1000 Blog Posts Later

This is it, blog post #1000.

In reality, this blog post is no different to any other post I’ve written, but it does mark an incredible milestone in my blogging life. Honestly, there are not many things in my life that I have stuck with for this long.

This year has probably been the hardest year for me in terms of blogging. In previous years I have always maintained at least 5-6 blog posts a week, which I know is a pretty impressive achievement considering I’ve always done this along side working full time, but this year there has just been so many other distractions and changes in my life which have got in the way.

D’you know what? That’s ok. The things that have distracted me from blogging this year have been mainly wonderful. So much time has gone into buying and moving into our house, but as the the biggest adventure of my life to date, of course it was going to take priority over blogging, and the great thing about it is that I now have a whole load of new content ideas because of it.

A huge portion of my spare time this year has also gone into my Etsy store. At the start of the year, I set myself a little target of what I wanted to make from my store each month, and when in January I surpassed it within the first week, I knew that something good was happening, and things just got better and better. Well, long story short, now we’ve moved, my Etsy store is now my full time job, along with my other small businesses. In my wildest dreams I did not think I’d be doing this back at the start of the year, but we’re only just a week into August and I’ve already covered my mortgage payment, which makes me so frickin’ proud. It also means that I’m not squeezing custom orders into my evenings and weekends, so hello more time for blogging again!

So 1000 posts later, I’m still here, and I’m still loving this little corner of the internet of mine. In October, Lottie Does will be 5 years old, and of course I’ll be celebrating big time then, but this post is a little mini celebration for me!

Twitter / Bloglovin / Instagram

How Relateable Do Bloggers Actually Have To Be?

I’ve been thinking a lot about bloggers and relate-ability lately. Let’s face it, the aim of the game for most bloggers is to create content that people are going to want to read, right? But do readers always want to see something that they can relate to?

I recently read a really interesting post by Hannah from The Giraffe’s Life about why Zoella is considered by many to be unrelateable, and I agreed with many of the points put forward; personally I’ve never really been that bothered by Zoella anyway. But regardless of whether or not her millions of fans actually relate to her life of million pound mansions, jetting off to 5 star hotels and being on the cover of every magazine under the sun, they still want to watch her videos and read her posts, which got me thinking about whether or not bloggers do actually need to be relateable?

I don’t know about anyone else, but I kinda like reading about things that I would never actually be able to do myself. Clickbait-y titles like ‘I spent £700 in Primark’ are intriguing, and I can’t help but want to see what on earth was purchased to rack up that receipt total.

From my own stats, I know that my most popular posts are my holiday diaries, especially when I’m in Disney parks, and while I’d love to live in a world where being in Disney parks is considered everyday, I know that it isn’t.

And yes, on the flipside I do love a high end makeup dupe, a budget city break and quick, easy recipe posts, but I’m also super nosey and would love to see what it was like at the latest Spectrum release party, because it’s something that I’d never get to experience myself.

I think also that there’s a huge difference between the relate-ability of a blogger and the relate-ability of their content. A relateable blogger could do the most unrelateable activities, and I’d still read what crazy stuff they’d be up to, but an unrelateable blogger could buy five things under £5 from Primark and I’d have that little meh feeling when I read it, so I guess in that respect relate-ability is kinda important.

These are just my own personal musings on the subject, I’d love to hear your thoughts so drop me a comment!

Twitter / Bloglovin / Instagram

Another Mid Year Review

And just like that, half of 2018 has been and gone.. What?

This has honestly been the craziest year of my life, the last few months especially, and I’ve definitely been swept up in all of the goings on which has probably caused the year to fly by so much, but I can quite confidently say that its been a great year so far.

How am I doing with my blog targets?

  • Bloglovin followers – 1500 – I must admit that I have been super rubbish with Bloglovin lately, so I definitely haven’t seen the same growth that I achieved last year, but I’m on 1179 right now, and I think if I kick myself back into gear for the next 6 months, this is still reachable!
  • Twitter followers – 3500 – I can’t remember what I was on at the start of the year, but I’m just over 3200 at the moment so I feel like this is going to be doable!
  • Instagram followers – 2500 – after a measly 2017 where I didn’t hit my target at all, I feel like I have really smashed Instagram this year, and now have over 3300 followers, having only hit 2000 sometime in January! I’m setting myself a new possible target of 4000 for before the year is out, but I’m not putting too much pressure on myself because we all know what it can be like!
  • Page views – 100,000 – well I’m just coming up to 85,000 now, so this is definitely in sight so long as I manage to keep up my content!

I’ve felt myself slip a lot with my blog this year, which I’ve hated but its been somewhat necessary with everything that’s gone on this year. I’ve been posting a lot less than I have done over previous years, but what is good is that I’ve learnt that this is totally ok.

There’s a lot more exciting things coming to the blog over the rest of the year, including lots more house related posts, my 1000th blog post will be coming in July, and in October my blog turns 5, so stay tuned!

