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the changing business of a blog…

Oh Joy Studio

Oh Joy Studio

I've recently spoken at a couple conferences, and as a blogger for almost nine years (say what?!?), I often get asked what's different about blogging now than when I started. It's crazy to think about how much things have changed since I started in 2005. Every blogger does things differently, so I wanted to chat about how things have changed for me over the years.

When I started my blog, it was a hobby (as it was for most back then). This was before there were "professional bloggers", before anyone called people "tastemakers", and before people started blogging with the intention of making any money. Just like a lot of the earlier bloggers, turning this site into part of my job happened unintentionally, but it's something that changed the course of my career and my life for the better.

Oh Joy Studio

Here are a few things that have changed for me about blogging over the past nine years…


1. Content and Schedule—For many years, I had a staff of contributors. We posted three times a day with a very regular "editorial calendar". It was amazing for a very long time and perfect for what my blog was then. But I chose to go back to posting less and back to posting from solely my own voice a couple years ago. I still have help from my team or from freelancers to photograph, style, video, and help make content come together, but every post comes from my voice and with my involvement. Most posts still go up every morning at the same time, but every so often a post goes up later or I miss a day. While I still do my best to come up with new and creative content, there are some days where my computer has crashed, my brain is fried, or I am simply exhausted by a tough day. It happens, I feel guilty about it, but I try to remember I that am human and give myself a little bit of slack. While I still post a mix of content about my favorite topics, now I mix up the content more and don't necessarily have set days for when certain topics go up. It's a bit more random, but I like it that way. It's like a box of chocolates, you never know what you're gonna get.

2. Advertising—In the past, the primary way that bloggers made money was through banner ads. It's something I talk about in my book, Blog, Inc. as a way to begin earning income on a blog. My site turned into a for-profit blog within two years of starting it, and while ads sustained my site for many years, this past year I've mostly done away with banner ads. I have a couple left on the site that will soon go away completely. I can only speak for myself, but I find that it's much more interesting for me to work with companies directly on sponsored content that allows me to create a DIY project, a recipe, or a video than to have a lot of ads on my site. When creating sponsored content, I only accept projects that I would do anyway and that give me a lot of creative freedom to share my ideas in a better and stronger way than I could have on my own without any funding. I turn down anything that feels too sales-y or is a product or brand I would never use (and many bloggers, including myself, turn down way more things than we actually say yes to). It's fun to see that some of my favorite sponsored posts have been some reader favorites, too. While my blog is still one part of my business (I also design products and write books), the way I go about that area of Oh Joy has definitely changed the most.

3. Interaction—For a long time, the blog was king. It was the go-to place for my readers to follow along. But now that more people are using the Internet on their mobile phone, I find myself being very active on Instagram, Pinterest, Facebook, and it's why I helped to start Pippit. It some ways it's harder these days—having to put yourself and your work on so many platforms. But at the same time, it's a fun challenge to figure out how to share a story on different sites in the different ways that make the most sense for each platform.

4. The Challenge—To be honest, blogging is way harder now than it used to be. There are more blogs, more people creating amazing content, and more voices to be stand out and be heard. It's a constant challenge to come up with new ideas, interesting things to say, and try to maintain a site that people want to keep visiting. But I find the challenge to be good for me as it constantly makes me think about what I'd want to read and see myself and ways to try new things that I never thought I'd do.

Oh Joy Studio

Blogging has definitely changed, but it's surely not going away anytime soon. If you're a newbie blogger feeling intimidated about entering the world of blogging, I just have to say to keep pushing forward, keep trying new things, and be adaptable to the way that social media is ever-changing.

Blogging still gives anyone a voice to share your talents and your vision with the world. Anyone can do it if you are willing to put in the time and effort it takes to create great content and put yourself out there. It's one of the best things I've ever done by guiding my career in a whole new direction and allowing me to accomplish goals I never thought possible. Plus, it gives me a chance to talk to my amazing readers, people that I'll never get to meet but who impact my life more than they'll ever know.

{Photos above by Zeke Ruelas from my studio design by Emily Henderson}

124 comments

  1. Thanks for such an honest post Joy, I love reading your blog and have been following for the past few years. It’s been amazing seeing how much it’s grown and evolved, can’t wait to see how the next nine years go! Your blog is such an inspiration, keep it up!! x Helen

  2. It’s amazing to know how much blogging has changed. I’ve only been blogging for about 3 1/2 years now and just in that time, I’ve seen sooo many new bloggers and it’s incredible. I love hearing your perspective. (Also, Blog Inc. was the book I purchased when I first started blogging to help me pave the way. I didn’t even know who you were at the time!)
    xoxo
    Taylor

  3. I’ve been a reader for the past four years, and I can definitely say your blog has changed over the years but always for the better! I love your blog for the content, but I also keep reading because you adapt over time. Thanks for the countless tips and insight over the years. Best xo, Em

  4. Great post! I have always enjoyed your blog and can so relate to your feeling on banner ads and having your voice in each and every post. It’s good to get back to why you started blogging in the first place. I enjoy seeing how Oh Joy continues to grow and change. Cheers!

