I’m Leanna. This blog was born out of the chaos of mommin’ hard all day everyday while tackling little projects along the way! I hope you can find some easy DIY inspiration, family friendly recipes, and some other fun things to make your day while you are here.
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I get asked on a daily basis LOTS of questions regarding what its like to be a blogger… or some may say influencer. I am not sure how I feel about the word influencer…. I am just here sharing the products I love, DIY’s, lots of kids things… easy and healthy recipes… and our life in general. But, I do want to take the opportunity to sit down and answer some of the questions I get asked frequently.
This blogging life was not something I ever had imagined, it kind of just fell into place at the right time. I have worked SO incredibly hard to get to where I am now, and I am proud of this little baby of a blog that I have made over the past few years.
Let me start by giving you a background of where I came from…..
I graduated college with a degree in Finance at Penn State University. In college, I knew I loved numbers, but I wasn’t exactly sure where to go with that. I knew business would be a good place to start since I wasn’t sure what I wanted to do with the rest of my life. But I also knew I wanted earn an income, and the best way I knew how to do that was to land a good job in the business world. I graduated in 2009 and began working for a large company in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania. I was a financial analyst and worked in Financial Planning and Analysis. I think I was good at what I did…. I thought I was anyhow. I loved to organize and organizing and analyzing budgets for different departments was a good fit for me. However, I wasn’t happy. I was in Pittsburgh away from my family.. and most of my friends. I took a leap moving out of my comfort zone and was deeply wanting to move to closer to family and friends in NYC.
Around the same time I was looking to get out of Pittsburgh, I met my now husband Simon. To make a long story short, we were engaged in 10 months, then married the following year. I knew the moment I saw him that I wanted to marry him and the rest is history!
Fast forward to after two babies, two big moves across the country and we landed ourselves in Texas. Away from all our friends and family but excited for a new adventure and to establish more roots.
After my second child, Isla, I was lost in what I wanted to do. We were finally settled down, and I wanted to find a hobby to keep my mind busy and to start something that was my own. I ended up taking a small calligraphy class one day and from that started a hand lettering wood sign business on Etsy. I love to create… I love to make pretty spaces, pieces, DIY”s… and designing and hand lettering signs was the my creative outlet for a while. It was also A LOT of work! I did everything by hand, and also relied a lot on Simon to do most of the wood working.
During this time, I also started an instagram account to market my hand lettered signs (originally called, letters by leanna). While on instagram I also found that there were lots of people like me who loved home decor and DIY. We were also in the process of remodeling our home and I began to post some pictures of the progress. I posted my wood signs, along with our home and my instagram started to grow. It was around this time that the instagram world took off, when instagram didn’t have an algorithm and things were a lot easier!!!
Over the next year I decided to close down my hand lettered wood signs shop. The time it took to make the signs, plus to package them, was way more time then I had with 2 little ones at home. I still needed a creative outlet and poured it all into my home and my instagram account which I then renamed, Clare and Grace Designs (the middle names of my two daugthers). I didn’t see it as a business, I really just needed a place to escape the daily mommy duties of every day life. I love decorating, making tablescapes, and designing spaces and I wanted to share it with others who loved those things as much as I did.
At that time, social media wasn’t where it is now. It was really just beginning… and I really think the timing was everything. As my account grew, so did social media marketing. Brands began to reach out to send me products so I could take photos of it in my home. I got my first paid instagram post and then I started to really think about where I wanted my account to grow.
I started my first blog in November 2018 and had no idea what I was doing. I hired some chick off of etsy and wrote a blog post every few months.. if I remembered. I knew blogging was the direction I wanted to go in but I had NO idea how to get there. I started to do more research, talk to others I had met through instagram… and eventually I rebranded to where I am today, Life by Leanna. Clare and Grace Designs was just home decor and DIY’s and I wanted to share more of my life and my kids. I wanted to be able to share our experiences, our every day life and I wanted YOU to get to know me! I had just had Oliver a few months before and I wanted you to get to know us as a family, instead of just sharing my home.
Over the past year, I have opened up not just our home to the world, but also our family. It has had ups and downs… and I learn something new each day. I have no idea where I am headed…. I am just enjoying going a long for the ride. I am so incredibly thankful to all of you who show up for me each day. You give me another purpose… don’t get me wrong.. I LOVE being a wife and a mother… but there was another part of me that needed more. I am so glad I found my “more” and have this platform as my outlet to create and escape from the chaos of every day life.
and whoa I just started typing and did not stop!!! I wasn’t going to go into that much detail but I hope you are still here reading!!
I think the above pretty much summed up this answer. It really just fell into place. I also think it is important to mention that Instagram now is completely different from where it started. There are SO many influencers out there, all trying to do the same thing. It is very important to find your niche and your people!
Honestly, I don’t get too much criticism. I also don’t get a lot of negative comments. I try to stay away from topics that are highly controversial. I started out here trying to get an escape from every day life… and thats how I try to make it stay. If I feel strongly toward something going on in the world I will talk about it, but I try my best to choose my words carefully.
I started out by accepting free products to build my portfolio and to gain experience. I think its a great place to start to get your foot in the door. As my portfolio grew and brands saw the work that I did for other brands, they started to approach me for paid work. When I first started I also made sure to tag brands in my photos of products that I already had in hopes that they would notice me!
This is a constant battle. The summer, and COVID has been a challenge. My kids go once a week to a sitters house for half the day so I can run errands. Other than that I am on my own. I get most of my work done while Oliver takes a nap, and the girls have quiet time. Some weeks are more hectic then others with deadlines and my kids will run crazy around the house while I try to get all the things done! Most nights I am up late writing blog posts, planning content for the weeks to come and editing photos.
I usually have a rough idea of what the next week will look like. I plan around holidays, special events and collaborations first. From there I fill in the blanks with content that I hope you will like to see!
It has its ups and downs. Some weeks I feel swamped, and other weeks are slow. It is the nature of the business no matter how hard I try to plan it out. Most of my day some how will involve my business, whether its a craft we are doing at home, or a recipe I am making for dinner, I share it with the world. But that is my choice to do so. I choose to turn on the camera and share little glimpses into our life for you to enjoy! I really do love to share…. maybe too much so!
This is really such a hard one to answer. Instagram is changing daily. The BEST way to grow organically is for other accounts to share YOU and why they love to follow you. I try to share a few accounts a week that I love to follow in hopes it will help them grow too! It is all about making connections and supporting one another. I also have done giveaways… which I have a LOVE/HATE relationship with. It is really hard to grow on instagram today. It is definitely hard to grow quickly! With giveaways you can grow more quickly but you also run the risk of getting followers who only want to win, and who care less about your content. This can negatively impact your engagement and can hurt you over time. If you choose to do a giveaway, choose wisely. You want to make sure that those people entering the giveaway will also love you and what you share!!
I think it is influencer? Like I said I hate that word…… but I am not really sure what else to call it.. maybe Content Creator…. I think I like that better.
This is for you and your family to decide what you feel safe about sharing. I will never share an outdoor photo of the front of my house…. and I do get nervous about the creepers out there. But so far I haven’t had any issues.
What do you love to do? What do you feel passionate about? You really have to ask yourself some deep questions. Share what you love and love what you share. You will find your people!!!
I hope this really long post today helps answer some questions you have had. Feel free to ask more below and I will update my post with the answers. I also hope you liked getting to know more about me!
P.S. I am pretty sure this post has tons of typos.. I wrote this quickly during nap time and Oliver just woke up! Who has time to spell check anyways??