blogging

The Blogging Life: The Sweet {Tooth} Life

Saturday, August 02, 2014

I have the huge privilege of sitting back and letting one of my best friends do all the talking today.  Mary Frances from the Sweet {Tooth} Life has put in a lot of time and thought on how she started blogging, along with her long process in which she switched from Blogger to Wordpress and began to slowly bring in income.  She's a huge source of inspiration for me, and I can't wait for you to meet her! 
 
 
 
Before we jump into the nitty-gritty stuff of the post, I interviewed her with a few fun questions so you all could get to know her better;) 
 
Favorite smoothie combo?  Strawberry, banana, and mango.

Earliest childhood memory?  This is the third house we've lived in, but at the very first house, where I was only at for four years, I remember sitting at the kitchen table, with my younger brother across from me, happily eating mashed potatoes, when suddenly there was mashed potato in my hands and on his face, and vice versa ... let's just say we got excused very quickly from the table.  My first and last food fight I've been a part of.

Last movie at the theatre?  I'm so thankful for a discipleship group that went to see God's Not Dead because otherwise I would have to say The Pirates Who Don't Do Anything back in 2008 ... my family isn't a movie going family if you haven't caught on.  We watch a lot of sports.  A LOT of sports.
 
Sperry's or Toms?  Sperry's.  Totally and completely Sperry's.  They are so darn cute!  I do have a pair of Tom's BUT in my defense, they were only $15 at a resale store.  Top that $80 Sperry's *trying to ignore how adorable they are*  **not working**

One word to describe myself?  Ugh, I have a hate/love relationship with these kind of questions.  I love seeing what people say because you have to be very thoughtful and purposeful with your answer.  However, my mouth seems to be constantly on caffeine and I rarely use one word.  But I'll give this my best shot.  In all serious, I'd choose "committed."  In all not so seriousness, I'd choose "ridiculous" :)

Favorite blog post?  From a reflective stand point, my post on Club volleyball and from a food standpoint, this Funfetti Mug Cake.  I think they are some of my best photos and the recipe won Best Single Serve in the Go Dairy Free Contest.
 
Oceans or mountains?  Mountains.  I cannot get over how big they are!  They remind me of how awesome our God is whenever we visit.  There is something surreal about seeing them on the horizon every day.  I do live in the plains so any sort of hill is very, very inspiring. ;)

Why did I start food blogging?   It started out as an English assignment and our teacher said we could post poems, stories about our day, recipes, etc. and I locked in on recipes.  I was just getting into baking at that time and without knowledge that there were such things as food blogs, I began posting more and more recipes with pictures instead of regular posts. I really didn't know what I was getting into at that point! 
 
 
 
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Ok, so how does one even start blogging?  Some people plan it out, know what they are doing before they start, and have a professional site the day it goes live. 

That was NOT me.

I started out on Blogger as an English assignment and I posted ten times in the first couple days or something like that.  I was hooked onto the whole aspect of blogging - personal posts, comments, followers, website design - everything.  Because I started out on Blogger, I was able to change the header and the layout and the background easily.  Kid in a candy store?  Pretty much me.  There was no need to know HTML code or anything like that ... yet :)  In fact, me and Chloe would get together and work on our blog design.  We would pin tutorials on Pinterest, try them on our get togethers, and occasionally pull our hair out.  I remember a huge victory was creating Pinterest boards (Pinterest widget builder) and adding to our blog.  We felt so darn snazzy - and we were! 

But, it was these get togethers that showed me how limited Blogger was.  I couldn't add a recipe page, I couldn't add a contact form, I couldn't add share/pin it buttons, I couldn't couldn't couldn't.  At least not without a web designer and I was not ready to spend money on blogging.  I was still the kid in the candy store, simply looking at all the widgets and plugins and fancy stuffs on the top shelves that only the big bloggers had and no plan on how to get past blogspot.com to my own blog. 

So for almost a year, I commented on other blogs, started submitting recipes to recipes sites, linking up with parties, and making some amazing friendships with other bloggers.  But I was still on blogspot and it was very limiting to my growth as a blogger.  Through countless emails via blogging friends (blogging is truly about community. period)  I slowly researched everything, and I mean everything, about moving my blog to a hosted site (.com vs. .blogspot.com)  Then there was the research sessions on buying a theme, why it all worked, how much it would cost, how to work with advertisers, how much money I could make ... it was a whole lot of information!  The biggest thing for me was figuring out if being able to run ads on a hosted site would balance out the cost of moving.  It was going to cost several hundred dollars to move www.thesweet-toothlife.blogspot.com to www.thesweet-toothlife.com and create a layout I loved - I wanted to make sure I could pay that off in a couple months and start making a profit.  I was putting in 24-30 hours a week blogging and while on blogspot, I was making nada.  Blogging was quickly moving from hobby to a full time commitment and if I wanted to keep it that way, I needed to get moved and start running ads to make it worth it. 

