Reflections and Thoughts from my Blogging Vacation

by Erin, The $5 Dinner Mom on May 21, 2009

Last week I did not blog.  I scheduled out my posts, a few great guest posts and reposted a previous recipe.  I did tweet a bit a lot.  Because I just needed to stay connected! 

I stepped back and looked at what has transpired over the past 9 months.  I don’t write much about “blogging”, but I thought I’d share some things with you.  I feel compelled to first share a little about how this ministry has transformed into a ministry-business!

A little history first…a little about what has happened since I signed up for the URL 5buckdinners.blogspot.com back on August 22, 2008.  I wanted 5dollardinners.blogspot.com and signed up for it, but messed up the email it was connected to, so I changed it to 5buckdinners.blogspot.com.  I really didn’t like that URL.  I wanted the site to be 5dollardinners.com.  I didn’t know then that I could buy the .com.  For just $10/year.  We were so tight financially at the time that I was afraid to ask my husband if I could spend the $10 to buy the .com.  I had no plan or vision for the site, just seemed like the smart thing to do.  And boy am I glad I followed my instinct on that one.  And that Hubs agreed to the $10 investment!

After the site had been up for about a month, I learned about ad networks and applied to BlogHer.  I was accepted and started running ads.  About 6 weeks after I started the ads, I saw a post on Steph’s blog about how she subsidized her grocery budget with her advertising income.  Now, I knew she had lots more traffic than I did, but I didn’t get it. 

Was she kidding?  Was that really possible?  Wouldn’t it be AMAZING if I could subsidize MY grocery bill with advertising income?  I emailed another blogger who write a very popular blog (Could I do that?  Can I really write to a “big time blogger”?  You mean I could even be friends with them!) to ask about advertising income and see what I was supposed to do.  Naivete, are you seeing it???

I had yet to sign in to my BlogHer account to check the balance of how much I had earned to that point…yes, it had been 6 weeks!  (Hello, naivete!)  So I signed in and was SHOCKED.  I could not believe that REAL money could be made blogging.  It didn’t make sense!  I did not know that this was possible. I’m very thankful for several bloggers who mentored me through expanding and diversifying the monetization of the site.  It has been a STEEP learning curve!

I NEVER dreamed that I could/would make any money from the site, but as it grew and grew and grew, I realized the need for it.  The time that it takes to maintain the site and the correspondence related to the site became more and more and I saw that yes, it was/is important for me to be “paid” for what I am doing.  Today, the site is an official LLC business and I consider blogging a part time job.  (My other part time job…writing a cookbook.  Somewhere in there I am wife, mom, chef, photographer, gardener, chaffeur, novice speech and occupational therapist, etc.)  I don’t feel guilty anymore telling my kids that mommy has to “work,” when I need to answer emails or write posts.

The opportunities that have come my way, I could never had dreamed of.  The friendships I have made through this fabulous online community, never thought it possible.  I still have to pinch myself to make sure this is really happening.  I was recently listed on Nielsen’s Top 50 Power Mommy Bloggers earlier this month.  WHAT???  Seriously?  This is a HUGE honor and I’m so flattered to be on a list among such amazing bloggers…Ladies that I admire and look up to. 

Pinch. Pinch.  Really?  When will I wake up from this dream?

Who knew the site would have done what is has, that I would write a cookbook, that people would want to hear and read what I have to say!  Certainly not me!  Huh?

I am so thankful that God has blessed us through the site and has given us so much more than we imagined possible!

(If you are interested in “blogging basics,” Andrea of Mommysnacks.net is working on a new series “Begin to Blog” that will start in June with TONS of helpful and useful information for starting, maintaining and monetizing blogs.  So go leave a question so she can include it in her series.  She is a wealth of information!)

So what did I learn last week…

1. Bloggers NEED to take vacations.  At least a week long.  I thought this “wasn’t aloud” or that everyone would run and not come back.  Ha!  I plan to take at least 3 week long vacations each year.  I recommend you do the same…you won’t be disapppointed!

2. Social media (Facebook and Twitter) plays not only a key role in blogging, but life as well!  Facebook and Twitter have changed my perspective on life and had a huge impact on my mothering, as I find I am not alone in the struggles mothers face.  It is SO difficult being a stay at home mom, but Twitter and Facebook allow me to connect with other moms about “stuff.”  And I need that.  To stay sane.  It’s so wonderful having an opportunity or two eight each day to stop in and check what my “in real life” friends and my blogging friends, many of whom are my “in real life” friends as well, are up to.  And to connect and share about life’s experiences and drama!

Here’s an example…The other day I tweeted, “Am I the only mother in America who actually lets encourages her children to jump on their/my bed?”  Um, no, there are MANY others!  Even one whose daughter did flips off the bunk bed!  That takes the edge off the “Am I a bad mother? guilt” that I was feeling for jumping on the bed with my kids before I put the freshly laundered sheets back on. (Yes, I was jumping with them!) 

