Taking a step back with a mini blogging hiatus

2014 has been a year of self-assessment and life examination for me. I have been blogging consistently, working full time, writing for Groupon’s City Guide and transforming my lifestyle and mental outlook. Hard work, let me tell you.

After a rollercoaster 9 months I have decided I need a break from something and despite my passion for writing and enjoyment of blogging, musicandeverything.com is going to have suffer slightly.

I’m at a place now where I have gained a lot of confidence and knowledge and I intend to spend the next six months increasing both of these to help carve out a future I can be proud of and, most importantly, that I will enjoy. While I’m doing that I need to remove one of my, I suppose, regular commitments, so I can also do the things that keep me balanced and happy like training, socialising and reading myself calm. It is taking a lot for me to admit this: I can’t do everything all at once, and lately I’ve learned that hobbies and looking after my mental health are as important as writing and as important as my future and my career.

I’m not giving up; it’s not in my nature to do so, and I’m not taking a full on break, but for the next six months I won’t be blogging as often; once a week at most. Hopefully when these six months are over my passion for blogging will have been reinstated and perhaps I will have experienced enough to generate new and exciting content for you.

I’ll have a couple of projects to entice you with come then as well, hopefully.

I’m aware I haven’t got the largest readership but everyone that reads, comments and shares means a great deal to me and I hope that you can continue to support the blog despite the lack of regular content.

I do have some beauty and fitness posts in the pipeline over the next few months and I hope to have some guest posts from wonderful bloggers and writers to keep you titillated.

Incidentally, if you wish to contribute content on any subject, so long as it’s not overly political/religious (Nana always said never discuss those two particular subjects), head to the contact tab and get in touch with me, or hit me up on Twitter. 

I’ll leave you with a little quote that I found to be quite apt.

life quotes

*source

Update: I’ve been slacking off… sort of.

Catch Up

 

Hopefully at least one person noticed that I haven’t been blogging so much these days. I suppose you could say I have been slacking off but in reality I’ve been working harder than ever.

I started a Sports Nutrition course so I have been knuckling down and studying hard as well as working all week-long. I’m nearly finished my assignments and my final exam is at the end of August but boy has it been hard.

I found it was beneficial to my health to take a little step away from blogging while getting through the toughest part of it because it is quite an intense course and something completely new to me; a blogger with a background in Journalism and Media Management taking on an intensive course in Nutrition!

As well as this regular readers will know that I am in the middle of a training programme, which I blogged about but slacked off on because of the educational commitments!

The training has been both frustrating and rewarding. I’m getting stronger but perhaps the results just aren’t coming quick enough for my liking. All the same, though, I am in love with process.

Both the nutrition course and the training programme are preparation for something coming up in the autumn that I am sure you will be bored to tears reading about (provided I get the chance to write!)

All in all things have been quite exciting and dull in equal measure – I haven’t been doing much other than working, studying, eat right and training hard as well as some winding down over the past three weeks.

Over the next couple of weeks I will only have time to update you on my fitness journey; a section of the blog that has been gaining quite a of of interest.

As well as all of this I’ve been trying to get a few personal things in order – my main priority in life right now is to learn to be more positive, look out for myself and not listen to any doubters. This new lease of life has been 100% a result of my lifestyle change.

So, that’s my little update. Not overly exciting, eh? But exciting things are certainly in motion. Once my assignments are out of the way I will be back on track and I have plenty of content planned for your reading pleasure from essential fitness buys to face mask reviews and more.

Then, in September I’ll be dwindling off the blogosphere as I start to make some big changes in my life. All for the better. As my life changes, maybe the blog will go through another overhaul or perhaps a sister blog is on the horizon, who knows? Regardless the future is looking  wonderfully tumultuous and stimulating!

Isn’t it annoying when life gets in the way of your hobbies?

Blogging Tips: Organisation Tips for Your Blog

Tips for organising your blog

Some handy tips for blogging

Quite a few people starting new blogs have asked me in recent months for some tips. I generally tell them all the same thing; it’s all down to hard work, well written pieces, exposure and above all else, organisation.

