Blogging, From The Heart

From The Heart: Will Blogs Survive 2016?

January 5, 2016

Hello dear readers and a very Happy New Year to you! I want to talk about blogging and where I see it for 2016 but first… I’m preparing for a trip to Paris in a few weeks so you’ll be seeing lots of French inspiration on the blog very soon as I play roving reporter in one of my favorite cities. I’m also on the cusp of this blog turning TEN years old, I can’t believe it and how so much has changed in my life since I launched decor8. I’m trying to think of something special to do for the big birthday so I think I’ll just celebrate it in Paris, that seems like a great spot to celebrate anything, right?

From The Heart: Will Blogs Survive 2016?

When I thought about my blog turning 10 years old, I felt a bit emotional about it at first, then excitement, and currently a bit mixed. What is next for me? I’m still trying to hammer everything out but for now, I’ve decided: Write more regularly on decor8 from the heart, with personal experiences, feelings, observations. Hire more writers for decor8 so there is one new story here daily. I’ve hired two great food bloggers who begin this month; I’m now looking for a super special DIY/craft blogger who takes gorgeous photos and makes great stuff. Email me if you have experience and are interested. This is a paid position. Expand my topics on decor8 and Rent a large open space locally so I can teach workshops, host pop-up events and creative meet-ups. Actively explore opportunities to expand into radio, video, television, products, something that feels and fits right. I need to test and explore to see what I genuinely like and what I’m good at. I don’t want to do something because everyone else is doing it or because I feel like I have to do them in order to stay on top of my game.

I also wish to Travel regularly and blog about my adventures with my own photography and insights. Expand Blogging Your Way with videos that are inspiring and fun and products for the shop. Diversify coursework and cover even more topics that reach outside of blogging and social media. Maybe move to a new city or country. This is a big thing to put out there publicly, but we’ve been considering it. Find more joy in what I do each day and focus on what I have built, not what I need to build.

These are some of the things I’m thinking about currently for my business. There are more but this is a good start! My blog will always be the heartbeat of my business, I never want to stop blogging, it’s everything to me personally. For anyone who has authored a blog for 10+ years, I’m sure that the big TEN was a major milestone for you too. I don’t know a lot of bloggers who have been blogging this long as a professional choice, but I feel strongly that blogs still have power, are still important tools for effective communication and still matter A LOT.

Maybe we all read fewer blogs and are on Instagram or Facebook more frequently, but I honestly cannot find the quality of writing or the storytelling on Facebook as I can on a blog. Facebook is one big rant for the most part. And on Instagram, it’s only photos that pop up and though they are lovely, I crave to know what people are thinking, not just what they see or want us to think their life looks like.

Blogging is something we shouldn’t allow to become muddy through ads, tons of sponsored content and too much self-promotion because then we are pushing readers away and over to Facebook, Instagram and other social media channels – no one wants to read one post after another that a blogger was paid to write and in so many cases these days, not even sincerely write (sad to say). I personally know bloggers who have confessed to me that they disliked the products they’d written about and dumped them in th trash the next day after the post appeared – they were paid to say they liked it. But they didn’t.

I don’t want blogging to become THAT. You know?

I hope that anyone reading this, as I am also striving to do, will aim to strike a balance. Maybe 10% of content is sponsored and the rest isn’t. Or maybe you write 5 posts in a week, and one is sponsored. Come up with some math that works for you and your finances. But be cautious because the very thing you are trying to do (become more popular and earn a good living) may be the very thing you contribute to killing (blogs in general) because you are pushing too much sponsored stuff in people’s faces.

Readers honestly don’t believe the typical “What I’m writing is from heart and my own experience, regardless of that I was paid to say this stuff” blurb that you toss at the end of sponsored content. We all know that it’s a nice attempt at sincerity but in the end, the fact that you were paid still clouds judgement just a wee bit and that is often what scares readers away. When money is involved, readers suddenly question YOU.

Turn your blog into one big ad about your products, books, and clients… Well that simply can’t last and currently, with more and more people complaining about how they’re not reading blogs as much due to all THAT – beware. You could be phasing out your blog without even realizing it.

I am not just saying this stuff either. Remember, I teach e-courses (for nearly 7 years now) to bloggers and bloggers-to-be and I hear what they are saying in our private forums and even when I outright ask them, I hear ALL of these complaints above. Lots of our homework centers around what they love about blogs and what they dislike. Students even list the blogs they once read that they cannot tolerate nowadays because the content is so fabricated and soulless. I am often surprised by the blogs they’ve stopped reading because to me, their content still felt strong and balanced.

Yet everyone still loves Garance Dore and Emily Henderson. At least right now (blog readers are a picky bunch) and so why is that? These ladies strike a good balance between sponsored and authentic content from the heart. Their voices have remained on the blog and their heartfelt joy for what they do is still there and felt very strongly. I feel like I’m getting something when I read Garance or Emily. I’m learning something or simply having a good time – they can both be entertaining at times. But there are only a handful of these blogs that still exist that my students are still in love with and tune into regularly. A few years ago, students would list maybe 20 blogs. Now they are naming 3 or 4. That’s a massive decline and shows that poorly chosen content is driving people away from blog reading and guess what? We can’t blame Instagram. We can only blame ourselves because content is slipping or becoming entirely about our products or our clients.

BALANCE.

