Howdy Do It – Week 9

If you follow me on twitter, or my own blog Mint, you know I spent much of last week in Salt Lake City for the Alt Design Summit. If you haven’t heard of Alt, here’s the quick version: it was a conference geared toward design & lifestyle bloggers, and the first of its kind. You can read more about it on the Alt site. Anyway, spending a few days with other bloggers and talking about blogging obviously raised the question for me, “why do I blog?” It’s certainly the most time consuming “hobby” I’ve ever taken on, and the little bit of direct revenue I see from my blog doesn’t completely justify the hours and hours I spend every day researching posts, reading other blogs, staying on top of trends, and all the social media stuff that goes with it.

{image by ghostlings}

It started with a new-found obsession in 2006 with interior design magazines. I guess I just hadn’t paid much attention to them before, but a rainy afternoon at Barnes and Noble completely rocked my world. I came home and googled something lame like “modern interior design website” and low and behold, Design Sponge popped up. I think I became her most dedicated fan. At the time, I had moved back into my Mom’s house and was taking courses to prepare for graduate school in Occupational Therapy, which I soon realized was not for me. Reading Design Sponge lead to other blogs, and within a year I was itching to start my own. In February of 2008, I did. I can honestly say it was the best thing I’ve ever done for myself, and totally changed the direction I was headed. Less than a year prior I had started doing graphic design professionally, so my main goal with Mint was to keep on top of design trends and hopefully learn a few things and influence my work. Since I didn’t study graphic design in school, reading design blogs became a daily design course in layout and typography.

{photo by ultraviolett}

As Mint’s readership grew, doors began to open. I started having sponsors on Mint a year ago, which helped me justify the many hours that I poured into the site, and I started to form relationships with other designers and bloggers all over the world. Sharing my own design projects was a big boost of confidence, since fortunately my readers are very kind and encouraging! After sharing my wedding invitations, I began to get requests for custom invitations and my shop Hello Tenfold was born. A few months later the graphic design firm I was working for nearly folded, laying off its entire staff and hiring a couple of interns to replace us (ouch). I felt so lucky to have something in my back pocket with Mint and Hello Tenfold. I was approached by the nationally recognized stationery company Bella Figura (a relatively small project but hugely exciting) and at the end of the year Mint was included in the Times Online world’s best blogs article. Over the past few months I have been getting more and more requests for freelance design work from people who find me through Mint. During one of the Alt panels, blogger Maggie Mason (Mighty Girl) and Stephanie Brubaker (Stephmodo) talked about using your blog to “sell your profession,” even inventing a new profession for yourself. Stylist Chelsea Fuss started styling by sharing projects on her blog and slowly getting freelance projects via her readers. I’ve noticed that most of the clients I get through Mint truly are the right clients for me, since they’ve seen my work and (maybe more importantly) have seen the kind of work I’m inspired by. Instead of asking me to make their logo bigger, they trust my judgement and also hold me to a high standard.


{my business cards}

More recently, blogging has helped me feel like I’m part of a community, since the reality of a freelance lifestyle is a whole lot of isolation. Maxwell Gillingham-Ryan (apartment therapy) joked about a space he rented once with other freelancers & bloggers, who he said are the most boring people to work with because they’re so immersed in conversations they’re having with other people online that they’re too busy to talk to the people actually sitting next to them.

Alt gave me a whole lot to think about in terms of Mint and the direction it’s headed, and it will take me more than 24 hours to digest all that. One thing that was repeated throughout the conference was that blogging takes passion, and those who blog without it will never be as successful as those who blog because they love to blog. That said, I want to encourage all of you would-be bloggers to get on it, because if you have the passion, you never know where it will take you!

For more on what I learned at Alt, check out this morning’s post with all my notes on Mint.

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Howdy Do It came from “how do you do It,” the question Ellie & Margot found themselves asking about their freelance lifestyles, and so Howdy Do It was born, a weekly column about the things we do to keep ourselves organized, inspired and on track. Ellie will be here each Monday, and Margot will be over on Mint at the same time.



This is GREAT!! I totally agree with you on the clients you get through your blog, they are the right ones because they have searched you out through the work they see.

Mint and design*sponge both were my daily reads at work, and that would get me through my day, and the whole reason I started too! I have to say between promoting your own business, meeting amazing people, and seeing all the talent out there what the heck did we ever do without blogs!


Twobrunettes that is so lovely! Indeed, what would we do without each other and our blogs?! I’ll never never quit y’all.


I can completely identify!!! I’m still in the beginning stages–I just started my blog a couple months ago. I was so inspired by all the wonderful blogs I’m completely addicted to, and I realized I had a lot to share also. I hope to reach a point where I also feel like I have something in my back pocket…fingers crossed! Thanks for the uplifting post!


Ellie, Thanks for sharing this. I love hearing other people’s take on why blogs are so important and the incredible opportunities that come from the online community. It was wonderful to meet you!

emily // the daily smudge

gorgeous and inspiring story Ellie… I too started a blog recently and it came from following (rather obsessively) others like your wonderful ‘Mint’! I’m looking forward to developing it to encompass my work too and you’ve really inspired me to do that! thankyou ever so!!

Sara Sheehy Photography

Ellie, this is wonderful to hear. Your path sounds very similar to mine right now (except, I don’t have a design blog – just a photography one!) and it’s really inspiring to hear what you have been able to accomplish. I thought maybe blogs and bloggers were a mystical type that were just born doing it. Thank you for bringing it back down to reality!


Oh, how I love this. I planned my blog for 18 months in my head then finally started 4 months ago. Sometimes it feels like it’s too late to get a piece of the blog pie, there are so many amazing bloggers out there.

But you’ve totally reminded me that we’re all unique and that’s the great thing that comes out in our blogs. There is still room for great blogging to come forward! There is still room for passion and success! Thanks for the inspiration today!


Thank you for sharing your story, Ellie! It makes me happy to hear other people’s journeys are similar to mine (although mine has just begun). Thank you!

Kara Gott Warner

I’m one of those bloggers who blogs for the sake of blogging, and I’ve been doing it since 2002. I don’t blog as often as I would like because somehow in my mind I think because it’s too much fun it isn’t really working. But as you say, I do have to get on it and get busy with writing more often because you never really know what can happen. Thanks for the little push!

Laura B

This is such a great article. You have touched on so many issues that I am dealing with right now as I create my own little design business. Your posts are super inspiring and I love the personal insights that you were able to share.


Thanks for the article, Ellie! I, too, started a little blog 3 months ago.. and yes, it is a lot of work! But thanks for the reminder of why I started to begin with… and of course the benefits of really sticking with it 🙂

Get Togetha/Blog Your Passion

I think blogging unveils itself to you in a most organic way. It’s not till you get started that you’ll realize how much of yourself you’re willing to put into your blog’s aesthetic and your blog’s voice.

To be really good at blogging you have to be passionate…cause there are a sea of good design blogs with knock your socks amazing ideas…



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