How To Overcome Writer’s Block As A Blogger

How To Overcome Writer’s Block As A Blogger

1. Write something no one else will see.

My paralysis when it comes to writing usually stems from the fact I know others will be reading it. These days, everything we do – especially as bloggers – is crafted for an audience. Blog posts, tweets, Instagram captions… and it doesn’t matter if there are 5 people or 500 people reading it, the fact it’s someone other than you can be intimidating. And, sometimes, that gets the better of us.

So write something, safe in the knowledge you’re the only person who is going to see it. Destroy it afterwards if you want to. Write about anything. Your childhood. Your day. One of your favourite songs. It doesn’t really matter.

A couple of times I’ve done this and they’ve actually turned into blog posts. Some of my most popular ones, at that. Though that somewhat defeats the point of the activity, I was so proud of what I’d been able to create without fear holding me back, I was keen to share it.

Other times, it has made absolutely no sense and I’m glad it will never be seen again.

2. Try a less intense activity. 

Blogging requires hard work and focus. Between writing, SEO and creating/selecting graphics, it’s not always the most relaxing thing to do. I sometimes think the amount of work which goes into it is what causes us to procrastinate.

Instead of sitting and staring at the page in front of you, do something that requires little thought. Have a bath. Go for a walk. Watch Netflix. Basically, stop trying to force it and take a breather. Just be wary this break doesn’t descend into a semi-permanent hiatus…

Stationery and art supplies including paints, pencils and notebooks

3. Do another creative task.

I recently discovered that doing something else creative can bring inspiration for blogging. For example, while I’m busy colouring in, my mind will wander and all of a sudden, there’s a blog post forming in my head. Though it’s a different type of creativity, it puts me in that mindset and can work wonders!

If it’s not going to look completely out of place in your blog, you could even write a post about whatever activity you choose.

4. Read…

A) Books.

I’ve found that reading something tends to spark a bit of creativity. Sometimes, it reignites my love of words; of expression. Other times, reading someone else’s thoughts and experiences stirs emotions in me which are good to channel into my own work.

It’s all well and good saying that, but what do you read? I, personally, turn to books I know and love. Others dive into something new. Try both and see what happens!

The only word of caution I would give with this one is that, although it’s perfectly fine to be inspired by others, be conscious of not losing your own voice. If you write something in the aftermath of reading, be sure to compare it with previous posts to make sure it sounds like you – not the author you’ve just read!

B) Other blogs.

Have you ever read a blog post, and wanted to leave a mini essay as a comment because you had so much to say on the topic? Other blogs can encourage us to open up about our own experiences – use that energy and put it into a blog post.

Or, it could be the opposite situation – you disagree with what was said. To use this post as an example, if you get to the end of it and think “none of these ways have ever worked for me” but have your own ways to overcome writer’s block, make a post on the subject. You may have the answers someone else is looking for.

Laptop and sketchbook

5. Get off social media.

I notice a BIG difference in creativity levels depending on how much time I spend on social media.

When I spend a lot of time on social media, my head gets full with what I’ve been seeing. Despite my best attempts not to, I take a lot of it on board. Consequently, any ideas are pushed to the back. Social media stifles my creativity a lot, it seems.

When I take a few days away, or when I reduce the amount of time on there, a lot of the clutter falls away. Then I find my ideas can wriggle their way to the front of my mind.

6. Take a blogging break.

It’s better to take some time out to recharge your batteries than to churn out content you’re not happy with. If you’ve already generated a lot of content, it’s natural to hit a block. Let your readers know you’re taking some time out, and set a date for your return. You can always use social media scheduling to keep older content circulating in the mean time.

Take a few days and implement some of the previous suggestions. Write down any ideas that may pop up, but don’t necessarily dive into working on them straight away. Allow yourself the breathing space!

7. Stop putting pressure on yourself.

As the saying goes “done is better than perfect.” I nitpick my posts beyond belief – it’s a miracle any of them are published on time. As I know I’m going to do this, it takes some of the fun out of the process. That said, blogging should be fun! So, try to put the perfectionist on pause, and enjoy yourself.

8. Explore Pinterest for inspiration.

If you search “blog post ideas” in Pinterest, you’ll be met with numerous suggestions. There are hundreds! Some are niche specific, and others can be tweaked to fit in with any blog. Browse through, make a note of any which could work for you, and go from there.

If you haven’t delved into the world of Pinterest yet, that’s not a problem. Do the same thing with Google instead.

How To Overcome Blogger's Block
8 Ways To Overcome Writer's Block
Battling With Blogger's Block?

What’s your top tip to overcome writer’s block?

Why I Won’t Be Participating In The UK Blog Awards Again

Why I Won’t Be Participating In The UK Blog Awards Again

I know what you’re thinking. Is this really coming from the same person who pleaded with us to vote for our favourites?

Yup.

It seems I was naive. Consider this a lesson learned.

