In the Bloglight-My Blogging Story

Wow, y’all…I’m so excited today to be featured “In the Bloglight.”  This is a huge honor for me as it lets me talk a little bit more about myself and my blogging story to both my readers and the amazing bloggers I have had the honor of getting to know on Hometalk’s aptly named blogging community-Blogtalk.

If you aren’t familiar with Hometalk it is an amazing community of home enthusiasts-from professional contractors, interior designers, landscapers, bloggers, to everyday people who just love things home and garden! You can post your projects and questions and get feedback from others in the community-its an awesome resource! I share many projects from my blog there and also post pictures with questions for things I need help with-like how to landscape around our newly constructed pool.

 

So for the first time visitors, welcome to The Happier Homemaker. Here is a little bit about my blogging journey…

How did you start blogging?

I first began blogging in 2007. After the birth of my oldest son Jack my husband and I had moved to the middle of nowhere a remote Army Ranger Camp in Florida and I began blogging to keep our extended family updated on how we were doing.  I kept that blog up for a few years as our family added our second son and we moved to Kansas, but as Facebook got more and more popular my family blog sort of fell by the wayside in favor of status updates.

In 2009 I was on the Board of Directors of a charity that made cards and afghans for senior citizens and that led me to sign up as a rep for a popular stamping/scrapbooking company so I could recieve the discount for supplies. I had a blog associated with paper-crafting for about 1.5 years but I quickly became disillusioned with the direct sales aspect of the company I worked with and in the spring of 2010 I stopped blogging my creations.  Shortly thereafter we moved yet again to North Carolina this time.

Fast forward to June of 2011, I found myself 7 months pregnant with my third son and six months into my husband’s year-long deployment to Iraq (his third year deployed since 2003.)  I was seven weeks pregnant when my husband left, with a four and two year old at home.  After he deployed I bought a new vehicle (hurray for the minivan!), moved to a bigger rental, and was all together exhausted but “soldiering on” in true Army-wife fashion.  I felt like most days I talked to no one over the age of 5 and I desperately wanted a way to connect with others.  So one evening after my boys were tucked away in bed I started blogging-again.

My blogging was erratic to say the least.  I had intended to write more about homemaking and parenting-hence the name “The Happier Homemaker,” but as time went by and I began reading more and more blogs myself I felt drawn to DIY, craft, and interior design blogs rather than homemaking blogs.

My baby was born two days before my husband made it home on leave and then a short two weeks later he was on his way again.  I was still recovering from a C-section, with now THREE little boys under five, and on my own again.  Blogging came and went but luckily four months later my husband was home safe and after cramming as much family time as possible into the next few months I again turned to blogging.  I talked with my husband and told him I wanted to blog about DIY and I wanted to approach it as more than a hobby.  He was fully supportive and in March of this year The Happier Homemaker in its current form was born.  My first “real” projects were an IKEA bookcase hack and building my own headboard.  I was hooked-although my photography still left much to be desired! (Don’t judge if you click those links!!)

In April of this year we moved into a new home (still in NC) we had built and the projects kept flowing.  With the help of a Wooden Stained Map I made that went viral on Pinterest (my most popular post to date) my blog grew very quickly over the past six months. I am very grateful that I can now bring income into my family by doing something I love and staying home with my children.  My husband now refers to my blog as my “job” and I think of it as such as well-although it is currently a part time job I am hoping that it will be full-time once my youngest is in school in a few years.

DIY blogging feels like I have found my calling.  I can be creative, connect with amazing people all over the world, all while the baby naps! It has helped me to come out of my shell a bit as I’m naturally extremely shy.  Just two weeks ago I attended the Southern Bloggers Conference in nearby Raleigh, NC and I was able to meet some amazing bloggers and friends which would have been a very challenging situation for me just a few years ago.

picture graciously provided by cottageatthecrossroads.com

How do you blog?

I love to blog about DIY home decor the most, but I also do a lot of crafts and throw in some recipes every now and then.  I find a lot of my inspiration from magazines and catalogs-I do a lot of “knock off” type projects.  Linky parties, and sites like Pinterest and Hometalk offer a great source for finding new blogs to follow.  I don’t blog on a strict schedule-when I first started blogging I thought quantity was better than quality when it came to posting but I have learned that is most definitely NOT the case! Nowadays I blog when I have something to share-usually 3-4 times a week.  I’ve also stopped posting on the weekends, so I can devote that time to my family rather than feeling the need to be “out there” promoting my posts.

Do you have advice for new bloggers?

