Thursday, October 20, 2011

116 You Asked: Thoughts and Tips on Blogging

Since this week I was able to share and celebrate a huge milestone in this blogging venture of mine, we are talking a 10,000 Facebook fan milestone, I thought I would take a moment to write up a quick {hopefully} post about my adventures in blogging.  In fact, I receive a lot of emails asking, "How did you start?" and "How do you make money?" and "What tips do you have for aspiring bloggers?"  So I thought this would be perfect timing to go over a couple of things that I have learned along the way.  My disclosure, "These are only my personal opinions and what I have experienced, everyone's journey and process and ideas on the subject are sure to be different."

I was a stay at home daycare mom and had recently found the blog world.  I had only started reading a couple but quickly realized that it was my happy time and my favorite way to wind down at the end of a busy day.  I was always left feeling inspired and excited to do a project or to work on the house {which I had loved to do anyway}.  Then one day it hit me when a friend had asked me about organizing kid's schoolwork.  I was getting asked all the time by friends and family about things I had done around the house, so why not hop on the ol' bandwagon and start a blog.  The second piece of it was that I had been spending so many hours inside my home, that I was constantly looking for things to organize.  Every project completed left me thirsty for more.  I was always trying to find creative ways to organize, store and conceal all of the kid's belongings, to allow for me to run a daycare by day, and have an adult and kid friendly home by night.  The daycare brought in boatloads of items from all of the attendees personal belongings, gear, toys, artwork, arts and crafts materials, etc... which meant that I was determined to find a way to keep my home streamlined with the incredible amount of "stuff" that was trying to take it over.  I had always considered myself, "House Proud" and I was finding that being organized was a huge contributor to that.  It made me wonder if someday I could be doing it for a living.  That "someday" being when my kids were out of the house and I would be on the lookout for a new career.  I had already done the day to day in the office for hours thing, and realized that as much as I enjoyed my last job, I didn't love the hours, commute and time commitment away from my family.  So why not pair my love for organizing with the need for flexible scheduling and the desire to be passionate about my job?  I was then planning on starting the blog as a way to share my ideas with friends and family, and start getting my name out there to them as an option if looking for organizational help.  The blog was born on September 26th, 2009.


I have to stress, I never started the blog with the intention of taking it to a full time career or to make money  {didn't' even know that was an option when I began}, it was my fun way to be a sharer and to have a hobby away from being a full time wife and mom.  A way to drive me to do another project and to keep my long term career idea in check.

Of course when you blog, you hope that someone is reading.  Anyone.  It's always fun to have readers because it gives meaning to your writing.  I love having a broad following of readers because I have made many friends through this process and you all give me special smiles every day! 

That said, I planted the blog seed in September of 2009 and didn't receive my first blog comment from someone other than a bff or my mom until January 24th of 2010.  That's four months of blogging without anyone outside of my friends and family circle, commenting on what I was writing.  I was averaging 12 page loads per day.  I also was only posting about 10 times per month.

I give credit to a few major things that have helped this blog blossom:

Features!  I started throwing myself out there.  I had blogged about some projects, now it was time to see if I could get them featured.  I started by uploading and featuring my house tour pictures on HGTV's Rate My Space website, which increased my page loads to about 300 per day, at it's max, which was much more than the 12 I had been getting.  Then, I looked at my favorite blogs to see what they were looking for.  What was a consistent theme in the spaces they had featured thus far?  The common answer was detailed how to's/tutorials, good photography and a unique idea.  I then began to try and be better about incorporating those traits into my posts going forward.  My first feature was actually a big one, Young House Love, which brought me 9,621 page loads in one day.  Some of you stayed around and continued to read, however many of the first time visitors took a look and left.  Why did people leave?  Maybe because I hadn't built up much of a post inventory yet.  Maybe my projects and photography were only mediocre?  Maybe my blog didn't grab their attention at first glance?  Whatever the reason, that feature was still crucial in the growth and success in this blog.  That feature along with each and every one after, have brought many of you here throughout the course of the last two years {see all of my features/links here} and have even led me to be contacted by The Nate Berkus Show!  Who knew?


Theme!  I still struggle with this on some level, but I believe that your blog should have a specific theme or topic to keep your readers coming back.  Something brought them to you, and if you want to keep them coming back, then keeping your blog consistent is key.  I decided to go with integrating my love for organizing with my family, home and life.  That means that just about everything I post is in some way about those key things.  My family drives why I organize.  My organizing keeps me "house proud".  I love a good house project.  Organizing betters my life.  I keep this blog revolving around those things as much as possible, and not as much about where I got my hair done, how badly I ruined the batch of brownies I just baked or the fact that I have a secret side obsession with ridiculous reality television.  Also, pick something that you truly love or have a passion for.  You will enjoy creating and posting and your readers will take notice of that.  Don't do it just to do it, do it because you HEART it.

Pictures!  What is one of the very first things you notice on any blog you go to?  For me it is all about the photography.  And I like BIG pictures, I am getting old you know...  I am still no pro when it comes to taking pictures, everything I do I have learned along the way.  My biggest tip no matter what kind of camera you have is to always shoot your photos in natural daylight without a flash.  You get the truest, cleanest colors that way.  Of course angles and focusing in on the subject are important also, but what works for me is to study photos on blogs I enjoy and within home magazines to see what I can learn from them.  For example, when I first started blogging, my photos looked similar to this:


My first impression?  The size is too small; I took the photo at night, used interior lighting and a flash.  Aside from the fact that the next picture has prettier cabinets, look at the impact the photo has in comparison:


Taken in natural light, no flash and sized to fit the size of my blog, making it the focus of the post.  Photos are typically the deciding factor for me when I visit a blog because I can gain so much information just from the pictures, especially if I don't always have time to read word for word the details of the post.  It grabs me when I load the page.  It lets me know at first glance why I am there.

