What I Learned {From Blogging} In 2016

Well hello 2017! After a fun holiday season and then the worst cold ever to hit our family, we are finally recouping and ready to take on a new year. Every year, I share a few things I learned over the past year with a bit of our direction for the new year.

You guys… last year was SO bad for me & SO good all the same.

It was most honestly one of the hardest business years I’ve had, but the amount of growth and learning that took place was invaluable. I am so thrilled to still be standing and to see all you lovelies still here with me (this is my current standard of success).

So let’s jump into it. Here are 5 things I learned about myself and about blogging from the Sh*%t show that was 2016:

Stacks of books

1. Long form editorial has my heart

In our world of sounds bites, I love the chance to slow down and really get into a book or read something online that is written in long form. Speaking in full paragraphs is becoming more an art form… one that I have a serious crush on.

Personally, I joined a book club this last year and realized how much I missed reading with friends. In this book club we are all busy moms, so there is no judgment if we don’t get through the book in that month. We meet for dinner and drinks (so no one has to clean their house!) and it’s been one of my favorite things to do every month. Last year I read 20 books!!! I may do a separate post this month to just share some of my favorites. I also downloaded audible this year and have been listening to books in the car after school drop off, on errand runs etc – it’s been awesome.

On the business front, in 2016 we launched a new book – all about pom poms! I’m finding that writing books is one of my favorite ways to present content. Book writing is so so fun, mostly I love the long view of a project that is bigger than a blog post. And guess what?!? We have another book coming out this spring, all about wreaths! I’m already getting excited to share it with you.

When we initially launched our online magazine, this love of long form editorial was one of the compelling factors. I struggled with figuring out how to present the magazine in a way that was true to my passionate style and also made financial sense to the business. Well one of the exciting updates for 2017 is that we’ve finally figured this out! More to come on this soon – but you can expect the resurgence of Styled in an updated form.

Celebrate in the trials

2. Diversification is my new beau

You guys, one of the hardest experiences of the year (really, of my entire life), was seeing our ad network of 7 years disintegrate overnight. I didn’t talk much about it here, since we try to keep this space a creative and encouraging one – but let me tell you. This news knocked me on my back, hardcore. Our ad network honestly made my job of running this blog a fairly easy one and I had become way to comfortable and dependant on them. They accounted for about 70% of our blogging income on a monthly basis and we had an agreement that we were paid months (4-6 in most cases) out. In short form this meant – overnight, I not only lost our major source of income for running this business, but almost 1/2 a year’s work & income that we count on to pay our staff, myself and generally keep the lights on around here. Everything they owed me just evaporated. Even as I write this now – my stomach gets tight thinking about it.

In response to this, I ate some chocolate cake, sat stunned for about a week, and then got to work. I am excited to say we’ve been able to make up the deficit and even more!!! It taught me the great value of diversification. Moving forward I am excited for how this very expensive business lesson will continue to guide and change the nature of our work. It means working with more diverse brands in fun & creative ways – which I love. It means more books, more fun course launches, and more types of creative content coming up that I think you will LOVE.

Diversification in income, but also in the way I communicate. The projects and ideals we have here on the blog will continue to diversify over the coming year and I honestly couldn’t be more excited about where we are going as a digital brand.

Pinata lamp

3. A little crazy is needed

When we started this blog a long time ago, it was before the days of Pinterest even existed. I would wake up with crazy ideas in my head at 2 am and jump at the chance to make them happen. Sometimes the ideas were amazing (like filling a cake with candy) and sometimes they were totally insane (like suggesting you hang your cakes in a tree for a party). But, either way we were creating crazy fun content. This last year I realized how much I missed this crazy side of the blog. In the daily muddle of deadlines and running a stable business – my 2 am crazy ideas started to seem… just a little too crazy to pursue.

Well, not any more!

I’ve learned how much I need a little crazy added to the mix to keep me going and engaging long term.

This coming year, we are making space and time for a little crazy. You might love it, or hate it… but the crazy side helps fuel me so that I can keep running for another 8 years of blogging ahead.

home

4. Home is where my style gets feet & comes to life

You guys 2016 was a huge year for us in that we bought a house! It’s not the first house that we’ve owned, but it is the first house we’ve ever renovated so it somehow seems completely different to me. We closed on the house in March and gutted basically the entire thing. It was wildly fun, and scary, and a little exhausting to be sure. It’s been a year of rebuilding in more ways than one. After putting in our plank floor upstairs, the herringbone vinyl downstairs, completely reworking a bathroom, and gutting the kitchen (which made Apartment Therapy’s 10 best kitchens of the year – YAY!), I was ready for a break. The last few months have been relatively quiet around the house (besides painting a piano), and it’s been nice to just stop and enjoy the space. To take a breather for a minute.

This year we will continue to document our renovation process – there is still a LOT to do here, starting with a studio reveal coming later this month.

I love taking our signature style of subtle fun & a sprinkling of color and seeing it transform a space for our family and friends to enjoy. It’s like bringing what I’ve preached and shared here to life in a whole new form. It will be great to continue watching it unfold along with you this year.

Confetti is my BFF

5. Loving you is easy to do

I read somewhere once that there are 2 types of bloggers. One type shares creative, editorial content into the world and sees that as their contribution, the other type engages deeply with a community. Being a mom of twins and running this business basically alone for years I’ve tended to be more the first type. Some of it is my nature, I’m actually a total introvert and the thought of Insta-videoing my life gives me anxiety attacks. Some of it is just logistical, one person can’t do EVERYTHING! So I’ve had to decide where to focus to keep the first things first in my life.

For the last year I’ve had a growing desire to engage with you more often. There has been so much love lately from comments, emails and connection we have in various forms online. I want to be a better friend! To do that I’ve recently brought on a new team member to help navigate this world and direct it a bit for me, so that I can connect more deeply with you in all the places you pop into daily.

What have you learned this year? What are you excited about for the year to come? I sure think 2017 is going to be a great one for us all! xoxo