Tuesday, 6 November 2018

How To Run A Blog While Working Full Time

I always describe blogging while working full-time as a rollercoaster. When it's good, I feel like superwoman for bossing my day job while pursuing my passion. But when it's bad, I feel overwhelmed and like my side hustle is a burden rather than a passion project that brings me fulfilment. 

Last September, I was definitely going through a bad patch. Between launching a global brand during the day and trying to plan for London Fashion Week, writing and shoot blog content during the evenings and weekends, I was utterly exhausted. Nevermind trying to keep in touch with friends, remembering to eat, wanting to exercise and needing to sleep too! I had too many plates spinning in the air and I felt like I wasn't spinning any of them well.

I tweeted about how I felt and was overwhelmed by the number of people who shared similar experiences. After some reassuring Twitter chats and realising that I was far from alone, I planned to write a blog post about the challenges of working full-time and blogging as a side hustle...but it's taken a whole year to finally put pen to paper. Ah, the joys of having too much to do and too little time to do it in! 

I've been working full-time whilst blogging for a decade. There was a time when I used to blog every single day after finishing work, after attending events, after meeting friends for dinner. I was averaging about four hours sleep a night, it was utterly exhausting and not rewarding in the slightest. Sometimes I was simply writing words for the sake of writing words. I was uninspired and grew to resent blogging. The crazy thing is, no one put this pressure on me. I put it on myself. 

Kenzie from Lemonade Lies can sympathise with the effect of putting too much pressure on yourself, stating "there are so many ways you can do both [working full-time and blogging] efficiently, just don't burn the wick at both ends because it can make you resent things. If push came to shove most would give up their blog over employment so make sure you keep your love and passion for it and do what works for you". 

I soon realised blogging daily while working full-time was completely unsustainable and stopped putting unnecessary pressure on myself. Actually, I took the pressure off completely by taking a little haitus from blogging. I felt so demotivated and needed time to figure out whether I still loved blogging and what I was doing it for.

Jazmine from Jazzabelle's Diary also admitted that motivation is something she struggles with, as she works in social media and marketing for her job, the last thing she wants to do in her downtime media, writing and marketing! She told me "lacking motivation can be frustrating, as I would love to post more, however right now the most important thing in my life is maintaining a healthy work/life balance, and if that means spending less time on my blog, then that's something I'm happy to do." 

After taking a little sabbatical, I  came to the realisation that I really love blogging - the creativity, writing, connecting with people around the world and sharing my perspective. I just didn't like putting myself under a ton of pressure and losing my passion and motivation. This was a real lightbulb moment for me. I decided to figure out how to pursue my passion without killing myself in the process.

Over the last couple of years, I've reached a happy medium where I aim to blog once a week. If I don't manage to find the time, I'm ok with that - and hope you are too! Sometimes I still struggle to find a balance but 80% of the time I have it down. The key has been being smart with my time and realistic with what I promise myself I will deliver. 

Laura from Lelore also struggles with finding the time to manage working and blogging side-by-side but she maximises her commuting time to "keep on top of emails and social media, and also to schedule tweets. I tend to do the majority of my writing and photo editing at the weekend so that if work gets a bit hectic during the week my content is still ready to go".

After finding a healthy work/blog balance and renewing my passion for my side hustle, I wanted to share five tips which have really helped me. 

1. Create an achievable plan
When I was blogging every day, I had no one to blame but myself. When I took a step back and looked at what I wanted to achieve through blogging, it was storytelling and communicating. My goal was not to be a one-woman content factory! I cut down to blogging once a week as I felt it was achievable but still pushed me to create blog content with a regular schedule. I also set boundaries for Instagram content, aiming to post once a day. 

2. Embrace the power of lists
Now that you have a plan, it's easier to figure out how and when you're going to create your content. Sarah from Sarah Jayne Potter's top tip for managing her time efficiently is "a lot of lists!! I also now don't promise coverage or blogs asap. I set dates and deadlines and give myself enough breathing space to be able to take photos, do the write-up and still manage to have a social life! If I get ideas on the go, I make sure I document it on my phone so I don't forget." 

3. Become a time management ninja
With a plan in hand and a list of tasks to whizz through, the next step is finding the time. After working all day, I protect my evenings as my sacred time - to catch up with friends, work out or just potter around my flat. I would rather carve out some time at the weekend to do my blog-work and allow myself some time to decompress in the evenings. 

I shoot my blog images once a month, packing a little suitcase of outfits to shoot all in one go rather than trying to shoot weekly. This really helps me plan ahead as my images must have cohesion with my written content. Planning a month in advance helps to capture all of my ideas so that when I sit down to write, I have a rough outline of what I want to cover. 