Frequency!  Once you start having individuals "follow" you, they can be notified when you post.  I always receive more traffic on days I post because of subscriptions and readers.  Beyond that, by posting frequently {I now post at least 5 times per week}, you are building a story, a ton of inspiration to keep your readers looking at and a reliability that you will be posting again in the near future, so people will keep checking back frequently to read that new post.  Over the last two years, I had posted over 500 times!  Crazy to think about!  I do my best not to post just to post, this goes back to having a theme.  I post to inspire myself and others and to keep the creative juices flowing!

Socialize!  You know I love you all!  You may just think that I say that, maybe even too much, but it is true from the bottom of my pitter pattering heart.  And I know there have been times when I just hadn't been able to answer every comment or email, but I do my gosh darn best to try. This blog wouldn't exist without you and I know that.   So to keep your friends coming back to your blog, I would suggest using outlets like Facebook, Twitter and email to connect with them on a daily basis.

Website!  Of course one of the obvious ways to stand out from the crowd is to build a webpage that is professional looking and attention grabbing.  My blog and header and pictures have all evolved over time and I am always continuing to enhance my header and layout and design based on feedback and the desire to stay current.  {You can read about the most recent changes I made here}.  I am fortunate enough to love working on my blog and creating the designs, however, if you didn't get the blog design gene, there are oodles of great businesses out there that will help do that for you, just ask Google.

That equation is now bringing over 35,000+ page loads per day and I am pinching myself every waking moment.


My biggest piece of advice is this.  Don't blog to make money, blog because you ADORE it.  Sure, we see it happen, I am one of those lucky gals that is able to make a little dinero while I blog.  However, it was never my intention.  I never even knew it was an option.  I blogged because it was a growing passion of mine and I loved it, and then one day, the cash suddenly became this really awesome and completely unexpected perk.

So how did the income come?

I started out by placing Google Adsense into my blog sometime within the first year and was making just pennies a day and then it grew to maybe a dollar or two per day and so on.  It grows and increases as my traffic does, the two go hand in hand.  Then, one day, I was approached and asked about a sponsorship spot on my blog.  I hadn't really offered any up to this point and was excited for the opportunity to partner up with another to support their business while they helped support mine.  To me, sponsorships are partnerships.  I then placed "Your Ad Here" spots on my sidebar with a link to my advertising details , and offers came.  I never solicited businesses to become my personal sponsors.  As I grew, again, so did my sponsors and those opportunities.  The same goes with giveaways.  There are times when I will contact a company to see if they will partner up to offer you special friends something incredible, but for the most part, I am fortunate enough to have incredible companies come to me with giveaway opportunities.  There are times when I have to say no because the item does not at all fit with the theme of the blog, this goes with both giveaways and sponsors, since it is important to me to keep the integrity of the blog first and the income second.

Without sharing my exact income from blogging, I was able to make the choice to switch from daycare to blogging when my youngest entered school and my income blogging was at least equal to what I was making doing daycare.  Another important thing for me to mention is that my blogging income doesn't just come from solely blogging, I am able to do this full time because I receive income from many places such as Amazon Associates, Social Spark, Sponsors, Adsense, Etsy Sales and Style Tiles Sales.  I cannot rely on just one to support me, however together, they all allow me to do this full time.  A little more about each:

Google Adsense: These are ads that are placed on my blog through Google that are tailored to your specific interests based off of your browsing history and the content of my blog.  I am able to place up to three of these ad boxes on my blog, and the amount I receive from this program depends on my traffic and the number of clicks the ads receive.

Sponsors:  A partnership between myself and another company.  They pay me a designated rate to have their company showcased on my sidebar and to be a part of a monthly sponsorship appreciation post.  Because of the time I have been investing, this blog probably wouldn't exist without them.  More on the time piece soon.

Amazon Associates:  My Amazon shop showcases my favorite products and wish list items.  I decide on Amazon because they offer the largest variety and allow me to showcase the most of what IHeart personally.  They do have an affiliate program for bloggers that allow you to to take home a small piece of the pie when someone purchases through your shop. 

Social Spark:  This is another program that allows for me to partner up with fantastic companies and share products and details with you, while also earning some income at the same time.  I receive many great opportunities and offers through their program, and am able to be partnered with fantastic companies that I might not otherwise have been introduced to, however again I must stress, I am working to ensure that I only feature companies and products that fit with the integrity of the blog and that I would personally use or recommend.  I am not going to lie when I say it can be a smidge hard as a blogger to see the dollars flash in front of you and to turn them away, but in your heart you know it's the right thing to do.

Etsy:  I LOVE creating organizing tools and templates and decided to offer some of those items on Etsy about a year or so after I started blogging.  At that point, I was only making a very small amount of income from the blog itself so this was another way to start adding to the bucket.  And who totally doesn't adore a freebie?  I do and I can't blame you for loving them also, which is why I am trying to expand those printables, but creating each form takes hours of my time away from family, and the Etsy shop is actually now a crucial part in my ability to provide for my family.

Style Tiles:  Because I was being asked so frequently for style and organizing advice, another way to keep the blog floating was to offer the option to purchase my thoughts in the form of a Style Tile.  This is such a fun process for me and I have been having such a great experience partnering up with individuals to give them a visual of how their room could ultimately look and function.

So that is how I make money and am able to blog full time.  So many sources and avenues.  I am always re-evaluating my time investment and options for each income source, it has changed as the blog has evolved and is always a learning process for me.


