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Saturday, 2 December 2017

How I Got My Blogging Sh*t Together

Untitled I'm writing this post for a few reasons. One, I have all the notebooks, organisers and calendars in the world, and despite my best efforts, I'm not any more organised. And two, because despite that admission, I've scheduled my blog two months in advance. So with what few pearls of wisdom I have, I thought I'd share how I got here. Granted I've not won a nobel peace prize, but I have managed to achieve something, albeit small, that may help one or two along the way.

First of all what you need to remember, is everyone's different. Their lifestyle, situation, responsibilities. Some bloggers are younger, are students, are older, have children, have a full-time job to balance alongside. And you need to give yourself credit for starting and maintaining a blog at all. Despite the odd misconception you may hear or have thrown at you about blogging being 'easy' and 'just about the free stuff', easy it ain't. Or free whilst we're on it. So before you feel guilty about not putting finger to keyboard for a while, breathe, relax and give yourself a pat on the back. You go girl (or guy!).

For me, it wasn't having a blogging calendar that gave me the kick up the a*se I needed. I wish it was, because it cost me a small fortune. Whilst the control freak in me rejoiced at filling out a month by month schedule of content, did I follow it? A big fat no. And I've been ignoring my pricey organiser like a bad break up. I don't know where it went wrong between us, but it did. Maybe 2018 will be the year we reconnect, who knows...

But that's not to say that won't work for you. For me, if it's not something I'll have on me daily as a reminder, I simply won't remind myself. So I have got one of those pocket diaries for next year in the *hope* I actually carry the damn thing around. Being a perfectionist though, whether that diary will be my blogging prompt, I'm pessimistic. Why? Because like anything in life, life changes things. Whilst I can schedule away to my heart's content, I might be invited to review THE most amazing brunch venue that I simply want to shout about to you all, but not 9 weeks from now. So I might wanna go and rejig my schedule list. And do you know what that does to paper diaries? It RUINS THEM. It's like when you were in school and you made a mess of the first page of your workbook. No-one wants that.

I guess what could resolve that is simply using a bloody pencil Stacey, but I haven't had a HB lying around the house in a while and I find electronic is just more suited to me. When I'm planning, I approach it with the same methodology as I do with my work blog. Look at key dates (if that's what you want to do) and think about the timeliness of your posts and what your readers will be in the mind-frame for. Traditionally come Saturday and Sunday morning, I'm thinking about breakfast or brunch. I say traditionally because I'll come clean, I'm always thinking about brunch. I wish I'd listened to my mum all of those years ago when she tried to drill into me that it was the most important meal of the day. Cheers Chris. I'm now a convert. Whereas come 8pm on a Tuesday, I'm *less* inclined to think of a fry up. That'll help with your social media scheduling too.

Speaking of which, I find using a social media scheduler AMAZING. I use Tweetdeck and it's great because you can easily schedule all your posts with imagery attached and it'll just run in the background and do its thing. You don't get those annoying push notifications asking you to put it live, it just does the job. So if you want to take that stress away and get super organised, I really recommend using one of these.

But despite all of these little tips and tricks, what one thing helped change my ways? Putting my life first. I've run this blog for over 5 years now, and it's changed, grown and evolved, just like me. I started whilst I was at university (where I hated it) and it was my escape. I had a lot of time to put into a new project, and that I did. I posted a ridiculous amount of times and fell in love with blogging. I went to events, met new people and got my name out there a little. Then I landed my job at boohoo where I still am. At first, I was commuting to and from work and trying to maintain this little thing. Back then I was primarily a fashion blogger taking snaps of my outfits in what hours of daylight I had at the weekend. And don't get me wrong, I loved it. But it took FOREVER. And my neighbours, probably to this day, think I'm a little weird. Fashion blogging looks a lil strange when you're from a tiny village in the country. Luckily my family put up with my annoying requests for '10 more minutes' when we had a Sunday roast reservation at our local pub. God bless 'em. But as I fell more in love with my job, and more tired from the commute, blogging did take a little back seat.

Eventually after two years of Northern Rail hell (we still don't have a great relationship), I moved into the city so I could walk to work every day and reclaim some time in my life back. And blogging did become a whole lot easier. I stopped the fashion side of things because I lost the passion for that as I got to get my fix each day at work. And plus, my style is a mix of the same seven things - nothing much new here guys! But again, as I became immersed in the Manchester life, new friends etc, my frequency lowered. I only need to look at this year's blog month roll to see how little I've written, which for someone with a love of writing, is bizarre right?

This year, like every other year, I set myself the same resolution: 'to be happy.' And sometimes being happy can be a little selfish as you have to say no to things or put yourself first. And I've been a little selfish this year neglecting this blog. I've networked, made even more friends, gone out, got drunk (only occasionally mum...), danced, laughed, loved and most importantly, lived. And whilst a part of me should feel guilty for neglecting this space a little, I don't. Why? Because the key to me getting ahead with scheduling, is putting my life first. My friends first, my family first and simply living first. Because it's all of those experiences that actually shape my content calendar. It's as simple as that. It clicked one day. My life is my blog, without me even realising it.

I eat brunch on the weekly. I can write about that. I've been to many a city for fun. There's a city break post. I've had my heart broken. Put finger to keyboard Stace. And that's my secret. Just simply taking a step back and taking things back to basics. Whilst I still might write about the same lipstick that half a dozen other bloggers post about, I hope my personality shines through. And that's something I'd also advocate you do. Be you. Unexplainably. I'm sarcastic, (hopefully) positive and like to write to anyone who reads this, how I speak to my friends. I want to be relatable and give you my experiences honestly and openly.

And that's how I know what to write about and what to avoid. If I have that burning desire to tell that story. There's been times I've not been able to sleep until I've logged on and sprawled my thoughts on my little macbook. And I hope that passion never dies. It's different of course, if blogging is your job, but for me, whilst it's a hobby and a path I embarked on for the love, and never for the money or free things, I'll only write about the things that I want to. Or go to the events I feel passionate about. Because your time is precious. There was a time I was at an event every night of the week, and believe me, it was fun. But as I get older, I want to be at home or see my mum and dad or my friends or partner. So that when I *do* go to events, they're that bit more special.

So in summary, she says like it's an essay, find what works for you. Ask yourself why you're doing this. What do you want to gain from this? What sparks that fire inside of you? Go do that. Don't accept every free thing that comes your way unless you have the time and energy to review them all, as you want to keep good relationships with PRs. The way I approach it? I ask myself one thing: would I naturally go here, use that product, or shop with that brand. If so, I'll move forward with them. Because I want to be authentic. Because this is *my* blog after all, and I'll write what I want to.

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