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Marry Your Blog to Your Life … and Watch it Take Off

This guest post is by Tsh Oxenreider of Simple Mom.

I’ve watched in wonder how my blog has grown since it launched in early 2008. It started as a hobby blog, and has since morphed into an income-generating network of five sites, complete with a loyal community of readers, four other editors, and a family of more than 20 contributors. I got a book deal about two years into my blog’s inception, and it’ll be on bookshelves worldwide in just a few weeks. No doubt, those hours of soaking up every bit of wisdom here at ProBlogger have paid off, and then some.

I love what I do, and I love that I can earn revenue doing something I would do for free if I had to.

What’s my secret? He’s about 6’2 tall, likes his coffee black, and as I write this, is currently driving the minivan taking our daughter to school.

Yep, that’s right. It’s my husband.

There is absolutely no way my writing career would be where it is now without Kyle working right alongside me. I’m the main voice of Simple Mom, sure, but he tirelessly does many of the behind-the-scenes tasks so that the blog succeeds. Together, we work hard to make the network thrive, and as a fortuitous blessing, our marriage is strengthened.

Now, I’m not saying you have to be married, or have a partner, to have a successful blog.

But I do think a blog works better when it’s married to your real life. Let me explain how.

Just what does he do?

1. He and I tag-team with the kids and housework.

I’m blessed that Kyle also works from home. Every Sunday, we scribble out our family calendar for the upcoming week, allotting work times for the both of us. When one of us is working, the other one is the primary parent on duty, and is also in charge of the dishes in the sink and tackling Mt. Laundry.

Ultimately, I normally write several mornings a week while my oldest is in kindergarten, and my husband takes charge of our younger two. He also oversees dinner one night per week, giving me some extra time to edit posts and handle email.

This is an unbelievable help in keeping the blog running. We’re a family with little kids, and it’s a busy season of life. Being a mom is still my full-time job, and it definitely takes more of my attention, physically and emotionally, than blogging ever could. There is no way I could run a blog as large as Simple Mom without a parenting partner in crime.

2. He handles delegated tasks, such as email and accounting.

My husband is actually the first person to see the email that comes through my blog’s contact form, not me. He forwards me the emails he thinks I need to see—reader comments and questions, or PR requests worth a look. I created a set of pre-formatted emails for him to use for the mail that contains the most frequently asked questions, such as requests to do giveaways, or the occasional blogging question. The answers are still from me, but I don’t have to write them from scratch every time, and he can quickly reply to those people without having to wait until I’m free.

And I get a truckload of mail that could easily be deleted, but it still stresses me out to see them. Letting his eyeballs be the one to scan through all the fluff and mass-generated emails works well for us. They don’t bother him.

Kyle also handles all the accounting for the network. He keeps up with all our transactions, from hosting service payments to ebook purchases, by automatically transferring our Paypal account to Outright and handling things there.

These tasks take him ten to 15 minutes per day, tops, because he’s set up a system that works for him, and he tackles this housekeeping daily. If I waited to deal with it when I had time, it would take me hours where I could otherwise write. And I’d want to curl up in the fetal position and cry, because I’m horrible at these sorts of things.

3. His male perspective gives me ideas I would never think of.

Believe it or not, only 72% of the Simple Mom readership is female. Yes, that’s the majority, but it means over a quarter of our readers are male. I’d be remiss to write solely to females, and leave a sizable chunk of my readership by the wayside. The blog is much more about the ins and outs of intentional living than it is about wearing the mama hat.

Kyle helps me think of post ideas I wouldn’t have considered—not only because he’s a guy, but also because he’s a parent, too. I’m blessed to work in a blog niche that’s directly related to my everyday life as a parent. But sometimes, I’m so entrenched in the thick of it that I don’t see clearly. My husband provides an additional perspective.

He’s the one who came up with the idea of writing posts about family mission statements, and pizza Fridays, and he recently came up with the brilliant idea for my next book proposal.

4. He’s my best cheerleader and most helpful critic.

He’s there when I need to stay up late to fix some code. He lets me vent to him when I get harsh emails from readers. And his eyes teared up when I opened the envelope holding the advance copy of my book when it arrived in the mail a few weeks ago. His positive attitude and cheerful perspective keeps me going on those days when I want to walk away from the blog.