Wow.  Blogs take time.  Tons and tons of time.  Those who write one may know what I am talking about.  Many wonder what a blogger does all day or how it can be considered a real "job".  Don't get me wrong, it's unlike any job I have ever heard of!  I would say it's the BEST job.  But I have to get real, it's very time consuming. And as my blog grew, so did the amount of time I put into it.  Here are some of the things that have been keeping this gal a busy busy bee:

  • The internet is 24/7.  Comments and emails come in constantly.  I receive an average of 50+ emails per day and try my best to respond to each one.
  • Etsy orders also come in at any time.  As long as an item is stocked and available in my shop {which is almost always since I create and customize the printables digitally and upon ordering}, then someone can order.  I receive boatloads of requests to create custom items, those are always the most time consuming.
  • Projects need to be thought up, completed, photos taken and posts written.  Depending on the project, the photo editing and post writing portion alone can take me 3-4 hours alone, if not more.  
  • Managing sponsorships, giveaways, reader spaces and post topics requires hours of planning and communication.
  • Creating Style Tiles requires evaluating the room, browsing for ideas and inspiration, locating recommended products, tying it all together and drafting an explanation with all of the sources.
  • Because I created my blog's graphics and design, I am constantly working to streamline things and make navigation easier.  Blog updates are happening frequently and depending on the what is being updated/fixed, depends on the time it takes.
Again, not everyone will be doing all of those things as a blogger {Etsy, Style Tiles, etc...}, however, it's how I am able to do it full time, so they all fit into the ball of time I consider work.  As you can imagine, it was nearly impossible for me to manage all of those items along with a daycare.  I was daycare mom by day, blogger by night and not much else in-between.  I loved both pieces, but it came to a point where something had to give.  The time investment to blog and run my shop and services were becoming too much to manage in the evenings and weekends.  I was falling behind on emails and never sleeping.  My husband was feeling the brunt of the evening parenting tasks and it all began to become a stressful situation.  So when it came down to it, I followed my heart and passion and made the switch to blogging full time and I still find it hard to keep up, wondering how I ever managed to do both?  

I read a lot of stories from other bloggers as well, working through blogging and time management and having friends and family understand the time investment that blogging requires.  Because it's a 24/7 job, it's hard to ever just "leave the office and go home".  It definitely takes some getting used to.  If I had to put a number on it, I would say I am easily investing 50-60 hours per week on all of the tasks I outlined above.  And I am still trying to find a schedule that works best for both myself and my family.

However, I also believe that the time you invest shows through in your blog.  I know in my heart that my blog was able to grow because I was investing time daily, posting often, taking time to edit pictures and post interesting topics and keep communication with my blog friends {YOU} going.  It all goes hand in hand.  If I were to stop caring as much, so would you. 

Blogging definitely comes with its highs and lows, and because I always love ending on a high, let's start with some of the harder parts of running a full time blog:
  • Criticism.   When you put yourself out there every day, and your readership grows, so does the opportunity for individuals to criticize your writing, projects, decisions and style.  I posted my feelings on this here, and as much as you will never get used to it, it does get easier to manage through.  I know almost every blogger out there has faced this in some form, and that I am not alone, but it's how you decide to let it affect you that matters.  When I let the negativity ruin my day, then that is a whole day I will never get back.  For every negative comment, I have boatloads of positive ones.  We allow ourselves to focus on the negatives, and that is not fair to anyone.  So as you blog, ignore the "haters", because as you have all taught me, they are not worth your time and are probably just taking their bad day out on you.  
  • Time.  Learning how to unplug and shut it off.  That is a little easier to do when you go into the office and then leave it to go back home.  As I mentioned, blogging is time consuming and it's hard to turn it off and live your life at the same time.  Especially with smart phones and iPads and laptops oh my.
  • It's not an overnight success.  It took me two years to get where I am and I essentially did most of it for free for the first year or more.  Everyone will have a different success rate when running a blog, however, always remember that it takes time and "if you build it, they will come"  Oh yeah, I just went there.
  • Computers.  I wish I could say that I spend most of my day doing hands on projects.  Fact of the matter is that most of the time working on the blog, is me sitting in front of the computer instead.  I would guestimate my time is about 10% projects, 90% computer. That makes my eyes, hands and bottom hurt just thinking about it!
Now, the positives.  I don't think there is an end to this list, I can seriously think of 100,000 reasons why I love to blog, but here are the tops:
  • How many people can honestly say they do what they love?  I can and there are no words for how amazing that is!
  • Blogging is an exciting way to share ideas and projects.  If just one of my projects can inspire just one person or give one person an idea, then it was worth it!
  • You make great friends.  I have met so many other creative individuals through this blog, most of whom share many of the same interests as me, which makes it beyond rewarding!
  • Blogging allows me to organize {win} and then write about it {win again!}.  
  • I get to be creative!  I have always loved creating spreadsheets, taking pictures and crafting.  I get to combine all of those hobbies with the blog.  
  • I get to help people.  Whether through a blog post or an email, any time I can offer up any advice that makes another's life easier, then it's rewarding on both ends!
  • I can be home with my kids and contribute to our family's income.  This is probably one of the biggest benefits.  
  • You.  I have said it before and I will never stop saying it.  You make me smile every day.  Your visits and comments and emails are why I blog and what keeps it rolling.  I am grateful for you.  I adore you.

So there you have it!  Four hours later my post isn't as short as I was hoping and I could probably spew 3,951 more words on the subject, so if I missed anything at all just leave a comment and I will share more.

Anyone learn anything they didn't know or wouldn't have thought of, in regards to the blogging world?  Any surprises?  What do you want to add on the great subject of blogging?


 
Check out updated details on this topic here: The Bread & Butter of the Blog
And here: 10 Things I Have Learned Along the Way 

116 comments:

  1. Wow! Thank you so much for sharing! It's so great to hear your success story! I love you blog and it's wonderful to hear the back story and how much time it takes. I run my own blog and I sometimes wonder if it takes everyone the amount of time it takes for me to make one blog post. I'm glad I'm not alone!

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  2. I have just recently started reading your blog and wanted to say thanks for such an informative post. It was interesting reading - - I've often wondered about many of the areas you covered. Your ideas are inspiring!

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  3. That's such a helpful post, thanks Jen! I also love reading the back story to how bloggers got where they are today.

    For what it's worth I headed over from Young House Love and never looked back! I even made those adorable clothes organizers as a welcome to the world gift for my baby neice. Thanks for all the inspiration!

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  4. Wonderful post, Jen. You hit on so many important aspects. I admire your hardwork and dedication and that you stay true to your beliefs and mission. {that sounds more serious than it was supposed to!}. I love seeing all that you do. You have been quite the inspiration to me.

