Cassiefairy – My Thrifty Life

Cassiefairy's thrifty lifestyle blog – Saving money every day with DIY crafts, sewing projets, low-cost recipes & shppping tips


UK Blog Awards 2016 Most Innovative Blog – And the winner is…

For the first time in almost 10 years of blogging I don’t know what to write. I finally understand what people mean when they say they are speechless – but I am wordless. I’ve never sat in front of a blank page and not known what to write. But today is different. Today I should be writing something important, meaningful and… well, I don’t know. But, so far, words escape me. I’m thrilled, chuffed and living in a dream. I literally woke up this morning and couldn’t be sure if it all really happened. But all the wonderful messages of congratulations that I scrolled through on twitter this morning confirmed it. I had won!uk blog award winner 2016 most innovative cassiefairy-3 uk blog awards ceremony 2016-29You see, yesterday was the UK Blog Awards 2016 and (after a long day at work) hubby and I had driven to London to attend the glitziest of awards ceremonies. Sponsored by Odeon cinemas and held in the ultra-swish Park Plaza hotel in Westminster, it was the most amazing event I’d ever been to. Themed around the magical story of The BFG by Roald Dahl, the venue was beautifully dressed with blossom trees and jars full of dreams. The BFG himself was even wandering around the venue, photo-bombing bloggers wherever he went. It honestly felt like I’d stepped into a dream, and that’s probably why I find it so hard to believe that my dream became a reality last blog awards ceremony 2016-14 uk blog awards ceremony 2016-11 uk blog awards ceremony 2016-8 uk blog awards ceremony 2016-6 Having already chosen ‘my winners’ for each category in the awards, I knew that I was up against the stiffest of competition and most inspirational of blogs. I knew I didn’t stand a chance of scooping an award so I was simply there to soak up the atmosphere, meet some of the wonderful women that I’d been collaborating with over the past year and to seek out some of my blogging inspirations. So you can understand my wordlessness when the opposite happened and judge Sandra Donskyte – my business hero – announced me as the winner of Most Innovative Blog. I was hoisted from my comfy “I’ll just sit here and watch” seat and gently encouraged onto the stage by my husband, where I whimpered (and probably swore!) my way through collecting the award. Thank goodness Sandra and Kate Russell were there to hold me up!uk blog awards ceremony 2016-18uk blog awards ceremony 2016-20 uk blog awards ceremony 2016-21 uk blog awards ceremony 2016-26There is no word to describe that moment. Nor any moment since. I guess that word hasn’t been invented yet because I can’t seem to find any word even remotely suitable in my vocabulary to tell you how I felt. So, in the absence of words (I honestly thought this blog post was going to be blank when I sat down to write a few minutes ago!) I’m going to have to let our photographs do the talking.

My swishy dress & red handbag are from Boden, my pretty (and all-night-long comfy!) pink shoes are from Hotter and my make-up is from

I met SO many wonderful bloggers last night and I had the chance to chat ‘in real life’ to many of the folk I email on an almost weekly basis. It was the chance to meet face-to-face that really made the night special and I loved every minute. I’m hoping to collaborate with many of the bloggers I met, so I’ll be sure to introduce them to you soon. Even now I keep asking my husband whether I did actually win; I’m worried that I went up on stage and collected someone else’s award! But no, it DOES have my name printed on it, so (as long as I keep it nearby so I can continue checking) I’ll start to believe it blog award winner 2016 most innovative cassiefairy uk blog awards ceremony 2016-19 uk blog award winner 2016 most innovative cassiefairy-2 uk blog awards ceremony 2016-29Thank you all so much for the years of support, for reading my blog, for sticking with me, for commenting, for tweeting and for being my friends. You guys rock!

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I’ve been shortlisted for ‘Most Innovative’ blog in the UK Blog Awards!

I still can’t believe it. I have actually been shortlisted in the UK Blog Awards. And for the ‘Most Innovative’ blog category. There are no words to describe how I’m feeling right now. Thrilled, delighted, amazed and shocked just doesn’t do it justice. Thank you, thank  you, THANK YOU for voting for me. You did this. YOU put this smile on my face!
I've been shortlisted for the UK Blog Awards 2016 Final.I actually didn’t find out myself – I was working hard on an article when the ‘you’ve made the shortlist’ email came through – so I only found out when my friends and family started getting in touch to congratulate me! I was all like, eh? And then I checked my email. I logged on to the UK Blog Awards website. I double-checked the categories. I sat open-mouthed for a few minutes until the news sunk in and a smile spread across my face. And it has seriously not left my face ever since!

