Over the weekend, my floral-inspired blog, Flowerona, was one year old and I can’t quite believe how quickly the last twelve months have flown by!
It’s been an amazing journey so far and today I thought I’d share with you how it all started, the highlights, challenges and plans for the future. Are you sitting comfortably…?
Last year, I’d been running a profitable Virtual PA business for over two years and was unsure of the direction that I wanted to take it. I met a lovely lady called Christine Chalkin who’s an astrologer and decided to have a business consultation with her, which then led to some coaching sessions.
Christine touched on the fact that I didn’t have a creative outlet and suggested that I put together a mood board about things that inspired me. So, I made one and surprise, surprise, 90% of it was pictures of flowers.
For two to three weeks it was propped on my desk and nothing happened…
Until one Friday afternoon, when I started googling creative blogs and found Wee Birdy, a blog which featured amongst other things, posts about birds in the form of paintings, crockery, etc.
That’s when I had my lightbulb moment! I could write a blog about everything to do with flowers…my passion.
Learning about blogging
But I decided I needed to build on this and so in October 2010, I booked on to Holly Becker from Decor8’s fabulous Blogging Your Way e-course (BYW). It was perfect!
Holly explained the importance of having a customised template, being authentic and writing from the heart. Plus the inspiring photography tuition by Leslie Shewring made me realise how important beautiful images would be for my blog.
Fortunately, one of my Virtual PA clients was Flourish, a digital creative agency who as well as running workshops, also create websites and blogs.
I’d always admired their work and didn’t hesitate in asking Fiona and her team to create a floral-inspired blog template for Flowerona.
The blogging community
One of the people also taking part in Holly’s BYW e-course was a lovely lady called Carole King who writes the blog, Dear Designers.
Via the BYW forum, we got to know each other and she mentioned that a group of bloggers were getting together in London and would I like to come along…and I’m SO glad I did.
The group of bloggers became the dbcollective (Design Blogger’s Collective). More about them later…
Thank goodness for Santa
Christmas came and I was very fortunate to get a fabulous digital SLR camera from my lovely husband. I didn’t have a clue how to use it though and so signed up for a three day beginner’s course at a local college. And I soon realised that I’d found a new passion!
Since then, I’ve completed two more ten-week photography courses at another local college, taught by the very talented photographer, Ian Macaulay.
Writing blog posts
At the beginning, I was writing three blog posts a week and then in March this year, I decided to commit to blog Monday to Friday and I’ve done so ever since.
My husband says it amazes him that I’ve got something to write about every day…but I find it very easy! They say that if you love what you do, it doesn’t feel like work and that’s exactly how I feel about Flowerona…
By the way, my most popular blog post with over 10,000 page views to date is Kate’s bridal bouquet…what did you think?.
I’m so pleased that I joined the dbcollective. We’re a group of design bloggers who meet monthly to exchange ideas and learn from each other.
Three of the members launched an on-line interior design magazine in September, called Heart Home. I’m delighted that they not only asked me to write a column for the magazine, but also asked me to contribute to their blog. So, I now write a guest blog post for them every Tuesday.
This summer, I realised that trying to run my Virtual PA business and Flowerona simultaneously was not something I could do long term. There’s only a certain number of hours in the day…and I was working far too many of them.
I realised that my passion lay with Flowerona and therefore made the difficult decision to sell my Virtual PA business so that I could concentrate on my blog. I was very fortunate to find a lovely lady to take over and the sale took place at the end of September.
There have been lots, but here are a few…
- Reading the lovely comments on my blog from my readers
- Meeting and connecting with people on Twitter
- Writing my regular ‘Blooming Lovely’ column for Wedding Flowers magazine
- Writing for Heart Home magazine and blog
- Interviewing florist Simon Lycett at 7.30am one morning at New Covent Garden Flower Market
- Meeting Holly Becker, Leslie Shewring, Sania Pell and Joanna Copestick at Holly’s book launch at Liberty
- Collaborating with garden designer Lisa Cox for our monthly series : Flowers in Pots & Garden Flowers
- Having my first advertiser come on-board – Interflora
- Attending fabulous floristry classes at the Covent Garden Academy of Flowers and meeting their founder, Gillian Wheeler
- Meeting and getting to know Helen Evans and her team at New Covent Garden Flower Market
- Liasing with all the very talented UK florists who I’ve interviewed
- Visiting trade shows and meeting designer makers
- Attending the RHS Chelsea Flower Show 2012 Press Launch
- Selling my photographs
Life is not a bed of roses…and there have been challenges along the way. My health’s not been all it could be. A few months ago, I was re-diagnosed with Labyrinthitis/BPPV. It’s not very nice and is all to do with your inner ear and your balance mechanism…something we all take for granted.
People think that you’re fine and there’s nothing wrong with you, because you look normal. Sometimes, though especially when standing in queues, I feel really dizzy and think I’m going to faint…
To cut a very long story short, due to having it for over nine years, my body’s been compensating in different ways, and I’m now seeing a physio and osteopath as my shoulders and back are stiff which has led to RSI issues…not great for a blogger!
But I’m determined not to give up. I take regular breaks (my iPhone alarm goes off every half hour to tell me to get up!) and I’ve got a special saddle chair to help my posture.
People I would like to thank…
First and foremost, my wonderful husband for all his support and encouragement, my mum for being my Chief Proofreader and my family and friends for all their support.
Would love to hear from you…
Thank you everyone for your comments on my blog and via Twitter. They really mean a lot to me…and have often brought a smile to my face and brightened my day.
My aim from day one was for Flowerona to be a ‘feel-good’ blog and I hope that this is how it comes across.
I’d love to hear what you like about Flowerona and what you’d like to see more of on Flowerona. Also, please do tell me about things you think it would be good for me to improve on. Plus any ideas for blog posts…and I’ll credit you!
So please do leave a comment at the end of this blog post…I promise I read them all.
In 2012, I’m planning to monetise Flowerona further as it’s now my main source of income. I’ve got some really exciting ideas about new series of blog posts.
Plus, I’m planning on launching a Flowerona page on Facebook…there I’ve said it, so I’ll have to do it now.
So, that’s my appraisal of the last year. I hope you’ve enjoyed reading it. Well done for getting to the end! Sorry it’s a little long…
It just leaves me now to thank you all for reading Flowerona and I very much look forward to seeing what the next twelve months have in store…
(Images : Rona Wheeldon for Flowerona)