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  5. Such an awesome post Jen! I absolutely adore blogging just as you do and was approached about blogging by one of my readers. It totally threw me for a loop because here I am 5 to 6 months into it with only 90 followers and I have someone who respects my opinion on the matter. It is totally humbling and gratifying to be an inspiration to someone and I hope that you know that you are my inspiration:)

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  6. Thanks Jen, this is a super great post!!

    Random thought I just had:
    You know, in my corporate job I see people working 50-60-70 hours a week but they do it all from an office or cubicle, in a suit (and tie if they're men)and they don't have flexibility to work at home or work around their family's schedule.
    So while I'm often amazed by how much work it takes to run your own home-based business / blogging business, it's probably no more than a hardcore corporate job...only without the nagging boss, and coporate rules. :)

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  7. Hi Jen,
    I have been following your blog for about a year and a half now. In fact, I think I found it through YHL and you actually inspired me to start my own blog, Misadventures In DIY. I'm a busy working, single mother and always thought I didn't have time to blog, even though I really wanted to. When I saw how awesome your home was, and that you ran a day care and blogged in the evenings, I thought, "If she can do it so can I." I'm realizing how hard it really is to "put yourself out there." I appreciate how open and friendly you are and how hard you work on your blog. You continue to inspire and amaze me. Kudos to you!

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  8. @Jane,

    Totally agree, I have been on both sides of it. Corp America and home business. I have been equally as busy in both which isn't a bad thing, maybe just a surprising thing to those that don't understand how blogging can be a full time venture :) Totally loving what I do now more than any job I have had to this point, so you won't hear a complaint from this gal :). In fact, I wouldn't have things any other way! xoxo!

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  9. Jen! Very well said. I am just now at a point where I'm starting to receive an income. I have had an amazing month - thanks mostly to Pinterest, where I'm receiving a ton of traffic. I am so proud of you and how you have gone on your journey - I think I've been following your blog for about a year and a half, right around the time I started mine. It's very exciting to see so many inspired to organize and I really enjoy that about blogging and about reading other organizing ladies - we both blog about organizing, but in our own unique way. Thanks for your candidness - many bloggers won't share about numbers for income or for pageviews.

    Becky B.
    www.organizingmadefun.com
    Organizing Made Fun

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  10. I found your blog through YHL and I've been hooked ever since! I love seeing your journey! Way to go!

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  11. Jen, I wish I could remember exactly what it was that brought me to your blog, or how long ago. It was the first blog I had seen, and I read it each night before bed and slowly began to evaluate the house. I'm making baby steps to pretty things up and clear out the clutter. It has been fun to watch your success, and to find so many other blogs that I love by way of your blog. Thanks Jen!

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  12. Great post. It is nice to see that there are such opportunities available in blogging, but that it does take hard work! Thanks and congrats on your success!

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  13. Great post. I agree, thanks for being candid and sharing real numbers. It really helps us to be able to put it into perspective. Blogging looks like just another example of the fact that there are no "get rich quick" schemes. I think some people look at blogging and bloggers who make money and think it looks easy and want to jump in just for the income. I appreciate that you stressed that it probably will not work if that is the only reason you are into it. I adore your blog. In fact, it is currently my favorite on my Google Reader. I found it when a friend linked on FB about your household binders awhile back.

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  14. Thank you so much! I'm just starting and this was packed full of great advice and words of encouragement.

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  15. I love your blog!! Kudos to you for committing to doing what you love, and following your passion!! Thanks so much for your willingness to give back!! Many blessing and may many more successes come your way!!!

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  16. Thank you for picking the blog! I LOVE it! You are an inspiration to me!!!

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  17. Great story !! I just started my blog. And by no means did I do it for money. I did it because it intimidated me greatly !!! I've wanted to do it for a while so I jumped. Hope someone, anyway out there enjoys a peace of it!

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  18. Totally bookmarked this to read again (and again! hehe) I often get super down on myself over the big stuff like the "haters" and even the little stuff where a comment like "ew i dont like mushrooms!" on a recipe post somehow makes me feel bad about myself. what!? for liking mushrooms!? I'm ridiculous =) but i'm working on it! and this piece-o-positivity is just what I need, thanks Jen! =)

    I'm so happy for you and all the success that has come your way is so well-deserved! <3 keep it up gorgeous!

    xoXOxo
    Jenn @ Peas and Crayons

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  19. That's great Jen! I'm glad to know I'm not the only one that is constantly at the computer. Blogging is definitely time consuming, and even though I'm still new to it, I love every minute of it!

    Thanks for being a great inspiration. :)

    Anna
    www.askannamoseley.com

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  20. Thank you for this post. I am in the process of creating a blog and have had some ups and downs in the creation process. Your tips will be very helpful. I love your blog. I have been trying to tap into my creative side since starting to follow your blog!

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  21. Thank you for such a wonderful, informative post. I really enjoyed reading about the critisim part. There will always be haters, jealousy, and people who feel like they need to beat others down to make themselves feel better. Many people (me included) need to not take comments personally and just move on... a hard thing to do indeed!

    Thanks so much for your honesty and advice. Keep up the great work and your wonderful blog :)

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  22. Great tips, thanks so much! Just started my blog and will be sure to keep these in mind as I hope to build readership :)

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  23. I am so glad you decided to start! I truely adore you! I am one of the lucky girls who knows Jen personally and let me just say you are truely as sweet in real life as you are in your blog. Everything you say is 100% genuine, and you don't always find people like that! Keep up the great work and being so inspiring to us all! you are loved! Crystal Bodden

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  24. Thanks so much for taking the time to write this post! What a fun and inspiring back story.

    I am a stay at home mom and use blogging as a creative outlet and something to call my own. Not looking to make money from it, but getting traffic on my blog is so encouraging to me. Just like you said "it gives meaning to your writing." That people are reading and getting inspired.

    Thanks!

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  25. You are such an inspiration! Honestly. I started my little family blog/journal a couple months ago just as a way to document our lives, but i have always dreamt of actually having a blog that people were interested in and that actually changed people's lives, as yours had. I love reading your posts and all of your projects. Congratulations on your success! You make it look so easy :)
    quick question - have you found that blogspot has been enough for you as a blogger or are you left wanting more? I currently have a blogspot as well and keep asking myself if i'll ever need to get my own domain.
    Thank you for all the tips - there are many I will be using!

