Blog Post Inspiration

Blog Post Inspiration(1)

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!

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Words on Wednesday

Wednesday (3)

On a total flip side to last week’s “Words On Wednesday” where I wrote about how I felt a bit isolated in work, today’s post is all about being included and belonging.

Since I wrote last weeks “Words on Wednesday” post I have had lots of lovely comments from fellow bloggers with suggestions and other helpful ideas and also people sharing their feelings and stories too.  I began to realise, that although I don’t really feel like I fit in at work, I feel like I really belong here.

It struck me that blogging is one of the only places that we don’t get judged on how we look, our appearance, what we are currently wearing, our occupation, whether we are rich or poor, famous or not, whether we got good grades in school or whether we dropped out at the first opportunity, where we are from, our accent or dialect, the colour of our hair or skin, any medical conditions we may have, how we spend our time and all that other stuff that we get judged on in “real life”.  Blogging levels the playing field in so many ways.

And because of that levelling of the playing field, and we only really can judge on what each of us writes, I have found that the blogging community is far more accepting.  Since the first day I started blogging, I have never been made to feel awkward or stupid, I’ve never felt left out or singled out, I have always felt supported and able to ask advice and questions (no matter how silly they may have seemed) and I have always felt like I belong.

And that, that right there, that feeling of belonging, is what makes blogging so great. Each and every one of you have, in some way, helped me to feel like I belong.  And in turn I count each of you as one of my true friends.  And I really am very lucky to have you guys in my blog life!  Thanks so much for supporting me and reading and all the other great things you do!  🙂

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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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!!!!

 

The Bloggers Bash Review

The Bloggers Bash

I was going to write this post as a run through of the day but have decided to tell you all about my favourite parts of the day instead.

On Saturday morning my brother accompanied me to the Annual Bloggers Bash which took place in the Grange Wellington Hotel in Westminster in London.  We got the train from Lewisham to Victoria and walked the last part of the journey to the hotel which wasn’t too far away.  The weather was warm but overcast and there were dark rainclouds on the horison but the day remained dry and warm.

2 guest speakers had been invited to speak with us, Laura of Full To The Brum, a food blog based in Birmingham, and G X Todd, an author.  Both speakers were really interesting.  Laura spoke about how she has evolved from writing about food and drink on her blog to writing features for magazines and newspapers, her love of newsletters and about the struggles related to social media.  G X Todd, (also know as Gemma) took us through her journet to becoming an author, her inspirations and how things have changed for authors in the modern, internet and social media age.  I found both speakers to be really interesting and have given me food for thought.  From Laura, I left thinking about my personal brand and making my blog my own and from Gemma it was that we should all take what we do seriously.

There was a question and answer session with Esther Chiltern – a writer, tutor and blog tutor, Shelley Wilson a self help, motivation, holistic health and personal development blogger, and Laura (from above.). Questions posed to the panel were varied and the answers given were really interesting.  There was a question about blog awards, such as the Liebster and Sunshine blog awards that are given by bloggers to other bloggers, and the panel gave answers that they found the awards to be motivational, fun, encouraging, a way to network and find new content.  Another interesting question was with regards to newlsetters and what they were.  I was a bit unsure about what a newsletter was so the answers were really useful to me – they are a way to share interesting things, content that has not been blogged about, a bit like a parish newsletter.  Newsletters can be more personal and contain things that are important or personal to you, they can take the form of a letter and be written in a chatty, informal way.  Newsletters can also provide a way to provide extra content and add value to your blog.

A Flat Lay Workshop had been organised for us, hosted by Sacha Black and Suzie.  We were talked through the basic concept of the flat lay, Suzie and Sacha both created an example to show us before we were challenged to create our own.

Once we had the basics down, it was just a case of tweaking the layout and moving things around slightly, taking photos along the way to check how everything looked through the lens.  We spoke about lighting and filters to improve our layouts and really make them pop.

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This was my favourite image which I then lightened using Instagram (you can view the image here).  The workshop was really useful and even my brother enjoyed it!

I also got to meet some bloggers, some that I follow and others that are new to me!  I do struggle with meeting people and get super anxious due to my aspergers but the people that I met were really lovely!  I met Simon from Planet Simon, my blog friend since I started this blog and now a real life friend!  he was lovely, and it was so nice to be able to meet the face behind the blog.  I also met Adam Dixon of AdamDixonFiction, Marje of MJMallon, Marian Wood of JustMuddlingThroughLife, Willow Willers of Willowdot21, and Jemima Pett of JemimaPett.com.  All were really welcoming and friendly and lovely to speak with!

I had a really brilliant day and I can’t wait for the next one to roll around!!!!

