Six months ago, we hit the ‘go live’ button on our new ‘lifestyle’ site – a space that was intended to be an extension of the loveliness of Love My Dress, a community where our newlywed readers could continue to enjoy the kind of warmth and support offered through Love My Dress and it’s closed Facebook group community. We had already started experimenting with a different kind of editorial content on Love My Dress, through our immensely successful ‘From the Heart‘ series. I was beyond excited to have an opportunity to develop this concept into a site/hub/blog, whatever you want to call it, of its own. After years of believing we didn’t have the resources possible on our small but perfectly formed team to manage a second site, I had convinced myself – now was the time.
I poured my heart into A Life Loved throughout 2017 as I worked with others to craft together our new site and establish a team of contributing authors. We made a plan to go relatively easy on ourselves in 2018 – to build up our social media followers and content and then to consider how we could monetise the concept after 12 months or so. After all, the site would need to earn money – this is my job, and my source of income, writing and sharing online content is what I do for a living. That said, the money part never felt like my primary goal at all. I was far more interested in sharing content that would help individuals connect and be inspired. For those of you wondering though, I can confirm that we have never earned a penny from these pages.
For a while I was riding on a high and thrilled with how the site was taking shape, but it didn’t take long for me to realise that my new blog project was actually bringing a lot of unwanted stress into my life. I had completely underestimated how much additional effort the creation and continuous development of a new blog in 2018 would require – never mind the moderation of a growing closed Facebook community that would turn out to require a lot more of my time and energy than I could ever have anticipated.
The last few weeks have been some of the most reflective of my life. I approach a personal milestone next month of 5 years of sobriety and it’s put me in a really contemplative mood about life and what I want from it. Last September, my eldest daughter started at a new school. I’ve witnessed her growing up so fast in the pursuing months. She’s 12 now – she becomes a teenager in November – and it blows my mind how rapidly she is maturing. My youngest daughter will turn 8 in September. The difference between my two daughters reminds me how quickly children grow up and of huge leaps they make between the ages of 7 and 12. Hearing the news of local births and deaths in recent weeks has left me thinking deeply about the absolute fleeting preciousness of it all in a way that has taken even me by surprise. It has forced the realisation upon me, with absolute clarity, that I am no longer willing to work long weekends to try to manage a second site, because it means missing out on quality time with my family. I realised this as I was sat on the beach yesterday morning, watching my youngest daughter build a sandcastle as my eldest daughter rowed out to sea with her friends. Not that long ago, my husband, by default would have been the one sat there enjoying that moment as I stressed over my keyboard frantically trying to sort out blog content for that day or upcoming week. No more.
There is another element to this that I want to touch on briefly; the way people consume and engage with information online is so vastly different to how they did in 2009 when I established Love My Dress. I wrote about this recently in a piece entitled ‘the future of blogging‘. I can categorically reassure you, I had no idea at the time (not consciously, anyway) that several weeks later, I would be closing A Life Loved. One thing I did know then and that I certainly know now with a searing kind of honesty, is that setting up a ‘blog’ in 2018 is not the same kind of experience as it was back in 2009. The way that people consume and engage with online content now, compared to back then, could not be more different. I’m not too proud to admit that I had completely underestimated this when setting out to create A Life Loved.
There are several other factors at play, that collectively, have presented the biggest and most valuable learning curve for me since I started out working for myself back in 2009. Relying on others to contribute content only for them to never respond to emails, or withdraw their offer the moment we’d filled our editorial calendar up with their article publication dates, is one example. It’s totally and absolutely fine – life is life, I get it, and sometimes you overcommit or you realise that actually, you aren’t comfortable with sharing so much of your free time to write without being paid, so you reconsider or withdraw. I’m not mad or upset by any of this, I completely and honestly understand. But it has taught me a lesson – mostly about my own naivety.
My job is my passion and I am exceptionally proud of Love My Dress and everything it has come to represent and stand for. We are storytellers, and I take immense pleasure from sharing the wedding day love stories of couples through Love My Dress every day with sensitivity and grace. We are champions of the British wedding industry – a role I hold very close to my heart, and one I’ll step into at the drop of a hat whenever I see the industry being criticised by the national press. We facilitate connection – bringing together brilliant businesses working in the industry with couples planning their weddings through resources like our Little Book For Weddings. And we are community builders, enabling spaces like our closed Facebook group for brides only, which provides a safe space to share wedding-planning tales and woes and excitement away from prying ears and eyes. Love My Dress is my passion and always has been and I will let nothing get in the way of me being able to commit 100% to the nurturing and development of this much loved online haven. Not even a well intended sister site.
There is a space within the beautiful creation that is Love My Dress for us to develop new editorial content and going forward, that is exactly what we’ll do. I am going to respectfully consider A Life Loved as an opportunity to have trialled some different editorial content – the best of which we will incorporate back into Love My Dress, to make it a stronger, single editorial platform. I can’t wait to develop our beauty channel and continue to add inspiring and uplifting content directly from our readers.
I would like to thank all of those who have supported this project from the off, who have shown kindness and encouragement. I would like to acknowledge all the wonderful and loyal individuals who have so generously shared their time and energy writing content, providing feedback and reassuring me when I was having wobbles. This whole experience would not have been possible without you and I cannot tell you how very grateful to you I continue to be for your belief in A Life Loved. Absolutely none of the wonderful content we have published will go to waste – please bear with us whilst we work on importing it over to Love My Dress and closing down this site – a decision will be made later this week on what to do about the closed Facebook group/s for A Life Loved. The natural step would be to probably close them down too, but I’m aware it has been an incredible source of often very deep, emotional support for many of our readers and so the idea of removing them pains me. It may be easier to simply let them run themselves going forward, so that they can continue to be a place of support for all those who are members. There will be no facility however to add new members after today, the group will no longer be moderated and my team will be withdrawing from it entirely.
A life spent making mistakes is not only more honourable, but more useful than a life spent doing nothing. – George Bernard Shaw
Yesterday, I shared the words above with a friend. This morning I’m reminding myself that this decision might represent the end of one thing, but the start of something new.
Love Annabel x