How They Blog: Katie Orr

KatieOrr-smallKatie Orr

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I couldn’t be more excited about this week’s guest. Some of you may know her and she may be new to others. Katie Orr is one of my very favorite people. As you’ll read in this interview, we have worked together a lot on various projects, primarily HelloMornings.

I want you to meet Katie because she has the one thing I think most bloggers need more than anything. I’ll tell you what that one thing is at the end of the interview. In the meantime, read her story, take notes and tell me in the comments what your takeaways are and what you’ll take action on today.

Meet Katie Orr

1. Give us a quick intro to you, your family and your blog.

Chris and I have been married for 10 years, and we have 3 children. Kenneth (almost 8), Anna (5), and Micheal (3). My husband is a pastor and we recently moved to Kentucky to take on a dear, Gospel-centered church.

Since we’ve been married God has had us on a cycle of sorts: move, have baby; move, have baby; move, have baby. We’re hoping to break that cycle on both accounts, and are looking forward to settling into deep roots here in Kentucky.

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I grew up in Cali, went to school at Auburn University, Alabama (War Eagle!), then lived in Jacksonville, FL where I met and married my hubbie. We served on staff with Campus Crusade for Christ in college ministry for 5 years in Jax (where we had Kenneth) and then Atlanta (where we had Anna). God called us from campus to pastoral ministry in 2008. We headed back down to FL where we moved several times and had one more little one (Michael). Four of those years, the hubs was in seminary full-time.

Yeah, it’s been kinda crazy!

My most recent project is the HelloMornings blog. It launched January 2013 as a “blog-baby” from Inspired to Action.

I currently (sporatically) blog on my personal blog, blog.katieorr.me, and am a regular contributor for Inspired To Action, Flourish (a site of the North American Missions Board for minister’s wives), and the newly launched Hope for the Weary Mom blog (LOVE!). I also own/produce Do Not Depart, a resource blog filled with tips and encouragement for Bible study and Scripture memory.

2. Tell us your blogging story. (Is this your first blog? How did you get started? How long have you been blogging?) Feel free to share anything that might be helpful for growing bloggers.

I started blogging over 3 years ago. I had recently moved and then had Michael and found myself isolated, bored, and in need of accountability and community. I love to teach the Bible, but knew it wasn’t the season of life to start up a small group Bible study, so I thought I might try out teaching online and Study Acts with Me was born. (Yeah, so creating great titles is not my strength.)

It was a simple Blogspot blog where I typed out what I was learning about God through Acts and invited friends to join me. It was a great source of accountability and encouragement for me, and it was through this blog God led me to the online community I had no idea existed (or needed)!

Study Acts with Me morphed into the beginnings of Do Not Depart, where I shared Bible study tips and continued to host Bible studies and Scripture memory challenges like Hide His Word.

Soon, I found myself wanting to blog about the day’s events, but sharing stories about the kids, or how much I love my steam mop just didn’t seem to fit under the umbrella of Do Not Depart — so I launched my personal blog, then called Living Devotionally. It was about this time I transitioned Do Not Depart to a multiple contributor site.

I’ve since been all over the map contributing for numerous blogs and setting up my own ministry sites (KatieOrr.me, Quench Bible , Focused15, HelloMornings). I really enjoy the troubleshooting of blogging, and setting up sites. I knew zero about html, css, rss, etc., before I started blogging, but it has been fun to get in behind the scenes to figure it out. I’ve created and designed all my own blogs and websites (with exception of the Quench logo ), and even migrated two blogs from Blogger to WordPress on my own (with the help of various online tutorials).

Random tip: When you see something on a blog you like, right-click on what you like and look for the “Inspect Element” option. Another screen will pop up and give you all sorts of information about the site’s properties. You might find they use a certain plug-in, or see the margin values, etc.

This also works well when you have an uncooperative margin or image. Looking at the elements, you can see where in the editor you can change things. I was so excited when someone showed me how to use this!

Second random tip: Save up and go to a blogging conference. There are so many online projects and partnerships that I can trace back to both years of going to Relevant/Allume conference. Not to mention getting to meet all my online friends! I’ll be headed to the Declare conference this August, and can not wait!

