The Cross House
When I purchased the Cross House in March of 2014, I had a vague idea of doing a blog. Then in short order I was startled by the level of interest in the house, and realized that creating a blog needed to be pushed to the top of the To Do list.
So, RestoringRoss went online in July, 2014.
I love old house blogs, and over the years have devoured countless blog posts.
So, doing my own blog was kinda intimidating.
WHAT I WANTED
Above all, I wanted a blog which was user-friendly. This seems obvious, right? But many blogs are really hard to use.
When I discover an enticing old house blog, I am the kind of guy which MUST start at the beginning. And I need to know three things like STAT:
- Why did you buy this old house?
- Can I get a BEFORE tour of the house?
- Who are you?
CHRONOLOGICAL VS.: MOST RECENT
It is the nature of blog coding to default to Most Recent posts first. So, if I discover a blog about a restoration now in its sixth year, I will easily find the most recent work, but will have to work hard at finding the beginning work. And I cannot enjoy the recent work, not really, until I know ALL the work. I am just wired this way (all my friends know that if I am late for the first five minutes of a movie, I will not watch it).
In creating my blog, I worked with Tracy at IM Design to make sure that readers could effortlessly choose how they view the site.
This option — Chronological or Most Recent — is something which Tracy had to work hard at creating because such coding is not the norm for a blog. Thank you, Tracy!
I was adamant that leaving a comment should be effortless.
Many blogs make you jump through hoops before being able to comment. On one blog it took seven tries before my comment posted. Seven. It should not be surprising that this blog rarely has comments (to the point where the blogger asked: is anybody out there?).
I was hugely influenced on this issue by Old House Dreams. Kelly, the creator of OHD, offers effortless commenting, and an effortless way to receive new posts, and later comments on any post you might comment on. Kelly graciously forwarded me the Plug-In she used. Thank you, Kelly!
My images are BIG. This freaks out the server hosting the site, and I recently had to change the host to one with a much larger server.
But I think readers should be able to SEE the images.
Another focus was to make the blog easy on the eyes. So there is a lot of white space.
When I started the blog I thought it would receive, I dunno, a dozen views a day. I mean, how many people would be interested in an old house in Emporia?
However, in my first six months I received 13,885 views. Huh? WHERE did all these people come from?
In 2015 I received 164,888 views.
In 2016, just over three months to date, I have received 86,517 views.
Now, Old House Dreams receives about a million views every month! So, my numbers are nothing by comparison, but I am nonetheless stunned by the results.
I am currently averaging about 1300 daily views. I would never never never have expected this when starting the blog.
MOST EXCELLENT ADVICE
Kelly from Old House Dreams offered excellent advice before I started this blog. She told me that she did all her own maintenance, and that this took up a ton of her time. She said that if my time was limited, I should hire a company to maintain my blog.
As I have zilch extra time, I had enough sense to follow Kelly’s advice, and thus retained IM Design. Thank you again, Kelly!
By doing this, I was also not dependent on standard blog platforms and could have a fully custom site. This then allowed a lot of what I desired in a blog.
RestoringRoss has become WAY bigger than I ever expected. Not only the number of viewers, but how much time it takes.
It is like I had a baby! And taking care of this new creature requires a lot of effort.
This effort comes at the expense of my business. Like now. Instead of spending an hour or two restoring a vintage light and getting it listed online, I wrote this post. And posted it at almost 2AM. Bed here I come!
So, restoring the Cross House and maintaining RestoringRoss and running my business is a constant juggling of time. Before the Cross House I spent seven days a week on the business; it was my life. It defined my life.
And I had grown weary of this. Bone weary.
My life SO much better now, even though it is more complicated. And the following is hard to explain but I have this feeling that the Cross House and this blog are going to prove important to my future in ways I could not imagine now. I trust this feeling.
I also believe that following a passion is good. And I feel deeply passionate about the Cross House and this blog, and these passions are nourishing.
Yes, I am proud to have built my business from nothing, and am grateful to be earning a good living doing something I enjoy. But it nonetheless feels more like a drain than nourishing.
I suspect that a great many of us have this exact same struggle between earning a living and following our passions.
Ah, would that life be easy.