How She Creates Content Readers Hate to Miss
Meet our Creator of the Month: Leslie Saeta
There are few people in life who can make a Zoom call feel like you’re sitting right next to them having coffee and just catching up, but Leslie Saeta is one of those people. Leslie is the blogger behind My 100 Year Old Home and a DIY and home renovation superstar - with about a million other titles, interests, and experiences to add.
Check out how she’s learned to manage her time as a busy creator and stay focused on the parts that matter the most - and worrying about her follow count isn’t on the list.
You’re well known for your blog, My 100 Year Old Home. What’s the story behind that name?
Well, we actually now have two 100 year old homes. When we started we only had one & it was the house my husband actually grew up in. It’s in Pasadena, California and it was built in 1915. When we bought the Waco house, I jokingly said, “Oh, it’d be really fun to buy another 100 year old home!” and we did. It’s actually older and was built in 1912.
How did you get started as a blogger?
I’ve been in marketing my whole life, and then about thirteen years ago I decided to pursue art. I started painting with a pallet knife and fell in love with it.
Then, I started teaching and that’s when I went full time as an artist. I was full time as an artist traveling all over the country teaching about 14 workshops a year. Leave it to me to go from a calm, fun, artistic thing and then go crazy with it. I did that for four years.
At that time I had an Instagram account and a blog and a Facebook page, but I was watching the show Fixer Upper and said, "You know, there’s no art in any of these homes." I wondered what would happen if I started a new Instagram account, kind of for the farmhouse community, and shared my abstract art that I think would work well with that community.
When did you first start to really gain a following when you started the blog?
Because my background is in marketing, I did a lot of research. I found all of the hashtags that bloggers who are huge used and, unbeknownst to me, I used one from Better Homes and Gardens and two weeks into my new account, BHG shared a picture of the front of my house. In one day I got 10,000 followers, and I was like well this is going well.
Then, probably six months later Country Home reached out to me (just so you know I wasn’t sharing any art yet, I was just trying to build my audience). They reached out and asked if I wanted to do an Instagram takeover which I did for the weekend and that led to another 10,000 followers.
It just all started growing. I kind of was writing my blog, but I got really busy and in no time brands started reaching out and I realized I could make a living doing this. So, I pushed my art just aside and the next thing you know here I am.
Wow, you really cracked the hashtag code!
Of course, it’s changed now and I’m sad I don’t have any great secrets, but I do work really hard. Last year, I wrote over 350 blog posts. I wrote one almost every single day.
The hardest part is that I’m not typically writing about something that already exists. I have to create something and then write about it, but it’s what I love to do. We have a lot of big projects that we’re now working on and it’s just been absolutely wild, but it’s a lot of fun and I absolutely love it.
Clearly, your art has had an impact on your blogging experience and focus. Can you elaborate more on how you’ve used art on your blog and inspiration?
It’s so funny, I do this blog post every Sunday called Sunday Morning Coffee and the first part of it is a little bit about me.
Well, I recently shared about my art and a project I did about 4 years ago where I did a painting a day for 40 days and each abstract painting was inspired by an outfit from my favorite TV show Project Runway. And the reason I brought it up is that writing about and sharing some of my art inspired me to want to start painting again.
What do you do when you’re looking for inspiration on what to create next? How do you handle moments of creator’s block?
You know, there’s so many things I’ve learned that took me way too long to learn. Like why I would never finish a blog post and I’d come downstairs and cook dinner and watch TV with my husband and then finish it.
Now, at 6 o’clock I have to be done with everything and work ends. Work was literally encompassing my life 24/7.
I just got smart. I have an editorial calendar that is the content planned out weeks in advance. It’s hard to have writer’s block when you already know what you’re going to write about.
That’s the best piece of advice that I could give to anyone. Don’t get me wrong, there are still days where we are writing a post for tomorrow, but that will really help anyone because you’ll do a better job if you’ve thought about it, done some SEO & keyword research, and thought about what your title is going to be.
Then, you can also give yourself the opportunity to take photos for two or three blog posts without having to set up a room for photos and take it all down in between writing each post. You can save yourself a whole day of taking photographs.
A lot if it is just working smarter, not harder.
What would you say have been the biggest challenges for you being a blogger? What have you learned and done to overcome those?
This is one of the other problems. You have your editorial calendar and then you see something that sparks a new idea that you want to do even though you already have a whole plan. When you’re creative it’s really hard to discipline yourself, but I don’t think I would ever want to. So, I do a really good job of keeping track of those new ideas and putting them down for the future.