Resolutions, goals and life

Looking back on my 2018 resolutions post, I feel quite happy in knowing that I’ve achieved a lot of these things. Despite occasional dips, I’ve been looking after myself a lot better and putting myself out there more, and I’ve surrounded myself with wonderful people who make me so happy. My love of photography has definitely come back, and my sewing has gone to new levels I couldn’t even have imagined back in January.

The only thing that’s really hit a major roadblock this year has been my marathon training, after breaking my ankle back in April, but I’m seeing definite improvements in physiotherapy, and I’ve even taken part in my first fun run since the accident recently, which makes me confident that I’ll be back out there very soon, and if you want to sponsor me for my marathon, you can do that here!

I’ve learned a lot in the last few months about so many things, but the rest of the year will be focusing on putting so many of these things into practice. My whole life is changing as of the end of the week when I officially become a Northerner, and I’m seeing this as an amazing opportunity to create and live my best life and become even happier.

I hope 2018 is treating everyone well, and the rest of it only gets better!

Twitter / Bloglovin / Instagram

Hashtags I Am Loving Right Now

In a world where algorithms are trying their hardest to take the joy out of Instagram, I’m trying my hardest to keep finding the fun.

Hashtags are not only a way of giving your posts a helping hand at being seen, but they’re also a great way of exploring posts from other people who you might not otherwise see, or discovering new accounts to follow, and recently I’ve been making an effort to not only diversify the tags that I’m using, but also to explore said hashtags and find new posts and people to add to my feed.

Here are a bunch of my favourites right now:

#shinyhappybloggers

The latest hashtag brought out by the wonderful Jemma from Dorkface, #shinyhappybloggers has been one of my favourites to use since it was announced. As someone who tends to post bright and colourful content on my Instagram, sometimes the traditional #lbloggers or #bbloggers hashtags can be a little too full of carefully curated flatlays on white backgrounds and I feel like I’m sticking out like a sore thumb, so this hashtag feels way more me.

#chattycaptioncommunity

I used to feel like I had to keep my captions short and sweet, but I actually love reading (and writing) long captions on some of my posts, and now I’ve got a whole hashtag of likeminded people!

#candyminimal

As a lot of my posts fit the bright/pastel template, this is one of the latest hashtags I’ve been adding to some of my posts, but I’ve also been loving scrolling through this to discover other bright and beautiful posts and accounts!

#discoverunder5k and #discoverunder10k

Descriptions kinda speak for themselves, but this is my favourite for scrolling through at the moment to find new pages and help boost the followings of smaller accounts, and as I technically fit into both brackets I’ve been using both of them quite regularly on my posts

#myyellowlife

At the start of this year I kept a pretty good yellow theme going on my page, and while this hashtag already existed but with relatively few posts, I sorta decided to champion it a little. I’ve not got the yellow theme so much now, but I love keeping yellow, my favourite colour, alive in as many posts as I can because it makes me so happy, and all of those posts get this tag.

#styledbymagic

As most of my outfit posts are at least 50% Disney related, this is the perfect hashtag for them, plus a great tag to scroll when I’m looking for outfit inspiration!

Do you have any favourite hashtags right now?

Twitter / Bloglovin / Instagram

Can We Stop Pretending That We Don’t Care About Exposure?

As a blogger, there’s nothing worse than opening a PR email and thinking it all sounds pretty fab, only to find the classic excuse of having no budget but offering exposure on social media. We read it, we sigh, we tweet something about exposure not paying the bills and we either kindly (or not so kindly) decline the offer, or just ignore the email altogether.

Now I fully agree with this stance on exposure being considered a form of payment, especially when I think about the amount of time that goes into writing, editing and taking photos for a blog post, but I’ve been thinking a little bit about exposure, and how despite bloggers as a whole complaining about it when brands offer it, we also crave the exposure that brands can give us.

I mean, if you’ve put together a killer outfit, nailed your hairstyle and spent half a day trying to get that perfect Instagram shot, are you trying to tell me that you’re not gonna be tagging every single thing you’re wearing down to your setting spray? Sure, we do this a little to avoid the inevitable ‘ooh where’s this from?’ (even though at least half of the comments will still be asking that exact question), but I know that I for one would be lying if I wasn’t hoping that said photo will be spotted by at least one of the tagged brands. I also have no shame in saying that there’s a little part of me praying that I might get a regram, not only for the great feeling of knowing that they loved my post so much, but also because hey I might gain a bunch of followers from it.

So why do we pretend that we don’t care about social media sharing? We all need exposure – I mean, it literally means to be put in the light – but it seems to have become a dirty word in the blogging dictionary. Yes it’s an unacceptable form of payment for hours of work, but it does still offer a lot to a bunch of people who make their side hustle (or even full time hustle) from putting ourselves online to be seen..

Twitter / Bloglovin / Instagram

Are Instagram Pods Really The Answer?

Just to prefix this post, I have absolutely no qualms with Instagram pods or people who use them, these are just my musings!

The humble Instagram pod; a supposed way of boosting engagement on the platform that we all want to love and love to hate at the same time.

