One year. Wow, is it really true? I’ve been chugging away at this thing officially for one year now! It is so hard to believe that is even possible. What is even harder to believe is just how far we have come in this year and just how much life has changed. Today I’d love to take a trip down memory lane, catch up our new friends, and chart the way for the year to come. Will you come along with me?
Before the Blog I was Clueless to All Things “Bloggy”
Would you believe me if I told you that before I started blogging, I didn’t even know what a blog was? Okay, I knew what one wasm but I had NO clue how to follow one. I knew of Young House Love from our research during our vintage recycled wedding, but other than that I was lost when it came to blogs. I loved Pinterest. That might give me some credit in the blog world, except I didn’t really “follow” one particular blog on Pinterest, let alone know that the images on there were from blogs. I was a mess.
Then the whole homeschool thing happened (we can get to that soon), and our life changed. It changed A LOT! I suddenly found myself needing to “follow” blogs to keep track of where I was finding good activities to try with the kids. I found 4 that I loved and I bookmarked them and I am pretty sure I read everything in their archives. Little did I know that I would actually get to “meet” and become best friends with some of the bloggers behind these blogs. I still have my little note that says “Blogs I SHOULD Follow: Red Ted Art, Dirt and Boogers, Fun at Home with Kids, and Afterschool with Smartypants“. Haha, did you see that… blogs I SHOULD follow. I told you I was a mess.
So, you might be wondering.. if I didn’t know what a blog was, why would I ever even think to start one?
Big Dreams, Big Ideas, and a Sudden Change
A little over a year ago, our life was turned upside. You see, we had a plan. It was a good plan, too. It had always been my dream to open my own preschool. I went into to teaching to do this, and looked up one day and realized I had been in the classroom for 12 years and was not even one step closer. So when I got pregnant, we made a plan to start the wheels rolling. I was going to stay home with her, take care of her, make yummy dinners, go on field trips with my older kids, maybe even be a room mom and plan my school. I was on a 3-year time line. All things looked possible.
Then things started to spiral. If you are a regular here, you know that things got pretty ugly at school for our oldest son. Again, this is a story for another post which I promise to tell, you just have to remind me so I don’t forget. Anyways, long story short, he was home from school 14 out of the first 17 days of third grade due to suspensions, being hurt from restraints at school, and out of us feeling afraid of his safety. Even though we saw the severe signs starting in second grade, we thought we might be able to “muscle” through it and continue on our path. That proved to not be the case.
We spent the first 3 months of last year researching Sensory Processing, going to evaluations, going to school meetings, dealing with school officials, working on IEPs and 504s in hopes that we could find a fit for him in the school system. However, when it was all said and done, it was clear that home would be the best place for him but that meant that my dreams had to change. That meant that I had to put my dreams on hold. I was reluctant.
“Will Blog for Wine”
So there we were. Faced with this new life development. This new plan. This new path. I remember the emptiness I felt when I realized that my dream of owning a school was gone. I mean we were going to homeschool, that could mean the next 18 years of my life would be filled with teaching my children at home and supporting them there. It was a different plan than I had in mind.
I remember vividly, sitting at the kitchen table thinking and brainstorming how we would ever get by on just one salary forever. I mean, we had planned for me to stay home for a small bit and had saved for that… but we were not prepared for me to never contribute financially to the household again. That’s when I remembered those 4 blogs I followed. That’s when I remembered Young House Love. That’s when I suddenly remember all the friends that had blogs. Was it really possible. Was blogging actually a “thing”? Did these people actually enjoy it AND make money at it? How hard could it be? Right?
After doing my research and learning from my good friend Becca, that you can in fact earn money from blogging. I was Ready! I decided then to set a new goal! My goal for my first year was to make $500 a month by the END of the year.
I figured that would be enough money to pay for my wine. And boy was I going to need wine during the next year.
Questions, Questions, and More Questions
I had NO CLUE how to start a blog.
I didn’t know the first thing about writing a post, creating a blog url, creating an image… nothing! I was clueless. So you know what I did?
