Why I'm still blogging after two years?
Yes it’s been two years since I created Skirting Boards & Chandeliers and the two year mark seems like a great opportunity to reflect over the past twelve months (you can read about my first year here if you’re interested) as well as really consider and realign what I’m doing with my career, business and life. The boundaries are sometimes blurred between everyday life and time spent working on a creative business (you are always thinking and planning) but at the same time, I’ve found that some sort of balance has to be reached so that my friends and family really do get my undivided attention.
What do I actually do?
Good question! From that moment 24 months ago when I first sat with my notebook and laptop, I had no idea how that little seed of an idea would evolve a grow into something so diverse and multi-hypenated! Not only is my multi-award nominate interiors blog still running but somehow it’s evolved into a thriving photography business (you can see my approach and work here) and I also get to help people one-to-one in their homes with the very affordable Room Service. Yes in my two days childcare a week I manage to squeeze all this in as well as try to keep up with the house renovations (you can see why it’s slow renovating!) and hold together a house and family. However, I just love the diversity and fulfilment that all this brings to my life and have somehow discovered a pace that works well for us all.
All these ideas might seem a little disconnected but the link between them all is that I believe in the power of creativity and that we all need to incorporate it into our lives in some way in order to be well. So the interiors blog and Room Service does exactly that by enabling and empowering people in creating and appreciating their home aesthetic whereas the photography business focuses mainly on personal branding which harnesses that creativity to allow new businesses to thrive. About a year ago it was really enlightening when I realised that the words colour and creativity really connects these three strand of my business together as they underpin how I edit my images, take the shots, the content I find to write about and the approach I take with all my Room Service clients too. And for those who follow me on Instagram and Facebook you hopefully get a sense of how colour and creativity is connected to my own mindfulness and personal well-being and that is definitely something I am committed to learning even more about and sharing with you all.
I’m not sure if you noticed but what started out as a commitment to write blog post every week has now become fortnightly or every 3 weeks so I can really create content that is deep and meaty, of a good length and hopefully of higher quality too. Also the blog scene is changing and we consume content in very different ways than we did a couple of years ago and it seems that we’re watching videos and listening to podcasts more than ever as it’s easier to concentrate while doing other things like commuting or cooking. It’s much harder to set aside time and really read through a blog post (reading a book or magazine is easier and more mindful too) but I know that they very much still have a place. And the reason why I won’t be giving up in the near future is beyond the fact that I love writing and dissecting interiors, but that I love empowering and inspiring other people to get creative in their homes and making those concepts and strategies free and accessible to anyone who wants it. That’s what drives me to keep tapping on the laptop, secure brand collaborations, clicking my camera and then throwing it all out there on social media. It’s all for you the reader! And that’s why I won’t stopping anytime soon.
My favourite blog post that I wrote last year was one of the Journey Home blogs (I really want to write more of these) which really help me discover someone’s journey in making their home as well as our journey through it as we read and try to understand it more and how it connects to the persons who lives there. They are so insightful and really expand the design process for me. So Journey Home: Charlie’s Victorian Haven was a highlight for me and you can read it here to journey through a truly colourful and stylish home! My most read blog post that I created last year was How to Create a Triangular Mural on your Wall which was designed and executed by a dear friend and it’s popularity may suggest that geometrics are very much still in fashion at the minute in our homes.
And if it’s in any way interesting or helpful, my top 3 blogs that continue to get read every day from google and Pinterest searches are:
Why are your skirting boards white? which you can read here.
OSB floor tutorial: How we did it! Get your hands on my steps and tips here.
Interior Inspiration from the Handmaids tale. A tough watch but incredible art direction and cinematography which I had to write about here.
