The First 3 Months of Blogging + What I’ve Learnt

Photo by Kelly Adams Photography
On 7 October 2017, SPARKLE on darling turned 3 months old. Still pretty fresh in the internet stratosphere for a blog, but these 3 months were a learning curb and a half, so I wanted to share with you from launch until now what I went through during this time being a new blogger and what I learnt blogging in the big world wide web, what I’m still learning and where my future vision lies for SPARKLE on darling.

I want to start by saying (given the name of my blog) that these first 3 months haven’t been all SPARKLE at all, there’s still been a lot of self doubt, tears and anxiety around what I’m doing, why I’m doing it and if it’s all worth it. It’s not an easy feat having any kind of social platform or site on the internet, especially when it’s for public viewing. It takes a lot of  ‘I don’t care what people think’ pep talks to publish content and stay present, to stay true to your path and your vision. I think we sometimes forget that there’s a real person with feelings behind the content online, putting it together and questioning their every move before they hit publish. This is something I still struggle with regularly over on my personal Instagram account @chloeawilson, and sometimes here too, but I’m working on it every single day and I don’t intend on giving up.

I’ve learnt that being raw and real in a public space doesn’t come easy to anyone, no matter who you are, you have to work hard and not give up, it takes a lot of heart and courage to show up and embrace who you really are.

I work full time so a lot of my personal down time goes into writing and creating content for posts, in saying that I remember reading when I first started working on my blog that you must have content backed up and ready to go when you are blogging in order to be successful. Well, let me tell you that I’ve missed a couple of weekly posts already from mental and physical exhaustion (eg. sleeping all weekend) and lack of love and inspiration to write, edit and hit publish, hello real life. I originally started posting on Fridays and then realised that this soon became stressful for last minute editing as I work Monday to Friday, so I made the decision within a couple of weeks from launch to move publishing to Sundays. This as much as it was different from my original plan and the fact I knew it would hugely affect my readers stats, for me this was my first smart blogging decision I made as a new blogger because I started enjoying the process all over again.

I’ve learnt that you can always change the path you are on, that there is no right or wrong way to do ‘life’, as long as you are enjoying the ride.

I remember hitting publish to launch my blog and not knowing what to expect. I made a pact to myself to go against the grain of my organised personality and keep my blogging experience and SPARKLE on darling as organic as possible. I made the decision to take the stats on the shoulder from the very beginning and write from my heart no matter what, never for the ‘numbers’. On the first night SPARKLE on darling had 580 views, since then it has not reached that height, but it has still been a beautifully fulfilling journey as each view, some days there might only be one, is still someone out there finding my blog on the internet and choosing to click on it and read my content (which still feels surreal). When I first started my Instagram account @chloeawilson, I was of the view and still am, that if I inspire just one person or make someone smile, that is success and numbers can never surpass that. It’s hard not to compare your online journey though to someone else’s success, but for me keeping my online presence organic is what has and will continue to set me apart. I want to be relatable throughout it all, which is another reason why I really wanted to write this particular blog post, I wanted to show that behind closed doors blogging is hard and full of emotion, that these aren’t just words on the screen, that every sentence means something to me.

I’ve learnt that you can’t buy authenticity, you have to own it to earn it, and that this in the online world is the most valuable legacy.

Further I would love to share with you some of the stats of where my blog is at. As a brand new sparkling blog it can take a little while to get things moving. It’s said it can take from 6 months to up to two years to get regular traction on a blog or site on the internet. There is so much to consider when it comes to SEO (search engine optimisation), plugging it through social media platforms and financially funding advertising on your blog and vice versa. I once again made the choice in the very beginning to keep it as organic and relaxed as possible, following my heart and doing what felt right with my new journey. Being the one and only #girlboss of my blog right now I still have a lot to learn when it comes to all of these and a long way to go, but needless to say I’m pretty proud of SPARKLE on darling and what the future holds.

Here are some of the raw and real statistics from 7 July 2017 until now:

Blog Views on Launch Day 580

Total Blog Views until Present 3000+

Location Viewed 30 different countries from around the world

Email Subscribed Followers 36

WordPress Reader Blog Post Likes 15

Blog Post Comments 3 (like Instagram I feel like this is one of the hardest stats to grow with passive followers being the majority)

Blog Post Shares 6

Blog Post Count 17 (18 including this one)

Google Ranking Number #1 when searching ‘SPARKLE on darling’ (stat I’m most proud of!)

I’ve learnt that if you really want something that you can always make it happen.

