As a way of reflecting on my highs and lows of 2017, I have decided to write a blogging appraisal. This post has been inspired by friend and fellow blogger Wanderlust Chloe, who recently wrote her own blogging appraisal of 2017. As Chloe mentioned in her original post, we bloggers don’t get an appraisal. We don’t have a Manager to sit us down and ask set us goals for the year ahead. So why not do it ourselves? I loved reading Chloe’s personal post and thought it would be equally beneficial for me to take a step back and look at my year as a professional blogger.
Despite planning to ‘slow down’ a little in 2017, I have taken 15 trips and visited 10 different countries. In amongst this I have also moved to Leeds, become a homeowner and helped my best friend get married in the ‘wedding of the year’. But along with the highs, I have also faced struggles and difficulties this year. This blogging appraisal is my chance to put everything on the table and find some direction for 2018. Here goes…
The Highs of 2017
Travelling Solo For The First Time
2017 has definitely been the year of solo travel for me. Until this year, I had never been on a trip alone and I found the prospect of doing so pretty damn daunting. An opportunity came up with Visit Austria, which involved a solo cross-country adventure to 3 Austrian towns. I had to think long and hard about whether to accept the campaign because I was so hung up on the solo travel element. In the end, I decided to push myself out of my comfort zone and go for it. It was a chance to challenge myself to do something new, for the love of travel. That trip to Austria turned out to be one of my favourite trips of the year and upon reflection I wrote about 8 Thing I learnt on my First Solo Trip. I enjoyed the trip so much that I went on to take 2 more solo trips later in the year to Bilbao in Spain and Bern in Switzerland. Now the thought of travelling solo doesn’t phase me at all and I would love to do more solo travel in 2018.
My Most Read Post
It’s not really surprising that my most read blog post of 2017 was ‘How to Make Money as a Travel Blogger’. I suppose that’s because it’s still a relatively taboo subject and many bloggers stay quiet about how their income streams actually work. I prefer to be a little more transparent and I think this really sparked people’s interests. Go and take a read if you’re curious to know!
My Most Liked Instagram Post
This year I hit over 1,000 Instagram likes on a photo for the first time, which was incredibly exciting for me! I was on my solo trip around Austria at the time so this photo was taken using a mini tripod. I controlled the shutter via the Panasonic Lumix app in my phone. Who says bloggers need to travel with a photographer?
On top of the world at 7,400 ft. Today I reached Innsbruck, the third and final stop on my tour of Austria. I checked into my hotel and headed straight up Nordkette Mountain by cable car. I stopped for lunch with a view at Seegrube and made it all the way up to Hafelekar. Check my IG stories for more spectacular views #UncoverAustria @visitaustria @visitinnsbruck
The Standout Trip: New York
My travel highlight of the year was definitely my recent trip to New York in November. If you followed my New York trip or read my posts you’ll probably already know that I fell head over heels in love with the city. I can’t remember a time where I have ever been that excited to visit a new destination. The surreal feeling of excitement I felt when we crossed over the Brooklyn Bridge was something I will never forget. It’s probably the only city that has made me completely star-stuck. I now look back on the trip with romanticised memories, like the ones you might have of an ex that got away…
Being Featured as a Top Travel Instagrammer by The Evening Standard
This November The Evening Standard featured me in their roundup of the ’30 Best Travel Instagrammers You Need to Follow’. This feature meant a lot to me because they didn’t just choose accounts based on the number of followers, they looked beyond it into the content. It was a really great boost in a time when it’s easy to loose faith in Instagram.
Becoming an Accessorize Contributor and Ambassador
I have been working with Accessorize throughout the year and I am really proud of the ambassador role that I have stepped into. I have now contributed 5 posts to the Accessorize blog, which have all been style diaries of recent travels (The Lake District, Amsterdam, Puglia, Antigua and New York). More recently I have begun to also do Instagram Story Takeovers on the Accessorize Instagram account, which has given me some incredible exposure to a relevant audience. I’m looking forward to working with Accessorize more in 2018.
Working with Marie Claire
This year I was also part of a big campaign with Marie Claire and Dunelm Mill which involved three double-page spreads across Marie Claire’s October, November and December issues. The features were about the interiors I had chosen in my new home as a first time buyer which was perfect timing. I went down to London for two separate photo shoots which were an incredible experience in themselves. As someone used to creating all her own content, it was amazing to have a huge team all working towards getting that perfect shot. You can see my final feature in this month’s Marie Claire or check out their online piece on how I am decorating my home this Christmas.
My Big Redesign and Rebranding Project
This Monday my brand new blog design went alive, along with a newly-designed logo and branding collateral. I felt it was time for my blog and my brand to have a bit of an evolution in to something a bit more stylish and grown up and I am so happy with the results. I hope the redesign will give me a really positive start to 2018. If you want to know more about the redesign process and the new features on the blog, check out my post Introducing My New Blog Design.
The Lows of 2017
With all highs comes inevitable lows and there have definitely been some issues I have struggled with this year as I have adjusted to my new life in Leeds. There’s definitely a darker side to blogging and I think that in 2017 bloggers have become more transparent about their struggles as well as successes. It’s nice to see because for me, it’s very relatable. Here are a few demons I have faced this year that are relevant to blogging…
Loosing Enthusiasm to Travel
At the beginning of 2017 I had a very intense period of travel when I took 6 trips over 3 months. In hindsight, it was way too much and it led me to feel burnt out and disconnected. By the end of it I didn’t want to go anywhere or plan any future trips. We were on the brink of getting the keys for our new house and for once I just felt like staying put and ‘nesting’ in our lovely new home. I wrote about my feelings in a post called My Big Travel Blogging Confession, in which I shared that I was worried I was falling out of love with travel (for someone who’s blog and business revolves around travel, this was quite a big thing to admit). After that I took a much-needed break from blog-related travel in September and October, which was so nice.
