#44. A Look Back on 2016, and What I Want from the Year Ahead. 

There has been somewhat of a deep divide carved out between many people in 2016, and whilst, personally, I don’t feel that 2017, nor 2018, will provide the remedy for such a divide, I also am not of the belief that the past year was one of pure disaster, as many seem to think. No, 2016, for me, was not ripped directly out of the pages of a Greek tragedy, not even in the context of politics, economics and social change. It is easy to get caught up in the doom-and-gloom of the world, and if all you did for the 365 days of 2016 was keep your eyes glued to newspaper headlines and Facebook, it is even easier to understand why. And whilst, yes, the year was no sequence of rainbows, it was far from the cesspit of misery and woe that many – predominantly, the media – alleged it to be. In fact, when you compare 2016 to the vast majority of the previous years of life on planet Earth, I’d say we’re far from the worst of it.

My point is, at the risk of sounding like some sort of awful life coach or preacher, there are far more positives to take from being alive in this era than there are negatives. I’m a firm believer that if you are lucky enough to live in a liberal democracy, with access to the internet, a roof over your head, unplagued by scarcity of food or the true terrors of life apparent in the more desolate regions of the world, you are 100% in control of your life, and Trump, the Tories or any other political pisspot has very little say in your story. The world is a far better place today for most than it has ever been.
I rambled on a little too long there, but I felt that it needed to be said, because when all you see, hear and read about 2016 was that it was cruel and callous, one needs to be reminded that the world could be, and has been, far worse. That being said, 2016 was a proper savage for taking Alan Rickman. Not cool. And Earth/2017, if you put David Attenborough in even the slightest bit of danger, I’ll start using plastic bags again, leaving lights on, and keeping my TV on standby.

Right, now for the less grave part of this post; what I’m proud of achieving in 2016, and what I hope to achieve in the year ahead.

To be honest, 2016 was probably the second-best year of my life, the best being 2015 for a multitude of reasons that I won’t delve into here. Regardless, the year was one in which I felt I became more myself than I’ve ever been, and, in doing so, seemed to achieve a great deal more than I had expected to. I stopped binge-drinking entirely, bar on certain occasions (New Year’s Eve, you’ll haunt me for weeks to come), and I began employing my time in all the things I knew I loved to do, rather than in all the things that were easy to do. The important distinction being that the easy things, namely; getting pissed, having several TV shows on the go at any one time, and spending countless hours on personal social media; were not the things that I enjoyed. In fact, I despised binge-drinking; it was just the lazy choice to make.

Instead, for the best part of the year, I began to read far more, write far more consistently, spend the hours I would have spent watching utter drivel instead researching topics and concepts that fascinated me, and, most significantly, began to put continual effort into my blog, and my Instagram (which, really, is just a visual form of the written blog). When I say a continual effort, I’ll give you a comparison to flesh out what may seem an exaggeration: I created my style blog very early on in 2016, and, between February and August, probably wrote maybe a dozen posts and spent around 4-5 hours a week working on the images and the writing. In August, I decided that if I truly wanted my blog to grow (which I did), I needed to be putting much more work into it, and considering it was one of the aspects of my life that I most enjoyed, it just made sense to do that. So, I started spending 2 or 3 hours a day – in between going to seminars, doing my reading for uni, and working at AllSaints –  writing up draft posts, creating images, editing, revising posts etc. My routine would be (and still is, except over the past fortnight) to wake up around 7am, spend an hour or so working on a creative aspect of my blog, go to work, do whatever needed doing for uni, and then work on my blog for a couple more hours. Now that I’m no longer at my part-time job, which was taking up 25-30 hours a week, I have even more time to devote to both, the blog, and university. The fruits of this labour began to appear faster than I expected, and towards the end of the year, the whole thing had begun to snowball.

One of my highlights was definitely completing my first collaboration, which was with Original Grain, and another was hosting two giveaways as a thank you for the support to everyone who follows me, reads my posts, comments on my photos etc. There’s a bunch of different things that you do in support of what I do, and I’m very grateful for that. Whilst metrics do not, in any way, facilitate nor signify the success of a blog, and it would be infantile and naive to rest upon them, solely, as milestones of one’s achievements, there is no doubt that it would be equally silly to ignore them entirely. That’s why another personal highlight was when I realised 5,000 of you guys were following me over on Instagram. I’m now closer to 6,000, which is crazy, given that 5,000 seemed to have only just gone by.

Goals for 2017:

  • Engagement:

One thing I will say, however – and this ties into what I would like from 2017 – is that, though it is amazing that so many people find my images and my style to be worthy of their time, there is only so much you can take out of pinning down your audience to a number of followers. Whilst I have around 5,500 followers on Instagram at the moment, the number of those who engage with my content is probably between 10-15% of that. It is far more important, in my opinion, to build a network of people who actually want to engage with you and have conversations and offer opinions, than to simply have a large number of followers. And so, one of my priorities for the year ahead is to concentrate on growing in this manner, rather than growing in pure metrics. I would love to end this year with a far greater percentage of my audience, across all platforms, engaging with my content. If I finish 2016 with 6,000 followers but 50% of those people are commenting, conversing, and letting me know what they like and dislike, and what they want to see and read more of, I will be a lot more proud and far happier than if I end the year with 10,000 followers but less people who actually care.

  • Surroundings:

Another goal of mine for the next 12 months is to venture out into different settings for my outfit photography. Brick walls, though functional, can get boring – and if they’re getting dull for me, I would imagine you guys would like a change of scenery too. So yeah, I’m definitely going to start finding some new spots for the outfit shots.

  • Overhaul:

A last note on what I want out of 2017 for my blog is a complete redesign of my website. I have a lot of ideas for what I want it to be, and though the current format is clean and useful for my writing and photos, there’s a lot more that I want to bring to the table that isn’t just blog posts. Keep an eye out for that; it’ll most likely be getting an overhaul in summer.

 

And that’s pretty much it. I say “pretty much” – that is it. I’ve written nearly 1500 words; it began a bit deep and serious, I know, but I thought it was important to give a little of my own opinion on the past 12 months. And since this is a style blog, I think a few hundred words is more than enough, though I could write volumes on that topic.

Hopefully you guys enjoyed this post, and had a great weekend. Happy New Year, everyone! Let me know what you thought about 2016 in the comments, I’d love to discuss it.

 

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