Hello friends, it’s just an ordinary Wednesday for most, but for me today marks three years blogging here at this site. Looking back, I’m rather proud of everything that’s happened to date and very excited for what the future brings. I still find it a bit surreal that this hobby-turned-real job thing happened to little ol’ me.
The first thing I want to say is thank you to all of you who come over to visit with me, who leave such nice comments, and who interact with me via email and on social media.
I also need to thank all of the DIY and design bloggers and businesses out there who’ve been incredibly supportive, welcoming, and encouraging – you really are such an amazing community and I’m honored to be a part of this online movement to better our lives and homes through good design and a can-do attitude. And also thank you to my contributors, Courtney, Amanda, Michelle, and Abi – they’ve helped so much with this site!
My second year of blogging brought some fantastic features my way including partnering with DIY Magazine, working with Matthew Mead for Holiday Magazine, and I also had my home featured in Better Homes & Gardens Christmas Ideas magazine. Just this week, the blog hit 27 million pageviews, which I still can’t wrap my head around but those are the stats.
Last month, I partnered with four other bloggers to write the Growing Your Blog Series (links to all five posts are there – it’s a great read) but today, I’d like to offer some words of encouragement and a few thoughts on what I think is the key to a successful DIY blog.
Hard Work. Grandpa would always repeat that success comes from timing, luck, and circumstance – yep those certainly help, but I’d add hard work as the most important thing. There’s not an hour that goes by that I’m not thinking about what I do, what to write about, and what project to tackle next. So for those of you new to this blogging gig, know that every single DIY blogger out there that you read that is also successful does the same thing, they work very hard. Between planning the projects and completing the projects and photographing the projects and editing and labeling and watermarking the images, and then writing the post, it takes many many hours just to get to the point where any of us are ready to hit “publish”.
Also a successful DIY blog does not happen overnight, it takes years of plugging away to build a readership and get recognized, so just keep going! We all start from zero – zero followers, zero comments, zero pageviews, but know that with a lot of hard work, good things will happen to you. Put the hours in, and you’ll eventually have an entire gallery of ideas to show for it.
Courtesy and Kindness. Each and every encounter with your readers, with media, with public relations, and with other bloggers is a human interaction so at all times remain positive, professional, courteous and kind. It doesn’t mean be a “yes” person to every person or opportunity, it simply means to treat people with respect, and use common courtesy in your daily blog interactions, you’ll be remembered for it.
Navigation. The nature of a blog is an online journal, which means after a few days your posts get buried under new content. However, your best work should be easy to find so place your best ideas, posts, or projects either in your sidebar or set up a page dedicated solely to them. My site navigation is still not anywhere near perfect, but you can find a link to just about any project I’ve done in my Project Gallery (except for the case of the disappearing images from summer 2009 – still working on that conundrum) and most articles on decorating are in the Style Files. And I just realized I’m behind on updating that… more work to do there.
Photography. I’ve written before about why it’s so important to take decent pictures of projects or spaces. Whether you do it with a point-and-shoot or DSLR is up to you, but lighting lighting lighting is the number one thing to master. Here are nine other basic tips for better interior photography that I’ve learned along the way.
Don’t Sell Out for Stats. I’m convinced that the great bloggers have figured out how to stay true to their brand and decline anything that doesn’t fit within that definition. The bigger your blog grows the more solicitation you’ll receive from other online individuals to “help you” increase your numbers – be wary. Sometimes those offers are a good match, more often they’re revenue or traffic hunters. Be discriminating with who you partner with or promote, who you exchange links with, who you allow to guest post, etc. All of those decisions define who you are. Never be afraid to graciously decline any “amazing” opportunity that simply doesn’t work for you.
Recognition. There are others in your niche that are doing great things so spread the love around and share the talent that you see. It’s impossible to read all the blogs and see all the things, so readers appreciate when you share the greatness of others. It’s why I write the Best of the Blogosphere series twice a month, because I believe very deeply that it’s important to lift up others in your blog community.
Enthusiasm. Yes, finally, what really is the most important thing of all is your enthusiasm for the subject matter. The number one key to successful blogging is to write about what you love. Cliché? Who cares – it’s the solid gold truth. When it’s genuine, passion is contagious and your readers will know it.
So that’s it folks, the bottom line is to work hard, be nice, have a site that’s easy to navigate, choose your partnerships wisely, promote others, and most of all, be enthusiastic!
And know that much of this is still surreal to me. I’ve always loved home improvement and design and do-it-yourself projects, it’s what keeps me away awake at night, and yet the fact that I get to write about it is the coolest job ever.
So thank you. None of this would be possible without your visits, your support and encouragement, you are the reason this adventure continues. I read every single comment and do my best to respond to questions when I catch them. Between managing the blog and all my family obligations and some of the other good things going on behind the scenes right now, it’s simply impossible to respond to every comment, but know that I read every single word. You make me smile, laugh, think and spellcheck, you give me tips on where to find this or that, and you share your projects and ideas with me and I can’t thank you enough.
2012 will be big, here’s what it will bring.
More DIY projects, more home improvement, and more articles about decorating – those are my passions and that’s what I’ll continue to write about. And the occasional recipe or regional outing.
I will continue to promote others who do great things.
I will partner with quality brands with whom I share common interests.
I was going to do an official survey today but found those online survey companies want significant dollars for me to collect just a little info, so instead I’ll just ask these three questions here and feel free to share (or not!)
1. What are your favorite kinds of posts (DIY projects, decorating articles, personal quirky posts, etc.)
2. Is there anything that would make the site navigation better for you?
3. Any other questions you’d like me to answer, something you wanna know?
I’ll try to answer some of these questions in the comments today or in a follow up post! But again, thank you so much for sticking with me on this crazy fun journey.