I’ve been blogging for 10 years now. Here’s what I’ve learned.

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Ten years ago today I began my blog as a way to keep in contact with friends and family afar due to military life. I had no idea then what this space would become for me, mean to me, or teach me. This post is an attempt to share ten years of blogging in one post.

As a blogging timeline of sorts…

As I mentioned, it all started in December of 2008. My first post – as well as several from the first few years – have since been archived and set to private. I have saved them for my own posterity, but they mostly consisted of “hey, this is what life is like right now” written by a 21-year-old, childless newlywed with decent grammar but limited writing experience. Also, all the pictures. ALL the pictures.

Look at us babies!!!

The banner at the top of my site was always a collage and changed often. This was the first one:

My writing consisted of a lot of military lifestyle content. Believe it or not, this content continues to generate some great traffic for me on a DAILY basis thanks to some Pinterest boards in the military community. My playlist Songs for Military Members and Military Wives has had over 62,000 hits in the last four years alone!

(I don’t have 10 year cumulative stats due to some platform transfers.)

In January of 2011, after one year under my belt, I changed the name of our website from our last name to Beautiful in His Time and created the main Beautiful in His Time Facebook page:

Honestly, I wasn’t sure what to call our website. While we are a proud military family, being such does not define us. So I didn’t want a military-themed title, especially not knowing what our lives will hold in the future. But within just a few moments of wondering what title to use, God brought the verses of Ecclesiastes 3 to my mind:

“To every thing there is a season, and a time to every purpose under the heaven.”

These verses accurately depict our lives right now, and our lives over the past few years. We’ve been through a lot. And in many ways, our lives are still very much a mess.

I try my best to keep this website as real and genuine, but I know that often I find myself guilty of only showing our best face. Just know this: we are still very much a work in progress. Often we look ahead and wonder what God has in store for us and our messed up lives. But these verses give me hope…hope that God isn’t done with us. That sometimes He takes us through dark times. This doesn’t mean it will be this way forever.

I hope that as you continue with us in our journey, this “beautiful mess,” that you always remember that God’s timing is not always our timing.

I had no idea how well suited this theme was for our lives and how significant it would become.

Still, the early years were a lot of monthly baby picture updates and rather mundane posts about baby food, diapers, and things like that – with military content sprinkled in between it all.

I found it to be a safe place to vent my feelings, especially when I went through some very. dark. days. during my husband’s first deployment, when I was stuck hundreds of miles away from family with a baby who wouldn’t sleep.

The first really vulnerable post I remember writing was “So how was your RnR?”, in which I dished on what military mid-deployment leave was REALLY like for our family (and it wasn’t all roses and cuddles, that’s for sure).

But in 2012, my writing became a place for me to flesh out new ideas and struggles all while searching for beauty in it all.

In 2012 I dealt with a lot of pain and junk THROUGH my writing – like discussing my ongoing problems with perfectionism, exposing my Facebook addiction problem, talking about the ups and downs of reintegration after deployment, and getting really vulnerable about postpartum depression.

I didn’t expect to come out of 2012 a totally different person. Well, honestly, I can’t say that I’m a totally different person. I’m the same person I have always been. But what has changed is how I view myself, how I take care of myself, how I view God, and how I view life. And in that sense, I FEEL like a totally different person.

It’s been a year of tears, growing pains, and heart-wrenching experiences. It’s been a year of lifestyle changes like a healthier diet, more exercise, and changing how I view and use social media.

It’s been a year of breaking chains. Chains of negative thinking, addiction, perfectionism, and legalism.

It’s been a year of pain that has led to freedom.

2012 was also the year when I began to embrace Beautiful in His Time as more than just a blog title but as a way of living:

God sees something beautiful in this mess. He sees a bigger picture than what I can see. And time after time after time he reminds me… Aprille, I know you think it’s ugly, and messy, and not worth keeping. But you are not beyond my power to make you beautiful. EVERYTHING can be beautiful in my time. Just be patient. I’m not done with you yet.

I began making monthly entries dedicated solely to the pursuit of finding God’s beauty in my mess.

In 2013, the wellsprings of my soul burst open and I wrote, wrote, and wrote some more. And I write about everything. I wrote about what it was like to mother tired. I wrote about my failed parenting style. I wrote about my complicated faith story. I wrote about my complicated marriage. I wrote about my utter brokenness in marriage. Heck, I even wrote about writing, why I wasn’t writing a book, and what it was like to face the critics.

Bleeding while you write is messy, and unfortunately it wasn’t always just my blood that was split. 2013 (and into 2014) taught me some hard truths about what stories are mine to share and what aren’t and how my words can harm even when they aren’t intended so.