  5. Captivating and inspiring post Joy! Thank you for sharing a little bit of your story and the evolution of your business. 🙂

  6. Great post, Joy! This is very helpful and insightful for bloggers and readers alike, I think. I’ve been blogging for a little over a year now, and it’s been a challenging but rewarding experience. Thanks for the inspiration!

  7. this is exactly what i needed to hear this morning!
    i’m a new blogger and i’m LOVING it, but sometimes i get down on myself for not doing exactly what i set out to do. this post is a good reminder that your blog can be an evolution, that it can change and grow with you. and that’s not wrong – it’s just life!
    thanks for the inspiration!

  8. ha! i just commented basically the same thing you did. so i clicked on your name and checked out your site – it’s adorable! and so well organized! nice work. good luck to you! :o)

  9. I totally agree. Blogging is super saturated that there is pressure to always bring your A game to the table. For me that means sharing content that I truly love, no BLURRY photos and just a genuine and authentic voice.
    The one thing I’ve noticed that has slowly changed is that brands are more open to working with bloggers on sponsored campaigns. In the beginning it was tough, not many people understood the ROI – but now I feel like everyone gets it. At the same time, I still get brands who ask me to create posts for free in exchange for traffic (it rarely works) as part of an ‘elite group of bloggers’ and these I definitely turn down!
    Thanks for the great post Joy 🙂

  10. Joy, this was really interesting! I learned a lot. Thanks for thinking to share these things. Your gut feeling has always been smart!

  11. I love that you blog. You have always been an inspiration to me. I read your book and it inspires me to keep going. Thank you for always being fresh and a positive light.
    xoxo
    Allison over at Allison’s Eye

  12. As a new blogger in Canada, this is exactly what I needed to read. It’s easy to get discouraged and forget why you began blogging in the first place. Thanks Joy!
    Keep it up new bloggers! I’ll try my best too 😉

  13. This is such great insight. I’m a new blogger as well, and I love your emphasis on being “you”, rather than forcing something that may not feel right. Your positive attitude is such an inspiration!

  14. You’re right on when you say the landscape has totally changed in terms of advertising and voices. I ended up evolving my entertaining and home decor blog (about 4 year old with a decent following) into a product line because I just felt so frustrated with trying to chase sponsored post opportunities that felt right for me and my brand. Most of the stuff coming my way would have meant great revenue, but wasn’t stuff I would personally use, so I didn’t feel right endorsing it or including it in a shoot or project. For me, my priorities were to stay true to my brand and to be able to make a decent hourly wage for all the time I was putting into it, which just wasn’t happening because there was so much competition for those ad dollars that WOULD have worked for me. I made the decision to stop blogging and start turning that blog aesthetic into a line of designer party goods and office supplies, and I’m honestly glad I did. It’s been really refreshing to explore other areas of my creativity. I’ve loved being a curator, but the pressures on a blogger these days are no joke! Kudos for making it work for you – I know how tough it is, especially when you’ve made the decision to be personally involved with everything that’s produced on Oh Joy!

  15. You’re such a kind person on the inside that no matter what you post, it’s always coming from such a true and wonderful place. Always have loved your blog because of this 🙂 xo

  16. Spot on post, Joy!
    I’ve found that staying true to myself and maintaining my integrity attracts & keeps readers. My most popular post wasn’t about a fancy trip I had taken or my new fave dress from Madewell, but instead offered some easy peasy tips on how to maintain a healthy marriage. People are definitely drawn to reality & truth.

  17. I’ve been following your blog since the very beginning (omg, 9 years, what in the…) and it’s been really fascinating to see it influence and be influenced by the changing online landscape.
    Bloggers, especially bloggers who are moms, need to have some thick skin. There are so many hateful crazies out there. I had a blog in 2005, too, and I couldn’t handle the growing audience of strangers, especially since the blog was really designed just for my friends. People treat bloggers like celebrities now and I think there’s some inherent danger in that.

