As my blogging e-course wraps up, I left our students with a pretty heavy duty podcast called, “The Future of Blogging + The Internet” where I made some big predictions on where I see blogs in the days ahead. Yeah, I’m not exactly the kind of person that quietly exits a room. Go big or go home.
Thing is, I wanted those 350 students to walk away from class really thinking about the future and what they can do to create something interesting, not just go with the flow and passively let blogging morph into whatever. I don’t want them to think that it’s okay to just sail away into the sunset and do what’s already working. Think of the WHAT IF.
If we get honest for a moment, blogs have become too same-y. If we are lifestyle bloggers, we think taking it “up a notch” is to work with sponsors, hire contributors, and have columns that feature recipes, home tours and DIY stories. Thing is, what was fresh once isn’t fresh today. Add stuff to your blog that you are good at, and have passion for. Not just because you think that is what you have to do. Taking it up a notch isn’t about adding something to our blog that is already happening everywhere else, it’s about adding something valuable to set us apart. Funny thing is, this also takes the pressure off because some of us don’t want to do what everyone else is doing but think we should to be hip and cool. Blogging is about being unique. Be innovative. There are so many new things we can introduce if we just sit down for a moment and brainstorm.
I’ve been thinking about all of this SO MUCH in the past year. In fact, right before I got pregnant I sat down with my career coach and told her how I felt about blogging and the many ways that I want to evolve decor8. Then I got pregnant and my focus became my baby. He’s three months old now, we’re over that newborn “hump”, so I’m back to thinking about my company again and where I want all of this to go.
We as bloggers each have a huge responsibility to ourselves and to this community to get smart and creative again. This is the internet, anything is possible. How can we reach our audience, what are we really good at, what is missing? Blogging needs to evolve beyond just template changes and new logos to feel relevant. I told my students today that we are only as strong as our weakest post. Let’s use a photography portfolio as an example. Pretend you have 10 amazing photos to show perspective clients but you think you really should have 25 (quantity is important, you think) so you pad your portfolio with work that isn’t your “best” just to look more professional by having a lot of photos. Thing is, 10 of your strongest photos would’ve been better. Those clients will only see the weakest work and judge you by that. Same with our blogs. Sometimes we have to admit what we suck at and get rid of it. What isn’t working? We always try so hard to improve what we’re bad at, well why not improve what we already are good at so we can became damn good – great even?
I’ve taught blogging e-courses and in-person workshops for five years now to over 7,000 students worldwide. I’m only throwing numbers out there so you know that I’m not just making this stuff up — I know what bloggers and readers want to learn, what they like currently, what they don’t, and what they want to see in the future because they candidly say so in our private forums. In my current class, I asked my students to list 3 blogs they love and why and also to list what things about those same blogs that could be improved. To be fair, they each had to critique MY BLOG TOO. Dear God. To say it was humbling is an understatement. I’m glad I have a thick skin and a big piece of chocolate nearby as I read through them. But don’t we need that now and then? To be shown the truth? What I learned from my students is that most of them know what works (and what doesn’t) on their favorite blogs. And most of them are right! We need to ask these questions more, even to our own readers. What can we improve? A good business must ask the hard questions now and then. We can’t be satisfied with where we are no matter how hard we want things to stay the same, they just won’t. Especially online.
A final bit I’d like to add is that we have to remember our humble beginnings, especially those of us who started blogging before Facebook went public, before Twitter, Pinterest, Etsy, Instagram, etc. were even on the map. We are the pioneers, the renegades, the risk takers. We started blogging without a clue about what was about to happen - then fame and money entered the room and the dynamics of it all changed. A question I ask myself and my students often is how are we going to change the game? How can we as a community drive blogging into the future as a relevant way to still reach others? This rests in our hands. This is our movement, we started it, we have some control over where blogging is heading because most of us who have blogs also read them. Maybe I’m just being naive but I want to believe we still have the power to evolve blogging in exciting new ways. Isn’t the future of blogging up to each one of us?
So what do you think when you consider your future as a blogger? How do you see blogging a year from now? What do you think needs to change? What is missing? What works?
There are some stores that you walk by or go into with the most captivating visual displays… You know the ones — they make your jaw drop every time! One store that always has the most amazing displays is Anthropologie. I will be visiting the London Anthro next week again and can’t wait to see how everything is displayed. For me, part of the fun of shopping at retail spaces these days is what kind of inspiration they can provide that takes me away from ordering online and gets me into their store. I would much rather shop Anthro in person than online, for instance. There is magic in a store like that.
Of course, not only Anthro does a great job with their visual displays, many smaller privately owned stores like The Cross Design in Vancouver make visual magic too. Thing is, big retailers get all of the credit for their beauty when really, there are people behind all of that who are working very hard and rarely known. Take LA-based artist and designer Jessica Pezalla. She has a background in fine art and a MFA in sculpture.
After college, she started working at Anthro in California as a display artist and today, she she runs her own studio called Bramble Workshop where she creates custom installations for events and interiors for such clients as Ella Moss, ban.do and Hermès and she works with some of my favorite bloggers on projects like Joy from Oh Joy! and Bri of Design Love Fest. You can see a clever installation that she put together for Joy’s creative studio above and learn about the entire process from their first meeting onward here on the Bramble Workshop blog.
