Lately, I’ve really tried to get my act together in the quest to conform to blogging rules.

Just as I’ve tried, in all my years of blogging, to find where it is I belong. And I’m still looking in every nook and cranny.

I started blogging to share my thoughts. Mostly with myself. Then one day I began to share them with you.

But in the rules of blogging, if you want to rank high and make money, there are specific rules you need to follow.

For Instance:

  • Your post title needs to reflect the content and not be over 4-5 words long
  • Don’t use the same word at the beginning of 2 consecutive sentences
  • No sentences should have over 20 words
  • Click on all your photos and write Alt Text (Alternative Text) reflecting your photo in a little box
  • Write with SEO (search engine optimization) in mind

It’s kind of like putting together a puzzle, then deconstructing it in order to properly interpret it.

The mission is to write what is called “evergreen content.” Evergreen content is search-optimized content that is continually relevant and stays “fresh” for readers over a long period of time.

You see, doing all these things the right way will make Google smile at you. And when Google smiles at you, you make more money.

Some people seem to be high-achievers without bending themselves all out of shape.

But for me, adhering to all the Google and SEO rules is like being in a closed room on a hot summer day.

It is stifling.

Where Do I Fit In?

I’ve really never fit into any niche. People ask me all the time: So what is your blog about?

And I don’t know what to say. Because really, what is it about?

It’s about my life. With some other odds and ins tossed in.

And that doesn’t exactly make advertisers happy with you. They want you pigeon-holed so their ads automatically know just where to land on the page.

Successful Bloggers:

Successful bloggers have assistants; sometimes a whole staff.

Many bloggers have husbands who quit their jobs and become part of the family business. There are bloggers who make enough money to give their employees healthcare benefits.

And on and on it goes.

I told myself on a day when I was being pragmatic, I’m going to move soon and it’s going to cost more. So maybe I’d better step it up.

But clearly a business-type person I am not.

I was given the way to communicate creatively and I’m so grateful for that. But writing in that fashion typically doesn’t idle side-by-side with business practices.

I tend to sprinkle random photos in like confetti at a birthday party. Then there’s nothing adequate to put in that little ALT text box. Because the photo usually doesn’t have much to do with the content.

I get tired of trying to squeeze my square blog into a round hole. To fall into a nice, comfortable, and translatable niche. But it’s fair to say I’m not doing such a great job.

In the last few months, I’ve read a lot of relevant content about SEO and blog business practices. I’ve tried hard to abide by all the SEO rules and follow what the blogging Facebook groups tell you to do.

This morning I was reading about one blogger who already makes five figures, and thinks she’ll make six figures next year. And some are even up into the seven figures.

It was never my aim to make a lot of money. I wouldn’t even know what to do with a lot of money.

The Little Girl Playing T-Ball:

Thinking about all this kind of reminds me of something funny that happened long ago. I was at one of Kendra’s childhood T-Ball games. She was around six I suppose.

There was this little blond girl in the outfield. I forget her name. Oh yes, it was Michelle! Cute little Michelle with the blond wispy hair.

On that long-ago day, someone at bat actually hit the ball. And there it went, flying over the heads of all those little girls.

Everyone yelled at the little girl, who was wearing a mitt far too big for her hands, to run catch it.

But Michelle never even knew that ball was coming her way.

She was turned in the other direction and chasing a butterfly.

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70 Comments

  1. I think it’s easy to explain your niche. — your daily life, and it’s from the heart, and real. It’s why you have kept such a loyal following. . I didn’t have a niche when I first started, and I was all over the place. I finally decided to zero in on travel, but then Covid hit, and traveling stopped. Oh well. I think I’ve made less than $500 in eight years! I never bothered to learn about SEO, but I guess then, I’m not in it for the money, although wouldn’t it be nice! Cute story about the t-ball girl!

