8 years, and 13 blogs later… the TRUTH about my blogging journey, the good, the bad, and the $$$ Money $$$

WELCOME TO MY STORY!!  TODAY, March 18, 2016 is my 8 YEAR BLOGGAVERSARY!!!  I have been blogging for 8 YEARS today!  I have been thinking about this post for a few weeks, and it didn’t spill out exactly as I planned it, but, it is what it is!

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I attended a Blogging Conference last month (on a whim, really).  I have had low energy towards this blog for a while, and I was looking for ways to make more income, understand my blog better and try to get a better vision of what I wanted to do going forward with it.  While I was there, I attended a class from Jordan Page, of FunCheapOrFree.com.  I absolutely LOVED her class, she gave lots of specifics and things that I could take away to try with my blog (like many of the classes that I attended), but there were a couple of things that MAJORLY stood out to me of WHY I had been failing to grow.  #1 was perfectionism… I AM A PERFECTIONIST.  I don’t mean to be, but I am, and it is killing me!!  You will see from my story to follow, that I can be my own worst enemy.  I am beginning to understand that my perfectionism can be good in my design, BUT it kills me with time and execution.  #2 she talked about being REAL… This is hard for me.  I like my shell, I like my comfort zone and even though I have always wanted to improve in this area, I just didn’t have the courage to do it.

So here it goes!  I am getting very out of my shell, and this post is far from perfection!  I have been wanting to ‘personalize’ my blog for a long time, but I just didn’t know how to do it.  I am calling these personal posts, my “off-topics”.  I hope you can bare with me, because it isn’t a short story, but it is a REAL STORY, of a REAL BLOGGER, that DIDN’T GET RICH QUICK, but I am making a great income doing it.

Quick INTRO to my Story…

Matt (my hubby) and I both working from home, I find myself frequently in the position of trying to explain to others what exactly it is that we do for a living.  I am never put off by the question, but my answer is usually to explain our business Branches (which is easy to explain).  But… the big but… is that I do NOT like to talk about Fab N’ Free… Why? Because I’m not sure if I REALLY want them to look at it, I don’t know if I want them to see what I do.

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I am S-C-A-R-E-D…  Scared of what they will think of my designs, scared that they will think it’s just a weird hobby and that I don’t actually make any money doing it, scared that they will notice my weight in pictures, scared that they will read anything personal that I put out there, and frankly, just scared that they will think who knows what about me…

The truth is, that I have loved blogging, first and foremost, because I love being able to work from home, but a close second, is that I don’t have to personally know everyone that reads my blog.  It is NOT because I don’t love my readers… I absolutely LOVE my readers!!!  But the absolute truth is, I am a little bit Socially Awkward…  I really struggle with people, IN person.  Is that the way I want to be?? NO, not one bit, but it is what it is and it may take me a lifetime to get over some of my fears and anxieties.  I am grateful that I have a place where I can begin to peal back the layers.

This post I have to admit is a very difficult one for me to write, and I might stumble through a bit of it, but just know, that everything that I have to say is from the heart, and I hope you will enjoy my story enough to stick with me.

THIS IS MY REAL BLOGGING JOURNEY

Blog #1 – My Personal Family Blog — Launched March 18, 2008

Thanks to my very awesome Sister-In-Law, I started blogging EXACTLY 8 years ago today!!!  You can even read my very first blog post, on my very first blog (Reynolds’ Family Blog).  Isn’t it great?!?!  *eye-roll*   Raise your hand if you had or still have a family blogger blog!

