In the BlogLight with HomeTalk, a HomeTalk Interview … aka The Story of Our Blog OR …
It’s a Party in the Front, but All Business in the Back
This article today will be shared with some of the many talented and creative home type bloggers that participate in this still growing social community.
Miriam sent some questions, and I am going to do my best to answer them, well, the best I can. Thanks for having me M, and here we go … Let’s go!
HomeTalk: How did you first get into blogging?
So … this is how it went: Having been laid off from my job with the big builder Toll Brothers, I began working on a business plan. While working through such things as branding, graphics, etc. with old friend and Long Island-based graphic artist & painter Jack Pierce, Jack says to me, “Have you ever considered blogging?” I guess he couldn’t keep up with all the reading I was sending him in my long-winded emails. Ha! No, I am pretty sure … that is in fact what it was.
I added AgentsofMoxie.blogspot.com into the website I had already been building (mostly myself, and I have since taken that site down). I started posting to AOM (as I came to call it) in November of 2008. However, I really didn’t consider it much more than a “webblog.” That is, it was nothing more than a place I could journal my thoughts about building a business. Many posts were, well, essays, most with no images.
Looking back, I feel like it was sorta like … practice blogging. I didn’t have the Comments turned on, Google Friend Connect was not enabled and I didn’t even have it tied into any social platforms. So, not real blogging, and mainly because I really didn’t care who read it. While it was just for me, I guess a few folks did read it, and I even got tweeted or re-tweeted a few times (a good feeling).
Albeit, I am very thankful for the few connections I made in that period. Most importantly, a carpenter out of Delaware named Barry Morgan. A little later, Barry and I would come up with the idea of and the design for Building Moxie (the blog) as it is. Though I have always handled the day to day, together we put this site up (and I started blogging for reals) in March of 2010.
What is it? I have almost given up on trying to describe what BuildingMoxie.com is. It just is. Like so many unexplainable things - We’re kinda like the (reverse) mullet of home improvement blogs – “Business in the front, but party in the back.” But usually the other way around … sometimes. … Or something.
HomeTalk: How did you decide on the name for your blog?
Building Moxie is the Service-Marked name of my real world business. While I am not actively selling any services related to this business, it is still part of my big-picture, long-term life vision.
Oh! And I also wanted to name my first daughter this after hearing a buddy had named his dog “Moxie”.
HomeTalk: Is blogging something you do on the side, or is it a full-time job for you?
I’m what I like to call a full-time side blogger. I currently have a corporate-type job, on a fairly large web development team. It is wholly unrelated to what I am passionate about – i.e. home improvement, and honestly, this does, at times, drive me nuts.
While the job comes complete with a way-too-long commute, it does also provide a roof (though sometimes that too means work), food, insurance and part of the means for putting our two daughters, now seven and nine, into private school. I am lucky to be with a good company (sincerely, thanks for that), but it, like any other full-time gig, has its fair share of demands, deadlines and stresses.
So … Professional blogging for me is like, idk, a full-time hobby, but not.
HomeTalk: What was the first project post you ever posted?
My first post was a two part essay I had written in honor of my grandfather. I think it explains a lot of who I am, and needless to say I am very proud of it.
I guess I should say I did move some of the posts from AOM over to BMoxie.
projects posts have brought you the most traffic?
It’s almost funny that the word “project” is used here, because most of my project-type posts result in, well, nothing but crickets. (I’ll take the blame on that and possibly on how I sometimes present them.)
Of the posts that get the most traffic (there are a handful that do decent), I want to share ones that help serve the simple point – “you just never know.”
- Interesting because all the information in this post is actually contained in the comments.
- When Venezuelan architect Ana M. Manzo asked about submitting this article, I didn’t realize she was communicating with me using Google Translate. While English is not her first language, you can tell – “talented” works in any language. I think we did a fine job of getting it out, and to this day, it still gets a very steady stream of traffic. (*ahem* May the blogging gods never strike me down for not sourcing these images. Thank you.)
- Almost as rewarding as the post with Ana above, my interview with real life friend Dino Paxenos continues to surprise. The traffic of course a result of his beautifully styled photographs, and his finds – some of which have appeared in such movies as The Smurfs and Inception.
- Really, I’m just picking one here … fun ’cause absolutely zero effort went into these photos. (I happen to have a few that are like that.)
- The Win Win Win … Win post. I installed a vanity, provided by St Paul Home Products, with friend diyDaveW – my Eva’s soccer coach. I still remember pitching the brand – “It’ll be kinda like a ghetto version of Bath Crashers.” Ha! And it’s not like his bath remodel didn’t turn out super stellar awesome. *high fives*
HomeTalk: What do your friends and family think about your blog?
Truthfully, I am not so “out” about my blogging. My dad and his wife Joan are faithful followers (via email and thank you guys). I tell my mom “I blog” and she looks at me as if I were in high school again and I had a party while she was at work one night and she, on returning home, found all the butter, more than a pound, missing from her frig. And like I was the guy that had to explain something like that. … Anyway.
