let's talk about talkin'

I'm speaking in a few weeks at the Altitude Design Summit on "Growing and Maintaining a Small Blog with Pride", a topic of my own design. I am heading up a roundtable, and I have so much I'd like to talk about. Because there are two really great panels and all the other fabulous roundtables occurring at the same time as mine, I'm not sure I'm going to get a chance to speak with many people at all. So I'd love to share what I'm thinking about here because I have a lot to say, and because I'd love your feedback!

Last June I proposed my topic to Gabrielle Blair, author of the blog Design Mom and one of the founders of the Alt Summit. The gist of it was me wanting to talk to the "smaller" blog writer about how to keep putting it out there and how to keep your head up, even it your readership is nothing near you what think it should be.

My readership is pretty low given all the exposure I've had in the past year. No matter where I've been featured, very few people follow me back here and stay. That used to really befuddle me and get me down. I'd get so high off of the big spikes and then confused when the stats went back down again. Eventually I had to make peace with it, and decide if I wanted to keep going for me and for fun, because I really love writing here, I'd have to start forgetting about the numbers. What helped me to do that was the positive feedback I had received from readers, Facebook and twitter friends, family and fans, and the fact that anyone had bothered to feature me at all. It really matters to me that someone is reading; the question is how many readers matter? I discovered that no, it's okay to not be a big blog, and yes, it's okay to want some exposure and validation!

For my roundtable, there will the practical stuff to talk about, and then a little deeper soul searching. That's the "with pride" part. I'm sure our conversation will expand this scope, but here's where we'll start.

The Practical:
Ways to gain exposure, find friends, and get mirroring and support for your work.

What are ways to find exposure for your original ideas?
  • Submitting work to places specifically soliciting ideas.
  • Building relationships with writers and editors, who might then mine your blog independently for more of your great, original stuff.
  • Linking back to other blogs. I'm sure this is how Martha Stewart Blog found me.
  • Selective advertising. 
What are methods to forge authentic relationships online and/or with other creative bloggers in real life?
  • Join established blogging communities. My participation in NaBloPoMo at BlogHer for three months was how I found my four best bloggy-type friends, and I will always support them.
  • Reach out to people you share commonalities with, like bloggers who use the same medium in their art that you do, or bloggers that live in your area. This doesn't always work, but I do have a few friends in real life that I met online for these reasons, and I'm glad I reached out to them. 
  • Workshops and societies. If you're lucky enough to have something like this roll through your town, go!

The Soul Searching:

Defining you goals and what fulfills you.

This is huge, because I think a lot of people don't really know or think about it at first. I didn't, at the beginning. When I started blogging I was posting how I spent summer vacation with my kids, then I started thinking about what else I could share here, then I wanted EVERYONE to see what I was doing.

That lasted for quite a while, ending up in a shameful mess of self-promotional bad internet etiquette perpetrated by yours truly. Once time I reached out to a very successful food blogger in the Bay Area, telling her how fabulous I was and how much I should be included in her circles, really believing it, because I am creative and I want to be surrounded by creativity. She sent me back a scathing email, and the part that hurt the most when she wrote "It seems like you want more than anything to have a popular website". It stung for weeks, because who wants to look like they just want to have a popular website? Maybe that's what you want, but the last thing you want is to look like you want it, you know? And in my defense, as poorly written as my note to her was, I was really looking for creative companionship first, fame second.

If you're feeling low about your readership or statistics, you have to ask yourself things like:
  • What am I doing here that deserves BIG attention?
  • What am I doing differently from the next person?
  • What are my real intentions?
  • Am I looking to become a celebrity?
  • How many people need to be interested for that to feel okay to you?
  • Where do I go to find them?
If you reflect on what you are looking for, you might find yourself more content with where you are. And in that comfort you might find the stones to help you forge on to even more success. There is something to be said for sitting on your laurels, no matter how small they are.

Now, more than anything else I see my blog as an online gallery of my work, where I curate all of my art and architecture and projects, old and new, and no one tells me what to hang here but me. I am working toward a book which came out of nowhere, and I'm proudly blogging every time I perform burlesque. That is the most awesome part of blogging. You are running this show! I hope you are embracing that.

Finally, has it been done before?
It's totally fine if it has been! I am the one millionth lady to start a mommy blog. You just need to adjust your expectations. If it's been done before, don't expect to get a ton of attention, unless you are doing it YOUR WAY. I believe in the tenets written by Austin Kleon in "Steal Like an Artist". I started this blog based on what I had seen at bleubird vintage, the only blog I read regularly at the time. Since then, it has evolved into a place for my voice and my style, but that took a lot of time, and the template I emulated from bleubird really gave me a jumping off point.

I don't know if you noticed, but there is a sort of inspirational backlash out there in the blogging community of us having to tell each other to be ourselves! There are great posts out there right now on blogging trends that need to disappear, advice about slow blogging, and probably others I haven't read yet. THIS IS YOUR TIME! This is your time to buck trends and be yourself. Make it a cognitive exercise if you need to, but do it! Trust me!

