How They Blog: Myquillyn Smith (The Nester)

NESTER2Myquillyn Smith (The Nester)

The Nesting Place
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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.

Myquillyn and her family.

Myquillyn and her family.

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)

Leave a Reply


  1. So happy to see the Nester being interviewed! She is the one who made me think perhaps even I, on no budget, could make my home beautiful and a place I feel good about! I especially appreciated reading about how she tweaks how she approaches her blog, and that not every “good thing” is a good thing on any given year/day.

  2. Myquillyn, thank you for being so transparent! I absolutely LOVE your honesty. My favorite takeaway from this post was definitely your story on learning to say “no.” Reading how you’ve learned to keep your family and goals in mind when making decisions about your blog has encouraged me to do the same! I was also encouraged to see how blogging changed for you with each season of life. The flexibility of blogging is one of it’s greatest perks, but it’s easy to lose sight of that sometimes!Thanks so much for this wonderful post!

  3. Such a breath of fresh air, thank-you! I love The Nesting Place and appreciate the funny, inspiring, and real life words that you share there.
    You and Emily remind me of my sister and I, I love that you write your posts as if you’re talking to her.

    And, my biggest takeaway was that its okay to say No. I’m an introvert as well and love the world of blogging but I love my family and real-life friends as well and need to stay re-charged.

    Questions…would you ever do a personal style post? Like how to look imperfectly fabulous? =)

    • Breanne–Introverts Unite!….separately…

      Also, aren’t sisters the BEST?!

      Oh my gosh, when I learn how to look imperfectly fabulous, I promise I’ll write about it! Actually, I finally signed up for Stitch Fix because I feel like I need to pay more attention to how I look. No lie, right now I have a shirt on, that I wore yesterday–and it is INSIDE OUT. And I already left the house. HOW am I allowed to be an adult?!

  4. Yaaaaay for Nester Week! Her blog is the first blog I started reading regularly, and I love sharing her “It Doesn’t Have To Be Perfect To Be Beautiful” slogan with friends. I’ve benefited so much from both Kat and Myquillyn (among others) regularly preaching that message of “trying something imperfectly is better than not doing anything at all.” Thanks, ladies!

  5. The advice on learning to say “no” to things that aren’t in the best interest of your goals and family is great advice. It’s something that I need to tuck away and apply to other areas, not just blogging. Thanks.

  6. Super excited to see The Nester here, especially since her blog was the first one I ever read consistently :).

    Nester, loved hearing about your “no’s” and the grid you use to filter opportunities through. That’s really freeing.

    Also freeing? Your window mistreatments. I have mistreated several over the years thanks to your tips :). Ok, one more–your motto. Love it. Ok, I’m done.

  7. Thanks for being so open. It gives others courage to do the same. I started blogging around the same time as you did. One of the joys was getting to know other bloggers. I wanted to try to make an income from it but I couldn’t devote the time that I knew it required. It’s probably too late now since there are so many great blogs out there πŸ™

  8. I’ve followed the Nester for years and love you! I have wanted to blog for a long time and just this past month started a blog. I struggle with my thinking that I may not be interesting enough for anyone to want to follow what I have to say. I feel we probably all second guess ourselves at times but wondered if you dealt with that in the beginning and how you handled those thoughts. Also, how did you meet NEW bloggers? I would love to meet some ladies that are just starting out so that maybe we could encourage each other.

    • Hey Kim! Congrats on the new blog!!! I was SURE no one would read and that people would send me hate mail. But, I still thought it would be fun so that kept me going. Now I realize that when I write even if I’m writing a story that happened to me, it’s really about the reader, so if it’s about her, then she’ll keep reading. Hopefully! I met new bloggers two ways–one clicking on comments to get to other blogs and leaving comments there–but that was 2007, honestly, I don’t even know HOW people do it now!! And, Conferences, blogging conferences made all the difference try: Allume, Influence (Haven for Home blogs). xo

  9. Enjoyed the interview with the Nester. I’ve been reading her blog for many months now and was amazed at what she had created. I have drawn inspiration from her both on the nesting front as well as blogging. As someone trying to launch a blog, I have often felt discouraged to keep going because it’s hard work and I work full time. But like you said, what matters most is doing what you love – I love chronicling life via photography and that’s the reason I have not given up yet. I admire women who have had success in blogging careers. All the very best to you!

  10. Thank you so much for this post. I’ve been contemplating starting a blog for years. I’ve even started a few that just never kept my attention. I was always unsure of my ability to sound like I knew what i was talking about…I didnt want to sound “unprofessional”. Of course that’s what i would be, since I am not a writer or a pro-anything. Would people even read what I posted? The biggest thing i got from the Nester….I dont have to be perfect or an expert to start. Thank you for sharing!

  11. Robert Frost says

    This was inspirational, and really made my day. I hope your little troublemakers, Gavin particularly, are doing well. God bless child.

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