Whoops, My Bad

Merry Christmas & Happy New Year To Youmohammadali / Foter.com / CC BY-NC-SA 

So I completely forgot to keep updating A9T5 with the posts from the new blog.

If you’re still following this blog, head over to the new blog that I mentioned in this post. Most of the social media links have switched over, but I’m still working on a few like Bloglovin. If you were following me before, you still are – the name are just changing to reflect the new one.

Happy almost Christmas! It’s crazy that it’s almost the end of the year already!

It’s Time For a Change

For a while now, I’ve been really unsure what was going to happen with this blog. Every time I sat down to write, the words didn’t flow like they used to. I stopped being really active here, on social media, and even blog reading – the entire idea of blogging seemed a bit foreign to me.

I considered deleting the blog, moving on to “bigger” and “better” things. I was probably 75% convinced that stepping away from blogging was the right move for me. It felt like a good time to walk away as our life had changed drastically from when this launched back when I quit the corporate world. I’m such a different person now and closing the door on the old chapters of my life felt right.

But when I sat down to tell Nathan I was ready to say goodbye to this blog, what came out wasn’t “this is the end of the blog.” Instead, I told him I had hundreds of ideas to talk about and just couldn’t find the words. That I wanted to blog, but I just wasn’t feeling like it was my space anymore.

So he suggested I go back to a personal hand-written journal again. I knew I’d much rather type it out so I figured why not just have a private blog and d I was inspired immediately. It was the first time in over a year that I felt like I had the want and ability to just write again. To really put my emotions out there. Out of my head, even if it wasn’t for the whole world to see.

But then I started wondering why I wasn’t using this space as a journal like I used to. Why it wasn’t collecting memories of our journey into self-employment, our growth as a couple, our house transitions, the baby fever that seems to grow each day, our travels, and everything else that I would want to look back and remember in five years.

And it wasn’t because I needed a new design to refresh my space here. Or because I had someone reading this that I wish never knew I had a blog. Or because I had the biggest case of writer’s block known to man.

It was because this blog reflects so much of what I used to be. What used to drive me, fill me with joy, and the priorities of what feels like a life that is long forgotten. It’s my starting point. It’s my new beginning. It’s everything that brought me to where I am, but so little of what fills my core today. And while I don’t ever want to forget how I got here, I’m also ready for another new beginning.

And I want that new beginning to show more about me than that I work 24/7. So I’ll be starting a new blog. One that’s geared towards anything but the business stuff. I want it to give me that outlet for everything that isn’t small business related. The food, the clothes, the relationships, the trips, the dreams, the hobbies, the beliefs, the growth. The deep, the light, the ugly – all of it.

And I’ll be keeping this one for all things small-business related. The Gnarly Whale, blogging, business tips, interviews, handmade shop promotions and so much more.

I have HUGE plans for both blogs and am looking forward to having two separate outlets to fuel my creativity. I’ve wanted to include all of these things in this blog for years now, but never found a good way to balance them. I know having two jam-packed blogs will be a lot more work, but I’ve never been one to shy away from the work as long as the creativity part comes naturally.

I’ll still be using this blog for all content until the new one is up and running (hopefully by the end of the year.) And if you made it all of the way to the bottom of this post, thank you. I appreciate each and every reader, but especially those that have been there while I’ve tried to balance both aspects of my life in this blog. I’m so excited about the changes and I hope you are too!

Happy Wednesday!

Thoughts on Blogging + Some Changes

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I’m not one to keep blogs for long considering most of mine haven’t made it past the year mark. I think (in the past) I liked the idea of a fresh start and shredding the layers of my past self over watching my growth. And yet, here I am with After Nine To Five – a blog that will have been with me for three years in October.

But I’ve thought about deleting it. I’ve thought about changing names. I’ve even thought about walking away from blogging entirely. And I can honestly say that every time I felt like deleting it or walking away, I just wasn’t paying attention to the signs and in the end . . . I was just doing it wrong.

I think that if you write long enough without taking a step back to assess what you’re doing, you go from point A to point B without even knowing the path you took. Sometimes point B isn’t even where you wanted to end up, but you’re there anyway because you rushed to just get somewhere. And then, the journey doesn’t quite seem worth it.

