Ep. 40: Real Talk on Being Professional Bloggers

In this week’s podcast, we are diving deep into all of the questions we have gotten about blogging and have an open and honest conversation about what it takes. For the first time, we’re also discussing why, when and how Chris quit his job, and the lessons we have learned about separating criticism from critique. We share a few tips on how we have grown our following organically. We also answer some tough questions you’ve asked, like “Do you feel like you’re at the mercy of your readers to survive financially?” and “Is there room in the field to start a blog today?” We’re holding nothing back and can’t wait to hear your thoughts on this week’s episode.

You can stream the episode right here:

OR listen to the latest episodes on: iTunes, GooglePlayStitcher.

In this episode, you will hear us refer to a few things, including:

• Our new gallery wall in the dining room, which wasn’t 100% well received in the comments of the original post, but we’re so happy with the overall response that it got and how so many of you have ordered the frames or DIYed something similar in your own home already! (Keep sending us pictures and tagging us on Instagram–we love to see!)

Frames | Table | Molded Chairs | Windsor Chair | Pocket Door

• One of our favorite “blogging voices” is Daniel Kanter from ManhattanNest.com. He writes just like he talks and it’s so fun to read.

• Here’s the hilarious photo of the basketball drawing I did in my first drawing class as an art major where I thought I would get all the praise, but actually just learned a valuable lesson on constructive criticism vs. plain criticism.

• We refer to tips outlined in this post we did last year on how we grew our Instagram following rapidly and organically. I recently ordered this Ligntning to SD Camera Card reader so I can plug my SD card directly into my phone, which makes taking high quality photos with my actual camera for Instagram even faster.

Can’t Get You Outta My Mind Segment

• Chris has been mastering the art of fermented bread for health reasons, but it tastes amazing and we’re all hooked!

He is learning through this book, which he couldn’t love more. And after several weeks of trial and error, has found his favorite supplemental tools to use, which are:

This Lodge Cast Iron Dutch Oven
Round Proofing Basket
Long Proofing Basket
Baker’s Couche
Canning Jar (for storing the sourdough starter)
Flexible Bowl Scraper
Bench Scraper
Baking Parchment

• Preston took the plunge and upgraded to an iPhone7 plus and is never looking back (well, probably until the next upgrade is available).

• The computer that I bragged about only having to replace the battery for just last episode, gave up the ghost. My logic board crashed, and although I was able to get everything off of it, it still required me getting a new computer. We contemplated ordering another one through this eBay store, where we have ordered a few fantastic refurbished laptops from in the past at a screaming deal (and encouraged our family and friends to do the same), but our local store gave us a big discount on a new, in box one since they had just announced the new MacBook models that same day. (The touch bar is very fancy!)

This Episode is sponsored by BrooklinenThey sent us their Luxe Hardcore Sheet Bundle with a Window Pane Sheet and their Bedford Smoke Stripe Duvet cover back in April and we could not be happier. Our listeners get $20 off PLUS Free Shipping with code CLJ at checkout! 

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50 Comments

  • Reply June 23, 2017

    Courtney Simmer

    I have a super random question…. Chris mentioned that he has had a new grill in the garage waiting to build the outdoor cooking area. What grill did you guys end up going with?

    • Reply June 23, 2017

      Chris

      We went with Saber, which is the high-end sister brand for Charbroil.

  • Reply June 23, 2017

    Katie

    I listen to your podcast regularly. To be honest I wasn’t too excited to listen to this week’s podcast since I have no interest in becoming a blogger, but I listened anyway because I enjoy listening to you guys. Anyway, thank you for opening my view point as a reader. I have been a consumer reader and this episode helped me be more aware of how this can weight on you the writer. I never comment on anything on the internet (ever) and it must be hard to not receive feedback on things that we appreciate or find helpful, so thank you for all the inspiration and advice you give to us readers! You are appreciated!

