Guess Who’s Back? An Update

It’s been months since I last wrote a blog post and so much has happened in that time,  I have had a few weeks away from work with an unidentified sickness which was thought to be Coronavirus (this was pre-testing) which then developed into a 4 week, 2 lots of antibiotics, battle with a chest infection.  On top of that, I have had to take further time off from work as I had been in contact with someone who started to show Covid symptoms to shield my co-workers and make sure I was not unwell.  All of this and the uncertainty of the past few months in general have really knocked me off kilter with my routines and writing which has meant that blogging has been pretty hard to keep up with.

Though I have not been blogging I have still been writing, Iwrote an article for an on-line magazine called The Everyday that you can find here https://theeverydaymagazine.co.uk/opinion/working-from-home-before-and-after-covid?rq=suzi%20tench and I have written another article for them that should be published at some point in September.

I started the 100 Day Project(https://www.the100dayproject.org/), a free art project lasting 100 days, which started on 7th April 2020, where you aim to do something creative each day for 100 days.  I started with the good intensions of being able to complete the 100 days but gave up around 20 days because I just felt so unmotivated to do any art.  I had started with an idea to work on an 8×8 inch square each day that would link together with other squares to form a bigger picture.  In all honesty, though I really enjoyed what I was doing, I think I was overly ambitious in the sizing of my squares that took more than a day to complete.  I think I will do the project again next year with the same concept but use much smaller squares of either 4×4 inch or 2×2 inch as they will be quicker to complete.

I found a fab group on Facebook called Frock Up Friday thatwas set up by Susan Sims and Bevali Francis during lockdown and gave members an excuse to get dressed up on Fridays when much of the world was working from home in comfortable clothes.  I joined and have taken part in frocking up on several Fridays during lockdown, which has helped me with my mental health during these uncertain times and has given me something to look forward to each week.  The Frock Up Friday group are lovely and the outfit’s people post, not just on a Friday, are amazing!

The biggest thing that happened just prior and during lockdown was that I gained a new boyfriend who has moved in with me!  I say new, though we grew up together, his sister and I were best friends through secondary school and her family became like my second family when growing up.  We have been in contact much of our adult live, mostly via social media, and decided to meet for a drink one evening and didn’tstop talking all night.  It has been lovely to have someone in my life who has known me through the years and has shared memories of things we did as kids.  A few months ago, we made the decision to move in together, he gave notice on the place he had been living in and moved in with me.

Since Rob and I got together and lockdown has eased, we have been away several times for the weekend, once we went to St David’s for the weekend to visit his mum and other weekends we have stayed in Brean walking along the beach, going out for dinner, having a mosey around the market or playing games in the arcades.  We have spent nights in during the week, watching tv, cooking food, having takeaways, listening to music and enjoying the odd glass of cider or wine.  When it was really hot, back in July, we bought a large paddling pool that we put in the garden, filled with water and sat out in the evenings watching the sun go down and the stars come out.  All this stuff, things that people take for granted in relationships, I didn’t realise I missed until I had it back in my life.

Anyway, that’s enough of the soppy stuff…  What have you all been up to while I have been away?  I hope you are all well and safe!  Hopefully, this post will be the start of more regular blog posts coming from me as I have really missed my blog, blog friends ad my blogging routine!

Blogging from A-Z – A-Z of Blogging – L

L2020

Today’s Blogging from A-Z Challenge letter is “L” which, in my A-Z of Blogging stands for Layout, Learning and Links.

Layout.  Layout refers to the appearance of your blog and includes where things are placed and the overall presentation of the site to external* users (*you can see the external view of your blog by typing in the blog URL into a new tab or window on your computer).  There are no strict rules when it comes to your blog layout but it should be easy to read with clear fonts and font sizes, easy to navigate with menus and sidebars clearly labelled, and it should be uncluttered so avoid placing anything unnecessary into sidebars if possible.  If you add or take-away any items that could effect how your blog appears should be checked by viewing as an external user.

Learning.  With advances being made in technology almost daily, and new software, social media apps or additions to social media being introduced it is helpful to learn how to use these things even if you may never use them in the future.  There are so many useful learning resources, many aimed at teaching blogging and blogging platforms as well as others that can teach more about the social media elements that run alongside.  I found the “For Dummies” books to be a brilliant resource but there are lots of other ways to learn – Youtube, Google, Skillshare, podcasts (I highly recommend Pete McPherson’s Do You Even Blog podcast and the website – some really useful resources on both!).  Learning from other bloggers is useful too, I have learned so much from being part of groups dedicated to blogging and even on Twitter too.

Links.  Links connect one web page to another and, from a blogging standpoint, act as a way of showing your reader extra information about what you may be writing about.  For example, I have used links in this post that direct you, the reader to the Dummies book webpage, Skillshare and the Do You Even Blog site which, when clicked will open the relevant page (hopefully) in a new tab or window for you to view.  Links are not always necessary depending upon what you write about but, if you do use links, it is worth checking every now and again that they still work and take the reader to the right sites.  There are a few ways to check if links you have used are broken or still valid and would recommend searching Google for link checkers and find one that you like using.

Do you have any thoughts on Layout, Learning or Links?  I’d love to hear your comments so let me know below!

Its Beginning to Look a Lot Like Blogmas!

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I honestly can not believe it is the 1st of December today and have no idea of where the past few months have gone!  Working in payments means that I am processing work from the previous month (November) for payment in January so I never feel like I live in the current month so I’m sure that has something to do with it!

Blogmas is a tradition undertaken by many bloggers where we challenge ourselves to write a Christmas themed post each day on the run-up to the big day, and even in the days past Christmas, right up until New Year’s Eve, and I am going to attempt to do Blogmas right here on this blog!

I have a few different blog posts ready to share and they fall into different categories, heres the categories for you!

  • Merry Monday
  • Tinsel Tuesday
  • Wishing Wednesday
  • Top 10 Thursday
  • Festive Friday
  • Surprise Saturday
  • Sparkle Sunday

To see what sort of things I will be sharing pop back each day and have a look!

Are you taking part in Blogmas?  If so, leave your link in the comments as I am planning to share a post with all my readers about the Blogmas participants!

Bloggers Meet-Up?

Bloggers Meet-Up_

I’ve been thinking a lot recently about organising a bloggers meet-up.  The idea would be to meet up with other bloggers one weekend and chat all things blog, from how to create a content schedule to generating ideas and ways to engage with our readers.  I have a few ideas of things that I would like to chat about and, more than anything, this would be a weekend where we could make friends with our fellow bloggers and share advice, hints, tips and ask questions.  I was thinking of arranging something in the New Year (possibly March/April time)

So, here are a few questions for you regarding this…

  1. Would you be interested in this kind of thing?
  2. Would you be willing to travel to South Wales (UK) for this?
  3. What sort of things would you like from a bloggers meet? (e,g types of topics covered, activities etc…)
  4. Would you prefer a 1 or 2 day meet up?

Let me know in the comments, and any other thoughts you may have!

 

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!

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!

on the blog

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!!!!