what do blog readers want?

Marian ParsonsBalance, Running a Business345 Comments

…or, more specifically, what do you want from this blog?  From me?

“Stop reading minds and start asking questions.”

These words were up on one of the slides that Jon Acuff, the keynote speaker at Haven, presented.  His entire “talk” was awesome and encouraging.  Just what I needed.  But, those words were one of those inspirational nuggets that hit me like a ton of bricks.

“…start asking questions.”


No, no, no.  You don’t want to ask an open-ended question like that on a blog, because the answers might be…  well, hard to hear?  Not what you’re hoping for?  Maybe too raw and real and honest?  So, I don’t ask the question and I carry on with making assumptions about what my readers want from me.  And maybe I’m missing the mark.


It’s been slowly creeping up on me – the realization that I don’t write like I used to.  I used to be more open-hearted here.  Somewhere in the middle of a growing business and living through the ups and downs that come with success, muddling through as I figure it out, I have insulated myself and kept my readers at arm’s length.

Not always, but most of the time.

I’ve always written to my blog readers like they are my friends.  Encouraging them, teaching, sharing what I’m excited about, sometimes complaining in frustration, knowing others will understand.  I still do that, but I feel like it’s more surface level as of late.  Like we’re acquaintances and occasionally we’ll have a heart-to-heart and then we go back to talking about the weather.  I’ve been feeling like that for a while and I couldn’t put my finger on it until now.

I’ve also come to recognize that I have always been more excited about and thankful for the new readers I acquired (the growth), than I was about the existing, loyal followers.  And I even cringe admitting that in writing.  Growth is just exciting!  It’s sort of like the excitement or defeat you feel when the scale goes up and down while on a diet.  It doesn’t matter that you’ve already lost 10 lbs.  If you lose two more, those two are special and what make you giddy when you step off.  If you gain one, the 9 you’ve lost aren’t enough to lift your spirits.

I would never have said that I took my loyal readers for granted, but I think, in truth, that I have and I am sorry.

Somewhere along the way, and I don’t even know when it happened, I decided that if I was over a certain number of page views or below a certain Alexa ranking, I was enough. I was doing it “right.”  If I fall below, I am not.  I’ve been experiencing so many years of exciting growth and benchmarks, that I didn’t know what to do when I hit a plateau or started sliding backwards.  It made me feel uneasy and I started second-guessing myself and buying into the voice that told me numbers are everything and yours are not good enough.

Now, I know that’s not true.  I know that you can’t measure everything with one stick.  That’s why there are measuring tapes, barometers, seismographs, thermometers…  You get the idea.  I know that success, life in general, is never on a consistent incline heading up to perfection.  It’s filled with mountains and valleys, twists and turns.  It’s usually the unexpected that brings out character, reveals surprises and becomes a sweet and profound event in hindsight.

In an intellectual conversation, I know all of this.

My heart, though, needs some convincing and it feels safer if I start to close it off and turn this blog into a parade of projects without much heart behind them.

And that’s not what I want.  And I don’t think it’s what my readers want, either, but that’s me being a mindreader.


The good news is that it feels like a weight is lifting off my shoulders, just sharing this with you.  It feels like I’ve been keeping a secret from a friend and it’s finally been spoken and it’s no longer a burden.

Also good, is that I feel recharged after attending a couple of really great sessions at Haven that spoke to some of the things I’ve been in angst over and getting stuck on.  I had conversations, sometimes even really brief ones, with some incredibly inspiring, beautiful people and their words filled me up.

I do have some new things I’m working on and a steady stream of ideas I hope to pursue, but I feel more confident than ever, that I need to focus most of my energy on making the things I already do even better, richer, deeper, more fulfilling, more encouraging, more meaningful.  And I feel ready to do that.

So, again, I pose the question…  What do you, my reader, want from me?  What do you want me to write about and take pictures of?  What do you want me to share?  To teach?  How do you want me to share those things with you?  How can I encourage and inspire you?  These questions are open-ended and you can even feel free to answer questions that I’m not even asking.  I’m not putting out a survey with limited questions and multiple choice answers.  I’m leaving the comment field open for you to answer honestly, openly, and in your own words.

I’m hoping our honesty, on both sides, will end in the kind of hug shared by dear friends that’s long, bringing both tears and smiles, and a deeper friendship along with it.

I’m all ears…

what do blog readers want?

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345 Comments on “what do blog readers want?”

  1. I really loved the Evolution series! Looking at the rooms in your house evolving has helped me sharpen my focus on where I a m going w/ my style at my house. I’m enjoying your joy w/ plants. I don’t watch Design Ramblings, but that’s not your fault – I don’t have speakers!
    Some folks are complaining about the lack of personal info. In this day and age, you must be careful. If they were writing a daily blog would they want a lot of their own personal info out there? I know you have a sweet husband and boys, and that’s more info than you know about me. It’s nice if you chose to share personal details, but really, it’s none of my business. I’m glad for what you’ve told me and I don’t want to try to pry more out of you.
    To the reader who says you are never satisfied: I disagree! I like to change things up in my house. It has nothing to do w/ being satisfied. I like to look at my rooms in new ways. I don’t have to buy new stuff. I can shop my own house. I’ve seen you do that before, and I enjoy that as well.
    I love your style. You are a wonderful photographer. I love your writing style and your blog. I am a devoted reader from GA who reads your blog every day. XO

    1. I could type it all out, but what Lynne W says.. totally agree with it. You inspire me in ways you will never probably hear from me. I tend to feel like I share too much and folks are sick of me. Your tutorials etc show me how I can do it.. If I need to watch a video more than once, I have a great sense of empowerment.

  2. I started my furniture journey with only one blog. Yours. And from your blog I found others, and learned more, and painted more, and started changing everything. Four years later I have started my own successful furniture painting business, completely redone my entire house and learned more than I ever thought possible about design from bloggers.

    I have been a huge supported of yours and send everyone who wants to know how I started to your blog. Furniture Feature Friday is my bible and I depend on it to find new ‘artists’ and discover new ways to work. You are a brilliant artist and continue to amaze me with your talent.

    But your blog has changed and gotten to the point where now I delete more of your posts than I read. When you were doing lots of tutorials, showing different techniques, styles, paints and ideas, it was awesome. But now you almost exclusively paint with milk paint, your style has not changed in the 4 years I have followed you and I am wanted to expand beyond ‘shabby chic’, chippy rustic.

    Although I love your house and have enjoyed seeing it, I don’t need a blow by blow description of each item in each room. I don’t need to know what you find at flea markets or see the 50th French chair you painted and recovered. Nor do I really need to read 5 posts about Luckett’s.

    It seems your blog has become mostly about what helps your commercial success. Not your art. And that’s fine! Many blogs are like that. They just don’t interest me, personally. I follow you to learn. To refresh my ideas and find inspiration. I feel your blog completely filled that need when I first got started. But now I need more than milk paint and Frenchie things.

    It does seem like you have become very commercial. I can’t even read you on my phone for all the pop-up adds. And your blog is so full of adds it frustrates me. It almost feels like you “sold out” for the sake of fame and fortune. And why not? Good for you!! (I’m even a bit jealous). But honestly, you just don’t have much to offer me that is new and refreshing anymore. I will still subscribe and always look for new tutorials and new artists in FFF, but will more than likely continue to delete more than I read unless things change significantly.

    1. Wow! I know Marian was looking for feedback, but dang, would you have said this to her face just like this? Sometimes it is all in the way you say something or just in your tone. Maybe you could have just suggested what you would like to see and not so much of what you feel she is doing wrong. She is human you know. Manners go a long way.

      1. I know I’ve already responded way back with my input to Marian’s questions. I’ve also been reading all the posts and feel compelled to remind some people that Marian is an adult business woman. She has been very successful and I’m absolutely sure that given the fact that she is a mature, talented, successful woman she is smart enough to NOT have posted what she did or asked the questions that she asked if she were unable to handle what the responses may have been. Give her more credit than some of you are giving her. I’m sure she appreciates loyalty but I doubt she feels that she needs followers verbally beating up others who express their opinions. I’ll bet you that she is able to take all of the information provided, glean from it what is useful to her and leave the rest alone.

        I’m a woman and I own a General Contracting company. I build commercial and industrial facilities. It is a male dominated industry yet I have managed to be successful and in business for 36 years. I can see a smart business woman 10 miles away and MMS is one of them. I was just awarded the National Association of Professional Women’s Woman of the Year for 2015 – 2016 award in part because of mentoring other business women and promoting women in business.

        Marian, this is for you. Do I like your blog as well as I used to? No. Did I answer your questions honestly in my earlier post? Yes. Do I think you are at a cross road and you recognize that you must lay down a firm foundation for the way you want your brand to continue in to the future? Yes. Why? Because you are a smart business woman and you see issues yourself and you respect your readers enough to ask for their input. Take what is useful to you and leave the rest alone. Ultimately your continued success and expansion is yours to control. You couldn’t have made it this far or be as successful as you are if you weren’t a smart business woman. In the end believe in your self and trust your self to know what input has value and what doesn’t.