For me, blogging has always been this way. A rush to the finish line that doesn’t even exist. That hurry to grow bigger, move faster, and have your words spread like wildfire always lured me in. It led me to make mistakes with my blog, miss out on my life outside of the Internet, and value things that truly should have little to no worth to me.

The last time I wondered about the future of this blog, I made a promise to myself. That this time was the last time I would feel the pressure   to blog a way other than how I wanted to. I gave myself the go-ahead to feel all the guilt, the stress, the frustration, and everything else that followed when I was blogging for someone else for one last time. And if I couldn’t let it all go, I knew this blog was just not to be right now and I was fully ready to walk away.

But instead of fueling my own pity party, I stopped. And instead, I found myself accepting that there was no one forcing me down this path other than a misguided version of myself. Equally ashamed and disappointed in my own actions, I knew now was the time to change that.

So over the past few months, I’ve been changing things here and there. Finishing a new layout. Changing up the about page. Setting a new writing schedule, or lack-thereof. Pushing myself to write new, better content that reflected who I am. Really embracing more of me and less of what I thought I needed to be as a blogger. And I can say that I have never been happier with this blog.

Well, until now.

A part of the change that I needed was to share this space with Nathan. We have our problems (I promise we are far from perfect), but in the grand scheme of things – he truly is my better half. And more often than not, I’d rather be at home with him and our furry family than anywhere else in the world. While we’re both incredibly independent, we spend nearly all of our free time (and even non-free time with The Gnarly Whale) together so I always felt like this blog was missing a key component.

Lucky for me, he was all about being a part of this as soon as his hours changed. His part-time hours aren’t set to change until August 19th, but I couldn’t wait any longer for this part of the blog to change. I was already bringing more of me to the blog which I loved, but I was incredibly anxious to bring more of us. Thankfully, he understands my impatience and we’re a few weeks early now.

So going forward, this will be a co-authored lifestyle blog and I am SO excited about the changes.

I want to focus on other things that I haven’t made time for in the past because of my go-go-go attitude. Slowing down and really embracing life. Taking more photos of our lives and having true memories of our adventures. Sharing our goals and hopes for the future, including things I don’t really ever talk about on here (hello, baby fever!) Talking business and really sharing more behind the scenes of what it’s like to run a small business. Sharing our love for delicious food and our diet change over the past couple of months. Eco-friendly living, DIY projects, our pets, and whatever else comes our way.

I guess this was just a long-winded post to say this blog is finally where I want it to be.

And that I’d suggest that everyone break some blogging rules because you just might find out they’re total BS anyway.

Also, if you’re looking for a place to advertise your blog or shop – we’ve got you covered! We have everything from ad space with promotions galore to social media only. Plus, it’s half off through the end of tomorrow with coupon code HALFOFF. And because I’m feeling extra nice today, I’ll throw in an extra month for anyone that buys the one-month Beach Bum spot today or tomorrow. So two months of advertising for $10 – not too shabby! :)

Why I Fully Support Passionfruit Ads 2.0

PF1

Tonight I went out for dinner and drinks with Nathan and my parents. That has little to do with why I’m writing this, but more so the kind of night I was envisioning after I came home. The kind where I’m not working and the kind where I’m lounging on the couch, ignoring whatever was going on in the blog world for the evening thanks to my self-imposed hiatus. On top of that, I’m not usually one to take a stance on anything relatively controversial on this blog because I’m not a fan of drama, but today something spoke to me that I actually felt inclined to write about. 

A couple of weeks ago, Jason from Passionfruit Ads asked for some help on Twitter with looking at the new layout for Passionfruit. I responded and offered what I could, despite poor reception on my end when we chatted on the phone and walked away from the conversation excited about what the future held for Passionfruit. I knew there would be a change, I knew the change would actually charge me more than I was currently paying, and I knew there would be a fallout for the business because it’s what happens when businesses change – but I still advocated it from the beginning.

