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Check Out Tarah Wolff’s Story

Today we’d like to introduce you to Tarah Wolff.

Hi Tarah, thanks for joining us today. We’d love for you to start by introducing yourself.
My grandparents were woodworkers and made gorgeous furniture during their retirement years so I come by my love of wood and old furniture very naturally. I was homeschooled and grew up helping maintain the DIY golf course of my family where there was almost nothing we didn’t figure out how to do ourselves. (After that I never want to mow another blade of grass for as long as I live lol!). I taught myself web design as a teenager and did ok at it for a few years in my early twenties, designing and hosting websites as a side hustle, besides my main job in IT. Also as a teenager, I joined a nonprofit publishing company and went on to become their co-editor and a director on their board. I’m also their book designer and have designed over forty books for them and independent authors since 2005. I also freelanced as a photographer for a while and put on several gallery shows over the years, selling prints, etc.

It was 2013, I was 26 years old, back home in Minnesota for good and looking for two things: An older home to purchase and restore and an idea for a website that could start producing income for me. (I had already been a freelance web designer for several years at that point and was so totally over producing profitable websites for other people.) We sadly lost my Grandma that year and my grandparents’ 100-year-old home was just sitting empty. It was the first of the stars aligning in my life as there really was nothing I wanted more than to keep and restore their beautiful old farmhouse both to remember them and for me too.

Starting in the spring of 2014 the renovation was an incredible amount of work that took me nearly 16 months. Every weekend, every day after my day job, every paid holiday, and all of my vacation time. I did the majority of the work myself and it was literally when I was under that old home running plumbing pipe when I had my real “Ah-ha!” moment. Why wasn’t I blogging about what I was doing!? Grandma’s House DIY was born!

Alright, so let’s dig a little deeper into the story – has it been an easy path overall and if not, what were the challenges you’ve had to overcome?
I think any online based business, especially nowadays, is going to be a real struggle to get off of the ground. Especially with Covid many folks who would never have started an online business or blog took the opportunity to do it in the last couple of years. As ours is technically a blog we faced enormous competition right off the bat and do even more so today. (To date, there are more than 600 million blogs out of 1.9 billion websites in the world.) I started the blog in 2015 and the biggest struggle I faced was finding my groove and my voice. Initially was very boring! I wanted to do it SO right that I edited my own personality right out of it. It took me years to finally accept who I am and what our blog is going to look like and read like. I had to STOP comparing myself to other design and DIY bloggers and really embrace that this is going to look and feel like us and, point of fact, that’s what a blog is supposed to be!

Being an introvert though having the confidence and just be me was a real struggle that took me years to get over.

Thanks – so what else should our readers know about your work and what you’re currently focused on?
Once I started putting myself out there people responded. Transparency is incredibly important – the haters have nothing to talk about if you already admitted your own faults and struggles. Being candid like that is the top compliment we receive. The fact that we’re “real” people, living a real-life, bettering a real home. I think everyone is sick of the perfect, totally unrealistic homes and people we see on Instagram and all social media – and I believe that’s why Grandma’s House DIY is gaining popularity because people can relate to us. We don’t have much money – the reason we have nice things is pure frugal DIY determination that anyone can do! I am still just totally stunned that just being ourselves Grandma’s House DIY was able to entirely cover its own costs in 2017 and then in 2018, we made nearly 5k. In 2020 we made over 15k and we made over 20k in 2021!

Before we let you go, we’ve got to ask if you have any advice for those who are just starting out?
STICK WITH IT!

I think anyone who has launched a website and, somehow, managed to make it successful can identify with the analogy of “throwing jel-o at the wall and hoping something will stick.” It takes A SHOCKING AMOUNT OF JEL-O. In fact, at some point, I just put my head down and kept making jel-o just hoping for the best. Like plowing a field with no idea how big the field even is!

It’s daunting and frustrating and many bloggers just give up or, at least, they give up on the hope of ever having a high enough readership to make any kind of profit. This is why your blog must be something that you love to do and practically something you would be doing anyway because the likelihood of getting paid for it the first couple of years is very low.

I believe though the driving force of creating a popular blog is TIME. Consistently posting no matter what, having a schedule, and never missing a deadline.

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Tarah Wolff

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