Thursday, October 25, 2012

One Year Later

It's one year later. One year since I hit publish on my very first post. Though it was nothing profound or groundbreaking, perhaps that first one was the hardest. As someone who has always been shy and somewhat self-critical, I tend to get caught up in how others might perceive me. It may seem counterintuitive then for someone like me to put my thoughts, opinions and feelings out into the most public space there is.

But once I did it, I felt a little brave.  I've been brave 213 times over the last 12 months.

There have been posts I felt very proud of and others that I've looked back on and wished I had taken more time to write or research or maybe just approach a little differently. I've learned that one mis-used word can derail a post and make some well intended thought or idea come off as trivial or snarky and one year later, I can even tell you that I had seriously underestimated the amount of personal time I would need to invest just to be able to hit that publish button each day.

Nobody tells you that stuff and not many others even realize what is involved. As supportive as I consider my friends and family to be, very few understand this little hobby of mine. Some even wonder if I'm being too open and personal and worry that some weirdo out there is going to take advantage of me because of it or use that information to just plain ol' hurt my feelings.

Twelve months ago, nobody told me that it would take almost as long to even find my rhythm or my voice. I think I'm still developing those. I naively started off with a long list of topics to discuss here on the blog and no one was more surprised than I when I found just how quickly I had burned through them. One year in and I've learned that creating new and fresh content each day can be frustrating, competitive and isolating. Inevitably, the comparison game came into play at one point or ten during my first year and there have been times when I questioned why I was even putting myself through it all. Was I really contributing something meaningful or unique?  Was my time better spent doing some of the things I wrote about? Was anybody even reading these posts?  I can't tell you how many mornings  I have turned on my computer simply to see  if anybody had commented on a post yet.  As much of a community as it can be, there are times when blogging can also be very lonely.

One year later and I am not a famous blogger. I'm not supporting myself on ad income and neither my home or my words have been published anywhere but on my own blog. I blog because I want to blog. I blog for me. But there is no denying that I want people to read what I take so much time to write about and carry something positive away from it.

But for all its trials, blogging has brought other personal rewards my way and those were the ones I was counting on to begin with.  I made that first post happen at a time when I as feeling particularly stuck and frankly, a little lost. To be empowered with a tool that would not only motivate me, but hold me accountable to getting something creative out 4 or 5 times a week- regardless of what other uncontrollable chaos was happening around me, helped me get through an extremely tough period in my life.

Hard work and creativity are the best life preservers. Don't let anybody tell you differently.

The daily task I set before myself feels so good once I've tackled it. Whether I start my day with a post or end it with one, I either wake or fall asleep feeling accomplished. Don't get me wrong. I keep this blog in it's proper context. There are people out there doing truly brave work and accomplishing remarkable things on a much more significant scale.  I write about making my house a home, design and party inspiration. I am not saving the world or curing cancer. But as indulgent as this time investment might seem to some, the past year has meant so much to me.

One year later and I've learned so much, mostly about what I can do. I've even learned that I can tackle some of the more intimidating, administrative tasks associated with blogging. Of course, I can't take all the credit. I can't tell you how many times I've searched a help topic only to find the solution to my problem served up nice and tidy by another blogger who had taken the time to write a post about it based on their own trials and tribulations. Which leads me to another important realization one year later...

Knowing what I know now about all the hard work, the time investment, the loneliness and competitiveness and even the burn-out, makes me appreciate all the more the consistently good work posted each day by other bloggers. Some of them sure make it look easy. It's hard not to get sidetracked by fancy layouts or group photos at glamorous launch parties and double digit comment counts and imagine that each blogger was an overnight sensation. Perhaps there were a few. But I'm certain most of them probably sat right here where I am now not so long ago, having wondered the very same kinds of things over their first year or two of blogging. With newfound appreciation, I can tell you that based on my own experience, the blogs I follow read so much differently to me now. The bloggers that take the time to mentor newbies like myself, well I have only the utmost respect for.

One year from now, I still hope to be blogging away at Holtwood Hipster. Maybe I'll even share a little behind the name at some point. It's not as transparent as it sounds.  I hope that I will have gained more experience with applications that will improve the quality of my posts and I certainly hope that I will have built a stronger readership in one year's time.  Most of all, I plan to write more openly and honestly over the next year like I have in this post, so that others in this community will have a chance to get to know me better. Blogging is only half the fun when played safely as a spectator sport, am I right? This shy girl is going to hold herself accountable to be brave once more.



Kristen said...

Happy 1 year anniversary!!! You are one of my favorite reads, looking forward to another year :) You also have me dying to know the meaning behind your name!

celine [starbies and sangrias] said...

Erin, you must know that despite all the "famous" blogs out there, yours is one I actually really enjoy reading everyday. You have great ideas, you have DIY power, and you're so real. ORIGINAL CONTENT!!! Thanks for not posting the same stuff everyone is posting everyday. Please know that even though I don't comment everyday, I love each of your posts. And the way you write and make graphics, it's only a matter of time until you're "famous" too! Just don't forget the "little" people. ;) xoxo Celine

Erin | Holtwood Hipster said...

Thanks Kristen! It means so much to hear that!

Erin | Holtwood Hipster said...

What an incredibly nice thing to say Celine. Really... Thank you and thank you for taking the time to read and comment. It means so much.

Anonymous said...

Erin, this year has gone by incredibly fast! You have always been such an inspiration to me, in the way that you have the ability to turn something I see as ordinary into something spectacular. In renovating our new home, your blog has served as a major inspiration! In fact, we are building an in house bar similar to the one that you showcased a while back :) I can't wait to see what you have in store for the holiday season!


Emily Sloan said...

Erin, thank you so much for writing this post! I just started blogging, and it is so helpful to hear the trials and challenges that other bloggers have faced. Your content is always so fresh, and I’ve loved seeing your home progress into something truly inspirational. Congrats on a fantastic first year, and I can’t wait to see what you have up your sleeve for year 2!

Andrea said...

Fantastic post. Just found you through Christine at B&B, and though we may have somewhat different styles, what I've seen so far is lovely, and who wants to see all the same thing all the time? Not me. Vive la difference!

I have been sitting on a blog for over a year still deciding whether or not I want to dive in. We are very similar it seems, being somewhat shy and critical of ourselves.

Congrats on making it a year, and for keeping it real. I'm getting wary of blogs that seem too "perfect" and put together all the time. I want emotion and connection. Otherwise, what's the point?

Can't wait to see what comes next!

Erin | Holtwood Hipster said...

Thank you and thanks for stopping in Emily!

Erin | Holtwood Hipster said...

Appreciate you stopping in Andrea! Yeah, I'm starting to open up a little more which is changing my blog's "voice" a bit. It's a delicate balance between sharing too much and keeping it real. I blogged for about a month before I actually made it public. I needed to get a feel for it and see if it was something I felt comfortable with and really wanted to commit to doing. In the end, it's been a good fit for me.

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