letter to a new blogger

by | Nov 18, 2014 | my business story, Running a Business | 127 comments

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As I’ve just passed the five year mark of being a blogger, I’ve been thinking a lot about the early days of my blog.  I laugh at some of the things I did and wince at others.  I pressed the “start a blog” button on blogger with very little clue of what I was getting into.  My friend, and talented artist who designed my MMS logo, suggested I start a blog.  I thought blogs were political rantings from someone who doesn’t really know what they’re talking about, but feels the need to share it anyway.  From their mother’s basement.  Usually in their underwear.  Oh, and they are probably a serial killer, too.  I had no idea there was a whole community of women, mostly stay-at-home moms, who were sharing their love of decorating with the world.  I found blogs like The Nesting Place, Thrifty Decor Chick and The Lettered Cottage and the possibilities seemed endless.

I was at first lost in their posts about home decor and I remember excitedly leaving comments that were mostly, “Me too!” kind of responses to their posts about budget decorating, hauling something off the curb, the nesting instinct as the seasons change and the hunger to paint a wall.  I had found my people.

I then started to see the earning potential in it as a part of my business.  I remember counting the ads on The Nester’s sidebar and multiplying it by her published rates.  She’s bringing in $1200/month with these sponsorships!  My goal when I started my business (and it seemed very pie-in-the-sky) was to make $200/month to help pay off our student loan.  $1200/month would give me the luxury of buying a new outfit once in a while and I wouldn’t have to angst at the grocery store, calculator in hand, figuring out what we could do without.  It would mean new tires for the car wouldn’t result in me crumpled on the floor, crying because I just didn’t see how the numbers were going to add up to keep us in the black.

So, without knowing anything about writing a blog and armed with only a little knowledge of HTML coding (courtesy of my former corporate job) and one photography workshop I took years earlier (when there were only film cameras), I started a blog.

So, what would I do over again?  What would I change?  What have I learned?

I decided I would write a letter to myself (and perhaps other new bloggers).  I imagine this letter arriving in my mailbox the day after I pressed that “start a blog” button.  A letter that will encourage and warn.  A letter something like this…

Dear Marian,

You don’t know it, yet, but you have just started on an amazing journey.  One that will open many doors, will force you to grow and mature, will bring wonderful kindred spirits to your side and will change your life.  You don’t know it yet, but you have not just started a little “side thing” for your business.  You have started the thing that will become the heart of your business.  Now, don’t let that intimidate you.  Be thankful that you pushed that button without any expectations or pressure.  Don’t worry about your homemade header, rambling posts and poorly-lit, out of focus pictures.  Enjoy them for what they are and know they will get better as you grow.

Right now, you’re just learning how much you love to write and this blog will become more of an outlet than you ever dreamed.  It will become your daily conversation with friends.  The first comment you get is spam, so don’t get too excited about it, but know that hundreds of thousands of genuine comments from people who really care about you will soon follow and accumulate over the years.  Cherish the ones that encourage you and save them to read on days when you feel like your blog is a waste of time.  You will get some comments, though, that wrench your heart.  Ones that judge, belittle, criticize and yes, even make you cry and question yourself.  Some will challenge you in a constructive way…helping you learn, grow and become a better blogger.  Others are just mean, and there’s nothing you can do but delete them and go on with your day.  (And it’s okay to delete them.  You’re not stripping away someone’s freedom of speech!)

Don’t be afraid of putting yourself out there.  I know right now you won’t even post a picture of yourself or your real name.  Facebook scares the jeepers out of you, because you’re certain that every person who has been witness to any stupid thing you’ve ever done will come out of the woodwork and make it known to the world.  Until you post a picture your readers won’t know who you are, so post a picture and connect with them.  Your ability to connect, relate and inspire becomes one of your greatest strengths.  I know it’s scary to feel so exposed, but remember that this business was a huge step of faith and the blog is just another step on that journey.  And God is always good and faithful.

As you start to explore the blog world, you will see that some of your best ideas aren’t original at all, even though you thought they were.  (I’m sorry to tell you that someone else has already used upholstery webbing as Christmas tree garland.)  You’ll have many strokes of brilliance only to learn that someone else has done it before you and even better.  Don’t let this discourage you!  Let it push you to discover your own design style and way of doing things.  It’s okay to gather inspiration from others.  Just put your own spin on it.  The way you put everything together is what makes something “mustardized”.  (Yes, that really will become a term people use to describe stuff that looks like your style!)

You will write your blog for over a year before you start to make any money off of it.  It will feel like a time-sucking hobby, but after about a year, those Adsense pennies will turn into dollars and you will start to get encouragement from surprising places.  A designer you’ve always admired will buy several of your pieces.  A few magazines will feature your work and your blog.  You will be invited to join two amazing antique stores and later, Lucketts.  Yes, you’ll be a vendor at the Old Lucketts Store.  You’ll even become a contributor to HGTV.com and Cottages & Bungalows magazine.  You’ll launch your very own lines of two products you use and love (I won’t spoil the surprise for you!)  Every aspect of this blog will exceed your expectations…blow them out of the water, in fact…and leave you feeling overwhelmed most days.  So, don’t be afraid to dream big.

You need to pace yourself, though.  One day will come soon when you actually post four blog posts in one day, because you’re so excited about this new outlet.  For a couple of years, you feel like you have to post every single day.  Balance becomes a huge issue and the lack of it will leave you burnt out and sleep deprived most of the time.  You don’t need to relentlessly pursue the next dollar or opportunity.  They always come to you organically and in ways you don’t expect. Work hard, but know when to rest.  I give you permission to rest.

You also need to hire help.  I know you don’t want to even think about workers comp and payroll and all of that, but you need help.  Your brand will grow beyond what you, in your basement can handle.  Don’t be stubborn about that.  And don’t be afraid of growth.  There are times you will want to shrink back from it, but let it happen.  Lean into it and be fearless.  Say yes to things that scare you, but you know they are a good move for your business and family.  On the flip side, don’t be afraid to say no.  Sometimes saying no makes you grow more than saying yes.  And a window always opens when a door closes.

