2019 Letter From the Editor

It hit me — I wanna say back around September. I’m proud to say it wasn’t because my business coach needed to sit me down and look me square in the eye to make sure I knew this, and it happily wasn’t because I heard some online guru say some pithy quote on a podcast interview. I figured it out on my own.

It was just another day of work, me with a fresh cup of coffee and my bullet journal, planning my day, when I realized: nobody would tell the editor-in-chief of Vogue that spearheading her magazine isn’t her main job. Editors of longstanding print magazines and newspapers, making sure the words they publish align with their message, are seldom (if ever) told that creating their publication isn’t real work.

And yet I’d swallowed the idea, touted for several years now by online entrepreneurial experts: running a blog shouldn’t be your main job. Since about 2014, Smart People Who Know Better have said, “Your blog [or podcast] should point people to your real work, the thing you’re selling. It shouldn’t be the end game. These things are means to an end, they’re not the end.”

They said this because it made sense. Ad revenue took a deep plummet internet-wide around 2013-14, and those of us who depended on ad partnerships as our main slice of revenue pie had to scramble fast to make numbers work. Instead of worrying about page views, They said, instead of focusing on eyeballs on as much stuff as you could publish on your blog, create something of your own that you can sell. Whip up an e-book, a course, a member site, a digital squid, however you can tap into your knowledge so you can be paid for what you do. That way, you’re no longer dependent on ad revenue.

And it worked. (It makes sense, too.) The amount of digital products created by online entrepreneurs skyrocketed. I’m one of them.

As print magazines continued (and continue) to fold, it was clear the same logic would follow digital properties. Diversifying became the name of the game. And as the fight for eyeballs-on-website grew wearier by the day, competing heavily now with Instagram accounts that have swallowed whole formerly gorgeous blogs, now remnant shadows of their former selves, the old-school model of publishing blog posts became old-fashioned.

Even those terms, “blogging” and “blog posts,” sound quaint and near-archaic in Internet years. Who does that anymore? Who reads blogs anymore with the behemoth of instagram accounts, podcasts, and YouTube channels? Blogs are akin to the well-meaning grandmas who need help using the Google (true story: just a few days ago over the holidays, my lovely grandfather asked if I was still “blobbing”).

Well, here’s the thing: You still read blogs. And I still read blogs. In fact, I dusted off my feed reader this past fall and have been reading more whip-smart blogs that I have in years. And when we surveyed you guys this past fall, you knocked me off my feet, flooring me with your answers. You not only read blogs, but you wish more were still around, you’re very weary of social media, and like me, you hope blogs make a comeback.

The editors-in-chief of Vogue, Better Homes & Gardens, Wired, and Bon Appétit all have real jobs: they’re publishers. And so, on that random work day in September, it hit me: I’m a publisher. This is a job where the end can be this thing I create — it doesn’t have to solely point to Money-Making Ventures. It can be the work itself. Of course it is.

My favorite parts of my work are writing (especially books), recording podcast conversations with people who have interesting ideas, publishing a beautiful, thoughtful blog, and interacting with people who love good things (like my patrons, and you guys). My least favorite parts are constantly opening and closing a course so it will sell well (which I still love and believe in 100%), the noise and chaos and shallow dearth of social media, and the ridiculous idea of needing to be constantly relevant.

Sure, lots of magazines have folded in the last ten years. Plenty of blogs have closed up shop in favor of a social media account. But there are still great magazines hitting bookstore shelves every month, and new ones launching. And there are lovely blog gems, still shining with every new thing they publish.

I rediscovered a love for blogging last fall, and I hankered to spit-shine AoS back to a place that represents me well. However, I’d already committed to our editorial calendar through the end of the year, and with all the people involved, it didn’t feel right (nor restful) to change it. So, I circled the first week of January 2019 as the target for unveiling a revamped space.

