On February 18, my blog officially turned 3! It’s hard to believe that three years have passed since I hit publish on my very first post here on Palmettos & Pineapples. In honor of my 3rd blogging anniversary, today I’m reflecting on the past year of blogging and sharing some goals for the year to come.
Year 3 Blogging Highlights and Accomplishments
The third year of Palmettos & Pineapples brought new brand collaborations, website updates, an email list, and some unusual circumstances.
Vera Bradley Disney Collaboration
In August 2020, I had the privilege to help Vera Bradley launch their Mickey’s Sweet Treats Disney print collection. While I love all things Disney, this particular Vera Bradley Disney print was an especially great fit because it features Mickey ice cream bars! This was a cool opportunity because I got to see a preview of all the items that would be available in the new collection. I got to pick out two items for Vera Bradley to gift me. The gifted items arrived at my place about a week before the collection launched to the public, and I had to keep them top secret. This definitely made me feel like I had insider status, which was a fun experience.
You can read more about my collaboration with Vera Bradley in this blog post.
Sarah Flint Brand Ambassador
Near the end of 2020, Sarah Flint, a designer shoe company, invited me to be a Brand Ambassador. Sarah Flint herself actually messaged me on Instagram, which was a big compliment and a lovely personal touch. Since Sarah Flint recruits Brand Ambassadors with classic, timeless style, I’m honored that they felt my personal brand on Instagram aligned with their company brand. Sarah Flint gifted me a pair of their gorgeous Natalie Flats to share with my audience. You can read more about the Sarah Flint brand, plus a review of my Natalie Flats and a discount code, in this post.
Not even a full month into the third year of Palmettos & Pineapples, things started to shut down due to the coronavirus pandemic. And even though places aren’t closed to the extent of last March-May, life is still extremely different. For the past 11 months, I’ve worked from home, and activities I used to attend weekly, like Bible study, have been on Zoom. Therefore, I’ve spent a lot less time out and about. In addition, I don’t have an “Instagram husband” or anyone continually on hand to take photos and I don’t have the budget to frequently hire a professional photographer. As a result, I simply haven’t had as many photo opportunities the past 11 months.
Nevertheless, I have still managed to consistently create content during the pandemic, and I’m extremely proud of this! Fortunately I had a decent library of photos taken pre-COVID that I could post, which is definitely an advantage of having classic style and consistent interests. In addition, I’ve definitely gotten additional practice with using my tripod.
In January 2021, I took a much needed social media hiatus for the second half of the month. However, I continued to work on blog stuff. During this period, I decided it was time of a new blog theme. Prior to this, I hadn’t updated my theme since about seven months into my first year of blogging. I’m super pleased with how my new theme (by Empress Themes) turned out. It was nice to have an upgrade shortly before my third blogging anniversary. You can read more about my new blog theme in my January Favorites post.
Started an Email List
Although my email list is still fairly smell, I’m proud that I took the step to further connect with my audience by starting an email list. I periodically send out emails with blog post round-ups and other bonus content. You can sign up here if you’re interested in being a Palmettos & Pineapples Insider.
Continuing to Show Up
Honestly, this is probably my biggest accomplishment form Year 3 of blogging. Over the past year there were multiple times where I felt burnt out and wondered if it was even worth my while to continue blogging. In addition to the challenges COVID presented, I struggled with feeling like I was lost and forgotten in a huge sea of influencers with more time and financial resources to devote to their blogs. There were days I felt like I was talking to a brick wall and wondered if anyone even cared about the content I was creating. Nevertheless, I continued to pick myself back up. I reminded myself that having a creative outlet for sharing my passions was my main reason for starting this blog. And if I’ve had a positive impact on even one person, then this whole endeavor is worthwhile.
Year 3 Blogging Lessons
I also want to note a couple lessons I’ve learned from the past year of blogging that particularly stick out to me:
I’m Not for Everyone, and That’s Okay.
Fortunately, the negative comments and non-constructive criticism I’ve gotten in three years of blogging have been few and far between. However, I’ve had a small number of blog-related encounters over the past year where people haven’t exactly been kind. While I’m not big enough to have a significant amount of haters, anyone who puts themselves out there on the Internet with a public platform risks dealing with unkind criticism or troll comments. In addition, I lost a bunch of followers on Instagram when I spoke out about not liking dogs, particularly aggressive mixed breed dogs, due to bad experiences. (Like, I literally got chased by one once and thought it was going to attack me).
Rather than letting these negative experiences get me down, I reminded myself that I’m not for everyone, and that’s okay. The people who are truly my people won’t criticize me with mean-spirited intentions. (Note that constructive criticism coming from a place of speaking the truth in love is completely different.) Furthermore, my people will accept me for who I am, even if they don’t agree with me about everything. For instance, when I went on my anti-dog rant, I had multiple people message me and say that although they were dog lovers, they understood where I was coming from. That meant so much to me!