Always stay grounded in who you are and how this journey started.  There are times when you get wrapped up in materialism.  There are times when you chase the wrong things.  There are times when you will disappoint yourself and your readers.  I don’t know if that can be avoided, since there can’t be peaks without valleys.  Learn from those valleys.  Grow from them and be diligent to keep your eyes on the true priorities of life.  And having a perfectly decorated house, just the right magazine feature or a blog with a certain number of page views just shouldn’t be at the top of the list.

Resist the urge to obsess over your numbers, speaking of.  Yes, it’s exciting to see the page views increase and the subscriber list grow, but it can quickly become the barometer you use to assess your worth.  And that’s not good.  Enjoy the growth and be encouraged, but don’t let them be the most important thing.  Focus on the individuals who are touched by your words and inspired by your images.  Just do what you do and the growth will come…without you checking out the Google Analytics dashboard three times daily.

I know you’re lonely for friends right now, but just wait.  You’re about to meet ladies who will build into you and a lot of your success as a blogger and business woman can be attributed to them.  You will also meet dear friends who will crack you up, cry with you, pray with you and love on you when you need it.  They will be miles away, but that won’t matter.  They will still be the ones you want to call when something big happens or when you’re having a crappy day.  (Oh yeah…and all of those people who are the “big dogs” of blogging to you now will soon be your friends.  You’ll actually get texts from Layla and the Nester!)

As I said in the beginning, this blog will be the heart of your business.  Hitting that publish button will prove to be one of the smartest things you’ve ever done.  You will receive far more than you ever give.  Your family and readers will rally around you, making this business very much a collaborative effort on a grand scale.  And somewhere along the way, it will occur to you that this is about more than just decorating your home and painting furniture.  And in those vulnerable moments when you wear your heart on your sleeve and nervously press the publish button, you will connect with others in a genuine way.  Your words will make them cry and their responses will make you cry.  And you will come to realize that at the heart of this blog, which is the heart of this business, is just a woman writing about herself.

Marian, you are about to write the story of you.

Love from five years down the road,

Marian (and many people call you Miss Mustard Seed now, so just own it!)

PS – When someone offers to sell you a $300 antique French sofa that looks okay in the pictures…don’t buy it.  It’s stuffed with grass and you’ll end up paying over $1200 to have it reupholstered.  Just say no thank you.

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    1. beck campbell

      This made me smile. I have been blogging for over a year, but DIYing since I was old enough to help my dad build a storage building and hang cabinets (since I was around 12…so yeah 38 years!) I have remodeled, refinished, built, “upcycled” and much more my entire life! I don’t make a dime blogging but I love sharing what I do. I firmly believe if THAT is what motivates you, you will be successful…it is obvious you love what you do…and that is what makes you successful!
      Dad didn’t teach me how to upholstery, or tile, or refinish furniture…what he taught me was “if you want something nice, be willing to learn how to do make it what you want.”

    2. Amy Anderson

      HAAHA! This is an awesome letter. My only different is I started almost seven years ago and I didn’t make money for two years. I was SO unsavvy about the money, partially because I had a day job and just never thought it was every going to go anywhere!

      It’s been fun watching all of us “grow up” together, right?

      You have always been an important part of the blogging community in my view and I’m so glad we are buds!

    3. Faithe Warren-Agee

      Your heart and your talent are why I read you every day! Though we don’t know each other, I feel like I know and understand a very important part of you. Blessings to you and yours, Marian. Oh, and I’m really glad you pushed that first button!

    4. Colleen

      I am a blog stalker at one point I had thought of starting a blog when I retire from my full time job as an RN. More as a creative outlet than an income. I prefer DIY than writing. I am so glad you wrote this.

    5. Alyssa

      Love this post! It is exactly what I needed to hear! I have started my blog four months ago and I also check page views/google stats a few times a day. Sometimes it is discouraging when I put a lot of time into a post and I don’t get many views, but this reminded me why I started the blog in the first place – to show my love to create! Whether 100 people see it or 1 person, I need to stick to the reason why I started in the first place.

      Thank you for this post!

    6. Bev

      Wow. It’s almost scary how perfectly timed this article is for an idea that has been swimming around in my head for some time. I’ve thought about starting a blog for a while now but have been too scared to do anything real about it. The “What if people don’t like me?” issue is huge. The fact that you faced that same self-doubt and insecurity when you were at this point in your journey really speaks to me.
      Every time I come up with a great idea for the foreclosed home that we are rehabbing from top to bottom, I long to share it with others. And when the frustration of being in the fourth year of a two year project is almost more than I can bear, I long to share that too. Yesterday we rescued a half-frozen-to-death goose from the ice that had imprisoned him in the lake behind aforementioned foreclosed house, and I wanted to share that story too— as well as ask for advice on what to do with said goose now.
      When I read your post last week about the way you love to touch antiques, to feel the history and wonder about the people who lived with them before, I thought, ” Yes! Yes! Me too—She just took the words right out of my heart!”. That is the power of the blog; to fuse into one the kindred spirits of so many from all over the world who share the same passions and invite them along on your journey of discovery.
      Thank you for your letter, Marian. You’ve given me a lot to think about….

      • Karen

        I would read your blog just by your comment! 🙂

        • Stephanie

          As Marion would say: “Me, too!”

      • Patti

        Hi Bev – Give it a try!

      • Alexis

        Don’t think, Bev. Write and hit the button!

    7. Karen

      It is admirable to hear and witness a success story such as yours! I am over 50 years old. I have been re-finishing furniture for over 30 years and have been dreaming of a blog “someday” for several. I read your blog everyday. What an encouragement you have been to me always, but especially today! I have chastised myself with all the excuses in the book… I’m too old, I don’t know enough about computers, I’m not educated enough to ”write” to the world. However TODAY, I AM INSPIRED!! Thank you, Marian!

      • Lory at Designthusiasm

        Karen, I’m 55. Go for it! I started blogging in June, and while I’m harding making a living, I’ve actually started to monetize long before I expected to (just because I was approached). My attitude was, it’s not a high investment to start up. If it doesn’t work, you can always stop. As Nike would say… Just Do It! 😉

    8. paige

      great post!!

    9. Ruth

      As a reader it is as you said “it is about more than decorating your home and painting furniture.” It’s about sharing our hearts and that awesome Mustard Seed faith in God. Thank you for pressing that “start a blog” button!

    10. Peggy

      Marianne, what a fantastic post! You are truly an inspiration on so many levels! You are the very first blogger I started reading.

