Well Happy New Year to you! Here we are, already on the 5th day of 2016. How time flies! I thought it was probably a good time for a bit of reflection, a look back over 2015 and forwards as we move onwards into 2016.
In 2014 and 2015 I chose a word to guide me through the year. The intention was that the word would help provide me with focus and direction when I faltered and would be specifically chosen to suit the guidance I deemed that I needed for the year.
My word for 2014 was BELIEVE. I wanted to push aside self doubts and believe in myself more and in 2014 this really seemed to work for me. It was the year I graduated with my Diploma of Professional Photography. I believed I could do it and I did do it. It was also the year I closed up my first blog and launched Write of the Middle. I was on a roll!
For 2015 I chose the word TRUST. I wanted to trust that I would be where I was meant to be when I was meant to be there and that I would know what I needed to know when I needed to know it. Sadly, having the word TRUST for 2015 didn’t really help me this time. I felt overwhelmed a lot. I had some health issues. I lost focus, direction, and concentration quite often. Self doubts crept back in. I spent a lot of time focussed on the blog and barely any time focussing on my photography. This made me feel like a failure – that I couldn’t do both and do both well. I felt torn between the two, confused as to how to combine the two, and I felt frustrated that my blog wasn’t niche enough to be successful in the mainstream Aussie blogosphere.
I felt lots of self-inflicted pressure to do lots of things in order to be a successful blogger – produce a newsletter (I did do this – started with a fortnightly one and then dropped back to monthly which is much more manageable. My open rate and number of subscribers is not marvelous though!), growing email lists (haven’t put any effort into this), creating eProducts (still haven’t done this as all my time was taken up creating content to keep to my blog schedule), improving how I use social media (Pinterest, Instagram, Twitter etc), and so on! The thing is, all this pressure was stifling my creativity and it was all getting too far away from why I started doing all of this in the first place. It also wasn’t all stuff that I actually enjoy doing! I love photography and I love to write from my heart – when the words come to me and beg to be let out! I don’t like producing what might be perceived as ‘popular’ content in order to be successful, or feeling forced to write in order to keep to a regular schedule.
During 2015 I did focus a lot on the blog.
- I tried new things. I listened to podcasts. I did every free blog training thingy I could find but I also $$invested in a bit of professional development.
- In March, I went to my first ever Problogger event when they visited Brisbane for the day and then in August I went to the main ProBlogger Event (see here, here, here and here) on the Gold Coast. I wanted to learn stuff from those that are in the know and I did – I learnt lots of really good stuff! I also wanted to see if could monetize my blog and if so, how? Though I don’t aspire to earn mega bucks (that doesn’t necessarily bring happiness!), as much as I love what I do, I still do need to find a way to make a bit of a living from it or else I may have to go back to working in a job where I’m miserable and give up on the dream.
- You know what – I think I can find a way to earn a bit doing what I love to do, but not in the traditional way mainstream bloggers do, and not with my blog the way it is right now.
- I was lucky enough to finally have opportunity to do a couple of sponsored posts in the latter part of 2015 which has been great, but even if I got those regularly (note that I would only do sponsored posts that match with me and my blog), the money would still not be enough to earn much of a living from (though it would help cover the costs of running the blog) and anyway – that is not earning a living from doing what I love!
- I’ve realised that I don’t fit with any of the more popular blogging niches and I’ve discovered that the general mainstream formula for blog success is just not for me. It lacks heart and soul and I am all about heart and soul. In saying that, I’m not saying that it lacks heart and soul to those that blog that way (and probably very successfully) – it just lacks heart and soul to me if I blog that way. My blog needs to be authentically me and come from a place of curiosity and passion that excites and fulfills me or it will all just become a chore and at times during 2015 that is exactly what started to happen when I tried to blog like I thought I was supposed to.
- I discovered that too much time at the computer and on social media drains me and that I needed regular digital detox time which made keeping to a rigid schedule difficult.
- Relative to the dot point above – I discovered that I need to get outdoors and into nature much more in order to feel balanced and happy.
- Ultimately, 2015 and all that happened and was experienced during that year has all had a purpose. I have learnt what I don’t want, what is not for me, and what I do enjoy. I also have realised this:
I want to be a photographer who has a blog rather than a blogger who does some photography
Let’s take a closer look at the year that was 2015
The highlight of 2015 in relation to my blog would have to be the interview I did with Tracey Spicer – ‘Let’s Talk About Breasts‘. That was a bit of a thrill, an honour, and I was proud of that! I interviewed her over the phone and she was an absolute delight to speak with.
