Blog-iversary 5

When we moved to the farm five years ago, I’d been thinking about starting a blog for a little while. I liked the idea of chronicling our life at the farm and the process of renovating the house. I wasn’t sure how long I’d keep it going and whether I’d like being a blogger, but five years later, I’m still here.

This little blog is five years old. It feels pretty cool.

I love being able to look back through the archives and have a reminder of what’s happened over the past five years. This blog is always going to be personal for me.

But there’s obviously a public side as well. I love the connections that I’ve made with so many people and the opportunities that have come from the blog. Every year on my blog-iversary, I share some of the stats from the blog, which show some of these connections.

Over the last five years, the blog has had more than 273,600 views and 310 of you have signed up as official followers. I’ve published 782 posts–151 of them in the last year–and uploaded 2,991 pictures, graphics and videos.

Last year, 49,484 visitors dropped by the blog for 82,253 views. The average number of views per day were 222.

My blog is very small (and personal) and I don’t work very hard to promote it, but I’m proud of how it’s grown over the past five years.

Graph of blog views over five years

I’m always surprised by how visitors come to this blog from all over the world–155 different countries last year.

  1. United States — 53,539
  2. Canada — 15,204
  3. United Kingdom — 4,063
  4. Australia — 1,655
  5. Singapore — 1,071
  6. Germany — 831
  7. India — 464
  8. Ireland — 402
  9. South Africa — 380
  10. Switzerland — 362

Visitors to my blog by country

Five years into blogging, my most popular posts come from the archives. People are always looking for information about DIYing wood countertops and Ikea’s Strandmon armchair. Here are the most popular posts from the last year.

  1. Hardboard and six favourite projects
  2. Looking for sawzall suggestions
  3. Forsythia failure
  4. Vegetable garden dueling DIY challenge
  5. Harvest basket
  6. June garden update
  7. Painting with a smaller brush
  8. Our new summer project
  9. Garden Dueling DIY Week 1
  10. Close encounters of the turkey kind

I have to give credit to Sarah in Illinois for all of her posts over the past year. I’ve enjoyed reading about life on her farm.

I also enjoy connecting with all of you. Whether you leave a comment or read along quietly, I appreciate you following along on our country adventures. Thank you.

Five years ago, when I went to WordPress, claimed the Homeon129Acres name and pushed publish on my first post, I said, “This is the start of something.” Part of that something was going to be the farm, but for the blog I wasn’t exactly sure what that something might be. It’s been a cool journey and I’m looking forward to seeing what comes next.

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Favourite posts and projects of 2016

I’m still easing in to 2017 here. Coming up, I’ll be reviewing how I did on Home Goals 2016 and setting new ones for 2017.

Before that happens, I’m taking a look back at some of the other memorable moments and posts from 2016.

The beauty of having a blog is that it helps me track what happens over the course of a year.

2016 was a year of very little rain, hence the poor harvest and the ditch fire. It was a year of new, with our first homemade maple syrup, Monarch butterflies and the birdbath. Some are small events, some are bigger accomplishments. Altogether, they make up the moments that I don’t want to forget from our life on the farm.

Who else is doing some reflecting on the year just past? Did you have a memorable 2016?

A look at life on 129 acres

Due to some technical difficulties too ridiculous to explain (and a wee bit of procrastination), I had not set up an Instagram account.

However, I finally changed that last week… and I see what all the fuss is about.

I’m loving seeing what people are up to and sharing a bit of what’s happening in my life.

Here’s a glimpse of a few of my first posts.

 

 

 

 

 

Want to see more? Follow me at @juliaon129acres.

I love finding new people to follow. Feel free to suggest your favourite accounts in the comments.

 

Happy Canada Day!

Today, I and my fellow Canadians are celebrating our country’s 149th birthday.

I’m also celebrating because I’m a new contributor to homify.ca. homify is a new online platform for housing and construction. The goal of the site is to connect architects, designers, builders–all of the professionals you need–with house and apartment owners.

My first homify.ca post is appropriately Canadian: ideas to incorporate a bit of Canadiana into your home decor.

(I totally want this eh! pillow for my house).

