Friday, January 22, 2016

Look, This Blogging Thing Ain't Easy - Reflecting on 2015


I hope that everyone had an amazing holiday and ushered in the new year with a refreshed mind and spirit!  As I mentioned in my last post, I had a need to regroup and refocus and a strong need to spend time with my family.  This blogging game is NO takes a lot of work, a lot of time and giving a lot of yourself to do things as a one woman show.  Simply put, I needed a break.

As the HBIC (where's your head?  Head Blogger in Charge!) of this blog, my duties include, creating content, writing posts, photographing all or most images used for posts, scheduling posts, corresponding with sponsors, applying to social media campaigns (which, btw, allows me to financially justify this blog to my husband.....we all know that our spouses aren't going to be happy with us spending time doing anything 'outside the norn' unless it can provide for the household, right?), oh and there is editing photos too....because, try as I might I admittedly am not the best photographer, I have to shop for supplies for styled shoots, for recipes, for parties, if I so chose to, create, record and edit video, OH and then, I have to schedule out all my social media posts on various platforms and then run analytics on them and my blog to make sure that all my posts are actually turning out numbers that matter, so, that I can at least say....'Look sponsor or campaign person, this post got 100 views today and 5 people liked it.....they really, really liked it!!!  I promise....they really did.

On top of the blogging.....I also run an Etsy shop....which means, I design and create printable and handmade party decor, I have to promote that shop, and communicate with customers who like pretty much everything personalized....and have lots of questions.  ADDITIONALLY, I also facilitate a professional party group on Facebook and believe it or not, when I absolutely choose to do so, I take on real live,  actual, client events (honestly, I've let this take a back seat hope is to pick this back up this year).....I should mention, I also work a full-time IT job (fun stuff) - and the most important of my roles is wife and mom. (She craaaaaaay - I know that's what you're thinking)

Do not get me wrong, I have no complaints....I absolutely love blogging.  I'm a person who loves writing and creating, so, blogging is also a welcomed outlet that allows me to follow my passion. However, it can take a toll on a sister!  Factoring all this in with trying to help other people achieve their dreams.....wore my behind out....wiped me out and practically tore me down (mentally and emotionally).

See, my problem is, I love helping people, I love sharing information, I love lifting people up....but I have a HUGE problem.....that problem is that I do not know how to simply say 'I can't....sorry....but I can't.'  I have no clue why I'm this way, I'll leave that to my therapist to help me sort out, but I honestly just love to be helpful.  So, after some major sit-down and some Netflix and chill time.....and some reading of the fabulous Jen Sincero, I decided that this year my goal is to focus more on the ME side of blogging and just be real.....but what does that mean?

During my break, I was forced to reassess what it meant to me to blog.  I thought about what it is that I do, as a blogger, that makes people want to read my posts.  What is it that I share that makes my readers want to come back for more?  What is it that I provide that adds value to their life?  Each time I asked these questions, I felt a little tiny bit empty, because I didn't have a good answer.  The answers should have come easily, but they just didn't.  So, I had to really sit down and think about what I wanted to focus on this year.  I had to think out what would put me in a position to make this blog worth anyone's time.  I love to help, but was I being helpful to the people who read my blog???

I mean, this is a 'party blog'  but lots of people can look on Pinterest now, and throw a party. Planning a party and entertaining at home have always been pretty simple for me.  I can throw a fun party at the drop of a dime, but if YOU as the reader cannot relate to what I'm's worthless.  I can share a post on a great product that I love, but if it doesn't seem genuine or authentic....who am I fooling?  Certainly not YOU.   I can create any number of  DIY or crafty how-to's but, if a non-crafty person can't replicate what I just made or find out where to get it.....I'm wasting everyone's time....and .....ain't nobody got no time for that!

Bottom line, I wanted so much more for this blog but in the process, I lost my footing, I got off track, I compared myself to the many other bloggers in the lifestyle and creative niches and the truth is, I never even had to.  Realizing that I dropped the ball, I took a good long look at my  post from beginning to end.  My earlier posts had crappy pictures but, I was proud of that work!

(Well.....maybe my photos are still crappy.....but they're mine!....and quite honestly they just might always look half-ass crappy because I'm too cheap to hire a photographer.....that's real talk, people.)

As I kept reviewing my posts, especially the recent ones, I was proud with the improvement but, I didn't really hear myself in the words or work I was sharing.  I seriously was trying to keep up with the Joneses.  I have no idea where I fell off, but I realized that it wasn't me.  So, I decided this year that I'm giving more of myself on this blog.

I'm going to just be my crazy, silly self and share more of the things I love.  Those things include stuff that goes far beyond parties.  I am a wife and mom before anything else....I have lots to share about that....

(Me with my little lovies)

I am a paper crafter....I love it and I want to share my mad paper crafting skillz.....I use my Cricut machine, like a bunch, to make party decor and fun projects for my kids!  So, if you're a Cricut-ter.....welcome to my world!

(One of my many boxes full of Cricut creations)

I cook REALLY good meals for my should try some of the dishes I've made.  Since November 2015 I am living a low carb life style....because it's so much better for my body and my doctor approves....I'll be sharing my journey.....and you'll thank me later :)

(I makes me own tomato sauce)

What else???  I am TOTALLY addicted to creative planning.....I share my weekly layouts on Instagram's superfun.....and therapeutic.

I have an Etsy shop......but do you REALLY know what's in it?  If not....ya needs to check me out, Boo-Boo because I'm redesigning all my old printable party kits and this year I am churning out packaged party decor ready to go!!!  Easy-Peezy for my customers to  make their parties pretty.