As the UK Blog Awards are totally down to reader votes, I honestly couldn’t have got anywhere in the competition without YOU. You have made my day, my weekend, my month and my year. You’re the best and I can’t thank you enough. Cheers to all who have supported me and helped my little thrifty lifestyle blog to get to the finals of a national competition. Wow. Have an amazing weekend everyone!


Interview with teen blogger Tolly Dolly Posh

What were you doing when you were 14? Going to school? Hanging out with your friends? Me too, which is why I was a little bit jealous when I read Blurb’s interview with Tolly Dolly, a 14-year-old fashion blogger who’s already been featured in magazines and on the BBC. Oh, and she gets to live in France, too. Tolly and I were both finalists in the Company Blog Awards 2013 and we rubbed shoulders at the glamorous awards event, and I’ve since gone on to win a POSH fashion award judged by Tolly Dolly herself, so I’m really pleased to share details of her recent interview with Blurb. Tolly started fashion blogging aged just eleven and now, with her first fashion design contract in the bag, she’s been talking scrapbooking (with a hashtag), achievements, ambitions, and all things festive.
Tolly Dolly quote

Tell us about you, when and how did your creativity begin to manifest and how has it developed to what you’re doing now?

I’m a teen blogger. I’m 14 and started my blog, Tolly Dolly Posh Fashion, in 2012 when I was just 11. I decided to start my blog to get me closer to achieving my goal of becoming a fashion designer. I’ve been featured in UK magazines and have spoken on BBC Radio 4, and I would definitely say this has helped me get to where I am now in terms of my blog and my writing skills. It’s also been an amazing way to gain new skills and add to my portfolio for the future.

What inspires you?

Lots of things inspire me, in terms of people I would say other bloggers, fashion designers, and upcoming artists. All kinds of creative people. I like to look at people who do what they want and don’t let anybody get in their way. It is definitely inspirational.

Tell us about your process.

In terms of blogging, I am very organized so I get things done quite swiftly, which is quite hard when I’m a busy teen mixing blogging with education. I gain inspiration from magazines and articles I read and think up how I could make them into something brand-new and start from that. I love photography so I mainly use my own imagery, which is always fun to put together. I edit the pictures down and start writing. I like to use music as a bit of a boost too. It really gets those creative juices flowing.

What have been your biggest achievements?

Like I mentioned, I would love to have a career as a fashion designer. Blogging has definitely made me 100% sure that is what I want to do. I’ve recently signed my first design contract with Dutch brand Mooi en Lief and I am so excited for the collection to come out. I can finally say I’m a designer … weird?!

What ambitions do you have and where do you see yourself taking this in the future?

I would say my main ambition is to just keep going and to carry on being confident in what I do. I don’t see the point in carrying on working on something you don’t enjoy, and I certainly enjoy writing my blog. I’d also like to see myself opening up a shop or two by the time I reach 25 … this might sound crazy, but I really hope I can achieve this!
Scrap Social

Please tell us about the project you’ve decided to share with us.

I started #ScrapSocial as a way to gain inspiration for my designing as well as a way to get me off the computer when I have the urge. It’s a great way to get those creative juices flowing in a fun way. I use magazines, which I love, especially ones with matte paper. I love using fashion editorials and putting them together in quirky ways, as well as adding texture and new levels with sequins and fabrics, etc. The name “Scrap Social” mixes scrapbooking with scrapping social media, but then the # means you can go ahead and share your scrapbook too when you’ve added a few pages. I’m really enjoying it so far and it went down a storm on my blog!

What is special about the festive season and Christmas for you?

I love the feeling of being around all my family. Presents are obviously a bonus, but just being in a nice, warm environment with lots of laughter and happiness is such a magical feeling. It’s almost a day to celebrate being together, and I love that, especially now that my older siblings are starting their own little families!

I love the cozy feeling that Christmas brings. Warm wooly socks, a hot fire, and hot chocolates. It makes me feel so happy and warm inside. I love it!

Do you have a personal Christmas ritual or tradition?

Not really, other than my parents putting my stocking at the end of my bed in the middle of the night… Unfortunately I don’t believe in Santa anymore, but the stocking will do 😉

If you were to make a gift book, what would it be and who for?

I would probably make it for my sister. We’ve got quite a big age gap (she’s 12 years older!) and I’d like to give her a book so she can remember all the memories we’ve had as big sis and little sis so far. I think it would be so sweet and I’d love putting it together.

Seriously stylish gift books (with a little French flair)

If you’re looking to copy Tolly’s style—or, better yet, improve on your own gift-giving style—check out these books inspired by fashion, youth, and France.

France - Don McLaughlin

Don McLaughlin

Explore the streets of France in gorgeous black-and-white art photography shot on medium format or 35mm film and printed as scans of original negatives.