On a final note let’s talk raw and real for a moment, just because someone is a ‘wellness/health/fitness’ blogger doesn’t mean it comes naturally to them, that they always have made and still make the best choices and follow strict routines. Nobody is born to meditate daily, drink green smoothies when they first wake up or workout regularly for an entire year. People become wellness/health/fitness bloggers because they wanted to make change within themselves, to their bodies and their lives, and then share this with the world from a place of love to inspire others. From personal experience and knowledge I have of some close friends in the same niche, we didn’t start here. To be brutally honest I could write a little black book of my past. I’ve been in some extremely dark and toxic places, but it’s because of this, my past, my story, that I found this world of feeling good and learning to look after myself. That’s why writing is so important to me, it gives me the opportunity to share my story in the hope that how I deal with everyday life might help others too, hence welcome SPARKLE on darling to my story line.

I’ve learnt to embrace my past because that is what has lead me to be who I am today, everyone has a chapter one and it never looks the same as the middle, but it’s still a crucial part of the story.

Photo by Kelly Adams Photography
I hope you enjoyed this ‘behind the screen’ update about my blogging journey so far. I know how long it took me to pursue this dream of mine, so writing blog posts like this is my way of giving back to my beautiful readers and hopefully inspiring another aspiring blogger to do the same, to chase their dream of creativity into the online world. I know first hand that it can be extremely daunting at first, and that it takes a lot of hard work and commitment, but I promise you a thousand times over that it’s worth it, no matter what, it’s always worth following what you know is your truth. You may feel like there are already enough ‘bloggers’ or creatives out there doing their thing, let me be the first to tell you that that is total rubbish (throw it in the recycle bin), nobody is doing what you will do because nobody is you, and this is your biggest asset. The world needs your SPARKLE.

All my love,

The Pressure of Work/Life ‘Balance’ + Why I Blend Instead

Photo by Kelly Adams Photography

Do you feel pressured to find the perfect balance in your life? The balance between work and health and play? I know that feeling all too well. The pressure behind having to do it all to be happy. This pressure is not only heavy on our shoulders which therefore affects our wellbeing (contradiction right), it doesn’t help create balance at all, for me personally I find the connotation behind balance to be stressful and in my personal opinion, overrated.

Most of us don’t live a life where we can find perfect ‘balance’ on a daily basis. We go to bed unsure of how we are going to feel when we wake up, we don’t know what’s ahead and the reality is that we don’t really know what might happen at any given moment that could throw us a curve ball, this all leads to balance not being a feasible approach to life. I use to believe in it, I have read so many articles about how to find it, how to create it and how to make it happen, until I couldn’t find it, I couldn’t create it and I couldn’t make it happen in amongst the chaos of life, which is why I now ‘blend’ instead.

Blending for me came about when I heard Lisa Messenger talk at the Utopia Women’s Wellness event in Brisbane back in 2015. She too doesn’t believe in balance, but instead believes in blending all the things you need to do with all the things you should do along with the things you love without the pressure of the perfect mix. She believes in working hard, looking after yourself and enjoying life, but with no set ‘routine’ on how to do it, but just to do it and do it when it works and feels good for you. I had a personal epiphany when she spoke of ‘blend’ instead of balance like I’d heard so many other health and wellness advocates out there preach about, it affected me on such a deep level that I’ve never forgotten it. It truly was a total life changing moment for me during my personal journey when suddenly all of this pressure and expectation was lifted off my shoulders all at once, when I stopped focussing on balance once and for all. I’ll be forever grateful for her wisdom that day.

So how do I blend? Well, firstly I threw my ‘routines’ out the window and welcomed with open arms a list of the things I need to do, should do and love to do, except this time in no particular order just that I want to do them on a daily/weekly basis and that this would be enough. This change of mindset was everything. I went from feeling like I needed to fit all these extra to do’s around my Monday to Friday, 8.30 to 5 job on a daily basis, at a particular time, the perfect percentage of each, to falling in love with each and every to do all over again, instead of resenting them or just not ‘having the time’. I still get it all done, but in my own time and in time.

Some days all I focus on is work and that’s ok, others are all about my health and wellbeing, some days I fit in both, and then other days I do nothing but self love. It’s very rare anymore that I try and fit everything in on one day or week. I never try to ‘balance’ it all or anything at once anymore, I guess you can say I went from a strict pressured ‘routine’ to get it all done and ticked off to living an organic rhythmic life. Through blending I’ve found true happiness and peace within the everyday no matter what I do, and I won’t ever look back.

