‘Ambition never comes to an end.’ – Kenneth Kaunda.
At the beginning of 2016, in my post titled ‘My 2016 Ambition’, I outlined what I wanted to achieve with my blog during 2016. Now, as 2017 begins, I want to revisit this post and see how far I’ve managed to come with making this blog into something a little more than a part-time hobby.
Granted, as 2016 progressed, I changed my views a little. I made the decision that this blog will only ever be a hobby for me – it’s my baby, one of my favourite things and I know in my heart of hearts that if I were to try and commercialise my blog, I’d lose the joy I feel when I write it. Making one of the best things I have into a job would make it work, and I’d be piling pressure on myself to make ends meet, as well as feeling guilty when things I meant to achieve weren’t done. So, whilst I know that writing is a career I’d like to pursue in future, I also know that this blog will never be, in any way, shape or form, my source of regular income. I don’t want to lose this feeling I get when I write each post. I want this blog to remain one of my favourite things.
Having said that, I’ve managed to achieve quite a lot of what I set out to do at the beginning of 2016 and I’m really proud of the way my new site is turning out. There is still a lot to do, but I’ve made some in-roads into accomplishing my goals in 2016 and I’m pleased about that.
I have bought my own domain name and am now the owner of www.howthemindwanders.com. No more Blogger for me! It’s a great feeling to own the name of my blog, and know that I have a unique space on the internet now that nobody else can take!
I’m especially pleased with myself for navigating WordPress and HostGator to successfully create my new website. True to form, I left this until (very!) late in the year, but the basic site is up and running and I’m really happy with how it is looking. I got some help from some friends with things like redirecting my old site to this site, and I’m going to be learning how to code next year so that I can improve the site myself in future, but for the time being, everything is looking good! I’m also particularly grateful to Nomadic Matt’s post from earlier in the year, which contained a simple step-by-step guide to creating a website. Without it, I may have still been floundering!
With regards to my photography, I can happily say I really have been trying to improve. I’m pushing myself to take my DSLR off automatic mode as much as possible, and have been challenging myself to use my new iPhone to good effect when taking pictures around London, when I don’t always carry my DSLR around with me. I’ve never been as pleased with my Instagram feed as I’ve been this year, and I really feel that I’m getting the hang of the editing process now too. I’ve been reading books, magazines and blog posts, I have practised with other lenses where possible and am now the owner of my very own tripod and remote, as my next photography challenge is to start improving my night photography skills around London! I just love the city at night, so photographing it seems to be the obvious next step.
Reading other blogs for inspiration has not been difficult, but unfortunately, I wasn’t able to attend the TBEX conference that I booked for July in Stockholm, due to the fact I started a new job that month. Instead, I’m going to TBEX Jerusalem in March 2017 and I’m in an even better place to go now, with more insight into the industry, a better website set up and more experience.
My final two goals for 2016 were to travel (this was easily achieved!) and to maintain my loyal readership. I hope I have done this – at the start of the year I did note down some stats but in the intervening months have managed to lose said stats, so have no idea if I’ve increased my readership or if it’s remained steady. However it has panned out, I really hope those that continue to read my blog still enjoy the posts and love the stories and photos I have to share.
I have fewer goals for 2017 for this blog, but goals nevertheless.
Buy a new, more powerful laptop and get Photoshop / Adobe Lightroom
My current laptop would not support these photo editing programmes too well, so I hope to buy a new, more powerful laptop in 2017 and continue to improve my editing skills. Of course, I also want my photography prior to the editing stage to be excellent too, that goes without saying, so I fully intend to keep practise, practise, practising and getting out there as much as possible with my DSLR. Night photography will probably become more of a focus this year too, especially around London.
Learn how to code
I work for a ‘tech for good’ company, and I’m lucky enough to have met some great people who know an awful lot more about how to build and maintain websites than I do. When I asked if one of them could teach me how to code in the new year, he agreed, so that’s definitely on the cards for 2017! I’m already looking forward to gaining this new skill.
Finally attend that TBEX Conference!
Jerusalem 2017 here I come! I am already excited for my first travel blogging conference, and in such a cool looking city too! I’m turning the conference into a holiday and my sisters and I are spending two weeks exploring Israel and Jordan before and after the conference, which I’m really looking forward to.
Increase my Instagram following
I’ve gained more followers this year, but I want to keep increasing it year on year. It’s my favourite social media platform and I love the rush I feel when I post a photo and get a lot of likes for it. I love feeling that my photos are appreciated by a wider community and it encourages me to keep on improving.
Finally, it should be noted that I wrote a lot less in 2016 than in 2015. There’s no secret as to why – I’ve just been super, super busy. First I was travelling, then I moved to London and got swept up in city life. My job takes up a lot of time, and I am often out in the evenings and on weekends, so I simply find that I don’t have time to write. I’ve spent a lot of time feeling guilty this year for ‘abandoning’ my blog and I’ve written far fewer posts per month than in 2015. I hope that what has been lacking in quantity has been made up by an improvement in quality, but the fact remains that in 2017, I’m really going to try and prioritise writing a lot more again. Yes, I’m busier, and yes, sometimes when I get home all I want to do is kick back and do nothing more strenuous than watch some shitty TV show, but at the end of the day, writing is something I love doing, and I really need to make more time for the things I love. So, in 2017, I’m really going to try and pick it up with the writing again. I’ll aim to write at least three posts a month (this year I think I’ve averaged two a month). We shall see… I also have hopes to write elsewhere this year too… I’ll keep you posted!
Ultimately, again, I want to continue enjoying this blog in 2017. It’s become so important to me and plays such a central role in my life. I have so many stories to tell, so many photos I want to share. I’m determined for my blog to continue to grow and evolve alongside me, to remain a platform for my storytelling and my voice. I hope you’ll stick with me and continue to enjoy the ride. I’m proud of what I achieved in 2016, and I want to look back on 2017 and feel the same pride.
I will repeat the ending that I wrote in ‘My 2016 Ambition’. Here’s to a wonderful 2017 – may yours be healthy and full to the brim with fun, laughter, friendships, travel, new experiences and all the other good stuff. I hope you achieve all your ambitions, just as I hope to achieve mine!
NB: This post has come a little later than I intended, mainly due to being ill and then going away for a lovely city break in Bruges for my birthday. More on that soon!