October 26, 2016  

My Blogging Journey: Pivotal Moments During The Past Three Years

October is a very special month for me because it is my blog-iversary! I hit publish on my first blog post three years ago, back when I was just looking for a place to write and share my thoughts.

I remember mentioning the idea of starting a blog to David when we were on a long car ride. The idea had been floating around in my head for a while at that point, but it was only when I said the words out loud that I started thinking very seriously about it. I was nervous to even suggest the idea of blogging to anyone, even my own husband. After all, who would really want to read what I wrote? And what would I write about?

I am the girl who is always full of ideas, so I’m not sure this particular idea was all that much of a surprise to David. We discussed it a bit on our drive, and I couldn’t get the idea our of my head after that.

I spent the following week obsessing over it. I had blogged off and on a bit before, but I wanted this blog to be different. I spent every evening after work brainstorming topic ideas and blog names. I filled pages and pages of notebooks with my thoughts – my brain was on overdrive, to the point where I would be lying in bed at 3 a.m. scribbling ideas into my notebook. Something in me knew that this blog was going to be special, but I had no idea what it would become or that I’d even still be blogging three years later.

I love learning about how people start their blogs! This girl started out not knowing anything about blogging. Time to start that blog I've been thinking about!

This post contains affiliate links for your convenience. All opinions of insanely helpful blog resources are 100% my own. For more information, see my disclosure.

The Beginning

Because I’m multi-passionate, I had a very difficult time narrowing down topic ideas. I finally settled on three general topics that were all themed around the concept of small things being important. I set up a free blog and started writing about small towns, decorating our small apartment and a catch-all category that I termed “small moments that make life big.” I dreamed up the perfect name, The Small Stuff Counts, which encompassed my focus on small and also played on my last name, Counts. And that is how this blog was born.

I published the occasional blog post without any real rhyme or reason. If I had a free Saturday, I’d write about something on my mind. If I was feeling extra brave, I’d share a link on my personal Facebook page. But for the most part, I just kept my blog to myself.

And then I wrote a blog post that completely changed the trajectory of my blog. In mid-November of 2013, I published a blog post called 25 Signs You Grew Up In A Small Town. It was one of those Buzzfeed-style list posts. A few friends shared it, which was exciting–no one had done that before. And then I got an email from the Huffington Post asking if they could share it on their blog. I was blown away and quickly agreed. I was on a high that entire week as my blog post went viral. Blog comments poured in, and I got hundreds of subscribers to my blog’s RSS feed that week. I felt like I’d made the big leagues. I refreshed the WordPress app on my phone every few minutes to read the new comments, and the popularity of that one little blog post was overwhelming.

After the initial shock of that viral blog post set in, I realized I really knew nothing about blogging. I was getting heaps of traffic, but I barely had any content on my blog at that point. I felt like I should be capitalizing on all of those visitors, but I had no idea how. So I started researching blogging and found a few big bloggers that I began studying. I soon realized I had a lot to learn. This whole blogging business was a lot more sophisticated than I’d realized.

After Christmas 2013, that viral blog post died down and I was back to square one. Although that Huffington Post feature was incredible, I look back on it now and wish it wouldn’t have happened, at least not then. I wasn’t prepared for that influx of traffic in the least. There was no reason for those people to stay on my blog because I barely had anything else for them to read. I didn’t even have a Facebook page for my blog at the time, so there was no way for people to follow me. Those readers weren’t coming back because I didn’t know how to reach them. It was fun while it lasted, but when that traffic disappeared, I had nothing to show for it except one blog post with over three hundred comments.

I love learning about how people start their blogs! This girl started out not knowing anything about blogging. Time to start that blog I've been thinking about!

Catching The Blogging Bug

Although I now consider that viral blog post a missed opportunity, it was a catalyst for my long-term blog growth over the next three years. I caught the blogging bug during the excitement of that viral post and haven’t looked back since. I started learning as much about blogging as I could. I read blog post after blog post of tips.