  • Reply June 23, 2017

    Beth Light

    This podcast totally resonated with me! I’m a new blogger (blogging for about a year) and have grown my IG organically over the last 2 years. Beyond blogging I work as a pediatric nursing professor and it’s been hard to take the leap to full-time blogging because I love my teaching job and taking care of pediatric patients. However, I would love to spend more time with my 2 girls and I know blogging full-time would be a great option for our family. When Chris mentioned wanting to spend more quality time with your girls in the podcast I totally could relate.Thank you for your transparency and sharing your perspective. I need to believe in myself and put both feet forward! We are about to take on a full home reno project – a 1970’s fixer upper and I can’t wait to document the journey. Would love to connect and collaborate with you someday! I always find inspiration via your blog, IG, and through your podcasts :)

  • Reply June 22, 2017

    Diana

    Hi Chris and Julia! Thank you for the transparency!!! I’ve been a silent reader and listener for awhile now but after this podcast…I will leave comments appreciation and support to you and all the other bloggers i follow. I’ve been inspired by your DIY projects for quite some time now and in the progress making our old house a new home to us! My husband and I are taking on projects ourselves, while working full time jobs and raising two young boys. We’re the HAPPIEST when creating and feel greatly motivated by your story. I’ve been teetering with the idea of blogging, more of a lifestyle and mostly documenting our fixxer while parenting but “scared” to put myself out there and question if there’s too much of this and whether anyone will read besides my mom and sister :) I have a blog name and purchased the domain name…and just feel vulnerable going live! Thank you for nudging me with your podcast today, it was what I needed. Oh and seriously, the idea that we too can make our own sourdough bread, that would be a life changer for my sourdough bread eating tribe! Thanks again!

  • Thanks for this podcast. I understand your trepidation about opening up in this way, but I feel like this is what makes you and Chris one of my favourite blogs–it’s part of your brand! I’m at a very similar point to Chris (although not planning on making the leap to professional blogger), and his comments at the start of the podcast about figuring out what was most important to him really, really, really resonated with me, and were very helpful. Thank you for the encouragement. The care and dedication that you put into the blog and connecting with your readers and building followers is obvious. I’m impressed by your work ethic and focus. Keep up the good work.

  • Reply June 21, 2017

    Emily

    DYING to know who your mentor was!

  • Reply June 21, 2017

    Dallasgirl

    Hi loved the podcast, especially hearing about blogging as a profession which seems to be a bit like the Masonic Lodge that everyone wonders about but no Masons will remove the veil of secrecy!

    I like your blog because you take the time to figure stuff home stuff out that I don’t know how to do and then you break it down for me. Especially that you keep an eye on the budget, like the IKEA kitchen cabinets which I have always wanted to try but didn’t have the nerve to do. Shopping your sources is awesome because you do the research and I reap the benefits. That being said, it really makes no difference to me if this is your day job or not. It takes a lot of time to build, make, decorate and then document your DIY’s and I am surfing off the waves of your hard work. So if you have made this your full-time business, more power to you! I admire that you are willing to take the risk to make your dreams happen. Go forth and prosper my friends!

  • Reply June 21, 2017

    Sara Conley

    First of all, I want to say how much I appreciate you both opening yourselves up (even more than you already do) with this particular episode on your blogging journey. However; I did want to touch on a few things you mentioned regarding blog readers. I feel very protective of my favorite bloggers and it really bothers me when readers are so incredibly critical. I know you two have been doing this whole blog thing for many years and I can only imagine you have to have some thick skin to deal with some of the comments that come your way so I applaud you for doing that on a daily basis.

    In regards to comments and how a certain post is being perceived, I have gotten the impression over the past few years that bloggers are too busy to answer or respond to comments submitted so I’ve pretty much stopped. I know you can’t speak for everyone, but am I wrong? Or is there some truth to this?

    And regarding the whole not relatable issue, do people have to have the same exact life style to be able to read a blog? This is so insane to me!! No I cannot relate to you two in many ways. But I always get something out of your blog posts and regardless if I can tackle a similar project or not, it still gives me a TON of inspiration. I’m honestly boggled by how people need to fee relatable to someone or something in order to enjoy the content.

    Please just keep doing what you’re doing and know you will never be able to please all parties. Kudos Chris and Julia for taking the leap and going all in with your blog. I honestly hope it works out for the best and you both continue to inspire us along the way. Thanks guys!

    Sara

  • Reply June 21, 2017

    Kelli

    I love listening to your podcast and especially enjoyed this episode. I found your advice very relatable and applicable for all sorts of business ventures, not just blogging. I just recently left a corporate job to go out on my own for a variety of the same reasons that Chris mentioned (e.g., family). So much of what you said really hit home for me, so thank you! It’s so interesting to hear what happens behind the scenes and to hear how other people process through decisions. Keep doing what you’re doing and thanks!

