Hey guys! Can you believe it’s been 7 years since I started this blog? Over a thousand DIY projects, (what feels like) a million photos and approximately 583907503 minutes spent obsessing over this little corner of the internet.
It’s crazy to think that such a huge chunk of my life has now been dedicated to writing here for you guys, and in that way you’ve been with me through so much. And whilst it won’t come as a surprise to you that it’s the best decision I ever made, it’s naturally come with serious ups and serious downs. Not only that but the destination, or where I thought I was going, has continuously changed as time has gone on.
Let’s just say I’ve learnt many (many) lessons – mainly the hard way! I’m not sure about you but I love a trip down memory lane, and so thought it would be fun to share with you one major lesson I learnt for every year I’ve been blogging. Here we go!
Ok so let’s set the scene – it was 2010, Ben and I were living in London, I was working as a town planner in deepest East London, helping to design the 2012 London Olympics. Work wasn’t that demanding, which gave me plenty of time to read blogs, which were only just starting to be a thing. In May that year, I decided to start one myself, and straight away knew it would be where I shared my passion – making runway inspired DIYs. I launched it on blogger and was completely anonymous… I didn’t share it with anyone because blogging was either unknown (at best) or dubious (at worst) at that point. Oh and the content was cringe worthy, mainly photos from other blogs that were DIY inspiration. But, I was blogging prolifically, a few posts everyday, and eventually started posting weekly DIYs. This is the
Lesson Number 1: Don’t sit on your hands for years waiting for the timing to be perfect to start your blog, just do it and don’t worry if you don’t have a clear plan. Base the content on what you’re passionate about and just begin (if you’re looking for a sign this is it). Don’t be obsessed with perfection!
It Won’t Be Easy, But It’ll Be Worth It
Around the second year of working on my blog, Ben started a new interior design business in Hong Kong and we moved (a decision we made in 3 weeks!). After I arrived I got a job at a private firm designing new cities in India and China… Let’s just say I was pretty miserable there (long hours, poor morale blah blah blah). But blog life was amazing – moving to Hong Kong had exposed me to so many craft supplies so I was inspired and my projects were getting better. Ben also bought me a new sewing machine for my birthday which totally turned things around too. I was dedicating every free moment to blogging and on the one hand it was absolutely exhausting – spending hours every night and both days on the weekend prepping content -but on the other I could see real gains with the community and that fuelled all the long nights. I produced a few projects that year that were shared a lot online –
Lesson number 2: Getting something new off the ground – whether it be a blog or new business – takes time and requires all your dedication. Chances are you’ll be juggling another job and at times it might feel too hard but know that every bit of effort you put in now will pay off ten fold later. And don’t expect it to happen overnight, or feel bad if it doesn’t…. Things take time!
Trust Your Gut (and also your ability)
After a while I got a call (yes… on the phone!) from a publisher who wanted to create a book based on my website. Without giving it much thought at all, I decided to take the advance, leave my job and
Lesson number 3: When opportunity comes knocking, don’t freak out! Have the confidence that whatever it is, you can do it. It’s so easy to feel scared and shut down when new experiences and challenges are on offer, particularly when you feel unqualified for the job… But you need to back yourself! Know that you’ll learn what you need to know along the way (hello google) – and whatever doesn’t kill you makes you
Post Faves: DIY Porcelain Jewelry Stand,
Treat Blogging Like A Business
I had originally thought I would go back to working as a town planner after I finished writing my book, but life had other plans. In truth the idea of going back to my old career was so off putting to me that I was willing to do anything to avoid it – and so I worked from home side by side with Ben getting the odd project through my agency. After a few months I was motivated (mainly by a dwindling bank account) to treat blogging more like a profession – developing a media kit, writing proposals to clients, networking and putting myself out there. I also left my agency to manage myself too. I finally started to develop a routine of regular working hours, and delineating between home and work… I designed
Lesson number 4: Just because it’s fun, it doesn’t mean you shouldn’t treat your blog as a business. In fact, if you’re going to make any profit from it, you need to. Develop a media kit, think about branding, messaging and logo. Invest money it making the best reflection of you that you can. Go out and pitch for work! Track down contacts, develop proposals, put together mood boards.
