Posts in Business
My Next Big Thing & Why I've Been So Quiet Lately

Hello dear friends and longtime readers. I felt like sitting down before you today to talk a little about my future as a blogger, how I got here, the future of blogging in general and why I’ve been so quiet lately. I think I’ll first tackle my journey.

HOW I GOT HERE

I started blogging nearly 13 years ago, in January 2006. When I started, I just wanted to write stuff. I had a lot of good ideas and resources, and I still do - I never got sick of it - I still LOVE decor and design. Someone once told me years ago to be careful when it comes to your heart. You can fool around with a person, thinking it’s just a game or a temporary passion, then suddenly you realize you need them in your life forever and this person was never meant to be “passing through” or merely a stepping stone in your journey. And if you fooled around with the wrong person, it can break your heart and leave a lasting wound. If you fooled around with a good person, it can result in the most beautiful romance and ever-after story that we pay money to see on film.

That’s kinda what happened when I started blogging. I never in my life imagined being influential as a blogger, and to earn a living from it. I was fooling around but this lover, my blog, became the best thing that ever happened to my career life. Blogging back then had ZERO respect, journalists thought it was all bullshit and would die eventually and magazines felt we were a nuisance and eventually, we’d blow up and die or something. And no one was making a living from it, I remember some bloggers putting “tip jars” on their blogs and readers going nuts about it, telling them they were selling out and no one will read them anymore for wanting money for their opinion. So the magazines hated us, journalists thought we were trying to take their voice (and many still do feel this way) and our readers loved us but only if we weren’t making money from writing a blog because if we made money, we were Satan.

Oh, I remember those days. I remember the comments sections on blogs heating up whenever a blogger had a new revenue idea. AND WHEN ADS started on blogs, oh my god. I remember the uproar, the “selling out” conversations, the moaning, the hate, the comments that often kept me up at night because I couldn’t understand why bloggers making money had become synonymous with selling your firstborn child to a brothel in India.

I, and many of my blogger “colleagues” back then, pressed on. No matter what. We were keen on writing and sharing but equally keen on finding a way to somehow make a living doing what we love because we saw no shame in earning money as bloggers. Many of us got picked up by magazines after a few years of writing online, because magazines started to understand our value and some respected us, others tolerated us, but together we sort of found a good working rhythm.

Other bloggers didn’t bother with working for magazines and instead, started online classes, Etsy shops, podcasts, videos, writing books, self-publishing e-books and magazines, starting online magazines, launching product lines, giving lectures, working for fairs, selling ads, working with brands on paid campaigns, selling sponsored content, etc… and others built a total rock-solid empire, like who started blogging around the time that I did and today, she has her own BARBIE DOLL.

I did/am doing a lot of those things too. Not the doll (can you imagine a Holly doll who loves to decorate and is on her phone most of the day?), but most of the others. Readers started to understand that people with blogs who were talented had the right to earn a living from writing and also from their unique point of view and personality. It wasn’t such a sour topic any longer. Readers appreciated us and our work and as many of them also started their own blogs, they quickly understood the work that goes into it and respected the big guys a lot more.

Then swung open its doors and when they were beta-testing it, I was part of that (along with every other app out there, I was always in the first group testing things out) and though skeptical, I wondered about its future and how it could potentially change blogging.

And it has changed blogging. A lot.

Most people use Instagram more than write on their blogs. Instagram is #1 it seems for building and connecting with your audience. It’s the Flickr of our times (Flickr was once where most of the early bloggers met and connected, and chatted)… But I still believe in the power of blogs, vblogs, and in using ANYTHING AND EVERYTHING digitally possible to get your message out into the world and find your people. We all have success in some apps and failure in others - but for me, blogs and newsletters still work because we still have control over them - our content, who sees it, how we market it, the look and feel, everything. Don’t give up on blogging, gang. In fact, I vote to even reinstate BLOGROLLS (remember those????) because the link backs are what helped the early bloggers find new readers but also what helped all us on google to improve our SEO. I’m thinking to add a blogroll, because, why not?