Find balance, or rather CREATE balance, and you’ll notice more readers again and you’ll notice more engagement and even more interest in blogging. I believe that people are bored for the most part with what’s being offered currently online.I don’t see Pinterest nearly as popular as it was. Who is even using Twitter as they once did?  Maybe you won’t notice the same number of readers you had during the big blog explosion of 2008/2009, but you will see people coming back to your blog.

Bring your voice back to blogging, and you’ll bring the right kind of readers back to blogs.

So this is my new year’s message about blogging. Let us all remember WHY we started blogging, and consider what you can bring, but also consider that people love YOU and what YOU are doing and saying. And they want more of that. More of YOU. What you REALLY love, what you are doing, what makes you tick. Sure, some of that can be sponsored but try to balance what you are paid to write and what you are writing from the heart. Be an Emily. Be a Garance. Bring your heart, your expertise, bring value.

That’s my blog goal for 2016. What are some of yours?

(image: holly becker styling, susanne irmer photography)






70 Comments

  • Reply Eclectic Hamilton January 5, 2016 at 10:12 am

    Thank you for this wonderful post.
    The perfect start for 2016.
    My goal for 2016: SAY NO! When you don´t want to do something. Be more by myself!

    Greetings & Love
    Innes

  • Reply Sophie January 5, 2016 at 10:48 am

    I definitely agree with balance. I recently monetised my blog; after two years, I realised I couldn’t continue blogging daily without some sort of compensation – I run a business and it was affecting my work. Monetising helped balance that situation out, it made sense to recoup the time lost with monetary gain. Although I am very strict with the paid blogging work I accept, I don’t host ads or sidebar banners, only sponsored posts and I keep those to a maximum of 3 a month. I never want the blog to become swamped in paid-for advertising that feels unnatural.

    I also think being honest with readers is a must. I publicly announced my plans to monetise the blog, I explained my motives and nobody batted an eyelid, everyone was very supportive. I think a lot of bloggers get caught up in the money and forget that the readers, who got them to where their blogs are now, are the most important aspect and annoying or upsetting them is a terrible mistake.

  • Reply Maria January 5, 2016 at 10:56 am

    Holly Happy New Year! What a nice post! It is full of ideas and fears and decisions to be made. It reflects real life. I found your blog a couple of years ago when I googled “American blogger living in Germany”. I was surprise to see that you lived in Hannover. A city I also lived in a couple years ago. Hannover is not a bad city, but I found it quiet, conservative and even boring. So I admire you for navigating in such a conservative and individualistic environment doing something that requires great network and connections. I love Germany, and I am grateful for all the opportunities I have had here. Specially financial opportunities and career growth. But I missed the “good mornings”, the random chats an connections that are easier to find and maintain in larger areas in the US. I did not grow up in the US, but of all 3 countries I have lived in, it is the only country I have easily been able to call home. My husband is German, so persuading a European to move back, moving a whole house of 5, thinking about finding the right schools in the US, changing source of income.. are not at all easy tasks. May God give you (and me) light and knowledge to take the best decision. Happy new Year and thanks for been a source of inspiration.

  • Reply Rahel | HIMMELSSTÜCK January 5, 2016 at 11:09 am

    Completely agree! And learned a lot from this post! Thank you for sharing your thoughts!

  • Reply Rose McClement January 5, 2016 at 11:31 am

    Hi there Holly

    I swear sometimes I know that there has to be some sort of telepathy going on. What a stunning article to kick off 2016 as a blogging year. I just so love your authentic and open, straight from the heart talk. It resonates with me – in fact your whole article resonates with me. Must have been about 3 months ago that I wrote an article for our blog about what I felt was happening in the blogging world ( for me anyway). I saved it onto a word document and have not yet published it. I thought to do a bit of research to see if there were indeed other bloggers that felt the same as I did – that possibly blogging had become so commercialized that it was now soul-less ( to quote your very succinct description of it). One the first articles I encountered was the one your wrote last year in this regard – and now this one. It encourages me to publish my article as well. Thank you once again for your candid and experienced voice in the blogger sphere. We need it.

  • Reply Mnêmosunê January 5, 2016 at 11:44 am

    This is exactly what I was thinking about blogs lately.
    And this is also my blog goal for 2016 : more from MY heart, less from ad, what I think people would like, etc.
    Happy new year Holly !

  • Reply Didie January 5, 2016 at 11:44 am

    Holly, I write from the heart and I defintely believe blogging is here to stay. It’s not just blogging, it’s WRITING ABOUT SOULFUL EXPERIENCES which might open other people’s eyes and hearts. This ‘craft’ will last as long as people take care of their souls.. which will be… forever!

    Thanks for inspiring us and… you keep writing about MOVING to another city/country. Would love to have you in the Netherlands but whatever you decide: move! It sounds like you really want to and taking this step will open your heart and give you al lthe new insights you are longing for.
    So, waiting for your new address ;-)

  • Reply Véronique du Blog Berenice Big ! January 5, 2016 at 1:06 pm

    This is a nice lesson of blogging !
    Do your blog with righteousness and self-respect and keep the fun !!!
    This is only décoration, not the business of the century, be cool !
    I like your words.
    Bonne année de la part d’une lectrice de France ! Bonnes vacances à Paris ! Enjoy !

