A Change Is As Good As A Rest

They say absence makes the heart grow fonder, and as much as this can be true of relationships, it can also be true for blogging.

I was unable to take part in the usual blogging chats, conversations or read tweets whilst I took my recent trip to Italy. I missed the social side and the chats but it also allowed me to take a step back and think about Shutterbug and my YouTube.

And what I’ve gained from that, I’ll share with you.

Before my trip I assumed I would be vlogging. Why wouldn’t I go somewhere like that and film? However, during the time there, at no point did I feel like I actually wanted to film. It almost felt like something I felt I had to do, but at no point felt natural. And I knew that would come across on the footage, so I decided early on in the trip that I wouldn’t vlog.

It made me realise that I felt happier not vlogging, and so as a result I’ve decided that as much as I enjoy putting up YouTube content and that I won’t shut it down totally, I’m not going to force myself to create videos weekly. It’s not like my following is so large that it demands regular uploads, and I’m aware that subscribers won’t grow massively, if at all, if I don’t post often – BUT I also know that if I force it, the content will become bland and unnatural.

So that’s where I am with YouTube. As and when I post, it’ll be because it’s something I want to do and not something I feel I should be doing.

As for my blog, I’ve decided my content needs to be more my own voice again. I enjoy putting thoughts to screen, and of late I’ve been feeling like some of my content has pandered towards what I feel I should be posting to get views and follows, and not what I want to put out sporadically.

So I’m going back to my roots. You might not notice a difference, but I’ll notice a change in feel and that’s what will be therapeutic to me.

Lastly, in the next few weeks I hope to upgrade my WordPress package to a paid service which will allow me to use more features, and also have a dedicated url for Shutterbug. I’m not sure how this all works, or what will change logistically at that point, but it’s a big deal for me. It feels like an important next step in my blogging journey and it’s exciting!

So thanks for following, reading and supporting Shutterbug. And I hope the changes I’m making are one you’ll like! See you on the flip side!

This Week I Have Been Mostly….

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I am writing this in the midst of storm Doris…. she’s a windy one….

These past weeks have been both busy and uneventful! I got ‘The Cold’ so spent a good 5 days flat on my back (that’s what she said) trying to stop snot coming out of my nose. I’m feeling almost all the way better now, which is awesome.

The time I spent resting meant I wasn’t able to film or post as much as I had wanted, but I did manage to watch the whole of season 2 of How to Get Away With Murder. Now I just have to wait for Netflix to hurry up and get the third season up.

Last week I posted a really nerve-wracking blog post on the subject of mental health. It had some opinions in there that I’d not really heard anyone else speak out about, and I don’t tend to blog about my mental health a whole lot, so I was worried what people might think. But the response has been 100% supportive and many people agreed with me, so that was awesome.

I also posted the first part of my make-up tour video on my YouTube channel, and I’ve had so many comments, views and new subscribers! When I say ‘so many’ I mean more than 2 or 3 which is my standard – I’m so grateful for all of the interactions I receive, and this time around it’s been lovely to see so many new faces!

I also finally found the majority of my costume for the Secret Cinema Moulin Rouge event we’re attending towards the end of the March. It’s handy that there’s a bit of a corset trend happening at the moment, because there was quite a bit to choose from. I don’t want to go full corset because that’s really not my style, but thankfully my character isn’t that kind of girl, so I’m pretty pleased with what I managed to pick up!

I ended my working week on Wednesday last week, and had two days off as I’m using up my holiday allowance at work. I’m saw some friends, and visited London, so expect some more videos soon! It’d been so long since I just had a solo mooch around the city!

Anyhow, if you want to watch my latest video, you can find it below – it’s a long one so grab a cuppa!

 

Blogging Tools I Can’t Live Without

Since I’ve been blogging for quite some time now, I thought I’d share some of the tools that have come to be invaluable to me.

Technically, you just need your brain and a platform and you’re all set, but there are a few things I’ve come to appreciate as tools I just can’t live without when blogging.

First of all, my laptops. I have a Microsoft HP and a MacBook Pro. I don’t have a word processing package on my Mac so tend to do most of my writing on the HP laptop, unless I’m writing straight into my blogging platform.

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WordPress is my platform of choice, having used a few different ones over the years. I like that even on a free package you can produce a customisable and professional looking blog. It’s flexible and you rarely see two blogs looking the same. It has its glitches, but what website don’t? I feel like at some point in the future I’ll need to move to self-hosted or a paid account, but until then it works just fine, thank you very much. As well as the web-based platform, I have the WordPress app. It’s not without its limitations, but is handy for replying to comments, checking stats and uploading images on the go. You can write posts on there too but I prefer to do that on a computer, mainly because I’m rubbish and slow at word processing on my phone!

