This past year was a big one for me. I experienced many changes both personally and professionally, but perhaps the most significant and exciting one was the launch of House of Wend. When I began, I had absolutely no knowledge about blogging or building a website, only an idea and a dream. Through trial and error and many late nights spent reading articles about photography and watching YouTube videos about coding, I have managed to wend my way. There is still so much more to learn and a very long way to go before I build H.O.W into what I hope it can be, but I wouldn’t have gotten half as far as I have if it weren’t for a few people who inspired and encouraged me along the way.
As this year draws to a close, I wanted to personally acknowledge those who shared their wisdom and insight and demonstrated what’s possible when you combine your passion with hard work. Some of them are fellow bloggers, others are friends and some may not even know who I am, but I have learned so much from each of them and wanted to say thank you. So in no particular order, here is my countdown of the top 10 bloggers and creatives who have inspired me this year.
10. Noor De Groot
Creator of Queen of Jet Lags, Noor is a full time fashion blogger and mother-to-be based in Amsterdam. She is a prime example of how you can have it all if you love what you do and work tirelessly to achieve your goals. In addition to showcasing her unique sense of style on her site, she often features excellent blogging advice that is invaluable regardless of your niche.
9. Jason Moore
Jason is a long time traveler who has dedicated his site, Zero to Travel, to showcasing unique methods people have found to explore the world. He does so through podcasts and interviews with fellow travelers who share the many ways they have managed to forge their own paths. His podcasts are engrossing and leave listeners feeling encouraged and empowered to ditch the status quo and live a life of adventure. I reached out to Jason when I was just starting out and he encouraged me to let my voice be heard and reassured me that there was room for everyone in the blogosphere.
Jodi Ettenberg of Legal Nomads. Photo source: LegalNomads.com
8. Jodi Ettenberg
Attorney turned writer, blogger and traveler, Jodi is a prime example of how you can use the skills you have to create the career you want if you’re creative and willing to take some risks. After practicing as a corporate lawyer in New York, Jodi decided to take a year off to travel the world. 7 years and countless countries later, Jodi continues to pursue her love of travel, culture and cuisine. She founded the site, Legal Nomads, where she shares stories and insights gathered from her years spent on the road. Jodi stands out as someone who has paved her own way, gained a significant following and created a career by focusing less on herself and more on the “story” and conveying the feeling and spirit of the places she visits in an authentic way. She does so impeccably and she has been a true inspiration for me.
7. Liz Carlson
Liz, aka the Young Adventuress, is based in New Zealand and has managed to turn her blog into a full time business in a short amount of time. She is a talented photographer and writer who consistently produces interesting and engaging content. Before launching House of Wend, I knew nothing about starting a website and literally googled “how to start a travel blog”. Luckily, Liz’s was the first site I landed on. She provided a blueprint for building a site from the ground up. She also didn’t sugar coat how much time and work goes in to running a blog. She wasn’t kidding, but I can’t thank her enough for all the tips!
6. Ane Urquiola Lowe
Photos are a huge part of blogging, and it’s a skill I am trying to improve upon. When I first started researching fellow bloggers, I stumbled upon Ane’s beautiful site The Hungry Chronicles, a food, travel and lifestyle blog. She calls Austin home and focuses on the eclectic food scene there while also offering travel inspiration from her various adventures abroad. I was instantly drawn to her clean and elegant photography and website. When I reached out, she could not have been more helpful by introducing me to PicMonkey and later providing a free tutorial on tips for improving your iphone photography skills.
“Milk & Honey Town” oil on canvas by Drea Cofield. Photo source: dreacofield.com
5. Drea Cofield
Drea and I became friends many years ago after meeting in college and later becoming sorority sisters. We both went our separate ways for a while, but after finishing her MFA at Yale, I was thrilled that she moved to NYC and to the same borough no less! Drea is a talented painter with a free spirit and keen eye for aesthetics. She was one of the first people I told about my site and from day 1, she has offered much needed encouragement, constructive criticism and endless support along the way. I have gained so much inspiration by watching her pursue her dreams and hone her craft. You can view more of her work at dreacofield.com.
4. Brooke Saward
World of Wanderlust is arguably one of the most successful travel blogs in existence, created and run by the adorable and talented Brooke Saward. I discovered her site early this year and found myself visiting frequently. Brooke’s blogging, photography and travel tips have been invaluable and her command of social media is impressive. She continues to set the bar high for what’s possible and provides constant inspiration to keep striving.
3. Carlina Harris
When I implemented a “travel essentials” store on my site through Shop Style Collective it was a bit of an experiment and naturally I had a ton of questions. I was fortunate to actually have the opportunity to meet one of the women behind Shop Style at a recent blogging conference. Carlina, who also runs her own fashion blog Allergic to Vanilla, could not have been more helpful! She provided on the spot assistance and has been easy to reach ever since whenever questions arise.
Rachael Eckles of digestivewellness.co. Photo source: digstivewellness.co by Meg Miller photography
2. Nikki Vargas
When I first came across Nikki’s site The Pin The Map Project, I was instantly drawn to her eloquent writing style. Armed with a background in PR and journalism, Nikki has managed to trade in her 9 to 5 for a budding career as a full time travel writer and blogger. She is an open book when it comes to relaying insights about blogging, travel writing, and turning your passion into a lifestyle. Needless to say, I was thrilled when she allowed me to guest post on her site just last month!
1. Rachael Eckles
Rounding out the list is my fabulous friend Rachael. She was the very first person I confided in when I had the initial idea for House of Wend. From day 1, she has believed in my dream and offered nothing but unwavering support, guidance and resources. On days when self-doubt creeps in, she always manages to re-inspire me and make me feel like I am on the right path. Rachael also happens to be an attorney, novelist, and nutrition blogger in her own right and I am so grateful to have her as a friend.
As you can see, there are some great people producing really inspiring and creative work. I am so thankful to each one of them for helping me along as I continue to grow this space. I am now looking ahead to 2016 with excitement about what the future holds…I hope you’ll join me!
Where did you draw inspiration from this year? Share your comments below!