  • Reply Rochelle Greayer January 5, 2016 at 1:24 pm

    Oh how I love the way a new year gets everyone things about goals, and change, and what is meaningful to them. Great post! I have been swirling so many thoughts in my head about all of my goals for many months and finally seem to be nailing a few down. 2016 will be the year for figuring out book #2, for expanding myself through collaboration and making myself get out of my office and meet people (hard, hard hard, sometimes for me) and my general theme for it all this year is it ‘re-invention’. I am so excited… but the funny thing that I was thinking about as I read this post was how I came to realize some of my lack of inspiration with my own blog (lately) has been about some of the layout re-design choices. It just didn’t seem like me anymore as I aimed to streamline, make it look like others and be something that reflects current trends in blog design. On New Years Day I brought back the kraft paper background that was part of my blog since the beginning ( I lightened it and updated it) – no more make-under white/ grey like everyone else – for me, I need my plants and flowers wrapped in kraft paper (like they should be!!) – I don’t think I can fully express in words how this one small change, a choice to be me and create for myself despite trend and fad, has made me feel. Empowered, inspired, energized and so much more ready for the year of ‘re-inventing’.

  • Reply Jacqueline January 5, 2016 at 2:03 pm

    So interesting and I appreciate this so much as right before this post I read a post on one of my other favorite blogs where they were promoting cleaning products and despite trying so hard not to make it sound like a sponsored post, it was totally a sponsored post and was a total turn off as it just didn’t feel authentic. I miss the good old blogging days.

  • Reply Melissa January 5, 2016 at 2:14 pm

    Great post! Interesting enough from what I see the trend is to not follow trends and go back to the essay style blog post, just as you mentioned above. I’m in the process of rethinking my blog as well and although at first I was very excited and willing to compromise somewhat for the chance to actually earn some money from my blog I quickly realized that the small amount of money (my blog isn’t huge) wasn’t worth my unhappiness with the content. There’s some brands out there that get it and see great to work with and I’ll probably continue those relationships but cut loose any brand that won’t let me drive the content on my own blog. I’m hoping to use the blog as a portfolio or calling card to lead to other (paid) opportunities while still having a dose of personal notes & experiences.

  • Reply Sandra January 5, 2016 at 3:12 pm

    But you are talking about doing some of those things! I never read blogs where people get paid to write a post. That is not blogging, that is article writing and your blog should be written by you alone. Not interested in being sold any products, directed to any affiliated links or even continually been sold your own handmade product. Just have clear links to an etsy shop or whatever on your blog, talk occasionally about stuff that might end up there and I’ll find it. Use hard sell or make a blog difficult to negotiate with all the pop ups, sign ups, newsletter alerts etc. not to mention all the ads and product placement and sponsored reviews and I am off.

    As a blog reader I don’t find the fancy blogs more user friendly. They can be a nightmare to negotiate and really soulless. Really I don’t, so all that money paid to get people to transfer your blog contents over to word press, put up commissioned headers instead of the quirky one you did yourself etc. goes right over my head. Blogs all now look the same. They sound the same, with buzz topics going around. It is so dull. The blogs I read are still those where people do it all for themselves. I am not looking for professionalism. No, I want interesting content (which is generally so because of how it is written, rather than for the originality or rarity of subject matter) integrity and personality. You don’t get that by going on a course to find out how to blog. That is just exploiting people’s lack of self belief and poor self esteem. People think they need to be a certain way to be read and enjoyed and that myth is perpetuated by those who sell them the magic answers to blogging. There is no magic answer though, people either have it or they don’t, contrivance for readers is not it. Not many do ‘have it’ to be honest but they are well worth finding and staying with. Less is more though. Much much more.

    A blog is a very useful marketing tool that pays for itself. The loyalty of good blogger buys from their readers is second to none – if you can achieve that. Flogging stuff on the blog is taking the mickey out of the reader and treating us like sitting ducks but really we are not, we can go elsewhere and do. It shows distain and disrespect. Yet if you have a shop or a business, we will want to support you, just don’t overkill by trying to monetise on the extras. It will end up badly. And yes if you are sponsored or receiving money for product endorsement do tell us, readers don’t respond well to lack of integrity.

    Blogging used to be an innocent, harmlessly unaware activity but now it is a product. However, the cynicism has helped to kill off many blogs. So many people now just on the make. Sad but true.

  • Reply Huub Ricardo January 5, 2016 at 3:18 pm

    Thank you for this post. I’m in several blogger groups on facebook and I can clearly see the low quality in blogs these days and it’s all about seeing how to get more pageviews or followers. Ofcourse it’s great to get readers and maybe even get clients through your blog (something I’m hoping this year) but if it’s just about that, the love for the blog.I was really thinking about why i was blogging these last month, because of all those groups i’m in it seems that i was doing it wrong, cause I haven’t had tons of pagesviews in the 1,5 year that i’m blogging. But still love to do so. That’s why this post brought me back for the reason I started and want to change this up. I’m now following more European blogs as they tend to excite me more with their content. My all time favorite will be Emily Henderson, Designlovefest, FrenchbyDesignblog & Sfgirlbybay. Those are the american ones that i really love and get inspired by. So thank you once again for this post. And even though you were not posting everyday I always checked back on when there is a lovely post again.

