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My Professional Background - Once upon a time, I wanted to be a motivational speaker. Actually, I was a professional motivational speaker for about 5 years.:
12 Things I've Learned about Professional Blogging

I don’t know if I ever told y’all this, but Katy in a Corner is actually my third blogging venture.

[Wow. So, third time’s a…Dirty Dancing parody? That is just sad.]

My first blog (or what I called an online journal at the time) went live in 2003 and was entitled, “Postcards from Leeds.” It chronicled my year abroad as an ambassadorial scholar for the Rotary Foundation. I was a serious professional back when I was 22.

I've Got French Cuffs

You know what this photo says? “Look out, world. I’ve got French cuffs, and I know how to use them.”

I wrote about my wild, single life and how I hung out at Starbucks until last call, ate my weight in almond biscotti, and subsequently gained 35 pounds in 10 months.

Jelly Belly

Apparently, copious amounts of almond biscotti will turn one into a giant, pink jelly bean. I did not know this beforehand.

Y’all, that blog was epic.

The second blog I created went live in 2005 and was entitled “The Morgan Trail.” It chronicled our lives as a newlywed, military couple. I wrote about living in Florida, Mississippi, Oklahoma, England (again), and I wrote once or twice from our current location in Kansas. I even ventured into vlogging (video blogging) some on The Morgan Trail. I once did a silent, sped-up lip-sync to…well, I’ll let y’all try to guess the song.

The only excuse I have for the ridiculousness of this video is that I was doped up on pregnancy hormones.

Once again, epic.

When I first published Katy in a Corner last August, I did so with a slightly different objective. Sure, I wanted to share my potty training woes with my parents, but I decided from the outset that I would attempt to embarrass them on a much larger scale this time. I wanted to have an entrepreneurial focus. I wanted a business plan.

Basically, I wanted to get paid to embarrass my family. So, that’s exactly we have done.

Except that I have embarrassed them a whole lot more than I have been paid.

Now, I will say that my growth on Katy in a Corner hasn’t been groundbreaking. There were months where traffic (and my own “voice”) were stagnant—even nonexistent. I didn’t suddenly go viral and end up on the Today Show.

But, I have learned a few things about this growing business of blogging, and I’d love to share them in the hopes that they’ll give you a little insight into what it is I do when I’m not “working” on Facebook.

12 Things I’ve Learned about Professional Blogging:

1)  Consistency is king. 

I haven’t exactly been the poster child for this (due to life circumstances, mostly), but the weeks I am consistently dedicated to blogging and social media engagement, my traffic grows steadily. The weeks I went AWOL, so did my readership.

2)  Guest posts are effective.

This is by far one of the best ways I have found to attract new, engaged readers. I have had some incredible opportunities to guest post on Brooke Burke’s blog ModernMom, My Life and Kids, HouseTalkN, and several others. These opportunities led many of you here today. And I’m so glad these wonderful people were willing to share you with me!

3)  Photos/graphics are essential.

I’m not one for posting stock photography (photos taken by other photographers) on my blog at this point because I want this space to represent me. I see nothing at all wrong with stock photos on other blogs, but I believe that my personal photos give you a better idea of who I really am—bad photography and all.

Fatherly Glory

See what I mean? How else would you experience Brian in all his fatherly glory (notice the pink bow on his pants)?

But regardless of the type of image, the fact is that people are most engaged when they can put a face with blogger. Even more so if they can put a voice and mannerisms with the blogger, which leads to…

4)  Video adds credibility.

This is one that I knew from day one, but I was surprised by the magnitude of it. I ran into at least 3 dozen complete strangers at the BlogHer ’13 conference who recognized my face, and a few even yelled out, “You’re Katy in a Corner!” To which I replied, “Oh, stop it. You’re embarrass…did you want me to autograph your forearm with this Sharpie I happen to have in my front pocket?”

Seriously, if you’re a fellow blogger and don’t know where to get started with this whole vlogging thing, then I probably have a video or two in the works for you now. (Wink, wink.)