    11. Suzanne Supplee

      I love this! You are truly an inspiration in every way!

    12. Jen

      Great post, Marian. I think the hardest part is putting yourself out there, thanks for the inspiration:)

    13. Karri

      Oh Marian,

      Thank you for this perfectly timed and beautifully written letter. I am a new blogger (Since Jan. 2014) After just starting out, I was so thrilled to be featured on your Furniture Feature Friday…It was quite a moment…A moment where I felt like what I was doing was at least on the right track and that maybe I did have something of value to share. That thrilling moment was quickly followed by a sudden feeling of dread….. I thought… Now it’s real. People, actual readers, other bloggers (not just my mom and my husband) are going to visit my blog! Now what??
      As overjoyed as I was about someone –anyone, taking a peek at the blog, there was still this feeling like I was about to have a great big party and I wasn’t at all ready to have company come over…

      I am happy to report, that I successfully survived being featured, it was a gift and a wonderful first “real” experience at blogging. Hindsight is always 20/20 and it helped to shape me and has pushed me forward, as does each new milestone, big and small.

      Your letter reminds me that I will probably have many more thrilling moments to come, as well as many more moments that will make me unsure of this path and of everything I’m doing. I will try to embrace it all. Thank you for the encouragement, the inspiration and the reflection.

      All the Best,

      • April


        Your blog looks awesome with lots of easy fun projects. Love your pie crust monograms!

    14. Teresa Mucha

      This is why you are my favorite blogger. What a wonderfully written piece. You are an inspiration to so many. Here’s to the next five years. I cannot wait to see what you do next!

    15. Bernadette Rankin

      I can’t tell you how much I needed to hear these very words. I sent you an email asking you about subscribers and issues you’ve dealt with and setbacks and so on and so on…and I’m pretty sure the email dissolved into a final question of “Am I totally screwing up?!” …and then I received the most inspiring comment from a reader that is dealing with a very defeating illness and still has a wonderful “light” inside of her and a zest for life and she told me that I was an inspiration to her. To her! Wow!

      So, thank you for giving me some perspective, realizing that it is about quality readers over quantity subscribers, and to keep fighting the good fight. Your generous soul is absolutely amazing.

    16. LeAnne

      Marian, thank you so much for this timely post. So encouraging and insightful! Grateful for you –


    17. Krista

      Oh how I love this! I think I need to start doing this for myself. I’ve been in a creative funk lately and have been wondering if I’m on the right path. After a little bit of prayer and taking a few days off, I’m recharged. It’s so nice to see that even the people that inspire me go through the ups and downs also.

    18. Lisa@2PerfectionDecor

      Wow Marian! That was amazing.. Many times I felt like you were in my head lol as I am just starting a home decor blog myself.. Thank you so much for your inspiring words. You truly are an inspiration.

      All the best in everything you do,


    19. Shirley@Housepitality Designs

      Marian…this letter is amazing!…I read it twice as I wanted to absorb every word again!…Bravo!

    20. Fiona, Lilyfield Life

      hi Marian
      I’ve now been reading your blog daily since around June 2010 and you have inspired me so much as I’ve started my own furniture painting business. I love this letter, so beautifully written, and I think you deserve every success and opportunity that has come your way. You have a good heart as well as so much talent.
      take care

    21. Yuko Jones

      Reading your words made me cry today. I’ve been blogging for a year now, and I’m about to take a next step – building my own creative business – and honestly, I’m scared and overwhelmed more than I should be. Reading this gave me the encouragement to take the step, and even take on a bigger challenge I was afraid to take otherwise. Thank you Mariannfor the encouragement xx

    22. debi m

      I think I’ve been reading your blog and viewing your facebook page for over a year. I discovered your blog by reading about you on The Nester’s blog. I was so excited when I discovered that my new home in PA was in the same county as your home. Then I got to meet you at your yard sale this summer, along with my grand daughter. Your are even prettier in person than you photo, and so nice and friendly to everyone, too! I hope to be able to take one of your work shops in the near future. I loved reading this post because it gave me some back ground on how you became a blogger. You’re an inspiration to a lot of us – who enjoy sharing your words and photos and life with us. Wishing you much success and happiness in the years to come!

    23. Shabby Nostalgic Girl

      Miss Mustard Seed,

      I was initially attracted to your blog because of your name, I knew you had to be a woman of great faith. I read your blog every day after a long, sometimes hard, day at the office and I get reinspired to paint and craft through the night! I love your letter because it outlines such a fantastic journey of faith and love and sister-friends! Again, this is has been another evening where your blog has inspired me to decompress with a paint brush and a lovely stencil. Thanks for the gift of yourself and your God-given talent to reach across the miles and connect with so many others- Blessings to you, your family and your growing staff!!!

    24. Katie Coull

      Dear Marion,

      I started following you since April this year 2014 as I embarked on setting up my own small business in Scotland selling vintage goods. This was as a result of living in Belgium for 4 years with my 3 young children counting the pennies to buy bread and having very little furniture I took to the markets to furnish our home. I have so much learning to do and thoroughly enjoy reading your posts daily. Yesterday for the first time I sat down to start my blog. It fills me with dread as I don’t feel I have anything new or interesting to say. So you can imagine how it felt for me this morning to read your post. It has reached out to me and has given me a much better understanding of what it entails and to have a little more faith. I am always doubting myself but with your wonderful words we will move mountains….
      Thanking you.
      Kindest regards
      Katie Coull

    25. ellery

      This is such a beautiful piece. I have been following your blog probably since 2010, and it is the only blog I go to everyday! I am inspired by your design style, your creativity and maybe most of all by your words. I wish I knew you in person-you are such a genuine, rare soul. Many thanks to you for doing what you do.
      in gratitude,
      ellery flynn

    26. michelle

      That was so cute and so real at the same time! I can relate to you in so many ways, I’ve wanted to start my own blog but have been hesitant, maybe I will some day soon! Thanks for sharing your experiences with others, it’s so encouraging!

    27. maggie

      Brilliant! I’ve followed your blog from very early on and enjoy reading it so much. (Even though I like brown furniture!). I’ve actually been so proud of your progress and look forward to seeing what comes next!

      <3 Maggie

    28. Sue Sikorski


      Thank you for sharing such an wonderful blog post. Your honesty about both your struggles and successes had me both teary eyed and smiling while reading it. I have read your blog for almost three years now and look forward to every word you write and photo you share. You really have become part of my day. Everyday. For that I thank you.

