Warning: this is a wordy post!
Having a career apart from the blog is something I don’t like to mention here often, as I feel it comes across as a complaint or an excuse that I can’t produce content at the same rate as other bloggers that don’t have careers or full time jobs. While that is my reality, what I realized very recently is you can still be successful as a blogger, or have a successful online voice, even if you’re unable to produce content on the daily. I’ve been blogging for nearly 5 years now, and I figured I have a little nugget of encouragement I can share with folks who are thinking about starting a blog while balancing a day job.
These are the 5 things I believe have been key contributors to the successes this blog has achieved:
Be authentic – Readers will be interested in reading about you, your personality, your spin on projects, your voice – not you pretending to be Martha Stewart or faking your way like you’re a design professional when you don’t have a client to call your own. I am really sensitive to authenticity, most readers (most other bloggers, honestly) can see right through a fake voice. Sure, some bloggers become success by the numbers while not being purely authentic, but honestly, it doesn’t last. I’ve seen some bloggers flame out because they couldn’t keep the charade going any longer. Basically, be you, and be proud to be you.
Be nice – This is totally the golden rule, treat others as you would want to be treated. Folks don’t comment much on blog posts anymore, which is totally OK but as a blogger I know just how great it makes me feel when I receive a comment. I read each and every one, which leads me to believe that all other bloggers do too! If you want to grow your online presence and network, start by commenting on your favorite blogger’s posts. Interact with them on social media. Ask them questions that make them feel good, soon they will learn your name and click over to your blog, and hopefully find a friend in you. Most bloggers live, & love, to support each other. This is definitely a sure way to grow your network. Otherwise, how would other bloggers know who you are?
A hard and tragic lesson I learned his year is not everyone is capable of accepting someone’s kindness. I recently experienced this with a blogger I highly admire. I was always positive and encouraging in my comments. I connected with her style and even thought maybe one day we could be friends! I look back now and laugh at how that sounds, but I still love her content and appreciate the way she paves a path in this space. Unfortunately she took me being nice as a threat, actually accused me of not being authentic and original, and even went to the extent to infer I must not know what I’m doing and needed to be taught a lesson. Ridiculous, I know.
I still believe that being nice to others opens doors and generates friendships. I will continue to comment encouragingly, and work to build a network of bloggers that I can call my friends, and tell others that it’s one of the best pathways to growth.
Be original – I’ll be the first to admit, my early days of blogging were testing out projects that I saw other folks do. Paint a piece of furniture with chalk paint? You got it! Refinish a table and blog about the steps as if you’re the only one on the planet who knows how to do it? You got it! I didn’t know what I was doing in the beginning, and learned from others and shared what I did without a thought of originality. It didn’t take much time to realize in order to stand out amongst the crowd, I had to develop original projects and tutorials that folks hadn’t seen anywhere else. It still took me a LOT of time to grow into my personal aesthetic, so don’t beat yourself up if you don’t know what that is from go.
Authenticity and originality go hand in hand. You can’t be authentic if you’re not sharing original ideas and projects.
Don’t apologize – This one is tough. I used to be the type to overly apologize for things that I shouldn’t apologize for, for an error someone else made, for an awkward conversation, for my house being untidy. I realized in my late 20’s that I was beginning to not be perceived as an expert in my line of work, or being taken seriously. Sadly, being overly apologetic is actually known for being a female trait. I think it’s important not to apologize for things that you shouldn’t apologize for.
When it comes to the blog, if you haven’t posted for a week, don’t apologize! You don’t need to say sorry if you’re life prevents you from posting on your blog. Just pick up where you left off! If someone asks you why you haven’t posted, be confident and tell them the truth – sometimes life gets in the way. If you have a career, like I do, you’re providing for your family and that shit takes precedence. Trust me, your readers will understand without any explanation.
I like to think of apologizing and confidence as having an inverse relationship. The less you apologize, the more confident you become, and the more confident you are, the more people will trust you and look to you for guidance and expertise. Success is built on confidence, not apologies.
Know your limits & your boundaries – In the beginning of my blogging career, I thought success meant sponsored content. Of course it feels amazing when a brand you love wants to sponsor a post on your blog, and if you get big shot brands it makes you look wildly successful in the eyes of your peers and readers. But honestly, having purely sponsored content isn’t the end all for success anymore. Nowadays, many brands, even well known ones, take complete advantage of bloggers and ask them to essentially work for free. We could dedicate a weeks worth of posts on this topic, but bottom line don’t work for free if you feel you should receive compensation for your work. Placing a dollar value on your time is a line you’ll have to draw at one point or another.
