A year ago (well, a year and three days ago, to be exact), I pressed ‘publish’ on my very first blog post. It was a nerve-wracking moment: I’d long wanted to do something to weave together my various passions – design, travel, writing, photography – but sharing my personal view of the world on the big wide web was a daunting leap into the unknown.
Twelve months on, I want to share some thoughts on my blogging experience to date, and pass on a few tips for launching a new venture that I’ve picked up along the way. It’s a bit of a departure from my normal style of post, but I feel I need to mark the journey so far. And who knows? Maybe the following ramblings will help others with a dream they’d like to turn into a reality…
Last month I attended a brilliant blogging conference, Blogtacular, in London. It gave me the chance to meet so many inspirational people, but one speaker really stood out: Grace Bonney of Design Sponge. She talked openly and honestly about the need to embrace fear, and her session struck a chord with me. Making my blog live was terrifying. Would anyone like it? Would anyone even read it? But I’m so glad I took the plunge: blogging has certainly been challenging at times, but I’ve loved every minute and I’ve learnt so much along the way.
Do what makes you happy
Yep, I know, it sounds obvious. But life really is too short to waste time and energy on something you don’t love. And if working on a project feels like a chore rather than a pleasure, don’t be afraid to start again. The first incarnation of These Four Walls never felt quite right, and I spent ages agonising over whether to change the design before finally deciding to go for it. As soon as I did, a weight lifted from my shoulders and my passion for blogging returned.
Gather a support network
I reckon everyone needs a support network to provide advice and give honest feedback, and a few people in particular have helped me to shape These Four Walls. There’s Kirstie of Ruby & The Wolf, who started her floristry business around the same time I started blogging and who is a brilliant sounding board for ideas (I always come away from our natters feeling invigorated and clear-headed, no matter how much wine we’ve consumed!). Then there’s my friend Ben, who’s as addicted to interior design as I am and who let me loose on his lounge and dining room for my first home-tour post. And of course there’s my boyfriend, Chris, who puts up with me endlessly rearranging our house to find the best light for photography (he calls it ‘photografaffing’), and probably sees more of the back of my laptop than my face. And I know he means well when he threatens to confiscate my phone if I look at social media after 10pm…
Make time for yourself and the people you love
I recently read a beautiful, thoughtful post by one of my favourite bloggers, Emma of A Quiet Style. She talked about her desire to take a step back and spend more time with her children, and I instantly identified with her words. I’m not a mother, but I juggle blogging with volunteer work and a full-time job that involves regular travel. I’m not complaining as I choose to put myself under so much pressure, but it does mean I have to force myself to stop every now and then. I know burning the candle at both ends would only zap my creativity, and I don’t want to miss out on precious time with family and friends.
Celebrate small achievements
Some people start blogging and soon attract thousands of followers; for others, it’s a long, hard slog. Needless to say, I fell into the latter camp, and for the first few months my heart sank every time I looked at my statistics. Recently, though, I decided to stop worrying about numbers and focus on other successes – the first time someone commented on one of my posts; the first time someone shared my blog on social media; the first time I felt confident enough to hand out a business card. And to top off a great year, I’ve just found out that I’ve been nominated for an Amara Interior Blog Award – and not by a friend or family member! I’d like to say a massive thanks to whoever put me forward, and to everyone who reads These Four Walls: knowing that others appreciate this little online corner means more than you’ll ever know.
So, there you are – some thoughts which I hope might prove useful, whatever project you have in mind. As for me, I’m looking forward to growing These Four Walls and seeing where it takes me. Who knows what the next year and three days will bring…?
Photography by Abi Dare