I started to blog a bit more regularly and realized I loved to write about decorating and organizing the most. I narrowed my blog’s focus and cut out the small towns and small moments types of posts. I eventually landed on the three topics of home decor, DIY and organization, which is what I blog about today. I posted off and on that year and become a regular reader of several big blogs, which was a great education on how professional blogs operated.

About a year into blogging, I decided to get serious and make the transition to a self-hosted WordPress blog, where I could customize the design and potentially earn a few dollars from it down the road. I holed up in our apartment one snowy weekend, bought a cheap theme and taught myself how to set up hosting and transfer old blog posts to the new site. Although I miraculously managed to transfer all of my content, I had to let go of several hundred subscribers to my RSS feed–almost all from that one viral blog post. If there was a way to contact them or export that email list, I had no idea at the time. My research told me it was just a loss that came with the transition. Plus, I knew those people weren’t interested in my new, more focused topics. Just like most bloggers, I wish I would have invested in a self-hosted blog from the very beginning. I started year two of blogging almost from scratch, with a smattering of posts and zero subscribers.

Six months later, a big blogger I had been following released an ebook all about blogging. Abby’s book, Building A Framework: The Ultimate Blogging Handbook, was a complete impulse purchase. I had never bought an ebook before. At that point, the only money I’d spent on my blog was for hosting and a $40 theme. Little did I know, reading Abby’s book would become a pivotal moment in my blog’s growth.

I looked back to see when I purchased Building A Framework. It was June 15, 2015, which was only sixteen months ago. I had a few days off of work that week, and I used that time to read all 200+ pages of Abby’s book. Although I had been Googling blogging tips for a while at that point, her book was the first blogging education I paid for. It was at this point in my blogging journey when I really decided to jump in with both feet and began working like crazy to improve as a blogger.

Abby poured everything she knew about blogging into that book, and I was blown away by the amount of information. I was also excited about the potential of my blog. I could make money from this thing? People might actually follow me on Facebook? I needed long images for Pinterest? I had a lot of learning to do.

I started following Abby’s advice and strategies, and my blog quickly grew into a community where hundreds and then thousands of readers came each month.. Investing in Building A Framework changed the trajectory of my blog. Without it, I might still be blogging periodically because I love to write, but I would never have gotten to this point in my blogging journey. I simply had no idea what was possible.

I love learning about how people start their blogs! This girl started out not knowing anything about blogging. Time to start that blog I've been thinking about!

Finding Community

When I first hit publish, I was naive. I thought a blog was a place where I could share my pictures and thoughts, something I could do while hiding behind my computer screen. I may have come across a blog post here and there, but I had never even followed a blogger before I started blogging. Even though I felt like I had an awesome plan in the beginning, I had no real idea what this blogging thing was all about.

As I started taking blogging more seriously and focused on providing value in my posts, I realized how much I love to teach. I began writing blog posts with the mindset of being helpful to my readers, rather than simply sharing my projects. This mindset shift helped my blog begin to steadily grow, and I started to attract loyal readers. It was crazy to think that anyone wanted to learn from me and read what I wrote.

I began connecting with my readers through blog posts, social media, and my email newsletter. Getting to know them and hearing about their struggles fueled my desire to continue to grow this little blog of mine. I loved the fact that I was creating a community, and I was determined to keep growing it so I could help even more people. In fact, I received the loveliest comment from a reader just a few days ago:

[blockquote source=”Sarah”]Now I’m inspired! Thank you so much for this post and for writing this blog. Your planning methods and tips have been the only way that has EVER worked for me. I love you so much! And you have the same color tastes as me too which is so perfect! ? Happy fall![/blockquote]

Sarah’s comment made so happy and reminded me how blessed I am to have this blog community. It’s comments like hers that light me up and make blogging so rewarding. The more I began connecting with readers, the more energy I poured into this blog.

In addition to growing a community of readers, I started interacting with other bloggers, particularly through a Facebook group for people that had read Building A Framework. I began interacting with the group and we helped answer each other’s questions. I discovered other blogger Facebook groups and joined some of them, too. When I started this blog, I had no idea an entire community of bloggers existed out there in blogland. It was fascinating to me, and very exciting to connect with other bloggers.