My First Blog Post

As I began to spend time adding pictures of my newborn baby girl, I was feeling bored and frustrated with the look of my blog.  So, naturally, I started experimenting with my blog design.  I am/was a graphic designer, so it was easy for me to make cute blog backgrounds, but I knew NOTHING about web/blog design, but I was determined to figure it out.  I saw what Cutest Blog on the Block and several other similar bloggers were doing, but I really wanted to use my OWN designs.  So I went to my computer programmer brother, and he gave me a push in the right direction, and helped me come up with some simple lines of code that allowed me to change my background, but ALSO offer the designs to other bloggers… so there you have it, the birth of my FIRST blogging business…

Blog #2 – My Creative Outlet Blog…  “My Blog Makeover” — Launched sometime in 2008

When I first started “My Blog Makeover“, I had NO idea that blogging was a way to make money and that it was even possible.  I just genuinely thought that I would be super nice and make a few cute blog backgrounds as an outlet to help other new bloggers like myself.

Because it is hilarious, check out some of the EMBARRASSING backgrounds that I made:

Hilariously Bad Blog Background Designs

 What’s with the splatters and starbursts?!?!?!  hahaha, which one makes you laugh the most???

This blog was tons of fun and super experimental, but most importantly, it taught me SO much!

4 Great & ESSENTIAL Things that I learned from My Blog Makeover

  1. It allowed me to have a FUN creative outlet!   This is something that I needed more than I realized.  At the time, I was working as a Graphic Designer for my Uncle’s Mortgage Document Company (GREAT OPPORTUNITY, and for that I am forever thankful for!  If it weren’t for him, I would not have been able to stay home with my daughter), but as great as it was, I needed a way to continue to design fun things.  As exciting as Mortgage Document stuff is, I was finding it easy to get in a rut with my design, and I needed something opposite to do!  I am rather unique in the fact that I cannot pick ONE style or ONE type of design that I like more than everything else (supposedly a big no no in creating your own brand as a designer!), but honestly, I am to the point where I just DON’T care anymore.  If I like shabby chic AND modern AND corporate AND vintage AND whatever else it is, I loved being able to design anything I want.  “My Blog Makeover” was my first opportunity to just be me in my design (even if 8 years later, I am CRAZY EMBARRASSED with my old designs!!).
  2. I learned a skill that would opened doors for all of my future business endeavors.  Because of my goal to simply make my blog cuter, I was forced to learn the dreaded CODING!  Honestly, when I went to school for Graphic Design and worked various graphic design jobs, I LOATHED the idea of ever touching Web Design.  I was a print gal, I thought that I would just design Magazines… Brochures… Signs… Business Cards, for the rest of my life!  If you are a designer in this world, I am sorry to burst your bubble, but that ship has SAILED!  Without learning how to code, I would not have made 80% of the income that I have made in the last 8 years.  MY ADVICE: If there is something that you really WANT to do, but a skill is stopping you… LEARN it!!  Period.  I am so grateful that I just pushed through this challenge of learning HTML/CSS.  At this point, I STILL didn’t see it as a way to make money, I just WANTED to make my blog cuter…  The learning process was slow going and painful at best, but has been ESSENTIAL to my business(es) over the years.  You NEVER know what will come from learning a new skill!
  3. There are A LOT of bloggers out there, and they are really nice people.  This was a real shock for me, I wasn’t looking for a “following” I wasn’t looking for praise, I was just having fun, but I was so overwhelmed by the “THANK YOU”s and the “I LOVE YOUR DESIGNS”, “THEY ARE SO UNIQUE”…  It was nice, nice to be noticed, nice to feel like I was offering something of worth to people.  These reactions and comments, were what made blogging STICK for me.
  4. Lastly, I learned that there was potential to make MONEY blogging.  I can’t say that My Blog Makeover was ever a huge money maker, BUT, it really opened my eyes to the blogging world.  There were lots of bloggers out there, and they were making money from Sponsors, Ads, and more!  I was just amazed by it and drawn to it, I wanted to be a part of it.  I started taking small paying jobs to help others design their blog headers, their blog backgrounds, sidebar accessories, etc.  I actually was able to start using my blog to take on MY OWN clients!

 

This is NOT the end of my story with “My Blog Makeover”.  I am sure at this point you are wondering, WHAT HAPPENED??  If it was all so good, why aren’t you still doing it?

