Well, we did it! One year, 52 weeks, 366 days (it was a leap year), and 308 individual blog posts. That's right, as of April 22, the attempt at a blog we call Old Town Home has been up and running for one full year. I really can't believe how quickly the year has flown by! I'm very glad to hit this somewhat arbitrary milestone, especially after we talked about starting a blog for a good five years before we actually took the leap. The fact that we've been blogging for a full year somehow makes all of those years of procrastination seem so far off.
The whole process has been fun, enjoyable, frustrating, enlightening, helpful, engaging, surprising, and invigorating, all rolled into one. Through our blog we've had the great opportunity to meet some wonderful people, both local and quite far away, experience a few events we otherwise may not have, and share some of the experiences and adventures we've encountered along the nine year journey of renovating our old home while living a vibrant historic district. Heck, we even made fools of ourselves on the DIY network. Opening up our home to a television crew was a first for us.
Now that we have a solid year of blogging under our belts, I think it's time for our obligatory reflection post to look at where we've been, what we've learned, and where we are going.
Where We've Been
In the weeks running up to launching Old Town Home, we waffled back and forth about whether anyone cared. We knew that some friends and family were interested in what we have been doing, and many of them still live in Ohio or other places in the Midwest, so we figured this would be an excellent way to keep them informed of our goings on. We've also had several other friends and neighbors along the way comment that we had done so much in our house that we should chronicle it and share it (and those who know what blogging is suggested we do it all online). It all sounded like a great idea, but beyond those select few people, we knew we were ultimately blogging for ourselves.
We also knew that blogging would be a major time commitment and we didn't want to just do it half way. I mean, there's nothing worse than the zombie blog that has a welcome post, then a new post every three months that basically says "I've been so bad about keeping this updated, I'm gonna do better." So we decided to take a leap of faith and commit ourselves to going all out. If we couldn't sustain the level of effort, no harm, no foul, we could stop.
Though we started this project as a simple DIY blog to cover our never ending renovation, much like many of our home's projects, the actual implementation strayed from the initial vision, but hopefully for the better. Soon after beginning, we realized that a large part of what makes this a unique and bloggable experience is the fact that we live in the midst of a treasured and unique historic district. Many people renovate, many people do it themselves, and many people restore and update historic homes, but there aren't a lot of bloggers that that do all of this stuff together. As a result, in addition to our recount of projects, we started to post frequently about the wonderful place that we live, the events we encounter, the things that we enjoy, and the stories or attractions on a local level that may be appealing to people who don't actually care all that much about how you install wainscoting on a stairway.
Essentially, I'm talking about the fact that our DIY blog quickly turned into a blog about our lives, but I guess that's kind of the point of a personal blog. We're not a magazine or "how to" show, we're just a couple who has had and continues to have what we feel are unique opportunities and collections of experiences in our lives that we'd like to share with others and chronicle for ourselves. In retrospect, the change in course makes sense, but we didn't see it coming as we embarked on the project.
Throughout the year, we've covered everything from our extremely in depth vestibule renovation and reconfiguration...
...to the arrival of the Colombian Tall Ship, Gloria's arrival in Old Town on a random spring day.
In the year that's elapsed, we've made an earnest effort to share some of our best DIY tips and tricks, a few of our past projects in a quick start to finish manner, our current and ongoing projects as we slowly complete aspects of them, some of our favorite vacation destinations and ideal itineraries, the exciting places and events we've had the opportunity to enjoy, some insight into our lives and how we live and think as individuals and as a couple, and a few tales to answer one of our most frequently asked question, "So, is your house haunted?"
But to be completely honest, I think we've both had the most fun at each other's expense. The posts where we've poked a little fun at each other, perhaps talking about a certain individual's bag hoarding issues, or another individual's propensity for accumulation in our cramped basement, have been the ones that both get the most reaction from commenters, and also really truly allow us to be who we absolutely are pretty much all the time. I think our good friends can vouch for us on this one, what you see is what you get.
What We've Learned
Over our collection of 308 posts (including this one), we've learned one thing above all else. Blogging is hard. We've heard this repeatedly over the years from friends and other bloggers, and we always thought, "How hard can it be? You take some photos, write some stuff, and put it up, done." Well, we were surprised. Blogging about something we've done, especially a project, typically adds hours to the endeavor.
Remembering to take photos when you're in the midst of something, writing about the various steps, editing each other's posts, fact checking, linking, etc. It's not hard in a back breaking labor outside chopping wood all day sort of way. It's more hard in a mentally draining sort of way. I'd say that we probably spend a couple of hours on almost every blog post. Some we do in one day, some take several days of work, but every post we do we try to make as thorough and informative as possible. Most importantly, we try to never end up with a filler or throw away post, there's just no point in the partial effort in one.
So whether we're talking about the square foot garden we're working on building and planting...
...or using a Pinterest Challenge to cover just how we went about cutting the bottom off of a wine bottle, we try to be as thorough and useful as possible in our photos and descriptions.
We've also learned that there are some really wonderful people out there who read and comment on our posts on a regular basis, and that is something we truly did not expect. Our efforts in restoring our home and sinking a significant amount of time and money into the process have been appreciated by many people, and nearly everyone that has commented here and left us a message on Facebook, Twitter, HomeTalk, HomePodge, Pinterest, Old House Web, Apartment Therapy, email, other blogs where we've guest posted or been featured, or any of the other outlets where we've interacted with people have been very positive, supportive, and overwhelmingly enjoyable.
Where We're Going
This is the question that we can look at and quite honestly say, "We have absolutely no idea." Though this little blog of ours has been a lot of hard work, it has also been extremely rewarding. From the friends we've met, interactions we've had, and things we make sure we take part in because "it might make a good blog post," our blog has helped us to enjoy and appreciate what we do on a daily basis. Either directly or indirectly due to the blog, we've had various opportunities to have our home featured in several online and print publications, we've been fortunate to participate in fun events (such as an upcoming DIY seminar in Old Town), and have formed some pretty great friendships.
In the coming months as our work schedules hopefully slow down just a little bit, we hope to have more time to actually work on some major projects in our home so that we may continue sharing them with you. We also hope we can continue to bring you some projects from our past that will show you some of the other great things our home has to offer. And we hope to continue to write about all of the truly great things that our home and home town possess.
In the last year we've only begun to scratch the surface of the nine years we've invested into our house and lives here in Old Town Alexandria, Virginia. We hope you'll continue to follow along to see our various endeavors and misadventures. We may not know what the coming year has to offer, but we're pretty sure we'll have a good time talking to you all about it. Hopefully a year from now we'll be talking about how great our second year of blogging has been.
Thanks for being a part of our lives and our adventures, we appreciate all of the very helpful and positive feedback we've received, and all of the personal interactions we've had. We'll continue working hard and sharing our work and life as long as you all feel like reading about. Here's to one year!.