3. Tell us about a blogging “success” or “failure” that taught you a powerful lesson.

I still struggle with feeling like I don’t fit the “typical” blogger’s shoes. I am not a natural writer; nor am I funny, inspiring, or a great entrepreneur. It took me a very long time to allow myself the title of writer. Though I do (finally) call myself a writer, I know that I am at my core a teacher and a leader, and I write to teach. I don’t know if I will always be a blogger, but I know that I will always be a teacher and a leader.

Trouble comes when I get too far from teaching and leading. Blogging allows me to process my struggles — especially with motherhood — but even in that I blog to point people to God’s word, Christ’s work on the cross, and our desperate need for both.

I often catch myself looking this great blogging world to see all that I am not. I’m not a beautiful word-smith (like Lara), nor brilliantly motivating (like Kat), and ladies don’t flock to me because of my welcoming personality (like Stacey). I forget that I am not called to blog to be another version of others around me. I am in the blogging community to be who God has created me to be: to lead and to teach.

4. What are the intangibles that have helped you succeed?

As you can see from my many list of projects, I typically have something new on the horizon. This often brings a tension with learning how to maintain something “old” while being free to move on to something new.

I’ve realized that I am a ship builder. I thrive in new projects and creating structure. This is the fun and exciting part for me. Maintaining becomes a challenge. Realizing this about myself has been a game-changer.

The Hide His Word challenge was probably the first “ship” I let set sail. As the Do Not Depart blog was growing, and as my responsibility with the HelloMornings challenge grew, I knew I had too much on my plate. I had to let go of something.

One of my writers, (Lisa), was the perfect fit and I handed the challenge off to her. She has done a tremendous job at leading these women, and has done so much more with the challenge (like this incredible Facebook community) than I would have ever been able to do while holding on to so much.

I’ve since also let Do Not Depart set sail. I am still in the loop a bit, but I have blog manager/virtual assistant, (Caroline/), who deals with the day-to-day of running the blog, and three of my writers take turn coming up with the month’s focus. So, the blog is on an auto-pilot of sorts!

Knowing when to let go has allowed me to continue on into all the Lord had planned — co-authoring a book, self-publishing several ebooks, launching a Bible ministry, taking the baton of leadership for the HelloMornings challenge, and begin a speaking ministry — much more than I ever imagined 3 years ago!

5. How do you keep your blog and home life in balance? What does a “typical” blogging day look like for you?

There is no typical, and I am certainly not the perfect model of balance.

The only thing predictable about having little ones is that everything will look different 6 months from now. This last year has been especially unpredictable; it was my first year of homeschooling and we moved half-way through it.

So, I’ve squeezed blogging in whenever I can, usually late at night. I also have the world’s best husband who lets me get out of the house regularly to write, plan, and to regain my sanity.

This coming fall is looking better, as we are settling in and my two oldest will be in public school. I’ll have more time on my hands then I will know what to do with!

For now, I try to get away on Sunday afternoons to get the bulk of my writing done for that coming week. After lunch I head out to a local coffee shop with my Anna, and we sit for hours. She colors and plays on my iPad (which I reserve for the end of our time once she’s over coloring), while I type away on my laptop.

Depending on how that time goes, I will fill in the gaps at night once the kids are in bed. I used to blog all the time during the day but it seems like — with this current phase my kids are in — it just ends up badly. There is something about me sitting in my desk chair that screams, “Please come climb on me, and be as demanding as possible for my attention!” It drives me crazy and usually doesn’t end well … so I try to avoid the chair unless they are super-occupied in something else.

Kat’s Notes

I’ve met a lot of bloggers. A lot. And when it all comes down, the bloggers who are making an impact – like Katie -have a common skill. Here is is:

Katie does stuff.

Yep. That’s it. Profound right? Actually, it is. We talk about things, we read blogs, listen to podcasts, read books, we plan, we brainstorm…yada yada yada.

Katie just gets stuff done. We’ve worked together quite a bit on HelloMornings and a few other projects. When I mention doing something, Katie emails me 30 minutes later with the finished product and another idea she worked on to boot.

Seriously. It’s that simple.

I heard someone say, “The difference between where you are and where you want to be is what you are doing today.”