How Do I Look - Hollie Blundell

How Do I Look?
Hollie Blundell

Tolly obviously doesn’t need this book, but a teen in your life might enjoy an A–Z guide to cutting-edge personal style.

Flawless Issue 14 - Flawless

Flawless Issue 14

A new magazine promoting aspiring and established creative artists in the industry, dedicated to bringing you the best talent the fashion world has to offer.

Alexander McQueen: Controvery - Nikki Phennah

Alexander McQueen: Controversy
Nikki Phennah

Meet a true visionary who set the fashion world alight and left it all too soon

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I’m nominated for the Cosmopolitan awards!

Ok, I think I’m getting a little bit addicted. To blog awards. Yes, that’s right, I’m trying to get nominated for another blog award and this time is the elusive, fabulous and starriest of all blog awardsCosmopolitan, yikes!  Why am I addicted? Well, I LOVE the feeling of knowing that you’ve been enjoying reading my blog (there IS someone out there!) and like it enough to bother voting for me. I know how much of a kerfuffle it can be to cast a vote (especially on some super-advanced techy devices!) and it amazes and humbles me that you bothered. It must mean I’m doing something right (I really hope so!) and that you’re willing to help me. It means we’re friends, and that makes me SO happy.


Now I’m under no real illusions that I’ll be able to compete with the fabulous, well-designed, professional blogs that are shortlisted for the Cosmo blog awards each year, but I’d like to see whether people-power alone could get this little thrifty lifestyle blog noticed! What do you think? Are you with me?! Is that tumbleweed I see..?

Here’s the link to the Cosmo nomination website – please scroll down and click on ‘next page’ to open up the nomination form:

Please nominate me for Best Lifestyle Blog – I think that’s the category that I fit into best! – but please feel free to nominate for as many awards as you fancy! I’m over a year old so I can’t go for best newcomer anymore but my pal Jenna from can, so please nominate her too if you get the chance! I’m also nominating for best travel blog and for best established fashion blog and I think I can vote as many times as I like, so guess what I’ll be doing for the next month?! The nominations close on 2nd June 2014 so please pop a nomination in for us whenever you get the chance. And tweet me @Cassiefairy so that I can say thanks in person!

Thank you SO much, chat soon! 🙂


Tuesday Shoesday ~ YOUR shoes for April

This week’s Tuesday Shoesday blog post is all about you. Today I’m featuring all the photos and stories about the lovely shoes that my fabulous readers have sent in after seeing my last article on YOUR favourite shoes. Do you have some favourite footwear that you’d like to share on the blog? I’d love to have more of your contributions so please get in touch with a photo of your shoes, whether they are scruffy trainers or glitzy heels, if they are your favourites I want to see them! Email me a snap and a sentence about why you like them to So without further ado, here is this month’s contributions and the reasons why you love your shoes so much!

tuesday shoesday pretty silver dolly shoes

Lisa has just started blogging and she has shared this story of her silver shoes above; “I bought these bashed up beauties in Newcastle just hours after running my first half marathon. I remember hobbling awkwardly into the shop with my medal still proudly around my neck en-route to the train station. On reflection they were possibly the most inappropriate of shoes to be pushing my poor battered feet into, but it felt like such an incredible treat having lived in my trainers for the weeks leading up to that challenge. With their slight platform I always feel tall and confident in these Carvelas. They quickly became my go-to shoes for any night out that might involve a spot of dancing. The double straps make me feel secure enough to attempt the most energetic of dance moves and they are the only shoes I can dance in all night, without the need for donning a pair of rather sensible flat pumps for the journey home.”

tuesday shoesday jimmy choo silver wedding shoes

Lisa also sent me a second photo of her wedding shoes above; “In the months leading up to my wedding, I worked an evening job to save up for my dream pair of shoes for the big day. However, once the dancing started, even my sparkly new pair of Jimmy Choos were sidelined to make way for my trusty Carvelas. Whilst the JC’s made me feel extremely elegant walking down the aisle, there was only ever going to be one pair of shoes I turned to for that matrimonial boogie.”