How to Blend

  • Stop telling yourself you have to find the perfect work/life balance, because you don’t!
  • Get rid of that over populated daily to do list and look up bullet journalling to ease the pressure (you can thank me later).
  • Realise that ‘life happens’ so if you don’t get something done today that there is always tomorrow, take the pressure off yourself once and for all.
  • Don’t look at anything in life in a ratio that you need to achieve, try to go with the flow a little more.
  • Focus more on your life than what others are doing, tust me when I say that they haven’t found the perfect ‘balance’ either, because there isn’t one.
  • Work all day today, play all day tomorrow, there’s no rule book that says any two days need to look the same.
  • Know that you can change your course at any given time, when you blend you are the driving force behind each moment, HELLO Blend Queen (or King).
Photo by Kelly Adams Photography

I had so much fun writing this blog post and sharing with you something that I hold very close to my heart, something that has totally changed the way I live my life for the better, and forever. If you have a ‘balance’ story or you blend as well I would love to hear about it in the comments below. BLEND over balance, every single day.

All my love,

My Journey to No Makeup

Photo by Kelly Adams Photography

I previously wrote about the beginning of my low tox journey and the products I started with (you can read it here The Beginning of My Low Tox Journey + Nourished Life Delivery), I also mentioned that I hardly wear makeup anymore and promised a post dedicated to this. So this is for anyone wanting to do the same, wondering where to start and how I got to the point of confidence within my own skin. Before I begin I will point out that I don’t wear makeup ‘most’ of the time, I do though still wear it for special occasions or events.

Makeup was a non negotiable daily part of my routine. I would shower, get dressed and then put a full face of makeup on before I left the house, every, single, day. Not only is makeup expensive when you use it every single day, but it was also taking up my precious morning time before I would begin my day. At night I would again have to make time to take it all off. Exhausting right? It sure was.

When I began my low tox journey I also threw out nearly all of my makeup along with the other body products, so going bare faced was going to be a step of this new journey regardless. I will do a further post in the future of the makeup I now wear when I do decide to wear it, and let me tell you, compared to before this is an extremely minimal routine. I am not saying for anyone to go into their bathroom and throw it all out, I jumped into the deep end straight away, but if you are thinking about it, start small and work your way to a more natural routine in the way of makeup, and believe me when I say this is incredibly liberating after wearing it for so long, day in, day out, not to mention the money you save in the long run.

Now let’s talk about that liberating journey. I remember the first day I decided not to wear it out.. I felt extremely self conscious, like I was ‘unfinished’ and not, if I dare say,  at all beautiful in my own skin. Makeup made me feel beautiful, it made me feel ready to take on the world. This should not be the case though for anyone out there, we shouldn’t have to cover up to be confident. I kept at it though, I stopped wearing it on the weekends first, and then eventually I stopped wearing it to work, and you know what? Nobody was looking at me any differently, nobody said anything to me, nobody even noticed. I now wake up in the morning and am ready in about 10 minutes, leaving me an abundance of time leftover, say hello to relaxed mornings.

My skin now glows in the morning when I wake up, I don’t feel the need to cover up anymore. In fact the last time I put makeup on I looked at myself in the mirror and had a little epiphany, I realised I actually prefer the image of myself without it now. I’ve gotten more compliments on my complexion than I ever did with a full face of makeup. I also love not having to take it off at night and instead just getting ready for bed and still feeling fresh faced.

I know this may not be a journey to take on for some as some of us have skin issues and we use makeup to make ourselves feel better, trust me when I say I’ve been there, I’ve hated what I saw in the mirror without makeup and was once medicated to relieve my skin issues, but it wasn’t until I stopped using all of these products on my skin (taking the medication included), it wasn’t until I stopped clogging my pores every day with an extra few layers, that my skin really started to heal and finally flourish how it naturally should.

Once again this has been and still is an extremely liberating experience for me, sure it took a lot of days (weeks even) of deep breaths in the mirror and self love pep talks to leave the house feeling self confident, it took daily persistence every day and making myself hold my head high no matter what, but I’ll never look back. Remember it’s the world that makes you feel like you need to cover up (or money driven marketing schemes if we want to go there), you should never have to, for anyone. You were born natural and naturally beautiful you still are. Don’t let anyone tell you otherwise.

Have you started a no makeup journey or are you thinking about it? Tell me about your journey or leave any questions you may have in the comments below.

If you have any questions or would like to contact + collaborate with me, you can reach me personally at sparkleondarling@outlook.com.au.

All my love,

Podcasts I Love + Reviews

When I’ve written or spoken about podcasts, the first question I’m asked is, ‘How and where do I begin listening to podcasts?’. Well, firstly I must tell you that I can’t speak for Androids as I am an iPhone lover, so if you too have an iPhone you will have a pre-installed app called ‘Podcasts’. Now, it can be deleted so if you can’t find it just re-download it from the App Store. From here you can search for the podcast you want to listen to or browse by category, too easy. Also, if the host has a YouTube channel sometimes they upload the podcasts to here as well, or if they have a website or blog sometimes they link it through there too. Podcasts are also free to listen to, from what I can tell so far there is no catch.