        To everyone else who follows Marian answer her questions honestly, give detailed feedback even if it is that you may unsubscribe, just be sure to tell her why. That is really information she can use to learn and grow from. She can’t please everyone but if she is true to herself and her vision the followers and supporters will come and her business will continue to grow and she will continue to be successful..

      2. Marian asked for honest answers. Laurie was honest, not brutal. She was not hurtful but was merely giving Marian her honest feelings in her own opinion. Why does everyone feel the need to sugarcoat everything for fear of hurting someones feelings?? People, toughen up a little! It’s not like she was hurling F bombs and telling her she sucked! Laurie was polite and tactful and even gave her kudos for how well she is doing. You know what? I completely concur with Laurie. She expressed my exact sentiments that I have felt for years. Marian’s blog has gone in a new direction (And that’s great!). I applaud her success. But for those of us that have been with her since the beginning, we don’t necessarily have to like that direction. It has gotten a bit self-serving and not necessarily in a good way. Marian asked what WE wanted. I don’t want a million ads. (Hey, I understand they pay bills! I just got an ad blocker so now they don’t bother me) I too am tired of seeing the same type of decor (I like it, I think Marian has a wonderful sense of design, she’s a great photographer, etc.). French chairs, shabby chic, antiques, blah, blah. It’s nice when you can see a variety. If she doesn’t want to switch it up, that’s her prerogative. But again, she asked, we are telling her. Don’t scold someone because she “says” it like it is! Laurie was frank, but polite. When she criticized, she also offered up a compliment. Don’t be so quick to get your feathers ruffled Tara.
        Marian, I’m sad to see your FFF go by the wayside. That was one of few things that kept me coming back. You are one of the few, if not only, that kept it at furniture ONLY. It’s nice taking a look at all the wonderful creations and picking up different tips. I wish you would reconsider keeping it. Maybe doing away with picking your favorites? That way it won’t require you to spend what little time you have.

  3. I found your blog about a year ago when I wondered what the difference was between chalk paint and milk paint. Instantly, I was completely enamored by your style and your home. I started reading your blog the way people read a good book they can’t put down. I have been so inspired by how you approach your home and because I’m always keenly aware of not overspending in our own home projects, I felt like you showed realistic ways to get what you really want while not spending unnecessarily. I see what other people have written about you getting sponsored items, and my two cents on that are this; blogging is hard work, and you’ve put in an incredible amount of time and dedication to even reach the point of receiving sponsored items. Maybe that isn’t how I’ll find the perfect item for a renovation, but I don’t think it’s fair to say that the way you’ve acquired some of your goods takes away from what I could learn from your blog.

    We were starting a massive renovation (which spurred the need for paint) when I found your blog and reading your posts helped me really define what the goal was in terms of the finished look. I knew vaguely what I wanted, but touring your home helped me really identify my style; how to create function and form while surrounding myself with the antiques I love. I’m right there with you about the every day items needing to be beautiful (my mother in law thought it was incredible when I bought my vintage watering can for my deck pots last year because it had never occurred to her that something so utilitarian could be pretty as well!).

    The evolution series has been my absolute favourite. When we started this renovation, I wanted every room done and perfect, right away. You’ve inspired me to think long and hard about getting the bones of my rooms just right, and letting the details come as they may. No pressure to ‘finish’ it, just let it evolve into something I love. Stop making impulse decisions that suit the budget and the deadline but not my heart.

    I am a paper crafter, so that’s the blog land I live in most of the time, but your blog is the one and only that gets my time nearly daily, and you’ve inspired me to try and include some of my own home projects on my own blog when the place is cleared of tools and saw dust! I love all your posts (I do not watch the design ramblings as I prefer photos and words while quietly reading while hubby watches tv), and appreciate your tutorials. I’ve got some chairs waiting for grain sacks and your videos have me the confidence to go for it!

    I think you’re great at what you do and if you keep just following your heart, your readers will continue to love coming along! And anyone who has a blog knows exactly what you’re saying about the new readers, but good food for thought about appreciating old ones!

  4. I’m so glad you’re asking for feedback. I quickly scrolled through the comments already left, so forgive me if this is redundant… Yours was the second blog I started following about a year and a half ago, and sadly, both yours and the first blog I followed have gone the same path – what first drew me to them has almost completely disappeared. I am really interested in how-to, inventive, creative, step-by-step project oriented help. I stumbled on yours while researching styles of do-it-yourself slipcovers, then was fascinated by your furniture make overs. I liked your style, and the common sense approach to decorating – to save money make it yourself, but splurge on the stuff you love and what really matters. I used to check in every day. Now the only day I really check is Furniture Feature Friday, to see what projects other people are posting. I understand that you must follow your heart, and if your heart isn’t in the project side of blogging any longer, then maybe I’m the one who needs to change (what I follow), not you! After all, it is your blog, and you need to do what your love, love what you do, and be true to yourself. Blessings to you during this period of self examination. It can be painful, but also fruitful.

  5. Marian when this topic came up I thought I wouldn’t comment. Not because its a bad idea or question but because I had nothing but praise to offer. I thought you were looking for constructive criticism and I had none to offer. However after reading through some of the responses I feel compelled to say something.What you have achieved through hard work and perseverance is amazing. In this country we speak a lot about self determination and the entrepreneurial spirit. We practically worship business and their owners, but when we see a stay at home mom use her talents and intellect to become a successful entrepreneur the fangs come out. Since when is it a bad thing to improve your families financial situation through hard work? Who wouldn’t want to occasionally buy a high end piece of furniture when their budget allowed. That is called growth. You still rehab reupholster and makeover that has not changed. I admire the fact that you let us know that you can purchase something now and then. To hide that fact would be completely disingenuous.Miss Mustard Seed is a brand! Why on earth is that a problem? You are living the ideals that we claim to hold so dear. Growth should be rewarded and praised. I wish we could just be happy for one another and hold each other up. I enjoy your blog and look forward to every post. I also enjoy design ramblings, it often makes me smile and chuckle. Dont let others insecurities put you in a box. Theres nothing sadder than a person who goes through life bitter about others success.

  6. Marian, I’m really glad I can only read a few of the comments and can’t seem to figure out how to see the 258 that went before them. I feel very much the “Mama Bear” in me that wants to come out right now !!! I can’t believe all the criticism. I have quite a few opinions to share myself:
    *Your blog was the second blog I followed and that was several years ago. I’ve been lead to other good blogs from your blog roll (which most other bloggers don’t have….HELLO PEEPS). I think this shows that you celebrate other women and their talents and are not afraid to lose any part of the market.
    *Your style is unique to you and you are true to it….what do people expect….for you to change your style so that they have new content to view every week. You are Miss Mustard Seed and you demonstrate “Mustard Seed style”, again, hello peeps !!! People should go to other blogs for different inspiration, there are plenty of newbies in blog land that haven’t discovered you and when they do, they will know they “are home” because your style is what they’ve dreamed of in their head only they had no idea how to execute it.
    *People want new and different tutorials….you have more tutorials than any blogger I know and on more subjects than any blogger I have read. I follow you, and I follow people on YouTube. Many have limited videos. You have tutorials about how to do things that fit your style. Why would people think that you would show how to reupholster or pain a Mid Century Modern piece for instance. There are other blogs that do it I’m sure. You do your thing well and I’m sure they do theirs well.
    *Same ole, same ole”….I beg to differ. You produce more posts than many other bloggers with genuine content. Sure I may find one here and there that doesn’t knock my socks off but it’s not because it isn’t good content, it’s because my style is evolving and I now look to a couple of other bloggers for inspiration as well. I try to take from you and them and meld together to make my own style. Many other bloggers (and I’m not knocking them) take pictures of the of the same things over and over but may change the flowers, lighting, accessories, etc. You offer A LOT of content.
    *Ads ???…. your look is a passion and a business. For you to remain sustainable, you need sponsors as well as sales of your products so that you can continue to give us great ideas by blogging for us….multiple times a week.

    I could go on and on but my rant is over. Marian, I love what you do even though I love what some others do as well. I will always follow you. My advice to you is to stay true to who you are and what you love to do. You offer much more than many other blogger I have read and you put your heart and soul into it. I feel like you are an old friend and you have inspired me to be creative after many years of no creativity due to life circumstances. I owe you much gratitude for that. My heart aches that some of these comments may cause you any sadness. You are doing what God put you on this earth to do and I think he is the one to consult on going forward. He will show you the direction your path should take….. Much love, Rhonda

    1. Well said Rhonda!
      Hi Marian, I just wanted to tell you how much you’ve inspired me!
      From the minute I read your book I knew that I needed more and I was delighted to find out that you had a blog! Your blog has never disappointed me, it’s like a breath of fresh air! It’s your transparency and your genuineness and your gift for decorating and teaching that brings me back for more. Thank you for how much time and effort, thought ,prayer and hard work you put into your blog.
      Please don’t let the negative comments make you reconsider your efforts. You are the real thing…
      I love your honesty and your concern for your readers….thanks for asking and caring. Debbie H

  7. Love your blog! I’ve been a stalker for several years, but I have never left a comment. Please don’t change a thing….keep doing what you are doing.

    You are such an inspiration!