When I think about the things I have actually done in the last year, it really just becomes a huge gratitude list! I’m so thankful for the experiences and people I’ve met both, clients and colleagues in the industry. Some have become close friends and others that have taught me deep profound truths about business and creativity. I have to say one of my absolutely favourite moments was the Living Etc house tours last summer. A dear friend bought me a ticket and we spent a whole day together wandering through the urban maze of Hackney, having a nosy in the most spectacular and architectural diverse Victorian homes. The way they each really reflected the people who lived there as well as the incredibly creative ideas left me buzzing with ideas and a renewed enthusiasm for design and even left me feeling quite moved too. You can read all about it on the blog here if you’re ready for some serious inspiration! Here’s a sneak peek below…
Going to interiors events is always excited and Clerkenwell Design Week never disappoints (some serious kitchen inspiration from last year) and a real moment of joy and celebration was meeting so many online interiors friends at the Amara Interior Blog Awards and having my name read out by the esteemed Michelle Ogundihin (pinch me again)! That was a great night and one I’ll never forget, especially having my husband John by my side sharing in the celebration of being recognised amongst so many talented and creative bloggers. Exploring the world and spending time in nature is not only good for my soul but also massively inspires my interior colour choices and my trips to Barcelona and Cornwall’s amazing beaches and gardens were also great moments of rest and inspiration (see those blurred lines between work and family time).
Then within my business, I am always blown away and grateful for every single home I am invited into for Room Service and the really unique and personal ways that I can inspire and empower people to achieve their dreams and goals in their own home. These are special moments to me. Within photography I have really pushed my technique and learnt lots of new photography skills and love getting to know many flourishing new entrepreneurs and get such a buzz in supporting them in this way. Recently, something that really pushed me outside my comfort zone was setting up and running my own interiors workshops. I also enjoyed featuring on a couple of podcasts (you can listen to one that is already out here).
On of the most amazing and unexpected things about having a blog and running your own freelance business is that it forces you to go on a journey of self-disovery and learning. As scary as this might sound, it’s been incredibly enlightening and empowering. I read a lot of books but I also make time in my schedule to learn from experts either online or in person events (the latter is definitely my preferred way). So connecting with myself and others is what I have realised is an important part of my journey and the mantra collaboration over competition really resonates with me. Laura from Power of Mum has really influenced me with her attitude and approach to mindfulness and creativity and an amazing masterclass by author Jessica Huie not only taught me a lot about PR but about the transforming power of knowing your purpose. Then there are the more laid back affairs like the Supper Clubs run by Craftist in Residence and The Flourishing Pantry where there is no agenda and definitely no name tags and a chance to chat over food and wine with likeminded people.
I absolutely hate the word networking and much prefer the word connecting and when I’ve got to do this with other inspiring women who are taking their futures into their own hands, creating their own careers and as well as inspiring me, some of them have become close friends.
Another undeniable aspect to mention that no-one with a business can ignore these days is social media. That beast which can be both a joy and pleasure (friend and foe) is a delicate balancing act to keep your sanity yet still propel your brand. The greatest influence and encouragement for me in this has been Sarah Tasker from Me & Orla and her brilliant Hashtag Authentic book that came out a few months ago. As her title suggests, being 100% you, real and authentic is the only way to grow and connect in a real way with people and I am so thankful for my insta pals that I’ve then gone on to meet in real life. So embrace Social Media and harness it as a way to build community and connection but also be wary of constantly comparing yourself to other people and remember to stay in your own track and keep you own goal in sight. No one else can be you so be authentically you even more.
But has it all been easy?
Absolutely not! As much my blog and business brings me joy and deep satisfaction (and a lot of fun) there have still been some bumps in the road and challenging moments. As I've already alluded to I feel that I have so little time and thanks to wise ladies like Ruth Kudzi, in some of the earliest advice to me is the reminder that you must make time for yourself to recharge and value yourself. It’s counterintuitive to do this when you’re busy and I’ve come to realise that when you think you have no time, you can actually need to create it for the things that are important to you. The sacrifices for me are less TV in the evenings and an hour of sleep in the morning to have more time to meditate, pray, rest, read and exercise which are all necessary to reach your goals and keep a clear head.
I also sometimes struggle to communicate clearly what I do. I’m so close to my business and sometimes feel like a need a copywriter or some word wizard who can help me find the words to tell the world what I’m doing in a way that makes sense. And finally as much fun as running and delivering workshops are, the immense task of marketing it was one of the hardest things I’ve undertaken to date in my business. It pushed me way outside my comfort zone in ways I couldn’t have imagined. But inspite of this it was very rewarding and I want to do more! Overcoming these things has made me stronger and wiser and I’m thankful that the older I get that I now see that ‘failing’ is sometimes the wisest teacher of all.
