My recent trip to Amsterdam has been part of a longer process I’m going through looking at my blog, my blogging career, our family finances and lots of related things. I’m lucky enough to make money from my blogging. Not enough to pay the mortgage (unfortunately) but enough that it has been making a difference to our lives – whether it being extra money in the bank each month, or review products or events that we could otherwise not afford to do. This difference has come through hard work though. Lots of hard work, and work that doesn’t necessarily always pay a good hourly wage. There are up months and down months. Clients who pay nice and promptly, and clients who don’t pay so well and also have to be chased so much to pay that by the time they do I’m left questioning whether it was worth working with them in the first place or not.
So I’m sat here now at a bit of a crossroads when it comes to blogging. I love my blog and love writing here. I love the experiences that blogging has brought me that I wouldn’t otherwise have had. I love the blogging community that I am now part of and the friends that I’ve made from it.
But, I don’t love being constantly asked to use my brand and business to promote big companies for free. I don’t love having to chase people that have agreed to pay me money for work I have done again and again and again. I don’t love being sent a product worth a couple of quid (without being asked first) and then being hassled lots and lots as to when I will have written a “nice big review” of it.
A better balance needs to be found and that’s what I’ve been trying to do for the last month or so. When I started blogging it was before I had children, and whilst I was still working. Our financial needs were very different to today, and our family life was very different. My blog has organically grown and changed over that time whilst I’ve not had much time to put in to shaping where it was going. Now is the time to direct it a bit more though.
I want to go back to writing about the things I want to write about, the things that make me smile, rather than the things that arrive in my email inbox. There are some brilliant brands that I’m working with right now and I want to put my effort into working properly with them and developing that relationship I have with them. They are brands that make me smile and make me happy.
Over the last two years all my crafting has taken a back seat – it’s hard having a sewing machine or knitting out with an enthusiastic baby or toddler trying to help – but I want (and possibly need) to get back to my craft. It’s what grounded me and helped me relax. September and early October saw me to go the Handmade Fair and also the Knitting and Stitching Show and both visits made me realise what it is I really want to be doing in the future.
The moment that really cemented all this for me was when I heard Katie Searle-Williams speak at Meet The Blogger. She is the founder of Kinfolk magazine – a beautiful publication all about “The Simple Life”. It really is lifestyle inspiration – beautiful people sat around lazily, eating gorgeous food, lovingly grown and cooked at home. The meals are taken sat at a vintage style designer table, laden with rustic home wears, and everyone is dressed beautifully. It really is idyllic, and to be honest I’d dream of a lifestyle like that rather than a kitchen over run with plastic toys from China and a quick and easy dinner of frozen food to fit in with my busy lifestyle.
But is this really a simple life? When you look up a dictionary definition* of simple some of the words and phrases that come up are: not elaborate or artificial; plain; not ornate or luxurious; unadorned; modest; not complicated. As I sat listening to news of the Kinfolk home-wears and clothing ranges being launched I couldn’t help but wonder about the cost of all these things and that to me jared with the “simple” concept. Surely a really simple life is one which makes use of the things around us rather than requiring us to buy new things to live it. It all just sits uneasy with me.
I would say that so many previous generations, especially my grandparents generation in war time, lived a simple life, but that was one through necessity rather than fashion. They were thrifty and economical with what they had. They grew fruit and veg because they had to. Gifts were handmade due to limits on what was available in the shops. They used up leftovers as it was seen as a crime to not do so, especially with rationing in place. Children played with what they had as toys were just not as abundant as they are now. People made their own entertainment. To me that is the real simple life. And it’s the simple life that I want to embrace and blog about.
I’m not saying that I’m never going to buy anything new again, or stop buying toys for my children, but I do want to slow things down and stop feeling all this pressure to have to buy simple things to live a simple life. I want to build memories with my children that are based on experiences rather than expensive extravagances. I want to spend time making things that become treasured possessions rather than spending money to buy in a lifestyle. I want to make the time to sit and enjoy a good book rather than rushing from one thing to another. And I want to blog as I do so.
It may make us a bit cash poorer in the short term, but I have hopes that I can build my writing and other work back up to sit around this real simple life and to do so in a way that I feel more content with. Until then some belts may need to be tightened, but I’ve come to realise that being happy is what matters most to me and my family. Life’s too short and my children’s childhood too precious to be otherwise.
* taken from http://dictionary.reference.com/browse/simple