      You always write from the heart and I think that makes us feel like we actually know you. Of course most of us don’t. I met you briefly at the Toronto trade show and you were lovely and inspiring.

      I started blogging a little less that a year ago (I am a Canadian retailer of your milk paint). Thus far I am having the same struggles that you talked out. Everyday I wonder if I am wasting my time and if anyone reads my blog posts. But, I keep on writing because it is something I love to do.

      I really smiled when I read about you not wanting to have your photo on your website or facebook page. That is where I am at right now! Although many people have said I should put up a photo of myself, I have not. Self-conscious perhaps? And perhaps the fear of being judged. Maybe it is time that I put myself out there and shared a photo of myself.

      Warmest regards,

      Sue Sikorski

    29. Elyce

      Inspirational and beautiful, just like your painting.

    30. Glo.

      This is your most perfect post e.v.e.r. And this is why we love you! I’ll see you again tomorrow morning at my kitchen table over coffee. <3

    31. Cassie T - Lovely Weeds

      I love this post, and badly needed to hear it! After reading this, I dug through your archives and began reading your posts from 2009 and 2010, and found it so inspiring to take a peak at how far you’ve come. It reminded me that everyone is a rookie at some point and it really is about the journey. Thank you (yet again) for the inspiration.

    32. Robin

      :). Thank you.

    33. darci haney

      What a sweet post! You have such a tender heart and you are such an inspiration. Thank you for sharing this 😉

    34. Dream Mom

      Very inspiring. It’s amazing and fun to look back to see how far you’ve come. I started blogging in some eight years ago however I don’t blog much anymore. It was a lot of fun in the beginning, I remember being on CNN with my son after they contacted me regarding a blog post I had written about my son. I stopped blogging regularly when I changed his diet and began making every meal from scratch; it was just too much time when I was making all of these meals from scratch, blending them up (he uses a feeding tube) and then doing everything for him (he’s 100% care). But it did change his life and he’s much healthier now and rarely hospitalized.

      Sadly, I never got to the point where I made money from my blog. I tried adsense many years ago however with a blog name like, “Dream Mom” all of the ads were porn type ads for “hot mamma’s” and your “dream mom” as in MILF. I contacted Google since I was mortified at the ads and they said the used keyword matching and there wasn’t anything they could do about it so I had to take my ads down or be left with porn type ads. It was so embarrassing to see those kinds of ads!

    35. Pauline from Twin Oaks Studio

      Goodness – 5 years? Wow! You have done so much in those 5 years! Congrats and I look forward to seeing what is next! — Pauline

    36. Deborah Wilkins


      I saw the exact same cast iron pointer on One King’s Lane today for $385! Thought you would like to know what a bargain you found!


    37. Stephanie

      M ~
      If I could give you one suggestion; have your links open in another tab, it should be an option. I am interested in visiting your peers, but only once I’ve finished reading your post 🙂 ~S

    38. Lindsay Eidahl

      I LOVE THIS and I NEEDED THIS! I have been blogging a little over a year and I feel like I just started. There is so much to know and learn that it can be overwhelming at times. I need to just keep moving on and have patience (not one of my strong points). Thanks for this post!

    39. Linda @ Itsy Bits And Pieces

      This is such a lovely, thought-provoking post, Marian! Thank you for sharing and inspiring us today…

    40. Michelle

      That was so beautifully written and inspiring!!

    41. Sue O'Mullan

      I admire how you (I think) did something totally positive in reaction to something very negative (via yesterday). That is what I call grace, humility, and professionalism. You spoke to so many today as well….. This is how I relate your post to me: I try daily to do this with the public eye (who love to stare and make nasty comments) when I am out and about with my son…. I hear the horrible word that goes to my spine “retart, retard, etc” and so much more…. Some days I go home and can feel the hot tears on my cheeks and in my heart for my son when for the rest of the day and sometimes it leaks into the next day…. but on the days where I smile at that very person – a true meaningful smile – and explain about who my son is – not just his disabilities – where he does understand someone making fun of him and what he has to go through on a daily basis (suffering with so much physical pain) – that he is truly my hero – the days when I turn the horridness into a positive teaching moment – that is when I am proud to tell my Danny I am his mom…. I am not proud on the days I leave crying… I aspire to continue to do just as you did today (although some days – I admit – I am weak and do not do what I think God would want me to do),… You are very brave and you did here exactly as God would have wanted you to do!!!!! Thank you for reminding me that I need to continue to work on this skill!!!!!

    42. deb @ Painted Furniture Barn

      Marian, thank you for this. I actually have a 2-year-young online retail site and everything you wrote about blogging applies to my business, too. Gave me lots of encouragement!

    43. Kristi

      Encouraging words for sure! There are many reasons why I keep coming back to your blog but I think one of the biggest reasons (for me) is that you started out just like most everyone, and now your hard work has paid off! You are a great example for many here. Thanks for your encouragement, your humility, humor, all that good stuff. And love that last bit of wisdom – “Neglect not the gift that is within thee!” Note to self! Thanks again.

    44. Julia @ Hooked on Houses

      Love this. You’ve got me wondering what I’d write my 2008 blogger self now! Congratulations on your 5-year blogging anniversary. I’m so glad you decided to hit “Publish” on that first post and go on this adventure. It’s hard to imagine the blogosphere without you in it. 🙂

    45. Monica

      This was wonderful…I need to write to myself!! I love how you share not all is perfect and learning from that makes us stronger. I always enjoy receiving your post and reading what others have to say. Thank you Marian for your dedication and hard work….

    46. Anita

      Needed this today… more than you’ll ever know. Thank you.

    47. teri

      lovely post. I’m not a blogger myself but I love your blog for it’s inspiration and the “kindred spirits” I meet on the links, and your zest for life. I feel like an honorary Aunty to you. xx

    48. Lory at Designthusiasm

      Well, that made waking up today worth it! Did you ever feel like someone was talking just to you? Or that somehow someone above knew you needed that exact bit of encouragement? The thing is, I do already believe in the process. I see hints of some of the things you mention, but it’s so hard to be satisfied with the small incremental growth when you see others with hundreds of thousands of followers talking about how blogging has changed and how you can no longer find the same support. I hope that’s not true. I understand things evolve, but I’m constitutionally built to believe that change in an industry doesn’t mean the end of that industry. Of course, I also know that there were no doubt many others who began when you did and did not necessarily follow their path all the way to success. But I’m not one to let that hold me back. Thank you so much for the view from the future! It made me laugh and yes, cry. Not exactly sure why, but… well, it did. I guess it’s exhilarating to know there are people out there who get it, because if one more person asks me why I’m doing this… well, I’ve just become tired of trying to explain it… 😉 Wonderful post, Marian!

