The Real Reason I’ve Taken A Break From Blogging

blogging-hobbyThere’s been a lot on my mind lately, to be honest. 2017 has felt like the sort of year where I’m going to have to put that extra effort in to decide what I want to get out of it. And it’s only February.

I’ve consciously stopped blogging for a few weeks because I realised one fundamental thing that made me stop in my tracks and assess things.

I don’t gain anything from blogging any more.

I’ve quickly realised that I used blogging as an excuse to not do other things, whilst also not really putting the effort into blogging either. This blog became a scapegoat for not taking better care of myself, and trying to further myself both personally and professionally.

“I barely find the time to blog, so I how am I meant to find time for X, Y or Z?”

I don’t remember the precise moment that I came to this realisation, but I know now that even as I type this post on a quiet Sunday night, I could be doing something more constructive. I could be working on projects that are already underway, that could be more beneficial to me. The only reason I’m not doing that is because I’ve spent the past couple of hours doing it and my “creative flow” led me here.

It’s funny how your mind works, creatively, isn’t it?

In the past, I really loved putting together a new blog post. I do still feel that fire when I get “round to doing it” – and I even feel it now as I ramble here. Once I get into the flow of things, I remember why I started blogging in the first place.

But then I remember that I am not a full time blogger. I don’t want to be.

I have other aspirations both for my career and my personal life. Blogging is just a hobby, not an excuse. Not a reason to stop trying to succeed in other areas of my life because I feel the need to not let myself, or my readers down when it comes to this space on the internet.

I don’t want to give up on this, but I don’t want to slip back into bad habits and spend my time on here instead of focusing it on ways to grow.

will be back – there’s things I want to prioritise for now so that when I start blogging “properly” again, it’s no longer taking away energy and time from other endeavours.

So, y’know… if you have any tips on inventing more time and energy in the day to fit in full time work, side projects and blogging…they’d be much appreciated.

Monthly Favourites: January 2017

monthly favourites january 2017 lifestyle blog

Whoa! It’s my first monthly faves of 2017 – so welcome to Monthly Favourites January 2017!

January usually draaaaags for me (let’s be honest, it’s the worst month of the year) but this time round it’s been speeding by!

Let’s take a look at some of the things that have rocked this month.

seeing: La La Land. OMG. This. movie. is. amazing. Go see it! We’ve seen it twice at the cinema and I’d totally go again. It’s absolutely wonderful. The performances, the music, the directing… it really is worth the hype which is not always the case when a movie gets loads of good reviews as you tend to set your expectations sky high and get let down. But nope. Not this time!

drinking: lots of smoothies. I’ve got into the habit of having a smoothie for breakfast everyday and it still blows my mind that they genuinely do fill you up. I got a Nutribullet for Christmas which I mentioned in December’s monthly faves, and I am a big fan.

wearing: all of the layers. It’s started getting bitterly cold now, and the office at work also gets freezing so I’ve been piling on the layers which is good because I’ve also been piling on the lbs. Oops.

booking: tickets to see A Curious Incident… and Peter James’ new play. Liam got A Curious Incident of a Dog in the Night Time tickets for Christmas so we booked it in to go up to London and see it in March. Then Mum asked me if I wanted to go and see a Peter James (her favourite author) play in February so I’m going to have a very theatrical couple of months! I am totally tempted to try and get tickets for The Cursed Child again but it’s so expensive (although totally worth it if you can go).

buying: the most gorgeous wellies from Joules. I bought them so I could go out for walks on my lunch breaks which I am admittedly yet to do but whatever they are beautiful.

going on: wintery walks. I started doing this before work for a few days – then it got rainy. I need to start doing it again because I am so lucky to have such stunning surroundings during the week.

celebrating: seven years! On 25th January is mine and Liam’s anniversary. I cannot believe it’s been seven years. My previous relationship lasted a year and a half so that should put things into perspective!

eating: easter chocolate. I know, I’m the worst. But I just can’t resist Lindt bunnies! I am tempted to do Dechox again this year (giving up chocolate for the whole of March to raise money for the British Heart Foundation), so I guess I’ll have to start cutting down soon to ease the transition!

joining the gym: y’know to try and counteract the easter chocolate.

