The Business Aspect of Running a Blog

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This is a bit of a deviation from our typical DIY, recipes and decor type of posts, but it’s something we thought some of you might find interesting. Especially those of you who may be considering starting your own blog someday {read down, we cover how easy it is to get started below}, or even maybe for those of you who already have a blog.

This blog did not start out as a business in itself, rather it started as a marketing site for an event business Terry and I were discussing starting together. From there, Christy joined us, the site grew and changed and grew some more, and here we are almost four years later. Our little hobby of a website has become a small business in addition to being a fun and creative endeavor.  You can read our whole “how we began” story HERE if you haven’t already.

 black and gold logo

After going again to The Haven Conference, which is a 2-day fun-filled, information-overload of DIY “Bloggy-iness,” our heads are still spinning with the possibilities this website brings.  This is an exciting time to be a blogger, as advertisers continue to shift funds from traditional media such as TV and radio and embrace social media, blogs and websites.


steam machine in use

So we typically show you our DIY projects, recipes, some of our events and even–strangely– things like the inside of our pantries or closets {sometimes when you think about it that is a little odd!} but here is a bit about how blogging became a business here at 11 Magnolia Lane.

We’ll start with how you can make money for those of you who may be interested in the business part. We utilize four main business or income “avenues” on our site:


This is probably obvious—as you can clearly see we have advertisements running on our {right} sidebar. These ads are provided by several ad networks. The networks handle everything with the ads, we don’t control what goes/when/where, so it’s fairly effortless for us. We do have a certain selection of things we “opt” out of—certain political advertisements, and ‘junkier’ ads like belly-fat loss products—we don’t want to see that and know you don’t either.

Our main affiliation, and has been for almost three years now, is with the BlogHer network.  We joined them when we first decided to “monetize” the site and they have been a fabulous organization to work with. They specialize in female-oriented blogs and we enjoy being a partner with them.

Without getting too complicated, our ads are run through a Google Ad server—it ensures that we run the best ad available and it gives Google the right to “beat” out a lesser ad. That is a very simple explanation, and we’re thinking about putting together a class on what we’ve learned about ad income in the future, we’ll see. Anyway, this explains why you sometimes see an abundance of your own search-related ads on our site. Blame it on the ever-growing Google!

{update: shortly after this was written we changed and are now with AdThrive and love them, they handle all our advertising heavy-lifting!}

So, you may be curious to know exactly what we do with our advertising income.  No, it doesn’t pay for new shoes {though that would be really nice!}, we actually reinvest most of our advertising income back into our site. It pays our web hosting fees, for a variety of technical support, our travel and expenses to conferences like Haven, our charitable “causes” and sometimes for advertising on other websites. At some point, this may be something that changes, but for now our ad income keeps our site running as smoothly and efficiently as possible.


We are often asked if we want to write a post about a product and are compensated for doing so. You will always see these posts marked “a sponsored post on behalf of so-and-so” at the beginning and the end. We think carefully before we accept these, and to be clear we probably turn down as many as we accept, at the very least. We typically are just asked to evaluate a product and provide our own honest and genuine feedback for our readers.  We do these as the income helps us offset the costs of turning out a continual stream of DIY projects and the like. Projects can get expensive, even when we try to be budget-friendly.


We work with many companies that pay us a small commission for sending them business. Much has been made about ‘affiliate” income recently and hopefully by now every blogger is being transparent when they use a link on their site that provides them an affiliate commission {after all, this is an FTC requirement}. When we use them, we disclose them at the end of the post and we maintain a permanent disclosure page {here}. The most important thing we want to stress to our readers is that your price does not change by using our affiliate links–you pay the same amount either way. The difference is that Amazon and a few others pay us a few pennies (literally) as a thank you for recommending a product to our “friends.”  This income is a tiny amount in the scheme of things, but we do appreciate you all clicking through our links—again it helps us offset the costs of our projects and running the blog.


Along with sponsored posts, we have several {and hopefully several exciting new ones to come} brands we are proud to be in partnership with. It was exciting to see a long list of exhibitors at Haven this year, indicating that more and more companies are recognizing the voice of DIY blogs. I say this not because someone who writes a blog is important—rather the advertisers are embracing us as the conduit to the true “do-it-yourself-er” –YOU.

We also enjoy some excellent direct partnerships with companies like HomeRight,  Modern Masters and FUA Window Coverings. We can’t say enough great things about these companies, we work with them because they are great people with great products, we’re proud to consider them our partners in empowering our readers to do great things in their homes.

And, we are very excited that we have recently joined the Mohawk Flooring blogger team–we contribute monthly to their blog: Creative Home. We are thrilled to be partnering with them this Fall!

How you can blog and make money too…

So, yes you can earn revenue from having a blog. As you have read, our website has essentially become not just a brand but also truly a small business.