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  26. This is a great post Jen! You have an amazing blog & I love being able to read it every day. I'm glad you've found a way to use it as your job & income :) I just started my blog a little over a month ago & I find other blogs like your so inspirational! I have a full time job & a part time job, the blog, and a husband who is a medical (pediatric) resident right now, but no kids. I'm SO crazy busy! I'm constantly wondering how in the world people with kids do this! You're awesome :)

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  27. I adore you Jen!! And found myself nodding through so much of your post. I don't spend nearly as much time as you do blogging (of course I don't have near the followers you do either) and I'm still amazed at how much time it does take. But like you said, you do it because you love it! And also like you said, organizing and blogging! Doesn't get any better!! :)

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  28. Great post! Thanks for writing this!

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  29. Found your blog while cruising other blogs. What a wonderful blog! I am new to blogging so it's nice to see others!

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  30. Jen, you are a rock star, and when I type www into my address bar, the first name on the list is iheartorganizing. My visit with "you" is the first of my day, and often on busy days, my only.

    I am beyond thrilled that you are making an income doing this that you love, and is my prayer that your business continues to grow and you are rewarded in turn.

    Jen S

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  31. Thanks SO SO much for posting this!! I have been dying to know how to start getting more traffic, and doing the '10 steps to more blog traffic' that i found while googling hasn't done much. Good to know that it does take a little while, but perseverance does finally win!! I am SUCH a huge fan of yours, and while we blog about totally different things (me, women' health), I adore your aesthetics, honesty, and personality in your blog and you have done much to inspire me.

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  32. Thank you for sharing how you have worked towards your success, but you left out the most important factor. You are brilliant at organizing and blogging about it.

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  33. Thanks for sharing your insight in blogging. I'm happy for all your success. Couldn't of happened to a nicer person!

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  34. This is an amazing post, I love when bloggers give insight on how they do their awesome work. I have been blogging for a little bit now but have no clue how to do anything besides doing posts, and I will now do bigger pictures because of you. Thank you, you really are inspiring and you give me hope :)

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  35. Well-written post, very interesting!

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  36. Wow this was a great post full of useful and wise information. Congrats on your great success, I can tell from reading you have put your heart and soul into this blog. I wish you continued success!! Kathysue

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  37. Thanks so much for sharing! Really appreciate the transparency! Congrats on such a successful project!

    Gives us something for us fledglings to aspire to! : )

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  38. Great post - I am not a blogger but I am still adjusting to all my Etsy sales.... and you are right, when you work at home like this it is constant with emails and questions and hard to find time to manage everything.... I am definitely still learning :)

    Keep up your fabulous work - you are awesome!

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  39. Hi Jen,

    Thanks so much for this post, I love to learn about the business behind blogging!

    I run a small weekly blog where I publish my children's stories (interspersed with regular blog posts - because stories take more than a week!).

    I have to say, working as a journalist by day it is SO HARD sometimes to convince myself to spend all day writing and then write some more!

    Writing stories and running my blog is what I love doing, but sometimes the mental fog of having so many different things on my mind makes it difficult.

    Do you ever get that problem? How do you switch off from the real world and focus on blogging?

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  40. Thanks a million for your blog, for your sincerity and for your dedication to your passion & readers. I can't remember how I stumbled upon your blog some months ago, but I can tell you that from the moment I began reading, I've been hooked. What you've done with your home and the blog has been such an inspiration. You're useful tips and awesomeness has gotten me back on the wagon, with the organization of my home. So much so, that I began a lil blog of own. Your candidness about succeeding as a blogger is also refreshing. You ROCK!! Wishing you a ton of success in following your passion.

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  41. Great post! I agree, blogging takes a lot of work, dedication, and lots of love for blogging! :)

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  42. Thank you soooo much for posting this!!! I just started my
    Blog and overwhelmed is a total understatement haha especially since I'm not super techno savvy but it's working hahaha. You are definitely a HUGE inspiration!
    Thanks again!!!

    ~ Lisa
    momdad2girlsandbrutus.blogspot.com

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  43. Thanks for posting this! I've just started blogging and it's reassuring that if I put the time in then my blog will continue to grow. I didn't realize how many different things you have going on in order to keep up the blogging, that's crazy, but good:) I appreciate all of the time you put into your blog and you can definitely tell that is the case:)

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  44. Thank you SO much for taking the time to post such detailed HONEST information about your experience in the blog world. I am in the beginning stages of creating a blog but am still in the "organizing" phase of what I want it to look like (decorating/organizing/etc.) as my husband and I are in process of building our "realistic dream home!" You have written & shared this post in perfect timing for my new adventure! I have enjoyed your blog since March 2010 and have been SO INSPIRED by you! THANK YOU!!!

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  45. Thanks so much for sharing your blogging journey! It wasn't that long ago that I found your blog (sorry, can't remember exactly how or I'd definitely tell you) and it quickly was added to my google reader.

    I have a quick question - I see that you've decided to blog on blogger. I blog on blogger as well and have been happy there, but so many people recommend switching to Wordpress. Do you have any advice on that or reasons why you're on Blogger?

    Thanks! -Lisa

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  46. Just started blogging and this post was super, super helpful to me, Jen! I'm totally addicted to your blog and really love your style. Thanks so much--K

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  47. Also, Jen, I'd love to hear more about organizing files and pictures on your computer and backing things up safely. Organizing finances would be another post I'd really be interested in! Thank you so much and hope you have a great day!

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  48. Thank You for taking time to share your experiences and expertise in this area! It comes at a very timely place for me - I'm at a[nother] turning point in my life and trying to figure out how to continue doing the creative things I do, continue to support myself and have some flexibility of schedule. I've made a FB page and a blog and I hope to share my passions with others and learn from them, also. I've appreciated your offerings on your blog - Thank You for this all! ;-}

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  49. Thank you so much for this post! It's a virtual how-to and very inspiring!

