Thursday was the seventh anniversary of publishing my first blog post…how things have changed! Well, actually some things have remained constant – namely my love of fashion – but others have changed beyond recognition. When I started blogging I was completely clueless when it came to technology. While I have still have lots to learn, I’ve managed to get my head around aspects of blogging that once completely baffled me. What began as infrequent posts featuring quick outfit snaps taken on my phone has become more like a job. But I mean that in a good way!
I find the end of Summer/beginning of Autumn the ideal time to re-evaluate and look ahead to new goals. Having a blog anniversary coincide with the changing of the seasons is fortuitous in that respect. Looking back on seven years of blogging there are things I wish I’d done differently, but it’s all a learning process. Everyone learns the most valuable stuff “on the job”, whatever that job is. Blogging is no different. One thing I do know is that other bloggers are the best source of information, and the blogging community is like an extended family. If you have a question, put it out there on social media and the help comes flooding in. The support from other bloggers is amazing!
There aren’t too many things I wish I’d done differently, but the main one is regarding web hosting. When I started out I chose Typepad for as my blog’s platform because I didn’t realise you could have a vanity URL with Blogger. It soon dawned on me that I was basically paying for something I could get for free with Blogger, and moving to self-hosted seemed like an immense challange. Actually it wasn’t; when I finally got my act together and took blogging more seriously I just got on with it. I bought a template from Pipdig, who were incredibly helpful and made the whole process easy. Afterwards I was kicking myself for not doing it sooner!
In my defence though, we’d had a tumultuous 18 months of living apart, starting new jobs and relocating to a different part of the country. During that time Pete was living at his mum’s and working in Manchester while I was back in Nottingham with Isobel, so I had no photographer. Using the timer function on the camera and a makeshift tripod (I don’t recommend!) became my only option! When I was forced to take a career break (due to my new job not being compatible with childcare) it galvanised me into focusing more on blogging. I decided at that point that the time was right to take it up a level…and that meant getting my head around social media.
At the start, I was just basically talking to myself. I would write a post, hit publish and nobody read it apart from me and my husband. I just didn’t feel comfortable promoting myself on social media…and to be honest, I didn’t really know how to anyway. Learning all about hashtags, Twitter chats, blog hops, link ups – it was all a mystery to me. The first link up I participated in was Jess’s Turning Heads Tuesday, and I’m sure that was the breakthrough I needed in becoming part of the 40+ blogging community. I may have been in my late 30s when I started blogging, but it was only when I hit my 40s that I felt like a “proper blogger”. Life begins at 40 and all that.
Staying on top of the developments in social media is a big part of being a blogger. I work in TV and it’s both exciting, and a little alarming, at how quickly social media platforms are encroaching on the territory of traditional forms of media. Have we reached peak saturation? Will people still be watching TV in 10 years time, or will everyone be glued to their phones watching beauty tutorials/toy openings/cats doing funny things? This topic dominates many conversations among my colleagues. Will YouTube (or something similar) kill off TV? Will blogging be replaced by vlogging? One thing’s for sure, you have to be ready and willing to adapt.
The marketing power that bloggers/influencers have now is being recognised by companies. The challenge for us all – collectively – is to stay honest and transparent. It only takes one high profile influencer to be caught out being dishonest for the whole community to be tainted. One thing I always keep in mind is that the trust of your followers is everything. It takes time to build up but can be destroyed in one bad decision. Honesty is always the best policy, even if it means posting a less-than-glowing review of a product.
I have a big list of things to do, but in order to achieve those I need to manage my time better. Shooting more than one outfit in a day, batch editing photos, scheduling time to reply to comments and participate in link ups will help me get back on track. I’ve been struggling to do half of what I need to do lately, so better time management is essential…if you have any tips please send them my way! When the new school year starts I’ll have fewer interruptions so that will help.
On the subject of kids, I know Isobel would love to do more “mummy and me” outfit posts (like this one). She’s now nine and is very into fashion so we will make this a regular feature. I’m sure it won’t be long before she’s actually wearing my clothes! Becoming a mum was what prompted me to start blogging in the first place, so it seems only right that she’s a part of it now.
Replying to emails seems to take up more time than ever recently, particularly the ones from people who basically want something for nothing. I’m sure you all get them too…you don’t reply immediately so they bombard you with passive-agressive follow up emails pushing their “amazing” offer of a poor quality infographic (in return for a follow link of course), or $5 for a blog post. Yeah, they really bug me. I’m starting to be more direct with these chancers and let them know I wasn’t born yesterday…this is a blog for mature women after all so they should know that!
Learning to say no is one thing, but having the courage to say yes to opportunities – even when they push me way out of my comfort zone – is something I’m getting better at. Taking a ride in the Seabreacher was something I’d never have done if it wasn’t for this blog, and it was a blast! Remember the bucket list I shared? Well for my birthday Pete bought me a race track experience (after reading the post, so drop those hints ladies!). I can’t wait to burn some rubber in a Lamborghini!
One thing that I’m determined to do in the next couple of months is a design tweak and rebranding. As well as being a TV director and vision mixer my husband also does graphic design, so I need to pin him down (so to speak) to help me with this. I’d love to do it all myself but, you know, why have a dog and bark yourself? 😉
I’m sure you’ll all agree that one of the best (if not THE best) things about blogging is meeting up with other bloggers IRL. Going to the 3040 Blogger Meet Up still stands out as one of the highlights of my whole blogging career (if that’s the right word). I got to meet up with so many fabulous bloggers who I’d been following for years…even now I smile when I think about that day 🙂 So, when an email offering early bird tickets for the Blogosphere Festival landed in my inbox I didn’t hesitate in buying one. It’s in Marylebone, London on December 1st, so if you’re going too let me know and we can meet up!
Producing good quality YouTube content is top of my long term goals (I’ve said it here now so I have to do it, right?). Working in TV I don’t really have an excuse not to, other than time constraints (which goes back to scheduling my time more effectively). I’d like to include this in my immediate plans but I have to be realistic. The plan is to set up a space in the wooden cabin at the end of my garden to use as a set; I just have to move the bikes, old toys and spiders lurking in every corner!
In terms of content I feel it’s inevitable that I will gradually steer the blog towards ethical fashion and beauty. Since becoming vegan last year I’ve continued to question my choices when it comes to what I buy and consume. This doesn’t stop at food; as I’ve discovered, there’s so much more to veganism than simply not consuming animal products. But it’s an ongoing process, one of perpetual learning and refinement. I always keep in mind the Maya Angelou quote “Do the best you can until you know better. Then when you know better, do better.” There’s a difference between not knowing and not wanting to know. As long as we are prepared to learn and change our patterns of consumption we can all make a positive change.