November 19, 2012

Let's Get Personal: Part 3

So I'm back with Part 3 today.  Y'all still here?  

I had an ah-mazing time this weekend with some of my favorite ladies.  And I think it's perfectly fitting that my girls weekend coincided with this post because I met these girls through blogging.  And they have since become my real life friends.
Amanda, Anna, Caycee, Chassity, Erin, Katharine, and Natalie are the kind of people you want in your life and I am thankful for this blog for making that happen.  They are creative, talented, and supportive women. And they know how to get down and laugh.  The best kind of people really.


Bloggity Blog
  
Why did I start blogging?  Am I crazy to keep going?
Hmmm.  That's a good question and I'm not really sure how to pinpoint it. 
Because my overflowing files of interior design pictures were taking up too much room on my work computer.  Because I liked reading other people's blogs and didn't want to be a stalkerish anonymous commenter.  On a whim.  Because I thought coming up with blog names and headers sounded like fun.  Because it was too much effort to email pictures and updates of my life to everyone I know.  I didn't want to bother people about my day to day life and I figured an email demands attention and begs for a reply but a blog would be more like an open house, stop by if you like.  Linger or don't.  Come back or not.  Comment if you want.  Non-committal. 

I wasn't very committed to blogging for the first year and half.  I had no internet at our house.  By choice.  My husband and I were cable and internet free for almost two years and I liked it.  I might do it again one day.  You can laugh with me at some of those posts.  The ones where I'm trying way too hard and the ones where I'm clearly not trying at all.  I didn't have a voice.  I didn't really care.
We got cable and internet when we moved to Richmond so blogging was more of an every day option for me.  Sometime about a year ago I made a promise to myself to blog at least 3 days a week.  I surpassed my goal and have maintained 5+ posts a week ever since.  The sudden popularity of pinterest last winter really pushed me to try harder.  I didn't want to just do "design dump" posts anymore.  People go to pinterest for that now.  I liked the challenge of making my blog something different.
I get emails a lot from people just starting out who ask me to help them grow their readership.  How specifically did I do that?  No freaking clue.  I'm consistent and I true to myself and my thoughts and tastes.  I'm not trying too hard.  I'm friendly and real and I don't have hidden agendas or career aspirations for my blog.  I think people like that.  They can tell when you only blog about a certain bag because you received it for free to review.  Or when you passively push products on them.  I don't do that here.    

Unique Content.  
That's the buzz word now right.  It's hard to be creative and inspired all the time.  I'm the first to admit that some days I find it really hard to post.
Because of pinterest I was forced to find my voice.  Who am I and what do I want to say?  I'm still working on that.  I'm not an interior designer, I'm not a fashion or food blogger, I'm not a full on photography website, I'm not a mommy blog.  What am I?  Godbless, maybe you can tell me.  I'm not really sure what I am.  As a person, I'm a little bit of all of those things which I guess is why my blog is too.
 I've pushed myself to be more creative with layouts and graphic design and to finish little projects around the house so I'd have something to blog about.  I slowly started sharing more pictures of my everyday life. I enjoy those things.
I love the motivation blogging gives me to complete things.  I love the camaraderie and advice and friendship I get from other bloggers.  I love the instant access to like minded people with similar interests but new ideas and fresh perspectives.  I love the eye candy and the stories.  Listening to people talk about their lives and getting a glimpse into their living rooms and closets and handbags.  Blogging is my guilty-pleasure.  Along with Andy Cohen and the Real Housewives reunion shows.

Why do I keep going
For myself.  I could say it's an online bulletin board or a place to gather my thoughts.  Another creative outlet in and of itself.  Which is all true.  But honestly, I guess I like to think my opinions matter and that someone else might like to hear them too.  And I like to see concrete evidence every day that I thought about something other than if we are running low on soy milk. 

Goals for my blog
First and foremost, to be a friendly place that makes you feel good.  Somewhere you can voice your opinion and learn something.  Even if it's just where to find cheap pants or a $30 pillow.  You don't have to shower and put on makeup or curl your hair with a wand or think about about losing 10 or 20 more pounds to show up.  It can be when your kids are sleeping or during the first 30 minutes you get to work while you're returning important emails.  Or at 3am when you're up with a hungry baby or a sick child or just another case of dreadful insomnia.  Maybe you relate to what I'm saying that day and that makes you feel a little less alone or a little less crazy.

 Let no one come to you without leaving better and happier.  Mother Teresa

I'd like to find ways to grow sponsorships and do more product review posts so I can begin to justify my time I spend here.  Because it's time away from my family and that is costly.  Thankfully my photography business is growing but with that comes more time in front of the computer.  My kids are at a stage right now that makes blogging and editing pictures nearly impossible during the day.  By 7:45 when they're both finally down and out for the night I find myself jumping on the computer to get "work" done instead of sitting down to ask my husband how his day went.  That's not the kind of marriage I want.  My only other option is wait until he's gone to sleep and slip back downstairs.  I hear other women, especially photographers, mention this routine but I have yet to try it.  I like sleep too much.  This fall I have been making a conscience effort to turn off the computer.