Well, I continued using the Blogger platform through the beginning of 2010ish, and over time, I had BIGGER ideas for My Blog Makeover, I spent time working with my brother (that computer programmer one!) and we came up with this grandios idea to put all my backgrounds on a website, ilovemyblogmakover.com (no longer up) and to take the little button that linked back to me (when someone downloaded one of my backgrounds) and sell it as a sponsorship!  We spent hours and hours on all of this, the website was successful, the program that we came up with worked GREAT, and I was set up to make oddles of money selling sponsorships (these buttons were getting Millions of impressions, because they were spread ALL over the web on other peoples blogs!), and BOOM, after a bit of LIFE stress, pathetic attempts on my part to sell the Sponsorships (I HATE selling, btw) and frustration with not having immediate success, I gave up…  Just like that.

I didn’t take it down right away, and it kept going, I just lost my passion for it, because I wasn’t feeling the same as when my blog was just ‘fun’.  I started looking at it too much in terms of dollars and cents.  I wanted and really NEEDED to make money at this point in my life, so I let it get to me.  I didn’t like it anymore, I started resenting that it wasn’t working in the way that I planned.

This is one of the rare personal posts that I wrote during that time:

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I continued to take on clients for Blog Design jobs because I HAD to, I needed money desperately, but I really HATED it.  If you have been around in the blogging world for a while, you might remember that Blog Designers popped up EVERYWHERE, but the hardest part about that was that I was working for pennies.  Below is one of my “Sales”, but really, let’s be honest, I never got jobs at full price..

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If you are a designer, you will understand how crazy this pricing was.  I made next to nothing!   BUT, don’t get me wrong, I will NEVER resent any of my customers, I LOVE them to this day, and yes, they got a SCREAMING deal, and I didn’t like the work, but thanks to them, they got me through some of the most financially trying years of my life!!!

I can’t tell you the exact date that “My Blog Makeover” ended, and looking back, I can see a MILLION and one ways that I could have turned that blog around for the better, but it is what it is, and I learned a TON from that blog.

Blog #3 – Makin’ Cute Blogs — Launched July 5, 2010

I am going to have to back up a little bit for this story, because I started this blog WHILE I was doing my other blog.  Crazy, yes, I put more on my plate than I can handle, but that is just me…  I started “Makin’ Cute Blogs“, because I saw the demand that was out there for learning how to diy blog design.  That was a huge part of my followers on My Blog Makeover, it was other bloggers that didn’t have the money to spend on a Blog Designer, so they were trying to do it themselves.  Being freshly self-taught in the ways of HTML/CSS, I made it my goal to share that knowledge with other bloggers, SECRETLY hoping that if they got too frustrated with the process, that they might consider hiring me to help them with their blogs.  Guess what??  IT WORKED!!!

Makin' Cute Blogs

I started finding my passion again, because I was AGAIN offering something that my readers loved!  I just loved the idea, that we women (and men), can SHARE what we know/learn and help each other out and while doing so, we can make some money from it!

I blogged at makincuteblogs.blogspot.com for about 7 months, and then came the WORDPRESS bandwagon…….  Another CHANGE and adjustment!  I started reading stories about Blogger “owning” all of your content, blogger’s blogs disappearing overnight, etc.  Who knows what was true and what was rumor, but it scared me, so I jumped on board and made the switch to WordPress.  This was exciting, but it was another HUGE learning curve for me.

At this point, I wouldn’t say that this was a BAD point for me, I was still very enthused about my blog, but it was a turning point and being a “Blogger” expert, it made it hard to now have to ALSO try to be a “WordPress” expert too, WHILE I was struggling to learn it myself.  I was yet again, starting to spread myself too thin!  The pressures to start designing WordPress blogs were more demanding and I had no choice but to go with the flow, or get left behind.  I was excited about WordPress, but I was also intimidated, it was a lot to learn, with little time to learn it, while I was still feeling the pressure to earn enough money to make financial ends meet.