    49. Elizabeth

      First let me dry my eyes so I can actually read the screen as I type. I can’t believe how much of myself I saw in your letter. I am just starting to get serious about blogging and just recently did a 180 in what I wanted to actually blog about. This was so inspiring and made me think…hey…I coud be that girl some day…it will take a lot of work but just stick it out…it WILL get better and be even bigger than you could have ever imagined. Thank you Marian for reaching in to my soul today. I need to now dry my eyes again so I can get back to work. Biggest of hugs to you. You inspire me every day 🙂 Liz

    50. Heather

      Dear Marian,

      Reading this post brought me to tears! I LOVE your blog and read it everyday. I’m not sure, even after reading that post, that you truly understand how you touch the people who read your blog! You are amazingly inspiring… And I can’t begin to tell you have perfectly timed that post was for me personally, along with many others, gathering from the comments :). I want to thank you for the inspiration, honesty, and dedication to being authentically you! So many times, while building something, refinishing something, or being woken up in the middle of the night with a new idea… I have questioned myself. Is this really going to work? Will anyone like this or buy it? But, then I think of things I’ve read from you as I’ve watched you continue your journey in design, and you go with your gut! I have always been that way, and it serves me well… Most of the time! 😉 I want to thank you again for being you and true to yourself and your design intuition (which can’t be taught, btw ). It has pushed me to stretch myself as I try new ideas I have! Thank you thank you! May God bless you each day as you continue!!

    51. judiani

      How very lovely!!! I’ve tried to have a blog twice, but haven’t had the stick-to-it-ive-ness to be even every-weekly consistent…..but i’m still soooo wishing that I could do it. I think I will now that life has settled down a bit….Heart surgery for my husband, and moving to a new, old house in another state, remodeling etc etc…. You have renewed my determination to do this thing!!!! Thank you thank you!!

    52. Runt

      This is beautiful! I love this! I think I’ve had my blog for about two years and just write sporadically. I look up to people like you! I don’t own my own domain so I can’t make any money from ads – not that it’s really my intention. It would be a nice perk though. ;] I will say that I’m afraid to make that change into owning my domain though… I don’t know a lick of HTML and my page would look bland and boring. And paying for someone to design it is just out of the question. That’s okay though. I write on my blog because I like writing. It’s more of my personal diary… I go back and read my own blog posts all the time. :]

    53. Jesse May

      Ladies like you inspired me to start a blog in the first place, and now that I’ve been neglecting it, this letter is an encouraging push to get back at it soon. 🙂 Thanks!

    54. Charleigh @ Providence Hill

      Perfectly stated.
      Thank you.
      As a new blogger I can testify that you hit every nail on the head. Adsense, comments, even the French couch (I am suppose to pick up a providential piece this Saturday now you have me worried!). I started my blog as a way to share what I love and what I love to create. As comments started rolling in and I began getting featured on some sites I started to get really excited- who wouldn’t? Soon, I found myself glued to that “Stat” button and the glow of my phone became the light in which my children would see my face. I realized that I was blogging for the praise of man. Accolades are great but I started this blog as a way to share my talents and gifts that have been given to me from above.
      Thanks for reminding me to look up and be true to who I was created to be.

    55. michele@hellolovelystudio

      it was so clear to me 5 years ago that you would blow up big time, marian. i do miss the days when you had time to respond to my individual comments. that was a fun era, but i honor what you have built and grown–it has been lovely to watch the seed grow. thanks for sharing this heartfelt letter. it’s gonna encourage lots of lots of newbies. peace to you right where you are.

    56. Heather @ Viral Upcycle

      Wow. What a great letter to yourself. And you’re right about having your readers cry. I was really in the moment with you through that…well the not so successful moments, and about doubting yourself sometimes. Thank you for sharing , you truly are an inspiration.

    57. Peg

      I love your blog! And today, I think this is one of the best pieces you’ve ever written.

    58. MaryLisa Noyes

      You have inspired me to inspire myself. Having an inner voice speak and for one to listen can be the journey we are meant to travel. I know too often I don’t think an idea or a dream can become a reality but with some encouragement from my inner thoughts and from someone like you that is willing to share the road, it can be done…thank you

    59. debbie

      Beautifully said and congrats on all your success!

    60. Lisa Green

      So beautifully written!
      I would so love to take you to coffee. I’m much older than you (mid-50’s) and have been toying with the idea of starting a blog. I paint furniture pieces and also do some upholstery work. We recently moved to a different state and since we have been here I have been in the process of getting my resale license, painting pieces, upholstering some, business cards, plan, etc and trying to decide how I want to make this new business a reality. There are days when I can hardly wait for my license & permits, etc to arrive and other days when I wonder if I’m nuts to try this. I’m not a “writer” and the idea of having people read what I write is pretty scary!
      So thank-you for the wonderful letter you have written. It is a wonderful glimpse into your blogging journey over the past 5 years! I’m not sure if I have the “gumption” to try it but you certainly have made it sound appealing!

      PS – I love your blog, I read every post and I love your products! Wishing you much more success in the years to come! 🙂

    61. Hope Allen

      this was an amazing write!!! Thoroughly enjoyed reading it 🙂

    62. Sandy

      Beautifully written! Such an amazing journey and encouraging story not only to yourself but to those who are afraid to step into the unknown. You are incredibly talented and so many of of us are thrilled that you took the leap and pressed the publish button. I have your first book and. I love it! it’s encouraging in every way.

