The Boss Series
Name: Hailey Andresen
Business: Household Mag
Sector: Blogging & Podcasts
Founded: July 2015
Location: Brooklyn, NY to Nomad 😉
Photo Credits: Amy Frances Photography & Household Mag
^^ Excuse me while my heart explodes ^^
Oh my goodness, Hailey. You are just so authentic and adorable. If there’s one thing I’ve learned from you since I started following you it’s to just go for it! I have a million questions about your journey. You’re a mother, a wife, a full-time blogger, and you’ve got this awesome podcast with your husband, Zack, as well. Let’s talk!
Q: Where did you grow up? Take me through your very first job and where you went to school.
A: I grew up in Northern California in a small town near Lake Tahoe called Nevada City. My dad traveled a lot for work and our family ended up moving to Phoenix just before I started high school so that we were more centrally located. My very first job was when I was 15 years old. I worked under the table at a shady Italian restaurant for $5 per hour. Throughout high school I hustled. I think at one point I actually had two jobs. Anyways, I received a scholarship to attend FIDM (the Fashion Institute of Design and Merchandising) in Los Angeles as a junior and moved a month after graduating high school.
Q: Little Hailey is five years old. Tell me what she was like and who she wanted to be.
A: Love this question! Hailey at five years old was all about off-roading with my dad in our Jeep and spending time at the lake on our family’s boat. That being said, I was definitely a girly girl and I was very opinionated about my outfits. It wasn’t long until I was telling my mom that I wanted to move to New York City to become a fashion designer. Haha!
Q: Let’s talk about moving to NYC from Arizona. You were pregnant with Owen. I feel like this tells me so much about how you and Zack evaluate opportunity and risk (Hello! Now you’re traveling the world!); so walk me through your guys’ decision process to take the plunge and head to the Big Apple.
A: So regardless of Zack and I being young parents, it actually took us close to a year to get pregnant. That year was really hard on us. We both kind of felt like we were just running in place and we’re definitely people who like to move forward; so shortly before I got pregnant we decided we were not going to put our life on hold. Zack had always wanted to live in NYC and decided to start applying for jobs. He landed his interview with LinkedIn the day I found out I was pregnant and we just went for it.
Side note: Zack is a talented writer and you can connect with him on LinkedIn here 🙂
Q: Okay…. so you land in NYC. You’re pregnant and you have no immediate family around. Walk me through those emotions because you had to have had a few “moments”… right?!
A: Yes! There were quite a few moments. In Phoenix I ran restaurants, had a huge social network and essentially lived within walking distance of my parents and brother, so moving to NYC was quite the change. Luckily, I made friends in NYC rather quickly (a couple pals from Phoenix actually moved right after us), but the idea of having a baby with no family or close friends at the time was terrifying.
Q: Let’s talk about your blog, Household Mag. Initially, what sort of content did you dream you would create?
A: Initially my dream was to create content related to food and motherhood. It didn’t take long for me to really miss food after leaving the restaurant industry and I had always loved cooking, baking and photographing food. I thought why not?! Motherhood was a no-brainer to me since I was experiencing it first hand. But to be totally honest, I really didn’t think anyone would read what I was writing – I figured worst case this would provide a journal for my mom to reference.
Hahaha! Our moms are always our biggest fans, right?!
Q: Let’s talk about the lovely Amy Frances because there’s something here we all could learn about creativity and resourcefulness. Amy was a friend of yours that serendipitously ended up in NY about the same time you did, correct? At that time, she was looking to expand her portfolio for photography, so the two of you worked together in creating the visual content for Household Mag. What else can you tell us about this friendship? Did you guys keep up the other’s momentum?
A: Yes, that’s right! Amy and I both ended up moving to NYC from Phoenix within a couple months of each other. We had only briefly met before hand, but Phoenix is a small enough town that we ended up connecting (she visited the restaurant I managed) and we both spilt the beans about moving. We promised each other to grab coffee once we both had settled in and we did. We were essentially each other’s only friends in the city and we ended up spending a lot of time together. Amy and I both had a creative itch and when I pitched her the idea of wanting to start a blog she immediately hopped on board for photography (she was trying to expand her portfolio as a family and lifestyle photographer).
I think one of the major reasons our working relationship was so successful was that we were constantly checking in to make sure the partnership was mutually beneficial. If I got paid, Amy got paid. If I didn’t get paid, I would do some back end work for her photography business to make it even. We have always had each other’s best interests at heart and have pushed one another to be better. Plus, we’re great friends which has really strengthened the working relationship.
Q: What was your very first blog post about and how did you feel hitting publish and telling your friends and family about it?
A: I’m pretty sure my first post was an introduction to the site. The way I originally planned it was that I would have a month’s worth of content prepared so that first post was an outline of what you could expect throughout the month (much like an issue of a magazine). Well, that was nice for the two months it lasted and before Owen was born. My structure has shifted quite a bit since. Hah!
