I’m about to hit seven years of blogging. I was going to write a new post, but realized most of what I learned this year reinforces and expands on what I already knew. So rather than reinvent the wheel, I’m adding some thoughts about blogging lessons learned.
I published my first post on October 30, 2011. When I started, I had no idea that anyone outside of my poker group would read a word I wrote. The Deal Mommy was simply a way to avoid repeating the same stuff over and over again.
A few months later, Kathy from Will Run for Miles found a deal I had posted. We got to chatting about how we were drowning in 14 cent Propel water. She led me to Chicago Seminars and the rest is history.
Lessons Learned: Blogging
- I like writing and helping people. I hate “influencing”. This is a recent epiphany. I’m drowning in swag. I’ve been to enough “resorts” in random places I only visited because they gave me a free stay. I don’t mean this as a #humblebrag but once you get to a certain level, it’s just easier and less stressful to travel as you wish, especially when you add miles and points to the mix. I’ll still work with companies I love: Moon Guides, Disney, and Context Travel spring to mind. I might cover stuff for Traveling Mom or another outlet. But I’m not gonna represent stuff here that doesn’t excite me.
- If you are spending more time staging your life than actually living it, reconsider your priorities. I’m not gonna focus on my “brand” anymore. I’ll post to Instagram if I have a great photo to share, but I’m not going to take six tries to get the”candid” shot of me contemplating some beautiful scene or the perfect dinner pic. I’ll repin something I find interesting. If you wanna follow me, great. But the games bloggers play to up their numbers? I’m over it.
- If you are in it for the money, get out. I’m not saying there’s no money to be made. I’ve made some, and others have made a lot more. I am saying turning a profit is the exception, not the rule. Of the thousands of bloggers I track, maybe 30% break even in swag or income to cover their expenses. Maybe 15% make a part time income. Less than 5% could support a family on blogging.
- You own your time and your voice. Use them wisely.
- Daily outrage is a lonely endeavor.
- If you have nothing to say, don’t. The internet is full of garbage. Please don’t add to the pile. I used to think I had to post daily. My readership increased dramatically when I stopped typing on deadline and started focusing on what I thought added value.
- You have no idea what might go viral: I can take credit for creating the term Vendoming. I can not take credit for its entry into the travel hacking glossary. I had no idea how many people shared my opinion that the blogs had gone cray-cray. Vendoming just gave voice to the bubbling frustration.
- People want honest opinions, not advertorial: My most popular post (by a mile)? The one where I tell people which Disney World resorts I don’t like. My skeptical review of Beaches Turks and Caicos shows up on page one of Google- much to their chagrin. Readers understand that when everything is awesome, nothing is.
- Authenticity is important. Colonoscopy? TMI. When I started blogging, I tried being anonymous. It just didn’t work for me. “The Deal Mommy” and “Dia” are one and the same…to a point. After seven years, that blogger/real life line is still a moving target. It became more so when the kids were old enough to read what I wrote. And even more so now that Deal Kid’s friends follow me on Instagram.
- There’s no need to shout: I’m embarrassed by the volume of ALL CAPS AND EXCLAMATION POINTS in my early posts. Dude, take a chill pill. Let your writing do the talking.
- Some people will not get you. That’s OK: This may be the most important lesson blogging has taught me. The Deal Mommy is simply not some readers’ cup of tea. While I fail to understand why they continue reading, I also have learned whose opinion matters and whose doesn’t.
- For every troll, ten of you have let me know something I wrote affected you in a positive way: That is why I keep coming back to the keyboard.
- I will never, ever, sell pee pads.
Lessons Learned: Life
- You may have accomplished one of your life goals without even realizing it. Only when I attended a talk about publishing did I realize I’d already written a book about Disney World, it just wasn’t in book form. Now “Amazon bestselling author” can go on my tombstone. Give yourself credit for what you’ve already done and see how it might be a step towards what you want to do.
- Find your tribe(s): At Chicago Seminars back in 2012 I had a moment I hope you have had at least once in your life: the realization that you are not alone and that this might be your tribe. I’ve since found my travel hacking tribe, my blogging tribe, and my mom tribe. At times they overlap, but not often.
- If you haven’t yet found your tribe, make one: Your life will be so much richer for it. This year I attended Chicago Seminars for the first time in six years, and I spoke for the first time ever. Six years ago the miles/points community was 90% male and single. I was begging for more family content, but it was falling on deaf ears. This year I was one of many parent speakers. I credit that to #FT4RL.
- Karma will catch up to you: For both good and ill. Everyone knows who the gum on the community shoe is. Be nice.
- Did I mention that I will never, ever, sell pee pads?
Thank You for sticking with me in my little corner of the internet. Thanks too to Matt, Trevor and Joe for letting me keep you company.
I love hearing about your adventures. They motivate me more than I can ever say.