  2. I’ve enjoyed your blog since I initially tripped across it. I understand the need to use it to add income; I sincerely do. Several months ago I started leaving fewer and fewer comments – you probably didn’t notice. LOL You’d become a ‘friend’ and then suddenly you grew very distant. I’ve missed you!
    I blogged for several years but jumped to Instagram because blogging became less fun. I won’t go into the details regarding how it became less fun but I will admit that I miss it. I miss ‘chatting with friends’.
    Do what you need to do to take care of yourself and your furbabies. I’ll continue to read and enjoy.

  3. Yours is one of three blogs that I read regularly and I enjoy the intimacy of reading about your everyday life. Not many of us, if truth be told, live dashing and exciting lives all the time as it is often presented in blogland. It’s comfortable to come here and see what you and the kitties are doing and the peace you find in your small space. I feel like it gives me the permission to slow down and find those things that bring me joy.

  4. I didn’t take the time to read the other comments, but do what you need to since this is a source of income for you. Yours is one of the few blogs I still read. So many have moved from blogging to only using Instagram.

  5. WELCOME HOME, BRENDA! I’m not smart enough to have been aware that something had changed, and I wasn’t reading your blog as often. Your post explains it now. Glad to get the ‘old’ Brenda back! I don’t understand the tech world…I don’t even click on ‘like’, so may be cheating lots of sites out of income?
    I didn’t know…and, maybe I’m the only one who doesn’t read a single, solitary advertisement…but I’m more interested in what you and the cats are up to….what plants you are taking care of, and all the brilliant things you are sharing from your heart. Pffffft to Google! You be Brenda !

  6. We can’t all be Pioneer Woman who has turned her blog into a money making machine, nor do many of us want to be like her. Always grasping for the next dollar. I write my blog purely and selfishly for myself and my children and grandchildren who will one day be able to look back at my life and say it wasn’t a bad one. I write about everything I can think of. If advertisers wanted onto my blog, it would be under my terms, not theirs. I like reading your blog because I can relate to you and you make me think many times. If you make some money doing it, good for you. Just don’t change.

    1. She sure has the money maker going. She got in early. I don’t want to be like her. Imagine all the pressure with all the stores and creating new inventory and all that. She has a business and it’s profitable. But I wouldn’t want her job. Seems like it kind of got out of hand to me. I wonder what she thinks?

  7. As a fellow blogger, I wanted to tell you to always fill out that alt text. It’s only supposed to describe the photo. It doesn’t need to have anything to do with the blog post, although it’s great if it does.
    The alt text is needed to comply with the disabilities act and is used by blind people to be able to understand what the photo is about.

  8. Brenda, I heartily agree with all the positive comments above. I love your blog and it is one of only a few that I read anymore. If you are happy doing it the way you do it and are not strapped for more money to maintain the lifestyle you enjoy, just keep doing what you are doing. You are a talented writer, photographer and gardener. Those are also my interests and I love the ways that you share those interests in your blog. Only yield to the pressure to do differently if it will truly enhance your life.

    1. When my income dips, another Google trap, I guess I panic a little and feel like I owe it to myself to try harder. But trying harder and conforming to all the rules isn’t always that easy.

  9. Well, to me your life is about life, illustrated by many beautiful, peaceful photos!! I appreciate most of what you write…I don’t read some things entirely if on subjects like covid or political stuff…there is such an overload online of that…but when you write of your life, your thoughts, things you learned, things that happened in a day, your kitties, etc. as well as some decorating thrown in, then to me that sounds like you Brenda!! I hope your income will keep coming and do well…and for awhile anyway, you should have plenty to share of your new place and however you end up decorating and the yard things etc. I also appreciate those times you shared about Asperger’s etc as that is something that impacts my family too. And on cooking ideas…always interested in those! I hope this helps.

  10. I adore your blog… for so many of the reasons listed by others. Your writing talent is such a gift each day, from you to all of us. Your authenticity is so very, very refreshing! Reading your blog is a moment of calm in my day, and your content is original, refreshing, and peaceful (even when you’re not having a super peaceful day). I used to read a fair number of blogs (many written by younger women), curious & often inspired by their DYI projects, and over time those blogs have “progressed” and become terribly dull, boring, cookie-cutter, liberally sprinkled with “the best”, “the perfect”, and so buy-buy-buy oriented. I understand that blogging is a full-time job for many, and do not begrudge the successes many have worked hard to achieve. They’re simply not my taste at this stage of my life.

