It began with the decision to take a leap of faith and live life by my own rules. What started as a process of self-discovery turned into digital storytelling. What started as a loose concept transformed into a brand.

One year ago, I passed the mic to my alter ego, and she ran with it. The Mindful Mermaid is a growing corner of the Internet about my journey, and a platform for being cultured, conscious, and cool.

So to celebrate her first birthday, let’s recap the highlights of this past year and reveal what’s coming next!

DSC00341So for full disclosure, I’d like to point out that both living abroad and blogging are nowhere near as glamorous as it may seem. Every small win and ounce of success has come with a fair share of blood, sweat, and tears. I try to write about this candidly with my audience.

I still have far to go, but I also have come very far. Here are some of the milestones from The Mindful Mermaid’s first year.

Mindful Mermaid Milestones

  1. Made the move to Croatia, and then Ireland.

DSC00116An American living in Dubrovnik — this was the primary focus of my blog when I started. I wrote candidly about my experiences living in Croatia for several months, and tried to extend this series when I moved to Ireland in the winter.

I’ve come to realize that this has been what people find the most interesting about the Mindful Mermaid. It’s what helped me build a following and develop content ideas.

DSC09430Though I’ve tried to focus on other aspects of travel blogging, I’ve circled back and realized that these candid travel narratives have been a huge success. I received a lot of positive feedback about the struggles of living in Ireland and also my return to Dubrovnik. It’s inspired me to keep sharing and living a story worth telling.

  1. Began my freelance writing career

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Though I had some of the technical background through a minor in journalism, I really did not know the ropes of travel blogging or freelance writing when I started. It was actually through this blog that I landed my first freelance writing gig through a Croatian magazine. From there, I started writing a bi-weekly cultural column, and then writing for another online publication. I combined this experience with my background in writing and communications. I developed skillset for content writing and digital marketing and began working with some other private companies.

But, I did learn some hard lessons along the way. After having to chase down publications to pay you, some of which are still pending, you learn to establish clear guidelines and contracts. I learned how to stand up for myself and how to hustle.

  1. Made it on the cover of a magazine with a 4 page spread

dsc06873dsc06850So, this was one of the coolest highlights of the year. Over the months I did several interviews, mainly about what it’s like to live in Dubrovnik as an American. One of these included an interview and photo shoot for a Croatian magazine (Moskar). I talked about my blog and what it’s like living in Dubrovnik, and it was beyond a surreal and humbling experience!

  1. Became involved in the sustainable travel niche, including becoming a visit.org ambassador

DSC00570 (1)Aside from sharing my experiences living abroad, the other primary focus of my blog is promoting mindful and sustainable travel. Not only have I tried to use this platform to advocate for sustainable travel and slow travel, I’ve also actively engaged in conversation within the travel blogging community about how to make the tourism industry more accountable to its impact.

Especially since it is the year of sustainable tourism, I partnered with visit.org as a travel ambassador to help spread the word about all the do-good organizations that can leave a positive impact on communities.

  1. Started working with brands that encompass my mindful and sustainable mission

DSC09767Stemming off of this, some of my content also goes into the realm of conscious lifestyle. I’ve written about tips for a more conscious wardrobe, and partnered with some awesome conscious companies:

  1. Partnering with travel/tour companies

DSC09997 (1)Last but not least, I’ve had the privilege to work with tour and travel companies over the year. Taking a mermaid swimming class with Aqua Mermaid Chicago was one of highlight.

I have to say that my favorite was taking a press trip of the Aran Islands and Cliffs of Moher.

What’s to come next?

DSC00510I have a year of experience under my belt, thanks to a lot of trial and error and self-taught digital marketing tactics. Statistically, most bloggers quit after the first year. Not me. I’m only getting started.

From blog to business

Though I’m working full-time now in Ireland, I plan on blogging and freelance writing full-time come the fall. I now know exactly what I can do to grow and monetize my blog, which I will be implementing in the months to come.

I will be writing more frequently and sharing across social media platforms more consistently, which has been a challenge for me.

Website facelift

I’d say my website is impressive for someone who started with zero web design experience. But now that I know more about the technical side of blogging, I see there’s a lot more unharnessed potential. This summer I will be transferring to self-hosting and designing a new website layout.

More videos

I’d like to start taking my personality off the keyboard and in front of a camera a bit more. I started my YouTube channel, but I’d like more consistent content shared. I realized that the fact I could shoot and edit my own videos, even with amateur equipment, puts me at a competitive advantage in the industry.

Focused content that will benefit readers

Perhaps staying within a “niche” is the hardest task for bloggers. Or at least myself. From talking about living abroad, to sustainable travel and lifestyle, I suppose I may be breaking this rule a bit. But I know my readers don’t fit into a box. So why should I?

Instead of stressing about staying within “niche” I would instead like to focus on meeting the needs of my readers. I would like to evolve into being an influencer for conscious travel and lifestyle for the mindful millennials of the world.

True to my roots, I will continue to share my journey. But my vision for the Mindful Mermaid is much bigger than it used to be. I see a lot of potential for how I evolve this platform into an agent of change and a solid business.

DSC00299And I’m only getting started.

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