Instagram Q & A | Business

Marian ParsonsRunning a Business41 Comments

I got so busy with other things, that I left this series hanging!  A few weeks ago (months at this point), I opened my Instagram Stories up for questions and I’ve been answering most of those in blog posts.  If you missed those posts and want to see them, you can find them here…

Instagram Q & A Home Stuff

Instagram Q & A Milk Paint Line

In today’s post, I’m answering questions asked about my business.  I tried to condense similar and repeat questions into one, so this post wouldn’t be a short book!


Is it difficult to maintain consistency with blogging and social media posts?

I would say it is sometimes difficult.  I have been blogging for almost 10 years and I took it seriously right from the beginning.  I’ve always viewed it as a part of my job, so I do it even when I don’t feel like it.  Every once in a while I’ll skip a day when I would normally post, but that’s pretty rare.  I struggle a bit more with consistency in social media posts.  When I first entered the blog world, utilizing social media just wasn’t a big factor in growing a blog.  It was beneficial, but not necessary.  Now, it’s become an important part of the business of blogging.  So, I’ve had to adapt and embrace some social media platforms I might not use otherwise.  In fact, everything I do on social media is for professional purposes.  I don’t even have personal accounts, except for Facebook and that’s because they force you to have one in order to have a business page.

As amazing as social media is for promoting a business, I have noticed the negative effects on me as a person.  It feeds discontentment and encourages comparison.  For those reasons, I have started to set time limits for social media apps on my phone and I’ve been more intentional about what kind of posts I’m engaging with, so my feed is encouraging and inspirational.  I can’t believe what a difference those small changes have made so far in my mindset!

So, blogging is much easier for me and social media is a bit of a love/hate relationship!

Were you nervous when you started a blog? I am 54 years old, almost empty nester, thinking about blogging…

Yes!  I wasn’t too nervous when I set up the blog, but I was nervous when I pushed the publish button for the first time.  But then I realized that only two people were reading it and I didn’t need to be nervous about Jeff or my mom reading what I wrote!

The nice thing about starting a blog is that you have time to grow as your audience grows.  You won’t have a huge audience right from the start, but will most likely have a small following of friends, acquaintances, and family.  There’s no need to be nervous if you’re writing to them and you can just let it grow from there.

Go for it!

What did you do before you started your blog? How did you decide to start one?

Before I started my blog, I was a stay at home mom.  And before that, I worked in the technical recruiting field for several years!  Can you imagine me in the corporate world?  They didn’t know what to do with me sometimes.

If you’d like to read the full story of how and why I started a blog, you can read all about it HERE.

As a blogger, has there been anything you have been afraid to share? Such as your faith or struggles?

Oh, many, many things!  I have to confess that I used to be much more open with my blog audience, but after doing this for several years, I have learned that there are some places that I’m just not going to go because it seems to draw in negative comments.  Now, I can take constructive criticism and respectful disagreement.  It’s okay with me if someone hates a decorating decision or dresser I paint.  But I have been on the receiving end of real ugliness that was directed at me as a person…  like being called a bad mom, a traitor, and a sell-out just to name a few.  People will pick on how I look, how I dress, and even when I put up and take down my Christmas tree.

I wish I could say that negative comments I’ve received over the years haven’t affected me, but they collectively have.  And that’s my fault.   I have allowed them to make me a little more hesitant to share certain aspects of my business and of myself personally.  I’m working on that, though…on becoming more open again, but it’s a process that takes time and practice.  I know those comments come from a small handful of people who are maybe having a bad day or they have lost their tact filter or they are just not nice in general.  And I don’t want to censor myself for a small handful of people who probably won’t like me no matter what I do.

Do you plan to do shows in Minnesota, similar to Lucketts?

Yes!  I will be teaching MMS Milk Paint workshops and selling some antiques at Junk Bonanza in Shakopee, MN this spring – April 11-13, 2019.  I won’t be bringing two 20′ trucks as I did to Lucketts, but probably a small van load with a couple of furniture pieces and some ironstone and other smalls.  I’ll be sharing the space with my amazing MMS Milk Paint vendor from Buffalo, MN, The Porch & Atelier.    The owner is a styling and merchandising master with flawless taste, so I’m excited about watching her in action.  We will, of course, be selling the paint and finishes as well!

