Thanks SJ for inviting me, I hope that this helps y'all figure this whole blogging thing out. It has taken me a few years, and I am learning new things everyday still... and just remember everyone's experience is different so take the advice that feels right for you!
1) Can you share how you started earning income from your blog?
Of course I started with Google AdSense, and watched as the pennies added up... I didn't actually get a payout for about 10 months...
Next, I noticed on bigger blogs the sponsors section. So, I added that "your ad here" button. But, this is a lot of work with invoicing and such. It has not been a very steady source of income for me. I mostly think it is because I offer a free adverting party to Etsy type shops on Saturdays, but I feel happy about the opportunity I am giving to shop owners... so that is okay with me.
Where I finally began to earn money was with Juice Box Jungle (which is no longer around). I noticed it, on a bigger blog, and contacted the marketing company. They let me fill out a form and join. And let me tell you, it was THRILLING, to see my first paycheck... (mind you this is after working more than full time for over a year) And the paycheck was hardly part time pay, but nonetheless, it sparked a fire.
I have been contacted by the other marketing companies I work with now. I am trying to figure this all out, but I can say, while it is a ton of work, it really is a huge blessing.
2) Can you give advice on how bloggers can attract advertisers without turning off readers at the same time?
Well, I am not totally sure, but I just try to be honest. I have had complaints about ads in the past, but if they email me, then I just explain honestly how many hours I put into the blog, and that I have to make it worth my time, or I can't continue blogging.
I also try to make sure that the ads that show up are not offensive and I try to block ads that are not in the proper genre.
The other option is possibly contacting shops or companies that you really love - those that fit your style and add to the overall feel of your blog, and try to work with them. Then, they are not just a distraction, but a way to purchase the style ideas that they see on your blog.
3) Can you tip bloggers on how to balance family life and blogging?
As the blog has gotten bigger, I have had to get help - pure and simple, I just can't do it all alone! So really, I could use a few of these tips myself. But this is what I do:
I try to wake up before the babies are up and answer all the emails.
When the girls get up, we have a leisurely breakfast. We take our time, talk and read the scriptures a bit.
I have a babysitter here at my house 3 sometimes 4 days a week for about 3 hours. She brings her daughter and the girls get a little play date, and I can feed the baby as she needs it. I work feverishly the whole time. When my babysitter leaves, we eat a light lunch/snack and then the girls go down for their naps. I work through their naps...
When they wake up, it is time to just be a mom. Which means 87 thousand little things. Snacks, dinner making, laundry, reading books... building forts, trying to clean... not usually succeeding.
Daddy gets home, he usually takes the girls outside to play while I finish up dinner.
We eat and play for an hour or so, then baths, jammies and bedtime.
Followed up by I work again with my husband helping at this point..... until bed.
I usually go easy on Friday afternoons and Saturdays if possible. On Sundays I take a day off completely. This is sometimes hard, and occasionally I will sneak a look at my email, but I really try to avoid the computer completely. It is really nice, and totally needed for my sanity!
MOSTLY, I have found that I have to make myself go and do the little things with my family. I cannot be casual about it, or we will miss the opportunity. We have a weekly scheduled play date. We have science museum passes, and need to renew our zoo pass. We try to go every first Saturday. We do as many things together as possible. We go on walks and throw rocks in the stream, while we are collecting things for random projects. That is what works for me.
Good luck everyone! I hope this helps!
Cassity, thank you so much for imparting great nuggets of wisdom!