The Must List: Home Stories A to Z

by Chris on April 30, 2012

This is the big day, folks! My bloggie bestie is here! With a somewhat cyber-friendship, it sure can be difficult to figure out if it’s the ‘real deal”, but there was no doubting it with Beth. We can talk about blogging, husbands, kids, family, world politics, and the meaning of life. Kinda covers it all, eh? I love her so, and I’m incredibly happy she’s here today. The ONE person I learn from the most is Beth, so I know you will too!

The Must List Just a Girl

Hi everyone! I’m Beth from Home Stories A to Z, and I am thrilled to be over here today on Justa’s blog sharing with you some “musts” that all bloggers should try to live by. I have learned so much in my four years of blogging and Chris was graciously one of my first blog mentors! Before I called her bloggy BFF, I called her “Oh Wise Grasshopper” and bombarded her with my newbie-blogger-questions. Chris emulated the kind of blogger I wanted to be when my blog grew up, and I am so thankful for her mentorship and friendship! I have thought long and hard about what it takes to be a good blogger, and I’ve narrowed it down to ten blogger commandments that I think are some blogging musts!

1. Thou shalt produce good blog content.

content is king


Content is king and context is queen. Our site has to have good content to keep people coming back for more. Our content needs to be entertaining, relatable, interesting, engaging, informative, well written, with good photos, and a sense of humor certainly doesn’t hurt :). But we also have to take into consideration the context in which our readers are viewing our site. Are they on a mobile device trying to navigate a mobile unfriendly blog? Are they a new visitor popping in from Pinterest and want to know what we are all about? Are they non-English speaking and unable to easily read our content? Are they searching our blog for our pallet creation but can’t find it because we titled our post “I Did the Coolest Thing EV-AH” instead of “pallet creation”? The context in which our readers are landing on our blog will give us a ton of information on how to keep them engaged and returning. Pay attention to your Google Analytics key words, traffic sources, top posts, etc. to learn about your audience and then use that information to become a better blogger.

2. Thou shalt use one’s blogging and social media platforms for good.

be soft

via Matchbook

Whether your readership is in the teens or the trillions, you have an amazing opportunity to reach others. Blogging is a powerful gift and can be used to ignite a spark in someone else. We want to be ready for what sparks we might be igniting! Now, if you know me, then you know that I’m not one to shy away from speaking my mind (or from conflict in general). However, I always want to use my blogging platform for good and not for harm. If you’re going to approach any hot-button topics on your blog, then first you might consider seeking out a blog friend to bounce your ideas off of and to give you feedback.

3. Thou shalt have a skin as thick as an elephant’s hide and shall be comfortable with thou delete key. delete key When you blog, you put yourself out there for all to praise and all to criticize. Negative comments sting and are never fun to receive but arguing back seldom does any good. Keep your focus on the positive and just hit that delete key!

4. Thou shalt not covet thy neighbor’s blog. blog envy

via The Fashionista Next Door

The comparison game happens to the best of us. It’s so hard not to be envious of a fellow bloggers’ traffic, numbers, home, projects, opportunities, popularity, etc. but coveting just leaves you feeling icky with nothing gained. Make your blog goals be about you and not someone else. Yes, it is cliche’ but it’s also so true: focus on being the best YOU and bringing that to your blog each day.

5. Thou shalt unplug occasionally.

via Paisley Print Shoes

Blogging can easily become all consuming. If you blog for income, it can be even more difficult to place boundaries on your “work time”. When you love what you do it doesn’t feel like work and let’s face it, the internet is addictive. Taking at least one day off from blogging a week is so important for your creative mojo not to mention your family life. Do yourself a favor and unplug at least one day a week.

6. Thou shalt not steal others’ content, photos, ideas, or blog name.

via kezzi.tumblr

Putting it rather simply: Stealing others’ ideas and passing them off as your own just makes you look dumb. You are amazing all on your own and you don’t need to copy someone else! Be original and if you do copy then of course give credit where credit is due. We all inspire ideas in each other, but our ideas should be different enough from the original that they are clearly our own.

7. Thou shalt honor thy blog family.

pay it forward

via Pinterest

Our blog niche is amazing, and I think we’re one of the nicest niches out there! Home bloggers rock. I love that we honor each other through features, re-tweets, facebook shout outs, etc. It’s good bloggy karma and it sets our niche apart. Keep it up!

8. Thou shalt be authentic and relatable. My boys’ bedroom on a typical day

boys room

We do “pretty” really well, but we all know that “real life” doesn’t always look like a page from a Pottery Barn catalog. It’s okay to show the not-so-pretty every once in awhile on your blog. It shows others that you are human too. Don’t be scared to be real. People love real people!

9. Thou shalt not make an idol out of one’s blog.

blog wordle


Blog worship is easy to do. Blogging is awesome, inspiring, and fulfills many needs. You are awesome, inspiring, and fulfill the needs of others! However, a blog is just a blog and shouldn’t become the center of your universe. If it has, your priorities are out of whack and it’s time to reevaluate and practice some more of number 5.