I looooorve social a bad habit.  I learned a lot on how to work it last year - but it was for someone else.  My goal this year....make it work for me and share what I know with you, mkay?

I'm a closet Christian hippie - you'd never know by looking at me (or even talking to me)....but I totally pray to Jesus and the Universe for love and all the time.  On a quiet day you can find me enjoying an inspirational book and some cawfee! 

(Get this's AWESOME)

I am an entrepreneur and have had many ups and downs and trials with just trying to make this all work. With all my badass knowledge and such....I have so much to share with you - and that's one of my goals this year, to just share the real me!  Tha REAL KIKI (boatloads of fun, doesn't take herself too seriously, loves to joke and talk smack, but loves hard on everyone).

(cheeky, no?)

I hope you're interested in all of that, because it's all I got.

Over the course of this year, I plan to make a few key changes to my blog and I can't wait to share all that will be happening with that later this year.

Now, on to what went down in 2015........

What I set out to do and what happened.....

My goals for 2015 was to work with more brands and sponsors, and go beyond just doing parties....and I am proud to report that met those goals last year!

2015 started out AMAZING with my trip to BASH.  This was my first time going to a blogging conference and I was fortunate to be able to do so because I was asked to help out as part of the conference team by handling all social media promotion for the conference.  I was able to meet my fellow party peeps and party bloggers whom I admired for years.  Some of these ladies I've actually become friends with and formed working partnerships.

BASH was also a blessing in disguise as it allowed me opportunities to work and connect with some amazing brands.  Being around so many fantastic women and just the experience I gained as the social media coordinator was invaluable.   It played a huge part in my professional development last year and I took it very seriously - almost to a fault.  It was a bittersweet experience because I chose to end working as the Social Media Coordinator in September of last year because it took SO MUCH out of me. I simply could not work at the level I was working at (scheduling posts, studying trends, analyzing stats, reporting, creating content, scouting images, developing and maintaining a social media presence and more) for free.  One day I'll share how NOT to drive yourself bat-ass crazy whilst working for free :)   Overall, it was such a great opportunity, I learned so much, and I gave it a good, there's that.

Here I am with a few ladies I heart and ironically, I've gotten to work in some capacity with some of them last year into this year.  Pretty cool!

On the heels of BASH I came home and immediately styled and planned a Mardi Gras Dinner Party with friends for  Getting this company to sponsor this post was a result of me reaching out to them, writing a proposal and,  pitching an idea to them for Mardi Gras.  Essentially, a cold request to a sponsor.  Kinda proud of myself for that.  Bonus was that I got to host this dinner soiree with a group of fun loving gal pals.....and I love how it all came together.

Brenda Byers of Great Stitch is probably one of the sweetest people you will ever meet!  I adore her and last year she featured one of my pompom garlands for her Valentine's Day photo shoot.  She makes the most adorable embroidered outfits for kids.  She even custom made a top for the Mini Diva's Fashionista Party.  She's amazing - check out her shop, Great Stitch!

As a blogger, one puts a LOT of time and energy into create posts.  At some point, you realize you have to make your blog work for you by monetizing it.  It just makes sense  One of the ways I decided to monetize my blog was signing up with an agency and write sponsored posts.  I knew by doing this, however, I only wanted to work with brands or products that I loved or would use in my normal life.  Imagine how I excited I was when I got to work with a Nestle product and cranked out these Easter cookies!

And then, if I hadn't been partnered up enough.....I got to work with SIZZIX!  Whaaaat?!!!  I met one of the kind ladies from the Sizzix team at BASH and she sent me their electronic cutting machine and asked that I create a video on how to use it to make a project....and I did....and it was AWESOME!  You can check out all the details on the Party Dress Favor Box I created!

Oh and btw I partnered up with some fabulous party bloggers and created The Party Gals Linky - a bi-monthly linky party where we share our own posts from our blogs and favorite linked posts from our readers - pretty kewl!  

Take note of my photo above from BASH and the gorgeous Toni Barrett Roberts is in one of the pics with me.  She's the Queen B of Design Dazzle and is just an absolute sweetheart.  Well, last summer, I participated in her Summer Camp, and shared my Backyard Glamping and Camping ideas with a how-to on making an easy tent that I decorated with pompoms!  So much fun - I even saw my idea being used in TV ads for Gymboree and on the Pottery Barn site.  How about that?!!!

Another brand/sponsor opportunity came about with Royal Design Studio. I shared how to make an Etched Glass Stenciled Hurricane!

and then this happened......EXPRESSIONERY STAMPS, LAURA KELLY AND WORLD MARKET.  Yup - that Laura Kelly and that World Market - so much fun!

Another year of the 13 Days of Handmade Halloween is always a good time and my 'makers' did not disappoint!!!!  

Getting to do a front door post with Modern Masters was also pretty cool mostly because I got my Mr. to get in on the fun and also because it gave me a reason to paint our front door (almost the same color red....but just with a refreshed look!)

My last favorite moment of the year was this Hot Cocoa Party I styled for Oriental Trading.

Suffice to say folks, my 2015 was biz-aaaay.  I couldn't have asked for a better way for it to go....I set out to do a lot and did do a lot.  Am I happy where I am or where I ended?  Not really, but it's's fine because I can still press forward and take all that 2015 handed me and kick ass in 2016.

I plan to take all that I learned last year and bring it into 2016 with a positive outlook on the year ahead.  The best part of it, will be sharing it with anyone who cares to read about all my shenanigans, and hoping it will bring some happiness to the person reading!!!!

I can't wait to make 2016 be the ya'll - LET'S GET IT!

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