Make sure your phone and headphones are at the ready, cuppa in hand if you’re like me. I can’t wait to share with you some of my favourites I’ve quite literally binged listened to..

Podcast: ‘Mindfulbiz’ (https://relauncher.com.au/blogs/health)

Subject: Business/Health/Wellness

Host: Alison Morgan

Overview

Alison creates episodes full of tips and tricks for a range of topics around businesses of all kinds, she also interviews people from a variety of health and wellness businesses from start up to flourishing, the behind the scenes, their ups and their downs and their own tips and tricks for how to make it happen.

My Review

I first started listening to this podcast when I needed some personal inspiration for my own journey, not (yet) a business, but I was losing love for something I had put a lot of work and energy into creating and building. I don’t believe that you have to have things up and running in order to learn, I believe the key is to always be learning and never stop no matter the stage you are at in your endeavours. I also discovered some of what are now my favourite brands from this podcast, and I am so glad that I did (aka name drop Matcha Maiden I’m looking at you!). So, whether you are starting off with a little online community like me and are looking for inspiration for content or your audience, or are about to ‘start’ a start up, you won’t regret this podcast subscription.

Some of My Favourite Postcast Episodes

  • Branding and Personality with Sarah Holloway from Matcha Maiden
  • Vision Into a Reality with Terry from The Source Bulk Foods
  • From Blogger to Business Owner with Laura from My Pollyana Lifestyle Blog and store Hero Stockbridge

Podcast: ‘The Melissa Ambosoni Show’ (https://melissaambrosini.com/podcast/)

Subject: Health/Wealth/Love

Host: Melissa Ambrosini

Overview

Melissa interviews incredibly passionate and dedicated souls in their field from all around the world. Some of which I now highly admire, and without this podcast they might still be missing from my life. You name it, she’s spoken to someone, somewhere about it. What I love most though is that a lot of the people Melissa interviews are people who have impacted her or her loved ones lives in a big way, so they are chosen out of personal experience, not just qualifications, meaning a lot of their stories are highly relatable, and if not relatable they are someone you will soon realise that you want to know too.

My Review

I am, in short, addicted to this podcast. From the very first episode I knew it was love at first listen, I was totally hooked. Some of the episodes have been life-changing for me personally. I have learnt so much and taken a lot on board that I need to work on, and gained a whole lot of knowledge for my future that I cannot wait to utilise. It is seriously filled with so much goodness about health, wealth and love. I promise you after a few episodes you will leave with everything you came for and so much more. This podcast subscription is more than worth your time.

Some of My Favourite Podcast Episodes

  • #3 How to Solve All Your Problems with Dr John Martini
  • #5 Heal Your Gut Heal Your Life with Kirsty Wirth
  • #17 How Yoga (Litterally) Saved My Life with Bhava Ram

Podcast: ‘The Slow Home Podcast with Brooke McCalary’ (http://slowyourhome.com/the-slow-home-podcast/)

Subject: Slow/Simple Living/Minimalism

Host: Brooke McCalary

Overview

Brooke interviews a range of people on the same or similar path as her and her family, focused around slow, simple and minimalist living. Her and her husband (and co-host) Nick also do ‘Hostful’ episodes where they answer questions from their listeners. I truly believe that in our fast paced world, taking on a few of the tips, tricks and ideas from these episodes will change your life, or at least give you insight into where you want to go and the person you want to be.

My Review

This has to be one of my most favourite podcasts. Brooke and Nick are relatable, funny and kind hearted. How I actually came across this podcast was after reading Brooke’s book ‘Destination Simple’, which I have done a book review on (you can read it here Book Review: Destination Simple by Brooke McAlary). Trust me when I say this podcast subscription is life changing.

Some of My Favourite Podcast Episodes

  • #22 Cait Flanders on Simple Money and Mindful Budgeting
  • #31 Low-tox Living with Alexx Stuart
  • #38 Zero Waste Living with Bea Johnson

I hope you enjoyed my very first review of podcasts on SPARKLE on darling. If you have listened to or listen to any of these in the future I would love to know your thoughts about it in the comments below. Make sure to subscribe to SPARKLE on darling back on the home page to ensure you don’t miss the next one.

If you have any questions or would like to contact + collaborate with me, you can reach me personally at sparkleondarling@outlook.com.au.

All my love,