How is the marketing of your ideas coming in Hobby Lobby? Anything exciting and new going on there?

I spent a couple of years designing hundreds of products, some of which were sold in Hobby Lobby, on Decor Steals, Antique Farmhouse, and through a few wholesale companies.  It was hard to know where the products would end up, though.  One would just pop up here and there.  For example, I designed a Seed & Supply sign that ended up in a shop that ended up in a photo on Liz Marie’s Instagram feed.

I have decided to shift gears with design work now.  I really enjoyed watching my designs come to life and seeing some of them in stores and homes.  I learned a lot about design and production.  It was “buckshot” work, though, and was a little too far from the end customer to be rewarding for me long term.

I am so glad I did it for a while, so I could learn the process and continue to do design work in the future.  You still might see some of my designs in the marketplace, but I’m not sure where they’ll pop up!

What project are you most proud of?

I think I’m most proud of my blog.  I’ve been writing on it consistently for almost 10 years, so it’s my biggest body of creative work and has been the heart of my business since I first launched it.  I can’t imagine where my business would be without it.

I’m also proud of the milk paint line.  I had no idea someone like me, without any business or design experience, could design and launch a successful product line.  Of course, I didn’t do it on my own.  The right people (manufacturer, retailers, label designers, etc.) came along at just the right time we collectively worked together to get the idea off the ground.

How do you prioritize which projects you work on first?

It depends on the day and the season of business.  I like being organized and strategic, but I don’t like being overly-scheduled or having to force myself to work on something simply because it’s on that day’s agenda.  I work in an organic way, so I can spend time on the things I’m excited or curious about, but I also have to pay attention to deadlines and make sure I’m setting aside time to develop new projects and ideas.

So, I would say I prioritize by deadlines, profit, and what I’m excited to accomplish.

Have you found that your business has suffered a lot with the move?

No, it hasn’t suffered, but it has changed and that was intentional.  I was ready for a change.  I was ready to work from home again and give myself a break from working on furniture all the time.  I wanted to work on a new house and spend more time on art and design projects.  The move gave me a natural time to make those changes.  I would say that I’m still adjusting to those changes, but they’ve been good for this season of life.

I hope this gives you a little look into how I run my business.  If you’d like to read the entire story of how my business began, you can check it out HERE.

PS – I listed a big grouping of original oil paintings for auction yesterday!  Click HERE if you’re interested in checking them out or placing a bid.  I have paintings listed in still life, portraits, animals, and landscape.



Instagram Q & A | Business

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41 Comments on “Instagram Q & A | Business”

  1. Your paintings are quite lovely. My favorite is the white barn. It really seems to capture the beauty and serenity of farmhouse style. I thoroughly enjoy your posts and your honesty is very refreshing compared to the bloggers that just blog, brag and buy all the time.

  2. I love your story Marian and I can tell through these last few years that I started following your blog that you are a wonderful person. I feel bad that people can be so hurtful in their responses to you online. Your paintings are so incredibly beautiful!!!

    1. Thank you, Linda. I am always shocked at how people will behave online to me or to anyone else. It’s definitely one of the ugly sides of this online space. The good news is that it’s overwhelmingly a positive and fun space!

  3. I can see how you have grown artistically since your move. It’s awesome! Your home is beautiful and so is your business! I do have an idea and I know that there are others who do this. (Thanks to your blog! 😉 ) I think you should do the murals on wallpaper. Your dining room is one of my favorite projects and I just love it! Thank you for sharing with us. We truly appreciate it! Have a blessed day!

  4. I so appreciate the time you spend on your blog. I have followed your for years. You always inspire me. I talk about you to my friends. Love what you do and I hate it when someone is unkind to you. I always think, if you can’t say something nice don’t say anything at all. I rarely miss a day of checking for your post. Often you are my first early morning stop. So thank you. Thank you for being a bright spot in my day.

