I’ve been blogging since May of 2007, which is like “dog years” in the blogging world. It’s part hobby/part business for me, but in many ways, it’s the best hobby ever! While it is a LOT of work, obviously, I enjoy it very much. It has opened up a whole new world of opportunities for me.
Besides Being the Best Hobby, It’s My Idea Platform
One nice thing about blogging is that it gives me a platform to share all these great ideas floating around in my head. I think that is something unique to me – I always think there is a better way to do almost anything. In an earlier life, I think I would have been one of those efficiency experts.
The very first thing I do when I am on a new job or take on a new assignment is to start looking for ways to optimize things. I’m never satisfied until I’ve found the MOST efficient way to do things. I would probably explode if I wasn’t allowed to do that. But there’s only so much you can do at work or in your own home, so I have a platform to share all these great ideas and tips to help other people with their blogs as well as my own.
Blogging is a Great Way to Develop Friendships
I honestly think the friendships are the best part of it. Because I’ve been to so many different conferences (I’ll do a separate section just on conferences). I’ve made friends with literally hundreds of different bloggers – large and small. They are a huge help to me, both personally and professionally. I also participate in lots of Facebook groups so that’s a great way to build relationships also. See my post on How to Participate in Facebook Groups.
Most of them are real-life friends, but some of them are virtual friends that I’ve only met online. But it’s funny, how the line wavers back and forth between online and real life friendships. I have many folks that I’ve met online and then I’ll get together with them in real life. We’ve gone on trips, or worked on projects or events together. I’ve even appeared on TV with a few of them, You just never know if an online friendship can blossom into someone becoming a close and dear friend.
Blogging Can Open Doors to Unexpected Opportunities
Being a blogger can open the door to some unexpected opportunities, both paid and unpaid. I used to do a lot of sponsored posts where you can post about various products, either for money or for free products. I haven’t done sponsored posts in a while because I’ve been making money in other ways, but a lot of bloggers make a full time living this way.
There’s also affiliate opportunities, which have been much more lucrative for me. You develop relationships with brands and then you share unique links for them and you get a percentage of the sales. Sometimes you write posts, sometimes you just put them into your social media. It’s definitely work, but it’s a good income stream.
But I’ve also had the opportunity to be on several times, helping blogger friends out with projects or promotions. I’ve even been a model in a fashion show (that was an unexpected treat). I’ve gotten to help out with some charities. And I’ve been to lots of fun parties and other events for various sponsors, which is a great way to enjoy time with my blogger peeps and put together collaborations with them.
I’ve also gotten to go a ton of different places – usually for free or at a greatly reduced price (see swag section), including an all-expenses paid trip to Washington DC where I was helping with a charity. I met the Governor’s wife at a fancy luncheon a while back. I just missed out on a chance to be in a music video with Alex Boye because I had to work.
I’ve also been offered numerous opportunities to Nigeria, Uganda, South America, and other places. They want to get bloggers on the ground to report on difficult situations. A lot of my friends have gone on these types of trips and I’m always so envious. They are memorable trips. But I like comfortable beds and indoor plumbing, so I say no, or just don’t apply for them. Just the words “squatty potty” sends me running for cover. But I know I am missing out on some life-changing experiences.
I did go on one blogger cruise in 2015 that was completely awesome. A cruise is more my speed than going out in the bush. I went with the Six Sisters of Six Sister’s Stuff and their families and also fashion expert Alicia Richmond from Chic on a Shoestring. I had to pay my own way, but I learned so much from all the blogging experts who put on the cruise, so it was absolutely worth it. I’m hoping to go on another some day. Those opportunities would not have been on my radar if I had not been a blogger.
Blog Conferences are my Favorite Networking Activities
I’ve been to so many blog conferences that I wanted to set up an entire tab for them. Check it out HERE for lists of conferences, what to pack, how to network, etc. I’ve been to more than a dozen of them and I try to go to one or two each year.
They are a great opportunity to learn a ton of great stuff about the art and business side of blogging. But it’s also a great time to just hang out with your blogger buddies and have fun. And get spoiled a bit – they always have great entertainment, wonderful speakers, and terrific food. Usually, you come out of it with some new connections with brands, also a LOT of free swag (usually), and a whole new outlook on your blogging life.
One thing I like about blog conferences is that they are very democratic. I’ve gotten to be friends with some of the hugely popular bloggers, as well as lots of beginning bloggers and everyone in between. And even though I’m definitely small potatoes, I’ve never once had someone be snotty or dismissive of me. Everyone has always been very friendly and welcoming. They are always happy to help or answer your questions.
Swag – Bloggers Get a LOT of Free Stuff – That Makes for a Good Hobby!
OK, speaking of swag. I would be a bit of a hypocrite if I didn’t talk about the free swag that comes along with blogging. I’m like anyone else – I LIKE getting free stuff. And there’s usually a lot of it at any blogger event. There are always swag bags with all sorts of sample products. There’s almost always some kind of drawing or raffle or contest for nicer products (I never win – dang it!). A lot of times, the event itself is a nice freebie that non-bloggers would pay a lot of money to do.
I can’t even count all the stuff I’ve gotten over the years – some of it is pretty awesome and some not so much. I’ve gotten free cosmetics, clothes, purses, memberships, craft supplies, T-shirts, bags, meals, car washes, but I’ve also gotten duct tape, bow makers, cookies, hair cuts, just whatever they’ve got. Some of the big name bloggers with tons of traffic and followers get the really good stuff – large appliances, the use of cars for a few weeks, furniture, designer clothes, etc.
You Get a Chance to Make a Difference
This is one of my favorite aspects of blogging. Frequently, I’m able to help out the causes I like. I wrote a post recently about my 100th microloan with Kiva. I write regularly for the BSA – both as a paid and unpaid writer – I am a regular contributor for the Voice of Scouting blog and the UtahScouts blog. I did some work with Shot@Life – who are the ones who brought me to Washington (on Bill Gate’s dime!) and I did quite a bit of work for them. Charity and volunteerism are both things that are a big part of my life, so I try to reflect that in my blog.
These are the things that make blogging the best hobby ever. If you’re reading this, you are probably a blogger too – what do you love most about blogging?