Category Archives: Blogging

Blog Log #9: Activity Breeds Activity

Blog Log: Activity Breeds Activity

Photo: Made U Look

If you’ve ever hit a roadblock and wondered why you should keep blogging, if you’ve ever been overwhelmed with life and pushed your blog off to the side, if you’ve ever wondered why you should continue blogging when there are so many other great blogs out there, the answer is simple:

Activity breeds activity.

In a way, I’d been trying to explain this for years every time I got asked by someone why they should keep blogging when they weren’t getting the results they sought. But, as hard as I tried, the words never tumbled out as eloquently. Then, I was sitting in an entrepreneurship class two weeks ago when Stephanie Lynn said those three words: when it comes to reaching your goals, activity breeds activity. It was as simple as that.

Following that class, it quickly became my new mantra. I’ll be honest, there are plenty of days that I feel overextended, plenty of times I am tapped out of energy, unable to even scratch the surface of my to-do list and the last thing I feel like doing is blogging. But I know that the more time I take off from anything (eating right, working on personal projects and yes, blogging), the harder it is to get back into the swing of things.

So even when I have those feelings, I now remind myself that activity does in fact breed activity and the more of myself I put out into the world (via blogging, social media and responding to emails), the more I’ll get back. We should always give without expectations but it is a nice feeling when we receive something of value in return.

The more you dedicate yourself to your blog and the more regularly you put thoughtful, high quality content out into the world, the faster you’ll see results. If you want to get more out of your blog, give more.

There is no secret to getting to where you want to go. It takes a whole lot of work, perseverance by the boatload and a willingness to give it everything you’ve got. And, practice. I’ve said that it took me 500 posts before I hit my stride and really found my voice. Blogging takes time but that activity you put in now will pay off later.

Blog because you love it but also blog about topics that resonate with you (and in return, your readers). Blog because you can’t imagine not having it in your life. And blog with consistency. Because when it comes to blogging, activity breeds activity.

View more of the Blog Log series here.

Blog Log #8: Are Comparisons The Root Of All Evil?

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Blog Log Comparisons

Source: You Can’t Be Serious Blog by Natala

Whether you already have a blog or you’re just thinking about starting one, do you look at the top bloggers in your niche and wonder, “How will I ever get there?” Because I still occasionally have those days, 11 years into blogging.

Oscar Wilde famously proclaimed, “Be yourself; everyone else is already taken.” And when I find myself getting caught up in self-imposed comparisons, I try to take solace in that. While comparisons can be a helpful benchmark to see if I’m on track (and I do follow a lot of blogs to keep up on market research and trends) if I check in too often, I start feeling low instead of inspired. How about you?

Maybe it’s just me but I feel like comparisons are harder to shake off now and it’s a sign of the times. I’ve been blogging since 2001 and I sometimes still get caught up in asking myself if my blog and work measure up. Part of this comes from a distorted reality a lot of blogs present (mine included sometimes), especially now. Back when blogging was a great big unknown and I was on Live Journal, we all did it for fun. Sure, there were really popular people but the overall playing field was much more balanced. Digital cameras weren’t that sophisticated yet and I don’t think any of us ever posted a photo larger than 500 pixels wide. I didn’t even know what an action was in Photoshop! We documented everything in a more “This is what I did today” way. There was less of a format or a formula. Our journals were often little more than personal diaries that happened to be outward-facing.

The Proof Is In The Picture

In the last few years (and especially now with Instagram), I feel like the proof is in the picture. Before, people were trying to explain how great their lives were and it was easy for us to write it off as being boastful or insecure. But now that we have visual proof, it really hits home. I’m a designer and by nature, I’m always rearranging my belongings and surroundings. Part of that no doubt comes from being in the advertising industry where the aim is to curate the best image possible on a client’s behalf. Companies pay big for that polish and it’s understandable because competition is stiff.

