Hello everyone! I’m quickly dropping in to wish you a happy weekend with hopes that the weather is as beautiful where you live as it is here… Feeling so blessed! I also want to tell you about an exciting online teaching gig. I thought I’d cast a net to see who replies because we’re currently hiring, yippee!
But first, some personal updates… We are all doing really well, Aidan will be 4 months old on June 9th so I’m already preparing an outfit for him to wear for his monthly photo shoot because I’m a crazy in love mommy like that! Thing is, he’s such a doll, I’m totally smitten! I’ll write a big post all about Aidan with updates and photos when he turns 6 months old so you can expect that in August, but if you want play-by-play footage until then, please follow me on Instagram @decor8 because I post lots of pics from my daily life there which often includes my little sweetheart baby boy.
Okay, now to the really cool job stuff. I shot this photo of my mood board above just last week after we just wrapped up another Blogging Your Way e-course and it was a huge success – we had lots of fun, I helped design some prints that you can see on my mood board which we gave away to our students that said, “Blog what you love, love what you blog”, and we also had a final exam in which students could earn a bonafide certificate – I know, so cute, right!? You can see mine printed out (top right) on my mood board. Anyway, we’ll be teaching again in September with a VERY SPECIAL and quite famous designer who will solely lead an amazing class for us then in October/November, I’ll lead another blog class online with two guest teachers. Blogging Your Way is the web’s first e-course about blogging and we’ve been growing and going strong since March 2009 when we launched, with over 7,000 students taught worldwide so far. I can’t believe we just celebrated our 5 year anniversary!
If you would love to teach for Blogging Your Way, please write to our project coordinator, Jessy Senti, with topics you’d like to cover and tell us why you’d make a great teacher. You can send a video submission, a sample teaching post, a list of topics you’d love to cover, etc. Her email is jessy [at] decor8blog [dot] com. This is a very well paid opportunity and for the most part, a one-time teaching gig as we like to switch up our teachers with each course, but this doesn’t mean we’d never call you back to work for us again – we always keep the doors open. We are currently seeking teachers for the October/November 2014 intermediate/advanced blogging class in which a co-teacher would teach two Fridays online and you’d need to be available to answer questions in our forum for a two week period. We can give you more information via email… I can’t wait to see who writes in, maybe you?
Have a wonderful weekend everyone!
(photo: holly becker for decor8)
As my blogging e-course wraps up, I left our students with a pretty heavy duty podcast called, “The Future of Blogging + The Internet” where I made some big predictions on where I see blogs in the days ahead. Yeah, I’m not exactly the kind of person that quietly exits a room. Go big or go home.
Thing is, I wanted those 350 students to walk away from class really thinking about the future and what they can do to create something interesting, not just go with the flow and passively let blogging morph into whatever. I don’t want them to think that it’s okay to just sail away into the sunset and do what’s already working. Think of the WHAT IF.
If we get honest for a moment, blogs have become too same-y. If we are lifestyle bloggers, we think taking it “up a notch” is to work with sponsors, hire contributors, and have columns that feature recipes, home tours and DIY stories. Thing is, what was fresh once isn’t fresh today. Add stuff to your blog that you are good at, and have passion for. Not just because you think that is what you have to do. Taking it up a notch isn’t about adding something to our blog that is already happening everywhere else, it’s about adding something valuable to set us apart. Funny thing is, this also takes the pressure off because some of us don’t want to do what everyone else is doing but think we should to be hip and cool. Blogging is about being unique. Be innovative. There are so many new things we can introduce if we just sit down for a moment and brainstorm.
I’ve been thinking about all of this SO MUCH in the past year. In fact, right before I got pregnant I sat down with my career coach and told her how I felt about blogging and the many ways that I want to evolve decor8. Then I got pregnant and my focus became my baby. He’s three months old now, we’re over that newborn “hump”, so I’m back to thinking about my company again and where I want all of this to go.