  • Reply julia@Cuckoo4Design January 5, 2016 at 3:21 pm

    Amen! So true! I’ve had maybe 10 sponsored post during all of last year which is what my readers just told me in my end of the year post why they are still sticking around on my blog. And those sponsored posts were of products that they know I already use anyways so it didn’t feel forced to them.
    I want blogs to stick around and wish it wouldn’t be so so commercialized.
    I’ll hope that I can keep my balance in 2016

  • Reply Sue Schlabach January 5, 2016 at 3:26 pm

    Oh Holly, you do scratch the depth of these blogging itches ever so well. My blog barely survived 2015 due to moving and other life changes (all good – but left me in the weeds about how to write about it all). So 2016 is the year I return to—and re-establish—myself into my blog. The soul stuff. The real stuff. Can’t wait to see your Paris diaries, which I’m sure will be sumptuous and rich. Happy 10! And many more.
    Sue

  • Reply Patti January 5, 2016 at 3:32 pm

    I appreciate your insights and experience. Congrats on 10 years. I am just coming up on 1 year of blogging. My blog is not monetized yet, but the jury is still out on whether I will do that eventually or not. I’m more focused on creating good content and getting more regular readers. I absolutely hate what has happened to a lot of food bloggers…I try to follow a recipe and I have to click thru a million ads to get to it. I will generally go back and find a different recipe. It’s so impersonal.
    For now my goals are just to stick with it and keep doing it little by little. It is more of a hobby for me, not my livelihood, so sometimes it takes a back seat. I’m trying not to let that happen this year. I would love to apply for your craft/diy contributor, but I think my focus is best spent on my own blog this year. And getting back to improving my photography. I go through lulls. I’m the typical starving artist w/ creative struggles at times.
    Thanks for sharing! Happy 2016.

  • Reply Barbara January 5, 2016 at 3:51 pm

    I’m so sorry that a lot of bloggers with the time just blog, to show new items, because they were asked by a sponsor. My blog is just for inspiration, I love to blog and photograph my decorations, because I love to decorate and re-decorate since a small child, it’s one of my passions, even with things I have since a long time, without getting any money or items for always new things, and I want to stay free to blog, when I have envy ! I want to remain authentic! I’m a Swiss/Italian blogger and I really are a little bit disappointed, that a lot of German bloggers make such a lot of publicity on their blog – where remains their personality ? xoxo Barbara

  • Reply Sandra January 5, 2016 at 4:08 pm

    Well written and timely!

  • Reply Karine Keldany January 5, 2016 at 4:13 pm

    Holly, very interesting article. I learned something about today’s trend. I took it for granted that most bloggers were honest and trustworthy. Maybe cause when I write, I write from the heart. My New Year Resolution is to go back to my own blog and write again. I also wanted to migrate from Blogger (very limiting) to another platform. Still not sure which software to use. Any tips for me would be welcomed.

    I wish you all the best Holly. I am sure you will rock the Net and beyond. You inspire me and I wish you continu inspiring others. Viel Glück!

  • Reply bethania January 5, 2016 at 4:16 pm

    You can not say it, obviously, but I can. Be a Holly. Each time you speak from your heart, you make your blog shine. And I am a readear that have been reading Decor8 in the last 10 years, so I have been reading it through its bad moments too, what ony adds authentcity to your conclusions, Holly! Best 2016!

  • Reply Marilyn January 5, 2016 at 4:23 pm

    I love this post so much and you completely read my mind! I actually started a NEW blog this year because I’ve been working with my previously blog (Pulp Sushi) for almost 10 years and it’s totally turned in a “business” blog that I missed sharing more personal content. I figured a new blog would be a nice clean start. :) I agree that I think there will always be a need for blogs and blogging for professional and personal reasons. Social Media is great but the connections are still limited.

    A lot of bloggers I follow seem to shifting and going back to just writing less post but more quality content instead of just the fluff and that makes me happy. I rather follow a blog that updates once a week with a real post than a blog that posts sponsored content several time a day. I actually wrote a blog post today ranting about the state of blogging so this post is very refreshing and I plan on sharing it everywhere! =D Thanks Holly!

  • Reply Linda Lanke January 5, 2016 at 4:26 pm

    Hi Holly,
    Great post and goals for the new year. I wanted to chime in about blogs and how they’ve changed over the years. I’m a blog reader, not a writer, and I agree with what you’ve said about authentic voices makes a blog worthy to read and keep reading. I’ve stopped following blogs that publish multiple times a day or have too much sponsored content. Most of us have a limited amount of time to read blogs, so I appreciate ones that don’t need to produce a certain amount of posts, but rather publish when they have something interesting to say. From a business standpoint, regular publishing makes sense, especially if this is the only income source for the business. But, I also think it’s been the demise of some because the heart and soul gets lost. Your blog is one of my favorites and one of the best out there. Keep following your instincts, and I’ll keep reading. Best of luck this year and I can’t wait to read all about it!

  • Reply Suzanne January 5, 2016 at 4:27 pm

    Enjoyed reading this very much, as usual. You often write, what I have been thinking.

    I am going on my ninth year of blogging and just recently went through my list of favorite blogs and found that so many were no longer. It used to be such a wonderful way to interact with people from all over the world. Now, I think people just do not want to spend the time or thought that is required for a blog post, and would rather do a quick Facebook or Instagram post. Everything seems to have to be instant gratification. I love having my blog and writing and sharing my work, ideas, photography, etc. But it takes time and sometimes there is not much of that in our busy lives.

    Thanks for sharing Holly. I always enjoy your perspective. It inspires me to continue on my blog too!

    Happy New Year to you and yours!

