We’ve once again solicited questions from you guys on Facebook for our blogiversary extravaganza (of the personal, not decorating, variety). And just like we did in 2009 and 2010, we had fun answering a bunch of ’em. We crammed as many responses as we could into 20 minutes, so unfortunately not every one of the 80+ questions got answered, but we figured 20 minutes was already pushing the bounds of an acceptable YouTube video length. Haha. Here are a few things that we cover:
- Our favorite and least favorite qualities in each other
- What our neighbors think about the blog
- If the former owners of our house read the blog
- Our weirdest fan interaction
- Who Clara looks more like
- How we deal with negative criticism
- What we wanted to be when we grew up
- What will happen to our blog name when we’re not young anymore
- If we ever fight or spend time apart
- And most importantly: John’s thoughts on the new Twilight movie
And of course there are a bunch of other questions, a Burger cameo, and John cycles through soda shirts just to keep things spicy. Oh but if you’re at work you can still watch it on mute and try to guess what I’m gesturing wildly about (or wait until tonight and watch it with some popcorn and take a swig of soda every time John changes shirts). Our only video-recording rule is that we’re not allowed to re-answer anything so it’s completely unscripted and sort of an all-one-take kind of thing (that we later edit down just to shorten things/take out the “ummmms” so we can squeeze more answers in). We don’t even read the questions until we’re rolling, so we don’t overthink or overplan – but sometimes we over-share. Haha. Who’s surprised.
And just because we’re chatterboxes, this year we tossed in three bonus business-related answers:
Q: How did you get sponsors? Do you solicit advertising? What’s the secret? First we wrote about 200 posts and had been blogging for a while without even thinking about sponsors, just because it was something we loved to do. We actually had no idea there were even people or companies who sponsored blogs, we just thought of it as a fun creative outlet/diary. Then it slowly dawned on us that because we were gaining more traffic and posting every day, maybe some local folks or small online businesses would like to get a button on our sidebar in exchange for a tiny fee. So we tossed up a “wanna advertise with us?” button just to see what would happen. We thought it would be awesome to make a few extra dollars to put towards projects, but definitely didn’t have high hopes. Much to our surprise and amazement, a few small companies and Etsy vendors emailed us to say that they were happy to give it a try. So we just shared our stats and offered people a flat fee for the month and a slightly discounted fee for the quarter.
To this day we actually still use the same system. There are definitely more intricate ways of charging sponsors (like per click, per view, etc) and even more complex ways of calculating rates. But we decided to keep it simple and start with a flat rate that we felt was fair (based on what we saw other sites charging with comparable traffic) and just let the sponsors tell us if it was too high (and if they did, we’d adjust). If it was too low, well, we love a deal – so we figured why not offer one ourselves (after all, we were satisfied with that rate since we were the ones who came up with it). That system seems to be working for everyone, so much so that we haven’t raised our rates in almost two years (despite a great increase in traffic since then).
When it comes to managing sponsorships, we use Google Ad Manager to organize everything. It not only serves the ads to our site, but also helps us keep track of expirations so John can send renewal emails / invoices. So it’s a bit of paperwork on our end, but completely worth the effort since our sponsors are a big part of what makes this blog possible. There’s definitely not a get rich quick aspect to blogging (at least not in our experience), but we’ve seen that by focusing on content first and readers second, the sponsors will gradually fall into place.
Q: Do you have to post a certain amount of times each month for sponsors? Nope, as we mentioned above, they pay a flat fee per month so no traffic or amount of posts are expected or promised. We’ve just posted 1-2 times a day about the same range of stuff for the past few years, so it’s a pace that works for us. Some juicy stuff + some light stuff + some personal stuff = a comfortable mix. Posting in some sort of regular rhythm provides structure and helps keep our creative juices flowing. If we stopped blogging every time we were in a rut or ran into a snafu we worry we might never start again. Gotta keep that momentum up! <– picture me in a bodysuit and legwarmers saying this in a sing-song-y voice a la workout videos from the eighties
Q: Aren’t you scared to have so little job security when your whole family’s income relies on this blog? We’re not gonna lie, it can freak us out if we think about it too much. But we’ve squirreled away the recommended amount of “safety net savings” to fall back on if this ol’ blog suddenly grinds to a halt (which we built up before John came on full time as some sort of “insurance” to quell the nerves). We also have side gigs (like our column for BabyCenter and Do It Yourself magazine along with the book that we’re writing), so that helps us feel semi-diversified.
We also both left advertising on very good terms with former employers/clients, so that’s another road we could explore if we ever needed to (and John still takes on the occasional advertising consulting job on the side, just to keep his toe in the water). In the end I always say that five years ago we had no idea we’d be here doing this, so trying to figure out what we’ll be doing in five more years is probably an exercise in futility. We just do our best to keep chugging along and try not to let the neurotic thoughts creep in!