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For cameras, I switch between my Canon EOS 400D, Sony a5000 and my iPhone 7 Plus. I’ve been using my SLR less of late for the reasons you’ll read in a moment, but even though it’s kind of old now I love the quality of photos I get from it. My Sony a5000 has earned its cost times over. I love how small it is, the quality of photo and video and it’s light. But other than that, the Wifi function comes in so so handy. I can take a photo, send it to my phone and then edit it, upload and publish it, all within 5 minutes of capturing the shot. The iPhone 7 Plus is pretty awesome for taking photos too, and though I haven’t had it long, I can already see the difference in lens quality with the shots I’ve taken.

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As well as using my iPhone for images, I have a tonne of apps I use for blogging. Here are a few of them.

I’ve mentioned the WordPress app so I won’t go into that again. I use Buffer to scheduling tweets, which I don’t do all that much, but it’s good to have an easy app to do it when I want to. Twitter (of course), Facebook and Instagram – I don’t really have to tell you what those do, right?

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Lightroom app for iOS is awesome for photo editing. The auto presets are a great place to start, and then you can tweak until your heart’s content.

As an amateur photographer, I’ve been uploading to Flickr for over 10 years now, so it’s almost as though I have my own iStock of photos on there. It’s awesome because I pretty much have a photo already taken for a lot of posts I might want to write. So, if I ever don’t have the time to take photos, I can usually pull from there. The Flickr app allows me to save my own photos and then I can upload them to WordPress. Job done!

As I begin to venture into the world of YouTube, the YouTube app has come in very handy, as has the YouTube Creator Studio app. It shows me views, stats, trends and comments all from one place. It also allows me to push videos live, share and copy links right from the app.

For planning I like to use the notes section on my phone, when out at about, and for proper planning I’ll use my Ultimate Blog Planner from Dot Creates. This planner allows me to make in depth notes, or even start writing the blog there and then. There are sections where I can write prompts for photo ideas I’ve had too. It’s really invaluable.

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Photo lighting comes in the form of either the Earth’s sun or, because this is England, I have a pair of softbox lights which I use for both photography and video. They’re pretty new to me so I’m still getting the hang of them, but I love the natural light they throw out. You can find the set I bought from Amazon here!

Other than on my phone, for photo editing on my laptop I use a really old version of Paint Shop Pro. I could upgrade but I know this software like the back of my hand, and if it ain’t broke, don’t fix it! I also use this software to make any graphics I need for my blog or elsewhere.

So, those are my ‘can’t do without’ blogging tools. I hope this helps you with your blog planning and editing, and please let me know if you use something you love that I haven’t mentioned!

January Favourites

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And so we move into the second month of the year, in the hope that we can bypass the cold weather and all of a sudden be honoured with Spring-time. I wish!

It’s been crazy cold, icy, some people have had snow; but we have had plenty of lovely winter sun, so it’s not all bad.

This month, as well as upping the frequency of my blog posts a little, I’ve been able to post up a couple of videos to my YouTube channel, which is really exciting.

As well as that there have been some fab things on the TV, great music and I’ve had the chance to try out some of the beauty things I got for Christmas AND splurge a little on the January sales…

Let’s start with some music.

Ed Sheeran announced his new album and released two tracks from it, which went straight to number 1 and 2.

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My favourite of the two is Shape of You which I’ve had on repeat ever since. I can’t get enough of it, and I’m excited to hear the rest!

I mentioned in a past post I wrote about my 2016 in blogging, a planner that I’d picked up from Dot Creates.

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The Ultimate Blog Planner is a spiral bound notebook with sectioned pages designed to allow you to plan out your blogs as and when inspiration hits.

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I’ve actually started to really fill up the pages! Because it’s not dated you can write in it as and when you want, and it means you’ll never forget that glimmer of an idea you have because you can run and write it down when you have it! They come in 3 designs and are really inexpensive, so if you blog – go get one!

On a recent January sale shopping excursion we headed into The White Company, a shop I didn’t really go into, and saw they had a sale on their towels. We really needed to replace our towels since they were a wedding present 10 years ago – they’re still going strong, but they’d been washed and washed and washed… you get the picture. Anyway, we found these amazingly soft and HUGE bath sheets, hand towel and face cloth all in their sale.

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I swear when I wash my face with the face cloth it’s like rubbing my face with a fluffy puppy…. and when I get out of the bath and use my towel – woah mumma!