A Few Changes

For sanity’s sake, I’m scaling back Simple, the podcast, to weekly again. I loved doing twice-weekly shows… for awhile. And then I started feeling like that’s all I was telling you about on social media or in my weekly email, and if you’re like me, you’ve already got plenty of podcast episodes in your queue. I’m back to fewer but better.

We’re trying out new blog posts on Mondays and Wednesdays, and a new podcast episode on Fridays. My writers are now my co-hosts for each episode; we’ll expand on or talk about a side topic related to whatever we published that week, making the blog and podcast play seamlessly together (something I’ve wanted for a long time). In fact, here’s the episode related to this post!

Because episodes are weekly, each one will be slightly longer, with a third segment rotating between some of your beloved voices you’ve heard on the show for years, answering your travel questions or deep-diving about the liturgical calendar for that month, as well as monthly Women’s Work features. It’s gonna be GOOD.

Oh, and we’ll do our best to transcribe each episode, for those of you who still prefer reading to listening.

A Word About Social Media

I don’t hate it. It’s just not where I want to focus most of my creative energy, and I think it’s contributed a great deal to our culture’s shortened attention spans, incessant arguing without listening, and preference for sound bites over substance.

It’s not always good for me personally, either; I find I need regular breaks from it to keep my sanity. I’m pretty much completely off Facebook (and have been for over a year now), I check in on Twitter several times a week because I actually enjoy some chatter there, but I don’t sweat strategizing anything and I log off the second it bothers me.

I have a more complicated relationship with Instagram — I both love and hate it. It can be a beautifully simple place, and it can eat me up inside. Anytime I start sweating the numbers, I have to remind myself: I don’t care about being Instafamous. My job description isn’t Instagram Influencer, nor do I want it to be.

I’m a writer, first and foremost. I’m a publisher second. I believe, long-term, that it’s a smart move to focus on my own internet home (blog, podcast), and not my rental properties owned by massive companies (my social media accounts). All the smart people I admire do the same, so I think it’s good to follow suit.

We’ll still send out a link on Facebook to anything new we publish, for our readers who want to find us there (and to whom Facebook miraculously bothers to show). I’ll still tweet new stuff on Twitter when it makes sense. And we’re even dusting off the Art of Simple Instagram account, where we’ll link to new posts and episodes (so yeah, I don’t flat-out hate it there).

But these are all vehicles to help bring you to my home; they’re not my home. I don’t own them, so it’d be silly for me to treat them as such.

Our Team

We’re scaling back to fewer voices, and publishing them more often (our writing and podcasting team is small but mighty). You’ll meet them over the coming few months as they share things like a Day in their Life, what they wear for different occasions (date nights, lounging at home), and of course, their Good Lists. And, you’ll hear them on the podcast! I think you’ll love them.

I’m back to writing weekly, and I can’t wait — I’ve missed it, after over a year away from regular blogging. Oddly enough, it helps me get more book writing done, too. And that’s my focus for the year, finishing my novel.

In Conclusion

Less, but better — that’s the theme of AoS this year. As our podcast episodes and blog posts intersect with each other, we’ll focus on fewer topics but with a deeper richness. And, we’re treating this space like the beauty it is, giving it the attention it deserves. I’ve loved my twelve years of hitting publish here, and I don’t plan on stopping soon.

Thank you, dear readers and listeners, for making this space what it is — I wouldn’t have this job without you. And it is, indeed, a job to be a writer and publisher. These are things I truly love doing.

xo, Tsh

p.s. Don’t forget to listen to this week’s podcast episode about change — both changes here on the blog, and also handling change in life overall.

• Listen to the podcast episode about this post

Reading Time:

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60 Comments

  1. Liz Schwab

    Good for you for figuring out what matters to you and going for it. Looking forward to the changes.

