Someone once told me that when you’re recruiting people and building a team you should always ‘hire people more intelligent than you‘. Sounds obvious doesn’t it. Of course you’re going to want to find the best people to be in your team. Only a fool, or an egomaniac, would think they can do everything themselves. (ahem, more on that later). I totally agree that being a good manager is all about finding and hiring the cleverest, most talented people out there and doing all you can to make them feel happy and inspired. And part of that process involves being honest enough with yourself to know exactly how and where you need help. I follow this practice every day in my job as the UK Editor of Houzz (where I am lucky enough to work with a brilliant team of people, all incredibly talented in their own fields) but for some reason, when it came to my own blog I threw all that advice out of the window last year – and pushed myself to the point of exhaustion in the process.
Like quite a few other bloggers I spoke to at various events last year, I’d really been feeling the pressure to take a lot more of my own photography for my blog. I wanted to create original content and to own the entire process, from styling and photography to writing and editing. I felt that in order to be a truly individual and worthwhile blog I had to do that. So I really pushed myself. If I was writing about a new product I wanted to take great new photos of it in my own home. If I created a craft make I tried to create smart little infographics with beautiful text overlays for others to share. If I was at an event I ended up obsessing about getting the perfect photos on my own camera so I wouldn’t have to use any of the (actually beautifully and professionally taken) press shots available because I thought that was somehow cheating.
All well and good in theory, but a total nightmare in reality. Because somewhere along the way I lost sight of what exactly it is I enjoy and why I started blogging in the first place. I was pushing myself to become a photographer when actually all I wanted to do was write. I found it all getting a little overwhelming and becoming a chore and I seriously thought about giving it all up. Having a full time job didn’t help either – I ended up blogging at night when I was A) too tired to function properly anyway and B) it was too dark to take any decent photos and C) I was super stressed because it was usually 1am and I knew my morning alarm was set to go off in 5 hours and I was still awake and struggling to add new layers to a photoshop vector file.
I worked out I averaged 5 hours sleep a night last year and I genuinely felt I was on the verge of a meltdown this Christmas. So, I took stock of a few things. And I made a list. Because we all love a list. Here’s what I realised about myself.
1 I enjoy blogging because it’s a commercial-free space away from the pressures of my day job for me to write about my true loves – homes, interiors, country living and craft
2 I don’t need to blog. So if it’s not fun I shouldn’t be doing it
3 I love writing
4 I don’t love photography – I’m not good enough at it, my camera isn’t good enough and it takes up far too much time. And don’t even get me started on photo editing – the HOURS I’ve lost to it…
5 Other people take much, much better photos than I do
6 My strengths lie in curating content and bringing together the most talented people out there and showcasing their talents
7 I’m not a graphic designer. My photoshop and graphic design skills are really rusty, and getting rustier by the day
8 I have a full-on, crazy, hectic full-time job and a long commute every day. I need to stop blogging at 1am, 2am, 3am…
9 I need more sleep
10 I should pay more attention to the title of my blog and simplify the entire process
So I came up with the following plan for 2016 in order to regain my sanity and try to find some joy in blogging again.
The plan for 2016
1 Leave interiors photography to the experts and not beat myself up over my inability to be a hot-shot photographer
2 Leave graphic design to the experts and not attempt to create fancy infographics or title overlays for photos. There are many talented bloggers out there capable of creating those type of beautiful Pinterest-friendly images. Sadly I’m not one of them.
3 Focus on my actual interests instead. Namely writing and curating.
4 Use my blog as a showcase for all the great photographers and stylists out there
5 Write about things that genuinely interest, enthuse and excite me (and hopefully you)
6 Free up more time to explore and write about craft, country living, styling, travel, simple living and beautiful homes. All the fun stuff
7 Oh, and to take a few photos of my travels along the way, if the mood takes me, not because I have to.
In the spirit of starting as I mean to go on, you may have noticed my blog had a bit of a makeover recently. I did the redesign myself but called in the experts to help with my brand identity. I’ll talk more about the new logo and branding in a future post (I want to give a proper shout out for my amazing logo designer) but I wanted to mention the image below briefly. I spent many, many stressful hours trying to style and shoot a new lifestyle image that would sum up the look of my blog for the rebrand and I was tearing my hair out with frustration at not being able to create what I had in my head.
I wanted an image that summed up the simple, fresh, country style of my blog with a slightly ‘pretty’ feel too, and also a bit of shabby chic thrown in there, but not too twee. Argh, I was my own worst client and I just couldn’t take a good enough photo. But then, one night (early morning) whilst wandering through Etsy I stumbled across this lovely little image that just said everything I wanted to say. It had been created by a photographer much more talented than me and she was selling it as a stock photo for blog or logo use. So I immediately gave up trying to create my own, bought this one and have been using it across my social media channels since. All credit to the talented Jenna Redfield Designs for creating it.
Here’s to a happy, creative and joyful 2016 for us all.
Images: Jenna Redfield Designs / Little Greene Paint Company