Thursday, July 21, 2011

Blogging and Beyond...with Julia

Today marks the first post of my new Blogging and Beyond series. My intent is to offer a behind-the-scenes-glimpse into the lives of some of my favorite bloggers, and to hopefully learn some more about blogging. Here's to summer and good blog reading!

The first blogger we'll be getting to know is Julia from Hooked on Houses.

Her tagline says it all. If you have a love affair with houses, this is the blog for you.

Julia showcases everything from Bad MLS Photos to Celebrity Homes to Beautiful Makeovers and all sorts of other fun features. She has a wonderful sense of humor, and I am forever grateful to her for introducing me to the genius that is Downton Abbey. She also takes time to answer reader questions, and I'm always appreciative of her input.

Here's what I learned about Julia in our Q and A session:

1. Why did you start a blog, and what makes you stick with it?

I had been working as a freelance writer since college--mostly magazine articles and textbook projects. It was a great gig (I could work from home and be with my kids), but I was getting really burned out by the end of 2007. I was working long, crazy hours to research and write about topics that weren't always that interesting to me.

So, in January of 2008, my new year's resolution was to find a way to write about something just for fun, and just for myself. I was trying to sort out what that would be in my journal and wrote, "I'm hooked on houses, so I should start a blog and call it that!" It was like a light bulb went off. I walked straight to my computer and started HoH, without having any idea what I was doing.

I had never seen a design blog. Ever. I had no idea they existed. I had been reading blogs for writers and moms, but not for house lovers. Imagine my surprise to discover that there was an entire community out there of people like me!

What makes me stick with it? Not being able to stop. I love it! In January of 2010, I stopped accepting outside writing projects and became a full-time blogger. It's my dream job.

2. What's one piece of advice you wish someone had given you before you started blogging?

Write as if the whole world is reading.

In the beginning, I had no idea anyone but friends and family would be looking at my blog. I had all kinds of personal information and photos on there because it never occurred to me how public my forum would be.

I had only been blogging for about a month when I mentioned two of my favorite authors and they both sent me very nice emails, thanking me for mentioning their books. This is how I learned about Google Alert! Turns out if you write about someone, they will probably get that alert and see it (so watch what you say--ha).

Three months into blogging, I was mentioned in the London Guardian newspaper as a "Blog to Watch." Suddenly I had hundreds of new readers from the UK. It blew my mind. You really never know who is the world might be reading!

3. Is there a Feature/Series from your blog that you could call a favorite? 

I personally get a kick out of the Funny Real Estate Photos because the reader comments on those are always hilarious. Readers send me so many contenders for that feature each week that I can't use all of them on my blog, so I post the extras on my Facebook Page.

I love writing about the TV and Movie Houses because I'm kind of a research junkie who likes to track the information down. But by far the most popular posts are about Celebrity Houses. People can't seem to get enough of seeing where the stars live!

4. Do you enjoy reading books or magazines? If so, what do you gravitate to?

I love to read. I go to every author reading I can and have collected their autographs over the years. I have my favorite autographs--like those I got from Sophie Kinsella, Madeleine L'Engle, and Elinor Lipman--hanging on the wall of my office.

Now that I'm reading house/design blogs every day, I don't pick up as many shelter mags as I used to. My must-have magazine is actually Entertainment Weekly. I'm a total entertainment junkie, which you can probably tell if you read my blog. I love that EW is informative, fun, and has a sense of humor--three things I want Hooked on Houses to be!

5. Favorite meal to make?

Have you seen the Patricia Heaton sitcom "The Middle"? Whenever her husband Mike brings home bags of fast food, she says, "Thanks for making dinner!" I think they must be spying on my house. Ha. But seriously, I'm not much of a cook, but my husband is. He loves to bake, too. That's what sold me on him in the first place. ;-)

6. What do you look forward to the most about summer?

Using our new sunroom, which we built over the winter. We love it out there! Pics are here.

7. How has adopting a dog changed your family?

We are all so in love with Maizie, our little black and white Shih Tzu, it's crazy. When we adopted her in January, she was in bad shape (starving, with a broken jaw), so it's rewarding just to see her becoming so healthy, happy, and strong.

It's also nice having a little companion by my side while I'm working at home all day. And it's good to have a reason to get out of my office and take a walk every few hours! (You can read her story here.)

8. Do you have a favorite house style?
Beachy. I feature a lot of beach houses on my blog because that's what I'm always drawn to. I would love to have one of my own someday!

