2018 Going Forward

fence-01

Hey everyone, it’s Naomi! It is so good to be back. This blog has been long overdue for some new posts. We have some exciting news though! 2017 was a massive year for us. We got married (Surprise!), I graduated college, we have our first apartment together and two adorable kittens. That being said with such a massive year behind us, of course we want to make 2018 a wonderful year as well.

Going Forward!

Avery started an etsy shop (Check it out at etsy.com/shop/ogdencustoms)! He is super excited to be moving forward with this as his side job and it brings him so much joy to design merch! I on the other hand have undertaken the task of reviving the “HomesteadSweethearts” brand. After graduating college I really feel like there is nothing holding me back from this blog, our instagram and so much more. I’m so excited to announce that in conjunction with this blog we are planning a VLOG! What better way to provide tutorials than videos am I right? So expect some posts about those coming up in the future.

So besides our new side hustles/brands/passions coming to life we have some major goals this year! Numero uno is to pay off 50% of our debt. I won’t lie we are nearly 91k in debt between things like student loans, cars, new phones, and credit cards. The absolute bulk being in student loans (sorry Aves, you’re a babe for supporting my education!). So that is the number one goal. 45.5k paid off this year, wish us luck!

The second one is a journey to being zero waste. Sustainability was a major part of my life in college and I want to bring that into my marriage with Avery. Not only will it save us money, but it will bring a whole lot of positive ramifications with it. We honestly can say that this is just one of the ways that we hope to improve our lives.

The third major goal is getting back to “homesteading”. This is a dream for us that is hard to make a true reality when we are renting an apartment. But we are fortunate to have access to land to garden and raise animals and we want to show you how we overcome the inability to purchase large lots of land.

There are so many other little goals to this year but those are the major things that you will see us talking about in our blog and vlog. We hope you have a fantastic start to your year. So let us know two things in the comments down below. 1) What kind of content do you hope to see from us this year? 2) What are your top goals for 2018!

~ Naomi

March Review & April Goals!

17797821_1727227430637838_222001256_o

Hello everyone!

Our first full month of blogging is over! I can’t believe how this first month has gone by so fast. Avery and I had some goals for this month and we did pretty well overall, but we still have a long way to go! So, let’s just dive right in and review how we did and where we need to improve!

March Review

These were our goals for March:

  • Post on our blog every Tuesday and Friday!
  • Create our Pinterest page
  • Read about bloggers Pinterest strategies
  • Post on Instagram 3x a week

Here is how we did!

  • 7 New Blog Posts
  • Posted at least 5x a week on Instagram
  • Our first affiliate link!
  • Created our Pinterest

Some big things that haven’t happened yet:

  • Posting on Pinterest
  • Scheduled posts on social media
  • Actually making an income

Stats:

Unique Visitors: 24 (down from 40)

WordPress followers: 7 (up from 4)

Highest Performing Post:

Instagram followers: 47 (up from 11)

Highest Performing Photo:

17453423_1897434777135550_957665615_o

Photo Credit: Avery. Btw it tasted as good as it looks.

Our thoughts on March

First of all I want to say that in March we did hit over 50! followers on Instagram, but to be honest on March 31st we were down to 47. Since then we have stayed above 50 Instagram followers.

Mar Insta 2017

So that was pretty awesome. Unfortunately I do not feel that we were as successful turning those new followers into content viewers. We are bloggers first and the fact that our post viewers were down is disappointing. I realized this about half way through the month and found that it came from two main reasons:

  1. We were not interacting enough with other bloggers on WordPress. We are great about responding to comments on our own posts, but we need to improve putting ourselves out into the community.
  2. Our social media presence isn’t translating into blog viewership. We need to get Pinterest going as it is easier for people to get to our website than Instagram. Although we really have loved running Instagram and will definitely keep growing it.

Blogging content I was happy with, but my posting skills were weak. I definitely didn’t post every Tuesday and Friday, although we have made progress. Regretfully I struggled with some technical issues and scheduled posts and had to delay some. This is a huge goal for next month. Also we only got our first affiliate link up on March 31st. That was definitely cutting it close and obviously wasn’t going to make us money.

 

April Goals 

  • Post on our blog every Tuesday and Friday!
    • Until we nail this goal it is going to be at the very top!
  • Post on Pinterest
    • Use a Social Media Scheduler
    • Schedule posts once a week minimum
  • Post every single day for the rest of the month on Instagram

Stat goals:

Unique Vistors: 250

WordPress followers: 25

Instagram followers: 100

Our thoughts on April’s Goals

We kept our stats goals at the very same level. While we plan to not drop our momentum with Instagram, we definitely need to change course and work on getting views on our blog! Our number one objective this month is to showcase our blog.

What is your favorite way to attract new visitors?

Naomi & Avery

New Camera

Hello everyone,

* This post does contain affiliate links. These result in no increase cost to you as a consumer, but simply a small percentage of the sale goes to us for directing you to them. We only will ever post links about items that we have used ourselves and absolutely loved!