    63. Nancy Carr

      Happy Blog Anniversary! Love everything you do, too. You are quite an inspiration for me and many others. Blessings

    64. susan allen


    65. Faerie

      Amen, amen, amen! Miss Marian, the words make my heart sing! Your wisdom after 5 years is amazing and fills my heart. May the next 5 bring blessings and joy!Alaments

    66. Deb Landy

      Thank you for your gift of beautifully written reflection and sharing it so freely.
      Is this internet our quilter’s circle of today?
      It feels a bit like that. What a treat to read your thoughts and join your circle

    67. Vicki

      You are such an inspiration Marian. I sold my old, well-established site a year ago and have started from scratch once again in this new industry…designing sidelight window curtains and refinishing furniture. This letter is a reminder that I have to go through all of the same steps again to build this new business and I need to be patient…. it will happen. Congrats on your success and thank you for being who you are. We all benefit from it.

    68. Terry

      AMEN Marion! Well said! You made my heart smile :0)
      I have been following you for years and I’ve “watched” you grow… You have a gift that inspires for sure! One question though… if it is not too personal… what inspired you to write this letter at this time in your life?
      Thank you for sharing, it is almost all of our “beginner” thoughts and fears. It’s comforting to see the progress one can make if we just hang in there and believe in our gifts we have been given.

      God’s Richest Blessings!

      I just passed my one year bloggaversary so it’s nice to have this encouragement :0)

    69. nancy

      Girlfriend, bring on the props, show us every inch of your studio, give us every camera angle you can and never, ever stop showing us what you bought! It is nothing but joy!!!

    70. Beth

      Wow. I have followed you from the beginning- and everyday I think about how I could express my view on life, religion, and decor. Your “knickname” spreads a lot of that. Your post may be an answer to many prayers. There are so many out there lingering! Thank you for the inspiration!

    71. Lindsay

      What a great post! Thank you! I have been following you from the beginning and you are truly an inspiration to me. I am so happy for you and I appreciate all that you do!

    72. Ali Foster Claypoole

      Hi Marian,
      Thank you so much for this beautiful letter. I’m giddy that I have a website to type into the comments box for Website. I just published my 10th blog post today and have 10 subscribers! So, you may not have reached yourself, but likely many in my place will be very grateful for your honesty and grace. I think I’ll print this, knowing there will be days these words will help me through.
      Warmest regards,

    73. Paula

      Visiting your blog is akin to touching base with an acquaintance. I enjoy seeing what Marion’s up to. While my interior style is different than yours, and my grandchildren are older than your children, I can relate to your desire to make/paint/fix/ something for my home. I enjoy the business aspects that you share (and many people benefit from your shared knowledge). You keep busy (as in work very hard) making adventures and sharing them. I hope you make a good income from all your hard work. You certainly deserve to. Your blog reflects a sincere and kind heart. Thanks for sharing.

    74. Kasey

      Thank you for writing that, at times I felt as if maybe you were speaking right to me. I started blogging just over a year ago. I still have so much to learn, so much I want to accomplish and so many projects to start and show off! Love your blog, and thanks for the encouragement today. I look forward to seeing where this new adventure takes me because yours sounds awesome!

    75. Cynhia

      Congrats Marian on 5 years strong~
      Stay as you are~ true to yourself, open and honest!
      Big hugs, Cynthia

    76. Sues Pagels

      What a wonderful letter and an amazing journey you are on ! I so look forward to your posts when I have time to read them. It’s like opening a wonderful magazine and the pictures are so beautiful, you just can’t look at them all at the same time. You have to savor them. That is what your blog is to me. Sometimes it is so fantastically wonderful, I have to pull away, slow down and read it again. Congrats – you seem like such a wonderful person and I can’t imagine why people feel the need to be so mean with their comments. I can take constructive criticism but plain meanness is just not understandable to me! Continued success Miss Marian!

    77. Judy

      Thank you Marian! God Bless you!

    78. Sandra MacDonald

      Marian, I just want to thank you for sharing your gift with all of us. You have such an amazing talent, and have found your place in this world! You’ve worked hard and deserve to sit back, take a deep breath, and enjoy the ride!

      I personally would like to see you take the vacation of your dreams, just two weeks out of your busy life to enjoy the fruits of your labor!

      Rock on Miss Mustard Seed!


    79. ~TJF Design~

      YOU. ARE. AN AMAZING HUMAN BEING. You are my best friend who doesn’t know it. I’m so thankful you pressed the button ! Happy 5 Years ~ I can’t even imagine how great the next 5 will be. Hugs, Terri

    80. Danielle

      Beautifully written, Marian. I should be getting the kids ready for school and instead I have a lump in my throat and tears in my eyes. You are a constant inspiration, Marian. I look forward to reading your posts every day and am so inspired how your basement business has grown. I’m still in the basement but working away 😉

    81. Susan M

      Thank you!! Like you, that was a truly lovely post. You have inspired others (including me) FAR beyond a decorating blog. God bless you and your family and PLEASE keep blogging!!


    82. Diane D

      Dear Marian,
      My sincerest Heartfelt THANK YOU for this encouraging & timely Post! Congratulations on your 5 year Anniversary in the “blog world” Miss Mustard Seed!! 🙂 May you continue to Move Mountains !!! Your inspirational gifts are truly a Blessing for so many people on so many levels!! I wish you Joy & continued success on your adventurous journeys along “Life’s Path.” Wherever way they may lead,it is greatly appreciated that you take us along with you and share the peaks & valleys, so we can continue to learn & grow! Thanks for Sharing & Inspiring!!
      May God’s blessings shine upon you & your family

    83. Marie Claire

      Thanks for a great blog to read every day! You are always so gracious in your comments, and in what you share in the posts. It’s a pleasure to see your business grow.

    84. Lisa Kamin

      What a beautiful, heartfelt letter – you never cease to amaze me in what you offer up in incredible encouragement and honesty – thank you!! I feel you are something of a virtual life coach for me that happens to love all the things I do – vintage finds, diy projects, decorating/crafting etc.- great combination 🙂

      I “found” you only about 8 months ago, when I purchased your book…is it ok to say?… at a discount store – best purchase ever! It lead to following you daily on your blog; then I took the CMB2 class and was absolutely blown away!! I started my blog without hesitation after that course and am creating the life I have always wanted. I constantly have to tell myself to be patient and enjoy the journey, your letter has put all that in perspective.

      Looking forward to attending some of your studio workshops in the coming months ( so happy to be a local 🙂

      Happy Anniversary!


      Thank you, thank you, thank you…for this beautifully, heartfelt written letter! I hung on and relate to every word…with my many stops and starts and what the heck am I doing thoughts, you have offered a glimpse of the future if you just stick to it and believe.

