Blogiversary IV: Anatomy Of A Blog Post

Ever wonder what goes into writing one of our posts? No? Well, we’re gonna tell you anyways. Consider it another peek behind the scenes and into our crazy blogging minds a bit further. We probably take our post writing a bit more seriously than most folks (but maybe we should since paying the mortgage depends on it) so we’re certainly not saying this is how it should be done. It’s just how we do it.

In general terms, most of our project-oriented posts go through these stages: from planning & prep through doing & documenting things, all the way to posting & responding to comments.

Those of you who write blogs about your home probably go through a similar process. Of course sometimes the process is fast and can happen within a day or two, and sometimes it’s quite long (as you’ll see in a moment). And on any given day, we’ll be juggling a few different projects/posts that can be at very different stages since we usually share eight of them in a five day span. The chart below is just hypothetical, but the dotted line shows how at any one time we could be writing a post about one project, while doing, planning, or responding to comments on several others.

But we already covered what any given day could look like, so let’s turn back to the purpose of this post: following the path of a post. Let’s use our bathroom mirror project from earlier this month as our example, since it was a bit of a (mis)adventure in its own right.

SUNDAY, AUGUST 21st:

8:30 am-ish: Sherry realizes it’d be good to have a last minute one-day project to share in the coming week – specifically on Monday (aka tomorrow) morning. Yikes. I suggest framing out the bathroom mirror since it has been something on our list since January and it sounds pretty simple. Sherry likes it, so I scout the web for some tutorials / advice (including Layla & Kevin’s experience) to help send us down the right track.

10 am-ish: After breakfast, we all hit up Lowe’s to stock up on supplies – i.e. mirror adhesive and trim (Clara “drives” the cart while Burger rides in the back – gotta love that dogs-allowed policy). We like doing things like this together so we can both come to an agreement on materials (like trim in this case, which comes in a ton of sizes and shapes) instead of one person staying home with Clara while the other one nervously makes all the decisions alone.

11:30 am-ish: Now home, Clara goes down for a nap and I dive in by taking “before” pictures of the door and then remove it. Sherry’s in the office writing another post for that week.

1:00 pm-ish: The project is slow going since I take a few more pics of the process than I end up using, but it never hurts to have more to choose from when it comes time to write the post. I finish putting the glue on the door, Sherry helps me place the mirror, Clara’s starting to wake up… and that’s when I realize that the directions on the adhesive say to wait at least 72 hours before sealing the edges. Crap. There’s no way this will be done in time to share Monday morning (or Tuesday or Wednesday for that matter). We kick ourselves for not thinking of that. Time for Plan B.

1:15 pm-ish: Plan B is the pallet compost bin I’ve been wanting to make. Sherry’s lukewarm on the idea (afraid it will also take too long) but it wins because we already have all of the supplies (i.e. pallets & screws) on hand (and shopping for supplies and doing an entirely new project isn’t likely to be accomplished in such a short time period). Sherry feeds Clara lunch and I head outside. The rest of the afternoon is spent making, photographing, and writing about the pallet compost bin (Sherry is beyond relieved that it’s done) as the mirror sets in the sunroom.

MONDAY, AUGUST 22nd:

10 am: Pallet compost bin post goes up, no one is the wiser (until now) that it was a pinch-hitter post. The mirror is still setting…

WEDNESDAY, AUGUST 24th:

9:00 am: My mom is over to do her regular three-hour Wednesday morning babysitting, so I use it as an excuse to return to the mirror project (even though I’m a couple hours shy of the 72 wait time) while Sherry begins refinishing wrestling with her rocker. The directions do suggest waiting a full week before sealing the edges, but having had our plan to share it this week already thwarted, we’re determined to at least have it ready to share next Monday. We have guests scheduled for the weekend (because of my cousin’s bridal shower) so it has to get done before Friday.

