Becoming a Work-At-Home Mom: My first feeble attempts at this thing called “blogging”

If you’re new here, you’ll want to go back and read the first parts of the Becoming a Work-At-Home Mom series.

After we shut down the wedding business, I threw my energies into being a mommy to my brand-new baby and continuing to try to find a way to earn enough from home so we could stay out of debt and I could stay home.

I wrote more ebooks, I expanded our online bookstore, I started an eBay store and I worked on building up our customer base and email list. Every day, I tried to come up with a new idea to implement. I wrote as many articles as I could for various online websites in order to get our name our there and garner free advertising (because I couldn’t afford to pay for advertising!). I joined a Yahoo group where WAHMs could connect and exchange small fliers to put in each other’s packages.

Slowly, ever so slowly, I was starting to see a little fruit for my labors. We were having repeat sales and the website was receiving around 150 to 200 visitors per day. Even though I didn’t know what a blog really was, I had heard it was a great way to help build up a website. So I decided to add one to my online bookstore website.

Let me tell you, folks, that first year of posting was pathetic. I still make plenty of mistakes these days, but way back then, it was awful.

Have you ever been to a blog which had paragraphs the size of chapters? Long, run-on, meandering sentences? Was very, very boring? Had poor grammar? My blog had all those and much more. In fact, a few years ago, I deleted almost a year’s worth of posts from that blog just because I couldn’t stand to so much as look at them — let alone read them.

But you know what is so crazy? People started coming to this atrociously-written blog of mine… and they kept coming back! I don’t know if it was out of pity or if it was because they just were bored out of their mind, but — for some odd reason — I started building up a blog readership.

It began with a dozen people (probably all related to me!) and then there were 50 daily readers. And then 100. Within two years, I was averaging 500-1000 visitors per day.

We had some lively discussion on all sorts of hot topics, I stuck my foot in my mouth a lot and I learned that, in the blogging world, you better be prepared to back up every statement you make. I also learned that you can never please everyone and, if you’re going to make bold statements, you need very thick skin.

I look back on those first few years of blogging and regret a lot of things I said: I was too bold, too opinionated and too ostracizing of those who didn’t believe exactly like I believed. At the same time, though, I am grateful to have had the opportunity to have my beliefs and writings challenged and picked apart by those who didn’t agree with me. It forced me to really examine why I believe what I believe and whether it was in line with God’s Word. It also helped me to become less critical and judgmental of those who believe or live differently than me.

While I think it is wonderful to have strong convictions and beliefs, I also now think these are only good when they are tempered with a lot of grace and love for others. I can’t possibly criticize someone else for the decisions they are making when I’ve not walked in their shoes or carried their burdens.

In addition to building up the online bookstore and starting a blog, I also landed a job working virtually as the marketing manager for a large homeschooling magazine. How that came to be was a rather interesting set of circumstances, but I’ll have to save that story for next time.

…To be continued next Saturday

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Comments

  1. Kathryn says

    Loved reading this! I love discussions and hearing what others think whether or not they are in line with what I think. We were all made differently for a reason, with different thoughts and beliefs, and to be able to be open minded (as much as possible) is enlightening. Community is so important! Being a Christian entails a lot of different things and as you know, each day, our goal is to become more like our Heavenly Father…but He never said it was going to be easy per se. He gave us the guide book of life for a reason. :) I never thought about starting a blog myself…but it seems real interesting. Am looking forward to reading more next week. Have a great week! Blessings & Smiles to you! :)

  2. says

    I loved reading this and I admire your honesty with your short comings. I also love the lesson that you learned and it is a very valuable one. Thanks for sharing with us.

  3. says

    That’s too funny about deleting your posts. We are in the process of moving our over 2500 posts to our new site, one by one!

    As we are going through them there are some that we think “what were we thinking?”

    We “only” have 2,000 posts left to go! I think we might be done in a year or two! :-)

  4. says

    I’ve been blogging for almost 2 years now and I think I only have about 25 visitors per day! I am impresed that you had such a large following so quickly. I’ve been reading your blog for over 2 years and while it has always been good, I can see how it (and you!) have grown, not in size, but in depth. I am enjoying this series – it is interesting to learn what you attempted to do before you began blogging and how this blog came to be.

