What Come Next?

Yes this is the second blog post in the last few months where I’ve taken the title from a Hamilton song and yes it was intentional but it also does have a lot of bearing for this post so there.

How many times in the last year or so have I said that I’m going to get back on tracker properly with my blog? I mean I could go back and count but no one actually needs to know that figure; it’s a lot.

I feel an incredible sense of attachment to my blog, but I just haven’t felt the urge to write at all lately. Every now and then my blogging brain kicks in and I mentally draft blog posts in my head, and I think about putting my thoughts onto the metaphorical paper that is the internet, but when push comes to shove I’ve just not been bothered to do it.

So I don’t know exactly what to do.

This blog has been with me through the most important time of my life, which is probably why I feel such a sense of connection to it, but the fact of the matter is that my life is very different now, and I do struggle to find the time, or if I do find the time, I struggle to find the want. The blogging world is changing a lot, and maybe I just haven’t been able to keep up. Maybe this blog doesn’t fit into my new and different life.

I can tell you for a fact that my blog won’t go anywhere. If nothing else, it will hang around on the internet for people to stumble across when searching for some of the strange things that my analytics tell me brings people to my site. But will I keep posting? I want to, sure. I do have a big feeling of want in my to keep things going, and I think there’s definitely still a part of my brain that’s dedicated to it, but the honest truth is that I don’t know if I can, and all I’ve done in the last year is build myself up to then only end up disappointing myself, and there’s just no fun in that.

I guess the purpose of this post is to clear my head of some of the negative, in the hopes that positive stuff will fill it up. Side note: man it does feel good to sit and type out a whole blog post without stopping, maybe the reason I’ve not been so dedicated is because I forgot what this buzz was like? I’ve distracted myself.

Anyway, I’m hopeful.

Has Blogging Changed?

 

Having just returned from my accidental blogging break, but more importantly having felt slightly detached from blogging for the best part of a year now, as I have been starting my attempt to rediscover my blogging ability, I can’t help but notice that there are many things in the blogging world that seem to be different to how they were a year or so ago.

I mean, of course there is always going to be change. We live in a world where technology changes and improves on an almost daily basis, so of course the blogosphere will be reacting and evolving with the ever-changing environment, but there are a lot of things that haven’t evolved, but seem to instead have become extinct.

You see, while I may have slipped from posting on my blog, I definitely have not been away from Twitter, which I would say is my main source of interaction with the blogging world, and the majority of the people I follow on Twitter are bloggers or linked to the blogging world. I would probably also go as far as to say that Twitter is the main site of blogger interaction, would you agree?

Twitter brought my blog out of the depths of the internet and into the view of so many of my readers – I was super late to the Twitter game and started this blog over a year before I actually got Twitter. It is one of my biggest sources of traffic, and I have always taken advantage of that fact by being as active as I could on Twitter. I used to try and schedule 4-5 tweets a day to share new and older blog posts, tagging as many retweet accounts as I could and hoping that I would get those shares, and I was not alone. My Twitter feed used to be full of scheduled tweets (sometimes the same ones EVERY DAY..) but now as I scroll through I feel like I’m seeing fewer and fewer of them. I mean sure, this could be due to the ever-changing Twitter algorithm, or the fact that I’m following a more diverse range of accounts, or, as I feel it might be, it could be that scheduling constant blog promotion tweets has become a thing of the past..

Why does this matter, I hear you ask. Well, it leaves me confused as to what is acceptable for me now as I re-enter the blogging world – not that I truly left in the first place but still. If I go back to my old, 5 posts a day ways, will I be the minority, or worse still, will I be considered annoying?

