Sunday, 18 March 2018

Things I've Learnt About Running A Blog

I started my blog on a whim one day when I was pregnant, bored and frustrated. I'd spent weeks watching youtubers and reading mummy blogs in hopes that someone out there was suffering the same way that I was during my last trimester and desperately searching for advice on giving birth as I was terrified of the thought! Before I knew it, I was setting up my very own space on the internet to keep myself sane and to write about anything and everything that came to mind, never expecting nor really wanting anybody to read it. A few weeks went by and I came to the realisation that there wasn't much point in publishing posts online if nobody was going to read them, so I finally decided to start promoting my blog on my personal twitter and instagram and hoped that someone would read it and maybe feel my pain or share a giggle with me. 

Little did I know just how much work goes into running a blog and now that I am 10 months in and have more experience, I am beyond baffled at how some bloggers manage it full time! I am by no means a successful blogger - I don't have a proper schedule thanks to my bubba, I don't have a set niche as I tend to write about a bit of everything and I'm not particularly photo savvy or a social media genius. Yet I still enjoy my little space where I get to write down my thoughts and I have made a lot of lovely friends through the blogging community which makes it more than worth it for me. I do however sometimes struggle with the pressures of the blogging world and wonder if I should quit when it seems like I'm not getting anywhere and there are a million and one bigger and better bloggers out there.

So with that in mind, today I wanted to talk about things I've learnt about running a blog. For anyone debating whether to create one or people who wonder what goes into blogging behind the scenes, here are some of the things I've learnt along the way that I didn't really expect when I first started last year!

It's more time consuming than you think

I never thought I would spend hours at a time writing up a single blog post; having to spell check, proof read and decide if I even like what I've written about before hitting publish. I knew it wasn't going to be as easy as spending 10 minutes writing up a quick review or whatever it is that I'm posting, but I also didn't expect it to take quite as long as it sometimes does. It feels like I'm writing a book sometimes and each post is a new chapter. I can spend all day in between caring for my baby trying to perfect a post some days, especially if it's one that I'm particularly passionate about or if it's sponsored by a brand which can be exhausting when you've got house chores to do, a partner to be spending time with and a life to be out living.

There's more to it than just the writing
 (e.g. planning, taking pictures, promoting, etc)

On the same note as above, there's a lot more effort that goes into every post than some people may believe. It's not only writing up your piece and publishing it; there's the planning to make sure you aren't copying another blogger's work, taking swoon worthy pictures (which I still haven't mastered), promoting your post on social media, ensuring all your links work, connecting with other bloggers, attempting to boost your DA and so much more that goes on behind the scenes. Blogging definitely isn't for people who aren't committed to their cause 'cos it's a whole lotta work and you'll only get pleasure from it if you really do love it.

The competition is real - everyone is a blogger these days

As supportive as the blogging community is, there will always be competition around every corner. It's become such a huge industry over the last 5 years that anyone can do it, and it's amazing that so many people around the world are putting their creativity out on the internet. With that being said though, there are the odd people who instead of encouraging and supporting fellow bloggers, big or small, they use them as a stepping stone in their path to the top. As with any job these days, there's always gonna be competition, it's all about how we deal with it. As long as you stay authentic, write about what you love and don't let the doubters bring you down then you'll be fine - there's more than enough room for all of us! :)

Bloggers block is a killer 

I love writing, I have ever since I started secondary school. It's great fun and allows your imagination to run wild which is perfect when you're feeling a bit down and want a mental release. That doesn't always mean I know what to write about though. I get writers block so easily, especially now that I have a brain is real guys. He takes up so much of my mind, body and soul each day that by the time I do get to sit down and blog, I often struggle to figure out what to post. I'm forever second guessing myself and wondering if people even enjoy what I post about which is another mood killer, but then I remember that I run my blog for myself primarily and as long as I write about something I enjoy, it's not the end of the world if it doesn't blow up online, you know? I do, however, try to keep up with what's relevant in the blogging world and incorporate popular subjects into my posts to ensure I am appealing to everyone and not just myself :P

You don't always hit your view/follower goals but that's okay

Despite me saying how I blog for myself and it doesn't bother me massively if my blog doesn't go viral or whatnot, it is still disheartening when I don't hit a certain amount of views per day or don't gain any new followers in a week. Yes I do this in my spare time and it's not a job for me, it's a hobby, but I would still like some form of growth seeing as I do put so much of my very limited spare time into it and it would be a shame if my posts just went stale. If I've learnt anything from the blogging community, it's not to lose hope though. Even if you aren't hitting your goals for the week, keep going, it doesn't mean you are any less of a blogger than those who are booming in the industry. These things take time and everything fluctuates, especially Instagram which is a nightmare for engagement these days as I'm sure you all know! One thing that will help you flourish in that way is taking part in Twitter Blog Chats and reaching out to other small bloggers that you love and taking those extra few minutes to comment or like posts that you enjoy reading.