On Running the Business:
Q: Let’s talk about blogging as a business because not everyone thinks of it that way. There’s the content planning, execution, and feedback; there’s collaborations, market penetration, and a whole back-end administrative need. Add some more flesh here for us so that we can better understand how this works as a full-blown business.
A: It really is a lot of work, but I think it’s important to keep your playful authentic position on things too. I recently went through a “taking it way too seriously phase”. I was obsessed with the back end side of things: analytics, strategy, etc. But I don’t think that’s as essential as you might think. It’s always best to just be yourself and share what’s meaningful / inspiring to you.
When it comes to work, I create a content calendar for each month of the blog posts I want to write, podcasts we’re planning to publish, and any press; social posts are dictated from that plus what’s just happening in our day to day. When you’re working with brands there is a lot of back and forth, negotiating, invoicing and then photographing/writing and delivering content. In addition to the back-end work there’s the actual management of the social media accounts. I wrote a post about my game plan for balancing the work, and I’m really trying to stick to it. There just aren’t enough hours in my day to spend too much time on any one thing!
Q: As far as content creation, how do you stay fresh on ideas?! Your posts are always so meaty, I’m beginning to think you have a full-blown blogging roundtable in your brain.
A: Ah, you’re too sweet! My best advice for coming up with topics is to take a look at the categories you’re covering, decide how many posts you want to share monthly, and break them up evenly into those categories. I keep a notebook with my ideas and jot them down as they come up. It might be a specific feeling about motherhood, a business related problem or success, or something we’ve learned through our travels. It’s important for me to feel passionate about the topic or it’s just straight up writer’s block. Don’t force it.
Q: What are the top three systems you use to run Household Mag outside of social media?
My site is hosted on WordPress so I’m pretty familiar with that platform. I have built-in analytics for my site there which is super helpful if I’m curious as to what content is resonating. I used Iconosquare for Instagram for a long time, but recently deleted it. While those metrics can certainly be helpful I think sometimes they encourage you to obsess over things that aren’t important. It’s easy to look at my feed and see what content does the best, I don’t really need an app to tell me that. Same goes for posting times and days – after a couple years I think I have it kinda figured out (fingers crossed). But, I do love Planoly for planning posts (especially when you’re working with brands). It’s SO helpful!
Excellent responses!! It can sometimes be so difficult to distinguish between value, information, and noise. I love your answers here 🙂
Q: Blogging can be a slow bleed at first. How did you keep going in those initial slow days when your audience for Household Mag was much smaller?
A: Gosh it can be difficult in the beginning! I think it’s important to set a content calendar that’s manageable and find a way to commit to it. It can just be a post a week, but staying consistent is so important. I also find that that’s an easy way to minimize stress too. If I set the expectation that I’m going to do five posts a week then I will inevitably feel bad when I have a busier week and can’t keep up. Be realistic with yourself! Regardless of how small the blog was or big (I guess) the blog is now it has always been the most rewarding when I receive a comment or message about how what I wrote made someone feel less alone. Keep sharing relatable content and those messages will turn from one to five, from five to ten, and so on. That was and is what it’s all about for me, so it was just nice in the beginning to know that someone was reading.
Q: What sort of toolkit (skill-wise) did you have going into Household Mag?
A: Oh my gosh, does a fashion design degree count for anything? Haha. After starting Household I did work as a content manager for a digital marketing company for a bit, but I had no experience prior to starting the blog!
Q: What comes the most natural to you in running the business?
A: Developing and sharing the content is the most natural part of it all for me. I love styling photography, dabbling a bit in the actual photography too, and writing copy that will match with images so that it will really resonate. I also love connecting with my audience.
Q: What’s the most difficult for you, and how do you address it?
A: The hardest part for me is definitely the analytics and strategy. The best thing I can do when it all feels a bit too overwhelming is to take a break from it all. There’s part of it that’s obviously important when you’re working with brands, but getting too caught up in the numbers can be really damaging to your psyche (and eventually your brand); especially when it’s your life that’s on display. As much as I love it, it’s important to keep a healthy balance. I check in on this once a week and that’s it.
Q: Did you have any premature thoughts about what blogging would be like full-time? Can you tell us something that really took you aback once you jumped into Household Mag full-time?
A: Like most things it’s easy to daydream about what it will be like when you get there and as happy as I am to be doing what I’m doing, it’s still really hard work. Once I was able to fully immerse myself in the business I learned so much more about the ins and outs of how people have built their brands and followings and it’s been so eye opening. I’m being totally honest when I say that Household has grown to what it is today organically. I had no clue people were buying likes, followers, using bots to engage with their audiences and so on. I’m not even mad about it, it was just a whole side I was clueless about which I find so interesting!