10:30 am-ish: Taking pictures along the way slows me down a little (trying to match lighting from the previous set of photos is a bit of a challenge), so it takes me this long to realize the 3/4″ trim that we bought isn’t thick enough (looks cheap and flimsy). I hope Sherry disagrees and can convince me it’s okay, but instead she comes to the same conclusion before I can even finish my sentence. Looks like a $5 college mirror (not that we didn’t both have one of those back in the day). Sigh.

10:45 am: I duck out to Lowe’s again to find thicker trim.

11:30 am: I’m back, thicker trim in hand. Clara’s napping, so my mom has left. Sherry’s busy responding to comments and I fight off deja vu as I measure, cut, and re-take pictures of my new trim process (which is why most of the previous photos were never used).

12:45 pm-ish: Thankfully I finish gluing the trim in place before Clara’s up from her nap, meaning that I’m available to go on baby watching duty (instead of having to pull Sherry off of comment-responding duty since so many are coming in at once). Trim glue sets in place overnight.

THURSDAY, AUGUST 25th:

11:30 am: Clara’s down for her morning nap (once again) and Sherry’s doing comments (once again), so I get a head start on cleaning the house before our weekend guests arrive the next day. I figure that it has been nearly the recommended 24 hours set time on the glue, so I’ll “clean up” the sunroom by getting rid of the bathroom door that’s been living in there nearly five whole days. I screw the door back onto its hinges and voila – we’re done!

11:45 am: The excitement of having privacy returned to our bathroom makes me decide to take a shower (Clara naps are extremely valuable for squeezing these in).

11:55 am: Shower done. I’m dressed and on the computer responding to emails while Sherry takes a phone call in the living room. Then I hear “BAM!” followed by “poundpoundpoundpoundpound.” I recognize the latter as Sherry’s urgent footsteps. She informs me the former was the sound of the mirror falling. Sugar.

Noon: Fueled by frustration¬† – both at myself for screwing up, and at the mirror gods for teaching me not to rush a project – I get right to scraping off the half-hardened glue from the mirror, door, and trim pieces. Scraping was a good way to release some anger, I’ll admit.

1 pm: Mirror is re-glued (this time with feeling!) and we come to terms with the fact that we’re just gonna have to let this thing set for a full week… and our sunroom’s gonna have a half-completed bathroom door when our guests arrive (not to mention that there will be a doorless bathroom in our bedroom). Oh well, worse things have happened.

SATURDAY, AUGUST 27:

Hurricane Irene hits and our guests decide not to travel. Bummed we won’t see them, but at least our chaos won’t be on display to them… not that we had any electricity by which to see it anyways.

WEDNESDAY, AUGUST 31:

8 pm: Clara has gone to bed and our one-week-long timer is about 12 hours from going off. I hesitantly jump the gun a bit, but knowing that we’ll be out of town over Labor Day weekend I have to get a head start. Plus, the sunroom is getting cramped with Sherry’s office cabinet painting which is going on in there too. So with my glue supposedly set and some “security” nails placed around the edges, I lean the door up against the wall (almost vertical) with a pillow at the base of it as an “overnight test.” I figure if the mirror is gonna fall again, the least it can do is fall before I bother with the trim a second time.

THURSDAY, SEPTEMBER 1:

8 am:¬† The mirror survived the night standing up, so I take pictures of the nail system now that it’s light out again. I didn’t bother photographing it earlier because I was still unsure if it would work and already had wasted enough time taking photos of things (the small trim cutting process) that wouldn’t see the light of day.

11 am: With Sherry on comment duty and Clara napping (are you sensing a theme about when I get things done?) I lay the door back down and re-glue the trim.

SUNDAY, SEPTEMBER 4:

8:30 pm – 10:30 pm: Being out of town for Labor Day forces us to let the trim glue set for a few days, but that means we can make progress when it comes to writing the post (since the project is nearly complete). While my siblings and I watch a movie at my parent’s beach house, I sort and size all of the photos taken so far. Then I write the post, leaving spots for the after photos that we have yet to shoot.

