A Travel and Lifestyle Blog

Reflecting on my Blog Year (and Plans I have)

December 29, 2019
Reflecting on my blog year

My friends and family often ask me why I write my blog. They question why I dedicate so much time and effort to it. Why I at times, stress myself out finding the time to write it. In their eyes, it is not my job, I do not get paid for it, so why? The answer is simply that I love it. It has become so much more to me than just documenting my travels. It has become my haven. My escape in the darker days of Nik’s cancer. My way of trying to encourage people to experience as much of life as is possible for their circumstances. To create memories. Reflecting on my blog year for this post made me realise, it just brings me joy. It truly does and unless that changes, I will continue to find the time to write it. I am so grateful that you take the time to read it, thank you!

I have already given you a little look back and reflection on my life in general. This post is purely blog! I would absolutely love any feedback on what I talk about in this post. If you think something is a rubbish idea, just say. You know I cherish honesty! The same as if you think there is something I should do more of, let me know! I really would love to understand why you visit me here……

Reflecting on My Blog Year

A Quick Overview

  • My blog traffic almost doubled from last year
  • I earnt more on affiliate links this year than last year
  • Google was my biggest traffic source
  • I finally made a media kit!
  • I ditched a few subjects I used to write about
  • I was picked and featured as one of the travel editor of Blogosphere magazine, favourite travel blogs for the year…..not sure if I’v mentioned it….

What didn’t go to plan

At the start of this year I had a plan. If I compare what I planned, to what I actually did, it would be an epic fail. In fact, the failure of all failures. Nothing that I said I would do, has happened. I still have no blog schedule. I still struggle to post with any real consistency. I am still shocking at SEO, Instagram and Pinterest. My photography ability still need’s a lot of work and I still have no photo editing programmes. I do not earn on a regular basis from my blog, I have not found the confidence (or maybe desire) to pitch to brands, and I do not attend fancy-schmanzy blog events on the regular. Some of these things are by choice. Some by procrastination!

reflecting on my blog year

I also had a lightbulb moment of realisation this year too. I attended World Travel Market in November. This is a huge event for all areas of the travel industry, held in London. I have attended before, but this year I actually set up meetings with tourist boards. Travel writers do this in order to secure press trips and work for the following year. That is what all travel bloggers are after right? They all want to secure places on the coverted press trips surely? Well, it occurred to me after my second meeting, that press trips are actually, not really what I am after. Let me explain.

Travel for me, is freedom. Since leaving the UK with the bare necessities in a back pack at 17, I have seen it as a way to escape and experience. No schedules. No demands. Just making memories with my loved ones. Just going where the wind blows me and dancing to my own tune. Press trips, on most occasions, are not like that. They have a schedule/itinerary they want you to follow. They of course, have an agenda of what they want covered. They have deliverables and expectations. You are also not making memories with your loved ones, but with strangers or other travel writers (bonus if they are your friends too). All of a sudden it is work, not travel. (Remember, my blog is not my job)

Twins that Travel (two of my fave people), recently spoke about pulling back on the press trips they do, and I totally got why. Writing about a press trip is often writing someone else’s agenda and idea of what should be covered on that trip. I have started to notice on other peoples blogs when they are writing up a press trip as opposed to their own chosen trip. The passion and soul can become a little diluted with “professionalism” and “key points”. I decided that this is not for me. That is not personally, my idea of travel and I know many bloggers that would deliver on those trips far better than me.

reflecting on my blog year

Don’t get me wrong, if I were to be offered a press trip that allows me freedom still, I will be all over it! The press trip that I did to Portugal last year was perfect. No agenda, nothing was asked of me. I was just reviewing accommodation. I would also jump at the chance to be offered a press trip which I could take a loved one on. I was able to take my Mum to Portugal with me. I want to build memories with “my people” so that would be amazing. From speaking to other travel writers, that is not the norm though so I got very lucky! It was a huge revelation to me to realise that I am not chasing those group press trips. But it has left me questioning my blog direction. Am I a travel blog, or a lifestyle blog? Can you really do both well? What is my ultimate goal with my blog? I am not sure I have figured that out yet!

My plans Going Forward

There seems to be this trend at the moment to see as many countries as possible, in a short space of time. Almost a competition to have every country ticked off a list! I want to slow my travels down. I want to immerse myself in a place. In it’s culture. Get lost in its streets and feel its history. I think in my life I struggle and rebel against having routine and order, (but know there has to be some in life), so travel can be my little bit of disorder! Nik and I have both said we want to change up a little how we travel next year.