I have learned so much since I started blogging with intent to grow my blog…if I had to offer advice to new bloggers I would recommend buying your own domain name and starting on WordPress as early as possible in your blogging journey if you intend to make it a business.  If you aren’t sure you want to blog long-term you can start on a free platform like Blogger but be aware that the longer you’re on Blogger the higher stakes a switch is down the line.  (I just switched myself this past August, see this post if you are thinking about the switch.)

I would also recommend setting up your social media from the start-I resisted having my blog represented on Facebook and Twitter for a while and wish I hadn’t…it’s a great way to “talk” with my readers and network with other bloggers!! Also as a home blogger it is vital to take beautiful pictures.  If you don’t know how to use the Manual setting on your DLSR, learn now!  Pinterest is my #1 referrer and it is because I make a point to take the best pictures I can and make them easy for my readers to pin-adding a title on the picture and a pin it button underneath are essential.

My absolute #1 tip for new bloggers however is to find your community-when I first started blogging I felt competitive with and honestly even jealous of other bloggers.  Joining the Hometalk and Blogtalk communities totally changed the way I viewed the blogging community as a whole-I finally felt like I belonged and it provided a platform for me to learn from more experienced bloggers and offer to share what I had learned as well. I found my “blogging tribe” of friends and we promote each other and help each other to grow-it’s amazing!  Ah, I could go on and on, I have truly learned so much over the past six months! I welcome any new or aspiring bloggers to contact me, my (email) door is always open!!

Thank you Hometalk for creating the Blogtalk community and allowing me this opportunity to be “In the Bloglight” today.  I truly appreciate this chance to share a little bit more of my story! You can find me on Hometalk here, I hope you’ll come over and join me!

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Comments

  1. says

    Great story and post! I so agree with you on how to start out, it’s so important to go for the gusto and set up yourself everywhere and anywhere you can. And grab that .com before another does! :)

    So glad you’re a part of HomeTalk! It’s been fun chatting it up with you!

  2. says

    It is nice to meet you through the spotlight on BlogTalk, Melissa! I love all the new blogs I am learning about there. You sound like an amazing person with a terrific husband! I am not a crafty person but I’ll be moving cross country soon, and will have a new lifestyle taking care of a baby granddaughter, so I don’t rule anything out..lol I loved your stained map project and I can’t wait to look around more on your blog.
    Pat @ Mille Fiori Favoriti recently posted..Cape Neddick (Nubble) Lighthouse, MaineMy Profile

  3. says

    Congrats on the feature, Melissa! What a terrific and inspiring story. It’s wonderful that you found a way to connect, when you would have been isolated otherwise. That’s one of the main reasons I took up blogging as well. That and needing to do something more creative in my life! I look forward to seeing more from you and seeing your little business grow to it’s full potential! :)
    sherry recently posted..Join Gooseberry Patch’s Halloween Link Up Here!My Profile

  4. says

    Why I love HomeTalk so much…getting to me and connect with lovely people like you Melissa! It was so much fun to get to see you at the Conference! You are such an encouraging and sweet person! It was so great to read your story and learn even more about you, thank you for sharing it with us!

    Heather

  5. says

    I recently started following your blog. Not sure how I found you (I wish I could remember those details) but I’m so glad I did. I am trying to get more serious about blogging and it’s nice to read that some of the feelings I’m feeling are shared. Thanks for the information you have provided! I am going to head right over and check out this Blogtalk community :)

  6. says

    What a blogging journey you’ve had, Melissa! I’ve been blogging steadily for 4 years, and still haven’t taken it as seriously as you take it. I loved reading about your blogging journey. A huge thank you to you and your husband for your service to our country. Since I’m still on Blogger, I’m off now to read your post about WP. Congratulations on being in the Blog Spotlight. laurie
    laurie recently posted..SPRING-LIKE DINING IN THE FALLMy Profile

  7. says

    Melissa, congratulations on the spotlight! I just want to let you know how much I admire you and what you’ve accomplished. I appreciate all the sacrifices you and your husband have given for our country, and I know it must be incredibly difficult to blog with 3 small children. But you do it well. I’m so glad I’ve gotten to know you better through Blogtalk and then actually meeting you at SBC.
    Jane @ Cottage at the Crossroads recently posted..It’s Cotton Pickin’ Time!My Profile

  8. says

    I loved this post! I love feeling like I’m getting to know my favorite bloggers – thanks for sharing. Also, I can’t wait to get into the forum — I’m just waiting for my daughter to NAP so I can really play!

  9. says

    Thank you for sharing your story! I remember the map art! You have inspired me to do two things: take better pictures and explore social media. I want my blog to go from hobby to business. Now I know what I need to do :)

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