I hope you are all having a lovely week.
At the end of March, Rory and I were on our honeymoon where we had a ball cruising around the Caribbean visiting Haiti, Mexico and Jamaica along the way. I always feel so refreshed, revitalized and content after time spent travelling to new places. I have itchy feet again and have been looking up summer trips already! While I was on honeymoon, I had lots of time to reflect. Rory and I had lots of conversations about our future plans in life, business and work whilst lazing around in the sunshine relaxing. Today, I simply wanted to fill you all in and address a few things here in today’s blog.
If you have been following my blog for some time now, you have probably noticed that I have disappeared on here a little lately and that I have not been blogging consistently for some time. In today’s blog, I explain all!………
Firstly, if you enjoy reading my blogs my apologies that I have not been consistently writing on here. Life has been busy and other things have taken priority over my blog. For anyone who does not know, I work by day as an art teacher in a secondary school teaching art, craft and design and I have been teaching for over 10years now. I love what I do and the subject I teach. I often say that I would not have gone into teaching had I not have been able to teach Art, Crafts and Design as well as art history. I genuinely feel so lucky to work along some fantastic like-minded colleagues who I consider great friends of mine as well as having the privilege to teach talented and creative students. Teaching art gives me the best of both worlds. I teach by day but I have the time to focus on my own artwork and side projects. I enjoy seeing students work develop from design stages to final pieces and how I am surrounded by fresh new artwork and creations daily. The art room is a hive of activity and there is never a dull moment. Like every profession, teaching can also have it’s challenging days and there is a degree of pressure associated with the job. Let’s face it, no one enters the teaching profession to earn the ‘big bucks’! For instance, I became a teacher because I am very passionate and interested in art, craft and design and I am also a people person and enjoy working with large groups passing on this love, knowledge and skills to others and I know this is the case for a lot of my colleagues.
Over the past year and I suppose especially on the lead up to our wedding which was an extremely busy time with both of us still working I had been feeling a tiredness creep in on me in the evenings (old age maybe? haha!) as I was trying to juggle everything at once; teaching, blogging, running evening adult art classes, making my own artwork and commissions etc. With regards blogging, let’s be honest, sometimes the last thing I wanted to do after a day teaching was to spend my evening sitting in front of a laptop editing photographs, writing blogs and sharing on social media. You really do need to be in the mood and also have the time and energy to do so. Blogging does take up a lot of time. You obviously need to have interesting content which you are passionate about and genuinely want to share on your blog with others. I detest the idea of blogging for the sake of being consistent just so that there is something new on the blog each day. I think it’s very obvious when a writer or blogger is simply posting content daily for the sake of being consistent rather than writing interesting content that they are genuinely passionate about and think their readers will enjoy. As for me, I rather write/blog when I have something to say rather than posting for the sake of it. To make a proper go of blogging as a career you would need plenty of time to focus solely on blogging and free up your time to be able to concentrate on developing and expanding your brand. In fact, a lot of well known Irish bloggers employ writers for their blogs which helps to free up their own time to attend events, photo-shoots and to focus on developing the business aspect of their blog. Trying to juggle everything and being a Jack of all trades does not work long term.
So for me, after a busy working day, I did not feel like I had either the energy or interest to sit down at my laptop and write. Sometimes I think that blogging seems like a light, fluffy job to people on the outside. You write a bit, you post some photo’s and you rake in the ‘likes’ on Facebook and Instagram!! Pretending that it’s easy and fun all the time would be dishonest. I had started to feel a bit fed up with coming home after work to sitting in front of a laptop writing and uploading photos for brands and businesses that I was collaborating with at the time. There were deadlines I had to meet at the end of the day. Don’t get me wrong, I accepted those jobs and collaborations willingly and was very grateful for opportunities. I choose to work with specific brands or businesses as I either loved the company’s product or respected what the brand represented but as I said previously, blogging took up a lot of time after work in the evenings. At the weekends there would usually be an event that I had been invited to which I felt I HAD to attend for fear of appearing ungrateful. This overall situation started to get under my skin after a while. At one stage, I would actually sigh when emails came from businesses asking me to work with them. The reason being that I possibly did not like the product or brand and I hated letting anyone down. I always felt bad for saying no and sometimes felt like I had to come up with excuses to back up my ‘no’! Those ‘little white lies’ and excuses did not sit well with me and looking back I really should have been completely honest from the start and said ‘thanks but no thank you’. I suppose I did not want to appear arrogant or ungrateful to others. I do realize that saying that now might sound ungrateful to some of you but I am being honest and open about how I felt at the time. I am far from an ungrateful person and I always say that I feel so lucky to have so many cool opportunities come my way and still come my way. I welcomed and still welcome emails and contact from brands and businesses but I have definitely become a lot more selective about who I will work with and what jobs I take on and won’t. I have also learnt to politely say no thank you more. For instance, at the moment I have been concentrating on developing my adult art