Real talk: Blogging woes, (not) keeping up with trends, and the future of this blog

2017 has been in full swing for the last week, yet here I am dilly dallying on getting the first post of the year published. Why? I struggled (and continue to struggle) with putting my thoughts into words. Taking a break from blogging over the winter break gave me a chance to reflect on how crazy 2016 really was. Last year, I found myself struggling to balance between spending my free time blogging vs keeping up a social life vs personal time for myself. While it may be obvious for some to draw boundaries and let creative outlets (i.e. this blog) fall to the back burner, I started to feel the pressures of not wanting to get left behind in the blogging world.

moorea seal tassel necklace
(April 2016: Adventures in the city)

As a blogger who started before blogging was even seen as a plausible career, I’ve seen and felt the pressures of constantly staying on trend, making frequent posts, all whilst staying active on social media. While the balancing act of maintaining a regularly updated blog was doable between my full time jobs in the past, 2016 proved to be much harder. I was on and off the road for work almost every 2-3 weeks. When on the road, I would be at my job for 12+ hour days, falling asleep immediately after walking in the door to my hotel room. All I wanted to do when I was home was cuddle my cat, catch up with friends, spend time with my significant other, and fold warm laundry fresh out of the dryer. There would be full weekends that I would completely avoid checking my inbox or social media because I wanted to be unplugged and enjoy being present for those around me. It’s the little things that help to keep me sane and grounded.

The little time that I had set aside to blog is when I felt the pressure most. I will always be grateful for all of the sponsors and brands who choose to work with me. With bloggers on the rise, I know there are endless options of influencers to choose from and I am ecstatic when my aesthetic and voice matches that of a brand’s.

When I look back on these posts, I feel two things. One, I feel like 80% of last year’s posts were billboards for partners because at least one piece of most of the outfits were c/o. Two, in what spare time I had, I wouldn’t prioritize my blog unless I had an obligation to (i.e. had a post with c/o items that had a deadline) which is what lead to the previous point. While 2016 was the best year for collaborations, I also wish I didn’t feel the obligation to blog because of said partnerships. That pressure of keeping up with collaborations because I saw other bloggers working with them, having the latest and greatest, etc, played a big role.

women's athleisure outfit ideas
(March 2016: Kickin’ it with the cool kids)

Specifically to fashion, 2016 was a transformational year for me. Not because I was the trendiest or because I provided inspirational outfits… it’s actually the total opposite of that. One thing that I didn’t talk about on the blog at all was how I cut fast fashion in 2016. I stopped shopping at places like H&M, Forever 21, etc, because I didn’t want to (or have time to) stay up to date on the latest and greatest fashion trends. After a 2-year long process of minimizing and rebuilding my wardrobe, I had found my own groove for style and learned how to be creative without owning hundreds of pieces to mix and match between.

Instead of supporting fast fashion, I opted to thrift majority of my new closet additions (I’d say about 70% of “new” pieces were thrifted) and made investments in pricier pieces that I knew I would wear more often. I was also lucky enough to work with brands that encompassed the same values of slow fashion, or quality clothing at realistic prices, which helped to keep my clothing budget in check.

Although I added a handful of new pieces as I rebuilt my wardrobe, none of them were real showstoppers. Majority of the pieces were either elevated basics or “plain staples” (like black ankle booties) that wouldn’t turn any heads on the blog or in the real world. There were often times that I would question, “Will people keep reading this blog if I keep sharing the same pieces in my closest over and over again?” “Maybe I should buy a lace-up hoodie because that’s what everyone else seems to be wearing… even though I have no idea where I would ever wear this to in real life.”

To my surprise, even with slowing down on the pace of purchasing and the avenue I chose to buy “new” clothing from, I somehow continued to grow my readership and trust with you all. It was great to have honest conversations in the comments or on Instagram about closet woes (like this post about finding a jacket in the back of my closet that I forgot about for 2 years… it’s since been re-homed to a good friend who’s worn it more times in the last 2 months that I have in the last 2 years) and being accepting of the fact that not all bloggers’ lives and closets are perfect.

Even though I may not be the most fashion-forward style blogger, I hope to bring a new perspective in 2017. I’m excited to be more transparent about the thrift finds and budgeting that I’ve set for myself in the clothing category this year. Part of having a budget for clothes is to force myself to continue to be a conscious consumer… the other part is the fact that I’m also now cognizant of finances required to have a wedding. ;)

I also strive to be a more authentic blogger, sharing the good and the bad for purchases that I make. As a blogger, it’s easy to share praises for brands or products that I personally vouch for, but there are equal amounts of products that I buy on my own and try and don’t have such a “sunshine and rainbows” experience with, but have been historically too nervous to post a negative review about in fear of losing potential collaboration opportunities over.

Phew! If you’ve made it this far– thank you for sticking it out! This is the longest blog post I’ve written to date, but also the most transparent and vulnerable I’ve ever felt before hitting the “Publish” button. Thank you for always reading and supporting this creative passion project of mine. I can’t thank you enough for following along on the journey and am excited to keep styling and posting work that I am genuinely-from-the-bottom-of-my-heart-excited and proud to share!

