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Joyful Blogging! Five Years of Blogging Lessons

joyful blogging

This past Wednesday marked five years of blogging for me! I started my blog on a whim, one grey New England day. I had only discovered the world of parenting and craft blogs a few weeks earlier, and thought I’d give it a try!

Blogging has been a richer experience for me than I ever would have imagined. Blogging has connected me to incredible mothers around the world, who give me new ideas on how to best parent my children and inspire me with their creativity. Moving from one side of the country to another, it has been incredible to have built-in friends in a brand-new place. Blog friends have brought us dinner, invited us to crafting and science events, and met up for play dates. Non-blogging readers have sent great advice on navigating California’s healthcare system, as well as suggestions of places to take the kids!

Here are a few things blogging has taught me

It’s a small world, after all.

One of the reasons I started blogging was that I was having a hard time finding moms in my local community who loved letting their kids craft as much as I did. Turns out there are hundreds of similarly-minded moms online, including many who make me look only mildly crafty! I am also forever indebted to the many moms who have taken time out to write about their local neighborhoods in a child-friendly way for my world culture for kids series!

The kindness of strangers makes the world go round.

Don’t underestimate the impact a kind and thoughtful comment will have on a blogger’s life! I was still breaking into the social scene in the small town we lived in in Massachusetts when I started blogging, and looking after two young children with a frequently traveling husband and only a small handful of friends could get very lonely! I used to schedule posts for early morning in part because I knew there was a very good chance that I would wake up to a kind or funny comment from at least one reader – and that made dark winter mornings much easier to face! Listen to Thumper’s mom when online: “If you can’t say something nice, don’t say nothing at all.”

If you can, don’t blog for money.

I do run some sponsored posts and a handful of ads. They pay for trips and educational and enrichment activities for our family. Sometimes this income covers more serious things, like Anna’s physical therapy bills. I am very grateful to have that income! But, to the extent that your family budget allows, I highly recommend being choosy about what campaigns you accept. It will keep your content interesting and prevent blogging burnout!

Don’t compete.

Blogland is happiest when people cooperate instead of competing. It’s tempting to measure a blogger by their stats, but I find that the influence of bloggers has very little to do with numbers. The same is true of pinners on Pinterest, in my experience – some of my posts that have gone viral have done so thanks to one small pinner with a very devoted following!

Unless you need the numbers for household income purposes, I believe in spending time and energy on content that you enjoy creating and collaborating with other bloggers (large and small), rather than trying to optimize hits to your blog.

Read other blogs!

I think it is very hard to keep up a blog if you never read other blogs! I believe in commenting on blogs, too, because that is where I have built some great friendships over the years! At the end of the day, a blog is just a blog, but a friend who gets me smiling, laughing, and thinking is priceless!

What is your best blogging advice? And, if you don’t blog, what advice do you have for bloggers?

MaryAnne is a craft loving educator, musician, photographer, and writer who lives in Silicon Valley with her husband Mike and their four children.

74 thoughts on “Joyful Blogging! Five Years of Blogging Lessons”

  1. Congratulations on five years!! Yours is one of the first blogs I started following and I always look forward to your posts. You’ve been such a great support to me and I’m always learning from you. I love your blogging lessons – thank you for sharing them.

  2. Wow, MaryAnne!!! Has it been 5 years already?!? Feels like I have watched your family (and the kids) grow online all these years and I love checking to see what you are up to and all the fun creative ideas you share here! Congrats on 5 years, and here’s to many many more! xoxo

  3. Congratulations! I have said it before and I’ll say it again – you’re doing a wonderful job by sharing all that you do. Thanks for the tips.

  4. Happy Blogiversary! Great advice! I’m following you everywhere now (no I’m not a stalker), so I can get to know you better. I’m so grateful for all you share and comments you’ve made on my blog. I’m trying to do more reading and commenting myself.

  5. Elisa | blissfulE

    “…a blog is just a blog, but a friend who gets me smiling, laughing, and thinking is priceless!” Thank you for being one of those friends for me! I always look forward to hearing/seeing what you’ve been up to. Happy 5 years!!