      Thanks you for sharing…you are an inspiration in so many ways.

      Congrats of your 5 (short) years to success in work you love to do!


    86. Krista

      Beautiful, heartfelt post, Marian. So admire your grace, humility, faith and many talents. Feel like I know you personally. I laugh with you and cry with you. I look forward to your every post and know that God will continue to bless you and your family. You are blessed to have such a supportive, loving, Christian family to travel with you on this journey. What you wrote today spoke to me on such an intimate level as I’m struggling with some personal issues causing me great heartache, stress and indecision, and as hard as I try make a decision and pray for guidance, I can’t seem to trust my faith and find my way clear. Reading this letter to yourself reminded me that perhaps five years from now in my own life, I’ll have resolved my present problems and concerns and be able to look back with peace and satisfaction knowing that I finally made the right decision. Thank you for your daily encouragement to your readers!

    87. Ms. B

      Marian, words cannot express what an inspiration you are … to me … to all that have deliberately or by accident (like me) found your wonderful blog. I’ve only been following you for about a year, but wish I had been there from the start. You’ve given me the courage to start a blog, but haven’t pushed the publish button yet. I’ve been overwhelmed by how much there is to learn, but you graciously opened your home, heart, style, and knowledge to us, and I for one am truly thankful. I look forward to 5 more years of inspiration! Prayers for continued success and blessings for you and your family.

    88. Jeanne

      Dear Marian,
      I loved your post because I am one of the ones you inspired to take the plunge and “just do it!” My sister, Cindy E., who lives right there in Gettysburg, close to you, told me about you less than a year ago. I started reading your blog posts and even went to the very first post so I wouldn’t miss a thing and read them all! It took me several months to do it but it was so inspiring and I started doing things, with Cindy’s help long distance from PA. Cindy and my other sister, Deb, got the gift of decorating, but not me…I’m the seamstress of the family…however, I began painting everything that my hubby would let me and had so much fun.

      What really interested me were your posts on starting a business. I ate them up, combing over those posts, gathering as much information as I could. You inspired me enough, that in July, I bought a domain name in hopes of starting a website and blog. I was scared out of my mind, but I did it anyway and began my blog on August 1st. My blog/website isn’t in the home decorating field, but is all about dolls…(I make and sell doll clothes to doll collectors) sewing for them, tips on how to do things better, how to make your auctions stand out. I haven’t missed a day yet, (today’s post was #112) and I use so many of your tips from those posts of yours that I just wanted to say thank you. I have 60 subscribers already and even though, we might be different in what we do, writing about what you love somehow seems to “find” those who love the same things as you.

      Thanks so much, Marian…you have “truly” been an inspiration to me!!
      Blessings, Jeanne

    89. Olivia

      That was beautiful! And yes, you’ve changed lives. Not only yours, but mine as well. I also had a blog for a year, I even met you at the 1st Haven. It didn’t last because of the day job and time commitment, but you inspired me to start and I learned so much about myself and the blog world and found my people too!. You continue to inspire me every day and I still feel like a huge part of this special community by just being a subscriber.

      And I thank you and love you for that, Olivia

    90. Kimberly ~ Serendipity Refined

      Greetings from “just over two years down the road” in Illinois. I’ve watched and listened and learned from you from “all the way over here”. Thanks for your wisdom and honesty. My “someday business” is still a pie in the sky dream but I’m pursuing it, one post at a time. Hugs, Kimberly

    91. StartCloseIn

      Oh, Marian. Thank you for this…for us baby bloggers, this is just what we need to hear sometimes. That our voices matter and that we should keep it up, true to ourselves, and that the mistakes are part of the journey. Thank you, a million times.

    92. Robin

      Just absolutely beautiful. As tears roll down my cheeks I remember the first time I found you and stayed up waaayyy too late reading your blog. I told everybody I knew all about these cool things called “blogs’ and how we should do one. Well, we tried but we never really stuck with it – but you did and like the little engine that could you kept going. I feel so proud of you, like you’re a member of my family who made it big!!!! I don’t comment often but you girls out there doing this are so awesome – leading the way and showing everyone how to be their own awesome selves! You’re the bomb!!!! xoxoxo Robin

    93. Cindy

      Thank you. I really needed this today. My blog is young and I have many days of self doubt, wondering what in the world I’m doing, why anyone would be interested in what I have to say, and not believing in myself. You inspire me so much with your wise words. As I work to build my business and brand, I will turn to this letter many times for inspiration when I’m feeling discouraged. Thank you Marian!
      Edith & Evelyn Vintage

    94. Renee

      Thank you…with tears.

    95. Madeline

      What a beautiful and timely post! Thank you Marion, you are such an inspiration. I’m looking forward to many more years of mustardized posts! 🙂

    96. Kathy

      I’m proud of you!

      Hugs, Kat

    97. kalani

      We must have started blogging at almost the exact same time. I salute your success! Great post, you said so many things perfectly. Well done.

    98. Brighton Mama

      Wow, what an inspiring post. I have only been blogging for a couple of months and am loving it so far. What you have said only makes me more excited and dedicated. Really interesting reading how you started out without a real name or photo. This is me right now! I will be adding a photo at some point though as I think viewers will be able to connect with me and would like to share a bit more personal information. I just discovered your blog today but it sounds like you’ve had an amazing journey and built up a successful business, well done 🙂

    99. Jane P

      I have pondered for days… thinking about your post…thank-you for inspiring all of us! I have often thought of your story and how you set out to make $200. The course you were a part of “Creatively Made Business,” inspired me to give my little antique business a name and try my hands at this thing they call social media…yikes!

      Beautifully written, thank-you for sharing your story

    100. Trish

      Hi Marian,
      This is so cool. This letter truly gives me an idea of who you really are. I was always drawn to your blog. And now I know why. I am just a fish out of water and I am feeling a lot of the things that you wrote in this letter. One thing that has really amazed me is that most of my traffic comes from linking up at your party and another well known blogger party. And when I come and link up over here I feel so intimidated because there is always such classy linkups at your party. Thanks for writing this letter to us newbies. And thanks for the wonderful party that you host every week.

    101. Fonda Rush

      And, when someone asks you a simple question about the MMS line of paints, hemp oil and waxes, you might want to answer them.

