My Journey: decor8 on Substack
A long time coming...
I have a very real, very honest confession to make. It’s even a little embarrassing.
I don’t think my work is valued or noticed anymore. I know that’s sorta DRAMATIC - I mean, I get DMs and emails, I’m still running a profitable online biz, I totally love social media… Yet I feel lost in a maze with no cheese waiting for me at the end.
I dunno about you and your situ, maybe you can comment and chime in on this, but I believe one reason behind my fatigue is that it’s become so damn hard to connect with others and talk to people. I need Web 3.0 already. Closed communities, small heartfelt groups, lots of interaction that has actual value.
Hearts and likes are lovely (and appreciated!) but I really want to hear what people think about something that I write. I don’t care if they disagree, anything would be lovely! Instagram and their “machine” keeps winning, we all seem to suffering from ADHD, loads of FOMO, even stressing over how we don’t have the life others seem to have, and well, I personally want to hit my head on a wall. Yet, my personality drives me to actually seek a healthier option.
To simply go right when everyone else is going left. They are all on Instagram. I’ll stay there and check in a few times a day, but ultimately I’m coming to Substack to try to get my writing mojo back and connect to real people again through good old-fashioned text and images.
I was thinking my social media through the other day… Namely what exactly feels “off” at the moment for me online. Do I hate Insta? Not at all. Do I hate social media in general? God no. So what is it?
I came to the conclusion that I get annoyed and drained by all of the mixing and mingling, all of the THOUGHTS and OPINIONS, everywhere. I need FOCUS to thrive. When I blogged only on design, I ran with those who loved and admired design, fashion, art, and architecture, crafting, handmade, decorating, vintage finds, travel… My readers were MY people and I even imagined that I could be friends with most of them IRL.
Men, women, gay, straight, all races, backgrounds… No one cared about those things, we were simply one hell of a strong bunch from all over the world who loved BEAUTY and we got our kicks by hopping around to blogs to see what’s what.
In that world, which felt very supportive and united, I built a huge, majestic bubble in and surrounded myself daily with peace and calm, happiness and light, and I wrote about lovely design-y things and over 1.2 million readers showed up to drink from my bottomless well. I sometimes blogged multiple times a day. And sure, sometimes it really was overwhelming to have a massive audience yet in many ways, it still felt small… My readers were there to be inspired and I was there to give them that, joyfully, and I devoted my career to blogging. Writing on decor8 was my dream job and remained that way for well over 12 years.
Slowly though, my blog bubble got smaller and smaller. My readers stayed around, it wasn’t that, but my energy changed. Many external factors created a different vibe around blogging and it all became very power and revenue-focued just as Insta has become today. Big business got involved and sucked the life out of what was once fun and exciting. And we all know what happens to creative people who are forced to focus on numbers in order to stay relevant…
Instagram rolled in during this time, a loud, bright and very shiny circus and within a 6 months, blogging slowed down. Insta promised microblogging and a chance for unestablished bloggers late to the game to be early this time only on Instagram, to build a massive “tribe”, to become Insta-famous. All you had to do was take a mediocre photo, add a filter, post once a day with a blurb of text and suddenly you were on your way to amassing adoring fans. Even established bloggers jumped on the bandwagon because hell, posting a filtered snapshot with a blurb of text hardly felt like a challenge when the average blogger spent hours or even days crafting content for their blogs often using high-end professional cameras, expensive lenses, and Photoshop. Try to find influencers nowadays lugging around a Canon 5D Mark III in a giant camera bag to photograph something that ends up on Insta. The only people with this kind of kit these days are truly the professional photographers - everyone else is using their smartphone.
As Instagram evolved, so did the content, the users, and just everything… It all changed. It was a photography platform at first, but then it became so much more. Hustling, luxury brands, non-stop bad news, constant ads, celebrities, kids, teens, Kardashians, a billion languages, a billion opinions… Lots of dancing and lip synching. Fitness, food, mental health, religion, politics, human rights, war… Suddenly the world I built to escape to online with my readers, my decor8 happy place, became harder to protect, to write on, to maintain.
Instagram became the new blog only it was nothing like a blog. You can’t breath, you can’t focus, or relax, and there’s zero chance to enjoy a little escapism or even feel like you have time to even read and reply to a post.
Not my circus, not my monkeys.
A blog felt like taking a sweet, sunny drive in the country on a Sunday morning. Instagram is the autobahn during peak traffic, no speed limit, with a hailstorm raging complete with thunder and lightening. Oh and you have 5 babies in the backseat throwing food, a dog on your lap licking your face, and 6 cats in the passenger seat.
Ads, music, video, flashing, blinking, twerking, jumping… Algorithms that show me what to look at next, users half my age who plan to skip college to became Influencers or users my age who are exhausted from juggling family and kids, housework AND their small business, all while trying to memorize the next viral song and spending 7 hours doing 150 takes until they get a Reel that’s good enough to post. What the actual…?
Instagram is a competition without a prize. It has strange rules that change a lot. I’m bored with it. I don’t see the point. What do we get for amassing 100k+ followers?
Maybe you’re thinking… Ah, Holly… Gurl, you’re just growing old and getting bitter!
Let me gently correct you - ha ha - the old part may be right but I’m not bitter. In fact, I’m inspired because I stay curious. When one thing bores me to tears, I’m motivated and inspired to change direction so I become super curious about my options. I start exploring until I find something new to take on - and I do it.
With age (aka experience), you gain confidence and clarity. Gone are the days of proving myself. I’ve done it all, I’m a success story and this gives me pride, yes, but also a great responsibility to not fizzle out but to keep going, to have new successes, to take on new risks. I once had the most famous design blog in the world - in many ways I still do - people in the design world who have been around for longer than 5 minutes know decor8 - it’s still online, I write on it a few times a month… I have best-selling books in nearly 20 languages. I’ve toured Europe and the USA to meet my lovely fans and I had a magazine with my own name on it sold all over Germany… Imagine!? I’ve done the designing-for-brands and podcast thing, too. I also started teaching online in 2009 and today, I still teach online and off - it remains one of my most favorite things to do.
Yet, I want to do more. I ache to build more things, to dream bigger, to always stay ME, grounded and deep, to continue to lift others up, to show them how to believe in themselves, have faith in their dreams, to stay curious and never stop.
That’s why I’m here. After writing online for over 16 years in mostly the same place (decor8), I’m ready to write here in addition to my blog, to see what I can build - hopefully a small, caring community of creatives who also want less noise and more calm moments that are inspirational, supportive, and beautiful. I hope to hear your thoughts, talk about decor, lifestyle, small business, social media for creatives… and I’m looking to expand my topics to include more emotional stories about issues that women have to deal with day after day - health, wealth, family, well-being and relationships since I have a lot of experience in all of these things.
My writing focus going forward can be summed up in one paragraph - I wish to lead and inspire, motivate and support, build a design bubble once again… I want to stimulate your creativity and show you simple ways to make big changes at home and in your life and business. “Beauty will save the world” (Dostoevsky). When you find beauty around you, in others, in your home and most importantly, in yourself, anything is possible.
I’ll be writing here 2-3 times a week. Please join me.
PLEASE COMMENT. ASK QUESTIONS. Just say something. It would make me happy. :)