    • says

      Be encouraged! I had a huge advantage because I had a website and customer base connected with my blog — and am email newsletter list I was slowly building up that I sent out blog links, too. I also started blogging before there was major blog saturation, so I also believe that was one reason it was easier to find readers back in the day. :)

  5. says

    Oh man. I needed this. :) I look at some of my posts and think gee Chelle, you aren’t in 8th grade writing a note to your friends. There needs to be more paragraphs. I don’t know what I am thinking sometimes. I have only been blogging about 7 months so I know that I can only get better. Right?!

    I have also made the mistake (quite recently) of making a comment that got under someone’s skin for all of the wrong reasons. I apologized until I was blue in the face and it just made it worse. People can’t read your mind and comments may come across horribly wrong. Lesson learned.

    I love your site and learn many many valuable things here. You are on my blogroll for a reason. So I don’t miss a thing I subscribe too. Job well done. :)

    • says

      Practice makes perfect. Er, at least, *better*! :)

      Thank you for your encouragement and keep on, keepin on! It’s difficult for people to read our hearts through our computer screens, isn’t it? I’ve unintentionally offended a lot of people in the past — and probably will do so in the future, too. It inevitable as a blogger. :(

  6. Katie says

    Hi Crystal,

    Thanks for posting this. I really had to stop running a at home business because it didn’t work out. I kept thinking it was me because I didn’t work hard enough but it felt like I was bashing my head against a brick wall all the time and I didn’t enjoy it so I stopped. I always feel very humbled by your writing as I think it is very engaging and interesting and most importantly relevant. You have a real connection to your readers – sometime I feel your posts were written just for me!!

    I’m now doing something else and again I’m having to take constructive feedback – it is a very humbling experience but also quite draining at times. Where do you find the energy from? I’m also on a low carb diet and I feel exhausted all the time.

    Katie

    • says

      Thank you for your kind encouragement. And as far as energy goes, did you read that I only lasted on the low-carb diet for four days? :) http://moneysavingmom.com/2010/08/p90x-on-a-budget-110th-of-the-way-through.html

      I was feeling exhausted all the time which is why I started P90X. Making my health a priority (along with getting 7-8 hours of sleep most nights) is making a major difference. I also unplug one entire day each week (Sundays), say “no” a lot, try not to let negative people get me down, am blessed to have a wonderful support system around me and start every day reading the Bible and praying — because without the Lord, I am nothing.

  7. Kelly says

    I am thankful you muddled through all of your struggles. Your work is truly fruitful in so many lives.

  8. Charity says

    Your work-at-home efforts have become a true testimony of what God can do through His children. Glad you didn’t give up! ;)

  9. says

    This was a great read Crystal. I’m not sure when you started blogging, but it seems like I started reading Biblical Womanhood many years ago. Some of your old posts still come to mind and I have often thought of looking them up – but then remember they are gone!

    I appreciate you sharing the lessons you have learned.

  10. Jennifer says

    I appreciate so much the role your religious beliefs take in your blog. It’s obvious religion is very important to you but some bloggers let it filter into every post and the attitude is becomes lecture-y to the non-Christians/religious who follow these blogs. I was really sad to have to stop reading a blog who’s regular content I enjoyed a lot but who posted a very one-sided view of a completely unrelated topic. Thank you for keeping on topic to the theme of your blog.

  11. says

    I think I am right there. In the middle of a million things, trying hard, hoping something sticks for much of the same reason. We very much believe in the debt free life, we’re 7 months in and moving forward.

    Thanks for sharing this series of posts! I am really enjoying them.

  12. says

    I am loving this series – like everyone else.

    Crystal, when you talk about the blog you were writing in this post – do you mean Biblical Womanhood? Or was there another one connected to your book-selling?

    {I’m curious how many different blogs you started on the journey…}

    • says

      Yes, it was Biblical Womanhood — as that was my book business, too.

      As far as how many blogs I’ve had, let’s see: I started with LiveJournal, then my husband and I had a joint-blog for a few months before I started BW. I also had a blog on making money for about two weeks before I decided that was a flop idea — because I was still figuring out how making money myself. :) I didn’t start another blog until 2007 when I started MoneySavingMom. And then I had MomofLittles for about a year when I was pregnant/first had Silas.