At the time of writing the previous post, I truly believed it would be fair. It looked good on paper, and I was optimistic. When I was nominated, I was ecstatic. Upon discovering I was through to the voting stages, I was emotional. It was something I was eager to see come to fruition.

Then I read this post by The Bloglancer and some concerns started creeping in. I considered things from a new perspective, and approached with caution.

Then, since the voting process began, everything has gone downhill.

Let’s preface this.

This isn’t on the basis of being bitter. This was my first year of blogging. I didn’t expect to be nominated, or reach the finals. I’m not going to say I didn’t want to, because I did. Despite how things have turned out, I remain grateful for the opportunity, and the support I received.

Then things started happening, and my confidence in the UK Blog Awards started to dwindle. I tried to give them the benefit of the doubt, because I respected them. Time and time again, though, they fell short of expectations.

No system is perfect. You can’t please everyone. But to get it so badly wrong? That’s something else entirely.

This post is on the back of how things have been handled, the mess that it’s been since November, and the shameful lack of communication.

I’m also willing to admit that, yes, I am a little angsty about some of the other bloggers who have been overlooked. My opinion isn’t the be all and end all, but these are individuals I was confident would be there because they are admired throughout the community, and because they’re fantastic at what they do.

I’m not going to rehash every mistake.

Most of you will already know, and the rest probably aren’t interested. If this was their first year, then I would have been more understanding. After six years, though, I feel they should know better.

I wrote a thread on Twitter, and plenty of people echoed my sentiments, but there was no response. There was opportunity to go some way in redeeming themselves, and they chose to bury their head in the sand.

Bear in mind, this is a big deal to a lot of people, especially newer bloggers. It was new to them, and there were new elements to the process for seasoned bloggers, too. We were anxious, we were excited and, understandably, perhaps a bit restless. A lack of communication meant this quickly transcended into confusion, and, in turn, frustration.

Now, it’s easy to say “it shouldn’t matter, what’s the big deal – awards don’t define your content”, and I do agree with that. Yet, during the process, you get swept up in it. There’s a chance to receive recognition for your work, and that should be a good thing.

Open laptop with white flowers and gold dotted notebook

I appreciate they experimented with new systems, and new procedures.

I know technology is unpredictable. This is all well and good, but when things failed, it seemed increasingly more difficult to get hold of anyone to find out information. People were left in the dark.

I know they have since released the judging criteria which may have been helpful to some. But it’s a struggle for me to have respect for an organisation that claims to be in favour of bloggers, yet messes them around, and doesn’t offer so much as an apology for their conduct.

The feedback I gave them was well-intentioned, and I did my best to make that clear. I am of the opinion that feedback is helpful to learn, and to grow, and wanted them to acknowledge it for next year.

Of course, they didn’t. They were happy enough to retweet and like tweets which sang their praises, or anything in their defence. To respond to justifiably unhappy individuals? Nope.

And the thing is, is that they won’t do that while people passively accept or, worst yet, blindly praise them regardless of their actions. It’s a case of if they can get away with it, they will. I don’t really care who you are – if you mess up repeatedly, you should be held accountable. Especially when you fail a community you represent.

I can’t agree with an organisation that claims to celebrate the diversity in the blogging community, yet…

1) The majority of the finalists are white.
2) Almost all have self-hosted blogs.
3) The fashion finalists are all female, and there’s not a single plus size girl amongst them.
4) Several of the finalists are “big names”, who have several opportunities under their belt.
5) In some categories, the finalists’ blogs all look exactly the same.

With the first three points, it is possible that that reflects who entered. Without access to that information, it’s difficult to draw definitive conclusions, but it is a point of interest for me. The last two points, though, are a little more dubious.

Does that really represent the broad talent across the community? I don’t think so. Then again, it’s tricky when the marks are based on 3 blog posts, and 3 bits of criteria. A year’s worth of work for most people came down to their three most recent posts at the time of marking.

Having one judge per category is bound to cause issues. No matter how impartial someone aspires to be, they have their tastes and will naturally be drawn to certain things more than others. This is nothing against the judges as people, it’s simply how humans are. I’d be just as guilty as it of anyone else.

This was pitched as a level playing field; it was presented as an opportunity for all, but it’s difficult to believe that.

Small camera, computer keyboard, white pencil and white calculator

As for numbers not being a contributing factor, I’d like to give you some figures to mull over.

The average Instagram following in lifestyle was 5800. In fashion, 7000. Beauty was 9800. Culinary was way up there with 13,500. Oh, and in Parenting and Baby, there was a finalist with 811,000. Yep, you read that right. Though that one is extreme, there were several others in that category beyond the 10k mark.

I’m not saying those individuals don’t deserve their follower numbers. But, at some stage, you have to admit that popularity comes into it somewhere, and it’s harder for new talent to emerge amongst established names.

The vote, supposedly, counted for very little, with a 40% role in the total, and 60% from the judges. Why have it at all? Any voting system is open to abuse and puts anyone with low numbers at a disadvantage. It instantly becomes a popularity contest. (In the interest of fairness, I will say that this isn’t the case in every category. Some are better balanced than others.)

