Last year, right around this time, I told you guys that I quit my job in television and I was working as a full-time blogger. Per usual, you were incredibly supportive and excited for me! And it has been quite the year in my new career. I figured I should check in and let you know how things are going and discuss our plans with the blog for the year ahead.
Life as Full-Time Blogger
I juggled my full-time job and the blog for 5 years. And it was chaotic…to say the least. I didn’t have a social life, I didn’t get enough sleep, and I was constantly on the go! We certainly never started the blog with any intentions of turning it into a job (hell, we didn’t even think that blogging could be a job back in 2013!). Instead, Bridget & I blogged because it was fun and gave us a creative outlet and a place to share our most recent DIY projects.
But as the blog continued to grow and become profitable, we both started “dreaming” about doing this thing full-time. In 2017, with Bridget pregnant and the blog flourishing…it made sense for me to leave my career in television production and devote all my hours to The DIY Playbook. It was a scary leap (that’s for damn sure), but it’s one I’m soooooo grateful I made.
So let’s discuss the good, the bad, and what’s coming up in 2019 for me as a full-time blogger.
There has been soooo much good that has happened from this transition to blogging full-time, both for my personal life and for The DIY Playbook.
More Time for Fun
As I mentioned, I really didn’t have much of a social life for those 5 years. I’d get to bed early on Friday nights after work, so I could wake up early and do projects and take pictures for the blog. Then on Sundays, I would edit all of those pictures and prep posts for the week ahead. On weeknights, I’d write blog posts, moderate comments, and do the other 1,000 tasks that come with the blog.
I said “no” to so many weekend outings because I felt guilty not devoting those hours to my blog load. As a girl who was (then) in my 20’s, I missed out on a lot of fun activities with my girlfriends and husband.
Now, I try to keep my weekends free for fun and rest. Honestly, it took some time to get used to that. I’m not good at sitting still and relaxing and often feel guilty “wasting time.” But as the year progressed, I got better and better about devoting Saturdays to fun and Sundays to rest (I call it self-care Sunday!). This makes me ready (& excited) to get back to work on Monday and have a productive week.
I’ve reconnected with a lot of friends and now say “yes” to happy hours, dinners, and weekend brunches. I’m still working on nourishing those friendships because like any relationship they take work. But I’m happy that I have more of a social life in my 30’s than I did in my 20’s!
Behind-the-Scenes Blog Improvements
For those 5 years, Bridget and I were doing all of the surface-level tasks to keep the blog up and running. And there was a lot of backend work we always brushed aside, simply because we never had extra time to tackle it. Now, I actually have time to get to all of those things we wanted to do “someday.”
SEO (search engine optimization) is crucial for any website and it’s something we neglected…well, forever. We have almost 2,000 blog posts (isn’t that crazy?!) and many of those posts were not optimized or updated. We hired a team to work on this over the course of 2018 and I’ve been spearheading the effort. Because of this, our site has improved, pageviews are up, and old posts are updated.
We Feel More Legit
From the start, Finn has always encouraged us both to treat The DIY Playbook as a business. Even in the beginning when we were making a whopping $2 a month, we were constantly goal setting, holding meetings, and talking about the future of our small business. Today, I feel like things are more legit than ever. We hold quarterly meetings, do team outings, and have even rented office space for our big team get-togethers.
We’ve also been able to accept more opportunities with brands, when before we simply didn’t have the time to nourish all of those partnerships. Bridget and I spoke at an event in Chicago in the fall, and I’ll be speaking at another event in Las Vegas in May (Bridget won’t be able to fly because of the baby). These are things we always wanted to do before, but now I can really devote the man hours to every aligned opportunity that comes our way!
Now I certainly don’t want to make it thing like things are always happy and amazing around here. It has been a hard transition to go from a corporate job to working from home all by myself, and I’m still struggling to find the right balance.
Answering “What Do You Do?”
Gahhhh. I am still not good at explaining what I do to people, and to be honest, I sometimes just tell people I work in TV production still because it’s way easier (yes, I know…that is shameful). Even filling out paperwork at the doctor or dentist is uncomfortable when you don’t know what to write on that little employment line.
Telling people I’m a “blogger” is often met with a look of pity and confusion. A lot of people assume bloggers just journal their feelings on the internet all day and that it isn’t a real job. If I ever tell people that I run a home and DIY website, they always follow-up that question with “But how do you make money?” This question kinda makes me angry, because I certainly wouldn’t ever ask someone else how they make money at their day job, but I certainly understand the confusion. And if you really do want to know how our blog makes money, this post has all of the juicy scoop…haha.