  6. Congrats!!!! :) And thank you for sharing what you’ve learned along the way. You’ve always been quick with a kind and supportive comments, even to us “little guys”. I love reading what you’ve been up to and what you share here at Mama Smiles.

  7. Congrats, MaryAnne! One thing I appreciate about you is that no matter how much success you have/are achieving, you still aren’t “too cool” to comment and read on other people’s blogs.

    I totally agree with your advice, and I would tell bloggers to only do it if you would do so even if you were never paid a single dime. Because if you’re like 99% of bloggers out there, you’re making like, $5 a month for hours and hours of work. So if you’re doing it for the bucks, best to try another avenue. But if you do it because you would be doing it anyway, then your content will only be great, and you don’t have to feel discouraged about the numbers or the money.

  8. Kristi @ Creative Connections for Kids

    Happy Anniversary, Maryanne! Your blog is lovely and I’ve enjoyed following you and your family’s journey. I agree, with Isil, it is a very happy place to visit. :) Kristi

  9. Congratulations on 5 years of blogging. I totally agree with all of your advice. I would add that it’s important to remember why you started blogging in the first place and why you love blogging. Hold on to the passion that made you sit down and start typing that very first day. Congrats again and thanks for being such a supportive blogger.

  10. Happy 5 year bloggiversary! I’m coming up to 1 year this week, and have just been thinking how I love creating posts & content but am so over the “growing” part of my blog. I just want to enjoy the crafting, spending the time creating with my kids, the photography and the writing. The social media and self-promoting can be really overwhelming! AND I do love reading other blogs too :-)

    1. Thank you, Kate! I think it is important to remember that numbers aren’t everything, especially when it comes to happy blogging. Sounds like you are doing a great job of staying grounded!

  11. Kim @ The Educators' Spin On It

    Congratulations! It’s been a joy to follow long your journey of parenting and blogging! I’m so glad that we’ve connected through our blogs, After School Linky Party and now working together to create a Kid Blogger Network Event next year! Looking forward to where your new journeys will take you!

  12. Happy Anniversary Maryanne!! I know that I have followed along with your blog for the last 3 years and you have been a tremendous inspiration to me in many ways. Continue sharing what you love with the same passion you have shown for the past 5 years :-)

  13. Congratulations on 5 years of blogging! It’s been wonderful getting to know you though your blog and in real life and I’m glad we could connect before you moved. Your lessons ring very true!

  14. Happy blogiversary! I love following your blog. I thank your brother for introducing me to it. I hope we can get together in the near future for some fun. Also, I hope Mike had a great first day!

    1. I would love to get together – drop me an email when you have time – I have a feeling you have a more complex schedule than me, at the moment!

  15. Happy Blog Anniversary! So glad I discovered Mama Smiles. I really value your joyful parenting insights and am so appreciative of your kindness : )

  16. Happy bloggiversary! I am so happy to have met you early in my own bloggy career and watching our kids practically grow together. I am looking forward to the day when they will meet together IRL :) Absolutely agree with your advice!

    1. I have really enjoyed getting to know you over the years, Natalie! And I would LOVE to meet IRL. Let me know when your work schedule allows, and we will find a way to make it work!

  17. Hum?

    Congratulations Mama! I haven’t been here in months (I think) (point 5 very well taken). But it’s so hard to find time in the day.


    Yeah. Thanks for the advice! You are awesome!

    I hope you have a great weekend Mama!

  18. Congratulations on making it 5 years. I agree with the money angle, I don’t accept anything unless it’s a good fit for me. I would add to pay it forward if you do blog for money. There have been several paid opps that have come my way that are not a good fit, but I ask my fellow tribe members if it would be a good fit for them. The PR rep is usually grateful for the info and my friends are thankful for the opportunity.

  19. Happy 5th! Great advice. I miss public blogging. I hope to do it again. Someday! I’m so impressed that you are able to find the time to blog regularly!

  20. Happy 5 years Mary Anne! Excellent lessons – thanks for sharing with us. The one lesson I’ve learned in my short time blogging is to write about what you love! It may not be the most read post but it will be one of your best written posts & others will enjoy reading it because of your desire to share the idea.

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