THE FUTURE OF BLOGGING

I am willing to bet that the future of blogging has promise, but only if we level up and integrate more interesting and heartfelt posts, and see our blog as our MAGAZINE. People always called cattledogs an online magazine or a blogazine and it’s true. It has been for over a decade. If you start to see yourself as boss, as Editor in Chief of your own online work, your blog becomes something more than just you sitting there pounding out content on your keyboard. It can become bigger and more dynamic and can stand up and out from the pack. The future of blogging is this: evolve it to higher level - only don’t editorialize everything and fill it with sponsored content because that’s not new or innovative. Think of new monetization opportunities for your clients and brands, think of new column ideas and most of all, develop it from your passions and from your heart. I truly believe that online, anyone can become the next big thing. Why not you?

As for Instagram, yes I believe it will continue on, but since the number of Instagram influencers is so high now, and these numbers are also hard to measure and convert into actual sales and/or loyal readers, eventually we will all tire out and move on to something else unless Instagram surprises us with something totally radical and fresh. What will that something else be? Have you imagined this? What do you think?

I believe that the future is what we make it. There are still people working in print who make a lot of money and do very well ( and for instance), despite how people claim print is dead. You still have lots of books being sold in spite of how often others say they rather buy on kindle. There is a market for everything and so it’s not always about jumping on what is popular, but to create something for yourself that works for you and helps you to build your own mini empire. There is so much happening, so quickly, online - just try everything out and see what fits.

“Only Boring People Get Bored” - Betty from Mad Men

WHY I HAVE BEEN SO QUIET LATELY

I guess a lot of reasons. A lot of work. A lot of travel. A lot of everything. And then this overwhelming feeling that I’m not doing enough, I’m not where I should be yet in my career, I’m not present enough for my friends, I don’t own a home yet, just stuff. Stuff like that.

Thankfully, I was born with a “cup half full” mindset. My grandmother Millie was exactly the same. She saw the positive side in everything. When she had to go into assisted living after her stroke, we were sitting around singing old Frank Sinatra music when her nurse arrived. He asked her if she needed anything. When he left, she looked at me and winked and said, “Now you know why I don’t complain about living here, with a man like that giving me a bath every night!” and she giggled. She was nearly 90 and still had that feisty, happy and funny spirit about her. Nothing to stop her or get her down, and when it did, she fought like hell to stand back up again. I’m the copy of her and I’m grateful for this. But it doesn’t mean I still don’t have negative moods and feelings. I have my share.

 Signing the contract for my new magazine with LIVING AT HOME at G&J in Hamburg, Germany - THIS.IS.HAPPENING.

Signing the contract for my new magazine with LIVING AT HOME at G&J in Hamburg, Germany - THIS.IS.HAPPENING.

I guess I’ve been so quiet lately because blogging hasn’t interested me so much this year. It’s like that when you’ve been doing something for so many years. You need mini pauses so you can come back better or at least, stronger and more interested in your own blog.

I’ve been really keen on my other projects and seeing a big dream of mine come to light - well TWO of them. One is product design. I’ve designed a capsule collection for the home for a company here that will be seen in 500 (yes that’s 5 with two zeros) stores that has my name all over it. That will launch in January. AND THEN THERE IS THE MAGAZINE. If you read German, or want to try, or you want to use Google Translate, read these:

SO!!!! That’s BIG News! I’ve been working this year on developing a PRINT magazine with that will premiere with issue one on newsstands January 24, 2019. To say this is a dream come true is an understatement. With over 6,000 blog posts written and hundreds of magazine and newspaper articles I’ve penned, and 4 books in multiple languages, and after slews of podcasts and videos for over 8,000 students in my online classes since 2009, I figured the magazine is the one thing I’ve been trying to do since 2011 that just hasn’t happened yet. I wanted to try it in America but the fit was never right - wrong publisher or worse, no money (on their side). It almost happened in 2012 but a UK magazine stole my concept after multiple meetings, and did it without me because it was cheaper to steal than pay for my idea and work. Bah.

I felt so beaten down by that bad experience that my idea for a magazine just laid dormant for 5 years. I had my beautiful son and focused on him and the other parts of my career that make me so happy. I put my magazine idea on hold because I couldn’t go through another experience like that - to be so close and then have the idea stolen and legally, there wasn’t a thing I could do about it.

