Sunday, 13 August 2017

Reflecting On A Month Of Blogging

So I've been back blogging properly for about a month and a half now, and I will say the lessons I've learnt in that short space of time have been eye-opening and things I wish I knew from Day 1 of my blogging experience. The positives and negatives go hand-in-hand with blogging, as I am sure those who are reading this right now and are bloggers themselves can agree with.

The Positives

I bloody love blogging. I class it as my online diary. I feel I have the confidence to talk about things which strangers will read and can easily relate to without us having met face-to-face. I love how supportive the blogging community is! We all get that it's hard to stick to a blogging schedule and whatever life throws at us, others will comment with their thoughts and I love it!

My following has massively increased. When I first began my blog and social media platforms for it last year, it was just a constant struggle to gain followers who were GENUINELY interested in me, not gain followers because I've been approached by a company who, for so much money, will promote me on their page - I class this as buying followers, don't know if anyone else does? Putting this to one side though, everyone understands this struggle and to literally see the figures in comparison to others that are high is depressing and makes you question what you're doing wrong; but, the amount of Twitter accounts out there that will RT a blog post of yours and will share your social media links is staggering! It just shows the support is there and will never weaken really. (I hope to God it doesn't). At the time of writing this, I've hit 400 Instagram followers for the first time EVER on my account. At the time of writing this, I am 79 followers away on Twitter from hitting 1000 followers EVER. It is just such a great thing to see that you're being noticed and recognised.

More people are reading my content. At the time of writing this, I still can't believe the following I have developed since coming back to blogging after a break. My pageviews on my blog posts keep increasing because I've learnt to schedule tweets on Buffer and try to promote my posts as much as I can. My photography on my Instagram has MASSIVELY improved because I ensure they are the best they can be and I have comments praising the quality, leaving their thoughts underneath of my latest post.

I've developed connections to bloggers and brands. I've engaged with brands and more bloggers than before. I won my first ever giveaway thanks to DS London HQ & Phases of Robyn which I wouldn't have known about if it weren't for being more social on social media than before. I have been welcomed as a member with the gorgeous and meaningful jewellery brand Adored UK, something I never thought would happen so soon since I've returned to blogging. The feeling to be recognised for my content and myself as a person is really humbling and it makes me feel I am doing something right.

My gorgeous personalised cosmetics bag from DS London x

Of course, there are always two sides to blogging.

The Negatives

The pressure. I don't choose to feel pressured to blog and I don't feel like I'm obliged to have a new post up more than once a week - I class myself as an "Occasional Blogger" after all - but when you see others saying they've managed to schedule new posts for the next month or they have loads of ideas for future posts, I do sit there and think, "wow. I am doing a shit job here." I should use this as motivation and I do about 40% of the time: the other 60% is spent wishing I had the creativity that others do. I am my own hypocrite because I advise new bloggers not to compare themselves to others when I am doing nothing BUT that. Constantly feeling like I have to tweet everyday and Instagram everyday just so I am active online almost 24/7? I hate that.

Thinking I have to have theme behind my content. This is what put me off blogging for a while, hence the break away from it all. I follow many accounts on social media where their feed has a recognisable theme and/or they specialise in one area to focus on writing about. I can't do that. Why should we feel we have to limit ourselves to talking about just a couple of things where we in fact want to write about whatever we want? Instagram is also very guilty of this: I find a lot of favoured IG feeds have themes, but why go to all the trouble to maintain this idea of an IG theme where all you want to do is upload a picture because you actually want to?
I don't see the need to focus on developing an IG theme on my feed

The engagement is very hit-and-miss. I only need to mention one word again: Instagram. They are the main culprit for this at the moment because of the whole shadowbanning situation which is a right pain. With this, I try to avoid posting every day but also because I don't have enough to post all the time and want my photos to be good enough and not to look like a last-minute-upload-because-I-forgot-to-post-something-on-my-feed. One day I can get 60 likes in 1 hour and the other I can get just under 30 in the first hour. We shouldn't have to worry about the best timing to upload photos - don;t get me wrong, it does help, but it's so annoying when you upload a new blog post or something on Instagram and the views/likes and below par.

Always worrying if my content will be good enough to read. I know I've said I write my content for myself and because I know others will read it, yet I always worry about this at the back of my mind. What if people don't like it? What if it doesn't make sense? What if it is pointless content? I cannot help but worry all the time. I still have a list of what I want to write about, but I look at the list and think hmm, maybe this isn't needed etc...

