Creativity – Changing stuff, being happier, repeating.

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Last week I went on a really good date night. It was good because it was a Thursday and that means it was nearly Friday and there’s never anything bad about that. It was also good because it involved an evening spent in the company of Caitlin Moran – funny Times columnist and author of books which I immensely enjoy.

It was a fairly low key event in The Troxy where she was interviewed by a fellow Times columnist and they talked about all sorts and it was funny and relatable and at times very touching. There was a game of ‘shag, marry, avoid’ involving Trump, talk of masturbating, talk of smelling of soup and talk of being scared of men. I saw Caitlin talk about life and writing at an almost identical event a few years ago and I took away from that exactly what I did from this one – I should stop doing stuff creatively that I don’t like that much and do whatever I want, even if that’s not much at all.

What this did was reinforce a feeling I’ve had for some time now. I haven’t been using my blog or social media in the same way as I have done over the last few years lately because this feeling that it wasn’t really what I wanted to write or do or put my name on kept resurfacing. I’ve been busier than ever before the past five months and this all consuming time has left me unable to blog much, but I also just haven’t wanted to. Massive cba vibes all round, which is not really what you’re meant to admit to people but it’s true. I haven’t wanted to blog, or tweet much or interact online because I started feeling increasingly like I hate everything I’m doing. Instead I’ve been enjoying my job more, getting out more in my spare time and trying to relax and lay off grinding my teeth.

I think when I started out blogging and trying to learn more about online platforms it was for a specific goal. I was looking to change jobs and do something more focused and when I achieved that, for a while it spurred me on to do more. Then after that time, I found myself doing the same as everyone else in what is a very over-saturated market. This feeling has lingered. My time has been limited. My energy has lessened. My motivation for this thing I used to love has frittered away.

I knew all of these feelings existed but I just sort of kept covering them up. I was putting concealer on my creative crisis. Like, hello massive life zit making me feel quite awful, let me just dab you with some nice nude cover-up until you look and feel even worse and people point and stare.

It took that evening of listening to one of my favourite inspirational women who openly tweets about the importance of weeing after you get laid in the battle against cystitis and writes columns about politics and women’s rights at the same time, to truly realise I was fully over my need to blend in and tick boxes. Caitlin Moran talks a lot about having a platform and using it to be honest and open and to reach people in a way you’re comfortable with. That’s why I came to this part of the Internet. That why I started giving WordPress some of my hard earned dollar, but it’s not the same anymore.

I don’t want to write about stuff I see tweeted onto my timeline everyday because I don’t feel I have anything new to offer. People are already doing a mighty fine job in that corner of the market and I don’t feel like it’s my cup of tea anymore. That doesn’t mean I won’t still read it, because I will, I love reading about other people’s lives. I just don’t want to do stuff just to do stuff. I don’t want to have this schedule of box ticking. I don’t want to do what people expect. I want to do stuff that I like, even if only two people read it and one of them is having IT issues and they’re stuck on my website involuntarily.

That is fine. I am happy with that. Sometimes I force my dog to sit on my lap when I feel down and she always comes round to it eventually. If you are stuck on this website I hope you’re easing into it. If not, apologies. Ask Siri to help you.

I know what I want to do with my spare time now. I have this almost fully formed idea in my head of what to burn creative energy on and what my hobbies will be over the next year.

It does involve doing stuff on here and it does involve trying to knit again even though I heard my mum and nan snickering secretly at my first effort (low point). I will essentially do what I want. I will enjoy it. It will be great (probably). Now I am going to lay down because I ate a lot of Thai food then ran for a train and it’s painful.

All the blogging feels and stats from 2016

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Blogging in 2016

The end of this year has come around ridiculously fast. A year that I thought would drag in anticipation of moving and living back at home has flown by. It doesn’t feel possible that January is only a couple of days away.

This has been a weird blog year, particularly towards the end, where I’ve found myself with virtually no time to update, write, plan or do any kind of admin. I’ve also felt out of inspiration and a bit like the extra work isn’t worth it. I did toy with the idea of slowly shutting down and doing something new with the website next year, though I have no ideas for that either. I think this feeling will pass, as it has done by before, and I know this blog will still exist this time next year despite my bad blog mood, I just need some rejuvenation, which I’m hoping 2017 will provide.

