How My Blog Planning Has Changed Through The Years

It’s always October that I find myself thinking a lot about my blog and how much it’s changed. In just over two weeks this little space of mine will be 4 years old, and I will never stop being grateful for all that blogging has given me.I look back to the early years with a lot of fond memories. I wouldn’t like to call myself naive but I think that’s exactly what I was, but innocently so. Back then I wrote how I thought I should be writing, and when I look back I cringe over how the words don’t even sound like they’ve come from me, but back then, same as I do now, I wrote because I loved doing it.

Back in the day I had no idea how to schedule a blog post, and in fact there were a few days within my first years of blogging that I published about 6 posts in a day because I had no concept of the importance of staggering my content. In those days I didn’t even know how to check my blog stats, let alone worry over them, and I didn’t think I needed a Twitter account – cute right?

For the first year or so of my blog, I just wrote whenever I had the chance. There was no real pattern of much of a schedule, and pretty much everything was posted on the same day it was written without much of a thought. It was simple and I was happy doing that.

When 2015 came around, I wanted routine. I was still LottieDoesDisney back then and I still thought all I could write about was Disney, but came up with an ingenious blog plan and routine for the coming year. For each week I would honour a particular Disney movie, and represent said movie in various inspired posts through the week – I think Monday was an intro, Tuesday was fashion, Wednesday was DIY Thursday was food etc. I don’t even think that lasted two months.

The problem with this is I felt too restricted, and by this stage I was wanting to branch out and write about more topics, and this sort of schedule wasn’t allowing me the ability to do that. I quickly ditched that, although I never stopped writing about Disney, and change was creeping in, but it wasn’t long before I was introducing new schedules that were just as tight as the old ones.

2016 came and again I planned the year out carefully with a bunch of series that I was sure I’d see through, some weekly, some bi-weekly and others monthly. At the time I loved thinking that I was so damn organised, but if for any reason the posts couldn’t be written, I felt like I’d failed the system. Knowing I had to have a certain post written by a certain day of the week made everything feel forced, and I fell out of love with the writing, so I decided to let go.

I still plan, and I always aim to keep at least a week ahead of the game, but I’m far more relaxed with my blog schedule. I am, in fact, writing as many posts, if not more than I ever have done, but I don’t pressure myself and the words just flow much better that way. I try to have 3-4 posts for each week planned at the start of each month, and that allows me to fill the spaces with the spontaneous and off the cuff posts, which often tend to be the most popular.

I’ve always said it and I always will: I just enjoy writing and being a blogger, and what’s funnier still is I always say I’m grateful for what my blog has given me, but I guess really it’s what I’ve given myself.

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I Went Viral

Guys, I have actually no idea what’s happened in the last 48 hours.

Whether you follow me on Twitter or not, there’s a good chance that you may have seen a tweet of mine that unexpectedly took the Twittersphere by storm.

It was Friday morning, and while I was stuck at work, I was waiting for the good news that my ASOS parcel had been delivered. My DPD driver Paul was due to deliver between 9:31 and 10:31, and I’ve never had any issues with DPD so I felt like my parcel was in safe hands. The text came, and I glanced at it quickly presuming it would read that it had been delivered safely, and most likely signed for by my mum, but what I actually read made me to a double-take.

I enjoy a bit of delivery humour, and I’m full of stories from experience with various delivery companies, and this text didn’t bother me in the slightest. I had a little giggle, then quickly shoved my phone back in my pocket before I was caught out by a manager, but I did think other people might get a kick out of the text, so on my lunch break I decided to post a screenshot of the text on Twitter and share the lols.

Since then, everything has felt like a whirlwind.

Within a few minutes of tweeting the image, responses were rolling in. There were a handful of retweets, some replies and a good number of likes, to which I didn’t think much, but by the end of Friday I had 2K likes, and as I’m writing this now on Saturday evening, the post has almost 4,000 retweets and 23,000 likes.

I am absolutely flabbergasted. Little old me with my 2,500 followers would have never expected this sort of response from a single tweet, and since it reached what I can only describe as viral status, there hasn’t been more than a minute when I haven’t received more notifications of likes, replies and retweets. For this very reason I have no idea if anyone has actually been talking to me on Twitter because I am just swamped!

This is crazy right? I know it’ll probably fizzle out over the next few days and I’m certainly not letting this go to my head, but I am just astonished at how entertaining the internet has found this text! Did it make you giggle?

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Blogging for a Better World

It constantly amazes me how much of an influence bloggers and vloggers actually have these days. I was browsing the beauty aisle in Superdrug the other day near a group of loud teenagers, when I heard one of them say ‘no don’t buy that, *insert name I can’t remember* the YouTuber doesn’t like it so it must be rubbish’, and I just thought it was amazing. Sure, the influence you have can vary, but it got me thinking that as a group, we could make incredible change.

