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Blogging Your Way 2.0

Holly Becker of Decor8 has expanded her long-running course, Blogging Your Way, with a new 2.0 class for bloggers past the beginning stages. Holly is a supportive, open, and honest teacher, and I’m proud to be joining her along with Jeanette Lunde from Fryd + Design to teach the first session this June.

I’ll be showing how I create layouts for Making it Lovely, talking about advertising and monetizing your blog, and more. The full list of course topics covered can be found here.

Join Us!

Registration has begun and you can sign up here. I also have two spots to give away! You can enter by leaving a comment below with the class’ hashtag: #byw2.

Rules: The giveaway is open to international entrants until midnight CST, May 20. One entry per person. Two winners will be chosen at random and notified on May 21. Seats are non-transferrable, and those who have already registered and paid for BYW 2.0 are ineligible. Valid only for the June e-course. Comments must include #byw2 to be eligible.

* The winners are Sarah A. and Kate S.

My Weekend

It looked a little bit like this:

And a lot like this:

(All of which I enjoyed, very much.)

How was your weekend?

What’s Next for Us

Brandon has been out of work for nearly six weeks now. He doesn’t have any prospects lined up, but unemployment benefits have finally started coming through. They won’t replace his income, of course, but along with what I’m making, we’ll be able to cover our mortgage and bills. Insurance is my biggest concern because we’re now on COBRA, which is expensive.

I know I haven’t written anything about our situation since I mentioned it upon returning from Alt Summit. It’s been stressful, to be honest, and easier to not dwell on. Our roles, our daily routines, and our financial outlook all changed overnight, and we’re all (the kids, too) still adjusting.

I’ve had an assistant since October, Valerie, coming three days a week for six hours a day. She had been helping with some of the administrative blog work (setting up Facebook giveaways and responding to advertising inquiries), but she also helped me a lot with Eleanor and August. Now, with Brandon home, we need her less (and it was suddenly hard to pay someone for 18 hours a week). Valerie has been great, and happily flexible in regards to hours, so she’s staying on board but mostly working from home.

The kids have benefitted from more time with their daddy, but even though that’s a good thing, it has still been an adjustment. Brandon and I have different parenting styles in some ways. Eleanor and August do well with routines – a fairly predictable structure to their day – and things have shifted all of a sudden. They’re fine (we all are), but it’s something I think about. I’m also working more, and for longer stretches during the day, and my work/life balance feels out of whack.

I had an interview a couple of weeks ago for a copywriting position with a great Chicago-based company. I hadn’t sought it out, but if I were looking for a 9-5 job, it’s exactly the kind of place I’d want to be. Had Brandon still been working, I probably wouldn’t have even considered the opportunity, but with him home it was something that needed to be explored. Ultimately, after a lot of thought, I passed on the position. I’ve worked for years to create this job, this crazy job of being a “professional blogger” for myself that lets me work on the things I love. I started blogging before I had children, but now working from home and being able to spend time with them is something that I wouldn’t give up unless it were truly necessary. If I need to, I could start up my shop again or take on web design work to make more money. Had I taken the job offer, I would have had to cut back on the blog, and that’s not something I want to do. I am more committed than ever to Making it Lovely.

I’m not able to be the sole breadwinner in the family. Not yet, anyway… but things are going well. I have my writing jobs at Family Style on Babble and at My Colortopia. I accept advertising on Making it Lovely directly for small businesses (e.g. Etsy shops), and through Federated Media for larger companies. I also work with sponsors. In fact, I’ll be heading out to San Francisco on Thursday for business. I’ll be lining up new sponsored content for the blog, and also pitching some new ideas with my team at FM.

Sponsorships are a tricky subject for some, I know. It’s something that I’ve written about before, and I’ve done a lot of sponsored content since then. There was one campaign in particular that I don’t feel was executed well, but it’s something that I’ve learned from, and I feel good about how I’m applying those lessons as I move forward. I am proud of the standards I hold myself accountable to, and proud of the partnerships I’ve worked on.

Sometimes a brand’s sponsorship can be looked at as a commercial at the beginning or end of a post, similar to the way you may see a show “brought to you by XYZ.” In those cases, I’m not required to (or even asked to) write about the brand. The topic may be tangentially related, but the post is then completely up to me. The other type of sponsorships that I’m interested in facilitating are more closely tied to the brand involved, but they would allow for some fun projects. I’d love to do more home makeovers for readers (free of charge to the recipient), but for that to happen, we need a budget. I have other ideas in the works as well, and I’ll be doing my best to make them a reality.

We still have a lot of thinking to do. As I mentioned, Brandon is now on unemployment, and it is a lifeboat for us. Our way forward is unclear right now though. He may get another steady job, and life will return to what we knew as normal for all these years. There is a fantastic local store up for sale and we considered buying it, but unfortunately, the details didn’t fall into place for us.

We’ve talked about reopening Pink Loves Brown, with Brandon running it, or having him contribute more heavily to Making it Lovely. There are benefits to both, but clear drawbacks and concerns as well. If we pursue those options, we would lose the financial stability we used to have, and at the same time, we would need to secure independent health insurance. We would also no longer be able (in good conscience) to receive unemployment benefits, and that would be a further difficulty for us right now.

I do want to thank you all for the support you’ve shown us. Especially as we figure out our direction in the wake of Brandon’s job loss, but before that, too. I want you to know that it’s greatly appreciated. I’m lucky, even in the more difficult times, to have such an amazing community, and to have been able to craft this life with my family.

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