Another reason I know I won’t actually pull the plug is because of how much blogging has evolved. It’s gone from strength to strength and while there will always be people who don’t understand the concept of blogging, or put it down as being pointless, flighty lifestyle content, it isn’t. It’s hard work, a lot of work, involves a lot of skill and is a fantastic community, recognised by brands and big companies and it makes a lot of people happy, which counts for more than just something.

Blogging stats in 2016

I didn’t have any goals or major aspirations for my blog this year, which is perhaps where I fell down in the past few months. I’m going to hopefully set some sort of benchmark in 2017, and give myself something to aim for.

It wasn’t a bad year though, far from it.

I reached 471 email subscribers. I got a record number of hits in one month- 12,401 in September. I started averaging at least 200 page views a day from August, which for a little blog like this feels like a solid and steady number.

Aside from numbers, I celebrated two years of blogging and I got a feel for what works best in my writing style, which until earlier this year was still a bit of a mystery to me. I also got to go along to a couple of events, and received invites to several I couldn’t go to, which is a nice feeling even when you can’t attend.

Blogging going forwards

My first aim of 2017 will be to kick this blogging slump aside and sit down and have a proper think about what I want to do next. I want to get on top of planning, stop being such a bad scheduler, start writing more frequently and do more stuff that suits me. I also want to meet more bloggers that I love in real life, go to more events, read more posts and reestablish the feeling of being connected to a community, be it just on Twitter or in real life – hopefully both!

Time to go out and buy another new notebook obviously.

 

 

 

5 times the internet has been good lately #7

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It’s been quite hard to find much good in the past couple of weeks. The news has been doom, gloom and fear and I’ve spent much more time reading about what we can expect from THAT election next year rather than my usual random selection of articles. However, not everything is bad, I have read some nice stuff and watched lots of videos of cats staring out humans to try to keep the balance at bit. These are the links I think are worth clicking if you find yourself with a spare half hour and a cup of tea, or a cocktail in a cup clearly meant for tea (it is winter, we need to treat ourselves):

1) The Obama years, through the eyes of the White House photographer – The Atlantic

So I know this is election related, but I am such a massive Obama fan, and I really love these photos.

2) You can fall in friendship at first site – The Pool

I have a couple of friends who I knew I needed in my life pretty much the first time I met them, so I kind of believe this. I’ve never ever been a believer of ‘love at first sight’ because I find soppy thing horrible, but this is different.

3) Why you should buy from independent brands this Christmas – The Little Plum

I wholeheartedly support this. As someone who has recently been swallowed up by sites like Etsy, I can see a lot more value in shopping this way, avoiding chains and finding gifts for people they aren’t going to get from anyone else. It’s also nice to support people who are out trying hard to make a name for themselves.

4) 15 things that happened the year the first Harry Potter film was released – The Radio Times

It makes me feel almost uncomfortable that 15 years have passed since Philosopher’s Stone hit the cinema, but it’s true. We are all getting older every day. Happy Friday.

5) Scrotal recall, now called ‘Love Sick’, is coming back – Digital Spy

So this isn’t the usual kind of thing I stick in these lists, but this made me happy. I loved this show. I think I  watched it for the first time in bed when I couldn’t be bothered to change the channel or something, and I massively got into it. If you haven’t seen the first series, give it a go if you can find it. Series one was called  Scrotal Recall (lol) but it’s back soon on Netflix as Love Sick soon.

Two years of blogging: stats, lessons and gains

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I didn’t actually realise WordPress told you about your blog anniversary and I clearly missed the year one announcement, because the little notification I got this week was a surprise. Two whole years of writing stuff on here and flinging it about on social media to see if it sticks/anyone reads it. I feel like I should be putting a party hat on my laptop and eating cake with it, but that’s just weird.

At first, I don’t think many people did read my blog and when I first activated this little page, I didn’t expect anyone to. I had another blog I’d been writing solely about a very niche topic, which had become popular in the appropriate community, was used by a couple of small charities and worked well for what it was. It felt weird to suddenly decide to write about anything, in my own name, and try and get strangers to read it and be interested by it. I wasn’t sure I would keep it up, but here we are, two years later, with actual subscribers and comments and followers. It still amazes me slightly.

