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.

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February Focus

I tell you what, if you ever want January to go quickly, go on holiday. I’ve never been so shocked to find that we’re at the end of the month.

February is always a decent month in my eyes. Its just 4 little weeks that always seem to fly by, not to mention one of my favourite national holidays (I know its not a real holiday) Pancake day. Its just really manageable, y’know? And much like how I feel about Mondays, I always enjoy the fresh start that a new month brings, and having come back from an amazing holiday with a renewed sense of motivation and drive for the rest of the year, I’m bringing all that energy into February with some new goals and plans for the 4 weeks ahead.

Reorganised office

Towards the end of 2018 I was so caught up with finishing up Christmas orders and then making sure I had everything ready for our trip in January that I let my office get a little chaotic and a messy work space is not helping my productivity BUT I am already in the process of sorting it all out. I’ve got shelves that I still haven’t put up since moving in, so that’s first on the list and then I just want to streamline and tidy everything up so that I can take the rest of the year by storm.

House to-do list

In the last week Matthew and I have been trying to make a dent in the to-do list for the rest of the house – basically the stuff we’ve been putting off because its not vital – but there’s still quite a bit left to do and I’d really like to get through as much of it as we can while momentum is on our side.

Mini-goal weight

One of my New Years resolutions was to regain the body confidence that I lost in 2018, and for the first time in ages I’ve actually been successfully losing weight over the last few weeks. I’m already 5lbs down on what I weighed at the end of December, and although I know that the number on the scale isn’t everything, I’m also feeling so much better. I’m not following any particular plan, just eating better and hitting the gym as usual but I seem to be doing something right, and although I’m not going to divulge the number, I have a particular weight that I would like to hit by the end of Feb and I’m feeling pretty positive about getting there.

Work and save

If there’s any month that’s best for setting a spending ban, its February. January sales are over, there’s no more parties or presents to buy, and if nothing else, its shorter than every other month so you’ve got a better chance of sticking it out for 2-3 days less. So the plan is to get my head down and be too busy with work to spend any money, and just pray that I don’t stumble across anything that I’ll want to break the ban for!

Happy times and happy habits

With January being a bit of a blur for me, going into February I am ready to hunker down and get myself into a good routine with self care, positivity and life in general. They say it takes 21 days to make a habit, and I’ve got 28 to get it right, so let’s go February!

Are you up to much this coming month?

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Why I Won’t Write About Saving for A House

Its now been almost 8 months since Matthew and I got the keys to our first home, and truthfully I thought I would have written a lot more about the process by now, but between everything else going on in my life and my minor falling out with blogging last year, I just haven’t got round to it.

I have, however, been thinking a lot about the sort of posts that I wanted to write about this, and while at first I thought a ‘Tips on Saving for Your First House’ post would be a great idea, the more I thought about it, the more annoyed I was getting with the concept of that post. Here me out.

Its no secret that our generation, ‘millennials’, are renting for longer, if not indefinitely, and the percentage of homeowners under 30 has dropped more than significantly in the last 10-20 years. I count myself as a minority for becoming a homeowner at the age of 23 and I’m very aware that while I could write about how Matthew and I saved up for our house, there are a whole tonne of circumstantial reasons why this wouldn’t be relevant to a lot of other people.

House prices differ MASSIVELY throughout the country

As a born and bred southerner, I have lived my whole life with a notion of what I thought was the price of a house was based on what house prices were like around where I lived. I started saving as young as I could because I knew that I wanted to buy my own place at some point in my life, and I knew that wasn’t going to be cheap.

But Matthew is a northern boy, and when we did start looking at houses seriously, we knew it would be up north. I was left dumbfounded when I discovered that we could buy a detached house for less than what a 1 or 2 bedroom flat would cost in Bournemouth. Suddenly, the deposit money I had been saving all these years was more than enough for a house, despite being nowhere need what it would need to be in my hometown. The fact is, most people aren’t prepared to move across the country just to own a home, and we were lucky (if that is even the word) to be relocating for Matthew’s job, because the chances of us being able to buy somewhere down south without significant help were slim.