Karine from TropicalColours skyscraper platform heel shoes

Melbourne-based blogger Karine from Tropical Colours blog spotted my last Tuesday Shoesday blog post and sent me a photo of her skyscraper platform heels (above) straight away. The photo looks like it’s stretched but they genuinely are that high! She says; “I absolutely love shoes and I just have so many!  This one however, stands out so much from the others mainly because of how high  it is! I wore these babies for my high school graduation and as much as I love  them, they were by far the worst decision ever. The height is just so painful! I  know I’m going back and forth from loving to hating it! It’s probably the best  pair of heels I’ve ever bought and the ones people always gasp at and wish they had!”

feeling stylish shoe wall and Jeffrey Campbell green wedges

fashion footwear - feeling stylish Jeffrey Campbell aztec shoe boots

Jess from inspirational blog Feeling Stylish sent me a few photos because she couldn’t narrow down her favourite shoes to just one pair – and you can see why from her ‘shoe wall’ collection! Jess tells me; “The Aztec wedge boots above are by Jeffrey Campbell, without a doubt my most favourite shoe brand ever and the green wedges are Jeffrey Campbell Damsels. I’ve never worn these out, they’re just too high for me, but they’re one of my favourite pairs of shoes because they’re a work of art! Finally, I’ve attached a picture of my favourite sandals (below). They’ve got me through miles and miles of walking and have travelled with me to all sorts of countries from Venice (where to picture was taken) to Turkey, to Sweden and so on! My blog is Plenty of shoes there!”

fashion shoes - feeling stylish flats sandals

Fabulous lifestyle blogger and fellow Posh Fashion Award winner Sophie from La Vie Sophie sent me a photo of her favourite Jimmy Choos that have been going strong for years; “My favourite shoes are my Jimmy Choo Syra’s in black kid leather. I’ve had these slingbacks for nearly 10 years now and they’ve lasted like a dream. They’re beautiful, practical and comfortable, things you rarely get combined in a shoe. The pointed toe may not be for everyone, but in the time I’ve had them, pointed toes have come in and out of fashion like crazy! I have some great memories of wearing these shoes for some really special occasions and they’ll always be my favourite pair of shoes.”

Jimmy Choo slingback heels from la vie sophie

So what do you think of these lovely ladies’ footwear choices? Let me know and please make sure you follow all their fabulous blogs too! If you’d like to be involved in the next YOUR shoes article please send me a quick photo of your favourite shoes and let me know why you like them so much! My email address is and I’m really looking forward to hearing from you 🙂


Tuesday Shoesday ~ YOUR shoes

If someone asked you to show them your favourite shoes, which pair would you pick and why? That’s exactly what I’ve asked my lovely readers to do and I’m pleased to report that lots of bloggers were able to answer that difficult question! I’ve compiled the images that all you fabulous fashionistas have been sending in to share with you all this Tuesday Shoesday. It’s been SO interesting to see how different their favourite footwear is and to read the reasons why these shoes have made the top of their list. If you’d like to join in with the discussion, why not send me a pair of your favourite shoes and be featured in a future Tuesday Shoesday article? Email me and in the meantime have a read of all these fabulous stories:

Vicki from hen party planners Dizzy Events sent me the photo below of a pair of Mary Jane heels that she bought from Topshop years ago; “I have LOADS of shoes, far too many in fact but these always stand out because of the memories attached to them. My best friend Taya (co-thinker-upper of Dizzy Events) and I decided on a whim one Friday night that we’d meet outside Topshop on Oxford Street, ignore our diminutive bank balances and buy a pair of shoes. She bought a red pair and I bought these. Then we went out-out. It’s always remembered as The Night Of The Whimsical New Shoes and I don’t think we’ll ever be able to do that again, now that we’re older and responsible with our money (sort of).  They’re my favourite Impulse Shoes.” What a fabulous story – I need to go shopping for impulse shoes more often!

tuesday shoesday blogger favourite shoes dizzy events and brogues from remotely fashion

I first encountered writer and stylist Miriam during her inspirational talk at London Fashion Weekend where she and graphic designer Siobhan discussed their corner of the blogosphere Remotely Fashion and blogging within the fashion industry. They are the worthy winners of The Clothes Show Live Fashion Blogger of the Year Award so I was pretty excited to see which shoes Miriam had chosen as her favourites – these gold brogues above; “Now in their 7th year, they’re looking a little bit worse for wear, but I have yet to find a suitable replacement for my ‘dancers’!” I am completely in love with my brogues too so I know how she feels!

The creative ladies from The New Craft Society and winners of Cosmopolitan’s Best Craft Blog award got in touch to share their joint favourite shoes – Hannah and Rosie both chose their comfy Vans trainers; “We both love our Vans because they’re so easy to throw on and go. R’s are in a limited edition Liberty print whereas H’s are more basic and significantly more worn! When holes start to appear in the toes you know it’s time for a new pair!” Very true! I get through a few pairs of cheapie trainers each year, so I’ve been inspired to splash out on a decent pair this summer – especially if I can find some as beautiful as these!

tuesday shoesday favourite shoes from glitter daze and the new craft society trainers

Jenna from Glitter Daze blog couldn’t decide between her two favourite pairs of shoes – so she sent me photos of both: “I love both these pairs – the diamante pair because they are sparkly and I got them in the January sales, and the grey pair because they are so comfortable and I wore them to a friends wedding last year which I loved.” Jenna is a finalist in the wedding category of the National Blog Awards so perhaps she’ll wear one of these gorgeous pairs to the awards ceremony in April?!

