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

What’s Been Distracting Me From Blogging

You may have noticed, or you may not have done, but over the last few weeks my mind has been far from blogging, and I’ve certainly noticed. I’ve always prided myself on consistently posting at least 4-5 times a week, and that just hasn’t been happening, simply due to the fact that my time and my brain power has been used up elsewhere.

Now its definitely not to say that it hasn’t all been bad, there’s been plenty of good stuff too, but some things have just taken over a little bit more than I had expected, and you know what they say, something’s gotta give..

House stuff

If you caught my week of daily blogging, you’ll know that a few weeks ago Matthew and I put down a holding fee on a new build house that’s due to be finished at the end of May, and from that moment onwards, there’s been a lot of excitement but also a lot of stress.. We’ve been having to do a lot of the boring stuff – sorting out the solicitors, going through mortgage and Help to Buy applications (which involved a 3 hour meeting with a financial adviser on a Friday night which was a little painful) and thinking a lot about money, but there’s also been a lot of decisions and planning which has been a mixture of stress and excitement.

Because we’re not moving locally, we want the move to be as smooth as possible so that we don’t have to make a whole bunch of trips back to Bournemouth, so we’ve probably spent at least a little bit of time every single day working out details. We’ve decided on most of our furniture (spoiler alert: my office is going to be the cutest thing ever), Matthew has already started sourcing things like internet and tv so we have an idea of budgeting as well, and I’m trying to start packing some things up that I won’t need in the next few months.

Creations

While blogging has always been my main creative outlet, my Etsy work has taken over recently and I’ve also got a bunch of custom orders on the go, so evenings and weekends have been dedicated to whizzing up anything from skirts and dresses to matching top and shorts sets. I’ve been making so many new things which has been really great, but it also means that I’ve been having to put a little bit more time into unfamiliar designs. You can see some of my latest makes here!

Migraines and more

I’m a fairly regular sufferer of migraines, and these last few weeks have been full of them. They’ve not been my worst, but I feel like I’ve basically had a continuous one for the last two weeks. Combine that with that time of the month and all the various stresses of life lately, I’ve been quite run down and have been struggling to motivate myself to do anything after getting home from work other than wanting to get into bed.

And its not just been my blog..

Sure, I think my blog has faced the brunt of this little slump, but I’ve been slacking in other aspects of my life too. I’ve not been keeping up with social media, especially Instagram and I’ve been forgetting to schedule tweets, not to mention my skincare routine going out the window and I haven’t put any makeup on in at least a week, if not two, and there was a whole week that I didn’t go to the gym once, but this is just a phase..

These kind of slumps happen, and its ok. I mean, they suck at the time, but they never last forever, and I’m hoping that I’m coming out of the other side of it now. The hardest part of the house buying process is almost over, and everything else is practically planned to a tee, I’m working my way through my Etsy orders nicely and I’m feeling my writers brain kicking back in, so I hope you guys haven’t been enjoying my somewhat silence too much, cos I’m coming back!

Twitter / Bloglovin / Instagram

A Week in the Life of Lottie – Saturday and Sunday

So Saturday was a pretty crazy day and due to my phone dying on the drive home from up north, and being too tired when I got in, I decided to combine the two days into one blog post!

Saturday was not in any way a normal day in my life, but I guess it might just be the biggest day in my life to date. You see, the real reason Matthew and I drove up to Cheshire on Friday night wasn’t just to visit his mum after her house move, but actually so that we could put down a reservation fee on a new build that we fell in love with a few weeks before. That’s right you guys.. WE’RE BUYING A HOUSE!

The house itself, being a new build, isn’t finished of course, but we’ve visited so many showhomes of the same property that we know that this is the one, and whilst we were at the development we did get to poke around a completed one that someone else has bought, just so that we could take some measurements and get some ideas for when our house is finished, and then we had to go through a lot of paperwork and sign a number of documents, but I won’t bore you with the nitty gritty because I foresee a lot of house-buying blog posts coming in the future! I am just so happy and excited, I can’t tell you..

Well after all that we were pretty hungry, so we went to the Chill Factor to have a Nando’s for lunch, because we figured the Trafford Centre one would be pretty busy – I’ve never been to Chill Factor before but it is SO COOL. After lunch, we did actually go to the Trafford Centre to pick up Mothers Day cards, I treated myself to some Lush goodies because I got a big Etsy payout this week, and then we went to DFS to look at sofas, although we got caught up in some post-match traffic around Old Trafford so that took a little bit of time to get to. We’ve actually had our sofa picked out for quite some time in the hope that we would be getting a house soon, but now we can actually say we have one, and had all the measurements we needed, it was working out the logistics of what style of the sofa would fit the space and where etc, but I think we’ve got it sorted now.

We then stopped off back at Matthew’s mum’s, where Matthew finally found his childhood Disney pin collection which he’s been looking for for ages, watched a little bit of Crufts and then drove back to Bournemouth!

Today, despite being super tired from Saturday’s antics, we were both awake just before 7am, but I didn’t get out of bed for at least 45 mins, then went and had a shower before my mum woke up and I gave her her Mothers Day present. As the sun was out, I took the opportunity to get some blog and Instagram photos taken, which I’m happy I did because the sun quickly disappeared behind a lot of cloud..

This morning I had a family friend coming round for a wedding cake consultation (oh yeah, do you guys know I’m a cake decorator sometimes too?), so I spent a bit of time playing around with some sketches and getting some inspiration from Pinterest before she arrived, and she was here for about 2 hours chatting cake stuff, wedding stuff and just having a general catch up because I haven’t seen her in about a year or so.

After she left, I spent some time doing general admin type stuff – writing up the weekly newsletter for the #HappiestFitbitClub, editing blog photos, doing some Etsy bits and packing up orders etc, before having some lunch and watching last night’s Saturday Night Takeaway.

My sister brought our cousins round early afternoon to help put together the Mothers Day afternoon tea we had planned – my job was to make the cupcakes – and the rest of the family came to ours at 4pm. Big family dinners are quite a common thing for us, and they tend to be fairly loud affairs with 13 of us round one dinner table! Once the extended family had left, we watched the only tv show that we still watch as a family since my sister moved out, Only Connect, and then my sister left too and Matthew and I watched Sherlock Holmes while I did a bit more Etsy work and some writing and we’re just gonna chill for the evening now.

This week has been pretty busy, but I hope you’ve enjoyed tagging along with me! Normal blog posts will resume from tomorrow!

Twitter / Bloglovin / Instagram