Here’s a glimpse into my personal life as I explain a little as to why I blog in the first place…
Being the author of a decorating and DIY blog has opened up an avenue of design for me that I couldn’t have imagined just a few years ago. You see, I’m a self-made interior designer so to speak. I successfully owned my own design business for about 10 years. I’ve had very little ‘formal education’ in interior design, but being so deeply interested in design since I was a small girl, I’ve always read and taken note of design and decorating details, then branching out and helping friends with their own decorating and design projects helped me to continually learn along the way. The couple classes I took at community college in design were beneficial and it would have been great to have the time to get a full degree, but I was able to learn a lot on my own so that by the time our oldest child went to college, I was ready to start a small decorating business.
My business took off like wild fire… I first started out thinking I’d work through one project at a time, doing all the painting, sewing and custom crafts that the project required, then moving on to the next project and so on. Well, it didn’t take me more than 2 projects into my new business venture to realize that to do it all myself was not a good business plan, there’s a lot to be said with subcontracting! My first project quickly turned into more than 5 or 6 projects at a time… No way could I have time to be doing the physical work along with the design work for all those projects. It was exciting to learn and grow my business.
Sometime I’ll have to get into the ins and outs of making a profitable interior design business, but for now, long story short, after 10 years of having an amazingly successful business, I decided it was time for me to take a step back. It was a really hard decision for me. My interior design business was sort of like my baby… I had nurtured it into a thriving thing.
But alas, it was not my child, I have 3 children and a number of grandchildren, and I in no way loved my business like them. I felt that my family needed me and honestly, I needed me. Some of our family members had gone through and were currently going through some really hard things… including death, divorces and all the ugliness that comes from that. I was feeling like I was drowning in it all.
Certainly I had lost interest in, what seemed like at the time, the unimportant details of interior decorating. I had thoughts in my head at client’s homes like: “who cares if your sofa matches your wall color? Seriously, at least you’re alive, your kids are alive, you’re married, your children get to live with both their mom and dad under the same roof…”
Those are somewhat true statements, sofas and wall colors don’t compare with life and death, but to not care to the point of being annoyed by my clients because they do care, isn’t a recommended attitude for an interior decorator! And it certainly wasn’t who I was… I loved and always felt there was importance in having a surrounding that was organized and lovely and wanted to help others achieve that for their spaces. Yet, I was drowning in my sorrow, worry and concern for my family, and I just didn’t have it in me at that time to help others with their decorating needs, so I stepped down, completely closing my doors, to try to regain some sanity inside myself.
It took some time and counseling, but mostly a lot of alone time with God, as I slowly released my pain and worry to Him. That was several years ago, and I still continually have to make the choice to release stuff to Him. I don’t necessarily realize I’m holding onto and burying it inside me when I’m doing it, but then I start to feel the effects of it… both physically and emotionally.
I’m an introvert. If I don’t have alone time, a lot of alone time, I am exhausted. I need that alone time to be able to quietly reflect. When I was in full time business, I had no time at all for that quiet reflection, which made me into a not so healthy person.
But, I missed design, and helping people with decorating needs.
Then we were able to buy a small investment property. It was an antique brick house in the town we live in that was in need of repair and design. I was finally at the point emotionally and spiritually that I could start back into design a little, so this was the perfect project. Some might have considered the project a large project, major gutting and redesign was needed, but because it didn’t involve ‘clients’, it was a very manageable project for this introverted, healing designer. You can read more about that project here… I nicknamed it ‘The Little Brick Cottage’ and it was not only a fun renovation, it was a therapeutic project for me. (I started out my blog being called DecorateWithaLittleBit, so you might see that on a few pictures in there still, but I unfortunately lost that domain, big learning lesson there, and now my blog is HometoCottage.com)
That was right about the time I started blogging. It was my daughter in law that spurred my interest. I wasn’t familiar with decorating blogs at all, but she, in her wisdom, thought it might be a good fit for me, and took the time to explain a bit about them to me. She was right, and I am so thankful to her for that! (among a lot of other things too!)
I love that I can once again be involved with interior design and decorating. I can still help people created functional and beautiful spaces through my blog. Yet, I can still have that much needed quiet time each day.