      I suppose you could say I have a problem with starting too many blogs. :) I don’t plan to start another unless I do a pregnancy blog if/when I get pregnant again (because I enjoy journaling that kind of stuff — weird, I know!).

  13. says

    I just started my own blog, I’m going to teach people how to cut hair, because I was a hairdresser. How to create your own garden for almost nothing. It’s very exciting but I too am worried that I will look back an cringe at my first attempts.

    • says

      @Melinda Curtis,
      Go for it! I don’t know about the haircutting (I’m too chicken to even dye my own hair!), but I think the garden one is a great idea especially now that so many people are interested in growing their own food.

  14. says

    I’ve been blogging for about 9 months. I’m still ecstatic when I get a hit from somebody who is not a personal friend. But slow and steady wins the race, right?

  15. says

    I started a recipe blog last febuary, just for fun and haven’t had very many followers, just friends and family. I also just started working from home with a company and I don’t know how to find customers!! It is a lot harder than I thought it’d be and hope that I can make some money for my family while staying home with my little girl! Love your blog! Thank you for all of the great advice!!!

  16. says

    I love reading these, Crystal! Thank you for being so open and honest about your struggles. It makes you seem much more “human” (you know, like the rest of us struggling bloggers!) but is also so encouraging. :o)

  17. says

    Just to second everyone else- thank you so much for sharing your story. It’s good to know that you weren’t an “overnight success” because sometimes (with starting anything new), it’s easy to feel like a failure when we don’t see results right away. We live in a culture of immediate gratification and it’s so easy to fall into that trap. However, that isn’t reality and I appreciate the encouragement that comes through on your blog in respect to learning and growing patiently!

  18. Dawn Camp says

    so sweet Crystal! so true for so many of us learning about Grace and how not just to receive it but to live it and give it….have a blessed Sunday.

  19. says

    All of that is part of maturing and growing….I enjoyed those posts too that you can look back and be embarrassed about. They were encouraging too. Sometimes professional is not always what someone is looking for….
    I still have some of your old magazines “Polished Cornerstones” because they encouraged me greatly as a young mom…..and you were not even a mom yet. So, don’t be embarrassed about stuff like that.

  20. says

    That is hilarious that you deleted your posts. I wonder if one day you will wish you could go back and see them for a good laugh. :) And I am with you on the having thick skin if you voice strong opinions. My favorite line has become “I respectfully disagree” when people don’t like what my opinions are, I don’t see a point in arguing past that point. Thanks for sharing your experiences!

  21. says

    Thank you so much for sharing so honestly in this series – it’s such an encouragement to know that everything takes time and patience! I can hardly believe you’ve only been blogging on Money Saving Mom since 2007, I think I was one of your first followers! :)

  22. says

    I absolutely love this series, I think it is one of my favorites (in addition to saving 100% down for a home, so inspiring!). I’ve always been fascinated with people’s journeys towards being able to work at home, and I’ve always wanted too, which is why I started my blog about doing just that, so this story of your journey really resonates with me, and I hope on day that my journey will resonate with others. I’m blessed to have a full time job outside of the home and my son attends a preschool, so I have the option of feeling my way into it and finding something really right for me, but its a lot of work, and a lot of research! I can’t imagine how you did it while trying to keep your family afloat and take care of an infant!

    I also follow SavvyBlogging which has given me amazing tools and ideas for my own blog, so thank you for both!

    Stephanie

  23. Amy says

    I first found you on Polished Corner Stones, then later I found you again on Biblical Womanhood.

  24. says

    I think you underestimate how good/interesting your Biblical Womanhood blog was. ;) Seriously! :) :) I know it was a blessing to me. I still have all my issues of Polished Cornerstones, too! :)

  25. says

    I just recently found you, but you are already one of my favorite bloggers to read. I especially love the personal posts you put out. :) Thanks so much for sharing your life with us all.

  26. says

    Crystal! This is such a wonderful series — encouraging and helpful to a new blogger like me! I do have to say that waiting until next Saturday for the next post in this series seems like a long time (because it’s so interesting to me)!