Also on the subject of Twitter, where did all the blogging chats go?! I remember a time where everyone who was anyone was present for as many Twitter chats as they could possibly manage; I myself would be at my laptop with 3-4 tabs open so I could keep up with the sometimes hundreds of people weighing in on these chats and it was insane but it felt FAB. The term ‘blogging community’ has been somewhat tarnished of late so I don’t really like to use it, but this truly felt like just that – a proper community of people all wanting to talk, all wanting to be friends, all wanting to feel like part of something. I worry now that everyone is too busy trying to become better than others that they’ve forgotten that blogging used to be something that so many of us turned to because we wanted a way to express ourselves and the community made us feel like we weren’t alone.

This has become a bit of a ramble, so I’ll wrap it up. I guess I just need to feel my way around for a while and find my own blogging way again. (But if anyone wants to clue me in on current etiquette, hit me up)

Twitter / Bloglovin / Instagram

‘Where Have You Been?’ Uh, France.. and other places

If anyone out there is still with me after all this time, then hey. Also, I hope there are a couple of Hamilton fans out there that appreciate the title of this post.

Six weeks. This has been the longest semi-accidental blogging break I’ve ever had, and I call it accidental because I didn’t really intend to take all of this time away, but the fact is there has just been a whole lot going on and in all this time I haven’t had the time, motivation or inspiration really to be writing 4/5 posts a week. I’m not going to apologise for this – I doubt anyone cares that much anyway. I call it semi-accidental because I did realise this a few weeks back, but I decided I’d wait for a new month, clean slate, fresh start etc, and for me there’s nothing more satisfying than a month that starts on a Monday.

So I’m back. Is this an April Fool? Who knows, we’ll see if I can actually keep it up this time, y’know, after I’ve been saying for the best part of the last year that I would get back on top of blogging and failed every single time I tried, but I think I’ve got a good feeling about this one. Blogging certainly doesn’t hold the same place in my life that it used to, but I still think its a pretty big part of who I am and I’m not ready to let go of that just yet.

All jokes in the title of this post aside, since the last time I touched base on the blog, I have actually been to France, and by that I mean Disneyland Paris. I’ve also had my best friends come to stay at my house for a weekend for the first time since we moved in, I’ve been on a little staycation in Kent with my family and Matthew and I went on a weekend trip to Berlin a week ago, so I have been all over the place really, and even when I haven’t been moving around, I haven’t exactly had time to stop. My business has truly taken over my life, but its been super exciting and I’ve spent the last two weeks working on my very own shop website, which launched on Friday.

Time to relax now? Well, I’m pretty excited to say that next week I’m headed for Disneyland! I don’t yet know if I’ll be live-blogging or will post trip reports once I’m home – I’m trying pretty hard to live in the moment right now – but I’ll definitely be sharing everything that will be happening on this trip, including my first ever Dapper Day! It does mean that this week I might do a little ‘pack with me’ type post showing you some of the outfits and park essentials I’ll be taking with me, but honestly I’m just becoming super overwhelmed with excitement as its been almost 2 years since I was last in Disneyland, which seems insane to me.

What else? To be honest, I’m not too sure if I’ve missed anything out – I know this post has been kinda super rambly – but the long and short of it is that I’m still here, and hopefully I’m back for good this time *crosses fingers*

TTFN

Twitter / Bloglovin / Instagram

Hi, yes, I do care about my Instagram followers thanks

I know I’ve written a similar post to this in the past, but in light of the recent Instagram ‘glitch’, and that my opinion on this now comes from a slightly different standpoint, I thought I would come out and say this again.

Yes, I know that social media is just that – a website or an app – and followers ‘shouldn’t matter’, but I’m gonna be straight with y’all here: they do to me.

You see, in the last 9 months or so, my social media pages have become less about me personally, and more about my small business. I took my Etsy shop full time back in July after leaving my accounting job to relocate, and it’s been absolutely wonderful. It’s always been my dream to be self-employed, and being able to do something creative and to my own rules to boot, I’ve loved every second*

*Except, ironically, the accounting.

