I’m in the Bloglight at Hometalk!

inthebloglight

Hi everyone!  I’m thrilled to have been chosen by Miriam as Hometalk’s Blogger in the Bloglight this week!  What an honor!  Are you familiar with Hometalk?   It’s a place where you can share home projects and get feedback from a great big friendly community of other home loving enthusiasts.

Miriam is the Hometalk spokesperson who has truly poured her soul into making it a thriving place to share ideas with one another.  I first met Miriam when she commented personally on my blog and invited me to post more to the Hometalk boards.  When I clicked over, it opened up a great big forum full of DIY and home renovating kind of people.  My kind of people. What I love best about Hometalk is the spirit of kindness and positivity that surrounds the boards.  Everyone is supportive and helpful.  There are all walks of life and levels of experience who are regular posters, so you get a well-rounded response to your questions.  For my first post I shared my hanging ladder patio chandelier which received an overwhelmingly good response from the Hometalk community. Miriam shared it on the Hometalk facebook page and my traffic went through the roof! With nearly half a million facebook fans, a single feature on their page can give a blogger a big ol’ boost!

 After about a year of interacting and lurking on the Hometalk forums I finally had the pleasure of meeting Miriam at the Haven Conference in Atlanta, where we were both able to connect with so many other incredible home and DIY bloggers. Since that time, Miriam has created an amazing network of design bloggers called Blogtalk with the help of some hard-working Hometalk Ambassadors who happen to be pretty outstanding ladies as well!   I wrote my post on How to Go Viral On Pinterest especially for the Blogtalk group.  There have been webinars and Google Hangouts and get-togethers among the Blogtalkers

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 I’ve learned a TON over the past six months with no signs of slowing.  This group has been an incredible blessing to me and so many others.  I’m so thankful to be a part of it!  I think I tell Miriam this about once a month, but THANK YOU for creating a place for all of us to come together and bounce ideas off of one another.  Thanks to all my fellow Blogtalkers and Miriam for having me in the Bloglight today. 

For this feature Miriam wrote me and said “I mustache you some questions.” so here we go…

 How did you first get into blogging?

Like so many others, I began my blog as a personal journal, then became a mom blogger after the birth of  our son Garrett in 2008.  I kept monthly updates about his every move up until he was about two years old.  Just after G turned two years old we moved into our current home, which rekindled my passion for decorating.  I have always had a love for interior design, but this new house really challenged me and forced me get creative. I needed an outlet to bounce ideas around, so I turned to my blog to share projects and get feedback on some of the harder decorating decisions.   When that happened, my blog transitioned to be more focused in the DIY and design blogging niche.  Once I honed in on that specific niche instead of posting about our random life events my traffic really began to soar.  It really is true what they say about blogging- if you want to have more readers, find your niche and stick with it. 

 I wouldn’t trade those older posts about my son for anything in the world, though.  I love going back through them and reading about all the monthly milestones of G’s life.  Most moms have a baby book, I have a baby blog.  Nowadays I have Instagram

 How did you decide on the name of your blog?

A lot of people are curious about how my blog got it’s name since it has ZERO relevance as a DIY blogger. Here’s how it happened.  During the time I was mulling over the idea of creating a public blog, my friend Dusty at All Things G&D was talking about her trip to see Poison in concert. She inspired me to name my new blog Unskinny Bop after their old 80′s song, but then I glanced over at the Boppy pillow that my son was sitting in on the floor and POOF! A magical idea was formed.  Unskinny Boppy was born.

If you weren’t into big hair bands in the 80′s then there is a chance that none of this will make any sense to you. If you do know what I’m talking about, then you already have that song stuck in your head.

You’re welcome.

I never really realized how awkward it would be to have to say my blog name out loud to people until I went to Haven in Atlanta.  Because it’s so off-the-wall I nearly changed my blog name when I switched from Blogger to WordPress, but it’s just so doggone UNIQUE.  How can I give up on something that is so Google searchable?  I just can’t do it.   So even though it has nothing to do with home design, I’ll always be Beth at Unskinny Boppy, even if people give me weird looks when I say it outloud.

