9 Things for 9 Years – Things I’ve Learned on Musings’ 9th Birthday!

Oh yes, Musings of a So-Called Shutterbug turned 9 this past week! How exciting is that?

Despite having been blogging for 20 years this year (omg!), this particular little home-of-my-thoughts has been going for 9 whole years. Other than my marriage I think this is the longest I’ve ever stuck at anything!

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To mark this momentous occasion, I thought I’d share 9 important things I’ve learned during this time!

  1. No one will understand what Blogging is or why you do it, unless they blog themselves or read blogs. Even if it’s friends and family you’re talking to, they just won’t ‘get it’. You can say it’s your hobby until you’re blue in the face but unless you’re telling them you’ve taken up martial arts or cross-stitch, you’re going to be talking to a brick wall. If they read blogs or blog themselves, on the other hand, then you’re golden.
  2. Blogging isn’t for fame or free stuff. There are mega downsides to both of them. You get fame and you get bashed for being fake (there are plenty of big bloggers giving the honest ones a bad name), you get trolled and you find yourself having to make a choice between staying true to yourself or getting the big deal and engagement. And then if you’re getting loads of free stuff you feel like you’re working all the time. You might get to go to great places but it’s not to relax, it’s to work and portray the perfect perspective for the brand, or try out 50 face creams in one week and still try to keep your skin feeling tip-top.
  3. You have to write for you, and only you. I don’t have the biggest readership (HI!) but I appreciate each and everyone who does read (HI again!). But I can’t focus on engagement stats or let them get me down if they’re not what I expect. Sure it can be hard to put your heart into an article for it to be swept away in the masses of mediocre new Urban Decay palette reviews, but I always remind myself, I’ve written everything I write just for me.
  4. Blogging can be daunting. From month to month you can be posting away and all of a sudden you can get contacted by 5 or 6 different PR companies all asking you if you’d like to post for them. It’s fantastic to be wanted, but the pressure can be huge, especially if the what you’re receiving in return is hefty. My aim in writing a blog isn’t for money, however when you’re representing a brand in what you write, you want to be as honest and professional as you can be.
  5. You can start to see things a little skewed. I’m constantly seeing people talk about spending money on props for photos, going to specific cafes for brunch because it’s the place all the ‘bloggers’ hang out. I always keep it real with my blogs. If I blog about a place I’ve been it’s because I was going there for some reason anyway, not just to blog about it. I don’t think I’ve ever bought something for prop’s sake, so I can photograph it.
  6. Never under-estimate the power of community. About 2 years ago, I jumped into the blogging twitter community. It’s changed a lot since then, but back then the sense of support and community was epic. I’ve met some amazing people through it, and even though we all seem to have drifted from twitter slightly, I still check in with them from time to time.
  7. Don’t feel you have to utilise every single platform out there. I dabbled with YouTube and though my most popular video currently has 5.2k views and counting (what?) I felt like it wasn’t for me. It was forced, and doing it for the sake of doing it. I enjoy watching my Disney World video, but at the time I was too self-conscious to film properly, and I never felt like it was worth my while to overcome that. I do quite enjoy instagram stories though, and who knows what will occur with IGTV!
  8. If you get writer’s block, don’t force it. Sit that one out. Only write when you have something worth writing, otherwise you’ll fall into that trap of putting out content you’re not 100% happy with. It’s not worth compromising!
  9. And I’ll finish with the most important one: I’m still into blogging for the reason I started. I wanted to write and put my thoughts out. Again, I feel like sometimes it’s more valuable to me if I think no one has actually read what I’ve written, since I’m such an introvert. But it’s nice to know it’s out there!

So those are my 9 things for 9 years! Who knew I’d continue to have the momentum to keep it going for all this time?! Not me!

If you’ve been reading for a long time, short time, or this is your first time here, Thank You so much for popping by! And I hope you’ll stick around 🙂

 

This Week I Have Been Mostly….

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Hi guys, I thought I’d take the opportunity to check in, as it’s been a little while since I posted one of these. I didn’t expect to be sat here writing this post, whilst outside the place where I live is covered in snow AGAIN. It’s mid-March! I need some Spring now. I hope you’ve been enjoying the food and beauty posts that have been coming up. I even posted a book review!