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Next, I finally took the plunge and bought a Beauty Blender. I’d never actually used a beauty sponge, but thought I’d see if they had any discounts on the Beauty Blender website. I managed to get a gift set which contained a pink and black sponge, a black micro sponge, a black oil blotter sponge and black sponge cleansing soap for £32 which I think is pretty good! They also included a free mini white sponge cleansing soap and mini cleansing liquid bottle too! So I think I got a great deal.

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Anyhow, I used the micro sponge and the pink Beauty Blender this past weekend and I’m really impressed. I’m mostly impressed with the micro sponge, and how it’s improved the look and longevity of my undereye concealer. Win!

Next, I want to talk about cleansing. I’ll admit it, that before Christmas I ONLY used miscellar water makeup wipes. They did me no harm, and they did the job. But since receiving the Liz Earle Cleanse and Polish cleanser at Christmas I have seen the error of my ways. It’s amazing.

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Not only does this variation smell amazing, but it’s so soft on my skin. It’s moisturising, gets all of my makeup and mascara off my face without needing to scrub and it leaves my skin feeling amazeballs!

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And last is this incredible body scrub from The Body Shop. I picked this up in their sale for about £6 I think.

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If you were reading my blog last year, you’ll know I’m pretty obsessed with any body products that are coconut and pineapple scented. So when I saw this, I HAD to get it.

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Not only does it smell amazing though, the product is incredible. It’s very soft and has just the right about of exfoliating grit in it. You rub it over your skin and afterwards you feel soft and moisturised for DAYS. I mean it – no need to moisturise afterwards but you’re not feeling greasy or anything. I’m obsessed!

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I’m hoping this is a whole range because I’ll definitely be picking up more scents if it is!

And that’s it for another month! Have you tried any of these? I’d love to hear what you think 🙂

2016: My Year in Blogging

I think this year has to have been one of my most consistent blogging years, the last one being during my year of half marathon training.

And I know exactly what changed it; the blogging community on social media and actually being actively social.

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Blogging has changed a huge amount since I started. I’ve been writing a blog for around 15 years and this particular blog for 7 and a half now. I’m so proud that Musings of a So-Called Shutterbug is the way that it is and that people seem to like it!

I started the year with around 300 email subscribers and ended it with over 600. After having started dabbling with makeup I started to see my reader stats increasing and people seemed to be interested in that kind of content. I’m not going to lie, as much as my blog posts are written for me, no one will deny the draw to being popular. Especially in such a competitive environment. And it’s SO competitive.

When I started blogging it wasn’t popular. It was something emo kids and poets did. For the record, and though there’s nothing wrong with being either of those things, I’m neither. I was just putting thoughts to ‘paper’ and then releasing them into the great ocean of the internet. I think that’s why I get on with twitter so much. You have a thought, you release it, and then it’s gone (for the most part!).

When I began putting in that extra 10% effort this year, I could see it made all the difference. But I also saw that the world of blogging, this expansive Blogosphere, was totally different from how it was when I started. EVERYONE has a blog. The content is rarely original, but when it is, it’s so good. And people can really make money from blogging. People are jacking in their 9-5 jobs to work for themselves and become influencers full-time.

And not only that, the popularity contest is so fierce that people actually pay for followers. Things I didn’t know even existed were brought to the forefront – people spend hours scheduling tweets to go out on a weekly basis. They will plan posts months ahead, spending hours perfecting their Media Kit and profile pages to be PR friendly. I have, for the time being, decided that a media kit and PR related type stuff is not for me. The other day someone had to explain to me what an Insta Pod was – I’m still not 100% sure…

A few years ago I dabbled, and worked with companies reviewing their stuff. I worked with Vita Coco, Chobani and a few tea companies. I had chocolate and yogurt coming out of my ears and finding the time to review everything was hard. I found my content was becoming watered down this ad content and I decided to let it go.

I also found it’s so hard to get noticed in the seas of ‘young’ ‘hip’ bloggers who understand social media and branding way more than I can at my mid 30’s. It’s frustrating to think that the 40th review someone has read about the latest Zoella perfume can get so much more engagement than a post I write about travel or a favourite charity….. But still.

So since I considered myself pretty good at twitter I set up a second twitter account dedicated to Musings and let it loose on the world. I got a few followers but they were mainly people who I already knew. And nothing seemed to happen….. Then I realised that I was being totally dumb and in order for people to engage with me I needed to engage with them. It’s been to the detriment of my personal twitter account, I must admit, but even so, I have really enjoyed it.