  2. Seana Turner

    So smart to be always tweaking and adjusting to be better. I’ve also struggled with the “blog pointing to my real work” thing. I enjoy the symbiotic relationship between the two, but it can feel like a lot. Especially with Social Media thrown in. My January “Get Organized” project has been a bit simpler this year. Last year I ran a video series on organizing things most people have. I loved it, but it was a lot of work. Excited about this year’s “Month of Motivation”… a simple image and a few sentences each day to keep you going on whatever plans you have made. Love to have you stop by and give feedback. Love your blog:)

  3. Kelly

    I laughed at “digital squid” and “blobbing,” Thanks for that. You do great work and inspire those around you. ?

    • Tsh Oxenreider

      Thanks, Kelly!

  4. Sarah

    Great news! This is one of the first blogs I read, 9 years ago, and it quickly became a favorite. I’m a fan of the podcast as well, but I look forward to reading your posts again!

  5. Abigail

    Thanks for keeping your blogposts going…I for one, have not embraced twitter or Instagram or, if there are any other platforms, I have not embraced them either. I will say that I love blogs and bloggers and I love being able to read and leisurely digest information from this format. Granted, I am a person who has the pleasure of being able to stay at home and live my life, but, even if I was working I don’t think I would twitter or tweet or Instagram, it is too fast too impermanent and too impersonal, I don’t want a mere glimpse of reality, I want to be able to savour it.
    So, now I have gone on and blathered a bit, when the essence of the message is thanks for blogging and for sharing your very interesting point of view and your knowledge. I hope to see you on my blog feed for a long time to come.

  6. Holly D

    I love the thought of integrating the blog and podcast. I look forward to more deep dives across mediums. It seems to me that I’ve heard a number of online deciding to focus on a variation of “Less but Better” this year. I am all for that shift.

    • Tsh Oxenreider

      I’m glad you think so, Holly!

  7. Allison

    Thanks for focusing on the blog! I miss reading more of them. Question — what blog reader do you use? I’ve transitioned to a laptop now, but haven’t used a feed reader in ages since my favorite folded. But I know there are blogs still out there — I get the e-mails, but it’s overwhelming! Thanks again — your content is always inspiring! Maybe I’ll dust off my old blog, too. Just for fun.

    • Lisa Zahn

      I use Feedly on both laptop and iPad, and it works great.

  8. Shawn

    Good stuff, Tsh. I’m thinking through a lot of similar things, so it’s good to hear what you have in mind. Happy New Year!

    • Tsh Oxenreider

      Happy new year to you as well, Shawn! Grateful to call you friend.

  9. Greg

    Thank you! I like the changes that you are making. I missed your blogs on AoS and am glad that they are returning. I enjoy your Simple podcast, and look forward to your move to Fridays. Most of my podcasts drop on Monday or Tuesday. Now, my weekend can start early with positive spins from your Simple podcast and Meg’s Sorta Awesome podcast during my commute. Plus, I now have something to write in the new gratitude journal that I received for Christmas. Win-win.

    • Tsh Oxenreider

      That was one of my thoughts! So many pods drop on Tuesdays, largely because “They” say it’s the best day of the week to release them. But when everybody starts doing that, does it stop becoming the best day of the week? ?Regardless, I like the thought of a happy start to the weekend!

  10. Kathleen

    I love that you’re always so transparent about how you evolve your business. And I’ve always read your blog as it has changed over the years. Looking forward to seeing these new changes in 2019!

    • Tsh Oxenreider

      Thanks! I wish others were transparent, so I guess I’m just doing what I’d love others to do. ?

  11. Anastasia

    Dear Tsh, I love your words. They flow so beautifully, artfully, not necessary simply though:). Just got your book “At Home in The World”, which I hope will give me that final push of confidence as we are preparing for a family gap year with four little kids. I enjoyed “The Notes From The Blue Bike” so much.
    So, as you can see, I have found you and your voice because of your books, not social media. And your books have inspired me, mothered me, and encouraged me. But your blog is a gem too. Your tagline “Live well and ignore the rest” is my New Year’s Resolution!

    • Tsh Oxenreider

      It always makes me so happy when people find me first through my books!

