Household Mag.

Brooklyn

10 Notes on Starting & Running a Blog

Motherhood, BrooklynHailey Andresen3 Comments

Last night Amy and I spoke at The Rising Tide Society about blogging, photography and the businesses Amy and I have built. While I definitely don't consider myself an expert, I've received a handful of messages asking for tips on blogging so I figured in light of us speaking I would put them together to share with you here. It's hard to believe how far we've come in the past year or so, but it goes without saying that I couldn't have built Household without Amy's photography, guidance, last minute babysitting skills or her comforting hugs. She's beyond talented and if after you're done reading this you're like, "But how do I up my photography skills?" sign up for her Documented Workshop mailing list - she will keep you posted on our next workshop! Here are my top ten suggestions on how to start a blog, run a blog and love the process. 

1. Stay true to your mission. Ask yourself this question before you get started and probably every couple weeks after. For me, it has always been to portray our lives as they are. It’s easy to get caught up with what’s popular and what you know will gain traction, and while those are areas I have to stay conscious of since this is actually a business, it’s important that Household reads as authentic as possible. This started as a journal for Owen, Zack and I to look back on and I want to remember our lives as they were - not what was trendy at the time. 


2. Identify your voice. Practice makes perfect, and while I am by no means the perfect writer, my writing has come so far from the first posts you’ll find on Household. It’s quite the process and my suggestions here is to keep writing and you will undoubtedly get better. It doesn’t mean you have to publish everything you write - I find myself jotting thoughts down on my phone while I’m on the train or chasing Owen around. Getting those thoughts out while they’re fresh makes going back and elaborating much easier. 


3. Tune into your audience. Who do you want to read your blog? Where to they engage socially? For me, my audience is 89% female, and a lot of those women are moms. Since I fit into my own demographic I know that Instagram is the best social channel for this group. Blog traffic isn’t going to happen magically, so you’ve got to drive it on your own. There are plenty of ways to do this, but to give you some perspective over 50% of my traffic comes directly from Instagram so this is a channel I put a lot of energy into. 


4. Find a photographer. A lot of bloggers are photographers themselves, and while I’m sure that comes in handy, no outside contribution has been more vital than my photographer, Amy Frances. She’s been with me since day one and is not only becoming more and more talented daily, but she’s the perfect person to check back in with as a expand the Household brand. 


5. Decide whether you want your blog to be for profit or not. While Household Mag. is a for profit blog, not every post is sponsored. There are plenty of posts, like this one that are shared knowledge, personal experiences of mine and so on. There’s nothing wrong with your blog being a personal outlet that supports your pre-existing business or simply just a journal, but if you’re going to take on sponsored posts make sure you follow the correct business practices and that you always disclose sponsored posts. 


6. Learn how to say no. Once things pick up you’ll have a lot of companies and brands reaching out to you. Always check back in with my first point and ask yourself does this support my mission? If the answer is no then you know your answer. There’s also some level of free work that everyone in this space does. I’ve referenced it before, but Amy shared this great chart a while back that’s great to look to when you find yourself torn between doing work for free and saying no. 


7. Network with the right people. This is something I’ve only gotten better at, but it can be intimidating in the beginning to reach out to people you admire for advice, or attend events that you’re not entirely sure why you got an invite to begin with, but I have to say it’s all worth it. Put yourself out there, make some friends, learn more about your field. Working on a computer from home can be a lonely profession, but it doesn’t have to be. 


8. Develop a structure and stick to it. Being consistent is important if you ask me. You don’t have to set your expectations too high, so start small with one post a week. Do a little research on the best time to publish blog posts and plan the rest of your social schedule around that (Instagram, Twitter, Pinterest and Facebook). As you progress, build on this schedule until you’ve reached the level of content you feel is best for your blog or brand.


9. Utilize free analytics. I host my website through Squarespace where I can directly access my analytics at no additional charge. This is helpful because blogging is so much harder to track engagement than Instagram is for instance. People are far less likely to comment and like your blog posts so it’s important to know how many people are seeing your hard work and what posts are driving more traffic than others. 


10. Check back in with yourself. There’s been a lot of talk this past year on staying authentic when it comes to blogging and social media in general, and enjoying these platforms. My advice is that if you’re not enjoying it stop now. Life is too short to waste your time doing something you don’t love or to feel pressure to engage with something that doesn’t give you joy. 

 

Fall with My Little Guy

Brooklyn, MotherhoodHailey Andresen2 Comments

 

Last week I swear when we went to bed it was summer and the next morning we woke up to a fall breeze. Just like that the seasons made a switch overnight. We might be going a little overboard since it's just in the sixties, but it feels nice to turn the AC off, open the windows and add an extra layer of clothing. I'm such a sucker for this season. It's in these moments that I think to myself, "Oh, you're such a mom." All I've wanted to do this past week is make pie, drink warm drinks, make our home extra cozy, and go for long walks with Owen to soak up this weather. Last winter I primarily wore Owen since he was just a newborn, and well, it just seemed easier.

