2017 was my second year of blogging and I was in full planning mode at the end of 2016. I was buzzing with ideas for content, and was busy setting goals for the year ahead. I followed all the good goal setting advice and made sure that my goals were all ambitious and measurable, and that meant I ended up setting a lot of goals around numbers. Because that’s the measure of a successful blog, isn’t it? Follower numbers, page views, rankings – I had all kinds of goals that I was determined to achieve in 2017.
And the reality is that I haven’t achieved any of them.
There are all kinds of reasons for that, a newborn baby being just the biggest one. The main target I set myself was increasing my Instagram followers from 3000, to 6000. Admittedly a fairly ambitious target, but with the growth I was having I felt it was just about achievable, and a focus on improving my photography was very much where I wanted to go.
Then those dreaded algorithm changes hit me hard. Instead of gaining followers, I spent May to September haemorrhaging them, losing around 200 a month.
I think that would have been a bitter pill to swallow, even without having set my goal, but realising that I had no hope of hitting it was very disheartening. I ended 2017 with just over 4000 followers and my approach to Instagram has changed dramatically over the year.
I now post more of the photos that make me happy, without wondering whether my ‘ideal reader’ will relate to it, or like it. I’m not as concerned with the number of likes a particular photo receives – the photos you don’t expect to do well will always surprise you, while the ones you think are beautiful and exactly what your followers would like can often bomb. I’m trying to enjoy posting and scrolling on Instagram in a more natural way, following accounts I love, without worrying whether they follow me back or not, and engaging more with the accounts that I do follow. It’s been eye opening. I’m getting far more satisfaction out of Instagram as a platform, and I’m able to see it as my happy place again.
And that’s an approach that I’m taking forward with me in my goal setting in 2018. My goals this year aren’t about numbers; they’re about pursuing the things that make me happy and developing creatively. When I started blogging, I loved it as a creative outlet, and that’s what I want to rediscover in 2018.
By identifying Instagram as my area of growth last year, what I was actually saying was that I wanted to focus on developing my photography, and that’s what I’m planing to make my focus this year. I’ve invested in Lightroom and Photoshop, and I’m slowly getting to grips with what I can do with them both. I’m determined to properly master manual exposure (I generally shoot on Aperture Priority at the moment), and I’m trying to be bolder in the situations I choose to shoot, taking photos indoors and in lower light situations.
Equally, I want to rediscover my love of writing. This year has been a killer for me in terms of writing personal posts. When you’re so tired you can barely form a coherent sentence, writing a heartfelt blog post is next to impossible. So the balance between personal posts and sponsored posts in 2018 has been far more towards the sponsored side than I would have liked. Now that we’ve got past the worst (I hope!) of the sleep deprivation, I’ve rediscovered my inspiration. At this point in time, I’m brimming with ideas for personal posts, so it’s about finding the time to sit down and actually write. To emerge from the newborn haze and rediscover my own voice.
For me, blogging just doesn’t work as a numbers game. There’s definitely a satisfaction in watching your stats grow, and it’s great to have a way to measure success in a world that often doesn’t offer much in the way of recognition. But the reality is that my stats did increase in 2017, albeit not as much as I’d hoped, and I still wasn’t satisfied. I don’t think I would have been satisfied even if I’d achieved my ambitious targets. For me, I need my blog to be that personal creative outlet, or it just doesn’t work for me.
2018 is going to be a year where I push myself creatively, rather than chasing numbers. I want to be able to look back at the end of the year, and see the progress I’ve made in my photography. I want to document the moments that make up the tapestry of our family life – the first steps, starting school, the holidays, the days out, the trips to the beach. I want to finish the year and be able to look back on what I’ve achieved and have a smile on my face at the memories as I read through the posts and look through our photos. And although those goals might be less tangible, less measurable, than the ones I set last year, I hope that the satisfaction from working towards them will be more fulfilling both for me, and for my readers.
To every single person out there who reads Hot Pink Wellingtons, thank you for sticking with me through 2017. I have a really good feeling about 2018, and I’m looking forward to sharing our adventures with you all again over the year ahead.