A few months ago I was feeling a little frustrated, for a whole host of reasons.

I think we all have those points.

Although it is never easy to see it when you are in them, I am finding that on the other side of frustration, good things come.

At this particular point I was feeling frustrated with my blog and I realized sometimes you are so deep into your own work it is hard to see it for what it really is.

So I decided to seek help – in the form of some very successful bloggers.

When I entered 2011, I had decided it was going to be my year of putting myself out there and to try not to be too afraid to do things.

There are bloggers out there who have been doing this quite successfully for sometime and would be in a great position to give me some insight. So, I sent out some emails expecting it unlikely that they would be in a position to even respond, but figured what the heck.

I think you might recognize the first lady I contacted.


Kate, from Centsational Girl

I am sure you are already familiar with her, but just in case, Kate’s blog is an amazing resource for high style that is still comfortable, traditional with a modern spin and a high end look without spending a fortune. She also is involved in some incredible charitable programs as well.

Not only did Kate respond, but she gave me some really specific advice and direction that I so greatly appreciated.

"I think your header is lovely but too tall and takes up way too much screen space. I'd move all the pretty pictures below your header to a sidebar slideshow. It's difficult to read your content when you land on your home page. The layout most are accustomed to shows a title of a post, some images and writing and I don’t see that, just a slider to click on articles? People like to see the actual articles they're about to read before clicking on them, often words aren't enough. Like when I see this article on this hyperlink:

https://wordpress-563276-1891071.cloudwaysapps.com /2011/10/halloween-treats.html

That's great! I loooove the simplicity of your site, the clean white is perfect, keep that. Your images are gorgeous, nice and big, clean and pretty, keep that up. Put up some buttons for your feed/connect/subscribe opportunities and install some Google Ads too! Overall, you're off to a fantastic start. Remember, the key to increasing subscribers/readers is to provide consistent good content. It takes time to build, but once you win them over, they'll stick around and even tell their friends."

At the time of this response, I had a “home” page and then you had to “enter” into the blog. From the beginning, I really was not sure about it, but followed the direction of my designer. Kate confirmed my suspicions and I couldn’t get it changed fast enough. The more simplified and better organized layout was put right into action after Kate’s suggestions. I am still working on some changes on my header that I hope to have finished soon.

(For the record, I must note that my dear friend Julie told me the same thing months ago and I didn’t listen to her – sorry Betty!)

Thank you Kate!

I also contacted this lady…


Jen, from Tatertots and Jello

Again, I am quite sure you are already familiar with Jen’s blog, but just in case, Tatertots & Jello is a place where Jen shares her beautifully bright and colorful home, incredible craft and DIY projects that are really doable and she always seems to have a great time in the process. Also, her weekend wrap up parties are HUGE and are incredible resource for ideas. Jen also does summaries from the party that are by category and always very timely – like right now – do you need a last minute neighbor gift or recipe – Jen’s blog is the place to go!

Jen also gave some similar and very specific ideas on changing my layout that confirmed even more the changes that needed to be made. But where she really encouraged me is to engage more with the blog community and feature other blogs. I had already been doing that on Facebook, but with Jen’s suggestion, I began doing Show & Tell Fridays. What I found was that Jen was totally right! I have so enjoyed featuring other people’s works and meeting and engaging with other bloggers that I otherwise would not have.

So, to Jen, I also say heartfelt thanks.

So, why I am telling you this.

First, because I think it is appropriate to publicly thank Kate and Jen (with their permission of course) for taking the time to help me in ways that I think have really impacted my blog for the better.

But also, because I think it has shown me something new that I wanted to share.

Whether you are just starting out or you have been at this a while, the blog community really is a kind and generous place.

I totally understand sometimes it can feel lonely and frustrating because I certainly have been there.

But I am finding that not only is there the opportunity to interact and share with like minded people, but you can find people who are willing to take the time to truly help out.

When I reached out to these ladies, I did so wanting constructive criticism – I didn’t want to hear “You’re great”, I knew I was missing things.

I am so thankful that they were willing to do just that.

And I must note, I contacted another blogger who didn’t respond and that was totally okay.

I am truly hoping that this post is not coming across it any negative ways. I am hoping that this post will encourage you to reach out, whether another blog is big or small, but you like what they have done – reach out to them, maybe they can help you through something. I am hoping you can start to engage more with other bloggers, and to be open to helping out other bloggers as well.

I realize that many of you already do this, but for some of us (Like me!), we take a little prodding and encouragement.

I think Thistlewood Farm did an amazing job of summing up my feeling sometimes in her post, Can I Sit Next To You?. (who by the way is a new blogger and amazing – it is so worth your time to stop by!)

I guess I can’t write this post and not offer my help as well.

Not that I am on the level of experience of Kate and Jen, but if there is any questions you have for me, I would be happy to help you out.

As always, thanks for reading!

December 19, 2011 — Laura Putnam