Hello all! Today, I’m In The Bloglight with Hometalk!
For those of you wondering what the heck that means, let me tell you! Hometalk is a fantastic website where you can share your home-related projects, ask your home-related questions, and get loads of decorating and project inspiration for your home. And you don’t have to be a blogger to upload and share your projects!
Hometalk has also done a wonderful job at creating a supportive community of home/decorating/diy bloggers. It’s been so fun getting to know so many other fabulous bloggers over the last few months! And each week, one blogger is chosen to be In The Bloglight! And this is my week.
So Miriam, the awesome Director of Community at Hometalk, sent over a few questions for me to answer. Here goes!
How did you first get into blogging?
I started blogging in March of 2007. At the time, I was building up my interior decorating business, Kristi Linauer Interiors, and I had heard that blogging was a good way to demonstrate expertise in your field and bring in potential clients. So I set up my free blog on Blogger, determined to share all of my interior decorating wisdom and expertise with people.
I realized very quickly that writing posts about the how-to’s and rules of decorating wasn’t going to be that interesting. And writing in that authoritative voice made me come off as a bit prideful, like I was all-knowing. I certainly wasn’t, and I didn’t want to come across that way. I wanted to be down-to-earth and personable.
So I floundered around for a while. I really wanted to blog. I loved the idea behind blogging, but I just couldn’t seem to find my place in the blogging world. I tried to emulate other blogs that I enjoyed at the time, like Design Sponge and Decor8. But that didn’t feel right, either. It just wasn’t “me”…so I struggled. I would blog for a while, then disappear for a month or two. Then I’d come back, determined to blog consistently, and then it would fizzle out again.
After about three years of floundering, I finally found my voice…and learned a lot about myself along the way (more on that in a bit). So while I’ve been blogging for almost six years, it wasn’t until about 2 1/2 years ago that I felt like I really hit my stride in blogging and really fell in love with it.
Is blogging something you do on the side, or is it a full-time job for you? What did/do you do for a living?
I made the transition from “self-employed interior decorator who blogs on the side” to “full-time blogger” in the summer of 2011, and I guess officially, I’m still a full-time blogger.
However, one year ago (in December 2011), I hired someone to move my blog from Blogger to WordPress, and once I was on WordPress, it was love at first…well…first post, I guess you’d say. I took to WordPress like a fish to water.
So this year, I’ve learned that I love WordPress almost as much as I love interior decorating. But I can only do so much designing, redesigning, and code-tweaking on my own blog, so about five months ago, I started taking on WordPress work from other bloggers (Blogger to WordPress transfers, custom blog designs, etc.). Now that’s grown into quite a thriving side business.
Because it’s impossible to post quality original content on my blog every single day, in addition to doing WordPress work for people, I’ve tried to split my time as best I can. It’s definitely been an interesting ride, and I’m just going with the flow.
What was the first project you ever posted?
The very first project I ever made for my blog was a pendant light made out of colorful drinking straws. I originally posted it in July 2008.
Like so many other projects I’ve done, it wasn’t a project that I did for my home (or a client’s home). It was just something that I envisioned, and I knew that my mind wouldn’t rest until I made it.
Which project has brought you the most traffic to-date?
Ha! There’s absolutely no question about it. My most popular project ever has been my chrysanthemum mirror made out of plastic spoons.
That project kind of took on a life of its own. I’ve been trying to figure out the magic formula that made this project so popular ever since I posted it, and I can’t seem to figure it out. If I could, I’d only need to blog about once a month to maintain a full-time income on my blog. And then I could publish my blog project secret, sell it as an e-book on my blog, and be set for life! Ha! How To Blog Once A Month And Make A Full-Time Income. A girl can dream, right?
How has keeping a blog changed you?
This probably sounds ridiculous, but my blog has been the tool that helped me “discover” myself, so to speak.
Before I started blogging, I was taking on interior decorating clients, making pretty good money, and always dreaming of the day that I’d have those high-dollar clients who could and would spend tens of thousands of dollars on one room of their home. Well, I finally got to have a few of those clients, and interestingly, the work bored me. It wasn’t exciting anymore. It felt like…well…work. I actually got to where I dreaded it. I got tired of looking at rooms filled with brand new stuff that had no age, no history, and no story behind it.
It was actually through the process of blogging that I discovered my love for shopping thrift stores, finding a diamond-in-the-rough, and having the immense pleasure of turning that diamond-in-the-rough into something truly special. I discovered my love (or more accurately, my preference) for doing things and making things myself rather than hiring people to do the painting, upholstering, and all of the other stuff that goes into decorating a room for a client…or for myself.
I learned that I much preferred putting on a t-shirt and jeans and getting my hands dirty sanding down an old dresser, or wading through piles of junk in the back room of my favorite thrift store in search of that one special thing, rather than getting dressed up and meeting a client at a furniture store so we could look through catalogs and stacks of upholstery fabrics to pick out a room full of brand new furniture.
I guess not everyone is cut out to live in (or decorate) rooms filled with tens of thousands of dollars worth of stuff. I’m sure not. It bores me. And I have blogging to thank for the fact that I now know that about myself.
What are your favorite kinds of posts to read/write?
My absolute favorite posts to read and write are room reveal posts. When it comes to really great blog posts, there’s nothing else that really compares in my mind to a reveal of a well-executed design plan in a post that has plenty of good before and after shots of the room.
But room reveals require a room makeover, which requires a lot of time and effort, and those are pretty difficult to crank out fast (at least, for me they are). So a close second would be DIY projects. I really love a well-written tutorial for a DIY project that includes large pictures of the step-by-step process. Even if it’s something that I already know how to do, or something I’ve already done myself, I’ll still enjoy a well-written tutorial, and I’ll take the time to look at every single picture if they’re large, quality pictures.
What advice could you give to other bloggers that you wish you had known before you started blogging?
I have three pieces of advice for new bloggers, or those who are thinking about blogging…
1. Be yourself.
The DIY/home/decorating niche has become so saturated that a new blog really has to have something unique to offer in order to stand out. And what’s unique about you?
You’re the only you there is. So use your unique voice, your unique home, your unique style, your unique experiences, your unique talents, and all of your other uniquenesses (is that a word?) to stand out. Don’t try to be someone else, don’t try to copy another blogger, and don’t try to fashion your blog after another blogger’s blog. That’s already been done. But what hasn’t been done yet in this saturated blog niche is that nobody has been YOU.
2. Bypass Blogger and start on WordPress.
And if you’re already on Blogger, get on WordPress as soon as you can. I can’t stress this enough. Blogger is for hobby bloggers, but it’s no place for serious bloggers. And the longer you wait to move, the more busy work you’re creating for yourself when you finally do decide to move (which you will…eventually…if you’re serious about blogging). Going back through years and years of post, reorganizing, re-categorizing, re-uploading featured images, etc….it’s a headache that you can avoid (or minimize) if you just GET.THERE.NOW.
3. Don’t start a blog to make money.
If money is your main motivation for blogging, you’ll burn out before you succeed. Blogging is probably one of the least effective ways to earn a living. I’m not saying it’s impossible. After all, I’m proof that it’s possible, and I could easily rattle off names of other DIY/decorating/home bloggers who are proof that it’s possible. But it takes a while to get there, so you absolutely have to LOVE what you’re blogging about. Blog because you love it, be consistent about it, offer high quality original content, and the rest will take care of itself.
Thanks so much, Miriam and Hometalk, for my opportunity to be In The Bloglight! It’s always fun and encouraging to look back over my years of blogging and reflect on my journey.