  5. I have always loved you, Marian, and always will. I’m so grateful for the connections we have had, and I am sincerely in awe of you and am so inspired by you. I always will be a voice of encouragement, dear sister.

  6. Marian,
    I’ve noticed the same effect of discouragement and dissatisfaction with Pinterest; perhaps there are more images and text online for our eyes and hearts to absorb than God gave us the capacity to process. I’m patting you on the back for prioritizing self-soul-and family care.

  7. Ah… You are really selling the “Bridge over Troubled Waters” painting. I do love it. Very inspiring. Hope you get a lot for it.

  8. I think I would keep those boundaries in place and share only what feels “safe”. And what feels safe may change over time….

  9. I am a recent follower of your blog. I truly enjoy your blog and your IG account. (I don’t do Facebook). I am thankful for young, creative women like you, that inspire old women like me. God has given you many talents and what a blessing that you are so willing to share. Keep up the good work! You are inspiring… and where do you get all your energy? My stars, you are one busy lady.

  10. I have been a subscriber to your blog longer than I can remember. I miss the furniture refinishing you used to do, but I understand that there is nothing constant but change. 🙂 I am still able to learn from you and am a bit green with envy that you are in Minnesota where my mom dad’s families live. Not so jealous of all that snow though. It never ceases to amaze me how cruel people can be, on purpose, with their words. If I see it on Facebook I try to deflect it. Bullies are everywhere. Your portraits are amazing. I can’t help but wonder if you will do your family and children. What wonderful heirlooms they would be.

    1. Oh my goodness what a wonderful idea! Marion I hope you consider or maybe already have painted your children!

  11. Marian, your blog is the first blog I started following, over 7 years ago, and I still read the most faithfully! You have handled the seasons of change with grace and gusto! You have an incredible ability to grow and adapt and embrace fresh things creatively, while still being you. I’m always amazed at the things you accomplish, and the depth and broadness of your talent. I’ve appreciated your openness and understand being careful about your private life. Thank you for being a source of inspiration in many ways to so many women!

  12. They say the difference between a successful person and the rest of us is the willingness of the successful person to take the first step. It takes a lot of courage to take those first steps. Your courage encourages the rest of us to do what our hearts ache to do, take a first step! I read a quote recently and can’t find it now that I’d like to repeat it here but the message I took from it was that those things said to us which are meant to hurt us are not meant for us…. if that makes sense. God encourages, leads, guides, supports. People who love us encourage, lead, guide, support. Anything not done in love is not meant for us. If only we could remember that!

    You have been a huge inspiration to me over the years, Marian. I have a feeling there are many of us out here in blogland who rarely comment, but go try our hand at something because we saw another human being (you) trying hers…. in public…. with suggestions and instructions and support for us. That is love. Everything you do seems to be done in love so you seem to be on the same right track, too! And I want to say thank you. Please try not to let the noise of those who don’t have your best interest at heart get to your heart…..

  13. As my daughter said, “You can be anyone you want to be on-line.” That
    is for the negative people who don’t have an identity and can hide. We
    know that you are the best of the best and a all around creative caring and
    wonderful wife and mother. And daughter! Carry on……………….

  14. As someone who has followed you from the beginning, you continue to INSPIRE me all the
    Time. Take a good look at these painting darling girl . . . . They are phenomenal! You have learned so much and come so far . . . . You should be Proud of yourself! If I had the $ I would buy them all! But that cow and barn have my 💗 as do you! Much love to you and the family!💚

  15. omg Marian, I can’t get over that cow painting, I LOVE it so, so much. It gives Eulalia a run for her money! You are a-maz-ing! we all have to let the haters’ comments roll off us. I always think to myself that they are sad, and I’m so grateful that I don’t have to carry all that unhappiness around. You bring your readers so much information and inspiration and kindness. Keep doing what you’re doing.

  16. I read your blog every time you post and it always feels like I’m catching up with a friend. Thanks so much!

  17. I love the way you dress! It never ceases to amaze me how unkind people can be when they have the cloak of anonymity. I still treasure the red toile curtains I bought when you redid your guest room in the old house.