Know When To Work With Others
At the beginning of 2014
Around this time, Instagram was starting to take off as dominating platform for many bloggers, with lots of people eschewing their blogs for the ease of instant uploads on Instagram. I totally saw the appeal, how much easier is to to upload a photo as opposed to a whole blog post? But I felt that it was a risk to put all your eggs in one basket, and in truth I love creating content for the blog and didn’t want give it up, and so treated Instagram as a offshoot of this blog as opposed to the main focus.
Lesson number 5: Find your people. Even if you can’t afford staff, knowing when to outsource or collaborate is key to getting better and better at what you do. No person has every skill, and working with others is essential to helping you grow and evolve.
Diversify Your Offer
2015 was a big year for blogs, as brands started to dedicate more of their budget to working on digital content. However, I was always nervous about relying on just one income stream – and so we looked at various ways to diversify what we were doing. We already had the product side with the DIY supplies but we started doing more workshops and styling. We also began to work behind the scenes with brands, creating content for their channels and helping to strategise their digital. This presented lots of different and new challenges, and I hired a few more staff to help with copywriting, photography and admin. We had great clients and also terrifying ones… But that’s business isn’t it?
The content on the blog was also evolving slightly – from pure DIY fashion to DIY and creativity across lots of different areas like recipes, entertaining, interiors (all with a DIY angle) and more travel. I was also starting to split my time between Australia and Hong Kong more as we worked on more Australian projects. A brainstorming session in the studio helped me to see that the focus for the site was all about creativity, and I loved the idea of this as the key focus, and hoped you guys would like it too! Towards the end of the year we decided to put the craft supplies business to one side for the time being and focus more on content. On a personal note, we also got our dog Ollie which made us so so happy.
Lesson number 6: Diversify what you can offer your blogging clients. It’s important to test out different things to see if they work for you, and be able to offer lots of different services. And don’t be scared to carefully evolve your content too – everyone talks about owning your niche when it comes to blogging, but what they don’t tell you is that your niche needs to be flexible so that you can grow and evolve as your audience does. Your niche, therefore is more about finding a lens through which to see the world, and using that to unify your content creation.
Play to Your Strengths
In all of our careers, there’s a period where you are a knowledge sponge, and then one where you try to focus more on what works and what you feel you are best at. Earlier on I was all about testing what I could do, and said yes to every new challenge and opportunity that came my way. By 2016, I was finally starting to feel like I had a more clear picture of what I wanted to do – like more content creation, DIY workshops, video and creative travel. Based that, I also started to experiment with new areas – like social media training and designing products. It was really hard to start some of these new things (there’s always so much inertia when you are getting started) but it was good to see the end results. We launched a new website aimed at making the content more creative – change is hard but it was time. We also designed and launched
Lesson number 7: Assess what works and what doesn’t, and don’t be afraid to stop doing something in favour of doing something else that works better. Remember that it’s not failure to stop doing something that’s not productive, it’s just smart. Take note of what your strengths are and look for lots of different ways to utilise them.
Where to next? That age old question…. I guess we’re already into the 8th year of this blog, and I have a few ideas for what I want to do, and a few major projects in the works eek. But if the last 7 years (and the internet’s ability to change all your carefully laid plans) have taught me anything, it’s that this journey is a rollercoaster. All you can do is trust your gut and be confident that you can handle (most of) what life throws at you. One thing I do know is that I want this site to be a) more and b) better. Pretty much what you guys told me a few years ago in my reader survey. Time to get started…after I take a nap from writing this mammoth post!
I’m sorry for such a long post guys, but I hope that it, even in some tiny way, has equipped you for your own journey. I’d love to hear if you have any things you have learnt in your time blogging, or running a business. Or doing anything really! Thank you for your continued support. xxxx Geneva