My One Year Blog Anniversary : The Inspiration Behind The Blog

photo by  Katie Donnelly

photo by Katie Donnelly

A year ago today I hit the publish button on this blog. I never had an intention of being a blogger. I love being a photographer and it is a full-time job in itself. I am not a writer, I don’t have the best grammar and you can often catch a spelling error in a post of mine. Throughout the last year, people have reminded me that they aren’t expecting a perfectly edited post it is more about the content.

The idea

You may not know this but I am not the best sleeper. As a teenager through college, I was a champion sleeper but as I got older things changed. I entered the real world and stress hit and I can often find myself awake in the middle of the night.

The idea of the blog came through another sleepless night. I spent three years as a nomad living between Paris and the United States. I finally moved back to Chicago in the Summer of 2015. It was early September and I couldn’t sleep.  Living abroad and moving home is never easy and I hadn’t adjusted to my life in Chicago just yet. I was missing my life in Paris and I was trying to find a way to find a solution. I came up with the name of the blog because I wanted a way to connect with people around the world that were feeling a little homesick for Paris too. I quickly opened my computer and logged onto GoDaddy to see if was available. To my surprise it was and the cost was $12.  I purchased it and fell asleep thinking of all the possibilities.

When I started my business in 2010 I didn’t have a clue of what I was doing and I didn’t plan. I couldn’t find a job so I created one. It was all based on one photograph that launched everything. The timing was right and losing my job was the push I needed to follow my dream of becoming a travel photographer.

With the blog, I put A LOT of planning into the creation. I secretly told friends and family members. There were coffee dates and long strategy meetings. I owe the most to my good friend Alexis. We grew up together and even took the same French class in High School. She had just quit her job so I asked her if she was interested in working on the blog together. We strategized the ideal reader, demographics, blog post ideas, font choices, colors. We even had a second blog name “The Paris Girl” that we were deciding, between. It was really helpful to be able to bounce ideas off of each other.

Photo by Liam Graham 

Photo by Liam Graham 

At the same time, I bought the domain name I had the first date with my now ex-boyfriend. The relationship wasn’t a healthy one and I spent a lot of extra energy worrying if he was cheating instead of creating and working on developing the blog. Towards the end of the relationship, my creativity was completely gone. It was a terrible feeling. I was always a creative person even at a young age and I just couldn’t do anything, I was stuck in a terrible rut. It felt like writer’s block but with my creativity. The day I broke up with him everything changed. I booked a flight to Paris that night and I was ready to start moving on with my life in a positive way. He took way too much time and energy away from me.

The creativity started flowing like water as soon as the relationship ended. Taking a trip to Paris was the perfect start for a new beginning. I knew I had to run with my idea and start making things happen. I wrote idea after idea in my notebook about different blog posts that I wanted to write. My friend Rachelle from Paris helped me take my idea and turn it into an active blog. Like I said I had no intention of writing a blog so I didn’t know the ins and outs of writing one. Rachelle helped me design and execute the blog and my graphic designer Lindsay did the logo that matched my name for my photography business.

Every Day Parisian

I wanted to connect with Francophiles around the world and create a community. The blog was to be a space where we could all feel connected to Paris even if we weren’t currently there. In the beginning, it was about finding Paris wherever you were. This included: bookshops, restaurants, cafés, clothing all over the world. A growing list for everyone to share.

I went to NYC last Summer and created the Paris Meets NYC Guide. This is something I was able to grow over the last year and will be updating after my last trip to NYC. Chicago is on my list to post.

I also wanted to take the community offline and meet people face to face. I created the meetups as a way to do this. Since my home base is in Chicago we have had two here and the community is growing. I had a meetup in Paris and NYC this Summer and I would love to do other cities!

How the Blog Changed over The Last Year

In October of last year, I went to Paris to shoot content for my photography shop and also collect ideas for the blog. I started The Paris Diaries as a way for you to read my daily life while I was in Paris. While it was not so easy to do since my days were really long and wifi was spotty I realized how much you as an audience were interested in my Parisian life more than my Chicago life.

rebecca plotnick paris apartment window

I created a master list of where to eat, explore, and stay in Paris and this continues to grow as I discover new places in Paris.

This Spring I was in Paris for a whole month. There were a few reasons: I couldn’t think of a better place to spend my birthday, I can work from anywhere and I wanted to continue to grow the blog and the content. I still have a lot of posts coming up on different experiences from my last trip.