Not everyone can make the ‘sacrifices’ we were able to

I never moved out of my parents’, and Matthew moved in with us 9 months before we bought our house. We both worked at the same place, so it was pretty easy for us to share my car. It would be pretty easy for me to write a post saying that to help save for a house you should move in with your parents, share/sell a car etc, but I know that those options aren’t always an option for everyone.

We all have different histories

I started working at 16, and I didn’t go to university after sixth form, so I had the luxury of no student loans. I always knew that I wanted to buy a place, so I started saving super early, even before Matthew was in the picture, AND Matthew and I were able to buy together, when not everyone can split a mortgage.

We also have totally different histories to previous generations. My parents were married by my age, not fighting for jobs in overcrowded industries like so many people are today AND the housing market was a totally different place to how it is today. We just can’t compare ourselves.

Home-buying incentives and schemes

Because we bought a new-build, we were eligible for the government Help To Buy loan for up to 20% of the value of our house which is interest free for the first 5 years. If you’re not buying a new-build, you can’t apply for this, and to be honest, without this we wouldn’t have been able to afford the house we fell in love with. There are also other options, like shared ownership and Help to Buy ISAs, but again, these aren’t always options for everyone.

Now none of this is to say that people under the age of 30 can’t save enough to buy houses, I mean we’re living proof that it is possible, but I’m just a little fed up of all these clickbait articles saying that its because we love avocados (which we don’t all love just FYI) or some other ridiculously false reason, when in fact its because we’re stuck at the bottom rung of the property ladder with baby boomers stomping on our hands and so many real factors are actually affecting our generation.

I’d love to hear your thoughts on this, so drop me a comment!

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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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Rebuilding

You ever see those funny triangle diagrams floating around on the Internet, where each side is labelled with something we aspire for in life, like ‘good job’ or ‘social life’ or something similarly cliche, and then it’s captioned something like ‘you can only have two, what do you choose’?

These viral posts tend to have their comment sections full of people saying how much they relate to the ideas suggested by it, that we can’t ever seem to really have it all, but I never subscribed to that belief myself.

I always thought that I could have it all. I was *that* person who prided herself on working full time AND maintaining a blog AND being able to go to the gym every morning and while I’ve never really had much of a social life, that was mainly down to the fact that I never lived near to any of my friends, but I still found the time to go and see them and we still talked every day, but I also lived with my boyfriend and I saw my family every weekend.

Reading that, you’d think that I did have it all; it sure as hell sounds like it. But behind all that, there are some shortcomings: I still lived with my parents (not that I ever really minded that), and I worked in a job that didn’t truly make me happy, and that wasn’t a career for me.

Fast forward to today. I now own a home with said boyfriend, we have a puppy and I am living my self-employed dream. The social life aspect hasn’t really changed, although I am a little bit closer to some friends now so I do get to see them more often. This is all wonderful, and I am truly happy for all of this, but some of the walls of that triangle (or more like a hexagon) are crumbling. It would only take you a few minutes of scrolling back through my blog to see that I’ve gone from posting 5-6 times a week to going over 3 weeks without writing anything. I now live 250 miles away from the family that I adore, and as for going to the gym every morning, I can’t actually remember the last time I got in a workout.

I don’t want to seem like I’m complaining, because my life is incredible in so many ways, but each one of these things is an aspect of who I am, and I feel like by losing these things I am losing sight of who I am, and I’m now becoming one of those people retweeting that triangle diagrams saying ‘I feel attacked’. I don’t want to believe that these silly little sketches are true, I want to go back to feeling that little bit smug thinking that really I do have it all.

My life has changed a lot in the past 6 months, and I guess if anything I was naive to think that it would all be easy, because nothing about it has been, but what’s the fun in things being easy, right? There’s no shame in being vulnerable, but I’m ready to start rebuilding these aspects of my life, and rediscovering the person that I used to, and want to be.