 Is blogging something you do on the side, or is it a full time job for you? What do you do for a living?

Blogging is strictly my hobby.  I am co-owner of a commercial modular building company where I’ve worked alongside my family since 1999.   I have a degree in interior design with a minor in business, so my job and my blog are both a natural fit for me. I handle the drafting and AutoCAD designs as well as space planning and sales of commercial office furniture for our client’s buildings. Oh, and I also am in charge of website updates, marketing and social media for our company, although I don’t claim to be good at any of that.  You can visit our extremely neglected and pitiful-Alexa-ranked company blog here: http://www.roseoffices.com/blog/.  I have never really talked about my real job related stuff here on my personal blog so this is a bit of new information for most of my readers. 

What was the first project you ever posted?

Back in 2008 I shared a tutorial on how to create a shadowbox table from an old window.  My talented husband made the table and I just blogged about it!  It is still getting pinned to this day.  You can see how far my photography skills have come since then.

Which project has brought you the most traffic to date?

By far, the clear winner of the most traffic post to date is the instruction on how to take a picture of your kid in front of Christmas lights.  But if you are asking which PROJECT brought me the most traffic then I’d have to say my time saving tips for painting wall stripes.

 Do you stick to a strict posting schedule?  How do you keep track of when and how often you post?

Up until just a few months ago, I had no schedule whatsoever on my blog.  My posts were scattered and sporadic, without much planning involved.  After Haven I realized just how serious some folks were with their blog schedules.  I had never been serious with blogging.  I know that sounds crazy and I know I keep saying “After Haven I…”, but it’s true! Haven taught me a ton about blogging and how other bloggers do things.  For some reason I thought that most people blogged just for fun, but after Haven I saw that was not the case and realized that I might need to step up my game just a little bit.

Once I took on the FOLK Magazine gig and other new blogging opportunities started rolling in, I knew I had to find a way to be more organized on my blog or things would fall through the cracks. I installed the Editorial Calendar plug-in for my blog, and it’s helped me dramatically with scheduling posts and staying on top of blogging deadlines.  Now that I’m trying to be all professional and junk, so I write posts a few days in advance, schedule them to go live at 4:00 am on the morning I want them to go out to feedburner, and do all the social media stuff around 7 am when I get up. I highly recommend the Editorial Calendar plug-in to anyone with a WordPress blog. If you can’t install the plug-in, I recommend using Beckie’s Free Printable Blog Planner.  As for scheduling posts… We’ll see how long I can keep up this “professional” façade.  hehehe

What advice could you give to other bloggers that you wish you had known before you started blogging?

Oh, I have so many that I could probably write a book. Here are a few things I’ve picked up along the way.

 In these days of Pinterest, don’t use an image from another person’s site without permission.  It’s just not cool to steal someone’s Pinterest traffic by hijacking their pretty photos for your own blog. Be mindful of that. I’m guilty of this myself in the past. If they do give you permission, be sure to give them a good, descriptive link back to their site. Don’t just do a “via” or “click here”.  Highlight all the text that describes what you are linking.

 If you want to get noticed as a blogger, take excellent photos.  Blurry pictures with bad lighting and junk lying around in the background are not going to get shared as often as the bright, crisp, clean pictures. Getting shared = more traffic.  Unless you are taking pictures of your Christmas tree, try to take your blog photos during the day. Taking photos at night just insures you’ll have to retake them all again the next day.  Trust me on this.   Find the good natural lighting in your home, and you’ve got your money shot. Also, edit your pics!  If you don’t have Lightroom or Photoshop software for editing, use picmonkey.com or ribbett.com or another free editing service.  Pretty much every single picture that goes up on my blog nowadays is edited (with the exception of the grainy window table and instagram pics above!). 

Don’t wait to start advertising on your blog.  At the very least put up a Google Adsense ad so it can bring you some sort of income. My friend Kari at Thistlewood Farms told me a few months ago “Don’t let the sun go down without at least putting up an Adsense ad on your blog.”  I took her advice and by the end of the night I had made a whole dollar!  I was so excited! LOL  Blogging is hard work. Blogging is time consuming. You deserve to get paid SOMETHING for it. Even if it’s twelve dollars a month, that’s still better than nothing, right?

