Today I’m excited to join an incredible group of women who are all going to be Mentors at this year’s Haven Conference in Atlanta. This week we each were asked to participate in a Q&A series, assigned a given day, with the goal that you get to know each of us a little better. Today is my day to share!
If you are coming here from Layla at The Lettered Cottage, WELCOME! I hope this post gives you a little taste of what type of stuff you can find here at Shades of Blue Interiors.
1. How many years have you been blogging?
I started my blog almost 5 years ago, mostly to document the furniture makeovers I was creating and selling locally, but also to hopefully inspire others to create something beautiful. Soon after, I started linking up to furniture makeover link parties, like Miss Mustard Seed‘s Furniture Feature Friday (RIP) among others. That was when I really started to see the value in the blogging community.
^^This pretty coral bird and branch dresser was a ‘re-visit’ from my original Blue Bird Dresser from 2012 which has been copied and re-copied over and over online. It is not a stencil, I free-handed the design.
To see more of my furniture makeovers go HERE.
I made a few online friendships that way (like Danielle with Finding Silver Pennies and Allison from the Golden Sycamore), and then finally a couple years later I took the plunge and attended my first Haven in 2014. Game.Changing. I prefer face-to-face conversations so I made some real, life-long friendships from there and my blogging game has only gotten better since then.
2. What is your favorite DIY project that you have completed?
This changes for me almost monthly depending on my mood. Right now my favorite DIY project to date is my living room…
…mostly because the change was so drastic and we took just a regular square-ish room and gave it character with built-ins, an accent wall, and hand-made and hand-painted furniture pieces.
To see more of this room check out my recent Spring Home Tour.
Tutorials and posts for things in this room include:
3. What is something useful you have learned from a blog conference?
As most people who have attended would say, there are so many! One that comes to mind is when I took the time to connect with people I came away feeling more fulfilled. Don’t be thinking about how they might be able to help your blog or your business. Make real-life connections. Talking about DIY and blogging is a common interest, sure, but I loved when I let my conversations flow, was vulnerable and opened up. These types of conversations never happened in a loud, crowded restaurant or in the middle of a class. I tried to make it a priority to attend the classes that I knew would help my business, but I also sometimes skipped a class to hang out with some friends so that we could talk without the pressure of “where are we going next and what are we doing”. Sometimes those conversations are what inspired and motivated me the most to go home and create.
Case in point: this closet makeover in my boys’ room was done 2 weeks after I came home from Haven last year, and sponsored by Home Depot, a partnership that started with connections I made at Haven.
4. What is something you love about blogging and what is something you wish you could change?
Something I love about blogging (besides the friendships/community which I mentioned before and has been a game changer for me), is the limitless opportunities and ‘relative’ control we have over our income. Now, obviously there are some limitations– it does require some money investment and time– which those aren’t always in our control. Most of us start out small and invest and reinvest little by little, taking extra time that we may have otherwise spent watching TV or some other hobby, to create good content on our blogs. Many of us work for free for a long time. However, there isn’t a glass ceiling in this job. There isn’t a person you have to compete with for a raise or a position in the company. There aren’t salary caps or cuts. There isn’t anyone who will lay you off. The more you invest (mostly time and energy), the more you can get out of blogging. However, the income isn’t always steady or guaranteed. As with any small business there are risks. And I want to clarify that there are definitely things you can’t control, especially when it comes to ad income– depending on the quarter and what ad companies are willing to invest, your monthly paycheck can drastically change quite unexpectedly. But I love the freedom of being in GENERAL control of how I want to make money and how I want to spend my time. I love that Haven Conference gives me tools every year to expand my influence, skills, and potential.
Last year I was invited out to attend a home decor and furnishings market, AmericasMart. This opportunity came about because of things I learned at Haven. I learned how to partner with brands, take excellent pictures, those pictures were featured by a magazine, that feature was noticed by a PR and marketing person working with AmericasMart, and and invitation was extended to me. This is just one cool opportunity as an example, but I have had lots.
Something that I don’t love about blogging is the fact we open ourselves up to negativity and it can sometimes be quite a challenge to respond or deal with it in the right way. Everyone has an opinion on everything. Some people online feel obligated to tell you what they don’t like about how you decorate, what you are doing/not doing, etc. Every blogger out there is nodding their head as they are reading this. Sometimes questions are asked and therefore feedback is expected and welcomed. But there are some readers who react out of jealousy or offense or entitlement and write something they would never say in real life, face-to-face. I’ve experienced relatively very little negativity compared to others I’ve spoken with. I know my instinctual response is often to get sassy right back at them. Sometimes I cave to that impulse, but every time I respond with kindness, I feel better. Even if I know it won’t make a difference for them, it made a difference for me. I do think that responding with kindness sometimes means educating them on that right way to give feedback so that it doesn’t hurt the receiver. However, tone is so tricky online, so when in doubt, “kill them with kindness” (I remember my friend Lucy saying that all the time before Selena Gomez came out with her hit hahaha).
5. What is one piece of advice you would offer a blogger–new or otherwise–who is going to Haven?
If you are new— like this is your first or second time you plan on attending or you haven’t been blogging for very long, I would say, make time to visit all the brand booths and take at least 3 “hardcore-improve-your-game” classes. Let me explain… if you don’t feel comfortable selling yourself, PRETEND you are the confident blogger that is invaluable to brands! Be friendly, ask questions, and listen to what they are looking for. They are already highly motivated to find new partners, so even if you don’t have a big following, if you have the desire and personality that would add value to their brand, they will work with you. With the classes, you will have to prioritize. Figure out ahead of time the areas in your blog that you think are struggling the most or that you feel the most ‘lost’– and take classes in those areas.
Things you can expect from brands: posing with props for pictures:
If you are not a new blogger and have plenty of experience with brands, I would say instead of going this year with a ‘what will I get out of it’ mentality, go with a ‘who can I help’ mentality. You experience is valued. It doesn’t matter if you are an official Haven Mentor or not– you enrich the Haven experience, but only if you make yourself available to others. Find someone who could benefit from something you know and have expertise in and mentor them! Give them advice. I PROMISE you will end up feeling more fulfilled if you seek opportunities to help others.
I hope you enjoyed learning a little bit about me! And if you missed, it don’t forget to get to know the first mentor sharing today, Kate from Centsational Girl!