This post may contain affiliate links. Read my whole disclosure here.
In June, my blog reached its first milestone: half a year since my first post! My blogging journey during these months was really amazing! I always enjoy reading progress reports on other blogs, so I’ve decided to also share my journey here.
This is the first article about my blog and I am excited to write about this first half of year! Six months may seem a short period of time but they were full of new lessons and experiences for me!
About me as a blogger and my blogging journey
I am a blogger since 2013 when I’ve started my first blog. I still write on that blog and I love doing this! And maybe I would have never started another blog if we wouldn’t have moved to the US. After I arrived in California, I felt that I wanted to take my blogging journey to the next level and to try to reach parents from all parts of the world! As my first blog is in Romanian (my native language), I’ve decided to start another one, this time in English.
This is why I’ve created PlayfulNotes.com! 🙂 At the beginning, this blog helped me get used to living far away from home. I needed something to keep me busy and to allow me to connect with other parents. So I’ve started writing about the things that I believe in: gentle parenting, playful moments with kids, and family travel. And I hoped that on the other side of the screen, I will find parents who have the same interests and beliefs.
Now, six months later, I couldn’t be happier with the decision of starting this blog!
I love to write and I love to help other moms who struggle with the same issues or concerns that I do!
What helped me grow my blog
I am sharing my blogging journey for two reasons. First, I want to have a journal of it, to look back and enjoy every milestone along this journey. Second, I hope that it will encourage and inspire other bloggers. I am always inspired by other bloggers’ stories, so maybe this post will be helpful for others too! It’s just my way of “paying it forward”. 🙂
When I started this blog I didn’t really think about how I am going to grow it. I just wrote. But in the middle of February, I’ve decided that I want to be more intentional about my blogging journey. So I’ve begun to learn as much as I could about blogging and social media. It’s not easy to find quality information that is really helpful. And my biggest lesson so far is that the real useful information is the one that you pay for.
There are a lot of free online courses and materials but they are giving you only a little amount of information. They are good to get you started but not enough in the long run. The real value comes when you are willing to invest in learning! Luckily, I think that the US is the best place to be for learning about blogging because there are so many successful bloggers who share their experiences!
At the beginning of March, I’ve invested in my first blogging course. I haven’t finished it yet, so I will wait and come with a detailed feedback at the end of it. But until now it was really amazing and I am learning a lot of new things!
Until then, I’m sharing here the tools that I use as a blogger and help me grow my blog:
English is not my native tongue, so I really need help to be sure that I don’t make any spelling or grammar mistakes in my blog posts. Grammarly is only useful for English speakers and I know that a lot of bloggers use it! I would totally recommend it! I use the free version now. And I plan to switch to the paid version soon.
This tool helps me schedule my pins on Pinterest. Still, I don’t use it as effectively as I wish. I plan to take a Pinterest course soon to learn more about how to grow my Pinterest reach. I’ve heard only positive feedbacks about Rosemarie Groner’s “Pinterest Strategy Guide”, so I have this course on my wish list for the next months! Here is a great post that she wrote on this topic: Easy Ways to Increase Pinterest Traffic.
– An editorial calendar
I have been blogging for more than 4 years on my Romanian blog without having an editorial calendar. But I’ve learned a lot about the benefits of having an editorial calendar so I’ve decided to try it! Since March, I’ve started to use one for this blog. And it works!
My biggest fear was that an editorial calendar will prevent me from being authentic and spontaneous. But in fact, it helps me be more accountable with my blogging journey. I am less likely to postpone writing a post and I have an additional motivation. I’m not using a special tool for this, I’ve created it in Excel.
I use Canva for all the graphics on my blog, especially Pinterest images and Facebook images. I also use it to create the printable files on my blog. Some months ago I switched to the paid account (Canva for work) and I am satisfied with it. The free version is also very good, I’ve used it for a long time before having this blog.
– Stock photography sites
I am a total disaster when it comes to taking nice pictures! So I use stock photos for most of my posts. My favorite sources for free stock photos are Unsplash, Pixabay, Pexels. I also buy photos from Canva.
I use Mailchimp as an email provider for my newsletter. I like that I can personalize my emails and schedule them. But there are still a lot of emails that get in the spam folders and this is pretty frustrating. I am thinking about switching to another provider like Convertkit or Drip but I’m not really convinced that this will make a difference. So I’m waiting some more time before making a decision.
– Useful plugins
Here are the plugins that I most like:
– Mailchimp for WordPress allows me to integrate Mailchimp into my blog (and deliver the printable files)
– Mailchimp for WordPress Top Bar is a great plugin for having a Hello Bar and integrating it with Mailchimp
– Meta Slider allows me to add slides to my header or posts
– Yoast SEO is a great help for SEO optimization.
I also use Askimet Anti-Spam, Wordfence Security, and Jetpack.
The top posts from the first six months
In the first six months, I published 95 articles! They meant a lot of work and many sleepless hours at night. 🙂
My top 5 most read articles were:
5, Parenting challenge: Our plan for a month full of outdoor play (this is a very recent article and I’m glad that parents liked it a lot!).
The parenting challenge that I’ve started at the beginning of the year was also a great way to connect with other moms! I write about it every month and I’m very glad to see that parents want to join it! 🙂
Some thoughts about monetization
If you are a blogger (or you want to become one), you probably also want to find out details about monetization. I hope that you will not be disappointed when I tell you that I don’t have anything to share on this topic.
Although I’ve received some collaboration proposals (that were great news for such a “young” blog), I’ve decided to focus my first six months on growing my blog. So I postponed any form of monetization for after building a strong foundation for my blog.
Monetizing a blog is not something new to me because I did this on my other blog. But I strongly believe in the power of offering good content to my audience! I want to write as many helpful and inspiring articles as I can before taking the next step. So I used this time to grow my blog and to put a lot of work in it.
I think that every blogger dreams about making blogging his full-time job. And I do too! But for me, it’s very important the way that I do this. I want my readers to know that I value them and that they can trust me. I want them to know that they can find inspiration on my blog. And I want them to enjoy my posts! This was my goal for the first months.
I also focused on thinking about what I want from this blog. And I realized that I want to create a strong community around it. My dream is to be able to inspire other moms and to learn from them in the same time. This is my biggest motivation! Of course that it would also be great if blogging could become my full-time job.
So I also made four decisions about monetization:
– Certainly, I don’t want my blog to be full of ads and I have no intention of applying to an advertising company soon.
– I only want to partner with brands that I totally like and that are a good fit for my audience. So I will not focus on getting a lot of sponsored posts because I want to write only about what I truly like!
– I like the idea of affiliate marketing. It sounds wonderful to write about things that you use and like and to be able to make an income out of this! I never tried affiliate marketing before, but I plan to do it in the next months!
– Also, I would love to create my own products! I dream about writing ebooks for moms to share ideas and solutions that make mom life easier and more joyful! 🙂 This seems amazing but I’m really scared of trying this! So I’ve put it on my wishlist but I don’t know when this dream will become a reality!
I don’t know how my blogging journey will continue but I hope that it will be an amazing one! I plan to publish my next report after six more months and I’m really curious to see what will happen during this time.
If you want to become a blogger or you are at the very beginning of your blogging journey, I invite you to share any questions here. If I know the answer, I would be happy to help!
And if you are a more experienced blogger, I would be glad if you would share some thoughts about your blogging journey! I am looking forward to learning from your experiences!
p.s. If you want to link any of your progress reports here, I would be happy to read them!