Lucy from inspirational blog LucyLovesYa got in touch to share her favourite pair of trainers. If you’ve already read her blog, you’ll know how much she loves Converse and that she has quite a collection going on, so it must have been difficult to choose just one pair! “Being a mega Converse fan, my eyes popped out of my head when I saw these! I so wanted to be Wonder Woman when I was little. Just daren’t wear them too much incase they get ruined :)” I completely understand because I too had a lovely pair of cute patterned Babycham trainers that I liked so much that I didn’t want to ruin them by wearing them, but now they have tucked away in their shoebox for the past 3 years and have barely been on my feet so maybe it’s time to get them out again!

tuesday shoesday lucy loves ya and confessions of a fashion stylist blog shoes

Industry professional Janelle from Confessions of a Fashion Stylist sent me these photos of her stunning metallic strappy heels – bang on trend for Spring/Summer 2014 and super-glamourous! She says “I love these shoes because they’re perfect for a dressy look or add an instant touch of glam to a casual look.  I pair these with boyfriend jeans and a clutch as one of my favourite looks.” The metallic trend is massive right now so I’m super-jealous of these gorgeous sandals – although I’m not sure I could walk in those killer heels!

Photographer Claire from Lacey in Places shared some lovely images of her top pumps below along with a story of her childhood recollections of where her passion for shoes began; “When I was little, every weekend I used to look forward to visiting my grand parents so I could watch the Wizard of Oz on video tape. I managed to successfully beg my mum for a shiny, patent pair of red t-bar shoes from Clarks. I used to pretend I was Dorothy, being transported to a new land to meet scarecrow, tin man and the lion, then clicking my heels to go home. I hadn’t owned a pair of red shoes for years, until my friend Becky bought me these red Dune shoes. I fell in love with them, they are soo comfy and I love the splash of colour they add to any outfit. These shoes have been with me to so many new lands as I love to explore new places from Morocco, the Caribbean to trips closer to home.  I have many happy memories whilst wearing these shoes, including celebrating my 30th Birthday at work, where my friends decided to advertise how old I was!!”
tuesday shoesday favourite shoes lacey in places
In summary: Comfort is key, with lots of contributers sending in photographs of their trainers or their old faithful shoes. When heels have been chosen it’s because they are a comfortable pair of heels and the wearer can dance the night away in them. You may notice that I haven’t actually shared my favourite shoes with you, and that’s because I simply cannot choose between them! But I will make a shortlist and share them in a future blog post. I know that a few more readers are in the process of sending me photos and stories about their favourite shoes so I’m going to share another article about YOUR favourite shoes during April. If you’ve been inspired to contribute after reading all these stores above please send me your photos to – I can’t wait to see what shoes YOU love the most!


Building your own personal brand – what does the world need to know?

Good news on a rather cloudy Thursday – we have finally arrived at the third segment on the subject of personal branding and I’m sharing the last set of questions in order to determine your personal brand purpose. I am so surprised by the great reaction I’ve had from bloggers, job-hunters, brands, tweeters and friends on the articles I’ve been writing over the past couple of weeks on the subject of personal branding. It seems like everyone can get something out of answering the questions I’ve been posting to answer ‘What am I good at?‘ and ‘What am I passionate about?’. Whether we have a shop, blog or are writing a CV, it’s been a good starting point for us to really think about what makes us special and what we want to do in life.

We’ve previously chatted about the course that I was studying, the ‘Secret Power of Brands’, and at the very least I was hoping that I’d be able to share a little more about myself and my life with you all by answering the personal branding questions ‘in public’. In truth, I probably wouldn’t have got round to answering the questions at all if it had been left up to me to do it on my own, but going through them for the benefit of us all has forced me to consider each answer carefully and has actually resulted in me having a little bit of a rethink about my work. Have you been answering the questions too? What conclusions have you made so far? Here are the last set of questions which aim to answer the question ‘What does the world need to know?’.

personal brand purpose UEA

Sorry for the blurry image, it’s one of the slides from the UEA Secret Power of Brands course.

Identify issues or themes affecting your industry or line of work My greatest problem within my industry is the level of competition. I don’t mean competitiveness, although undoubtedly this does go on, but I just choose to ignore it because (other than during music quizzes) I’m not at all competitive. I mean the sheer volume of other people doing the same things that I am doing; writing and blogging. First of all, the global nature of blogging means that I have a whole world of amazing blogs to compete with and could not possibly find out every single one of my blog ‘competitors’ because there are millions… And even in my subject sector (what exactly is that? thrift? fashion? DIY? lifestyle? food?) there are just too many for me to even research. In terms of writing, when I am aiming for national publications, I’m competing with all the other talented journalists in the country who all want to land a great article job or regular column for a digital publication. No doubt we all have our own specialisms and writing styles but again it’s a tough industry to break into and maintain a career in due, in part, to the vast numbers of ‘competition’.

