And just like that, it’s 2019. I’m sure it’s a sign of getting older but these days, I feel like I blink and a year is gone. Do you remember when you were a kid and the summer break seemed to last forever? Yeah, distant memory having that feeling. So anyway, I start pretty much every year with a little review of the previous. I think it’s healthy to appreciate our achievements before moving forward because even when I feel like I’ve not done a whole lot aside from sit in front of my laptop, trying to remove Meisha from sitting on top of my keyboard (I swear I remove her 43 times a day), there were actually a few more things that happened.
A Life-Changing Move
The biggest thing for us, of course, was that we sold our beloved home on the outskirts of Manchester and moved our lives to Shrewsbury in Shropshire. Wayne and I have talked about the impact this move has had in our lives many times over and we both agree it was singularly one of the best things we’ve ever done. Our lives have changed for the better in so many ways and we adore living in this town.
We also were lucky enough to find our dream property – a lovely 4 bedroom Victorian with a slew of original features that needed some love. Over the winter break, I created a new home tour page which shares some early before and afters but of course, the list of things I want to do grows longer by the day. However, as this post is celebrating past achievements, just pulling together that page on my blog made me realise that despite having a 10-mile-long to-do list, we have made strides to turn this lovely old house into our dream and that’s only going to continue.
While I’ve been very lucky to have my home appear in many magazines and a couple of interior design books, 2018 was the first time I actually saw my home on the cover of a book! Joanna Thornhill’s Home for Now (which was shot back in 2013!) was re-formatted and re-released with a new title, Insta-Style for Your Living Space and it was my old bedroom which graced the front cover. So cool to see that and a bit of a blast from the past for me too.
Finding out I was nominated for a Domino Blog Award was pretty freaking fantastic. So, I didn’t win and I know it sounds like a cliche but just getting that nomination meant so much to me.
While I don’t think I specifically talked about it on the blog, I was invited to appear on BBC Radio Shropshire’s morning programme with Jim Hawkins as a guest after they’d read my blog post on why I loved Shrewsbury. We talked about everything from bad design decisions to blogging to The Undateables. It was such fun and such a privilege to be invited – it was as though my new town had welcomed me with open arms.
I also did my very first fashion shoot with a brand this year which was probably one of the hardest things I made myself do this year but one of the most rewarding as well. Kaleidoscope was a great brand to work with and made me feel like a queen for the day.
Going to Spain with AC Hotels to visit Madrid and Valencia – two cities on my bucket list – was another fantastic moment in 2018 for me. It was a great trip, well-planned and organised and I met some really lovely people in the process.
Of course, I was also privileged to work with a few other great brands creating content I’m really proud of. From Push Dr Campaign’s campaign around House Plants to styling a picnic with Anthropologie, to working on a number of projects with Made, creating a light fitting with Philips and styling a beautiful Christmas table with Portmeirion, I love to be challenged to create posts that excite me and working with brands I love give me countless opportunities I wouldn’t necessarily be able to do otherwise.
I’m sure there were other things that happened that I’ve missed. I used to write a monthly post called ‘Something for the Weekend’ in which I talked about news, events and coverage as well as some of my writing work and these are the posts I used to look back on to remind myself of all the cool stuff that happened over the course of a year. Alas, there was always pretty low engagement on those posts so I dropped them last year because if you didn’t like them, there was little point continuing to create content that you didn’t enjoy! This year, however, I’ve decided to keep a gratitude journey to help me jog my memory! ;)
Swoon Worthy by Numbers
While numbers have never been the end all be all in my mind, I did have a couple of arbitrary numbers that I wanted to hit in 2018. In my goals for 2018, I wanted to reach 20k followers on Instagram which I did – in fact, I exceeded it. I reached 22k followers in the first days of 2019, all without losing my dignity or losing my mind (mostly). I admit, I haven’t been focusing that much on Instagram over the past year for various different reasons so the slow and steady growth I have had there despite the fact I’m aware I could be doing a lot more makes me happy enough.
I also wanted to hit 100k page views in one month which I did manage as well! Whoop! And over the whole year, I actually managed to smash another goal of having over 1 million page views a year. Crazy! Especially as there was a lot of talk about blogging being ‘dead’. Well, clearly, you’re still reading, right? In fact, I’m starting to see things shifting back towards long-term content and thank goodness because that’s what I’ve always loved creating. Just another reason to keep on blogging! Not that I can see myself ever really giving it up anyway! ;)
As much as I love my blog and the digital landscape in which it sits, at the end of the day, it is partially what supports my family. I’m grateful every single day that I’m able to do this as a ‘career’ and not just a hobby (as I did for many years alongside full-time secular employment) but in order to keep doing that, I need to earn a living from it. While I’m certainly not going to talk about my earnings on here (ewww), one of the things I wanted to accomplish was a slightly better work-life balance.
I wanted to give up some of my freelance work (I write for other blogs on the side if you weren’t aware) and shift my attention more to my own blog. I also wanted more weekends off. Less working 6 days a week and doing a more standard 8-4 working day, Monday through Friday. Happily, over the last few months, I’ve somehow managed to accomplish that for the most part.
I’ve dropped some freelance work, raised prices on others and this has allowed me to reduce how much time I was spending working on client projects whilst still earning the same amount of money. I am probably only really working around one full weekend a month now and occasionally, I’ll work late of course – there are always going to be busy times after all. But my normal working week now allows me more time to myself, to spend with Wayne and for doing things we enjoy. I feel like, after 4 years of free-lance, I’m finally getting the balance I always wanted. And we can still pay our mortgage every month! ;)
So I hope you enjoyed taking a look over the past year here on Swoon Worthy. In my next post, I’ll be chatting about my plans for next year – especially around the house! Stay tuned for more but in the meantime, I’d love to hear what your year highlights were. Do you look back and pat yourself on the back for your achievements no matter how big or small? What’s the best thing that happened to you in 2018? Let me know in the comments!