On the tech side of things, in 2012 I moved from Yola to WordPress.com and then in 2014 I went self-hosted and moved again to WordPress.org. I also created my Pinterest account, had an unfortunate stint with Google Plus (doesn’0t every blogger?), and really began to grow. In 2013 and 2014 I went to my first blogging conference, participated weekly in Five Minute Friday, and hung out with other writers in Twitter parties. I followed trends like OneWord365 {home, whitespacehopegrow, and nourish} and did a lot of guest-posting to get my name and brand out there. I started an email newsletter and did monthly campaigns there for a while.

In 2013 (sorry I’m jumping around a teensy bit in chronology here), I also published my top post of all time, How To Encourage a Special Needs Mom (When You Aren’t One). It did okay at the time, but on January 4, 2014, it went viral (over 100,000 hits in one day) and set my blog’s course in a slightly different direction: that of encouraging the special needs community.

So during the first part of 2014 (while simultaneously writing a series for preschool moms), I began preparing for a 31-post blog series for the month of October dedicated to the topic of special needs parenting. What was so ironic about all of this is that my son (who was 3 1/2) was on his way to getting his OWN special needs diagnoses, which came right in the middle of the blog series launch.

By the end of 2014, I was ALL OUT OF WORDS.

I was also in the deep throws of special needs parenting (as my son had started inpatient therapy)…oh, and I was pregnant!!!

So aside from therapy updates and pregnancy updates, it was a fairly quiet year on the blog until October.

Having Little Brother in September of 2015 was another big turning point for me, both as a person and as a blogger. I spent the month of October sharing in another 31-post series his birth story, how I prepared for his birth, and what it meant for me – personally and spiritually.

Having found my voice again, 2016 was a real MISHMASH of content. There was a little bit of everything: parenting, special needs, marriage, breastfeeding, sleep deprivation, fashion, mental health, and self-care.

And then I started college again.

Unfortunately, while school has been good for me, it hasn’t left a lot of time leftover for this space I love so much. I’ve done a lot of work behind the scenes (primarily on Facebook and Pinterest) growing my following and sharing my content in those spaces, as well as trying to establish a steady affiliate marketing income. I segmented into separate Facebook pages for my content spheres motherhood, faith, special needs, and marriage – which has resulted in taking my meager Facebook audience from 2,000 to over 32,000 in the last two years.

I got creative with a lot of different media types to accelerate Facebook growth – like doing LIVE videos, upping my meme-creation game and creating inspirational videos.

Most of the blogging I have done in those two years has really centered in on special needs parenting and growing a complicated faith. While my writing is FAR more sporadic, I have been aiming for quality over quantity – and I think it’s been working for me.

I need this mug because it’s pretty much my motto now.

I've been blogging for 10 years now. Here's what I've learned. Advice for bloggers. #blog #blogger #bloggers #wordpress #advice #writer

What I have learned from the first ten years of blogging…

Gosh. Where do I start?

  • Blogging advice is a dime a dozen and always changing. ALWAYS CHANGING. So take it with a grain of salt.
  • Big-name bloggers won’t always have time for little-peon bloggers. That will hurt. But when one takes the time to get to know you, it can change your life.
  • It’s okay to not follow everyone back.
  • It’s okay to not monetize.
  • It’s also okay to monetize, even after you’ve been vocal about not monetizing.
  • You can monetize your blog without doing sponsored posts.
  • Social media is a must. But not every platform will work for you and your content. Google Plus is a waste of time.
  • Be real. Be honest. Be genuine. Be open. Be transparent.
  • Be careful. Be respectful. Be discerning. Be kind. Apologize when you screw up (because you will).
  • Be bold. Be brave. Be you.

 

 

  • It’s okay to change your focus. your name, or your brand.
  • It’s also okay to have the same header and color scheme for 6 years. Just because everyone else is rebranding doesn’t mean you have to.
  • Be careful not to spend so much time idolizing other bloggers and their writing style that you start to lose your own voice.
  • A blogging conference is worth it, at least once.
  • You will get hate mail. Haters gonna hate.
  • You may also meet your best friend. Blogging has its perks.
  • Speaking of besties, you need a blogging bestie, or two. STAT. (But you can’t have mine, she’s taken.)
  • You don’t have to do everything your blogging bestie does.
  • Blog-land is huge and ever-evolving. Go with the flow.
  • It’s okay to archive posts.
  • ‘You don’t have to respond to every comment or email.
  • Your blog is your space – make it what you want it to be.

Where do I go from here?

Well, more of the same, I hope – but with a lot more wisdom and maturity. I’m taking this coming semester OFF of school (a long story) to refocus on family, my health, and living a life I am really ENJOYING instead of just SURVIVING. I am hopeful that writing more often will be a big part of that.

So basically…

Through it all, my blogging goal is still to encourage others:

We believe that God is not done writing our story, but rather is making something beautiful out of our mess.

It is our hope that our story encourages you to also pursue God and look for his beauty in your messy life.

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