A belated Happy New Year! Part of me was wondering whether to even post a round-up, especially since this is slightly late and the interwebs are all ‘New Year, New Me’. I guess there’s always those few days of transition at the start of a fresh year (if I were back at school, I’d probably still be writing 2016), so hopefully these reflections aren’t out of place.
I thought I’d kick-start things with a bit of self-promotion, positive things that have happened plus the best possible scenario for 2017. It’s a well known fact that we spend so long comparing ourselves, we end up forgetting our own achievements and I definitely want to be more mindful of that this year. Perhaps it’s time to start a gratitude journal?
I’ve managed to narrow things down to ten main categories and I’d love to hear from you too!
Traveling to pastures new
So here’s the biggie. I was lucky to add some new (and mainly hypothetical) stamps to my passport by visiting Singapore, Lisbon, Rotterdam, Antalya and Geneva. I try to keep open-minded when I travel and my experience in Singapore was probably the most unexpected after hearing things like ‘You only need to spend 24 hours there.’ I vlogged the whole trip and included my range of emotions after realising what a cultural melting pot it is. I guess that being a black woman in the UK makes me curious as to how different cultures co-exist elsewhere and I definitely want to educate myself more on this when I travel.
2017 best case scenario: I’d love to finally make it to India, Bali and Sri Lanka plus I wouldn’t say no to Mexico. Venice is also on the list, because Burano.
Reconnecting with places I love
I’m also the kind of person who loves going back to places when I’ve matured a bit. I found that Copenhagen is the perfect destination to visit in Summer (forget about hygge), Disneyland Paris will make you hum the Aladdin theme all day and Amsterdam was even dreamier than I remembered, thanks to this rather Wes Anderson-esque hotel. I finished off the year with family in Germany and it was the best decision yet, since my aunt always has about 12 different kinds of cheese.
2017 best case scenario: It’s about time I paid New York a visit (can you believe I lived there 7 years ago) plus my Granddad will be having a very special birthday in Jamaica.
Keeping Up The Content
The most challenging thing about blogging is keeping up with all the evolution. What worked five years ago, just isn’t going to cut it today and I did spend a few years in denial before realising that I needed to adjust my content. Ultimately posts have to have to be a lot more useful, with SEO-friendly titles and a clear structure so I’ve tried my hardest to put my own spin on typical topics like Black Friday and gift guides. I’ve also made it my personal mission to demystify blogging. I’m fed up with the articles bashing us and I want to increase understanding of this new form of media, since it’s had such a positive effect on my own life.
2017 best case scenario: I have so many ideas! In terms of blogging, I’d like to continue my interview series, share more mistakes I’ve learnt from and tips for creating an authentic blog that works for you. I also want to my fashion content to be useful in that even if you don’t want to dress like me, it inspires you to wear a forgotten wardrobe item, discover a new brand or understand why a certain item costs that much.
Collabs, Collabs, Collabs
Even though I’ve made plenty of mistakes during my blogging journey, 2016 was actually my most successful year in terms of collaborations. Initially things seemed a bit bleak, I parted ways with my management in January and had a huge awakening as to what I’d been doing wrong. My main problem is that I’ve been reactive rather than planning-focused and thanks to monthly meetings with Lucy, I’m now more conscious of the multiple aspects of running a blog as a business. Despite the initial setback, I’m really proud of the work I did for brands like Kate Spade, Jaeger and Boden and I hope to work with more dream brands in 2017.
2017 best case scenario: Consistent projects with brands I love and my sponsored content slotting in seamlessly.
I always feel a bit weird describing myself as a ‘full-time blogger’, since I see myself as a bit of a freelance Internet person with a range of transferrable skillsets. Try explaining that on a form! In 2016 I did a bit of styling for Buzzfeed, appeared on a podcast, ran a business session for Blogtacular, spoke about managing myself for Blogosphere plus I provided an award-winning voiceover for The Girlhood.
2017 best case scenario: Can I be the British Oprah please? I jest (well not really) but it would be great to ramp up my freelance writing, public speaking and finally investigate this presenting malarkey. I’m not doing enough stuff that scares me career-wise and that needs to change.
Top posts of 2016
Embracing my #BlackGirlMagic
A big thing about 2016 was becoming more ‘woke’ and finally addressing the diversity issues around blogging, even if it wasn’t in the way I expected. I’ve gone on a bit of a journey within the past few years and finally felt comfortable enough to speak honestly in a YouTube video, which has had an overwhelmingly positive response. Even though the industry has its problems, blogging and social media has helped me discover other black creatives and made me feel less alone, which is why I will continue to champion it. In terms of content, I’ve made my ‘Let’s Talk About Race’ Pinterest board public, shared some UK black-owned businesses and revealed where I get all of my super-convincing nude tights from. There’s still more I can contribute but I’m feeling all kinds of inspired now.
2017 best case scenario: Can Michelle Obama miraculously become president please? On a personal level, I’m hoping to attend more events that discuss and celebrate the black British experience as well as talking about it more on my channels.
More Hairstyles Than Vogue
Yes this is really a category. Even though I haven’t really spoken much about my natural hair journey this year (this video may explain why), I did manage to dabble with Ghana braids, a fro-hawk and a flash of colour. My regimen may still need a little bit of help, but my natural hair is healthy and I love expressing myself with various protective styles. It’s confusing for my housemates but provides me with endless anecdotes.
2017 best case scenario: A miraculous growth spurt, zero breakage and finally using up my 27 conditioners.
Finding My YouTube Groove
YouTube has definitely been the hardest platform to keep up, in terms of motivation. I kept telling myself that I wanted to do something completely different to everybody else but I ended up over-complicating things and putting way too much pressure on myself. I find that I learn best by doing so when I challenged myself to create 7 videos in 7 days, it actually helped me to generate more ideas and give me a bit of a plan for 2017. I’ve also joined the London Small YouTubers group and attended my first Creator Day at the YouTube Space for further insight, (it’s well worth following them on Twitter to stay in the loop).
2017 best case scenario: The only thing I’ve failed at is consistency so I want to upload at least one video per week to see if it makes a difference. It’d also be great to start working with brands, collaborating with like-minded people and hitting another milestone.
The Big Redesign
OK I promise I’ll stop going on about this soon but I finally redesigned my blog after a good few years of um-ing and ah-ing. It’s probably the most serious decision I’ve ever had to make and really forced me to solidify my brand values and the direction I want my career to go in. The reaction has been so positive and I can now hand out my business cards with pride, instead of having to explain that such and such doesn’t work. My post details the 6 stages I went through and I’d definitely recommend Fiona Humberstone’s book, if you fancy re-evaluating things in 2017.
2017 best case scenario: Becoming a lean, mean, blogging machine with regular blog maintenance and keeping up with UI trends. It’d be nice if I could figure out my Google Analytics too…
Understanding my Weaknesses
This is a bit of a weird one to add but my biggest challenge has been overcoming the mental blocks throughout the year. I’d thought that it was just me going through it but after speaking to other bloggers, freelancers and creatives I’ve realised that this is a universal issue and there is support out there. I’m sure that I’ll be updating you all on my progress, but some key practical steps have been joining a coworking space, a spot of CBT, opening up to fellow freelancers and starting a bullet journal to break tasks down.
2017 best case scenario: Increasing my productivity, finally getting ahead with my content and having a 2 year plan (that I don’t lose in a pile and completely forget about)….
Thanks again for supporting this blog and I can’t wait to see what 2017 brings us!