Print and card done by the amazing kristal nicole (shop her products at @KANDSDOTCO)

Hey, friends! Happy New Year! (It’s okay to say that 19 days late, right? 🙃)

I feel like the whole of January is my “New Years Day.” It’s the fresh start that most of us are so desperately needing by the time December rolls around. It’s the month where we refresh, set goals, and say, “20__ is going to be the best year EVER!”

Even though I’m feeling all the “new year vibes” and definitely feeling as though I’ve been given a blank slate, I’m still holding firm to my promise to stick to my 24 before 25 goals and not make a million different sets of goals. That being said, smaller goals are needed in order to fulfill the bigger ones, which is why I’m setting a few specific, achievable goals for my blog this year.

One of my 24 before 25 goals was to, “start earning as much as a part-time job each month from my blog.” While I’ve learned a lot since I started taking on blogging full force this past July 2017, I’ve got a lot of improving to do if I want to consistently reach that goal each month.

Which is why I want to explain this crazy concept to people who don’t blog. Here it is. Are you ready for it? Blogging is a lot of work.  That’s why it’s quite infuriating to get those blank stares when I tell people that I blog. I just want to shake them and say something like, “HELLO… it’s actually A LOT of work!” My friend Stephanie over at Stephanie Vivienne summed it up perfectly in one of her recent tweets.

Although it’s A LOT of work, it’s been so worth it because it’s helped me learn so many new skills, and therefore gain more confidence than I’ve ever had before. The confidence has also come in part because I’m doing something I’m truly passionate about. Funny how that works, huh?

But, I feel like there’s always room for improvement. I still have a lot to learn and am truly still a “beginning blogger,” who knows a small percentage of what the experts know. That’s why I feel it’s so important that I set goals for myself, so that I can learn more, do more, and be more. I’m beggining to sound like Chidi from The Good Place who always rambles on about being the best version of himself.

But, enough chit-chat! I’m going to delve right into my goals now. These are pretty big changes, but I’m ready to make them. I’m committed to growing and improving my blog.

More Frequent Blog Posts

I definitely don’t want to replace quality content with more frequent content, but I’d really like to work on both aspects! Sometimes I just feel sooooo unmotivated to write. It’s usually when I’m stressed, anxious, and distracted. If I take the time to meditate and calm myself down in other healthy ways, I end up having the motivation to create quality content more frequently. So, basically, if I take care of myself better, I do better work. That’s why another one of my goals is to take better care of myself!

Building a Strong Community

I really admire Rachel over at The Confused Millennial. She’s created such a strong sense of community on her blog and social sites. Even though I only recently found out about her blog, I always feel like I’m being generously welcomed into her “home” (aka: blog site) whenever I check in on it. While I don’t think it’s healthy to compare my blog to other’s if it leads me to feeling bad about my own, it’s important to learn from what other successful bloggers are doing. There’s nothing wrong with learning from the greats!

That’s why I recently asked myself, “What is Rachel doing on her blog and social sites to create such a strong community?” One thing I noticed is that she writes as though she’s talking directly to her audience. Her words feel very natural- like she’s having a conversation with me. I have the tendency to overthink things and sound too formal. I’d really like to relax (like I stated in the previous goal) enough that I don’t overthink too much, so that I can connect with my audience better.

I’d also like to get better at replying to emails and comments. I don’t know all of the ways in which I’ll build a strong community yet, but with some intense study and observation, I’ll figure out some more soon!

Focus on Photography/Videos

Since I started blogging, I’ve come to the realization that I actually REALLY enjoy photography. But, boy oh boy, does it take a lot of time! I spent about 30 minutes taking the picture for this blog post. All the different angles and lighting and editing don’t make picture taking a quick and snappy (pun intended) procedure.

That’s why I’d really love to learn how to take better pictures (perhaps even get quicker at taking them) AND…. (this is going to be the biggest change yet), I’m determined to start taking videos of myself. Vlogs are SO entertaining to watch and make things a whole lot more personal, which is why I’ve decided to start going way (way way way way way) out of my comfort zone and start doing them. I’m terrified to even post selfies, so this is going to be a TERRIFYING (but exciting) pursuit.

I’m also determined to stick to my Instagram aesthetic better. I’ve done a few sponsored posts that have somewhat ruined the overall look of my feed (which probably means that I need to learn how to take photos that align with my aesthetic better). I’m also only going to post photos that align, no matter what. I hate looking through my feed and seeing that ONE photo that just doesn’t look good with the rest. It irks me- it irks me BAD!

More Personal Posts

On one of the polls I recently did, I asked you guys what would make my blog more engaging and interactive and a couple of you said that more personal posts would. This is another scary thing for me, since I feel like a lot of what I struggle with isn’t something I’m comfortable with sharing. I guess this years going to be all about stepping out of my comfort zone because I would like to start writing about those things that are scary for me to say- the things that make me feel vulnerable. I could help more people by sharing my story… and I truly want to connect more with all of you. So, look forward to some open and honest posts coming your way soon!

Higher Quality Sponsored Content

I’ve definitely put maximum effort into my sponsored posts this year, but as a beginning blogger I’d really love to learn how to more effectively do them. I’m going to study hard and learn how to create amazingly high-quality sponsored content. I want to make sure I’m doing the best job I can for the companies I work for! I also want to incorporate more engaging storytelling type of sponsored content that isn’t so bland and “salesy.”