Now I don’t believe for a second in telling other bloggers how to blog, or what you should blog about, but there are a bunch of ways that without compromising your blogging style, you can help make the world a better place.

Be more domestic

I’m not talking about doing the ironing or washing up, this is about cutting the carbon footprint of your shopping spree by choosing to shop from companies and brands that operate in this country. Not only will you save on hefty customs charges, but your items haven’t got to you courtesy of a plane journey!

Order with friends

If you are ordering from abroad, why not do a joint order with other people? I try to do this with a lot of US companies to save on the shipping and customs costs, but it does also save on packaging and transportation.

Promote the use of local produce

If you’re sharing a recipe, why not buy from a local producer and talk about your experience in the post? You can get great deals from your local greengrocers and butchers, they can tell you more about the produce and you’ll be supporting the local community too.

Try natural and cruelty free

You don’t have to switch out your entire makeup collection, but next time you shop try switching to a cruelty free alternative. And hey, if you don’t like what you try, you can write about that too!

Chat about the planet

Write a post on how you recycle at home, or share your favourite outdoor activities. Opt for a staycation bucket list for your next travel post, review a product from a sustainable brand, or just get chatty and talk about saving the planet!

Play a part

There are so many incredible charities that are trying to make a difference in this world, from fighting for human rights to animal conservation and saving the planet. You can blog about your experience at a fundraising event, take part in a fun run or even just promote the charity through your blog and social media – even a single tweet can make a difference!

We don’t have to make big changes, but the changes we make can make a huge difference. It doesn’t hurt to try, right?

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Things To Do When You Hit A Block

I know I cannot be alone in suffering from regular bouts of the dreaded ‘block’. Whether it be writer’s, artist’s or just a general creative block, its the worst feeling when there’s just nothing going on in your head, or at least nothing that will translate into anything you’re happy with.

Know the feeling? Next time, why not try a few of these..

Take a step back and clear your head

A watched pot never boils and a blank page doesn’t fill itself.

Don’t force anything

There’s nothing worse than trying to force results. I look back at blog posts and I can spot the ones that I bashed out just because I felt I had to write something, and I’m not entirely proud of them.

Do something silly

Just for a moment, stop taking it all so seriously. Write a funny limerick or doodle something stupid, create something crazy just for the sake of it (but like I said, don’t force it) – just doing something can start getting those cogs turning again.

Take a proper break

If you can, totally walk away from what you’re supposed to be doing; take an hour, a day, a week even. You won’t find the cure instantly, but not being so in the zone for even a little bit of time can do wonders.

Remind yourself why you love what you do

Just take a few moments to list some of the things that make you love doing whatever it is that you do, look back at some of your favourite pieces of work or read nice feedback you’ve been given by others – take a minute to actually feel proud of yourself!

Know that this will pass

At the end of the day, remember that this is just a block. Whether any of these steps help you or not, they eventually go away anyway and you’ll come back fighting, so don’t fret!

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Things That Are Worth Paying For as a Blogger

While we may make a little bit of money from sponsored posts, advert space and affiliate links, for the majority of bloggers, a blog is a labour of love, and I know that I for one definitely don’t make as much money out of blogging as I put into it.

As a result of this, over the years I’ve learnt all the classic money-saving tips for blogging: hitting up Primark and Asda for blog props rather than Zara Home, robbing B&Q for wallpaper samples to use as backdrops for photos and finding as many high street dupes for our favourite beauty products as possible. The list goes on.

I’m a firm believer that you don’t need to pour money into your blog to make it successful, but with that said, there are a few things that I am more than happy to pay out for in order to keep my blog running as smoothly as possible.

A domain

Whether you’re self-hosted or not, buying your own domain as opposed to being a .blogspot or .wordpress address is 100% worth it. I pay about Β£18 a year for mine, and not only does it help my blog look more professional, it all counts towards that all important (though also thoroughly pointless in my eyes) DA score.

Buffer Awesome Plan

I’ve been with Buffer since I started scheduling tweets, but there are a whole bunch of other sites available. When I first started out I stuck to the free plan, meaning I could schedule 10 tweets in advance at a time. Now I schedule 5 tweets a day, so it doesn’t take a genius to work out that I could only ever schedule two days at a time, which was a nightmare when half the time I would forget, or if I was away I’d face days of no tweets at all, so before my trip to Florida back in February I decided to upgrade so that I could schedule the whole two weeks I was going to be away, and since then I’d never go back. Its $10 a month, which depending on exchange rate is Β£7-8, but it makes me so much happier knowing at the start of each week that I’m all set until Sunday night, when I’ll top them up again.

