They not only manage one ever growing blog, but they also have two full-time careers in which they too are passionate about. This idea that a blogger sits at home eating bonbons (who really eats bonbons these days) and occasionally writes her musings is false. Luckily, Molly & Sally share the challenges, the rewards, and the journey of writing a lifestyle blog. Read all about it below…
Reality Chic – in pink
From one blogger to another…
How did you both decide to start blogging and why?
We kind of caved to the advice of friends that kept suggesting that we start one… And we thought, if we do it together we always have someone to lean on and talk out ideas. At the end of the day we decided to jump into blogging because we felt that it was a nice way to virtually store all the things we love at a given time and talk out our ideas. It will be fun to look back at past posts and remember what we were doing or what we loved… We never imagined we would love it as much as we do and blogging has made us ever closer (which we never thought possible!)
What was your biggest challenge at the beginning?
Becoming comfortable with our writing. At first it felt like we were talking to no one and the awkwardness kept our real voices from coming out… Eventually we got into a good grove with posting and the words and content started to flow naturally.
What made you decide to incorporate everything from fashion to food to design?
We are lovers of so many things – food, fashion, art, people, places – the list is never ending. And when you’re inspired by anything and everything having a lifestyle blog is the best of all worlds! We feel like there is no limit to what we can post about… But we only post about things we like and love – things that interest us, catch our attention, make us obsessed, and make us want to pass along. We just cross our fingers that our readers like what they see and read!
What opportunities has blogging granted you over the past year?
Incredible friendships and exciting business and social opportunities. We are truly blown away by the doors this blog has opened for us and we feel so lucky that notice has come our way. But the best part is connecting with like-minded bloggers and readers… The instant friendships that start online and continue into real life are the most exciting and fulfilling.
I must ask, as sisters do you ever argue about what you should feature on your blog?
Haha – we do bicker like all sisters do (usually over crazy things like clothes) but when it comes to the blog we are surprisingly mellow… We honestly don’t even know what the other is posting till we see it live on the blog so there’s really no arguing about what to feature. Being sisters we are so alike in terms of taste and aesthetic – we really trust each other and know that what appears on the blog is a true representation of ourselves and the brand we have established for A Piece of Toast.
Running a blog and working full-time jobs can be kind of hectic, what are some of the aspects that go into your guys blog that some might not realize?
Hectic is an understatement! Our full time jobs come first – always – but we wouldn’t continue with the blog if we didn’t love it. As stressful as our days are it’s still so nice to get our creative brains working everyday when we post. What most people don’t know is that we write our posts the morning they go live… No editorial calendars or pre-written posts… Sounds stressful (and sometimes it is when you’re working against the clock) but it seems to be what works best. Blog time is early in the morning and after work at night, haha. We are both constantly checking the blog emails throughout the day but usually don’t get to answer any till after work… And we aren’t as engaged in the twitter and facebook world as much as we’d like to be because of the focus it takes away from work.
How did you (Molly) get into your retail career?
I was working as a marketing coordinator for an architecture, interior design firm and while I like the company and the people I worked for I was feeling unfulfilled and didn’t see the opportunity for my career to grow… I did some serious soul searching about the type of work I loved and the ideal environment I wanted to be in and realized that the buying side of retail would probably be a great fit. Then I realized I had no retail experience and that finding a job would be hard to come by. I was very lucky – I applied for several entry-level positions in buying offices for a luxury retailer and after several weeks of following up I had an interview and later was offered the job. The environment is fast paced (which I love) and I love everything I’m learning. It was a big career move for me but I’m so happy to be at a place where there are so many opportunities for growth and development!
What is a “typical” day for you as a blogger managing a full-time career?