I’m thankful that I spent a lazy, rainy Sunday two years ago setting this up, because if nothing else, it’s taught me a lot of very useful skills. Skills that have contributed to me getting a new job, made me much more tech savvy, spurred me on to get better at photography and given me a hobby that I really enjoy. I’m not sure how many more years I’ll keep going, and I don’t have a sparkly, organised plan of what I want to do next (maybe I should, I probably should) but for now here’s two years worth of lessons, numbers and reasons to give this is a go if you’ve been feeling tempted.

I’ve learnt:

  • How to work with HTML
  • How to use an SLR camera
  • How to connect with PRs
  • The importance of online communities
  • How to steadily grow a social media account with targeted content
  • How to better judge ideas and when to take risks
  • Better knowledge of blogging, digital marketing, outreach and how to interpret audiences

I’ve gained:

  • The experience of going to events and seeing the sort of stuff brands do behind the scenes, or behind the shelves, if you like
  • Feeling more confident in my writing skills
  • A whole load of new contacts and blogging friends who are empowering, talented and provide me with endless reading material
  • A place to vent about stuff, share stuff I like and generally splurge my feelings
  • A bigger connection with people who have the same health issues as me and a much better grasp on how to cope with those issues.
  • Confidence in putting myself out there

The numbers– I used to find it weird when people shared their stats on blogs because I was always scared of how inadequate mine would look, but I’ve since let that go. I’m still proud that people come by every day to read this blog, even when it’s lacking new content or I’ve been to busy to update. So here we go- this is where I’m at

  • I got my 430th email subscriber today
  • My current daily average has just risen to a steady average of 565 a day, sometimes more, sometimes slightly less
  • My highest ever hits day was last week with 702 page views
  • My stats, despite less content, have doubled this year
  • 7,701 page views occurred last month

There are certain posts and topics that carry my blog into the higher numbers I’ve been seeing lately. There are certain posts which consistently give me views, clicks and show up in my search data, which is obviously great, and this has given me a good idea of what works, what people want to read and what I should focus on going forward. It also reminds me that’s fine to write about whatever you want, because ultimately, a personal blog is a personal blog, despite how nice it feels to see lots of visitors and link clicks on a new post.

This is probably quite a boring blog birthday post. I don’t have anything spectacular to give away or a long gushing post about how much I love the blogging community and all that I’ve gained in the past two years (I do feel it I promise) but I like these little snippets into the workings of blogs. I’m trying to get back a bit of time balance to be able to post more frequently at the moment, because work and other health and fitness commitments have kept me very busy lately, but we’ll see.

If you are one of the people who regularly visit to read this blog, thank you VERY MUCH, it’s so, so appreciated.

6 ways being an avid social media user has genuinely altered my life

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When a colleague asked me if I go home from my job working on social media and spend the evening looking at even more social media, I wanted to say no. I suddenly wanted to be able to say that I’m not all-consumed by scrolling, posting, snapping, replying and commenting, but that would be a lie.

I spend my life online. Ever since I had to start a Twitter account as part of my studies at university, I’ve grown increasingly more wrapped up in the life I lead on the internet- because it is a life. It’s like having another life, but a version that’s in snippets and smaller updates. Starting this blog to connect with people who have the same rare disease as me was another thing that spurred on my social media use.

About four years ago, I was nowhere near the level of social consumption I am now. My Instagram account was stale, only being updated with photos from nights out or my dog weeks after they happen, I used Twitter for pretty much one function only (connecting with a certain health community) and my main Facebook use was posting photos. it was starting working in the digital marketing/social media sector that took things to a whole new level, which isn’t surprising. What does surprise me, is that I don’t want to put it down at the end of the day, despite it being a job 9-5, I don’t feel like I have had enough or need a break, I just keep going.

I’ve read loads of stuff about taking social media breaks and the benefits of unplugging and I did last year for a couple of weeks- one of which was spent deep in Irish countryside, so it was easier to pry myself away with no signal and no option but to surrender my phone to the bottom of the bag. But I don’t feel like I need to cleanse myself from all this time online. I recognise some part of the culture of sharing and looking so much at other people’s lives that’s bad for us. It doesn’t take a genius to work out that seeing what others have and comparing your life to what you see plastered over Instagram isn’t good practice. It makes some people very, deeply unhappy. Google it and you’ll find tons of people who blogged to say so- then probably shared their blog on social media. It all comes full circle.

