Coffee Break #20
Happy April, friends! I hope this month’s Coffee Break finds you in a happy place with warmer temps, and maybe even a vaccine shot in your arm! (I’m still dutifully waiting my turn, but almost my entirely family is vaccinated, which means fun family gatherings are soon ahead!) Although longer, brighter, and warmer days have been beckoning me outside, I’ve had my nose glued to the computer screen, working away on a whole host of blog updates that should be going live soon. Since blogging is pretty much the only thing on my mind lately, this month’s Coffee Break is full of your questions about the gig! So grab a snack and your favorite beverage (mine is SUPER hot coffee with some banana bread), and let’s catch up!
Catch up on past Coffee Break posts HERE!
New Site Update
Pretty much my entire life behind-the-scenes right now is consumed with my upcoming site re-design, which will affect both my main blog and The Organization Toolbox. As is always the case with these kinds of things, it’s so much more work than I think it’s going to be. It’s definitely been a domino-effect situation, where if I’m going to fix one thing, I might as well fix everything else.
As a result, it’s become a huge undertaking that’s taking almost all my “spare” time. All of my New Year’s goals of work:life balance have flown right out the window; and at this point, I’m laser focused on just getting it done so I can move on to more fun things (like showing you the awesome wallpaper I just hung in the bedroom!)
On my Reader Survey last year, so many of you chimed in with great ideas to make both the site and The Toolbox more user-friendly. I’ve worked really hard to incorporate a lot of those suggestions, and I can’t wait for you to see our new “digs.” Fingers crossed it will all be live for next month’s Coffee Break!
Since I am neck-deep in the inner workings of my blog and business, I thought this was a good time to answer some of the blogging-related questions I’ve received in recent months!
Question: I’m considering starting a blog, and I know that all things blog have changed so much since the good ol’ blogspot days. Could you suggest any (free) blogger ideas, tips, resources for aspiring bloggers that you think would be particularly helpful, given your experience?
Answer: Long-time readers will know one thing about my blog journey so far: I’ve messed up a lot. Back in the beginning (almost 10 years ago!), I applied the same DIY-approach to setting up my blog as I did with home projects: I just figured it out as I went even though I had no idea what I was doing. As a result, I did SO many things wrong that have ultimately cost me a lot time, money, traffic, and income over the years.
The blog world has indeed changed so much; and for better or worse, there is a lot you need to know before you even hit “Publish” on your first post. So whenever someone approaches me about how to start a blog, my #1 piece of advice is to get help from day 1. I genuinely believe it’s worth investing in some sort of course or book that will hold your hand and walk you through everything you need to know. The initial investment WILL save you years of headaches down the road!
I used to recommend Building a Framework, which was an excellent beginner blogging course that walked you through every step of setting up a blog, social media, working with sponsors, etc. Abby has since shut her doors, and now has many of her tips compiled HERE. Since she is well-versed in blogging education, I reached out to her for suggestions on quality blogging courses and she recommended Blog By Number. While I haven’t taken this course personally, I trust Abby‘s recommendation without hesitation and am sure it will get you off and running!
Question: Do you have favorite organizing or decor bloggers you follow and why do you like them?
Answer: Although blogs have changed so much over the years, I have clung (somewhat desperately!) to the “old school” style of blogging which focuses on a (somewhat) chronological story-telling of real home projects and life events. As such, it probably won’t surprise you that most of my favorite bloggers (or the ones I get the most inspiration from) are those who blog in a similar fashion. Here are the ones I check in on regularly!
- Young House Love – I was one of the many who rejoiced when these talented, infectious, and oh-so-real bloggers came back from a long blogging hiatus. The real-life documentation of their home renovations is fun to follow and provided some of the original direction for my own site.
- DIY Playbook – Casey really nails the balance of helpful DIY content and real-life story telling. I also really admire the seamless way she’s been able to interweave her blog and social media presence.
- I Heart Organizing – I will forever see Jen and her amazing projects as the “gold standard” for organizing blogs. Although she no longer blogs regularly, I still visit her site for inspiration, ideas, solutions, and gorgeous eye candy.
- Hi Sugarplum – I started following Cassie back when she predominantly did home content. Although she is now mostly a fashion blogger, I can’t help but love her colorful, adventurous, pattern-filled lifestyle!
- Making Home Base – Chelsea is another military spouse blogger in the DIY/home decor niche. She and I are often troubleshooting many of the same situations, and I love her no-fuss, easy-to-do rental projects that also look amazing!
Question: How do you fit blogging around mothering your three boys, finding time for Greg and just generally having a life?
Answer: I don’t 🤪 No, I’m kidding…sort of.
Another thing I caution eager bloggers is that blogging requires far more time than you might expect. At a minimum, creating projects, taking and editing pictures, writing posts, and sharing on social media requires many, many hours per post. And that doesn’t even include the vast behind-the-scenes tasks like technical support, email writing, product creation, marketing, and more! I realized years ago that I just can’t do it all by myself. So while I’ve hired out a few things (e.g., tech support), I’ve also (very intentionally) chosen what I can and cannot do with the hours I have each week.
That is precisely why you’ll always see me here on Tuesday and Thursdays and in your Inbox on Sunday mornings…but not necessarily on Facebook or Instagram with any real consistency. I have prioritized my blog and email strategy over social media, in the same way I have prioritized product creation (The Toolbox) over course creation, video content, etc. Choosing what I can accomplish in the hours I have, rather than pulling a crazy works schedule to do all the things, has been a better choice for me, my family, and my sanity…even if it means I’m not doing everything quite “right.”
If you’re curious about how exactly I fit both work time and Mom time into my day, you can see my full weekly breakdown HERE!
Curious about something…anything? Ask away in the form below, and I’ll answer in a future Coffee Break!
That’s it for this monthly Coffee Break. Thanks for catching up with me, and I hope you have a great April!