A Cup of Jo: The Well-Designed Life

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h1I've always noticed jumps in traffic when I've written about personal life events, like getting engaged, getting married or having a baby.

Joanna Goddard, A Cup of Jo

With a simple mission of blogging about "fashion, design, photography, bikes, & the people I love," Joanna Goddard has created a daily must-read with her blog A Cup of Jo. Born in Paris, raised in Michigan and now living in New York City with her husband and toddler son, Joanna's writing is warm and intimate, and she's got an amazing radar for cool product finds. It's an intoxicating combination.

So how did a magazine editor bootstrap one of the most popular design and style blogs? And what opportunities has it opened up for her? We checked in to find out.

You were the relationship blogger for Glamour and now you write for Conde Nast's Traveler blog. What's the arc there? Before starting my blog, I was a full-time magazine editor and writer. My very first assignment was for Cosmopolitan magazine, where my mission was to approach good-looking guys on the NYC streets and ask them questions about sex. (I had just moved to Manhattan from Michigan, and it was totally intimidating! I also learned that the cutest guys hang out in Central Park.) Since then, I've written for magazines including Budget Travel, Elle, New York Magazine, and of course Glamour. I launched Glamour's relationships blog back in 2008, and wrote multiple posts daily for two years; I loved covering everything from bad kissers to wedding rings. Now I'm keeping a toe in the magazine world by blogging for Conde Nast Traveler, where I write about design and romantic travel, including honeymoons!

How much does your magazine writing and branding work help your blogging – and how so? When I worked for magazines, my editors would constantly be asking, "Is this interesting?" "Why is this interesting?" "What exactly is interesting about it?" They taught me to focus on what makes certain things (even, say, a lipstick!) worth discussing, and what people really want to talk about. I always try to remember this while blogging, and write about what people, including myself, care about in their day-to-day lives, from lighthearted posts like best chocolate chip cookie recipe and how to do a messy side ponytail to deeper posts like worrying that you'll never meet your soulmate or breastfeeding your new baby.

What was your breakout post? Or were there several that put you on the map? Cup of Jo has grown consistently and organically since I started it in 2007. But I've always noticed jumps in traffic when I've written about personal life events, like getting engaged, getting married or having a baby. My husband jokes that our son was good for business!

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What opportunities has A Cup of Jo opened up for you that wouldn't have happened otherwise? It sounds cheesy, but I'm so grateful for the friends I've made through Cup of Jo. My readers are so important to me; I truly feel love for them. I gotten to collaborate with talented photographers and illustrators on hair tutorials and etiquette guides. And some of my very best friends are people I've met through the blog. As for work opportunities, I've been approached by editors about writing books, and producers about doing TV shows, but for now, I'm really happy and content to continue working and growing my blog.

What’s your advice for marketers looking to work with design blogs like yours? Just the basics: Write personal emails that are chatty and conversational, instead of overly sell-y. You wouldn't believe how many emails I've gotten addressed to the wrong name! And it's great to think of offbeat ways to collaborate. I love hearing fun ideas from brands about ways we can work together and brainstorming creative ways on my end, as well.

You have a great eye for finding cool things on and off the Web. What products are currently on your personal most-wanted list? My summer wish list includes mint-colored jeans and these cute Marais shoes, and I'm also really excited to get my little boy a tricycle for his second birthday! I have no idea where we'll store it in our teeny Manhattan apartment, but we'll find a way.

What other design or life blogs are your soulmates in style? Kate Arends from Wit & Delight is a real "blogger's blogger." She has exquisite taste and comes up with creative post ideas, too. And I read Smitten Kitchen religiously, even though I'm a terrible cook. Deb is my culinary idol, and her writing always makes me laugh.

What's something your readers would be surprised to learn about you? I actually went to law school for a year in my early twenties, but I missed writing for magazines, so I left after the first year. And now I'm so glad I did. :)

A Cup of Jo is a SAY Media partner. Follow Joanna on Twitter @joannagoddard and on Pinterest.

[Photo: Oh! Darling Photography]