10. Thou shalt stay humble.

A healthy self esteem is nice and noteworthy…bragging constantly about how awesome you are is not. I don’t know if it’s just a new style of blog writing, but I’m noticing a huge trend of “I am so amazing” jargon on blogs. I’m all for tooting your own horn, but remember to do so in a spirit of humility. It’s fine to say, “I love how this project turned out!” It’s questionable to say, “Everything I touch turns to gold and I’m going to be bigger than the biggest so you’re going to want to follow me! Bow to me if you must!!” That kind of chest beating is a turn off. Just stay sweet, humble and handle compliments with grace. You are indeed amazing, but don’t let it go to your head. Thanks for letting me share some blog commandments that I try to live by! Let me know in the comments if you have any to add!



Courtenay April 30, 2012 at 12:23 pm

…Oh, I just love it all!

Amy April 30, 2012 at 12:25 pm

This is a great post!!! My sisters and I are just starting off on our blog journey. We’re not sure where it will lead us, but are having fun along the way. It is great to hear ideas on how to make your blog better!
Thanks so much!

Bec April 30, 2012 at 12:51 pm

Thank you so much for sharing these pearls of wisdom. I’m a relative newbie and these are something I will follow in my journey.
x Bec

Brook @ BeingBrook April 30, 2012 at 12:57 pm

Great tips Beth!! As always Beth has such awesome blogging advice.

Kim @ Plumberry Pie April 30, 2012 at 2:00 pm

Great post and great reminders! Thanks much!

Kristy @ Swamp Hollow Designs April 30, 2012 at 2:03 pm

Great tips! I especially agree with the unplugging bit… soooo important! Not only to be able to refocus our energy on family and friends, but also to reignite our own inner creative spark. Thanks for sharing!

Erin @ How to Nest for Less April 30, 2012 at 2:15 pm

OH Beth, how I love you!! You always have the best advice and tips. I truly appreciate everything you have shared with me throughout this past {almost} one year of blogging. You seriously rock. And Chris, every single person you have featured in this series is one of my daily reads!! It’s kinda weird…but in a good way :) April 30, 2012 at 2:24 pm

Awesome post, Beth. I learned the lesson about great content this weekend. My mom and I have been overloaded with actual projects and have really been falling short on time to write. We wrote a post along with adding a video that we thought our readers would enjoy but boy did it fall short. In fact we had several people unsubscribe and I don’t think it had anything to do with the video but with a really unattractive picture and short post. To make a long story short we took it down. But we will re-write it and re- work it because the video is great, maybe not so great to some but you can’t please everyone.
I’ve also been trying to stop the comparison game. It’s really hard as a new blogger when you immediately get noticed by popular bloggers, by big brands, and when your traffic sky rockets and then all of the sudden things seem to level off. I understand I still have to build my blog to keep people coming but it gets discouraging sometimes. I know it’s rare to just have overnight success. I keep telling myself I have to work for it like everyone else did and keep working at it.
It’s posts like these though that keep me going. Thanks again. Lesley

haydee@trashtotreasure April 30, 2012 at 2:51 pm

Very very well put, immensely valuable information…I feel like I should make a mini-print out of this to keep handy for when I feel doubt creeping in!

Fairfield House April 30, 2012 at 3:04 pm

Amen! I said two Amens for #10. I have stopped reading some blogs do to this.
Your Friend,

Fairfield House May 1, 2012 at 10:07 pm

* due
Always proof your comments before pressing enter.

Courtney {a thoughtful place} April 30, 2012 at 6:03 pm

Beth. .. I thought this was fantastic. All great thoughts and reminders for all of us. I often have to really force myself to unplug and put it down. You hit the nail on the head with how wonderful the blogging community is. Such a joy to be a part of. Great post.

Kerri, A Pop of Pretty April 30, 2012 at 8:04 pm

Great series, Chris! And, great advice as usual Beth – I especially love #3. “Thou shalt have a skin as thick as an elephant’s hide and shall be comfortable with thou delete key.” – made me lol. ~Kerri, A Pop of Pretty

Taryn @ Design, Dining + Diapers April 30, 2012 at 8:30 pm

These are so great Beth! Great reminder on a lot of topics. Thanks for always keeping it real :)

jessica@fourgenerationsoneroof April 30, 2012 at 8:56 pm

Well Miss Beth is my mentor as I have told her many times ! :) In fact, she probably has a fly swatter in her kitchen for all my crazy questions. I am forever in her debt! :) Beth it was cool to read that Chris was your mentor and you bombarded her with your newbie questions. I cannot even imagine you not knowing something b/c you know all! Chris I love this “must list” blogging series of guest posts. While I haven’t had a chance to comment on all of them, I seriously LOVE each and everyone of them. It’s like being invited to the “A” list of Hollywoods who’s who! :)

#10 made me laugh….are you serious? People actually write that stuff about themselves? Wierd.

