Wow… It’s been a year of having this blog – of having Leona. I have owned my very own, personal blog for a whole year!! Time has flown by.
As you’ve (most likely) read, it has been a super intense and active year of living life. It has been filled with both positive experiences and tough learning opportunities and almost all of my thoughts, life events, and just day-to-day things have been shared on here with you. Thank you for reading Leona, for being on this journey with me.
Back to the Start
Reviewing what this first year of blogging has been like, it feels like the “why” behind it all is a good place to start.
I have always loved writing, whether it was birthday cards or letters, projects or essays. Yes sometimes the process itself is tedious or tiring, especially when you don’t feel motivated. But I found that when I was motivated, the words just flowed and when I would proof-read my work I’d always be happy with it. At university I really got into journalism and started writing articles for both the online and print platofrms. After university, I felt the need, the desire to write more. Initially I started with a Medium page, and for about four months this felt great, I even once made $10 from the posts I wrote. And I still like Medium as a platform, especially since it’s updated some of its guidelines and features.
But the more I was writing on Medium, the less authentic and “me” I felt in my writing. The pieces felt repetative of the content I had read on the platform and it just didn’t feel like the right place to share personal details and life events. Yet as I was writing I found an increasing desire to share personal life events. Not because I think my life is more special or more noteworthy than others, but because I really like sharing stories. I like to talk about the importance of small life events that impact us and the big stuff too. I like to talk about real things, deep conversations, day-to-day content. I want to share about my travels and the things that make us human. So a personal blog seemed like the right thing to do.
November 28th, 2019, Leona was born!
In the first few months of having this platform, I didn’t post all that much. There was plenty of content in the draft box but I was slow at writing and uncertain of when and what to post. What could I write that would interest the internet? What would I write that would interest me?
I knew from the get-go that I wanted my blog to be a place of honesty – I want to share my life in a way that is as honest as possible. And even now, a year later, that is still an important factor. Sometimes I omit some details or information just because the content isn’t mine to share or someone has requested me not to post about it, and I’d like to respect their wishes, especially when it doesn’t necessarily affect my story-telling.
My first few blog posts made me feel uncertain. I felt proud to have written something and posted it online, but I wasn’t sure if I wanted to share it on my Instagram. What if people didn’t like it or think it was stupid? What if people didn’t enjoy my writing in the way I hoped they would. When I started my blog I felt very uncertain.
But I posted anyways. I knew that I had to get over this fear of feeling unimportant to the internet. And so I mustered up the courage to post and share. I looked at all the content I had stored in my ‘drafts’ box and decided to post piece by piece. Initially I was slow, a piece a month, maybe every three weeks if I managed. Life felt slow and I was still figuring out what my “talking points” for my blog were.
Around April (2020) my blog started to gain momentum. I was still just writing one piece every three weeks or so, but the content was what made it popular. I had shared what it had been like to travel during a pandemic and shared that I was heading to the Netherlands to spend the last months of my dad’s life with him. Then I wrote about the process leading up to his death and the actual day of. My dad shared many of my posts but I also dared to share them on my own social media. My family was so open about death and the whole process around it, that it felt important to share. I had never met others who so openly talked about death and their thougths around it, and I wanted to help make the topic less heavy, less tabboo.
This is what got my blog a lot of momentum and views and suddenly I felt inspired to write more, to create more for myself and to share the experiences of living life as a human being. So often in movies or books or online stories we hear of grand success cases, people becoming famous, or we read sad stories. I want to be different. Yes if my blog becomes even more successful that would be cool, but I’m not writing to be successful. I’m writing to share a human life with others – to make people feel less alone in thoughts they thought were silly or in endeavours they thought were stupid. When I realised, to a greater extent than before, that I was writing because of me and for me, my blogging became even more fun, and even more inspiring.
In September I took a course for building an online community in regard for a work project I was in charge of. Besides learning that which I needed for my work, I also gained insights into how the online world works and that organisation in regards to your online space is crucial. I have become well-acquainted with a content bank and content calendar and throughout the past two months they have helped me be more focused on my blog and have shifted the way I create my content.
Additionally I caved into an Instagam advertisement and signed up for a free course with a succesful blogger named Christina Galbato. The class was one of those one-hour free sessions that is meant to convince you to buy the full course, but in this one I actually got legitimate and useful tips and information. The biggest thing that stuck with me was the part of having a niche. I hadn’t even thought about needing a niche, and initially I felt some internal resistance towards the idea. But then I thought about it some more and asked my mom to brainstorm with me about the idea, and suddenly it felt much more logical and legitimate. The difficult step was figuring out three sections or ‘terms’ that would include all the content I wanted to write about.