  • Reply Renee @ Living 511 January 5, 2016 at 4:37 pm

    Holly, this is one of the best post that I have read in a long time. I have been blogging for over two years and this is a constant struggle for me. I blog about our home and faith. The content that I write about our home and faith is truly from my heart. I don’t have any affiliate links or ads on our blog. I have been struggling on whether to continue because I haven’t received many sponsored posts or seen the growth that other blogs have seen. However, I have seen more and more of my favorite blogs become more focused on the opportunities that come from blogging and monetizing their blog. I feel they have forgotten why they started blogging in the first place. I ask myself the question is this truly what I want and will I have to sacrifice my integrity for more page views and a sponsored post. The answer is no. I prefer to blog because I enjoy inspiring and encouraging others. Blogging is very competitive and that is the part that I am not fond of. I understand that blogging has offered many wonderful opportunities for many people and is a great way to grow a business and a brand. I may have to monetize our blog one day in the future. The important thing is to remain authentic and find the balance between sponsored post and sharing your heart. Thanks again for such a wonderful post.

  • Reply Kristie January 5, 2016 at 4:47 pm

    Love my blog more…that is my 2016 resolution. Stop trying to evolve into a Facebook Instagram blogger and actually use the blog I have been invested in for the last 7 years to the best of its ability. I need to be more loyal to the readers that show me the same love back. Even if they don’t comment I hear and see them there and I should acknowledge that….I wish they would be more vocal but I can’t ask for more than loyalty. Thankyou so much for the read😊

  • Reply Emily, Our house now a home January 5, 2016 at 5:00 pm

    This is such a breath of fresh air! I have been blogging for two years, just hit that mark. I am getting to the point where I have to choose where I want my career and blog to go. I adore the personalities behind the blogs. Yes, their homes are stunning. But I want the story of the person, the people in the home. It helps me relate and come back for me. I have stopped reading a few blogs as well who just push out sponsored content. I get it, I am a blogger and having someone pay you for that is a glorious thing. Home decor bloggers especially because we have to pay to decorate our homes. Finding that balance is key and each blog and audience is different. I can only imagine the pressure of a big blogger like you is under. My readers are still small-ish and nice. No high expectations or years of commitment from them. Congrats on the 10 years, that is huge and gives me such hope for my future!

  • Reply Diane January 5, 2016 at 5:12 pm

    Holly, I have followed almost from the beginning. In fact, you were one of the first when I began blogging in 2007. Seems like a lifetime ago. And I have witnessed the coming and going of many blogs, some good, some not so good. I think much of it is due to the fact that most bloggers are not very good writers and writing, like design, has to be a passion in order to want to continue to work on it every day for years.

    You so eloquently explained the blogging dilemma and I hope that your advice and observations do not fall on deaf ears. I am a “paid” blogger in that I ghost write blog posts for designers and online retailers that cannot or do not want to take the time to do it themselves. It is not easy to come up with topics each week with cleverly placed keywords and copyright free photos. But without these blog posts these businesses would have a much smaller online presence and isn’t that what it is all about? In think a mix of personal stories, informative posts and promotional (self or otherwise) is a good mix that we should all strive for. And this might eliminate the burnout that so many successful bloggers complain about.

    Thanks so much for your insight. Now on to a successful and blogging 2016!

  • Reply lolabelle January 5, 2016 at 5:51 pm

    please, please, I like read your blog But I’m french and you know that frenches not talk english very well (and wrighting is just an horror) ;-)
    So, please, please, when I will can find your post and your new writing in french?????

    thank ;-)
    lolabelle

  • Reply Victoria January 5, 2016 at 5:57 pm

    Wow, thank you so much for sharing this Holly! I definitely agree with everything you said! It’s a great piece of advice to take with me as I hope to get more serious about blogging this year! I also love the fact that by having your own unique voice in blogging, you’re actually making your blog stand out!

  • Reply Whitney Shortt January 5, 2016 at 6:27 pm

    Some great thoughts in here. You motivated me to think about why and what I love about blogs. I’d love for my blog to turn a profit for me eventually, but I want it to remain a place people enjoy coming to. Hope you have a fabulous time in Paris and I can’t wait to read about your adventures!

  • Reply Elle Croft January 5, 2016 at 6:39 pm

    Yep! 100% yes to all of this. I recently wrote about being more honest, wearing my heart on my sleeve and not only thinking about the numbers. It seems to be a theme many bloggers are following for 2016, and I think we’ll all be better off for it!

  • Reply Carolin January 5, 2016 at 8:02 pm

    Your last sentence got me – straight to my blogging heart! Thanks for that!

  • Reply Alicia | Curbly January 5, 2016 at 8:05 pm

    Hi Holly!

    I want to thank you for this piece and your honest voice and perspective. It is important and resonant. Thank you!

  • Reply Maxine Brady January 5, 2016 at 9:54 pm

    Lovely post. Emily Henderson is one of my idols! I love American blogs they do feel really honest and up front – in the UK we are a little bit shy about talking about being paid to chat. I’m so new to the blogging world but it has been a wonderful experience, it’s opened up new potentials. I’m an interior stylist by trade and blogging gives me a chance to talk about what I love best, my home. Like you, I want to share my ideas and collaborate with other bloggers to make money (I love the idea of renting a space and holding a Q+A interior styling night – would go down a storm in my home town of Brighton). I’ve been lucky enough to do paid-for blog posts but they can take over (more in terms of time than in tone or style). I’m off for two weeks to sit on a beach (bliss) and I plan to drop out from social media and reconnect with what I love best and come back fighting fit ready to post from my heart {+home} . It must be a trend ;-) thanks for putting it into words. I wish I was a tiny bit more crafty for your paid for position, but if you ever need a makeover home improvement specialist………think of me.

