Blog Goals for the Year Ahead

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As my blog nears its first Birthday I want to share some goals that I’d like to achieve in the year ahead.  I have been amazed at what I have achieved so far and while I never really set out with any goals in mind I think that this coming year I should have some things set to aim for…

  • 1000 followers.  I hit 500 Followers a short while ago so this next figure should be attainable.
  • YouTube Chanel.  I have a few ideas of things that I would like to try and doing so via video may be a better option.
  • Weekly Saturday Shout Outs.  While I am already doing this, I would like to make the shout out a little more in-depth and about the writer behind the blog as well as focusing on the blog itself.
  • Take part in Blogtober, Blogmas and the April A-Z challenge.  These challenges help keep me on my toes and share posts that may not get shared otherwise and are a fantastic way of introducing new content.
  • Daily blog posts.  While I blog nearly every day I would like to have set themes for each day of the week as well as my normal posts too.
  • More tutorials.  I love reading tutorials and have a few that I want to share in the future!

I just need to sit down and work out the hows, and whens!  🙂

What blog goals do you have?  I’d love to hear about them so let me know in the comments!

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My Biggest Blogging Obstacles and How I’m Overcoming Them

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Blogging is not all sunshine and roses, and neither is it easy.  There is a common misconception that bloggers just need to open a new post, write it and then publish it.  But blogging, as with any job or hobby can come with its own set of obstacles.  Today I am sharing my biggest blogging obstacles and the strategies I use to overcome them.

  • Time Management

Writing a blog post and getting it ready for publishing can take time.  I don’t want to spend all of my time sitting at a screen and thinking about what I am going to write, nor do I want to miss out on other life events because of my blog, and I especially do not want to rush a blog post in order to hit any schedule I have in place.  This is where time management is crucial.  I have gotten into a routine of scheduling time of an evening to write blog posts, work on post ideas and plan my schedule.  I set aside 2 hours of my evening in which to write, plan and read other blogs.  It has taken time to get to this stage where it just comes naturally to me, that on returning from my 9-5 job I put the kettle on and make a coffee then settle down to craft a post.  It’s all about being time savvy and finding a good balance.

If you are struggling with time management and feel that you don’t have the time to spend on your blog that you want it is worth keeping a log of how you spend your time for a week.  The time log can be as detailed as you want but all you really need to see is when you have any downtime that could be used blogging.  Once you have identified these blocks of time you can start scheduling in blog time.

  • Productivity

Productivity can be a hard one to measure as a blogger especially when there are so many blogging activities that need to be done including writing posts, editing, images, links, catching up with other blogs, commenting and a whole host of other things.  There are also distractions that can make being productive quite hard.

Productivity is one thing I am forever struggling with.  Have I been productive by writing 3 posts this week?  By keeping on top of my comments?  By staying up to date with my fellow bloggers?  Every day can be so different that comparing one day to another in terms of what I have accomplished doesn’t really work.

I manage my productivity by making lists of the things I want to achieve on my blog each week and then break it down into smaller, more manageable lists that I aim to complete each day.  I roughly know how long each task will take me and try to allocate the tasks so that the time allowance is the same for each day.  I find that when I know what needs to be done and I can cross things off that I can then measure how productive I have been.

  • Lack of Motivation

Some days I am super motivated and seem to get a ton of blog things accomplished but then another day I have all the intentions of working on my blog but all I seem to manage to do is sit and stare into space and not get anything done.  We are only human and need to have back up plans for when the lack of motivation hits us.

I like to deal with this kind of day by having a few posts written in advance (I write these on the days I am feeling super motivated) which I keep in my drafts folder.  On the days I have a lack of motivation I open up my drafts folder and edit a post before scheduling it.  Just this little act can boost my motivation and I can then work on some other blog things.

But, I have learned that on days when my motivation is lacking sometimes it is best to step away from the blog and work on something else I enjoy.  There is no point in being harsh with yourself when you have zero motivation, it is your brain’s way of saying that you need a bit of time out.

  • Bloggers Block

When I first started this blog I went through a bit of Bloggers Block, its a bit like writers block (but for bloggers) where you have all the will in the world to write, you want to write and have a need to write but there are no words appearing on the screen no matter how hard you stare at it and will them to appear.  Bloggers block is one of the biggest fears of mine and one that I hope not to experience again any time soon.

I have developed a system in order to avoid the dreaded blogger’s block and that is to have a journal where I write down any ideas for posts that I may have.  Any idea, no matter how big or small or crazy gets written down.  I go through the book when I am working on my posting schedule for the month and schedule the ideas in for the following month.