During this same time period, I met quite a few fellow bloggers, many of whom I would still consider good friends.  I joined Facebook groups with them, I collaborated on ideas and posts, we helped each other with design and coding questions.  I felt like I was finding my place among my niche.   Unfortunately, just like many lessons learned in life, I learned the HARD way, that collaborating, as awesome as it can be, can also stir emotions, frustrations, jealousy, gossip and everything in between.  My interactions REALLY were mostly good, but when my ideas felt like they were being taken, when I became the subject of gossip, and when I myself got pulled into gossip and drama.  I started to feel like I just wanted to give up… AGAIN.  I felt just like I do in person… AWKWARD, out of place, not able to truly be myself.  I felt those same insecurities creeping up.  I was constantly checking my stats, comparing myself to other bloggers, I was loosing my passion, AGAIN.

I continued pressing forward, for quite a while, but how did “Makin’ Cute Blogs” end??  Well… I just let it go.  I ended up focusing more on Freelance Graphic Design (I opened a local graphic design shop, that is a story for another day), I started “Fab N’ Free” and “Design it Love it” (we will get to that later).  I really just let it go over time, until I felt like shutting it off was better than just ignoring it.  Do I regret it?  Yes and no.  I regret how this blog ended, but I did learning a lot from it and I wouldn’t be where I am now without it ending…

These are the 10 of the most VALUABLE things I learned from “Makin’ Cute Blogs”

  1. Becoming an ‘Expert’ in your field will help you grow your following.  It is easy to get lost in the idea that there are only a few ways to make money blogging, the most typical being: Ads, Sponsorships, Affiliates…  I approached blogging quite differently, mainly because I never quite fit that typical mom blog mold (I very much ADMIRE mom blogs, btw, I just have always avoided wanting to write about myself).  Makin’ Cute Blogs really helped me discover that as I posted tutorials and valuable information on how to design your own blog, that my readers were becoming very loyal and I even became friends with many of them.
  2. Listen to your readers carefully.  Because I was doing a lot of “how-to’s” and tutorials, my readers often came to me with questions, lots and lots of questions.  The best part about the feedback that I was getting, was that their questions gave me IDEAS for what my readers would pay for.  I eventually ended up creating a DIY blog design course that ended up making me a lot of money.
  3. Collaborate, but be SMART about it!  Even if I were to go back and do this blog all over again, I would not hesitate to make the friends that I did.  I would absolutely have collaborated, BUT, I would have kept a much more professional relationship with them.  Don’t just trust EVERYBODY with ANYTHING.  Yes, collaborate, but if you are ever tempted to get involved in drama, STAY OUT OF IT.  Be above it.  Nothing life altering happened, but I let small, petty things get to me.  I worried more about what others thought, than what I thought.  My creativity was completely stunted because I was involved in too much conversation.  When it comes down to it, your blog needs to be about you and for your readers, don’t let yourself get distracted from your goals.
  4. Don’t Give Up!  If you have passion for something, don’t let money, friends, self-doubt, or anything else get it your way.  Unlike My Blog Makeover, I DO have regrets about not sticking with this blog.  Knowing what I know now, I walked away from great potential and years of work.  Yes, other things came up (more money from other sources, other ideas, new businesses), but it is still something that bothers me.

 

Blogs #4, 5, 6, 7, 8, 9, 10, and 11 — The Short Lived Blogs

I didn’t want to take a lot of time going into DETAIL about ever single blog (because there have been LOTS), but just for chuckles, these are the more “short lived” blogs.

#4 – Invites by Carolynn — 2009

This isn’t technically #4, it came at right about the same time as “My Blog Makeover”, I can’t honestly remember which one came first, but I can’t say it was too successful.  It was an effort to sell custom invitations.