Instagram content is much trickier. I'm just not very interesting Monday-Friday and it's dark by the time I finish work so I can't capture any content during the week. To remedy this, I create content during the weekend that I can post throughout the week. In the depths of winter, it's easier to shoot IG content on Saturday and Sunday morning and write blog content in the evening. 

4. Automate as much as possible
I'm a huge advocate of scheduling content. Being a blogger is more than just writing and posting to a blog, you have to think about Instagram, Twitter and Pinterest too. Wordpress and Blogger both have in-product scheduling which makes queuing up blog content super easy, though I rarely have more than the next blog post ready to go. 

There are a number of different tools available to schedule tweets on Twitter but I prefer Hootsuite. I first started using it years ago when I managed social media for brands so it feels intuitive to use. I use it to schedule tweets promoting my blog posts throughout the day but I prefer using the app to actually use Twitter and engage with my community. 

I personally don't like or trust the in-product scheduling on Instagram. On more than a couple of occasions, I've been logged out of the app and all of my scheduled posts have disappeared. I have recently started using Planoly to schedule IG posts. It's an official Instagram partner and you can add a location and tag accounts in your image. It allows you to save groups of hashtags to upload to your images. You can also drag and drop images to see how your feed looks to make sure you're happy with your grid. 

Now, I know Pinterest is a tricky platform for some bloggers but I really love it both for inspiration and driving traffic to my blog. I only have 3k followers but my monthly views are currently 85k! I've achieved this by pinning little and often, that's the key to seeing growth. I use Tailwind to schedule my Pins however, they have recently launched an in-product scheduler which I'm going to use now. 

5. Blog support system
Last but not least, I find it super important to have a blog support system. This is a mixture of blogger and non-blogger friends who I can vent to or turn to for comfort. With all the planning and will in the world, it's still very difficult to manage to blog alongside a full-time job. Blogging is a graft and a hell of a lot goes on behind the scenes. Make sure you have plenty of people to both cheer you on and pick you up when you're down. This is true of life as much as it's true of blogging. 

And there you go, my top tips to balance your work/blog/life balance. I'd love to hear your tips so leave a comment below! 

Suit - River Island, top - Mango, heels - No.21

Photography by Adorngirl

Friday, 2 November 2018

Afternoon Tea at Corinthia Hotel, London

My experience was gifted by Hotels. com, but all views are my own.

One of my favourite things about living in London is afternoon tea. There is something deliciously indulgent about spending an entire afternoon nibbling on little finger sandwiches, scones and cakes while sipping a beautiful tea. And last Sunday, I did just that at Corinthia Hotel, one of the most beautiful hotels in Westminster.

The setting

Situated in Westminster, Corinthia Hotel is just a hop and a skip away from Trafalgar Square and Embankment. The Afternoon Tea is held in the aptly-named Crystal Moon Lounge, complete with an exquisite Baccarat chandelier illuminating the room. The atmosphere feels chilled and intimate. I loved the mellow music being played on a Steinway piano.

The Tea

As a non-coffee drinker, I feel like I'm somewhat of a tea connoisseur so I was pleased to see an extensive tea menu, ranging from exclusive blends and classic black teas through to green and white teas. I opted for the Formosa oolong, which has a rich flavour and a soft orchid scent.

The Sandwiches

Although I have a huge sweet tooth, I absolutely adore the savoury segment of afternoon tea. There is something incredibly British about cucumber sandwiches with the crusts cut off! Alongside cucumber, radish and cream cheese and the egg mayo with truffle and watercress, alongside two additional vegetarian sandwiches especially for me.

The Sweets

Next up were the scones. Both plain and sultana scones were served in smart, white boxes to keep them toasty warm. They were accompanied by Cornish clotted cream, strawberry jam and rhubarb and tonka bean jam, which had a delicate cinnamon flavour.

Just as I was starting to feel a little full, a stunning antique champagne trolley pulled up to our table, laden with the prettiest pastries and cakes. I felt it was my duty to try as many as possible, my favourites were the lemon yuzu and coconut eclair and the 72% Araguani chocolate cassis & fig pot. Oh and the lemon drizzle cake. And the raspberry and elderflower tartlet. Ok, fine, it was all delicious!

The Verdict

This is definitely one of my favourite afternoon teas in London. The Crystal Moon Lounge is the perfect spot to while away a couple of hours underneath a twinkling Baccarat chandelier, feasting on a delectable spread.

The afternoon tea at Corinthia Hotel is priced at £45 per person (or £55 with a glass of Laurent-Perrier Brut Champagne, and £65 with a glass of Laurent-Perrier Rosé Champagne). 