Community, I need it!  I might not live next door, but I’m right here anytime you need me!  I’ll sit with you laptop-to-laptop, have coffee and chat about monkeys jumping on beds,

3. A fresh perspective and time to focus on other things. I am thankful for the new perspectives that I took away from the week.  Blogging is not my life.  And I can’t let it take over my life.  I must keep it balanced with the other important things in my life…my faith, my marriage, my kids, exercise, the cookbook, hobbies, hanging out with girlfriends, etc.  Yes, it is my job, and has become a business, but it has to fit neatly in with the other things I value in life.

4. There is only so much I can do.  I better understand my limits.  I simply can’t do it all!  Boy, do I wish I had a 3rd arm or 3 extra hours in the day!!  Ask for help, accept help and just say “no!”

A little history.  A lot of humility.  Fresh new perspectives. And permission to jump on the bed, anytime!

Thoughts, comments, suggestions are welcome!

{ 32 comments… read them below or add one }

Anna McMullen May 21, 2009 at 10:39 pm

Thank you for the encouragement and inspiration. Glad you were able to relax and enjoy your blogging vacation.

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Andrea @ Mommy Snacks.net May 21, 2009 at 10:44 pm

Erin, what a refreshing post to read! And, I too am glad your hubs’ OK’d this investment! Where God guides, God provides!!

It is so easy to allow blogging, and social media, consume us! Taking a step back to survey the landscape and realize the other facets of our life – those that possibly caused us to blog to begin with – cannot be compromised or suffer because of sharing our passion with the world! I really need to take more time to *jump on the bed* too!!! I mean, it’s not like I made it to begin with!

I’m so glad you’re my bud!

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Alyssa May 21, 2009 at 11:02 pm

Isn’t it amazing how fast it can grow! I enjoyed hearing your story. Thanks for sharing!

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Nicole @ Being Frugal Is Fabulous May 21, 2009 at 11:54 pm

Congratulations Erin on all of your success! I am so happy for you and think you are just fantastic. I need to be better about taking breaks, my new fancy phone is helping out with that!

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Damien @ freestuff4free.com May 22, 2009 at 12:36 am

Erin, this is a great blog entry. Brings things back to perspective of what is important. Whilst running a blog or site is part of our lives, it cannot and should not become the be all and end all. I think you summed it up well. May the blessings continue to flow!

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Mama Bird May 22, 2009 at 7:13 am

Wow, I can’t believe your blog is so young! That’s amazing. Great job! Blogs and saving money take a lot of work and you do both well, so you deserve all your success for sharing your tips and helping others!

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Lynn May 22, 2009 at 7:32 am

Thanks for sharing this. I really enjoyed it.

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Amanda May 22, 2009 at 7:36 am

I loved reading your story and it gives hope to those starting that if they find their niche they too could become a “big time blogger”. I enjoy coming to read so keep up the good work.

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Jessica May 22, 2009 at 7:57 am

Loved the story and you’ve inspired me to start a blog as well. I have been planning meals saving, couponing and all that goods stuff since I became a SAHM. I realized that I LOVE cooking. Maybe I can link you up. For now, I’m just enjoying the hobby and hoping to put together some history for my kids (family blog is– http://www.cupcakesandcowboys.typepad.com). I’ve had that up and running for 3 years :)

Thanks for all your hard work! You deserve it all!

Get some rest!

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Mary Ellen May 22, 2009 at 8:16 am

Great story, thanks for sharing! I’ve loved watching your blog grow. My blog right now is more like a journal, but I have been thinking about creating a blog focused on the full-time working mother and her role as homekeeper. It’s something I know alot about (because I am one) and seems to be an area not largely covered by other blogs.

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Stephanie May 22, 2009 at 8:19 am

Wow has it only been 9 months? It seems like you have been around here forever :) It is so nice to see another mommy blogger succeed and I love your humility! You are filling a valuable niche, and I pray you continue to succeed with all you do! I know that this blog has been a blessing to me and my family!

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Erin May 22, 2009 at 8:26 am

Thanks Stephanie!

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Janell May 22, 2009 at 8:38 am

Thank you for sharing. What an encouragement.

I appreciate all you share.

Janell

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FruitfulVine2 May 22, 2009 at 8:42 am

This post is so encouraging. I am not anywhere close to making money from my blogging efforts yet but I’ve found the need to step away for a week every month. Thanks for posting this and tweeting about it because I feel encouraged that I am not being irresponsible. I schedule my posts and it’s been so refreshing to just step away.

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Angela May 22, 2009 at 9:30 am

thanks for sharing. very encouraging!