Invites by Carolynn

 

#5 – LDS Mother’s Against Debt — 2009

Another SUPER short-lived blog!  I opened this one in 2009.  After the market crash, my husband unexpectedly lost his job.  We already had some debt, but it only got worse with the job loss, so I anonymously started this blog, hoping to use it as a support and accountability group.  Let me just say, anonymous blogs don’t work, it is impossible to spread the word about them, lol!

M.A.D.

 

#6 – Invitations | Announcements — 2009

This was just a new version of “Invites by Carolynn”  I wanted to add Announcements (Baby Announcements).  Don’t know why that made me feel like I had to change the site???  Sometimes I wonder what I was thinking, lol!

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#8 – InvitationsCardsAndAnnouncements.com — 2009

I was going to say “Don’t Laugh”, but yes, feel free to laugh all you want, I won’t blame you!  This was the final attempt at my invitation business!!  I added cards (like Christmas Cards).  WHY I needed a brand new site for this AGAIN…  I can’t remember, but I think I must have been crazy!!

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#9 – Design Forte — 2008

This is 1 of 2 EXCEPTIONS to the “short lived” blog, but I didn’t want to spend a lot of time on this one, because all in all it was more of a Website for my Graphic Design Business (a different story for a different time), I blogged a little, but it was mostly just for getting clients and showing off my portfolio.

Design Forte

 

 

#10 – Lasting Photography — 2010

This was a blog that I created for me and my husband’s Photography Business (mostly his business, he’s the good photographer!!)  This is the other exception, we did this for quite a few years.  No regrets here 🙂  Just changed directions with what we wanted to do to earn income.

Lasting Photography

 

#11 – Design it Love it — 2011

THIS blog, was started, but I never completely ran with it for a couple of reasons.  First, I started it as a REPLACEMENT for “Makin’ Cute Blogs”, like I said before, I loved that blog, but I felt that I needed change.  The second reason, was that I wanted to start shifting my focus of how I earned money.  After I sold the blog design course that I made, I loved the idea of selling things that continued to sell themselves.  I was tired of deadlines and working around clients (not that I didn’t like the work), I just was overwhelmed by my schedule as a working mom.  I started “Design it Love it” as a way to start selling graphics to other designers and any individual that they can use in their own work.  There is no reason that I needed a NEW blog to do this, and I believe that ultimately, that is why it failed.  I was starting ALL over, and that is a SLOW process.  After Fab N’ Free started succeeding in ways that I didn’t expect, I just took this one down.  It wasn’t worth spreading myself so thin.

Welcome

 

Blog #12 – Fab N’ Free — Launched December 2011

Old Fab N' Free Logo

Oddly enough, I feel like this very blog is the hardest blog to explain.  I started this blog on December 4, 2011 and until writing this, I had not realized that it had even been this long.  Truthfully, I started this blog as a way to PROMOTE “Design it Love it”.  I had hoped that if I created a great collection of “freebies”, that I could use that traffic to promote the things that I would be selling on “Design it Love it”.

It seems like a bit of an odd idea, but at that time, things were a bit different with blogging…  SEO and Google Search results were everything!  Pinterest, I believe (I don’t know for sure), was not widely used yet, at least I wasn’t using it yet.   And I THINK it wasn’t until 4-6 months in, that I even set up an account.  My point is, that if you were looking for “freebies” at the time, it was a long process of sorting through Google.  You didn’t have images to glance at like you can on Pinterest.  For me, it was a frustrating thing to search for.  I wanted to make it EASY to find QUALITY freebies.  I wanted to be the first place people went, when they were looking for something.  THEN, I wanted to send them to my premium content at “Design it Love it”.  I also thought that I could make a little extra with Advertising.

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OBVIOUSLY, times have changed, and this is not exactly how this blog turned out.  Still the same idea, it’s a great place to find freebies!!  

Here’s how it played out…

I posted freebies consistently for months, my Google search stats were growing and I saw potential.  Hey, people like free stuff!!  I got on the Pinterest bandwagon.  I dug and dug for the best freebies to post (good ones weren’t as readily available as they are today).  I created and posted my own free things.