As my blog is growing, and I expand on it, (I’ll elaborate on that in a few weeks/months!!) I’m slowly earning a wee bit of income from it too, mostly just from advertising right now, but I have plans for that to expand too. We’ve always, even when I was in full time design business, set up our family budget to solely depend on my husband’s income. (The money I made went towards home projects that if we had to, we could have lived without, and aiding in college tuition for our kids.) That way I didn’t have to maintain working outside the house if something changed. When our kids were young and at home, I would take on minimal extra work, for a little extra income, mad money I called it. But my priority was to be a mom and homemaker. Yep! Homemaker! I’m proud of that. I love to be the one that spends time and energy to make our house a home. No offense to those of you that work full time, I’ve done that… but this is what I love and I’m not going to apologize for it. I know that when I was working full time, stuff in my house didn’t get done. I had to hire a house cleaner, (ok, so that part wasn’t so bad 😉 sometimes I like to clean, but it would be nice to just have it magically stay clean) we bought more prepared meals, I didn’t have the time or energy to put into the details of decorating or homemaking. And that’s totally OK, if that’s what you want. But that’s not what I want. I want my household to be organized, to function well, to be beautiful, to have yummy, nutritional meals and to have the time and energy to do fun little (and sometimes big) decorating projects. Those are ways I express my love to my family. To have time and energy to spend with my grandchildren is extremely important to me now too. I can’t do all that if I’m working full time too… something’s got to give… I’m not willing for it to be my family or my household or my own sanity for that matter.
Blogging gives me the outlet of helping others create a well functioning beautiful space for themselves. (I always used to joke to myself when I was in design business… I loved to help other make sense of and beautify their space so much that I’d have paid them to do it instead of them paying me. I was careful to keep that thought very quiet though…ha ha ha… if they only knew…)
So that’s where I am now… still designing and decorating, hoping to positively impact others to do the same, happy being a homemaker and grandma, and challenged building a blog and all the intricacies that go with that, from the technical aspect of it, to writing and photography, to understanding how to grow my audience, to list just a few of my challenges. (maybe someday in the future I’ll be able to share some basics with you how to run a successful blog too! 😉 ha ha) I will say that if you are considering starting a blog yourself, I’ve been really happy with the help BlueHost has given me. There is so much I don’t begin to understand on the technical end of this new venture, but they listen and take the time to help me with whatever ‘glitch’ arises.
Here are my best blogging tips… hopefully you can save yourself a lot of wasted time by learning from my mistakes.
- I self-hosted with BlueHost. They did the entire transfer for my site from the .com to the .org. Their support is excellent. I call them with all sorts of questions and they are so patient with me. They explain to me and will walk me through issues. They’ll tell me what I need and don’t need and fix it for me. I’ve never had a single person on the phone with them that isn’t extremely knowledgeable and patient with me, and that’s saying a lot. I’m so happy with this choice in a host!
- I purchased the Genesis Framework through Studio Press. There is still so much for me to learn. I don’t think I can explain the hook system that Genesis uses, (nope, I’m sure I can’t) but that’s the good part… I don’t have to! They do it for me. I tried a few other themes before I went with Genesis and was very frustrated with how limiting the design choices were. Now, with Genesis I can basically do any look on my site that I want. I love it!
- I use the Reaktiv plug-in ‘Genesis Design Palette Pro’. First of all, the plugin is amazing and makes it so user friendly for making changes to the Genesis Framework site. I love how easy it is to make minor and major changes to the way my site looks (plus, it’s really fun to work with!) But secondly, again so important to me, their help staff is AMAZING! They are so helpful and responsive. I feel like I have a partnership with them. They have seriously helped me through so many technical issues to help me accomplish the exact look I want for my blog.
Want to read a little more about me? Check out the About Me & My Blog Page
Thanks so much for stopping by! Please feel free to follow and share this blog with your friends, as well as on Facebook and Pinterest, Flipboard, Bloglovin, and on YouTube! I appreciate you reading along.
This post is linked up at the follow other site: Posed Perfection, Oh My Heartsie Girl, My Thrift Store Addiction, From My Front Porch to Yours, The Charm of Home, Design, Dining & Diapers, Too Much Time on My Hands, French Country Cottage, Chic on a Shoestring, The Girl Creative, Celebrate and Decorate, DIY Showoff, I Should be Mopping the Floor, Skip to my Lou, Coastal Charm, Between Naps on the Porch, My Uncommon Slice of Suburbia, StoneGable, A Stroll Thru Life, Tip Junkie, Home Stories A to Z, Yesterday on Tuesday, Cozy Little House, the DIY Dreamer, Pocketful of Posies, DIY by Design, Savvy Southern Style