announcing udh contributor team

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Hey folks! I wanted to pop in today to announce a new twist on the blog that I’ve never done before: I’m adding a couple of fellow bloggers to the UDH team.

announcing udh contributor team

… Ok, so right away, I realize that’s kind of a lie, because I already posted one of Caroline’s posts this past month: 13 Must-Haves for Outdoor Spaces

first contributor post

But I wanted to do it properly with an actual announcement too, to let you guys know more about what’s going on, and that other contributors are also in the pipeline.

Why Add Contributors to The UDH?

I realize how pretentious it is to both ask myself a question and answer it, but it did seem like I should in this case (maybe). It might seem like a random decision, which would then be fair to question. The answer has many personal reasons (that’s one of the answers, actually, ha!).

To better deal with unanticipated (or anticipated) hiccups.

The first reason is that mainly, from time to time, I get busy with a project that I am working on, but I have nothing worth posting about it until it reaches the next step. Or a project gets interrupted by something unexpected, like a plumbing problem, and while I’m putting out that fire (dude, I hope not literally), I have nothing to say (both because the frustration of it has made me silent/drunk or I’m internally panicking). Or for the first time since deciding to run the blog full-time, I am planning a vacation that will involve totally disconnecting from the backend duties of running the site (I tried to take a vacation last year and it was a disaster; I was gone for two weeks but didn’t really get more than a couple of true days “away”, and the mess I had to juggle when I got back added more stress than I relieved… pretty sure the site actually crashed, too, but I’ve blacked it out).

As a control freak, I also want to keep a somewhat regular flow of content on this site. When I first started blogging, there weren’t things like Instagram or Pinterest, so it made it less odd to have really short posts mixed into the longer tutorials; that doesn’t fit as well now. And simply being the nature of DIY home improvement tutorials needing to be somewhat long to go through steps properly (especially home repair), I spend a good deal of time whenever I work on the lengthier pieces (trying to make sure I’m accurate with instructions, if I have to look up manufacturer’s recommendations, etc.). The only way to make both sides of that coin happy (in my opinion), is to add a few more small DIY projects in advance. I could go ahead and try to create those myself for rainy days, and I am to a degree, but having enough of that requires a little more time than I seem to have anymore (someone, please tell me how I managed to renovate, go to grad school, run this blog, and have a regular job?? I can’t seem to remember how all that space existed). So, the simple solution is to add a great blog contributor (or two) who have some awesome ideas of their own to share. Thankfully, they’ve agreed to do that, and you’ll see these projects about once a month as long as I keep my shit together (I fully anticipate that this will be a learning process for me).

I like to experiment.

(My brain is already going to weird places; I’m tired.) Throughout this blog, I’ve thrown random things into the mix to see what works. I like trying new tools, new designs, new trends, new products. My writing style pretty much always reflects those moods. Doing these things is really the only way the blog has ever grown or kept me motivated to try again; some things work, and some things don’t. But I learn, and that’s fun for me. This is one of those things where I think it could be cool to add to the blog and see what happens… out of plain curiosity.

(I also wrote about a similar concept a long time ago, when I was in grad school; I read a book that really resonated with me that was all about taking these small steps to see where things go. Through experimenting, you can find momentum in the strangest places and build on it. I’ve tried it before, and that led me to invest time in my blog, to starting my own business, and more. It’s taught me to not be as afraid to try something and see if it works — paint my countertop: why not? turn a bowl into a light fixture? let’s see what happens!)

Also, on any given day, I will come up with an idea for a post but don’t have the time to research it well enough, such as a new design trend. That’s where my pal Caroline can come in. She will find cool design ideas, or a new artist, or take a new twist on a craft idea she did with a friend. Just seeing what she picks out of the same concept versus what I do has been really refreshing.

Burnout is just a thing; might as well embrace it.

Charlie relaxing in bed with me and my laptop

As a home improvement enthusiast with slight nerd tendencies, I love getting to do this. Every day. It’s ridiculously fun and cool. Even when it’s hard or things in my house break or it seems a lot more like a job than I ever realized (conference calls, signing contracts, constantly learning new tools as an entrepreneur, Facebook and Pinterest changing their rules or algorithms again, etc.). I don’t plan on jumping ship or totally burning out, but that’s not really a thing you can plan for either. In my heart of hearts, I’m a writer. I love storytelling. I love the journey this house has taken me on. I love connecting with people who are nuts for DIY like I am (both bloggers and non-blogging readers alike, despite how awkward I am to meet in person!). But writer’s block is a thing that still happens regardless of your efforts sometimes, and I’ve never found a successful way to avoid it completely. I can sense a difference in myself, my writing, and my creativity when I’ve had a chance to take a break and refresh. I need to feel inspired and sort of flush out the bad blockages that occur from time to time (ok, that metaphor was just plain gross and probably made you assume I was talking about plumbing again — mental blockages is what I mean).