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  50. Jen, you and the other bloggers out there are such an inspiration to those of us just starting out. I too work full-time and have two toddler girls but I try to find time once in a while to blog because I enjoy it so much! Maybe one day, it could be a career for me as well. Thank you for your post.

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  51. Thanks for this Jen! I can definitely take away some information and apply it to my blog. It is amazing how quickly you grew and it's wonderful to see it continuing.

    Thanks for the inspiration!

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  52. Thanks for sharing! As a new blogger (my blog is just over a month old) I need all the help I can get. Though I know I'll never have a blog as big as yours, I'm fine with that, as long as I have a few people that can enjoy what I make, that's all that matters. My blog is more as a way to encourage myself to make stuff, get organized, learn how to cook, etc, etc.
    I've only been a follower since post-new blog makeover, but I think your blog looks really great, clean lines, simple, just colourful enough! You did a great job! I'm getting a lot of ideas about how to arrange my own blog from you.
    Thanks for everything you do!

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  53. Thank you soooo much foR this post! I tend to get bummed when I only have one or max two comments, but I keep doing it because I love it! So all the tips and advice mixed with encouragement is so much appreciated! So happy for your success as well! I love reading your blog, and I'm fairly new!
    Thank you
    Mamadrama.princesspieces.blogspot.com

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  54. Thank you for sharing all this information! I just discovered your wonderful blog filled with so many fun and generous ideas....keep up the great work! :)

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  55. This is such a helpful post, thankyou so much for all the information you shared! I have received much inspiration to organize from your blog.

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  56. I have been following you for a while and am so thrilled to see your success! :) Thank you for sharing your backstory and tips on blogging, I always find it interesting to hear how others started!

    I am in the middle of resurrecting my blog from when I had a home-based scrapbooking business. I had to quit due to financial reasons; but decided recently to get back to blogging as I still have so many creative ideas to share!!! Am so excited to start up again! Thanks for the inspiration! :)

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  57. Thank you so much for your story and a HUGE congratulations on your success! I am a stay-at-home mamma that started a blog a short time ago for a little therapeutic connection to other moms doing the same thing. My home and organizing tactics are better because of your blog and I am so grateful for it. Wishing you all the best!

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  58. I love your blog! I wanted to share my new menu board I created recently. I love it, and wish I thought of it sooner!! It's a great way to keep dinner time more organized!

    http://missamyshouse.blogspot.com/2011/10/menu-meal-planing.html

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  59. Thank you for posting this. Your blog is one of my favorites!

    I'm currently enrolled in a distance education certificate program to become a Professional Organizer. I dream (and will have) my own company one day. Organizing is my passion and therapy.

    Your blog is inspirational and to hear your story and what works for you is great to read. I just started a blog three months ago and am finding it to be ALOT of fun.

    Thank you for sharing this.

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  60. This post is so well written and informative, and my mind sometimes wanders while reading about the business side of blogging, but not this time. Thanks for the great read! Have a great weekend.

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  61. I just want to say thanks for writing this post. I am starting out with the whole blogging thing and can relate to everything you said. I appreciate the time you have taken to write this informative and positive article. I wish you all the best for your future endevours.

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  62. Cannot thank you enough for this post! I'm relatively new to the blogging world and to your blog for that matter, and this post was just want I needed! Can't wait to add this to my morning "Must Read" list!

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  63. This is awesome information! As a new blogger (with minimal page views and just two months worth of posts under my belt), I really appreciate your candidness and helpful tips! I'll definitely be saving this one. So much great info to refer back to!

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  64. I really enjoyed everything you said, its always neat to hear how people got their start.
    I don't know that I would ever start blogging as a full time job but I do enjoy it!
    Thanks so much for all of your insight :)

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  65. For someone who just started blogging last month, this post is really worth pinning on my bookmarks. Thanks Jen! You are truly insiring

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  66. Jen, Your tips and comments were immensely helpful. I just created my blog in July 2011 (livingrichonless.com), so I'm a baby in the blogging world. I took tons of notes on what you wrote. I appreciate you being so candid and thorough. It gave me LOTS to think about.

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  67. Hi Jen. I just discovered your blog and love it.

    What a wonderful post. I started my blog a year ago and am slowing building up readers but I just love it. I know exactly what you mean. I get to cook and create and photograph and write about food all day.

    There really is no better job than blogging about something you love!

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  68. Hi Jen, Your blog is amazing! I just discovered it a few days ago and have been reading back through a bunch of your posts. I'm so inspired to get my house in order! I used to work 70-80 hours a week (I'm a physician) so you can imagine the PILES which are in every room of my house as I would come home too tired to do anything but dump stuff and go to bed. Within the last few months I cut down to working about 20 hours a week (had a baby!) and now I'm ready to get rid of lots of stuff and be organized! I have been encouraged through your blog to start small and do one project at a time (I've been a little overwhelmed!) and I also appreciate the creative solutions you showcase which have got me thinking outside the box for storage and organizational tools. And I love the idea of shopping at home! I've already added you to my RSS reader. Thanks again!

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  69. I can't tell you how much I appreciate this post. Just to know how someone else has done it and been successful, including the good, the bad and the ugly.

    You've been an inspiration. Thank you for sharing this kind of information.

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  70. Jen,
    Thanks so much for what you do everyday! You are an inspiration. I started reading blogs to get out of my mundane graduate school routine. I found your blog through YHL and I too, quit following them in favor of you. I found that I like your simplicity. I've started two blogs southernchelle.blogspot.com and southernchelle.com (WP) in an attempt to get into blogging. I like your refreshing way of depicting ideas and thoughts and thought that perhaps I can do that in my little area of the world, with things that are meaningful to me like book reviews and the occasional DIY project that is rampant in blog land.
    Rachelle

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  71. Thanks Jen, I love your blog, you're so open and real whilst still having a gorgeous home and being gifted.

    I also love YHL and the Petersik's are so friendly and approachable. Sherry has agreed to help me out with a game on my blog this weekend to celebrate my 30th birthday and the fact that she even responded to my email humbled and honoured me so much.

