mint’s new chapter

I read Design*Sponge’s State of the Blog Union last week with great interest, as the changing blog world (and my place in it) is something I’ve been contemplating for the past couple years.

I discovered blogs in 2007 — a little late, for sure. I was a recent college graduate, sidetracked with an AmeriCorps stint that left me feeling lost and unsure of where I was heading. When I discovered design blogs, I realized two things: there were other people interested in what I was interested in, and that because of the online marketplace, people were able to start small businesses that wouldn’t have been feasible a few years before. Two things that seem obvious today!

I devoured sites like Design*Sponge until I felt like I was going to explode if I didn’t start sharing some of the amazing things I was discovering on a blog of my own. I spent hours staking out corners of bookstores, with big stacks of design magazines and books around me. I began working several part-time jobs with graphic designers and interior designers to get my foot in the door. Soon thereafter, I landed my first full-time graphic design job. In 2008 I began Mint and was blogging several times a day. That sounds like a lot, but it was easy — I had so much to share because my world had just gone from being very small to being so very big. There weren’t a ton of design bloggers posting several times a day, so there was a sense of camaraderie among those of us who were. It was easy to quickly gain readers and stand apart.

Since my early blogging years, my focus has shifted. As dozens of full-time design bloggers turned into thousands, as it became harder to have a voice and be heard, harder to get advertisers to offset the enormous number of hours it takes to keep a daily blog going, my attention was turning more toward my business, my husband, and my friends. I think it was in 2011 that I started wondering “what to do about” Mint. I started to realize that there would always be someone harder working, with a prettier house, cooler wardrobe, and better photography skills. Reading blogs stopped being fun and became depressing — everything was a little too shiny and perfect. I’d go back to old Mint posts that I used to be proud of, and feel embarrassed that I ever thought they were worth publishing. It stopped being acceptable to just post on other people’s work, something I was pretty good at, to creating longer, original content, while figuring out how to share that content in a unique way across many social media platforms. While I think that made blogs more interesting on the whole, it all made me less interested in blogging. I was already working so hard and it seemed that now I’d have to work much harder, for mostly intangible benefits.

I’ve also struggled with my voice as a blogger. I have mixed feelings about posting personal stuff online, so I feel constantly torn between wanting to share more and wanting to share less. You’ve seen me try posting schedules and weekly columns, paid blog contributors, and short breaks hoping the burnout was just a temporary thing. When you’ve done something every single day for years, it’s really hard to stop. Who am I if I’m not blogging here every day? I’ve done a lot of growing up and finding myself while blogging right here, and now that my focus continues to shift away (hey, baby Juna!) I find it even harder to know my place in the blog world. It has opened doors for me, allowed me to make wonderful connections, and to grow a business. It’s scary to think about leaving this daily-design-blogger world. (Does it mean no more doors, connections, growth? Will my business suffer if I’m not here every day at 9am?)

I am fortunate that Hello Tenfold is still my full time job today, over four years after starting it. I feel giddy when I open my studio door in the morning, look around, and realize that I’ve created a business where I get paid to do what I love. The time I took away from work while I was pregnant and during Juna’s early months made me realize that I love my job down to my bones. I want to grow Hello Tenfold, and to do that, I will need to let some things go.

I’m not letting Mint go completely, not exactly. But I want to transition it from an I-post-about-everything-everyday blog to a more narrowly focused blog about my studio and inspiration relating directly to my stationery work. It’s a natural transition but a tough one, because closing doors (or changing six year old habits) is never easy.

I envision a Mint with fewer posts, and more Hello Tenfold related posts. I’m don’t know if that means starting a new blog, or blogging right here with a different focus. I don’t know if this new project will be called Mint, or if it will be Hello Tenfold. It feels good to make this project smaller, more in line with my real everyday life and interests. Perhaps this sounds like an anticlimactic end to a very long blog post, but for me it’s a completely different way of thinking about blogging, and a challenge to figure out how to turn what interests me on a daily basis into something that will interest you, too. And ironically, the more I think about it, it looks like what I’ve been loathe to do in the first place — more original content. But I hope I can learn to think less about what is the “right” way to blog, and more about what is the happiest way for me to blog.