For the longest time I was also terrified of declining a proposal for a sponsored post, thinking I should never say no. Once I started receiving requests from random companies to blog on topics completely irrelevant to the blog, I knew I had to start saying “no thanks”. I started setting more boundaries and limits to what kind of content I wrote about here on the blog. I was already battling the challenge of carving out enough time in the week to generate content for the blog, why would I waste it on content that doesn’t represent me or my voice or my style? I don’t remember exactly when it was, but there was a distinct moment I decided that from that point forward everything I post on my blog and on social media, sponsored or not, was going to be content I generated myself, rooms I made over myself, photos I took myself, DIY projects I created myself, etc. If the sponsor fit my design aesthetic, my project pipeline, my values, I would engage with them. I would rather not post for a day than post something irrelevant to the blog. This is perhaps the biggest limit or boundary I’ve set for myself and this blog, but at the end of the day I want my blog to be 100% me.
What I found over years of reading hundreds of blogs is, my most favorite bloggers to follow are 100% authentic, true to themselves, don’t pretend to be someone they’re not. They’re nice to others and supportive in this community. They create & share original content. Best of all, they don’t take themselves too seriously. It’s characteristics like these that make a blogger wildly successful.
I’m fast approaching my 5 year blogging anniversary, which is just a month away. Maybe it’s this milestone number, but I had started feeling insecure or doubtful about my online presence, like I hadn’t grown enough during these 5 years. It’s actually really stupid to feel that way, because earlier this year the blog was named by Domino as one of the top design blogs to follow. Also, our kitchen made it into print for the first time, April’s publication of Good Housekeeping! I might not have a husband who knows how to frame houses and reroute plumbing, or a studio space to house all my inventory (I store all my inventory in my garage! It totally pleases my husband, #not), but I think I am successful in my own way, and honestly that’s something to be proud of.
Merry Christmas! I hope you had a fantastic day, full of love and laughter. We had such a blast introducing Santa for reals this year. My MIL decorates to the nines with Santas of all shapes and sizes. Left and right I hear Zano say “ho ho” every time he spots a Santa figurine. It’s beyond adorable.
There are a few things I notice most around the holidays. Being a working mom, there are things I just can’t get to in a timely manner. I find myself shopping last minute, even though I started early. Wrapping gifts two days before Christmas well past my bedtime, and ordering holiday cards a week before Christmas. I think some families have it down – you take your holiday card photo on or before Thanksgiving, so once turkey day passes, you’re on it! Ordering cards for delivery weeks before Christmas and New Years. Instead of getting to mid December and thinking ‘dang, it’s too late’, I have to tell you my secret – Minted.
For the last couple years I’ve ordered our holiday card from Minted. Let me clarify, I rush-order our holiday card. Minted has so many options to customize your holiday card, and since I typically cut it close on time, I choose a style that suits post-Christmas delivery (as in, can also be received as a New Years or general Holiday card and not feel like it was a late delivered Christmas card. Trickery!)
My favorite selection Minted offers is the foil pressed cards. Think gold/copper/silver foil meets letterpress. The foil is shiny and so fancy looking, and the slight indentation from being pressed takes the design to the next level. I also love their new completely customizable cards where you upload your own image – check out the card Gwen’s kids created!
I ordered our cards Tuesday afternoon, and they arrived Friday. Talk about quick!
It was like pulling teeth, but I sort of got a family photo taken on Christmas day! There’s something about 19 month olds that makes sitting still, let alone looking at the camera, nearly impossible.
On a brighter note – I chopped my hair off! It was somewhat a dramatic/traumatic experience, but after a couple days its finally growing on me. Let me just say, it took two hairstylists and a lot of tears to get to this.
Merry Christmas!!! I’ll see you in the new year!
We had our first family photos taken by Jamie of Studio13Designs, who just so happens to be my sister’s best friend from grade school. I LOVE having a close friend who is a professional photographer! I’ve always believed everyone needs a professional photographer friend, just like you need a doctor or dentist, or plumber, in your family.