Eh pillow

Source: Samphire Bay

To my fellow Canadians, happy Canada Day. To my American readers, happy almost Fourth of July. No matter what nationality you are, happy weekend, everyone!

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Blog-iversary 4

Thanks everyone for celebrating our fourth farm-iversary with us earlier this week. I really appreciate all of you who follow along with our adventures. Today I’m going to go into a bit more detail about all of you, my followers and readers.

Along with this week being our farm-iversary, it also marks the anniversary of when I started my blog. My usual tradition for my blog-iversary is to take a look back at some of my stats.

In total over the last four years, the blog has had more than 191,600 views and 259 of you have signed up as official followers. I’ve published 632 posts–151 of them in the last year–and uploaded 2,394 pictures, graphics and videos.

Over the past year, this little blog of mine has had 73,924 views and 36,909 visitors. The average number of views each day were 203.

Here’s how things have developed over the past four years (WordPress didn’t track visitors back when I first started blogging).

Views in the fourth year of blogging

Visitors came from 153 different countries, mostly the U.S., Canada and the U.K. There were some surprises in the top 10 countries this year: Slovenia, Turkey and Uruguay. I still find it cool how the blog has connected me with people all over the world.

  1. United States — 46,408
  2. Canada — 13,068
  3. United Kingdom — 2,883
  4. Australia — 1,753
  5. Germany — 1,457
  6. Slovenia — 702
  7. Turkey — 689
  8. Uruguay — 451
  9. Switzerland — 395
  10. Netherlands — 391

Top blog views by country

The One Room Challenge strikes again when it comes to bringing visitors to the blog. All of my ORC posts from 2015 made it into the top 10 posts of the past year.

  1. One Room Challenge Week 6 – Master bedroom reveal — 1,000
  2. Making DIY dropcloth curtains – 8 lessons learned — 474
  3. One Room Challenge Week 4 – Update sliding closet doors with beadboard wallpaper — 427
  4. One Room Challenge Week 5 – Professional help — 243
  5. One Room Challenge Week 3 – Master bedroom headboard — 195
  6. “Wait-no-more” organizing challenge — 163
  7. One Room Challenge Week 2 – Master bedroom progress report — 151
  8. One Room Challenge – Master bedroom makeover — 141
  9. The Porch Jacking: Chad’s Crooked House — 139
  10. Scorched Earth — 115

Something new that I tried this year were inviting different bloggers to do a few more guest posts, including the My Favourite Tool series and regular posts from Sarah in Illinois. One of the things I really enjoy about blogging is connecting with other bloggers, and these guest posts are one way to do that.

The other thing I love about blogging is connecting with all of you–my readers. Thanks for being part of our journey so far. There’s more to come.

Top posts of 2015

Last year for the first time I looked back through the archives to find the most popular posts of the year. As I savour a bit more holiday time and get ready for next year, I thought it would be fun to do that again.

Here are the top posts of 2015–the ones that got the most visits from all of you and then a few more that are some of my favourites.

Top posts of 2015

The One Room Challenge once again brought a lot of visitors to the blog.

My favourites

These are some of my favourite projects and favourite posts that didn’t make it into the top 10.

It’s fun to look back and remember everything that happened over the past year. I’m going to be extending my holiday a little longer, so I won’t be posting again until next year. Until then, I’d love to hear from you.

What were your favourite posts? Feel free to leave a comment and let me know what you like best to read about or what you’d like to see more of as we head into 2016.

Reflections on life and making a living

When I first started this blog, I wondered where it might go. I started blogging for myself to track our journey as we moved to the farm. I also blogged for friends and family so that they could keep up with what we were doing. Another reason I started blogging was because I wanted a different kind of writing in my life, a new creative outlet.

However, when I started blogging, I also saw a lot of other bloggers, some of whom were making a full time living off their blogs. I wondered if that might happen for me someday.

It seemed like a wonderful gig: being at home, doing what I want, writing about it, and getting paid.

But it’s not that simple.

When I came back from Blogpodium two years ago, I let go of the idea of making a full time living through blogging. I loved the conference in part because it gave me clarity about what I did and didn’t want to do.