I won’t be signing out and having a hiatus of the online world any time soon, but there are ways that it affects my life that I have become more and more aware of:

1) I get all of my inspiration from stuff I see on social media.

From travel, to bedding, to projects I want to take up in my spare time, I do things because others have done them and reported back on social media. Often just one photo sells me something, which is why brands love Instagram so much. Photos of places people are having holidays has pretty much dominated where I have wanted to travel to in the past couple of years. I no longer actively sit down and search for things I want to do, I just see and think ‘yep, gimme some of that.’ I’m not sure if this is good or bad- but seeing as Pinterest, a social site made for inspiration is thriving, it would seem I’m not alone.

2) My diet is impacted.

I so often decide I want to eat something because I see a photo on social media, or I see a recipe on shared. It used to be that someone would mention a certain food, or I’d smell it or see someone eating it, but now it’s all online- no nice smells (although how long until you can include the aromas of your Thai green curry on Instagram is anyone’s guess), no quick taste, no conversation- just a photo and I’m sold. Good for burger joints, bad for my bank balance. Though one positive is that most of the food I gravitate towards online is healthy, so the stuff I see and decide to eat is usually green and good for me.

3) I look at the world like I’m looking through a camera.

This is actually something that I annoy myself by doing. Photo sharing is pretty much my favourite part of social media, especially photos of places, be it a far-flung beach or a nice corner of London, I love it. Now though, it means I’m always looking at stuff for photo angles, or nice colour schemes, or thinking about how it might look cropped to a square. It’s annoying even typing it out. I’d like to drop this habit, but I don’t feel that’s likely.

4) I ‘know’ a wider variety of people than ever before

There’s a big difference between knowing someone personally, as in there are opportunities throughout the year when you get close enough to physically reach out and touch their arm or something, and talking to someone online. The idea of ‘online friends’ used to make me cringe. Why on earth would I want friends I haven’t even met in real life? How do people even call themselves friends when they’ve only ever typed to each other? In all honesty, I used to associate the idea with desperation or with people who don’t go outside, but that’s ridiculous. The internet is SUCH a big part of our lives now, as is social media, that unless you really keep yourself to yourself, you’re going to come across ‘strangers’ all the time. If you’re active on Twitter, you’ll likely end up tweeting strangers. You’ll start talking to them. You’ll read what they have to say, you’ll find common ground and get along. For me, this has mostly come about through actively participating in a health community, and from blogging. I ‘know’ people all over the country- know about their lives, their likes, dislikes, holidays, experiences, where they ate last night- it might sound weird to some, but it’s become the norm for me now.

5) It’s boosted my confidence

You’d think it would be the other way round, but actually, social media and being confronted with so much detail on others lives makes me feel comfortable. I don’t feel insecure or like I don’t measure up to the many people behind the many accounts I follow, who all put the best of themselves out there. If they can do it, why can’t I? This is probably something that affects social media users in a big way- caring too much what people think, but there are so many ‘users’ out there, I don’t really care if the odd person looks at something I’ve posted and thinks ‘ Lauren you are rubbish’. I feel in a way, quite liberated and a world away from the overly self-conscious person I once was.

6) I feel braver

Okay, so this might sound incredibly lame, and is probably a measure of the power of social media, but I take more risks and do more that scares me now because it’ll look good on social media. I only actually realised I was doing this very recently and the thought itself sounds a bit stupid, yet it’s done me a favour really. Paragliding, mountain climbing, tuk tuk driving,- amazing experiences and things I’ve loved doing, but mostly inspired to do because I’ve seen others do it online and wanted my own experience to share. It makes me braver. That sounds mad, but it’s true.

 

 

 

How social media and blogging transformed my health anxiety

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I think I probably see at least two tweets a day with links to articles or blog posts singing the praises of the digital detox. Generation Y- the people who have a smart phone in their hand while in bed, in the bath or on the toilet (you’ve all done it). We use social media too much apparently. We stare at our glowing little screens for too long. We’re obsessed with other people. It’s bad for our mental health. It’s bad for our self-esteem. Probably all true to a degree.

