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.
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.
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!
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