  • Reply Dianna January 5, 2016 at 10:15 pm

    Excellent and honest points here! I agree with everything you said. I began a personal blog almost 3 years ago when I got pregnant with my daughter, to document the pregnancy and her life. It grew and I loved it and I started sharing recipes, round ups, etc and was having a blast. I started with sponsored content and quickly stopped. It was SO obvious the difference between the round ups I picked out to share brands I personally loved, to writing about something someone asked me…I mean, what a difference! And I actually cringed when I would get emails from brands. I decided to stop all that and just focus on my personal sharing. And I only blog once a week now, but it’s better for me. But guess what awesome thing happened? I realized I LOVED photography and styling shoots when I would blog and made the decision to go back to school and change my life in that way. I’m not sure I would have gotten there without my blog, so one thing will always lead to another if you pay attention and let it! Cheers!

  • Reply Brooke January 5, 2016 at 11:23 pm

    It seems this feeling has resonated with many bloggers this year…i touched on it in my first post for 2016 and loved garance’s thoughts, i follow quite a few blogs and i truly believe less is more. One great post a week is better than one a day if they are not from the heart of the blogger. Thanks for your honesty, its inspiring!

  • Reply Jennifer January 6, 2016 at 12:41 am

    Your entire argument makes me sick. You sound like someone whining about a free meal. I would never begrudge someone making a living. People — yes, this includes bloggers — do not exist solely to entertain you for free. I have no problem sifting through ads/sponsored posts because I know it’s the price of admission to enjoying content that I essentially get for free.

    Maybe you would be happier paying a subscription fee that goes straight to the blogger’s bank so he/she can write without ads/sponsored posts? Doubtful. Forgive me while I laugh at the hypocrisy here.

    • Reply Holly Becker January 6, 2016 at 7:27 pm

      @Jennifer – Who are you speaking to, it sounds like a reply to one of the comments but I cannot figure out which one.

  • Reply Sabine January 6, 2016 at 1:35 am

    Hello Holly, I fully agree and I’m once again and as always so in ❤️ with your writing. So standing out, open, from the heart. I see youtube becoming more and more important… and agree with Pinterest… All the best for your upcoming projects!
    Sabine

  • Reply Nina January 6, 2016 at 1:55 am

    Great post, thanks. I think authenticity needs to be at the core of whatever one has chosen as topic for the blog. Today there are so many fast platforms in social media, of which Instagram is my favourite that I think blogs need to reinvent themselves, or at least make it very clear what they are about. I’m embarking on major changes (that is how it feels to me), and a clear plan will save me from making if not mistakes then at least taking those vague fumbling steps in the dusk, or darkness even, which were prominent in the beginning. I’d rather write less often, but create top-notch content when I do, with a cohesive brand / brand identity across platforms. Maintaining with clarity will take up some of the time that I’ve spent aimlessly posting on the blog before, but that is okay, I want to be a business now. And speaking of which, when strategising, from the beginning I want to send a clear message of who I am, without going into too much detail from my private life. It can be a hard balance to strike, as the ‘experts’ tell you to be personal. I think ‘be personal and warm without being overly personal’ is what resonates with me, though. Good luck with that… Heh.

    And it is over my dead body that my business will advertise constantly/in your face for other businesses. And I will never push those godawful popups to sign up for an arbitrary newsletter first thing either. Chill for heaven’s sake, I just found your blog, and want to see what you are about first, before you invade my email inbox, too. The latter is for selected people only and you’ll have to convince me with great content rather than a zillion ‘freebies’, very few of which actually live up to their greatness promised. Like I said, quality over quantity. One killer blog post beats twenty halfassed ones, in particular now that everyone’s attention span seems to decrease at an alarming rate. My humble two cents.

  • Reply Sofia Sustelo January 6, 2016 at 3:00 am

    Dear Holly, thank you so much for this inspiring post! It is always a pleasure to read you. Have a wonderful New Year!

  • Reply Brenda January 6, 2016 at 6:31 am

    What a great post, thanks! My goal for this year is to blog happens to be to blog more often and about more topics than just reviews/giveaways and my week. I’m going to keep those 2 things, but then add at least 2 more posts each week about other things. I hope it brings more readers!

  • Reply Laurel Bern January 6, 2016 at 7:58 am

    Hi Holly,

    I agree with you wholeheartedly Holly. I started my blog in 2012 and for the first 2 years, no one was reading it. I just figured that I sucked, but never mind. I kept up with it. But one day, I found my voice. I was so fed up with HGTV that I wrote exactly what I was thinking. Apparently, a lot of other people were thinking the same thing and to my amazement, in one day, my page views went up six times. So, I kept going—writing about what my readers want to read about for the most part; writing about their problems—the stuff that keeps them awake at night and has them in a dead panic.

    I think if we can figure out what that is and tell it in an engaging, entertaining authentic way… we’ll have people hungry for more.

  • Reply Laurel Bern January 6, 2016 at 7:59 am

    Hi Holly,

    I agree with you wholeheartedly. I started my blog in 2012 and for the first 2 years, no one was reading it. I just figured that I sucked, but never mind. I kept up with it. But one day, I found my voice. I was so fed up with HGTV that I wrote exactly what I was thinking. Apparently, a lot of other people were thinking the same thing and to my amazement, in one day, my page views went up six times. So, I kept going—writing about what my readers want to read about for the most part; writing about their problems—the stuff that keeps them awake at night and has them in a dead panic.

    I think if we can figure out what that is and tell it in an engaging, entertaining authentic way… we’ll have people hungry for more.