If you know anything about me, you know I asked questions. Lots of questions. I talked to my husband’s best friends. I talked to my friend Becca. I even (are you ready for this) reached out and asked those blogs questions. Yes, I know its embarrassing. But I did it. I reached out to both Amanda (of course I didn’t know her name then) from Dirt and Boogers and Asia from Fun at Home with Kids. To me, these were celebrities. They were doing it. They were successfully blogging and creating beautiful work so I emailed them both the same letter and was so surprised when both of them responded so kindly and with so much help.
And there it was. A blog was born. Wait… a lot more went into creating a blog and getting it started, right? How about I reserve that for another day too? If you want to hear about it, let me know and I would be happy to tell that story. It would be fun for me.
A Blog Was Born
For some reason, when I started the blog, I thought it would be a lot of fun to start the same day as I started homeschooling. What was I thinking? Our first official day of homeschooling was November 18th, 2013. Guess when my first blog post was? November 17th and even that was a fluke. You see, my first post ever was written without any planning or forethought. In fact, I was supposed to be setting up the “about me” pages and getting the rest of the blog designed for the first day, when life happened and I felt I needed to write about it.
It’s funny, your first post is supposed to make you cringe. Make you embarrassed. But I loved this post. In fact, I still do. You can read my first impromptu post here. ( I will admit, I have updated the image since the first time I published it, but the words have not been touched. )
All the early posts were not of this caliber. In fact, they were the opposite. They were raw. They were rough around the edges. And you know what, that is okay.
Just for fun, I’ve listed my some of posts here so you can check them out, if I haven’t bored you to tears already.
- Day One: My Inner Thoughts Behind the Blog
- Day By Day: Our Homeschool Plan
- Homeschool : Keepin’ It Real
- Homeschooling Gone Wrong
You get the point. These posts were raw. Things continued like this for quite some time. Each post getting a tad better than the last as I asked more questions and learned more each day.
Blogging Away.. Making Goals and Blowing Through Them
What happened next is nothing short of a miracle. Honestly… It kinda seems like a blurr so I will try to tell you all about it the best I can. Last year in December, I got the most awesome Blogging Planner to keep me organized for the year to come. I remember looking through the planner and thinking that there was no way I would ever use some of the pages (especially the “income” reports). I even messaged the creator, he talented Melissa at Mama Miss, and commented on how I had no clue how to set the goal in the front of the planner or how I would fill 1 income sheet for the whole year, let alone one for each month. Where was this magic income supposed to come from?
She encouraged me to do my best and set a realistic goal. So I did. Want to see?
I was not kidding when I said I had no clue how to set a blog goal. The only thing I could think of was numbers. So that is where I started. By the end of my first year of blogging I had the following goals:
- Facebook Following: 2500
- Pinterest Following: 1000
- Instagram: 500
- Pageviews: 1,000 a day
- Income: $500 a month (I had no clue how I was going to do this.)
Little did I know that those goals were nothing close to what would actually happen in the first year of blogging. Here is what actually happened:
- Collaborate and Network with some of the best Bloggers around
- Create and Implement Several Series
- Run several successful giveaways with multitudes of entries
- Become a Resource for Parents and Educators
- Create a Support Group for anyone needing help to support a child with Sensory Needs
- Open a Store and a seperate website dedicated to sharing and spreading sensory awareness
- Co-write a book (and almost publish it)
- Grow a community that is engaged and interested in what I write about
- Make friends that I never knew existed
- Turn blogging into a full-time business
Then there were the numbers (but they were second to the actual accomplishments). Honestly, if the numbers were only the size of my original goals I would still call this year a huge success. Look at everything I learned and how much I grew over the last year. So, you know what? I am not going to share my numbers in this post. I am going to save that for another day. This story is about how my goals, my plans, my life got turned completely upside down and I was able to make a new path. One that I never knew existed.
This story is about the friends I made along the way. This story is about the connections I have made. This story is about the growth I have experienced as a person, a friend, and a business owner. You know the best part? I couldn’t have done any of it without you! None of it.
That’s why I have decided to take this week to say thank you! All week long, I will be sharing some of my favorite blogs with you, bringing you some really cool items from these cool blogs and sharing more of my story. Thank you for making this an amazing year. Thank you for making this a life changing path for me and my family! I am forever grateful!
Until Next Time,