In my opinion, you can bring nothing more valuable to the table or your blog than who you truly are. It really is the best you can do. I know it's my best chance to get my work noticed, and parlay that work into whatever comes next for me. 


I would LOVE to hear any feedback you have on this topic. Let's talk!

Happy New Year! Best wishes to all of us in 2013!



  1. I really appreciate the ideas in this post--and wish I could go to Alt to hear you deliver them in person! I'm also a small blogger who has wondered why more people who land on our blog don't stick around, and I've done some of that chasing/networking that didn't do much for me. After about 9 months, I reached similar conclusions. I realized that I wasn't interested in doing many of the things that bigger bloggers do, and that I'd rather have 10 meaningful connections with readers than 100 superficial ones. I take great pride in the very low number of "great post!" comments we receive. The readers who interact with us are thoughtful and interesting--and connecting with like-minded people is a big part of why I blog.

    That said, of course I'd love a bigger audience! But I take comfort in realizing that our numbers are growing steadily over time. I guess how we write and what we write about doesn't have wide appeal (we don't fit neatly into any niche), but it does have appeal. It just might take some time for our people to find us. It's also taking me time to find the bloggers I can really relate to.

    I've gotten to a place where I'm enjoying the journey. I'm learning tons, I've connected with interesting people, and blogging takes me deeper into my own experiences. It's all good!

    1. Hi Rita! I am so glad we've found each other, we are on the same page. A few things that stood out at me in your comments are "it just might take some time for our people to find us", and "blogging takes me deeper into my own experiences". The first is so true. It can be like a needle in a haystack, and if you're like me, you don't have time to go searching for all the "needles" that you have a lot in common with. And the second is a great way to regard blogging, it is sort of like examining (and then exhibiting) your life. Thank you for your thoughtful comments! You have so many commenters on your blog it's clear you've built some good relationships online. I have been reading, by the way, but have not made a lot of time for commenting on anything the past few weeks! Happy New Year!

  2. Oh these are great... I'm giving a talk in 2 weeks about "growing your business through blogging" and my local blog is fun, colorful and a great way to connect our community.. but I haven't exactly narrowed down what I'm going to talk about at the event. Thanks for some ideas... (I found you via Julie/Petel Design/MakeShift Society).

    1. Hi there, and thank you for reading and commenting! There are so many great resources out there for the kind of talk you'll be giving. If you Google "Alt Summit 2011" with "growing your blog" I bet you'll find even more pointers than I have here. Good luck, and thanks again for stopping by!

  3. Tiffanie,
    Just catching up on your recent posts. This sounds like it's going to be an incredible panel. These are all issues I can relate to and I think it'll generate a great conversation. Wish I could be there, but hoping you'll post a follow up!
    Happy New Year to you! So glad we've met up online :)

    1. I am so happy we met, too! I wish you could be there, and I DEFINITELY will be doing some follow up posts on my experiences. Thank you for reading, Sonya, and for blogging more lately, too! xoxo

  4. Great, I'm looking forward to hearing about your experiences at the conference!
    Thanks, I'm glad to be blogging more again - (I just decided to do Nablopomo again this month to get a jump start).
    It's so great that you've been on such a roll posting regularly about the donut pan project, as well as all your other posts - I always really dig reading your posts!!
    Here's to fabulous projects + blogs in 2013!! xo

    1. That's so great you're doing NaBloPoMo again! I was wondering why so many posts in a row! Yes, to all sorts of fabulousness in 2013! xoxo

  5. Hi Tiffanie,
    I'm a lurker on blogs. I love reading them, visit a dozen or so regularly but seldom drop out of 'lurkdom' to participate. I have no idea how I stumbled on your blgo but you are one of my favourites! I don't have much in common with you but I am so intrigued by you. I enjoy and am envious of your creativity and love seeing your projects come to life. I don't have much to offer to your current post, but I wanted you to know I'm really digging your blog.

    1. Well hi there! What a nice comment to receive, and it means a lot to me that you took the time to write it! Please don't be envious of my creativity, it is a bi-product of having a few years not having to work and just being able to be with the kids. Lots of time for me to think and make things! I'm sure when I open my doors as an architect again soon things will not look so compelling over here! :) Thank you for your note!

    2. Hi again Tiffanie,

      I meant to tell you that my name is Stacie. I just posted under anon because I'm still getting used to commenting. Your children are very lucky to have a mom like you.

    3. Thank you, Stacie. Kind of you to say!

  6. I love how your go after opportunities! This is a panel discussion that would really interest me and a lot of bloggers. Your blog is amazing and sounds like you are doing all the right things to promote it. I wonder if self hosting would help reach more readers?

