ADVICE FROM A BLOGGER: When Your Vision Does a 180

advice for bloggers - it's ok if your blog vision changes

Today I’m excited to hear from Lisa Butler, the creative force behind Elembee. As a colleague and friend, I’ve been continually amazed and inspired by Lisa’s blog journey — trust me when I say, her blog and business as it existed several years ago is totally different than the clear, cohesive vision you see today. Many people don’t know that Lisa started off as a lifestyle blogger, whereas nowadays, she writes fantastic, useful content on running a creative small business. How did she make such a huge shift, and what was that like? Read on to get advice from a blogger!

When I first started blogging, I didn’t really have a vision for my blog — unless you count “use all fonts” and “use all Photoshop filters” as vision. At the time, I worked as an in-house designer for a non-profit, and I felt my creativity was chained to this thing called “brand standards.”

Over time, I really got in a groove with lifestyle posts — interviews on Mondays, style on Tuesdays, home on Wednesdays, etc, etc. I loved it. The more inspiration I posted, the more creatively fulfilled I felt. I started seeing the effects in all areas of my life — I had fun getting dressed in the morning, I enjoyed coming home to my own little decorated space at night. I guess you could say my vision for my blog during that time was to improve my life by searching for inspiration for the life I wanted. It was the creative outlet I had been craving.

But then, my business grew. Clients found me through my blog, referred more clients who also checked out my blog, and I finally decided to just combine my business site and blog. I came to realize that the heart of my brand was, well, me, and it clearly wasn’t hurting my business to share the more personal lifestyle posts.

The more design projects I took on, the more creative freedom I felt through my work, and the less I needed creative fulfillment through my blog posts. So I started writing about my work. Just one post a week at first — I was afraid my readers wouldn’t like the change. That fear was unfounded. I received more comments and shares on that weekly column than the rest combined.

As I left my job and pursued my business full time, I had all the creative fulfillment I needed through my work. Lifestyle posts became a drag. I no longer relished spending hours searching through Pinterest, carefully crafting a graphic, writing something about it, then adding all those links. I just wanted to write. That’s when I knew it was time to make a change.

So I simply started writing more about the work I do and less about lifestyle inspiration. At the time, I had committed to a year-long travel project featuring blogger favorites from every state in the U.S. By the middle of the year, it was the only lifestyle topic I continued blogging about, and only for the sake of finishing the project. In fact, most readers commented on my surveys that it was their least favorite!

The final post in that series was my last lifestyle post. These days, I simply write about the topics I’m dealing with in my business and answer questions I get from clients and readers. In June, I even stopped creating graphics for my posts so I could focus on writing — quite the 180 from my original vision!

I’m sure that I lost some readers in the process, but most of them stuck around — and overall, readership grew. The responses to my posts now continue to be far better than I ever experienced with my lifestyle posts. Plus, my posts attract like-minded clients to my business. Furthermore, I enjoy blogging again — and at the end of the day, that’s what matters most. You’ll never attract the readers and clients you want if you don’t enjoy what you’re doing.

What made the transition from my old vision to the new one work was the incremental changes I made over time. If you’re feeling discomfort with your current vision, make one small change toward a new vision — maybe just one post to test the waters, both for your readers and for yourself. You don’t have to overhaul everything at once. And don’t be afraid to lose readers — you’re just making space for readers who are more enthusiastic about what you do.

victoria sig

VISION: ORGANIZE YOUR VISION

online calendar - organize your vision

For bloggers or content creators, having a monthly, quarterly, or seasonal vision or theme can help your organize your editorial calendar.

What that means is that when you are planning out your content for the year, or for the next six months, you may want to consider thinking about themes you can create content around and turn it into a series. The series could be monthly, quarterly, or be for a certain season. It’s up to you how you want to structure it, but by setting up a series for yourself, usually the limitation of that series can help spark ideas. (I wrote about how limitations can spark creativity in the create series.)

A great example of this is what we are doing here on The Well! Each month we have a word that we base our monthly series around. This month the word is VISION. Last month it was PROTECT, and the first month was CREATE.