Balance
I spent a lot of time blogging each week.  At least an hour goes into each and every blog post I do.  Minimum.  And many times much more than that if you count the time it takes to edit photographs or gather images to create boards.  That's not counting the time I spend on pinterest or other blogs commenting and collecting inspiration.  That would add probably another 1-2 hours a day.  Add in guest posts at around an hour each.  Responding to emails is at least another hour.  But I enjoy it.  I get something very large out of this whole blogging thing in many ways.  But I'm reminded daily by my growing babies how costly and fleeting time really is.  I can't do it all.

I've learned it's okay to turn down work when the opportunity cost is just too high.  I'm learning to say no.  I recently stopped contributing regularly to a baby blog because I couldn't find the time to create those extra blog posts.  I was approached by an organization recently that wanted to offer me a chance to provide mini-sessions during their fall festival for a price I wasn't comfortable with.  After some negotiations and my offer to donate my services to the cause on the condition that they provide just one picture,  they turned me down and went in another direction.  I feel really proud of myself for not compromising the value I place on myself and my time.
Balance is a tricky slope that I'm still figuring out.

Business
  That being said, if I had to choose, I'd like to see my photography business grow.  I have a passion for all things creative but I don't find the business side of interior design appealing and I don't have the heart for the constant critique involved in deeming myself an artist.  Photography feels different.  While everyone may not be happy with every picture I take, I can help them capture a memory and a feeling that will soon be gone.  It scares me how fast my own babes are growing and I'm thankful for digital photography and video cameras on cell phones.  I do struggle with the business side of photography.  Not the financial side as much as the marketing.  Which is surprising to me having a background in this area.  But it's harder when I'm marketing myself.  Asking people in constant view of a sea of other talent to choose me.  Pick me please!  I feel lame.

I could also see myself as an interior stylist or personal shopper.  Couldn't we all?  I love spending an afternoon getting lost at antique stores and Homegoods.  It's more than fun to bring back those new finds and implement them into a room to make it prettier.  I love creating new furniture layouts to make a home function better for actually living in each square foot.  My friends and their living rooms can attest to this.  Wasted space bothers me.  But my desire goes no further than that.  I'm not good with budgets or measuring sofas or spending hours online sourcing club chairs.  That's why I'm not really sure how to turn this aspect into a profitable business.  I can help you style a bookshelf but I'm not the next Kelly Wearstler.

Emails
  I'm terrible with returning emails.  Sorry.  I'm working on it.  I've tried a few systems but nothing seems to work and I end up weeks late on responding.  I blame my need to check emails at 3am when I hear a baby cry and am pausing to asses their need.  I read them and then I forget them.  I get bombarded with emails all day long and tend to respond to quick ones as they come in and wait for longer responses.  Sometimes those fall into the read it and forget it category.  I need a new system.  I've tried responding all at once at the end of the day but that's not working for me either.  I do better if I just respond as I read them, even if I don't have the full response ready.  A follow up is better than being ignored.  I need to post that on a sticky note on my computer!

Outfit boards v. Design Boards
 I love to imagine outfit boards full of stylish clothes intended for fabulous destinations.  In my own life I'm much happier in a pair of good fitting skinny jeans and flats.  I only feel comfortable in white tops which is tricky with baby spit up and sticky toddler fingers clinging to me daily.  I get nervous in a lot of color, like I'm trying too hard to be perky.  This may come as a surprise to some of you, but those pink jeans I bought and wore all summer were really out of my comfort zone.  I relate to the NYC mentality of wearing a lot black.  But I get nervous that it's too edgy or too urban which isn't me either.  So there you have it, clothes make me nervous.  Decorative pillows make me feel in control.  It's so personal and makes such a silent statement to the world about who you are.  I'm so many things and it's hard to put that into an outfit in the morning.  And I clearly over analyze things.  If you're still reading, you've probably realized that by now!

Random
 Oh, and I'm 5'8.5 and I drink sauvignon blanc.  The cheap stuff.  Rex Goliath from Kroger.

17 comments:

  1. Love you girl and your blog for so many reasons but mainly because you keep it real and because you talk about a great mix of things. That is what I love to read. and your photographs you did of Sterling are still my favorite to date. You got some major talent!
    btw how did I not know you lived iwthout internet for so long!! Pretty sure I could not do it!