I use my phone too much. I went to college in the rise of Facebook. I did journalism as a degree when the digital age was starting to thrive and print magazines were starting to die. “Sign up to Twitter!” “Start a blog!” “Learn about SEO!” I did a module at uni that required everyone taking part to set up a blog. This was 2010, and the first time I delved into WordPress and started getting my head around tags and catergories or trying to think about content someone- anyone at all, would want to read. Then I graduated and forgot my password.

Fast forward two years and I was in my first permanent job after uni, doing some web stuff, learning all about diabetes and dipping my toes into digital marketing. Oh and I also had crippling pains in my shoulders when I breathed and was waiting on endless referrals and seeing endless physios and rheumatologists and puzzled cardiologists who couldn’t work out what the sudden deterioration in my physical health was.

I just assumed it was something wrong with my joints and that some physio would probably fix it, but the longer it dragged on and the more symptoms that appeared, the more confused I got. Anyway, finally, months later and after one partial hip dislocation, I got a sort of diagnosis. “You’ve got a rare disease that we don’t know much about and we haven’t got the testing right yet, but you’ll be okay for now asking as long you don’t keep dislocating things and become immobile.” Okay so I’m paraphrasing, but that was the gist of what I got told, because there really isn’t much known about JHEDS- Joint Hypermobility Ehlers Danlos, to be precise.

Jolly good, I thought. I’ll just erm, go and continue life while my joints fall apart and wait for the day some lengthy research is finished so I can Google it?

I tried to do some research, typing in random words doctors had said and even turning to those live chat forums where an alleged doctor answers you. Like, who are these people? Why do they all look like stock image models in their photos and are they really there? I have some serious doubts, plus one chat led me to being told perhaps I ate too much food colouring. Legit, I’m sure.

Around about that time, my colleagues started receiving requests from the local council for us to contribute to their blog. The task fell to me and after writing a bit and delving back into blogging, I started to wonder if there was a blog out there for everything…and every health condition. This is the internet, where you can see micro-pigs ride around on turtles, surely there was something that could help me. It took less than hour to find several blogs that told the stories of patients who’s joints were breaking, bodies were bruising and limbs were hurting. You know in films where something falls into place and a light shines down like angels are using a torch or something? That was me, right then.

There were people all over the planet, not loads but some, writing about the same sort of condition that I had. People who actually understood, who hadn’t got the right answers from doctors and who had advice I could take on board. They knew how it felt. This also led me to discover the phrase ‘not rare, but rarely diagnosed.’ I was not alone, which was nice to know.

The blog discovery flipped a switch and I started searching Twitter. I found people who tweeted about connective tissue disorders. Imagine loving reality TV and selfies and drama more than anything and discovering the Kardashians for the first time.

It became clear that I needed to join this community. I wanted to do health communications/marketing as a job, and I needed support for my own health, as anxiety and stress was making me feel even worse than the pain. I needed the virtual pat on back and look of understanding these Twitter accounts could offer me. So I started blogging. I started tracking down people who had the same condition as me, or similar, and tweeting them. I sent them, very nervously and after much deliberation and hovering, links to my first blog post.

Looking back, I got a pretty overwhelming response.  People were so kind. People offered me advice, shared their stories, read my writing, shared it on and suddenly I had more Twitter followers, people were subscribing to my blog and I felt about 99.9% less lost and scared than I had several months before, leaving hospital appointments with just words and confusion.

To this day, the online community of rare disease sufferers, chronic pain fighters and fellow connective tissue lackers make me feel better. They make me feel confident I’ll get through bad days, they educate me and they give me a connection to people who understand how I’m feeling. There’s a line though, as sometimes too much information, perhaps not specific to you, can cause more anxiety, so I try to digest just the right amount.

It might not be ideal that we have phones glued to our hands and share everything we eat and wear on Instagram, but social media and blogging helped my health in ways I can’t even measure.

Photoshoots for bloggers

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Bloggers have better photos these days than glossy magazines and online shopping sites. I was recently browsing inthefrow.com at work with a colleague while we were discussing a presentation on blogging and he thought I was showing him a designer shop. Having better cameras, editing skills and posing locked down is pretty much part and parcel of having a blog now. Outfit posts have enormously taken off because the combination of fashion inspiration, trend alerts and having a nose into what others are wearing is a winner, no doubt about that.