But what happens when that seeps into our daily lives? The lines between online and real life have been so blurred that it’s hard to separate fantasy from reality. If we see imagery in an ad campaign, it’s obvious that there’s a team behind it. But when we see it on blogs, it’s harder to tell.

When we’re comparing our blogs to everyone elses’ we only know part of the story. Contrary to what anyone says, none of us should be expected to share every little piece of our lives online. We all have different comfort zones. And we should respect that when it comes to everyone else, too. When we only see bits of a story (usually the best parts) it’s natural to fill in the blanks. I’ve met a lot of bloggers I admire (after following some for years before ever having that real life interaction) and I can tell you that I’m always blown away by how approachable, vulnerable and normal they actually seem. It’s a good reminder that we all have struggles.

Standing Out Is More Obvious Than You Think

When it comes to blogging, if you’re wondering why what you’re doing even matters, the answer is simpler than you think: We each have something within us that makes us unique. You have a distinct voice and perspective from everyone else in the world. Only you have the ability share, define and curate your experiences. Instead of comparing yourself to everyone else, you will actually stand out more by just being yourself.

If you’re familiar with differentiation when it comes to marketing, standing apart from the competition is a usually viewed as a major competitive advantage (and we go into a lot more detail on the subject at The Blogcademy). Your differences from every other blogger are what will actually make you the most memorable. If someone visits a dozen blogs in your niche, chances are that they’ll remember the one that is the most unique.

In Closing

At the end of the day, I try to remember that blog posts are just a snapshot into someone’s life. They don’t necessarily reflect a current moment. A blog post is a recollection of a point someone’s life that was memorable to them. It’s a learning experience. Instead of focusing on everyone else, focus on what you do best. The rest will come naturally. If the pieces haven’t fallen into place yet, it’s okay. It takes time. Just don’t lose sight of what makes you unique.

Do you fight self-imposed comparisons when it comes to blogging?
Any tips on how to stay focused?

View more of the Blog Log series here.

Blog Log #7: Balancing Blogging, Advertising and Ethics

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Blog Log Tools Of The Trade


I have always felt that as bloggers, we deserve to be fairly compensated for our work just like any other profession.

Chances are that after you’ve been blogging for awhile, when you check your inbox in the morning, half of your emails are pitches from PR companies and text link inquiries. In the beginning, this can be incredibly flattering. After all, a lot of us put a huge chunk of time and effort into creating original content for our blogs and it feels great to finally receive some recognition.

But, it starts to become tricky when we sit down and actually sift through these offers. What’s legit and what’s garbage? How much of this content is actually a good fit for our blogs?

Here’s where I stand on advertising that’s not as straightforward as a banner ad (because there are a lot of other ways to collaborate with companies in exchange for payment these days):

Text Links

At this time, I turn down all text link offers. A text link is composed of words in an article that links to another page, usually that of a business. The business will usually pay you a flat rate to insert text links into articles they deem SEO-friendly. So for instance, if I’ve posted an article about how I keep my clothing organized, a closet organization company might approach me after the article has gone live and offer $50.00 to link to their business in the body copy.

My personal feelings regarding text links is that if you aren’t a fan of the site you’re linking to and are just doing it for the money, it’s misleading for your readers to click on those links. If I don’t believe in a product or service, I sure don’t want my readers to think I do. It’s not worth trading in your ethics for a quick 50 bucks.

The one time I did do a text link deal was about four years ago and I felt okay at that time because I was able to try out the product I was recommending beforehand. Basically, I reviewed a straightening iron and felt that it was fantastic quality and ran a sponsored post along with a link to a new page on my site that advertised the straightening iron. These days, I wouldn’t put a subpage on my site but at the time, it felt fine since I knew that what I was promoting was a quality product.

As a sidenote, if you’re running text links that are clearly labeled in your sidebar as advertising, while they aren’t pretty, this is a lot more straightforward.