It’s also no secret that the way that people are swayed by trends and products now is mainly through social media. Brands now focus a lot more on social media marketing, full-time bloggers and influencers have become a legitimate thing and I’m honestly just so grateful that I had a blogging background when I decided to start my shop as it meant I knew all of this from the start, and so my Instagram page has become less about my blog and life, and more about my business, which I am totally cool with.

BUT this does change the pressures on it. Yes I am still very much me on Instagram, and I still use it as a social outlet, but probably 80% of what I consciously do on Instagram now is promote my business. The more I grow, the more people see my creations, the more people become potential customers, and as a small business this is SUPER important.

During the Instagram glitch, I lost almost 200 followers. No big deal, some might say, right? So I’ll just have to wait a bit longer until I hit my next follower milestone, that’s not the end of the world? You might think that and honestly I’m not offended if you do, but from my perspective, that’s 200 potential customers lost. That’s 200 people who may not have seen that I released a new product yesterday. That could be the difference between me being able to pay my mortgage this month or not.

My business aside, there are so many full-time bloggers and influencers out there who could lose out on work if they lost their followers. I may have only lost 200 followers but I know of others who lost thousands. That could be the difference between working with a particular brand or not.

I know this might all be sounding a little dramatic, but I just want to reduce the stigma around people being upset about losing followers, or even just not being able to gain them. We all know how hard it can be to gain followers on Instagram these days, so even if you’re not reliant on your follower count for your income, you’ve probably still worked pretty hard to get to where you are with it, right? Just be mindful about slamming people for something that might be important to them, even if it’s not important to you.

Twitter / Bloglovin / Instagram

Things I’m Doing to Love Instagram Right Now

You know, it’s really starting to feel super cliche when I complain about Instagram; it’s just not what it used to be.

On the flip side though, I do have to think that back when our feeds were chronological and the dreaded algorithm didn’t really exist, I didn’t have the following that I do now, so truthfully I can never really compare engagement, and maybe even I wouldn’t have my 5000+ followers now if not for the changes. Who knows, right?

Despite all this, I honestly do still love Instagram. It’s my favourite social media platform because I feel it’s where I can be the most creative, and it’s gone from a place where I post occasional life and holiday photos and promote my blog, to all of this plus being the primary place where I promote my business and a place where I’ve made a lot of really good friends.

Over the last few weeks I’ve made a couple of changes in how I approach Instagram, and honestly they’ve all really boosted my positivity around the platform, and have also possibly contributed to an increase in engagement for me as well!

Getting chatty

I see so many rumours and theories flying around about what helps boost posts and I really don’t know where they come from or if they’re true, but supposedly comments really help. Whether this is urban legend or not, I’m actively making sure that if I scroll past a photo and have a thought about it eg ‘ooh I’d love to go to this place’ or ‘wow I need those shorts’, I put that thought into writing. If nothing else, I know how much I love getting comments so if all I’ve really done is given someone a little internal ‘yay’ then it’s a success in my eyes.

Now I don’t know if this is coincidental, or possibly that other people are having the same thoughts as me, but I have noticed since doing this that I am getting more comments and generally more likes, especially within the first few hours of posting, so I might be on to a winner. If nothing else though, I feel pretty good about it.

New editing software

I went from ‘what is this Lightroom thing that everyone’s banging on about?’ to ‘wow this is fantastic’ in approximately 2.5 seconds. Sure I still don’t fully understand it but I’m having fun winging my way through it! And yes, I guess it is just another additional step I’ve created for myself before being able to post to Instagram, but I really enjoy editing photos and I really love the results.

Planning ahead a little

I really take pride in my Instagram, so it does stress me out sometimes when I can’t find the perfect photo to post and sometimes that means I don’t post for days which makes me sad. I know this might sound ridiculous to a lot of people, but like I said earlier it’s one of my biggest creative outlets so while it may just be Instagram, it’s kinda like an artistic wanting to paint but not having any brushes. You get me?

