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Silhouette School Blog: Behind the Scenes

Behind the scenes, Silhouette School Blog
In just over two weeks my daughter starts first grade...so today in the spirit of all things 'Back to School' I thought I'd break from the daily tutorial to take a minute to give you a little behind the scenes look at this blog and what the heck goes into making Silhouette School.  (BTW when I tossed out the question to my Facebook readers, if they'd even care about something like this many of them said,"Yes, but we don't even know your name" What the what?...It's Melissa. Nice to meet you and you and you...)

Anyway, I'm warning you now your head may be spinning by the end of this 'Day in the Life' so grab your coffee and hold on tight...
5:45: Husband's alarm goes off so he can go to the 6:15 am Crossfit class.

5:46: I rollover and debate, "Should I wake up now, take a shower, and get a jump start before the kids get up in an hour?" 9/10x....NO 

5:47: Roll over and go back to sleep until...

6:40: When I'm awakened by my 5 and 3 year olds...asking for a show and "milky."

Behind the scenes, Silhouette School Blog

6:45: Stumble downstairs, turn Nick Jr or Disney Jr for a quick 24 minute episode, hand over the cup of milk, and flip on the laptop.

6:47: The race is on to see what I can get done in those precious 24 minutes....FIRST up: COFFEE in my favorite mug. Yes it's crooked...I feel like that's just the way life is sometimes.

Behind the scenes, Silhouette School Blog

6:50: The day's Silhouette School blog post has been written for at least a week now and is waiting in queue til 7:00 am EST to automatically post live.  I manually schedule the 7:00 am Facebook post for the day's new blog post if I haven't been lucky enough to remember to do it the night before.

This is also the time I schedule the rest of the posts for the rest of the day...every three hours (about).  I'm rushing...the clock is ticking...I misspell a word or leave another out. (I hate that I know this about myself but it continues to happen...) I look for the daily DEAL ALERT to share on Facebook, try to have at least one FB post that will engage followers, and then head over to the blog to look for 3 or 4 more previously published 'evergreen' tutorials to share on the Facebook page.  If you notice that you've seen repeats on Facebook it's because we gain about 400 new followers on FB every week.   By sharing 'old' tutorials on Facebook it helps our new readers see content they may have missed and lets our long time readers check out posts that were suppressed from their timelines may have missed in their timelines (not naming names, Facebook!)

7:05: Halfway through the kids' show...and I now I'm onto answering reader questions.  I check the Sil School Facebook private messages, questions posted on the Facebook wall, comments left on the blog post, emails and Instagram.

7:10: "Mommmyyyy...the show is over"... and I'm hanging it up for awhile.

Now it's time to switch back into mom mode: Making breakfast, getting teeth brushed (throw in load of laundry while kid #2 brushes teeth), re-brush kid #2's teeth....


...call kid #1 to brush teeth while getting kid #2 dressed (remove tie)...make beds, put on workout clothes (I knew there was a reason I didn't get up at 5:46 to get a shower)...step on a Lego (again), find a lost 'lovey'...and Daddy's home. Wahoo...just in time for him to take over kid duty while I make kid #1's lunch for camp.  Yup, it's summer and the kids are home all day, every day for two and a half  months...except for the few weeks when I signed them up for camp for a few hours a day.

8:00:  The Mr. leaves for work...and the kids are playing together.quietly.without fighting (clearly the clock is ticking)...or perhaps it's unusually quiet because she got him (re)dressed. Whatever...they're quiet...they're not fighting...they're having fun.

Behind the scenes, Silhouette School Blog

Time to (quickly) check in with sponsors to request products, suggest a giveaway, answer more reader emails, and/or double check with planned guest bloggers that they can in fact still guest post.

8:30: Switch laundry from washer to dryer, throw in another load.  Change Kid #2 again because...well, for obvious reasons.

Behind the scenes, Silhouette School Blog

9:00: Grab an apple, the keys, the dance bag, Kid #1's lunch and two snacks for camp, her water bottle, the lovey (aka Va Va), the pool bag, Kid #2's lunch for the pool, and head out the door....oops back inside for forgotten phone.

9:30: Camp Drop Off..and we're down to just me and Kid #2.  And we're off to the Y to workout and play.

Behind the scenes, Silhouette School Blog

Kid #2 plays with his 'crew' of 4 year olds while I take an hour to work out. And when I say work out I mean 30 minutes on the elliptical while I check my phone to respond to more questions, comments, and inquires - sometimes about a post, other times about advertising on the blog, other times about where I found a product used in a recent tutorial. 

Planks, strength, and catch up with my gym buddies...

11:00: Workout's over and the pool is open....pick up kid #2 from KidZone get him changed, put on my suit, go to our Y's outdoor pool. Eat lunch, play with friends, tire out kid #2.

Behind the scenes, Silhouette School Blog

1:00 pm: Goodbye pool...hello NAPTIME!

Ahh naptime.  And now my work really begins....after I switch the laundry again, clean up the kitchen, tidy up the playroom, do a quick sweep and finally get that elusive shower (...kinda, sorta, maybe).


Naptime is when the real magic happens.  It's 2, sometimes 3, hours of uninterrupted work.  The key for me is to turn off my social media when I'm writing tutorials. I can't focus and get too distracted when I have Facebook, Instagram, and email in front of me notifying me of every comment, question, response and inquiry.  Every time I see or hear a notification I stop to answer and end up losing precious writing time.

