Hello lovely friends! Today I’m kicking off a series that I’ve been mulling over for quite some time – the story behind The Gathered Home and a look at my blogging journey over the last few years.
In my recent post “Beautiful Things Out of The Dust“, I mentioned that I realized I seldom talk about my mission for The Gathered Home, so I gave a little peek at the heart and soul behind why I create and why I blog:
Gathering is a creative way of life that is molded by serendipitous finds. That treasures castoffs and their provenance. That finds and makes beauty in unlikely places.
When I discover a new blog, I’m always looking for a way to connect with the person behind the blog. That’s why the blogroll is my sidebar is called “Kindred Spirits” (channeling Anne of Green Gables). I don’t want to just see pretty inspiration and photography – I know there’s a real person behind the keyboard and behind the camera, and I treasure the chance to get to know them.
Certainly, it can be easy to have a flawless online persona, with high dividing walls between your public image and your personal life, but the blogs that I come back to post after post, year after year, are the ones where I sense authenticity and feel a true kinship with the author.
So that’s what I hope you’ll get out of series, whether you have a blog, are considering starting a blog, or really have no interest in blogging besides the fact that it produces content you enjoy.
I’m looking forward to sharing some behind-the-scenes history with you so we can get to know each other better!
Plus, a few years ago, pre-blog, I had no idea some of the things that go into creating and running a website, so I think you’ll appreciate the insider peek! Ever wonder if/how I make money blogging? Where my logo came from? What photography equipment I use? I’m looking forward to spilling the beans!
Where It All Began
Actually, that’s a bit of a tough call to make. Did it begin when I discovered home decor blogs in 2010? With our first Craigslist adventure? With my discovery of the delights of thrift stores and subsequent thrifting addiction? With the realization that even though we couldn’t afford more than the “newlywed starter kit” at IKEA (you know, a few black-brown bookcases + a matching Mikael desk), I could furnish our home with high quality and beautiful things by shopping secondhand?
But to trace this blog’s genesis, let’s take a little trip back to the spring of 2012.
Bryan and I had just moved to our second apartment. We were over the moon about the extra square footage we had scored for such a fantastic monthly rent… and completely naive that we had just moved to one of the worst neighborhoods in Dallas. (More on that here.)
One morning, I spotted a dresser sitting next to the dumpster in the parking lot and the shape seemed awfully familiar. Weren’t tapered legs a hallmark of that Mid-Century stuff the people featured on Apartment Therapy were always so crazy about?
Bryan helped me haul it inside because I promised him it had potential. The condition was pretty terrible, as you can see, but I decided to put it up on Craigslist for $125 and see what happened.
I honestly don’t know where I got that number or why I had at least six responses within the hour and it sold that same day. I still haven’t been able to track down whether this dresser was a particularly special piece (it had no maker’s mark) or whether it was just a stroke of dumb luck that it was snapped up so quickly.
But dumb luck or not, it set the wheels in motion for the summer of 2012 where Bryan and I created a wonderful little side business of reselling vintage furniture on Craigslist. What other treasures could I find that people were ready to practically give away?
I was glued to a combination of my phone/iPad/laptop at all times (sometimes all three at once), skimming every new Craigslist posting under $100, eyes peeled for any signs of something a little special. You know the drill – we would bring it home, clean it up, take new photos, list it, and I then I would share pictures on Facebook with my friends along with stories about finding and researching the pieces.
It was actually a few Facebook friends who suggested I start a blog to chronicle my reselling adventures and on a whim I decided, “Why not?”
I had started several ill-fated blogs over the years. Other high schoolers of my generation had MySpace… I had several Blogspot blogs. Completely free, extremely customizable – there was no risk, so why not try it again?
The Gathered Home
I’m a do-er. Once I settle on an idea or a course of action, that’s basically 90% of the process – I might spend a ton of time making a decision, but once it’s made I’m ready to be finished already.
So for me, deciding to start a blog and choosing its name all happened in the same long summer evening.
I knew I wanted a name that evoked “finding” – the thrill of the search, the discovery of unlikely treasures. I made Bryan sit and spout off synonyms and related ideas with me – collecting, eclectic, hunting, magpies, shiny things…
And somehow “The Gathered Home” came out of that brainstorming session.
I was unsure of it at first, but something about it felt right. It flowed.
Plus, there’s apparently a tried-and-true “The [something] [noun]” naming formula for businesses and blogs, so I was in good company.
