The Frugal Homemaker is officially 10 years old this month! I thought I’d share how it all started, some of what the last 10 years have held, how blogging and making money works, some of my favorite projects and top posts, and enjoy a walk down memory lane – plus stick around to the end cause I am celebrating with a giveaway for you too!
Being frugal was ingrained in me as a child and something that I carried into my adulthood and marriage – whether it was shopping yard sales, using coupons, doing simple projects, or makeovers to save money yet decorating our home. A few years prior to 2011, a friend asked me if I wanted to take over her coupon blog and I said yes. So for a few years, I had a coupon/money-saving blog sharing my frugal grocery shopping trips, crazy drugstore deals, and more and really enjoyed having someplace to share my frugal tips with others. I began sharing some simple frugal home projects on that coupon blog and got an amazing response! Managing a coupon blog was a lot of work – to do it well I would wake up, check for new printable coupons or deals that popped up overnight, each week the store ads would change which would mean working up all-new lists and coupon pairings, and I was sometimes writing/publishing 5-10 blog posts a day. While even to this day I still use coupons a bit and am very frugal with our grocery deals, I was beginning to really enjoy doing home projects and learning how to decorate our home.
So in October of 2011, I stepped out with a lot of faith and nerves to start a home/DIY/décor blog while still writing my coupon blog as well! I remember crashing my site so many times those first few months and staying up way past midnight many nights reading/learning/taking e-courses on WordPress, how to grow a blog, photography, and more. Blogging requires you to learn about many different things – not only are you a website manager sometimes a designer, you then have to be a photographer, social media manager, oh and somewhat of an interior designer if you have a home blog.
I jumped right into blogging and did a 31-day series that October on how to decorate your home on a budget – this series is 10 years old and I am sure has a lot of broken links by now. Honestly, this is something I’d love to update and re-write 10 years later as I have learned so much!
Keep in mind Pinterest didn’t begin until 2010 and really didn’t start to grow until 2012 and Instagram wasn’t even a thought yet. So any home décor inspiration came from magazines or bloggers back then. One of the first blogs I followed that inspired so many of my first projects and decor was Thrifty Décor Chick – I think this burlap centerpiece project that first Thanksgiving was inspired by a similar one she did.
I had been also working a part-time job at a doctor’s office 3 days a week, doing wedding/birthday/shower cakes, and that November I started keeping my 2-month-old nephew and I quit my out of the house of job. It had been a dream of mine and the plan since we were married that I would be at home full time but since we struggled with infertility that hadn’t happened. We finally got peace about me just coming home with or without our own children to care for and stepped out in faith in 2011 and it’s amazing to see how the Lord worked.
I won’t share every holiday decor or a blog post but I think it’s sort of fun to share those early ones to see how much my style (and photography!) has changed… this was my Christmas decor in 2011.
In 2012 I went into my first full year of blogging and was blogging at least 3 times a week – lots of small projects, posts on frugal living, some recipes, etc. I don’t know how I did all that back then – I must have been much younger 😉 and I also was not caring for children full time either which freed up more of my time. I looked back in records and I made $800 from my blog that year and I am sure that I spent most of that in blog fees, hosting, e-courses, camera equipment, etc. I also attended my first blog conference that year and that really helped me learn more about blogging, make some connections in the blog world with other bloggers and sponsors and just give me more inspiration to move forward. By the end of 2012 I had taken on a few sponsored opportunities and my blog was really beginning to grow.
Some of those early posts continue to be the posts that receive the most traffic to my blog such as these two:
I won’t recap every year but by 2014 I was making a decent part-time income and had completely replaced the income I was making working part-time at a dr office with just income from The Frugal Homemaker. I started working with an ad network to manage my ads on my site which really helped increase my income and also took on some sponsored opportunities that came my way. I am very selective in who I choose to work with (you wouldn’t believe the dozens and dozens of emails that bloggers/influencers get daily from random companies wanting to pay us for links or to promote something). Even in the very beginning, I wanted to only work with companies that I already used/loved/wanted to share to bring value to my followers.
Over the next few years, I worked with some of my very favorite companies and had some incredible opportunities. In 2014 I flew to California to tour the Behr production plant and see their idea home and also flew to Chicago to tour Rust-Oleum’s headquarters – those products have long been some that I love, have used, and still use to this day in our home. I also have worked with Better Homes and Gardens at Walmart, DecoArt, Ryobi tools, World Market, At Home, Home Depot, Kirkland’s, Rust-Oleum, Behr paint, and more!
I also had a dream come true to get a small feature in a magazine in 2018.
I continued to decorate and furnish our previous home and began to learn how to use tools and DIY even more. When we first moved there the only thing I had ever done was paint walls…by the time we moved from that home in 2016 I had installed light fixtures, installed beadboard, installed board and batten trim, built shelves, put up a beadboard backsplash in our kitchen, built some simple projects out of wood, painted countless pieces of furniture and more!
This was the very first early “makeover” I did on our half bath I think even before blogging days…
By the time we had moved I had installed beadboard and trim all by myself and gave it a much better makeover.
This was our eat-in kitchen early on…
Our kitchen before…
My laundry room went through a few makeovers as well from this…
To this! I found a cabinet at a thrift store and built it in with shelves and trim to make our laundry room more functional.
My Christmas decor in 2015, our last Christmas in that house, was one of very my favorite moments in our previous home – what a change from that first Christmas in 2011.
In 2016 we were expecting a miracle baby and needed to move to a bit larger home… so we did move – into a fixer-upper home 4 weeks before my little girl was born – nothing like instant blog post opportunities. 🙂
And it’s progressed to this…
Our back patio started out like this:
Our living room how it started:
And how it is now.
Our kitchen started out like this:
I need to write a 5 year before and after post after the holidays so I won’t share all the before/afters of our current home and we still have many projects we would like to tackle so stay tuned!
But I thought it might be fun to share my top 10 blog posts from the last 10 years!
While it is amazing to look back and see the many opportunities, projects, before/afters, and progress over the years can I just tell you the biggest blessings over the last 10 years? Being able to provide income for my family while being able to be a homemaker at home, to not have to miss a kids program or event during the day, to learn and grow and be able to turn out house into a home to be a blessing in hospitality to others. To be able to homeschool my little girl now while still working from home, for the many followers that have turned friends over the years, and I hope showing and inspiring others that you can have a beautiful home/learn to DIY on a yard sale budget. My tag line for my blog early on was that I had Pottery Barn style on a yard sale budget and that still is true today!
This post is long enough but I just couldn’t let this milestone pass without a bit of a celebration! So to celebrate I will giving away 4 – $25 cash prizes – $25 can buy a lot at yard sales and thrift stores I will pick 1 winner from the comments on this blog post, 2 winners from my 10-year milestone Instagram post, and 1 winner from my Instagram stories – so make sure to click over and enter in those places as well. Winners will be announced on November 1. Just leave a comment below on this post to enter.