Category Archives: Blogging for beginners

Life lessons from Blogtacular 2017

Life lessons I learnt at Blogtacular 2017

Last month I went to my first ever blog conference. What took me so long? I like to describe myself as a confident introvert. I like meeting people, but big group activities make me want to run for the hills.

What changed? It’s simple – I found a blogging conference that appealed to me. Blogtacular was set up in 2013 by the ever-inspiring Kat Molesworth. It’s a passionate, creative conference – and everything about it felt welcoming and friendly.

In their own words:

“Blogtacular is a celebration of the talent which grows wild on the internet. Many of us feel like outsiders who have somehow broken into an off-limits space, when the truth is we are the trailblazers of new paths of expression, business and advertising.”

Yes, yes and yes! That’s exactly how I feel about blogging. I know you aren’t all bloggers, so I won’t bore you will all the techy details we like to talk about when we get together. However, attending such an amazing conference taught me some really valuable life lessons that I feel we can all learn from, whether we’re bloggers or not.

Online friendships are real

How many of us used to roll our eyes about online friendships? Or feel a little shame-faced. You know, it’s not the real thing, is it? But times change. The online world is here to stay, and why shouldn’t friendships forged through blogs and social media be just as real?

At Blogtacular I finally got to meet lots of people I’ve meet online. I think there’s an assumption that our online selves are inauthentic. But that’s not always true. Every person I met was exactly as I thought they’d be. Which rather suggests that the little parts of ourselves we reveal online are sometimes as authentic and true as it gets. I certainly feel more real in the spaces I’ve curated online than I do in the school playground.

Blogtacular 2017 © Amber-Rose Photography (314)

Everyone gets jealous, and that’s ok

Everyone agrees that social media can create impossible images of perfection, that will (in our darker moments) cause feelings of jealousy. But it’s not the done thing to admit the jealousy you feel.

One message that kept cropping up again and again in the talks I attended at Blogtacular, is that it’s totally ok to admit to feelings of jealousy. You may even be able to learn something from it. Don’t be ashamed of your jealous feelings. Own them and make them work for you.

I can’t tell you what a relief it was to hear successful women like Emma Gannon admit that they get jealous, and that people get jealous of them. I’m working on accepting my own jealousy of others – but crucially, making it work for me. I waste far too much energy feeling bad about things, and I bet you do too.

Life lessons I learnt from Blogtacular

You’re never too old to learn new tricks

My last session of the day was Xanthe Berkley’s video workshop. I’m quite afraid of video, so this was a big leap out of my comfort zone. It was a bit like being at school again and spent most of the workshop feeling rather out of my depth.

However, the tools we were taught to use in workshop was actually very simple. Back in the comfort of my own home I’ve been experimenting with taking little videos and using a simple app on my phone to edit them. I’m surprised by how much I love it. This is just the start of a new skill which I’m planning on learning a lot more about.

Which all goes to show that we’re never too old to learn new tricks. The intensity of the conference gave me that little creative kick I needed.  So, why not sign up for that course you think you’re not good enough for? I guarantee it you’ll surprise yourself.

Blogtacular 2017 © Amber-Rose Photography (275)

Thanks Blogtacular, see you in 2018! 



Blogging for beginners: how to get your ideas

Where do I get my blogging ideas?

I was going to start this post with the phrase I’m not an expert… but then I remembered one of the best things about blogs: everyone who writes one gets to be an expert in their own field.

Sometimes, though, every expert gets a bit insecure. Which is why I thought it would be great to start some knowledge sharing – to inspire those of you who are already blogging, and help people who want to get started.

So, how can you get blog ideas?

Lots of my ideas pop up out of nowhere – usually when I’m doing something mundane like sorting the washing or ironing. I always try to write it down, or send myself a quick e-mail on my phone to remind myself to think about it later. When I’m doing simple, rhythmic tasks, my brain is clearly more relaxed and fertile. If you’re lacking inspiration, stop staring at your blank screen or notebook and get busy with something unrelated. Hopefully, while you’re occupied doing something else, inspiration will strike.

Let the seasons be your guide. Look at the calendar and see what events are coming up. Take Easter, for example. If you plan ahead you could share recipes, crafts, ideas for Easter egg hunts and even spring fashion. Don’t leave it till the last minute. Start brainstorming weeks in advance. It doesn’t actually matter if you only ever get round to blogging about one of your ideas – just try and make sure it goes out about a week before the relevant event.

Be responsive. React to what’s going on around you. Maybe it’s something you saw on the news, or perhaps it’s the latest bit of parenting angst everyone’s talking about at the school gates. Think about it, write about it and give it your unique slant.

Engage with the latest trends. You don’t have to follow them slavishly, but why not let them inspire you? One example of this is the whole hygge thing. It’s been done to death, and I’ve chosen not to write about the concept directly on my blog. However, I’d be lying if I said I hadn’t been inspired by it. Of course I have. Indirectly, it’s definitely inspired a fair few of my winter posts. Similarly, don’t be ashamed of finding inspiration on other people’s blogs. Obviously, you don’t want to copy someone else, but reading something brilliant might just kick off a whole new idea.

What should you do if you’re stuck in rut and your ideas have dried up? Get back to basics. When I’m really struggling for ideas I go right back to where this blog started – an online diary. Write about where you’ve been, what you’ve read and what you’ve bought. I used to always write a weekly post on a Friday about what I’d done that week – it’s a great way to get writing again.

Is it possible to run out of ideas? I don’t think that’s likely to happen, but if your subject matter is very narrow then it’s inevitable that they’ll be a certain amount of repetition. But that’s not necessarily a bad thing. You can revisit old ideas from a different angle, or talk about progress you’ve made. Now I’ve been blogging for a while, I’ve certainly noticed that lots of my ideas are cyclical. The same subjects do tend to pop up again and again – I like to see this as a strength rather than a weakness: a sign that my blog has its own identity and themes running through it.

Create a safety net. A really nice way to avoid feeling worried about running out of ideas is to have several long-running series that you can return to again and again. These will usually have the same basic formula. I’m very fond of my three things I’m loving this week series. I always enjoy writing it and it’s a much-needed safety net for those weeks when inspiration fails to strike, or when I want to mention something that doesn’t warrant a lengthy post.

Every week I create a brainstorm of all these different ideas, which I’ll keep referring back to. Stick it up on your wall, or write each idea on a sticky note. Sometimes ideas will appear again and again, and it’ll be weeks before they reach fruition. The important thing is to keep thinking! 

How do you find blogging inspiration? If you’ve enjoyed this post do let me know what other blogging advice you’d like to hear!

Blogging for beginners: how to get blog ideas