It’s finally arrived! After months of waiting for the latest interior design book by Will Taylor to hit the shelves (and putting my name down for a copy really early) I was already too excited when the delivery finally dropped onto the doormat. Unwrapping the parcel felt like Christmas and, having avoided reading any other reviews or peeking at the pages, I had no idea what was inside. Cancel all my meetings – Dream Décor was finally in my hands and I was ready to read. This book is the second publication by Will Taylor of interior design blog Bright Bazaar. I’ve been a fan for years and this inspirational site is one of the first places I go for new season design ideas and makeover projects. I loved the colour-packed pages of Will’s first book Bright Bazaar: Embracing Colour For Make-You-Smile Style so I was confident that I’d enjoy reading Dream Décor just as much. I snapped some photos before I’d even opened the book – I think you can tell from the photos just how keen I am to flick through it – and then I settled down for an afternoon of browsing through Will’s latest release. I’d spotted a few news updates online about the launch of the book, which took place on 12th May at West Elm London on Tottenham Court Road, and I SO wish I was the type of blogger to get invited to these kind of events! I noticed a few of my blogging pals posting pre-release photos of the book on their Instagram and I wondered how they got hold of them. Jealous, or what?? Even so, I still managed to get my copy of book on the very day it was released. Dream Decor: Styling a Cool, Creative and Comfortable Home, Wherever You Live hit bookshelves all around the country on 17th May and I can’t believe it’s taken me nearly a week to write this little review for you. So let’s start with the cover. It’s beautifully adorned with one of my favourite interior design trends of the year – watercolour stripes. It looks fabulously nautical and hints at the content to come; there are plenty of pages of coastal inspiration inside the book and it even kicks off with a photoshoot of Will’s own seaside-esque home office. With photography by Andrew Boyd and beautiful real-home locations from around the globe, you can tell that this book had a higher production budget than the first. I know that an interior design book should have lots of gorgeous photos but oh-my-goodness this book is bursting with hundreds – I might even say thousands – of beautifully styled décor photos.
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 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!
I had some fantastic news over the Christmas break. My blog, my simple little thrifty lifestyle blog, had been nominated for the UK Blog Awards 2016. I don’t know who put my blog forward for an award or even whether more than just one person popped my name into the ‘hat’ but to whoever did nominate me, thank you so much! It means that I’ve been added to the list of blogs for the public voting stage (which is now open!) and I’m in with a chance of getting through to the next stage. SO exiting and I’m so grateful that I have been nominated. What a great start to 2016!So now I’d love to share details of how to vote with you, just in case you wouldn’t mind stopping by the UK Blog Awards website and giving me a quick vote.
Go to my profile page on the UK Blog Awards site, where you can vote for me in the ‘Lifestyle’ category and for the ‘Most Innovative’ blog award. And as a thank you I’d love to send you a free PDF copy of my ‘Pieday Friday’ Ebook with lots of yummy recipes for dinner, dessert and snacks, so please leave me a comment below this blog post to let me know if you’ve voted! 😉
It’s especially exciting for me to have been nominated because I missed out on so many blog events last year due to 2015 being particularly tough on this side of the screen, so it’s a really great start to the new year and I’m so optimistic about what this year has in store for me and everyone I love. The chance to win a UK Blog Award would be the icing on the cake and I’m thrilled that someone even nominated me! Please do stop by my profile page and give me a vote, and let me know if you DO vote by leaving me a comment below and I’ll email you a free copy of my recipe Ebook as a thank you and send loads of virtual hugs too!Love and hugs to everyone who reads my blog and supports my thrifty lifestyle, you guys are the best!
I don’t know if you remember, but back in June I wrote about a piece of research I’d read about the career and life goals of women. It seemed to be talking directly to me as it looked into the dreams of the participants and gave an insight into the timescale that women today aim to live their lives by. After reading that three-quarters are women are dissatisfied with their achievements I began thinking about my own life and the things I want to achieve. It gave me a renewed vigour and I wrote about how I wanted to develop my writing career and branch out into new areas, such as writing for different types of websites, magazines and newspapers. So I wrote this ambition, along with a personal goal of learning to swim, on a Post-It note and stuck it to my dressing table mirror so that I would see it every day. I hoped that this would keep me on track as I started working towards these goals and now I want to report back about how I got on.