What’s currently broken? I think that there is a proliferation of digital publications and blogs who are not generating new content but are simply reposting other people’s ideas and content, writing lists and relying on images and less on writing or being creative. Some websites are specialists at this and I am happy to read them and even use them as a resource but when there are so many amazing writers out there, it seems a shame that publishers want to commission shorter written articles and more of these ‘top 5 of such and such..’ posts.

What is the competition failing at? Possibly monetising their work. If bloggers and writers were being paid properly and regularly they would be able to dedicate more time to their work and the standard of their content would perhaps be better. I’m not saying that a half-an-hour post is any less important than something that has been researched and written over a week – I myself can really spurt something out quickly if I’m passionate and knowledgeable about the subject – I just want all writers to be given the means to be more creative in their work and needing to write a large volume of content quickly in order to pay the bills is never the best way to inspire creativity and new ideas.

How could your skills help? I think that my passion comes across in my writing – or at least I hope it does – and this will help my writing to stand out amongst all the other articles out there. I hope that I can create happy relationships with my readers – who I usually chat with as friends too! – and that they will come back to read my work wherever it is published. Therefore my writing will hopefully continue to land me more commissions and contracts so that I may dedicate more time to my ‘art’ and spend time researching, writing, photographing and creating engaging new content.

And that’s all for this section. I’ve actually not enjoyed answering these questions as much as the previous two segments and I think that’s because the questions have taken a negative stance, you know how much I hate to be a sour-puss. At least I have determined what I don’t want my work to become! Plus, I have found out that money is more important to me than I thought, something that I never thought I’d say – all of us artists, writers, crafters and creatives do what we do because we love it and would do it anyway even if we were not being paid – but I’ve found out that more paid work would enable me to spend more time on my work and perhaps better improve the quality of my research and writing – maybe! I don’t want to compete with ‘everyone in the world’ but I do want to carry on making an impact in my own corner of the world.

How have you found answering these questions? As difficult as I did? What results do you have for the ‘what does the world need to know’ segment? There is one final post on it’s way to analyse your ultimate brand purpose and how to work with this in the future so please check back soon to finish off this project with me 🙂


Building your own personal brand ~ What are you good at?

Last week I started a bit of a discussion on personal branding and I’ve been surprised by the amount of positive responses I’ve had to this mini-series. Even well-established bloggers – people that I think already have a much stronger brand than I do – have been getting in touch to say how much it has helped and that they are looking forward to the next instalment. We’ve previously chatted about the ‘Secret Power of Brands’ course in my initial blog post on the subject and have discussed the first step in personal branding – answering the questions that discover “What are you passionate about?”. So I can’t keep my pals waiting any longer and here is the second set of questions for us all to attempt to answer today. Sorry for the blurry image, it has been taken from a slideshow from the UEA course I’ve just finished studying.

personal brand purpose UEA

Today I’m going to try answering the questions below in order to address the “What are you good at?” section. Have a go at answering these questions for yourself and you’ll be another step closer to creating your own personal brand. Of course, I’m already cringing a little about sharing my achievements etc and I really don’t want my answers to sound like I’m writing responses to a job application form, but I guess these questions are designed for that very reason; to develop an understanding of our own abilities and to be able to ‘sell’ ourselves – and in some cases to create a CV – as a personal brand. So here goes…

What is your biggest strength? I’m going to say communication here. I’m not talking about simply talking, because I’m not always fantastic at small-talk and chit-chat, but I enjoy a proper conversation, a debate, an intelligent exchange. I’m good at written communication and some of my best conversations are published on this very blog. Plus I have studied Makaton for a long time, so can communicate physically too, even with those who have trouble communicating in the traditional sense. I am a great pen pal.

What is your personal superpower? Without a doubt, my personal superpower is empathy. I care deeply for other people (and even animals) and can always put myself into another person’s shoes and really feel what they are feeling. This makes me more emotional than I’d like to be at times but I’m sure that my empathetic nature has led me to develop fantastic friendships.

Why would someone work with you? I have a cheery disposition (just like Mary Poppins, eh?!) and I am also very helpful and will take time to assist others in their projects. I guess this is why I like to join in with guest posts and blog challenges now that I’m a blogger – I like to work with others on a shared outcome which benefits us both – so maybe I ought to join in with more of this kind of thing. Let me know if you have a project you’d like me to join in with and I will probably jump at the change.