Affiliate Links

I do believe in using affiliate links. With affiliate links, you place code into the product link within your blog post that allows you to earn a commission on items you recommend. And most importantly, it doesn’t cost the person clicking on the link any extra money. I use these links to share products I already own or would like to own. I occasionally recommend books that I’ve read and loved, camera equipment I own and clothing that I’m wearing in my posts. Simple as that. I try to use affiliate links sparingly because there’s nothing worse than overdoing it and feeling spammy.

Sponsored Posts

These days, sponsored posts seem to be more prevalent than standard banner advertising when it comes to big name bloggers. When done right, sponsored posts can be tasteful, creative and bring together bloggers with brands they believe in. I am a fan of sponsored posts when they feel like a natural expansion of a blogger’s brand.

My most successful sponsored post collaboration to date has been working with Scotch Blue Painter’s Tape. This relationship worked well for me because I already use the product in home remodeling projects and I’d also been interested in producing original DIY projects for my readers. This collaboration was particularly exciting because I was given free reign to think up any project I wanted with the only stipulation being that I used the tape. My two outcomes from this partnership included a custom skateboard deck and Christmas ornaments.

My advice in these situations is to only agree to partnerships that allow some creative freedom and also allow you to produce your own body copy. Chances are, your readers will be turned off by a cut-and-paste PR statement so really dig in and add your personal spin.


Who doesn’t love free merchandise?! When I first started blogging seriously in 2007, I was a full-time college student balancing both a full-time job along with an internship. I didn’t have a whole lot of money and it was always flattering when companies offered to send clothing my way to include in outfit posts. It was a simple exchange: If I receive an item that I loved, I’d link to their site in a style post. I wanted new clothes I couldn’t afford otherwise, they wanted traffic and we both walked away happy.

But these days, things are a little bit different. When I am approached with an offer, I always remember what Kat of Rock n Roll Bride says: “A free handbag doesn’t pay my mortgage.” And, she’s right. I consider these partnerships a lot more carefully now and though I very occasionally accept products in exchange for a blog post, I only do so if it’s an item I feel strongly enough about that I would purchase it anyway. Which is at most, a few times per year.

It’s the law to disclose when an item was gifted so I’m very clear in my description when an item was provided for review by adding a ℅ (care of).

Brand Collaborations

If you have a solid following but aren’t being approached by the brands you’re interested in collaborating with, why not approach them? To date, all of my brand collaborations have happened by being approached by other companies but I am hearing of more bloggers writing up their own pitches these days. If you want more information on the subject, the best article I’ve seen to date on this topic is by Bri of Designlovefest.

Blog Log Tools Of The Trade


Shifting Perceptions

While it’s always flattering to get noticed by companies, my most basic advice is that if something doesn’t feel right, don’t do it. It’s never worth compromising your brand in exchange for payment. Money comes and goes but regaining your footing after a bad deal is an uphill battle.

In the beginning, some of you may include paid text links in articles or work out special deals with brands and that’s okay if you feel good about it — you have to weigh the pros and cons and work out what’s best for you. But at the same time, it’s okay to change your mind as your ethics and business principles shift. As our awareness increases, a deal that felt like a good fit just a few years earlier may feel completely wrong now.

If you’re not at the point where you’re being approached for advertising and promotions yet, that’s okay too. I always say to myself that, “Slow and steady wins the race.” It’s always better to take your time and build a blog that you and your readers believe in versus rushing it and making bad business decisions.

It’s good to be aware of opportunities but at the same time, be razor sharp about what you’re delivering in return. Never sell yourself or your readers short.

Now, it’s your turn: What kinds of offers have you taken in exchange for payment and promotion? Are there some offers that you accepted and later regretted?

View more of the Blog Log series here.

Blog Log #6: Tools Of The Trade

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Blog Log Tools Of The Trade


Today’s post is about sharing the tools and resources I use when it comes to blogging (and I’d love to hear yours in the comments as well!)

