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I’m going to be honest, design blogs intimidate me. Decorating, fashion and all things aesthetic tend to escape me, so I’m amazed by people who can look at an ugly room and transform it into something beautiful.
But this week’s featured blogger makes me feel like making a home gorgeous isn’t a complicated science that I’ll never fully grasp. She’s hilarious, inspiring and if you don’t already know her, I know you’ll love her.
Myquillyn Smith, known as The Nester, on her blog, has been featured in all sorts of national magazines like Ladies Home Journal and Better Homes and Gardens. She has been blogging for six years, has some wonderful wisdom to share with you this week and happens to be related to another blogger I’ve featured here…read on:
1. Give us a quick intro to you, your family and your blog.
My husband, Chad and I have been married for 17 years, we have three boys 15, 13 and 12 and a chocolate lab/mutt mix. I’m an introvert, my husband is an extrovert. If it weren’t for Chad’s encouragement I would have stopped blogging about four years ago. It’s hard work and time consuming. This October will be my sixth year writing at Nesting Place where my goal is to encourage women in their homes and life that it doesn’t have to be perfect to be beautiful. Nesting Place is more than the funnest hobby ever, it’s my dream job and our family’s main source of income.
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 years after my sister and my dad started their blogs. I felt like I was getting into blogging so late in the game (it was 2007). But I didn’t care, I really just wanted to leave a comment at Pioneer Woman’s blog without looking like an anonymous killer. So I started a blog named after a little crafting business I had. I figured I could write about house stuff when the moment hit. I didn’t really care for the craft of writing at all. But I did love houses, tinkering in my own house, and I had lots of fun shortcuts I thought might be okay to talk about. Getting to talk about my house was worth having to deal with writing (which I kind of hated). The only way I could write was if I just pretended I was talking to my sister. I still do that today.
3. Tell us about a blogging “success” or “failure” that taught you a powerful lesson.
Saying YES when I should have said NO.
I like to think I’m extremely persnickety with my online time and how I use my blog and stuff like that (*those words are an example of my high quality writing skills). Over the past few years people have commented on the fact that I say NO to things some people would say YES to. Like interviewing Nate Berkus on the phone or speaking at a bunch of conferences. I’d love to say it’s my natural ability to be able to spot an opportunity that suited me when I see one, but the truth is, I’ve learned how to say NO by saying YES and regretting it.
“I’ve learned how to say NO by saying YES and regretting it.” <–Click to Tweet
Saying YES to an interview with a cute niche celebrity doesn’t really help my goal at Nesting Place; to encourage women and give them hope for their home. It really just gives me bragging rights (which are totally fun!). Leaving my family six weekends a year speaking at a conference in exchange for a conference pass doesn’t really help the goal of my blog, or for my family either. I have no aspirations or illusions that I’ll be a professional speaker someday (although I do have nightmares about it) so it simply didn’t make sense for me to say YES to a lot of speaking engagements if it wasn’t a conference I would attend anyway or be paid in green money for.
I had to learn this by saying YES to too many things, speaking, guest posts, giveaways, and twitter parties before I figured out that I didn’t have to say YES just because it was an opportunity. I had to feel the burn of too many YESES before I was confident in my NO.
Letting the World in on My Worst Kept Secret: I’m Not Perfect and Neither is My Home.
A few months after I started Nesting Place my sister encouraged me to write about my Window MisTreatments, a play on words of fancy, expensive, custom finished Window Treatments. I had been hot gluing and pinning and ripping fabric to stick up on curtain rods for years. And even though I knew I wasn’t the first person to do this, to actually admit online that I do up my windows all wrong felt like a huge risk. What if a real designer stopped by? I braced myself for backlash, hate mail and cute designers in their leopard print heels picketing in my front yard.
What happened surprised me. Women related. Women loved it. Women were motivated to do something in their home and that was the best feeling in the world. I felt a camaraderie with this online community that I hadn’t felt in years. I was hooked. I loved these women. They accepted me.
4. What are the intangibles that have helped you succeed?
Probably flexibility, evaluating, being friends in real life with other bloggers, and an encouraging husband.
It’s not glamorous or fun but every year blogging has been different for me. I’ve had etsy shops, written ebooks, done consultations, started extra blogs that didn’t work, moved, worked in my office, worked in my room, homeschooled while blogging, public schooled while blogging, private schooled while blogging, currently my husband home schools while I work and next year, it could all be different. So it’s been crucial to constantly evaluate what works, set my goals and be flexible.
“It’s been crucial to constantly evaluate what works, set my goals and be flexible.” <–Click to Tweet
Having real life friends who blog has also been a life saver. That’s not intangible is it? Tsh, my sister, the (in)courage girls, the other DIY Home bloggers (the most creative and generous people on planet earth) have made all the difference in how and why I write online.
Lastly, if my husband wasn’t supportive of this blog thing, I would have stopped forever ago. It’s simply too much work and too time consuming to try to convince a husband it’s worth it. For him to be on board and to be the one encouraging me that it’s worth it has made all the difference.
5. How do you keep your blog and home life in balance? What does a “typical” blogging day look like for you?
I don’t know that I do keep it in balance. Sometimes balance isn’t a daily thing for me, but an over all thing. And over all, I think I’m balanced. On any particular day, one could beg to differ.
Something I think works in my favor is that I’m an early bird, so I can get 75% of my work done before anyone else in my house is up. I take no credit for that, luckily, I was just made that way and if I need to roll out of bed at 5 am (also, I don’t use an alarm because I am so odd and just wake up, it’s a blessing and a curse) then I can immediately get to work, no problem. On the downside, by 8pm and I dead to the world.
Also, my boys are older. And? My husband is home all day four days a week. He’s the one taking them to hockey practice and homeschooling. We’ve been transitioning into that over the past year and we are both still learning what that looks like. Our family is together a lot and we like it that way.
Come back Wednesday to read all of Myquillyn’s Blogging Gadget and App recommendations and on Friday she’ll share her thoughts on social media and writing. Stay tuned!
Q & A with Myquillyn Smith
What questions do you have about blogging for Myquillyn? Click here to share your thoughts or ask your question!
Read All The Interviews with Myquillyn:
1. How They Blog: Myquillyn Smith
2. Gadget and App Recommendations (Coming Wednesday)
3. On Social Media and Writing (Coming Friday)