“So, What Do You Do?”
That’s the question most stay-at-home moms dread. In the past, I used to be able to say “I raise money to give children a quality education,” “I help bring the arts to under-served communities,” or “I produce massive city-wide free events for families.” Even though I’ve been a family travel blogger for the past 2 years, I never felt comfortable answering that way. I think that’s primarily because blogging from home seems like I’m blogging for fun rather than blogging full time.
Earlier this year, I was at a play date with my friend, who is a working mom. Her daughter asked me the dreaded question, “So, what do you do?” I told her that it’s my job to take care of my boys and go on fun play dates, like that one. But, then my friend jumped in and said, “Ms. Marcie is an awesome travel blogger and she helps families go on fun vacations like Disneyland and Hawaii.” That’s when it really hit me.
I blog at all hours of the day (and night.) My free time is spent learning about SEO and new plugins and trying to wrap my head around the ever-changing Facebook and Instagram algorithms. I make money through my blog with sponsored content and affiliate links. And I produce quality content for a lot of cool brands. I definitely put in the hours. Just because I enjoy what I do doesn’t make it less of a job. So, why didn’t I consider myself a professional blogger?
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LET ME SET THE SCENE:
A few months ago, I was working on a blog post from our kitchen table. My kids were watching Creative Galaxy on Amazon while simultaneously jumping off the couch onto a crib mattress, that had been set aside to list on our local Buy Nothing group. As I looked up from my computer to assess the safety, I saw some dishes piling up on the counter. So, I got up to put them in the dishwasher, which was full. Then, I started unloading the dishwasher when my youngest came up asking for milk. I stopped and filled up his sippy cup. That’s when I noticed the pile of pajamas on the floor that should have been put in the hamper. Of course, I picked them up and headed upstairs to put them in the laundry.
That’s when I remembered that I needed to charge my Sony mirrorless camera to take photos for my blog post. So, I looked all over our master bedroom to figure out where I stashed the camera. It was tucked in a tote bag from our last weekend getaway. Then I was on the hunt for the charging cable. So, I came back downstairs and went through my husband’s office and all his power cords until I found it.
As I looked for an empty outlet to charge my camera, my oldest asked me if we could make the project he saw in Creative Galaxy and wanted to know what art supplies we had. I told him exactly where to find our tub of craft supplies and sent him on his way. Meanwhile, the only outlet I had that was out of my toddler’s reach was on the kitchen counter. I quickly plugged everything in, but the only place to put my camera was on our Boon drying rack.
With everything settled, I finally sat down to continue my blog post. At this point, I’d lost my train of thought and had to go through my notes again. Just when I started writing again, my preschooler asked me to “help” him look for the art supplies and I just lost it.
I thought to myself, “No wonder I feel so unproductive every day!”
Why I Needed a Home Office When Blogging from Home
I told you about this scenario because it was happening on an almost daily basis. I was tired of feeling like I wasn’t accomplishing anything. And I didn’t like being so unfocused. Blogging from home can be a challenge.
SEE MYSELF AS A SMALL BUSINESS OWNER
I just celebrated my 2nd blogversary as a blogging mama and my goal this year is to focus on monetizing and growing my blog audience. In order to do that, I need to produce quality content, invest in a few key products, and work within a tight budget.
BE MORE PRODUCTIVE
While I don’t enjoy housework in the least bit, I get so distracted by messes. I end up going from one task to another with the belief that I’m multitasking successfully. However, I end up having to redo most things. Especially laundry. I’m great about washing clothes, but rarely remember to move them into the dryer. I also get really distracted by TV. Even when it’s children’s programming.
CAN CLOSE THE DOOR
We live in an amazing house with lots of space, but most of them are open. That means I can hear everything that goes on in the house. And I can see all the messes and chores that need to be done. When I stopped to think about my main reason for needing a home office, it kept coming back to having the option to close a door. I needed a place where I could shut out all the distractions and focus on my work.
I’m a very organized disorganized person. I keep things in piles, but I usually know where those piles are located and what’s in each pile. However, I live with people who tend to move my items from pile to pile. The biggest culprit is my toddler, who likes to stash things in the strangest places.
I do product reviews occasionally, and I need a safe place to store those products until I’m ready to write about them or take photos. Plus a place to keep my business cards and swag from blogging conferences,
How I Created My Blog Office
After walking around our entire house trying to figure out the ultimate place, we decided to swap around a lot of rooms. We turned our loft into a play room, the play room into my husband’s office, his office into my preschooler’s bedroom, his bedroom became my toddler’s bedroom, and I took over the nursery.
