Happy 5th Birthday to The DIY Playbook

It has been five years since we started the DIY Playbook. Over 1,200 posts, countless DIY projects, dozens of blog conferences, and hundreds of thousands of amazing readers. We can hardly believe that it is our 5th birthday! It seems like only yesterday we were anxiously hitting “publish” on our very first blog post. 

Every year during our “birthday week”, we take a little break from the usual content around here to share more insight about our blog. We’ve touched on so many topics in the past (like why you should follow your dreams or the awkward side of running a blog. Yikes!), and this week we have even more blogging content in store for you! 

What to Expect During our 5th Birthday Week

  • Tuesday: Ask Us Anything about Blogging! (we answer questions you submitted about running a blog and a business. There’s no holding back…)
  • Wednesday: How to Start a Blog (we break it down from the beginning so you have a step-by-step guide on how to start your own blog)
  • Thursday: Tips to Work from Home (Casey shares insights on what she has learned so far as a full-time blogger. Spoiler alert: she still has a lot to learn!)
  • Friday: How We Edit in Lightroom (we break down how we get our photos light and bright using this photo editing software.)

Today, we thought it might be fun to share what we’ve each learned from five years of blogging. When we first came up with that topic, we were both like, “Ummm we’ve learned like 5,000 things in the past five years!” But, we tried our best to really nail down the overarching life lessons that running this blog has taught each of us.

Bridget – 5 Things I’ve Learned from Blogging

Blogging is More Work than it Appears

When we started the blog, I had NO idea all the work that goes into maintaining this slice of the internet on a day-to-day basis. I’ve learned that what we post on the blog each day is only a fraction of all the work that goes into running the blog. It was obvious to me from the beginning that we needed to build our DIY, photography, and even “general computer” skills to start and maintain the blog.

But I had no idea how much I would be exposed to the business side of blogging on an everyday basis. Finances, taxes, contract language, negotiations, social media strategy are just a few of the skills I never anticipated needing. Not to mention all time it takes for the blog’s day-to-day operations (email, conference calls, editorial calendars, website maintenance, etc.). Seeing what goes on behind the blog has been an eye-opening, unexpected, challenging, yet very rewarding part of this blog journey.

The Support is Usually Overwhelming 

There have been amazing people in our lives who have supported us on this adventure from day one. They are constantly asking about the blog, its progress, upcoming projects, and these people truly are our biggest cheerleaders. Their unconditional support is pretty overwhelming and very humbling. These individuals in my life have taught me so much. Because of them, I try to go out of my way to support others who are trying something new, taking risks, or just being awesome. I try to ask questions and stay up-to-date on their progress, “like” their activities on social media, and do whatever I can to show them that they are supported… just like these amazing people have done for me.

But I wouldn’t be telling the WHOLE story if I didn’t mention that there are also people in my life who have never acknowledged the DIY Playbook, not in person or online. The blog is obviously a huge part of my life, but I think some people feel a bit weird asking about it. These people have also taught me a lot. I don’t hold it against them and honestly, it doesn’t bother me, but it has encouraged me even more to support others who are chasing their dreams — whatever those dreams look like!

It’s Important to Have Thick Skin

Over the past five years, I’ve learned that when you put yourself out there, especially on the internet, you HAVE to have thick skin! Not everyone is going to love what you do, which is to be expected. BUT I’m someone who lives by the motto, “you do you” and I don’t get caught up in judging others.

I share this because I’m always a bit taken aback when people share such strong, negative words about some of our DIY or design projects (or even worse, our appearances). This doesn’t happen often, but we have run into some situations where people are extremely rude about a project. Like who knew someone could have such hateful comments about a DIY Mason Jar Organizer?! Not me! Needless to say, my skin has grown a lot thicker over the course of the past 5 years. I’m perfectly okay with people not loving everything we do, but when we do come across a hateful comment about a paint color, or the fact that I’m so out-of-line of wearing ripped jeans so often (true story)… I take it for what it’s worth and move on.

I Know What I Don’t Like for My Home

I’m still working on nailing my design style, which may take forever since it seems to evolve over time, but one thing I do know for sure is what my style is NOT. Documenting every decor decision I’ve made for the last 5 years and having evidence to look back at these decisions (yikes!!) has definitely helped me figure out what is so “not me”. Although it’s not always easy to have these photos living online forever and ever and ever as UGLY evidence, I am grateful for what I’ve learned about my style since starting the blog… even if it’s what NOT to do ever again.

The World of Blogging is CONSTANTLY Changing

Is it just me or do you guys feel like there are always new trends in blogging?! Sometimes it feels hard to keep up! Right when I think I finally learned this new app’s feature or mastered this new editing tool, there’s MORE to learn and those old apps seem obsolete. In some ways, these changes are positive because they are always pushing Casey and me to learn more, stay flexible, and improve.