Likewise, Kyle will also let me know when an idea I have is just dumb. Or when I’m taking criticism too personally. Or when I need to say “no” to a PR request or guest posting offer. Or when I’m too focused on the blog and need to change the baby’s diaper instead. His perspective keeps me grounded and optimistic.

What can you do?

Again, I’m not saying you need to be married to have a successful blog. But I believe a blog will have a better chance of success if it’s part of your real life.

It’s easy to see a blog as a one-man-or-woman show, but there are lots of things behind the laptop screen we don’t see. Simple Mom would not be doing as well as it is without Kyle’s help, plain and simple. It’s not a one-woman show, by any stretch.

When we keep our blog aligned to our offline life, we aren’t as pulled in as many directions. It can even enhance our lives, our families, and our marriages. When Kyle helps me, we work together. We talk, we spend time together, and we focus on the same thing. Our relationship is enriched by it.

Blogging takes a lot of work, and the to-do list is never really done. Are there some tasks you can delegate to those around you? Can you tap into your spouse’s strengths and ask him or her to help out?

Maybe you’ve got a friend who’d enjoy collaborating with you. Ask her or him to run your blog’s newsletter (my friend Jenny does). Maybe get one of your friends to act as a sounding board for your post ideas. Or if the grandparents live nearby, see if they can watch your kids once or twice a month so that you can get a chunk of writing done.

Let your blog enhance your offline life, and recruit those around you to help. And watch it take off.

How do you use the help of others to run your blog?

Tsh is the main voice behind Simple Mom, is editor-in-chief of Simple Living Media, and her first book, Organized Simplicity, hits bookstores next month. Follow her on Twitter to learn how to handle cloth diapers and Silly Bandz obsessions, and to chat about why less really is more.

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Comments

  1. Love it! My techie husband is the one who wrote all the programming software that I used when I had 100s of portal sites online back in 2004-2007 or so – couldn’t have done it without him.

    It’s great when there’s a true partnership in one’s marriage – both online and off.

  2. Imagine my delight at finding one of my favorite bloggers writing here. Thanks Tsh for your words. I am not a professional blogger but I couldn’t do the little I that I do at FIMBY with my wonderful husband. Yay for supportive partners!

  3. My first comment ever on Problogger, and all because it’s you, Tsh! Thanks for your wise words. What a blessing that your husband is so supportive of your blog’s mission. It shows through loud and clear by its strong sense of family purpose and intentionality. My husband has just started helping me with the financial side of my blog, but I am forwarding this post to him. I’d love to get his creative juices flowing a bit in the midst of our bedlam (if that’s possible for an accountant…he’s the one that keeps the beauty a float. :)).

  4. Maya says:

    Tsh!

    So awesome to see your guest post at ProBlogger :)
    Having been a long time contributor on the Simplemom blog, I know exactly HOW good you are at so many aspects of managing and maintaining a blog.

    I am starting to have a team of bloggers myself for my business blog. An editorial calendar is a must and so is making my work calendar visible to my husband and every single person on my team – since he is such an integral part of my blog workings.

    Thanks! I have learned a great deal from you :)

  5. Very thought provoking for me. Thanks. As an Organizing Professional and a mom, I’ll be interested in seeing your book when it hits the shelves.

  6. Hi Tsh – I love this post! It makes me appreciate my own Mr. Right and all he does to help my writing and my blog. Cool to hear about another husband that supports and encourages his wife.
    Take care,
    Melissa

  7. I write for two blogs. One of my blogs is co-authored with my brother.

    It’s wonderful not having to write every single post for one of my blogs. And the fact that we proof each other’s post before they go live ensures our writing is better than it otherwise would be.

    Yeah, having someone to help out can be a huge plus as you’ve demonstrated so clearly.

  8. My husband works from home too and I could NEVER do this without his support! My husband doesn’t help me directly with my blog (although he does throw out some great ideas sometimes!) but he is my biggest fan and cheerleader. He is always right there to do the housework and all the other stuff I might not be able to do without his help.

    Great post, Tsh!!!

  9. A supportive husband is indeed a wonderful thing. Mine has a standing invitation to write for my blog, but hasn’t taken me up on it. I think I need to remind him.

  10. Tsh!

    What a wonderful surprise to read your guest post! You and Darren have been instrumental in the growth of The Mogul Mom.

