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  • Shelby McDaniel

After a Year of Blogging, Here's What I've Learned


blogging
Photo by Sincerely Media on Unsplash

I started the Hemp Bitch when I was partially laid off during the first waves of the pandemic shutdown. At the time, I was working from home. When I wasn't doing the few hours of work a day that I was assigned, I found myself walking laps around my small yard to try and keep myself from going insane. I needed something to help keep my foot in the industry door while at the same time taking my mind off of everything going on.

One evening, I took the leap, bought a domain name, and began to write. I took questions I had heard asked and answered them in easy-to-understand articles designed to educate consumers and those new to the industry. It was also a way to set myself apart as a cannabis industry professional. Soon, it became my second job.

Even though I was acting as an educator, blogging became an educational experience for me as well. With my first year as a professional blogger under my belt, I learned several important lessons, including;

Let Your Brand Be A Reflection of Yourself


let your brand reflect yourself
Photo by Fares Hamouche on Unsplash

As a younger woman within the cannabis industry, I have learned to become assertive if I want to make my voice heard. Consequentially, the term bitch has been used to describe me more than once. While I could have become upset and stomped my foot in protest over the unfairness, I took the insult and used it to positively brand myself.

Why the Hemp Bitch? There are several reasons I chose to call myself that. First and foremost was to take the power away from the insult. To quote one of my favorite Game of Thrones character, "Never forget what you are, for surely the world will not. Make it your strength. Then it can never be your weakness. Armour yourself in it, and it will never be used to hurt you." Second, it allowed me free range to be blunt about topics I was passionate about while still remaining on brand. Third, the term hemp is more social media algorithm friendly than the term marijuana or cannabis.

Factor Your Research Into Pricing


factor your research into your pricing
Photo by Firmbee.com on Unsplash

When I was getting steady traffic on my site, various businesses would reach out regarding the possibility of freelance work. Since I was new, I didn't want to oversell myself and wound up cutting myself short. Through putting time into freelance work, I learned that research and editing also play a role in your pricing.

Vary Your Reach


vary your reach to increase your audience
Photo by Melanie Deziel on Unsplash

Unlike large blogging sites, I did not have the backing of a well-funded marketing department. I had to get creative with reaching readers. This resulted in hours of research on various cannabis-friendly platforms and blogging sites with my target audience.

For myself, sharing my articles through publications on Medium and various social media platforms like LinkedIn, Instagram, and other smaller cannabis-focused platforms was the most beneficial way to reach readers. The result was a wider audience reach, mobile-optimized content available on apps, and varied analytics to help determine my next steps.

Keep Track of Earnings


piggy bank
Photo by Damir Spanic on Unsplash

Despite the flexibility of being able to work nearly anywhere at any time, successful blogging is a job within itself. When I finally began to receive some passive income, I created a spreadsheet to track my earnings and expenses to determine how exactly where I stood financially with my blog.

As a result, I could see just how much my blog was growing. Each month I earned a few dollars more. My income tracking allowed me to not only watch my blog grow but also gave me assurance that it could more than pay for itself.


The Hemp Bitch was started as a way to keep me involved in the cannabis industry while confined to my house. But what started as a hobby has grown into a side job and a way to set myself apart within the industry. While helping others learn about this plant I am so passionate about, I also was learning and growing as a writer.

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