How has everyone’s festive season been? My immune system thought the best way to say goodbye to 2019 would be if I came down with a cold once university was finished. I’m not even joking. I started feeling ill almost immediately after my last meeting of the semester. I’m currently trying to write this post while dealing with said cold.
Like previous years I have decided to start 2020 by looking back over 2019 and discussing some of my highlights. Overall it has been quite a good year. We had some important family-related stuff happen this year. I didn’t achieve quite as much compared to 2018, but still, it has been a good year overall.
LOOKING BACK ON 2019
I think I should start with the blog because it’s one of the things which has changed significantly over 2019. I started 2019 with my art school series. This was a series of posts I wrote all about my first semester at art school. I’m going to be totally honest here, those posts weren’t massively popular. Which is fine. I think I was more excited about writing that series than people were interested in reading it.
I think it was still a good series to write because it made me step back and think about the direction I was going with my blog. What you don’t know is that I had written an entire series about my second semester at university. Over the summer I decided I wouldn’t be posting that series. Which was a pretty big decision to make, I had to bin three months of blog posts. But looking back I think it was the right decision to make.
As I said, writing those blog posts still taught me a lot. I realised I was writing posts but they didn’t convey much information. Some of the posts were so short that the reader didn’t get anything out of it at all. Based on the interaction it was obvious no one was interested in reading that content.
MORE LIKE THIS: Experimenting With Cyanotype At Art School
So I went back and had a rethink about the content on my blog. About a year and a half ago I joked that I was going to turn into a stationery blogger. I’ve always written posts about stationery, but I decided that was all my blog would be about. I think I wrote 2 or 3 posts about stationery then started moving away from the niche again.
Over the summer of 2019, I decided I had to focus on the stationery niche. If you’ve been reading over the last half-year you will have noticed that almost all of my posts have been stationery related. I don’t know if anyone is enjoying this, maybe let me know in the comments.
But focusing down on that niche has helped my blog so much. In terms of views my blog has grown each month since July. Which is a big deal considering before that my views varied wildly each month. I’m also getting far more search engine traffic, which shows all the work I’ve put into SEO is starting to pay off.
It’s hard to say if my blog will continue to grow over the coming year. December and January have always been my best months for blog views. I think this is something which happens to everyone. Come next summer it will be much easier to see how the changes I’ve made have affected the blog.
I know not everyone will be interested in stationery. Especially if you started following my blog while I wrote about books. But I’m much happier now with the direction my blog is going in. I have all sorts of plans on how I want to move forward but I will talk more about that in my goals section.
University has gone pretty well for me in 2019. But there is one thing which has become extremely obvious to me over the past year. University is hard when you have a chronic illness. This isn’t something I talk about a huge amount.
But university is hard. I know I come across as able-bodied but that isn’t the whole story. My chronic fatigue makes everything so much harder than it needs to be, especially education. My university has been fantastic about this. I have all sorts of accommodations in place to help with my chronic fatigue. But one of the things I’m starting to worry about is how I’m going to cope after university is over.
I know it probably seems like I can do a lot. But its more that I’ve learned how to work with the limits of my chronic fatigue. I am essentially a hermit most of the time, I’m in university for my timetabled hours and nothing more. Some weeks I don’t even manage that. And this causes problems in some strange ways. I haven’t had the chance to get to know the people in my class. I miss out on important learning time and other networking events.
But I am very lucky at university. So long as I get the work finished by the end of the semester no one is going to tell me when to work or how much I have to do. It means that I can work with my chronic fatigue and when I have energy during the day. But this isn’t going to be the case when it comes time for me to find a job once I’ve graduated and that worries me. However, in 2019 I possibly came across a solution to this.
In a blog post at the start of the year, I mentioned that I had been asked to create some wedding invitations. I couldn’t say much more than that due to privacy and still don’t want to. But it has been surprising just how much design work I’ve had come from that one commission.