When you’re taking the leap into blogging, it can feel daunting, especially when you’re surrounded by polished pros that seemingly have everything figured out. I’m here to tell you to never use that as an excuse to hold off on your dreams. Most bloggers I know started out with inexpensive point-and-shoot cameras (or no cameras at all) and a free blogging platform. The point is that you shouldn’t let any self-perceived shortcomings get in your way because when it comes to blogging, I can honestly say that it takes upwards of a few hundred posts before you really find your voice and hit your stride. In my case, I would say I found my flow after about the 500th post and that seems to be really common. If I’d waited until everything was perfect, I probably would have held off until I was finished with college and had more free time to develop my design and writing style. Instead, I got moving and figured it out as I went.

Blog Design

When it comes to the design of my blog, I’ve had a custom theme since 2007 when I launched on WordPress. When I was first starting out (and had a much smaller budget), I hired Star St. Germain to customize a free WordPress theme for me and I used that for three years. In 2010, I hired her again to do a complete redesign and then, she developed the current design from scratch in time for my five year anniversary in 2012. It’s been a constant progression. I’ve always designed my own sites and hired a developer because I like a lot of subtle bells and whistles.

Blog Log Tools Of The Trade

My blog in 2007 (above) and 2013

If you’re just getting started and not quite ready for WordPress, Blogger works great as well. Katrina of Pugly Pixel has an awesome set of CSS tutorials geared towards Blogger and they teach you how to customize your theme.

And, while hiring a designer to develop a custom identity and blog layout is ideal, a great resource for free WordPress themes is Smashing Magazine (they always pull together the best collections). Or, you can stop by the WordPress site for over 1,700 options.

As we all know, the subtle, customized details including font choices are what really make your blog stand out. Designer Breanna Rose has compiled the best free options out there in a three part series.

Blog Platform

I highly recommend WordPress because not only do they do constant security updates, the selection of plugins is the best around. You can download the software for free here and install it own your own domain. As a business owner, it’s always been important to me to have complete control over my content and assets and WordPress allows me that.


After some completely disastrous results with a previous host, I migrated my server to Dreamhost in 2010. Yes, there have occasionally been some spotty moments but overall, I’m very pleased with the service I’ve gotten. Any time I’ve had an issue, I’ve filed a claim ticket and had a response in less than 15 minutes. They’re also super WordPress friendly and have a great wiki full of helpful hosting information.


A lot of bloggers seem to think they need a fancy photo setup but I’m here to tell you that you definitely can get by on a budget. For nearly all the photos you see on my blog, I use a Nikon D40 which I purchased used on Amazon three years ago for around $300.00 (a newer model with more megpixels is the Nikon D3000). The lens I use for all my shots is a Nikon 35mm f/1.8G AF-S DX and was another $200.00. I use this camera and lens combo nearly daily and yes, there are much nicer setups out there but it gets the job done. I’m not a professional photographer but I still want nice, crisp shots and a DSLR that fits comfortably in my purse. This is it.

Adobe CS6 Suite

I wouldn’t be able to do my job without the Adobe Creative Suite. For years, it was unattainable to a lot of folks based on the sheer cost (even if you’re a student, it’s still a sizable chunk of change) but in the last year, that’s shifted with their introduction of the Adobe Creative Cloud which allows you access to the latest software as a subscription. Now you can essentially rent the software on a month-to-month basis and even better, you get to upgrade as they come out with new versions. Never again will you be stuck without all the newest features! Current Creative Suite users, click here for a reduced rate.

Photoshop Actions

I use actions on a of my photos to create a consistent look. Having original, consistent photography is going to be one of the fastest routes to getting your blog to stand out. I personally love Totally Rad Actions but I always customize the settings and add them to my own mix. It’s about finding a looks that appeals to you and it takes some practice. If you scroll through my blog, you’ll notice that I like my photos to be bright and airy with cool undertones and a hint of saturation. If you’d like to ready more about actions, I did a more in-depth post discussing them last year. If you’re just getting into actions, this is my favorite free option.