  • Reply Gryt January 6, 2016 at 9:06 am

    Hej, super reading your plans and ideas for the future. Adventures will begin for you! I wish you an inspiring yourney. also inspiring for others 💙

  • Reply Tinka January 6, 2016 at 9:50 am

    I prepared a blogpost in which I mention the topic of sponsored posts, too! I totally agree with your opion! Thank you for that! I am looking for your new blogpost as well.
    Tinka

  • Reply Alexandra Stuart-Reckling January 6, 2016 at 9:58 am

    Hi Holly!
    I always love your Blog and it is, in fact, one of the few that I still read.
    I love your authenticity and honesty – and of course the prettiness that you always create.
    I think it all comes down to our truth and integrity in a mad world of the opposite in social media.
    Thank you again for the inspiration.

  • Reply Helena Tsangaris January 6, 2016 at 11:48 am

    Hi Holly! Loved reading this article. I’m actually just starting my blog so I guess my goal for 2016 is to not give up. That said, I love your blog and I’ve been following it for quite some time (years) now and I’m very glad to hear you’re here to stay! Best wishes!

  • Reply Tina January 6, 2016 at 3:34 pm

    Thank you Holly! Your post is so motivating and will keep me going in 2016.

  • Reply T Butcher January 6, 2016 at 4:40 pm

    Alleluia! :)) The last sentence – that’s what blogging is all about. Unfortunately, many of us forgot it…

  • Reply Sabine January 6, 2016 at 4:47 pm

    Thank you Holly, for your open, honest words. I so enjoy reading this kind of your posts. Fully agree with pinterest…. and I see youtube becoming more and more important.
    Thank you and all the best for your upcoming projects, looking forward to it!
    Sabine

  • Reply Jesica January 6, 2016 at 6:45 pm

    Congrats on the big 10 year blogiversary, that’s so huge! I love your thoughts on striking a balance with sponsored content and the purity of blogging from the heart. My blog is still quite new, and although I’m hoping to monetize it in 2016 I wholeheartedly agree that it’s important not to overdo it! Some blogs do sadly just become one big branded billboard and that’s no fun for anybody.

  • Reply Kreetta January 6, 2016 at 8:10 pm

    A good writing Holly. Thank you! I never liked so much easy trends I prefer fashion because I think it has more soul than trend but I’m not talking about clothing or interior fashion etc. I think you can be fashionable when you have a personal style. Unique style is something you can’t copy. I think the importance of YOU that you are talking about is the key for everything.

  • Reply Amy Wax January 7, 2016 at 12:46 am

    I truly enjoyed reading this post Holly. I have been writing for more than a year and a half and I feel like I am still finding my voice. There are some posts I am so happy with, and others I want to rewrite as soon as I post them! I look at early posts and it helps me because I realize how far I’ve come. What it has come down to for me, is looking at it when I am done and thinking to myself would I find this interesting? Would I have enjoyed reading this? I know people tell me that they really enjoy reading what I’ve written (Color911.com) but as a writer and artist, I feel that it really takes time to get it just right. I appreciate your post, it proves that writing it more about the part of you that you are eager to share, than anything else!

  • Reply Melissa January 7, 2016 at 6:24 am

    Happy New Year Holly! Thank you for sharing your thoughts, your heart, your plans and dreams for the new year. I took your Blogging Your Way class in 2011 and I would love to take it again and it would be even more amazing with video content! I’ll be on the lookout for that! I’m so glad you will continue to do workshops and teaching live classes. I’d love to jump over the pond and take one. One of my goals is getting out from behind the computer and spending more time in live workshops, teaching live classes myself and meeting people face to face.

  • Reply Catherine January 7, 2016 at 2:03 pm

    I have just started a blog, after years of intending to but never quite doing it. In fact, I think it’s the passing of my mother a couple of months ago that got me going–I used to email her daily with tales about my life in the south of France, and as a result I never quite had time to also write about it for a blog. I’m going to channel my energy to her now via the blog. There’s a fundamental need to write, to create, to share.

  • Reply Duckie January 8, 2016 at 1:06 am

    This post is everything I’ve been thinking in my head lately. I admit, I’ve gotten a bit too carried away by offers of free stuff and paid reviews and I see now that my blog really suffered from all of it. This year, I aim to write more meaningful posts and get back that passion that I used to have for blogging and writing and connecting with other bloggers.

  • Reply BODIE and FOU January 8, 2016 at 9:57 am

    I think there is still a future for great blogs and I believe this so much that after ten years running BODIE and FOU, I’m now selling it to move on to new adventures and one of them is spending a lot more time on the blog.
    I agree with you, Instagram is great for visual inspiration but when it comes to real expression, nothing beats a blog post and personally I love blog writing and the connection it creates with like-minded people. It can be incredibly powerful

  • Reply carolina elizabeth January 9, 2016 at 2:38 pm

    Oh, I’m so thankful that you blog. It is one of my sources of inspiration. Having a blog for several years now, it’s easy to understand that it can be time comsuming. However, aside from being a working artist, I am also a teacher full time. I don’t ever want to stop doing either. Blogging connects both worlds for me–I can paint and connect with art collectors all over the world, but I can also share a bit of my journey and lessons I’m learning. THANK YOU for inspiring. I hope it lasts for a LONG LONG time! Best wishes in this new year. Carolina Elizabeth

  • Reply Sara January 10, 2016 at 6:49 am

    This is a great note to start 2016 out with!
    Thank you for sharing.