Now I know that I was far from a driving force in this change as it was already decided before I even laid eyes on the proposed changes, but there was a reason I was so interested in the future of Passionfruit. And that reason is the small business owner part of me that knows when a business is successful and can see it’s worth. The part of me that understands the time and frustration that goes into owning a business – along with the rewards that you can reap when it’s successful. The part of me that saw something I believed in growing and expanding, even if it meant that some people would come out of the woodworks with their pitchforks and torches.

I was one of the first hundred people to join Passionfruit Ads and I’m proud to say I’m still using them. Prior to Passionfruit being around, ads were swapped out every month. Lengthy spreadsheets, coding issues, and hours later – I’d have the new ads up every month. The end of the month and beginning of the next was always a stressful time for me as I knew I had to dedicate a good chunk of time to changing up the sidebar. I never took vacations at that time and I never really looked forward to one month ending or another beginning. So once I saw an alternative, I took it – and the amount of time and frustration I’ve been saved from it is priceless.

PF2

I highly doubt anyone will argue that Passionfruit Ads wasn’t a time/frustration saver – it clearly was and still is. But I do understand that not everyone will support the changes like I do. And I completely get that. I get that not everyone can afford to pay for their services. I get that not everyone wants to pay the same amount as someone else whether they sell 10 ads or 100 ads. I get that some people just use it for swaps and will have to go back to the old way. I get that not everyone likes change and would prefer for it to stay the same, even without the new features.

And that’s fine. Change is a part of life and deciding how we manage that change will always be a personal decision.

What I don’t get is all the negativity about it.

All of this was from one person. One person that worked hard to make your blog easier for you and allowed you to focus on things like better relationships with your sponsors, writing better content, and other blog-related things that were more important than uploading images and inserting code. Shouldn’t he be able to make a living, too? Shouldn’t he not have to pay for hosting your images out of his pocket? Shouldn’t he be paid for his time and efforts going into an incredibly useful tool? Shouldn’t he be able to run a profitable business that allows for continuous growth?

I know for me, a small business owner – this is my goal. To be able to make a living from what I do. To not lose money on sales. To be paid for my time and my effort that goes into our business every day and every night. To run a business that is profitable and allows for regular growth. I’m pretty sure that’s every small-business owner’s dream. So when someone else is chasing after their dream in a logical way (such as increasing the price per month to about 30¢ a day) – I’m all for it. Especially if it’s making someone else’s life just a little bit easier for one reason or another.

While I know that not everyone will agree with me and understand my point of view, but I hope you at least try to hear me out.

PF3

For those of you unsure if the change is worth it, only you can decide that. Only you can decide how to make it work for your blog, your audience, and your pocketbook. I think it’s worth it and I think that if you’re looking for an easy way to manage ads, it’s an incredible value. The new additions are fantastic and have allowed me to add social media promotion + ad design right into the ad shop. On top of that, Jason’s a real stand-up guy and will do everything in his power to make sure the system is working for your and those investing in you every day and custom service is huge in my book. It doesn’t take much to give up (say not eating take-out once a month) or much to cover the cost (say selling one $9 ad) so it’s hard for me to not see the value in this.

For those of you that have already decided this isn’t right for you and your blog – I respect your choice. I respect that it’s not the right fit for you anymore. But please take a moment before you start trash-talking the service and think about what’s happening. A service that you are not forced to use is evolving. You can change with it or go another direction – the choice is entirely yours. So there’s no need for the put-downs and the frustration. Sure, it’s tough that you may need to use another service or may need to do it yourself, but that’s all there is to it. Most of us have been there before, doing what I did before Passionfruit was around, so you can do it again. There’s no need to be rude or to start putting anyone down over something that’s completely your choice to use or not use.

For those of you totally unfamiliar with Passionfruit Ads and you’re wanting to know a bit more – I suggest you go check out all of the new options. If you have any questions, get in touch with Jason and he’ll most likely answer you within a few minutes because he cares that much.

And if you see the value in it, but maybe don’t want to pay the $9 a month – how about $4? Because he’s been nice enough to offer that rate to you forever if you subscribe before the end of August. Which is exactly what I did today. So if you want to see some of the new options A9T5 is offering thanks to Passionfruit Ads 2.0, head over to the advertising page and you can even use code HALFOFF for 50% off all ads through the end of the month.