So there it is, twenty minutes of video evidence confirming that we’re dorks and three bonus bidness questions. What surprised you guys most? Was it the fact that I make up sayings that aren’t really sayings and then collapse into a ball of giggles? Or that John is so into Twilight movies? Will anyone else help me make “I took that baby to the market and carried it home” a real saying? Come on, it’s kind of catchy…
Update – Some of the most frequent requests that we get are for info about professionally blogging (how we made our site, how we grew our following, how we make money, etc) so we shared all of the details about how we started a blog, grew our traffic, and turned it into a full time job.
mike @ the lil house that could says
Love how open and transparent you are; really shows much you love your business.
Future Mama says
Totally agree! I am learning so much!!
cant wait to watch this when im not at work :) you guys rock at what you do! keep it up!
Kristen @ Popcorn on the Stove says
Can’t wait to watch the video with sounds on when I get home from work. I love these Q&A’s!
Rachel Tatem says
It is amazing how this works and even more amazing how you are sharing all your tips and secrets!
What are the answers? I’m deaf so I can’t understand you both that well :)
I’m not sure if you’re aware, but youtube has caption capabilities. I’m not sure how it works adding it to a video. You will definitely add more readership from this among many awesome things you’ve done!
Thanks so much Petra! We’ll have to look into those!!
So sorry! In general we said that we do fight and spend time apart (we’re real people, haha) and we think Clara looks more like John and that we think our neighbors think the blog is cool (it made the neighborhood newsletter) and that the former owners of our house do read the blog, and that John hates Twilight movies. Hahah.
Elle sees says
Loved it and giggled right along!
Go ahead…quiz me!
Ya’ll are adorable!
Happy blogiversary! I still remember the very first post I read when I found your blog over a year ago…since then I have visited daily and can’t wait to read the book! Keep it up y’all!
What a great video. I love the music. Very 80’s!!!!! You guys are really great!
Aww, you guys look so happy to be together and doing what you do. Keep it up!
My favourite bit had to be what John said to that person about how Sherry is peeing too! That is totally the sort of thing I’d say.
Crystal Verbeke says
I must have paused this 10x due to my sons sudden demands to read books (because he clearly didn’t have my undivided attention during the video rolling). During the pauses I never got ugly-pause-faces from you guys! How disgusting is that? ;P
The video was really sweet. I tried to think of what it would be like for me and my husband to make a 20 minute video answering questions about ourselves, and the very thought made me want to go face a corner and rock myself with my hands over my ears. I appreciate your candor.
(For the record, I’m the corrector of the house, even though my husband is an English professor! Gotta love the articulate guys!)
Relevant Notes says
There goes my productive morning…! That was awesome guys, loved learning some new things about you and seeing you have so much fun with it all.
Stephanie Elise says
I love the video! You both crack me up and I love the easy way you relate to one another. You obviously have a great relationship!
Also, I’m glad that you answered the question about being recognized! We live in Delaware and a few times our weekends in Bethany have overlapped, and after I read you guys were there I wonder what I would say if I ever saw you down there antique shopping. (Answer: I’d be awkward.)
I live in Delaware and I was thinking the same thing… It’s such a small state and I wouldn’t be surprised to see you guys!
This is so cute. I enjoyed this.
That was awesome! You guys have such a great vibe, it’s really fun to see you in action together. My better half and I were actually crying with laughter in some parts. Thanks for sharing the video lurve!
Jade Payne says
You guys are crazy! I love it. Aaaaaaaaand you totally didn’t answer my question :) No judgements, just sayin’ haha. I know tons of people dream of being your friends and often DO refer to yall as their “friends” in Richmond.. Like we actually KNOW anyone in Richmond. haha
Great video, yall. It had my grinning ever so dweebily.
i have a question for you guys that you might have addressed before, so feel free to direct me there, but: what did you do with all of the stuff from your first house that didn’t work in the new house? how much of your old house’s furniture made it into your current place? (i’m thinking of the couches from your living room and den and other miscellaneous furniture, but also the framed prints and other decor stuff.)
i recently moved to a new apartment so it’s been interesting for me to see what made the transition with me and what i decided wouldn’t work in the new space, so i was wondering how you dealt with that, especially since your style has changed a fair amount since your first place.
Such a good question! We should do a post about where things went and what stayed and all that! In short, we craigslisted the sofas from the den and living room since we were investing in Karl the sectional, and reused many other things (all frames, all of Clara’s furniture, our sunroom furniture is pretty much the same, we still have the same TV stand etc). Some things also moved into other places (our old dining table is now in our kitchen, our old console table by the door is in the frame hallway, our old dresser is in the guest room, our sunroom pedestal table and den desk are in the living room, etc). Hope it helps!