I usually have at least a week's worth of posts written and scheduled so that gives me some pad time in case I run into trouble, get behind, or end up with a few Etsy orders that I need to fill.  Etsy orders are a great supplemental income for me, but my items are almost all made to order so when I get an order the blog has to wait, which is why having a few posts in queue is helpful.

Posting daily on the blog is not an easy task..and it's why my DIY blog, Two It Yourself, has basically been ignored all summer long.  One blog could be a full time job and one that is made much easier during the school year when my blog/work time goes from about 2 hours a day to 6.

From start to finish here's how getting a post onto the blog goes:
  • I get an idea of something to share either through a project I'm working on or a question posed by a reader.  
  • Then I must demonstrate the technique in as many steps as possible to make it easy to understand.  Most times this is a combination of taking screen shots of every step in Silhouette Studio and then taking photos with my iPhone during the process. 
  • I write the tutorial as I'm taking photos so I don't miss a step and everything matches.  
  • But....the only problem is screen grabs don't show you much unless you know what you're looking at...so all those photos needs to be imported and edited, one at a time, in PicMonkey.  
  • Then they're re-loaded back into my blog program (I use Blogger).  
  • I go through the blog post and link back to any related tutorials.  
  • The last thing I do for the blog post is the featured photo. This is where I stage the final product and take photos with my 'good camera.'  I have a Nikon D3000. 
  • Those photos, and any others, are then edited for coloring, cropping, and text/headers/overlays are added - all in PicMonkey.  
This whole process can take anywhere from two hours hour to a several days depending on how labor intensive the project is and how many pictures are needed - and how much uninterrupted time I have.  Some tutorials - like How to Use the Polygon Tool like a Pro - don't require anything more than screen shots so that is much faster than a tutorial like How to Paint a Stencil Without Paint Bleeding which requires far more photos during and after the process.

Once the post is written and all photos are in, I add keywords so readers can find the blog post through the search function on the blog and I schedule the post.

My goal is usually to get one post done a day during nap time. It's not always possible.  Some days I'm dealing with a short nap. Some days I'm working with a potential new sponsor trying to work out the details of that, some days I'm filling Etsy orders, some days I'm working on the weekly newsletter, or coordinating a giveaway,  and some days I'm experimenting with products sent to me to test so I can hopefully share them with all of you.

Everyday I'm interrupted by the end of nap time when there is always more to be done. There's always another Instagram photo to share, Facebook status to update, pin to pin, post to write, comment to respond to...but that's okay.   It can wait. My main job is 'Mom' and I always have to keep that in the back of my mind.  There's a balance that comes along with being a work at home mom and it's one that I'm still learning to find every single day. Some days I'm better at it than others.

Behind the scenes, Silhouette School Blog

When I 'stopped working' as a TV News Producer in 2008 I didn't know where I would be in six years.  I certainly never dreamed it would be here.   Of course it has taken me years to get here and at at least three blogs on everything from Parenting to Kate Middleton to DIY, a three year stint as a freelance writer, and many a nap times to get me here at Silhouette School. I never thought a blog could be an actual source of income that would allow to me continue to stay home to raise my children and support our family, but it is possible and I'm so fortunate that it is.

3:00 pm:  Kid #2 wakes up from his nap and I rush him out the door (as I switch the laundry again) so we can go pick up Kid #1 from dance camp.

3:30 pm:  Kid #1 is smiling as I pick her up from dance camp as she tells me she made a new friend. My day is made. Is there anything better to hear from your child?

Behind the scenes, Silhouette School Blog

4:00 pm: Back home and the kids want to play outside. A push on the swing, water the plants, get out the sprinkler, walk around the neighborhood....

Behind the scenes, Silhouette School Blog

5:00 pm: Start dinner from the menu my dear husband made (and shopped for) over the weekend. Bless his heart!

5:30pm:  Same dear hubby arrives home and it's time for family dinner followed by family time before the kids head up for baths, more teeth brushing, and bed between 7:00 and 7:30.

7:31: Mom, I have to pee
7:32: Mom, you forgot the hall light
7:34  Mom, I have to pee again
7:35: Mom, you forgot my drink

Have YOU forgotten you have a Daddy?!

Behind the scenes, Silhouette School Blog

8:00:  Veg in front of the TV watching some kind of show that doesn't require two brain cells like the Bachelorette (yup, totally my guilty pleasure).   At the same time, respond to a few more emails, FB message, and questions and if I'm lucky...pre-schedule the 7:00 am post for the next day. 

9:59: Move pile of clean, unfolded laundry from the bed to the chair in the corner.  Tomorrow.

10:00: Bed...where I dream up crazy ideas like writing an eBook on all things Silhouette.

And this, my friends, is why the ebook won't be out until December....the summer is a crazy busy time and I want the ebook, like the blog, to shine and I need time to do that...time that I will get in a few short weeks when school is back in and I can make sure my work isn't taking away from my little guys who are growing up way to fast already. 

Note: This post may contain affiliate links. By clicking on them and purchasing products through my links, I received a small commission. That's what helps fund Silhouette School so I can keep buying new Silhouette-related products to show you how to get the most out of your machine! 

Thanks for coming to class today at Silhouette School.  If you like what you see, I'd love for you to pin it!


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