I wasn’t paid to write this or even asked to write this – I just believe in it enough to share my thoughts. All photos from the Passionfruit Ads website.

How To Lose Followers {And Why I Recommend It}

{source}

Months ago, I hit a crossroads:

Quit my blog or change my blog.

Maybe it had to do with maturing, or business getting in the way, or maybe the politics of it all just got old. But what I was doing wasn’t working.

I posted about it, talked about it to friends, stressed over it with my husband, and strongly leaned towards quitting blogging all together. I was ready to walk away. Really ready. But then I posted about it again. And I really told myself that it was time. Time for me to find my place here, find the right words, find the right mixture for everything.

So I took that time. I cut back on posting, I spent less time on social media, I took a little longer to respond to emails, and participated in fewer blogger activities. I did everything that I needed to and wanted to do. And here is where I’m supposed to tell you that it worked out, right? That I gained more followers, and the page views grew, and my blogging life became perfect.

All wrong.

I lost followers. And I lost a lot of page views. And I missed out on opportunities because I was no longer striving for those things.

But something else happened instead.

I found joy elsewhere. My joy no longer stemmed from an increase in page views, or a sudden jump in followers, or an increase in opportunities for me to write about. It slowly crept into crevices of my life that needed to be dusted off for a long time. I started cooking again – actually using the stove and more than the microwave. I stepped outside – and didn’t feel guilty for it or that I needed to be photographing each moment. I took breaks – wasting time and not feeling like I needed to be go, go, go 24/7. I spent time playing with our dogs and relaxing with my husband – all without feeling like I was missing out on something online.

Online? I haven’t bounced back from any of those choices and honestly, I doubt I will. Blogging has shifted from being a focus of my life to a part of my full life and I am more than okay with that. In fact, I’m disappointed that I let myself think it was more than it truly is to me.

Offline though, I’m surrounded by things that build me up and give me strength. Things that help me feel balanced and whole as a person. Things that feel real, tangible, and important to my core being.

So would I recommend changing up how you blog and your entire online life, even if temporarily? Hell yes I would. If you’re guilty of doing what I was doing – chasing the wrong things, believing the wrong things, and trying to fill the shoes of the wrong person – then do it. Lose everything you don’t need to be amazing. Lose all of it. And don’t look back. Just look forward. And look at everything that you’ve given up, or missed out on, or forgot you enjoyed and embrace it. Engulf yourself in it. And then see if you want to go back to who you were or what you were doing.

You just might be surprised at how easy it is to be amazing without all of those things.

How To {Successfully} Pitch To Small Businesses

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We get emails and conversations every single day from people wanting to review our Gnarly Whale products. It’s flattering and gives us a nice boost to our egos, knowing that people want to try out our products, but it’s also a bit disheartening as we read through the messages that have a generic flow to them.

Hello,

My name is Jane Doe. I blog over at XYZ blog and regularly write product reviews. I would love to review your products if you’re interested in sending me some samples. I’d also love to do a giveaway for your products and offer a coupon code to my readers. I look forward to hearing back from you.

Jane

Sometimes the message comes with stats, sometimes it doesn’t. Sometimes it doesn’t even include a link to the blog, most of the time it does. Sometimes people tell me why they can’t buy our products, sometimes they don’t. But in some way, shape, or form – 99% of our requests for reviews look like the one above.

I won’t lie – more often than not, we don’t even respond to these messages anymore. We’re too busy making products, communicating with current customers, marketing our brand, etc to respond to every request like this. But there’s a reason we choose not to make time for these conversations: they don’t show us that you care about our brand.

We want to work with people that know what our brand is about. People that understand that we’re small business owners which means we don’t have endless amounts of cash-flow to just send out goods to everyone in the world. People that fit in with our target market of vegan, eco-conscious, minimal-ingredient product lovers. People that have a product that they would really love and would be able to really promote to their audience because of their passion for it. People that have a true interest in our brand, and not just an interest in getting free products.