Top 10 Good Blogger Habits

Top 10 Good Blogger Habits

As a blogger, there are so many habits that you should form in order to improve your blogging experience, your reader’s experience and to make blog life a whole lot more interesting.  Today’s Top 10 focuses on my all time Good Blogger Habits.

  • Be consistent.  Whether you post once a month, once a week, or every day, make sure that you post consistently.  Your readers are more likely to return if they know when to expect a blog post from you.
  • Spelling, punctuation and grammar check.  Bad spelling, grammar and punctuation can stop so many people from reading a post, and with so many different tools available to assist with checking that it is worth running checks before posting.  I am currently using Grammarly which has been really easy to install and use.
  • Images.  I love looking at images contained in blog posts and there are so many do’s and don’ts when it comes to adding an image that it can sometimes be hard to work out what image is best.  My basic rule is that the image should be clear, well lit and not contain too much clutter and that it should be relevant to the post.  Do not add images that are not relevant just because you think a post needs it.  I would much rather read a post with no images than one that is peppered with irrelevant pictures.
  • Connect.  Find other bloggers who write about things that you are interested in or that write in your niche, join in with conversations in the comments and take part in some things that other bloggers run.
  • Be true to yourself.  Write about what you are interested in.  Your hobbies, interests, ambitions, skills, what you live for.  People are much more interested in a post that is written with a passion behind it than a post that you have forced yourself to write that covers something that you have no interest in.
  • Share what you are comfortable with.  If you are not comfortable sharing certain topics with friends and family then don’t share them online.  Only ever write what you are comfortable with everyone and anyone knowing.
  • Schedule.  When you have an idea and the urge to write, sit and utilise that.  I often batch write 3 or 4 posts at a time and make use of the schedule button as I never know when I may not feel like writing.  There really is no shame in scheduling posts in advance.  (Here’s a secret… I wrote this on saturday08/06/19!)
  • Categories and Tags.  Make use of categories and tags.  My one rule is that each post should have one category and up to 10 tags, no more.  I have categories for each type of post that I have and then use the tags to add more info about the post.
  • Check your appearance.  Not so much your own appearance, but your blog’s appearance.  Check how it displays on tablets, mobile phones and computer screens.  So many people use an array of devices these days to read blogs so it is worth making sure that everything on your blog displays perfectly across all devices.
  • Have fun.  Fun is a huge factor in blogging.  It is what keeps me coming back time and again to write and create posts and content.  Remember that it is your blog and you can do with it what you want.  And when the fun starts to wain think of ways you can bring the fun back!  (Ask questions of your audience, read other blogs in your niche to see what they are writing about, use a search engine…there are lots of ideas out there if you start to look!)

Mystery Blogger Award

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What is the Mystery Blogger Award?

Mystery Blogger Award” is an award for amazing bloggers with ingenious posts. Their blog not only captivates; it inspires and motivates. They are one of the best out there, and they deserve every recognition they get. This award is also for bloggers who find fun and inspiration in blogging, and they do it with so much love and passion.
– Okoto Enigma

The Rules of the Mystery Blogger Award

  • Put the award logo/image on your blog
  • List the rules
  • Thank whoever nominated you and provide a link to their blog
  • Mention the creator of the award and provide a link as well
  • Tell your readers 3 things about yourself
  • Nominate your favourite bloggers (*I changed this from 10 – 20 people…)
  • Notify your nominees by commenting on their blog
  • Ask your nominees any 5 questions of your choice; with one weird or funny question (specify)
  • Share a link to your best post(s)

My Award

I was gifted this award by Mel who blogs over at Decor Craft Designs.  Mel’s blog is chock a block full of crafty ideas and inspiration for fun projects, if you haven’t visited her blog then head over and take a look!

I love these awards as they give me an opportunity to share snippets about myself with you guys and also to ask some questions of my own!  I am really touched that Mel has gifted me the Mystery Bloggers award and that she thinks my posts are ingenious, my blog captivates, inspires and motivates!  Thank you so much, Mel, for the Award!

Three Things About Myself

  • I’ve recently gotten into gardening and have loads of ideas and plans for my garden!  I’m excited to see how they all come together!
  • I used to love a night out on the town, coming home in the early hours and not going to bed until the morning but now that is my worst idea of fun!
  • I’m forever thinking of things to do and my list seems to be getting longer and longer!  I am blaming Pinterest for this as I get inspired by so many things on there.

Mels questions

  • Do you have a kid’s toy you still love to play?

I have a lot of my old toys from when I was a kid but I don’t play with them anymore, they serve more as being ornaments now than toys.  I do still have my watercolour paint set from when Iw as a kid and still play around with that though!

  • What is your best character?

My best character would have to be Eeyore, even though he is pretty sad much of the time he always is included in what his friends are doing.