So what ARE you doing today?

Join the Discussion

I’m so thankful you took time out of your day today to stop by How They Blog, but I wouldn’t be serving you very well if I didn’t challenge you to go and do something…today…to move your blog forward.

Action step:
1. Jump into the comments and ask Katie questions about blogging (it’s like having a free blogging coach – don’t miss the opportunity).
2. I also want you to tell me what you’re going to get done today. It doesn’t need to be fancy or complex – just something that will move you forward in your blogging journey.

Click here to comment, share your action or ask Katie a question.

Read All The Interviews with Katie.

1. How They Blog: Katie Orr
2. Gadget and App Recommendations (Coming Wednesday)
3. On Social Media and Writing (Coming Friday)

Leave a Reply

Comments

  1. Kat, I think I’ve said it before but I LOVE this blog! Thank you. This is a fantastic interview! I need action and I need confidence. I have so much trouble believing that God made me who I am and I am not simply a product of my sin. Katie, thank you for your eloquent simplicity. I am so encouraged that God doesn’t need me to be someone else to use me. Okay, here’s my question. ..where do you start? I have an idea. I have a website. I’ve written a bunch of articles. I’ve posted nothing. I’m petrified to make anything that permanent. Also I don’t know how to design the page and the person helping me has been really busy. I’d love any tips you can offer. Thank you both so much for walking with people you don’t even know. …who would otherwise be walking alone.

    • You are definitely made for good things and are loved! And I agree that it’s so cool to be able to come here and find community and encouragement. Have a blessed day 🙂

    • Hi Beth! I encourage you to just start posting! Reality is, most of us don’t have a ton of readers at first, so this is a good time to try out this blogging thing! The pressures off!

      Also, look for weekly memes like Five Minute Friday, or more specific ones to what you write on. This is a great way to enter into the blogging community and get some good feedback and encouragement. The more you write and the more you read others, the closer you will come to your own style of writing.

      Probably the most practical advice on posting I can give you is to keep it short. That was my biggest pitfall early on, as it is for many others. No one has time to read a long post. 400-500 words is a good goal. Break longer posts into a 2 or 3 part series.

      As for designing your page, leave more specifics of what you are having trouble with and I’ll see if I can help!!

    • Beth! I’d love to try to help you. I’m a bit of a newbie myself, but email me at acookiebeforedinner@gmail.com and we’ll figure it out together!

  2. I’m really being challenged and encouraged by this series! Katie, it’s amazing all the projects you have been & are involved in!!!! You go, girl.

    Today, I will start my first eBook which will be about loving where you live (heart stuff and home stuff) – it’s overwhelming to step out and start something so important to me and feel so small still, but one thing I keep hearing here is: start & do.

    Thanks for the series and for your time with us.

    • Thanks, Shannon! I feel like many of these projects are like play-dates with friends! Over the years, the Lord has provided some dear, dear friends through the online community.

      And, yay! for starting your first ebook!

  3. Katie, you inspire me. Seriously. I love that you know your strengths and you work within them, and then you raise leaders who have come along side you so you can keep being the amazing visionary & teacher God created you to be 🙂

    To answer Kat’s challenge, today I’m going to commit (ha! my “word of the year”) to brainstorming ideas for a series on my blog. Something that combines my love for encouraging women, my VA work, and my current season as a mama…it may never turn into anything more than a bunch of blog posts, but I’ll leave those details up to God 😉

    • I need to do some brainstorming soon too! Sometimes I get so many things floating around in my head that I can’t get anything straight until I get it out on paper. Feelings ll mixed up lately…I’m sure it has something to do with our summer schedule. 🙂

      Excited to see what you end up turning out!

  4. What a great interview! I’m new to blogging, and I love it so far, even though I’ve done only a few posts. What I wonder, though, is how do you decide what your writing topic will be? Just — life? I feel like my life is pretty predictable, quiet. Yet the bloggers I follow seem to have these great adventures about which they write. 🙂 (Is this an occasion of be careful what you pray for……….?!) Any insight would be appreciated! Today, however, I will write whatever it is God puts on my heart.

