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Q: When did you begin blogging?
Q: What advice can you share with bloggers just getting started?
As a blogger, I continue to learn and discover new and better ways of sharing content readers want to read, but the top three pieces of advice that have helped me along my journey: (1) post consistently (whether it’s weekly or daily), (2) choose a niche that isn’t too narrow, and (3) allow your readers to get to know you, but still keep your personal life private.
Q: How many readers stop by daily/monthly?
TSLL blog is viewed more than 250,000 times a month and has more than 18,000 newsletter subscribers. The Simple Sophisticate podcast has been downloaded more than 5 million times since September 2014. (All numbers reported as of June 2021.).
Q: Who is the artist behind all of the illustrations found on the blog?
Many readers have asked about the illustrations found on The Simply Luxurious Life. I am fortunate enough to work with two talented artists. In 2011 I began working Inslee Fariss. Inslee created the woman with the flower basket and pup that stands on the top of the blog in the header as well as the original landscape illustration of Provence that appears for French Week and the daffodils, basket and wellies for British Week. Inslee’s work appears in TSLL’s first and second book as well.
In 2021 I began working with American expat living in Austria with her family Sarah Löecker. Sarah’s talents appear in TSLL’s 3rd book – The Road to Le Papillon: Daily Meditations on True Contentment as well as all of the illustrations found on TSLL’s new blog design (sunflowers, the new podcast illustration – gramophone & champagne coupe, croissants, French market basket, umbrella-English garden-teapot and cozy, copper pots).
~All illustrations found here on The Simply Luxurious Life have been commissioned exclusively for the blog. Please do not use without permission.
Q: How frequently do you blog?
Beginning during the summer of 2020, I began sharing three posts regularly each week (reduced from my five-day posts a week for ten years). Below is a list of what to expect when you stop by:
Mondays – Each week begins with a Motivational post to kick-off the new week well, full of inspiration, ideas, tips and from time to time interviews with inspiring people who have a similar approach to life. Beginning in 2023, one Monday a month is reserved for the regular Garden post sharing Tasks & Contemplations I am tending to and considering in my own garden, sharing photos of my cottage garden/potager with TOP Tier Members as it matures and cycles through the seasons.
Wednesdays – The Simple Sophisticate podcast (readable version as well) offers a new episode twice a month on the 1st and 3rd Wednesday each year with a new season beginning each September and concluding with French Week in August. The show premiered in 2014, earning the #4 ranking on the list of New & Noteworthy.
On the 2nd Wednesday, the monthly Ponderings post share any number of thoughts dancing about my mind from serious to light-hearted, a post more intimate than others, so it is exclusively for TOP Tier Members, and if there is an extra Wednesday it will be focused on one of the following categories —French-Inspired, British-Inspired, Contentment, Recipes, Style Inspiration, Décor Inspiration, Gardening, Money, Health or Beauty
• The Last Wednesday of each month (exclusive TOP Tier Member content): What Made Me Smile This Month, So Far . . .
Fridays – EVERY Friday, This & That (the latest and noteworthy books, music, films, sales, articles, etc) – view archives here;
The free Weekly Newsletter – delivered each Friday to subscribers’ inboxes sharing a round-up of all of the posts shared on the blog during the week, concluding with the most recent This & That (learn more and how to sign up here)
Monthly – On the first of each month, the video series A Cuppa Moments w/Shannon is posted on the blog for TOP Tier Members. Learn more about becoming a paying Member here.
• Ad-Free – enjoy the entire blog ad-free
• Unlimited viewing – enjoy reading as much TSLL content as you want
• Access to exclusive content (tours of TSLL’s Home, Saturday Ponderings . . . posts and What Made Me Smile posts as well as exclusive access to enter all giveaways (including during the annual French and British Weeks)
On the last day of each month, the free Monthly Newsletter is delivered to subscribers’ inboxes including an exclusive letter of motivation from the editor (Shannon), plus all of the posts shared on the blog throughout the entire month. News and information on upcoming events, sales and releases are also shared in this newsletter. (Learn more and sign up for free here.)
Each September and October – A new season of The Simply Luxurious Kitchen, TSLL’s cooking show
Annually, on March 1st and September 1st – TSLL’s Spring and Fall, respectively, Shopping Guide is posted to help readers navigate the new trends and collections.
Q: How do I access all of your content? What does becoming a Member of TSLL Community mean, what are the benefits and how much does it cost?
Beginning in October 2020, TSLL created a more tailored, personal and engaging experience.
What prompted the change? Be sure to read this detailed post.
What are the TSLL Membership options and how many tiers are there? Read this detailed post about how to become a Member, each of the Tiers, Membership options, and discover which payment schedule best fits your budget.
If you have just become a TOP or BASIC Tier Member, view this detailed FAQ page to answer any of the questions you might about logging in and enjoying all of the benefits each time you visit TSLL blog.
