{Guest Post ~ Stacey of This Momma’s Ramblings} Where I am so far

This is where I am so far…

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Today, I have been asked to do a guest post for Miranda who blogs at Purely By Accident and Myrabevs Corner! Miranda is an absolutely kind and lovely lady, who happens to live in the UK, a dream destination for me. It has been wonderful connecting with her over these last few months and I was completely honored, a couple of days ago, when she invited me to guest post on her site. Though I will have to admit, that the panic set in…what do I write…oh no! Well I decided that maybe a post about being a newbie blogger, things that I have learned, things that I have accomplished…basically where I am so far, how I got here, and where I want to be. Maybe it will give encouragement to other newbie’s. Maybe it will give them hope on where they want to go. Let’s start at the beginning…When the hubby went back to work, we decided that the time had come for me to become a SAHM. I had worked outside the home for almost 19 years, at the same company. I started noticing the amount of blogs on the net, many were woman that were SAHM’s, focusing on their families. Thinking, why can’t I have a blog? I have always loved to write, surely there would have to be someone out there who might find what I had to say, interesting to say the least. Right? Especially if I decided to write about this new SAHM thing, surely daily life would give me plenty of fuel. Maybe the kids would even appreciate it someday as something to look back on. I even had a name all picked out, “This Momma’s Ramblings”. I also started realizing that some of these women made money with their blogs. That would be awesome, if I could somehow make money with this blogging thing!?! I could stay a SAHM, a dream come true! But I knew that realistically, I was just one in a trillion, so I decided that I would focus this first year on figuring out just what the heck I was doing! Slide5 This Momma’s Ramblings really began in January of 2013, even though I had already started the blog in December, posting was sporadic. When I started, I didn’t have any clue about SEO, HTML code, tags, categories and I certainly could not have told you anything about putting together my own website, many of them I am still trying to learn about. Now don’t get me wrong, I can work programs like Microsoft Office, Excel, and PowerPoint in my sleep. I spent almost 19 years perfecting those skills through on the job training. Which came in handy when I came to realize that I would need a “button”, whatever that was! Thanks to my PowerPoint background, I spent the time creating the blog buttons and header, with the help of PowerPoint and my computer’s paint program. In the beginning, I had never ventured into Pic Monkey and had barely used PhotoBucket. So I worked with what I knew and used what I already had at my disposal. When I started out, I went with a free Blogger site and a free WordPress site, yes I had both. Part of that was because I just didn’t know which I liked better. I really liked each of them for different reasons, but Blogger kind of won out, at least in the beginning. By April, I had finally decided that I wanted to go ahead and purchase my own domain name, though now the big decision…stay with Blogger or move to WordPress permanently, who should I use as a hosting company? So I decided to do what I always do and search some other bloggers and see what some of them had to say. I found one blogger in particular, that I thought was amazing…her name is Janine and she has a two wonderful sites, “Janine’s Confessions of a Mommyaholic and J9 Designs. I came across Janine, just before she opened up J9 Designs, and she had many blog posts that were directed at us “Newbies”. I found her post’s especially clear and informative. There were a few other blog posts that I found in various other places, which helped quite a bit, too, such as Learn to Blog and there are some amazing YouTube tutorials that are available, and put out by Kelli at 3 Boys and a Dog and Crystal from Crystal and Co., and their Learn to Blog video series. I took notes as I went along and learned as much as I could. In May, I finally made the decision to go with BlueHost as my hosting company, mostly because I was still really unsure as to what I was doing, and they seemed to have more options available than some of the others and the price was awesome. When I set it all up, I had the option to purchase a longer term of hosting for a discounted rate, which I thought doing so would give me a fair chance to accomplish the goals that I wanted to with This Momma’s Ramblings. So I purchased 3 years of hosting, which included my domain name, for about $153.00. Now I am not really sure if that is good or bad in the grand scheme of things, but I thought it was good…$51.00 per year. On a side note, I have been utterly pleased with BlueHost. BlueHost has been great so far, no major issues with the site going down, and the one time that I did have to call support, the gentleman that I spoke too was very polite and helpful. They even did a follow up to make sure that I had been taken care of. A big win in my book! By this time, I had the blogger site going for about four months and since I was making the switch to a WordPress self-hosted site and I needed to figure out what I needed to do to redirect the first site to the new one. Plus, creating a post to let your readers to go to your new site, on both blogs. All of this was really an awesome new discovery for me. I had never done anything with HTML code, or widgets, or any of the other design parts that come with a self-hosted site. Blogger is really fairly easy to get used to, since most things are just a click of the mouse. Then of course there was all of the content that I already had on my blogger site that I would need to transfer. Thankfully WordPress has several wonderful tutorials as does Learn to Blog. I also learned what plug ins I would need to make things more functional. I carried both sites for about two weeks, while I tweaked and slid this or that around, getting the new site to look the way I wanted it, too. I probably