Then one day… one of my posts went VIRAL on Pinterest.  I remember the night well, I watched as the repins climbed and climbed and climbed, right before my eyes!  I stayed up into the LATE hours of the night, because I just couldn’t believe it.  This is the post that REALLY started this blog’s success.

I was HOOKED!  After one viral post, I was convinced that I could do it again.  I continued to post the best content that I could find and make Pinterest friendly images.  I spent hours on Pinterest, trying to learn it and figure it out.  Thankfully, many, many of my posts did go viral on Pinterest.  Not right away, it took time and persistence, but it happened!

I didn’t make a lot of money right away, you could still argue that with the stats that my blog gets now, I am sure that I have potential to make much more than I do, but like with ALL of these blogs, I still have a lot of learning to do!

How much do I make??

This is the part of the story that I have been really struggling with… I wasn’t sure, and am still not sure if sharing this is the right thing to do or not.  I know tons of other bloggers do, but it just feels private and embarrassing.  Somedays I feel overwhelmed with gratitude from the income that I make here, but other days, I feel like I make very little for the Stats that I have (compared to other bloggers).  Right choice or not, here it goes…

July 2012 – First Check for $100 from Google Adsense!!!  Woot woot!

2013 – TOTALLY approximate (I don’t remember exactly), I made about $300-600 per month from Google Adsense.  Stats: Averaged to 180,000/month

2014 – Again, approximately $1000-1600 per month from Google Adsense.  Stats: Averaged to 180,000/month

2015 – About $1200-2000 per month from Google Adsense, The Blogger Network, and Media.net  (this was the first year that I tried anything new with ads, and it DID present some challenges!)   Stats: Averaged to 185,000/month *I worked the LEAST on this blog during this year.

This year – $2200-3000 per month from Google Adsense, The Blogger Network, and Media.net.  I only recently have bugan exploring other ways to add streams of income.  I just opened a NEW Etsy shop, where I will be offering some premium things.  I have also begun to apply for Sponsored Post opportunities as well as adding Affiliate links to some of my content.  This is an experiment and I don’t know how it will pan out, but if you are interested, I could give an update in the future.  Stats: Averaging to 320,000/month *I have been putting in much more effort this year, so far anyway!!

All in all, Fab N’ Free has been a such a pleasure.  At times I feel bored with it, or LAZY with it, or just so busy with my other business (that I will get to in a moment), that I have at times gone months without posting, but when it comes down to it, this blog has truly SUSTAINED me and my family through REALLY HARD financial times for us.  SO… I really want to tell YOU, my READER, more that anything, THANK YOU!!!  Thank you for your support, your comments, your emails, EVERYTHING.  You have made it possible for me to be home with my kids, and that is PRICELESS.

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Am I quitting this blog too???

Um… no!  That is an easy one to answer.  But I do want to let you know where I plan to go with it!

  1. I actually WANT to make it more personal.  Of this I am a little terrified, but I hope that it will help me.  I DON’T WANT to feel unsocial, I don’t want to be embarrassed by my work, I don’t want to hide behind my computer screen acting like I have nothing to say about whatever it is I want to talk about.  I WANT to talk about my religion, and even share it!  I want to talk about my A.D.D., I want to help others that struggle with the same things that I do.  I want to talk about Design and Blogging.   I want to talk about genealogy…  AND I am doing it here, right on this blog, because guess what, even though this blog has been ALL freebies up until this point, I REALLY DON’T WANT TO START ANOTHER BLOG!!!   I just want this one to evolve with me.  I am a perfectionist at heart and I think that that is WHY I have started blogs over and over and over, because I want it “perfectly” branded, “perfectly” perfect.  Well, I am done with that.  My life needs more simplicity!  So I am going to apologize in advance, my “off-topic” section, will be really “off-topic”, and if you are here for only freebies, you will just have to skip those posts!
  2. I want to collaborate more with other bloggers, (not in the negative context that I have done before) but I want to help other moms, like me, make a living from their blogs.  I don’t care if they have the exact stats as me (yes, I would like to meet a few of those too!), but I just want to be more friendly, less in my bubble.  I would LOVE to start guest posting for larger blogs 😉  So if you know anyone… wink, wink….  Most of all, I never ever want to feel like I am competing with my blog and I don’t want to feel threatening to others or feel threatened myself, I just want to continue to grow and help other bloggers do the same.
  3. I want to KEEP creating and highlighting the BEST freebies out there 🙂  I want to keep YOU, my readers HAPPY!