Anyway, I’m tackling this head on with my handy sidekick, the app UNUM, which I’ve had for about a year now. I don’t religiously plan my posts, but I do like to know what I’m doing for the next day or two, with maybe a couple of blank spaces for ‘of the moment’ inspiration, just like I do with my blog posts, and it means I’ve always got something to fall back on if inspiration is lacking a little.

Staggering photos

I came back from my recent Disney trip with, no joke, THOUSANDS of photos. I posted maybe 2-3 photos a day while I was out there, but especially being on the cruise for a few days with no WiFi, I still have so many photos that haven’t seen the light of Instagram yet. Sure, I could post them all back to back, but I sometimes worry people will get sick of them and I also like to keep some content back to fill the gaps between trips (not that I’ve really got many gaps this year if all goes to plan!), so I spread them out between current photos for variety.

Not getting too hung up on numbers

No one likes not being liked, I get that, but Instagram is a weird and wonderful place full of bitchy politics and bots, and I’m just learning to accept that. Fact is, if you’ve seen your follower count drop overnight, it’s more likely to be courtesy of bots dropping out or accounts being deleted or deactivated that it is that many people making the conscious decision to take you off their feed. Hakuna matata.

As for people playing the follow/unfollow game, I just think that they must be having a really miserable time on Instagram if they feel the need to do that all the time, so they can do them and I’ll just be over here having a fabulous time because it’s so much easier than stressing over it.

At the end of the day, I know its just an app, but its also an app that is very important to me for a lot of reasons, so its so much easier to enjoy what I’m doing on there, don’t you think?

Twitter / Bloglovin / Instagram

My 2019 Resolutions and Goals

The clock struck midnight, and just like that all the pumpkins in the world turned into carriages as we all become shiny new versions of ourselves in some weird reverse Cinderella story.

Ok, so that sounds a little weird, but honestly I do love a new year. It always brings so much hope and excitement for a bright new future, a new page to our life stories. And while the world is often divided between those who make resolutions and those who make fun of those who make resolutions, I am firmly the former. Even if they don’t stick for the whole of the year, the intentions are always good and I always love believing that I can do it.

So here they are, a bunch of things I hope to achieve in the coming 365 days, and even if they don’t, I’m gonna have a blast trying to make them happen:

Personal Resolutions

  • Choose happiness always – In the last few weeks I’ve been working on my happiness, and I think I’m going to get the hang of it this year, so stay tuned
  • Get my body confidence back – as I mentioned in yesterday’s post, I left my body confidence back in 2017 which made 2018 a little bit sucky. I’m not about sucky in 2019, so I’m just gonna skip past the last year and work on getting it back.
  • Wake up earlier – I had this one last year as well, and it worked for the most part, but with the addition of a puppy to our household, mornings have become slightly more about cuddles in bed with Finn..
  • Enjoy cooking and baking again – I’ve always loved making food, but recently its become more of a necessary chore than something I’ve enjoyed doing, so I’m gonna get back on Pinterest and find some amazing food I’m excited to make again
  • Watch more movies and read more books – y’know, all the ones I keep saying I’ll watch/read and then never get round to or end up going back to ones I’ve seen/read before..

Fitness Goals

  • Complete the marathon – its the only one that I’ll be doing in my lifetime (I can already say that with some certainty) and by the end of next week it will be done, and then I can focus on the rest of my goals..
  • Get my 5K back below 30 minutes consistently – its been a little while since I’ve run a 5K in under 30 minutes as I’ve been fighting injuries and working towards other things, but once the marathon is done and dusted my focus will be back on shorter distances!
  • Reach 50 ParkRuns – considering I’ve been taking part in ParkRun for several years now, you’d think I would have hit this already, but I’m going into 2019 with a solid 30 runs under my belt, so let’s do this!
  • Set a new half marathon PB – nope, I’m not going to set myself a definitive target for this one, I just want to beat my current PB and even if that’s only by 10 seconds then its still a win for me.