I love how creative Jessica is – she uses every material imaginable and seems quite fearless as she explores new things. From paper flowers to feathers, hand-dyed placemats to chandeliers and woven leather stools – her talent knows no boundaries and I love it! I imagine working with someone like Jessica would be a dream. I often dream of working around creative people regularly instead of only when I work on my books… I love collaborating with others and dreaming up and executing creative projects. I often feel like I’m the only one with all of the ideas and sometimes I want others to come up with stuff too so I’m challenged. I need more creative people in my daily life – not just online! Do you often feel this way too?
Jessica – I love your work, your projects, it’s all just amazing. Keep inspiring us!
(images: bramble workshop)
Okay you guys I have a baby question. Our little guy is 3 months old and he is now more independent and enjoys playing on his own. This is great because we can grab a sandwich, answer the doorbell or take a phone call without him freaking out, squirming and totally melting down. PROGRESS. But. I did something I thought I’d never do and bought a play mat that is obnoxiously colorful, loud, silky, shiny, plastic and well, just NOT pretty. The designer in me is going a little nuts having it sitting in the middle of the living room.
And the stupid thing is not even “correct” because what rainforest has elephants and zebras? Thing is, Aidan got on that damn play mat and BOOM! I turned on the music and lights and he was silent. He stared upwards as the plastic animals dangled all around putting him into a baby trance. The hypnotic music played (the same music I now hear every second of the day even when it’s off) and sent him into baby lalaland. Oh yes, it was SHOWTIME and now he loves the mat. His eyes glowed like two bright stars – it was love at first sight. How can I deny him of THAT?
So I’m embracing the whole ugly plastic mainstream toy thing. Well okay, that’s a lie because I’m not embracing it. I’m tolerating it. The above monstrosity is the Fisher-Price Rainforest Gym and he is happy as a clam underneath it and well, that’s enough for me. When people come over to hang out, I sort of push it behind something because I never wanted to be that couple with a house that is littered with primary color toys that clang, bang and light up but I fear it WILL HAPPEN though I’m going to limit the number with hopes that I can maintain a stylish home while also maintaining a very happy baby boy.
Yeah. In my dreams you say.
Some of you may think it’s selfish to think about things like how my house looks, but I care not to please others but to please myself. I don’t want my home to look like Toys R Us. Can anyone relate?
So what do babies play with other than these play mat things? We have other little “toys” in the form of rattles and crunchy things and soft blocks. I sing to him a lot. We do tummy time. I know what to do to snap him out of his grumpy time and make him giggle. But he cannot sit upright and I can only make so many crazy faces and sing out of key for so long in a single day. What keeps your baby happy, interested and but is also educational or at least fun and not going to send him to a therapist someday?
I know lots of you will want to jump through the screen and beat me up for this but we’ve watched two episodes of Wallykazam online and HE LOVED IT. I think maybe one episode a week is cool. Is that okay though? I mean, watching an educational cartoon at 13 weeks old won’t fry his brain will it?
Chime in you guys!
(image: holly becker)
Hello everyone! I’m just thrilled to share our book party photos from our first book party for Decorate With Flowers held in Vancouver this past Friday. It was hosted by the super gorgeous interior design store, The Cross who helped us so much on our shoots loaning us props for our book. Lovely Leslie Shewring, the author, was on the scene signing books and making flower arrangements for guests to purchase and take away. It was such a gorgeous event that I had to share it with you because we are both so proud!
All of these photos were shot by Vancouver-based photographer Janis Nicolay? She photographed most of the Canadian interiors in our book. Naturally, she had to be at the book party to share in the fun of the evening. We were so thrilled when she offered to take some photos to capture the spirit of the event. I wish we could have her travel with us and shoot all of our events – she is one of the best photographers out there - I love her eye and style.
The lady in the middle has her home in our book, her name is Kate Horsman. The stunning woman to her right is her mom and to her left, her equally beautiful sister. What a gorgeous group. Thank you Kate for lending us your home to shoot in – we loved styling one of our entertainment shots in your dining room with your incredible white piano!
This is Leslie with Megan Close (The Media Relations Manager for The Cross) and Stephanie Vogler (owner of The Cross). These ladies went above and beyond for our book and for this event – we are honored! Thank you so much.
Leslie shown above with some of our guests, fans who love Decorate With Flowers and Leslie’s blog. I wish I could have been there but soon when my baby Aidan is older, I can start traveling to some of the upcoming events we have in the pipeline. Thank you again to The Cross for this beyond beautiful event that you hosted for us and for selling out of all of our books! Yay!
Our next flower party is in the plans in North America and also in the UK and Europe, but we still need to finalize everything. When we do, I’ll post our events on decor8 so you possibly may join us. To learn more about our new book, please visit our Decorate With Flowers website which is loaded with gorgeous photos for you to use on your blog and to pin to your Pinterest page.
(photography: janis nicolay)