It is questionable to me, though, that these votes can’t be revealed because it’s “too much work.” I would have thought these statistics would be readily available in a voting system? I don’t know – that argument just doesn’t sit right with me. Once again, it demonstrates a lack of transparency.

Throw into that the fact that, as it turns out, there’s not one big event, but a few smaller ones, a dinner for the winners, and just an Instagram live ceremony? While this may work out better for the people involved (and I hope it does), I’m confused as to why this wasn’t made clear previously. This information only came to light in emails to the finalists.

It’s unfair to use this as a basis to tell bloggers to “work harder.”

On the one hand, we have people saying it doesn’t matter. Be proud of your content regardless. On another, we have people saying “let it motivate you to work harder” or “improve your content for next year” and I take issue with this.

This feeds into the idea that, somehow, an individual wasn’t doing enough, or that their content wasn’t up to standard. Perhaps, in fact, the truth is that the odds were stacked against them.

There are bloggers I have connected with this year who have outstanding content. They nail it every time – their writing, their images, their tone. It’s all fantastic. It’s a struggle to pinpoint how they could improve.

Yet, they didn’t make the cut.

I know the community is packed with talent, and not everyone can win. But the individuals I have in mind… well, to be frank, I’m baffled how someone could look at them and not see them as fit for recognition. Even having seen the criteria they were judged on, I can’t find any logic in it.

In some instances, maybe I’m biased, but in other cases, I know I won’t be the only one who was completely stunned to not see some deserving names in there.

Maybe it was simply a case of bad luck, but please, don’t come out with the nonsense that it should drive them forward. It’s insulting. If you’re going to attempt to console people, maybe stick with “your content is awesome, keep it up.” (I did see a lot of that as well so kudos to you, cuties.)

Gold scissors on top of opened lined notebook

I am aware there are humans behind this, but there are also humans behind these blogs, too.

We deserve more respect than has been demonstrated throughout this entire process.

This isn’t a personal attack against any one individual. Having worked on a website in a previous job, I am painfully aware of how unreliable technology is sometimes. Things go wrong. This understanding is probably the reason I wasn’t as quick to jump on tweets or direct messages as others. I didn’t want to bombard anyone when I could imagine how stressed they were.

In these situations, though, communicating makes such a big difference – especially when people are eagerly waiting on you with bated breath. It may not be viable to respond to everyone individually, but intermittent updates along the way wouldn’t have gone amiss.

It’s hard to be criticised and not take it personally, or feel like you’re being attacked. But a lot of what I saw on Twitter was legitimate feedback. Though, nobody knows what could have been said in direct messages, and I don’t think there’s ever any excuse to be unpleasant.

Believe it or not, I have let a lot of things slide.

I’ve been patient and polite (correct me if I’m wrong) and I’m not content to sit and keep my mouth shut. I imagine this looks like I’ve gone off on a random one-woman crusade, but this is the culmination of a lot of frustration – both on my end, and for others who have been involved.

Maybe you’ve reached this point and you think I’m taking it all too seriously. Does any of it even matter? Well, yes, I think it does because, as a community, we are responsible for each other, and responsible for the standards we set. In my opinion, they failed to meet the mark, on numerous occasions, so it’s up to us to say that. We deserve better.

Having written and re-written this more times than I can count, I know it’s hard to talk about it without 1) sounding like you’re spitting the dummy out because you didn’t get through and 2) trying to take glory away from the finalists, but it’s not about that. It’s about how everything has been handled, which has ultimately caused me to lose any respect I had for them.

White flowers, small camera, open laptop, white calculator and gold notebook

Would I still be writing this if I were through to the finals?

The tone may have been different, but I still would have had similar things to say. I would have discussed the highs and lows of the process overall. The number of hiccups along the way were beginning to replace any excitement with frustration. This was growing and it no longer felt as fun as it should. Whether or not you trust me on that is your choice.

The lack of organisation and the poor communication left a bitter taste in my mouth, which wouldn’t have been washed away just because I progressed.

I don’t think any less of anyone who is excited to be in the final. I hope it lives up to their expectations. As well as that, I hope the process is a lot smoother going forward, because this should be a big moment for you – once which isn’t overshadowed by anything else.

In the context of the category I was in – mental health – I maintain that I’m happy to see it there. It was a category of wonderfully talented individuals, and I stand by the fact I felt proud to be amongst them.

Nothing can be done now, and I will be letting it lie from here on out. But I’m disappointed, and think the community deserves more. I’ll stand by that.

I’m not the only one who feels this way.

I’m not going to name names because those individuals chose to message me privately for a reason. But I am aware that several people feel let down by the way the whole thing has been executed.

Now, before you write us off as haters, you should probably know that a couple of the people who have messaged me have been finalists. Grateful as they are to be moving forward, they admit the entire thing could have been handled much better. I think that should set some alarm bells ringing.

There were also finalists from previous years who popped up to say they were disappointed in the conduct this year. So, the feelings aren’t exclusive to me.

