly heat up for a nourishing meal. I also allocate more time in my schedule than average for health appointments such as acupuncture and energy work, which I’ve found critical for preventing flare-ups of symptoms while at school.
What blogging resources do you recommend?
I wanted to include this in a post, since I’m so frequently asked, “I want to start a blog, what blogging resources do you suggest?” Or, “What platforms do you recommend for newsletters and domain hosting?”
- Bluehost – For domain hosting. I’ve experienced good customer service and the user dashboard is pretty easy to use.
- Synthesis – For website hosting. I used Bluehost to host my website, but switched to Synthesis once my traffic increased significantly. It sped up the page loading time and their customer service is excellent.
- Studiopress – For website frameworks. I can’t recommend Studiopress enough!
- ConvertKit – For email lists and building your newsletter. I’ve tried many, many platforms and this is hands-down the winner.
- AdThrive – A small company that helps maximize your ad revenue (they take a commission, but still it’s better than using just Google ads). You have to have at least 300,000 page views per month to be eligible.
WordPress Plug-Ins I recommend
- Pin It Pro – allows you to select which image from the post will be pinned
- Akismet – for spam, only $5 a week. Better than all the free spam plugins I tried.
- W3 Total Cache – an essential for every WordPress blog
- WordPress SEO – another essential
- Related Posts – for post suggestions at the end of a blog post, the best-looking option I’ve tried
- Simple Social Icons – for sharing buttons on each post
- Zip List Recipe Plugin – the template I use for my recipes
I hope this behind-the-scenes tour and blogging resources answered some of your questions! Thank you so much for your encouragement and support over the past few years, Empowered Sustenance would not be here if it wasn’t for you.