Photos by Paul T James, and comletely unrelated to what you're about to read - I just really liked them.
Yes, you are reading that blog post title right, and no we have not time travelled here. There is a very good reason I am casting my eyes back to April 2015, and it's relevant to something I still worry about today nearly two whole years later. A couple of days ago my Mum found an old notebook that I used to use for blogging things, and in there I had written my April 2015 goals. Just as a little refresher, here is an example of a post from April 2015 - I was in my final days of Uni, writing my dissertation and getting very close to the scary moment where you finally leave education forever. I knew I wanted to blog full time, but things really weren't at the right point for me to do that, as my April 2015 Blog Goals show...
Please excuse this photo, it was sent to me by Mum alongside the message, "Interesting read. Your April 15 blog goals. Amazing what you have achieved in under 2 years". As soon as she sent me it I knew I had to share this with you all. Firstly, because it's a major trip down memory lane. Obviously things have come such a long way since then, but I can still remember so clearly how I felt around that time. I so desperately wanted to know how to make this blog become a business, any blog post that claimed to spill the beans on how bloggers could monetise their passion would be at the top of my reading list. I was frustrated at how hard I was finding it, and worried it would not work out for me. I knew I had my dream job within my grasp, and just needed to get things right and it could become a reality. Now we have the power of hindsight to say it did all work out, and I managed to make my blog a job - but it was touch and go at times.
As you can see I failed a lot of the goals - my blog traffic refused to grow and Pinterest was pitiful. Although, it was a good month for Instagram, and the best month I had ever had on RewardStyle (at this point that was all the money I made from my blog, it takes a lot of time to build these things up!) But I can guarantee I would have chosen to focus on the failings than the successes, it's easy to do when you look at things on a small scale like this. Looking back, it's obvious that my insistence to focus on what needed to improve, and refusal to look at the successes was making me unnecessarily worried, and even now I still am guilty of doing this. Seeing these goals in comparison to where things are now, it's impossible for me (who likes to be negative about these things), to see one single failure within this. And I think there is a lesson to be learnt in that, and this one of those major "LISTEN TO YOUR OWN ADVICE' moments for me...
It's a reminder to appreciate what you can achieve, and what you already have. Generally I find that if something is going "badly" it will consume my mind so much more than when it's going well. I think a key to taking some pressure away would be to let myself dwell on the good moments as much as the not so good ones. In regards to blogging, the perfect example is this; over December my YouTube channel seemed to ground to a halt. Hardly any growth, so much work going into it through Vlogmas, and not nearly the results I had hoped for. I thought about this so so much. I worried all the time. I wanted to talk about it with anyone who would listen, and was convinced it would never pick up again. Fast forward to this month, which has been the best month my YouTube has ever had. But it's hardly on my mind at all - I am not really allowing myself to dwell on the fact that, right now, it's all going really well. The negative impact December had on my mind was far greater than the positive impact January is having. I am not sure I am making too much sense here, but I am essentially trying to say this; allow yourself to feel really proud, maybe even a little smug, about what you have achieved and what is going well. Try to make it a more powerful feeling than the one of worry and dread when you think things aren't going so well. I think it's easier said than done, but looking back on things like this definitely makes it easier.
This post has been a very personal one, and I am always unsure how interesting these actually are to read when they are so focused on blogging and my own blog. So, as a final note, while I mostly want this post to demonstrate a wider issue that is relevant to you all. I think everyone goes through stages where you feel you won't succeed. I did in April 2015, and I did it last month in December. But when you look at the bigger picture, the greater successes rather than the small failings, it's impossible to feel negative in the same way. Don't sweat the small stuff is definitely true here, and while 'the small stuff' is baby steps to a bigger achievement, it's not representative of an entire failure when one little thing goes wrong.
P. S. I would also like to add that I don't track things in this way as I was in April 2015, and I don't think it's imperative that you do. If you are someone who finds looking at things in this way rewarding and motivating, then go for it. But for me it definitely added more pressure all the time, and made me more anxious that this would all fail. I don't give myself any numerical goals with my blog anymore (Instagram can be the only place I guilty of it at times, and I allowed myself to do it far too much with YouTube last month). Instead I look at my content and ask myself how many posts this month was I really proud of? How many videos were actually good, useful content? Looking at that as the final outcome puts me back in control of it, as I can determine that content myself - regardless of what algorithms may be working alongside me.