Confessions of a Small-Time Blogger

Sharing my thoughts on why I'm a small-time blogger and why I think that's okay.

When I saw the title of this article, I got excited. The Power of the Mid-Tier Blogger. Finally people were talking about mid-sized blogs like mine and not just the A-listers.

Then I read the article.

It quoted Heidi Nazarudin, the blogger behind The Ambitionista and founder of blogger network BloggerBabes, saying, “When I was mid-tier, I would say I was making about $50,000 a year.” 

That’s when I realized how far I was from being considered even a mid-tier blogger.

I’ve been blogging for a long time. I don’t celebrate my blogiversary because I started blogs long before I actually started posting consistently. When pressed, I say I started blogging in 2009 because that is when I started posting several times a week as well as participating in blog networks.

The blogosphere has changed a lot since then. I’ve changed a lot since then. But, we have not grown together.

I’d be lying if I said it didn’t bother me when someone who started blogging two or three years ago now has 100,000 pageviews a month. It hurts. I feel like a failure. I wonder what I’m doing wrong.

But, when a sit down and examine how I blog and what motivates me, I know what I’m doing “wrong”.  And, it is the idea that it is wrong that I rail against.

So, here is my confession, my thoughts on why I’m a small-time blogger and why that isn’t going to change…

Sharing my thoughts on why I'm a small-time blogger and why I think that's okay.

Confessions of a Small-Time Blogger

1. I don’t live and breathe blogging.

After I graduated from college, I was a Mary Kay representative for a very short time. The way those pink ladies lived and breathed Mary Kay was disturbing. If you wanted to be successful, you couldn’t afford to talk about anything other than Mary Kay.

I wanted to be successful, so I bought way too much product when I joined and convinced unsuspecting relatives to become reps underneath me. I earned my pearls and my red jacket, but I felt like a fraud. It wasn’t what I wanted to do with my life. I hated making cold calls. I felt awkward doing parties. I didn’t want to be twice divorced and driving a pink Cadillac, so I quit.

Much like Mary Kay, blogging requires total focus to make it profitable. But, this type of manic focus leads to burnout. Blogger burnout is all too real, my friends.

2. I’m not on all the social media channels.

No one is going to read your blog unless you promote it, and social media can be an awesome way to let people know what you are blogging about. The thing is, I started blogging before you were expected to tweet/pin/post/snap/whatever everything you wrote.

I feel like an old lady for saying this, but I started blogging because I liked to blog not because I wanted to build a social media empire. Remember when Facebook was for connecting with friends and you took Instagram pictures with your phone instead of uploading them from your DSLR? I liked that. Now, I spend way too much time trying to get a good picture of my latest read while tweeting/pinning/stumbling my latest blog posts like a mad woman.

3. I don’t run my blog like a business.

They say it takes $30,000 to start your own business. You may have noticed that this is not a $30,000 blog. There’s a decidedly homemade vibe to my blog, which would be cool if this was 2007, when dark, fuzzy pictures and slightly out of focus videos were in. But, in 2016, you have to be slick. Professional outfit photos of you wearing your designer duds. Professional videos of your morning routine and latest makeup tutorial. Professional blog designs maintained by professional techies who keep your blogging world running smoothly.

Gone are the days of the one woman blog maintained from her tiny cubbyhole apartment. It takes a staff to get things done today.

4. I am not a niche.

Shoes. Lipstick. Books. How can you choose just one thing? I get the idea behind finding your niche. It’s much easier to market yourself as a handbag snob than it is to sell yourself as a fashion and lifestyle blogger. Focusing on a specific topic lets readers know what to expect and helps brands find bloggers that are a good fit for a collaboration. The thing is… I like many things, and I want to blog about them all.

Sharing my thoughts on why I'm a small-time blogger and why I think that's okay.

Don’t get me wrong. I want my blog to grow, and I admire those who have been able to turn their blogging hobby into a profitable business. But, I think the definitions of the “right” way and the “wrong” way need to be questioned.

On Stumbleupon, I have a list of fantastic blog posts that tell me my Big Beautiful Blog Dream is possible, and yet, I rarely put those suggestions into practice. Why?

If everyone blogged the “right way”, would every blog be formatted similarly with cookie-cutter Pinterest images and Twitter safe topics? If so, where’s the diversity? What about creativity?

I blog because I need a creative outlet. I blog to belong to part of a bigger community. I do not blog, so I can be just like everybody else.