Why do the best ideas always come to us on the run, when we’re away from our computers?! It’s probably because that’s when life really happens. To live an interesting life, you’ve got to leave your house! While I’m a total technology fiend and never far from my iPhone / iPad / MacBook / iMac, I always keep a notebook in my purse. Writing things out jogs my mind in a completely different way and sometimes, ideas for my blog just flow better.

There you go! Sure, blogging might take a little bit of an investment to take to the next level but most of us started out on a shoestring and worked our way up very slowly over a number of years.

Now, it’s your turn: What tools and resources do you turn to for making your blog run smoothly?

View more of the Blog Log series here.

Blog Log #5: What Is An Editorial Calendar and Why Do I Need One?

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When it comes to blogging, everywhere I look these days I see discussions popping up around editorial calendars. Now that we’re firmly planted in the era of professional bloggers, it seems like everyone’s openly discussing theirs. What is an editorial calendar? In a nutshell, it boils down to having your blogging schedule planned out in a calendar format. That’s it!

When I first started blogging, long before I even had a niche figured out (or cared if people were reading!), an editorial calendar wasn’t on my mind at all. I posted what I wanted when I wanted. If I was feeling particularly inspired and wanted to post twice a day, I would. If I wanted to take four days off, I would. That’s the life, right?

On the contrary, I found that it could be incredibly stressful. I’m a creature of habit and thrive on routines and structure. As the years went by and I became a lot more serious about blogging, any time I woke up and didn’t know what I was going to be posting that day, it stressed me out! I know that sounds ridiculous but fellow bloggers, you know exactly what I mean — it’s that same feeling of not getting your homework done and winging it. As we all know, posts that are cobbled together in the moment are not always the tightest. In my case, visuals come easily but words don’t always flow out as readily. Though I enjoy writing, I’m not a professional and stringing together words doesn’t just happen — columns like this take some serious forethought and many read-throughs before I’m comfortable posting. Having these topics outlined in advance gives me time to think through my drafts and rewrite sections before they go live. If I was writing this content off the cuff, I know for a fact I wouldn’t be putting my best work forward.

Slot in Specific Columns

I’d blogged on Live Journal for six years just for fun. But, by the end of 2007, I was getting a lot more serious about blogging. Plotting out my editorial calendar is actually the reason why I developed columns to fit in slots for specific days. When I looked out over the next month, knowing I had certain days of the week already covered took away a lot of the stress and allowed me to really get creative and explore those “free” days, whether it was diving into sharing sharing business tips, peeks inside recent travels or pulling back the curtain and showing my adventures in home renovation.

If you’re a regular reader, you already know this but my weekly schedule currently looks something like this:

Monday: Style Post or Client Project
Tuesday: In The Mood or Typofiles
Wednesday: Advice or Blog Log
Thursday: Link Love
Friday: Week In Pictures

And then, I’ll sprinkle in the occasional post that doesn’t fit into these slots to mix things up.

Contrary to what it may seem at first glance, what I’ve found is that having an editorial calendar doesn’t confine me at all — instead, it gives me the spark I need to produce certain kinds of content. It holds me accountable to my blog and deadlines. If I didn’t have a calendar, I might slip away more often. It’s wonderful to be a blogging free spirit and I admire the folks that live their lives with wild abandon. But, having some structure is good for all of us. And if I was staring out over a blank month, I would be back to where I was when I started: posting a hodgepodge of everything with some hits, a lot of misses and very little consistency. I’ll leave that for my personal journal!

Tracking Your Editorial Calendar

Some people like Gala hand write their blogging plans out by hand. Others use Google Docs. I keep it simple and put together a text document that I keep on my desktop. There’s no surefire way to keep yours. I find that the more basic I keep these documents, the more likely I am to check in and follow my plan.

