Hello and welcome to my new and revamped blog, Sunset Goddess Manila.
Actually, it’s not really a new blog but more like a new house, a new space for the two blogs that I used to have over in Blogger. And this is where my blog will “live” from now on. In 2010, I started out originally with Sunset Goddess Manila, a travel blog. Later on, it evolved into a lifestyle and travel blog. Then in 2012, I split the blog into two: a purely lifestyle blog still called Sunset Goddess Manila and a travel blog which I called Sunset Goddess Travels. I wrote about my reasons and motivations for the split in this post. A little confusing, I know. But stay with me for a bit more as I share the story of this new online home.
I blogged on those two sites for a while, even if it was harder to maintain them both.
Then, life happened. As I’ve already detailed at length in this post from April 2014, for a lot of personal and “professional” reasons (as a “blogger” if I can call myself that), I didn’t really feel the need or the inspiration to blog anymore. Well, at least not as much as I used to.
Aside from being busy with work demands, I then realized that it was because I was also having some sort of blogging identity crisis.
First, splitting the blogs into purely travel and purely lifestyle and concentrating on niche blogging, among other things, almost felt like also splitting myself and my writing into two.
Also, I felt my blogs no longer accurately and positively reflected where I was in my life and where I was heading. In particular, I found myself in a serious, committed relationship and I didn’t feel like I was being respectful of the relationship and this new love in my life by continuing my blogs as they were. My blogs were my positive, happy space and it was as if I suddenly found myself blogging in a house where I no longer live anymore.
Lastly, due to some popular posts in my former lifestyle blog, certain blogging “opportunities” came my way: sponsored posts, product reviews, press events, advertorials. And I found myself struggling to balance how to grow my blog with those opportunities but without sacrificing my integrity as a blogger. I’ve already mentioned my struggle and opinions in the same 2014 post.
All in all, I felt like I had reached an impasse on where I wanted to take my blogs and how to move forward as a blogger, creatively and technically.
When September came along last year, I found myself unexpectedly but blessedly with a turning point in my career. And it gave me the time, financial resources, and freedom for me to further explore and recommit to my blogs as creative endeavors for writing and photography. What did I want to do with the free time and extra resources? I wanted to take my blogging to a different level.
It was then that I began working with Martine de Luna, a blog coach, for her blog therapy services. How appropriate that I termed my struggles with blogging as an “identity crisis” and there was Martine who was actually offering her blogging services and she termed one such service as “therapy”. Perfect! I won’t go yet into the details of the process of my blog therapy with Martine as I hope to do her services justice with a more thorough post on the experience (in the meantime, check out this post on her blog for FAQs on blog coaching). But suffice it to say that working with Martine was an essential step in the progression of me getting from Point A (blogging identity crisis) to where I am now blogging-wise—a clearer brand identity as a blogger, a revamped blog, a new home.
I’ve gained so many insights during that blog therapy process. I realized that my initial reasons for wanting to begin my blog was that I wanted it as a creative outlet for my writing, an escape from work, and to document my travels and food adventures.
Later on my writing for the blog evolved to wanting to share information and inspiration to people (what a revelation that people were actually reading my blog!). It also became a place for me to document and to share my love for fashion, as well as the things and services I love.
I realized that my initial reasons for beginning the blog are still the reasons why I want to blog now, but that I just want to connect with a bigger audience by sharing meaningful information and inspiration without losing my authenticity. I still want it to be a creative outlet. I still want it to be a form of “escape” from work so I can be creative in writing (instead of just writing work emails, or drafting and editing contracts), and so I can also develop my creativity in my photography and styling. And I still want it to be a digital diary of my adventures. But now I’ve had the realization that I can channel and harness those personal reasons and passions into something that I can share to readers so they’ll be informed, inspired, or both. I also want to grow my blog through whatever life stages I may be in, without it losing my story, my brand, my voice.
I realized that all my blogging concerns and issues can be summed up in one word: BALANCE. A balance between two niche blogs, a balance between the past and the future, and a balance between growth and integrity.
