Growing and online business through the baby years

The greatest piece of advice I can give any mom venturing into online business is this: Do what you like and forget about the rest.  Seriously, forget about it.  Don’t waste your time on social media platforms you don’t enjoy, writing about topics you aren’t that into or working with people you aren’t jiving with.  Leave the yuck behind and focus on what you love.  An online business is supposed to be fun and something just for you.  Make sure it stays that way.

Because here is the thing: growing your business online can be done in a million different ways–but no one can do a million different things.  Some successful online businesses turn their noses up at blog writing and instead have crazy success through Instagram alone.  Others write killer blog content that does well on Pinterest and rakes in a nice income exclusively through the ads on their blog (or at least it did before Pinterest changed it’s algorithm…).  Some have developed super engaged Facebook audiences and can get them to buy anything they promote there and have a healthy affiliate income.

And all of these things are incredible–but no one can (or should) do all of them, especially not if your online time is limited by family, children, grocery shopping and life in general.

I know I am talking bluntly here, but this continues to be a hard lesson for me to really absorb.  Every time I attend a blogging conference I leave feeling completely defeated.  While at those conferences I hear about all of these new strategies and techniques I really SHOULD BE DOING IF I WANT TO TAKE IT TO THE NEXT LEVEL.  And I do want to take it to the next level…but I just don’t have the time right now.  I can’t schedule out 20 Facebook posts a day.  I can’t justify hours editing video (and besides, how do you edit out the child screaming in the background?).  I’m not in a place where I can hire an assistant or invest in premium web development.  Those things just aren’t going to happen.  Not now, not in this season of babies and large family.

So, I continue to work on letting things go and I do that by focusing on what I love and what I don’t–which quickly translates into What I Do and What I Don’t Do.

growing an online business through the baby years what I do and don't do

What I Don’t Do

#1 Obsess Over Social Media

I love social media, personally, but I can get so frustrated with it as a blogger.  Facebook doesn’t show my posts to very many people, Pinterest is pay-to-play and Twitter…don’t make me laugh.  I have a presence on all of the platforms, but I don’t stress over it.  I try to post of Facebook and Instagram once a day, but I do this almost exclusively from my phone–and only get to it about half of the days.  I use BoardBooster, an online scheduler for Pinterest, so that is on autopilot and have my posts automatically post to Twitter after I hit publish.  Other than that, I just let social media go.  I might not even remember how to log into Twitter.  Ops!

#2  Worry About Posting Too Often

When I first got serious about blogging I would post 5 days a week.  Seems crazy now, but at that time, blogging was just blogging.  For the most part my posts were simple and short, but I’m glad I did that then.  I built up a project gallery and really got to know the ins and outs of my blog.  I also refined a lot of photography skills.

I still post regularly, but now strive to post only 2 times a week, one for sure.  I work to have more developed posts that either offer deep sharing or something free like a printable.  Writing content for my blog will always be a big part of what I do, but it is no longer the only thing that I do.

#3  Freak Out About SEO

SEO stands for Search Engine Optimization.  It’s basically adding a whole bunch of keywords and putting your post together in such a way that Google is more likely to find you.  For serious bloggers with loads of time, this is an excellent thing to do.  But, it’s just not something I can invest that much time in.  Instead I focus on the people that already come to my blog, my readers and followers.  Hopefully more will join the fun, but probably not too many through a Google Search.  It’s quality over quantity over here.

#4  Compare Myself To Other Bloggers and Online Businesses

All mommy business ladies out there–the quickest way to kill your business is to start comparing yourself to others online.  To start thinking, why is their audience so much bigger, their eBook selling so much better, their blog so much prettier?

Just stop.

Read blogs you enjoy, leave meaningful comments and make relationships, but don’t compare.  If blogging through the baby years has taught me anything it is that we are all at different places, we all have different skills and different support networks, and time-frames to devote to this.  So just keep plugging away and stop comparing.

And if blogging through the baby years isn’t bringing you joy, hang it up for a while.

#5  Continue Projects/Relationships That I No Longer Enjoy

I have had lots of stops and starts on this blog since the early days.  I’ve started link parties and dropped them.  Worked with people and stopped working with them.  Started series of posts and stopped midway through.  I’ve just learned that if something isn’t working and I’m not loving it, why push all the way through to the end?  Because I said I would?  No.  This is my blog, after all.  Besides, I got babies to raise.  I don’t have time for things I’m not enjoying.

Growing and online business through the years when you are busy with babies

What I Do

#1  Focus on Relationships

Instead of focusing on mass reach through social media, I focus on engaging with those I do reach on social media.  I respond to comments on the blog and social media.  I encourage my email subscribers to share their lives with me as I share mine and I work to create Bible Studies and Faith-Filled projects that are well suited for my audience.  My audience is not in the millions.  Not even close.  But it is healthy and growing and I find it much more worthwhile and fruitful to focus on the audience I do have as opposed to chasing down more people and begging them to follow me.

#2  Continue to Create

I got my start in blogging as a maker and I will continue to create.  Not all of my projects are a hit, and that stings, but creativity is what fuels me in all aspects of my life.  And there is nothing better than creating something and seeing another person take that project and do it themselves.  I have been able to see this again and again with my Saint Cross Stitch Patterns and so many other ideas I have shared here.  That gives me a lot of joy!

#3  Strive for Excellence in Content Creation

Blogging is not what it used to be.  The thrown together, amateur blogs are all but extinct.  Blog layouts are professional and photography is impeccable, even on simple Mommy Blogs.  It is hard to keep up with and sometimes I get frustrated, but I sort of like the challenge.  Blogging has forced me to become a better photographer, and for that I am grateful.  It has also given me loads of practice writing, which I hope has yielded better content.

I want my blog to be something I can scroll through and feel proud of.  Therefore I invest a lot of time an energy in creating excellent content whether that content is blog post or products I plan on selling.

#4  Work to Grown My Email List

As I said, I don’t stress about social media, but I do put a lot into building my email list.  (have you got your free Catholic Coloring Sheets yets?!?)  What I love about email is the trust that someone has in me, enough trust to give me their email address.  And I work to be very respectful, to send them only things I know they will like and communicate in a way that is genuine and respectful.

Email is so much more dependable than social media, and that is why I love it and feel good about investing time in it.  I only have so much time to invest, so I let go of social media and instead focus exclusively on email list building.

#5  Re-Invest in Education and Better Technology

I buy a lot of eBooks, take a lot of online training, go to conferences and purchase the best technology I can find.  For a few years now I have been making money off of my online business, but much of that has been reinvested.  I recognize that in order to stay up with what is happening online, I need to be educated.  I need to learn new programs.  I need to study what other’s have done and discern what will and will not work for me.

In other words, I spend a lot of time learning ways to work smarter and better–instead of just working more.  And I love that even as a mom of little ones, a person who spends most of her time reading pictures books and wiping butts, I am continuing to learn and develop marketable skills.  I love the challenge and the way I forces me to continue to strive for answers and solutions.

Now, I don’t write all of this as a guide for what you should do or not do.  We each love and hate different.  I write this only to show you that it is okay to let go of some “important” things.  Make choices based on your situation and stick to those choices.  Don’t feel bad about not being able to do everything.  You are already a busy mom–the fact that you are working to develop anything outside of your little family is no small miracle.

All the best, Mama!

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