Linda @ it all started with paint April 30, 2012 at 9:11 pm

As always, excellent advice from Beth! She’s one of the first bloggers I started following and this just reaffirms why I keep coming back for more …



Amy W.@TheBlissfulBee April 30, 2012 at 9:14 pm

This is all such great advice!! I’m new to blogging and seriously learning something new every day. It’s always nice to have a little set of guidelines to abide by:) Great post!!

Mandy@Cre8iveMotives April 30, 2012 at 9:36 pm

Very informative. Thank you Beth for sharing!!!

Vanessa April 30, 2012 at 9:44 pm

Loved every.single.word!! Beth is absolutely the real deal and we have learned so much from her as we have embarked on our own bloggy adventure. It is a crazy mad-capped world, this blogland, and yet so rewarding. These are important tips for everyone whether new or seasoned (that sounds better than “old” right?LOL!) and we can all stand to stop once in awhile and make sure we are putting our best foot forward, messy rooms and all. Thanks so much for this!!

Pam @ Simple Details April 30, 2012 at 10:30 pm

Thanks for taking the time to put this together for us newbies, Beth! I always love advice from you pros! :)

Debbie April 30, 2012 at 10:30 pm

Thank you for all the great advice and this series!

Andrea April 30, 2012 at 11:01 pm

Love these commandments. I’ve noticed a lot of bloggers doing the “I’m so great” thing.

Carmel April 30, 2012 at 11:51 pm

Beth’s one of my favorites! LOVED this post – so great!

Danielle May 1, 2012 at 6:47 am

Thanks for putting this list together for us newer bloggers. Great list!

Joquena May 1, 2012 at 9:07 am

Great advice! I definitely need to have more unplug days. I try to make sure computers aren’t on when I get the kids home from school until I get them to bed!

Charlie May 1, 2012 at 9:35 am

Love these, Beth!

Funny story: Pregnant brain was not focusing very well, and I read the pic for #5 three times as, “Sleep under the stairs”. I was so confused/creeped out by that one.

Then. ((Duh)) STARS! lol


Nancy @ Sea Rose Cottage May 1, 2012 at 12:19 pm

Well said! Great advice.

Janell Beals May 1, 2012 at 1:01 pm

Fantastic Beth!! Janell

{darlene} @ fieldstonehill May 1, 2012 at 1:06 pm

Oh AWESOME!!!!!!!!!!! You hit it out of the ballpark with this one, Beth! Thanks for hosting, Miss Justa {love that!}

Lindsay @ mixmakegrow May 1, 2012 at 1:55 pm

I LOVE this–great advice for us novice bloggers :)

Shelley @ Calypso In The Country May 1, 2012 at 2:42 pm

What a great post – and you are so funny! Love your boys room! I thought I was looking at a picture of my house for a second…

{Adventuresindinner} May 1, 2012 at 2:51 pm

Awesome ‘commandments’ from one of my favourite folks. Don’t you just meet the best people in blogland?

Richella at Imparting Grace May 1, 2012 at 6:46 pm

Chris, it’s neat to see how you and Beth have “clicked” over the years! I remember reading some of your comments to one another years ago–it was easy to tell that you were meant to be friends. I think it’s awesome that you developed a REAL friendship even though the channel for it is usually electronic. It CAN be done, and y’all have proved it!

Beth, these commandments are great. I appreciate the fact that you really try to live and blog by them. I appreciate so much that you will in fact tackle the real issues that sometimes surface in the world of blogging–honestly, sometimes it can get a little ugly, and you’re not afraid to say so! You’ve used your platform for great good, I think. I especially like the way that you encourage others. It’s true that blogging can be competitive, and small-to-medium bloggers like me can really feel lost in the shuffle at times. I appreciate that you’re secure enough in your own identity to reach out to other bloggers and to be kind and gracious as well as honest.

To both of you: most of us TALK about how important relationships are. You two LIVE it. Thank you for your example.

gg May 2, 2012 at 1:43 pm

this is awesome! thanks for the post – it made me feel better about my little corner + what i’m doing or trying to do. thanks for the always great content that you share!

Beth@AtoZ May 2, 2012 at 4:45 pm

Thanks everyone for your sweet feedback! I wanted to reply to each of you but didn’t want to commandeer Justa’s blog over here. I love that we can “meta-blog” (blog about how we blog) and tackle the tough interpersonal relationship issues that arise from blogging. You all rock :)!

Jodi from New Jersey May 5, 2012 at 2:31 am

Thanks. Great advice. Love the boys room –looks familiar. :)

Vidya @ Whats Ur Home Story May 9, 2012 at 11:57 am

Great post! A big fan of both of you. Thanks for keeping it real.

Lauren @ The Thinking Closet November 18, 2012 at 8:50 pm

Love how you wrote out your list, true commandment style. You’re spot on! And reminded me of a few I needed to hear. Thank you.


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