Let’s have a brief look at highlights and/or happenings on the blog month by month:
January – my personal highlight for January was the interview I did with my friend Monica who is also a former work colleague. She is now the Owner/Principal of Cultivate Calm Yoga studio at East Brisbane.
February – is when I wrapped up my series on the 9 Attitudes of Mindfulness and explained my thoughts on The Benefits of Mindfulness.
March – is when I did a book review on my blogging friend Leigh‘s book – ‘Without My Mum‘. I met Leigh online when the book was still in its infancy. I’m so proud of her achievements! She hasn’t stopped there though. She has now launched an online magazine called Mama Love Magazine. Go Leigh!
April – is when I started my Digital Detox series. We also left for our Tasmania trip in late April.
May – is when my Tassie Trip posts started. The majority of posts were travel related like this one and this one in Hobart, this one in Richmond, this one with my top 5 travel lessons learned, this one with a video of wombats at Cradle Mountain.
June – is when I blogged like nobody was reading.
July – is when I guest posted about ‘My Favourite Space‘ over at The Builder’s Wife. Thanks for having me Nicole! It is also the month that I started my 14 Ways to Help Rebuild Self Confidence series.
August – is the month I went to the main Problogger event on the Gold Coast and there were blog posts to follow (see links above). It is also the month where I revealed the story behind my nickname of Min.
September – is the month where I interviewed Tracey Spicer in relation to her ‘Let’s Talk About Breasts‘ documentary. It’s also the month where I opened up the blog to guest posts and many fabulous bloggers took me up on the offer – see here, here, here, here and here!
October – is where in my Taking Stock post I sadly revealed that my mother-in-law had passed away.
November – is where I shared my little tribute to Betty (my mother-in-law), along with her famous Chocolate Pudding recipe (you must try it)!
December – I revealed my royal connections of a different kind and took things a little slower on the blog while we had a beach holiday at Burleigh Heads on the Gold Coast and of course were busy with all things Christmas!
So what do I plan to do during 2016 then?
Firstly, I have decided I am not choosing a word for the year. I’m not making any new year’s resolutions either. I am just going with the flow. That’s not to say I will lack direction or that I don’t have any goals. They are there but they are flexible. It is ok if my goal posts shift! I will follow my heart. I will take steps to ensure that I don’t get overwhelmed, because when I get overwhelmed I freeze and all creativity and productivity goes out the window.
Some other general thoughts, goals & plans:
- I want to give the blog a bit of a makeover, giving it a new sleeker look.
- I’m putting one of these on my wish list for my birthday in May so that I can be more mobile and don’t always have to blog from home! I need to get out much, much more!
- I want to put much more focus back on my photography this year. I might do a bit more training, do some classes, field trips, find a mentor, learn more. Photographers are always learning!
- I want my blog to be more about photography – sharing my photography and experiences – not so much photography tutorials (though there may be some) because there are so many other blogs out there that do that and do it very well.
- I want to ease off the pressure I put on myself to blog to a rigid schedule and blog more organically – still regularly, but when the words come to me, not when I force myself to write in order to meet a scheduled timeline pressure. By doing this – I will be able to get a better balance between the blog and my photography and my posts will be more authentic.
- I want to hit the road. By hit the road I mean – I want to travel around more. I want to photograph things in little country towns. I love old stuff. I want to photograph old cottages, old sheds, barbed wire fences, cattle and sheep, hell – alpaca’s even. I want to photograph old jugs and plates and flowers and teapots and food – so yes, I also want to do more still life photography too.
- I want to create a website for my photography and start creating galleries of work. I want to add a shop to my blog and/or photography site where prints can be purchased and my images can be purchased in various other forms.
- I think Write of the Middle will continue to evolve but will eventually start to align less to the mainstream Aussie blogosphere formula and become a bit more quirky and boutique! That’s a nice way to put it I think! It means that I will get less comments and views but I will be happier, more fulfilled, more creative, more productive and hopefully eventually I will reap the rewards of following my heart and find success in my own unique way.
There is much more that I want to do, many more goals, dreams and aspirations, but that is a snapshot of where my heart is leading me right now.
What are your plans for 2016? Did you choose a word for the year? Have you got your year all planned or are you going to follow your heart and go with the flow a bit like me?
Ciao for now