 

You probably thought I was done… NOT quite, but almost, meet my LAST blog…

Blog #13 – Branches — Launched February 2014

This blog is UNIQUE, and at this point, it is more a normal business than it is a blog, but it did start as a blog.  This blog was very unique for me as well, I have always enjoyed the less personal version of blogging (tutorials, freebies, etc.).  I am not one that likes to talk about my personal life.  I especially find it difficult to express my religious views so openly.  I can’t say it in any other way, but I started this blog, because I felt inspired to…

Branches

Sometime in 2012, I got involved in Family History, and it not only became something that I liked to do, but I was spending the majority of my Sundays doing it.  After experiencing great blessings in my life from discovering my family history, I almost felt it my ‘mission’ to get the word out.  I wanted other young moms like myself to be able to experience the same blessings that I had from family history.   So, on February 9, 2014, I started “Branches”, you can read my first post here.

This blog has COMPLETELY changed things for me and my family.  Not only has it been very awesome to have been able to help several people with their family history and to get others excited about it, but it has made it possible for Matt and I to BOTH work from home together.  This has been a dream of ours for our whole marriage.

HOW DID WE DO IT?  I will be the FIRST to say, it was NOT because of us!

It was by the grace of GOD that we have had the opportunities that we have had with Branches.  All I can say, is that if you have a prompting to do something, DO IT!  I really can’t take credit for the success of this business.  Many decisions that we have made required huge leaps of faith and to others mays have seemed extremely risky… Have we put TONS of work into it?? YES, but with lots and lots of prayer and guidance.

The quick version of the story…

On July 18, 2014, I opened my first Etsy shop with a single design of an ancestor family tree.  You can see the Etsy listing here.  I designed this tree, kind of on a whim.  I wanted a beautiful, MODERN way to display my family history.  If you have ever spent a lot of time in the family history world, I will be NICE and say that it is a rather DATED industry.  It is CHANGING, but especially back in 2014, there was nothing quite like the design that I came up with.

Ancestral Tree - Branches

After opening the shop, I had hopes (and still do!!) to expand my options of trees, add many many more products that are family history related, but with time constraints, the shop remained limited to the single tree for quite a while.  I made a few sales in the first few months (with little effort).  Honestly, I didn’t think much of it and I felt that I would just work on it as I could…

In November of that year (2014), my pins of the tree had started spread much further than I had even noticed and we started getting ORDERS…  like not an order here and there, but we were getting nearly 4-5 orders per day, with additional requests for custom trees.  It was like a wildfire!  Matt was working a full-time (+overtime) job at the time.  I had 3 children (6 and younger) and I was 6 months pregnant with my 4th.  IT WAS CRAZY!!!  Luckily Matt is a graphic designer as well, or I think I would not have survived, he helped me and we worked till 3am or so nearly every night that year until Christmas.

After a very successful few months, I knew that if I was going to promote this business further and actually TRY to grow it, that I could not do it alone.  Knowing that it was going to be a heavily seasonal business, we discussed Matt leaving his employment later the next year as it got busier, we discussed part-time job ideas for him, seasonal jobs, and the list went on.  It was really hard for us to know what to do, not having any way to predict the future.  Will still had steady income from Fab N’ Free, but it was just not enough to live on alone.  After a lot of prayer and thought, we strongly felt that Matt was to quit his job outright and that we were to work on this business with most of our energy.  Again, this was CRAZY and it was NOT an easy route to take, but looking back, it was necessary.