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These past few weeks I’ve been a bit quiet on social media. Well, specifically on Twitter, I’ve been loving instagram. I just haven’t had anything to say on Twitter to be honest. I like to follow the rule of ‘if you’ve got nothing nice to say then don’t say anything at all’. I feel like I’ve had to hold my tongue a lot in the past but for a few reasons the past couple of weeks have been particularly tough. I don’t want to start becoming part of the problem. And then twitter drama in the blogging community this past weekend, cause a LOT of angst amongst people I follow and it’s meant some people have shown their true colours, even though I pretty much always know where to look when it comes to the drama. I fear the twitter community, for bloggers anyhow, creates a fake level of self-importance. I mean, the whole industry is based on the assumption that people want (and need) to hear what you think, so when it’s done in 280 characters, it can cause confusion and conflict. Anyway, I stayed out of it, but managed to put my two cents in with a tweet which covers both sides of the argument;

“Don’t be a dick. The end”

I didn’t need 280 characters to make my point.

Speaking of social media – does anyone remember Vero…..? That lasted all of 20 minutes didn’t it? I suppose if they’d made it so that you could actually use the app when the big rush happened, people might have bedded in, but I forget it’s on my phone. After 3 days of not being able to login, it didn’t really make an impression and so to me it’s another dead platform….. I might be wrong in the future, but for now buh bye Vero.

The past few weeks have been tiring! Work has been busy, I haven’t been getting good quality sleep and I’ve been feeling run-down and not entirely well. I need Spring to happen now. I long for the sunshine, and the warmth, and not having to wear all my clothes in one go. Unfortunately, I think my hayfever season has started, so even though there’s currently snow on the ground, I’m taking antihistamines, and they’re making a difference…. I swear I should have been put down a while back.

I’ve got an exciting event to attend at the end of this week, and that involves meeting some new people. Something I’m always nervous about, but feeling (at time of writing) fairly okay with. It’s local, and it’s doing something I’ve never done before, so I’m excited. All part of trying new things this year!

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I’m still plodding away with learning calligraphy (which you can follow here on instagram) and I’ve been reading a lot more than I usually do. The first book from the Slow Sunday Book Club has been read, reviewed and discussed (see start of post for my review link) and the second book has been announced: Surprise Me by Sophie Kinsella. It’s not my usual choice of reading material so I’ve yet to decide whether I’ll be joining in this month, but I did pick up another book on recommendation from Amyleigh at Northern Blood. It’s called A Monster Calls, by Patrick Ness. She’s got great taste in reading material so I’m looking forward to diving into it.

G-Man and I have just completed watching the 3rd and final season of the Netflix show Love. It’s a Judd Apatow show, and I love all his stuff, so if you do too and you haven’t watched it, I highly recommend it. It’s really really good. I’ve also been watching Crashing, after being told by Gary I had to. And he’s right, it’s a good show (which also Judd Apatow’s involvement) based on the true story of the main actor, who is trying to make it in stand-up. I’ve been really enjoying TV and films about stand up recently!

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So for now, I’m still stuck in my state of hibernation, which really isn’t helping my mental state of ‘let’s stay in bed and sleep until summer’, because really I’m eager to actually get up, go out and do stuff. But the weather and the coldness is making me feel slow and lethargic. I just want some sunshine! Maybe, if we all wish for it hard enough, it might just happen? Ready…….. GO!

 

 

I’ve Been Thinking…

It’s been 20 years since I started blogging, and the last 2 or 3 have been a whirlwind. I discovered the blogging community, put my heart and soul into it, and learned a lot about how to play the blogging game.

I found out that 15 year olds are evolving into marketers, pushing their brands, and understanding engagement better than me. I also saw the darker side – successful bloggers and vloggers prepared to lie to gain follows and likes at the cost of people who they would have previously called friends. Greed, jealousy and bitterness prevailing.

It taught me to support people who show courage and confidence, no matter what my taste. To support the endeavours of people who follow their dreams and display integrity. But most recently, I’ve learned that it’s okay to step back.

I’ve learned all of these things, but in the last few months the blogging community has become bitter and disillusioned. I rarely see support or originality any more. The people who I used to talk to have stepped back from twitter (I noticed that they probably moved away at the same time as I did) and I kind of miss them. Twitter chats are now all about the ‘business’ side of blogging and influencing, whereas they used to dabble in this but also involve chats about favourite travel destinations and music. I miss that too.