Kerry Life and Loves is a Travel and Lifestyle blog. In some ways, that gives me free rein to write what I like! I do try to keep my topics as narrow as possible though! Otherwise I would literally be like the blog of surprises. You just wouldn’t know what you were tuning in for! Currently I write;

  • Travel, (including staycations, hotel reviews etc)
  • Days out and Experiences
  • London Restaurants, (especially vegan)
  • Cuppa and a Chat discussion posts

In my head, I would love to niche down further still. In reality, I am far to much of an over sharer, so would struggle to do that! In fact, I want to bring more of my journey into sustainability onto the blog. I am about three years in to trying to live more sustainably now, and would love to share that side of my life more. I asked on Instagram if that would be something of interest, and it was a 98% yes answer! I plan on doing a monthly series on the blog around sustainability and planet friendly topics. I have lots of ideas. Im excited. So perhaps, I am more of a Lifestyle blog, plain and simple? Travel is and will always be my main focus, but I feel a little hemmed in by a title sometimes. What do you think?

The Newsletter

Ok, I will start here with an apology. Those of you already signed up to my newsletter, I know I was sh**. I think I sent out three in total last year. I’m sorry! I have made a vow to get better. For me, I want my newsletter to be an extension of the blog, not just a catch up from it. I want the newsletter to be a bit more community based, written more with my subscribers in mind. So I plan on it being a bit more eclectic and informative than just travel! It will of course still have any travel deals etc that I find, but I want to include other things that I don’t really feel fit the blog, like;

  • Books I have read
  • Eco tips
  • Eco brands I have discovered
  • Wellbeing tips
  • Any fabulous blog posts I have read from other bloggers
  • Fantastic Netflix finds
  • Updates on my no spending year that I am starting in January

What are your thoughts? I would love to hear your feed back on this? You can of course sign up to the Newsletter-that-I-must-Do-Better-With by clicking here. There is a sign up form on that page.

Brand and Paid Work

Always a tough one for me! Reflecting on my blogging year this year, it is no different! It is something I really struggle with as, and I have said this many times before, I do not want to be a sales platform. Nor do I want to lose my passion for writing my blog. I am scared that if I start needing or seeking out blog work, it will become a stress. But, at the same time, blogs are not free to run! For the last two years I have kept my blog “free” to run, by doing a few sponsored posts throughout the year. The fee I get paid covers the hosting, photo storage etc that I pay out for my blog. I will continue to do these kind of posts if I get the opportunity.

reflecting on my blog year
Invite me to eat a Vegan Burger…..Please

I would also absolutely love to do a little more work with “experiences”. So as an example, be invited to a review a vegan restaurant, or an afternoon tea. Things that I know my readers will love. Want a hotel in London reviewed? Call me. Got a little Shepherds hut you want someone to give opinions on, I’ll grab my sheep. What I am saying is I am HERE for you brands. Vegan cake eater required? Plant based burger eater needed? I am ya gal!

My lovely blogging friends tell me I have to pitch to brands etc, but I am not sure that it’s me. I do not know why I have such a block with this! I was brought up by parents with a very strong view that you always pay your own way. I know that me writing a blog post on xyz IS paying my own way, I am providing a service, so I do not know what my flipping issue is. Confidence? Self doubt? Embarrassment? I am not sure but I need to get over it if I want to secure this sort of work for my blog! Get over yourself Hawkins!

Learning and Courses

Oh my goodness I have been rubbish with this! I vowed to do a photography course as I would LOVE to take better photos. Fail. I wanted to do and SEO course as I don’t really understand it. I started one, never finished. Fail. I need to do a Pinterest course as I am not great at Pinterest. Fail. I wanted to attend more workshops and events to really understand “blogging”. I did none. To be fair to me on that point though, I was scheduled do do a couple. Life had other plans and I was dealing with family stuff.

I am sure I will do all of these courses and things in 2020 right……….??????

So, writing this reflection on my blog year makes me realise I must try harder hahahaha! I really sucked at sticking to my plans. But, I have had a brilliant year with my blog. I have met some truly wonderful people. I have attended some amazing events. I had some amazing opportunities offered to me. I have pushed myself to do things that three years ago, I had no confidence to do. I love writing it, I mean really love writing it. I have made new friends and learnt new skills out of this little blogging bubble, and I could not be happier. So yep, on paper, epic fail. In my eyes, success beyond all success. Its been amazing!

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14 responses to “Reflecting on my Blog Year (and Plans I have)”

  1. Susanne says:

    I think that if you niched down your topics too much, I know that I would probably not visit as much. I like the variety with travel, cuppa and chat, and sustainability. Many of your posts are not relevant to me (London and lots of UK city posts because I never go there) but I follow your feed with Feedly and visit as soon as there’s something that interests me.
    However, talking about travel, personally I think many travel blogs that cover too many places are quite uninteresting – like, one post in Bali, next post in London, next in Norway, then Arizona etc.. it just feels so random to me! I like variation in blogs otherwise and what you call a surprise blog would probably be a good thing to me (within limits, it still needs to fit your blog’s style) but I much prefer travel blogs that cover a certain theme, with some post now and then about other places of course. Your series about vegan restaurants in London and other UK stuff is a good idea.
    I hope you get to do what you have in plan for the blog for 2020. Press trips sound super boring btw! 😀 I would never do them either if it wasn’t my job.

