This Halloween, Cleo – owner of the popular Etsy store; Phoenix Cove – and I, have decided to talk about confronting all the fears we’re facing by revealing our absolutely humongous project that we’ve been working on in secret for the past few months.
So, get ready for… Blogmas Unboxed 2023!!
So, just a quick explanation of Blogmas for new readers: Every December since 2019, I’ve created a series named ‘Blogmas’ where I’ve produced festive, daily content – in the form of blog posts – from December 1st until Christmas Day (December 25th).
The idea for Blogmas came from when I started following Zoe Sugg whose brand/YouTube channel was known as Zoella since I first started blogging and she – and some other well-known YouTubers at that time – started ‘Vlogmas’ where they were producing video content every day from December 1st until the 25th. I absolutely loved the concept and really enjoyed seeing Zoe’s Vlogmas develop in terms of her having an illustration introduction to each day and the actual content of the Vlogs from each day e.g., the activities she got up to, the commitments she had, the events she attended etc. However, whilst I do have a YouTube channel, I am in no way the greatest at filming and editing videos; and so, I thought about how I could make it into a form more appropriate for my blog, its readers, and my skills and abilities…
Fear #1: Should I’m NOT Disordered even do Blogmas again?
A massive reason why I wanted to do Blogmas again this year – and why I first decided to start creating the festive series for I’m NOT Disordered – came from having loved Christmas my entire life! I mean, despite my age or my location/situation (meaning that I still managed to enjoy Christmas one year – 2012 – when I was a sectioned inpatient in a psychiatric hospital over 100 miles away from home!). So, I really like the idea of making the most of it because as you get older you come to recognise that Christmas Day is actually just another 24 hours – it lasts no longer than any other day. So why not make the most of my favourite time of the year for and really milk it into being an inspiration for an entire month’s worth of content?!
I think that most children love Christmas and that typically, this is because of the gifts and fun activities that come with that time of the year; and – as a child – I was honestly no different. As I’ve gotten older though and having gone through all that I have with the trauma and my mental health, I believe that my passion for Christmas is still going strong because of the magical, innocent, and joyful quality that seems to just naturally accompany it. My horrible experiences from when I was fifteen years old gave me a great challenge in recognising my age because I often felt that I was going through a lot of difficulties that were far beyond what someone of my age should be experiencing. Those hardships also made me feel a bit less aware of my age because I was often filled with the desperate need to be ‘looked after.’ So having a time of the year that’s really dedicated to just having innocent, playful fun feels like exactly what the Doctor ordered!
Whilst I will always prioritise my own thoughts and needs around, I’m NOT Disordered and the content I produce on it because it’s so important that I’m happy and proud of all I do on it, I do recognise that neither my blog nor myself would be where we are without the readers. So, another huge and very obvious consideration around whether to do Blogmas again this year, has to be given to the lovely, appreciated, and respected readers. I do think that it’s important though, to ensure this – the act of thinking about what readers would like to see/read – doesn’t come across as patronising, condescending, or arrogant in any way. Having over 1.2 million readers on I’m NOT Disordered begs the question “how the heck can you make everyone happy?”
When I first started blogging and my target audience was my friends and family on my private Facebook account, it was so much more straightforward and a lot more effortless to consider what content would please and interest them. To be fair, in those early days; my blogging wasn’t intended to become what it is today and so I put little thought or seriousness and importance into regarding what content would be appealing and attractive for my small (but meaningful) number of readers. I mean, bettering my blog and the gravity of its readership, wasn’t a huge priority because I was yet to recognise how its popularity translated to notions of happiness, pride, and importance in the thought that it was enabling me to help more and more people.
So, in considering the possible thoughts and feelings of so many more readers (with the recognition that not everyone who has read I’m NOT Disordered will have liked the content anyway), I’ve thought about any level or chance of ‘boredom’ or feelings like; ‘here we go again!’ I recognise that I want Blogmas to be special because whilst it is a lot of content, it only happens once a year, and so I’d like to think it is viewed as significant and not a case of repetition with every year I produce it being more and more similar to the previous one. So, I’ve used my worry of readers expecting similar content as something positive and to provide a huge motivation and inspiration to put a lot of thought, care, and imagination into Blogmas this year!
Fear #2: Should Blogmas be a collaboration this year?
Firstly, I have always enjoyed and found it interesting and educational to collaborate with other well-known people or organisations for Blogmas/any similar festive series of blog posts (I’ve previously created twelve-day-long ones such as the 12 Cats of Christmas series in 2018). I also recognise that it’s so beneficial publicity-wise; in terms of engaging with new readers that I’m NOT Disordered might not have otherwise reached without the involvement of the collaboration partner.