Oh my gosh.

Whoever said moving was easy?  Liar. With the pants on fire for dramatic effect.

Cue the research of who could move my site for cheapest in the quickest amount of time.  There are a lot of details to figure out when moving your site and how involved the mover will be.  After several frustrating weeks, I found Erin at Black Chicken Hosting thanks to a blogging friend.  She is the best, you guys, she was like a real person who cared and responded to my emails.  She did everything for me and it was such an answer to prayer!  I had a couple hiccups afterwards, and I did question if this was worth it, but I was finally on that top shelf in the candy store, surrounded by the biggest and best blogging support and tools.  If you ever want to know what a blog is hosted by, look at the bottom of their site.  You will see if it is hosted by Blogger or Wordpress and what theme (aka, prebought or tweaked layout) they use.  Like, if you look at my site, it says "Copyright © 2014 · Foodie Theme by Shay Bocks · Built on the Genesis Framework · Powered by WordPress"   I bought the Foodie theme and Genesis Framework and host via Wordpress.  When I was on Blogger, it said "Copyright 2013 The Sweet {Tooth} Life. All Rights Reserved. Simple template. Powered by Blogger."  I picked Simple Template based on looking at other Blogger sites I liked and that was the template they used (it is VERY customable)  And I picked Genesis and Foodie based on recommendations, and again, seeing it on other sites.  If you are looking at redoing your site, pick your favorite blogs and do some research on what they use.  It is very helpful.

Ok, break time!  Is this information overload or what?  Basically, this is three years worth of thoughts being summed up by a, well, mouth on caffeine :)

How do I make money on my hosted site?  It took me a while.  In my head, it was all, move, go live, apply, run ads, make money!  Like, within a week.  So not the way it works.  I had to research what agencies were the best and read all their contracts.  Some pay you every month, others every two months.  Some take 50% of the profit from the ads, some take less.  Some require a certain number of pageviews to apply. 

It is hard to be rejected.  It can be discouraging trying to discern pages of legal work.  But now that I am past those couple months of really hard work, it is definitely worth it.
 

There are a lot of details you need to know when filling out applications: how many unique visitors you have per month, how many page views per month, what ad sizes you can run on your site, how many followers you have on social media ... yada yada yada.  I had to fill out and sign contracts, scan and email them back to the agencies; I was so grateful for my parents help at this point.  I would've been overwhelmed by all the legal mumbo jumbo (at least to me!) at that point. 

The agency I'm working with right now Is Glam (Thanks to a LOT of help from Zainab, blogging buddy at www.blahnikbaker.com - she is a gem!) For backfill, I'm using Gourmet Ads.  Last month, I made $145 between the two.  I'm getting about 80K views per month.  I am not quite sure the hours I put in as we have been pretty busy the last two weeks :)   

Is it as good as a real job?  Depends on why you are doing it.  If you want to be paid, don't blog.  It took me 18 months of blogging with no paycheck before I realized there was a world called blogs and advertising.  If you love blogging and have consistent followers and page views, go for it.  You are already working hard!  I work social media because I love the community of blogging.  I spend hours editing photos and righting because for me, it is my art, my creative outlet.  I keep going because I can see growth, no matter how small it is, and I see the potential for The Sweet {Tooth} Life a couple years down the road.  It isn't all sugar and candy either because let me tell you, the Internet connection at our house is fickle and let me tell you, I have had more arguments with a computer screen than I care to admit.  This is the ridiculous side of me ... right along side the committed :)  This post is just scratching the surface of all that goes into picking out a host, HTML, SEO, sponsored posts, and ads.  With anything you love, there is work, but it is all so, so worth it. 

If you are interested in the nitty gritty details of moving from Blogger to Wordpress, I have a three part series on my blog.  http://thesweet-toothlife.com/2014/04/how-i-moved-from-blogger-to-wordpress-part-1/  If you have any questions, I'd love to hear from you, either in the comments, or on my site via the contact page.  And if you liked what you saw, tell Chloe a big thank you for encouraging me to write this and letting me share on her site! 
 
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*huge round of applause for probably one of the longest posts I've ever seen*
 
If there's any brain power left after reading that, you should have realized by now that Mary Frances is wonderful and you need to check out her site and social pages:
 
Blog: http://thesweet-toothlife.com/

Thanks so much Mary!



 
 

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5 comments

  1. Aw thank you Chloe! You are way too sweet lady :) Oh my gosh, I cracked up so hard at the fabulous - oh honey, so perfect! Haha, and I loved the part about having brain power left. My brain feels like mush far too much of the time ...
    Again, thank you Chloe, especially for the fun colors and quotes to break up all my rambling. You rock!

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