Brand collaborations aren't everything

This seems to be huge in the blogging world and I'm not entirely sure why people put themselves down over it when it's such an admittedly amazing, yet small bonus. If you aren't receiving the newest make up from the most popular high end brands to review, that doesn't mean you aren't doing a good job with your blog. Sure it's incredible to get a PR box full of goodies from your favourite brands, but that's not what blogging is truly about. If you're in it for the freebies then you're doing it wrong. Blogging is a kind of therapy for a lot of people, giving us a platform to release our thoughts and *hopefully* not get judged too harshly and make some valuable friendships along the way. As much as I'm sure anyone would understandably squeal if they woke up to a box of Charlotte Tilbury products on your doorstep for example, it doesn't define you as a good or bad blogger. It's easy to get caught up in materialistic things in this line of work, especially when others are getting packages upon packages when you're not. Don't compare your work to anyone else's, you are unique and amazing and whether you are lucky enough to work with your favourite brands or not, your blog is still worth it. It's about the real connections you make and the imprints you place on people that read your work that really count.

What are some things you weren't told about or expecting before you started your blog? 

Wednesday, 14 March 2018

The Childhood Tag

Mulberry Bush recently created this really adorable tag called The Childhood Tag. As you probably know by now if you keep up to date with my posts, I'm a sucker for a good get to know me tag, so when Emma emailed me asking me to take part, I was happy to oblige. 
Here goes!

1. What were you not expecting/not prepared for before becoming a parent?
I don't think you can ever be truly prepared for parenthood to be honest, no matter how much research you do, the experience from being pregnant to being a mum was so surreal, I guess the main thing I wasn't prepared for was the flood of emotions that hit you right after giving birth. I was happy, sad, anxious, scared and excited all at once, it was so odd!

2. What is your main piece of advice for new parents? 
Don't be too hard on yourself! The first couple of months are pretty difficult and it may take you and your baby a little while to find your footing, but don't be alarmed, you're doing great. 

3. How do you encourage family time at home? 
If I moan at Dane enough to get off his games, he will eventually and we try to get out and about as a family whenever the weather permits it - otherwise, we play indoors and make sure we spend at least a few hours every day together with no technology in the way.

4. How do you balance being a blogger with parental duties? 
I wouldn't say I'm balancing it very well at the moment! I tend to have to squeeze in any blogging priorities whenever Cass goes down for a nap and some days there's just too much to do in the house that I end up completely neglecting my blog... but luckily I'm doing it more for myself than for making money so it doesn't stress me out too much if I miss a few days. 

5. What was your favourite toy growing up? 
I have the worst memory of my childhood so I don't really know, although one that I do remember was this one giant brown teddy called Asda that I got from Asda (funnily enough ;P) that used to come everywhere with me so I'm gonna go with that!

6. Have you kept any of your toys from childhood? 
I don't have him at my house but my dad still has Asda if that counts?

7. What are your children's favourite toys? 
Anything other than his actual toys... :')
He LOVES playing with baby wipes at the moment, he eats the packet, pulls out the wipes and cleans himself, bless him, it's super cute! He also quite likes his sensory ball, even if he mainly just throws it at Nobu, haha.

8. Do you actively limit the amount of screen time your kids have? 
I do try! Me and Dane were adamant that we wouldn't let Cassius sit in front of the tv/ipad/phone until he was at least 2 but alas, life isn't that simple and sometimes when you need 5 minutes to prepare his milk or to go for a wee, we do fall victim to setting him up with Peppa Pig or Timmy Time. I am making sure it's never more than 1 episode though as I don't want him addicted to technology too young - he needs to grow up like we did, actually going outside and getting dirty instead of playing apps all bloody day.