But other times these changes feel overwhelming and like we’re constantly “chasing it” instead of being ahead of the curve. I guess this just comes with the territory of blogging and working in a technology-related industry. And we do try to keep sight of what’s really important and sometimes that means skipping out on that “new, amazing ____________” to focus our time on creating old-fashioned quality content instead. But even then, we’re wondering all too often… “Are we doing the right thing?! Should we be investing more time into that over this?!” The struggle is real.

Casey – 5 Things I’ve Learned from Blogging

You’re Never Too Old to Learn Something New

Before starting the blog, I assumed that you really didn’t learn many new “skills” after college. Sure, you could gain more experience at work and in your career, but I doubted that I would ever learn new things that were outside of my regular routine. The blog changed that for me. I never thought I would know how to use a camera, edit photos, trademark a blog name, build a website, etc. I have learned so many skills that I never ever thought I could possess. And the coolest thing about this is that even if the blog stops tomorrow (which ain’t gonna happen…), I would still have all of these skills. I could still take awesome photos or know how to negotiate a contract.

It’s never too late to learn something new. So sign up for that cooking class, take that photography class online, or start googling something you’re passionate about…you can figure it out. The time is now!

You Can’t Please Everyone

Both Bridget & I are people-pleasers at heart. We hate confrontation and we always want to make people happy. After five years of putting my entire life on the internet, I can confidently say that no matter what you do…you can’t please everyone. Bridget already touched on the subject, but I felt it was important to bring it up again. At the end of the day, you just gotta do what is right for you and know that not everyone is going to love what you wear, the fullness of your eyebrows (true story!), or the way your house looks. Finn always says to me, “you do you”. Just focus on yourself and know that if you like it…that’s all that matters!

I’m More Business Minded Than I Thought

I was a Film, Television, and Theatre major at Notre Dame, so most of my time was spent writing papers, watching movies (for real!), and editing videos. I didn’t take one business class during college, because I really never thought I would need those skills. Most of my friends went to business school and some even went on to get their MBAs. Yet, here I am running my own six-figure business. If you would have told me that 8 years ago when I graduated, I would have laughed in your face.

I sometimes feel like I should get my MBA and learn some of those core principles of business, because I often feel like a fraud as a business owner myself. But the truth is, I’ve learned so much running a business for the past 5 years and it’s firsthand experiences that I wouldn’t get in a classroom. Never in a million years did I think I would know how to negotiate a contract, run a large conference call, trademark a brand name, do taxes for my business, and review the financials for a company I helped build. I’ve gotten my own blogging MBA going on over here…

Make Time for the Things you Love

Before I started blogging full-time (which was only two months ago…), my life was chaotic. Every spare moment of my time was spent working on the blog. Instead of brunching with friends on a Saturday morning, I was often up early doing projects and taking pictures for the blog. But the truth is…I wouldn’t have changed a thing. Time spent blogging makes me happy. A long day doing a project with Bridget never ever feels like work. Instead, it’s those times when I’m the happiest and the most myself.

The one question Bridget and I have gotten countless times over the years is, “how do you have time to run a blog?” And the answer is that we make time because we both love it so much. If we didn’t enjoy it, we wouldn’t do it. You’re in charge of the way in which you lead your life and how you fill the hours of each day. If you want to run a marathon, find time for those early morning runs (if only blogging burned as many calories as running…). All I’m saying is that if there is something you really love doing, find time to make it happen!

Online Connections are REAL Connections

When we started the blog five years ago, I never thought that we would connect with readers in the way we have. So many of you take time out of your day to comment on our blog posts or social media accounts, and it’s often heartfelt, thoughtful, and encouraging. These words mean more to us both than you’ll ever know. In fact, my mom reads the comments on the daily blog post and always calls me to discuss the sweet words you guys have shared that day.

I also never would have thought that we would create such real friendships with our readers. We’ve been lucky enough to meet a few of you ladies in person (Hi, Trang! Hey, Kerri!) and have emailed back and forth with quite a few of you. And we even received some Christmas cards this year from some of you! It’s pretty cool to think that even though we’re all over the country (& world!) we still have so much in common.

Bridget & I often discuss how grateful we are to have such an amazing group of strong, supportive women reading our blog. THANK YOU for taking the time to come here each day to connect with us. It means the world to us.

Giveaways All Week Long!

Because it’s such a big birthday for us (& because we love you guys so much!) we are doing a giveaway every single day here on the blog! Yes, lots of freebies for our favorite people so they can shop our favorite retailers. Today, we’re giving away a $100 gift card to our go-to home store…West Elm!

$100 West Elm Giveaway

Enter to win a $100 gift card to West Elm using the Rafflecopter widget below. Be sure to comment on today’s blog poster, answering… “Are there any blog post topics you want us to cover in the next 3-6 months on the DIY Playbook? We’re taking requests!”

a Rafflecopter giveaway


The Year of Casey

Hey there!

I’m Casey Finn, the voice behind The DIY Playbook. I’m a Chicago gal teaching you how to design, DIY, and maintain your home…by yourself! Learn more about me right here.

your home playbook sidebar