What do colleagues get from you? Someone who can be trusted to work unsupervised and get the work done on or before a deadline. They will also get honest advice and I like to teach others how to do things if they don’t already have knowledge of the task. They will get my time, energy and enthusiasm. I genuinely want everyone to reach their full potential and am a good cheerleader.

What roles or activities have you excelled in previously? I’m going to answer this in terms of what tasks I have enjoyed most in the past, because I’ve never not given 100% in every role I’ve worked in but that doesn’t mean that I have always liked it! I worked as a research intern after finishing university and I really looked forward to working on the project every day and getting excellent results. In my very first job as a marketing assistant for a publishing house, I found that I did my best work during research and editorial tasks. Within both of these roles I liked being autonomous and preferred the writing element of the work.

What are your biggest achievements so far? My biggest achievements are gaining a first class degree and a masters degree with distinction, which I now realise also probably shows my preference for and ability to work independently, read, research, write, design and communicate well. Obviously I need to mention the blog which has led to lots of opportunities for writing articles for other publications – something I’ve always wanted to do but never really realised before I began blogging – I was always good at writing as a teen but fought against this because I didn’t want to be a ‘square’ at school. I’m also going to count a ten year marriage, strong friendships, happy family life and teaching my nephew new things among my biggest achievements and I honestly think personal achievements outweigh educational or career success in my mind.

So let me know how you get on with answering these questions and developing an answer to the “What are you good at?” section on the brand purpose chart above. I think my overall discovery is that I am good at writing, research, independent working, learning, teaching, sharing and developing relationships. It all seems a bit obvious now that I’ve written it down, because that’s basically what I’m doing every day through the blog and in my life, but until you write it down and really think about it, I don’t think you really know yourself all that well! At least I’ve found out that I’m more-or-less doing what I should be doing in life already and that I ought to focus on developing my current ‘career’ rather than searching for something else. What have you found out by answering these questions? Leave me a comment below, I’d love to know!


Building your own personal brand – What do you love?

During the week I wrote about the “Secret Power of Brands” course that I have just completed and how the last lesson on personal branding turned out to be the most valuable to me as a blogger. I’d never really considered myself a ‘brand’ before, but my blog certainly is projecting an image of me into the world and I’d like it to at least reflect who I am as a person! I think lots of other bloggers would find it useful to have a little think about the ideas that the course shares on personal branding so I wanted to go through the process with you and maybe you could join in too.

There are three parts to creating a brand purpose, which is something every ‘brand’ needs whether it is a company selling something or whether it is simply how you come across on a CV. These three sections identify what you’re passionate about, what you’re good at and what the world needs to know, and where they cross over in the centre is the brand purpose – easy, huh? Or maybe not. I’ve found it difficult to pinpoint something for each of these sections but luckily the course offered a list of questions to answer in order to figure out your answers for each section. Here is an example of which Richard Branson’s personal branding chart would look like (sorry for the slightly blurry image – it’s from a powerpoint slide):

richard bransons personal brand purpose UEA The questions that I’m aiming to answer today are those in the  “What are you passionate about?” section. I realised that, even though I share information on my blog everyday, all you lovely readers might not know that much about me as a person. I’ve not really shared much about my personal life, although if you read my posts you’ll probably gather that I’m married and my nephew is one of the most awesome little people I’ve ever met, but other than that, what do you really know about me? I’d be interested to hear what you think and it would be very useful for this task so please leave me a comment below. I am a very private person – odd for a blogger, I know – but I want to share more of myself, as I think my best writing comes when the topic is more personal. It’s just finding the balance I guess. Anyway, I’m taking a deep breath and answering the questions to identify “What are you passionate about?” below.

What gets you up in the morning? There are a few things and I’m not being cheeky when I say that my husband gets me up in the morning. Ok he literally does because I set an alarm to get him to work on time, but that’s not what I mean. He is one of the main reasons that I get up in the morning because we are working towards creating a better life together: a creative life where we are both doing things that we love. I get up in the morning in order to work on my writing, share blog posts and take part in creative projects and it keeps me busy (and happy) all day long.

What keeps you up at night? Definitely my blog and writing as a whole. As soon as I’m in bed the ideas for articles start to flow and I write out sentences (and sometimes whole articles) in my mind. It’s a shame that I can’t automatically record these bedtime thoughts with a brain print-out or something, because it would save me a lot of work the following day when I try to remember that amazing paragraph I subconsciously wrote the previous night. Worries about the cost of living in general keeps me up at night too and I think of ways of cutting costs rather than finding more money. Life shouldn’t be as expensive as it currently seems to be so I am believe in minimising costs, making your own, upcycling, making savings etc – anything to be thrifty so that more of my money stays in my pocket rather than sitting in the multi-million pound bank accounts of massive companies.