New toys!!! Wait no, shhh do not tell Naomi that… this is supposed to be a tool of the trade… that’s right that is what we can tell her, just our little secret. Well, as the title suggests I am getting a new camera finally, after 12 years with the D40 (Naomi’s new camera). I have recently acquired a new camera which took a lot of deep contemplation and some deliberation with Naomi and myself. We needed to figure out what not only we need now but, also what we may need in the near future, and hopefully we did just that.

20170225_175615-01.jpeg

Naomi, the thief, with my D40

So just why did Naomi and I think that we needed a new camera? Well as aforementioned Naomi recently received my D40 as a hand me down camera. She started to blog and we knew we would need to take images beyond cellphone quality and it was determined that she could learn photography on my old camera. While she stole my camera I could borrow my Dad’s spare camera (his 16 year old Nikon D70). That was the plan at least, but recently the D70 camera developed a fatal flaw. It thinks there is a full compact flash memory card in it currently and well, with or without a card it says that the card is full and will no longer take pictures. Now that my stop gap camera measure failed it came down to the truth. I needed something to take pictures. We decided not to buy just any old replacement, but a shiny new camera!

With an older model being off the table, we started looking at our options. Since we already have four lenses and access to my father’s equipment we decided to stick with Nikon for simplicity. When looking at the current line up we saw the D3400, the D5600, and the D7200 as possible choices. The full frames camera, while also highly expensive, also would mean new lenses so out they were out as well.

Now as a full in depth description of each camera’s specs would be beyond the scope of this post I shall stick with the major pros of each camera and cons. The D3400 is the least expensive camera on the list. This is in its favor, however it also lacks the articulating screen and touch capabilities of the D5600. The D5600 as stated has a articulating touch screen, but is also equipped with Nikon snapbridge, rather than the wifi connection of its predecessors. Snapbridge as a program has many flaws and the new model is a fair bit more expensive than the D3400. Now we come to the D7200, a camera I would love to have just for the sheer speed increase and added features. The 7200 definitely the better camera for pictures sake but with its added size, weight, and most importantly cost it has been decided to be a future camera.

dualloaf.jpg

A new photo from my new camera

Well then, if not the D7200 we are left with the 3400 and 5600 so which will it be? Simply put neither…

Naomi and I came to the D5500, last year’s camera, with nearly identical specs as the D5600 and a much lower price tag it is the camera to fit our current needs. Now that being said the current plan is I will shoot with it for the next couple years while she learns more on my venerable D40. Then we shall pass the D5500 to Naomi and get the D7200 or an even shinier new toy… I mean camera.

With that decision made I have many more to come camera bag, new tripod for video, drone, small action camera, and hopefully a wide angle lens. However those are for another day as I must budget for my calf now. That being said if you are interested in checking out the D5500 for yourselves click the link below! Follow us on Instagram to see some of my latest photos with my new toy!

  • Avery

Nikon D5500 DX-format Digital SLR w/ 18-55mm VR II Kit (Black)

 

Making the Decision to Raise Cattle Again

nosey

This year Naomi and I are taking the opportunity to raise cattle again in collaboration with my folks. With about ten years of cattle raising experience under my belt this was not a hard decision for me. The only hurdles to overcome were convincing Naomi and finding facilities. Naomi has not been wholly isolated from the beef business, in our area more than a few farms raise cattle, and she and I first dated whilst I was still finishing (last of the fattening process) my last steers. She was only unsure of putting money towards this when we are still looking for our own accommodations.

Once Naomi and I sat down and discussed it I was able to convince her that we would be making money and not taking away from our housing goals she was in. The only thing left to do was to find facilities, decide on how many, and selling the meat.

Luckily, my parents raise a small number of steers each year and were already planning on expanding their footprint to allow more. They currently have four and were going to be buying another four this year.  Naomi and I will be allowed to board one with theirs as long as I pay feed and hay costs of the steer along with straw costs and do the chores daily as payment for the housing. All in all it’s a pretty good deal for Naomi and I.

The last hurdle with which we will need to overcome is selling the beef by the summer of 2018. My family has, for years, sold direct to consumer by the quarter. This method while a little more foot work for us it ensures a better price since, we aren’t taking what the market is paying, we choose our price and therefore make much more and the customers know right where their meat came from and can be assured it is quality.

As stated earlier I have a number of years experience raising cattle, Naomi has written about my involvement in 4-H which is where I started. After many years of 4-H and two Grand Champion Dairy Steers, when I became too old to show I ceased raising beef for the past four years. Let me tell ya I have missed it something fierce. Honestly, I can say I am extremely happy to be getting cattle once again even if it is only one to ease back in with, it just feels right.