10 things I’ve learnt that might help you…
So taking all this into consideration, these past two years have definitely made me realise a few things that have worked well for me and help me to stay balanced and yet focussed and productive whist juggling all the parts of my life. I mean who am I to give advice on these matters but maybe they’ll somehow help you too…
Do the inner work. Renewing your mind and working to overcome limiting mindsets are crucial to growing your business and yourself as a human.
Have a support tribe and your own cheerleaders. I would say that this is almost necessary to stop you from giving up a some point when you lose your confidence in yourself or your business. You need those people who really get you and will give you a good talking to when you need it. And it’s also about connecting with likeminded people so you can collaborate and support each other.
Set goals otherwise you’ll never recognise success when it comes and will lack drive and purpose. In so many ways I have learnt recently that even trying to reach perfection is unsatisfying and damaging. That doesn’t mean we don’t strive for excellence or performing to your best but perfection can’t be reached so don’t even try doing it. And know your big why so that you can measure every decision against it and not waste time on things that aren’t driving you forward.
Trust your gut. Learning to trust your intuition is scary. This is not the place to get into how and why this works but all I know is that it does!
Never stop learning. Isn’t it funny as children and young people we scoff and take our education for granted but I’m discovering such a deep joy for learning in my adult life and just love learning new things and reading non-fiction books. Whether brilliant autobiographies, self-development or ancient texts like the bible, reading and evolving helps you grow into the person you want to become (and remember your brand is actually you).
Passion & authenticity. It’s important that you really love what you do. One of my favourite lines from La La Land is, “People love what other people are passionate about. “ Passion alone won’t keep a business going but you will give up without it! Know why you’re doing it too for those dark days when you need to keeping going.
Sort childcare and boundaries for your own sanity. Work hard when the kids aren’t around and be present when them when they are. This is my greatest challenge at the minute but I’m determined to achieve it!
Look after yourself! You are precious. Self-care is not selfish and is actually crucial for all our mental health. NO exceptions here. You need to restore your mind and body to be strong. Give time to do your favourite things and get creative. It does wonders for your soul and mind.
Be grateful! For both the big and small things. A simple thank you stops us focussing on the negative and getting into a slump. Because as Dr Zeuss reminds us in The Places You’ll Go, “When you're in a Slump, you're not in for much fun. Un-slumping yourself
is not easily done.”
Just do it! Don’t wait until everything’s perfect and learn from each mistake or failure. My son’s school use the growth mindset model of learning where effort and perseverance are praised not perfection or the final product (I know, amazing!) so don’t wait till your new website or blog is perfect, just get on and do it.
SO where am I going next?
Well I have a few plans up my sleeve! I’m currently working on rebranding my photography website to be even clearer on what I can offer clients and I have a feeling that this will lead me to rebrand my interiors blog Skirting Boards & Chandeliers in the next year too. We also have our sights firmly set on completing all the house decorating by the end of the year (seven years after moving in!) and I’m already developing more workshop ideas with different partners and collaborators to bring you more of what you tell me you need. But believe me when I say, I am all ears and would love to hear from you on either what type of workshop you’d like to attend (IRL or online) or what content for the blog. And if you already love what you see and read then let me know that too so I can do more of the same! Longer term I want to learn even more about the nature of creativity and am considering some proper academic study on it and am also questioning if I should create different content whether in video or podcast form.
The drive of everything I do can be distilled down to colour and creativity and I’m obssesed about learning more about why and how this afffects our wellbring. I believe that we need creative experiences in our lives to be fully well and this two year reflection is helpful is re-establishing these values at the heart of all I do. Essentially I’ll be doing more of the same in the coming months because I really want to keep creating free content via the blog so everyone has access to tips and ideas of how to be empowered to tackle their home decorating issues with joy and creativity. I’m also looking forward to all the wonderful clients that I work with on a more personal basis via Room Service and Personal Branding Photography. So that’s where I’m heading. Will you be there with me? Let me know any thoughts or ideas in the comments below or via any of my social media channels. Interestingly, if you read my first blog post ever, not much has really changed…
Yours in colour and creativity!
Disclaimer: All photography by me apart from the workshop by Suzanne Mitchell.