    Kyle sounds like a dream…you’re a lucky lady and we SimpleMom subscribers are lucky to have both of you heading up such a fantastic blog. :D

    Congratulations on your success…wishing you much more of it!

    Heather

  11. Hannah says:

    He sounds like a total gem, and you all sound like a terrific team. Is this his full-time job as well — i.e. the blog supports both of you?

    I can’t believe you get “harsh emails from readers.” Not that I think you’re making that up, but I simply cannot fathom why anyone could be that ruffled by anything on Simple Mom. Your posts are thoughtful but not controversial or provocative, IMO. (I always wonder why someone would take the time to write a harsh email anyway — life’s too short!)

  12. tacy says:

    My husband has been my support as well – primarily by keeping me courageous enough to share my ideas in the blogging medium. You are so right- what a gift that is to have the collaboration and support of the people around us!

  13. i couldn’t do the little blogging I do without my hubby, either! He has done the dishes many evenings so I can do a post, or taken the kids on an outing so I can work a little. What a man! But really, this ties in with every area of our life. Whether it’s blogging or ministry, or homeschool, or diy stuff. Whatever is going on, we manage to do it together.

    We just do life together :-)

  14. jason says:

    Very nice to see a perspective with some romaniticism. I hope to have the same working relationship with my wife at some point, so it’s great for you to give me something to aspire to.

  15. Great post, Tsh.

    I only started my blog a few months ago, but husband has been invaluable…web design, brainstorming posts, constructive criticism, and lots of encouragement. Honestly, I don’t think I’d even be blogging without him. My nine year old has been a big help too, proofing posts and brainstorming. (Cheers guys!)

    Thanks again.

    Cheers,
    Renee

  16. Having a partner who supports and encourages my blogging has been such a gift. He’s getting pretty good at promoting it in his circle and bringing me new readers too!

  17. My husband is really not involved in my blog at all. I’d like to say he was but… You are very lucky to have all that help and understanding. Perhaps if/when my blog ever starts paying, he will take more interest in it. Right now, my freelancing pays bills :)

  18. Tsh and Kyle, you make a great team! Congratulations on the success of SLM and your upcoming book. Thank you for helping me do more with less and appreciate the time I have with my partners in life, my family.

  19. Good post….

    I’m not married, but my girlfriend helped me with my blog several times.

    She gave me photos, interesting sites… If I remember right, from it I find out about Problogger… she even reviewed a few posts, looking for grammatical errors. Also she is my biggest and best critic. ;)

    Of course, I agree that it is not necessary to have a relationship in order to have a successful blog, but it’s nice…

  20. Annie Kate says:

    What an inspiring post! Although my husband isn’t involved in my blog, he makes it possible for me to work on it and encourages me. So do my five wonderful children. When appropriate, they even help me evaluate review products!

    Blessings,

    Annie Kate

  21. angela pan says:

    I LOVE this post! This totally sounds like me and my boyfriend. I have a photography site, http://www.abpan.com and he helps me out so much. He’s a web developer and my website would be no where if it weren’t for him. He’s also not afraid to tell me when he doesn’t like my latest pic or if when I’m starting to slack.

    Cheers to all the great significant others and this great blog post!

  22. Thanks everyone!

    @Hannah — Yep, I think critical mail is par for the course as a blog grows. To be honest, I’ve developed some pretty thick skin, so it’s getting easier and easier. I’m almost even getting to the point where I can laugh at the truly ridiculous ones (you know, where I’m accused of hating witches… truly).

    @Bamboo Forest — That’s great you blog with your brother. I only recently found out that my brother blogs, too, and is actually quite successful at it. He blogs anonymously because it could affect his offline job, so he didn’t want anything to leak. When he pointed me to his writing, though, I was blown away. A totally different type of blog than Simple Mom. But so great. Maybe one day I’ll get him to co-write with me as well…

  23. I’ve been working on an e-book on positive guidance, and though I’m the one with the MS degree in child development, I joked that I should call the book, “Everything I Know About Parenting I Learned from My Husband”. Just like you said, he just puts a different spin on things that I don’t think of on my own. That and he’s willing –not just willing, but volunteers– to wrestle three little boys on his days off so I can write. I also have amazing friends who are better writers than I am, who give their insights, proofread, ask tough questions, and are willing to give me honest feedback. I’ve learned a lot from them!
    Congrats on your book! I’m excited to read it…and the rest to follow!

