Monday, 18 January 2016

7 Things I Wish I Knew At The Beginning of This Blog

Blogging is amazing, guys. You write down whatever you feel like writing, something funny, heartfelt or honest. You take some awesome photos to go with it and you post it for people to read and appreciate. You get to chat to other lovely bloggers on Twitter and get inspiration from their brilliant posts. Honestly, I don't know why more people blog, its so therapeutic but still so productive. I've been blogging for nearly two years now and I'm learning more with every post, however as a younger blogger there are so many things that could have made my progress a lot smoother if I'd learned them earlier!

Photos are everything. A blog post is never complete without a clean, bright picture to illustrate it. People are far more likely to click on a link accompanied by a decent picture, especially on Bloglovin. Oh I wish I knew this rather than just using nothing or random stuff off Google images. I went into blogging knowing absolutely nothing about photography. I still don't know that much but I have learned everything I do know from those "6 Tips for Better Photos" posts. 

Now I actually have a routine, wait for the 5 minutes of daylight we get during winter, arrange things attractively, up the contrast and exposure, add text and finally make sure its wide enough. Seems pretty easy now but I hadn't a clue back in 2014. 

Writing is your thing, work on it. It took me way too long to figure out what kind of blog posts I was good at, hence the weird collection of posts right at the beginning, including my most popular post of all time, Kylie Jenner Street Style. .... I know ... I feel the same but apparently I didn't two years ago and its maintained its position at the top of my popular posts since then because internet people love googling those Jenner sisters. Now I think I've found the posts that make me proud and funnily enough, they are the ones where the main feature is the writing. 

Make friends. It's all very well having a Twitter account to promote your posts but you should really follow other bloggers on there to really benefit from it! This is actually pretty hard if you don't know of the community as you don't know where to start! I think I just searched #bloggers and then found one of the chats. Now though, I think its easiest to get involved in #TheGirlGang because you're sure to meet so many awesome and positive people. It takes a while but you won't regret it once you are following a fantastic group of bloggers.

Make sure your timeline is somewhere you love scrolling through by following lots and lots of brilliant people, bloggers and otherwise, this means there will always be awesome content to see when you log in. A huge bugbear of mine is when people insist on having a "good ratio", as in they make sure to only follow a certain number of people in proportion to your own followers. This is understandable when you have over a thousand followers but I don't really get it when you only have 100? It's probably explained in some memo about appearing popular and aloof that I never got!

Be creative. Favourites posts are nice and all but I didn't really come out of my comfort zone for a while because of them. Once I started trying out new ideas and taking risks in my posts, I really started taking pride in my blog. I recently made myself a rule not to post anything that I might feel a little bit embarrassed about if someone from school said that they had read it. 

Promote Promote Promote. The internet is a huge place. People won't find your new post if you don't tell them about it! It's worth signing up to Bloglovin and tweeting out your latest posts often, something I'm still rubbish at as I only post once a week nowadays and am still nervous about spamming people's feeds. Buffer is amazing for scheduling and queuing tweets and it doesn't hurt to look at your analytics. 

Read other peoples blogs. Be open to influence and read blog tips, its so helpful and you can find all the things that you like in a blog and apply them to your own. As long as you don't completely model your blog on someone else's, its awesome to take inspiration from other blogs. I like to think that I haven't lost my own style of blogging but it has developed so much to be slicker and just a lot better!

Do not worry or feel sad about progress, it's all relative. I used to get pretty hung up over "progress", how much other people's blogs had grown compared to mine. Now luckily I realise that everyone is at different points in their life when starting a blog. When I feel a bit inadequate as a blogger I have to remember that I am younger than most bloggers and many of them would have already known many of the above things when starting out. As long as you are proud of your work and you know that it is growing, no matter how slowly, there is no need to worry!

Despite all of this, I wouldn't change a single thing in my time blogging. You never know, I might have never got to this point if I hadn't written all those favourites posts or even that one about Kylie Jenner!

What would you tell yourself if you could go back to when you started blogging? 

Have a wonderful week!
Hattie xo

Monday, 11 January 2016

A Year In Books | 2015

2015 was a pretty great year for me, as I explained in my last post here. One of the things that define a year for me, when looking back, are the books that I read and the authors that I discovered. I took the Goodreads Reading Challenge and initially set my goal at 40 books before increasing that to 50 because I was feeling ambitious and overly confident. I fell just short of my target in the end, mainly due to a significant drop in my reading during my December revision period. It was still a lot more than I expected, 47 books in a year isn't too shabby! This year I've set it at 40, hopefully increasing that when it gets to my extended summer holiday so hopefully there will be plenty of book posts on the way in 2016. Today I want to share with you the best books I read last year, the ones that have really stuck in my memory. 

January - A Tale For The Time Being by Ruth Ozeki. (x) I received this for Christmas last year and read it on my New Year trip to Boston so it brings back really lovely memories of that time. It's about a Japanese girl called Nao whose profoundly honest and heart wrenching diary is found by Ruth, having travelled all the way across the ocean. I remember feeling really peaceful reading this book; I loved the philosophical side of it and Nao is such an incredible character, her pain cuts deep into you when you read it. I'm definitely going to reread this book soon. 

April - Yes Please by Amy Poehler. (x) Another book with a fond memory, this time of my ski trip with school. I hadn't really seen much of Amy Poehler's work before reading this, Estee from Essie Button had been raving about it so I decided to give it a go. It is so funny and makes me want to slam my fist down and shout "hell yeah!" It encouraged me to binge watch her show Parks and Rec on one of my flights to China and I absolutely love how silly but still smart it is! Her stories from when she was doing improv comedy for a living were so interesting to me; I highly recommend this book!

May - All The Bright Places by Jennifer Niven. (x) This was an emotional read for sure, it was one of those where you have an idea of how the story will pan out and then its all changed in as little as a paragraph. I don't know whether I'd read it again soon but I remember that I really enjoyed it at the time.

June - I'll Give You The Sun by Jandy Nelson. (x) I remember that I really connected to the characters in this book and that it was a really enjoyable read! I wrote a review for the Guardian Teen Books site that you can read here.

July - Not That Kind Of Girl by Lena Dunham. (x) This is another book that has good memories attached, this book was my companion on the long overnight train journeys in China. Lena Dunham fascinates me, through her refreshing honesty and upfront nature about pretty much everything in her life. You never feel like she's sugarcoating or glossing over anything and the result is a collection of brilliant essays straight from Lena's brain.

November - Carry On by Rainbow Rowell. (x) I enjoyed this book so much, Rainbow Rowell is such a great YA author. I wrote a little bit about it here

December - Needlework by Deidre Sullivan. (x) This was the last book I read in 2015 and boy did it have an impact! It's such a beautiful and poetic book but also really dark and often a painful read. Nevertheless its a fantastic novel and I highly recommend it. 

Have a wonderful week!
Hattie xo