  8. Marian,
    I SO ADMIRE what you do with your blog. I have been reading nearly everyday for a year and a half. And when I “met” you through your posts, I marveled at how authentic you are, how honest, and how much of yourself you reveal to your readers. You are so, so talented! Plus, it takes courage and character to put yourself out there. Inspiring on many levels!

    I now follow about 20 blogs, and yours is my favorite. I am only commenting because you asked, but this relationship we have is rather unusual! I actually feel like I know you and that if we met we could be friends, but at the same time I would never have the courage to be so open about myself and my life in a blog and certainly not have the confidence to put my ideas out there as you do. So, would you even be interested in expanding your circle of friends to include someone like me who is a kindred spirit, but really only a reader?! It’s really such a strange situation where if we met, you’d not know anything about me, but I’d know so many of the struggles you’ve been through and so many personal details about you. I think what I’m trying to say is that people who have followed you for some time feel they can take some liberties and make judgements about your choices and what you choose to include in your blog…. and this goes back to this “unusual” relationship of blogger & readers!

    I for one, LOVED when you showed us your shopping finds. They were my favorite posts. And, I completely understand the concept of the blog being a commercial exercise, so understand the need for ads. But, I personally hate the intrusive type ads, so I contribute to your business by purchasing from the blog and buying your product line, and install AdBlock Plus to make the reading experience tolerable again! I kept getting ads that actually “attach” themselves to your photos to follow me around as I look at your fabulous photography. So, I found a solution.

    Congratulations on your success! I am so happy for you! You have what it takes and it’s so refreshing to read about. I happen to love so many of your favorite things myself, but even if I didn’t it’s infectious to read about your experiences and a breath of fresh air. I think you have stayed “down to earth” and it’s appreciated.

  9. Your blog is very well balanced. You go through seasons in your life and you take us with you. Sometimes the focus is on creating things (like the mad rush to Luckett’s), sometimes you teach us new techniques, sometimes you share a new adventure (your shop or a photo shoot), sometimes you feature a product that is in line with your style, sometimes you just chat with Kriste. It feels natural and organic to me. Compared to other blogs, you rarely hawk random things just for the sake of a buck. And I feel comfortable with what you share about your personal life. Not too much, but enough that we get to know you. How many people commented that your blog was one of the first they connected with? You are the standard to which others compare themselves. I don’t like to see you beat up for someone else’s personal preferences. I don’t expect you to conform to me. I look forward to your posts in all forms, in whatever season you are in the midst of at the time. Please take all our comments with a grain of salt. The big picture is you are doing it right.

  10. I subscribed to your blog KNOWING much of it would likely not interest me. I have antique furniture I wouldn’t dream of touching with a paint brush. I live thousands of miles away from you and the flea markets you attend interest me not a whit. I do not follow fads (chalk paint, milk paint), etc., though I enjoy looking at those projects. However, what did pique my interest was some of the more unusual things you showed — a painted or natural wood dresser, for instance, painted in an all-white floral or folk-art design. “Hmmmm,” I thought, “I’ve got a ratty old Victorian dresser in the basement that perhaps I could decorate that way!” In other words, MY interests mesh partially with YOUR interests — I read what I find interesting and skip over the things that don’t apply to my own situation. I would love to see videos of your transforming old pieces with paint, more “how to” videos, etc. Otherwise, I say “well done.” I never thought I was going to find EVERYTHING you do applicable to my own situation.

  11. It is very brave of you to put yourself out there like that. I only read a few comments but I gather some of the earlier comments may not be that kind. All I can say is to take those comments with a grain of salt. If they really don’t like what you are doing then why were they even reading your post? Whether people like you or not they are following what you do. I live on the West Coast of Canada and I can tell you that you have a lot of influence here, even thousands of miles away. Not to mention you have followers all over the world. If I may offer some advice, stay true to you. “Do what you love, love what you do” and as Taylor Swift says “the haters gonna hate, …shake it off” you are as successful as you are because of who you are and what you do. Enough said!
    I have been following your blog for several years now and yours is the only one that I actually still continue to read. The positives as I see them are: You are down to earth, honest and kindhearted which is becoming so rare these days. I love that you don’t charge a fortune for your painted furniture although I’m sure you could. Your products have maintained their quality and the prices are still reasonable despite your huge success. I always enjoy seeing the furniture makeovers, they can be very inspiring. I especially liked seeing the design evolution of the rooms in your house. Negatives: “Design Ramblings” probably because they are mostly ramblings, perhaps a different format would be more appealing? Maybe you could do surveys on these subjects and let us know the results? That way we can all join in and get the facts on the issue not just speculation.
    If I could make a request, I would like to say that I would love to know the evolution of your business. In more detail than you have shared to this point. For example “How did you come up with a milk paint line?(I don’t want to copy but would be fascinated with the process)” “What lead you to start this blog? And how did you learn how to start one?” “What things would you have done differently?” Etc, etc.
    Thanks for sharing your experiences, tutorials and your life with us.

  12. I really enjoy your posts tremendously. I learned a lot from your technique posts; in fact, most of what I feel I have learned came from them. I’ll never be at the level you are, but I think I reached what I could do from your tutorials. I have been guilty of deleting some of it simply from the tagline for a while as it had the book listed first in my emails, so I thought it was about the book. Then I went back and caught up. 🙂 I think you have to search to do what is best for you, realizing all may not follow. I just encourage you to do what you feel is best, but still include your “how I did this” or “how to” type posts. People really do learn from them and they are always inspiring. I also feel when you endorse a product, it’s a good endorsement and every thing you have endorsed that I have purchased has been excellent. Never felt it contrived at all. Best of luck in whatever course you choose. Just remember those of us who really learn from you. 🙂

  13. So you have become more commercialized — SO WHAT– you have Sponsors that you are responsible to that have brought you this far,. Without them where else will you be? Its called success, Be Proud, Be Grateful, Be Happy. You do not need to share more of your Passion or Soul than you already have. Do you have to tweak occasionally– Absolutely because it so easy as a Human Being to get dragged down in Same old–Same old. By the way I am new to the site but it broke my heart to read the critiques of what they DO NOT LIKE vs. WHAT THEY DO. I luv your site, keep up they great ideas and information.

  14. Your blog has been an inspiration to me. I love your earlier posts because they appealed to a wider audience especially those of us in love with your decorating style and how we can achieve that design on a budget. I also would like to hear more from you about your faith and I enjoyed when you shared your “real self”, it makes you more relatable to all of your readers. I love you blog and I think you are a little too hard on yourself. I like seeing your how to videos, and I think Kristie is an asset to you. I watch “design ramblings” and i enjoy hearing both of you talk about your thoughts on design. Keep up the good work Marian, don’t second guess what God has given you.

  15. Dear Marian,

    Thank you for your blog. Thank you for sharing your home, your thoughts, and your talents with the world. I found your blog less than a year ago via The Lettered Cottage and immediately subscribed. After searching around I realized that I had actually discovered you years before. I shopped your various booths at Lucketts and I had a copy of your book on my coffee table. You inspire me to make my home beautiful for my family. I have always been a decorating magazine junkie and your blog feels that way to me, only more personal. It’s my treat during my busy life to open and read your blog.
    There was an earlier comment from Lydia that is not showing up now that resonated with me. I also would love to see the more mundane ares of your home like the basement, pantry, garage, and laundry room. These utilitarian rooms are a challenge for me and I would like to see how you have tackled them. I fully admit that I am a voyuer when it comes to peeking at other people’s homes, so if you are not comfortable sharing these areas, no worries!
    Since you presented the question, I’m feeling a little greedy about what I want . I would love tips for us laypeople on how to sell our extra furniture and decorating stuff we are finally able to part with; how to organize our extra decorating stuff we aren’t ready to part with; more on your clothing (loved the article on the stylist); and more about your family. But this is selfish of me and if you don’t include any of my suggestions, it’s ok because I will still get excited when your blog hits my email!
    I admire your bravery open yourself up to all of our comments. I admire your talent. But I especially admire that you have been able to grow your blog into a successful business! You are an inspiration!

  16. i have been following you for over three years now. I googled milk paint to get more information and you popped up. I remember it was a Christmas home tour. I thought your home was beautiful and yours was the first blog I ever followed. I follow you mainly for home decor ideas and your beautiful furniture. I would like to see more projects with layering your paints and also how to use milk paint over previously painted pieces where that paint is an undesirable color. It seems like a lot of your pieces are wood pieces with no previous paint on them. As far as design ramblings I think it would be more interesting if you showed more examples of what you are talking about. You’ve done that a little but I’m a visual person so pictures would be great. I loved the video of Lucketts. I live too far away to attend so I was inspired by all the beautiful things. I love your paint and your blog.

  17. Dear Marian,

    I actually responded yesterday and want to add to it after seeing some posts that were less than pleasant. I have decided I wished you hadn’t posed the question at all…!!!

    Only because I would rather you be spared the hurt that some of the posts are sure to cause.

