northstory notes – February 19, 2014

Little C shoveling -

It’s been awhile since I wrote a notes wrap up and I think it’s high time as some awesome content has come my way that I want to pass on.

I know, I know. I was supposed to have some shiny and bright spring crafts ready for you and I was surprised I didn’t have my blog shut down because I didn’t auto post Easter Bunnies within seconds after the stroke of midnight of Valentine’s Day.

Easter? Spring? Please. We have like 10 feet of snow on our lawn. It’s reaching the bottom of the tree branches of the big trees on our property. The snowbanks are taller than I am.

So everyone out there in Instagram land posting their first signs of spring buds down in the States with the warm climates, don’t make me make you pay for my plane ticket down South. We’re headed back to New Orleans in April and right now I need to get beamed over there from Toronto because the prices of flights even out of Buffalo are insane.

So first things first. Apartment Therapy has their Homies on. The Homies are their Annual Blog Awards where readers and fans vote for their favourite blog of the year. They have several different categories including DIY & Home, Family, Cooking and the like. If you read this blog or know me in real life, you know it is not in my nature to ask you to vote for me even though I got nominated.

But I will ask you this. If you are a reader of AT, if you vote for me to also vote for every other blogger that you feel deserves a tip of the hat. You can vote and nominate as many people as you’d like. Nobody ever tells you that…shhhh…

Because the awards aren’t about winning at all for most of us bloggers (at least not for me) but what they do do is help lesser known bloggers get discovered by a wider audience. And that is ultimately what we blog for. To share our content, projects and words with new faces and build a better blogging community. I know this “I am just honoured to be nominated” crap is usually saved for the Oscars and nobody believes it, but in this case believe it. I have a lot of great blogging friends on that list and I would be happy to see any one of them succeed with their work.

Secondly, there’s been a bit of a shift in the air with bloggers these days. I’m hearing lots of murmurs of discouraged bloggers, people saying blogging is dead, it’s harder to succeed as a blogger if you start now and so on.

The thing is, the world is a big place. To assume that there isn’t enough space for you on the internet is insane.

Think about it.

Let’s say you do a tutorial about removing stucco ceilings in your home. And it’s relevant to you because you just moved into your first home, hated it all, tore it down and decided to write about it. And your readers who perhaps aren’t in the same phase of your life as you are, are like “Boring, where’s the new pretty mug I can colour with a sharpie and bake in my oven?” that you’ve been doing this year. You go oh well that failed, back to the mugs.

Fast forward a year, several of the people that follow your blog have just put their life savings down to buy their first home. And it’s full of stucco ceilings. Oh wait they remember, you did an awesome tutorial a year ago about how to remove stucco. The excited homeowners who have now all but forgotten about the sharpie mugs are sharing it with all their new homeowner friends who then forward it to their friends. Suddenly a post that you forgot that you wrote about starts to go viral on Pinterest or Facebook because it landed in the hands of the right audience at the right time. You all rejoice!

But in the end why did this post really go viral? Timing? Sure. Sometimes that does matter. But most of all it went viral because it was good, well written, useful content to begin with.

Listen, there may be appear to be 20 other tutorials out there about the same thing but are they really the same thing? Are the photos taken the way you did? Is the post written well? Did it make you laugh, inform you, inspire you? Did they show proper step by step easy to follow instructions? Good content never goes out of style. Good photos never go out of style. Good content is memorable.

Think about what you’ve pinned, what visual projects you remember, what words people wrote. I’ll bet even if you can’t remember the actual bloggers name, you can remember where you read it if you really needed to find the source. Or what your favourite photo post of the hundreds of “How to make playdough recipes” that are out there is. I can tell you mine.

Ask yourself why that tutorial, why that blog. I’ll bet you have your own reason.

Everyone’s lives are always in transition. What is relevant to you now may not be relevant to you in 5 years. For every person who is just having their first baby, are people who are discovering what life is like after their kids are in school full time. For every person who just finished a major kitchen renovation, are people who are only starting to research ideas for their future renovations.

We’re all reading “new” books for the first time at different times.

When I worked in TV, one of the biggest things we would strive to do was produce shows that could air in syndication with timeless topics. Why? Because that way it didn’t matter what year it was, a quality produced show that provided the viewer with good information and creative inspirations would be able to air anytime, anywhere. That’s why Holiday shows and trendy specials are one off episodes. That’s why shows on HGTV do so well because they show people how to do things – how to renovate, how to revamp furniture, what to look for when you buy a home and so on. For every person that has been there and done that, is a new generation of folks trying it out for the first time.

The catch is good content takes time to build up and write and that doesn’t happen overnight. I have tutorials from last year that I have only had people discover this year. And some of them I’ll be honest I cringe at when I read now, knowing what I could have done to write them better. I won’t even get into the lighting in the photos. But that’s part of the blogging process. You practice and become a better writer, crafter, editor, HTML wizard.