In Closing

As your blog becomes more established, whether you like it or not, readers begin to expect a sense of consistency. Regular columns coupled with an editorial calendar will make your life run a whole lot smoother and as a bonus, if you can work ahead, it’s always nice to pre-schedule posts and take a few days off!

View more of the Blog Log series here.

It’s your turn: Do you keep an editorial calendar?

Blog Log #4: 8 Keys To Making Lasting Online Connections

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Pay attention, be genuine and be engaging. In return, your connections will soar. Photo by Shell de Mar.

Dale Carnegie, author of the wildly popular book How To Win Friends and Influence People once said, “You can make more friends in two months by becoming interested in other people than you can in two years by trying to get other people interested in you.” Though he proclaimed this in 1936, the sentiment is as true today as it was then. I know it’s easy to make excuses with so many social media platforms to keep up with, let alone blogs. And we all have so much going on. But those 30 seconds you spend leaving a positive, insightful comment can really make someone’s day and make a lasting impression.

We all have different reasons for wanting to make connections. Sometimes, we come across a blog that’s incredibly cool and clever and think, “I want to befriend whoever’s behind that.” Other times, we notice someone in our industry that’s beyond insightful, not to mention hugely successful on their own terms and we want advice. Or, perhaps we need a favor or a recommendation. Our reasons for wanting to form online connections are different but no matter what our motives are, they should always come across as genuine and welcoming.

So, how do you make lasting online connections?

1. Help others through your content

This is going to sound like common sense but hear me out. If you’re a blogger and your content is all about you all the time, you will have a set amount of admirers. But, if your blog is about you but also aims to help people in a genuine way, whether that’s offering them advice or teaching them something new, your audience will be a lot more varied, and your reach more widespread. Do you have an area of expertise? Create a weekly or monthly series around it. The more you’re able to help people, the more they’ll be drawn to what you’re doing and in turn, keep you in mind when opportunities arise.

2. Put yourself out there

If you’re cowering in your bedroom and afraid to make that first that first move (even if it’s leaving a comment on someone’s blog or twitter), if you’re terrified to send that first introduction email, nothing’s going to happen. If you want change in your life, you have to create it. If you want friends, you have to open up. If you want industry connections, you have to find them. A big portion of my closest friends were made directly through blogging (you can read about that here) and starting a blog is a great way to share more about yourself (and draw in like-minded people) without sounding braggy. With blogs, you can create articles around a general theme instead of boasting on Facebook, “Hey, look what I did today!” which is almost always a turn-off.

And when it comes to email introductions, just hit send already! The worst possible thing that can possibly happen is no response at all. And that’s what you have now. So put yourself out there!

3. Contribute to the conversation

If you regularly leave comments on blogs and social media platforms that are genuinely adding to a conversation, it might take some consistency but they will get noticed. Likewise, if you get mentioned in an article, leave a quick comment of thanks and recognition. Use your manners and be gracious! These little tokens of appreciation do add up — create a memorable trail across the internet.

4. Help those who seek help

If someone writes a blog post or tweets about their quest for a specific item, send them some options (Kat is a total pro at this). If someone tweets looking for shops and restaurants to visit on vacation in a new city, offer up some recommendations. You can never go wrong by being helpful.

5. Link to content you love

Every week, I link to articles I find valuable and get the word out. Sending a chunk of traffic bloggers’ way is one of my small ways of giving back to those I respect and admire. I’ve actually become friends certain bloggers through regularly linking to them. A lot of the articles that you’re reading (including this one) might only take five minutes to get through but probably took the blogger a few hours to write. Link back to content you find valuable and show bloggers some love!

6. Attend every industry events

It’s not easy putting yourself out there but you’ll make valuable connections by showing up to industry events with an open mind (and a stack of business cards). Even the biggest bloggers can appear supremely confident on-screen and still be total wallflowers in person. If someone is standing around by themselves, make that first move. Talk to bloggers in the same the way you’d talk to a friend — always remember to play it cool! The second you start flailing your arms around and proclaiming, “Oh my god! I’m you’re biggest fan!” and smothering them, it becomes incredibly uncomfortable and you’ve just moved yourself down a level.