I always refer to Jamie as one of my good friends, but credit is all due to my sister who befriended such a talented individual! Jamie and I have a lot in common, we both share an insatiable need to be creative. While I am half-creative half-finance guru, Jamie is a pure artist, and when it comes to her camera, she thrives! She can capture beauty in unimaginable ways (and shares everything on her Instagram, @studio13designs). Her photos speak with depth and soul, which is strangely difficult to do! We bloggers tend to photograph immobile objects, like kitchens or sofas or bookshelf vignettes. We rarely have to think past placement and light source, Jamie thinks about personality and timing and laughter and genuine glowing happiness.
I didn’t spend a ton of time coordinating our outfits or ironing out wrinkles in our shirts. I wanted to have a casual session that represented our little family of three, and Jamie captured just that. I needed a haircut, and my husband forgot to gel his hair, but whatever, this is us and we’re pretty cute. And that baby, THAT BABY! We have ourselves a little Italian hunk, who looks increasingly more like my husband every day.
If you’re looking for a talented, bubbly, glowing, beautiful & amazing photographer – hire Jamie!
(this post is not sponsored, I truly love Jamie to death) and admire her talents
Alrighty. Confession time. I’m always guilty of letting a few days pass between posts, it’s normal for me (I blame the day job). What I am increasingly guilty of lately is allowing days that contain extremely exciting things, pass, which build up and build up and then I’m completely behind and don’t know where or how to share in a blog post. So let’s consider this blog post a compilation of things to get everyone (aka, me) up to speed, m’kay?
Remember last week? It was my 30th birthday (which I also have words for, btw) and I decided to celebrate by launching The Vintage Rug Shop. I gave all my readers and followers a few days advance notice to get the excitement up. Then people started asking me “well, what TIME are you launching?” Oh, I hadn’t thought that far. OK, um, MIDNIGHT PST. How’s that? So I stayed up until midnight, pressed the “launch” button thinking ‘everyone’s asleep I just hope I wake up with a sale or two’. Nope! 3 rugs sold within an hour. People had stayed up waiting for me to press “launch”! What the! I had the biggest fatty grin on my face and couldn’t go to bed until 2am. By 10am I had sold 7 of 9 rugs, and 10 of 18 pillows! Holy crap!!! I’m trying not to boast here, but I am quite literally in shock. With that said, I don’t know how to thank you all! Thank you for reading. Thank you for supporting me and following along this journey. I am SO excited to grow this thing. All I can do is hope you’ll spread the word 🙂
In case you’re worried about inventory, like “how many rugs can she actually have for sale?” trust me, I got this! My suggestion is, if you want to know when rugs will be launching, subscribe and you’ll be the first to know. With vintage rugs, each one is unique, and if you’re already on the hunt you definitely want to be first in line to see what we’re releasing.
Next fun topic – I have two legitimate client projects going on! Like, real people who want to hire me to help them with something! I actually really hate saying the word “client” because I feel like it should only be said by folks who are professionals, have a professional line of business and actually service clients on the regular. In the blog world, if you say “client” it feels less real, less genuine, as if I’m trying to appear like I’m a big shot. Trust me, I’m not. It’s just plain ol’ me squeezing all these fun things in between all the debits and credits of my day job. I’m just glad somehow I’m finding time to help these people. I’ll share more about these projects with you soon!
Have a happy hump day, friends!
I used to be a runner, did you know?? Half marathons were my thing. Then… I got pregnant and had a kid and now I’m a full time working mom with a 3 hour round-trip commute. Cue the music! But seriously, it’s a tough gig! Finding time to exercise has been SO difficult, especially considering I would have to give up the time I spend with my kid to exercise. Part of me I felt super guilty about any time I chose to work out over spend time with Zano, while the other part of me feels depressed and bummed out about turning ‘soft’. Is it so much to ask to fit into my pre pregnancy jeans?!
I started talking to some other working moms who seem to have their sh*t together, and spotted a common theme. They all wake up early (like 4-5 am early!!!) and do their exercises before the kids wake up, before breakfast, before traffic, before work… I was fully convinced I could never be a ‘super early’ morning person. Waking up before 7 am requires a bit of effort. BUT! I was determined, adamant actually, to change my routine so that I could squeeze in a workout before I actually start my day.
I read somewhere that someone said – if there’s something you want to do today, and doesn’t happen before 10 am, chances are it’s not going to happen.
It’s so true! How many times have I pushed off the day’s workout into the evening and ended up bailing on myself because ‘I had a long day’ or ‘I’m tired’.
