You Asked, We Answered: Blogging FAQs
Pssst…It’s our blog’s 2nd birthday this week, so we’re getting a little off course when it comes to blog content. So instead of DIY’s & home decor…we’re giving you some behind the scenes scoop about us and the DIY Playbook. Don’t worry, we’ll be back to our normal DIY ways on Friday!
An alternative title to the post could have been “The Women Tell All.” Because that’s exactly what we’re doing…telling you all about what really goes on around here.
Now there probably won’t be any crying, screaming, or Bachelor-filled drama…but we promise we’re giving you the juicy truth about what really goes into blogging.
How do you come up with content?
Because we always have SOMETHING that needs to be done around the house, we are never short of content. Actually, there are often times when we want to tackle more but just can’t fit it into our editorial calendar. Like we mentioned before, we are usually tentatively “planned” about 2-3 months out on the blog. Because we both work, it’s extremely important that we keep our blog calendar organized and know exactly what is coming up. Yes, that sometimes changes… but for the most part this pre-booked calendar allows us to tackle our home’s to do lists without running out of content. <– A win-win situation in our Playbook!
How do you find the time?
As you probably read in our Day in the Life post, we blog every chance we get. But honestly, it’s not just about “finding” time, it’s about “making” time. Sure there are many other things we could be doing on our weeknights and weekends, but we choose to blog because we love it. It’s been so fun for us to watch our small business grow and we want to see where this takes us…so every minute is so worth it.
What kind of photography equipment do you use?
When we first started blogging, we knew we would have to invest in DSLR cameras in order to achieve great photographs. So I (Casey) purchased a Nikon D3100, while Bridget purchased a Canon Rebel T3i. We were so excited to get our cameras and instantly have amazing photographs. But…that wasn’t exactly the case. In fact, for the first 6 months of blogging our photos were pretty darn terrible. We assumed that a nice camera = nice photos. But it wasn’t until we both got used to shooting in manual that our photos really went to the next level. We took the photography 101 class from Shoot Fly Shoot and it definitely helped us both feel more comfortable with photography. Our first big purchase of this year was a Canon EOS 70D. We’re still playing around with it, but are already in love!Our Photography Advice:
- Choose Nikon or Canon – From the start, we should have gotten the same camera. We’re buying new lens and accessories, and often times they only work with a certain brand. Now we’re both so comfortable with our own brands, and it’s going to be hard to switch to one. We did decide that we’re getting on the Canon train with out new Canon 70D, so I’ll have to say bye to all of my Nikon gear eventually.
- Accessories are Key – We now have 2 light kits, tripods, Nikon 50mm lens, Canon 50mm lens, a remote control shutter release (for pictures when we have no photographer on hand!), and a boom mic (for more videos!)
- Keep Practicing – We are learning more about photography every time we pick up our cameras. If you want to get better, you’ve gotta practice!
Do you guys ever disagree on content for the blog?
Ha! This is a great question. Even though it sounds lame, the answer is “not really.” We’re often pretty aligned with what we want to put on the blog. Most of the time we’re blogging about what we’re already doing in our everyday lives. So if Bridget is putting backsplash up, then she’ll blog about putting the backsplash up.
If anything, we mostly disagree about when something is worth blogging. When you’re just doing something small (buying a new accessory, tweaking a small area of your house) it can sometimes feel like it’s not worthy of an entire blog post. But we’ll often encourage one another to blog about the big stuff, and the little stuff. Nothing seems too small to share with you guys.
Also, Bridget was pretty obstinate when it came to the hair tutorial post and I pushed her to make it happen. In the end it turned out to be an amazing post and we’re both so happy she blogged about how she curls her cute hairdo.
But overall, the answer is … No, we don’t really disagree about content.
How does the blog affect your friendship?
We’ve been fortunate that the blog has brought us closer together, instead of tearing us apart. It can be difficult to go into business with someone who is close to you, but for us it has worked out wonderfully! We think it works so well because we have similar work ethics and goals for the blog.
But we must say that it can be hard to just be “best friends” and not “best friend bloggers”…if that makes any sense. We always have the blog on our mind, so it can be difficult to step back and just enjoy a non-blogging day together. We’re trying to be better at it because first and foremost we’re friends.
Let’s chat MONEY: How do you make money from the blog? When did you start making money? When will you blog full-time?