Think of it this way: If you were to run into a celebrity at the bar and casually strike up a conversation, they may engage you. If you squeal, try to hug them, snap a million photos and go on and on about their biggest accomplishments, you’re treating them as less than human. Would you treat your closest friends this way? Playing it cool takes practice but I promise, it will get you a lot further with the people you admire!

7. Stay consistent but not creepy

If you’d like to connect with someone, take it easy. Kat once said, “If it would be weird in real life, it’s weird on the internet” and she had a point! Comment regularly, show an interest and interact with the tweets of the people you’d like to connect with but don’t come on too strong. I know this is vague but if you have to ask how much is too much, you’re probably crossing the line! When interacting for the first time, think of how you’d act on a coffee date when meeting a new friend. Keep your interactions light, casual and conversational in the beginning.

8. If you’re asking for something, follow the golden rule

If you ever need a favor (and we all do at some point), always, always, always offer something in return! People will remember that small token of appreciation forever. I’ve sent Amazon digital gift certificates, bought dinner, coffee, offered design discounts, written testimonials and more in exchange for a favor. Everyone loves to feel appreciated. Even a simple “thank you” or a handwritten card can mean the world on a bad day. I have stack of handwritten thank you cards from past Blogcademy graduates sitting on my desk and each showcases their personalities beautifully. It’s inspired me to upgrade my thank you card arsenal as well. Sometimes giving thanks takes a budget no larger than a stamp.

In closing

Always be genuine, charming and humble. Above all, be yourself and doors will open.

If you’re searching for even more advice, these articles are extremely helpful:

1. Modern Etiquette by Grace Bonney of Design Sponge
2. Collaborations That Work… by Kat Williams
3. Email Etiquette for the Super Busy by 99U
4. The Best Goal is No Goal by Zen Habits (because sometimes, the best connections happen naturally)

View more of the Blog Log series here.

It’s your turn: How do you go about making connections in an authentic, non-slimy way? What’s been the best thing that’s come about from you taking that chance and reaching out?

Blog Log #3: How Blogging Has Opened Doors to Friendship and Career Opportunities

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Blogging has opened doors that I never expected. Photo by Shell de Mar.

Last week, I shared the one thing I wish that someone would have told me when I first started blogging. This week has a slightly different twist — I’m focusing on the ways blogging has affected my life, mostly in areas I couldn’t have predicted. I really had no idea at the time just how many doors blogging would open.

As I mentioned last week, when I launched my blog on my own domain in August 2007, I was still in college. I wasn’t yet a full-time designer and I honestly didn’t know what purpose my blog would serve besides sharing snippets of my life and travels. I didn’t have a big, beautiful blogging plan and maybe that was for the best because I didn’t overanalyze what I was doing. I just posted what I loved on a daily basis, simple as that. The niche and the themed columns came later and because of that, there was a lot less pressure to live up to some preconceived standards.

Having a blog didn’t feel that revolutionary to me. Even at the time, I just made it part of my everyday routine. I’ve always heard that if you love something enough, you’ll find a way to make time for it. Blogging is the same way. Even though I didn’t have a master plan mapped out, slowly, I did start to notice doors opening in part because I had a blog. The more I blogged, the more my focus sharpened and the more opportunities can my way.

If you’ve ever felt disillusioned or burnt out or wondered why you keep your blog going, perhaps these stories I’m sharing today will inspire you to keep moving forward.