How did we come up with this? Victoria and I were brainstorming ways to have more consistent content here on The Well when I thought it might be helpful for us to come up with a series each month to focus on. Hence the Word of the Month series. We loved the idea and decided that each of us should come up with a list of 12-15 words we thought we could write at least four posts about each month, then we compared our word lists to see what overlapped.

We picked what we thought were the 12 strongest words that we could write the most about and we planned out the first three months of words. Once we got through the second month, we picked out the following three months of words for what we thought made sense for each month — taking into consideration the holidays and seasons. We wanted to pick words that we thought people would resonate with during a certain months of the year.

How do we manage this? We made the series list in a shared Google doc. We organized the words in the order of the months we plan to write about them and then we both go in and add our post ideas for each word (in different colors so we can remember who wrote what). So it says SEPTEMBER — VISION, and then under that in bullet points we add our post ideas. We consistently go into our doc and add ideas or adjust our post ideas. Once each new month starts, we already have our post ideas mapped out and we can get to work on creating them!

We don’t limit all of our posts on The Well to the Word of the Month posts — we continue to create other posts each month that we think of or that are timely to break up the content. If you decide to come up with a vision or theme for each month, season, or quarter, know that you don’t have to do every post on your site within that theme. You can do one or two posts each week based on that theme. A lot of bloggers have multiple series or columns they post regularly about, but know that your series doesn’t always have to be regular. We did a series earlier this year called The Conference Series. We didn’t limit the series to a certain time frame like we do with the Word of the Month series, but we just created the series to coincide with conference season in January.

When you think about your vision for your website — think about some words that go with that vision. Could you create a series around any of them? Is there any way to create series ideas around the seasons for the type of content you post?

Have you enjoyed our Word of the Month posts?

 

meg sig

 

 

QUOTE: NO SECRETS TO SUCCESS

no secrets to success

I think one major misconception of “successful” people is how long it took them to get to that successful stage.

Usually it takes people a long long time to get to the point where they feel or society sees them as “successful.” How you feel about your own success of course is how you define success for yourself. And it’s completely different from person to person.

The point I want to stress is what Colin Powell says in this quote. The preparation, hard work and persistence part. You have to set yourself up for success. Not just assume it’s going to come to you.

I loved this little article by Brent Gleeson — Why Success is a Conscious Decision. Made by You.

 

How do you define success for yourself? What are you doing to set yourself up for success?

 

meg sig

 

Photo by Yvonne Rock, graphics and text added by Meg Biram

 

BLOGGERS RESPOND: How Has Your Vision Changed (Part 2!)

how vision evolves

And without further adieu, here’s Part II! As a follow up to last week’s post, here’s what several other bloggers said when we asked them to share how their vision has changed from when they started their blog to now, as well as what prompted the evolution:

ERIN SOUDER, HOUSE OF EARNEST

When I started out, I wanted to blog mostly about interior design trends. Now, I blog mostly about home decor products and how readers can create their own decor pieces to showcase their individual style. It went from a hands-off visual approach to a very hands on creation approach. I realized shortly into the blog that I just wasn’t good at seeing the ‘whole’ when it came to interior design and that it was feeling forced and was hard for me to create compelling content. As I focused more on product design, which is where my true talent lies, I felt at ease and confident in what I could offer my readership – and it was so much more fun for me. It all came down to asking myself the honest question, “what am I best at?”

JACQUELYN CLARK, LARK & LINEN

My blog, Lark & Linen, originally began as a place to chronicle all of the pretty I had been hoarding via my bookmarks bar. This was prior to the years of Pinterest (I know, crazy-talk!), and those folders were hectic! It quickly became a creative outlet I didn’t realize I so desperately needed at the time. Truth be told, it began as a smorgasbord of, well, everything, without a whole lot of thought. Looking back is undeniably embarrassing – I was all over the place! Over the years though, mostly through trial and error, I learned what my readers are looking for, what they resonate with, and really began to hone in on my own personal voice and aesthetic. Though I do have many a plans for my blog’s future, my vision is still quite loose and fluid and changes quietly day to day. As of this very moment, it’s my happy place. A serene spot to document life’s happenings, gorgeous interiors and mouth watering recipes. It’s provided so many wonderful opportunities thusfar, and I can’t wait to see how said vision moulds and shifts as I grow!