  12. Rebecca

    Always love your honesty. It’s interesting to see behind the scenes a bit. 🙂

  13. Michelle

    Love this! I’m not into youtube channels or podcasts or videos because I love reading. It took me a while to jump into the internet side of reading, because I also don’t really like the internet (I swear I’m not 90), but I’m here and I don’t want it to disappear into a Kardashian world of ‘look at me’ on social media. Substance never goes out of style.

    • Tsh Oxenreider

      I swear I’m not 90 ? …I say things like this more and more often.

  14. Donna

    Amen! I look forward to my daily blog reading (through Feedly) and what always trumps everything else is sincerity. I’m not interested in fans or followers – but I am always grateful for readers and friends. The conversation here is worthwhile.

    • Tsh Oxenreider

      “what always trumps everything else is sincerity” …that’s a beautiful way to put it, Donna!

  15. Kathy Morgan

    I akin great blogs to the deliciousness of receiving a real, hand-written letter in the mail. Pour myself a cup of coffee and savor

  16. Lisa Zahn

    I love all of this, and am in total agreement that blogs are better. I’m moving away from social media reading and I still love the longer, slower format of blogs. I’m definitely one of those survey respondents who wanted more blog, less social media. So thank you for listening and responding! I look forward to more great content from you in 2019.

  17. Jacey

    Tsh, I admire your willingness to make adjustments and continuously ask yourself what’s working (and what isn’t). I’ve learned a lot from your approach to writing and life over the years, and have benefitted from the changes you’ve made as a reader/listener!

    • Tsh Oxenreider

      Thanks for your kind encouragement here, Jacey!

  18. Linda Sand

    Yay! More blogs. Podcast transcripts. You made this old lady reader’s day!

  19. Amy Rogers Hays

    Yay! This all makes me so happy!

  20. Alissa

    I LOVE that you’re integrating the blog and the podcast. That seems like a way to deepen the conversation, AND invite more interaction through the blog comments. Plus, we all need to spend more time thinking about the ideas we’re reading and listening to…. not just constantly consuming new, new, new.

    And… I appreciate the FB and Insta posts about new blog posts. I don’t have a feed reader I love, but I like having the emails or social media click through options. Cheers to new things (or a return to prior things) in 2019!

  21. Leanne

    Love it. I LOVE the idea of the blog and podcast meshing content so beautifully. I can’t wait for more deep dives into topics. Thanks!

  22. Sheila DelCharco

    I, too, found you through your books and podcast. So when I came over to your blog and saw that it wasn’t your voice, I kinda ignored it. Occasionally, I’ll read a post or two from your 5 quick things but I like *your* voice. I look forward to hearing what you have to say in blog form in the upcoming year. I recommend your podcast to many. I look forward to recommending your blog as well.

    • Tsh Oxenreider

      Thanks, Sheila! I appreciate it. xoxo

  23. Kate

    I love the way you think, Tsh. I love that you have no problem to keep changing things with how you see fit. Just wondering if you think your break from blogging actually incited your fresh perspective for it?

    • Tsh Oxenreider

      It did! 100% and absolutely. I needed that space away to realize that not only do I miss it, it’s also a thing I’m good at. I’m glad for how it’s all gone down.

  24. Jlynn

    Another blog I follow used this analogy. Instagram is like meeting a friend in a coffee shop, while a blog is like being invited into a friends home.. I guess that Is why I prefer blogs. I oculi Instagram, but don’t do podcasts or Twitter. Needless to say I am thrilled about your blog revival.

    * instagram versus blog analogy courtesy of. Down—to—earth @blogspot.com

    • Tsh Oxenreider

      I’ve actually mentioned something similar here, too! 🙂 In this post, I say, “Reading a blog feels like visiting in someone’s living room over coffee or dinner. Scrolling a social media feed feels like walking through a crowded open-air marketplace with vendors shouting their wares.”

      So yes to the coffee shop vs. home analogy. 🙂

  25. Carol Sanders-Reed

    A comment for your podcast.. Does your intern Ginny have a last name? It seems disrespectful to me and trivializing (is that a word) to give her credit.. and my intern Ginny when all your other credits have their full names – just my 2 cents.