So, let’s celebrate small blogs, DIY-ers, and hobbyists. Let’s redefine success and stop fretting about dollars and pageviews.

Sharing my thoughts on why I'm a small-time blogger and why I think that's okay.

What I’m Wearing: Stitch Fix Papermoon Bastille Tulip Sleeve Blouse,  Red Cherry Blossom Floral Pleated Mini Skirt c/o Express, Kate Spade Erica Flats c/o Shopbop.

What’s your blogging story?

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58 comments

  1. Oh gosh, that’s a mid-tier blog? I think people that make a lot of money blogging aren’t quite in tune with the other blogs out there that get products to review and make some money, but maybe not a ton or maybe not all the time. I’ve gotten some great opportunities from my blog but I’m not making a ton of regular money. It would be great to have a living at blogging, but it can also be super stressful. I like that I do a mix of things. Sure, I’m mainly a book blogger, but I mix in other things I love too!

    -Lauren
    http://www.shootingstarsmag.blogspot.com

  2. Hey, I totally relate to you on all your points. The fact I don’t live or breathe blogging or run it like a business means it’s a hobby, one I actually enjoy and don’t have to slave over. I blog when it suits and don’t feel obliged to spend hours on it and all forms on social media. Yay to us small blogs!

  3. We are two peas in a pod, darling! I feel the same way about blogging, have the same status, and have been blogging since 2007! Thanks for an honest and heartfelt post 🙂

    xoxox,
    CC

  4. Don’t feel bad, there are a ton of blogs and influencers out there who buy their success. Don’t let those numbers get to you. I mean, it’s frustrating of course, I feel the same way, but what matters is that you’re passionate about what you do here and that you’re having a good time with it. I’d honestly rather have a virtual handful of readers who I can TRULY connect with than 10k followers who don’t really care.

  5. I felt very identified with your story , we share almost complete and I feel and think about this like you. So I come back day after day to your blog and love it. Do not waste your essence.

  6. This is just another reason why I love you, Ashley – your honesty! I absolutely relate to this story. Sometimes I look at newer blogs, and the success they have achieved in such a short amount of time, and I feel like a failure; but, in all honesty, everyone comes from a different background. Do I have countless hours a week to devote to blogging? No, I have to work a full-time job. Do I have a fab photographer who can follow me around on the day-to-day? Definitely not. You need to find your own success in the blogging world; and if that’s small-time for you and me, then I’m good with it. You do you!

    xx

  7. I so know what you mean Ashley! While I am happy that I do make some income – I try to keep reasonable hours so that I do not get obsessive about it. I have met Heidi when she spoke at a conference last year and she is really amazing at what she does!

  8. I would say you’re a midsize blogger, screw what she says, it’s subjective anyway! I think I’m a midsized blogger too! But I’m not sure if that’s because I’m British, blogging isn’t the same in the UK, we’re a bit behind the times!

    Corinne x

  9. What a great post, Ashley:) I read that article and I was like, “That’s mid-tier?!?” Those making that kind of money from blogging are not that category IMO. I will always be a below-below average blogger when talking about money when it comes to blogging. Like you, I’m pretty old school. I started it as a creative outlet and am not on a lot of social media outlets. I don’t do any ads of any sort. As long as we’re happy though…that’s what I say:) I do feel bad for those who try hard and give up after awhile. I wish there would be more room for everyone to make it big, you know?

  10. I totally agree with you. I started blogging 5 years ago and feel the same. I have a job and I’d love this could be my job but it isn’t. I continue blogging because I love it, I feel great with it and I think I grew up since I started.

  11. I have so many thoughts on this 🙂

    Mainly because I understand and am in the same boat and it’s so hard not to get discouraged when a newbie blog starts getting hundreds of thousands of pageviews seemingly out of thin air.

    But here’s the thing.

    I thought about you today. I dunno why, but it was kind of a “oooh, I wonder what Akaleister is up to!” and I was EXCITED to poke my head in your space to read and catch up. I don’t have that with some of these bigger bloggers and I don’t care how much traffic they’re getting–I don’t have an established rapport with them, the way I do with you and so many other bloggers. It’s encouraging, and in my opinion, what this community is really all about.