Things really started to fly when I discovered The Bloggers Hub (or I think they might have found me!), a network of like-minded bloggers who chat, help each other and are really fun. The guys who run the network are great, welcoming, and really help to boost your exposure all at the same time. They seem like the kind of people I’d really get on with IRL and there’s zero bitchiness from anyone, which is the one thing that had put me off being involved in any other twitter blogger network. Their twitter chat was also the first one I ever participated in (and since I’ve never felt the urge to join in with any others, if I’m honest). Through them I’ve found some amazing, friendly and really down to earth bloggers. I’ve also had my eyes opened to some of the pitfalls of blogging, some of the drama and plenty of the scams.

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Through twitter I got the balls to start my YouTube channel too, which is still very much in its infant stage. But it’s great to know there’s an outlet I can push my videos through, when I really want people to know what I’ve been creating.

Something I’ve always had an issue getting over, so not just this year, is the fear of putting what I really think onto the screen. And by that I mean, I sometimes have the strong urge to write a response to something that might be going on in the press or something in my life, but I’m afraid of the responses I might get. Sometimes it’s a social or political issue that I don’t feel like I know everything about but I still have a strong opinion on. I might know enough to write a post about it, but someone who knows more about it than me might comment and I won’t be able to stand my ground. This is something I hope, in time, I’ll get over. But the more exposure my blog gets, the higher the chance that someone might respond negatively to what I’ve written. I mean let’s face it, beauty bloggers get flack for using too much product in their swatches so what hope do I have if I start to comment on politics?

I also had the chance, towards the end of the year, to attend a couple of Blogger events. One was too far from home, but one was right where I live, and I chickened out. Apart from it being too much money for what you got, I didn’t feel ready to take that scary leap and be social with people I’d never met. The fear was too great. But maybe this year I’ll take the leap. There’s one blogger I’ve been friendly with for the past year, who I would consider a friend even though we’ve never met. Maybe meeting her this year will be the first step to conquering this fear. I think I need my hand held!

So what does 2017 and blogging hold for me? This year I upgraded my Peanuts Moleskine notebook, where I usually write in long hand, a full blog, if I have the idea in my head and I need to get it out. I bought a Dot Creates Blogger Planner. Inside it’s got loads of space for planning upcoming blogs. Up until now I’d either use my Peanuts Moleskine or more often just open a new page on my iPhone Notes app. This can be a little clumsy and when it comes to things like this, I appreciate putting pencil to paper more. This blog planner will also be great for planning YouTube video ideas and it makes my brain feel a little more organised!

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So planning will be important in 2017, though I don’t feel like I’ll ever be the kind of person who can sit, plan and write out posts months in advance. I’m far too much of a spur of the moment, type out whatever’s in my brain right now, kind of blogger.

I know I’ll continue with twitter because it’s been so much fun, socialising with everyone and learning too. I considered dabbling with scheduling tweets, but I enjoy actually engaging in real-time too much. Even scheduling blog posts too far ahead of time makes me feel distant from my content, so for the time being I won’t be scheduling tweets.

I’m going to work on my brand, but I want to keep it real. I don’t want to find myself moving back to where I was when I was doing PR and collaborations. That’s not me – if I talk about a product it’s because I love it and I’m just doing the same as if I told my friends about something amazing that I’d tried. And I want my readers to know that too. If I’m telling you about it, it’s because it’s worth talking about!

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I can honestly say that 2016 was my most enjoyable year in blogging, and I hope 2017 follows suit. I now know that putting that little bit of extra effort in, finding your tribe and being social makes a whole heap of difference. There’s a reason it’s called social media but for someone who isn’t incredibly outgoing or social I was just a little slow on the uptake.

But it’s okay now, because I got there eventually. And I love it!

This Week I Have Been Mostly….

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You guys, we did it! We survived the first week back after the Christmas holidays.

Christmas seems like so long ago now. The trees and decorations are down. There are tell-tale fir-needle patches outside driveways up and down my street where the bin men have taken away old trees. Lights are being removed from houses this weekend, and all of a sudden there seems to be a lot more space in my living room.

I always miss the tree and lights in my sitting room, and as such we have two sets of fairy lights which stay up all year around. One on my mantle and one around a mirror in our hall. It’s lovely to light these on a long summer evening and it looks like fire-flies in the balmy warmth (I wish things were a little warmer right now). That being said, I usually make myself feel bad by flicking to the weather forecast in Orlando, however this weekend the weather has gotten down to 3 centigrade there so maybe I don’t feel so bad right now.

This week we’ve had -4 degree weather at points. In fact the day it got to -4 it was -2 when I woke up, -3 when I left the house and had reached -4 by the time I’d arrived at work.