 Go to a blog conference. Don’t be scared.  Just pick one, put on your game face and go.  Smaller sized conferences are better so you can really have a chance to meet new people and not just be a face in the crowd.  Go and soak it all in, absorb every word and make friends!  Don’t sit in your room alone or with your husband.  Hang out at the bar late at night and be sociable.  That’s where all the juicy stuff gets shared. 

 Don’t write a fluff post just to say that you produced content that day. If you feel forced to post daily, (which I’ve found a surprising number of bloggers do) then it’s going to eventually feel just that– forced.   I would much rather have a gap in my blog stats than to feel contrived in my posts just to fill the space. 

Bear in mind that your posts should be written for both blog WRITERS and blog READERS. These are two different groups of people (with some overlap between the two, of course.) For some reason I didn’t realize until recently that many of my readers are not bloggers. Duh. For a long time I wrote posts that catered to other bloggers without taking into consideration that many of my readers don’t even have blogs. Those non-bloggers don’t need to know how to redirect their URL’s or watermark their photos. They just want good ideas and interesting content to read. You have to keep a balance between those types of posts and link parties so that everyone who visits your blog can find a take-away piece of information.

 So, there you go. These are just a few of my opinions based on many years of blogging and observing other bloggers. 

I absolutely adore blogging and the blogging community or I wouldn’t have done it for so long.  I tell myself that the day my blog is no longer fun is the day I quit doing it.  Hopefully I’ll still be having fun for many years to come! I’m definitely having a blast right now!

 Thanks again to Hometalk for featuring me in the Bloglight this week! 

For more useless information about me, visit my “About Me” page. 

 If you’d like to join me around the web, click on the buttons here:

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Comments

  1. You are such an inspiration Beth! Your post was perfect timing for me as I am trying to grow my blog and learn along the way. You are always willing to share all of your success secrets and tips. It is so much appreciated! Thank you, thank you! :-)

    Also, I had no idea about your “day” job. I love to draft and never had the chance to try AutoCad. I bet it is fun and much easier than the good old ink pens we used in college. I remember being done with a project – one false move and the ink would smear all over the paper. Ha!

    You are the best, Beth!
    Thanks!

  2. Wonderful post Beth, (and I love your blog name)! You’ve always got so much to share with others, you are so very kind. I love your home and the projects you turn out, you are very creative and you have great taste! Congratulations on being featured as well – I wish you very good luck in your blogging ventures!

  3. That was so much fun! What an epic post, my friend! I loved reading all about your thoughts and your life and all that. I didn’t realize you had been blogging for so many years. Thanks for letting us get to know you just a little better and congrats for being in the bloglight! :)

  4. Wow! You are so full of helpful tidbits I totally love hearing about your path to success! AWESOME! Thanks for taking the time to share Beth! And you look real cute in that ‘mustache’! :) XO, Aimee

  5. I’ve loved your blog for awhile now and I really enjoyed this post. Great info! I appreciate you sharing your knowledge and getting that Poison song stuck in my head. :)
    Thanks,
    Nikki

  6. This is seriously an amazing post … a great insight into your blog, a little about your personal life, tips for blogging … I feel like I’ve met you all over again! Here is to MUCH success in your future, Beth!

  7. Great tips here Beth and it was so fun to read your post and get to know you better!! You sure have a lot on your plate girl!! Congrats on the feature with Hometalk!! Love your striped wall! I am going to try that!

  8. Wonderful post, Beth! Loved learning more about you and hearing about your path to blogging success! This post was chock-full of awesome tips, too! Thanks for sharing! Oh, and I love your name….glad you never changed it! :)

  9. Awww, Beth! I so want to be you when I grow up! You have come a long way and I feel proud of you! haha. Thanks for inviting me into your home last year without even meeting me in real life. I hope we grow to become better friends in the future!!

  10. I love this post! Great information and advice, and I love getting to know more about you. Keep up the good work and congratulations on your well-deserved success!

  11. I loved learning so much more about you, Beth! I read every word and soaked up all that great advice. :) Congratulations on being “in the bloglight!”

