As I sit down to write this post, it’s four years to the day since I opened up a new Blogspot account, cobbled together a rooky blog design using one of their ready-to-go templates and a little
artistic flair optimism, and wrote my very first blog post. Needless to say, my writing, photography and overall approach wasn’t going to win me any awards back then, but in Follow Your Sunshine I found something which was about to become a fundamental piece of the jigsaw puzzle; it filled a space that I didn’t yet know I was missing.
This corner of the internet travelled halfway across the world with me, from my attic flat in Clapham, London, to the bright lights of Doha, Qatar where it became my online diary, and a space to share my favourite eats, travel highlights, expat highs and expat woes, my engagement and wedding excitement, my rocky pregnancy journey and eventually the deep dive into motherhood.
This page was my outlet. It kept me company during the long, lonely nights when Rich was working, before I knew anyone in Doha well enough to ask them round for a drink. It helped me to feel connected to people back home. It was a creative escape from reality.
It was never my intention for Follow Your Sunshine to catch anyone’s attention, let alone the attention of PRs and brands. I certainly never set out to earn the label ‘influencer’ (a term which makes me recoil slightly to this day). Yet, there have been so many incredible opportunities that blogging has opened up to me, that I am so grateful for the path that I ended up taking and the way that things turned out.
The very best thing that has happened so far on this journey is of course YOU! Yes you, reading this blog post right now. Your comments, emails and support are what have kept me going for four years and what help me to get out of bed every morning with a renewed sense of vigour, and a desire to get better at what I do. Most importantly of all, Follow Your Sunshine has helped me to develop some of the best friendships I have ever had, in some of my fellow bloggers, some of the PRs that I’ve worked with, and even a couple of readers (you all know who you are!).
All of that being said, I have had some real serious self-doubt about the future of my blogging career lately, and it’s been crippling my productivity, just at the time when I’m desperately willing it to flourish.
As some of you know, I recently took the decision to take my blog full time, which was slightly forced upon me a little earlier than I had planned. When big life changes are thrust upon you like this, I think it’s important, in both a ‘growing as a person’ and a ‘growing in a business sense’, to have a bit of a period of self-reflection, to double check that you’re heading in the right direction.
So that’s what I’ve been doing. That, and watching a lot of the Michelaks on YouTube and eating my bodyweight in biscuits.
And you know what? For once, I’m not sure that all of this introspection has been entirely good for me. I’ve spent hours fretting about whether I’m cut out to make blogging a career, whole evenings consumed with whether I’m going to be able to keep up with brands’/people’s/hell, my own expectations, and God knows how long worrying about what people are saying and thinking about the whole thing.
Funnily enough, my thoughts about my blog, which used to bring me so much happiness and warm fuzzy feelings, have taken a somewhat downward spiral of late.
Confession time. I’ve really struggled with the growing focus on numbers and social media followers (and all of the angst associated with that damn Instagram algorithm!). I’ve watched in dismay as bloggers with purchased followers have been handed opportunities, while honest bloggers flounder. I’ve found the competitive nature of the industry difficult to find much enjoyment in, and found the nastiness that comes along with it positively repellent.
Don’t get me wrong, the blogosphere isn’t all like this and there are many many good things and incredible people in this unique world, but as I’m sure you’re beginning to get the gist of by now, I’m growing less content with the blogging bubble these days.
Luckily, my passion is still burning more brightly than my fear, so rather than simply throwing the towel in and shutting down my website like I have threatened to countless times over the past three months, I am going to be making some changes around here.
You know what the most wonderful thing about the internet is? Nobody else out there is you. All of you aspiring and established bloggers, you need to keep reminding yourself that nobody else can do you as well as you can. So trusting your gut, focussing on the things that make you feel alive, and writing about what makes you feel truly, unashamedly you is the best thing that you can do for your brand. And this exactly what I am going to do.
So what does this actually mean in practice for Follow Your Sunshine going forwards?
More focus on the things that I’m passionate about. This means more exploration of Doha’s food scene with my family. More exciting travel (and staycations), as well as travel-themed posts. More personal posts about myself and my journey into motherhood.
More sideline projects. Let’s face it, blogging isn’t going to make me my millions. Watch this space for a few creative projects that I have lined up outside of the immediate blogging world.
More honesty. Follow Your Sunshine is a positive blog about the good things in life, but that doesn’t mean that life is perfect all of the time. Expect a few more chatty, personal posts in the coming weeks and months (I promise not to make them too rambling!).
More content about blogging itself. With four years of blogging under my belt, while I am still confused every day by a lot of things (Pinterest traffic, HTML, the ins and outs of SEO…I could go on), I also have a few pearls of wisdom to share too. I’ll be starting a new series of blogging posts shortly (please let me know if there’s anything in particular that you would like to see!).
Less time spent worrying, and more time spent improving my game. The addiction to success that is rife in the blogging community is the most fabulous of things if it’s harnessed in the right way. Let it consume you, and you have a recipe for disaster. Anxiety, competition, blogger bashing… we all need to keep reminding ourselves that everybody has their own definition of success and has the freedom to decide on their own path to get there. Let’s support each other in doing so.
So, this is my chosen path, and I’m going to take it unashamedly (although I can tell you now that I’m definitely going to make mistakes along the way).
I’ve given myself until the end of 2017 to see if I can turn things around, and I hope you’ll stick with me as I continue my journey. It’s been four fabulous years, and I would be absolutely, utterly, incredibly ecstatic if I can make it to five.
Here’s to understanding ourselves and what makes us tick. Here’s to trusting in the decisions we make to try to make the best out of difficult situations. Here’s to new beginnings which open up exciting opportunities. Here’s to having the faith in ourselves to work out which direction to head in, even if we feel as though we’re feeling around in the dark half of the time.
After all, faith moves far more mountains than doubt can ever create, right?
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