From frustrated to empowered! How mastering the backend changed her blogging game.
Meet our creator of the month: Lynn Vogeler from Living Large in A Small House
Lynn Vogeler from Living Large in A Small House has a presence that is anything but tiny. I had the opportunity to meet Lynn in person and there’s something special about her passion to connect with people and make her blog better every day.
Lynn knows there’s so much more to blogging than just the writing. She’s taught herself the ins and outs of the blogging backend operations and she’s always eager to assist others in how to make their blogs stand out and make it their own.
Take a look at how she’s become her own blog’s backend specialist, her strategies for content creation, and how she can help you take control of your site.
What prompted you to start blogging?
I was working in corporate America and I hated my job. I have a degree in interior design, but it didn’t really pay the bills. I have always been passionate about my home, cooking, and all of those creative things. So, I used my blog kind of as a creative outlet for the things that I loved. I’ve actually had a blog for ten years. I just never really had the time to dedicate to figure it all out because I was working full-time. So when I would hit a snag with the blog, it would take me months before I would get back to it. It really started as a creative outlet. I really thought that all I had to do was sit down and write, and that was blogging. Little did I know how much is actually involved in it.
What was the process like to transition from the creative outlet kind of blogging to part to becoming a full-time blogger?
It was really exciting! It was what I had been wanting to do, and I was following my heart. Because I now had the time to figure it all out, I really took it on like a new full-time job. I happened to stumble upon the Thistlewood Mastermind, and that’s when it really took off for me. I learned a lot from a lot of amazing women who are working hard like I am to be full-time content creators.
Then, I had the courage to go to Haven for the first time last year. Haven was really eye-opening for me. That’s when I started learning about the process of blogging and all that was involved. While I’ve been blogging full-time for 2 years, I don’t know if I really started taking it seriously until about a year ago. I’ve put my heart and soul into it. I really feel like I know what I’m doing now. I’m starting to make money, and it’s just so fulfilling to do what you like and to make a living at it.
How did you decide to name your blog Living Large in A Small House?
Well, we live in a small house, and I remember when I started looking for names for a blog which was back ten years ago. I was looking for a smaller name that encompassed everything I wanted it to say. Everything was taken, so when I stumbled on Living Large in A Small House, I grabbed it. Shortly thereafter, I found out you should never have that long of a blog name because it’s too hard for people to remember. However, I have to say I disagree with that, because whenever I tell people my blog name they always remember. It’s unique.
What do you do to plan your content?
I have lists. I’m a paper person. I do have a content calendar, and I do try to focus it around what’s going on for the seasons. I didn’t used to have a pattern or a method, but now I am on a pretty good schedule. Tuesday is always a food post, Thursday is always something around the house. I also have a podcast that happens every Monday. On Fridays I do my link parties and Saturdays I do my round up. It’s a pretty full schedule.
Would you say that the scheduling has helped you grow your blog?
Absolutely. The one thing I learned when I started taking this seriously is to be consistent. Having those consistent days definitely has helped my blog grow. I think I’ve only missed one or two of those times. I pretty much know a month in advance what I am going to do. If something comes up because life gets in the way and I can’t do what I've planned, I repurpose old content. Because I have been blogging for ten years, I have a lot of content that really needs work, so that’s what I will do on those days.
You’re going to be speaking at the Bloggers Inspiring Bloggers retreat at Peacock Ridge in October. I know your focus is on how to set up the backend of your blog. Can you elaborate more on that?
The backend was the part that was the most frustrating to me. Everybody thinks blogging is just writing. It’s not. There’s so much on the backend that you need to know and understand. I probably went two or three years without knowing how to put a navigation bar on my blog. Now I understand it all so well. It’s actually another creative outlet for me. I enjoy that. I like helping people figure out their blog backend. It’s such a fun thing when people connect and are like, “That was simple simple! I can’t believe I didn’t know that.” And it isn’t really simple. It is kind of complicated. I really enjoy helping people fix their blogs and make their blogs better.
I switch things out on my blog all the time just because I know how to do it. I know enough to be dangerous.
What resources did you use to learn more on how to set up the backend?
When I was working full-time, I paid a fortune to have someone build a blog for me and they basically just delivered a shell that looked pretty. I didn’t know how to do any of the things behind the scenes. That was something else that stalled me in blogging for a very long time. When I was finally able to blog full-time I looked at the blog and I didn’t even really like it. It was really outdated and the colors weren’t current, so I turned to Restored316 and bought one of their site templates. What I enjoyed about it is that they gave me all the tools to install it all myself.
From there, I chose to do it all myself and that’s when I really started to like the backend of things. It was so intuitive for me. I loved the fact that I had control over what my blog looked like and didn’t have to try to get someone else to understand what I wanted my blog to look like. It was a game changer.
What are some of the things that you think are the most important items for bloggers to have on their site that are often missed?
First and foremost, their navigation bar has to make sense. There has to be a search bar at the beginning of the blog. Believe it or not, there are some people who you can’t even find out their name on their blog. You can’t find a name, you can’t find contact information.
If you’re going to put yourself out there, put yourself out there. Have your about page be about who you are, where you’re from, what your name is, how they can contact you. Have a search bar, have all of the ways they can get a hold of you in several different places. People don’t want to be on someone's blog just searching around for where I can read, how I can get in touch, who they are, or how I can follow them on social media. You need to have all of the important information up front. Have a snippet of what it's all about. Photography is also a big factor. When people first get on the blog and there’s nothing interesting or eye catching, they’re gone.
How did you hear about the Hometalk family of sites? What made you decide to join?
Of course from KariAnne Wood. At first I only knew about Hometalk. We do projects, but they aren’t your average DIY project. But Foodtalk is more in my wheelhouse, so I share a recipe just about every week. I’ve been consistently getting featured there about every 30 days.
Then, something happened this past week with a little thing called Simplify. I haven’t even had a direct feature yet. My Simplify posts were just added to the daily emails. I knew something was going on because my phone just kept dinging for 3 days straight with new email subscriber alerts. I actually got 300 new followers on my blog and well over 3,000 people visited my blog from Simplify. So, I was pretty happy about that! Since it wasn’t even a direct feature, I was even more surprised because that meant they were seeking out my blog after seeing my post on Simplify.
** Editor’s note: Lynn is a member of our beta Blogger Traffic Program on Simplify. If you’d like to join the beta Blogger Traffic Program on Simplify, please email Amanda at email@example.com to apply! **
What’s your biggest reason for being a consistent contributor on the Hometalk sites?
It’s really just become a weekly habit. I do my social media, then I go to Foodtalk and share, and you make it all so easy. Foodtalk is kind of my bread and butter, with Simplify looking to be my next focus. It’s a habit and I get great traffic from it. So, why wouldn’t I keep posting?
If you could give any advice to a new blogger what would it be?
I think the biggest take away from my beginning in blogging is that I spent so much money on silly things. There are so many classes that I took that just ended up with someone trying to sell me something even bigger. The only class that I have taken that was worth the money was Thistlewood Mastermind. I’ve really learned a lot from her and the women in the group. It’s really contributed to my success.
The one big takeaway I've gotten from the class is to form your own small tribe. I have a tribe of women I meet with via Zoom every Tuesday. Having your own group who can help you, support you, and encourage you is such a plus as a blogger. You’re at home. It can be a lonely job. So find your people. Don’t pay a ton of money for goofy classes or for someone to design your blog. It’s not necessary. Follow your heart.
Is there a creator on Hometalk, Foodtalk, or Upstyle who you think should highlight next?
Let us know at firstname.lastname@example.org!