5)  Blogging is a legit business.

My dad and my father-in-law have been incredible resources for me throughout this blogging year. And what they have taught me is that my skills and my time are valuable, so I shouldn’t discount those because I’m a stay-at-home blogger who dances around in pink slippers and sits in a laundry basket eating Pringles.

I'm a Professional

I’m a professional, thankyouverymuch!

6)  Sleep on it.

This is a favorite of mine. I have had so many posts that I stopped just moments before their publication time because I had a chance to sleep on them and reconsider my purpose.

7)  Gatekeepers are essential.

Brian, my dad and my mom are my main gatekeepers. Because nothing I could say in a silly, inconsequential blog post is worth the damage I could do to my relationships, my witness, and my business if I fire off every thought that comes into my mind. They help me balance my humor with humility.

8)  Negative comments are a good sign.

If I get nothing but positive feedback day in and day out, then I know I’m doing one of two things wrong:  1) either I’m not writing anything that really resonates with people or 2) only my family is reading this stuff. I do get the greatest negative comments on my YouTube channel, y’all. Seriously, they’re hilarious.

9)  Set attainable, lofty goals.

If I could give one piece of professional (rather than moral or personal) advice about blogging, this is it. Because when I sat down on August 16, 2012, I had two goals posted on my dry-erase board in front of me. Just two. The first goal was “get published on BlogHer,” and the second was “speak at a blogging conference.” These were two things I thought would represent a successful first year of blogging, and—by the grace of God—I accomplished them both within that first year. Actually, the first goal was accomplished within a few, short months.

The moral:  Set some goals and write them down where you have to stare at them every day.

10)  Bloggers help other bloggers.

God has put several fellow bloggers in my path who have encouraged me in ways they will never know. The one who actually convinced me to start blogging again is the multi-talented Angela Shelton. She told me everything I needed to know about how to get started and has been a cheerleader of mine ever since. And then there is Anna Luther who has basically told me every single incredible business secret she knows simply because she is a wonderful person. I’m not sure why she hasn’t asked me to stop emailing her questions yet, but she just keeps answering them so graciously. Anna, you’re my Fairy Godblogger. We must find you a glittery wand.

In addition to these wonderful women, there are so many other bloggers who have sent messages and left comments to encourage me along the way. I’m blown away by their thoughtfulness.

11)  Stay true to the core message.

This is one that I have struggled with from time to time. I said from the outset that Katy in a Corner is a place where other moms can come to feel encouraged and uplifted. I want it to be free from profanity or vulgarity for 3 reasons: 1) because I take the Bible seriously (Eph. 5:4, Matt. 12:36-37, James 1:26, etc.), 2) because my 91-year-old grandmother reads this, and 3) because my high school drama teacher once said that vulgarity and profanity are the cheapest forms of humor, and I have never forgotten that.

In addition, I believe that any humor or entertainment at the expense of someone else is not worth the cost.

12)  Know when to stop.

This is by far THE most difficult part of blogging for me, and it’s something I’ll probably struggle with my entire career. Because I don’t always know when to step away from my blog and actually live life so I can engage with my family and maybe have something meaningful to write about!

And, let’s be honest, I don’t really want to be the one to contribute to the stereotype that all mom bloggers sit around in yoga pants and no makeup while their kids are plopped in front of the TV and the dishes and laundry are stacked to the ceiling. Because that’s just sad.

Letter of Resignation from the Laundry Fairy

Like I said, I’m still working on #12.

If you’re a blogger or an avid blog reader, what are some things you have learned about blogging as a business?

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Comments to "12 Things I’ve Learned about Professional Blogging"

  1. KateHall

    August 21, 2013

    I’ve learned that marketing is the biggest part of blogging. I thought I could just write my blog and people would come. Uh…no. I thought friends would tell their friends and spread my stuff around. Sure, that happens…slowly. You have to be out there every day or almost every day pushing your stuff, interacting with the peeps. It’s hard, man.
    For some reason I couldn’t hear your video. I know it’s on my end bc this has been happening lately with a lot of videos I watch. Needless to say I’m disappointed bc I really wanted to hear it. I’ll try to figure it out. But watching it was hilarious!

