Blogging about homesteading wasn’t what I expected it to be! After two years, the only thing I know for sure is that I’ve learned a lot!
Two years ago, I hit “publish” on the blog that you are reading today. I was exhilarated and terrified all at the same time. Most of all, I had no idea what I was doing! While I had a little background in blogging and websites on a purely hobby level, this was a big leap into the unknown! This was also about the same time that I hit “publish” on our homestead and jumped into this strange and wonderful new life. The two seemed to go perfectly hand-in-hand, so it only made sense that I would blog about homesteading.
Why I started blogging:
I’m going to be completely honest with you: my intentions in starting the blog were largely driven by money.
Yup. I got sucked in by the “Quit your job and blog for a living” headlines. I read constantly for almost a year about how to make money from a blog before I started. Frankly, it all sounded a bit too good to be true, but I didn’t care. At the time, I was in a job that didn’t fulfill me and I was looking for an out.
In a similar way, I also jumped into homesteading as a form of escape. I wanted out of the rat race. I was convinced that homesteading and blogging were the answers to my problems. I published the blog about 6 months after we put a “For Sale” sign in the yard of our suburban home and moved to a larger country property.
I hoping that we’d be “living the dream” within months.
Yeah… that didn’t work out.
The beginning 6-8 months of the blog were far from paradise. I spent a lot of time wrapped up in my own mind, worried about everything that I wasn’t: I wasn’t an expert, I wasn’t an author, I didn’t have credentials of any kind. So why on earth would someone want to pay me to learn about homesteading? I worried about my SEO rankings and my page views. I felt uninspired and couldn’t come up with topics to write about.
Blogging is a lot of work! There are about a million tiny details that have to be completed for each and every post. There’s also the site to maintain, social media channels to post on and newsletters to send out on a regular basis so that your readers don’t forget who the heck you are. Oh, and you have to create valuable and truly helpful content if you actually want those readers to stick around. Everything about blogging requires a good amount of time, creativity and emotion.
The other big problem that I was experiencing is that I was getting blogging advice from bloggers whose primary focus was to make money. During this time (and still currently) most of the blogging advice came from bloggers who blog about making money by blogging to teach other bloggers how to make money by blogging. Huh?! These are people who have probably never even touched a chicken in real life! I was listening to people who were totally un-relatable to me and the entire purpose of my blog!
Similarly, we had no idea what we were doing as homesteaders. We grew up in the country and have professional and educational backgrounds in caring for animals, but a lot of things were completely new to us! It was hard. Trees and plants died. Animals died. And that bramble bush from hell just kept growing back! We struggled to balance the homestead and work full-time. We also had no support system. At the time, “Homesteading” was still a very foreign term to most and there weren’t as many resources as there are now.
I was burning out quickly.
And then, I almost quit writing the blog.
Why? Because blogging for money wasn’t fun. I was burned out on blogging and I was starting to feel like a homesteading failure as well.
But then, something wonderful happened: I fell in love with my readers.
A few readers reached out to me and genuinely thanked me. ME. The person who thought I was doing everything wrong! I was so taken aback! How could anyone like the blog?! I didn’t even like the blog at the time! That’s when it all started to click: the money (or lack of money) didn’t make the blog successful or unsuccessful.
I was helping people!
The feeling of elation I got from that realization changed everything. And, slowly, I began to fall back in love with blogging. And homesteading.
I switched my focus from making money to making friends and supporting others. I stopped focusing on page views and instead started focusing on conversations. I gave up trying to be an expert (thank God!) and just started genuinely sharing my story in hopes that it would help someone, somewhere.
Most importantly, I stopped reading blogging advice from the so-called “experts” and started doing it my own way instead. And I decided that if I’m going to make money blogging someday, I’m going to do that on my own terms, too!
Speaking of money: Blogging is a moderately expensive hobby. There’s hosting fees, fees for your mailing list, fees for your email address, etc. I make a little bit of money here and there through affiliate links, but it is no where near what I pay each month in blog operating costs. I would love if the blog could at least pay for itself (which is my goal for this year). That way, the money that I usually budget for the blog can be used for our homesteading projects instead. Or I could use it to buy more goats…. because that’s probably what will happen anyway! 😉
Could someone set up a blog and have it start generating money within a couple of months? Absolutely! And people do it all the time. But that method didn’t work for me.
Homesteading is the same way. You can’t rush it or do it to be a huge success or to make a lot of money. In fact, you’ll probably end up investing more than you ever re-coup. Could you set up a homestead and have it start generating an income right away? Yep. But you have to be very careful that you don’t forget to nurture the earth and yourself in the process or a burn-out will be inevitable.
I do believe that there are a lot of opportunities to profit from blogging. But I don’t think it happens in the way that most people think that it happens. Blogging takes time. It’s not a get rich quick business. Laying a proper foundation, building an audience and connecting with readers takes time. It also takes time to figure out what the heck you’re doing as a blogger and to develop your unique style and niche.
The blog has allowed me to have some amazing opportunities, though! I am now a contributor on two Mother Earth News sister-sites (Community Chickens and Homestead Hustle), and my chicken coop was recently featured in Country Sampler Magazine.
Someday I want to write a couple of books, and I finally feel confident that this could be a reality because of my experience and the connections I’ve built while blogging. These are opportunities that I wouldn’t have had without the blog. Most of all, blogging brings amazing people into my life from all around the world – people that I get to learn from and learn with!
Just like my blog, my homestead is nowhere near the level that I want it to be yet. It’s not as big or polished as what I dream about. I have big dreams, but it takes a lot of work and time to get there… both with the blog and the homestead. Along the way, I’m finding that it allows me to have opportunities and experiences that I wouldn’t have had without it.
Blogging and homesteading are a lot alike.
They’re both a lot of work… a labor of love. They’re passion projects… not money projects. The “growth phase” for both projects is never ending.
In the same way that I wasn’t failing as a blogger because my site didn’t generate 6 figures in 6 months, I’m not a failing as a homesteader because we weren’t off-grid, growing all our own food within a couple years. And the same thing applies to you!
Whether it’s homesteading or blogging, you have to do it in your own way and you have to make it your own to find the beauty in it. And you can’t do it alone – we need each other! We need our community in order to be inspired and supported, whether that community is a neighbor or someone halfway across the world.
So why did I keep blogging?
For all the same reasons that I keep homesteading.