A few months back, I was wholeheartedly burnt out. I’d written so much, so often, that I’d fundamentally run out of words. Not even that, I’d run out of the want to find words. I started writing self-directed insults in place of dish descriptions – “the pastry was perfection; as puffy as my eye bags and as flaky as my Instagram followers”.
I’d spent the last year trying to make a name for myself. Attending as many events as I could, hitting publish twice a week, interacting online whenever I had a moment and trying to schedule in time to pin, find keywords, self-promote, take photographs and send emails. It paid off in ways but I was constantly putting myself under so much pressure that I never celebrated my hard work or felt that I’d done enough. Each different ‘how to be a successful blogger’ article told me to spend thirty minutes a day engaging on each different social media platform – I knew it wasn’t possible, but it still didn’t stop me feeling insufficient.
I kept going and kept going until one day in November I just stopped. I stopped feeling inadequate. I stopped checking numbers. I stopped caring that I wasn’t picked for a #FF or a ‘blog posts of the week’. I stopped bitterly obsessing over beautifully curated grids and witty girl-next-door posts that just weren’t me. I just stopped.
It was then that I realised I was doing it wrong. I wasn’t doing it for me anymore. I was trying to keep up with an industry where to be successful you fundamentally have to be yourself.
Over the festive period I finally exhaled. I posted less, relaxed more, took photos when I wanted to rather than when I thought I ought to and remembered why I wanted to be a blogger in the first place.
This year I want to do things differently… AKA don’t burn myself out again. I feel like I’ve given blogging a good test run in the last 18 months but now it’s time to get serious. I want to grow as a blogger without trying to keep up with every Tom, Dick and InTheFrow out there and definitely without gaining another series of fine lines in the process.
So what’s my plan?
This year I want to find me. No I’m not running off to the Nepalese hills to find myself, I just want to find who I am as a blogger. I feel like I’ve written about a lot. Travel, food, hotels, London, family, traditions, reflections. It’s felt a bit like a ramble. I never listened when people said ‘find your niche’ and I still don’t think you particularly need one, but I would like to clarify my content and develop my brand. I spent last year saturated with every style of blogging, imagery, writing styles and website layouts and I think I’ve finally figured out what I want mine to be.
So 2018. Let’s do this.
1 | The Writing
I want to write more, less often. I got stuck in a preconceived idea that I had to post twice a week, most of which was hastily typed the night before. I stopped having time to find fun in the process and it became a chore, alas the writing suffered. So there’ll be no new content every Monday. Instead there will only be posts I’m proud of, have proofread and hope that you look forward to.
With that, I’ll have time to think more. About captions, tweets, descriptions… maybe even jokes *insert shock face*. I’ll have time to find my voice and learn how to use it. I want to write raw, honest pieces that are real and relatable. I want to write stories that immerse a reader in my adventures. I want to inspire you to travel. I want to make you laugh. I want to make you say ‘YAS GIRL’.
2 | The Photography
Oh photography. You tricky little bean. My struggle is not with the taking photos, nor the editing them (although I will improve both these areas with practice). It’s the uniformity. Without hesitation yet with much discontent, I have found that the most success comes in consistent sets of photos… and selfies. Note I’m talking about Instagram right here. I’m pretty ok with my blog photography but perhaps my biggest challenge is translating it to the ‘gram. Last year I didn’t give in. I posted what I wanted to, when I wanted to. Sure it was less stressful in one way, but gaining 400 followers in 12 months in fact was.
Instagram I have succumbed to your command. Despite my initial resistance, I will put down my sword and join the battle of the curated grid.
I’ll at least try.
I want to take more creative photography. Whilst keeping it real… if that’s even possible. Maybe I’ll just start with a colour…
3 | The Brand
It’s weird when you have to start calling yourself a brand. Especially when your blog is just your name because, well you never thought you’d be a brand. Despite the strange feeling, I see the importance and it’s something that I want to keep on top of. I feel a slight redesign coming on. I’d like to be more editorial and embrace the culture of the plandid selfie. Bear with me whilst I figure this out…
On the brand front I want to also develop my addiction to Instagram Stories, with more face to face action and creative content. More time = less lazy posting.
4 | The Inspiration
You can’t get better at anything without being inspired. So with that statement written down firmly in this post, I plan to continue reading, listening, talking and watching. I recently got into podcasts and I’ve already picked up some epic tips and just enjoyed laughing along to the likes of What She Said and Twin Perspectives. Alongside making time to sit, close my eyes and listen, I want to read more. More books, blogs, columns, newspapers, you name it. I want to develop my inner thesaurus and become more knowledgeable so one, I know what people are talking about, and two, so that I can refer to anything from Oprah’s speech to Oxford Street’s secret tunnel in my writing.
Lastly, I want to make time to attend events. Last year I went to the National Geographic Traveller Festival and picked up notes and notes of writing and photography tips that immediately improved my posts (You can read some here if you like). I felt so good for it afterwards and was inspired just to meet the people I aspire to be. An event this year I hope to attend is The Bloggers’ Retreat, run by the lovely ladies from Twins That Travel and The Travel Hack. They are giving away a lucky golden ticket to a Charlie of the blogger world – which actually inspired this post! – and I’m crossing every finger and toe that I’m somehow related to the Buckets. You can find out more about the event here.
5 | The Results
With all this in hand, I hope that by unearthing the true ‘Eppie the blogger’ I will see results in my engagement and page views. We all know that following size is just a number, which sure I’d love to see grow, but a highly engaged readership – now that’s the ultimate result. If you’re reading this and you are a reader or follow me on social media, drop me a comment when you like what I’m doing… or if you don’t, then I’ll know to stop doing it 😉
I would naturally also like to continue working with brands. I think I’ve done pretty alright for someone of my size and am proud to have written many quality sponsored posts and Instagram snaps. However I would like to experiment with creative ideas in this area and spend more time really challenging the goals of the campaign. I also have those dream brands that I hope to work with in the future and would really like to explore becoming an ambassador for those I truly do love and recommend on a regular basis. Skyscanner I’m looking at you babe.
Finally in this rather lengthy post (thanks for sticking it out!) its all about showing what I can bring as a professional blogger. Sure I can work a camera and write some pretty decent words but why is my little readership and content better than someone who has ten times my following? I have a few answers but I’d like to have more and the ability to physically show brands ‘hey look this is why you should work with me!’. That means actually updating my media kit, working out what works for my readers and what results I’ve already had.
What are your goals for 2018? Maybe we can inspire each other…