If you don’t believe me, go read Donna’s story at Funky Junk Interiors. It’s such a great refreshing read about how even someone of her blogging stature had days where she just wanted to give up.

We all have different strengths and talents. Find yours and build your story. Because I don’t believe for one second there isn’t enough room for us all.

Now if you’ll excuse me I need to go back to hunting down the remnants of IKEA’s ANNBETH fabric which I fear has been discontinued. Someone please disprove my suspicions. (It’s the striped fabric behind the SUNNAN solar lamp in this pic).

IKEA SUNNAN lamp and ANNBETH fabric

In my northstory notes:

If my project gallery had a soul mate it would the 52 Weeks Project Gallery. I just found her and am totally smitten with her work. Her vase caught my attention on Pinterest and I was sold.

Paper & Stitch has a great new column about showing you what happens behind the scenes of shooting a blog post.

While this is an older post I can’t tell you how much I adore this project from Design Sponge.

Salted. Caramel. Cupcakes.

Is it New Orleans time yet? I need this t-shirt.

My blogging mentor and friend Lynne and her family were featured in Roots – A Canadian Love Story. Go show them some love!

Speaking of honesty in blogging, I loved Kristi’s post about the Unattainable Goal of Magazine Perfection in our homes and on our blogs.

And proving that anyone can change direction with their style and home decor, Stacey takes us back before her MCM home renovation to when she was…country.


  • Reply
    Melanie @ Mailbox Journey
    February 19, 2014 at 7:59 pm

    so much “YES!” in this post.

  • Reply
    Christina @The DIY Mommy
    February 19, 2014 at 8:09 pm

    Awesome post, Alex! You’ve hit the nail on the head a few times here. Thanks for the encouraging words! 🙂

  • Reply
    February 19, 2014 at 8:21 pm

    Great post Alex! I have been feeling a little discouraged about blogging lately, but this makes me feel a bit better. When are you going to New Orleans? I am going in April too!

    • Reply
      February 20, 2014 at 12:44 pm

      Good Question. I think we’re booked mid to late April. Still no flight mind you b/c of the $$$$. When are you going?

      • Reply
        February 20, 2014 at 12:48 pm

        Awesome! Maybe we will run in to each other! I am there from April 26th – May 10th.

  • Reply
    February 19, 2014 at 9:27 pm

    You’re a wise one Obi Wan! So true. Blogging is only dead for those who stop.

    Stay warm and I promise not to post any flower pictures. YES, our pink magnolias are blooming. They’re gorgeous! But April will be here before you know it. “Le Bon Ton Roule”!

  • Reply
    February 20, 2014 at 1:13 am

    Love this post, Alex! Blogging ain’t dead to me: I’m only getting started!

    And as they say, “Comparison is the thief of joy!” I think that you should do what you love to do, and if you get an audience, rad.

    If you don’t, at least you’re loving life!

    Going to peruse some of your recommendations, lady! 🙂

  • Reply
    Victoria • Restoring our Victorian
    February 21, 2014 at 6:42 am

    I voted for you because you are my Homie. (Lord, I really could not resist.) AND because your blog is awesome!

  • Reply
    February 21, 2014 at 9:03 am

    Thanks for writing up your positive spin Alex. Since I haven’t really experienced the apparent “before” of blogging I’m not sure what all the glumness is about, but my honeymoon ain’t over yet! Maybe ignorance is bliss but it was also refreshing to read your take. Thanks!

  • Reply
    February 21, 2014 at 9:15 am

    Lots of great points Alex! BTW I met Rachel from 52 Weeks Project at AltSF last summer and we’ve become great blogger friends. She’s awesome!!

  • Reply
    Inspire Me Heather
    February 23, 2014 at 12:03 pm

    So true Alex, and THANK YOU – I’ve been feeling a little bit discouraged lately too.

  • Reply
    Thalita @ The Learner Observer
    February 25, 2014 at 2:26 pm

    Apparently discouragement is running rampant on the internet and we need to stop it! I love your blog. Like LOOOOOOVE. So please never stop blogging, k?

    • Reply
      February 25, 2014 at 2:30 pm

      I don’t know why everyone is so sad these days. It’s so weird. I felt a lot of pressure last Fall, esp where FB was concerned. And then one day I just went who cares. And the moment I stopped worrying about impressing anyone else, that’s when the pieces started to fall into place. No more hard core scheduled posts. No more is this going to be pinned. I finally found a direction that I am comfortable in and the projects I do and I welcome anyone who wants to see them. If it’s not their thing, that’s ok too. I don’t expect to be every blog for everyone. And you can’t stop blogging either. Who else am I going to sit with at BlogPodium and wonder where to place Google Ads. XO

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