Even though it was a 4 day week it managed to feel 7 days long, and my sleeping pattern has suffered due to the 10 day break. I’ve been tired all day, and felt that for sure I’d be dribbling on the sofa and ready for bed by 9:30pm – but alas I was feeling bright-eyed and bushy-tailed as soon as I got into bed. I have also been waking up around 5am and needing to pee desperately and so getting back to sleep has been a massive pain in the bum. I usually fall into a gorgeously deep sleep about 10 minutes before my alarm and then feel rotten when I need to get up – thereby starting the cycle again. Awesome!

Anyhow, despite this, work was good and I even managed to get some more blog posts written. I’ve really enjoyed blogging this past year. I’ve written a separate blog all about my past year in blogging, which you should keep an eye out for if you’re interested.

I also decided I didn’t spoil myself enough in the sales and so spent an obscene amount of money on makeup this week. More on that when it all arrives….. I also treated myself to some hair products from Grow Gorgeous and a new blog planner, which I’ve already started using and can see it being really useful. But again, more on that in that blogging post coming in the next few days!

The last couple of things I picked up were books, which had been priced crazy low on amazon. I bought a cook book for £4 which I’m glad I only spent £4 on because on getting it home and flicking through it I don’t see anything I’d like to make, so far. Poopies. I also bought the Adnan Syed book ‘Adnan’s Story’ which was on my Christmas list but no one bought for me. It was only £5 and I didn’t want the price to go up so I hit ‘add to basket’!

This weekend, other than shopping irresponsibly, I have watched another couple of Netflix documentaries. Aileen: Life and Death of a Serial Killer is about Aileen Wuornos the female serial killer who murdered 7 men in the late 80’s and was given multiple life sentences. I’d seen the film Monster about her year’s back and it was very interesting so thought I’d give the documentary a try.

We also watched Audrie and Daisy about young girls in America who had been sexually assaulted by their peers and the aftermath. This was an incredibly powerful and also frustrating watch. I highly recommend it. I actually found myself crying at the end over both the strength of the girls and also out of frustration of the world and the people in it. Please watch it if you get the chance.

Something I’ve been promising for a while is my Walt Disney World video – I’ve been putting it off for a couple of reasons. Firstly, it’s a massive job – I’ve got quite a lot of footage, not a lot of face to camera stuff so I need to work out how I’m going to link it all. But probably the most important reason I’ve been putting it off is that once it’s done, it kind of puts a close to our Florida holiday. And I’m not ready for that yet. So it will happen, and hopefully soon, but it’ll happen when I’m ready. I really can’t wait to watch the footage again if I’m honest, but it’ll be bittersweet!

So that was my week. I’ve been fighting off the urge to hibernate and come out for Spring, but as it happens I’ve been managing to peel myself from my cosy bed and go out into the freezing cold world. Speaking of freezing cold – I’ve been really enjoying watching the Instagram stories of the people I follow. So many people have had snow all over the world and watching their videos of snow falling, wintry walks and calm white vistas has been magical. It’s for that reason I’m so pleased that social media outlets exist like that.

What have you been up to this week?

To Blog & Vlog

Hi guys! Firstly, I made a boo boo with my last post. I wrote and then accidentally published it without scheduling first, so had to un-publish it. But that meant all you lovely subscribers got an email with a broken link in it to the post. Oh no! And then when it finally did go live, no one got notified. Dang! So if you missed it, it was a blog about the past bank holiday and all the fun stuff we got up to, so you can find it here! (Go ahead and click the link – it’ll open in a new window so you can read it right after you’ve read this!)

For my next update, I’ll let you know I’m not planning an August or September Favourites post. Mainly because I don’t have much content for August, and also because September is jam packed full of fun stuff and I just won’t have time! But October’s Favourites will no doubt be mahoosive, so stay tuned for that!

So now for my real post.

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There’s been a lot of chat this past few weeks about the legitimacy of bloggers and vloggers. If you don’t blog or vlog yourself, you’ll not likely be aware of the pressures people put upon themselves when putting out content. Readers and viewers have too much say in other people’s content, in my opinion. It wasn’t until I recently started my dedicated blog twitter (@Shutterbug_Blog) that I realised how salesy it all is. People are OBSESSED with follower counts, stats, click rates and schedules.

They schedule tweets, brand themselves up the wazoo, and really don’t think too much about their actual content. It seems so important to have collaborations with brands, get the perfect flat lay and start polls asking what content their followers want them to put up.

I find it all really strange. I flick through most tweets because I’ve seen the same post come up over and over again. I long to see posts of substance. And don’t get me wrong, they do exist, it’s just you have to really search for them!