I wake up pretty early, shower quickly and then spend an hour to an hour and a half getting my blog post written for the day, sending out a few emails and checking out Pinterest. While at work I keep an eye on the blog’s email and if there’s something urgent I’ll respond but usually I’ll keep a list of those I need to respond to when I get home. But honestly, my office is hectic and the blog is usually the last thing on my mind. Once home (after 6:30) I’ll hop on the computer to take care of emails, check out the blogs I follow, and tie up whatever needs to be done in regards to the blog (guest posts, etc). Sometimes it feels like there is no balance – especially compared to bloggers that can manage their blog’s brand, social media, and readers so closely – but devoting time before and after work seems to be working…
Sally, do you have any advice for fellow teachers out there who have thought about blogging but have since put it aside?
I wouldn’t be being honest if I said that it was a easy to work in a school full time, nanny another 20+ hours a week, and also having a blog on the side; but it is so worth the extra time and energy that is required. My advice would be that as long as you are willing to dedicate extra hours in your day into having a blog, that there is no reason why someone shouldn’t go for it. It is a great creative outlet and a wonderful break from the day to day grind that anyone who has a full time career experiences. All in all, the blog has been such an amazing and positive experience and has created friendships and opportunities for us that never would have come about before.
What has “A Piece of Toast” taught both of you?
That risks often come with rewards and nothing is achieved without effort. We took a risk starting our blog… We had no idea if people would read, if we’d make a name for ourselves in a competitive field, or if we’d give up after a few months. Honestly, we never could have predicted how much we would come to love A Piece of Toast – it’s become a priority in our lives because of the platform it’s provided for us and the people and opportunities it’s brought. And we work hard to keep it going!
Was your plan to always try and grow your site or is it more of just a hobby?
It started out as a hobby of sorts but when the whole point of having a blog is for others to read and enjoy it, gaining followers definitely becomes some what of a focus. We wanted it to grow (and we still do) but we’ve made a point to keep things as organic as possible…
Do you have any technical advice or tricks of the trade for bloggers or entrepreneurs on how to grow their online site?
We often get asked for advice on how to grow a readership (which is funny because we are still working on this ourselves). We wish we had a lot of words of wisdom or tricks to offer to gain more followers but honestly it just takes time… The best advice we can offer for gaining more readers is to comment – A LOT – on other blogger’s posts with your url name. The more you comment, the more chance you have of bloggers checking out your site. Sounds silly but it’s how we found some of our favorite bloggers that led to the best friendships. Also, be engaged with Twitter – tweet and follow the people/bloggers you like – you will definitely start to form friendships and gain readers!
I believe working in your passion is key, then find a way to “make it work” as Tim Gunn might say. Do you have any thoughts on ever becoming full-time bloggers?
Never say never, but having parents that are entrepreneurs has made us gravitate towards corporate life, steady paychecks and career development paths. Our blog is still a baby right now (compared to the bloggers that do make a career out of theirs) and as much as we love it, doing it full time or leaving our jobs for something in the blogging/social media/consulting realm would be a definite risk. Plus we love our jobs way too much to ever think of leaving them… It’s what our four years of college prepared us for! But who knows? Timing is everything!
How do you determine whether a blog is successful? Is it a reader amount, dollar amount, time, exposure, etc…?
It’s hard (so hard) to not compare our blog to all the others out there… To us the blogs that are most successful are those that are 100% real, that have a following but don’t let it effect their blogging style or content and stay true to who they are.
Being a blogger can sometimes have some serious highs and also some lows, what would you consider your highs and lows thus far?
Highs: meeting great people, making friends, connecting with readers, attending amazing events, hosting exciting giveaways, partnering with brands we love and respect, keeping fresh content on our blog, and seeing our readership grow.
Lows: growing a readership slowly and getting down on ourselves when comparing to other blogs and bloggers, posting everyday (sometimes ya just want a break), dealing with negative or mean-spirited comments, and living with copycats.
Last but not least, are there any new projects you’re currently working on that you’d like to share?
We’ve really enjoyed working with other bloggers on our guest blog series “She Wishes She Was Wearing.” It’s fun to reach out to bloggers we admire and respect and see their enthusiasm to join in the series – we know how busy every one is so it just feels awesome to have people take the time to participate!
We’re also loving the companies and brands that advertise with us on the blog… It’s so fun to see how business relationships can be born from mutual respect and admiration!