I’m now at the point where I’m advertising myself a calligrapher (which is wild). But also I’m at the stage where I could see this becoming a job once university has ended. I think this work has come at the perfect time. I’m still almost 2 years away from finishing at university but that gives me time to work on this business.
I’m doing bespoke work so its not something which I can share on my public social media accounts. But it has been really exciting and terrifying to see how far this has all come over the last year.
MY 2020 GOALS
READ MORE BOOKS
I’ve set myself a slightly different reading goal for 2020. I don’t read a huge amount now. Anyone who has followed my blog for a while will have noticed that. I have quite a big birthday this year. I won’t go into huge detail but suffice to say I can’t call myself a young adult any more.
One of the things I want to do in 2020 is go back and reread my favourite books. This is something I did far more when I was younger. I would read Lord of the Rings and Harry Potter yearly. I haven’t read either series in at least 5 years. So I’ve made a list of 30 of my favourite books which I want to go back and reread.
I have a post coming out in a few days about my favourite books of the decade. One of the things which makes a book one of my favourites is if I want to reread it over and over. I probably won’t blog about my reading challenge. However, I might write some reviews which can be found on Goodreads.
A lot of the design and calligraphy work I’ve had this year has come through word of mouth. I’m not really at the point where I’m advertising myself online. But in 2020 I would like to start building this as a proper business.
I have a few various ways I want to go about this. I have plans for setting up a new blog. One of the things I’ve learned this year is that it’s not good being known as a design student when trying to get design work. Even though I’m almost 30 and have been doing design work in various forms for 10 years.
One of the things I wanted to do this festive season was make cards and wrapping paper. I never quite found the time for it because of university so I want to plan my time much better in 2020. Hopefully, I should have a full range of Christmas items to sell next year.
I’m not sure if I will get enough work over the year to justify setting myself up as an actual business. But I want to do as much prep work as I can in 2020.
Over the summer I tried not using social media for a week. It didn’t turn out quite how I hoped as it showed I was still reliant on social media for some work-related stuff. But it did make me start thinking about how I use social media.
I’m trying to be more mindful about what I’m sharing on social media, especially on Twitter. I’m trying to make that just an account for my blog. It’s not that I even want to spend less time on social media, but I think I should be sharing less about my personal life.
Instagram is one platform I’m trying to spend less time on. I sort of fell out with Instagram in 2019 because I was finding it hard to get my work seen. This is one of the reasons why I want to set up a blog for my design work instead.
I don’t check my ThePaperKindco account on Instagram at all and I’m much happier for it. This is a really bad decision to make when it comes to the Instagram algorithm. It does mean that I miss comments and messages. But I don’t spend all my time focusing on how many interactions a post gets or if I’m losing followers. I think I need to do the same for my other social media accounts. Not just Instagram.
I don’t want to talk too much about this in case I anger the Adsense gods. But I got my first payout this year from blogging. Weirdly this has validated what I’m doing. I never set out to make money from my blog. I don’t think I would like to do this as a full-time job.
Now its almost like I’ve been permitted to continue and put more time into this. In terms of blog posts, I don’t think I will increase from my once a week schedule. However, I do want to put more effort into the content I produce to make it as good as it can be.
In terms of word count, I would love to hit 100,000 words in 2020. Increasing my word count is something I’ve only recently started to work on. For the longest time, I was averaging 600 words a post. But weirdly my blog started becoming more popular in 2019 right around when I started increasing my word count. I don’t know if the two are linked but I do feel that having longer posts are better if the content is useful.
I would also love to start making videos this year. I’m not intending on becoming a full-blown YouTuber but I do think some content works better as video compared to a written post. In no way am I going to start focusing on YouTube rather than my blog. I think it would just be a nice addition.
And that was a very comprehensive look back over 2019. I’m quite excited about 2020. I’ve got a lot of projects that I want to work on. Hopefully, it should be a good year. I know for a fact I’m going to get even busier as my final year at university gets closer.
Let me know in the comments about what goals you have for 2020. Wishing you all a good new year.