2nd Annual Blog Week

[Cue the confetti poppers!]

Welcome to The DIY Playbook’s 2nd annual BLOG WEEK, where we will be taking a break from all things DIY to chat about some behind-the-scenes blog tips and topics that often don’t get addressed around here. We have a whole a week of fun content based on our most frequently asked questions including:

  • Tuesday: How to make mood boards <– for rookies (like us)
  • Wednesday: What it’s like to run a business with your bestie… and our advice to others
  • Thursday: How we make money blogging <– and how you can too!
  • Friday: HILARIOUS Rookie Mistakes from our favorite bloggers <— stories from some of our favorite bloggers on some of their biggest DIY, decorating, and blogging rookie mistakes to date. Legit amazing.

But before we dive into all of that, today we are chatting about the STATE OF THE BLOG. Today’s post is a series of random updates that are happening behind-the-scenes of the blog, but never really make it into a post. Mostly because we can never figure out a clean and organized way to share this randomness. Think of this post as a pot luck of blog updates, and let’s be honest here, who doesn’t love a good pot luck!? <— especially when there isn’t any cooking involved!

Bridget_Casey_Chicago_Odyssey_Travel-13And speaking of our favorite. YOU GUYS, our amazing and supportive readers, are our absolute favorites and as a tiny token of our appreciation we’re hosting a giveaway to say thank you for your love and support!! More details and more mushy-gushy thank you’s at the end of this post.

Juggling our day jobs + the blogbedroom_mirror_navy_headboard_bridget-4

Emphasis on the “JUGGLE” because working full-time jobs and running the blog is a serious juggling act. Heck, all that juggling sometimes makes us feel like we’re those 2 crazy clowns in the circus. But to be perfectly honest, we wouldn’t have it any other way.

5-desk-area-cords-computerThis blog is our PASSION, our baby, what we look forward to working on every.single.day…. even if we’re up working on it way past our bed times. Yes it gets busy, and yes it can even get overwhelming, but we make it work because we WANT to. Do we think that maybe we can both blog full-time someday, without having to juggle our day jobs? Yes we do, but until then — a LOT more juggling. 😉

Fun Fact: Casey can actually juggle… like legit ‘three-balls-in-the-air-at-one-time’ type juggling! <– She’s probably horrified reading this right now, but she should know by now that any time I have the opportunity to brag about her, of course I’m going to! That’s what best friends do, right?!

Working with your Best Friendbirthday_casey_bridget_rookies_balloons_3-181

Spoiler Alert: there’s no drama, no fighting, and we can honestly say that we feel so grateful for the opportunity to work together. Since we get this question A LOT, we are actually dedicating a whole post on how it is for each of us to work with our bestie.  We’ll also dive into the tips we have for others who may be thinking about going into business with a bestie. As much as we LOVE it (it’s one of our FAVORITE parts of this whole journey), we would advise others to proceed with EXTREME caution. Weird, right?! Tune in Wednesday as we get personal & air our dirty laundry get totally real about how we make this relationship work (and actually thrive!).

Quarterly Meetings

Chicago_travel_sunsetWe briefly mentioned these before (I think?), but these meetings are definitely worth touching on again. Our quarterly meetings have a great impact on the state of our blog. As a group of 4 (us + our hubbies), we hold quarterly meetings to chat about the state of the blog, the blog’s finances, large purchases, future goals, etc. Our quarterly meetings also come with the DIY Playbook treating our VERY supportive hubbies to a double date night (our Q2 meeting was a sunset cruise.. so fun!).

We see these nights out as an investment in “team building” and a great excuse to “recharge” as a group… so much so that we just planned our Q4 meeting in Mexico for New Year’s!

Matt_finnThese quarterly meetings would not be nearly as effective without the help of Casey’s husband, Finn. He compiles our financial documents before every meeting, as well as an agenda, financial projections, and any other noteworthy information that needs to be discussed. We are SO lucky to have him and are SO grateful for ALLLLLLLLL of his hard work in handling all of DIY Playbook’s finances (without ever complaining).

Staying in our own laneEmoji Halloween Costume Bridget & Casey

This is still one of the best pieces of advice we’ve ever gotten (thanks Courtney!). Reading other blogs, following other bloggers via social media, and just staying up-to-date on what’s happening in the “blogosphere” can definitely lead someone into an ugly comparison trap — one that sucks away your creativity and forces you to think negatively about yourself. No thank you! For us it’s important to be aware of this trap so that we can avoid it at all costs. To do that we focus on staying in our own lane (we actually wrote a whole post about it here). We focus on us (and only us!!), what we can control here on the DIY Playbook, and in the process, are genuinely HAPPY for our blogging peers. We’re positive, happy people in real life and want this slice of the internet to reflect that.

Social Media Changes

Speaking of staying in our own lane, we really try to focus on this when it comes to social media.  There’s a lot of calculation, strategy and overall pressure that goes into using social media as a blogger. How do you grow your following? Are your pictures all “branded”? What hashtags are you using? How often do you post? At what time do you post? … and the list goes on and on and on. Holy stressful!