    1. Ha! I think when I started performing burlesque I realized the kind of challenges that make me sick to my stomach were what I needed to move forward in my personal development! I have wondered about self-hosting, but at this point am afraid to change URLs because I am linked up in many different places and I would hate to break those links. Thank you for the compliment, you are doing some really great work yourself, lady! xoxo

  7. Hi Tiffany - just catching up some some ALT speaker research and I found this incredible post. Thank you for saying all of this and putting it out there. It is really getting my juices flowing, just in time for the whirlwind of a conference we are about to attend!

    I am still planning out my schedule, and honestly haven't really had a minute to look at the schedule by I am hoping to make it to your class at ALT. At the very least, I hope me can meet to chat about all things life. I like what you got going on :)

    See you soon!

    Shaunna @ http://astylemoment.com

    1. Hi Shaunna,

      I don't think we ever ran into each other at ALT, but thank you so much for stopping by here and I'm glad you could relate to this post! I have NO clue how to even start writing about my ALT experience after-the-fact. I might need a few more days to recover! I hope you had a great time!

  8. Hi there! I am a small blogger too! Only around for a year this February and this was such a wonderful article to read! It really helps keeps things in perspective! I really started out with my blog as a hobby b/c I love everything about design so much. It's been a great outlet for that for me. At times, it's so easy to let it start to consume me and I realize that I really do love working on it because I am so passionate about design and decorating (though I'm not a professionally trained decorator!). I found you b/c I have been stalking the ALT speakers (ha, no worries, not literally!). But I so desperately wanted to participate this year. To me, it's a sign of really growing the blog. I'm all about slow and steady and staying with this b/c it;s fun (and it really is a hobby for me). But I would love more than anything to partake in the summit too! Would love to attend next year! I am sure your round table was a complete hit! Nice to have found you.

    1. Hi Heather,

      The roundtable was well attended (thank goodness!!!) and we had a good talk. I wanted to get even deeper into the soul searching stuff, but we ran out of time, even though we went a half hour over! I think most people who blog feel like you, like you would do it no matter what because it is so fulfilling to do. I hope you get to go next year, it was quite a scene! Thank you for your honest comment and for stopping by here!

  9. tiffanie,
    first time to your blog and wanted to say hello! this is a very refreshing post to read, i love your attitude of blogging with pride. whenever i talk to friends thinking of diving into blogging and the concerns of should i / shouldn't i, i tell them the one thing i've learned for sure is that blogging is such an amazing learning experience; it teaches about expectations, about creativity, about what is going on in our real life, brings focus to interest/hobbies/or lack thereof. even if it becomes a temporary experiment it will teach something. i'm looking forward in reading your blog further, but in the meantime thanks for this great post and anyone devoted to 101 donut pan ideas, well it can't be anything but good. (;

    xoxo, tiffany

    1. Hi Tiffany. Thank you for reading! I really like where you said "even if it becomes a temporary experiment it will teach something". It's true. Blogging is a great way to hone many skills, refine your taste level and become a proactive thinker. Thanks for the tip of the hat to the donut pans, they are a total obsession. I am looking forward to checking out your blog. Thanks again for taking the time to comment! xo

  10. I stumbled upon this post by accident, but it couldn't have hit me more spot on to where I am at. I started my blog almost 2.5 years ago originally as a hobby, an outlet...in that time 3 people I know also started blogs, but went for the gold on facebook and instagram. To be honest it was kind of annoying and I just didn't want to be annoying to others by posting my posts or look like I was the one following their lead. Recently I finally overcame my stupid insecurities and went "public", so here I am now and not quite sure of how to get to where i want to be. I am loving my growing stats, but still have a long way to go! So this was a really great to read. I wish I lived in a community where I could go to workshops! I, like you, was also inspired by bleubird...she is awesome, genuine and exactly how I want to be perceived...real. I have yet to check the rest of your blog, so going to do that now! Thanks again for the encouragement! {I was unable to sign in under my typepad account, but my name is kelsey....thank you again! http://shetalks.typepad.com}

    1. Hi Kelsey,

      Thank you for your note. I saw your comment on the Halloween post and checked out your blog before seeing this. You have some really great content on your blog, plus the fact that you are really, really gorgeous and creative. I think that is the perfect combo for finding a lot of readers. You really do have to work at it though, sometimes in ways you may not want to. Commenting on bleubird is one way to find people who think like you do and who want to read blogs like yours. I don't comment there anymore (I still admire her blog, but I only comment on blogs where I know there is going to be a two-way conversation now) but when I did, I found if I was one of the earlier commenters, readers would check me out and I got to know a few people that way. You definitely have to put it out there one way or another. If the social aspect isn't your bag, then submitting some of your great ideas (like your son's AMAZING Halloween costume) to the right people is a wonderful way to gain exposure. Keep on going for yourself, but I think there are a lot of people who would really enjoy your blog out there! I do! xo


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