I’ve become quite obsessed by photography lately- taking photos, rather than being in them, and it’s turned into an actual hobby, which is good because I don’t think staring at an iphone or sampling gin mixers can really count as hobbies.

I’ve been trailing around after my boyfriend on photoshoots on and off for the past few months to learn more (I’m mostly in it for the VERY cute babies he gets to photograph) and I’ve arranged several blogger shoots which have been really fun. Massive thanks to Sasha and Bonita who feature in this post from past shoots. Blog photography is serious business so it’s been quite nice to see photos he’s taken (and I’ve had a go at) being used in posts and popping up all over social media.

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Photography is such a useful skill to have in the digital age. Before I laid my hands on an DSLR camera I thought it was all in the eye- if a shot frames up nicely you just take it and you’ll have a lovely photo. IF ONLY. There’s so much to learn when it comes to making the most of cameras, and then on top of that there’s the editing and all the technical terms. Histograms, ISO, shading, bouncing the flash etc etc.

If you have recently got a flashy DSLR, there’s a few tips on what to focus on first here.

The shots below are all from blog shoots, all around London. If you’re interested in having some photos done (for a blog or anything else), drop me a line- laurenrellis010@gmail.com or you know, tweet me or whatever. The more the merrier (glossier). Bloggers in London- get in touch for outfit shoots!

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My favourite blogs

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I use blogs to research everything these days. Mortgages, travel, make up, face wash, bedding, shoes, exercise, food- you name it, I read it. I never used to actually read blogs at all apart from the odd one if I saw it on Facebook, but when I changed jobs last year and had a week off I did some serious blog reading, and I have done ever since. I trawl through Twitter most evenings before bed looking for something to read, and these are my most visited:

The blog I’ve been reading for longest is Hannah Gale, number one because her nostalgia lists are top notch and always make me chuckle and number two because she let me sleep in her bed A LOT at uni and we once learned to rap every word of Eminem and Rihanna- Love the way you lie. Of course.

Sophie Cliff’s blog is another firm favourite. It reminds me of reading a life diary parallel to my own life and I like it a lot. The travel posts are really, really good and there’s always stuff about good food and drink that makes me want to up sticks and move to Leeds.

For general lols and all the gorgeous photos, sharp wit and bluntly honest opinions I read Nettle and Blackberry by Imii.

Queen Beady is the second blog I ever read and now I read all the fashion posts and all the stuff about life, homeware, working, aspirations and the lovely looking north!

Lily Pebbles, because she tries all make up that exists so I don’t have to.

While I’m Young and Skinny is my favourite travel blog and Danielle has the kind of life I’d love right now- she’s living in Dubai and is sun-drenched and having what looks like a right time of it. There’s loads of good travel posts about Asia and I LOVE her New York stuff.

If I wasn’t saving all my moneys I would be out buying everything Robyn wears and posts about on Phases on Robyn. Like, ALL of it.

I’m always looking for news reads so leave me so links for my Sunday bed blog situation that I’m really excited about.

5 reasons investing in a DSLR camera will pay off

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Disclaimer: The camera I use is my boyfriends, he invested the big bucks, but what’s his is mine…right?

He lets me use it anyway, and he’s taught me so much about photography that as soon as I can, I’m going to invest too. I never would have wanted to spend that amount on a camera before, because I had no idea how much I liked photography. It sounds kinda weird but having a DSLR camera has done so much more than just provide us with high quality holiday snaps, it’s become a strangely big part of our lives- it’s an investment that’s worth making for way more reasons that really good images of weddings and you loving life on a beach.

1) Photography is a really valid skill.

There are so many jobs in the creative industry now that value the skill of good photography- and only so much of that is framing a nice shot. When I was looking around for jobs a year ago (I worked in digital marketing/advertising and now in social media) so many descriptions stated photography and being able to use equipment. Knowing how to change the settings, sort out the light and take the right size photo makes you seem pretty sleek, especially now, where creative media types are expected to do it all. Even for a blog, photos say as much as the words.

2) You learn additional skills

I never imaged I’d get much into editing photos outside of chucking an Instagram filter on something or brightening it up in VSCO cam (an app well worth downloading FYI). But once you’ve invested time to learn how to take good photos on what can be a complicated camera, you may as well finish the job. There’s so much you can add in the editing phase and again, learning to use programmes like LightRoom and PhotoShop, even it’s just a basic understanding, gives your CV a whole new layer. It’s also quite nice to have an end product that’s basically a little work of art.