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  2. Love hearing about you! I used to drink Rex Goliath Chardonnay! Now have switched to the new cheap line at Kroger Naked Grape...it is delish. I think they make sauvignon blanc too. Just saying...momma needs her wine.

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  3. I think that's why I love your blog so much, it covers everything I'm digging. I'm kinda freaking out over the no Internet thing. It's so sad I rely on things like that so much. But seriously, what would I do if I couldn't search out an actor's name while watching a movie to figure out where in the hell I recognize them from?! ;)

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  4. Next time you're in town, I would love to hire your fabulous photography services for our family photos! Ha! Bet you can't say that fifty times! How's that for a lot of freaking "f's"?!

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  5. Dear my sweet Julia!! I adore you so much in person and on this blog. You are seriously one of those girlfriends I could sit and chat with for hours and never run out of things to laugh and talk about! Loves seeing your face this weekend, and can not wait to celebrate our birthdays together ;)

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  6. Three cheers for you for sharing all of this. Its good to know others feel the same way I do. You keep on doing what feels right and important to you and the rest will work itself out.

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  7. I loved getting to know you more Julia. I know how much time, thought and effort these posts took and we thank you for sharing. It does take time away from family, and finding the balance is the hardest thing, I think. I hope to meet you one day when Im down your way. Have a happy holiday week.
    xo Nancy
    Powellbrowerhome.com

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  8. I am new to your blog and I can relate to your blog "voice." I, too, have thought about blogging for many of the reasons you state.. maybe I will one day. Anyways, really do enjoy your blog and look forward to being a regular visitor.

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  9. I have loved these posts! So inspiring :) ... and I want to meet up for a drink on your next Charleston trip!!

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  10. After reading that, I think that most of us are more alike than different. I think you very effectively communicated things we all struggle with in one way or another. Marketing your own stuff is hard and I am forever worried about being to pushy, so I can totally relate. The personal way you mentioned capturing the precious moments made me want to have you come over and take pics of my little one. It might be a good way to present yourself in the marketplace.
    Oh and I love the random section.:)

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  11. Nice post.^^
    Maybe follow each other on BLOGLOVIN and GFC???
    My Blog

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  12. Love the REAL talk. I may have to give it a whirl. Unfortunately i judge myself way more than anyone else ever could:)

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  13. I love this post, because I think it resonates with so many of us. We want to be successful and do what we love, but it takes time. Sometimes, time away from the ones you love. It is a constant juggling act for me, too. :)

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  14. I'm with Becca, let a girl know next time your in Charleston. I'll hitch a ride with Anna! Seriously, these posts have been awesome. You're so freaking easy to like in your regular post anyway, but these were just icing, baby! I do love your blog because I never know what your going to post about; DIY, the babes, etc. It's good, lady cakes!

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  15. Well, awsome Julia... I'm a terribly busy decorator/producer/store owner/CEO of a tv producing company /wife and mom, who just spend half an hour reading your last 4 posts!! That is how great your blog and writting are!!... I have 2.000 things to do and here I am enjoying every word of it. I mean I live on the other side of the world in another country, culture and language and I can relate so much to you and your writting (specially on the e.mails and blogging issues)! You should turn Professional Blogger like those who transform blogs in to magazine colums! with original photos by Julia! You are great!! Cheers!

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  16. Wow, this post means so much to me and has also made me reflect on my blogging. I started blogging in college--like you, I spend at least an hour per post. It was really easy to add that to my college routine, posting 5x a week. I also spent HOURS each day reading and commenting on blogs. I loved it, I was constantly inspired and buzzing with news ideas and inspirations. Then came teaching and a boyfriend. Both of these things have enriched my life, but it's a constant battle between finding time to blog about my life and also just LIVING life! I miss having the creative outlet and the connections I got from connecting with other bloggers on a daily basis, but also really have a hard time sitting down and blogging regularly without it feeling like a chore. It's tough--I can't imagine adding kids to the mix. I love that you've admitted that struggle because some people don't get it. Since my blogging's gone down I've even gotten a few nasty emails, as if my not finding the time to always blog now is a personal attack! Anyways, this is a long and rambling comment, but I love how open you were with this and could really relate!

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  17. Just wanted to let you know how much I related to and loved this post. The funny part is that I had been saving this particular post in my inbox for when I had time to read it, I cannot believe it is from November and it is now January. So much for time! I am a relatively new blogger and small business owner with 2 little kids and I am so struggling for my balance. I feel like I either drop the ball with my kids or husband to do my writing so reading yours helped me feel better. I want you to know that your posts are always beautiful and easy to read and I really look forward to them. I get them right to my inbox which definitely makes it easier to read, even if it is 3am when I can't sleep ;) Thanks again for being so inspiring!!
    Suzie at suziegaffney.com

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Thanks for joining the conversation!