26 January 2018

9 Real Life Changes I'll be Making after Blog in the Beach

Laura Haley Photography
I’ve been working on this blog almost daily for five years now, and when you’ve been doing it that long it’s easy for a routine to set in.  There are certain things like SEO, like a redesign, like pitching to brands, that I know I should do but I never get time to do.  I spend most evenings and almost every lunch break writing or editing pictures.  Getting these posts published takes time, way more then it maybe should but that’s my routine and I stick to it.  I share my posts to the same places, I work with brands in the usual ways, and life goes on.  

But there is so much more to blogging!  Last weekend I headed to Leeds to attend the Blog at the Beach event by icelolly.com where three speakers, all of whom happened to be bloggers I love, shared their knowledge.  Kirsty opened the event with a talk on how to pitch successful travel brand collaborations, Bee followed up by sharing her knowledge on how to take your blog to the next level without going full time and Kaye finished the event sharing her travel photography trips and tips.  I learned so much in those few hours, each speaker did an amazing job sharing their knowledge and made me pick up on things I hadn't thought about before.  Here are just a few lessons I will be taking away and applying to my blog in 2018:

Figure out my USP
I mean this should be pretty obvious, but it can also be pretty hard to do!  What makes your blog unique?  What are your main focuses?  I’ve never been one for niches, but I have streamlined my blog over the years and it’s getting there, but I still need to try and capture the essence of my blog more concisely.  I usually describe my website as something along the lines of "a lifestyle, travel and London blog with a vintage edge." but that doesn't really bring out my unique perspective.  I have already updated my Instagram and twitter pages to show more of my personality, but it’s a work in progress.  If you have any ideas or want to swap notes on each others blogs let me know!

Getting a Linkedin for my blog can be a big boost
Chances are like me you’ve never thought of having a Linkedin for your blog.  For me I always try to keep my work and blog life separate so I’ve never mentioned anything about this hobby anywhere on my Linkedin.  However after an amazing talk by Kirsty on just how this can be beneficial I created a new, separate account just for my blog, which you can find here if you want to connect.  Kirsty did a really in depth blog post on this if you are thinking about doing the same, which I recommend reading if you want to find out why this can be so useful.

I’m rewriting my pitches
I have pitched so rarely because to be honest, the idea scares the bejeebers out of me.  Kirsty gave us great tips on how to pitch yourself to brands including how to find names to personalise your pitch, how to tailor it to the brand and how to keep track of who you’ve contacted so you don’t send the same pitch twice of overwhelm yourself with offers. She also gave advice on offering other things like Instagram takeovers, vlogs or specific promotions to work within their current campaigns to stand out from the crowd instead of a just straight up review.  

Become an email chaser
This is another easy thing to add into my blogging routine that I currently don’t due, largely due to confidence.  I hate to think that I am annoying people so I avoid sending a chase emails, but the people from Icelolly.com even confirmed that a chase email can be really useful as sometimes they are just too busy to deal with pitches straight away, so chase away.

Struggling to find your blogging voice?  Try recording yourself
This was something Bee mentioned as a way of bringing her personality into her writing.  I have mentioned continuously on my blog throughout the years how much I have struggled with this, and I think this is a great idea.  Often I find I can think up a great, chatty post but when putting in down in text it all changes, this is a great way of getting around that mental barrier.

Picking up my camera again
Until recently, partially because my phone camera had been broken for a long while, I took my camera everywhere with me.  Since I finally upgraded my phone I’ve got out of the habit and my camera skills have slipped, I need to get back to grips with my camera and get shooting!

Avoid creating generic travel pictures
I’m not as good at wording things the way Kaye clearly can, but there are so many ways of taking pictures of a city that aren’t just generic, straight on shot of a landmark that still screams the city you are visiting.  With all the travel I did last year I’ve often come home and found that some of the shots are actually a little boring, does anyone care about this pic of the Empire State Building that’s exactly the same everyone else's?  Maybe not, but if you can find a unique angle or way of including a building that adds an energy and tells a story then it will be more visually interesting.  Basically I need to use my imagination more!

Plan shoots before travel
This is something I’ve started thinking about already for my next trip, but creating a shoot list of all your must take shots ensures you won’t miss anything while traveling.  When I’m in Disneyland for instance I will obviously want a picture in front of the castle but I also know that I will want an outfit shot on the Jolly Trolley.  I’m going to research the more obscure locations in advance to improve the visuals of my blog.

I’m dropping to twice a week
This is the biggest difference you may notice right away.  For the last 4 years or so I’ve tried to post on Mondays, Wednesdays and Fridays.  I don't always manage it of course but that’s what I’ve aimed for, and truth be told it creates quite a lot of pressure.  Between posting three times a week, creating, editing and uploading vlogs, a 9-5 job, traveling and going to events something has to give.  For me it’s everything related to my blog that isn’t the actual writing.  My SEO is non existent, I don’t pitch, my blog theme still isn’t finished, I haven’t moved to wordpress and on and on it goes.  So for the time being I am moving to twice a week (there are times when I in slip an extra post in of course) so on Mondays and Fridays I will be here, the rest of the time I will be working on making this a better space for you to come to.  I’m also about to start a new job and moving so taking a bit of time for that will help me keep my sanity!

As cheesy as it is going to sound I left Blog at the Beach feeling 100% motivated to improve my blog in so many ways.  It’s taken four and a half years to get here and if I want to be here for a while longer it would be amazing to get myself out of my comfort zone again and improve this blog so it can be the best it can be!  So I’ll be on here slightly less but if you ever want to chat to me in the meantime drop me a tweet and say hi!

What changes are you making to your blog this year?
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