  • Idea Generating

Coming up with ideas for the blog can be a bit hit or miss at times, and even though I add any ideas I have to a blog journal I am always conscious that these ideas may run out in the future.  I like to sit down every few months and go through some exercises that can help with generating fresh content ideas.

The first exercise is to look at the categories I write posts in, for example, Fashion And Beauty.  I get a piece of blank paper and write the heading in the centre then try to think of as many topics related to that category as possible, so for Fashion and Beauty, there may be things like the outfit, season, new shoes, shower gel, cleanser etc, a bit like a spider diagram.  From this I can then come up with ideas for blog posts.

The second exercise I have is to perform a hashtag search to see what kind of things are trending which are relative to my niche.  Sometimes words or phrases will come up that I had never thought of or expected which can then generate ideas for blog posts.

  • Accountability

As a blogger I often feel that I am only accountable to myself, and being accountable to myself is something that I don’t do well with as I am one of those people who will put off today the things I can do tomorrow.

In order to bring accountability to my blog and get things done in a timely manner, I have a blog posting schedule which I have loosely planned out until the end of 2020.  I created a calendar in Excel which I have written in re-occurring posts such as my Saturday Shout Out, Top 10 Thursday and Weekly Roundup, all the posts that are assigned to specific days.  I have also written out onto certain days the category of the blog post I want to be written for that day, there is nothing very specific on it.  However, I then start assigning specific blog posts and titles the month prior, so this month (September) I have already planned out the majority of my posts to their specifics for October.  Working to a schedule means that I always know what is coming up, what I need to write and when I need it written for.

The other way I have bought accountability to my blog is by sharing a post each month letting all of my readers know what is coming up on the blog in that coming month.  This works really well for me as I know, with my reader’s expectations, I stay accountable to them as well as myself.

  • Lonliness

Blogging is a fairly solitary activity and it can be easy to feel a bit lonely at times.  With other activities, such as a job, you are surrounded by people all in the same boat and it is easy to chat, share problems and generally talk about the job, but blogging can be one of those things that friends and family may not fully understand.  I have found that the best way to overcome these feelings of loneliness is to find other bloggers that you enjoy reading, start commenting on their blogs and build up a network of like-minded people.

I have been incredibly lucky to meet some really supportive, like-minded bloggers since starting this blog, and I am pleased to be able to call them friends.  But, I have only been able to build up this group of friends through following, reading, commenting and replying to comments.  I have found that if you reach out to another blogger, or if they reach out to you then it is worthwhile investing time in conversations, you won’t often feel lonely at all.

What are your biggest blogging obstacles and how have you overcome them?  Let me know in the comments, your responses may be able to help another blogger who is struggling.

 

How do You Feel About Re-Blogs?

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I’ve been fairly lucky with the blog in the past year, I have not had any negative or hateful comments left for me and when the Tygpress blog skim thing happened I seemed to escape that where many other bloggers had work of theirs taken and shared on that site without their knowledge.  But today I am asking how you feel about re-blogs?

Re-blogging is a way for bloggers to share great content that they have read, written by another blogger, that is shared to the re-blogger’s audience.  Usually, there is a comment by the re-blogger about the post they are sharing and could be about how great the post was, or how it is relevant to something that has been raised on their own blog, or something about how the post resonated with them.  I have occasionally re-blogged others posts if I think it will help them (for example, I have shared a blog post where someone was looking for people to answer a Survey Monkey questionnaire to help with their dissertation), or because I really loved what they had written and thought other readers may like it and other work that the original writer had written.

I don’t usually mind my posts being re-blogged, I have always either been asked if I minded someone sharing my posts or they have re-blogged with a lovely comment about my writing.

Since Tygpress happened I have always checked out the blog that has re-shared my posts, and mostly it has been people that I follow, regular commenters or genuine blogs that I have then taken a look at and started to follow as they put out their own work which is brilliant.

Yesterday though, I had to disable my re-blog button.  I had a blog share a few posts of mine a short while ago but forgot to check out the blog to see what the blog my work was being shared to was like and the sort of content they were putting out.  I had 2 notifications in quick succession of each other yesterday to say that 2 of my posts had been shared by this blogger.  Having recognised the name of the blogger it jolted my memory and I set about checking this site out.