    This is YOUR blog…not ours…you have been most gracious to invite us into your home, heart, life, world, family and thoughts…which is far more than any of us deserve from you…

    Maybe I don’t know what I’m talking about…I certainly don’t have a blog…I can’t begin to imagine how much work you put into this blog and certainly don’t want the haters that have shown their true colors here on this blog to be anywhere near me or my world. But what I do know is that I follow you because you bring me exactly what you set out to bring to everyone when you started this blog. Yeah, maybe I skip over a couple posts each week, but so what? You can’t expect to be everything to everyone…that’s why there are more than just one blog in blog land…

    You are brave, beautiful (inside and out), strong, inspirational and a joy. YOU clearly move mountains!
    Please, Please, Please stay true to yourself…if you lose a few readers along the way…well then…good riddance…they just weren’t meant to be…

    At the end of the day, you are loved more than you will ever know.

  18. I just know from your words and how you have literally opened your door to thousands of strangers, that you are a kind, generous person. I always check your posts, I may not always have a chance to comment…but I always stop by. Thank you for taking us in, often taking us under your wing, and for letting us “tag along” with you…I love that. I love to see your finds, love hearing about your selling adventures, love seeing the love & care you give to your home & workshop…and often wish I lived closer. I enjoy your ramblings…and feel like I am sitting right there with you. So take from all the comments what you will, but stay real to yourself. Gathering feedback is good every now & again, but you get to decide what to do with it! There is a reason you have achieved the success you have…and I have no doubt I will someday tune in to watch you on HGTV…I personally cannot wait. Miss Mustard Seed, dear Marian…you rock! xxoo

  19. Marian:
    Thank you for asking this question because I have been wanting to ask a question of my own. You’ve been so generous in sharing your success ~ which is truly awesome ~ but I’d love to understand how you do it. I started painting furniture about three or so years ago and it’s about all I can do to paint the furniture. It’s only late at night every week or so that I try and photoshop my photos (which are hopefully decent) and post on my website. I can’t imagine where I’d find the time to paint furniture, blog nearly every day with beautifully styled photos and keep up with the accounting side of the business. But you’ve done it and made it look easy (although I know it is anything but easy).

    I’ve love a series on how you’ve accomplished so much, the behind-the-scenes work, to hopefully take away an inspiration or an idea on how I can apply it to my business. Did you work 20 hours a day, 7 days a week for a few years? Did you hire or have family help you paint and blog? Your journey will help so many others in their personal journey painting furniture, blogging and trying to run an effective and professional small business.

    Thanks, Marian, for all that you’ve done for other painters, diyers and the legions of others who have been inspired by you and your furniture.

  20. I’ve been following you for a long time- way before you became a brand and I just wanted to take the time to say thank you. I can only imagine the enormous amount of time it takes to not just develop content but to also photograph, edit, and publish on a regular schedule. Thank you for consistently sharing your talents with us!
    While painting furniture and arranging your home is an interesting skill it’s not what will always make me a huge fan. It’s your courage. You’ve shown thousands of women that it’s okay to doubt yourself, it’s okay to be self taught, it’s okay to make mistakes- just keep showing up, work hard, have faith, and good things will happen.
    I think if the tenor of your posts have changed its perhaps just the difference between working on projects to fluff your own nest because you want to and working on something as part of your “work”. Let’s face it, the 300th time you work on a dresser can’t possibly feel as exciting as the first few times when it was going into your home.
    Be true to yourself and know that your voice has caused ripples in a very good way. Thank you for that!

  21. Dear Marian,

    I would like to thank you. I can confidently say that you have changed my life. Since I discovered your blog some years ago, you have inspired and taught me so much, that not only has my home changed forever, but my whole approach to life is different. You gave me the courage to try things that I never imagined I could do. Thank you!

    If I could have more of any one thing on your blog, it would be for a pro like you to share your tips and tricks for us beginners. With any technique, we all learn things along the way. For me on a tight budget, sometimes I allow this to stand in my way of embarking on a project, knowing that I’ll look at my first effort with the feeling that I’d do it differently next time round if I could have my time over.

    A while ago when the great curtain debate was raging, you mentioned that one of the reasons for removing your curtain panels was that you had learned a lot about making curtains since you made them. I’d love to know this kind of stuff. Sort of a “Things I’ve learned along the way about…”

    Another example, what influences your decision in choosing upholstery piping cord? We don’t have the brand you mentioned in your early slipcover video series so how to choose from the great array of widths and materials – I confess that this simple decision has completely stopping me in my tracks from even attempting slip covers!

    Whilst I have embraced your belief that ‘it doesn’t have to be perfect to be beautiful’, when money is tight I feel that the pressure is on to get it (nearly) right first time. I would find it invaluable for someone of your experience to point out a few of the pitfalls with different techniques to spare us beginners from making rookie mistakes.

    Thanks for what you do.

  22. I’ve been following your blog for two years now and I fell in love with your style instantly! It fuels my creativity and wild tendencies to move furniture on a daily basis! I’m always shoving my phone under my husbands nose saying, “Look! Look at what Miss Mustard Seed did! Isn’t that fantastic?! I need to do that!!!” Anyway, I’m such a fan. I have never felt let down as a follower. I’ve witnessed a bit of evolution in your style even in the short time I’ve been reading your blog. I do think my favorite aspect of your blog is your house. I always want to see you switch it up or add a chair here etc. When you went to the studio I found I wasn’t quite as interested (that’s just me!). Just buy another house and keep that as your “studio house” and keep redoing it over and over! Hehehe! No, I think what I want to see when you’re in the studio is “how to” videos. I like the Design Rambling series as well. I love tutorials and millions of glorious pictures (I’m sooooooo visual I’m lopsided!) The evolution of your house is hands down one of my favorites! I love when you list details. And I mean absolutely everything. Before and afters, prices, paint colors, failures as someone said, details, Details!!!! Thanks for doing that! Oh, one more thing, Im waiting for you to do a new and deeply detailed version of your slipcover how to video series. I need serious help. I have a gazillion floral hand me down pieces clashing with each other in my living room – Miss Mustard See to the rescue!!!!!!!

    1. Oh one more thing. The one thing I pretty much always skip over, and I’m a die hard fan,is the feature Friday’s. I’m afraid that I’m never really interested at all. Maybe that helps. Ok, so now a cheer for all things Miss ustard Seed. Hip hip Horaaaaaay!!!

  23. Marian,

    I really debated commenting on this post – which is kind of funny, since I try to say hi and thank you for sharing on almost all the other posts you post. I think I was a little daunted by the 250ish comments that you had already and wasn’t really sure I had anything more to add to what I am sure is a variety of viewpoints and opinions (and maybe I don’t). I tried not to read them because I really just wanted to say hi and thank you for sharing. I have been following your blog for the past 3 years. As I moved into my new home, your inspiration was right there to help me feel like I could take this place that was a real mess and turn it into the haven I thought it could be. I pored over pictures of your home and the tutorials that you shared not because I wanted to copy what you had done, but because you are so sure of your style and your abilities and your willingness to just give it a shot. I showed my husband Jeff’s top tool recommendations (which were so helpful, and made great additions to our growing collection) and just felt like I had taken control of making my home what I wanted it to be. The feeling of empowerment has helped me through some pretty frustrating situations. That being said, you can count on me as a loyal follower. I loved your Home Evolution series because it is a gentle reminder that things are not picture perfect on the first (or second) go-around. Of course I am always excited about a makeover or tutorial because seeing potential in something old or worn is a skill that needs practice. And Design Ramblings makes my Saturday morning cup of coffee even more enjoyable. I savor new content, but I don’t want you slap together a blog post just for the sake of doing so. I guess what I want to say is that I think your enthusiasm for your work and the enjoyment you get from the design process is evident to me in what you share. It would be such a shame for something to change that. Stay classy, Marian. 😉 Thanks for sharing!

  24. Marian, just be yourself, it has been successful so far! There isn’t anything in your blog I don’t like, so I am just going to give some ideas for you to think about. ( I love brain storming) would love to see your Moms house or parts of it. or do tablescapes with her things. (or other peoples) Also, would like to see her and Kriste’s Mom on Design Ramblings. More photos of your makeover furniture outside, unexpected places, or your different background moveable walls in your studio. Ideas for using family photos in decorating (not ancestors) other than gallery wall. Start furniture makeovers way before your shows. Have your boys or people in your photos even if its not there face. (ex.) when you did photos of their room, one on the bed reading a book, one on the floor playing with toy.
    Thats all I have right now. Enjoy your journey and hope to see you one TV one day!!!

  25. You were the very first blogger that I started to follow. I learned about the blog world through you and learned about other bloggers. Because of you I learned how to make slipcovers and discovered my love of ironstone and realized that I have always loved the farmhouse style and finally found someone else who does, too. I learned about milkpaint and mustered the courage to paint my first piece in Boxwood after watching your instructional videos. Your Evolution series inspired me. I’ve had A-ha moments while pouring over your blog pictures and IG posts. You are a natural leader, teacher, writer and photographer. I love learning from you. You have and continue to inspire me.