  18. You really are becoming quite the artist. The portraits are lovely. Congratulations. You’re hard work is paying off.

  19. I’m blown away by how your art has progressed. Practice, practice, practice must be your mantra. You encourage me to get started.

  20. I have been following you for years, and now, I rarely check in to many of the people I used to follow: but I still come back to your space! I find your blog to be incredibly relatable. Despite the fact that you have found success and have many followers, I still sense the same authenticity that you always had. I appreciate that your home feels “real” to me and that you had humble beginnings when you began doing this. Thank you for sharing your life with us. I hope you decide to share more of your personal life again, but if not, I completely understand that too as I am a very sensitive person. It’s amazing how nasty people will be on the internet.

  21. I have loved following you and the blog. This year I found you on Instagram and I look forward to seeing what you’re up to every day. It’s been a lot of fun to see you grow in your paintings. I also enjoy listening to you, I find your so kind and endearing, feels almost like talking to a friend or neighbor. I’ll never understand why people say unkind things online, but I’m glad it hasn’t stopped you. And you’re right, those people will never be satisfied, so it’s not worth catering to them.

  22. Marian, see how people love your paintings? But many of us who love them, can’t afford to have them in our homes. I would love to own that Still Life painting that is on the easel in your studio!! Please consider selling prints (the next best thing for me). I’ve written to you before about this & you weren’t sure if people would love them or not.

    And I don’t care when you put up or take down your Christmas tree!! LOL

  23. Marion, you are such an inspiration to me!
    I am so excited to read that you’ll be having a booth at Junk Bonanza in April!

  24. Marion, You have inspired me for many years.
    I look forward to each blog you post and I hope there’s many, many more!

  25. I thoroughly enjoy your content and have for a a few years now. Congratulations on the success of your business. It’s also been inspiring to watch your painting skills mature and develop. You should post one of your first landscapes again side by side with your current work. It’s remarkable what natural talent mixed with commitment and effort can do. I’m really impressed!!

  26. Love your post and paintings. I adore the rabbit you did recently. Your paintings are out of my budget, and certainlyworth the price!
    Wondering if you would consider doing limited numbered of signed prints?
    I am aware of your other art work you sold thru that site , was pretty cool what I’m thinking of is different. Also very selfish, lol

  27. You are truly one of my favorite bloggers and whenever I get your posts in my inbox – I’m overly excited to open them. Thank you for the superb work that you do.


  28. I hear you in regards to the comparison and discontentment that can come from over exposure to social media. As much as I loved HGTV, watching it really me feel discontented about my home and made me want to do change to my homme that I neither had money or time to do. We ‘cut the cord’ a couple of years ago, only using Netflix and Prime Video along with an indoor antennae, so no more HGTV. I’m much happier.

    1. I had that issue with magazines several years ago…maybe 10-15 years ago. I had to cancel my subscriptions for a while, because it was making me desire all sorts of new things and feel discontent with what I had (or didn’t have.) Social media definitely does the same thing and maybe even more so. I love it, but I need to set boundaries, so I’m not scrolling all the time!

  29. Hey! I love your blog and while it’s hard for me to believe- I’ve probably been following you for 10 years! When I say hard to believe- I mean wow! I blinked and time has passed. I appreciate you opening up about T1D. While I read with sympathy years ago- the moment my son was diagnosed I was So grateful I could go straight to your posts. I wasn’t alone in this!
    I look forward to the season of your professional life!

    1. I’m sorry your son (and you) are having to go through that. T1D is such a wearying disease for an entire family. I hope he’s doing well and that you’re getting some sleep!

  30. Every email from you in my inbox is expected and brings real joy. It’s a real pleasure to go through your blog every time I need a source of beauty…Btw, if you can share, how do you make such great pictures? Can you share the name of your camera and few tips and trick? Maybe you can make a new blog post on captioned subject :-). All the best from Europe, Romania!

  31. Marian, I just enjoy your posts so much. You always do such a wonderful job of explaining everything and giving us the confidence and encouragement we need to try something. God has blessed you and YOU are such a blessing to all of us. We thank God for you! You are so special! Bless you! I pray that the negative comments will be few and far between!

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