  12. Good stuff! I’ve been following you for a very long time and have watched how far you’ve come. You truly are gifted, and turn everything you touch to gold! Xo

    Oh p.s. don’t EVER change your blog name!

  13. Beth!
    Loved learning a bit more about you – I’ve been meaning to ask about your blog name for ages and now I know! Of course, I rocked the biggest Jersey girl 80′s hair back in the day so I can totally relate!

    So fun seeing how you’ve grown from that first pic to your amazing Christmas tree pic.

    And I am definitely going to be looking into that calendar plug in.
    Kelly

  14. Great post Beth! Loved learning a bit more about you and your start blogging!

  15. Congrats on being the Bloglight! I love your post and thanks for the great information about blogging! You are an inspiration!
    Thanks for sharing!
    Leslie

  16. Great post, Beth! I decided to blog for myself and my readers a few months ago, and it has made the biggest difference! Congratulations on being in the bloglight!!!

  17. Congrats on being Hometalk Blogger for the WEEK! WHOOHOO!!! I loved all the links and great shares that you posted throughout your blog post, and thanks so much for sharing my Blog Journal!

  18. Blogging for yourself and your readers is so important! It is way to easy to get caught up in everything else, so I like that you have your priorities straight! Congrats on being in the BLOGLIGHT!

  19. Congrats Beth! How nice to be in the “Bloglight” :) You sure have had some amazing things happening. I wish you many more successes and a wonderful 2013 ~ Shannon

  20. Great post! And you’re so right about your blog name. Long ago, before I ever had a blog, I came across yours and immediately fell in love with the name!
    :) Elena
    acasarella.net

  21. Beth,
    I love this post. Congrats on the Hometalk feature. Wonderful tips and I especially loved to see the table/window feature. I have an old window that I keep looking at and now I know what to do with it! You have inspired me to “possibly” start my blog – (you can see I’m still scared).

  22. Beth…I so loved reading your story … I understand what you mean about Haven and all of the wonderful things you can learn from the conference…and I so remember that “wall stripes post”..a great one…Congrats on your feature…you are a true inspiration to all of us!!

  23. Wonderful advice here – thanks so much for sharing it.

  24. Such a wonderful post by a super sweet girl!! thank you for sharing Beth!

  25. Congrats on the feature. I loved hearing about your blog name. I had always wondered. I enjoyed readig about your blogging journey. laurie

  26. What a great post Beth! Love getting to know more about you :)
    XO
    Kristin

  27. It was great meeting you at Haven :) Thank you for all your tips and congratulations on all your success. You are an inspiration :)
    Debbie

  28. great tips Beth and it really seems you have your head screwed on straight. While I wasn’t fortunate enough to catch any in stream, gotta say – really digging the projects you shared here. thanks for the tip too on the Editorial Calendar plugin (gotta be better than my failed attempts with Google’s Calendar). Oh and Miriam pulled the same move on me. Just don’t have your great story or your mad decorating talent. keep up the great work. ~jb

  29. I loved reading your story, Beth. Thanks so much for sharing it and congratulations! : )

  30. I love getting to know you a little better! Great story, love the advice! You’re such an inspiration!! Congratulations on the feature! So excited to see you there this week!

  31. Beth, congrats on your feature! I remember how we met you at Haven. You instantly made my husband feel welcome when you said to him, “Boy aren’t you brave!” or something to that effect. Your vibrant personality made an impression on us (not to mention your creativeness and your willingness to share info!) Soooo happy for you!

  32. Really enjoyed your feature. congratulations! been following you a while and love your blog. Question: I was wondering if there is a list of blog conferences somewhere –I live on the east coast of NJ and would love to meet other bloggers but I am so new to this that I have no clue where! you son is a real cutie! and thanks for taking the time to let us get to know you better

  33. This was just such a great read! I drank in every word. Your writing style is like sitting across a table from you getting the lowdown on what’s new. It was so cool to meet you at Bella Rustica this year and I sure hope there will be more chances to hook up! I guess we both better just keep on blogging then, huh? :)

  34. Sweet & yes, that song pops into my head every time I see your blog name – lol!

    Congrats on your feature xox

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