Why I’m giving Up On My “Design & DIY” Blog

This June marked my five year anniversary of this blog, which I originally created to be a rental decorating and DIY blog.  In those five years I’ve seen so many changes in the blog world, and seen so many even younger blogs become famously successful almost overnight.

At first, I saw my traffic climbing steadily through 2012, but ever since then it’s been steadily decreasing, as the travel and work demands from my day job have increased and I’ve dedicated more hours on my handmade business.

With traffic half of what it was two years ago (14,000 visits a month vs. 30,000) I’ve been questioning my blog’s purpose all year.  With my mom terminally ill and now in hospice care, my somewhat stable little schedule has been temporarily disrupted as Ryan and I are traveling between DC and Delaware regularly to spend time with family but still work. Maybe it’s a weird silver lining, but this situation has made it so clear to me that I need to let go of my vision for the blog.

I remember the days when Young House Love was a baby blog, when there were fewer cliques and design bloggers were all just sharing sincere and real posts about their projects.  Now it feels as though, in order to have a successful design blog you must have magazine-quality photos and staged photos for every post and project you share, and you must have a constant stream of DIY projects and makeovers popping up in your readers’ feeds in order to keep their interest. Also, it seems that many design bloggers are able to constantly make over rooms and buy new furniture.  That’s not in my time or financial budget, nor does it fit with my interest in being eco-friendly.

I’m tired of comparing my home and blog to that of others. I’m not usually that kind of person, but this blog seems to have that effect on me  – and I don’t like it!

I bought a ticket to the Haven conference (which was last week) but then re-sold it a month ago because I felt my blog wasn’t good enough or popular enough and why should I spend all that money to travel only to sit in a conference and feel inadequate.  I know that sounds harsh, but it seemed most of the attendees would be full-time professional bloggers.  And that I am not.  Not by a long shot.

Also, it seems that many design bloggers are able to constantly make over rooms and buy new furniture.  That’s not in my time or financial budget, nor does it fit with my interest in being eco-friendly.

Honestly, while I love design and DIY and want to hone my design skills, do projects, and post about them regularly, I have found that I just can’t, no matter how many times I’ve tried to. Every year my time and travel requirements for the day job increase.  Additionally, I think if I hadn’t started Janery I may have been able to develop a more stable blog, but I’ve finally accepted that I’ve spread myself too thin.

My life is changing right now, and I want to be sure that by next year I’ve changed it in the way that’s right for me. I’m not leaving this blog behind, but its purpose will be adjusted.

I want to blog when I have an awesome DIY project or room makeover to share, but not feel pressured to do it regularly.

I want to feel comfortable blogging in shorter posts, sharing something fun I did without feeling the need to create a tutorial – unless it’s actually a super unique and tricky project.

I want to do more Craigslist Palace posts because that was a ton of fun, getting to decorate an imaginary room with thrifted finds.  But that post took me hours to complete, and I don’t always have that time.

I want to find my style again.  As I type, I’m sitting on my couch and looking at some floral pillows on it.  They’re pretty, but not “me”.  I’ve mostly stopped reading design blogs because I think they were skewing my sense of my personal style. I realized this when Ryan and I went on the mid-century modern home tour.

Right now I’m trying to decide if I should have two part-time blogs or one overall blog.  When the Janery website launches, I’ll have a Janery blog that customers can read.  I’m wondering if I should post my occasional home projects there, or if I should keep them happening here.

I sometimes wish I’d never started a blog, because it’s very hard to let go of it and accept change. But I have met some amazing people through it, and that makes it all worthwhile!  Also, I think I need to focus on what this blog has inspired me to do – like building furniture.  That’s something I never thought I’d do.

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Janery Update: Family first

Sometimes life really has a way of throwing up detours when you try to reach your goals. And this year’s many detours seem to be following a theme – cancer.  Can I just say how much I hate that one illness?

But let’s back up.  I’ve been feeling guilty lately that I had all this hype about the new Janery website and the Charlie Cushion dog beds launching in May, and then it didn’t happen.

Right now my family is my top priority, which is why it’s July and the new shop still hasn’t launched.

My mom is in the hospital and her cancer is out of control.  I’ve spent a lot of time up there and things are only going downhill it seems.  Today her oncologist told my dad and my brother that it’s most likely a matter of weeks.

Jane Mom

So. I’m not going to get into a lot about my feelings for now, but when your mom is dying of a terminal illness and you’re only 35, it really sucks. And seeing your dad’s heart breaking is the worst. Things like your blog and part-time handmade business just suddenly don’t take priority.

Oh, and as if that isn’t bad enough, my awesome little cat Doctor was diagnosed with intestinal lymphoma, a type of cancer, about a month ago.  It’s in the lymph nodes and various parts of the intestines, so we’re not too hopeful.  However, we are meeting with the oncologist who treated Charlie next week. We’ve been cautioned that he may not do well with chemo, so this is just an exploratory visit to weigh our options.  Right now we’re looking at only 6 more months with him if we do nothing.


Before cancer decided to get all up in our lives again, I’d run into some other delays.  First I had  issues with my US suppliers – delays and incorrect orders. I’m still working to sort those out.  It’s also taken me and my graphic designer longer than I expected to get the look of the new website together.

Janery isn’t going away, though.  Behind the scenes I’m still chugging away when I can, although I have to admit my focus isn’t at its best right now.  Last night I sorted through a shipment of dog bed inserts, all made in the USA, and got them labeled and stored in the attic.  I think the UPS man may hate me. . . or maybe just my friend who was cat sitting when these arrived. :)

Janery Dog Bed Shipment

More boxes arrived the next day.  Fortunately Ryan was home to receive them.

So.  Our house is overflowing with dog beds and pillow inserts and supplies.  That means that eventually there will be a new Janery with new products.  Just maybe not as soon as I’d hoped, because family most definitely comes first.


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Janery Studio Chat, Episode 1: A peek at the Charlie Cushion process

Hello, hello! I’m excited because today I have my first Janery Studio Chat video blog for you.  So many times I’ve wanted to make a video to share something, because it’s easier to talk and demonstrate on film rather than to try and write it all out in a long post.

Well, I did it – Ryan helped me record my first video in the studio over a month ago, and this week I finally figured out how to edit the video segments and put them together. In the video I talk about my fabric cutting process, batch sewing, and how I prefer to sew invisible zippers without pinning them in place. I hope you enjoy it! If there’s something you’d like to see me cover in video form, please let me know in the comments!

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