Behold, my trusty “Blog Box” 

Blog Organisation tips

In this pretty little storage box lies almost everything I use to get organised and create content for my blog.

Tips for blogging

You’ve got your notebook, your sharpies, your big post-its, medium post-its, pencil case full of multicoloured pens for optimial colour coding, washi tape, a ruler, hole puncher (largely unused, but just in case!) and camera. Also used in the process of organising this blog are: a smartphone, a tablet (occassionally), more post-its and organiser. And yes, they are all necessary and all lend to what you see before you! So how do all of these things combine to help stay organised and consistent when running a blog? Well, first things first…

Schedule your Time

When I first started blogging (a million years ago) I did so sporadically. I would blog whenever I was at a gig, or anytime some new music was brought to my attention. That was it really. It didn’t really go anywhere and it wasn’t until I launched musicandeverything.com with a stronger plan in place that I experienced success, or at least what I call success. I completely put this down to scheduling time to write blog posts and therefore becoming consistent.

Whether you allow yourself set days to plan and write posts (every Monday and Tuesday for example) or you sit down at the end of week and plan what days and evenings you are going to write so it doesn’t fall by the wayside or take over your life. I opt for the latter, prefering to sit down on a Sunday morning and plan out the days I’m going to create content.

organisation of a blog

Organised Chaos

This is where the organiser comes in. I found it too messy and hectic using the calendars on my phone and tablet for planning when I was going to write certain posts, so I went back to my old reliable paperchase organiser for writing down when I was planning to publish certain posts . I simply write it down, check it frequently, mark off particularly urgent ones with a little post-it tag that I have clipped in the front of the organiser and tick it off when I’m done. It’s also a good move to pick an evening/day out of the week when you take photographs for your upcoming blog posts.

Organising a blog

Plan your content

 This is so important if you want to run a consistent blog. I always make sure I have a number of ideas to feed off which I update every month in the big pink notebook you can see in the Blog Box picture.

I draw a line down either side of the page, write down all my ideas, mark an S on the left hand column if I have it schedule to write in my organiser and tick it off on the right hand side when it’s completed. I don’t just mean planning for the week, I mean planning for the month, maybe for two months and always having on hand some intriguing ideas that you can publish when you experience a content lull. If you find you are low on money and can’t buy products to review, or you’re not going to a lot of interesting events to talk about, it’s handy to refer back to this list to see what kind content you can produce out of your past, untapped ideas.

Schedule your posts

If you’re pressed for time it makes sense to bulk prepare a number of engaging blog posts that you can schedule to go live over the week. This helps keep things flowing at a consistent level, and it also means that you’re not writing every single day; unless of course you have the time to. To the best of my knowledge all popular blogging platforms have a scheduling tool whereby you can delay publication. This is especially handy if you work or go to school/college because it means you can schedule posts to go out at optimum readership times: Morning time, Lunch Time, Evening Rush Hour and late at night, without worrying about how you will fit in the time.

Scheduling blog posts

Keep a small notebook handy

Yes, another notebook. I always have a notebook in my handbag and a pen close by to jot down any ideas that spring to mind, to take note at events and to simply scribble down any blog related thoughts I have. I even use it to plan out blog posts on the go so I can just type them up when I get home. It is your best blogging friend!

I use it so often that it has become somewhat of an accessory so I always make sure I have a nice one, usually purchased in Paperchase.

Paperchase notebook for blogging

Have a blogging system in place

Finally, a system that works for you has to be in place. There is no sense scheduling time and writing down your ideas if you don’t have a solid system in place. Find one that works for you, with the equipment you find will help you navigate through your plans clearly and productively.

Here is my system (I have no super secrets that I wouldn’t be willing to reveal!):

Write down my ideas in Le Gran Pink Notebook

Plan keywords and SEO content for those ideas (that’s a whole other post that’ll write if you’re interested, let me know in the comments.)

Schedule the posts in my organiser

Mark key posts with a post-it

Mark blog series and competition runs in the organiser with washi tape and a sharpie.

Plan social media content, normally using my little notebook

Schedule social media non-specific to posts

Make to-do lists on Google Keep and in the organiser for particularly hectic times

Write and schedule posts

Promote posts

Start again!