  • Reply June 20, 2017

    Whitney

    Love what you said about writing in your own voice. In my opinion this is what makes a blog go from a once a month perusal to a regular read. My favorite home renovation/decor blogs ( in addition to CLJ of course) are Manhattan nest and the diy diva for exactly this reason. Neither Daniel or Kit are super regular posters but I love their voice! Wondering if there are any other blogs that anyone Might specifically recommend for their voice?
    I also have to say ignore all the Debbie Downers! You guys are doing a fantastic job! I hope you can continue blogging as much for yourselves as for the rest of us. I think that’s what makes you most relatable for me – Seeing your personal journey ( frustrations, joys, etc.). If I just wanted pretty before/ afters I’d go to Pinterest instead.

  • Reply June 20, 2017

    Angie

    Just started this episode but wanted to quickly give you my secret heartburn trick~ when I was pregnant I was MISERABLE with heartburn until my cousin taught me this~ Spoonful of baking soda (maybe a Tbsp or so) in a glass of water. Stir it. Chug it. Wait for GIANT belch…All better. Tastes gross but I did it every night before bed & it worked better for me than the prescription stuff! Try it! Better 10 seconds of nasty taste than a sleepless night because every time you’re horizontal you feel horrible. 😊Good luck girl!

    • Reply June 20, 2017

      Julia

      I actually just found out TODAY that I have a hernia on my diaphragm that is causing the severe heartburn, among other things. I truly haven’t been able to eat or drink anything without instant terrible side effects. So while not a lot of the tricks work on me, we’re finally getting answers.

  • Reply June 20, 2017

    Eva

    Hi Julia!

    You may get this suggestion all the time, but I was listening to the podcast and when you mentioned how you Instagramed your house photos (Photoshop to upload to phone to Instagram) I wanted to call you right then to give you a cool tip I learned recently! As a professional photographer, I use Instagram all the time and the whole phone upload thing was driving me nuts – have you heard about the Instagram plugin for lightroom? (do you have lightroom?) https://www.lrinstagram.com/ It has changed my life. I just drag and drop the photo into a folder in Lightroom, add my hashtags and comments, and hit publish! No resizing, no dropbox, etc. Hope you can use this! I love your blog/podcast/instagram and am so glad you didn’t shut it down. You and Chris are an inspiration to not only bloggers but those of us trying to make a business out of what we love (my husband is a professional tutor, I work two jobs as a photographer and a medical technologist but am hoping to make the leap to photographer only soon). Thanks! – Eva

    • Reply June 20, 2017

      Julia

      That’s an amazing tip! I have Lightroom but am not too familiar with it. However, this is a game changer! Thank you

  • Reply June 20, 2017

    Michelle I

    Love, love, love your blog! I am a silent reader/listener, but draw a lot of inspiration from your projects. Especially now that we are in a gut job of our entire new-to-us house. I’ve already got my dad working on the black iron railings ;) Has Chris heard of this book? My husband has baked some amazing bread from it and it’s gorgeous to look at too. Cast iron dutch oven is for sure they way to go! https://www.amazon.com/Tartine-Bread-Chad-Robertson/dp/0811870413/ref=sr_1_6?ie=UTF8&qid=1497988405&sr=8-6&keywords=bread+book

  • Reply June 20, 2017

    Caledonia

    Your obviously doing very well financially your looking for a cabin. So will you renovate the cabin with sponsored products. What are your plans for your own house once its completely renovated, move and start all over again with sponsored products…

    • Reply June 20, 2017

      Julia

      The cabin is more of an investment property, and not really going to be used for our own enjoyment. We plan to renovate and document the renovation just as we would our own house but don’t have any future plans of moving anytime soon.

  • Reply June 20, 2017

    denilauren

    Thank you for the very real podcast this week! My husband and I have started blogging at the encouragement of family and friends, but there is huge learning curve and takes a lot of work to keep up regular content. Y’all’s honest account of jumping in with both feet is definitely inspiring. Kudos to all of your success!

  • Reply June 20, 2017

    Amanda

    This is totally and completely off-topic – I love your sweater in the first photo! It looks so cozy! Do you remember where it came from? Thank you!!

  • Reply June 20, 2017

    Victoria Bradley

    I’ve referred several friends to this podcast episode because a lot of creative wonderful people are working to make a living by generating online content. I think this is a fair and honest snapshot of what it takes. My only caveat — you two aren’t giving yourselves enough credit. It’s not JUST that you persevered and stuck with it and stayed true to yourselves and put in the hours; you’re also genuinely talented and innately intuitive.