Through participation in those groups, I began developing a network of blogger friends. For the first time in my life, I felt like I had found my people. I got to know other women who shared my passion for all things home and creativity. I met driven women with an entrepreneurial streak who were turning their hobby blogs into online businesses.

Last winter, I formed a small tribe of blogger friends that were in a similar place in their blogging journey. These ladies have quickly became good friends. We ask questions, confide in one another, promote each other’s work, and celebrate achievements. I’ve learned so much from each of them, and I’m grateful for finding this group of blog friends. Community is an incredible thing.

I love learning about how people start their blogs! This girl started out not knowing anything about blogging. Time to start that blog I've been thinking about!

Learning From The Experts

I caught the blogging bug three years ago, and it has only gotten stronger since. One lesson I’ve learned in the last three years is the importance of investing in yourself, your passions and your business. And yes, I do treat this blog like a business now – more on that in a bit. There are many blogging resources out there, and it can be difficult to figure out which of the “experts” are worth learning from. I’ve been careful about where I spent my money and who I learn from. If you are a blogger or are considering starting a blog, these books and courses have all helped me tremendously.

Building A Framework

Reading Building A Framework: The Ultimate Blogging Handbook and participating in the Facebook group was a turning point for me in my blogging journey. It was a great first purchase, and Abby knows what she’s talking about. I like her straightforward and conversational teaching style, and I admire the way she’s grown her blog into a thriving business. The book is super helpful and the video lessons are awesome.

Elite Blog Academy

The second investment in my blogging education was a much heftier dollar amount, but one I do not regret in the least. Earlier this year, I enrolled in Elite Blog Academy. The course is not cheap, but the monthly payment plan made it within reach for me, and I decided the investment would be worth it. I’ve learned much from the course this year, and it is so comprehensive that I will continue to go back through it again and again. It has helped me create a strong foundation for my blog and brand, and I’m also learning how to transition this hobby blog into a full-fledged business that I hope will begin to earn a healthy side income for my family in the next year. Elite Blog Academy only opens up for new students once per year, but you can join the waiting list now and get instant access to the “7 Surefire Ways to Boost Your Blog Income Overnight” ebook.

Book Boss

The third blogging resource I purchased was Book Boss, a course specifically designed to teach bloggers how to write and self-publish an ebook. Publishing a book is a huge goal of mine, and I’m getting close to making it a reality thanks to this course. It is very in-depth and has guided me through every step of the book-writing and launch process. The Book Boss course is by Abby and Donnie, the couple behind Building A Framework. They have turned Abby’s hobby blog into a full-time career for both of them, and they’ve done it primarily through the success of their ebooks. Their story is so inspiring to me, and they have become two of my go-to experts on all things blogging.


Blogging has become a huge part of my life and investing in my education as a blogger always pays off for me. Blogging is ever-changing, and it’s impossible to keep up with all of the changes and strategies out there. That’s why I make it a point to invest in resources created by experienced bloggers who have mastered a particular aspect of blogging. Blog education never ends, regardless of where you are at in your blogging journey.

I love learning about how people start their blogs! This girl started out not knowing anything about blogging. Time to start that blog I've been thinking about!

Turning My Blog Into A Business

My blog has grown substantially this year, and I frequently get asked if you can make money from a blog. The answer is yes, you can. I know many bigger bloggers who are making full-time incomes and others who are earning healthy side incomes. My own blog makes some money right now, but I’ve reinvested all of the income back into the blog at this point. Blogging success rarely happens overnight, but if you are willing to put in the time and have a passion for sharing your knowledge with the world, it can become profitable over time. For me, it’s not all about the money (although that’s a nice bonus). This blog has become a fulfilling way for me to share my voice and connect with people from around the world.

I will warn you that blogging is addictive! What started as a creative outlet has morphed into a rapidly growing blog, one that I have lofty goals of turning into a business. I suppose it’s already become a business since it does generate a little money here and there. But my dreams are much bigger than that. Last December, I set some huge goals for my blog in 2016–or so I thought. I’ve already surpassed most of those goals, most notably my monthly page views which are now triple what I had written on my goal sheet (pinch me now!).

