Habits for Contentment Is a website that started as a hope I had for the semester. During the pandemic, I had been feeling everything but content, and I wanted to use this blog as an opportunity to build healthy habits into my life. This essay will cover why I created this blog, and what I have learned over the course of the semester.
What is it about and who is it for?
Habits for Contentment is all about building healthy habits into your everyday life. This is demonstrated through blog posts about thankfulness, generosity, staying active or building a morning routine. While this blog can be for anyone that is looking for ways to find peace during the pandemic, it is mainly for students who are also struggling through the hardships of completing a semester online.
One blog I have taken inspiration from is Andi Anne. She writes about nutrition, health, and messy stories from motherhood. I love this website because of its neutral tonal pallet and clean organization. She creates a sense of order in an occasionally chaotic cyberspace. In my website, I hope to use a similar sense of design and layout to engage with my audience. Check out her blog here.
Who is your public image?
The public image I am hoping to create is one that values vulnerability and honesty. One resource I used when I was first building my public image was Creating your Online Persona by Jack Canfield (n.d.). Canfield talks about how first you must decide who you are, then you can begin building your website and advancing your brand with content (n.d.). This article helped me to focus on understanding who I am as a writer and then decide what to post and how to present myself.
I want to use my blog posts to explore new ways of finding contentment in my life, but I do not want to paint an unrealistic picture of myself having a perfectly content life. I will share the success I have in running and painting, but I will also share my frustrations when I sleep through my alarm or cheat on my morning routine. I want to create a public image that is relatable, accessible, and joyful.
Something I want to try and counter in my writing is the Online Disinhibition Effect which describes how when there is anonymity, people are more likely to shed their usual restraints or integrity (Konnikova, 2013). This can promote engagement and risk taking, but in my website, I want to promote honesty and vulnerability, so I hope to create a different style of engagement with my audience.
This infographic I created talks more deeply about the values of Habits for Contentment. The core values I want to represent through this blog are people centered, vulnerable, honest, and fun loving. Read more about my values here.
How are you addressing your audience through editorial, design, content?
Once I had decided on the purpose of my blog and the online image I wanted to portray, I put together a vision board to help guide my posts, design choice and voice. Take a look at my vision board here.
I want to capture a feeling in my vision board. I want readers to look at my website and feel a sigh of relief like when you take a refreshing walk outside or see a beautiful sunset. My goal is to create a blissful feeling throughout my entire blog. On my homepage I do this by using a clean font and leaving lots of white space. Additionally, I have a picture of wildflowers as a banner on every page of my website to begin curating a feeling of refreshment and peace. My colour pallet has deep greens to symbolize trees with deep root and consistent growth and includes some light pinks to symbolize fun and curiosity.
This article published by Blogging Explorer discussed the importance of understanding your target audience and how to cater your content online (Mikke, 2020). Two points he made were about how your target audience will help you create better content, and have great post ideas (Mikke, 2020). Understanding your audience will help you to know their needs and desires, and understand what they might be looking for in their digital content. This will help to increase reader engagement and build my audience.
One blog post that highlights the purpose and design of my website is Being Thankful for Rain. In this blog post I wrote about how being thankful for the small things in your life can help you to get through hard days. Making thankfulness lists is one way I try to find contentment in my life and is reiterated throughout almost all my blog posts. The design of this post incorporates lots of white space separated by curated pictures that I took of a recent thankfulness list I had made. Being Thankful for Rain is a post that highlights the values of my blog and captures the design aesthetic I hope to maintain throughout my website.
What value are you providing and to whom?
My hope is that through these blog posts I can provide value by offering practical tips and advice on how to live with contentment and joy amidst a pandemic. Some blog posts that do this are 5 Reasons to Try Running and Morning Mishaps & Daily Routines. Both blog posts offer a glimpse into one habit I have tried to implement in my life, and some practical ways they could be applied to my readers lives. Both posts contain external research into how these habits have been proven to improve your health or decrease stress levels.
In the future, I may build monetizing features into my posts such as product promotions or specific collaborations with other bloggers, but these must be directly relevant to my core values and not be misleading to my readers.
What have you learned through Google Analytics?