I didn’t feel like I wanted to seriously monetize my blog. I didn’t want to “hustle” the way I felt I’d need to. Writing for advertisers, writing for sponsors, writing for a huge community of readers with very specific expectations, picking and choosing the projects I worked on so that the site would get the most number of hits, promoting everything on every social media channel–it just didn’t appeal.

About two weeks ago, I listened to a podcast by John and Sherry of Young House Love. For those who don’t know, John and Sherry were the ultimate in DIY blogosphere–both of them making a full-time living off their blog, tonnes of projects on the go, top to bottom home makeover in progress. And then a year ago, they walked away. Shut down their blog. Went dark. Dropped out of the blogosphere.

The podcast is a really in-depth reflection on how their blog became their life and their life became their blog. There was no division for them, and that became really hard–more than they wanted to deal with. Even though I’ve not reached the heights that John and Sherry did, I completely get it. Kit at DIY Diva, a blogger that I absolutely love, has written about this in the past too.

This blog is a part of my life. But just part. I share what I want, write the way I want, do the projects I want. I don’t really want that to change.

Over the past month, I admit, I’ve enjoyed the little break that I’ve had thanks to the other bloggers who have written about their favourite tools. The past little while was a really busy time for me in the day job, there’ve been some challenges in my family, and not having to come up with three posts every week was kind of nice (although I know my three post per week schedule is totally self-imposed).

I still think it would be pretty nice to work at home. I looooove being at the farm. I feel so much guilt every morning when I walk out of the house and leave Baxter alone. And honestly, often the day job isn’t all that fulfilling. Sometimes, in fact, it’s downright draining.

So for little while now, I’ve been exploring some other options. I’ve been trying some freelance writing. I’ve reached out to some old contacts. I’ve tossed around some ideas with a few people.

I’m open to opportunities. I’m also aware that if I want a change, I have to work at it and not wait for it to come to me. As Sherry says in the podcast, “If something feels wrong or unnatural you have to change it because no one’s going to change it for you.” This isn’t going to happen right away, and I’m willing to be a bit patient. However, I’m also putting myself out to the universe. (Want me to write for you? I’m available!)

I’m not planning on changing the blog, and I know I don’t often get super personal here, but I felt like I wanted to put some of my thoughts out here.

Thanks for reading.

Blog-iversary 3

Holy cow, this little blog is three years old. It doesn’t seem like it’s been that long. It’s pretty cool to look back through the archives and see a record of our lives since moving to the farm.

Every year at this time I also like to look back at some of the blog’s stats and some of the landmarks from the past year.

It’s partially about having a record for myself, but also about sharing some of my numbers with other bloggers out there.

Blogging is a community and a pretty diverse one. Blogs come in all different sizes, but readership and viewership stats aren’t something we talk about all that often… at least not that I see.

This post is not about comparing one blog to another, and it’s especially not that bigger is better. I have to admit though that I’m often curious about how my blog measures up.

Mine truly is a little blog, and I like to share some of my numbers in the hopes that my experience might encourage some other small bloggers. There are lots of us who are not in it for the daily page views or the advertising dollars (for a fabulous example from a not-so-small blog, see this post from DIY Diva). I blog because I love it. I’m in it for myself and for all of you reading.

So the first thing I have to say as I celebrate my third blog-iversary is thank you to all of you. Thanks for reading and following along on our adventures.

And now on to the numbers. (And by the way, WordPress, anytime you want to go back to the classic stats page that would be alright with me).

In my third year of blogging, my little corner of the internet had 58,681 views and 29,132 visitors. My average daily views heading into year 3 now sit just over 200. Here’s how things have developed over the past three years (WordPress didn’t track visitors in year 1):Blog views and visitors Year 3The top 10 countries got a bit of a shake-up this year–or at least bottom half of the list did. The U.S. and Canada still lead the pack, but Europe came on strong bumping India, New Zealand and South Africa out of the top 10.

  1. United States — 36,757
  2. Canada — 14,025
  3. United Kingdom — 2,684
  4. Australia — 1,248
  5. Germany — 725
  6. France — 452
  7. Switzerland — 422
  8. Ireland — 262
  9. Netherlands — 256
  10. Denmark — 216

Visitors came from 135 different countries in total.