You’ve seen a lot of success on Instagram. How long did it take you to grow to 360,000 followers?
I have been on Instagram for almost exactly 5 years. I’m not focused on growing right now. My number one goal is to keep the people who follow me happy, entertained. I don’t like to show things. I like to share things. What I mean by that is, instead of saying something like “here’s my family room” I like to say “here’s my family room with these pillows that I made and the DIY of how to make them”.
I want to create a sense of FOMO (fear of missing out) to make people feel like if they don’t come to my blog or my Instagram, they might miss out on a really great idea.
Do you have any suggestions on how to generate traffic from social media to your blog?
I made it a goal to focus more on my blog than on my Instagram, and I’ve worked really hard. If you look at my Instagram posts, every single one tells you to go to my blog and get more information. That has been huge. It’s unbelievable.
I tease the audience a little with something like I’ve written a blog post, tell them where to go and add a link in the stories and it’s worked very well.
Would you attribute your growth to your focus on keeping your audience happy in lieu of having a focus on followers?
No one really knows why you do well or don’t do well, but I think it’s that. I think it’s that I try really hard to engage with my followers. I figure if they’re going to spend the time to leave a comment I should also try to respond. At least for the first couple of hours I try to engage with everybody. I want them to know that I am reading and that I do care what they have to say.
The same goes for my blog. I try to comment on almost every blog comment if I can.
My boys are all grown and I don’t have young kids running around, so it offers me a little more time - not a lot, but a little more - to be able to do that. I also have a great team that works with me, which has been super fun.
** Editor's note: Leslie's best friend, Mary Liz, works with her on My 100 Year Old Home and together the two really have their content calendars and plans running like a dream. And, they get to have tons of fun together doing it!
What are the most important Instagram metrics influencers should be tracking and why?
If you’re a blogger, Google analytics is really important to understand what is happening at any time.
With Instagram, I think that last thing that you should look at is your follower count. There’s so many reasons why people follow you. There are so many people who will follow you and then unfollow you if you don’t return the follow within a certain time. I mean, who would ever want that person to be a follower in the first place?
I think the metrics of the engagement are more important and what they’re saying in the comments is really telling of how you’re reaching your audience.
Someone can have 50,000 followers and have better engagement than me and technically be doing way better - it doesn’t matter.
Thinking ahead to 2022, are there any projects that you’re super excited about or any goals you want to meet?
We are planning on creating merchandise. Every time I make a craft, I get so many people asking if they can just buy it. So, we are pursuing that very seriously right now. And that should be something that would happen this summer I would hope, maybe sooner.
Within my 100 year old home, there are 5 areas on my blog. Home decor, DIY, recipes, entertaining (my favorite), and sharing our home.
We also have a home here in Ventura, California at the beach where we are starting a huge remodel very soon. It’s very exciting!
With all of those new home projects coming up that we will hopefully be seeing shared on Hometalk as well, what was it that originally brought you to Hometalk?
That would be that five foot friend of mine, KariAnne Wood. Then, I saw a lot of chatter about Hometalk in different groups and talking about how great it is. I have lots of content, so I am super willing to share it anywhere I can. It’s been really great!
It is wonderful for any size blogger. It can really open up a whole new audience for you which is so important.
What would you say is your favorite part of the blogger experience on Hometalk?
I think it’s the whole thing. I love getting the email saying what will be featured so I can make sure that post has everything it needs prior to the traffic.
I normally write the date on my calendar so I remember when I’m being featured, but I didn’t do that this last time and my stats blew up. It didn’t take me long to figure out it was because of Hometalk - it was really great.
If you have one piece of advice to give to content creators, what would it be?
I’d say don’t compare yourself to other people, because as soon as you do it’s a downward spiral. People forget about what’s most important. What’s most important is being yourself and sharing what you love to do and giving them an experience that they don’t want to miss out on.
I would highly encourage people who haven’t made that leap yet, to leap into blogging. It’s not only a great place to give the backend of what you see on Instagram, but it’s an incredible way to develop a steady income because there are so many ways that you can make money as a blogger. I think sometimes people forget about that. There are so many ways that you can make a living and do something you love to do.
Is there a creator on Hometalk, Foodtalk, or Upstyle who you think should highlight next?
Let us know at email@example.com!