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In the last couple of years I dabbled in YouTube. Then a few weeks ago I was watching some videos and realised that I actually cringed at the start of one random one that came up in a playlist. It was less professional, badly shot and really just pretty bad. And I thought to myself, I wonder if people feel that way when they see my videos? And from that moment, I decided YouTube isn’t for me. That doesn’t mean I won’t make another video if it seems relevant, but I’m not going to make an effort to try to make videos. It was fun whilst I did it, but I’m not going to force something that doesn’t feel natural.

I also decided that since I don’t want to become an influencer, I really need to just stick to my roots. I don’t want this to be a profession. I don’t want to be pitching to brands, stalking my stats or worrying about likes and follows. I won’t completely ignore the numbers because it’s nice to see progression, it’s nice to get likes and it’s lovely to feel wanted by the people who read my blog BUT I’m not going to chase it. I haven’t updated my media kit in ages, I don’t know what my DA is and I haven’t poured over my twitter analytics in ages. I’m focussing on my content rather than my following. And surely that’s the correct way around, right?

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I read so many blogs that aren’t original, have basically no content, and just ‘fit’ the profile of what a blog should be – they have a decent following, but they don’t stand out. Naturally that makes me question my content, how I promote myself, whether I’m less than them. But I’m not, I’m just not in the same game as them.

Blogging is a creative outlet for me. I enjoy writing, sharing my story and receiving any contact back from my readers. So here is where I get back to it. I’ll post what I want, when I want, as I always have. But when I post I’m particularly proud of gets less engagement than one I consider less interesting, I’ll not fret. I wrote it, I posted it and I’m proud of it.

The end.

OMG! 20 Years of Blogging!

Yes, you read that right. 2018 marks my 20th year of doing this blogging thing.

Over the years I’ve used different platforms and blogged in different ways. This blog you’re reading now, Musings of a So-Called Shutterbug, has been alive for 8.5 years so will be celebrating its 9th birthday this year. Obviously I like this iteration of blogging, however I’ve been going since I have had LiveJournal, Tumblr, Windows Live, MySpace, AcmeCity…. I can’t even remember all of the blogging platforms I’ve used.

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When I started blogging, back when I was 15, the internet was a smaller place. There were fewer people using it – it was only for nerds and geeks. Not every home had a computer, let alone the internet.

Depending on the platform I was using, I wrote about my life, tv shows, films and made graphics for fansites (mainly Buffy and The X-Files). I helped with a film review site and took photos, lots of photos. These are mainly showcased on Flickr, still. I can’t bring myself to delete the older photos whether they’re good or bad. (Btw, this post is smattered with some of these old photos, and I’ve enjoyed looking through them – the one above was taken 10 years ago when I was 25.)

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And then when I started Musings, here on WordPress, everything seemed to click. It wasn’t until a few years ago that I became immersed in the blogosphere and the world that is ‘influencing’.

When I started blogging, it was all about the words. What your story was and how you could put it across. And I still clutch onto that like a security blanket. But now it’s so much harder to get people to read what you write. There are so many younger, prettier, more wealthy people out there. They’re taking amazing photos, seem to have an endless supply of props for their shoots, apparently all have been born with marketing degrees and buckets of confidence to get that elusive candid but obviously set-up shot of them looking at their shoes.

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And more power to those people – but it can get a little frustrating when you read their posts and there’s actually no content, just 50 large photos of the same thing and lots of words that don’t tell you anything about anything. I will say, this isn’t everyone. I read blogs by some amazingly talented writers and photographers, and if you’d like to know who these people are, just follow my twitter because I like to retweet their amazing posts.

Anyhow, I digress. That’s not why I started blogging. I don’t often talk about myself in the ‘real world’ Unless someone asks me directly about something (at which point I can talk for hours until you stop me) but usually people don’t ask me, so I don’t volunteer. I’ve learned that usually people are just being polite, and don’t actually want to know the answer. But I like to share what I want to share (it’s part of being a control freak). And so I blog.

Blogging and photo blogging has taken me through sickness, health, job changes, happy times, events, holidays, style changes, and many many hair cuts.

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It’s made me happy with looking at myself through taking selfies, it’s shown me how to look at the world in a different way – I see the beauty in everyday situations. It’s taught me to see many sides of different situations and think before I speak. It’s allowed me to see different worlds and cultures in places far from me and close to home.

Through reading other people’s blogs I get to live their lives a little, see their worlds and perspectives. Learn what’s important to them and how they feel and see things. I get to watch people change, have children and watch them grow. I see marriages end, relationships start and read about them going through hurt and happiness. It’s like reading an amazing novel, thousands of them in fact, but this is all real life.