Anyway, what I’m trying to get at here is, it’s officially been a full (work) week of me successfully waking up before 5:30 and squeezing in a workout before the day starts. I realize I might still be in the ‘honeymoon phase’ of this new routine, but I can’t tell you how emotionally pleased I feel. I feel energetic, happy, and best of all, guilt free! I can chill with my son in the evenings without feeling down on myself for not having exercised that day
I made some huge changes to my morning routine. I started putting my alarm in the kitchen, so that I have to exit my room and walk to the kitchen to turn it off. It helps me wake up! I also started setting up my workout station & gear before going to bed so I don’t have to think very much when I get up. I also made a point to get the appropriate training shoes. I’ve only owned running shoes, but come to find out running shoes are not good for your form when lunging and jumping and doing other cross training exercises. OH, and it doesn’t hurt that I found the cutest sports bra ever! I took advantage of the Labor Day sales 🙂
I’ve done the P90X workout routines in the past, my husband actually lost over 60 lbs doing the first installment. My biggest complaint has always been they’re such a time commitment. I’m not quite ready to do a 60 minute workout in the morning, but I can do a 30-40 minute routine! I’ve started the P90X3 series. I’m not super strict on the workout schedule and diet yet, and who knows if I’ll get there, but I do really like the workout routines. My abs and butt are totally sore! And just so you know, this isn’t a sponsored post, and in case you wanted to know, yoga is hands down my favorite routine in all 3 of the P90X installments.
I still run on the weekends. I found a jogging stroller on Craigslist and have been pushing the stroller while I run. It’s so heavy and hard!
Now that I’ve put it out there for all to see, it’s your turn to tell me how you all do it! I’m committed to this new routine, and hope I stay diligent in becoming a super early morning person!
Hello, hello! I’ve let a few too many days pass since the last post, sorry! It’s been an interesting last few months. Some of you who have been reading for a while know I’m a financial accountant in my day job (it’s as cool as it sounds). Well.. this past spring I was promoted to Controller (yay me!) and somehow my workload tripled and all my free time disappeared. The blog is taking the brunt of the suffering, which is in no way intentional. The hour or two I have each evening after the kiddo goes to bed, I’ve been working on a very exciting new venture: an online vintage rug & textile shop!
(pardon the crappy iPhone pic)
I have a few more very important things to do before launching, but if I were to ballpark a launch date (since everyone seems to ask!), it will most likely be 4-6 weeks from now. Starting a biz on your own dime is no joke, it takes time and patience! So, thank you for being patient with me, and I hope you’re as excited about this as I am!
Some other super fun updates – we had another bathroom mirror setback. I don’t know why this mirror became such a giant ordeal. I’ll have the full story for you soon, and I’ve been told it’s definitely being installed this week. I’m so over it.
On a brighter note, we’re teaching Zano how to play bocce ball!
Italians start ’em young 🙂 PS: how adorable are his sandals!
What did you do for Mother’s Day? I know it was a week ago, but I had such a wonderful first Mother’s Day, I can’t stop thinking about it.
There are a lot of things I like to do – hobbies I take on, like DIYing everything and interests I have, like blogging and decorating – that some people just don’t quite understand. I rarely force my interests and hobbies on others, including my husband. Prime example – flea markets! I think I’ve only asked my husband to go with me to the flea market twice in our history together. Both times he declined. It’s cool, I’d probably be miserable if he joined me. He’d be giving me death stares all too frequently as I touch ALL THE THINGS. Our marriage is better for it. He stays home to relax while I take a couple hours and touch other people’s garbage. It’s great!
It was my first Mother’s Day, and I think Antonio (my husband) knew it would be a special day for me. He gave me a choice between a) breakfast in bed or b) a family trip to the flea market. Well, first off, I never eat in bed, and as classic and delicious as that sounded, the way to my heart is through the flea market! We went fleaing together as a family of three. I swear, I’ve never had a better flea market day! I scored 3 killer rugs, and got to introduce my little family to all my favorite flea market vendors. Then, we grabbed a quick breakfast and shopped at my favorite cactus shop in Berkeley. As much as I love flowers, planting something in the back yard to commemorate this moment to me is much more meaningful. So, we bought two cacti to help us kick start our drought-tolerant backyard landscape.
I went to the flea market yesterday, and it just wasn’t the same without my family…
Happy Monday everyone! I’m over at my good friend Shannon’s blog, Burlap & Lace sharing some embarrassing things about myself (that I would never post on this blog!) – just kidding!
