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  • How to be a Successful Blogger with a Full Time job

    brittanyMakes

    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.

    eclectic seating | brittanyMakes

    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.

    DIY Copper Laptop Table | brittanyMakes

    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.

    brittanyMakes

    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.

    LoveB
    1. Who one earth would accuse you of not being authentic and original?!?! I love how you march to the drum of your own beat and I’m hoping that I’m being perceived as doing so as well. I know I have the part about not taking yourself too serious covered ;)
      And I’m still working on not being apologetic about things but as I’m getting older I tend to find it easier not to as well.
      These are some great tips there my friend.

      1. Thank you Julia! You are one of my favorite blogs to read, and I’ve learned so much from your authenticity and originality, I hope you know that! And it took me a while to get over the situation that happened, I realized that she doesn’t know who I am and obviously doesn’t read my blog lol, because it just didn’t make sense to me. Haters gonna hate I guess :)

    2. Thank you Elizabeth! And you’re absolutely right, success is absolutely measured in different ways! I’ve never believed success is in the numbers.

    3. Thank you Summer! I think we all get discouraged more than we should for sure! You are so successful in what you do, definitely something to be proud of!

    4. Thank you so much Emily! I’ve always appreciated that about you too! And I cant believe 5 years, man I was a baby when I started haha.

    5. Oh Mandy, thank you, that’s really kind of you to say! I’ve always felt the same about you! And honestly i dont know if I’d call my scrambling “keeping up” haha :P

    6. Thank you Courtney! And I agree with you, there is this message that in order to be successful as a blogger you can’t have a day job or a career, and if you dont get to a point where you can quit your day job for your blog, you’re not successful! I just want folks to hear that they can reach levels of success without doing that. I hope folks got that message :) PS I love your etsy shop, and actually found your post for shiplap walls because I have been wanting to do this in one of our rooms but didn’t want to spend a boat load of $!

    7. Thank you so much for writing this post! I’m a family nurse practitioner (by day) with a voracious appetite for interior design and home improvement. My busy career in healthcare does not allow me the creative outlet I desperately need. My friends and family have encouraged me to start a blog, but I’ve talked myself out of it time and time again because I didn’t think I could keep up with content. You’ve given me hope! Thanks for honesty. BTW, Love your blog!!

      1. I must agree with your family and friends – start a blog! It will be that creative outlet you are looking for. It can be really rewarding, and the aspect I enjoy most is sharing my passion with like minded women across the world, people i would call friends yet maybe we haven’t actually met in person. TI’s a really neat network, and a really fun thing to be passionate about. Do it, do it!

    8. thank you for posting this! I’ve been blogging off and on for about 3 years on a few different blogs. I sometimes get discouraged trying to balance first law school now being a lawyer with a blog. But honestly the creative outlet in itself even without any recognition or “success” is all I’m looking for! Once I realized that, it truly was enough and anything else is just a bonus!

      Keep on keeping on!
      – Bonnie @ Busybonnie.com

      1. Being a lawyer is badass! The fact you can utilize both sides of your brain, the creative side and the pragmatic side, sets you apart from others. I completely understand the discouragement, it’s something I battle frequently. Like you said, just having a creative outlet is something to be happy about!

    9. Thank you so much Sofia, that is really nice of you to say :) I totally remember the coral dresser lol, I was so proud of that piece! thank you for sticking around all this time!

      1. Ahh yes, I am! I try to hide it lol! i’m happy to hear you’re one as well, I definitely feel less alone now! xoxo

    10. You’re awesome and I love this! Blogging is about authenticity and originality and the rest is what you want it to be, which is why it’s so great! You don’t have to blog 5 days a week and have a team to be successful (thank goodness!)

    11. Great post! I definitely agree with all of your points. It is very impressive that you keep up with your blog, day job, being a mom AND running the rug shop!!!! (Speaking of the rug shop, I’m on the lookout for a mostly blue rug… love the ones you just posted!)