I think adding some new, inspiring projects to the site will be fun. Fun for me to feel inspired from, and fun for you guys to get some fresh ideas!

I’ve started cooking.

*record scratch*

I know. The flames of you-know-where hath frozen over, and I bought an Instant Pot. Or the plain reality is that I’ve been wanting to save more money by cooking at home, and scrambled eggs on toast will only be delicious for so long (who am I kidding — it will be awesome, always). I have a few quick recipes from when I was in college and studied abroad — I had cravings for food I couldn’t find anywhere, and it created some things I still eat for dinner to this day when I am short on time. I have old recipes from my family, handwritten and handed down, and I’d really like to start learning them all, too. It was one of the things my Granny loved to do most when she was alive. And since I’m doing all of this anyway, why not share it from time to time?

great grannys handwritten cookie recipes
great granny’s handwritten cookie recipes

This blog has always been a very personal one, where I share a lot of ins and outs about what’s going on in my life. Cooking is something new I’ve added to that mix, but since it’s so new, I offered for one of my blog design clients to contribute some of their recipes as well (since my new Recipes page will be quite sparse by comparison to the 1200+ posts I have written so far about DIY). This will just give people who come to the site looking for food ideas to have a little more to choose from.

tomatoes and fresh herbs
from Visiting Kit’s Black Feather Farm

Plus, she’s also giving me some new cocktail ideas to try. You know… for when that unanticipated renovation problem happens and I just really need to solve it with something other than beer or wine (or you know… throwing things).

To make room.

I guess in some ways, this is a way to try to bring some “balance” into time I’m at home for work/DIY versus time I’m at home to just enjoy my home. I’ve been setting annual goals with similar intentions and this is part of realizing that. Working from home is awesome, except when you have a really difficult time pulling yourself away from work. I’m pretty bad at shutting the computer off.

wrist brace for carpal tunnel - coffee table
And that’s how I wind up having to wear things like this.

As my home and each room reaches more and more of a completed state (and no longer needs as many huge overhauls from where I first started), I’m going to be looking for the next big project. It’s on my mind a lot. I expect that this will also mean new homes to renovate, or investment properties, or maybe even something a little more unconventional than that. But I need room to do those things, to think about these things, both as a business and for my own sense of what the future holds. So, adding contributors is one of the ways I can make that space and breathing room to figure out what’s next (it’s more of a mental thing than anything else).

What this doesn’t mean…

There are marketers, PR email lists, and freelance writers who email bloggers in droves to ask to “contribute helpful articles” as a means to advertise for free. This isn’t what I’m intending to do with contributors. I consider that “fluff” content and hate reading generic info guides; I am a blogger, but also a blog reader, and I don’t want to put things on the site that I wouldn’t want to read myself. You’re only going to see the small number of people I have personally hand-picked to contribute their own trend posts, DIY tutorials, or recipes, similar to how I post things from my own point of view.

What this means for you

I know I’ve said it before, but it really can’t be said enough: I really like you guys (*virtual hug* – or if you’re not the hugging type, *awkward side-hug and a dorky high five*). As much as writing a blog like this is a very personal thing, I also know that this blog wouldn’t be successful without your support and encouragement. It means a lot. A kind comment has the power to make my whole day/week/month. So, I also decided to add contributors to give you guys more inspiration and give you guys more great content. And I hope you’ll enjoy that and embrace these folks who are adding their awesome DIY and recipe ideas to the mix at the UDH. You rock. And they do too. Y’all should meet.

What this means for the site

In the coming days/weeks, you’ll be seeing posts that introduce these folks to you as well as their first posts that are getting rolled out. You’ll also see a new link at the top in the menu bar to add Recipes as its own thing and one of my favorite recipes that I may even be eating tonight (it doesn’t make much sense to have it in the Project Gallery, anyway). You’ll also be able to discover a new Contributors page when that gets finalized (I still need to add a few links and then you’ll see info on everyone), which will have contributor bios and links to their blogs. This will be a way to organize posts for each person (so that you can see the posts that belong to a specific contributor if you decide you like them and want to see more of what they’ve done).