Google Analytics has been a very fun tool to learn how people are interacting with my website. The most helpful thing I learned was that I had a very high bounce rate, meaning that people would quickly leave my website after visiting the first page. As I was investigating this, I noticed that my home page did not give the reader somewhere to go after reading the introduction. To address this, I linked some of my favourite blog posts to my home page, and my bounce rate has decreased by 15%. There is still lots to learn from Google Analytics, and I have so much to benefit from understanding my audience more and learning how people are interacting with my blog.
Blogging has been an incredible experience in learning about writing, creativity and finding contentment during a pandemic. I look forward to continuing this blog in the future and building my brand image.
Anne, A. (2020, December 02). Andi Anne: About. Retrieved December 04, 2020, from https://andianne.com/about/
Campbell, G. (2009). A Personal Cyberinfrastructure. Retrieved December 04, 2020, from https://er.educause.edu/articles/2009/9/a-personal-cyberinfrastructure
Canfield, J. (2019, November 26). Online Branding: 5 Steps to Create Your Online Persona. Retrieved December 04, 2020, from https://www.jackcanfield.com/blog/online-branding/
Konnikova, M. (2013). The Psychology of Online Comments. Retrieved December 04, 2020, from https://www.newyorker.com/tech/annals-of-technology/the-psychology-of-online-comments
Mikke. (2020, July 24). How to Find Your Blog Target Audience in 2020: The Ultimate Guide. Retrieved December 04, 2020, from https://bloggingexplorer.com/blog-target-audience/
Friends! We’re almost at the end of the semester!!
Online school has been a roller coaster. There have definitely been fun moments, but I think we’ll all be feeling a bit of relief once we can finally close our computers and get ready for Christmas.
One day at a time.
Holy, I cannot believe how fast the semester is going!
I was reflecting on my first process posts this week, and all the fumbling I did initially with Word Press. I started to feel oddly nostalgic about the beginning of this website and how far it has come. It has been so fun to grow in writing, aesthetic, and overall vision.
This week we talked about Google Analytics and SEO. Woah.
Google Analytics has been a really fun tool to experiment and learn with. It was great to have the demonstration in class walk us through some of the more complicated information that is collected through Analytics.
One important thing I noticed is that my bounce rate is quite high at 70%. This means that users are not usually staying on my blog long enough to view content or enjoy the media. I clicked on my homepage to investigate, and I noticed that while my home page is colourful and well organized, it may not be leading viewers into the right area of content. After reading through the welcome message, there is no clear direction for the user to go.
This was confirmed when I looked at the flow of behaviour of users. Most users started on the home page, and then about 50% dropped off after their first interaction. I could decrease my bounce rate by increasing engagement at my home page and directing user flow.
I am going to improve this by updating my home page with a more active vibe, linking users to content and posts that they may be interested in. This way, users will have a clear direction of what they should look at after being introduced to my website.
I am looking forward to seeing how these small changes may affect the way users interact with my blog!
I love this blog!
A Blog for Life Livers is written by Hope Stewart, an adventurer and life liver, sharing her stories of childhood joy and new experiences. Hope writes beautifully about enjoying the life around you and being present in every moment. She uses pictures and poems to portray her feelings and emotions from each adventure, with occasional videos showing small moments that she wants to remember.
This is blog that leaves you feeling refreshed, optimistic, and in wonder. Check out a Blog for Life Livers here.
Hope’s homepage is set with pictures and bold fonts that capture the viewer on first glance. As you scroll through, you’ll see some images that capture the vibe of this website and set the tone for all of her blog posts. There is also a welcome message at the bottom of the page that invites you to consider your own life and how you might create new adventures.
The top menu is well organized and gives the viewer easy access to the media they are looking for. The media gallery highlights Hope’s videos and photos and immerse the viewer into an adventure of their own. Browsing through Hope’s media makes me feel as though I get to experience a little bit of her adventure as well!
This blog presents many beautiful original images that capture the vision of Hope’s website. Creating prints or postcards of these images could be a great way to allow your audience to participate in the stories while supporting your writing! Post cards would be an especially unique product you could sell that represent the slow-ness of handwriting a letter and enjoying every moment.
Check out Hope’s media gallery here.
Another way to market your website could be to partner with tourism companies in encouraging more travelers to come visit their area. Your video of Hornby island captures moments that feel whimsical and magical and could definitely inspire more people to visit those places! One suggestion would be contacting small island communities like Bowen Island, Gibsons, or Lund and offering to make them a video showcasing the best part of their city! This could be a great way to travel, gain more content for your website and generate revenue.