She’s in here somewhere, just under a nice little layer of comfort podge, y’know, from avoiding going to the gym for too long, but she’ll be back, just you wait.

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Its Okay That My Blog Has Taken A Back Seat

I’ve talked a lot lately (or at least it feels like it) about how I’ve been struggling a little with blogging; not finding the time for it, perpetual writers block and general lack of focus and motivation. I’ve blamed so many factors, then promised myself I won’t let it happen again, and then it does, and the cycle continues.

I’ve been thinking a lot of about it, and I think I’ve finally come up with an explanation that I’m happy with.

For so long, my blog has been my life. Its been the constant source of pride and happiness in my life when my life hasn’t always been perfect. I worked for so long in dead end jobs that didn’t make me happy, so I loved having something that gave me a sense of purpose, and so I dedicated myself to it; if I wasn’t working, I was working on my blog, and that made me feel like I was doing something worthwhile.

But things have changed now. My life feels fulfilled in so many ways. I have a house, I have a job doing what I love, and there are so many things in my life that make me happy now, so the happiness and sense of fulfilment that my blog used to give me is already there. I don’t feel like I NEED to blog to be happy.

Of course, I still love my blog. I love writing and it makes me happy, so its not something that I think I’ll ever really give up, but I think I can finally let go of the need to publish 5-6 new posts every week like I used to. I can let go of the pressure to create content and go back to just loving creating the content when I do.

Now that I have realised this, I have found a sense of peace with my blog that I think I really needed. I was starting to think that because I couldn’t keep up with my old posting schedule that I should just give up altogether, but it doesn’t have to be all or nothing, its whatever I want it to be, and I want it to be the thing that makes me happy again.

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Would You Change Your Online Self?

Image from Channel 4 website

I don’t know about you, but I have been glued to The Circle on Channel 4!

If you don’t watch it or know what it is, The Circle is a reality TV show where a group of people are living in the same building, but are only allowed to communicate through a specially created social media platform, and because they never see each other, they can choose to be whoever they want to be, with the aim of the game being to be popular. Some people are being themselves, some are hiding or changing certain aspects of their lives/personalities, and some are being completely different people altogether. Every few days, players rate each other, and the most popular players get to choose who out of the least popular players get ‘blocked’ and have to leave the show.

As well as obviously being entertaining, I’m finding it fascinating. We, the viewers, obviously get to see exactly who these people really are, and see what they actually do, say, think and act like when they know the other players can’t see, and it is really interesting to see what goes on behind the screen.

Being a person who does put so much of myself online, I know of course that I don’t share everything, and I would hope that most people know that. I don’t share all the bad stuff, and I often don’t share all the good but mundane stuff that happens in my day to day life, but personality wise, I am completely myself. But this show got me thinking: would I ever change myself in order to be more liked?

Well, without wanting to sound big-headed, I like to think that I’m not disliked online, or at least if I am its by people who aren’t vocal about it, or who are mature enough to just unfollow me and be done with it. Equally, I could probably be more popular. I could have tens of thousands of followers who all think I’m amazing, but I can’t help but think what or who would I have to become to do that? I like who I am (for the most part), and I don’t actually know what I would need to do to become more popular. Would I be more liked if I was the same person, but prettier? Do I need to change my personality to be more liked? Its so hard to say, but when I think about it, if I was anyone but myself, they wouldn’t be liking me for who I really am, and I don’t want that.

Comparing myself to players in The Circle, I definitely think I’m most like Kate. I try to be nice to everyone, and I do prefer to keep some opinions to myself rather than stirring the pot, choosing instead to confide to my close friends rather than openly bashing the beliefs or opinions of others that I don’t agree with. I personally don’t think any of these things make me a bad person, and these traits are what made Kate so popular for the first few ratings, but now a lot of players are finding her niceness annoying, which makes me worry a little bit whether everyone thinks I’m annoying. Its interesting and terrifying at the same time!

So I put this to you, people of the internet, would you ever portray yourself differently online, just so people liked you more?

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