Friday, November 28, 2014

What I Learned from Taking a Blogging Break

Friday, November 28, 2014
What I Learned from Taking a Blogging Break

While I was in New York I didn't think about this place at all. I scheduled a week's worth of content and just.. switched off. I didn't receive email notifications, I didn't check comments, I didn't read any blogs and I didn't check up on my own. When I got back it felt like I'd pushed a "refresh" button.

Taking a break from blogging made me realise a few things.



There are things I want to write about
I had already been working on a content change and refocus but taking a break forced me to put this under a microscope when I returned. I realised I had shifted the focus from one niche to another when really what I want to do is to reflect the blog's title better: the private life of a girl. I want to write more about everything. I want to include work, life, and travel, I don't want to pigeonhole it into one niche.


I need to take more photographs
My time in NYC reaffirmed my love for taking photographs and has encouraged me to go more places, do more things, and document it better. I feel I have been missing out by not sharing those more personal travel posts.


I should try new things
I feel like I need to make more effort and be more playful with content, not just on the blog but in other areas. I've installed time-lapse software onto my Canon 550d and started using Vine, which means a whole heap of new ideas to play with.


Having notifications switched off is a really good thing
I always turn email and other notifications off while I'm on holiday or at work but this time they are permanently staying switched off. I now have to manually check them, which makes a huge difference to my daily life and productivity.


The competition is all in your head and you don't have to be a part of it
I've already written about my frustrations with blogging and what I feel it's all really about. Time away from the "blogging scene" gave me a little perspective, calmed me down and focused my energy elsewhere.


Stop hate-reading
This is an awful one to admit to but I think, secretly, we all do it. It's a waste of time and energy, let's cut it out.


I actually enjoy reading blogs and missed replying to comments
I missed the interaction caused by my blog posts and conversations I have elsewhere on others. I've realised I want to seek out more lifestyle blogs I can relate to and I'm looking for inspiration in more positive places.

Thursday, November 27, 2014

How I Quit My Day Job: Q&A

Thursday, November 27, 2014
How I Quit My Day Job: Q&A

I was asked so many questions after telling you all about how I quit my day job I decided to write this follow-up Q&A. I tried to keep my answers as succinct as possible and if you still have questions, I'll try to answer them in the comments section.


What is your educational background?
I studied Media and Film along with English, Psychology, and Geography at A Level in college and I went on to gain a university degree in Media and Popular Culture where I specifically focused on advertising, branding, and social media.


Did you take any courses to learn jewellery making?
I am completely self-taught and haven't taken any courses to study jewellery design or craftsmanship nor business management. I believe my self-taught skills in web coding and my degree in media has been incredibly beneficial to the success of my business since branding is a huge focus of my business model. I also learned a lot by using free resources.


Were you scared of opening a business?
I think I would have been if I had realised that building a business was what I was doing, but I saw it as a hobby for so long that by the time I realised Oh My Clumsy Heart could be a business, it already was a business. I didn't give it much thought, which means I didn't get the chance to be scared or doubt what I was doing.


Were you scared of failure?
No, because I had (and still have) huge faith and confidence in the products I was creating and selling. You need to be confident and proud of the work you do. If you're not confident of your skills and the business you are creating, how can you expect anyone else to be? I never thought "this is not going to work," I never doubted that I was going to succeed. I knew I was creating great products, it was just a case of working hard to get them noticed. The only time I felt unsure was when I took the leap of faith to become full time self-employed; I never doubted the business but I did fear the "what if's."


Why did you quit Etsy?
This is a question I feel deserves an entire post all of its own because the reasons for quitting Etsy are quite complex. In essence, I found Etsy incredibly restrictive for anyone who wishes to run a business rather than a hobby shop. Etsy has changed a lot since I quit and even before then it had already started to change, I saw those changes coming and it made me want to leave. It's now very competitive and there are a lot of outside influences that stand in the way of your shop being a success; the SEO algorithm changes far too frequently and it's become a game of jumping through hoops. There are a lot of "Etsy politics" and it's not really handmade orientated anymore, which is a shame because it used to be an amazing platform for independent start-ups.


