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.

Twitter / Bloglovin / Instagram

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?

Twitter / Bloglovin / Instagram

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!

Twitter / Bloglovin / Instagram

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?

Twitter / Bloglovin / Instagram

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.

Twitter / Bloglovin / Instagram

Dear New Bloggers

It’s pretty strange to think I’ve been at the blogging game for almost 4 years now, and that’s not including a few blogs I’ve had prior to this one!Very often I do still feel like a new-ish blogger, primarily because I was blogging for a good year or two before I joined Twitter and discovered the rest of the blogging community, but the fact is I have been at this for a little while, and so today I thought I’d share some advice for those who are just starting out.
You should not be analysing your stats straight away

I don’t actually remember ever looking at my blog views when I just started out – I’m not even sure I knew how. You have to remember that it is gonna take a little while before you see a real growth.

Be in it because you love it

The reason I never looked at my stats when I first started this blog is because it wasn’t the reason I was writing. If you don’t love writing, or whatever you write about, then blogging is never gonna make you truly happy.

Don’t expect brand work straight away

I see a lot of new bloggers complaining that they haven’t been approached my brands yet, or posting a million #prrequest tweets with no response, and even when you’re an established blogger, these opportunities may not always come up. I personally don’t work with many brands and I’m perfectly happy with that because I like writing about my own stuff, and when I am approached, I appreciate it so much more!

Set your standards

Don’t think that just because you’re new to the scene that you should sell yourself short. When I first started out I did so much work for free because I didn’t think I could ask for a budget, and I also accepted any opportunity without thinking about how well it actually suited my blog, which I would never do now.

Know the game

Do a bit of research about what you should and and shouldn’t be doing. I’m not saying you need to learn how to code or anything complicated, but find out about SEO, follow vs no-follow links and the general rules around sponsored content and disclaimers.

Get involved in the community

The blogging community is so lovely and so welcoming and supportive. Sure, the occasional drama happens, but for the most part you’ll meet the sweetest people, and I guarantee a good portion of your blog readers will be fellow bloggers.

Photography is important

They say a picture’s worth 1000 words, and there’s definitely an element of truth in that when it comes to blogging. Find your style, learn what works for you and have fun with your blog photography. Remember, a marble background doesn’t have to be your thing.

Bloglovin and Instagram can be nightmares

I would say these two platforms are by far the hardest to grow, and here are my top tips for each:

Your Bloglovin won’t grow unless you actually use Bloglovin yourself. Make the effort to follow others, read and like posts and frequently share your link, and you should see some movement.

Post on Instagram because you like it. I hardly ever use my Instagram to bring traffic to my blog, I just genuinely enjoy posting to Instagram, and I like it that way.

Appreciate your niche

Not every blog has to be a beauty blog or a fashion blog; your blog doesn’t even have to have one topic. I describe this blog as a lifestyle and travel blog, with a helping of fitness, fashion and Disney magic, and that doesn’t even cover everything that I write about. You do you.

If you’re ever in need for any more tips or advice for blogging, I would recommend you take some time to read through the blogs of Maria and Corinne, who have tonnes of great posts, but cheesy as it sounds, just have fun!

Twitter / Bloglovin / Instagram

My Mid-Year Review

Can someone tell me where the first half of this year has gone?! ITS JULY.

The last few months have been pretty mad for me for a number of reasons, but also incredible for a whole load more, and I’m pretty excited about more things that are happening in the coming months, so watch this space! Today, however, I thought I’d have a little look back over my blogging year so far..

Blog Highlights

  • Smashing my Bloglovin target for the year at the beginning of March
  • Starting a new fitness series which was so much fun to create and has had a great response
  • Working on the collaboration of DREAMS with the Disney Store
  • Hitting 50,000 page views
  • My DA finally went up in the last update!!

While I don’t know if I consider it to be a highlight, I also took my first break from blogging for over 18 months at the end of June. Despite seeing it as a bit of a bump in the road, I do think that it was good for me, and I feel refreshed and ready to take on the rest of the year and keep adding to this list of highlights!

2017 Target Update

I last reviewed my targets back in March, but how am I doing now? (All figures as of last night!)

  • Bloglovin followers
    • 2017 goal: 500
    • Current: 680 – I’m so happy with how much I’ve been able to grow my Bloglovin this year, and I’m secretly wishing that I might hit 1000 before the year is out, so watch this space!
  • Twitter followers
    • 2017 goal: 2500
    • Current: 2183 – I’ve gained just over 200 since March, so there’s a chance that if I keep that steady over the coming months that this might be possible, but who knows?
  • Instagram followers
    • 2017 goal: 2000
    • Current: 1624 – I think everyone’s feeling the same about Instagram followers, but its just so difficult to gain numbers quickly! Back in March I was at 1445, so I’m about 200 up from then, so again its not totally impossible but I’m also not putting too much hope on it with Instagram being so silly..
  • Page views
    • 2017 goal: 65,000
    • Current: 51,338 – I surpassed the 50,000 mark a little while back, and I’m pretty confident that I’ll hit this in the next few months!

What’s coming up?

There’s going to be a fair bit of change in my life over the next few months. I’m starting a different work pattern, where I’ll be working 12 hour days but as a result will have more days off in the week so I’ll have a whole load more time to dedicate to my blog and my small businesses, and I can’t wait for that. I’ll also be posting a lot more real-life stuff as I’m expecting some big changes in the next few months!

I’ve also got more trips coming up, so you can bet I’ll be blogging those, including my first ever Disney Cruise (eek!), RunDisney in Paris and Matthew and my first Disney trip together, so stay tuned!

How was 2017 been treating you?

Twitter / Bloglovin / Instagram