9. If you had to choose one celebrity home to live in, which one would you choose?

I love Reese Witherspoon's retreat in Ojai, where she married Jim Toth earlier this year. I especially liked how colorful it was when designer Kathryn Ireland lived there.

10. Favorite guilty pleasure?

Chocolate. Hands-down. I never, ever skip dessert.

11. How do you balance blogging with your personal life?

I'll let you know when I figure it out! Wish I could say something that would make me sound like I've got it all together, but the truth is I spend way too much time on the computer. I'm always amazed when I hear other bloggers say they only work on their blog 2-3 days a week, peek in on Twitter and FB once a day, and never check their stats. I am not that blogger. :)

What I do aim for is to make the most of those times when I don't have any distractions (read: kids). When they're here and want something from me, I try to get up from the computer and give them my full attention as quickly as possible so they don't feel like blog orphans. Yesterday my daughter Lily asked me to play about a dozen different board games with her, and I spent the afternoon doing just that instead of finishing the post I planned to work on. It meant a late night of catch-up for me after the kids were in bed, but it was worth it to have that time with her. I definitely have to be more flexible in the summer when school's out!

Thank you so much, Julia, for being willing to take the time to share with us!

I hope you'll stop by Hooked on Houses to get your house fix. Please be sure to tell Julia I sent you.

Please come back tomorrow to link up YOUR best post of the week to Weekend Bloggy Reading. Recipes, crafts, home decor, book reviews, funny stories, you name it. Come prepared to showcase your blog and find some great weekend reads.
Weekend Bloggy Reading


  1. What a great post, Amanda!

    Julia is one of my favorite people in the blogosphere. As you know, I love to read good writing, and Julia's is the best. It's amazing how good her writing is. Back in the day when most writing was done by professionals, I think her writing would have been well above average, but perhaps hers wouldn't have stood out quite so much. Today, though, her writing is just the best--a true pleasure to read.

    In addition to being such a good writer, Julia is just a lovely person. She is unfailingly kind and so very encouraging. I respect her greatly, and I just plain LIKE her!

    This is a neat idea for a series, Amanda! Your questions are good, and these will be great fun to read. Thank you!

  2. Amanda, I can already tell I'm going to LOVE this series. Now I'm off to subscribe to her blog!

  3. Hi Amanda, What a great idea for a series. Being new to blogging I love any input on how to become a better blogger. I'm trying!! Thanks to Julia for sharing. Lovely interview. Now I'm off to check out Reese's house. : )
    ~ Catie

  4. Great series Amanda! I can't wait to read more. Thanks for your hard work in putting this together!

  5. What a fun new series Amanda! And an awesome interview too! I love her #2 tip to write like the whole world is reading! I need to remember that more often:)

  6. Hope that Julia's dream of a beach house will come true!!!! Great series, Amanda!! Also, I just learned about Google Alert! So much to learn still, even after two years of blogging.

  7. What a great series!!! So fun to read about other bloggers and how they live and the dreams they have!

    Great post girl!!!

  8. This seies is going to be so much fun! I've looked at Julia's blog a time or two, but after reading this interview, I realize that I need to become a regular reader.

  9. You come up with the greatest series!! Thanks for showcasing Julia and her blog...I am now a subscriber and can't wait to spend way more time than I need to reading her blog!!

  10. What a great new series! Julia is new to me so thank you for the great introduction! I can't wait to meet all your favorites!!

  11. Thanks for having me here today, Amanda! This was fun. You asked some great questions, and I'm looking forward to reading how other bloggers answer them, too. :)

  12. SHUT TO THE UP!!!
    If Julia knew how many times I have typed in, she would take out a restraining order!
    I wrote my very first post about Julia and her blog.
    Thank You! Love this!
    Kerry at

  13. Another great series Amanda! I now have a new blog to follow. Thanks for featuring Julia and Hooked on Houses. I love it!

  14. Wow I just love that her favourite authors contacted her! Maybe I need to write about authors who are actually still alive? :P

  15. So nice meeting Julia and hearing of her blog. I must go visit!

  16. Great post! I'm so happy to have found both of your blogs. Thanks!


I love to hear your feedback! Please feel free to leave comments...just don't send me spam asking me to buy stuff off your website! I've got three kids and no money to purchase your magic weight-loss pill or bust enhancement, or whatever else you might be selling. Thanks, and I look forward to hearing from you! :)

Note: Only a member of this blog may post a comment.

Related Posts Plugin for WordPress, Blogger...