This is definitely the #1 question we receive from people (and they say it’s not polite to talk about money. Ha!) Let’s first say that we didn’t start a blog to make money, and we definitely didn’t earn much starting off. In fact, for the first 6 months or so we didn’t even have 1 ad on our site. Eventually, as our numbers grew, we started to monetize our site. Honestly, we just wanted to make a few bucks to offset some of our supply costs, so if we only made $5 a month, it would still be awesome!
Ads: We started by adding a couple of Google Adsense ads to our sidebar, and then eventually joined a few ad networks. We knew we didn’t want a ton of ads cluttering our site, but we also think it’s okay to make money based on the amount of time and effort we put into our daily blog content. Because we’re not very techy, it became really hard for us to manage our ads and to monetize them correctly…so last year we hired someone to take over that role for us. We’re still working out the kinks, but our ads are making more money than before. Nothing that could supplement our current incomes, but a nice little cushion for project supplies and blog costs.
Sponsored Posts: We also make money by hosting sponsored posts here on our site. We enjoy the opportunity to review new products, share products we already love with you, and host giveaways. However, we try to keep sponsored posts to a minimum. We work extremely hard to make sure these paid opportunities are a natural part of our content and not “too sponsor-y”. To be honest, we turn down about 9 out of 10 opportunities to write sponsored posts. We’re a little protective about what we put on this site and take your trust in our word very seriously. Unless we love the product and are confident that our readers will also love this product, we kindly decline the opportunity.
Writing Elsewhere: And the last way we make money is writing for other sites. We write a weekly post for HireAHelper blog. We absolutely LOVE working with their amazingly creative team and have been writing for them for a little over a year. We believe in their business and are honored to be a part of their team. We also contribute to Houzz.com and a few other places less frequently. This is definitely a part of blogging we didn’t anticipate, but one that helps off-set blog costs.
What’s been the most unexpected part of blogging?
Hands down the most unexpected part of the blog is the business end of The DIY Playbook. Wow, we had literally NO idea how much time and work goes into the “business” side of a blog. From our first steps of obtaining a LLC for the DIY Playbook, to opening a checking account, creating contracts, filing taxes — you name it, we are such business rookies. Thankfully, Casey’s husband Finn puts A LOT of time in to help keep our finances in order. He is also really great at making sure we are improving as small business owners at every opportunity we can. We’re extremely lucky to have such an amazing support system, and especially lucky to have hubbies who take our passion seriously and continuously push us to be better.
If you had a do-over, what would you do differently when starting the blog? Any tips for new bloggers?
Looking back, there are definitely things we would do differently but that’s easy to say knowing what we know now. When we started the blog, we knew NOTHING about the blogosphere (beyond what we read on our favorite blogs)! We did not have a clue about the “behind-the-scenes” computer work, photography work, business work, tax requirements, expense reports, and the list goes on and on and onnnnnnnn. Now that we have this new knowledge and have made our share of mistakes, here are a few tips we would give to a new blogger:
1. Start on WordPress! (Sorry Blogger, we LOVED you and are so grateful that you helped get our baby blog started.) However, if we were going to do it all over again, we would have started our blog on WordPress from the start for a million different reasons.
2. Get a DSLR Camera & learn how to use it: Photos are such a big part of any blog so investing in a nice camera is totally worth it. But like we said, buying a nice camera doesn’t automatically mean amazing photos. Put time into learning how to use that camera– it’ll be well worth it for both you and your blog. Also, don’t rely on other people to take photos for you…a tripod and a shutter release remote control will be your best friend!
3. Treat it Like a Business: If you want to make your blog a business, you need to treat it like a business. It’s that simple.
4. Unplug!: We’re working on taking this advice more often. It seems simple, but for some reason, it’s one of the hardest lessons learned. We’re trying…. we promise!!
5. Do what feels right to YOU and your style/voice: There’s so many opinions out there as to how many times a new blogger should post, what the content should look like, what social media numbers a blogger needs, etc. etc. etc. etc. O-V-E-R-W-H-E-L-M-I-N-G if you ask us!! We think you need to do what’s right for your style and your voice. If that means posting once a month or posting twice a day — do it! It’s your blog, your slice of the internet … OWN IT!
I’m Casey Finn, the voice behind The DIY Playbook. I’m married to Finn & mom to Rory and Ellis. Together we’re creating our dream home in Chicago, one DIY project at a time.