TUESDAY, SEPTEMBER 6:

11 am: Traffic got us home too late on Monday to do anything but unpack and fall asleep, so I use Tuesday morning to rehang the door. Sherry suggests that I take “after” pictures before it falls again (such a comedian, my wife) but (1) the light is bad due to the rain and (2) I want to be sure it survives a night before calling it a true success.

WEDNESDAY, SEPTEMBER 7:

8 am: Victory! The door looks great in the morning, so I break out the tripod (it’s rainy again, so not much light – I’ll just have to do my best) and start snapping after pictures. Sherry plays with Clara until she becomes determined to be in the photo stare at herself in the mirror.

9 am: After photos are taken and uploaded. I quickly size them and upload them into the post. Sherry trades me baby for computer, and gets right to proof-reading since we only have about an hour to go live.

10 am: The post is up. It’s two and half week’s later than planned, but at least it’s up. Sherry camps out moderating comments for a couple of hours while I entertain Clara for another hour-ish before naptime.

11 am: Sherry’s still responding to comments, so for me it’s back to sizing pictures and writing another post, this time it’s for the office desk top post (which was constructed and poly’d the afternoon before and is currently waiting to fully dry before it gets accessorized, photographed, and posted the next morning). The thing about sharing eight posts in five day’s time is that we always have to have a few in progress, a few in the early planning stage, and of course the finished ones have to be written up and those comment questions need answers. So it’s sort of like juggling eight balls… but in a fun no-day-is-ever-the-same way.

THE END

Admittedly that process was a bit more drawn out than a lot of our posts. Some are much quicker (like Sherry’s butterfly art, which only took about twelve hours between beginning to posting) but that wouldn’t have made for a very dramatic story, now would it? Conversely, some projects actually take longer (like our wall to wall desk or our patio or our laundry room – which is why we prefer to tackle them in stages and just share our progress along the way).

Was there anything that surprised you about what goes into a post? What do you do in your job or daily life that’s more involved than some might think?

Comments

  1. NATASHA says

    I really like this post. I have a blog about my kids, being a mom, and post partum depression. I just recently started to plan what I say, and though it is no where as professional as yours it is a great outlet for my feelings of anxiety, depression, and love for my three, soon to be four, babies!

  2. Belle says

    Fascinating!

    So much hard work goes into your amazing blog – I’m glad for the breakdowns, helps both to understand how hectic your life is and to get a better understanding of how to better manage my own blog (which in turn motivates me to do more blog-worthy stuff).

  3. Carol N. says

    Thanks for the insight…you guys truly never stop! In my daily work life I am a developer for a web application to support customer service at my company. People do not realize how complicated it can be to go from an idea to a finished page so I appreciate your posts this week.

  4. says

    I never think of how much actually goes into your posts! On my little family blog sometimes I get lazy about uploading and sorting pics. And that’s why I’m not supporting my family on it :-)

  5. Johanna says

    You guys are truly amazing. I have been thinking about starting a blog and this week’s posts have been truly insightful. Thanks!
    xoxo

  6. says

    I have to echo the previous comments also…Thank you both so much for how candid you are about life and your process. It helps to see the chaos and the order and that it is all normal! It definitely helps a newbie in the blog world like me! So inspiring. Thanks!

  7. Darcy says

    I know many people said it after your Day in the Life post earlier this week, but I just can’t get over how busy you two are!!! I always dreamed of working from home, having a blog — but not after this weeks behind the scenes look!! LOL! I’m happy that you all love it as much as you do — I don’t think its for me! Mostly because I’m not that organized and not that good at juggling! LOL!

    Thanks so much for such a great week of posts — I love hearing all the nitty gritty details (did I just age myself?!?!) You are the BEST!

    • Sandra T says

      Same here! I have a new found respect for ALL the work that goes into this, and you guys really do make it look easier than it is. Thanks!