  18. Thank you for the updates, Joy! Blogging sure has changed a lot. Bloggers, and readers, have to be flexible and adaptive to the changes in order to keep up. In regards to the number of posts, I actually appreciate bloggers who’ve scaled back to focus on quality rather than quantity. There are so many wonderful blogs out there that it’s hard to keep up with all of them!

  19. Thanks for always keeping it so real, Joy. I started blogging just under a year ago mostly to help me stay on top of products and trends for my freelancing career. But between freelancing and another job I started, the blog often falls by the wayside and I have such guilty feelings on days I don’t post. As I navigate it all, it helps to know that even someone who’s been doing it as long as you feels the same way sometimes. Wishing you many more successful years!

  20. Joy, I have only been reading your blog for over a year now but I love it. You are on my must read list when I sit down to visit my fav blogs in their corners of the internet. I agree with your point about social media, it is an enjoyable challenge to interact and share content on the various social media platforms in ways that are specifically great for that platform and audience.
    As a newbie blogger myself and also a full time marketer, I am inspired by your ability to continue to successfully evolve your content, and approach to connecting with your audience, to thrive in the changing environment of the way people use the internet, absorb content, make purchases and create relationships. In addition to being adaptable, I think we also need to be hungry to discover new ways of communicating and staying on top of the technology and tools available to us.

  21. Thanks so much for this, Joy. As someone who has reached a road block in my blogging (January will make it 5 years), this is exactly what I needed to hear from someone who’s done it better and more successfully. I agree – social media has made it more challenging but yet more engaging. It certainly has helped my blog. Ads can also be a pain, but being able to say no and still create a stream of income through sponsored posts that you actually want to create is a blessing. Thanks for the refresher.

  22. Love this post, Joy. I love the authenticity you always bring to your blog. I only started following along with blogs this past year. Your book, Blog, Inc. is one of my biggest inspirations to get started on this blogging adventure. You have a blog subscriber for life. Thank you for always being so positive and real!

  23. Thank you for such an open and honest post. I just started my own blog recently and am reading your book as we speak. Its such a positive and helpful resource! Its very inspiring to learn how you’ve started and grown too. Thank you for being such a positive inspiration and role model for many of us. Love reading your blog 🙂

  24. Joy: I really appreciate your candid insights. I agree that it’s challenging more than ever but isn’t that where innovation occurs? Love that you’re open to being experimental but also staying true to you.

  25. Joy, I’ve been with you since the “I Heart Bob” birthday wrapping paper! It’s been amazing to see your life change and progress. Thanks for letting me be a part of the ride!

  26. Oh, Joy!
    Much like you, I’ve been a blogger for so long, it now seems (1) the natural thing to do and (2) the most stressful, craziest career choice ever. I’ve read your story with hungry eyes and hopeful heart as I’ve been errant, blindfolding mumbling in the blogosphere for over 12 months now. since… well, since blogging changed.
    like: I woke up one morning and… it just wasn’t the same. Nothing was the same anymore!
    I’m honestly thankful for your stories (about pro blogging). I know, I read, and this is not the only one. But I read each like it was the first. The only. The sole hope. – this is what I’m thanking you for: for HOPE, oh, Hope!
    hope that I will (we will, all those who wonder, lost, like me), find my way.
    and it’s crazy – because I feel like I’m in front of a concealed door. I know it’s there, right in front of me: the door to ‘my way’ but… can’t see it. Can’t see which is it in this blog-maze!
    Oh, Help me!
    thank you, again!

  27. I really liked this post! And am going to go on a hunt for your book. Thank you for the inspiring words & content 🙂
    Dakota Barber
    stateandoccupation.com

  28. Thanks for this, Joy. My husband and I are in the middle of your book and are really enjoying it. Here’s to starting a blog!

  29. Such a great and honest post. There are some days when I am so excited about having a blog I cannot sit still. And then there are days/ weeks when I think “what was I thinking? I don’t want to post today- or ever again!” But there are more excited days than not, so I’ll take that as good sign 😉
    I will never be a daily poster. The most I manage is 4x a week (though not lately as I redo my site). i have found that writing and scheduling my posts one week ahead of time to be a HUGE benefit. I am not a naturally organised person and I hate those days when I hit submit at 3 am (with a baby and a 4 year old, this is not helping my efforts at getting some sleep).
    I like to print out a monthly calendar and jot down some post ideas (colour coded by category and numbered by effort). This is something I feel will keep me posting more consistently.
    xx Katerina http://lexandliv.com

  30. Really interesting thoughts Joy… you are such a great blogger and I’m totally inspired by what you do!
    x Lily
    whilemyboyfriendsaway.blogspot.com

  31. i have to agree with you that the ads on blogs are making blogs less personal these days. I guess blogs have turned into another platform for businesses to advertise. In school recently, I was taught to post things on social media consistently, but I really agree with you that.. it’s so hard to do that!! i am about to launch an online business on my own. I just don’t know how to handle with social media and along with the business itself.. I wonder how you do such a good job of everything and you have a daughter to take care of and baby no.2 is on her way! You are my idol Joy! i love your work!