    I love what you do and your beautiful photos and your reads and your outfit pictures and it always is a pleasure to come in here and see those things and learn more about you. So here’s to small blogs. This has actually inspired me… Can you email me your email address? 🙂

  12. Yes if you want it to be a business then yeah you have to treat it like a business, I heard a rumor that Amy Song took out a loan of about the amount you mentioned to invest in designer clothes when she first started out. This could be an urban legend but it also kind of makes sense. Most business have seed money and invest in marketing firms to launch their businesses. I think a lot of these bloggers are doing that which if you want a successful business makes sense. The only issue I have is when there is this pretense that it was all just their wonderful content and sparkly personalities when in reality there may have been some professional paid for marketing and the like. Not all cases but I think there is more them meets the eye. It takes more then luck ( though there is that too) to create a presence on the web.

    Allie of
    http://www.allienyc.com

  13. Yes let’s celebrate the smaller blogs! I love that you are sticking to writing about what you love and being true to you. I read smaller blogs for a reason and feel a connection to the people who write them. In my opinion, that is often lost in a bigger blog.

  14. aahh ditto on everything said here!!! I’m no big name blogger myself and i’ve started blogging way way before DSLRs are a thing. I share the same sentiments as what you said 🙂

    Have a great week!
    Animated Confessions

  15. I have way too many interests, too to focus on just one on my blog! Interesting post… I’ve been blogging since 2009, it is hard to believe sometimes.

    Carrie
    curlycraftymom.com

  16. Such a great post…I’ve been blogging since 2009, too and I am okay with being a little blogger. The biggest gift I’ve made is the friendships I’ve built.

  17. Hi there! Found you via a comment on Jenerally Informed. My blogging story? I’m with you. I started my blog before I was even on Facebook. Nowadays I pin, tweet, make images with watermarks, yadayadayada. I’m small. I’m not growing. I’m not making money except for a little bit (< $300) which is from tweeting and posting ads on Facebook, not really anything to do with my blog.

    But, I blog because I love to write and I often feel inspired when I'm writing and crafting a post. So I keep at it. Thanks for sharing this. I think there are probably tons of us out there like this, but we are too bummed (being honest) to talk about it in a land overrun by successful, aka money-making, bloggers.

    Cheers!

  18. So true! While I always love to grow my blog, and honestly would love to do it full time, because it’s fun for me!… it’s not what blogging is about. I enjoy reading blogs written by real people, and learning about their lives through their posts. I like knowing what products they like, what they’re reading, etc. etc. I don’t mind if their videos or photos are great of grainy… I just like the community that comes from blogging and being a blogger. 🙂 I always feel like if 1 person reads something I wrote and feels encouraged, gets a new idea or recommendation.. then that’s enough! I don’t want to focus on one thing either! Great post, great points, yay for the small blogs! 🙂 XO – Alexandra

    Simply Alexandra: My Favorite Things

  19. Well said! I blog because it’s a fun hobby and I love the connections I’ve made with other bloggers. While I want my blog to grow, I want to stay true to the reasons I blog and not become obsessed with numbers. Loved this post!

    Jill
    Doused In Pink

  20. Amen and well said! I feel the same way. I make some money off of my blog, enough to pay hosting and for kiddos braces and such, but I do not want my life to be about blogging and so I will happily stay where I am at.

  21. First of all, your outfit is absolutely adorable and you know I think you’re cute as can be! Second of all, I could’ve literally written this post. While my blog has grown tremendously, I still do not make money off of it and it’s just a hobby and in no way shape or form do I have time to be on all media channels. The best thing I’ve gotten from blogging is the wonderful friendships and inspiration along the way. I hope you have a great day!!

  22. This is an awesome post that articulates so many of my own insecurities and frustrations. But at the same time, I share your mission of going forth doing what you love. My blog has become my business, and I’ve spent many days and nights reflecting on what I could be doing better to be more financially successful. And while I’m always working to improve myself and get better, I want to stay true to myself too.

    I love coming to your blog for the very reasons you value being a “small time blogger.” I never know what I’m going to find: your thoughts on books, monthly to-dos, fashion, personal essays, etc. I think blogging is about finding your community and people who share your passions. Sure, some are more business savvy than others. But the slickest and savviest aren’t necessarily the ones with the most heart. And yours certainly has that.

    <3 Liz
    http://www.withwonderandwhimsy.com

  23. You look do pretty and I don’t think It’s anything wrong with being a small-time blogger. I think blogging should be fun and so doubt having a big team behind you and feeling the pressure to post really isn’t that fun. But that’s just me. 🙂

  24. Goodness, was I nodding up a storm through this whole insightful, relateable post. I think that point that you made that jumped out at me most is that you started blogging before social media was/is what it has become these days. The same rings true for me and in I always view myself as more of a traditional, “old school”, if you will, blogger because while I am on – and enjoy – social media, I tend to use it as a complimentary element to my blog, not as a way to constantly market it (or Etsy shop, for that matter) right, left and center to the world.

