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Can Full-time Bloggers Live Off Of Rainbows + Hugs?

Hello lovely readers and friends. How are you today? I had quite a good week because it began with our wedding anniversary which was so, so nice this year to celebrate it with our baby. I hope all is well with you, too. So! I want to bring something up in this space because I wonder what your thoughts are and I wonder if this is just one rare comment or if lots of people are beginning to see blogger’s who make money as the bad guys? So let’s see what you think.

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I already know what I think! First, the comment that was left on my blog last night.

“dear holly, please allow me to be very frank. it’s all too much for me. all your books and now an online shop – you are marketing yourself too much for my taste. it has become all about earning money and i can feel the spirit fading away. so sorry to say so and i really grant you every success possible but i fear you are loosing your magic touch by selling, selling and more selling. still, all the best, uschi.”

I’m open to comments left by readers, I mean, we all have a right to our opinion. Yet, I’m always baffled when someone thinks a blogger who spends 8-10 hours a day putting together content for their site, employing others, writing books, teaching workshops, etc. is somehow supposed to be doing all of this for free and the moment they explore alternatives, they’re told they are “losing their magic”. They are judged because they earn their living from this work. Every blogger that I know who is having success with it tries to turn it into something that yields revenue so they can quit their jobs and spend time doing something that enriches their life. What’s wrong with that, really? If I wasn’t doing this, I’d be back in my cubicle at the investments company in Boston feeling like I’d never reach my childhood dream of authoring books. Isn’t this what we want for others though, to come out from under the clouds and find something positive to get involved in that makes them happy that is also good work that impacts others in a positive way? Don’t we want happiness for others?

This morning my husband told me he replied to a comment on my blog. I asked him which comment because I had approved the one above last night so quickly that I didn’t even read it. I was so tired and the baby needed me. When I read his comment, replying to the one above, the tears started to flow. He really nailed it for me – how I feel about making money as a blogger, how I feel about marketing what I do, all of it. So please read his reply below. I wonder if perhaps this will encourage those of you who, like me, are trying to keep it real and support your families by doing what you enjoy.

Hallo Uschi,

This is Thorsten, Holly’s husband and the “tech guy” behind decor8. I’ve just read your comment while performing some maintenance on decor8. This isn’t the first comment of this kind on decor8, by no means, and it certainly won’t be the last. I don’t usually comment on Holly’s blog since being her husband we have our conversations offline, in person. But there are occasions where I feel compelled to join a conversation publicly for means of coming to my wife’s aid. This is such a case.

I have been at Holly’s side, and on her side, ever since she started blogging back in 2006. She had and always will have my respect, support and admiration for all her hard work. I have been with her through the sweat and tears, the bullying, the name calling, the attacks on her reputation by other bloggers. It was atrocious at times, it was repulsive, it was disgusting. But she stuck with it. She had a goal: to make her dream of becoming a (paid) writer come true. As a writer myself sharing that same dream I kept saying “go for it”. I am proud of her for all she’s accomplished – proud of her successful blog, proud of her many published articles, proud of her books and all that’s yet to come.

Do you know how all this comes about? Through hard work. Unlike a good majority of bloggers Holly doesn’t grab content from other sites and reword it. She tries hard to make sure all her posts are not only original, as much as online writing can be original these days, but also reflective of her vision. This takes time and effort, often in excess of eight hours a day. She then publishes it free of charge on her blog for everyone’s enjoyment. In addition she wrote three books so far, each one taking a good year of preparation, negotiation, and traveling. I was there, I know first hand. I know about the stress, the tears, the heartaches, the doubts.

Now, as mentioned, I am a writer myself. I used to write articles for magazines, newspapers and various multimedia outlets. I call myself a journalist. A journalist is someone who writes professionally usually producing work for hire or selling articles. No one would ever accuse me of selling, selling, selling or losing my magic touch because I charge for what I write. In fact, if publishers would expect me to write for free I’d complain, probably loudly, on the web. Many people would come to my aid denouncing the “evil” publishers, those “greedy bastards”, the “disgusting freeloaders”. I expect to be paid for my hard work, everyone does.

Yet somehow bloggers have no right to that. They are expected to publish content for free. They are expected to do it out of the goodness of their hearts. They are expected to be magical creatures apparently living off of rainbows and hugs. Dare I say this holds true mostly for female bloggers. The moment a female blogger tries to find forms of compensation for her hard work she is chastised by a good percentage of her gender. She’s selling out. On the other hand if I, as a man, were to start a tech blog, had ads from major sponsors, wrote tech books, went on paid speaking assignments, did consultations etc. I’d be considered a successful man. Seth Godin comes to mind, also Darren Rowse of ProBlogger. It speaks for the still pitiful state of female empowerment in our day and age, the biggest opponents being other females.