    • I feel like that too, Amy. That my story is boring, or that I am unable to make the boring into brilliant, which some have that gift.

      The more you write you’ll see which posts energize you and which types area drain. More and more you will begin to see what piece of the puzzle you fit, in this crazy blogging world.

      I’ll hit on this later this week, but remember to be vulnerable as your write. The more I write of my struggles, the more I realize I am not alone in my doubts/fear/pain/emotion. And there seems to be many who are blessed by knowing that they are not alone either.

      I think your last sentence is key: write as the Lord leads!

  5. As one of the writers with Do Not Depart, I can personally testify to how great Katie does at managing a blog team by trusting her fellow writers. I’ve been so impressed with her ability to share responsibilities with others. She’s been a true blessing to work with!

  6. Katie, Thank you! I have to admit, I have always been kind of intimidated by all you do and accomplish, so hearing that you struggle with exactly the same comparisons to others that I do, and that someone else feels like they don’t quite fit the mold of a “typical” blogger is refreshing. Thank you for your openness and honesty, and for the behind the scenes look at how you accomplish everything!

    Kat, Thank you, for that challenge: ‘What are you going to get done today?’ I feel like I’ve already marked it off my list for today, but it’s extremely helpful to pose that question for tomorrow. I might just need to put it on a sticky note on my computer! 🙂

    Can’t wait to see you both in person at Declare this summer! You’re both such blessings, and we are thrilled to have you speaking for us!

    • I know, I’m getting SO EXCITED about Declare! It is going to be a blast.

      The comparison trap is a tough one to escape. Blogging makes it worse, as the nature of blogs (especially niche) is for the blogger to be the expert. To share things, with authority and experience. So as a reader, when I come to a cooking blog, for example, I look at my life and all I have going on and think about how to add what so-and-so is doing. But I need to remember that there are things I am doing well that miss so-and-so is NOT doing well, or at all.

      We all have different stages of life, different living situations, different support systems (or lack of), different skill sets. Some are built to be better cooks, homemakers, communicators, athletes, etc than others.

      YOU are built to be something greater and better than others, because it is how God has built you, and how He wants to use you for His glory!

  7. I’ve been working on a potential blog series offline in my trusty journal, so today I’m going to keep chugging along with that. Thanks for the motivation, Kat (PS, I listened to your podcast for the first time at the gym last week. I heard “Be a Woman of Action” and I just love your tips and motivation!!)

    Katie, love that you’re an action-taker and you clearly know how to get things done. I’m also thankful that you’re honest about your strengths (thinking of a recent post on your personal blog) and working within them to glorify God. I am so not the right fit for the church nursery, and it’s freeing to know that a need doesn’t necessitate a call.

    • I think there are many a children’s minister out there angry at my post from last week. 🙂 I think it resonated with many to not do things out of guilt, but out of calling. Sometimes he calls us to serve outside of our giftings (…ironically, we are heading on a mission trip in a few weeks, to do TWO inner city VBSs. One in the morning, one in the afternoon…) so it is a walk of faith and obedience.

      I’m excited to hear about your next blogging series!

  8. I love both of y’all and really enjoy all of your blogs. I’m amazed at the juggling act you both manage!

    After reading all the interviews, I have learned so much. My goal is to produce two or three QUALITY posts each week. I’m putting more time into polishing each post: click to Tweet, Pinnable images, etc. I’ve realized that the writing alone isn’t enough – I need to put everything together for the best package. I feel really good about today’s post, and I’m already working on two more.

    • Oh, the click to Tweet… I haven’t made it there yet. 🙂 I do like the pinnable images though. I use to spend FOREVER looking for the perfect free stock image for posts. It felt like such a waste of time, but I knew it had to be done. I’d rather make my own image using a verse or quote and be done with it!

      You’ve had quite a juggling act of your own these past few years being in school full time! Congrats on making it to the end!! Yay!

  9. Okay, so I am a HUGE Katie Orr fan, if I may say so. She is practical, full of wisdom, striking, and encouraging. Can’t wait to read the rest of her interviews this week!

    • Well, I’m a huge Christie fan, so I’m glad we’re friends. 🙂

      I love your quick wit and way with words! Definitely NOT my gift. Appreciate all your amazing word behind the HelloMornings scenes!

