Last Saturday was Midlifechic’s 3rd birthday. I’m afraid there are no photos of celebrations this year because I had some emergency dental surgery on Friday afternoon which means I’ve been feeling sorry for myself, nursing a very sore mouth and a cheek like a chipmunk.
Nevertheless 3 years feels like a milestone. Midlifechic began as a short term project when I was going through a period of transition. My youngest son was preparing to leave primary school and the eldest had his eyes fixed firmly forwards on the move to university.
I felt I had arrived at the bottom of one of those sharp inclines that appear in your path. This one was steep and slippery to climb and I was finding it hard to gain traction. Starting Midlifechic was my way of gaining a foothold by doing something new for myself. Those of you who have been with me since the beginning will remember that I was aiming for a personal renaissance. As I explained at the time, I was emerging from the baby years and trying to discover the woman I used to be.
Midlifechic began as, and continues to be, primarily a project to rediscover my sense of style – but along the way it has grown to be so much more than that as more and more of you have joined me and shared your stories. We’ve talked about the joys and sorrows of our children growing away, the difficulties of ageing parents, challenging relationships, career ups and downs, Project Happier and most recently the approach of the menopause.
And now, as I hit this 3 year milestone, I’ve been doing some thinking about what is next. This starts with a bit of a problem that has arisen from the annual catch up with my accountant as he goes through my tax return and other carefully prepared spreadsheets that I pretend to appreciate and understand. He has made it clear that Midlifechic has become a very expensive hobby.
Since I began, the costs have risen by stealth. The many plug-ins and applications I use that were once free have all started to charge. The latest is Disqus which is so important for our comments. There is a gun to my head – if I don’t want my site to be splattered with advertising that I would have no control over, I have to pay a monthly fee.
On top of this, the happy fact that Midlifechic now has so much traffic means that I have just had to invest in a substantial upgrade for my hosting and maintenance. The trips to London that enable me to keep us on top of the trends and define the best way for midlifers to apply them mounted up to a scary amount last year. And on it goes.
I’ve reached a crossroads. I’ve had to face the choice of logging off for good or slightly adapting my model. The integrity of the ‘readers first’ approach will always be important to me and I have no intention of pimping Midlifechic to the highest paying sponsor but I do need to cover costs.
So, I’ve discussed it with some of the brands that I feature regularly and fortunately they are willing to help support what I’m doing. Thankfully they value the passionate and intelligent community that we have built at Midlifechic. Not only do they want to show you their clothes but they want to keep on hearing your feedback too.
My plan is to run occasional (clearly labelled) ‘spotlight’ posts that will focus on a single brand – which is something I have always done anyway. The benefit to the brand is that they are able to time the spotlight post to coincide with their new collections – the Inès de La Fressange at Uniqlo post last week was a good example. I will retain editorial independence and select the clothes that I think will appeal most to Midlifechic readers. It will be objective – in addition to discussing the strengths of the brand, I will continue to point out areas for improvement if I see them.
You probably won’t even notice the change but I wanted to be transparent with you. So now when you see a “Spotlight on X” you will know that the post about that brand is helping to keep Midlifechic running.
I’m hoping that in return, you will support the brands that are supporting Midlifechic by continuing with your astute commenting. We really are beginning to have an impact on the retail world – I have been working with two brands recently to help them develop their new ranges with midlifers in mind. It’s an exciting time.
So – what’s next?
Knowing that the problem of costs is resolved, I’m really looking forward to the next year of Midlifechic. The focus will always be on style but I want to keep on broadening our midlife discussions. This month I will be starting a monthly beauty post and I have a cornucopia of ideas for other topics that I will introduce now and again.
My own big birthday is fast approaching when I will chalk up a few more years than 3 but before that we have the excitement of the UK Blog Awards in April. Just reaching the finals makes me feel as though I’ve scaled one of the peaks I was trying to climb. Regardless of whether or not I win, on the night I’ll just be so excited to plant a flag for vibrant, stylish women over 40 on that particular summit.
The important thing is that the visible profile of older women is starting to rise across the board; in film, on TV, in advertising, as heads of states (although maybe not as many as we had hoped). Every woman over 40 that makes some kind of a difference paves the way for those who follow.
On that note, one of the surprising and yet rewarding things for me this year has been the number of messages I’ve received from women under 40 telling me that they felt excluded from our community by Midlifechic’s original strapline ‘for women over 40 who are getting their groove back.’ So, as some of you have noticed, I’ve changed it and Midlifechic is now ‘the thinking woman’s style blog.’ It won’t change the topics I cover but I want every woman to feel welcome.
My primary outward facing objective will be to continue to put pressure on retailers until they begin to appreciate the buying power of the midlife woman and deliver what she wants. But as we’ve discovered, there is so much more we can discuss here.
So I want to thank you for reading my blog this year, for continuing to support me in the comments and for all of the thoughts you share that make Midlifechic an interesting and thoughtful place to come to. I’ll be back on Friday with a new idea – a style seminar where we’ll focus on a particular piece of capsule clothing to make sure we’ve got it right. Until then, have a wonderful week.
One last thing – late arrivals have just been added to the Inès de La Fressange at Uniqlo collection here.