    YOUR blog feels like chatting with a good friend… sharing your joys, sharing your sorrows, following the antics of Gracie & Ivy, hearing about your daughters and their successes, getting great tips for recipes to try, books to read, products truly tried and honestly reviewed by someone in my age range, etc.

    Wishing you & yours a wonder-filled Christmas and a New Year filled with good health, contentment, laughter, love, and peace!

  11. Brenda ~
    To HECK with Google & FB and to HECK with ‘rules’ and to HECK with ANYONE or thing who tells you how to write or decorate your blog! You are a great writer, a great photographer and I love the ‘realness’ of your blog.
    Enjoy your wildflowers!!
    Hugs ~ bobbie

  12. Oh Brenda please keep writing your blog from the heart. That is why I love you so much. I can relate to so much of what you write. Your story about Kendra brought back wonderful memories of my son Kevin when he was in t-ball and he was in the outfield picking flowers when he should have been paying attention to the game! Yours is the only blog I read and look forward to it everyday! As a matter of fact my daughter Michelle and I were listening to the Dr. Phill show as we were eating our dinner last night and this women was going to meet a person she had been corresponding with for two years for the first time. My daughter said “that would be like you meeting Brenda”.

  13. Yours is one of the few blogs I continue to follow. There is nothing interesting about reading the same cookie cutter format/content. As Kris said, “most of their content now is about what advertisers think we want to see or buy.” You add value to your blog by being authentic.

    FYI, I have just made a long-distance move. Along with the normal hassle of moving, there were problems with the movers and it took 25 days for them to deliver my shipment. I don’t have any of your physical difficulties, but it about killed me. It IS a huge undertaking, so take your time, be patient, one step at a time. Don’t even be tempted to do anything that could cause an injury. I hope you and the kitties will love the new place.

    1. Yes, I’m anxious about possible “snafus” because nothing ever goes as smooth as you hope. But I’m just moving about 3 miles, so surely it will be easier than a long-distance move.

  14. Hi Brenda,
    I discovered blogs after my husband died in 2006. I wish I’d come across yours sooner. As with most, I came across it accidentally. Most of the good ones have disappeared. I’ve never liked the beige and boring ones and have never understood the numbers on everything. As with all the other comments, keep doing what you’re doing. Yours is the first blog I read every day. It’s relatable and enjoyable and informative, and the kitty antics are just plain fun. I too look forward to your new journey with the fur girls in your new home. Merry Christmas and wishing you all good things in the New Year. Margie

    1. I’ve been adding in beige furniture, because you just can’t replace furniture every day. But I like to add color in the way of accents. I’m going to be doing more of that I think. I miss the colors. And I sure hope I can still recreate my red and white kitchen in another apartment. I’ve never even been in it yet!

  15. Hello Brenda,
    Just want to add your blog is the only one I read daily. I’m so happy I found you a few years ago. You are transparent and that is so appreciated for just normal everyday folk like me. I’m excited for your move and look forward to the coming posts. Appreciate you keeping it real and giving us glimpses of your daughters and grandchildren and of course your fur babies. Wishing you a
    Merry Christmas! God Bless you in the New Year 2022.

  16. Brenda, I’m so glad to hear you say that you are going back to blogging from the heart. Over the past several months I have watched your blog go from one that I loved to read every day to one that I often forget now to even open it for days at a time. It lost its attraction to me, and I’ve been reading it since you started in Houston in 2007-8. Your new format makes it hard for me to find the current post on my phone, and that’s also a deterrent to my reading. But as someone who is a sole proprietor and supporting herself like you are, I understand that you are trying to play the Google game because I’ve had to do it, too.

