July has certainly been an interesting month – a bit hit and miss in terms of getting things achieved on the blog, but despite this I've had some great successes. Pot luck you could say.
On the downside, I got totally distracted by the lovely present I got for my birthday, work was super crazy and I had a few health issues to top it all off.
So I’ve decided that I need to make some big changes that impact how I work moving forward – and this includes coming up with a decent schedule.
First though, I need some rest, so I’m taking a couple of weeks off next month to relax, reorganise and rejuvenate.
Take note: no matter how much of a ‘Wonder Woman’ we all are most days, we all need to take time out sometimes – it does wonders for the mind and soul.
Out and about
In July I met up with my pal Kerry from Kerry, Life and Loves. We were supposed to hook up at Bluewater Shopping Centre, but then we both got invites to the NEXT Christmas event in London, so we decided to meet up in town instead.
At the event they had a fashion panel to discuss Christmas trends for this year and what people will be wearing for the party season.
If I’m honest, I felt totally out of my depth. The words ’Lauretta’ and ‘fashion’ have never before been spoken in the same sentence and I can’t imagine that they ever will.
I’ve ALWAYS gone for comfort above style and I always will. I’m not interested in sky high killer heels or what shape skirt I should be wearing this season. Give me a pair of comfy jeans, some trainers and a cool tee and I’m ready to roll.
But on this occasion, I wondered what harm could be done in listening to the panel of experts, who consisted of editors from newspapers and fashion magazines, as well as the fashion buyer for NEXT.
As we took our seats and the panel was being introduced, a thought suddenly went through my head: ‘Oh shit, what if they pick me out of the audience?’.
Given that Kerry and I were sitting on the front row, the probability of this happening was fairly high.
Now normally I’d have absolutely no problem in being picked out of a crowd– the more that I can learn in any given situation, the better as far as I’m concerned.
But fear had rooted me to the spot; as I sat there admiring the four glamorous women in their carefully curated outfits sitting (perfectly poised) before me, it suddenly dawned on me what I was actually wearing.
Of all the outfits that I could possibly have chosen to wear to a dedicated fashion event, I chose one that cost me less than a lunch time meal deal at Boots – and that’s including my sandals from Shoe Zone! Oh gawd….Versace would be turning in his grave if he knew.
My print trousers were from Poundland and my top was from Peacocks. I shit you not.
The offending outfit
In fact, I’m surprised the lovely PR ladies didn’t clock me and my offending clobber as I signed myself into the venue. Come to think of it, had it not been for Kerry looking so lovely and us walking in together, they might have just done that.
When I was sure that I was safe from being singled out, I figured that paying attention to what was being said might actually do me some good.
So here’s what I learned…
- Always wear nice underwear (it makes you feel better inside even though no one else can see it)
- Use accessories to boost an outfit and dress it up/down – use belts, jewellery, scarfs etc
- Pre-plan outfits so that you don’t end up rushing and regretting your outfit – especially when going to events.
- The big trends for Christmas are that it’s all about the sparkle. Think sequined tops and shoes – but it’s important to adapt the outfit to suit your personality. This season’s animal prints also have longevity; it’s always a good idea to look for clothes that you’d be happy to wear in 2 or 3 seasons’ time.
- Build your core wardrobe with some really interesting pieces.
- If you feel uncomfortable in something, people will be able to tell. This was probably my favourite tip, as I always opt for comfort above fashion. Getting the two of the right would be brilliant of course.
- If you’re going out, think about what you’re going to wear on top of your outfit. A stole is nice with occasion wear or an opera coat (which is A-line with shorter sleeves) and shows off accessories.
- Never underestimate the power of a statement earring – it can be a confidence booster.
My big learning lesson from attending the event was definitely number 3. I could have sworn that the fashion editor who was dishing out this advice looked me square in the eye and held my gaze for a little longer than necessary as she was telling us this. Mmmmhhh.
It was all quiet on the collaboration front this month; not because I didn’t have any offers, but because I had to turn them down due to a super heavy workload in the day job.
In fact, sponsored posts have taken a huge back seat this month and I imagine August will be similar.
I’m hoping to start taking on more projects in September when the kids are back at school and I can get myself into a bit of a routine.
I still keep getting emails though about guest posts – even though I clearly state on my blog (in my ‘About’ section) that I’m not accept guest posts at the moment. Maybe I should put this on my ‘Out Of Office’ email response:
“Hi – thanks so much for your email! I’m sorry that I’m unable to come straight back to your email; I’m currently out and about, but once I’m back at my desk, you’ll get my undivided attention! Oh and by the way, I don’t accept guest posts. Cheers, Lauretta.”