So how did I resolve to find my blogging balance?
First, it became clear that I had to merge my (purely) lifestyle blog and my (purely) travel blog back into one, streamlined, revamped lifestyle blog to represent a stronger brand identity. Working with Martine helped me see the value behind my personal brand as The Sunset Goddess and I decided to own that blogging persona and take it to the next level, instead of just hiding behind a pseudonym. Hello, my name is Judy and I am The Sunset Goddess. 🙂
The revamped, consolidated lifestyle blog shall remain as Sunset Goddess Manila, because that name embodies my brand identity as The Sunset Goddess the blogger, and my brand vision for this blog as a colorful and passionate online platform and home geared towards the goddess in each and every woman but particularly the Filipina (thus, the continued use of the place name “Manila”). Read more about my brand and vision for this blog and how the blog is now categorized in the About page.
Second, the concern of balancing being fair to my past with moving forward with my future. Continuing the house analogy I started out with, I have now moved to this new home for my blog, the new space for the chronicles of my experiences and adventures. In a way, I’ve still kept some of the photos, some of the mementos of my travels and adventures, in this way cherishing certain souvenirs from certain chapters and people from my past. Whatever happened in the past, happened. And I can’t delete the past any more than I cannot tear out certain chapters from the book of my life just because I’ve already moved on. I didn’t come from nowhere. I respect, bless, and am grateful for whatever happened in the past as they shaped what I have and who I am now—someone stronger, wiser, and certainly more in love and fascinated with life than ever before.
But I like to think that I kept the adventures and lessons from the past here in the blog in such a way that what I brought with me to this new space are those that can co-exist beautifully and respectfully with this new chapter in my life, in a way that respects and celebrates not only the person I am now and who I’m becoming, but also respects and cherishes the man with me and beside me now—and not just any man at that, but one to whom I am now engaged to be married, and who will become my life partner and husband.
They say that blogs are a snapshot in time and certain life chapters. I realized that I wanted to keep some of those snapshots in time and have taken with me to my new online home their enriching lessons and experiences (not just for myself but also for my readers), while leaving behind others where they should be—to memory, and not necessarily here in my blog. And that’s that.
Lastly, balancing between monetary and growth opportunities for my blog with my integrity and authenticity. Martine definitely helped me with this issue through her own example. I realized that I didn’t have to publish in my blog all press releases sent my way. I didn’t have to attend each and every event or product launch just so I have something to blog about. I didn’t have to write about anything I wasn’t excited about just because I’d get paid to do it. I definitely did not start my blog for the money or the prestige or the freebies, and I’m not about to adopt that blogging brouhaha attitude here in my new space. It’s sad how blogging in Manila has somewhat turned out to be just another avenue for PR machines and product giveaways. I refuse to be a part of anything that’s close to mindless promotion, especially those that offer little to zero personal content. I will not do giveaways of products and services that I don’t like just to drive up my blog traffic and increase my blog’s Facebook likes. Please!
Of course, I’d welcome opportunities to grow my blog but I wish for a growth that’s sustainable and responsible. I want to work only with brands and individuals who personally matter to me and who are aligned with my blog’s brand identity and style. My ultimate goal for my blog is for it to be the online platform for my personal brand through which I will be able to parlay and offer my skills and background as a writer, lawyer, consultant, as well as my passions leaning towards the creative and stylistic. I would love for the blog to be my spring board for such endless possibilities. I would love for the blog to achieve this goal but to still stay true to my vision on why I started it in the first place, and why I love blogging now more than ever: because it is my creative and joyful outlet of bliss and creativity and as a digital diary of my travels, loves, adventures—all the while balancing providing information and inspiration and still staying true to my personal story, my authenticity, and my integrity.
I like to think that I was off to a good start so far working with these partner sites. If there are products or brands to be promoted, I wanted to make sure I still injected my personal touch, aesthetic, and views.
So, moving forward, in the pursuit of balancing between growth and integrity, I’ve come up with my blog philosophies and policies, which you can find in the Policies page.