In all honesty – because I’m all about being honest and open on I’m NOT Disordered – I’ve actually always worried about saying things like that (recognising the opportunity to gain publicity) because I’ve worried it’d sound arrogant and superficial. I worried that people would think I was misaligning my priorities by putting so much consideration and importance into increasing my audience and that it made me unappreciative of all the readers my blog already has – as though reaching over 1.2 million people isn’t ‘good enough’ for me to no longer be trying to increase it. When the truth is, I’ve found the increase of readers to be hugely beneficial for me in so many ways that it’s almost become a bit of an addiction. Like, I’m hooked on the amazing thoughts and feelings I get when I see the reader count rise. I just hope that it helps people to not think anything too badly of me to know that these positive repercussions of the increase in popularity are largely related to the notion that my blog can help more people, and the rewarding feeling that the time and effort I put into my blog’s content is also worthwhile in a more materialistic way of it affording me one-off opportunities and complimentary experiences etc.
Another helpful element in deciding whether to use Blogmas this year as an opportunity to collaborate came when I began talking to Cleo – owner of popular Etsy store: Phoenix Cove…
In early 2023, when I finally decided to get a kitten after losing my cat; Emmy in October 2022, I decided that I wanted to do a special little photoshoot when I brought the kitten (Ruby) home in May 2023. So, I hit Etsy and bought some personalised bits and pieces; one of these was a little wooden sign that read ‘Hello World! I’m new here!’ and it was from the lovely Etsy store; Phoenix Cove. And I got in touch with the store’s owner; Cleo, to chat about creating an exclusive discount code for I’m NOT Disordered’s readers to celebrate the Cats Protection series I then created and featured every week for my first month with Ruby…
And do you know when you meet someone for the first time and there’s like… Almost a natural bond or connection there? Like there’s this notion and a sense that you’ve known each other so much longer than meeting just then? That’s exactly how I felt in speaking to Cleo and, after telling her that, she said that she’d experienced that same feeling in talking to me too! And so, when – a few months later – I decided to do Blogmas this year and it came time to deciding which organisation I wanted to approach to work with; asking Cleo pretty much felt like a no-brainer!
Fear #3: Will we be able to cope with the workload?
I mean it’s obvious, isn’t it? That having a team of – or even just two – people work on one thing can mean less time and effort than one person doing the entire project alone…? Well – again, keeping it true and honest – whilst this can be true in some instances, the most beneficial I’ve found working with Cleo/Phoenix Cove in Blogmas this year in terms of the workload, has been the pure recognition that I’m not in it alone. And to be honest, I find that notion and reassurance so much more meaningful and important than the actual, literal, physical workload being reduced.
So, when working with others doesn’t necessarily lighten the tasks and length of your to-do lists, it’s typically due to the increased need for communication in terms of meetings, phone calls, messages, voice notes, emails… I think that this happens because rather than just me working on this and thinking about my blog’s readers (who I’d like to think I’m fairly in tune with); with every decision in Blogmas Unboxed I’m now not only thinking of I’m NOT Disordered’s readers, but it’s now equally important that Cleo is bringing in her thoughts and knowledge of Phoenix Cove’s customers and her fellow Etsy sellers/stores.
Personally, I think the one reason I’ve struggled a bit with the Blogmas workload has been because I’m also writing a book (You’re NOT Disordered: The Ultimate Wellbeing Guide for Bloggers) that will be released November 18th, so I obviously have to hugely dedicate my attention, energy, and time to putting the finishing touches to that. It’s meant, though, that my knowledge in how to prioritise that I’ve gained over the ten years of my blogging career, has really been put into practice and proven to be incredibly helpful.
Cleo and I had a little pow-wow recently to ensure we were both of the same, mutual understanding of the expectations of each of us for Blogmas Unboxed and I told her “See? This is why I start planning in the Summer!” And she said that she was so glad I had asked her to collaborate on this all those months ago because since then, her laser has broken, and she’s had to learn a ton of new skills and develop new abilities to cope and move on from this.
I do think it’s important to stress though – in case there are any bloggers reading this looking to gain advice or experienced lessons learnt on doing a similar series for their own blog – that who you choose to collaborate with can be so hugely important to how beneficial – or not! – working together proves to be! Having a collaboration partner has the chance or risk of increasing pressure in some ways by you feeling the need to ‘keep up’ if your partner seems to be ahead of you in terms of their to-do list being shorter. There’s also a risk of pressure where you’re pessimistic as to whether your work and general input into the project is of an acceptable standard and meets any expectations for your collaboration partner. Another reason why I’m so glad I’m working with Cleo; I definitely don’t feel this negative and potentially damaging (to the project and your own self-esteem) pressure.
At the end of this post, you'll find a graphic with the Blogmas Unboxed discount code that will actually be valid from November 1st. We may or may not release more details about Blogmas Unboxed over the course of November before the daily content launches December 1st, so for now; you best keep an eye on my social media and Phoenix Cove’s links below for more clues and hints as to how the content will be inspired and what shape it will take…