Well, this week I started on a journalism course. Yes, I signed up, I went ‘back to school’ and I took my first class towards getting a journalism qualification. But that’s not all I’ve been doing towards my goals over the summer; I’ve studied on an online community journalism course and I’ve been writing lots more copy than usual – making sure that I write something every day. I’ve written a couple of articles for other blogs including a more technical piece than usual for The Fairy Blog Mother and a careers article for EventManagementStudent.com. Also, I’ve been SO lucky to be shortlisted for a Cosmopolitan Blog Award! And next week on Tuesday the 7th October I’ll find out how I got on in the Best Lifestyle Blog category. Just knowing that some more readers might be stopping by my blog as a result of this has made me up my game and be certain that I am completely happy with my articles before they are published. In the past I’ve been a little slack with my proofreading but now I make sure I double-check my spelling and grammar. It’s amazing how often I’ve found mistakes such as duplicate words and misplaced hyphens in my work! When I got the news that I’d been shortlisted, I decided to write an article about why I started my blog in the first place and even writing the this post made me realise just how much I want to achieve this goal and follow my dream. Having that Post-It note reminder has definitely helped me to stay on track so far!
I actually entered the competition by Post-it (who commissioned the research report that I originally read) and encouraged my friends to do the same. The prize is £1500 and it’s called the ‘Make It Happen’ campaign: it’s as simple as writing your dream on a post-it and uploading a photo of it to the website, or even just typing in your goal online here: http://makeithappen.post-it.co.uk and use the Twitter hashtag #postitbrandhappen. I found out that the competition will continue to run until the end of November so there is plenty of time to get your entries in! I checked out the previous winners (one each month so far) and here are some quotes from The Thinking Woman’s Coach and Post-it® spokesperson Jessica Chivers about why they won:
Winner One: “I’ve chosen Caroline Collins who would like to take 48 Raft Foundation volunteers to Kew Gardens. Caroline’s ‘Make it Happen’ is about doing something for others who are in turn doing something for others in their community. There’s so much good feeling being spread here. I wish them a terrific day at Kew learning things relevant to Raft Foundation’s “Grow Wild” project.”
Winner Two: “I would like to select Mark Stapleton who wanted to take Stacksteads Band to the final of a competition in Cheltenham. Music gives pleasure to so many and the band is very active – I think it would be great to fund their ongoing success and wish them well in the competition.”
Winner Three: “I’d like the winner to be Samuel Fairman who looks as though he wants to make it possible for him to go sailing in a wheelchair. I loved his creative ‘ask’ for the money – the Post-its shaped into a boat and a wheelchair in the picture, and the sense of positive resolve to carry on striving and achieving even when things might not be so straightforward.”
I’m carefully avoiding telling you how I got on with my personal goal of learning to swim, and that’s probably because I didn’t do much towards it since June. Okay, I went swimming a couple of times and I practiced a little more underwater swimming than usual. In fact, now that I’m thinking about it, I usually need a nose-clip and goggles to be able to swim, but this year I learnt how to put my face underwater and swim without a nose-clip. For someone who has never ever put their head underwater in the bath before last year, I think that’s not too bad. I’m getting better at swimming, and practice makes perfect so I guess I’ll just carry on swimming whenever I get the chance and stick at it. One day I’ll be able to do those Olympic turns at the end of the pool!
Have you been learning any new skills recently? What would you like to achieve between now and the end of the year? Let me know in the comments below. And have you entered the Make It Happen competition yet? If not, do it now because it’s so simple – just one sentence could change your life! Good luck with it and with following your own dreams too 🙂
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?’.
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 🙂
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 TED.com – 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 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!
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?