WHY simply START living + WHAT IS IT ALL ABOUT
If you just clicked over because I’ve been making a big song and dance about the launch of the new blog… Hello and Welcome to simply START living! I am so glad you’re here… and I’m glad to finally be here too!
You might wonder what lead me here and why the big change? Why indeed… although I feel I should be framing that as why not?
This new blog quite literally has my name written all over it. Incorporating Start into the title is an idea I’ve been playing around with for a long time on and off when it came to blogging. So yes… it’s definitely Amanda Start - living life. It’s also about living for now… and living simply. And it probably won’t surprise you to hear that I think of it as a call to action too - having just begun a whole new chapter and turned fifty this year.
It’s time to stop the comparing, the doubting, the questioning and the worrying about all the What If’s. It’s time for starting afresh, trusting my instincts and most importantly, doing what feels good.
Start living and do all the doing. Enjoy the journey… soak it all in and breathe it all out.
How Did It Come About?
At the onset of the growing pains that eventually lead me here, I don’t think I fully understood them or what had sparked them off either. All I knew was that the need to evolve and simplify began to get under my skin like a persistent itch - one that became increasingly hard to ignore. The number of days I spent staring blankly at the screen, trying to draw out more Online Stylist content but failing miserably, were on the increase. My concentration and inspiration levels were dropping to an all time low on an alarmingly regular basis. My solution? Randomly get up from the desk, walk into another room and start singling things out that now felt surplus to requirements. Can’t blog. Can declutter. I was craving a sense of calm that writing the blog in its OS guise was no longer giving me. Still… at least the house was looking tidy!
So I began racking my brain to see if I could figure out when these seeds of discomfort began to germinate. First off there was the approach to my 49th birthday and the musings on where I saw myself after ten years in blogging. Was it then or was it further back when I talked about wanting to slow things down at the start of 2018? Digging deeper I traced it further back to the time when I first began thinking about the OS blog rebrand in 2016 - a rebrand that came about because I felt like I was heading toward another stage in life although I don’t quite think I got the real measure of what that all meant.
So time to makeover the blog right? Except in hindsight, 2016 me jumped in too quickly without giving it time to marinate or pick it apart a little more. There was some other life stuff going on at the time so maybe it was a knee jerk reaction to shift some focus? Who knows. Fast forward to the summer of 2017 and the point where the behind the scenes rebrand work was coming to a close. A time when I should have felt really excited and invigorated, but truth be told, I felt like I’d completely lost my way.
As the new OS launched that September, I felt completely exhausted and flat about the whole thing and in hindsight, I think I’d actually checked out and disconnected from it. I should add at this point that this wasn’t due to the work put in by my developers or brand designer - they both delivered exactly what I’d asked for. This one turned out to be a classic case of its not you, it’s me.
Somewhere along the way I’d allowed the whole thing to become something I thought it should be. I’d conjured up this new version of the blog with a view to it becoming the best blog to run as a business. And in doing so I soaked up too many influences that didn’t gel together or reflect the me I was slowly becoming. Brand Amanda (or Bramanda as I jokingly nicknamed myself) had arrived. The trouble was my sense of self had exited the building right at the same time.
Time To Say Goodbye To The Name Of Online Stylist...
But I got my head down and carried on. Fast forward a year on to 2018 (yep… September again - there’s definitely something in this season for me!) and I felt my content at least was starting to go in the right direction. But the feeling that I’d outgrown the name Online Stylist and the platform that housed it just wouldn’t go away.
I was recently advised that Online Stylist is a good strong brand name, instantly recognisable and a good business model… and it might be a bad idea to change things. If memory serves, the name originated back to August of 2010, when I launched on online style advice service within my blog that was then called Forty Not Out. At some point after that it made sense to become The Online Stylist as a whole and a few years later, the content focus began to shift solely from clothing and towards inspiration for stylish living in general. I decided to shut down the style advice service as it didn’t make my heart sing as much as writing blog posts did.
If you think about it, why is Online Stylist a good strong name? I’ve been told its because it’s Google ranking was strong too. Why? It was strong because of me, the voice I gave to it and all the years of content that I wrote for it. Because of the things I wrote about with love, passion, happiness, frivolous fun, honesty and very occasionally, sadness. And because I persisted in showing up at every possible moment for the last eleven years. And because of you. You wonderful, brilliant, amazing people who just kept coming back to read what I put out there. Sticking with me through the last eleven years, leaving comments, sharing the posts with others and just being the best supporters a woman with a crazy blogging passion could ever wish for!
But the name, the feel and the direction that “being an influencer” sometimes seemed to be heading towards had become a real sticking point for me. It felt like the blog and I had fallen into a bit of a bad relationship. Would you stay in a relationship if you’d outgrown it and it no longer inspired you? If it felt like flogging a dead horse? I’m guessing not. You’d probably at least try and change things in order to salvage all the rest that was good wouldn’t you?