This magazine I’m about to launch alongside of Sinja Schutte and her , came about so naturally that I can’t even believe it. We were chatting about my column in a magazine she oversees, FLOW, and the magazine idea just came out of my mouth and hers at nearly the same time. The idea took root and we just kept having conversations about it, and I was super guarded at first, but I felt like I could really trust her and decided that one bad experience cannot ruin my chance at a dream, so I continued opening up to her and eventually, the magazine started to take shape.

Here we are today, November 6th, and the magazine news is official - we will produce TWO issues next year and if I have time and we think the project has interested readers and the market is ready to see what I have to show to them, then we may continue with more issues and see where it goes from there. It’s an experiment that we are putting our hearts into with faith that people will see the premiere issue and feel connected to it, a little happier through our stories, learn about lovely and talented people who mean a lot to me, and will walk about from the magazine hoping for an issue two for more of that good feeling.

That’s my dream. To have another platform to reach hearts, share stories, show beautiful things and give my friends and the people I’m meeting at all of the fairs I attend a space to show their work and to be seen and heard. I’m just going for it and am soooo excited to show you what HOLLY BECKER/cattledogs in print will look like.

MY FUTURE AS A BLOGGER

Maybe I will be the 97-year-old of design blogging in the very distant future. One of the last ones standing from the first batch of bloggers who pioneered the movement. Maybe or maybe not. I just see myself as evolving still. I’m still young-ish and energetic enough to do lots of meaningful things. The magazine project is a big leap. The home products, another. Maybe I’ll have my own show or make the hundreds of podcasts I’ve recorded for my students since 2009 public for all to hear. I don’t know yet. I just want to be happy first, a great mama second and a really good friend and to inspire people to live their best life, to find their home and build dreams there, to create joy through their interiors and to feel like they matter and have a purpose in being alive because I meet a lot of people who still aren’t sure about themselves, their life or their calling. I love to help others to find themselves and a lot of the soul searching can be done starting at home through knowing ourselves and creating a supportive space to improve our heath and our life. What we do IN the home leaves with us every day, those feelings we create there, the memories… We wear our emotions so openly, we don’t always realize that. The home space is more than a physical spot, it’s also part of us, our core. I’ve never owned a home in my life but I always feel at home no matter where I’ve rented property, because I have a strong core and I know who I am. I don’t always feel confident or great about myself, but I do know absolutely who I am and what I stand for. I learned all of this through my home. Through my objects. My story is all around me and when I figured that out, I understood my place, my role, my life.

Anyway… I love you all and hope you will follow me on my next ride, a magazine, more books (I’m sure!) and whatever else I have energy and time for. I just want to make myself happy through my work and in the process, make you happy too. Let’s see how I do for 2019.

Love,

Holly



Essay: I Was Scared Of 4-Year-Olds Today But Learned Something Valuable

I want to write something personal here again because I’ve not done so in months… I guess it’s because something “personal” usually has to be inspired by a certain mood and then, I imagine if it’s really that interesting to belong on my blog or not. Well, I’m not sure how interesting this post will be, but I definitely got inspired by something funny that happened to me today and felt like sharing because I wonder if some of you are out there and can relate in some way to how I feel. Today’s experience was nice though, it resulted in me getting a big invisible hug - a hug that I really, really needed right now, a hug that I’ve craved for months.

Annie Spratt

First of all, I had a great day. It began with a smoothie and rewarding work in my office, then I met a friend and had coffee, and later, I went shopping in the city and got distracted by goddamn Gucci bags again (I can’t explain my sudden interest in Gucci, I’m not even a brand-y person, I blame Instagram), but then… An emergency text arrived.

My son’s pre-K needed me to watch the kids to fill in for my husband since he couldn’t do it. (There was a teacher’s meeting and parents volunteer to help at the school we belong to.) Anyway, I was feeling tired and not so keen on going in, mostly because I hadn’t planned on it and had a 4pm conference call with a brand I freelance for, so I knew being with kids from 3-4pm would be tough.

