My Next Big Thing & Why I've Been So Quiet Lately
Hello dear friends and longtime readers. I felt like sitting down before you today to talk a little about my future as a blogger, how I got here, the future of blogging in general and why I’ve been so quiet lately. I think I’ll first tackle my journey.
HOW I GOT HERE
I started blogging nearly 13 years ago, in January 2006. When I started, I just wanted to write stuff. I had a lot of good ideas and resources, and I still do - I never got sick of it - I still LOVE decor and design. Someone once told me years ago to be careful when it comes to your heart. You can fool around with a person, thinking it’s just a game or a temporary passion, then suddenly you realize you need them in your life forever and this person was never meant to be “passing through” or merely a stepping stone in your journey. And if you fooled around with the wrong person, it can break your heart and leave a lasting wound. If you fooled around with a good person, it can result in the most beautiful romance and ever-after story that we pay money to see on film.
That’s kinda what happened when I started blogging. I never in my life imagined being influential as a blogger, and to earn a living from it. I was fooling around but this lover, my blog, became the best thing that ever happened to my career life. Blogging back then had ZERO respect, journalists thought it was all bullshit and would die eventually and magazines felt we were a nuisance and eventually, we’d blow up and die or something. And no one was making a living from it, I remember some bloggers putting “tip jars” on their blogs and readers going nuts about it, telling them they were selling out and no one will read them anymore for wanting money for their opinion. So the magazines hated us, journalists thought we were trying to take their voice (and many still do feel this way) and our readers loved us but only if we weren’t making money from writing a blog because if we made money, we were Satan.
Oh, I remember those days. I remember the comments sections on blogs heating up whenever a blogger had a new revenue idea. AND WHEN ADS started on blogs, oh my god. I remember the uproar, the “selling out” conversations, the moaning, the hate, the comments that often kept me up at night because I couldn’t understand why bloggers making money had become synonymous with selling your firstborn child to a brothel in India.
I, and many of my blogger “colleagues” back then, pressed on. No matter what. We were keen on writing and sharing but equally keen on finding a way to somehow make a living doing what we love because we saw no shame in earning money as bloggers. Many of us got picked up by magazines after a few years of writing online, because magazines started to understand our value and some respected us, others tolerated us, but together we sort of found a good working rhythm.
Other bloggers didn’t bother with working for magazines and instead, started online classes, Etsy shops, podcasts, videos, writing books, self-publishing e-books and magazines, starting online magazines, launching product lines, giving lectures, working for fairs, selling ads, working with brands on paid campaigns, selling sponsored content, etc… and others built a total rock-solid empire, like The Pioneer Woman who started blogging around the time that I did and today, she has her own BARBIE DOLL.
I did/am doing a lot of those things too. Not the doll (can you imagine a Holly doll who loves to decorate and is on her phone most of the day?), but most of the others. Readers started to understand that people with blogs who were talented had the right to earn a living from writing and also from their unique point of view and personality. It wasn’t such a sour topic any longer. Readers appreciated us and our work and as many of them also started their own blogs, they quickly understood the work that goes into it and respected the big guys a lot more.
Then Instagram swung open its doors and when they were beta-testing it, I was part of that (along with every other app out there, I was always in the first group testing things out) and though skeptical, I wondered about its future and how it could potentially change blogging.
And it has changed blogging. A lot.
Most people use Instagram more than write on their blogs. Instagram is #1 it seems for building and connecting with your audience. It’s the Flickr of our times (Flickr was once where most of the early bloggers met and connected, and chatted)… But I still believe in the power of blogs, vblogs, and in using ANYTHING AND EVERYTHING digitally possible to get your message out into the world and find your people. We all have success in some apps and failure in others - but for me, blogs and newsletters still work because we still have control over them - our content, who sees it, how we market it, the look and feel, everything. Don’t give up on blogging, gang. In fact, I vote to even reinstate BLOGROLLS (remember those????) because the link backs are what helped the early bloggers find new readers but also what helped all us on google to improve our SEO. I’m thinking to add a blogroll, because, why not?
THE FUTURE OF BLOGGING
I am willing to bet that the future of blogging has promise, but only if we level up and integrate more interesting and heartfelt posts, and see our blog as our MAGAZINE. People always called decor8 an online magazine or a blogazine and it’s true. It has been for over a decade. If you start to see yourself as boss, as Editor in Chief of your own online work, your blog becomes something more than just you sitting there pounding out content on your keyboard. It can become bigger and more dynamic and can stand up and out from the pack. The future of blogging is this: evolve it to higher level - only don’t editorialize everything and fill it with sponsored content because that’s not new or innovative. Think of new monetization opportunities for your clients and brands, think of new column ideas and most of all, develop it from your passions and from your heart. I truly believe that online, anyone can become the next big thing. Why not you?
As for Instagram, yes I believe it will continue on, but since the number of Instagram influencers is so high now, and these numbers are also hard to measure and convert into actual sales and/or loyal readers, eventually we will all tire out and move on to something else unless Instagram surprises us with something totally radical and fresh. What will that something else be? Have you imagined this? What do you think?
I believe that the future is what we make it. There are still people working in print who make a lot of money and do very well (KINFOLK and Monocle for instance), despite how people claim print is dead. You still have lots of books being sold in spite of how often others say they rather buy on kindle. There is a market for everything and so it’s not always about jumping on what is popular, but to create something for yourself that works for you and helps you to build your own mini empire. There is so much happening, so quickly, online - just try everything out and see what fits.