Times have definitely changed. Now that he's a year old (and twenty two pounds) I find myself leaning more and more on the stroller for our outings. We cycled through a few before landing on just the right one for our family, but I have to say the Cameleon3 Elements from Bugaboo kind of knocked it out of the park right away for us. The moment I brought it down the stairs and started pushing Owen I might have said to myself out loud (like a crazy person), "This is so nice." Honestly though, it's an incredibly smooth ride for both myself and Owen and has proven to be beneficial as we stroll through the city and the park. The park is the perfect location for a stroll with my new Bugaboo Cameleon³ Elements since the designer drew inspiration from nature when designing this stroller. The Bugaboo Cameleon³ Elements features a new soft-to-the-touch herringbone fabric on the bassinet, seat and sun canopy, which has a natural-style and unrefined texture.

The small wheels swivel to help you navigate through smaller spaces (hello any NYC market or really any establishment) and the larger wheels make trekking through rougher terrain more efficient. It’s these features that allow us to move freely and allow Owen to explore the world. Bugaboo strollers are an investment and my only regret is that we didn't make the jump to Bugaboo sooner. Bugaboo strollers are designed to carry your little one from the time they're born through their toddler years. Bugaboo turns burdens into blessings through unexpected, yet useful features found in all of their strollers such as the option to have them face forward or out which is a feature we haven't had with any of our previous strollers. Owen likes to see the world so I had him out this particular day. Watching the world through his eyes is just about the greatest thing. My Cameleon³ Elements is definitely the one for me and I’m ready to take it with me everywhere!

For more information, please visit www.bugaboo.com or join the conversation on Facebook, Instagram, Twitter, or Pinterest.

An Intentional Autumn

Brooklyn, MotherhoodHailey AndresenComment

Guys, I’m finally doing it - I’m taking my first solo vacation since Owen was born! Now that he’s almost one I think it’s finally time I take a long weekend to relax and reconnect with myself (and get a full nights sleep - I think I’ve forgotten what that feels like). Zack and I we’re trying to figure out a way I could do this. A stay-cation? Maybe a solo trip to Chicago? It feels as though taking a weekend to myself is just what’s in order after going through pregnancy, labor and the first year of motherhood. But I know myself well enough, and if I were to stay in the city or even take a trip outside of New York alone I would most likely end up working. Which isn’t bad, but I’m type-A enough to know it might be wise to take a vacation with a little more structure so I don’t create the structure myself. Make sense? I started browsing the internet and came across Rebecca of A Daily Gathering’s retreat, An Intentional Autumn, in the heart of the Catskills. It’s November 10-14 if you’re looking for an escape yourself. Her words speak for themselves and I think I had my wallet in hand before I could finish reading.

“We'll be gathering at the magical Foxfire Mountain House, starting our days with yoga, then moving onto family style meals, interactive workshops, beautiful tablescapes, cozy fireside downtime, and building relationships around the table. Workshops include styling and photography, baking, autumn flower arranging, visual storytelling, weaving, and more!

An Intentional Autumn is for anyone with the desire to slow down and learn about the art of intentional living, and how to share this art to a larger audience through beautiful styling and photography. The workshop & retreat is open to singles & couples of all levels that are interested in styling, photography, intentional living, creative rejuvenation, and taking the time to develop their own creative process & get inspired.

The goal is for students to learn and explore the topics they are most interested in; Rebecca & her team will be offering one-on-one times where students can learn more about social media, building a brand, styling, using a camera, intentional living...whatever it is they are most interested in! This retreat will provide for students' needs and desires while providing a beautiful and beneficial experience for their creative journey!

Rebecca has brought together a stellar group of folks: guest instructors include William and Susan Brinson, Anna Watson Carl, Lauren and Rachel @ Sweet Root Village, Joy @ Mornings Like These, and Toni @ The Catskill Kiwi. Jewel Peach will be leading everyone in [optional] morning yoga, and Hannah and Talia Olmstead will be preparing breakfasts and lunches!

Foxfire Mountain House is a gorgeously restored inn nestled in the heart of the Catskills. You'll feel as if you've been transported to your worldly uncle's country estate with perfectly curated eclectic vintage decor, natural wonders and collections, a roaring fire in the hearth, pure linen bedding for restful nights, and lots of fresh mountain air. And if you feel like it, you can spend an evening or two out in the open air, stargazing by the bonfire.” - Rebecca Gallop

Needless to say, I booked my ticket and I’m counting down the days until November 10th. If you’re interested in taking part in this incredible retreat you can find more information at www.adailygathering.com and purchase your tickets at www.adailygathering.bigcartel.com. Get an extra special discount of $175 off when you use the code HOUSEHOLDMAG. Hope to see some of your faces there!