What are your core values and beliefs? I believe in love and family, the importance of friends and communication, not that I’m always that great at it. I refuse to plod through a prescribed life without imaging that it could be any different so I believe in creativity, happiness and education. And also being kind to animals.

What are you for and against? The world is too consumer-driven and I hate the idea of a throwaway society, so I’m for recycling, hand-me-downs and second-hand. It’s not as thought I’m never going to buy something new but why not shop in charity stores too? I am a massive believer in supporting charities which I why I blog about important causes and write for Oxfam. I agree with charitable giving in terms of time, experience, knowledge, items – not just money. I am against poverty, homelessness, loneliness.

What experiences in your life have been most fulfilling? Going to university as a ‘mature’ student, any kind of writing I’ve done, looking after and helping my friends and family when needed, teaching my nephew things.

What impact do you want to make in the world? To help people believe that their life can be different in any way that they want it to be: cheaper, happier, more creative, fun, fulfilled etc.

I hope you’ll have a go at answering these questions too and that they will help you find out where your passions lie. I have found out from my answers that I want to share happiness and knowledge through writing and perhaps live a thrifty life along the way – maybe that falls within the area of being self-sufficient, ecologically-sound living or recycling? Ooh I’m going to have to think about this a bit more before I can come up with a final definition for the “What do I love?” section. I will share the questions for the second – and little more tricky – segment “What are you good at?” soon and you can expect lots of flimsy, self-deprecating answers from me!


How to build your own personal brand

As a girl who has been a student for most of her adult life, you’ll remember how I struggled with not starting a course in September this year and how I wrote about the quick U-turn I made when I discovered that I could study a free module from the University of East Anglia. It was a course entitled ‘The Secret Power of Brands” and having studied marketing in the past (ok, I have a masters in lifestyle promotion, oops) I thought it would be a good refresher course, enabling me to brush up my knowledge and learn about all the new ways of marketing and branding that simply didn’t exist when I completed my MA back in 2010. Believe it or not, social media wasn’t as important only 3 years ago, user-led content creation brands weren’t around and blogs weren’t even mentioned back then. This course taught me that things have changed considerably in the world of branding and getting expert advice from the brand professionals at Wolff Olins was invaluable and brought my knowledge bang up to date.

It took me 14 weeks to complete the course rather than the recommended 10 (mainly due to time off over Christmas, I guess) but I’m glad that I took my time to really understand the content and access all the resources that the course offered – I’ve now watched loads of talks on – my new go-to website when I need motivation! One of the most important lessons came at the very end of the course and it was the most relevant to me as a blogger – how to build your own personal brand. Although this lesson was aimed at creating a ‘personal brand’ in terms of promoting yourself to potential employers, I took a lot from it as a blogger.

i want to make beautiful things even if noone cares saul bass quote

Saul Bass quote via Pinterest

I realised that I’m putting my ‘brand’ out there everyday. When I write a blog post, it project an image of me and my website as a whole. My blog design says something about me too – that header isn’t just a standard theme I’ve chosen from a list – I’ve had my artist husband draw images that represent sewing and cooking in order to briefly demonstrate what readers can expect while reading the blog. I’ve used my favourite colours and fonts, so rather following design trends or Pantone’s colour of the year I’m sticking with my preference because that too says something about me. In fact I’ve always used this shade of pink (#FF0088) for all of my websites over the years and the pale blue was the colour theme of my wedding so it will always be my top colour choice. Plus, the trends in graphic design, typography, colours and themes change so quickly, I’d never keep up with it and I’d probably get fed up with the design as quickly as anyone else – remember how every website seemed to be using chevrons for the last 2 years? Although I loved it at the time, I’m glad I didn’t use chevrons now – it would have dated my site quickly and looked like every other project on Pinterest! So my blog design itself would be part of my ‘personal brand’ as it communicates something about me to all the lovely readers who stop by. Also I have to look at it everyday, so I’d better like it at least!

personal brand purpose UEA

The course ended with an exercise which would help you to find your personal brand and included the questions above, along with some prompts to help me answer these questions. I’m working my way through them and will share my answers when I’m done. Hopefully this will give me an insight into my ‘purpose’ and might help me to grow my blog and writing career in someway. My friend is always telling me that I need a focus so that I am moving towards something rather than just wafting through the blogosphere so I’ve been looking at the manifestos of other creative people on Pinterest with the aim of creating my own. In the meantime, I’ll be considering the questions above – apparently where the answers collide in the middle will be my ‘personal brand’, lets see shall we?

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