Pop on over and read some hilarious deets on these fine ladies. The entire series is so fun!
Make sure you swing by tomorrow, I have a killer giveaway up my sleeve…
Hello! I hope everyone had a fantastic last few days celebrating with family and friends and loved ones. We had a great time making my son Zano’s first Christmas a joyful memory. Did you catch his Christmas outfit? I had that vest/pants combo planned for over a year! The best secret to clothing shopping for your kids is to shop the post season sales for the following years sizes #genius. Sadly this doesn’t really hold true once your an adult. Super bummer.
SO! It’s that time of year we get to reflect on ALL this year has brought; all the projects, all the memories, all the ups and downs.. This year was quite conflicting, it’s been a tough and rewarding year, and honestly I’m glad to see it go. We experienced life and loss. We bought our first home and helped others in their struggle to keep theirs. We reached career milestones only to realize the fight isn’t over. 2014, you’ve been quite the feisty lady, but it’s time to turn the page. But! Before we do so, let’s take a quick trip down memory lane and check out all we’ve accomplished on the blog this past year:
The best thing we did to kick off the new year was finding out we were having a boy!
Talk about highs and lows, it wasn’t much later I found out my identity was stolen…
Arguably the second highlight of the year was when we bought our first house! It’s tiny but mighty!
Summer quickly came and we hosted a s’more party thanks to The Home Depot and the Patio Redux Challenge.
We were finally settling in to our new home also with a little help of sir DIY, our woven bench coffee table was quite a hit.
It took 3 long months but we finally completed the first major renovation in our home: the kitchen! And boy did you guys love it.
Not only did our kitchen get a makeover, our bedroom finally got a beautiful facelift!
I know I know, I’m one of those moms who hashtag their kid. Don’t judge me too hard.
It’s been a couple months since I posted a motherhood update. Let me be very clear, I LOVE being a mom. I love seeing this little nugget’s face in the morning, all smiles and cheeks, so innocently joyful for no reason whatsoever. My heart melts every day for this little kiddo. I can’t believe we created this little being, his little heart, his little lungs, his toothless grin, we created him and it blows. my. freakin. mind.
The first thing I tell couples who have no kids is this: there is absolutely nothing like the love you have for your child. There is nothing you can feel prior to having a kid that will compare. Nothing.
The other thing I tell couples is, as special and as extraordinary this love feels, it is SO common. Every mother and every father feel the love of this magnitude for their children. It baffles me that something that is so personal and so individualistic and so significant to us is commonplace.
Some other random tidbits I want to share now that I’m a mom:
- I can’t stop buying baby clothes. Baby jeans, baby sweats, baby Christmas sweaters, baby bear claw slippers, baby hats. All this baby-wear is the new hoarding, and I might have a problem.
- Every move he makes, every giggle, every fart, every roll, every wiggle, brings me blissful joy.
- This book saved me
- We’re officially sleep training as of last Friday. Now, he’s always been a decent sleeper, and because of the book mentioned above, he’s literally like a clock for naps and feeding, but the last 4 weeks or so he developed a bad habit of waking up every 2 hours at night (I blame Thanksgiving), and of course I couldn’t help but run to the rescue when he woke up. But no more! I can happily say that during the last two nights he’s slept at least 8 hours straight. SO! There is hope I will sleep again!
- I haven’t gone for a run in like 2 months. I feel so gross.
- Being a working mom sucks. Some moms love it, I know, but it’s the hardest thing I’ve had to do, besides childbirth.
- I will look at pictures and videos of him while I’m at work, with a big fat grin on my face. I will also show strangers and random coworkers pictures of Zano at any moment of awkward silence. His cheeks are the best ice breaker.
- I haven’t joined a mom group yet. I had it in my mind that I would hang out more with friends that have babies of similar age, but they either live too far away, or are as equally consumed by juggling work and parenthood that we just can’t seem to find the time to hang. Sometimes it makes me feel sad.
- We’ve only been to the theaters once since the baby was born, and that was to see Interstellar
- I am so fearful of having a second kid. I worry that there’s no possible way I could love two kids the way I love one. I know it’s an invalid thought, but it really worries me.
- What is the best time to have kid #2?
This is pretty much the most random post ever. I’d love to hear your thoughts! How did you feel when your first baby was 6 months old? How did you get the courage to have baby #2? What did you do to sleep train? What crazy things should I look out for in the next 6 months?