Thing is, I care about my son and I want the school and the kids to like me, because then he is treated well too. I also reasoned that if I timed it right, I could do the call on the way home from the school anyway, so everyone wins. The school, my client, me.

I rushed in panting a bit from running up 3 flights of subway stairs (which made me very aware that I have to work out more), literally dropped my shopping bags on the floor (H&M, not Gucci), and said hello to all of the cute little 4-year-old faces greeting me. They didn’t really know what to expect from me because this was my first time watching them. I usually go in and out of the school quickly to pick up my little boy, so they know me but they have no clue what my personality is like.

BUT I had a strange first thought when I saw them.

I’m embarrassed to admit this.

I was worried they wouldn’t LIKE ME. (I want to not publish this post after writing that.)

I was actually SCARED they wouldn’t like me.

Had my son been there, I wouldn’t have given it much thought, but he was already home with his father. So it was just me and 12 kids and another parent volunteering whom all of the kids seemed to know and love. But yeah, I was scared of these kids.

I didn’t know why I was scared and even intimidated by them, but I turned that mental switch off and smiled, delivered a good time to them, was totally myself and got them cracking up and some were even on my lap by the time I left. We danced and later, played on the floor with plastic animals. When their parents came to collect them, they didn’t jump up and run off, instead they made their parents WAIT until they were finished with me. Some asked what certain German words were in English and also taught me some new German animal names when I got stuck on a few of them (like Chimpanzee / Schimpanse - more or less the same word!). It was cute and very special.

When I walked home, I had my conference call and by the time I turned my key in the front door, I felt DAMN GOOD. No, actually, I felt GREAT.

After getting home and sorting through a few emails along with the dinner and bedtime routine for my little boy, I thought more about my feelings and tried to get to the heart of WHY I was initially so scared of a pack of kids. What was at the root of this?

The more I thought, the more I realized something. 1. You can’t bullshit kids. You can bullshit adults and they can bullshit you right back. With kids, they see YOU. It’s intimate. You cannot pretend to be happy or feel good if you don’t. You can’t pretend much of anything with kids because they see through it all and even call you out on it. 2. I often second-guess what people’s reasons are when they REALLY like me. Like, I think it’s because they need something FROM me, not because they just like me for me.

I didn’t realize the 2nd part of that until today, but when I think about it, I really, truly do get worn out by this - not ever knowing if people like you for you.

I never did this before I was in a position in my career where I was able to really influence and help other people as I can and do in my current role. When you have a job with a certain measure of fame and success, you sometimes DO wonder if people like you for YOU or do they like you for what you are able to give to them. Whether it’s in your company, your position in another company, or on the internet, sometimes a job can make you feel that way.

Even family. My little boy doesn’t mean to, but every day he asks that I buy him toys, or give him candy, or let him please please please watch a show on television… And when I say no, which I do a lot of, he gets so pissed and suddenly mama is no longer cool or special - mama is the bad one. This goes on all day and ranges in intensity, but I heard this continues for as long as your kids live at home with you, so this is something I need to learn how to manage emotionally (any tips?). I guess this is just normal family dynamics and a case of being married for a long time, because I often feel my husband doesn’t even “see” me anymore. Like what I do is just expected.

I hear a lot of women feel this way, especially mothers but few people talk about this stuff on the internet - because on the internet, your home has to look perfect, you have to look perfect, and your family life has to look like The Stepford Wives Instagram edition.

During my hour spent with kids who needed NOTHING from me but to give them a warm, happy feeling and to be playful - not to buy them something, manage something, sell something, hustle something for them… well it was BEAUTIFUL.

It made my heart feel bigger and fuller than it has in a really long time, to sit on the floor with those cute kids today. It was a wonderfully warm feeling to really experience unconditional love and I wondered about how to get this more in my life - not just sporadically but regularly.

Anyway, I wanted to write this because I had no idea how much it affected me, how much it was draining me, to not feel needed for just me being me. It reminded me of how basic humans really are, how at the end of the day, we really just want to feel needed. To make someone laugh. That’s it.