    • Tsh Oxenreider

      It’s my dog, Ginny! So it’s been a long-running joke. 🙂

      (That said… If it were an actual person, I’d share her last name if she wanted, but also withhold it if she didn’t. I don’t find it disrespectful if a person would rather hold some anonymity.)

  26. Kristen

    Thank you for sharing your work with us! I hope we will still hear from your current cohosts on occasion!

    • Tsh Oxenreider

      You absolutely will! You’ll find out more in tomorrow’s episode, in fact. 😉

  27. Megan Schell

    As I stare at my baby blog with one post wondering how to funnel, monetize, create content, I am set free by your thoughts here! I want to use the little voice God put in me authentically and stop trying to make it profitable in a scheme. Some marketing thoughts are necessary, but I was stuck in the tangles of it. Thanks for shifting gears. It feels like a big YES in my heart!

    • Tsh Oxenreider

      I get this, Megan! Thank you for sharing.

  28. Rebekah

    I LOVE THIS. AMEN. THANK YOU FOR BEING WHO YOU UNIQUELY ARE AND NOT JUST FOLLOWING THE TREND. I have done Like Your Life and have passed it on to many others. Thank you for helping me find my purpose and for living yours.

  29. Marlaine Lerz

    I appreciate and look forward to your blog and podcasts! Excited that you will continue. Happy and Healthy and inspiring 2019?

  30. Jessie Clemence

    Amen to all these things. We’re right here with you!

  31. Lucy

    Yay to authenticity and not just following the herd……Your posts and podcasts are truly a breath of fresh air and are eagerly awaited to enjoy in my (limited) downtime, I so look forward to listening in on a Friday whilst bossing my chores before getting down to work for the day. Happy New Year!
    PS. I’m SO planning an a Epiphany celebration to surprise kiddos with this year inspired by your liturgical calendar episodes. Ripple effect right there…

    • Tsh Oxenreider

      Well, I just love that! Thanks for sharing, Lucy.

  32. KC

    Transcripts!!! I am so excited about that! Thank you!

    Q: Where will the transcripts live? (and, ideally, how can I find which podcast episodes have transcripts?)

    • Tsh Oxenreider

      They’ll simply be linked in the episode’s show notes! And hopefully all episodes moving forward will have transcripts — if an episode doesn’t, we just weren’t able to get to it that week. If it’s got a transcript, it’ll be in the show notes.

  33. Rachel Nordgren

    I just respect the heck out of you, Tsh.

  34. Brooke Wagen

    It’s going to be a good year. Thanks, Tsh. Looking forward to reading.

  35. Tiffany Rivard

    Your writing is always so timely for me, and balm to my soul!

  36. Lisa

    Blobbing is hard. I’m so glad you do it and are coming back with such hope and wit. You are just lovely!

  37. Julia Graham

    I just love how you continually assess and evaluate what is meaningful and matters most to you.. and in turn, creates such intentional and thoughtful content for all of us. I am truly grateful you are sharing your gifts, so that we can all learn and grow.

  38. Cyndi

    Less is more! Good for you. Love your work and look forward to what you have planned.

  39. Alie

    I love this and that the theme of the blog is integrated even into how this blog is created and scheduled. Blogs are still my favorite, and I like the simpler podcast schedule . . . AND very excited for the continuing podcast segment on travel 🙂

  40. Kayla Pins

    I feel the same way about blogs and I’m so happy that yours will have more to read more often.

  41. Nicole

    Such good food for thought here– especially the concept of space we own, versus space we don’t (i.e. social media). I am loving the thought process of contemplating “less but better,” as I’m reading Essentialism, and you’ve always been a mentor for me in that philosophy. And I’m so honored (as always) to be still contributing here.

  42. Stacy

    My phrase for the year is “More with less” which is similar to “Less but better” love it. Way to follow the way you need to go and not those smart people. ?

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