How I Became a Blogger: Part Two

Thank you for your kind words on How I Became a Blogger: Part One! If you haven’t read it already, go catch up and come back!

2012: The first few months of blogging were quite a struggle, mainly because of scheduling and trying to juggle everything with work. To make things as easy as possible, I started blocking out Sundays for projects. I would craft, photograph, edit and post all on the same day. Once I was done, I was free to do whatever I wanted for the rest of the week. There were times I had to pass on hanging out with friends, or events I had to miss, but it was the only way that I could establish a routine that would get me through all fifty two weeks. After a month or so, things began to fall in place and I even started looked forward to Sundays. It was the one day of week where I was able to tune out all of the other stresses in my life and create something with my hands.

One of the benefits of hosting my blog on Tumblr (though I don’t recommend using it if you’re starting out now) was that every now and then my posts would be featured in their subcategories i.e. diy, crafts, etc. I had Google Analytics installed from day one (perks of dating a developer), and noticed that my blog was starting to gain a small readership. It was exciting that people actually wanted to see what I was making and it kept me motivated. I made it through the first year and decided to stick with it. Then it happened.

100% out of luck, one of my posts was picked up by StumbleUpon. My traffic went from 20k pageviews to 250k page views a month over the course of two months. This trend, of course, did not last for more than a few months, but it made me realize the potential of sharing my work on the internet, and it made me excited.

How I Became a Blogger: Part One
Above is my first self-redesign. My friend hand drew the logo and I made the social media icons.

2013: By this time, I had undergone one redesign and was to the point where my readership was steadily growing. I was happy with the content I was producing and getting better at photography and photoshop along the way. We had moved to San Francisco in 2012, so I was still working all the time, just at another job. Only this time, I wasn’t passionate about the work I was doing on a daily basis. Not even a little bit. In the end, I was spending all my time and energy trying to make someone else’s startup dream come true. It paid the bills, sure, but ultimately I wasn’t satisfied. Because I was 25, had a great credit report and finally found a hair color that complimented my skin tone, I decided that if I was ever going to take a risk in life, then now was the time to do it. So I quit.

As much as I wish my stats were sky high and that I had brands lining up to work with me when I put in my two weeks notice, that wasn’t the case. In fact, I didn’t immediately jump into blogging full time. There was a lot of work to be done to get it to the point where I could make a living from it, and putting in one day a week just wasn’t cutting it anymore. I began blogging 2 times a week and working for my boyfriends startup part time until I had enough money saved for a professional redesign. It took me until December. 

How I Became a Blogger: Part Two
(Left: Clay Earrings I made in 2013; Right: Clay Earrings I made in 2014)

2014: Now completely on my own financially and living in the most expensive city in the US, I picked up a few freelance photography gigs along the way to help supplement my income. Yup, I went from not knowing how to operate a camera to getting paid to take other’s photos. I was getting a sponsored post here and there, but only through third party groups; I wasn’t directly reaching out to brands. To be honest, I wasn’t even making the effort because I was a bit embarrassed by my blog. Not so much my stats or content, but more so the name and design.

I teamed up with Jordan Brantley (who is amazing by the way if you’re looking for a designer) and launched a brand new site in March of this year. I hit the ground running with the new brand and haven’t looked back. It has since brought me opportunities I didn’t think were possible, like working with Bing and West Elm. I’m in no way bringing in the type of money I made while working at a startup in San Francisco (you should seriously see my credit card statement, it’s upsetting), but I am to the point where I can cover my rent and a few bills.

It’s stressful. It’s exhausting. But when it comes down to it, I’ve never been happier :)

How I Became a Blogger: Part Two(Left: My first project on 52 Weeks Project, 2011; Right: 10 Minute Vase, 2014)

  • This is really inspirational, thank you for sharing your story! :)

  • Amy

    Love it, love it. Off to check out Jordan Brantley now…

  • Rachael Smith

    Rach – You’re such a hero to me right now! I went to Alt this year thinking I’d be able to learn all the secrets of how to make it in the blogging world, but I really just came home overwhelmed with indecision. And then ‘life’ got in the way and I’ve almost stopped bogging! Just reading this has really inspired me to get back into it. Stay tuned :)

    • Rachael you sweet woman, it’s so good to hear from you! Alt can be completely overwhelming but I think you’re doing something wonderful and beautiful with the content you’re creating. I can’t wait to see what you come up with when you get back to it :)

  • So great! I’m so happy for you that you’re able to do what you love. And am I to understand you had 20k views a month in your first year of blogging? Wow! I’m just nearing 10k after nearly a year and a half…

    • Also meant to say, I LOVE seeing the “then” and “now” shots!!!