Photo by on

When Everyone Goes Right, Go Left

Hey, hey everyone! How are you doing out there??? I'm good, just getting my groove and focus back after a long hot summer that had a lot of beach vacations and country drives on my agenda! In fact, I really lingered and spoiled myself this summer because we had the best summer weather in all of the 9 years I've lived here in Europe and I had to take advantage of it. It was like 4-5 months of non-stop sun and beauty. Even today, it's September 4th and 82 degrees and sunny. I feel like it's been a never-ending dream to have these sunny skies and beautiful, long days.

Minted Art cattledogs

I've also been working a TON on some secret projects - I'll reveal them later this year - but you really won't believe what I'm up to behind the scenes and fortunately, all of you will be (hopefully) happy when I make my big reveals. Let's just say that I have some big stuff brewing and I'm very excited to explore some new, uncharted territory for myself.

I've also decided to change DECOR8. I have some aesthetic changes to apply later this year, but for now, I needed to get back to my roots and just author the blog (mostly) alone. I'll have Anke Illner and her tabletop stories still, because they are infrequent enough to not feel like extra work for me but also they really inspire all of you (and me too) and I can't imagine not having those stories on my blog right now. I love all of my writers, but I really want to just write cattledogs by myself again as I once did many, many years ago. I feel like blogs have evolved so much that most you barely recognize as a blog (they are more like magazines or websites), mine included, and I honestly MISS the times when blogs looked (and read) like blogs and were more imperfect and warm and where the author was truly present. 

I have this expression, "When everyone else goes right, I go left", and I really do live this way. Right now, everyone is on Instagram and, if they have a blog, are making them super gorgeous and full of perfect photos and amazing content. And I love that. But I also know I cannot deliver it and also that some diversity is nice and so why not take this as my opportunity to do something else and try a new approach - the approach that always feels the most authentic to me - to just write stuff here as I once did, regularly, and share what I love, what inspires me and to make is as non-commercial as humanly possible. I want to take a very organic and inspired approach to cattledogs now. I don't have ads here and I don't use affiliate links and when a post is sponsored (which is not so common) it is clearly labeled as such.  But that's about the extent of how commercial I get on cattledogs. "I want to go left", I want to still have a blog and share a bulk of my content and creativity on here, not solely on Instagram.

So yeah, that's what I'm thinking about lately - getting back to my blog roots, saying goodbye to my beautiful team on the blog, and moving cattledogs into a more personal space once again.

How are you lately? What's new for you? Are you blogging and if so, what is your blog URL so I can check it out? Any thoughts on blogging - do you still read them? Do you see value?

Love,

Holly

Is Your Business In a Slump? Or Are You? This Method Can Help...

Do you currently feel like your business, your ideas, YOUR LIFE, IN GENERAL, is in a slump? I totally can relate as a business owner/entrepreneur who has been working independently for 13 years - I get into these slump periods too. I have decided that they are healthy and good - we can hibernate and go inward for a short time, only to emerge like a butterfly from a cocoon. That's okay.

However, slumps can last sometimes for longer than is productive. A bear cannot hibernate until summer. There is a period of rest, then there is a period for action. If you have felt like your slump period has lasted beyond what you feel is healthy or productive, then I have the perfect solution for you. But first...

  Photos: Unsplash, Collage, Holly Becker

Photos: Unsplash, Collage, Holly Becker

A little background... I started this blog in January 2006, nearly 13 years ago. I had NO CLUE what blogging was, so little of them existed and we didn't have this term, "Social Media", and we didn't have iPhones and apps and Facebook, Instagram, or Pinterest. Back then, you started a blog as a passion project, you couldn't yet earn money from it. I started my blog because I was working in design and wanted to segway into writing for design magazines and constantly got rejected by editors since I lacked sufficient experience. I started my blog to write about my passions and to hopefully, get in front of some editors and show them that I could write and that I had opinions.

Needless to say, it worked. :) I've done a lot of things I'm proud of, and some things I regret (decisions, mostly monetary ones because I always thought money wasn't important until I made decisions that showed me the truth!)... And I have had periods when I felt really sick of blogging and tired in general of showing up consistently, daily, on my blog or somewhere on social media, to "perform". 