      • marian

        Fonda, I’m so sorry! I get a lot of questions and don’t always answer them, but I would be happy to. What’s your question?

    102. Jenni Carrino

      Thank you for sharing this!! I LOVED reading it! I have followed you from the beginning and you have always been an enormous source of inspiration and encouragement for me. My own business is growing and has taken some huge leaps lately, I’ve been hoping and praying for: and it’s SCARY! This letter helps me to have the courage to GO FOR IT.
      Thank you tremendously for all you share!!
      Jenni ~The Vintage Songbird

    103. Runt

      Is there a way to look back at the other comments posted? I only see the last four… I wanted to see if my comment got a response. :]

    104. Betsy @ Happily Ever After Etc.

      Thank you so much for the encouragement! I recently started my own blog after years of following blogs from talented ladies such as yourself, Perfectly Imperfect and The Lettered Cottage. I’ve read your posts since 2011, so almost your entire journey! As much as I love to post it gets a little difficult… mainly because I don’t currently have internet at my house! So for every single post I have to drive across town and bum internet from my mom, that means if the pictures aren’t just right I have to drive all the way home to re-shoot them. Plus it means an extra stop on the way home if I need to write up a post for the next day… even if the post is really exciting for me the extra stop kind of sucks! It’s nice to know that I’m not the only one struggling to start out. Even if my blog never goes beyond my own little corner of friends and family it’s nice to feel connected. Thank you for sharing your own experiences, I can’t wait to see what you do with the next five years!

    105. maryjo materazo

      i love this post! thanks so much for sharing this and being so honest. it’s very inspirational.
      xo- MJ

    106. Kathy

      Thank you for this post. I have wanted to start a post but never sure of what the focus would be. Just today I think I know what it is and want to get started. Again, thanks. Kathy

    107. Karyn

      That was simply beautiful.

    108. Angelica

      Great letter – inspiring, honest and real. Gives me a lot to think of as I ponder starting my own blog but quite frankly feel too hesitant to do it. Some days I think I have a lot to offer and other days I think it will bee too much work. Thank you for sharing what your journey has gifted you.

    109. Lacey

      Wow… this was such a great letter. Thank you for sharing it. I love getting a glimpse of how you started. Very neat!

    110. Tash

      Just came back and found this article to re-read, as I am contemplating starting a blog – big, scary step and I have no idea what I’m doing! This article (and your articles in general) have so much wisdom in them, and are very inspiring. Thank you for sharing “your story of you” with us – it’s always so encouraging. Blessings!

    111. Vicki

      Thank you for writing this, Marian! Just found it today and it was EXACTLY what I needed to “hear.”

    112. Celia Cabral

      “Me too” I have been following your blog for sometime now . its inspiring to read this post since I am considering starting a blog ( with no writing experience whatsoever) I’d like to share my experience of moving to Portugal , buying a house ( ok a ruin ! ) in a small village in the Algarve . I’ve always had a passion for home decor , Since my arrival a year ago , I’ve purchased some interesting pieces , loved painting them, and of course have taken before & after shots . Who knows maybe one day I may have a small shop as well in the village .

    113. Mercy

      Thank, thank you for writing this blog post!! I don’t know how I came about your blog but I am ever so glad I did. You and your business encompass the ideals that I have for what I want to do and how I envision my life will look like.I have been reading your ‘running a creative business ‘ series and I keep having those laugh out loud and ‘That’s so true’ moments-my husband is wondering what’s going on. I will just send him the link:) Juts what I needed to read for the start of this year.
      I started a blog last year while recuperating from major surgery and while I was unable to move for a while, it was just the perfect setting to ‘push’ me to take that step into what I have been dreaming about for some time- Fashion and Home decor. It’s still early days but I am growing in other aspects that require my commitment,creativity and in many ways stepping out of my comfort zone. This is something I really appreciate. We have to take a step and I love that you encourage us to dare to dream and not just stop there,but go further by doing something about it. GROWTH. That’s my word for the year.
      Thanks for what you do, may your cup run over and I wish you every blessing with MMS.

    114. Mercy

      Thank, thank you for writing this blog post!! I don’t know how I came about your blog but I am ever so glad I did. You and your business encompass the ideals that I have for what I want to do and how I envision my life will look like.I have been reading your ‘running a creative business ‘ series and I keep having those laugh out loud and ‘That’s so true’ moments-my husband is wondering what’s going on. I will just send him the link:) Just what I needed to read for the start of this year.
      I started a blog last year while recuperating from major surgery and while I was unable to move for a while, it was just the perfect setting to ‘push’ me to take that step into what I have been dreaming about for some time- Fashion and Home decor. It’s still early days but I am growing in other aspects that require my commitment,creativity and in many ways stepping out of my comfort zone. This is something I really appreciate. We have to take a step and I love that you encourage us to dare to dream and not just stop there,but go further by doing something about it. GROWTH. That’s my word for the year.
      Thanks for what you do, may your cup run over and I wish you every blessing with MMS.

    115. Toni | Small Home Soul

      Thank you for this! So much great advice in your letter to your younger blogger self. I promise I’ll stop checking GA 3 (or 5) times per day.

    116. Erika Pearson

      Oh man, or miss, rather. Tears.

      Day 1 Blogger

    117. Sam Taylor

      Thank you Marian. This is just the advice I needed. I too think I might find the blog side of thing a tad tedious, but I am going to get cracking and consider it one of my ‘must do’ things. Thank you for much for all your help and guidance, as always. Keep doing what you do xx

    118. Elaine McCarty

      Good Morning, Marian. I was reading this letter to yourself (again), because I needed it. I have to admit that I am allowing fear of failure to hold me back. I’ ve been successful in the past, but starting this blog just feels like a whole new world. Today I am ready to go. I just needed your soothing words to give myself a little push. Got my glasses on, my spare pair is perched on my head (haha), and the tea is made…
      Thanks again for being so open with us, your readers, and I hope, friends. That ability truly endears you to me, and I suspect, to all your readers. Keep on keeping on, and God Bless!


    Marian Parsons - Miss Mustard Seed

    I’m Marian, aka Miss Mustard Seed, a wife, mother, paint enthusiast, lover of all things home and an entrepreneur, author, artist, designer, freelance writer & photographer.  READ MORE to learn more about me, my blog and my business…

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