I recently read my last years 2014 goals and despite the fact that that I put most of what I wrote in there into practice, after I read it again my first reaction was “Wow, you were not happy.”
To the average person reading it, it seems like a nice concise list of optimistic goals to work on for their own blog. But I knew better. And towards the end of 2014 I still felt disenchanted with my blog so much so that I started a self imposed 12 days of Christmas crafts thinking that was what I needed. To pour myself into creativity. It worked to a certain extent if only for the self realization that came after.
The thing is, as I write this I am full of uncharacteristic optimism and haven’t felt this much renewed energy for my blog in a long time. I am really happy with where I want it to go. But it took a lot of soul searching to get here.
Now let’s be honest. It’s a blog. If I truly hated doing this that much, it’s really as simple as tying up loose ends with work contracts and calling it a day. But it turns as I have long suspected, it’s not blogging I had a problem with but how I was blogging that bothered me. My friend and mentor Lynne always says in her best blogging advice, the posts the scare you – publish them.
So here goes.
I don’t want to be solely a DIY/Craft project blogger. And that’s exactly what I had pigeonholed myself into and I didn’t know how to get out.
There were so many times this last year I wanted to come on here and talk about things I loved, where we went, what we did with the house, my thoughts on blogging, my thoughts on parenting, my kids, clothing, decor, beauty products, life, thrifting, social media and so on. Sometimes I wanted to be funny. Other times I wanted to be serious. And what happened in my head instead was “But I don’t have a DIY project to post.” I fell into the trap of thinking I could only blog that one way. That my readers and people who came to visit were expecting the next fun craft. I needed something to pin otherwise it was unacceptable. And that is all I focused on.
So I smartened up and I started paying attention to some very important details.
The first, were my readers and visitors and all the lovely comments and emails you’ve left me here and throughout social media. And the one thing that kept coming up over and over could be summed up quite simply as “Your projects and crafts are cute, but I come here because I love how you write.” You mean I’ve been doing all these projects at the expense of a messy house when all you wanted was my writing?! I’m kidding. No I’m not.
The second was me checking my Google Analytics (which for those of you who don’t blog Google Analytics is a program that basically lets you monitor your blog to see your page views, where your traffic is coming from and so on). Well GA gave me a huge reality check. Turns out, out of my top 10 traffic generating posts of the year, over 50% – Fifty Percent – were not DIY’s and Crafts. What were they? Usually posts where I told a story. Like how we bought our couch in a snowstorm. That time I used IKEA’s sewing machine for the first time. My unhealthy obsession with red rain boots.
Seriously, this post – my cheat version of rainbow cake, is second highest viewed post.
I remember asking my friends about it because I looked at that post and was like “Ugly kitchen counters. Check. Horrible old watermark. Check. Badly lit photos. Check. Worlds biggest cake fail. Check.” But everyone who read it said it made them laugh, they related to it and it solved a problem on how to make the most impossible cake on the face of Pinterest. Whenever I look at the Rainbow Birthday Party I am like “Woman were you crazy?” But according to my stats I should be posting a series called “Alex learns to cook and doesn’t burn down her kitchen.”
And the most important, was my husband James who would often see me so frustrated, look at me and go “It’s your blog. Write whatever you want. Stop asking for permission to post what you want to post about.”
He’s right. Most of those posts that have done well were written in the first year I had a blog where I didn’t care what I wrote about with the intention of impressing the Pinterest crowd. I just wrote. I named my blog northstory because of that reason. To tell my STORY. And here I have barely been doing that. Crafts. DIY. Crafts. DIY. Crafts.
This is the year that changes.
I know, I know. I just heard a collective groan of “But I signed up for crafts!” Trust me, I am not about to stop making anything. I am a creative person and I genuinely enjoy making things. But like Emily Henderson said in her year in Review in Point #6 that I so resonated with, any DIY I do, that James and I do, has to be a project that we should make because we want to or need to, not because we feel we have to make. Like the filing cabinet desk or the mirror. Or even something out of a true creative love like the upcycled planter.
But I am going to stop feeling guilty if I buy something and share it in a decor post in our house instead of DIY’ing it. In fact I am not the only one who has noticed that while DIY is great it isn’t always the be all end all of. Holly from Decor8 wrote a great reply (comment # 74) in this post in her blogging series, about how for some reason as bloggers we all fell into the trap of having to make something in order to blog. And even DIY design mavens A Beautiful Mess recently did a reader survey where they learned the a huge part of their readers never made a project or recipe that was shown on their site. I personally feel there is a shift happening with DIY, I just can’t sort it out yet.
Now please note that I am only speaking for myself. I have friends who blog who are crafters, artists, designers, bakers and DIY addicts that are so passionate about what they do that I can’t imagine them ever giving it up. I love visiting their sites and sharing their work. But for me, I need a better balance. So maybe instead of 5 – 6 craft and DIY’s a month, I’ll do one or two. Or maybe one month I’ll feel inspired and do a whole bunch and then the next month it’ll be about other things.
But I am done not giving myself permission to evolve.
And I want to include more of this.
And by this I don’t mean selfies. I mean my life. Seriously though, again fashion bloggers, how do you do this? I’d better get over this hiding behind the camera because I need to discuss what it’s like to shop for clothing as a tall woman and some of the work out clothing finds I’ve recently come across from Old Navy and LuluLemon. But I was cleaning up our bedroom and trying to see what we needed to organize and fix and I realized I have never done a post on it or so many other of the major Before and Afters of this home. When we bought this house, that white wall behind me was a mint green with a faux cream white wash. And it was not the nice mint green you’re thinking of.
Did I mention there’s a kitchen reno coming up that we hope to start by March? If you think reading about me using an IKEA sewing machine for the first time is funny, wait til I start a kitchen renovation series. My husband can hardly wait. He’s still remembering putting together the PAX closet in our old condo. Because we have another goal after all that is done. To move to a new home as we’re outgrowing this one.
It’s time to start documenting more of our story. More home decor. More about things I love. Maybe more giveaways. And I hope that you follow along or come visit whenever you get a chance.