This website is beautifully simple and refreshingly organized, so I would hesitate to incorporate ads that may hinder the viewer experience given that this blog is very experience driven. One possibility for ad revenue could be to partner with related companies to promote products that relate to your blog postings.
An example of this could be with the Mushroom Hunting Blog post. You could reach out to companies that offer classes or books on how to identify mushrooms and then collect revenue based on how may clicks from your blog lead to theirs.
A similar example could be with your Mindfulness and Yoga post. This post links to Yoga Youtubers and workout routines, which could potentially be business partners and generate revenue for your website!
Overall, this is a beautiful website that creates freshness and relief in a busy and confused world. Check out a Blog for Life Livers to enjoy nature, mindfulness, and stealing moments as presented by Hope Stewart.
Stealing moments helps you realize that you are the master of your own time and that you have more control over your own happiness than it may feel. It helps you look for little silver linings in the smallest of things and encourages gratitude and mindfulness.”
Entrepreneurship & Monetization. Hm.
I have a background in businesses and entrepreneurship, so our talk from Trevor was a lot of things I have already heard through marketing classes, but it was interesting to hear in terms of publishing our unique websites.
It seems funny to put a price tag on art and creative work, but for artists and creatives, this is what they deal with everyday.
I have some friends that are musicians, and I’ve heard many times from them about how it can be frustrating to self-promote and sell tickets to shows when really all you care about is the art of creating. I think for this to be sustainable and not a ‘sell-out’ situation, monetization has to be carefully thought out with lots of emphasis put into maintaining your core values.
This is the struggle shown by the “The Toast is Toast” reading (Carpenter, 2016). This blog had incredible content and a strong following; however they weren’t able to get enough financial support, and the administrative tasks of website upkeep became two much for the blogging duo. This is the danger of wanting art to remain separate from business.
In considering my own website, I have linked to a lot of related bloggers and products that my readers may be interested in. If I was to monetize, I would like to carefully curate the businesses being addressed on my site, and preferably I would like to have relationships with the companies I am linking to. This way I could monitor what is being promoted through my voice.
For this semester, I will refrain from installing ads on my website and instead reach out to some bloggers that may be interested in collaborating with me!
Who here loves music?
I actually really didn’t when my parents made me take piano lessons in elementary school. But from that push in my younger years, I have learned to appreciate how music can be a comfort and a friend in times of struggle.
This is a short playlist I’ve put together to cultivate joyful mornings.
It’s a little folksy, a little optimistic, and hopefully a fresh listen for you to enjoy today.
Check out joyful mornings here.
I’ve been in quarantine for two months now, and it is not going the way I expected. When it first started, many people (myself included) saw it as an opportunity to be productive and do things we hadn’t had time for during our everyday lives. Friends told me about their big plans and I read about famous novels and plays that had been written while the authors were quarantined, and it put a lot of pressure on me to finally write a novel. This was my chance, after all. I’d never get another stretch of time this long off work, so if I didn’t do it now, I might never do it. The immense pressure I felt had the opposite effect it was meant to, and I still haven’t done any creative writing, but that’s okay.
I’ve talked about this before, but I really don’t think pressure is a good motivator (at least not for me). I also feel that my goal of writing an entire novel that would (hopefully) one day become a bestseller wasn’t very realistic, and that made it even more difficult to do. I’ve never written a complete novel before, so it is already a daunting task without the added pressure of having to do it before quarantine ends.
Quarantine itself has also been a strange experience; initially I was too stressed to accomplish anything, then I overcame my anxiety and focused on finishing my final projects, and since then, I’ve spent most of my time relaxing. I do feel like I deserve a break; I did just finish my degree after five grueling years, after all. Plus, as I stated before, I’ll never have another stretch of time off like this – it’s possibly the only time I can spend months relaxing until I retire, so I might as well take advantage of it and recharge before I start working full-time (whenever that happens – there aren’t a lot of jobs available right now, for obvious reasons). For these reasons, I have come to terms with the fact that I am not going to write a novel during this time, and I’m okay with that. I still have the rest of my life to write, after all.
So, since I won’t be accomplishing the one big, unrealistic goal I wanted to accomplish, I set my sights on a few smaller goals, and focusing on those has made me feel much better. I had a few realistic goals for this time: I wanted to work out consistently, I wanted to start writing on my blog again, I wanted to grow my nails out (I compulsively pick them – it’s a bad habit I’ve had for years), I wanted to talk with friends more, I wanted to rewatch some of my favourite film series such as The Lord of the Rings and Star Wars, and I wanted to read (as an English major, I’ve barely done any pleasure reading since I started my degree, and I wanted to get back into it).