  • Which city/country you can’t wait to re-visit?

London!  My brother and his wife along with their children live there and whenever I visit they take me out to visit lots of different places!  London is such a fab city and there is so much to do and so much history there!

  • What part of your home that you’ve been dying to renovate?

At present, my garden, though I am working on that!  The other place I’m dying to renovate is my spare room though I am still undecided on what colour to paint it or what to do with it.

  • What junk food do you love so much?

Crisps and ice cream, though not both together!

My Questions

  • What is your favourite colour and why?
  • What one thing do you wish you had known before you started your blog?
  • What is your favourite time of the day?
  • If you could do anything for a day, what would it be?
  • What is your most favourite uncool clothing item?

My Favourite Blog Posts

My nominees

Thank you again, Mel, for nominating me a Mystery Blogger Award! Hope you like my answers and my best posts!

For those who are nominated, I hope you read your nomination and accept it, congratulations!

This Month On The Blog!

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The months seem to be passing quicker and quicker as the year is progressing and it only feels like last week that I was preparing my “This Month On The Blog” post for May!  The weather has been improving so much this month, we started with flurries of snow and have ended with the most lovely sunshine and warm days, it’s so good to be greeting summer!

This month I will be attending the Bloggers Bash in London, spending some time with my brother, and, hopefully going on a museum visit to see an art exhibition by one of my favourite artist (hopefully!).

Blog-wise, this month I will be sharing the following posts

  • Recipe of the Month – A lovely, summery quiche
  • Monthly Goals
  • What Are Soap Nuts?
  • Diary, Planner and Journal Quarterly Review
  • A makeup review
  • A book review
  • Current Interior Trends for Summer
  • What happened at the Bloggers Bash
  • A Garden Update
  • A House Wish List
  • Celebrating a Year in My Home
  • House Plants

There will also be my “New” regular features of Saturday Shoutouts! and Weekly Round-Up along with my Top 10 Thursday posts!

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

Blog Maintenance – Routine Checks

Blog Maintenance. Routine Checks.

You may have read a few of my blog posts where I say I have been or am working on my blog but not all of that time is dedicated to writing blog posts or anything to do with the posts themselves.  A chunk of my time is dedicated to running routine checks on my blog and making sure everything works as it should.  Today I am sharing with you some routine checks that are worth carrying out in order to maintain your blog so it can continue running as it should.

Firstly, I tend to view my blog from the “other side”.   Much of blogging means that you don’t really ever see the entrance way that visitors to your site get to see.  We tend to only see the service entrance so to speak and lurk around in the back corridors doing our thing.

Once on the main page that your visitors land on, I check that the font for all of the text is readable and of the right size and colour.  I then check that the pictures I have uploaded to my blog are clear and are relevant to that post’s topic.  I check that the background and look of the blog are in keeping with my general theme.  I also make sure that posts load in a timely fashion, there is nothing worse than slow loading pages.  I note down any problems that there might be or things that I am not happy with that may need tweaking or changing.

Next, while I am on the landing page I check the sidebar, I always ask myself if the things displayed on the side are relevant, interesting, necessary and useful.  If I answer no to any of these questions I will remove the item.  I then check that the items function as they should, whether it is links to articles or other sites or that the information contained is correct.  I tend to amend these things as I work my way down the sidebar.

My next task is to check that all posts are categorised correctly and tagged with relevant words.  I read somewhere that posts should have up to 10 tags in order for them to appear in searches, any more and your post will be flagged as being spam.  I am not sure how true that is but I like to stick to between 5 and 10 as it makes things easier for me to tag and categorise and run checks further down the line.  Any posts that have been categorised incorrectly or have not been tagged I amend as I work my way through the posts.

I also check any links I have added.  There are several ways to do this (have a look on Google for link checkers).  I have used link checkers and have found them to be pretty handy if you have a load of posts to check, but now, personally, I prefer to check the links as I work my way through the posts manually.  I had a problem with my Instagram link recently, I changed my username on Instagram and didn’t realise that it would affect the links on my blog, so it is worth checking these things out!

One of the other things I do is to check the formatting of my posts.  I skim through my posts from the readers landing page and check that my posts all have similar formatting and that I am happy with the placement of images and how text appears.  Again, if I am not happy with anything I will change it as I go.

Blog maintenance should be done at least once a month if you blog regularly (around 3 or more times a week) and for less frequent bloggers once a quarter should be sufficient.  If it is done regularly then it will become a quicker process as some of the posts will only need to be checked for certain things (like broken links) after a while.

Do you run any sort of blog maintenance?  What things do you check on your blog?  Do you have any blog maintenance tips?  Let me know in the comments!