  10. I won’t ask you (Katie) my many web technical questions here since I just text you with them. Ha. But I just love Katie! She is smart and like you said, Kat, she gets stuff done. She has totally carried me personally in the blogging/writing world on many occassions. Love her.

    • I do believe that you let me “borrow” some of your HTML code. I saw something on your site, and asked how you got it that way. Can’t even remember exactly what it was, but I was shocked when you just said “Here, have it!”

      I am so thankful for how the Lord has brought us together. Crazy, God-ordained story.

  11. Mary @ The Calm of His Presence says:

    I loved hearing from Katie today. I knew I was “seeing” lots of her but had no idea all the projects she was involved in. Today I am going to work on finalizing 2 guest posts with the goal of being done with both of them by Wednesday.

  12. I love Katie! She is inspiring and I love her transparency.

    Katie, I am pretty amazed that you have only been blogging 3 years! Wow. You ARE getting stuff done. I am glad you call yourself a writer now. When I met you last year, you said you were not much of a writer, but I personally think of you as a writer. an encourager, and yes, a teacher, and leader.

    • Thanks, Jamie! It is so fun to have another Auburn fan around these parts. 🙂

      It was great to get to hang out with you at She Speaks, and I SO appreciate your involvement in HelloMornings.

      I think the technical side of writing is what has kept me from it for so long. I know I get my commas all mixed up, and am often too wordy, but God has been faithful to encourage me in my efforts. Seeing that others think of me as a writer is huge.

      Thanks, and War Eagle! 🙂

  13. Oh Katie!! I loved hearing your heart through this interview…and what an honor to have spent that She Speaks weekend with you. I am so thankful for the way you teach, lead, shine Jesus, and inspire us to do the same! Thank you for the way you model perseverance and excellence in all you do. What a privilege to call you friend! xoxo

    • I loved every minute of She Speaks and getting to hang out with you and Denise was such a treat! Deep conversations, good theology, and little sleep = perfect weekend!

      Thanks for your sweet words.

  14. Katie~Thank you for your post and for all the ministering you do for women like myself!
    Kat~Thanks to your prompt I made a list today of everything I still need to set up for my new blog. Today’s task…figuring out how to back up my posts!
    Thanks Ladies:)

  15. Holy cow! I feel like we’re the same person!! I’m so glad to read this Katie. I’ve always thought you we’re awesome but didn’t realize how much we relate-its seriously crazy!! So fun!!

  16. Great stuff, as always!! I really enjoy the diversity of bloggers, Kat, and I like your notes at the end of the interview. It helps do something with the inspiration. =)

    Question for Katie….do you tweet/pin every post? I want to share my blog but I don’t want to just be all me, me, me. And in that vein, what are your tips for creating a pin-able image? For example, on a recent post I pinned the image led back to my blog but instead of saying my blog name (this vintage moment) or the title of my post, it just said food1 (or something like that). I had labeled it as such in iPhoto, is that where I need to re-label my images for the blog?

    • I don’t always tweet every post, but the goal is to do so. Some days are just too busy. I try to tweet several times throughout the day (the Buffer app helps with this, as I will share again tomorrow) and if I remember I will pin the post. I often forget.

      I totally get the tension of not wanting all my tweets and pins to be mostly my posts. (I’ll share about that on Friday!)

      I use Keynote to do all of my design work, including my pins. There will be a screenshot so you can see what that looks like. There is more flexibility with using Keynote, as you can create any size slide you would like, add text, pictures, textures, etc. Then you can export it as a jpeg, png, or tiff.

      Let me know if you have more specific questions.

  17. I don’t always tweet every post, but the goal is to do so. Some days are just too busy. I try to tweet several times throughout the day (the Buffer app helps with this, as I will share again tomorrow) and if I remember I will pin the post. I often forget. 🙂

    I totally get the tension of not wanting all my tweets and pins to be mostly my posts. (I’ll share about that on Friday!)

    I use Keynote to do all of my design work, including my pins. There will be a screenshot so you can see what that looks like. There is more flexibility with using Keynote, as you can create any size slide you would like, add text, pictures, textures, etc. Then you can export it as a jpeg, png, or tiff.