    I'm glad you're making a living and are happy doing what you do. It makes you feel good to know that good things happen to good people! xx

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  72. Jen, I loved hearing your story. I think I have been reading for about 15 months and I always get something from your posts. I try to comment regularly because I know that posting takes so much time and comments are a nice way to say, "Hey! I read what you wrote and I appreciate what you shared." Hope you have a great day.

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  73. Thank you for this post, very useful and inspiring. Glad you are managing to make a living from something you love and spending time with your family :)

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  74. Great post -- and all of it is so true! I have a full-time job away from the home, and my blog is starting to take over...but I'm no where near being able to do it full time (financially). So I just keep reminding myself it's simply my creative outlet, hobby, and friend connector. Anything else that's going to come from it will happen naturally and slowly over time if it's meant to be.

    So glad you started blogging!!!

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  75. Thank you so much for this post, while I wished I had stumbled upon your blog loooong ago, it was just this very evening and I have been reading for about 4hours now :-). No worries, my family is only three of us, one being a cat so not a negative time thief especially because it's about organization which we need anyway.

    Sorry, lost my point, :-) my point was that I was very happy you wrote this post because I have been struggling with starting my own blog which I just want to do for fun and there are so many excellent points and great inspiration. I just may start tonight!
    Thanks again!

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  76. This is such a great post! I can tell you really took the time to write this one. You are so right on about the time blogging takes! Thanks for sharing:)

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  77. Thank you for sharing this and helping a new blogger learn some tips. I love reading your blog and look forward to new posts!

    -Tammy
    mommytamam.blogspot.com

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  78. This is really a great post!

    Dominik

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  79. This is a great post! I've been blogging now fo a couple years, but probably only super-consistently for the last year or so. I would really love my blog to take off and gain more followers. I am definitely taking your tips to heart. Thanks for all the tips and info. LOVE YOUR BLOG! www.heartofmorgan.blogspot.com

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  80. Thank you for this post - I love reading all your tips. Fantastic- I am a new blogger as well so its nice to see where and what can happen. www.thatsmykindofparty.com

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  81. Very well-written and to the point! Thank you for the inspiration to keep going. This is my first visit to your blog...found you on pinterest. I can't wait to put some of your amazing ideas to use! I sooooo need help with organizing!!

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  82. I'm a blogger to be and want to do it on book reviews .I'm just wondering what the legal agenda is with photos .If say I uploaded a photo ,could I be in trouble with the writer/publisher or is it seen as my property

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    Replies
    1. Hi there!

      I think it's ok to share a photo {you can always ask the original photo owner}, as long as you always source it back to them or reference where it was originally from.

      xoxo,
      Jen

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  83. Found your blog via Pinterest and clicked on this post. Thanks for sharing your tips and story. I revamped my blog a few months ago and am wanting to get more serious about it.

    Erika

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  84. Hi! I 'heart' your blog! :) You have inspired me to get organized! Thanks for all your blogging tips! Very helpful!

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  85. This was really great for me to read. I just started blogging about a month ago and MAN IS IT HARD! I admire the heck out of you big bloggers:) Thank you for the inspiration.

    http://shabbysweettea.com

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  86. Hi Jen, I have had a blog for about a year and have kept it as a hobby. I appreciate all the time it takes to get it just right. You certainly have a creative talent and you do great work. I enjoy reading your blog and seeing all your great ideas. Thanks

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  87. I am just getting started with my blog, which I started as a way to keep loved-ones current with my family as I am getting married, and my fiance and I are building a house. We have two little girls, so not a lot of free time, but you have inspired me to try to be more consistent with my posts. As a degree-toting journalist (ha!), I thought blogging would also be an effective way to hold myself accountable with my writing (or lack thereof). Thanks so much for sharing your story!! www.ribbonscurlsandcamo.blogspot.com

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  88. Excellent post. I loved learning more about you and thanks for taking the time to share so much about blogging and your success. Yours is my absolute favorite organizing blog!

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  89. Have you considered creating an organizing app for the iPad? I've been looking at the different apps that are out there and they aren't nearly as helpful or attractive as your templates.

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    Replies
    1. I have considered it but I don't have the first clue where to begin. I will keep it on my list of goals and who knows!? :)

      xoxo!
      Jen

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    2. I would love an iheartorganizing app for my iPad! Your ideas and passion inspire me to be better organised so we have a calm, loving and inviting home. Now I will get to spend more quality time with my daughter doing things we love. Thank you for all your hard work, it is greatly appreciated.

      Delete
  90. I've been reading your blog for a while now and I must say this has been sooooooo useful. I'm just starting now and I could use all the tips I can get!! Thank you so much!!
    http://lifeinsamsbox.blogspot.com.es/

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  91. So well written. Love everything you shared. Your blog truly is awesome and an inspiration. Glad I found it. www.bloggingwithamy.com is the one who recommended it to me. :)

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  92. Thanks for sharing! I definitely need your blog to help me get organized ;)

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  93. helpful post for the new blogger. how did you get your first post on young house love? did you contact them? how did you prioritize all that you needed to do and learn when you first started? i'm feeling overwhelmed by creating posts, learning about graphics, improving photography, learning html, and the list goes on...any thoughts are welcome.
    thank you,
    domonique

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  94. Hi Jen, I really love your blog. I'm crazy about organizing and really trying to find a way to earn some money and be with my kids. Job from my home is what I would gladly do. Maybe not blogging but thanks for sharing information. And who knows maybe a fellow blogger in the future. And, yeah I found so many great ideas that I used for organizing my home. Thanks a lot. :)

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  95. Hi Jen, I recently found your blog...thanks for all the great tips! It's encouraging to hear that it took awhile to get a following. (I don't make any money from my blog, but I do enjoy writing & photography.)

    I love your organizing and decorating ideas as well...an inspiring blog!

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  96. I've been reading your blog for awhile now, and I finally got around to reading this entry. Very helpful! I recently started a new blog, and these tips have really helped. You have an incredible talent!

