“Maybe the journey isn’t so much about becoming anything. Maybe it’s unbecoming everything that isn’t you, so you can be who you were meant to be in the first place.”- unknown
Last year I shared a “Best of 2015” post. It was filled with excitement, growth and my plans for world domination (sort of).
This year’s “update” is a little different. 2016 has been a year of surprises, of change and of “unbecoming” everything I and this blog was never meant to be.
Rather than share a highlight reel (which don’t get me wrong, love me a good highlight reel) I wanted to open up about expectations versus reality. How 2016 was not the year I thought it would be, but it was absolutely the year I needed.
I’m sharing where 2017 will be taking In it 4 the Long Run (and me). I’m also sharing where I believe healthy lifestyle blogging is moving as a whole. Why it’s a little scary, but mostly exciting.
This is a meaty post my friends, so grab your coffee, let’s chat.
What I Expected 2016 to Be
It’s the end of 2015 and things are looking up. I just quit my first post-grad job in social media marketing to move home so I could work at a coffee shop. The plan was to save money, work on my blog nights and weekends and eventually be able to blog full-time.
My plan had been to keep focusing on the food. The most popular content on the blog had definitely been recipes. I mean who doesn’t love pretty pictures of smoothies/buddha bowls/cookies? While the market for food bloggers is definitely saturated, there’s also a really high demand for that content and a pretty clear path for success, both monetarily and in popularity.
Oh and I had plans to co-run a second website too: Bloggers Gonna Blog (aka the BGBCommunity). The blogging group formed organically and the website was a natural extension of this community.
What Happened Instead
The first five months of 2016 were right on track. In it 4 the Long Run was growing, BGBcommunity.com had launched. We even launched an e-course: Influence with Instagram. My days were filled with coffee and my nights were filled with blogging.
My definition of health was evolving
In the beginning of the year, I had been restricting calories and trying to lose weight. Then after I finished the Sweat with Kayla program I realized that I was moving in the wrong direction in recovery. So I stopped tracking my food and I just ate. I started running without a watch and rollerblading because I loved it, not because I was trying to change how I looked. I began reading a lot of business and self improvement books that fired me up. Yoga, meditation, and self-care became more beneficial to my health than trying to run faster or eat cleaner.
I still enjoyed blogging, but I started feeling a tension between the content I was sharing and where I was at with my own health, physically, mentally and emotionally. Food once ruled my day, but it was beginning to feel a lot less important. And for the first time, I really started feeling like I loved myself, flaws and all.
And then something I really didn’t expect happened….
I fell in love.
I know. I don’t talk much about my love/dating life here because, well, that’s not the focus of this blog. Plus, when it comes to dating, I like to keep my cards close to the chest. But I fell head over heals for my boyfriend. Everything I was working on with own personal growth felt amplified with him. He brings out the best in me.
And its was summer
It became harder and harder to write a post about another salad that didn’t feel so meaningful or important or valuable. After several weeks of trying to force myself to work I really burned myself out(more on that here & here).
It got to a point where I realized something had to change. I lost focus on my purpose, or perhaps I never really had a strong purpose to start with.
In August, I took a break so I could come back with a stronger vision for the blog and the brand. A vision that connected to my passion with my skills and most importantly connected me with my audience.
I worked with Jenn to redesign the blog. I did my own work to get crystal clear about the types of content I wanted to create and share. Rather than niche down and grow fast, I took a different path.
I opened things up. I want to have a more 360º discussion of health outside just food. I want to help women put happiness back into their healthy lifestyle. I believe living free from restriction, judgement and arbitrary rules is the key to making a healthy lifestyle enjoyable and actually maintainable.
So here we are.
Growth has slowed from where it was this past winter/spring. The BGB website is on hiatus while I regroup. But I’ve never felt better or more excited about blogging and connecting with readers. For the first time in a while, my brand, my site and my content is inline with my vision and my message. I’m ok with slower growth and being less niche, because I know that the alternative just doesn’t work for me.
Plus, due to a real stubborn streak I like doing things my way, even if it’s the hard way.