    • kerrylifeandloves says:

      The whole niche thing has always been a struggle for me Susanne haha! I get excited about way to much stuff! Yes I know what you mean about very random travel blogs. I tend to focus on European travel mainly, and a lot more UK now. I have found a real love of UK travel these last couple of years. An Ireland road trip is very much on the cards for 2020 if we can make it work. Fingers crossed! Thank you as ever for your views and feedback. It is so useful hearing what people think xxxx Thank you x

  2. It’s great that you’ve taken time to reflect on the blog – I know you’ve questioned a few things in the past. Definitely stick with the travel plans as you and Nik love it so much – and I think it’s fine to be a travel and lifestyle blogger – hell, why not? As long as you’re true to yourself which you always have been. You have your natural followers and you’re an amazing influencer on social media Kerry, so just keep going the way you are. I know I bang on to you about pitching to the companies you love, but I really think you should, even though I know you’re not confident doing this. Very often they’re looking for people just like you – and they can’t always find you, so it’s a fab idea to wave the little red flag every now and then xxx

    • kerrylifeandloves says:

      Lauretta it has been good looking back over the year. It is funny that some of the things I thought I wanted, it seems I don’t! I know you have heard my conflicted ramblings about all this many times. I really do need to figure out my end goal with this blog. Or do I? Maybe I am putting unnecessary pressure on myself to figure it out, when I should just go with the flow! I just like targets and goals haha!

  3. Don’t be hard on yourself though – you’ve still done a lot, even if it wasn’t the things you’d planned, and you’ve had a pretty tough year too.

    I think there are a lot of people who don’t feel like they want to participate in blogging in the traditional sense – chasing brands and losing that quirkiness or individuality that sets one blog apart from all the others.

    I think in a landscape that’s pretty saturated with a lot of pretty samy blogs, what will really stand out are people who have something to say, whose writing is authentic, and who come across as someone you’d like to have a coffee or lunch with. You tick all of those boxes. You tell a story or get a conversation going. You introduce us to the people you meet on your travels, or the lessons that you learned. That’s why I keep coming back!

    I hope the next year will be a fantastic one for you. If blogging is your hobby, make sure it stays fun! That doesn’t mean you can’t do some sponsored stuff, but it should never feel like a chore to blog, because that’s when people fall out of love with their blogs.

    • kerrylifeandloves says:

      Ahhh Kirsty thank you so much for this comment. I really appreciate it! I do feel a little lost with my blog at the moment. Not to sure what my end goal is! I’ll figure it out I am sure! I often feel that I want to blog about anything and everything, but I know that can get confusing for people hahahaha

  4. Catherine says:

    I definitely empathise with this a lot – I want my blog to have a much clearer niche and I feel like it’s lost its way a bit recently. I started it as a travel blog when I had a job where I travelled a lot and then left that job to be at home more but also kind of lost momentum. I’m planning to post much more regularly in 2020 and to try and carve out my space on the internet a bit more.

    • kerrylifeandloves says:

      It is so hard isn’t it. I always feel so conflicted sticking to one niche. I have tried to sit today and plan out some blog posts for the next month or so. I need to get some organisation in my life with the blog. Otherwise, like you say, you can lose momentum! I look forward to seeing what you write xx

  5. Happy new year Kerry! I always enjoy reading what you’re up to. I know we’re supposed to brand ourselves for blogging, I’m a ? blogger. But I think we should all have the freedom of writing what takes our fancy and not restrict ourselves. I would like to see the odd beauty post from you too because I always enjoyed those too xx

    • kerrylifeandloves says:

      It is a hard one isn’t it. I feel I had more growth on the blog since narrowing what I talk about, but I do sometimes find it a bit restrictive. I might bring a little beauty in with the eco brands I have found. I need to figure my brain out!

  6. Emma @ Adventures of a London Kiwi says:

    I can’t wait see how much futher you’ll grow!

    • kerrylifeandloves says:

      Thank you so much. I am so appreciative of your support. I feel very lucky that I have my little blog to keep me sane hahaha! xx

  7. It can, but I think people who like your stuff will still come by anyway and perhaps just skip one section if those posts aren’t really their thing.My personal blog has a much wider focus now than when I started, but it hasn’t made people go away! Of course all blogs are different, but I think a bit of variety can be good because it helps people get to know someone, and not just one aspect of them. Not such a good plan if you want to write purely a travel/beauty/educational blog, but you write interesting posts about different topics.

    • kerrylifeandloves says:

      I think you are right there Kirsty, our blogs evolve and change as we do. Our lives don’t stay the same do they? Thank you for this insight and thoughts xx I think my plan going forward is to still write the travel posts, (I love to share them), but also give myself the freedom to write other types too. I love writing discussion, sustainability and even wellbeing type posts. I think I just need to write what I love, like I used to before. I overthink things!

I love reading your comments x

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