    I’m a magazine editor and an artist. Could anyone do what I do if they made the commitment and put the time in? No. I’m uniquely qualified to do what I do. And so are you guys!

  • Reply June 19, 2017

    Candy

    Just curious: is there ever a time you would get a negative comment and consider learning something from it or taking it as serious feedback? Reading/listening to your thoughts on negative comments, it sounds like you have gotten good at letting negativity bounce off you but wondering if you’d ever take a critique seriously and try to respond to it in some meaningful way.

    • Reply June 20, 2017

      Julia

      Were you able to listen to the podcast? We go into great lengths talking about how we take every comment to heart. Constructive criticism is such a powerful tool and lesson to learn from that doesn’t come from a negative place at all. We even talked about finding some truth in the purely negative comments and balancing that out with everything else that comes at us when we post content.

      • June 20, 2017

        Candy

        Yes, I listened to the podcast!

  • Reply June 19, 2017

    Erin

    I read all your stuff whenever it comes out and listen to your podcast. Definitely one of my favorite blogs out there because of your relatable voice and style. But I almost never comment. So I just wanted to say hi for once, and how much I love everything you do, how you inspire me, build my own confidence and simply make me giggle.

    Two quick, funny stories for you:
    1. My husband and I have friends that are also a Chris and Julia couple. We have to distinguish which ones we are referring to whenever we talk about either of you! “Our friends or the bloggers?”
    2. My husband has gotten into podcasting this past year about video gaming, but regularly mentions our house work (we’re still in our first year of home ownership). Finally, some of his followers asked him how he knows how to do all this work and what resources he uses. He told them “Chris Loves Julia! My wife loves that blog but they have a ton of good information.” He secretly (or not so secretly) loves you guys too ;)

    • Reply June 19, 2017

      Julia

      Awww, I love that! So happy you said, “hi!” What’s your husband’s podcast called?

      • June 19, 2017

        Erin

        The podcast he’s involved with is called “In Orbit.” They mostly focus on the game “Destiny.” It’s a real nerd fest! But you crossed over to a new market ;)

  • Reply June 19, 2017

    lu

    Another awesome podcast… yay!

  • Reply June 19, 2017

    monica

    I am a long time reader and am always quite happy when a post of yours shows up on Bloglovin. Generally I will read yours and a few others before reading the rest! After listening to the podcast I began to wonder what “a day in the life” of two full time bloggers with 2 (almost 2!) kids is like – Wondering if you would consider doing a post about what your typical day is like these days? I will never be a blogger myself – just curious!

  • Reply June 19, 2017

    Jolene

    Kudos for this podcast content – thanks for sharing the info!

  • Reply June 19, 2017

    Renee

    I really enjoyed this episode! I think it is fascinating to get a behind the scenes peek and it made me think about how I, as a blog reader, engage with the author. I often don’t leave comments even when I faithfully read and listen, so you encouraged me to interact more!

  • Reply June 19, 2017

    Katie

    I think you said something very important that other bloggers could benefit from. You said that you need to be “consistent with your posts”. In order for blogging to become an accepted career, I think bloggers need to treat it like the rest of us do our jobs. We have to show up and work on a consistent and frequent basis. One thing that is often frustrating is knowing that some bloggers are earning money yet only posting when they feel up to it. This obviously wouldn’t fly in any other profession.

    You guys are great, you deserve all of the success you have seen!

  • Reply June 19, 2017

    Lindsey

    Just wanted to leave a comment to say that I appreciate all of the content you create daily/weekly!

    • Reply June 19, 2017

      Julia

      Thanks so much, Lindsey!

  • Reply June 19, 2017

    Amber

    Seriously you guys are so inspirational! I read all your posts and listen to your podcasts and I just love how down to earth and realistic you are! My life and yours have basically nothing in common other than being self employed and wanting to spend as much time with the family but I feel Like I learn much from your content! Love it!!!

  • Reply June 19, 2017

    Sarah

    Just curious, do you offer podcast transcripts for hard of hearing fans? I’d love to be involved with them but… ;)

    • Reply June 19, 2017

      Sarah

      Woah, thou shalt not type while sleepy or you get a post like this O.o

      What I meant is, I’d love to be able to access the content on your podcasts but I’m deaf so, not possible for me. Just was hoping you could maybe provide a text version. Thanks!