3) You’ll want to take more photos

I’ve gone from liking taking photos of impressive looking breakfasts and the occasional night out picture of friends holding an array of cocktails, to wanting to take photos of everything. Suddenly, because you can take high quality photos, everything is an opportunity to take another picture. Seeing a man on Southbank making massive bubbles for some very excited kids last weekend basically turned into a photoshoot. Photography is a pretty nice hobby once you get into it.

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4) Instagram is powerful

A lot of people who market themselves, a brand, a company or a website use imagery to do it, and right now PRs and such want Instagram followers. They want to work with people that have a bit of influence on Instagram, can take decent photos and can stand out. It’s the ‘in’ social platform right now. There are loads of incredible iphone photography accounts around, but DSLR pictures look pristine. Also, background blur ❤

5) You can do a lot with a picture

Once you’ve got a really good camera, have mastered using it and start getting the photography bug, you don’t need anyone else’s photos. I see stuff on Pinterest all the time such as prints and photos on homeware boards, and I know for a fact that I can create stuff for myself by taking my own high quality images. It’s a good skill for work, it’s a good skill for home, it’s a good hobby and nice photos will last you a life time. You can also make yourself stand out in a saturated market of content creators who can edit, do imagery, write, market themselves and so on. If you’re in the industry and want to get further, you can do a lot worse than taking your camera skills up a level.

For a few more examples of rather beautiful DSLR work visit dannyboyjnr.exposure.co

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It’s completely fine to be a cliche and enjoy blogging- the negativity needs to stop

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I was lying in bed the other night reading through the BBC News app and couldn’t concentrate on reading a full article, so I switched to Twitter. Less concentration required and more chance of dog videos and people falling over.

I started to scroll and saw, not for the first time, standard lifestyle tweets about food and coffee and Lush and make up and fashion, alongside some slagging off those exact things. ‘Ugh surprise surprise someone who writes a blog is having a caramel latte. How original’ Pretty tame, not overly offensive tweet, but there are plenty more cropping up all over the place.

It seems to be that while online communities are growing and becoming bigger and stronger, there are also even more people out there waiting to give someone a kick. If you don’t like lifestyle  posts, don’t follow lifestyle accounts. If you aren’t interested in reviews on new mascaras and face washes, clear your timeline of beauty bloggers. If female magazines make you angry, why do you follow their accounts?  I even saw a tweet last week along the lines of ‘sick of these blog RT accounts filling my timeline with blogs that are so shit.’ ERM..HELLO? UNFOLLOW IT THEN.

I mean, people can be stupid. And they are mean. Everyone is entitled to an opinion, but there is definitely a line that’s too often crossed. Twitter has and probably always will be a place for those who have nothing better to do than to take their issues out on the unsuspecting, innocent public. And right now that public is the the online content creating world. And not the big stars or super popular people with 50k+ Instagram followers. The little people who do it out of passion and enjoyment. It’s not big and I don’t find it funny.

It’s certainly no laughing matter how popular and influential online content creators are becoming. Be it blogging, vlogging, instagramming, photographers- whatever the medium, brands are interested. They want to work with those who do all of this off their own back, so who cares if someone enjoys being a ‘blogging cliché’? You don’t have to like it, but you also don’t have to take every opportunity to bash it.

So what if there are loads of people out there who like coffee drinking, cats, fashion writing, Lush bath bombs and nude lipstick- there’s a reason there’s so much of it around. It’s what people like right now. Yeah, not everyone, but I don’t read blogs who post content I don’t care about, and surely that’s how it should be done? Perhaps we need to concentrate on consuming more of what we enjoy.

If someone wants to Instagram their coffee, write about their favourite eye palette and document their shopping trips- that’s fine. Chances are, there is a big group of people scattered around who’ll read and like and comment on that kind of content. If it’s not for you- then pass it by.

I really don’t think there’s a need to make someone feel bad for doing the ‘in thing’ or living up to a cliché (whatever that is) , especially in the saturated blogging world, because with that many people in one community, it was always going to happen. It will continue to happen. The lifestyle/beauty/fashion craze is not going anywhere.