    I’ve also learned that it only works for me if I am authentic and heart centered, and Google will find me anyway. I use WordPress with the Yoast SEO add on and it works well. That way I can write what I want and disregard what I want to disregard.
    As far as Alt Text, it helps but isn’t a must have unless people will be searching for your images by a keyword. It applies more to sales sites.
    I’ve been wondering if your numbers were improving with this new style you were doing, or not. I hope that you will trust in Spirit and go back to just sharing how you were, and you’ll be taken care of, I believe.

    1. I knew my content was stilted. It didn’t feel right while I was writing it. I too have Yoast, a plug-in I pay for. I knew the content was not what I would want to read. But Google wants you to write about things people are Googling. One month last summer I showed a home tour, of someone else’s home no less, and that day I made over $700. I thought: wow, someone was really Googling French country farmhouse. And I was the lucky recipient. At the same time I felt kind of guilty because I made money off someone else’s decorating, though every photo was attributed right back to them. But I grew tired of trying to find all those home tours while I pay the online version of Country Living just to have access to them. And I’m tired of thinking up how-to content. Yes, I’m going right back to my roots.
      What is it about the format that you find hard to find on your phone and I’ll see what I can do to adjust it?

  17. Your blog is the ONLY one I read daily. Years ago I had a long list to keep up with. Over time most became repetitive or simply boring. Others stopped blogging and went to Instagram.
    I relate to your content. It is like a daily phone call from an old friend.
    I like YOU for just who you are. Hopefully that will be enough for your needs and to satisfy Google.

    Happy Holidays! I am looking forward to seeing your new apartment. Think of it as a new canvas.

    1. I am thinking of it as a new canvas. Some days I feel confident about this move with a boot on my right foot. Did you know I moved in here 8 years ago with the same boot on? And other days I feel a sense of impending dread because moving is such a huge undertaking.

  18. All those rules would make my head spin. And to have to limit a sentence to 20 words would make for a long time in editing.

    Your blog is the only one I read now. I’ve tried several others to no avail. One of my biggest complaints — and sorry to be negative — is the light print some of them use. I can’t read it, so they go by the wayside. It’s just hard on old eyes!

    I’m so looking forward to your move. Hearing how the kitties adjust to their new belongings. Your decorating skills regaling us every morning. Meeting new friends. Your patio coming alive in the spring! AND pictures of the new landscape! We are so lucky to have your blog💞

    1. And I am so lucky to have you, Annette. You’ve been there from the beginning and I consider you a trusted friend. You’ve always been supportive and never complained about an ad. But yes, all the rules make my head spin. It makes me anxious, like I’m not passing a test. It’s just so much easier to sit down and write whatever occurs to me and sprinkle in photos. That’s the work I truly enjoy, which makes it not really feel like work at all.

  19. I too read your blog because of its excellent writing, but even more, because it is authentic. Your photos can be as random as you wish – they please us. Please keep on keeping on, Brenda. Real people are a rarity today. Wishing you continued success in being yourself.

    Mary

    1. I suppose everyone has to do it their own way. Some jump into the money stratosphere and make a name for themselves. That’s something I never even considered. I have what I need. I’m happy and content. And I don’t need to live in a big fancy house on a lake with all the bells and whistles. In fact, I wouldn’t even want to.

  20. Good Morning Brenda. I started my blog over 13 years ago. It was when blogging was so new. No one made money we just shared our interests and found likewise peeps that shared with us. I have to say I have some wonderful friendships with people from all over that I would have never found if it were not for blogging. That has enriched my life. Bravo to the people that make money and have found ways to do that with their blogs. After writing, editing, taking pics etc can be like a full time job. I just feel that most of their content now is about what advertisers think we want to see or buy. I use to post sometimes two to three times a week. That is when we were in a new home and had lots of DIY’s to share. Now that is not the case and I just post when I have something I would like to share that I found or DIY to show. It does not generate the audience I use to have but that is ok I enjoy sharing with the followers that enjoy what I post. I think you have a gift of writing and you should think about publishing with your talent. That would generate so much more money for you than trying to conform to blog rules. You have a nice following that really enjoy your writing. Just think if you shared it with a bigger audience through publishing.