  26. Thank you for being open to this. This is a hard thing to willingly invite criticism. But as a fellow artist and creative spirit, I think you’ll take this in the way it is intended – with kindness and with the exciting chance for growth and improvement. Like a phoenix rising out of the ashes, so to speak.
    I’ve been following your blog for quite a long time and have seen it change over the months. I still enjoy seeing your home, but I feel like every day we get soooo many shots of your home. And it feels like this has turned into a blog about your house. I miss seeing the dirty, gritty before/during/after projects and the tales of dumpster diving. I have no idea what’s going on in your basement or your studio shop. I miss shots of your adventures outside your home. I miss the how-to’s, the tips and tricks, and the projects. That’s why I signed on initially. I feel like things are a little stagnate and I’m seeing the same or similar things every day I log on.
    And, while beautiful, I guess I must be a bit of a minimalist because when I see 6 photos of the same thing, I just skip through and scroll to the bottom. I can appreciate them through an artist’s and photographer’s eyes and know that it takes many, many shots to find one that’s just right. But in a blog format I don’t want to sift through them like an artist’s proof portfolio. I’m trusting you to find just one or two shots to convey the story. I also miss the “big picture” photos. It’s easy to get caught up in a new lens or piece of equipment but remember, we are visiting your blog-home to get all sorts of information and ideas. Yes, we want to see close-up details, but we also want to see how that tiny plant or accessory works and breathes and jives with the entire room.
    Thanks for listening and don’t take this too hard or let it get you down, we really are all rooting for you! That’s why we’re still here. 🙂

  27. I think you need to work on other’s homes and projects for others, as an interior designer. Show the results of your work that you do for your clients.

    Also maybe ask readers to submit photos of their problem-rooms and you can give some advice and mood boards for them.

    In other words, I think it would be very interesting for you to branch out of your house and into other’s homes.

  28. Your blog is one of the few I keep reading because I learn so much. The pictures are soothing and even if I’ve seen them in another blog I still enjoy them and marvel how it all looks different when you rearrange or add just one new element. It’s amazing what you’ve done with your home. I don’t know how you find the time to write everyday. You’re an inspiration! Please keep it going:)

  29. Hi Marian,
    I would guess I have been looking at your blog since 2009/2010. I had started an online degree program then and your blog was a break from school work. It hit a cord with me then because I had babies, no budget, and was craigslisting to get all my furnishings but still wanted a cute home. Here you were hustling like me but in a little different way. I would say stay true your roots to remain authentic. It is truly wonderful you have achieved so much success that Annie Selke is sending you stuff from pine cone hill and dash and albert, but remember the chick you were when trolling that site was just dreaming. I totally get high and low, steal and splurge, and mixing pieces of different values and all that, but the roots part of you is what is charming. Kind of the reason why you still do Lucketts even though I suspect at this point with a book, a paint line and contracts etc- you don’t need to. I like furniture feature Friday because I like to see other bloggers style and imagination but sometimes it can seem like the same pieces are there week after week like an online sale of sorts. From your blogroll of other bloggers I have found dreamy whites and ana-white, other people who are doing more with less. I have enjoyed that. I do look at design ramblings from time to time but in truth it is often lengthy and I cannot look at it at work. I loved your old portfolio section which is now gone or not on mobile? From the mobile site I do not see the “mustard seed pages” or the actual “milk paint” section of the blog which I liked too- maybe if i was still on my pc more (degree program complete!). Just stay true to yourself and your beginning. There is already one Martha, and I like Marian much better than her.. Lets see Marian has never done jail time…. (I don’t think any way?). Oh that brings up a point as your infamy grows I could understand that you might share less online about your family and personal stuff- because then you encounter strangers asking about stuff- I don’t know what to say about that, how to remain approachable but maintain personal privacy- why I do not have a blog…

  30. Hi Marian,
    One more idea- our house is on the market now and a post about living through that especially from the mind of a.blogger or design professional would be interesting because there’s the stuff that you do for your family and then there’s the house you show to buyers. Hiding the toothbrushes and all that

  31. I’ve thought about leaving a comment for a few days now. I decided to go ahead because I was just getting ready to unsubscribe from your blog and I thought the timing seemed coincidental. I first started reading this after searching for tutorials on chalk painting furniture. That’s what I wanted to learn more about. Your painted furniture is beautiful! I have used the paint and I think its unique and really transforms furniture in a creative way. I love the before and after pics and the processes you use.

    You are running a successful business. Your blog has to be what works for your business. As the consumer, I decide if the content works for me. Lately, I do not feel that I learn much when I go ahead and click on the “read more” in my email. Learning more about painting furniture is my goal for taking the time to read this blog. For example, I have had a green thumb nearly all my life. Reading about plants in ironstone teacups does not interest me from your blog. I am not going to learn much from your sudden interest and the start of a journey into gardening. I have tried Kriste’s blog from the paint side and I can breeze through a few blogs in a short time and learn a bit, but not a lot.

    I will also say that I get the feeling that there is a bit more “look at me” instead of a “here’s how” attitude. I really hesitate to say this too. I have read the comments and anyone who has taken the time to respond with any criticism is quickly labelled as a “green-eyed monster” and “jealous” by other readers. It could also be that those responders with criticisms are answering a question with complete honesty as this post asked them to do. I find it sad to watch readers cut others down, because they took the time to answer your question and it wasn’t all glowing praise. You are sooooo brave to ask. I hope the responses help you in the way you want.

    The evolution of this blog is for you to decide. The consumer decides if it works for them.

    1. Gen wrote:

      It could also be that those responders with criticisms are answering a question with complete honesty as this post asked them to do. I find it sad to watch readers cut others down, because they took the time to answer your question and it wasn’t all glowing praise. You are sooooo brave to ask. I hope the responses help you in the way you want.

      Hear, hear! I am not sure why readers – not Marian, who asked for constructive criticism and has responded with grace and class – don’t understand that people are taking the TIME to give their thoughts (which have been well-thought out and honest, from what I have read) and are then labeled as “jealous” or “haters.” This immature, “fangirl” behavior just muddies the waters of what Marian is trying to accomplish.

      This kind of response will keep some folks from giving their thoughts, as they just don’t need the drama. The readers may want to step back and look at what Marian was asking for instead of rushing to silence well-meaning readers – or worse – sending people to the unsubscribe button.


      1. Sharon. I beg to differ-I have to say that I cheered for those readers who actually came to Marion’s support- I assume they think of her as a friend- and you’d never allow a friend to be man-handled as some of the criticisms seem to have done. You can’t blame them for that..

  32. I have been reading yours and other blogs for a few years now. Many of them have evolved into successful business with lots of ads, sponsors, etc. They are sleek and professional. Unfortunately they are not as much fun to read. While I appreciate gorgeous pictures I don’t need so many of them and don’t really care how you obtain them. I am happy for your success but don’t really spend any time on your blog anymore. I agree with other people in that the design ramblings are not interesting. And if you want total honesty I tried the milk paint and find it to be way too expensive for the results, I much prefer the chalk paint that you started with.

  33. I discovered your blog a couple years ago and enjoy it as much now, if not more. Watching you grow and evolve your business has been fascinating and wonderful, and your partnerships feel natural and fit your design sensibility. It’s awesome that you’ve been able to build a thriving business with a blog, when many others cannot. And I don’t feel ever feel like you’re selling out to make a buck, the way I often do with other bloggers. I loved the posts about creating the studio, the evolution of your home, your work and friendship with Kriste, the way your family supports your work, all of it. Love Jeff’s posts, too! I welcome more tutorials and step-by-steps for beginners, info on choosing the best materials and products, how to spot high quality in furniture and fabrics, and tips on building a business. Design Ramblings is real and fun, and you and Kriste are pretty darn cute. I binge watch them 4-5 at a time. The mix of content works perfectly for me, because it’s true to what’s going on in your life at a given moment. I’d love it if you share more and go deeper, if you’d take us shopping with you and keep talking about the beauty and wonder of design. Stay true to what you love, keep growing and evolving and creating and writing. You’ve created something lovely, special, humble and genuine.

  34. Hello Marian. Like so many others, yours was the first blog I found and subscribed to. I’m pretty sure I watched your instructional video on painting your kitchen cabinets 20 times before I had the nerve to paint my office built ins. Thank you! I no longer subscribe because of all the commercials and pop ups, but I do check in a couple of times and read what interests me. I’ve really enjoyed your recent home series! You are a talented writer and photographer, and of course I love your furniture! From a business perspective, smart move to do more videos — with your music theatre background, I could certainly see you with your own show at some point, so getting comfortable in front of the camera can only help you. I was worried you may have jumped the shark with the post about mail order clothes — where they pick out the clothes for you?? Bad idea. But I’ve found that if I stay away from sponsored posts (and that’s true for all blogs) I really enjoy reading them and always seem to learn something new! Hope this is helpful. 😀

    1. Cynthia – If I could offer you a suggestion – install ADBLOCK. It’s the best thing I ever did. It’s free software you install and it literally blocks ALL unwanted ads, sponsored or otherwise. I was so tired of my yahoo emails and blog favorites taking forever to load because of the annoying loading of ads.
      No more with ADBLOCK – you’ll love the commercial free surfing of the internet (and that includes this blog). The software is free, just goggle it. I am by no means a techie and have no interest in the company the company that offers the software. Just a regular reader who got tired and annoyed by the constant bombardment.