    12. Wow! I love this post. And it’s the first post I have ever read on your blog. (Discovered your Himmeli table project on Home Depot and followed the link back to your blog.) Even though I am not a crafts and interior blogger anymore (moved on to another topic), I took so much from this post. You address things that I experience too – balancing a career with blogging, the guilt attached to delayed posts, the need for an authentic voice, the potential of conflict with fellow bloggers, even the overcompensating with apologies. Thanks for sharing your opinion and your experience. There were a few pointers in that. I’ll definitely share this post to my network. – Oh, and continued success with your beautiful blog. I love your style, and I love your amazing ideas.

      1. Welcome to the blog! haha, and what a first post to read :P I’m glad you liked the first post, thank you!

    13. Love this post and your blog! I am not a blogger, just a reader. But I can still totally understand how challenging it must be to balance everything. As a faithful reader, I would much prefer to see fewer, more-authentic posts rather than daily posts that are just noise. Keep doing what you’re doing, it’s what keeps me coming back! xo

    14. You nailed it on the head, it took me too long to realize she is the insecure one, and bullying me was uncool. I think I handled myself well but think back and wish I hadn’t apologized because I hadn’t done anything wrong. My no-apology pointer definitely stemmed from that situation. I’ve always loved you and the fact you’ve always done you. Thank you for always supporting me and this weird blog of mine :) I really value you!

    15. Thank you so much for posting this! I am new to blogging and just starting out my DIY blog, so it is very nice to have an experienced perspective to learn from! Thanks for these great tips! :)

    16. I really appreciate this kind of post! I blog but don’t really consider myself a blogger (if that makes any sense at all.) I have a full time job and time with my family will always take precedent over creating content. In this world, it is difficult not to equate followers and sponsorship with success or validation. It’s nice to be reminded that we all blog for different reasons and to find satisfaction in that fulfillment.

    17. Hi Brittany! This was such a refreshing read…thank you! I’ve been blogging for almost one year (almost out of pampers..haha!). The pressures of blogging can be so challenging and balancing it all with life and family. I needed to hear your words today and I’m so happy to hear your authenticity! Congratulations on 5 years! That’s a great accomplishment and a lot of work! Keep on inspiring girl!

    18. Great tips! Blogs that don’t feel authentic have been the biggest reason for unfollowing, so it is always refreshing to see people keeping it real.

    19. Britttany,
      This post is so inspiring! I added you to my blog roll a few years ago because I love your voice, and you always have something wonderful to share with your audience. I appreciate the fact that you are able to have a career outside of blogging, be a wife, a mother, and an entrepreneur while managing to balance it all with style and grace.

      I started my blog as a creative outlet after college when I began working full-time. It was very, very easy back then. When social media came along and amplified the success factor, it became very daunting. I just liked blogging for me, and it was icing on the cake if someone else read it, or made a comment in my little corner of the internet.

      It’s gotten harder every year since then because life truly gets in the way, and I would apologize profusely to my tiny audience, even though my blog is completely unmonetized. Every now and then I would get approached by companies who wanted me to write sponsored content (but offered no compensation) and I obliged because I thought that I had to in order to grow my audience. How silly of me. People will follow along because they like what you have to say, not what others have told you to say, and that was a big lesson for me.

      Now I only have a limited amount of time to dedicate to blogging, and I would like to say what I want to say, if that makes sense. Seven years later, I’m still blogging, but sporatically when life allows. Still, it’s hard not to compare myself to full-time bloggers who started only two years ago, and already have 20k followers. I’ve decided to just take it one day at a time, focus on my authentic voice, and stop beating myself up. :)

      Thanks so much for the advice and for keeping things in persective. Your home, your family, and your ambition are all so beautiful. You are my blogging super hero.

      1. I love your note, thank you for being so open and sharing your experience too! It makes me feel great knowing this resonates with you, with anyone at all actually! And congrats on keeping things going for 7 years!

    20. Such as a nice blog and your idea are amazing. I am very glad your blogger and you always have something wonderful to share with your audience. People will follow along because they like what you have to say. We manufacture Our Hafiz Encore Collection in Belgium on the State-of-art looms and our Venice and Rumi Collection in Turkey.
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