All in all, it took about seven months from the time I started out the blog therapy process with Martine to this (re)launch of my revamped site. The process was certainly not instantaneous, and it remains to be an evolving process.
Throughout this “revamped blogging” journey, Martine also introduced and endorsed certain individuals (I love that they’re all women!) who have helped make each, essential step in this journey to my new online home possible:
- Marge Aberasturi (The Happy WAHM) of VA Support Pro, who assisted me in setting up my own domain name and housing my blog in a self-hosted site.
- Jenn Tan (The Techie Mom), my WordPress migration consultant, who was in charge of migrating my posts from my two blogs in Blogger (together with comments and all) to this new site on the WordPress.org platform.
- Patricia Alix Villa of Fancy Girl Design Studio, my blog designer.
I’ve worked especially closely with Jenn and Pat in the recent months as they did the brunt of the technical and creative work, respectively, needed for me to move my old blogs and set up a new home for it. Along the way, I also had a lot of work to do—somewhat like it was me who had to decide the contents of what I will take with me in the moving boxes and what stays behind in the old house. Jenn moved those boxes from Blogger, and I had to “unpack” them over here in WordPress. Meanwhile, it was Pat who decorated the interiors of this new home, prettifying it and making sure the design is aligned with my brand identity and the “architectural” setup is to my liking. Jenn also made sure that all my posts from Blogger (especially those that have ranked on Google) sort of have a “forwarding address” by redirecting them to all to this new self-hosted site. That’s why you will no longer see my old blogs but will instead be redirected either to this site’s home page or to the respective posts as they are published here in the new site. I have indeed moved and moved on, and there is no more looking back!
I’m a WordPress newbie and before this, Blogger was all I knew. At first I had no idea how to navigate in this bigger world of blogging on WordPress, and yet here I am now typing and blogging away. It was daunting to seemingly start all over again—Blogger was comfortable and familiar. But growth for my blog meant I had to go to WordPress. Like life itself, it was more the fear of the unknown that held me back and it wasn’t going to be easier if I didn’t try and adjust. That’s why I would like to express my heartfelt thanks to both Jenn and Pat, and of course, to my blog mentor Martine, for their patience, helpfulness, and understanding for my inquisitiveness, kakulitan, and cross-examination levels of questioning, and for answering all my concerns in my seemingly endless emails. Thank you so much!
And aside from these professionals, I would also like to thank my loved ones and friends who have been nothing but supportive of this creative endeavor. To A., who’s always been so understanding and patient as I moved and edited my blog posts (sometimes even through late at night) so I can finally finish this long-awaited revamp. Thank you for “getting” how this creative outlet of blogging is important to me and my bliss. To my closest girlfriends, thank you for your insights and being part of this process, especially in helping me crystallize this blog’s brand identity.
And to my readers, thanks for the support and for growing with me on this journey.
Looking back, this whole blogging journey was almost like a microcosm of life and its lessons: The grace of knowing when something is no longer working and being open to change; the value of reflection, self-awareness, and the kindness of friends and strangers; and most of all, the importance of balance, authenticity, and integrity.
Forgive me for this long welcome post. I just wanted to share the story of this unexpected, but no less incredible, journey of not just of this blog, but perhaps a little bit of my own life as well.
I hope you join me as I journey forward in this next chapter for Sunset Goddess Manila, as I chronicle the travels, adventures, food trips, fab finds, and insights gleaned not just in the last two years but also moving forward. I hope for Sunset Goddess Manila to be a source of meaningful and relevant information and inspiration as I also share the story of the current and coming chapters of my life—my engagement, my upcoming wedding, the next chapter of my life as a married woman, and whatever else is around the corner. I hope this blog will grow with me through whatever other chapters life may yet bring—without turning this blog into a wedding blog or a mommy blog. I dedicate this blog primarily to my fellow Filipinas, and not necessarily just to those living in Manila but wherever in the world you may be. You are and will always be my inspirations for sharing and writing.
So, welcome to my new home for Sunset Goddess Manila. Let’s begin again.