  8. Elizabeth says

    You make it look so easy to complete projects with a 1 year old that it is really nice to hear that I’m not the only one who accomplishes things during baby naps (Ellie is less than a month older then Clara). It took almost two weeks of naps to repaint the ugliest bathroom! Envision a 1968 faux wood vanity with a strange mirror/sconce combo and to top it off bright yellow walls that were poorly sponged with hot pink, grey and baby blue. It felt like the walls were attacking you every time you walked into the room (for the 11 months it took me to repaint.) You (and pinterest) have inspired and motivated me to tackle that nightmare.

    I love reading your blog, keep it up (but take a vacation and relax too!)

  9. says

    Fun to see what goes into the process! Thanks for sharing. This is probably more a comment to a few posts ago (and totally take this with a grain of salt / I don’t know what I’m talking about), but have you considered lessoning the time spent on comments for each post to help with the whole balance pursuit? I can’t think of any other blog that comes remotely close to what you do with comments (moderating + replying). When I comment on a post I don’t expect a response, although am pleasantly surprised when there is one. I would bet that other readers feel the same. No reply, no problem. Just an idea that you DO NOT have to respond to, think about or use in any way unless helpful :)

    • says

      We really believe one of the things that has gotten us where we are today is interacting and responding to you guys – and it’s honestly one of the things that we really like to do! You guys are our inspiration, so we love keeping this a conversation and not turning it into a place where we talk “at” people without listening – ya know? So we think it’s easier to try to keep some of the wordiness at bay and post more spontaneous this-is-what’s-going-on stuff instead of writing so many super long wait-until-everything’s-finished posts when it comes to trying to find balance. Here’s hoping it works!

      xo,
      s

    • Nancy says

      As a regular reader I really like that you respond to comments. Responding makes it feel like we are having a conversation and know each other. I would agree that this personal interaction has contributed to the success of the blog.

    • Anita says

      I totally agree with Nancy. One of my favorite things to do when reading your blog is to read your response to readers’ comments – I do this about 90% of the time. Your dedication to responding to comments is not only incredible but it’s also made me into a loyal daily reader!

    • Alex says

      I fourth that comment :). I read another blog, and there are never any responses, and to be honest, I don’t feel nearly as attached to it!

    • Ali M. says

      I would agree that it has helped with the success of the blog and I love that it seems more personal/conversational.

      I do sometimes (especially after reading the posts this week) wonder how you are not exhausted all the time, but as long as you guys have the time and love it, I would say keep it up! But…if you ever feel tired, I think most of us would understand if you lightened the load a bit.

    • threadbndr says

      This is one of the few blogs that I read EVERY comment on (except on the giveaways – I can’t keep up on those!)

      It’s because of the dialogue between you and your readers and between the readers themselves.

      Keep up the good work!

    • Harinee says

      I’m one of your many addicts and the biggest reason for that would be that your readers feel so connected to you through the comments section. And some great ideas come out of the comments conversations!

      You two have a rare dignity about you despite all the fame and it’s admirable that you respond to so many comments.

      That being said I also want to tell you to take some time off the computer and we all understand if you can’t reply to every question! It’s a catch-22 – I want you to take more time off and yet can’t get enough of the blog!

    • Kathy says

      AGREED! It’s the personal interactions– not just when we get a personal response to our comments, but just reading the interactions you have with fellow readers– that make YHL a success. Most blogs don’t have the excellent writing and conversational “voice” that you offer. In additon to what we learn from the DIY info, YHL is just plain fun to read!! (Can’t wait for your book, btw.)

  10. Nikki says

    Wow, I knew your blog was hard work, but it is even harder than I thought. It seems at some point you will have to stop answering every little question? I would still love your blog though. Love the installments and step-by-step pictures.

  11. says

    Thanks for the behind-the-scenes peak at your daily life. I recently launched a new design-related blog and I’m working hard to post regularly and keep it interesting for readers, while at the same time caring for my 1 year old while Daddy is at work. I’m finding it takes a lot more planning to know what/when I will post than my old blog did (it was more of an online diary). I’m enjoying my new blog and also quickly realizing that this could definitely become more of a job than I initially thought! Still, it’s SO MUCH FUN! And sure beats my old day job designing storm sewers…