Over the past two weeks, I have been traveling throughout Europe. I started in Portugal, then Prague, and finished in Budapest. I didn’t have too much time to research before leaving so when it came down to things to do and where to eat I felt stuck and ended up having some really bad meals. This made me realize how important it is to guide you along through Paris so you can have the best experience if you are traveling for the first time, a weekend trip, or just want more of a local experience.

The Book Club

Last year during a trip to Europe I read the first book in a long time, “The Paris Wife” once I shared that I was reading it I had so many recommendations for more books and my list started to grow. I immediately knew I wanted to do a Book Club for the blog. Our lives are busy between work, family, and social life and with the increase in social media and time we spend on our phones I don’t think we are reading as much as we used to. There are no rules to the book club. Start wherever you like and go in any order and skip ones that don’t sound interesting. This is just a jumping off point for you to have some suggestions when you need a new book to read. I wish there was a better way of gathering together to discuss the book virtually. Encourage your friends to pick up the books with you. Grab a cup of coffee and put your phones down.


The Personal Posts

Last Summer when I was in NYC I had a chat with Amy Thomas of “Paris My Sweet” She encouraged me to write down my story and share it through the blog. The personal posts are the hardest to write but are so important. I want to share that I am not just a one sided person that I have struggles just like anyone else and we are more alike than different. I took the challenge of losing my job to create a whole new path for myself. Something I dreamt of and didn’t think it was possible until it happened. If I can encourage one person to chase their dreams, book a trip abroad, or experience a new culture than I feel I have succeeded.

One Year Later:

Stats: Page Views: 146,615 for one year

Post #: 210

Instagram Followers: 7,451 You can follow along here

Countries that follow the blog? 151 countries

Most viewed post: 10 Tips For Female Solo Travelers

What’s Next For The Blog

I have a lot of ideas on where to take the blog in the second year but I am going to ask you as an audience most importantly what would you like to see more of: Paris Tips, Personal Posts, Images of Paris, Best Croissant, Best Views (Top 10 lists about Paris) Recipes, Books?

Do I make money from the blog?

If you are curious if the blog is to make money or how much money I made in the first year. I am lucky enough to have a photography business that supports me full time. Would I love to make money from the blog? Yes, of course. But I want to do it in an authentic way. I won’t stand behind a product or support something that I don’t like or use. All opinions are my own. I do use affiliate links in my post but it literally covers my croissant and coffee fund and that is pretty much it. If I start making money through blogging I will be happy to share how that happens and if it is important I will share my numbers. 

A special Thank You to those who I couldn’t have created the blog without: Rachelle Saevil and Lindsay Brown Design and Alexis Wintrob

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  1. After seeing your IG feed I read your Anniversary blog! Very inspiring. Congratulations, you certainly deserve it.👍🏻😉

  2. I’m excited for the future of your blog and look forward to more posts with Paris tips posts as well as personal ones.

  3. Thank you for sharing your story lovely lady. Can’t wait to see what happens over the coming year. You’ve been a great inspiration for my trip last year to Paris & will help me plan the next one later this year! 💞

    • Thank you so much! I am very excited to see what happens in year two. It will be a fun year! I am so happy to inspire you with your travels. When are you going later this year?

  4. What an inspirational story! Thank you so much for sharing details about your journey. I would love to hear your tips about Paris (especially food-related details) and anything that you think we would enjoy knowing about. Thanks again! Robin

    • Thank you Robin! I will work on food-related details for you in the upcoming months. Are you thinking restaurants, bakeries, or something different? Go to spots?

  5. Congratulations Rebecca, I have always follow your photography on Etsy, I am also a photographer there. I would love to read more about Paris tips and Personal posts, and, I don’t know, everything about traveling alone, how to meet bew people or make friends in Paris or when you travel alone, you are a very interesting person!

    • Thank you Caroline! Some people hate traveling alone but I actually love it. I am happy to share more about that and how to meet people. I have been very lucky to meet a lot of great people along the way. More Paris tips and Personal posts coming your way! I hope you are having a great Summer!

    • Sherrylynne you are the sweetest!! Thank you so much! I hope you are enjoying your summer. My sister lived in Minneapolis for a bit it is such a fun city!