I’m not saying I don’t get it. I do, I really do. It’s so hard not to get swept up in the hype. I have geared a lot of my posts this year towards beauty, because it’s something I’ve started getting into this year. And I noticed my post likes, follows and comments go up dramatically when I post beauty reviews. It’s always nice for a post to be popular! And I enjoy reading reviews about products I’m interested in, so I’ll continue to put out that kind of content because I like reading it. But I do find I miss writing these chatty posts, and putting out blogs about what I’ve been up to and what’s coming up. I like to use my brain a little!

I understand going all in when it comes to blogs and vlogs, if it’s your full time job or if you have all the spare time in the world. But when you’re doing it alongside working a full time job, I think you have to take it less seriously. You don’t need a planner for scheduling in your next ‘chatty’ post. You don’t need to film YouTube videos a year ahead just so you know you’re putting something out. If your followers don’t like your content, let them drop off. And above all, don’t apologise for not posting regularly. What’s better – forced, bland posts every other day, or well thought-out and meaningful posts as and when? I know what I prefer to read!

Anyway, I’m blabbering on about this because it’s becoming more a more frustrating to exist in a blogging world where you feel like you’re having to compete with so many other bloggers. People who are putting out bland, repetitive content but might be good at branding themselves, or at least bombarding enough people with tweets that they get additional followers (or even buy followers!)

I’m so blessed to have you guys as followers, and I hope you enjoy the variety of the content I bring. I hope I haven’t alienated too many of you with the beauty posts, and in turn I hope that if you follow me for the beauty content you aren’t bored by the wordy posts I put out.

That being said, this is where I’d like to announce that I’ve started my own YouTube channel! This year I’ve been enjoying watching YouTube channels so much, both beauty based and also Disney Vloggers, that I loved the idea of having somewhere that my friends and family could follow my trips and travels, and also bring another dimension to Shutterbug.

Having just bought my new Sony a5000 and tested out the video quality, I was beyond happy with the results, so as of writing this my channel has 3 videos on it, and I’d love it if you’d have a look and even subscribe.

I’m taking my new camera away when we go to Florida, and I hope to film during the holiday and then upload some videos when we get back. It’s going to be amazing to have another way to share this trip with you guys, instead of just blogging about it.

Don’t get me wrong, this blog is my baby and it won’t be neglected – it’ll just be a little bolt on to the Musings of a So-Called Shutterbug package!

So this rambling post does have a point, honest – I’m frustrated about the current state of the blogosphere, but I’ve been doing this for over 10 years now, Shutterbug for 7, and I’m not about to give it up based on low numbers or click rates. I’m so blessed that even a handful of you guys read this blog, and I always love to read your comments and see you hitting the ‘Like’ button.

You can follow me over on YouTube by visiting my channel here. I’d love it if you were to click the subscribe button, hit like on my videos once you’ve watched them, and don’t forget to comment – I love hearing from you guys!

So this is where I’ll sign off, but if you blog, vlog or just exist in this world, remember: It’s nice to be important, but it’s more important to be nice 😀

Love you guys!

 

Dear Bloggers and Aspiring Bloggers….

Dear bloggers and aspiring bloggers,

You are unique. Just as IRL you are the only one of your kind. I want to see you shine and prosper. When I click on your link I want to see something unique, individual and I want to see your opinion. If you don’t agree with me, I respect you. I want to hear why you feel the way you do. I want to hear your passion and conviction. I love seeing your individuality shine – I praise you for that.

It’s just so sad I don’t see you very often. I click on so many links and see the same old stuff. I see the same products reviewed, I see the same blogs retweeted. It makes me sad that you’re so concerned about getting your flatlay perfect that the content isn’t there. I want to hear about what that expensive skin cream did for your skin after a month of using it, and whether you’d re-buy it. I want to read about what movie you saw and what you thought about it, at the trendy roof-top cinema club in London, and not just see photos and hear about how you managed to make the list. Give me substance, give me depth and make me feel something for you.

When I started blogging around 15 years ago, I was in a minority. People thought it was weird if I told them I wrote a blog, but to me it’s simply keeping a diary. I wrote, and still write, my blog for me. I write what I did, what I saw, and what I think. I don’t have thousands of followers, I don’t need them. (Of course it would be flattering though) I don’t seek acceptance, but I appreciate every follow, every comment and every share. If one person enjoys what I write, then I’m happy. (And usually that one person is me!)

I recently set up a dedicated twitter account for this blog (@Shutterbug_Blog if you fancy following! – I’m still okay with a shameless plug!) and it allowed me to follow blog sharing accounts and bloggers in a closed environment that didn’t flood my personal twitter account. It totally opened a new world to me. It’s a world where people will fight for followers, suck up, and retweet the same blog over and over again ad nauseam (this makes me not want to follow you btw). I’ve found out you can schedule tweets, which seems like a massive waste of time to me. And I’ve discovered a community of Regina Georges. People who will act so cosy with you but secretly it’s a case of sucking up to gain momentum for yourself.