Q: This is going to segue into the next section: I like to ask the women I interview about their allocation of time into their businesses; but for you especially, your life is your job. There’s definitely no “leaving the office” for you. Enlighten me… how do you unbraid life and Household Mag when you need to?
A: Oh man, this can be tricky! A couple weeks ago I felt a strong pull to make a huge shift. I wasn’t using my time the most efficiently and felt like I wasn’t giving Owen what he deserves or my business what it deserves. For me this requires splitting up the time and being strict with myself. Checking my social accounts and email only twice a day and doing the rest of the work during nap time or bed time. It helps that my husband works from home and works with me during those times too!
On Balancing Family:
Q: Brag to me about that little Owen ☺
A: Gosh, this age is just so fun right now! He’s picking up new words constantly, is hilarious and is just changing and growing up so much. He’s really becoming a little boy and less and less of a baby every day. I just want to bottle him up right now and slow time the heck down.
Q: Let’s loop in your husband. Tell me about Zack! What made you fall in love with him? 😉
A: I met and started dating Zack when I was 16! We’ve grown up together in a lot of ways and above everything else we really are best buds. Regardless of all the adult stuff we have to deal with each day – bills, work, parenting, etc. we just genuinely enjoy spending time together and have since the beginning.
Q: A little digression, but I can’t help but love your podcasts because (by design) it requires that your husband and you sit down and periodically “check in” with each other. Do you feel that as a consequence of the podcasts, your marriage is stronger?
A: Absolutely! This is the first time we’ve worked on something together creatively and it’s been so fun. The podcast is SUPER laid back and easy so it’s really just a matter of taking an hour or two every couple weeks to talk things out and reflect. We love it!
Q: What, if anything, do you want to show your son about entrepreneurship and taking chances?
A: I hope that by both mine and Zack’s actions Owen will learn that there’s not one set path you have to take in life. If he wants to work the typical 9-5 then great, but if not that’s great too. If he’s passionate about something I just always hope he goes for it. Life is too short not to take chances!
Q: It takes a village, right?! Who are your biggest supporters and how do you manage to grow that village when you move around?
A: I think Household in a lot of ways is my village. I met all my mama friends either through Instagram or the blog and while most of them I’ve never even met in person they continue to support me each and every day. That being said there’s no way I would have made it this far without my mom, my mother in law and my closest friends (all who aren’t mamas yet). We all Facetime weekly if not daily, text a ton and find our way despite the time change!
Q: In full disclosure, one of my favorite things about you is your blatant self awareness and confidence. How much time are you taking for yourself to stay this grounded and what are you doing to maintain this relationship with yourself?
A: Thank you so much for saying that! Something that really helps me stay grounded is trusting the process and knowing that someone else has most likely been there. When I started opening up through Household I learned that I wasn’t alone in so many ways and that has been one of the most beautiful gifts with this business. I also have a very patient husband who talks me through all of my realizations about myself and helps me navigate them. Running, meditating and surrounding myself with positivity is huge (this mostly comes through books and podcasts).
Q: Speaking of you-time… what’s your favorite thing to do to unwind?
My most relaxing moments are spent far away from electronic devices and outdoors. It’s crucial that this is part of my routine every day or I go a little crazy.
On advice for the creative dreamers:
Q: Your one piece of advice to someone just starting out?
“It is not the critic who counts; not the man who points out how the strong man stumbles, or where the doer of deeds could have done them better.
The credit belongs to the man who is actually in the arena, whose face is marred by dust and sweat and blood;
who strives valiantly;
who errs, who comes short again and again, because there is no effort without error and shortcoming;
but who does actually strive to do the deeds;
who knows great enthusiasms, the great devotions; who spends himself in a worthy cause;
who at the best knows in the end the triumph of high achievement, and who at the worst, if he fails, at least fails while daring greatly, so that his place shall never be with those cold and timid souls who neither know victory nor defeat.” – Theodore Roosevelt
Sigh…. if I could bottle up a bunch of mini-Haileys and disperse them so that all of you could have so much amazingness and positivity with you at all times, I would.
I can’t even find the words. This blog is just packed with wonderful, helpful, and raw content. I challenge you to listen to one of their podcasts and not completely fall in love with these two. They’re just so relatable, unscripted, and just… in love (in a completely realistic, supportive, and transparent way).
Hailey (and Zack), thank you. Thank you for giving us all a window into your journey and allowing us to walk it with you. Thank you for your authenticity. Thank you for demonstrating by example that we don’t need all of the answers before we take chances and actions. Thank you for your trust, and the level of conviction you give to your readers. Thank you for your willingness to teach.
Lastly, thank you for the opportunity to interview you. Truly, you’re just such a joy and I’m so very thankful that our respective journey’s crossed paths 🙂
All my love to your beautiful family now and always,