A couple of things have got me suspicious of the site that re-blogged my work.  Scrolling through their site it seems that all they have ever done is re-blog other peoples posts, never leave a comment why they were re-blogging it, all of the posts are different to each other that have been re-blogged – there is no overarching theme to any of them, the reblogged posts all seem to be on certain days and within minutes of each other, there is no “About” page for the author of the site just a generic contact form, there don’t seem to be any comments on the posts shared but a few likes here and there, and the comments that I left on my re-blogged content asking for my posts to be removed seem to have been deleted.

Something doesn’t feel right to me about this, so what should I do?  Any advice would be greaty appreciated.

Blog Post Inspiration

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In my (nearly) one year of running this blog I have learned that inspiration is a funny thing.  Sitting and waiting for inspiration to hit never really seems to work, in fact, it never really comes if you sit and wait for it, in order to find the inspiration you need to go and seek it out.

I find inspiration in everyday things, things that I do, see, hear or read.  My phone holds a ton of images, whether they are ones I have actively taken myself or things that I have saved, screenshots of information and even a whole lot of notes made in my “Notes” app.

Whenever I see something that makes me think I like to write it down and refer back to it later.  I always ask myself “How many words could I write about this?” and “Is the subject interesting?” before turning it into a blog post.

I like working to a schedule and having tried and tested posts that I can fall back on in case I’m not particularly inspired, though most posts are inspired by something – book reviews, product reviews, outfits, the change in the seasons, things I have been up to, things I am looking forward to, what has been on my mind.  And a lot of these posts become monthly features that get incorporated into my schedule time and time again.

If you are lacking in inspiration, look around you, really take time to look and note the things that catch your eye, the sights, the smells, the thoughts you have, start reading – any book, blog or newspaper will do, take yourself somewhere – real or imaginary, and write about that.

Inspiration is always around, you just need to know where to look for it.

What things inspire you?  I know that different things inspire each and every one of us and I’d really love to hear what inspires you in the comments!

This Month On The Blog

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September marks a really important milestone in my blogging life.  My blog turns 1 later in the month so I have themed many of this month’s posts around blogging, from where I find inspiration for my blog posts, blog post ideas, what a typical “blogging” day looks like for me, blog challenges and how I have overcome them and my plans for the blog for the coming year.

I am also launching a new business which will be shared here on the day!  I am doing a series of count down posts to the big day so you shouldn’t miss the big day itself!

This month sees the return of my Saturday Shout Out series and I have a lot of brilliant blogs to share with you each Saturday!

There are also the usual posts – Top 10 Thursday, Weekly Roundups each Sunday along with the return of my Saturday Shout Out series which I am really excited to be starting back up as I have a lot of brilliant bloggers and blogs to share with you!

What have you got planned for your blogs this month?  Let me know in the comments as I’d love to know!

Blog Planning

Blog Planning

I know that we are still in August but my thoughts have been steadily heading towards 2020 and where I want to take this blog in terms of content.  I have been looking at my stats and at what types of post do well and which seem to be lagging behind in terms of engagement.  I have decided in 2020 that some changes will be made to my blog posting schedule.

Because I want to change the frequency of some blog topics and move other things around I have decided to start the planning of my content schedule now.  By starting my planning so early on I can work out when I want to post certain things and move things around until I’m happy with them.

I am currently using Excel to work out my posting schedule.  For me, Excel is the best program to use as I can cut and paste things, move things around and colour code where needed.

I have made a start on things that will happen frequently (like my Saturday Shout Out slots) and other daily/weekly features and blocked out where I will be taking part in blog challenges (April’s A-Z Challenge, Blogtober and Blogmas) and I have also put in the days that are important to me (Mental Health Awareness Day, Christmas, Easter, New Year etc) and so far I am happy with how it is all looking!

One thing I am not doing just yet are the general posts which I will work into my schedule the month before and give me leeway with what I want to feature on my blog that month.

As a blogger, I think that it is really useful to craft yourself a schedule for posting and review what works and what doesn’t from time to time.  I think that by taking a look at your stats and being aware of the stats for each post can help you to keep things fresh on your blog.  And by keeping things fresh you are more likely to gain new readers, engage older followers and stay enjoying your blog content from your own, writing, perspective too!

Hopefully, come the end of December or the beginning of January I will be able to share the full plans for my blog and also the new and improved blog schedule!

What plans do you have for your blog in 2020?  I’d love to hear in the comments!

This Month On The Blog

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It’s hard to believe we have passed the halfway mark of this year and are now just a few meer months away from Winter!  Before the cold and damp weather hits us, and the evenings start to draw in we should celebrate all that August has to offer us.