That’s pretty much it for January! It’s always a weird month which feels like a hangover after Christmas and New year celebrations…

What made your January jovial? 

The Body Shop All-In-One BB Cream Review

Body Shop All-In-One BB Cream

There’s nothing I love more than something that makes things quicker and easier, and The Body Shop All-In-One BB Cream has pretty much achieved maximum simplicity in my daily makeup routine.

Before I bought it, I didn’t really know what a BB cream is – and I still don’t know what the BB stands for – but for me, a BB cream (or at least this one) is an adaptive cream that means I can have my face ready for the day in less than a minute.

My general routine will include cleansing my face with an exfoliator scrub, slapping on some of The Body Shop Hemp face protector, a primer, and then The Body Shop All-In-One BB Cream followed by a little bit of powder to take away the shine. That’s it.

The BB cream has made things easy because it provides a decent enough amount of coverage without feeling heavy. I used to avoid wearing makeup at all because I thought my only option was a foundation that usually ended up cakey on my dry and sensitive skin. Sure, I could have gone through countless foundations and found one that was perfect for my skin type, but why bother when you have a light cream that even adapts to your skin tone?

The cream comes in a smallish silver tube which is harder than it looks to photograph (hopefully the photo will provide some context on scale though?), and you squeeze a small amount of the cream into the palm of your hand, massage it in and then apply to your face. Or, at least that’s the way I do it and it seems to work well.

The texture of the cream is nice because it’s not too “wet” – it is quite similar to your average liquid foundation texture but combined with a light weight moisturiser. It’s a white-ish colour until you rub it in to the skin where it then “adapts” to the shade. Whilst it is a product that claims to adapt to your skin colour, they do come in different shades. I went for a medium (02) as it looks a similar colour to the foundations I have bought in the past.

The great thing about The Body Shop All-In-One BB Cream is that you don’t need a huge amount of this to make a difference, so it can last longer if you want it to. I imagine that if you prefer heavier coverage that you may use more of the product than I would, but even still I do think it’s well worth the £12 price tag.

Have you tried this product before, or any other BB creams that you would recommend?

Four Google Analytics Hacks Any Blogger Can Do

Google Analytics hacks for bloggers

Being a blogger is tough, right? Anyone who doesn’t have a blog might feel like that statement is oozing with sarcasm…but it’s really not.

Blogging takes time, energy and heart and when you get to a level where you want to start measuring and analysing how your blog is doing, it only gets harder.

Google Analytics can be pretty scary to those who haven’t used it but want to start so that they can see how many visitors their blog is getting. It’s why I wrote this post for those just starting out with the platform – so give that a read if you’re just getting started and then pop back here once you’re all set up!

If you’ve been using Google Analytics for a little while now, you may be thinking “hey, this is pretty good…but there’s a lot to take in!”. Yup. There’s so much you can do with GA that it gets a bit…overwhelming.

So, instead of desperately trying to grasp everything there is to know, I’ve picked out four Google Analytics hacks that any blogger can do to make their lives easier.

Gather your PR stats in one place

If you’ve been blogging for a little while, you may be in contact with PR’s who are interested in working with you. Some of these PR’s may want to know some stats about your blog before working with you, such as how many Sessions your blog has had, or total pageviews. Maybe they want data on your demographics.

Instead of flitting between different reports, you can create these funky things called Dashboards that allow you to add ‘widgets’ to show whatever data you want in one place. It might not sound like a big deal, but if you have a Media Pack that you like to regularly update, or even if you’re just wanting to look at how your blog has grown for your own interest, a Dashboard is pretty aces.

> Find out how to create Dashboards

Look at your most popular posts to get content ideas

Lost for what to write about? How about creating a follow up to a popular post?

Find out your most popular posts by setting a date range at the top right, and then going to Behaviour > Site Content > All Pages. This will list your top posts by number of pageviews for the date range you set. Set a larger date range to see more data.

