As I mentioned in our weekly newsletter yesterday, Christy and I have gone back and forth for several days discussing what we should share this week. We don’t take the events that happened in Washington DC last week lightly. We obviously have thoughts, opinions, and are grieving the state of our country just like everyone else is.
For those of you who don’t get our newsletter, here is what we shared yesterday:
Our hope is to continue to be a place of distraction from the hard things going on right now. If there is anything that the last year taught us it is that our homes are our safe places and creating a place of refuge is important. As always we want our blog to be a place of light, hope and joy. Personally, no matter what transpires, Christy and I both will continue to stand on our faith as we know that as Christians while we live in this world, we are not of it.
So that being said, rather than talk about decorating, home projects or shopping finds today, I thought I’d take a look back at the blogging journey Christy and I have been on for the last ten years that has put us in the place to even be saying to each other, what do we say here, about it all?
I can say with certainty for me (and probably Christy as well) that neither of us really ever set out to be a “blogger” much less an “influencer” (both are words I totally hate). I am pretty sure neither of us would jump into doing it now even with all the perks and benefits, and there have been plenty. We adore the great people we’ve gotten to know here through this site (you, our readers, and our other blogger friends) over the years. I actually think we’re both pretty private people so it’s kind of ironic that anyone can see into our kitchen drawers, bathrooms or closets via our blog post archives!
We started writing this blog in 2010. At that time there was no Pinterest, Instagram hadn’t caught on, and Facebook was just sort of a fun place to check out what your high school friends were up to. You can read the whole story about how we started and more about us HERE. Our site was a creative outlet and blogging was a fun way for stay at home moms with small kids to stay in touch and share projects.
For me personally, the website/blog was started to be an extension of my event/design business, but things changed when my husband was transferred to Virginia Beach. There I started writing more posts about the home projects in our brand-new house as I had closed my event design business when we moved. That was about the time Pinterest started taking off and people started finding inspiration for all sorts of things from parties to recipes to paint colors. About the same time Christy had moved to Tennessee and bought a home and was knee deep in fixing up so it just worked out that we kept sharing what we were up to.
What was once just a fun, easy community of people who liked sharing their home decor (mostly with each other) has exploded into an industry the last decade. We used to have ‘link parties’ where we’d all share our bedrooms, or Christmas decor, mostly for the purpose of seeing what each other was creating. It was fun and there was a sense of community among bloggers. It was more of a hobby than a business for those first few years. At the time we made things out of burlap, got creative with inexpensive drop cloths, painted furniture and made printables more than we churned out entire room makeovers and ‘reveals’ as is the norm now.
As Pinterest gained traction and people began searching google for projects, our readership climbed. Brands started approaching us to work with them, and the Haven conference started where home decor bloggers could meet with brands and meet each other in person (those events were so fun!).
Christy and I found ourselves growing an online business. Each for our own reasons, her being a military spouse facing frequent relocations and for me, with an ongoing health challenge, this blog was a perfect way to make a small living without holding down a full-time job. I truly mean it when I say this space has been a huge blessing in my life for the last ten years, plus I get to work with a friend who happens to share eerily similar taste!
We have had great sponsorships, taken trips, worked with well-known brands (like HomeGoods, Balsam Hill, Home Depot, Rustoleum, and our longest partner, HomeRight–now the Wagner Company), and been featured in national magazines. It is really kind of crazy that we’ve done so many projects and been able to stretch ourselves creatively for all these years. I also believe that openly sharing the harder things we’ve faced (again for Christy, aspects of military life and for me, a long health battle with lyme disease) has benefited others from a wider perspective than we maybe we will ever realize.
This journey has been more of a slow evolution than sudden change, but in looking back over the last few years, things are very different in the blogging/influencer landscape now. I think the primary event I can identify is the change that came with social media.