Top blog views by country

I also celebrated some blog records this year.

  • On Dec. 4, I reached the milestone of 100,000 all-time views.
  • Just this week, I received my 1,000th like.

1,000th like

  • On Nov. 6, I had my most visitors and views in a single day ever thanks to the One Room Challenge. The previous record of 543 views in a day (which was set way back on July 23, 2012) was supplanted by a new record of 603 views and 357 visitors.
  • The One Room Challenge was also responsible for the most comments on any post–44 (although half of them are me replying to people’s comments)
  • November’s views record only stood for a few months before it was broken on Feb. 9 by a new total of 631. Interestingly, the visitors number that day was pretty standard for me–119. My conclusion is that I have a new reader who binge read basically the whole blog in one day. Whoever you are, welcome. I’m glad you liked my blog.

And that brings us back to all of you again. I blog for myself, yes. But if this was simply a personal journal, I’m not sure I’d have kept going for three years. I really like knowing that there are people out there who enjoy my writing and like reading about our adventures. Thanks for being part of our life.

Top posts of 2014

Hey there, everyone. Did you have a good Christmas?

We’ve had a nice relaxing break so far. In fact, the holidays are continuing for us for a little while longer. Matt and I have another week before we have to go back to work, which is a wonderful gift. So I’m still going to be taking it a bit easy as far as the blog goes.

For today, I thought it might be fun to look back at some of the most popular posts for the past year–the ones that got the most visits from all of you and then a few more that are some of my favourites.

Top posts of 2014

The One Room Challenge brought a lot of new visitors to the blog this fall. Four of the posts in the top 10 were about the laundry room makeover.

My favourites

These are some of my favourite projects and favourite posts that didn’t make it into the top 10.

Baxter's Gotcha Day & Gotme Day

Baxter’s Gotcha Day & Gotme Day

I hope you enjoyed this look back at the past year. What were your favourite posts? I’d love to know what you most like to read about. Feel free to leave a comment and let me know what you like best or what you’d like to see more of as we head into another year.

Liebster Award

A few weeks ago, I got a tweet from The Party Girl that they’d nominated me for a Liebster Award. Like most blogging awards, this one’s about spreading the love. I’m definitely feeling the love from Ashley, Fernanda and Victoria. Thanks ladies!

Liebster Award

This post is also my chance to pass on the love. I have 11 nominees of my own a little further down.

Here are the rules for the Liebster Award:

  • post the award on your blog
  • thank the blogger who presented this award and link back to their blog
  • write 11 random facts about yourself
  • nominate 11 bloggers who you feel deserve this award and who have less than 250 followers
  • answer 11 questions posed by the nominator
  • ask your nominees 11 questions

You can see the number 11 figures prominently in the Liebster Award. So here we go.

11 facts about me

  1. I’ve never broken a bone, had stitches or a cavity. But I’ve gotten nosebleeds since I was a child… in the winter I get them daily. Not fun.
  2. I would gladly eat pizza for every meal. Lots of mushrooms, please.
  3. I had long hair pretty much all my life, and then when I was 28 I cut it all off into a pixie cut, which I love. My hair is stick straight and won’t hold a curl. I’ve never dyed my hair.
  4. I’m the oldest of four kids.
  5. I can sleep for 12 hours straight and am happiest with 10 hours a night… although I hardly ever get it.
  6. Breakfast is my favourite meal of the day.
French toast

French toast is good for dinner too.

  1. I hate ironing, but I don’t mind washing dishes.
  2. Easter is my favourite holiday. Even better than Christmas or my birthday.
  3. I wear earrings everyday. My face looks funny without them.
  4. My favourite music is 80s classic rock. And I love to listen to music while I cook.
  5. I love junk food–candy, chocolate, Coke, chips. Salty always wins over sweet for me.

Answers to The Party Girls’ 11 questions

1. What’s the story behind your blog’s name?

I think my blog’s name is pretty self-explanatory. I write about our 129-acre farm and our efforts to make it our forever home.

