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.
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!
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)!
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.
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.
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.
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)