Business Goals

  • Keep pushing my limits – this time last year I wrote in my 2018 resolutions that I wanted to learn to sew more things. Well, I did, and that’s exactly what turned my little side business into my full-time job, so let’s keep pushing.
  • Keep loving what I’m doing – being a full-time small business boss makes me so happy and I just can’t believe I get to do what I love every day, so I want to keep it that way!

Blog Goals

  • Make 2019 my best blogging year yet – last year I let my blog slip, and that was ok for my life at the time. I’m going to try and stay away from specific blog hope and targets, because I know that so many things can get in the way, but I just want to feel better about my blog and make it the fun outlet that I’ve always loved so much.
  • Reach 8K on Instagram – for 2018, I set myself the seemingly modest target of reaching 2500 from 1900, but with the algorithm as it is, that could have been impossible. I did, however, smash that, and I finished up 2018 just over 5000. This year, I’ve got my sights set a little higher but we’ll see how it goes..
  • More travel writing – Matthew wants to visit a new city every month in 2019, and I want to do more travel writing, so it was a match made in heaven, right?

Wow, when I sat down to write this I thought I’d only do a few for this year yet here we are 700 words later! I guess all I can say to that is that, cliche as it sounds, I’m so ready to make this year the best one ever. All the ingredients are there, I’ve just got to make something with them, and that’s exactly what I plan to do.

Happy 2019 everybody!

Twitter / Bloglovin / Instagram

2018: The Good, The Bad and The Ugly

It would seem that this end of December break from blogging has become somewhat of a regular occurrence, but honestly it does me a whole lot of good, and here I am, back and ready to take 2019 blogging by the metaphorical horns.

I’ve probably said this a hundred times this year, but 2018 has been a total whirlwind. Its been full of major highs and also some pretty sucky lows, and while I’m not normally one for looking back at the end of the year, there’s a lot to be said about the past 364 days.

The Good

Well, its been a year of BIG things. Matthew finally finished his pilot training and started flying, we bought a frickin’ HOUSE and we got the most beautiful puppy in the world. We visited San Francisco and spent a week living it up in the beautiful Aulani Resort in Hawaii, as well as becoming Disneyland Paris annual pass holders.

This year I also took the leap into self-employment, turning my small business into a full-time job which has been an absolute dream come true, I’ve managed to grow my Instagram more than I imagined would be possible and I’ve spent some of the best times with my closest friends.

The Bad

As I’ve mentioned several times throughout the year, blogging has taken a major back seat for the majority of 2018. I started of the year stronger than I ever have before, but life and many other things got in the way and although it wasn’t easy for me to admit, it was easier for me to let blogging go a little while I focused on the new things that had become more important.

There’s also been a whole lotta change that will take me a little bit of time to adjust to. I’ve moved so far away from my hometown and my family, and that’s still something that I need to work on getting used to, and there has been so much going on that we’ve hardly had time to stop and breathe, so there’s been a lot of feeling constantly overwhelmed.

The Ugly

2018 has also had some pretty sucky times. I’ve struggled a lot with body image, which after such a positive 2017 felt even harder than it could have. I haven’t always talked about it as much as I could have done, but its done a real number on my mental health, and breaking my ankle back in April only made things worse. Honestly, I’m fed up of feeling the way that I do, and I’m determined that 2019 will be the end of it.

I’ve also spent far too much time in 2018 comparing myself to others, so much so that I let an incredible achievement – being nominated for the 2018 UK Blog Awards – go practically unnoticed because I was so sure that compared to the other nominees, I stood so little a chance that I didn’t even think I should ask for people to vote for me.

The Future

I’ve decided that 2019 will be the good, the better and the best; no bad, no ugly, just happiness. I already know that its going to be so full of magic and love and friendship, so I just have to keep filling it with only good things and positive energy. Tomorrow I’m going to be sharing my New Years Resolutions and goals and these are just going to be the stepping stones that make 2019 the best year yet.

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