As a blogger, I get it. I understand the perk of getting free things because you have a blog. And I also understand that we’re busy people with lots to do so form emails seem easier. As someone with student loan debt, I get it. I understand that you can’t afford to pay for things outside of the necessities of life sometimes. And I understand that sometimes you just want to try products out before you buy them to save money if you absolutely hate it. And as a reviewer, I get it. I understand the joy of getting to try new things and being able to spread the word about products you love/would recommend to your close friends.

But as a business owner, none of that matters to me.

I have zero interest in how busy you are as a blogger, or how much you like reviewing products, or how many bills you have that prevent you from buying our products. What I do have an interest in is how we can form a natural partnership with you from the very beginning and work together for a common goal: spreading the word about our brand.

So show me that you are intentionally contacting me, not just every business you want free product from. Because even if you are only contacting me, but are using a pretty generic email that mentions nothing about our brand or products, I’m going to assume you are sending it to dozens of other companies and won’t be likely to respond.

Show me that you can offer our company something unique – not just views or followers. Show me why we should partner with you, how our brand meshes with your blog, and our products would be a good fit for you or your readers.

Show me that you’ve done your research and understand how our business functions, the type of products we make, our mission, and our goals with the business.

Business owners get the power to be choosy about who they work with, especially small business owners who don’t have as much money to throw around. Keep that in mind when you reach out to them. Find a way to make yourself irresistible to them by sharing your passion if it’s similar to their mission. By showing that you can offer them something mind-blowingly awesome for their brand. By showing them that you get what they’re making, love what they’re doing, and that you reached out to them because of all of that.

And if you’re really looking to wow them?

Purchase something from them. Going into these messages with first-hand experience about their products is such an easy way to get your foot in the door without really trying. It shows that you already support the brand without needing to get free things from them. That you already tried their product and obviously loved it enough to want to work with the brand even further. And that you respected the brand enough to spend your hard-earned money with them already. Current customers are key to a successful company so you’re proving just how valuable you are to them by going this route.

What are your tips for pitching to small businesses?

On Positivity

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I think Mondays could always use a bit of a pick me up.

I rarely look forward to them and they usually involve some of my crabbiest moods and unproductive days. It’s crazy to think I’d ever really love Mondays until I’m a millionaire and days don’t matter (fingers crossed that actually happens) – but I don’t think it’s too much to ask for to not loathe them. Is it? Maybe.

But today I’m trying to put my best foot forward because the last two and a half weeks of April are going to be insane. A good kind of insane because when it’s all over and we get all of our orders out by the end of the month, I have two crazy exciting things that I finally get to share with you guys about The Gnarly Whale. And I’m pretty much bursting at the seems to shout the good news from the rooftops. And if you haven’t voted for us yet, please do! And please keep voting every day and share the link with your friends. We’d really appreciate it!

And in case you didn’t see it over the weekend, this launched:

Here’s what they had to say about what they’re doing: With so much negativity online and offline, why not have a space to celebrate each other? “Bloggers Anonymous” is meant for exactly that. A place to build each other up against the critics that want to bring us down.

Sweet, right? I don’t know who they are, but I love their message and it instantly put me in a better mood when I saw it. Not only do I love the idea, but I think it’s a great way to find new blogs to read. Head on over there and submit your compliments – you’re pretty much guaranteed to make someone’s day by doing so.

Happy Monday everyone!
I hope today is filled with lots of love and happiness or something equally as good :)

How To Achieve Inbox Zero Every Single Day

How To Achieve Inbox Zero Every Single Day

Emails are by far the biggest time-sucker for me when it comes to being a blogger/handmade business owner. Personal emails, guest post details, review/giveaway details, marketing, customer inquires, collaborations, etc – they all lead to hours upon hours being spent in my inbox, whether it’s while I’m working or even on the go.

I tried different apps to help save time, including attempting to wait for the what seems to be over-hyped Mailbox app but I’m still waiting for over 500,000+ people to get it before I do. Not to mention, it supposedly doesn’t include your current folders/tags which is a huge red flag for me. I’ve tried timed methods and opening my inbox at certain points of the day. If it was related to time management and emails, I’ve done it. And none of it worked on it’s own.