What’s really cool about this swap is that my son’s nursery already had a travel theme. It was actually the first room we decorated when we moved into the house. I’ve been in love with this room since we created it and it’s been my happy place. It’s kind of the perfect place to really launch my blog.
The first thing I ordered was a desk. I looked for one that was pretty narrow because I really wanted a clean surface to work. I knew if I used a large desk, I would start piling things on it and it would become a stressful place. So, I found a small writing desk that was perfect! It has 2 small drawers where I can keep some pens, business cards, and contracts I’m working on.
CUTE OFFICE CHAIR
Finding a cute office chair was the second thing on the priority list. I’d seen photos of other bloggers’ offices and they always looked so Instagram-worthy. Part of that is that many of the office chairs didn’t look like boring, typical office chairs. When I found this blue upholstered chair, I knew I hit the jackpot! I read all the reviews and it’s so elegant, yet comfortable.
CAMERA EQUIPMENT STORAGE
The next area I need to create was somewhere to keep all my camera gear. Mostly the camera itself, my scarf strap, the memory cards, charging cable, an extra lens, and camera bag. Now, I don’t really have a lot of camera stuff, but I need it to be in a designated spot. We purchased this storage shelf a few years ago to store baby stuff. Now that we don’t need it, I was able to repurpose it.
PLACE FOR PRODUCTS
As I mentioned before, sometimes brands send me products to use in my blog posts or sponsored campaigns. I don’t want to lose these! So, I’ve been able to put them on the same shelving unit as the camera equipment.
So, we moved into our house more than 2 years ago, however we haven’t spent much time decorating. But, I love decorated spaces! Since this room already had travel-themed decorations, I was able to reuse a lot. The main thing is I kept the vintage-inspired suitcase shelves from PB Teen! And I kept the art prints from Rifle Paper Co because they remind me of snuggling with my baby.
One of the coolest things I added to my blogger office is this custom hand-lettered map from Mia Nicole Design Co. I met Mia at Create + Cultivate in Seattle last year and she makes the most adorable travel-themed decor. Since our whole life as a family has been an adventure, I really wanted to commemorate that.
When we did KonMari on our closet last year, our consultant suggested I display my Minnie Mouse ears from Disneyland. I hadn’t thought of that before. So, I decided to hang them up in my home office since I love blogging about our Disney trips.
Something that was really important to me was to brand my home office. I wanted to enter my blog office and feel like I was a small business owner. The main thing I did was to create this metal sign from Shutterfly using my blog logo. I wanted it to be large enough to make a statement, but not massively large. Basically, I needed something tangible that reminded me that I’m a successful family travel blogger and it’s okay to focus on that.
I also ordered a custom mug from Shutterfly using my blog logo. One of my main “self-care” actions is to always drink my coffee when it’s hot. Saturday morning is my main blogging time, so I wake up early, fill this mug up with hot coffee and retreat to my blogging office. This mug makes me feel like I’m in charge, because I AM!
Now, while my ultimate goal was to have a spot where they kids wouldn’t come in and mess it all up, I had to be realistic. I’m a stay-at-home mom with a preschooler and toddler. There are times where I’m finishing something up in my office and they come in to hang out for a few minutes.
That’s why we left this rocking chair in my office. The kids love to climb in it and rock. Or twirl it around. And my husband has somewhere to sit while I’m picking his brain about a trip we took or planning our next adventure.
How YOU Can Create Your Dream Blog Office on a Budget
- Figure out your needs. Do you want a place you can work while watching your kids? Do you want daylight, or will you mostly be working at night? Are you needing a lot of space? Do you want to hang up white boards?
- Find a spot. Think creatively as you search your house. Can you put a desk in a large closet? Can you section off part of the dining room? Do you really use that guest bedroom?
- Look around your house. Chances are, you probably have some items you can repurpose. Maybe you have an extra table or shelf that is exactly what you are looking for. And don’t forget to collect pens, paper, envelopes, and any other office supplies you might want to have on hand.
- Use social media. See if your neighborhood has a Buy Nothing group on Facebook. Or post something on NextDoor. Make sure people know that you are creating a home office and are in need of specific items. You never know what you might find.
- Check out discount stores. HomeGoods has a really extensive home office section with adorable decor fit for every #girlboss. And your local dollar store might have what you are looking for.
- Try to DIY. If you want to make massive changes to a room, find some DIY blogs to see if you can do some of it yourself.
Thanks to Mia Nicole Design Co., Shutterfly, PB Teen, and Rifle Paper Co for the items featured in this post. All opinions are my own.