A little Internet digging revealed that no one else had already laid claim to my new phrase, so “thegatheredhome.blogspot.com” was quietly born.
A Blog About Finding and Making
I actually had no mission in mind when I hit “publish” on my first post – no ambitions or expectations.
I wasn’t a blogger – I was just someone with a blog who occasionally shared cool Craigslist finds. Real bloggers (like John and Sherry from Young House Love, one of the first blogs I ever read) were a different breed of people entirely. Special people with special talents and things to share.
So I’m perfectly fine acknowledging that it was the luckiest of lucky breaks that I just so happened to choose a name with so much potential. Without such luck, it could have just been another”Ducttape Cowgirl” personal branding phase, a persona I attempted to cultivate in high school…
Over the last few years, I’ve been able to refine my “mission” (or as some blogging experts might put it, my “brand”) – it’s not only about Craigslist finds anymore, and buying and reselling have taken a backseat to other projects – but thankfully “The Gathered Home” moniker has remained both relevant and directive.
Blog topics get filtered through that tagline to make sure they’re a good fit. It’s broad, because a lifestyle of finding and making is adventurous and creative, and hard to put in a box, but it does keep this blog on-target and help shape the expectation of what you’ll find here.
How to Choose a Blog Name and a Mission:
Whether you are considering starting a blog, or already have one that needs a little mission-refinement, these are just a few general principles I’ve gathered in my blogging adventure.
I just have to preface this by saying there are successful exceptions for all of these – they are absolutely not hard and fast rules or the right way to do things! But if you need a starting point, I hope they’ll be good food for thought.
Gather inspiration: What blog or business names inspire you, catch your attention, roll off the tongue? Do they spell their topic/mission out blatantly, or leave a little mystery? There are no right or wrong answers – you’re just making observations and gleaning ideas.
Mission statement: You can absolutely always refine this later, hone in on different aspects, or choose a new one entirely, but it can definitely help to have a mission statement in mind when choosing a name. What will your blog be about? What related topics could you see yourself exploring? What makes you excited to get started blogging? WHY will you write?
Go broad: A broad name leaves extra room for future changes to your topic, mission, brand. A very-specific name might seem restrictive later on if you want to expand your focus or if the name is no longer relevant if something changes in your life.
Can you choose a more specific name and totally rock it, future changes regardless? Absolutely! And of course, you can always change your name later if it doesn’t fit any more. It’s just one piece of the puzzle to consider.
Short & Easy: Keep your name short(ish) and easy to remember and spell. A long name can be harder to work with – fitting into a URL, a Facebook page, on business cards, or even just become burdensome to type out. A name that’s hard to spell can cause confusion and be hard for people to find.
Ex: Supercalifragilisticexpialidocious might be a real challenge. Get some mobile phone auto-correct involved? Hello, “Super Aloft Lidocaine Expired Idols.”
Memorable: However, a memorable name can trump other considerations! Even if you use a name with a slightly-confusing spelling or a more lengthy phrase. if it stands out in a crowd or has a great ring to it, that’s what’s most important.
Unique: Memorable and unique kind of go hand in hand. You don’t want your name to be easily confused with another blog or business. Do a little online digging to make sure your new name won’t be stepping on anyone else’s toes (within reason) and avoid using trademarked terms (you can do a search here), which could cause trouble later. You don’t want to fall in love with a name and then find out it’s already in use!
What about social media accounts like Facebook, Instagram, etc., with that name? It might seem like overkill to delve into all of that now, if you’re just starting out, but it’s definitely worth a little consideration up front to save yourself some frustration later!
Filter: Filter your best ideas against your rough-draft mission statement and make sure they fit the feel and direction you’re most excited about. Say them out loud, type them out (my tip: try different fonts too!), consider running them by a few trusted friends to see what they think. Just like with your kids names, don’t forget to double check the acronym!
Own it: Once you have your name, embrace it! I honestly was kind of scared to share “The Gathered Home” at first – I felt almost a little pretentious to me. What a waste of anxiety! (Wait, is it pretentious? Shut up, self!)
By this point in the process, you’ve landed on something dear to you and representative of your dream, so own it with pride!
P.S. This would be a great time to stake your claim to that name on various social media accounts, too. You’ll thank me later!
Whew! I hope you enjoyed this little peek into how “The Gathered Home” came to be! I’m excited to continue to share my blogging journey with you – more behind-the-scenes info, more juicy personal trivia, more tips and things I’ve learned along the way!
Above all, dear friends, thank you for walking with me!