For me blogging is not for money, or free things. It’s partly because it’s nice to feel needed, so when I see comments, likes or shares, it’s helps me to carry on. But it’s mostly because I love to do it. My little diary, my little square of the internet. I REALLY enjoy writing, I LOVE to take photos, I enjoy making a connection.

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So even though the blogging world has changed dramatically since I started to diarise my life in this virtual world, I feel like my ‘blogging ethic’ has stayed the same even if it has evolved slightly to allow me to keep my head above water.

I may not have the readership of some, or the engagement of others, but it’s mine. My little space here. So thank you for reading it and here’s to the next 20 years!

My Kind of Christmas – A Look Back

I’ve been writing this blog for 8.5 years and so as you can imagine, I’ve covered Christmas quite a lot, and a fair few times. Back in 2013 (and before I knew that Blogmas existed) I wrote a Christmas related post for every day of advent.

It was fairly hard to do since I had to think of 24 different subjects to write on, all on the theme of Christmas. And this was before I was interested in beauty, before gift guides were commonplace on a blog, and long before advent calendars offered anything more than a chocolate behind the door.

I called it Shutterbug’s Advent Calendar – my friend even made a pretty graphic for me!

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Isn’t it lovely?

Instead of re-hashing what I’ve already written, I thought I might share some of my older posts with you, interspersed with some of the photographs I’ve taken over the years, celebrating the festive season!

So, here we go!:

What’s A Traditional Christmas? (click to read)

In this post from 2012 I talk about what Christmas entailed traditionally for me growing up.

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The Christmas Queen’s Guide To Gift Buying (click to read)

In this post from 2010, I offer my hints and tips for finding the perfect Christmas gift – and 7 years on it’s still relevant! If you’re struggling to find the perfect gift, then head over for some festive inspiration.

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Christmas In A Day (click to read)

As part of my 2013 advent calendar posts, I discussed that year’s Sainsburys advert, which pulled clips from a short film called Christmas In A Day. I say short, it’s just under 50 minutes long, but it’s worth every single minute. The video is still up on YouTube so I’d urge you to click on the video link in the post, grab a cup of something warm and settle in for a film that will give you all the feels. I’ll be honest, I totally forgot about this film, so I’m really pleased I unearthed it in this post. I’ll be giving it another watch this year, for sure.

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Favourite Christmas Movies (click to read)

It wouldn’t be a Shutterbug Christmas without me sharing my all time favourite Christmas movies. You’ll find them in this 2013 post, and they’re still the ones I’d pick!

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Christmas Eve Eve (click to read)

Here’s a post about what could possibly be my favourite day of the Christmas run-up, Christmas Eve Eve!

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Fun Times at Winter Wonderland (click to read)

Last year we made our annual trip to Hyde Park’s Winter Wonderland, and I blogged about it (in fact I also vlogged it, and that video is at the end of the post!) So if you’re interested to see what I got up to, then take a look at this post.

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Looking Back, Looking Ahead (click to read)

This post was actually published at the very end of last year, but it mentions Christmas and New Year traditions we have in our home, and was highly requested by followers on twitter. Each year we write a letter to ourselves and look back and forward on the year past and year ahead. If you’d like to read about this new tradition, then click the link above!

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I hope you enjoy a little look back on my thoughts on Christmas from over the last 8 years. Christmas really is my favourite time of year.

I’m lucky to have a medium to enable me to look back and see what was happening in Christmases past. I hope you’ve enjoyed it too!

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When Fear of Missing Out, Turns to Burn Out

It’s safe to say I’m on the older end of the age spectrum compared with most of the bloggers I come across. I’m still shocked when I hear bloggers I follow talk about taking their GCSEs.

I guess it’s only a shock because way back when I was doing my exams, it was really really geeky to own a computer, let alone admit that you used the internet.

These days everyone appears to have a background in marketing. Kids know how to brand themselves from 16, so as soon as they’re allowed an instagram account, they’ve got their ‘thang’ going and they’re hitting all the likes, follows and they just *know* how to maximise hashtags.

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But one of the things I’m noticing on twitter more and more, is young bloggers asking how people manage to blog, maintain their social accounts AND work either full-time or complete a degree, without burning out or one of these aspects suffering.

I work full-time, I run a blog full-time, instagram and YouTube, as well as managing two twitter accounts. And it’s not easy. But I realise where things need to give in order for me to maintain a balance.