LAUREN NELSON, LAUREN NELSON

When I first launched Girls of Lincoln Park in Chicago back in 2011, my vision was to capture exactly what me and my girlfriends were at the time.. girls living in our favorite neighborhood of Lincoln Park, Chicago. It was a great launching pad to really help me discover my love and passion for interiors and fashion. As years went on, I eventually ended up moving to New York City where I wanted a slight change in direction. I was no longer based in Chicago and I wanted to take a more personal approach with my new website. It took me about 6 months to a year to fully make the decision that I would be changing my vision but ultimately, I’m so happy I did. I think having a vision is key, but I also don’t think you should not be afraid to change directions after thoughtful consideration as it could lead to something greater!

TIFFANY SCALES, SAVOR HOME

When I started my blog in 2010, my vision was to engage in something that would help me avoid the couch and TV after long days at my day job. I had an urge to learn things outside of work that were more personal and fun, but I was always using the time commitment of my day job as an excuse not to learn them. I wanted to learn photography, how to dress better, how to cook more than just good spaghetti for dinner, and how I could incorporate better design into what was my new home at the time. Starting a blog seemed like the best and easiest way for me to keep track of what I aimed to learn. It was also a way for me to hold myself accountable – because ultimately the goal was to get readers who would make me feel accountable…

Four years later, those are still the reasons I blog. Blogging takes a lot of time, but doing it at the end of a busy workday for myself and other people who enjoy reading my thoughts gives me the greatest joy. I’ve learned photography, how to cook lots of delicious food, and some of the ins and outs of interior design. I watch a lot less TV, too! My vision for the blog today is to continue to learn more about the things I love and challenge myself to share them in more innovative ways. I want to meet and work with more people who know how to do the things I love better than I do. That can only bring about growth and more inspiring content that I can pass on to my gracious readers. Perhaps I’ll have the capacity and time to do those things for more than just a few hours a day one day. Time will tell…

GRACE ATWOOD, STRIPES & SEQUINS

To be honest, when I started my blog I didn’t have any sort of vision for it at all. I just wanted a place where I could write and be creative and share the things I love. It slowly evolved into a DIY blog, and then from there I noticed I was posting more fashion + outfit posts. Now, as I get a little older, I’ve been wanting to do more lifestyle content. My vision for my blog really changes as I go through different phases in life.

Image: Superfamous (downloaded on Flickr), licensed under CC 3.0, with graphics added by The B Bar

victoria sig

VISION: MAKING TIME FOR YOUR VISION

making time for your vision

You can’t have a vision statement if you never make time to fully think about one. If you read Victoria’s post on How to Write A Vision Statement then you probably already know that it definitely takes time and focus to write something like that out.

The longer I’ve been in business for myself, the more I’ve realized how important this “thinking” time is. And a lot of that thinking time comes in the form of not working, and not necessarily doing else anything either. Going on a long walk and letting your mind wander is usually a great way to come up with your best ideas. Once you’ve given your brain some breathing room, then you can sit down and start writing out ideas for your vision statement.

Allow yourself time to really think about what you want your vision statement (for your blog or yourself) to be. Once you’ve written it out (over the course of a few days, and have probably edited it a million times), I suggest posting it somewhere where you will see it every day. On your desk, a post-it on your computer, on your bathroom mirror, in your planner — anywhere you will see it constantly.

Also, each month or each quarter you should take time to reevaluate whether or not that vision is still what you really want. Your vision may change as things change in your life and business, and you can definitely adjust your vision to the evolution of that.

Do you have a vision statement? We’d love to hear it if you want to share!

 

meg sig

 

Photo via Death to the Stock Photo, filter and copy added by Meg Biram