classes, illustrations and art collaborations but I also have a blog collaboration with a Donegal based business in the pipeline. A year ago, I would have been juggling way too many side jobs alongside my teaching job and something had to give. Another example of what it’s like to run a blog and how I am starting to be more selective, is that this morning I received an email from a well known beauty brand asking me for my postal address so that they could send me out some products to try out and to hopefully review. I wasn’t a fan of their product, my heart was just not in it so I said no thank you and thanked them for getting in touch and for the opportunity. A second and recent example, was yesterday evening when I received an email from a well known Irish clothing brand asking if I would like to choose a dress from their occasion wear section on their site. In return they wanted a photograph of me wearing their dress and for me to add this photograph to my social media sites tagging their business in it. I had a look through their website but I could not see anything that was in keeping with my own sense of style and so I passed on this opportunity. I still get these types of email daily and some people think that I am mad and that I should just accept the ‘gifts’. I have learnt that there really is no such thing as ‘free’! In the past, if I had passed on my postal address to businesses and brands and then received their product to try out, within the space of a day in came the floods of emails from the marketing managers asking me when would I be uploading photos of their product and when could they expect my write up of their product to go live on my blog!! Of course, not all businesses were demanding or pushy. You must also remember, that although I had been posted out some products from these companies, I had never once made any agreement to feature them on my sites. As I said before, there is no such thing as free. Most of the time, I would post their products back thanking them for sending them out but explaining that their product wasn’t up my street. My blog has always focused on art, craft and design as well as fashion and lifestyle inspirations so sometimes these products I would be sent out would not ‘fit’ with the overall theme of my blog. At the end of the day, you really do have to stay true to yourself, learn to say no thanks, be selfish from time to time and most importantly know your worth.
When I look back on my blogging experience over the past few years, I think my busiest time was in 2016. During this year I had established myself and my blog and I was offered some very cool opportunities. Opportunities such as writing for newspapers and magazines, to be featured in national publications, to style and talk at events, invited to glamorous events which of course came with ‘free’ goodie bags, posted products on a daily basis as well as being invited to review spas, hotels and venues..the list goes on! It was exciting and I enjoyed the buzz of it all at the time. I also learnt a lot about myself during that ‘action packed’ and busy time in my life. One thing that I realized was that that ‘world’ did not necessarily suit my personality. A lot of the time I did not feel that comfortable receving goodie bags and products or being at events where people were only focused on getting that ‘Instagram’ perfect shot rather than talk to the person sitting next to them!! I also felt like a right ejit posing for photos that I needed to accompany blogs I had written for brands. I started to get frustrated with businesses and brands who expected me to attend their events and who would take offense if I couldn’t attend or if I did not review their event goodie bags or show the contents on my social media sites. I do not think people realize how much time and effort goes into getting prepared for photo-shoots, editing photos and writing blogs. All of that takes a lot of time and patience. All of this I had been doing in the evenings, part-time, after a day teaching in school. I found myself working late into the evenings trying to meet deadlines, lacking energy or on my phone a lot uploading content or writing back to people. As readers love to know more about the person behind the blogs they read, I was also sharing a lot of myself and my life online. I was also very conscious that not everyone in my life wanted to be in the public eye so I would never feature anyone in my snap-chat stories or upload a photo to my social media or blog without asking their permission first. On many occasions Rory had said that people he never met before had approached him asking about me and he got the impression that they ‘felt’ that they knew him because they had been following my blog. If you are a private person, as he is, this can make you feel uncomfortable. There were a couple of occasions where I had started to feel a bit paranoid about sharing so much of my life online and presumed that people who did not know me might assume that I was ‘full of notions’ or running my blog as a means of attention seeking. Lets face it, yes some of the photos in my blogs where I would be showcasing products or clothing did look very staged but most of the brands had requested that I feature in the photos with their clothing or product. This was part of their marketing strategy. Hence why I would only every feature or link up with brands or businesses I genuinely loved. I am by no means a shy person and like many of you who have social media accounts I do still feature my fashion, art and lifestyle inspirations on my social sites but I have definitely started to find myself reigning it in a lot more this past year. Maybe I am becoming a lot more private in my old age?!!
Since these realizations, I have politely been saying ‘no thank’s’ to collaborations or ‘freebies’ with brands or businesses that my heart is not in. However, I have not lost interest in my blog and I always enjoy coming on here to share my ideas and inspirations. Lately, I just haven’t felt I like I have had anything all that interesting to share with you and life and work had been so busy this past while that my attention has gone elsewhere. Since I started this blog, I have chosen to write only about the brands, business, to accept collaborations or write about my own personal interests that I genuinely love and think I think people reading my blogs will enjoy too so I am simply sticking to this ethos.
