Tag Archives: blogging

Meet and greet with the Lifestyle Blogger tag

playdoThe lovely Aimee Phelan of Aimee Dot has created a Lifestyle Bloggers tag to try and get to know some of us bloggers a little better, and I was lucky enough to be among those she shared it with. I think it’s a great opportunity to share a bit more about ourselves and our blogs with each other and I hope you all enjoy. Grab a cocktail, pull up a chair – or a piece of playdough – and have a read.

1. When did you start blogging and what made you start?
I started blogging nine months ago after being invited to a Blogger’s Party through a friend. I had already set up a Tumblr account a few years earlier and liked it, although wasn’t very committed to it as there was less writing involved. Meeting incredible bloggers, some who blog full-time and make a living from it, I was so inspired I went straight home and set up Absolutely Lucy. I’m so glad I did because I have met some really fantastic people through blogging and it has opened up a whole new world for me.

2. How did you come up with your blog’s name?
It just kind of came to me in a flash. I wanted something short and snappy, had no nicknames or anything like that to use, so I chose this. It wasn’t until later that someone pointed out to me it is the same name as a series of books, which unfortunately seem to beat me on the Google rankings. But I wouldn’t change it, it has become an identity and I “absolutely” love it.

3. Who is your favourite lifestyle blogger?
Gosh I have so many. The blogger who first inspired me was Gemma Seager of Retro Chick, but I also love Hello Wonderful, AnyGirlFriday and Imogen Writes Wellbeing – these are just a tiny handful of my favourites. And my latest obsession is travel blogs.

4. Where do you get your inspiration for posts from?
Every aspect of my life. That’s why I love lifestyle blogging, because nothing is off topic and everything is worth writing. I find inspiration in things I read, things people – whether celebs/friends/family – say, behaviours I witness, things I experience, dreams and ambitions I have, food I eat, places I go and anything else that happens along the way. Like Aimee said in her own post, it is damn hard to turn off once you become a lifestyle blogger because you see the world in the form of your next post!

5. What was your first blog post about?
My first blog post was just a short introduction to me and what I planned to write about, I wanted to ease myself in and to say hello to anyone who might be reading.

6. What are your favourite things to write about?
I love to write on all topics, but I have to say my favourite posts are always travel-related, health and food-related, reviews of films/theatre/shows or extremely opinionated pieces, which always get a debate going.

7. What advice would you give to a lifestyle blogger who’s just starting out?
I was actually asked this on Twitter the other night and I said very simply: “don’t stop writing what you love, even if it doesn’t get the readers you want.” I still stand by this all these months later. Readers respond to you when you write and post what you love. They can see through fake posts or the ones that you are writing simply for followers. At the end of the day, you started this blog for you, keep it going that way or you will fall out of love with it.

8. Is there anything you wish you could change about your blog?
My main thing I would like to change is I would like to go self-hosted so that I have full control over the design and layouts. Hopefully this is something that will be sorted over the next few weeks!

9. Recommend 2 fellow lifestyle bloggers.
It has to be the ladies I mentioned in Question 3.

10. Who would you tag next?
Hello Wonderful/Any Girl Friday/Imogen Writes Wellbeing

Enjoy ladies!

 

My rules for following the etiquette of blogging and social media

follow-usThe explosion of social media and the internet during my lifetime means that unlike our parents, the online generation have been exposed to a whole new world of social politics through Facebook, Twitter, Instagram and various other apps and sites. It’s actually crazy to think that in my lifetime, things have developed from that huge box computer in my dining room, which was ridiculously slow and blocked the phone line, to a world of laptops, iPads and smart phones. But it has happened, and with it has come a whole new social etiquette that can make or break friendships and career opportunities – as us bloggers know only too well.