  • Reply M.B. January 10, 2016 at 10:14 pm

    Being in the blogging/internet world for nearly 8 years myself, it is a balancing act of time and earning a living.

    When I get a little overwhelmed, I look for efficiency, such as the use of templates when posting and saving 20 minutes a day.

    It is the little things that can add up.

  • Reply Adrienne January 11, 2016 at 3:54 pm

    Amen, Holly! It’s so good to hear you say these things. For me personally, a good blog is something to be cherished. I will always be on the lookout for good blogs and my hope is that there will always be people like you that continue to do it well and “from the heart,” as you say. Keep up the good work!

  • Reply Kaho January 12, 2016 at 4:01 am

    I love how you wrote, Holly. “Balance” really struck me. I need to create it. I look forward to reading more on your blog and I hope one day I can meet you somewhere in the world!

  • Reply Hana January 12, 2016 at 9:28 pm

    I hope blogging will stay alive! I feel inspired of many blog posts, especially those which are personal and written from the heart. I try to do that too on my blog. I believe blogging will die only when the bloggers with a voice will lose that voice. Until then, we are safe :)

  • Reply James Thomas January 14, 2016 at 6:35 pm

    Great points here! I recently chose to end a blog that I started in 2005 (http://bicycledesign.net/), partially because I just wasn’t comfortable with the idea of posting any sponsored content. I had begun blogging out of a passion for the topic, but at some point I realized that I was sort of just going through the motions with posts to because I knew that a lot of people were reading. Calling it quits after ten years was not an easy decision, but I do believe it was the right choice for me. I still value the experience and am truly grateful for the many smart and talented people I met through blogging for over a decade, but I am excited about moving on and freeing up more time for personal design projects.

    …and I will still keep my smaller personal blog as a place to occasionally (likely very occasionally) write from the heart.

  • Reply Jackie P Neal January 18, 2016 at 1:46 am

    hello Holly,
    This is my first visit and will not be my last! What an excellent post! I find your honesty about blogging and selling yourself is refreshing. I do hope readers listen and learn from you!
    If you don’t mind, I would like to include a link to your post on one of my up coming posts. I do believe that many of my readers will enjoy this read as much as i!
    Thank you so much for sharing!
    ps…what kind of makes do you need ? I am a self taught mixed media artist- check out my blog to see if my art would interest you or serve the spot you are looking for for your blog!
    warmly,
    Jackie P Neal

  • Reply Dany January 19, 2016 at 10:59 pm

    This is such an incredible post! Everything you said really got to me. I’ve been having a really sad experience with the new highly sponsored youtube and I am actually reading more blogs because of that. But it has been really difficult to find bloggers that write from the heart and not because they got paid to do it. It’s also hard to be in this community and not get carried around to write posts that are trendy and try to create a false image of yourself because ‘it’s what people like’. I had to do a lot of soul searching for the past month to see where I wanted to go with my blog and as you said, I do not want my blog or my life for that matter to go down that road. Your post was an incredible inspiration for me right now. Thank you for your words!

  • Reply m'liss January 21, 2016 at 10:12 pm

    I haven’t read all of the comments so I may be repeating what others have said, but many blogs have become all about the products. Most of the blogs that I followed years ago for great writing have turned into online shopping malls. Early blogs that rose to the top quickly did so because of great content, which had been missing from printed publications as they became glutted with ads and “canned” copy.
    Good writing & valuable content should be profitable without so many ads. It seems like those who have been most successful at it have written books.

  • Reply Tammy January 22, 2016 at 3:14 am

    Found your blog via Seth Apter’s 1/17 Week 85 Links

    I’ve been blogging since ’06 (with a few years of diminished posts because of health issues) and recently decided, as my personal life recovers, that I wanted to get back into it. I started looking around at the favorites that I used to visit and so much has changed.

    It was surprising when there was a big surge a few years ago as everyone started an online journal, then there was the increase in sponsored blogs (more than I ever imagined there were sponsors for), to a recent decline in blogs all together as many throw in the towel and move to an Instagram only channel. I miss the creative voices and conversations that we used to all have in comments, emails, and even in Twitter.

    This month, when I thought about all the work I was getting back into, and the idea of quitting crossed my mind, I couldn’t bear it – that’s how I knew I still had the passion to keep blogging. I don’t have a sponsored anything – but I do use affiliate links, and approach them as offering a resource for supplies that I may be using in a craft project, or for a book that I’d recommend. My goals are simple – my site is an online journal, to share & put my projects out there and hopefully inspire someone else to work on something creative and then share it forward.

    Thanks for this post & Happy 10 year anniversary!

  • Reply amanda gates January 31, 2016 at 10:17 pm

    Holly
    I only just saw this – mainly because I too have stopped reading blogs! haha I was one of those bloggers who jumped on the bandwagon in 2008. As you said, it was in fact an explosion! Blogging communities were every where, blogs were authentic and real and I felt like it was more authentic and intimate. Many of the bloggers I followed became close friends, and I’m thrilled when I get to see them at events.

    I’ve blogged for 8 years. I have only done two sponsored posts in that time. Mainly because I refused to put any product up that I didn’t believe in. And I only recently put up a few ads on my sidebar because they were brands I believe in and use personally for my business. October 2015 was the first month that I ever made a dime off my blog. It was pretty exciting! I made $50 and I was proud of that $50 because it was for a promotion to help people feng shui their bedrooms for better well-being. Now that’s something I can get behind.

    And Im glad you think blogging isn’t going away – because I love my blog and its why I still do it to this day!

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