“Only Boring People Get Bored” - Betty from Mad Men
WHY I HAVE BEEN SO QUIET LATELY
I guess a lot of reasons. A lot of work. A lot of travel. A lot of everything. And then this overwhelming feeling that I’m not doing enough, I’m not where I should be yet in my career, I’m not present enough for my friends, I don’t own a home yet, just stuff. Stuff like that.
Thankfully, I was born with a “cup half full” mindset. My grandmother Millie was exactly the same. She saw the positive side in everything. When she had to go into assisted living after her stroke, we were sitting around singing old Frank Sinatra music when her nurse arrived. He asked her if she needed anything. When he left, she looked at me and winked and said, “Now you know why I don’t complain about living here, with a man like that giving me a bath every night!” and she giggled. She was nearly 90 and still had that feisty, happy and funny spirit about her. Nothing to stop her or get her down, and when it did, she fought like hell to stand back up again. I’m the copy of her and I’m grateful for this. But it doesn’t mean I still don’t have negative moods and feelings. I have my share.
I guess I’ve been so quiet lately because blogging hasn’t interested me so much this year. It’s like that when you’ve been doing something for so many years. You need mini pauses so you can come back better or at least, stronger and more interested in your own blog.
I’ve been really keen on my other projects and seeing a big dream of mine come to light - well TWO of them. One is product design. I’ve designed a capsule collection for the home for a company here that will be seen in 500 (yes that’s 5 with two zeros) stores that has my name all over it. That will launch in January. AND THEN THERE IS THE MAGAZINE. If you read German, or want to try, or you want to use Google Translate, read these:
Die Deutsche Medienmanufaktur kooperiert mit Design-Bloggerin Holly Becker und bringt 2019 eine neue Interior-Zeitschrift an den Start
Influencer beflügeln Printgeschäft: Gruner +Jahr will Magazin um Bloggerin Holly Becker auf den Markt bringen
SO!!!! That’s BIG News! I’ve been working this year on developing a PRINT magazine with LIVING AT HOME that will premiere with issue one on newsstands January 24, 2019. To say this is a dream come true is an understatement. With over 6,000 blog posts written and hundreds of magazine and newspaper articles I’ve penned, and 4 books in multiple languages, and after slews of podcasts and videos for over 8,000 students in my online classes since 2009, I figured the magazine is the one thing I’ve been trying to do since 2011 that just hasn’t happened yet. I wanted to try it in America but the fit was never right - wrong publisher or worse, no money (on their side). It almost happened in 2012 but a UK magazine stole my concept after multiple meetings, and did it without me because it was cheaper to steal than pay for my idea and work. Bah.
I felt so beaten down by that bad experience that my idea for a magazine just laid dormant for 5 years. I had my beautiful son and focused on him and the other parts of my career that make me so happy. I put my magazine idea on hold because I couldn’t go through another experience like that - to be so close and then have the idea stolen and legally, there wasn’t a thing I could do about it.
This magazine I’m about to launch alongside of Sinja Schutte and her LIVING AT HOME team, came about so naturally that I can’t even believe it. We were chatting about my column in a magazine she oversees, FLOW, and the magazine idea just came out of my mouth and hers at nearly the same time. The idea took root and we just kept having conversations about it, and I was super guarded at first, but I felt like I could really trust her and decided that one bad experience cannot ruin my chance at a dream, so I continued opening up to her and eventually, the magazine started to take shape.
Here we are today, November 6th, and the magazine news is official - we will produce TWO issues next year and if I have time and we think the project has interested readers and the market is ready to see what I have to show to them, then we may continue with more issues and see where it goes from there. It’s an experiment that we are putting our hearts into with faith that people will see the premiere issue and feel connected to it, a little happier through our stories, learn about lovely and talented people who mean a lot to me, and will walk about from the magazine hoping for an issue two for more of that good feeling.
That’s my dream. To have another platform to reach hearts, share stories, show beautiful things and give my friends and the people I’m meeting at all of the fairs I attend a space to show their work and to be seen and heard. I’m just going for it and am soooo excited to show you what HOLLY BECKER/decor8 in print will look like.
MY FUTURE AS A BLOGGER
Maybe I will be the 97-year-old Iris Apfel of design blogging in the very distant future. One of the last ones standing from the first batch of bloggers who pioneered the movement. Maybe or maybe not. I just see myself as evolving still. I’m still young-ish and energetic enough to do lots of meaningful things. The magazine project is a big leap. The home products, another. Maybe I’ll have my own show or make the hundreds of podcasts I’ve recorded for my students since 2009 public for all to hear. I don’t know yet. I just want to be happy first, a great mama second and a really good friend and to inspire people to live their best life, to find their home and build dreams there, to create joy through their interiors and to feel like they matter and have a purpose in being alive because I meet a lot of people who still aren’t sure about themselves, their life or their calling. I love to help others to find themselves and a lot of the soul searching can be done starting at home through knowing ourselves and creating a supportive space to improve our heath and our life. What we do IN the home leaves with us every day, those feelings we create there, the memories… We wear our emotions so openly, we don’t always realize that. The home space is more than a physical spot, it’s also part of us, our core. I’ve never owned a home in my life but I always feel at home no matter where I’ve rented property, because I have a strong core and I know who I am. I don’t always feel confident or great about myself, but I do know absolutely who I am and what I stand for. I learned all of this through my home. Through my objects. My story is all around me and when I figured that out, I understood my place, my role, my life.
Anyway… I love you all and hope you will follow me on my next ride, a magazine, more books (I’m sure!) and whatever else I have energy and time for. I just want to make myself happy through my work and in the process, make you happy too. Let’s see how I do for 2019.