What a great couple and great family. An inspiration to all.
Jade Payne says
and PS I love your hairband S!
I was smiling and laughing all along! How the hell do you guys manage that? :)
You guys are great! Loved the video and the random shirt changes. I was at Target yesterday and saw everyone of them!
Keep up the amazing work on the blog!
hahahaha….I couldn’t stop laughing at the “Oh! That’s what Sherry is doing!”
Thanks for sharing with us!
Sherry, as long as you keep color in your home, wear all the black you like! You both keep me motivated to keep writing on my blog. I try to post everyday but sometimes it hard with work. It’s fun and my friends and family always say how much they enjoy keeping up with our home/lives.
That was adorable.
I’m about to watch the video — whew, 20 minutes of nonstop adorable! — but I did wanna say that I love that you guys were a bit freaked out about the whole “omg full time blogging” thing ’cause it’s definitely how I felt between finishing university and starting my current job. :)
Okay, now that I’ve watched the video, this was so adorable, I just don’t even! I kept cracking up; y’all are just too much. :D
Kaytie @ GardenKitchenHome says
Happy Blogiversary! I don’t comment that often, but I’ve been reading you guys for what feels like forever. (Though apparently less than four years!)
Love what you guys do! Keep it up!
Devon @ Green House, Good Life says
What’s in the pink vase behind you guys?
They’re actually chopsticks collected from special dinners. You can read more about them here: https://www.younghouselove.com/2010/01/pick-up-sticks/
Devon @ Green House, Good Life says
Are you sure? I see the sticks in the round vase over Sherry’s shoulder, but the pink one behind John seems to have something bigger (and maybe shiny?). Sorry to belabor the issue — I just can’t figure out what that is. If I had to guess, I’d say teeny-tiny light bulbs in the kind of packaging some OTC medicines come in…I’m guessing that’s not it.
Oh sorry, you’re totally right. I was looking at the wrong vase (duh). Those are photostrips of us from various occasions. We try to get one snapped on anniversaries and Valentine’s Day and keep a bunch of them on our desk in a vase.
Devon @ Green House, Good Life says
Oh, now I see it. Thanks.
Since it clearly wasn’t white ceramic animals, I should have guessed it would be photostrips with you guys. : )
Haha, we’re predictable folks.
Liz K. says
What a fun video! Your joy in your family and what you’re doing right now is contagious. I feel the need to hug my kids and go paint the bathroom. :)
I listened/watched at work with headphones, but there is no way to quietly laugh out loud :) Thanks for that.
Also, John’s babycenter post is very touching…but I’m pregnant, so maybe that’s why I cried??? Yeah, that’s it, pregnancy hormones.
Aw that’s sweet! It caught me off guard too. Such a sentimental dude. Haha.
I had tears, too. not pregnant. =) John’s the best.
Happy Blogiversary Guys,
Raising a glass to many more!
Melody G. says
I love the graphic you made with the YHL heart! You should make that into art for your wall! :)
Totally agree, I was actually going to suggest that when I replied! :)
You all are adorable. It is true, us new bloggers all want to be bffs with you. Sherry, I love your ball of giggles. And finally, hearing your voices help when I read your blog to put your voice to your words.
I had to laugh because when John started talking about your worst quality being when you get fired up there’s no pausing I was thinking before you even said it “that’s because she’s Italian!”. I’m Italian and that would describe me to a tee as well.
Picturing Clara getting frustrated over putting the egg back together…too cute!
What a great video! I’m sitting here grinning like a dork at work… and yes, people most definitely want to be your BFF :)
Ditto! I totally want to be your best friend, and yes, sitting at work grinning. Loved it!
You guys are awesome. :)
Great video! It’s fun watching you guys together. Happy #4!
So fun to watch – thanks guys! And my question got answered first! :)
jennie deloach says
first time posting, but read your blog every day!! love you guys, you are adorable….love your blog, your decorating and can’t wait for book!!! i’m 63 yr old (just so u know somebody “old” reads your blog) grandmother so you are ages of my kids….btw, loved, loved your housecrashing of your parents house….i could go on and on but i know you have to read this….so, main thing is….keep blogging, i love it!!!! oh and loved video!!!! jennie in tn <
You guys are so darn adorable! I really do wish you were my friends. And I love that John doesn’t drink- I grew up in the same kind of household and am the same way. You have exactly the kind of life I’d love to have with my fiance someday (but maybe a different kind of work from home…I’ve started and given up on like 5 blogs)!