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And I put that insight into knowing how to manage these things, down the different kind of world I grew up. When I was growing up FOMO (or Fear of Missing Out) didn’t really exist for me. The world wasn’t so accessible. You couldn’t find out anything and everything just by picking up a device. As a result you missed out on things. Most of the time I didn’t find out about the thing I’d missed out on until after the fact – I just didn’t know they were happening.

And so now, with knowledge at our finger tips, it’s easy to be tempted into things. Notifications on Facebook telling us that people we know are off to events nearby. Twitter telling us about fun Blogging meet-ups and events. Twitter chats every night – sometimes so many, I’ve been known to participate in multiple chats at once.

But it’s knowing where and when to step back.

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My full-time job is more important that my hobby. It’s how I pay for a lifestyle that allows me to blog, buy fun things and attend awesome events. For a while I was trying to do it all; twitter chats 4 times a week after a full day looking at screens at my job, blogging every weekend (including photos), posting a YouTube video weekly. It all got too much and too tiring, and the schedule that I’d set for myself became a chore. I could feel the first inklings of resentment creeping in.

So I took a step back. I decided to schedule multiple blog posts ahead of time, so I would be able to have weekends off. I decided it was time to reduce time spent on my older twitter account and just focus on one. I stopped YouTube altogether, and decided to take a break until things at home settled a bit. I stopped taking part in ALL the Twitter chats, and only did the ones with subjects that really interested me, or when I was at a loose end.

The result was a more relaxed, less tired Erin. I was also able to spend more time with my husband, who is TOTALLY supportive of my blogging hobby btw. But I realised on nights I was taking part in twitter chats, I was totally ignoring him. I missed him, and we’d been sat right next to each other.

Taking this step back meant that when I was writing articles, I was enjoying it more. I was able to take more time in what I was writing, and I wasn’t just doing it for the sake of hitting a schedule.

It’s so important to remember you don’t have to do it all, in order to feel part of something. If you’re at University and you’re not able to post according to a schedule you’ve set, then change your schedule. If your IRL social life interferes with taking part in a twitter chat, so what? We’ll still be there next week – go live your life. No one worth following you is going to mind if you miss a normal posting day. Plus you’ll have fun stuff to write about next time!

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So, if you’re one of those people who sits down at their laptop and wonders how you’re going to stay awake or motivated enough to write AND live your life – go live it. You’re not going to be missing out if you’re taking YOU-time. Sit and smell the roses, and then come back when you’re ready.

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You’ll feel amazing for it, and you’ll realise that life carries on without you – in the best possible way!

8 Reasons I Love Blogging: It’s Our 8th Blogiversary!

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This is just a quick post to say “Yay” for Musings of a So-Called Shutterbug – it’s our 8th birthday today!

This is the longest I’ve ever consistently written a blog, since starting blogging in around 1998.

To celebrate I thought I’d share 8 reasons why I love blogging!

  1. It’s my own little corner of the internet. I write blog posts for me, and I’ll only put out things I’m proud of, so I love it when people relate to what I write.
  2. I love writing. I’m fairly creative but most of the things I’ve tried, I suck at! But I can write, and I’m glad I have somewhere to do it. And I think I’m not so bad at it. It’s my favourite hobby!
  3. The community is awesome – I’ve only discovered the blogging community in the last year or so, and I’m so pleased I did. As a fairly anti social person, I love that I can stretch my social legs and chat to kindred spirits via social media.
  4. It pushes me to be better at both writing and photography. I think about things in a more creative light.
  5. I love to hear other people’s perspective on things, and blogging allows this debate (as long as you’re not mean!) It’s more than once shown me perspectives I wouldn’t have otherwise considered.
  6. It’s shown me how awesome it is to praise others, and myself on achievements. It was once seen as vain to big yourself up, or take photos of yourself, but I think if you feel good about yourself you should show it. And it’s a great feeling to support other people if you think what they’re doing is great!
  7. Being in the blog community allows me to see what’s going on in the world, discover trends up front and early on and sometimes have the opportunity to work alongside brands. I love that I’m part of a big group of people that brands trust to share their products.
  8. The blogosphere has evolved a LOT since I started all those years ago, and I love how it’s evolved and is still evolving. But we all have the creative freedom to alter how we blog as the season changes. It’s never dull!

So here’s to another fabulous year of blogging!

Do you write a blog? Send me your links in the comments below, and hit me up on twitter @Shutterbug_Blog

I’ll see you there!

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!