I’ve realized that the people who support me and are truly in my corner far outnumber the critics. And I won’t let the possibility of hurtful criticism keep me from using my platform to have a positive influence. As Dabo Swinney said, “one of the best lessons I’ve learned is that you don’t worry about criticism from people that you wouldn’t seek advice from.”
Perseverance Is Key
Blogging is definitely a labor of love in the early years. It’s a lot of work for not much financial profit. To be honest, Year 3 is a weird point in blogging. You’re not new anymore, but you also haven’t been around to build an audience and personal brand loyalty as long as many other bloggers. Therefore, it was really easy for me to fall into the trap of feeling like a failure because neither my audience nor my profit margin was where I envisioned it would be at this point. I frequently compared myself to other bloggers.
Despite these frustrations, I persevered, and I’m glad I did. I reminded myself that blogging success isn’t only measured in dollars or Instagram followers. As I mentioned earlier, the ability to positively influence even one person makes the blogging journey worthwhile. A couple months ago I had someone message me that my vulnerability encouraged them to go public with their mental health struggles. Messages like that remind me why I continue to show up!
In addition, I have to remember that there are multiple benchmarks for growth. Just because I’m struggling to grow in one area doesn’t mean I’m not growing in other areas. For instance, my Instagram following has remained essentially the same for over two years. However, my monthly blog page views have steadily increased. Furthermore, everyone’s journey is different and I can’t compare myself to other bloggers.
Finally, without perseverance there’s no way to even know what growth is possible! My best friend took the photo below less than two weeks after I started blogging. Even though I may not be quite where I would like to be in my blogging journey, I’ve still accomplished more than I could have envisioned in those early days!
Looking Ahead to Year 4
As I look ahead to the next year of blogging, here are some specific goals I have:
Get my first paid collaboration.
While the most rewarding aspect of blogging is being able to encourage others, I’m still transparent about my desire to create an additional stream of income through writing and sharing my passions. I’ve been able to make money via affiliate links, but I don’t quite have the traffic or conversion rate to make this a steady and consistent source of income. Plus I have to account for blogging expenses like website hosting, email marketing subscription, etc before income becomes a profit. (Side note: If you’ve ever purchased anything through any links on my blog, THANK YOU!)
Though I’m thankful that I’ve had the chance to collaborate with some amazing brands for gifted product, I want to start scoring some paid brand collaborations as well. Through talking with some more experienced bloggers, I’ve realized that I do have enough followers to pitch myself.
In addition, paid brand collaborations can be a more lucrative source of income than affiliate links. A lot of time and energy goes into writing a blog post. When I write a blog post with affiliate links, I only get paid if someone makes a purchase through that link. With a paid brand collaboration, a brand would pay me for simply exposing and promoting their product to my audience.
People typically require multiple exposures to a product before making a purchase. Therefore, brands still see value in paying bloggers to share their products, even without knowing how many customers will directly result from one post. Think of a sponsored blog post or Instagram post as the Internet/social media equivalent of a TV commercial or newspaper ad.
Continue to grow my monthly blog views
The Instagram algorithm makes it extremely difficult to grow if you don’t participate in massive loop giveaways, buy ads to promote your account, or have hours to spend organically engaging on Instagram each day. Therefore, I’ve been focusing more on growing my monthly blog traffic. I plan to continue this over the next year. Search Engine Optimization (SEO) strategies help some of my blog posts appear on the first page of Google for certain keywords. I intend to continue learning SEO to help my blog posts rank well in Google. In addition, I’m trying to better utilize Pinterest to grow my blog traffic. (If you aren’t already following me on Pinterest, you can check me out here.)
Another reason I pride myself on focusing on blog traffic is that I actually own my blog domain. In contrast, I don’t own Instagram or any other social media platform. Aside from what I decide to post, I have zero control over what happens on social media platforms. Instagram could disappear for good one day, but my blog is here as long as I continue to pay for my domain and web hosting fees.
Building relationships with my audience.
I truly believe that quality is more important than quantity in terms of Instagram followers. Sure, it would be nice to get to 10K followers on Instagram so that I can have the swipe-up feature on stories. However, having a small but engaged audience beats having a large following that never interacts with any of your content. I’ve realized that if I obsess too much about growing my Instagram following, then I miss out on opportunities to cultivate relationships with the followers I DO have. Over the past year, I feel like I’ve grown some deeper relationships with some of my Instagram followers, and I want to do more of that over the coming year. While social media friends aren’t a substitute for offline friends, I do deeply value the connections I’ve made through Palmettos & Pineapples.
If you aren’t already following me on Instagram, you may do so here.
Cheers to Another Year!
Hope you enjoyed my reflections on the third year of blogging. Whether you’re an original follower or just joined along over the past year, thanks so much for your support, whether it’s engaging with my Instagram posts, reading my blog posts, or shopping thru my links.
Here’s to see what the Lord has in store for Year 4 of Palmettos & Pineapples. Hopefully that will include taking more pics out and about again!