I was talking through my feelings with my friend Laura one day (again… last September!) and as usual, she nailed it in a WhatsApp message later on. What she said was simple in essence and was this... “You’re transitioning into a new space in life - in all aspects. Life, hormones and motherhood. So it’s only natural that your work will need to adapt with you. It’s growing pains - don’t resist it. Flow with it because it’s actually bloody exciting!” That woman is a genius! What she said made me stop fighting it, sit back and listen to it all… and maybe see if I could find out where all the figuring out could take me.
On the quest for inspiration, I began to look around for what I was after. Blogs written by women in the same stage of life as me but not just primarily style focused. I still wanted aspirational but relatable too. I wanted to read about the subjects, emotions and challenges I was living out on a daily basis… all wrapped up and presented in a simple, calm and uplifting way. And if that could please be on the side of minimal with lots of monochromatic styling thrown in then I’d be very happy! Maybe I was looking in the wrong places or possibly being too specific but I couldn’t find it. So I decided to bite the bullet, close one big ‘ol long chapter over at Online Stylist and open another one here to create it.
simply START living is about embracing a true sense of self, not the one we think we should be embracing for appearances sake. It’s about living wholeheartedly and as calmly as possible in amongst all the crap that life throws our way. And of course, it’s about appreciating simplicity in life and style. As I continue to add content to it, I’d love it if it became a source of inspiration and connection for women who aspire to a slower, fulfilled life and who have an appreciation for the joy to be found in creativity and the beauty of simplicity.
So What Can You Expect Here?
In truth, a lot of the same that you’ve been reading on OS over the last year or so. In my head, I’d begun the metamorphosis a while ago and so I think that a lot of the content I’ve been producing lately is already representative of its new home. As well as kicking off with a few new posts, I’ve brought across some of my recent favourites from OS and updated them to make them current and relevant.
You’ll see that the categories on the menu bar have been simplified (my new favourite word!) down to:
Under those headings I’ll be covering off a wider range of topics such as slower living, family life and honesty posts. There’ll be a wellbeing focus on both mental and physical aspects with air time given over to topics relevant to mid-life including menopause, general health at fifty plus and the challenges that come with raising teens as opposed to small children - of which there are many!
And this blog wouldn’t be me if you couldn’t expect plenty of style content from the perspective of a fledgling minimalist - I can never pass up an opportunity to wax lyrical on that subject! I’ll be including carefully chosen edits, pieces that I love to style and wear for a flexible wardrobe that makes me happy on a daily basis and choices that fit with a more sustainable way of living. simply START living is about honing your style for the life you live and those choices that bring real joy on a daily basis.
Creating a home that’s calm, relaxing and a reflection of where and who we are in this life stage has become a real priority for me. I want to feel grounded, peaceful and comforted by the home we live in, so if this sounds like your kind of interiors content then I hope you’ll check back there regularly too. Our own house is a work in progress, so I’ll be charting this evolving journey here too.
There’s also a Simple Style Source section that will include a carefully chosen selection of simple style pieces for both wardrobe and home that you can browse at any time from the homepage or up in the menu bar. I’ll keep this updated to reflect the seasons and the preferences of a minimalist mid-lifer with a penchant for black, white, grey… and beige for when I feel like pushing the boat out!
For the Create section, I have plans and ideas to grow it into something that’s more than just about blogging and Instagram tips. Whilst my own business is based around blogging, there are so many people that I come into contact with who have much to offer and lots of knowledge to share. Along the way, through them and my own experiences of running a small business, I’ve learnt things that I never knew I needed to learn until now!
Seeing so many women in particular, build thriving businesses off the back of something that they’re passionate about is the best thing about any of this so I want the Create section to become somewhere where you’ll find resources, useful tips and plenty of inspiration too. The concept will develop over time but if there’s anything you’d love to see feature, feel free to leave a suggestion in the comments below.
Have a look around the site… I’d love to know what you think - you can drop me an email at: firstname.lastname@example.org if you like.
Phew... that was one long post to kick off the next chapter! Thank you for sticking with me for this one… and all the others that I’ve put out there over the last eleven years too. And now, in true celebratory tradition and dependant on the time of day that you’re reading, I’m off to mark the occasion with either a really good cup of coffee or something cold and fizzy…
Cheers to the next chapter!
A Spot Of Admin Info...
If you had the Online Stylist blog bookmarked, you may have arrived here via the redirect from www.theonlinestylist.co.uk. The redirect will stay put to ensure I capture all the readers that want to be captured! Otherwise, my new domain address is: www.simplystartliving.com should you wish you to update your web browser.
If you were already signed up to receive new blog post updates and the newsletter at Online Stylist, you’ll have already received a pre-launch email from me about how it all works here and so don’t need to do anything further.
And if you’re new here and would like to have blog post updates and the monthly Simply Living Letter sent directly to your inbox, just sign up below!