Wrote a review of a product that went down really well? Write another post if your opinion has changed, or feature the product in a post with other products that you like or dislike. Link back to the older post as well if you can, as ‘interlinking’ can be good for SEO!

Read how to achieve your blog goals using GA

Get rid of spammy traffic!

The difference between a good blogger and a blogger just interested in getting high stats is being honest with yourself about your stats. Sites get hit with spammy traffic all the time, and so your stats are probably not an honest reflection of how much valuable traffic your blog has had.

GA spam has got worse over the years since I’ve been using it, and so I try and keep on top of it as best I can by using filters to remove it from my data. I’m not interested in overinflated figures – I’m interested in an honest reflection of readers coming to my blog to actually read it – instead of ‘ghost’ traffic that bounces straight off again.

> Remove spam referral traffic from your Google Analytics

Turn on ‘Site search’ to view what people search for

I recently discovered that you can turn on a setting in GA that allows you to see data on what people are searching for on your blog. How good is that?

All you have to do is log in to GA and then click on Admin. Under the ‘View’ column (far right), you’ll see ‘View settings’. Click that and scroll down to the toggle bar that says ‘Site search Tracking’. Switch the toggle to ‘On’.

To find out what you need to add to the Query parameter box, go to your blog and conduct a search via your search box. When you’ve loaded up the search results, the URL should look something like below. In this example, I’ve searched on my blog for the keyword ‘blogging’:

In this example, the Query parameter is ‘s’. If yours is different and you’re not sure what it is, pop me a tweet and I’ll check it out!

Once you have added the Query parameter into the box, click Save.

Boom! Give it 24 hours and you have search query data at your fingertips! This again is really handy for blog post ideas. To find the Search query data, go to your GA reporting and click Behaviour > Site Search > Search terms.

Ta da! Four Google Analytics hacks for you to try out.

As always, if you have any questions or find something isn’t quite working, get in touch and I can do my best to help out.

Life Lately: Not Feeling Myself…

not feeling myself

It feels like a little while since I sat down and typed up a catch up style post. It’s a bit of a weird one this time round as I’ve not really thought about what to type…so let’s just see how it goes shall we?

I haven’t been feeling myself lately, to be honest. It’s a difficult sensation to describe because of course I am still myself. I haven’t magically transformed into someone else. But I feel like a lesser version of myself. How bad is that?

I think the weather has something to do with it. I’m not an SAD sufferer, but something about the bitter cold has had me wanting to retreat. To hibernate. I get up early, I drive to work, I put my head down to get things done, I drive home and veg.

Even at the weekends I haven’t felt any more energised. I’ve felt run down, exhausted and occasionally a bit dazed. I’ve been sleeping more than usual, but still not feeling any more awake. I hope I snap out of it soon because it’s also making me crabby af.

Aside from being a grumpy gremlin, there’s not a lot else that’s been going on really. We’ve been binge-watching Crazy Ex-Girlfriend on Netflix which I do recommend if you like musicals (although I will more strongly recommend La La Land because I’ve seen it twice now and it’s amazing), and we’ve been attempting to finally finish off the unpacking and organising of the house – which we moved into at the beginning of November.

Neither of us particularly like the house which makes it difficult to feel relaxed and at home in. There’s nothing majorly wrong with it, and we should be grateful to even have a house, but we miss living where we were before and are trying to decide where to go and what to do next.

I’ve realised that quite quickly this post has become very moany. I apologise. But hey, you can’t have the light without the dark. We can’t always be chirpy in real life, so why should we on our blogs? I read a great blog post this week from Lauren that talks about being glad that she had bad days. No, she hasn’t lost her mind and actually makes a very good point.

Sometimes you need to feel sorry for yourself. You need to be moody, upset, discouraged. You can’t bottle it up because the grumpy gremlin will become a dangerous dragon. Or an angry aardvark. Or another alliterative creature. Nobody wants that. Especially not you.

So I think I need to not feel myself until I do again. I need to slowly introduce myself back to normality. To take care of myself a bit better, and to not push myself too hard to feel happy and well all the time if I’m not.

Does anyone else get like this sometimes? What is it that snaps you back out of it?