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Obviously this isn’t exclusively the case, as I’ve also met some really amazing bloggers too. These are bloggers who don’t take themselves too seriously, they speak from the heart and tell the truth, and you can just tell they’re genuine. Fake-bloggers (or floggers as I coined them a while back)- I can see through you, and so can others.

The obsession for followers makes people act obsessively. It makes people call out others when they’re unfollowed (seriously, you can find out who unfollowed you and call them out on it….) If I get unfollowed it’s okay – seriously I don’t mind. If you don’t want my content in your feed, then I don’t want it there – no biggy. I actually had someone comment on a post the other day and mention they were actually afraid to attempt a flatlay. That seems crazy to me, but I understand it. The pressure to get EVERYTHING perfect on a blog is so high. But when all you see is the same thing from everyone, how do you stand out? You stand out by showing your personality in your photos. You have an opinion, and if other people don’t agree then you either listen to their counter argument (if they articulate it clearly) or if they’re just darn abusive you let their venom shine out for all to see.

London Beauty Queen wrote a really interesting series of tweets a few weeks back about how it’s not normal for a 20-something to own a new designer bag every week, and followed it this week with a really interesting blog you need to read. What she wrote is so true – what professional and successful bloggers and Vloggers are portraying is often unattainable. When we see celebrities acting the same way we know to take it with a pinch of salt, but when we see people we view as being on the same level as us acting the same way, we suddenly feel bad about ourselves. And eventually we stop being able to relate to them and turn away. I want to read about the pretty, hard-working blogger tripping on the tube. I want to see a photo at their posh burger lunch where they’ve accidentally dribbled sauce down their front. I want to read a tweet where they’re feeling irritated by life, but still plodding on. I want REAL people. Give me REAL people!

So, dear blogger and aspiring blogger, my advice to you today is to remember to write from the heart, write for yourself and remember to be kind. You’re writing a blog for one of three reasons:

  • For you
  • For money
  • For celebrity

My recommendation is to write your blog for you. If the other two come as a result of this, then I’ll give you a high five. Money and/or popularity are shoddy foundations to build your blog on and you’ll end up stressed and obsessive like so many bloggers I see. Happiness cannot be attained from this – you’ll just get a stomach ulcer.

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Blood and Blogging

My week so far has been fairly uneventful. Though it is only Tuesday so what else can be expected?

I say uneventful but I did almost pass out yesterday after bending my thumbnail back half way down the nail bed, and after seeing the blood I lost consciousness for a few seconds and then could hear nothing but ringing in my ears for about a minute. So that was fun. But my nail didn’t break so I guess I have OPI Nail Envy to thank for that.

It’s annoying how I manage to cope with pain and stuff but as soon as I see blood that’s it, I’m gone. And it’s not even like seeing someone else’s blood does the same thing, or talking about blood, or seeing it on the TV – I only have that reaction when it’s my blood…. And thinking about it now I’m fine, and I know how odd it is. I can’t rationalise it. One minute I’m fine…. Until I’m not.

G and I have been feeling rather under the weather, him more so, but we’re both feeling incredibly run down. The weather isn’t helping. We’re being offered a smidgen of spring, and before we know it we’re watching snow falling outside. I’ve picked up some lovely new summer tops for my trip in September but I’d rather like to start wearing them soon, please.

Next weekend is a Bank Holiday, so a 3-day break, and we’ve got some stuff planned which is nice. I’m hoping the sun shines and it brings some of my happy back.

I’ve been really enjoying reading more blogs and seeing what other people are writing. As much as I love to read all about makeup and fashion, it’s great to see there’s still some intelligent and substantial blog writing happening. Sure it doesn’t bring in as many ‘likes’ or follows as the latest palette review, but I appreciate it. And I’m not suggesting that beauty isn’t an intelligent subject, but you know what I mean.

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I was listening to This American Life in the car on the drive home today, and they were talking about memories. The journalist hosting that particular part of the podcast was talking about how people she was afraid to forget parts of her life so much that she kept boxes upon boxes of memories so that’s she could look back and reminisce – she’d even lugged them to no less than 12 apartments over 10 years. That describes me perfectly (the memory part not the 12 apartment part). I’m so afraid of having an awesome time and forgetting it over the years – it’s petrifying.  I think that’s why I blog. It’s like a living journal – the living part being you guys, my readers. I love knowing you’re out there and that you like reading what I’ve written. My blog was started just for me, to memorialise parts of my life, but years on I now love how it’s an outlet to interact with like-minded people.