Needless to say, I have absolutely no intention of being involved next year.

Though I hope the UK Blog Awards learn from their mistakes and the whole thing is much better co-ordinated in 2020, I would prefer not to have a part in it.

For those who think I’m just upset right now and will feel differently next year, I can tell you from knowing myself as well as I do that it’s highly unlikely. The way I work is that I give people multiple chances, but when they mess up the last one, that’s it. It’s very hard to rebuild my trust from there.

This was my first time being involved with the UK Blog Awards, and they’ve made sure it will be my last. What anyone else does is their choice.

My choice to not be involved in the future will likely be of little consequence to anyone or anything, but the reason I’m writing this is so you all know and appreciate where I stand on the matter. And so that anyone who may be feeling the same way – even if they don’t want to express it openly – knows they’re not alone.

White calculator on top of lined notebook with white pencil

In summary, it’s just not worth the price.

Following the announcements, I imagine a lot of us went through a similar series of emotions. Sadness, disappointment, self-doubt. I’m not going to pin that on the UK Blog Awards because this is a sad side effect of these kind of things, and not created intentionally.

But what I realised was that anything that makes me question my content and my ability isn’t worth signing up for again. Given the cruel way my mind works at times, it may not have been the best idea to try in the first place. I was just so moved by the encouragement I’d had from others that I felt motivated to give it a go.

I held off on saying anything in the immediate aftermath, because I knew I wasn’t in the right headspace to be reasonable. Yet, after those feelings subsided, there was still an underlying sense of anger at the whole situation – not only on behalf of myself, but of many others, too.

Am I shooting myself in the foot by making such a decision? I’m sure some people will think so. As far as I’m concerned, I’m staying true to who I am and the morals I adamantly believe in. So, no, not really.

As I said way back at the beginning of this post (congratulations on making it this far, by the way), it’s a lesson learned, in more ways than one.

My blog, my platforms, and my “brand” if you will, are built on positivity, and I know this doesn’t necessarily showcase that. But, I do also have a deep respect and admiration for members of this community. If you think I’m being over the top, keep in mind it’s because I care.

Why I Won't Be Participating In The UK Blog Awards Again

Why My First Experience With UKBA Is Going To Be My Last
I'm Frustrated With The UK Blog Awards
Do The UK Blog Awards Represent Diversity In The Community

UK Blog Awards: Are You Ready To Vote?

UK Blog Awards: Are You Ready To Vote?

A short while ago, I was notified of the fact I had been nominated in the UK Blog Awards. To complete the process, I had to fill in a form to confirm my entry. After some deliberation and a battle with imposter syndrome, I did this.

Last week, I received an email to say I was through the second stage. While many were quick to post their email on social media, I took a few days to process it. I told a handful of people, but mostly kept it to myself. It didn’t feel real. Still doesn’t, actually.

This is not something I anticipated happening at this stage in my blogging journey. I imagined it to be much further down the line, if it ever happened at all. I am proud, touched and overwhelmed.

It all sounds very Hollywood and cliché, but to even be nominated is enough.

The category I am in is the mental health category, which is a new addition to UK Blog Awards, and that makes me so happy. As far as I’m concerned, it doesn’t matter who wins, we all do. Again, I know that sounds like one of those things people say, but I really do mean it.

What we advocate for is being recognised with its very own category. There are enough mental health bloggers to warrant a separate category for the topic. That shows there is demand, and that means there are plenty of people writing about this subject.

That’s what matters.

There are people sharing their stories. There are people opening up about their struggles. Collectively, we are working to show how mental illness affects a variety of people, but that no one is ever alone in their experiences. It’s something really special and to see it being acknowledged with a category in the blogging awards is wonderful. So, thank you, UK Blog Awards!

I would be a liar if I said I didn’t care about winning, because it sure would be nice, but this post isn’t to ask you to vote for me. Although, if you’d like to, you can click here. Please be aware you can only vote once per category, so make sure you’re happy to choose me. I’d hate for anyone to regret it!

It’s simply to ask you to vote in general. Blogging, as a rule, can be challenging. Yet, writing about mental health requires a high level of vulnerability. Though I rarely see it that way for myself, it’s something I recognise in others. Anyone finding the strength to do that should be seen, heard and appreciated.

It’s hard to confront your demons and put them down on paper (well, screen, I guess). It requires an unprecedented degree of openness because, for people to gain a better understanding of mental illness, you have to show it all. The good, the bad, the downright hideous.

You have to face up to uncomfortable, awful feelings. For some people, such as myself, writing is a coping mechanism. It’s how I make sense of things. It helps, but the process isn’t always easy. But, I do it. I do it for the same reason others do – to teach others how difficult life with mental illness actually is; to demonstrate how recovery is rarely straightforward and never easy, and to show those who may be experiencing it that there are people who understand.

The very act of admitting you have a mental illness takes guts. There’s still stigma around mental illness, so occasionally there’s a backlash because of that. To deal with that, and write in spite of it, when you’re already going through inner turmoil, takes a lot more strength than some people realise.