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carrie May 22, 2009 at 10:17 am

NICELY written Erin and SO very encouraging!! I really want my blog to become my part-time income as well! I have a long ways to go, but I am ever so slowly moving in that direction. You are true encouragement and i thank you!! ;-)

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Valerie May 22, 2009 at 10:18 am

This is very encouraging to read! I always feel like the blogs that I read regularly are seasoned bloggers who know all about the business. I started 2(!) on a whim…I meant to only start one, but when I got an opportunity to join a “city” network of bloggers (www.citiesonthecheap.com), I felt that I should take it to have the support and guidance of the network. Unfortunately, not all that I wanted to blog about could be covered under the “cheap” site, so I still wanted to have a blog on which I could post about recipes, sports, charities, etc. I’m pigeon-holing myself by have 2 mostly “local” blogs, but without kids, I suppose Columbus is my baby. It’s overwhelming at first, but I’m finding a balance. Not making money, but if that’s going to happen, it will come with time so I’m not worried. When my sister wakes up today who is visiting me (yes it’s 11:15, but she’s on West Coast time still, I’m taking a blog vacation until at least Tuesday. Anyway, I’m rambling, so I just wanted to say thanks for sharing this and that you’re doing a great job.
–Val
http://www.columbusonthecheap.com
http://www.feelgoodcolumbus.com

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susieshomemade May 22, 2009 at 12:21 pm

Those are some really, really good points!

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Cindy May 22, 2009 at 1:28 pm

Thank you so much for sharing your story. I met and talked to you once on the phone. Thanks for helping so many people save in these tough times. Give and it will be given back to you.

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Org Junkie May 22, 2009 at 8:26 pm

So glad you had a great week off. I unplugged last August for a whole week and it was amazing! Definitely need to do that again soon. I’m so grateful for the income my blog brings in which has allowed me to be a SAHM mom for the last three years. In order to do that I had to be able to cover the grocery bill each month…such a blessing that I’ve been able to do that.

Congrats on your success my friend!
Laura

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Julie Alejos May 22, 2009 at 8:44 pm

You are such inspiration!!! I am glad you are here. I have really learned a lot from you!!

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Kim May 22, 2009 at 11:57 pm

Thanks for such and inspiring read. Can you direct me to the article you mentioned, Steph’s blog about how she subsidized her grocery budget with advertising income? I looked around her site, but I couldn’t find it. Thanks so much! Love your site.

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Frances May 23, 2009 at 3:54 pm

I would be interested in getting the link to “post on Steph’s blog”.

Thanks
Frances

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Liz@Hoosier Homemade May 23, 2009 at 6:24 pm

Thanks Erin! I REALLY enjoyed reading this. I’m very new to blogging, (a little less than 150 posts) and I’m trying to figure it all out. I really need to get some advertising going, but I’m not really sure which way to go. Thanks for the help!
~LIz

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Alexia May 24, 2009 at 4:44 pm

Hi, thanks so much for posting…. I’ve been thinking (praying!) about trying to make a little bit of money by blogging…. nice to hear about BlogHer. I have never heard of it. :-) Got to go. Google is calling. :-)

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Rajeev Singh May 25, 2009 at 11:15 am

This is the first time I am visiting this blog, but I must say I am impressed with what I saw here. It is fascinating to read your journey from an “unsure” homemaker to a super successful “mommy blogger”. This would surely inspire a lot others to do something like this.

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Krista May 26, 2009 at 5:50 pm

You know when I met you the other week, I was pinching myself, for sitting next to and talking to such a popular blogger. Keep doing what you are doing – you are doing a great job!

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PB May 27, 2009 at 2:17 am

Those are some really, really good points!

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Rose December 30, 2009 at 7:49 pm

What absolutely perfect timing! I just started my very own blog YESTERDAY!!!
I have been a follower for more than a year and I love your blog. I have used many of your recipes, but I have to say that living in Canada it is rare for me to be able to duplicate your prices. But I have been employing a few tricks that fellow Canadians can use. And they really work for us. That is why I started my own blog http://the25perweekgrocerychallenge.blogspot.com/,
It is $25 per person per week…. so it is realistic regardless of family size or ages ( I have 3 athletic teens in my family!). I hope some of my tips will be able to help another Canadian mom sometime.
Anyways I would be honoured if you dropped by sometime.

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Lonhoidaydapy October 19, 2011 at 1:44 am

The family just got back from a fun trip to Oakland. I had so much fun with the children and took pictures of just about everything. We haven’t gone on a family trip in forever, so we were really excited to take a trip together. Once we got there, we rented a car and drove down every street we could find, looking for fun things to see and photograph. Our kids, Kareem and Angel, played games in the back seat to see who could see things first or find the most of different objects. As soon as we got home, we all sat around the table to compare pictures and tell our favorite memories. We had a great time! Now we have to get ready for bounce houses clarence next week.

Best of luck,

RenatoBrennan

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