Tuesday, 16 October 2018

AW18 Trend: Animal Print

Last month, I wrote that brown is a HUGE trend this season and shared my tips on how to style the notoriously tricky hue. The popularity of brown is partially due to leopard print also being a big trend for AW18. I only gave it the briefest of mentions because I had this post up my sleeve, dedicated to leopard print, snakeskin, zebra print and every other animal print under the sun! The AW18 runway embraced it's wild side and the high street swiftly followed suit. 

Leopard print started emerging as an early autumn/winter favourite back in August as pieces started dropping on the high street. I let out an audible cheer and picked up this cheeky little flamenco skirt from Nasty Gal as well as some satin wide-leg trousers. See, I fall into the bold camp of people who declare that leopard print is a neutral. I have a couple of pairs of leopard print shoes which I have worn every season for at least 4 years...they're being held together by the skin of their teeth and the skill of my cobbler! I'm seeing this season as an opportunity to stock up on one of my wardrobe staples. 

This season isn't *just* about leopard print though, so don't fear if it's not your favourite print. While the likes of Dolce & Gabbana and Max Mara embraced the print in a BIG way, Tom Ford opted for a punchy red leopard print and I've seen a handful of pieces inspired by his collection on the high street. Meanwhile, plenty of brands including Balenciaga, Victoria Beckham and Isabel Marant favoured snakeskin, faux python, zebra print and every other print imaginable. This has, of course, hit the high street, with Zara betting heavily on snakeskin and other high street stores dabbling in a range of different prints. 

I absolutely adore leopard print. For some reason, it makes me feel extra ballsy and fearless. I get that it might not be for everyone though, it's an acquired taste. I've outlined three different ways you can embrace animal prints: 

1. Accessorise
This is best for people who want to dip their toe into the world of leopard print without fully committing. A pair of shoes, bag or even a belt can give a subtle nod to the trend without being too overwhelming. 

2. Half/half
If you're feeling slightly braver, pair a leopard print piece with true neutrals, as I did for this look. I opted for a white top, black heels and a basket bag and let my leopard print do the talking. 

3. Head to toe
For a look that's straight off the runway, embrace a print from head-to-toe. I think this is going to be my favourite way to wear animal print as we head into AW18, though more likely to be snakeskin rather than leopard print as I've spotted SO many people in leopard print at the moment! 

Are you going to give animal print a try this season? If you need some inspiration, check out my Pinterest board

Top - Mebuar | Skirt - Nasty Gal | Heels - Aquazzura | Bag - Missy Empire (similar) | Necklace - Astley Clarke

Photography by Adorngirl

Tuesday, 9 October 2018

The Eye of the Tiger

* My necklace was gifted by Astley Clarke but my opinions are independent*

Though my jewellery style is understated and a little minimalist now, I definitely used to embrace the more-is-more stance. In the early days of my blog, I was a jewellery magpie and alternated between stacking on rings, heaping on bracelets and piling on necklaces. I think it must hark back to my childhood. I have very vivid memories of walking over to my mum's wardrobe as a child, pulling out a huge bag of necklaces and layering one on top of the other until I resembled my idol. Mr T in case you were was the Eighties! 

Thankfully, my magpie eye has gotten more refined over the years. My approach to jewellery is now carefully curated. I don't buy often but when I do add a new piece to my collection, it's meaningful to me and treasured. I don't really follow jewellery trends as I prefer my pieces to be timeless and classic rather than disposable.

The one aspect of jewellery which still catches my eye is the use of crystals. I'm a huge fan of Ayurveda and have been studying it for the past year - it's an ancient science of life which focuses on mind, body and wellness. Modern day 'healing crystals' have their roots in the Vedic sciences, which state that each type of crystal is endowed with its own frequency which influences humans in different ways. 

This choker from Astley Clarke initially caught my eye because of its beautifully simple design. When I realised the deep amber stone was a tiger's eye crystal, I needed to find out more about it. In Ayurveda, it is used to attract more luck into your life. It is connected to the Solar Plexus Chakra, Third Eye Chakra and Crown Chakra - essentially linking your 'gut feeling' to the vision your third eye sees. The result is stability, focus, confidence and courage. It challenges anxiety, fear and negative emotions while having a positive, grounding energy. It also looks really pretty and glows like a sunset when I wear it. 

For the last couple of months, I've worn my tiger's eye choker nearly every day. Whether you believe in the healing power of crystals and the Vedic sciences or not, it's a gorgeous piece of jewellery which I absolutely adore. Every time I put it on, I feel special and for me, that's what jewellery is all about. Do you have a piece of jewellery which has a story behind it? 

Necklace - Astley Clarke *gifted* 

Photography by Adorngirl

Wednesday, 19 September 2018

London Fashion Week SS19

I have to admit, I'm really sad that London Fashion Week is over. This has been the best season for a long time for a couple of reasons. It was great to see ethical fashion adopted by a number of designers and tie-ins with charities and alliances dedicated to sustainability.