So I say, YES, this is in part about earning money. Of course it is. How can it not be? How can Holly and other predominantly female bloggers be rightfully expected to do all this work for nil? More so for those who have made this a family business. Worse yet, are such family businesses judged by tired old societal frameworks like the good housewife and the hard working husband? He goes off to work while she takes care of the home and the children and everything she does is a hobby and will not be allowed to ever be more than that? Aren’t we beyond the Mad Men era by now?

Thorsten

So what do you bloggers and friends of bloggers think of this? I am curious so chime in!

(image: rainbow garland, etsy)

Posted in real talk on July 18, 2014

My Joss & Main Sale July 17-22

Hello everyone! Do you remember when I told you that I was collecting my inspirations together on Pinterest for my Joss & Main sale July 8-15? Well, they switched the dates in case you’ve wondered what happened so the sale day is actually kicking off right now and will continue on their site until July 22. It’s hard to find it on their main page (it’s mentioned along the bottom) so here’s a direct link. Their buyers looked at my Pinterest board along with my favorites page on their site where I collected some of my favorite things and from that, they pulled together a selection of items for my sale that have been greatly reduced and some of them, wow, are really beautiful. A few of my favorites are shown below, I pulled together a little natural glam mood board and a coastal chic one – all things I’d definitely own and use in my home.

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They’ve also interviewed me on their  beautiful site and asked me questions like how I got started and what my dreams are someday for my business. You can read the interview here – a glimpse below…

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To shop my Joss & Main sale, please visit this page until July 22 9 pm EST. Hurry, all items are sold in very limited quantities so once they sell out, that’s it! Don’t you just LOVE the giant indoor teepee above for the little ones? It’s right on trend with this post, too! I want this so bad for Aidan! See how good it looks in a home?

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Here’s my coastal chic mood board using things from my Joss & Main sale…

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Have fun shopping my sale!

(images: joss+main, bottom photo by Rolinda Windhors)

Posted in events + markets on July 17, 2014

The decor8 Online Shop Is Open!

Hello everyone! I’m experimenting with this idea of having an online shop, so I’ve added some really nice things to the decor8 Great.ly shop recently that I’m sure you will really love that are shown below. If you want to learn more about anything you see just click on the links and you’ll be zipped over to my shop el pronto! I love working with so many talented makers and am currently partnering with a few of them to create all new products that I’ll offer soon in my shop too. It’s such meaningful work for me and such a great way to dabble in something new while also supporting others to continue working for themselves doing what they love. I’m trying to have less ads on decor8, I’m being VERY strict with who advertises on decor8 right now and going forward and am trying to scale back a lot with ads so I only have the best of the best on the site. This also means a revenue loss each month. Having an online shop could potentially help me make up for that loss, even if only in a small way. So are you ready to see some of what’s in stock at the moment? Many of these items are produced in limited numbers so if you see something you like, don’t wait… Here are my 6 different categories with a peek of what’s inside of each:

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Category 1: Every Girl Needs – This section of my shop includes bags and totes, jewelry, candles, key fobs, laptop bags and folders, camera bags and more. Here are a few products I love: The Mamuye Tote, Leather, handcrafted in Ethiopia. Can’t keep this bag in stock, it’s back ordered but you can order it now and it will be available to ship on July 25th. // Envelope Macbook case handmade in Japan // Stay Awesome tote screen printed in New Zealand using vegetable inks – also available in black and gold // Hello Friend tote // Laser cut custom made silhouette pendant // Ring in recycled silver. 

weeones

Category 2: Wee Ones - This is where I stock items for babies and children like linens, wall art, shoes, dolls, dollhouses, bookends and other cute things. Here are a few products you’ll want to check out: Buck tassel pillow // Silver star cloud mobile // WORD onesie // The sky is the limit paper wall flag // Sleep neon pink pillowcase // Jumping bunny nursery print.

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Category 3: Office + GiftsThis is where you can find nice items to give and also practical yet lovely things for your home office. I grouped these together since I find I’m always giving people paper products and things that I use for work since so many of my friends are working girls too. Here are a few highlights: // Stay Awesome gift tags // ceramic moth coasters // palm + cactus gift tags // vintage sewing gift tags // gold anchor notecards // gold foil polkadot pencils.