In 2007, I applied for an internship at Nemo Design. I had just finished my first year of community college and knew that’s where I wanted to be. I came in for an informational interview and along with sharing my portfolio, I mentioned my blog. Dave Allen was in charge of digital strategy at the time and also way ahead of the curve when it came to blogging and social media. I got the internship and the best part was that at Nemo, blogging was encouraged alongside design. Designers with blogs weren’t as common then and having that nurturing, encouraging atmosphere really helped me hone in on what I was doing — I still remember our meeting with a professional consultant who critiqued our blogs and walking away afterwards going wow, all those little details do matter.

The wave of change was slow but I remember walking into agencies for interviews over the next few years and getting recognized before I’d introduced myself. Portland’s design community is very tight-knit but it still felt surreal to get that instant recognition at studios I admired.

In 2010, I was freelancing at Nike and on my third day, I got called into a meeting with the head of the department. Of course my stomach dropped, wondering if I’d done something terribly wrong! They barely knew me, what could they possibly want? Was I getting fired?! Instead, I had an hour long conversation with the creative director, who’d recognized me from my blog — this was a guy who’d worked alongside Oprah in a past life! I got offered an interview.

Last Fall, as I was obsessing over the new Computer Arts Collection series and reviewing the issues on my blog, the magazine’s creative director caught wind of the posts and tweets. I was sitting in an airport when an email came in, offering me an 8 page feature. Once again, blogging was opening doors that I didn’t realize were there.

I am positive that these three opportunities would have never transpired without my passion for blogging.


Beyond anything that’s transpired professionally, the friendships I’ve made through blogging are the most important. I met my friend Pam one day after she read my blog and sent me an email. We went out to dinner and became fast friends. I’d known Gala from Live Journal — we finally met up during the summer of 2008 in New York and my life was never the same — we now travel the world together with Kat (who we also met through blogging) with our workshop, The Blogcademy. I met Anna through Live Journal a decade ago and though we don’t get to see each other that often, I adore her design sense from afar. Meeting Star through blogging really impacted me — she became my close friend and web developer (she’s coded all my blogs!). Bianca is another friend I made — when I first met up with her on a street corner in New York, I had no idea she’d be photographing my wedding a decade later!

Last summer, I got on a plane and flew to Palm Springs to meet 20 other female designers for a retreat called Design Life. The key bond we all shared is that we ran blogs. Though I’d been reading many of their blogs for a really long time, seeing them in person for the first time was overwhelmingly positive and we’re still in contact, tweeting, commenting on each other’s blogs and sharing insights. Thanks to blogging, I now have a network of 20 amazing women across the country that share the same passion for design that I do.


Blogging isn’t all a bed of roses, though. On the flip side of all these amazing opportunities, there have been people who haven’t felt the same way about blogging as I do.

Two years ago, I was sitting next to a freelancer at a design studio and we hit it off. One thing led to another and I shared my blog with him. He quickly scrolled through, soaking in all the details and then spent the next five minutes critiquing me in a condescending tone. “Your site should just be a portfolio. Why do you post all these personal photos? That stuff belongs on Facebook…your site should be dedicated to your work.” I was being torn down for letting people know who lived beyond the work. Even after all those years of blogging, I remember wondering if he was right. And then I remembered that not everyone is supposed to get what we do as bloggers. And that’s okay. Once you accept that, it’s easier to let go and set out with what YOU feel you’re supposed to do. It’s up to you to set your own boundaries and share as little or as much of yourself as you’d like.

When people come along and wonder why we share what we do on our blogs, I always go back to the mindset that we are so much more than our work. I mentioned this in the first Blog Log, but if all I did was share my design work, it would get really dull really fast for a lot of you. Yes, it’s scary putting yourself out there and there are going to be those people that don’t get it. But I promise, the payoffs far outweigh the bad. If I could start over, I’d do it all over again. I am a firm believer that people are interested in more than what you do, they’re interested in you. And the more they feel like they know you, the more opportunities will come your way.

Blogging is not always easy but to me, it is worth it.

View more of the Blog Log series here.

Your turn: What’s been the biggest door that’s opened for you because of blogging?