So, onward. And thank you for reading.

—Ellie

20 Responses to “mint’s new chapter”

Rebecca

February 5, 2014 at 5:10 pm

Thank you for this post and best wishes to you as you transition mint! I’ve been following your blog for a while and you constantly inspire me– this post is no different!

I used to run a (small but steadily read) blog that I fell into the trap of comparing myself to other bloggers that had more time, more resources, more of an eye, and more thoughts to put to paper (er… screen). I fell into the trap of constant comparison and, inevitably, lost my blogging voice. Since becoming a new mom and growing a new business, I found the need for a creative outlet– but knew I couldn’t return to my old blog and all the baggage (self-inflicted or otherwise) it contained. Now I’m trying to start anew, but to find a focus to my energy, instead of sharing it all. It’s going to take a couple tries, but hopefully I’ll find my pace. Posts like this one make me believe I will.

Looking forward to your new chapter!

Darcy

February 5, 2014 at 8:48 pm

I’m excited to see the site focus more on Hello Tenfold. Your work is fantastic and inspiring and as a designer who would love to grow my own brand the way you have, I am very interested in the behind the scenes of Hello Tenfold. Kudos to you and good luck!

Kristin

February 5, 2014 at 10:15 pm

Rebecca’s comment is everything I was thinking as soon as I finished reading your post. As a blogger who has a separate full-time job, it’s extremely difficult to keep up with the competition of every other blogger who has made their blog their business, and their full-time career. They can afford to spend money on staging instagram pictures, providing original content on their websites, keeping up with their Twitter and Facebook accounts — not only because they have the time, but because that is what they get paid and sponsored to do. I have tried so hard to keep up with it…but it has become exhausting; something that began as a fun hobby. I have stumbled upon several small blogs that speak to me much more than popular blogs with writters who — sure, might have gorgeous pictures of pretty things and great content — but do not connect with their readers because they have so many comments on a daily basis, they have no time to respond to any of them, or probably even read half of them. I really appreciate this post, and I wish you the very best with Mint’s new chapter. Focus on the things that bring you happiness every day and leave you feeling fulfilled. You have to do what’s best for you. I look forward to the upcoming transition of your blog’s content :)

Laura

February 5, 2014 at 10:19 pm

Happy to hear your thoughts and that you are willing to move in a new direction that suits you better! Congrats and I will happily be reading whatever you post whenever you post it :) Thanks for Mint – I’ve so enjoyed it!

Stacy

February 5, 2014 at 11:29 pm

This is an incredibly thoughtful, well written post. I can relate to how you’re feeling, although I am not a blogger, but this can be applied to other aspects of life in this day and age of overexposure.

I applaud you for following your heart on this matter, and wish all the best.

Take care :D
Stace

Sarah

February 6, 2014 at 4:35 am

Good for you! I think minimal and not overwhelming content is the way forward and it must be a lot more fun to produce content for than constantly feeling like it’s not good enough. You’re great at it either way. All the best going forward!

p.s. your house is gorgeous!

Kristina

February 6, 2014 at 7:11 am

As someone who has been visiting Mint daily for the last 4 years, I am a bit sad about the wind-down. Nevertheless, good luck 8)

Charlotte

February 6, 2014 at 8:52 am

I am really touched by your post and relate to all of it. I think I started blogging in 2006, just for of the sheer of it, thought my original motivation was aesthetic (though not strictly design)…but have a traveled a very similar path to yours to the point that I too struggle EXACTLY as you describe with where to take what began as a daily proposition. (I was even stupid enough to put “daily” in the name of the blog.) In any case, I support your decision whole-heartedly, and will look forward to whatever you decide to post. You’re a very talented woman with an excellent eye, and whatever interests you will continue to interest us. Thanks for all you’ve given so far and for whatever you chose to give in the future.

anne | flax & twine

February 6, 2014 at 9:06 am

I think it’s important to follow where your heart and body are leading you. I love that you are moving on, transforming and doing what feels right for you. Building something you love is much more important than doing something because you think you should. Bravo! I look forward to seeing what comes.

ellie

February 6, 2014 at 4:39 pm

Rebecca,
Thanks and good luck to you as well — it’s hard to block out the noise and find your own rhythm, for sure.