So there you have it. There is a lot to organising a blog effectively and I am sure that various bloggers will all give you their own hints and tips that work for them. This structure is likely to evolve further down the line as you find your feet in the world of blogging.

To the comments! 

DotConf 2013: Some of the most interesting points.

Digital Medai Dublin

Yesterday, Friday 29th of June, the 4th annual Dot Conf took place in Dublin’s NCI.

The event brings together a large group of like-minded individuals with invested interests in the world of digital media. This year’s event was hosted by the wonderful Karlin Lillington, Tech Journalist for the Irish Times for the second year running.

There was no one talk on the day that stood out, each speaker gave incredible insight into their field and how it is growing and changing in the digital world.

First up in the morning was Joe Drumgoole of feedhenry.com speaking about the elusive “cloud”. The cloud perplexes a lot of people (I have genuinely heard people ask “what happens when it rains?” ) The information offered by Drumgoole helped the crowd put things into perspective. We definitely take for granted the convenience of having all of our pictures automatically backed up on Google Plus, or have all of our notes available on a multitude of devices, wherever we like. He really led the audience into thinking of “the cloud” as an economic commodity.

Claire Redmond of the FAI talked about how fan interaction online drawing on the positives of brand visibility and the importance of user interaction be it sharing images, hashtags on twitter or commenting on posts. Something for those starting of in social media to consider.

Barry Adams of Pierce Communications followed. Although he is now the director of digital services now, in 1995 he proclaimed that the internet was just a fad and it would pass. This is where the border between interesting and terrifying was a fine one. Speaking about the personification of the online world, he opened the eyes of many people in the room. There is no denying that personification of a search or a website is pretty cool, but at the same it is, for want of better word, creepy. Every time we look something up on Google we are given results based on websites we use, things we like, things we don’t like and so on. To take a topical matter, if you were to search the abortion debate in Ireland, your personified search would be based on pieces you have already read or shared, whether “pro-life” or “pro-choice”, so you may not be getting the full picture. Isn’t that what the internet is for? To gather a multitude of facts, opinions and discussions not available elsewhere  in order to form our own?

Not creepy enough for you?

How about the fact that google maps are being personalised now? That’s right, according to Barry Adams if you look up say “Restaurants” in Dublin City, you will not be shown results on the map that Google assumes you won’t like based on your online activity. Wow. Maybe try duckduckgo.com instead; it doesn’t even use cookies so none of your search information is stored.

It is also interesting to point out that the speakers were predominantly female (6:5 Female); it is very empowering to see strong, knowledgeable sharing their business and digital media insights. We heard from Paula Hurley of Market Match, giving us the view from the PR side of things followed by Kirstie McDermott who is the very epitome of ‘personality’, from the bloggers perspective. Andrea Magnorsky spoke about the indie gaming world; an interesting community aspect seems to exist in Ireland around the computer game industry. Naoise McNally of One Fab Day, a digital wedding magazine which operates as a business.

Naoise gave a great first-hand insight in running a website as a sustainable business and being in control; delivering original, audience geared content both at article level at on the content and products advertised on the website.

So much more occured throughout the day, with a highly entertaining yet informative discussion about how social media shouldn’t be done by Jon Morter, famed for getting Rage Against the Machine to number in 2009 as an anarchic two-fingers to X factor. The day finished with an inspiring keynote speech from Coderdojo founder James Whelton.

Inspirational for a number of reasons; he is only 20 years and now has over 200 dojos around the world including classes especially structured for children on the Autism spectrum. He touched on why we should be terrified when it comes to privacy and the future of the the internet.

Overall this event was thought provoking and inspirational. The biggest lessons I learned from it came from Kirstie McDermott from frillseeker.ie – “Learn to Say No” and “Don’t be afraid to ask for what you want.”

There was little fault in this conference, although it would have been interesting to be given an insight into wholly volunteer run websites; maybe next year though.

Educational aspect aside, it presents a great opportunity to meet peers and perhaps even form collaborations; you never know. Be sure to keep an eye out next year for news of the 5th annual Dotconf.