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Category 4: Art Walls – I had to have a corner of my store dedicated to art, namely prints of original works. I love art walls, also known as gallery walls or “salon style” which takes its name from the French salon style arrangements of grouping photos on the wall. Anyway, I love these works and by far, this part of my shop is most well-stocked – you can find tons of gorgeous prints here and the best part is that I’ve collected them so that you can actually buy any of them and put them on the wall together and they’d work! So you can’t go wrong. Enjoy! Some highlights include: // Abstract artwork // From The Valley canvas print // Shade art print // Faded beach day // Paris is always a good idea // Dressed I Artwork Print // Light Fog art print // Cactus flower photo print.

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Category 5: Decorate – How could I NOT have a decorating category? Here are some highlights from pillows to throws. Highlights: // geometric air plant vessel // Icelandic sheepskin throw // cushions // stay awesome flag // acrylic bathroom signs // Je T’aime (means “I love you” in French) pillow // eclipse cushion.

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Category 6: Foodies – This is where everything for the kitchen and tabletop goes. guten Appetit! Highlights: // Handmade lace cheese plate // madison rocks cups // linen napkins // black and maple serving board // handmade white ceramic spoon // handmade white ceramic bowl // Plume gray napkins set of 4 // Tokyo ramen bowl.

Here’s a link to the decor8 shop if you want to cruise by another time – I’m adding new things every few days!

(images linked to their sources above.)

Posted in round-up, shopping on July 16, 2014

Today We Shall Eat Cake + Enjoy The Flowers

Today is a very special one because it’s July 14, 2014 and 13 years ago today I got married! We were so young, so daring, so full of hopes and dreams… Today we’re not the doe-eyed dreamers we once were as much as the let’s-do-it doers and that’s something age and marriage gave us both – gumption, courage, fire. We’ve had many good times but also hard ones like when we had to count all of the change in the house in order to procure enough to buy groceries. I remember when my husband sold all of his belongings to be able to afford my wedding ring and a flight to America to marry me. I remember our honeymoon in San Francisco and how exciting it was to be in a city I had only dreamt to see back then and how we looked at rental apartments while there because we were convinced we’d found our dream city. Only we were too broke to make that happen.

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Marriage isn’t easy but what relationship is? There are none without compromise, tears, joy, heartbreak and smiles that extend ear-to-ear. It’s impossible to have a perfect life with someone, but it’s entirely possible to have a happy life . Happy doesn’t mean trouble-free. Life is hard and sometimes we grow together and other months, we drift apart. But we come together again. And we just keep going. One thing I’ve learned with my marriage is that the growing apart at times doesn’t mean it’s over. It only means that you have to keep walking ahead until your paths converge again. Humans evolve. We aren’t going to be the same people we were when we got married. When I read articles about how couples “grew apart” I often wonder what they went into marriage expecting. That they’d always be the same and want the same things and just follow protocol forever?

To think of where we are today, and that we have a child now on our journey with us, is mind-blowing and beautiful. It’s also hard to grasp that 13 years have passed because it seems like we’ve been together my entire life while it also feels like yesterday that we met online in a public forum where I was writing back and forth to a woman on the topic of masculinity vs. femininity and female objectification. And to think that a topic like that piqued the interest of a German journalist and computer science genius living thousands of miles away is just a riot. I remember back then (1998) I confessed to my mother that I was dating a man on the internet that I hadn’t met in person yet and the first thing she said was, “How do you know he isn’t a serial killer or rapist?”, because back then that was what most people thought when they heard about online dating. We wrote back and forth for nearly a year before we met for the first time and we were engaged within two weeks. That was 15 years ago in the Autumn of 1999. Then we were married in 2001.

Writing online has brought me uncounted blessings like a beautiful marriage and a glowing career. No serial killers mom!

Today my husband sent me gorgeous flowers that I’m holding above. And champagne that I’ll be holding in my tummy later on after the baby is snoozing. He also gave me the most beautiful ring to symbolize the birth of our son. I burst into tears the moment I opened the little black box with the exact same gold lettering on it that he gave me holding my engagement ring many years ago.

Thank you Thorsten for living with me, putting up with me, loving me and always being so loyal and caring. And for being the most wonderful daddy to little Aidan. I loved you from the first time we talked on the phone for 5 hours back in 1998 and I’ll love you forever + ever. Happy Anniversary my love.

(photo: thorsten becker)

Posted in uncategorized on July 14, 2014

Books:

Some of my books...

Further editions available: Decorate published by Murdoch Books for AU/NZ, Decorar BR, Alt om indretning DK, Inspirace pro váš byt CZ, Dekorácie SK, La décoration FR, Lust auf Wohnen DE, Sisusta tyylillä FI and Sztuka aranżacji wnętrz PL.

eCourses:

Next dates

Blogging Your Way: Blog Boss
e-course, October 10 - November 10, 2014
Find out more about this exciting class by bloggers, for bloggers, teaching you how to blog like a boss!