Whether it’s me or somebody else, please vote for someone who you believe deserves it. Vote because their story touched you in some way. Maybe because you found yourself feeling lost, and they showed you things would be okay. Or, perhaps, it gave you a better understanding of a loved one going through the same thing. Vote because you know the content they create is important. You have the opportunity to show some of the people who need it most than you believe in them. Please use it.

I would also like to encourage you to vote for any other bloggers you enjoy, too.

Since I started blogging, I have discovered so many amazing people. Passionate people with a message to spread. Incredible storytellers with a tale to tell. Beauty bloggers who create makeup masterpieces. Travel bloggers sharing their adventures. A whole range of individuals who inspire me to no end. It’s so important to recognise the talent we have in this industry. That’s the whole reason these awards exist, after all.

If I’ve helped you in some way, then by all means, having your vote would be brilliant and very much appreciated. But I’m aware of the talent I’m up against, and I’m comfortable with that. That’s not me selling myself short, by the way. It’s merely an acknowledgement of the fantastic people who share this platform.

For me, it’s a privilege to be amongst others who are contributing to the conversation around mental health. And it’s an honour to be surrounded by so many determined individuals, whatever their niche may be.

Voting is now open, so go ahead. You only get one vote per person per category. Choose wisely. Vote with your heart.

UK Blog Awards - Are you ready to vote?

UK Blog Awards: It's Time To Vote
UK Blog Awards: Why You Should Vote
Will You Be Voting In The UK Blog Awards? You should be, and this is why...

You Know You’re A Blogger When…

You Know You’re A Blogger When…
  1. You won’t open/use something until it has been photographed from every angle.
  2. Your collection of notebooks grows more by the week.
  3. “There are not enough hours in the day” is a thought which crosses your mind regularly.
  4. Everyday items become photo props.
  5. Instagram is no longer a social media platform – it’s a challenge.
  6. You miss out on precious sleep to squeeze in extra time for your blog.
  7. Your other half/best friend/family member has become your personal photographer.
  8. On at least one occasion, you’ve wondered what you did with your time before you started blogging.
  9. The number of apps on your phone has doubled.
  10. You’ve stressed about what your niche is…
  11. …before realising it doesn’t matter as much as everyone says.
  12. The follow/unfollow game is a source of stress in your life.
  13. You talk about your blogging buddies like the rest of your friends.
  14. The words “I could write about that in my blog” have left your lips.
  15. You’ve realised Pinterest is more than pretty homes and recipes.
  16. Your To Do list has no end.
  17. If you’re not working on your own blog, you’re reading someone else’s.
  18. You have made a purchase, based on another blogger’s recommendation.
  19. A comment on your blog can make your day.
  20. You’ve discovered a whole new side to Twitter.
  21. Most of your “spare time” is spent mulling over how to improve.
  22. You have lost countless hours trying to get your blog to look right.
  23. Canva has become an essential part of your life.
  24. You have scoffed at the idea that “blogging is easy”.
  25. You feel personally attacked when people are rude about bloggers.
  26. Checking your emails is a little bit more exciting.
  27. You’ve done something slightly embarrassing for the perfect photo.
  28. You’ve thought about giving up…
  29. …but remembered how much joy it brings you and decided to persevere.
  30. You realise you have a blog, you’re trying your best with it and that’s what makes you a blogger. The rest is just stuff and nonsense.

You Know You're A Blogger When

30 Signs Blogging Has Taken Over Your Life
30 Signs The Blogging World Has Sucked You In
You Know You're A Blogger When... How Many Of These Can You Relate To

Finish the sentence yourself: you know you’re a blogger when….

Trying to Solve the Instagram Mystery

Trying to Solve the Instagram Mystery

Instagram seems to be the one social media platform I can’t make any progress with. I’ve nailed Twitter, cracked Pinterest but Instagram? No luck. I’ve moaned about it, I’ve considered giving up and then I decided to really give it a go.

Over the last month, I’ve tried a few different tactics to see if I could up my Instagram game.

1. Posting in the morning.

Using Tailwind’s smart schedule, I discovered the best time of morning to post would be between 8 and 9am. So, that’s what I did. Every day for two weeks.

Generally, posting in the morning is my preference, anyway. As I like my posts to have a positive theme, I think it’s a nice way for most people to start the day.

The results varied, presumably depending on content.

2. Posting in the evening.

For the last two weeks of the month, I switched to posting in the evening. The times were less specific and I uploaded whenever I felt like it. I am much more likely to browse Instagram in the evenings, and assumed others may be the same.

There wasn’t much difference in the level of engagement.

3. Hashtags.

For both phases, I used Tailwind to help me find appropriate hashtags and increased the number I was including per post. While there are people who swear by using all 30, I aimed for around 15 per post. This is one side of things which didn’t seem to make a blind bit of difference – despite people consistently preaching about the importance of hashtags.