So I set out to make my own method. One that doesn’t have to change if I’m working on the iMac, laptop, iPhone or iPad. One that doesn’t take any knowledge to learn if you already know your email system. It’s easy to use, free to create, and takes less than 15 minutes to setup (possibly more if you’re as obsessed about having pretty colors like I was.)

Step1Labels

There are eighteen labels above, all of which I consider to be “important.” All eighteen of them help me stay organized, prevent me from missing deadlines, ensure that I respond to people in a timely fashion, know how busy I’ll be the next day and/or week, and sort my tasks/emails by their importance. I have many more labels in my inbox, but they are more so meant for archiving things I’m done with. Basically any email that gets sorted into one of these folders has something I need to do for it. If not, it’s deleted or archived in a different label.

These labels were set up with a couple of different things in mind –

  • Using a symbol (ie: the ►) bumps it up to the top of all of your labels so you don’t have to scroll through your labels to find them.
  • Using the numbers keeps the days in order and pushes the labels that are farther away (ie: Next Week, Next Month, Someday) to the bottom of the list.
  • Using the headers (Response Needed and To Do) separated the types of emails I get: ones that need a response and ones that need action outside of an email response.
  • Using all days of the week allows me to plan for every day that I usually work and then combining the weekend as I try to work less then. I tried using a system of “Today, Tomorrow, Next Week, Next Month, and Someday” and found myself less organized and more frustrated with how much I had to do.

Instructions below for setting up labels are for Gmail only. Gmail is all that I use so unfortunately if you use something like Yahoo, these instructions will not work. However, if you do have a label/folder function in your email, you can still set up your labels and use the ideas presented in the next section.

If you don’t know how to set the labels up, it’s incredibly simple:

  1. Click on the gear box on the far right side of your Gmail inbox
  2. Select Settings.
  3. Select Labels.
  4. Scroll down until you see a button that says “Create New Label” and click it.
  5. Type in your label name. If it’s a header, leave the “Nest Label Under” blank. If it’s a sub-label under a header, check the “Nest Label Under” box and select the header to which the sub-label belongs to.
  6. Repeat until you have all of your labels setup.

If you’d like to add colors to your labels (which is a HUGE part of what helps me stay organized), follow the directions below:

  1. Hover over the label you want to add a color to on the far left side
  2. A small arrow (like this: ▼) should appear. Click that.
  3. Select the color you would like for the label or add a custom color.
  4. Repeat until you have added a color to all of the labels.

Step2Labels

Setting up the labels was the hardest part. Once they’re created and as long as you use them, the rest is easy! Once an email comes in or whenever you check your email, every email has one of four destinations if it’s not going to be taken care of immediately:

  1. Trash: Spam, unimportant email, or simply email that doesn’t require you to do anything.
  2. Archived: Email that you want to keep, but don’t have to do anything with. (This is one of those many other labels I mentioned above.)
  3. To Do: Email that has an action that needs to be done because of it. Maybe you need to write a guest post, or create something for a customer, or take photographs. Apply the “To Do” label to it along with the label for the day you plan to do it. (See below for why I apply two labels to To Do and Response Needed items)
  4. Response Needed: Email that needs your response AND the response is going to take longer than the time you have available at the moment. Apply the “Response Needed” label to it along with the label for the day you plan to do it. (See below for why I apply two labels to To Do and Response Needed items)

Why I apply two labels: This is for a couple of reasons, mostly dealing with the header labels.

  1. I can get a quick overview of everything I need to respond to/do.
  2. At a quick glance, I can see what days will be busier than others.
  3. I don’t miss deadlines if I’m continually looking at what I need to be doing.

Then whenever you’re working on your to-do list, working ahead, or need to see what you have going on today, tomorrow, or even the next day – it’s already sorted and ready to be done.

That’s it! As long as you stay on top of your email and don’t spend too much time hitting the refresh button, this can easily cut your time spent in your inbox in half. It has for me and it’s allowed me to spend more time doing things for the Gnarly Whale or  even squeeze in a bit more me time.

Do you have any email productivity tips?

