Well folks, we survived 2016, a true bummer of a year. Thank goodness. Now we can all take a collective deep breath and rest in the promise of a new year. Three cheers for fresh starts!
Speaking of fresh starts, I wanted to take a moment to discuss a personal fresh start of mine and share some exciting news: I got a new job! I started at the beginning of December and am absolutely loving it. I have nothing but gratitude and respect for my previous employer and will miss my coworkers dearly, but it was simply time. I feel very at peace with my decision, and believe me, it was not made lightly.
My new job is much closer to home (a 20 minute commute instead of an hour), in a city within metro Detroit I absolutely love. It's still an architecture firm, but it's much smaller. I used to work for a company with anywhere between 50-70 employees (depending on the project load), and my new office has eight people. I adore the people I work with already and it feels like I have been adopted into a family. I will no longer be doing retail design, and will instead be working on a wider range of projects: some offices, some restaurants, the occasional yoga studio, you get the idea. They also do work for extremely high end residential clients, which is completely brand new to me. I am very excited!
With that out of the way, I wanted to do a quick post about some of the things I have learned about blogging and what you may be able to expect from this blog in the coming year.
If I've learned anything in the past eight months it's that blogging is no joke. I never understood how time consuming it is until I did it myself. People aren't kidding when they say it's a full time job, because it really could be. Between writing the actual posts themselves, taking photos to supplement each post, maintaining an online presence, and churning out fresh content every day, I no longer wonder why professional bloggers have a staff to help them out. Considering that I already have a full time job, there is a reason why I only post once a week!
The second thing I've learned is that by trying to please everyone, you please no one. After a few months of experimentation, I still don't really know where the line is between being honest and being safe. I have written a few very personal posts and some of them were well received by young designers, but others were triggering to senior designers who felt the need to defend the industry and themselves. Back when I thought no one read my blog, I felt freer to tell the truth, but when people I respect (including my boss) caught wind of my writing, things became more difficult to discern. I had to start asking myself how I would feel if my entire office saw a post. Would it offend them? Would it teach them something they needed to know? Would it get me in trouble? I still don't know. I'm very much in the "figuring it out" process and will continue to experiment in the year to come.
The third thing I learned is to ignore advice that doesn't fit me. According to every article I have ever read on blogging, people like succinct, easy-to-digest articles, and experts recommend that you keep your posts short. Clearly, I have ignored that advice, and I don't lose any sleep about it. Likewise with Twitter, the most successful people are really gifted at writing quippy one liners that fit into 140 characters, and I simply do not have that talent. I am a long format writer and I have fully accepted that.
For the most part, I write until I feel the topic has been covered and I've said all I need to say. Sometimes that means short posts, and sometimes that means long ones, it just depends on the topic. On Twitter, I like to share articles, photos, and quotes I find interesting, and occasionally I'll comment on something, but not usually. My brain simply doesn't think in 140 characters, so I don't bother. I'm not trying to be the next Design*Sponge, I'm simply trying to be me.
The fourth thing I have learned is that you can't write a personal blog without allowing your readers to get to know you. In the past year, I have tried to maintain a low profile and keep my blog as professional and private as possible. Until I took a hard look at my content and presence overall and realized it was not coming across the way I wanted it to. I want this blog to feel like it was written by a real human on a journey, not a polished and perfect How To manual. So many blogs (that I read and love mind you) feel like they are written by authoritative robots. They tell us what foods to eat or not to eat and what kitchen trends are in or out for the year, but they don't share life experiences or evolve. They are polished and clean, but they aren't real. Real life is messy and imperfect with real people who change their minds and make mistakes. Lord knows I've made mistakes. I don't my writing to come across as if I have it all together (or figured out), because I don't. I want my readers to learn and grow with me, although I'm still not sure how exactly I'm going to do that.
So what can you expect in 2017? More figuring it out! I don't know exactly what I want the year to look like, but I know what I want it to feel like. I want it to feel more real, more vulnerable (although I'm not exactly sure how much), and more conversational. I want to get to know my readers and let them get to know me. It will probably be messy, there will absolutely be failures, and it might take me a long time before I find what feels best, but I know for sure that growth will happen, and honestly that's the best thing anyone can hope for.
I hope you'll join me and here's to a great 2017!