Entries Tagged as 'Inspiration'

How to survive a blog redesign



Sunday at JessOnThames

I currently find myself trapped in the delightful spiral of emotions that is a blog redesign. Its not that I do not enjoy the current design of Jess-On-Thames, but to be honest, I’ve outgrown it. I chose it when I was still living in Belgium and that feels like a long time ago already. I’ve changed, my blogged environment has most certainly changed and as such the nature of the blog has changed. So its high time.

But oh dear lord, how I underestimated the challenge I set myself before Christmas.

I’ve decided to teach myself how to pull together a design. I’ve upgraded to ProPhoto to have a bit more flexibility but still keep the WordPress platform I love. I’m designing my own logo (HA!), using a template design to get started but changing everything behind the scenes and frankly, just getting organised.

In an effort to reassure anyone who plans on going through this in the near future, I’d like to admit for the record, its not easy.

Here is what I would have liked to tell myself before starting this process:

1. Just resign yourself now to the fact that this process is probably going to take longer than you think it will if you want to do it yourself, no matter how much you plan in advance.

2. Prepare to be inspired. Do your research (you’ve probably already done a lot, which inspired you to redesign it in the first place…). I’ve paid particular attention to The Blog Stylists’ A-Z of Resources, The B Bar, Breanna Rose’s “For Bloggers” Column, Pugly Pixel’s Photoshop Basics (actually Pugly Pixel’s everything), A Beautiful Mess’s Blogging Tips, Designer Blogs Tutorials, and Note to Self’s Some Advice Column (which she wrote ages ago, but which I still come back to…).

3. Promptly forget almost everything above (or tuck it away in your brain somewhere if you can) except for the skills you learn. Its too easy to compare yourself to what other people are doing. Your blog needs to be a reflection of you. Not a collection of reflections of others.

4. Note that the above is much easier said than done.

5. Think about what you want to say. I mean REALLY think about it.

6. GET ORGANISED. This has been the biggest flaw of my current blog. I just didn’t think about the fact that people might use it as a resource. I didn’t have those ambitions. So what started as a platform for friendly rants and musings is being organised into travels, thoughts on being an expat, London adventures and other stories.

7. Test out plugins. Play with your design. Play with your photos. Rearrange everything! Drive yourself nuts until you are so disorganised that you need to repeat step 6.

8. Get smarter about categories & tags that reflect your content and that means going back through a few years of posts. Deleting some old ones. Updating some others.

9. Ask your friends what they think about your progress.

10. Put yourself in a new reader’s shoes. What will they come to find?

11. Put yourself in a long-time reader’s shoes. Why do they visit?

12. Use this Organized Wallpaper for your desktop.

13. Vow to take a photography course and spend time with friends who can teach you things.

14. Take a break because you are pretty sure your head is going to explode from over-thinking.

15. Grab some nice paper and your favorite pen.

16. Make a giant list of things you love.

17. Make a giant list of places you want to visit.

18. Make a giant list of activities you want to do in your own city.

19. Remember why you love blogging to begin with.

20. And get back to the redesign when you are ready.

The long and short of it is, I’m still here. But going through the above.

In the meantime, instagramming like the addict I am and over on Twitter.

Super, Pretty, Funny n°47



Christmas with Pippa

So I have watched Love Actually, I’ve put up the tree, I’m even playing my Christmas playlist (see below) and yet there is still something that is holding me back from feeling like this Christmas is really here. Its coming too fast! I don’t have time to savour it.

Slow down, Christmas. SLOW DOWN. Just a bit.*

I’m still cracking up over this picture from the weekend. Pippa and I will be here taking in the decorations in our pjs… in the meantime, here are some of my favorite recent reads & watches.


This most adorable of movie trailers

The White House welcomed 100 travel bloggers yesterday to announce priorities for study abroad programmes. Bravo. (Follow along with the talks here: #WHTravelBloggers)

The NYTimes gift guide

The Voyageur’s travel itinerary for Japan

I always LOVE the way NPR structures their best books lists (bookmark this one folks)


Margo’s visit to one of the prettiest towns in France

In the moment with Michelle Dockery

Jen’s trip to Marrakech

OK Go does it again – their music videos are amazing – there are no special effects here


Charts for people obsessed with Serial (with thanks to Robin!)

Kate Spade + Anna Kendrick = brilliance

Victoria Beckham being funny

*I likely also feel this way because I have managed to avoid Oxford and Regents Streets as well as Covent Garden during this period. Nor have I been subjected to the more annoying of the Christmas carols… all in perspective…

On blogging insecurity and inspiration




I’m sure I’m not alone in this but every once in a while I stop and wonder if I’m going about this whole blogging thing right.

One day I feel 100% inspired and the next I’m not sure what to write next. One day I’m incredibly proud of a photo I’ve taken and the next I’m annoyed because I just didn’t capture something the way I wanted to. I wish I was someone who has built the time in to blog everyday but I still haven’t found a way to do that, dedicate myself to my day job the way I want to and still have a social life. And make progress through my ever-growing reading list… ok, and catch Strictly every weekend…

I’m nervous about changing the blog but at the same time, I’m really tempted to kick it up a notch. I don’t want to lose what its always been up until now – a journal/project I’ve loved working on and a nice creative outlet away from work. But at the same time, I recognize with a little investment (of time and focus and organisation, let’s be honest, not money), this could actually become “something”.

There is so much I’ve done just since summer that I still haven’t blogged about yet that I sometimes have to ask myself what I’m waiting for: Our vacation in Cornwall, exploring English countryside mansions, more from long weekends in Lisbon and Amsterdam, a hilarious afternoon tea on a double decker bus and let’s not forget my newest love, Seville.

Either way, I know I’m not the only one who gets these little moments of blogger “folie*”. I like to think its these little moments when our brains run around in circles that something great happens in bloggerland. I’m working on some refresh ideas and some restructuring. I’m giving the blog a true identity and finally ordering business cards. Its exciting. And scary. And nerve-wracking. And fun.

At times, inspiration comes easily and then there are days when I need to shift my focus elsewhere and think about other things. Let my mind rest and discover new things and then come back refreshed.

I’ve been listening to the incredible storytelling on The Moth this weekend while I cooked my Thanksgiving turkey. The Moth is a non-for-profit organisation dedicated to storytellling, originally from New York. Speakers have to tell a story live without any notes. Some of the storytellers are famous like Ethan Hawke or Adam Gopnik or Philip Caputo. Many aren’t. These are stories that break your heart, that encourage you, that are empowering and sad, touching and funny. Most of them are incredibly brave. They are my favorite finds of November.

Listen to this story of a fishing trip gone wrong, or this one of a mysterious email or this one about finding family in Korea. Or my favorite one on stuttering and jaguars. (Just have tissues ready… they are all lovely in their own ways.)

So anyway, I’m rambling now. But I wanted to say: if sometimes this blog goes quiet for a few days, fear not.

I’m still here… just trying to figure out where to go next.

*folie – French for madness; as seen in some Parisian graffiti back in October

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