We as bloggers each have a huge responsibility to ourselves and to this community to get smart and creative again. This is the internet, anything is possible. How can we reach our audience, what are we really good at, what is missing? Blogging needs to evolve beyond just template changes and new logos to feel relevant. I told my students today that we are only as strong as our weakest post. Let’s use a photography portfolio as an example. Pretend you have 10 amazing photos to show perspective clients but you think you really should have 25 (quantity is important, you think) so you pad your portfolio with work that isn’t your “best” just to look more professional by having a lot of photos. Thing is, 10 of your strongest photos would’ve been better. Those clients will only see the weakest work and judge you by that. Same with our blogs. Sometimes we have to admit what we suck at and get rid of it. What isn’t working? We always try so hard to improve what we’re bad at, well why not improve what we already are good at so we can became damn good – great even?
I’ve taught blogging e-courses and in-person workshops for five years now to over 7,000 students worldwide. I’m only throwing numbers out there so you know that I’m not just making this stuff up — I know what bloggers and readers want to learn, what they like currently, what they don’t, and what they want to see in the future because they candidly say so in our private forums. In my current class, I asked my students to list 3 blogs they love and why and also to list what things about those same blogs that could be improved. To be fair, they each had to critique MY BLOG TOO. Dear God. To say it was humbling is an understatement. I’m glad I have a thick skin and a big piece of chocolate nearby as I read through them. But don’t we need that now and then? To be shown the truth? What I learned from my students is that most of them know what works (and what doesn’t) on their favorite blogs. And most of them are right! We need to ask these questions more, even to our own readers. What can we improve? A good business must ask the hard questions now and then. We can’t be satisfied with where we are no matter how hard we want things to stay the same, they just won’t. Especially online.
A final bit I’d like to add is that we have to remember our humble beginnings, especially those of us who started blogging before Facebook went public, before Twitter, Pinterest, Etsy, Instagram, etc. were even on the map. We are the pioneers, the renegades, the risk takers. We started blogging without a clue about what was about to happen - then fame and money entered the room and the dynamics of it all changed. A question I ask myself and my students often is how are we going to change the game? How can we as a community drive blogging into the future as a relevant way to still reach others? This rests in our hands. This is our movement, we started it, we have some control over where blogging is heading because most of us who have blogs also read them. Maybe I’m just being naive but I want to believe we still have the power to evolve blogging in exciting new ways. Isn’t the future of blogging up to each one of us?
So what do you think when you consider your future as a blogger? How do you see blogging a year from now? What do you think needs to change? What is missing? What works?
I found a new blog to love this week called Fantas-tisch. It’s in German so for those of you who cannot read it I have good news – you can still drool over the lovely photos and recipes. Fantas-tisch is a word play which is why it’s hyphenated. “Fantastisch” meaning fantastic and “Tisch” which means table. The blog is about food and table settings, parties, etc. so Fantas-tisch is quite a sweet and fun name for it I think! Here are some of my favorite posts from this gorgeous blog written by Anke.
How did I find this gorgeous blog? She reviewed our Decorate With Flowers book (in German it is called Wohnen mit Blumen) and I noticed a few click throughs! In fact, the flowers shown above floating in the white bowl were inspired by the cover of our book! I loved seeing that – it made my day (thank you Anke!).
Have a nice weekend everyone – see you next week!
I want to quickly tell you about a few things that have inspired me lately. I think you guys care about this stuff, because I know when you tell me what’s on your radar I find it quite interesting. But in addition to the inspiring stuff I need your travel trips on how to deal with a mom who is terrified to fly. So terrified that she could possibly have a full blown panic attack on the flight and I’m not even kidding. But first… I’m inspired by:
MY STUDENTS + MY BLOG REDESIGN
Okay my first inspiration of the moment, other than my baby, are my current students in my Blogging Your Way e-course. I’m so inspired by these wonderful men and women! In fact, before class began I decided to map out my own blog redesign, which I’m currently tackling like a bull charging towards its goal. I’m so excited to soon have this blog made over! It needs updated and I have some surprises with those updates, so decor8 will be a little different in a few months from now… You guys will love it though and I’m happy to say that I’m going in a bit of a different direction with it so it will be much more interesting to us all in just a few months from now.