    Thank you for saying every last word that you did here. I think that your perspectives and experiences will resonate with countless bloggers in a huge array of niches and general scopes alike (it certainly did with this vintage fashion blogger!).

    xoxo ♥ Jessica

  25. My blog is the opposite of having a niche, haha! I write about all the things. 😉 Pretty much if it’s happening in my life then it’s fair game for sharing (whether that be food, travel, DIY, weekend happenings, etc). I definitely am not set to be a big time blogger, but that’s okay. I love the community that comes with sharing life in this place. 🙂

  26. I love this post and thank you for sharing! Even though I strive for success and feel proud whenever my blog experience some kind of ‘success’, I never let my life be consumed by it. It’s something I do for fun, not for a living. In fact, I probably spend more maintaining my blog than earning from it (right now at least). I’ll take any opportunity that I get from it but I won’t quit if they don’t come. I guess I’m also lucky to have a full-time job, but I love to keep things authentic in my blog, rather than have everything seem so staged all the time.

    Abby | Life in the Fash Lane

  27. Fellow small timer here. 🙂 I know how you feel. I get that same feeling from time to time, but then I think I like my little spot. I like the community I have, it’s brought me great friendships. I love the friendships! I consider myself lucky. And yes, I’d consider myself a whole lot luckier with more money streaming in, but I’m happy that I’m even making money for something that started as an outlet. 🙂
    I’m nicheless.
    I’m not on all social media either.
    XOXO

  28. I admire you for your candor. It’s rare and it’s definitely something that people gravitate toward. I read your entire blog entry…and I hardly ever do this. But I guess this is what authenticity is.

    I am pretty much in the same shoes, except my blog is much younger. I am just coming close to one year of blogging, but look back and feel like I wish I was able to grow my blog faster. BUt reading your blog reminds me that this shouldn’t be about numbers, or sponsorships… we all started a blog for a good reason, and that should trump clicks and traffic.

    Thank you for sharing your story to openly. I will be back 🙂

    Jessica || Cubicle Chic

  29. I can’t believe 50,000 is mid tier. I’ve been blogging a while too. I’ve been doing it since high school, I’m 22 now, and sometimes I wonder what would have happened if I took it a little more seriously. I still want to grow my blog. But I mostly blog because I find it fun.
    http://tresfly.blogspot.com/

  30. love this post and everything you said 🙂 that article with the mid tier making 50k…. um wtf? but whatever. my thing is, i don’t want blogging to be my life or my job, whether it could be or not. i like it as a hobby and i wouldn’t want the pressure that comes with being a huge blogger, or even a medium size one 😉

  31. Like most of the other commenters, I identify with everything you have said, Ashley. I am not willing to invest the time and money into becoming a mid-tier or big time blogger, and that’s okay with me. I never expected to make money off of it, but I love the connections with other bloggers. THAT is why I keep blogging.

  32. I am with you. I’ve been blogging since 2008 and really consistently since 2009 and as much as I love the dream of that perfectly styled professional blogger life, I just don’t know how to get there, and more so, if somehow I managed to get there, if I’d want to be there. There is something about this idea of having to live and breath the blog 24/7, posting on all the social media channels, always being at the peak of perfection.

    It sounds like a beautiful dream, but I know the reality of chaos behind every perfectly style instagram post, and the perception of happiness isn’t necessarily happiness.

    Chic on the Cheap

  33. I don’t believe that amount, really…I mean when you see on A lister Insta feed a huge publicity of a big brand…And I mean something like an airline…that’s something…but…it is easy to see how we all work…and on what basics….it can be done..(now freebies and treats ..that’s another thing)
    but this is what drives people who don’t even have passion for this ..but just to show off…I know people who’s been blogging for a few years now like you and you know their work is consistant,,,,but some other I think they’re just cheating temselves…
    You can make money..but it requires time ..consuming amount of time…
    lest say..you have to be a blogger at heart …!
    BTW…love your skirt!

