July marks the anniversary of when I first launched my blog! I honestly can’t believe I’ve 1) stuck with it this long, 2) people are still reading my posts, and 3) that it’s grown in reach past just my relatives and friends. Over the past year I’ve been lucky enough to be able to launch a YouTube channel to go along with the content I publish here, create sponsored content, partner with some great people, and even attend events for my blog/Instagram. It’s been really crazy just how much my life has change since blogging.
When I started blogging a year ago, I didn’t have any intention of it growing into much at all. Don’t get me wrong! I’m super excited it has grown past my expectations, but when I sat down to write the first time, I wasn’t aiming to turn it into a career. I created my blog as a way to create structure between projects as a work-from-home freelancer. It wasn’t ’till my third post that I really started to think people might be interesting in reading what I have to say. At the beginning of August I published a piece about being single and my thoughts on it. The response I got from it exceeded what I ever thought was possible for a new blog. It’s still one of my most read posts and some of the comments I received from that have been some of the most meaningful I’ve ever gotten about a piece of my writing. The experience is really what inspired me to dedicate myself more to blogging and talk about topics I feel are important (and a few fun topics that might be a little less important, but entertaining nonetheless).
Blogging definitely accomplished my original goal for it: my life has become very structured around it. But beyond that, I found it became a really good platform for accomplishing some of my other long-term goals. Blogging creates an extra element of motivation and accountability for some of the more difficult things I’ve wanted to tackle. Over my year of blogging I’ve accomplished quite a few goals that had been on my list: my transition to a more zero waste life (it’s always a work in progress), my 100 Day Sober project, a more minimalist closet, a zero-sugar challenge, the launching of my YouTube channel, and the improvement of my photo and video editing skills (also a constant work in progress).
One of the things I’ve been most grateful for though, is how much blogging has had a positive impact on my relationship with myself. I’ve talked a few times about my struggles with body image issues. After years of photos of myself being a trigger for my eating issues and self-esteem spirals, I’d been very hesitant to be in front of a camera at all (either for any video work or just pictures). I would often duck behind other people in group photos to avoid being photographed or full on refuse to let my photo be taken. There are many stretches of my life for which there is no photo documentation of me at all. This is something that needed to change once my blog started growing. I wanted to start using more and more of my own original photography instead of stock photos and keeping up an Instagram presence was nearly impossible without any photos of me (oh how envious I was of people who chose Instagram themes that didn’t involved selfies: like nature, or their pet, or food…). How unfortunate I felt at first when photos of me started to traffic higher than my other photos. But it turned out to be a blessing. I knew if I wanted to be in YouTube videos or in photos for my Instagram and blog, I’d just have to get over my issues with being in front of a camera. It took a lot of time and it hasn’t been easy (I have so many photos on my phone where I still look horribly uncomfortable and awkward having my photo taken), but it has gotten a lot better. I’m even starting to like some of the photos of me!
Now that I’m onto my second year of blogging, I have a few new goals I’m ready to take on. One of the biggest goals I have is to consistently produce even more content. At the moment, I’m writing one-two blog posts a week and about one YouTube video a month. My plan is to nearly double that for most weeks—two-three blog posts a week and a video every other week. My Gretchen Tries Stuff series have a couple more challenges this year in conjunction with my goals to live a less wasteful lifestyle (feel free to submit some ideas for anything you’d like to see me try for a Gretchen Tries Stuff episode in the comments below). To go along with my normal Instagram postings, I’m planning on adding some fun short videos every month on my IGTV (follow my account to see all the additional content that doesn’t make it onto the blog). My second largest goal is to do more partnered content. I love collaborating with other creators and hope to be bringing more of that into the blog. I also have a few brand partnerships happening (keep an eye out for upcoming posts with Bumbershoot Music Festival, Datebox, and Fred Meyer), and I’m excited to be able to work with more events and companies that fit with my values as a creative. I’m also planning on expanding more on my personal lifestyle content, sharing a lot more about challenges decorating in a rental (when all I want to do it cover up that less-than-ideal wall color) and the products I’ve grown to love in my day-to-day life (keep your eyes out for even more giveaways happening on my Instagram account).
It’s hard to express just how grateful I am for what my blog has evolved into just over it’s first year. I’m so excited to see what the journey holds going forwards and hope all of you also enjoy everything that is still yet to come.
GRETCHEN IS A WRITER-BASED IN PORTLAND, ORE. SHE GOT HER START AS A JOURNALIST WORKING ON THE SUSTAINABLE FASHION AND RESTAURANT BEAT BEFORE MOVING INTO COPYWRITING AND ADVERTISING WORK. SHE CURRENTLY BLOGS AND WORKS AS A FREELANCE WRITER.