    1. And you and Terry do all those DIYs so well! Those advertisers are often their sponsors, and that means they have to write about the sponsor’s product. If I was to sit down and write a book, it would take all my thoughts. It would take away from what I write here every day. I make enough money to keep things going and then some because I also have social security. I’m never going to be in the 5 figures, but I’m consistently in the four figures and that hasn’t changed in years. I’ve never made much over $3000 a month, to be candid. And that’s of course before I pay taxes on my income. I typically make anywhere between around $1700 to $2500 a month. But last month Pinterest alone brought me over $631 in traffic! So I kind of focus on Pinterest.

  21. I’m happy you generate enough money to live a stable life doing what you love best. Your blog is one I truly enjoy because of its straight forward, charming simplicity. It’s one of only two I still read. My own blog, which I’ve drifted away from, was launched in the same spirit. I wrote what I wanted – organically – and achieved some moderate success. No money of any significance, but mostly the heartwarming satisfaction I know you feel every day after you post directly from your heart. Before blogging, we were limited to reading pre selected material from magazines or books we paid for. What an audience blogging opened for us amateur writers – especially the gifted ones like you!

    1. If someone had told me in college, that took me into my forties to complete, that there would be something called an internet and opportunities like blogging, I would have laughed. If someone had told me that that was going to be a place, when I started the blog in my fifties, that I would finally make money doing what I love, I would have been shocked. Doing what I love is a gift every single day.

  22. Your blog is one of the very few I read anymore. One reason is because you are a good writer, another is because it makes me think, and finally your life seems real while many of the others I used to read seem like fantasy. I understand your desire to improve, and if you are writing a blog you might as well do your best to make it profitable, but I think you’re fine just the way you are.

  23. I look forward to and read your blog everyday, There are no others that keep my interest, so yours is my only one. I hope you make money and are happy doing it, because I don’t want things to change, I’m very much looking forward to the move, that’s the only change I want to see.

    1. Well, there’s been somewhat of a change lately on this blog, I admit. But I’m going back to where I feel comfortable. The only change I want to see is being in a new home with the kitties. And seeing where our journey goes from there. Thanks for sticking in there with me.

  24. What a wonderful post! You’re a very gifted writer. This post really resonates with me. I plan to launch a blog in early 2022 and, like you, am not really sure where I’ll fit in? Also, like you, I’m not very business minded. Anyhoo, I’m going to give it a go!
    You could have been writing about my sweet daughter Jen, who turns 26 today, in your T-ball memory. Except it was soccer and Jen was busy picking dandelions instead of manning the backfield! Her dad was the coach and was beside himself! Lol! Wishing you a beautiful Holiday season.

    1. Donna, the memory of the dandelions sure made me smile! If you want any help or advice or whatever, email me. My suggestions are free and I like to see people succeed. You sure won’t know until you try. Tell Jen Happy Birthday from me.

  25. Brenda, I feel the same way about blogging. When you and I started our blog, way back in what feels like the dinosaur age no one was writing to make money, in fact no one made money from blogging.

    To the bloggers that have a niche and make a living, have a bunch of employees, photographers, interns, etc I say, well done! I am happy for them, I celebrate all of their wins.

    I am happy to plod along and share and write what I like and think my readers and friends like too. I am not a chef, I am a home cook that happens to prefer sugary sweets over savory foods. I am not a fashion blogger although I like clothes I do not really want to be in any of the photos. I am not a gardner but I like flowers. All of this is to say, I like you have a lot of interests and I think that is why people read our blogs.

    I am trying to keep myself busy and learn new things about blogging who knows where it will take me or you for that matter. I say this, if you are happy writing your blog keep doing it and perhaps look for other creatives like yourself that have the same interests that way you will find new readers and expand your audience. As for the rest, I think Google changes its mind all of the time.

    Have a wonderful holiday friend!