One of my goals this year is to explain my job more confidently when people inquire (and to not get secretly annoyed when they inevitably follow-up with money questions). I’ll keep you updated on how that goes…
It Gets Lonely
To speak candidly, I get lonely working at home by myself all day. I’ve always worked in a job where I’m surrounded by people and often going out in the field to connect with even more people on an everyday basis. Now, there are plenty of days where Finn is the only person I see or talk with that day (poor guy…).
As you guys know, life has been difficult lately with IVF and our year of fertility treatments (more details coming Wednesday). While it has been nice to have a flexible job throughout all of it, it’s also sad being home alone on those days when we get bad news or my spirits are just down in the dumps.
I try to work from a coffee shop at least 1 day a week (I’m actually writing this from one right now!) and just being in a noisy place around other people is comforting (the vanilla lattes ain’t too shabby either). Here are some other tips I try to incorporate to make working from home a little easier.
I’ve been looking into coworking spaces in Chicago and may try that out in 2019. I think it would be good for me to get out of the house and work around other likeminded people. We’ll see how that goes…
When will Bridget be a Full-Time Blogger?
The other question I get all.the.time. is when Bridget will leave her job as a high school teacher and blog full-time too. With another baby on the way for B, we’re still navigating that plan. I would die with happiness if we could work side-by-side every single day, but she is in a busy season of life and having the stability of her full-time job just makes sense right now.
But I will say, it certainly isn’t out of the question and I hope it’s our reality someday! I can just picture decorating a sweeeeet office space. That sounds ahhhmazing!
2019 Plans for the Blog
I’ve learned a lot in the last year, and I’m excited to grow our platform even more in 2019. One of my goals is to join in on Insta Stories more often and show you a behind-the-scenes look at my day to day. Honestly, I’ve always thought my daily life is too boring to share (a lot of tedious computer work), but many of you have requested I do that. So get ready for more real stories (probably sans makeup) where I show you what I’m up to that day!
Reader Survey Results
We also asked you guys what you want on the blog in 2019 back in this post. Thank you sooo much for taking the time to shoot us a quick note. It really helps us to create content and fill out our editorial calendar with useful blog posts. Here are some of the highlights and popular requests we got…
- The most popular request for 2019 is MORE instaStories and we are all over it!
- We received requests on including more budget breakdowns of projects (got it!), lots of requests for more organization posts (now you’re speaking our language), and encouragement to tackle more projects outside of our homes (noted!).
- We also got tons of blog posts requests; many of the ideas we’ve already added to our editorial calendar. From more outdoor projects, to rookie mistakes, to paint color schemes, and resale tips… we have lots of topics to cover per your requests and can’t wait!
- We read through EVERYTHING (the hundreds of submissions) and took it to heart. But here are some of the quotes that really stuck out to us:
- “I am SO impressed with how organized and on top of your schedule, you seem like a team of two. I know a lot goes behind the scenes, but you two are quite professional! Thanks for being a positive space on the internet, and happy holidays!” <– this means the world to us!
- “I’m sure this is probably for a purpose, but I read on Feedly and it would be super awesome to have the whole post load there instead of having to open a new window.” <— As feedly/bloglovin’ readers ourselves, we totally understand where you are coming from. But unfortunately, when the entire post populates in these blog readers, the formatting of our graphics and some photography gets messed up. It’s also a lot easier for scraper sites to steal all of our content to post on their own (which is quite horrible). We want our readers to have the highest-quality experience (while keeping our site safe), so sadly, that means truncating the post on these platforms.
- “Less talk about feeling ashamed or embarrassed about parts of your house that aren’t perfect yet. So many of us have lots of areas in our homes that we haven’t gotten a chance to improve upon yet, but I don’t like feeling like we should be ashamed of those areas of our homes.” <— yes, yes, YES! Thank you for this valuable feedback, you are SO right!
- “You all are so kind to one another and your readers. That is something that is so obviously genuine from you…” <– that really means so much to us. In a world that isn’t always rainbows and butterflies, we strive to create a corner of the internet that is kind, positive, and supportive. Thank you so much for sharing that same kindness here, it makes us SO happy!
We could go on and on all day because you all had such insightful feedback for us! Thank you for taking the time to share your perspective with us. Please know that we read through every last comment and are using this insight to guide the DIY Playbook in 2019!
This is turning into a novel, so I’ll wrap it up! I must end this by emphasizing that I wouldn’t be able to make this my career without you guys and your endless support. You have no idea what your comments, DMs, and emails mean to me. Whenever I hear from a reader, it instantly makes that day 100000x better and motivates me to keep going. So thank you for tuning in each day and for making this little slice of the internet possible. I’m grateful for this amazing community of readers and can’t wait to see what 2019 has in store for us!Casey