Liz 2

Who:Liz Stanley
What: Evolution of Say Yes, Industry Shifts, Embracing Change
Where: Bon Marché, San Francisco
Occupation: Founder and Editor in Chief of Say Yes

Liz is a born and raised New Yorker, now living in San Francisco. Her award-winning lifestyle blog celebrates stylish and crafty living with attainable fashion tips, easy recipe ideas and kid-friendly crafts. Liz and the Say Yes team have been featured in the Huffington Post, Real Simple Magazine, San Francisco Chronicle, Parents Magazine, HGTV and Martha Stewart. She gave us the scoop on her incredible career and her plans for the future and we're thrilled to share her story with you!

Q: What was it like when you started out? Did you have a vision for where you'd be today?
Totally not! My two sister-in-laws had started blogs and it sounded like fun. A nice creative outlet from my non-creative day job as a high school guidance counselor. Back then no one was treating their blog as a business because no one was selling advertising yet, so it was truly just a creative outlet documenting our lives as newlyweds living right outside Manhattan.

Q: When did you feel like your blog really took off? Was there any kind of catalyst?
After my son was born (8 years ago), I noticed that other bloggers were starting to put up buttons and sell advertising. It was then I realized that if I really buckled down and treated it like a business, I might just make something legitimate of my own site. I started to focus on my photography, since that seemed to be a real distinguishing factor between mediocre and professional looking blogs. It was good timing, because a couple years later Pinterest became the hot social media platform where good photography was everything and it started driving a lot of quality traffic to my site.

Q: What's different between the ways you worked then versus the way you work now?
A lot has changed. I actually still work from home, so that's not different, but I have a team of people that help with all sorts of things from crafting and modeling, to brand partnerships, idea brainstorming, and editorial management. I also have a full-time nanny. It's been an ever evolving process to find the right mix of skills to support the content I'm producing but I feel lucky to have the great crew I have right now. Confession: When my team members aren't working with me out of my studio at home, I can still be found editing photos or answering emails in my pajamas, in bed (and sometimes I accidentally doze off there for a minute or two after lunch)

Full Size Render 2

Liz Stanley for Gold Peak Tea

Q: What's the one thing you're still working to improve?
So many things! Despite having a team of people that help, I still feel like I'm wearing a million hats and trying to balance way too many skills at once (especially with baby #3 coming in two months!). I'd love to be able to focus SOLEY on content creation and not have to deal with all the other stuff that comes with it like contracts, bookkeeping, technical stuff. Despite trying to hire a lot out, it still feels like a lot rests on my shoulders. I just need to delegate better!

Q: In your opinion, what has been the most notable industry change since you started your blogging career? What's been the most challenging?
Pinterest changed everything about 5 years ago which really propelled me to a place where this blog became my full-time job. With Instagram we're in a new wave of change, but so far it doesn't seem like such a departure from the Pinterest wave. Images are still KING and helpful, snack-size content is even more appealing. It feels like the next logical step from Pinterest and a natural progression.

What's been the most challenging has been trying to keep up with everything changing so fast and deciding quickly what new hot social media platform to jump on. The cat's out of the bag: a lot of people are making a good income from blogging and every day there are new, talented people with loads of resources, experience and money behind them starting very professional looking sites. Some days that fact alone can be pretty daunting, but a huge reason why you need to constantly morph, grow a support network in your community, and embrace change with the tides.

Q: How have you embraced change (industry or personal) over the years to work for you and not against you?
I definitely feel like I've tried to do that. It's the only way to keep up in this fast-paced advertising industry. I think readers expect change, too. If I'm having another baby, readers expect me to post more about baby stuff and less about fashion. It's natural and expected for the blog to reflect not only a changing industry but a changing personal life.

Q: What's next for Say Yes? Do you have a clear idea of how you want your brand to expand in 2016 and beyond?
I would love to continue to grow my team and focus my energy more and more on the part of this job I love the most: quality content creation. With the industry changing so quickly though, it's hard to see what that might look like but I love the adventure it has taken me on so far! I love my job and feel lucky to be able to do something so creative and inspiring every day!

Coffee with Collaborators is an interview series featuring the incredibly talented, creative voices in our community. Interested in having coffee? Email us.