Despite the down days, or the moments of mumbling swear words beneath my breath, I've maintained a consistent positive vibe. I've maintained a lot of good energy for my profession and the field I'm in overall. I still am really amazed by what people have accomplished - my peers and even new ones who are starting in this field daily. I am so curious by nature, so I just love the design that I'm consistently seeing and meeting - all of the new designers, the ones who are known as the trendsetters, the leaders... It's all interesting to me to watch and to actively participate in. 

Yet there are still phases where I want to pull the plug and open a design shop/cafe on the beach in the south of France and just BE DONE WITH IT. You know? Like just wear flipflops all day and white linen dresses with spaghetti straps, listen to great tunes, and sell pretty things and make coffees. Meet travelers and watch my son surf. I have these visions and think that maybe it's common for people so deeply involved in online media like me - to imagine these scenarios of unplugging and living life as it was when I was a little girl in the 80s - wild, free and not an iPhone in sight.

THEN REALITY CALLS. And the reality is - I LOVE FAIRS, PUBLISHING MY THOUGHTS, SHARING, BLOGS, MEET UPS, TRAVEL, SOCIAL MEDIA, COMMUNICATING, CONNECTING, MY BUSINESS and my LIFE in the city here in northern Germany. And I am super motivated to keep going in this forward motion and pursue my dreams in this industry because, well, why not?

However, slumps and down times and feelings of OMG I WANT OUT lurk in the hearts of all creatives and all who are making a living doing what they love because it's only human. You can also bet that even me as the shop/cafe on the beach owner would have days when I didn't want to be there, I wouldn't want to open up and make 100 coffees, or I'd feel sick or bored with being a shop owner. No matter what we are doing in life, there are always greener pastures. There is always MORE.

  Photo: Susanne Irmer, Shown: Holly Becker

Photo: Susanne Irmer, Shown: Holly Becker

That is why I decided to to others because it's how I've stayed sane and inspired and how I've kept going, stayed profitable and accomplished all that I have in the past 13 years. I'd never really realized that I had a method to my madness, but I do and I sat down over the summer and really thought it through and imagined how I could help others and RISE was born, which stands for R= Reassess, I= Invigorate, S= Strategize, and E= Execute your plans and goals.

Now, for the GOOD PART. You can join me and a small group of students online where, for 3 weeks, from September 14 - October 8, 2018, you can get into a new groove - a new, positive, "I CAN DO THIS" state of mind. Our fun, self-paced online class will teach you the RISE Method.

R: With Reassess, we will teach you how to tap in to your energy, take care of yourself first, identify your strong points, and find the weak places in your business to stabilize and strengthen them. We will also cover how self-care is not selfish and why. This will be a super positive series that will jump start you right away.

I: With Invigorate, we will show you concrete ways in which you can organize your workflow, computer and office along with ways to get more positivity in your life, how to deal with downtimes and creative ruts, the importance of developing a strong support network (and how), and ways to develop courage and strength to rise up and power through. Self-confidence is key, so we'll help you with that before moving on to the next step...

S: For Strategize, it's time to set a plan. How will you do the things you want to do? We'll show you how to put together a solid plan of action, how other business owners do it with interviews and case studies, how we do it and lots of tips and ideas for planning using Milanote, basic organization, and follow through.

E: And finally, Execute. No more worries, no more excuses. This is where you will learn how to execute your plans fearlessly and with courage, how to market effectively on social media platforms, understanding SEO and how to use it to boost your business and get more eyes on your website/blog, various apps we love and our favorite things from the best newsletter apps to invoicing software, Instagram Stories apps we love, and more!

Bottom line: I want to help you to get the courage and energy to climb out of your current rut (or if you're just beginning a new business endeavor, this class will help you, too!) and work on your business and goals with tons of support from us, encouragement, tools and help along the way. The magic is inside of you already - we are going to show you how to tap into it, pull it out and use it.

You can register easily below. Hope to see you in class, it will be nice to work with you personally and you can also make new friends and network in our private student-only forum - which I encourage.

 

See you!

Love,

Holly