That’s all for now… I have a coffee pot with my name on it and some dogs who need snuggling. I’ll have some new DIYs for you very soon (including the bathroom mood board!) and hope you’re having a wonderful and productive week!

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  1. Love your site. Just found it while looking for tips on skim coating. Thanks for the great project tips and resources! I’ll be sure to check back often!

    1. Thanks Christine! So glad you found me! You can also subscribe to get prompts when there are new posts (no pressure, just FYI if email is more your style and you wanted to sign up). I’ll have another post up before the weekend’s over! <3

  2. I’m appreciating your honesty and consideration of your blog followers. Definitely on board to see where this goes :) and definitely prefer it to succeed. Just give me a few to process the change!

    1. Thanks for the support Guerrina! It will be a gradual introduction – no instant switch or anything, so you’ll just see some new faces from time to time. It won’t be practical to do it more than a couple of times per month since there is still a lot in the pipeline with the house (I just hope it helps me out when I need to move things around without sacrificing big gaps in content).

  3. Sarah,
    I love, love, love your blog . It is one of two that I am subscribed to, and I get excited every time I get an email with a new blog post. I have read your blog from the beginning post all the way through (maybe more than once?) and feel like we are friends. I am so glad things are going so well for you, and that you will continue to blog as your life/career/relationships/home continue to grow!
    Best of luck with everything, and thanks for letting us into your life.
    You rock, girl!

    1. Kirstie, that is SO sweet of you to say! You’re exactly the kind of reader I wanted to update with this post, since I worried a lot about suddenly having people on here without really explaining why. There comes a time where you realize you’ve worked SO hard for something to come together and when it does, you think, now what? So even if I don’t know what’s ahead necessarily, I DO strongly feel that if I don’t make room for it, I’ll wind up feeling more like everything else is in the driver’s seat and not me. Thanks so much for your support! I’ll be back to a normal update as usual over the weekend. <3

  4. Sarah, I’ve been reading your blog for a while now and it’s always a fun interesting read! Thanks for all you do to keep us happy and engaged!
    It’s always great to see another post in my in-box!

  5. “or if you’re not the hugging type, *awkward side-hug and a dorky high five*” I’m not a hugging, touching, type so I really loved this line.

    I’m excited about this, and interested to see where it goes. Your blog has certainly grown, and it is a sign that you’re moving on up, blog wise. Thanks for all of the writing you do!

    1. Haha! Thanks Alex! And yes, one of my close friends is NOT a hugger, and I’m a pretty big believer in letting people determine their own bubble. But I’m also a BIG hugger (I even hugged one of the guys who answers my request tickets at a party I went to when Haven was in town… my first instinct is to hug, so I have to remind myself that not everyone does!).

  6. Sarah – I came across your blog just a few months ago, and I’ve loved reading! My husband and I are from the Atlanta area, and we bought a foreclosure in Florida going on two years ago. We’ve been doing some slow renovations all ourselves during this time. So I feel like I can relate to you a lot on those two levels. We actually started a blog last year, just to be able to share with our family and friends how our home is coming along since we’re a day trip away from everyone. But your blog is so inspirational, and I’ve enjoyed reading the personal posts you share just as much as your diy adventures. I think it’s so important to take time for ourselves. “Filling your cup up” every now and then is crucial, I think, to success. It sounds like you’ve selected great contributors and will have time to fill up your cup while still providing to your blog. I think that is great! Best wishes!

    1. Thanks so much Anna! I like that idea… “filling your cup up” — I really hope this allows me the time I’m seeking as well as giving you guys even more inspired ideas!

  7. I only recently found your site. I’ll be moving into a house that is going to need a lot of TLC and found your blog to be a great resource for DIY home improvement. I love what I’ve read and seen in just the few weeks that I’ve known about your site. I love your plan for having contributors. I think it’s important to take time for yourself, but appreciate that you are keeping the integrity of your blog. I look forward to what your contributors have to offer and what recipes you have to share.

  8. I’m super stoked as it means more posts. Hope everything is well with you and your cute pup!

    1. Thanks! There are some rules about it but if you’re interested, definitely reach out to me via email (contact AT uglyducklinghouse DOT com) or through my contact page and we can discuss further!

  9. Best line of the article right here: “while I’m putting out that fire (dude, I hope not literally)” LOL!!! Made me actually laugh! As someone who has caught things on fire during projects I can tell you – it’s worth avoiding! ;-)

    Thanks for the great article – selfishly as someone who enjoys the page it’s a great idea to let others help.

    Thanks again and keep it coming!