      I truly enjoy MMS blogs without all the interference.
      Go install it!! 🙂

      1. Sandi is right- AdBlock takes care of all those pesky ads that do nothing but annoy us:-) My husband installed it on our computers and it’s just great.I see none on Marion’s site .NONE 🙂

  35. I too loved your evolution of a room series! I devoured it, read every word! I saw you at Haven, but did not have the chance to say hello. I was thrilled to see you though! I most love to see your own home, and secretly hope that one day I will be around to see you move into a new house and start from scratch, just so I can see you do it all over again. Keep giving us more of that! As for what you wrote, it is refreshing to see that kind of honesty, congratulations for having the courage to write it! There really isn’t much that you are doing wrong in my opinion. Just keep being you and give us more of you. As for what I want from you, some free samples of milk paint wouldn’t hurt!! #i’llblogaboutit #kiddingnotkidding

  36. I’m always behind the 8 ball when it comes to reading all of the blogs i subscribe to, so I’m coming to you a little late. (But I’m also chronically late to everything else in life, too. I’m one of *those* people!) I rarely leave comments, but I just had to chime in on this one.

    I started reading your blog several years ago. I had just found home decorating blogs and was blown away by how many talented women were out there transforming their homes. But of all the blogs I’ve subscribed to (and they are legion) yours is hands down my favorite. No question.

    Our home we lived in for 18 years (just moved a year ago) was desperate. And old. And ugly. I was constantly picking up decorating magazines at the grocery, looking for help but never really finding it on a consistent basis. In any given issue there would be one really great home with a style I loved, then three more that I just couldn’t jive with. When I found you and your style, I knew I had finally found what I was really looking for all those years. I loved your motto “Move mountains in your home” and I know it may sound weird, but I totally took those words to heart. I finally got serious about making much needed changes to turn our ugly house into that cute little home I’d always wanted. I stopped being afraid to make the wrong choices and forced myself to be brave. I told my husband that if Miss Mustard Seed could change her life by starting a little blog, I could surely decorate our house and make it homey.

    And when we moved last summer and I had to start all over in a new style home (from prefab ranch to a farmhouse – my dream!), I bogged down again, completely overwhelmed. It took me months to finally choose a basic gray to cover up the harvest gold walls (I’m a little sad just typing that! ha ha). But once I pulled myself up by my bootstraps and got painting, I heard you telling me again to move mountains in my home. And I thought, I can do this.

    So for me, I think the joy of your blog has been watching your style unfold in front of all of us and your business blossom. I love how so many of your furniture find stories involve your parents picking things up for you (ti’s the kind of thing my parents would do for me). I love your home evolution series, and I think that it resonates with almost all of your readers. I love that I feel encouraged to try something new (I’m still considering a houseplant. Maybe. It’s a big commitment.). I love your kitchen counters and totally copied it at my old house, right down to the roman ogee edge. It was exactly what I wanted. And when we moved, the farmhouse sink and butcher block counter garnered more compliments than any other project we’d done. And I think that’s the essence of any well done blog – you inspire and I put my own spin on it and make it work for me and my family in my own home. Mountain moved.

    I’ve enjoyed when you’ve shared something personal (your son’s diabetes diagnosis is one that comes to mind), but I’ve always had the sense from your writing that you’re quiet, introspective, thoughtful, and maybe even introverted. I don’t really know, it’s just an impression. And I think that’s totally ok, I think starting personal, intimate details of your life with strangers over the internet isn’t for everyone. I like that your style, your way, isn’t loud and boisterous. That’s fun, and I enjoy those style of blogs as well, but it certainly wouldn’t match your quiet, thoughtful decorating style. So when you aren’t super personal, I don’t think too much of it because I get the sense that maybe it’s not really your thing.

    The thing that’s bringing loyal readers back to your blog is your unique style. Your spin on a piece of furniture. Your willingness to stretch yourself and try something new. I appreciate that you’ve been willing to put yourself out there, sharing your own style journey, encouraging all of us readers on our own style journeys. You put out content that feels right to you, be true to your own gut, and we will keep on reading. Thanks! 🙂

  37. Marian,

    I haven’t read ALL the comments but I thought I would share my thoughts. First let me say that I LOVE your blog!! But I do think it has changed a bit recently.
    When I first started reading it felt more “personal”. I think because you were working in your home…and it made us think “I can do that in my home”. Now that you are in a “business” space it seems as if the blog is more about your business. And really that makes sense because this blog is about your journey …and this is where your journey has taken you.
    When your blog was about your learning new things and then sharing them with us, we felt that we could follow along. Even the business things (like the paint line) because you were learning new things that you shared with us. Now that it is truly a business I think that many people feel left behind and maybe that it isn’t as interesting because you are just repeating the same things (because it IS a business and that is what you have to do in a business!)

    I still love your writing/photography and I enjoy your blog …but one of the things I hate are the pop-up ads. And this may be a perfect example of what I feel is the change in your blog. I have resisted getting Ad Blocker because I know that all bloggers have to be paid for the work they do–and I want to support the blogs I read, since I enjoy reading them. Adding pop-up adds might be a good business decision (you will make more money ) it feels very commercial and is VERY VERY annoying. It feels as if you (the blogger) are just in it to make AS MUCH money as possible even at the expense of the quality of the experience for the reader. So the blog has become a business instead of a passion you are sharing. There is one blog that I used to read but there are so many ads that it takes a long time to load (and there are also pop-up ads) so I just skip it.

    I feel a little sad because I have seen other bloggers go through the same process and decide to stop blogging–and it feels like losing a friend. Because I do feel that you are a friend. A very good friend that has inspired me in so many ways. I appreciate all that you do in keeping the blog going (I’m sure I don’t have any idea of the amount of work that goes into it)
    As I said this blog is about YOUR journey and I feel blessed that you have shared it with us. I hope you will continue the blog.

  38. I can’t comment on how different your blog is today verses when you first started since I came across your blog about 2 years ago while researching milk paint. But when I did find it, it was love at first sight!
    I love your tutorials on painting, slipcovering, decorating – and the evolution series was just what I needed at a time when I trying to work through some décor issues with most of the rooms in our house!
    I’m a kindred spirit when I look at the rooms in your home – that’s how I want my rooms to look like when they ‘grow up’, and seeing your spaces has been soooooo helpful. I was always looking for the instant gratification, and somehow my rooms didn’t quite look right. Through your blog I realize how much I settled in order to have things finished…which were then not quite finished because I didn’t like the end result (even when family/guests loved the style, I knew it wasn’t quite right – I’d cheated myself just to get-‘er-done). My rooms are evolving slowly in a way I really love and the credit for that goes to you. Also, knowing what you buy and how much you pay for keeps it real. Now when I see something I love, I think of your advice; that helps me keep from over-spending money we really don’t have.
    Things I’m not fond of…the photography pointers: although I realize that’s helpful for current and future bloggers, so, I’m fine that it provides something for others, and I just pass it by.
    The Lucketts series: I live so far from it, so its not something that interests me.
    The pop-up ads: I realize they help pay the bills, but there are so many that I think it detracts from your blog.
    Scale of 1-10, with 10 being the cat’s pajamas, I’d rate your blog a 9. Great work, beautiful home and wonderful tips and tutorials!

  39. Marian I am sure you have not seen my Haven recap post, but it was basically all about so desperately wanting to meet YOU while I was there–because you are my inspiration! You were the first blog I ever read and to this day one of the few I read regularly. Your work is amazing, thank you for sharing it with us over the years. And don’t worry, my post isn’t like “I’m a freaky Miss Mustard Seed Stalker,” but actually talks through how I learned at Haven to celebrate all of the moments of growth and learning, not just trying to always get the “big win”. If you get a chance to read it I think it will make you chuckle. Have a wonderful weekend–I will miss FFF, but understand all good things must come to an end.

  40. Your blog is a lovely little escape for me each day. I come for the eye-candy. Your style is different from mine – but I love to see what you’re up to and what you’re working on and excited about. I get ideas. I get inspiration. I wish I lived closer so that I could attend Lucketts! It looks amazing and I love the anticipation and hype as you gear up for it each year. I love learning how you’ve painted or sewn certain things. I love information about remodelling — your floors, tilework, etc. I love seeing the pieces of ironstone you’ve found. I love your connection with your grandparents, etc and mentions of family history and how meaningful that is for you. I feel a kinship because we have similar budgets! There are too many blogs that I really can’t relate to because I don’t have an enormous bank account. Keep it real!

  41. I really am glad that you did ask these questions. I don’t know if I have anything to add after all the good constructive suggestions I have read. I have read pretty much every post you have ever done since I have found you and have really enjoyed them. However, of late I have felt that you have become a bit stale, i.e. only milk paint pieces instead of different types of paint and the same old same old styles for furniture refinishing, with grain sacks. I really enjoyed the DIY tutorials you made, even the ones you did long ago that you apologize for since they are real. I enjoyed your making something out of nothing which is my forte. This is what I am hoping you do more of in the future. As for FFF I do think that is something that I am glad you are going to replace or redo. I only read the ones you chose, didn’t have time really to look at all of the ones people submitted although I am sure they were all fantastic.

    As to what I would like to see more of is more tutorials, more DIY projects, more simple things that a person like me could do on a tight budget. Different fabrics besides grain sacks, that for me are way out of my price range. I do like using drop cloths and liked how you showed us how to make faux grain sack fabric from them.