Have you ever thought of starting a blog? Here are our recommendations, after all you never know until you try! I am not sure Christy and I thought we’d still be here hundreds of posts later and now making money off our site a few short years ago, but we are so glad we took those first steps. We love doing this–and to be clear–we’d still be doing it for free if the income opportunities hadn’t developed.

The first steps to starting your own blog…

1) Decide your niche. We have evolved primarily into a DIY/Home Decor blog though we try to incorporate entertaining, fashion, recipes and lifestyle posts because we like those things too! We started off covering a variety of topics and I think we’ll always continue to delve into areas outside of decorating and home projects.

2) Pick your domain name/URL (your blog name). While this is important because it’s hard to change it–don’t let it be a deterrent to getting started–just brainstorm, ask friends for ideas and then commit to one. Focus on who you are, what you’ll be writing about and of course, find a name that isn’t being used. You can start that process HERE to see what is available and to reserve a name today (even if you are just thinking about it “someday”), just click the green “get started”, select the lowest monthly plan (you can upgrade later) and start searching domain names!

3) Select your platform. Our blog is a wordpress self-hosted blog, which we believe is the only way to go if you are starting a blog since if you don’t start here, you will eventually have to move here. Being self-hosted means we pay a company to “host” our site and keep it up and running. It also means you own your own content unlike some other hosts.  The company we use and recommend highly is BlueHost  we’ve been with them since the beginning when we migrated from blogspot and they are instantaneous in their response and easy to work with.  At less than $4 a month, they make getting started so easy and their customer support is top-notch.

4) Pick your topics, start writing and take pictures. Your skills will grow as you do this and there are a variety of online tutorials.  PicMonkey ( is a great easy to use resource for photo editing.

5) Network, network, network. This is the fun part because you’ll find like-minded people and you can support each other as your blogs grow. Find some other new blogs in your niche and comment, share and learn from each other.

6) Start your social media accounts–Pinterest, Instagram and Facebook (and others if you like), use them to show-off your stuff!

7) Learn, learn, learn…we highly recommend the online course Elite Blog Academy. It has completely changed how we view our blog and had a huge impact in out income. If you are an established blogger or a blogger looking to grow this class is a must-take. It is hard work but most things in life that pay off are 🙂

7) Do what you can, post when you can and be consistent. It is hard work and the return on investment is low at first but with good content, a consistent work ethic and energy your blog will grow. Most importantly, always be yourself!

Questions about this? Email us at [email protected], we’re happy to help!


What is next at 11 Magnolia Lane?  We have several exciting brand partnerships that— fingers crossed —you will hear more about this next year.  We have had two “Operation:Organization series” with guest bloggers this year, and will continue to do both, we loved them and you all seem to agree. We’ve gotten to know virtually and in-person some other fabulous bloggers and we enjoy showcasing their work along with our own. We have two house tours—the Holiday Open House and the Spring Home Tour and we’re keeping those on the schedule because we all love to see pretty houses, right?


spring open house button

Going forward, Terry is no longer contributing regularly on this site as she has been putting her love for event planning to good use and her business Terry Kaye Events needs her full attention.  Christy and I will continue to be  blogging here and will be covering all our usual topics so that much won’t really change.


More of what is  “New”: You may have already heard, but we’ve opened an ETSY store so you can purchase all the vinyl monograms and other items that are popular on the site {Click HERE to visit the store}. It’s the perfect place to order vinyl for the projects we’ve featured, so be sure to visit often to see what we’ve added.


We have started a monthly link party with a super-fun group of girls called the Pretty Preppy Party. Each month we’ll host this link party for our readers to share their inspiration, and we can’t wait to see what everyone has been up to! Our first month was a tremendous success, our next one will be in mid- October so get your pretty projects ready!


Pretty Preppy Party Blog Linky Party | 11 Magnolia Lane


On that note, I will wrap up. If you are curious about anything I didn’t mention, please let me know in the comments. I hope you found this side of things interesting. Writing this blog is a lot of work, but believe me it is a labor of love. Each time we get a comment telling us how much you enjoy reading us, or love a project we are just over the moon! {Note: we really, really try to respond to every comment, if you can take the time to write us our goal is to respond. Occasionally one falls through the cracks, but please know that we appreciate each and every one.}

If you’re not already following us on social media, just use the black buttons below my photo to connect.  You can also click {here} to sign up for our email list and get our free E-book on our best organizing ideas. You’ll get an email every time we post something new, and we’ll never spam you or sell your address.

Thoughts? We’d love to hear! Questions, please feel free to ask or email us at [email protected]

Thanks for stopping by!



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  1. Hi! Thanks so much for sharing all this wonderful info. I’m going to be doing the WordPress migration this week, I’m a little scared to do it myself, so I’m opting for the guided choice.

    • Hi Amanda, we managed to do it ourselves–but it was a little scary 🙂 though all was well in the end! Hope it goes very smoothly for you!

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