You guys, I'm alive! I know I kind of fell off the face of the earth in December, but let's just say it was a much needed break. I mentally and emotionally needed to stop with social media, the blog, and my computer. Here's why...
The past year was actually really awesome for my blog. My following increased a ton and pageviews were at an all-time high! I really felt like I finally found my groove after four years in blogging, knowing exactly what type of content I wanted to share and what inspired me most. But come November, I was feeling a bit burnt out. I hit a wall of some sorts and felt like blogging and social media weren't really making me happy. In fact, they were stressing me out... a lot. When I got that feeling, I knew it was time to step back.
I had originally planned an entire month of holiday posts for December, but after my ton of gift guide posts, I decided to take a week off, and that week turned into... um... five weeks. That's how I knew it was much needed! Being offline, both from my own blog and other blogs I read was a necessary move. I also barely used social media for the month. The blogging world is so incredibly saturated these days. It's sad and disappointing sometimes. I felt like most people cared about numbers and how much money they were making. I had joined the ShopStyle member FB group, which I've now left, because it was incredibly discouraging and not the type of platform I thought it would be when I joined. Bloggers were constantly complaining about the amount of money they were making or constantly complaining about Instagram, everyone was comparing numbers and commission. People were posting pods or doing "like for like" or "follow for follow" threads. HELLO. That's literally the reason you don't have engagement or an authentic audience. I make it a point not to follow people just to get a follow back. I'm incredibly picky about who I follow and make sure I only add those creatives who inspire me and bring me joy (and of course my family/friends). That's how I keep my Instagram inspirational and fun and beautiful. Anyways, it made me very annoyed and I really got an inside look at how others use Instagram and why it's so lame these days.
Ok, I digress. Needless to say, I was not loving being online. So I took my break. And it felt good to get away from all the pressure. I took a deep look at all my social media platforms and cleaned them up, removing those who I didn't want to follow - no shame. I purged my Facebook "friends" so now I'm only connected with people I really care about. Also, I deleted the app entirely from my phone. I deleted old posts from platforms that I didn't like. I rarely used Instagram stories because I was super content just enjoying my life and all the wonderful things that happened in December without feeling a need to share it with you all. Sorry not sorry :-/. I spent time with family and friends and had a wonderful holiday. I took time off work and traveled to our condo in Florida where I finished two books, a thousand piece puzzle, stared endlessly at the ocean, slept in, and relished in my time away from work, a laptop screen, and the craze of everyday life. This blog's purpose has always been to create a place of inspiration for both you and me. A creative outlet which I can count on to take me away from the woes of everyday life and stress of my daily routine. Where I can write and create and have fun.
When I realized I was losing that feeling, I did away with the clutter. I took note of colors, photos, people, brands... anything that truly gave me that creative nudge and rebuilt this space. I stripped it down to basics, bringing back it's simplicity. I want to post only content I'm very happy with, without worrying about what everyone else is doing. I want to start back up on Instagram again without caring about likes and just focus on inspirational content. I'm blessed not to be a full time blogger. I have a career separate from this space which means I have so much freedom here, and sometimes, I need that reminder. I don't blog for money and never have. I don't have to blog if I don't want to. I can allow myself to take breaks without feeling guilty. I've done maybe three or four sponsored posts in my entire four years of blogging. I've been paid twice to share a product on Instagram since I created my profile several years ago. And to be honest, I love that.
I don't ever want to feel pressured to give into the business of blogging. I want to make sure this space is always kept as a visual journal and inspirational resource for you, where you know my content is authentic and my thoughts genuine (and my own). And no, this is not to say that others who do sponsored posts often are not authentic, but many of them run their blogs as a business. Reminding myself that this is a personal blog really helped bring me back to this space the past couple weeks and rebuild. I'm so excited for a fresh start and am happy to be having fun here again. I hope you are too! And I really hope you love the updated look and of course I hope that you too love that this space is strictly inspirational and fun, and personal. I've always felt that this sets me apart from other blogs and I hope you feel that way too! I guess I just needed to be reminded that, while my freelance work and shop (more on that later) are a business, this blog is not and I hope to never treat it as such! So here's what's new...
I've simplified the homepage with a moodboard, a new search feature in the top right corner and a simple menu button on the left. The side pop out menu has my About page (also new), my blog, and a link for signing up for my newsletter. I'll share music here often and let you know what I'm listening to when I'm working on the space/blogging, and it also has links to a few favorite things. These include my Print Shop (which will be updated soon), my Tumblr, my Spotify playlists, and a brand new Directory. I'm excited about this. I created a brand new directory of all my favorite reads and brands owned by women. I'm endlessly inspired by creative females and really wanted a space to share my favorites! I narrowed down to my big go-tos, if I listed every blog I read, it would be a list of hundreds! Brands will also be updated often and I'm definitely still working on these lists!
Lastly, the biggest change is the blog format, the blog page is now an infinite scroll of all posts in one place, with the titles and excerpts so you can easily click around. Blog posts now have a sidebar (we'll see if this lasts), with my categories for easy browsing, and a few other things. To get to previous or next blog posts, hover over the black arrows to the side of each post! I also updated my share buttons below, and you can now easily give a blog post a "like." Please please please give it a like if you love it! This is how I know you like a post and want more of that type of content - also it takes a second. I also made commenting much easier and did away with Disqus. While I loved the platform, I wanted something cleaner and easier for guest comments (most people let me know they had trouble finding the guest posting on Disqus feature).
I thought about doing away with comments so I didn't worry about how many I got on each post, but truth is, I really love your feedback and you have no idea how much I appreciate when you take the time to post a comment. Bloggers really do love it and I find it's so important to support blogs by sharing a comment, even if it's simple! I hope to be more engaged with my readers this year, bringing more conversation to posts like these and learning about you. I also always love the advice you have to share! Know that I read each and every one! So this is me shamelessly asking you, my readers, to comment more often!
Lastly, you can find all my social media in the footer below! Anyways, I can't wait to get going again with this space and would love to hear your thoughts on this post. I promise, not all of them will be this long, but I felt like I needed to be straight up with you all after my time away. Would love to know... have you felt the same pressure? What do you do to help?