4. Engaging.

As with most platforms, this is what seemed to do the trick. By following others first, liking their pictures and leaving comments, these actions were often reciprocated.

The trouble I find with engaging on Instagram is that I can do it comfortably in my own circle. I’m happy to comment on things that pop up in my feed. Overall, I’m generous with my likes.

What trips me up is finding people beyond that to interact with. All I did was go through the hashtags I seemed to be using most and try to strike up connections. It worked with a few people, and achieved absolutely nothing with others.

5. Theme.

I’m the first to say you don’t need an Instagram theme to be successful. Not having one doesn’t make you any less of a blogger than others. I do stand by that.

On the other hand, I feel like you need to be consistent. I didn’t feel like my feed had that quality. It was bright and fun, but I don’t think it did myself justice, or my blog. I put so much effort into everything I do, but I felt my lack of enthusiasm for Instagram was starting to reflect in my pictures. This comes down to being my own harshest critic, I realise, as it’s not something I’d see if I looked at someone else’s feed.

I did have a few lovely comments about this from blogging buddies who told me they really liked it, which was nice! It didn’t seem to have much impact on the whole, though.

Conclusion.

I started with 1500 followers, and ended up with over 1700. Over 200 followers in a month is good progress in my eyes, but most of these followers didn’t come from these tactics. The majority came from Facebook groups, or Twitter.

The only other platform I really struggle with is Facebook. I don’t think it’s a coincidence that they’re both owned by the same people. It seems they are making life more and more difficult in attempts to push people towards paid advertising.

Does this mean I’m going to give up? Tempting as it is, the stubborn streak in me wants to find a way to make it work. It may seem like I’m taking it all too seriously, but I want to try different approaches before I admit I’ve been beaten. Plus, I appreciate the importance of some sort of Instagram presence if you’re in the blogging business, so I don’t want to abandon it altogether.

What’s next?

  • I’m going to try some of these 5 tools, to see if they take me any further.
  • Rather than posting every day, I’m going to try every other day. I recently saw someone on Facebook touch on the idea that, due to changes in the algorithm, your posts have a slightly longer lifespan now on Instagram. This means posting something else before that has played out can harm your engagement. I’ve seen other people say similar things on Twitter, too, so I’m interested to test it out.
  • I also know I need to make more use of stories but, truth be told, my life isn’t that interesting – and this is where I fall short with Instagram as a whole. I spend about 80% of my time, sat in front of my laptop. Oddly enough, I have plenty to write about, but very little to say.

So, I haven’t exhausted all my options yet and my quest to crack Instagram continues.

Trying to solve the Instagram mystery

Trying to beat the Instagram algorithm
I experimented with different Instagram tactics and this is what happened...

Upping my Instagram game. Click through to find out what worked, what didn't, and what I'm trying next.</div<

I know I’m not alone in my frustrations, so how do you get on with Instagram?

6 Months of Blogging: The Good, The Bad & What’s Next

6 Months of Blogging: The Good, The Bad & What’s Next

6 months of blogging. Where has the time gone? As people say, times flies when you’re having fun. If there’s one clear indicator of how much I enjoy blogging, it’s the fact I’ve done this for six months, and it only feels like three.

The Good

Milestones

To say this journey surpassed all expectations would be a huge understatement. When I started this, the only thing I was sure of was that I was going to be honest about my mental health. I wanted to see who I could help along the way. I was armed with determination and enthusiasm, but I didn’t expect a miracle. It was going to take hard work to get this thing seen, so that’s what I did.

Then, I discovered I’m not bad at this whole blogging thing. My little project became my passion. What the whole process has taught me is that, when I have something I truly care about, I will go after it with everything I have.

I achieved milestones I previously believed to be a long way off. 10,000 Twitter followers. 2 million average monthly viewers on Pinterest. I received two nominations for awards.

In 6 months of blogging.

Right now, I’m picturing my face if you’d told me that just after I launched my blog. I’m sure it would have been full of delight, but also very apprehensive. It would have seemed beyond comprehension.

Income

A few months in, I had my first affiliate sale. It wasn’t a huge amount, but it didn’t need to be. I had made something from doing what I loved. That’s when I knew: I had to keep going. Monetary gain hadn’t crossed my mind when I hit publish on my first post but now I’ve had a taste of what it’s like to earn money from something which makes me happy, I plan to pursue it.

Up to now, I haven’t made a lot of money from blogging. The figure isn’t important, however. What matters is that every penny is coming from something I thoroughly enjoy. It’s a feeling I’ve never known before. It’s incredible.

Learning

The geek inside me just loves to learn. Blogging was a steep learning curve, with a whole load of new skills to master. At first, I felt completely overwhelmed, then I rose to the challenge.

In all honesty, this is one of my favourite aspects to blogging – the fact the learning never stops. It’s probably this reason which has contributed the most to my success so far. If I’m not writing my own blog posts, I’m reading other people’s which are full of tips, tricks and advice to take things to the next level. If you’re not keen on trying to get your head around new things, you might not get it, but it gives me a thrill.