Blogging is tough, but I love it at the same time x

Blogging is tougher than what others think. I credit full-time bloggers who organise their time to be involved photoshoots for their next post and are constantly engaging on social media, schedule their posts for the next month: this is why I refer to myself as an occasional blogger because I know for sure when I start back at uni next month, I won't be able to blog as much as I would like to. Nevertheless, I have loved how successful my blog has been up to this point, and I am very much looking forward to how it can progress in the months to come.

I would love to hear how your blogging experience has been for however long you have been doing it! Do you agree with what I've said? Do you think there are other positives or negatives that I may have missed? Let me know down in the comments below as I always love to hear what you lovely lot have to say x

Until next time...
Much Love
V A x

Friday, 4 August 2017

The Countdown To University

If you follow my Instagram, you'll have seen that my Foundation Degree in Fashion Studies at Staffordshire University was officially confirmed with a certificate stating my grade: Distinction. I was so surprised to get the email and see I had achieved this because my confidence was knocked a little bit when I had received my marks for my last two modules of the course. I was very nervous to find out what I would get as an overall grade but the joy was very much there when I opened the email and saw it was Distinction. It has given me such motivation now to do well and exceed further as I progress onto CCAD to study Costume Interpretation with Design (BAhons) for my final 2 years of higher education.

I had an unconditional offer from this course when I went for my interview which basically meant that I would have a place on the course whatever grade I got. It's nice to go in with a high grade as I can show others on the course what I'm capable of. I never thought I would go to study costume ever in my life. I was the girl who set out what she wanted to be in life since the age of 9, but things have changed and my decision has changed: I feel like I am better suited for costume than fashion. I love watching period drama and I am always fascinated with history and to be honest? Interpreting costume in an era I choose for a character I want to design for just appeals to me soo much more than fashion does. I love fashion don't get me wrong, but not enough to study it, especially with its constant changes and fast pace nature. I love thinking outside the box and I would my say my designs are not one for fashion: costume is going to be perfect for me.
Familiarising myself with my new course

The course prospectus is outstanding and has amazing links within the costume industry, including the costume designer from Game of Thrones (totally impressive!) who comes in to give talks. I follow current students on the course on Instagram and have been completely gobsmacked by the gorgeous costumes they make and the opportunities they have to make a name for themselves in costume. I'll be learning millinery and tailoring and have the chance to work on live briefs during my study so honestly, I cannot wait to get started next month!
Amazing work previous CCAD students have created

But before I start next month, I have got to deal with the hectic rollercoaster of emotions I have right now. At the moment, I am fluctuating between being really really excited to move away and being really really emotional and mentally forcing myself not to sort through my things ready to pack to move away. I think now the reality is starting to kick in and with that, I am pushing all this to the back of my mind thinking I have nothing to do for it. Only today was I saying to myself that when I move to university, I won't be feeling this negativity anymore; yet I need to get through the next month in order for this to happen. I'm dreading leaving home. I'm dreading leaving my friends behind, my family, my mum, my dad: if George and his family were not an hour away from where I'll be living, I honestly don't think I would last half a term. I know I am ready to study elsewhere because the city I live in and the general region, well, I am sick of it and I need a change. I need a new area for my inspiration and creativity to thrive. It's a difficult decision but I know I have to do this: I will regret it if I don't.
More amazing work CCAD students have created

I'm worried about starting in the second year of the course because I've come from a fashion course where I wasn't taught anything to do with costume. I wouldn't have been given an unconditional offer if they didn't think my work was good enough right? I'm worried students there already will be soo far ahead of me. I'm planning to jump into first year classes so I don't feel massively behind and it won't be classed as "homework" because I want to do the extra study. I feel like I am preparing well for this next step, but annoyingly as a person, I'm a glass is half empty kind of person. I'm trying not to think in a negative way but I do this so that I don't feel disappointed if it does turn out to be negative; however, I know deep down I am excited for this next step and all I am doing now is counting down the days until my moving in date and the first official lesson of this new part in my learning life.
Preparing for moving away

Sorry if this has sounded quite solemn or anything like that but I am being positive about it deep down! I will be doing constant updates about my uni life when it happens so keep an eye out for those! Plus the interior shopping is great and I may do a interior haul post, depending on how much stuff I get x Many trips to IKEA I think...

I would love to know in the comments below if you are also at the stage of preparing to move away for university! What advice would you give me and others in this position? Have you already done this and if so, how was the experience for you? I would love to hear from you all x

Until next time...
Much Love
V A x