Friday, December 17, 2021

Time to let go

Dear readers, be warned, today's post is an emotional one. It's a bit painful for me actually seeing it in written and I'm communicating this to you with a certain melancholic touch. I'm ending this blog. I've been thinking about it for a long time now. I am not leaving the social media world entirely, I will just focus on Instagram now because it's easier for me and I feel more connected to my followers there.

Time to say Goodbye

Well, not every blogger turns into an entrepreneur. My blog was my baby for many years and I'm sad to let this story end here... maybe not forever but for now. I trust the timing of my life and I believe there is a right period of time for everything in life. For the past two years or so I just felt like the time had come to close this chapter called blogging. It felt forced, it didn't flow naturally, it didn't come easy. And even though it hurts and has a certain melancholic feel to it I'm closing this chapter today with a tear in my eye because sometimes you have to close a door to open yourself to something new or simply because it doesn't serve you anymore.

I set new priorities over the past few years and one of them is time! Time I want to spend with family, friends and myself. And a blog robs me of that time. Instagram is fun, quick and I can post on the go. But I don't have the time nor the motivation anymore to sit at home with my laptop, select and edit photos for hours or write longer texts for a blog. I rather spend my time with my partner, friends and family now, and outdoors, doing yoga, enjoying nature, just being.

And yet I'm so happy I have made this enriching experience. I'm proud of myself and my blog, we had a beautiful journey together and I will keep it here on the web so I can stop by once in a while and look at my “photo album”. My unforgettable memories of New York, photos of my travels around the world, personal thoughts and recommendations, and my adventures in Mallorca. So all my posts will remain here, all saved, so you and I can stop by once in a while and have a look at my older posts when we feel like it.

I will miss writing these kinds of posts that let me express myself, share my experiences and thoughts with you, communicate with you, my community, and open myself up to the world a bit more. But I'm not the same person anymore that I was when I started my blog. A twenty year old, curious, carefree young girl starting a new chapter in NYC and wanting to share it with the world. I have grown a lot over the past few years and rather share my thoughts and feelings with my journal, family, partner and closest friends now, than with online users. Strangers I don't even know.

My blog started out as a diary of my exciting years in New York City in 2010. I shared my experiences, NYC and travel tips with you and was surprised by how quickly my blog grew. You seemed to love my personal stories about the city and my trips through the USA. I was always happy to read your comments, answers your questions and felt your support. Thanks to all of you this blog has existed for many years and I truly want to thank you for all the interest, love, loyalty and support you have shown me these past years. For giving me the chance to share a bit of myself and my personal life with you. Thank you from my heart.

From unpaid, spontaneous posts to staged, profitable collaborations

The blogger world has changed so much during these past years. My blog was always personal. I shared my experiences, travel tips and things I really enjoyed or I was interested in instead of product recommendations. And even though I didn't post many family pics or anything too intimate I did share my thoughts and sometimes also feelings...

When I started blogging there weren't any influencers, neither Instagram nor paid collaborations or businesses around blogs. The blogger world consisted of only a few people sharing their thoughts, experiences, outfits and daily life on their personal blogs. No professional cameras, photographers, nor a team. Blog owners uploaded texts and photos that they considered inspiring, beautiful or fun, without considering any algorithms, likes, views, followings. No filters, no presets, no hour-long editing, no social media strategies, no concerns about whether their content would be liked by others or not.

What started for many as a hobby has now turned into a lucrative business that aims at establishing a dialogue between the blogger or influencer and the reader or follower in order to convince the latter to buy something. The blogger world has changed so much since I started, especially because of our increased social media use and the professionalization of blogs and social media. Blogging was a lot more personal back then. Closer contact between bloggers and readers, honest comments and page views, support. In the beginning a blogger was super excited for each comment a blog post got and instantly replied. Today influencers are treated like celebrities, doesn't matter if they have a real talent, are really creating inspiring content or are simply looking pretty and are good at selling things. Even though now these influencers can directly speak to their followers via messages, live videos, comments etc. I feel like they are more disconnected than ever from their followers.

Remember the time when Instagram, was an innocent platform and users shared snapshots of whatever they wanted, from mirror selfies to snaps of wild nights out and un-edited photos of a training session while content quality and likes didn't matter? Then brands and advertisers showed up on the block. People started retouching their faces, not showing any emotions other than happiness, taking 300 pics and selecting the one where they appear skinnier and more tanned, they started matching their food with the outfit etc... Bloggers or influencers started creating product posts and fake settings just like in a photo studio. They started thinking in photos to create the best possible content in order to get a brand's attention. And some really succeeded and now get paid millions and even have their own brands.

Over the years a question popped up: „What will happen to the hobby bloggers or Instagram users?“ The ones like me. The ones who can't provide highly professional content on a daily basis because their time is very limited working a full time job. The ones who just enjoy the blog as a hobby. A blog is very time-consuming but people will stop reading if they see you're not posting regularly or your content is not as valuable and your photos are not as professional as on other blogs. Blogging literally takes an army but you're only one person. Behind many bloggers and influencers there's a significant other or a supportive family member in the background helping to make the blog or Instagram profile grow. You can't do everything and you also lack some special skills maybe. Blogging or creating content for Instagram is nothing easy. You have to get people to know you, stand out from others in a highly competitive business, and constantly get new jobs to pay your bills while most companies prefer to offer you unpaid collaborations.

My blog basically became non-existent because I rarely publish any new posts and because all my readers and followers are connecting with me on Instagram now. So I decided to focus more on this platform. Some of my Instagram followers text me back 'wow you are so nice, I never expected you to reply'. I do reply, always, unless a person sends me just an emoji or inappropriate message. I know I can't compare the volume of messages from 6.000 followers to 500.000 followers, but still, I like to keep it personal. Because I'm just a normal person, the girl from next door, not a celebrity. And with this attitude it makes me even happier when someone writes me 'you inspire me so much', 'I love your energy' or 'may I ask for your help'. On Instagram I still feel seen and heard so I will continue sharing bits of my life there sporadically.

The Story continues...

Today I'm ending this chapter of more than a decade called blogging. Maybe it's because I'm so tired of consumerism and most blogs and Instagram profiles are just focusing on the follower as a potential client or buyer. Maybe it's also a little bit of self-doubt that keeps me from continuing this blog. While the blog and Instagram business has evolved, professionalized and gained more quality, my blog has pretty much stayed the same. The same humble, colorful, personal blog it has started out as. I feel a bit like I failed thinking of what this blog might have grown into with a bit more effort... But most of all I'm ending this blog because I don't have enough spare time, like I mentioned at the beginning of this post, nor the ambition and motivation to keep sharing my personal life on a blog or social media too much.

No worries, I will not disappear. You can still follow my adventures on my Instagram @laurahlp. But on this blog I'm saying goodbye to you today, my followers who've read every single post of mine and commented so actively always supporting me during all these years. I wrote my first post on the 3rd of December 2010 and today will be my last.

I'm deeply grateful. For this experience as a writer and photographer, for the freedom to express myself, for my community here, for all the opportunities my blog has given me, for the people I've personally gotten to know thanks to this blog, for holding my memories of unforgettable times so dearly. And that is why I will close this chapter and end this post with tears in my eyes and only two words. A feeling that I have most felt during these years as a blogger.

Thank you.


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