9. How do you reduce plastic waste in your home? - Reusable bottles, buying wooden toys, avoiding excessive food packaging, etc.? 
I hate to admit this but I'm actually terrible at reducing plastic waste at home because no matter how hard I try to prevent it, everyone buys us toys that come in ridiculously big plastic packaging and my mum tends to do the majority of the food shopping so I'm not always in control of avoiding excessive food packaging. I'm always reusing bottles if that makes any difference? I really do need to try harder at this :')

10. What advice would you give to parents who want to start blogging? 
Don't be disheartened if you don't manage to get a post out when you'd planned too. Being a mum means being on call 24/7 for your little human and sometimes things don't go to plan and you don't get that extra time in your day to enjoy a cuppa tea and write out a post but that's totally okay. Just do you and post when you can and the people that love your content will understand. It's not easy being a super-mum!

Tag you’re it! Since Mulberry Bush created this tag and Emma passed the tag onto me, I am going to continue the game by tagging anyone that wants to join in!


Wednesday, 7 March 2018

Book Review → Everless By Sara Holland

Time is a prison. She is the key. Packed with danger, temptation and desire – a perfect read for fans of The Red Queen. In the land of Sempera, the rich control everything - even time. Ever since the age of alchemy and sorcery, hours, days and years have been extracted from blood and bound to iron coins. The rich live for centuries; the poor bleed themselves dry.
Jules and her father are behind on their rent and low on hours. To stop him from draining himself to clear their debts, Jules takes a job at Everless, the grand estate of the cruel Gerling family.
There, Jules encounters danger and temptation in the guise of the Gerling heir, Roan, who is soon to be married. But the web of secrets at Everless stretches beyond her desire, and the truths Jules must uncover will change her life for ever ... and possibly the future of time itself.

I received this book in my December Fairyloot box and my first impressions were that the cover is stunning! I love the Hardback books that come with Fairyloot boxes, they always blow me away and this has got to be one of my faves. In regards to the actual story, I hadn't heard anything about it so was going into it with no expectations, just a hope for something a bit different - and that it certainly delivered on! 

The concept of time being currency and that a person's time can be drained or added to through their blood is something I've not yet come across so I was impressed at the author's originality to start with. A lot of Young Adult books these days are very similar, with the majority of stories being about faeries, vampires, witches, etc...and it can be difficult to break out of that pattern and write something unique. But Sara Holland really went for it and I thoroughly enjoyed the change. The world building was great and I really felt like I knew what was going on when they spoke about certain politics and culture which some YA books falls short on so A+ for that!

The main character Jules is very easy to connect with as she is doing what she can to keep her Papa alive and well, despite her past experiences in Everless that have kept her and her father away for so many years. She's brave, incredibly believable and really quite heroic in the sense that she is constantly warned to stay away from Everless for reasons unknown to her, yet knowing how desperate times are for her and her Papa, she sticks it out anyway. 

I loved the relationships she had with all the characters she came across; from the little boy in the kitchens to the woman who is to marry Prince Roan, and the mysterious undertones of a romance that strings you along only to surprise you at the very end. Not everything is as it seems - for a lot of the book you think you know who the good guys and the bad guys are but I'm telling you now, without spoiling anything for you, don't get too caught up on it. 

It's full to the brim of beautifully descriptive visuals, intricately layered and flawed characters that come from heart-wrenching back stories and keeps you rooting for Jules to get to the bottom of the mystery surrounding Everless and it's rulers. The Queen, despite having such a dramatic hype throughout the story, didn't do a lot for me as a character but hey, I loved pretty much every other character that was introduced so it's fine.

There's a lot of mystery, intrigue and unknown danger throughout the whole book and following Jules on her journey of self discovery was exciting, dramatic and a real page turner. It was refreshing to read a book that wasn't primarily based around a romance, but more on female friendships and Jules finding out about her past and present. There were a lot of plot twists and it left off on a pretty crazy cliffhanger that potentially sets up for more romance in the next instalment alongside another huge journey so I'm super excited to see where the story goes and how Jules handles the information she now has. 

If you're a fan of YA fantasy then I definitely recommend you giving this a read. I've read quite a few reviews stating that it shares some similarities with the movie In Time with Justin Timberlake which I wouldn't know as I haven't seen it, but please don't let that throw you off. It really is an interesting read which will keep you on your toes all the way through and throw a million plot twists your way right at the end that you didn't see coming... T_T 

Have you read Everless? What did you think of it? Let me know in the comments!

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