twitter_follow_meNow there is the complicated web of retaining boundaries by separating personal accounts from professional, through dividing friends across Facebook and Twitter depending on your relationship, and even having a system for following people back. It’s just crazy that this is something we even have to think about – but I’ve noticed as my blog has grown over the last seven months that I have had to think more and more about these types of things, and I’m sure that many others have felt the same. So, after a lot of thought, I have come to a few conclusions over blogging social etiquette that I think might help out other bloggers who might have found themselves in a similar position.keep-calm-and-add-me-on-facebook-graphic

I’ve noticed that as my blog and social media sites grow with more followers, readers and comments daily, that while most of them are people interested in my writing and reading what I am putting out into the world, there are also a small proportion who are just interested in gaining more followers. This to me is just sad. I absolutely love when I get new followers because they have seen a post of mine or they have engaged in discussion of a topic with me. I love meeting other bloggers through the FBL and Lbloggers chats because we all engage with each other and talk about topics we share interests in. So when people just follow to ask for a follow back, or they follow you and if you haven’t returned the favour within 24 hours they unfollow you – I just find this a) incredibly rude and b) just plain ridiculous. I just don’t understand what these people think they are gaining by having high numbers of followers or “friends” who are not interested in what they have to say or are posting.

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Ironically, I received this email this morning..

I am lucky to have so many Facebook friends and Twitter followers because I have so many who do interacts with me on a daily basis both about day-to-day life and about my blog posts. I value my readers and appreciate their comments and feedback – so I just can’t understand why some would rather have faceless and nameless masses of followers who never speak up or give you any feedback.

So, I have made myself some new rules that I thought might also help my fellow bloggers:

 

  1. I will no longer be following back those who ask me to follow them, but if you ask me to check out your blog I will happily do so and if I like what I read I will return the favour, as I do often.
  2. If you comment or message me asking me to follow you so that you will follow me – it is an instant no-no because what is the point in that?
  3. If you follow me on Twitter, I will check out your Twitter and any blogs – if I like what you post and have to say, I will return the favour but only then. I love my newsfeeds on all of these sites because they show up the topics and information that I find interesting and inspiring. I refuse for them to be clogged up with spam and rubbish instead.
  4. I will continue – as I have always done – to leave three lovely comments on other bloggers’ sites every day. This is something I have done from the beginning because I think it encourages us to be more of a community and I love to give positive feedback to great posts. I expect nothing in return – just to have put a smile on someone’s face.
  5. I will very rarely become Facebook friends with those I meet through blogging or work – this is because I have a Facebook page for my blog and would prefer to use that. But also, because my personal Facebook page is for close friends, school friends and family. I will on occasion break this rule if I have become close friends with other bloggers – but this just helps me retain a little privacy.

follow-meI hope this hasn’t come across negatively, but I think that when we are all as busy as we are, not all of us have time to sift through the genuine followers and friends as well as the true ones. I would much rather spend my time talking to those who are genuinely interested in reading what I have to say and discussing it instead of those who just want to up their digits. I have a wonderful core following of readers and I appreciate every comment you leave, every tweet you send and every Facebook like. It is what keeps me writing these posts and excitedly waiting for feedback – everything you guys have to say is what fuels my mind and my hands to want to type the next piece. Thanks for all your feedback guys and I hope this post will help my fellow bloggers in making their own set of rules for dealing with the follow-back demands.

What other social media and blogging advice would you give? Comment below and you could be helping other bloggers.

Lacking inspiration? Take a break and find your mojo

4815205632_632ee48a71_zWriters all over the world will know exactly what I mean when I say that sometimes you just lose all inspiration. Even those who are not writers often reach points in their life when they simply don’t know which way to turn, or where to begin and just lose interest all together. Times like this are difficult, particularly if it affects your work or home life because this lack of motivation can be contagious. Writer’s block can be a killer, especially for bloggers when it takes them away from their hobby – the one thing that often helps them unwind. So what do you do when you’re all out of words? Here are my top tips for getting your writing mojo back again:

  1. Stop trying to force it – if you keep trying to put words on the page they will just get worse and worse. Give your brain, and your hands, the break they want.
  2. Get away from the screen – it’s not good for us to sit at a screen for hours on end. Give your eyes a break and head outside for fresh air and sunshine, try visiting somewhere new or head to the coast. I always feel inspired after a walk by the sea.
  3. Catch up with friends – if you write a lifestyle blog, why not see what issues your friends are facing and see if that inspires you for a new post. I find my friends and family are a great influence for my posts.
  4. Break your routine – need some new inspiration? Then find something new. Go somewhere different for your morning coffee, cycle to work instead of getting the bus, go for a walk along the river on your lunch break instead of shopping. You get the idea, do something unusual for you and you might find the subject of your new post.
  5. Get away – travel can be a great inspiration for posts, if you have the time and funds, why not book a holiday? If you don’t, why not a weekend away, visit friends or just go on a day trip to somewhere you’ve never been before.
  6. Try something new – why not start a new exercise class or learn something new – you could try that recipe you always wanted to. Doing something different is new and exciting, plus it will distract you from the pressure of writing, you could even meet new people who might inspire you to write.
  7. Delete the drafts – sometimes you will start to write the same essay or blog post several times, often all ending up in a crumpled heap in the bin. But some of us find it hard to delete these posts and start again from fresh, instead trying to re-energise the same tired introductions. If you’re feeling tied down by these drafts, why not delete them all and start afresh, you can use the same ideas but attack them in a different way.
  8. Don’t over-think it – often writers are also big thinkers and spend a lot of time in their own heads – I know I do – and this can actually harm the writing process at times. Don’t let yourself over-think the piece you are writing because you can easily overcomplicate the post when actually readers crave simplicity.
  9. Read, watch, listen to everything – one of the best ways to be provoked into writing is to experience the world around us, listen to music and read books, blogs, newspapers or anything you can get your hands on and watch television or films. All of these can raise big issues and questions for you to react to, you could offer reviews or you could just share your findings with your readers in recommendations.
  10. Invest in your creative space – for writers, especially freelance and bloggers, their desk and work area is very important to them. It is the place they often spend most time in and do their most creative work, so why are they often so boring and uninspiring? Invest in the space around you, choose a good desk and chair then fill the area with images and items that inspire you or prompt you to write.

Hope these tips have helped you as they have helped me in the past, especially when desperately trying to get over another roadblock in an essay at university. But they apply well to all writers, whether blogs, freelance, media, journalists or students.

Have you got any other suggestions? Leave me a comment and share them below.

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Tick tock says the clock – but how do you fit it all in?

I am the beginning of the end, and the end of time and space. I am essential to creation, and I surround every place. What am I?

I’ve had a few people comment lately on how I can possibly manage to fit everything I do into each week. One woman that I work with was astonished that I manage to work full time, write and edit a festival website, run a blog, go to the gym several times a week and get on with my NCTJ training as well as having a busy social life. Well, I can’t be the only person out there burning the candle at both ends to fit everything in, especially if you’re having to follow your passion outside of a job that is not quite as fulfilling as they might like. To be honest, I’m not entirely sure how I manage to do it and keep it going, but here are some of my top tips for keeping track of everything and managing your time well:

  1. Most importantly, buy a diary. Make sure it has plenty of space to write your jobs for each day and USE it. Don’t just stick to it for a week. If you tend to flit from job to job without finishing things then make sure you tick something off before you move onto the next thing. Set yourself the task of writing all your jobs for the day in each morning and then work your way through them – it might be hard at first, but after a while you’ll wonder how you ever managed without a diary for your appointments. It’s also great for keeping track of all your nights out, meals with friends, work do’s etc so that you don’t end up getting double-booked.
  2. The to-do list is very important when it comes to time management -you need to go into each day with a list of everything you must achieve in order to have any concept of how much you have achieved by the end of the day. Each morning when I arrive at work, I set myself a list of targets and jobs that need doing – no matter how small it is important to list them so you get the pleasure of a job well done when you tick it off your list. I then make sure any social engagements are listed and training time, then after this I list time for blogging/editing/writing. By setting it out into a new timetable each day, it is easy to change according to how demanding your work/social schedule happens to be that week – a steady timetable is hard to keep with if, like me, you are quite a spontaneous person.
  3. Refuse to give up your social life and the things you enjoy. It is important to stay balanced and spend time doing the things you enjoy as well as grafting, otherwise you lose your motivation and rewards system. The way to use this is to use the naughty step/Pavlov’s dogs theory of good behaviour = reward, while lack of work = punishment. Train yourself to understand that by putting the work in, you deserve your time to kick back and relax. I tend to spend three nights a week working on coursework, with the other two week nights spent at the gym and writing for my blog – these are my treat nights.
  4. Prioritise – you must always realise that the work you are being paid for and that which will pay off more in the long run (i.e. training) are more important – even if they are more boring or less satisfying. You are lucky to have a job in the current climate and must not let your work suffer because you want to stay up all night blogging. Be responsible and it will pay off.
  5. Use your lunch breaks wisely. I work in the town centre so it is bloody tempting to go out every lunchtime and spend my hard earned wages on useless crap or clothes I don’t need. I went through several months of this when I started, but now I am trying to make the most of the hour by using it to study my law books and shorthand, and blogging/editing the website. It means that spending an hour doing the website at work gives me an extra hour free when I am home in the evening to be spent at the gym or doing something else.
  6. Don’t feel bad for saying no. This is the hardest one for me, which I really struggle with even now. I hate disappointing people or letting them down by saying no to a social engagement – even if I really cannot afford it/have the time to do it. I always feel bad for letting people down, but when you have a lot of friends in different social groups, it is difficult to share out your limited social time between them. Let them know that they mean a lot to you and that you are sorry, then make plans to spend time with them in the coming weeks when you are a bit freer. Again, you could use the lunch breaks or gym time wisely by combining gossip catch up with a bite to eat or a workout. Look for ways to combine jobs and duties.
  7. No matter how much you love your blogging/writing/editing/creative activities, remember that they are solo activities. We humans are social creatures and you must remember to put the people in your life above all else every now and again – don’t miss out on social occasions because of a blog post that could have waited – you’ll regret it in the long run.
  8. Create a network of useful friends in similar fields – for example, I run the entertainment section of the newspaper and have worked hard to build a packed little black book of contacts in theatre, music, dance, arts etc – not only have I made the contacts, but I have maintained them by making the odd phone call to catch up, meeting for a quick coffee and so on, to make these contacts feel valued and to make sure that I am the first on their list when it comes to latest news and updates. By doing small and steady amounts to maintain these friendships, they pay off a lot by providing me with plenty of material for each week’s paper without my hours of searching for stories.
  9. Put yourself first every once in a while. It is easy to get swept up in keeping all these jobs going and making sure you are up to speed with everything. It’s bloody exhausting. Give yourself a little time off every now and again. A few days away from all work, no checking emails, stay off social networks and keep your mind on other things. Relax and forget it all.
  10. The second most important thing – you must want to do it. So many people fail to fit everything in because they lack the motivation and can’t really be bothered. You have to really want to do everything and to want to do it well – otherwise you will end up doing an average job at everything rather than impressing in all areas. And no-one wants to be average!

Hope these tips help you – this was all I could think of. But I really think it is down to the individual as we all have our own ways of working efficiently. What works for me might not suit you, and vice versa. What is your top tip for managing your time well?

 

(And the answer to the riddle is the letter E)

 

 

Happy Blogger!

Less than three full weeks of blogging on here and I already have 20 followers! I’m so pleased to know people are reading my blog and my thoughts and that I’ve had such a great response in such a short time. It proves my move from Tumblr to WordPress was a good one and definitely one I plan to stick to. Thanks to everyone who has followed my blog, liked any posts and shared my writing with others.