    You have a lot to be proud of in your journey on this blog, it is very successful and I am happy for you. What a great job you have done to take your blog this far and make such a go of it. I only wish you much more success and am waiting here in the wings to see what you come up with in your journey to make your blog even better.

  42. Marian! Woww, after reading so many comments I only want to tell you that I enjoy your blog a lot, you have encouraged me more than you can imagine. Not only because of your style but because I love how enthusiastic and hard worker you are.
    Keep on just like you are, you and your blog are fantastic!!!
    Besos y abrazos (kisses and hugs) from Argentina

  43. Hi Marian!

    I remember a while ago, myself and several readers were vocal-all at the same time-about being tired of your sponsored posts. Well, the MMS diehard fans pretty much crucified us, called us jealous, ungrateful, mean, you get the idea. It was as if we were the step-children at the Sorority cotillion. Like there was a MMS club that we were being drummed out of because we had the temerity to voice a different opinion. So, I unsubscribed. However, I kept coming back, there were still sponsored posts, but I got the feeling they were commitments already made, soon the SP’s were fewer and fewer. Your response us to was to say you would still do the SP’s, but you would do a better job of maintaining your own voice.

    AND YOU HAVE!! You did what you said you were going to do. Well done!

    But we are at a cross roads again, and those usually, hopefully, lead to break throughs and growth. I love your taste, but I am tired of milk paint and French chairs. What about going crazy and doing something in Mid-Century modern or taking something hideous and voila! I love seeing what you have bought, it’s like shopping with a friend. What’s the next big trend, color, style? You are in a better position to know/predict that than most.

    TAKE US THERE!!!!!!!

  44. Tutorials are helpful. I’d like to see what you are really doing in your studio. I like your fashion posts and mentions of your family. I would love to see you decorate a new space. If not your own home (since it’s pretty much done), other people’s homes maybe? I agree that it was time to retire the Friday Furniture link-up. I stopped looking at those long ago.

  45. I’m late to the party but I still would like to add my take on it. I enjoy the projects, the how tos, the ramblings, the links to other blogs. Really found the personal stories interesting, the golden tote? or something like that, whole 30 day plan, etc. I am tired of blue and white. I realize it’s your home, your style so I get it. Do you do design work for others? Can you help complete someone else’s home with painted furniture, or just do a mock up of what they could do with their home? Your extremely talented and I admire all you have your finger in, I just would like to see some fresh things or I should say fresh locations. Can you create more vignettes in your workroom with items that create a different look then blue and white or gray? Items you plan on selling or are working on for a customer. Anyway your blog is one I look at all the time. I keep wanting to send you photos of rooms that are a work in progress because your scale and design ideas are spot on. I think your fabulous and hope I haven’t stepped on any toes.

  46. You draw with paint with such simple, pleasant designs . I’d love a tutorial on how to do that on my own pieces .
    We live in a nice home- some people might think it’s even a fancy house . But what I am constantly seeking is the warmth , the charm , the whimsy that you have created in your home . Thank you for helping me do that .

  47. Hi Marian,
    I just want you to know that I love your blog. I follow only yours and one other on a regular basis. You are an inspiration! You make me believe that I too, as a mom and girl next door, can also be a writer, an entrepreneur, a lover of pursuing a passion and perhaps, just maybe, be successful at it like you are!
    To the naysayers and critics who say your style has changed or your blog has changed (or, you haven’t changed enough) , well, hello?! With growth comes change. For pete’s sake (who is Pete anyway?), a person can choose to read on and page down or not!
    I for one, look forward to whatever direction you decide to take your blog, because after all, it is YOUR blog.
    You asked what I as a reader, want. Well, I love tutorials and how-to videos. I love decorating ideas and creative projects. Oh…just what you have been doing! And whatever or however much you wish to share of yourself personally, that’s up to you. Take it in what direction you feel compelled to take and I as a reader and follower, will click on or not. It’s really that simple.

  48. I used to check your blog daily. I can’t put my finger on exactly when and why that changed, but I find myself checking weekly or less now just to see if something will interest me. I think I found that every post was becoming similar to the previous post. I am sure it can be very difficult to find daily content. You could always scale back on the number of days you post and have more posts that your readers desire.

    Less interested in:
    1. Friday links (never have been)
    2. video chats I will always skip over
    3. One or two days of Lucketts is plenty. Maybe you can have a clickable link at the sidebar of your blog for all those that want Lucketts information like map, parking, schedule, when you’ll be there, etc.
    4. French chair makeovers unless totally different.

    1. Tutorials
    2. Video tutorials
    3. Furniture make overs
    4. Room re-dos
    5. Outside/landscaping re-dos
    6. Personal stories are fine occasionally as it connects your readers to you.
    7. Money talk also connects you with your readers. Include the budget and how others can afford to re-do, etc.
    8. It might be fun to see some items that you passed over on purchasing and why – teaching.
    9. What you purchased on your shopping trips
    10. Occasionally featuring another blogger that is top notch

    Maybe you can find another person’s home to redo in a bit different style, but still YOUR style. You are doing great, but with any business changes are good. Thanks.

  49. First of all, I commend you for your success. It is obvious that you are a very hard worker! However, count me in as one of those who don’t check in as often as I used to. The tone of your blog is very different from the beginning when you were very excited to pick up some Christmas ornaments at Walmart on sale after Christmas! I think the turning point for me was when Layla from The Lettered Cottage won your cow naming contest. It was then that I felt you were positioning yourself to get blog hits, raise your Alexa ranking etc.

    I think a very good model for great blogging is Alicia at Posie Gets Cozy. She has been at it a long time, and through it all, has maintained that personal, non-commercial approach. Now, she may not be relying on her blog for income inthe same way that you do, but I feel that when I visit her blog, we are seeing a genuine peek into her life.

    I can’t really give any concrete advice about how to separate wanting to make money with your milk paint business and constantly putting it out there in front of us. It’s one of those dilemmas where success has a double-edged sword of drawing some in and alienating others!

    1. I just checked out that blog.. I guess what you are saying is that here are different blog styles, and that you prefer a blog that allows a continuous glimpse into another family’s life. I am not comfortable with that. I would feel as though I were just a voyeur, and played a minor role as audience in a print reality show. Isn’t Alicia making money from showcasing her family?
      I think it’s fine to allow occasional glimpses into your family life- but there has to be a limit so that the family doesn’t feel on display or even exploited..There was one design blog I used to follow until the author’s detailed descriptions of her daughter’s increasing meltdowns which escalated while on vacation in Europe, and then the quest for a medical diagnosis, finally had me unsubscribe. Maybe it was a catharsis for her, and I was truly sad for her,but I just felt uncomfortable being part of a stranger’s life to such an extent.
      Just a different perspective..:-)

      1. When I first started my blog…even now…my intention is to grow it for maybe a sort of short income later, but now it’s really a vent. I only started it after looking at a craft site that in the middle of nowhere she shared her broken heart and I thought, “You know what? People need more real”. Real people do awesome things and it’s not always easy along the way. I love when I visit a messy home, just to know that mine achieving that status every once in a while is normal. If I post something maybe not so pretty (like those things you feel but don’t see), it’s because I truly believe that God will steer the one person there that is losing hope. I don’t do it to exploit my family in any way, and I do have to honestly say that there have recently been things that I couldn’t share, or at least not yet because they are raw. But someday I will. I have found myself disconnecting a bit though…and planning things in a more closed way.

    2. Isabella,

      Thanks for your thoughtful comments. It think there is a balance of trust that is established between a blogger and their readers. If you approach a blog with skepticism, not trusting what the blogger says, it’s not going to be a very satisfying experience. For example, I remember when Layla was chosen as the winner of that contest. I was keeping a list of suggested names that I liked, unrelated to who suggested them. At the end of the contest, I picked the name Adele and, when I looked to see who suggested it first, it was Layla. She had won the contest fair and square and I didn’t see a reason to exclude her from winning, just because of her blog. That’s just how it happened. I didn’t have any money-making, blog-growing motives in that decision.

      We make judgements about the motives of others all the time and that’s okay for you to be skeptical. I know if you really knew me, though, you would know that I am honest and fair and that carries over into how the winners for my giveaways are selected.

  50. Yes, I do see that point. I myself would not put my children on a blog to that extent. I believe that most of Alicia’s money is made from her craft site. Even that is rarely mentioned unless she has a new product she has designed. That said, I don’t believe I have ever seen a sponsored post on her blog. She does not have pop-ups or even ads that I have seen. (I need to double check on that.) So many blogs today have become walking advertisements!

    What I do like about Alicia’s blog is the peacefulness of it all.

    It’s a fine point between making a living on your blog and alienating readers. One thing I have noticed on some blogs is the whole give-away thing. Often, more times than not, the gifts will be given to a person WITH a blog who can showcase them on her own blog. In that way, the two bloggers can mutually promote their blogs. Gone are the days where the random name is drawn from the jar or the winning number is shown on the screen. Now, we have absolutely no idea how that winner was chosen! If a blog begins to feel like the in crowd in high school, I am usually out of there!