How realistic is it for your passion to become your job?
As realistic as you make it. Not everyone will succeed but if you work hard, have confidence, and are willing to learn and adapt quickly then you give yourself the best chance possible of making it work. Not everyone is cut out to be their own boss and run their own business, ideas won't always work and products don't always sell. Running your own business is tough, it requires huge dedication, hard work, and patience.


How much income do you generate through your business?
This is another question I feel deserves a post of it's own - creative incomes, not my personal income! - but I'm not quite sure how I want to deal with it just yet. I'm not entirely comfortable sharing details of my own personal income but I do think we need to talk more about money in the creative community. I don't feel the option to run your own business or become self-employed is discussed enough at a young age, it's not seen as a viable option, which is ridiculous. People need to know you can earn a really good wage from running your own business, that getting stuck in a traditional 9-to-5 isn't the only option - you can make a career for yourself, doing the thing that you love, and it doesn't mean you have to live like a "struggling artist." But to answer the question as truthfully as I can without revealing exactly how much I earn: my business earns me more money per month than I have ever earned in my entire life - even when I was working a full time marketing job alongside my business.


What books did you find helpful or inspiring?
I wrote a recommended reading list for creatives awhile back but I would specifically encourage you to read Ignore Everybody by Hugh Macleod and Steal Like An Artist by Austin Kleon. If you're looking for specific handmade designer-maker books I'd suggest The Handmade Marketplace as a good starting point.


What resources did you find helpful?
I wrote a list of useful links for business marketing but specifically The Independent Retail Academy and The Design Trust were the most influential resources I used. I'd also recommend googling everything and using YouTube to teach you skills you'd like to learn, for free. I'd recommend steering well clear of any e-courses, everyone seems to be shilling these lately and I've yet to see one that offers anything worth the price tag. You can learn everything you need to know about running your own business and blogging for free if you spend time researching online - I know because that's how I did it. If you need help finding information on something, please ask me and I'll try to help as much as possible.


Where do you buy the resources for jewellery making?
Finding resources and suppliers takes a lot of time and effort, it's a huge part of running an independent business and, in such a competitive market, discovering supplies - like gorgeous gemstones - can be worth their weight in gold. I'm enthusiastic about helping other small independents and start-ups but sharing this kind of information is counterproductive. It's all part of the learning process of running your own business and something we all have to discover on our own.


How did the blog come about? Was it jewellery first or blog first?
Oh My Clumsy Heart came first; I had been blogging for years before I created The Private Life of a Girl but not consistently or with any kind of dedication. I suggested I might write a beauty blog to some friends and they all encouraged me to do it, so I did.


Have you changed focus at all on the blog since you went full time self employed?
Yes, but it was a natural development rather than a forced one. I realised I was becoming more passionate when it came to writing about what I do daily - my job, my lifestyle - rather than just the beauty and fashion aspects of it. I originally started the blog as a pure beauty blog and slowly added new topics like fashion and books, and now I'm adding more and more creative lifestyle content. I think it's a natural progression and a sign of a healthy blog.


How does the blog feature in the future of the business?
The blog has been hugely influential when it comes to the business; I blog because I enjoy it, not just to enable the business to grow, but it definitely helps reach wider audiences. I never want it to become a giant advert for Oh My Clumsy Heart, that isn't what this is about, so if The Private Life of a Girl is going to continue, it will continue as its own entity not as a marketing prop.


{ how I quit my day job }

Wednesday, November 26, 2014

3 Things I Learned From The Glug Talks

Wednesday, November 26, 2014
Things I Learned From The Glug Talks

I recently attended Glug Birmingham 'Midland Masters #2', a series of informal networking events featuring talks by local designers, makes, creators, and illustrators alongside workshops, live drawing, a pop-up market, and street food.