The Biggest Lessons I’ve Learned from 2016
1. Listen to your gut
When you feel like something isn’t right, something isn’t working, whether it’s in your life or your business, you’re probably right. Don’t ignore it. The earlier you listen to your gut feeling, the less painful it will be.
2. Take regular breaks
After burning out, I definitely learned that I needed to take time to not blog. I needed to spend time living and growing outside my blog to grow with my blog. Plus, having friends is fun. I love working, really I do. But when I took breaks, I actually got better at working. Funny how that works.
3. Connect with your local community (think outside the blog)
This year taught me not to underestimate the power of your local community. Whether it’s a small town or big city, there are so many amazing opportunities right around the corner. Not everything has to “scale.” Some of the highlights of my year were getting to know a local blogger who I really admire and hosting local social media classes. Connecting with peeps IRL, especially for us internet folks, is #majorkey or #lit or whatever the kids are saying.
Where The Blogging Industry is Going in 2017 (& Beyond)
Brand > Reach
In short, I believe that bloggers are no longer just people who blog. I believe in the next few years, our pageviews and even social reach, will be a lot less important than:
- the engagement and relationships we have with your audience and
- the strength, quality and consistency of our own brand
I think the age of having a blog and using social media just to promote it is over. More than ever, I believe it’s a blogger’s job to create and share valuable, unique content wherever our audience is. Gone are the days where we can write a blog post, share the links, pin a couple times and call it a day. We need to be present where our audience likes spending time, because they’ll want to leave that space less and less.
Why it’s actually really good
Ok, so we might get a lot less pageviews over time, but that’s only a metric. This shift is good because it means that we’re building deeper relationships and expanding into different mediums. Bloggers aren’t just writers anymore. They’re photographers, speakers, videographers, personalities, podcast hosts, book authors. Not everyone has to be everything, but being on different platforms in different dimensions means we have richer relationships with our readers. We’re building more trust and more influence that way.
With true influence (used wisely) it’s not about having enough pageviews to create ad revenue. True influence allows you to actually impact people with your ideas and earn an income through more than just ads.
My advice for bloggers
Don’t freak out too much about metrics. Focus on what your message is, how you convey it and and doing so consistently and authentically. Find one or two platforms that help you shine and really give give give there.
Sooo exciting news: I’m moving to London for 4 months. I know, I kept that under wraps for over a year. It’s been a dream of mine to go back since college. I’m a dual citizen of the US & UK so I figured I might as well put my second passport to good use. As for the In it 4 the Long Run…
Here’s what to Expect in 2017
I’ll be continuing to have a strong focus on wellness and personal development content. We’ll be talking stress, self care, self love, what it means to make time, managing energy, practical ways to incorporate mindfulness, balance (and whatever the heck that means), intuitive eating, recovery, healthy snacks and of course I’ll be sharing some fun London themed features.
A small group of you already know about this, but back in the fall I launched a Facebook group dedicated to all things health, wellness, happiness and just connecting with likeminded ladies.
I have a couple fun challenges planned for 2017 and I’ll host them in this group.
It’s also where I’ll share new updates on In it 4 the Long Run first. I really love Facebook groups as a way to connect with people and I really want to get to know you (the reader) better.
I would LOVE to see you there. You can join by going here
The Podcast – Launching February 2017
I’ve been a total podcast junkie since college. I’ve always loved Ted Radio Hour, This American Life, Startup, Reply All and so on. However this year I’ve delved deeper into the healthy living podcast world. Having my own podcast was always a pipe dream, but this year I’m making it a reality. I think there’s a huge inflection point for the platform of podcasting and there’s no better time to join. I’ll be diving deep with some of my favorite bloggers, entrepreneurs and wellness experts into many of the topics I listed above.
If you want to be the first to hear when it launches you can either:
Thank you for an incredible year. Thank you to everyone who stuck with me through 2016. I’m so grateful for the opportunity to share and connect with you.
- Even if you’re not normally a commenter (that’s totally ok) I’d love to hear from you! Or you can always email me to say “hi” at firstname.lastname@example.org