10 JOYFUL YEARS OF CONTENT CREATION
On 19 June 2008, I created an account on Flickr called Candy Pop, and I posted a few photographs of my home. At the time I was living in a 1930s house which I had just finished renovating, and I was slowly filling it with eclectic vintage collectables. My Flickr account was a fun and slightly bonkers escape from my day job of Head of Operations and Visitor Services at Modern Art Oxford. It became my happy place where I could post my creative captures at the end of each working day.
After a few weeks of sharing my photographs, I discovered a supportive community of online creatives. I’d stumbled upon a gorgeous tribe of like-minded folk who were sharing their lives, their homes and their creative pursuits online. Just like me!
‘Friendship is born at that moment when one person says to another: “What! You too? I thought I was the only one”.’ – C.S. Lewis
It wasn’t long before I wanted a website of my own, so after a little research, I decided to create a blog on Google Blogger. I used the site to share my words and photographs, celebrating the little things in life. Looking back, I guess Candy Pop became a kind of online gratitude journal, enabling me to capture the small everyday moments of joy.
Over 500 blog posts later and I’m still here – taking photos, writing words and hitting publish. I still have butterflies when I post something new, and I’ll always be grateful for having the opportunity to share my creative work online. After all, it wasn’t too long ago that I had to carry my art around in a portfolio! Candy Pop has enabled me to have my images published, write for magazines, collaborate with brands and I’ve even received a few television offers, which I gracefully declined much to the horror of my teenage self!
To celebrate this milestone, I’m sharing ten things I’ve noticed from regularly showing up and sharing online. I’ve learnt a lot about the online world and how to run a blog and social media channels – both as a hobby and a business. It’s been an exciting journey and I’m looking forward to seeing where it leads to next.
The opportunities are open to everyone
The online world gives everyone an open playing field. If you have access to the internet, then you have the potential to share your work and have it seen by a global audience. If you feel you have something a little different to share and you work hard and remain committed, then I truly believe the opportunities will find you. And even if they don’t, I’m sure you’ll have a lot of fun along the way!
There’s enough space for everyone, and it’s never too late
Following on from the first point, I hear a lot of people say, ‘the market is oversaturated’ or ‘it’s too late to start a blog/podcast/e-course/online business and so on.’ I think there’s room for new and innovative ideas, and the cream will always rise to the top. Each one of us is unique and has something distinct to say, the secret is to explore what makes you different, find a way to express it and try not to lose sight of it.
Follow your passion and stay true to your inner voice
With all the online noise it’s easy to get swept away by the paths, dreams and goals of others. And often this can happen without us even realising it. With this in mind, it’s good to regularly take a step back and ask yourself, ‘what do I really want?’. When I do this, it helps me to reset and refocus, getting to the core of my goals and listening to my true inner voice.
We’re all running in our own race
There will always be someone posting, sharing, doing or achieving more, and this is true in every industry. I love the phrases ‘follow your own path’ and ‘stay in your own lane’ because they conjure up a strong visual image of personal space, reminding me of my chosen destination. I think it’s fair to say that everyone is working towards something, and it’s important that we don’t lose sight of our own goal or we might end up running in someone else’s race!
Enjoy the journey
Sometimes we can become so focused on where we want to be that we forget to appreciate where we are right now. A good way to stop this happening is to regularly celebrate your achievements and how far you’ve come. By working from a place of gratitude we can savour the delight of the journey and stop wishing away our precious time.
It’s okay to change direction
‘Is it okay to change direction?’ is another question that comes up a lot. Unless you’ve developed an online business/platform that you’d like to sell, I think it’s fine to change direction if it feels right for you. For example, Candy Pop began as a place to share my life, my home and my vintage collections, and now it focuses on personal and professional development, self-care, creativity and simple living. It’s healthy to develop and evolve – your audience will grow with you or they’ll leave making space for the new.
Try not to obsess over blog stats, follower numbers, likes etc.
To enable creativity to evolve naturally and authentically, I believe it’s healthy to work without striving for approval or feedback. I sometimes hear of people feeling stuck in a particular style, fearing how a change will be received by their audience or the dreaded algorithm! By sticking with what we deem as safe, we may become bored and this can translate into our work. When we let go of the need for approval we can fully embrace our creative journey, and who knows what people or destination it may take us to.
Quality over quantity and less is more
Most of us are a one woman/man band, and so it can be tricky to churn out content week after week, year after year especially when we’re running a business. I love the term ‘less, but better,’ and I applaud those who post very little but when they do it’s worth the wait! I usually post once a fortnight and from my experience, I haven’t received fewer opportunities or lost my audience or community as a result. Always try to go with the flow and do what feels right for you.
We’re all part of a creative movement
We’re all part of a moment in time and history, and thanks to the cameras on our phones, many of us are capturing our everyday lives more than we’ve done before. It’s strange to think that in over 100 years’ time none of us will be here. And I’m sure people will look back at the stuff we created and coin it as a movement. There will always be overlaps and similarities as we move through life seeing the same things and experiencing similar ups and downs. I take strength from being a small piece in the bigger picture, and I feel beautifully connected to the creative souls I’m sharing the space with.
Enjoy spending time offline
I sometimes wonder if the access we have to work online is hampering our creative growth. And as I mentioned before, if we’re constantly consuming the opinions of others we may struggle to hear our own inner voice. I compare it to visiting Speaker’s Corner in London. It’s fun to stop by and enjoy listening to other people’s opinions, but you wouldn’t want to spend the whole day there! With this in mind, I regularly step away, taking some valuable time to switch off and reconnect with the people and world around me. It’s important to me that my ideas and creativity come from my own personal experiences rather than those I see or read online.
Candy Pop’s onward journey…
As you can imagine everyone’s experiences will be different, and there’s so much more I’ve learnt from my ten years of lurking online! As a coach and mentor, it’s a joy to support creative businesses who are just starting out, dipping a toe into the exciting world of blogging and social media.
After writing this post, I’ve decided to take some of my own advice and enjoy a little blog break. I’ll still be sending my monthly letter (if you’d like to receive a copy please join my mailing list) and sharing on Instagram, Twitter and Facebook.
And finally, I’d like to say a huge heartfelt thank you to everyone who has followed and supported me over the years. We live in a busy world, and it’s an honour that you choose to spend a little time with me. And an extra high five to those who have been around since my days of vintage and kitsch collecting – cheers for sticking with me!
Thanks, as always, for stopping by, I hope you have a beautiful and inspiring day.
Just to let you know, I’ve opened up eight coaching and mentoring slots for September onwards. So, if you’d like some support in exploring ideas, getting organised and making a plan, then I’d love to hear from you.