Over the years I’ve focussed on books, then fitness, running, food and now beauty. And a lot of you have come along for the ride. It’s nice to have you here!

So the rest of my week will be full of sweaters and chilly evenings wishing the heating wasn’t on. But if the forecast is to be believed things might be picking up by the end of next week. Until then I’ll keep my scarves out and curse the snow flurries. It’s April, Man. Give us a break!

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Social Media Is Amazing

Social media is amazing. It gives you a voice, it gives me a voice (thanks for reading!), it gives celebrities a voice. But it also gives an amazing amount of anonymity.

This is both wonderful and frightening. Public opinion and freedom of speech is now amplified and at the fingertips of every man, woman and child all over the globe.

And it’s petrifying. Celebrities are bullied and ridiculed by their ‘fans’. People appear to have the time to make themselves feel better about their own lives by spending every waking minute finding people they dislike and telling them that. Catfishing is a thing. And, God forbid, you have an opinion.

I made the mistake a few weeks ago of making a comment on twitter with regards to an Asian L’Oréal advertisement that featured a heavily photoshopped photograph of Emma Watson promoting a skin product that whitened the skin. The tweet linked to an article about the dangers of skin whitening and the how bad it was that Emma Watson was the face of this (I think, I got a little bored of the article and stopped reading). My comment simply stated that, as under contract, Emma probably couldn’t comment about this product or advert and that she was mostly likely unaware that her image would be used to promote it anyway. Plus the photo was an awful photoshop job. (All this in 140 characters, I’m a genius). My comment wasn’t saying that I was on either side of the argument being put forward, it was just simple fact. I got quite a few comments back, that I think were annoyed at my comment. I say I think, because my comment wasn’t putting an opinion forward so I couldn’t be sure where my repliers sat themselves….. I got so confused I ended up deleting my comment and chastised myself for having an opinion – or not having an opinion (I’m still confused).

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What this taught me was that people are insane. Cray cray. Bat-shit. Seriously, people appear to get so riled up about stuff on the internet that if they’re not participating in an all-passionate debate (if you can call basically screaming ‘YOU’RE WRONG’ at someone debating) no matter what they believe, then they’re not contributing to the world. Maybe it gives these people a sense of purpose. Let’s hope they can peel themselves away from their phones long enough to register to vote…

I remember Lea Michele (Rachel in Glee) posting up a photo of her with her best friend Jonathon Groff (they were on holiday or hiking somewhere – they love a good hike), not long after Cory Monteith had died. It was great to see her happy and smiling and showing her fanbase that she was recovering the massive loss of her fiancé. But the comments she got from these ‘fans’ were things like ‘You’re killing Cory’s memory’ or ‘Bitch how can you have gotten over him so fast’. They were harsher than this, but actually I don’t think I have it in me to replicate the venom. It shocked me that people, mainly teenage girls, could be so openly cruel. But if they had been stood in front of Lea, they wouldn’t have dared. Incidentally around a week ago Lea Michelle posted another photo of the two of them having fun somewhere and there were only positive comments. People are so fickle.

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I worry about the current generation of social media teens and early twenty-somethings. I find it unnerving that 16 year old girls are better at self-branding than I’ll ever be. (Plus where did their awkward ugly phase go? When I was 16 I was trying to get hair mascara in my hair and learning that it’s never a good idea to wear lipgloss on a windy day – not perfecting my cat eye and the latest ombre lip!)

I think it’s amazing to have an opinion. I love to have an opinion, and I love to share it. But I’ve learned over the years that even if the opinion of others doesn’t match yours, it’s important to listen and respect. You learn that way. You learn, not only about the other person, but you learn about yourself and why you believe what you do.

I used to think people who wore makeup every day were fraudsters. Now I believe they’re artists. I love to put on a face of makeup, fiddle about with different looks and use my face as a palette. But at the same time, if I see someone who has done their face in a way I don’t like, I’ll think “woah doesn’t she have any mirrors at home?” And how dare I? Just because her style isn’t to my taste, good for her for spending the time and leaving the house looking how she wanted to look. (As long as it’s not a façade – don’t get me started on fake bloggers or Flogging [a term I coined a while back!]) I’ve learned that having this opinion says more about me than them – I’m jealous that that woman has the guts and skill to go out and rock the look she’s rocking. She has self-confidence and she doesn’t care what people think of her.

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The internet is full of scary people, but it’s also full of amazing people. Its blogging community is kind and friendly. I’ve even met a handful of people online, over the years, that I would proudly call good friends IRL (you know who you are!).

It’s a confusing world out there, made even more confusing but people who have opinions that probably aren’t even their real opinions. But hey, if everyone agreed, what a boring world this would be.