    1. Google does indeed change its mind a lot. I was reading a FB blogging group this morning, and people were saying that their Google web stories, or whatever it was called, was not doing well for them. I don’t even really know what that is. I just do what comes natural. Well, I did. Then for awhile I thought about all that SEO stuff, and I tried that. I’ll still give it a go, but I’m going back to just writing from my heart. Because that’s what makes me happy. And it’s what makes me want to put my fingers to the keyboard.

  26. For many years I have deliberately ignored all those “high-end” blogs where the homeowner is continuously decorating or remodelling 24/7/365. They all seem to have the same straightened long blonde hair, perfectly formed eyebrows and weigh 95 pounds soaking wet, they’re all married to “super duper” husbands and they have 2.1 children. I find them boring and blase, because WHO actually lives a life like that? Nobody I know. All their homes are decorated the same way, they all dress the same way, they all write the same way, they’re all pushing the same “lifestyle” that is impractical and not based in reality. So, you just keep on doing what you do, Brenda. You have a lot of devoted fans. You write about real things, everyday things, you’re not trying to sell us a “lifestyle” that is primarily fantasy and not reality, and you don’t bombard us with links to buy things from third party websites. When you do post items, they’re things you actually bought or are thinking of buying, things that you use and enjoy. And once you have moved to your new apartment, there will be plenty of “decorating” content and probably lots of suggestions and ideas from your fans. Maybe that will meet all the requirements of SEO – or whatever that is!

    1. When I come across those blogs on Pinterest, I am absolutely amazed at the size of their homes and the dollars spent inside to make it look like a designer house. Where does all this money come from? When I was their age, I certainly didn’t have what they do. I’m happy to put them on my Lovely Reads page, because to each their own. I don’t want what they have, but sometimes it’s fun to look since I rarely buy magazines anymore.

      1. And something else, when I see them posing in their photos for their blogs, something just doesn’t feel quite right. I know it’s just their way of doing things and to each their own. But it kind of looks like acting. Kind of like the set of boots strategically placed near the front door.

    2. I agree 100%. Those too perfect mirror image blogs bore me to tears. Give me depth. Give me interesting content. Give me Brenda!

  27. My problem with formula blogs is they reach a point where I can read the headline and don’t have to read the body of the blog. That’s why your blog is so good, it isn’t boring at all.

    1. I think I know what you mean. It’s so systematic. Many I’m sure sat down and actually wrote a business plan and goals for their blog. And I admire their determination. But I’m never going to be in the same category.

  28. I love that your blog does not conform to all of those rules. The rules make for cookie cutter reading. I love to hear about real life. It is like getting together with a friend in person for coffee.

    1. And that’s how I feel when I’m writing to all of you. Each morning I get my coffee after eating breakfast and morning chores for the kitties. And then I sip my coffee and write whatever it is I’m going to write. I think of us all drinking coffee or tea and sharing.

  29. I think your blog is just perfect. The things you write about and the way you write, in your own words and thoughts, catches and keeps my attention. I enjoy reading what you have to say everyday and your photos are the icing on the cake.

    1. As I mentioned, I sprinkle random photos in like confetti, which is a no-no in terms of SEO. But I just can’t seem to do it any other way. Photos to me are there to enjoy. They shouldn’t have to pertain totally to your content to have value. But that’s what Google values. So be it.

  30. Love your blog! Life is not a formula but an adventure to be savored. Don’t change your style, look at it as you are a forward looking visionary pressing the boundaries. I look forward to your blog everyday. You bring new thoughts and ideas to us every single day. Challenging us to think and feel. Your photos add beauty to your blog and make us look at our world with awe and beauty. You have made your own unique niche and fill it spectacularly!

    1. Oh, thank you so much! After writing that post today, I feel somewhat liberated. Like I just stepped off a fast-moving train and now I can just walk through the field and enjoy the wildflowers.

    1. I agree with all the others, Brenda. I’m down to only your blog that I read. And it’s for all the reasons the others mentioned. I love your photos and your day to day stories the best. I also enjoy your book suggestions and the products you choose and why. In short, I enjoy your blog and wouldn’t have you change a thing.

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