As I mentioned yesterday, there are several topics to not discuss in polite company: money, politics, and your stance on wood finishes. Since I have already, at various points, touched on the other two, why not go three for three and talk about finances?
I’ve held a job, self-employed or otherwise, since I was sixteen. I have been an amusement park ride-operator, a handy(wo)man, a telephone surveyor, a face painter, a babysitter, a record store clerk, a muralist, a bookseller, a web designer, a stationer, and a blogger. Most of those overlapped. For instance, I worked at the bookstore while also face painting for the village events in Oak Park, the combination of which somehow led to my being awarded Employee of the Year for Downtown Oak Park! I didn’t even know that was a possibility, but I gave a brief, awkward acceptance speech at the end of a TIF meeting, and was presented with a plaque. (It used to hang in our apartment bathroom, because that’s a pretty funny thing to see when you visit the loo.)
I’m sure you can tell from my résumé of odd jobs (literally) that I have been raking it in!
Brandon and I were married in 2004. I started my stationery shop in 2005, and I began offering web design in 2006. Making it Lovely began in 2007, and I had intended for it to be a complement to the shop and design business, but mostly just a fun place to chronicle what we were doing as we moved into our first house together. Over time, the blog became successful, and I was able to earn some advertising revenue. Each year, the balance of our finances changed a little (2008 took a hit from doing the National Stationery Show — ouch), but Brandon’s job was always the anchor.
He and I had dreamed of the day he would be able to quit. Steadily, each year, we grew a little closer. Then, in January 2012, we were pushed over the cliff when he lost his job. We weren’t ready to make that leap, and we scrambled for a while. Slowly though, I began to find my footing with the blog and its potential to support us, and in September 2012, I wrote about our decision for Brandon to stay home and watch the kids while I worked full-time on the blog.
Though our income is now fully funded by Making it Lovely, I have tried to diversify the sources as much as possible. Keep reading for a breakdown of how this blog supported us in 2012.
The blog, that is. Here’s a look at what I’ve shared over the last six years here on Making it Lovely.
- January 2007 – Brandon and I bought our first house, and I started this blog.
- April 2007 – We ripped out carpet and laid new bamboo flooring, finishing our bedroom.
- June 2007 – Hello, home library.
- August 2007 – We took on a complete reno (everything except the original wood floor) and finished our DIY kitchen remodel, coming in at under $11,000.
- September 2007 – Apartment Therapy House Tour! We had only lived in the house for four months when it was photographed.
- March 2008 – I put together my first style post. I still use the same wallet every day that I hesitated dropping so much cash on back then, and I still love it.
- April 2008 – The blog broke 100,000 monthly page views for the first time.
- August 2008 – Our library was featured in Home Magazine. Brandon was proud because the library/landing was his idea.
- October 2008 – I created a super-cute studio for my shop, using one of our home’s bedrooms.
- October 2008 – A pregnancy announcement!
- November 2008 – My stationery shop, Pink Loves Brown, was voted #1 in Venus magazine’s Hottt List. I remember thinking there was no way I was cool enough for that honor. (I still can’t believe it.)
- December 2008 – I wallpapered the dining room — not an easy job. Even less so while pregnant.
- March 2009 – Nesting instincts made me make the bedroom very white.
- April 2009 – The blog hit 250,000 monthly page views.
- April 2009 – I painted a rug on our front porch while 9 months pregnant because I had the opportunity to participate in a contest for Better Homes and Gardens, and I didn’t want to say no. I was cold and extremely uncomfortable, but I loved the way it turned out.
- April 2009 – My Periodic Table of Sentiments cards were featured in ReadyMade magazine, but then I had to close up shop for my maternity leave about a week after the issue came out.
- April 2009 – Eleanor was born.
- May 2009 – My home and blog were featured in the Chicago Tribune Magazine, and my name was even mentioned on cover (along w/ Simon Doonan’s!). My extended family finally sort of understood what I did all day.
- May 2009 – I started a monthly series of photos of Eleanor.
- June 2009 – I finished Eleanor’s nursery. (She slept in a bassinet in our room for the first few months.)
- June 2009 – We won the Better Homes and Gardens contest!
- October 2009 – I reopened my shop after a six month leave.
- December 2009 – Making it Lovely was named one of the World’s Best Design Blogs. Amazing.
- January 2010 – I had my first speaking engagement! I was on the very first panel at the very first Alt Summit.
- March 2010 – I published my 30 Before Thirty list. I accomplished a lot over the next six months!
- June 2010 – I was sick of the white bedroom. Where was the color? Where was all the pattern? Boom, there it is. (You’d think I could have learned a lesson there about too much white…)
- August 2010 – Another pregnancy announcement!
- August 2010 – I contemplated new dining room chairs, and mentioned my intent to paint the wood trim in my house. People freaked out.
- September 2010 – I explained why I was painting the trim. People freaked out.
- November 2010 – I showed photos of the painted trim. Guess what? People freaked out. (I get it, I get it. It’s a controversial topic! Things to not discuss in polite company: money, politics, and your stance on wood finishes.)
- January 2011 – The blog received over 500,000 page views in a month for the first time.
- February 2011 – I closed up shop for my second maternity leave. It’s still closed (“on leave”), nearly two years later.
- February 2011 – August was born.
- March 2011 – We finished construction the basement remodel. (There were workers in the house when I left for the hospital to have August.)
- March 2011 – August had his first monthly photo.
- April 2011 – I finally learned to use my camera in manual mode!
- April 2011 – I finished the basement bathroom and laundry room.
- April 2011 – Eleanor had her last monthly photo.
- May 2011 – Eleanor got a new “big girl” bedroom.
- June 2011 – I finished August’s nursery. (Like Eleanor, he slept in our bedroom for the first few months.)
- November 2011 – I published my Lovely Life List.
- November 2011 – I completed my first makeover for a reader: Kathryn’s bedroom.
- December 2011 – I completed my biggest little project yet, a Dollhouse, made lovely.
- January 2012 – Brandon lost his job and began searching for a new one.
- February 2012 – I finally painted the trim in the living room, almost finishing it throughout the house. I think people were about done freaking out by that point.
- May 2012 – I gave my first keynote speech! (Turns out this introvert really likes public speaking, and giving a keynote was on my Lovely Life List.)
- July 2012 – I updated the bedroom again, this time making it gray and coral, but all it took was some new bedding and a huge print from downstairs.
- August 2012 – I flew to New York to do three apartment makeovers in three days for a small video series.
- September 2012 – Brandon officially became a stay-at-home-dad, and I became the sole breadwinner. It hasn’t been easy, but I’m so thankful to have been able to make it work.
- October 2012 – I met and interviewed my idol, Martha Stewart.
- November 2012 – Hey, I finally got around to getting some new dining room chairs.
- January 2013 – I painted the kitchen white, and I couldn’t even blame it on pregnancy hormones this time. Not loving it so far, but we’ll see how it all turns out (or doesn’t).
Thank you all for following along, whether you’re brand new here or have been reading since the beginning. I’m fortunate to have such lovely readers — truly.