Another New Look

When I had shorter hair that I wasn’t trying to grow out, I had the urge to change my hairstyle every couple of weeks. Growing it totally squashed that phase so I found a new way to deal with my need for change: changing my blog layout or colors. The last layout/color change didn’t even get a post because I didn’t think it would stick around long – apparently I was right. Not even three weeks later, I had the sudden urge to change things up. Despite Spring seemingly forgetting that Wisconsin deserves some warm weather, I felt like adding a bit of color to the blog. Click over if you’re reading this through a reader to check it out!

GreenAndPink

And don’t forget – there’s still time to participate in the Spring giveaway!

When Blogging Lost It’s Magic

Two+ years ago I told myself that blogging should always be fun for me. It should be a hobby, not driven by greed or popularity or money. It should always be a place for me to be open and honest. A place where I can connect with others. A place that was fueled by want and not overwhelming, unsatisfying needs.

And instead of sticking to this rule of mine, I was overcome by the idea of fame. Being a “big” blogger” and striving for more page-views, more followers, and more of everything that, well, didn’t matter. Sure, sometimes I took back what I wanted in the first place and pushed those thoughts aside, but it was only temporary. The need for success overcame my will to stick to the one rule I should have stuck to when it came to blogging.

As I sat here earlier in the week, doing anything I could to help Nathan feel better as he made his way through the aches and pains of the flu, it hit me.

magic

Blogging has lost it’s magic for me. Completely. And it’s not because of anything in the blogging community other than my own personal role in it. When I first started blogging, I knew nothing about reviews. Or giveaways. Or page-views. Or social media. Or anything outside of how to type up a post, hit publish and see that my words made it into a very public space. And maybe that’s where the magic was kept. Maybe by knowing so little, my goals and intentions were fueled by pure innocence rather than the greed that later consumed me. Because once I found the knowledge, I wanted more. I needed more.

So I went after it. I paid for advertising when it wasn’t beneficial for me. I offered advertising when it wasn’t beneficial for others. I held giveaways to increase the numbers and I watched my followers, my page-views, and my comments like online life depended on it. And at times, it truly felt like it did. I posted about popular things that I had little interest in writing about. I reviewed things that had no real impact in my life. I did a lot of things I’m not proud of, but I have no regrets because all of those moves made me realize what I didn’t want out of my online life. And more often than not, knowing what I don’t want is more beneficial than knowing what I want.

I did all of this because I thought that the role of a Blogger was monumental. But it isn’t. At least not for me.

Because now? My blog isn’t even a tiny percent of what I wanted it to be now. And it’s not aiding to a better well-being for me. The struggle for content. The lack of deep, meaningful and personal connections from it. The standards for posting that I’ve set for myself. The amount of time and effort put forth for little reward. None of it is what I asked for.

So when all of this was racing through my mind, my answer was to quit. Or at minimum take a break. A long, extended break. Leave behind the disastrous mess I made and wipe my hands clean of it. It sounded SO easy. It seemed like the perfect answer. But it made me feel like a quitter.

quitting

Like I was walking away from something I created just because I made a few, okay a lot, of mistakes along the way. But I’m not known for that – nor do I want to be. I’m not known for checking out when things get tough. I’m known for checking back in and pushing through until everything feels right again. And I don’t want this time to be any different.

So instead, I’m taking my blog back. Taking myself back. And all that it really means is something fairly simple: That this will become the place it was meant to be – a place for me to share my story and connect with others. A place for me to document my journey as an entrepreneur, as a studying Buddhist, as a foodie, as a dreamer. A place for me to share my story about my marriage, our plans to follow our dreams both in our careers and in our home, and eventually as parents. A place that I feel comfortable in with no pressures and instead simple understanding.

To do that, I’m getting rid of sponsors. Scaling back on the reviews and the giveaways. Cutting down on posts that are written “just because.” Preparing myself to say no when opportunities aren’t the right fit for me or this blog. Spending less time on social media and in my inbox. Knowing full well that by doing this, I may lose things I was striving for before. But I’m okay with that. For one simple reason.

bloglife

And my hope is that this blog – by doing all of this – will be filled with positivity, creativity, generosity, and a well-crafted story about a girl with a dream to leave an impact on the world.