  • Reply June 19, 2017

    Victoria Alvarez

    Great episode this week! Can we get Chris’ favorite sourdough recipe?? :D I’ve been wanting to do it for so long but have been intimidated.

    • Reply June 19, 2017

      Julia

      I linked the book he uses in the post. He has been making the “Friendship Loaf” recipe on page 67.

    • Reply June 19, 2017

      Victoria Alvarez

      Perfect. Thank you! :)

  • Thank you for this! I could listen to you talking shop for another 15 hours. You’re an inspiration in so many ways. <3

  • Reply June 19, 2017

    Mary

    My husband and I just went on a 24 hours road trip and listened to this podcast almost the entire time. We are completely inspired! I love the advice you gave about making a list of all the things you’re willing to give up to do something you love. Going to do that right now…

  • Reply June 19, 2017

    Corine

    You guys! This episode was such a peek behind the curtain. Your honesty and vulnerability makes me love you more. I love that you kept the basketball drawing. And I love the lesson you took from it and share. It really has helped me take a look in my own life. Criticism vs critique…I love the lesson.

  • Reply June 19, 2017

    Anna

    Great episode today! It was such an interesting story to hear all of the considerations and ups and downs, that have brought you where you are today.

    One of the parts that made me pause was the criticism comment about being relatable, and how it seemed to sting when IMO, it shouldn’t. Is not being relatable a bad thing? Doesn’t that mean you’re a professional and trusted expert instead of an amateur DIYer? I mean Julia has an art degree and Chris has a marketing and web background. In my eyes that gives you the foundation to know how to curate a home with better design than the average homeowner. It’s interesting that somehow running a full-time home blog is viewed differently than running a construction or interior design company. You still focus on home design more than the average Joe, which does make you different. So if someone calls you unrelatable, so what. Given what Julia has said about getting more engagement from great photography vs. personal snapshots, it’s safe to say people look to you not to relate to, but to be inspired by. I’m saying this mostly because that comment sounded like a bully trying to be hurtful than anything else, and was upsetting to me that it stuck with you. If some people can’t relate because they haven’t studied design, or don’t have the budget, it’s okay. You get out what you put in, and sometimes you get what you pay for. (And yes, that may mean your house is cuter than theirs.) Hope this wasn’t too blunt :)

    Keep doing you. You’re awesome.

    • Reply June 19, 2017

      Julie

      Well said!

    • Reply June 21, 2017

      Julie

      I agree with this! I never really felt all that relatable to you in terms of DIY/home renovation ability for several reasons. You always say that anyone can do the projects you do, but some people, like myself, are just truly terrible at all things handy/artistic. I suppose I could complete many of the projects, but they wouldn’t end up looking good! But then again, I didn’t go to art school and I didn’t grow up building houses with my dad. My DIY skills are probably comparable to 8 year old Chris and Julia :) Additionally, I don’t have nearly the budget or time that you do. BUT, I still very much enjoy reading the blog and getting ideas of things I can pay a contractor to do in the future. I’m definitely here more for inspiration than relatability.

  • Reply June 19, 2017

    Kara

    (above ^^ Brookeline = Brooklinen)

    Really enjoyed this! I am not/have no plans to be a blogger– but I like hearing how ad revenue/affiliate links work and where income comes from in blogging. Yes, intuitive, but this was still the first time I heard that one can gauge whether your readers are getting value not by comments, but affiliate links/ ad revenue.

    Also I had no idea you could have Etsy affiliates??

    I’d love to hear more of this in the future — and how instagram/stories has impacted/ changed this.

    • Reply June 19, 2017

      Julia

      Etsy is huge into affiliates. They will pay a small commission for anything you link to. I believe it comes from the Etsy fees that each shop pays, so it’s no additional amount the individual shop owners pay. Just a great way to get a lot of link love incentive.

      For a while, sharing links to things you love on Instagram has been challenging because there was no easy way to get a link in, besides your profile. We occasionally use LiketoKnow.it which some people love, some people don’t. But now that they opened up the swipe feature for EVERY business account, it’s so much easier to direct our followers to exactly what we want to share and it is absolutely another revenue stream, too. As with every income opportunity, there HAS to be a balance–which is something we discuss in this episode.

  • Reply June 19, 2017

    Emelia

    Can’t wait to listen when I take my dog for her daily walk!

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