Sherry – not to be depressing, but you’ll probably never *feel* like you have your old body back – at least, I’m not there yet and it’s been 4 years. Good news is that it’s probably mostly in your mind, because you look great! :)
Aw thanks Cheryl!
LOL.. love the tshirt changes John. Kinda like hosting the Emmy’s right?
Thanks for sharing your cute selves with all us nosey readers.
Ha! EXACTLY like hosting the Emmy’s. Just gotta work on a better musical number for the opening.
Fun video! Always nice to learn more about the people you read about everyday :) Keep up the good work!!
I think I love John even more for saying he doesn’t drink alcohol. I’m the same way and I was like, awww, HE IS JUST LIKE ME.
Except not Australian and female.
Ha! Just some minor differences…
Yay! More sober friends! :)
You guys are the best. And I think you are more famous than you realize… and people do want to be your friends!
Let me just echo Erica and add that I think we are all just a little bit weird.
Haha. Maybe the weirdness is what unites us.
Jennifer Lentz says
I want to thank you for sharing a portion of your lives with the rest of us. I think it is great what you do with your home. I have been inspired to try new things with my home and love all the details you provide. You have introduced me to some great sites (Pinterest!) that keep me motivated to be creative.
PS Would totally love you guys as BFFs and I think most who read your blog would agree with me.
Nikki P says
Wait… did I miss the contest to count how many soda shirts John changed into?!?!
So cute! Loved this!
Next time we’ll have to make more of a game out of it. :)
Happy Blogiversary! Thanks for taking the time to answer so many questions.
This is actually my first comment in blogiversary week, I really loved all the posts, especially the “a day in the life” one. I just noticed on monday that you started blogging the same time I started my PhD, and now I’m writing my thesis and will submit it in 4 weeks. Wow, a lot happened during that time! I turned my life to the better and your blog was a major inspiration source to be finally able to do this. So, thanks so much and keep up the great work! (And, I think more people dream of being your BFFs than you think, haha.)
I loved the Q&A video, but I loved the BabyCenter post even more. Such an interesting perspective!
I loved the video– it made me laugh out loud more than once!
Weird site problem: today the page loads perfectly, but after a few seconds the background pattern disappears, the font gets a little bigger, and in general it looks like maybe the CSS stops working so well?
STRANGE! We’re not seeing that on our end. Anyone else? Here’s hoping it clears itself up soon.
I didn’t notice at first, but it is doing that for me as well. The background disappears within a second or two of the page loading
I have noticed that it will “blink” away for a second (it’s the result of new caching measures we had to put in place to keep the site running) but I it always comes back for me. Sorry if that’s not the case. I’ll see if I can get to the bottom of it. Thanks for chiming in.
The font looks different for me, too.
Having that same problem here. I didn’t have any issues when you switched a couple of weeks ago. I originally thought you switched it again, but apparently not!
I am getting that, too! :(
Boo. Sorry guys. I’m in the waiting room at the dentist so can’t do much on my phone, but will look into it once I’m home. Maybe some stray code that’s getting in the way.
Hey again. I’m home now and didn’t notice anything obvious on our end (we haven’t made any technical changes for several days) so I’m hoping it’s just one of those kinks that gets worked out in a day or so (like when a few folks couldn’t see our images a few days ago). Please keep me posted on if it persists and sorry I don’t have an immediate solution.
The grey heart background always stays for me — and the white background right behind the words blinks away slowly, but comes back so it’s not a problem. Just saying what’s described above isn’t happening to everyone.
Hope you get a clean bill of health at the dentist!
Hey John Sherry…it is your style sheet dropping out that is causing these problems…never come across this before so don’t really know what to suggest.
Love the T shirt changes in the video!
Good luck at the dentist!
Hmm, it could be – but we haven’t changed anything on our end so I don’t know why that would happen to a small group of people. So strange. We’re open to any ideas! If it’s like the case of the missing photos a few weeks back, they just disappeared for a small group of readers and then came back on their own about 24 hours later. Total mystery.
Sounds like a caching issue, are you using a new plugin?
That’s a great thought but no! It’s so odd because we haven’t even updated WordPress or changed anything other than posting the post this morning (the same way we always do it). John even looked for rogue code in the HTML but all looks normal. We do have caching plug ins that run to keep us from crashing, but it’s the same system we’ve had running for the last month+ or so. Super odd.
Everything looks fine on my end. :) Except I haven’t been notified that I won the $500 gift certificate to West Elm. hehehe just sayin ;)
Haha- the contest closes tonight at 8 and winners will be announced tomorrow! Cross those fingers!
just chiming in to mention that the background is showing up fine and normal for me today even though it was showing issues for me yesterday :-)
Wahoooooooo! That’s beyond exciting to us. So glad.