    Let me know if you have more specific questions. 🙂

  18. Thank you so much, Katie! I am also a “ship-builder.” I have done it often in ministry, but am just venturing into online “ship building.” How do you stay focused long enough on one thing to give it a good start, and how do you know when to move on to something else? Or if you have several irons in the fire (which it appears you do), how do you give enough time to each without burning out?

    • Great question. It has been different with each project, but typically once something is established in a good groove and I find myself dreaming about other projects, I start handing off responsibility to others. I am always looking around me for those who are faithful, available, and capable of certain tasks, so I usually already have someone in mind before I am actually ready to hand something off. I’ll give them a small task and see if they enjoy it and are able to complete it well.

      As far as the actually knowing when, it is a very fluid thing. Sometimes I think someone is going to be a really good fit for a role and it is not, or they are unable to commit to it. There are some tasks I would have liked to have passed off a long time ago, but the door has just not opened up. I would rather make a transition slowly, and have the right leaders in place, then rush and throw anyone in a spot just so I can get it off my plate.

      Also, most of my projects are cyclical, so I am usually consumed with one thing while the others are on auto-pilot. Sometimes busy seasons collide and I just press through it, knowing that it is only for a short time. (And, I have an amazing husband who is OK with a crazy-messy house and who loves to cook!)

      I think a key in not burning out is letting go of perfection. Reminding myself (as I do my leaders) that my online ministry should get my “leftovers”. That is, my first calling is to walk with God. Second comes my family. What ever is left is what I can give to blogging. Yes, I want to do things with excellence and I do so where I can, but the reality is there are just some things that will have to go un-done or not done well enough. I’m OK with that trade. Especially if God is moving through my imperfect efforts!

      And, pray. God is faithful to provide what we need, as well as lead us into and out of opportunities!

  19. I hear you Katie. I don’t feel like I’m any of those things either. I’m not particularly charismatic, I’ve never done anything awe-inspiring, and blogging tends to be a means to an end for me…just sharing what I’m passionate about knowing that God can use it for others too. You’re not alone friend! So glad you’re sharing yourself with us!

  20. This is fantastic! I love seeing blogging in faith done well (it often feels cheesy to me).

    I guess my question would be how do you decide what’s a new project and what can be worked into another project/blog?

    • Hi Rachel,

      I think “new” projects can certainly be under the umbrella of a current project. The trick is making sure what you are currently working on is self-sustaining, or needs little energy and time before starting on a new one.

      Another factor is knowing how you work. I actually work so much better when I feel the pressure of having just a bit too much to do. It is a fine-line to walk though, and not one I can walk for a very long time or burn-out ensues.

      Synergistic projects are ideal, as they help you further your current goals while giving the fresh-air from a new project.

  21. Katie you said, “I’ve realized that I am a ship builder. I thrive in new projects and creating structure. This is the fun and exciting part for me. Maintaining becomes a challenge. Realizing this about myself has been a game-changer.”

    T-H-A-N-K Y-O-U! I love the nomenclature and will hence-forth claim it as my own. Thanks for letting me know that I’m not the only one wired like this!

  22. Hi Katie! Your interview was one of my favorites & I especially appreciated the random tips you gave. I wanted to try out inspect element but didn’t see it on Mac. Is this browser or platform specific? Also do you have any other good go to resources for getting technical help?

    • Thanks, Jennifer! Appreciate your encouragement.

      To find the Inspect Element, you need to “right-click” the image or text you want to inspect. You should see options like “copy”, “print”, etc. About halfway down there is an “Inspect Element” option. Click it and a new window should pop up.

      As for technical help, I typically google when I need help, “how to …”. BloggingWithAmy.com is a great resource as well.

  23. Ahh, I love you dear Katie Orr. I miss you dropping by my house a bunch.

Trackbacks

  1. […] Kat features a different blogger, and this week, it’s ME! I hope you’ll join me over at HowTheyBlog.com where today I’m sharing a bit of my journey into […]

  2. […] Kat features a different blogger, and this week, it’s ME! I hope you’ll join me over at HowTheyBlog.com where today I’m sharing a bit of my journey into […]

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