Mrs. Moxie is supportive enough . . . and she will even swing by and drop a comment every now and then. I don’t think she necessarily shares my level fondness, but my posts featuring the Mrs. are simply some of my most all-time absolute favoritestest.
I’d probably get less grief if I would’ve posted this one … instead.
Oh Wait! … Doh!
Gotta admit too … I also really enjoy writing about my girls (and at least they know what a blog is).
Turn a Trash Can into a Recycling Bin (HomeTalk post and originally on BuiltByKids.com.)
HomeTalk: How has keeping a blog changed you?
Beyond adding time to home projects and the heightened degree of self-consciousness that now comes with them, there’s no question that the single biggest highlight of blogging has been, and is, all the great people (including of course the HomeTalkers of the world) that I have met both through the internets and in real life.
There have also been a few new places, thanks solely to blogging. New York … twice, New Jersey, Louisville, Chicago, Portland, Portland, Barry went Akron . . . and I’m off to Providence (JLC Live) in March. Maybe I hit a neighborhood near you soon. (Warned!)
HomeTalk: Do you stick to a strict posting schedule?
When we originally launched, we thought it would be a daily (weekday) blog . . . but it really didn’t take long before I completely melted down on that. I officially removed the word “Daily” from our tagline in 2011.
We do receive, and post, quite a few guest contributions. I mean – We couldn’t do this alone. Surprisingly, because of this, I still post most weeks five days a week. Some weeks I have done more. A few weeks a year I will quietly close up shop and go on hiatus (Feb. 2013 happened to be one of those months, and actually I’m really just working quietly in the background).
Personally I can do about two posts a week. And I often fill in where needed. Three is kinda pushing it, but amazingly – I have had a few weeks where I’ve actually done four. (Building Moxie’s First Ever Photo Week – Day 5: Week in Review :: Google Street Style.) If I had it my way, I’d post each and every day … or even more. While I have played with, I guess old habits, we usually post at 6AM EST.
HomeTalk: What are your 5 favorite home&garden/DIY websites or blogs for new inspiration? What are your favorite kinds of posts to read?
While sites like Houzz & Hometalk are my go-tos for inspiration, I do usually try to mix it up with the blogs. I read when I can, but really don’t check in anywhere as religiously as I’d like. A quick five favorites … or so:
Life of an Architect with Bob Borson … pretty brilliant, pretty fun.
DIY Show Off … mainly because I like Roeshel‘s personal style.
Really there are so many more, but I find that the Twitter feed and my Facebook stream do a pretty good job at rounding out my experience. That, and I will say – I am continually amazed by alllll of the super talented folks roaming about the interwebs, building and doing things. Wish I had half the skill it takes to do some of what yous do.
Sorry, had to chuck a project photo in for this crowd.
HomeTalk: What advice could you give to other bloggers that you wish you had known before you started blogging?
That, and I guess I’ll say – it is never too early to learn about ALL the stuff that makes your website go. And remember, it’s never set in stone. …. You can always go back and tweak for readers, for SEO, for revenue … reuse and re-share. Watermark (which you might notice I don’t do yet). Have organized systems for communication and a means for cataloging your photos.
I wish I would have learned the importance of those things earlier. Above all, though, be social (and Share! freely) – respond to every comment in every channel and make sure to get out regularly and engage elsewhere and often.
That’s it. Your best blog is probably still right under your nose. Mine is. Thanks for having me and thanks for reading alllll… 2000 or so words. *cough* Right? Right! ;~) Happy Thursday and be well. ~ jb
Oh! Almost forgot – my social account stuff is just below … Let’s hook it up! Please start by leaving me a comment today. Thank you.
About Building Moxie
BuildingMoxie.com is the do-it-together blog about house, home, and neighborhood (or 'hood for short), ... we feature a variety of topics written by, and for, both the diyer and the pro. ... Maybe you?
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Find Building Moxie Also On:
- Building Moxie with Todd Vendituoli of HomeCentrl
- Earth Day 2013 :: The Center For Green Building
- A Facebook Chat! :: “Your Kitchen” Hosted by Hometalk and including Yours Truly
- A Kitchen Plugin for SketchUp :: Building Moxie with Eric Schimelpfenig, AKBD
- Old House vs New Construction :: a Google Hangout. Plus a Contest, an Auction and a Lot of Questions
- Notes from Providence :: Welcome to JLC Live – the Saw Dust Show
- Building Moxie with the Home Repair Tutor … aka an Interview with Jeff Patterson
- Building Moxie in a Bagster Bag :: the 2012 Year in Review … Finally, OR …
- You Texted in Your Vote & It *Was* Counted :: Building Moxie’s 2012 Reader Survey Results
- Building Moxie with ToolBelt Productions :: The Art of Live Construction Presentation
About jb bartkowiak (259 posts)
A one-time construction manager, and always handyman, turned blogger and editor. My wife, Jen, and I are on our 6th property (. . . yes, together). She is a real estate agent. We have two beautiful daughters Evyn and Eva. We currently live and are restoring an 1889 farmhouse in Baltimore's Lauraville area.