Community

Saved the best for last. It’s now time to turn my attention to the people who helped to make it happen: you. I’m willing to give myself some of the credit because I worked my butt off. But, without you reading it, sharing it, leaving comments and giving me such a warm welcome, I would have fallen flat on my face.

I have had the opportunity to communicate with fascinating, inspiring and driven bloggers. Some of those people crossed the line from acquaintances to friends. Friends who will last a lifetime. When I think about the fact I didn’t know those people six months ago, it’s crazy. Of everything blogging has brought into my life, it’s these people I treasure the most. I’d love to name names, but I can guarantee I’ll forget someone and feel guilty forever. So, I’m hoping you know who you are.

The Bad

Doubt

There have been days when I’ve wanted to give up, but I think that’s a case of me getting in my own way. I have no idea what I did with all of my spare time before I had a blog. I just know I don’t want to go back to whatever it was. Every time someone compliments my blog, asks for my advice, or lets me know I’ve helped them, there’s a glow around my heart.

Despite everything, I’ve found myself questioning if this is truly where I should invest my time. There have been days when I’ve felt like it’s pointless. These feelings are natural. I learnt that in my first week of blogging. I’m glad I was armed with that knowledge. My tactic is usually to have a nap and let it pass, or remind myself of all the wonderful things this journey has made possible.

Exhaustion

Blogging quickly became my entire life. There is so much to do! I loved every second of it, but there was a thin line between healthy and obsessive. It’s one I crossed a few times, before realising I was running myself into the ground. Trying to achieve everything actually meant I was achieving nothing.

So, I got organised, set aside time for myself and reminded myself that no matter what job people have, they have time off. I needed that, too.

Jealousy

While I was busy celebrating my success, there were individuals waiting in the wings to attack. People who thought I didn’t deserve what I got because I hadn’t been blogging long enough. Others who accused me of “using my mental illness to get a foot in” or abandoning my cause as soon as I got attention.

People who know me well enough will realise how utterly ridiculous that notion is. I can’t respond to this any better than my Dad did in his comment on we need to talk about the ugly side of blogging.

“People question your right to speak, your motives and the ‘accuracy’ of what you are saying. The best response to the ‘haters’ is to kick the dust from your feet (or keyboard) and move on to those who are willing to receive what is on offer.”

What’s next?

As for what’s next, I have a few ideas but my primary focus is that I’m hoping to continue creating content you love. I want my blog to be useful, in whatever ways you need. Most importantly, I want to keep putting smiles on faces, help people with their blogging ambitions and show people that a mental illness doesn’t mean your life has to grind to a halt. You can turn it into something positive.

Blogging is one of the most challenging things I’ve done, but also one of the most rewarding. I hope, in six months time, I still feel that way, and have plenty more bits of exciting news to share.

For now, from the bottom of my heart, thank you for making my first 6 months of blogging so amazing.

6 Months Of Blogging

Celebrating 6 Months Of Blogging
6 Months Of Blogging: The Good The Bad And Whats Next
My Blog Is Six Months Old

8 Reasons Why Your Twitter Following Isn’t Growing

8 Reasons Why Your Twitter Following Isn’t Growing

Your Twitter following isn’t growing. You don’t know why. You’ve tried everything, and you have no clue what to do next. But, what if the problem exists because of what’s already there? Are you even getting the basics right? Before you delve into growth tactics, there are simple things which may be getting in your way. Perhaps the signals you’re sending out aren’t inviting people in. Time to stop and take a good, hard look at it before you go any further.

Twitter is kind of my thing. It’s been the easiest platform for me to grow. The beauty of Twitter is that there’s such an active community on there and, better yet, despite some of it’s annoying features, there are no algorithms to hold you back.

The result of my fast growth on Twitter is either people thinking I’ve bought my followers (which I’d never do because I can think of 1001 things I’d rather spend money on) or people asking me how I’ve done it. They’ll come to me and ask if I can take a look at their account and tell them what they’re doing wrong.

Let’s kick this off with an important message.

What I’m about to share isn’t the be all and end all – it’s based on my opinions and the reasons I choose not to follow people. I’m fairly generous with following, especially when it comes to other bloggers. That said, there are some things I see and they immediately make me think twice. Others may think completely differently to me, and that’s fine. I don’t believe in trying to assert rules of a “right way” and a “wrong way” of doing things, so the following are just suggestions.

You might read through this list and think “crap, I do that!” So, listen: just because you’re doing some or all of these things doesn’t mean you should feel bad about yourself. It is, in no way, intended to do that. It’s meant to inform you so you can make tweaks and, hopefully, get your account off the ground.

You came to this post because you wanted to know why your Twitter following isn’t growing, so let’s have a look at some possibilities.

1. Your account is purely promotion.

Brand, blogger or business, if you’re shoving what you have on offer down people’s throats, they’re not going to want it clogging up their timeline.

