Words of encouragement in 2015

inspirational quote

In 2014 I felt like I had a blogging epiphany. I stopped worrying what other people thought and found my voice.

I realised, writing a blog, working around my children, making a stranger smile when they commented on a post or photo, feels pretty amazing. I started this blog almost 3 years ago, with absolutely no expectations. I never dared believe it would be read by people in other parts of the world and I'd see my photo in magazines.

I want to pinch myself almost every day. 

And I wanted to share some words of encouragement (Tips always sounds like I claim to know what I am doing!) for other bloggers or perhaps for people with their own, or starting their own, business this year.

In 2015 - Do Not Compare 

Healthy competition is good. Light hearted sibling rivalry between bloggers can be entertaining, if you are watching from the sidelines. But I've seen too much negativity this year. Snide comments, sad face emojis, down right blatant bitchiness. Over the internet, in public. It's not big and it's not clever. 

You are a published author, every time you hit save and post. You influence people, you make people laugh. You inspire others. 

I have felt so disheartened to see bloggers upset over rankings. Especially when the comments start with "I don't understand, I've had my best month on Twitter, the most engagement on Facebook..." I want to scream and say, that's is amazing! That is the statistic you should care about! YOUR stats, YOUR readers are listening! 

Your readers and followers care about YOU. Not who is 5 places above you in a scoreboard.

Over this year I have stopped checking how many followers I have compared to others, stopped checking my traffic figures on a daily basis. It was just habit. 30 days to make a habit, 30 days to break a habit! Instead when I check my analytics on a weekly basis, I look at what was most popular, where people are being referred from, what posts get the most engagement, and I try to use those metrics to shape and influence my content.

frosty hydrangea

In 2015 - Show You Care

Be kinder.

It makes you feel nicer. Thank the people who support your blog. 

If you see someone on Twitter or Facebook having a rubbish day, cheer them up. Usually just a friendly reply is enough to make that person feel a little better. 

This year I took part in the Oh Comely Perfect Strangers Project. One box, a £10 guide, to a stranger. There was this incredible wave of collective kindness that surged around the internet. People were emailed their swap partner and set about making a little box of goodies. People, baked, knitted, created, sourced and supported other makers and crafters. I was blown away when I received my parcel. My swap partner had poured so much effort, especially for me, into the prettiest package I have ever been sent. 

Oh Comely will be running the project again in May but I would love to do something similar, if any of you would like to join in?! A little Springtime surprise between us all. A £5 guide, a sweet parcel, to make someone's day a little brighter. 

If you fancy joining in, pop your email here for more details when the daffodils start to bloom!

In 2015 - Have The Confidence To Share

Sharing doesn't mean you give away your trade secrets. It means you are helping to inspire others. 

If you make lovely videos, share how you edit them, where you source the music from. It doesn't take anything away from your videos. If you love taking photos, share some behind the scenes shots, if someone commented that they thought your posts was beautifully captured, share how you snapped it, what editing program you use, what phone apps you love?

Have confidence in your own style. Be proud of what you write, what you make, what you sell.

I write this blog as part of my work, it's grown from a hobby, a personal diary, and that is absolutely fine! I can't say that I write just for me, because I write for me, for Rich, for Sammy and Ollie. I am immensely proud of the collaborations and brands I have featured over the last year and will continue to be cautious about who I promote to my readers. To make sure I work with like minded companies, who value the effort I put into my sponsored posts and who I can form a lasting relationship with. 

frosty petals

Don't be shy about the fact that your blog is your business. Don't be embarrassed. People blog for lots of different reasons and that is what makes the internet a more interesting place. 

This year I am so excited to speak at a number of events. On the 7th March I will be hosting a hands on photography workshop at Blog On Cymru in Cardiff. It's the first time the conference has been run in Cardiff and I can't wait to share my props and talk through everything I have learnt over the last few year, to help you get more creative and have fun with your photography. 

In June I will be speaking again at one of the biggest blog conferences in the country. I have something different planned for this year, so watch this space...

I am also in cahoots with an incredibly talented photographer in London, to co host a creative day focussing on food photography. But we need to figure out a couple more details before I can share any more!

I'm hoping that by the Summer, I will have cleared out the workshop and be ready to host a very small group at my home. A day to learn from each other, drink flowery cocktails and play with props we can snip from the garden. It might just be a dream at the moment, but you have to start somewhere!

winter frost

In 2015 - Remember Being A Super Blogger is Rare

No one is superman, or woman for that matter. No one. 

It may look like it from the highlights and show reel that they share on their Instagram feed, but behind that carefully chosen and edited photo is a pile of washing that hasn't been put away for weeks, a rotting bag of salad that's been forgotten about in the bottom of the fridge and children, who despite crafting their little fingers off in a Facebook news feed, actually spend far too much time on a phone or tablet. How many of us will admit that there are too many days that start with your children waking up and you giving them your phone, to give you just a few more minutes peace? 

But it doesn't make you a bad person! People who are often referred to of the super variety, are juggling too much. Squeezing one more thing into each day and creating the illusion that they must have 28 hours in their day compared to everyone else's 24. 

You don't have to be good at everything. 

I've spent a lot of time in 2014 trying to turn my hand to new challenges, often feeling like I am doing a little of everything, but nothing very well. 

I've realised I don't have to flood my blog with the latest trends, I don't have to have a YouTube channel. I am most comfortable with my camera. I love talking into a microphone, in the comfort of one of Rich's hoodies and I miss publishing my podcast. So instead of reading lots of posts which terrify me, because this is apparently the year of the something or other, I am going to stick to what I enjoy most. And hopefully my readers will enjoy it too. 

"Nothing great was ever achieved without enthusiasm." 

Ralph Waldo Emerson

frosty petals

Happy New Year. We all start the new year with the word happy. Let's try and stay happy, whatever life may throw at us, whatever sadness or challenges we may experience over the next 12 months. Look for the positive, and if you can't find it, reach out to someone.

Here's to health, happiness and helping each other in 2015.