Bit direct? Yeah, you’re probably right.
In saying all of this, I did, however, have the opportunity to comment on what I thought were the three biggest interior design trends in 2019 for Novus Homes – here’s the article if you’re interested in reading it.
In the charts (HIBS)
Well I never. So there I was back in October last year celebrating my leap into the Top 100 on HIBS before taking a huge nose dive and ending up way into the 200s (probably) for the months that followed, before gradually starting to climb up again.
And then, out of nowhere (I remember the date being such a joyous occasion – 10th July), I spotted that I had entered the top 50 – taking up the 32nd spot.
This means that somehow (and don’t ask how – I really don’t know) I jumped up 48 spots since last month.
However, I’m very aware that by the time this post is published, I might have gone back up, so I took a quick screen grab to prove it.
Next goal? Hit the Top 10. Never say never!
My epic fail this month was the fact that although I managed to publish 5 blog posts, they were all rushed and all very last minute. But I suppose I expected as much with the heavy workload in the day job.
The stress I've faced this month at work has been overwhelming on a few occasions – and that's saying a lot as I'm usually hardened to anything that can go wrong work-wise.
As a result I've ended up with more migraines than I can shake a stick at. Health-wise, it has been my worse one yet with a bad back, aching foot and a pulled muscle in my calf as a result of not warming up properly before a game of badminton.
Also, I haven’t made any progress with a few of the tasks I set myself at the beginning of the year.
And the more I look at what I had wanted to accomplish by July, the more despondent I feel. So a rethink on how I’m going to better plan my working week is definitely on the cards.
I WILL get better at this.
My vlogging channel
Having said this, I did put together 2 vlogs in July, which is great considering I spent a week on holiday in Germany. (In fact, as I write this post I’m lying on the bed in the Freiburg Appartements taking a quick breather from all the sightseeing we’ve been doing!)
My monthly linky #SnappedUp seems to be taking off lately – and I couldn’t be happier.
I started the linky back in February 2017 and I really struggled to get it off the ground. I studied other linkies, sought advice from friends and even had my friend Cal from Family Makes help run it with me for a while.
At one point I was ready to give it up for good. Every week I was promoting it round the clock and was only attracting a few participants. I wondered what the point was when it took up so much of my time.
But I persevered – and it might just have started to pay off. My July Linky attracted 11 participants all in less than a week of launching (with the current count at 18), so it looks like things are on the up – I now just have to keep up the momentum.
I think this is an important learning lesson for anyone looking to start a linky – or even a new section on their site…you won’t find overnight success, but if you’re in it for the long run, then don’t try to run!
And remember, The Harder The Battle, The Sweeter The Victory!
I’ve added the headline of ‘Income Report’ in my blogging month as I’ve started experimenting a little with affiliate marketing.
So I’ve started posting a few social media posts with affiliate links. And although I have signed up to a few affiliate schemes, I mostly use Awin as I find it the easiest to use.
So, in last month’s report, I made the grand total of £3.05 in commission and I’m pleased to say I’ve seen a mini rise this month – to a whopping £10.31 in cleared balance – woooohoooo!!!
But it gets even better. There’s a ‘pending balance’ of £64.59 after 30 transactions.
Now I’m not sure this pending balance will ever get cleared, but that’s not what’s on my mind.
What I’m thinking is how I can make affiliate marketing scalable. If I can increase my ‘cleared balance’ by more than 200% from one month to the next (from £3.05 to £10.31), who knows where I can take it.
I mean, imagine what could happen when I’m making in excess of £3K a month? Never say never, remember?
Back to reality, and after a bit of research I discovered that 29 of the transactions that were made were via Whittard of Chelsea.
And I think I’ve pinpointed the exact post that helped make this happen; given the crazy hot weather we’ve been having lately, I can see how people’s imagination’s might have been sparked by the Mango Passion Fruit Tea I raved about as a cold drink in my June Favourite Finds.
The other single transaction was made via Prezzybox who do a great range of giftware, gadgets and novelty items.
So there are two learning lessons that I can share from my own affiliate marketing experience here.
- Only promote products that you would use yourself. That’s how I roll and if I didn’t like something I simply wouldn’t promote it.
- It helps to be able to give a story about why you like a particular product. How did it make you feel? Why would you buy it? What problem does it solve? Share your experiences and always be honest.
Blogging Month: July At A Glance
What was great? The linky picking up, my affiliate earnings & the HIBs leap.
What wasn’t? A spot of ill health, not much blogging done & a busier than usual day job.
Goals for August: Write what I can, catch up on the housework and then relax for a couple of weeks, ready to hit the ground running in September.