  24. Amy says:

    I hadn’t thought about having my husband as a blog partner! Sometimes I’ll turn to him for blog titles but that’s as far as it’s gone. He’s pretty good at leaving me alone when I’m blogging though. That’s appreciated.

  25. elamb says:

    Dear SimpleMom,

    All my attempts at collaboration have failed… even when I give money.. Am I surrounded by crazy people?

    Anyway, congrats on your well earned success. You have accomplished many my dreams in 2 years. I am inspired to do better.

  26. So true. Sometimes I think we bloggers tend to be so protective of our work. Great reminder to bring the whole family into it.

  27. Elias says:

    Finding a balance between family and business is crucial as well. Relations like these can easily be destroyed if there is no good chemistry between the 2 spouses. It seems that you managed it very well :) congrats

  28. Hooray for husbands!

    I’m so inspired by this. My blog is just getting off the gorund and it has definitely caused tension between the two of us at points. However, when we’ve worked together, it has really inspired both if us.
    Firstly, I write about slow cooking which has taken evening meal prep off my hubby’s shoulders most nights. He also loves helping taste and test the recipes.
    He’s also enjoying thinking about how different actions change the stats and works in a related field. We are both learning on the job so we we bounce ideas about links and forums off each other and share ideas.
    Most of all, he’s my encourager and rock when I get the glums.

    Such a wise post, Tsh and I will definitely be sharing it with my chief cheerleader first.
    Do hope you post more here as a big fan of Simple Mom

  29. Connie Myres says:

    >>How do you use the help of others to run your blog?<<
    I have a new blog about health and home topics and it has a 'teen' section. I've tried to get my teenagers to write some articles for that section. Even with the offer of paying them 2 cents a word, they haven't taken me up on the offer yet. I think a teens perspective would be great and besides, writing is a good skill that should be fostered. Thanks for the post!

  30. My husband has never been the type to wonder aloud why I’m always on the computer, and in fact is excited and eager to see me succeed in any capacity I choose.

    Having said that, it’s hard to dedicate structured time to treating my blogging as “work” when it isn’t to that level yet. We’re stuck in a holding pattern, because that’s where I’m TRYING to get, but not there yet, and so how to justify pulling his resources of time and attention away from the work that puts the bread on the table? It’s sort of a Catch -22.

  31. Hi, Tsh! The vision of your husband being so proud and supportive is very, very touching. My personal Mr. Right isn’t much of a house cleaner – truth be told, I prefer it that way. I know where everything goes and the boy would just muck everything up. And Heaven forbid if he ever tried to encroach upon my kitchen!

    He supports and helps me in other ways. He’s very encouraging when he thinks I’ve written an especially good article or posted a recipe to my food blog that he particularly enjoyed.

    He forwards me tons of stories he knows I’d like to write about and often shares my recipes, posts, and blogs with his Twitter followers and friends.

    My daughters also are great about showing me stories and/or quotes they know I’d love.

    Mostly, my husband, daughters, and cats are simply inspirational to me. They inspire everything I do simply by existing in my world.

  32. Yes yes YES! My husbands constant positivity and support is instrumental in my achieving what I have achieved this year.

    Other than editing and kind words, he is the first person to really understand, support and get excited about my hair brained ideas and together we have created some real magic with our projects.

    3 cheers to supportive amazing people… hip hip…

  33. Jason says:

    “I’d be amiss to write solely to females, and leave a sizable chunk of my readership by the wayside. ”

    I think you mean you’d be remiss….”amiss” is not a word… ;)

  34. Carolee says:

    Nice post- how great is it that you two get to work together!

  35. vicky89 says:

    who can be your best partner in your life to share your feelings and talk your heart out. except your spouse.
    nice blog

  36. Simple Mom is one of my favorite blogs, and inspired me to start my own. Thanks Tsh for this great perspective on blogging with a partner.

    I didn’t realize how hard it is to blog until I started. My husband has been great, helping me take pictures and looking at my graphic design. Perhaps he could do even more though . . . hmmmm . . . :)

  37. Oh my! I just couldn’t explain the feeling to read my very very own story here. My hubby is just as what you explain here, right from supporting me with blog ideas (male perspective) to washing dishes and changing diapers for my 5 months old. He actually makes sure if my to-do list is done and sometimes holds my coffee after dinner if I have an un-crossed item on my to-do list. I am blessed!

