Celebrating 10 Years Of The DIY Playbook
On March 4th, 2013 the first ever blog post was published here on The DIY Playbook. About six months earlier, my best friend, Bridget, visited me at my then-home in St. Louis. At that time, we were both really into reading home blogs and we loved thrifting, making crafts, and making our homes look cute on a budget. During her weekend visit, we decided that we would try our hand at blogging and we came up with the name, The DIY Playbook.
Over the next six months, we worked on projects and secretly wrote blog posts for our new website. We kept it private, while we worked up the nerve to actually launch and tell people about it. We also wanted to make sure it was something we actually enjoyed doing, on top of our day jobs. As it turned out, we both loved it and we decided that on March 4th, 2013 we would launch the site.
Even though we were nervous, on the day it launched we emailed every person in our lives and told them to spread the word. Instagram wasn’t really a big deal yet, so email and Facebook were our best ways to market the website. It was official, The DIY Playbook was born and there was no going back!
I look back at that 24-year-old Casey and I’m so proud of her. It was a scary thing to put myself out there like that and I had no idea what I was doing. But from the moment I started this blog, it just felt right. I didn’t really care if people judged me or thought I was silly, I was having a good time, so that was all that mattered.
And man, I’m so happy that I stuck with it. Did I really think I would be doing this ten years later? Heck no. I had no idea what was in store for me back on March 4th, 2013. Yes, it was intimidating launching The DIY Playbook, but it’s been the most rewarding experience of my life and I’m grateful that I took the chance when I did.
I look back and see how much has changed over these ten years. In 2013, I was dating Finn, living in an apartment in St. Louis, childless, working on the blog alongside my best friend, and working full-time in television. In 2023, I’m married to Finn, living in a home in Chicago, raising two children, and running the blog by myself as a full-time content creator. Life has changed A LOT and if you’ve been here from the start then you’ve witnessed all of the bumps along the way.
Answering Your Questions
I asked for some of your blogging questions over on Instagram and thought it would be fun to dive into my answers.
How did you take the leap from a side hustle to a full-time content creator?
I worked full-time in television for the first five years of The DIY Playbook. I worked 45 hours of traditional work and then would come home and work at night and all weekend long on the blog. It was a lot (probably 70+ weekly hours), but I loved it! I didn’t have much of a social life, because my weekends were spent doing projects, taking photos, and writing posts. But, in the beginning, the DIY Playbook wasn’t making very much money. I did it because I was passionate about it, not for the non-existent paycheck. Gradually, the website grew and grew, and when The DIY Playbook was making more money than my day job, I took the leap to full-time blogger. It paid off.
How has the industry changed in the past decade?
It is so incredibly different now. Back then, it was all about the blog. Instagram wasn’t a thing, Pinterest was just beginning, and TikTok did not exist. We would do projects, photograph them, write a post, and then publish it. Boom, done. Now, there are so many things to do on top of the actual project. I’m getting videos for reels, stopping to showcase behind-the-scenes for Instagram stories, taking photos for the blog post and Pinterest, and then marketing the post on every social media site when it actually publishes. It’s way more work now than before and I never feel like I’m doing enough.
However, the industry has also evolved for the better. Being a content creator is a real full-time job and it’s a growing industry that gains momentum year after year. A decade ago, this job barely existed. Now, advertisers spend more money on influencer marketing than they do on traditional media, like TV, radio, and newspapers. And it’s only growing, with the influencer marketing industry reaching $16.4 billion in 2022.
How has your writing process changed?
Oh man, it’s totally changed! I look back at some of those early blog posts and they are so cringe-worthy. Back then, we would throw up a few photos and a few paragraphs and call it a day. Now, I write with SEO (search engine optimization) in mind, especially for more in-depth tutorials and projects. Most of my blog posts are over 1,200 words, with dozens of photographs and they take me days to complete. After doing this for so long, I can anticipate the questions that a reader might have and I do my best to include as much information as possible in the blog post. There are some old blog posts that still get comments asking for specific sizes or colors, that I failed to include in the post at the time. Now, I know better!
In terms of my process, I usually create an outline of the story and then go in and free-flow with my writing. Once it’s in a good place, I’ll add pictures and links to products or past blog posts. I read through it multiple times, schedule the blog post, and then send it over to my mom who is my final pass before it gets published here on the blog! She is on the lookout for any typos or broken links and I’m so grateful for her close eye!
How have your confidence and skills evolved over the past ten years?
They have evolved in every single way. My background is in journalism and storytelling and thankfully, that’s a big part of the creative side of this job. But, the other stuff, is all new and everchanging! I didn’t know anything about starting a business, finances, hiring contractors, negotiating, etc when I started back in 2013. But my motto is “Everything is figure-outable!” I remember Googling “How to buy a domain name” and that’s how I bought my site.