Now that some time has passed, I have a bit more perspective on the situation. I went hard and fast on the travel at the beginning of the year, then had to rein it in towards the end of the year and turn down lots of exciting trips. If I had just taken the trips in moderation in the first place, I may not have had the feeling of burnout and may not have felt like I was falling out of love with travel. Fortunately, by the time my trip to New York came round in November I was itching to get back on a plane and discover somewhere new. My travel bug is definitely back in full force but I have realised that I do want to travel in moderation and only travel to places that really excite me. This is an approach I will definitely be taking into 2018.
I often say to people that my working days are one of two extremes. When I am travelling, it’s often in a very sociable capacity where I am constantly surrounded by people. When I am working from home all day, it can be incredibly solitary and lonely. The majority of my working days are spent working at home. Don’t get me wrong, working from home does have lots of perks, but when it’s just you in an empty house all day it can be extremely lonely and finding the motivation can be difficult. I am definitely a people person and I bounce off other people’s ideas and energy, so I often crave social interaction when I am working from home. I am basically an extrovert in an introvert environment.
Luckily I have found simple ways to break up my days and get me out of the house (I mostly just go to gym classes for a bit of human company!). But short walks to the shops and running errands definitely help too. Working from home definitely isn’t for everyone, but I am learning to find ways to cope and get the most out of it.
Fear of Missing Out
Since leaving London in July 2016, I am always racked with a fear of missing out. There are so many events I have to turn down and meetings that I can’t arrange because most companies and agencies are down in London. But moving to Yorkshire was part of a bigger lifestyle choice that ultimately is more important than getting free champagne at events and possible networking once a fortnight. I try to go down to London every couple of months and take a group of meetings all at once but if something really is that important, I can just jump on a train and go down. Ultimately I am so happy to be living in Leeds and definitely don’t regret leaving London, although I think an element of FOMO will still remain.
Plans and Goals for 2018
This is my last official ‘working day’ before giving myself time off for Christmas in which I plan to totally switch off from social and emails. I want to come back rested, revived and ready to start my 2018 blogging journey. Here are a few things I plan to do in 2018…
Start a Monthly Newsletter
The new blog design has definitely given me a really positive boost and I am also going to be starting a monthly newsletter in January, so make sure you’ve all subscribed!
Be More Selective About My Travels
To avoid any more travel burnout, I know I need to be more selective about my travels and make sure that they’re spaced out so that I have time to spend time at home and re-set before the next trip. One trip a month will be my limit and if the right trip doesn’t come along for me then I’m not going to panic about having a month without travel.
Welcome More Contributors to The Travelista
This year I started a blogger series called ‘A Local’s Guide to’, in which I invited travel-savvy ladies to write city guides about their hometowns or the city that they call home. I have had some amazing contributions covering Edinburgh, Sydney, Dubai, Liverpool, Doha and Wellington and each post has helped to add a new destination to blog. I want to invite more people to contribute on The Travelista next year and perhaps even explore welcoming regular contributors. If you’d like to contribute a post or a series of posts to The Travelista then please do get in touch!
Introduce More Lifestyle Content
Alongside my travel content, next year I want to experiment with more lifestyle posts about my home life in Yorkshire, along the lines of this post; Lady Betty’s Afternoon Tea at Betty’s Tea Room. It will be interesting to see how this type of content does on my blog because for many it will be much more relatable than the long-haul and exotic travel posts. I’d love to know what your thoughts are on this?
To balance my working life, I am going to take more time to look after myself. I used to feel guilty for taking time to go to the gym in my lunch break, but now I see it as a way to balance out my day. I’ve recently started going to pilates and I absolutely love it. I find it so relaxing and all the stretching is perfect if I am going to be sat at my desk all day. Full body massages are also my favourite thing in the world, so I am going to treat myself a bit more to have some locally.
The Travel Plans
So far my 2018 travel plans looks like this;
- January 2018 – A trip to Chiang Mai in Thailand and a 1 night stop over in Doha with Qatar Airways and Shangri-La Resorts
- February 2018 – A 6-night trip to Alberta in Canada with Travel Alberta. I’ll by flying in to Edmonton and out of Calgary and I’ll be visiting Lake Louise, Banff and Jasper along the way.
- March 2018 – An influencer trip to Belfast and Northern Ireland with Hastings Hotels.
If you’re still reading this post, then thanks for saying with me throughout all the ramblings! Writing this post has definitely been a nice way to reflect on the year just gone and has reminded me of how much I have done. I plan to take a positive out of all of the negatives and I feel like I now know exactly what I need to do to stay sane and happy as a full time blogger.
As this will be my last blog post before Christmas, I just want to say thank you to all of you for following and supporting my blogging journey. Without your interest and kindness I would not be where I am today.
Wishing you all a Merry Christmas, a Happy New Year and successful 2018, Love Jess X
What did you think of my 2017 blogger appraisal? Is there anything I wrote about that you can relate to or give advice on? Has this post inspired you to write your own appraisal post? I’d love to hear from you so please leave me a comment in the box below.