  32. It’s funny because last night I wrote down a list of reasons why I want to blog and why I want to enter in this ever changing social media market. I have started blogging around 2000 as well, more for myself, and I have stopped. Now, blogging is very popular and people have these amazing ideas and it inspires me, but at the same time I feel intimidated. What if I can’t keep up, or what if I’m not as talented as I thought. But this post motivated me very much. Thank you very much. And I hope you will continue to keep blogging because I enjoy reading them very much!

  33. Thanks for writing this, Joy.
    I honestly admire and love how you’ve continued to re-invent this blog to match the stage of life you’re at.
    Ronnie xo

  34. You are so inspiring! I am new in the blogging world, in August it will be my first year but I strongly hope to have a future like your amazing today! I’ll be in LA next week it would be so cool meet you!!
    Thank you again!
    Alessandra
    http://gucki.it

  35. As always, your words are priceless! I just bought your book Blog, Inc. and cannot wait to dive in. I love that you love to blog and your willingness to share your knowledge. That is one thing I love about the blogging community is everyone is so helpful and not out to compete but to build each other up. Thank you!

  36. HI Joy,
    thanks for this useful post. i just finished your book and it was so helpful for my blog. Thanks so much to share that with the community.

  37. Thanks much for sharing. Your insights are very helpful to a new blogger and I can’t wait to see the various ways that your blog continues to evolve.

  38. Excellent post, Joy! I found what you said about advertising particularly interesting. There seem to be a lot of bloggers copping flack from their followers for making money from blogging so it’s refreshing to hear that Oh Joy readers have embraced sponsored content. Maybe you’re just particularly talented at crafting it.

  39. Hi Diana,
    Thanks for your comment! I, too, get my share of flack for having a for-profit blog, but luckily it is fewer and far between. There will always be some who dont think bloggers should earn income off the work they do, but I think that more and more people are realizing that its also become a career for many bloggers. Its pretty awesome to get to do something so creative for a living and do what you love, so hopefully more people will be open to seeing it in that way.
    Best!
    Joy

  40. Great post, Joy! As an avid blog reader, I don’t see the problem with bloggers making money from doing what they’re doing, and that is providing us fans with such great content. It takes so much work and time, so why wouldn’t you? Anyway, your blog is truly one of my very top favorites, and I wish you all the best! Keep it up 🙂

  41. That’s an interesting post and I enjoyed it. I think it’s very insightful as well as helpful for many bloggers as well as students pursuing marketing courses should also read this as it can help them in their planning for web based marketing.

  42. Jumping for joy over that rug in the first picture! Where can I get it? PS congrats on the little one on the way. Can’t wait to find out her name!

  43. I’m about halfway through your keynote speech and it’s super inspirational for me. I’ve only been blogging for a few months now but I’m getting more and more creative and serious and it’s so nice to know that all of the success you’ve won came from a very organic place. I also really love how you cold called companies for jobs– it takes guts and I think I might just do it once I’m done with my degree in fashion merch! 🙂 Thanks, Joy!

  44. I recently had the pleasure of attending the Las Vegas Market presentation in person, I can’t thank you enough for taking the time to speak with us, answering our questions and guiding us on to our next step. I did purchase your new Blog inc, book and am sure it’s going to answer all my question .
    Thank you for being so honest and humble.
    – Manisha @ http://warehousestudiochicago.com

  45. Change is good! The business of blogging will change a lot, especially since it’s still so new, relatively speaking. All of us entrepreneurs have to change and evolve with the business.

  46. Thank you so much for this post! I love your honesty, and guidance for new bloggers. I started mine close to 3 years ago now, and mainly just as a hobby – but was surprised to have some connection with readers! I guess that’s why it can get so addictive 🙂

  47. Thank you! This post not only gave me some great information but also encouragement which is what I really need right now. I was blogging a couple of years back, just getting back into it & I’m completely intimidated by it! Thank you for the kind words.

  48. I have read many blog posts but you are the best one New year love quotes.Your way of writing and the flow of your words is awesome. I really enjoyed reading your post. Thanks for sharing this amazing blog with us.

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