From the business side, I’m constantly learning as I go. Years ago, I didn’t know how the heck to read a contract or negotiate with a brand and now that’s a daily part of my job. Practice makes things easier, but there is always more to learn.
As for the DIY project side of things, that has evolved too. Back when we started, I didn’t own one power tool and I barely knew how to hang a picture. With each project (and failure), I learned a bit more and applied it to the next project and then the next. I’m still learning, and always will be. That’s what makes this job fun!
When it comes to confidence, I think I’ve gained more since becoming a mom. I just don’t have time to second-guess myself or care what people think. I’m more sure of myself, my values, and what I want to contribute to the world.
How far in advance do you work on content?
I plan out my editorial calendar two to three months in advance so I have an idea of what projects are coming up, and when. But when it comes to actually writing the blog posts or editing the reels/photos, that’s usually about 2-3 weeks in advance. Big projects definitely affect this, though. Lately, I’ve had so many big projects happening and when all of my working days are devoted to DIY (i.e. demoing a bathroom, tiling a floor, adding a wood accent wall), I can get a bit behind on my computer work (i.e. writing blog posts, responding to emails, reading contracts, etc.).
Some content creators share more in real-time, but I’m more of a planner and like to have things ready to go well ahead of time!
Have you met the goals you’ve set over the years?
My personality is definitely wrapped up in achievement and I’m someone who strives to reach my goals. Every year, I sit down and create goals for my business. It’s usually a mix of wanting to hit a certain financial target, gain more pageviews on the site, and accomplish specific projects – like last year’s Feel Good Makeover. Every quarter, I sit down and reassess and figure out what changes I need to make so I hit my yearly goals. For the most part, I hit my goals, but I also add some stretch goals in there too, and I miss the mark sometimes.
Do you see yourself hiring more staff in the future?
As of now, I just have my amazing virtual assistant, Lindsey, who helps me on a daily basis. I also contract out specific tasks, like web updates, SEO, graphic design, etc. At this time I don’t have a need for a larger team, so for now, I’ll say “No.”
What’s Next For The DIY Playbook?
Oh man, this is the golden question. To be honest, I don’t really know. I’ve been lacking clarity lately, which really isn’t like me. As I just mentioned, I’m a goal-oriented person and in the past, I’ve always reached for more, more, and more. When I sat down to create my goals for 2023, I wasn’t quite sure what I wanted to include. Is more money, more pageviews, or more sponsorships really going to fill my cup? Not really.
I’m in this stage of life where I absolutely love working (it truly does bring me so much joy), but I also want to soak up as much time with my kids as possible. Five years ago, The DIY Playbook was my one and only baby. Now, I’ve got two real babies who take up lots of my time and energy. And I wouldn’t have it any other way!
So where does that leave me? I guess, just in a state of appreciating what I have now – time with my kids, a devoted Playbook community, a job that I love, and a comfortable house that I’ve built with my own two hands. Nothing will be changing in terms of content quantity or quality. I think it’s more of a mindset shift and being content with the way things are at this very moment, while also being open to whatever may come my way in the future.
The Number One Question…
But, the question I do get ALL.THE.TIME. is…”Your house is almost done, what’s next?!” I still have projects that need to happen around here. Do we have huge renovations left to do? Not really. But I’m excited to work on more attainable content surrounding organization, home decor, and design. Some of my most popular blog posts are the little projects – like last summer’s closet overhaul. We still have plenty to do around here and I’ll be continuing with my reader design dilemma and reader home tour series.
We do know that this isn’t our “forever home”, but we don’t have an exact plan for where we want to move next. Stay in the city? Move to a suburb? Try a new city on for size? It’s all up in the air and we’re hoping to make some more concrete decisions before our kids head to school. For now, we’re enjoying the house we’ve worked so hard to create over the past four years.
Celebrating Ten Years
To celebrate this milestone as a content creator, I’m heading to Italy with a group of readers next month. We have a group of 14 amazing women and it will be so fun to connect in person in such a beautiful destination. As for the home front, Finn and I have a nice dinner planned to celebrate ten years of this business. I’m guessing lots of champagne will be consumed…
In the end, The DIY Playbook is nothing without the continuous support from this community. You guys have been with me for so many life milestones – from my wedding, to our infertility struggle, taking the blog on my own, buying a house, and welcoming each of our children. Even though my life has changed dramatically over this past decade, The DIY Playbook community has been the one constant through it all. So thank you for showing up for me. I’ll continue to do the same for you.
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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.