      • It was pure luck girl! A lot of people were able to discover my blog through tumblr, which I think is the hardest part about even starting a blog (the discovery). Your work is amazing, and I totally love what you’re doing. Hang in there :)

        • Sarah

          20K after One year?! That makes me feel kind of discouraged. I’ve been blogging for just over 2 years. I’ve learned a ton along the way and I think my blog looks better than it ever has. I’m actually really proud of the content I produce, but my numbers are nowhere near that. I’m at like 5K on a good month, and I’ve seen very little growth over the past year. Any advice? Here’s a link for easy access…

          • Oh no, please don’t be discouraged Sarah! I really do think most of how I got here was luck. I think your blog is beautiful! One thing I did notice was that it took a long time for your site to load. If people are clicking through to your blog for the first time, and it takes too long, they may leave before ever seeing it.

            Hope that helps! Hang in there :)

        • Aww, thanks! Your blog is obviously fabulous, and I’m so glad you’ve been having such growth and success!

  • Tess at luvmysparetime

    Your transformation is awesome and way to be a risk taker! thanks for sharing part 2 totally worth it

    • Yay, so happy you liked reading this Tess! Life is too short not to take risks, ya know :)

  • Melissa

    Whoa. Love seeing your changes in photos and reading more of your story. I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again- you’re amazeballs. xo

    • Oh yay, so happy you liked reading along (wasn’t sure if it was too much). I hope we get to meet up one day Melissa!

  • Pauline

    Great behind the scenes post! You say you wouldn’t recommend hosting your blog on Tumblr now, where do you recommend someone host when they’re starting out now?

    • Thank you so much Pauline! I’m currently on WordPress and am so thrilled with it! It was a little overwhelming at first, but it’s really powerful and flexible. The only downside to using it instead of tumblr is that I have to pay to host my blog, though it’s not too expensive. Happy to answer any other questions :)

  • Stephanie | Make and Tell

    Oh I’m just loving these posts! Your honesty and your journey is so amazing – good on you for taking the risks that go with making the decision to blog full time (it must have been so scary). You’re an inspiration!

    • Awww Stephanie, that’s so sweet! Thank you so much! It was scary (still is really), but sometimes you just have to go for it right :)?

  • I still remember when I found you it felt like the clouds parted as I just poured over your work thinking “Where has she been this entire year?” I love everything that you do. And this story is fantastic as it’s so great to read the behind the scenes ‘get to know you’ of who you are. Too often I find in this image heavy world we rarely stop to really find out who we are reading and just skim over photos without paying attention to the great personalities and minds behind the projects. So this is great. I hope you’ll do more of it (mixed in between all the other stuff I adore!!) No pressure or anything. :)

    • Alexxxx, you are the BEST! Thank you so much. I struggle a bit with mixing in personal moments, but I’m working hard on bringing that element to my posts. Happy to hear that’s something people want to read!

      Also, I’m extremely happy we found each other’s blogs. You are amazing and I hope to collaborate one something one day!

  • I know this is super late, but I bookmarked this post to read and finally did! Thank you Rachel for sharing this. I really loved reading your story and am feeling very inspired because of it. I identify with a lot of what you were going through in the early days and it really gives me confidence that if I stick with it and keep working hard, things will start happening. You rock! Random side note; I’m also dating a developer. Mega blogging perks fosho. xo

    • It was quite a lengthy post, I hope you treated yourself to a cupcake once you finished! It completely makes my day hearing that this inspired you in some way. I think the work you are producing with your blog and elsewhere is absolutely wonderful and I hope you stick with it! Seriously Jamie, you’re amazing; I’m wishing you nothing but luck.

      And YES! I can’t tell you how many times he’s saved me. It’s also pretty fun to learn what goes on technically so that I can fix it in the future too :)

  • Tayyaba

    So glad I read this. It gives real insight on what the blogger life is really like. Thanks for sharing.

    • Oh my pleasure Tayyaba! It’s a busy, busy mess sometimes, but absolutely worth it :)

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  • Mrs Globalicious

    Your story is truly inspiring and of course a kind of a blogging guide for every newcomer. I am a Travel- and lifestyle Blogger from switzerland and started with blogging last year. Of course i hope to be so successful like you someday.

    By the way, i really love your design.

    Mrs Globalicious

    • Oh my goodness, thank you so much! I just checked out your blog and it’s lovely– I really like the layout and of course travel :) Wishing you nothing but the best in your blogging career!

  • Your story is so inspiring! Sometimes it’s great to see how far we have come by looking back at old posts. It’s nearly a year since my first blog post and a rebrand/new camera later I’m pretty embarrassed about the things I used to post! It’s great that as bloggers we are always learning and striving to improve. Your blog is so gorgeous now and your photography is so fab. I hope you have a fantastic Christmas and 2015 brings you even more fabulous times! x

  • Carrie Waller

    SO cool to learn about your background and just how far you’ve come!! This story is worth MAJOR celebration girl!

  • Uli

    Wow I love your story! Very inspiring! I just started my personal blog journey x

  • V Mateo

    Yay! LOVED how things turned out, and they turned out for the best despite the hard decisions you had to make along the way. Atta girl!

    • Seriously! Not an easy road, but then again, the best things in life you have to hustle for, right? xo