For anyone who isn’t familiar with the term, an Instagram pod is simply a group chat within Instagram DMs, where friends/fellow bloggers/like-minded people chat and share their latest posts, with the idea being that other members of the group will then head on over to the post to like and comment to give the image a better engagement than it might of done otherwise, for example if thanks to Instagram’s notorious algorithm meant that it wouldn’t have otherwise shown up on their feed. Sometimes people in these pods will also do shout-outs for the other accounts in the group on their Stories in order to help each other out with followers.

When it first became a thing, there wasn’t a day when I didn’t scroll through Twitter without seeing a good few weeks of people asking if anyone wanted to join their pod, or people asking if anyone had room in their pod for them, and of course naturally it led to a little bit of drama as well, with some people being told they couldn’t join certain pods, or people complaining about pods etc. Twitter loves a bit of drama.

I myself have never been part of an Instagram pod, so I can’t really vouch for their effectiveness, but as an outside-grammer, it can become quite easy to spot a pod if you pay attention. Sure, you’ll always see friends supporting each other as much as they can, but you start to notice the same people cropping up in the comment section of every post by the same group of people. Now I love my friends and will always try to like every single one of their posts, but I wouldn’t comment on everything and I certainly wouldn’t expect them to do the same for me.

Yes, statistically the posts seem to have a higher engagement, but as a person who likes to look a little beyond just the photo, it all looks a little inorganic, especially when the comments just say things like ‘oh this is a great photo’ or ‘you look fab’. The same goes for story shout-outs. Sure, I do shout-outs for my favourite accounts, and often I might feature the same people, but I do try to mix it up every time, however when the same group of people only seem to share each other on a weekly basis, it just screams pod to me and I can’t help but feel like its a bit forced, plus if I didn’t follow those accounts the first 10 times you mentioned them, chances are I won’t follow them after the next 10..

Now these are just my own observations, and I really don’t mean any shade to anyone who does use pods, especially if they’ve worked really well for you (if they have, I’d love to hear your experiences so do drop me a comment!), I’m just curious to know if anyone else feels similarly, and given that they seem to be talked about a whole lot less than they used to, are Instagram pods fading out again?

Twitter / Bloglovin / Instagram

Things I’ve Learned While Trying To Beat The Algorithm

Instagram; it makes us all sigh just a little bit, right?

Don’t get me wrong, I love Instagram. It was the first social media platform I used to promote my blog, and you know what they say, a picture’s worth a thousand words, so its an amazing place to express yourself, but since the introduction of the infamous ‘algorithm’, interaction and growth has been pretty sucky, and everyone and their mums have been theorising various ways in which to take back the platform for the greater good.

I am, of course, one of these people. Having failed to reach my end of the year goal for 2017, I’m determined to do it this year, and I’ve already written about my plan to make this my year on Instagram, now we’re a few months in, I’ve already learned a few things along the way.

People actually like seeing me in photos

I used to avoid photos of myself like the plague – they never seemed to get even a fraction of the likes that any of my other photos did – opting instead for photos of clothes hanging up or as flatlays, but it turns out that people actually like little old me in photos! My outfit photos lately have been super popular, so I guess you’ll be seeing more of me on the ‘gram.

Timing isn’t always everything

I use UNUM to plan my Instagram feed, and even on the free version of the app you do get some insights, one of which being you’re supposed best time to post based on previous likes and comments. Well, I gave it a go, and I can quite safely say that its totally hit and miss. Sure, certain times of day are always going to be better than others – I tend to post on my lunch break at work, and that seems to work for me, probably cos that’s when most people are checking their phone anyway, but even when I followed what the stats told me to a tee, it didn’t guarantee the post would be super successful.

Posting what I love makes me so much happier with my feed

Since the new year kicked off, I’ve been concentrating more on making my feed something that I love to look at, even if no one else did. Yellow is my favourite colour, and integrating it into my feed has made me super happy. I’ve also been using a cute textured throw blanket as a backdrop for product photos to mix things up a little and not shying away from my Disney side so that every aspect of my personality and life shine through in my photos.

Support and shoutouts are super important

If I’m being totally honest, I think the biggest factor in the growth of my following so far this year is thanks to supporting other accounts and other people doing shoutouts for me. I did a Twitter request for people to send me their Instagram links so I could go on a follow spree, and I followed about 100 accounts, most of which returned the favour (although I didn’t expect or ask them to), and I’ve also gained a lot of followers when other bloggers and accounts have included me in shoutouts on their stories, which I am so grateful for. Asking for help, especially when you’re about to hit a milestone, is nothing to be frightened of, and people who support you are always happy to help!

Quality over quantity

I’ve been working so hard on improving the quality of my photos this year. Rather than just taking photos on my phone, I’ve been utilising the 50mm macro lens on my Sony a5000 to take most of my photos and I’ve been so happy with the photos I’ve been taking, and I think I’ve definitely been seeing an increase in likes on *most* of my photos since then. I say most because, y’know, the algorithm is still against us all..

So I’m quite proud to say I’ve gained about 300 followers this year, give or take a bunch of follow/unfollowers (ugh), and I’m really hoping I’ll reach my 2018 goal fairly soon, but we’ll see! If you want to join me over on the gram, you can follow me @lottiedoesdisney!

Twitter / Bloglovin / Instagram