I meant to publish this post on Jan 1st, and it’s already over a week later! This holiday season has been a little insane with family, work, and celebrations. I guess I’m jumping at full speed into 2018! I’ve always found it helpful to look back over the past year and set some blog goals for the next one. In this post, I talk about how I feel about being an “influencer”, how I sometimes feel overwhelmed by products to review, and how I hope to improve over the next year. Without further ado…
2017 Blog Recap
1. Clarifying my role as an “influencer”
I had decided in July that I really had no ambitions of becoming an “influencer” — and by this I mean someone who earns an income from their influence over their followers (I’m aware there are many people who consider themselves influencers who are not commercially-oriented and that’s not what I’m talking about). I’m not really comfortable “branding” myself, and I don’t want to be thinking about selling something when I write a post. Even though there are definitely influencers I respect out there who are making a living off their social media and who do so with honesty and integrity (and a whole lot of talent!), the role just didn’t sit right with me. This isn’t to throw any shade on those who do consider themselves influencers at all, but this line of thinking just helped me to clarify my goal of keeping my feeds educational and informative rather than commercial.
(That said, you may notice an affiliate link here on the blog here and there. I honestly hardly make anything off of them and they essentially just pay for the site to stay up =p. I only use affiliate links when they are helpful to the reader, and form a natural part of the post.)
Deciding that I wasn’t going to take my content towards the influencer route took a lot of pressure off growing my audience. I decided to focus more on quality content and on improving my photography rather than spending a lot of time gaining followers.
There’s a difference between being an influencer, and being a content creator, and it’s the latter that I’m more interested in.
2. Growing my freelance business
I decided that I wanted this blog and my Instagram account to stay informative (rather than commercial), but to hopefully create more opportunities to do freelance content creation, such as blogging, copywriting, and photography. Thanks to some great networking opportunities through Instagram and through other blog friends, I was able to land a few writing gigs right away with some skincare and Kbeauty companies around the world. I’ve always dreamed of being able to make a living through my writing, and this provided the perfect, flexible outlet that allowed me to be there for my kids while setting my own hours.
I still have a lot to learn about managing my time with freelancing — sometimes I am swamped with projects, and sometimes I have dry spells. I think that’s just kind of the nature of this kind of work but I hope to get the hang of it soon!
3. Improving my photography
I think you can see a definite improvement from the beginning of the year to now when it comes to my Instagram feed and the photography on Gracefulface.com. I know I still have a LOT to learn but I’m happy with the progress I’ve made. I’ve even had the opportunity to work with a few different brands shooting product photography for their social media feeds as well as other art content. You can see some of this work on a small portfolio that I recently added to this site. I’d like to improve the technical aspects of my photography, so that’s a major blog goal I’ll be working on in 2018.
Blog Resolutions for 2018
I’ve been mulling over these blog resolutions since November and I think I have a pretty clear vision of where I want to be by the end of 2018.
1. Manage press samples
I am so grateful for all the wonderful skincare companies I’ve worked with in 2017. The free press samples I received provided me with more content for this site that I wouldn’t otherwise have been able to create. However, as the time I spent pursuing paid freelance opportunities increased, the time I had left for writing reviews for free products decreased. By the end of 2017 I was feeling a little overwhelmed by the number of reviews that I had in the backlog. Although only a few companies pressured me to write them quickly, I felt an internal pressure to review them in a timely fashion.
In 2018, I hope to limit the number of press samples I accept to a more manageable number. I have a real hard time saying “no” but I really need to practice the skill this year. I also need to resist the FOMO (fear of missing out) when I see other bloggers getting tons of press samples and feeling like I need to get in on the action too. I honestly don’t know how other bloggers are able to test so many products so quickly — possibly their skin is more absorbent than mine and they go through products faster? But I need to do what works for me and this blog, not what works for others.
2. Continuous learning
There are a number of technical aspects of blogging and photography that I hope to improve in 2018, making it one of my top blog goals. As I mentioned, I’d like to learn more about how to use the manual functions on my Canon 60D properly. I know enough to use the aperture priority setting pretty effectively, but there’s still a lot I need to learn. I’d also like to learn more about editing my photos and getting different effects from Photoshop and Lightroom.
For this site, I know that there are a ton of things I need to do to streamline this blog and to make it more functional. I either need to learn how to do this myself or get help to get it done!
3. Moving towards Green Beauty
My third resolution has to do with skincare itself and not specifically with the blog. Over the past year I’ve been increasingly impressed with the green beauty offerings available on the market both from Western and Asian companies. Specifically, KBeauty brands like ONEOSEVEN, Earth’s Recipe, and Swanicoco, and Western brands like Indie Lee, Dr. Roebucks, and Herbivore have impressed me the most this year, by combining scientifically-backed ingredients with elegant, natural, plant-based formulations.
I don’t necessarily need my products to be 100% organic but I’d like to move in a direction that is better for the environment as well as for my skin. I’ve had really great results using natural oils and emollients, and I love skincare companies that combine green ingredients with the latest skincare research.
What do you guys think? What would you like to see more of on this blog? Do you like seeing traditional single-product reviews, or would you be more interested in articles about beauty trends, how-to’s, and other topics? Leave me a comment and let me know!