Joanna Dee, Laura, Stacy, Sarah, Anne,
Thank you! Your kind words mean a lot.

Darcy,
Thank you very much for saying so! It’s always a work in progress but I hope I can open up a bit and care less about the mess — literal and otherwise!

Kristin,
It’s so sad when a hobby becomes a chore! I’m with you. Thanks for the encouragement.

Kristina,
4 years, thank you so much! I am very grateful for your daily visits. While the posts won’t be daily any more, I hope they’ll still be worth checking out ;)

Charlotte,
Glad to hear I’m not alone! (And, choosing a blog name is fraught with peril.) Thank you.

Indounik

February 6, 2014 at 9:18 pm

Ah, Ellie. Don’t be torn and tortured. Be proud of what you’ve achieved with Mint, of the ground you broke, of the personal growth that was achieved along with it, and of the helping hand that you have given many with your kind, considerate, and informative features. I’ve never quite made the transition to blogging but I can relate to all you’ve said here. The lines that divide between what should be public and private in our lives have become so blurred that it’s hard to know any more where to draw them. However, as someone who also loves the little business they’ve built up thanks to the world wide web, I know that your passion for your work and your business will help you find the right voice. Be happy. Semoga sukses!

ellie

February 7, 2014 at 12:07 pm

Indounik,
Thanks for your kind words and encouragement, and for all of your comments over the years! They are always appreciated.

Angela Walley

February 8, 2014 at 12:03 am

I’ve been online since I was a teenager and aware of blogging before the term even existed. It took me a while to start a little blog, but the past four years I’ve noticed a dramatic shift in the number of new blogs that cover everything. I made the recent decision to delete the facebook and twitter pages associated with my blog because I found them distracting and not really why I started my blog (that’s also why I don’t own a smart phone). Things have truly changed and it’s hard to stay confident when so much talent and content is all around you all the time. Some people (like Grace over on D*S) will choose to grow and change with the web, but that’s not for everyone. I’ve been a fan of your blog for a long time and I found your post about your Cousin’s Wedding + Hello Tenfold at wonderful tie into what you do. That combination felt so genuine and really stood out to me. So, congrats on all the wonderful work you’ve done here at Mint, and best wishes as you continue to do great things with Hello Tenfold!

ellie

February 10, 2014 at 10:26 am

Thanks so much, Angela! I’m excited to share more of my work and the process behind it. It’s what drives me, so it makes sense to transition in this way, I think. And I’m happy to have the introduction to your beautiful blog!

Dana

February 12, 2014 at 4:40 pm

Hi Ellie, I don’t recall how I found Mint, but I’ve been keeping since about 2007 or 2008. As you wrote, everybody has a blog nowadays, and it’s turned into a cacophony of trends as everyone tries to have the greatest and most popular content. For me, the voice of Mint has always stood out with a more genuine and less trend-obsessed voice, and that’s why I’ve continued to read. I’m happy to hear that you’re scaling this blog to fit better with what you’re doing. I’m a strong believer in diverse content and everything being welcome on the Internet, so doing what truly floats your boat is always better than trying to scream over the other voices. :)

Deena

February 16, 2014 at 12:23 am

ellie,
you’ve done an amazing job with your blog. it has been a regular go-to source of inspiration for me. I appreciate this honest and heartfelt post and could sense a transition was coming (and i totally agree about the current state of the blogosphere)
I also am a newbie mom and becoming a mom puts a twist on your perspective of things and makes you reevaluate what ‘s truly worth the investment of your time and energy. way to go and good luck!

ellie

February 17, 2014 at 2:57 pm

Thank you, Deena! Yes, becoming a mom changes everything. EVERYTHING. It feels good to pare down & reevaluate, as you said. Congrats to you!

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