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.