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  97. Hi Jen,

    It's been a year since you posted this article and still it's inspiring people! Thank you so much for sharing your thoughts and stories. I just started my blog and you are one of my main sources of inspiration. I first found you when I was desperate for some organizing advice (I am a bit domestically challenged)but over time, I read mostly because I love your positive tone of voice and feel your big heart in every post. It makes me so happy! This post has given me so much inspiration and I have read it many times, especially when things didn't go as planned. The ups & downs of blogging are so much easier to handle knowing it's not just me. Thnx Jen, keep inspiring us all!

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  98. Hello Jen...I just found you via the Blogging Stories series and thank you for taking "four hours" to write this post. It was very informative for me, as a new blogger and I can already relate to much of what you do and have experienced!
    A special thanks for remind me to connect on Rate My Space...I had totally forgotten about it!
    Looking forward to seeing more of what you do!
    With Warm Regards and Many Thanks,
    JP

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  99. Hello, I just found your blog last night, and I am in love with it! I shared with my friends already, there are so many good ideas here :) I love this post, thank you for sharing the ins and outs. There are many out there who find success, but are not willing to share any tips or "secrets" on how they have made it so far. The fact that you are willing to share and teach others says a lot about the person you are. I wish you many more blessings, success, health and happiness to you and your beautiful family. Thanks again!

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  100. Jen -

    Great tips and advice! I need it trying to get my blog and etsy shop off of the ground!

    Thanks,
    Katie

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  101. So much great information. Thank you.

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  102. HI! I am a new blogger and see sooooooo many areas I need to improve all at once, it is HARD not to get discouraged! I blog about hope and gratitude and so far it has just been crickets for comments! THia post has encouraged me to keep looking around to see what works for others-like awesome design and apply it to mine. I'm nattie at hopeonhand.blogspot.com (this is just fyi - please feel free to delete before posting!

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  103. Hi Jen, I have been a fan of your blog for so long but for some reason I only came across this post today!! Thank you from the bottom of my heart! I am starting a blog and while I know exactly what I want it to look like and do, I needed information on how the business side of it work and you provided that so well. Keep up the good work, it is so appreciated. Take care Frances (Dublin, Ireland)

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  104. I have been a fan for some time and reference your site all of the time.

    I nominated your blog for a Liebster Award! Please, see my post for details: http://angeebees.blogspot.com/2013/09/a-liebster-award-is-what-exactly.html

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  105. Wow, I really enjoyed reading this. I just started my blog (http://neonkaleidoscope.blogspot.nl - about scrapbooking and art journalling), so I guess I just have to keep posting and be patienced - because right now I almost have no traffic at all. As a professional designer it is quite frustrating that your artistic work isn't seen, but again you told me what to have... PATIENCE!

    You gave me an inspirational boost to just keep on going...
    Thank you for that!

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  106. Thank you for your tips. I just started my own Decluttering Blog and all of your advice is very helpful! My challenge is finding the time to write and finding new topics to write about that will keep my readers interested. I also will follow your advice about using big pictures! My pictures are very small. This is my first visit to your blog and I look forward to reading your other posts!

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  107. Hi Jen, tots ADORE your blog; love jumping on to see if you have posted any new stuff each day :-) This is probably a really silly question, but how do you go about creating the seperate links on each page? For example your Project Gallery? Cheers, Amie

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  108. Jen, I'm not sure if this post will get to you or not but I hope it does because I want to tell you something:
    A couple weeks ago I started my own blog. I can't believe I did it. I knew nothing about building a website, what HTML is, how to upload fonts, what CSS or RSS is, or anything outside of writing a letter in Word. But here is what I want you to know...
    It was YOU that made me want to blog. I discovered your site over a year ago and immediately started downloading your pages and using your etsy shop. I have my Martha Stewart discbound notebook, my Arc thingy, the same tabs and stickers as you; even the felt tip pens. I absolutely loved your style and brightness and organizing is something my ADD self needs in life. Although I could never duplicate what you do, and my blog ended up being about simplicity in motherhood and the homeschooling lifestyle, still I feel all warm and tingly inside when I get your updates and realize that i Heart organizing is sort of "home" for me...the place where my own desire to create and share was born.
    Thank you for your inspiration. And I am so glad you wrote this post. Everyone deserves to know how hard you work.
    (I myself am SHOCKED at how many hours I have spent just watching youtube videos on the simplest thing. 8 hrs a day, three weeks later, and all I have is 6 posts. Lol!)

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    Replies
    1. Hi LindseyLoo,

      Congratulations on the new blog!! And thank you for all of your kindness. It really hit my heart, and it is always so sweet to hear how this happy space impacts those that read here. And I love that this is a "home" for you, that is what it is all about. I wish you nothing but the best as you work on your blog, and hope that you find it to be a fun and exciting experience for you!

      xoxo!

      Delete
  109. I've been following your blog since not so long ago and have just found out about this post. I'm not sure if this comment will get to you, but I just want to say thank you so much for the post! It is super useful as I have started blogging earlier this year. Thank you for telling us all the info and your amazing experience.

    Thank you so much again and I wish you all the best in the future.

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  110. Just found this post & I cannot say THANK YOU enough!! My husband & I are working on the idea of me staying home... in about 6 months with the arrival of our first little one. The thought of going from 2 to 1 incomes is a bit frightening & I've been going over & over & over in my head different things that I can do from home, that I enjoy & that will hopefully/eventually generate a bit of a supplemental income. Of course I've been trying to reinvent the wheel, coming up with something new & fresh when all along I already have what I can do - my blog! I do love blogging & what I blog about but, it's time I step up my game & take it to the next level. This post alone has given me many ideas & reminders too! Thanks again!

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  111. Good stuff! And I can totally relate to the difficult balance between getting your blog up and running and regular family/life stuff. NOT EASY! I'm still a newbie and finding it difficult to come up with the best schedule for myself and a way to shut down when necessary. Everything I do makes me feel like I need to photograph it "just in case" I need it for a post! LOL

    ReplyDelete

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