Hello friends –
This is a different kind of post today, from my heart to yours. Two years ago, I realized I was spending so many heartbeats at work – and though I loved my job, I wanted to cultivate another part of my life. I stumbled into the lettering and bullet journal communities on Instagram, and it sparked something familiar and new in me. I started Pretty Prints & Paper on Instagram in April 2015 to channel that creativity and reconnect with the artistic part of myself.
Over the last two years, this blog, the Instagram, custom-work, has grown in ways I’ve never imagined. It has unlocked a lot of parts of me that I didn’t know could exist – being an entrepreneur, an artist, an influencer. It enhanced parts in myself that I already knew and loved – being a teacher, a community member, a connector, a sassy leadership nerd. So many great folx cheered me on as this hobby became a side hustle and a business.
It has been a month or so since I’ve shared a new post, and I go back and forth on how I feel about this from guilt to acceptance. There has been a lot going on since last summer – some of which I’m less ready to share – and it has rocked my world and disequilibrium became the new normal. I was/am revisiting who I want to be, redefining my relationship to myself and to others, plus a move and big shifts at work. Recently, my therapist and I concluded I have been living with anxiety for a long time, but I called it a different name. That’s life, right?
Being a blogger is challenging.
My energy shifted away from the blog as I was managing these shifting pieces. My focus became people rather than planning. I was faced, often, with the pressures of blogging and the need for self-care.
People often ask me about tips about how to be a blogger or start a side hustle – and although many see the perks, many don’t know the true cost of the endeavor, especially when life happens.
Over the last year:
- I gave myself the permission to post a new blog just once a week rather than twice
- I accepted not posting on Instagram every single day, and spending a fraction of the time commenting, engaging
- Shifted to experimenting with pre-structured planners because it could buy me some time during the weeks
- Many more bullet journal and calligraphy bloggers joined the community, and Instagram became run by an algorithm rather than a chronological timeline
- In May, I didn’t post at all on the blog
As a content creator, the pressure to create new stuff all the time is grueling, especially when so many others are creating too. Rather than a sense of competition, for me, it was wondering how I added value in the mix, rather than too much redundancy. Over time, this has impacted how I show up in Instagram feeds, the traffic on my site, and so on.
The algorithms incentivize us to chase numbers by playing the game, by tailoring your stuff to be what people might like, by spending time engaging and commenting away. All of that is well and good, but it revealed to me something challenging:
The original purpose of my bullet journal was to help me live the life I wanted. I felt penalized in my side hustle for living my life.
It reminds me of the question that Mark Manson writes about – “What pain are you willing to sustain for what you want?”
So, do I want blogging success enough to sustain the effort it takes to play the Instagram game, to pour heartbeats into creating new original content and blogging strategy? To choose the endeavor over other things and events? To create the time in the midst of your own life shit?
I’m not writing about this for pity at all, truly. I write this to share with you, especially if you aspire to blog and all that fun stuff, that it’s not JUST fun stuff. Life is complex, and you are always choosing. That, as you plan and design the life you want to live, these questions will always surface:
- Is my time going to the things I care most about right now?
- Who am I doing this for?
- How can I be kind, caring, and gracious toward myself in this?
I am reconnecting to my motivation and my place in the bullet journal and lettering communities. I am emerging on the other side of a big year. I am growing and am lucky if you’ve read this far down!! The support and small comments from each of you has been heartwarming and life-giving, allowing me to be real with you and gentle with myself.
My big question for you
So, going forward, I wonder – what do you come to this blog for? How can I add value to you? Are there things I talk about that others don’t?
Let me know in the comments below, or shoot me an email at firstname.lastname@example.org. I’d love to know. Thank you, always, for reading!