Q: Love the music on the podcast. Where can I buy it?
The music on Monday’s episode and the primary music for the entire podcast, The Simple Sophisticate is titled “Walking in Paris” and the music for The Simply Luxurious Kitchen cooking show is both “Walking in Paris” and included in some seasons and episodes “Dans L’été Paris (Paris during Summer). (click on the song title to be directed to the purchase page.)
Q: While you were teaching, how did you balance blogging and teaching full-time?
One of the most frequently asked questions I received while I was both teaching and blogging (for 11+ years both careers overlapped) from fellow teachers or anyone just starting out in blogging while working full-time is how did I balance it all. During the first two years I worked every day after school and on the weekends to get the blog off the ground, but I quickly realized I needed to set boundaries. So at least one, sometimes two days a week, the computer had a break, and I enjoy the exploration and relaxation that was needed to balance both careers that I loved.
As far as when did I blog – as soon as I came home after work (after taking my dogs for a walk), I would set aside enough time to write. By creating a consistent schedule for posting, I could plan my week out in advance. A few organizational tools that helped me: an editorial wall calendar (to keep my ideas organized – see here), a Moleskine journal with me at all times for ideas that pop into my head no matter where I am or what I’m doing and a true passion for living simply luxuriously. Ultimately, if you love what you are doing, you will find the time. While there is no question I was exhausted at times, I could not imagine not having the opportunity to write, share and explore. For a specific list of 13 Time Management Habits I incorporate into my life that help me immensely, I have created an episode of the podcast to share just this information in specific detail.
Q: What is the motivation behind the clothing you choose to spotlight on the blog?
All of the clothing chosen is based on my personal tastes and preferences, adhering to the premise of living simply luxuriously – quality over quantity. While I do include top designer items, I don’t expect readers to purchase the entire outfit. When styling an outfit, it is my goal to reveal how to pull items together, provide inspiration to include anything in your closet that you already have and then find that missing item that will complete the look.
While from time to time, a trend will be included, I do my best to spotlight clothing that is of high quality and that upon purchasing will last for years to come so that the shopper who is building their capsule wardrobe can feel comfortable, confident and stylish as they go about their everyday routine. Some of the clothing spotlighted on the blog is associated with affiliate links. If a post is sponsored by a brand, a disclosure footnote will be included at the end of the post.
Q: So, you were a humanities (Language Arts and Social Science) teacher? Why are
there there grammatical mistakes from time to time?
Q: Do you accept advertising?
Click here to learn more about what advertising is available on TSLL.
Q: What books and magazines do you read and/or recommend?
Have a look at my frequently updated book recommendation list, Francophile finds, and magazines. And be sure to stop by one of readers’ favorite weekly posts, This & That on Fridays to stay up-to-date on the latest releases in books, films, collections, plays, exhibits and more.
Q: Where, what and how long did you teach?
Since 2002 I taught secondary Language Arts and social sciences in five different school districts in two different states in metropolitan, suburban and rural areas. Teaching AP Language & Composition (rhetoric) for the final eleven years was the highlight of my teaching tenure. I concluded my teaching career in 2021, retiring from Bend-LaPine School District at Summit HS.
Q: How did you know it was the right decision in 2021 to step fully into blogging and retire from teaching?
My first year in the classroom as I gained my footing during graduate school coincided with the events of 9/11. In that first year, I observed how important relationships and sincerity along with trust and routine created a space for learning and open-minded consideration of new and difficult topics. Again in 2020, the pandemic brought into vivid clarity the need for sincere connections, honest and clear communication with not only others but ourselves and the power of routine and regular time to rest to strengthen well-being enabling the ability to spring spontaneously into creative endeavors. As I observed this, I knew this to be true in my personal and blogging life as well, and as TSLL had grown steadily over the past 11+ years and with the temporary shift in the teaching schedule due to the pandemic, I had the opportunity to clearly assess how I was going to continue to live well. After 20 years in the classroom, in 2021, I chose to retire. While not an easy decision, without question or hesitation, it was the right decision for me to move into a new chapter. A chapter I was grateful to have the opportunity to pursue after having the privilege to teach in public schools for twenty years. If you would like to learn more about how and why I made the decision to retire, check out episode #307 and May 2021’s A Cuppa Moments video chat or read my book The Road to Le Papillon: Daily Meditations on True Contentment.
Q: There are so many blog posts in the archives! I want to live a simply luxurious life, where do I begin???
Start here. TSLL blog and brand is full of ideas, inspiration and tips, but there is an immense amount, so I have laid out a clear and easy way to begin if you are new to the blog. The Start Here page will help you begin to understand how to live your best life and how to move forward with all that TSLL blog have to offer. For a more comprehensive, carefully organized and linear guide to living simply luxuriously, check out my books which are available in hardback, paperback, audio and ebook format wherever books are available (you can also buy signed copies directly from TSLL Shop).