    Thanks for writing it out Tsh

  38. Tami Heim says:

    Great word today! I too am blessed with a remarkable husband and family that fully supports me. We own everything we do individually as a total family. A day doesn’t pass that I don’t feel overwhelmed with gratitude for them. Me=Blessed.

  39. I do so agree with this. I am doing it alone and sadly at times I get so overwhelmed that I end up neglecting my little blog I have going on. I am going to apply some of your tips and see how it works for me. Thank you so much.

  40. Lee says:

    My wife and I have the same relationship. We’re also homeschooling our kids, and I’m starting a business at home. She organizes our lives, teaches the kids, and generally helps me have the space to create my dream business, which is my seo business. In a way, I think it takes an engaged partner to make this sort of thing work.

  41. Thanks, everyone, for your kind words, and for sharing your stories! They’re fun to read.

    @Stacey – I know, this blogging thing can be a catch-22, can’t it? In order to make it financially successful, you need to spend a lot of time working on it. But in order to spend lots of time on it, you need it to be financially viable to justify the time you spend.

    Honestly, one of the best things I did for Simple Mom at the beginning was to take advantage of those seasons of time where I had more time than others. As an example, when my second was a newborn, I read a lot of Problogger and learned how to run a blog as a business. I nursed most of the day, so I was just sitting there, with my laptop perched on the arm of my chair.

    Once I no longer had those hours of nursing throughout the day, my blog was up and running a bit more. It was still a lot of work, and yes, I spent time writing, editing, coding, and networking for free. I didn’t see any payoff until later. But I am so glad I spent those early days learning how to do it right, when I had that time to just sit and read.

    And now that I don’t have as much time to read, I use my time running the blog. I’m still very busy being both a mom and a blogger. But it’s a bit easier now. And I take advantage of those little seasons that come my way, knowing they may not be in my life next month.

  42. Sherry-Ann says:

    This was really a great read, thanks so much for all you do for us enjoying your Blog. I can’t say how much it means to us who read it! thanks again!!

  43. After reading this post in my email, I just had to come over and tell you how awesome I think this is!!
    I recently brought my husband on board and he is for the most part, writing and handling my second blog. It’s funny seeing him stay up late to finish a post instead of falling asleep on the couch at 8 p.m., or choosing to stay home and work on the blogs instead of going out with some friends. He has totally been biten by the blogging bug…and I’m LOVING it!
    Yesterday he took a sick day to help me prepare my cupcakes for Cupcake Tuesday, toward the end of the day, he was beat, and admitted, he didn’t really realize all that I did in a day.
    YAY!!! For husbands!!
    ~Liz

  44. Barbara says:

    Nice post, and so true that a team is the best way to survive. And, @jason… she has a book coming out… how about you?
    Thanks for the post!

  45. Being married to a serious, professional blogger has definitely helped me. I think I need to get even MORE help from him in this regard. It’s amazing to me how well he manages his blog will a couple hundred thousand visits a month. I can’t even figure out how to make money with mine :)

  46. Lin E says:

    I’m married to Thurston Howell the Fourth. He is the man of my dreams!

  47. tarryn says:

    That is a great story I hope I get there one day – I think the best advice here is make it your life!

  48. Jean Gogolin says:

    I guess i’ll be the voice of the solo blogger. Truth be told, nearly everything is easier with a partner. But blogging and all the rest CAN be done alone if you don’t have a partner or lose the one you had.

  49. You? A dumb idea? Never, Tsh!

    Thanks for the insight into behind the scenes with SimpleMom.

    I’m suggesting my husband read this right now and it’s given us plenty to talk about tonight. He’s hugely supportive in so many ways, with the kids, the housework…the techie stuff. I particularly appreciate the fresh pair of eyes that he lends to my writing almost daily. If anything would ever be *amiss* (hi jason) in my work, he would be the one to pick up on it.

    As for best cheerleader? Two thumbs up!

  50. Elena says:

    Tsh,

    Congratulations to you and Kyle for all that you are accomplishing together. I’m blessed to have a wonderful husband as well and that definitely makes a HUGE difference in my life.

    When your new book comes out in a few weeks, make sure to track it’s Amazon sales rank on Metric Junkie- http://www.metricjunkie.com- it’s a free service (and my husband’s the creator:))

    Congratulations on your success!!!

    Elena