Obviously growing your audience via social media is a good thing. However, we don’t want to put pressure on ourselves and post/say things on our social media JUST to get followers. We want to be “us” and let our channels reflect who we are as people, which is a bit scary to put yourself out there for others to judge/comment on/gossip about/etc. Yikes! In the past, we haven’t always been super open or “personal” on our social media (i.e. Instagram) and kept our captions pretty general, but we have realized that sometimes it’s not JUST about the pretty picture, but it’s also about making connections with people (even if that comes at the risk of being vulnerable). We’re still navigating the waters, but being more real, candid, and just more open on social media is a goal we have and something we’ve been working on…. slowly but surely.

Stepping outside our DIY comfort zoneCasey-miter-saw-diy

And speaking of slowly but surely…. we are slowly but surely building up our tool collection and trying our best to step outside of our DIY comfort zone more and more (as evidenced by Casey’s guest room, her board and batten project, B’s new faucet, and her in-progress bathroom shiplap). We are really trying to make an effort to DIY with as little “help” as possible. Navigating these projects by ourselves has helped proved that we can do this! And if we can do these projects, we KNOW that you can too!

Of course B still loves to work with her dad, and sometimes we will have to hire projects out, but it’s empowering to tackle some of these larger projects (ones we would have NEVER been able to do alone just a few years ago), all by ourselves. #babysteps bridget-reading-directions-nail-gun

Learning & improving behind the scenes

bridget-casey-computer-bedroomThe blog has been experiencing some behind-the-scenes changes in order to improve the quality and experience for the reader. We recently had a tech team clean up the site so that it loads a lot quicker and is a lot more streamlined when it comes to all that techie stuff. It’s all a little over our heads, but anything that makes the blog quicker and more accessible is welcomed with open arms around here.

bridget camera coffee fall converse We also recently bought a new camera lens and have started editing our photos in Lightroom (since we hear that Picasa is not going to be around forever — teardrops) in order to increase our photo quality as much as possible. Now that we switched over, we feel like we should have made the switch to Lightroom about 3 years ago! <– that’s usually the story around here. We put off the switch forever and when we do finally dive-in, we love it and wish we would have done it sooner! 

Coming soon…

  • A new, much more efficient mobile site!
  • Hopefully more room reveals. <– Right now we’re working on B’s bathroom and Casey’s dining area. But we also want to dive into B’s neglected guest room!! #eek
  • More Video (see below for more details)
  • We’re attending the Haven Blog Conference in August and look forward to connecting with our fellow bloggers. We always leave feeling extra inspired and motivated to step outside of our comfort zone and look forward to seeing what this year’s conference has to offer. =)

More Video!!liberty mutual casey bridget

Our hyperlapse craft videos were such a hit, and we’ve been working on incorporating MORE of them, as well as more “just because” videos. We love creating video content (Casey does this for a living!) but making a video instead of a traditional blog post takes significantly more time, so unfortunately this isn’t always realistic. However, we’re trying to put a priority on video for the remainder of 2016.

Defining our individual styles

guest-room-gallery-wall-champagne-signThis is probably one of our biggest design related “goals” lately and one that doesn’t neatly fit into any specific category.Maybe we’ll put together a whole post on this if you guys are interested. In short, both of us are really working hard to identify our individual styles because we don’t think we’re quite there yet. We realize that coming to that “final conclusion” is definitely a journey, and right now we’re learning from our mistakes (and successes!).

bedroom_mirror_navy_headboard_bridget-7Our end goal is to both be able to confidently identify the look that is so US. We both want to nail down these answers before we ever move on to our “forever homes” and have been taking little steps in our real lives to hone these styles (i.e. only buying what we LOVE and not just buying because something is cute, being aware of how our personal fashion style influences our decor decisions, trying to identify what is “so us”, etc.).

The bloggers and style influencers that we love the most are ones who have totally NAILED DOWN their own style. If this is something that interests you guys, we’d love to document the journey a bit more via blog posts, but weren’t sure if this is a something that everyone would find valuable. Just a thought… and a topic that has really dominated our conversations lately.

Our ReadersChicago_Odyssey_Travel_ drink_cheers_champagne

And of course we saved the BEST for last. A state of the blog address would NEVER be complete without a BIG, SINCERE thank you to all of the AMAZING people who tune in everyday to read the blog, who leave sweet comments and suggestions, who email us questions or ideas, who follow us on social media, cheer us on, and most importantly, who make this WHOLE journey possible. We are forever grateful for your love and support and hope if nothing else, reading the DIY Playbook brings you a tiny bit of happy or inspiration each day.

We are all way too aware lately that the world is not always sunshine and roses, and we try to use this platform to focus on the happy, positive, fun-loving, light-hearted stuff while hopefully inspiring a few DIY rookies along the way. We want others to feel empowered to create a home that they LOVE because if we can do it, we KNOW that you can too!! From the bottom of our grateful hearts, thank YOU for being a part of the DIY Playbook team.

And because we want to CELEBRATE you, we are a hosting a giveaway and asking for a tiny bit of feedback. Use the Rafflecopter widget below to enter for a chance to win a $50 gift card to Target <—because everyone loves Target! Good luck!

a Rafflecopter giveaway
Bridget and Casey Signature