Yes, I have not been ‘pushing’ my blog as much as I probably did in previous years but this is a choice I had made myself and my own decision. I have discovered with living in the west of Ireland that the majority of the bigger opportunities come with relocating and moving my life to Dublin or London, that’s if I really wanted to concentrate on growing the blog or making a career out of it. Some people will think I am mad to not just up ship and move my entire life elsewhere, but I am happy with my decisions, trust my gut instincts, have a very strong mind of my own and know what’s right for me. Don’t get me wrong I LOVE city trips and we were in London at the weekend but my days of city living are behind me and I have ZERO interest in relocating to a busy city again.
To give you some examples to explain what I mean by opportunities which would mean relocating;….I had been asked to feature in fashion publications more regularly but the only thing was that the photo-shoots always took place in Dublin and always seemed to be scheduled with the photographers during my teaching time meaning I could not go. Most of the fashion events I am invited to also usually take place in Dublin, Belfast or London. I was at times only given a week’s notice about collaborations and it just was not realistically going to work. In order to grow you need to be able to attend event’s, make new contacts and meet people ‘in the bizz’ but those event’s were always taking place in Dublin, Belfast or London and the events always seemed to be during my working week. Another amazing opportunity which I kept quiet about was when a producer from TV3 Xpose emailed me and invited in for a screen test interview. I was a little baffled to be honest to be invited for interview as I had no experience in the TV industry but also extremely flattered and grateful for the opportunity. The producers explained that they were looking for someone new, fresh and liked my style and how I merged my love of art and fashion as one. They also said they loved my Donegal accent!! Who would have thought, haha?! As you know, I featured on TV3 Xpose before in the past (read about this HERE) and also in some of their magazine fashion features, so this is probably where I caught their attention. I used to watch Xpose every day and had always wondered what it would be like behind the scenes so being in the studio seeing first hand how everything worked and meeting the presenters was a pretty cool experience. During the 10min on screen interview, I was naturally very nervous and didn’t do myself justice because of my nerves and also my lack of experience, so the opportunity didn’t go any further than this as I needed some experience, but I was happy to be invited in and meet the team regardless. The producer who initially contacted me explained that the catch of course would be relocating to Dublin. I would be expected to throw myself into that showbiz lifestyle and attend events after work hours but believe me as the presenters said that day themselves it’s not as glamorous as it may look from the outside. As well as that opportunity, last year I was offered a job with a growing creative band which has now expanded to England and Scotland but again I would have to move to Dublin and moving was not an option for me at the time. So as you can see, I have been offered some fabulous opportunities which I am very grateful for, but those opportunities would mean moving my life to either Dublin, Belfast or London, where let’s face it, is the place to be for bloggers and writers these days. I love my lifestyle here in the North West and I am happy here. I love that I am not too far a drive my from family in Donegal, friends, close to beautiful scenic surroundings and of course my favourite – the sea! Am I sounding like a granny, yeah?!! I guess I have done the city living lifestyle and I am happy to be away from the rat race commute, the crazy rent prices and the general business of city living so turning down opportunities which meant relocating feel right for me right now at this stage in my life. This does not mean that I have ruled things out entirely if the right opportunity does present itself at the right time. Everything happens for a reason and who knows what the future holds for me but I am very happy and content where I am right now doing what I am doing.
With having a blog and the experiences and people it has opened up for me, I learnt a lot about what I want and don’t want in my life. I have met some very interesting, talented and glamorous people along the way and the opportunities which came with it were undeniably pretty cool, but I always felt I didn’t fit in with that ‘world’, which to me always felt a bit flat, self indulgent and to put it lightly, at times – fake! It just isn’t for me and that’s a decision I have made. I have not had any ‘What if?’ moments either which is always a good sign that I am on the right track. What I love about the position that I am now in though, is that I have this creative platform which I can dip in and out of when I feel like it, on my own terms, in my own time and continue to write when I genuinely feel like sharing something with you all. I am happy teaching for now and also developing my side business – my adult art classes, which I am delighted to say have become so popular that they are selling out now so quickly and the feedback has been fantastic which is so encouraging. As well as my art classes, I am able to continue working away on other side projects in the pipeline, which involves my artwork, designs and products. I hope to share more on this during the Summer months when I am off school and have more time.
A lot of you had contacted me to say you missed my more regular blogs, asking why I am not pushing my blog as was much as I once did and some have asked me if I have stopped blogging completely so I wanted to address it here today. Of course, I am still as ambitious and driven as I have always been. I enjoy teaching but I also love having my side projects and developing business ventures which keeps life interesting for me. For as long as I can remember I always had that little business streak in me and loved developing my ideas and aspirations, no matter how big or small they may be. I also think the people I surround myself with have a big impact of my life, my husband Rory runs his own company and he is always pushing me and encouraging me, as well as my amazing family who are all equally as ambitious in their own right and some of my close friends who have side ventures and businesses. It’s good to challenge yourself and not settle. Life is always changing and you grow and evolve along the way. At the end of the day, life and work is a journey and I am going with the flow picking and choosing what feels right along the way.
The grass is always greener eh? Hmmm ….
THANK’S FOR READING,