2. What are you favourite blogs?

Oh there’s so many. Sticking with the 11 theme, I’m always happy when I see posts from DIY Diva, Yellow Brick Home, Little Green Notebook, IHeart Organizing, Young House Love (hope they come back to blogging), Smitten Kitchen, That MuttManhattan Nest, For the love of a house, Amanda’s Adventures in Sewing, and Four Square Walls in my feedly.

3. Where were you born and where did you grow up?

I was born and grew up in a small-ish town in southern Ontario about an hour west of Toronto. One of the requirements of our perfect farm was that it be in the same area as my hometown. Matt and I now live just a half hour away from where we grew up.

4. Do you like to travel? What’s your favourite place you’ve been to?

I like to travel, but since buying the farm I’ve become a real homebody (farmbody?). For our honeymoon, Matt and I went to Costa Rica, and it was amazing. Body surfing in the ocean, horseback riding up a mountain, zip-lining through the forest and swimming in a river in the middle of the jungle were experiences I’ll never forget.

Zip lining in Costa Rica

5. What do you love about blogging?

I love having a record of the life we’re building on our farm. Sometimes it’s easy to get discouraged by the amount of work needed for the house and the property. Looking back at my blog reminds me that we’ve actually made progress and how special it is to live here.

6. What is the number one thing you’d like to get out of your blog?

It’s been really cool to connect with people who share my interest in renovating, country living and of course doggies. I hope that continues.

7. What’s one thing you’ve always wished you knew how to do?

It’s a toss up. I have always wished I knew how to dance. I love to dance, and I do it whenever I get a chance. However, I’m not super coordinated, and I’m always jealous of those who are. I also wish I could drive standard. Matt had a standard car, and let me try a few times. I didn’t practice enough to get really proficient, though.

8. What is your favourite post from your blog?

Oh I don’t know what to say. I went through my archives of 416 published posts and I can’t pick. I love everything in the family category, my before and afters, and projects like my nightstands-to-dresser and my barrel-to-ottoman. A post that stands out for me is an early one from a month after we moved into the farm. We had just started the basement reno (oh, if only we knew it would be 9 months before our basement would resemble a basement again), and we’d removed the woodstove that had been in the basement. This was the first moment that I realized I could write funny. I didn’t know I could do that. (At least I think it’s funny).

Wood stove

9. What is one lesson you’ve learned since starting your blog?

My blog has taught me how easy it is to “work” on something that you love. Writing three posts a week for going on three years is not a small commitment, but I love doing it.

10. What’s your favourite movie and why?

Thomas Crown Affair with Pierce Brosnan and Rene Russo. Humour, mystery, adventure, love and a happy ending. Plus, Rene Russo is a super strong female with a great wardrobe.

11. What are you reading right now?

The Next Best Thing by Jennifer Weiner. My favourite books have likeable characters and a happy ending. I’m not sure yet that this one fits the requirements. Regardless, spending 10 minutes with a book while I eat my breakfast cereal is a nice way to start the day.

My 11 nominees

  1. Lightly Crunchy
  2. Apple Hill Cottage
  3. Outtakes on the Outskirts
  4. September Farm
  5. Westlake Musings
  6. Joyfill
  7. Woof! Tails from St. Simons Island
  8. Dockwood Furniture
  9. Creative Gleanings
  10. Catherine’s Chronicles
  11. Sewing Pies

11 questions for my nominees

  1. What is one lesson you’ve learned since starting your blog? (Yes, I copied Party Girl)
  2. Describe your ideal weekend.
  3. Would you rather wash dishes or do the laundry?
  4. Are you crafty? What’s your craft of choice? If you’re not crafty, what do you wish you knew how to do?
  5. What’s one post we’ll never see on your blog?
  6. Who would play you in the movie about your life?
  7. What colour have you considered painting a room in your house but haven’t had the guts?
  8. What advice would you give someone who’s just started blogging?
  9. If you were on an island and could only bring three things, what would you bring?
  10. What was the last gift you gave someone?
  11. What has surprised you about blogging?

And for another 11, this post is now longer than 1,100 words. Time to stop typing and hear from you. Pick a couple of the 22 questions in this post and share your answer. Or weigh in with random fact about yourself.