Introducing My Husband Michael, the New Tea Blogger In Town

A few months ago I decided to try giving one of those “heartfelt” gifts that are all the rage for Valentine’s Day for my husband Michael. My goal was to take his overflowing passion for tea and create his very own tea blog so he could dive into helping others make the perfect brew.  Hence my man Michael became Man With a Mug. This is him in illustrated form:


Man With a Mug

Michael Hemling, Certified Tea Specialist, is Man With a Mug


So, though I’ve been making websites since the 90’s, teaching web design and multimedia to university students since 2000, and now also teach to over 20K online students in over 159 countries since 2014, it was my newbie blogger husband who taught me a thing or two about the online landscape, blogging, and social media marketing.

I must say that it certainly helps that he LOVED my gift (better than any bottle of wine, tie, or gadget I could have gone and bought him) and he went right to work making lots of great tea-related blog posts. In fact, if you are wondering why I haven’t posted as often to my own blog… well, now you know who to blame. I’ve been helping Michael edit posts and set up his site. Frankly his weekly posts are making my own blog look a bit bad. (Sorry! I’ll also blame my upcoming move to Myanmar in a few weeks. It’s a tad distracting.)

I also made him a Facebook page and got his Twitter account rolling. I’m not sure if I should be proud or horrified that in just a few months’ time he has almost as many Twitter followers as I do!

So in an extremely simplified nutshell, here are some of the nuggets of wisdom I’ve gleaned (or retaken note of) from my newbie blogger/tea guru husband, Man With a Mug:

Lesson #1: Content is Always King and Love Conquers All

You know… I already knew this. I teach this. But it still was powerful to see it in action from the beginning and to see people responding over time. When the blog was first set up the first thing it needed was…  good, high-quality content.

So Michael wrote article after article with wild abandon and extreme enthusiasm. Yes, you won’t get far as a blogger if you are not loving what you are writing about. Check. However the content can’t just be about any old thing. It has to have a specific audience in mind. Which brings us to:

Lesson #2: Know Your Audience and Create Content That Will Help Them

I think Michael is so much luckier than I am. His blog is a niche blog with an extremely passionate, dedicated target audience of tea-lovers. I always envied the people who could channel their energies and passions in such a focused way. (My website has three different things right in the title: artist, educator, author. It could have been 1,000 things so I’m actually happy I narrowed what my site is about to just three words.)


man with a mug


Anyway, Michael’s goal first and foremost was just to share what he knows about tea with people. But thanks to all his social media efforts (I’ll get to those in a moment) he has been able to find where his audience hangs out and direct them back over to his blog.

And thanks to his social media channels that he engages with daily, they bring a steady stream of tea-lovers over to read his articles.


Lesson #3: Know Thy Blog and Make Sure Your Images and Layout Support Your Message

I had a grand vision for how I wanted his website to look from the beginning but I was running out of time before Valentine’s Day. I went with a dark/clean free WordPress theme (called Suits) and pardon the pun, but it really did suit Michael.icon

Just recently I was able to confirm from him what exactly he wanted to DO with his blog. (He wants to teach people about tea, answer questions, and be a friendly resource.) In the end we also threw out a bunch of adjectives and focused on how we wanted someone to FEEL when they came to his site. (Inspired, refreshed, comfortable, safe, informed…)

The recent illustrated logo was my first attempt to make him appear friendly, knowledgeable, and passionate about tea. It also serves as his app and URL icon and I chose a bright yellow/orange background so it would stand out and grab attention, especially against his blue shirt, the color for conveying trust and accountability. (I’m a huge color geek and am happy to share some of my color secrets with you for boosting your influence online and offline.)

Later I aim to make him a new image header that will better communicate in images and a few words what makes his blog different.

Lesson #4: If You Build It and They Don’t Come, Just Go Chat On Social Media Instead

I won’t lie. There is still much work to be done. His blog is actually too young to be listed in the big tea blog indexes. Time will heal all and there’s nothing to be done other than keep creating great content. We recently were gifted the top tea-related keywords from one of my SEO friends on Facebook recently. So also on the TO-DO list are keyword optimization, more SEO optimization, and other general website improvements.

Michael took my online course WordPress Optimization Challenge: Easy Ways to Boost Reach and became slightly obsessed with making his site lean, mean, and performing well with one of my favorite free online tools, The Website Grader.

But then he also dived into learning everything he could about social media as well. I personally suggest that people don’t try to be a powerhouse on every single social media channel, but stick to a few that feel right to you. I mainly am a Facebook kind of woman. Michael is primarily a Twitter-head. -And he grew his Twitter following from under 100 followers to close to 3,000 in just a few months with about 100 new followers a day now!




I was the one who taught him about using Buffer or Hootsuite to schedule posts across a variety of social media channels. But he was the one who taught me that by using Round Team and the amazing Social Quant you can automate some of the drudgery that comes with managing a social media account and grow your followers into super-targeted, and ENGAGED followers. Just the kind of followers you want to have visiting your blog!

So that’s all for now. It just goes to show you that you can learn a lot from an enthusiastic newbie. Then again, I’m constantly learning new things each day, sometimes from very unlikely teachers.

I wish him and YOU the very best on your blogging journey. I’ll end with two of my favorite quotes.

“You cannot improve one thing by 1000% but you can improve 1000 little things by 1%.” — Jan Carlzon