My next goal – the biggest yet – is to publish an ebook. Writing a book is a goal I’ve had most of my life, and one that’s close to coming to fruition. And in addition to reaching my goals, my ebook is going to be a helpful resource for so many people. I can hardly wait to share more and get it into your hands!

I am working hard to grow this blog and make it helpful to you and others. It is overwhelming at times, but I enjoy it so much. Many people dream of being full-time bloggers, and I won’t lie – that’s certainly something I think about at times. But right now, my goal is to continue to grow this blog into a side business that can contribute to our family’s income. I don’t have the luxury of being a full-time blogger, so my growth is going to take longer than some, and that’s okay. I have so many ideas and dreams for this blog that I could easily work on it all day every day if I had the chance. My blogging journey is far from over, and I’m grateful to you for being a part of it.

I love learning about how people start their blogs! This girl started out not knowing anything about blogging. Time to start that blog I've been thinking about!

Thank you for reading my words and supporting my blogging journey. This blog wouldn’t be anything without engagement and encouragement from blog readers like you. I truly mean that. Blogging has become a huge passion of mine and a big part of my life, and I can hardly wait to see how it evolves and grows in the coming year and beyond.

I know this is a different topic than I normally discuss with you, but I hope it inspired you in some way. If you’ve been craving a creative outlet, blogging may be just what you’re looking for. Having a blog is a wonderful hobby, and who knows? You may catch the blogging bug just like I did 😉 If you have any questions about blogging, leave them in the comments or email me at emily@smallstuffcounts.com.

Thank you for being a part of my blogging journey,





This post contains affiliate links for your convenience. All opinions of insanely helpful blog resources are 100% my own. For more information, see my disclosure.


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About the author

Emily Counts is the founder of Small Stuff Counts, a home and organization blog she created in 2013. Her goal is to help moms make home life easier so they can create beautiful, organized, and thriving homes. She shares life at home as a mom juggling two young kids and being a working mom with a corporate job. The Iowa-based blogger lives in the suburbs of Des Moines, Iowa, with her husband, two children, and rescue dog. Emily has collaborated with brands including The Container Store, Cricut, Command Brand, Bissell, Sam's Club and Rubbermaid.

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  1. This is great! You’ve put a lot of effort into your blog and I know I love your topics. I’ve tossed around the idea for starting a blog, more as an outlet for my crazy life but had the same thoughts you did. Who would read it? Is it worth it? Talking to some friends has made me see there are more in my boat so this could possibly work if I make the time to do it and stay consistent. I may be looking into the resources you listed above and seeing if I can get something rolling. Thanks for all the great tips and posts!

  2. Congrats on three years of blogging! I am coming up on my three year mark in December, I always say I feel like the first year should not count since the learning curve is insane. You are so talented and have beautiful ideas, I am honored to call you one of my blogging friends and am excited to see what this next year brings you and your blog! 🙂

    1. I totally agree! It’s hard to even believe I’ve been blogging for three years because I definitely don’t even count the first year. There’s sure a learning curve! I am so thankful to have connected with you this year and feel blessed to call you a friend as well. Cheers to three years for both of us and I’m so excited to see what the next year will bring!

  3. Thanks for the inspiration Emily! I started a blog over a year ago and after six to eight months, I only had 25 email subscribers, mostly friends and acquaintances. For 25 people it didn’t seem worth the effort, so I haven’t done much with it since. But after reading your post, I think I will try again and perhaps invest in some of the educational resources you mention!

    1. Hey Debby, I totally understand having doubts about whether or not anyone even cares about what you’re writing. I’ve learned that blogging is more of a marathon than a sprint. Just keep writing with the goal of providing helpful information and you’ll find loyal readers with time. I’d definitely recommend learning more about blogging and joining a few blogger Facebook groups! I think Building A Framework would be a great help to you. The book is extremely helpful, and the facebook community is amazing!

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