Also, for the first time in a long time, I actually had fun at fashion week. Usually, my schedule is packed so I barely have time to even drink a gulp of water or the sheer volume of people plus the stress triggers my anxiety awfully. This season I had a busy-but-manageable schedule and spent time with fashion friends who I usually only see at shows.

Johnstons of Elgin
I balance LFW while working full-time, so my fashion week kicked off post-6pm at the Johnston's of Elgin presentation. Held at the beautiful Waldorf Astoria, the presentation felt more like a party with the great and the good of the fashion world clustered in intimate groups clutching a glass of champagne and taking in the beautiful presentation which took centre stage.

Well known for knitwear and their sumptuous AW collections, I was intrigued to see what they had up their sleeve for the summer season. As it happens, Johnston's of Elgin do summer as well as they do winter, with zesty yellows and cobalt blues taking centre stage. Fluid silhouettes in the finest, lightweight cashmere silks and cottons felt airy and slightly Grecian.

I can't write up the collection without mentioning sustainability - Johnston's of Elgin helped to fund and launch the Sustainable Fibre Alliance so the materials used are sustainably sourced.

Johnstons of Elgin SS19 London Fashion Week

Fyodor Golan
Fyodor Podgorny and Golan Frydman have their eyes on the ocean. Their SS19 collection is inspired by everything ocean-related, from surfers and castaways to the beauty of the ocean itself. The collection is a clash of beautiful gowns with sequin scales and fluid silhouettes as well as commercial pieces with bold stripes and oversized flower prints.

Why the fascination with the ocean? This season, the boys teamed up with Plastic Oceans UK, the first UK charity to focus on plastic pollution in the oceans. The brand is known for their sustainable approach to fashion and they have eliminated the use of plastics from their collection and also promote the use of recycled and sustainable materials.

Fyodor Golan SS19 London Fashion Week

Clio Peppiatt
Inspired by John Water's cult film Female Trouble, Clio Peppiatt's SS19 collection is a riot of tinsel hues and surrealist influences which explore the idea of unattainable beauty. The collection felt like a half-shot of tequila with its chocolate box tones layered over rich taffetas, snakeskin and lizard skin, all adorned with Swarovski crystals.

Clio Peppiatt SS19 London Fashion Week

Markus Lupfer
Like Fyodor Golan, Markus Lupfer was also inspired by the ocean. His SS19 collection takes us on a trip to the seaside, through a whimsical, pastel-hued lens. His collection features pretty icecream shades and swathes of frothy tulle. Light-weight, airy fabrics & a healthy sprinkle of sequins = the most beautiful spring collection.

Markus Lupfer SS19 London Fashion Week

Jiri Kalfar
Is there anything more glamorous than a collection inspired by Studio 54?! Jiri Kalfar is channelling the luxe excess of the 70s with the very topical concept of conscious consumption. The collection is based around zero waste patterns, recycled sequins and uses absolutely no leather or fur. I’m so glad to see conscious fashion gaining momentum in London.

Jiri Kalfar SS19 London Fashion Week

Zeynep Kartal
My final show on Saturday was red carpet favourite, Zeynep Kartal. Zeynep’s collections are always dramatic & extra, for SS19 she was inspired by her Turkish roots and an ornate 13-pronged Chelengk diamond jewel gifted to Lord Nelson from Sultan Selim III of Turkey in 1798. Decadent, extravagant and majestic, just how red carpet dresses should be.

Zeynep Kartal SS19 London Fashion Week

FH Christensen
FH Christensen is a new discovery at LFW, designer Farzaneh’s SS19 collection is an extravagant ode to old-school glamour. Red carpet ready gowns and super fun cocktail dresses in ethical and sustainable silks and Duchesse satin with beautiful, exquisite beading, all made in London. I can’t wait to see what she has in store for next season too!

FH Christensen SS19 London Fashion Week

Simon Mo
Like many designers showing at LFW this season, Simon Mo’s inspiration comes from the ocean and more specifically the impact of pollution and plastics. The collection is inspired by Sinbad the Sailor, the collection features vintage scuba suits with exaggerated proportions, soft gauze skirts inspired by ocean waves and retro marine elements. A true celebration of the beauty of the ocean.

Simon Mo SS19 London Fashion Week

One of the finalists of Fashion Scout's Ones To Watch award, AuCarre is a beautiful brand which celebrates feminine power. Founded by twin sisters Erini and Dimitra, the brand's SS19 collection is inspired by feminine surrealism and features hard drawn digital prints, technical knits and layers of tulle.

AuCarre SS19 London Fashion Week

What was your favourite show of the season? 
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