-Avery

nosey2

Introducing Avery

First off let me thank you for reading and, simultaneously welcome you here to Homestead Sweethearts. Naomi has surely given the two of us more than sufficient introductions, but if you haven’t guessed yet I am Avery, pleasure to meet you. Now, what have you as a potential reader have to look forward to sharing with Naomi and I here? Well friend lean back, for as I write this in the waning light of the dying candle with my feather quill I am planning many adventures for us to under take with one another.

Ok… so maybe this isn’t written with a quill scratching out my thoughts by the flickering light of a tallow candle (come on of course tallow, beeswax is expensive to use for lighting) but that sounds so much more romantic does it not? So through with all of these wonderful posts you will get to enjoy that my lovely Naomi writes, you will also get to partake (or suffer through) in some of my misadventures. The list of things to come are garden prep and planning for the season to come, a project repairing an older firearm from my Grandfather, some woodworking, the actual planting of the garden, hopefully the setup of a new shop, and some forestry (chainsawing). Again welcome and thank you, from Homestead Sweethearts this is Avery hope to see you back here.

February Review & March Goals 2017


Hello everyone!

Avery and I have some goals that go right along with this blog. We plan to monetize this blog to make it a side income and work on paying off debt, like my student loans. This means we have to treat this blog right and make some goals! Today I wanted to review our first month and some things goals we have to make it better.

February Review

  • Started blog!
  • Created Instagram

  • Posted Introduction
  • Reshaped about us and contact pages

Some big things that haven’t happened yet:

  • Pinterest
  • Twitter or Facebook
  • Regular blog post schedule
  • Monetize

Stats:

Unique Vistors: 40

WordPress followers: 4

Instagram followers: 11

Our thoughts on February

Honestly, Avery and I couldn’t have been more excited to make the connections that we did. These stats may seem small to some, but it was a huge start for us. We are really happy with how people have been reacting to us and hope we can continue to refine our work!

We did have some major issues occur. I had a heavy college load and Avery had an even heavier work load this last month. During this time we have both learned that we need to treat this like the business we want and the blog we love. So that means setting some goals for ourselves to just keep improving on consistency. Lucky for me my class load lightens after spring break significantly!

I also noticed I was holding myself back by overthinking it. Reviewing pre-written posts and refining them is great, but at some point content has the hit the webpage or it is pointless. This month I’m hoping to be more confident in my posts and get them out sooner!

We have also been taking a lot of time to think about how we want to monetize. We don’t want a billion annoying ads on our page because we don’t like blogs that have that either. Currently we are leaning towards starting with affiliate marketing and maybe one or two small advertisements. This has been a big part of this month just simply reading into terms and conditions and thinking about what we want to give our audience.

March Goals 

  • Post on our blog every Tuesday and Friday!
  • Create our Pinterest page
    • Read about bloggers Pinterest strategies
  • Post on Instagram 3x a week

Stat goals:

Unique Vistors: 250

WordPress followers: 25

Instagram followers: 100

Our thoughts on March’s Goals

Stressing consistency is the number one objective this month. We are committing to post 2x a week for now with the occasional bonus posts. Everyone wants to increase their following and we are hoping by being more consistent we can!

We hope that by the end of March we will have smashed these goals. Check back in April to see how we did!

Naomi & Avery

 

Getting Back into Photography

This past weekend I was able to make the drive up to Grand Rapids to see Naomi, while up there I gave her a crash course on my camera (I suppose hers now to an extent) the D40 by Nikon. The idea behind giving Naomi a beginner DSLR like the 40 is to try and give her more options with her photo taking for the blog. While it may never be the gear that makes the photographer it can help with creating a better image than a phone ( although you can shoot some stunning photos on a camera phone). As we walked around her campus Saturday, I showed her different settings and what to do for different shots. She asked “why have you not been shooting lately?” this stopped me for a minute. At the time I gave a response along the lines of, “oh I’ve just been too busy with work” but now, on later contemplation, I realized that life can’t be an excuse for my lack of shooting. It was my fault, my inability to let life make this impression on me and for me to attempt to capture it in my vision. Now in the days following Naomi’s question I find myself looking… no I have always been looking I am seeing more over the vibrancy with which life has, the small details and the ways light plays across the landscape and features.

When leaving GR it was hard leaving my familiar little black and yellow camera bag with the “I want to drive the zamboni button” on the star there in Naomi’s apartment. I realize that although it is just gear, a 12 year old entry level DSLR, I am still attached to its familiarity. Attached to the way I knew how it would see the world and how to make its images, my images. I know in time I will grow accustomed to my new temporary camera my father was kind enough to allow me borrow (his 16 year old D70), but there will always be a soft spot in my heart for that little D40 even with all its shortcomings. It’s the artist that makes the photo, the camera is merely a tool of the trade, but it still feels like an extension of self.

Thank you for reading I hope this made sense to you. I would love to hear from any of you whom may feel the same.- Avery 
If you’re interested in some of our recent photos check us out on Instagram: homesteadsweethearts