None of these goals were crazy, unachievable things, and that made them easier to accomplish. Plus, I kept them vague – I didn’t plan to post three times a week on my blog or read 25 books, and this vagueness also helped. I could accomplish these goals at my own pace, and any effort I put towards them counted as an accomplishment, which made me feel better about it and encouraged me to continue.
I can proudly say that I have accomplished each of my goals, even if only to a small extent. I’ve been working out every other day, I’ve been writing blog posts about once a week, my nails have grown, I’ve talked to all of my friends (some almost every day), I’ve rewatched most of my favourite film series, and I’ve read two books and am halfway through a third. These may seem to be small accomplishments, but I’m proud of them nonetheless.
I think making a few smaller, more realistic goals is better and easier than having one or two big, unrealistic goals, and the feeling you get when you accomplish the smaller goals may push you to keep going and work at one of your bigger ones. Even if you feel like you haven’t accomplished anything during the last few months, I encourage you to look back and try to name two or three accomplishments, no matter how small they are. This will help you realize that you have not just been wasting your time, and will make you feel better when you look back on this time. Though, of course, there is nothing wrong with not accomplishing anything – in fact, relaxing could be seen as a sort of accomplishment, or at least something that’s good for you.
Basically, don’t beat yourself up over not achieving that Big Goal you had – it’s totally fine to use this time as a break, and small accomplishments are still valid and important. Don’t compare yourself to anyone else or put unrealistic expectations on yourself. This is a tough time for everyone without the added stress of being productive, so don’t let that weigh you down – just do whatever is best for you.
Over a month ago, when COVID-19 ramped up significantly and caused my classes to go online and my jobs to close, I made the decision to go back to my hometown and quarantine with my family. I’m so glad I made that decision, as I can’t imagine how I’d be feeling if I was alone in my apartment right now.
Temporarily moving back home has been pretty weird. The first few days, I just worried about everything going on, but I slowly calmed down and tried to be more positive. I started adjusting to my new normal, and now I’m completely used to living here. I truly never thought I would live with my parents again, but this is a pretty unusual situation, and at the end of all this I will be heading back to Vancouver, although being there will surely feel different.
My initial plan while staying here was to be extremely productive and do everything I’ve never had the time to do before, but I quickly realized that that was not going to happen, and that’s okay. I needed to relax and focus on my mental health for the first little while before I could think about doing “productive” stuff. I watched movies and tv shows, I spent hours on reddit, I talked to friends constantly. It was actually really nice to have a break – I think I needed it. Life has been pretty crazy, with COVID-19, me finishing my last semester of university, and my post-graduation plans being thrown out the window, at least for the time being. I needed to just unwind and take a break.
Now that I feel sufficiently relaxed, I’m ready to start being productive. I don’t want to put too much pressure on myself – I initially planned to write an entire novel while in quarantine, but the pressure to do so caused a lot of anxiety that led to me being too scared to even start. I’ve since made my goals a little more realistic, and have subsequently started working out, started reading again, and started writing blog posts again (guess I’m doing pretty well so far). There are a few more things I’d like to do, including video chatting with friends, as I’ve done this once so far and found it much more enjoyable than talking over text, plus I would really like to talk to people other than my immediate family. I would also like to do some creative writing, but this time, I’m not going to put as much pressure on myself – I don’t need to write an entire novel, I can write short stories or slowly start writing a novel without pressuring myself to get it done right away. I think if you put too much pressure on yourself, it impedes your ability to actually get things done (or maybe that’s just me).
Apparently, we have at least another month of social distancing left until things go back to “normal”, and in a weird way I am grateful for that, as it means more time with my family and more time (hopefully) being somewhat productive while I actually have time to do everything I want to do. Nobody knows how long this will last, but it’s important that we all take care of ourselves and our mental health right now and do what is best for us, whether that be accomplishing nothing at all or being super productive. We also need to show empathy to others, as not everyone is lucky enough to relax at home and not have to worry about their loved ones. These are truly extraordinary times, and hopefully when everything is said and done, we can work to make this world a better place.
Stay safe, everybody.