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  • I honestly can’t imagine what it must be like to be a fashion blogger – I think it would drive me crazy. When I decided to change my blog schedule to “posting when I want about what I want”, a massive weight dropped off my shoulder. And I was a personal blog to start with! I think what I value most about blogs like yours, Frans, or my friend Nina’s (www.yourockmylife.com, I think you might really like her aesthetic!) is that they all feel really honest and true to the person that you are. Yes, last year’s posts were a tad heavy on the sponsors (too honest?) but what made me continue clicking through from my Bloglovin feed is that I know no matter what, it will still be YOU putting the outfit together in YOUR own unique way.. that’s what made me follow you in the first place, after all :) So while I look forward to hearing more about your thrifting & budget (I’m nosy like that), I’m just glad you’re still going to be around sharing approachable, feasible, yet still fashionable, interesting & stylish looks :)

    • THANK YOU for continuing to follow even after all these years. I really cannot thank you enough for always reading and for your honesty. No such thing as being too honest! ;) I love the feedback, so definitely keep it coming. Just re-reading your thoughts over a few times, I am sad that I didn’t stop myself from falling down the collab-heavy rabbit hole earlier. 2016 was such an intense year and just “keeping up with the Jones” of highlight reels I was seeing on IG and other blogs made me go a little nutty.

      Glad to hit the reset button for 2017 and be more mindful about content. If there’s every anything you’d like me to post more or less about, I’m all ears!

      Also – thanks for the link to Nina’s blog! My gosh, her style direction is so beautiful!!

      • Like I said, I would love to learn more about your budget (what will that 200$ a month go for, what is the percentage of thrift to non-thrift), about your thrifting adventures, and maybe about how you remix things IRL? Like showing us 4 ways you’ve worn something or some iteration of that – those are some of my favorite posts because it always makes me have an “aha” moment about how else I could wear something I already own. Plus those posts with a nice graphic are great for Pinterest ;)

    • I agree with all of this as well! And thanks for the rec on Nina — I just checked her out and love her style!

  • You’re so honest and that’s why I’m such a big fan! Thanks!

  • You’ve always been a favorite read of mine. Part of that is because of the friendship we’ve formed, which is, in turn, because of the other part: you’re honest. I’ve realized I have three things I look for in a blogger: style, humor, and honesty. You nail all three in all of your online platforms, and that’s why I always look further into the brands and businesses you work with. If you trust them, I should too.

    One thing I’ve been requesting from bloggers I love who’ve done readers surveys lately is posts about their actual shopping habits and closet dynamics. How do you decide what you shop for? What pieces are mainstays in your closet and what have you bought that you expected to love but just never wore? I would LOVE to see more remixing of the same pieces from bloggers. I want bloggers to add less and share more of how they wear and rewear the same pieces. That’s what’s actually helpful to so many people, and it’s what I’m interested in learning from my fav people’s perspectives. I hope you keep blogging and I hope you get to share even more about whah makes your closet work for you, because that’s real and honest and inspiring!

    • Oh Nicole, I feel the same way about you! Watching you grow this year and make your body posi message known was so inspiring to see blossom!

      The shopping habits and closet dynamics is an interesting topic. I’ve never really given either of those much thought, to be honest. At least not in 2016. Every time I found myself at a store or even during my late night insomnia-induced online shopping session, I felt super uninspired which is also a part of what led me to thrifting more. Always value your input, especially because you have such a strong voice, frame of reference, and your vision is clear. This is an area I want to continue to learn and grow in and your prompt is such a great place to start.

      Thank you again for always sticking by and being so honest. Can’t tell you how much your friendship means to me! <3

  • I love your honesty here, Katrina. Honestly, I lose interest in blogs that are just constantly reviewing or promoting products–I want to feel like I’m connecting with a real person behind the blog, you know? And I have definitely enjoyed that about your blog in the past, and certainly appreciate it here. The fear of being “left being” in the blogging world is all too real, and I often have to remind myself that loyal readers and friends will stick around, and that connection is really what makes me want to blog in the first place.

    • I can’t tell you how truly appreciate I am for the loyal readership and friendships that have been formed because of this very blog. 2016 was an interesting year where I think the blog reflected one side of the story while IG was my platform for conversations and connections. Hoping that admitting to my shortcomings will help me be a better, more conscious, and authentic blogger this year. Thank you for sticking around, Jess. You are truly a gem!

  • I – obviously and definitely- had felt a lot of the same pressures you did this year about the pressure of time for the blog and keeping up with things. For me, the main pressures were- if I was going to blog I wanted to do it to the best of my abilities but that took time I didn’t have. Now that I’m sorta blogging again, looking at what it means to do it on my terms and if I’m okay with that not always being a lot of readers and/or the same amount of content becomes the new question.

    I think I didn’t notice that so much of your content was c/o or sponsored because they are items you truly seem to reuse and like. Plus, even though you might have two or so posts in a row with sponsored or c/o content, time-wise (when readers saw the posts go live), it didn’t feel that close together. I didn’t realize though that most of your closet is now actually thrifted. Would love to hear more about that, how/why you chose to go that route and, yes, I’d be really interested to see how you remixed or reused pieces.

    • Thank you so much for sticking with me, Kristian! I always love hearing what your thoughts are on blogging because you always have such an insightful perspective. With so much happening in your life last year (and soon-to-come this year!!) I don’t blame you for taking personal time away from the blog. The pressure is always going to be there, but you’re right about wanting to do it on your own terms. I’m slowly starting to learn that now too and am so grateful for this supportive community that we’ve formed.

  • Caitlin

    Honestly, I feel like you have a lovely ~aesthetic going on, and why fix something that’s broke? Your style is great, you have a great & honest voice to your writing, and you worked sponsorships organically enough that it personally didn’t feel jarring at all.

    There are plenty of other blogs out there doing the fast-fashion trend thing, and I think a lot of your readers have also moved away from that racket (I know I have), so I wouldn’t worry! :D

    • Thank you for the kind words, Caitlin! I really do try my hardest to incorporate any sponsored pieces into both my closet and my voice as seamlessly as organically as possible– thanks for noticing! I never work with a brand unless our aesthetics match, and I really appreciate you calling this out. Although I won’t be cutting out collaborations completely, I do hope to keep a more focused blog with less sponsorships this year. The process of wanting to own less and have a smaller, robust closet will be fun to talk about!