Southern Belle in Training

Fashion, Travel & Lifestyle Blog || Est. 2012 || Virginia Beach, VA

December 31, 2018

2018: Blogging Highlights + Favorite Outfits.

    Welcome to my second year-end post of 2018! Yesterday's blog post focused on memories and accomplishments in my personal life, and today's will focus on all things blogging. As always, I'll be sharing my 12 favorite outfits of the year (one for each month), the five most popular posts of the year, and just a few thoughts about blogging this year in general!

    Let's start with my favorite outfits of the year!! Do you remember some of these posts?

     January: Vermont Red Barn + Wearing White in Winter (It was one of my goals while I lived in Vermont to shoot an outfit near one of the classic red barns. That dream came true last January on the most pretty, snow-filled day!)

     February: #IHaveThisThingWithPink: Winter Edition (I absolutely adore the color combo of hot pink and red! While I loved styling it for this Valentine's look, I'd love to start wearing these colors together during more of the year.) 

     March: Lilly Pulitzer Spring Styles with Pink Colony. I loved getting to do two collaborations with Vermont's largest Lilly retailer before I moved! This dress was one of my favorites that I styled in-store. 

     April: Lilly Pulitzer Sophie Dress + 4 Books I've Read Lately I live in casual Lilly Pulitzer dresses like this one for work in the spring/summer. I styled it slightly more dressy for this outfit post, but I still love this dress so much!

     May: Tie-Waist Shirt + Neck Scarf: Two Spring Trends to Try This was actually my favorite outfit of the year! I LOVE how these trends pair together, and I love the photos from this post so much! This is an outfit that I always feel confident and beautiful in.

     June: My Favorite Type of Place to Shoot Blog Photos At It was about time that I finally did a blog post dedicated to how much I love doing my blog photos on parking decks! I also love this flirty pink top- such a fun spring casual look. 

     July: Blue Gingham Sundress + Carytown Adventures  I love Richmond, I love summer adventures, and I love how this outfit turned out! 

     August: Summer to Fall Business Casual Look + INSTAGRAM Feed Talk These photos were taken for an Instagram sponsored post, but I loved the outfit so much that I shared on the blog as well.  

     September: Fall Transition Look + 3 Things I've Been Loving in September This was a re-styled outfit, I've had this sassy plaid mini skirt for a few years, and it's been on the blog before.

     October: Sweater Dress in Shenandoah... This was hands down the most stunning location that I took outfit photos at in 2018. 

     November 2018: My Favorite Navy Dress + Recent Thoughts  I can never say no to a chic and classic dress like this one!

    December: Christmas Photos 2018 + My Christmas Traditions! This year's Christmas photos also happened to be my favorite outfit from December.

   Since we have recapped the best outfits of the year, let's take a look now at the year in blog travel! This is the first year that I had a few different blog travel opportunities, and they were all fun and memorable.

     June: Richmond, VA: Worked Graduate Hotels

   August: Roanoke, VA: Worked with Visit Virginia's Blue Ridge

     December: Fredericksburg, VA: Worked with Visit Fredericksburg

     Now it's time to take a look back at the five most popular blog posts of the year with SBIT readers! I gotta be honest- most of these really surprised me, as a couple of these totally different from my favorite posts of the year. 

  1.    Cold Weather Easter Outfit - This post was #1 with readers by a long shot! (Which tbh kind of surprised me as it didn't even make my list of favorite outfits of the year...)
  2.    Lilly Pulitzer After Party Sale Picks + Style Guide -  One of my favorite collaborations of the year, and y'all loved it too!
  3.    Big Life Update Part 2: Hello Virginia!!! - I finally got to share the news that I was moving back South in 2018, and y'all were thrilled for me!
  4.    Shop Your Closet for Wedding Season: Part 1 - Bachelorette Parties - I shared lots of different all-black outfit options in this post, as well as a few other outfit ideas. 
  5.    Lilly Pulitzer Casual Workwear Looks with Pink ColonyY'all love Lilly as much as I do, so it makes sense that y'all want to know how I'd wear Lilly to work!

     I also wanted to share my favorite posts of the year! As much as I love fashion posts and sharing my affordable outfits, all of my favorites this year were more personal posts, and travel as well!