  34. Thank you for saying everything that is in my head! I am trying to make more of an effort to read and comment on blogs like I did back when Google Reader was still around. That made it so much easier! I like “small time” blogs, because it feels like the blogger will actually read my comment and and care about what I say. Very few “big time” blogs I read feel that way anymore, sadly. They feel like reading Martha Stewart magazine – beautiful and inspiring, but Martha couldn’t care less about me.

  35. Thank you for posting this, Ashley. I have a similar post I’m writing that relates to this. I’m a small-blogger myself and I can’t help but think about the things I’m doing “wrong” sometimes. However, like you said before, I don’t live and breathe blogging. I love books, I write fiction, I take care of my daughter…and occassionally I get in a semi-decent night of sleep here and there. I admire the big bloggers out there. They’re inspiring, but that’s their path, and this is mine. Thank you for reminding us that success is different for everyone…and it’s totally ok to be a small-time blogger in a relatively big-time world. So glad I found you on SITS girls today!

  36. Loving your thoughts, Ashley, and I can relate so well to what you write here!
    I’m also a small-blogger and post 1-3 times weekly (I did this year Post Everyday February – that was actually fun, but just for a month 🙂
    Thanks for your encouragement – You shine being who you are, girl!

  37. I have just found your blog postJessica (chronically vintage) and I am in love with it! All so true! And I recognized some of the blogger-friends I have and agree with Kiss and makeup and simera – I’d rather have true blogger-friends than fake 1k people judging me. I started blogging in 2005, much before Instagram and Snapchat, just like you said. I had a chanel on youtube on 2006 and 2007 I started with Twitter and Facebook. Like you, I didn’t and don’t like to celebrate “blogversaries” because I started to be consistent from 2009 on, writing regular posts. But I do know people that treat their blogs like the Mary Kay obsession you described (I didn’t know it was like that! I know Amway is!) and especially one started a “friendship” with me; in the beginning, it was nice, but it ended up in years – yes, years – of constant insults from her because I didn’t want to follow her compulsive steps on blogging. It’s fine for her, I won’t judge, but not for me, and she didn’t “forgive me” for not thinking about posing/shopping etc 100% of my time. Anyway, I am not on Instagram, deleted my Youtube channel and am not on Snapchat. And I also don’t have a niche. And I loved your post, than you for sharing these thoughts, they show the reality of blogging!
    DenisesPlanet.com

  38. I just found this post from Chronically Vintage. Thank-you for writing this! I started my blog in February, and I am still trying to get the hang of it. Yes, I want to be successful too, but I can totally relate with you saying that you love too many things to have just one “niche”. I started my blog to share the things that I love, so thank-you for reminding me that I do not need to be a cookie cutter blogger, and that those are the things that make me, me 🙂 This was a very timely post. Thanks so much!
    The Artyologist

  39. You’re a real person showing me real things that you really like. Haha! YESS! I don’t believe those numbers. My cynical self says it’s all a conspiracy by big corporates who dangle riches in front of starry-eyed bloggers so they can rope them into doing advertising for them for much cheaper than other routes. Sour grapes? Nah, just dry ones, in wine, thank you. Love your blog. I found you through Chronically Vintage. You look great. Love the skirt!

  40. Fantastic blog post. I blogged for 7 years, and then I stopped. I also couldn’t stick to one topic, but wanted to blog about it all. I really loved this post, and am also afraid that there will not be room for the creative amateurs anymore. Have a lovely day. 🙂

  41. I really love this. I struggle sometimes feeling like I’m trying to keep up with the bigger bloggers. But you’re so right about what’s the point of that. I blog because it is my outlet and I like talking about all the things that interest me, not to make $50,000 a year.

  42. (I know this is an old post but I just saw your tweet about it and can’t resist commenting)

    What should a blog be? What role does it play in our lives? Comparing personal blogs to commercial ones is the heart of this. Apples and oranges. I blog to express my individuality and connect to friends who appreciate my interests. I visit your blog for the same reason. I already have a day-job that sucks the joy outta life; I don’t need a second. Sure, we’d all love bigger audiences but what bloggers have to do to attract them transforms the essence of their blog into something different and impersonal. I don’t want to go there. We need to be clear and honest about our motivations for blogging so we don’t measure our real (if small) success against gaudy big numbers of commercial blogs.

  43. You totally said it! The whole cookie cutter blog design made me laugh since recently I’ve noticed that mast blogs seem to have all read the same how-to book. Ug! I read the book too and thought “not for me.” I like color and depth, hate pop ups so don’t expose others to them, and generally just tell it like it is with pix by yours truly. I so love this post