A big thank you
Hello wonderful friends. I’ve got some news! But, first of all I wanted to say a big thank you to every single one of you that has subscribed to my blog over the last five years. We’ve all been on this journey together. You’ve definitely kept me going through thick and thin with all your kind messages. I can’t begin to tell you how important it is to know that people support my work and actually enjoy reading it. Some blog posts can take as long as two or three days to write, edit and then add all the links, SEO and images. So, to have you guys actually find the time to read and then comment means the world to me. Thank you.
Where it all started
I’ve always loved writing ever since I was a boy. I used to write stories in my diary when I was away at boarding school, hundreds of miles away from friends and family. It kept me sane. It was my place where I could escape and be in another world. English literature and language were my friends. They were my two favourite subjects at school. My love of language came into good use when I was an actor. They also helped immensely when I worked in corporate PR, creating press releases and eventually becoming the editor of 20-page fortnightly newspaper for a big firm. I started writing a semi-autobiographical novel when I was 26 and I think I finished about fifteen chapters. I never completed it. It’s something I very much want to see to the end and give myself the time to do so. I also want to write interior and garden books. I’d love to write a column for a magazine, my wish list is endless.
The beginning of my blog
My blog started as a way for me to express myself with long-form writing. I used to love creating the captions for Instagram posts. But, I always felt they needed to be kept quite short. I so had a yearning to write more. For those of you that have been with me since the beginning, you’ll remember it was called “My Gay Best Friend” back then. Why? Well, I used to be a Vidal Sassoon hairdresser by day. A client once said to me: “You know, I love coming here. I get my hair done, I get interior and garden advice, book, play and restaurant recommendations, help with my man problems and a whole lot of laughs. It’s like having my very own gay best friend.” – and that’s where my little acorn of an idea for my blog originally came from. My Gay Best Friend – the blog was born! However, quite a few men got the wrong idea about what kind of website it was. So, I changed it to “JP’s Life and Loves” a year later.
I’m not a techie!
I had absolutely no idea how to put a website together. I didn’t know any computer code and was in no way a tech-minded person. But, I didn’t have any money to pay people to do it for me, so I had to learn. That was the hardest part. Before I could even think about writing what I loved, I needed to think about site hosting, domain names, plug-ins, widgets, search engine optimisation and email distributors. It was mind-blowing and exhausting. Somehow though, I got there and before I knew it I had people like you subscribing to my website. People that wanted to read what I had to say. That feeling is one of the best in the world.
Through the various Covid lockdowns I worked every day on the blog, building it up and nurturing it. That culminated in being nominated and shortlisted for many prestigious awards, two of which I won in 2021. I’ve had the best time and it’s all thanks to you guys.
Before I say any more, I want you all to know that I have no intention of leaving Instagram, or closing this website down. Instagram will continue as usual and this website will remain the main landing page for anything to do with me, be it our holiday home, how to contact or work with me and hopefully some new things, such as a proper shop one day. I have no certainty that what I’m about to do will work out for me. It’s an huge leap of faith. Worst case scenario though, I can come back here and still see you all. Everything changes and, my god, the world has changed so much since I started this blog. It’s time for the things I do and the way that I do them to change too. Change is good. My whole life has been about not being scared to jump, not being afraid to move on, even if you don’t quite know how it’s all going to pan out.
So, today’s news is that I will be moving all my writing to a platform called Substack from now on. What the hell is Substack? Well, it’s an online platform for writers, journalists, authors and bloggers combined. It enables them to send out newsletters/blog posts to their audience without having to pay any upfront fees. It showcases writers and enables them to grow a wider audience. For you as the reader, there is an app that you can download, where you can read your favourite blogs and newsletters. You can find great writers on everything from International cuisine to politics to mental health and wellbeing and, of course, Interiors and gardening. You don’t have to download the app though. You’ll get an email in your inbox from me every Sunday as usual. So, it will feel like nothing has changed.
For a while now I’ve been looking for a place on the internet that had the buzz and friendly vibe that Instagram used to and I think Substack might just be the place. One of things I loved about Instagram when I first started was that people used to take time to read the captions and comment, often sparking a conversation. That doesn’t happen half as much anymore. I’ve also been searching high and low for a platform where I could write and send out newsletters, but where you could respond and then we could have a conversation. My blog is great, but it can be super lonely and it’s very one-way. Yes, there is the facility for you to comment and let me know what you thought, but I’d really love more of a two-way conversation.
I also want a place where I don’t have to do sponsored brand work or bow down to advertisers. A place where there are no pop-up adverts, or algorithms that hide me from you. On Substack I can be with other writers and authors and nurture my love of writing specifically. I want to write that book and I want you to read it. It would be great to share all the funny things that happen in my life as well as my experience in interior design and gardening, without having to worry about how long the caption is, or whether the algorithm will be on my side. I want to be able to talk about all aspects of my life and not be made to stick to my niche all the time. After all, we are all so much more than just cushions and hydrangeas!
So, what’s going to happen?
To start off with I will be writing up to four newsletters a month, which will be delivered directly to your inbox every Sunday just as they were before. On Substack though, you can write a comment about what you’ve read that everyone will see. I can respond to it and so can other subscribers. So, the idea is that we can have a Sunday morning conversation after you’ve read it. Sounds fab, right? It’s about creating a community, but without all the adverts, loud music and algorithms. In time, I will be shaking it up and adding in much more than I currently offer, but there will be more about that next week, when you receive your first email from JP’s Life and Loves on Substack. Your email address should have already gone across to Substack so that you can continue to receive posts. However, just in case, you’ll notice a sign up form on the sidebar to your right and on my homepage here. Give it a click anyway, it’ll just make sure you are definitely on the list. If it’s easier, just click here.
Thank you all so much, once again, for being so incredibly supportive over the years and I can’t wait to see you over on Substack for a whole new chapter.