Do I use Twitter as a tool for promotion? Of course I do. Five or six tweets a day are to promote my blog posts. But, I actually get quite uncomfortable if I don’t get the chance to tweet or retweet other things in between. Looking at my own profile being full of promo irritates me as much as seeing it on someone else’s.

We get it – you’re using social media as a marketing tool. That’s cool. You just need to remember that there’s a fine line, and if I come to your profile and you haven’t done anything else for days, I’m not clicking that follow button. This covers purely promoting your blog, your product or your other social media profiles.

Once you’re mixed into my timeline, you’re maybe thinking it won’t matter. They won’t be consecutive, after all – the content from others I follow will mix in and it’ll all be good. You’re not wrong but, right now, this is the first impression I’m getting of you.

Treat Twitter as a behind the scenes. Give people snippets of your life beyond your blog or business. Share your thoughts about random things. Provide little nuggets of wisdom. Terrifying as it is sometimes, be you! It’s the best way.

2. All you do is retweet other people.

I am the first to shout about how important it is to support others. One of the best – and easiest – ways to do this is to retweet them.

Yet, if that’s all you’re doing, is there any point in me following you? If I follow you, it’s because I want to see YOUR personality, and what you’re about. It’s great to be generous with your retweets but if that’s all I can see – how am I supposed to find you in amongst all of that?

Worse still, if all you do is retweet celebrities, I’m out.

3. You have blatantly obvious automated tweets.

By this, I don’t mean scheduled tweets, but rather the ones along the lines of “I’ve had x amount of unfollowers this week.” What this tells me is that you’re a little hung up on numbers. If you want to know that information, no worries – just don’t broadcast it for everyone to see.

Often, I think people simply forget to turn it off whenever they sign up for these services, but I’m not going to follow you and hang about until you’ve done it. What if you never do?

4. You don’t have a Twitter bio.

Come on. Stick a few lines in there about how AWESOME you are…

…Okay, maybe not. I can’t imagine bragging will do you any favours. I can tell you what will, though: showing people a little bit of spark. Or, at the very least, give people an opportunity to think “hey, we have something in common.”

I see the words “cat lady” in a bio, I’m sold. Similarly, when the words “mental health advocate” make an appearance, I’m tempted to follow this fabulous person who is fighting for a cause so close to my heart. These are personal things which instantly draw me to the account owner. If you’re going for a more professional vibe, then at least let people know what it is you do.

Writing bios is hard, especially when they’re so short, but give it a go. You can always edit it, but give people something to work with. If you need a hand, take a look at this article for some guidance.

5. Your profile picture is a logo, or something else impersonal.

I actually have mixed feelings on this. The reason I’m including it in this list is simple: other people have told me they don’t like it. Who is behind the account? Who am I connecting with?

Social media is about networking, connecting and building relationships. Whether those are personal or professional, people still yearn to know who is at the other side.

I get that not everybody is comfortable with having their picture on there, which is why I’m a little more forgiving – especially if I can tell it’s a blog logo. Yet, if it’s a generic stock image or what looks like clip art, I’m less keen because it doesn’t really tell me anything about you.

6. You only use it to share Instagram links.

I see this a lot less often than I used to, but if this is the case, I might follow you on Instagram, but following you on Twitter? Pointless.

Again, maybe this is automatic and you haven’t turned it off. The message it sends is that you’re more active over on Instagram than Twitter, so why should I bother following you on both?

7. You’re not original.

Don’t panic – this is a very specific example, and I’m not about to pick apart personalities.

What I mean by this is, if your timeline is full of thoughts and quotes that are not your own, I’m not interested. The occasional one is cool, and I’ve been known to do it myself.

I’m talking about tweet after tweet of words that you didn’t write. Perhaps this is because I’m fascinated by other people and utterly intrigued by who they are, so I want to know about them. Not the same old quote I’ve seen a thousand times. If I wanted to read this stuff, I’d follow accounts specifically for that.

8. You hashtag every word.

This could be a personal pet peeve of mine, I’m not sure, but when your tweets are exclusively hashtags (or near enough), I quickly lose interest. It’s excessive and unnecessary.

Up to now, I haven’t decided what irks me more – when people create a sentence with hashtags, or when it’s just random hashtags thrown together.

I understand the logic. You’re trying to reach as many people as possible, but you don’t need every single word to be a hashtag to achieve that. Personally, with the exception of retweet accounts, I don’t see hashtags as overly important in general. You can search a normal word or phrase and still find what you’re looking for. But, if you want to use them, then by all means, do so – just pick a few specific ones.

Now, if you’re not doing any of these things and your Twitter following isn’t growing, then I’d like to point you in the direction of this post. It’s pretty much the flip side of this post, and has 8 suggestions for how to grow your Twitter.

8 reasons why your Twitter following isn't growing

8 reasons why Twitter following isn't increasing
8 reasons you're not gaining followers on Twitter
Are you struggling to grow on Twitter? Check to see if you're making any of these 8 mistakes

What I’d like to know is: what encourages you to follow someone on Twitter, and what puts you off? Leave your thoughts in the comments.