Past and Present Family Tree

Long story, short… We worked, we worked, we struggled, we moved in with parents (instead of opting for Matt to go back to work, which he could have done!), we used EVERY last of our last bit of income preparing for a Craft Fair (Swiss Days).  All CRAZY STUFF, THAT MADE NO SENSE, but we felt so guided, every step of the way.  We simply knew that it was what we were supposed to do, so we took those leaps of faith, and did it.

Swiss Days was SO incredibly successful for us.  We made more money in 2 days, then we had made in that entire year from Branches.  I had no way of know that it would turn out the way it did.  Since then, we have had another successful Christmas season.

We are currently enduring the ‘dry-spell’ that we expect to happen every year, but we endure it gladly, knowing that we are living our dream and doing something that brings so much joy to our customers.

 

SUMMING IT ALL UP…

All in all, I LOVE blogging.  Is it a weird job to have? YES.  Is it easy? NO, but it has been so worth it.  I absolutely love working from home and I highly recommend it to any mother who wants to stay home with their kids.  I didn’t get rich quick with my blog, and I still am NOT rich, in fact, I am still scrapping to get by, BUT we have what we need, and for my family it has been so worth it because we are so close knit and we are making our dreams happen.  There is something special about the fact that we all get to spend our days together.  It is VERY hard to be disciplined and to stay focused, but we continue to learn and we will continue to do so!  Hopefully there are no “9-5 jobs” in our future!

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This post was about the JOURNEY, but I DO want to write a post (very soon) about the HOW TO.  So watch for a post, and I will share a lot of my pointers about starting your own blog.  I will try to get specific about what I know and mistakes that I made, so that you hopefully don’t have to make those mistakes yourself!

Thanks for making it to the end with me!!

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Comments

  1. That’s a lot of blogs. I’ve been blogging for almost 3 years at Fearlessly Creative Mammas and for a little over 4 years at Pebble Pirouette. It’s a learning process and every time I think I have something figured out, it gets changed. I’d really love to have a post go viral, but it is yet to happen. I think doing something you love is a great reward for the hard work. I’d love it to continue for years to come.

    • Keep it up!!! It is SUCH a learning process, isn’t it?!?! Yes, viral posts are amazing, and I feel like they are getting harder and harder to get… I had a lot more success with Pinterest 1-2 years ago than I am having now, but I keep trying and I am learning new techniques that I hope will help 🙂

  2. I think I met you at Swiss days. I am so glad I found you. I wanted to order a tree for Christmas and lost your business card. I am so glad I found you again. I love these trees. Such an amazing business. I also love your post. I to have blogged for years but just get bored or over stressed or to busy to get it done. Thanks for the perspective. Pinning your tress and sharing on my FB page!

  3. When you said you didn’t really want people to know your blog, I totally get that. You are basically describing me! I love how real the post is though and I’m looking forward to more posts!

    • Thank you Kim!! It’s great not to feel alone in these seemingly weird feelings that I have! This post really helped me a lot, mostly, it was just getting it out there and realizing that I am not the only one.

  4. I’ve been a fan of yours since Makin’ Cute Blogs. I remember being disappointed when you announced that you would be closing the site down. It was such a great resource!

    I can relate to you so much. Sometimes I felt like you were telling my story. Only last year did I decide to step out of my shell and start connecting/interacting with others. For the longest time, I didn’t even have a photo of my myself on my website.

    Some may see the number 13 and think whoa, that’s a lot of blogs. But me, I see a true entrepreneur. You’re so talented, Carolynn. Anything I’ve ever seen from you has been of high quality.

    Congrats on the success of Fab N’ Free. I’m about to go pin crazing scheduling your freebies to my “Freebies” board.

    I hope to get to know you better as you write more personal content.

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