You can listen to and watch some of the talks online but I would encourage you to book tickets to the next event. If you're not local, Glug is going global; keep an eye on the website for talks near you.


Here are a few pieces of advice I took away from the event and the talks given.

You can stay true to your original ideas; you don't have to sell out to work with big companies.
- Dr Sophie Dauvois, Co-Founder of Okido

Learn from your mistakes; there isn't one single job that will "make you" or be your "big break." It's always a learning curve, you will always be growing - don't be complacent. Put yourself out there and keep working.
- Ben Javens

There will always be someone bigger than you, better than you, and more skilled than you so don't let that stop you doing what you want to do.
- Florence Blanchard

Tuesday, November 25, 2014

15 Blogging Mistakes

Tuesday, November 25, 2014
Blogging Mistakes

1. Starting a blog purely for fame or profit
2. Accepting everything that is offered (from samples to sponsorship)
3. Forgetting the purpose of the blog
4. Sticking to one niche or covering too many
5. Following the crowd instead of trying something new
6. Writing purely for mass appeal
7. Giving advice instead of opinions without having authority or credibility
8. Being impatient for readership growth
9. Not having a blogging schedule or editorial calendar
10. Quantity over quality; publishing daily when there isn't enough content
11. Not spell-checking or learning from grammatical errors
12. Not understanding the audience or who the blog is reaching out to
13. Blogging without goals or a clear purpose
14. Being overly promotional on social media
15. Talking and not listening by not replying to comments

Monday, November 24, 2014

The Second A/W Purchase: MUJI Shirt Dress

Monday, November 24, 2014
The Second A/W Purchase: MUJI Shirt Dress
{ MUJI Slate Gray Shirt-Dress }

As much as I love this second purchase, there are some issues with it.

For A/W I'm trying to pay more attention to fabric; I want to make sure the items I purchase tick all the boxes in terms of quality, care, and creasing. Unlike my similar S/S COS purchase, this slate gray shirt dress from MUJI has a slightly thicker fabric and is made from tencel - a man-made fiber that is "resistant to creasing." But ugh, it's not. Every time I wear it, unlike my COS dress, it forms little creases in the fabric and tencel requires steaming (via the shower, in a hot bathroom not with a hand steamer), which would be fine if I didn't have to do this after every wear.. so impractical.

Aside from this (kind of major) issue, I love the fit and style and it's become one of those comfortable pieces I reach for frequently, even if it means putting up with the creases.

{ the minimal wardrobe series }

Sunday, November 23, 2014

American Museum of Natural History

Sunday, November 23, 2014
American Museum of Natural History
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American Museum of Natural History
American Museum of Natural History
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American Museum of Natural History
American Museum of Natural History
American Museum of Natural History


I have visited a lot of natural history museums and this - the American Museum of Natural History - is possibly the best. Full of the most amazing dioramas dating back to the 1920s; incredible attention has been paid to the backgrounds with skilled taxidermy framed by heavy wood and metal plaques, I was in total awe. I have to admit, the American Museum of Natural History was one of the main reasons I wanted to visit New York and it totally didn't disappoint.

Saturday, November 22, 2014

Stationery Supplies

Saturday, November 22, 2014
Stationery Supplies

I'm a minimalist through and through and when it comes to stationery I like to keep things classic. There are two places I turn to to get my fix - MUJI and The Fox and Star.

MUJI has a range of incredibly minimal notepads that keeps things simple and chic. I keep jotter pads on both my office and studio desks for scribbling ideas, rough sketches, and notes to self, and two simple black A5 notebooks to keep track of anything and everything to do with work and the blog. Their range of office accessories are neat, minimal in design, and high quality, which is why they litter my desk.

The Fox and Star is a reseller of stationery from a range of brands including my favourites: Livework, Seeso, and Paperways. While I do the majority of my planning online via digital calendars and apps, I find writing things down is a better way of committing them to memory. A desk planner is something I always keep to hand to remind me of the most important tasks for the day and I keep a classic school style notebook for more personal entries.

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