    1. Isabella( such a lovely name) I totally agree with you..the fine line between keeping readers feeling as though the were personal friends- and having to give them more and more personal glimpses because that pays the bills, is a fine line. Thankfully, Marion is very discreet and I am happy to see occasional references/inclusions of her family .It is, in some ways- a family business, and they are all stockholders, right ?
      Now on having give-away to bloggers- that’s not acceptable. Other bloggers shouldn’t be allowed to enter contests..:-) Unfair competition? 🙂
      For another really peaceful, beautifull blog( no competition to Marion) have a look at British designer Ben Pentreath..Wonderful!

  51. Hi! I took a furniture painting class offered a few years ago in my area where the instructor sold your book and your milk paint. That is how I got introduced to you and your blog. I received a tablet as a Christmas gift and found myself enjoying the convenience and routine of tuning in to see your posts about Lucketts furniture transformations. That was all it took…I was hooked! My husband soon grew accustomed to my time spent reading your blog. “Is that Miss Mustard Seed again?”, he would ask. But now he knows not to ask anymore.

    When Lucketts was over, I missed that daily excitement and anticipation of your furniture picks that day. In order to get “my fix” I started reading your older posts in marathon bursts! Yeah, I am addicted!

    Let me share with you that I am a 40 year old Vietnamese-American woman living in Texas. Your design style really resonated with me. As a child of immigrant parents, we did not have the extra’s for nice home decor. However, that never stopped me from re-arranging my parents furniture or constantly redecorating my bedroom since 2nd grade!

    Fast forward to today. You make me feel normal. I, too, love lovely old furniture and dishes. I am constantly moving furniture at home and work. My husband no longer questions why I want his help to move that armoire again…

    Your style is you and it resonates with me. Despite cultural barriers, you have a gift that allows someone like me to relate to you. Yes, I know we are not “friends”, but your familiarity in my life allows me to find comfort and distraction from my life struggles…even for a few minutes. That is the gift you give to me…a stranger all the way in Texas.

    You are an example to me of the “American dream” my parents instilled in me. You excelled at doing what you love, sharing with others, and providing for your family. Your personal and professional growth has opened new doors and opportunities. In life, there are no successes without stumbles along the way. Sometimes these struggles allow us to grow better and stronger. That is what I like about you.

    There is a time and a season for people in life. The person you used to be is not the person you are today. That is the result of personal growth and improvement. Those who cannot move in the same direction that your blog has taken have expressed disappointment, but I say the opposite. I think it is exciting and refreshing. The core of Miss Mustard Seed is still there. I am excited for you and am your number one Vietnamese fan!

  52. I’m late to the party but I thought I’d offer my reason for not checking in as often as I used to. It has more to do with me than you. Let’s face it, yes your blog has changed but what hasn’t changed? I’ve changed too. You’ve been doing this a very long time. You’ve been more than generous with all the knowledge you’ve acquired through all your hard work and talent. Yes, I’ve painted furniture and rooms more than I care to remember. I can’t get over you can keep at it. Me, I have a project I want it over and done with. I’m at a different stage in my life. I’m more interested when you take things to Luckett’s. About once a year I get to shop there and loved checking out your things and buying several too!! Call me lazy. Your talent and energy out shines me. It’s kind of like I love Martha Stewart’s work but my eyes glaze over when her recipes turn into an all day project. Is she wrong? Please, she’s highly successful. People check on for her knowledge your not going to get touchy feeling posts from Martha. You’re a very busy person now. I’m sure you’re nostalgic about the old days. I have to admit I was kind of sad when you said you wanted to sell your home. I loved seeing the transformation. Then I thought……hey wait a minute who am I to talk?? I sold my old dream home farmhouse. It annoyed me when people said I CAN’T BELIEVE you’re selling it!! Well, I did and I’m very happy hahaha life changes.

  53. Marian, I think what you are also seeing is a shift in social media these days. Lots of blogs have almost disappeared. Many “famous” bloggers post almost exclusively on Instagram now.) Most of my cross stitch blogs have disappeared and have migrated to Facebook. Has blogging run its course? I don’t entirely think so, but there has definitely been a shift. We are that instant information society–a quick text, a tweet, post a pic on Instagram etc. We, as a society, are always looking for something new, a quick fix, a distraction. I think it is good that you are assessing your blog and business in these changing times!

  54. I read your blog fairly regularly. I usually click on every post, although I don’t read every word of them all. Sometimes it’s because I don’t have a particular interest (even then, I usually scroll through the pictures), sometimes it’s because it takes a long time to load (old computer, maybe the ads, probably a combo). I do still follow regularly however. I have read a bit of the feedback you have gotten and have no particular suggestions. I read your blog and others for inspiration. Eventually, I get off the couch and do something to my own home! Since that’s my purpose for reading, there’s nothing that needs changing for me. My personal assessment is that yours is one of the most professional and one of my favorites. I would prefer fewer ads, but I am happy for you to make money for the work that you put into it.

  55. Hi Marian,
    I’m a fellow blogger, you know who I am ;-). I don’t visit much because writing my own blog, I don’t have the time any longer to read other blogs as I used to. I am still a one woman show. At this time I don’t have anyone else helping me….it;s just me. After reading some of the comments about changing your style and the ads I wanted to say this.
    I know that for me my style is what it is. I can’t change my style to write blog post. I would be dishonest to my readers if I started blogging about contemporary style or modern or whatever. Just stay true to yourself. So if some think you need to change your style, then maybe this blog is not for them.
    Ads are always an issue. I try to limit mine, and I hope to someday take all of them off of my site. But for now it’s the main way I make money from my blog. I don’t think most readers understand the time and money it takes to run a blog. But yet so many want more projects, and information shared that they get for free. Everything comes with a price.
    I think you are amazing and you have always inspired me,

  56. As I am a ‘from time to time’ reader of your blog, I wouldn’t dare nor dream to give you any advice – I also NOW realise why I didn’t read it regularly (there was a certain amount of self-promotion which I didn’t appreciate – but I didn’t even notice until you brought all this up now) – I am just so utterly impressed to see that you have hundreds and hundreds of faithful readers to think about what you wrote and voicing their opinion. That IS a good thing and I assume from their reactions that you ARE indeed a well known ‘unbeknown friend’ to many of your readers.
    I just hope to find time (sometime in the near future) to read through all those comments; I am sure there is much to learn from for all and everyone of us
    Thank you for your honesty – it’s highly appreciated

  57. Hi Marian, I don’t read as much as I used to but I think the posts are more plentiful of late and I fail to keep up. Where do you find the time???
    I do like FFF but if I’m honest, only if I’m submitting something. I always hoped to be featured but I felt it was a little MMS milk paint biased in its features. Sorry.
    The ads are the biggest bugbear for me. The page takes ages to load, things pop up and have to be closed and often music blares out or commercials start playing.
    I never listen to design ramblings.
    Your blog is one of my favourites ever. I love that you keep it real. I don’t mind a bit of family life popping in to it. How can it not?
    You are inspirational and I LOVE your style.

  58. Dear Marion,

    I’ve been following your for a very long time. I’m also a blogger myself, a bad one I guess. I don’t have many people that read what I post, maybe because I’m not the best writer, maybe because I’m not the best photographer, who knows. I started my blog in 2007 and it was a way for me to journal about my family life and share my home design dreams. I used to be a scrapbooker and was a designer for a few companies back in the day, my blog fulfilled that need to create. I don’t advertise which I should but I don’t want to become to commercial, which in so many ways it has. I get it blogging is now a big time business for so many. I don’t mind the ads but the POP ups for the Disney cruise that pops up on all the pictures drives me nuts!! It’s taking me computer so long to load and then when it does I have to take the time to click out of the boxes. I find myself going on Instagram more because of this. Having said this…I love your blog and your probably the only blog I visit faithfully. I enjoy the video chats and so many of the topics I’ve thought about and I wish I could be sitting with you drinking some coffee and discussing those topics with you. I like that you share so much, your honesty and bit and pieces of your family life, it is what makes you real! I love your style even though it NOT completely my style I think you have wonderful taste and have a very creative mind. I’m glad I’ve got to witness your success and that you’ve taken the time to email me or answer my questions when I’ve asked.

  59. I too used to check in daily, but I too tapered off in recent months. I had noticed the content/format had changed. I started a new pattern of checking in every so often & scanning titles to see if anything was of interest as compared to before when I read every entry.

    I like the tutorials and the transformation before and after photos. I generally don’t watch the videos because of time (my lack of…I can read faster than watch a video).

    Right now, I’m really interested in accessories for my home. I’m beyond that phase of furniture, rugs & curtains. I always LOVE how you use unexpected items or even ordinary ones to accessorize, so I’d LOVE to see more of that. Ideas: staging dressers, hanging art, coffee table or occasional table arrangments, etc.

  60. Wow, Marian. How brave you are to ask what people want from you! I haven’t read the comments (344!). I can only imagine what they must be. I’ve been reading your blog a long time, almost since the beginning. It’s the personal-ness of your story that drew me in so many years ago. Life has twists and turns and our stories change as life changes. I’m in a sea change myself, as an artist.

    I love what I am seeing on your blog with Megan’s office makeover. I love the process of you helping another person develop their home and story. Great job.


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