Our regular readers know that I (Amy) handle our Instagram account and Christy handles our Facebook page. We have two Pinterest accounts, but only one of them (Christy’s ) can be verified by Pinterest so that is kind of our primary account. About five years ago (?), Instagram suddenly seemed to explode with home decor feeds. Scrolling through was easy and fun, you could see pretty rooms in all styles, and there was home decor inspiration everywhere. Getting started on Instagram was easier than starting a blog, but eventually many of the popular Instagram decor feeds also wound up starting blogs, too, as it helps gain sponsorships. The home decor blogging world grew exponentially at that point, and affiliate income (paid commissions from product links) became a significant income source and rooms got more and more beautiful–and some would even say, unrealistic.
This social media boom wasn’t a bad thing by any means; we have been able to establish relationships through social media with other bloggers through chats and DM’s and networking pods throughout the years and it gave us an even broader reach. Social media also gives readers a place to follow along and interact in addition to the blog. I would think that a portion of our Instagram followers (and probably Facebook too) have never visited this website but just engage with us on those forums. For the most part growing our social media presence has been a fun experience, minus the (thankfully rare) mean-spirited comments that occasionally happen, but we’ve learned to shake those off.
Ironically, I don’t actually have a personal Instagram and only very rarely stop by my personal Facebook page (if at all right now). For me, social media, mainly in managing our Instagram account, has been a huge part of my life but only in its role to support this endeavor. For the most part, when I scroll on Instagram I only see pretty rooms, gardens and the occasional uplifting quote or verse. I have carefully cultivated our feed so that what I see relates only to our blog content, but as we’ve all seen this year, the lines have become very blurred as to what to share when you suddenly find yourself with a platform to say something to a large group of people.
Obviously, last week Christy and I were struggling with what we should say on the blog as we usually post on Fridays. We were asking, how do we just go on Instagram and share a pretty room when this country is facing chaos? I think it made us stop and think about how we got to the place that we had to figure this out, though as we’ve said many times, we know you don’t come here for our political commentary! However, I saw “influencers” getting berated on social media because they weren’t taking a stand in as much as those who did share a stance got bombarded by opposing views. It seemed like a no-win situation, so we stayed quiet and prayed and contemplated what our next steps would be.
“Where words are many, sin is not absent, but he who holds his tongue is wise.” Proverbs 10:19
We have asked ourselves plenty of hard questions over the last few days, like are we at a place in the world and our lives where we want to even continue to write blog posts about home decor? This year has brought challenges we could never have foreseen in 2010, and Christy is now living in a different country with a significant lockdown. Plus, we asked ourselves— is it a bit tone deaf to continue to just talk about normal, lightweight things right now? Always, always the most important question we contemplated was what does Jesus want us to do with this “platform”?
I thought I’d share all that just so you know what we are thinking about. We continue to feel like we were set on a path to be a distraction from the dark events in the world, and will continue to do our best to do just that. All any of us can do right now is love our families and friends (despite their beliefs in some cases!) and truly to keep our eyes focused on Him. God is in control yesterday, today and will be tomorrow.
So, after that look back we will say that, for the time being, we’ll be moving forward a little more slowly but still thoughtfully, prayerfully and in hopes that we’ll continue to get through these hard times together.
Lezlie Pipes says
Amy and Christy,
I’ve followed your blog for almost as long has you’ve been blogging. I appreciate your content and look forward to it regularly. Your grace and intentional sharing are exactly what I need. None of us can be all things to all people. I do think if you take a moment and acknowledge, like you did today, that something is not right such as political chaos, environmental chaos (such as weather related events) or other such events of great magnitude that your readers understand and will continue to support you. If people don’t appreciate your content then that is on them. If you try to make all of us happy all of the time then your focus and the intent of your sharing will get diluted and lost. I hope this makes sense and that you continue with your sharing. It really brightens my day and weeks. If you post about a cute table table setting it doesn’t mean that I think you’ve forgotten a pandemic is going on. You have given me ideas on how to entertain myself in spite of the pandemic. So thank you and keep posting.