  2. allythompson1

    August 21, 2013

    I’ve learned that there are so many great old posts for me to market to get people interested in my blog. I’ll look back at my earlier post and find a gem that no one saw since I didn’t know what I was doing yet. Those oldies but goodies are a great source of traffic when I promote them.

  3. katyinacorner

    August 21, 2013

    KateHall The silent part of the video was intentional. Because I wanted people to guess the song without actually hearing it. I’m telling you, this was SERIOUSLY amazing stuff I was publishing back then. And now. 🙂
    You’re so right about the marketing, Kate. And this is the part with the steepest learning curve for me. SEO for Dummies is on its way to my house as we speak.

  4. katyinacorner

    August 21, 2013

    allythompson1 Awesome point. I’m so glad I saved all of my posts from my other two blogs. I have used one or two of those here to show my readers who I used to be—before motherhood turned me into a nincompoop who talks about feces.

  5. Jen Lilienthal

    August 21, 2013

    I seriously am addicted to your blogs. I go in to read a quick new one and like hours later (only because my family are standing over me with weapons) am I able to stop reading and watching. You are so dang funny. I just read the traumatized kid post and about fell off my porch laughing so hard. My neighbors prolly are ready to have me committed for looking at my little phone and looking so crazy happy.

  6. LilMondu

    August 21, 2013

    katyinacorner #2 reminds me of the post you supposedly wrote for me last fall. ;-p

  7. katyinacorner

    August 21, 2013

    @LilMondu Girl, that terrible oversight falls under #1 (life circumstances). Last fall/winter was brutal. 🙁

  8. Dawn Tuininga Rajala

    August 21, 2013

    Lindsay Kooger , you NEED to watch the video of her lip-syncing the song in this post….I laughed so hard!!!! She reminded me so much of you!!!!

  9. Lindsay Kooger

    August 22, 2013

    Haha I can see it a bit… Just a BIT

  10. Courageous Jane

    August 22, 2013

    I’m certainly not a “professional” blogger (yet), but I’ve learned the benefits of taking notes. I keep notes on when & where I’ve marketed certain posts or my homepage, and what results I’ve seen. I also note if I comment on certain highly visited blogs or websites that are relevant to my own topic. And I keep a list of bloggers I’d like to develop a “working” relationship with.

  11. Courageous Jane

    August 22, 2013

    Bwahaha! I just watched the video! That girl’s got moves!

  12. Karmen

    August 22, 2013

    This was great and helpful! Thanks for sharing! 
    Ok. What was the song???

  13. Amy at Funny Is Family

    August 23, 2013

    Consistency IS king! This was a great list of helpful tips. I don’t know if I’ll ever be ready to vlog, but everyone else swears by it!

  14. katyinacorner

    August 23, 2013

    @Karmen Only the coolest song ever—Jump by the Pointer Sisters. 🙂

  15. katyinacorner

    August 23, 2013

    Amy at Funny Is Family Guuuuuuuurl, vlogging is the thing. Honestly, when I see someone on video, I feel a very different connection to their work than when I just read their written words. It helps me to put what they say into context and enjoy their writing style even more!

  16. katyinacorner

    August 23, 2013

    Courageous Jane That is SUCH a great idea. Especially for someone as scatterbrained as me! Do you use a particular piece of software to corral your notes? I love Evernote for stuff like that because I can access it from my phone, my iPad, my computer, etc.

  17. First of all, these tips are fantastic. Exactly what I needed to hear on a day when I felt like throwing in the blogging towel. Thank you. And secondly? That lip-syncing video is The Bomb! I didn’t guess Pointer Sisters at all…I actually thought it might have been Britney Spears Oops I Did it Again. And it totally makes me want to try my hand at vlogging.

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