When I was working through what topics I should include and what to leave out, I came to the realisation that some of my more recent content had been somewhat random. I had written quite a few posts about food, and another one about my tattoos and somehow it didn’t feel like it fit into my blog. Just like odd space fillers. Since then I have removed the food posts from my blog – not because I didn’t like them, but rather I felt they added nothing special to my blog. I have left the tattoo post up because I feel like this somewhat falls into the ‘Life’ category.
Changing and Growing
Alongside the online courses I took, I’ve also worked on expanding my creative projects and reaches, and this blog has been a great source of inspiration and output. Blogging throughout the past year has not just been fun, it has also reminded me of other projects I wanted to create and somehow now that I was sharing content produced and created by me, I felt more confident and able to start my other projects and continue those that had grown dusty.
Owning this blog and being dedicated to it has also allowed me to create something brand new: my very own business. You’ll be able to read about this mid-December, when I will share all the information and details about my new business (scheudling ahead since I’ve started using the content calendar!!).
But I don’t want to keep this blog and my business and the book I am writing (about the Camino de Santiago) to be seperate from one another. Rather, I want them all to be intertwined and related and flow into one another. Not just for promotional purposes and gaining readership (which is always fun), but because all of these projects are a part of my creativity and I want to create without borders and limitations.
Now, One Year Later
I feel like I have finally figured out how to blog. At least somewhat. I’ve found, and am constantly evolving, my own blogging process. I soon realised that this is different for everyone, but that a few basics are needed if you want to have a bit of blogging-structure for yourself. Taking that free class with Christina Galbato really helped, as well as the work I was doing regarding social media and communications for my day job.
I can proudly say that even after one year of blogging I’ve maintained my goal of being as honest and open as possible. I’ve shared stories about some of the biggest, most impactful experiences of my life yet, such as my dad’s passing away and how I processed everything. The reason that I wrote about such a personal topic, as well as the other personal details of my life, is because I want to have my blog be a platform that welcomes people to share their stories and insights. And when there is someone else out there sharing their stories and thoughts, it can inspire others to do the same. To me, it is important to share our stories, to talk about who we are and who we want to become. I believe that the more we share the more connected we become as people.
A big part of doing this online and creating content that I hope welcomes and inspires others has also meant I’ve had to re-evaluate the way I was writing and the type of content I was sharing. Since my re-evaluation, and thanks to the insight of the courses I took, I’ve decided to have three main ‘themes’ or ‘topics’ on my blog – they’re all pretty broad, but I feel that I can share my thoughts, ideas, and experiences under these umbrella terms: Life, Being Human, and Travel (I told you they were broad). I’ve moved away from writing about food recipes I make and while I still include health into my life part, I want my content to be a bit more interrelated and less random.
Each section has specific ideas that I’m working into them. ‘Life’ is all about my daily life and the things that are happening, as I believe the small stuff makes up the big stuff. But it is also about big life events, like my dad passing away, like moving to a tropical island. But this piece also entertwines with ‘Being Human’. Because topics like the self, death, and love, are all big, or rather, HUGE, parts of being a human being on this planet. And these topics aren’t always discussed often enough and open enough. And ‘Travel’? Travel has been a crucial aspect of my life for as long as I can remember, but especially recently as travel hasn’t just been for fun and touristy stuff, but also to see my loved ones that are spread across the globe. But ‘Travel’ also includes the things that surround the actual traveling, like planning a trip to a strange location or what it’s like to travel by yourself vs. with family or friends. These three umbrella terms make up what my blog is and will be – and I’m excited.
Before starting my blog, and in the past year, I hadn’t given the “what” part of the content of my blog much thought, nor how I would organise it. Throughout the past year I’ve been able to learn a lot from both hands-on experience and from the things I have been reading about online. But was has stuck with me most is that I just wanted to have a space to write, to share my ideas, thoughts, and life. A place that is my own, where I have full creative control. Even if no one would read my blog, even if no one reads my blog now, I am still 100% satisfied because I established a creative space for myself.
The last fun thing I want to leave you with, as an anniversary of my blog existing one year: I have chosen my favourtie piece, least favourite piece, my most popular piece, and the piece I am the most proud of.
(Currently) Favourite: Regular Life
Least Favourite: Changing Up My Lifestyle Pt. I
Most Popular: Moving Towards Death
Proudest of: Leaving Earth