ASOS Premier

I’ve been paying for Asos Premier for 3 years now, and trust me its worth it. Β£9.95 for the year to get free next day delivery on all orders, meaning I never have to worry about knowing if my items are gonna show up on time. Its kinda like Amazon Prime for my wardrobe, and yes I did once just order a pair of gloves for Β£5 two days before going to France because I knew they’d get to me on time and I couldn’t be bothered to schlep into town to dig through Primark for a pair.. PS. If you ever return and item for an exchange, the replacement item is also sent next day.

Upgrading your iCloud storage

If you’re forever snapping away for those all too Instagram-worthy shots, paying to upgrade your iCloud storage so you never run out of space on your phone is a lifesaver! I think I pay 99p a month and not once I have I had the dreaded ‘your storage is almost full’ pop up. In fact, I have photos back to December 2015 on my phone and I’m at no risk of running out of room any time soon.

Do you have any services that you swear by?

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Would anyone miss me?

I’ve always been a firm believer that numbers aren’t everything when it comes to blogging. I write because I want to write, and only write about what I want to write about, and that’s how it always has been and always will be.

The last year has been incredible for my blog. I’ve seen such massive growth since I started almost 4 years ago, and the start of this year brought even more; more content, more quality, more readers. I was riding high and smashing record after record, growing not just in terms of my blog stats but also in my confidence. Then June happened.

As my life outside of blogging changed, I was struggling to keep up. I felt under pressure to produce new posts, and I felt myself slipping into a less prepared and more haphazard version of myself. I was banging out posts the night before, or even on the day, and reusing photos because I hadn’t had the time to take new ones. If I’m honest, I wasn’t proud. I decided to step away from my blog and take a break, but with that came the inevitable guilt; the feeling of failure.

I pushed myself back into blogging after just a week away from the keyboard. In all fairness, I felt at the time that I’d given myself enough of a break, and threw myself back into 5-6 posts a week, but while I went back in on a high, this last week has seen another low.

Despite feeling more on top of my life and having fresh new content that I was proud of, and was working ahead on my schedule, the numbers just weren’t racking up like they used to. I feel crushed. While I write because it’s what I love to do, I feel like a chef who’s cooked a beautiful meal but everyone’s already full. It feels wasted. It’s not that I don’t feel appreciated, it’s just that I feel that I’m not entertaining anyone anymore, and ultimately that’s what I want my blog to be doing; making people happy, inspiring people, or just giving them something to read on the train home from work.

I don’t know if I could ever bring myself to give up this blog – I’ve worked long and hard to make it what it is, and I am still seeing some small progression, but I can’t help but think: would anyone notice if I wasn’t here?

I hate being a negative ninny, especially on here, but I just needed to vent. If you have any thoughts or have ever felt similar, I’d love to hear from you.

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Its Okay to Have an Instagram Life

Everyone knows there’s two sides to life: the life you actually live, and the life you share on Instagram. One is polished, with perfect lighting and edited to highlight the best bits, and the other is all the messy stuff in between. We all know which is which.

People spend a lot of time joking about things being ‘Instagram-worthy’ or having an ‘Instagram life’, but life isn’t always Instagram-perfect, and that’s more than just common knowledge; its fact. Even if you don’t have a carefully tailored theme, you still choose to share exactly what you want on your profile, and let’s face it, has anyone seen someone post a photo of them doing laundry or 8 hours into a Netflix binge.

And d’you know what? That’s ok.

There’s nothing wrong with cultivating a perfect Instagram feed. We all know that no one’s life is perfect, but its nice a small outlet where you can put together all the pretty and happy moments of life. Now I’m not talking about being false – especially with all the recent blogger photoshop drama – I just think its part of our nature to show only the good bits, and I don’t think there’s any problem with that. Its an outlet, not a documentary.

Putting together my Instagram feed gives me so much happiness. Sure, it comes with the annoyance of the constant follow/unfollowing and the struggle with growth, but I would still say its my favourite social media platform because I’m a visual person and I love taking photos and posting them to Instagram. I love finding Instagrammable spots, or putting together cute shots just for the purpose of posting. It makes me happy, and whether its all entirely accurate to how my life actually looks, ultimately happiness is the goal, right?

On the flipside, I think I’m probably the most honest when it comes to Instagram stories. Sure, I’ll put the photos that I want on there, but recently I’ve also been using it as a way of sharing my venting my feelings through chatty Insta-stories, and I love seeing other people doing the same.

I’ve learnt over the years to not compare myself to the lives that I see on Instagram for this very reason; I know that the life I put on Instagram doesn’t reflect, so I don’t expect everyone else’s to. I just hope everyone is happy.

My life might not be totally together but at least my Instagram feed is cute.

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