I think all of our local friends have been by to visit us since the baby arrived. We are so happy and feel so loved and supported by this! I was also inspired by our friends who visited us from afar – well not too afar but still, they flew in from London just to meet little Aidan and spend time with us. It was very loving of them, a most caring gesture. Sania, Mark and their beautiful children Leila and Luke, came for a four day visit. This was a very beautiful gift for us – and being parents to older children, they really helped us with advice and also showed me how to loosen up a bit and encouraged me to go out with the baby more and do stuff with him just as I would if I were still living without a child. I was terrified to take the bus or subway with the baby. But Sania quickly got me out of that and told me we will do it together and so we did and now I’m on the train with Aidan frequently. I feel free! While they were here, we took Aidan to the art museum, zoo, flea market, shopping, out to dinner, to the beer garden, for a forest walk… He was a busy baby! Here is their son Luke with an ice cream that just happened to have a heart show up in the center. The moment I saw it I asked my husband to snap a photo because I like unexpected surprises like this but also since I felt so much love having them with us at such a special part of our life. Thank you Sania, Mark, Leila and Luke. We love you guys!
DOING A LITTLE OF NOTHING
And below, here we are at the beer garden in the forest behind my house. Doing a bit of nothing, really. We sat on the outskirts of the beer garden so we could be close to the playground (not shown), not because we’re anti-social! It was a chilly day, this was taken 3 weeks ago, but it was really nice to be huddled together around that table with our children doing nothing in particular. Too bad Mark isn’t in the photo, he took it so… But yes, time spent with visitors are cherished times indeed. That’s me, Sania, Leila, Luke and my husband Thorsten. In the stroller was a sleeping Aidan.
THE COURAGE OF OTHERS
Speaking of visitors, my mother is leaving the country for the first time in her life to fly over here to meet Aidan in less than two weeks! This takes tremendous courage, especially at 65 years old with very few flights under her belt. She lives in Boston and the moment I had Aidan, she decided to put her fear aside and fly over. I’m excited to soon see her again and to hand her Aidan, her first grandchild, and watch her eyes light up. She is so anxious to fly but her excitement to meet Aidan is helping calm her nerves. She’ll be here until July so we’ll get plenty of time to catch up and do fun things like drive up to the coast and show the baby the beach for the first time. By the way – any good advice for me to give to my mom who is terrified to take an international flight? I upgraded her seat and booked her on a day flight so she’s not half asleep when she lands in London (I’m flying to London to meet her and she’ll fly here with me), but other than that I’m not sure what else to do to make her less fearful. I love to fly and always have. It’s hard for someone like me to give advice in this case.
YOUR AMAZING REVIEWS
And finally, I have to thank EVERYONE who has been spreading the love about our book, Decorate With Flowers. In fact, I’m linking every review HERE so if yours isn’t listed, please comment below and let us know! Leslie and I are so proud of it and how well it’s doing. Tonight in Vancouver at The Cross, Leslie will be signing books and sharing some beautiful floral arrangements she has made for guests. In the Fall, we’ll be doing a little book tour in Europe during the month of September. It’s been really fun to read all of the gorgeous reviews in magazines, on websites and those that have been blogged by some pretty wonderful people. The only thing we’d like to ask is that if you blogged about our book or bought it and have a few moments, if you could leave a review on Amazon. We’d be truly grateful for that! Oh and the book is going to be released in Dutch, Japanese, Italian and French in addition to the two English language versions and the German edition – 7 editions total so far!
(images: 1/holly becker 2/thorsten becker 3/mark wilson 4/leslie shewring)