  1.    Big Life Update Part 1: Goodbye Vermont!!! When I first announced my new job, I didn't share what state I was moving to in the blog post. I made a video (that I first sent to family and friends the week prior) that documented my whole job search and interview process. I shared that special video in this post! 
  2.    Life Update: I'M A MORNING RADIO CO-HOST!!! Another job announcement post! This one was the news I never saw coming.
  3.    Relationship Monday: A Year Without Dating Apps. I didn't use a single dating app in 2018, and I summarized a huge jumble of thoughts on that in this post. This year was full of growth as a single woman!
  4.    RICHMOND TRAVEL GUIDE: Girls' Weekend at Graduate Richmond Travel content is something that I've worked hard to expand on my blog in 2018. This is the first travel opportunity that I was contacted for (versus me pitching a tourism board or hotel). 
  5.    Relationship Monday: Valentine's Prayers for Your Future Spouse I see myself re-reading this special blog post each February for years to come!

     And lastly, a few random personal notes on 2018 in blogging! This year I celebrated my 6th blogiversary... HOW?! As a young kid and high school student, I tried lot of different sports, creative pursuits, and hobbies. Being an only child, my parents were able to support me trying in doing just about anything that I wanted. During my childhood, I tried everything from horseback riding to fencing (that one was very short lived), to sewing and pottery classes. I did a few musicals and was in chorus for a few years, and I had my first experiences with team sports in high school. The thing that I stuck with the longest as a kid was figure skating- I started at age 3, and competed for a couple years in middle school. However, as blessed as I was to try all of these amazing different things... I never stuck with anything. I suppose skating was the thing that I did the longest, but I had stopped competing by the time I got to high school, due to an injury. 

     I consider my blog to be the first thing that I have ever "stuck with," and for that I am extremely proud of myself. Did I expect to still be doing this six years later when I started? Probably not to be honest! But I am extremely grateful that through this website, I not only have an easily accessible diary some of the most important years of my life, but I've also taught myself so many skills about business, writing, and personal growth. 

     Something big that happened this year is that 2018 is the first year I've started telling people that I have a "lifestyle blog," not a "fashion blog." I still LOVE fashion (especially affordable style) and this will always be a large part of my blog, but I realized this year it's not the focus anymore, and that's okay. Writing about radio, faith, relationships and travel is JUST as important to me as fashion! I feel more proud than ever to tell people that I meet about my LIFESTYLE blog. 😊

    Anyways, now that the sappiness is out of the way, I wanted to share a couple blog goals that were accomplished this year! The first is really superficial, but I'm still so excited. I had my first Instagram post reach 1,000+ likes! This is a goal I've been working at for a couple years (I had one a couple years ago reach 950+), and it was just cool to finally see that happen. I love the photo that it happened for as well! 

     The second big accomplished goal was that I worked hard enough on travel content in 2017 that I was able to have a few more blog travel writing opportunities in 2018! The best part was that two of them involved the hotel or tourism board reaching out to me, instead of me reaching them. You can see all of the blog travel I did this year above in this post!

    One goal that I definitely didn't reach this year was getting to the amount of Instagram followers that I wanted. I gained less than 1k new followers this year... ugh I'm conscious just typing that out! But I'm sharing that because I think it's important to let y'all know that if you're having problems with getting noticed on IG and beating the algorithm, it's not just you. I don't buy followers or do loop giveaways... so I know that the following that I do have is authentic and is CHOOSING to follow me. While the numbers aren't as high as I wanted at the end of this year, that's still pretty darn cool! 

    The other goal that I didn't accomplish was starting a newsletter for my blog. I tried to do this around this time last year, but I had some technical issues with the mailing list. I meant to fix it in March, but I ended up getting preoccupied with my new job and moving. I just never got around to setting it up this year, and I think that's okay! A lot of bloggers have successful newsletters which is awesome for them, but I don't feel as much pressure now to start this.

     I have some new goals in place for 2019, and I can't wait to see at this time next year if I accomplished them. THANK YOU THANK YOU THANK YOU for reading and being apart of the Southern Belle in Training family! God bless you all, and talk to y'all in 2019.

     God Bless,

     xoxo Annaliese 



  1. I love the way you dress, its very pretty and you add beautiful colors! I can’t wait to see your outfits guides in 2019!!

  2. GIRL, SAMEEEE WITH THE INSTAGRAM FOLLOWING. Reading what you said about having gained less than 1k followers this year, I realized I'm in the exact same boat. But you're right - the following we did gain is 100% authentic. Excited to start following along!

  3. your september outfit was definitely my favorite!
    - lora /

  4. Love hearing about all the good things that happened for you this year friend! And it's refreshing to hear someone else struggling with IG growth; I'm only up about 300 followers from this time last year but I did it honestly.


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