changed my theme a half a dozen times until I was pleased. I won’t even discuss the amount of times that I moved the widgets around and deleted them by accident! When I finally had everything arranged and added, that the next step would be to transfer everything over to the new site, WordPress had an awesome plug in for that, it was all transferred in a few minutes. Now was the time for the grand reveal, so I put up my post on the old site, to redirect my traffic and added the new site to URL every place that it needed to be changed in. Over the next month or so, I would still tweak little bits of this or that. Through much of June and July, I decided that now it was time to start getting myself out there, and oh no, start trying to get to know people. That one has been a hard obstacle to hurdle, I am generally shy by nature, and it is extremely hard for me to initiate contact. If you contact me, I could chatter an ear off. LOL! But that is exactly what I started trying to do. I found, well they found me, a couple of ladies who started about the same time that I did and it has been an amazing partnership with Jessica from The Wondering Brain and Natasha from Epic Mommy Adventures, ever since. I even started my own blog hop linky party, “This Momma’s Menadering Mondays”. It even dawned on me that pictures would help make the content better. Then the greatest thing ever happened…somebody notice me! In July I was contacted by a representative from Ross Dress for Less stores asking if I would be interested in writing a post for the nearest store and I would be given a gift card for my post and I would be able to give one away to my readers. I had already added a couple of ads through Google, but even those I am just now figuring out where thehy need to be. Maybe that was my light bulb moment that maybe it was time to start looking into all of those sites that I had been seeing that offered their help in connecting with brands and the like. I had already joined Top Mommy Blogs, Mom Bloggers Club, BlogHer, and Bloggy Moms. Now it was time that I started looking into Sverve, SITS Girls, Sponsored Tweets, Social Spark, and Massive Sway. I have also since learned about sites like Share A Sale, Commission Junction, Influenster, and Fuel My Blog. I have signed up for all of them. Some of them I have been at for about four months, but I have been trying to still spend more time focusing on the content and learning little bit by little bit. Others I am just getting into and still learning bit by bit. Then a couple of months ago, another light bulb went off, I had been missing one of the most important and amazing aspects of blogging. I didn’t have a community, yet! I had a small group of ladies that were fabulous, but I thought it would be nice to have some more. I started trying to connect more and then an amazing blog friend Ophelia from Latina Mama Rama asked me if I would be interested in joining her for #AskAwayFriday, I thought sure, why not, sounds like fun. And was it ever! I am into my second month of participating and my numbers have almost doubled! I have almost 700 Facebook fans and almost 1400 Twitter followers. I have started finding the time to leave a comment on all posts that I read and like or follow others in as many places as possible. Trying to build up my community. Now for the nitty gritty of things… Back at the beginning of the year, I had joined SwagBucks, thinking to add one more thing to my money making options. Well guess what? It worked! I actually earned $50 just from taking a survey! Woo hoo! That was a great start to my Blogging fortune! LOL! I have used that money through out the year to place a few ads or pay a co-host fee or join a giveaway and have added to it by selling an ad or two. As of the writing of this I have $9.23 left in my account. I made $85.23 through selling ads, co-hosting fees, and taking surveys. I spent $76.00 through co-hosting, joining giveaways, and buying ads. I have $5.55 in my Sponsored Tweets account. I have $1.00 in my Sverve account. I have gotten 3 $25 gift cards for Ross Dress for Less and 3 of them to use in giveaways, for sponsored posts. I have gotten a Bright Light Pillow and Ice Cream Magic as compensation for writing a review. I have gotten two Romance novels, At Least I’m Pretty and My Knightly Dreams, for writing a review about the books. I have over $5.00 in my Google AdSense account for ads placed. I just completed a Twitter ad campaign through BlogHer that is supposed to net me $50.00. I will soon be able to offer a review for Mill City Bread, by receiving the product to try as compensation. I have signed up for a few others, but only recently. I am still working on making money through Share A Sale or Social Spark, but I am working on those. Commission Junction I just started, and FreeLancer as well. So nothing on them as of yet. It has taken me about six months to get to this point, and I have to say that I am pretty thrilled about these accomplishments. I learned a long time ago, that while the cash is awesome and essentially what is needed…the other perks that exist are the most important ones. I have gotten several neat products, 2 new romance novels to read, $75 in gift cards to buy clothes for my kids, a pillow for lil miss to snuggle, and the ability to be part of some great giveaways. But even better than all of those things, I have gained some amazing bloggy friends, from all over the world in places that I dream to see. I have been asked the question, “What advice would you give a new blogger?” Truthfully, I would have to say a couple of things. “Grow a supportive community and get to know others. If monetizing is your overall goal, have patience, it is not something that happens over night. And it takes dedication and organization would probably be somewhat beneficial! LOL! Finally, really just be yourself.” I hope that this post helps others to see the potential that is out there. This has been an amazing journey so far and I look forward to what the future may bring! Thank you so much Miranda, I am so grateful for the opportunity! Have a great week everyone! Stacey This Momma’s Ramblings

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