On the blog for August, I have the regular weekly features

  • Monday – Saturday Shout Out Ad
  • Wednesday – Words on Wednesday
  • Thursday – Top 10
  • Saturday – Saturday Shout Out share
  • Sunday – Weekly Roundup

Monthly features

  • Recipe of the Month
  • Monthly Goals
  • In Case You Missed

Other posts I have planned for this month are

  • Beauty product review
  • How I plan my blog schedule
  • Blog Award
  • Room Tour
  • Book Review
  • Favourite seasonal outfit
  • Things I am looking forward to

 

 

 

Building My Flat Lay Kit

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I have been thinking a lot about flat lay photography and building my own flat lay kit since I attended the Bloggers Bash a while ago.  Since that day I have been going through my craft stash and really thinking about things I can use to create flat lay images.  I also visited my local Hobbycraft store and bought a few items after deciding how I would like my flat lay images to look.

Before I went searching and shopping I decided to sit down and think about my blog, what it is about and it’s identity.  I have a theme that runs through my blog of colour, being bright and fun.  I try to theme the days using the colours of the rainbow…

  • Monday – Red
  • Tuesday – Orange
  • Wednesday – Yellow
  • Thursday – Green
  • Friday – Blue
  • Saturday – Indigo/Purple
  • Sunday – Violet

and this theme runs through the graphics I create for each blog post.  I knew that I wanted to keep that theme with any flat lay images I would be introducing to the blog and other social media platforms.

Once I had that in mind I then started to think about the kinds of blog posts that I publish, I have several different categories that I post in, from craft things, blog items, personal, fashion, reviews, beauty and food.  While a lot of these posts are not tied to specific days, they are re-occurring posts.  I sat and made a list of items that could be used as photography props for these categories – make-up brushes, stationery, hair clips, anything that I could think of went on the list.

I then narrowed down what I wanted to add to my kit that would be permanent items and separated out those items that were of everyday nature and that I could grab at any point.

I decided that I wanted colourful background papers and had a vast stash from scrapbook and card making projects that I sifted through one afternoon.  I sat and made 7 different piles according to which colours I had assigned to each day.

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I had some Project Life cards and some Smash Book pads (which I can only seem to find now on Amazon) and La-De-Da papers that I also separated out and added to the piles.  I really like that these cards and papers have patterns and quotes on them and think they could come in really useful!

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I bought some wooden letters from Hobbycraft and spent an evening watching 13 Reasons Why on Netflix and painting them with acrylic paint in their assigned colours.

I also bought a background paper from Amazon which was double-sided,

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I ended up with two because the first one came really badly battered, the second one was not much better.  They were really badly packaged, wrapped around a foam strip and then placed in a plastic bag, there was no protection at all.  Lesson learned – cheap is not always good.  I have had them placed under heavy books and some of the creases have become less noticeable.

I added to my kit some foliage and fake grass, all from Hobbycraft, that I can use to add interest to the background of my images.

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I have gathered other items to add to my kit from my craft stash and other places.

I have also added a ring light for my phone and a gooseneck stand to help with actually capturing the image.  I got both from Amazon with a gift certificate that I had been given.

Here’s the full kit so far!  I have it all stored in a plastic box that I had laying around, and each day has been separated out into its own zipped folder ready for me to grab when needed.  I have some things lose that can be used for any day of the week!

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Do you have a flat lay kit?  What items do you use the most?  I’d love to hear about your kit’s in the comments!

This Month on the Blog!

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How have we even got to July so quickly?  It sort of feels like we are in a massive game of snakes and ladders and have managed to move up the ladder from March to July bypassing April, May, and June, it’s gone that quick!

This month on the blog I have my regular features, weekly these are

  • Monday – Saturday Shout Out Ad
  • Thursday – Top 10
  • Saturday – Shout Out
  • Sunday – Weekly Roundup

Monthly regulars…

  • Recipe of the Month
  • Monthly Goals
  • This Month on the Blog

Other monthly articles this month…

  • Mystery and Sunshine Blog Awards
  • Book Review
  • A Day In My Life
  • Room Tour
  • Developing Your Own Style
  • Bullet Journal Set Up
  • Flatlay Kit
  • 73 Questions

I am also introducing a new weekly feature – Words on Wednesday.  To find out more about this, please come by on Wednesday when all will be revealed!!!!

What have you got planned for your blogs this month?  Let me know in the comments!!!!